22 December 2009

The Writer in the Family

I told a friend that you can tell our Christmas letter was written by the writer in the family (that would be me) and not the scientist.  I don't think scientists generally use words like "morass".  Not that it's so long, it's just more of an English Major kind of word.

Anyway, all those notes I've been sending hither and yon have really gotten me in the mood for writing letters, and since the budget can't handle another postal onslaught yet, and because I hope that many people who stop by my blog will fall into either one category or the other, here's one I wrote today:

Dear friends and family,

     People always say that God never gives us more than we can handle - the corollary statement being, of course, that one wishes his opinion of one was not quite so high.  With David's long hours, repeated family illness, my recent miscarriage, and my teething nearly-2-yr.-old, I've been "on my last nerve" for a while now.  This Fall I've begun to truly understand those who look forward with such hope to that sweet invitation "Enter, now, into thy Father's rest."  Because rest simply hasn't been a part of my recent existence.
     But God...that wonderful phrase.  He does see.  He does know.  And just as my house began to burst at the seams with the uncontainable energy of my children, the snow began to fall.  You'll pardon me, I'm certain, for viewing this as a personal gift.
     The first morning they woke up to snow on the ground, they couldn't get outside fast enough.  Monkey1 had been asking for a snowball fight for over a week, and the fact that the snow was barely a dusting didn't slow him down at all.  Of course Monkey3 had to be suited up and sent out, too.  And a blessed silence descended on my home.  I remember playing in the snow for what seemed hours as a child, but I never appreciated what a gift that was to my mother until now.
     I've just run out to heft the second layer of snowman to its rightful place, and now I'm sitting in silence broken only by the ticking clock.  Bliss.  (Incidentally, as we peeled wet layers off our children when they returned indoors that first morning, we realized Monkey2 had been in such a rush to get outdoors, she had put her snowsuit on over nothing but her pull-up.)
     This has been a difficult season for so many people, and a period of rest is hard to come by.  Let me encourage you to lean hard on God through difficult times.  Know that he will carry you when another step seems impossible.  I've been there.  And when those moments of rest appear (all too briefly, at times!) don't grasp them too tightly.  There will be another.  As my moment passes (and the children begin pounding at the door) I will move forward to the next thing, trusting that rest will come again just when I need it most.
     If you'll excuse me now, I have a young man requesting details for blowing up "snowmans."  :-)
     God's grace and peace to you all.

~The Rambling Housewife

16 December 2009

Christmas Decorating Mishaps

This post over at Rural Revolution made my day.  What a funny story!

15 December 2009

Christmas Letter

I know there are mixed feelings regarding Christmas letters.  I have always enjoyed getting them, seeing pictures of each family, and reading their news.  Maybe my parents' friends just didn't take many exotic vacations, but I've never seen them as simply a platform for bragging.  Rather, it was a nice way to catch up one's entire circle of family and friends, without having to write "Jimmy lost his first tooth!" twenty times in a row.

The first year we were married we were far too broke to contemplate sending any sort of Christmas card or letter to all our friends and family.  The second year, I went a little crazy and handmade over fifty Christmas cards, sending each one out with at least a small note.  That was before I had children.

I'm a bit of a perfectionist, and of course the Mad Scientist started grad school the next year, so the combination of a tight budget (again) and knowing there was no way I could possibly replicate my feat of the previous year meant that I actually haven't sent out anything at all for...four years now.  Is that right?  Wow, that's atrocious.  No wonder none of our friends send us a card anymore.

But this year, big changes are in the air, so I bought some Christmas stationary and wrote a letter, just a quick update, to let everyone know what is going on in our lives.  I hope we hear back from them.  My mailbox has been looking so forlorn, with nothing in it but bills and junk mail...

Here's my Christmas letter (names have been changed to protect the guilty parties)

Dear friends and family,
                Our life has felt like a slow plodding the last few years, trudging along through the morass of grad school.  Much like the wise men, we have traveled such a tremendous distance, trusting that God had put us here for a reason, and that we were following his leading.  Suddenly, the end has appeared, and we have moved into a frenetic pace where everything must be done yesterday.  It’s exhausting, and somewhat frightening.  Six months ago I knew what my future looked like – an indefinite period of long hours and little pay, small children, and a perpetually messy house (despite my best efforts).  It was difficult, but there was joy there too, day to day, and at least I knew what to expect.  Now everything is uncertain, and I’m reminding myself that this is a time for excitement, and not panic!
                The Mad Scientist meets with his committee this week to ask, “If I ask you to marry me, will you say ‘yes’?”  (I was the last person he said that to.)  In other words, if he presents his thesis, will they graduate him?  We expect the answer to be yes, and he is actually scheduled to walk in the graduation ceremony on Sunday.  It’s marking, not quite the end, but the beginning of the end of this chapter in our lives. 
                He has been offered a post-doctorate position in Germany.  We will leave in early March and be gone approximately 3 months.  I will return at the end of May for my youngest brother’s wedding, and the Mad Scientist will be home soon thereafter.  We have no idea what is happening after that, and would appreciate your prayers in that area.
                All the children are well, and growing up so quickly.  Monkey1 was 5 in October, Monkey2 will be 4 in July, and Monkey3, my little Wild Man, will be 2 in March.  I started home schooling Monkey1 this year.  It was the only logical response to his perpetual questions, and really just put an official title on what I was already doing.
                I started a blog several months ago, and if you’d like more frequent updates on our life, that is the place to check.  The address is www.kitchensinkinc.blogspot.com.
                We have been blessed so much with family and good friends.  We think and speak of each one of you often, and hope you will take time to send some news our way, as you are able.

The Rambling Housewife

13 December 2009

I'm the Julenissen

In Norway, the julenissen are little gnomes, and they help decorate for Christmas.  I wished I could import some, the winter I was pregnant with Monkey2.  I was overwhelmed, and hadn't really bothered doing much for Christmas.  We had just moved, and Monkey1 was a handful I had trouble dealing with in pregnancy-induced haze of exhaustion.  So Christmas got put on a back burner.

Then I went to my Mom's Night Out, which is hosted by our senior pastor's wife for the young mothers in our church.  And her house was beautiful (as usual), and I came home with a different perspective.

Catherine Marshall, in her novel, Christy, talks about one character whose house was decorated beautifully.  She says Miss Alice used simple things, such as a bowl of apples, but always with an eye toward enhancing their beauty and accenting the room with color and form.  And she says, "manlike," the men didn't notice these small touches of grace and beauty.  But she could see them respond to them when they entered Miss Alice's home, just the same.

I determined to be like Miss Alice.  I, too, could choose to create an atmosphere of beauty and simplicity, using what I had available, to bless my family.

