Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Always listen to the little ones

What do you say to a three year old who, after eating a hot dog and a s'more, comes up to you and says, "My belly isn't full."

"There's still room for three more marshmallows."

And finishes with a grin like this?

Obviously, you say, "Would you like those marshmallows roasted or raw?"

I love this child.  The things he says makes me laugh, cry, ponder, and gasp.  It's time I wrote some of this stuff down.

As I was leaving the house one day, he told me to keep an eye out for turtles.  Odd.  We haven't been talking about turtles.  We haven't seen a turtle.  But guess what I saw in the middle of the road on the way home.  Yup.  A monstrous turtle crossing the road. 

We were driving home one day this fall, and he says, "Are the trees getting ready for Halloween?"  I looked out the window and saw all of the beautiful yellows, reds, and oranges.  "Why do you say that?"  His reply, "They are all putting on their costumes!"

When I would take the big kids to cross country practice, the three year old insisted on running with them.  It would be 100 degrees, and a-runnin' he would be.  I would continue to ask him to stop and play on the playground with us, but he would just glance over long enough to gasp," NO!  I'm running!"  He ran so much that the coach gave him his own little uniform.  When I told him he couldn't start the races with the big kids, but could start a bit behind them, he protested, "But then I can't win!"

His new word is "never".  When we are in the car waiting for the big kids to come out of school, he'll say, "They will never come out."  When I am helping the two year old put his coat on, he'll say, "You'll never help me with mine."  Luckily for him, no whine is evident.  He's just making an observation. 

He adores his little brother, and when the littlest one would do something funny, the three year old would look at him and say, "Woo so coot!" 

Hubby's mom wanted to take a few of the kids to visit the gravesites of her late parents, so she told him, "We're going to see Grandpa."  He replied, "Grandpa isn't dead?"  When they got to the cemetery and were standing by the headstone, he bent down and started pulling at the grass.  Hubby asked what he was doing, and he replied, "We put dirt over Grandpa, so we need to dig it out to see him."

Feel free to go get a Kleenex.  I'll wait.

One day, I found him playing with the two year old in the big kids' "house".  "I found a hat!" he says.

Yes, it is an ancient, ugly lampshade.

We love to listen to the radio, Sirius/XM Kids Place Live to be exact.  I so enjoy it when he sings along.  I found a new favorite song last week when "Yellow Submarine" came on.  Sing with me:  We all live in a yellow submarine"  (This is when the three year old belted out a "What?" )  A yellow submarine ("What?") etc, etc.

It is amazing that he actually learns any words from the radio, though.  Whenever a child wants to talk to me, I turn the radio down, so I can hear him.  A typical drive with him goes like this:

(music playing)

radio down
Yes dear?
Is this Kid's Place Live?
Yes, dear.
radio back up
radio down
Yes, dear?
Can you please turn it up?
turn radio up a little bit louder
radio down
Yes, dear?
They're working on the road today.
Yes, I saw.
radio back up
radio down
Yes, dear?
The horses are out today!
It's a beautiful day.  I'm sure they are enjoying it.
Yes, dear?
Can you turn the radio up please?
radio up, temporarily of course

I could go on and on.  Except that I'm 40 and it's past my bedtime.  I'll just leave you with a last look at that adorable face.

Have a lovely day!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanks, Dad

Growing up, I was not a fan of history classes.  I had great teachers who came up with some fun projects, but I continued to like math much, much better.  My dad took me to a few battlefields, but I really just focused on how much he was embarrasing me with all of his questions. 

Luckily for me, I married a man who can't go past a historical marker without stopping to read it.   Our vacations took no planning.  We would drive the back-roads, say south, and stop whenever something caught our eye.  With each stop, I began to appreciate his fascination.  We'd stop at an unfinished mansion and hear the story of a family whose lifestyle came to an end with the beginning of the Civil War.  We'd stop at a battlefield and see the bloodstains still on the floor of a house that was used as a hospital.  We'd stop at a past-president's home and see the ordinary person that he really was.  I found a love of learning about the past.

We have included our children in this from the beginning, and they also enjoy all of our historical stops.  Every vacation includes at least one.  They've been on an old submarine, they've been through old statehouses, they've visited old homesteads.  And they have enjoyed them all.

This past summer, completely out of the blue, my dad asked if the kids and I would like to take a tour of the town in which my grandma, my dad, and I grew up.  How is it possible that our love of history never took us to the story of our own?  I eagerly jumped at the offer.  The kids and I piled into the van, with my dad at the wheel.  He spent more than two hours driving us around, showing and telling us of our family, as well as interesting stories of people and places around town.

