Friday, August 31, 2007
And then there's email and the internet. The few errands that I ran yesterday reminded me why I avoid shopping with children in tow. Online I can find most things I need and have them delivered to my door at minimal additional cost. I use online banking to pay bills and see how much is left, as we approach the end of the month, in the "cash" account funded by my tenants. I've stopped getting a newspaper: weather and news are a few clicks away. I get directions to places I want to go, reviews on products I might want to try, alternative opinions on new and interesting topics discussed at an outdoor barbecue, and cut-rate prices, the best I've ever seen, on new or used books.
When we moved here, I guess we've been here about seven weeks, we were forced to put my desk in what should be the dining room, but is so small it won't fit a table that would accommodate more than four people. The living room and dining room are combined. It's a bit tight, but we're managing. It's only ten months, we keep reminding ourselves. And the desk is located well with a good vantage over most of the indoor and outdoor activity. Unfortunately, the cable guys could not, would not run the modem lines into that room. We had permission from housing, but they said they couldn't do it within the scope of what housing deemed acceptable alterations.
No problem, they said. Here's a wireless adaptor that plugs into your USB port. As long as you install it, you can have it for free. Wasn't that nice of them?
I swear this thing had a mind of its own. And it was a twisted, malicious mind that derived pleasure from torturing this already harried woman.
It took us a week, and another visit from a different cable guy, to figure out how to get the thing to work in the first place. Even the cable guy sat and scratched his head for quite a while with a puzzled look on his face. After that, it has performed its job sporadically at best. It would tease me by saying, oh yes, I do see a signal...but it would refuse to connect to it. Or it would connect with limited connectivity, which really meant no connectivity. Or it would connect at a fraction of the available speed rendering its service more frustrating than helpful. And then, perhaps just as you were about to place an order on some books for your husband for his birthday, it would drop the connection. Oops, sorry, it would say, I'm just too tired to go on right now.
Every time we devised a new plan to get the thing to work, we would have a few days of trouble free connections, and then, like a child under a new discipline regimen, it would rebel and the magic tricks we used would suddenly no longer be of any use. Last Sunday, I woke up and tried to check the news and weather as usual with my morning coffee, but the adaptor had flat-lined. All efforts of resuscitation were futile.
Sunday wasn't too bad, but Bill went off to school on Monday leaving me with the rotting corpse. And then I realized how much I use the internet as a linchpin for my sanity. There's a world out there, beyond these sometimes confining walls, and my computer helps me to connect to it.
Don't get me wrong. I don't live in the boonies. I have plenty of very nice neighbors with whom I am friendly. And my normally well-behaved children would love to help me escape our solitary confinement by going and visiting someone. And even without leaving the home, I have lots of people I could call and spend hours venting my frustration over these kids who seem to be taking turns coming up with new and unusual ways to push all my buttons. But I really didn't want that. All I wanted to know was how hot it was going to be that afternoon, did anything in the world blow up, did my husband's birthday presents ship, where should patches be sewn on an adult leader's scout uniform, and what Herculean people was the furniture repair guy going to find who could lay my piano down flat without breaking it or this house.
Without an internet connection, I was frustratingly helpless to do these basic things, and it made me very cranky. I told myself that perhaps I should offer up this suffering for the souls in purgatory, but then another voice would shout that voice down. I shouldn't be suffering, it said. I have an inalienable right to a functioning internet connection. And, actually, if I could have patiently suffered, I likely would not have been as motivated to fix the problem. I did try to not be grumpy with my family...I tried. But true calm did not descend until I had come up with a reasonable solution.
I considered putting my desk in the already crowded living room where the cable modem is. It's only ten months, I reminded myself. But finally, I called a local computer shop and ordered a 46' long ethernet cable which was surprisingly inexpensive. They promised it for Monday night, but didn't have it ready, and I wasn't able to get it until yesterday. But it was okay. I knew my problem would be fixed, and I could now offer up this waiting time. Naturally, sensing it was headed for the garbage pail, the wireless adaptor began to function again, in it's taunting way, and I had a tenuous connection from Tuesday night through last night. Before dinner, my wonderful husband ran the newly purchased ethernet cable under the three rugs between the modem and the CPU - not a small feat considering the furniture that was on top of the rugs - and the wireless adaptor sits here in front of me on the desk, a worthless piece of junk. Who's mocking who now, eh?
And now I can email the furniture repair guy about his insane idea for replacing the rusted wheels under my piano.
Life seems so much sunnier now.
Thursday, August 30, 2007
At the grocery store yesterday, I loitered on the baking aisle staring at the rows and rows of all kinds of flour: all-purpose, self-rising, bread, cake, whole wheat, organic whole wheat...and I wondered where in the store they would have hidden the rye flour, since that was what I wanted and logic told me to look with the rest of the flour. Not there. And it didn't come jumping out at me a few aisles later, so, once more, I hold off on baking the darker breads my husband prefers.
The kids were all gleefully dancing around the cake mixes and icings.
"Let's get this one for Dad," suggested Billy.
"Dad asked for a cobbler for dessert, so I'm not making a cake," I informed him.
"Oh. Where are the cobbler mixes?" he wondered.
I sighed and explained that I was making one from scratch.
"Oh. Do I like cobbler?"
"I hope not!"
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
It helps if your computer won't connect to the internet, too.
This third trimester is hitting me hard. I've got sciatic pain down both legs. It's still hot. I'm grumpy.
