Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Week in Kids

This week...
(Or sometime in the not too distant past.)

Upon seeing this picture, Sam said, "He has to take off his beard and put on a mouth for dinner."  Perceptive kid.

Also this week...

...was Christmas.

Really, it is mostly a blur.

Also this week...

Cate wore pajamas under her party dress.

Who among us has not wanted to do that?

Also this week...

No Bible sits on the shelf collecting dust in this house.

Also this week...

We made our homeschooling decision final, when these arrived.

Seventy-six pound of kindergarten curriculum in eight boxes.  (The small white one was already ours.)  How can we back out now?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone!!!

See you next week, and year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

A Few Notes On Christmas and Et Cetera

Jonah and Cate, on Cate's First Christmas (2008)

We had a merry Christmas.  I don't know if there will be any photos posted.  Kids a blur.  Legos and Imaginex pirates everywhere.  Inflatable "cars" for playing Mario Kart.  Toy cowboys.  Cool wooden cars.  A girl sized kitchen which even the boys love.  Family.  Oh, so much family.  Food, oh the food, ugh!

A big thank you to the young man at the auto parts store on Christmas eve who politely pointed of the Honda I was buying wiper blades for (and driving at the time) was an Accord, not a Civic.  Ho. ho. ho.

To the sender of the family-photo Christmas card showing their thirteen-year-old, lolling on the beach in a bikini, with her two little brothers, and sand stuck to her pubescent behind, I say, No. no. no.

To the middle aged man, in the Toys-R-Us parking lot, driving a red Hyundai with a Hello Kitty license plate holder, I say, Thank you for slowing down, if even slightly.

To the Muslim woman buying snow man wrapping paper, I say, This Happy Holidays thing has gotten WAY out of hand.

For those of you who have ever wonder if God is a man (as opposed to a woman), I offer this as conclusive proof, "Mom, God is a boy name."  Thus sayeth Jonah.

Seventy six pounds of kindergarten curriculum is awfully heavy for "online school."  The student doesn't even weigh that much.  Just sayin'.

Now, if you will excuse starts Monday.

And, yes, the "and Et Cetera" in the title is an intentional grammatical error.  You don't have to believe me.  I'm smarter than a kingergartener irregardless.

Monday, December 20, 2010

There's No Such Thing as Santa?

I still remember the moment.  I was six.  In the first grade.  The whole class was sitting on the floor, Indian style.  It is not called that anymore.  Indian style is politically incorrect.  Which is ironic, since it was chosen to replace the previous politically-incorrect name, "akimbo."  Now it is called "cris-cross-apple-sauce," which sounds completely ridiculous coming out of the mouth of a grown woman, unless she is a kindergarten teacher, in a festive and seasonally appropriate vest.

My first grade teacher never wore a vest, festive or otherwise, that I can remember.  And, I think I would remember if she had been wearing a vest that day, as it was Christmastime, and almost every other detail is burned into my memory.  As I mentioned, we were all sitting on the floor, listening to Ms. Moring (Yes, Ms.  It was the seventies.) read "The Night Before Christmas," (which is also, now, politically incorrect, but I am going to have to let that go, or I shall never finish my story), when a girl--a mean, busy-body, know-it-all, sort of girl--named Michelle announced, "Santa is just your mom and dad."

Just like that.

Quickly, and in slow motion, a shock-wave of enlightenment rippled through the room, as every child turned toward her, their mouths agape.  But, my mouth was the quickest.  I sat tall, and announced with certainty, "That's not true."

Ms. Moring cleared her throat nervously and quicker than you can say, "On Dasher, on Dancer," Michelle was scuttled away to the office on an errand.  Santa-sedition would not be tolerated.  Disaster averted.

Sort of.

There is an old saying, that you can't un-ring a bell.  And, it's true.  I finally had to ask my mother the truth about Santa.  But, not until after Christmas.  I may have been a fanciful and unrealistic child, but I wasn't stupid.  Who wants to find out the truth about Santa right before Christmas?

