The IncredibLees

The Misadventures of a family of superheroes forced
to hide their secret super identities starring
"Mao Tse" Hannah (6-1/2),
Chris (8), John (also 8), Liz & Jeff


Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Big Ole Pile of Shift Work

I had a totally awesome rockin' day today.

I had a ton of work waiting for me, getting back-logged, and was able to go into work today (Saturday) because Jeff had the day off. At the last minute, I asked my eight-year-old son, Chris, if he would like to go to work with me. I knew no one else would be at the shop, and I hate being there alone. I had six windows to do, which could mean up to twelve hours.

He agreed, and we got him properly outfitted with stuff to do if he got bored (Nintendo DS, stuffed animals, markers, you get the picture.)

I figured he MIGHT last until around lunch time, playing his video game most of the time.

That boy clocked almost six hours actual work time, for which I am paying him, and never even took the Nintendo DS out of his pocket. He really worked, starting with finding boxes for me to pack the windows in once they're clean. Then he actually helped me clean the windows, and he is good at it.

When it was time to break for lunch, I had hoped to take him to a regular restaurant, but he REALLY wanted to go to McDonald's (ours has recently redecorated, and looks almost like a bistro!), so I gave in. He must have thanked me eight times for taking him to McDonald's. He said next time, I can take him to any restaurant I choose, as long as it's not a pizza place, because they are Daddy's competition.

We cleaned 5 out of the 6 windows (we're going in tomorrow for another hour) in record time.

If anyone is wondering why it took so long to clean these windows, I clean stained glass and leaded windows. It takes a lot of detail work, and a lot of razors.

I'm so proud of my boy!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Welcome (back)

Hello, my friends. It's been a long, long... long, long, long, long LONG long time.

Has anyone ever taken a 2-1/2 year break from blogging?

It's been a tough few years, but let's call it character-building, shall we? Here's what finally brought me back to the world of blogging. I need to talk about laundry.

This was brought about by a conversation among friends about intervention, waste, and laundry.

I need to point out at this juncture that when I talk about "conversations with friends," I am more than likely talking about discussions I have participated in on an internet message board with people I have never met, but have become familiar with the identities they put forth. You'll need to remember that for... ever.

SO. Someone asked ("Pee Jay," if you must know) what your personal episode of the TV show "Intervention" would be. "Mevin" asked what you are wasteful about. Another woman (to whom I closely identify aside from the fact that she is very, very neat, who has three children close in age to my own)asked about laundry habits.

It dawned upon me that the answer to all three questions for me was laundry. Okay, in retrospect, that doesn't answer the woman's question, but I was able to participate. Yay!

Having three young children, of course I do laundry quite often. If not every day, certainly every day. The wasteful part of my laundry problem is two-fold. The Intervention part comes in with the fabric softener. I used to abuse liquid Downy. I had a three-cup-a-load habit. When money got tight, I weaned myself off of that onto dryer sheets, but even then, I had to have a minimum of two new sheets per dryer load, added to all the previously salvaged sheets from prior loads. It's foggy, but I think at one point I had upwards of fifteen dryer sheets in the dryer.

But it didn't stop there. Here's where the wasteful part comes in. I like to fold the clothes warm out of the dryer when it buzzes so they don't have wrinkles (I don't iron, and BELIEVE ME that is an entire post on its own.) Having three young kids, the timing doesn't always work out that way. I have been known to re-dry clothes four times hoping to hit the wrinkle-less lottery. Dominion Power approves of my methods, and the neighbors never complain of the smell of fresh laundry coming from my vents!

This has been pretty wordy for a surprise re-entry into the blogosphere. I'll try to tone it down in the future.


Gotta turn the dryer on for another half hour.

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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Happy 6th Birthday, John and Chris!!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Sorry it took so long!

Well, we have two weeks of school under our belts now, and I have to say it is going very well. I was worried there would be a lot of oversleeping and missing the bus, because our whole family is nocturnal, but we have made it every day except one, and that was the second day, when the bus driver was at the stop a full fifteen minutes early. We got there a minute after she left. The first day she was twelve minutes early. The third day she was three minutes early (yay!). The fourth day she was seven minutes late. This week, she has been pretty much on time. Woo hoo!

