Wednesday, August 04, 2010

On Educating 6-Year-Olds And The Challenge Of 1st Grade

6-year-old boy to an adult: "Where did the ark land?"

Adult: "Ummmmm...." *racking brain feriously trying not to look stupid trying to help young child discover the answers to life's deep secrets*

Boy: "Where is the ark?"

Adult: "Well, um... ahem... why do you want to know?" (there, the balls in his court. The most clever design of human nature is to retaliate a hard question with an even harder question.)

Boy: "Because I want to go there when I grow up."

Adult: "Oh! Why do you want to go there?" (maybe he has an answer to why he wants to know where it is but as to the WHY he wants to actually go there, well, this'll make him think.)

Boy: "So that I can do what God tells me if there's a flood again."

Adult makes mental note to research the flood, ark location and how to teach child that the earth will never flood again... a reality said child has yet to grasp everytime he hears the story of Noah's Ark.

I'm almost positive this topic isn't included in 1st grade curriculum so why is my "First Grader" exploring these questions? Oh yeah, that's the nice thing about homeschooling; you can learn about anything you want even before you learn phonics. I get it now.

Adult: *goes to to obtain necessary information in order to educate young child on the dynamics of Noah's ark* (actually, I went to this site instead since it's my favorite search engine.)

Later that day, the boy began to inform the adult and anyone and everyone who would listen HOW he was going to search for and retrieve Noah's ark.

He figured he could just go to wherever the ark was, look at it and bring it back. On a rope of course. But when I explained that the place where the ark is, the people there are very protective of their country and their government would put him in jail, he realized he had a challenge.

So he asked me what I thought he could do.

I told him he could fly to a country by the country where the ark is. And then when it's dark, either crawl over the boarder into the ark's country, or maybe ride a camel.

Hearing he'd be put in jail if he was caught, he decided to bring an American policeman along. Of course, policemen always are the best way to handle emergency situations. Even on the other side of the world. And if one policeman wasn't enough, he decided he'd just bring them all.

Understanding that especially Americans aren't welcomed in Arabic places, he thought he could disguise himself and speak Spanish.

He had some hard questions. "So the ark landed where the people are still very wicked?" was one of them.

If the flood was to cleanse the earth from sin, it seems strange that the people around the ark were STILL wicked. As if one flood wasn't enough, right? (obviously, he's been listening to his Bible stories.)

And he had one more question.... "Why couldn't the ark just land here?" (like, what a waste-of-an-ark that it had to land around "wicked people.")

So he began thinking up plans...

He could dig a hole underground and literally "go under cover."

He could fly in a rocket that didn't go into space.

He could go in a jet and go into space, hang a rope down over "that world" and catch Noah's ark. And of course, bring it home. And then he could set it up in America so other people could see it and he'd start building a whole bunch of arks for people to see.

He could just fly in a jet and not put English words on the outside of the aircraft. Spanish would work, he explained.

He wouldn't let the "wicked people" see his passport.

He wouldn't speak English so they wouldn't think he was American. "I'd have to learn a lot a lot a lot of Spanish though."

And finally he decided he'd just build an ark by himself. But when I told him it wouldn't be Noah's ark but rather Landon's ark, he didn't like that idea.

"So it wouldn't be Noah's ark?" he asked. "Nope," I told him.

It's just not the authentic thing if it's not THE Noah's Ark. So he went back to figuring out how to get Noah's actual Ark. And knowing him, he'll stew over this for weeks and months until he either comes up with a plan or rocket ship or something or moves on to something more challenging. Like world peace.

After having this conversation, I can imagine what's in our school curriculum this year. And here I thought First Grade was going to be, you know, elementary. And I thought the most difficult thing I'd have to teach him this year, was how to read. Boy, was I wrong.

Not wanting to be outdone by his big brother (after overhearing every word about this whole Noah's Ark Plan), Alex declared randomly, "I need to go into the cont'wee and fwy my space wocket some time."

It's so fun not having normal kids..

Monday, August 02, 2010

A Day In My Life

So there was this time I had a son. Actually, I had two of them. And as I remember now, I had a daughter too. They were a lively bunch... always living life to the fullest and making the most of every situation. Now that I think about it, they were great motivators in inspiring a "Live To The Hilt" mentality in life. They really should write a book someday. Or at least start a website where they can share all their experiences, concepts and deep thoughts.

(In this fast-food-couch-potato-culture we live in, I'm sure it be a big hit.)

Anyway, one day in particular, I woke up one morning to lemon juice spilled all over the kitchen floor. And two small children busily wiping it up with sticky, sopping wet towels. It was a sticky situation. Trying to embrace their vibrant outlook on life, I utilized the situation and actually mopped my kitchen floor that day. It worked out great.

And then later that day, their industrious and ever entrepreneur brother (who was also my son, of course), took on the task of scraping the chipping Robin's Egg Blue paint off our picnic table. This was a task I had put off for several months using the excuse I didn't have the right "tools" to do the job with.

But as I observed this son of mine who barely stood past my knee, it impressed me to see his "think-out-of-the-box" mannerisms as I watched him work. Instead of using a paint scraper and a toxic paint-stripping chemical, he dug into the fading wood with a wired dog brush and dye-free, Green Works Natural Surface cleaner. His chubby little arm boasted a growing bi-cep: proof he was putting a good amount of elbow grease into this neglected project.

Not wanting to be out-done by her career oriented younger brother who seemed to already have a degree in Environmentally Friendly Picnic Table Maintenance, the sister of that boy took on a Photography Photo Challenge and created interesting snapshots of household items. Using her hand to shield light in such a way, she tipped and angled the camera in front of all kinds of rare specimens. Like the dolphin bath toy. And her ink-stained purse. And the lamp she had broken during a very fast expedition on her feet through the living room one day.

As the day progressed, so did my children's pursuits in life. During an artistic plunge in the Lego bin, they commenced to having an Apologetic and Debate class. Two of the alpha male children (which would actually be both of my sons), discussed in depth over whether their maternal aunt was both of theirs or just one of theirs. "She's MY aunt," could be heard from one knowledgeable son and then "No, she's MY aunt," was heard from the other equally as smart son. They seemed to finally agree-to-disagree since they both had such fundamentally sound view points. And of course, they were BOTH equally right.

When lunch time rolled around on this particular day, the First Born Son had an idea for lunch. Instead of him just making lunch meat sandwiches, we would both take turns putting ingredients on the bread. He had a regular system designed in his educated head and I believe that some day he just might run his own growing business making gourmet sandwiches in a factory line. Oh wait; I guess Subway already does that. Well, maybe his specialty can be Lots Of Extra Mustard That Oozes Sloppily Down Your Hands And On Your Shirt since that seems to be a popular hit as seen in our laundry pile on the personally created sandwiches this son of mine made.

And so the day continued, one adventure after another.

The end.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cherishing the Chaos

For some reason, I always had this lofty idea that being a mom meant reading good quality books to your kids, tucking them in at night with heirloom quilts and admiring their cherubic faces as they slept on soft, fluffy pillows covered in happy colored pillow cases.

What I didn't know was that good quality books quickly turn into well used and over-read-dog-eared-paged stacks of paper that used to be bound in those novel things call "books."

And as for tucking the said kids at night, using heirloom quilts on beds that tend to be frequently washed, is a recipe for extinguishing all heirloom quilts from our generation. Besides, whatever type of blanket or covering you use to tuck your kids in at night with, that article of bed clothing soon takes on an heirloom look with all the washings and forts and tents and tug-a-war games that it ends up being used for.

I never realized how drab looking the brightly colored pillow cases get with many washings. Or the bloody-nose stains that are sure to happen. Or how long it takes for their faces to become cherubic looking after they finally lay their sweet heads on the fluffy pillows. I didn't realize that drinks and bathroom runs and "Mom! I'm scared" and "DAAAAAADDDDDYYYYY! There's a lion in my room" sobs that would trail out the dimly lit bedroom doors long after bedtime. Oh, and the spiders that always appear right at bedtime, right along with those lions.

But the smiles these kids greet you with just after the rising of the sun the next morning, now THAT'S what motherhood is all about. And the hugs and the snuggles. And the "Mom, I wuv you so much!" are the words that put perspective on each trying circumstance that may happen between morning and bedtime.

And someday, I just know, our bookshelves will be lined with pleasantly bound books. And brightly colored pillowcases will grace the heirloom quilted beds. And I'll go to bed at night and my house will be quiet and the chatter and cries from those toy-strewn bedrooms will be silent. No spiders or lions will plague my quiet evening. And I'll be able to relax, put my feet up and not have to endure the endless era of bedtime that used to happen every night.

Then the next morning, I will greet the day alone. Without the heralding laughter of kids and toys and noise and breakfast cereal strewn all over the dining room table.

And I'd give anything to hear the "Mom, I wuv you so much!" tokens of bliss that used to fill my days. Yes, I'd even give up my neatly kept, heirloom-quilted-bedrooms of silence for just one more disruptive and chaotic evening.

