Saturday, March 31, 2012

Today I...

Some days are busy.  Some days, I don't feel like I really accomplished anything.  Some days I actually don't.  This is the story of a full day.

Toady, I slept in some.  I made breakfast (a special weekend one: English muffins with eggs and bacon, milk, orange slices).  I cleaned up the kitchen, and taught a reluctant teenager how to mop a floor.  I moved big dining chairs so a son could vacuum under the table more easily (hate having carpet under our table).  I organized a fair chore list.  I fed babies.  I changed a dozen diapers.

 I made bread.  I deep-fat fried the bread dough into fry bread when it didn't rise.  I made dinner (fry bread, homemade apricot jam, little smokies in barbecue sauce, and carrot sticks).  I pulled screaming children in from a beautiful afternoon.  I put the two of the small children down for naps.  I sang songs together with my children.  I settled arguments.  I cleaned the computer room.  I folded two loads of laundry.  I vacuumed the living room.  I moved a pile of boxes back into the closet I had taken them out of (two months ago) when I thought I was going to organize said closet.  I lost my daughter (Dad took her on an errand).

I gave two haircuts and three baths.  I got four boys through the shower.  I helped a son decide that his shirt was really, unbearably wrinkly, and found another shirt for him.  I threatened terrible happenings if the Legos didn't get picked up (only half found a home).  I made more food (we downed a number 10 can of peaches, a whole bunch of cottage cheese, orange floats, and pretzel sticks).  I made two fighting boys lay on their backs on the floor and sing until they were laughing.  I watched my sons play tennis on the Wii.

I made an alphabet banner out of a sheet of poster board.  I showed a boy how to scrub soap scum off the edges of a sink.  I taught a little girl how to play "Hokie Pokie".  I read bedtime stories and brushed three little mouths full of teeth.  I smiled as a teenaged son gave me a hug.  I told all my children that I loved them.

And I watched four hours of TV - two 2-hour church meetings.  We'll have two more tomorrow.  They call it General Conference, and we do this twice a year.  I call it having my bucket filled.  It was a crazy day, but I was able to keep up and manage everything because my spirit was at peace.  Today I thank the Lord for the wonderful craziness that I call home.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Peaceful Morning

It was a rough night.  Some nights are like that.  It started out with an argument, then another disagreement.  Then getting to bed late, followed by worrying.  The baby wakes and needs comforting.  After he is returned to his crib, all possible shreds of sleep have fled.  Lay still, turn quietly so as not to disturb anyone.  Too hot - push off covers.  Too cold - pull them back up.  Now both babies are at the bedside, pulling down pillows to stand on so they are tall enough to climb up and in.  Before they are settled, the girl comes in, hair wild, eyes wild.  "I just wanted you," she slurs -  sleepy, terrified.  She slides in, I slide out.  Put the drooping babies back to bed, hold her cold little body until she warms and relaxes.  Carry her back to her bed, crawl back into mine.  The alarm goes off - it's 5:30.  Too tired to be bothered or angry about it.  Read scriptures with the family, get the early boys headed off to school, stumble back to bed.  This time, the sleep is deep and longer.  My sweet man takes care of breakfast and lets me sleep.  And sleep.

When I wake, I feel better - alive again, even a bit refreshed.  The sun is already climbing up in the sky, and I breathe a prayer of thankfulness that I have enough strength to face life.  It won't be a high-energy kind of day, but my slowness forces me to be methodical, purposeful, intent.  I notice more, think more.  Perhaps I ought to slow down more...

and go to bed earlier tonight.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Possessions Moving Syndrome

I understand from talking with my brothers' wives that my family has a bad case of Possessions Moving Syndrome (PMS).  I thought it was pretty normal to be suddenly seized by a wild desire to move things around a bit.  Before you know it, we're jumping up and hauling furniture around: the couch against that wall, try the piano over here, and does the end table fit in this corner?  I remember sitting with my brothers late at night when PMS struck, and we were rearranging the living room until 2 am.  I thought nothing of it.

It wasn't until I moved out and married that I started to realize that other people might not be as anxious to embrace a fresh change.  I don't know how many times my dear husband reached for a glass to get a drink of water, only to turn around with that "I can't believe you rearranged the cupboards again" face.  The utensils were not immune, either.