The boys came home from their first day of school all excited about making a new friend on the bus. Chris said her name had "something to do with Alex," and she and John exchanged phone numbers -- on the first day! And I thought Chris was the smooth operator! Each day, when they came home, they told me excitedly about seeing their new friend from the bus again (it's Alexis, by the way, and she is in Chris' class.)

A new family has moved in down at the end of the cul-de-sac, and they have a son (I'll call him "A") going to kindergarten. Naturally, I hustled over there with a lasagna on their move-in day. "A" and the boys hit it off the very first day -- they all had Spider-Man backpacks. It was adorable!

I waited much too long to blog about this, so I have already forgotten so many things I wanted to immortalize here. John doesn't have many good things to say about school. He always asks me what I did while he was in school, and I try to make it sound as boring as possible, so he doesn't think he's missing out on anything. Jeff had lunch at the school with the boys this past Monday, and told me that a little girl there was all but throwing herself at John, and John was oblivious. Dad still takes precidence over chicks. I wonder when that will change?

Chris comes home with his mouth in fifth gear from the minute he steps off the bus, telling me about the great things they did in school that day (and that he saw His New Friend On The Bus again today). They have been learning a lot of songs, and Chris enjoys singing them to us, complete with jazz hands. Where is that darned camcorder??? I have GOT to get that recorded! Chris has his mother's innate ability to mis-hear song lyrics (the girl with colitis goes by?), so he sings about fishies "splishin' and a-splashin' and a-rockin' to the bee."

There is so much more I want to tell you -- too much for one entry, really, so I think I'll just string you along.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Pamper Me

I know y'all are just DYING to hear how the Kindergarten Orientation went on Thursday, but it was really quite uneventful, so instead, I bring you Diaper Day.

Child psychologists tell you it is quite common for children to regress into behaviors of their earlier years at times of great change, such as entering Kindergarten. This morning, John and Hannah decided that they were babies again. Chris, instead of regressing, has progressed into the role of their father. It is my layman's opinion that this turn of events has nothing to do with starting school next week, and everything to do with the fact that they stumbled across the long-forgotten stash of Pull-Ups and OverNights that I had tucked away on the shelf of Hannah's closet.

So, what does one do once they have rediscovered their infancy and have donned "dipies?" Why, they pee, of course! Hannah was able to accomplish this early on, before I suspected she would actually do it. Daddy Chris was responsible for changing her diaper (YES!), and once this task was done, Hannah stood next to me and I saw a far-away look in her eyes I haven't seen in about a year and a half. She was TRYING to pee in her "dipey" again. Incredulous, I said to her, "You're TRYING to pee, aren't you? I know you are, because I can see you making your trying-to-pee face!"

At this point, I took away their remaining Pull-Ups and OverNights, explaining that they can't waste them, they're very expensive. Huh? I don't know why I said that -- it's not like we need them anymore. But that started a new conversation with John. I told John when he was little, we went through thousands of diapers. He asked how we got so many diapers -- were we rich? So I told him, "Yes, back then Daddy and I both worked so that we could buy diapers."

You know, when you do the math... three kids, 2-1/2 years or so, maybe eight changes a day, that's around 25,000 diapers. Whenever someone scoffs that they are underpaid, from now on I'm going to retort, "Oh yeah? Well I was working for diapers!"

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

I Declared a Holiday

We missed the bus.

I stayed up way too late designing adorable oversized T-shirts with glitter-glue painted artist's palettes and the kids' names on them for art session in school (picture to follow), and eating Dove Chocolates with Caramel. Word of warning -- if you ever get a bag of these, take out two or three chocolates for yourself, then hide the bag and forget where you put it, immediately. When I woke up this morning, every time I shifted, all I heard was the "crinkle crinkle crinkle" of tiny tin foil wrappers with inspirational messages like "Go ahead, eat another, you could USE a little more junk in your trunk."

