Thursday, January 31, 2008


is what I am feeling today. Yesterday, my children had a snow day. Mostly because we were supposed to get more snow overnight. We didn't. But we were again getting dumped on this morning when I got up. And it was drifting, and just was insane. To make matters worse, my 5 year old child woke up, came into my bed to lie down with me, and said, "Mom, I want Tina"

Tina is my very good friend. She and I are so much alike. And she loves my children like her own, and I feel the same about hers. Tina watched my young brood last night while I went with my oldest daughter to a church activity. Tina put my kids to bed since I was still going to be gone. And my five year old had a difficult time. And Tina went and lay down with her and talked to her about what was bothering her and gave her the one on one attention she was needing right then. So, Tina was still here when Jane fell asleep, and I guess she was expecting that Tina would still be here when she woke up. But anyway..

So, she told me she wanted Tina, which was fine, but it still makes you feel bad as a mother to have the first thing your child says to you in the morning is that she wants someone else... But I was fine with it after a while. The morning was just exceptionally bad, with meltdowns (actually not from Alex this time) and one child threatening to run away because he was disciplined for swearing... UGH... So, anyway... It's just been a very tiring day. And I need a vacation. And maybe a med adjustment...

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Check this out...

Just to give you a hint about what's in the forecast; it's SNOW! Snow, and more snow!

That was a movie quote... but seriously, I have lived in Idaho for 5 and a half years, and we have NEVER had this much snow at one time in the time I have lived here, especially not twice in the same winter, and most assuredly not in the same MONTH. But... here we are. And we're supposed to get more. So, I am not sure what will happen for school tomorrow, but this is more snow than we got the day that school was called off a few weeks ago. We got a good 8 inches, and we are supposed to get at least 3 more.

All I can say is, WOW...

Monday, January 28, 2008

Meltdown Monday

I was greeted this morning by the sound of a screaming kindergartener. Not just crying, but screaming like she's dying. This is nothing new, by the way. So, I am lying in my bed, wondering what is going on, but not wanting to yell because my 3 year old has found his way into my bed sometime after dh left for work, and has gone back to sleep. This is a rarity. So, not wanting to wake him, I wait. In the meantime, I hear stomping up the stairs and a bedroom door slam. Also not entirely unexpected.

As if on cue, in comes BJ. "Sarah?" Ok.. so I need to give you the background here. This child is notorious for lengthy story telling/tattling. He can't be concise. And, every story either starts with, "okay" or, "you know what?"

SO anyway... "what?" I answer in my, it's-monday-morning-and-I-was-up-past-one-it's-not-even-8-a.m.-yet-so-this-better-be-good tone.

"Okay, Jane is crying because she had a glass bowl and Alex took it and gave her a plastic one, so I gave her my glass bowl and Alex took that one away from her, and he punched me."

UGH... So, do I really need this today (or any other day, for that matter)? Not so much... but, since they are my children and I love them, I have to deal with it. Since the offending child was currently in his bedroom, as evidenced by the slamming of the door as hard as he possibly could, I decided to get in the shower. I mean, really... there are so many days that I am unable to take one unless I am completely alone in the house, and since the 3 year old was still asleep in my bed, and I had to get out and go to deliver a resume today, I kind of had to. And since the offended had obviously stopped screaming and started eating cereal, I figured it'd be ok. So I am in the shower long enough to wash and condition my hair, and I am in the middle of soaping up my body with my little pouf, and Jane comes in to talk to me. She doesn't knock. She NEVER knocks. And, while she's there, she decides this would be the time to use the toilet.

Ok, there are a total of 3 bathrooms in this house. ONE of them is MINE. (well, and dh's) So, there are two other toilets available for her use, and does she have to go WHILE I am showering???? Anyway... so she's telling me her sad tale of woe about the bowls, and I am going, ok WHY does it matter what bowl you eat out of???
So, I tell her that the bowl is just a vehicle for the cereal, so she needs to stop making such a big deal out of it, and she gives me this goofy look, and laughs, and says, "Mom, vehicle for my cereal???? A vehicle is a car. You're so silly!"