We started with my grandma.  We saw the house where she was born.  We followed the route of her family literally carrying their furniture around the corner to the new house. (a house that I remember visiting when I was little)  We heard of how her family survived the Depression.  I was able to put the places with the stories that Grandma had told me over the years.

We moved on to my dad.  We saw the houses he lived in.  We saw the field where he and the neighborhood boys played baseball.  We saw the school he attended, and heard funny stories of his time there.  We went downtown and heard stories of his time as a policman. 

We then heard and saw my history.  We saw the houses where I lived.  We saw the parks where I played and the school I attended.  I was able to jump in and tell the kids some stories about me and their aunt and uncles.  Dad was able to tell the real story behind some of my memories.

We ended the tour with luch at a resaurant started by my grandma's uncle.  My grandma, my dad, and I all worked there.  There is even a picture on the wall telling of our family being the only one to have four generations work there.  It was a wonderful morning for all of us, and it is the perfect example of why we go through the immense time and effort to go home so many times each year.

On Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the kids and I went to Dad's house to get a start on the food for the next day.    We weren't in the house five minutes when he said that he wanted to show us something.  He first explained to the kids that he was a Marine in the Vietnam War.  I knew this, and had heard a few stories.  But he went on to say that he had been watching a TV special about the war on Veteran's Day.  For the first time, he actually saw footage from the battles he was in.  Goosebumps popped up all over my arms as he turned on the TV.  On the screen, men were ducking behind bunkers.  Men were practically falling out of airplanes as they dropped supplies to the men below.  When a plane engulfed in flames came on, my dad said that he was on the ground and watched that plane land.  He talked to the Marines in it, and heard what conditions he was then going to be expected to fly into. (Dad was the navigator on the plane.)  View after view, my dad told us where he was and what he saw.

We've seen war footage.  We've been to battlefields and imagined what it was like to be there.  This was the first time that history smacked me in the face and left me speechless.  I literally saw what my dad had been through.  I could feel how terrified he had to have been.  I realized how many times he came close to dying.  I tear up every time I think about it. 

I know that Dad is glad to have someone to share these memories with.  It pales in comparison to how grateful I am to be the recipient of all of this family history.  And to know that my kids are also enjoying the chance to hear it from him is the best part of it all.

So thank you, Dad, for trusting us with your stories.  We will forever carry them in our hearts.  And I promise to pass them on. 

Have a lovely, history-filled day!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Birthday????

Helloooooo Forty!
Today I wake up to a new decade.  Not something I have been looking forward to.  In the middle of the night, when my thoughts run amok, it means I have one less day to spend on Earth with my family.  It means things are changing, and I hate that.
But then, once morning comes,  I can get a different perspective.  I have been given 14,600 days to live to their fullest.  I have had experiences I never thought possible.  I have been given a wonderful husband to share them with.  I have been given six beautiful children to make my days more exciting.  I have been given friends and family to make life more enjoyable.  My birthday is really a chance to celebrate what I have done with the gift 14,600 days. 

So, happy birthday to me!  Yeah 40! 

The only people that may not be so happy about celebrating my 40th would be my parents.  I can hear both of them now...  "I have a child who is 40?!?!?!?"

Read more blessings at He Sows, She Sows.

Have a lovely day!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

20 years in 40 mintues starting.... NOW

So I go to my 9 year old's basketball game prepared for the usual excitement.  A bunch of kids who have had two practices trying to play something that resembles an actual game always makes me smile. 

I was certainly not expecting to see a friend from high school.  In the twenty years since I graduated from my Catholic high school with 87 other kids in a town six hours away from here, I have not once run into someone from my class.  But there he was.  Sitting behind me to watch his son who played on the team my son was about to face.     

We had not seen each other since graduation.  Let's just say that our class has never really had it together enough to get those reunions planned.  So we were faced with the challenge of catching up on twenty years while we watched our boys play four six-minute quarters of basketball

The last time we saw each other, I was a weird combination of nerd and jock off to college on an athletic scholarship.  He was a fun, likeable kid mourning the sudden death of his father while trying to help his mom and go to college.  And here we are now, closing in on 40.  We were both glad that we hadn't gotten too many wrinkles/gained too much weight/lost too much hair to be unrecognizeable!

First order of business was to size up the competition.  Knowing I was an athlete back in the day, the first questions out of his mouth were:
  1.  Which one is your son?
  2.  Is he fast?

