Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What's Been Going On

That's not a question.  I just wanted to show you a bit of what's been going on.  First, the small fry:

These are potatoes that they decided to bake in small loaf pans.  They had a great time playing "put" with them.  Put the potatoes in the pans, put them out.  Put them in the oven, put them out.  I thought their daddy was in the kitchen with them, so I was pretty surprised to walk in and see them sitting on the cold oven door like this.  Gotta be more careful with keeping the oven off-limits, I see.

And now the Angel:

She was sitting in a rounded lid to an electric griddle, spinning around and around while the babies baked their potato loaves.

And then I found this downstairs:

Isn't it nice when the brothers can foosball so nicely together?  But wait, check out the lower-left corner of the picture.  Yes, that is a boy handcuffed to the pool table.  I found out later that he had asked to be cuffed that way, as he was trying a Houdini-like stunt.  But it makes such a great picture!

And this is what has been going on at our house today.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

About Traveling With Potty-Trainers

Being a mother is not easy.  Let me say that again.  Being a mother.  Is. Not. Easy. But I get better at it as I go along.  Some of the things which troubled me as a young mother have become easier.  There are an awful lot of things I wish I'd known when I started.  I can't count the number of times I've kicked myself and shouted, "Why did it take me five (or six, or seven, or even eight) babies to figure this out?"  But I do wish I'd known then some of the things I know now.  Here is another post in a What I Wish I'd Known (or WIWIK) series.

To me, potty-training is kind of a fun adventure.  Before you think I've been sniffing one too many dirty diapers, let me tell ya - I've been sniffing too many dirty diapers.  Potty-training is the last burst of energy you have to put in to clear the hurdle to bathroom self-sufficiency.  And then we cheer.  Way to go, Mom!

During potty training, you don't go anywhere.  There isn't much worse than being in the middle of a shopping trip when the potty-trainee gets that wild look and yells, "Mom!  I gotta go!  Now!"  And you hightail it to the nearest bathroom, praying that the dam won't break.

The only thing worse is when you are on the highway, with nowhere to pull over, and the potty-trainee gets the wild look.  Then yelling erupts - from the back AND the front seats.
"I gotta go!"
"Not yet!  Hold it for another three miles!"
"I can't!"
"We're almost there!"
"Oh!  Oh!  Mom!!"

No amount of cajoling, wheedling, pleading or screaming will ever convince a little one to 1. go before you leave home (and get it ALL out), and 2. hold it until we get there.

I wish I'd known that you can put a porta-potty in your van.

Get a small garbage bag and check it for holes in the bottom.  Lay it over the little pot so all the dirty business can go it there and not come back out.  But wait!  The best part is that you open a disposable diaper and flatten it across the bottom of the pot, over the bag.  Now close the top seat of the potty, and you're all set.  When junior (or little miss) has to go, you pull over, sit them down on their own little seat that is already familiar.  When they are done, open the potty, wrap up the diaper, tie up the bag, and find the next available dumpster.  Easy pee-z.

That's all.

(Edited to add:  I just found these real travel potties, if you wanted to buy more gear for you little one.  I can't vouch for the product, but it looks easy enough.)

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Man-Card

We hear a lot about the Man-Card.  It's a big deal in a house full of boys doing their best to grow into men.  Evidently, the Man-Card is what proves your masculinity.  We don't know of anything weird that they do to add testosterone points, by the way.  It's just a given that they have The Card.

But The Card can be temporarily lost.  When a newly adolescent's voice pitches up a few octaves, we'll hear one of the other, older brothers threaten to "take away his Man-Card."  Or when a boy comes into the kitchen wearing a pink shirt, inveritably someone will ask if he still has his Man-Card.  These boys love to good-naturedly tease each other.  They get it from their dad, I'm sure.

An anonymous child came home from a double date and told me that he had lost his Man-Card.  Evidently there was some X-Box playing going on at the date, and he and the other boy had been conned into playing a Disney Princess dance-along game.  My boy, dancing like a princess.  Well.

Man, I wish I had been there to see that one!

Squishy Pants

I was up late last night, chatting with my older two teens.  Do teen boys chat?  Maybe we were just talking.  (Why do teens want to stay up late to talk to you?  They are worse that babies for not letting Mom get sleep!)

I mentioned that I thought my new skinny jeans were very comfortable.  They are much better than the last time I had skinny jeans (I pegged them myself.  In junior high.  Yikes.), when they cut off my circulation at the knee if I tried to bend them.

Alec said he liked his suit pants, and Ben said his tux pants (he wears them for symphony concerts) were the most comfortable.  "Other than a little bit of squishy, it's like not wearing anything at all!"

"Squishy?  You have squishy in your tux pants?"  I asked, confused.

"Mom! I said SWISHY!"  Turning to Alec, Ben demanded, "You heard me say swishy!"

"No," was the innocent response.  "I heard 'squishy'."

And would you like some squishy pants?  Like wearing nothing at all!  <tee hee>  It's fun to tease these great big boys.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ben? Drive?

Ben just got his learner's permit.  To drive a car.  I hyperventilate occasionally about this.

