Saturday, November 28, 2009

Oink

The pig sick has arrived.

Yup. We have confirmed H1N1 in our house. 3 of the 4 kids and 1 of the 2 adults have been hit. That adult being me.

We're all pretty miserable (the non-sick do have to put up with the sick!) but, fortunately, we're an overall-healthy family. J has already run his course, C and M are on the mend, and I feel like I've already hit my peak. H and the husband haven't been stricken yet. It still may happen, but I have a feeling they're going to skip it. Something tells me the virus knows I can't handle the husband when he's sick, and I guarantee it's terrified of H! She tends to get a bug, beat it up, make it mean, and then send it off to someone else.

If nothing else, we now have proof that homeschoolers are not an isolated people, lol.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

14 hours

No new pictures. My eyes are fuzzy. Kids are going strong. I'm worried I may fall asleep and dream of zombies chasing fish to a Beatles soundtrack. For a good cause, of course!

Almost 6 hours later...

Have I ever mentioned that my favorite OTC medication is Advil?

Have I ever mentioned how I let my husband talk me into crazy things?

Have I ever mentioned how my kids get when they play video games for more than a few minutes?



I love Advil.

I love my husband.

I love my kids.

And I hate cancer. Don't you?

I thought so.

Hour One







It's going to be a long day! FB friends- feel free to spam me with FB game challenges!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Extra Life



At 8am tomorrow, the husband, the maniacs and I will start 24 hours of gaming. Even for our family, that's going to be a tough task. But it's worth it because we're raising money for pediatric cancer treatment and research.

Now that I've finally located my camera's battery charger, I hope to photo blog our marathon!

For the record, this means we will be spending the first 8 hours of our 9th wedding anniversary gaming, and the rest of it sleeping. Much like the first year of our marriage.

You can join our team or sponsor us here!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Following through

I have a greater sentimental attachment to my children's belongings than they do. This would make sense to me if I were the type of person to update baby books (or even bother to buy baby books after the first few kids) or get annual family photos taken or even print snapshots once in a while. But I'm not. I have the memories and, most times, that's good enough for me.

Yet I still haven't donated or chucked my son's Bob the Builder bedsheets.

The fact that my kids' bedrooms are complete disasters devastates me. Also insane, since I grew up in a disaster of a room (and, well, kind of continue to live in one!). It breaks my heart because the messes lead to breakage. Broken DVDs, crumpled art work, missing pieces... All of those wonderful belongings destined for the trash can.

I finally had it with my 11yo, whom I've been telling to straighten up for several weeks. I'm not even talking dusting and vacuuming, just picking the crap up off the floor and putting it somewhere NOT on the floor! I gave him one last warning. If he didn't care enough about his stuff to put it away safely, he obviously didn't care enough to keep it.

Unfortunately, I CARE.

But I sucked it up.

This weekend, I sat down and gathered 5 garbage bags full of stuff while sobbing. And then I let the garbage men take it this morning.

And you know what? I feel better, and so does he.

Stuff sucks. It's time to tackle the rest of the house!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Even lefties can disagree with the POTUS

The AP has decided to remind us that Obama thinks schools should have longer hours and longer years.
You can read the article here.

I would just like to share my single thought on the matter.

Trying to solve the education problem with more of the same education is like trying to solve the obesity problem with more Twinkies.

That is all.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Once upon a time

One of my favorite things about homeschooling is the ability to study history in chronological order. Things actually happened before Plymouth Rock. Interesting things! And starting from the beginning makes it easier to understand why and how things have progressed.

For H an M, the first four years of our curriculum focus on interesting stories and engaging projects to familiarize them with the topics they'll study more in depth in the middle grades.

This week, we learned about Ancient Crete and the legend of the Minotaur. After having heard many, many stories about Egyptian Gods and fierce battles, the idea of a half-bull, half-man chained in a basement wasn't all that impressive.

H has dubbed the feared beast "Bull-dude".
That kid cracks me up.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

I'm looking for a word...

for a person who really doesn't want to go to the doctor because she's afraid of being diagnosed as a hypochondriac. Or finding out that her fear of being diagnosed as a hypochondriac has prevented her from being diagnosed with some horrible disease in a timely manner. Because maybe she is really is sick. Or a real hypochondriac. Or a really sick hypochondriac.

And now that person has a doctor appointment set for Monday and can't decide whether making a long, detailed list of symptoms will make her look like a complete hypochondriac or provide the road map to some obscure diagnosis.

Either way, I think she's effed.

Wish her luck!

Friday, September 11, 2009

The roller coaster

Eight years ago today, I realized I was bringing another life into the world. As if it weren't enough to suddenly doubt my then-3yo's future, I found myself wondering what another child's introduction to this place would look like.

While it still seems like only yesterday, a lot has happened since then. Not only did I bring a wonderful child into this world, but I've gone on to do so twice more. And so have women in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Korea, Guatemala, France, England, Italy, Ethiopia, Japan, Germany, Sweden, Ghana, Canada, Rwanda, and every other country in the world.

As frightened as I may have been, I was and am extremely fortunate. My children are extremely fortunate. I knew this on 9/10/01, but I didn't understand it until a few months later. And now that I do, I try to remind myself every single day.

Today I turn my thoughts specifically to those lost eight years ago and all those who still suffer from that tragic day. This focused rumination is what will take me through the next 364 days of global devastation, celebration, disappointment, relief, setbacks and progress. Because we are not the only ones who ride this ride. Today may be the anniversary of turn, but it's running all year round.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

We're getting there!

I hate potty training.
Hate it.
Hate it.
Hate it.

If I didn't fear a Child Services investigation, I'd probably leave my children in diapers until they were 7. That's how much I hate potty training.

My first three kids probably would have let me. But I did my duty (tee hee!) and introduced them to the toilet. I don't think a single one of them took less than a full year to get the hang of it. It was a nightmare.

Then there's C. HE thinks the potty is the greatest thing in the entire world. He loves to flush. He loves to watch everything go down. He loves to drive me crazy.

What took everyone else forever to grasp seems to be coming relatively easy for him, and I think we will become a diaper-free household pretty soon. Which is awesome. Except for the fact that fitting a year long process into a couple of months still feels like fitting a year long process into a couple of months.

How one little boy can manage to use the toilet 13 times in one day while still having at least a half dozen wet diapers AND two or three accidents on the floor is beyond me. I don't think I went that often while I was pregnant with him!

So, right now, my life revolves around pee.

I hate potty training.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The outside world

I am not really a people person. I like my little bubble. There are very few people I'm willing to leave my bubble for, and even fewer who are allowed inside my bubble.

For some reason, people feel that keeping my kids inside this bubble is mean. I'm not sure why I should care what people think, since I don't even like many of them, but I suppose it's only fair to give the kids the chance to complain about people other than me. And each other. So I took them out to "socialize" today.

They sell lunch at the clubhouse in our development. I'm pretty sure "they" is the social committee. I can't say for certain, since I only work on a committee that people never want to deal with, which works out well for a non-people-person like myself. Anyway, we've never had lunch at the clubhouse in the 4 years we've lived here. The reason should be obvious. So I never knew that I could drive a mile down the road and feed 4 kids and myself for a grand total of $6.50, with no dishes to wash!