It being Christmas, (but the budget being very tight) I thought about how I could add a few extra touches.  That year, I went to Big Lots and purchased a few candles and some inexpensive spools of ribbon.  Then I used some small figurines we had gotten from my husband's grandfather's house, and decorated for Christmas.   And the Mad Scientist noticed, and was blessed.

The next year, last year, I got some more ribbon, and we put up a tree.  I spread about a few more candles I had found at Goodwill, and some small oil lamps I found someplace.  And the house was beautiful, with just those simple touches.

This year, the monkeys were old enough to enjoy decorating for Christmas, too.  I determined to let them be a part of it (and not to crab at them if things didn't go the way I thought they should...no matter how hard I had to bite my tongue).  I bought to gingerbread kits at Aldi's, and during Monkey3's nap we (read: they) decorated them.  They had fun, and I didn't crab at all.  I was very proud of myself.

Then, The Nester announced she was hosting a holiday decoration house tour at her blog.  She posted a tutorial on using what you have, and linked to someone (wish I could find that link!) who made beautiful things...from dollar store stuff.  Now, THAT I can do!  So I was totally inspired.  Not only that, I also had a deadline, so I was a woman on a mission!

Thomas Edison said all you need to invent is a good imagination, and a pile of junk.  I had the Nester filling in the imagination part for me, so I hit the dollar store for my pile of junk.  This is how you make Christmas pretty on a budget.  Here's my pile of junk:

Lots of glass jars:

Lots of ornaments (I was trusting they'd look great, once they were in the jars):

I pulled out my trusty glue gun, and got to work.  Here is what I came up with.  First, I glued a big vase onto a little one, and a small vase onto a sort of glass ice cream dish-type-thing, and filled those and one apothecary jar I had with ornaments:


Those went up on the china hutch in the schoolroom, with the gingerbread houses.  The globe is stored there year-round, but I don't think it's inappropriate to include a globe in the Christmas decor.  The dining room is where I hang my art and things that have come from various places all over the world, and the globe in this season reminds us that Jesus came for the whole world:


So that is a touch of Christmas in the dining/schoolroom.  In the living room, here is the advent log I told you about in this post.  It's on a shelf over the sofa.  The ribbon is from two Christmases ago, purchased (I believe) at Big Lots.  (I learned how to make bows while working at Michael's craft store.)

On top of the bookshelf, I put the ceramic Christmas tree with the little tiny lights, which was left in our basement by the previous owner.  I love it, and so do the Monkeys.  They all helped put in the lights.

There's also a large cinnamon candle, left from my Big Lots trip two years ago.  The table by the front door got my trifle dish, plus all the shoes from St. Nicholas Day.  Also a painting that I absolutely love, of St. Nicholas worshiping the Christ Child.

And the other cinnamon candle.  I believe I got the cloth at a thrift store.  I'm going to hang a wreath on that wall, but tonight it was either make the wreath or put up the blog post.  You can tell what I chose.

The alcove just off the living room is the other room that is currently decorated.  Saturday morning we drove to a town a few miles over, to pick up a t.v. cabinet I had found on Craig's List.  No more coats looking messy on overloaded pegs, but the top was so bare!  So I dug through my fabric stash, and put some boxes and things under it to add different heights.  Then I got out the box of ceramic figurines, some more glass jars, and my oil lamps.  Also the candelabra (definitely my most expensive piece of decor) that was a gift from my mother-in-law.  I put my Peruvian Nativity set front and center.  It was super discounted at Ten Thousand Villages because Mary had been broken and then repaired, but I don't think you can tell:

You can't tell in that picture, but the fabric has little red and gold hearts all over it.  Perfectly appropriate for Christmas, and I can leave it up there for Valentine's Day!  Here's a view of the whole armoire (or at least most of it):

Oh, poor thing.  It's just crying for a tassel on that knob, but I had to make do with a beeswax angel I already had.  It smells nice, and really doesn't look bad at all.

Now, the tree.  The Nester said that a Christmas tree should have a theme.  I went with "Child-Friendly."  We used my ornaments that I got every Christmas growing up, plus a few more we've collected along the way.  We strung lights, and I helped the children make popcorn strings.  (They got tired of it before we had enough to cover the tree.  It fits right in with my theme.)  At the top I put a small bow wired onto a large bow to make a bow full enough to look decent on this rather large tree (about 8 ft.).  But before I show you the finished product,  I have one other picture to show you.  This, my friends, is what happens when you tuck your tree into a corner, and put your lights and ornaments mostly on one side:

Yes, that would be our fully decorated tree, on the floor.  Fortunately, nothing broke (except one angel wing, but I can glue it.)  Boy, that is NOT a noise you want to hear!  But we stood it back up, and I put everything back on.  (I bet I'm the only person who has decorated the same tree twice this year!)  And the finished product is quite nice, even if not completely "themed."  :-)

Note Monkey3 peering around his door, trying to see what is going on.  For a tree skirt, I used a quilt that was a gift from my mother-in-law.  I don't remember if she made it, or perhaps her grandmother pieced it.  There are a few other small touches here and there.  I still need to make the wreath, and there's a large dresser in our bedroom that I have to get cleaned off so I can put up our German Pyramid.  But for the most part, the house is decorated.  I spent $40 at the dollar store, and didn't use everything I bought so some of it will go back.  This year, I'm the Julenissen, and my family gets to enjoy the Christmas atmosphere.  They'll notice the detail, though, because I'm going to drag them around the house and point out every little thing!  :-)  This Christmas, make merry for your family and yourself with some simple decorations.  It doesn't take much time or money, but the results are beautiful!

This post is linked to Sharing Christmas at A Day With the Demos, and The Nester's holiday home tour:

Christmas Tour of Homes with The Nester

11 December 2009

Anatomy of a Tantrum

It's important to recognize a tantrum quickly, because the sooner you can intervene, the more likely you are to be able to head it off.  So, for the good of mankind, here is the basic progession to look for - First, the child will fling himself on the floor (occasionally checking first to be sure the landing will be soft, but not necessarily).  Note the glance to be sure I am paying attention:

Next, the child will gasp, scream, weep, and possibly flail, as though he has completely lost the ability to control himself, and is simply overcome by the injustice of the situation:

Don't allow yourself to be taken in, however.  He is not, in fact, overcome and lost to the world because of the depth of feeling your injustice has provoked.  He will prove this by attempting to prevent documentation of the aforementioned ridiculous behaviour (naturally without breaking character as the most put upon child in the history of mankind.  I'm dealing with a professional here.) by looking away from the camera (only after he is sure you are watching):

That's ok though.  I have enough evidence to wreak my revenge, as soon as he starts dating... (insert evil chuckle here).

