23 December 2010

Christmas Stuff

I've been thinking, all day, about Enough, and Too Much, and Not Enough.  Ann got me started on it with her Jesse Tree advent book, which finishes with the story of when she met her sponsored child in Guatemala.  I was hit between the eyes and struck dumb by her question:

"Why does the World hunger, when the people of God have bread?  Are Bread?"

Casting Crowns asks, "If we are the Body..." Why aren't we doing what Christ does?  Why aren't we reaching out to a hurting world?

I think the problem is, we're too focused on us, and our stuff.  There's so much that we "need", just have to have, and do we remember that we are some of the wealthiest people in the world?  Wandering through the mall, just looking for something to buy, dashing in to Wal-Mart for that thing we need right now, do we think about the children who will go to bed tonight hungry?  Katie asks, on her blog, that if you send a donation to support the work she's doing, please include your e-mail address so they don't have to mail the thank-you...because they can feed a child two meals, for the price of a stamp.  How many could be fed with the money I'm planning to spend on a new coffee table?

And today, the Yarn Harlot continued the theme, asking what is "enough"?

"The dictionary defines enough as "occurring in such quantity, quality, or scope as to fully meet demands, needs or expectations."  Clearly, since we live in a house, eat when we are hungry, drink when we are thirsty, put on clothes when we are cold... obviously we have enough.  Enough of everything.  Where does it come from then, that feeling I have when I stand in a shop, holding a gift in my hand and thinking "Is this enough?" or I bake a hundred cookies, and then stand there surveying the lot and wondering "Is that enough?"

If we're defining enough as that definition above though- and thinking of fully meeting demands, needs or expectations - then I think I'm probably in a losing game.  Never mind my crazy ideas of a perfect Christmas or the expectations of others,  but what's a gift but an attempt to show the recipient that you love or care for them, and if that's what it is, am I ever going to be able to get them enough? Is there anything that I can put in Joe's stocking to show him fully and completely how much I appreciate him being married to me?  Can I ever buy enough presents to convey the depth of my love?  There will never be enough.  Never, and this year we swore to opt out of the craziness.  Trying to get enough, buy enough, make enough, get enough done - because it doesn't work anyway. It's never enough, you could buy or make everything, and all that would happen is that afterwards there would be a big mess, a bunch of exhausted people- all of whom are broke - and everyone then would have too much, just because you were trying to fill something that's a feeling with stuff." 

It's so easy, especially at this time of year, to forget how much we have, to lose sight of what is really enough.  Even though Christmas has looked a lot different around here this year, I think we've still lost track of this, a bit.  We've been moving slowly through Advent, not really doing a whole lot to "get ready" for Christmas.  I haven't done much baking, the decorating is pretty simple.  But we've been home, and together, and it's been good.  Even though we've bought more stuff than we needed, we've been focusing on the feelings, rather than the stuff.  It's a step in the right direction.

I'm thinking about a name for the next year, also on Ann's advice.  I'm thinking about enough, and what that looks like, and how to be satisfied.  I'll be back after Christmas with more on that.  Meanwhile, merry Christmas to you all.

21 December 2010

Over the Rainbow

I know, I know...Saturday was AGES ago, blogging-wise.  But I've been hard at work getting Christmas in the mail to family, so now that I've taken care of that, I'm back to blog-land.  And speaking of somewhere strange (and sometimes wonderful):  Last Saturday we returned to the Children's Museum to see a play based on the third Wizard of Oz book.  It was only 40 minutes long, and quite nice for something that attempted to cram a rather involved story into such a short time frame.  Monkey2 started crying about 15 minutes into it, and had to be taken out, but the boys enjoyed the whole thing.

Everyone wanted to say hello to Tik-Tok at the end, and wouldn't you know, he was the only major character that didn't come out to greet the audience!  But, Monkey3 got a high five from the Scarecrow and the Tin Woodman, so that was ok:

That's his hand in the corner; I was too slow with the camera.  Everyone got to ride the race car, since we didn't do that the last time we were there:

Monkey1 knows how it's done.  Monkey3 is along for the ride.

Monkey3 LOVES this car; it's definitely his style!

Monkey2 isn't so sure about this...
So, a good time was had by all.  And now, we're getting ready for Christmas!

15 December 2010

Unto us, a child

Many, many years ago, I flew half a world from my safe home, and learned what poverty looks like, for real.  I prayed before going "Lord, let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God."

Reading Ann's words today, I remember the heat, the smells, the children clinging by a thread to hope, daily renewed by the work Compassion does.  I remember, tears running down my cheeks, the joyous smiles of children who know that they are loved, that their hope is not without reason.

And in this season when so many desire so much, I think of those who are happy each day for food for that day, a chance to learn, the hope of a better tomorrow.

Who will stand in the gap for them?  Who will make a difference, even just for one?

Will you?

14 December 2010

'Tis the Season to be Jolly

I had a doctor's appointment this morning in Carmel.  When they called to verify I was coming, I asked the receptionist how far a drive it was, to gauge what time I would need to leave my house.  She told me she really didn't know.

A really intelligent, has-it-all-together type mother would probably have googled the driving directions last night before she went to bed, and then set her alarm to ensure enough time this morning to get out the door without yelling at her children and leaving her hair wet.

I am not that person.

At ten 'til nine this morning, I sat down to google the driving directions, and discovered that Carmel is on THE OTHER SIDE OF INDIANAPOLIS, which is an hour away.  This is the piece of information the receptionist might have provided, which would have helped me to be a more organized person.  (Not that I'm holding her responsible.  I don't need help to be disorganized and late everywhere I go.  Or I should say, my children are all the help - and excuse - that I need.)

I needed an hour and fifteen minutes to get there.  I left at 9:20 for a 10:30 appointment.  I pulled in at 10:28.

(whistles quietly) Moving along...

 Then, since we were going through Indianapolis to get home (a piece of information that might have helped me plan my day better...did I mention that already?) I decided we might as well stop at The Children's Museum for the afternoon.  So we hit Chick-Fil-A for lunch, drove through the Historic District, and went to play.  The museum is all decorated for Christmas:

I love Christmas decorations!  Monkey1 got to dress up like a Polar Bear, including:

Black Skin (for greatest warmth)

He also got claws, ears, and a tail.  My favourite part was the tail:

Monkey3 decided he looked fuzzy.  Monkey1's favourite part was the claws:

  I really can't take them anywhere.  

We visited the Winter Wonderland exhibit.  Monkey1 (who never EVER holds still for a picture, for me) asked a total stranger to take his picture in the ice castle.  She was photographing her daughter, and he leaned over and posed so nicely for her!  I couldn't believe it!  But she's going to send me a copy, so that's ok.  I'm glad I had my "mommy cards" on me.  It's much easier than searching for paper and pen to give someone your contact info.  (That's a tip.)

We tried the ice skating, and Monkey2 did a bit of ice fishing:

We tried out the Yule Slide on our way down to the Planetarium.

Monkey3 raced me down and beat me with great delight.  Then he was very upset that we didn't get to see Big Biwd and Ewmo, but was slightly mollified when I let him nurse through the program.  The planetarium was nearly empty, so no one was around to be offended.  We learned all about ancient solstice celebrations, Hannukah, Saturnalia, and how astronomers try to figure out what the Wise Men actually saw.  Also when some historians think that Jesus might actually have been born.  All in all, it was a fascinating program, but quite long.  I was pleasantly surprised when Monkey1 told me he had really enjoyed it.

After that, we drove home and stopped at our hometown Chick-Fil-A for milkshakes, to buy me time to make supper.  It was a very fun day, and I was thrilled to discover that we all enjoyed it, and I had basically no bad attitudes or issues to deal with the whole time.  Wish me many more like this!

13 December 2010

What I'm trying to say is...

