Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve

Our friends came over tonight to party with us.  We rang in the new year at about 7:30 p.m.  We claim to celebrate early for the sake of the children, but the truth is, we old fogies can't stay awake till midnight anymore.  So as our "midnight" approached, we poured little glasses of bubbly (sparkling juice) and set the kitchen timer for one minute.  We all gathered around and watched the seconds go by, and I said "Get ready...the ball is about to drop..." and our friends' daughter said excitedly to the other kids, "The ball's about the drop!  The ball's about to drop!...What's the ball?"  Then we all counted down the last ten seconds together, yelled "Happy New Year!" and toasted each other.  Definitely my kind of New Year's Eve party. 

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Things I've learned from The Great Move of 2010

  1. We have way too much stuff.
  2. We are too dependent on our stuff.
  3. Moving right before Christmas is not a good idea.
  4. I am so thankful for my family and friends.
  5. My character needs a whole lot more development.  I crumble under pressure and become someone I don’t like.
  6. I am very thankful for the forgiveness I have through Jesus.
  7. My mom is WAY better at lining shelves than I am.
  8. My husband and son are strong work horses.
  9. There’s no such thing as a perfect house.
  10. I absolutely HATE moving.
  11. Talking to myself out loud helps.
  12. I love our new house.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas letter

I found an envelope addressed in Noah's handwriting to Jesus. In the stamp corner, he had written "No stamp needed". In the return address area, he wrote "from you know who". I debated whether I should open it or not, but curiosity beat out integrity. I had to know what my son wanted to say to Jesus. Inside was a a homemade birthday card. It said "Happy birthday" on the front, and he had drawn Jesus' name in fancy letters on the inside, and a picture of three crosses. Despite all his materialism, he truly understands the meaning of the holiday.

The social butterfly has landed.

On the very day we moved into our new house, Sarah had this conversation with Mike:
S: Dad, can I see if the neighbor kids want to play?
M: We don't even know them.
S: How are we going to get to know them if we don't play with them?
M: Well, let's at least settle into our new home first.
S: I'm already settled!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

This is how my day went.

Sarah woke up in a disagreeable mood, and it went downhill from there.  She was defiant, disrespectful, lazy, obnoxious, and mean most of the day.  There were three very short moments when she was pleasant and helpful, and I remember them clearly because they were so rare, and I clung to them to get me through the day.  I didn't even attempt to teach her anything new today, just reviewed things she supposedly already knows.  She made very little effort.  During her piano lesson, she "forgot" how to count half notes.  I spent a lot of time teaching, training, correcting her attitude and behavior. Therefore, I packed only two boxes today.  The only other thing I accomplished was pulling a hairball out of the tub drain.

Meanwhile, I managed to get dinner in the oven, but then noticed that the oven was not preheated. The heating element wasn't even glowing.  This is the same oven that I just sold last week and is to be picked up on Friday.  I've never had any problem with it for the last seven years, and now it dies.  I crawled under it to see if it was plugged in (it was) and found old dried food, dust bunnies, Nerf darts, and hair clips.  I turned it off and turned it back on (my husband's favorite solution to any problem).  Nothing.  I hauled my raw turkey and vegetables outside and plowed through the snowdrifts to the grill. 

While I'm dealing with the raw food issue, I had asked Noah to clean out the van so it would be ready to haul a load to the new house.  Actually, I had asked both kids, but Noah was the one doing it.  While I was standing outside freezing in my pajamas, trying to light the grill, Noah is calling me with his voice filled with frustration, needing help with the seats in the van.  Then Sarah has the gall to yell out that she's hungry and starts demanding food.  My temples are starting to pound like my head might explode.  I try to focus on my gratitude that we are all healthy and alive.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hunkering down

Thanks to the blizzard, we stayed home all day.  We did lots of packing.  This is what our living room looks like now:

The kids made a tower out of their math manipulatives (which have so far never been used for math) and had a war:

We practiced eating off the floor.  On Saturday, we're moving all our earthly possessions to the new house, but we can't actually have possession until four days after that.  So during those four days, I guess we're going to pretend we're pioneers (with heat, water, and electricity, of course).  We'll be sleeping and eating on the floor, since we won't have any furniture.  I don't know what we'll be eating anyway, because the stove, microwave, and fridge will be gone.  We crowded around this leftover chicken noodle soup.  Does that count as eating a family dinner?