There are different severities of PMS, of course.  For some, it only involves furniture.  A bad case can spread to other household possessions, including kitchen cupboards, bathroom storage, coat closets, sock drawers, and refrigerator contents.  I haven't heard of yard plants being infected with PMS, but I suppose it is clinically possible.  We once suffered an outbreak so severe that, over the course of two years, we were forced to move all our possessions over a thousand miles and back.  Thankfully, we are in remission from that strain now.

I think PMS helps us get a fresh perspective.  It's cheaper than new furniture, easier than moving to a new house, and quicker than knocking out walls (which I also struggle with).  I'm always looking for something that works just a bit better.  For example, I recently changed the furniture in my family room to make it easier to block the babies out of the kitchen.  How easy and functional is that?  When we had family members who struggled with balance, I moved the furniture to make the walkways straighter and shorter.  Other good reasons to move furniture are to take advantage of a lovely view, move seating away from a cold window in the winter, or place more chairs at the table.  Or just PMS for fun.

On behalf of my family, I apologize for any discomfort our PMS has caused.  Trent just shakes his head and smiles at me, but I think he really likes it.  It's not that strange, is it?

About Snaps That Don't

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.

I hate it when I snap a baby into an outfit, only to have it come unsnapped as soon as they wiggle a bit.  Freddie is wearing the cutest little pajamas, so warm and snuggly soft - except that his entire right leg is poking out through the snaps that didn't stay snapped.

I wish I had known that loose snaps are fixable!  Here is the easy solution.  You convince the snaps to behave themselves with a hammer.  I am not kidding.  Do not try this method on your children.

image from Wikipedia, where I learned that snaps have been around in some form since at least 210 BC, and were first patented in 1885!

All snaps have two parts - the pokey-outie (head), and the pokie-innie (hole).  We want the pokey-outie part.  Place the snap, flat side down, head side up, onto a hard surface.  Give it a few gentle taps with the hammer.  That's it.  Easy.

When snaps don't stay snapped, it is because the head isn't big enough to fill up the hole.  Tapping it with a hammer spreads the top of the head back out, and makes it stick - and stay stuck.  Problem solved.

That's all.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Not Hungry Games

Want your kids to not be hungry? It's easy! Just feed them whatever they want to eat!

This is what Fred and George had for breakfast:  sippie cups of milk (their favorite), and theater popcorn.  How delightful!  How fun!  How tasty!  How (not very) healthy!

Memo:  next time Trent goes to see "Hunger Games" on the opening day, be sure and encourage him to NOT leave the leftover popcorn on the counter.

Family Fun(?) Center

Well, they did it.  They talked me into going to the family fun center.  The boys, having received year-long passes for Christmas (you're welcome), have been going there about every week.  I can usually come up with an easy excuse to not go.  The boys love going, but it really doesn't appeal to me.  I know what I would do if the whole family went together: spend a few hours trying to herd our little ones in small spaces.  Not fun.  I know, it's dreadfully un-family-ish, and un-mother-ish.

But they talked me into going.  I will admit that I was ungracefully grouchy about going.  I should have at least been fake-happy about being together with the family, but I wasn't.  I need to work more on that.

So this is what we did.  The boys all went to play a round of laser tag, and I took the little ones outside.  They found the airplanes right off, and Angel couldn't wait to get on.  What fun!

The babies love everything helicopter and airplane, and couldn't stand to just watch the action from outside the fence, so we let them ride, too.

They were having a great time going around, until the plane actually left the ground.  Then they both screamed until the ride ended.  They couldn't wait to get off that terrible ride.

Trent took Freddie on a little spin in the car.  I'll just take the wheel now, Dad.

The wind started to whip up so we went back inside.  The laser tag session over, David was great to occupy  the twins in the little play zone.

Ben took Angel and Eddie on the FrogHopper.  He was cute to hold Angel's hand and talk to her soothingly the whole time.  Eddie loved it!  He took Angel on the ride again, but she wasn't so sure about it that time.

They all got back in line to play a few more rounds of laser tag.  Chris won, and got the family's all-time high score of over 16,000 points (whatever that means, but he wrote it very largely on the white board when he got home).

I guess it wasn't too bad.  I mean, I'm not ready to go again this weekend, but I suppose I will go again eventually.  Our passes are good until next December.  They are.  And the kids love it.  <sigh>  That's part of being a parent, though, isn't it?  Doing things that make your kids happy and build memories, even if it isn't your personal favorite?  I'll be better about it next time.  (Sorry for my bad attitude!)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Who Stole the Cookies?

