Saturday, March 30, 2013

Consider the Gauntlet Taken (Up)

A conversation in my brain:

Right side: There's been some talk about something called an A to Z challenge.  I think we should do it.

Left side:  What does it entail?

RS:  Throughout the month of April, bloggers post every day except Sundays about a topic starting with that day's letter.

LS:  You mean we would be obligated to post something every single day?

RS:  Nope.  We get Sundays off.

LS:  Um, no.  We already have innumerable daily challenges go awry.  We are challenged to get the kids to school on time, and we've rarely done that for poor Turken.  We have a daily challenge to put dinner on the table, and after 14 years, we still aren't very good at it.  Actually, can you think of a single daily challenge we already have at which we are successful?

RS:  Showering.  I am clean on a daily basis.

LS:  And what happens when you get to the tough letters?  We teach the alphabet to preschoolers and play endless games of Scrabble with the boys.  You know as well as I do there are few good words which start with J, X, or Q.  What are you going to do then?

RS:  I will bisect that overpass when I attain it.

LS:  That made no sense.

RS:  There is nothing in the rules that says I have to use the word correctly.  I just have to use a word that starts with the letter of the day.  The dictionary and thesaurus will be my new best friends.  Don't worry, I'll be sure to keep the thesaurus away from the children.

LS:  I vote no.

RS:  I vote yes.

LS:  You are an idiot.

RS:  I am simply trying to get our creative juices flowing and entertain the masses.

LS:  The masses?

RS:  67 followers and untold family and stalkers.

LS:  You mentioned rules.

RS:  Yes, I'm a touch afraid that I will miss one and be soup-nazied from the whole thing. 

LS:  We can get kicked out?

RS:  I'm sure that won't happen, seeing as how I'm not a spammer or advertisement.  Surely, if 1500 other people can do this, I can, too.

LS:  1500 people?

RS:  Yup, we're #1517.

LS:  I still vote no.

RS:  Too bad.  We're doing it.  It starts Monday with the letter A.  Get your thinkin' cap on.


 
 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Quick Takes With a Dash of Parentheses

Seeing as how Good Friday is this week, there won't be any post, let alone a quick take or a Finish the Sentence Friday.  We'll do a little wrap-up today instead.

********** 1 ********
On Monday, my baby Turken turned 5.  I didn't talk it up much because I am still trying to deny it with every fiber of my being.  I just can't stand the thought of my two little boys growing up.  It's so much harder this time around.  With the older ones, I just knew there was going to be an "oops" baby at some point, so their growing didn't get to me too badly. 

There won't be another "oops". 

When these little boys grow, I am done with that age and stage of motherhood.  It makes me so very sad to think of a house without toddlers and preschoolers.

So, I deny.

Poor Turken doesn't get a post devoted to him. 

Thankfully, he can't read and will never know of my lack of gushing.

************ 2 **********

Despite my protests, Turken did get a cake. 

For the Extended Family March Birthday Madness, he was very unhappy with his cake.  He had said he wanted a soccer cake, so I made a soccer ball.  The moment he saw it, his face fell.  "I wanted a soccer field."

So, a soccer field he got for his actual birthday the very next day.

He chose the players on the field...


penguins and army men. 

Not my best work, but I only had 20 minutes.  He was happy, and that's all that matters.

*********** 3 ***********

Hubby and I are rotten tooth fairies.  (Not fairies of rotten teeth.  We encourage our children to brush.  We are rotten fairies of teeth.  (Is that any better?)) We were great at it when the kids were little and losing those first itty bitty teeth, but as they grew, moved into losing molars, and figured things out, fairying just became a chore.

I have been known to find a tooth under a pillow when I changing sheets, then wracking my brain to figure out how long ago the child had actually lost the tooth.

We have had children approach us and say, "So, when do you think that tooth fairy is going to actually show up?"  (Thanks to my overuse of the word "actually" the kids have actually added it to their vocabulary.)

Giant lost a tooth yesterday, and miracle of miracles, he got his dollar the same night.

"How did that happen?" you ask.

Giant was proactive.


We found them all over the house.

***************** 4 *************

It is going to be an emotional couple of months.

You know how I just said I am distraught at the thought of Turken turning 5?  Well, I think it's made even worse by the fact that Phoenix only has 44 more days of school left.  And by "school" I mean a few tests surrounded by lots of activities created to make me cry.

On Friday, the 8th graders will perform a Living Stations of the Cross.  It's an emotional experience any year, but this year my boy and a whole bunch of other boys that I adore will be in it.  As one of the guards, Phoenix will be holding "Jesus'" head as he is being carried out on the cross.

Buttercup will be horrified by my loud sobbing, but I can't care about that.  Her only hope is Cuckoo.  There is a good chance that right smack in the middle of the 5th station, Cuckoo will holler, "I have to go potty!"  Since I didn't make a rainbow cake for Turken's birthday, I doubt there will be much to cry about in the stall.

************** 5 ***********

Update on the foot: 

Getting much better.

Today was the first day that I could ditch the boot.  My foot and ankle have been so swollen I couldn't fit any of my sensible winter footwear over them.  I managed to tie a tennis shoe on this morning, so I went with it.  Perfectly fine alternated with terrible pain.  All-in-all, a not too awful experience.

Now, if I could just get my toes to turn back to their normal color...

************ 6 ***********

Our satellite TV went out yesterday.

Hubby is about to lose his mind.  He actually went to bed at approximately 9:20, claiming complete boredom.  (I'm trying real hard to not be offended.)

After being on the phone with the satellite guy, who told me to turn of the receiver, move the cord, and turn the channel at least 5 times, I was transferred to the "professional" computer expert.  You know, the guy who is supposed to help you without following the script because he knows what he is doing?

Well, my pro must have just gotten his Tech Support award, seeing as how he made me do the exact same turn off the receiver, move the cord, turn the channel song and dance the previous guy did.  Only difference is, he was able to tell me that he thinks the receiver or cord is faulty.  He will mail us a new one for free, as long as we send the old one back and they don't find any evidence of abuse.  (I'm pretty almost sure Cuckoo didn't shove anything in it or whack it with a stick.)

The receiver won't be here for 3-5 days.

************** 7 **************

Do you know what will be happening in less than 3-5 days?

Easter.

The day that Giant will once again be able to watch his beloved basketball tournament after 40 looooong days of zero screen time.  Throughout the games last week, he lived vicariously through his brothers, hunkered down in the next room, our brackets clutched to his chest, listening intently for the somewhat sketchy play-by-play given by his brothers. 

If that receiver doesn't get here, or it turns out that the receiver is not the problem, I do believe Giant will cry.  And then demand I take him to a bar to watch the games.

Don't suppose anyone has a fake ID with a photo resembling my 10 year old?


************ Just a test. ***************

Just a little blog housekeeping.  It seems that in order to "claim my blog" on BlogLovin' (Is it just me, or does that sound like a match.com spin-off SNL style?) I have to put some code into a new post.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Looky there.  A link. 

******** Well wishes *************

Have a happy, happy, happy Easter!

Prepare to Ooh and Aah

Forget unicorns and rainbows.

