Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Thursday, March 31, 2011


I have a crabby boy in the house.  He is cranky and doesn't want to be talked to or touched.  He feels miserable and when I try to help him to feel better, he just gets mad at me.  Apparently, I am somehow the source of his misery.  I do things for him because I know they are the best thing for him in the long run, but at the moment that I do them, he hollers his brains out and tries to get away from me. 

I wish I could just tell him how much I love him, and that just telling him that would make him feel better.  I wish that he could see that mama (and papa) sometimes knows best.  I wish that he could see the situation through my eyes,
knowing what I know.

One of my boys is furious we have enrolled him in an arts and sciences high school for the fall.  We think it is going to be an amazing experience for him.  The campus is small, they have drama, music, pottery, heck... you can even ride a skateboard around on campus during lunch.  There are only a few hundred kids, as compared with 2,500 at the local gang and drug-ridden HS.  There has not been a single fight on campus all year.  His dad works there, too, which will give him a place of refuge if he needs it, and a ride every day. 

One of my other boys has a cold.  Bet you can't guess which is which.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Meat Group

 The weeks blur as they fly by. 
March has marched on through.  Weeks of rain and sour moods have
drained us all and the flu has made a messy visit.   
There has been little of cheer around here, as cabin fever takes over. 

But here is what coaxed a smile out of me this week... 

Tessa: "Is chicken a aminal and people kill them and eat them?"

Me:  "Yes, honey.  They are just like the chickens at auntie Kori's house. 
They are killed and the feathers are taken off, and then they are
brought to the store for people to buy."

Tessa:  "Well, it sure is good!"  (... thinking hard ...) 
"We got meat in us.  If we're gonna die, people could eat us! 
And we will be good too, cuz' we have meat in us!"

Shoyu Chicken

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs
Soy sauce

Fry the chicken in butter (yes, for real)
Mix equal parts sugar and soy sauce and add to the
 simmering chicken, until done.  Serve with rice.

Friday, March 25, 2011

THE List

To Do

Help Adam with food report
Go to rehearsal
Take care of Dad's tax stuff
Cut Guy's hair
Teach art lesson
Post on blog
Order new cloth diapers
Lunch with Ruth and Anna
Exercise with Kathy
Get caught up with laundry
Finish cards for card exchange
Memorize lines for the play
Lay carpet in doll house
Check out books on DIY electrical
Figure out electrical in doll house
Sort clothes for Jonah and Tessa
Shop for Guy's birthday
Play in volleyball game
Glaze pottery
Do visiting teaching
Work on Open Studio sale items
Get caught up with laundry again
Make cannoli for Adam's class project
Clean house for Annmarie's visit
Maybe I will get a few more things knocked off THE list this weekend. 
 Oh, wait...

Post on blog

Friday, March 18, 2011

How ye be trappin' a Leprechaun

Aye, and sure's ye be livin', there be strange spirits a' roamin' these halls.  Tis' me custom to visit this here family an' work all manner o' mayhem in the wee hours.  The lass Ellie was vexed with me comin' and set her heart to capturin' me.  I trolled the house causin' mischief indeed.  A'fore I t'was done I'd made the milk green, and some o' tha lunches of the wee ones as well.

Well, don'cha know it, but that lassie made a fine trap in hopes o' layin' her English hands upon me fine pot' o gold.  Indeed, twas dandy, all set with a bed for meself, a guitar for me amusement, and treasures to tempt a king.  But don'cha know, them treasures they was fixed with rope an' twern't for tha' takin'!  Indeed, had I tried, the rope was fixed to drop a trap door and hold
this here Leprechaun and me gold as well!

Tho' the treasures were grand, so was the trap. 
So leaves I behind a note, and a promise to return.

"Tho t'was truly temptin' to have them lovely riches me eyes be seein' in this here box, me keen Irish senses say that this here be a trap - so fine there t'would be no escapin' from her.  Ye are a fine trap maker indeed, and ye both are fair.  Ay'n' smart to boot!  So you can keep your treasure!  But I'll surely try again next year, Lassies!  ~ Patty O'Toole"

Erin Go Bragh!
Ireland Forever!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Great Expectations

Today I witnessed
what can only be described as a teeny tiny miracle.

Three clean bowls in the dish rack.

A while back, probably around October when my dishwasher died and I joined the ranks of handwashers, I started getting a real 'tude about crusty cereal bowls being left in the sink.  I politely asked the kids to please rinse their bowls before depositing them so that I wouldn't have to use a chisel
 to scrape the cement-like cereal bits out of them. 

They chose not to. 
 I began saving their bowls for them. 
It was so awesome. 

"Ethan, darling, I saved your bowl for you since you forgot to rinse it out. 
Only, I have already done the dishes, so now you will need to actually wash it." 
I know.  Cool, huh?