I got a call from our internet provider today.  They used to call and ask for my father, because he's the one who actually pays for our internet.  Recently, for no apparent reason, they've been asking for my mother.  Last time, I said "That's my mother.  Can I help you?"  Which I realized later didn't translate into "She doesn't live here."

Today I was more specific.  I said "That's my mother.  She doesn't live here.  Can I help you?"  The person on the other end said "Do you make the decisions regarding internet?"  And I replied "No, my father pays for our internet, as a gift."

And I thought that would fix it.  I mean, I had just informed her that the person with the money not only wasn't available, but didn't even live in the same house.  Why would she want to talk to me?  But no, she continued "Oh, well, do you get your phone and cable through us too?"  And I said "No, we don't have cable, because we don't have a t.v."

Which really should have ended the conversation.  What more could a company that provides technological services possibly have to say to someone who doesn't actually own a television?  (We actually do have a t.v, but it's not digital, and we only use it to watch movies.  It doesn't even pick up the local stations, so I didn't feel like I was really lying.  As far as they're concerned, we don't have a t.v.)

But no, she continued with "Oh, well you really should look into it, because if we provide internet, phone, and cable, you can have all three for just $99/month, and it could save you a lot of money!"

To which I replied "But we don't have a television, so we really don't need cable."

Now, I have a few questions about this whole conversation.  Why does "I don't make the decisions" mean that I get the sales pitch anyway?  Would they give it to my six-year-old, if he answered and I wasn't available?  And why does "I don't have a t.v." result in "You should really think about adding cable!"

As it turns out, she may be right.  A woman at Knit Night tonight told me that they actually do get a package deal from this company for both internet and cable, because it's cheaper than just cable alone, despite the fact that they, also, do not have a television.  Maybe my dad can look into that - it could save some money.  :-)

10 December 2010

Spreading Christmas Cheer...and sprinkles...and frosting

Today we had a play date scheduled, but my friend ended up having to cancel. For compensation, I told the monkeys we'd build their gingerbread houses. They received these for St. Nicholas Day, and have been dying to put them together ever since.

This is a completely acurate picture of how Monkey3 spent the entire project...sticking candy in his mouth at every opportunity.  I kept saying "NO!  Leave it alone 'til we're finished and I can take a picture!"  This is his house at the end:

The roof was originally covered with mini-gumdrops.  He had started picking off the frosting by the time I finished the path across the front.  All in all, however, I think it turned out quite well:

We used the kit for the houses, plus a large bag of m&ms we had lying around.  Then I outlined the path, and we filled it in with a jar of sugar sprinkles.  Each person was responsible for their own house (but I handled the frosting, for the most part).  Monkey2 crammed her roof as full as she could - I finally had to make her stop when she started crying because the m&ms were falling off for lack of space:

Monkey1 also did a lovely job:

I decorated both mine, and one for The Mad Scientist.  I was pretty sure he wouldn't mind missing out on the mess fun.  Monkey1 said I MUST show you this:

because it is "unreal".  It's the word of the day.

Now I'm off to do laundry, while Monkey3 sleeps, and before I get high on the fumes from the coconut.  Wow, does that stuff pack a punch!

01 December 2010

First Snow

Home from Thanksgiving travel, and today, December first, we have our first snow of the year. So, school is on hold for a bit, while the children monkeys go out to play.

We had a wonderful time visiting with family, and the monkeys loved playing with their cousins. Did I mention that I totalled our poor mini-van a few weeks ago? We were sitting at a stop light, and I turned my head to say something to Monkey1, and rear-ended the Jeep in front of me. Completely crumpled the front of my car. So we've been driving borrowed vehicles for the last few weeks. The Mad Scientist's brother loaned us his extended-cab pick-up truck. That was interesting. You know, all the spaciousness and comfort of a Very Small Car, with the driveability (and ease of parking) of...well, a pick-up. The worst of both worlds, but beggars can't be choosers.

We rented a car to drive to PA, and that was very interesting. There was a Honda Civic waiting for us at the other end, and I have to say, we fit more stuff (everything we packed, plus three bags of hand-me-down clothes from my sister-in-law's girls) in the Civic than we could get in the SUV we rented for the drive out. Confirming my suspicions that SUVs are really just kind of silly, as vehicles go. I mean, they're huge, they suck gas like there's no tomorrow, and they don't have any more space than a little car...just a bit more head room. Funny story: I borrowed a car from a friend to get to an appointment after my brother-in-law needed his truck back. It was a little one, quite low to the ground (no, I don't know what it was), and when we pulled up at the office and all got out, Monkey1 looked at the driver's seat and said "It must feel like your bum is dragging on the ground, when you drive this car!" :-)

Driving back in the Civic was fine. I'm a big fan of older cars. You know, where the windows don't stop working, because they work on a crank thing you turn, rather than a button. (Total aside: Can you imagine how terrified I was to climb into our rental and see, on the console, a small sign stating "Powered by Microsoft." NOT what I want to see in my vehicle!!) And the locks don't go down automatically at 15 mph, so you have to remember to unlock the doors before you can get out. (Because everyone knows that, in an emergency, unlocking the doors is going to be the first thing I think of as I'm ripping the door off to get out of the car.) Better yet, the new car is a standard. I think I may be in love.

Funny story the second: We were driving home and suddenly, completely out of the blue with no preface whatsoever, Monkey1 looked at me and said "I bet that, if a Sperm Whale knew how to play checkers, he could beat you at checkers." And I replied "Excuse me? Why do you think that?" "Because his brain is so wrinkly, he would be really smart, and good at checkers" he replied. Oh, naturally. I think about those sorts of things, too, while I'm driving down the highway going 70. How wrinkly a Sperm Whale's brain is.

20 November 2010

It's the weekend

I have just finished looking at the statistics for visitors to my web-site. I wish I was a little better with computers, but what I have been able to determine is that people do, in fact, actually look at (possibly even read) these posts that I fling out into the void every so often. I'm glad. I hate talking to a blank space, so the visitor tracker lets me know that I do, in fact, have some sort of audience. I'm not sure *why* you are all returning to read about my very uninteresting life and opinions, but I'm glad you're out there. It gives me a feeling of some small importance, that people care enough about what I type here to revisit on occasion.

However, I must say I was surprised (given that I do, in fact, have readers) not to receive more comments on yesterday's (Thursdays? I don't remember) post. Am I the only one who gets really aggravated, hearing about this stuff? Talk to me, people.

18 November 2010

The Nanny State

Are you aware that, in Indiana, it is illegal to "buy, barter, sell, or trade for any particle of unpasteurized" dairy product?  Seriously.  And no, I'm not going to get into a discussion of whether or not it is appropriate to drink the stuff.  I'll just say, in New Hampshire (where I was raised, and where my parents still live) a farmer can sell up to 25 gallons A DAY of raw milk, without any government oversight whatsoever.  And you really don't hear about people dying like flies as a result. ( If you'd like more information regarding why someone would choose to drink raw milk, I recommend The Untold Story of Milk: Green Pastures, Contented Cows, and Raw Dairy Products, by Ron Schmid.)

Well, apparently in California the government likes to dictate what people may or may not consume also (surprise, surprise), and this is the result:

Gosh, I am SO glad that we have our government to take such good care of us, and tell us exactly what we should and shouldn't eat!  Because, you know, scientists have such a great history of never needing to take back anything they have to say about what constitutes a healthy diet!  Next thing you know, they'll be delivering our meals in boxes to make sure everyone eats the right thing, so we can all qualify for the government-run health insurance.

That will probably happen right after they make it illegal for women to birth anywhere except in the hospital.  Because what kind of a negligent loon of a parent would do anything else?  But that's a rant for another day.

29 October 2010

Out of practice

I am obviously out of practice with the blogging, and I'll tell you how I know.  A week or two ago, I was accomplishing something (which probably should have been the tip-off that something was wrong) when I suddenly thought "Wow, it's been really quiet for...kind of a while."  And then I decided not to worry about it for a few more minutes.

