Monday, December 31, 2007

Peek-In-Monday...

Here's why teenagers hate their parents...

video

I'll be heading out of town for the holiday so, SEE YOU NEXT YEAR!!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Great Playroom Purge

Tis the season for an overloaded playroom. Christmas always dumps piles upon piles of useless crap toys upon our homes and clutters them to near bursting. As we have covered before, I hate clutter. I hear a lot from moms trying to figure out how to organize and tame the toy box, and I think in my self-righteous, judgmental little brain of mine, "Why don't you throw most of this crap away??!!" I regularly purge my playroom of unwanted, unused, or otherwise useless toys. I especially do it before birthdays and Christmas.

This year a couple of weeks before Christmas I did a major purge. And coincidentally, two moms I know asked how I go about doing it. So, I figured I'd blog about it and give you the method to my madness.

First and most importantly, do not form emotional attachments with your children's toys. You know what I'm talking about. You have to be honest and ruthless. Look at the playroom realistically. What are the toys your kids actually play with? Not the ones you spent a lot of money on. Not the ones you think are so cute and want your kids to love. Not the ones that are in style or all the rage. I mean, what are the toys your children play with on a regular basis? I'm not telling you to get rid of any toys that your children have emotional attachments to. No, those are the ones and the only ones to keep. (I adhere to this very strictly except in the case of the moose. When Chowder and I were on our honeymoon in British Columbia we bought a stuffed moose. This was going to be for the child that we just "knew" we had conceived. Over the next three years during the infertility treatments and the miscarriages, that moose comforted and tormented me. None of my children have ever loved it. No matter how hard I tried to force it upon them, it didn't stick. Now, I didn't get rid of the moose. I consider the moose to be mine and it lives in our nursery, permanently.)

Second, you have to do the purge while your children are sleeping or out of the house. If you want to do a serious purge, your children cannot be around. They will claim attachments where there are none. If it's your first purge and you don't if you have the swing of it yet, you can always put the toys in a box in the basement. If your child does not ask for any of the toys within a week or so, you'll know it's safe to get rid of them. You'll be amazed at how much they won't even notice is gone!

Third, give yourself some time. Be thorough. Have a box for trash and a box for donation. You can sell them if you want, but I think it's a big PIA so I just donate them. There are plenty of places that accept toys. Be sure to keep good records for your taxes. When I got rid of all our Little People play sets (my kids love carrying the animals around but never "played" with the sets. In a casual survey on one of the parenting boards I belong to, showed that the vast majority of kids do not every really play with them.) I was able to deduct almost $200 from my taxes.

Once you get everything out and are keeping what you need, rearrange and organize it all. Another great feature of regular toy purges, is you get to know what your kids actually play with and that begins to effect your toy buying choices for the future. Once I began to notice how much was just clutter, I really began to examine how I spent my money. I now refuse to buy something just for the sake of having something. We have begun to focus on quality over quantity. I know this will be too severe for many people, but each time you do it you will be able to cut out a little more.

Here are a couple of videos I made of my playroom pre-purge and post-purge. (Ladybug got a nice wooden doll cradle for Christmas and I got rid of the crappy plastic graco one. I also moved the Fisher Price Play and Learn house into the basement for now. Ladybug really doesn't play with it, but I'm keeping it for now to see if she'll play with it when she gets a little older.)


video


video

Saturday, December 29, 2007

What you should know about the new Sweeney Todd movie...

I've seen this movie twice and both times I noticed an awful lot of confusion among the members of the audience. They didn't seem to know what they were going to see. So, if you are planning on going to see it (And I encourage you to do so.) let me give you three things you need to know about this movie.

1.) It's a musical. Not a pseudo musical like Moulin Rouge, but a full on Broadway Musical by the great Stephen Sondheim. Many consider it to be his masterpiece. It is based on the Christoper Bond's stage play based on the original Victorian story. They sing in it. There is actually more singing than speaking in it. Tim Burton purposely cast actors and not singers, but they do a great job.

2.) It's dark and brooding and graphic. If your only experience with Sweeney is the 1979 original Broadway version, it's not like that. And I love the 1979 version with Angela Lansbury. I have many fond memories from high school watching this movie with my best friend Gretchen while eating cherry pie. But, this is Tim Burton's version through and through. And there is lots and lots of blood. I had to hide my face in my shirt during the kill scenes.

3.) It's a comedy. A musical COMEDY! Laugh, already! Yes, like I said in #2 this one is very dark, but the comedy is still there. It is still funny. Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett singing about the way the different types of people would taste, is FUNNY! So, laugh.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Post Christmas Wrap-up...