Because motherhood ends way too fast.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Finding "The Good Part" In This Pregnancy Sickness

I feel crabby today. And that's the honest truth.

This all day sickness is old. Nothing tastes good. Everything upsets my stomach. When people post statuses about food (specifically meat) on Facebook, I feel like deleting my account and joining a vegetarian message board where I can hopefully find a safe network of friends.

I hate meat. So if you write a status about meat or post a picture with meat in it. Or even THINK about meat while you're on Facebook, I can sense it. And it makes me do everything in my power to not puke.

Oh and garlic and onions too. They make me so sick.

Today I had an insatiable craving for Triscuit crackers. And my kind husband went to the store to get me some. The only thing wrong that the dear man did, was bring back Roasted Garlic Triscuit crackers instead of plain ones.

He was as shocked as I was that he made that mistake... the poor guy.

To make matters worse, I found out they were Roasted Garlic after Alex ripped the box open and then asked for help to get the bag inside open. It was at that fatal moment that I picked up a savory cracker, put it on my nauseated tongue and crunched the Garlic flavor right out of the cracker.

I no longer crave Triscuits, in case you're wondering.

My belly feels flatter lately too. I easily forget I'm actually pregnant and not suffering from an eternal case of the flu. So I need things to keep perspective. And as is my naturally productive nature (haha!) I took matters into my own hands and decided to be proactive in my attitude...

Here are some things I did today:

Today my sister had an ultrasound of her 20 week baby. And the way she described the activity and movements of her precious baby that they were able to watch on the screen, made me realize that in just 9 weeks, I'll be there too. I have a healthy, active baby bouncing inside my numb uterus, right now as we speak.

I found a website that had a detailed description of what my 11 week baby is doing. The main thing it's improving on right now is it's brain development. Specifically in the nerve cells area. It's making 250,000 new nerve cells every minute. It's no wonder I'm tired and sick and lethargic and forget my train of thought all the time. I'm being more productive in my stationary, lazy position than probably everyone on my block put together.

I watched a short video clip online of a rambunctious 11 week old baby boy. And when I realized I have one of those in me (okay, it may not be a boy... but same idea as far as age of baby, etc), I fell in love all over again with my baby.

And then last but not least, I'm reminded frequently of the mothers around me who have empty arms. Mothers who are supposed to be pregnant right now but no longer are, due to miscarriage. The women around me who want to be mothers but aren't because they can't get pregnant. And I'm sharply reminded of the fact that the precious cargo I carry, is a special blessing that not everyone is able to possess. Who cares if I feel like puking! I have a healthy baby growing bigger everyday inside my nauseated-not-poking-out-that-much-belly.

And that's really all that matters. I'm pregnant. And healthy. And if I feel like puking, well, it's for a very good reason.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

On Pregnancy, Perspective and Plans

11 weeks pregnant and counting. It's been a great ride so far, but quite unpredictable. I have a long mental list of things I want to do, complete, get done, not do, quit doing and stop.

The one thing I'd really like to stop doing is laying on the couch. But no matter how hard I try, I just can't seem to beat the addiction. The exhaustion and constant upset stomach keep me stuck to that charming couch.

Basically, each day is a work in progress: Eat. Don't gag. Drink water. Eat again. Repeat. With an over active gag reflux, I tend to quickly un-do all my good even if I feel great. A simple teeth brushing at the end of a really good day, can turn sour, no pun intended.

So, I try to avoid things like too much yogurt on my spoon -- it makes me gag. Or, don't smell things that smell bad. Don't THINK of things that smell bad. Don't LOOK at things that might smell bad. Don't cough a tickle out of my throat. And don't brush my teeth. I'm learning the hard way what to do what not to do. And how many things in life cause gagging.

And I travel on a regular basis... or so it feels. But, tonight brings the closure to our month of travel and I'm home to stay for at least 2 months. Traveling wrecks havoc on an upset stomach but thankfully, the Lord gave me strength and grace to not puke this whole last weekend we were gone! Granted, I got sick and laid on couches and slept in the van while everyone else partied, but hey, I didn't puke. It's funny how quickly your idea of success is altered during life changing times... like pregnancy.

I say all this as a way of recording the turn of events with this pregnancy. With my other babies, I tended to do better at recording my feelings and thoughts but with this one, I'm too distracted.

I've been making a mental list of all the things I want to do as soon as I feel better. For the last month, I've had my sister living here as a nanny to our kiddos, and boy was that great help! I could rest and relax as much as I needed to and I never had to cook. Now that she's gone, it's back to the grind for me.

Laying around and not being able to do much has given me a lot of thinking time. And I've realized how much petty things are important to me. Yes, you read that right. I want to learn to focus on the little moments in life that become life long memories. I want to learn how to make the most out of an ordinary day.

This last month held 2 birthdays in our little family as well as Father's Day. I did nothing special for my man and feel just terrible for that. He didn't comment or put any emphasis on the fact that I acted like his birthday never happened -- he's too nice to complain. But as soon as I'm back up to my normal state of well being, I plan to make a week of surprises for him. Who says you can't celebrate some body's birthday a month later?! I also plan to work on activities with the kids both here at home and away from home. I just feel like their young little lives are getting older and bigger everyday. It's NOW that we can do things they'll look back on and say, "When I was little..."

Some things I want to try my hand at in the next few months (after I get off the couch for good) include but are not limited to:

Finish Potty Training Of The Youngest Child
Teach My Ambitious Son To Read
Try My Hand At French Cooking (I made the mistake of watching Julie and Julia one day)
Get Rid Of Half Our Stuff (at least)
Follow A Daily Schedule
Plan Regular Activities With The Kids
Organize Sewing Stuff (I have 2 dresses to sew for an upcoming wedding)

But as for now, I'm just gonna concentrate on drinking water, eating food, mothering my kids, being a good wife and not gagging. And if I can pull all 5 things off in one day, I'll feel successful and productive.

And while I lay on the couch and dream of sunnier days when I'll have the energy to match my plans, a precious little life grows bigger everyday inside my womb. I'd have to admit that alone makes me successful. And productive.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pregnancy Poem

Here I sit alone,
Unheard as I grumble and groan
Retching desires inside my belly
Jiggling like liquidated jelly

The only companion near
Is a little thing so precious and dear
Only a pencil’s lead width wide
Safely in my bosom to hide

Oh dear, how can it truly be
This little thing so tender to me
Can’t even move or try to kick
Yet makes me feel so gross and sick

They say “this too will pass”
But time sure isn’t going fast
Each day anew confirms my fears:
Another day of morning sick years

I want to eat but it can’t be so
For food to me is a sickening foe
The smell of things within my nose
Torments me even when I doze

My fate shall not end in bliss
For even my hubby’s sweetest kiss
Nauseates my starving soul
Makes me dash to the porcelain bowl

I cannot smell or eat or drink
Or wash dishes in the sink
My little kids and darling man
Are tolerating me as best they can

Alas, all this woe will end
And soon my road will take a bend
To sunnier skies and banquets galore
Eating at last will be no chore!

But until my fate ends one day
I must remember to keep at bay
The feelings of pity that keep me low
And make my life seem full of woe

For really the truth must be told:
This sickness insures a definite hold
Of my little one to the vast warm womb
And shields against miscarriage doom

So, I must, I will, I have to get glad!
This sickening belly should not be sad
For soon the end will come with labor pains
And these early days will feel like summer rains!

cjn 8-15-04 7wks. pregnant

This was composed during my 7th week of pregnancy with Janae. I originally posted this on 11-03-06 during my 7th week of pregnancy with Alex. And to keep with that tradition, I'm posting it again during my 7th week of pregnancy with Baby #4. And not just for tradition's sake either. :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Tale Of The Farm Fresh Egg

Today was one of those blog worthy days. And by that I mean it was such a full, fun funny and crazy day that I couldn't even take notes, let alone sit down and blog.

In a nut shell:

The bathroom door got locked with no one inside (not a pleasant thing when you have to go to the bathroom but can't since the door's locked...)

One of our house phones was found outside with a 2-year-old who was apparently calling his therapist enjoying free phone time before he got caught.

A large amount of tinted, scented lip gloss was used as a complete make up -- including cleverly shaped eye brows and eye liner.

2-yr-old would not sleep for his nap.

And I'm not even mentioning what happened yesterday because all I can remember is setting my phone down on a window sill but finding a thick layer of chopped up chap stick instead. And I vaguely have a memory of the mud tracked all over the house because 2 small children went out their bedroom window, walked around in the rain and then came back in. Nor am I remembering how the 2-yr-old unwrapped a package of frozen steaks and set them on the stove at supper time. And the stale, dried jalapeno sandwich I found sitting in the living room next to my antique books also fails my memory.

But today is fresh in my memory. A little too "fresh" actually.