He drove home from the drivers' license division, pleased as could be, but slightly surprised that I would let him.  It took a long time to get home because: 1. I had him take all the teeny, tiny backstreets, and 2. he actually drives the spreed limit.  On the dot.  (Good for you, Ben!)

He had a birthday party to go to tonight, and really, really, really can I please Mom with a so sweet smile on my face badly wanted to drive there.  Yes, of course.  You need to practice a lot.  A lot.  Grab the Angel and put her in her carseat while I grab my wallet.  OK, so it took me 30 anxious, dancing around, can we please leave now minutes to get things settled in the house so I could leave.  Moms are like that, wanting to take care of everyone.

When I finally got out to the running and warmed-up van, I climbed into the passenger's seat and buckled up.  Ben was shaking his head.  He told me this story:

When he had buckled Angel in, he told he that we were going for a drive to take big brother to a party.  She was happy to go.  She loves going out.  But when Ben slid into the driver's seat, she started to laugh. Hard.  Ben told me she could barely get the words out, "Silly, Ben!  You can't drive!"  And then she laughed some more.

Ben shook his head again.  "I think I'm angry," he said with a smile.  "No, indignant.  Indignant is the right word."  Good thing he loves his little sister to pieces.

(By the way, Angel, I know how you feel.)

About Folding Baby Clothes

Being a mother is not easy.  Let me say that again.  Being a mother.  Is. Not. Easy. But I get better at it as I go along.  Some of the things which troubled me as a young mother have become easier.  There are an awful lot of things I wish I'd known when I started.  I can't count the number of times I've kicked myself and shouted, "Why did it take me five (or six, or seven, or even eight) babies to figure this out?"  But I do wish I'd known then some of the things I know now.  Here is another post in a What I Wish I'd Known (or WIWIK) series.

We were going on vacation with three little children: ages 4, 2, and a newborn.  As I went to their dresser to pull out some clothes for the trip, I had a little day-dream of what would happen if we all died on our travels.  Someone else would come into our house and have to clean it out.  At that moment, I emptied out the drawers and re-folded every little item, carefully, meticulously.  On subsequent vacations, I obsessively made sure that at least the top items in every drawer were folded to department-store crispness.  Slightly crazy, I think I was, and had more time than I needed.

I wish I'd known that folding baby clothes is not necessary.

I don't fold them at all anymore.  I do sort the sweet little clothes, and put each item nicely in its own drawer: shirts, pajamas, pants, sets or jumpsuits, underthings, socks.  Then close the drawer.  Clothes that are fussy (dresses, Sunday outfits) get hung in the closet.

If I have a screaming baby, dripping wet on my arm, I don't want to have to carefully go through neatly-folded piles of outfits to find the one I'm looking for.  I'd just shove it all around anyway.  Soon, the little crawlers learn to dump out their own drawers, and then I don't have to grumble as I re-fold the clothes for the five billionth time.

 I don't fold clothes again until the little ones are almost three, or when they are starting to learn to fold their own clothes.  Then I fold as I teach, and we do the clothes together.

Go ahead and judge if you'd like, but I'm happier (and quicker) when I don't have to fold tiny clothes.

That's all.  :-)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Happy Birthday, Chris!

My Chris is 14.  Just looking at that makes me feel a bit old.  And a lot bit proud of him

making bubbles for his little siblings to play in

I checked him out of school to go out to lunch.  We did the drive-through dollar menu - as much as you can eat.  He was delighted.  I enjoyed having a chance to get him all to myself, and to talk of some of the things he's been thinking lately.  My goodness, that boy is really growing up.

He ate half his lunch, rolled up the bag and stuffed it into his backpack, and asked if I could get him back to school before lunch hour was over.  He wanted to get a school lunch, and then fill in the corners with the rest of what we'd gotten.  He's hungry and growing, that boy.  He also wanted to make his buddies jealous with a bag of fast food.  Sly.

For dinner, he wanted a big vat of ramen noodles.  We had something of a salad bar - with toppings for the noodles.  We had several different seasonings (teriyaki chicken, spicy beef, taco), a couple of sauces (soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, sour cream, butter, and the creamy spinach dip that was by far the favorite!), and some toppings (bacon bits and shredded cheese).  I admit that I had my doubts, but it was a big hit with everyone.

Chris brought home a drawing he had done it art class that knocked my socks off.  I'm so impressed with this young man.  He is a whiz on the computer.  He is smart enough to pull constant straight A's.  He's starting to rock the tenor sax.  Math is so easy for him to understand.  He wants to be an architect or computer graphics artist.  And he can be.  Whatever he wants to do, he can totally go for it.

I am humbled to be the mother of such a boy, and excited to watch him as he grows.

 Happy birthday!

About Meconium

Lovely title, isn't it?

I have eight children.  Being a mother is not easy.  Let me say that again.  Being a mother.  Is. Not. Easy. But I get better at it as I go along.  Some of the things which troubled me as a young mother have become easier.  There are an awful lot of things I wish I'd known when I started.  I can't count the number of times I've kicked myself and shouted, "Why did it take me five (or six, or seven, or even eight) babies to figure this out?"  Maybe I'm just a wee bit dense.  I'd like to think I'm getting smarter.  But I do wish I'd known then some of the things I know now.  So this is my first post in a What I Wish I'd Known (or WIWIK) series.  I'll add to them as I remember.