(All the experienced mothers just got dizzy and had to put their heads between their collective knees for a moment.  They know what's coming.  I should have, too.)  So, having finished whatever it was that I was getting done, I walked around the corner and discovered this:

This trail of muddy footprints led from the backdoor to the bathroom, which I had just cleaned the day before (making this inevitable):

And when I poked my head out the backdoor to confront the perpetrators, they cheerfully informed me "We're having a mudpie war!"  Apparently, they had been carting water out to the garden bed from the bathroom sink.  And here's where the "out of practice" comes in.  These are all "after" shots.  I didn't get any of the actual war, just the aftermath:

My floor got nice and clean though, because before I drained the tub I used the bathwater to mop up all the rest of the mud.  The water was still nice and hot, and I figured I'd send all the mud down the drain at once.  So despite not getting pictures for the blog, I still made the best of the situation.

17 October 2010

Did you miss me?

My apologies, loyal blog readers.  I know I have been silent for a ridiculously long length of time.  The issue has been, Monkey3 destroyed the power cord for my laptop by sticking something long and slender (my money is on the screwdriver) into the plug.  No, I didn't see him do it.  Yes, regardless, I'm certain it was him.

Computer-less, I have been reduced to checking my e-mail in the briefest possible of interludes between dinnertime and bedtime stories, using The Mad Scientist's computer.  Hence, no blogging. 

But a solution is on the way, and we (remarkably) managed to eat dinner a bit early tonight.  (This was possible because The Mad Scientist put the pot roast in the crockpot this morning before church, while I was drying my hair.  When I am cooking, we never eat before six.)  So, I am snatching this bit of unexpected time to let you know I'm still alive.  I'm certain you've been concerned.

Since I am still not on my own computer, I have no pictures to show you.  They're all still on the camera.  However, I'd like to share something funny that happened earlier this evening.  It began as I was stirring pecans on the stove, and my husband walked up behind  me and wrapped his arms around me.  We stood like that for a while, making small talk (really, not metaphorically; I didn't want to burn the pecans), and at some point in the conversation the phrase "take me away" was mentioned.

I sighed and said "I like it when you take me away."  Then, remembering this phrase as the sometime slogan of Calgon Bath and Beauty products ("Calgon, Take Me Away" or something along those lines),  I continued after a moment "You're much better than Calgon."

Now, The Mad Scientist (I guarantee) has never heard of Calgon bath and beauty products, still less of their "take me away" ad campaign.  His hands, which had been rubbing my shoulders, paused, and just as I realized what that must have sounded like to him, he asked "Who's 'Calvin'?"


Having managed (once I stopped laughing) to profer a satisfactory explanation, we sat down to dinner.  I had made stuffed acorn squash to go with the pot roast.  Monkey1 does not like acorn squash.  I scraped a quarter of a squash onto his plate, mashed it up with the stuffing (apples and pecans, with cinnamon and just a bit of sugar), divided it into two piles, and told him to choose one and eat it.

He sighed.  He eyed them.  He announced his distaste for acorn squash...several times.  He ate some pot roast, and voiced his displeasure with the side dish once again.  He was told to eat it, or there would be no dessert...and he would get the squash again tomorrow.  He said "I'd like to eat this tomorrow."

We reminded him of the dessert stipulation, and he requested "a really tall glass of water.  Actually, can I have two?"  Finally, he began eating the squash, one molecule at a time.  Once or twice he informed us that he was barely keeping it down.

The other monkeys finished and were excused, and The Mad Scientist and I left the table also, not to encourage the performance by providing an audience.  When I peered back around the corner, he appeared to be in his death throes.

Finally he managed to finish and announced cheerfully "All my squash is gone!  Can I have more pot roast?"  Having received this, and taken several bites, he declared "This is even better than the squash!"

30 August 2010

Every once in a while, I need a reminder...

So it's nice that I found this list today, over at Life In A Shoe100+ Reasons for Having Children.

Personally, I'm holding out for 22.  Any day now.  It has to happen eventually, right?  And 76 and 80 were also favourites. 

I needed the reminder, because I spent today listening to my oldest moaning and throwing up.  It was supposed to be our first day of school.  Now I'm just dreading tonight, expecting (as I am) that Monkey2 will be the one throwing up all night long.  And since The Mad Scientist was up last night ("Every hour, from midnight on") with Monkey1, tonight it's my turn.  Oh, how I dream of the day when I can sleep through the night without interruption, and without a small human attached to my chest. 

But really, all things considered, I wouldn't trade my children for the world, or anything in it.  I'm a little worn out right now.  It's been a long summer.   I haven't been posting much, because I've been having a hard time focusing on the positive.  And who wants to read a list of complaints on a regular basis?  No one.  People want someone to listen when they complain, but no one likes to listen to someone else doing it.  Nope.  So I figured I'd just bite my tongue (fingers?).  Lately, it seems like just one thing after the next comes along, and hits us while we're still reeling from the last thing.  That will wear a person out.  So forgive the intermittent posting, please.

21 August 2010

Note to self...

Dear Body,

     I would like to introduce you to someone.  I believe you may have had a passing acquaintance in the past, but it has become (painfully) obvious to me that you really have nothing to do with one another any more, and that is something I would like to see change.  In the interest of all working together toward a common goal, I really think the two of you should get to know one another.

     Meet the Abdominal Muscles.  They're going to become a much greater presence in your life, so try to get along.

     That will be all, thanks.



18 August 2010

Growing up

We had BIG excitement at the Kitchen Sink last week...my baby is growing up!

Oh, I just can't believe he's already losing his baby teeth!  I mean, goodness, I remember when he GOT those baby teeth, and it was such a big deal...and now they're already starting to fall out.    

It had been loose for about two days, when he came to me at bedtime and said "Look, Mama, my tooth is sideways!"  And sure enough, it was.  I didn't want him to swallow it in his sleep, so I prescribed a popsicle, (because he was worried about it bleeding; didn't want to taste the blood), and then The Mad Scientist yanked it out.  One little "pop!", and there it was:

One baby tooth.  Or "Baby Tooth Number One".

He put it in a sippy cup (we were unprepared parents, with no Tooth Fairy pillow to tuck it inside), and went to sleep...and the Tooth Fairy snuck into his room, and switched his tooth out for a dollar.

The Mad Scientist was appalled (and, I think, rather jealous).  "I only got a DIME for a tooth!" he announced.  "Yes," I told him, "my mother said the same thing to my dad when I was little.  And he pointed out that, when she was little, a dime would buy a candy bar at the corner store.  Now, that costs about a dollar."

Monkey1 was totally thrilled to discover his dollar, but he wasn't buying the Tooth Fairy story at all.  He wanted his tooth back, to look at, so I finally got it for him.  We don't do Santa, and I look terrible in a tutu, so I didn't have a whole lot invested in the Tooth Fairy.

16 August 2010

One of my favourite sounds in the world

I'm up very late.  Very, very late.  Because on Friday, a wonderful friend who happened to be heading out to a local orchard, picked a big box for me, too.  Yesterday, dinner was late, because I was stirring two batches of jam on the stove, simultaneously.  I made it up, though, because we had peach pie for dessert.

Tonight I was smarter.  I put both batches in the same pot, so I didn't need to be quite so ambidextrous.  Which was good, because I'm exhausted.  But hearing those little pings as the jar lids seal while they cool?

Makes it all so worthwhile.  We'll be enjoying this all winter.  Here are the rest of the fruits of my labours:

Nothing beats homemade, for sure.