Did you notice, in the last paragraph, where I called myself "fanciful and unrealistic."  Well, that explains what happened next.

Even though I knew the (alleged) truth about Santa, I refused to accept it.  On Christmas morning of the following year, I got up at half past four, like I always did, giddy with excitement.  My parents had a deal.  We could get up, and open our stockings, but not our presents.  And we were not to wake them.  Well, we (my sister and I) were pretty good about that first part.  There was enough in our stockings to keep us busy, and Santa never wrapped his presents.  But that part about not waking them?  Well, let's just say, if you don't want to get up at 5 o'clock on Christmas morning, you should not have kids.

That Christmas morning in 1976, eleven and a half months after my mother looked me in the face and told me that there was no such thing as Santa,  I burst into her bedroom to show her my brand new dictionary and a watch with a yellow band; both gifts from Santa.  I told her all about the record player he brought me.  It was under the tree in the living room.  Did she want to come see it?

I'm sure she thought I was nuts.  And, she may have seriously considered bopping me on the top of my head, hoping to engage the "snooze" function.  I know that's what the grown-up-I would want to do.  But she couldn't.  My little sister was there, you see, and she was still pure.  Mom could not risk spoiling Christmas for her.

This (alleged) denial of mine went on for years, until finally, when I was, oh, maybe twenty-five (though still single and childless and hanging my stocking over her fireplace), my Mother announced that this was the year Santa stopped coming.  I assured her, she was wrong.  He was coming.  She assured me he was not.  I told her I had faith.  She told me I was crazy.

Christmas morning we all awoke to stockings, filled with goodies, suited to each of us.  Santa had come, once again.  I knew he would not let me down.

And, he never has.  Every year I hang my stocking, and every year there has been something in it.  Do you know why?  Because I believe.

I wonder what that little anarchist, Michelle is getting in her stocking this Christmas.

[The art is by Haddon Sundblom, an advertisement for Coca-cola from 1951.  His illustrations for Coke, starting in 1931, have done much to influence the icon of the American Santa.  If you find this even remotely interesting (as I do, obviously) check out the history of the Coca-cola Santa HERE.  
I picked this particular illustration, because he has a face like my father's.]

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Let Your Freak Flag Fly, Little Man!

Jonah, aged 14 months, ready to hit the beach in Hawaii.

We're all freaks on the inside, aren't we?  Or, we were.  Or, we felt like we were.  Growing up, finding yourself, coming into your own, is hard. 

In my experience, freaks, those young people who don't feel comfortable in their own skin, either get angry and become bullies, or get knocked down once too often and give up on being themselves.  So much human potential is suffocated under the social pressure exerted by peers similarly situated.

It is for this reason that we have decided to homeschool Jonah for the rest of the school year.

Our decision was not because of religion, or academics, or to have a more flexible schedule; though all of those factored in.  We want to homeschool, so that we can take the sensitive little boy God gave us, and raise him up into the most confident man he can be.  He needs a loving environment in which to discover who he is.  We don't care if he is a barefoot artist, an uptight tax attorney, or a stand-up comedian.  We just want him to walk secure in the knowledge that he is exactly as God made him. 

Then, he will be ready to go out into the world, unfurl his flag, and let it fly, however freaky or boring it may be.

That is our goal.  If homeschooling does not move us toward that goal, we will stop.  If it is detrimental to the rest of the family, we will stop.  If I lose my marbles, we will stop.  And, if I completely screw it up, it is only half a year of kindergarten, right?  Either way, wish us luck.  This going to be an amazing feat of patience and organization.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Week in Kids and Christmas

This week...

We had company.  My friend brought her four boys by, while she went to take a micro-biology exam.  No problem.  Six boys between the ages of three and nine, and one two-year-old little girl was still my biggest challenge.

