Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Tale of Horror: Frankenmom

There was a monster that lurked in my mind. This monster sometimes kept me up at night, prowling around the edges of my thoughts. Sometimes she jumped to the forefront with vicious attack, leaving me only after I was completely shaken. I finally acknowledged this monster and vanquished her from my life. I call her Frankenmom.

Just who was Frankenmom? Imagine a creature that stitched together all the BEST qualities of other women. She is the best of homemaking, mothering, church practice, marriage, craftiness, personality, taste, humor, and virtue. In my muddled mind I had learned to compare myself to this creature of “best” qualities. Frankenmom reminded me of what I wasn’t and in striving toward her ideal, I lost track of the talents I did have.

There was an even darker side to Frankenmom. Often, she bore two faces. She had a home that was quaint and filled with children’s projects and piles of comfy books. But at the same time, her house was catalog perfect, roomy and spotless. She watched no TV while staying on top of all Pop Culture. Her children were dressed like models but at the same time having a wild, cute, I-dressed-myself-and-am-allowed-my-own-personality look. Don’t even get me started on her husband and marriage relationship!! With this duality, I was doomed to be haunted. I couldn’t have everything I coveted in Frankenmom; sometimes I was torn between two incompatible ideals.

I thought I was OK because I didn’t compare myself to others. I could see that they had talents and faults just like me. But somehow I morphed all great things into Frankenmom. If Frankenmom can spend all her time on charity work, why couldn’t I? If her house was perfect, why not mine? If her relationships with everyone were wonderful, why not mine? If I knew someone could do it, why couldn’t I? I WANTED TO BECOME FRANKENMOM!!!
The biggest step to vanquishing Frankenmom was to acknowledge her existence. What made her a monster? No one can be perfect at everything. It was the discarded parts that would have given this monster human proportion. A great cook may have an untidy house. The spotless cleaner might be a terrible public speaker. The inspirational speaker might not recognize a sewing machine. And so on.

The next step was to decide on what talents I wanted to focus. Instead of letting the perfect woman, that terrible monster, loom over me, I turned to what I really wanted. Instead of worrying people may not mistake my home as Frankenmom’s lair, I began to buy things for my home simply because I liked them and, soon, my own style immerged. Instead of worrying I would be left out if I didn’t master all craft and homemaking skills like Frankenmom had, I focused on the ones that brought me the most joy. I started trying to understand the gospel at my level, acquiring knowledge and habits line upon line instead of being paralyzed by fear that people would see I wasn’t yet at Frankenmom’s level.

Sometimes Frankenmom still tries to force herself into my life. But now I see her for the monster she has always been. I am ME and I don’t want to be Frankenmom anymore!!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Get Your Hands Dirty Day



That big
box is the last load from our movers. They FedEx-ed it to us. 415 lbs (including our TV, a small recliner, a drill press, and DeWalt compound miter saw, several other various items, and a couple big boxes full of things). I am still unclear why they thought it was OK to leave that stuff behind.

Needless to say, I will not be doing a lot of lifting today. My back and shoulders are so sore!! I carried to the basement all our camping gear, a pair of skis, the compound miter saw, a table saw (hiding behind the box on the top picture), two boxes of small tools, a carpet, and 3 folding tables. I made Peter carry down the drill press, it was too heavy! I also found 4 huge bags of soda cans~ in CT you have to pay a "recycling deposit" with every can you buy. If you bring the cans back and put them in a recycling machine (one at a time, it takes forever) you get the money back. Otherwise we would recycle them with the rest of our stuff and not accumulate bags of them~ 6 lamps that I threw away, a pile of boxes I folded down, dead crickets and old spider webs, my bundt pan, Lincoln logs and Mr Potato Head accessories, and TONS of other things. I also tore down the entertainment center. I have to find out how to do large item pickup, right now I have a HUGE pile covered in a tarp at the top of my driveway.

