Monday, December 21, 2009

One gigantic flag

Noah asked me what the words of the Star Spangled Banner were all about, and I was glad that I had a book about it handy, just waiting for someone to ask. So I read it to the kids and learned that the flag that inspired it measured 42'x30'. I couldn't get a clear idea what a flag that size would look like, and I figured the kids couldn't either, so we made a model of it in the back yard. Well, not really a model, but we just laid out pink ribbon measuring 42x30. Really good homeschoolers would probably make the actual stars on the blue background and put in the appropriately spaced and colored stripes, but we had a hard enough time with the pink rectangle. I think I was more amazed than the kids at how huge that flag was. It took up our whole back yard! So then we did some research on who made the flag and how it was made. That turned out to be very interesting too. It was made by a 37-year-old widow and her teenaged daughter, nieces, and indentured servant. It took them seven weeks.

Choosing joy in the bathroom

Yesterday our pastor talked about how being joyful is a choice that we have to make. We have to choose joy over all the other emotions fighting for top priority. I'm not a jolly person by nature (I'm more of a practical pessimist), so I have to make a conscious effort to choose joy repeatedly, all day long.

Last night while Mike was taking out the garbage, he noticed a lot of grossness in the bottom of the garbage can. Normally I would take it outside and hose it out, but since it's too cold for that, I put it in the tub and bleached it. I had to remind myself to choose joy.

This morning, the toilet was clogged. People continued to deposit all kinds of bodily waste in it, and it was all swirling around near the rim. I got the plunger and started plunging. Apparently there's some skill involved in plunging, and I lack it. I ended up shoving the plunger too deep into the hole, and the rubber part got stuck in there. I had to yank it as hard as I could to get it out, and it popped out with such force that it splattered the contents of the toilet all over me.

I'm ashamed to admit that in circumstances like this one, the first thing that comes to my mind (and/or out of my mouth) is not G-rated. Thankfully, this time, the only thing that instinctively came out of my mouth was, "Oh, shoot!" I took that as evidence that my character growth is progressing (oh-so-slowly) in the right direction, so even though I was dripping in filth, I chose joy.

My next move, obviously, was to get in the shower. As I was showering, I noticed that the water was not draining out of the tub, so I was ankle-deep in the filth that I had washed off myself. (Normally a writer's goal is to cause the reader to imagine what she's writing about, but in this case, if you're actually reading this, I wouldn't encourage you to develop a mental picture of what happens next, because it involves me, naked, crouched in a pool of yuck, pulling yuck out of the drain.) I turned off the water and unscrewed the drain plug. I started pulling out clumps of hair until I ended up with a ball of hair the size of a small rodent. Since the water then started draining, I chose joy.

I was still hunched over the little hair-rodent when the shower head fell out of the wall and landed on me. It was very, VERY hard to choose joy at that moment....but I did.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Pie school

We read a story this morning in which the main character made a lemon meringue pie. When I finished reading, Sarah said, "Mom, can we make a lemon meringue pie?" My first thought was of all the reasons I wanted to say no:

1) I don't like lemon desserts
2) I don't like meringue
3) I don't have any lemons
4) I don't have a grater to zest the lemons that I don't have
5) I've never made lemon meringue pie before
6) It will take the rest of the day
7) Cooking with the kids is messy and tries my patience

I knew that they were mostly selfish reasons. I was lazy and didn't want to be inconvenienced. I looked into the eyes that were looking up at me and waiting for an answer. I realized that, whatever my response was, the kids were going to learn something. They would either learn that it's all right to be selfish and lazy and not try new things, or they could learn to be flexible, to bring books to life, to measure ingredients, separate eggs, follow instructions, work together, take turns, and be adventurous.

So after a Walmart trip to buy lemons and a grater, we started by making the crust. The kids enjoyed zesting and juicing the lemons. Things were going well until it came time to separate the eggs. Neither child could successfully do it, after many tries (we're having omelettes for dinner). I patiently instructed and demonstrated; they continually blew it. Then I got frustrated and my patience ran thin. So, in addition to learning all those other things, we also learned humility and forgiveness in pie school.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

To flush or not to flush

Here's an illustration of one of the many reasons I can't stand cell phones.

I was at Kroger tonight and, for reasons I won't go into, suddenly had to go to the bathroom. A woman came in after me, having a loud personal conversation on her cell phone. She went into the stall right next to me and kept right on talking while she was using the facilities. I wondered if she was going to flush right in the person's ear.