We were teaching Angel and the babies about stealing cookies.

Our whole family sat in a circle (the bigger boys were good sports... perhaps bribery was involved), and Ben started.  "Chris stole the cookies from the cookie jar!"

Chris good-naturedly responded, "Who, me?"
"Yes, you."
"Not me!"
"Then who?"
And it was Chris's turn to accuse David of stealing the cookies.  We went a full round, and Eddie accused Angel of being the thief.

"Angel stole the cookies from the cookie jar!"  Ben was holding her on his lap, and was prepared to coach her through the chant.  But she was too fast.  In her best that's-just-the-way-it-is voice, she proclaimed, "Yes I did!"

Well.  The game erupted in giggles, and that was the end of it.

About Changing A Wet Bed

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.

As a mother of boys, I've had my share of middle-of-the-night accidents.  I even had one bedwetter who was so skilled at soaking through everything, every night, that we thought he'd go pro (he has since thankfully retired).  I changed a lot of sheets.  A lot.  And it was almost always when I was dead-tired.  Sometimes I was even still asleep, I'm sure.  You wet the bed in your sleep?  I change sheets in my sleep!

I wish I would have known that I could double-make a bed.

For bigger beds, put down a waterproof pad.  Then make the bed with the bottom sheet.  Repeat with another (big) waterproof pad (on top of the first bottom sheet), and another bottom sheet.  When the accident occurs, simply peel off the now-wet top-bottom sheet and the top waterproof pad.  And the bed is still made!  Little Wetter can crawl back into bed, and (after lugging the wet stuff to the laundry room to deal with in the morning) you can crawl back into your bed, too.

For persistent wetters, find the waterproof pads that are softer.  These are not so hot and uncomfortable to sleep on.  Invest in a pile of these.  It will make your life easier.  Make the bed with a pad, the bottom sheet, and another waterproof pad.  Stop here.  Little Usually Wet can sleep directly on top of the pad.  In the middle of the night, pull off the pad and replace it with a new, dry one (from the pile of waterproof pads you keep conveniently under his bed), and everyone goes back to bed.

Of course, you will also have nearby (perhaps in a plastic box under the offended bed) an assortment of clean undies, pajamas, and blankets.  Being prepared makes the midnight dressings so much easier.

If your Littlest Wetter is in a toddler bed or a crib, this is the easiest of all to double-make.  Put down ye olde waterproof pad.  Make the bed with the bottom sheet.  Now pick up the entire mattress and flip it over.  Your pad and sheet are now on the underneath side of the mattress.  Make the bed again, with a pad and sheet.  You could also try this with a bigger bed if the mattress is somewhat light or easy to move.  When nature's call is not answered in the wee hours, take off the wet linens, flip the whole mattress over, and voila!  Ready-to-go.

Other thoughts:  if you do have a wetter (even if only occasionally), make sure the entire mattress is covered with a waterproof, zippered pad.  It is worth it to not have to scrub smellies out of the mattress.  Also, two-piece pajamas are nicer, as the tops do not always get wet.  If Little Wetter has a "lovie" (special blankie, stuffed animal, etc.), make sure you have two of them in case one needs to take a trip to the laundry room.

Be nice to yourself.  Bedwetting doesn't last forever, and you're not a failure of a mother if you have a Nighttime Fountain of Youth.  Don't get angry, just take care of it, give your (now dry) sweetie a hug,  and get you both back to bed ASAP.  This will make life easier.

That's all.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Content, Part II

I have two boys in braces - we spend a lot of our time in the orthodontist's waiting room.  It's ok because they have good magazines there.  Usually, I think of doctor office waiting room magazines as literary pablum.  I often feel like I've lost a few IQ points after thumbing through a magazine full of random ads and racy stuff and social gossip about people I don't know and more ads.  But the orthodontist has a few magazines I actually like thumbing through.  I look for the oldest copies, because the nice desk ladies let me take them home, and even thank me for helping them keep their magazine racks tidy.

Last time I went, I brought home a small stack of magazines to peruse, and then I shared them with some other ladies.  I did rip out a few recipes to try, and thoughts to try.

I just found one quote that went along with (or likely influenced) my last post on being content.  I wish I knew what magazine it was torn from (I think it might be Oprah's):

Making Joy a Goal may not be the best idea.  According to a study in the journal Emotion, women who place a high premium on happiness tend to be more depressed, perhaps because they feel disappointed with their failure to meet their high standards.

