Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Friday, August 31, 2007

"This is NOT how I planned things!"

That was a neighbor's complaint the other day. Quite justified, I thought.
I turned to her. "You mean you didn't wake up one day at 18 or so and decide, 'I think I'll marry an abusive jerk, have two of his kids, bust my backside working to support us, get into a situation where I leave suddenly with the kids and get to spend some time at a shelter, move in with some friends where we get to share one room, start divorce proceedings, then find a low-paying job where I get sexually harassed? Well, ma'am, that makes you smart!"

She laughed, which was my goal. How few of us actually plan all of the details of our lives? Or even the big things? Including myself.

Last month or so, my beloved started chuckling to himself while driving home from church.
"What's funny?" I inquired.
"You, honey. Back in college, did you ever imagine yourself tooling along in a minivan on your way home from church with three kids, pregnant with another, listening to country music?"
I thought about it. Good question. I never gave much thought to what car I'd be driving. Even now I identify them by color. I always knew I wanted kids--at least two, but not sure about more. That's different. I was raised Catholic, so the church thing wasn't that odd either.
"Well, the country music is a surprise."

I guess I've just learned to roll with the punches.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I'm starting a meme.

Because I really want opinions on this. If I just left it for the comments box, I don't know how many actual replies I'd get.

It's "Ten Books Every Kid Should Have." Or "If you were trapped on a deserted island for a year with your child, which ten kids' books would you want to have?"

1. A good children's Bible. Even if you don't believe, I think in order to be an educated individual you need to be familiar with the stories. If you do believe, you probably already have one in mind!

2. A book of Aesop's fables. See above.

3. A good book of fairy tales. Same as #1. We make references to turning into a pumpkin or asking which dwarf someone is, avoiding the poison apple, etc. We need these.

4. Margot Zemach's It Could Always Be Worse. I remember this one from growing up, and there are days it just gets me through.

5. John Lithgow's Micawber. I've referred to it before. I still like it.

6. Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. A boy learning to appreciate home is a nice lesson for us all. Especially if you're trapped on a deserted island.

7, 8, 9, & 10--Treasuries of Virginia Lee Burton, E. B. White, Dr. Seuss, and H. A. Rey. Hey, if you're in it for a year, you want some bang for your buck. I can't choose any particular story from any of those authors and so choose all. Hey, it's my fantasy world.

Now whom do I tag? SuperShelly, CatholicCricket (actually, his wife), Milehimama, Sarah, and Melanie.

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Friday, August 24, 2007

Okay, it's getting difficult now.

This is the one post I will permit myself to complain this pregnancy. My back is making me aware that toting Rachel is not a wise decision. Cuddling Dale or Madeleine takes some adjustment, and having them sit on my lap for reading is done with a timer. I can still sleep on my back but I give it two more weeks, tops. I'm having to wake up for a nighttime bathroom trip and my varicose veins are making themselves felt. (At the risk of oversharing, they aren't in my legs, either.) And I'm just over halfway.

But I don't get nauseous, my blood pressure stays low, I've always lost the weight afterward, I don't have to quit any medications. I don't even get weird cravings--I just employ the pregnancy to indulge my sweet tooth more often. And frankly, one of my favorite things has always been feeling the baby move, even if it's kicking my bladder.

I've said that pregnancy is easy for me. Let us recall, "ease" is relative. So what do I mean? I do something like a cost-benefit analysis. All of these conditions and discomforts are temporary (except the varicose veins, and those aren't a constant).
By January I'll be able to go without somnambulistic potty wanderings. I won't be sleeping through the night with a newborn in the house, but at least I'll have company. Ibuprofen, which I'll probably get after delivery, will take care of the veins. The nursing will take care of the weight gained.
I'll have my lap back but for periodic monopolization by the newest, and after the first couple weeks I'll be able to carry any of the kids again. I'll be able to sleep on my back before coming home from the hospital.

What do I get in exchange for my suffering? Another child. Another whole new person to watch grow, learn, and change. All of my problems are temporary; in trade, I get to contribute an immortal soul to the world (and hopefully Heaven). My troubles will end; the child is eternal. The sacrifice I will have made is more than made up for in the joy of hearing his first laugh, first word, watching his first smile. Even the diapers will go away. The child will not.
After all, as a friend said today when discussing this very idea, "Remember how they used to say 'there's no I in teamwork'? There's no I in motherhood, either."

