Sunday, December 28, 2008

Missing Items

My deodorant has been missing for 2 days, and I was getting very stinky. Today I was doing laundry, and I found my deodorant at the bottom of the laundry basket. Apparently, someone knocked it down the laundry chute. The moral of the story pays to do laundry. Now I'm missing my left slipper. Sarah is high on my list of suspects....

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Last night, I played every Christmas song I know on my harp at the Apostolic Christian Home for the Handicapped. They were a rowdy crew, which is my favorite kind. Sarah had a pretty dress on, and she danced her little heart out while I played. Then we went to the Christmas Eve service at our church. Just when you think you've heard every Christmas sermon, our pastor delivered a fresh, great one, and the kids were good listeners. At the end, everyone held a candle and we sang "Silent Night". Sarah looked like an absolute angel with her pretty face lit up by candlelight, as she held her candle high. I leaned over and whispered to her, "You're beautiful," and she put her arm around me and whispered back, "You're beautiful." That's a lovely picture, isn't it? Unfortunately, she was up too late last night and didn't get enough sleep, so the OTHER Sarah appeared this morning, grouchy and disagreeable. The first present she opened was from Noah. He had picked out a glass bubble gum ornament for her because he knows she likes bubble gum and pretty things. Noah asked excitedly, "Do you like it?" She promptly dropped it on the ground and said, "No. I didn't want an ornament." Then she followed the clues in her treasure hunt to a new game. We started playing it, but she grabbed all the pieces and declared the game over because "it's boring". Just when I thought the little grinch was going to ruin Christmas for everyone, she turned back into the Sarah we all know and love. The neighbor across the street had given Noah and Sarah $20 for Christmas. A homeless woman that we've been helping called this morning and said she needed $20. Immediately, Sarah said, "She can have my Christmas money." So I was reminded...never give up on Sarah.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I'm playing my harp at a home for mentally challenged people today. Since I'm taking the kids with me, I had a conversation with them about what to expect and what not to do (i.e., don't point and stare or make comments or ask loud questions). After I tried to explain how the people's brains don't work quite the same as ours, Noah said, "Are they very contagious?" I'm glad he asked that, because I wouldn't have thought to explain that we don't need to be afraid of catching anything. Later, Noah asked me how TVs work, so I was explaining about how our brains assemble pixels into images, and Noah asked, "So...the people you're playing the harp for, can they watch TV, or do their brains not understand pixels?"

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Kitchen Helper

After dinner tonight, Noah asked if he could help me clean up the kitchen. I never turn down help. He filled water bottles and put them in the fridge, put the leftover food in the fridge, wiped off the table, and washed the dishes. While he was washing, he said, "Is this what you do every night while I'm playing with Dad?" I said yes, and he said sincerely, "Thanks for doing all that, Mom."

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Mike arranged a getaway for the two of us for the first time since we've had children. He asked both sets of parents to take the kids while we stayed at the Embassy Suites in East Peoria for two nights. I've always considered it the ultimate selfishness to expect our parents to take on our responsibilities. They've already raised their children and deserve to just enjoy being grandparents. But this mini vacation was important to Mike, and I knew I had to submit. I knew Noah would be very sad, and leaving them felt like cutting off my right arm. I worried, prayed, and cried a lot in anticipation of the weekend. I had several realizations that caused me to come to a certain peace about it. I realized that maybe I was the one being selfish by keeping the kids all to myself, and maybe the grandparents would actually WANT the kids overnight. I realized that maybe Noah needed this opportunity to grow and see that he will be ok without me. And I realized that since it was so hard for me to even think about letting go, maybe I needed to too. I started thinking about two nights in a hotel with a pool and a hot tub, reading a book, sleeping late, talking with my husband uninterrupted, not having to cook or clean, and I started warming up to the idea. In the end, the kids did great and had a good time on their first sleepovers with Grandma & Grandpa and Nana & Papa, and Mike and I enjoyed a fabulous time together.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rudeness and Sweetness

The kids were being rude to each other, and I was discouraged. A few minutes later, Noah was lying down with his head next to Sarah's leg, and she was very tenderly stroking his hair. The sun was shining on them, and nobody was saying a word. It was heavenly. Then it got even better. Still petting his shaggy hair, Sarah said, "Your hair is getting long. I think you're going to grow up to be a woman!" Noah laughed and said, "No matter how long my hair gets, I'll always be a male." Sarah said sincerely, "You are a beautiful person." I think it was the sweetest moment I've ever witnessed between them, and I cried for joy.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Healthy "Chips and Dip"

I told the kids they could have chips and dip for a snack. They were totally excited. I set before them...hummus and baked pita chips. They eagerly dove into it. Sarah dipped her chip, put it in her mouth, and scowled. She pointed her finger up in the air and said unhappily, " NOT dip. And THIS is NOT a chip." Noah thought it was great and unquestioningly ate his share in addition to Sarah's. I never did tell them that it was hummus. Why does the healthy stuff have to cost ten times more and taste one tenth as good as the bad fatty stuff?

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Sarah Sayings

Sarah has been extra funny today. Here's a sampling:
We were doing math during lunch, and Sarah asked me, "What's six plus six?" With food in my mouth, I answered, "Twelve". Silence for a few seconds, and then she said, "Don't you know what six plus six is?" I told her that I already said twelve, and she said she thought I had said, "Weeellll...." as if I was thinking about it.
Mike and I were referring to each other in terms of endearment. I said, "What kind of cookies would you like me to make, Honey Biscuit?" and he said, "Chocolate chip is fine, Sweet Muffin." Sarah piped up, "I like chocolate chip too, Toasty Bread."
While we were making the cookies, I was teaching her the names of different groups of animals. I told her that a group of penguins is called a colony, and she said, "We're making a colony of chocolate chip cookies!"

