Thursday, May 17, 2012

HouseSitting 101

Vacuums and an instrument of some sort are a relatively effective way to block out the insistent sound of an alarm.

I was going to leave it there, but you're dying of curiosity now aren't you?
scuba diving in menorca
The day began normal enough for our two Subjects. They had successfully completed a week of house sitting and had managed to not only survive, but remain on speaking terms with each other.  Chickens were being fed; eggs gathered; boiler fed routinely with big hunks of wood; tender tomato plants watered regularly.  So, at the beginning of this week someone had the brilliant idea to do some laundry. . . . . which is where it all started. . . . . . .

The Machine was a bit more electronic than what our Subjects were used to. But, as they posses the capability of reading and the semi-intelligence to figure things out (some things that is, hence, the semi), they were able to correctly load, pour detergent, and begin the run cycle. . . . .Five minutes later is where it Really Began. . . . .

Kitchen was being cleaned up, as well as a bit of straightening, when the delicate eardrums of the Subjects were assaulted with a consistent, high pitched beeping. . . . coming from the general direction of the laundry room.
First Call to Traveling Homeowners was a pleasant, "Hello, how are you, how's the trip going? By the way. . ." type of thing.
The Second Call was also pretty low key. . . "We tried Such and Such, didn't work. . ."

Whereupon the Subjects were told that Mrs. Homeowner was going to try get a hold of Mr. Homeowner while Subjects checked the basement to see if anything was leaking down from under the Machine.

An hour went by and the Subjects began to try think of creative ways to mask the sound of the constant beeping (think a fire alarm gone bad:)
Vacuuming worked - but only for so long, for you either eventually run out of floors to clean, or the vacuum overheats. . . . . or both.
Playing the piano at full volume also worked. But there again, you can only play for so long before you're ready for a break or your fingers are about ready to declare mutiny.
The only option left to our Subjects!
A slow, maddening descent into . . . .well. . . madness.

Right about when it became apparent one of the Subjects was beginning to suffer from meltdown type tendencies (call #3 being rather frantic to HomeBase) they declared themselves beaten and took a temporary hiatus to rush home and take care of their own animals, whilst reveling in the superb quietness the car ride afforded.

HomeBase provided some much needed sanity and they headed back with optimistic levels elevated with the reassuring thought of: It might have stopped by now.
This optimism lasted longer than the Subjects thought; all the way up the garage steps to the door. . . .

Long story shortened considerably:  5 and a 1/2 very long, very nerve wracking hours after the first distinct beep the Subjects received a call from Mr. Homeowner.
The solution to our Subjects' 5 hour frustration? . . . . . . . . *sigh*
Phone gets held out so Mr. Homeowner can hear the alarm. Thirty seconds later he says, "Well, there is one thing it could be. Under the Machine is a Such-and-Such that will go off if there is any water leaking."
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
One of the Subjects bravely ventured forth and checked, pulling out something foreign. Something beeping. Something green.
Something that instantly silenced when the film of water was wiped off the bottom.

It doesn't look like it could be annoying and sanity threatening does it?
Yea, Subject #2 thought so too.

When the Subjects realized that they had been listening to the Thing needlessly for hours and hours, practically tearing their hair out to try figure out what was wrong and if the house was going to explode at some point . . . .well, let's just say one of them went rather hysterical.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Priceless Mum

   I've been trying to remember if this is the first Mother's Day I've spent away from home.  I don't really think it is . . . seems to me there might have been a choir tour or two that extended over Mother's Day.  Either way, this one feels a little different.  I'm not a mom yet, but nanny-ing Achoo five days out of the week has given a whole new clarity to what motherhood is like - what motherhood means.  Being the confident firstborn I am, I've spent most of my life thinking I had a good idea of what mommy-hood was going to involve.  (Those of you who are moms, feel free to laugh any time.)  My first week with Achoo de-bunked most of them.  Needless I called my mum a lot - more often than not the subject of my call can be simply summed up in five simple words: "Mum, WHAT DO I DO?!"  I'm beginning to understand a lot of the why's behind what mum has spent her whole life training us for - that it really does take less time to keep a space clean if one just puts things away when they are done with them; that training early - from day one - makes a huge difference; that if a child wins one battle, the parents are going to have to fight extra hard to win the next five.
  I'm pretty sure that there have been more than one moment in the last four weeks when my mum could have said, "I told you so," but being her gracious, loving self she doesn't.  (Thanks mum.)  She has walked me through really tough days (read: two-baths-in-one-day-because-the-baby-threw-up-on-the-carpet), laughed with me on the good days (when Achoo 'discovered' the brilliant combination of a mixing bowl and a wooden spoon), and talked me through the long days (lethal combination of discouragement and no nap).  And no matter what is happening on this end of the world, she knows just what to say.
      In one of her e-mails she told me, ". . .  being a mom is all about flexibility!  The child is what know the part about putting YOUR life on hold for the next 20 years.  You are getting a little glimpse of that.  When babies are sick they need to be comforted.  They need training every single minute when they are this age so that as they get older your job is easier. . . .  When one is a mom, there is NO time for extra stuff unless it is during nap time and that can be short sometimes.  Why do you think I made everyone nap for so many years.  It was the ONLY time I had by myself.   Please understand that I am in no way complaining!  That is what I wanted for my life.......but being the selfish person that I am, I wanted MY time and it was hard at times not to get it.  Looking back, I am grateful we didn't have internet etc because I might have been more resentful.  In hindsight, I am not resentful at all.  The time I spend with all of you was worth more than any time I spent doing anything else.  That includes sleeping or eating.  :)"  (As well as a few other things . . .)