We had a great Christmas! and you? Our Christmases are pretty low key, believe it or not. Our kids get one present from Santa, one from us, and one from one of their siblings. We hang out around our house all morning and then head to my mom's around 3pm. This year was the year of the bike. Porkchop, Jellybean and The Meatball all got bikes from Santa. The weather was actually in the 50s so the kids got to ride their new bikes all morning. And yes, after much searching I was able to find Jellybean a bike that was not either covered on Bratz or Barbie, or a stripper pole on wheels. But, it cost me. At least Ladybug will get to ride it, too.

Ladybug got a baby doll and a new pram. I don't know if I'll have any woodwork left after the next couple of weeks.


Skaterboy got a new phone (that he can't use because his line is blocked until he gets a job and can pay for any overages that might occur. burned this summer.), Five blank skateboard decks, and grandpa gave him a new fishing rod.


And in classic pastor family fashion, Chowder got called away to the hospital right before dinner. Porkchop cried for him nonstop until he got back. Later that night he was called back and the member ended up dying. What is it about this time of year?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Peek-In-Monday...

Why I love Annie...
video

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Don't send a lame Holiday eCard. Try JibJab Sendables!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Are they fooling you?


'Cause I've got three large boxes of packing peanut "snow" all over the living room floor that says differently.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Mother's Sacrifice...

I have always loved the story of Mary and Elizabeth. It might be my favorite part of the whole bible. scandalous, I know. Two women, cousins, one excruciatingly young, unmarried, and pregnant. The other excruciatingly old (advanced in age. Hey wait a minute! I was Advanced Maternal Age my last pregnancy!), given up, and pregnant. Both excited, scared and irrepressibly in love with the sons now growing in their wombs.

I imagine their 3 months together. Soon to be first time moms, talking about clothes not fitting, swollen feet and feeling baby moving. Putting their hands on each others swelling bellies and sharing the wonder and amazement. I can see them preparing meals and chatting about their hopes and dreams for their sons. Almost forgetting their Divine conceptions and the prophecies they are both fulfilling. Maybe even wanting to forget. Because both knew in the darkness of their hearts that there would come a day when their sons would be demanded of them in sacrifice.

As I read this story now as a mother, it fills me with anger. If you have read any of my reflections on my faith, you can't help but notice that I have some anger issues with God. Especially since the lives of 6 of my babies were demanded of me for no good reason. I see myself as Elizabeth saying to God, "No way, Buddy! You can't make me wait for years and years and finally give me a child only to take him away just to serve some stupid prophecy! HE STAYS WITH ME!" Like I said, I have some anger issues.

Another part of it comes from the prevailing plight of women and children around the world and the way they are used as pawns and weapons by men in their wars and rivalries. The men get their panties in a bunch about a border or a religion and soon the women and children are left in the middle to be raped, butchered and displaced. (Is that oversimplification? sure. but, it's the gist.) I want to tell the men, "You know what? Go ahead out into that field and kill each other, but leave the women and children out of it!" And in many ways, that's what I want Mary to tell God. We talk all the time about God sacrificing his son, but it isn't just God's sacrifice. It is a mother watching. powerless to stop it.

There is this children's song on one of my kids' Christmas CDs called The Seven Joys of Mary. When I hear it, it sparks a deep rage in me. The sixth verse goes like this.

The next great joy that Mary had, it was the joy of six
To see her own son, Jesus Christ, upon the crucifix.
Upon the crucifix, good Lord, and happy Mary be.
Oh Father, Son and Holy Ghost for all eternity.

How can they even sing this?! How can they portray this mother at the foot of the cross of her son who is dying a grisly & painful death and sing, "Happy Mary be?!" AND PUT IT ON A CHRISTMAS ALBUM! *pant pant*

I can't help but picture Mary and Elizabeth plotting to sneak their babies away to keep them safe. I guess we all know now why Gabriel never came knocking on my door.

But, since it's Christmas, I'll try to focus on the joyful part of this mothers' story. And put them back lounging in the courtyard complaining about in-laws and giggling about angels and baby names.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Cakes Family Annual Christmas Photo Shoot Slide Show

And people wonder why we don't pay for professional pictures. I can't imagine paying for this. We barely got a doable picture this year.

video

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Hard Lessons Learned...

I was getting Ladybug ready for bed and the kids were all in the bathtub supposedly washing their bodies and hair. Suddenly, I hear screaming and then see 3 naked and wet children running out of the bathroom...followed by a very wet and indignant kitten.

Lesson 1: Kittens do not make good bath buddies.

****************************

Lesson 2: Know when to leave.