The kids are acting like school is an oppressive burden. When offered the choice between their schoolwork or going to the local school, they want Option C: play all day long.
Peter now has three stitches in his chin. Of course he hurt himself at bedtime. Last night was a late night.
And my computer has not been connecting to the internet. Things I would normally do, like use Mapquest to confirm directions to the new piano teacher's house, weren't easily done (my husband's laptop has been fine, but it's inconveniently located and not connected to a printer...). So instead of confidently arriving on time for our lessons, I show up 20 minutes late and practically in tears because I was just so very frustrated...and hot...and uncomfortable...and traveling with grumpy kids who don't want to do anything educational.
Tomorrow is the first weekday in this entire month that is blank. I'm baking cookies.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
...the point being that you are depriving your children of something by not sending them off to hang out with their peers in a classroom all day long....that they'll miss out on real life experiences...that you are overprotecting them by keeping them home...that your children may seem a little "off" or not "with it" or something...
I would just like to reassure the whole world that, indeed and most unfortunately, my sheltered children are being properly socialized. Heaven forbid that our decision to homeschool should keep us from a typical scenario experienced, I am sure, by thousands of parents every year such as the one we had last night at the dinner table when one of my sons demonstrated a gesture which he had learned and had explained meant "stupid."
On the one hand, it's so very nice to know that my children are unafraid to show off to their loving parents the wonderful new social graces they acquire in the neighborhood, and I am glad that his father and I are there to explain, calmly, that the middle finger does not, in fact, mean "stupid," that it means something much worse, and that under no circumstances should he employ such a gesture ever.
On the other hand, having taught my children that saying "stupid" is akin to cursing, I question the common sense of my son who would nonetheless demonstrate to me a non-verbal way to use the term.
And I really question the common sense of both my older sons who continued to discuss with us, in almost scientific terms, all the knowledge they had obtained regarding the use of the middle finger (including physical demonstrations), until I quickly interrupted them and pointed out their three younger siblings who were listening, most interestedly, to every detail.
And have I mentioned that we call the toddler Pete the Parrot for obvious reasons? It was about three nights ago that Jenny taught him the lovely phrase "Shut up!" Thank goodness, he forgot it after about five minutes. That little girl is on a roll with causing mayhem.
And so, dear world, it is quite evident that homeschooling in no way detracts from proper socialization. My children have not yet reached double digit ages, and yet they know enough to get their front teeth knocked out by an older boy who really knows what the middle finger is all about. I'm sure a discussion about condoms isn't too far in the future, since the first time I heard the word "rubber" was when I was ten. I had no idea what it meant, but I had enough sense to know that asking my mother meant asking for trouble.
My friends taught me that.
Friday, August 24, 2007
We finally have a few days' reprieve from the oppressive temperatures, and today's high is only expected to reach about 80 degrees. Looking ahead at the 10 day forecast, we go back up to the 90s early next week for a few days and then settle down to the low 80s with overnight temps in the 60s. I am looking forward to opening windows and sitting outside on my swing.
But today should be rainy. Swimming is over, which means we should get school done early. I hope to knock out my long list of to-dos and errands and maybe even get in a nap. Or maybe we'll just get comfy on the couch and read a few chapters of The Secret Garden and enjoy the rain.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
I have been hauling books to the pool and having the kids do some work while they waited for their siblings to take their lesson. The young ladies who run the desk have been learning about Lief Erikson and getting a review on addition and subtraction. The other moms with tots running around and their older children safe in classrooms likely think I am nuts. But they smile friendly smiles, so it doesn't matter.
Billy's lesson ends just before 11 am when lap swimming begins, so often various adults begin filtering in and sign in at the desk right where we sit. The other day, I read an Aesop Fable to Katie called The Hares and The Frogs. She randomly picked this story out of our Fable book, and I had no idea what it was about. After I read it, she drew a picture in her blank book to go with the story, and then her assignment was to retell the story to me, and I would write down what she said on the page with her illustration.
Just when we got to the retelling part, an older man came in to do lap swimming. There was no attendant at the desk right then - just a sign that said she'd be back in 5 minutes. So he waited. And he listened to Katie tell me this story:
All the hares think all the other animals are their enemies. If they all run away, they will drown themselves. All the hares went to the pond. They saw frogs jumping in like they were drowning themselves. One of the hares said, "Stop! It doesn't matter whoever you are. Don't drown yourself. Somebody has it worse."
Taken completely out of context, I really wonder what that man thought about my 6 year old's story. Yes, sir, for school today our first graders will be discussing the pros and cons of suicide...
Esther posted this same question last week, and I'm reposting it here in case someone who reads me and not her knows. Barb reminded me that I still had their link on my sidebar, and I have removed it. I did know that following their link took you to a website devoted to The Cure (as in the band, not as in help for mankind's ill health). I don't mind the website on The Cure, but it's not very useful if one is trying to search for local cub scout supply stores.
I do suspect hacking, but it's been a long time now - months - since their search engine has worked. They seem to have fallen off cyberspace.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
This is what I'm singing this morning despite the protests of my 17 year old son...oh, no, wait, he's only SEVEN. I'm a bit confused, but it's understandable given his reluctance to get up at a decent hour.
Of course, it wouldn't be so difficult to get UP if one went to sleep when one was told to do so. But instead of sleeping, we find our boys talking, laughing and playing cards by the light of the moon...
