Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Silent treatment

2:25 p.m. Sarah asks me for jelly beans. I say no more sugar until after dinner.
2:31 p.m. Now she wants sweet tarts.  Same answer.
2:40 p.m.  Cookie?  No.
3:00 p.m.  Sarah wants to know if she can have dinner now.  I think it's an unreasonable time to have dinner, but I say yes anyway.  I heat up chicken and noodles and mashed potatoes.  She says she doesn't like chicken and noodles.  She eats one bite of mashed potatoes and asks for a sucker.  I lock all the desserts up and tell her she's not getting any.
3:15 p.m.  Sarah stomps by me and drops a picture by my feet.  It was a picture she had drawn of the whole family, even the extended family, without me.  I exclaim over its loveliness and tack it up on the bulletin board.
3:25 p.m.  Sarah glares and throws this note at me:
I write back, "Yes, I know that.  Do you want to go to Kroger with me?"
She writes, "Ok, but it won't make me happy."
I write, "Sugar won't make you happy either.  You have to CHOOSE to be happy."
At that, she silently put on her coat and shoes and got in the car.  She didn't say a word all the way to Kroger.  I enjoyed the unusual quiet.  Once we got inside Kroger, she forgot that she hated me, and she chattered all the way home.

Horned melon

I took the kids to Kroger today, which always takes longer and costs me more than if they're not with me, but it's a great educational opportunity.  And it can be just plain fun if I don't rush it and ruin it.  So we're strolling along in the produce section when Noah spies the weirdest looking piece of produce I've ever seen.  Of course, he says, "Mom, what is THAT?" and we all go closer to read the label. It's a New Zealand Horned Melon, right there in the middle of Illinois.  Sarah says, "I LOVE New Zealand Horned Melon!  Can we get one?"  I was just about to say no, because this tiny dangerous-looking thing is $3.49, but I caught myself just in time and turned it into a yes.  Instead of thinking of it as a ridiculously expensive piece of fruit, I decided to think of it as a really cheap science experiment.  Once I made the mental shift, it was much easier to buy it.

So we got it home, washed it, sniffed it, poked at it, and finally cut it in half.  We were surprised to find that it was green inside, and filled with a bunch of seeds that looked edible.
I dug a spoon in it and tried it first to see if it was poisonous.  It was nasty.  It tasted sort of like a really sour banana.  Sarah wouldn't try it, but Noah did. He said it was ok, but I noticed he didn't go back for more.

There it sat, cut in half on the counter for two hours while I thought about what I was going to do with it.  I scooped out the goop, put it in a bowl, and wondered what could be done with it.

Finally I decided to put it in the blender with some milk, other fruit, and the leftover raspberry sherbet we've had for months, and turn it into a smoothie.  It was really good!  I was reaching for a cup to pour it in when I realized that its own horned orange shell was rather attractive, so I just poured it right in there.

I froze the leftovers into popsicles.  I won't tell Sarah what's in them.

The spirit of tea

Sarah was setting up yet another tea party this morning.  She set out four teacups and saucers.  Since there were only three humans in the house at the time, I thought maybe one of her dolls or stuffed animals was going to join us.  I asked her about it, and she said, "Oh, God is joining us.  He loves the spirit of tea." 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good times at the creek

Lots of honeysuckle grows by the creek.  Here's Sarah demonstrating to Noah how to suck it.  She's the self-proclaimed honeysuckle queen since I showed her how to do it when Noah wasn't there. 
We had a good time checking out the creek after all the rain.  Noah wanted to get in it, but I told him not to, because it's deep and fast right now, and too cold for me to have to jump in and save him.
He decided to throw a stick in the water and race it along the bank.

The bank was muddy and slippery, and he fell lots of times.

And of course, we all knew this was coming, didn't we?  He fell right in.  But he was able to scramble out on his own. 

Return of the wild hunter

After the unsuccessful duck hunt, Jason went after a cardinal. See it on that post? Fortunately, he missed.  Determined to kill something, he started stalking a chipmunk.
That was a very entertaining chase.  The brave little chipmunk actually turned around and fought back!  He pounced at Jason, and Jason just bent over and picked him up in his mouth and started hauling him to his lair (the garage).