While we were there, I finally introduced myself and the kids to our development's homeschool group. Yup, we've been living here for 4 years, homeschooling for 2+, and I just introduced myself today. And guess what. I didn't immediately not like them. This is progress.

Perhaps my bubble is a bit too restrictive. I think I might be able to convince myself to leave it a little more often. Especially when cheap lunch is involved.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

What's fair is fair

The big kids have been off doing various wonderful things with different relatives while poor little C gets stuck with boring Mom and Dad. Our big trip today was going to be to a farmer's market we haven't checked out yet. Until we found out that it will be next week.

So I found myself suggesting we go to the fair.

I am officially old. A couple of hours at the fair has completely exhausted me. My feet hurt. My stomach hurts. And I loved the band that was playing. They're called Midlife Crisis. Sigh.

But C seemed to have a good time. We may need to cut back a bit on the cartoons though. While walking through the livestock exhibits, my darling 2yo looked at the animals and said "Hi! I'm C. How are you?", as though expecting a response.
To be fair, these animals were so purdy they were nearly cartoon-like!

I was hoping to accomplish so much more today, but there's just no energy left in me. We're starting back up with school work tomorrow. It would have been nice to have a fresh start in a clean, organized house. Maybe next year!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Gaps

Many homeschoolers tend to fret about creating gaps in their child's education. What if we forget to teach the history of Denmark? Or if we accidentally skip the battery circuit experiment?

Blah. Public schooled kids have gaps. For instance, I was taught that the world began with Christopher Columbus and any war that America wasn't involved in had no relevance. I was also taught that french fries were part of a balanced meal, but we were never graded on Lunch, so I guess that's no big deal.

One of my goals as a homeschool parent (because I have like 214) is to give my kids an education that is as gap-free as reasonably possible. So we do things like compare the Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms of Egypt and recite poetry they don't understand. But something has to give. So here are the things I've forgotten to teach them.

1. The definition of "away" isn't "under your bed".
2. "Something smells" means "something smells BAD".
3. It's not okay to pee on the cat (even if it is funny).
4. Privates must be completely covered in public.
5. Bandaids are for boo-boos. They are not temporary tattoos.
6. 5 squares are plenty (most of the time). And an entire roll won't flush.
7. Strangers don't want to hear your life story. Especially the embarrasing parts about Mommy.
8. Shale driveways are not meant to be swept clear so you can dribble a basketball.
9. The "Look both ways before you cross the street. Use your eyes, ears, and then you use your feet" chant has motions to go along with it.
10.How to cover your tracks.

Number 10 is a good one though. Yes, I do recognize the handwriting on my Sharpie'd mattress. I do not know where they picked up the whole "X was here" idea. I'm too upset to care now that I know my child is stupid enough to use their own name.

Perhaps we should write a poem about it.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Pleasant Acres

As J gets ready to turn the big 1-1, I find myself reminiscing. I gave my parents hell as a tween and young teen.
Fortunately, it wasn't a rehab/juvie/bootcamp/she-has-no-future-type hell. That would come later. But attitude and emotion wise? Hell.

And yet, despite the "I hate you"s and "You never let me do anything"s and "My life sucks so hard"s, my parents gave me an amazing childhood.

We were a camping family. Camping, as in flushing toilets, showers and electricity, for the most part. Something like this:Of course, now the norm looks more like this:



For more than a dozen years, we would spend our weekends at "The Campground" from May to June and September to October, and the entire months of July and August.

My friends and I could navigate our way through thick woods by age 8 and build the perfect campfire before age 10. We could pitch a 3-person tent in 10 minutes and then squeeze 6 little girls in for a slumber party. My sisters and I could pack a station wagon with 2 months of supplies for a family of 5 in 30 minutes and do it RIGHT, so that all of the immediate-needs items could be unpacked in 10, and we could run off to find our Campground friends.

We knew how to bait a hook, fix a bike chain, cook over an open fire, walk a dead tree to cross a brook, tip a cow, sheer a sheep, make pancakes for 15, cook mountain pies for any meal AND dessert, carve initials in trees, smoke a cigarette without getting caught OR burning down the woods, and stretch an 11pm curfew to 11:35 without getting grounded.

This is where I met my best friends, got my first and worst skinned knees, my first kiss and my first broken heart, learned to appreciate the scent of moth balls, danced the Electric Slide and the Virginia Reel, played Rummikube with Grandma, and drove Grandpa's car.

The Campground was my life.

Last night, the husband and I took the maniacs out to see where Mommy grew up. I was a little nervous about taking them. They know nothing of campground etiquette, and they are definitely not accustomed to doing a lot of walking. Nor are they used to open fire pits or goats that "nibble". I was a bit of a nervous wreck, suddenly seeing danger everywhere.

They LOVED it!
In little more than 4 hours, we managed to squeeze in a tour of all the animal pens (goats, turkeys, geese, horses, cows, and sheep), time on the playground, dinner, a peek at my old campsite, a great big campfire, and way too many s'mores. And I forgot to bring a real camera.





It was so cool to see my kids being, well, ME!

All morning, they've been asking when we'll take them back. I think it's time to start shopping for a starter trailer.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The little things

I've come to the conclusion that priorities are almost pointless.

I'm 32 years old. I've spent a decent amount of time figuring out what is most important to me, what my strengths are, and in which direction I want to head. Things are about as clear as one can reasonably hope for (which is to say, not exactly murky, but far from crystal).

But you know what? That doesn't mean anywhere near as much as I hoped it would. Because while one devotes a great deal of time and energy to the top priorities, the lower ones unionize. They gather with their bits and pieces, undetected until they form a giant wall that can completely separate you from your goals.

It's rather depressing.

And now I must go dust before the bunnies revolt.

Friday, July 24, 2009

My Achilles Heel

I'm a pretty confident person. Even when I'm self-conscious, I can usually will myself to appear ballsy enough to fake it. But there's one situation I've never been able to cope with: Court.

I've gone to court on a traffic violation, and I thought I was going to die.
In 10 years, I've gone to family court twice (and mediation twice) and thought I was going to puke all over myself.

Court terrifies me. Doesn't matter whether I'm obviously in the right or not, I have to choose my breakfast carefully because I may have to revisit it in reverse.

I'm waiting to find out if I'll have to go back to court. Just thinking about it, I'm shaky and nauseated and feeling a little faint. The caffeine probably isn't helping, but it's doing a good job of keeping the migraine at bay.

I've had bread and butter and a little bit of pasta today. Anything more would be reckless. Now you know my weakness.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Food is ugly

I'm reading Food, Inc.

I wouldn't say that there are many surprises in the book. I already knew that I didn't like the idea of poisons on my kids' food (or in our air, soil and water). Genetically modified food already freaked me out. I was already convinced that feeding animals hormones and antibiotics is bad. And I've always had a problem with the issue of immigration and farming. But now I feel like I'm on some big crusade within my own home.

Have you ever seen battery cages?


Or a feedlot?


Did you ever wonder who is out there, hand-picking your strawberries? http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/err60/err60.pdf
The USDA comes right out and tells us that about half are illegal (and almost all are foreign), and that 80% of them work 40+ hours/wk for an average of $318. In the sun. Immersed in pesticides. So we can have strawberry shortcake in February.