Anyway, I am tired of talking about it, so I tell her to go get her shoes on so I can freakin wash my privates IN PRIVATE. Anyway, I get out of the shower and I'm getting dressed and I hear Mason (the 3 year old) bawling downstairs. Again, Alex is involved. Mason is bawling because he wants the stairway light on, and Alex insists on turning it off. So... I am trying to get my hair dried and finish getting dressed, etc. and referee this incident...

I guess I should be grateful that it hasn't so far ended with someone throwing a bowl full of cereal and milk on the floor... So, I go downstairs, and have roughly 7 minutes before we need to leave for the bus stop. 7 minutes in which to change the babe, get his clothes on, get everyone's coats on, medicate autism boy, and get out the door w/ my resume. But dang it, I got it done. I got Mason changed and everyone out the door on time. Anyway... These are th joys of my life...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The face of autism

I have a child with autism. My son, my first born, was diagnosed about 14 months ago, though I knew when he was less than 2 that there was something "different" about him.

The reason I bring this up is because this morning we had a meltdown over jeans. Two weeks ago, he fell at church and skinned his knee and ripped his church pants. So he had no church pants to wear today. And he had to wear jeans. I wanted him to find the brand new, black jeans that were purchased a few weeks ago, so I asked him to look for them.

I was immediately greeted with sobbing as though his little 10.5 year old heart would break. And then wailing. Complete with lying on the floor. Needless to say, he didn't wear his black jeans to church. And some days, I just want to give up... Anyway, this was the start of my Sunday. And I am sure that it won't be the last meltdown of my day.

I'd blame the full moon, but that was several nights ago now... oh well..

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The saga: Final installment

So, here we are in this dump of a motel "suite" with the overwhelming stench of rotting bodily fluid, or something.... And no one has eaten. it's 7 p.m. and we have yet to eat dinner. And, we can't take puke boy anywhere in his vomiting, fevered state, so I volunteer to stay in the room with him, while dh takes the rest of our brood to the motel's restaurant to eat. He called me from the restaurant shortly after they'd ordered to ask me what I wanted to eat, and after listening to the options, decided it would be fairly safe to order a french dip. So I did, and waited for them to return. And watched some tv shows that I had never seen, but kind of enjoyed. Although I probably will never watch them again... I'm not a big tv watcher, I guess. Anyway...

Poor puke boy, he has had NOTHING to drink since his vomit a few hours earlier in the metropolis of Las Vegas during rush hour, because we couldn't find the extra bags I'd asked the gas station attendant for, so I let him drink some water, keeping careful track of where I put his glass so as not to infect anyone else who might accidentally come upon it and drink from it. And he had that in no longer than 15 minutes before he began to throw up again. Thankfully, the child can make the toilet when the option is available to him. Which cannot be said for certain other children of mine who have autism... So, he is lying down on one of the 3 beds in the room and attempting to rest. And watching cartoon network on the other TV. SO, I think I forgot to mention that this room is a suite, and has 3 queen sized beds, two on one side of the room w/ a t.v. and one on the other side of the room, separated with a wall with a wide doorway between the room's two sections. And I was totally planning on using this to my advantage, if you know what I mean, since dh and I had the ONE bed on the other side of the wall, and the entirety of the rest of the trip had at least one child in the bedroom with us at all times. But, since we had two kids who were sick, we put them in one bed together, put the girls in a bed together, and the well boy, and the youngest boy slept in make shift bed rolls on the floor. One of them on our side of the wall... So much for that... Oh well.

So, dh finally comes back with all the kids, and they set about getting ready for bed while I eat my french dip sandwich, and it was actually not bad. And when I finish eating, we say prayers and go to bed. Well, dh and I normally sleep with a fan for "white noise" and it's at this point that we discover the "auto" function on the thermostat doesn't work. Great. And, because I am fairly keyed up after watching a stupid episode of "Medium", a show that I love but can't watch because it causes me insomnia, I decide to play Solitaire on my iPod nano. Dh ends up having to turn up the heat in our room, which is already like a freaking oven, but it's the only way to get the freaking fan to come on. SO... I am roasting (and you KNOW it's gotta be hot if I'm too warm) and can't sleep, and conveniently, there is a 1x2 foot window above the door to our room that's not covered with anything curtain wise, I mean, it's privacy glass, so I get it. But there are those of us who like it dark. PITCH BLACK, in fact. And because this room is on the parking lot, it's VERY well lit. Unfortunately for both dh and I. And I can't sleep. So... after a rough night, we get up and get on the road. They were forecasting snow for Cedar City all the way home, so I was worried that we'd have bad roads, but so far, there was no snow falling, and it was clear skies, and a whopping 2 degrees when we left. So, we ate McDonald's breakfast for the umpteenth time on that trip, filled the gas tank on the van, got some extra puke bags from the gas station (this time I kept track of them- in fact, they're still in my van) and we were off.

