Domestic Bliss Report

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

Thursday, July 31, 2008

They grow so fast.

No, this isn't going to be one of those syrupy baby posts.
You see, I was looking forward to that brief time where Lou could sit up, play with some toys, and stay where I put him. Instead, he figured out sitting up and crawling in the same week. Come to think of it, he was combat-crawling around on his belly before he could get up on all fours. There went that brief time of respite.
Now, at just over seven months old, he's pulling himself up to standing on anything still enough to support him that long--the love seat, the kitchen chairs, the dog's cage, my pants, the dog... Madeleine didn't crawl until she was nine months old, Dale later than that, Rachel didn't crawl much but scooted. Seems Lou isn't interested, either. Four legs good, two legs better...
Maybe he'll potty train early too.

Nursing him has gotten to be an adventure. I no longer have so much a nursing baby as a wrestling opponent who thinks he's got Capri Sun juice pouches instead of Mama. One can only explain "Squeezing like that won't help" so many times before one realizes... he's seven months old. He doesn't understand.
And someday he'll get teeth, I'm sure. He's been gnawing on anything he can get to his mouth for months (current favorite, a clean damp washcloth), so they're there somewhere. I'll keep you posted on that.

The others still adore him and he them. His benevolent smiles are widespread and they all have their tricks to get them. There is just something sweetly ironic about a six-year-old remarking, "They grow up so fast!"

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Good news on the celebrity front.

It seems I made a good impression last Saturday. So did Heather. We got invited back.

We also got a list of topics we should be prepared to discuss, some of which I know more about than others. It's kind of reassuring that I'm not completely in the dark on any of them.
Last Saturday, they broke us into four or five person groups to see how we'd do. They gave us a topic and each group was different. One panel had, "The rift in Anglicanism on female bishops and homosexuality."
Crickets. If blinks were audible, there would have been a lot of Morse code going on.
I was thinking, "Well, Rowan Williams is going to have to make some decisions at this Lambeth conference..." Most of my information comes from this guy, so it has a fair share of inside baseball and a definite rightward slant, but it's more than nothing. I say that because I don't think anyone on the panel had a clue what the topic was about, not to impugn the work of Chris Johnson (the author of the Midwest Conservative Journal). Sometimes, his blog is as happy as Robert Spencer's pair.
Then again, this was a group of Catholic women. The loopiness that can be the Anglican Communion is pretty alien to us.

Anyway. Come this Saturday afternoon, I've got plans. Kind thoughts and prayers welcome.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Whew! That week was a doozy.

Do you want to hear about it? Nothing traumatic happened, it just was really busy.

It started somewhere around July 17, actually. The dog was having digestive troubles. I thought it was the treats but it didn't resolve itself. Friday night, the 18, she didn't finish all of her food--very unlike her.
Saturday, July 19--Daddy and Dale take the dog to the vet's while I take Madeleine, Rachel, and Louie out to the dance studio. Madeleine's routine had been selected to perform in a local festival and the rehearsal was the day before.
That afternoon, we went to Mass because we had plans for Sunday.

Sunday, July 20--We all went to see Kitt Kittredge for the matinee, where we all got in for $4. Had lunch and home and then took off to the aforementioned festival for Madeleine's dance.

Monday, July 21--I got to load up the troops and take Lucy the Wonderdumb for a recheck at the vet's. Whatever oddity she had eaten had been blown out by the high-fiber dog food, as we saw in the second set of X-rays.
I was going to take them all grocery shopping (yes, I've done it before) but before I had completely summoned the energy, my mother landed on the doorstep by surprise. She watched the troops while I made a strafing run to the grocery store alone.
At bedtime, Madeleine complained of an earache. Ibuprofen and a mental note to call the doc's in the morning.

Tuesday, July 22--Playdate for (mostly) Madeleine. First time at the other house, so we all stuck around. The other mom and I are friends, too, so hanging out chatting with her wasn't a bad thing at all.
That afternoon, it's to the doc for an amoxycillin prescription.

Wednesday, July 23--Our first orthodontist appointment! Seems Madeleine has some crowding that our regular dentist recommended a specialist check out. We're taking a wait-and-see approach until more of her adult teeth come in. He doesn't charge anything until treatment actually starts, which is nice to the checkbook.
Then, crazy woman that I am, we went to Park Day.

Thursday July 24--Finally, nothing during the day. The chair of our parish moms' group called that evening, though, to see if I was going to make the meeting. Since Daddy heard the message, he did what all loving husbands do when their wife has been running like a rat in a trap all week: he threw me out, tossed the car keys through a window, and told me, "Don't come back before ten."
Okay, it wasn't quite that obvious, but it's close.