Friday, December 5, 2008

Nutcracker & Embarrassment

I took the kids to see The Nutcracker today. They loved it. At the end, the dancers came out so we could meet them. Sarah looked up at one of them in awe and said, "You are so beautiful!" Sarah was complaining of ear pain the whole time, and she went face down near the end of the ballet, so when we got home at 2:50, I called the doctor to see if I could get her an appointment. By some miracle, they had a cancellation at 3:00, so we left immediately. On the way to the office, I was explaining to Sarah that she would not be seeing her usual doctor because he was not available. I knew the doctor she was seeing, so when she asked me what he looked like, I said, "He's young and cute." Of course when he walked in the room, Sarah said, "Oh, you ARE young and cute just like Mom said!" I actually blushed.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Henry Kissinger

Sarah looked at this picture on the box of vanilla wafers and said, "Look at that vanilla ice cream with the vanilla wafers." I said it was probably strawberry ice cream since it's pink, and she stubbornly insisted that it was definitely vanilla. I asked her why it was pink, and she said, "Because they put food coloring in the vanilla ice cream." I was staring at her, trying to rise above these ridiculous kind of arguments that we've had since she first learned to speak. Noah, always the mature diplomat, gave me a histrionic wink and said, "I'm sure you're right, Sarah."

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Bad Words

The kids were playing pleasantly together in Noah's room while I was in the kitchen, and I heard them having a discussion about bad words. Here's how it went:
Noah: Why can't we say whatever words we want to say?
Sarah: I don't know.
Noah: Go ask Mom.
Sarah (coming into the kitchen): Mom, why can't we say whatever words we want?
Me: Because some words are not good for you to say.
Sarah goes back to Noah's room and says: Because some words are not good to say.
N: Which ones?
S: I'll ask Mom....Mom, which ones?
M: Well I'm not going to say them because that would require saying them.
N: We've heard you say them before anyway.
M: Well, I'm trying not to say them.
N: Can we say butt?
M: No.
N: Stupid?
M: No.
N: Shut up?
M: No.
N: [unrepeatable expletive]?
M: Certainly not.
N: But you say it when you're mad.
M: Yes, well...I shouldn't.
N: Why can't we say it? What's so bad about it?
M: It hurts people's feelings and makes God sad.
Several minutes of relative quiet, and then Sarah comes out again, sent on another mission.
S: Can we just say the bad words quietly to ourselves?
M: No. Because if you say them in your mind, they will eventually come out of your mouth.
She reports this to Noah, and he laments, "Oh, man. I really want to say bad words!"

Frog Funeral

Slimy Guy, our pet frog, died yesterday. Noah didn't want to have the funeral without his friend Maddie, because she's the one who found the tadpole at the lake last summer. She kept him in her garage in a cooler for a week, but then her mom needed to use the cooler, and somehow we were awarded custody of the tadpole. By fall, he had become a frog, and we were feeding him flies and crickets that we captured. When the weather started getting cold, I suggested that we release Slimy Guy at the lake so he could "find a wife" before winter. Noah became so upset that he cried hysterically for days. He kept sobbing about how he wanted Slimy Guy to have a wife, but he just couldn't bear to let him go. I ended up buying a fire belly toad at the pet store to be Slimy Guy's wife. So instead of getting rid of the one frog we had, we ended up with two. I had to buy crickets at the pet store to feed them. All was well for several weeks, until yesterday when Slimy went belly up. I called Maddie and invited her and her sister to the funeral. After school, they dutifully turned up to mourn. Sarah hugged them both and said, "I'm sorry for your loss." We gathered around the toilet for a lovely ceremony, and Sarah flushed the body. Noah seemed fine, but later, we were looking at a picture of Noah taking a bath with Slimy Guy, and that started the tears. It took him a long, long time to fall asleep last night because he was so sad. The pictures show Slimy Guy on Noah's head, and the sad mourners at the funeral.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Full of Activity

We did 3 major projects today.
1) We made our own pizzas. We made the sauce first, then the crust, each rolled out our own crust (some of us tossed them in the air), baked them, added lots of toppings, and baked them again. It took all morning, but they were so good!
2) We put up our Christmas decorations, including the tree, fake snow on the window, nativity scene and lighted cross outside. We bought a flocked tree at a garage sale about 10 years ago, and that thing has plagued us ever since. At least a gallon of flocking comes off each time we put it up, and I'm always amazed that when we pull it out of the box the next's still covered in flocking. I think that stuff regenerates itself all year long. This year we did get smart and wear our vinyl pants and jackets while putting up the tree and decorating it. In the past we've worn pajamas or sweat pants, and the flocking sticks to us like velcro, and then we track it all over the house. This year it was contained to the living room floor, where Noah vacuumed it all up.
3) We made Christmas cutout cookies, which took much of the afternoon.
We also played outside, jumped on the trampoline, drew, played hide and seek, danced and wrestled around, played tag, read books, went for a walk around the neighborhood after dark (Sarah and I in our pajamas), and then drove to the next neighborhood to look at Christmas lights. Noah decided that when he grows up and has his own family, he's going to put multicolored lights all over the house and various gawdy decorations all over the yard. That surprised me, since he's such an introvert. Sarah said, "When I grow up and have a family, I'm going to take my kids with me everywhere, and at night I'll sleep with them in beanbags on the driveway."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Good Day

It was a rare day of near-perfection. It was sunny and warm enough to ride bikes and play outside for awhile. Both kids bathed when we came in. Great smells are coming out of the crockpot. Laundry is done. Lots of good school with extra math, and both kids did very well. Nothing is scratching my eye. Best of all, the kids played well together and got along great all day.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Plank Removal

The plank has been removed from my eye, thanks to my son, the ingenious problem-solver. I told him that my eye had been bothering me all day and that I didn't know how I was ever going to get Sarah's toenail out of it. He said, "Cut an onion." I breathed in the fumes of the onion and cried prolifically, and washed the thing right out onto my eyelashes.

