Friday, November 29, 2013


 20-pound bird

 This is what went inside him

 I made a compound butter with poultry seasoning to slather all over him. Then I poured apple cider and maple syrup over the whole mess.

 I boiled the giblets and neck and used the broth for gravy.  I gave the cooked giblets to the cats, but they surprisingly didn't like them.

 All cooked and ready for my dad to carve.

We all fit in the kitchen!  That's why we moved to this house.

 We mostly stayed inside this year since it was so cold, but the kids did go out to play too.

While the boys played football, Sarah went in to make hot chocolate for everyone.

Monday, November 25, 2013

One for the record books

 Noah's 12th birthday party is going down as the worst so far.  Sarah made him the above Angry Birds cupcakes.  She and her friend Chloe decorated them.  So far so good.  I reserved the Proctor Recreation Center over a month ago.  Sent the check, called to confirm the date.  Packed up drinks, decorations, games, goody bags, 2 vehicles full of kids. So far so good.

 Arrive half an hour early to decorate.  No workers there to let us in.  No problem.  I assure the kids they'll be here any minute.  The above sign on the door is still amusing enough to me at this point to take a picture of it. 
 The boys help haul all the stuff up to the door and do what boys do while they're waiting.  I admire the architecture of the building and reassure Mike that we didn't need to make a Plan B, because the workers would be there any second now.  I confirmed the date twice, after all. 

My parents and two nephews arrive.  Then our best friends and their daughters.  The adults with phones start scrambling for alternative venues. It's really, really cold, but most of the kids aren't complaining.  It's now long past the 2:00 start time, and even I have given up hope.  We pack up all the stuff and all the kids and caravan back to our house, having found no other alternatives available. 

We haul all the stuff into the house.  There are kids packed in the house with nothing to do.  The bathrooms aren't even clean.  I was not expecting to have 23 people at our house.  I start getting cake ready to serve.  The phone rings (although I don't hear it over the din), and someone shouts, "It's Proctor Rec Center!"  The lady is very apologetic.  She thought the time was 3:00 instead of 2:00. She says she's there now and that we can come back.

We load up all the kids and most of the stuff again (I had already thrown some decorations and a game downstairs and put the matches away, so that stuff didn't make the final trip) and make the thirty minute drive back there again.  I'm feeling extremely testy and stressed.  Mike and I are in separate vehicles, trying to contact all the parents.  The kids are mostly content and resilient. They're discussing whether or not they believe in hypnosis and if the surface tension of the water would kill you if fell off the bridge and various other boy things, while one of them offers me driving advice.

 We haul the stuff in, and the adults help me decorate and set up, because my heart is really not in it anymore, and I don't even have all the decorations.  We meet up with some other friends who arrived late (or early, depending on your perspective), and the kids start playing in the gym.  I force myself to take a couple pictures for Noah's sake (I'd just as soon forget this day myself) while still trying to contact parents. 
In the end, Noah kindly said that he had a good time, and I hope the guests did.  The best I can say about the day is that I'm thankful for great friends and family who put up with me, and for my very special 12-year-old who makes it all worth it.

Sarah stories

I was explaining the phrase "worth your weight in gold" to Sarah.  As an example, I told her that if someone tells her she's worth her weight in gold, that means she's worth about the same as 60 pounds of gold.  She doesn't know how much that is, but she was immediately offended.  I told her that was probably over a million dollars, but she was still mad and declared, "I'm a child of the King!  I'm priceless!"  Once again, she schooled me.  Next time I'm explaining that phrase, I'll use an inanimate object as an example. 

This morning as I was getting on the scale, the priceless little princess told me, "You're not fat, Mom.  You're for your age."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wall project

I bought some wall art from a garage sale.  In preparing to apply it, I washed the wall this morning.  I normally consider washing walls and baseboards a waste of time and energy (along with most cleaning tasks), but as I was washing that wall, my germophobia crashed into my OCD, and I couldn't stop.  I ended up washing baseboards and way more walls than I had planned to.

Grouchy garage

Marty was being especially mean to the younger cats today, so I shooed her into the garage and said, "If you're going to be grouchy, you can spend some time alone in the garage!"  When I turned around, Sarah was looking at me wide-eyed, so I jokingly said to her, "Same goes for you, Missy."  She said, "The garage must be the place for grouchiness, because when YOU are grouchy, you go out there and slam the door and yell."  These kids don't miss a thing.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

eating locusts

We were doing science while having breakfast.  I asked the kids to read the ingredients on the smoothie they were drinking.  (Normally I make my own smoothies, but I had a free coupon for this one).  It was normal stuff I'd heard of before, until Noah said, "...locust bean gum, ...."  I said, "What?! Locusts?"  I read it for myself, and sure enough, that's what it said.  We stopped drinking and went to research it.  We found out that it is made from the seeds of the carob tree and used as a thickener.  Locust is just another name for the carob tree. Why wouldn't they just call it carob bean gum?!  I would feel a lot better about that.

Then we moved on to a geography lesson, because we learned that the carob tree grows in the Mediterranean region.  Noah located that on the map and noticed it was near Israel, so now we're wondering if John the Baptist really ate bugs or just carob?


It was a long, wild day yesterday.  Noah took advantage of unusually warm, muggy air in the morning and rode his ripstick to church with his friend.
Less than two hours later, we had a tornado warning.  We were in the middle of the most awesome church service, where you could tangibly feel the Holy Spirit moving.  The preacher had just decided that he wasn't going to preach the sermon he had prepared but just let the Holy Spirit work, when the lights went out.  I looked out the window and saw a wall of dark clouds.  We kept praying.  There were tornadoes all around us, but all we had were high winds and some rain. 