...the moon, the moon...playing cards by the light of the moon.
On the one hand, I think it's amusing. I love that he and his brother are sharing that time together. I love that my kids enjoy playing cards, since that is a pastime of many happy memories from my own life with my family growing up.
But I am a morning person, and I believe that getting up at a regular and reasonable hour every day is a matter of good discipline. Besides, if he were in the local school, he would have to be there by 8 am!
And of all my children, this one doesn't get any breaks. If he could dress, eat and do his morning chores in a short period of time, then he might be granted maternal dispensation to snooze for another half hour. But this child of mine can take twenty minutes just to put on a pair of socks. Oy vey!
Up and at 'em, buddy. Reveille was over an hour ago!
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
This past weekend I tried to find a gift locally. The toy department yielded nothing of interest, but I did manage to find one outfit that I think might be good in the girls' department. It has a skort, but that seems short, so my hope is that if it's inappropriately short the waist will be too big for her skinny little body, and I'll have an excuse to return it.
And still, I felt she was too young to get only clothes for her birthday. She needed a toy of some kind. So after swimming lessons, we headed for the Super Walmart (open 24 hours!) that is 20 miles away.
Deserted rural highways prevent the drive from being too long.
I promised them all lunch and then Katie would be able to select a gift (I held ultimate veto power, of course). This idea was a big hit with all of us. Once she understood that she couldn't have everything that she liked (she had to replace one item in order to get something else she wanted more), she was content in her choices. I'm happy to not have spent money on things she didn't like. And the other kids are excited at the possibility of being able to do the same thing on their birthdays (although Billy will tell you how very far away February is).
And I received a birth-day gift as well. The kids behaved nicely in the food area. Most of the other customers were elderly men and women. A man at the table next to us asked if they were all mine. I smiled and said yes. He and the two women with him all nodded their approval.
"They are very well behaved," he said. "Do you homeschool?" Local schools are in session around here.
"Yes, I do. It's my daughter's birthday, and we're letting her pick out a present after lunch." I guess I feel the need to justify my presence in public during "school" hours.
But they weren't critical of my being out for lunch. Instead they turned to each other, and I could vaguely make out favorable comments directed toward homeschooled children from large families.
Thank goodness for these good days. May the memory sustain me through the bad ones.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
From the ashes of our breastfeeding time rose our pre-sleep snuggle time. At night, in a dark and quieting house, I would sing him a song and rock him for 5 minutes or so, then follow an exact tuck-in procedure: carefully positioning his little puppy next to him, placing his blankie just right over him and the puppy, turning on the little birdies that sing Beethoven (always after asking him), singing one last stanza of whatever I had been singing before, and then I would tell him goodnight and that I had to finish the dishes now (even if they were all done). He would happily hug his puppy and smile a goodnight and drift off to sleep.
In the afternoon, it would be harder for him to settle down with the sunlight streaming in and the distant sounds of his siblings having fun without him. But it would only take about ten minutes of gentle swishing in the glider rocker, and he would be fast asleep. None of my older four children ever enjoyed being rocked for longer than a few minutes, and it was a pleasant surprise when he started doing it.
An obnoxious voice in my head tried to tell me that rocking him to sleep was establishing a bad habit that I would have a hard time breaking. Years ago, I might have heeded that voice, or at least it would have caused anxiety as I fretted over managing his nap time routine while caring for the upcoming newborn. But I am older and wiser now. I pooh poohed that voice, reminding myself that rocking babies is the stuff that lullabies are made of and permitting myself to fully indulge in the pleasure of a toddler hugging me tightly as his little head grows heavy on my chest.
And I knew it wouldn't last long.
As surely as all change is, my gentle rocking ceased to soothe his excited and active body to sleep. I'm not sure how long it's been, maybe as long as two weeks; transitions with children play havoc with a mother's sense of time. Five days can seem like five weeks or even five months as we fight our way to new routines. I've been leaving him to get himself to sleep for his nap (sometimes with disastrous results). Soon, he'll be out of the crib, and it will be another wild adventure as he learns how to rest despite the temptation to wander.
I've missed the rocking.
On Friday, Jenny wasn't feeling well and by evening it was clear that she had some virus. She went to bed with a fever after napping most of the afternoon. Around 1:30 am, Pete woke up crying fitfully. He, too, had a fever. After a 40 minute bedside vigil, I brought him into my bed where I hoped we could both get some rest. Instead, he spent the next two hours rolling and fussing and kicking one parent or the other. Finally, I put him back to bed where he fell into a deep sleep and stayed there until nearly 10 am yesterday morning. The rest did him good, and he awoke with no signs of illness (Jenny spent the day on the couch).
Naturally, there was no chance this child would take a nap, and I didn't even bother. But after dinner, he started getting cranky, and I decided an early bedtime was appropriate. He didn't protest, but with the din of a household not yet ready for bedtime, I opted to see if rocking him would help him block out those noises.
He snuggled in my arm, taking a few minutes to find a spot around his unborn sibling who now takes up most of my lap. Within minutes his little body had completely relaxed and his head became a heavy weight on my shoulder. And still, I held him, not ready to let go of this moment.
It is not the child for whom this is a hard habit to break; it's the mother.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Friday, August 17, 2007
If Christianity really taught that the man in the jungle who has never heard the name of Jesus is going to be damned forever to hell, I, too, would doubt.
If Christianity really taught that God created cancer, child abusers and earthquakes to torture his own children, I, too, would doubt.
