Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Heaven Help Me

It's here; Egg Nog season. Heaven help us all.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Smacking the Crack Addict

Today, the crack addict got smacked. "Just one more hit," he pleaded. "Just 700 grams or so. Then I'll quit. I'll learn to control myself."

"What about that hit you got earlier this year? What happened to that."

"Times are tough. I need more!", he cried.

"No." repsonded the dealer.

"I'll become violent! I'll be worse than I am now. As long as I know I have a hit coming I stay in control. You don't want to deny me my hit."

"I'm sorry. I am done giving you crack. You can't stop and I have no more to give."

The addict kicked and screamed and cried and called his Senator. It got pretty ugly.

Eventually, the crack addict had to learn to live without his baby. It hurt. He became deathly ill, had waking nightmares. He was hospitalized for a while, then went to a 4 week program. In time, years later, he was clean. Scarred, yes, but clean.

The crack, ladies and gentlemen, is easy credit. The dealer is our financial institutions.

The addict is America.

Anne and Me


Remember when Anne had to go apologize to Mrs. Rachel Lynde? Anne gave an extravagant apology and then Mrs. Lynde said,

"There, there, get up, child. Of course I forgive you. I guess I was a little too hard on you, anyway. It can't be denied your hair is a terrible red; but I knew a girl once--went to school with her, in fact--whose hair was every mite as red as your when she was young, but when she grew up it darkened to a real handsome auburn. I wouldn't be a mite surprised if yours did, too--not a mite."
"Oh, Mrs. Lynde!" Anne drew a long breath as she rose to her feet. "You have given me a hope. I shall always feel that you are a benefactor. Oh, I could endure anything if I only thought my hair would be a handsome auburn when I grew up." (Montgomery, L.M., Anne of Green Gables. Bantam. New York.)
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I have freckles--a lot of freckles. It has always been a thing for me. Judy Bloom wrote a book called Freckle Juice that I loved as a kid. I could not believe someone would actually want freckles. When I was young, people always told me that you grow out of freckles; thus the reference to Anne. HOPE! Well, I didn't. I still have freckles--a lot of freckles.

Now there are some good things about them. They hide blemishes and they make your face distinctive. I don't know if that second thing is good, but I'm choosing to think so.

Here is the bad part. I went to a dermatologist when I was 16. One looked at me and, with a low whistle, said, "You are cancer waiting to happen." Sheesh!

Because of that professional (I'm choosing to call it professional) advice (I'm choosing to call it advice), I am careful about checking my angel kisses regularly. This summer, I noticed a mole that looked a little odd. I went to the doctor to be proactive and had it removed right away.


He removed the wrong one.


I had to pay $114 for it.
I think he was lost in the sea. Next time I'll circle it with a Sharpie.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

All Hail George Washington Carver


Okay, I know the guy did a lot of things in his life, but the whole peanut business is the vitaly important thing he did for me.

I heard about a lady who loved Mangoes. She loved them so much that her user name was mangolady or something like that. When she was in her mid-thirties, she developed an allergy to mangoes. That is cruel. That is an immune system that is a plain, old, dirty, rotten Bully--with a capital B!!

I fear something like that will happen to me only with peanuts. Ahh, I love peanuts (yeah, the cartoon, too). Let's make a list of reasons to love peanuts, shall we?
  • peanut butter (American Children's antidote to starvation)
  • Butterfinger (also Butterfinger Blizzards from DQ)
  • The get-gum-out-of-your-hair remedy (mother of five speaking here)
  • Peanut Brittle
  • peanut butter cookies
  • Peanut M&M's
  • peanut butter ice cream
  • Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (also Reese's Pieces--ET liked them, after all)
  • roasted peanuts
  • this recipe (I know how it looks, but it's a new personal need-something-now treat)
  • Thai peanut sauce
  • Shrimp Cocktail
  • Shrimp Kabobs
  • Oops. Got a little carried away. My name is not Bubba.

If there is mercy in life, I will never have to do without peanuts. It is my favorite legume.

Dairy is a close second. Love, love milk; love, love cheese.

What item would change your life if you had to do without?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

"I Could Never Homeschool!"


Last night as I was tucking my oldest Pod into bed, he asked, "Why do we have so many nuclear weapons?"


After a discussion about the Arms Race, the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the geography of the Soviet Union, he asked, "What is our relationship with the Russians now?"