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Rainy Day (or Two)

So the last few days have been very rainy. Get up in the middle of the night to close all the windows rainy. No pause between the lightening and thunder rainy. Saw waves at the beach for the 1st time rainy. That has meant a lot of time inside. My kids were thrilled (I have installed a no TV unless it is raining policy after they overindulged themselves last week). So what would you do on a rainy day? Here is what I did:

Finished one book, started one book and read two in between:

I try to keep up on what my kids are reading. There is a two fold reason- to make sure it is appropriate and to keep track of which books and genres are capturing their attention so I can keep them stocked with books that they like and want to read. Anyway, 2 1/2 of the books were from a series my oldest two are reading and the other was from my favorite author, Charles Dickens.

Finished and scanned some Scrapbook Pages:

These have been in my "finished and need to be scanned" pile or "layout done, needs title and journaling" pile for way too long. Finally emptied the "finished" pile and made a dent in the "layout done" pile. Pictures of the pages are in the upper right sidebar. If you are late to read this and HAVE to see the pictures I finished yesterday, click on the link to Later Scrapbook and look for pages done in September, October, and November of 2006.

Played some Games:

Peter soundly beat me at Chaos. Now that I think about it, he won at Qwirkle, too. Lucky day for him! (And in case you can't tell we are MindWare addicts. They not only make games that we love- Qwirkle, Set, Chaos, Gobblet- they also make my favorite educational toys.)

Got (a little) Cleaned and organized:

I got done some of the things that I have been putting off. Like mopping the floors (yes Tami I didn't mop my floors since you were here till yesterday); washing the sleeping bags and denim blankets from Trek; putting our multitude of CDs into one of 3 CD organizers: computer programs, computer games, audio; and converting my ever growing pile of soda lids into My Coke Reward points (did I mention that my husband RUNS on soda?) . I also got the rest of the laundry finished, sorted, and folded, but that wasn't put off, just regular cleaning.

Made some Cookies:

I'd misplaced my no-bake cookie recipe so while ruffling through my cookbooks, I madly called around to see if any sisters had one. My ruffling beat my sisters calling back (none answered!) and I finally got them made. Less than 5 minutes to make. Less than 5 minutes to set. Less than 5 minutes to be completely eaten. A productive 15 minutes of my day. Anyway, I was going to make caramel popcorn, only to realize I was out of karo syrup. Next week, I promise. No pictures, though. I was busy fending for my share of the cookies!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A Company Day

Tuesday was a pretty busy day for us. Peter had a golf date with a couple of guys from church and their wives and kids came over to play with his wife and kids. I spent the morning cleaning and before everyone came, we went out to run a few errands and buy a new picnic table for outside. They said they could deliver that day, but we didn't expect the table there before we got home (it was)!! We got home around one and the two families arrived around 1:30 so the guys could make their 2:30 tee time.

It was a great day spent almost entirely outside. The kids (13 of them) played out on the beach and then rode all the bikes, scooters, and skateboards we own around our street. The women enjoyed the sun, beach, and swing and talked. Once the men finally got home, we used our grill for the 1st time in CT and made a yummy dinner. Did I mention they didn't get home till around 8? After years of golf, you think I would have realized that the game wouldn't be over till late BEFORE they left. But no such luck. We couldn't start without them because Peter was bringing home the propane!!

It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed having company over, especially ones who can handle a little chaos (the only kind that can be truly comfortable at our house). I know my two friends took pictures, some really cool looking, but I was too lazy to go in and get my camera. So this is my one snapshot for the day, isn't that a neat design for a picnic table?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Discovery Day

Monday was a good recovery day from all our vacation (which was at our own house, but vacation none the less). We got back into our routines and even found some time outside. Here is a list of other things we found that day:

  • A Jellyfish Graveyard

  • A dehumidifier for the basement (on a shelf at WalMart)

  • Sea Glass

  • Elise's missing clothes (mixed in with Joseph's in his room)

  • This quote I liked in the book I'm reading:

"he had expected neither to walk on pavements of gold, nor to lie on beds of roses; if he had had any such exalted expectation, he would not have prospered. He had expected labour, and he found it, and did it and made the best of it. In this, his prosperity consisted." -A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

  • A package in the mail

  • An inflatable wheel sent by my mother to my children and now affectionately known as "the hamster wheel"

  • A huge horseshoe crab

  • Someone's discarded tennis shoe

  • Joseph's missing flip flops (on a beach two rock climbs over)

  • A shovel (the beach between ours and the flip flops)

  • That the hammock stand I finally found was out of stock :(

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Someone finally took me up on my offer

I have wanted to have company come and visit us at our new home. After all, for the next 11 1/2 months we are living right on the ocean. What better time to visit? I was beginning to worry that no one would take me up on my offer, but Tami and Jared finally relented to my constant invitations. They have been here for the last week and we have had a lot of fun together. It was nice to finally meet my nephew (Dallin) and see Madison with her cochlear implant. Matthew loved baby Dallin. He ALWAYS wanting to hold "bebe", unfortunately even when Dallin was asleep. Matthew also seemed in constant battle with Maddie- imagine him biting and her grabbing his hair. When they weren't fighting, they were quite cute together. The only sad part was Peter was working like a dog this week. One of his new hires didn't get her CT license in time and guess who got to pick up the shifts she had scheduled? I'll give you a hint, he worked 16 hours today- 10 originally scheduled for him and finishing off the 6 he couldn't find anyone else to cover- and will probably be doing the same tomorrow. Oh yeah, the older two boys were at cub scout day camp the whole week from 8:30 - 5:00 and I was gone every day from 3:30-5 picking them up, but despite those two things, we still found plenty of time to enjoy each others company.

Here are some highlights of our week with visitors:


    Swimming at beach

    Covering in sand at the beach

    Sitting in the yard looking at beach

    Kayaking at beach (this was Jared and Madison's favorite I think. Thanks for letting us borrow it Channing!)

~We did get out off the beach occasionally~

Submarine museum

Book Barn

Chili's (remember the keys!)

Settlers of Catan game- Tami kicked our butts, even though they had never played the knights expansion before

Tami went to CVS 30 times I think

Borders & Toys 'R' Us

Date night to see the Dark Knight (at the opening for those young, spry kiddos and Saturday at 7 for the older, more brittle couple)

Church on Sunday

I was very sad to see them go. But on the flip side, if anyone is planning to come to the Northeast anytime soon . . . We let you stay in our master bedroom with the ocean view. You'll have to ask Tami and Jared, it is incredible!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

How A Good Day Ended BADLY

*Some of you may have noticed I have a HUGE penny on my key chain. This is not only because I love Abraham Lincoln (which I do, my favorite biography of him is here), but to prevent stories like the one I am about to tell from happening. It is for the same reason I have a huge clip on the key ring and you often will see me with my keys clipped to my belt loop.*

With my sister and her family visiting, Peter working the night shift (with meetings during the day) and the boys at cub scout day camp (30 minutes away), this has been a busy week. Yesterday was especially so. Here is how it went:
  • I got the boys to my friend's house (she drives them up to camp in the morning). Since I only had time to do half my shopping yesterday, I stopped at BJ's on the way home. Matthew and Joseph were with me because I felt too guilty to leave all my kids with my sister that early in the morning.
  • I got home, put away all the groceries (the day before I had only bothered to put away the fridge and freezer stuff), and tried to clean up for a while.
  • My friend came over to play and after eating a quick lunch and gabbing for a while we made it outside. We spent enough time out on the sand bar that I burned in all the places my old swimsuit covered and my new one does not! I always enjoy having company over, it makes the beach even more enjoyable and my kids like having swimmates.
  • I had to HURRY to pick up the boys from camp (there are my two, two other brothers, and one other boy). Luckily Peter woke up in time to come with me and we had a whole 1 1/2 hours to catch up on our lives. The boys had been dying to have their friends stay late, so today was the day chosen to let them play an extra hour before their families came to pick them up. That meant more time for me out on the beach.
  • We realized (a little late), that due to Peter's schedule, the only time we could take my sister out to eat was if we went that night. The boys' friends were gone at 6:00 and we were able to leave by 6:30. This involved lots of yelling, threats of leaving children behind, and dressing Matthew over his sandy body. Still, we made it out and were sitting at Chilli's to eat by 7:10.
  • Dinner is always "fun" out. Peter had to get his salad to go (had to leave by 7:45 for work). That left us three adults to 8 children, still a better ratio than normal!! Matthew only dumped 3/4 of his food on the floor and since they had us in a corner, it wasn't too big a deal.
  • We left the restaurant around 8:30 and, as you could expect, I was pretty tired and ready to get home and send the kids to bed. This is when the whole great, fun, exhausting day crashed down like a house of cards . . .

