Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Random Bits


  • Remember these trees?  I recently transplanted several onto my property from under the power lines. We walked back out to the lines just a few days ago and the trees are gone--shredded.  I don't know what they used to cut those trees, but I think it was some crazy Russian vehicle like the one in the new Indiana Jones movie.  You know, the one with the two big blades cutting down the Amazon Rain Forest (or wherever they were)?  There was nothing left.  I transplanted just in the nick of time.
  • Even though I didn't listen to his advice to get a flu shot, I'm glad I have an almost-pharmacist in the house.  He explained to me why children's medication is so carefully dosed by weight, but once you are 12, it is all the same.  "Why," I wondered, "Does you son, who weighs half as much as you, take the same amount of medicine that you do?"  If you need to understand the answer, ask him.  It has more to do with body function maturation and less to do with dead weight.
  • There is a massive difference between a three year old throwing up and the same action by an eight year old.  The eight year old will nearly always make it to the toilet.  This is another reason I am a better mother to older children.
  • It is 12:10 am and I just heard a gun shot.  I do not live in the city--the opposite in fact.  Are there hunters hunting at this time of night--on a school night?
  • Yes, we had a major bug at this house, but the good news is that we were sick before Thanksgiving and after Thanksgiving, but no one was sick on the actual holiday.  
  • Perks of being sick: puppet shows at the foot of my bed, luke-warm tea in a half-filled mug, frequent (and varying degrees of skill) hair brushings, well-intention, full of love, ineffective foot rubs, lots of gentle I-love-you's spoken from sincere little faces--right before they bury their pointy elbows into your guts while trying to cuddle your wilted body, and my husband finally coming home from work and saving me.
  • Also, I had a super good book to read.  Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea by Gary Kinder.  Non-fiction.  It was like reading a Ken Burns documentary.
  • For the first time ever, I shopped on Black Friday.  I was expecting a miserable experience so I arrived two hours late.  I got a perfect parking spot, snagged the very thing I wanted at an incredible deal and, even though I could feel the Dopamine pumping through my veins and I really, really wanted to do some major splurge shopping, I didn't find any other deals on things we needed.  That made me feel even better on the drive home!
  • I have had several requests to build websites for other companies, based on the one I designed in trade for ballet lessons.  I have no idea what to charge.  
  • Living on a dirt road is great for traffic control, but I think my car will always be dirty from this time forth.  I think the next car shall be the color dirt.
  • I am in love with my kids' new pediatrician.  He is a little older than my parents and the first thing he did was pick up my littlest one, kissing her on top of the head while he plopped her gently on the exam table.  Before he began any of the five exams, he asked the children if they were kind to each other, if they obeyed their mother and if they worked hard in school.  He told my oldest that he is to be the example.  That God put him at the first of the line for a reason.  What?  A doctor enforcing good behaviors and had the gumption to discuss God in a public setting?  By the way, no where on the thirty-six pages of history/contact information I had to fill out (no, that number is not an exaggeration) was my religious preference asked.  He reminded my oldest children that they should abstain from sex until married.  No, I'm serious.  He had the little ones repeat songs, nursery rhymes and poems.  They were stumped on Take Me Out to the Ballgame.  Their mother doesn't care much about sports.  I could go on.  Oh, he also checked their ears, spine, and etc. I've seen many doctors and have never had an experience like this.  Amazing.
  • In high school, my mom and I tried this experiment with an over-the-counter teeth whitener.  They were these plastic trays that you squeezed a gel into and placed on your teeth.  It worked fairly well.  I read recently that you could swish hydrogen peroxide and it would whiten your teeth.  Well, I thought, nothing to lose.  I tried it.  It tastes exactly the same as that gel stuff.  I'll bet that gel that my mom probably paid way too much for was just hydrogen peroxide!  Tricky tricksters.  I'll let you know how my experiment goes with the $1 bottle.
  • Last year I really pared down my Christmas decorations.  I still won't fit everything in my little house.  Hey, unless I decorate bedrooms, too!  I think I shall!


Always and Forever,
The MotherShip

Friday, November 25, 2011

Size 9 Boot


Maybe it will be funny next year.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Someday House Master Bedroom Location

Since I recently mentioned planning for when we are grandparents, you know I'm also thinking of when we are elderly.  Both Justin and I have some strong long-lived genes and most of those were happy and hoppin' right up to the end, but there is no promise that one of us won't get to ride around in a wheelchair all day.  That noted, I have a conundrum.  Do we put the master bedroom upstairs or down?  Here are the arguments.