Basically, this book has taken all of my earlier concerns and made me realize that I'm not just paranoid. There are funky things going on in the food industry and I'm not being forced to participate. I'm being forced to work really hard in order to opt out.

I took my daughters to the local farm market this past weekend. They picked out half a dozen ears of corn (since we planted late). They were relatively short ears. The kernels varied in size and had some "interesting" patterns to them. No two looked alike. In other words, they were perfect! Grown from nature's seeds (not a lab's), in clean, local soil, recently harvested by the people who were paid for them.

We did pay slightly more than we would have for supermarket corn on sale. What we saved were the chemicals, the Frankenstein breeding, and the extra transportation. And my girls got to see that Amish people really do exist!

I can't completely change overnight. I managed to choke down some mass-produced chicken last night, and a Shop Rite cheeseburger the night before. I did talk to one of the farmers about getting half a cow and some chicken for our chest freezer. From a cow that lives in a field and chickens that have never seen a cage. Or been fed antibiotics. Or bred to grow at rates that would produce 300+lb human toddlers.

I know many people already think I'm weird with my slightly-crunchy take on the world, and a whole bunch are going to think I've really gone nuts now. But that's okay. If it's nuts to want to avoid buying a 10yo a bra or feminine hygiene products, or to contribute to a farmer's livelihood instead of a corporation's stock, or to eat real food and avoid poisons, than I'm happy to be nuts. Organic, locally grown, fair-wage nuts!

If you don't mind eating animals that were covered in feces before being cut up, eating species that have been spliced with other species and not knowing what species that might be, or getting your lettuce from China, that's your business. And I think you're nuts.

For the record, there are some points in the book I disagree with. But I do recommend everyone read it. Or see it, if you don't live in the boonies like me. If you can get through it without wanting to make a single change to your kitchen, I'll eat an unwashed supermarket strawberry.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Baby!

It's official, I'm an aunt!


Baby M was born at 3:27 on Friday.

I want to bite her. Not in an evil way, but in that "I could just eat her up with a spoon" way. Minus the spoon, because I'm just not that classy.

The aunt thing is so weird. Of the three D-sisters, I'm the one who makes the babies. I'm the one who tries to shush the babies while I'm on the phone. I'm the one who is always trying to grow a third hand. I'm the one who can't go more than a few hours without mentioning poop.

I don't know how I feel about abdicating that mommy throne. I can't figure out whether I'm more upset that I am 800 miles away from that delicious baby or that going to visit her might result in being on the 6 o'clock news for kidnapping when it's been months since I've had my highlights done. I can't make sense of this longing I have for another baby when I've already decided that I most definitely do not want another baby.

Last night, the husband, the kids and I sat down and watched Martian Child.

"Sometimes we forget that children have just arrived on the earth. They are a little like aliens, coming into beings as bundles of energy and pure potential, here on some exploratory mission and they are just trying to learn what it means to be human. For some reason Dennis and I reached out into the universe and found each other, Never really know how or why. And discovered that I can love an alien and he can love a creature. And that's weird enough for both of us."

Welcome to the world, Baby M!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Teacher

Words always carry weight, but the way in which they're measured can vary greatly from speaker to listener, and the way in which they're balanced can shift in different context or with further reflection. Titles are the biggest word-enigmas.

I had a list of titles I never wanted to be given or to claim. I felt that most were inaccurate or patronizing or that I was simply unworthy. I've never given much credence to the titles others bestow on me because I have been weighing them with my own scale, not by the scale of the speaker. I balanced their words within the scope of my own inferiority complex and my own tendency to attempt to appeal to what I've always assumed were the larger egos of everyone else. And I simply assumed they would do the same.

Two years ago, my grandmother was fretting over my decision to homeschool. With so many degreed teachers in our family, her skepticism made sense.

A few weeks ago, Grandma and I raided the library book sale. As I loaded an insane number of books onto the checkout counter, the cashier asked if I was a teacher. While I started to explain that I was a homeschooler, Grandma proudly proclaimed that yes, I was a Teacher, teaching my children at home.

Before that day, I would have rolled my eyes and cringed a bit at such a statement. But this time I used the speaker's scale; the scale of a woman who once doubted my methods and questioned my lack of credentials. Here she was, giving me a title I had never been able to honestly give myself. And she believed it. And now I do.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Mahhhvelous

How in the world does one describe M?



She's the second in a set of almost-Irish-twins. She's the second middle child. She's the second girl.



But she's the first child to look like me. She's the first to suggest a frog hunt. She's the first to comfort her baby brother. She's the first to make new friends and the first to help me in the garden. She's almost always the first to forgive, and she's definitely the first I turn to when I need some affirmation.



M is intense.
When she's happy, she's ecstatic.
When she's angry, she is terrifying.
She plays dress up in the mud and reads while hanging upside down.


M is well on her way to being my mini-me. I apologize.



She also happens to be 6 years old today.


Happy birthday, Porgs!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Mom2ninjas

My kitchen sink is approximately 4 feet from my hallway. The hallway is guarded by a gate. This morning, as I was washing the breakfast dishes (okay, and some of last night's), a certain someone managed to sneak across those 4 feet, breach the security gate, and plop down in the middle of his sisters' bedroom to play with choking hazards. While I was standing right there! You can just imagine the things that happen when I'm another 10 feet away at the dining room table.

I'm obviously raising ninjas.

The incredible stealth abilities of my children often leads to frustration and the throwing up of my hands, which inevitably leads to more chaos. You can tell me they need more discipline, that I must command obedience or that I should beat these traits out of them, but I believe you should be thanking me instead. I'll probably continue to grit my teeth and bear the insanity that comes with raising the incredible secret agents who will one day save the world.

You're welcome.

In the meantime, I'll keep finding myself in situations that make me look like a Real Bad Mommy. That doesn't mean I AM one. My kids are happy and healthy despite the fact that I now refuse to dig for the chewed up crayons in my toddler's mouth and I often overestimate their ability to handle horror movies (though I still consider Shaun of the Dead to be more of a comedy).

I take comfort in knowing I'm not the only mom who has WTF moments. It keeps me semi-sane. Contribute to this cause by sharing your own Real Bad Mommy stories here. The Baddest of the Bad has finally resurrected the site! You'd think she'd been busy or something for the past couple of years.

Now I have to try to stick 180 tissues back into their box. Yup, I'm 10 feet away!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A dose of reality

All of this hoopla surrounding a certain reality tv family has somehow managed to forced me to look at my own family from an audience perspective.

If I had complete control over the editing, this is what you would have seen today:

-The husband spending the early part of the morning helping out by walking the dogs, getting C some milk, making the coffee, and writing a list of things I would like for him to bring home after work.
-Me doing dishes, laundry, sweeping, picking up toys, jotting down some ideas for our curriculum in the fall, and marking the kids' height on our laundry room door.
-H flipping through a cookbook, looking for new things to make.
-H and M climbing trees, playing with bugs, and making a hopscotch board on the deck.
-C being all cuddly and cute, saying "please" repeatedly, using the potty, and hugging the cats.
-J helping with a few morning chores and drawing his own comic strip.