What I Wish I'd Known about meconium:

It is sticky and black and somewhat gross.  It's hard to un-goo off your sweet little baby's new, delicate derriere.  It's a real mess.  I've even known mothers who have scrubbed hard enough to give their brand-new babies rashes.

Don't do that.  Babies are supposed to have velvety soft bottoms.  (The upper cheeks are softer and more kissable, in my opinion, but I digress).

Instead, get olive oil.  Put a small, bottle of olive oil in your newborn's changing area.  After every diaper change (starting at the very beginning!), smooth a little bit of oil (it's clean and all-natural and cheap!) on the diapered cheeks.  This keeps them soft and velvety.  And when the meconium does come, it wipes off so easily.  Like a dream.

Now go enjoy spend more time on the sweet baby and less time scraping baby tar.

That's all.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Rapunzel Hair

"Let down your golden hair!"  I loved this story as a little girl.  Maybe because I had so much thick, long hair.  Mine was mousy brown, not golden, but I still imagined myself as the girl who could throw down a beautiful rope of hair.  Imaginations are great, aren't they?

I wrote about the "Tangled" theme party my niece recently had.  Angel and I made some "Rapunzel hair" to give for the birthday.  Only, Angel wanted some, too.  We had to make two Rapunzel hairs.  The first one (on the left) was made with another pattern, and was too big.  The one on the right was juuuust right.  So that's the one I'll tell you about.  (Click on the pictures to get them big enough to see the detail.)

First of all, I have to say kudos to my incredible creative sister-in-law.  She invented these, has them for sale (only $30 each - she also makes the most adorable princess dresses to go with them!  Leave a comment if you would like her to make one for you), and showed me how to make them.  It did take longer than I thought it would, but then again, who am I kidding that I have time to make things??

I used the crown found here, and made a pattern from it.  The front of the crown is satin and medium-heavy interfacing; the back is satin and (underwear!) elastic.   I decorated it with puffy fabric painted dots (for small jewels), and stick-on pink, purple and silver jewels (I got mine at the huge-o mongo national craft store chain).

The braid is about a yard of yellow or gold-ish cotton fabric, and quilt batting.  I tucked in some ribbons and hot-glued on a bunch of flowers.

Twa-dah!  That was it!  I wish I could make things in the time I could read about them.  Now wouldn't that be nice?

Last step:  Put it on your little girl and watch her imagination kick in.  Angel loves to wear her "Punzel Hair," and wants me to make some for the babies too.  Don't think I'll go there.

Happy Tangled!

Beautiful Eyes

Been doing some thinking since yesterday's post about sad eyes.  I'm supposed to be finding and writing about things that will bring me joy, not things that will drag me down.  Don't want to sound like old Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh and be all depressed all the time.  Life is like that sometimes, but I don't have to dwell on it.  Mea Culpa.

So instead, I went and got a makeover.  Got the old plastic surgeon on the phone and had some work done.  I used Drew Barrymore as my inspiration.  Whaddya think?

I didn't like the "CoverGirl" tattoo on my forehead, and decided that being Drew Barrymore would give me a big head.  So I went Scarlett Johansson next.

Ben said this one looked fake for some reason, so I redid it again.  I did like the eyes, though.  How about Julia Roberts?

Yes!  I'm Julia Roberts!

Really, though, I'm happy to be me, the wife to my husband, the mother to my children.  I like the skin I'm in.  I'm pulling the corners of my mouth up.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sad Eyes

Sometimes when I look in the mirror, all I can see is this:

And I feel tired and worn out and un-lovely.  I see the blood-shot-ed-ness (new word!) that reminds me that, with sick kids and babies who still wake for a nighttime feeding, I really should go to bed earlier.  I see the messy brows that I really should pluck and groom.  I see the "angry line" between my eyebrows that I remember seeing on my own mother, and I really should learn to not get so mad.  I see the eyeslids which haven't seen makeup since last Sunday, and maybe the Sunday before that, and I know I really should make myself presentable for my husband.  I see the wild, wandering hair, and I really should at least comb it, and maybe even try to tame it (won't even mention the growing gray streaks).  I see the crow's feet and know that I really should try to be more happy, so I can call them "laugh lines" instead.

I really should, I really should, I really should

Why do we do this to ourselves?  Why can't I look in the mirror and see the good things?  Why is it so easy to see the good in others, but so hard to see past the bad or difficult in ourselves?

I think I need a new mirror - one that will show me this:

Or at least a big sticker to put on my mirror.  Because I'm at least as stunning as Marilyn.  Maybe I should just work on looking out and complimenting, instead of looking in and criticizing.  Yeah, maybe that's the ticket.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Loose Outlets

I was vacuuming with my little dust sucker when the plug pulled out of the wall and the vacuum stopped.  I was tempted to let slip mild cursings for the short cord, and for the loose electrical outlet (Bad words, vacuum; bad words, plug!).  But rather than letting it irritate me for more than just a moment, it made me thankful for my dad.

