Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Prayers, Part II

There’s two to wash, There’s two to dry;
There’s two who argue, There’s two who cry
One’s in the mud, Having a ball;
The other holds a crayon… Another marked wall.
Some days seem endless, My patience grows thin.
Why did God choose me To be a mother of twins?
The answer comes clear- At the end of the day,
As I tuck them in bed And to myself I say…
There’s two to kiss, There’s two to hug;
And best of all, Thank You, God, for two to love

(...and for the other six, as well!  So blessed!)

Monday, April 29, 2013


I've been teaching the little people how to pray.  For me, prayer is a peaceful, enriching time to get grounded and in tune with the Heavens.  I really don't get by as well when I get lax in my prayers.  I want my children to feel the same peace, and know how to find answers to their questions - big and small - so I teach them to pray.

Angel has the hang of it.  The twins do the "food prayer" for everything and they are done in 10 words or less.  So I taught them to list out things they are thankful for.  Georgie caught right on.  In his prayer, he said "thanks for food and stories and Mom and my bed and (looking around the room) clothes and shirts with sharks on and my trucks and stories." He then asked that he would "have good dreams and no bad dreams, only dreams about bad guys."  After he finished, I gave him a big hug and told him what a good job he had done.

Next, it was Freddie's turn.  Glancing sideways at Georgie's smug smile, he began, "Hemmy Bodder, please bless for (his contraction for 'please bless' and 'thank you for') food and ... (pausing and looking hard at Georgie again) bweakwast and eggs and bread and dinner and food... and food...please bless for food."  He does love his food!

After saying amen, he turned to me, all smiles, and commanded, "say good job to me!"

Of course, dear.  Of course.  I love hugging my babies.

Friday, April 26, 2013

All Things in Order


a) 0
b) 8
c) 50
d) 56

This was a math problem that went around during a recent girl's night out.  Most of the gals kept getting the wrong answer, and couldn't figure out how to get the right answer.  Hint: the answer is NOT d) 56.

You get the incorrect.56 answer if you start at the beginning of the problem and work straight through, from left to right.  7 plus 7 is 14, divided by 7 is 2, plus seven is 9, times 7 is 63, minus 7 is 56.  You did all the work and made it to the end, but it was wrong.

Turns out that the way you do something is just as important - and often even more important - that whether you get to the end or not.

In this case, you have to follow the "order of operations."  The acronym is PEMDAS (even my 10-year-old can quote "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally").  I wonder what dear Aunt Sally did to earn such elementary school notoriety...  You have to approach a math problem in the correct order: Parenthesis, Exponents , Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction.  Actually, the multiply/divide can be done together, as can the add/subtract.

When you follow the correct order, the problem looks different.  7+ 7/7 + 7*7 -7.  Work through the multiply and divide parts of the problem first, the go for the add and subtract.  Same original numbers, but now you get a different answer.  The correct one.

I think I too often try to slog through a problem from left to right without looking at the whole thing and figuring out what the order of operations is.  Whatever is on front of me, that is the part I need to tackle.  But if I step back and figure out what the most important things are, and do those first, then I arrive at a totally different solution.

And it's the right one.

The correct answer is c) 50.  Thanks to my smarty-pants kids who helped me figure it all out completely - and 4 of the 5 got the right answer, too!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Building Relationships

So we've been working on the chicken coop.  And we've been changing our minds again.  This is four major overhauls of the design so far.  I say so far because I'd be really surprised if there isn't another change.  Even though I'd like to just pick one.  And stick to it.  And get building already.

I've heard that building a house together can really strain a marriage relationship.  There are even vows you need to add to your marriage before embarking on a building project.  Any large undertaking can tax a struggling marriage - buying a new house, a new job, pregnancy, reunions, vacationing, children, breakfast...

Yeah, we've had a few struggles.  And we're just building a coop, for chickens' sake!

That about sums it up.

I wanted to just lay out 4x4s and build on that.  Trent built a sturdy foundation of two courses of cinder block.  I'd like the coop to have a lower profile and fit in the yard better.  He wants it to be a full eight feet - plus the peaked roof.  Sometimes when I've made a suggestion, he smiles and gives me the "that's nice honey but that's not how we're going to do it" look.  A year ago, that would have bothered me.  Actually, I would have been spitting nails.

But now (after a year of counseling!) we both smile and laugh a little.  I know that there is a particular way that he thinks is proper and right.  And I know that I don't have to cave in and and become a doormat when there is something I think is important.  His view count.  My views count, too.