When we got home from church, we had no electricity, which messed up my plan to heat up leftovers for lunch.  As usual, I got confused about what works and what doesn't when the power goes out.  I turned on a light switch and was momentarily surprised when no light came on.  I knew the stove and microwave wouldn't work, so I thought I would heat up the food on the toaster. Duh.  I even had to stop and think about whether the automatic doors on our van would work.  Double duh. Mike took a nap, and I read a book, and the kids floundered around trying to figure out what to do.  So it was a great afternoon to go to our friends' house for their daughter's birthday party.  They had power, food, and fun, including marshmallow guns!
From there, we went to the airport to pick up my parents, whose flight had been delayed several times, and was delayed again while we were waiting.  The power went out at the airport, so it was dark for a few seconds before the generators kicked on. The kids were very bored at the airport.  We hadn't brought anything to do, thinking we would just pick up the passengers and leave. 

 After about an hour, they arrived, but their luggage didn't.  After a little more waiting, someone found their luggage, and we took them home. 

The next day, I was praying for the tornado victims when suddenly I heard harp music.  I thought for a second that the angels were joining my prayer, but when I opened my eyes, there was Sarah, plucking my harp.  She always has trouble keeping her body still, but during prayer time, it's even worse. 

This has nothing to do with anything.  I just liked the picture of Noah doing his school work with Shadow in the sun. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Slider sweater

Mike and I were having a discussion about furniture.  We've had lots of those lately.  We've lived here three years and still haven't figured out how to furnish the living room.  It's a tricky room because there's very little wall space.  A sliding glass door takes up a lot of space. Private parental conversations are almost non-existent, because even when we think we're having a private conversation, a child or two is always listening.  So this is how it went:
Me: We could put a couch in that corner...
Mike: But it would cover up the slider.
Noah enters the room and says: Do we really need the slider?
Sarah (from the next room): What sweater?  It better not be one of MY sweaters!
Me: We live in a loony bin.

Snowball fight

 Sarah said, "Noah, you wanna have a snowball fight?"

 Noah hesitated and looked dubious.  Sarah said, "Don't worry; I'm not a crybaby anymore. Just don't throw very hard. And don't hit me in the face.  And wait till I'm ready..."

 She smashed some snow down his neck.

 snowballs in each hand

True to her word, she didn't cry!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Noah's favorite game since he was five years old.

He wins 99% of the time.  He's disturbingly good at amassing money and property until he has bankrupted everyone else. 

A Knight to Remember

 I took Noah to a mother-son event at Living Waters Church.  Mike has taken Sarah to the daddy-daugther dance there for several years, and it was so nice that they had something for mothers and sons this time.

 We had to compete in a series of challenges together.  It was fun!

 The catapult was one of our favorites.

 Noah and the queen, who happens to be a friend of mine and wanted a picture with Noah, since her sons are grown.

Noah was a great sport and such a pleasant companion. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Working myself out of a job

I'm trying to teach my kids to take responsibility for their stuff and try solve their own problems.  The biggest obstacle is putting aside my own control issues and letting them make mistakes so they can learn how to deal with them.  I had a prime opportunity today.

The kids take a science class on Tuesday mornings. They have a take-home test once a month.  They have a week to finish it.  Ideally, my responsible kids would make sure they finished the test on time.  But they need help scheduling their time (they're kids, after all), so I write it on the whiteboard to remind them.  Today I wrote "Finish science test" on the board.  Noah said he couldn't find his.  I gave him the speech again about keeping all his science stuff in his science bag.  Then I started mentally solving the problem of the missing test.  I caught myself and realized that this is HIS problem, not mine, I asked, "What are you going to do about your test?"

N: I don't know.  What should I do?
M: What COULD you do?
N: Mom! Just tell me!
M: I want you to think about it instead of just expecting me to fix it.
N: I guess I could ask the teacher tomorrow for another one.
M: You'd have to ask her today, because it's supposed to be finished by tomorrow.
N: I can't call her!  I don't know her phone number.  She's probably not home.
M: What else could you do?
N: could copy the questions from Sarah's test...
M: I don't have the time or desire to do all that writing. [He's starting to get upset, so I offer a suggestion].  Maybe you could call your friend in the class and see if he's done his yet.  If it's still blank, you could make a copy of it.
N: Ok, I'll call him.  Thanks for the idea!

He calls, and the kid hasn't started his test (I guess mine isn't the only procrastinator). I consider making Noah ride his bike to his friend's house and then to the library to make the copy, but I think that would cross the fine line between teaching responsibility and being mean and unmerciful.  So I tell him that I'll drive him but he needs to bring his own change for the copy machine. 

N: How much is a copy?
M: I think it's a dime a page.
N: I don't have a dime.
M: Hmm.  What are you going to do?
N: Mom!
[Interlude of silent staring at each other}
N: I have a quarter.  Will that work?

So off we go to the friend's house, pick up the test, arrive at the library, and he says, "I lost my quarter."  I have nothing nice to say to that, so I leave him in the car and go in the library, taking deep breaths on the way.  Eventually he appears with the quarter and stands around helplessly.  I point to the copy machine.  He tries to hand me the test, but I think it's a good time for him to figure out how to use the copy machine.  I end up helping him a lot, but he's never used a copy machine before, so that's to be expected.  I drive him back to his friend's house to return the test, and we go home. I hope he's working on his test now.  The whole experience was time consuming and frustrating for both of us, and I never know if I'm doing the right thing or not.  I tend to err on the side of doing too much for the kids.  I must force myself to step back and let them make mistakes.