Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Weighting Game

"I can't WAIT to go trick-or-treating! Is it time yet?" Even the Princess who hadn't the slightest idea what all of the excitement was about issued an occasional "Boppypop?" Though oblivious about the holiday, she knew one thing: she had been promised lollipops at some point during the day. Yes, it was a true waiting game around here all day as the kids waited for dusk to arrive. When it finally did, they were turned loose (under supervision, of course) in their aunt and uncle's neighborhood. They were quite a sight: 2 knights, one princess, and one ladybug all darting from house to house, their buckets becoming considerably heavier with each stop.

Neighbors were especially generous this year, and it didn't take long until the kids' baskets were close to overflowing. My favorite steals? (And, yes, I said "steals" as the kids do eventually go to bed, leaving me with their loot.): anything chocolate, of course, but I hate to deprive the children, so it's Now and Laters and Bottle Caps. Consequently, and through no fault but my own, this whole Halloween thing becomes quite the weighting game for me.

The waiting game continues for the kids right now as they lay in bed anticipating tomorrow, a day of fewer candy restrictions than days to follow. The natural rules of cause and effect dictate, of course, that such freedom will inevitably mean more of a weighting game for me as well.

(By the way, here's a tip: Should a parent choose to play a waiting game in replacing a missing trick-or-treat bucket, this parent may end up having to purchase a Christmas basket for her (or his) child as a last resort. The Christmas baskets, incidentally, cost 7 times more than those plastic pumpkins.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pumpkin Painting and Other Princess Miscellany

Pumpkins and Waterfalls (minus the pumpkins) 2006

Pumpkins and Waterfalls 2007

Yep. Same rock. And same outfit on our little least her hair has grown!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pumpkins and Waterfalls

Last year, we started a new tradition...well, at least half of a tradition. Knowing our impatience with crowds, I am not sure what possessed us to choose that fall Saturday in 2006 to visit North Georgia's most popular pumpkin patch. But nevertheless, there we were in the parking lot of Bert's Pumpkin Patch along with the rest of the population of North Georgia, North Carolina, and Eastern Tennessee. We really are THAT intolerant of crowds, so we drove on up the road a half mile to turn around and find a pumpkin patch less traveled...and found ourselves at Amicalola Falls, a wonderful state park that features a steep path and steps which lead up to the top of a beautiful waterfall. And so it was in 2006 that we began our Halloween tradition of pumpkins and waterfalls--minus the pumpkins. This year, we decided to carry out the full tradition on a Monday...and with both pumpkins and waterfalls. As traditions go, I think this one's a keeper.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

A Scrappin' Mess

Last year, we started a new tradition...well, at least half of a tradition. Knowing our impatience with crowds, I am not sure what possessed us to choose that fall Saturday in 2006 to visit North Georgia's most popular pumpkin patch. But nevertheless, there we were in the parking lot of Bert's Pumpkin Patch along with the rest of the population of North Georgia, North Carolina, and Eastern Tennessee. We really are THAT intolerant of crowds, so we drove on up the road a half mile to turn around and find a pumpkin patch less traveled...and found ourselves at Amicalola Falls, a wonderful state park that features a steep path and steps which lead up to the top of a beautiful waterfall. And so it was in 2006 that we began our Halloween tradition of pumpkins and waterfalls--minus the pumpkins. This year, we decided to carry out the full tradition on a Monday...and with both pumpkins and waterfalls. As traditions go, I think this one's a keeper.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Laundry Loot

Growing up, I always wondered why my mom "wasted" time going through any and and all pockets before doing laundry. I suppose it would do me some good to do the same, but I never have extra laundry time to waste. So...I just deal with the surprises that immediately drop out of the dryer at my feet as if the little trinkets are anxiously awaiting their escape from the tumbling madness. A couple of weeks ago, I opened the door to have what seemed like an entire beach rain down over my bare feet. "Boys," I asked, "did you put sand in your pockets this morning?" "No," one of them replied, "it fell in."

