Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Family - Whatcha gonna do?

Six years ago my sister and her family moved from our home state of Michigan to the 'burbs of Washington, DC in search of better economic conditions. This month, they're coming back. Luckily, we've visited often enough (especially in the last couple of years) that my nephews (12, 10 & 7 1/2) and I have formed lasting bonds because it's just them and me (and my own 14 year old son) for the next 2 1/2 weeks or so.

What will I do now that the amount of my children have quadrupled (and then some, with friends of my son also hanging around now that it's summer)? I'm thinking hiding in my room is a viable option (except for when I'm going to the grocery store to feed them all, of course). I was vaguely dabbling with the idea of trying to come up with healthy snacks and meals but, when you've got young ones who've never been apart from their parents for more than a few days now staring 3 weeks in the face (they managed 1/2 a week at Grandpa's before having to be back with Aunt Bel (and their cousin's video games)), comfort food is a must. Now, comfort food for children is different than comfort food for adults - I crave things like meatloaf and mashed potatoes or a pot roast but the kids want chicken nuggets, mac & cheese (from the box, of course), pizza and hot dogs. However, we can all agree that sweets make awesome comfort foods but I'm not an idiot - 4 children stuffed with ice cream, cookies, brownies and soda (AKA SUGAR) does not a peaceful aunt make. I bought fun flavored popsicles, Hawaiian Punch and big pretzel sticks instead (and they can't have the former two after 7 o'clock or so but the pretzels are fair game if I don't mind crumbs everywhere).

I will also indulge them with far more video game playing time than they usually get at home although I'll encourage them to go outside for a little while as long is it's not over 90 F (which it has been and will be but right now we're coasting along in the mid 80's which is on the warm side for me, but perfect for them). I'm also trying to come up with board and card games which will appeal to the lot of them which is not as easy as it sounds, especially if you don't want the pieces spread throughout the house. If I can find 4 different backed packs of playing cards, I think I'll teach them how to play War - fun, easy and fair. Heck, if I can find a 5th pack, I might even play along with them!

Taking the dog for a walk is another option. Our dog will follow me as well as any obedience dog when I'm wandering around the house. He'll even stay right by me for brief forays into the yard regardless of fencing (or lack thereof) but if you put a leash on him, he becomes a 32 lb pulling machine (which feels more like 50 lbs, especially since he's got short legs and a long body which gives him extra pulling power). And, if I don't go with them, he does his darndest to return to the house like a horse to a barn. Should keep them all busy for a little while (and, hopefully, tire them out - evil Auntie Bel).

So, four children, one adult and a dog should be able to survive in an 800 ft house with two bedrooms and one bath without it imploding, right?