Monday, August 29, 2005

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

Well, we had our first practice run this morning for getting ready for school. Last night, putting the boys to bed, I told them that they were starting school in one week, so this would be our practice week. I told them they had better go to sleep right away, because I was going to wake them up early in the morning to get ready. They have an alarm clock in their room, so naturally they wanted it set so they could get up by themselves, then come wake me up. The conversation:

What time do we need to get up?
I'm going to wake you up at 7:00. Maybe 6:30.
What if we wake up at five o'clock?
That's too early (little did I know.)
What if we wake up at one o'clock?
I'll set your alarm for six-thirty.

The boys are adamant that they are going to wake up before me, then come wake me up. I don't know where they got this idea, as I am usually on my third cup of coffee by the time they feel their way down the stairs. Chris usually wakes up ready to catch a tiger (and sometimes dressed for it, as well.) John always needs more time to clear the cobwebs out of his head and flatten down the hair that's sticking straight out on the left side of his head.

My alarm didn't go off this morning, but Jeff caught sight of the clock at 6:38 this morning and let me know (he was visibly shocked last night when I told him of my plans to practice getting ready for school and asked him to set the alarm for six-thirty.) I hopped out of bed (this is my story -- I hopped -- practically sprang!) I went directly to the boys' room (do not pass coffee machine, do not collect 200 mg of caffeine) to see that their own alarm clock had not phased them in the least. Without turning off their alarm, I began trying to wake them (admittedly, not something I have done more than a handful of times.) Let me tell you, this was no easy feat, with thoughts of Shaken Baby Syndrome floating around in the back of my mind. I managed to get a breakfast order out of them, and told them I expected them at the breakfast table in five minutes. John came down with me immediately.

At this point, some of you may be thinking it would be more efficient for me to decide on breakfast myself and slap it on the table rather than play short order cook. Trust me when I tell you it takes much less time to prepare two breakfasts to order than to try and convince a child (let alone two!) to eat something he doesn't have a taste for. Once I had breakfast on the table I had to go upstairs and pull the old "whisk the covers off the sleeping child" on Chris.

They were at the table eating breakfast by 7:00, not too bad. Chris wanted to be graded on his breakfast eating performance, so I gave him a B+. He didn't eat a lot, but enough, and he didn't get out of his chair once. They were dressed in their "handsome clothes" and socks by around 7:30. Again, not too bad. I don't know what time the bus will be picking them up, but right now I am estimating 7:40. We just need to add brushing teeth, putting on shoes, and fixing bed head. Maybe I'm over-confident, but I think we're going to have this nailed by Wednesday. I also think it's going to be pretty easy to get the boys to sleep earlier this evening, considering I woke them up a good two hours earlier than they're used to. Bonus!

At the end of today's time trial (can't you just see me crouching next to the breakfast table, pony-tailed hair in baseball cap, stopwatch in hand?) we talked about riding the bus. Chris talked a lot about making friends and sitting with friends. I talked them into finding seats in the front of the bus, close to the driver (because the big kids always head straight for the back.) Say, why don't school busses have seat belts, anyway?

So. That's this morning's excitement. Stay tuned for tomorrow's report. John has pole position, but I don't know what's going to happen once Hannah joins the pit crew.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

We're Outta Here!

We're loading up the... minivan and heading off for a fabulous weekend excursion in the beautiful mountains of Northern Virginia. Hopefully, we'll get to visit with Uncle John before we leave. We'll be back Monday with tales of our trip, so...

Y'all come back now, ya hear?

Friday, August 12, 2005

Here's New Stuff To Read

Overheard recently:

Chris: My Spider-sense tangled, so I dumped down real quick!

Hannah: See ya later, crocodile.

John: What’s a “panty ray?”

Hannah: (Playing with her toy horsies) Run, Diarrhea! Run like the wind!

The beginning of school is getting closer and closer, faster and faster. We did our school shopping this week, for supplies and new clothes. It seems like a large enough list of things you are required to bring, but when you multiply that by twins, it’s downright daunting. Twenty-four gluesticks? A hundred Ziploc bags? Six boxes of crayons? One and a half quarts of glue? HOW many pencils? What do you mean, “Already sharpened?!?!” OK! Fine! But send my kids home ALREADY GRANTED A SCHOLARSHIP TO AN IVY LEAGUE SCHOOL!