Several years ago, my little family was in the middle of some difficult circumstances.  My sweet dad called to let us know his next door neighbors were selling their house, and gently suggested that we might want to consider buying it.  Thinking of moving back to my hometown filled me with more peace than I'd felt for a long time.  Even my husband was happy about the prospect of moving in next door to his in-laws - I grilled him about it, wanting to be sure of his wishes.

I packed up our things, sent the sick husband ahead on a plane, and loaded the moving truck with the help of our wonderful neighbors.  That was a crazy busy day, gray and drizzly, and although I held my 6-week old baby close to me in his cozy sling, we both ended up soaked.  The little tyke was warm, and it took me a while to realize that he was helping with the wetting, but all our dry clothes were packed.

My dad and two of my brothers flew up to help.  Between the four of us, we managed to drive the new baby, four other little boys under nine, our minivan and the moving truck a thousand miles across the country.

As we stepped into our new home, I didn't realize how much my parents and brothers had done to get the place ready for us.  The had tightened a loose railings, added folding doors in front of the laundry nook in the kitchen, changed out the old crystal-ball-on-a-chain light fixtures in the bathrooms, updated the lighting in other rooms, and replaced a non-functional sliding glass door.  My mother coordinated the whole house being cleaned, and kind sisters-in-law wiped fresh stain on the old kitchen cabinets.  My dad spent hours, down on his knees, replacing old electrical outlets that were too loose to hold a plug.

Ever since, when I plug in an appliance only to have the plug fall right back out, I have a little flashback to those times when I was in need and others were there to help.  I am so blessed (and I can say good words for that!).

Monday, February 20, 2012

Happy Birthday, Eddie

Birthday season has started.  Eddie just turned nine.  For the next several weeks, we will either be having a birthday, or preparing for it.  It is the season of ice cream and presents and parties and birthday cake overdose.  Yum.  And urp.

This is the cheap-y paper banner I've hung and repaired for years.  You can get them here.  
Maybe one day I'll make a nicer one.

The day started out with a yummy breakfast of omelets, cooked by our live-in chef, Trent.  I flurried through the day, baking birthday cupcakes and collecting the presents I have been hiding.  At lunchtime, Trent checked Eddie out of school and took him to lunch.  He was thrilled!  Third-graders think it is all kinds of fun to be called down to the office and checked out.  Usually we both go, and the birthday boy gets one-on-two time with the old folks (us), but this year I was still working through stomach flu with the little ones.  We'll try again later.

After school, Eddie go to skip all of his regular chores, and dictate the menu for dinner: pizza.  It was ham and pepperoni night, eagerly wolfed down by everyone.  Trent outdid himself on the pizza dough, and I did very well to not burn them.

The moment we inhaled the last slice, we were off to the roller-skating rink.  The kids get to have parties with their friends on the even birthdays, and parties with the family on the odds.  I was a bit impressed that even the older brothers were happy to go roller skating for Ed's birthday.  It was a great family outing.  Eddie had his name called out by the DJ for a happy birthday, Alec amazed us all by zipping around the rink like Mercury, Angel had her first try on wheels (she looked like Bambi on the ice!), and the other boys took turns pushing a twin around the rink in a stroller.  Even nearly-old Mom got into the action, which she paid for with soreness for several days thereafter.

Home for chocolate cupcakes (with surprise cream filling!), ice cream and presents.  Eddie went to bed a tired and happy boy.  I love this boy with the easy grin.  I love that he likes to hug and snuggle.  I like that he strokes my hair.  I like how he, despite a quick temper, is learning how to cool down just as quickly.  I love how he scores in at least the 95th percentile on standardized tests, but spends his homework time helping out the kids who struggle.  I love how he loves to wear footie pajamas.  His heart is golden.  I love how he came into our lives just when we needed a ray of sunshine, and he hasn't quit.  Happy birthday, Eddie - we love you!

Saturday, February 18, 2012


I just finished giving five haircuts.  I'm not a beautician, by training or imagination or ambition.  But I did learn how to cut boys' hair.  I have a bunch of brothers, and I grew up watching my mother cut their hair.  When I got to be a teenager, I started practicing on the youngest brother, the one who wouldn't mind if he looked like a haystack.  (He ended up looking reasonably decent, by the way, and has no emotional scars that I know of.)

When I went away to college, I took my mother's second-best hair cutting scissors.  I used them to trim my bangs.  At the last minute, I was asked to the Homecoming dance by a sheepdog.  Actually, he was a very nice young man, a friend of mine, whose girlfriend would be out of town the day of the dance, and he needed a quick stand-in for her.  I told him I would go with him if he got a haircut.  He said he would if I did the cutting. He didn't know about my mother's scissors.  I sat him on a chair in grass, in the middle of a dormitory quad, and snipped away.  I did a pretty god job, if I do say so myself.  I have the pictures to prove it, because I did go with him to the dance.

I've been cutting hair ever since.  I don't think it's good enough to charge money for, but with seven sons (and one husband), at least I don't have to pay good money for their monthly shearings.  Let's see... if we could get an el-cheapo haircut for $7, times 8 heads of hair, times once a month for a year...  That's coming up on $3,000!