This is one of the top five lessons parents need to learn, in my opinion. Life with children is so much easier once you have this mastered. For example, my in-laws always go shopping on Black Friday (for you non American consumer crazy readers, that's the day after U.S. Thanksgiving aka beginning of the Christmas shopping season ) and I usually tag along. Well, not along completely since they start at 4am. I meet them for lunch. This year we went briefly into the mall because I had to get this year's Hallmark singing snowman. As I'm walking through, this woman in yelling at her 4 or 5 year old son because he is running around and whining. Exasperated I hear her say, "Why did I have to get such a rotten kid!" to which I responded, "You didn't get a rotten kid. You got a kid. He's done. It's time to go." She shot me a well-deserved "mind-your-own-damn-business" look. But, it was true. She had missed knowing when to leave.

So, last week we were spending our 3rd day that week at the great Christmas train exhibit near my house. It's a great exhibit our garden puts on every year and since we are members we get in free. We go quite a few times during the holidays. The kids really enjoy themselves and it's just a nice low key activity to keep us in the Christmas spirit.





Chowder and I were split up trying to keep track of everybody while they ran from train to train. After they spent about an hour watching all the trains, I came around a corner looking for Porkchop and The Meatball. That's when I found them. I couldn't figure out what they were doing at first, they were repeatedly falling onto the ground, but my mouth was already open to tell them to get off the floor. Then I saw the sign. And heard The Meatball pointing to the sign and encouraging Porkchop who had just flopped onto the floor with his arms flailing. "Almost. You just need to stick your foot up more like this."

I knew it was time to go.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Happy Peek-In Monday!

Here's two for you...A little taste of the Christmas season

After a long day of sled riding and snowman building and rebuilding nothing says winter like snuggling up in you jammies for a bedtime movie


video


And is every kid's favorite Christmas song The Little Drummer Boy?

video

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Our pathetic excuse for a snow...

Every time we get this little hint of winter, Chowder starts looking for jobs back up north. Look out Canada! He's focusing his sights on Ottawa. or Buffalo. or Vermont. or...

Here's our dinky snowman.





And you know, I can take the occasional stolen car. The periodic smashed out window. Even the random mugging. But today when we got home 2 hours after building our snowman, some little buttholes had knocked it down. I can't begin to tell you how this filled me with the worst kind of rage. My kids were crushed. We are building another one...in the fenced in backyard.

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Man of the Hour

Today after school got out at 11:30am, we invited the class upstairs for pizza and cake and ice cream. The kids had a great time running around like crazy people. And though I had to field another interrogation about the size of my family from one of the parents, and 3 of the kids speak little to no English so directing them was a bit of an issue (luckily their teacher was there to help!), and twice as many kids came as RSVP'd, we really enjoyed ourselves.

Here is the picture I took of Porkchop with his class...



and this was the second take in case the first one wasn't a good one...



and the proud owner of one new rocketship...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

4 years ago tonight...

I was in the middle of a cookie baking marathon with my sister-in-law when I felt the first contraction come hard and fast. I went upstairs and laid down for awhile only to end up at the OB triage only to be sent home because they said I wasn't in "real" labor. I knew of course that I was, but I wasn't dilating so they sent me home. 2 hours later I was back with contractions 2 minutes a part, begging for my doula (this hospital supplies them...once you've been admitted) but I still wasn't dilating.

Chowder and I walked the hospital halls while I labored. Finally, my water broke outside the elevator on floor 6, where I yelled, "HA! Take that Nurse Ratched!" Seconds later, I was overwhelmed and out of control. By the time they checked me (2cm) and got me upstairs and out of my clothes, I was a complete lunatic. 15 minutes after the first check, they checked me again. I was completely dilated. "Oh," they said. "No wonder you were acting like that. huh."

It then took me 3 hours to push the little bastard out. (My fault. I just figured out how to push with the last one.) 15 minutes after that Chowder was out the door to get to Skaterboy's City/County soccer Championship (he won!) and I curled up with my brand new Porkchop and
took the first of many warm and wonderful naps. *sigh* heck! We had one this afternoon.

So, tonight we made gingerbread men along with 5 other kinds of cookies. If I had to describe the differences between Jellybean and Meatball I could never describe it as well as this picture. Want to guess whose is whose?



And then there's this little cherub. I'm afraid she has weaned. Just like that. It makes me sad because it kind of came with no warning. If I had known that was the last time...

video

not to keep harping on this but...

A few pictures for your comparison

2005


2006


and...2007


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder...or whatever

Can anyone guess why my husband and two sons can not contain there fits of giggles every time we walk under this glass sculpture?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Peek-In-Monday...

Sorry, I've been scarce. But, I will probably only get a chance to post a few times a week. A pastor's family is crazy busy this time of year. So far it's been good busy not a bad amount of busy.

Here is a clip from post bath time last week.

video

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Charlie Brown's got nothing on us...