Freak Accident

I was hunched over Sarah's feet, clipping her toenails. One of the clippings shot straight up into my eye, completely incapacitating me for a few minutes. It's still there, but it's lodged itself into a more comfortable position. I'm trying not to rub my eye. I even got in the shower and tried to flush it out, but that was unsuccessful. So I'm left with a chunk of Sarah's toenail in my eye and a greater appreciation for the way God made eyes. Their defense mechanisms are amazing. As soon as the obstruction got in, fluid started surrounding it. And the eyelids, wimpy as they appear, are a powerful force when you try to pry them open. Is any of this blog-worthy? Probably not.

Rewards and Promotions

We were having a power clean this morning. That's where I give out assignments, crank up some music, and yell, "Power clean!" Noah loves it. Sarah mostly holds down the couch. They cleaned the living room while I was working on the bathroom. I was planning to reward them by playing a game with them and reading to them when we were done. They did a pretty good job, so I said, "You're earning your reward..." Noah's eyes lit up, and he said, "Is it a promotion?" I asked him what he wanted to be promoted to, and he said, "I want to scrub the toilet!" Being the gracious mother that I am, I let him.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tilted Hearts

Sarah's behavior was pretty appalling today. She did a lot of things that I won't write, because I don't want to remember them. While I was getting lunch ready, she didn't like the cup I gave her, so she stormed off to her room and slammed the door. I made Noah's lunch and went to talk to her while he was eating. She had taken her clothes off, turned on her electric blanket, and curled up under the covers. I started lecturing her about her attitude and how I wasn't going to put up with her rude behavior, etc., etc. She glared at me the whole time, when she even looked at me at all. Finally, spent and frustrated, I sat down next to her and asked her in a softer tone, "What is wrong with your heart?" Right away she looked at me and tears came to her eyes, and she said, "It's just tilted." That defused the whole situation, because I realized that my heart is tilted more often than it's right, so I sympathized with her. We prayed that our hearts would straighten up, and then she perked up and came out for lunch.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Conversation between Noah and Sarah while they were doing a Mom-mandated cleanup:
N: When we grow up, we'll have our own houses and our own kids that we can boss around.
S: Yeah! And we can watch TV all day!
N: Dad can help us install a satellite dish, and we can watch whatever we want! will we make money?
S: We can be cashiers.
N: At what store? Aldi? Wal-Mart?
S: No, we're going to open our own store.
N: That's brilliant, Sarah! Then we can boss around the people who work for us!
S: And when we go home from work, we can start bossing our kids around!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Conversation with Sarah

Sarah: When I grow up, I'm going to marry Noah.
Me: I know you love Noah, but you can't marry him, because he's your brother.
S: I'd like to marry Kyle Nix, but I don't like Livvi.
M: Livvi is his sister's dog, so she wouldn't be living with you and Kyle.
S: Kyle is going to build us a house right in the middle of your yard, like a dog house. Then you can visit us whenever you want.
M: That will be nice.
S: I don't think Daddy would mind if Kyle borrows some of his tools to build the house.


The questions around here are getting harder to answer. Noah has always asked hundreds of questions a day, and they usually involve scientific things. He's always been interested in how things work. Lately, his questions are becoming more moral in nature, such as "Is it wrong not to tell if you know something?" He knows that lying is breaking one of the commandments, but I've been talking to him about "telling the truth in love" and how you can't always blurt out everything that's on your mind. He said, "If an ugly person asks me if they're ugly, is it more important to tell the truth or be nice?" It was easier when I could look up the answers to his questions on the internet. It's easier to explain why the sky is blue than what the difference between a lie and an exaggeration is. At least the only question Sarah asks is usually, "Can I have a snack?"

Friday, November 7, 2008

Dalmation Wedding

Noah and Sarah spent the entire morning setting up an elaborate wedding for two stuffed dalmation dogs. They dressed up in their fanciest clothes. I was asked to play the harp for the wedding, so I was also required to wear a fancy dress. The wedding itself was rather uneventful, and then we spent a long time cleaning up while the happy couple went off on their honeymoon. The pictures show:
1) Noah and Sarah in their wedding clothes
2) Me in my wedding clothes (I also had fuzzy slippers on)
3) Guests
4) The happy couple
5) The fancy layered wedding cake

What a guy!

Thursdays are rushed, thanks to my harp lesson at 5:30. We have to eat immediately when Mike gets home, and then I have to leave while everybody else is still eating. Last night I made stir fry with scallops. The stove top was a mess, and I didn't have time to wash the dishes. When I left, the kids were eating salsa and tortilla chips, and the table was a mess. I had a wonderful, peaceful time at my harp lesson and stopped at Kroger on my way home. I was really dreading the big kitchen clean up I knew would be facing me when I got home. My wonderful husband had it all done! He had even enlisted the kids' help, and the whole kitchen was clean. He had also managed to play tumble and chase with them and took them out to look at the stars. I'm a lucky woman!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


We all wrote poems this morning in writing class. Here is Noah's:

Done Dad
Sad Sarah
Mad Mom
Oh how wonderful this day could be without that!

After he said his poem, Sarah said angrily, "I'm not sad. I'm happy!"
Here is her poem:

I'm going to whisper in your ear,
so Noah won't hear.

