Saturday, September 25, 2010

What? French Horn Edition

Ryan with his new pet
Some kids bring puppies or kittens home, begging parents to let them stay. Not my kid, though; my kid came home with a French horn.

Apparently my 7th grader, randomly and without warning, wandered into the band room last week and asked to join. Even though we are moving in three months, the teacher let him join, let him chose an instrument, and let him bring a loaner home. Since he already has chorus for his music option, he is taking band lessons after school.

He is already in piano lessons. He has never played a French horn before. I’m not exactly sure how he knew it existed.

Nevertheless, we are now the proud guardian of a more-than-slightly-used French horn.

I don’t know if I should be proud- he does love music and takes initiative; confused- why French horn, why now?; or just plain scared- how much more noise can my poor ears take? At least I now know my Random Gene has been passed onto my children.

(I hope this doesn’t give any other family members an idea. I still won’t let them keep a pet.)

What weird things have your kids/husband come home with, leaving you scratching your head?


Thursday, September 23, 2010

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, but only literally

Today I literally woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Peter is out of town and in an act of insanity, or perhaps sheer exhaustion, when I fell into bed last night it was on his side. I woke to the alarm buzzing, and as I rolled out of bed to hit the snooze button, I hit the other half of the bed instead. Similar to attempting to climb one more step in the dark only to find you've reached the top, my stomach lurched as my preconception revolted.

I just hope my literal miscalculation does not translate into it's well known figurative counterpart.

Also, I keep my alarm on the dresser so that I must get out of bed to shut it off, and yet I always use the snooze button (more than once). One would think I would adjust the alarm to the actual time I get up.

I have no idea why I don't, even though I've realized the inconsistancy.

But this morning I only pressed snooze once.  Well, technically twice, but the second time I remembered I planned on making my inaugural attempt at German Pancakes, so I got up anyway.  My goal is to make sure the kids eat breakfast every morning and that it is something other than cereal or, sometimes, a slice of bread thrust into their hand as they are running to the bus stop.  I don't mean something other than that everyday, only half the days.

To do it everyday I would be forced to confront my 2-3 snooze habit more often.  Baby steps.

The thing I have to remind myself about baby steps is that babies may take small steps towards their goal, and they may be quite wobbly, but they sure do take a lot of them, quickly, and get up when they fall.  I think I misuse the term baby steps to mean "I'm too lazy/unmotivated to actually plan on achieving my goal."

But maybe not, as I have managed to make muffins and German pancakes this week and cereal has replaced bus-running-bread-thrusting breakfast the rest of the time (mostly).

The other thing I need to remind myself about baby steps is that I haven't seen What About Bob in years and it might be on the movies-you're-a-loser-if-you-don't-show-your-children-before-they-grow-up list.  I'm not sure about that, though, as I am a pop culture moron. 

I have crossed Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, Star Wars, and Sound of Music off that list, though.  Baby steps.

Now I am off to finish prepping for preschool, as it is my turn to host.  We are learning about the letter M so I bought M&M's and we're making M monsters.  Later, I'm making a 3D elephant cake to celebrate Joseph's birthday early as Peter will be out of town again next week. Oh, and I found out yesterday that today is only a half day at school, so the kids will be home around lunch.  Maybe a trip to the library this afternoon is in order? 

I should really try to not wake up on the wrong side of the bed anymore; it shorts out my randomness filter.


Monday, September 20, 2010

A 4-year-old Birthday Party Under the Sea

Doesn't it seem like I'm doing this a lot? With my once every 4 years rule, this is the last "friends' party" I obligated to throw for two entire years; it might take me that long to recover! So, what does one do for a 4-year-old's party when he has requested a 3-D turtle cake for the last 11 months? Make it an "Under the Sea" theme, of course!

We decorated with lots and lots of fish cut outs. There were fish everywhere! Thankfully, I found them all at the party store so I didn't have to trace them all with my projector. Did I mention the use of fish cut outs in decorating?

Given the attention span of most four-year-olds, we provided plenty of short activities:

  • magnetic fishing with activites printed on the back (that would explain the crab-walking, fish-face-making kids)
  • decorating cardboard fish to glue on gift bags
  • creating octopi from paper cups and streamers
  • reading the Rainbow Fish
  • playing "minnow, minnow, SHARK"
  • pinning fins on the fish
  • breaking shark pinatas
  • and (of course) eating cake and opening presents.