I put Cate down for a nap at one, but she refused to sleep.  When the boys arrived around two, she was still awake.  I decided not to fight it.  The boys went straight outside to play, and I went in to get Cate up.  When I got there, she was stark naked.  No clothes, no diaper, no nothing.  That  "no diaper" thing can be a problem, so I rushed into her room to survey any, er, damage and, luckily, found none.  Meanwhile, Cate bolted.  I found her pressed against the sliding glass door in all her glory.

"Cate," I called to her.  "What are you doing?"

She looked back over her should at me, gestured at the back yard through the door, and said, breathless, "Boys!!"

Then she squealed and did a little dance.

Here she is with (not my) Samuel, one of the boys who came for a visit.  He's three.  I warned his parents.

"I think wearing clothes is over rated.  My mother insisted I wear this dumb hoodie, but I showed her.  I'm only wearing half of it.  What do you think?"
"Mother, do you mind?  That flash is killing the mood."
Also this week...

The boys playing that day.  I think this is what they call Leaf Tag.

My Samuel, who, when finding out that there was another one present, started referring to himself as "The Real Sam."

Also this week...

Our church hosted a Ladies Christmas Tea.  I was so excited that I even did my hair.  This is quite a procedure, which requires that Hubband supervise the children.  So, while I was drying, then straightening, and then re-curling my hair.  Hubband "watched" the kids, by reading the news on his iPod, back in the bedroom with me.

Meanwhile, Samuel had climbed over the gate into the kitchen (We know he can do this.  The gates aren't up for him.), liberated a pumpkin pie from the refrigerator, and passed it over the gate to his sister.  When I found them, they had removed it from it's tin, and it was sitting directly on the living room floor.  All but the large chucks they had torn from it, and were then eating, with both hands.

"Okay, I can breach the kitchen gates, here.  Once I am in possession of the target, I will pass it to you, over the gate, here.  We will rendezvous, here.  Wait for me.  Then we will make the split, 60/40 like we agreed.  Do you want me to go over it again?"
If this had been on my watch, so to speak, I would have taken pictures.  But, being the shrew that I am, I was too eager to point the finger of blame at my dear husband.  Guilty as accused, he broke the whole thing up before I could get a single shot.  Poorly played by all parties.  Except maybe the children, who got a few good bites of pumpkin pie.

Also this week...

Jonah found some old pictures of himself.  When Cate saw them, she insisted on keeping one.  She's been sleeping with it.  Everybody now...Awww.  (There are not pictures of this either, because only a woman who did not want to sleep for one whole night would take a flash photo of a sleeping baby.)

Also this week...

Sam (singing): On top of Spaghetti, all covered with cheese.  I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed.

Me:  Ahhhhh Choooo!  (I play to the role of the sneeze.)

Jonah:  Don't sing that song.  It makes me sad that someone would lose their meatball like that.  And we never even know what happened to it.

And in other Jonah/music news...he has been learning new songs at Sunday school.  Like this one, which he sings loud and proud.

I'm in the Lord's Army
(to the tune of The Old Grey Mare)

[The REAL words]
I may never march in the infantry
Ride in the cavalry
Shoot the artillery
I may never fly o'er the enemy
But I'm in the Lord's army!
Yes Sir!

[As sung by Jonah]
I may never march in the even tree
Ride in the calorie
Shoot the ability
I may never fly our anemone
But I'm in the Lord's army!

Also this week...

Sam made a wreath.

Our Advent Chain got shorter.

The Nativity Scene went up.

And my heart swelled a little, as it has every year since I became a mother, at the sight of the baby Jesus, held tight in Mary's arms.

See you next week...

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Christmas Card Photo Shoot

It is so hard to get a photograph of three small children, sitting still, smiling, all looking the same direction.  But, this year we did it.  Well, my mother did it.  I made sure they were dressed in clothes that would match my blog. 

Unfortunately, there are some things we are not going to get done this year.  We are not going to have the time to pick out a Christmas card format.  We are not going to have time to up-load this photo to a maker of such cards.  We are not going to have the time to go to pick up such cards.  Or address envelopes to mail such card.  Or the money to buy and apply postage to such cards.