Noah scowled at that. Then there was an unfortunate incident, which inspired us to write the following poem:

Once there was a bowl of oatmeal and blueberries tall.
It took a terrific fall.
Oatmeal on the wall.
Now I've seen it all!
Cleaning up will not be a ball.
I wish I could stall,
but I have to crawl.
Wish there was a maid I could call.
It's creeping towards the hall.
What if we don't clean up at all?
Let's just go to the mall!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Porcine Musings

As a pig trailer passed us on the interstate, the children and I discussed, "How can pigs smell so bad when bacon smells so good?"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Creative Overload

I read the book "Seven Blind Mice" by Ed Young to the kids today. It's a great book for learning colors, ordinal numbers, and a great lesson about looking at the big picture. The kids cut out seven mice and colored them according to the mice in the book. They colored and cut out an elephant and glued tails on the mice. I read some math story problems and had the kids act them out with the mice and elephant. That was the end of my plan, but it was only the beginning, as far the kids were concerned. They taped the mice and elephant onto straws to make puppets. Then they disappeared into Noah's room to make a puppet stage. I stayed in the kitchen to make dinner, and I could hear things crashing in his room. They kept making trips to the pantry to get soda cans, apple juice bottles, and lots of other things. Then they started emptying the bookshelves and hauling it all into Noah's room. I tried to ignore them, because they weren't asking for my involvement, and I was enjoying the time alone to cook, but I knew they were making a gigantic mess. I squashed my control issues as long as I could, but once I got the casserole in the oven, I went to see what they were doing. They put on a cute puppet show for me, and then I made them get busy cleaning up. That's the when the arguing, complaining, bossing, whining, and not listening started. Two of us ended up in tears, and Mike came home in the middle of a tense situation. But before it turned ugly, there were a lot of good times.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Cleaning and Collaging

We spent the morning cleaning the bathroom and making collages. See how happy Noah looks while he's scrubbing that drain plug with a toothbrush? He seriously loves to clean, especially disgusting detailed jobs like that. I discovered that neither of my kids was aware of how many months are in a year (!), so we made a collage of months. Sarah's attitude needed some adjustment (actually, a complete turn-around), so we did another collage of the things on which we SHOULD be focusing. It was supposed to be a lesson for the kids, but every time I look at those dolphins jumping in the sunset, it makes me happy. It's not just the kids who need to focus on what's good and lovely.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Our Little Angel

I've never seen Sarah look (or act) like an angel before, but this morning she practically transfigured. We were on the way to church, and she sang the whole way. It was a song she was making up herself (with help from the Holy Spirit, no doubt). I don't remember all the lyrics, but it was something like, "Jesus is our example. I love you, Jesus, forever and ever. Jesus loves us." It went on and on for ten full minutes, and even Noah was silent listening to her. She sang so softly and sweetly, not in her usual silly voice when she's making up a song. And for Noah to be quiet for that long without interrupting her was clearly a miracle. By the time we got to church, tears were falling down my face and I felt like I had already been to church.

Too Much Death

We went to two visitations last week. This morning we woke up to a dead fish floating at the top of the tank. It was Sarah's fish, Spotter. I scooped it out and dumped it in the toilet. Sarah stood next to the body, and the rest of us lined up to express our condolences. Noah looked at the body, then hugged Sarah and said, "I'm sorry for your loss." She accepted all our sympathies, then asked, "Can I flush him now?"

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Killing Birds

Recently I spent considerable time explaining the expression "killing two birds with one stone" to Noah. He has since been using it quite proficiently. Today he used it in a way I've never heard before (leave it to him!). We were stuck in road construction traffic, barely inching along, and he said, "We're only killing half a bird with one stone right now."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Organic Soda

Noah and Sarah were pretending to be camping. They were pretend-slurping on wooden blocks, and I asked them what they were drinking. They said soda, and I said, "That's bad for you." Sarah said, "Don't worry, it's organic."

Mean Mommy Ogre

Noah came into my room during quiet time, which he knows is not allowed. It's the one sacred hour out of the whole day where no one is talking to me. I pretended to be asleep, and he left. Then I heard him go into Sarah's room (also not allowed) and say, "Hey Sarah, go ask Mom if we can go to Wells' (neighbors) after quiet time!" I decided right then that his punishment would be not being allowed to go to Wells'. I felt like a mean mommy because I know the neighbors would enjoy having the kids visit. As soon as quiet time was over, Noah came running in, asking to go to Wells'. I said no and told him why. Being the good-natured kid he is, he accepted it graciously. Later I went into his room and found a picture he had colored and written Mr. Wells' name on it. I asked him about it, and he said he was planning to give it to Mr. Wells when he went to visit. Then I felt like an ogre.


This morning Noah was pretending to be our old cat Choco (who died when Noah was about 2 years old), and he was hunting mice. In the middle of that, Mike came in and announced that Colin Powell was endorsing Barack Obama. After a long discussion with Noah about what that means, he incorporated it into his play. He had a political rally where all the cats were endorsing Chocobama, and all the mice endorsed John McMouse. Chocobama promised to enforce a law that required every American citizen to grow catnip. John McMouse promised cheese to every mouse. On election day, Chocobama won by one vote, and all but three of the mice decided to support him. The other three decided to move to Canada in protest. But Chocobama asked them to stay and be his vice presidents (one to get his groceries, one to write down everything he says, and one to attend meetings for him).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Art Appreciation

This was the artwork in our hotel room in Chicago. When Noah saw it, he said, "That looks like something Sarah scribbled!" I agreed and wondered how much the artist got paid for it. The funny thing is, we kept coming back to it and studying it and commenting on it, and I finally realized that THAT'S what makes it art. If it had been a nice scenic picture, we may have commented that it was pretty, if we mentioned it at all. But we ended up spending a considerable amount of time discussing this "scribble".

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Glad to be home

This was not our finest trip. Nobody liked each other very much. We left Chicago at rush hour (not a good idea), and Noah announced that his stomach hurt. He hadn't had much lunch, so I thought he was probably just hungry and proceeded to keep passing him food. He ate a lot of carrots and trail mix. It was going to be late when we got home, and Mike and I were making a verbal list of all the things we had to do. Then the projectile vomiting started. It was one of those rare moments when I was overcome with hopelessness and wondering if it's all worth it. Mike exceeded the speed limit the rest of the way home, and we got the kids cleaned up and put to bed. Then we spent a long time cleaning up, hauling in, unpacking, and laundering. By the time I went to bed, I was feeling better about things in general and was able to recall some good moments from the trip, such as:
-the perfect weather
-watching the kids chase pigeons
-the great food
-the Asian taxi driver who loved my little Asians and gave them a candy bar
-beautiful harvest moon over the Chicago River
-eating ice cream at the zoo with Nina and Julia

