So much for well-made plans.  I had thought that I would be able to get the carpets scrubbed in at least two of the kids’ bedrooms on Saturday since it was our “alone” weekend and all of the kids would be with their other parents.  No such luck.  It turns out that our house is the house of choice for some of our kids.  They show up here a lot, even on the “alone” weekends.  Here is what I was able to accomplish instead of scrubbing carpets:

Accomplishment #1 – I got to interact with Huh and some of her friends on Saturday morning when they showed up at our house looking for “something to do.”  That night was the Cosmos dance at their school (a girl’s choice dance) and so  for their “day” activity they had gone to one of the girls’ houses to tie-dye their shirts for the dance.  The type of tie-dying they chose to do only took twenty minutes, so they came to our house to see if we had any ideas on what they could do for the rest of the morning.  One of the girls was dateless and I asked where her date was.

“Hunting,” was her reply.  “He’s pheasant hunting.”

“Oh.  Well why don’t you all go see if you can find him?”

After they all laughed and made comments about how funny it would be to go hunt Mason while he was out hunting, they shot my idea down and asked for another idea.  So much for getting rid of them (wink, wink).  Hub asked if they were hungry, and of course all of the teen boys raised their hands and chorused, “Yes!  Food!”  Hub began making German pancakes and I suggested that while the pancakes were baking they all go shopping for the banana split stuff they would need when they came to our house for the after-dance activity.  I handed Huh my credit card and seven teenagers rushed out the door.

When they finally returned 45 minutes later, they were loaded down with grocery bags.  They got a kick out of me examining the store receipt and pointing out in mock consternation that there were twenty one items on the receipt.  “How can you possibly need twenty one items for banana splits?”

They spent double the amount I had intended to spend on the banana splits, and Huh told me she would do extra chores around the house to make up the difference.  The teens enjoyed the German pancakes and we got to laugh and joke around with them until noon, when it was time for the girls to take the boys home to relax until they picked them up for dinner and the dance later that night.

I actually accomplished two things with that activity.  Not only did I get to interact with Huh and some of her friends (which is always a good thing for a parent to do) I also learned a valuable lesson.  Never send a bunch of hungry teenagers to the grocery store with your American Express card!

Accomplishment #2– Mack ended up sleeping at our house on Friday night (looong story as to why).  On Saturday she finished drawing her entry and writing the essay for a dress design contest she wanted to enter.  It was too late to mail the entry and so she needed to hand deliver it to one of the locations here in the valley.  She tried several times to reach her father on the phone to see if he could take her to deliver the entry.  It is his weekend to have her and I always insist the kids try him first on his weekends.  She was never able to get a hold of him, so after Huh and her friends had left, I told Mack to get in the car and we would deliver her entry and then she could go with me to run some errands.

The carpets still waited.  But, I got to spend time with my daughter, chatting in the car as we ran our errands.  And, I got to overhear two employees at the store where we delivered Mack’s contest entry whisper to each other about how much they liked her entry.  One of them then said loudly across the store so that Mack, who was examining some dresses on a rack, could hear, “Hey, I like your dress design.”

Mack got a big grin on her face and said, “Thanks!”  I nodded and smiled at her and was happy I was able to help her deliver her entry.

Accomplishment # 3– This accomplishment actually started about a week and a half before.  Huh and her friends were planning their activities for the dance and had decided to have Hub make some of his fabulous Japanese food, which would be cheaper for them than taking their dates to a restaurant.  I was talking to Huh about her plans and mentioned that all of the activities revolved around our house.  I said that maybe her dad would like to be a part of some of it too, especially since the dance fell on his weekend to have the kids.  Huh nodded and said, “I have actually been thinking about that.  I wonder if Dad would make some of his homemade Italian food?”

“Why don’t you call him and ask him?”

“Yeah, I think I will.”

My ex was more than happy to do it.  So why is this such a big accomplishment on my part?  There was a time when I was so angry about the divorce that I would have never wanted Huh and her friends to share these happy dating times with him.  I would have stated that he didn’t deserve to experience this part of his daughter’s life.  I’ve made a conscious effort to let go of the anger and move on.  I guess enough healing has occurred.  I pat myself on the back for suggesting to my daughter that she share part of the evening with her father.

Hub’s accomplishment– Hub and I have paid for a booth at an upcoming boutique at Wheeler Farm on November 22 to show products from his new business and to show the new weight loss product that I sell.  We planned on using part of Saturday to get things ready for the boutique.  Instead, Squid and Shroom called Hub and asked him if he wanted to go biking with them.  They had picked a trail near where Hub grew up and wanted him to show them around.  How could Hub say no to that?  He went.

Hub came home later that night with a torn sweatshirt and a bruised hand from a fall that happened when he took a turn too fast.  He got to listen to my lecture about wearing a bike helmet and being more careful.  But, he also had tales of watching his boys take jumps and showing them around the area he knew as a kid.

Carpets scrubbed this weekend = 0; Tasks completed for the boutique = 0; Time spent with kids = PRICELESS!

We do have towel racks in our house.  They just don’t get used.  Every single day there are towels on the floor or on the counters in the kids’ bathrooms.  Every single day.  And all I hear when I ask whose towels have not been hung up is the famous “its not mine” line. 

I guess we have a ghost.  Some little towel spirit whose sole purpose is to spread towels on the floor, counter, toilet, and sometimes even on the bottom of the bathtub.  A phantom that doesn’t limit itself to the bathrooms, but also makes sure to spread the kitchen towels all over the kitchen in every place but where they were originally hung.  One would think that supernatural happenings would be limited to more important things than lowly household towels, but not in our house.

I’ve tried everything.  I’ve begged, pleaded, cajoled, reminded, all to no avail.  I bought each of the kids their own towel in their own color.  That way I could see who was leaving their towels on the floor.  It didn’t last for long, the kids chose to use whatever towel they wanted.

I tried putting the towels in my bedroom closet so that the kids would have to come to me for a towel.  I would then know what towel they were using and could nab them when they didn’t hang it up.  That only worked for a week, then the kids just started going into my closet and helping themselves to the towels whenever I wasn’t around.  And I continued to hear, “It’s not mine.”  

I tried giving the kids the responsibility of cleaning up the bathroom for an entire week each.  I thought if they had to clean up towels that their siblings (oops, I mean the ghost) had left lying around they would get tired of it and put pressure on the offending parties.  It didn’t work.  Towels still appeared on everything except the towel racks, even after the person assigned to clean up had finished the job.

So, I now put it out to the blogoshere.  Are there any out there who have successfully rid themselves of the Towel Trickster?  How do I get this particular haunting to stop?  Or, are we doomed to let our towel racks gather dust?

Maybe I should introduce a new policy of drip and dry.