Under that quote was this one:

A Rigorous Review in the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine showed that for depressed people, finding contentment may be as simple as doing nice things: "Positive activity interventions" - such as performing acts of kindness, counting one's blessings, and writing letters of gratitude - reversed apathy, stimulated the brains' pleasure circuits, and restored happiness.

I just wanted to give credit where it was due, and am comforted in thinking that there are others in the world who might have similar thoughts.  Today, I am feeling pretty content.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Longest Ever Quick Shopping Trip, Part II

As I was telling someone about the ice cream that took hours to get (read about that sob story here), I made a startling realization.  It was the kind of thought that comes out of the blue and smacks you between the eyes.  Ouch.  And now I'm feeling a wee bit foolish.

While I was panicking at the store checkout line because I didn't have my credit card, and making the decision to run home and come right back, my credit union was right there.  I mean, there was a little branch of the place where I keep my money in the store, less than 20 feet away from my checkout line disaster.  And I didn't even think about it.

How easy would it have been to just hop over to the teller window, withdraw 40 bucks, pay for my goods, and get home?  Too easy.  But much less stressful.  <embarrassed glancing about room>  Hey, it made for a good story though.  Didn't it?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Longest Ever Quick Shopping Trip

I had to run to the store and pick up some ice cream for our latest birthday party.  The babies were sleeping, the older boys were all home from school, and the house was moderately sane.  I thought it would be the perfect time for a quick trip.  I decided to go to the big box wonder mart, since it was closer than the grocery store.  Quicker, too.  Yup.

I got in my zippy little car and zipped on down.  "As long as I'm here," I innocently thought (can you see it coming?), I'll pick up that acne face wash that some anonymous teenaged boy might want... and some dried cranberries for our salad tonight... and some <ahem> feminine products... and some whole milk for the twins... and some spray paint for all those projects I haven't yet gotten to...  Although I did have to go to every corner of the vast store, I zipped around the aisles pretty fast.  I can really move when I am flying solo, without little ones.  Yippee!  I even zipped through a sales rack of winter sweaters, but alas, nothing in my size.

I zipped into the express checkout, and the nice clerk lady was very speedy at ringing up my purchases.  "That'll be $37.25, she cheerfully announced.  I unzipped my purse and pulled out my wallet - only to realize that I had no credit card.  And no cash.  And no check book.  I didn't feel so zippy anymore.  The nice clerk lady cancelled my transaction, and held my cart next to her checkstand until I could bring back something with which to pay.

I screamed home (not literally, although I could have).  I remembered that some anonymous boy had borrowed my credit card to put gas in the van, and hadn't returned it.  Once home, I realized that the culprit was not home.  Someone is dead meat.  I got some money and ran back to the store.  By this time, the streets were clogging up, the parking lot was full, and the store was crowded.

I waited in the express line, where I could see my shopping cart, waiting alone and forlorn.  I greeted the clerk, and she rang up my purchases again.  "That will be $23.89," she said brightly.  No.  The first total was $37-something.  I looked carefully at the cart.  A jug of milk, and a bag of stuff with those feminine products sticking out of the top.  No bag with ice cream.  I was missing an entire bag of very important stuff!  The clerk was incredulous.  "It was right by me the whole time!" she insisted.  I think someone lifted the ice-cream bag as they went out, but left the other, not-so-interesting-looking bag.

I made a mad dash back around the now-clogged-up store to get the items that were in the second bag.  It was, admittedly, more mad than dash.  I waited and waited in the express line (for the third time), and greeted the nice clerk lady.  We were on a first name basis by now (Hi, Sandy!).  I paid for my very important stuff, and the ice cream.  I sighed as I battled traffic on the way home.  My quick trip to the store to get ice cream had taken literally hours.

The moral of the story is - take the simple route.  Next time, I'll go to the grocery store when I need groceries.  Better yet, I'll plan ahead and pick it up when I'm doing my regular shopping.  What a novel idea.

Oh, and beware of ALAIAI (As Long As I'm At It - pronounced A - LIE - I ).  It's a common disorder around here, and it'll get you every time.  Very contagious, too.

And that is the story of the longest ever quick shopping trip.  I had nightmares (but I didn't kill the boy!).

Monday, March 19, 2012

Is That So?

Angel has become quite a chatterbox.  She likes to talk and talk and talk...  Sometimes is does get exasperating, but then I remember that we want her to talk.  I'm ever so grateful that she can.