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Street Musician

Here we are in Chicago, where Mike is attending a conference for work. We went to Navy Pier this afternoon, came back to the hotel to go swimming, and ordered a pizza. It was going to be delivered in an hour, so while we were waiting, I took my harp out to the sidewalk where people were walking by the Chicago River. I had to practice anyway, so I set out a bowl and started playing. Soon, someone came along and dropped two quarters in my bowl. About 20 minutes later, someone else put in two dollars. Then I packed it up and went to eat pizza. I don't think I could make a living as a street musician, but it sure was fun.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


One of the very few good shows left on PBS for kids (now that they've taken off Mr. Rogers) is "Fetch!" It's a game show where real kids have to complete challenges and answer quiz questions for points. At the end, the host doles out bonus points. We love to watch the show and then act it out ourselves. I'm the host, handing out challenges and making up questions. At the end, I distribute the points and declare the winner. Today I had a few things I needed to get done, and the kids were hounding me to play Fetch. It struck me that I could kill two birds with one stone. One thing I needed to do was clean the cricket cage and feed the crickets and the frog. I usually do this job myself, because it's pretty tricky, but today I turned it into a Fetch challenge for the kids. They loved it and did a pretty good job. A couple of the crickets escaped but the kids caught them and got them back into their cage. I also wanted to make cherry turnovers, so I broke the recipe down into simple steps that Noah could read to Sarah. Their challenge was to make the cottage cheese pastry dough. They made a huge mess, of course, but they actually did better than I thought they would! As the dough was chilling, they gathered around to hear the results. Noah won the cricket/frog challenge, and Sarah won the cooking one. Here are some of the bonus points I awarded (5 points each):
N-catching the escaped crickets
S-knowing where the measuring cups/spoons are
S-using good manners
N-finding the wooden spoon
N-knowing what a pastry blender is and how to use it
N-figuring out that the tablespoon makes a good cottage cheese scooper
S-sharing and being generous
The next challenge was a very difficult treasure hunt. They're used to treasure hunts, but this one had a new twist: the clues were written in code. Noah very impressively decoded the clues and read them to Sarah, who was very good at finding them. The treasure was a painting activity, which they did while I washed dishes. During the painting, Sarah was rushing through it and said, “I want to get this done so I can go to DQ!” (we’re going to DQ tonight to celebrate her Gotcha Day). Noah told her, “Take it easy and enjoy this time in your life. Someday you won’t have this kind of life. You’ll grow up and be an adult and you’ll have to work and then you’ll die.” Sometimes he's so wise and profound! They learned a lot, and I learned that they are capable of more than I realized.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


I was home all day, and I accomplished only three things.
1) The kids and I gathered up all the board books and other babyish books that they've outgrown and bagged them up to give to my friend with a baby.
2) Sarah and I concocted a soup made almost entirely from leftovers. The only new thing I added was an onion. I cooked it in chicken broth and Sarah threw in leftover broccoli, carrots, pork, and mashed potatoes. She put some cheese on top, and we ate it. The kids loved it and spent several minutes brainstorming a name for it (which I have since forgotten).
3) I washed and de-stinkified our towels, washcloths, and dishrags. How do they get so stinky??? I washed them using nothing but vinegar and very hot water in the first cycle. Then I ran them through again using my usual laundry detergent. Then I dried them on an extra long cycle. They came out smelling good and looking bright and fluffy.
The rest of the day was spent playing together and reading a lot.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Lunch in Bed!

My children decided that they wanted to serve me lunch in bed today. I sat on the bed, and they drew up a menu and brought it to me. I ordered cheese, crackers, Chex mix, carrots, an apple, and water. My servers left to get the food, and I heard chaotic noises in the kitchen. Finally, they returned with my order, which was perfect. They made their own lunches and ate at the kitchen table, returning several times to check on me, leave my bill, take my credit card, and suggest a tip amount (which was more than the price of my whole meal). The mess required a considerable cleanup effort, but it was worth it.

Friday, October 3, 2008

High on Prednisone

Noah has a mysterious outbreak of itchy bumps on his body. The doctor doesn’t know what it is, but he prescribed Prednisone to clear it up. Today Noah was running around in circles, flinging stuffed animals into the air, chattering incessantly, and squealing like an Indian on the warpath, all at the same time. It’s not unusual for him to be a little hyper, but this seemed over the top. Then I realized it was probably the drugs making him crazed. The three of us blew up beach balls and cranked up some music and embraced the craziness. It was so much fun!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Destroying My Pants

Today I was wearing a pair of khaki pants that someone gave me about ten years ago. They used to be too big on me, and now they're too tight. They've always been too short. The button has been missing for a few years. Today the zipper broke. I discovered this when I had to pee really bad, and the zipper was open at the bottom but still zipped up. So I pretty much had to rip it apart in a hurry. It was a liberating moment when I decided to get rid of these pants right then and there. But what to do with them? I certainly couldn't give them to anyone. I hated to take up landfill space, but I decided the only thing to do was throw them in the garbage. On my way to the garbage can, I spotted my kids, who were lolling around in the living room, looking bored. On an impulse, I tossed my pants to them and said, "Who wants to destroy my pants?" Were they ever excited! Their eyes lit up and they headed outside, saying things like, "Get the scissors!" "Bring the markers!" "Hey, I know! Ask Mom for a bowl and some food coloring!" They were busy for a long time and made quite a mess.

Monday, September 29, 2008


The kids and I were playing The Globe Game this morning. Sarah couldn't seem to locate Australia.
She said: "I'm never going to win this."
Noah said: "You need to have a positive attitude. Do you know what that means?"
Sarah: "No."
Noah: "It means you have to think you can win. Maybe I'll even let you win."
Sarah: "Oh yeah? Well maybe I'll let YOU lose!"