I think I can make it through. Just let me have the can of peaches and my compression tights, and I'll be fine.


All parents start out homeschooling.

I've been told that before and it just kind of washed over me. I remember the conversation but it's tugging at me for a post now.
And yes, I'll be honest and admit I'm trying to get your attention.

If you think about it, it's really true. The "experts" will tell you that a human being grows and changes the most in the first five years. Second is the five years (or so) of puberty. No other five-year bloc of time nearly compares.

Who is in charge during that time? I know there are working parents but they do have some say in the day care environment, right? So let's leave that issue aside.

What do kids learn in those first five years? Oh, whatever. Nothing really academic, so it can't be much.
*choke* *snort*
Pardon. I just had to recover myself at that thought.

Let's try that again. What do kids learn in the first five years? To crawl, walk, and run. They learn colors, numbers, object permanence, holding a crayon, how to relate to others...
They learn to talk. To communicate with others. The rudiments of letters, grammar, language, conversation. While they might not say much, their receptive language is staggering. Some--I was one of them--even learn to read.
They learn how to use the toilet, how to dress themselves, how to feed themselves, bathe themselves.

Oh, nothing much.

So, all parents start out homeschooling. It's just some (most) quit after five years or so. That seems silly to me, now. I mean, I was competent for the first five years. Did something magical happen where I am now clueless about how my child learns, what he or she likes, how much frustration is counterproductive and when it's close to breakthrough? When it's time for a break to run around the house for ten minutes and resume, and when to just scrap the plans for the day and get out the paintbrushes or sidewalk chalk?

Yeah. That's what's going through my mind at this moment.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I think he needs some props.

My dear husband is a great guy. I'm sure most of my readers, the married women out there, would say "Mine is better," which is as it should be. But bear with me.

He's been compelled to discover the Three Dollar Renovator's antics on more than one occasion. To my knowledge, he hasn't hired a hit man yet, but I'm sure he'd love to see him in a dark alley with a sock full of wood screws.

He gets me books, he reads, he discusses what he's reading without being condescending. Whether fiction, history, sci-fi, or whatever, he shares his opinion and wants mine. Except for the times when his author friend sends him stuff to get his suggestions. Then he goes into "lawyer mode" and he reveals nothing. At all. (Um, Author Friend Steve, is that necessary? Could he share with his wife?)

He loves our children. He gets home and is more patient with them than I am. He understands their victories in school, he reads to them, he encourages them to try again, he plays with them--baseball and soccer and football and Matchbox cars and princess-against-dragon. Or whatever they come up with.

He loves me. He offers to bring home supper when I've had a long day. He apologizes when I get hormonal and give him the silent treatment, even if I probably should go first. He notices when I vacuum but not when I don't. He listens to me expound on what I'm reading even if he's got zero interest in it himself.

Here's a true story that cracked up my sister about her brother-in-law.
He's a church-going, well-read, world-traveled, elevated-degreed, homeowning happily married husband and father. Late one Saturday afternoon about two years ago, my mother had happened by. So had a friend with her two young children. It was a nice enough day to have all of the kids in the backyard.
Apparently, Friend's (now ex-)husband had been demonstrating his retrograde evolution. He was refusing to go out for their younger child's diapers, she was getting away from him in protest. He came by on his bicycle looking for her (see, he'd lost his license for too many DUI's). Becoming aware of Neanderthal's visit, my husband came out and just sat on the deck. It vaguely reminded me of a lion and his pride, but I digress.
After Friend left with her kids, having made her point, Knuckledragger circled back. He did not even look in our yard, let alone make eye contact or say anything. I learned later he told her he came back to give me a piece of his mind; I reminded her he didn't have much to spare.
As my beloved watched him go, he said simply, "If he comes back, I'm cleaning my shotgun out here on the deck."



Monday, August 20, 2007

We're back now.

It was a rainy, cool weekend in the Northlands for Dale's family reunion.
No fights, no arguments (that I saw).
Just conversations, card-playing, and kids playing in the lake. Do they have internal thermometers that tell them 75 degrees is really too cold? Yeesh. And three of the kids were mine.