Trent had her in the car the other day.  She was jabbering away, and he was half-listening.  You know, that kind of listening where we occasionally murmur "mm-hmm," or "oh yeah?" while really you are thinking of a dozen other things?  <Insert your "oh..." here.>  We have to be careful doing that because, although we really can't hear what she is saying from the backseat of the van, if she doesn't feel that we are paying enough attention, she will start shouting, "Talk a me!  I wanna talk a you!" and then we have problems with the shouting girl.

So Trent was doing is best to keep up with her and drive safely at the same time.  At one point, he absently asked, "Is that so?"  Angel was quiet for a moment, and then replied, "Yes.  It's so."

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Untold Riches

Trent called out to me from the kitchen.   He had flour all up his manly arms (he was making a big batch of rolls for a church party - he makes the best whole wheat bread and rolls!), and he was wearing the manly apron I made him of green camouflage fabric.  He had heard a line from the video the kids were watching in the living room and asked, "How many times have we been told about untold riches?"


I've been trying to be happy.  Really, I have.  OK, sometimes I feel more like that country song and "I just wanna be mad for a while."  I woke up like that this morning.  But MOST OF THE TIME, I've been trying really hard to be happy.  I have discovered (drumroll please) being happy is hard work.  And I've also figured out that when I'm not feeling happy, trying to feel happy makes me feel less happy.  I just feel grumpy that I'm not happy, and guilty that I'm not doing better.

There's a quote that I like about chasing happy.  I thought it was talking about the bluebird of happiness, but it turns out it was a butterfly.  And people disagree as to whether it was Thoreau or Nathaniel Hawthorne who said it.  I'll vote for ol' Nate:

“Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” 
― Nathaniel Hawthorne

Thoughts immediately come to mind.  Like: Underneath the beautiful wings, isn't the butterfly really just a bug?  Do I want a crawly bug landing on me?  And: Really?  We don't have to do any work at all?  Just sit down and eat bon bons and you'll find happiness?  But then again: If I am always scurrying about, frantically trying to be happy, it won't work.  I have to be quiet INSIDE (not necessarily outside) in order to find the happy peace and joy I crave.  

I was struggling through this in church recently when a single word came to mind.  It didn't pop in, it kind of did a gentle fade-in, like in Alice in Wonderland where the Cheshire cat just shimmers and slowly appears.  

/kuhn - tent'/ satisfied with what one is or has; not wanting more or anything else.

I have so much already.  Do I really need to go out hunting for more happiness?  Just look around you, girl!  Isn't this about what you've always wanted?  Uh... yeah, it is.  So then why the doldrums?  As I thought more about this, and wrote the word in big, block letters in my notebook, I had another fade-in, but it was the same word:

/kon' - tent/ something that is contained (the contents of a box), or substantive information or creative material to be expressed through some medium, of significance or profundity, (a clever play that lacked content).

So wait.  In order to feel CONTENT (definition 1), I have to make sure that I have good CONTENT (definition 2).  I need to make sure that I am taking care of things that need taking care of.  I need to love my kids and mind that housework.  Keep the laundry up and nourish little minds and tummies.  Be sweet to my sweetheart.  Do my chores before I play.

I'm not discouraged - I'm encouraged.  I don't need to have everything done Pinterest-ly perfect.  I just have to keep on keeping on, and work on making MY content worth being content about.  With the Lord's help, this is something I can do.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Happy Birthday, Alec!

My oldest just arrived at 18.  I don't know whether that or me hitting 40 makes me feel older.

Handsome senior pictures, in our backyard

Before he was even born, I knew he would be a boy, and that he would have a marvelous, strong personality.  That strong will has led to more than a few conflicts over the years, but with lots of prayer, we somehow get through them.  I'll have to write more about that sometime.

Alec has been attending a charter school during his high school years, and has really thrived there.  The school is on the campus of our nearby university, and he's been taking college courses along with his high school requirements.  In fact, he will soon graduate with both his high school diploma and his Associate's degree.  I'm so proud of the hard work he's been doing.  I had my reservations about him leaving our neighborhood high school because his school is 20 minutes away, but now I'm glad Trent talked me into it.

I'm looking through picture albums to find some good shots of him, and am swept up by put-away memories and vibrant feelings.  Pictures of him meticulously building things, lovingly caring for Angel, setting up our home computer network, getting his Eagle Scout award, baptizing Eddie, spinning about on the college ballroom dance team, driving Ben to band, going to prom, playing Foosball with his brothers, forever drumming on the desk while he writes a paper for English...