So, we got the boys new duds for kindergarten. Their first button-up (all the way down the front) shirts. Belts. Chris is loving it. As soon as he saw his new clothes hanging in his closet, he wanted to wear them, and told me he wishes he could go to school NOW. I suggested he wait until school to wear his school clothes, so they wouldn’t get dirty. He had other plans.

Later that day, he came downstairs dressed in his new slacks, button-down shirt and belt. He had that flirty look in his eye -- the look that says, “I feel SOOOOOOOO good-lookin’!! Don‘t you wish you could marry me?” He spent a few minutes with us to let us tell him how wonderful he looked, then went into the bathroom, climbed up on the counter to reach the hairbrush, and emerged minutes later with a suave hairstyle and his collar turned up. His collar turned up!! Where did he learn that? And didn’t people stop doing that about 15 or 20 years ago? He leans in close to me and whispers, “I think I am going to wear this when I go on my first date.” The night before, after a shower and a fine job brushing his hair, he informed me that I may call him “Chris The Handsome Boy” if I like, sometimes. Today, he has decided that he would like to be called “Christopher” from now on. He was dressed in his finery again today, and had to keep “going to work” all day long.

My little boy is growing up, and soon graduating from lifeguards to teachers, I think.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Dr. Seuss, Move Over!

That Mom-I-Am.
That Mom-I-Am.
I'm hungry now,
My Mom-I-Am.

Oh,no. We're out of white bread. He wants Dipping Eggs with Toast, and we are out of white bread. What to do, what to do?

Would you like Dipping Eggs with Toasted Bagel?

I do not like Toasted Bagel.
I will not eat them, you can't finagle.

Would you like them here or there?

I would not like them here or there.
I would not like them anywhere.
I do not like Toasted Bagel.
I will not eat them, you can't finagle.

Would you like them at the sink?
Would you like them next to Link?

I would not like them at the sink.
I would not like them next to Link.
I would not like them here or there.
I would not like them anywhere.
I do not like Toasted Bagel.
I will not eat them, you can't finagle.

Would you like them served on tip-toe?
Would you like them watching Krypto?

Not served on tip-toe.
Not watching Krypto.
Not at the sink.
Not next to Link.
I would not eat them here or there.
I would not eat them anywhere.
I do not like Toasted Bagel.
I will not eat them, you can't finagle.

Would you? Could you?
With Danny Phantom?
Eat them! Eat them!
Don't throw a tantrum!

I would not,
Could not,
With Danny Phantom.

You may like them.
The Hero of Time
Eats them every
Morning at nine.

If you let me be,
I will try them.
You will see.

Say! I like this Toasted Bagel!
I do! I like it! What's a dreidel?
And I will dip them in my eggs!
And share them with Daddy Long Legs!

And I would eat them served on tip-toe.
And I would eat them watching Krypto.
And at the sink.
And next to Link.
They are so good, so good, I think!

And I will eat them here or there.
Say! I will eat them anywhere.

They are so yummy.
May you please
Make more for my tummy?

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Look What Hannah Did Today

Her reason?

"I wanted to be a different girl."

And here is "The Save" :

Saturday, July 30, 2005

You're OUT!!

Thursday was the Annual Applebee's Summer Picnic. It was held at a park about ten minutes from where we live, and we had good weather for it. The park had a playground (with an ENORMOUS pile of mulch in the middle!!!), baseball diamond, volleyball area, and picnic area with grills all over. It was nicely wooded, and the kids were lucky enough to find a salamander and two frogs (more on the frogs later, if I can remember to get back to it.)

There was another couple there with an adorable little girl, almost three years old. We were all over at the playground equipment, watching the kids play and chatting. The little girl's father talked about how active she is, and how much she likes to move. He told us he is enrolling her in dance classes. Jeff responded, "We're enrolling Hannah in Anger Management classes."

The boys got to be pinch runners in the softball game, and apparently Hannah was the umpire, because she threw Jeff out of the game in true in-your-face umpire fashion. I don't think I've ever seen an umpire pull the crocodile tears card, though. Sheer genius. I think if more umps tried that, they wouldn't be so universally detested and maligned. "No, I'm NOT blind... the tears were blurring my vision!"