Jason was annoyed by the wall of snow that prevented him from going outside:

Germy cat food

The kids did a science experiment a couple weeks ago that involved growing germs in petri dishes.  They got samples from the toilet seat, phone, Sarah's mouth, and Daddy's toes.  We've been watching the disgusting stuff grow.  The toilet seat has been by far the worst, followed by the phone.

Today we've been doing some power-packing, since we have only six days till the big move.  Mike brought the gross petri dishes up and thought the kitchen table would be a good place to put them.  I moved them to the window sill.  Later I caught Marty (the cat, not my father-in-law) with her face buried in the petri dish full of phone germs, having herself a nasty feast. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

She loves me, she loves me not...

Yesterday, Sarah was mad at me (again).  She was supposed to be writing her spelling words, but when I checked her notebook later, I saw that she had written, "I don't like my mom at all."   I was actually pleased that she had spelled everything right.

Today, she wrote me this note:  "I lik you mom we our fends."  I wonder why she can't spell when she likes me?

Scholastic bowl

Noah got an Ironman arc reactor from a Christmas party, and we've been using it as a scholastic bowl buzzer.  I ask questions, and whoever hits the buzzer first gets a chance to answer.  One of my questions this morning was, "Can you turn the letters of the word "may" into something that means "sweet potato"?"  Both kids gave me a blank stare.  Then Sarah asked for a pen and paper.  She wrote for a long time, occasionally looking up to think and then crossing something out and writing again.  Finally, after a long time, she hit the buzzer and yelled, "Amy!"

I managed not to roll my eyes, but calmly told her that Amy is not another word for sweet potato.  I looked at Noah, who had been doing mental calculations the whole time.  Nothing.  I hinted, "It starts with a Y."  Suddenly, he hit the buzzer and yelled, "Yak!"

They really are very smart, but sometimes I wonder...

Deck hand

We were playing a family game of Uno last night, and Mike had just drawn about 20 cards in search of a blue.  Noah asked him if he had a good deck, and Mike seized the opportunity to educate him about the difference between a "deck" and a "hand".  Noah listened patiently and then said, "Yeah, Dad, but your HAND is bigger than the DECK!"

Seaweed patriot

Noah has always liked to eat those thin sheets of seaweed.  Even when he was a baby and had no teeth, he would suck on seaweed. He was munching on a piece of it this morning and offered Sarah some.  She wrinkled her nose and said, "No, thanks!"  Noah replied, "Oh Sarah, you're not a very patriotic Asian."

Saturday, December 4, 2010


Today I started packing in the bathroom.  I discovered seven (!) opened bottles of lotion.  Why can no one in this family (including me) finish one bottle before opening a new one?  I wasted a lot of time consolidating it all into three bottles.  Then I wasted a little more by taking a picture of it and blogging about it.

Sarah's Christmas gift

Sarah put two dimes under the Christmas tree from her allowance "to help pay for the new house."  She can be very sweet sometimes. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Freak show

For reasons that are still unclear to me, Sarah dressed up as a penguin and Noah as a jester this afternoon.  Naturally, I was wearing pajamas.  It was raining hard, and I heard a strange noise outside my window that sounded like the gutter wasn't working right.  I didn't want to go out and check on it in the cold rain, so I opened the window just enough to stick my head out.  Then Noah wanted to see what was going on, so he stuck his big jester head out too.  Not wanting to miss anything exciting, the penguin stuck her big beak out too.  When I tried to pull myself back in, I discovered that I was completely stuck.  The kids were wedged in too, and nobody could move.  So there we were:  a jester, a penguin, and a grown woman in pajamas in the middle of the afternoon, sticking out of a house.  Of course I couldn't get a picture of it, but I did get a picture of them before the incident.