We had mostly cloudy skies but dry weather, and we didn't stop until Tremonton, where we ate lunch. And still the skies were cloudy, but no precipitation. And we pressed on. As we approached Snowville, which is about 7 miles from the ID border, it began to flurry ever so lightly. No big deal. We continued on, with no change in the weather, until the minute we crossed the state line into Idaho. Then it was as if the sky opened up and it began to dump snow with reckless abandon. But the roads were ok until we reached Burley area. We debated about stopping for the night, but we didn't want the kids to miss another day of school... Had we known that there would be a snow day the next day, we may have stopped.. but we were SO close, and the thought of sleeping in our own bed, with our fan and the heated mattress pad was so inviting that I don't think we would have even if we had known. So we kept going...

We stopped in Mountain Home because we wanted to give the kids the opportunity to go to the bathroom. It was about 4:45 and we again debated about stopping, because the roads were really getting bad, and there were PLENTY of idiots out there driving too fast and being stupid. But we decided to keep going. And that's when it really got fun. I was driving, because I am a bit of a control freak, and I like to drive because I feel like I have a little more control that way. And dh was scaring the crap out of me... but, that's beside the point. So anyway, we're driving along, and this dumb jerk hauling a trailer whizzes by me like I'm standing still, and then has to slow down for the car in front of him. Meanwhile, I am merging into the left lane to go around the cotton topped little old lady in front of us who has slowed to a snail's pace, which is a mite slower than we really needed to be going. So I end up behind trailer idiot, who then begins fishtailing. GREAT. I see my life pass before my eyes. Miraculously, he regains control without killing anyone, and guess what? He slows down!!! What do you know, people can learn from their mistakes. So.. anyway... the drive from Mountain home to our house is usually about an hour and 15 minutes. It took us 2 hours. And we were home less than five minutes when puke boy began bawling that his ears were hurting so bad, he couldn't possibly stand it. So at 7:00 when I wanted to sit on my ass and do NOTHING for the next week, I had to go back out in the 6+ inches of snow we had gotten that day and take him to quick care. I was sure he had an ear infection. Turns out he had exactly what I knew was wrong with the other child, and wondered if that was what was wrong with him.... strep throat. Four of my six children had strep throat. So, anyway, that was the end of our unplanned road trip to Arizona. I think the next trip we take, I would like to have during the summer so we at least don't have to deal with the snow...

Hope you enjoyed this little peek into a trip from my life. It's finally over. Now we can get back to the normal insanity that plagues us on a regular basis. :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The saga: Installment Three

So, on Monday, January 7th, when most kids were headed back to school after the holiday break, mine were loaded into a mini van to head home. In the rain. Does it rain in AZ? YES it does. It rained. It was raining when we left. It was raining when we got on the wrong part of the 101 loop in Phoenix and ended up going almost an HOUR out of our way. And it finally stopped raining just as we were getting out of the metro Phoenix area. Now, if you recall, I mentioned not driving too slowly in the HOV lane during rush hour in Phoenix. Something we learned on the way down. Well, the lesson learned on the way home is that Phoenicians can't drive in the rain. At all. I don't know why this is, but they all freak out and drive really slowly, or WAY too fast. VERY scary.

But the most scary thing is that we were delayed just enough to hit rush hour in Las Vegas. UGH. So on we drove. And we stopped in Wickenburg to eat lunch. Again. At the same exact place as last time. I don't know about the wisdom of this looking back on it, but we did. And the same child who treated us to an emergency stop in Phoenix on the way down with diarrhea and a clothing change struck fear into our hearts by uttering this one phrase:

"I feel like I'm going to throw up."