Anyway. Regular posting will resume, and I'll try to be more normal than weird. Oh, the stories some could tell. Some are more interesting than my moral lapses.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

News of the weird

I can be completely normal for only so long, and then the Weird just kind of takes over. So enjoy. And um... not all of these links are PG. I'm just sayin'.

1. For those who thought Moon Unit Zappa or Soleil Moon-Frye got the short end of the stick

2. Dale's tried this with Lucy, but he's pretty sure they said "No! Too fatty!" Er... yum?

3. Paging Dr. Kinison, or maybe Michael Moore... who may have more sympathy...

4. For all of your medicinal needs

Again with the prayers.

For those affected by this--wherever they may be.

Thank you.


My dad wasn't overly complicated.

Which isn't the same as dumb; he sure wasn't that either.

He was an Irish "pray-pay-obey" kind of Catholic. He served two hitches in the Army (one in the Airborne and the other in artillery), took the GI Bill to get his degree in accounting but burned all of his gear when he got out.
He loved his children, was married to their mother, and had a hard time telling them "No." He was a Reagan Democrat and a Silent Generation member.

And he said more than once, "There's just something not right about someone who doesn't like dogs."

God rest your soul, Dad.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Book post

I plowed through Sykes' Dumbing Down Our Kids. I think the best quote I can pull from it is toward the end: "[t]he first step of meaningful reform is to recognize that saving our children is not the same as saving the public school system." As it is, the procedures and values are so entrenched that we need to scrap the whole thing and start from scratch. I don't disagree--check out my last paragraph.

I think the problem stems from is the infiltration of relativism everywhere. Benedict XVI has mentioned the "dictatorship of relativism" and that's what it certainly smells like to me.

The idea of Creative Spelling, lack of grammar correction, and comparing correct spelling to simply etiquette sure sounds a lot like, "Do what feels good to you. There are no right or wrong answers."
And the Fuzzy Math in that chapter sounds the same. "It's the process we want to look at; being concerned about right answers is repressive and uncreative."

So won plus too iz for. And that's okay. It's old-fashioned, unpopular, destructive to children's self-esteem, and mean to say otherwise. He discusses the moral relativism in there, too, which is nice, but I'm not going to hit anyone over the head with that hammer.
Unfortunately, in adulthood, there are right and wrong answers and consequences thereof. After 13 or more years of "You're fine just as you are," finding that out the hard way is a bitter pill to swallow.

Here's a vignette from my own teaching experience.
The State of Michigan came down with new mandates for class time--it was to be increased something like 40 hours. My thought? "That's another five or six days! A whole week! I could get something more done!"
When we were told about it, our principal had it broken down: Six more days or four more minutes per class period, something like that. I found it ridiculous--four more minutes? Of what value is that? It's useless! Give me those six days!
When put to a vote, however, overwhelmingly the staff wanted four more minutes. I was disappointed but not surprised. We then had a new series of questions: Did that include lunch periods? Would we then have bells, since we wouldn't be ending right on the fives?
The most surreal moment to me was when one teacher, less than five years from retirement, raised her hand. "We will be getting paid for those additional forty hours, right?"

Cue Rod Serling. And I am so glad we're homeschooling...

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The consequences of homeschooling

Sunday at Mass Madeleine turned to me and said, "Mama, I want to make my First Communion." She told the priest afterward.
Now we're officially on the road to sacrament preparation. Not that we weren't before, but now we have a little zeitsfleische to move things along. (I may have spelled the German wrong.)

Today as I was sitting down with Madeleine for school, Rachel joined us. "I need to do my reading, Mama."
Wha? "You mean the yellow reading book for Dale? You want to start reading?"
"I want to do reading, Mama," she insisted.
So we did.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Jen F. had her baby!

Patrick Alan was born around 6:30 this morning. I don't have more details on him; everyone is doing fine. This does mean, though, that the worst-case scenario has come to pass.
She'll need prayers of support and microwavable dinners when she gets home on Wednesday.

That is all. :)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Celebrations of mediocrity

I'm reading Sykes' Dumbing Down our Kids, about how the self-esteem movement has eroded our schools. I'm finding a lot I agree with and all the more support for our homeschool decision. Before I go further, let me say this: I started reading Steinem's Revolution From Within some years back and couldn't get into it. It just seemed too sickeningly self-affirming. I actually got rid of it--a rare thing in this house, to get rid of a book.

