Friday, July 31, 2015

The best-laid plans of mice and moms

It was supposed to be a regular day involving math, spelling, reading, geography, with some extra cleaning thrown in.  We bought a nasty old couch, and I borrowed a Bissell shampooer from a neighbor friend and planned on cleaning that thing today while the kids were working on their lessons.  I started on it early to beat the heat and soon broke the attachment.  I confessed to the neighbor, apologized, and ordered a replacement part, which won't arrive for a week.  So instead of cleaning, we're learning the "making restitution" lesson. Again.
This is how poor Noah had to ride home from Creve Coeur with the couch.

On to reading.  I'm reading aloud a great book, and right in the middle of my sentence, Sarah tells me that she has a bump on her gums and it hurts.  She has hypochondriac tendencies, so I brushed her off with "You need to brush better and floss more" and was about to resume reading when she said, "Do you want to look at the bump?"  I didn't, of course, but I figured a good mother would probably at least look at it and give her a sympathetic pat on the head.  So I went over and looked at it.  Then I put the book down and went to get a flashlight.  Then I called the dentist (whose number I have memorized, for some strange reason). Usually I'm a drink-water-rest-and-keep-an-eye-on-it kind of mom for all medical issues, but this clearly called for a professional.  Plus it's Friday, and if we keep an eye on it too long, then we're paying emergency Saturday dentist fees.   As I was calling the dentist, I sighed and said, "Why can't my life just be normal?" and Noah said, "Because you chose to homeschool."  Does homeschooling somehow cause dental crises?

The dentist wanted to see her in 45 minutes, which gave me time to take a shower and get Noah to help me move the stinky couch out into the sun.  Just as I was asking him to help, his neighbor buddy knocked on the door, so I added, "Ben can help too. Then you guys can play while I take Sarah to the dentist."  Those good strong boys had the couch moved in no time, and I didn't even have to lift a finger!

On the way to the dentist, Sarah sat in the front seat next to me, because all the seats in the van were gone from moving the couch.  She said, "This reminds me of when Dad used to take me to Steak 'n Shake and I'd sit up front with him and drink milkshakes and talk about life.  We don't do that anymore, because now I know all about life."

I love our dentist.  He's a laid back guy, knows what he's doing, thinks conservatively with treatment, and consults me as a "mom expert".  He asked me what I thought it was, and I said an abscess.  He said, "I concur.  What's your treatment plan, Mom?"  I said antibiotics, and he gave me a high five and said he would xray it first, just to be sure.
Very interesting to see the shell of the baby tooth hovering over the permanent tooth.

 Then we were off to Kmart to get the prescription filled.  I was telling Sarah that I dislike that pharmacy, because they always ignore me.  I have to stand there dropping my keys on the counter for five minutes before they notice me.  She said, "You should yell, 'Ex-CUSE me!  I am a person! With feelings!'  That's what I do when people ignore me."  I stood there at the prescription window in full view of the multiple employees, and they all pretended I didn't exist, as usual.  I did the "oops, I keep dropping my keys" routine for a few minutes to no avail and was thinking about using Sarah's tactic when a brilliant idea came to me.  I pulled my fingernail clippers out of my purse and started loudly, annoyingly, clipping my nails.  I was literally only two clips in when a pharmacy employee appeared.  I'll remember that one for next time!
They told me it would be twenty minutes.  Why does it take twenty minutes to put the drugs in the bottle?  So I went to the blood pressure machine.  Mine was high. Probably from dropping keys and clipping nails.
While I was doing that, Sarah pointed accusingly at this bag and yelled, "You are ruining chocolate! It's supposed to have sugar!"
Then we went to the food section, because what else is there to look at in Kmart?  Look at this.  Reduced fat Triscuits.  And their serving suggestion is "Top with cottage cheese, peas, & mint."  Seriously?  The professional food photographer couldn't even make that look appetizing on the box!
Twenty minutes later, we're back at the pharmacy counter, being ignored. Again.  Fortunately a good song came on, so we danced violently in an attempt to get an employee to notice us.

