Sunday, February 18, 2007

A delayed Valentine's celebration

Chief Potter and I have never been big fans of celebrating Valentine's Day on February 14th. For one thing, the actual holiday (if you can call it that) never seems to fall on a day that we don't already have something scheduled. And, more importantly, I despise long waits in restaurants just to be seated. It's one thing to wait if you're already at a table and can munch on an appetizer or sip a soft drink. It's another thing altogether to be shoved in a small area (because who really wants to wait outside in February????) shoulder to shoulder with people you don't know while being taunted by the delicious aroma of foods that you can't yet have while your stomach has reached the perpetual growl stage. Really. We tried it once and decided that from then on we would either celebrate V-Day the weekend before or the weekend after.

When I talked to my mother-in-law about babysitting for us the Friday night after Valentine's Day, she casually offered to let us leave them at her house for the entire night, a suggestion which I promptly dismissed as being entirely too much work for her.

It only took moments after I hung up the phone to start wondering exactly why I felt that keeping three kids overnight would be "too much" for her. After all, I keep them every day all day. And work a full-time job with the chaos going on around me. And love it.

She's a very young *4 (she'd shoot me if I revealed the first digit of her age), and so after talking it over with the chief, we decided to take her up on it.

Here's how the evening went:

We dropped the kiddos off at 5:30 p.m. at their grandmother's house with instructions to obey Grandma Judy happily the first time and to not eat every single cookie she put in front of them (but wait ... that's a whole OTHER post).

By 6:30, we were seated at our favorite Thai restaurant where we both ordered our favorite dish, Evil Jungle Prince (no kidding ... I have to order it by number, because I can't manage to say the name aloud without bursting into laughter). When they deliver the stuff to the table, it never looks like very much food. The sticky rice is in one bowl, and the Evil Jungle Prince is on a plate by itself. You're given a third dish on which to serve yourself a portion of rice and cover it with EJP. Halfway through the Prince, my stomach started feeling a little full, but the stuff was so delectable (and spicy!) I ignored the messages my stomach was sending and happily served myself up another big portion of the rice and Prince. Before too long, we both had finished off our wickedly hot meal and left the restaurant headed for our next favorite destination: Lowe's.

Halfway to the car, with the February wind biting through my coat and gloves and my tummy angry with me for feeding it WAY more food than it is normally accustomed, I started rethinking the whole night and decided that my very warm child-free house sounded like a much cozier way to spend the rest of the evening than shopping for a new storm door.

Chief was all too happy to cancel our home improvement plans in the sub-freezing wind, and to home we went. On the way back to the house, he told me excitedly about a movie he'd recorded on TiVo and thought it might be something I'd enjoy.

We arrived back home shortly before 8 p.m. and after getting comfy in my new fun PJ's Chief gave me from PajamaGram, we poured ourselves something to drink (my mouth was still on fire from the Evil Jungle Prince) and settled onto the couch for a movie that would be uninterrupted by kids getting out of bed, wanting sips of water, needed extra goodnight kisses, etc. It promised to be a relaxing evening like we hadn't had in a long, long time.

I remember the opening scene and vaguely remember asking Chief the actor's name playing the main character ... and that's the last thing I remember until about 6:30 this morning. Yes, that's right, I fell asleep moments into our movie date and didn't awaken until 10½ hours later.

Yep, I'm in trouble.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The House Fairy

Anyone who has spent any time with me at all over the past few weeks has, no doubt, heard me singing the praises of FlyLady. If I could give her an award for the inspiration she has been to me (and apparently THOUSANDS, maybe MILLIONS) of weary but well-meaning wives and mothers, it would be huge. Really huge.

Through a constant flow of emails which arrive throughout the day, FlyLady has provided me with the belief that I really CAN manage my home effectively and efficiently and given me some tools to get moving in the right direction.

The latest of these tools has been the introduction of The House Fairy to my children. In case you don't know The House Fairy (and I'm assuming that most of you probably do not), she pays a visit to each child's room every day. The kids have no idea whether she will come in the morning, afternoon or evening, they just know that she WILL show up before the day is over. In an introductory letter she left before her first real visit, she promised the kiddos that at each visit she would either leave something (a cool treat if she finds a room in a condition that pleases her) OR take something(s) if the room is left untidy. She has a simple "report card" she leaves behind on each pillow that allows her to make a note of what she observed during her visit that day.

This new system has been in place now for a little over a week at the Potter Palace, and I am ASTOUNDED at the change that has come over my little ones. No longer do I have to hound them like a broken record about keeping their rooms picked up. A simple reminder that House Fairy will be making rounds "soon" motivates them to keep clothes off the floor and toys put away. One day last week, House Fairy ended up with two pairs of little girl tennis shoes and some stuffed animals that had to be "bought back" with extra chores. A few instances like that, and I think they are FINALLY beginning to learn how to get out a toy, play with it, then put it away.

If I sound like a control freak, perhaps it's only because I'm still haunted by the memory of how AWFUL I kept my room as a child. Bless my poor mother's heart, she tried her best to teach me some housekeeping skills but must have given up on me at some point as a lost cause. I had a walk-in closet that was such a disaster. I can remember piling game on a shelf up over my head with no concern for putting larger games on the bottom and smaller ones on top. They just went where they landed. Until one day when I tossed something up top and the whole pile came crashing down on my head. I lay on the floor of my closet for a long time, stunned that the shelf finally gave way and wondering how-in-heaven's-name I was EVER going to separate 79,000 various and assorted game parts and puzzle pieces back into their respective boxes. It was a nightmare I tell you. And if it harelips every cow in the great state of Texas, I am DE-TER-MINED to do my part to make sure my children learn a few organizational skills early in life. Not when they're in their 30's, like their mother.

So, House Fairy, you come visit anytime. And feel free to stop by my bedroom and check my top shelf. I think you'll like what you see.