If you want to be happy, happy, happy, find yourself a field full of ewes and their new lambs.



People, that is heaven on earth.

Well, it's heaven as long as you aren't the farmer who has to go out at all hours in all weather to birth/feed and/or take care of the itty bitty new ones.


That's my sister-in-law.

Since the kids and I were merely visitors to my brother and sister-in-law's, and it was a sunshiny 55 degrees, we found it to be heaven.







 Well, most of us did. It isn't heaven if you are a three and a half year old who is scared of all things furry and four-legged.



My mom brought this lamb outside of the fence, because Cuckoo wouldn't put one toe on the inside.
We finally got him to touch the lamb.


Just this once.
You will notice this one lamb in a lot of our photos.  For some unknown reason, his mother refused to feed or take care of him.  He is the easiest lamb to catch, since all of his feedings are bottle feedings.  Actually, it is the only one Star ever caught.
 

One aspect about a field full of sheep I didn't expect is the noise.  Separated mamas and babies will call to each other until they are reunited.  With this many sheep, combined with this many people holding lambs, there is a lot of separation. 

video

(Thank you, Giant, for supplying the videos.  Sorry, readers, for the frenetic movements of the videographer.  (You may just want to close your eyes and listen.) Besides the sheep, you will also hear my mom laughing in the background and see my brother walking through his flock.)

Each sheep has it's own call, and they can be quite hilarious.  The ewe with the baritone smoker's voice was probably my favorite mama.  There was one lamb that had us all in stitches.  It would do a normal little baa, but then add a scared little girl screech on the end, which took every muscle in her body to produce.  It was so funny, we wanted to take her away from her mom just so we could hear it again.  (We only did it once.  (OK, maybe more like thrice.))

video


(If you pay no attention to the humans talking, you will be able to hear the lamb.  It's a scream that you would never guess could come from a teeny tiny lamb.  This isn't the best example of her cries, but it will give you an idea.)

I also didn't know that mamas will only take care of their own babies.  If another lamb comes anywhere near her, she will head-butt it out of the way.


(I just got word this afternoon that a new lamb died this morning.  It had gotten into a pen with a different mama, and the ewe rammed it and killed it.  Apparently, some mamas are very protective.)

My brother and sister-in-law have 20 ewes, and each one will give birth to either twins or triplets.  The babies that are smaller, abandoned, or sickly are bottle fed lamb formula.  We got to help.



Of course, once you feed a little lamb, you will probably have a little lamb friend for life.



While Turken wasn't afraid to hold the lambs...


he was much happier simply petting the sheep dog, Sarah.


Here's something else we learned.  Always, always greet the sheep dog by name when entering a sheep pen.  If you follow that direction, the dog will be so completely sweet.  If you don't, you will be torn limb from limb.

Thankfully, my kids followed that rule without having to learn it the hard way.

Sarah is not only the protector of the flock, she has also become the adoptive mother of little lost lambs.


The abandoned lamb I told you about earlier thinks Sarah is her mother.  She will follow that dog all day long, and then cuddle up to sleep with her at night.  Cutest.  Thing.  Ever.  Ever.  Ever.



Some of the ewes have yet to give birth.  At least 12 more babies will be in the field when I return to Kentucky at the end of April.  My lands, I cannot wait.



These two stood in the middle of the field for a good long time.  It completely looked like they were gossiping up a storm.  "Can you believe how she lets her lambs get away with such nonsense?  When I have my babies, they will most certainly be taught how to show some manners!"
To put my obsession with these sheep in perspective:

We were in Kentucky to celebrate the five March birthdays (including Buttercup's and Turken's) in my extended family and my niece's baptism into the Church of Latter Day Saints. 

I took 463 photos.

459 of them were of sheep.


Ob. Sessed.  (This completely blog thing of separating words and using periods sometimes annoys me.  Other times, it is just a handy way to emphasize a point.  Point.  Made?)

Have a lovely day!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday Listicles - The Elusive Spring

Dear Mother Nature,
I hate you.
Love,
Christine

(In Mother Nature years, I'm still a teenager.)

I took the kids to Kentucky for a wonderful day of spring weather, baby lambs and all.  (most adorable photos will come tomorrow)  The kids even got a sunburn after being outside for 6 hours straight.

Gorgeous day, I tell you.

Then we came home.  It is snowing in Indiana.  Again. 

The weathermen and their yardsticks are back.  Even the snow plows are sliding off the road.

Bah. $%&*.  Humbug.

According to the calendar, and many, many people who live in better parts of the country, spring is here, so Stasha has chosen the topic 10 Things Spring for our Listicle today.

Here are ten things our family would be doing if Mother Nature got her act together and flipped the flippin' spring switch.

1.  Gathering/chopping/mulching the branches and twigs littering the yard.  It's been a long, windy winter, so there a whole mess of them out there.  We will then be able to spread that mulch all over our "flower" beds.  There won't be any flowers in the flower beds, seeing as how the dogs find the flower beds to be the best places to dig holes and have a little lie down.

2.  Disposing of the dead animals the dogs have killed over the winter.  First up is the massive opossum decorating the front yard.  I'm sure there are plenty of moles, mice, and various other creatures dotting the property, frozen and completely not decomposing because of the unusually long, cold winter we've had.

3.  Plowing and planting.  The lettuce and spinach seeds are patiently waiting.  They'll be first up.  Then the strawberries, garlic, beans, potatoes, peppers, tomatoes...So much planting. 

4. Mowing the yard.  We can't say lawn, as there are more weeds than grass, but it still needs mowed.  In spring, the yard takes on that sickly look, with some spots being a foot tall, but others still barely an inch tall.  It should be time for us to get the Dixie Chopper up and running so we can spend four to five hours each week keeping the yard under control.

5.  We can't waste all of those grass clippings, so we'll be raking and spreading them on the newly plowed and planted garden.   Lots and lots of raking, hauling, and spreading.

6.  Fixing the pig pen fence.  The new batch of hogs will arrive early April, and the fence has seen better days.  If the fence doesn't get some TLC right quick, those pigs will become free-range, dead pigs.

7.  Completely redesigning the chicken run, including putting up new fence and net cover.  The new chicks will be arriving in late May/early June, and we are determined to keep our new flock of chickens alive.  We are giving up on the completely free-range and going fenced in.  Those coyotes and dogs aren't getting any more meals from our coop!

8.  Soccer games will begin he weekend of April 13.  That means we get to pack up the car with chairs, umbrellas, blankets, soccer balls, and toys for the little boys.  We need to be ready for the rain, mud, and cold temperatures we will encounter on our weekends of non-stop soccer games.   

9.  Do the winter/summer clothes shuffle.  Haul the boxes out of the basement.  Try on clothes previously worn by other children.  Figure out what needs purchased to fill in the holes.  Then separating and boxing up the winter clothes into the appropriate totes.  The fun part starts after the major hauling is done and the boxes are back in the basement.  For 5 months, every single time I do laundry, I will find one item of clothing that should have been included in one of those boxes.  Do I let them pile up and do it all at once or find the correct box each and every day as I uncover the loose items?