12 August 2010

Overheard at dinner

Today I bring you the following conversation, which could have been overheard at our dinner table just the other night:

Monkey1:  The next time you go to Goodwill, will you buy me a stick on mustache?
(The Mad Scientist looks at him quizzically.)  (Note that he knows my favourite shopping hang-out.)
Me:  Sure.
(TMS looks at me in disbelief.)
Me:  Incidentally, why do you want a stick on mustache?
M1:  (As though it's the most obvious thing in the world which, perhaps, it is) To stick under my nose.
TMS:  I was wondering if that was a trick question...
Me:  (Giving TMS my best indignant glare) "Let me re-phrase: Why do you want to go about with a mustache stuck under your nose?"
M1:  (As though what he is about to say is, again, rather obvious, and completely normal) "So I can look like a dwarf with a mustache."

Oh.  Of course.

Do you have conversations like this at your dinner table?

11 August 2010

The Perfect Pie

The other day I was making pies.  The Monkeys were "helping".  I'm not sure what went wrong with the crust, because I didn't make it.  You may recall from this post that, these days, the food processor is my tool of choice for pie crust.  So, I asked the Mad Scientist to throw the pie crust together while I worked on...something else that really needed to be done.  I don't remember what, but I'm sure it was important.

The Mad Scientist has been forever relieved of crust-making duties.  It was awful.  It was completely falling apart, and really, pretty much the worst crust I've ever worked with.  And the Monkeys still wanted to help.

I was getting really stressed out, trying to still end up with something resembling a decent pie, when I had a sudden moment of clarity.  The truth is, I've made a lot of pies.  And to be perfectly honest, they usually taste better than they look.  My pies are really good, but the appearance frequently leaves a bit to be desired.  And I realized that no one was going to think back, twenty years from now, and remember how fabulous these pies had looked.  No one would ever say "Remember that time when Daddy screwed up the pie crust, but Mom somehow managed to pull it together and turn out a cover-model pie anyway?  Martha Stewart would have been proud, and just thinking of it gives me warm fuzzies!"

Yeah, right.  But I was making a memory.  What kind did I want it to be?

So I relaxed, and I let everyone help.   Then we pieced the crust together over the filling, and stuck it in the oven.  And you know what?  It tasted just fine.

I'm really proud of me.

09 August 2010

My Secret...

I have an addiction.  For a long time, I indulged on a pretty regular basis.  I always thought that I really needed to stop this, I needed to not succumb, not let it control me the way it did.  But then it would sing its siren song, and I'd give in again.

Now, though...now I'm fighting back.  Now when I walk past all the goodies, and they call out to me, I have learned to turn my head and walk away.  Want to know my secret?

Turns out, the grocery store candy bars don't have much of a hold over you, once you've moved on to the hard stuff:

Now you know...the secret to my sanity.

07 August 2010

Beauty-School Drop-Out

You might have noticed, in my last post, that Monkey2 has had a hair cut.  We decided at bedtime on Monday that haircuts were in order.  The shagginess was getting to me.  Monkey1 was the main offender, and he opted not to get a haircut, but I cut enough hair off the other three culprits to make me feel better.

Monkey2's hair turned quite a bit shorter than I intended:

But I think it's adorable, so that's ok.  My haircuts normally do turn out shorter than intended.  I've sort of learned to roll with it.  'Course, that's easier for the guys:

Pretty hard to go wrong there.  :-)  As for Monkey1?  He told me last week he wanted his hair really short, to be sure no one mistook him for a girl.  I told him that anyone who wasn't smart enough to figure out he's a boy, regardless of hair length, isn't someone whose opinion he needs to be super concerned about, anyway, and he should do what he wants with his hair.  Plenty of guys have long hair.  In fact (I told him) I had seen a guy in church just the day before, with hair longer than mine, and even from the back it was quite obvious he was a guy.

I guess I convinced him.  We'll see how it goes.

06 August 2010

A few observations on dinner

1.  Tonight we had cod fillet with sweet corn, broccoli, and hollandaise sauce.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it (except Monkey3, who apparently doesn't like broccoli).

2.  I sprinkled the cod with chives and dill heads from what remains of my herb garden.  It smelled amazing baking, and tasted even better.  (That could be because I also spread butter over it, before putting on the herbs.  Butter makes everything taste better; I'm with Julia Child on this one.)

3.  I'm completely convinced that Hollandaise Sauce originated when some gourmand looked at his plate, swimming in butter after his vegetables were gone, and said "There has to be a way to get this to stick to the vegetables better.  Oh, I know!  Let's thicken it with egg yolks!"  Voila.

4.  God bless him (or her) whoever he (or she) was.

05 August 2010

Life goes on

So, how's the weather where you are, these days?  Most people I'm hearing from are saying the same thing I'm going to say, which is "Did I die and find out I've been following the wrong religion all this time?"

Yeah, it's hot.  Hot enough that I got all this at the grocery store today:

and felt that I had exercised a great deal of self-restraint.  Especially since there's still some of it left in the freezer as I type.

We had fruit bars (from Aldi's, all fruit, very good) in the backyard, because (as I explained to the Monkeys) popsicles are an OUTside food.

They were good with that.

Then, The Mad Scientist decided to mow the lawn.  I need to preface this picture with an explanation...if I could only come up with one.

First, let me say that the boy uses the potty without fail...as long as his nether regions remain uncovered.  So there's been a lot of nakedness at our house, recently.  (Have you ever heard the phrase "Naked as a jay bird"?  Monkey3 has taken to saying, with great indignation, "I not day biwd!")

Also, he's a monkey.  And he likes noisy machines.  And he loves his Daddy.  And there you go.

I am so totally saving that picture to put somewhere prominent on his wedding day.

24 July 2010

I'm a little concerned... (or, How do I not laugh?)

The Mad Scientist and I really, desperately need to work on our poker faces.  Because it's really hard to lecture children when you're laughing.  There have been several incidences of this in the last few days, but my favourite was last night:

I heard Monkey2 start wailing in the bedroom, and when I walked in and asked what happened she said "The boys were BEATING on me!"  (Side track:  She's just discovered that she can refer to her brothers in the plural.  Now everything is "the boys."  Thursday morning she sat down at the table and said "Good morning, boys!")  "Beating on you?" I asked just to clarify I heard correctly, and was given a definite affirmative.  I looked at Monkey1.  "Were you beating on your sister?"  "I wasn't beating on her!" he protested.  (long pause.)  "...very hard."

Speaking of my dear oldest son, this morning he has asked me repeatedly to make him a spear.  Finally I said "Why do you want a spear?" and he answered "Well, because, I just like weapons."  Excellent.

Apparently I seemed somewhat amenable to the idea of a spear, however, because his next request was for a lance.  I explained that a lance was just a type of spear, and was informed that, yes, that's true, and he wants both.  Then he asked "Why are lances so long?" and I (not really thinking about it) said "Oh, I think so they'll go further when you throw them?"  "MAma!" he protested indignantly "Lances are NOT throwing spears!  They're stabbing spears."  Oh, well, I beg your pardon.  "Why are you asking me this, since you obviously know more about it than I do?"  I think he's decided his mother is a little hopeless in the weaponry department.

13 July 2010


As in, "Home again, home again," for those of you who didn't have really bumpy driveways growing up.

That is to say, we are.  I'm planning never to attempt to temporarily pack up my whole life ever again.  The problem is, I forget half of it at both ends.  So when we left, I took a bunch of stuff I didn't end up remotely having time to do, and left behind things I could have really used (like warm clothes; it turns out, New England is still really cold after Indiana gets warm).  (Yes, since I grew up there, I should have known that.  Sue me.)

Then coming back, I left behind a ton of stuff I need.  Like my calendar/day planner, which I spent two months hunting all over creation to buy at the beginning of the year, and which contains my entire life (practically).  Gone.  POOF!  Nowhere to be found.

I should be digging myself out of the rubble and restoring my house to some semblance of order, so today I spent hours on-line accomplishing absolutely nothing.  My children were not amused.  I'm pretty sure my husband is a bit disgusted, as well.  It's just so much easier than trying to rein in the chaos.