I looked outside just after lunch and spied two young children smearing yellowish-snot-type "stuff" all over the swing set platform.

Resting in a bitter, murderous heap lay a broken egg shell.

Do you know how much TWO small children can do with the contents of ONE egg?

I had no idea the volume that's held in ONE egg. Until today. I will never underestimate the power of a raw egg. Again. Ever. Nor my children's abilities to manifest amazing handiwork with said raw egg.

They got it all over the 3'x4' play set platform.

They got it all over their hands.

They got it up and down the frame of the swing set.

They got it all over the dog's head.

They generously lathered it into their hands.

They got it all over the ground.

And they got it to evenly overflow their palms and fingers and then they raved about how soft their skin felt.

Meanwhile, the dog was ravenously licking the egg as fast as she could as it trailed slowly down from the 4' high platform. Egg snot was literally pouring all over the place out there as it pooled through the cracks in the play set platform.

And it was one egg. ONE.

There was so much of that stuff out there, I finally called out and said, "Hey kids, how many eggs do you have out there anyway?"

"Just one, Mom," they called back from their Omega-fatty-acids-complete-with-high-protein-packed-in-a-fresh-brown-shell play.

My greatest disappointment but yet redeeming factor was that it was a farm fresh egg. You see, I pay for farm fresh eggs because I love eating farm fresh eggs so was disappointed we lost one whole egg to complete experimentation destruction. Yet at the same time, I wasn't worried about salmonella poisoning or other type of bacteria developing on my children's fragile bodies because the egg was farm fresh.

As I was getting a jacket out of my closet a little later today, I noticed crushed, brown egg shells on the carpet by the closet. The closet that is far from the play set where the broken egg play took place. The closet surrounded by carpet. The closet you have to go out of your way just to get to. It too had egg remains by it.

And it reminded me once again to never underestimate the power of a farm fresh egg.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!!!

So there was this day I woke up and suddenly became a mom. Diapers and laundry and sleepless nights hit me with a fury and I wondered what in the world had happened to cause the earth to quit turning on it's axle. Time didn't necessarily stand still. Rather, time ran on and on into itself and never separated itself with proper punctuation. (Such as rest, sleep, sanity, etc.)

Rather than sitting there in shocked disbelief at the wild fury that clung to my life, I flung myself into the whirling merry-go-round of motherhood and hung on for dear life. Diapers and laundry and sleepless nights all flew around my head in a merry little circle of chaos.

And then it happened. The merry-go-round slowed to a nostalgic carousal trot. A sing-songy tuned played pleasantly in the back of my existence. And I loved and adored and cherished this whole thing called motherhood. Simultaneously, suddenly I was struck with a chance to breath, think, rest, enjoy my life, etc... and etc. My "babies" became toddlers and soon and my toddlers became kids.

And you know what happened next?

I began to wish for the diapers. And that laundry. And those sleepless nights.

What is it about babies that just make us WANT them?

We're looking forward to our new surprise expected to arrive the beginning of January... smack dab in the middle of Cabin Fever Season. (I think I found my own personal cure for that disease... a BABY!)

And we're tickled pink. (or is it blue?)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Why My Life and Blog Don't Seem To Conveniently Mix Anymore

It is precisely 6:20pm and instead of roasting the pan of taters-n-carrots on the grill like I normally would for our Steak and Spuds supper, I'm baking them in the oven so as to provide undivided attention.

You see, if I turn the grill on, stick the food in and then walk away, I'm liable to start the deck on fire. Again. So, I'll just utilize the oven (that had it's front busted out last May when a large, heavy canister fell from the ceiling, bounced on the floor and ricocheted off the front of the stove which resulted in a generous shower of tiny glass shards) and stay inside so as to give undivided attention.

A tidy line of weeds grows steadily around the landscape blocks in the front yard. The yard I just mowed for the first time this year. But I shall refrain from pulling them (and absorbing the fading VitD3/sunlight) so as to provide undivided attention.

A busy 3-year-old-wanna-be (he's convinced every day that it's his birthday) is entertaining the dog. But I shall neglect the urge to check on him so as to give undivided attention. (just kidding)

Earlier today, I was impressed with all the antics my kids pulled. They provided with a lot of impressive tales... tales that I shall hope I never forget but probably will since I can hardly take one little clever action in before the next little clever action starts. And pretty soon in all the craziness and hubbub that is my life, I just think that my kids will be little and crazy forever and I'll have the rest of my life to write this stuff down for blackmail material. But I know that's not true. (at least for the "little" part.... the crazy part will probably only get worse.)

As for today, they took both of my brooms apart and combined the broom handles with a paint roller. Then they went around the house committing nameless acts of unmentionable things to the house and surrounding countryside.

Then they pulled all their camp chairs out and did child-like things with them. Like clutter the house with their intrusive shapes. (I'm referring to the chairs' shapes; not the kids' shapes.)

They also committed unbelievable and terrorist acts to our tiny little garden that's growing peacefully and beautifully in the jiffy pots in our only south facing window. The acts consisted of peony scented linen spray. I couldn't figure out why the house smelled so good and why the tomato plants took on a heavenly fragrance. Ignorance really is bliss, you know.

As the day continued, so did my kids. I overheard Landon acting as a football coach to his sister and hollering at her to do all kinds of things with the football. Only, he didn't call her Janae; he called her Jason.

In the end, I found a baby snake in a 5 gallon bucket in the front yard (the snake I had so kindly caught for the kids to play with while I mowed the yard) and I also found brutally beaten tulips laying in a conspicuous area. (I hope the neighbors won't mind.)

Although today feels unique and original, it really is no match for yesterday. My 5-year-old-daughter (that shall remain nameless) informed me that if I didn't get her coffee at the coffee shop drive through, she would just find another mom who would give her coffee.

Said daughter also managed to return my missed calls on my cell phone, unbeknownst to me.

My 6-year-old has decided it's time for our family to move. He's avidly searching for a new home and commenced doing so yesterday while running errands with his parents.

The wanna-be-3-year-old was certain there were monsters involved with Curious George and informed the nice ladies at the check out of his latest discovery. At the same store, he also attempted to try on some snazzy lady's high heeled sandals and was disappointed when I wouldn't let him.

As each day closes with a blur, I like to think that it was an "overly special" day. But then when I look at the week in retrospect, I'm vividly reminded that when you have a 2-year-old kid who innocently manages to snatch police officers off the street in order to carry on a deep conversation with the uniformed officer, you really shouldn't be surprised by anything anymore.

Like when all the kids disappear because they decided to randomly visit the neighbors just to see what the inside of their house looks like. Or pluck hair out of the guinea pig for no other reason than to hear the creature whistle.

With kids like mine, I think you may understand why and how has not had my undivided attention very well lately. But without such creativeness blooming in my little world, I would never have anything to blog about. Ever.

And since the 3-year-old-wanna-be just disappeared, I should go investigate and see what I can record for next month's blog. (don't hold your breath...)

Monday, March 22, 2010

A New And Exciting Prospect For All My Readers!

In the spirit of all good things, I'm sharing a profound and amazing deal that I've selfishly absentmindedly been keeping all to myself. It's called: Swagbucks.

I don't just sign up for random web things and I definitely don't promote anything unless I know it to be true or have used it long enough to understand the ropes. Swagbucks is one of those tried-and-true things I've done. And not only am I doing it, but all my friends are too. Well, most of them anyway... obviously, since YOU don't have it, then not all my friends are doing it. Yet. So it comes well recommended by me and most-of-my friends.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Polk-a-dot Painting Project

I love painting. I love polk-a-dots. And I love my kids. Not in that order (most days) but you know what I mean.

So one day I decided to combine all three.

And my kids were thrilled.

We laid newspaper on the floor to make it look like we were taking cautionary preventative measures and actually serious about only getting paint on the walls.

Then we put on paint clothes, selected some brushes and began to splash colorful and bright dots on our family room wall.

Amazingly, the paint only went from their little red cups, to their brushes, to the walls. I was very pleased with their "carefullness" and it made me realize that little projects like this, not only showed me what my kids were capable of being responsible for but also showed my kids what they could be trusted with when they can prove their responsibility.
Everyone had their designated circles. And I had the honors of cleaning up edges and reaching the high polk-a-dots.
The results were better than I expected, which was a good thing since I had my "I'm Blogging This" shirt on. It inspired me to make a blog post out of our project. And even more so since I love our polk-a-dot wall. But, my favorite part about it is that someday when my kids are old and they have kids of their own, they'll be able to say, "When I was a kid, my mom let me paint polk-a-dots on a wall in our house... what was she thinking?!"

It makes me smile every time I walk through our family room.

And not only does it look fun and happy, it was a fun and happy project to do. With my kids.

Yeah, I could've gotten it done twice as fast by myself without their "help." And maybe wouldn't have had to touch up so many spots.

But I wouldn't have the sweet memory of it had I crammed them off to their rooms and told them to not touch mommy's paint.

