Saturday, November 28, 2009

Still Won't Play

I'm singing this song in Relief Society tomorrow. It is about how there are bad things going on all over the world about which I can do nothing, but I can help in my small sphere. It is quite beautiful. As I was practicing it today, I thought it really needed pictures. I spent some time filching pictures off people's Facebook pages and blogs to put in the slide show. I carefully timed each picture to match the lyrics I would sing. At it's completion, there were a couple of small things I would have changed if I had given myself more time, but I thought it turned out lovely. I saved it to a disk. The church has TVs on carts with DVD players so I figured I would just play it on my DVD player at home to make sure it would work there.

No.

I fiddled and worked and downloaded.

Nothing.

I called my sister, my brother-in-law, my mom (who knows nothing about computers, but she would as least curse the computer with me), my dad, and even my niece in Hawaii.

No one was home.

I called a neighbor. He taught me how to convert files. I converted the file into four different formats.

Not one would play on the TV.

I went to the store in my slippers and without make-up to buy a different kind of DVD.

No beans.

"THIS IS NOT WORTH IT!" I hollered. "This was supposed to be a quick mouse click. AUGH!!" I stepped away for awhile. When I came back I decided to just play the song and practice singing. My son happened by and stopped to listen and watch the video.

"Oh, Mom. That was amazing."

I love my son.

I hate computers.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Mom's Bed

This morning, I woke up next to two small girls. Babies are so soft in the morning. I pull them in close and kiss the cheeks, the noses and the chubby little hands. I stare in awe at the perfection of their features and at the reminder that they are mine. Soon they begin to stir (I'm sure it has nothing to do with my tickling their noses with my hair or my stroking their feathery eyelashes). They smile up at me with puffy good morning eyes; the four year old pats my cheeks. As they slowly wake up, we begin to giggle and play. Another girl crawls under the blankets and we work together to teach the baby animal sounds and body parts. It is the beginning of her home schooling, a school where siblings instruct and encourage siblings. Soon, another child comes in to Mom's bed. She joins in the merriment. Our boy slips in next to me and tells me all about his dream. I'm not really listening--I am too distracted by his face. He is changing. He isn't soft in the morning anymore. He talks about real things and can be so gentle with his sisters. He finishes his dream and begins telling stories to the girls. The plot is typical for my nearly eleven year old boy: Through a sad, blind-sided swipe, we learn that butterflies are evil. The only way to kill them is by shooting them, but, have you ever tried to shoot a butterfly? It is very difficult. The next ten minutes are consumed by animated instructions on how to shoot a butterfly. Seriously, son. Gonna go after unicorns and rainbows next? But, it's okay. We are all laughing hysterically at his training video. Eventually it is time to get out of the warm, soft bed. Bladders are full and stomachs are growling, but we linger a bit longer. We don't get to do this kind of thing every day. Speculation about Christmas begins. What will you ask for, what will you give? How old is Santa? Mom, tell us about your favorite Christmas. Do you remember the snow last year? and there is always a renegade question, Mom, were you born with freckles?

I know these days will be gone before I know it. I try to treasure them and I think I do. There is a line in the movie Finding Neverland, about J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan. He said,
Young boys should never be sent to bed... they always wake up a day older.
Just another thing I want to always remember: Mom's bed.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Some Things


  1. My baby is officially weaned--and my breasts hurt.

  2. I look forward to one day hiking without a child in the backpack.

  3. I think it's weird when Jews put out Christmas CD's.

  4. My great-grandma's direction to roast a turkey in an oiled paper bag delivers THE BEST turkey. Every Time.

  5. The pods and I can now sing about six rounds. We have begun working on harmony.

  6. I miss singing with my siblings in the car.

  7. I dislike drinking out of plastic cups.

  8. The little holes in my shower head are plugged by calcium or lime or something. The water pressure that screams through the three unplugged holes can rip your skin off.