Go, Father J!
By the late afternoon, I had freshly laundered her sheets, her comforter and even the mattress pad and replaced them on her bed. She helped by neatly and ceremoniously placing her various stuffed animals, My Little Ponies, and throw pillows in their proper and exact spots around the perimeter of her sleeping area.
After dinner, Pete was walking around half naked, as usual. He usually does really well with making it to the potty when he's naked. I sent the girls upstairs to put their jammies on, and he went up too. I usually do him later, but I guess he wanted to get ready for bed, too. Katie helped him change into his night clothes - everything except a diaper. And that's fine. He came downstairs for stories, and she told me he needed a diaper, but I knew he could wait a bit. He is only about 50% successful at remembering the potty when he has clothing on, but since we were in the living room, not doing much, and the potty is right there (gotta love potty training decorating techniques...Good Housekeeping should do a spread on ideas for incorporating kid potties in your living spaces, perhaps someone could invent an under-the-kitchen-counter pull out shelf that drops down with a stable platform to fit most designs), I thought he'd be fine. And he was...during story time.
OK, you have to see the the impending train wreck, right?
After prayers, the girls and Pete are sent upstairs to brush teeth. I linger for a few minutes to chat with Bill. By the time I get up there, my good children have in fact brushed their teeth, but Pete is standing there uncomfortably wet. Of all the places in the world, he climbed up on Jenny's bed and had an accident.
Thursday, August 16, 2007
The building is 5 years old, and very well done. When you walk into the center of the building, you can look out over a balcony to a nature pond below. There are cameras right inside the pond which are hooked up to computers inside the science lab which has a windowed wall overlooking said pond. Across from that is the two story glass enclosed "media center" aka library. The classrooms were warm and inviting and all had a computer center with several computers. It was really nice.
Still, though, I've not the least bit of regret that my children don't go there. And neither of my boys mentioned any desire to attend (and they're not ones to hold back on such disclosures).
I don't have a nature pond, but Fritz did bury a can in the ground yesterday, carefully propping a large rock over the top. He'll be checking his insect trap daily.
I don't have a media center, but I do have a large selection of books ranging from children's picture books to grown-up full color reference books. And our collection of classical music CDs grows every year. And we're within walking distance of a big library whose card catalog I can access from the comfort of my home.
I don't have a computer center, but I actually completely discourage the use of computers by my children. I'm trying to keep them in the dark ages. You know, like from 20 years ago when we had to use paper and pencil to communicate and books to learn stuff. Just call me old-fashioned.
As we walked to the different rooms, I noticed that the teachers had placed information packets on the desks. When the parents came through they collected the information from their child's desk. We were in the late crowd - in fact, they began locking the doors as we left the building. I was struck by how many desks still had the papers on them, meaning that the parents had not stopped by. By the time we got to the 6th grade classroom, our last stop, perhaps fewer than half the parents had visited the teacher and gotten her agenda and expectations for the school year.
My neighbor, a former homeschooler herself, would like us to reciprocate the open house adventure. My school room just needs a bit more work (I'm still a bit cluttered and disorganized), and then I'll be happy to oblige. My school isn't fancy, high-tech, or expensive. But we're happy with it. And I think we're producing a quality product.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
A Mother’s Prayer After Mass: Thank You.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
It's not going well. Today is Day Two, and I've threatened my boys with public school enrollment already.
Part of the problem is third trimester hormones. Excuses, excuses.
Most of the problem is my desire for my children to be safe around deep water, hence swimming lessons, hence a morning rush to get to the pool instead of sitting down for lessons. Then school is pushed to afternoon when I'm trying to get Pete to take a nap, and I'm tired and cranky and want to nap too.
Sometimes I'm not too bright.
The lessons are a good thing. A month ago, I had no confidence in any of my children around water over 4 feet deep. Family trips to the pool were in jeopardy out of concern for safety. But Fritz has turned into quite a good swimmer, and Billy is doing well too. There are only 6 more classes in this session, and I know that I will have two fewer children to stress about.
And, actually, perhaps the bad timing of the lessons was an important lesson for me. I arranged for piano lessons for the kids on Tuesdays during the day (beginning after swimming is over). That's fine. My curriculum allows for one day of little to no work just for stuff like that. But the ladies at the chapel have been raving over the faith sharing group that meets on Thursday mornings. I want to go, but I knew it would be a stretch to be out of the house two mornings a week. No worries, the ladies said, we have a homeschool room. Oh, temptation! But my kids are too little for effective time in a homeschool room. They still need one-on-one lesson time with me - all of them. And I just don't want to do it in the afternoon.
Now I know, thanks to swimming, how difficult it is when we don't begin the day with school. Now I know just how grumpy I am in the afternoons, and I'm sure it won't be any better when I have a newborn keeping me up at night.
We'll get through this week and next. Swimming will end, and we can focus on school. I'll stop yelling at the kids, and we'll do our own faith formation in our own catechism class. The students and families here at this military school have been promised THE BEST YEAR OF THEIR LIVES with one caveat: realistic expectations and good priorities. Keep it simple, don't over-extend your commitments, and enjoy life.
Okay, got it.
Monday, August 13, 2007
Plus one stinky diaper (a post confinement occurrence)...
Equals one mess you have to experience to understand the depth of its yuckiness.
Minus one nap for freshly bathed toddler...
Equals no nap for pregnant and exhausted mommy.