Polk-a-dots are supposed to be fun, right?! And these definitely were.

When I see the fun polk-a-dots dancing on our family room wall, I don't even think about the fact that I let my kindergartners get in close range to our new couch and brand new carpet with wet, live paint. Instead, the memories of our fun polk-a-dot project, are timeless. And sweet.

That's the way polk-a-dots are supposed to be. And raising kids is supposed to be that way too.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

They're Only Kids Once

Sometimes I look at my kids and wonder.... how did you become mine? Who are you? What will you become someday? Is your childhood going to be one filled with good memories or will it be a passing phrase in time that you were glad to see go?

I wonder: am I cherishing each day? Living it to the fullest? Are my priorities righted? Do I have a vision of the future? Of hope? Of my children's lives?

Often I think about the fact that I wanted to grow up, get married and have kids. I did all that. And now that I'm in the "have kids" era, it's no longer about me. Now my kids have their own goals. Their own lives. Their own thoughts and desires. Their own "when-I-grow-up-I-want..." dreams and plans. This is IT for them. This is the real thing. It's not all about me living the life I always wanted anymore; it's about them being shaped for adulthood.

It's not possible to push a "record" button when we go to the zoo or park or have a birthday party and know that only what's played out during that time will be recorded as a keepsake childhood memory. The "record" button is not optional: it's down all the time. I can't "stop" the tape. The days I'm tired or distracted or preoccupied with my own things, are days their childhood memories are being made.

Each day is another chance for adventure. Another page in their life story. Another captured time in memory that they'll pull their childhood recollections from. What happens TODAY will hopefully cause nostalgia for them in twenty years.

I hope and pray their quickly-fleeting-childhoods will be but a bright spot in their lives, filled with direction, hope, bliss and love that shaped their perspective for the promising future.

Because nothing is quite as good as it was when you were a kid. And I'm making that count, today.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

In Which She Learns Contentment

Yesterday was a blur. A day in which I can barely remember anything.

And what I do remember, is not good.

It started out smartly enough though. The kids had breakfast and more food went into their mouths than on the floor. That's a good start right there. I guess I was fooled into thinking that it was going to be a "good" day as indicated by breakfast's success. How wrong I was.

I was feeling nostalgic as I sipped my chai and had the I-want-to-have-another-baby-now syndrome. Feelings of "why can't I have one NOW?" crowded my thoughts and I felt discontent. Which is not good because from my experience, if a person can't be content with what they HAVE, they'll never be content when they get what they WANT because there's always something else to have. To want. To get. To be. To go after. And the pursuit of contentment is usually the last thing on the list of those kinds of people. Actually, I don't think it's even on their list at all, come to think of it.

So I purposed to work on this lacking attitude in my heart and went on with my day.

As I entertained a phone call from a dear friend who also has small children of her own, I observed out of the corner of my eye a young, wedding-dress-clad (her daily attire of choice) female child flitting quickly to the bathroom with blue hands. Very blue hands. Very blue as in dripping-with-blue hands.

Blue was quickly covering the entire bathroom sink, that's how blue her hands were.

I composed my dignity on the phone and flew on 2 quick-footed-feet to the place where the blue was sure to have come from: the basement.

The Blue Source was no where to be found. And at that point I began to panic and immediately got off the phone. Just then, I found an opened can of Blue Stuff sitting on the the Little Tykes table in Janae's cute little room. Basically, the Blue Stuff was only about twenty-four-inches off of the brand new carpet in Janae's cute room.

And through sovereign and spiritual intervention which I have yet to understand, there was no Blue Stuff dotting or trailing anywhere out of that can of paint; except on the hands of my wedding-dress-clad female child. Who was at that moment getting paint all over the bathroom sink. But the walls, carpet, doors, furniture, siblings, pets, food, shoes, hair, etc., were all Blue Stuff Free.

As I gathered the screwdrivers sitting next to the Blue Stuff that had been used by my clever daughter to pry the lid off the paint can, I quickly put the paint away and scampered back upstairs. In the process of that I spied a piece of glass on the floor that was apparently lonely and waiting for the trash can.

Thinking it to be a wise time to return the call to my dear mother-in-law who had called (as indicated by my caller ID) during the last catastrophe and phone call (it's funny how often catastrophes and phone calls are simultaneously played out), I picked up the phone and dialed the number.

By that point, the bathroom was vacant of the female child and in her place stood a swimming-trunk-clad-male child wearing inter tubes and other fancy swimming paraphernalia. He was just getting in the rapidly filling-with-water tub and looked at me as if I lost my mind when I asked him what he thought he was doing... "Swimming, Mom."

I made a mental note to black-magic-marker "No Swimming Allowed" on the side of the tub but decided it would be futile since the swimming inclined members of our household are yet a little uneducated in the reading department.

Comforting myself that the kid wasn't drowning, wasn't splashing water, wasn't eating soap, wasn't using soap, wasn't wasting soap and wasn't cutting himself with a razor, I ignored the impulse to remove him from the tub. I just did the Bug Eyes Out And Sigh And Say Okay thing.

As I nonchalantly chatted with the grandmother of my adventurous children and listened to her laugh at their antics as I dialogued them through the phone to her, it became too much to stay on the phone and have a swimming child in the bathtub when I observed that my computer had been sabotaged. So I got off the phone and reclaimed rightful ownership of my computer.

But I couldn't reclaim proper function of my computer. Everything was messed up. Caps Lock ON made the letters lowercase and every time I clicked something, a whole new page opened. Hoping my computer-sabotaging child hadn't done merciless and embarrassing things on my Facebook page that had been left open, I was relieved to find that my profile indicated no suspicious activity.

My senses slowly began to feel more sensitive at this point and I could no longer see the value of swimming in the bathtub so I ordered the swimming child out. As those events began to wrap up in the bathroom, I came upon my self-motivated, fully clothed two-year-old who was actively scrubbing the top, front portion of his hair. With shampoo and no water. Unable to rinse him right then, I sent him to the basement to do something like normal kids do. You know, play with toys. How novel would that be? I wondered out loud.

I followed him down later to check on him and found another piece of glass on the floor. I also found a thickly-carpeted-with-legos family room floor. And I also found my cell phone breaking the "Keep Out Of Reach Of Children" rule. I picked it up and checked the call log, making sure none of my children had contacted the police for anything again. Thankfully, the only call they placed was to a Calling Card. At least they hadn't continued on to an international call, I comforted myself with.

I scooped up the Shampooed Head Kid and brought him into the kitchen. I flipped on the water only to send the faucet handle flying. Another indication that our kitchen sink faucet needs to be replaced. NOT fixed: replaced. It's beyond repair; it's been fixed enough times. It needs a complete replacement. (Did you get that yet?)

So since the regular water was inaccessible due to maintenance deficiencies (I didn't marry a plumber), I used the next best option and stuck my child's head under the drinking water faucet which has only one temperature: Refreshingly Cool. He fussed and fumed but I comforted myself with the fact that the next option would've been snow. And the next option after that would've been to just leave the shampoo on his head until his next bath which would probably be who-knows-when. So I was actually being a kind mother and washing the soap out of his hair humanely. Even if the water was cold.

The day continued on in much of the same manner.

3 small children left the house in no coats while wearing their parents' shoes.

Mysterious messes appeared in random places.

My leather shoes were shuffled through mud puddles on trips to the trash can by feet much too small to fit a women's size 8 1/2 shoe.

Mud bricks appeared in neat stacks on the front step outside. (At least they were outside and not inside.)

Streaks of mud and dirt covered both sides of the front door, implying that a mud-covered-child had entered and exited the premises. And probably entered again and was likely roaming free inside the house with mud covered hands.

Legos were generously scattered all over the floor on a regular basis all. day. long.

By nap time, I was so exhausted but had already psyched myself up for a new laundry room so ignored the impulse to snooze while two-thirds of my children contentedly slept in well contained beds.

And by the time the day was done, I had ordered pizza for supper, cleaned the basement, arranged the laundry room and visited a close friend who had just had a baby earlier this week.

As I gazed at the perfect, adorable, sleeping face of the tiny baby girl who fit snugly in my arms, I was half tempted to sneak the baby home in my purse. I had come under the baby spell again and just really wanted another child - especially since my own baby will be THREE in a few months.

Need I remind myself that when my oldest child turned three, I was just weeks away from delivering my third child? Now Alex, my youngest, is that age and... well, it just feels weird.

But, after I got home and happened to spy a spot of Blue Stuff on the bathroom light switch, indicating that my wedding-dress-clad-female-child-with-blue-hands HAD touched something other than just the bathroom sink earlier that day, it triggered something deep inside.

And it reminded me again of my three healthy, adventurous, live-life-to-the-fullest kids. And it made me instinctively sigh with contentment that I have the kids I have and that I only have three of them.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Another Winter Weather Rant

It had been three days since it quit snowing. THREE WHOLE DAYS. The sun had come out and shone brightly on the winter wonderland all around and the wind had calmed down.