      Being away from home for such a long time has put into sharp focus just how blessed I am to be part of my family - and just how much I take it for granted.  Nanny-ing Achoo also clarifies how much my mum sacrificed to raise her children, and how I've taken that for granted as well.  To a fuller extent I am able to value her wisdom, because even though I'm still not a mom, I am temporarily walking the same path.  God has given her so much strength and grace, and I'm grateful she is still willing to share it with me.  I'm grateful she is still (sometimes stubbornly) intent on being my mom as well as my friend, even though I'm over 21.  We're both still learning - but with every Mother's Day we celebrate, I'm that much more grateful for my mum and the grace and encouragement she's given me.

Happy Mother's Day, mum.  Hugs - and maybe a cake - to follow.  :)

Irish Rose.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Hot and Dry

      As of today I've been at The Blue House* for exactly a month.  In some ways it has gone by really quickly; in others . . . . it feels like forever.

  My first weekend saw my first dust storm (I've never seen the sky go that shade of brown before) and a lot of anxiety when The Soldier didn't call after he was due to get back from a mission: my second weekend involved a trip to a Rose Garden and a sunburn.
  My first Monday was all about trying to figure out baby Achoo's schedule: the second Monday  . . . . well, lets just not go there (I witnessed the full wrath of a 10 month old - it was not pretty).
  My first Tuesday saw the further christening of Auntie Irish when something upset Achoo's tummy - we ended up taking two baths and calling home for advice on how to clean carpet: my second Tuesday was comfortably calm and free from smelly laundry.
  My first Wednesday . . . more spit up: by my second Wednesday I was comfortable with the idea of establishing our own schedule instead of trying to stick to the one that had been tailored at day-care . . . . AND there was a lovely box for me in the mail.  (Sharpie and Chickadee sent me mail.  Yay!!!)
  My first Thursday brought an unexpected day out and a yummy lunch: today Sorelle's family adopted me for the afternoon.  Somehow the language barrier wasn't a big deal.    Okay - so communication wasn't as frequent as the cute smileys, but we made it work.  

After two weekends, I sort of lost track of time.  Most of the time I don't really remember what day of the week it is - unless its the weekend and everybody is home.

      There have been a lot of ups and downs, a lot of phone calls, e-mails and instant messaging between here and home.  While I am really glad I am at a point where I can help The Soldier and Sorelle like this, I still really miss home.  I bought plants - the basil is doing fine, but the ivy died: I've gotten mail from home and that always makes me happy.    And as much as I miss home I am realizing there are things about life here that I will miss when I leave.  I'll miss the way baby Achoo cuddles with me during our morning nap and the way he pats my face when he wakes up; the way he is absorbing and learning so many things; the funny, scrunchy nose face he makes when he thinks he's been especially clever.  I'll miss the way String Bean asks me, "Whas??" instead of 'why'; and how he asks, "Whachoo do-ing?" about everything.  Since the Big Brother is still busy with school and homework, we haven't gotten to know each other all that well yet, but we're working on it.

      This post isn't meant to be all that important - just to let you all know that we are still here even though we've been pretty quiet lately.  Life has a way of changing when we least expect it and we all are busy with busy (and unexpected) adventures lately.  In the meantime . . . . I miss you!

Irish Rose

* After living so long in a very obviously Pink House - four women and one daddy - this house with a mom and three boys is very Blue.  Very, very blue. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Just to let everyone know........


The Adventurer

There once lived a little ducky with her parent's and two sister duckies.  Now it happened that this certain ducky went on a certain adventure.  She dressed thinking she needed to be three things: loving, patient but

Thus her attire:

So off went this this little adventuring ducky out into the world.  She hopped on a flying albatross (for her little wings couldn't get her as far as she wanted to go) and she was there in no time.

Back home her sister duckies at first had a fun time, staying up late and having treats :)
But as time went on they started to miss their other third.
And as she got into her adventure the little ducky also started to miss her sisters.
But fear not for this adventure will not last forever and soon this little ducky will be back with her family.