For the record, I try to stop the tantrums as the child is en route to the floor, in step one.  Not succeeding at that, completely ignoring them is my next coping mechanism of choice.  Or, occasionally, grabbing the camera.  What I do NOT do, is run around in a panic, trying to fix whatever started the tantrum. 

I'm still learning how to deal with these.  Monkeys 1 and 2 didn't pitch fits like this.  I really need to perfect my technique quickly though, because they've started indicating some interest in trying Monkey3's method. 
Any advice will be appreciated, pondered, and possibly even followed.  :-)

10 December 2009

Somebody Get Me a Stick

I have three children (I may have mentioned this before) under the age of...well, under the age of Five-and-a-Half, let's say.  This means that I have totally insane quantities of laundry.  I use cloth diapers, cloth napkins, and rags in the kitchen and for cleaning, rather than paper towels.  (My contribution for the good of the planet; you can all thank me later).

All of this means that my laundry breeds in dark corners, and threatens to consume the entirety of my living space on any given day.  Don't believe me?  Take a look at this:

This is my laundry, a mere three days after returning from New Hampshire, where I washed all the clothes except what we were actually wearing, the day before we left.  Actually, this isn't all my laundry, because it doesn't include sheets, towels and rags, or diapers.  And that picture doesn't even show the true extent of it.  Let me show you a different angle:

Yes, the pile is a basket, overflowing with I know not what.  (It can't be clothes.  Five people do not produce that many dirty clothes in three days anywhere short of, perhaps, a working cattle ranchPW, I feel for you.) And the hamper?  Well, that's overflowing, too. 

Do you know that women used to beat their clothes with a very large stick, as part of the routine cleaning process?  I've said before how grateful I am for my modern conveniences, but some tiny part of me thinks that may have felt just a wee bit satisfying.  Just imagine, Ancient Woman, off to beat her laundry into submission.  She didn't have to spend time at the gym keeping her arms toned, either.

Getting Ready: Advent

Advent is the season of preparation and waiting for Christmas.  It begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and lasts 'til Christmas Eve.  Then there are, officially, twelve days of Christmas, which end on Epiphany, Jan. 6.  This is the day we remember the Visitation of the Magi.

Many families will have an Advent wreath, with one candle for each Sunday.  Frequently in churches a brief devotion is read, and the appropriate candles lit, before service begins.  In my family, we did things just a bit differently.  (You knew that was coming, didn't you?)

We had an Advent Log.  It had a candle for each day.  Purple, the color of penitence, is used for the weekdays, and white for Sundays.  Every evening we would read a (very quick) devotion.  We used this book, Celebrate While We Wait.  It's written for families with young children, so the readings are very short.  Then there are also suggested Bible readings, songs and hymns, and some activities, which you can use as the children get older.  My parents still do these readings every year, with whatever "children" happen to be around.

The problem, in my house, has been the log.  The last few years, I used styrofoam blocks that the Mad Scientist stuck together and drilled out.  I filled them with evergreens, and they looked very nice, but they weren't the birch log of my childhood.  You may not know this, but birch is rather scarce in the Midwest.

I was completely delighted, earlier this summer, when the Mad Scientist presented me with my very own birch log.  Now it only needed to be prepared to hold candles:

This involved some calculations, which made me very glad I didn't have to do it myself.  The log was a bit shorter than the recommended length, so we really needed to get the spacing for the candle holes right.  The Mad Scientist invited a Chinese co-worker over to "help us decorate the tree."  He's never experienced an American Christmas before.  I'm sure he left thinking we were all completely insane.

I'll be putting up a post with the finished decorations in time for The Nester's holiday house tour, on Monday.  You can see the finished result then.  Meanwhile, the Monkeys helped decorate the tree.  Our lights didn't work, and when the men ran out to the store (only the second emergency trip of the afternoon) they didn't bring home enough lights.  So we only decorated the bottom half:

And I promised them all cookies.  It's a good thing I had some already stashed (Mom sent me home with a box of the secret-family-recipe Sugar Cookies).  Want to know why?  Sure you do:

Yeah, those are supposed to be Mexican Wedding Cakes.   It turns out, if you double all the other ingredients, you really need to double the flour, too.

But a good time was had by all, and now, (only two weeks late) we are prepared for this season of Preparation.

09 December 2009

Totally Flabbergasted

I am completely astonished to realize that people "out there" are actually looking at my blog.  I mean, I only put that counter on four days ago, and already it's counted over 100 individual visits.  (Side note, that thing is really cool.  If you have a blog, click over and check it out, because it is really neat).

I had no idea.  I just assumed that my little blog was sort of lost in some tiny corner of that big cyber world out there, and no one but my family, and a few friends, had seen it.  I feel so motivated now that I can see people are actually reading this thing! 

So, now it's your turn.  Drop a line, say "hi," and tell me what you think I should post on next.  What prompted you to stop by, and did you find what you were looking for? 

Come on, don't just poke your head in the door.  Stop and chat for a minute!

St. Nicholas Day: or "How we do the Santa-thing"

It's always a matter for discussion at this time of year:  Do you "do" Santa?  Why, or why not?

My family has German heritage, and we always celebrated St. Nicholas Day.  It falls on December 5th, but my mother was annually caught unprepared, so I grew up thinking it was on December 6th.  In countries all over the world, children put out shoes (or stockings, this is where that tradition got started) so St. Nicholas can come and fill them with treats.  Alternately, if you've been naughty, he might leave coal, potatoes, or switches, depending on the country.  St. Nicholas was a bishop in the early church, in Myra (modern-day Turkey).  He is where the Santa Claus myth began.

We have found that celebrating his day separately is a nice way to enjoy the historic and fun aspect of "Santa Claus" without confusing our children about why we celebrate Christmas.  This page has lots of ideas for activities and crafts that you can do to learn more about St. Nicholas.

We dutifully put out our shoes, and found a grand surprise the next morning!

Now, we have explained to the children that Santa Claus is a game some people like to play, and, similarly, they know that it wasn't actually St. Nicholas who put the gifts in their shoes.  The chocolate St. Nicholas figures were from Tante Anja and Onkel Markus, and were a big hit:

And the play dough set was a gift from Grandpa and Bestemor, and has provided hours of entertainment, making me feel that the bright blue dried dough in the cracks of the diningroom table is completely and totally worth it.

Happy St. Nicholas Day!

This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday over at We Are THAT Family.  Hop over there for other good ideas.