We've had to put off our usual trip to cut down our Christmas tree three times, now. We usually go the 1st weekend of Advent but each time we thought we could go, something has come up. The children were ready to cut down the neighbor's tree and drag it into the living room, so we decided to skip the long trip and just get a tree from our parish boy scout's lot. Last year, we had to go there as well because we had a huge ice storm and all of the trees at the farm were covered in inches of ice. We bought a tree still bound up from under a tarp sight unseen. It was surprisingly close to our usual tree.

What our usual tree lacks in beauty and form it makes up for in sheer size and girth. We buy the big dumb ox of the Christmas tree world. If our trees had legs they would be galumphing around like giant dumb cyclopses. I give you examples from a few year's worth of our past Christmas cards...








ok, so you can't really see the tree so much, but trust me. They are curled over at the top and completely shapeless. But, we love them.

This year we all pile into the car and head to the pizza place and then out to the tree lot. First, we haven't been to the pizza place in awhile and I was shocked at how much it cost us, but I figured we were saving it on gas not driving out to the country to the tree farm. So bellies full and trips to the bathroom before we left, we headed to the tree lot. oh wait. That's right. Someone is going to have to pee before we drive those 2 miles. Yep, there it is. Jellybean screaming from the back seat that she is going to wet her pants right now! just minutes after having gone. So, we swing by our house where the power of suggestion overcomes the Meatball and Porkchop. With everyone's bladder empty, we arrive at the lot. We are a bit skeptical because already it is slim pickins. I'm about to suggest we wait and go to the farm on Friday, but I catch Chowder's eye and turn to see the kids gleefully winding through the sparse aisles. I knew we wouldn't be leaving without a tree.

Did I mention it was 29 degrees? It was. It didn't take long for me to give up any hope of getting a galumph a tree and told the kids to pick out whatever tree they wanted. I didn't care. If they liked it, we would buy it. They found a tree in about 5 minutes, I snapped a quick picture, gave Chowder the money, and coralled everyone back to the van. It didn't look that bad at the lot but once we got it home to our 10 foot ceilings, the poor little thing seemed to shrink. But, isn't that the beauty of children and Christmas? Look at Jellybean. Do you think she gives a crap that this is a mere imitation of a Cakes Family Christmas tree? Of course she doesn't even notice.

ok. So maybe I can love that cute little feller of a tree. But next year, I want a gigantamungous tree.



Please note: Since last year I didn't get all my decorations down until early March, I decided that we would decorate with ornaments made from recyclable paper so we could just throw it all in the recycling bin and be done with it. Let's just hope that Chowder doesn't get creative with the tree removal again this year.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Happy Peek-In Monday!

4 years ago I bought our first Hallmark snowman thingy for Jellybean and the Meatball. Chowder was disgusted. Thought it was awful....and annoying. I explained that it was this kind of cheesy stuff that children will remember from their childhood. Not the elegant decorations so tastefully strung over the fireplaces, but the tacky, silly singing snowman. He disagreed. Now we have 4. oops.

I pulled them out while the kids were sick in hopes of lifting some spirits.

video

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Finally...

We've had a rough round of illness hit the Cakes house. I haven't had a night of more than 4 hours of sleep in three days. Hoping things go more smoothly tonight.

On a happier note...


video

apparently she needs her finger in her nose for balance.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

How do you do it?

So, I'm running errands yesterday; post office, Target, Kohl's (returns from Black Friday), and then Sam's and home. When we are walking around Sam's I look down at Porkchop and notice that he doesn't have his left shoe on. Crap! It's not in the cart or anywhere around.
"Where's your shoe?"
"I don't have it."
"Really? Well, who does?"
"I don't know."
We begin a search around the store looking for the lost shoe. 10 minutes later...
"Is it in the car?"
"What?"
"Did. you. have. the. shoe. on. when. you. came. into. Sam's?"
"No."
"So, it's in the car?"
"No."
*panic*
"Did you lose it at Kohl's?"
"No."
"What about...run through all the other places we have been?"
"No."
*deep breath and acts of great restraint*
"Do you have any idea where you left your shoe?!"
"Yep."
Jellybean chimes in, "He couldn't find it at home."
"You've been walking around all afternoon with only one shoe?"
"uh huh."
"and I, Mother of the Year, have just now noticed?"
"Yup."
"super."

We get into line and a tired woman with a tired toddler looks at me and says, "How do you do it? I can't even handle one."
"Apparently, like this." pointing to the shoeless foot.

Monday, November 26, 2007

argh!!!! Peek-In-Monday technical difficulties

Ok! I think I got it to work! Let's give this a try...

video

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Peek-In-Monday practice...

