Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A mobile side show

A mobile side show.That’s how I most frequently describe our family outings nowadays.
I have never been more embarrassed, more out-of-control, more amused than I have ever been during some of our most recent adventures.
There’s been talking to strangers, puking, crying/whining, peeing, escapees, laughter, loud talking and more puking.
Typically, when we go “out” on an errand, Matt will go in, and I will be referee of the car. Since we aren’t that cruel, we leave the windows down.
I don’t really talk to strangers that are walking by. I’m not a snot; I just don’t. My kids do. ANYBODY that walks within a one-mile radius of the Suburban is a victim (much to my horror).
They will say “hi” over and over again until the stranger will submit and come over to the window. Then, they will tell them random things (this is the most embarrassing part).
Since my children don’t know these people, their way to make conversation is to say things like: “You’ve got a big nose. Look at his nose, Mom.” Or other personal quesions like: “Who are you? What are you doing?” and on and on.
Most of the time, the strangers (thankfully) acknowledge them and then leave, but sometimes they stay and stay and stay and I want to (die die die).
Rylan (my trusty carsick child) got a little sickly on the way to Monett. Our plan didn’t change: rush to Burger King and then scarf the grease and ketchup in the ballfield parking lot before rushing to the game.
We ignored his moans and cries (I know, we are mean) besides giving him my stashed gallon Ziploc (which I keep for this EXACT situation).
The parking lot was full as we wedged our giant wagonful of fun into a space with people on both sides in their cars also eating dinner. Matt rolled down the windows just as Rylan gave way to the sickness.
Our neighbors paused from their meal to watch in horror. But it didn’t seem to faze my family. As soon as the engine was off, kids in the way back began hollering for ranch for their fries and others wanted their nuggets.
I kept passing back food and drinks while Rylan “finished.” I know the unfortunate couple next to us watched the entire show. Yep, mobile side show.
But, we survived. Rylan eventually ate, and then the show moved to the ballfield, where Masen conveniently (to him) relieved himself behind first base. Great.
Not even a week later, five of the six of us had dentist appointments in Aurora. And I had not replenished my Ziploc stash. And Rylan started to show the signs that he really needed one.
I looked at Matt helplessly.
“You’ve got to empty your purse.”
“NO! Really?” I begged.
“It’s either your purse or the car.”
So, I reluctantly emptied my bag (a more appropriate description of my giant “purse”) and held it as the devoted mother that I am while my 5-year-old blew that morning’s two glasses of milk and donuts into it. Lovely.
Felt like we were making a drug drop or something as we did a drive-by ditching into a trash can at an Aurora gas station.
The dentist’s office was very accommodating and gave Rylan time to re-brush his teeth and gave me a trash bag for my belongings.
Just another day.
As the children grow and are more obligated, our family side show is bound to change. Bound to travel more. The only thing I have come to expect is to expect the unexpected. That’s the only constant.
Oh, and to expect to be embarrassed. Again and again.