Sarah convinced me to buy her an Icee because "my bump is so hot!" and I'm a pushover.  I bought one to take to Noah and one for Ben for helping move that couch.  He earned it even more when he had to open the childproof cap on the antibiotics, after I had tried for at least 30 seconds.

So the math books remain closed, the stinky couch sits on the driveway next to the broken down Bissell, and the day is more than half gone. This was not my plan.  But I believe things were learned in the classroom of real life.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sometimes this is how school goes...

I'm not a big fan of textbooks, because they're boring, and my kids don't learn well when they're bored.  We do use some sometimes, but I prefer to just live and learn whenever we can.  This morning before church, we learned some forensic science, Latin, history, and Shakespeare.  It all started when the cat tried to kill me...

I was lying in bed, and there was a very heavy insulated stainless steel bottle on the shelf above my head.  Shadow reached his furry little paw out and knocked it over.  My catlike reflexes shot my hand out to block it at the last second, thus saving my life. I told the kids that if that thing had hit me at the right spot on the head, it might have killed me, and since there were no witnesses, Daddy probably would have gone to jail for the rest of his life.  Mike wondered if the forensic scientists could lift Shadow's pawprint off the bottle, which led to a little discussion about forensics. 

A few minutes later, Shadow's sister Shiloh almost knocked the bottle onto my head.  I frowned at her and said, "Et tu, Brute?" Noah asked why I called her that, so I told him it was a Latin line from Julius Caesar, made famous by Shakespeare.  He had more questions about Brutus and Caesar, so we read about the conspiracy against Caesar in 44 B.C.  We're now referring to Shiloh as "Brutus", and I think Noah won't soon forget the history he learned.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Cool retro dad

Mike: Do you want to see something cool?
Noah and Sarah: What it is?
Mike: Do you want to see it or not?
Noah: I'm in the middle of a Minecraft game.
Sarah: Your idea of cool is not the same as my idea of cool.  Yours is plaids and stripes, and mine is kitty's mama. You're kinda retro, Dad.

What????  Adolescent children are strange creatures.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

"Refried" beans

Day 2 of being home with no kids.  I invented a recipe for refried beans, though they aren't fried OR re-fried.
Looks gross.  Into the crockpot went a small bag of pinto beans, some carrots that the children were supposed to eat with their lunch on Sunday and have been lying around drying out ever since, an onion (peeled and halved), a banana pepper from a friend's garden that has been hanging around for a couple weeks, lots of garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and cumin. I covered the whole mess with water and cooked it uncovered for 7 or 8 hours on high.  Then I noticed that the water level had gone down quite a bit but the beans were still a little hard, so I covered the pot and kept cooking for a couple more hours.
 Still looks gross. I dumped the contents of the crockpot into the blender and added some milk (both to cool off the hot mess and add some creaminess).  Blended like crazy until it was smooth and creamy.
I sprinkled some shredded cheddar on top and put it under the broiler for a couple minutes.  Then we dipped chips in it and called it dinner.  I ended up with about 12 cups of this stuff, and the whole pot cost less than $1.50.

Sarah's first gymnastics appearance

 Sarah's team did a little demo on the square in Washington last Saturday.
 She loved doing tricks all around the square.
 Noah was not as thrilled about getting up early on a Saturday morning.
 The mayor of Washington talking to the gymnasts.

Noah did a little gymnastics performance of his own.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Girls' Day

 My crazy fun girlfriends and I spent a day together playing games.
Bev even taught us how to play pickleball!

Miller Park Zoo

One nice summer day, I called my best friend and asked if she wanted to go to the Miller Park Zoo in Bloomington to see the snow leopard cubs. She and her girls were here within an hour, and we left.  Her spontaneity is one of the things I love about her.

I was in the van, waiting for our friends to arrive. My goofy teenager threw his socks at the windshield. 
 The kids ran straight for the playground outside the zoo.

 The girls all found mermaids in the gift shop that looked like them.
Another thing I love about my best friend is that she takes great pictures.  She took this one of the tiger at the zoo.  The baby snow leopards were adorable, but they were not in a good place to get pictures of them.