I just couldn't deal with it. Thinking highly of oneself isn't bad, as long as one has a reason for it. I know I'm a pretty good cook because my family and palate tell me so. My housekeeping... it's an area of improvement. I can't realistically evaluate how good a mother I am until my kids are grown, but they show evidence that I'm at least adequate. [that didn't happen in a vacuum, either--see previous post.]

But to say "I'm wonderful just as I am and I don't need to improve" is malarkey. To hearken to our Christian ethics, God loves us just as we are but asks us to move closer to Him in His perfection. Which is one of those reasons I'm glad we're Catholic--to belong to a church that says "You're NOT okay just as you are. You need to reach higher, strive harder--and I will help you do that. I will lead the way, for I am the Way."

We hear that our schools don't have enough time or money to do and teach all they're being asked to do. That makes sense to me. There is only so much time in a school day and year (even homeschoolers don't have unlimited time). When you're teaching self-esteem, recognizing your needs, expressing your feelings, racial and ethnic sensitivity, creative self-expression, and waiting for the students to discover two millenia or more of mathematics, you run out of time for multiplication tables, correct spelling, and American history. Which are either boring, rote, stifling and uncreative or patriarchal, racist, and anti-multiculturalist anyway, so who needs them?

Okay, that last sentence is intended as sarcasm. If you look a little bit, though, you'll find those who believe it.

That brings me to my next point. I'm glad we've chosen classical homeschooling. Any parent who's paying attention can tell you little kids are like sponges. They pick up ideas, facts, and words at an astronomical rate. When they're little is the ideal time to teach things that need to be memorized because that's when they're the most adept at it. Primary and Grammatical stages, anyone?

The Experts will tell you they need to be able to express themselves, which is true, I guess, to a point. But if you want them to discuss who the better president was, Washington or Lincoln, and they have no idea who either was or what he did they have a hard time doing it.

The idea We're All Great... Whose definition of Hell is it where we're all gray? And wasn't there a Twilight Zone episode where this strange race all wore masks, because underneath they all looked the same? Maybe it was Star Trek. The lack of distinction or of variety of ability smacks of the feminist movement who want to eliminate all sex differences, or who argue they're societally conditioned. Equal doesn't mean identical, but that seems to be lost on some of them. It's not heightism to say "My husband is taller than I am." It's fact.

It makes me think of The Incredibles, where Dad calls the ceremony celebrating the advancement from third to fourth grade as "psychotic." I don't know if that's the right word, but his sentiment is spot on. I think it's Dash who says, "If everyone is special, then nobody is."

Now, I'm still noodling these thoughts. Bear with me since I think this is really the first installment on these ideas. And I'm still reading the book.

To be continued...

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Motherhood is hard.

It really is. No breaks, even when we get away. We're listening for the cell to ring or the cry from the next room. That doesn't make it not worth it; it just makes it challenging.

Being at home with the kids is hard, too. Some days it feels like I run from one "fire" to the next--figuratively, at least so far. From wiping at the potty to pouring beverages to one's injury to refereeing squabbles to cleaning up another's mess, all between chores and around toys. More than once a sink of hot dishwater has gone cold while I nurse a boo-boo, read a story, load the dryer, and sit down because I forgot about it.

What helps? The support I've stumbled upon in the past six years or so. There's my parish moms' club, for starters. Just last night one mom asked another about how she chose the Catholic school she did for her children, and another offered a remedy for a teething infant.
Then there was the now-defunct playgroup at our elementary school. It was walking distance away from home and all of the kids there were under 5. We discussed all of those issues that come up with new mothers, we got to talk, the kids got to play. Cease in funding killed it, but Madeleine was getting too old for it anyway. It got me through some rough days and put me in touch with the right people for Dale's speech way back when.
The last but certainly not least is the homeschool group. We get our kids out, share ideas for activities, share curriculum and parenting ideas and time budgeting.
And of course this blog, where I ask for advice about training pants and teaching reading and let you know about two-year-olds losing teeth and quartering oranges. It's a two-way street, this blog.

The advice of some wise men come to mind with this mothering thing. Red Green says, "We're all in this together." My own father said, "It won't be easy, but it will never be boring."
I think my favorite moment from recent television was on Desperate Housewives, where Lynnette just loses it. After fantasizing about ending it all with a handgun like the show's narrator, she runs off to the school football field. Her friends find her there in tears. They all share their mothering doubts and insecurities, their fears from past, present, and future. "Why didn't any of you tell me this?" she laments.