  9. It gets to this point at least twice a year.

  10. My family sang "Happy Anniversary to You" on our machine. Who does that? I adore them.

  11. I think about baby names all the time.

  12. I love my small house.

  13. Our children are loud and high energy. So am I.

  14. A friend has his children step on baby wipes to wash the floor. They play "Pippi Longstocking" as they push the wet wipes all over. I'm totally stealing his idea.

  15. Use your pizza cutter to cut the pancakes or waffles for your seventeen children to drastically reduce the time taken to prepare breakfast.

  16. When I was a Senior in high school, the only vehicle available to me was a 15 year old twelve seater van. A gallon of milk had been forgotten under a seat in the middle of July. It exploded. The van never relinquished the smell. Also, a can of gasoline had tipped and spilled. That van reeked.

  17. I never thought I would want a twelve seater van. Oh, how far I've come.

  18. I'm a terrible speller and it causes me a great deal of grief when my spell checker tags correctly spelled words.

  19. I'll write a real post tomorrow. Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I Got the Climbers

Yes. Yes I did. (Please notice the book on the back of the toilet is forcing her to stand right on the edge.)Wish I could say this was an unusual occurrence, but finding a baby on top of something precarious is all too common around here.

No. It is not a boring house. If you are in need of entertainment, you are welcome any time. Also, it will make you feel better about the job you are doing because you are surely doing it better than me. Oh, well.
We are happy.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Mourning

I am typing this standing up. I cannot sit down. It's not because of a bad back or other physical complaint, no, it's because I am weaning my baby. If I sit, she comes crying with a panicked, "I'm STARVING here, mother!!" cry. I watched the entire season finale of Project Runway standing up. I leaned against the door to write my grocery list.

This is my fifth time through the weaning process. You'd think I knew what I was doing. Turns out, each one of these creatures comes with a complimentary Confusion Packet downloaded in the factory. It is meant to knock us more experienced parents to our knees--just when we think we've got it all figured out.

(Incidentally, the longer I parent, the more I see of the evidence of this Confusion Packet. The designer of the software made sure to have irregular incidents of confusing occurrences spring up over a matter of years. They sometime come in bursts and other times lull you into thinking that you've beat the program. Do Not Be Deceived. There is more trickery to come.)

This beautiful child is not taking to any pattern that any other of my previously weaned children took. She seems to be an all or nothing kind of gal. I don't want to cause myself pain, though, so I am taking four days to reduce my milk supply slowly before cutting her off completely. We are down to two, maybe three more feedings. She's kinda mad.

At least I didn't use pepper or Tabasco sauce. I could have been much meaner!

I love nursing. I love holding my soft baby close to me, skin to skin, heart to heart. As I nourish her, I am also nourishing us. The warm milk combined with the gentle hold of her nursing mother soothes away any sadness or hurt. It is something only I can do, and despite my desire to be humble and selfless, I have a hard time chiding myself for this act of selfishness.

So even though I am ready to stop constantly whipping off my shirt (I know--thought I'd never get sick of that!), I am grieving the end of this phase. It's the beginning of not being able to solve every problem that creeps into her life. It is giving up some of my Motherly Powers. It is the first step in a long line that takes a person from complete dependence to complete independence. Monday morning, she will no longer need me for sustenance. I'm GLAD, but I am still so very sad.

Here's to sleeping full nights, wearing clothes that don't require access to my breasts and

sitting.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Getting Things Done

A dear friend stopped by the other day with her cassette player. The world gave a great shove-off and began spinning again. I finished listening to my book today.

I dearly love books on tape. Not only do I "read" a book while doing other things, I often find more things to do, just so I can keep listening. Take today, for instance. I folded six loads of laundry, made angel costumes for seven small ballerinas, cleaned out my desk (no small job), did the dishes, made spaghetti with meatballs (rolling all the meat into small balls, rather than just browning the hamburger), swept the floors and so on. I found myself looking for jobs that kept me in the same room so I could continue to listen.

Now that it's over, I found I need to get another book on tape. You see, the fish tank needs to be cleaned out . . . the kitchen table needs benches built . . . the closets need organizing . . . Christmas gifts need to be made . . . . . . . .