Getting into the car, I reached for my keys. Not in their normal spot. So I checked the diaper bag pockets. Still no keys. Jean pockets? No luck. My brother in law Jared went back into the restaurant. Still no keys. Now, we were in a hurry to get into the restaurant so Peter could eat before he went to work. While driving I had attempted to make a car full of sweaty, sandy, oceany kids presentable. I remembered washing off Matthew with a wetwipe before taking him out of the car and my hands had to be empty to do this. You all know what this means!! ARGGG! Now I have 6 tired slap-happy children rambunctiously tearing through the parking lot and one tired mom trying hard not to slap them. Luckily, my sister's family can't possibly fit in my car and so we had some transportation. I drew them a map to the hospital, called and had Peter paged at work and watched my sister drive away. If you know New London, you know there was a 50% chance they got from Chili's to the hospital without getting lost.

Now, AC Moore is in the same shopping complex as Chili's, howbeit all the way across the huge parking lot. I know they close at 9, and it was now 8:45, but I thought there might be a chance I could get there in time to buy something. If only I could keep the kids occupied enough to save some portion of my sanity (plus, they ALL decided they were going to wet their pants if I didn't find a bathroom soon). So across the complex we trudged, carrying Matthew with my sunburned arms because the stroller was IN the car. Got there at 8:50 (much to the chagrin of the employees). A stop at the bathrooms and a coloring book and box of crayons later, we left the store and trudged back to Chili's parking lot. As we walked up, in pulled Tami and Jared. Now I expected them to take 30 minutes and only 15 had transpired, so I was sure they had gotten lost. No, they must have bent time and space and returned with Peter's spare key. And, when I finally opened the door, next to Matthew's car seat sat my keys.

Here is my "regular" spot, where my keys should have been. I have attached a key ring directly to the diaper bag to keep them findable:

*And on an unrelated note, when I unpacked my books, my favorite Abe Lincoln biography (A Team of Rivals) was missing. If I loaned it out to someone and forgot, please let me know!*

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Not an EXPERT yet

So, after 11 1/2 years and 6 kids you would think that I have parenting down pat, but I am always learning new things (or am being reminded of things I used to do, but have gotten out of practice). In fact, I learn from Tami and Andrea with their two year olds and new little babies all the time. The other day, Andrea was telling me she enforced time out with my niece and (surprise) it was just what I needed for Joseph.

Tami is here visiting me and yesterday she was telling her little girl she could have popcorn after she picked up the crayons. She told me that her coach (helping Madison stay on track developmentally despite being deaf) told her to hold up the right number of fingers and count off what you want them to do as you point (IE first pick up crayons, then eat popcorn). Laughing, I called over to Matthew: "Matthew first, pick up crayons, then you can have popcorn," pointing on my fingers. I kid you not, he looked over at me, shrugged, and started picking up crayons. When he was done he walked over to the microwave and waited for his popcorn.

