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?"
"Did. you. have. the. shoe. on. when. you. came. into. Sam's?"
"So, it's in the car?"
"Did you lose it at Kohl's?"
"What about...run through all the other places we have been?"
*deep breath and acts of great restraint*
"Do you have any idea where you left your shoe?!"
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?"

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...

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.

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?

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.


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?

Friday, November 02, 2007


Have you ever lead to the downfall of another person before? This is my first. I mean, sure ultimately he brought about his own downfall, but my hands are not clean.

This is the house that was three doors down from mine. It belonged to Enrico. When we first moved here, the neighbors were talking with him about his property. You see, Enrico was a beekeeper. Now, that is just fine and dandy. Beekeeping is perfectly legal in my city (Heck! we used to awoken every morning to the sound of a rooster crowing from the house behind us. We thought it was funny and quaint at first, but the reality is not like the movies or cartoons. They don't just crow once or twice, they keep going and going.) sorry, back to the bees. So, legally you can have 4 bee hives on a city lot. Enrico had 16. He didn't provide them with a water source so these hives depended on neighbors garden pools for water. They all had to be drained because the bees got so thick.

The city finally got around to citing him and he got rid of most of the hives and cleaned up the back porch where he produced the honey. Then, we started noticing new, strange people showing up at his house to buy "honey." They would pull up out front and honk their horns for someone to come out to the car and then minutes later drive away. Then there were the desperate looking ladies who began to take up residence there. You know, the last chance hookers hanging off the balcony. The new strange people would pull up and go inside and 15 minutes later be on their way.

I began talking with some of these ladies, to be sure they themselves were safe (Enrico's wife left him after being beaten to a bloody pulp one too many times.) Sister Jeanne would go over there and pray with him and he would cry to her and promise to change his life blah blah blah and we really hoped that he would. Suddenly 16 beehives didn't seem so bad. But in the end, we knew we couldn't help him and we had to protect our families. So, we attacked. We started a phone tree and every time a car pulled up front and honked its horn we flooded 911 with calls and license plate numbers. His life began to crumble quickly at that point. He lost his house in foreclosure, but he didn't have to move out, yet. (Foreclosure can take a surprisingly long time.), his water was then turned off, and once turned off for 3 days your house becomes unlivable and is condemned. The day they came to board up the house his van was booted and towed away by the city.

It took my breath away watching it all unfold. Watching right before my very eyes as a man became homeless. Knowing that he had done it to himself and yet feeling horribly uneasy about my hand in it. But, dammit I will fight you to the death if you endanger my children.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


Halloween came just like it does every year...out of nowhere.

It was suddenly 3:30p on Halloween afternoon and I realized that I had no candy and forgot to get the boys' superhero masks. Yep. Right on schedule. So, after 4 stops and a McDonald's run, I was home in time to get the kids on the street by 6:30p. That's a respectable time.

Jellybean of course changed her mind about her costume at 6:25p. Ladybug was in bed by 6:45p (she hadn't had an afternoon nap) and Skaterboy was off to his girlfriends house at 7:00p. I couldn't get the children to hold still long enough to get a good picture, so instead I got two crappy pictures.