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cassettes



I am on tape eight of twelve. Over the past few years, I have purchased several super cheap cassette players so I could listen to books on tape. Our library is converting over to CD, but they still have tons of books on cassette only. Also, I own several on tape. Last year I bought a cassette player like they have in schools and libraries. It was fairly expensive and I thought, based on it's hardy look, This one will last!




Nope. It is eating tapes.




My only tape player is in the van and I just don't drive that much in my small town.




I feel stranded in the middle of this book. If I sit down to fold clothes, I can't help thinking, I should be listening right now! There are yards and yards on chiffon waiting to be made into angel costumes for the Christmas dance recital. I can't sew in peace knowing I could be finding out what will happen next! I'm telling you, my soul is suffering under a terrible torment.




There are specific instructions given regarding my mother's death that relates to this topic of being stopped in the middle of a book. We don't know exactly what happens on the other side, so, just to be safe, my sister and I promised we would sit in such a way that Mom's angelic self could peer over our shoulder. We are to then slowly turn the pages in order for her to finish whichever book she died while reading.


This isn't quite the same, but the pain caused by suspense is just as real. Does anyone own a cassette player that I could borrow for the next couple of weeks. It may be as serious as life and death--or at least sanity and it's antithesis.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I Believe in People

Many years ago, I witnessed an event. Tears still spring to my eyes when I recall what happened.

I was the second or third car in line at a red light. The intersection was a very busy one with four lanes of through traffic, turning lanes, freeway on and off ramps and a often used railroad track. Traffic was particularly heavy and lines stretched long behind the changing lights. The light in my lane turned green; and this is when tragedy decided to strike.

A man was driving an old, rusty, yellow station wagon. There were four small children in the back seats. He looked a respectable man, but obviously poor. He pressed on the gas at the change of lights and his car bolted, then sputtered, then jerked to a stop. Having driven old cars, I could feel his frustration and his embarrassment. Oh, somebody please help him, I pleaded silently.

Then a most beautiful thing happened. At the head of four of the stopped lanes of traffic sat shiny, new trucks. How they synchronized to be there at the same moment, paint waxed and chrome lug nuts shining, I'll never know. But there they were. At the wheel of each gleaming truck sat a man--a good man. I know they were good men because before the dad behind the wheel of the broken-down vehicle could even get out of his car, these four men jumped out of their cars. It wasn't that one guy got out and the others thought, Well, I guess I should go help, too. No, it was more instinctive than that. It was automatic. Over they ran, dodging traffic, and helped the disable car to the side of the road.

As I drove past, I wondered if each of the Good Samaritans had once been the poor dad in the crappy car just trying to get by. How many years of hard work did it take to finally be seated behind the wheel of their fancy truck? Had they experienced downsizing or did they work full time while struggling to earn a degree? Did their health insurance company go bankrupt in time for them to get sick? Maybe they got a new truck on their 16th birthday and updated every year. Maybe, but I doubt it.

I was reminded of this experience today as I watched a dance team performing at competition.

Everything started out okay for this group of high school aged girls, but about a third of the way through their routine, tragedy struck. Their CD began to skip. It wasn't a quick skip then get back to the song, it was a stuttering, repetitive, persistent skip. The girls shied a moment and looked at each other quickly, but tried to soldier on.

Then a most beautiful thing happened. The crowd began to cheer. A few whooped, someone whistled. The momentum picked up as the audience shouted, clapped, and otherwise encouraged the girls. They kept going while the music was playing it's own happy game. The dancers beamed as they danced the routine they knew by heart--with or without Aretha's voice paving the way.

The song ended and they jumped into each other's arms. The crowd had bolstered the courage of the feeble hearted and they did it.

The world is full of nasty, wicked people. They do horrible and ugly things, but I believe that there is still more good. People are kind, they are generous, they are selfless, and they are loving. I am sometimes criticised for my belief in people (I believed Bill Clinton and the balloon boy's family, for instance), but I would rather be caught believing in the good in people than finding myself doubtful and distrustful. There is so much joy found in hope!

