Monday, June 30, 2008

Remembering Molly

Go read this.

Then cry and hold your children close. I serve an amazing, powerful God.

I hope you do too.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Guess I'm Right Where I Belong...

You Should Live in the Suburbs

Like many people, you like the city - but you don't want to live in it.

For you, the suburbs is the perfect compromise.

You can enjoy the city as much as you want, but you have a quiet, safe neighborhood to come home to.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Possible Sweet Pea Thoughts

"What is this crazy thing in my yard?"" I hate it. I hate it!"
"What is she doing?"
"Tigger is just crazy. They're all crazy. Who came up with this idea? I bet it was Daddy."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fun in the Sun

Today the girls tried out their new "Slip 'n Slide." Tigger, as always, was more interested in her chic new swimwear and oh so stylin' shades: Polly eventually figured it out:

Sweet Pea decided that if the Good Lord had wanted us to run through squirting water, we'd all have geysers in our backyards. In other words, she balked. But as a bonus here's a picture of me taken by, well, myself:
How are you keeping cool these days?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Reading Prizes

Our library's Summer Reading Program is in full swing right now. I can't tell you how much it thrills me to walk into our living room and see Polly reading to her younger sisters. Polly is reading everything she can get her hands on right now. She's not quite chapter book ready but she's come a long way since last fall.

But back to the Reading Program, you have to read five books and then you turn in your ticket for a prize. After reading 20 books you get a...wait for it...NEW BOOK of your very own! My only complaint with that is that the selection is rather limited and, as you might guess, I'm rather picky about what books my girls bring home.

That little quibble aside, it's a great program and the girls love it. The prizes are just little carnival type do-dads: rubber ducks, squishy rubber balls and the like. Our girls seem to choose a favorite prize each year that they bring home again and again. One year it was rubber ducks, one year it was jump ropes.

This year it's microphones. Yes, "Echo Microphones" which take Polly's shrill sweet voice and Tigger's voice that could peal paint harmony and project it around our tiny home.

Whatever happened to librarians encouraging us "Shhhh?" I love our library but I can assure you that librarians do not ask people to be quiet any more. Probably because people can't put their cell phones away for the fifteen minutes it takes to pick out a few books or magazines. But I digress.

Polly informs me that "because we have enough microphones now" when a friend comes over this afternoon, "we will have a concert".

So if I complain of a headache in the next few blog posts, you'll know why.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I'm Still Here

Well, in my unexplained absence since our anniversary you probably thought we just floated away on clouds of blissful happiness...

What? You didn't actually think that?

Right. Obviously we did not. But we did have a nice anniversary in which we didn't really do anything special per se, except go out sans children (Thanks to good friends. They were recovering from the stomach plague of death and still willingly watched our girls. That's going above and beyond!), eating a meal neither of us actually enjoyed all that much, walking around a local mall but not buying or even wanting to buy anything, and finishing up at our favorite coffee shop where I enjoyed the best frothy coffee concoction I've ever had. Seriously. Even Prince Charming, whose usual taste in coffee is much simpler, stole shared several long swigs of this drink. If it were possibly to float away in clouds of whipped topping, I would have done it then.

So, as you see, it was a wonderful evening. It far surpassed our honeymoon - three days when our marriage almost died before it even started. I'm not kidding. I'd say I'd tell you all about it but I've spent nine years suppressing those memories - and several of our anniversaries.

The most exciting thing we did this year is dream about next year. We are planning to go overseas, specifically Great Britain, but we haven't narrowed it down more than that, yet. So if you're a great world traveler feel free to give us your favorite stops and hints for going abroad. (Are you reading this, Tarah?)

In the meantime life goes on. We're over -thankfully - the Great Stomach Plague of '08, we've spent time with both sets of my grandparents in the past 2 days, Polly has finished her first formal year of school, Tigger seems to be coming out of the worst of the toddler years (finally!), and Sweet Pea is getting into everything (She climbs! Neither of my other girls climbed!). Stay tuned...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Once Upon A Time

This boy man promised to take This girl woman
And love, honor and cherish her forever.
And he did.

...This is my beloved and this is my friend...
Song of Solomon 5:16
June 19, 1999

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

In which we return to real life

You'll all be happy to know that our plague of sickness seems to have finally gone away. No doubt to some other poor family, may they recover quickly and may we never ever see the like of it again.

Unfortunately this lack of sickness leaves me with very little good blogging material. Ordinary, everyday procrastination (which I am indulging in now as I ought to be working on my story or at the very least switching the laundry, possibly preparing supper for my children so we can go to prayer meeting in a little bit) just doesn't present many jump off the screen anecdotes.

But wait, I haven't mentioned our fire, yet! No, I'm not referring to the microwave fire. That is so last month. And, by the way, we still have not replaced our microwave and we're getting along just fine. We may get another one someday but for now I like my counter space.

Back to my original story, last Friday night (yes, during VBS), I turned on the oven so we could make a quick fish sandwich dinner. (No lectures on the healthiness of our meals, please. It was supposed to be fast.)

Then I went to the computer to waste some time do important things. A few minutes later Polly calls from the kitchen, "There's a lot of smoke in here."

She did not exaggerate. There was a lot of smoke. And flames. Real, honest to goodness flames leaping in my oven. Prince Charming had me move the children out and check on line to see what to do. The first piece of advice listed on the website Google led me to? "Call 9-1-1". How helpful.

Meanwhile the flames grew hotter... No, I'm just trying to spool this story out. Actually Prince Charming remembered that we do actually own a fire extinguisher for just such an occasion and out that fire went.

So yes, technically, I started another fire. But really it was Prince Charming's fault because he had made a big cheesecake and it spilled over and that's what caught on fire. As to which of us should have cleaned out the oven I really couldn't say. And I'm the one who insisted we have a fire extinguisher anyway, in order to lower our house insurance. So there you go.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Monday, June 16, 2008

You Don't Want To Know

Well, forget what I said last week about my stomach hating me. Turns out it was only slightly disgruntled.

Yesterday, now that's when it really hated me.

But not all day. We had a good Father's Day with family. We ate a big lunch. We were tired but then, who isn't after such a draining week?

But last night from about 10:00 on...I can't even blog about it. But if I were to blog about it, it would look something like this:

10:00 p.m. Prince Charming & I are not feeling very well
10:30 Really not good
11:00 Getting worried at this point
12:00 a.m. Trying to sleep
1:00 Unbloggable horrors that should not even be thought of, much less written out
2:00 More of the above punctuated by intermittent sleep
3:00 Polly wakes up not feeling good
3:15 Polly really not good
3:30 Unbloggable horrors
4:00-6:00 fitful sleep by 2 sick members of family in the living room, 1 person goes back to his own bed, not to name names
6:00 Polly loses whatever she had left in her stomach and proceeds to cheerfully compare this episode to the last stomach bug she had
6:15 Back to fitful sleeping
7:00 Tigger and Sweet Pea up and ready to start the day
10:30 Polly puts herself back to bed
11:00 Prince Charming provides emergency provisions (Gatorade, Sprite, saltines, electrolyte drink for Sweet Pea).
11:10 Prince Charming goes back to bed
11:30 Sweet Pea back to bed; I go back to bed leaving only Tigger up

Which brings us through the worst of it. We're still exhausted and falling asleep even when we don't intend to but hopefully the worst is over.

Turns out Sweet Pea probably wasn't car sick Saturday morning like we thought. And Tigger didn't just skip breakfast Sunday morning for no reason (Tigger is generally not a morning person - today being the exception, of course).

With 4 of us still dragging (Sweet Pea not having fully recovered either), Tigger is bustling around, enjoying her opportunity to act as benevolent nursemaid when the mood strikes her.

So thank-you, mother of sick little boy who sent him to VBS anyway. Thank-you, so much.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Happy Father's Day!

You got a card, right? And a gift, right? 'Cause time is up!

I love my dad (who sometimes reads this blog so, "Hi, Dad!") and my husband (who only reads this blog on occasion so I'm not going to greet him. Unless you're reading right now, in which case, "love you".). They are both great men and wonderful fathers.

With the addition of The Bear (who isn't a dad yet and mercy, what an image that just brought to my mind!), they are my 3 favorite guys in the whole world. Yep, out of 6 billion+ people these are my top 3 favorite men on the entire planet. No pressure or anything, guys.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Quote of the Week

Prince Charming to Tigger: "So, how did you like VBS?"

Tigger (who is wearing a foam crown, Kool-aid mustache, and whatnot): "What's VBS?"

Prince Charming: "!" "Vacation Bible School. At church. That we went to"

Tigger (recognition beginning to dawn): "Oh, yeah. It was good."

That about sums it up, I think.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Quick Update

House, general tidiness of: improving.

Laundry, having been folded and put away: done and done, including those pesky hang up items that I usually procrastinate over until I have another week's worth to deal with.

Nose: marginal improvement, so far no pharmacological intervention required, tissues in pockets at all times still required.

Stomach: much better.

Daily work on novel: alas, not happening this week. I am thinking about it and researching certain elements, so that's something.

General habits: actually managed a long hot shower this morning, feel much more human when clean and oh so sweet smelling. Why is that?

With children: have read to Tigger; did History and Language with Polly; cuddled and tickled Sweet Pea; other various mom-child activities with no yelling or threatening or crying by anyone including me.

Still to do: about a million and a half things but that's better than the billion and a half that had to be done yesterday afternoon. We just might make it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Wait, Wait, Don't Go!

Well, my devoted blog readers - all three of you - I must thank you for your forbearance. And I assure that this is not yet another gripe / grievance / grumble.

Today I woke up - before the alarm went off, which never happens - and determined that today would be better. I would take control of myself. (Which, incidentally, is what we tell Tigger when she is 'pitching a fit'. "Control yourself". So today I took my own advice.) Here's what happened:

I finished reading a book before I had to make sure the barbarians didn't sack my kitchen.

I started a load of laundry. I read one chapter of my Bible before my youngest demanded my undivided attention through a triple combination of cuteness, dirtiness, and insistence. ("Ma-Ma!)

Then my nose started running. And it ran. And it ran. Folks, I had used so many tissues I actually contemplated using my sleeve. I mean, it's right there and it's soft, right?

Don't worry. I didn't actually do it. But I did think about it.

Round about ten it became obvious that pharmaceutical intervention was required. So I complied. Then I ate lunch with the family, got the girls down for their afternoon rest time and sacked out on the couch. (Have I mentioned my stomach still hates me?)

When I woke up my nose was still running. Which required more medicine but I didn't go back to sleep. I moved laundry around and read a bit and just generally vegged while my Prince Charming cooked up one of his stir-fry dinners. (Yes, my husband is an excellent cook - and he cooks most nights. Sorry, ladies, he's taken.)

By the time the last grain of rice was polished off it was time to prepare for another round of VBS. But tonight was different. I fixed my little ol' attitude and got me to church. I can't say what I looked like (one worker told me I looked "sad" and another asked me if I was "o.k." while actually I'm not sad and I'm just fine, thanks.) but I was there, I helped, and most important, I didn't do or say anything that made anyone else mad.

Is the laundry folded? No. Is my house completely tidy? Um, no. Did everyone get fed, dressed and to church reasonably cheerful and alert? Yes. Am I tired of this asking / answering my own questions? Definitely.

So, in sum, slight improvement. I even partook of some the VBS refreshments: cookie only, no Kool-Aid. I'm not saying our Kool-Aid is any worse than any other powder based kid's drink but that's fairly faint praise.

Monday, June 9, 2008

I'm A Rebel

Oh, yes I am.

I moved Polly out of the class to which the Powers That Be in our VBS had assigned her (after I specified she was to go in another). She is now back in what I consider the proper class for her emotional maturity, reading skills, and spiritual growth.

Also, I manged (unrelated to the whole moving Polly thing) to tick off at least three other teachers. Don't try to reason with them - it just makes them madder. Common sense has nothing against decades of nonsensical tradition. And these are supposedly Christian women and men. Is it any wonder I don't send my child to public school so I can have these same fights against secularists?

Who knew that VBS could be such a perilous battlefield?

Remember when I was grumbling earlier today? Maybe I should have just stayed home. I'm pretty sure this week is not going to be good for my stomach problems.

Next year I think we'll actually go on Vacation during this week.

I think I'll Just Go Back to Bed

Warning! Grumbling to commence forthwith!

My house is a disaster. I mean it. Unlike sometimes when I'm just exaggerating. This time it is true. And with the 3 Ring Circus that is VBS starting tonight, I don't see this improving any time soon.

I've spent over 2 hours in the van today, driving back and forth various places in preparation for aforementioned VBS. It is hot, humid, and gas is expensive. Don't ask me how that makes me feel. You don't want to know.

My stomach hates me. I will not share the details but here's the idea: I don't feel bad - until I do. I haven't eaten lunch and I have taken a nap (which is part of the reason the house is a disaster). I didn't dare go to the Library with my husband and daughters today- which should say something about how I feel.

So until I feel like a contributing member of the human race I think I should just go back to bed. If you're interested in meeting sometime commenter "Lulu" (also known as one of my younger sisters) you can go check out her brand new blog. Ask her about her dogs.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Library Sale Report

For those of you that know me well, or are at least aware of my shopping habits, you know that I dream all year about the Big Downtown Library Book Sale - Bag Day. Seriously, I do actually dream about it. I'll admit it's a sickness but I'm not going to change.

Anyhow, said sale was Friday. So, thanks to my darling sister who spent all night and watched the girls for us in the morning, Prince Charming and I were there bright and early. Like, 35 minutes before the sale started.

Which you have to do because the line starts forming 45 minutes to and hour before the sale starts. It's that good. And, because this sale is Downtown and there are more than a few unsavory characters around, Prince Charming goes with me and parks our car - which is actually a minivan and have you tried to parallel park those things? Me either. That's another reason why he goes. Then he stands with me in the aforementioned line while the unsavory characters mill about.

Then the doors open, promptly but not early and the line, which has now stretched down the block surges forward. Including unsavory characters who have apparently never met a line they couldn't jump.

I can't stand line jumpers. But I wasn't about to correct these citizens. I value my life more than books, after all. Just barely.

So what you do is buy a bag from the be-aproned library volunteers for $10. It used to be $5 but the bags were smaller. Now it costs more but the bags are bigger. I think it's a pretty good trade. We'll see if next year it will be $10 with smaller bags. That might cool my ardor for this sale. But it probably won't and here's why: we bought four bags. (We started with two but really, what were we thinking? We quickly bought two more.) And we brought home all of this:

28 Paperbacks - lots of classics, a few Shakespeare plays, and even a copy of Wuthering Heights (which Princess pointed out I don't like but hey, there's no rule that says you have to like a book to own it).

4 Hardback fiction - an Agatha Christie mystery, a set of old Rudyard Kipling books, something else that escapes my memory

7 Hardcover art books - five of these are in nice slipcases

2 Hardback non-fiction - titles are currently escaping me

3 travel books - two of these are huge hardback books about Great Britain which Prince Charming and I are planning to visit for our 10th anniversary.

1 vintage set of WW2 headlines from the local paper

3 homeschooling books

3 VHS tapes - sure, we prefer DVD but we can still watch these

15 records - which we can play on our beautiful Crosley

2 78 rpm record sets - these are pre-WW2 vintage. One is Danny Kaye and I forget the other right now.

4 pieces of sheet music or piano books

49 music c.d.s - two of which are duplicates because Prince Charming lost track of what he was getting and because we both picked up the same soundtrack and the other didn't know it. Also one duplicate of a c.d. we bought at the last library sale. But still, that leaves us with 46 new to us c.d.s.

4 books on c.d.

1 foreign language lesson set on tape

7 children's fiction books - including two vintage Beverly Cleary

13 picture books

38 children's nonfiction - these are for our growing homeschool library. I found several great Usborne books and some Kingfisher reference books.

6 children's books on c.d.

8 children's books on tape

15 picture books with story tape - we could have gotten many more of these because the library system is getting rid of all of them. Alas, I did not have the patience, time or bag space to go through them all.

So, that's a total of 213 things, unless I missed something. Which comes to $0.18 a piece. Not too shabby. Last year our price per item was $0.15, but, as I said, the bag price has gone up and we didn't get so many non-fiction books. Nonfiction tends to be heavier than fiction.

Those of you that have seen my house are now laughing yourself silly. "Where are you going to put it all," I hear you saying.

Never you mind. We can always make room for books. Prince Charming suggested we start piling them on top the refrigerator but I'm not that desperate. Yet.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Photography habits explained

I realize that I've posted a lot of pictures of my girls sleeping in the past few days. The reason, of course, is that I think they're adorable when they sleep.

The reason there are no pictures of Tigger sleeping? Because it is a proverb around here that sleeping Tiggers are not to be disturbed, even to take cute little snapshots. "Let sleeping Tiggers lie" is a good rule of thumb. She hates nap time but she needs it desperately.

More importantly, I need her to take a nap. So unless she falls asleep in the bath or on the floor or outside or something (highly unlikely considering she doesn't sit still long enough to "accidentally" fall asleep), there will be no Tigger napping pictures.

So how 'bout this blurry pigtail pic instead? Look at that sweet little smile. She can't possibly be the handful I'm always describing? Can she? Let's just say that when I start getting gray hair ('cause I don't have any - yet. But the vigilant watch continues...) they will be 80% Tigger's work.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

She May Be Six-and-a-half...

But she's not too old to fall asleep on Mom and Dad's bed.
Polly catching some afternoon beauty sleep.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

How We Know Service is Slow

What's a girl to do when she has to wait too long for her supper?
Take an impromptu nap, of course. When your boppy (pacifier), blanky and panda are handy how can you resist?
Yes, we did wake her up to eat.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Books of 2008 - May

1. The War Against Miss Winter. Fiction by Kathryn Miller Haines. A mystery set in 1942-43 New York City. Interesting, quick read but a bit too dependent on period slang for my taste.

2. Silent in the Grave. Fiction, series mystery by Deanna Raybourn. Excellent first effort: engaging characters, quickly moving plot with somewhat implausible ending. Repetitive use of the phrase "to his credit". Ms. Raybourn has a fun blog too, where she talks about her books and writing, among other things.

3. Daily Life in the U.S. 1920-1940. Non-fiction by David Kyvig. Read as research / background for my novel. Very helpful and informative.

4. Silent in the Sanctuary. Fiction, series mystery by Deanna Raybourn. Second effort. Most of the same strengths and weaknesses of the first (#2 above).

5. Dumbing Us Down. Non-fiction by John Taylor Gatto. Must read for anyone interested in education in the U.S.

6. Here Be Dragons. Fiction by Sharon Kay Penman. I read some of Penman's mysteries last year. This is intense historical fiction. I didn't love it but it was engrossing. I think a pronunciation guide would have been more helpful than the characters explaining how to pronounce things. Whenever that happened it took me right out of the story.

7. The Greatest Generation Grows Up. Non-fiction by Kriste Lindenmayer. Read for the same reasons as #3 above. Unfortunately this work was more about the author's politics and preconceptions. Not helpful, not insightful, not worth it.

8. Gifts: Mothers Reflect on Children With Downs Syndrome. Non-fiction edited by Kathryn Lynard Soper. A collection of heartwarming, thought provoking, challenging, honest, uplifting essays.

9. Apartment Therapy. Non-fiction by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan. Decorating book with lots of great pictures and ideas. Not all the homes were to my taste but that's to be expected.

10. The Dead Guy Interviews. Humor by Michael Stusser. Wore thin after a chapter of two. Read like an over-extended blog post. The author's politics don't match my own and his obsession with the private lives (read: intimate personal moments) of historical figures irritated me.

11. Amusing Ourselves To Death. Non-fiction by Neil Postman. First published in the early '80's. I'd love to read an update of this book - I'm sure things haven't gotten better. Still a must read for those concerned with our culture, specifically the lack of reading.

12. Chasing Harry Winston. Fiction by Lauren Weisberger. Quick chick-lit read while out of town. Very few redeeming qualities. Far too many annoyances: condescension to those of us that live in "fly-over country", obsession with promiscuity and crude language, selfish characters that remain selfish and entirely self-centered, sloppy plot and pacing. In short: avoid it.

This seems like a fiction heavy month because I've also been working on Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind and Winston Churchill's The Gathering Storm all month. Hopefully I'll finish those two in June.