Today when I opened the dryer, I discovered 3 of those suction cup balls stuck to the guts of the dryer. All I could think was, They may paint my children's toys with lead paint, but, thankfully, they at least use plastic of the quality that can sustain high heat. The suction cup balls kept company with a paper clip, a popsicle stick, a Polly Pocket shoe, an article of clothing for Barbie, a Happy Birthday cupcake insert thingy, a couple of legos, and a hair clip.

What really makes me smile on laundry day, though, is not what I find when I open the dryer door but what is often nestled in the laundry in Audrey's bathroom. Her little puppy wears a girlie pink dress, and every couple of weeks or so, the Princess's homemaking instincts kick in and she deems it necessary to give the dress a wash. So, while I've never actually seen this happen, I imagine she gently removes the clothing from her puppy and tosses it in the laundry basket, standing on her tiptoes to peer in and witness its safe landing. Then with a satisfied giggle, she trots off with a naked puppy in her clutches. And, upon discovering the dress yet again, I can't keep from giggling myself.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Katy Who?

I've started watching a new sit-com entitled Samantha Who?. In it, Sam, played by Cristina Applegate, awakens from a coma. She is subsequently diagnosed with amnesia and thus begins her quest to discover who she was and now is. As she attempts to go back to her old life as described by the few who knew her and liked her, she realizes what a selfish and immoral person she was. She doesn't like that old person at all: she was rude and self-seeking, hadn't talked to her mother in 2 years, had only one true friend, and was cheating on her boyfriend. Now she wants to change for the better but is trapped by a high-pressure job which she must keep in order to pay off the huge pile of debt she accumulated buying shoes and other material items which matter little to her now.

Although I'm a fan of Cristina Applegate and what's-his-name from 7th Heaven and What About Brian (he plays Sam's boyfriend), admittedly, the acting is pretty bad on this show--lots of corny one-liners. So I'm guessing this comedy will not live a very long life; however, it got me thinking: How would I react if I woke up from a coma with no memory? What if, at the moment of my awakening, my loving husband walked into the hospital room with my beautiful, adorable, amazing children and took me home to a house I can't believe is mine where my extended family and a bunch of caring friends were waiting to greet me. And what if he told me these people and things were all a part of my life? Yet I was seeing all of this for the first time. What changes would I make?

I think the first change I would probably make is that I would spend more quality time with my kids getting to really know them. Yes, I'm ALWAYS here with the kids, for the kids, but I don't spend nearly enough intentional time with them. I think in general such an experience would certainly force me to stop taking all of the many, many blessings I have for granted.

How about you? If you had the opportunity to view yourself from the outside looking in, what changes would you make?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Little Rain

We've had a drought here in Georgia this summer. It hasn't become life-threatening, but it is affecting life to some extent. At the risk of sounding a bit corny, allow me to compare this past week to the drought. It wasn't a horrible week by any means, but it wasn't one to go down in the history books either. Regarding our world of academia, school went well, but I hadn't planned as well as usual so there were no giant murals to create, no extraordinary outings, no amusing projects. It was just school.

Thankfully, mid-week my dear husband returned from having been out of town for an extended period of time. And last night came a bit of refreshing rain to combat this life drought: our niece and her college roommate are spending their Fall Break with us, so they were kind enough to watch the kids for us. Mark planned a wonderful evening beginning with a lovely dinner at Bones Steakhouse. From there, we visited one of our old haunts, Cafe Intermezzo. I don't believe we have been there since BC, so it kind of took me back to a life world's away. Not that I would ever want to go back to that life, but the little visit back in time provided a much needed break.

There's nothing better than a little refreshing rain, and I think the drought just may be week looks alive and promising!




Friday, October 12, 2007

Push Buttons and Goody Bags

Sometimes--and especially with kids this young--there are those field trips that are just far more fascinating for me than for my children. Our homeschool group visited the area Christian radio station this morning. While I thrive on hearing the details of the hustle and bustle of advertising, production, and broadcasting, there was a substantial blank look on my kids' faces. However, the day was saved when the children each got a turn to choose a button to push. The look of delight on their faces when the room filled with the station's various jingles was enough to put value on the tour.  And...of course there were the goody bags filled with a station pen, magnet, sticker, flashlight, and various other trinkets.