For posterity

For posterity’s sake, here’s an update on the current happenings of the Oehlschlager kids.
Seven-year-old Kadence, the eldest of our clan, is finishing up her first grade year of elementary school.
I have been shocked by the changes in our tallest baby. Besides all the lovely attitudes and the like she has been exposed to at public school, she is now (horror of horrors) learning to spell!
Those teachers have inadvertently ruined one of our greatest parental conveniences: “parent code” (when parents spell words so the kids don’t understand what they’re talking about).
Kadence has caught us off guard on more than one occasion by not only breaking our code, but by then announcing said secret to the three non-spellers.
Kadence also has become a leaver of notes. One day, Matt intervened in an altercation between Kadence and Bella. Justice sided with Bella, and Kadence escaped to cry it out in her room.
Not five minutes later, a crayon-covered Post-it note floated down the stairwell.
“Dear dad,
You are mean.
Love, Kadence”
Second-oldest Rylan, who is now 5, is nearing the end of his preschool year.
His days off are spent building Lego creations. He even built a carwash after I took him with me to wash the Suburban one day.
One day Bubby (Ry’s nickname) thought it would make sense to use blinkers when you are walking around like adults do when driving. He blinks (winks) to let us know which way he plans to “turn.”
His most recent achievement is learning to ride his bicycle without training wheels.
Bella Rose, 4, is the diva of the family. She is constantly performing, which you would never guess because she is also our shyest — by far!
I turn on the radio, and she sings and performs for literally hours. But as soon as she catches you watching, the show is over.
She is also VERY particular about her clothing. I was ordering shoes online for the kids the other day and she looked for a long time before finding just the right pair.
Bella is excited to start preschool next fall.
Three-year-old Masen, the fourth and final, is also the liveliest firecracker we have.
If it were socially acceptable to have children on leashes, Masen would definitely be a candidate. When he decides he wants to be somewhere, I can barely catch up with him. The boy can run!
He is very animated in his speech and cares very much about his few interests: lawn mowers and tractors.
Masen is also the toughest small person in our clan. It seems in any physical altercation (of which there are a lot of around here), Mae Mae comes out on top.
The only constant thing around here is activity. Life is in constant motion. With all six of our very strong personalities swirling around, the mood changes quickly from quiet playing to laughter to fists and tears.
Literally the only quiet moments are bedtime and naptime.
Thank goodness warmer days are near. Every day is better with a little fresh air.

Farm, sweet home

When Matt and I moved to downtown Hoberg in spring 2004, a house on the way caught my eye.
“I want to live there some day,” I prophetically told Matt.
But inside my head, the statement equated to nothing more than a dream.
The place was not fancy. It was old. Very old, in fact. And it needed lots of work and updating. But it had my two musts: lilac bushes and a porch swing.
Since the land we were renting was neighbor to my “dream place,” Matt eventually became friends with its owners, Kenneth and Faye.
He was a World War II veteran and the couple had raised their four kids (coincidentally two boys and two girls) on the farm.
We became fast friends with the couple, and Matt spent many hours soaking in the wisdom of the gentle veteran.
When Faye’s health began to fade, Kenneth devoted himself to her care, and after her death, he gave us the surprise of our lives.
“Matt, you can have my place,” Kenneth said.
A chance of a lifetime.
Over the next few months, Matt and I devoted hours and hours to making that chance into our reality.
We had nothing worth anything (at least from a banker’s perspective). I was pregnant with our third child. The chance for success was bleak.
But circumstances cannot stand in the way of fate.
Toward the end of my pregnancy, all the pieces began falling into place and we signed the mortgage papers seven days before Bella Rose was born.
Another child and three years later, it still baffles me that we actually live here.
Despite all the problems associated with owning an old home, it’s heaven on earth for me. I love it here.
It is so easy to feel close to God on a farm. Step outside. Take a deep breath. Gaze into the blue skies. Feel the cool breeze on your face. Get swallowed up in the vastness.
Our farm is the perfect distance from town. Far enough away Matt is comfortable and close enough for me to feel “connected.”
We have a big garden and lots of space for the kids (and the chickens and cows and dogs and cats and ducks) to roam.
I love the summer evenings on the porch swing shucking peas.
Large cups of cut lilacs scenting the wind blowing through the old windows.
Clothes flapping dry on the line.
Washing the kids off in the spigot after they played for hours in a mud hole by the well house.
The sound of calves weaning in the pen outside our bedroom window. (Not really a love of mine, but a reality I have to accept.)
Picking blackberries and apples straight from our backyard with the kids.
Watching Matt shoo cows out of our hay lot.
The sounds of the kids running (some sliding) down the stairs in the morning.
When we are here, it feels like home. I know walls don’t make a home. People do. Love does.
It all boils down to memories. Our history we are making today.
Life on this farm has given our children opportunities to see and feel and experience life.
And there’s not much more I could ask for in a house. In a home.