On a positive note, having spent ten days with our friends in Germany (whose flat is approximately the same size as my house, and contains approximately one tenth the amount of stuff) I have come home newly determined to eliminate clutter from my home and my life.  So I posted three articles of furniture on Craig's List yesterday, and so far have sold one and have one pending pick-up.  We need the space and the money much more than the furniture, so I'm quite pleased about that.  Plus, it gave us room to install Monkey2's new kitchen playset, which I found at a yard sale by my parents and carted home strapped to the roof of my car.  What can I say?  It was simply too good a deal to pass up.  (I realize this means I may be a completely hopeless case.  I hope not.)

23 June 2010

Peace and Tolerance?

Apparently we have lost the right of free speech in America. I don't remember that particular portion of the Bill of Rights being repealed, but, given how it's being enforced, it seems that Freedom of Religion will be next to go:

Four Christians were arrested and jailed recently at Dearborn, Mich. for alleged “disorderly conduct” and “disruptive behavior” at an Arab festival, the Detroit Free Press said.

The Christians were David Wood of New York, Nabeel Qureshi of Virginia and two others affiliated with Acts 17 Apologetics.

They were distributing Christian flyers to Muslims at the Dearborn Arab International Festival, the Detroit Free Press said.

You can read the entire article here.

Now, I would just like to state right off the bat, that I have no problem whatsoever with Muslims, Hindus, Buddists, or anyone else having a festival pertinent to their religion, here, or anywhere else.  What I do object to, is the idea that one particular group should be allowed to practice their religion, but that another particular group must be silenced so as not to "offend".  Would Muslims have been arrested for standing outside a church handing out flyers on a Sunday morning?  They shouldn't be.  In this country, public property is an acceptable place to engage in free speech and the discussion of ideas.  At least, that was true under the Constitution I learned about in school.  Of course, politicians are playing pretty free and easy with the Constitution these days, so maybe this shouldn't surprise us.

21 June 2010

Nod and Smile

Well, first of all: Thorvald emerged from hiding only seven hours after my in-laws returned home. I was able to tell my children about the bad guys who broke into Grandma and Pappy's house without having to explain that said bad guys stole their beloved cat. So life is much better.

But on to the point of this post:

My daughter just informed me of this -

When I grow up, I'm going to be a Farmer! ("What kind of Farmer?" I asked.) Well, I'm going to be an animal farmer. ("Oh? What kind of animals will you farm?") I'm going to have sheep, cows, calves, goats, and ducks. I'm going to have FOUR ducks, and then if one gets aten by a fox I won't even mind, but when they grow up, they'll be able to fly back to the barn, because they'll know that I'm the Farmer! And there will be a Daddy goat, and the Daddy goat will be the pushy one, and if I don't get in quick he'll snitch! (I think she means "nip", but I'm not certain.)

Speaking of being a farmer, Monkey3's favourite story right now is his "totor Ted book." (That's "Tractor Ted" for the uninformed. It's a video series of a working farm from Great Britain, narrated by Tractor Ted. The book has nothing to do with the video, but also contains a cartoonish small green tractor.) The last sentence is "Wouldn't you like to be a Farmer and drive a tractor?" Monkey3 always answers "Yes, Mama, too!"

19 June 2010

Sucker Punch

Today was rough.  The kids woke up early, and no one else did.  So I spent two hours trying to keep them quiet so the rest of the house could sleep.  Yoga was rough; I was too tired to do much (last week I told the teacher I would just spend the whole class in Child's Pose.  I haven't yet, but it remains a possibility).  Coming home was rough.  Monkey3 was overtired, and wanted to nurse all afternoon.  I put him down for a nap and he woke up crabby.  Monkey2 was overtired and consequently spent a lot of time howling, whining, and fussing.

I finally got through to the Mad Scientist on Skype, and was detailing my woes when my mother brought me the phone.  It was my mother in-law.  Someone broke into their house today, and her parrot was stolen.  He was her baby, and she is heart-broken.  Also our cat, which they were watching for the summer, is missing.  We don't know if he was also stolen, or just ran away because he was frightened.  Either way, he's gone.

My children have been telling me for the last two weeks how much they're looking forward to snuggling with Thorvald again when they get home.  I don't know what to tell them.

Odds are against the cat having been stolen.   He was just your basic American Shorthair, not valuable to anyone but us.  I'm hoping and praying he turns up in the next day or two.  I know that, in the larger scheme of things, a cat isn't that big a deal.  But he's a big deal to us.  We got him before we started having babies, and all my children adore him.  They've grown up with him, and he has willingly tolerated everything three active babies could dish out.  He's wonderful, and we love him.   And this song is on my heart tonight:

 Oh great God
Be small enough
To hear me now
There were times when I was crying
From the dark of Daniel`s den
I had asked you once or twice
If you would part the sea again
Tonight I do not need a
Fiery pillar in the sky
Just want to know you`re gonna
Hold me if I start to cry

Oh great God
Be small enough to hear me now
Oh great God
Be close enough to feel you now
(Oh great god be close to me)
There have been moments when I could not face
Goliath on my own
And how could I forget we marched
Around our share of Jerichos
But I will not be setting out
A fleece for you tonight
Just wanna know that everything will be alright
Oh great god be close enough to feel me now

All praise and all the honor be
To the god of ancient mysteries
Whose every sign and wonder
Turn the pages of our history
But tonight my heart is heavy
And I cannot keep from whispering this prayer
Are you there?

And I know you could leave writing
On the wall that`s just for me
Or send wisdom while I`m sleeping
Like in Solomon`s sweet dreams
But I don`t need the strength of Sampson
Or a chariot in the end
Just wanna know that you still know how many
Hairs are on my head
Oh great God (Are you small enough)
Be small enough to hear
Me now

11 June 2010

I guess I've made my point

I think the one of the most difficult things about trying to combine two households (or, in our case, three) is getting everyone's schedules and preferences to work together.  One area where this difficulty is especially apparent, is food.

When we're at home, we drink milk, and water.  I never buy juice, except very occasionally as a special treat.  I consider it to be an expensive way to consume a lot of calories at once, with minimal health benefits.  We use it when people are sick and struggling to stay hydrated, and that's about it.  So the monkeys have been delighted to have easier access to this since we got to Bestemor and Grandpa's house.

Other things they haven't been so delighted with, and I keep explaining that we don't ask for food, and then not eat it.  This morning, everyone asked for applejuice with their breakfast, so it was with mixed feelings that I heard Monkey1 very hesitantly begin this speech:

"Mama, I really hate to say this, but, well, I don't want apple juice to drink.  What I want to drink is water."

03 June 2010

Is bribery a parenting strategy?

I am not a salesman.  I have never been good at presenting things in a ways that makes people want them. largely because I could never get over my guilt at trying to talk them into spending money.  (You can see why that would present problems).  I'm at peace with my inability (and have largely given up a misguided attempt at a career in cosmetic sales), but I wonder sometimes how broadly applicable the principles of salesmanship are in the rest of life.

My brother is just beginning a career in sales, and we all expect him to do very well.  He has a product he believes in, and a natural ability.  He also studies the company's training material (which I probably could have done a bit more of) to learn as much as possible and improve his technique.  He taught me something last night, which I thought I would share:

Never tell a consumer that they're doing you a favour.  Never leave them with the impression that you need them to buy what you're selling.  Always look for how it will benefit them, and make that your presentation.

How does this apply to parenting?  Well, just suppose that a particular uncle wanted a good-night hug from his niece, who has a history of being somewhat ornery.  If she decides, on this particular night, that she isn't giving good-night hugs, the uncle has two choices.

A) He can beg and plead and tell her he loves her and act very sad that the hug is not forthcoming.  Because it won't be.  The "Oh, you're making me so sad" argument doesn't pull much weight with kids.

B)  He can say "Well, I only give one hug per night, and you haven't gotten yours yet.  So you can still come get one if you want, but this is your last chance."