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Big Bad Burned Bummer

Dinner was supposed to be delicious tonight. Pork chops with cranberry apple stuffing in the crockpot and steamed sweet potatoes. The food in the crock pot smelled fantastic all day. We could even smell it outside. I put the sweet potatoes on the stove to steam, got busy with the kids downstairs, and forgot all about everything. About an hour and a half later, Noah said, “Mom, what is that snapping sound?” I didn’t really know or even care. He persisted: “You better check it out. I think it’s coming from the kitchen.” Even that didn’t ring a bell, but I knew he wouldn’t let it go until I investigated, so I went up to look.
Halfway up the stairs I could smell the nastiest burning smell I can ever remember. It was then that I finally remembered the potatoes, which had long ago steamed to a brown mush. The water had all evaporated, and the bottom of the pan was roasted beyond repair. I soaked it and tried to scrub it with various items, but the actual surface of the pan was bubbled up and peeling off and certainly unhealthy for food preparation. It was my favorite Pampered Chef pan. As Sarah watched me throw it away, she said sadly, “No more steamed beets for us.”
Meanwhile, the rest of the food had burned to a crisp onto the crockpot, and I didn’t notice the smell, because it all blended in to make one horrific scent that I could smell across the street at the mailbox. It made Noah gag and his eyes water. Right about that time, Mike came home. Earlier in the day, when I was slaving and chopping, I had imagined him coming in the door and saying, “What is that delicious smell?” but in real life, he came in scowling and said, “What did you burn?”
Even now, hours later, the entire house just reeks.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Sweet Rabid Squirrel

My son is normally a peaceable, wonderful, sweet, pleasant person, but when I come at him to give him a haircut, he turns into a rabid squirrel, squirming and whining and running away and hopping around. What is so difficult about having a haircut???? I'm hatching a plan to make him save his own money to pay for a professional haircut if he can't act like a human when I give him a haircut.

Get Up and Dance!

I was curled up on the couch with a heating pad this morning, full of pelvic pain, and Sarah wanted me to dance with her. She had on a fancy dress and sunglasses, and she was about to crank up the music. She looked at me and said, "Come on, Mom! Just get up and dance!" I forced myself to do it using mind over matter (in Sarah's mind, my pain doesn't matter). I danced with her and actually felt better. If I didn't have kids to get me going, I would succumb to the pain and never do anything. One more reason to be grateful for them.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Dipping Dinner

We had one of our favorite dinners tonight, at Sarah's request: the dipping dinner. We dip chicken nuggets into zesty onion ring sauce from Burger King (my favorite sauce for all kinds of things), various fruits into yogurt, carrots into ranch dressing, and foccacia bread into a mixture of olive oil and parmesan cheese. All I have to do is make the bread and set out all the food. We shove all the chairs together and huddle around so we can all reach everything. No plates, no silverware, just one messy table when it's all over.


Our green caterpillars have turned into brown chrysallises, and somehow white butterflies will emerge! Totally amazing.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Childlike Faith

Sarah got out a piece of red paper and started cutting it into tiny pieces. She said it was Jesus' blood. This kept her busy for a long time. She invited Noah and me to join her, which we did. She wanted me to get bags so she could bag up some blood to give to every person we see at the campground this weekend. Noah liked that idea and thought we should also put Scripture verses in each bag. I'm a Christian, but I'm not one to push Scripture on people, so I wouldn't have thought of that. Sometimes I look at my kids and think they are just evil, but at times like this when their hearts are so pure, I can see why Jesus said that we have to have faith like little children in order to get to heaven. Noah is supposed to be memorizing Genesis 28:15 this week, so that's the verse they put in each bag. When we were done, I vacuumed all the little bits of Jesus' blood off the kitchen floor.

Bugs, bugs, and more bugs!

I just counted the various jars and containers housing bugs in the garage and on the front porch: 16. Noah loves collecting bugs and caging them up for further study. He usually studies them to death, literally. That's why I call these "bug houses" death traps. Old applesauce jars, spice containers, sour cream tubs, etc. all full of interesting creatures, including some revolting arachnids.
One day I heard the sound of glass shattering in the garage and my first thought was not of my children's safety, but instead: "Please let that not have been the spider jar." Of course it was. Noah was yelling, "Killer and Swallow are getting away!" Two huge furry spiders were making a break for it through the shards of glass. Fortunately, they had been in the death trap for so long that they were pretty weak and slow, so it was not much of a challenge (physically at least) for me to stomp them.
One time we were at Walmart, and Noah said, "Can we get this mayonnaise?" I told him we didn't need any, and he said, "But this container would make a GREAT bug house!" In addition to 16 bug houses, we also have a worm bowl, fish tank, tadpole habitat, and butterfly garden.
This morning I harvested several bunches of broccoli to put in a pasta salad that I'm taking on our camping trip with friends this weekend (hooray!). The problem with organic gardening is, of course, the bugs. I washed the broccoli in the sink and flushed out several green caterpillars. Noah ran to get a death trap. He wanted to know what kind they were. I looked them up in our field guide and discovered that they would become cabbage butterflies if they survive the death trap. Noah remembered seeing cabbage butterflies swarming around the broccoli. Apparently they were laying eggs.
I cut up the broccoli and dumped it into boiling water with some pasta shells. Several caterpillars rose to the top of the water, stiff. I scooped them out, and I think I got them all. I hope the people we're camping with this weekend don't read this, although I guess we would survive if we ate a few caterpillars with our pasta salad. My mom would call it extra roughage.
While the broccoli and pasta were cooking, Sarah looked up at me with her big brown eyes and said sweetly, "Would it be possible for us to eat some of that before you turn it into pasta salad?" I gave her a bowl of it, and then Noah appeared and wanted his own bowl. After refilling their bowls a couple times, I realized that they had eaten more than half of it. Looks like I'll be making more pasta this afternoon.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Scary sounds

Taking a shower is always a scary proposition, because I never know what the kids are doing during that time. Today I was in mid-shampoo when I heard the following:

"Oh no! Get the paper towels!"
"No, that won't be enough...get the big beach towel!"
"Hurry up before Mom sees it!"
"Don't step in it!"