Plus daily temperature exceeding 100 degrees...
Equals afternoon TV for the kids.
Plus a dose of Tylenol for an emerging headache...
Hopefully equals a cheerier attitude, hopefully soon.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
It had a good soundtrack...
I had read that it was historically inaccurate, so I was not overly bothered by any of the details that didn't mesh with actual Spartan warfare (fighting out of formation or without armor), real Spartan life (the claim of a "free" society), or real Greek culture ("God speed" says one fleeing Arcadian...God speed? Which god?).
And I knew this was based on a comic book, so I could be amused by the gravity-defying agility of the characters (gotta love computer animation!).
But I did not realize that this was a fantasy fiction...kind of like Sparta takes on the forces of Mordor. The Persian army seemed to be composed of wizards, orcs, and all sorts of amazingly deformed creatures that could only come out of the depths of hell. Heck, they even had oliphants. And what was up with that half man - half lobster (aka: the human guillotine) who looked like what "might have been" had the Karate Kid's mom taken Thalidomide?
I understand the technique of portraying bad guys as inhuman...but really.
Beyond that, I really can't say that the plot was captivating or that the characters were inspiring. I mean if a pregnant (read: highly emotional) soldier's wife doesn't feel particularly moved when she sees a scene where the queen receives the necklace her dead king wore in battle (and I tried, I tried) than you really haven't done much in the way of character development.
The special effects were cool, I suppose. But I'm just too old now for lots of blood: it doesn't excite me the way it used to. And all that slo-mo, stop-action fighting with people hovering in the air...I first saw that technique in The Matrix (it might be older than that for all I know), and that was eight years ago. There comes a point where it just seems passé (please note the use of the fancy "e" there...and many thanks to my BIL, Tom, who made that possible).
In the end, it wasn't a total waste of my time. I rarely watch modern movies, and whenever I do, I feel so hep and a part of modern pop-culture. But even Bill agreed that it was better on DVD (as in free) than if we had paid to see it (and paid babysitters for the ability to see it).
For a bit, I'll go back to old movies. We just got a collection of Roy Rogers films I think the kids will enjoy...and me too. No blood. No slow motion. But probably not a bad soundtrack.
...a bit more...
My sister, who is celebrating her birthday today, chastized me for not appreciating this movie. Apparently, I should have spent my time admiring the bare-chested actors to get the true essence of what the movie was all about. Silly me. But, when you live with this hunk o' burnin' love, I'm sure you realize why I just don't notice those sorts of things:
And Esther also disagreed with my assessment. So please don't allow my personal opinion to detract you from enjoying the film, if you like looking at men's chests and think severed limbs and heads flying in slow motion across the screen are cool. My copy will be back at Netflix in a day or so.
Happy Catholic liked the bare-chested babes, too. I'm sorry, I still can't get over the deformed guy who beheaded the inept general with his forearm.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Man: Good dog!
Woman: Bad dog!
Kasia pointed put that there are some on eBay. Just type Kitchen Madonna in the search box, and you'll see some pretty ones.
Here's one at the Leaflet Missal that is similar to mine. They also sell this statue, which is quite nice.
I found some really beautiful alabaster statues on a marble base. They are so expensive, I won't even bother with a link. This one, sold at EWTN, is pricey, too (not as expensive as the alabaster ones), but I think it's gorgeous and somewhat reasonably priced. This would make a great gift, especially a group gift where everyone chips in $5 to get that special ministry leader a thank you present.
I found this cute clock for your kitschy kitchen. It's only $3!
On the opposite extreme, if you are remodeling your kitchen and would like an interesting tile backsplash, this one is 30" x 36" and only $1,170. I'm sure by the time I ever get around to having a permanent home, I will have long forgotten about these hand-painted Portuguese tiles.
That's all the time I have for browsing the internet. If anyone else provides a link in the com box, I'll update this post. I know I've seen tons more in catalogs, including mine, I just don't know where.
** Update: Elizabeth Marietti kindly sent the link to Discount Catholic Products which carries the exact Kitchen Madonna I have. They also have one in pewter and this pretty statue. Thanks, Elizabeth!
Friday, August 10, 2007
...refrigerators (take nothing for granted)...
...cold lemonade in ice-filled glasses...
...summer-times clothes that don't take up much room in the washing machine (meaning I can skip a day or two and it won't overwhelm me)...
...summer-time agendas that permit propping up one's feet and drinking cold drinks...
...naturally cool basements...
...and, did I mention...air conditioning?
Thursday, August 09, 2007
Here's my kitchen counter just to the right of the sink. My KM is on the window sill.
It's a dark picture, especially small. If you click on it, it looks better.
Here's a closer look at my dinged (from multiple moves) and (eek) dirty KM. I just love the image of the Child Jesus asking his mother for some bread.
And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him? (Luke 11:9-13)
If you have a Kitchen Madonna to post, let Matilda know. And me too!
Baby mill...I haven't seen the baby mill...I've unpacked everything, but haven't seen the baby mill...I've got to find it...
Because a newborn (due in two months) doesn't need a bassinet or itty bitty diapers or receiving blankets or onsies or pajamas...all still in several boxes in the basement marked "baby stuff"...nearly as much as a food mill I might use sometime after the baby turns six months old.
I'll get right on that...