God's widescreen TV

The kids and I were praying for a friend who was injured in a cheer accident, and Noah said, "Maybe God was trying to get her attention and make her stop spending so much time on cheer."  That led into a discussion of God's plans and purposes. As any discussion of God always does, it ended up in the topic of our 9-year-old cousin Isaac, who died  this summer. Noah asked me for hundredth time why God let Isaac die, and I said for the hundredth time that I don't understand it myself.  I said we have no idea what God is doing, because we can't see the big picture.  Noah said, "Is it like watching a widescreen movie on our regular small TV where parts of it are cut off?"

Really? Again?!

The two recurring themes of my life recently seem to be stress and embarrassment.  This morning, I knew the house inspector was coming with the buyers, and I was not going to get caught in an embarrassing situation.  Their scheduled time was 9:00, and I had spent the entire morning getting ready for it.  At 8:30, all I had left to do was clean the litter box and take a shower.  Since I like to do the litter box at the last minute, I decided to shower first.  Noah was playing happily with his soldiers at the kitchen table, and Sarah had a fleet of matchbox cars on the floor, so I made a mental note to have them clean all that up while I was cleaning the litter box.  All under control.  No stress.

Five minutes later, I'm in the steamy shower with Christmas music blasting, and I'm pretty sure I hear Sarah say, "Yes, Mommy's here.  She's in the bathroom.  Come on in!"  Then the phone starts ringing.  Ten seconds later, Sarah enters the bathroom (where I'm furiously drying off), hands me the phone, and says, "Someone wants to talk to my mommy."  I seriously almost blew a gasket. 

So here's the situation:  the inspector and buyers are 25 minutes early, I'm naked and wet, a lady from church is on the phone, there are tiny metal vehicles all over the living room floor, the Korean War is being reenacted on the kitchen table, and there is fresh poop in the litter box.  I grabbed the kids and hissed at them to clean everything up FAST! NOW!, tugged clothes over my wet body, shoved everything and everybody into the van, waved and smiled pleasantly on my way out, and took us out to Cracker Barrel for breakfast.  I sat in front of the peaceful fire at Cracker Barrel and let my dripping hair dry while waiting for the food to come. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Doped up cats

As you may remember, we've been drying a big tray of catnip in the garage.  Last night I was hauling stuff in and out, and the cats slipped out to the garage.  I didn't think about the catnip.  Later I was downstairs and heard a big crash in the garage.  I went out to see what was going on, and there was Marty, completely high on catnip, rolling around in it, kicking it all around, snorting it, eyes big and wild.  She had knocked over the whole tray, so there's now catnip in every nook and cranny of the shoe shelf, under the car, and wherever else it flew.  Jason soon joined the party, and they went totally nuts.

I've sunk to a new level of embarrassment...

...and this time it does not involve pajamas.  Even worse.  I forgot that the appraiser was coming today until I heard the doorbell while I was in the shower.  I sent Sarah to the door.  She returned and said there was a lady at the door.  I told her to let her in and tell her that I was in the shower.  Five minutes later, I came out to investigate with a towel on my head and another towel around me.  There was the poor appraiser, still standing on the porch.  Not only did I keep her waiting in the cold and then appear in a towel, but I also didn't have the house cleaned up.  She started taking pictures. There were toys in the living room, unmade beds, dirty dishes in the sink, clothes scattered around, muddy pawprints in the bathroom sink, etc.  On her way out, I made her take a flyer that had the good pictures in it.  She thinks I'm a wacko.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I told the kids that they don't have to do spelling today since it's a holiday.  They jumped around and squealed, and Sarah exclaimed, "Oh my goodness!  I can't believe my good fortune!"