When I got out, I considered going to investigate, but I didn't want my good mood to be ruined, and I realized I didn't want to know. Maybe I'll ask them about it later, but for now, ignorance truly is bliss.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The anti-yesterday

It seems that if I have a really good day, it's usually followed by a really bad one, and vice versa. Today I woke up with major cramps and told the kids that we would be watching TV all day. They had pretzels and milk for breakfast. After a couple hours of TV, the guilt set in and I turned it off. Noah hauled out a box of school supplies and wanted to do some math, using Think It Through, which always ends badly for both of us. He can't comprehend it, and I can't comprehend why he can't comprehend it, and we both get frustrated. I should have just said no today, but how can a homeschooling mother say no when her child wants to do math??? I explain it again; he starts working on it, doesn't get it and wants to quit. I tell him I want him to finish it. WHY? When will I ever learn not to push the academics? I don't believe in it, and it never works, so why do I insist on it once every year or so? And why today, of all days? Meanwhile, Sarah wants to play a very simple math game, so I'm doing that with her while trying to help Noah. She can't even figure out how to move her piece the right number of spaces on the board. What is that Bible verse I'm supposed to be memorizing this week? Oh yes, 1 Peter 1:22. "Now that we have purified ourselves by obeying the truth..." I don't feel purified. I feel irritated. The washing machine starts making a horrible noise. I get Sarah started on a puzzle so I can investigate the washing machine. She wants help with the puzzle. I tell her I'll help her after I look at the washing machine. Noah, of course, follows me. " that you have sincere love for your brothers..." I open the washer and discover a giant wall of suds. Apparently I put in too much detergent. I start bailing out the suds. Noah asks me to play a game of Hot Hoops Basketball with him. The phone starts ringing. " one another deeply, from the heart." There, I did it. I force my voice to be calm when I tell Noah that no, I will not play with him because I'm in the middle of a problem and when I get that done I'll be helping Sarah with her puzzle. Aaarrrgggghh!!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What a lovely day!

The weather is perfect today, finally, after almost a week of clouds and rain, so we decided to treat ourselves to lunch at Christy's Tea Room. As if that isn't special enough, while we were sitting outside waiting for our food, some good friends drove by, spotted us, stopped and had lunch with us! When we got home, butterflies were swarming our flowers in the front yard, so the kids spent a long time chasing them and working together to capture them.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Date with Sarah

Sarah and I had our best date today. I took her to a production of Winnie the Pooh at Eureka College. It was well done, and she was totally into it. At one point during the play, Roo was hiding at Rabbit's house, and Kanga was looking for him, going around and asking audience members if they had seen him. We were sitting at the back, but that didn't stop Sarah from yelling out, "He's at Rabbit's house!" The whole audience burst out laughing. The cast members did face painting before the show, and Sarah told her painter exactly what she wanted: a rainbow with white clouds and blue raindrops. During intermission there was a great spread of free food, and Sarah almost burst with joy. At the end of the play, it was Pooh's birthday, and he celebrated by sharing his birthday cake with everyone. They actually came around and gave each person in the audience a cupcake. The date ended badly when I told Sarah that she had to save her cupcake until after dinner. She had already eaten way more sugary stuff during intermission than I would normally allow. She was very disappointed when she couldn't eat her cupcake. Aside from that, we had a great time together.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


I don't remember much about being six years old. I wonder if my son will remember playing in the rain with me this afternoon, jumping in puddles, and collecting (and counting!) 52 worms? Will he remember the steady rain running down his hair and into his eyes, throwing his head back and opening his mouth wide to catch the raindrops? I hope so. I know I always will.

Double date

Mike and Noah went to Lowes and Office Max, and they went out for lunch at Steak 'n Shake. Meanwhile, Sarah and I went to the Morton Pumpkin Festival Parade. She couldn't believe her good fortune as people kept throwing candy at her. Since I'm a rabid anti-candite, I only let her have one piece. She wisely chose a jawbreaker that lasted the entire parade. She stuffed it in her mouth and mumbled, "I just LOVE ya, Mom!" When we got home, it was strange and a little lonely without the men in the house. Fortunately, they arrived soon, and I put Noah to work cleaning the living room and vacuuming.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Range of Emotions

Sarah experienced the entire range of human emotions (except maybe for thankfulness) tonight at the Pumpkin Festival. When she woke up this morning, she was full of anticipation, and the first thing she said was, "Happy Pumpkin Festival Day!" Just before we left home, she reminded me not to forget the tickets. When I told her I had them, she said, "Are they squeezed tightly in your hand?" When we were walking toward the rides, she was skipping with joy and shouting about all the rides she wanted to ride. While she was on some of the rides, she looked scared to death. She got hurt when a boy had a fit and yanked away from his mom, cracking his head against Sarah's. She was full of wonder as she released her helium balloon and watched it disappear with all the others. She was mad that she didn't get her own ice cream cone but had to share with me. She was bitter that she didn't get to ride some of the rides she wanted and disappointed when we left. She staged a sit-in and refused to walk when it was time to go. Just before we put her to bed, she sighed and said, "I'm tired of crying." The weather was perfect, and it wasn't too crowded when we first arrived. Noah had a good time, without the emotional peaks and valleys of his sister. He said this year's Festival was his favorite. (If anyone is actually reading this, you can click on the pictures to make them bigger.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

An Up and Down Day

Today was definitely not as enjoyable as yesterday, but there were some highlights:
  • We had a picnic on the patio to celebrate the perfect weather.
  • The kids helped me make split pea soup and wheat rolls and play clay.
  • My new blender arrived, so we were back in business with smoothies and popsicles.
  • Mike's mom stopped by with delicious apples and peaches from Tanner's Orchard and ride tickets for the Pumpkin Festival.
  • We had a fun play time outside after dinner.
Sounds like a good day, but in reality, the kids fought most of the day, and I was irritated with them. Not much bothers me more than hearing people fight, especially when those people are my own children.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Day in Amish Country