We are sorry.  Consider this your None-Such Christmas Card.

And since we had to pick the best photo out of dozens of bad ones, and two or three that were mediocre...

I offer you this photo of Jonah, where he does not look like he is braying like a donkey.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Stockings Were Hung...

Many of you asked about our stockings.  Here they are, by the chimney with care.

Joy, joy, joy, joy, joy.

Would you believe I knit them myself?  No.  No one would believe that.  The truth is, I got them at Target.  They were probably knit by a Chinese machine, run by an Indonesian toddler who got paid 25 cents this year for the trouble.  You know, I think Hubband might be right.  I can suck the joy out of anything.  Even these lovely Christmas stockings.

Nope.  He's wrong.  Indonesians toddlers aside, they still make me happy.  Joy, joy, joy.  Times five.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Week in...

This is usually where The Week in Kids post goes.  But, there has been other stuff this week too.  And the kids have kept me so busy, I forgot to pay attention and take notes for you all.  So, we are going to lump all of this week's news in together.  Consider it a bloggy austerity measure.

I will start with the kids though.

This week in kids...

Jonah and Cate made up a new game.  It is called "ride."  Cate says, "Ride, ride."  Jonah sits on the couch.  Cate climbs on his back.  Jonah stands up.  And away they go.

If you think this can only end badly, you would be wrong more often than not.  As a mother, I was apprehensive at first, but they seemed to be having such a good time together (together is big), that I decided to stand back, and watch closely.  The picture is actually one of their very first attempts.  Jonah is much better at it now, with practice.  He reaches around and holds her up well, and she hangs on without strangling him.  The biggest problem is when Sam wants to play his new game called "push."

Also this week in kids...

Cate met her inner mommy.  If you don't recognize this set up, it is a changing pad, a diaper, and wipes.  Oh, and a "baby."

First, the wipes.

Then, the diaper.

Then, the little mommy shows off her dry and happy baby.

"Who you callin' happy?"

Also, this week in Christmas...

The kids really, really wanted to decorate for Christmas.  I could have gotten out all of the decorations and put them up.  But, then they would have been bored.  Instead.  We have done one thing every day.

First, we made a paper chain, for counting off the days until Christmas.  A fancier name is an Advent Calendar, but we aren't fancy.  You can sort of see it along the top of the stockings in one of the following pictures.

Next, I put up the tree with lights.  The next day, came the ornaments.  And, threats of severe harm, up to, and including death, to any child who dare touch said ornaments.

Then the stockings.  Aren't they lovely?  That is a happy mantel.

One day, I cut out stars and had the boys each decorate one with glitter.  I then glued them together so that they would fit nicely on top of the tree.  This is Jonah's side.

At some point, the talking Homer-Santa was put out.  I'm sorry the picture is so bad, but honestly, the best part about the talking Homer-Santa, is the talking.

He moves up and down, grunts a little, as he is stuck in the chimney,  and says things like, "Oh, great!  The one night I don't have a pocket full of bacon grease."

We also made ginger bread cookies, of which no evidence remains.  Funny that.

Next week, I will put out my beautiful nativity scene.  My mother in law gave me the first pieces, and my mother gave me a few more pieces later.  I love it.  But I need to prepare a place for it, as it break, threats of harm and death aside.

Also, this week in Betsy...

Betsy, my bloggy friend, from My Five Men, was kind (of awesome) enough to send me some of her famous(ly delicious) cookies.  They were chocolate with chocolate and did I mention the chocolate.  A half dozen of the most scrumptious cookies, arrived in a tidy box, with packing poopies and everything.  The cookies themselves were separated by hand cut doilies and wrapped in cellophane, with a hand tied bow.  The whole thing sounds lovely, doesn't it?  All I have left is the note.  (Don't judge me.)

Well, that is all for now.  I will try to take better notes next week.  Darn my kids, they are growing up so fast, they haven't done anything clever all week.  They just don't care that I have a blog to write.