Ok. I wanted to make sure I could actually get this to work. And yay! I did. Here is what I had in mind. This first clip is Chowder and Ladybug dancing in the kitchen while I finished up dinner.

video

This second clip is Porkchop. I came upon him singing the same refrain over and over in the living room. This is what my entire day is filled with. Could be filled with worse, doncha think?

video

So you're all ready for Monday, right?

Friday, November 23, 2007

You be Molly and I'll be Pepper!

If you are of a certain age, like mine, then you spent many afternoons riding your bike through your neighborhood singing "Tomorrow, Tomorrow, I love ya' Tomorrow" at the top of your lungs. Or you'd stomp up to clean your room and slam your door and start yelling, "You'll stay up til this dump shines like the top of the Chrysler Building!" or when your mother told you that you can't go to your friend's house for a sleepover, you'd mumble under your breath, "I love you Miss Hannigan." You know what I'm talking about.

Somehow that spunky little orphan has found her way back into my life. But more importantly, into the lives of my children. I was 7yrs old when I went with my Brownie troop to the Fox Theater to see the Broadway production of Annie. I was completely in love. What isn't their to love about that musical? It has everything a 7 year old girl could ask for. Horribly dramatic conditions, oppressive dominant female figure, a bunch of hilarious and extremely loyal friends, a lost dog who claims you as his own and you can cry into his scruffy neck, an opportunity to live in a mansion, a daddy figure to save, a redemption for all your friends as you bring down the dominant female figure, and lots and lots of fabulous musical and dance numbers. I would play my Original Cast album on my little plastic record player over and over and over. It was the soundtrack to my 2nd grade year.

Then 4 years later along comes a movie version. I thought, "Wahoo!" only to be extremely disappointed. I mean, don't get me wrong. Carol Burnette was the most brilliant performance of Mrs. Hannigan I have ever seen. And Bernadette Peters? *swoon* I was never a huge fan of Aileen Quinn but remember my Annie virginity was lost to Andrea McArdle. But, what was up with Punjab? Why did we need to add him? or the crazy bridge scene at the end? I don't get it.

So, imagine my surprise when my kids turn up with the Disney version that was released in 1999. It has been playing in my house non-stop. And no car ride has been complete without the soundtrack on repeat. It has been all Annie, all the time. Now I haven't been particularly impressed with this new version either. It has all the Broadway clout I could ask for, including Alicia Morton from Les Miserables. They shot it to be more of a filming of a Broadway show. But, they cut a ton of the historical stuff out of it. They cut the romance between Daddy Warbucks and Grace! And the characters are completely whitewashed. Miss. Hannigan is not a villain, she is simply misunderstood! Even Annie is extremely Pollyanna-ish. No tough attitude, no street smarts, just a way too sunny charm. You don't feel the real desperation of these girls living in horrid conditions, they are way to perky. Even when they sing "It's a Hard Knock Life," they sound too sweet and happy!

Maybe this is best for the ages of my kids. But, I've learned that Annie is coming to our theater this Christmas season and I think we are going to have to see if we can tickets. After all, yesterday when I told Jellybean that she couldn't have anymore orange soda, I heard her mumble as I turned around, "I love you Miss Hannigan."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

This is going to be a long, long day...

This is what it looks like outside today. Don't get me wrong, we've had a good run this last week. The last two days were sunny and in the mid 70's. Unheard of and record breaking. But today, it looks like this.


And this is how my kids look today. Notice the oozing from every orifice. I'm oozing, too. Just in time for the holidays.



I hope everyone else in my house is catching the very strong "Nap Vibe" I'm sending out.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I'm tired...

I got nothing to blog about today. So, if you're bored you can watch my Elfed out kids.

Here.

I did this one for Skaterboy.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Total Voyeur...

I can't help it. I'm a total voyeur. Not that kind of voyeur, a boring voyeur. I love to peek in on people's everyday lives. Love. it. I still go back and visit Shazia's video about celebrating Eid with her family. I can't get enough of this stuff! So. I am officially starting a new bloggy thingy to feed my voyeuristic tendencies. And you are going to help! please please please please.

Here's how this is going to work. I'm calling it "Peek In Mondays" and every Monday I will post a short video clip peeking in to our everyday life. Nothing orchestrated, nothing set up, all completely natural. And in return, you will do the same and post a link to your clip in the comments section. If you don't have a blog (get one!) you can just post a link to You Tube or wherever else you want to upload it.

I mean anything. Making breakfast, bedtime rituals, meeting friends for coffee, sitting in class, going to the dry cleaners, hubby reading to the kids, laying around the park, walking to school, baking bread. whatever! I want to see it! and I know I am not alone. I'm giving you a week to get your first clip. We'll start next Monday. Join me so I don't look like a complete loser and curl up in a ball and regress back to 6th grade.
Edited to add that Leslie has a sweet little video of her two up on her blog.