I'll admit now. Some days, I get no chores done at all. No dishes, laundry, sweeping or vacuuming. I call my husband and he brings home pizza for dinner. I read to them the minimum and they watched a lot of TV. I kept them alive and fed, and when it's over they're safely asleep in their own beds.
And that is enough.

UPDATE: It was gently pointed out to me that this seems quite negative. Let me say that yes, motherhood is the hardest job I've ever had. It is also the most rewarding, by far and away, and there is nothing I would rather be doing. I love my children and all of their quirks and idiosyncracies. Watching them turn from "baby puddles" to thinking, reading, interactive human beings is so taxing because it's so rewarding. There is nothing more difficult or more important.

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Thursday, August 09, 2007

Simplified vs. dumbed down

You know by now, Gentle Reader, that we are book people here. And you know that I'm kind of a snob, at least for myself. Give me the unabridged version, thankyouverymuch. Annotated is fine, analysis is great, footnotes are encouraged. But don't cut or dumb it down on me. I can handle it.

So that may bring up the question of why we have forty-some Great Illustrated Classics [GIC]. In short, they're for the kids. I'm not reading them; they're there for me to read to the kids or, soon enough, for them to read to themselves.

A friend was recently discussing those with a friend of hers who wasn't as much of a fan. Now, let's get something established first. There's a difference between simplified and dumbed down. The difference is relevant to the original source. To take the Little House books and make them "easy readers" is dumbing them down where the GIC version of Count of Monte Cristo is simplified. What's the difference?

Listen, have you looked at these? The Little House books are written at maybe a third grade level. That's not an insult since I'll bet they're intended for 8-year-old girls. They just don't have much room to move down, you know?
But Count of MC is fifteen hundred pages. That's a lot to drop in front of someone, especially a kid. Even in English is a high school reading level, anyway. The same goes for others--Pride and Prejudice, Three Musketeers, Time Machine, Huckleberry Finn, Black Beauty, Little Women, Treasure Island, Kidnapped, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist. [Can you tell we have more than a few?]
I realize some of the GIC books are already kids' books and I'm okay with that. The Wizard of Oz, The Secret Garden--so be it. In a few years they may want the original version. I've never read the original Wizard but I get the reference if someone says, "We're not in Kansas anymore" or "I'll just sic my flying monkeys on you." Though I have seen the movie...
If Dale remembers us reading Huck Finn together and picks up the GIC version in a few years, great. I think that makes it more likely that, when he discovers there's an "adult" version, he'll want to find out what he missed. He won't spend time wondering about the storyline; he'll be able to concentrate on the deeper issues in the novel.
It's kind of like me with books versus movies. Yeah, I'll watch the movie, but I'd really rather read the book. Dale already is talking about reading The Black Stallion since he's seen the movie.

I know too that some are on Kolbe's middle school lit program. If any of my kids tries to get away with reading those instead of the original, it will not be kosher. But if they've read the GIC version in third grade, and have an idea what's going on when they read it in seventh or eighth, it will be a good thing.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I believe this.

Money quote in my book:
Further research revealed that one-third of the children ate at McDonald's more than once a week, and more than three-quarters had McDonald's toys at home. In addition, the children in the study had an average of 2.4 televisions in their homes. More than half the kids had a TV in their bedrooms.
Here's the link to the article.

I don't think mine get McDonald's once a month but I don't really keep track. I'm certain we only have one TV in the house. If they're watching, most of the time it's commercial-free.

H/T to SFO Mom, Danielle Bean.


And another thing...

Madeleine lost her second tooth today. She wanted me to post about it, so here it is.

And if you'd like to see pictures of Louis, a couple are here. That isn't the best shot of the boy evidence; those came pretty early on. She made sure we wanted to know. As soon as she touched me with the machine I asked, "Is that what I think it is? We have another boy?" We were looking from the bottom-up and I didn't think it was the cord between his legs.
"Yep, that's the boy parts!"


I love Sitemeter.

Because it tells me I've had over 80 hits in the past two days. Weird.

Now, I know a fair share are about Jen F., but that still leaves more than my daily average has been. Some of you I know--like I know who's checking from Ann Arbor, MI and Dale's from work. There's a very familiar one in Chicago, too. I think I know the Everett, WA is; hi, Mark!