If I had no control over the editing, this is what you would have seen today:

-The husband walking around like a zombie this morning (poor guy had to spend last night getting paid to hang out in bars), completely 'forgetting' to feed and water the dogs, and telling me we already have plenty of milk (not what the fridge told me at 3:00).
-Me doing last night's dishes, boiling cloth diapers because I let them get too much soap build up, sweeping 3 times and still having crumbs, tossing toys into the mound we call "the toy pile", debating whether or not the girls can handle anatomically correct illustrations I wasn't really expecting in one particular book, and making C cry every time I tried to straighten his knees to be measured.
-H having every recipe she chose shot down because we're missing at least 3 ingredients.
-H and M getting yelled at for hanging upside down in trees, throwing bugs at each other, and for shaking the entire deck while I'm trying to write this.
-C trying to convince me to play trains while I try to distract him, running around the house nekkid through most of the morning, and choking the cats.
-J willing to do anything to escape the bedroom he's supposed to be cleaning, and thinking I don't know that he's drawing instead of cleaning.

Then there are the things I wouldn't be able to decide on. What would the world think if they saw my girls announce that they were going to potty train their brother? They even set up a folder to time his potty trips and track his successes, and they decided to reward him with honey roasted peanuts. Adorable kids? Slacker mom? Inappropriate mixing of the sexes?

How about the theft of the red Jell-o packet? Would that shot catch me in the background, playing Bejeweled Blitz?

And would it even be possible to get any of this on tape without hearing Annie, iCarly and Thomas the Tank Engine through the vast majority of it? Not to mention the 4-letter words I can't seem to keep from slipping out.

It's interesting trying to view the day from two different perspectives. You can't edit anything and then still call it reality. You can't boil hours down to 20 or 40 minutes of clips and pretend it's honest.

If that sounds like I'm trying to defend anyone, I'm not. I am, and always will be, against selling childhoods.
But I'm having fun picturing our 1-hour special!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Gung ho?

Apparently, this term doesn't mean what I thought it did.
From http://www.chinapage.com/word/gungho.html
" This unofficial motto of the US Marine Corps is an abbreviation for the Mandarin Gongye Hezhoushe, or industrial cooperative. The term was used in China, starting in 1938, to refer to small, industrial operations that were being established in rural China to replace the industrial centers that had been captured by the Japanese. The phrase was clipped to the initial characters of the two words, gung ho (or gung he, as it would be transliterated today), which means "work together." This clipping became a slogan for the industrial cooperative movement."

Here I was, thinking I was all gung ho over bread making, but it turns out I'm probably just mildly OCD with a very addictive personality.

I made my first loaf of sandwich bread yesterday. I'm really excited about it, because it is 100% whole wheat, and I was told that could be tricky to master. Not that I actually mastered it. All I had on hand was a Pyrex loaf pan, which really isn't the best tool, and I think that's why the bread was slightly more chewy than I would have liked. But still.



I really hate cooking, and I only slightly tolerate baking. And the only reason I put baking above regular cooking is because baking always tastes better.

I do feel that it's very important to feed my family healthy foods, but it's always so damn expensive!
I have high hopes for our organic vegetable garden, and I'm extremely grateful to have children who prefer raw vegetables to cooked! I'm also trying to figure out ways to cut back on meats, which is really hard when you already spent a good 6 years trying to get a child to eat a frickin hamburger and finally succeeded! But my big thing lately has been the cost of whole grain breads. Our family goes through so much bread that I actually did resort to Shoprite's completely nutritionally void 99 cent white bread. And anyone with half a brain knows that the only thing that's good for is $hi! on a Shingle. A meal that also involves way too much fat and a million preservatives. And I've been craving it for days now!

So, I bit the bullet and tried my hand at bread making. So far, 3 out of 4 kids have given it the green light, and the fourth is on her way home from Grandma's.

But then comes the obsessive aspect. I found Pleasant Hill Grain.

Making an average of 7 loaves of bread each week sounds like a monumental task. Certainly a Bosch mixer would help me out. And, instead of buying bags of flour that have sat on the store shelf for a while, wouldn't it be great to buy 45lb buckets of wheat berries and grind them fresh every week in a Nutramill? Of course, I'll also need a great set of loaf pans, and I may as well throw in a few cute bagette pans. I could use decent cooling racks. That gadget for slicing bread evenly would be awesome! And, while I'm thinking about it, I'm in the market for a knife sharpener.

I'm also busy thinking about all of the great recipes I should try. Whole wheat bagels, sandwich rolls, english muffins, waffles (oops, need a new waffle iron while I'm at it!), pita pockets, pizza dough...

I wonder if I can call it "gung ho" if I'm able to rope the kids into cooperating. I'm going to need a lot of help!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Publish a blog post. Check!

For the record, I have about 8 blog posts sitting in draft. I have major issues with follow through. I'm an ideas person. I'm all stimulant with no sustenance. This is why I'm going to have multiple assistants when I win the lottery. I'll explain my wonderful visions to them and then they can go figure out how to make it happen.

I'm also going to have a housekeeper, because I suck at that job. I plain don't like household chores. I've spent so much time avoiding them, it's almost as though I've forgotten HOW to clean.

With our school year technically being over, I don't have as much of an excuse to ignore the clutter and filth as I usually do. I spent about a week looking over my house, trying to figure out how to prioritize. Instead, I just overwhelmed myself and spent another few days with my head in the sand.

But now I have to get serious. I've finally made a household chore list! I'm feeling pretty pathetic though. Knowing myself as well as I do, I made sure to not only list the breakfast, lunch and dinner dishes separately, but I've listed washing the laundry, drying the laundry, and putting the laundry away separately. Because I truly am such a housekeeping loser that it is entirely possible for me to leave my family living out of the dryer for 2 or 3 days (while a wet load gets musty in the washer and a pile of clean clothes gets covered with dirty clothes of course).

I'm on my third day, and I've only done about half of my list each day. I'm ashamed to admit that, while my house is still a pig sty, it actually does look noticeably better than before! How sad is that?

The truth is, my house is never going to look "company ready", even when we're expecting company. We have 28 legs living in a small house. The kids have a few small chores and the husband helps out when he can, but the majority of the work falls in my 2 hands. The math just doesn't work.

But I'm trying.

And now my list tells me I need to go pee.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

You can't check your sources if you don't have any sources

I love debating issues and exchanging ideas. I really love doing so via the internet, because it (usually) provides ample time to craft a thoughtful response. Unless you're dealing with ignorant ideas and opinions without facts. Then it just becomes a rush of banal ranting. I got sucked into one of those this week.

If you're a homeschooler, you already know about the garbage being spewed by a certain teacher. I'm not about to name names, because then I would feel obligated to provide links and quotes, thus generating more traffic for the twit and flaming my own misplaced emotions that I believe I've finally managed to smother.

If nothing else, the whole debacle has left me with what I hope will be a permanent sticky-note in my brain that reads "Teach your kids formal logic and rhetoric!"

People have a natural aversion to things they don't understand. Sometimes that's perfectly fine. But, if you're going to write about a topic, either admit that you don't understand, or make an effort to learn about it first.