Nothing like driving 70 miles per hour on a two lane highway and having a schedule to keep to get to a hotel in Cedar City, (You didn't honestly thing we would be staying in Vegas again, did you??????) and having a kid say these ever so dreaded words to you. Thankfully, he wasn't feeling great when we stopped for fuel in Kingman, so I had the forethought to ask for some extra plastic bags at the gas station (whose restrooms were "out of order" when we went, so we had to go across the street to the Subway to use the bathroom). So, I passed a bag back to the dear boy and told him, "if you have to throw up, try and get it all in this bag." I then turned to my husband and gave him the memorable quote from Wayne's World: "if you're gonna spew, spew into this."

Ok, maybe I didn't say that to him, but I sure thought it. I can't remember anymore, it was two weeks ago. It was all I could do not to say it to the kid I handed the bag to. Anyway... So, we travelled like that, and it appeared as though tragedy might be averted, until we were armpit deep in Las Vegas' six lanes of I215 eastbound at what was the start of their rush hour (meaning a ton of traffic, but all of it travelling at high rates of speed), and I am trying to give directions to the captain for the merge onto I15 northbound when we hear the unmistakable sounds of the upheaval of gastric contents.

Now, I am a sympathy puker. I can handle blood, guts, poop, pee, saliva, and a host of other bodily fluids. I do NOT, however, do vomit. I never have been able to. So, I am sitting up front praying that this new perfumed event, placed into a plastic bag by the child sitting in the middle seat of the very back seat, did NOT reach my olfactory nerve. EVER. So, when he was done emptying the contents of his stomach, and we asked him if he was all done, and he said he thought so, I passed back and second bag and gave him instructions to tie the first bag off, place it in the second bag, and tie IT off and pass it back up. After the instructions had been given, dh decided to give me something to ponder by saying, "he is NEVER eating at a Jack in the Box again" because, apparently, I needed to think about what regurgitated lunch was now in the bag that was about to be passed up for placement by my feet.

Thankfully, however, that sweet little man got EVERY single drop of throw up IN THE BAG!!! and got it tied tight, placed it in the second bag, got that bag tied tight, and it began it's journey to the front of our vehicle. When it reached me, I held it up for a minute, inspecting the bags for any defects in workmanship. In other words, I wanted to make sure the damn thing wasn't going to leak. Well, this was a BAD BAD idea. Because I almost needed a bag myself. I have a dear friend who once told me she found it helpful to think about what she had eaten to deter her from throwing up. This NEVER worked for me, in fact, it made me want to throw up more... LOL But anyway... The bags seemed to be holding the contents securely, so I put it as far forward as it would go on the floor in front of me, and proceeded to pull my legs into the "criss cross applesauce" position on my seat. And I got out my iPod and started playing solitaire on it while listening to soothing music. On to Cedar City with a bag full of vomit at my feet. Did I mention that it takes a little over 2 hours to get to Cedar City from Vegas?

So, with nothing more to eat or drink, our little puker didn't have any more incidents in the van. But we were all getting very tired, and the kids were hungry, and they were starting to have to go to the bathroom. This was the longest we had gone without a potty break, and it was starting to show. But we kept on until we reached the turn off for the hotel we were supposed to stay at. At least, the turn off according to MapQuest. I have had MapQuest be mildly in error for a few things, but nothing major. That is, until this time. WRONG. MILES off. So, we are driving down the road, and there is NOTHING. A few houses in the small town where we got off the freeway, but other than that... NOTHING. SO we keep driving toward the general direction of where the hotel is supposed to be. And the road keeps going, until suddenly, it is an ON RAMP back on to the freeway. I called the hotel and asked them for simple directions to their location from the freeway and which direction we were coming from. Thankfully, we were not too much farther. The happy little package at my feet was starting to stink. At least, I thought I could smell it. So, when we got to the hotel, I told my dh not so sweetly to take that damn minivan bomb with him when he went to check in. He wasn't happy about it, but seeing that I was fairly green, he took it anyway, and did NOT have it with him when he came back. And, not a moment too soon, since the smell of partially digested french toast sticks and strawberry fanta is NOT going to be on my top ten list of car air fresheners.