And, at least until we move in a few months, no party at our house would be complete without playing on the beach. Especially appropriate for the theme, too.

It was plenty of fun, even if the wind made it so Matthew only pretended to blow out candles. There was always the fun adrenaline rush from hearing helium filled balloons and/or those 4/$1 punching balloons randomly popping. Thanks to everyone for coming, especially Matthew's special request for his awesome primary teacher to attend. Also, thanks to my friend, VT, (whose blog is private) for taking all the pictures: they're great!

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Friday, September 17, 2010

Guest Post and Welcome to my Blog!

Today I am guest posting during the month long celebration of the Proclamation to the Family over at Chocolate on my Cranium. I posted some thoughts on prayers role in nurturing our children,  

I'd love you you to head on over and check it out.

There have been some other fantastic guest posts about family written this month at the two host blogs: Chocolate on my Cranium and We Talk of Christ.  Thanks for asking my participate Cocoa!

If you are a new visitor stopping by from my guest post, welcome!  Here are some posts of mine to get to know my blog:


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Goldilocks and the Bears are a Bunch of Liars

Lately my 4-year-old has been asking me to read stories "the kind that aren't in a book." Which means he wants me to tell him a fairy tale. Good thing I went through a Brother's Grimm stage when I was young. Also, good thing I can edit out the nightmare inducing parts. I mean have you ever read the original fairy tales? Gruesome doesn't even begin to describe them.

But I digress. I meant to tell you my epiphany after a rather riveting rendition of Goldilocks and the Three Bears the other day.

"This story is in no way based in reality!"

Aren't you shocked by my insightfulness? You might think the talking bears living in a nice forest cottage gave it away. Or perhaps the adorable blond criminal smart enough to break into a house but stupid enough to only steal porridge then take a nap.  At the very least that Goldilocks was quick enough to escape three angry bears and strong enough to survive a two story drop out a window. 

No, it was much more obvious a tip off. Goldilocks finds Baby Bear's porridge/chair/bed most inviting. No way! It is a universal law of motherhood that all children are irresistibly drawn to the possessions of the mother.

If given three bowls of porridge, no matter how wonderfully spiced and temperatured the other two are, everyone will want the mother's portion. At my home I could make everyone a gourmet meal specifically tailored to their likes and, as soon as I sit down with my peanut butter sandwich, everyone will want said sandwich. (Everyone who knows me knows this is completely hypothetical as "gourmet meal" and "specifically tailored" are not in my repertoire of cooking skills.)

CASE #2:
Look at the chairs, too. Is there a favorite Mother spot that isn't instantly coveted by every member of the household? Even if it is the bathroom? Totally unrealistic that Goldilocks would find Baby Bear's chair "Just right."

CASE #3:
The only believable part of the story is the chosen bed. I think it is clear that the "just right" bed would be the one most recently washed and made by Mother Bear. That could easily be any of the three beds.

So why is this story propagated? One might think it is to teach proper behavior for visiting or some other rot, but I think it is lying propaganda made to trick mothers into thinking they can own something and people will actually leave it alone. Don't be taken in by this trickery. It is your bowl that will be empty, your chair broken, your housework undone. The guilty party won't even bother to jump out the window when they're done.

Now, to calm your sensitivities, Matthew likes to retell the stories immediately after I tell them. He thinks it's funny to change around the details, and I have to agree with him:


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

More information on our move

For some strange reason I am finding this post, one I promised to write, very difficult to begin.  It has nothing to do with having different company over Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday or that my youngest is having his first friend party this Saturday.  Busyness isn't really the reason.  I think I'm in prime avoidance mode because the move we are about to make it so important to me. 

Nonsense is so much easier to write about.  Maybe I should make this post instead about how Matthew tried to catch a skunk last night while all the youth (12-18) from church where at our house for a BBQ.  Luckily someone stopped him before anyone got sprayed, because as cute as a 4-year-old can be, it would be hard for a group of teenagers to forgive going to school the next day with that sort of stench.

Shoot.  See that?  I'm in optimal avoidance mode.

Let me see if I can just spit it out.