“There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside of the dullest exterior there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy.” ~Mark Twain

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Friends' Thanksgiving...

Fifteen years ago, a bunch of college kids were sitting around an apartment lamenting the fact that we had to spend Thanksgiving with our families when we really just wanted to be with our friends. Thus, Friends' Thanksgiving was born. Since then, every year I have hosted a gathering of my friends and their families for a big Thanksgiving meal the Saturday before Thanksgiving. I make the turkey and they bring the rest.

It has been so much fun. We love seeing the friends that change and the ones that stay the same. In 1998, a friend gave us a tablecloth and since then everyone who attends signs the tablecloth before they leave. We all sit around and read the signatures and how many kids have been added or remember a friend lost to cancer or a move across the country.

But, Friends' Thanksgiving is a constant. Even when we moved far away from home to the Northwoods of Minnesota and we had no friends, we used it as our way of making friends and getting to know the people in our lives.

Well, last night's feast was a roaring success. Even though I had to send out a full disclosure email telling everyone that my kids woke up with snotty noses, to which I got an email back that it was ok because Meg's kids woke up with a snotty attitude. My chicks were, of course, in full representation. In the mix we had two families that have been with me for the 15 years and two people who attended for the first time. The kids ran around like crazy people and the adults locked ourselves in a room with several bottles of wine and the pumpkin cheesecake. This is Chowder with his other dorky pastor friends. (Church talk was banned.)

I tried a different way of roasting my 24 lb turkey last night and it was delicious! I couldn't believe how flavorful and moist and tasty it was! If anyone wants the recipe I'll happily post it, but if no one does I don't want to type it all out.

Oh and the Cakes' moment of the evening was at around 7:30pm when all of my drains backed up into my downstairs toilet and bathtub! It was perfect. I couldn't wash the dishes, bathe the kids, or even use the toilet. loved it. Plumber didn't show up until 7:15pm tonight.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

photo entry

I have 12 adults an 26 children coming for dinner tonight. So, I'm copping out with my favorite picture of the week..


Friday, November 16, 2007

What's 5mm and has be blubbering like a baby?

I'm at the grocery store and Chowder calls me to tell me that Jellybean's tooth is loose. What? I'm thinking, "Whatever. How loose can it be?" I get home and Jellybean has a little gap where her bottom tooth use to be. (She went into the bathroom and used a towel to pull it out!) And the other bottom tooth is loose!

Have no fear, I googled it and found that the average age to lose your first tooth is 6-7 years. A year on either side is within the normal range with girls losing their teeth generally earlier than boys. Thank you Dr. Spock! (and yes, I still resource him.)

When did this happen?! My babies! What happened to my babies?! The last three months have been this blur of growing up! And this little tiny baby tooth...just put me over the edge. What a concrete, physical embodiment of her growing up. Leaving her babyhood behind.

my baby...





Thursday, November 15, 2007

Here's what's going on in my house...


I don't think they are ever going to get along. Fargo is actually being amazing. He is the best damn dog ever. But every time he walks by, the kittens hiss and growl and carry on. Once he was laying down and being sooooo good. Just waiting and staying. Po Po was slowing moving up to him and sniffing and as soon as he reached Fargo's face he hissed and swatted Fargo right in the nose! Poor feller. I'm starting to feel bad because he's almost 12 years old and look what we've done to him!

Somebody tell me it will get better. but, I have a feeling it won't.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Autumn Rocks!





Monday, November 12, 2007

The first step is admitting you have a problem...

Ladybug refuses to walk.
I mean refuses.
I'm not worried about developmental delays or whether she is on target with her milestones. She clearly is fine. I've had "late" walkers. The twins walked at 14 mos. Skaterboy and Porkchop both walked at 9 mos. I know the whole normal range etc. etc.

That is not the issue here. This is out and out refusal. She has been crawling since 6 mos. That is 8 full months of crawling! She will crawl into the middle of the floor and stand up and look right at me and smile and I'll coo, "C'mere darling! Walk to Mommy." and she'll squeal a little and look like she's about to take a step and then she'll drop to her butt and give me this little smirk that can only mean, "Psyche!"

Don't get me wrong. I understand. She is the fastest crawler I have ever seen. Honestly. She can really book. Walking would be a major slow down for her. And slowing down in this house can be...well, dangerous for a little girl. or kitten. But, I just hope she walks before high school or she could develop a reputation very quickly.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Gratuitous Kitten Pic...