It worked like a charm.  And now I'm realizing how much of parenting is really just salesmanship.  For example:

"Well, of course you don't have to eat your vegetables.  But we're having watermelon for dessert, and you can't have dessert if you don't finish your dinner"  (Surely a tried and true parenting strategy, but did you ever think about why it works?)

"Yes, you really do need to do this (go to sleep, take a bath, finish your homework, play outside), because if you do, this desirable thing will happen (you'll grow big and strong, you'll get to play outside, you'll make lots of vitamin D so you can be healthy)."

I think the biggest problem the parent/salesman encounters is finding a result that is strong enough motivation.  Because frankly, vitamin D production doesn't really motivate my kids to get fresh air.  Something more tangible and immediate than "growing big and strong" is sometimes required.  And then, of course, you get into the whole controversy about bribing children to do things they ought to do anyway.

There's lots of opinions about the appropriateness of that.  I say, in real life, people do things because there is some benefit to them.  Even if the benefit is that they feel good for doing the responsible mature thing, without any tangible reward, grown-ups are motivated by positive reinforcement just as much as children.  (Haven't you ever been told "Keep reading your Bible if you're discouraged!"?  That's to remind yourself what the rewards are for your behaviour.)

But children aren't able to look ahead to the distant future in the way that grown-ups can.  So offering them a tangible reward now, teaches them that there are, in fact, good reasons for doing the right thing.  That a reward is forthcoming at some point.  The key to using this strategy effectively, it seems to me, is to gradually stretch out the time between the behaviour and the reward, so that by the time you have an adult, the adult knows how to do something that's right, looking forward to a future reward.

21 May 2010

And your point is?

Refusing to engage in further discussion with Monkey1 about why we can't go immediately to the store for water pistols, he clenched his fists and proceeded to grind his teeth.

Yep, go ahead and grind them down to stubs, buddy.  You'll be eating oatmeal for the rest of your life, and won't I be sorry, then!

As a side note, just think how much easier meal planning could be, if all my children take up this approach to conflict resolution...hmmm.

11 May 2010

It's all in your mind

Up to lesson 21 in his Math-U-See book today, my sweet oldest started down the long road to mathematical bliss with a bit of algebra.  Solving for the Unknown.  "You're lucky," I told him.  "I didn't get to do algebra until I got to high school!"

"Why?" he asked in consternation.  "Well," I replied, "that's just how they did things then."

He thought about that for a moment, then said "I am really lucky!"

And he did his math without fussing at all.  I'll wait a few years before I tell him how many times I dissolved into tears over my math, long before I ever got to high school.

10 May 2010

Serious Business

I was passing the foot of the stairs and overheard Monkey1, in the bathroom above, sitting down to commence his business:

"Fire up the jet engines!"

Really, what more is there to say?

08 May 2010

Everybody wins

Can I get an "Amen" from the corner if I tell you a secret?  I hate bedtime.  Bedtime is that precious time when a totally exhausted parent, worn out from the day, does his or her (possibly their, if you're really lucky) level best to convince one or more rowdy, spun-up, wide-awake children to stay in their beds and go to sleep, for the health and sanity of all concerned.

Doesn't that seem just a little backwards, somehow?

Parenting books will tell you that this is the time when your children are most likely to confide in you all their cares and concerns, that some magical blend of drowsiness and soft pillows pulls out of them their dreams and secrets like no other time of day.  "Under no circumstances" these books will intone, "should the parent neglect this wonderful opportunity to connect with the child's heart over bedtime prayers."

Back in the real world, let me tell you how MY evening went.  It was pretty typical.  Around 7:30 I put all three monkeys in the tub.  I closed the curtain because they were splashing water on the floor.  Confident that the noise level couldn't be maintained (it had to either increase or  drop off) if anyone was drowning, I neglected a cardinal parenting rule and nipped into the kitchen for five minutes of adult conversation in which no one was hanging off me or interrupting.  My brother had appropriated my computer to watch clips of The Colbert Report on Hulu, so I was unsuccessful in my attempt at mature communication.

Around 8:00, all the monkeys dried off and brushed (teeth, hair, whatever), we began Round 1 of "Who is Sleeping Where?"  In this game, Monkey1 and Monkey2 change their minds a MINIMUM of fourteen times EACH as to which bed they would prefer for the night ahead, while Monkey3 expresses his distaste for any bed at all.

Beds chosen, we moved into Negotiations about 8:30.  That would be a half hour past the time when I aspire to have them all tucked, prayed over, and drifting quickly off to dreamland.  Tonight I got through with no stories (too late) and only one snack.  (Monkey2 had settled down in Grandpa and Bestemor's bed, so she didn't hear the successful negotiation for a snack on the part of Monkey1.)  Meanwhile Monkey3 was nursed and told to stay in his room.  (Not the bed, just the room.  I was really willing to give a lot on this one.)  Did he listen?

Are you kidding?  So, I wound up holding Monkey3 in the bed because there was no other way to make him stay.  And, I'm sorry, but I have a problem with my children just totally ignoring what they're told to do.  Parents who are ok with that might want to stop reading at this point.  So, I wrapped one arm around his middle and held him still, while Monkey1 flopped around the top bunk in silent protest on his brother's behalf.  (Only silent because I told him to stop being rude, and if I heard another peep he would get a spanking.)  I finally got Monkey3 to agree to lie still if I let go.  He curled up with his head under my chin, and we both passed out.  I have no idea what time it was.

There's nothing quite as sweet as a freshly washed, sleeping Monkey.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going back to bed.  If someone catches me mumbling any deep confessions or aspirations as I drift off, let me know in the morning what they were.

05 May 2010

Dry, dry, dry

Yes, here I am.  Nothing to say, except, hi, y'all, I'm still alive.  The children are cute.  The mother is crazy as ever.  The Mad Scientist is still gone, gone, gone.

24 April 2010

Many a man's been kilt, for calling it a skirt!

Today we went to the NEFFA folk dance festival.  We watched a sword dance, a morris dance, participated in a circle dance (hard to do with a two-year-old on your hip, I found), and attended workshops on children's folk music, a scottish concert, and drumming. 

We drove about an hour and a half to get there, and it made for a very long, tiring day.  My children were a bit underwhelmed, I think, with being in the car yet again.  The biggest hit of the day was when we got home and they got to sit on Uncle Aaron's motorcycle, and launch rockets with him. 

I had a really good time, however, and am looking forward to the day when I can take my children to such an event and we will all enjoy ourselves.  I love contra-dancing; it's what the Mad Scientist and I did at our wedding, and everyone had a ball.  It is so much fun!!

I just have one more thing to say about the festival:  I have never seen so many men in skirts at one event.  Men in skirts, everywhere!  I don't find skirts that comfortable, and I don't really understand the appeal.  And just to clarify, I do know the difference between a skirt and a kilt, and, while there were several kilts in attendance as well, I am talking about skirts.  Long, ruffled skirts.  Shorter, handkerchief-style skirts.  I don't have a problem with it.  I know that men in lots of other cultures wear skirts (probably by different names).  But I don't understand why they would want to.  I'm certain someone can enlighten me.

21 April 2010

On crabbiness

Yesterday, after my little jean-buying expedition, I returned to a house full of crabby children.  My children have been getting progressively more crabby since the Mad Scientist left.  Only a third of the way through this little experiment (not quite, actually) I am not at all happy to note that tantrums are increasing exponentially.  I don't really blame them.  I feel like pitching a few myself.  But that doesn't make theirs any more pleasant to deal with.

One of the first things that happened when I got home was, I was presented with my glasses.  Monkey3 had snapped the temple off.  They were two weeks old.

The glasses they were replacing had been purchased before I married the Mad Scientist, which is to say the prescription was a bit out of date.  Also, in an attempt to assist me in putting them on one morning, Monkey3 had bent the frames so they sat funny on my face.  All this meant that, previous to my new pair, wearing my glasses inevitably meant a headache, which produces a crabby mama.  It's a no-fail formula.