Doesn't Eddie look thrilled?

I still have those scissors, and they still work great.  The boys don't seem to mind a home-grown haircut.  Why should they?  They have home-grown hair, after all.  And so much of it, too...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Free Weights

I'm exercising.  It's a big deal, because I hate exercising.  Hate it, hate it.  OK, I hate most of it.  I like riding my bike (not biking - way too strenuous), and I like going for a nice walk.  An amble, shall we say. But my bike has flat tires, and going for a walk means pulling our yard wagon with three little people in it. Again, way too strenuous.  And it's winter.  It's hard to get out.  But I have to move - I'm getting a little bit stir-crazy all cooped up in the house.

So I decided to do a yoga video.  Partly because it might be good for me, and partly because I still can't do a sit-up since being pregnant with twins, and partly because it was 50 cents at the thrift store.  I got it for myself for Christmas.

They say leg lifts can help tone your abdominal muscles.  Looks easy, right?  Lay on your back (no problem!)...

Now lift those legs as high as you can...

And lower them back to the floor...

I forgot the part about the immaculate exercise room, the colorful mat and the cute workout clothes.  Pay no nevermind to the appearance that this lady doesn't need to exercise.

So I went into my messy living room, laid down on the floor (the easy part), in my frumpy sweats.  No sooner had I done so than the twins took advantage of what they thought was some fun Mom time, and draped themselves across my body.  C'mon guys!  This is hard enough without the free weights.  Oomph.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I'm turning 40 soon.  <sigh>  I mean, it's not like I haven't known it was coming.  It didn't even sneak up on me.  Lately, I've been very aware of its slow, ominous progression toward me.

Part of me thinks it's not a big deal.  I will be just the same person after my birthday as before, right?  Another part of me is petrified.  I'm entering a new stage of life with children graduating from high school, the end of baby-daze, and filled with scary unknowns.  I could just say, as others I've heard, "I'm not 40 - I'm 20 with 20 years of experience."  But I'm actually glad to not have to do 20 over again.  It wasn't an awful year, by any means (I got engaged to an amazing man!  Woot!), but I am happy to be here and not there.  Or I could say, "Dang!  Look at me now!  I'm hot at 40!"  <oh... yes... snorting with laughter>

I got a letter in the mail.  I think it was supposed to be a birthday card.  But it didn't help me to feel very cheered up about my birthday.  Not.  At.  All.

Sorry the paper is a little bit crumply.  My aging hands may have nearly wadded it up.  Grr.

So, happy birthday to you!  And to send birthday happiness, we are going to tell you that you are now in the 40 to 65 age bracket!  And please come down and have an exam party with us!  With fun party games like this!

Wow.  I can hardly wait to schedule my appointment.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Good Stuff

I had to make a quick run to the grocery store the other evening, so I asked Eddie to go along with me.  I like to take one of the kids when I run errands, to have a little bit of one-on-one time.  I took the old car, the one that is older than having a a decent paint job, and older than having air bags.

"Can I sit in the front?" Eddie excitedly asked when we walked up to the car.  "Sure," was my grinning response.  Being the fifth boy, he just doesn't get to sit in the front seat.

Eddie climbed in, buckled up, and stretched out his eight-year-old legs.  "You know, Mom," he sighed, "sitting in the front is one of my pleasures in life."


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

When I was in college, I actually wore black to protest Valentine's Day.  I made up armbands with a heart in a red circle with a slash through it and distributed them to other students in my classes.  I even made a movie of a heart being blown up for an assignment in a multimedia class.  I wasn't fond of the day.  I thought it was silly to have a day when lovers were required to buy things to prove their affection.  I was pretty cynical then.

Now, I still think it is silly to have ONLY one day to celebrate love, but I think any excuse to show love is a good one.  This year's Valentine's Day looked like this for me:

I hold many hearts in mine.  My children, my sweetheart, my parents, my brothers, my sisters...  It's all love, even though they are all so different in the way they love me, and in the way I love them.

I got a big, juicy, "Hi!" from Frederick when I walked into the room, a tender snuggle from Eddie, and a nearly-knock-you over hug from Angel.  David gave me a sincere "Thanks Mom!" when we picked him up from school after he threw up.  Eddie whispered, "I love you lots" into my ear at bedtime.  Alec told me that he liked to tell me about his day, and Ben yelled, "I love you, too!" on his way down the stairs.  I saw a beautiful, glowing sunset sent straight from Heaven.  My sweet folks brought me peanut butter M&Ms. Chris even danced with me for half a song when Trent tricked him into cutting in on us.   And Trent danced with me.  Mmmm.

I can go to bed tonight, a happy lady, because I love.  And I know that I am loved, too.

Monday, February 13, 2012


All the kidlets are in bed.  <whew>  We have family scripture study (We're almost done with Luke in the Old Testament right now), and family prayer, and then the bed-rush begins.  I almost didn't use the word rush, because it seems more like a crawl to bed, or a "whatever I can do other than going to bed."  But then I thought it was kind of like traffic during rush hour.  You want it to be going fast, but it doesn't.  Yes.  Like that.