My assumption has always been that most people are not interested in learning about homeschooling. And that's fine. But I don't understand why anyone would want to engage in a discussion ABOUT homeschooling unless they ARE interested in some way or another. And if one IS interested, wouldn't it make logical sense to, I don't know, ask questions rather than spew ignorance?

So, dear readers, I just want to let you know that, if you ever wonder about homeschooling, whether it be how I get any housework done (Answer: I don't, but plenty of other homeschoolers are perfect Suzy Homemakers. I'm only jealous when I'm craving a bubble bath in a clean tub.) or whether my kids have to take standardized tests (Answer: In grades 3, 5 and 8 in my state. Some states have no testing, others must test annually.), feel free to ask. I would genuinely love the opportunity to address real questions, rather than emotionally banging my head against a brick wall.

And if you couldn't care less, that's cool too. Just do me (and yourself) a favor and refrain from putting any judgments in print unless you're into that kind of blog circus. (And, if you are, you're welcome for the traffic tip!)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

If music be the food of love

then the husband REALLY needs to take me to see Rock of Ages!

I can't really concentrate on this post because I'm really busy rocking out to the soundtrack (in stores on the 7th, I think, but available for download on Amazon and iTunes now).
How can anyone NOT get swept up?





I've got to tell you, I was not Constantine's biggest fan, but he makes me drool in this role. Then again, you could probably put just about anyone in this role and I'd drool. It's all about the music, baby. And being able to laugh at the ridiculous awesomeness of it all!

What I wouldn't do for a banana clip and some Aqua Net right now.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Behind in blogging the birthday blur

I am now the proud owner of a 7-year-old daughter.

I have no idea how that happened.
I spent the day marveling at the fact that I somehow survived her infancy (much of it spent pregnant with her sister). H was born a non-sleeping screamer. The only time she slept for more than a 10 minute clip was when she was ON someone (which makes me marvel at the fact that she even has a sister).

I zombied my way through so many of those early days, and now I find myself scrambling to observe and imprint all of her later milestones. The trouble is, she's just hitting them too fast to keep up with.

This kid has taken my life by storm, and she's well on her way to doing the same to the world. Right now, she plans to do so by being a "pizza girl". And there's no doubt in my mind that she could.


Unless Daddy turns her into a hockey star before then.

Happy birthday, Baby. Big Girl. Young Lady.
Sigh.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The joys of parenting

What other (occupation, hobby, life-choice, whatever you want to call it) calls for explaining why it is not a good idea to place signs that read "Peep Stand" at the end of your driveway?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mind tripping

I am a book whore.
I stalk the bargain shelves at Borders. I've even begun stalking library book sales. I've had to take a hiatus from raiding the actual library until I pay off my insanely high fines. Amazon is like a drug that I'm desperately trying to detox from.

I always feel out of the loop when I see other people's book lists. In a way, I guess that's a good thing. I'm not very good at discussing books. I'm also not very good at reading them from cover to cover.

The lists I see usually consist of a pile of 1-3 "reading now" titles, followed by piles of varying heights of "to be read" titles. This is a concept that amazes me. I've never had separate piles. To me, it'd be like getting a stack of presents, opening one or two, and leaving the rest until you're through with the first.
How can anyone stand that suspense?!

Of course, that way makes logical sense, but it seems awfully boring. And, of course, my way has huge drawbacks.

My current book list, all bookmarked in seemingly random places:

Don Quixote
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Financial Peace

The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the World of Narnia

Mommy Wars

Different Minds
One Day at a Time
A Breath of Snow and Ashes
Dumbing us Down

The Well-Trained mind
(bookmarked in multiple places)
An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory
The Schools our Children Deserve

It Seemed Like a Good Idea: A Compendium of Great Historical Fiascoes
Death of a Salesman


A Mind Apart: Travels in a Neurodiverse World
and
The History of the Ancient World


This is a problem.
This is also an example of why girls are so much less likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. I've never jumped on furniture, disrupted a classroom, or otherwise appeared to bounce off the walls, but my mind races from one idea to another. Frantically. Constantly.

I have managed to finish several books in the past few months, most of which were first cracked open at the beginning of the year, if not earlier. It's not so much an inability to finish things as much as a compulsion to seek more, more, more!
Which is why I'm drawn to A Mind Apart.

This is a neurodiverse world. While the rapid increase in neurological "conditions" worries even me, searching for miracle cures also concerns me. Would it be prudent to eradicate ADD? Asperger's Syndrome? Or, in Susanne Antonetta's case, bipolar disorder?

It might make my family easier to handle. Then again, so would having fewer children, having a larger home, having hired help, or fewer pets. Granted, those were all choices, not a genetic luck of the draw. But the fact remains, many of life's difficulties bring with them enormous joy and meaning. We learn to cope with the downsides in order to reap the upsides.

Without atypical neurology, where would new ideas come from? How can the world advance if we all think along a standard track? Or should we be content with the standard track?

I'm going to do my best to focus on Antonetta's travels and make it to the end of her book with few pit stops. But I have to admit, Tolkien is beckoning to me with lines like "not all who wander are lost".

That's enough mind-tripping for now. I have a litter box to clean out.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Dear people who think having 4 kids must be exhausting

You're nuts.

I'll admit, MY 4 kids tend to be fairly exhausting as a group, but that group is NOTHING compared to a single toddler.

The husband is away, and my in-laws have taken the 3 big kids for the weekend. It's just me and the babe.

It has taken me 4 hours to drink 2 cups of coffee.
I've been hand-fed Cheerios.
I've drawn about a dozen circles and half a dozen squares.
I've played cars.
I've played trains.
I've build sand castles.
I've read 4 Elmo books.
I've rescued 2 cats approximately 3 times each.
I've had "help" with 2 loads of laundry.
I've played several different characters in a puppet show that involved an awful lot of biting and kissing.
I've build a block tower. Repeatedly.
And now I'm being asked to put the train track back together again.

10am and I am officially exhausted.
My big kids don't change diapers or do laundry or dishes. They don't vacuum, and their attempts to sweep are... well, attempts. But boy do they play a big part in keeping things running semi-smooth around here.
I need my entertainment crew.

And a nap.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The grass is always greener

in someone else's pasture. Especially when you don't have your own pasture.

Some history:
When I was growing up, I was convinced that I would have some high-pressure, high-paying, fancy shmancy career. In Manhattan. Where I would live in the cutest little brownstone, surrounded by impressive art, a Yorkshire Terrier, and a perfect little child or two. Oh, and I guess their daddy. I never really thought much about that part.

Instead, I wound up moving west of Jersey, not east. I traded the suburbs for the sub-suburbs, my brownstone for a vacation style home, my framed art for fingerprints and crayon drawings, my Yorkie for two mutts, and my perfect child for four little maniacs. I'm a homeschooling mom who hasn't worn heels in well over two years. And I almost always look forward to my husband coming home.

And you know what's funny about the whole thing? I dream of moving even farther away from my original plan.

I just found the perfect homestead property in NY State (which, ironically IS even farther away from Manhattan than the Poconos). It has an adorable (ancient) 5 bedroom farmhouse, elaborate gardens, fenced in pastures with animal shelters, outbuildings, a store front, and even a sign for grabbing the tourists' attention.