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
I remembered as we pulled out of our neighborhood that I forgot the camera, but I didn't want to be late for the youth rodeo, so we didn't go back. We got there in time to see kids as young as 3 and 4 years old holding on for dear life to the backs of bucking sheep. Kids who were a bit older were trying to ride calves. And the two little girls with the fastest times clearing the barrels couldn't have been over twelve. I swore they were going to fall off the horse when they charged for the finish line.
I did wish for the camera when Pete got on his first Midway ride, but I doubt I would have been able to snap a shot. I was so nervous, and I instructed Billy to hold on to his arm the whole time. OK, so I just watched three year olds get thrown from sheep, and I'm worried about my buckled two year old on a ride that goes round and round and up about 9 feet in the air. I'm a ninny, what can I say? Later, he rode the cars that go in a circle and do not go up and down (what a relief), and it was the cutest thing to see him energetically throwing the steering wheel from side to side with a huge grin on his face. He would have been happy on that ride for 20 minutes, but fortunately for the crying one year old and the scared stiff three year old covering her eyes, it was over in only a few minutes. Why do parents make their kids go on these rides?
Oh, wait, I can't judge. I forced my kids on rides at Disney World 3 years ago...but they were four and six years old and afraid of It's a Small World and I spent a ton of money to get into that park, by golly, and we weren't going to stand around and watch everyone else have fun. So, really, it was totally different. So, I can label those parents as big meanies, but I...I was just doing what was necessary to help my children overcome ridiculous fears. Harumph.
By the time the ride tickets were gone, it was after 9 pm and dark. We bought some cotton candy and made our way to the van. I was worried about finding our way on dark country roads at night, but we didn't get lost until we got to Leavenworth, the town right outside post. By the way, Lorri, we did spot the buffalo outside the back gate on our way to the fair. It was 1030 before silence descended on our household.
All the kids agreed that it was a good family adventure, except for Katie who was upset that she didn't get an animal balloon because she stayed with Daddy to watch the rodeo while Mommy took the littler ones for a stroll. We promised her next time, we would get a babysitter for her, so she wouldn't have to be so miserable. OK, I really am a mean mom after all.
...talk turns to being "done." As in not having any more kids. As in getting rid of baby stuff as your youngest outgrows it. I said I couldn't imagine feeling that way. They looked at me as if I were crazy.
It's not that I desire a dozen kids. It's not that I think changing diapers and wiping bottoms or even teaching a child to read is particularly fun. It's not that I want to be the center of the universe. It's not that I crave the power or the responsibility of raising a human being from childhood to maturity. It's not.
It's that to me being "done" means declaring that I have no more room in my heart for another person. I'm out of love. The club is closed; the membership roster is full.
And it might also be that 8 pounds of the softest skin on earth curled and resting on my chest is the sweetest addiction.
So, naturally, talk turned to...vasectomies.
Apparently, there's a waiting list here and men are scrambling to get on it. Sitting in a classroom is pretty low-impact, so the procedure (and the recovery) won't cause them to miss much. After this school, most of these guys will be heading for Iraq or Afghanistan, and they won't be able to do it there (and want to avoid any welcome home celebration surprises, I suppose).
"That's not an option for you, is it?" one woman asked me.
I shook my head no, and said that even if it were, my husband would never do it. "Really?" someone else asked.
"My husband has a pretty low opinion of men who would have that done. He says if a woman doesn't want to have kids, she should get herself fixed."
"But the recovery is so much easier on a man," she argued (obviously defending her own husband's decision to do it).
I gave my best deer-in-the-headlights look. How could I explain that my husband would sooner have his testicles removed than kow-tow to the selfish demands of his wife? And it's not that my husband thinks women should be popping out as many kids as possible. Trust me, he is much more willing than I to say: enough is enough, we've proved to God we're open to life, let's get on with our lives and do all those things that are difficult with little ones around...and while we're getting rid of baby stuff, let's get rid of maternity clothes and all those bigger sizes that my wife wears in between, and honey, if you've been holding off on cosmetic surgery until you've finished birthing babies, let's go see the doctor...for you, honey, to make you feel better about yourself (but, do I get a say in the size and shape of any breast augmentation?)...and if you don't think you need that, it's fine by me, I love you no matter what.
My husband will be the first person to read this blog, and he's going to kill me for that.
He does love me no matter what, but he initially fell in love with an eighteen year old who didn't have stretch marks, spider veins or a droopy cleavage. He still sees that girl - thank goodness that love is blind - but he knows that I don't.
So, Bill won't be putting his name on the vasectomy list, even if it would put him closer to having a smokin' hot wife, please, sweet baby Jesus in the manger (a joke for anyone who suffered through Talladega Nights). And even though he passes judgement (not moral judgement, rather cojones judgement) on men who have the procedure done, I don't. It's tough to argue in favor of retaining your fertility in an age that thinks having children is burdensome.
I'm grateful to have the Catholic Church to use as an excuse for indulging in the pleasure of a large family.
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Most of the information was generic, but I was interested to learn about the tornado warning sirens. We had heard a siren last weekend, and wondered what it was...until we realized it was just the fire department responding to a call. They described the two-minute continuous blast for a tornado and assured us that we would hear it and know what it was.
