Monday, August 30, 2010


"Mom! The boogers made a gate in my nose and now they're blocking my breath!"

Bad boogers!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


So, we've got some neighbors. They rent the house next to ours and it has been a train wreck waiting to happen from day one.

The neighbors have a slew of children, maybe five at home and two out of the house. Their youngest is the exact same age as my four year old. At first, this was Luke's dream come true, and every morning he would run out to "Play Bike" with his new playmate. They swung on the swings, played in the sandbox, and chased our cat around the yard. It didn't take me long, however, to realize that I couldn't let them out of my sight while they were playing. Presently, this boy has, on separate occasions, given my four year old a black eye and a fat lip, not to mention the numerous times that the boy's father has had to bring back toys that "accidentally" made it out of our garage and into theirs.

It's frustrating, and I now have the full sympathy of every mother in our development, who are always asking me questions and telling me how I ought to deal with the situation.

In the past fews weeks the situation has escalated. The multiple teenage daughters in the home are constantly screaming at one another. They slam doors and smoke behind the house. The profanity is both vulgar and so loud that I can hear it inside my home. And now, I've noticed, that the four year old is consistently screaming profanity right along with the girls. At 7am this morning I took the dog out only to hear the four year old scream "F*** you," at his mother in their garage. I heard this at least five more times out of him throughout the course of the day without leaving my own yard.

Now, I hate to sound snobbish, but this is just not that kind of neighborhood. People are generally "normal." Everyone works hard and has seemingly well-adjusted children. I can't imagine any of the other parents in our development thinking it's ever appropriate to have a preschooler swear. And to think, I gave Luke a time out yesterday because he called the dog stupid!

I'm tempted to call the owner of the home to complain about the tenets. Is that bad? Is that crossing the line? It's been a summer of door-slamming, screaming, and constant juvenile profanity, and frankly, I'm just really sick of having to hear it.

What would you do if you were me and had two small kids who had to hear garbage everyday?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Art Center

I'm no talent in the art department. I appreciate art, but I can't even sketch a decent doodle. When it comes to crafts I'm completely lost.

Instead of doing lots of crafts and step-by-step projects with the kids, I give them paper, lots of glue, and an assortment of materials that they can do anything they want with. I'm hoping that the cultivation in creativity makes up for my lack of structure in the art department.

Our materials vary by availability. I purchase them primarily at the Dollar Store. We've been able to get multiple sized and colored popsicle sticks, foam stickers, fuzzy balls, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, buttons, stamps, and more. I also have markers, crayons, water colors and colored pencils.

For storage I have been using clear glass jars. We have emptied pickle, salsa, red sauce, and jelly jars that are now all home to crafts items.

Of course, it's not completely free-reign. If I left a far of fuzzy balls and a four year old to his own devices, every last fuzzy ball would be glued on one piece of paper. For each craft, depending on the availability of the supplies, I make a 5 or 10 piece limit. It works pretty well.

With the weather so hot and humid, it's nice to have indoor activities ready to go!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010

There's nothing like...

...a neutered Newfie!

I am 70lbs full of Castration Admiration.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


"Luke! You're all wet. Why did you pee in your bed during rest time?"

"Well, sometimes I pee, but then it does a special trick."

"Really? What kind of trick?"

(With an excited grin) "I don't tell mommy, and then the pee dries all by itself!"

Oh boy.

The King (of something?)

After I had my first son, I spent many mornings and afternoons rocking, jiggling and feeding him to the sounds of talk shows in the background. I started my day with Good Morning America, followed by Regis and Kelly, then The View.

It wasn't long before I grew both conscious of what my growing boy was picking up from these shows, as well as bored with the television. Always liking to read, I decided from then on to pick up some well-loved books to see if I could start a new habit of reading during those quite times in the day, or when children were content to play at my feet.

I remember this time vividly; even the books that I read first. I started with Pride and Prejudice, followed by The Count of Monte Cristo. These were books that I already owned but hadn't read. After a weekend at home, I sifted through my mother's books and came home with The Concubine, Rebecca, and The Lute Player.

After that, I was hooked and didn't feel the need to keep the television on all day. As far as my preferences go, if books were food, I like meat and potatoes. I like books with depth, meaning, or at the very least a topic where I can learn something new. I'm not much for mysteries, romance, or anything that would scare me (which isn't hard to do).