10.    Clean up all of the dog poo before the kids step on it.  Picture it:  Six kids fanning out over a field, shouts of, "I found some!" coming fast and furious as I run around with a shovel, picking up each and every poo pile the children locate.  It's kinda like our own little Easter egg hunt.  Without the candy, of course.

Dear Mother Nature,
We apologize for our mother.  We believe you know what you are doing.  Keep up the good work.
Love,
The Coop Children

Have a lovely day!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Just Call Me Quick

 Joining Jen again with some takes that are quick.  For real this time. 

************ 1 ***************

At dinner the other evening, the sound of passing gas broke through the chatting.  Cuckoo sheepishly raised two fingers and said, "I tooted."

One of the big kids must not have heard and asked, "What?"

Cuckoo held up three fingers and said, "I threeted."

Pause.

"Which means fart."

Cuckoo is now a full-fledged, card-carrying member of the He-Man Woman Haters Club. 

Hubby couldn't be happier.

**************** 2 ***************

I took the kids to a wonderfully historic ice cream parlor today.

#Ineedalongertongue


(Just curious, did I use that hashtag correctly?  I've never tweeted in my life, but I want to give folks the illusion that I'm cool.)

************ 3 **********

This next take happened more than a week ago, before the foot injury, but I kept forgetting to write it down.

Me to Hubby: I know you won't believe me, but I've actually had the urge to go for a run a couple of times lately.

Hubby's response: A run to the bathroom? I do that several times a day. It's called getting old.
 
************* 4 **********

People who do landscaping for a living should have a gorgeous yard.  Folks who paint houses should have a house free of peeling paint.  It's just good marketing.   Clearly, this guy didn't get the memo.



Unfortunately, we were going 60 mph on a freeway, Buttercup was taking the photo, and we were two lanes away from the van.  I reeeeeeally wished she would have gotten the back of the van in the frame.  This take would have been a whole lot funnier.

************* 5 *************

We are in period of transition.  Three pizzas aren't enough to feed our family, but four are too many.  We got four last time (each a different kind), so there were some leftovers, which we consolidated into two boxes.  I saw Hubby writing on the boxes, and I said to him, "Aren't you smart, labeling the boxes?"

He spoke not a word.

The next day, I found this in the fridge:


On his headstone, it will read, "He was helpful."

****************** 6 *************

On Saturday, Buttercup, her friend, and I got to spend many long hours at the regional science fair.

I hate science fair projects, for many, many reasons we won't go into now.  Let's just say, I'd rather pluck every single hair off of my entire body (I've given birth to five boys, which filled me with lots of testosterone.  There is a lot of hair growing in lots of odd places. (That probably went too far into TMI, didn't it?  (I needed to make a point.  You'll live.))) than spend many hours at a science fair.

The girls didn't seem to appreciate my generosity in agreeing to take them.  Their body language seemed to be saying, "I do not want to be here."   The feeling was confirmed when they said, "Do we really have to stay here?"

If I am spending many hours doing something I don't want to do for my child, my child better be thrilled with whatever it is we are doing.

They darn well should have looked like this:


(Buttercup may be kinda, sorta, probably mortified when she sees this.  Her friend will be cracking up.)

****************** 7 **************

See?  Quick.


Have a lovely day!

7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 211)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

ZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Ever since September 3,1998, I have been a light sleeper.  Six straight years of pregnancy and nursing will do that to a person.  (FYI, exclusive nursing does not guarantee a hiatus from pregnancy.)

We never used a baby monitor.  I woke enough with their hunger/puke/poop/ear infection/can't find my pacifier cries.  I didn't want to be awoken every time a baby sneezed.

By the time each child turned one, he was a great sleeper.  One would think that at the point they all were one or older, I'd finally get some sleep.  One would be wrong. 

My body was so used to getting up all night, I couldn't just switch it to sleeping all night.

Plus, even the best sleepers have occasional bad nights.  Wetting the bed, nightmares, coughing fits, and lost blankies are going to happen sometimes.  Multiply the number of kids times the number of occasional bad nights, and you have very few good nights for the mom.

Now, some of you may wonder, why didn't Hubby take care of some of the nighttime issues?

Well, because I learned early on that Hubby is useless in the middle of the night.

First off, he sleeps like the dead. 

An example of how hard he sleeps:

One night, a baby cried and woke me up.  As I was getting out of bed, I saw itty-bitty Buttercup sleeping on Hubby's chest.  He was on his back, and she was stretched out on top of him, from his chin to his knees.  This was very unusual, seeing as how we NEVER invite children into our bed in the middle of the night.  I woke him up and asked, "What is she doing here?"

His answer?  "I have no idea.  I didn't know she was there."

Cross my heart and hope to die, that is exactly how it happened.

One morning he made the comment, "The baby slept well last night."  He never made that mistake again.  I basically ripped him a new one, screeching, "I go maybe four minutes of sleep last night!  You just slept through it!"

So, on those rare nights that I just couldn't get up one more time, I would kick Hubby and say, "Your turn." and roll back over. 

I almost always regretted that decision.

He sleeps so soundly, he is completely disoriented when awoken.  Combine that with the fact that he cannot see a daggum thing without his glasses, and we have a hit, completely embarrassing Youtube video in the making.  Except it's not funny at 2:17am, when I am muttering fortheloveIjustneedsomesleeptakecareofthissoIcanclosemyeyesfortenstinkinminutes into my seldom-used pillow.

If, by some miracle, he makes it to the child's room, he has no flippin' idea what to do.  When the kids were babies, he'd try the pacifier or blankie, then give up.  If it was a coughing child, he would just leave child, saying there was nothing he could do.  No hugging.  No cuddling.  No lying with the child for a bit.  Not because he didn't care, but because his brain just doesn't function when the sun goes down.

Heaven forbid there be a diaper blowout or vomit in the room of the crying child.  At that point, Hubby just screams like a little girl.  "Help!  I need some help in here!"  In daylight hours, he is no good with big messes.  At nighttime, he just panics.  Panics, I tell you.  Like the poo or vomit is going to jump up and smear itself all over him, and he is helpless to stop it.  I have to get up and calm him down, then give him directions on how to get it all cleaned up.

Bless his heart, he has tried.  He tried and tried and tried.  Finally I just gave up.  I will be awake regardless, so I might as well let him keep sleeping.

Over the last few months, I have realized something about my sleep.  If I go to bed at my usual 10:00, I will not be able to fall asleep easily after being awoken by a child or a couple of dogs trying to kill an opossum that wandered into our yard.  This leads to exhaustion the next day.

However, if I wait until 11:00 or 11:30 to go to bed, I can fall back to sleep quite easily after a 2:00 Cuckoo bathroom run.  Plus, I won't be dragging the next day.  So, of course I've been going to bed later these days and sleeping quite well.

Yesterday morning, I mentioned to Hubby that the little boys have been doing well, not getting up to go to the bathroom or anything recently.

He looked at me like I was nuts.  "Cuckoo has been up at approximately 2:30 every single night.  You've slept right through it."

Sweet mama. 

After 15 long years, my dues have been paid in full.