The corsage he made (by himself!) for his Homecoming date

Alec has always been my little man.  I swear he was born a miniature adult.  He's always been right in the middle of the adults, taking care of things.  I'm excited, and sad, to see him grow up.  It won't be long now before he spreads his wings and flies from the nest.  I gave him bachelor-pad dishes and kitchenware for his birthday.  That's what he wanted.

I am in awe of the man you are becoming, and delighted to see you step into those shoes.  Stick with us for a wee bit longer, and we'll have your wings done in no time.  Happy birthday, Alec!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

About Screaming Babies

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.

Freddie, Angel, and Georgie were playing on the stairs with some neighbor kids.  Angel has discovered the joy of sliding down the stairs.  When the bigger boys were little, their silly daddy would put them in cardboard boxes, or seat them on snow sleds before sending them, giggling and shrieking, bumping and sailing, down the stairs.  The middle boys like to take slick sleeping bags to slide down.  The older boys even now will augment this fun by squishing a twin mattress into the stairwell, and then sliding down.  What raucous, wild, boy fun!  And now Angel and the twins have joined in the club, pulling nicely-folded sheets out of our linen closet to slide down on.

There were four or five kids on the stairs, little preschoolers who don't take up much space and slide down the stairs slowly, cautiously.  Somehow in the peewee melee, Georgie got tipped over and stopped himself in a precarious head-down position.  By the volume of his screaming, he must have thought he was going to die.

I hurried down and scooped him up, but he continued to wail, loudly.  When we mothers hold a distraught child, we usually cradle them on one arm, over our shoulder.  The little one screams while we try to comfort.  It is very noisy.

I wish I'd known to protect my hearing.  Position the baby or tyke, over your shoulder, with his ear next to your ear.  It's even better if you can get your ear even with the back of his head, so his head is all the way behind yours.  The little one if facing backwards, you face forwards.  Hold the back of his head with your hand to prevent his head from arching back, if you need to.  This way, the screams go behind you, and not in your ear.

Children scream at about 110 decibels - about the same as a chainsaw!

I'm right-handed, and usually hold babies on my left arm so I can do things with my free right hand.  Consequently, I am a little bit deaf in my left ear.  I'd do it all over again if it was the only way I could have my wonderful rugrats, but I wish I'd known how to keep my ears a bit more safe.

That's all.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


I'm a little grumpy today - my fuzzy brain breaks down into exasperation faster than usual.  Faster than it ought to.  I didn't get enough sleep last night.  I was up until 1 am with insomnia (and a few tears over a particularly vexing challenge I'm working on right now), and then the babies woke up three times after that.  That's thrice each.  At different times.  This is what I've been fantasizing about all day:

Or how about some of this:

Those two were both Georgie, on different days.  I love how he's got his right foot snuggled over the left, and his arms curled in.  

But wouldn't it be nice to just be able to say, in the middle of whatever, "I'm tired.  I think I'll fall asleep ... now."  And then just fall asleep?

Angel pulled a crib mattress into the living room, layered on couch cushions and pillows, and fell asleep .  She loves to be "all wrapped up" in the quilt Gram made for her.

Maybe I'll just go to bed now.  Can I?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Here I Are!

Angel got lost.  Not really - she'd been hiding from me all afternoon, then demanding that I hunt her down.  I don't mind playing games with her, and the longer I can draw things out, the more fun it is (and the less I have to stop and actually look).

"Mommy!  Where'm are I?" called her plaintive little voice.
"Is that my Angel?  I don't see her," was my response while putting a pan on the stove for dinner.
"I're lost!" she muffled back.
"Where is my girl?" I asked.  "I can't find my girl."
"Find me, Mommy!"
"Where are you?  I have lost my Angel!"  I pulled out some rice for dinner and put it in the cooker.  I think I put together most of our stroganoff dinner while "looking" for her.

I was starting to wonder where she was when, to my surprise, the corner cupboard door popped open.

"Here I are!"  

And now that is her favorite place to play and spin slowly around.  We keep the lower cabinets either tied shut (with hefty rubber bands), or relatively empty.  I guess there is plenty of space to climb on in.  I'm glad you are here, my little Angel!

Stink Like...