08 December 2009

Burning a Hole in his Pocket

There is a private preschool near us that does a consignment sale fundraiser twice a year.  It's a really nice set up, because the consignors get a bit more for their things than they probably would at a yard sale, and the preschool has built up the reputation of the sale enough that it's become pretty popular.  They go over each item and reject any that are stained or extremely worn, so people know when they shop there they will be able to get a good bargain on nice things.  Mostly I just hope I'll make enough money to cover what I spend.

The sale happens twice a year, spring and fall.  I have had a large toy in my house, which finally made it out to the fall sale this year.  It was big, and one of the type that makes noises (I can't stand noise-making toys; I really believe they're the bane of parents everywhere, and can't understand why so many get sold.  Who buys these things?), and I had stashed it in an out-of-the-way corner just waiting for the sale to come along.  I planned to sneak it out to the car, with no monkey the wiser.  They hadn't seen it, or asked for it, for six months at least.  Well.

I didn't get it out to the car the night before the sale drop-off.  And Monkey1 had a total meltdown when he saw it on the way out the door.  I was running late, so the Mad Scientist was left to deal with it.  I had an attack of MommyGuilt on the way there, however, and called home.  "Sweetheart" I said in my most reasonable voice, "you haven't seen or played with this thing for months, and you never missed it.  We don't have room for it."  Etc., etc., because Monkey1 was undeterred.  He wanted to his large, noisy toy back, and was completely unswayed by my pleading reasoning.  Until I hit on the magic words.  "I think I can get a lot of money for it at the sale." I told him.  And just like that, he said "Ok."  And that discussion was over.

I had already told him that he could have the money for any of his toys he was willing to part with.  Those, together with the one I failed to be stealthy enough with, added up to about $20 once the consignor's fees were subtracted.  Monkey1 also got some money for his birthday, and he has been just itching to spend his wealth ever since.

First he wanted Diesel10, from Thomas the Tank Engine.  Then he wanted a racing car track from Wal-Mart, which I vetoed in spite of his assurance that he wouldn't mind if it broke within days of the purchase.  He simply couldn't wait to spend this money (in his defense, it's the first time he's had money of his own.  And he did very cheerfully put slightly more than 10% in the Salvation Army bucket for his tithe).  And so when he began pleading to be allowed to purchase yet another really cool thing he couldn't live without, the Mad Scientist and I finally gave in:

He's very, very pleased with his new toy, and I'm relieved that I don't have to hear any more about what he wants to buy.

He's actually been sharing very nicely with his brother and sister as well.  And I suspect that the Mad Scientist is really quite pleased with the way it has all worked out...

Just a hunch.  :-)

07 December 2009

First Haircuts

It has been mentioned more and more lately, that Monkey3 really could use a haircut.  And so, while the Mad Scientist was in L.A. (a couple of weeks ago, now) I finally broke down and gave him one.  That first haircut is so hard.  It's when my little boy really turns in to a little boy, and isn't my baby any more.  I have a hard time with that (plus both my boys have been pretty squirmy) so I delay it as long as possible.  But at last, I suddenly decided that it needed to be done.  Carpe Momentum:

He so precious!  Just look at those beautiful curls!

Ah, but all good things must come to an end...well, actually, that's not true, but we're not getting into theology here.  I was telling you about Monkey3's hair.  All gone  

My only consolation is, he's just so darn cute.  And it's really quite a nice haircut, even if I do say so myself.  :-)

Now, I had been wanting to cut Monkey2's hair as well.  Just a nice little crop, about chin length, to straighten it up a bit.  Because the layers were sort of hard to deal with...

I didn't want to go too short though.  I loved her long hair, and thought a nice trim would be perfect.  But no, she wanted none of it.  Until I finished with Monkey3.  I casually queried, "Would anyone else like a haircut?"  And she piped up, "Yes, JUST like Monkey3's!"

I was traumatized.  I tried to talk her out of it.  I loved her long hair!  But finally she explained that she wanted it out of her eyes, and off her ears.  And I remembered that I always swore my kids could do whatever they wanted to with their own hair, because there are more important things in life to draw a line in the sand for.  Or against.  Such as tattoos.  So, chop, chop, off it all came.  (I may have teared up, just a little bit)  (I got control of myself quickly though.)  And really, when I looked at it objectively (which only took a few days) I think hers is pretty cute too.


Overall, I'm pretty pleased with the results.  They're such good-looking children, really, it's hard to mess things up too much.  :-D  Although I haven't really solved the gender confusion issues.  Now instead of people complementing me on my adorable toddler girl with the long blond curls,  people keep telling me how nice my three boys are.  Can no one see any gender clues besides hair length?  Seriously!

04 December 2009

Home Again, Home Again

Back from a lovely visit with my family in NH, and the laundry is already out of control.  I don't understand how that happens.  I washed everything except what we were wearing the day before we left my parents', and now, two days later, my laundry basket is completely overflowing.  My dear husband looked at it last night and said "Huh.  You've only been home for one day, and you're already behind on the laundry." 

Then I hit him really hard with a pillow, and put on the baggiest, least sexy pajamas I could find.  :-)

I'm attempting to get somewhat back on track with something resembling a schedule, and school, but the monkeys got used to running all over the place at their grandparents' house.  My parents have a HUGE backyard, plus a barn full of goats.  The children loved the goats.  And the ducks.  And the chickens.  I loved that I didn't have to work nearly so hard keeping them all busy. 

But now we're home again, without the cohort of animals to keep them all entertained.  What's a mother to do?  I took them out to the play area at the mall today.  I took my knitting.  I didn't let them ride the carousel first, so Monkey3 (you knew it would be him, right?) didn't spend the entire time trying to escape from the play area back to the carousel...like last time.  I can be taught!

So I got to knit for almost an hour, and the monkeys wore themselves out.  It was great.  We went to Wal-Mart afterwards, and then Monkey3 fell asleep in the car on the way home.  So soundly, in fact, that I carried him into the house, put him in bed, took off his coat, and removed both boots without waking him up.  It was a beautiful thing.

Now, I'm off to watch an educational film with my beloved.  I'll leave you with a quick Monkey Moment - The oldest two monkeys were playing pirates today, and I overheard this conversation:

M1: (very excited and emphatic) I'm Captain Hook, and you're Captain Stick, and we're gonna learn to work together!

M2: (in her "delighted little girl" voice) Yes, we are!

M1:  We can't fight each other!  We have to work together to fight good guys and steal their treasure!

(an opinionated housewife wonders where she went wrong as a mother)

03 December 2009

Thinking Through the Options

Monkey1 likes to contemplate things, and think through everything carefully.  He doesn't like being rushed, or having to make snap decisions.  (He takes after the Mad Scientist that way.  I am the snap decision maker in the family.)  So it was not completely a surprise tonight when he announced to the Mad Scientist a decision he has apparently come to on his own, after much pondering.