The older boys are too big to say their prayers at Mama's knee, of course.  Except Eddie.  He still comes and kneels down in front of me to pray, although his prayer is silent, not for my ears.  I don't always know he has silently crept there, and I sometimes feel bad for continuing the "Yes, I told you to put your book down.  Go to bed.  Don't forget to brush your teeth." mothering that happens at the end of the day, when I really should be cherishing a little moment to witness my son reaching up to Heaven.

I do enjoy listening to their prayers, when they will let me.  David's prayers have gotten very sincere (and long), and it's fun for me to know what kinds of things are important to him.  I especially like the prayers of the tiny tots.  For a few years, Ben always began his prayer by addressing "Hammy Butter."  It was hard not to laugh, or at least chuckle a little.  Here is little miss Angel's prayer tonight, for your amusement.

Mom:  Let's say your prayers now.
Angel: I can do it by mineself!  Heavenly Father, thank you for the day.  Thank you for me.  (pause)  Thank you for me.  Thank you for mine family... (long pause)  Oh!  (Her eyes fly open)  I haf a pinch on mine cheek!  Georgie pinched me and left an owie.
Mom:  (prompting) Bless my cheek to feel better.
Angel:  Bless mine pinch to get all better.  Thank you for me.  Oh!  I think I haf a yucky in mine nose!
Mom: (trying to keep things on track) Help me to sleep well.
Angel:  I do haf a yucky in mine nose!  (digs it out)  Here, Mom.  Take it!
Mom: (giving up) Amen.
Angel:  No!  I haf to say help me to sleep well!
Mom:  Go ahead then.
Angel:  Thank you for me.  Help me sheep, Jesus, amen.

And amen.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Beachy Waves Tutorial

I have difficult hair.  Everyone who has said that in the last few days, raise your hands.  All together now!  I'm always on the lookout for hairstyles that are easy to do and maintain, and that my particular hairs won't object too strongly to.  I've noticed the "beachy waves" style cropping up all over the place, and I like it.

I've found a picture of the hair-do for you, complete with beach and waves:
Here is an involved how-to.

I'll imagine that she is looking down, with love, at the three or four small children who are holding her perfectly bronzed hands.  This is how I look, too.

But I have a more better, easier-est way to achieve this popular look, and I'll even share it with you.  For free.

STEP ONE: wash your hair.  (later in the evening works best.)

STEP TWO: put a towel over your pillow.  (so your damp hair doesn't soak your pillow and wake you up by putting your face in the wet spot.  Yuck.)

STEP THREE:  sleep with hunky husbandly guy.  (Hi, Mom!  Now you know what I do at night!)

STEP FOUR: in the morning, don't comb it.

Ta da!  That's it!    (I think step three is the most vital one.)  :-)

(I forgot to mention step 1/2 which reads: have thick, unruly hair that will never do anything you want it to, and has enough wave to not be straight but not enough to be curly.  And step 4 1/2 where you can put de-frizzers in it so you won't look all wild like I do  That's the fine print.)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Crawling Out

Was it just a few days ago that I had the audacity to say out loud that the babies didn't crawl out of the crib?  I guess they took that as a challenge.  Little Georgie was the first to figure out how to monkey down the sides and get out.  Freddie was left, alone, in the crib, howling for his best buddy to come back.  Or maybe he just wanted to get out, too.  Well, it didn't take Freddie long to learn how to get out, and now they are both free.  Free!  Free at last!  So we put them down for a nap, close the door, and walk down the hall.  Then the doorknob slowly turns and two babies exultantly explode from their confines.  They are so proud of themselves!

I am nervous about them hurting themselves (or each other) by falling or getting stuck while climbing, so I devised a solution to keep them more safe.  What do you think?

It kept them in there long enough to take a picture, anyway!

We took out the old cribs, sold them on Craig's List, and bought a new, convertible crib.  We have the side rail off so it is a toddler bed, and put a step stool there so they could get in and out easily (and safely).  There goes another piece of their babyhood.  <sigh>  Sometimes I hate that they grow up.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Looks Clean To Me

We have cats.  I know, you'd think that we have enough of the two-legged variety of animals.  Exactly why we have cats is an interesting story, but I'll just say that it has to do with a mouse that ran over the top of me.  In the middle of the night.  While I was trying to sleep.  And now we have two cats.

The cats live outside, since I have a cat allergy.  We have a large wooden doghouse cathouse that they call home.  For some reason I don't understand, their cat food lives in our house.  We have repeatedly asked Chris, who is in charge of the cats right now, to find some other place for the food to live.  He repeatedly puts it off.

And now the babies have found the monster 25 pound bag of cat food.  And they have decided that eating cat food is yummy.  And playing in cat food is fun.  So they dumped nearly the entire bag out, all over the floor.  Chris was not happy about cleaning it up.  I asked him to put the cat food in a bucket or outside, so he put it in a bucket.

The next day, the babies found the cat food again.  This time, I asked him to put a lid on the bucket.  He cleaned up the mess, and got out a lid.  The next day, the babies found the cat food again.  Chris was even less happy about having to clean it up.  He argued and stormed about it, and finally told me it was done.  When we went downstairs a while later, there was still cat food from one wall to the other!