But the most important view is the one that we see together,

Sorry for the mushy.  I've just been glad that we can work together - and enjoy it!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How To Not Study

1. Convert an old trampoline frame into a temporary chicken run by stretching chicken wire around it.

2.  Insert adorable chicks.

3.  Bring homework papers and books into chicken run with aforementioned adorable chicks.

4. Have mild delusional thoughts that you will complete said homework.

5.  Get distracted.

6. Repeat steps 4 and 5.

7. Insert younger sister, who chases chicks every which way.

8. Laugh.

9. Give up and do homework inside the boring house.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Chick Update Again

The chicken saga continues.  I had no idea that poultry could be so entertaining.  The boys have each chick named, and know their breed and personality.  I know that I need to check them a few times a day because they like to kick wood chips into their food and water.  It's the scratching instinct.  Good for birds, bad for people.  If I brought it up, I'm sure I would have boys doing the chicken scratch thing at the table during dinner.

The chicks are just about done with the fluffy and adorable stage that makes us want to buy them.  Their downy feathers are disappearing (and less of it is floating around my house than I would have thought!), and their big girl feathers are starting to grow in.   You can see some of the wing feathers starting to grow in here.

I learned that feathers grow in all rolled up, and are called pin feathers.  They don't unfurl and fluff out until they are all the way grown.  In the meantime, the chicks look like they have a bad case of porcupine neck.  Or head.  It doesn't hurt them at all, but it's painful to watch how awkward-looking they get.  Talk about bad hair day!

I'm amazed at how fast they grow.  Here are our Easter Eggers, Pocket and Badger.  Pocket was a gray ball of fluff when we first got her, hence her full name, Pocket Lint.  My fabulous niece named these two for us.  (Hey Kristen!  Miss you!)  Eddie loves to hold them and take them outside to play.

Badger is getting some colorful patterns on her back.

These are their "teenager" feathers.  They will molt again at 7-12 weeks, and then they will get their adult feathers.  Some of them will need new names at that time, as their coloring and overall look will be quite different.

They live in our sunroom now, in a plastic kiddie pool filled with pine shavings.  We stretched a tube of chicken wire around it to keep the flappers in, but even so one flew out today.  This is the cabin in the woods we are building for them. 

 No, it changed since then.  Trent-the-man-from-a-long-line-of-bricklayers decided that the foundation needed to be cinder blocks.  Now it will be sturdy, like the third little pig's house. Hopefully that part will be done tomorrow and we can start framing.  Otherwise, we'll have chicken nuggets wandering around the house.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


The boys wanted to do something this weekend.  Something fun.  Something memorable.  Something together as a family.

So we set fire to an old wooden cabinet that we found when we cleaned out our lower patio.  It was in the house when we moved in, but we didn't have a use for it and set it out on the patio to take to the thrift store later.  Did you ever notice that "later" almost never happens?

And so it sat, the old, falling apart cabinet, and got weathered on all winter.  It really looked bad when we found it again.  We decided to burn it up.

Setting things on fire is fun and memorable and together as a family, isn't it?  The scouts set a nice little fire in one compartment, and we watched the fire slowly start to take over the whole cabinet.  One the whole thing was ablaze, it was quite a show.

The inside shelves collapsed with a startling noise.  Chris propped the doors in front so the flames wouldn't shoot out quite so far.  The neighbor kids started to peer over the fence to watch.   When the flames were leaping, I realized that David and Eddie had not gotten rid of all the nearby vegetation like I had asked them to.  A small pile of dry grass clippings started to smolder, and I hollered at Chris to get the hose.

He found the hose where it had been stashed last fall, but it wasn't long enough.  He grabbed David and they sprinted around the house to get the longer hose.  While they were hooking it up, the wind shifted and the long flames that had been fanning out over a bare patch of ground started to get excitingly close to our wooden fence.

Finally, water.  Chris doused the grass embers, but then we heard... sirens.  Fire trucks.  They got closer and we got nervous.  I remembered that I am supposed to be a responsible adult.  Sigh.  So put the thing out, boys.  They were disappointed, but a little bit relieved that it wasn't going to get any scarier.  I think it was more adventure than they were anticipating.

The water, of course, made a huge plume of steam - enough to be seen for several neighborhoods.  But we got it out.  No, we're not done burning it up, but we'll take the pieces and finish them off in our responsible fire pit.

Just as soon as they dry out.  And we'll remember to be smart next time - and not to forget the marshmallows.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Chick Update

Here are some picture I took a couple of weeks ago.  The chicks are about two weeks old, and just starting to grow in their wing feathers.  They are still bundles of fluff here - I'll have to get some pictures of how they look now - bigger and scruffy and awkwardly adolescent.

We put marbles in the waterer so they wouldn't drown.  Yes, we did see one tipsy chick stumble and fall head-first in the water.  They are top heavy, just like our human babies.