Perhaps it was the goody bags that caused the kids to zone on the way home when I heard the DJ shout out her greetings to the homeschool group that had just visited. "Guys!" I exclaim.  "Did you hear that? She just said hi to us on the radio!" "Huh?" they all say. Zoned. Although this field trip may not go down in history as the pivotal moment when my children grasped the concepts of marketing and radio waves, pushing the buttons and receiving goody bags made the day well worthwhile.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

MSM Seeking MNR

Married Single Mom seeking Much Needed Rest. Married for 12 1/2 blissful years. Single for too many days in a row this time around. Mom to 4 amazing, energetic children. Seeking a day at the spa or the beach. Or a day locked in my bedroom. Even the bathroom or closet would do.


Wednesday, October 10, 2007 for Kids

If I were to pick one family battle that is on the front lines more than any other, it would have to be the Battle of Getting 'Em to Pick Up After Themselves. Yes, I know this is not a battle unique to my family. But, honestly, does anyone EVER get to celebrate a victory? For us, there have been many strategies, but they seem to do little for our troops: lectures go in one ear and out the other; kind, sweet requests get ignored; ranting and raving make their eyes glaze over; charts and rewards get forgotten by both commanders and charges. So what to do? Well, I came up with for kids.

I assigned each kid a zone (if you FLY, you know what I'm talking about), this instead of just telling them to go clean their rooms since their rooms are full of their own mess; I wanted them to experience the joy of cleaning up after someone else! Each child is responsible for his or her own zone and must have it cleaned up in order to have dinner (don't one's going to starve around here!). They can ask for help with messes that aren't theirs, but ultimately, their zone must be ship-shape regardless of whether any aid comes their way or not.

The kids drew from a hat for their zone. Admittedly, Alex got the worst zone, the one that includes the Playroom/Schoolroom. Day 1 was OK--she rose to the challenge of something new. Day 2? A different story. I overheard, "Boys, why do you have to make such a mess?" (Not that she's innocent of all charges!!) "Boys, PLEASE help me clean this up!!" to my ears!! After she was done, she commented to me, "Tomorrow I'm going to sleep until 8:00 PM." Translation: Tomorrow I'm going to sleep well beyond clean-up time and thus rid myself of duty. In other words, her intent is to go AWOL.

That, of course, was perfect timing for a lecture. Alex, how does it feel having to clean up after everyone else? How does it feel to clean something up just to have careless boys come right behind you to mess it up again? And you've only been doing this for 2 days. I've been doing this for 7 1/2 YEARS! Do you understand?

Point taken. But I'm not sure the understanding will turn into action. I'm not setting my expectations too high.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A Tale of Two Knights and Two Princesses

I really shouldn't be posting these pictures as I'm sure there will be an identical post come end of October. But...this was such an event for us today--checking on for the update, looking out the window for the UPS truck, asking the same question over and over: "When do you think it will come?" Unfortunately, I think we're at the end of our UPS guy's route because he usually swings by toward the end of the day. Today, however, he must not have had many deliveries because he showed up right around 1:30.

The kids were about to DIE with anticipation because I made them finish their school project (a mini-replica of a Viking ship, which would have been much more exciting if it weren't for a box sitting on our doorstep) before we could tear open the box. Finally, we were able to open it up, and I took a quick opportunity to stealthily slip one of Alex's old costumes in for the Princess. I'm glad I thought of that because no sooner had I pulled the boys' costumes out when Audrey peered into the box and said, "Baby?" "Yes, Audrey, you have one in there too. Just wait a minute!"