Hubby is now The Nightwatchman.

The kids may suffer for it, but at this point, I don't know if I care.

I'm getting solid sleep.

And It. Is. Awesome.

Have a lovely day!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Listicles - My Husband Is Awesome

My husband cracked some joke at my expense, and I warned him that he better be nice.

Me:  Our Monday Listicle this week is 10 Ways Your Partner Is Awesome.  I don't have to write one.  Or I can really, really make fun of you.

Him:  Am I going to have to write it myself?

Me:  Ooooh, would you?  That would be hilarious!  Please, please, please???

Him:  No.

Me:  Come ooooonnn.  Please.

Him:  Alright, but you'll have to ghost write it for me.

Me:  You'll dictate it and I'll add the bling?

Him:  No, more like you write it.  The whole thing.  As a ghost writer.

Fine. 

5 Reasons My Wife Thinks I'm Awesome by Hubby, Ghost written by me, as Hubby wanted nothing to do with it. 

1.  I can still wear the same clothes I wore in college.  Yes, he can.  He wears his humongously oversized water polo sweatshirt from 1989 from the moment he gets home.  As for his size 28 pants, not so much.  Either way, the rule still applies:  Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

2.  I can tell a seriously funny bodily function joke.  While it is true he can come up with a funny flatulence pun, it really isn't a reason that I find him to be awesome.  He's basically ruined our family with it.  For example, we all went to a Boy Scout Court of Honor in which four boys we know became Eagle Scouts.  The ceremony was an hour and half long, including speeches from the parents, awards from the scout leader, and the scout oath being recited by the four boys.  A real tear-jerker, even for the dads.  On the way home from the event, Turken spoke first.  The only thing he took away from it?  Referencing the line from the scout oath that says, "I will do my best to do my duty,"  he recalled, "They said doody."  Every single member of my family proclaimed, "I thought the same thing when they said it!" 

No, that is not a quality which I find awesome.

3.  I buy jewelry.  Yes, I may have made a mistake when I bought her the bathroom scale, but I've learned.  Ask her for a peek in her jewelry box.  Yes, he does buy some nice jewelry.  Beautiful pieces that don't match the conservative cardigans I wear almost every single day throughout the winter, or the t-shirts I sport all summer.  I feel badly that I don't wear them.  Even on the one night a year we dress up for his firm's Christmas party, the jewelry rarely matches my chosen dress.  I do wear my bracelets, but the necklaces are hard to pull off.  Perhaps if he gave me pearls, I could be like June Cleaver.

4.  I bring flowers home on random days throughout the year.  I agree.  This is awesome.

5.  I agreed to buy the farm.  She fell in love with the house, whilst I did not.  I knew it was going to be a lot of work, and probably a lot of money, but I let her buy it anyway.  Hot bunch of hooey.  Kinda.  He likes the property.  He likes the garden.  He likes the pork in the freezer.  He likes the history of the place.  He does hate the money-pit part. 

*********************************************

As any reader of this blog knows, I make fun of Hubby all the time, and he's a great sport about it.  I hope readers also see how much I love and appreciate him.  In case that is not true, I'm just going to lay some things out for you.

5 Reasons My Husband Really Is Awesome.


1.  He has never one time complained about my homemaking skills.  Terrible dinner?  He eats it.  Messy house?  He steps over the clutter on his way to give me a kiss hello.   The children have me frazzled and exhausted?  He tells me to have a seat and relax.

2.  He is the perfect dad for sports-minded children.  He stands on the sidelines, showing support without saying a word.  He doesn't yell at them.  He doesn't tell them what to do.  He treats them as the kids they are, with no agenda of getting them scholarships.  Plus, he understands their love of watching games.  He appreciates their obsession with the statistics and the brackets and the rosters.  He enjoys sports talk and game watching right along with them. 

3.  He is the funniest person I know.  I know a lot of funny people, and he makes me laugh more than any one of them  (I'll admit, even the bodily function jokes make me laugh every once in a while.)

4.  He is a goal-setter/long-term planner.  It is the perfect yin to my "Look! Squirrel!" yang.  We would never be able to help our kids through college, and we'd never be able to retire without his foresight.

5.  He encourages every decision I make.  From being a stay-at-home mom to taking the kids on a spring break trip without him, to sleeping in on Saturday, he does all that he can to make it happen.

****************************************

Head on over to Stasha's to read about some more awesomeness.

Have a lovely day!

I'm Not Knowledgeable, But My Friends Are

So, I don't know if you've heard, but Google Reader will become obsolete come July 1.

Yeah, I've heard, but I have not one iota of a clue what that means.

There is also talk of GFC (that thing in the sidebar that shows all your lovely faces as followers, not the food/supplies chain here in the Midwest) maybe going by the wayside.

I am not a computer person, I simply play one on my blog. 

Fortunately, one of my wonderful blog friends is a nerd (her word) who figured some things out and relayed them to her audience. 

She is my hero.

So, I followed her directions, which took all of 1 minute, to get this bloglovin' account.  It is my backup for when google reader and maybe GFC are gone. 

Look at me.

Ahead of the game.  July isn't for months, yet I'm ready.

That is so unlike me.

If you are curious, or confused, or just want to do it 'cause that's what all the cool kids are doing, go to Kellie's little tutorial.

She's really nice.

Scroll down in the post's comments to mine and you will find the instructions to get that jazzy little button in my sidebar for bloglovin' followers.  (There are fancier, bigger ones, but they were a bit too much for me.)

Good luck.

May the force be with you.

(Isn't that what nerds are supposed to say to each other?)

Have a lovely day!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Is It a Sin to Discuss the Pope and Poop in the Same Post?

I'm linking up with the quick takes today.

**************** 1 ***************

The kids got in the car after school yesterday, yelling, "We have a new pope!  There's white smoke!  Drive fast so we can get home before they announce  who it is!"

Reason #428 why I love our Catholic school.  The kids had one eye on the chimney all day long. 

We got home with seconds to spare.  As soon as we turned the TV on, the red curtain was pulled aside.

The kids cheered. 

When Pope Francis asked for a blessing before he blessed the crowd, and we all stopped to pray, tears actually came to my eyes.  I wasn't expecting that. 

I'm excited for this new chapter in the Catholic church.

******************* 2 **************

We have a blue hand towel in the downstairs bathroom.  Usually it is the only one, since I wash it and put it back before the kids get home.  (Or don't replace it, and they wander with dripping hands into the kitchen.)  After the great purple poo debacle, I knew that the cleanliness of the towel had been compromised.  I grabbed a new hand towel out of the cupboard, and, since I couldn't walk to the spot where I normally put dirty laundry, I just threw the dirty towel in the general direction.  My plan was to inform someone that it needed to be washed.  In hot, hot water.

The next day, when I went to the bathroom, I found that dirty towel hanging right next to the clean one.  Ugh.  I had forgotten to inform someone.  I once again threw it, this time even farther.

Tuesday, after the kids were in bed but before Hubby got home, I went into the bathroom, and AGAIN found that stupid dirty towel.  Why is no one home for me to tell?!?!  I put all of my muscle into throwing it into the next room.  And promptly forgot, again, to tell Hubby when he got home.