Now, if you had asked me, I would have told you he was too little to understand being asked to do chores (I guess that is what happens when you're the youngest, I am sure I thought my oldest was practically an adult by the time she turned two). But my youngest sibling taught me a valuable technique and showed me it is time for Matthew to join the chore world of his brothers and sisters.
So, here is where I need advice. I know that I have taught 4 kids how to go to bed. I know because we do it every night (although not always perfectly, they all sleep in their beds- or at least their rooms). Somehow I have forgotten how to teach this trick. In our first rental here in CT (which was furnished) the bedrooms were dark, scary, and the beds were not overly comfortable. Matthew slept in the extra bed in Elise's room and Joseph (scared to be alone) slept with whomever would let him. Now that we are here and have our furniture, those two boys are together in a room, but never sleep there. Every night they are in someone else's room. So how do I get two to go to bed at a reasonable time in their own room? Any suggestions welcome (I am willing to consider hog tying, but would prefer a gentler method!) And the other four have gotten lax about going to bed on time so I wouldn't mind suggestion for older kids, too.

Monday, July 14, 2008

On Miracle Whip and Mayonnaise

As I set out in life as a young woman, I was taught that “almost any good man and any good woman can have happiness and a successful marriage if both are willing to pay the price,” but always remember that “financial, social, political, and other situations may seem to have a bearing.”

Even though most obstacles are surmountable, I knew beginning with similar beliefs and traditions can make marriage life a little easier. Before we married, I knew my husband and I were starting in the best place possible. We were the same religion, grew up with similar socio-economic backgrounds, both agreed on child rearing, discipline, family size, and in-law treatment. But, 12 years later, I wonder why I was never warned about culinary traditions?

Many problems we were able to work out early in the marriage. Milk? He converted to 1% and eventually we both made the decision to become more devote skim drinkers. Soda? As I grew up with no ingrained system, it was easy to follow his Diet Cole drinking, although I am not as devoted and without his influence, would easily sink back to not drinking soda much at all (and truth be told I’ve had Pepsi a few times and prefer it, but not enough to unbalance our soda buying system). Fast food? Luckily, we agreed on this important subject: fries are best at McDonalds, but if you are craving the hamburger, it is Burger King all the way.

But on one solitary item, we have never been able to come in agreement. I hate Miracle Whip and he thinks mayonnaise has no taste. Being young and naive, I initially thought it was just a matter of time before he converted. Not realizing the passion of his taste devotion, I only bought mayonnaise. Why did it really matter, anyway? When he informed me of my mistake, I tried to convert to his way, but I can barely choke down anything covered in Miracle Whip. Unwilling to take the only other available path (not using either one), the culinary battle commenced.

After a dozen years, we have come to an uneasy truce. We have just accepted that we will always be a dual condiment family. I try to keep track of the amount of Miracle Whip in the fridge so that, though I don’t ever use it, we don’t run out. The only losers in the story are our children, always being asked to choose between their father’s and mother’s way of life. It is with great satisfaction that I can tell you, although they have made forays into my husband’s sandwich making ways, they have always come back to mayonnaise.

Of course, as their taste buds grow, and the option is always there before them, perhaps as teenagers they will choose their father’s culinary beliefs. They may even marry into a Miracle Whip family and, already exposed as impressionable children, convert. But the fact remains, unless they also find themselves in a dual condiment marriage, either Peter or I will be bringing our own jars with us when we come to visit.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ryan's Birthday

Since Peter and Elise were going to be on trek for Ryan's birthday, we celebrated a day early. Ryan wanted a cake that looked like a Wii, but I told him that would just be a frosted cake, so we settled on a Wii remote and Mario and Luigi.

We had friends over for the day and we were happy to have company for the cake and presents (we had been in the water a lot, so that explains the swimsuits and wet hair at the table). Ryan loved all his presents~ he says his favorite was the skateboard (I think Ethan agrees, he rode it more today than Ryan!).