Main floor bedroom:


For the future, main floor makes sense.  If stairs ever become too difficult, we are established there.  If we build a walk-in shower, extra wide doors and put the laundry on the same floor, we could theoretically stay in this house until we croak.

Second story bedroom:


The view, the view, the view.  My 84 year old grandmother's laundry is in the basement.  She considers it part of her exercise to haul her baskets up and down the stairs.  We could always build a master bedroom later as an addition if our knees stopped working.

I don't know.  What would you do?
----------------------------------------------------
Please take these pictures with a grain of salt.  I never expect to have white anything in my house and I do not want a master "wing."  Mostly, I like the massive beams.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I Just Can't Get Over This!

THIS is where we LIVE.


When I was growing up, we spent many days (and not a few nights) in the snowy mountains.  We started cross-country skiing when I was about 9 or 10 and these kinds of trees were a main part of the scenery.  We had to drive for what felt like all morning to get to these trees and NOW they are just out my windows!



This is the view from my front window.  At our old house, when I looked out the front window, I saw Crazy Tom's dog pooping.  Now, this!

And this is the view out of the back window.  All day yesterday I kept finding  myself staring out the window in astonishment.  


They may come a day, say in March, when I'll be ready for less of this white powder, but right now I am thanking my lucky stars.  Next year I will have a guest room and you can come see it for yourselves.

Friday, November 18, 2011

My Prayer Experiences, Part Two

Funny and handy child seat at a rest stop.

After our miraculous arrival at the gas station, we continued on our journey.  Everything was fine, but it was starting to get late.  There is a place I usually stop to sleep.  It is a bit off the freeway and I always feel safe sleeping there.  Once I turn into the lot, I have a little routine to help me sleep.  First, I blast the heat until I have our makeshift beds put together.  I remove my shoes, put the car seat back all of the way, lock all the doors and turn off the car.  By this time, I can usually fall asleep fairly quickly.  I planned on getting at least five hours that night.

Day Two

Even though I was feeling tired when I pulled off the freeway, I could not relax--even after trying all of my insomnia tricks.  The night was cold, so I had to keep turning on the car to heat us up.  The whole time I had this prodding in the back of my mind to get back on the road.  I had one more major pass to get over and I couldn't stop thinking that I needed to get over it before I settled down to rest.  I tried to rationalize away the prompting with no success.  Finally, after a couple of hours of trying to force sleep, I buckled my little one back in and we ventured on.  (After I was over the pass, I did crash for a couple of hours in a church parking lot).

Without taking time out for the extra sleep, I arrived at my destination early and we got back on the road early.  Incidentally, the storm I was trying to outrun on the way down had come after we arrived (though didn't affect that town).  There was a section of road where a crazy dust storm had reduced visibility drastically.  It was pretty bad, but by going slowly, it was passable.  About halfway home, I had my dad check the passes for me.  He told me that the section of the freeway we had just covered had been closed due to the dust storm. If I hadn't responded to the prompting to get back on the road and had slept instead, I would have been stuck behind the barricade of a closed freeway.

With the exception of twenty miles of snow on one of the passes, our return drive was uneventful.  Much of the road was totally dry.

Look what started just after we got home.


Justin measured 8 inches on the garbage can that was sitting out for morning collection.


All of those small promptings added up to a much safer, less stressful drive.

Can we be guided by the Holy Ghost?  Is Heavenly Father actively involved in our lives?

Unequivocally, yes.  This I know.

My Prayer Experiences, Part One

Getting ready for family prayer--many, many years ago!

Two Days Ago

It was time for my monthly run to pick up our son, a round-trip drive of 1000 miles, over three mountain passes. The plan was for me to leave when Justin got home from work, around 6 pm.  Earlier in the day, I heard a news report that warned of a snow storm coming in to town at around 5 o'clock.  Because of an appointment, the earliest I could leave was 4, but I figured that was better than leaving later.  I went to Justin's work and swapped cars (his gets much better gas mileage and has snow tires), explaining that I was trying to outrun a snow storm.

Each time I make this trip, I try to bring just one of the girls.  It makes for a good, long date.  This time, it was the three-year old's turn.  I buckled her in and we took off for the mountains.  In my hurry, I went through two towns and was half-way up the first pass when my glance took in the gas gauge.

Empty.

Not the at-the-E empty, but the below-the-E empty.  Justin had planned to fill it up for me on the way home from work.  I was 35 miles from the nearest town.  It was very cold outside.