Friday, July 25--We attended Daddy's work picnic at a metro park. There was a lake and waterpark so bathing suits were involved. At least there was plenty of food there so I got out of fixing dinner.
Oh, and we cleaned out our "corral." It's part of our yard completely surrounded by privacy fence. Without a garage, that's where our bikes, snowblower, and other stuff are kept. We're going to ask the guys who are repairing the sidewalks around here to pour in there as well.

Saturday, July 26--This was exciting. A local Catholic media station was having open auditions for a new show, called The Other View. Yes, it's what it sounds like--an answer to Barbara et al. I was one of 22 trying out for five spots; we'll find out on Tuesday about callbacks. Heather was trying out too, so keep us in your prayers.
Former neighbor Joe came over while I was gone and he and Dale put in the forms to finish the job for the concrete. All of the kids were home--I'd managed to put enough milk in the freezer that Daddy even kept Lou while I was at the audition.

Today, July 27, Daddy let me sleep in. We met a friend of his over in Ontario (with the kids) for a debate and lunch, then went to Mass after dinner.

Are you exhausted? I'm tired just typing it. I have nothing planned this week. Zip, zilch, nada. Finally.

Well, tomorrow I'll go grocery shopping with four children under seven. But now, it's old hat.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Feed your family, feed your soul

This is inspired by Clam's recent post.

I too never learned to cook. I told you some time back about how my mother was convinced the oven was broken and never used it again; she didn't use the stovetop much, either. I could boil water, which meant mac and cheese and spaghetti. We still had "home ec" in middle school so I did learn how to make scrambled eggs. But actually baking anything? No.

I did have some brushes with food preparation while younger, even if I don't count the summer I worked at Burger King. The semester after I came back from France I lived in an on-campus house where once a week we had to prepare dinner for the residents of the house, so I could hum a few bars and fake it. [In my interview to live in the house, I was asked if I could cook. I answered, "Je peux lire," or I can read. I was assured that was meaningless, but I beg to differ. It was a man asking--perhaps he had the stereotypical masculine difficulty with directions.]

Another friend asked recently if I have gourmet meals nightly. The answer to that is laughable--no. I aim for a meat, a starch, and a vegetable on plates, and if I can prepare them in one pan so much the better.
Bread and butter counts as a starch. A salad is a vegetable, and if it's one of those Dole bagged deals, the bag serves as the salad bowl too. Hey, I don't have to wash it.

The worst accident I ever had cooking was before we were married. I was trying to make a beef stew and the recipe instructed me to coat the beef in flour before browning it. Ever obedient, I took the jar of white powdery stuff and put a tablespoon of it in the bag with the meat, then proceeded with the rest of the recipe.
It was horrible. Nasty. Inedible. I should have guessed I screwed up somewhere when the meat was foaming in the pan before I added any other ingredients. My beloved, though, would have choked down a whole bowl (covered with an entire jar of Mrs. Dash) if I hadn't said I couldn't eat it. He went and retrieved McDonald's for us.
The next week, I tried a different stew recipe--my grandmother's. This time, he was home while I was cooking. When I decided the stew needed thickening and grabbed the same jar as before, he asked, "What are you doing?"
"Adding flour to thicken the stew." I felt really smart for a moment.
"That's not flour. That's baking soda."

What it comes down to is this. I married a man who knew the extent of my cooking experience. He still praises it. In the almost nine years we've been married, my confidence has grown to the point I can, with a little forethought, throw things together in a pan and it comes out pretty good.

It didn't happen in the first year, but it has happened. Of all domestic tasks, cooking is my favorite. The creativity involved, the smell of something delicious, the taste of something I made, the satisfied feeling in my belly knowing I did that... I love it.

Speaking of dinner, I need to go throw the split pea soup into the crock pot. It's been a pretty hectic week with no sign of slowing down.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Maybe I'm Amish somewhere.

I do have German roots, though it's the Scottish and Irish you see.

I'm not always a big advocate of cutting-edge technology. I can cite examples, like we might be the only family I know with no iPods, laptops, or hand-held video game players and our game console is as old as our marriage.
Really. And one of our phones still has a cord to connect it to the receiver. We do have an answering machine, though.

It occurred to me how anachronistic that must be lately when we got a phone call from a former neighbor. Her beau and some friends were going to help us get some concrete poured in the back yard; they were going to put in the forms. I was going to call her back with when a good time would be, so I asked for her number.
"Don't you have caller-ID?"
Yes, we still just hang up on political solicitations, charity tin cups, and credit card service offers. We are on the federal no-call list so we don't get general telemarketers, though we have gotten a home siding company a few times. It's rare enough that I don't think it's the same one.