At the end of the evening, the kids had managed to hold on to one of the thumbprint-sized frogs they had found, and begged me to let them take him home. Okay, so we make it home with Kermit intact, but the kids were covered from head to toe in -- naturally -- mulch. They needed to be hosed off and bathed, pronto. I don't know what I was thinking, but they managed to talk me into letting them take a cool bath so that Kermit could join them. Yup. That little bugger was really a great swimmer, but after such an exciting evening, he really just preferred to hang out on dry hand.

The kids all learned a bunch that day about tadpoles, frogs, and amphibians in general. Before bedtime, we released Kermit into our backyard, as I explained to the kids that some animals simply cannot survive away from their natural habitat. I answered a lot of questions about frogs that evening, and discovered that "because he's a frog" is a perfectly acceptable answer to most of those questions.

I wonder if this is how it all started for Lois Lane? If you haven't read her blog, Home Fires, you are missing some really good stuff. Thanks to my good friend Z for helping me link her in this post!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Yesterday was a busy day -- lots of running around, in 100 degree heat, no less. Hannah had her check-up at the pediatrician. You may recall, the boys had their check-up just two weeks ago, so their vaccination shots were still fresh in their memory. I did my best all morning not to mention to any of the kids that Hannah was going to the doctor that morning, but the second word got out, every other word out of the boys' mouths was "shot" or "poke." Hannah was not happy about this at all, and when Hannah is not happy, we all look into a witness relocation program.

So I pull the boys aside and explain to them that they need to be good big brothers and help Hannah feel more comfortable about her visit to the doctor. They immediately shift their focus, recalling other parts of their own doctor visit. John said "You might not get any shots. Maybe they'll just squeeze your bones." Chris chimed in with, "You know what they want you to do? You have to pee in a cup! Hannah can't pee in a cup, she's a girl!"

As it turns out, Hannah was having a ball at her examination. The doctor has a hopscotch mat in the room that Hannah couldn't get enough of. She laughed as it tickled when the doctor put the otoscope in her ears. She loved singing the alphabet with her, counting to ten, and answering questions about numbers. She thought it was great when she was asked to draw pictures. Now, Hannah isn't much into drawing. She mostly scribbles, so when she was asked to draw a man, I was not surprised to see her alien-dog-man creature with arms and legs sticking out all over the place. She drew hair on him, telling the doctor that he is bald, and then drew a treat in his hand.

Then the party was over. In came the nurse. They make the parent sit the child in their lap, and give them a bear-hug. This sounds like perhaps it is to comfort the child while she is getting shots (four of them!), but in reality, it's to prevent the child from kicking and swinging at the nurse. By shot number three, I was ready to take a swing at her myself.

No, seriously, the nurse was great, and she did it all so quickly and kept the banter going to help distract Hannah, it was over in no time. That didn't stop Hannah from wringing every last drop of drama from the situation as possible, though. When we got back in the car, she told the boys, "She sucked my blood, and I love my blood!!"

After that, it was off to LabCorp to have blood drawn from all three kids. Chris went first. First is important -- it sets the tone for the two that follow. We didn't tell the kids exactly what was going to be done at this visit. So, once again, I have Chris seated on my lap, and they fold down this tray in front of us, effectively eliminating our escape plan. I explain to Chris that we are going to give them a little bit of his blood so they can test it and see if he has any radioactive Spider Powers. It was all over very quickly, and Chris did great. I asked him to keep it our secret about the needle poke when we went back to see John and Hannah. He told me that he thought the blood drawing was easy, and I encouraged him to say "It was easy" when he came out. Plus I let him choose who the next victim would be. He flip-flopped a few times, and finally settled on John.

John's turn passed without event, and we returned to the waiting area to collect Hannah. I had to chase her around a row of chairs a couple of times, to the amusement of the few other people waiting, carried her into the examination room, and proceeded to give her the bear hug. Hannah, always trying to be in charge of every situation, told the nurse when she thought she had enough blood. I swear Hannah could probably will her vein closed to cut off the nurse when she deemed it appropriate.