By this time, I was ready to leave and realized I had the same flushing dilemma. She wasn't flushing, so I thought I shouldn't either. We were right next to each other, and those flushers are really loud. She was still chattering away, and I was staring at the back of my door, trying not to listen. I still had more shopping to do and had to make it to the library before it closed, so I didn't want to be stuck in this stall much longer. I considered leaving without flushing, but then wondered if that might be ruder than flushing in the middle of someone's conversation.

I waited at least a full five minutes. Finally I flushed and got on with my life.

Sugar overload

I was listening to Christmas music on the radio and making oatmeal this morning. I got out a pan and put in some apple chunks, raisins, wheat germ, and of course, oats. Then a great song by the Trans Siberian Orchestra came on, so I cranked it up while getting out the brown sugar. I held the bag over the pan and intended to sprinkle in about a tablespoon of sugar, but the music was coming to an exciting crescendo, and I admit I was bopping along like a dork. Unfortunately, there was also a big clump of brown sugar in the bag, and I'm sure you can figure out where this is going.

An obscene amount of sugar tumbled into the pan. I watched helplessly as it sank into the oatmeal before I could snatch it back. I stared at it for awhile and then decided I was just going to have to serve it, because I didn't want to waste all those good ingredients. I served up three steaming bowls of sugarmeal and called the unsuspecting kids.

Noah, expecting my usual health-ridden oatmeal, grumbled about not being hungry. Sarah was too busy shoveling it in her mouth to say anything. Noah took one bite, his face lit up, and I didn't hear from him again until his bowl was scraped clean. Then he said, "Mom! That was the best oatmeal I've ever had! Bobby Flay couldn't even make oatmeal that good!"

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Noah woke me up with the announcement that he was blind. I was in the middle of a weird dream, so the sudden awakening and strange announcement left me totally confused. I opened my eyes to discover that I, too, was blind. Slowly, it dawned on me that the power must be out.

I pulled back the covers to let Noah in, so we could keep each other warm. I told him about my weird dream, and we had a nice chat. Then he said, "Mom, you're my hero, because you're nice, and you comfort me." Then he prayed, "Dear God, thank you for being our light, but could you please turn the other ones back on?"

Friday, December 11, 2009

Half a Mom

The kids were pulling me in opposite directions, as they've been doing for the last five years, each wanting my full attention. This is definitely the hardest part of having two kids. Each wants all of me, all the time. In exasperation, I suggested I cut myself in half and they could each take a half. Then the little vultures started arguing over who would get which half. *SIGH*

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


We were reading about Daniel in the Bible, and I was reviewing the story of when Daniel was thrown into the fiery furnace. I told the kids that not only was Daniel not burned, but also that he didn't even smell like smoke when he came out of the fire. Sarah said, "I remember when Daniel got thrown into the pit with those hungry lions. They didn't eat him, and when he got out, he didn't even smell like lion breath!"


Winter has officially arrived at our house. Yesterday I saw Mike moving the fishing poles out of their corner in the garage and into the shed. Now the sleds occupy that corner. When the kids woke up to half an inch of snow, they put on all their snow gear and went out to play in it as if it had snowed several inches. They made snow angels, had a snowball fight, made a pathetic little snowman, and even attempted sledding with the grass poking up through the snow. They had been eagerly anticipating the first snow of the season, so they thoroughly enjoyed it. They have no concept of snow being an inconvenience or a danger; to them it's pure bliss. I love having kids, not only because of their unique perspective, but also because they give me an excuse to make snow angels on the driveway.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Another kitchen mishap

I had salmon marinating in the refrigerator for dinner. After it had been in there a few hours, I was walking by the fridge and noticed a fishy smell. Then I saw disgusting liquid dripping down the refrigerator door and pooling on the floor. I felt like I was in a bad horror movie. I really wanted to walk away and pretend I never saw it, but I knew it would only get worse.

Full of dread, I slowly opened the refrigerator door. I still have no idea how it happened, but the glass pan full of fish and marinade had leaped off the high shelf and flipped itself upside down, spewing it contents all over the refrigerator and the door. Since the freezer is below the fridge, I opened it to check the damage and discovered fishy goo inside it as well. I wondered, irrationally, if the headless frozen fish had somehow still been alive when I dunked it in marinade and had flopped itself out of the pan.

I resigned myself to the fact that I would be cleaning the fridge, freezer, and floor for much of the foreseeable future. I had to take out the drawers and shelves and everything. The rag got so nasty that I just threw it away. After I dried everything off and reassembled the refrigerator's innards, I was thinking to myself, "Just like most things I do, no one will ever notice this."

Just as I closed the door, Sarah came into the kitchen, on the prowl for a snack. She opened the refrigerator and exclaimed, "Oh, Mommy! It looks very, very good in here!"