We built a itty-bitty roost so they can start learning how to stand on sticks.  Important chicken skill.

Eddie loves chicks.  That is the most interesting thing about this chicken thing so far.  All our boys love chicks.  Maybe that shouldn't surprise me.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Funerals and the Future

Trent's Aunt Bert died.  She was named after her father.  She's been old and falling apart and needing assistance as long as I've known her.  Blind, half-deaf and somewhat eccentric (is that the nice word for crazy?), she's been one of those colorful relatives I think everyone should have one of.  Or two.  But not more than that.

She moved to our area just before Trent and I married, away from the East Coast where she'd lived the past 50 years.  No one I talked to seemed to know why she and her husband would move so far away from their children and friends.  It just meant that Trent's folks spent a lot of time caring for them.  And Trent got calls to help unclog toilets and the like.  It's OK - we all are in a bind sometimes, and it's always a good thing to help.  A few of Aunt Bert's children ended up here as well, and they all had their hands full in the helping.

We just went to the funeral, and it was lovely.  There was hardly a mention of her oddities, or of how much was required to care for her.  Instead, we heard heartfelt appreciations for a dearly loved mother.  She was a beauty pageant runner-up in her youth, dedicated to her family, a help to those in need, and devout in her faith.  There are many who were lifted and loved by Aunt Bert.  Besides, they said, who wouldn't be a little batty when you have eight children to care for?

Wait a minute...  She did have eight children.  Seven of them were boys, including a set of twins.  Only one girl.

Oh man.  I'm in for it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Blogging Break

Yeah, so I took a break.  I just up and quit writing for a while.  I don't have anything interesting to say about it, or even a fascinating excuse about how we have been so busy with ... anything ... that I didn't have time to write.  I just didn't write.

In fact, I felt something like a bratty child, who when told to do something she knows she ought to do, gives a defiant, "No."  Even when that thing she ought to do is something she likes.  She just doesn't want to.  So there.

I like writing, I really do.  But I just haven't felt like it.  And that's the truth.  Phbbbt.

Maybe I'll write some more tomorrow, though.  Maybe.  :-)

Friday, April 5, 2013

Happy Birthday, Chris!

Chris, my third-born.  How happy I was to see you!  And how puzzled I was to receive so many condolences!  I guess people thought that a mother just had to have a girl.  Don't all mothers intensely wish for girls?  Not me, evidently.  I was just thrilled to be having another boy, even though it seemed everyone else around me was sad that I was getting "another boy" and not a girl.  Girl, shmirl.  I wanted my boy, and have been happy with you ever since.

I love how you find something you want and go for it.  When you wanted to be in the school's top band, but there were too many other kids who played your instrument, you switched.  Even if that meant you had to learn something a bit different and now coax lovely music out of the band equivalent of an ostrich.  Your baritone saxophone is a big beast, but you play it well, both in that coveted highest band and in the highest jazz band. And you like it.  So proud of you.

I love seeing you in a tux.  It's just classy.  And you make it look so great.  Your freewheeling spirit works well when channeled within those formal restraints, and you're classy.  And good looking.  Moms can say that.  But this time it's true.  I've seen the girls look at you, you cutie.

You got your braces off.  Oh, happy day!  You wanted me to give you a haircut that day, and to get contacts too.  Then no one would recognize you.  Maybe they still would.  I still owe you the haircut, and although I think you'll still be recognizable, I think contacts would be a fine idea for you.  I've loved mine, and you've forever had problems with your glasses.  They always seem to break or fall off or get hit my a basketball or get grabbed my a toddler or bend out of shape.  You've done a swell job taking care of your specs, and I don't have any question that you're responsible enough to care for contacts.

I love your sense of humor, even when your younger brothers don't.  Yes, I am laughing when I turn my head away just before the reprimand.  Remember that kindness always trumps humor, but don't get all straight-laced and boring on me.  Your keen mind easily finds the pun or the joke - just let it be in a way to help other people feel happy.

I'm one proud Mama when I look at you, Chris.  You have a sharp mind and you learn so quickly that you forget others have to work at things.  Your schoolwork has improved so much over the past year, as has your gentleness.  I love how the twins give their big brother a hug and a kiss goodnight.  They look up to you - all four of your little brothers, and the sister too.  They think you are awesome.

And so do I.

Happy fifteen, Chris!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

What To Do With A Burst Bubble

You know that tall tower of plastic balls at the store?  The one full of big and little playground balls that is strategically placed just where the little ones have been shopping for long enough and are about ready to have a major meltdown right there in the store?  Yeah, that one.  It's hard to resist.  As a result, we always seem to have an inflated rubbery ball at our house.  Or two.  Or maybe three.