They were in the bathroom at Chick-Fil-A (WHY do these sorts of conversations always happen in public restrooms?!) where he had refused to use the urinal.  Now, this oldest son of ours has been presented with two options (one from each parent) for cleaning his equipment after he's done using it.  After seating himself on the throne he solemnly announced that, when he makes "tinkle,"

"I really prefer to wipe, instead of just shake off the drips.  Toilet paper is more useful, and quicker."

I swear that's practically word for word, and coming so very seriously out of a five-year-old, that's pretty funny.  I will just add that, as the parent who does the laundry, I'm very pleased with his decision.  Isn't life with boys fun?  :-D

23 November 2009

True Love

Some women hate laundry, but the chore I despise the most is cleaning the kitchen.  Laundry can be finished and then ignored for a day or two.  The kitchen gets dirty again the second you turn your back.  I hate it, and so my kitchen is usually in a barely acceptable state of "not quite a health hazard."

These last few weeks have been difficult, for rather obvious reasons. What isn't so obvious is that they are coming along as the most recent in a series of difficult times, that have been following close on one another's heels ever since the beginning of August. So the miscarriage was just the latest in a Series of Unfortunate Events. But it was the hardest, and for a while there, I was really struggling.

I've been weepy and emotional (every man's favourite), and I have been making the Mad Scientist late for work because I've been sleeping to totally ridiculous hours. And I've barely done any school with the children for about three weeks now. And the housework (never under control) is slipping even further from my grasp, while meal planning has gone completely out the window.

Through all of the difficulties, which would surely make most men throw up their hands in despair and disgust, my sweet husband has loved me in the most tangible ways possible.  He has given me space when I needed it, a shoulder to lean on when I needed to cry.  He wept with me as our hopes for my pregnancy ended.  He has watched the children so I could have a break, even more than he usually does.  But the most tangible thing of all?  He's been keeping the kitchen clean:

Now THAT is sexy!

21 November 2009

Let's Hear from Someone Else on Biblical Marriage

In this discussion, I have been wishing for a good example of a marriage where both husband and wife fulfill their roles.  This article from No Greater Joy is such an example.

Here, here and here are articles discussing the problems with The Patriarchy Movement, as it relates to children.  One thing I love about the Pearls is, they don't pull any punches, but tell it just like it is.  Especially note this paragraph in the last article:
Now, I would like to deal with the issue of balance. Published truth is too often delivered like a pendulum; it swings from side to side, extreme to opposite extreme, always seeking rest. Each person receiving it is responsible to assimilate the whole spectrum and to strike a balance. That is the continual challenge of one’s intellectual existence.
 Italics are mine.

The Most Patient Mother in the World

Today I flew to New Hampshire to visit my parents.  I did this alone, (which is to say, I was the only adult) with all three of the monkeys.  I spent two flights of approximately one hour each wrestling Monkey3, trying to get him not to climb the seat back directly in front of me or kick his sister.  I have been up since 5 a.m.  I am exhausted.

At the baggage claim after the last flight, an elderly woman who had been seated across the aisle from me complemented me on the older two children's behaviour, and said "You must be the most patient mother in the world!" 

Yes, some days I think so too.  But only when I'm in public.  I don't put on nearly so good an act at home.  I told her, "I only wish that were true!"

Why is it so much easier to be kind and patient when everyone is watching?  I'm so grateful for my children, who remind me "Mama, you don't need to sound so angry!  You don't need to shout!"  (Sometimes they even say it in a nice voice, rather than one like mine).  I'm grateful for their forgiveness, and God's forgiveness too.  And I'm thankful every day that there is grace to cover my mistakes, and that God is working in my children's lives, sometimes using me, sometimes in spite of me, always to draw them closer to himself.

19 November 2009

Season's Greetings

It's that time of year again, when people begin to search for the perfect gift to express their love for each member of their own little world.  I read a book last year that actually suggested knitting several extra scarves to keep in a basket, rolled up and tied individually with ribbon, to offer as impromptu gifts to those guests (or possibly the postal worker) who might stop by and catch you unprepared.  Seriously?  Do you know how long it takes to knit a SCARF?  By hand?

I ran through Sears today on the way to the portrait studio, (can we pause to appreciate the irony of "The Little Drummer Boy", a song about giving from the heart despite poverty, being piped over the loudspeaker at the mall?)  and noticed tables laid out in the middle of all the aisles, piled with "small" (think size, not price) things that would make good stocking stuffers.  You can imagine my surprise when I spotted an entire table of what appeared to be hand-knit socks, in a chunky-weight yarn.  "Wow," I thought.  "They actually look like they were really knitted by hand.  Someone is definitely going to be passing those off as 'made for you with love' this year!"  A sock knitter myself, I had to stop for a better look.  Sure enough, each pair carried a small label that assured they were "hand-crafted." 

That's the joy of the season!  Nothing really says "I support slave labour in the third world" like hand-crafted socks you bought at the mall.

18 November 2009

That's like my life

I tried to just post the picture here, but it won't let me.  Follow this link please.  Now, this comic has been on my 'fridge for a while, and I still can't decide which part I find the most humorous:  the inverted play pen, or the bull whip.

Is it really sad that my favourite comic has gone from Calvin and Hobbes, to Baby Blues?  I think I'm having a mid-life crisis.

17 November 2009

Further thoughts on biblical marriage

Wow, so apparently all I have to do to find out if I actually have anyone reading is to post on a REALLY controversial topic. Which means I must have gained a few readers since I put up my thoughts on the NRA. What, you couldn't all just drop a note to say I have cute children? :-)

I clearly touched on some sensitive issues with my last post. In particular commenter #6 shared some thoughts that I found troubling. I debated whether I should respond, and have decided that I will. I am not doing this so much in response to her, but because I know there are other women out there in the same situation. If what I have to say helps even one of them, I will feel it was worthwhile. (To sound terribly cliche) So, if I sound a bit more strident in this post than a simple response to this commenter seems to warrant, know that it is because I am trying to sound a wake-up call to other women who are still struggling with this. I don't mean to be harsh.

I will be posting the entire comment here, with my thoughts interspersed. To begin:
Anonymous said...