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Another embarrassing pajama moment

We had a termite inspection scheduled for 9:30 this morning, so we got the house cleaned up, and I reluctantly got dressed at 9:15.  I hate wearing clothes.  No matter how many layers I piled on, I was still cold.  I'm always warm and cozy in my jammies with feet.  I was getting colder and more annoyed as the minutes went by, and finally at 11:20, I gave up on Termite Man and settled happily back into my jammies.  You know where this is going.

Five minutes later, the doorbell rings.  Termite Man.  And wouldn't you know it...he's young and good-looking.  I stereotypically expected an old, fat guy with dirty overalls, a flannel shirt, three black teeth, and bugs in his hair.  There standing before me, eyeing my fuzzy pajamas, was the exact opposite. 

The good news is, we have no termites.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Say what you mean!

I was in between subjects with the kids this morning, and we all needed a break, so I told them I was going to take a quick shower.  As I walked by the phone, it started ringing, and I instinctively answered it.  Mistake.  I don't have time for long phone conversations during the day, which is why I usually try to avoid the phone.

This time it was a dear lady who has no children and is not known for her short-windedness.  However, she began the conversation with, "I won't keep you long; I just have a quick question", so I was hopeful.  She asked the question; it was quick; I gave her a quick answer; and she said, "I'll let you go" and proceeded to talk.  Since she seemed to be wrapping up, I started undressing and getting ready for my shower.  She said, "Well, I'll let you go now" and kept talking.  Ten minutes later, I'm standing in the shower, naked and cold, with my hand on the faucet ready to turn on the water the instant I can get off the phone.  By the end of the call, she had said, "I'll let you go now" seven times.  After the seventh one, I burst in with, "Ok, thanks. Bye" before she could launch off again.  She probably thinks I'm rude.  I probably am.  I've learned that when this particular person says, "I'll let you go now", it actually means, "I'm lonely and bored and trying to think of something else to say so I don't have to hang up, and I'm going to keep talking for at least another 20 minutes."

Another person does the same thing with email.  She often types a rather short email and ends with, "More later".  So I don't respond, because I'm waiting for the rest. I've finally realized that "More later" is just her standard closing.  It doesn't mean she is actually going to type more later.  So when I see "More later" from this particular person, I know it means "I'm done typing now. I don't have a thing else to say.  Don't sit around waiting for the end of this email, because this IS the end."

Then there's my son, who is so literal that he always says exactly what he means, and he expects other people to mean exactly what they say.  Idioms and expressions are difficult for him.  If you tell him that you're killing two birds with one stone, then he's going to look around for two dead birds with a big rock next to them.

Action verbs

Noah's leg injury from over a month ago is still not healing well, mostly because he can't be still. He runs, jumps, rides his scooter, climbs on things, etc. 

Today I was nagging him to stay off his leg, because it's bleeding and oozing and looking gross.  He was asking me specifics about what he can and can't do.  I told him he can walk around like a normal person, but no jumping off things, no scootering, no trampolining, so baseball sliding, etc.  He considered his options and then asked, "Can I scamper?"

I turned on the TV in an effort to keep him down, but even when he's watching TV, is he sitting on the couch?  No way.  Here he is:

Home education

This buying/selling real estate project we're into has been very educational for the kids.  Noah can read an MLS sheet as well as I can, and they both know more real estate terminology than any child should. 

This morning, Noah asked me for "3 to 6 clementines" to share with Sarah.  We only have 4 left, so I put 3 at the top of the stairs and yelled down to them that their order was ready.  Noah came up to retrieve it and yelled down to Sarah, "She accepted our lowest offer!  There's only 3!"  Sarah yelled back, "Make a counteroffer!"