Georgie got a hold of Angel's pink ball and decided to bite it.  And then bite it hard.  You just have to see what happens sometimes.  And who knew?  The ball popped.  At first, he was frightened.  Then, he held it up and looked at the big open gash in the side of what used to be a ball.  He examined it carefully... and then popped it on his head.  Daddy cut it down a bit so it wouldn't cover his face.  Georgie loves his new hat.  Especially when Freddie or Angel or one of the big boys is wearing it.

It's pretty ridiculous-looking.  And funny.  And I'm looking for when I can quietly dispose of it because it's a little bit of a safety worry.  Moms are no fun like that.  In the meantime, we have to take a picture.  Because when your bubble busts, sometimes you just have to make something fun out of it and grin anyway.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spring Break

It's Spring Break.  I love having everyone at home.  Love, love.  We hang out in our pajamas.  And watch movies and play computer games.  Oh yeah, we worked in the garden too, until it started to rain.  And we went shopping together - eight of us and two shopping carts and almost $300 of groceries.  It was a riot.

We went to the library.  This is the stack of books for Ben and Angel.

Alec installed a thingie on the computers that shuts them down every half hour.  I love it - they don't.  We have watched a lot of "Chicken TV."  Those little chicks are incredibly entertaining.

Chris is helping me design a chicken coop.  Man he's good at Sketch-Up!  Trent wants to see our plans, because he's sure he'll have half the supplies somewhere so we don't have to buy them again.  Tomorrow, we build.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Sleep Tight

This was our bedtime story tonight, after we are all tired as can be from the events of the day - not to mention pajama wrangling and toothbrushing.

Once upon a time, there were three pigs who built some houses.  The first was built out of grass, the second was made with sticks (Freddie: Dix!  Hit people!), and the third was out of rocks.  And the big bad wolf came.  (Knocking sound)  (In a low voice)  Little pig, little pig, let me in.  (In a high squeaky voice) Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin!  (Wolf voice) Then I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in! (Blowing noise) And he blew it right over with one puff.  (Squeaky voice)  Oh dear!  Oi oi oi oi oi oi oi! (Narrator)  And he ran to his brother's house.

But pretty soon, the two pigs heard, (knocking sound).  (Wolf voice) Little pigs, little pigs, let me in.  (In a different high voice) Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin!  (Wolf voice)  Then I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in! (Blowing, and blowing again)  (Georgie blows and spits all over everyone)  And he blew it right over with two puffs.  (Squeaky voice)  Oh dear!  Oi oi oi oi oi oi oi! (Narrator)  And they ran to their brother's house.

Sure enough, in just a moment, the three pigs heard, (knocking sound).  (Wolf voice) Little pigs, little pigs, let me in.  (In a medium high voice becasue the squeaky register is giving out) Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin!  (Georgie: chinny chinny!)  (Wolf voice)  Then I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in! (Blowing, and blowing, and blowing) (All join in with the puffing, blowing faster and faster until we sound like a Lamaze practice session.)  (Narrator)  But he just couldn't blow over that strong house.  And what did he say?  (All: Too bad!  Angel:  Shucks!)  He went and got a hamburger instead.  And the little pigs were safe.  (Georgie: And they had a party.)  (Freddie: They watched a moo-fie!)

The End.
Love my little kidlets, all curled up together!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Happy Easter

Hope you had a happy Easter!  Ours was a rather quiet one, because I can't seem to handle too much hubbub right now.  Or planning any hubbub.  We didn't do the whole Easter bunny / baskets thing when I was a kid, so I have to make an effort to remember to get presents.  This year, there wasn't an effort.  Oh well!  We will read the resurrection scriptures and dye eggs for Family Home Evening tomorrow, so I figure I've done the important things.

We had a nice Easter dinner anyway.  All the kids helped, and I enjoyed working with them in the kitchen.  Even though I was in there for hours.  We had my dad come over for dinner, and as we sat around the table it occurred to me that I would not always have such a happily full table.  And I love having all my kidlets around.  So I had to shoot them.  Forgive me, my dears, for being a Kodak Moment Mom.

David, Chris, the top of Angel's head, Ben, Alec, Opa, Eddie, Trent, and Freddie.  Georgie was having a hard time staying at the table.  And Mom takes the pictures so she's never in them.  I looked fabulous, I'm sure.

Ham, scalloped potatoes, green salad, stuffing, green beans... yum.  And, since we are getting into chicks, we had to have them for dessert, too.  Ben made the cupcakes, and Chris and David decorated them.  It's mostly sugar.  What's not to like?  (Um.. the way our oven always burns the bottoms of cupcakes?)