Two-and three-year-olds are into bodies.  They are learning about all the cracks and crannies; how to get them dirty and how to clean them up.  They learn how to control their little growing bodies enough to sit still in the doctor's office (as long as the wait is 30 seconds or less), to jump off the couch, and to swing on the playground.  They are figuring out how to go in the potty and hold it the rest of the time.  They think less-than-polite bodily functions are hilarious, and love to announce them in not-so delicate ways (loud voices at the store, in front of company...)

Georgie has learned how to ask for a diaper change.  He waddles over to me, legs splayed out in his best John Wayne swagger, and firmly states, "Poo poo."  Freddie has it down, too.  He grabs my face so that I'll look at him, then calmly grabs his crotch.  Nice.

Today, Angel started laughing out of the blue.  I asked her what was so funny, and she snorted, "I have the toots!"  She's always had a fascination for passing gas.  Not very ladylike, I know.  But very human.  When she was very little, her dignified grandfather had some, er, "emissions."  As soon as it wafted her way, our bitty Angel declared, "Phoo-ey!"  while waving her little hand in front of her nose.  I was remembering this precious tidbit of family history while watching her laugh at her "toots."  After a moment, she sat bolt upright, sobering instantly.  Her little nose wrinkled as she shouted, "I have the toots!  I stink like a boy!"


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Yoga Man

Trent decided, after watching me do my daily contortions exercises for the past few weeks, that he would accompany me.  It doesn't look that hard, and if I (who am tragically un-athletic) can do it, he certainly could, too.

We sat down on the floor to begin the video, and he learned how to breathe.  It was hard to maintain a steady, even breath because he kept making comments about breathing.  Yoga Video Lady said "Keep breathing," and he blurted out, "Thank goodness she said that!"  She instructed us to fill our lungs with air, and he wondered what else would go in there.  It's hard to breathe smoothly when you are laughing.

We lay down on our backs to do leg lifts.  Sure enough, here came all the little ones.  Dogpile!  On Daddy!  I had a much easier time that normal because all three of them wanted to climb all over him and left me alone.  This is working for me!

I was actually really impressed with how well he kept up.  The first time I did the video, I could only drag through about 15 minutes.  Trent was able to stay with it as long as I did!  He has much better endurance than I do, and a lot more strength.  I whipped him with the flexibility exercises (I can put my hands flat on the floor!), but he's all over me for things like squats.  And he's such a good sport.

He can't quite do a downward-facing dog (his feet won't stay planted and he slides backwards), but he was game to give it a good try.  He even did a reasonably good king dancer.

What a gem my Trent is.  I'm a lucky girl to have him (even if, after this, he's not terribly interested in doing yoga again).Maybe next time I'll go attempt to play racquetball (his favorite) with him.  Maybe.

Friday, March 9, 2012

What's For Dinner?

Angel fixed three dinners tonight: one for herself, one for Georgie, and one for Freddy, of course.  On the menu for tonight is a lettuce, pizza, cheese, fried egg and honey sandwich;  an open-faced pizza on ham sandwich; and a banana peel.

The rest of us at a rice casserole with slow-cooked pork, frozen stir-fry vegetables, and peas.  It was moistened with chicken gravy and a splash of Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce.  Everyone loved it and asked me to make it again.  Too bad it was really just a "clean out the fridge" kind of night (we call it "Bitsa" - bitsa this and bitsa that) and I'll never have this same combo again.  Oh well.  Glad they liked it!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ants, Part III

I read (and everything I read is true, I'm sure!) that plain old household borax can take care of your ant problem.  So I scooted right down to the store (we were out of it in the laundry room) and got me some borax.  I used to recognize it by its green box, but now the box is white.  By the looks of the box redesign, they wanted to appear more natural and... green.  But the box isn't green anymore.  I digress.

I sprinkled borax around the areas the ants like to hang out.  I even blocked off some of their supply routes.  And the ants disappeared.  For a day.  Now they are back, and they have scooted the powdery borax over so they could have more room to crawl and creep and scurry.  They are even tricky enough to make my camera not take nice pictures of them.

They are tiny little things, so frightened by the giant penny that they tried to run under my lovely vintage plastic floor trim.  Trent calls them sugar ants, but I know there is no sugar in my bathroom.  If there was, I would have eaten it.