Very busy Sunday, Chowder had three services today because he was covering for the retirement center and another pastor today. And the kids were begging me to make a pumpkin pie. They've been reading about them at school and wanted to bake one to take for snack tomorrow. I have never made one before, so we'll see how it comes out. I made this one, which got 5 stars from 310 people so I hope it's good. (I am generally very good at following a recipe. People say I'm a good cook, but that really isn't true I can just follow directions like no body's business.) It looks yummy enough. I can't wait to make this pumpkin cheesecake, too!

And here is the adorable Crinkle McSunshine. What is it about small sleeping things? They are always adorable!


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Finally the one about the school...

Originally, we were planning on home schooling the kids because our public school system has been taken over by the state and lost it's accreditation. There are private and parochial options but we didn't want to do either of those for a couple of different reasons. Private schools that I would want to have my kids in run about $12,000 a year per child. Even if we got a free ride, we still wouldn't have sent them. Chowder and I have worked hard to give our children an understanding of the abundance in which we live. While we may not have a lot, we have plenty. We have chosen to surround our family in a neighborhood and community where materialism is not so much an issue because we all have pretty much nothing. But....plenty. If our kids were to go to one of these private schools, they would be the poor kids. Instead of living a life feeling you have everything you could ever need, my kids would always be made to feel like they didn't have enough. Does that make sense to anyone but Chowder and I?

When we first moved into our neighborhood everyone told us we had to get our kids into "Greatest School" Montessori Preschool. We looked into "Greatest School" Montessori Preschool and saw the tuition and said, "YIKES!" but wow, what a great place. A school that was warm and safe and challenging and looked like my neighborhood. Oh well.

Then last Spring, Chowder got a call from the director of "Greatest School" Montessori Preschool, and asked about the possibility of renting space in the church's basement where a Head Start Program used to be held. They had a few meetings and told Chowder about their dream of becoming a Charter fully Montessori Elementary School. Well, God's hand stirred things around a little bit and now we have "Greatest School" Montessori right across the street from our house and next year it will be free.

Right now they have two rooms, a 3-6 yr old room and a 6-9 yr old room. There are two Master teachers in each room with a maximum of 12 students per room. Eventually, they will add a 9-12 yr old room.

We were a little concerned about the transition because none of them had ever gone to school or daycare, but there was no need to worry. One of the cool things about this set up is that 2 out of every 3 years, all three of the kids will be in the same room. I love that! So, now they are in the 3-6 yr old room and go 4 mornings a week from 8:30-11:30a.

I have heard a lot of the criticisms about Montessori education and have not run into any of the issues that they talk about. On the contrary, my kids are doing extremely well in this environment. It has something for each of them. For Meatball it has the mastering specific tasks, for Porkchop it fills his need for productive, hands-on work, for Jellybean it gives her a chance to explore a large range of activities and to reinforce her knowledge by letting her "teach" the younger ones in the room.

I am amazed at how much they have grown-up in the last two months. Porkchop is really gaining a new confidence and individuality that is so fun to see. Meatball and Jellybean are reading first and second grade books! When they started school in September we had just begun Phonics Pathways at home. Is it because they are exceptionally bright or the teacher is exceptionally wonderful? I don't think so. I think the Montessori Method allows children to develop when they are ready. Meatball and Jellybean were ready to learn how to read and they were in an environment that let them run with it. If they were at the Preschool Skaterboy went to, they would still be in the ABCs phase and they would have to stay at the same level as everyone else, perhaps missing that prime time when they were really open to the concept.

For those, who think Montessori elementary is a lonely solitary thing, I can only show these pictures of a 6-9 year old room. Yes, there are desks off in quiet areas where children can choose to go to do their work, but much of the strength of this environment is the communal learning from each other.

We are so thankful that God led this school to us and that we have been given to them to help support and champion them. I knew I'd get along well with the parents when they held one of the school fundraisers at a neighborhood pub! These are people I can hang with! And they care so much about their kids' educations and about the school. It just feels so good when you know your family is in the right place.

The Missed Post...

I know I know. I didn't post yesterday. But, I refuse to penalize myself for it because there was no way I could post yesterday. I'm sure to screw it up of my own laziness, so I'm not bowing to defeat this early in when it was beyond my control.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I give up...

The reality is that on any given day, chances are that my house smells like poo. It's not that I don't clean or that I don't encourage good personal hygiene, because I do! (but let's face it, I have 3 boys. "good personal hygiene" is in the eyes of the beholder)

When we first brought home the kittens, my dad grumbled that my house was going to smell like cat poo. Ummm...right now my house smells like baby poo from the diaper pail, or dog poo brought in on somebody's shoes, or 3 yr old poo that for some reason doesn't always completely end up in the toilet, or Chowder poo after sneaking out to the Indian restaurant after we all know what curry does to him!