It turns out that breaking the glasses that replaced the crappy ones I've been putting up with for the last six years or so (they're older than that, that's just when they started being crummy glasses) also produces a crabby mother.  Now instead of wearing crummy glasses, I'm totally without, because I had to mail them back to my optometrist for the warranty to be honored.  (They have to physically verify the break.)  So, when I take out my contacts in the evening, I'm basically blind as a bat.  Which, incidentally, also produces a crabby mother.

Right now, being a mother involves a tremendous amount of crabbiness.

20 April 2010

The Search for the Perfect Jeans

Have you looked at any Old Masters' paintings lately?  Once upon a time, people knew what a woman was shaped like.  Once upon a time, they understood that stomachs don't stay flat (if they ever were to begin with) and that thighs can be both round and beautiful.  Once upon a time, a woman with curves was oh, so wonderful to behold.  This is as opposed to our current aesthetic, which idolizes a shape resembling a pair of balloons attached to a stick figure.

I was thinking about this today, as I returned to my hunt for a perfect pair of jeans.  It's something that I engage in periodically, just for my own amusement because I need pants.  I've tried the "skirts only" thing, and it doesn't work for me.  So, I have a list, and I hunt through the racks to see how many items I can check off before I admit defeat.  I never get the whole list.  That's the way the game goes.  It isn't that it's long or difficult, or that I'm particularly difficult to please.  It's just that fashion designers (apparently) don't know any real women.  So, as a favour to the fashion industry which is naturally hanging on my every word, I present Requirements for a Perfect Pair of Jeans:

 The perfect pair of jeans would be loose enough through the seat and thigh that I could sit down easily, but tight enough in the waist that when I did, I wouldn't have to worry about what was showing from behind.  It would be a dark color, to minimize my lower half.  It would be boot-cut, to balance my hips, and sit at my natural waist to cover my mommy-tummy. 

Is that so difficult?

(True story:  I was nursing Monkey3 the other day, when Monkey2 walked in and started poking at my stomach.  "Mama, are you growing another baby?" she asked.  "No, why do you ask?" I replied, because I'm a sucker for punishment.  "Because," she poked me again, "just look at this!"  Then I wrote her out of my will forever.  The End.)

The perfect pair of jeans does not exist.  This is true because some idiot in the fashion industry (possibly more than one) decided to bring back acid-wash jeans, like the eighties weren't bad enough the first time around.  Also because clothing designers have yet to discover that, after curving out to accomodate a woman's hips, you need to curve back in (going from the bottom, up) to take into account the fact that we also have a waist.  And boot-cut jeans are too hip to sit at the natural waist.  So, really, it's pretty much a lost cause.

The last time I bought jeans, I got them on sale at Chico's.  You have to love a store where no one is larger than a 3.  I bought jeans that filled all requirements except being boot-cut and fitting at the waist.  Then I took them to a tailor, and had her take in the waist a full four inches.  FOUR inches!!  "Wow" she told me, "your waist is really tiny!"  Actually, the truth is I have big hips, but she's been my favourite person since she said that.

I refuse to believe that my shape is that odd or difficult to fit.  I am a reasonably sized woman, with a very nice, womanly figure.  I don't need to look like Twiggy, and I should be able to buy pants that fit.  Standing in the fitting room (where nothing ever does) I repeat to myself:  "If Rembrandt were still alive, I would be a goddess!"

Maybe I should look into getting a toga.

The Never-Ending Highway

I pulled in to my in-laws' house at 2 a.m. Monday morning.  I should have arrived (by my calculations, which are sketchy, I admit) between midnight and 1.  I have no idea why I was an hour later than I had expected, except to say the the Pennsylvania Turnpike is a never-ending highway.  Like the loaves and the fishes (as my mother pointed out), it was simply creating more highway beneath my wheels as I drove, because why on earth else would it take me an entire extra hour to drive from Wheeling, W.V, to the Reading exit?

It was ok though, because I stopped at a quick-mart for gas, and bought a bottle of some totally disgusting energy drink that promised me 5 hours of energy, without sugar or caffeine, and no let down at the end.  I have no idea what was in it.  It was "grape" flavoured, tasted totally disgusting, and worked.  I'm trying not to think beyond that, about what I might actually have consumed.  I wouldn't have done it if I were pregnant, but since it's just me we're thinking of here, I decided it was worth it.  I was in possession of a car full of tired, sleeping children, and a cat who had been in his carrier (which he hates) since 8:00 that morning.  We got on the road at noon, and he yowled pretty much non-stop, all the way to PA.  (He hates travelling in the car, too.)

My options were the potion, or a hotel.  And there was no way I was leaving my poor cat in his carrier all night, and no possibility of getting him back in it the next day without one of us being scarred for life.  So I drank it, turned on country radio, and drove.

The Monkeys all woke up about 1:20, not too impressed with the fact that we were still on the road.  I promised them the exit was coming right up, and then told them how their Daddy whips around the curves on 568 whenever we're heading this way.  Always makes me nervous, but it's a road he knows and loves.  I was a bit more circumspect, since I could feel my buzz beginning to wear off.  The last thing I needed at that ridiculous hour, in that situation, was to flip us all off the road.  'Though we were wedged in so tightly with everything we packed, we probably wouldn't have moved at all as the car tumbled down the hill.  Ridiculous.

08 April 2010

We now return to your regularly scheduled mayem...

I have lot of things to share with you all.  Easter pictures, trip pictures, me surviving without the Mad Scientist anecdotes.  I'm not putting any of that up tonight however.  Tonight, I'd just like to say one thing:

It's a really good thing my nose works better than my brain:

These were supposed to be hard-boiled eggs for my lunch tomorrow.  I'm driving an hour south, to take a workshop on Natural Dyeing at The Fiber Event in Greencastle.  The directions said to bring an apron.  I have two, but they're both kitchen aprons, and I decided I wanted a dyeing apron.  So I got my eggs started (cover with cold water, then bring to a boil - check), and started working on my apron.

Just as I was finishing it, I smelled something funny.  Yes, that would be the remains of my eggs.  On to round two, in which I will try not to forget the eggs yet again, while typing directions for the sitter.

On the up side, the apron turned out pretty decent.  Not bad at all, really, for being whipped up without a pattern at nine thirty p.m.

A timer for the eggs might have been a good idea.  This has been a public service announcement.

30 March 2010

Today I am wondering...

Which am I, really?

And Christ's life indeed makes it manifest, terrifyingly manifest, what dreadful untruth it is to admire the truth instead of following it. When there is no danger, when there is a dead calm, when everything is favorable to our Christianity, then it is all too easy to confuse an admirer with a follower.

And this can happen very quietly. The admirer can be under the delusion that the position he takes is the true one, when all he is doing is playing it safe. Give heed, therefore, to the call of discipleship!

If you have any knowledge of human nature, who can doubt that Judas was an admirer of Christ?


Read Ann Voskamp's thoughts on this here.

How are you going through Holy Week?

So, how's life?

Not much is going on in my life right now...

That's short-hand for "I just packed my soul-mate off the other side of the world for three months, and I'm planning to not think about anything except how I'm getting through the next five minutes, until all the five minute slots before he comes home are used up."

Sort of the equivalent of "I'm fine!  How are you?"

Thanks for asking.  Do you really want to know?  (No one ever does.  Sometimes I give a quick answer that leans toward "Show me if you really care, and I'll really tell you."  I think that scares people.)

And I'm not trying to sound bitter, really.  Just pointing out one of those foibles of humanity, which, really, can be pretty funny.

In the spirit of laughing at the foibles of others, I discovered, this evening, an absolutely hysterical blog.  It's called Stuff Christians Like.  I was led to it by an Amazon recommendation for the book of the same title.  Now that I've e-mailed three different posts to three different people, I thought I'd just put one up for all you anonymous blog readers to enjoy.  This one is really funny.