But if I may be so curious, who's checking from Naperville, IL? Welcome! And I've had hits from Ohio State, Tufts, and Vanderbilt. Interesting. The recent hits from India are neat, too. Same for Australia.

It feels like Rocky Horror: "Mouseketeer Roll Call, sound off!" If you've never commented before, here's your invitation!


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Hey, I haven't talked about school in a while.

So I will now!
Our quarterly report is sort-of due this week. Well, as "due" as anything optional is, but since she's in first grade, I would like to have a record to show any questioners.
I was getting kind of worked up about it so I talked it over with another friend. I've given her the "Snap out of it!" speech; now it was her turn.
"You're just getting all wound up because it's the first time. I'll admit, I'll be ten times worse when my turn comes around, but come on. Nobody turns in a perfectly pristine report on time unless they're homeschooling an only child. In a few years, when you have Madeleine, Dale, and Rachel with the little one chewing on the crayons, you'll just grab something, say, 'This will do,' scrape the dried spaghetti off the corner, and send it in. I'll just figure the grease stains won't show up in the copies. We'll both be sending them stuff with ants in it."

After I stopped laughing, I realized she was right.

So... Madeleine is halfway, or almost, through first grade phonics, grammar, science, and spelling. We already started second grade history (it's Bible history) and we'll start second-grade reading and spelling when we get the books, which hopefully will be any day now. We ordered them before my birthday. Math we're on time, but that's okay. I think she needed a break from it. Yeah, we're doing school through the summer. I don't care to spend a few weeks or a month reviewing what she forgot over the summer.
Dale is up to Lesson 13 in Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. We hit a hurdle--no, make that a brick wall--with Lesson 12. After too long at the table, way too much yelling and tears, we put it aside for the weekend. When we picked it up again yesterday it was much better. He's recognizing see, eat, meat, rat, and seed. Most of the time, anyway. I'm still waiting for him to recognize one away from the book, but I did point out SAM on the Old Yeller/Savage Sam DVD box. I think it's starting to click. I'll keep you posted.
Rachel knows her letters and colors, but is still more interested in playing instead of school. Though when I pull out the reading book for Dale, she wants to know what's going on.

Of course, little Louie will start his listening comprehension soon. I think Daddy wants to start him with The Hobbit.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Humor me.

On the blue font more than anything. Is my enthusiasm showing?

I'm mulling things we need for little Louis (yes, we already have a name--it's after my dad). We tossed our car seat after Rachel outgrew it since the five-year warranty had expired, so we need a new one of those. And when I got our Boppy--which is a story unto itself--they didn't have slipcovers for them.
[The story is this. I got home from the hospital with Madeleine on a Saturday and realized there were still some things I needed. I sent him, alone but list in hand, to Babies R Us. A very kind grandmotherly lady noticed his confusion and almost literally took him by the hand. That's when we got the Boppy, lanolin, original wipes warmer...]

I've heard that your "baby shower" for your third is when friends show up and carry things away and there's a certain amount of wisdom in that. We're almost three years past that and it hasn't happened (yet). But our monitor is almost six years old. One of the handsets hasn't worked in quite a while, and this is a nice reason to get a new one. I intend to keep one in the kids' room until they suspect something.
We will be donating/selling our humongous swing, since SuperShelly found a much smaller one at a garage sale.

I'm looking for Extremely Practical Advice on what to get. I know, diapers. We're up to our eyeballs in bibs, though I wonder with children if one can ever really have too many of those. I've never needed formula so that's out, but a new bottle scrubber would be good. Those little brushes work so well with sippy valves!
Forget pacifiers, too. Madeleine would take one for about five minutes, Dale not at all, and we didn't bother to try with Rachel. Though Lucy the dog liked them...

Anyway. Comments open and appreciated.

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Motherhood tricks I've learned

Maybe "tricks" isn't the right word. More "practices to make it easier."

1. Decorate the front of little girl's underwear when they start dressing themselves. Fabric paint only costs a dollar, you can make whatever designs you want (flowers, hearts, ABC's, numbers, her name, etc.), and it will make your life easier. Or at least hers more comfortable.