But, guess what? There was still snow on the roads.

Like any logical person, I had stayed in out of the weather and waited the snow storm out. I ignored the impulse to get my shopping done. I pushed everything that involved something outside my front door to the very end of the list. Like a good citizen, I stayed in out of the cold. Off the roads. Out of the 40mph wind gusts.

I gave the salt trucks, the snow plows and the snow, plenty of time to get their duties done. I even ordered boots online so I wouldn't have to go out in the bad weather in order to find necessary condiments for the bad weather.

Then, a whole THREE days after the snow quit, I finally peeked out from under the blanket of snow my house was buried in. I dug my van out of a snow drift, brushed off the windshield and then made a wise decision to get to the gas station first off, making sure to fill my gas tank full before embarking on some necessary shopping.

I slipped and slid the whole way there.

I chalked it up to the fact that perhaps I drove on the one and only bad road in town. And that road just happened to lead all the way from my driveway to that gas station.

After filling up on gas, I poked carefully out of the gas station parking lot careening my vehicle gracefully over the packed snow and iced over road. Trying not to be ungrateful for the non-working snow workers, I ignored the fact the road I was driving on was a well traveled high way.
I made my way to the the interstate and found it was clear and dry. Thankful my speedometer could safely match the posted speed limit signs, I assumed the rest of the roads would be safe from then on.

Since I was shopping in our state's capital, I just knew the big city would be clear and clean of snow and ice. I braked carefully, just to be safe, as I veered off the highway and on to the exit ramp. I was surprised snow and ice on that exit matched the small city roads I had just come from but figured that the particular patch of asphalt and concrete I was driving on, had taken a rare but direct hit from The Arctic Blast.

Downtown was even worse. I happened to trigger every red light I came close to and found my anti-lock brakes became quite efficient as I slid to a stop each time. The vehicles next to me became uncomfortably close one too many times as the tires of my vehicle spun out when the lights turned green and I slid to the sides as the tires gained traction.

(repeat above scene several times.)

Suddenly, I was stricken with an island feeling of, oh no! I'm surrounding by a sea of snow and ice and dry land is far, far away! I almost turned back because THREE days after the last of the snow had fallen, the roads were STILL bad. But I braved the treacherous roads as I was determined to make the best of the gas I had just put in my van.

All through the bustling, busy city, I careened and slid and swerved. Trucks, plows and other defenders of snow-stricken drivers were unseen on the roads I traveled. I thought it was funny that posted above one of the main thoroughfares through town, a brightly lit sign flashed an alert,

"Hazardous Winter Roads"

And I wondered if the effort and money and time could be put into telling us all what we already know, then why couldn't the same effort and money and time be put into something we'd also really like to know: CLEAN ROADS.

Weather is a slave to no man and all of humanity has found itself prey to it's vengeance at some point or another. And when it comes to winter, I should really be used to it because I am from the North. I come from The Place where snow and winter and ice are a constant companion that accompany the months of November to April. And it's okay. People's lives don't shut down just because an inch of snow fell during the night. "Don't cha knowah way up Nort der" they don't get a "Winter Weather Advisory" all because 2 inches of snow is predicted.

But, here in the not-quite-south-but-definitely-not-north (aka: Nebraska), I just really don't like winter. Or the roads. Or the snow. Or the ice. When the society in general is not equipped to handle snow, ice and winter, this weather can be hazardous both outside (bad roads) and inside (Cabin Fever.)

Because even when the wind dies down and the Nebraska prairie lies calm and placid, the ice still sticks to the free-ways and one of the main arteries of civilization and industry (aka: Lincoln, NE) still lies dormant under unsalted ice.

Give me Spring. Or give me the North.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Blog In Which She Blogs About Why She Rarely Blogs Anymore

(How's that for a run-on-words-title?)

I've been on a blog strike. I know. It's bad. Don't be fooled by the blogs I posted last week; most of them were drafts that'd been stored up for weeks but never seemed to arrive at a punch line until I stripped my brain down and just focused on getting a blog done for once. Just to prove it, this blog was started over a month ago. Yeah... it's taken that long to get a simple blog post done.

So in a desperate attempt to break out of the "I-can't-think-of-anything-to-blog-about-mode" I decided to just come right out and blog about why I've been in a blogging slump.

I calmly click the little "home" icon on my computer. Up flashes my "home" page. (Weird how that works, huh?)

And then I click "My account" and suddenly my eyes blink onto a bunch of hyperlinked options. I select "Blogger" of all things and merely zoom off to Blog spot. Now that I'm here, what was I supposed to be doing? Oh yeah, blogging.

What a novel thought.

Now for the blog...

Normally people blog about things that are on their mind. You know, weighty matters, light-hearted fun or photo tutorials. Some people even blog about their pets or politics. And their projects. Others blog about their kids and husbands (ahem). Pretty much, if it's on your mind and you've self-assigned yourself the title of "Blogger" you can write about anything you want.


Um, wrong.

Okay, maybe you can write about it but sometimes what's most on my mind, is unspeakable.

(If this isn't making sense, you're welcome to click "Next Blog" at the top of this page or utilize the little red box with the white "x" in it up in the right hand corner. But before you decide, let me tell you that I think this post just might end up being a perfect illustration as to why THIS blogger hasn't been too busy on her blog in the last year. So if you care to know, read on. If not, I completely understand and won't even know that you didn't actually read this whole post.)

Sometimes I visit nice blogs and the blogger seems to have plethora of good experiences, happy days, perfect lives and no tears. They never make mistakes and if they do, they don't cry themselves to sleep over them. Or at least they don't say so on their blog.

I hate those kinds of blogs. They irk me. Irritate me. And make me think that the blogger is either the one and only person with a perfect life who has everything figured out OR they're totally faking it.

I mean seriously... HOW do some of these homeschooling stay-at-home moms do it and get everything done? I'm lucky to get the laundry sorted, let alone create a crafty masterpiece to set on the dining room table, complete with a photo tutorial detailing everything.

And then I realized that I do the very thing I hate seeing in other bloggers. I only let the good things in my life come out on my blog. I only write about what's safe. What's decent. What's funny. And cute. I'm not open about my bad days. Or how hard life has been. Or what I've been learning in the "trials and tribulations" category.

But, now I understand those Always Have Everything Put Together Kind Of People. They may NOT have it all together but because the World Wide Web can be such a heartless place of cruelty and criticism (like I was doing to their perfect blogs), they're limited to only portraying the things in their life that won't be cut apart and criticized.

It reminds me of my days on the farm when I'd watch chickens in their pen. If one chicken had a sore, the other chickens all picked at it until it was a bigger sore. And then finally, the injured chicken would become a victim of what was a little scab at one time. And, because all the other chickens had made the scab become an infected, oozing sore that could possibly monopolize the whole flock because of the bacteria that could freely grow in the infested sore, the injured chicken shriveled to just a little pile of bones and feathers. All because of a little sore.

People on the internet are no different. And when a blogger has a "sore subject" that they could blog about, they're better off hiding it and only showing their good side to the rest of the chickens people on the internet. Because that sore subject could become a big, oozing topic that would leak infection over the entire blog and soon they'd either have to shut their blog down for the sake of saving some of their dignity or avail themselves to even more pecking and picking apart.

So in a nut-shell, I realized that according to my blog, I am also one of the Always Have Everything Put Together Kind Of People. And that makes me feel so accomplished today and that at least I'm doing something right. Ha.

Now to further the topic at hand of what's distracting this once-avid-blogger, I'm just wondering if you've ever had a time in your life when your mind pounded with loud, piercing thoughts? Okay, I guess I can't see a show of hands through my computer screen even if you are raising yours so I'll just branch off here and tell you that I have had a time in my life when my mind pounded with loud, piercing thoughts.

For me, it usually happens before or after something big has taken place or somewhere in the middle. And when this Big Thing has happened or is almost happening or is in the middle of happening, I get the Loud Piercing Thoughts Pounding In My Mind experience when I'm alone.

Me being alone is a rare thing these day but I've pretty much figured out that it happens in two different ways.

Way #1: Driving Alone. Which has honestly been all of maybe three times in recent months.

Way #2: Morning Shower. Which has honestly been a daily routine for, well... a long time.

I guess these two times are pretty much the only two times that reality isn't running to me with bloody mouths, head bumps and small objects up their nose. (By "reality" I mean my kids, in case you couldn't tell.)

I noticed one day as I drove down the road all alone, the thoughts, the heavy heart and the swirling questions floating around my van got to be too much. So I turned on the radio. I don't know what was on... news maybe? And it distracted me from thinking and it all felt quiet again even though the sound of the radio filled my vehicle. It's weird how sometimes your mind all by itself can be louder than anything that comes through your ears.