At this point, it's late. It's dark. And there is a foot or so of snow on the ground from the day before. And it's icy. So we park outside our assigned room. And we go in.

It's DIRTY. There is food on the floor. There are soda cans all over the place. The beds are in disarray. And my kids are trying to lie on them. I am yelling at them not to touch ANYTHING and not to put their stuff down (have I mentioned yet that I am a germophobe?) as dh calls the front desk. So, they put us in another room. This one is clean. Well, except for the stench. It smelled like someone hid used maxi pads somewhere and they were never found. It was just this nasty, lingering odor. I apologize for my description, but this is what the smell reminded me of. Like the bathroom of a women's dorm that hasn't had the trash taken out in a while... THIS was where we got to bed for the night....

To be continued...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Continuation of the saga...

So, we arrived at 8 p.m. in Thatcher. DH's parents and two aunts are seated at the table in the dining room. Immediately, dh is whisked away to help with the funeral program. So I begin making sandwiches and whatever else I can find for the kids. They need to go to bed, and the house is full of dh's cousins and their children, and I have just thrown six more into the fray. So I am trying to get everyone fed, and ready for bed, and no longer have the help of my dh. I don't dare say a word, mostly because the aunt who is in charge of the arrangements told me I was lazy last July because my dh does the dishes. It was an arrangement we made when we got married. I hate doing dishes. I don't want to do them. And he doesn't mind. He doesn't like doing laundry, and I don't mind, so I do laundry, he does the dishes. It works for us. Keep in mind that he was a single dad before we got married, and I was a single mom, so it beats the hell out of doing it all alone. But anyway....

So, I got all the kids situated, and that was NO small task. And they fought. Because it's what kids do. Especially kids that have been in the car for 12+ hours a day for the last two days. So after about an hour, they finally settled down and stopped fighting. And feel asleep. Blissful sleep. My time of day for relaxation. Usually.

I didn't even get to sit down before dh called me in for my opinion on what they were doing with the program, due to my "scrapbooker" status. How a funeral program is like scrapping, I have no idea... but they were trying to use this awful star that was from a program they had on Grandma's 90th birthday. And they were having trouble getting it to fit, etc. And I am looking at it going, SERIOUSLY??? YOU CANNOT put this on the freaking funeral program. First of all, it's ugly, and secondly, it's not that appropriate. So after 2.5 more HOURS of trying to get the stupid ugly thing to fit on the back of the program, my dh came up with an alternative idea that everyone was satisfied with. I will tell you, that was NO small task, and it was due by 10 a.m. the following morning. So finally, into bed for some much needed SLEEP.

The kids were up EARLY the following morning. Must have been all that pent up energy from the drive. 6 a.m. the kids were fighting and carrying on. GRRRRR. My awesome dh went in and put the fear of the Almighty in them so at least I could get a little more rest. So the kids ate cereal for breakfast, and I had to have a coke, so dh and I went to the land of the golden arches. In Arizona, they have a southern style chicken biscuit. OH. MY. HELL. SOOO Good.
Nothing on it, no sauce, no gravy, etc. Just a piece of "southern fried" chicken and the biscuit. I wish they had them here. YUM-O.

Anyway, we spent the day finishing up arrangements for the funeral and I typed the life sketch that dh was going to be giving. The kids played outside in the back yard (no grass, it's AZ) and jumped on the trampoline, etc. So when they came in after it was getting dark, they were FILTHY. Every last one of them. So we made them all shower, bathe etc. That was also a very big job. But it got done, and they were all in bed on time. And thankfully, all the guests who'd been there that day went home in time for my kids to go to bed. The next morning, we got up, showered, and got everyone fed. Then we got ready for the drive to St. David to the funeral. Grandma lived in St. David for a long time, and had only been in Thatcher for a couple of years after she'd gotten shingles. But the drive was 2 hours, and we weren't really looking forward to being in the van again.