2. Quartering oranges means everyone gets to eat them. My kids have loved fruit forever; I remember Madeleine crawling over, pulling herself up on my knee, and looking at me expectantly whenever I sat down to peel an orange. Citrus and bananas were the only fruit I peeled (and I know people who peel everything--apples, peaches, even pears and sandwiches) but it was time-consuming. If more than one orange had to be peeled, I was going without lunch. Then Shelly told me off-hand, "I don't even do that. I just cut them in quarters."
Much better.

3. Zipper lingerie bags for socks are lifesavers. Who wants to think about tiny missing socks in the washer? Or remove safety pins from pairs, which doesn't stop you from losing them either?

4. Start them young on sunscreen. They fight it much less if it's something that's always been done. Mine are completely blissfully ignorant of sunburn and I like it that way. If they make it to double-digits intact that way, I'll have done something right.

5. Freezer pops are wonderful things. They work to soothe a bonked mouth, a lost tooth, another imagined injury... And they're really nice distractions on hot days half an hour before supper. They won't fill them up.

Oh, and we had the ultrasound today. All is well, though the doc said the little one is measuring about a week ahead. But my bloodwork and pictures came through just fine.
Dale III is over the moon with all of the results.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

Prayer request

Jennifer F. is in the homeschool group I'm in. She'd due with #6 any time. Technically, she's 35 weeks but is measuring at 42. Her blood pressure, I'm told, is at "stroke level" and she's going in for a non-stress test today.
Her oldest is six. Her doc wants to wait until August 13 to induce, but that is really bad for Jen. Her husband's other coworker is going on vacation on the 15 so he can't be around and her mother must return home that same day. If they wait, she'll be coming home to six children age 6 and under and NO HELP.
Prayers that she goes into labor or her doc changes his mind and induces, so that she can come home and have some help, are what we're looking for. Of course, a healthy delivery as well.

UPDATE: Jen, last I heard, was sent home with lower blood pressure on Friday. But still pregnant. She still has a few weeks--and every little bit helps.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

Reunions, reunions everywhere...

And only one is mine.

This month, we're heading back to the Northlands for Dale's family reunion. His parents are hosting it and his family is pretty un-stuffy and un-competitive. It's convenient (we can stay right down the road again), it's with good people, it's another opportunity to relax up there.
When I say "uncompetitive," that's a good thing.
Example: My grandmother and her sister both had grandchildren born the same day--I was one, the other was a boy. When I was not yet two, so my mom tells me, they all happened to be together. Grandma took me on her lap and put me through my paces: Heather, what's your address? Your phone number? Can you tell me your ABC's? What's your whole name?
I innocently answered all her questions. Aunt Margaret's grandson, sitting in his grandma's lap next to me, knew none of those. That's what I come from.

I'll get to deal with my own family Labor Day weekend, but mostly the competitive ones have died off. The stress, I suppose. At least the drive is short so we can escape easily; not really necessary with the in-laws.

Then next month we have Dale's high school class reunion in his home town. We'll be headed up again for that, though the kids will stay with Neema and Papa. I have no idea what to wear or if anything I currently own will both fit and be weather-appropriate.
I'll say, though, that I'll probably see more people I want to talk to than I will at my own two years from now. That's a good thing, right?


Wednesday, August 01, 2007


I have gotten an incredible amount of stuff done today, and I think it's related to the fact that the computer was off. A load of kids' stuff on the line, a shower, lunch made and eaten, the kitchen counter cleaned off (including behind the sink), school done for Madeleine, reading done for Dale, a complete emptying of the sink of dirty dishes, a vacuuming of the living room, two and a half pages of my Bible study (finished the chapter! Woo hoo!), Rachel's clothes put away (we cleaned out her dresser last week)... and the kids only watched Lady and the Tramp (76 minutes).

But here are some links to keep you amused while I try to clean on top of and under our microwave and under the kitchen table (where The Boy frequently wipes his hands).

Children and younger siblings at Catholic Dads

My husband's take on our real estate market

An old bragging point on our kids that I've meant to link for a while--scroll down to the Science Center one.

Now the oven repair guy is here, The Boy is watching him, Madeleine wants to watch Charlotte's Web and Rachel wants me to read Fox in Socks.
Duty calls...

While the spaghetti and sausage boil, here's another. Dawn Eden reports on Planned Barrenhood's take on Harry Potter. Is there enough there for copyright infringement?