Luckily for him, it didn't matter how fast my son is or isn't.  Our family is full of soccer players who aren't allowed to use their hands.  We aren't exactly adept at the whole passing, catching, shooting thing.

I didn't need to ask which boy was his.  He looks exactly like his father.

We then moved on to the most logical topic.  Who do you still keep in touch with?  Names that I haven't thought about in years came rolling back.  Can't remember the names of half the people in my current church, but I remember the name of the kid who had one math class with me.

We briefly discussed our spouses and children, and came to find out that not only do we both have 9 year old sons, but we both have 11 year old girls.  And we both seem to have kids leaning towards the nerdy side.  Just like us.

The game ended too soon, but both of our boys did well.  His made a 2 point basket, and mine made a free throw. We made quick introductions to our kids, a vague see you later, and we went our separate ways.  (It was 8:30 on a school night, after all!)

For twenty years my life has been full of moves which required me to constantly meet new people.  It takes so long to go from acquaintance to friend to family-like.  Even living in this same area for the past 13 years, people here have never met my family.   They don't know what I was like before I walked with a child on my hip.  I have to tell them and explain things that have happened to me. 

It was quite odd to go the other direction.  Here was a person who didn't know me in my current phase, but knows so much about me from my teen years.  We didn't have to explain things.  Our current lives made sense.  (Although, I didn't have time to tell him that we live on a hobby farm.  That might surprise him!)

We may go out for a night with our spouses.  We may get our kids together.  We may see each other at future school events.  We may never see each other again.  Who knows?  It was just nice to chat with someone I both don't know, but have known all of my life.

Have a lovley day!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What happened here?

Every once in a while, our family has a ridiculously busy day.  On those days, my hubby and I only see each other for a total of 3 minutes.  Enough time to exchange children, a quick kiss, and the two most important pieces of information the other must know.  That oftentimes leaves me to be detective.  I must look at the clues to figure out what happened and what I need to do about it, if anything.

In the past few days, I have had to put my detective skills into action.  I have found:

A pile of wood in our piano room.  Not usually a place we store wood.  Odd sizes show that the pieces have been cut already.  A tour of the house, and I find that the big boys' room smells like a lumberyard.  Ah, hubby must have replaced the slats in the bunk bed.  Yeah!

I also found: 

The sheets from the two year old's bed, as well as his pajamas and blankie.  They are giving up a most unpleasant odor.  Knowing the two year old hasn't been feeling himself the last few days, I'm going to guess that he got sick in his bed.  Laundry is in my immediate future.

The next morning, I go to get the two year old out of bed and find this:

Why is he using a beach towel for a blanket?  I can only guess that when hubby changed the messy sheets, he couldn't find the blankets.  Found the sheets, but not the blankets.  Need to show him where they are.  (Mind you, I don't have some crazy organizational system.  The blankets are right next to the sheets in the closet.  Don't know how he missed them.)

Sometimes, as I know all moms with multiple children must, I need to figure out what happened, but also who did it.

The other day, I found this:

Yes, that is a monstrously large piece of our wallpaper ripped off the wall.  The 30 foot vaulted wall going up the stairs.  Which are directly in front of the front door.  The first thing you see when you come into the house.  And those are pieces of the wallpaper on the steps, so a simple gluing ain't gonna fix this problem.  The entire family was home when this was done, so everyone is a suspect.  But the fact that the tear is almost exactly as tall as the two year old's reach, I'm confident that I can narrow my search to a particular person of interest. 

I find it quite ironic that with the birth of each child, I lost more brain cells but also gained more mysteries that require the use of extra brain power. 

Have a lovely, mystery-free day!

Monday, November 14, 2011

I'm Blessed

Today I am following in He Sows, She Sows footsteps and reminding myself of the many ways I am blessed.  You can see her list here.  As for me...

On Friday I was able to have breakfast with a dear friend.  We usually only get to see each other for a quick hug after church, but since I was driving the kids to school on Friday, we made a date.  She is an inspiring Christian woman, and we both left feeling inspired and refuvinated.  I am blessed to have many good friends who have become family to us.

This weekend was the annual shopping trip with my mom and sister.  I am so grateful to have this time with her, as she managed to live through both a complete blockage in her heart as well as cervical cancer, all in the last two years.  I am also grateful for my husband, who encourages me to take the time away to be with my mom.

My Lupus has been taking a break, and I am so glad to be able to do all of the activities I love to do.  I'm even grateful that I can clean my house without getting too tired or feeling too much pain.