Sometimes when I do stop and think and allow my mind to digest and develop patterns, solutions and ideas, it all starts to look like one big, jumbled ball of yarn and for some reason, it looks too exhausting to untangle it all. The act of thinking only ends up hurting since the thoughts pound harder and harder until pretty soon I feel like my whole head is filled with a screaming white noise that I can't shut off because my brain just simply isn't wired to STOP thinking.

So then I just want to take the Yarn Ball and throw it out the vehicle window as I drive or wash it down the shower drain if I'm showering. Or simply spend time with my kids or husband or help a friend move. Anything to distract my mind from thinking.

Sometimes I wonder where this complexity of life comes from. What it is that makes me react in a I-wish-I-could-shut-my-brain-off-kind-of-way. But then I realize: it happens when something changes.

Change is the culprit of so many things. Change in a good way; change in a bad way. Happy change. Sad change.

Usually life is filled with a balanced mixture of many things and not one ingredient tends to over-ride the whole picture. But when one ingredient overpowers the other additives to life, pretty soon you feel like Chocolate Chip Cookies that have 10 parts baking soda to 1 part flour and no chocolate chips. Yeah, life can be that unbalanced and complicated sometimes.

And that's the way it's been for this blogger on the other side of your screen.

I've had to learn the hard way what I think. What I believe. And what I know. It's made me stop and think about what matters. What life is all about. What the Bible really says. And what my goals should be.

At the end of it all, I come away with a resolved confidence to find The Truth. To know God's plan. And hear God's heart.

Because the one thing I've learned this past year is that God always answers prayer. Though He's rarely early and never late, He's always on time.

And that's something that never changes.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

On Math and Cabin Fever and Why They Go Together

I finally figured out why God created cold season and winter to happen at the same time: sick kids tend to be less active. Which greatly reduces unnecessary indoor activity when everyone is already cooped up with Cabin Fever because the winter storms outside rage with such a fury, no one can even go out and get their mail for days. Okay, so it's not that bad but it practically could be.

But, when everyone is sick, it doesn't matter that we all have Cabin Fever: we just want to lay around all day anyway. Problem is, we've had a pretty healthy winter this year.

So I got the cold and winter season thing figured out, but now I can't figure out why God didn't make Spring to come say, February 6 instead of March 21. Seriously. WHY does winter get another TWO whole months (or how ever many months there are between February and March) of time in our neighborhood?

To pass time, Landon has come up with a new topic in his conversation. It's called Math. Yeah, you heard that right.

Do I look like a Math geek? I hope not because I'd be a total facade if that were the case.

Math was that one topic in school I got the most trouble over. I even lied over it. Seriously. I don't know why God invented math because the fact is, the invention of math created many more sins for people to commit and fall into. Namely lying. Since math was created, that was the ONE thing I lied about as a child. I was not a lying person even as a little child but when it came to math, it was already so evil anyway that what was a lie or two along with it? Anyway, in case my mom has already forgotten about this particular story, I'll just move on from these vague details and you can pretend I never brought up the math topic. Or how it involved me lying.

Back to Landon and math, every few minutes I hear questions like this....

"How much is sixty-sixty plus one?"

It can be in the middle of supper. Or while we do chores. Or during school. Pretty much, if he's awake, he's asking the answer to another sum.

Sometimes he gets even fancier and will ask, "What's two hundred plus sixty-seven plus ten?"

And then randomly, he'll hold up two fingers on one hand and five fingers on the other hand. A light will go off in his head and he'll day, "TWO plus FIVE is SEVEN?!"

Yeah Landon, that's seven.

Eventually, Alex and Janae joined into it. And I'll hear my 2-year-old come up with a math question. The kid can't even pee in the toilet yet but he'll know his math facts before Winter is up... if Winter ever is up.

Speaking of peeing in the toilet (sorry for being so crude in my language but seriously, we all do it, right? I hope so....), Landon and Janae have taken on a new task. They decided it was time to potty train Alex.

After watching a Potty Training DVD that came in our Huggies box of diapers, they came up with a plan. Randomly, they make Alex sit on the potty chair and he's required to sit there until he produces some evidence that he's being potty trained. They'll both sit on the floor next to Alex and they'll be heard reading books and talking about how Alex should really pee and poop in the potty chair from now on.

When Alex finally squeezes out even the faintness amount of evidence in the chair, Landon and Janae become elated. And then there's a piece of candy for everyone (actually, it's not actually candy but they don't know that) and we all go back to our day.

Several hours later (usually after Alex has had a soiled diaper), The Experts take him back to the bathroom and they repeat the above scene.

They've become so confident in getting him trained that Landon has decided to change Alex's diapers... which I think was influenced when I decided to get tractor-decorated-pull-ups instead of diapers for our soon-to-be-potty-trained boy.

But what really took the cake was when we were packing for our end-of-January-Christmas-trip-to-Wisconsin and Janae informed me of a necessary piece of luggage: The Potty Chair. "The movie said that even when you go on a trip, you hafta take the potty chair," she condescendingly told me.

Winter is doing strange things to my kids. Since when does a 4-yr-old tell their mother what necessary paraphernalia must come along on a trip so the aspiring-to-be-potty-trained 2-yr-old can keep up with his random potty training lessons?

And since when does a 5-yr-old quiz his math-illiterate-mother on math all day long?

I know when: when Cabin Fever strikes and all the kids are healthy. And all they can think about is potty training and math. That's when.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Random Things I Tell My Kids

"Yes, we'll still be your mom and dad when you have kids someday."

"No Alex, you may not curl your hair."

"Watch where you're peeing."

"No, you may not put your finger in my nose."

"No, I don't want you to stand on those books."

"Hey! WHAT are you pounding into the wall?"

"Stop peeling paint off the walls."

"Why do you keep calling your brother 'kid'?"

"Do you plan on tying those ropes around your neck? Because that would not be a good idea."

"Are you TRYING to break that laundry basket or is it just breaking by itself?"

"Um, no... you don't pull him down the steps in that laundry basket."

"Hey, why doesn't the 't' key on the computer work anymore?" (Landon: What's a 't'?)

"Are you TRYING to break that couch?"

"WHY is that leg off the table?" (Landon: I don't know... it just fell off.)

"Stop flipping that table over; it's not supposed to be like that."

"Isn't that like the second time he fell down the stairs in the last ten minutes?" (Landon: No, he fell down twice.)

"Do you guys plan on taking ALL the furniture apart in our house?"

"Get the oranges off the toilet."

"You don't need to eat in the bathroom; that's what the dining room table is for."

"Don't bite that chair."

"WHO broke this?!"

"Just because you can reach something, doesn't mean you can wreck it."

"Are you TRYING to break that window blind?"

"No... STOP cutting the table!"

"Wash your hands with soap AND water!"

"Watch out for that floor: it'll jump up and hit you right in the face."

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Day I Agreed With My Husband 100%

I love my husband. I really, really do. He's the man I always dreamed I'd marry so it's no wonder that when I finally met him, I married him just four months later. What was there to wait for any longer? He was everything I prayed for, dreamed of and wanted. And more.

"And More" is right. Yesterday was one of those "And More" days.

After being out of town for 8 days, our house was narrowed down to just a few items in the fridge. The milk was sour. The eggs were all gone except for one. A few pieces of dry bread sat shriveling up in their bag. And the kids were hungry.

My dear husband, who was in the middle of business catch-up after being out of the office for 8 days and came home to find his office work in as good-of-shape as my refrigerator was in, offered to let me run to the local grocery store while he "watched" the kids.

"Watched" is right. (Emphasis on the quotation marks.)

I was grateful to run by myself and thanked him for "watching" the kids. The errand was done in less than 20 minutes and I was soon home, happily re-stocking our Mother Hubbard kitchen.

As I scurried around rummaging up lunch and getting the kids ready to eat, they kept mentioning "putting food away" and "getting food out" and other words that related to the food topic. Confused by what they meant, I just chalked it up to some imaginary play that they had perhaps participated in while I was gone.

But then Landon handed me a half-chewed-up bag of brown sugar and informed me Alex was eating it but Daddy told him to stop.

"Oh, it's "just" a bag of sugar," I thought... trying not to expect the worst. I had accomplished so much in that 20 minutes and I didn't want to think that those darling kids really could've un-done THAT MUCH stuff, could've they??

And then I went downstairs and found that it was not imaginary play my kids had innocently participated in. This was the real thing.

An impressive pile of food sat on the sewing cabinet in the family room, indicating where the half-chewed bag of brown sugar had come from. Originally, the food had been stored on a shelf right behind Toby's desk so I was amused at how the kids must've pulled this off, considering their dad had been sitting there the whole time.

Of course he could've gone upstairs to the bathroom for a few minutes. Or ran out to the mailbox for a few minutes. Or dug in a desk drawer for a few minutes. Or stared at the wall for a few minutes. Or fallen asleep for a few minutes. Or had an out-of-body experience for a few minutes. Or had a bag pulled over his head for a few minutes. Or.... the possibilities were endless.