I do have one thing to admit: we know by now that I'm a bit of a control freak; I may have asserted just a tad of my control into the whole costume decision-making process. We are studying knights in a couple of weeks, and I really wanted the kids to fully experience it. However, with Halloween fast approaching, I didn't want to double-spend on super hero costumes AND knight costumes. So, I them to go with knight costumes (and a princess one for Miss Alex--she didn't take much convincing, though). (For the very technical, I think the boys' costumes are actually crusaders get-ups, but these were the closest thing to knight I could find for the money I wanted to spend.)

Of course it was great fun to try on the costumes. And of course I've already given my speech about how today is just the 9th and we have until the 31st for Halloween, so how many days does that mean we have to take extra special care of these costumes? I'm sure there will be many sword fights in the days to come, and the boys already have plans to wear their helmets to bed and, with their swords and shields, defend themselves from one not-yet-declawed-feline, Sir Stitch.

Miss Alex looks beautiful in her blue flowing princess dress which accents her daddy's eyes wonderfully.

As for the princess, I think living in this family, she often faces the same quandry: To be princess or not to be? Princess or scoundrel? THAT is the question!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Baby Steps to Losing Control

There's this type of mom. She's the mom whose kids venture beyond the playground boundaries to explore the rest of the park, and she doesn't call them back because they're not following the rules. She's the mom who lets her kids play in the mud and delights in their play and even allows them to track through the kitchen to the shower where she giggles with them as she hoses them down. She's the mom who not only allows but encourages her kids to help with the chores even though the window streaks left by eager, greasy hands look worse than the water spots that were on them before. She's the mom who lets her kids help in the kitchen any time even though the cookies may not look perfect, and even though the kitchen is left looking like it went through WWII. She's the mom I envy, the mom I aspire to be.

I'm the mom who's usually not much of an explorer...unless "Exploring" has been penned in on the calendar. I'm the mom who rolls her eyes and scolds the child who splashes in a puddle. I'm the mom who tells my little helper that now is not a good time to help me dust...or I go behind him to dust what he has missed. I'm the mom who tries her best to control the "painting-of-the-Awana-Grand-Prix-car" project even though I said a million times as the project progressed, "I'm just going to let you guys paint these cars however you want" (not that that should have to be said). I'm the mom who occasionally allows the kids in the kitchen, but I hold their hands as they carefully sprinkle my perfectly measured flour into the bowl. I'm the mom who loses her cool if some sugar ends up on the floor. And I'm the mom who makes the children line the cookies up perfectly on the cookie tray...or I re-organize them after the kids are done. I'm very often the controlling mom I don't want to be.

Today I decided to take a baby step in losing control. I asked the kids at lunch if they would like to make Peanut Butter Cookies after school was over. They voiced their excitement, although I'm sure they were thinking, Yeah, right. Mom's not going to really let us make them ourselves. I'm proud to say I let go. The kids had fun, and the cookies turned out great...even with the extra 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda Alex put in, and even though the Princess snuck in at least an extra 1/4 cup of sugar. I was a little too strict on the taste-testing--the kids wanted to test both kinds of sugar. What's the harm in a little sugar? But...this is baby steps, remember? Baby foot in front of the other toward losing a little control.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Learning the Important Stuff...

Michael: Daddy, I learned to hold my toots in today. I needed to toot at Co-Op, and I didn't!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Quiet, please...

...we're in the Hundred Acre Woods. (And we're trying to enjoy the show!) This morning we fought bumper-to-bumper traffic to venture downtown Atlanta to the Center for Puppetry Arts. Last year we enjoyed a wonderful performance of Charlotte's Web, so we expected nothing less for Winnie-the-Pooh. However, it was just mediocre this time. The complaint I had about the performance itself is rather strange, but everyone is by now accustomed to a bit of strangeness coming from yours truly, so here goes: It really creeped me out that they had a man's voice for Christopher Robin! Yes, strange but true.