I am grateful for the warm weather.  I get cold so very easily, and this warm weather in November thrills me to no end.

I am thankful for a washing machine to clean all of the clothes and sheets that were vomited on over the weekend.  And I am so happy that the two little ones are feeling much better today.

I know there is more, but one of those little ones is waking up.  I'm grateful for the hour and a half of peace I got!

Have a lovely, blessings-filled day!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Will He Eat It?

Each day I make breakfast and dinner.  The children get to choose what they will eat for lunch, as long as a fruit or vegetable is included in the meal.  The rule goes, you do not have to eat anything that I make, but you don't get anything besides what I make.  Because we have this rule, I rarely make casseroles.  We have a meat and sides to go with it, so I know that each person will like at least one thing on the table.  It is a rare day that someone goes with just a glass of milk for dinner.

It has worked well for us, and over the years our kids have chosen to try more and more things.  The two year old is just taking a heck of a lot longer than the others did to make those new choices.

Some things we do to encourage little ones to try new things:

- dice up a fruit on a cutting board and let all of the children eat off of it

- give the children scoops of peanut butter on their plates to dip the fruit in

- put the new food in a tortilla wrap or on a stick

- eat while we harvesting from the garden (since we have an organic garden)

- if all else fails, put ketchup on it

To date, these are the only fruits and vegetables the two year old will eat:

The sweet potato must be baked and plain, the carrots are boiled, the pair must be juicy, and the banana must be free of dark spots and peeled by no one but him.

He has eaten a whole plate of green beans once, and liked mixed veggies for about 3 days.  But that was long ago. 

Until today.  Out of the blue he asked for an apple for lunch.  I immediately cut it up for him before he could change his mind and ask for a banana. 

The bite of apple had to go through a rigorous testing.

But once it passed inspection, 

victory was mine!  Well, his really.  But you know how we parents are judged by what our children will eat.  And Thanksgiving is coming.  Lots of relatives with lots of opinions. 

At this very moment I have just had a bit of a revelation.  As I write this post, I am eating lunch.  At least 5 days of the week my lunch consists of a toasted turkey sandwich, an apple, one other fruit, and some peanut M&M's.  For breakfast at least 5 days a week I eat a bowl of cereal, a hard-boiled egg, a banana, and a glass of milk.  Could it be that my two year old simply acts like me?????   It's not that I don't like other foods.  I just like a routine.  It isn't that he knows what I eat.  I eat breakfast and lunch while the kids are sleeping.  Perhaps he's not picky at all.  Maybe he just likes things to be the same. 

Guess I need to solve a different kind of problem.  Because regardless of whether he's picky or unwilling to change, he has exactly two weeks to start liking turkey.

Have a lovely, fruit-filled day!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Our mutual distrust

The chickens and I do not get along.  Actually, a coop full of them make me very nervous.  There.  I said it.  I am a chicken farmer who is afraid of her chickens.  I'm guessing there is no support group for me.

Sure, a chicken is adorable when it is only a few days old.

What is to be afraid of?

But those cute little chicks grow.  At four weeks, they are no longer cute.

This is the age when you will last see me or my kids pick up a chicken.  And then it is only because we need to move them to their permanent home.

At that point, our previously negotiated terms of agreement kick in.  (Yes, I do talk to the chickens as they grow.)  I promise to:

1. Supplement their diet with treats from the garden.

2.  Give them a nice big yard to scratch around in.

3.  Keep Roy the Wonder dog tied up when they are enjoying said yard.

4.  Leave them alone when they are sitting on a clutch.  (This one is really for me.  There is not a chance in this world that I will put my hand under a chicken to mark or collect her eggs.)  I don't have a photo of a hen in the nest, as I leave them alone when they are sitting on a clutch.

In return, the chickens promise to:

1.  Lay eggs.  Not in the yard.  Not under a tree.  Not in a boat.  Not with a goat.  Not on a train, but they should in the rain.

Ok, that's pretty much all they promise to do.  I would prefer that they not fly anywhere near my head, but they are tough negotiators.  I couldn't get them to agree to it.

One addendum has been made to this contract.  It has to do with the roosters.

We don't intentionally get roosters.  We order 25 hens.  Too bad it's not an exact science.  We ALWAYS get at least one rooster in the mix.  They are allowed to stay as long as they play nice and act like a hen.  As soon as one looks to be getting too big for his britches and attacks a human, into the "rooster and noodles" he goes.