24 March 2010

I think I may be in love

I recently got a food processor from a lovely woman on Freecycle.  She not only gifted me with this item but, when I realized it was missing a piece, searched her pantry 'til the absent item materialized, and then made sure that it made its way to me as well.  I was very grateful, but, never having had a food processor before, I wasn't quite sure where to start with it.

Then I got the idea to try it with pie crust.  Now, ordinarily I hate making pie crust.  Cutting in the lard (and yes, I do use lard; sue me, it makes a nicer crust) is a total pain in the patootie, even with the special gizmo.  But this time?  I just threw all the crust ingredients in the food processor, whizzed it around, and I was good to go:

 25 minutes from "Gee, I think I'll bake a pie." to popping it in the oven.  My life in the kitchen will never be the same.  (Also, possibly, my waistline.)

Waistline aside, that definitely Works For Me.

This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday, hosted by Kristin at We Are THAT Family.  Visit there for other great ideas.

23 March 2010

This post is brought to you courtesy of the folks at Vita Familiae

The last time I posted about bodily fluids on my blog was also Lora Lynn's fault.  I take no responsibility.  I think better of these things (no, I really do) and then I head over there and she makes it sound so darn funny I end up thinking "Oh, what the heck!"  And you all suffer the results.

So, what I didn't put in my last post was how my day actually started, which was like this:

At 6 a.m., my alarm went off.  I detached Monkey3 from my chest enough to roll over and hit the snooze button, for which he squawked at me in aggravation.  Like he hadn't been nursing for three hours, at least.

Nine minutes later, I hit the snooze button again, and was just drifting off when Monkey1 walked into our room and announced "I stepped in cat poop with my feet, and my hands, and my knee."

I thought maybe he was sleep-walking.  He does tend to get rather agitated at times, and he talks in his sleep.  The other night he got out of bed, climbed onto Monkey2's bed, and walked the full length of it, then came back down and stood there while I tried to get him back into his own bed.  So the sleep-walking thing wasn't totally unfounded.  Plus, it meant there (probably) wasn't really any cat poop.  I could hope.

"Where was it?" we asked, hoping for an incoherent answer.

"In the kitchen." he replied.

That could have been coherent, but, on the other hand, why on earth would he have been in the kitchen at six a.m?  We persisted with our questions, and he gamely described how he had gone into the bathroom and washed his hands (from which "the poop just fell right off"), but not his feet or his knee.  Hope dimmed, and we realized (after asking him directly and receiving a very annoyed negative) that he was, in fact, not asleep.

Fortunately (for me) I was nursing, so the Mad Scientist got to head down to the kitchen and assess the damage.  But then, Monkey3 decided cat poop was more interesting than nursing, so I ended up cleaning up the mess anyway.  It turned out the be vomit, but my relief was tempered by the fact that, while we'd been trying to determine what, exactly was going on, the cat had vomited yet again, just outside the bedroom.

Good Morning!  It must go up from there, right?  :-)

Today in my life...

I took the children to Michael's with the stated purpose of getting 1) pretty paper to finish decorating my new chandelier and 2) stuff to include in letters to our sponsored child.  I told the monkeys they were getting nothing.  That wasn't why we were there.

Right.  Before we even walked in the store, I found some wooden models for only $1.  Monkeys 1 and 2 got sailboats.  Monkey3 wasn't interested, which was fine.  Because we weren't there to get stuff for the kids.

Then I found these.

Different animals for everyone.  I also found these:

I told the oldest two monkeys they would have to spend their own money on the swords, as I had spent quite enough on treats already.  No problem, they were good with that.  (And had some money left over from Christmas gifts.)  Of course, Monkey3 didn't have a way to approve that, so he didn't get one.  Remember that point.  It will come up later.

So, returning home, I got Monkey3 down for a nap and then helped my two oldest with their sailboats.

Not bad, if I do say so myself.  Monkey3 got up, and I sent them outside with a snack (graham crackers.)  Monkey1 wanted peanut butter on his, and solemnly informed me that he would be the waiter, and spread the peanut butter, because he could be a helpful waiter who spreads peanut butter for people.  Perfect.  I stayed in the house for two seconds of quiet.

Just then I looked at the clock, realized it was 5 o'clock, and the Mad Scientist opened the gate.  We chatted in the kitchen for a few minutes, and I suggested Chick-Fil-A for dinner.  Because, strange as it sounds (now that I type it out and realize how little I actually accomplished today), I was beat.  Then we separated our brawling sons, the larger of whom was beating the smaller with his new foam sword.  We determined that the issue was, the youngest wanted to have a sword fight, and so had attempted to appropriate his brother's weapon.  We tried to give him his sister's weapon, and she immediately decided she wanted it herself.  I decided to buy another sword asap, and we headed out to the car.

As I buckled Monkey1 into his seat, sword in his hand, he announced "If a policeman pulls us over, I am going to point my sword at him and growl ferociously."

Probably, I should have kept a straight face and explained that policemen are generally nice people who do their best to keep us all safe, but that's not what I did.  Instead, I laughed.  Hysterically.

Tonight was Kid's Night.  I didn't know that when we decided to go, but it worked out.  There was a balloon artist.  Monkey1 was fascinated, and overcame his distaste for talking to strangers so much, that he actually walked up to the man, waited for an opportune moment (with some gentle guidance), and asked him where he learned "to make pretty things with balloons."  This was HUGE.  My son doesn't talk to strangers.  He announced in the car that he also wants "to make pretty things with balloons to make small children happy."  My son is now an aspiring balloon artist.

(The Mad Scientist said "There goes my retirement plan.")

I have to share one more thing, because it was just so funny, but I'm going to have to reword slightly to make it more appropriate.  Be warned.

Listening to chatter in the backseat on the way back to Michael's (returning one thing, picking up another sword), we were first stunned, and then hysterical, as we heard our sweet Monkey2 casually state "Oh dear, my [nursing apparatus] is just twirling in the breeze!"

This was followed by an announcement that Larry Boy was stuck in the balloon rocket ship, and life went crazily on.  :-D

17 March 2010

Thoughts on Healthcare

I was browsing through Ravelry the other day, and happened upon a link to a blog post.  Now, this blog is by a woman with dual American/British citizenship.  She grew up in the US, moved to GB after college, married an Englishman, and then moved back to the States after 15 years.  So her perspective is very different, and I enjoyed her very thoughtful take on the healthcare debate.  I thought you might, as well.

I recommend starting with this post:  This American's Experience of Britain's Healthcare System.  It is excellent.

Then, to help put things into a slightly new perspective, go ahead and read What a Strange School System.  That one really made me stop and think (despite the fact that I don't necessarily agree with the idea of the Federal Government administering the public education system, at least to the extent that it currently does.)

These posts came from the blog Potential and Expectations, which I had never seen before this week, but which I plan to peruse in the future.  It's always nice to get a new perspective.

What do you think?

11 March 2010


Chez-moi, reading is a big deal these days.  It's the thing to work on.  So it is not, perhaps, surprising that my sweet middle child has taken to "reading" stories at every opportunity.  First, about two weeks ago I overheard her in the bathtub, getting very upset with her brother because she needed ALL the letters, because she was writing "a very LONG sentence to God!"  Here it is:

Then, she has begun to read stories to her brothers, any time she can get them to sit still and listen.  Since we tend to go over and over and OVER the same books, she does a pretty good job of following the basic story-line, even if she rephrases things here and there.  I'm pretty certain she has her brothers convinced that she's actually reading:

(Sorry about the camera strap across the corner, there.)  The other day she sat down for an impromptu story-time session with Monkey3.  There was no dress-code:

Appropriately enough, the story was Where The Wild Things Are, and I can answer that question:  They're here.  Does anyone else have a Wild Thing or two at their house?