Back to caller-ID. What did people do before you knew who was calling without picking up? You answered the phone. Or didn't, then checked for a message. Before that, you just missed the call. Shocking, I know, but the world kept turning.
I wonder what people did before Call-Waiting, as well. If there's a ruder invention than that, I've yet to see it. "Yes, I'm having a conversation with you, but if someone else calls, I'm going to take that call and make YOU wait. Or I'll end this call because someone else has interrupted it." So we don't have that feature, either.
Now, a caveat: I understand medical emergencies. Or rescheduling doctor's appointments. Or if you're standing up in a wedding two days hence and the bride calls about arrangements of some kind. Those are probably going to be more important than whatever we're discussing.
But as a general rule, I find it rude. I can only recall one person who makes it a habit not to interrupt his calls when another rings through, and I already had a tremendous amount of respect for my father-in-law.

So I got to thinking on these "life enhancing" phone features. What did people do before Caller-ID and Call-Waiting? They answered the phone, or callers got a busy signal. The world kept turning.
What did people do before telephones? When appointments were made in person or by mail? Sure, it was more difficult and time-consuming, but the world moved more slowly. I don't think that was such a bad thing.

Like I said, maybe there's some Amish in there.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Colored Queen Anne's Lace

Did you know you can dye these flowers?

You know weird things stick in my head. I used to read the parts of standardized tests for entertainment, then was surprised there were questions. "Oh, goody! I get to read now! And what's this? Questions about this stuff. How convenient that they're on the same page!"
Yeah, and I'm supposed to be one of the smart ones.

Anyway, some book I read as a kid had the old neighbor lady, or the aunt, and the little girl dyeing flowers. "And the queen anne's lace, we did that in so many colors..."

So finally we tried it. We picked some at a nearby vacant lot (which has since been mowed), brought it home, and put them in water. We have red and blue pretty clearly; the green is starting to come up. I think the orange and purple are too weak.

How do you do it? Just put food coloring in the water. It takes a day or two for the color to show up, so be warned. And don't be shy about drops in the water. Six or seven isn't too much.

Neat art project for little kids; botany lesson in how plants get water for older ones; interesting field trip or time-killer for all. There you go.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

"...when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?"

It's very, very sad to me that the guys from Animal House have a better grasp of American history than one of our presidential candidates.

For those who don't know what I'm talking about...

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Here's a movie review for you...

On Kitt Kittredge.
Madeleine has started reading the American Girl books I got ages ago and wants to see it. Dale overheard me asking about it, and he wants to go because the girl looks like his former crush (it's a long story I'll relate someday). Which leaves Rachel, who while headstrong is not a fool.

Looks like we have plans some evening this weekend.

I just hope they don't hear about the dolls.

Dear husband says,

"Anti-Semitism is a mental disease."

This is proof.

There may be contributing circumstances, but to cite "Meet the Parents" as evidence...

And no, this is not from The Onion.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How to melt crayons?

We have a ton--okay, maybe not quite that much, but it's close--of crayons here at Price Manor. I'm thinking about getting them new boxes to start the school year, just as a treat. So what to do with the old ones? I don't want to just throw them out and I'm sick of big vats of random crayons. But... I remember once upon a time having these rainbow blocks of crayon, with lots of little pieces melted together.
I was thinking it would be cool to make those with the kids but I'm not sure how. They could smash the crayons, sure. Then what? Put them on wax paper on a cookie sheet in the oven? How hot should it be? Should I just leave them in the car on a hot day?

Does anyone have any idea what I'm talking about? Am I nuts? And no, you don't get to say "Yes, but that's unrelated to the crayons."

UPDATE: Melanie, here it is. Thank you!

UPDATE 7/16/08: 10 minutes at 350 with grated crayon is too much. They turn into little puddles of monochrome goo. When cooled they work, but it's not the same as having multicolored flecks throughout.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

History of Detroit

Kids ask questions. Like, "Why are there more people here than up at Neema and Papa's?" Trying to explain demographics, settlement of Michigan, history... Um...

So then I check Timmy Turner's favorite reference, the Internet.

Who knew? Now you do.

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From the "Water is Wet" file

Gee. Who'd-a-thunk that if girls feel expected to do things they're not ready for, they'd feel stressed?