So, the chickens keep one eye on me

and I will keep one eye on them.  And we'll all live happily ever after.

Have a lovely, egg-filled day!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Oh, what a day!

Today is the kind of day to forget the chores that need to be done and move the party outside. 

It is a day to play some frisbee.

A day to plant a garden with electric fence flags.

A day to go for a swing.

A day to laugh at the jack-o-lanterns that are starting to look like Grandpa without his teeth.

A day to play under a canopy of beautiful leaves.

A day to finish the morning with a picnic on the porch where the dogs won't try to eat our sandwiches.

There aren't many more of these warm, breezy days left.  We are going to take advantage of every single one of them.

Have a lovely, chore-free day!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How We Do Halloween

Every year it is the same.  The two months leading up to Halloween are soccer, soccer, soccer.  I don't even have time to think about Halloween, let alone do anything about it.  The last weekend of October is always our home field's soccer tournament.  It is a fun weekend with a Halloween theme, but it means a ton of games and our volunteer shifts.  This is how the past four days have gone:

Friday:  School lets out, construction on the drive home means it takes almost an hour, and we have to stop to buy chicken food, too.  Have a few minutes to stop at the farmer's stand down the street for each child to pick out his pumpkin.  I prepare dinner, but we don't get to eat at home.  Two kids have soccer games at 5:45, so the whole family goes to the fields.  Dinner is packed up and taken with us.   

Saturday:  6:00 wake up and get the kids and car ready for the day.  We need food, uniforms, hair and face paint (It is a Halloween tourney!) clothing for all weather, and things to keep the little boys busy.  One parent and 2 kids need to be at the field by 7:30.  Rest of us go at 9:00.  Watch games and work 2 shifts during the day, while all the while trying to keep tabs on Grandma, who is driving in from out of town to watch a few games.  Finally get to come home for a couple of hours at 2:30.  Listen to the two little boys NOT nap for an hour while we clean out the car, do chores, and regroup.  Go back to the field for a game at 5:40, which actually ended up starting half an hour late.  Got home at 7:30. 

Sunday:  Same start as Saturday, but at 10:15 head to church.  Be back for the rest of the games and volunteering.  No one gets to go home until the last game is over at 5:00.  Clean out the car we've been living out of, have some leftovers for dinner, take turns trying to get the "temporary" red hair paint out of 6 blonde kids.  Now we can turn our attention to Halloween.  Roll the pumpkins into the house to carve.  Make a big mess, clean up the big mess, collapse.

Monday:  6:00 get up and get big kids off to school.  Alternate between getting the house back in order and painting the three year old's costume.  Get a bunch of laundry done (including 3 costumes that a few of the children will be wearing tonight) and read lots of books to the little ones to make up for the neglect over the weekend.  2:00 head to school to pick up the big kids.  Stop at the fabric store to buy the material needed for the 10 year old's costume.  Stop at a Halloween store to let the 11 year old pick something out to wear.  Go to the 4:00 dentist appt. for two kids.  (Six months ago I wasn't thinking that Halloween was on Oct. 31!)  Make two appts for follow ups to pull one stubborn baby tooth and seal four deep molars.  Pick up some pizza on the way home for dinner.  5:45 get home, do chores, eat, frantically cut, pin, staple, tie, and throw together six costumes.  Light jack-o-lanterns, take photos, go trick-or-treating. 

When we got home, it was the kids' favorite part.  Throw off the costumes and prepare for "The Big Trade".  The kids organize their candy from favorite to least favorite, then start shouting out things like, "Any one want a Tootsie Roll?  (They always try to get rid of those first.)  "What will you give me for a Reese's?"  No one eats a thing until at least five trades have been made. 

To show their gratitude for all of the work I put into their soccer tournament and Halloween costumes, the children are forced to share their candy with me.  Luckily for them, I only want one type of candy.  I must have their Butterfingers.  Notice anything with the "take" from this year's trick-or-treating?

Not one Butterfinger.  For the first time in 13 years, not one person handed out Butterfingers.  How is this possible?  I don't buy them, because no one comes to our house.  (We learned that our house was known as the haunted house.  Kids dare each other to walk up our long driveway to knock on the door.  No one ever gets farther than halfway up the drive.)  I rely on our neighbors to hook me up.  Granted, they don't know that I rely on them, but still. 

Finally, the candy is put away, the kids drag themselves upstairs to get ready for bed, and the hubby and I get to relax, aka sleep. 

Finally, on Tuesday, I rest.  Ha!

Have a lovely, deadline-free day!