The human side of me dismissed prayer, reasoning that it was my fault for not checking and Justin's fault for not mentioning the empty tank.  I thought of my little girl in the back seat.  I did think to pack some blankets and we had some trail mix.  We would have survived, but it would have been a cold  night--especially when that storm caught up with us.

Then the divine side of me kicked in and I thought of the widow who fed Elijah the last of her oil and meal.  And yet, the scripture says:

And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah. 1 Kings 17:16

Dear Father, I prayed.  I know that thou art a God of miracles.  I know that thou didst cause that the cruse of oil should not fail.  Please, expand the gas in my tank.  If it be thy will, help us through.

Putting my trust in the Lord, I did what I could 1.  I held down the clutch whenever I was going down hill.  I had heard that 55 is the most fuel efficient speed, so even though the speed limit was 75, I slowed it down.  Then I prayed that my faith would also hold.

Long after that little car should have run out of fuel, we pulled into a gas station.  Never a sputter, never a cough.

Do you believe our Heavenly Father is a God of miracles?  For me, there is no doubt.

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

1 "If you have a difficult task before you, Heavenly Father is pleased when you get on your knees and ask for help and then get on your feet and go to work. He will help you in all your righteous pursuits, but He seldom will do something for you that you can do yourself."  Reference Link

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Someday House Size

Any of you who have been reading my blog for a while know that I love small homes and am especially enamored with the Katrina Cottages.

They are tiny, but I love that they have just about everything you need, with a super small footprint.  In my head, I have tried to make them work for my family.  Now that I am actually living in a single-wide trailer, I am living in a space that is similar to the Katrina Cottages (only poorly insulated and not energy efficient).  I am realizing that it will not work in a long-term situation.  As much as I love the Ingalls and try to emulate them, we do not live in a two dress society, we have to take more than one bath per week, and we have creature comforts that were not possible in their time (personally owning a library of books, for instance).  A small cottage will not do.  *Sigh.*

Where to go after that?  I have two anecdotes that will help illustrate my house size boundaries.

Number One:

There are two families, both with nine grown children.  One family has no where to go for family gatherings.  Though they all have nice homes--what I would call "normal" suburban homes--there is no living room in the family that is big enough to set up the long tables required for large families to dine.

The second family's mother built this kitchen:


When I saw this picture on my friend's blog after a family reunion last summer, it was like a revelation to me.  Even if it is only for once or twice a year (in the unlikely event that my children do not live on my street), it would be worth having the space to gather.

In addition, I would never want my grown children to delay or never plan a trip to visit me because they couldn't afford a hotel.

Is it weird that I am already planning for when I am a grandmother?

Number Two:

Last year, my niece married a Tongan man.  His family came here for the wedding and stayed with my sister.  They don't really, but compared to the living standards in the United States, his family lives in a grass hut.  My sister has a lovely home, again what I would consider a "normal" suburban home.  When her daughter's new in-laws came, Mollie was so glad that she lives modestly.  She would have felt embarrassed if she had lived in an ostentatious home.


There is the formula:  A house with a large enough kitchen and great room to welcome home my adult children and their families, but not so huge that I would be embarrassed by it.

What do you think about this change of heart?

Monday, November 14, 2011

Autonomy

This has nothing to do with the post, but I think it is a sweet picture.

There is this strange thing that happens at garage sales:  if you don't have something marked, the buyer will often offer more than you were thinking to ask.  I have something like that happening at my house right now.

My girls know they are going to get jobs every day.  I've never established regular chores; no one does the same chore for the whole week nor do they have assigned "dishes" days, for instance.  I think that since we are all home all of the time, traditional chore organization doesn't work.  Although, who am I kidding?  There is nothing traditional about the way I keep house!  I have never done the Laundry Monday, Ironing Tuesday approach.  My great-great grandmother would be astonished at my lack-of-routine routine.

Back to my girls.  Lately, they have been making their own chore lists.  Doggone it if they don't assign themselves way more jobs than I would ever have given!  I think I have discovered a new secret to parenting girls.

And, no.  I will not let them read this post!  (:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Beautiful Winter

I feel very blessed this morning.  Last night we went to bed during a howling rain storm.  Our little trailer has a metal roof and metal walls so a storm is an interactive experience.  The wind blew all the remaining leaves off the trees and this morning, we woke up to this:


This is actually a long while after I initially went outside.  The first time, there was this glorious pink blush in the sky, but my camera battery was dead.  This is what it looked like after the battery was charged AND the girls were all in their snow clothes (a massive undertaking).