Me:  (exasperated) "Chris, I told you to clean up that cat food!"
Chris:  "Yes, you did."
Me:  (getting angry) "Then why didn't you do it?"
Chris:  "I did."
Me:  (incredulous) "You cleaned it up?"
Chris:  "Yes, I did."
Me:  (starting to spit fire) "Then why do I still see cat food all over the floor?!"
Chris:  "It looked clean to me... in the dark"

Needless to say, he cleaned it up again.  This time, I asked him to put the lid on the bucket tightly.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tour de Beds

Alec cleaned his room.  I mean, he really cleaned his room.  I was so impressed that I had to sneak down there and snap a picture of it when he wasn't looking.  I won't make any mention of what it usually looks like, except that it has to do with clothing and the floor.  Not bad, especially not for a 17-year-old boy, but not ordinarily this tidy.  It makes me happy to see that he uses the denim quilt I made for him.  It is a checkerboard in the middle, and he has felt checker pieces that fit into the pockets in the corners.  I think it is unique that he has his stereo underneath the bed, and as a bonus, it keeps the clutter from sneaking under there.

While I was snapping pictures, I thought I'd swivel around and take a picture of Chris's bed on the other side of the room.  When we last switched around bedrooms, (something we do on a fairly regular basis), I was hesitant to put 13-year-old Chris together with Alec, but it has worked out better than I thought it would.  They get along most of the time, and manage to co-exist during the fighting times.  Yes, I had to make the bed for Chris, as he hasn't yet figured out the purpose of sheets.  His denim quilt is in a rectangular log cabin pattern.  The tumbleweed hanging from his light fixture is actually a string of Christmas lights.

Next is Ben's room.  He is the lucky dog to have his own room this time, even if it is a remodeled second kitchen.  I have a hard time believing how tall they are growing.  Alec has an extra-long twin bed (the footboard of his bed is upside-down, so the sticking-up legs can accommodate the longer mattress), and Ben sleeps diagonally on a queen bed.  He's only 15, but already 6'5", and I think he is still growing.  It's a challenge to keep him in pants that aren't air-conditioned about the ankles.  Ben plays the trombone; Chris is a saxophonist, and they always seem to have an instrument or two hanging around.

David (10) and Eddie's (8) room is considerably less clean.  We recently un-bunked their beds so they could each have some personal space.  I had hoped that it would end the "That's not my stuff - it's his!" argument that was a perpetual preventer of cleaning up.  Now that each boy has his own side, they somehow feel free to make as much mess as they want to.  The boxes are a threat that if they don't pick up today, I will fill the boxes with their treasures.  I think it's time to declutter in here!

Angel is the other child to have her own room - she's the only girl, after all!  I don't think the boys would like to share a room decorated with pink and butterflies, anyway.  It's not much of a room -  more of an alcove off  the hallway leading to the storage room.  You can see three-quarters of the room in this picture.  I don't know what we'll do when our little three-year-old gets too big for a toddler bed.  I'm not sure that a twin would even fit in here.  We'll worry about that when it comes.  She can make a royal mess of her space, but it's so small that it is easy to pick up at night.

And we're left with the babies.  At 18 months, they are getting pretty big for the crib, but fortunately they still stay in it.  I say IT instead of THEM, because they prefer to sleep together.  The crib rails between the two cribs is down, and they freely climb from one to the other (yes, the beds are secured so they don't slip apart).  Grandma made matching afghans in green and tan for them, and they keep our little ones toasty warm.

And that concludes our tour of the children's beds.  I will spare you the mess of my room.  Maybe one day I will be able to retire to my room at the end of the day with enough energy left to tidy up a bit before I collapse into the bed.  Until then...  no pictures!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bibby Bo Bah Boo

Or maybe it was "Booby boo bah."  Hard to tell.

Our Angel was watching YouTube videos of little girls in ballet recitals.  She couldn't sit still, but had to stand and mimic the motions of the dancers.  She jumped and swayed, extended her legs and moved her arms to the music.  At one point, she ran away, rifled through the dress-up box, and came back wearing a fluffy tulle skirt.  She loved watching the little girls dancing.  Perhaps I should start including dance in our daily preschool routine.  I'm pretty sure she and the babies would love it.  And it would be so easy now that our sound system is finally hooked up (Thanks, Alec!  Never mind that knee you put through the living room ceiling while pulling cords in the attic!  Just glad that you're ok and we have our tunes.).

The last dance Angel watched was a gaggle of girls with fairy wands, dancing to "Bibbity Bobbity Boo."  She loved the magic wands, the fluffy tutus, the dance shoes... everything.  And she has been trying as hard as she could to say the magic fairy godmother words.  It's not working for her.  Bibee boo bah.  Booby boo.  Bah.....

Monday, February 6, 2012

Ben's Good Day

Ben came to me tonight, a big grin splitting his freckles.  "I had a good day today, Mom," he said with a deep, satisfied sigh.  Isn't that a nice feeling to have at the end of a day?