On Wednesday, I went to the bathroom one more time.  AAAAHHHH!!!!    That towel was once again hanging next to a clean one.  Flippin' flappin' filthy flippin' flappin' getting filthy purple poo germs all over my flippin' flappin' filthy house!  It's like a bad horror movie where a stalker is subtly making himself known.  Except I know who the antagonist is.  My Hubby.  Trying to tidy up.

I was able to walk a little bit better on Wednesday, so I went all the way to the dirty laundry basket and deposited the offending object. 

***************3 ************

Every day, Cuckoo goes to the bathroom in our downstairs bathroom, one room away from where I've been laid up (the same bathroom of the dirty towel from above).  Except for the past two days when, for some reason, he keeps going up the 15 steps, across the landing, down a hall, through my bedroom, and into our bathroom to relieve himself.  And then he screams bloody murder for me to wipe his bottom.  There ain't no way I can make that trek, so I yell to him, "For Pete's sake, wipe your own bottom!"  He then cries, saying he can't reach the toilet paper.  I send Turken to help with that problem.  He then yells to me, "There's poop on my pants!"  

Crap.

I make my way to the bottom of the staircase and tell him to come to the steps.  From 12 feet away, I have him show me his pants.  Poo is all over the front of them. 

"Honey, how did you get poo on your pants?" 

I sat on them to put my underwear on."

Well, at least his bum got wiped.

************** 4 **********

Why is it that the injury of my foot leads to so many darn posts about bathrooms and poo?

*************** 5 **************
I am a mean mom.  Instead of trying to make Lent easier for my kids, who chose to give up some very difficult things, I rub it in.  Not on purpose, mind you, but I'm not so sure it matters.

Star gave up ice cream (his favorite food in the entire world) for Lent, knowing that he would not get to participate in our weekly trip to Steak 'n Shake for milkshakes. 

This week, Dairy Queen is selling Blizzards BOGO for 99 cents, so instead of milkshakes, we went to Dairy Queen to celebrate the first day of spring break.  Poor Star sat there with his cup of water and watched us all enjoy our ice cream. 

Yeah, I'm thinking he's going to be telling people about this someday.

************* 6 *************

Two years ago, my youngest brother and his wife built a house on a large plot of land and started a little farm from scratch.  My sister-in-law grew up riding horses and went to school to be a vet tech, so they are much closer to being real farmers than Hubby and I are.  They went all in, with horses, chickens, cows, and now sheep.  When we visited them in January, their cow and all 20 sheep were pregnant.  They have been on baby watch for a couple of weeks now.

My brother called me today. 

Our conversation:

Him:  I'm a dad!

Me:  Is it a calf or a lamb?  Did you have to help it along?

Him:  A calf, and none of us were home.  I got a call from (their 10 year old) when he got home from school, screaming that the cow had given birth.

Me:  You realize that you didn't call me when your actual human children were born.

Him:  My human children don't translate into cash in my pocket.



True 'dat.

***************** 7 **************

It's the first full day of spring break.  My foot is in a boot, and in the out-of-doors it is freezing cold and snow flurry-y.  Can't wait to see how this week turns out!

Have a lovely day!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Giant Pencil Is Revealed

So, you might recall the day I told you about the very immature conversation about a giant pencil.  The thought of my straight-laced husband using a giant pencil at work just sent us both into hysterics.

When I wrote about it, dearest Considerer immediately got on Amazon and found a giant pencil for me.  I ordered it.  The delivery to his office was to take place somewhere between Feb. 13 and Feb. 20.  I was hoping it would be on the 14th, so I could say it was a Valentine's Day gift.

The 14th came and went.  I didn't say anything to him, as I wanted it to be a surprise.

Each day, I patiently waited for him to call and say, "I got a giant pencil in the mail today."  Or something funnier.  'Cause he's a funny guy.   Each day, I woke up wondering if today would be the day.  Honestly, I was so excited for this stupid pencil to arrive, I can only compare the feeling to "Is this the day?" of waiting to have a baby.

Yes, I was that excited.

The 20th came and went.

Now I was worried that it was lost in the mail somewhere.  Or got delivered to the apartment we lived in 15 years ago.  I looked up the tracking info to discover that it had been delivered to his building on the 13th of February.

I was going to have to ruin the surprise and ask Hubby to track it down.

I called him.

Our conversation went something like this:

Me:  I ordered a giant pencil for you for Valentine's Day and the computer says it was delivered to your office over a week ago.  You're going to have to find it in your building somewhere.

Him:  It's in my desk drawer.

Me:

Him:  I got it a while ago.

Me: 

Him:  I wanted to tell you I got it by sending you a photo.

Me:  I have been patiently waiting for you to receive this pencil for weeks, all excited for the call where you laugh and laugh and tell me how awesome it is, and you are telling me you've had it in your desk drawer for over a week???

Him:  Yes.  If it makes you feel any better, I laugh every time I open my drawer.

Me:  Um, no, it doesn't.  We're supposed to be laughing together.  So why haven't you taken the photo???

Him:  Well, it's not something you can ask just anyone to do.

I had to laugh at that, because it is completely true, and I hadn't thought of it.  The idea of him asking one of the many fuddy-duddy attorneys he works with to take a photo of him at his desk with a giant pencil is hilarious.  Really funny.  Imagine:  Excuse me, Bob, but would you mind coming to my office to take a photo of me with a giant pencil?  Besides the ridiculousness of it, there could be accusations of harassment with a question like that.

Him:  Plus, we just handed out the split decision (He's on the committee that decides every one's pay and bonus for the next year.) and there aren't a lot of people who are happy with me right now.

Me:  Ok, I'll give you that.  But what about your secretary?  She would find it amusing.

Him:  Yeah, there are some things going on with her.  She's not exactly in a position to find humor in much of anything these days.

Me:  Arg.  What about _____?

(Do you love how I'm brow-beating the man to enjoy a gift I gave him?  Because the gift really was all about me.  He doesn't have enough pressure with the office problems.  No, I have to stress him out about getting his photo taken with a giant pencil.   I am the MOST supportive wife.)

Him:  Well, he hasn't been in much, with his son and wife having so many health problems recently.

Me:  Just bring the dang thing home then.  At least I'll get to see it, since you are seriously sucking the fun out of the whole thing.

(Yup, nothing but supportive.)

Him:  No, I'll get a photo.  I promise.

Me:  Whatever.

(I'm around kids all day, and apparently they are rubbing off.)

A few days later, I got an email from Hubby.  The subject line said, "Working hard."


Awesome.

Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

We Are Family

Last week, Turken's class had its open house.  All the families went to school to view a bunch of work the kids had done throughout the year.  My favorite activity each year is the one in which the child draws a picture of his family, then dictates a little bit about each person.

When the big kids were in preschool, these drawings were just cute.  Not too revealing, seeing as how we lived in a bubble that I controlled. 