 Patches is having a marvelous time in the snow!  He and the other children are leaping and running and jumping and falling in the snow.  Every time one of the girls lays down to make a snow angel, they are attacked by a jolly puppy.

"Patches, give me my hat back!!"  Doesn't he look please with himself?


What a gift to be able to live here--yes, even in my trailer--and to get to wake up to this kind of a vision.


Have a beautiful weekend.

Love, 
The MotherShip

Thursday, November 10, 2011

New Town, New Dentist

One of the things I don't like about moving is finding all the new people you need: doctors, dentists, mechanics, donut shop, etc.  It is risky and can be frustrating if changes are needed.  Today is our first day with the kids' new dentist.


I have had a wide range of experiences with dentists.  When our oldest was two, I took him to the dentist I had been seeing since I was a little girl.  He poo-pooed me with a, "You don't need to bring him in for a couple of years yet."  Since that wasn't what the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry was telling me, I decided to go to my sister's kids' dentist.

If it is possible to love a dentist office, this one was worthy of it.  A great waiting room, the most delightful staff, professional care, and my children loved to go to the dentist.  A perfect score.

Then, we moved.

The next dentist was going to have big shoes to fill, but he didn't even kind of do it.  I won't tell you about the nightmare experiences we had there (and I am a pretty easy-going mom).  It was BAD.

Next, we tried out the family dentist our librarian recommended.  He was good.  Nice, clean office, competent and lovely staff, completely acceptable experience all around . . . except that he made me feel like a terrible mother at each visit.  No, we don't brush enough.  No, we don't floss at all.  No, I don't brush my kids' teeth until they can write their names in cursive--they brush their own.  Yes, we eat candy.  Yes, we eat sugar.  Yes, a couple suck their thumb.  Yes, one bites her nails.

Look, they are at the freaking dentist every six months and they are dressed appropriately for the weather.  What more do you want from me, man?!

With this most recent move, I began looking for recommendations.  You really want to hit the nail on the head the first time around because of the rigmarole of the first visit.  What a pain.  I started with the most recommended and  . . .

they don't accept medicaid.

Second office doesn't either.

Third office only accepts medicaid patients under the age of eight.  Exasperated, I said, "That only covers half of my children!"  Once I explained the situation, they kindly scheduled all of my people.

This is a point I try to make with local businesses:  we are a good investment.  If you get one of us, you're going to get six more (and we won't always be on state insurance).

So, we're off.  Off to fill out general information, medical history worksheets, dental history worksheets, HIPPA forms and Emergency Contact paperwork for them all.  Wish me luck.  I honestly hope we get a hole-in-one.

***

Got another trip planning poll for you.  Top left corner.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

My First Time


I have fair, freckly skin.  Very freckly.  In fact, I don't look as fair as I really am because of my number of freckles--kind of like a red and white striped shirt which, from a distance, looks pink.

But if you could see my stomach, you would realize that Nicole Kidman and I are sisters.

Anyway, because of this fair and freckly skin, I have always been super nervous about skin cancer.  I also haven't had insurance for most of my adult life.  (Well, I've had insurance to have babies, but none for other kinds of doctor/dentist visits.)  Since I also don't have money, I've always had to worry about my skin.

Many of you probably have some kind of issue like this.  If your husband has a dangerous job, you worry about his safety.  If you live on a busy street, you worry about your kids and the traffic.  If your mom had breast cancer, you check your ta-ta's a lot.  For me, it is my skin.  This issue keeps me up at night--wondering if something is wrong and not having the money to find out.

This summer, a small sore developed on my forehead.  I thought it was a bug bite or a zit or something.  It didn't go away--in fact, it got bigger.  It was making me sick.  With all my nerves have been through this year, it was pushing me over the edge.  I finally told Justin I had to go to a dermatologist or I would go crazy from worry.

Yesterday, I took a credit card and I went.  I had him look at every one of my worry spots.  He looked me over carefully with a practiced eye.  He measured the dark spot under my eye that was a gift from my first pregnancy.  He felt the odd lumpy spots and he completely reassured me that I was cancer free.

Then he looked at the spot on my forehead and called it Actinic Keratosis.  Pre-cancerous cells.  (I'm not going to show you a picture because it's gross.)  It was a quick procedure of burning it off with liquid nitrogen.  (Yes, it hurt, but not for long.)  Then, they commended me over and over for coming in.  That this kind of thing can become dangerous.  That this quick procedure was simple, but it could become complex if let go for too long.