His basketball team won the first game of their end-of-season tournament by more than 20 points.  Ben was the high scorer of the game.  Better yet, there were some cute girls who came to watch and cheer the boys on. Success is even sweeter when it is witnessed and celebrated - by teenaged girls, no less.

He got to play laser tag with Alec, Eddie, and some cousins (Chris was grounded and grumpy, and David had a science fair project to make me do tonight).  They are having such a great time going so often.  Hooray for year-long passes.

Ben told me that he especially enjoyed his chemistry class.  I knew it was too easy and a bit boring, so I was surprised to hear that this was part of his good day.  He explained, "I fell asleep."  (Mother sitting up in her chair... whaaaat??)  "I was just so tired (he's just getting over a bad sore throat), and I fell asleep.  The teacher woke me up about three minutes before class was over, and said, 'Well, Ben, since you are so smart and can sleep through class, you can tell us what the answer to number 7B is.'  I had already finished the assignment, so I just looked down and told him what the answer was and it was right."  Ben's face beamed, blushing with that teen mixture of happy and embarrassed.  "It was pretty sweet."

But he had to admit that the day just started out right with the orange shake he made himself for breakfast.  Starts out sweet, ends up sweet.  I want to feel like that at the end of my day, too.

Nursing Times Two

image from

I nurse my twins.  Yes, it's fairly easy.  Not effortless, mind you, but easier than two bottles of formula many, many times every day - and night!  That's not the only reason.  I have loved nursing all of my babies.  Yes, they bite.  Yes, we've had thrush.  Yes, I'm somewhat exposed.  Yes, I've leaked all over the place.  Yes, it's a lot like juggling - while trying not to flash the everyone in the neighborhood.

BUT it's worth it.  I love holding my little ones close.  I love hearing their daddy tell them, "That's the good stuff!"  I am amazed that I can make the perfect food for them.  I love seeing their fat little tummies when they are full.  I love watching them pull off with a big, sloppy, milk-drunk grin.  I love always having food for them. I love how easy and convenient breast milk is.

And I love how the twins kick each other and jostle for position.  I love how they like to twirl hair while they nurse - their own, each other's, or mine.  Sometimes it drives me crazy, and I cut my hair once because baby Angel couldn't leave it alone.  Mostly, though, I like it.  I love how their little fingers grope in the air for something to stroke. I love catching and kissing their little fists.  I love the snuggling.  I love how baby Ben always wanted to put his fist over my heart, and how baby Chris wanted me to hold his hand, and how baby David insisted on running his arm up my sleeve.  I love how excited they are to get milk, fingering my shirt and signing "milk."  And I love how groggy and sleepy they get as they fill up.  I love to love them - and I love to see their love for me.  It makes for happy Mommy moments.

Yeah, I'll nurse the little guys.  I've got two spigots, after all.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Up and Away

My little niece had her third birthday recently.  What a cute age.  She has a serious love affair going on with the Disney movie Tangled.  Her very creative mother did what any very creative mother of a little girl who loves a movie princess would do: throw a theme birthday party.  It was adorable.

Purple flag banners 

(you can download the FREE purple banner printable here from SuperMom)

Rapunzel's tower made from rice crispy treats, Pascal the chameleon party favors
(craft from

Pin the cast iron pan on Flynn game... the works.
(get another printable from SuperMom)

The best part was the floating lanterns.  The little girls were enchanted to be led outside in the cold and dark to see these huge paper lanterns actually light up and float away.
(ours looked like these here, from a British company, although I don't know where they were purchased)

It was a little bit magical for me, too.  I would love to feel light and effortless like the lanterns looked.  But I think we all can do better, even when it seems that the cares and gravity of this world will overcome us.

As a bonus, I will share with you the most wonderfullest way to eat granola: with slightly soft  ice cream.  That's all I need to say about that.  Yum.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What a Day!

It's days like this that test my resolve to find happy things.   Angel threw a temper tantrum for... oh, most of the day.  "I'm hungry!  I want a sandwich!  I don't want mayonnaise!  I want meat!  I don't like cheese!  I do want cheese!  I want more cheese!  I'm full!  I don't want to eat anymore!  Don't let the babies eat my sandwich!"  And then the little guys pick upon her moodiness and get grumpy, too.  It was all I could do to not scream along. But I didn't.  I haven't.  Not yet, anyway.

 Good things about the past couple of days? Hmm...

- I didn't lose my temper, or cry.
- I managed to stay a few steps ahead of the screamers, so our house isn't a wreck. (l won't mention that this is ALL I have accomplished.)
- I took a shower.  Late at night.
- Chris is pulling straight A's. Go Chris! (Right at the beginning of the term, but we're encouraged!)
- The twins ate by themselves, and managed to get more in their tummies than on the floor.
- There is a batch of asparagus-potato soup in the freezer (thanks, honey), so we won't skip dinner tonight.
- I got a few minutes of my exercise video done.  (Try doing sit-ups with a baby laying across your chest, and another one holding onto your hair.  I think chasing after them is good enough exercise, isn't it?)
- I resisted the ice cream.  So far.

Hope tomorrow is better!