We talked about the invasion of Georgia, problems in the Ukraine, communism, capitalism, free enterprise, personal debt and the current economic conditions our country is facing.


By the time 10:45 pm rolled around, my voice was exhausted, his questions were not. There will be more questions today.


If we can just answer our children's questions! Anyone who answers with "Well, that goes back to . . ." instead of "I don't know," (not that you can't say "I don't know" if it is followed up by "Let's find out") is home-schooling their children.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sunday Dinner


There are few things as satisfying to this Mothership than coming home to the smell of Dinner's Ready! I love meals that you can prepare whenever you have a moment during the day. Babies and toddlers know when you have to be in the kitchen, working quickly with things like knives and boiling water. They know and they don't like it. Dinner Prep is the time when everyone in the house is crying; at least it feels that way when the timer is going and the toaster is popping and the gravy is supposed to be "stirred continuously."
Here is your next Sunday Dinner (this can be prepared the night before):
3 Hour Sour Cream Chicken
3 lb bag of chicken breast (I cut mine into Pod sizes before cooking)
*mix together*
1 cup sour cream
2T lemon juice
1 t seasoned salt (Johnny's is my personal fav)
1/2 t garlic salt
1 t salt
1 t paprika
*in seperate bowl, combine*
1 cup bread crumbs and 1/2 c melted butter
Place chicken breast in 9x13 casserole dish. Spread sour cream mixture over chicken. Sprinkle bread crumbs over all. Cover with foil and bake at 325 degrees for 3 hours. Remove foil for the last 15-20 minutes to brown bread crumbs. I served mine with noodles with a side if veges.
Happy Dinner Hour.

Headed for the Moon

Every kid, at some point, wants to have a puppy and to be an astronaut. My Pods' fascination with space, space flight, and the Space Race has been going on for a while, now. We've checked out every book at the library, plastered posters on our walls, found a few great web sites and watched everything from Apollo 13 to Astronaut Farmer. This one is GREAT:





Last Year, Pod #1 was Sputnik for Halloween.

Today they were training for their next mission. I don't know what this technique is preparing them for, but they said they were getting ready to go to the moon. Looks like hanging from a tree to me.

I've obviously replaced my childhood imagination with realism. What a shame. What a loss.

Children need us to feed them and keep them safe; we need the children to remind us how pretty Christmas lights are, how beautiful chalk can be on the sidewalk, and that we can go to the moon.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Back in First Grade

This is my opening post as "Supreme Commander" (though I must state categorically I am not supreme nor do I command) so have mercy.

These first five weeks of my program have whizzed by so fast I am constantly wondering "Did I miss something?". There is a rather disturbing scene in the movie Casino where Joe Pesci has a guy's head in a vice. That is the best way to descibe my brain pain right now. (Yes I'm probably exaggerating ;bear with me literally minded ones)

In all of this academic madness, however, there is one amusing caveat. In some aspects, I feel as if I am revisitng my elementary school days. Let me point out a couple of similarities:

1. With the exception of some sciences, all my classes are in the same room. We are one class of 61 souls who will all go through this together for the next four years. I think 6th grade was the last time I had what they called a "home room". The major difference now is that our teachers have PhD.'s and they don't turn off the light and ask us to put our heads down on the desk to calm our hyperactivity. (Still hyperactive, yes)

2. At home in the mornings I have begun an old ritual of the early morning cartoons. When I was a kid it was a bowl of cold cereal and watching Tom & Jerry, Tex Avery cartoons, Star Trek the Animated Series. It was an hour of mind-numbing, brainless entertainment before brushing the teeth, grabbing my lunch and bag and heading the half-mile for the bus stop. Fast forward a quarter century and Youtube transports me back to that cherished hour of animated sadism and stupidity.

Yes, I'm in a graduate program and should probably be more mature and focused. Perhaps this is a security blanket phase that will pass. In the meantime however, I plan on enjoying it.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Family/Friends

Yesterday I talked with my "little" brother on the phone for 45 minutes. I have quotes around little because he is decidedly not. He is 6'5". Since I am only 5'8", any time I can call him "little," I do. I digress.

Today, I spoke with by favorite sister on the phone for 85 minutes--not unusual. She needed motivation to put down her book and clean her house. In that 85 minutes we both got a lot of house cleaning done. She usually calls our mom when she needs that motivation. When we were young, Mom used to pretend her friend Marcy was coming to visit. Boy can you move mountains--literally--mountains (of laundry/dishes) when a friend is coming to visit. Oh, I'm digressing again.