I left his office and cried . . . from relief and gratitude.  I am 34 years old so I know there will be many more visits like this, but I now I know what to look for!

Thank you, VISA.  I will pay you back.  My peace of mind is worth every penny--including interest.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Looking for a Job

Dear Dad and Mom,

Don't let this post panic you.  It is not for real.

Love,
Your Finally-Home Daughter

Should we move here?

For the last few days, my husband was at Pharmacy Fair.  Basically, it is an opportunity for student pharmacists to get together with recruiters.  Despite the fact that Justin had several promising interviews, there was a prevailing feeling of dispair among his classmates.  The job market for pharmacists has depleted over the past couple of years.  Many older pharmacists, who would have retired and left an opening, lost much of their retirement savings in the sluggish stock market.  Pharmacists who were part-time have gone to work full-time because their spouse lost their job or has had drastic pay cuts.  And, more students were graduating nationwide.  The thing that many of the almost-graduates don't seem to understand is that there are plenty of jobs; you just might have to move to get one.

Justin is actually in an area where he has a pretty good chance of getting a job.  But if he can't, I say, Let's not move to Anywhere, USA.  Let's go somewhere amazing!  Here are a few places where they are seeking pharmacists--or where I would be willing to go when they do need a guy.

US Virgin Islands

Washington DC

Hawaii

Maine

Alaska

Vermont
Basically, my first choice is here.  But, you never know (a lesson we've learned well over the past few years).  None of these would be for longer than a couple of years, a foot in the door, while we waited for a position to open up in our area.  It would be a great family adventure, wouldn't it?


Friday, November 4, 2011

Bad Books

Couldn't put it down--even to eat.  It has sorcery, but I'm not afraid of her becoming a witch.  Is that naive or its exact opposite?

Last night was Book Club.  We read Brom Stoker's Dracula.  It is a classic by everyone's definition, but it is not a "good" book.  No, I'm not talking about the writing, I'm referring to the content.  It contains gruesome characters, yucky rituals and disturbing superstitions.  That is not all it contained.  I didn't like it, but I'm glad I read it.  I feel the same way about The Great Gatsby, The Jungle, Crime and Punishment and Tess of the D'Urbervilles.  One of the women shared an experience that has had me thinking ever since.

She was reading Dracula on the sidelines of one of her kids' sporting event.  There was another mom there who was also reading, only she was reading a book called, I think, This Book Says the Same Thing as the Bible, Only Worse. (Wow, look how Christian of me to belittle the work of Christian authors!)  Anyway, the lady asked how we could read a book that was so evil and full of the devil.  Unlike me, I don't think she was trying to be condescending or rude.  I think she really wanted to know why a good woman would read an evil book.

Yes, good question.  Why do we read difficult books?  Why do we explore the pages of Frankenstein's journal, why do we read too-real accounts of slavery, or voluntarily slip quietly behind the gates of Auschwitz or the Tower of London.  For that matter, why do we wander the halls of the Death Star or peek into the Pits of Mordor?  Why not only surround ourselves with the Heidi's and the Pollyanna's?

First, how does she know Dracula is an evil book?  He might be an evil character, but he is not the only character.  If you haven't read it, you cannot be the judge of that.  (If you are given a trustworthy review by someone who has read it or if you put it down because of the dark feelings it gave you, that, in my book, counts.)  Some people say that a book I consider scripture is evil, but they haven't read it!  How can you, literally, judge a book by its cover--or its movie?!  

Furthermore, this is the story of lives, only, our lives are not works of fiction.  We have been given this world, so full of goodness with such a source of happiness, that has a major antagonist.  There is an adversary even worse than Dolores Umbridge or any Wicked Step-mother.  Books with a believable villain can give us experiences, albeit theoretical.  I would much rather experience a negative or evil situation through the second hand knowledge lent by a book.  We have to believe that good conquers evil to give us hope that we can conquer the villains in our own lives--and if it doesn't, we need to understand why.  Otherwise, we may not avoid falling into the same traps.  Yes, we have God.  We also have Satan.  If we don't know about both of them, we can be in big trouble.  Parenthetically, I am NOT suggesting we study and learn all there is to know about Satan, so don't take this too far.  I do believe you can read too much about evil people or topics.