As far as the birthday dinner . . . drum roll, please . . . Chuck E Cheese again. I forgot to mention in my post from last week- I think I must have blocked it out- that we were there last Saturday for a birthday party. The kids were all having a blast until Joseph threw a full blown, fall on the floor, kick and scream fit while there. It was the first time that had ever happened to me (and in public too!) and I was trying to escape that restaurant AS FAST AS POSSIBLE. Anyway that meant that we had unredeemed tickets calling to my children all week. No amount of "gentle pressure" could change his mind. We even

considered driving an hour to the nearest buffet restaurant (Ryan's absolute favorite!) Since it was his birthday and his choice, we finally relented, and it was easier with 2 adults. At the end of the night, the prize worker just pulled out a basket and let the kids choose 5 items each (Kirsti thought it was because they got the most tickets possible).

Anyway, Ryan is ten and getting more handsome every day. He still loves to read and do math. He likes building things and writing stories. He also loves golfing, wii, and computer. Scroll down to the last post to see a story he wrote the other day in Microsoft Word.

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Ryan's Story~

What happened to pickle town?
Book Number one.
One day, in the town of pickles, ruled by Queen Elise, something happened. The evil cucumbers, who hated the pickles, attacked pickle town. They were led by the evil king Ryan. I should start at the beginning.
One day, in foodville, two children were born. Their names were Elise and Ryan. They were unidentical twins. Their mother took Elise when the two parents were divorced. Their father took Ryan. Ryan and Elise were raised to hate each other. Ryan was taught in the evil ways. He learned dark magic from his father. Elise was taught in the light way. She was taught good magic but had less power than Ryan.

Elise became princess of Pickle town, becoming queen after her mother. She married a handsome prince named Andrew. Ryan became prince of cucumberville, becoming king after his father. He married a beautiful princess named Rachel.

As they ruled they began to get troops for war. Elise e-mailed Ryan, declaring war. Ryan accepted the war. The winner got the others kingdom, magical item, and was taught all the spells that their opponent knew. They could use any magical items. Ryan used his killing cobra staff, which could turn someone to stone if they even looked at it, because medusa’s head was on top of it. Elise used her magic wand, which could turn anything into any animal she chose. They had armies made of pickles and cucumbers. Elise owned the pickle troops, and Ryan owned the cucumber troops. It was a very juicy battle. It went on and on for 5 years. Many were killed. Others were turned to stone or turned into an animal. Both sides were eliminated by Ethan. Ethan had started battling about halfway through the war. His army was made out of peppers. He was the ruler of spicy land. His magical item was the onion staff. It could launch flaming peppers at their opponent and follow them until it hit. When all the troops were dead, they declared peace.

Ryan and Ethan teamed up and set up a plan that would destroy pickle town. During the night, they would enter pickle town, set up a pepper and cucumber bomb, and set it to explode in 12 hours. During that time, Elise could choose to go through the time of disabling the bomb, or running from pickle town to cucumberville, where there would be another bomb. Ryan and Ethan would have the bomb set to explode in 24 hours. Elise could disable the bomb and stay there, or run to spicy land, where she would be killed. If they stayed in one spot after the bomb was disabled, the troops from spicy land would go and kill them, then blow up both cities. Elise ran from both towns with 500 of her people. They were both killed and Ryan and Ethan ruled the whole land of food world for the rest of their life. They lived for 93,429,032,193 years cubed. They were able to live that long because they found the Magical Crystal of Eternity.

The End

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Pioneer Trek

Today, I sent my baby out on a pioneer trek. I was a little nervous, but I knew that Elise was going and would watch out for him and keep him safe :) Actually, even though I knew my husband was going, it was really hard for me to see her go off on a 3 day trip with other kids. Especially when I saw a young man come up and start talking to her ;) For those of you who don't know, you didn't miss Elise's birthday, she is still 11. They wanted Peter to go for medical support and his condition was he got to take Elise with him. And across his chest you see my old digital camera slung. He is under MANY threats to take pictures for the scrapbook and blog!
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