Marry an abusive man who believes in patriarchy and see what happens.
It is true that I have a wonderful, godly husband. I hesitate to address women in abusive marriages with a list of "you shoulds", because I've never been there. But I am able to address, as far as my understanding allows, what a God-honoring, biblical marriage is...and what it is not.
As for wives being doormats, it all depends on the man who is the leader. If he tells you you're not allowed to give your opinion, then you're not. If he tells you to jump, you jump. The way the man leads you is dependant on the man. Patriarchy provides very few caveats. No oversight. No accountability for the man, really, of any sort.
Now, I would like to make a few points in response to this paragraph. First, an abuser doesn't need biblical justification for his abuse...in fact, has none. There is no biblical justification for a man abusing his wife. That isn't leadership. It isn't biblical headship. It's just abuse. Even if it's never physical, if a man treats his wife like dirt, he is abusing her and is completely outside the biblical guidelines for marriage.
I said in my last post, that I have not read much literature from "The Patriarchy Movement". Careful readers will have noted that, throughout that post, I never capitalized "patriarch" while I was trying to define it. I wasn't trying to justify a "movement." I was trying to explain the roles of a husband and wife, as I understand them, in a biblical marriage. (I could perhaps have chosen a title that better expressed that. Sorry.) And my understanding is, that the man is called to be the head, the leader, the one who is ultimately responsible. The wife is called to be a help, a support. This is not the role of a doormat. It is a role of dignity and honor. A man is called to treat his wife with respect, as a co-heir, with him, of the grace of life. He is told to treat her with honor, and that if he does not, his prayers will be hindered. (See 1 Peter 3:7, the oft' unquoted verse at the end of all those "wifely submission" verses.) The Bible DOES NOT justify a man belittling his wife, or abusing her in any way.
As for oversight and accountability for the man, well, that is the role of the church. I'll get into that in a bit.
If you married a nice man, great. Good for you. Those of us who married abusers didn't know it until we were married. Most abusers don't show their true colors until they feel like they've "got" you. For most of us, that wasn't till the honeymoon.
As for the women being taught to be doormats, well, it's in the books. Martha Peace, a favorite of most patriarchal teachers and lauded for her "balanced" approach, teaches that wives are only allowed to have "one appeal." Don't like that your husband just told you that you're not allowed to go to bed until you've cleaned the kitchen spotlessly? You get one appeal. After that, you must submit cheerfully, trusting God. Other patriarchal teachers do much the same. It's in there.
I have never read Martha Peace, so what I have to say next is purely in response to the above paragraph. The Bible does not teach that a wife has only "one appeal." Where does that come from? It is not in Scripture!! Now, I might agree that, if your husband makes a decision you disagree with, and you share your concern (in a respectful way, of course) and he doesn't change his mind, to continue to "appeal" would really just be badgering. In that situation myself, I would let it go and follow my husband's leading. HOWEVER, this woman is not talking about reasonable decisions about which there may be a disagreement. She is talking about a husband who denigrates his wife and treats her like a servant. And there most certainly is an appeal process, set out in Matthew chapter 18, to deal with this:
15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. 16 But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. 17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
In a Christian marriage, is not your husband also your brother in Christ? And, since he is called to treat his wife with honor, then if he fails to do so is he not sinning against her? Then this applies. Just as you would go to the police (and you absolutely should) if your husband abused you physically, I see no problem at all, based on Scripture, with going to your pastor, and then to the church as a whole when he abuses you in every other way. What Martha Peace and other teachers of "The Patriarchy Movement" would say to this, I don't know, but I think that Scripture is quite clear. You have an appeal to a higher authority.
Again, if you have a kind and loving husband, you most likely just don't see it. But for women married to abusive men, we see it. We see it because we scour those books, looking for help, and all they do is tell us that as long as he's not commanding us to sin (murder someone, etc), we have to do exactly as he says or we are in rebellion to God.
Now, this is where I may sound a bit harsh, so please believe me that I do not intend this to come across in that way. But I have to say this: Why waste time scouring books that are only giving you someone's opinion? Spend that time reading your Bible, and you will find that your Bible doesn't agree! Read Mark 7, because this is a perfect example of the commandments of God being laid aside so people can cling to their own tradition, and the doctrine of men!
7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. (From Mark 7)
My commenter continued:

So, we did...it was never enough for him, of course, but we did it all anyway (the more humiliated he made us, the better he felt about himself). The result wans't anything that glorified God though, even though we gave it our very best. The result was destruction. Because you can't submit to an abuser without creating an even worse abuser. Patriarchy taught us that by submitting, we would win our husbands. Patriarchy was a lie. One who was there
No, this is not something that glorifies God. Where was the church in all this? Where is oversight and accountability from the body of Christ? And yes, I am aware that some pastors perpetrate these teachings on their congregations. It is interesting to note that in the verses from Matthew 18 (quoted above) the conclusion is that a man who will not hear the church should be considered a heathen, an unbeliever. And when Paul, in 1 Corinthians chapter 7, discusses marriage between a believer and an unbeliever, he says

15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

Paul also appears to make allowance, in that same passage, for a wife to leave her husband. He says not to, but then explains that, if she does, she should remain unmarried. He does not seem to make allowance for a husband to leave his wife:

10 And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband:
11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.

I am not a Bible scholar. I am not qualified to say when a woman is justified in leaving. I have never had occasion to search the Scriptures, myself, for the answer to that. But I do know that biblical patriarchy does not condone or endorse what this woman went through. Biblical headship is about a shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. A woman is called to submit to her husband, yes. But (as one of my favourite authors said) this is a sacrifice she offers, in faith, to God. No man has the right to stand between his wife and her God and demand that of her. If he understands his own role, he wouldn't even imagine doing such a thing.

Further thoughts, anyone? You can read the initial post here.

15 November 2009

How do you define "biblical patriarchy"?

Amy linked to an interesting article on the Patriarchy Movement, and when my comment in response went into its fourth paragraph, I decided to just post it here. I think there is a great deal of danger in discussing these topics without first defining your terms, because clearly what the other author means by Patriarchy, and what I mean by it, are two completely different things. But I would have answered (if anyone had asked) that I do believe in biblical patriarchal headship in the family...so now I'm curious as to whether the entire movement is really as atrocious as she claims. I guess that means I have some more things to add to my reading list.

Here are my thoughts:

Maybe I just haven't read enough literature from the "Patriarchy Movement" but I've never understood that they teach that women are to be doormats who never ever speak up and give their thoughts in any way, shape, or form, and who allow their husbands to continue in sin without saying anything. That is completely unbiblical.

My understanding of patriarchy is a simple acknowledgment that, on a team, only one person can be the official leader. Only one person can make the final decision. Only one person is in charge of directing the efforts of the rest of the team. Anything else is chaos at worst, and confusion at best. It appeared to me, as I began to look into it, simply to be saying that husbands are designated by scripture to be the team leader, the one who is ultimately responsible. And wives are to support them in that role.