I propose that the question, Why didn't you like this book (or character)? is often more important than Why did you like this book (again, or character)?  Is it possible that we can discover who we do not want to be--and who we don't want to have for friends--from the safety of our living room?  Can we, sometimes for the first time, see social ills that we can help change?  Would slavery ever have been denounced by a nation were it not for people reading about its evils in Uncle Tom's Cabin?  Think about those books that have most changed you.  Was it a thornless rose?  

Weigh in.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Someday House Bedrooms for Girls

With four girls, it is easy to do the math: two per room.  I think one in a room is lonely--despite what the ten year old thinks.  I also think two in a room is safer--physically and morally, if you know what I mean.  It's harder to get away with any hanky-panky if your sister is two feet away!

I also know, through hard-won experience, that one and three must be bunk mates, and two and four, roomies.  Any other combination and we have screaming.  From me.

After a great deal of consideration, I am leaning toward attic bedrooms for the girls.  We can easily put two bedrooms in the attic without having to add dormers--which I'd rather do without, if possible.  


Can't you imagine a couple of best-friend sisters enjoying their quiet pillow talk here?


There is the possibility of adding skylights, too.  What a fabulous view from bed--the stars of the 47th parallel, far from any cities!


This is a cute option, too.  A small loft!  If one room had a loft and the other had skylights, the girls could switch rooms every once in a while.  What fun!  OR the loft could be over the doors on the other end of the bedrooms.  Oooo, great idea.


The next two don't have the beds as close, but by tucking the beds into the eaves, it does allow for a little more privacy.  Although, it would be hard to make those beds . . . and you know who has to be putting the sheets on for the next few years!


Look at that darling water closet!  Love it!


And there you have it, my vision for all of my sugar and spice sweethearts.  I don't believe in desks in bedrooms, so we don't need to find a place for them.  Dressers, closets, and the rest will find a space.  And if not, well, I will give them two hooks:  one for their second dress and one for their nightgown.  I'm sure they will love those kinds of options when they are teens!

The TV


I am rather laissez faire about the television.  We do not get actual TV reception, so when I say "TV," I'm really talking about movies.  I usually don't let the kids watch TV until after school (about 1 o'clock), but that is not always true.  Sometimes, the easiest way to keep the youngest from interrupting school is by putting on a some Elmo action, you know?  I have lots of tricks up my sleeve for accomplishing that, it just that TV is the easiest.  The rest of the TV watching is generally under the kids' own discretion.  I do have to say that, for the most part, it is not abused.

This goes to one of my most basic parenting philosophies:  let them choose for themselves as much as possible while you are there to give suggestions and provide protection.

For instance, I have always let the kids play freely during their play time.  I think I heard you just say, "Wow, so generous of you!"  You would think that was a common thing, but it's not!  I know people who do not let their kids climb the ladder to the slide.  Jumping from a high-ish platform is warned against and climbing trees is simply not allowed.  Children can not come into the kitchen because there is hot water there and knives and a stove.  I have to be there to give directions and to sometimes lay down the law, "No, you cannot use that huge knife to make a cardboard ship."  Usually, though, kids are smart--often, smarter than we give them credit.  I never want my children to be too timid to try something completely safe and fun.  The backyard is a great place to learn to listen to your body; when it is okay to push yourself and when your senses say, "Not this time."

This is obvious in a playground or kitchen scenario, but it goes for the dinner table, the entertainment we choose and the friends they pick as well.  Though I am not perfect at this, I try to provide good options and then try to let them choose.

Isn't that pattern we were given?

Anyway, for the last little while, the TV has been on too much.  When it gets to the point where the kids are whining because they would rather watch the boob tube than go outside on a beautiful autumn day, I know we need a respite.  On October 29th, I warned the family that I was going to be taking the TV away on November 1st.  On October 30th, one girl was yelling at another one because, "I want to go outside and you want to watch the stupid TV!  I'm sick of that thing!"  And on October 31st, they all decided it was time to get it out.  They unplugged all of the wires and put the DVD player in Dad's closet.  Getting into the spirit of things, I picked up the television and hauled it out to the garage.  Everyone cheered!  Given a little direction, they themselves chose to unplug.

A few minutes later, my oldest daughter came to me and said, "Mom, you have to see this."  I walked into the living room.  The girls had a card game spread out over the table where the TV used to sit.  I loved her recognizing this as much as I loved seeing the girls use their brains during play.

But, at the end of the month, we'll get it back.  After all, I like my movies, too!