I could have chickens! And sheep!
I've wanted chickens for a long time, but now I'm finding myself researching sheep and all of the wonderful things you can do with them. Wool, meat, milk... oh, the milk! You've got your sheep milk milk, sheep milk cheese, sheep milk yogurt, sheep milk soap, sheep milk lotion, sheep milk bath milk. That's... That's about it. ;-)

So all of this sheep information is floating around in my head and the husband is totally supportive, figuring how can it hurt to support such a far-fetched dream, right? And then I did more digging and found a job opening in his field out by my new dream home.

He's in Florida right now, making sure this nor'easter doesn't ruin everyone's mall shopping, so I can't exactly nag him to apply. And, even if he did, we'd have to do some real fancy footwork to figure out a way to actually move. So, it's still just a dream. But it's such a lovely one.

My former self is laughing hysterically.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Need more time!

I haven't posted in about 2 weeks, but I have good reasons.
My pregnant sister stayed with us for about a week before her baby shower (which I wrote a nice long post about before my laptop battery died and I lost most of it), and then I had to spend a week catching up on my t.v. shows. So there.

So let me fill you in. I am going to be an aunt for the first time. House did not have sex with Cuddy. Lindsay and Danny made Mac Lucy's godfather. Mike was not The Biggest Loser. Adrianna and Naveed are not getting married, and her water breaks at the prom. Melinda will marry her husband, the father of her child, but it'll make her look like a skank. "Libby" AND "Jacob" were on CSI. And I'm going to go nuts before Lost comes back.

Also, we're trying to wrap up our school year, plan next year's, get our vegetable garden going so we can harvest before winter comes back, attempt to get ready for a yard sale, do some work on the house, and keep up with dogs who are shedding so much we could drown in the hair.

Other than that, things are incredibly boring around here!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Time flies


C was supposed to be born nearly two weeks before my 30th birthday.


He decided to wait until a few days after my birthday.


He's had his own plans since conception.


He's the fourth baby we thought we might have "one day".

He has brought everyone in this house (minus the pets, maybe) more joy than I ever could have imagined.



None of us can help but smile around him, even on our crummiest days.


Even when he's being naughty.

Because he makes up for it in a big way!


No matter how old he gets,

even if he were to have a dozen younger siblings,

I think he'll always be Our Baby.

No matter what the pictures say.


Happy 2nd birthday, Con Man. Love you to itty bitty pieces!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Not a broken nose

So I text my sisters to tell them I'm in the ER, waiting to see if H has a broken nose. One sister texts back "I'm reporting you to (other sister)." Other sister works for child services. The other sister texts back "What did you do to her?"

My family loves me.

To be honest, H's injury is a direct result of disobeying Mommy. The kids are not supposed to be in the trampoline, because we haven't put the cover back over the springs yet. And the kids are not supposed to be in the trampoline all together EVER. So they were, of course. And H fell and smacked her face on the metal.

She wasn't howling in pain, so I figured she was fine. The husband got home and said her nose was broken. I told him he was nuts.

The next day, the swelling seemed to be going down, and everything looked fine to me.

The following evening, I noticed she had a black eye. And all I could think was "Damn. I really don't want to hear 'I told you so'."

So I finally took H in for x-rays. The desk people said it looked broken. The triage nurse said it was definitely broken. When the doctor came in with the results, SHE said she had figured it was broken, but the x-rays showed no sign of a fracture. She'll just look like a boxer for a few more days.

Between this and my own recent hospital experience(s), I am officially declaring myself Better Than Medical Professionals. This is my superpower.

I'd like to trade that superpower for the weekend for one that will allow me to paint a room in 10 minutes. We're doing a complete overhaul on H&M's bedroom. I hate this kind of thing. But it's way overdue, and I'm crossing my fingers that a new room will motivate them to keep things semi-neat and clean. At least for the first few weeks.

Time for Mike Tyson and I to start scrubbing the "art work" off those walls. Wish me luck!

Friday, April 17, 2009

My husband is the greatest husband in the word but if this crap keeps up I'll let just about anyone play Daddy

Last week, the husband was gone from Sunday to Thursday. This week, he left before dawn on Monday. He was supposed to be back tonight, but his flight was canceled. Maybe we'll see him tomorrow.

I had forgotten what it's like to have him traveling, and this is pretty much the first time I've really been left with four crazy people.

Some people claim they wouldn't be able to spend all day, every day with their kids. I claim the key is running and hiding when Daddy comes home. When Daddy's not home, it sucks!

I can only assume the reverse is the true. I wouldn't really know, since the husband has called his Mommy's whenever I've skipped town.

Two nights ago, I dove into the chocolate. Last night, it was cookies (what was left of the cookie dough). Tonight, I'm really thinking it should be rum. Probably not a good idea when you're alone with 4 crazy children.

I guess I'll save the rum for when he gets home. He can be in charge, even if he does have to call his moooommmy.

Damn. There's a sudden silence. This can't be good. And this is why the rum will have to wait.

Monday, April 13, 2009

You name it

I have had nothing to write about lately. Considering my tendency to write about things that annoy me, this is probably a good thing.

What has been going on? M lost her first tooth. C learned how to escape the crib. H has been giving me fabulous narrations on The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. J has been practicing Beatles songs on the keyboard- a much welcome break from Rush. I hate Rush.

The weather is infuriating. 60 degrees and beautiful one day, a blanket of snow the next. Somehow, my hyacinths have managed to survive thus far.

I have a new obsession with books. H and I took Grandma to her local library's book sale a few weeks ago. I came home with more than 50 books and a belly full of Panera. :)

I ventured back into our local used-book store. I found nothing of interest, and spent $1 on 3 children's books because I couldn't bring myself to walk out empty handed after an hour of browsing.

I finally got my copy of The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had.

These 3 events have given me 2 new goals.

1. I'm going to start reading. Yes, I've always read, but I've never read with any real purpose. For one, I'm not good at purposeful reading. For another, I'm just REALLY not good at purposeful reading. But it's a talent I've been working hard to cultivate in my kids, and I finally realize I should lead by example. We're off to Borders today so I can begin working my way through TWEM's novel list. It's going to be rough, but I'm going to do it!

2. I want to own my own used-book store. This will be a challenge, considering I'm already cringing at the price of buying 31 novels for my reading list (Susan Wise Bauer tells me I'm a grown up now, and I have the right and responsibility to deface my books. The library would disagree, I'm sure. Look out, bank account!)

Ideally, my bookstore will focus on Great Books and history books, and promote homeschooling and self-education, with a wonderful study room set up for my children, who will diligently complete their lessons while I sort and stack.
More realistically, my house will be covered in boxes of various books that are listed online and I will be trekking back and forth to the post office in order to subsidize my own personal book habit and it will be a pain in the butt for everyone.

So I've begun rounding up books, organizing spreadsheets, and taking note of upcoming book sales. It could be ages before I do anything with them, but it certainly isn't the most expensive hobby I've ever had. And it's the first crazy idea I've had in years that the husband has thrown his support behind. In a real way, not that "Sounds nice, dear" way!

Now, if only I could convince him to read Don Quixote with me...

Audience participation time!
If you were to open a bookstore, what would you name it?