I also paid close attention to the man who spoke about the prisoners of the United States Disciplinary Barracks (USDB). Within a very short distance, there are a half dozen prisons: some federal, some state. Mostly maximum security. Those at the USDB are primarily guilty of violent crimes and have minimum sentences of 5 years and a day. There are three different colors of uniforms indicating their level of security. Blue uniforms are for the most trusted inmates who may have jobs on post like cutting hair. Brown uniforms are for those who are not trusted quite as much. They would be accompanied by a guard and would likely be in handcuffs. Orange uniforms are for the ones who need strict monitoring. They would have at least three guards and be in full shackles. There is a possibility that we would see a prisoner at the Health Center, and we were told that we should give the ones in orange a wide berth: "They're shackled for a reason," the man said.
This gives me one more reason to avoid going to the doctor.
There are programs, run mainly through the religious organizations, that allow volunteers to minister to the inmates. He encouraged anyone with those sorts of charitable leanings to contact the chaplains and get involved. But he cautioned us all against developing personal friendships. "It's not good for them, and it's certainly not good for you," he said. "I wouldn't be saying this if it hadn't happened before."
Was it one of the Narnia books where the children were playing in a communal attic system - where the row houses were separate, but the attics were open to each other? My house is a duplex, and there is an exterior basement door that opens to a small area with the water heaters for both sides. Doors in that room lead to each half of the duplex. There is a dead bolt lock on those doors, but no lock on the door to the outside. My boys play with the boys next door, and we both use the basements for playrooms. Every day, multiple times a day, I'll go in the basement to rotate laundry or work on the school room, and I will find the doors to both sides wide open as the boys have been passing between the houses. I reminded Bill that part of our "locking up for the night" procedure has to include checking that door, even if we're too tired to go up and down the stairs again. I'm not worried about the neighbors...it's that exterior door.
Who wants to haul sleeping children down to the basement to seek shelter from a tornado only to find an orange-suited escapee in hiding?
I'm so happy I went to the orientation. Now I know where to focus my worries!
Monday, August 06, 2007
Saturday, August 04, 2007
We've been in Kansas for less than a month, and we've had three significant health crises already. And for once, it's not the usual suspects who are causing all the hullabaloo.
First, there was Bill...on the patio...with the ratchet.
Then on Thursday, our dog suffered a heat stroke. She had to be taken to the vet and given an ice bath and an IV and kept overnight for observation. Really, we're not bad pet owners. She had been in the A/C all morning and had plenty of water. Bill played fetch with her for about 15 minutes when she started returning r e a l l y s l o w l y. He brought her in, and within 10 minutes we had called the vet, determined she needed help and gotten her out the door. Even the vet was surprised, since we moved here from Virginia and not someplace routinely cooler. Since dogs, and humans, are more susceptible to heat stroke if it's happened before, and since we haven't owned her for her entire life, I suspect that this wasn't the first time. Now we know: absolutely no exercise during the heat of the day, which is basically from dawn to dusk around here right now.
And then last night, I missed the bottom step on the way down, just like I did over a year ago. This time, it's my right foot and not my left that is sprained. And I was such a baby. I cried, in part because of the pain, but mostly because I was so mad at myself, and I think sobbing is more ladylike than throwing a temper tantrum. Then I had to ask Bill to get me the tissues, and to have to ask him to wait on me, and especially to have to ask him to get me tissues because I was crying only made me cry more and tell him I was pathetic.
"You're not pathetic," he comforted. "At least you didn't hit yourself in the head with a ratchet. That's pathetic."
And that made me laugh, because, well, that is pathetic. He's always got to top me, that husband.
Friday, August 03, 2007
We haven't gotten to that point here, and I really doubt I ever would.
I kind of like this independently-wealthy lifestyle. We putter around...well, Bill putters around; I'm still slaving from sun-up to sun-down doing laundry, meals, prepping for school, working on setting up the school room, etc...so there's puttering going on with perhaps one main job on the to-do list. On Wednesday, Bill mowed our small backyard. Having accomplished his one hour chore for the day, he was free to indulge in one of the very few types of foreign beer sold at the nearby Class VI confident that his paycheck would be directly deposited into his account twice each month as normal.
And even though I'm slaving, slaving I tell you, all day long, he's there to fetch juice refills and supervise proper dietary rules regarding lunch time meals and give Petey high-fives for a successful trip to the potty...all so I can sit at the computer and
Being an imperfect wife, there are still things about him that irritate me. But I think I have a daily time limit on how much this happens...maybe an hour a day after which my "annoyance meter" is maxed out and he just doesn't bother me any more. So, six months ago that hour of irritation was concentrated in only two or three hours of contact, it is now diluted by sixteen or more hours of time, most of which are quite pleasant.
I especially appreciate his presence this week as we began swimming lessons for the kids. Three are in the first time slot and one is in the second time slot which would normally mean a half hour or so of waiting time for everybody and over an hour for Pete. As long as I bring snacks and some books, that really isn't a big deal, but it's been nice not having to deal with impatient children. I drive over with the three, Bill walks over a bit later with Pete and Fritz, I leave with four, and Bill walks Fritz home when he's done. Very nice.
I can go to the grocery store at any old time. I can spend an hour in the basement doing laundry or sorting toys and school supplies while his attentive ear is on the main level of the house and he can check on the kids playing outside. I can take a shower with no interruptions. And if it weren't oppressively hot, I could take a walk in the middle of the day when I opt to sleep in.
Yes, I could get used to this. In fact, I think I have. Thank goodness he starts next week off slowly - only three days of activities and two of them are half days. This will give me a chance to ease back into the real world: the one where money doesn't just appear as if by magic in the bank account. The one where I haul five kids and a big belly shopping for groceries, or to the orthodontist, to to the pool for lessons.