I am constantly disinfecting something or Lysoling something else. What's a little cat poo mixed in? (Have I mentioned that I have to clean the litter 3 times a day. OCD anyone?)

The toughest parenting choice, so far...pt.3

So, today I had Skaterboy trapped in the car while I ran errands. I was very proud of myself. I wasn't stumbly or jumbly. I was very sincere and matter-of-fact. I told him pretty much what I told you guys. That I was torn about the right thing to do. That in my desire to protect him and his girlfriend, I didn't want to throw out all of Chowder and my teaching and convictions. That part of me wants to just give him some condoms but I didn't want him to think that was some sort of permission. But, most me just wants him to wait for all of the spiritual practical reasons that I've drilled into his head. That I wanted him to understand just how big a responsibility this was.

He sat and listened. He didn't ask me to shut up. He didn't melt into a puddle of embarrassment.

No ladies, he thanked me. In such a very sweet way. And told me that this wasn't anything that I needed to worry about anytime soon. And promised me that we could talk about this again. and again.

*yay me!*

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The toughest parenting choice, so far...pt.2

That was a really vague crappy post. I see that now. I forget how much I have said where.

Here is some background. The last time I talked to Skaterboy about sex was 3 months ago. I asked if he had had sex and he said, no. I believed him. I didn't see his relationship having progressed that far. He now has a new girlfriend and I feel like every relationship gets us closer to that point. I still don't think that he has had sex. But at his age, that could change at any moment.

So, even though Chowder and I had a firm position and had been (hopefully) preparing him for years, now that we are staring it in the face we are trying to decide if all that we have done in preparation is enough. And of course with my history figured in that adds a whole different aspect to where my brain is.

I agree with Valerie that I need to stop talking about it to everyone else and just talk to Skaterboy about it. That is one thing I can tell you with black and white certainty, wherever you stand in the spectrum (whether for abstinence only or you're taking a picture of your daughter's first condom to put in her baby book), you must have this conversation. and not just once. but over and over.

Is it crazy awkward? Folks, it's brutal. But, it will hopefully spare your child from more brutally awkward conversations such as, "Mom, Dad, I know I'm only 19 and a sophomore in college, but I'm pregnant." or "Hi Mr. and Mrs. X, I know you have such a great life set up and everything. And I know I'm just a dumb teenager, but I've decided to keep my baby."

Monday, November 05, 2007

I love you guys...

I get tons of comments on posts about Chowder being "The Buttwiper" or the fact that we have official rules requiring pants at the dinner table, but when I post about my 16 yr old and birth control you all remain so politely silent.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The toughest parenting choice, so far...

I've been discussing with just about everyone who will stop 5 minutes to talk to me about it... teenagers and birth control. The mothers that I have talked to, all offered very insightful opinions and arguments that gave me many things to think about. Because most of the moms I chat with do not have teenagers, but preschoolers, it made me pine for the "hypothetical years" when my opinion was also so firm, when I saw this issue in such a beautiful, clear black and white. But, there is something very valuable in these views because they have not yet been muddied.

I have talked to our family counselor about the whole thing and he agreed with my original plan, only to follow me through the mud and agree with me on the exact opposite course of action. But, that's how this issue is. I agreed 100% with every point that every person was making. But like all parenting, so much rhetoric and advice is really just that. In the end you have to look into the face of your individual child and take in account your individual family and move forward with honesty and faith.

I had talked the issue to death. So much talk inevitably leads to inaction to paralyzation as you are overwhelmed by so many options. Then Becky's dad dropped off Skaterboy after a movie. Darling, sweet, funny, adorable Becky. She came in to see the new kittens. I looked at her with her fresh, innocent skin and pretty smile still full of braces and I thought, "What would Becky's mother want me to say to Skaterboy?"

I am entirely aware that unlike smoking or truancy, this decision made by my teenage son will not just effect my family but sweet honor student, social justice club member, soccer player Becky and her family not just as much, but actually more so.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

You have got to be kidding!

Honestly people. If you know anything about cats, you have got to help me out. So far, our kittens are doing wonderfully. Other than the fact that I have to constantly supervise the children to be sure that they don't love them to hard, it has been a pretty stress-free transition. Until now.

I'm a bit freaky about the whole litterbox thing, so I have been cleaning the thing out several times a day. I can't tell you how disturbed I was to walk into their safe room this morning to find that they had decided to roll their poo around the room! What the hell?! They have plenty of toys. They had a nice clean litter box that they poo'ed in and then rolled it out and all around the room!!

Please, tell me this is a one off thing! I had to bather Crinkle this morning because she smelled so bad! Argh! Any advice?