See you next week!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Life in Rear View

Yesterday, the kids and I had to wait in our car for awhile.  I was listening to the radio and they were doing...I did not know what they were doing, because I was not paying attention.

It was a few minutes before I realized that the noise from the back seat (which is constant) was not the usual pushing, whining and bickering.  They were laughing.

I adjusted my mirror so I could watch.  They were making silly faces at each other.  One would "create" the face, the others would copy it.  When they caught me looking, I had to play too.  This was so much better than whatever was on the radio.  Why don't I pay more attention?

It was getting warm in the car, and the windows fogged up so that we were in our own insulated world.  Happy for no reason, except that we were together and acting silly. 

At some point, all that happiness made me weepy.  I sat in the front seat of my car, looking at my children in the rear view mirror, and I willed life to go in slow motion.  Because, I knew.  I knew that soon, the moment would be gone.  Soon, we would have to get out of the car.  Soon, they would grow up.  Soon, sibling time may be limited to Christmas and funerals. Soon, my children won't be.

And sure enough, soon, they were back to their normal contentious backseat behavior.  But, I hold on to that moment.  I savor it.  For me, of course, but also for them.  Because they don't know what they're missing.

[The photo above was taken last summer]

Monday, December 6, 2010

Oregon: No Town to Call Its Own?

 Two weeks ago, my family and I embarked on a road trip, north from California, to Washington.  But first, we had to cross Oregon.  During the six, or so, hours we spent driving through beautiful Oregon, I got a chance to read a lot of road signs.  It was then that I began to wonder if Oregon had a single town to call it's own.  Portland?  There is a better-known one in Maine.  Salem?  Most people think of Massachusetts.  But it does not stop with just the big Oregon cities. The state has several towns and cities with better known counterparts. I submit the following::

Fairbanks (Alaska)
Pheonix (Arizona)
Charleston (South Carolina)
Durham (North Carolina)
Vale and Aurora (Colorado)
Jacksonville (Florida)
Lafayette (Georgia)
Peoria and Elgin (Illinois)
Wichita and Kansas City (Kansas)--Kansas City? Seriously, Oregon, you aren't even trying, here.
Lexington (Kentucky)
Bunker Hill (Massachusetts)
Detroit and Saginaw (Michigan)
Independence (Missouri)
Albany (New York)
Toledo and Dayton(Ohio)
Pittsburg (Pennsylvania)
Newport (Rhode Island)
Nashville (Tennessee)
Dallas, Austin and Brownsville (Texas)
Arlington and Mount Vernon (Virginia)
Milwaukee (Wisconsin)
Wheeler (West Virginia)
Ontario (Canada)
Rome and Florence (Italy)
London (England)
Berlin (Germany)
Kingston (Jamaica) 
Damascus (Syria)
Holland, Norway, and Denmark
Sparta and Troy

There is also a Springfield, Oregon, but as there are equally well-known Springfields in Massachusetts, Illinois, Missouri, and that place where the Simpsons live, I'll give Oregon the benefit of the doubt.  They might have been the original.

I was wrong though.  It turns out that Oregon has many original towns within its borders.  Like:

Bend and Zigzag.
Aloha and Paradise.
Brothers and Sisters.
Lime and Peel.
Boring and Remote.
Nonpareil and Sublimity.
Amity and Friend.
Bridal Veil and Diamond.
Talent and Tangent, Trail and Drain.
Promise and Prospect.
Wagontire, Echo, Fossil.
Sixes, but no Fives of Sevens.
The Dalles (When one Dalle is not enough.  And, what is a Dalle?).
The unfortunately named Wankers Corner, and no I did not get this from the internet.  I have an actual atlas.

And, my favorite,  This has to be a publicity stunt, doesn't it?  Give us money, we will let you name our town.  And since is a division of Amazon, I think I am right.