My bigger complaint was not about the puppets and puppeteers but the audience! Although we were late, everyone else was stuck in the same traffic and trickled in even later than my group. As a result, we got a front row. The rest of the seats were filled by one, gigantic daycare group. I'm not pointing that out because I dislike daycares, but because I know kids get a little less personal attention in a group under a few teacher's supervision rather than lots of mommies. These kids were so obnoxious! Talking and yelling out and interacting with the puppets the whole time. It really became difficult to hear the show. Even little Audrey got perturbed; she spent a good portion of the performance turning around and shushing the loud little boy that was sitting directly behind us. While I would normally shush her shushing, I think it was quite appropriate under the circumstances. The teachers sure weren't shushing anyone.

I'll tell you what, though...being in a full auditorium where your row of kids appear angelic can be a good morale booster!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

An Overworked Mind

I've heard of the movie A Beautiful Mind. Never seen it. But a beautiful is an interesting concept. Enviable really. As for my mind? If I believed in evolution, I'd say it's devolving (is that a word?). I'm sure there are a lot of grandmas and grandpas who would nod their head in sympathy and understanding, but please do keep in mind that I haven't even quite hit mid-30s yet. So this is how my almost-mid-30s mind works: Things are going well. It's only 8:00 and I've taken a shower, had some quiet time, made pancakes, fed the kids, and am now unloading last night's dishes from the dishwasher. Then I get thrown off. Jacob is clearing his breakfast dishes and drops his cup into the cat's water dish. There wasn't much milk in his glass, but I see the water dish needs to be cleaned anyway. I go to clean it. The last time the kids fed the cat, they must have spilled a bunch because there's food under the dish. I get out the vacuum cleaner to vacuum up the miscellaneous pieces of cat food that have gone astray. While I have the vacuum cleaner out, I may as well vacuum up the dust bunnies in the hall that I walk by everyday and that are driving me crazy. As I'm doing that, I notice how dusty the cabinets are. Today's Tuesday. Dusting day. I wonder how many Tuesdays it's been since I've dusted? I really should get right on that. I go out to the garage to get the Pledge and a rag. The Pledge is in the same cabinet as my cake decorating box. I have to teach a cake decorating class next month at co-op. I really should start planning what I'm going to do to teach that. I start rummaging through the box. I think I should start with a list to send out of what supplies people should bring. I go to the pantry to take stock and make sure I'm not missing anything. I wonder what we'll have for lunch today? I look in the fridge to see what leftovers I can scrounge up. The refrigerator really could be cleaned out. I take out some old leftovers. I'm not sure what they were, but I'm afraid to open the container. I go to the sink to wash out the containers from the fridge. I start to put something in the dishwasher. What?! Why are there still clean dishes in here? I thought I unloaded this thing. And what is the vacuum cleaner doing out? And the Pledge? And how can it already be 10:00 and I haven't started school yet? 10:00 means Snacktime, so I'll go upstairs to find a book to read during Snacktime. (The books always distract me.) I find a few treasures in the bookcase that I should add to my lesson plans. Gotta wait for the computer to boot up. Oh, the baby's stinky. I'll have to go up to her room to get a diaper. Who knows what I'll find in her room to distract me...You see how this works? It's stream of consciousness in action. Sort of like a Wiliam Faulkner novel. Believe it or not, I took an entire class on William Faulkner. Even as an English major, it was painful. I mean, give me The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying, and I'm good to go. Throw in 4 or 5 others and enough is enough. See? I'm very good at this stream of consciousness thing. At least I'm using punctuation. And correctly, which is more than I can say for much of the world. Have you noticed all of the grammatical errors EVERYWHERE? Billboards, books, flyers...aside from the Bible, I have yet to read a book that doesn't at least have one error in it. Of course, if I published a book, I'm sure there would be errors in it too. Actually, I did co-author a book with a gentleman whom I found because I wrote him to point out the errors in one of his books. I'm quite obnoxious, aren't I?! But perhaps it's this obnoxious habit of finding mistakes that allows my mind to preserve at least an ounce of sharpness. Of course, I learn a lot homeschooling too. That doesn't sound like something to brag about considering the oldest grade I teach is second, but I learned two things in World Geography today. I learned that the little itty bitty country of Andorra sits on the border of Spain and France, and the Canary Islands are part of Spain. Well, there I go again--off on another tangent...