So then I get to thinking: I make the kids clean up their other messes, but for some strange reason, they go through a half dozen plates and bowls and easily 4 cups each every day, and they think they are wonderful if they walk the 10 feet to dump them in the sink.  I decided to give them the opportunity to feel that sense of accomplishment that only comes after a job well done -- by washing them, too. 

It has taken a week of saving bowls for kids to wash after school (usually Ellie, never Adam.  Adam got it the first day), but today it happened.  When I came into the kitchen after the kids had moved on through, there they were, gleaming in their Corelleware-splendor.

Three clean bowls.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, they can be taught!

And when your sink isn't full of dirty dishes,
you have room for this chubby little miracle...

And when you have less housework to do, you can get to
all of the pottery that needs glazing...
after you are done nibbling on this delicious little dish.

Monday, March 14, 2011

"Go to sleep, little creep..."

I am often asked the question, "How is Jonah sleeping?" I usually answer, "Pretty well." but a better answer would be, "Pretty well in my arms, or not at all."
That's how his naps are, anyway. I have never been the mama who beat up the mailman for rustling the mail too loudly while baby is napping.  I think that sometimes a light sleeper is created by the hiper-vigilance of well meaning parents who defend the sleep space like it was the Hope diamond. So we vacuum, talk on the phone, and play musical instruments while our babies sleep right in the same room.  Mostly it works out great, and our babies sleep soundly while search helicopters circle the neighborhood after several rounds of gunfire.  But Jonah is like Adam was. When Addy boy was younger and I would slip into his room to do my nightly rounds, just the sound of my pants swishing would wake him up, and I don't even wear corduroy.

I hear the sleep gurus out there who have their babies sleeping through the night by six weeks. Yes, you are right, if I let him cry it out, eventually he would fall asleep. Sorry, ladies, but I just ain't that kinda' mama. My kids all sleep in my bed with me until they are about two, and guess what? Contrary to what popular myth would project for my cramped nocturnal future, not a single one of them is still sleeping in my bed.

But somehow Jonah has a radar detector that senses when I am thinking of putting him down so I can visit the little girl's room.  Unassisted, Jonah sleeps for...count 'em... five whopping minutes.  The other day I decided to slip away as he drifted off.  In five minutes he was up, and he stayed up for the next 8 hours.   By the time fatigue finally put him into a coma, we were all fried.

So he sleeps. 
In my arms. 
And I am so OK with that. 
Because he is my last baby. 

This is the last time I get to do all of this, so do it I will, and with quiet gusto.  Amazingly, he saws logs while I nibble his ears, snores while I toodle my fingers through his hair, and even stays in dreamland while I clip his nails and clean out his ears (and other crusty parts).  It's actually nice to have a while every day when I can just love on him, appreciate the miracle that he is, and remember to stop and smell the roses. 

I mean, the toeses. 

Hold a sleeping baby? 

Twist my arm.


"Go to Sleep, Little Creep" (sing to the tune of Lullaby and Goodnight)

Go to sleep, little creep
or I'll punch you in the melon
sleep snugly little ugly
or I'll poke you in the eye

Nighty-night or I'll bite
off the end of your nose
go to sleep, little creep
or I'll snap off your toes.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dear Julean,

I missed you so much this weekend.  We all got together at Kori's house on Saturday to celebrate Dad's 76th birthday.  He was convinced it was his 75th, but other than that, his mind seemed sharper than ever.  The big boys played together tossing around the football and tackling each other, and it was great to see Ethan get pummeled for once instead of Adam.  As I watched the boys play I imagined Caleb and Noah out there with them.  Tiny little Michael was right out there with all those big boys, stealing passes and flopping up on top of the dog pile of boys, looking like a bird on the backs of elephants.  But he didn't let his size stop him.  There is a jumbo spirit crammed into that 40 pound frame.

We got to meet Eric's wife, Aubry.  She is very sweet and friendly.  She was missing her baby, who she left at home with grandma, so she was loving on Jonah.  It is so fun to see other people enjoy Jonah as much as I do.  He really made the rounds.  I half expected him to be sick after being passed around so much, but so far, so good.

At one point in the day, little Sam came up and said, "Auntie Laine, in school we are learning about the planets and we took a trip to each planet and I sent you a post card from Mars."  I wonder what the postage was on that! 

The kids dug for salamanders half of the afternoon and I imagine that if Zack had been here, he'd have been right out there with all the kids, probably teaching them all about the way the salamanders eat or something.  I had to forbid the boys from trying to bring those slimy looking things home.

I think the thing I missed most was hearing your laugh.  You and Guy can really get going, and I love how you can get him to laugh harder than anyone else can.  Family gatherings aren't the same without you here.

"The Little Girls", as they are called, are growing so big


Gringo, every one's favorite horse.  Tessa vanished just before dinner and was found outside loving on Gringo.

I love the rainbow of children

Uncle Chris actually makes Jonah look like a "little" baby...

even though he nearly outweighs Auntie Kori.