The point I wanted to share with you today, is that in the last two days, I spent over two hours on the phone with my siblings. We are friends.


I love that we are friends.

And here's the thing: We are not all living the lives I hoped my siblings would live. I'm sure I'm having more babies than some of them think is prudent (though no one has ever said anything to me. . . ) or making other decisions with which they do not agree. It doesn't matter!! We are friends, buddies, confidants.

A couple of years ago we had a Siblings Weekend. We got together without parents or spouses and had such a healthy time. We talked and cooked and talked and went on drives and talked and saw a movie and talked, talked, talked. None of us are anti-vocal. It was wonderful to have no children to occupy our short time or distract our attention. We didn't have our spouses to share thoughts or feelings with so we shared with each other. There was story swapping and laughter and new understandings developed. We vowed to have Sibling Weekends on a regular basis--even if that means every 5 years.

What makes a family so unified despite being different people? How can you teach that? I see my children playing together and loving each other and I don't want it to end. I want them to call each other when they are 31 and 34 because they love each other. When they bicker, I want them to understand that someday they may live 1000 miles apart and they are going to wish for the time they can just be together. Take advantage of your time, dear Pods. I want to know that when I am gone, they will have each other. I know that when my parents are gone, we will hold each other and cry over the loss and laugh over the memories. No one will worry about who gets what because, Who Cares?

I love that my little brother called to tell me he made some adult league volleyball team. I love that he listens as I tell him about my ugly hair and my frumpy draw-string pants. Thank you, Levi, for loving me.

I love you, too.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Age Requirements

"The baby grew. He grew and he grew and he grew. He grew until he was two years old, and he ran all around the house. He pulled all the books off the shelves. He pulled all the food out of the refrigerator and he took his mother's watch and flushed it down the toilet. Sometimes his mother would say, 'this kid is driving me CRAZY!' " (Munsch, Robert. Love You Forever.New York. Firefly Books Ltd.)
----------------------------------------------

One thing I've learned over the last nine years of parenting Pods: they go through phases. That means, they enter and then leave phases. Our fourth pod is a sweet, even-tempered, patient, angel child. She has just realized there are some expectations for two years olds to fulfill. It is unclear where they get this information; must be the park. Hmmm.

At any rate, this is a sampling of what Pod #4 has done over the last couple of days.

  1. Colored all over the walls, doors, windows and mirrors with crayon (Thank You to the inventor of the Magic Erasure!)
  2. Unrolled 1/2 a roll of toilet paper (Have you ever tried to re-roll toilet paper? I'm too cheap to toss it, so it becomes a big wad on the back of the toilet until it's gone)
  3. Colored all over face and legs with ball point pen (Where does she find these, you ask? Address this question to Pods 1-3)
  4. Pulled all the books off the shelves.
  5. Unrolled a whole roll of toilet paper (Have you ever tried to re-roll . . . oh, wait. We already talked about that.)
  6. Did her duty all over the floor then stepped in it to make sure she didn't miss any spots. (We're talking grout, people)
  7. Got out of the bath and pulled all the Lysol wipes out when my back was turned (I was washing my hands after the clean-up)
  8. Scattered the freshly washed, dried, and folded piles of laundry as I was putting something away in another room.

To make it clear: We are going through a phase . . . through a phase . . . "there's no place like home . . . there's no place like home" . . .Hey!! Where is the wavy screen and the floaty music telling me I am leaving this phase? Humph. Hollywood liars. What all mothers wouldn't do to get Nanny McPhee's stick!

Here is the other problem: She is darling and wonderful. She sings me songs that go, "I love you, Mama, You are my Mama, Mama loves me" etc. She sits on my lap and sucks her thumb and squishes her fat cheeks into my neck and all is forgiven. I love two year olds.

-------------------------------

"I'll love you forever,

I'll like you for always,

As long as I'm living

my baby you'll be."