This is Giant's drawing from five years ago:


The sweet boy.  About himself he said, "I like to color pictures for my mom."  All he has to say about his siblings is that they like to play sports.  About his dad, he says, "He goes to work and he takes us to school.  He's sick right now."  And about me, "She likes to play games with us.  She likes to read her books when she eats."  (So true.)  While he is meticulous in his drawing, lining everyone up and drawn exactly the same way, there really isn't much to say. (Although, this was done riiiight before Turken was born, so I'm a bit surprised he didn't mention it.)

Skip ahead a few years, and the picture the preschooler makes reveals so much more.

This is Turken's picture:


Let's break it down, shall we?


According to Turken, these are the two social members of our family.  Both enjoy playing with their friends.  Hilarious that he wrote about Buttercup not liking homework.   Last quarter, she got into some serious trouble for not turning homework in.  (Those problems have been addressed and she is on board with the homework must be done on time philosophy.)  With so many family members to draw, the poor kid must have started to get a cramp.  She didn't get hands or shoes or a colored shirt.  At least she got hair.


 One constant for all the kids is Dad.  Each one has always described him as a the guy who goes to work and takes them to school.  He got shoes, but no hair.  Probably because he is almost bald in real life.


This would be Star.  When he says "plays volleyball", there is no net, as it is played inside the house.  They used to play basketball inside, too, but then a window and two lightbulbs got broken.  And sparks waterfalled out of one of the lights that broke.  They took a break from basketball after that.


Here we have Giant.  Once again, we see how Turken really sees things.  Giant "has coloring homework".  Giant is in 5th grade, but he has spent hours and hours coloring for school.  His teacher really likes coloring papers.  Poor Turken.  All he wants to do is play a game with Giant, but has been turned down time and again because Giant has to color his homework.  

I love the shape of Giant's head.  I'm assuming it's flat because he didn't want to overlap the feet of the person above.  And he got a neck.  I think.  Or he was hungry and dreaming of muffins when he drew it.


I'm shocked that this is all he had to write about Cuckoo.  The boys spend almost all of their time together.  Perhaps it was a case of "so much to say, so little time" and he just picked something.  Either that, or he's just tired of Cuckoo taking all of the limelight with his adorable, outgoing personality.   It's his way of toning the boy down.


Glad to see he didn't forget the dogs.  Good thing we don't have new pigs or chickens yet.  He wouldn't have had room to fit them on the page.



His biggest brother, Phoenix.  While he is good at math, he did not get $100 for doing his homework.  When I asked Turken about it, he said, "He did get it one time a long time ago."  I'm guessing he is talking about the scholarship Phoenix won for getting one of the top scores on the high school entrance exam.


I must have been one of the first people he drew, seeing as I have hands, shoes, hair (after my haircut apparently) and a bow tie (?).   It makes me feel special.  And then we get to my description.  "She goes to a lot of meetings (I have been to one meeting in the last two months.) she washes our clothes at night (Really, I wash them during the day.  He probably thinks it is at night because after he goes to bed I make the big kids fold everything.  The folded clothes are ready to be put away in the morning.) and she likes to be by herself after lunch!"  That cracks me up. 

Back in the day when kids actually took naps, I would have at least an hour to myself.  These days, we have a schedule that doesn't allow for a good naptime. (We have to leave the house at 2:00 to pick the big kids up from school.)  So, after lunch, the boys know that they need to play quietly, away from me, for an hour.  If they argue or cause problems, they are sent to their beds to "read" books.

 I love getting these little insights into the brains of our kids.  While I talk to them all day long, I usually let them lead the discussions.  Their versions of our life remind me that they see and hear a whole lot more than we realize. 

And they are willing to tell people about it. 

Yikes.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

This Boot Was Made For Walkin'

Diagnosis: 


Boot.

For a torn ligament or two.  But, thanks to my voracious milk-drinking, no broken bones.

(Jen, are you taking notes on how to announce things? :) (This is filler.  I have to write more, since you can't put an ending parenthesis right after you put a smiley face.  It looks funny.))

I will be in this lovely bit of footwear for at least 10 days.  Then I am to go back for a check-up to see where things stand. 

I've had lot of time on the couch to ponder things.  Like muffins being given to a particular mouse and how that relates to my life.

If you injure your foot, you won't be able to walk on it.

If you can't walk on it, you won't be able to take care of little children.

If you can't take care of little children, the little children in your care will watch a whole lot of PBS.

If they watch PBS, you will have lots of time to think about how much you have to pee.

When you can't take it anymore, you will finally get the gumption to get off the couch and use the facilities.

When you get off the couch, you will tell the little children that you are going to the bathroom.

If you tell them, it will remind the three year old that he has watched a lot of TV and has to pee really badly, too.

If your three year old has to pee, he will sprint to the bathroom.

In his sprint to the bathroom, he will run into you and knock you off balance.

If you are knocked off balance, your foot will hit the ground really hard.

If your injured foot hits the ground, you will pee your pants.

Hitting your foot and peeing your pants will make you involuntarily curse.

When you curse, your three year old will almost feel badly.

Since he just almost feels badly, he won't let you go first, but will yell, "I just have to pee!  I'll be fast!"

If he keeps yelling like that, he won't pay attention to what he's doing.

When little boys don't pay attention, they make a mess.  That they won't clean up.

While you clean up the mess, the three year old will finish peeing and wash his hands.

After he washes his hands, you will finally get to go to the bathroom.

Getting to finally go means you get to sit down and get off of your foot.

If you get off your foot, it will start to throb.

And when it starts to throb, you will remember that you injured your foot.

When you injure your foot, you can't walk on it.

And if you can't walk on your foot, you are stuck sitting on the toilet.

I've learned a few things besides the importance of keeping my mouth shut when I head to the restroom.  For one, if you are going to injure yourself, make sure you do the grocery shopping first.  We have been without milk and fruit for two days.  I miss my milk.  And my fruit.

Also, make sure your husband breaks his foot six weeks before you injure yours.  He'll be more compassionate.  He will also have tips, like the best way to crawl up the stairs.  Most importantly, he will have leftover pain medicine, when your doctor didn't even discuss pain relief.  (I didn't realize it until we were half-way home.)

Don't hold back when telling your kids how much pain you are in.  They may just feel enough pity to do some things without being told.  Star actually did laundry while I napped.  Buttercup took care of dinner.  She only had to thaw pre-made food from the freezer and put it in the oven, but apparently it taxed her greatly.  She kept saying, "I don't know how you do it.  I'm only getting dinner ready and getting the boys to wash their hands.  How do you do everything else, too?"  Giant has been playing with the little boys even more than normal, being extra sweet with them.  It has been quite pleasant around here.

I'm milking this foot thing as long as I can.

Not with actual milk, though. 

We're out of that.

Have a lovely day!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Maybe if I Had a Bench

Friday dawned bright and beautiful.  Finally, finally, the clouds blew away and we got to enjoy some sun.  And the temperature even got up to a sweltering 42 degrees! 

I have been singing all day.  I have sung the same song every single sunny day of my life. (Hello obnoxious alliteration.)

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood,
a beautiful day for a neighbor,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
.....
So let's make the most of this beautiful day,
Since we're together we might as well say,
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine?
Won't you be my neighbor?