The viewing was at 12, and it was SO crowded that I took the kids in, we said our goodbyes, and I took them back out. The funeral didn't start until 1, so I took them out and we walked around the church for about 30 minutes, because they were being so rambunctious, and I wanted them to expel some energy. So then we went in and found our seats, etc. The funeral was good, but Mason freaked out at the end and I had to carry him out kicking me and screaming during the closing song... I went out and put him in the van, and had to hold him down to get him strapped into his car seat. He has a temper and he is STRONG.

So we sat in the van while we waited for everyone else to come out, and then we began the procession to the cemetary. The day was beautiful, about 70, and breezy. The sun was shining, and it was lovely. It began to cloud over when we were at the cemetary, but still was nice. My big complaint, however, is while we were at the cemetary visiting, and looking at some of the graves of other family members, etc (remember some of us have NEVER been there, and live far enough away that it will be a while before we can go back) the workers at the cemetary were standing around less than 30 feet from us, with SHOVELS IN HAND.

SERIOUSLY??? That is the tackiest thing I think I have EVER seen. Here are these people greiving for the loss of their mother, grandmother, aunt, etc. and these idiots in grungy dirty clothes have the never to stand around holding their shovels and acting annoyed that we are talking to our relatives and taking a moment to say a final goodbye to this wonderful woman. I intend to write a letter to the city about it. I mean, really, can we show just the smallest bit of respect? Other than that, the funeral went off without a hitch and was quite nice.

We went back to the house and relaxed for the day. We were going to go the next morning to Tombstone and Bisbee to do some sightseeing, as dh's mom grew up in Bisbee. We ended up touring Queen Mine, where dh's grandfather worked, and went to Boot Hill in Tombstone. We let the kids buy a few little souvenirs from there. It was neat to be able to do something fun while we were there. Well, my kids are home from school today, and are fighting, so I need to stop typing and take care of that...

To be continued.....

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I am imperfect

As much as I hate to admit this. I was told today to get my hiney in gear and update my blog...

I have been remiss, haven't I? I apologize profusely to all my readers everywhere. All 8 of you. LOL Anyway... There is the joy that is our trip to Arizona. Perhaps that is what I will focus on today.

New Years Day 2008. It's 8 a.m. My husband had just gotten out of bed to make kids stop screaming and carrying on, and get them started on breakfast. The phone rings. I leap out of bed in an instant. Not to answer the phone, but to get dressed. I know what the call is about, even without looking at the caller ID. I know exactly who it is. There is only one thing it could be at 8 a.m. on a holiday.

Grandma is gone.

We had gotten the call about five days earlier that she was not doing well. So, I started making arrangements at home to prepare for a drive to Arizona. I did all of the laundry that had been waiting for me for a couple of weeks. I cleaned my bedroom. Spotless. And I got the kids rooms all cleaned, and did some rearranging there. There was just one thing left to do. The hardest thing. Wait.

So, in the ten seconds flat it took me to strap up the girls and get dressed, my husband is finishing up his phone conversation with his mom. The look on his face confirms my suspicion. Poor Grandma. 97 years old. Her husband has been gone for some 30 plus years. She'd been praying to go. And finally, her body, tormented by a familial tremor, was finally still. But it did not lessen the pain of knowing that she was gone. My husband, a manly man by most descriptions, clung to me and sobbed. My heart broke for him. I had a hard time being sad for Grandma, because I knew she was feeling so much better where she is, but my heart was breaking for my husband, who is a lot like me; Crusty exterior to protect the soft gooey center.

And so, we began our plans for a road trip. Let me tell you how difficult it is to find a place to change the oil in a minivan on New Year's Day. But, I digress...

So, we first called his ex. She was supposed to have the kids the next day, so we asked her if we could bring them over to her and pick them up at 8 p.m. She was really good about it. Then we set about packing up the kids. My dh searched the internet for hotel rooms in Las Vegas, where we would be stopping for the night. We shopped for road snacks the kids could eat while riding in the car. We purchased headphones for their GameBoys. We purchased a DVD player for the van. (this was the BEST money we have ever spent, bar none) And we loaded the van up so we would be ready to leave early the next morning.

We left on the morning of the 2nd, a little before 6 a.m. And we drove. We stopped in Burley for breakfast and fuel. And we drove. And drove. We stopped in Spanish Fork for lunch, only because I missed the exit for Springville. Ooops... Sue me, it's been YEARS since I'd been there... And we continued on. We hit construction in the tiny corner of AZ that you go through between UT and Vegas, and that delayed us a little, so it was dark when we got to Vegas. Damn.