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sabotage

He's the only boy, but don't feel too sorry for him. Yesterday the girls were playing some kind of imaginary old-fashioned-school house. Pod #1 wanted to play along.
They were using names like Carrie and Sally and drinking tea. They encouraged each other with dramatic, "Oh, that is lovely", "Yes, Teacher," or "I adore your idea." Once the boy entered the game, I noticed subtle changes in their conversations. Within 20 minutes, the school house had become some kind of war zone. New snippets of converstion I heard included, "Oh, no! The enemy helicopters are coming," and "I'm down!!" and "Sally, run and get bandages." I heard words like "infiltrate" and "sabotage."
Sabotage indeed.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

One Solitary Apple

When pale pink petels of the apple blossoms fell to the ground this spring, I noticed the tiny green promise of one fruit.
I didn't say a word.
I hid it carefully with surrounding leaves.
I watched it lovingly all through the summer.
I quieted my excitment.
Yesterday my Pods found it. They picked it only a couple of weeks before it's peak harvest moment.
It was a beautiful dream.
It was awfully tart.
The little dears.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Spanish Class in a Bax

Nearly everyone agrees that the best way to learn a language other than your native tongue, is by immersion: If you want to learn French, live in France for a while and so forth.

My husband speaks fluent Spanish. As a responsible homeschooling mother, I decided we needed to take advantage of his second language and teach it to the children. Since I don't speak Spanish, this language learning would have to be in the hands of the SC. Now we needed to devise a plan . . . I know!! Immersion!

This became Spanish Tuesday. I fixed a wonderful Mexican meal (from an authentic Mexican cookbook--not some Americanized fare) and had Latin music playing when Dad arrived home from work. The kids and I had worked on the few Spanish words I knew so everyone could say "please, thank you, excellent, water, my house is your house," and we were working on counting to 10. All of this I learned from Sesame Street when I was a child.

This was the second essential point of our classroom experiment: languages are best taught to children because of the life-long retention. Even our Grandma on her worst dementia days could sing "My Country 'Tis of Thee" in Latin because she learned it as a child. This was the time and I was sure the Pods and I were ready.

Dad came home and started his tongue a rollin'. Every once in a while I would catch a "bien" or an "uno" and I would cheer. He would look at me like I was nutty because the thing he just said was not something to cheer about. Ug.

Not to be dissuaded, we plugged away. Pretty soon the Pods went their own way and SC and I were like two strangers at the same table. By the middle of dinner, we quit.

Since that disaster (yes, even the food was terrible--turns out I don't know how to cook with instructions like "a little oil" or "some corn meal" or "a spoonful of tomato paste"), I have continued my quest to learn a language other than my own. I have borrowed movies and tapes from the library and listened over and over again. I think I could ask directions to Hotel Columbia, but only if the answer is "here" or "there." My husband is patient and corrects my pronunciations, then says, "Of course, that might not be how they say it in Argentina or Cuba." Seriously, can't someone just decide on one way to pronounce a word and stick with it throughout the Spanish speaking world? And, hey, while I'm ranting, let's do that with English, too. I went to Chicago once and bought a pair of shoes. The sales lady kept asking if I wanted a bax. What the heck is a bax? After saying "huh?" several times, she pulled out a BOX and said, "Do you want this?" Oh.

We'll just keep plugging along and maybe learn something in the long run. I'm open to any ideas.

And I'll get off my soap bax now.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Confession

A few days ago, my girls and I had a party. We made some cupcakes an miraculously had a 1/4 cup of this leftover:

I'm not sure why, but I LOVE frosting out of the tub. So, now, each time I walk through the kitchen (that is often because our kitchen is also our hallway to the bedrooms, bathroom, backyard) I take a scoop.

Am I the only one who does this? I'm sure it is because of this type of habit that I can't get rid of these last 15 pounds since the birth of Pod #5.

I just went to get another lick and the tub was gone. My Pods had hurried it downstairs and were just finishing off the last of it.

Phew.

I also eat cookie dough which grosses out my mom and sister to the max (can you tell I was raised in the 80's?). I had a roommate in college who used to make Chocolate Chip Cookie dough and serve it to us in bowls--like ice cream. Yum.

Here's the thing; I'm very careful with eggs when I cook. I always wash my hands and any utensils I use with raw eggs. Though I do like a good, runny yoke in a fried egg (to dip the toast in, see), the white stuff has to be completely cooked.

I am a complete paradox.

Anyone else?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

For All of You "Ologists" Out There

The Power of an English Accent

Friday night the boys went camping and the girls had a Girl Party. There was no glitter and we didn't dress up, but we had a ball. You see, we had the same foil dinners that I sent with the campers, but our dinner conversation was all in an English accent. Just like magic, it felt like a gourmet meal with linen napkins. We made pink cupcakes together and watched the newest Disney straight-to-DVD-crappy-movie while they cooled. After the show, we frosted and decorated our desserts.