Now, a wife can certainly offer her opinion, and even assume some of the responsibilities of leadership - indeed must, if the family is to run smoothly. A wife can't sit around just waiting to be told what to do all day. She has to think for herself and take some initiative. But this can be done in a way that still respects her husband, and his role as the ultimate leader of the home, just as on a team, one member may be in charge of reading the map, and directing everyone's footsteps, even though they are not the official leader. The leader delegates the responsibility of map-reading to one he knows is capable of doing that well, and the map-reader does not try to convince the whole team that the leader is unfit, simply because he isn't the best map-reader.

It is not supportive to a team leader to allow him to continue, without ever sharing your concern, on a road that will lead to destruction. But you can do that in ways that are respectful of his position of authority. Too many women treat their husbands like rather stupid extra appendages. That condescending attitude is rampant in the culture; one sees it everywhere. Beyond not respecting a husband's role of authority, it is essentially disrespectful to him as a human being. No one suggests that women should tolerate being patted on the head and treated like dimwits. (I have never read any patriarchal material that, as far as I understood it, implied this in any way). But the culture does this to men all the time.

Is it asking too much that women could treat their husbands with respect, and not sabotage them in the difficult role of leader? This doesn't mean being a doormat. It doesn't mean catering to every tyrannical whim. It just means building up, rather than tearing down. Offering support and encouragement, rather than belittling. Sometimes going out of your way to offer some type of recognition (in the same way that you might appreciate flowers, or the chance to have an evening out with friends), that the role of leader is often difficult and tiring. Teaching your children to appreciate the effort their father puts into supporting the family, rather than encouraging them to see him as an impediment or a bumbling fool. My understanding of patriarchy, recognizing the man as head of the household, is that both husband and wife respect each other in the roles to which they are called. One has been assigned as team leader. One has been assigned an equally vital role. (How do you label the team member who is responsible for making sure everything runs smoothly behind the scenes? Is there an official title for that?)

I'd love to hear others' thoughts, but please, keep it polite. I will not publish comments that are simple rants, rather than making a thoughtful, politely stated point.

14 November 2009

Back Again

Hello, Faithful Blog Readers (also the not-so-faithful, and those who are just stopping by). That is to say, greetings and salutations to you all. My computer is back from L.A., (the Mad Scientist is home, too). It is truly a sign of how my life has gone lately, that the week he was gone was the best one I've had in about a month. Sad, but true. It actually occurred to me that perhaps I could get him to stay in L.A. a while longer...No, I didn't consider it seriously (much).

But the monkeys and I had a very nice time, which was probably just the grace of God. He must have known that I was nearly at the end of my rope. My sister-in-law watched them for me two evenings, so I didn't have to miss my knitting night and Mom's Night Out, and that perhaps accounted for why the week went so much better than might have been expected. Mama is a much happier person when she has some knitting time, and bit of a break now and then. A huge thank-you, therefore, is due to my (actually my husband's) sister-in-law. I don't think she reads this blog, but in case she stops by, I'd like to say, "I'm grateful." (Don't worry, I'll send an actual note, too).

Does anyone else out there feel guilty about the fact that going away from her children improves her ability to mother well? I know it's not just me. Everyone I talk to acknowledges this phenomenon. I still wonder, however, to what degree this is a product of our cultural indoctrination, and what degree it is actually simply that mothers really do need the occasional break. To what degree is this simply an attitude problem on my part?

My theory is, that in a tribal or clan setting, and with a great deal of extended family nearby, mothers got a whole lot more in the way of support and regular breaks. It must have been pretty common for a mother to say "Run over to your grandmother's house while I get my spinning done so we'll all have clothes for the winter." Or something to that effect. Right? But not everyone has lived in a tribal or clan situation for all of history. So what did everyone else do? Just go quietly crazy? Clearly not (I think).

I continue to ponder this. I think it may have been more do-able for, say, pioneer women not to have so much of a support network, because their children grew up faster, and contributed more, sooner. But that takes work, too. You certainly do hear of poorly-trained disobedient pioneer children. But one always gets the impression that they were the exception, rather than the rule. And hardly anyone requires as much, as soon, of their children now, as families did at that time. Farm and ranching families are probably the exception, and I suspect the reason for the change is, that so few families live on farms or ranches of any kind, any more. The family's survival and prosperity no longer depends on the children's contribution really to any extent, and so their contribution has grown less and less. Let's face it, keeping your room clean isn't really on par with helping milk, feed, and clean up after the livestock that provide a large portion of your family's food and clothing. (No matter how much the bedroom may look like a barn).

(Break for Pet Peeve: my mother always says, that messy bedrooms do NOT look like barns, because a well-cared-for barn is clean and orderly. If more people lived agrarian lives, we would hear less about bedrooms looking like barns. Just saying.)

Where am I going with this? I really do wonder how much of modern mothers' need for regular breaks (and I do acknowledge it is a need; I'm a much nicer mother on weeks when I have my knit night and such) is self-induced, or a product of the larger culture. In a world where most children could play outdoors when they were done working (also outdoors) did the Crazy not attack quite so ferociously? If a mother could settle in to her spinning, mending, knitting, and enjoy that activity while still feeling productive and useful, did those regular small breaks negate the need for a regular longer one? Or did she have to drop her knitting every two minutes to go break up a fight, or get Jr. out of the marker drawer, just like I do? (Monkey3 found a permanent marker this week. He ruined two shirts before I got smart and hid it instead of putting it away.)

When I knit, most people would say I'm wasting time. When the pioneer woman performed the same enjoyable, productive, relaxing activity, she was performing a vital service for her family as well. Maybe she hated knitting, like I hate cleaning the kitchen. Maybe I need to find a way to find more joy in cleaning the kitchen and dusting. Can we just go back to a world where everyone needed to knit and spin? Or maybe just one where I do? That would work great, for me.

Just rambling...

05 November 2009


No, this is not a health-related post, just in case you were made nervous by the title and our recent health history.

With regards and gratitude to The Nester, who is always an inspiration, and from whom I have learned a great deal...

Yesterday, I was feeling better, and the monkeys were still sick. So they were very subdued. And they took naps. So I actually accomplished something, and you get to read about it. Isn't that wonderful? :-) I was very happy.

At any rate, on to the point: Curtains were a new experience for me when I got married, and are something I'm still learning about. We didn't have curtains on the windows when I was growing up. We lived back in the woods with no neighbors in sight, and my mother likes well-lit rooms. Anything that covered the windows during the day was anathema, and at night was unnecessary. So I knew nothing about curtains at all.