So, somewhere near Henderson, I asked my dh where the hotel we were staying at was. It was a resort casino. GREAT. So I tell him, well, I get the final veto if I don't like it. And he said, well it's already paid for, so.... Damn.

So, we get lost, briefly... which was my fault, but we won't talk about that, since I don't like to be wrong, and typically I am a very good navigator... but anyway.. My dh is saying how this resort's website made such a huge deal of how family friendly they are, etc. And I'm thinking, great, how bad can it be? LOL OH HO HO HO!!!! never ask yourself that about anything in Sin City... So... they neglected to mention that just about anything you need to do, including check in for the hotel, requires you to walk thru the casino. So, here we are with our little Brady Bunch, walking into this casino to check in. No problem right? OH, WRONG. My children are all wide- eyed over the slot machines and video games. And then, the icing on the cake. The servers. Women of all shapes and a few sizes in red velvet bustiers and thong underpants. The only thing coming between the innocent eyes of my four young boys and these mature bottoms are black hose. And they were sheer hose, at that. And WHILE we were en route to the check in counter in the midst of all the dinging slot machines, cacophony of electronic musical games, the fog of thick cigarette smoke, and the visual assault of half naked women, dh's cell phone rings. It's his brother, who lives in the area and wants us to call him when we're settled in. So, we stop our brood in the middle of the hotel casino with all this going on, while dh takes this call. And I am CRANKED. Seriously angry. So, dh goes to the desk while I huddle all my kids behind an 18 inch support beam that runs from floor to ceiling. I am trying to shield them from the insanity that surrounds us. If I had been alone with my husband, it would have been fine. Well, sort of. I can't stand chaos. I can't even walk into Best Buy without plugging my ears because of all the noise from music, movies, and car stereo equipment mingled with people talking loudly over it all. So I am gripping my two youngest children tightly by the hand, leaving me no hands to cover my own ears. And I can't close my eyes because I have four others to watch, one of whom is staring at it all in an autistic daze. So we wait. And we finally get checked in, and get to the first of our two adjoining rooms, and go in. Well, then the key to the second room does not work. So dh has to go back down to get that taken care of. Meanwhile I am on the bed of my room in the fetal position rocking back and forth while trying to block adult movies from the TV in our room so I can let them watch some cartoons....

Then we go to dinner. There is a TGI Fridays in the hotel. Great. Guess where it's located? On the other side of the casino. SO we have to walk through the casino to get to the Fridays. Our waiter was a tall man with a Russian accent. Very nice. But VERY VERY slow. So after an hour and a half for dinner, we go back up to our rooms.

Finally, we get everyone settled into their rooms. Well, this was somewhat poor planning on my part, because instead of opting to pack my own bag, and let dh pack his own bag, we pack our stuff in the same bag. And our adjoining rooms only join in the hall. There are no doors between rooms like the old days, when most people had large families. No, we are not the norm. We are the exception, not the rule. So, I have to give my dh a list of all the stuff I need for my shower. My shampoo, my conditioner, my facewash, my hair styling creme, my clothes for the next day, and my pajamas for that night. I opt to use the bar soap generously provided by the hotel. And their hairdryer, even though I had packed my own. I was trying to keep my husband from having to make a second trip to bring everything I needed. I have naturally curly hair, and to use a hairdryer without a diffuser in a desert climate like Vegas is ill-advised. Especially a crappy hotel hairdryer with a fan in the back that catches your hair and twists it in the fan motor and makes the entire bathroom smell like singed hair and makes the smoke detector go off. Ok, so the smoke detector didn't go off. But I thought it would. And wondered if it would be like on TV where the sprinklers come on when the smoke detectors go off. So, anyway, when I finally get out of the shower, and pjs on, etc, my dh comes in, says good night to me, and we go to bed. He was in one room with three of the boys, and I had the girls and the baby (ok, so he's 3 now). I looked over at the clock, and the local time was 8:30. OH my hell...