Because it really was a blindingly beautiful day.  (I can't seem to stop them.)

After picking the big kids up from school, I told them to get themselves into the out of doors, and then sang all the way up to the door.

"It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood..."

Once inside, I immediately took off my shoes and donned my favorite warm slippers, which I keep right next to the door.

I took off my coat, hung it up, then grabbed my warm fuzzy robe I leave on the banister by the front door.

As I put my sleeves into the robe, I had a shocking revelation.

I HAVE BECOME MR. ROGERS!!!!



This revelation led to a whole thread of thoughts regarding the late, great Mr. Rogers of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood fame.  Am I really anything like him?

Let's have a little look-see.  (Make it stop.)

1.  He always talked in a quiet, calm voice.   Um, no, I don't do that.  I probably would, though, if, like him, I didn't have to be in the same house with the children to whom I was talking.  If I didn't have someone challenging me with follow-up questions every time a sentence exits my mouth or someone demanding me to, "Wipe my bottom!" or multiple children yelling, "Mom!" I could talk in a quiet, calm voice all the live long day, too.  It's actually my dream to always talk in a quiet, calm voice. 

OK, that's probably not true.  I've never talked in a quiet, calm voice.

2.  His house was spotless.  Once again, my house would be spotless, too, if children didn't actually live with me.

Um, that's probably not true either.  For the first four years of our marriage, we didn't have any kids.  Our apartment was not spotless. 

3.  He had fish that never died.  We had fish once.  They died.  We flushed them.  Now we raise pigs and chickens.  And they all die, too.  They don't get flushed, but some get thrown in the back field.  Others get eaten by us.  

I'd like to see Mr. Roger Calm Pants work a farm.

4.  He had a trolley run through his house.  We have a train run next to our house.  It is a lot louder than the trolley and it doesn't have random, fun things on it.  Usually coal or some such thing.

5.  Mr. Rogers was friends with the mailman, Mr. McFeely.  While our mail lady doesn't come to our door, (I actually don't even know what she looks like.) I am friendly with the lady that works at our small-town post office.  I would never call her McFeely, though.  It seems that moniker should be saved for a character in a show most certainly not appropriate for little kids.

6.  He keeps one hand in the land of make-believe.   (Apparently, we've left alliteration and moved on to rhyming.)  While I do have my own make-believe land, mine most certainly does not include puppets.  It is more of a world where my husband feeds me grapes and gives me massages as I lounge on the beach under a palm tree.  I go there pretty much any time I have to deal with purple poo or bickering children.  Which, by the way, Mr. Rogers never has to do.  I don't quite know why he needs his land of make-believe.

Yeah, we aren't anything alike.  We just happen to share the feelings of always being cold and hating to be barefoot.

Revelation crushed.  We're all good.

Have a lovely day!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Volleyball, Voodoo and Purple Poo

This week's FTSF this week is

I did something really stupid once, I ...

How perfect.  I just happened to do something really stupid this week and wrote about it already.  So, my sentence will read:

I did something really stupid once, I played volleyball like I was still 20 years old and 6 ft. tall. 

(As I proofread this, I realized that I did something stupid in my sentence about doing something stupid.  Despite what the sentence says, I have never been 6ft. tall.  My entire adult life, I have been a tiny bit shorter than 5'7".  It should read "like I was 6ft. tall and still 20 years old.)

It was the championship volleyball game.  My team of six was playing against a team of two ridiculously good (but very kind, generous) players and the other four people on their team.  This couple has won the championship game for the last 7 years or so, all with completely different teammates.

They are that good.

We were tied 12-12.

The ball was hit high in the air and was coming straight down on top of the net.  I was up against a 6'2" giant, but the adrenaline was pumping.  I challenged him, and jumped as high as I could.  I have no idea where the ball ended up, seeing as how I landed crookedly and my ankle went right out from under me.

The game was over for me.

And yes, I hurt myself the exact same way that Hubby did when he broke his foot.  Except he wasn't playing in an important championship game.  My injury is legitimate.

I haven't been to the doctor.  I didn't get home until after 11:00 (midnight, really, taking the time change into account) and it didn't hurt too badly.

It does now.

A first-time serving at mass situation (Giant) and leading waves of 2nd graders through the steps of making clothes pin crucifixes (the oldest two, and a very unhappy Hubby in my spot) have prevented me from going yet.  Maybe after the little kids are in bed.

Sitting here on the couch, icing my foot and watching terrible TV, I've had plenty of time to reflect on the situation.  I've learned a few things.

1.  Someone has put a voodoo hex on my family.  In our entire lives, not one person has ever broken anything.  In 2013, we've broken:

Hubby:  foot
Giant:  nose
Buttercup:  finger
Me:  looking more and more like my foot

If you happen to see some dolls that look eerily like my family, would you please be so kind as to remove the needles?

2.  When you injure yourself, even if you are in agony from the pain, designate your caregivers.  At this tournament, there were approximately 40 people.  I knew every one of them except four.  More than half of the 20 were friends I've known for years.  They were all so helpful, getting ice for my foot, getting ice for my head and neck when I came thiiiiis close to passing out, (not from the pain, as I am not a wimp, but from the adrenaline that suddenly had nowhere to go) and gathering my belongings.  They made one error, though.  They left the seat next to my foot wide open. 

The one intoxicated person in the room, with whom I have never spoken in my life but know in passing, sat in that seat.  He touched my ankle.  He diagnosed the problem.  He gave me tips on recovery.  He talked non-stop. 

The man is a builder.  He has zero medical experience.  However, since no one knew him well, they didn't know that.  They let him talk and talk and talk. 

3.  Even if it's winter and has been snowing for endless days, shave your legs before engaging in any physical activity.  On a whim, I actually shaved my legs yesterday morning for the first time in a while.  The entire time I was sitting on that bench, with what seemed like an endless stream of people touching and/or looking at my ankle/leg, I was beyond grateful for my inner hygiene voice that spoke to me so loudly and clearly that morning. 

4.  If you are laid up on the couch, and your husband and two oldest children aren't home, think twice before telling the next two oldest children that they can go on a bike ride. 

Cuckoo came to me with his pants down and a purple sludge on his finger.  I hesitantly asked what it was, and he said he got it on the toilet.

I walked/hopped/screamed/followed him to the bathroom to find purple poop smeared all over the toilet, his fingers, and his rear end. 

That's when I remembered the jokes we made yesterday when the kids were eating the bright blue, yellow, teal, and red cake Buttercup had made with her friends.  We actually discussed the color they would poop today.

Question answered.

Let's just say that it ain't easy to clean a purple poop mess when balancing on one foot. 

His bum is still stained purple.

And it will stay that way until Hubby gets home.

I'm sure that will cheer him up after his afternoon of crafting with 8 year olds.

I'll keep you updated.

On my foot.

Not the poop.

We've discussed that too much already.

Now click on that linky button and go enjoy some more stupidity.



Finish the Sentence Friday

Have a lovely day!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Finish the Quick Takes Friday


************ 1 **********

In today's installment of FTSF we are to complete the sentence I tried to cook...

a pumpkin pie.