Pond Day

 Every summer, my ex-boyfriend's sister invites us to their pond for a day of fishing, picnicking, and relaxing. Her brother and I broke up more than 20 years ago, but I'm still friends with his family.
 Sarah baiting her hook.
 Noah practicing Kuk Sool forms on the dock
 The corn is very tall this year.
This scene is one of the very few things I like about summer.  I love the puffy, white clouds in the big, blue sky with the green grass and corn.  It was a perfect summer day.

Riverfront Museum

We went to the Peoria Riverfront Museum last week.
We met some friends there and saw "Mysteries of the Unseen World".  It was my first 3D movie, and it was spectacular. My friend Rebekah stood up in the middle of the theater and read scripture before the movie started, and we had a good discussion about it afterwards.

Noah persevered at this until he broke the record and scored 55.
"Spraying" each other with stuffed skunks in the gift shop.

Cousin fun

 My cousin and I decided that we needed to get our kids together before summer is over.  We met at Grandma Opal's house for lunch and an afternoon of play and work.  Our lunch plan was complicated.  I said, "I'll bring some food."  And my cousin said, "I will too."  It just so happened that we both brought complementary things and ended up with a great, balanced meal.  We even had cake and ice cream and sang "Happy Birthday" to Grandma Opal, even though it's a month early.
 Somehow we managed to pick the hottest day of the year.  The kids didn't seem to mind. 

 Sarah and  Elizabeth in their  matching bunny helmets.

 Aunt Linda now owns the house, but we still call it Grandma Opal's house.  Aunt Linda came out with a water noodle like we were at the beach.
 We did get some work done.  We scrubbed all the green fur off the side of the garage and the front porch. It was even fun because we love being together.  We sure missed Isaac though.
Noah sporting Elizabeth's bunny helmet for a photo op.
Noah and Powder


 Yesterday, both of our kids went to camp at the same time.  I've never been home without them before. It's quiet and strange.  Delightful and melancholy. I have been looking forward to my vacation for long time.  I don't have to drive anybody anywhere, teach anybody anything, or correct any behaviors or attitudes.  If I clean something, it stays clean! But I miss them.
 Sarah wanted to be early for registration so she could have her choice of bunks. We were the first ones in line. The kids took a turn on the rope swing while we waited.

 Lice checks.  The qualified professional (who looked to be about the same age as Noah) pronounced them lice-free.

Jacob (whose name tag said "Shadow") led us to Noah's cabin.
 Noah is a turtle for the week.
He was the first one, so he got to choose his bunk.  He chose the bottom one in the corner. It was hot and humid and hard to leave him there with strangers.
 Walking away, I stopped to take one last look.  I miss him already.

 Then we were off to Field Mouse Glen to get our little mouse settled.
She chose the top bunk at the front. She was happy and ready for us to leave. Mike tried to help her with her suitcase and was informed, "I got it. I'm not six years old, Dad."

 The Field Mice are in a more civilized dwelling than the turtles. They even have a bathroom with showers in their building.  The boys have to walk to a bath house far from their cabin.

 Driving away, still too sad about leaving them to enjoy our vacation, I glanced back and saw that Noah had left his tennis shoes in the van.  He had packed in typical Noah style: an overstuffed suitcase accompanied by several little bags in a disorganized heap of stuff he mostly wouldn't need. I told Mike we had to go back, because he couldn't spend the week in the woods with only the flip flops he was wearing.  Secretly, I was happy to get a chance to see him again.
 Mike trudged back through the woods and passed the bag up to a very grateful boy. His cabinmates had arrived by this time, and they were gathered on the porch, listening to the counselor's speech about expected behavior.

Then we drove away for good.  Our first act of vacation was a stop at Monicals, followed by Dairy Queen. I'm trying not to think about them in their hot, muggy cabins, surrounded by strangers and bugs.  For the record, they both CHOSE to go of their own free will.  We didn't coerce or even encourage them.