Things in my head . . .

If you take your 3-year-old to WalMart or a parent’s night for sports or school, bring something to entertain them.  This is not brain surgery!!!  You know they’re tired. They might be hungry too – depending if you caught dinner or not.  Screaming at them to shut the “f” up is not doing you or him/her any favors.  
Note to self:  As a pale, pale white woman who likes to walk in the evenings? Wearing a light pink t-shirt and pale pink shorts?  Nope. From far away, in the dusk, you look nekkid.  It scares and surprises drivers and could ultimately be harmful to you. If you must wear all pale pink, skip walking the just-shaved dog.
Don’t be jealous and/or don’t think I have some secret to being organized.  I don’t. For us, it’s the “master calendar.” That sounds scary, but it’s not.  It evolved from the baby calendars we had (you know, when the kids were babies) and that are full for the first four months and then blank (and, if you’re Andy, are simply non-existent).  
Each year I get a big ugly flip calendar from the office supply place.  I fill in the public school schedule, birthdays, anniversaries and anything like that.  I use colored sharpies, because it’s the only use I have for them and they’re pretty.  From there, I usually go one or two months at a time and write in standing commitments (doctors, Scouts, church, whatever). Can you tell I was painting in June? LOL
Next, at the beginning of each month, I write in a suggestion for dinner each night of the month.  (I say “suggestion” because I do better when I know first thing in the morning what is for dinner. If I don’t know this, it’s likely we’ll have oatmeal for dinner.  I’m just not that creative around 4-5-6 pm. That said, I often change the plan, but I feel better at least having a plan!  That’s a weak spot for me – your weak spot might be different, but you get the idea.) This is not that daunting – Saturday is leftovers, Sunday Mike cooks.  I try to time late evenings (sports, scouts, etc) with crockpot meals or cold meals. Usually I make Tuesday or Thursday some kind of pasta night and the kids are welcome to have friends for dinner because that’s easy to stretch. I work with what I have in the pantry and make a list each week of what we’re missing. 
Now, my kids are OLD.  Each week, they write in their work schedules, their school schedules and anything firm (like a concert) that they are committed to doing. If Danny (away at college) needs anything, he knows to call and ask me to put it on the calendar (strangely, this usually involves money, but at least he left home knowing how the system works.)  
If it’s not written on the calendar, odds are good they will be riding a bike to work or missing something.  Same with Mike.  I’m not his mom.  But, what he does affects us all.  Over the years, he’s gotten pretty good about using the calendar for things like scout leader meetings and sports commitments. It also saves my sanity a bit because Mike is not constantly asking me where everyone is or what’s going on.  He reads it while he’s looking for a snack.
The calendar is attached to our fridge with two strong magnets.  Markers, pencils and pens are always around. If someone who lives here is eating, they know what’s on the calendar.  They know what’s “likely” for dinner.  They can plan accordingly.  
But, really, it’s NOT that hard.  Start simple and let it evolve into what works for you.  But, please don’t shrug at me and say, “I could never be that organized.”  It really doesn’t matter if you’re organized, this is a step.  It really doesn’t matter if your kids or your spouse are at all interested in the calendar – the more it becomes a VISIBLE DAILY part of your life (you have to stick to it) the more it becomes part of theirs. And, with kids (say 9 +, they learn pretty quick that if it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t happen – I’ve only had to do this once it was awful, but worth it.) 
Seamless??? No.  But, it’s something to work with when you’re dealing with multiple people.  If you work outside the home, you might have to travel with a work calendar a few nights a week to match it up with the home calendar.  

And, one final random observation . . . even when you tell a kid that if he keeps sucking that cup up to his face he’s going to have giant hickies on his chin, he’ll ignore you.  And you’ll be forced to walk around with a kid with giant hickies on his chin.  ::::sigh::::: (x’s 4 here – guess I can check that off the list.) I googled for a picture, please don’t do this.  It’s not pretty and people are really weird.

All the news fit to report . . .

:::sigh::: So much I can’t report.  Let’s suffice it to say things have been interesting around here lately – all is good, but interesting.  Heck, even thought-provoking at times.  I have not been avoiding the blog so much as trying to figure out what the heck to do with it lately. 

Random bits: 

I love the new addition to our neighborhood. The “addition” would be the newly adopted brother to Andy’s best friend.  I’m just going to call him LG (for little guy) for now.  I’m five years removed from 5-year-olds and I had completely forgotten how funny, funny, funny they can be.  LG absolutely *hearts* the older boys, especially Tim.  About a week ago, he was playing here and got a cut on the bottom of his foot.  I cleaned it up, stuck a bandaid on it and, since he didn’t have shoes on (Florida and all) I stuck a sock on it so he could walk home without the bandaid falling off of his foot.  Joking, I told LG that he should take the sock off as soon as he got home or he’d have stinky feet like Tim.  Guess who’s been wearing that same sock every single night?  His poor mom . . .

We’ve discovered an antibiotic Andy cannot tolerate.  It cleared up the strep, but tore up his stomach something awful.  Poor kid.  When I finally figured it out, I called the doctor and she switched him to something new.   Wish I had figured it out sooner.  I think today was the first day he’s felt fully human in over a week. 

Poor Scout (12)  is navigating life through the green cone of shame.  She’s old and crazy and we’re doing our best to keep her and her tail as one.  She’s making me insane with the cone, but it appears to be working.  Cross your fingers.

The rest?  There’s a lot of funny stuff going on here, but I can’t figure out how to share it without potentially embarrassing people.  I don’t want to do that and I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings either.  I really need to figure out how to re-channel my blogging.  Until I figure that out … I seem to be stuck.  I’m going to go back to sitting on my hands for now.

Random stuff . . .

We are scrambling to close up the end of the 2009-2010 school year.  This completes our 10th year of homeschooling.  (I know, I ask myself the same question . . . How DO I stay so young looking? All I can say is that it has to do with what I learned those first couple of years mummifying fryer chickens . . .  I’m looking for a book contract and a line of mummified cosmetics in the near future.)  I never, ever thought we would go this far.  And, though I joke about it, I think the possibility of the boys digging a basement to live in forever are remotely slim – haven’t ruled it out, but it seems less of a possibility –  and I think they might even be overqualified to be greeters at WalMart.  No promises, but I’m starting to get a little optimistic. 

Random stuff that I have to get out of my system:

1) What my mom did while Dad, Andy and I were traveling.  I don’t know about you, but I’m so jealous and envious and excited that she did it.  I am happy enough to see this picture that I will not mention my mom and her friend, Chelle, forgetting to wear silk scarves.  Nope.  I will NOT say a word about the lack of scarves. 

2)  Checking this item off the list of things I’ve never seen . . . We went to Walmart the day before our road trip.  I had to return some items (namely pants that did not fit Andy, pants that did not fit Danny and a couple of shirts that did not fit Andy).  At Walmart, if you are returning things, the greeter has to scan and tag the items before you can go any further into the store.  Fine.  As usual, the greeter was a woman in her late 70’s/early 80’s (like I’m any judge, but she looked really old).  She had lots of jewelry and her nails were all decorated. She was a delightful little person.  It was only as she started scanning my bag o’ stuff that I noticed her thumbs.  Instead of one top joint of a thumb, she had two – complete with the long nails and the gold polish.  It was like meeting Anne Boyelyn or something.  The lady was clearly fine with it and after first glance it wasn’t that strange.  But that first glance was a doozy. 

When we got in line to return the stuff, a woman on one of those scooters pulled up behind me.  I didn’t really get a look at her, but she had three funny little kids running wild (in the way OTHER people’s kids can be funny) and I noticed them.  It was only as we finished our transaction that I noticed the seahorses tattooed beneath the corner of each of her eyes.  WHY?  Why did she think that was a good idea? 

3)  When Mike was driving Andy and me to my parents’ the night before our road trip, we listened to the local traffic and news as we were driving.  Oddly enough, the older boys all decided to join us at the last minute so we had a full car.  No one was paying much attention until the story about Angel, the stripper, who hired Dantay and Dontay, friends of hers who are twins, to kill her boyfriend.  Honestly, can you make this stuff up?  And while I will not deny the parents of twins the right to name their kids Don/Ron or Heather/Pleather . . . did the mother of these two young men have NO friends to warn her of the stupidity of their names?  I don’t think we need a law, just more honest friends and family members!  😉

4) Neighbor news!  Andy’s best friend is officially a big brother!  The little guy is here to stay.  He’s already come over (he’s 4) twice to see if Tim could play.  And, one of the things I love about Tim, he could play – not for long, but he jumped right in.  I’m so happy and excited for this family.  I’m sure there will be hurdles and challenges in the next few months, but they are most definitely a great family and they will conquer anything that comes their way!

Other neighbors, the young, cute ones (lol) . . . stopped by this afternoon to let us know that they are having twin girls!  At 18 weeks the babies are healthy and perfect and my neighbor looks radiant (funny how good you can look and feel when you finally stop barfing every 15 minutes). 

Exciting stuff all around here – I just love it. 

4)  Garden news – plucked our first beans and peppers this afternoon.  Not much, but enough to make me pat myself on the back and sing the “He’s Not Yet Dead” song from Monty Python.  Lots of wee cucumbers, zucchinis, tomatoes and other stuff starting to show too.  Phrases.  Lots.  Done with grammar for the year. 

Are we.

Random is as random does

When’s the last time you thought about Lyndon Johnson? Nixon is the first president I have any real memory of, so I don’t give LBJ a lot of thought. That is, until I heard this:

LBJ pants

It is a White House recording of LBJ ordering some new summer pants for himself. I promise it’s worth a listen. I’m giggling just typing about it. If you have young kids running around, use headphones – there’s some language you might not want to have to explain at the next play group.

I said it when I was eight and I’m still saying it. Boys are weird. They really are. When we went to Wekiva Springs last week, Ian had a couple of pictures left on the disposable underwater camera he’d taken to camp the week before. And he had a plan for the remaining two exposures. Tim actually took the picture. I’m seeing a career with National Geographic in his future. He calls this photo – Moses Meets the Springs. I’m so proud.

Ian is gearing up for his annual 4th of July Magic Show. This generally involves lots of visits to the thrift stores around town in search of weird random “magical” items. Yesterday we went out to scavenge for stage lighting. During our travels, I found a Target overstock comforter at GoodWill. It was in its original packaging, it matched our bedroom and it was $40. This is it. I’m bummed, I thought the shams were in the package, but it looks like I’ll have to make those. But the comforter is a nice change from our tame pastel quilt. I think. I’m still undecided.

So there’s the random stuff here for the weekend.

Sorry to disappear . . .

But, sometimes life takes over blogging, ya know? Life and the series finales of American Idol, 24, Lost (there are not words to describe my love/hate relationship with this show) and Hell’s Kitchen. Lost and Hell’s Kitchen are over. Whew. 24 will end Monday – I’m very curious about this season’s ending. American Idol is nearly done and I’m happy whichever guy wins.

Life? Eh … trying to finish up school. It’s trickier with older kids – you know all that documentation and stuff. Oh, and the fact that they all want to sleep until noon AND finish up school by 4. I’m good with the sleeping until noon if they work into the evening. But, I’m a shrew (if you ask them) . . . Andy, 9, and my current favorite child, is nearly done and remarkably nice these days. Spelling is done. He has a bit of math, history, Latin and grammar to finish up, but I see freedom in his future by mid-next-week. The older boys? Eh … they’re not getting it. They know what they have to finish and it will take as long as it takes. Is there a “hurry-up” saint? I want to be done so much more than they do!

This week I read “The Fourth Hand,” by John Irving. The premise of the book is funny (well, if you are a fan of Irving) – reporter gets hand bit off by lion while reporting, reporter gets generous offer of hand-transplant, reporter agrees to meet with widow of hand-transplant donor for “visitation.” Crazy, but a fun read. I’m nearly done with Angels and Demons (the DaVinci Code sequel) … I’ll finish it, but it’s so much like The DaVinci Code (and I didn’t love that) … I know his book sales prove me wrong, but I don’t think he’s that great of a writer. I think a more skilled writer could have made both books more seamless and interesting. But, what do I know?

I’ve still got Atlas Shrugged on my mind. I got a version with larger type for Mike (he’s old, you know) and I’ve informed him I do not want to talk to him until he can tell me exactly WHO John Galt is. 😉 If he would just stop going into work everyday, I think we might make some progress . . . I’ve also added the book to the boys’ summer reading list. (Just get those Beach Boys songs and thoughts of surfing out of your head right now!) It’s the only book on the list that is NOT optional for them to read. Yes, I think it’s THAT important.

I have lots of pictures to share – I just need to do that when Tim is awake and can guide me through it. Look for treehouse pics, guinea pig pics and strange boy pic over the weekend.

Human-ness and random things

Human-ness and random things
Monday, Mar 3, 2008

Today I think I came as close to being human as I have felt in about three weeks. I feel the same way I did after I had each of the kids. I remember being so surprised to “remember” that it isn’t that hard to clean the bathtub . . . if you’re not pregnant. Today was a day like that. It’s not that hard to grade math or get through a Latin lesson without breaking down in tears over wrong verb endings. Making the bed really doesn’t take 25-60 minutes if you don’t have to climb back into the bed after each step. It’s really amazing.

I paid the bills. Dealt with the plumber – we still have leaks/puddles. We got a full, really good day of schoolwork done. I made dinner!!! I used the time the kids were at tae kwon do (I DO like having Mike home for some of this driving stuff) to order some direly needed soap supplies. I also cleaned up my email boxes and cleaned my desk. It’s so nice to feel like a normal person again. Wonder how long this stuff will continue to thrill me?

On the soap front, there is much delicious goodness coming to The Foil Hat. I can hardly wait for things to start arriving. All kinds of great new smells that I think will please just about everyone. All kinds of restock smells that I’ve been lonely for for quite a few weeks. I’ll keep you posted when I’m not sitting out on the curb waiting for the UPS guy.

On the school front, we’ve been alternating lately between our regular Henle Latin text and translating Harrius Potter et Philosophi Lapis. Harry Potter has definitely brightened our lessons. We’re still on the first chapter and it’s hysterical. The boys are doing really well, but some of their translations kind of miss the mark. Keeps things interesting.

Our recent plumbing issues have forced a number of house issues to the forefront. Our laminate floors are totally toast. We’ve had to rip up the really bad portions because they were getting moldy. Andy and his friends love it that we have a “sidewalk” in the middle of the house. So, we’re facing flooring for the entire house. We’re really looking at doing an acid stain concrete floor. They’re very cool looking, easy to maintain and great for allergies. Plus, it’s affordable and if we hate it, we can install hardwood or tile right over the top.

Next house item that can’t really wait is our bathroom. Mike and I visited IKEA without the kids yesterday. We’re going to have to totally redo our miniscule bathroom and the smallness of so much of IKEA’s stuff looks like it will really work well for us. Mike looked kind of silly next to the sink we’re looking at, but he and I both agreed that I wouldn’t take pictures of him shaving in exchange for the possibility of actual storage and room to turn around in the bathroom.

We’re also looking at using some of their cabinetry for the kitchen. We’re not at a point where we can build our dream kitchen, but our current cabinets are starting to fall apart. I think these might be a good interim option. We’re considering putting in concrete counter tops (if the floors go well). Mike’s old boss and her significant other put them into their house and they are absolutely gorgeous. I’m so excited at the possibility of new counters I could just die. Since we’re redoing the kitchen part of the kitchen, I sprung my idea of doing a huge revamp of the dining area too. Mike liked it and couldn’t find the fatal flaws he usually finds in my ideas.

Cross your fingers – if we keep playing the lottery, we’ll be able to pay for all of this. And, if that works out, Mike will be too busy with all this stuff to be making me crazy every night messing with my stuff.

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11:47 PM (UTC -5)

Did I tell you?
Tuesday, Oct 9, 2007

No – I didn’t tell you. That’s the point of this post. I swear I’m so ready for Danny to drive just to get a break from driving all over town. That’s all we do. And, then I don’t have time to sit here and fill your heads with my wonderous thoughts, ideas and pictures. Be warned none of these paragraphs are connected in anyway.

First, can someone take on the job of warning me about federal holidays? I”m such an idiot. I spent nearly ALL day yesterday in my pink bathrobe waiting to assault the evil mail-lady with a stack of packages. Then, when she didn’t come in time, I had to drag all the kids to the post office. It was closed. How strange. And, still, nothing clicked in my head. We headed for the bank. Pulled up to an empty drive-thru. Curiouser and curiouser. Sometime around midnight, I saw the calendar. It was Columbus Day. I felt stoopid. Any help here would be appreciated.

And onto more exciting things. Andy wanted me to show you all this cool shell he found at the beach last week. We’ve never found one with all the points on it. This was our best find of the day. It definitely beat out the rancid coconut the older boys brought home. Consider yourself warned. Do not bring home coconuts washed up on the shore. Definitely do not open said coconut INSIDE your house if you do insist on bringing it home. Ewwwwwww . . .give me a chicken to mummify any day.

We dragged our Halloween stuff out of the attic. In one of the boxes, Andy found a baby sweatshirt that had been a gift for Danny’s first Halloween. I remember the sweatshirt being gigantic on his 7-wk-old little baby body. We had to roll up the sleeves when we put it on him. Now look how well it fits Andy! We couldn’t even get it on Danny’s head.

And, I just liked this picture. Andy looks soooo grown up to me here – even with the sauce on his face and shirt. His hands are nearly as big as mine now. How does this happen? I was here the whole time – guess I wasn’t paying close attention.

Ian and Tim had their braces tightened A LOT last week. They were both miserable. Ian decided to make spicy tomato/potato soup. This is the tomato base. We all just thought the pattern of the cream was cool looking. It kind of looks like an orange slice or a flower. The soup was so-so. Ian is a little-heavy handed with the red pepper. But, the soup and some ibuprofen got the boys through the night. (We’re going to try it again – if it comes out better, I’ll share the recipe.)

Tim makes me crazy sometimes. He’s the child most unlike me and I struggle with teaching him and just trying to understand how he thinks. But, the same stuff that makes me crazy is the same stuff that I love so much about him. Take this picture for instance. One minute, Tim and I were working through a math lesson. I turned to help Andy with something, turned around again and Tim was gone. I found him flat on his stomach in the middle of our street taking pictures of mushrooms. None of us had even noticed the mushrooms on the “island” across from our house. Apparently, it was the only thing on Tim’s mind that morning. Cool picture, huh? Amazing how quickly the math lesson went after he worked through the “mushroom series” dancing through his head.

Mike always drives me crazy. Sometimes in a good way. Sometimes not so good. The garage door opener started getting wonky this weekend. The controller is dead from kids smashing it and general abuse. The car controller thing works fine. I just mentioned it. I didn’t really want him to do anything. But, he’s Mike and he can’t NOT do anything. Behold, our new garage door opener. He was out there for over an hour and he came in so proud of himself. “All you have to do is touch the two wires together and the door will open!” Ummm…has this man met our children? This will lead to more blog posts, I’m sure.

OK – now I’ve told you everything you need to know to get on with your own life.

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08:43 PM (UTC -4)

Did I clean up my computer today?

Did I clean up my computer today?
Thursday, Aug 9, 2007

Ummm … not really. I spent a BIG part of my afternoon playing at a new online riddle. Some of you might like it. It’s Harry Potter based . . . it’s not easy, but it’s not British and the answers make sense once you find them. Here is the link. Give it a try. There is a help link on the site and if you don’t like that, Nordinho always has good hints – you just have to wade through them. And of course, you can email me at Have fun.

Dan is off to Boston tomorrow, I’m still jealous – it’s supposed to be only about 65 there tomorrow. He’s going to freeze. To me it sounds like heaven. Ian and Tim are going across town to a friend’s house. I’ll clean the computer then – Andy will be playing with his little neighborhood gang. I’m still not sure the best way to clean it up, but that’s why God made Google, right?

This has been a really long week. It took me yesterday to realize why I was so weird. Today is three years that I got that horrible call from Chili’s that Mike was very sick and could I come get him? (Feel free to skip this – my blog, my right to relive history.) It was the first time I left my boys alone (11, twins 10, and andy 4). When I first left the house, I really thought I was going to pick Mike up. But as I drove, I realized that in all our years together, I’d never had to go pick Mike up. Ever. I started to get scared.

When I reached Chili’s, I knew I had every reason to be scared. We went to the closest Emergency Department and they were more scared than I was. And, thus began a nearly 8 week long nightmare. And, the worst thing, the thing I always come back to is that I left the kids hanging for over 45 minutes before thinking to call them or someone to come stay with them. My stomach still churns just thinking about it. The kids were fine and not worried until my mom showed up to take care of them. But, I just left them and then forgot about them for nearly an hour.

The Mike nightmare was scattered with three random hurricanes (the ones that actually hit us), a couple of week-long power-outages, crazy family stuff and the added bonus of the nurse calling me to report on Mike’s condition every night – not always good reports.

I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to type it all out. What I do know is that Mike is alive and happy and healthy. What I also know is that the whole thing affected me and the kids much more deeply than it did Mike (morphine will do that to a guy, lol). I may look normal (well, normal for what you know about me) but inside, I’m still a jittery mess most of the time. It’s gotten much better over the years and I expect it will continue to get better. In the meantime, I’m so happy to put this date behind us once again (yes, it’s just a date, but it works in my head). Onward!!!!!

And, for the record, I played it safe and had soup for dinner tonight. 😉

For those of you who don’t know us irl or are new to my blog here’s a link to what happened to Mike. Weird, random and we were very lucky it happened when he was young and healthy. Boerhaave Syndrome

01:25 AM (UTC -4)

A day at home . . .

A day at home . . .

OK -we needed a day at home. The laundry is beyond piled up – I’m up late tonight washing stuff in the hopes that nothing grows mold. It’s disgusting – but worth a couple of fun days. Today was one of those “days-I’ve-been-waiting-for” kind of days. We all slept in. This, in and of itself, is good. Danny ate breakfast and left to sit on the neighbor kids, Andy went with him. Ian and Tim were invited to swim at another neighbor’s house. And, suddenly, there I was, alone in my pajamas. AND I WAS ALONE FOR FOUR HOURS. Me. By myself. It was actually kind of confusing.

I had no one to tell “I’m taking a shower and I don’t want to hear any screams or thumps or crashes for the next 10 minutes.” I just took a shower. Alone!!! And NOTHING happened. What the hell? I did some laundry – no one came out and unfolded everything I’d just folded. No one came out with one last “white” after I’d put the last white load into the washer. Color me befuddled. I took a nap. No one changed the tv channel. No one talked to me while I napped. Waaahhhh ….. This is scary territory folks.

Luckily, Mike and all the boys came home around the same time. Mike had a “surprise.” Here is the picture. See the zebra-ish thing on the tv cabinet? We’ve named him Sylvester after our all time, hands down favorite book – Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. Andy actually went and fetched the book and we all stood in the kitchen and read it AGAIN. Stupid donkey never gets any smarter. And, we never lose our enthusiasm for laughing at his situation. And now he lives here, disguised as a zebra!

And, because my boys seem to have a need to make me scream, this is what I met when I went out to the freezer tonight. Yes, the picture is creepy, but the thing talks to you as well. Gaahhhh. My brother will rue the day he gave that evil Yoda thing to Andy. That stupid doll haunts me at every turn. I try to brace myself, but they always catch me off guard. And then I scream and they laugh and it’s just so wrong. Matthew, I don’t think you read here, but if you do, consider yourself warned. Yoda, an Irish lei and a can of WD40 – how am I supposed to sleep peacefully???? Sure, I could hide Yoda, but he just comes back. I’ve given him away twice, yet there he is on top of my freezer. Send light sabers – real ones – quick. In the meantime, I’ll use Sylvester to hold the nasty little green guy off. Hurry. Posted on Friday, June 29, 2007, 02:48 AM (UTC -4)