  It was a pretty big mouthful, so he stopped to rest on the way and set the chipmunk on the ground.  Chippy, of course ran for his hole.  Jason sprinted after him, but he disappeared into the safety of his burrow.  Jason dug and dug at the burrow, but it was no use.  Foiled again.

Finally he had to come in and settle for dry cat food.

Lessons from nature

The children and I were watching a tranquil scene outside our window.  A mother duck was waddling along in the yard with several tiny ducklings in a line behind her.  Suddenly, Jason appeared out of nowhere and started chasing the babies.  The mother turned and quacked at them.  It was obvious that she said, "Run to Daddy, quick!" because they all turned around and ran as fast as their little legs could take them, toward the creek, where their dad and uncles were waiting to lead them to safety.
Meanwhile, Mama Duck took on Jason.  She flapped wildly at him, squawking like a maniac.  Jason took a good whipping and retreated. 
I was impressed with the great parenting and survival skills of the ducks, and the instant obedience of the ducklings. 

Glue stick rocket

Noah figured out how to use part of a toy as a propulsion unit for all kinds of things.  Here they are loading balls into it. 

And here's Noah stomping on it as hard as he can to shoot the balls down the hallway.  Sarah loaded a glue stick into it and fired it at point blank range into my leg, leaving  a round welt.  I was glad it was my leg and not my eye, because how would explain to the doctors at the E.R. that my 7-year-old shot out my eye with a glue stick?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Clever laundry boy

Noah was grumbling about having to work on the laundry. His job was to haul it out of the dryer, dump it on the living room floor, turn it all right-side-out, and put it in the basket for me to fold.  I gave him a challenge to make it more interesting.  I told him to stand a few feet away from the basket and toss the right-side-out clothes into it . I said, "Bet you can't make them all without missing!"  I got busy doing kitchen work for the next several minutes.  When I checked back on Noah, this is what I found:
He had turned all the clothes right-side-out and stuffed them into a shirt.  Then he threw the whole bundle into the basket and met my challenge in one toss. 

Monday, April 18, 2011


I had been dressed all day and was dying to get into my cozy pajamas, but Noah had some friends over.  I told Mike I was waiting until the kids left, because Noah is old enough now that I thought he might be embarrassed if I was hanging around in my pajamas in front of his friends.  I was folding laundry in the living room and stacking it on the couch, and Mike said, "You think your pajamas would embarrass him?  What about his mommy's underwear spread out on the couch?!"

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


When we first moved here, Sarah kept calling our skylight a screen door.  I finally got her to understand that it's called a skylight.  She rode in my parents' vehicle yesterday and came home to tell me all about the "skylight" in it.  I had to break the unreasonable news that a skylight in a vehicle is called a sunroof. 

We were reading a book that referred to a southpaw, and Sarah asked what that was.  I told her it was a left-handed person.  She said, "Oh, that's not me.  I'm a northpaw." 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Garbage disposals and answering machines, oh my!

My grandma was here for dinner tonight, and she was watching me peel an orange for her.  As I threw the peel into the sink, she said, "Oh honey, you should throw that in the garbage.  It will clog up your sink."  I told her that we have a garbage disposal now that would grind it up, and I demonstrated.  She looked frightened and said, "Oh my!  Your sink is plugged up good."  I opened the cabinet under the sink and showed her the disposal and explained how it works (as much as I know, which isn't too much), but she was clearly not convinced.  She said, "You shouldn't use that thing unless Mike is right here watching." 

I remember when she called me at college and got my answering machine.  It was the first answering machine I ever had, and like all of the ancient ones back then, it recorded on a tape.  Grandma didn't know what it was.  All she knew was that she heard my voice saying hello, but then I didn't talk to her after that.  When I got home and pressed the button to play the message, she was already in mid-sentence.  "...and I was just getting ready to do my dishes and thought I'd call you.  How are your classes going?....Janel?  Can you hear me?  I heard a beeping noise on my phone....maybe there's something wrong with it...hello?  I know you're there; I heard you say something when you first answered...hello?"  She took up the whole tape, and by the end of her message she sounded pretty annoyed. 

I wonder what new-fangled contraption my grandchildren will be explaining to me in a few years.


Sarah didn't get nearly enough sleep last night, and she had a busy day.  Her attitude was reflecting it.  I said to Mike and Noah, "We're going to have to make extra allowances for Sarah, because she's tired."  Sarah perked right up and said, "Extra allowance?  How much do I get?"