Keeping an aroma of calmness and meekness and sobriety Trying to be understanding, I questioned my husband about this dilemma between his business phone calls. The amazing man he is, he maintained a level of confusion and shock at the situation involving the whole kids-got-into-the-food ordeal and then mentioned to the kids that they shouldn't play with food. He then went back to his office work.

As I stood there, trying to mentally picture HOW three kids could haul food right past their daddy and pile it out in the family room which just happened to be a straight shot from where he sat, I couldn't come up with any reasonable reason as to how it happened.

I wandered back out to the family room still shaking my head. Just then, I happened to spy another food item off in Janae's room. It led me to a whole new stash of food that had been piled very generously under Janae's bed. I had no idea what she planned to do with 10# of beans or a 5# bag of flower or a can of spaghetti sauce or a container of dried parsley, just to name a few of the food items I found. And since I never send her to bed hungry, I really couldn't understand WHY the food had a reason to be in HER room and under the BED.

It took me several loads to get the food back to it's shelf in our basement pantry and I tried to visualize how THREE small kids could lug all this past their Daddy and go unsuspected. I mean seriously: how DOES a 50# kid carry 10# bag of beans without being noticed? That would be like me carrying... oh, never mind.

When I asked Toby about it again, he informed me that he does not look at the kids every time they walk past his desk. And I agreed with him. 100%.

A little later, I found another pile of food under Alex's crib. Wondering if I'd ever stop finding stashes of food, it dawned on me that the amount of all the food piled together was equivalent to what I had bought at the store earlier that day.

Our entire "Seasonings and Herbs" section had been re-stocked in the kids' rooms. Several bags of flour had been strewn about. Rice, beans, sugar and glass cans of spaghetti sauce sat in random places. Even a can of peas had been taken along with a tub of lard.

And all while the Man Of My Dreams who has given me three, adorable, sweet, children, calmly sat in the midst of it all like a big oak tree in the summer sun.

As I reorganized the shelves of food and put everything back in it's place, I was strangely impressed with my children's ability to sweep through the pantry like a tornado and spread food all over the basement all while their unsuspecting dad focused on his work and made phone calls and planned work-related schedules AND "watched" kids while all I did was run to the grocery store. It made me wonder what else the four of them could be capable of.

Later, I had to run over to a friend's house. It ended up being a little longer errand this time so with resolved trepidation, I gingerly crept back down stairs after I got home. I came down just in time to find Alex tight-rope-walking down the length of the floor lamp that was soundly laying on the floor... broken in two.

Toby's reason this time? "Even if I was sitting right next to them, they'd still do stuff like that."

And I had to agree with him. 100%.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

On Unplanned Mornings, Unpredictable Kids and How They Go Together

It's one of those days where I actually got a really good night's sleep, woke up refreshed and ready to start my day AND I woke up early. While getting ready to shower, my perfect morning routine was interrupted by the sounds of healthy, energetic children.

"At THIS hour?!" I wailed. Here I thought I'd beat them to the day and actually have my Bible reading done, coffee made, shower over and be fully dressed with breakfast on the table before their smiling faces graced our morning.

But, nope.

As I showered and dressed and did my usual morning bathroom routine, I could hear shouts and wails and rude talking loud activity. All indicating that a nice, quiet time out in the living room was not what I should expect with my Bible reading for this morning.

The noise and chaos liveliness continued as I put on a pot of coffee. And it was then brought to my attention that not only had this rowdy bunch of hoodlums my darling children already eaten breakfast but they had eaten their cereal out of dirty bowls from the half-loaded dishwasher. I didn't even want to think about where those bowls had been before my kids used. You see, we've been hosting our dog during the sub-zero evenings in a tight confinement area in our house and in a desperate-last-minute-attempt to give her water, I was lazily using our cereal bowls. (Mental note: Children and dogs should not share the same dinnerware. Ever.)

Turns out, the whole breakfast mix-up was one of those dad-thought-mom-had-the-kids-and-mom-thought-dad-had-the-kids mornings. So we made up a new house rule on the spot:

"Don't Come Upstairs And Eat Breakfast Without Mom And Dad."

The arguing and bickering energetic talking continued so I sent one child down to get dressed. While that child went conveniently missing from the great upstairs, I happened to find a soggy bowl of half eating cereal in a cupboard door. Of course, the remaining child upstairs assured me that the person that did that was indeed his sister and not him.

Mentally crossing "Breakfast" off my list, I went on to the next thing. The aroma drifted off the pot of coffee brewing in the coffee maker and I thought it would probably be a good morning after all.

Suddenly, one of the already-had-eaten-breakfast-children decided they were tremendously hungry. They wondered why I never fed them supper and why they couldn't have breakfast. Kids have an amazing way of heaping guilt on even the best-intention-driven mother but I didn't entertain it for a second. Assuring them they HAD eaten supper last night and that they HAD already had breakfast for the day (as evident by the bowl of milk in the cupboard), I reminded them of another house rule:

"Once You Get Up From The Table, Your Meal Is Done."

Of course, she was starving and would probably die before lunch time and she never gets food and... etc. But, since she had decided to get her own breakfast and then she had decided to get up from the table, it really wasn't my fault she was "starving."

I poured myself a cup of coffee and found a quiet spot in the living room. Too distracted by children to make a profitable attempt at reading my Bible, I decided to just read the Proverb for the day. That seemed like a good place to sponge my mind off of. I always find the Proverbs to have meaningful yet short lessons to glean from. And then it sticks with me through the day... which is a good thing, of course.

A few verses jumped out at me in the middle of all my jumping up from the chair to rescue children, wipe noses, put CD's in for a ballerina-wanna-be-child, re-fill my coffee, put snow boots on a pajama clad boy who was wearing a leather vest and fireman helmet, settle disputes and end arguments about who should get the blue pieces to the "Trouble" game going on in the living room.

Proverbs 14:22:

"Do not those who plot evil go astray?
But those who plan what is good
find love and faithfulness."

It just seemed like a good verse to apply to my day. The morning was still young, the sun was brightly shining, my day was like a clean slate and there was a list of possibilities over what I could plan to fill my day.

"But those who plan what is good find LOVE and FAITHFULNESS."

It was just what I needed to know how to plan my day. And I was suddenly glad my kids had disrupted my pre-conceived idea over how I had previously wanted to start my day.

And so I march on finding love and faithfulness because I'm reminded of another verse that says something about "choosing that 'Good Part' because it will not be taken away from me."

Saturday, January 09, 2010

In Which I Go on a Selfish Rant About Winter....

So there's this illness going around. And it's quite a doozy. Worse one of the season. If you haven't gotten it yet, by all means, stay away from us.

The disease I speak of is Cabin Fever.

Now, some people think Cabin Fever is a mental illness. Actually, it really can be. People inflicted with this virus have weird tendencies to do random things like go to the Post Office on The Day of the blizzard, stamp all 121 belated Christmas Cards at the Post Office and just feel all happy inside to be around other people with two legs and two arms. (Not that people don't normally come with two legs and two arms; it's just when you sit at home all day for days weeks on end, you begin to wonder if only snow plows and mail carrier vehicles make up for the entire population outside your front door.) It gives one a "community" feel that you don't otherwise get sitting in your house at home alone while the snow and wind blow -40 wind chills across your town.

Other people think Cabin Fever is just a state of the mind. Like one of those "I-choose-to-be-sad-or-happy-today" kinds of illnesses. If that were the case, I would so not have Cabin Fever because the funny thing is, I choose everyday to be happy. But it's just not working.

Today I was talking to my mom on the phone who happened to be traipsing across the northern part of Wisconsin this weekend. You know, that part on our planet where it's always just COLD? Yeah, the snowy north woods. Anyway, the dear woman sympathized with my complaints about having Cabin Fever (like SHE would know; she was out gallavanting about!) but she assured me, "Oh you wouldn't want to be here right now; we had 22 below zero last night and today only got up to 14* above zero!"

I responded, "Well, that sounds great. We had -27 last night and the highest we got today was -2."

"Oh," was all she said.

Yeah, tell me about it.

Thing is, I was born and bred in this kind of weather: my birthday is in July... you do the math. (Oh dear, where did that come from?) So I have no problem dealing with this kind of climate, right?

Anyway, my point is, from October to June in Wisconsin, we just planned on cold weather. We didn't fight it. We didn't hate it. We didn't dread it. It happened every year and we embraced it. With pride. We went sledding, ice skating, had soup suppers, cookie exchanges, more sledding parties and a few more skating parties. The snow, wind and cold never stopped us: we were from the North where winter is fun.

But, in the lovely state of Nebraska where everything is flat and the corn fields spread on forever gusting with 50mph winds, winter is something to be dreaded. There is nothing fun to do here in the winter. Except go to the Post Office and stamp 121 belated Christmas cards during a blizzard.