In a way, I think Pearls of... Something is an awesome bookstore name. Business-wise, self-deprecation probably isn't the best route.
Dazzle me with your creativity.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Amazon FAIL!

I do not enjoy bitching about Amazon. Their service is so important to my family. Christmas shopping, curriculum purchasing, product reviews, redirecting to other sellers... I don't know what I'd do without Amazon.

They used to be great. I've had school books arrive literally overnight with free super saver shipping. Now that they've introduced their fancy shmancy "prime" membership, it seems non-prime shoppers don't matter.

I made the mistake of ordering a book that takes "2-3 weeks to ship", and combining it with an in-stock book. Since I have no immediate plans for them, I figured the wait wasn't a big deal. Well, on the last day of the shipping window, I got a notice that the first book still wasn't in stock. I was given the option to cancel or keep the order open. No matter which option I chose, the in-stock book was moved to "shipping soon".

Soon? It was supposed to ship by March 31st. Now it's bumped to "April 2-April 4"! I ordered the in-stock book on March 7th!!!

Stupid morons.

And it gets better. My $1.50 number chart arrived. Via UPS, not USPS like 2 others. Get a load of this:

A 22x18x11.5 box this time.
Filled with plastic, so as not to break my poster.
With a very familiar 19x13x4 box inside.
Also filled with plastic.
For my very fragile piece of $1.50 paper.

I need to find a new way to shop!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Two posts in one day

When Lorrie asks to have her stuff stolen, I have to comply. I mean, what if she asks to have her pottery stolen one day, and I haven't been an obedient servant before then? I would feel unworthy of stealing her loot after previously ignoring her.

So I have stolen her meme.


1. Three items you would take to a desert island and why. Don't be a loser and say "a boat" either, ok?
A solar powered laptop. So somebody better come up with one of those, quick.
My Keurig, with a limitless supply of K-cups.
Sunblock. Sometimes you just have to be reasonable.

2. If you could only save three people from zombies who they would be?
The husband. But mostly out of spite. He already has a thing for slutty lady zombies.
Ellen Degeneres. The world just wouldn't be right with Zombie Ellen.
My grandma. She doesn't handle change in routine very well.

And yes, I left off my kids on purpose. None of that Sophie's Choice crap. I'm not picking favorites.


3. If you had to smell like a food, which three foods would you prefer?
Malibu Rum. I don't care that it's not really a food.
Thin Mints.
Strawberries.

4. Three books you wish you'd never read?
No such thing.
Although I *did start to think there was a rabid dog in my closet when I read Cujo. I could have done without that.

5. Three biggest lies your parents told you?
There must have been something, but I'm drawing a blank.

6. Three favorite band names
Wait- the names of my 3 favorite bands, or my favorite names that bands are called? I'm guessing names that bands are called, since that's more amusing.

Barenaked Ladies, Save Ferris, Smashing Pumpkins


7. Three things that make you go "ew"?
Cats drinking out of the toilet bowl.
Toddlers eating out of the garbage can.
The need to feed pets and children.

8. What are your three biggest addictions?
Caffeine
Nicotine
Buying books

9. Chicken and waffles are ever so tasty; three food combos so wrong they're right?
Tuna salad and Tostidos
Liverwurst and provolone on potato rolls
Cheerios and peanut butter

10. Three bloggers you would make out with?
The husband, because it's the law
Lorrie, because she makes cool mugs
The Pioneer Woman. Not because I think she's all that, but because I'd like her to stop by and cook something for me.

I must be color blind

I was all excited when Amazon announced its decision to "go green". I like "green". The husband drives a Prius. I use phosphate-free laundry detergent. I don't go anywhere without reusable grocery bags. My sad looking gardens are always organic (not because they're organic- because I lack a green thumb).

Unfortunately, I think Amazon has failed to read any of the books on conservation that it lists on its site.

I order books pretty often. It's cheaper than library fines, and the nearest book store is a 30 mile drive each way. Plus, Susan Wise Bauer keeps telling me I should write in my books.

Apparently, Amazon's idea of "green" is to take several books and shrink wrap them in plastic.

Sure, one could argue that this is a good idea in case a package is left on someone's doorstep in a downpour, but I'm not buying it. I've yet to meet a mail carrier who doesn't carry plastic bags for bad weather. Growing up, my mailman used to put our packages in our grill. :-) And there are always those handy dandy orange notices.

But the shrink wrap is small (non) peanuts compared to my latest order.

M is still struggling with number and letter reversals, so I ordered cute wall charts to put up. For $1.99 each, it was a great way to earn free shipping on the meat of my order (Laurie Carlson's Green Thumbs: A Kid's Activity Guide to Indoor and Outdoor Gardening, and School Specialty Publishing's The Complete Book of Time and Money). Plus, they were buy 3 get 1 free, so I picked out 4.

First, I get notification that the coins chart will ship separately. My $1.99 purchase ($1.50 after the B3G1 deal) will get its own box, its own shipping fee (on Amazon's tab), and a solo journey to my home.

Then I get notice that the manuscript chart will ship separately.

2 hours later, I get another notice that the months of the year chart will be shipped separately, as well.

And the next day, the 4th goes out the same.

$6, 4 boxes, 4 trips.
Not to mention the plastic-wrapped books still waiting to be shipped!
But it gets better.

I don't have home mail delivery. Our development has group boxes. They also have jumbo boxes, where fairly large packages can be left. Today, I open my mailbox and find a key to one of the big mailboxes. And this is what I find.

A 19x13x14 box...

For a single $1.99 kiddie poster.

But that's not all I found.
It appears that one of the other identically sized posters had to be shipped in a tube that can't fit into the mailbox that fit the 19x13x4 box with plenty of room to spare.

Since there is no "missing you" at a group mailbox, this means I will have to drive 8 miles each way to pick up the damn poster.

But first, I'm waiting to see what comes tomorrow. No sense making 3 trips to the PO if the rest happen to be in ginormous mail tubes!

It's not easy being green.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I'm a Taurus

When someone tells me I can't do something, I say "Says you," and redouble my efforts.

This is probably why I have 4 kids, 2 big dogs, 2 cats, live in the boonies, use cloth diapers, own a Prius, clip coupons, know a ton about the autism spectrum and mummies, sowed my own front lawn, bought a Wet Jet, put my "laundry room" in a closet, and refuse to wear a coat unless it's below 25 degrees (and even then, reluctantly). Don't tell me I can't do something, because I will have to prove you wrong, and it isn't always fun.

What's even worse is when I don't want to do something and people tell me I have to.

My mother used to tell me I had to eat broccoli. I would stuff it under the tablecloth. When that didn't work, I'd swallow it and then throw up. I didn't have to eat broccoli.

I didn't give in when I was 7, so why should I give in at 31?
Because if I don't do this thing, a whole bunch of people are going to hate me.

Which is dumb, because it's really none of a whole bunch of peoples' problem. But they will think that I am a mean, selfish, cold-hearted bitch. And that's pretty big, considering these people have known me forever and haven't completely written me off yet.

So really, it's a matter of deciding whether to suck it up in order to let these people keep pretending I give a hoot, or doing right by myself and my immediate family, and then having everyone else tell me how wrong I am and thinking nasty things about me forever.