Then all four of them climbed into my suddenly very small queen sized bed.


I love my girls.

You boys can go camping whenever you want.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

In the Eye of the Beholder




Our home is over 100 years old. It has been a rental off and on for years which means the care taking was quite make-it-work/cheapest-solution-possible. I adore fixing up this little old bungalow. Because I don't have a large budget, part of the fun is coming up with ideas that are relatively inexpensive.
I can spend hours at Lowe's just looking, thinking, price checking, color matching, discovering new uses for old items.
My pods hate it.
The other day I said, "Come on. We're going to the best store!"
When they found out it was Lowe's, my oldest Pod cried out, "That is the WORST store!! I hate going to Lowe's!"
I guess some tastes are aquired.
Like Lowe's. And documentaries. And tending to one's fingernails.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Dreaded Mobility

This is my baby Pod. We have a problem. She is rolling. It could be called an accident, but she has done it several times. Then she gets mad. With some luck, she won't figure out how to roll back because then we're in real trouble: books off shelves, cords out of walls, curtains in a heap, etc.

It is something how a mother can know basic things about a new child's personality before that little one is born. I knew we were in for an energetic Pod. From the moment she could, she has been moving.

That moving was harmless, but this is mobility!



Monday, September 8, 2008

Advice To Parent By

"We have a great responsibility to our children. Find joy in them. Don't overschedule them or yourself. You may not be able to take them on exotic vacations. It doesn't matter. When the day dawns bright and sunny, take an excursion to the canyon or park. When it's cloudy and wet, read a book together or make something good to eat. Give them time to explore and learn about the feel of grass and the wiggliness of worms."


Marjorie Hinkley

What Is It About Four?

My third pod is four.

Seriously. She cannot be a normal, smiley chick in any picture.The list goes on. (The medical tape, by the way, is covering two month old mosquito bites that are now rather large wounds. STOP PICKING!) You have to love a four year old; they ask a lot of questions and make every family picture memorable.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Where Were The Safety Police?

The next major part of my construction effort is the wiring. Our house was wired some time in 700 BC, I think. This is how they decided to send electric current--fire-starting, electrocuting current--from the house to the garage. It is obvious that they were careful, exacting, procedure following electricians.
Here is the security light someone installed above the garage door. I feel much more secure knowing the black tape is there, but painted over for added protection. Also curb appeal.
It looks so nice!
Don't tell my insurance agent.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I'm Workin' On It

The door is in. The wall separating the garage from the new office is up. One side of that wall is sheet-rocked, mudded, and taped. The shelves in the left-over part of the garage--now garden shed--are all but complete.

There are no pictures because I don't want your critique. No, I'm kidding. But not really.

Actually, there are no pictures because I put in a door and wall and storage shelving while trying to keep my 2 month old baby nursed, bar my children from the saw, and get the dadgum slivers out of my fingers.



Ooops! Is this what I am supposed to be doing?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Real Options




Dad

I'm pretty sure there was no such thing as ADHD when my dad was little. I'm pretty sure because he was never diagnosed. Instead he was called, "hardworker," or "tireless," or "ambitious," or "irritating." He has super-human strenth like Jean Valjean. I mean that he is really, really strong but isn't a body builder. Also, he has this "I can do it" attitude that make everyone around him tired. If Dad is interested in trying something, he just does it (building guitars from scratch (that is working large planks of wood until they sing)restores cars; climbs mountains; sings barbershop; earned his degree through the mail while working full time and raising four children; and etc.). We always joke (but it's true) that if Dad is going to take on a huge project, like building a garage, putting in a bay window, adding on a room, he has to start at 11pm with a chain saw.


Some people, when doing a project, want the kids out of the way. Not my dad. We were to be right there. We can all find the correct tools, we all know how to read instructions, and we all learned to ignore the swearing because, as my mom constantly reminded us, "He's not mad at you, he's mad at the car."


None of my siblings, however, can hold a flashlight like I can. Seriously, I am good at keeping that light on the task.

Our dad taught us that we can do whatever we want. If we are willing to work and sometimes fail and keep trying, we can do it.


So a couple of days ago, I took my own chain saw (that's right, mine, not my husbands) and cut a big fat hole in our garage. Then I put in a door.


Thanks, Dad.