In Nebraska, often a winter storm comes in this order:










Let me give you a little secret here: Hidden secretly under the layers of drifted snow, a sheet of ice lays ready to slay anyone who dares to trek out in the cold. You can scoop snow and you can haul snow and you can play in snow but WHAT do you do about ice? Nothing. In Nebraska, we wait for sun, not salt.

And usually the sun does come and within a week or so, our roads are clear. And we can do things like go to Walmart and Church and stuff. But not this year. This year, the sun refuses to shine and when it does, it just gleefully tempts us with it rays while the below zero frigid air, fights to keep the snow and ice packed firmly on our landscape.

Since this year's winter storms have come with a heavy does of Cabin Fever ingredients, people just stay home until they become like canned vegetation with a meaningless existence. I seriously HATE winter. I know that sounds cliche' because everyone is saying it right now but for the first time in all of my existence, those words have escaped my mouth.

For the first time I see WHY people go to the southern parts of our hemisphere just to get sun and warm air. I see now why people spend their life savings on vacations to warmer climates. I understand fully why people hate winter. And I'll never wonder again why people don't go to places like Alaska for Christmas vacation. I so get it now.

Bears have it down pat; they sleep the winter away. It's a perfect solution to an otherwise aimless existence as canned vegetation. If you can't beat the cold, sleep. If only my kids would participate more readily....

To top it off, after staring intentely at the four walls around me for the last month, I have this new theory about depression. The sun is loaded with Vitamin D3 and Vitamin D3 has been proven as a great supplement to take for depression. There is no Vitamin D3 to be had in our sub-zero climate right now which explains why Cabin Fever is so depressing. Are you following me? If not, you must not have Cabin Fever.

It's also a proven theory that our bodies do know how to heal themselves; we just have to provide the right balance of nutrition, rest and supplements when necessary. Since people automatically pick sunny, vacation spots, Voil-a! coveting a sunny vacation is actually your body's way of saying, "Help! I'm dying of depression!"

So. If you find yourself craving a sunny beach or a heavenly experience of something warm on your face, book that vacation and get away from here. If your bank account doesn't kill you Cabin Fever will anyway. And personally, I'd rather die happy than die depressed.

Disclaimer: if parts of this post are unintelligable or difficult to comprehend, just be thankful you don't really know what Cabin Fever is.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The Day Mom Took a Nap

I stayed up until after midnight on New Years Eve just to make sure 2009 left. And then the next night, I stayed up again, to make sure 2010 continued on it's merry march away from 2009. Actually, I don't know why I stayed up too late. Looking back, it was a bad action on my part.

So the next day, I got this novel idea to take a nap. You know, that time in the day where you lay down and sleep for a short time.

After reading a manual on how to take a nap deciding to rest while the kids were resting, I tried the nap idea.

Just as I drifted off, a little person came to the side of my bed...


(I just pretended I was sleeping.)


(I realized then that I really was actually sleeping, so I wasn't actually pretending after all.)


(For some reason she didn't care couldn't tell I was actually SLEEPING.)

"Hey, Mom...."

(I then made a mental note to have the "when-people-are-sleeping-you-don't-talk-to-them" talk with my daughter.)

"What do you want Janae?" I finally asked.

"I have to go to the bathroom," she said, as if that was a good enough reason to wake me up.

Wondering if her passport to the bathroom had suddenly expired, or if there was a sign on the bathroom that said, "Do Not Enter Without Written Permission," or maybe she couldn't remember where the one and only bathroom in our house was, I simply told her to "GO" and laid there confused as to why the. one. and. only. time. I. should. try. to. nap, she would have to interrupt my efforts with a request to use the bathroom.

She pranced to the bathroom, slammed the door shut and soundly locked the door. It was pretty much silent in the bathroom except for a few plops and quiet clamoring around.

"Janae," I called from my bed, "What are you doing?"

"Pooping," she assured me as I heard a metal object land on the floor.

"Uh, huh," I mused under my breath but too groggy to connect the dots between a locked bathroom door, the metal-sounding object on the floor, my 4-year-old daughter and the dragging-out-minutes of her time in the bathroom.

Just then, her wonderful father came upstairs. I groggily mumbled the situation to him when he poked his head in our door and was grateful when he took over. She was soundly sent to bed without any bread or butter and told to stay there.

And I went back to sleep.

TWO hours later (yes, you read that right) I woke up. It had been so long since I felt that rested that I had to re-calculate my whereabouts, name, marital status and date of birth. When I fully came to my senses, a pungent odor filled the air and I could hear some very quick footed children flitting swiftly across the house whispering unknown messages to each other while the walls echoed with their vibrant stampede from one end of the house to the other.

I slowly slipped out from under the down-filled weight of blankets and meandered sleepily out to the land of the living. I stopped in the bathroom and surveyed a stray pair of scissors on the bathroom sink. Scissors on the bathroom sink mean 2 things: Some child has freshly cut hair or some child has freshly cut hair.

The nauseating smell of pickled jalapeno peppers trailed around the house. It was evident the snack had been enjoyed in places other than the dining room table, mainly because I could taste the smell everywhere.

Concerned about the scissors and the peppers, I asked what was going on. My 4-year-old daughter excitedly comforted me with these words: "Oh, Landon is babysitting me Mom!"

For some reason, I didn't feel all that comforted.

I happened to pick up the computer just then and began to examine it. I soon found the computer's 'T' key would not work right and wondered why it was suddenly necessary to pound directly and firmly on that key every time I used it. If I didn't, I had to implement the "backspace" key and re-insert the missing "T" and it was getting annoying. "What did my computer ever do to my kids to deserve this?" I wondered inwardly.

As I pondered this new phenomenon and wondered about the scissors on the bathroom sink, my nose trailed down the offending jalapeno peppers. They were sitting in a bowl under the couch.

Of course. If I was a 5-year-old babysitter, I would totally put pickled jalapeno peppers under the couch too. It made perfect sense.

I then began to question about the scissors, making certain to make no mention of hair. Landon assured me he didn't cut Janae's hair. And Janae assured me she really did cut her own hair this time. She strategically pulled out the lock of hair that was missing the better end of it's length and explained why she needed to do that.

As I tried to wrap my head around WHY my daughter needed to cut her hair, I also tried to rationalize WHY I needed to take a nap. Neither seemed to be the lesser of two evils because the fact is, had I not taken a nap, the hair would not have been cut. Suddenly, my much-enjoyed-nap had become a bad experience.

The moral of this story is that, well... um, I guess there is no moral. Just that it's better to be awake and tired than to be sleeping and not tired.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Pressure, Blogging, And How They Work Together

I blog best under pressure. Like when I'm barely sitting up while enduring the throes of morning sickness. Or suffering under the sleepless nights of a colic baby. Or chasing 3 kids, 3yrs and under. And lately, I've not experienced any of the above since I'm not pregnant, I don't have a baby with colic and I don't even own a 3-year-old anymore. Which is a good excuse for why I haven't blogged.

I'll admit that I've been under pressure in the last how-ever-many-months-it's-been-since-I-went-on-a-blogging-hiatus but not the kind of pressure that makes it easier to blog. When your mind is so mumble jumbled with, well... stuff, it's hard to think about life realistically and recognize the bright things in life.

But today, I'm getting ready for company. And my last batch of company just barely left. And I've been sick with the flu. And Toby was on the phone yesterday for FOURTEEN hours straight (9:30 am to 1:30 --- oh wait, that would be SIXTEEN hours straight) trying to fix an important business computer program that refuses to be fixed so finally he had to go to Best Buy and just up and buy another computer (yeah, just throw that on for kicks... it's "only" a computer) and I have piles of laundry, mounds of dust, a disaster zone refrigerator, a vacuum cleaner's paradise-carpeted-house and a 2 year old cleaning the cold wood stove with wet wipes. Not to mention a page worth of "to-do" stuff to-do today.

And I have a lot on my mind. To sum what's-on-my-mind up, 2009 is a GREAT year to have come to an end. It was just a bad year in general. My "New Year's Resolution" (which I'm always very picky about making New Year's Resolutions) is "Survival Was Fine For 2009, To Do Better We CAN In 2010."

Now it's several days later. And I didn't get my post done before the company arrived. But, what I did do was actually accomplish laundry and entered the New Year leaving all the dirty laundry in the old year. I wish I was figuratively speaking but I mean that literally: the clothing, sheets, towels, lines, etc., were all CLEAN before the clock struck midnight.

As for Toby's computer woes, he decided to continue with the tech-support-method of fixing the computer problem instead of spending $,$$$ to replace the whole contraption. He continues to spends hours on the phone and eats supper at his desk. I offered to actually fix the problem for him but when I told him it involved a hatchet, he decided to just put up with the tech-support guy for another few hours.

But, the laundry is still clean, the house is relatively structured and I have some pretty good intentions on re-formatting my life in the wifely/mothering/homeschooling/just-house-keeping-in-general-area of living.

What a great way to start out the year!