There are very few things I have to do. Apparently, one of those things is making this decision.

People suck.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What were you born to do?

My Facebook quiz tells me I was born to teach. When I was little, I did dream of being a teacher. Then I realized I hated school. And, eventually, I became a homeschool parent. So, Facebook was right. I think a lot rested on my answer to the questions about being in control, but whatever.

H was probably not born to go into contract law.
Today, she managed to get her sister to write and sign the following statement:

"I wil nevr liy.
-M"

This, apparently, is supposed to bring peace and harmony to their shared bedroom. I'm betting it's going to lead to a long, drawn out trial, where M will get off on a technicality.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Why I won't be having 16 children

I get a real kick out of my kids. Sometimes I figure if I multiplied the kids, I'd multiply the fun. And then the husband and I convince ourselves to do something fun for the kids, and I'm quickly brought back to reality.

Kid-fun is hard. Especially when you're outnumbered. And you live in the middle of nowhere.

My sister gave us tickets to the Ringling Bros. circus for Christmas. J's been to several circuses, and H has been to one, but was too young to remember. So, not only did it count as a big first for most of the kids, but it was also the first time the husband and I have taken all 4 to any sort of arena activity.

Yesterday's 2-hour show was a 9-hour event for our family. And that's if you don't count getting everyone (and everything) ready to go. 3 baths, 3 showers, 1 french braid, 2 ponytails (on one head), 1 diaper bag with 2 changes of clothes, diapers and wipes, and a lunch/snack bag of sandwiches, granola bars, yogurt drinks, water bottles, sippy cup, bananas and grapes take a little time.

In order to get to the Meadowlands Arena/Brendan Byrne Arena/Continental Airline Arena/Izod Center (located behind Giants Stadium, which is located... behind Giants Stadium) in time for 2:00 bathroom trips and the 3:00 show, we left the house at 11:30 (ish).

The kids thought parking garage was so cool, I wasn't sure the circus could top it. Seriously, they were so excited it was embarrassing. I'm truly considering going out of my way to give them more experience with parking options. Maybe we'll go play with parking meters this week.

After the long drive, I discovered that C has grown way too tall for a front seat diaper change. When I write my parenting book (ha!) I will list that as one of the first signs it's time to start potty training.
There will also be a chapter on searching your children before leaving the house. There is no need for a dozen Littlest Pet Shop Pets at the circus.

Getting into the arena was interesting. 2 parents have 4 hands, so it should be easy. But when you factor in hip shifts, pants hikes, finger repositioning, sweaty palms, and hundreds of other little people milling about, I did find myself repeatedly looking down to make sure I grabbed the correct little person's hand. Forget losing one of my own. All I could think was that I'd be on the news, accused of trying to abduct someone else's fidgety little kid. Or worse, some parent would knowingly exchange a brattier kid for one of mine.

We had 2nd level seats. It never occurred to me to find out if any of my kids might be afraid of heights. I guess it's best that I didn't know I would need to carry my 5yo up and down the stairs in advance. Or that she would need 3 bathroom trips (and H would need 2).

Never mind that C would soak through his jeans within 30 minutes of his awkward diaper change.

Watching the kids watching the show was awesome. C loved the "Dumbos" and the clowns jumping through "kuckles, kares and kangles" (circles, squares and triangles). M now wants to ride elephants for a living and H may be headed for clown college. J loved the chance to clap in time with thousands of other people. He hasn't been able to pick a favorite part yet.

Demanding courteous behavior from children while everyone around them is being rude is exhausting. The fact that the grown woman behind you keeps putting her feet on the top of your seat does not make it okay for you keep poking the woman in front of you with the tip of your wizard hat. The fact that there's a 4yo climbing his large mother, screaming in your mother's ear does not make it okay to stare and loudly ask "What's the matter with him?"

I'm beginning to understand why so many people think I'm a hard ass. They don't believe in respecting other people (or at least pretending to respect other people, which is actually enough for me.)

Also, it is not okay to leave your cotton candy bag, empty cups, or popcorn box on the floor, no matter how many other people do. Just because we spent a good chunk of your college savings on circus food does not mean we purchased the right to be slobs.

Children, this does not mean that Mommy was a bad person when she dumped the leftover sno cones in the grass on the way to the car. Ice melts and colored high-fructose corn syrup can't do any damage to the dead bird I did a great job of keeping you from seeing even after you noticed all of the loose feathers lying around. On the other hand, it could have been a hazard to your health if it had melted into my minivan seats.

All of Ringling Bros. souvenirs (and food) are outrageously priced. That said, I would have paid a pretty penny for one of those whips that the tiger trainer had, just to assist in herding my cats to the car. 2 parents leaving the circus with 4 children no longer have 4 free hands! I'm sure I looked like Mother of the Year, literally using my feet on the behinds of my highly distracted brood in order to keep them in relatively close proximity to each other. I swear, I wasn't kicking them so much as guiding them, but still.

Oh, and for all you people who think going out with a cloth diapered child must be such a pita- at least I'm never tempted to leave a dirty diaper under my car in a parking garage. Talk about gross! Do people not realize they don't just magically disappear under there?

Once everyone was buckled in the car, the husband and I looked at each other and laughed. Like always, we somehow managed to survive taking the kids outside of our little bubble. Little did we know we'd have to stop twice on the way home for even more bathroom breaks, or that we'd work so hard to cool drive-thru food for C, only to have him stuff it all in his carseat, or that H would laugh uncontrollably for most of the ride, or that we'd make the stupid decision to let the children eat sushi in the back seat so I will be left forever sniffing the car for any signs of rotting fish. But we did survive.

And I bet we could do it with 16 children. But I would never want to.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The US Army will protect us from zombies

The husband and I are in our early 30's.

Some of our peers were probably out drinking in dive bars last night.
Some surely spent their evening hob knobbing with CEOs and politicians.

The husband was busy playing with zombies at the Best Buy in Stroudsburg.

After 9 years together, I think I'm finally realizing that we will never be a "normal" family.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Differences between children

Somehow, I managed to get C down for a nap with very little struggle today. It helped that the big kids were outside, pretending to do some spring clean up.

My children are, of course, all exceptional. But it never stops surprising me how different they are from one another.

J (10) and M (5) walk in and notice that C's stuffed Spongebob is lying on the floor.
J- "Aw, looks like Bob didn't make it down for a nap."
M- "Nobody likes a cranky sponge."

H (6) walks in a moment later and exclaims "Hey look! Spongebob passed out on the floor!"

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Progress

Pronunciation:
\ˈprä-grəs, -ˌgres, US also & British usually ˈprō-ˌgres\
Function:
noun
Etymology:
Middle English, from Anglo-French progrés, from Latin progressus advance, from progredi to go forth, from pro- forward + gradi to go — more at pro-, grade
Date:
15th century
1 a (1): a royal journey marked by pomp and pageant (2): a state procession b: a tour or circuit made by an official (as a judge) c: an expedition, journey, or march through a region2: a forward or onward movement (as to an objective or to a goal) : advance3: gradual betterment ; especially : the progressive development of humankind
in progress
: going on : occurring

Leave it to Merriam-Webster Online to find a way to describe this
as progress.