Doing good is a pleasure,
a joy beyond measure,
a blessing of duty and love.

~ Will L. Thompson


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Despite Demon Mommy

I will not go into the minute to hour ratio of trashing their rooms (minutes) to cleaning them up (hours). They can work so fast in one direction and painfully slow in the other. I will spare you the tactics, the rewards offered, the threats levied, the begging that commenced to get the rooms cleaned. I will leap right to the part where Demon Mommy came roaring onto the scene. Actually, we'll skip that part, too. I'll just tell you that Demon Mommy found the most effective way to get a room clean is to eliminate all toys and most clothes. Each child now has three basic outfits and no toys. She didn't go so far as to bring the bags to the Goodwill, but she did make the stipulation that all must be earned back.



Somehow, Demon Mommy missed a few random toy parts. This is what her children were playing with today.


It would be pitiful, if it weren't so tragic.



Work, slaves, work! And you will have actual dolls to put in those molded dresses.



Though, I have to say, I think Demon Mommy has been foiled.

Hot Drinks for Winter

The cold weather is here. My children just went to play at the park. It took twelve minutes to get the layers on them and they were home seven minutes later. Their hands are red, noses dripping and cheeks crimson. The wind and cold have one remedy: hot drinks.

Hot Chocolate is vital, essential, necessary (are those all the same word?), but if you want something different, here are two recipes you'll need to keep your families warm over the next few months.

Wassail
(Have you always wondered what they were talking about in that Christmas carol? Here it is!)

3 c Apple Juice
2 c Pineapple Juice
1/4 c Lemon Juice
3 c Water
1 c Sugar
6 Whole Cloves
1 Cinnamon Stick

Combine all in a large pot. Simmer as long as possible to get the full flavor out of the spices. Remove cinnamon stick and cloves and serve hot.

Spiced Citrus

46oz Pineapple Juice
12oz Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate
12oz Frozen Lemonade
5 quarts Water
2 1/2 c Sugar
1 t Whole Cloves
3 Cinnamon Sticks

Combine all in a large pot. Simmer as long as possible to get the full flavor out of the spices. Remove cinnamon stick and cloves and serve hot.

Oh, baby. Enjoy! (As an added bonus, these make your house smell sooo good.)

*****************
New Post today on The MotherShip Home Schools: Writing Inspired by Aesop

Friday, November 6, 2009

A Day at Public School

My dad teaches fifth grade. My son is in the fifth grade. My home schooled son attended Papa's classroom for the day. It was his first time attending public school.

I was slightly anxious for him, and not because I was afraid of the social aspect or the academic aspect; I was anxious because of the complete newness of it all. He wanted to go mostly because his father and I both attended public school. "I want to know what you are always talking about," he said. Good reason.

When he walked in the door, I asked him about his day. "Long," he said as he slooped his way across the floor, landing in an exhausted heap on the couch. Hmmm, yes, I suppose, for a kid who is used to school consuming only four hours a day, four days a week.

I asked my dad how the new kid performed. He was generally positive, of course--we are talking about his grandson. He told me about some of the work they did. Dad had his students work on some fractions as a group. My pod has been focusing a lot on fractions lately, so I thought he probably held his own. This is the report I received:

The problem they were to solve was, "There were eight kids in the car. They're all fighting because there are only seven Subway sandwiches. How can you divide the sandwiches equally?" [Son] talked it over with his group, walked to the front and said, "Give everyone 1/4 of a sandwich then just throw away the rest."

A student in his group (who knew that he was dealing with his teacher's grandson) added out of the corner of his mouth, "We didn't all agree on that answer."

I asked him about it later and he replied logically, "It was the correct answer because everyone got equal sandwiches and they stopped fighting. That was what he asked us to do."

It is hard to argue with that.

Dang home schooled kid, thinking outside the box again.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Misread

First read this:
Now read this:

For years I have called this store Apostrophe. I think I never really looked at the word, I just glanced and saw apostrophe instead of aeropostale.

It certainly wasn't my fault. Let's blame it on my mind.