When we moved in to this house, my MIL offered to make curtains for my living room. Curtain fabric costs a fortune, and I wanted the crown molding at the top of my windows to show, so I decided to just ask for a single panel for each window:

Now, this was an ideal gift for an overwhelmed young mother with a new house. My MIL sent me several fabric swatches, and then sewed the curtains as I had described them, with trim she selected to match the fabric I chose. I was very pleased, because they did a great job of covering the windows, which was all I wanted. Plus, I love the fabric, and thought they draped very elegantly when pulled back during the day:

I love the trim! But, further reading and experience taught me that these curtains are not well-scaled to the room. Also, my mother was horrified when she saw how much of the window was covered during the day, and that's been bothering me more and more lately. So when I saw a roll of fabric in Goodwill that perfectly matched my living room colors, I snapped it up. It turned out to be just enough to cut four ten-foot panels from, with just a bit left over:

(Thorvald helped). I proceeded (being limited by nap-time and my own desire to have new curtains sometime this decade) to make these up in true Nester fashion. First, I moved my curtain rods up as high as they would go. They're currently about 1 inch under the crown molding. Then, I folded the top of the fabric panels over about three inches, and spaced the ring-clips evenly across. I strung them on the rods, and hung them up, just like that:

Hanging up the rods wasn't as difficult as I expected. The Mad Scientist got a bit nervous, I think, when I called him up at work to ask where the drill bits were, but didn't say what I wanted them for. (Later he told me that drill bits don't really make him nervous, but if I'd asked for the wrecking bar that would have been cause for serious concern). I just used the cordless drill and screwed them straight into the plaster. I didn't use the drill bits, because they were out in the garage and I didn't feel like going out to get them. I tested a screw in the plaster lower down and it went in just fine, so I just went ahead without them. You can see in the picture above, I hung the first set too low. I moved them up, because they looked better higher. (No, I'm not particularly concerned about the extra holes in the wall. I'll patch them after the monkeys are in bed, next week while the Mad Scientist is out of town. Maybe).

Next, I straightened the fabric out, and folded it under about six inches:

Then I folded that up and hemmed it with safety pins so it just brushes the floor. Because I don't believe in drapes that "puddle." That look doesn't say "richness" to me, it just screams "DUST CATCHER!" Also, when the drapes puddle, the cat nests in them, which puts added stress on the rods. So, at any rate, for just the cost of the fabric ($17) and four sets of ring clips, I have beautiful new curtains for my living room:

Now, I would just like to say, that heavier weight rods would look better, and I also wish that I'd had another 20 ft. of fabric, to add another half-width to each panel. (Although, in that case I would have had to actually sew something, which would probably have meant these would never ever have gotten done). However, I think these curtains are a vast improvement on the previous ones, purely because they're much better scaled to the size of the room. The color is perfect, and overall I'm very pleased. As the Nester always says, "It doesn't have to be perfect, to be beautiful."

Incidentally, I found something to use instead of my pickle crock, as you can see in the photo above. I think that is also a decided improvement.

03 November 2009

Your Pardon, Faithful Blog-readers

Remember that trip to the doctor's office? That was last Wednesday. Thursday, Monkey1 and Monkey3 were both running fevers. (Fortunately, Monkey2 was fine, or I would have been certain it was the fault of the vaccine). Then, they started coughing. Then on Friday, I started coughing. Saturday I felt really tired...of course, that's kind of a constant in my life, so I only really notice it in retrospect these days. But Monkey2 and I both stayed in bed on Sunday...and most of the day Monday. So I'm emerging from about three days of feeling totally completely wiped out...and I have a company coming tonight. Fortunately, all my friends know that my house usually looks like a cyclone just went through, so it's no big deal. But in case you were wondering why I suddenly dropped off the face of the blogging earth, well, there you go.

28 October 2009

Career Change

So, today as we were loading into the car for a routine doctor's visit (from which I returned with one angry five-year-old, and one screaming three-year-old, both of whom got shots, but never mind the details of why I wanted a gin and tonic at 11 o'clock this morning. I'll just add, we had to hold them both down, and Monkey2 screamed for 20 minutes AFTER IT WAS ALL OVER.) Anywho, as we were loading into the car, I had a lovely conversation with Monkey1, who received a pirate hat, eyepatch, and earring for his birthday. (He has barely removed them at all since). He, I was informed, wants to be a pirate until he is "a hundred!"

"Oh!" I replied (this is usually safe). "And what will you do when you're one hundred and one?"

"Not ONE hundred" he corrected, "A hundred."

"Oh, ok, then what will you do when you're A hundred and one?"

And he answered, "Volunteer!"

24 October 2009

My Lesson For the Day

You know how They say that you learn something new every day? Well.

Today, I learned that, should one's middle child come running in a tizzy and rather upset because her younger sibling "is bothering all of our beautiful things!", and should one ascertain that said beautiful things include a large portion of the living room furniture, one should not assume that the middle child is merely being a pill and not wanting her sibling to climb on the furniture. Oh no.

Because it is entirely within the realm of possibility that what she actually means is, that Monkey3 has appropriated an entire stick of butter, and is carefully smearing it throughout the house. And all over the living room furniture.

Now, where else in life will this lesson be applicable? I shudder to think.

21 October 2009

Daily Life With Monkey3

Wishing Kristin over at We Are THAT Family a very happy 2nd blogiversary. Here's my post on just ONE of the reasons that we are THAT family too...

Monkey3 is...sometimes a bit of a challenge. Well, actually, I told someone at MOPS the other day that "He is my 'strong-willed child.'" Which is ridiculous, because Monkey1 and Monkey2 have wills that are plenty strong. But my beloved third child? He's the only one who's ever tried to climb the drainpipes...or the fence around the yard...or, well, here I'll show you. First of all, he's really strong. I mean, his upper-body strength always surprises me. Which is probably why he can climb the fence with so little trouble:

Then, there's this. I'm going to have to stop calling him "Fat Baby."

Note the sopping wet cuffs. Because water is for wading in. Also, apparently, the hamper is there for his amusement, and clothes (clearly) are meant to be worn. He's not particular as to how, but he's very pleased with himself!

Oh wait, can't you see what that is? Lucky for you he turned around and took off for more interesting things in the middle of that particular photo shoot. Here you go:

Those would be his big brother's skivvies. They make such a fantastic hat. (Incidentally, I refuse to take any further responsibility for the fact that there is laundry, both dirty and clean, scattered all over my house All The Time. It's Monkey3's fault.) Tonight, he tried to climb into the dirty dish bin. He spent five minutes ascertaining that he could not push his head through the bottom:

I'll leave you with one last photo. I have to say, first, that the Mad Scientist doesn't really approve of photos of babies less than fully clothed. But when Monkey3 climbed out of the tub, donned his brother's snow boot (singular) and decided to head out for a walk, I HAD to grab the camera. It simply couldn't be helped: