Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Post I Should Have Written Yesterday

So yesterday I wrote a long post about some things that have been bugging me. I tried to finish it off on a positive note but when I hit publish it didn't work. One of the kids had accidentally disconnected the modem. We reconnected it but the last time my post had saved was early in the writing and I didn't feel like writing it all again.

Maybe God was trying to tell me something because I think it's much better that I didn't publish it. Writing it was cathartic but publishing it would have been too much.

There was one point of annoyance in the post, however, that I would like to state again as kindly as I can (and this is not directed at any one person but it seems to keep coming up):

We are not disappointed that Baby Girl #4 is Baby Girl #4 (name yet to be determined...). We do not live in China (where the 1 child policy has so heavily favored boys that the future of the country is in doubt). Our girls have all been blessings and this little one is no different. We can't wait to meet her in person.

I can't wait because, depending on her mood, I feel like I'm carrying either
a) a monkey
b) an octopus
c) an entire dance troupe

And yet the ultrasound has assured us that there is only one little baby girl in there.

I suspect this means she will be a quiet, docile baby just so that I look like a liar when I say that I do not remember any of the other girls (yes, even Sweet Pea) being this active.

To sum up:
Baby Girl = good, exciting, blessing
Crazy intrauterine antics = slightly worrying but also exciting

Thursday, June 24, 2010

From the Commonplace Book

Christ says, "Give me all. I don't want so much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want you." - C.S. Lewis
And one of my all time favorites that never fails to convict me:
The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried. - G.K. Chesterton.

Monday, June 21, 2010

For Lulu

Want to see what a good job we're doing taking care of Onyx?
Well, we decided she needed a bath. She didn't agree, exactly, but she couldn't resist such a dedicated team of dog groomers.

Not to mention the fact that we are still brushing her daily and getting enough fur to create numerous small dogs, were such a thing possible. She may be bald by the time you get her back.
But at least she'll smell OK.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happy 11th Wedding Anniversary

to my best friend and all around favorite person in the entire world.
Song of Solomon 5:16 - ...This is my beloved and this is my friend...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

An Observation from the Playground

Yesterday a friend and I decided that we weren't hot enough in our nice air conditioned homes. So we went to the park and watched our kiddos play on the playground for two hours. Other people had the same lapse in judgment so, while talking with my friend, I also engaged in one of my favorite outside activities: people watching.

There seemed to be several grandmas there with their grandchildren, which is not unusual. One set (a grandma, granddaughter and grandson) caught my attention. The grandma sat on the next bench over from us. Her grandkids were playing on a structure not far from us. The little girl (around 6 or 7 years old) starting acting mean with the other kids around her (including her own brother).

The grandma called the girl. No response. Called again. Still no response. Called again. The girl started drifting over our direction.

Now, I'd like to interject here that my own children are often prone to Playground Induced Deafness. Yesterday it was Sweet Pea. We hadn't been there ten minutes before I had occasion to call her over to me. I had to call several times before I had to insist she come and remind her that obedience is not optional. I did this quickly and unobtrusively and sent her back to playing.

I confess all that because I want you to know that I understand how playground discipline is often different from home. That's a fact. But discipline must still exist in some form.

This grandma called her granddaughter by name. Again. The granddaughter removed one of her ear buds.

Problem 1: This child is playing at a playground. Does she require constant background music as if her life is a movie and she's choosing the soundtrack? Take away the IPOD.

"What?" This child said in a belligerent tone. (You're shocked by that, I know.)

"Come over here." The girl cocked her head to the side.

"What do you want, Loser?" (I was shocked at this point. Note the child has still not complied and is now calling her own grandma a loser.)

Next the granddaughter went flying head over heels across the playground, courtesy of the back of her grandmother's hand.

OK, no, that didn't happen. That's what I wish would have happened.

"I just want to tell you something," the appropriately chastised grandma said. The girl sauntered over, one earbud still dangling. The grandma exhorted her to play nice and the child ran back to whatever she had been doing, inserting the earbud on the way.

Problem 2: I understand kids get to act different when out and about with grandparents but that does not excuse that kind of behavior or disrespect. Pack the kid up and leave. Pronto. Do not pass go. Do not collect ice cream on the way home.

Because you know what? Later, when it was time for this crew to leave (a bit before we did) the grandma asked each of her grandkids what kind of ice cream they wanted. Snotty Princess Ipod shouted, "Chocolate!"

If I ever, ever hear about one of my children acting that way toward one of their grandparents (or great grandparents or pretty much any authority figure ever), I can promise you they will not be worrying about what flavor of ice cream they get. Playgrounds, ice cream, mp3 players and just generally anything fun you can think of that a child might enjoy, are all privileges not rights.

You have my permission to act accordingly on this information. You're welcome.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Storytime and Why We Ditched It

News flash: VBS is over so summer is officially started. (OK, not "officially" but really, it might as well be declared). This means I am looking for ways to keep the girls from driving me nuts actively employed.

Yes, we homeschool so they are used to being home all day. Yes, they are used to entertaining themselves, generally. However, Summer days seem long and I don't like them to spend all day inside pestering me and each other.

So yesterday they played in the water outside for 2+ hours on the new slip 'n' slide and their old inflatable pool. Bliss, until Mommy and Daddy "ruined everything" by telling them they had to clean up and come inside for supper. Yeah, we're mean like that.

Today I had the brilliant idea of taking the girls to the library. (Fairly common occurrence for us, of course.) I realized that preschool story time just happened to be today at 10:30 so I rushed the girls into the van. We were all dressed and awake though my hair was still wet. We would make it despite all that.

Once in the library, the big girls took off to the kids' section and I took Sweet Pea into story time. Bad Parent Confession Time: it's been awhile since we did story time. Maybe like when Polly was little? Anyway, my memory was hazy.

Now story time when I was a kid involved books, yes, but also Punch and Judy puppet shows, games, fingerplays and music. And, most importantly, there were no parents. The two librarians managed to handle the group of children just fine on their own. Which meant the frazzled moms had about 30 minutes to go read a magazine, browse the books, or just sit in the peace and quiet. (Because libraries were quiet back then, remember?)

Not so today, my friends. The moms / nannies / grandmas sit behind the children for the entire program. The children are supposed to sit in a circle but really they walk around the room and talk almost constantly (The moms / nannies / grandmas do not stop this type of behavior so why are they there?). The librarian attempts to quiet everyone down every so often. He reads the book and solicits the children's input on what is happening in the story and whether they've done things like that before picking up the next book.

Sweet Pea made it through two stories of this before coming back over to me (sitting on the floor by the door, longing to be out of there) and telling me, "I'm ready to go now." That made two of us.

So we ditched story time and I had time to browse the books and movies before everything got too picked over. And my children enjoyed their time in the kids' section and picked up their reading program prizes. (Student volunteer, after checking Polly's record: "Wow. You must really  like to read." Polly: "It's my favorite thing to do." Student volunteer: "That's really great! I don't hear that too often." At a library?!)

Yes, we're going again next Tuesday. There are supposed to be fire trucks and firefighters there to talk about fire safety and older kids are invited. Maybe parents will be excused.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Water, Water, Everywhere

In order to celebrate the end of VBS we decided to spend Saturday...wait for up a flooded basement.

Let's face the facts: water does not belong in my basement unless it's in my washing machine or water heater.

Seeing as it was the end of VBS I had intended to sleep in Saturday morning. The only thing on my Saturday agenda was the Fennec's First Birthday Pool Party Extravaganza in the afternoon. It was dark and stormy, perfect sleeping conditions.

Until your husband comes in and tells you the basement is flooding and he's off to visitation. "See you later!"

Not happy times. Polly helped me go down and assess the damage. It wasn't good and, since it was still raining outside, water was still coming inside.

We started the clean up process downstairs and upstairs (after a week of VBS our house looked like...OK, just use your imaginations as no suitable analogy springs to mind). Polly and I were washing clothes and putting them away to rescue them from the water. Tigger and Sweet Pea were supposed to be putting toys and books away in their room. (Sample dialog from Tigger: "WHY oh why am I the only one picking up. I always have to do all the work in this house!" Not very wise on her part, under the circumstances.)

Then Prince Charming came home and it stopped raining and we made it to Fen's party. A good time was had by all except for the fact that swimming was canceled. Water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to swim in. 

Then we brought our sugared up girls home and re-started clean up. Two children earned themselves tickets to naptime. By the end of the afternoon things were in slightly better shape (and by "things" I mean actual things, the children, and myself).

I haven't been down there yet this morning - it's been raining again - but I sincerely hope there won't be any need for special gear. And the girls are agitating for their little swimming pool and their new slip 'n' slide (courtesy of the VBS prize store) to be set up.

You'd think they would have had enough of water by now. I know I have.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Happy First Birthday, Fen!

Until Fen came along, I had no idea that I could love a child that I didn't personally give birth to so very much.
But it turns out, I can. He's changed our lives and I have no idea what we would do without him. (Well, I'd probably get more sleep on Mondays and Wednesdays, but that's about it. Joking.)

Never a dull moment when he's around.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What's Going On Around Here

1. More Birthdays! Today is my brother-in-law's birthday. Alas, I have no baby pictures. Look at my pictures of Fen and then imagine a little boy with slightly darker hair around 20 years ago and that should do the trick.

Tomorrow is my Papaw's birthday (that would be my paternal grandfather). I'm not posting a baby picture of him either.

Thursday is Fen's First Birthday. Yep, the cutest little bundle of perpetual motion evah is the big 0-1. Large extravaganza to come this weekend. I probably will post about this again Thursday. After all, Fen deserves his own post.

2. Vacation Bible School! Started last night and the girls! are! so! excited! This is causing a few new parenting challenges but also some good "assists". For instance, Tigger really did not want to go to bed last night (imagine a thoroughly tired but completely over excited Tigger. Are you imagining it? It's not good news at bedtime) she was in the beginning stages of some fit throwing when I told her, "If you fuss about this and Daddy and I have to come back in this room when you should be asleep, I will tell your teacher tomorrow that you do not get your good behavior point." [we have a "store" at our VBS where points can be spent]

Worked like a charm. (Side note: I would have carried out this threat to speak to her teacher, but I suspect her teacher would give her the point anyway. Teachers always think Tigger is so sweet, so cute, and so quiet. That perception is correct a lot of the time, of course, and I hate to disillusion them about the rest of the time.)

3. Lulu came for a visit and has now returned home. I'm happy she came but not happy she had to go again. I don't think I got to see her enough. I was inclined to be pouty about this, but I know she did her best to make everybody happy in the short time she had. And right in the middle of her visit we had all sorts of company so it was like a reunion around here most of the time.

4. Fun Times in General. But I think you can see that already. And now, two actual conversations that took place in the past few days.

Sunday morning: Prince Charming had gone to church early with Pastor Dad so I drove the girls to church. Sweet Pea, as we pulled up, saw a tall guy walking toward our van. "Daddy!" she said. But it wasn't. And as he drew closer she realized it.

"That's not my daddy," she told us. "That's not anybody's daddy." I can't possibly replicate on a blog the tone of her voice. She was correct, by the way. The man walking by is one of our church's bachelors: no wife, no kids. For some reason these statements completely cracked her sisters (and me, of course) up.

And in the midst of all this busy activity, Polly came upon me applying a bit of makeup (note: I do not wear much makeup, honest!). "Why do you use that?" She asked.

"Mostly so I don't look tired all the time," I told her. *long pause*

"You still look tired," she said.

I wonder why that would be.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Books Sitting in My To Be Read Pile:

I've been asked how I read so many books, why I read certain books, and other thing like that. Here's a peek at what my to be read stack looks like at this moment.

From the library:

1. The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer. Status: started. Picked it up because I like History and because it looked interesting. So far, so good.
2. What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst. Status: not started. Ordered it because I'm checking out the author as one option for our next Bible study.
3. Vittoria Cottage by D.E. Stevenson. Status: not started & already renewed once. Ordered it because I like vintage fiction.
4. Nanny State by David Harsanyi. Status: not started. Ordered it I think because it was suggested in the book Just Food but I can't actually remember.
5. Homeschooling our Children, Unschooling Ourselves by Alison McKee. Status: started but only just because I'm having trouble getting into it. I ordered this one but I can't remember why. Maybe I was just browsing what our library system offered about homeschooling.
6. The Twilight Years: The Paradox of Britain Between the Wars by Richard Overy. Status: not started. Ordered because of my interest in WW2 and also my respect for Mr. Overy as a writer and historian.