Saturday, November 13, 2010


Well, we've given up on the realtor houses and are now scouring the For Sale By Owner ads.  I found a great one that is a little out of our price range, but sent a message to the owners anyway in case they would consider a lower offer.  When the owner called back, I realized it's my very own cousin!  I was a little embarrassed that this is the girl I held when she was a baby, and now I can't even afford the house that she's upgrading out of!

Not having much luck ourselves, we turned the search over to Noah.  He was poring over, taking notes and leaning in so close to the screen that his pants were falling down.  So far he's located a half million dollar mansion in Missouri and a bungalow in New York. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Smoking, etc.

School took a weird, rather psychedlic twist today.  We did our normal things early and then had some wrestling

and went outside to enjoy the last perfect day of fall.  Had a picnic on the trampoline, and Sarah came in to get dessert. [A little aside here: when we were in Wisconsin, we visited an old fashioned candy shop that had all the old retro candy, and Noah bought some candy cigarettes.]  She returned and yelled (as loudly as only Sarah can) across the yard, "Hey, Noah!  Can I have one of your cigarettes?"  Noah yelled back, "Yes, but don't forget to smoke it; don't just chew it!"  I glanced around to see if any neighbors were out.  Didn't see any.

[A big aside here:  Several weeks ago, the principal emailed me some information to share with my students on the harmful effects of smoking cigarettes.  I've had it in my inbox ever since, trying to figure out how to work that naturally into the school day.]  While they were smoking their candy cigarettes, I seized the opportunity to regale them with tales of black lung, wrinkles, cancer, and emphysema.
It seemed like a natural segue to move on to drying weed.  We've been growing catnip all summer, and today was the perfect day to harvest the crop and start drying it.  Jason was very much into this project.  He got totally intoxicated.

Bald girl

My daughter decided to use a hairbrush as a curling iron and got it completely entangled in her hair.  It took me a long time to pry it out, and of course she was not happy about it.  I had to place my thoughts elsewhere.  I had a fantasy about shearing all her hair off and making her bald.  That would save me so much time and effort.  But in the end, I decided her hair is too remarkably beautiful to shave bald. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Crazy Thursday

So after disposing of the mouse, we went to CBS, and a realtor showed our house. We went out for lunch and then met our realtor, who showed us six houses.  On the way home, Sarah had a massive tantrum.  After she stopped speaking to me, she passed me a note that said, "Mom is horable."  I sent her a note back that said, "I love Sarah."  Her next note said, "Mom is even horabler."  When we got home, it continued (and even escalated).  That child can sure throw a spectacular fit!

With the screaming beast sequestered in her room, I played the answering machine message, which was a realtor wanting to show our house in two hours.  Sarah finally got a grip on herself, and we went to Kroger to eat food samples for dinner, because I didn't have time to get any food together before we had to abandon the house.  The food samples didn't cut it, so we went through the drive thru at Taco Bell.  Feeling like a bad mom.  Laundry is also piling up on me, but I haven't had time to get it done, so I just stash it during showings. 

When we got home, there was a message from another realtor.  Another showing on Saturday.  I sure hope someone buys it soon!

If mice freak you out, don't read this...

As I was scurrying around early this morning, getting ready for a showing of our house, Jason brought a mouse into the garage and was playing with it.

The poor thing tried playing possum, but that didn't work.

Noah's tender heart was moved with compassion for the mouse, so he scooped it up and put it on Sarah's scooter.

He thought it would be more fair if he gave it the advantage of wheels.  Jason chased Noah and mouse around the garage.

Noah cried and begged to keep it for a pet.  I said no way.  People are coming to see the house in less than an hour, and I have two kids and two cats, and I cannot deal with a mouse pet.  

Sarah cuddled the mouse too.  I can just hear my mom saying, "Don't let them touch that dirty rodent.  It probably has diseases!" 

Here's Sarah pretending to be the mouse:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

We ain't no slaves!