I am so glad you are my sister-in-law, but you were my sister long before that.  Now we are eternally linked by blood.  My children and your children share our genetic dust.  The miles somehow seem wider now that there are so many of them between us, but knowing that we will always be family makes the time between visits seem less important.

I miss you, all the same.

Grandpa asks the all important question, "Does he have a butt chin?"  I suppose he wants to make sure he has left his mark on his progeny.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Chill pill

This week has been
 like a string of ugly pearls; one day after another
of crabby kids fighting with each other.  As a kid, when we would act like that my mother would call us "nasty little pills".  This week I have had a whole bottle-full.
One kid in particular has made the days really challenging, and by challenging, I mean somebody please suck my eyes out with a vacuum, pull out my brain with a pair of tongs and then stomp on it, because that would be more pleasant than the past three days have been.  (I should open a spa. 
 I would call that the "Vac-Stomp Package").
Today when the rigamerole started up again, I was fabulous.  I mean it.  I deserve the "My brains are melting in my head, but on the outside I'm cool as a cucumber" award.  And cucumbers are cooler than fourteen year old boys with swishy girl hair.  I didn't flinch, I simply said, in a calm, quiet voice, "Go to your room."  I repeated it like a Buddhist chant until the offending (and yes, offensive) party got sick of me and stormed off down the hall to test the slamability of his (or her) bedroom door. 
Award time.  Right here.

Later, after many attempts to get a certain girl-child to focus on a simple task, I jokingly told Guy that they all had the attention span of fruitflies.  
"It seems like there should be some kind of pill
 we could give them to help them stay focused."  I laughed.

"They actually have a pill to prevent them from happening at all,
but we chose not to take those."  He smiled.

So we all took a chill pill in the form of our (da-da-dun!!!) First Ever Family Bike Ride.  Thanks to Ellen (Thanks, Ellen!), who gave us some awesome used bikes, and another thanks to a borrowed trailer from Kathy (Thanks, Kathy!), we toodled off to take Ellie to her play date.  And here, the definition of toodle is "to ride very, very slowly, stop a billion times and begin to feel a strange burning feeling in the tops of one's thighs".  Parts of me that have squeezed babies out of them were whimpering (Whose fine idea was it that we should straddle the insole of a toddler's shoe for a seat?  If anyone in the midwest is reading,
 I am in the market for a good used tractor seat). 

Poor little Ellie had never been on a long bike ride before. 
She was ready to poop-out those last few blocks,
and Guy dropped back to encourage her. 

Then above the clackety sound of her training wheels, I heard her little voice call out, "I it!  I it!"  Her voice rose and continued her chant, a word or two for each pump of the pedals, all the way to Kaylee's house.  It was inspiring.

I'm glad we didn't take those other pills.  I'll keep my little pills. 
 For one more week, at least.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

One'a those days

It started to rain last night. 

And last night I got into a kafuffle with Ethan (you're welcome, Steph.  Just wait, I plan on using a few more of your words).  It was 11:30, and he was up trying to gather the Elvis costume together but he couldn't find the sideburns (What? Do you know exactly where your Elvis sideburns are right now?  Unless you are very organized, the location of facial hair of dead rock stars poses a cunundrum.  You're welcome again).  I sent him to look through the Halloween stuff, he left the garage door open, I scolded, he got mad, yada yada yada, he ends in his room playing really mad notes on his trumpet (which is what you do when you don't know a whole mad song).  It had turned into a very unnecessary hulabaloo (I need to start charging for those.  The words, not the hulabalii, which I can assure you is one of two possible pluralizations of hulabaloo). 

I walked into his room later (because 11:30 isn't really late around here) and apologized for my role in the bruhaha.  The trumpet dropped from his lips, the furrow left his brow and an easy smile slid over his face.  It had been hard work to stay mad at me and he seemed to be glad to be done with it.  He apologized for all of his skullduggery, got Elvis and his sideburns packed into a backpack (it was young Elvis, so he still fit) and headed off to bed.

When I woke this morning, all the foofarah from last night clung to me like white dog hairs on a pair of black yoga pants.  The house phone died (did you know that they need to be hung up once in a while?), my cell phone went missing (my message is Adam's voice saying "My mom can't find her phone right now, so please leave a message"), as did my white socks.  Late for volleyball and running around like a skatterbrain in tennis shoes and BLACK socks, I got to the church and no one else showed up.  I came back home feeling a bit snarky. 

An on and on went the day in much the same way.  It rained, kids squabbled, I reprimanded.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

At one point I sent Ethan on a bike ride to burn off some testosterone.  Tessa asked where he was and I said, "I sent him to blow off some steam."  At that very moment, Ellie began blowing her nose in the bathroom like she was in a marching band.

"Yup"  said Tessa, "I here'd him blowed it."

It's still raining.  In fact, forecast calls for mostly rainy days for the next week. 

I know that today was one'a those days. 
Maybe tomorrow will be less of a bungleflop
(yes.  I made that one up).