1. Parenting Today's Adolescent by Dennis & Barbara Rainey. My first Paperback Swap book to actually come in. Prince Charming and I both want to read this because - reality check! - we will have a nine year old this year and adolescence is approaching quickly.
2. A Little Folly by Jude Morgan. Prince Charming gave me this novel for my birthday. I can't wait to read it, except for the fact that I have all this other stuff in the stack.
3. Bringing Up Girls by Dr. James Dobson. Pastor Dad dropped this one by today. Can't wait to read it, either.
4. Hard Times by Charles Dickens. This is the next Dickens book I need but our library only has one copy in the entire system. That's just wrong.

A Bible Study Suggestion

I just finished up a Bible Study that I just have to recommend to you. I had read the book written by Elizabeth George several years ago. This year, as I prayed about possibly sharing a bible study time with others from our church, I decided this book was the one I wanted to share. So recently several of the ladies from our church went through this work book and DVD curriculum with me. It challenged, inspired and encouraged me (and I hope the other ladies were too!).

It's 10 sessions (we did it in 9 due to other time constraints) and has 5 days of homework for each session. I consider it well worth the time. (I did the homework part in 15-20 minutes a day, usually. A few sections seemed to take longer or that could have just been me slowing down.)

Now I'm busy picking out the next Bible study for us to tackle this fall.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Thought for Thursday

Another day is now gone, and added to those for which we were before accountable. Teach us Almighty Father, to consider this solemn truth, as we should do, that we may feel the importance of every day, and every hour as it passes, and earnestly strive to make better use of what Thy goodness may yet bestow on us, than we have done of the time past. Amen. - from a prayer written by Jane Austen
And, just because I love Thomas Sowell and this quote seems to match the above words from our Immortal Jane:
Reflection is not a luxury but a prime necessity. - Thomas Sowell
Done any reflecting lately? Feels like I've been doing a lot. But that's OK. After all, it's a prime necessity.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Books of 2010 - May

1. The New Strong Willed Child. Non-fiction by James Dobson. I've read this one before. Let's just say I needed a refresher. All of my children have strong will elements in their natures (some more than others) and none of them are as bad (thankfully!) as some of the stories in this book. Still, a little parenting reminder was helpful.

2. The Art of Eating In. Non-fiction by Cathy Erway. This is a NYC food writer who gave up eating out for two years. Part food memoir, part manifesto it was fairly entertaining but not great.

3. Wedding Season. Fiction by Katie Fforde. This is a British author who writes frothy but surprisingly deep character fiction. Just what I wanted to read at this point in May.

4. Be CentsAble. Non-fiction by Chrissy Pate & Kristin McKee. Nothing ground breaking (for me) here but it was probably written for a different demographic. Like people who have never even considered not buying a new car or using a coupon.

5. Just Food. Non-fiction by James McWilliams. This was a thought provoking book for me. The author challenges the presumption of the local food movement and some logical fallacies but because he is an environmentalist he didn't quite go far enough for me. I found myself agreeing with a lot of what he wrote and discussing the rest with Prince Charming (who hadn't read the book and is very skeptical of environmental issues in general). I recommend this book as an alternative to Michael Pollan, et al.

6. House of Havoc. Non-fiction by Marni Jameson. Part memoir, part organizational guide. Funny and realistic.

7. The Double Comfort Safari Club. Fiction by Alexander McCall Smith. The latest installment in the Ladies' #1 Detective Agency series. Fun to read, as always.

8. The Mother at Home or The Principles of Maternal Duty. Non-fiction by John S. C. Abbott. This parenting book was written in 1834. The prose style is, of course, often melodramatic and takes some getting used to. But the content is good, challenging, and many parents could stand to read this. He isn't harsh at all, which surprised me.

9. Intellectuals and Society. Non-fiction by Thomas Sowell. I can't recommend this book highly enough. For that matter, I can't recommend Thomas Sowell highly enough. I'd love to have just a small percentage of his brain power. Prince Charming and I were reading this at the same time and we kept reading it out loud to each other with comments like, "This is exactly right" and "Everyone should be required to read Sowell".

Totals for May:
Fiction: 2
Non-fiction: 7
Dickens: none. Worked steadily on Bleak House (which I'm loving!) but didn't finish it.

This post is linked to Life as Mom's Booking It.