So, you see, Oregon does have some towns to call its own.  And others are for sale.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Chaos, Complete and Utter

As most of you know, we spent the week of Thanksgiving in Washington with Hubband's parents.  I have so many stories to tell about the journey: three kids, two adults, one Prius, a thousand miles, sixteen hours in the car over two days.  Visit for six days and repeat.  This sound like it would make an interesting story, doesn't it?  Not to mention my detailed reviews of every McDonald's with an indoor Playland between Sacramento and the Canadian border.  Ah, good times.

Unfortunately, I do not have time to tell these tales now.  We got home Tuesday night, opened the back on the Prius, and my life exploded all over my living room.  While we were away, we were invaded by ants.  The the floor around the toilet in the master bathroom (laminate over concrete) developed a squishing noise.  I hope this is not related to the tinkling noise the toilet has been making for over a year.  Jimmy the plumber can not see me for a month.  So he suggested I call Pedro the plumber.  Note to self: Call Pedro the plumber.

 By Wednesday morning, I had not even begun to dig my way out, but we had no food in the house, of course, so I had to run to the market (with all three kids).  Then there was a previously scheduled trip to the pediatrician (with all three kids).  And, shots.  For all three kids.  They acted like wild animals just let out of their cages.  Cate is suffering from Grandma withdrawal, which means she wants to be held all the time.  And, Jonah is off school, and bored.  Our little yard does not hold as much adventure as Grandpa's farm.

We should be back to normal by the weekend.  But, that is not going to happen either.  Hubband and I are leaving Friday afternoon for our church's couples retreat.  A friend of mine (Love you, Marissa) is going to stay here and watch the kids for us. 

You never know how dirty your house is until you imagine a friend living in it for three days.  So, on top of the laundry (twelve loads, by my estimation), and the unpacking, and the packing, I have to get out the sand blaster to get the crud off the underside of the dining room table and the backs of the chairs, detail the botanical experiment that is the shower, change the sheets (Make that thirteen loads of laundry.), and mop the floors.  Do you suppose the kids will want to eat between Friday and Sunday afternoons?  Ugh.  Add meal planning to my list.

So you see, I really do have tales to tell.  But I don't have time to do them justice.  I don't know when, exactly, I will be back, but knowing me, it won't be too long.  Please promise to miss me while I am gone.
Chicken Coop in Snow

I am including this picture, taken at Grandma and Grandpa's farm, because I find it soothing.  And, breathe.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Week in Kids

This week...

We went to Grandma and Grandpa's for the week of Thanksgiving.

Samuel and Cate had their first experience with snow.

It wasn't all good.

"Ow!  It's in my eyes!"
"Look, Mommy.  I found my mittens."
"Now, what do I do with them?"

We weren't out there long, but we left tracks.

The snow has since melted, the rain has returned, and all of this beautiful land scape now looks like dirt soup.

Also this week...

Jonah found an old castle in the attic.  It used to be Daddy's.  It has not been under siege in awhile, but it proved worthy of conquests.

Also this week...

Samuel and both of his grandmothers (we brought one with us from California) built a gingerbread train.  It was a pre-packaged kit.  Sam is only four.  He doesn't have a whole lot of patience for making a Notre Dame of  gingerbread, like Jonah is planning.

Also this week...

Getting Cate to bed in a strange place was a bit of a challenge.  She shared a room in the attic with Daddy, Sam and me.  The first night, I had to hide out in the stairwell, watching to see if she tried to get out of bed.  Which she did, every time she stopped crying.  From there, I heard Sam whispering his form of comfort and encouragement.  "Go to sleep, Catie.  Go to sleep, Catie."  He is such a sweet big brother.

Also this week...

Jonah was a real live grown up boy.  He was helpful, and polite.  He played quietly alone.  He was nice to his little brother and sister.  He even joined the men, when they drove into Seattle to help my his aunt and uncle  move.  Oh, and he lost another tooth.  I feel like we will be visiting colleges soon.

Also this week...

We gave thanks.  We ate turkey.  And stuffing.  And potatoes.  And pie.  Sam had four pieces.  And, I gave thanks some more.  I am blessed, and so are you.  I hope you had the opportunity this week to be thankful.

See you next week!