We spent all afternoon studying the Amish today. Noah and Sarah have no desire to be Amish, because they think it sounds like too much work, and they were appalled at the thought of no TV, no computer, and no electricity. I've always secretly wished that I was Amish. We learned about their beliefs and way of living and read a great Patricia Polacco book (Just Plain Fancy). We hard boiled some eggs, and Sarah and I colored them, and Noah peeled them. He crushed up the shells, and I drew a peacock on a piece of cardboard (there was a peacock in the book). We spread glue all over its feathers and covered them with colored eggshell pieces. We also covered the kitchen floor with colored eggshell pieces. Sarah vacuumed. Then we made a traditional Amish shoofly pie. It was a great way to spend a rainy afternoon. I wanted to make split pea soup too, but the kids thought we had spent enough time in the kitchen.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Our Family Song

Mike made a CD for Noah of hard rock songs, because Noah likes the drums and electric guitars. Mike spent a long time selecting songs whose lyrics weren't offensive, which was no easy task. One of the songs is "Sweet Child of Mine" by Guns 'n Roses. Mike and I both like that song, and so do both kids, so Sarah has dubbed it our "family song". I took Sarah to the farmer's market this morning, and she wanted me to roll down the car windows and blast our family song on the way. So there we were, driving down the streets of our little town with Guns 'n Roses blaring!

Friday, September 5, 2008

The best day EVER!

I was supposed to make a quiche for dinner tonight, but the harp delivery and tuning session made that impossible, so we ended up going to the grand opening celebration of a new car dealership in town. They had free sandwiches, chips, vegetable tray, and bottled water, plus free inflatable bouncy things for the kids. The food was good, and the kids had a ton of fun. They were squealing and laughing and so full of joy, and the weather was absolutely perfect. Sarah came running over, smiling and sweating, to grab some food before she ran off to play again. With her mouth stuffed completely full of bread, she yelled as she took off, "This is the best day EVER!"

Simple beginnings

My harp arrived today, and I called my teacher to arrange a time for her to tune it. She said if I came immediately, she could do it right then, because she was leaving soon. I realized that my two worlds were about to collide, because I didn't have time to go into the phone booth and put on my Fancy Sophisticated Musician persona. So my teacher got to meet Frumpy Housewife Mommy, complete with baggy sweats, pony tail, and kids in tow. She gave me some music to start practicing. I guess I had imagined myself producing beautiful flowing chords effortlessly; I didn't consider the reality of summoning up all my concentration to clumsily pluck out a simple tune like "Twinkle Twinkle". Nonetheless, the harp is beautiful, and I love it!


Here's what I made for breakfast this morning.

Hot Quinoa Breakfast Cereal
1 cup
2 cups water
1/2 cup apples, thinly sliced
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Milk or cream Honey or brown sugar
In a medium-sized bowl, soak the quinoa in cold water for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water. In a medium saucepan, combine the soaked quinoa and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Add apples, raisins and cinnamon Simmer until water is absorbed Serve with milk or cream and sweeten to taste with honey or brown sugar.

Sarah, who loves to eat but is not very adventurous with new foods, declared that she didn't like it, even before she tried it. She just wanted "plain old oatmeal". Noah and I ate it, and she soon joined in and ate more than we did. Noah pronounced it "Ok, but not my favorite" and I thought it tasted rather plain and vaguely soapy. It was interesting to cook, because when it's cooked little curved tails come out of it. Quinoa is supposed to be the most easily digested protein and perfect for babies. Wish I had known that when I had babies.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Progressive dinner

Tonight I had three little dabs of leftovers that I wanted to use up, and four hungry people to feed. So I dumped each dab onto its own plate, heated it up, stuck a fork in it, and set it on the table. Each person took a bite of whatever was in front of him and then passed it to the right. The plates were flying, and the kids were having so much fun that they didn't even realize that they ate all the leftovers that they claimed they didn't want.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Bathroom cleaning

Currently, you could dine on any surface in my bathroom, if you so desired. I scrubbed the shower walls, bath tub, sink, counter, light bulbs, clock, towel racks, floor, toilet, and walls today. I also washed the towels, window curtain, closet curtain, and shower curtain. This kind of major cleaning only takes places about once a year, but it is a joy to go into the bathroom right now. Everything smells fresh and looks clean, at least until the kids get in there to do their bedtime routine.

In other news, my blender had a meltdown today while I was making smoothies. I had it loaded with fruits and vegetables, yogurt, orange juice, and milk. I turned it on and went to stir my stir fry on the stove. Soon I heard mechanical choking noises and smelled that horrible smell of something electrical burning. Smoke was pouring out of the blender. I turned it off and found little bits of rubber in my otherwise delicious-looking smoothie. The rubber ring at the bottom of the blender had completely disintegrated and spewed its debris all over the smoothie. It was a sad thing for me to have to dump it all, and now I have to order a $60 replacement part.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My other persona....aspiring harpist

Mike has been telling me for years that I need to blog. He's always far more ahead of the times than I am. After reading my friend Angela's blog, I'm inspired to start.

Tonight I went to my harp teacher's house to observe a lesson and see her instruments. I have ordered a harp online, and it should arrive on Friday, so next week's lesson will be my own! I've wanted to play harp for several years, but encountered many obstacles. I just found this teacher who only lives 3 miles away, and she helped me find a good beginner's harp. I wanted to make a good first impression on her, so I changed out of my mommy uniform (shorts, faded baggy Tshirt, pony tail) and into a long denim skirt, white shirt, and hair clip. When I arrived at her house, it was like entering another world. It was lovely, quiet, peaceful. I felt like a super hero coming out of a phone booth. I was no longer Frumpy Housewife Mommy....I had morphed into Fancy Sophisticated Musician. I know I'm going to love this 30-minute transformation every week.