Maybe I need to pull out my Wonder Woman arm bands and try something else.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


It's unusually quiet around here.  The very air is thick with silence, and it feels strange.  Normally, afternoons are a wild hodge-podge of boyish horseplay, mother-reminders of chores, questions about available edibles, pencil-finding homeworkers, doors opening with coming-home traffic and closing again with out-goers.  It's a veritable Grand Central Station, and although I become harried by the relentless motion, there is nowhere I'd rather be than in the midst of my children's lives.

For now, I wonder at, and revel in the stillness.  Trent is quiet in his office.  Alec is at his after-school job.  Ben is at Latin Club (I think).  Cub Scouts claims Chris, David, and Eddy, as den chief, Webelos, and Bear respectively.  The Angel and the babies are taking a late nap after our mid-day outing to the bi-monthly Aunts of the Knapp Family Luncheon.  So still.  Whatever shall I do with myself?  For a moment I am a lost empty nester.  Then I slip into a deliciously stolen nap.  Bliss!

Now the phone rings, then the sliding door moves aside to allow entrance.  The hush is broken by the den chief coming home from a busy meeting of making bird posters.  The Scrub Sprouts start straggling in, treasuring a bit of obsidian and a homemade catapult.  I hear Trent making calls behind the office door.  A sleeping baby rolls drowsily off the couch.  The timer beeps on the baking bread.  I wonder what I can whip up for dinner, and the world resumes its usual pace.  I head into the kitchen with a smile on my face, functional again because

I snuck a nap today.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Daughters In My Kingdom

I taught the lesson in church yesterday.  I've taught the children's classes, or been a part of the music, on a regular basis.  But yesterday, I got to teach the women, and  I really enjoyed it.

For a topic, I was given the fourth chapter of the wonderful book, Daughters In My Kingdom.  It's a book about the beginnings of  the Relief Society, the women's organization in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It uses the history to teach lessons and principles of topics that are pertinent to all women:  charity, service, how to speak articulately, family, our relationship with Jesus, using our talents, reaching our potential... It's chock full of good stuff, and I feel inspired every time I open it up.  Maybe I ought to read it more often, hmmm?

Here is the link to the lesson I taught, entitled "A Wide and Expansive Sphere of Action."

Ants, Part II

The ants are back.

These ants are kicking my pants.

Friday, March 2, 2012


From the leading fashion mavens of home, we bring you this season's eagerly-anticipated debut of winter footwear.  It is just now cold enough to justify such warmth, but we welcome the first real snowfall of the year.  Modeling this year's pink styles are our very own models:

For added loveliness, Freddy is sporting a black eye (from walking into a desk), and Georgie dons a green headband (from his sister's drawer).  They rest nonchalantly against a soft backdrop of mother's cozy pajamas.  The pink flat shown poking out from under the couch is a sneak peek at spring fashions to come.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Tough as Nails

I have great fingernails.  The skin around them is always raggedy, so I'll never be a hand model, but I do have nice nails.  They grow fast, they are well-proportioned, and they are strong.  I used to always keep them short and practical.  Now, Tom thinks they look nice, so I let them grow out - and I even occasionally paint them.  Someone has to do a bit of girl around here.  They grow longer until I get sick of them.  Like when I start wondering if I could type with my knuckles.  Then I chop them off and they start to grow again.

I was recently asked (by Ben) to accompany a trombone solo at a school concert.  Of course.  I am a pianist, even if I haven't played for a while.  It's like riding a bicycle, isn't it?

And all I'm going to say is that my lovely, painted nails and a piano performance don't mix very well.  I knew that.  Sorry, Ben.


They came into the downstairs bathroom first.  Little, tiny ants.  They were few at first, wandering aimlessly across our fashionably dated linoleum, but then they invited all of their friends to join the party.  And they migrated to the upstairs bathroom.  I asked the boys to clean the floors in the bathrooms.

But last night, I noticed that they had invaded MY bathroom.  My personal floor space had tiny critters scurrying around on it.  I'm not squeamish about bugs and things, but I'd rather not share my space with them.  They did give me the creepy-crawlies when I had to go in at night, when I couldn't see them.

Today, I declared war.  To prepare, I put a celebratory batch of cinnamon rolls in the oven.  Then, I donned my cat-woman outfit.   Super heroes always work better when they have on their outfits.  I swept and mopped and took the (crawling) garbage all the way out to the curb (running, because it was snowing and I wasn't wearing cat-woman shoes).  I wiped and disinfected.  And by gum, I won.

Yup.  I got rid of them varmints.  I can take on ants.  I'm just super hero awesome like that.