I'm okay with this. I'd really like to win the lottery, but barring that improbability, I'll happily embrace my former life as the Center of the Universe for five little children, even if that title comes with a host of other titles like Sole Juice Pourer, The Only One Capable of Cutting Pancakes, and Ultimate Solace for Injuries.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Sarah reminded me with her post on her resolutions. Thanks, dear.
Last year at this time I was prepping for school, but I focused on meal preparation as a key to a successful start to our academic year. It would be one less thing to worry about. That did work out really well.
This year, though, I'm going to focus on school prep to a deeper level. I'm working on having each kids' weekly assignments printed out through at least Week 9, and any worksheets, supplementals, tests or other print-outs already done. For example, two of Billy's workbooks came from reproducible sources. The material is already scanned (from when Fritz did it), I just have to print it out. Having that already done will save me last minute scrambles that generally result in me skipping that work that day and doing it the next.
Also, I'm taking a hint from Laura Berquist's Teaching Tips & Techniques and beginning the school day with one-on-one time with each child starting with the preschooler and going up in age from there. Usually I start with the oldest and work my way down...and honestly hope that my preschooler is occupied with free play. But Jenny really wants to learn her letters, and so I must add her to my student roster. I suppose I could buy a preschool program, but there is enough free stuff on the internet...if I just take the time to print it out and make a plan.
I know that the more prepared and better organized I am now, the smoother things will go, especially once the baby comes. I can hold everything together on a day-to-day basis most of the time right now, but I know that things will fall apart with a newborn in the house if I don't have all the supplies ready, the lists made and a routine established. Nine weeks of lesson plans will get me at least to the baby's birth. After I've done all the kids' plans for that time, I'll move on to prepping another 9 weeks to get me through Christmas break.
Alrighty then, anybody else have a new month's resolution?
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Self-Proclaimed Pedophile Admits He'd Have Sex With Little Girls If It Were Legal
Appearing earlier on "The Morning Show With Mike & Juliet," McClellan made this startling admission:
"I got to be honest with you — if it was legal and if it was a completely consensual thing, I could see myself taking it all the way to a sexual [level].”
He's talking about girls between the ages of THREE and ELEVEN. Consensual? Excuse me, I have to go vomit now.
Back when Fritz was little, I read all the warnings about toilet training a toddler when another baby was on the way. Don't do it, they all so wisely and confidently said. The child will just regress and make your life even more difficult. So, even though he had been starting to use the potty here and there from 18 months, I gave up, figuring there was no point. Billy was born when he was 21 months old, and I had 2 in diapers.
Then I starting hearing about this concept of "waiting until the child is ready" to do potty training. Today, I can tell you that I'm not really sure why parents buy into this theory of child rearing. I don't wait until my child says "teach me" before encouraging the use of tableware. I don't wait until my child has a cooperative attitude before working on the virtue of obedience. And if my kindergartener doesn't know her alphabet, I don't wait until she says "I want to learn to read" before I begin working on basic letter recognition and phonics.
But back then, I ignored my common sense that nagged me that my own generation was toilet trained before the age of three and that it was really possible to do it even with newborn babies around, and I waited for signs of "readiness." Looking back, I can tell you who wasn't ready: me. It's not that I wanted 2 kids in diapers. It's that potty training is messy work. It was so much easier to change a diaper at my own convenience than to mop up a puddle before somebody started playing in it. Or before it soaked into the wall-to-wall carpeting in our rented apartment.
And then, the next thing I knew, he was three, and I had another baby due in a few months, and I worried about wasting my time because he would just regress anyway. Katie was born when he was 3 years and 3 months old, and I had 3 in diapers.
Fritz never did show signs of readiness. Three months later, I decided enough was enough and I knuckled down and trained him. But this experience didn't make me any wiser. I waited for Billy to be "ready" until he was past his third birthday...nothing. In fact, he was rapidly approaching 3 1/2 when Katie, only 18 months younger, started using the toilet all by herself (my one and only "ready" child). Jenny was due, Bill was deployed, my life was crazy (I lived a whole year full of regression), and it looked like I was going to have 2 in diapers - but it wouldn't be the youngest two.
Again, I knuckled down, and I ended up with just one in diapers, except for Katie at night. There were accidents (there still are accidents), and I just got used to keeping a change of clothes for everybody in the car, but we got through it.
With Jenny, I expected that she'd be like Katie - only because she's a girl and a younger sibling and not for any really good reason. I expected her to train herself around age 2. Nope. But I moved my personal timeline up, and managed to have her out of diapers by the time she was 3. I also developed a greater sense of humor in training her.
And now, my fifth child, has an entirely different mother than my first child did. Waiting until a child is ready just might be good advice, but this mom has different criteria for what "ready" means. If my child's preferred mode of dress is au naturale, it just might be a good time to begin potty training. If my child is capable of attaining that goal of bare nakedness by undressing himself, it just might be a good time to begin potty training. And if my child indicates that he understands the connection between the bathroom and the liquid coming from his body, then it really just might be a good time to begin potty training.
As for the regression monster, that fear that I would work so hard only to have to begin anew? Eh, I figure they have to regress somehow when the new baby comes, it might as well be toilet training as anything else. Besides, regression means that there was initial success. And if I could have one single month in nine years of parenting with zero children in diapers, that would be an amazing thing indeed.