On the very day that I blogged about my house being hit by a filth tornado, I got a call that a realtor wants to show our house Thursday morning.  We had been outside all afternoon enjoying this beautiful weather, but then I started feeling a tiny inkling of stress.  Not too bad, since we had all day tomorrow to get ready for the showing.  I started cleaning up in a fairly relaxed way.  Then the phone rang.  Another realtor wants to show the house...tomorrow.  Now I'm in full-blown stress mode.  I start marching around like a drill sergeant, barking orders to the troops.  They worked fairly quietly for awhile (too quietly, as it turns out), but then they came marching out, holding up protest signs and chanting, "We ain't no slaves!"  Secretly, I was a little proud that they had spelled and punctuated everything correctly and their writing was legible. Still, I think maybe we should stop reading those slave books.  :)
Here are some pictures of our fun, lazy afternoon, and then the protest march.
They're sled dogs taking their stuffed animals for a ride.

One of the sled dogs gave up and got in the sled.

Jason had a good time chasing birds and leaves.  Here he is chewing a leaf off the branch.  Then he chased it to the ground and carried it around in his mouth.

Early dismissal

The first grader showed up for class, and everything went pretty smoothly.  When the third grader showed up, I realized I wasn't prepared for his lesson.  I usually look it over the night before and make sure I know what I'm talking about and have all the materials we'll need.  I didn't do that last night and was just going to try to wing it today, but I could tell that wasn't going to work.  So we just did a review of things he's already learned, and then I let him out early.  It's so beautiful outside today that we had a picnic lunch in the back yard. Noah kicked off his shoes, immediately stepped on something sharp, and said, "Ow!"  I said, like a true mom, "That's why you need to wear shoes."  He said, "Yeah, but I feel so wild without them!"

Filth tornado

Yesterday I cooked in a hurry, which always means a big mess, and then left the house in a rush.  We got home just in time to put the kids to bed, so I couldn't clean the kitchen.  This morning, Sarah made breakfast for her daddy all by herself.  Big mess piled on top of previous mess. When I came into the kitchen today, it looked like an F4 tornado of filth had hit it.  I looked around and thought how disgusted my mother would be.  This is not the way she raised me. She's the opposite of the disorganized pig I turned out to be. 


The children have been investigating various things under their microscope.  Here they are scraping out cheek cells.
Sarah ripped out some hair to study:

Marty was interested at first, but then she dozed off on the microscope bag:

Monday, November 8, 2010

Growing up

My kids are happily playing in the tub this morning.  They used to do that all the time, and now it's been months since they've been in there together. Sarah is a scientist who concocts various medications for a sick seal.  Noah is the veterinarian who administers it.  I'm savoring this sweet, innocent moment, because I know this may be one of the last times they play together in the tub.  They'll soon be too big.

Wacky Monday

There's really nothing like starting off a Monday morning with the police at your front door.  It wasn't even 8:00 a.m. when the doorbell rang.  We were huddled in bed reading a book.  Since I was wearing my pajamas with feet, I sent a child to the door while I listened from the hallway.

Big booming voice: "Is your Mommy or Daddy home?"
No answer.  Running feet.  "Mom, it's the police!"  What? Police! No time to put clothes on.  I open the door, and sure enough, a big cop gives me a quick head-to-toe glance.  Sometimes I really wish I was one of those people that took a shower every morning and got dressed in normal clothes.  This is one of those times. 

Before my mind can even finish imagining one of my loved ones dead, he gets right to the point.  Our elderly neighbor was found wandering the streets with his walker, and the police just wondered if I had any contact information.

Whew. Think I'll get dressed now.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My favorite time of year

 Two handsome guys mowing in the sunset

Sweet potato pudding, inspired by a book about a slave girl in the 1800s whose mama made sweet potato pudding for Christmas. We might start making it every fall!

Playing in the leaves, chilly nights, getting dark at 5:00 p.m., baking, apple orchards, pumpkins, harvest moons, I could go on and on....What are your favorite things about fall?