If I were to pick a favorite book, it would have to be Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier. Trying to convince me for years to read it, I was convinced my mother was trying to get me to read about some farm woman who planted crops in Nebraska. But no, Rebecca isn't anything like that, and after reading through it once, I read through the entire thing again, so taken by the ending that I couldn't wait to read it again with a new perspective. Since then I always recommend Rebecca to anyone in my contemporary who probably never thought to read a book written before our grandparents' time.

Recently (thanks, E.M.), I started reading my first Stephen King novel, The Stand. It's not horror, vampires, boogie men or gore, and it doesn't scare me. It's actually pretty interesting, and dare I say...deep? However, I'm very torn. The book deals with the classic fight of good vs. evil. That topic isn't new or sci-fi, it's real life in so many aspects, and yet, I'm hesitant to finish the book. Maybe it's because I tend to fright about anything that isn't rainbows and unicorns, but I generally have a deep fear when it comes to even reading about the power of evil, almost as if my knowledge of it invites it into my life. I'm not convinced that's case, and I'll probably finish The Stand because it's really interesting and I'm hoping (and thinking) that the Good Guys will win, but I'll definitely be taking it all in with caution.

Anybody else like Stephen King? Anything to avoid other than Salem's Lot? (don't think I can touch that one).

Monday, August 16, 2010

Oh the times...

Today I bought my first half-gallon of non-homogenized milk. Cream line and all.

I also bought my first grain-sprouted, flourless loaf of bread.


I never would have guessed that I'd be turning into a such a granola head.

Have I mentioned that Spiritual Midwifery is on my Amazon wishlist?

I should stop now before I lose all my street credit.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

From MN.

The family had a mini-roadtrip today and ventured near the beginnings of the Mississippi River. The town of Park Rapids, MN is pretty nice if you like that city along the river, thick pine forests, and lakes everywhere sort of thing.

So, we were a bit surprised when our four-year-old interrupted our tree-gazing to inform us that, "This is where the Devil lives."

Wow! Of all the places, I never would have thought! Lag Vegas? Maybe. Somewhere in Italy where the Vulturi dwell? Perhaps. I would even bank on a few of the historical places where despicable crimes of humanity have taken place. Circus Maximus, Dachau, and Custer's Last Stand come to mind.

But certainly not anywhere in Minnesota. The people are too nice and the land is far too scenic :-) .

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Book Review

I just got done reading "20 and Counting," by Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. This is not a new book, in fact, if it were new, the title would be "21 and Counting," since the Duggars added their 19th child last year. But, it was checked out at the library every time I thought of it until last week.

I ended up reading the book in two days, and those without little children could read it in one. I was sucked in, and while I have watched nearly every episode of their television show, reading their story and how they came to where they are now is quite inspiring. We cut our cable a few months ago, and this show is what I miss the most, in fact, it's the only show I miss :-( .

This family's convictions are quite courageous. They not only have beliefs and values, but they follow them without fail, regardless of the implications. This is not only in regard to their family size, but for instance, they don't agree with smoking, so when they owned a convenience store they decided that they couldn't, in good conscience, sell cigarettes. They knew it would mean less business and money, but they followed through with their beliefs. For some that might seem ignorant, or even foolish, but I found it very admirable, even though I personally don't take a definitive "moral" stance on smoking.

Their book takes you on a journey from their humble beginnings and how they trusted, learned, and took big risks to end up where they are now. The way they accomplished building businesses and buying their home and construction equipment (without debt) is pretty remarkable.

Having my own plights with the laundry routine, I was especially interested in Mrs. Duggar's ideas on laundry and chores. She had four children under four, and then five and six under five. It was then that they made the laundry space also a clothing storage space and made the bedrooms exclusively for sleeping (i.e. without dressers). This was a novel idea to me, and one, after she explained her reasonings, made a terrific amount of sense. Mrs. Duggar had been spending too much time transporting the clothes back into the drawers, and once in the drawers, little hands soon were disrupting the order of the clothes. With the new laundry system, the children pick out their clothes the night before and bring them to their room. Socks and undies are labeled by name in wash tubs, as well as pants. I mentioned this idea to Mark, and we both agreed that it was a great idea. She also dresses many of the children alike, and this she explained, was to make laundry easier. If 18 children wear red shirts, then there's a laundry load of red shirts. Wow, it's almost too easy.