We are moving across the country in December and the decision is all on me.  I was the one who wanted it and my husband is leaving a job he loves to make me happy.  Not that I'm not happy now, it is just that Connecticut has never felt like home.  I couldn't find my groove.  As much as I love the beauty here, no matter how wonderful the people here have been, it just has never felt like home.  We are too far from any family.  It is too expensive for my frugal loving side.  My husband's job will always be too many hours.

We are moving to a town in the Pacific Northwest where I have 3 siblings living.  Peter has 2 siblings about 3 hours away.  We are driving distance from Utah and New Mexico so we can visit our parents -and other siblings, cousins, grandparents, friends- more often.  Plus, the house we are building is half the cost to buy the same here.  Peter will be working a lot less hours for nearly the same pay.  My children will no longer be the only ones their age at church.

But still, we know the downsides and struggles we will face here, and are exchanging them for unknown downsides and struggles.  I know we have wonderful friends here and are exchanging them for people unknown.  We know what we have to work around with Peter's job here, and are exchanging for unknown business and hospital systems.  (That may not seem like much, but we are moving from a large physician owned group with fantastic benefits to a independent contracting group, which means that we are going to be self-employed.) That is scary.  If it fails, it is all on me.  That is a lot of pressure.

Oh, and we are planning on moving to a home that is merely a plot of land and a floor plan right now.

The good news is that my prime avoidance for cleaning and packing happens to be what I am doing right now.  So you should be seeing a lot of me in the next couple months.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My Convolutedly Complex Road to Simplicity in Day to Day Life

With six children under the age of thirteen, I am always looking for simple ways of doing things. The flaw to this philosophy, of course, is obvious: "With six children." You see, my path to simplicity is, well, complicated.

I first began thinking about this as I was scratching my kids' names into their new toothbrushes. You heard me correctly; I was scratching their names with a thumbtack into the more expensive, vibrating toothbrushes I refuse to buy more than once a month. It is the only way to know, after the first or, if I'm lucky, second time of using them whose is the only one properly rinsed and put away.

See the simple solution for brushing teeth? See the complexity? Scratching because permanent marker wears off too quickly. Vibrating toothbrushes because regular ones require more parental involvement to properly brush than I can give every single night. Just memorizing the colors I assign would only work if I had any brain cells left after 6 pregnancies. Without the scratched evidence, I would have six kids claiming they specifically remember putting their toothbrush away. Unlike King Solomon's solution, none of them care if I cut the thing in half either. Although, King Solomon couldn't have insisted the mothers share the lone baby until the end of the month when it would be replaced, so maybe I do have it easier?

Of course, the complexity of that simple solution is nothing compared to "the System for Rotation of Seat Assignments in the Suburban with Contingencies for Only One Parent and the Resulting Empty Front Seat and/or the Taking of Two Cars with Resulting Opportunity to Drive in Dad's Car." Actually, over the summer I had another kid turn twelve and the last kid leave the 5 point harness car seat for a booster and have yet to revise the system. Chaos has ensued, but I need a refresher course in linear algebra before I can figure out the new system.  Still more simple than the brawl of letting them sit where ever they feel like.  Because they all feel like sitting in the exact same spot.  Which spot doesn't matter; if one wants it, they all want it.

Even making lunch involves a mountain of complexity.  And a mountain of food, six kids eat A LOT!  Take making the sandwiches.   Who currently prefers mayo over Miracle Whip?  Who will freak out if the mustard is forgotten?  If it isn't left off?  Whole wheat or white bread?  Maybe they prefer instead peanut butter and jelly (or is it honey, or fluff)?  Get an answer wrong and simple lunch turns into wasted bread and punishment for whining.  Far more simple to remember the preferences before I make them then deal with the consequences of making them all the same. 

Now at least  you know the information my few remaining brain cells contain.  No wonder there is no room for toothbrush colors.

If these things aren't enough to convince you of my ingeniously complex ideas to simplify my life, there's always my systems for wrapping Christmas presents* or hiding Easter Eggs.  It takes roughly 1000 more hours of prep time, but prevents headaches and/or meltdowns on the actual day.  Of and it is easier for the kids, too.

So if it looks like I have my household running smoothly (after you get your eyesight checked) I can assure you the behind the scenes of any simplicity is a system so convoluted it makes quantum theory look like child's play.  It is simple, really, having a large family is complicated. Make sense?  I didn't think so.