Another homeschool mom said at our recent park day, "My kids are innocent. And I want them to stay that way for as long as possible." They're 6 and 8 or so.
I agree. My dad didn't want us getting outside jobs until as late as possible. He felt we were going to spend our whole lives worrying about money; why start any earlier than we had to? They'll spend their whole adult lives dealing with this stuff. Why should they start when they're still children?

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Do you know deadly nightshade?

A friend found out the hard way. Not as hard as could have been, thanks to merciful God. Check out the pictures here.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

This just warms my heart.

"Look! He's looking at me!"

He's been there for all of the births. I could have had everyone I've ever met, but without him, it wouldn't have been enough. It could have been just the two of us, and I'd be okay with that.
Yeah, he'd want the medical technology, and I'm grateful for the epidural, but you get my point.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Mountains out of molehills

So I'm finally reading the Harry Potter books and I'm up to #5, Order of the Phoenix. I haven't seen any of the movies, which is par for the course. If I had a dime for each time I've said, "No, but I've read the book," our mortgage would be paid off.
Anyway. To all of those well-meaning, involved, caring parents who feared that the wizard boy from Privet Drive would lead their little dears into magic, spells, seances, the occult and Satan, I have one question.
Worry more about lead paint in your kids' toys. Or violence on television. Or the destruction of the rainforests. Or flouride in your water. Or mysterious government experiments in Area 51.

Seriously. If these are what it takes to turn children into devil worshippers, don't let them near Tolkien, Lewis, Greek mythology, Star Wars, or most fairy tales. They can't handle it.

Now, on to Wall*E. This part may contain spoilers, so...
We saw it and really enjoyed it. It's PIXAR so it's definitely pretty to look at. The story is environmental without "mental"--a good thing. There are plenty of reviews, analyzying the story's symbolism and references and meaning. I'll let you check those out on your own. I wondered how much of that the kids got, so I asked them.
"Madeleine, what's your favorite part of the movie?"
"Where he makes the thing that looks like EVE for her."
Okay, that's good. She likes the creative or gift idea.

"Rachel, what did you like about Wall*E?"
"Saying EVA!" Hmm. Maybe she'll turnout to be a Brando fan.You know, Stella! I don't think she got any of the subtle points of baptism, rebirth of hope, or consumerism, though.

"Dale, what was your favorite part of Wall*E?"
"When they're in the elevator, and the TV is saying about to kill them, and Eve shoots it and it blows up."
Well. Sometimes, it seems, an exploding TV is just that.

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Monday, July 07, 2008

I love a parade...

It was my family's habit to attend the Detroit Thanksgiving Day parade. Everyone lived in the area, so we were never traveling on that weekend. [Seriously. Growing up, I had one uncle in Arizona, one in Alden, MI, and the next furthest was Lincoln Park, MI, which is still the Detroit area. The rest of the dozen all lived within 10 miles of each other.]
So, each Thanksgiving we'd bundle up in scarves and mittens and long underwear, pick up whichever of my cousins wanted to attend, we'd cram into the car (this was before seat belt laws) and drive downtown.
It was always cold. Always. Sometimes it was snowy, sometimes freezing rain. It was always crowded. When we were little, I think we brought a ladder to sit on. When we kids were a little older, my dad knew someone who had a business right on the parade route, so we'd go to the upper floors of his building. We'd open the windows and wave, and once in a while someone in the parade would look up and wave back. It was still cold, though.
There were the giant balloons, award-winning high school bands, professional floats and tumblers accompanying them, and even Santa making his grand entrance at the end. It was a spectacle.

This year, though, I got a bee in my bonnet when I realized my kids have never attended a parade of any kind. I started looking around for a Memorial Day Parade. Our town didn't have one, but the city right next door did. Off we went.
It was perfect. I'd never attended a "small town" parade before. We showed up about 15 minutes before it started and still got a wonderful spot with curb seating. The local Lions Club and VFW members were throwing candy. Heck, it seemed everyone was throwing candy. There were local businesses, the local fire station had a truck, the county police were in it, our local congressional representative was walking the route, only one high school band, the middle school band... There were groups from each of the elementary schools, even, wearing matching T-shirts.
The kids loved it all. With that in mind, my in-laws told us that their town had an Independence Day parade. This one showed that it's campaign season, with lots of cars saying "Vote for So-and-so!" This one had a multitude of tractors as well, but the atmosphere was the same. Down to the person sitting near us who would point out the candy the kids had missed on the pavement.

These parades didn't have the giant balloons or the fancy floats. Only one band, maybe two, and they weren't quite perfectly in sync. But the kids loved them, and I've got the sense to know that's what really matters.

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