Some people have issues with the Duggars, and while they "put themselves out there" and open their family up to criticism, I don't have anything bad to say about them. There was a point where I had the impression of a type of "moralism" within their belief system, and that they equated their family size with their holiness, changing children from being a gift to a measure of faith. After reading their book, I'm convinced that this is not the case. They simple were willing, and happened to have a perfect storm of fecundity and openness.

As a mother of young ones, I was very encouraged by this book. In fact, I love it. I'm happy that the Duggars are around. Their perspective is refreshing.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Back to School, Blog, and Reality Check.

I've taken my summer vacation from blogging. There were countless times rocking the little one to bed when I had paragraphs of prose run through my head with a perfect blogging title. But alas, after playing at playground after playground, and biking and walking and pulling the wagon and pushing the stroller, once the kids were in bed at night I was pretty pooped out.

I still am pretty pooped out. In fact, the excruciatingly humid days of August have given me the itch for long jeans and cotton sleeves, when day turns to night at a reasonable hour and when the nip in the air keeps the kids from storming out of the house every time the door is opened.

My summer vacation from blogging was necessary because I needed to redirect and focus my goals as a person as well as my expectations for our family. It's not so much that it's been a tough road, but more so that my attitude is having a difficult time withstanding the demands of our days.

A few minutes ago I put away the vacuum cleaner after the kids came in from the sandbox. Sand was everywhere, and I dutifully sucked it up before the hour of naptime came. No sooner was the cord unplugged, wrapped, and the vacuum put in the closet did the little one bring the dog food bowl to the carpet and dump the contents on the freshly. vacuumed. floor.

In May I might have laughed about it. Instead, I begrudgingly took the vacuum back out of the closet, wanting to cry but getting angry instead. The incident isolated doesn't seem like a big deal, if only earlier in the morning my four year old, well-potty trained boy hadn't decided that his "pee wanted to pee on the floor" instead of in the toilet. If only I hadn't spent a hour the day before washing the bathroom with a bucket of bleach. If only. If only. If only, then I might have been able to scrape up some patience.

But how much patience, and how much joy is required in the midst of chaos and repeated mini-disasters throughout the day? It does get overwhelming, and it does get discouraging, and while I want so badly to listen to the mothers of old saying over and over again "Just enjoy them instead of worrying about everything else," at some point somebody has to sweat the small stuff before the small stuff becomes big stuff.

This scenario is darn near reality:

"Hi hunny, how was work?"
"Good, but why are you in your pajamas already? It's only 6 o'clock?"
"Good question, dear. You see, I was dressed this morning, but then Little Joe threw his bowl of spaghettios in my lap. I went upstairs to find a new skirt, but alas, they were all dirty!"
"Couldn't you just throw in a load of laundry?"
"Oh hunny, you're funny! It sounds so simple, but just yesterday I went downstairs to the laundry room, the children follow me down there. I caught Little Joe sifting through the cat litter while I was measuring the OxiClean. I grabbed Little Joe and switched the wash to the dryer one-handed. As I was doing all this, Franci-Pantsi had gotten into the Easter eggs in storage next to the laundry room and was begging to bring up the Halloween pumpkin he stores candy in. After a tantrum and much explaining about the seasons, we got upstairs."
"Oh, so you did laundry after all."
"Not exactly. I tried to utilize naptime to dry and fold the clothes, but I didn't get far enough. The children woke up, and I no sooner had the clothes folded on the table when I turned my back to get Franci-Pants some apple juice. Before you know it, Little Joe had thrown all the my clean clothes on the floor in one swoop of his arm, landing in a mess of sand that the kids brought in from the yard."
"I see, dear."
"I work so hard, but I just can't keep up."

These are the reasons, coupled with my bound responsibility to the situation, why I've needed this summer vacation. I can't help but see the beam in my own eye in regards to the children's haphazards and my reaction to it.

Looking at my (under construction) blog header, I have to ask, "What is so encouraging about my blog? Or, at least today's post?" Well, we can't always be full of inspiration and joy all of the time, so during those moments when we're struggling, the most encouraging words we can hear are, "I've been there, I'm there now, I understand and you are not alone."