My sister and I have a rare condition called Forget at Least One Ingredient Every Flippin' Time You Bake Something.   It's annoying as all get out, as we waste all sorts of time and resources in our quest for deliciousness.  Fortunately, we always remember the forgotten ingredient as the soon-to-be-baked good is going into the oven or as the item is baking.  We've never had someone bite into our food and say, "Um, something seems to be missing."

Hubby is not a fan of big family gatherings, but he will endure it because he love, love, loves his mom's pumpkin pie.  She makes it every Thanksgiving, and he drools for a month beforehand just thinking about it. 

Hubby's first year in law school, I was working for Kroger as a cake decorator and had to work on the day after Thanksgiving.  We could not go home for his mom's pie.  He was quite upset about it, so I agreed to make it.  Since my mom only lived two hours away, we went to her house for the big day.  She was making a lemon meringue pie while I made the pumpkin.  We were chatting and having a good time while doing so.  I had my mother-in-law's recipe in hand, and it really wasn't that big of a deal.  (Although, I think I did use a pre-made crust.  Don't want to try too many new things at once.) 

I got it in the oven, but there was a little niggling in my brain.  I knew I had forgotten something.  15 minutes later, I remembered. 

I didn't put sugar in the pie.

We let it finish baking, and after dinner covered that pie in whipped cream, hoping to fix the sugar problem.

FYI:  Sugar is an absolute necessity in a pumpkin pie, regardless of how much whipped cream you apply.

In honor of my failed pie, for the rest of the quick takes, I am going to give you all some tips.  I have a lot of kids and have been cleaning my house for many years.  Some of you younger mamas may find this stuff useful.
 
 *************** 2 **************

When baking/cooking, get all of your ingredients out before you do anything else.  You don't have to measure them out into cute little bowls like they do on Food Network, but have them all out on the counter.   (I'm not fancy.  If you want to call it a work space and use those little bowls, be my guest.) 

As you use the ingredients, put them away.  Immediately.  Two cups of flour into the bowl, the flour canister goes to the cupboard.  A teaspoon of salt goes into the bowl, the salt container goes into the cupboard.  That way, before you put the batter into the baking dish, you can look and see that the counter is empty and be assured that you used everything.

Usually that works.  I made two loaves of banana bread last week. I've learned that doubling the recipe just doesn't work very well, so I make two batches. Since I didn't put the ingredients away as I used them when mixing up the first loaf, I forgot the vanilla and the baking soda.   I didn't remember that little fact until after I stuck it in the oven.

I took it out immediately, added the missing ingredients right to the loaf pan and gave it a stir, then let it bake.  When it was done, I marked it, "Don't give away."

I told you.  I have a condition. 

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Buy one of these, especially if you have boys.

Haan HS-20 Personal Handheld Steamer
A steamer has changed my cleaning life.  No chemicals whatsoever.  Pour in some water, then clean and sanitize til the cows come home. 

Just a few things I clean with it:

1.  The nasty crud around the dishwasher.  You know, that one inch all the way around the door that doesn't get cleaned when the dishwasher runs, but you can't see when the dishwasher is closed.  Steam and wipe.  Voila.  Clean dishwasher.

2.  Tile showers.  Nastiness is gone.  I spray it, scrub with a brush, and wipe away the grime.  There is a brush attachment that works very well on grout, but it's just little and takes forever to scrub the whole shower.

3.  Most importantly, the toilet.  You think your toilet is clean until you use this thing.  I don't care how old they are, boys are gross.  And they pay far too little attention when using the facilities.  Prepare yourself before you point the steamer into the little crevices on the toilet.  You will most likely gag on your own vomit. 

4.  Mattresses and couches.  Just to give them that "No dust mites here" feeling.

Just be careful, though, when you are using this thing.  I did burn myself once when I went to wipe the tile before moving the spray out of the way.

Because I'm juuuust this side of brilliant.

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While we are on eco-friendly cleaning, let's talk mirrors and glass.  Buy one of these:
source
I bought my microfiber glass cloth at Meijer.  Just go to the cleaning section of your favorite box store and pick one up for about $6.  It leaves no lint, it cleans really well, and it can go in the washing machine when you are done.  You just need to barely get it wet.  Barely.  And then wring it out.  I use it on our mirrors, the glass in the shower, the front door.  Everywhere.  And the kids can use it, too.

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While we are talking about glass, let's talk kids' milk. 

For those who have an aversion to the H word, I really, really, really strongly dislike sippy cups.  There are a whole variety of reasons for this feeling, but we won't go into that now.  It seems most people use sippy cups because their kids spill their milk too often if they don't.  (Or they just carry the blasted cup around everywhere they go, and one can't do that with a lidless cup.  Oops. Letting my dislike come through.)

Go to Goodwill and buy some thick-bottomed juice glasses.  Glasses.  Not plastic cups.

I know, the thought of giving a two year old a glass scares you.  Get over it.  All six of my kids have started using glasses before they were two years old.  In all of those years, they have spilled them a handful of times.  They have only broken one or two.   It's pure, simple physics.   Glass doesn't tip over as easily as plastic.  We do have plastic cups.  The little kids aren't allowed to use them, though, seeing as how they spill them every time they do.

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For those of you with toddlers in the house who love to unroll the toilet paper, I have an idea.  I know it sounds simple, but I didn't figure it out until toddler #3.  Turn the toilet paper around.  Instead of having it waterfall like normal people do, turn it around.  When the little naughty toddler goes to town spinning it, the paper will just spin, not unroll.

Please note, this doesn't last forever.  Eventually, your child will figure it out.  It usually occurs right around the same time that he is potty training and has all the time in the world to ponder the things around him.

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Playing games with your children is a wonderful way to teach your children a multitude of things.  I encourage everyone to play lots and lots of games.  Board games, card games, word games.  It's all good. 

Lots of parents are reluctant to play games because kids' games bore the tar out of them.  I get it.  Oh, do I get it.  That's why I stack the deck.  CandyLand?  I separate the cards, then put the candy cards in order throughout the deck so no one has to actually go back to the gingerbread riiiight before they win.  Matching games can drag on and on.  So I play a little differently.  Separate the pairs, then scatter one set around the house.  I sit on the couch and make them fetch the matching pieces. 

Lots of parents are reluctant to play because they don't know which games are appropriate.  They don't know what to expect from their kids.  In our house, we pay zero attention to the age on the outside of the box.  Cuckoo and Turken and I played Yahtzee today.  (Cuckoo won.  He managed to roll TWO Yahtzees in his first three turns.)   Yes, Yahtzee can be a really long game.  No one says you have to play to the end.  Tell the kids the length of time you will play then set the timer.  When the timer goes off, whoever is winning at the time wins the game.

Lastly, don't let the kids win all the time.  They need to learn that other people get turns to win, too.

Oh, wait.  Lastly, don't buy Chutes and Ladders.  That game bites.  There is no way to make it shorter.  And I get that stupid big long slide every time.  Every.  Time.  It has been banned from our home.

Feel free to head over to read more.  Or even link up yourself.  You know you want to.

Have a lovely day!

 
Finish the Sentence Friday