So, when all was said and done, back in the car, John asked Chris why he chose him to go next. "Why did you pick me? You want me to get poked with shots? You want me to get hurt??" Then a discussion arose about why the shots hurt some of them more than it hurt others. Rather than go into a lengthy explanation on varying levels of pain threshholds, I replied,

"Different pokes for different folks."

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Tara Sanathanan

I came across a really great idea reading Dr. Zhivago's blog! I have been searching for my very best friend ever from high school, and coming up with pretty much nothing. Doc Z brought up the propensity of many people to Google their own names to see what might be floating around in cyberland about them. So, Tara Sanathanan, if you are checking yourself out, and come across your name here, Tara Sanathanan, check in! I'm looking for yoooooou! Maybe I should throw in a few extra keywords? Lake Forest. Lake Bluff. Illinois. Rutgers. Boston. A Chevy Chevette with a horn that sounds like a wounded seacow. Remington Steele. Diana Steele. Daniel. Bath towel. You out there, Tara Sanathanan?

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Southern Living

Decorating. I never did get it. Southern women, I have noticed since we moved to Virginia, have this whole home decorating thing down pat. It's as if they were born with a gene for it, and I was born with the anti-gene. They grow beautiful cottage gardens and prize-winning long-stemmed roses. I grow onion grass and mushrooms. Their windows are gracefully adorned with lacy panels, draping valances and luxurious curtains that set off the colors of their settee. My windows are covered by dusty mini-blinds that bend at odd angles and cover little handprints on the window panes. They retile the floors in their kitchens themselves every year, reflecting their latest whimsy. I replace the area rug, now a commemorative tapestry, honoring the ravioli, Froot Loops, and Kool-Aid that sacrified themselves at the altar of our kitchen table.

These ladies paint and wallpaper every room of their house in dramatic, kitschy, and subtle fashions. For the last five years, paint is something I made an effort to protect my walls from, and if something was affixed to the wall, you can be sure it was done with about eighteen strips of Scotch tape. Their dining room tables are perpetually laid with their finest china and silver, anticipating another dinner party. Our dining room table is shoved off into a corner, covered with drawing paper, boxes of crayons, and the latest artistic creations, laid out to dry. The kitchen table has vinyl placemats adorned with maps of the world, flags of the world, and the states and their capitols.

If you drop by to visit one of your neighbors, you're immediately offered fresh-brewed sun tea and a tray of delectable morsels. I have a pot of coffee that I brewed three hours ago, juice boxes, and apple slices with peanut butter. They always have that inviting, spicy aroma of something sweet that just came out of the oven. I have the constant whoosh and rumble of the washer and dryer.

But when the day comes that we move again, I won't have to leave behind all the effort and love I put into my most prized possessions. They'll be right behind me, watching Popeye from their carseats, and right beside me, at the wheel.


A couple of days ago, the boys found a bug crawling across the living room floor. To me, a bug is a bug is a creepy crawly little thing to squish and flush. To them, it is a newfound pet. They asked what it was, I looked it over, and told them (as I do with any bug with a hard shell type thing) that it was a beetle. He was adopted immediately, and henceforth named "Beety."

First off, they made Beety a home. Chris got a giant piece of heavy paper and proceded to draw and cut out a castle. They got a fresh leaf for him to dine on, and a bottlecap of water for when he thirsted. Chris made him a paper bed and paper pillow.

Beety headed for the vent, where the boys intervened and saved him from freezing to death at the grip of the steady flow of arctic air.

Time for lessons. The boys, knowing that swimming is an important skill that everyone should learn, next filled six or seven bowls and jar tops of varying sizes with varying levels of water. Chris built paper ladders to help Beety climb in and out of the water, and fashioned a towel out of the same paper for when Beety's lesson was finished. He actually rolled that little bug up in the tiny piece of paper and carried him around that way.

What we learned: "beetles" actually can swim -- pretty fast. They also must have at least four lives, because I was pretty sure he had drowned a few times, only to dry out and scuttle into his castle. They are also very hard to find when dropped on an oriental rug.