I must say that this is one of the most uncomfortable beds I have ever slept in, and I am freezing. It was a queen sized bed, and there were two standard pillows on it, but I gave one to Mason when I shoved the little love seat in the room next to my bed so he could sleep with me without actually being in the bed with me. I also had to give him a blanket, so I gave him the soft vellux one that was under the bedspread. So what I was left with was the bedspread and the flat sheet. I am cold natured usually, so this made for not the most comfortable sleeping arrangement. So I woke up every couple of hours to stretch out, since I slept in the most compact little ball I could get my chubby self into. Anyway, the following morning I got up and got dressed and ready for the day's drive, and had just gotten done when dh called me on the hotel phone. Apparently the boys in his room had been wide awake for the past couple of hours... So we met in my room while I got the girls up, and woke the baby and changed his diaper, etc. It was at that point that we realized we had brought in the diaper bag, but not the back pack with his clothes in it. So he was going to stay in his pajamas... Oh well.

Then we went down to breakfast. An all you can eat buffet, also in the hotel, also located at the other end of the casino. Amazingly, at nine in the morning, there isn't anyone sitting at the bar, and the casino is much quieter. We didn't see one single thong pantied server on our way to the restaurant for breakfast. On the way in, a man and his friend who are talking animatedly stop in mid sentence and begin pointing at each one of the kids and counting aloud. "SIX KIDS!" He exclaimed. "You have a basketball team!" I have to say that I was grateful that he hadn't asked if I knew what caused that.

Breakfast is a crazy thing. This restaurant is huge, first off. I normally let my boys and oldest girl get their own stuff, but I was feeling a little nervous about it due to the sheer size of the place. And you wouldn't believe the breakfast layout. Muffins and doughnuts, eggs, pancakes, waffles, blintzes, I think anything you could possibly imagine was there. So at one point, I thought that my 10 year old w/autism is lost. And in a state of panic, I realize that if I have to describe what he is wearing, there is no way I can. I have no clue. In fact, at that very brief moment, I couldn't even remember what clothes had been packed. But, thank goodness, I had just missed seeing him walk back to the table, and he was sitting there when I returned to break the news to my dh that I had lost one of the children.

Back to the rooms to double and triple check to make sure we had all of our stuff, and get the kids loaded up with their backpacks. We make our way back out through the casino to the parking garage, where I am relieved to find that our van is still there. We unfortunately left a little later than we had planned, which meant we got into Phoenix at rush hour. This would not have been so bad, had it not been for a lunch stop in Kingman that caused one of the boys to have diarrhea. Diarrhea that did not manifest until we were sitting in bumper to bumper traffic on I10. There was nothing we could do, we had to wait until we could find an exit. We were in the HOV lane, so we had to get all the way into the right lane, in bumper to bumper traffic, where most of the traffic was moving slower than we were, and you do NOT want to slow down in the HOV lane of a Phoenician interstate. So, thankfully, when we finally were able to exit the freeway, there was a 7-11 at the end of the ramp, and an on ramp on the other side, which was what we'd hoped for. However, the pit stop took us almost 45 minutes because we had to change the underwear of the boy in question, and we made every other kid use the restroom while we were there. And there was a single restroom, with a single toilet. For employees, mostly, except the occasional restroom emergency. I felt so guilty standing there with the other five kids that I bought them each a little treat so I could at least feel like I patronized the store, since we were holding up their bathroom for so long. Anyway, I made dh load the kids back in the van while I used the restroom, and then we continued on. We only had about 2.5 hours left and we just wanted to get there and get the kids settled and relax.

Did I mention that just outside of Phoenix, the highway we take into Thatcher is two lane, and goes through mountain grades and is very curvy. It's not fun to drive during the day when it's clear. And now, it's pitch dark. And people don't slow down on the curves. So you have to hope that you don't get one of them careening around a curve over the double yellow head on into you... I just got my iPod out and played solitaire. My dh had driven this enough times, I knew he would be fine. And I didn't want to think about it. So, at about 8 p.m, we arrived in Thatcher at dh's aunt's house, with starving, tired kids. And after driving for 9 hours and the drama in Phoenix, we wanted to feed them, get them in bed and sit down. But there were other plans in store.....

...... to be continued.