Thursday, February 27, 2014

Extra! Extra! Read All About It! "It" Being a Bunch of Thoughts Spewing Forth

There's a group of ladies, led by Jen, who are doing 7 posts in 7 days.  When I first heard of it, my thought was, "How 'bout instead, we do ZERO posts in 7 days?"  I almost made that goal.

For reasons I shall explain later, I was given the opportunity to throw the to-do list into the "not now" pile to sit and write things down.  Prepare yourself.  I'm gonna be throwing all sorts of stuff at you today.  I thought about doing it in a clever way, with headlines and everything like a newspaper (thus the title), but, as everything else in my week, intentions don't translate into reality.

1.  Winter is the worst thing ever invented.  Our handy dandy weatherman put up a little graphic on the news last night showing how many degrees below normal it will be over the next few weeks.  I did not appreciate this.  I do not want to know that for days 6-10 it will be 23 degrees below normal.  I'm even less thrilled with the news that days 1-5 will be 18 degrees below normal.  Mostly because Phoenix's soccer team has an OUTDOOR SOCCER TOURNAMENT THIS WEEKEND!!!  Pray that no one gets frostbitten, would ya?

Aaaaaaand even better awful news is the big storm heading our way.  Mere hours after Phoenix finishes his last game, snow or ice will begin to fall from the sky, either blanketing our world with 8 inches of snow or pelting us with ice.  It will all depend on how many degrees below normal we happen to be Sunday night.

2.  Cuckoo puked on me this morning.  A cold is flying through the kids, and Cuckoo woke up 2 hours early with a stuffy nose.  He crawled on my lap just in time for the coughing to begin.  As is his habit, the coughing led to an upchuck of mucus.  All over my robe.  I feel I must repeat that.  HE THREW UP ALL OVER MY ROBE!!!!  My robe.  Which is worn for my every waking moment.  My robe.  The only thing allowing me to stay thawed out enough to fulfill my daily duties.  (Don't try to make me feel better by saying, "At least it wasn't in church!"  It won't make me feel better.)  I have to admit, the thought went through my head about whether I could just wipe the puke off with a towel, pretend it never happened, and continue to wear my robe.  The only reason I took it off is because I didn't want to tarnish the perfect June Cleaver image COW has of me if he came home to find me smelling like the compost bucket the kids never remember to rinse out.
So, the robe is in the washing machine while I huddle under a few blankets.  Since I can't move from my cocoon, Cuckoo is watching Wild Kratts, and I can regale you with all of this drivel.

3.  Star keeps offering me up to take one for the team.  He told his science teacher he would do not one, but both regional science fairs.  That was bad enough, but then he told the teacher in charge of his Imagine team (a group of kids who will present their idea to a board in March on how to help solve world hunger) that we could grow the seeds at our house.  Our house.  Which has trouble getting above 60 degrees this winter.  All day long, I'm moving the blasted flats around the house, trying to maximize their time in the sun.  I guess I should just be thankful that we have sun to begin with.

4.  How about some good news?  Phoenix made the high school volleyball team!!  He has never played volleyball before this year, and the only time was in PE class.  During the volleyball rotation, the teacher brought seniors who play volleyball down to play with the freshman.  A couple of them asked Phoenix if he was going to try out.  How could Phoenix not try out after being invited by upperclassmen?

During the open gyms before tryouts, it came to light that Phoenix has something no one else in the school has.

After years of messy handwriting, trouble with scissors and myriad other tasks, his left-handedness is coming in very handy.

Seems a lefty on a volleyball court is like an 8 ft giant on a basketball court.

Now, to learn the technical steps before their first scrimmage on Tuesday...

5.  In a span of one week, we will go from zero to 2 soccer refs in our house.  Phoenix took the class last weekend, and Buttercup will do so this weekend.  In Indiana, kids as young as 12 are allowed to ref, but we don't let our kids do it that early.  One, they don't know the game well enough to be confident enough to be in charge.  Two, soccer parents are crazy.  It's well-known that soccer parents are the worst type of parents.  Yes, there are some wonderful parents, but there are a huge number of crazy people who like to scream and yell.  We aren't about to put our 12 year old in that situation.  (I've had a post on this topic rolling around in my head for a while.  Once soccer starts, I'll probably write it.)

Reffing is a great job for teens to have.  During a tournament weekend, a kid can make almost $300.  The schedule fits their lifestyle, and they learn all sorts of helpful skills.  I'm mostly excited for them.

6.  We're making progress on the "phones are used for calling, too" lessons, despite the fact I think the kids are in cahoots to make me nuts.  On Sunday afternoon, I was to pick Phoenix up from ref training at 5:00.  At 3:50, I went outside to feed the chickens.  At 4:30, as I was getting ready to go get him, I noticed a text from him saying, "We're done", sent at 3:45.  I wrote back immediately, "You are killing me!!!  I'm just leaving."

He wrote back, "I called but no one answered".

I immediately gave Star the evil eye and asked, "Did the phone ring while I was outside?"

Star:  "Um...yes.  I didn't recognize the number, so I didn't answer it."

He forgot that he doesn't have any phone numbers memorized, so he wouldn't recognize the number even if it was his dad calling.

Our follow-up lesson included instructions to Star to always answer the phone if I'm home and unable to answer it myself.  Aaaand Phoenix was praised for remembering to call, but reminded that in the future, he is to CONTINUE CALLING AND TEXTING UNTIL HE ACTUALLY REACHES SOMEONE!!!

7.  You know that minivan which shows up in all photos I take on the side of the house?

As of Friday, it will be gone.  My brother has 4 kids now, so he is looking for a minivan.  I happen to have a minivan which has had all of 10 miles put on it in the last 4 years.  I'll be a little less redneck, and he'll have a vehicle to fit his family.  Win-win.

Now to get the "I think a mouse family used the van for a home" smell out of it before Friday...

8.  Don't fear, we'll still be redneck.  Actually, Cuckoo is making me think we're closer to Honey Boo Boo than I thought.  Lately, he's found a new way to amuse himself.  Every once in while, he will press his rear end up to me and let it rip.  As in...there's no way to say this delicately...fart on me.  I never know it's coming.  The little boys love my robe as much as I do, so all day long I have kids pressing themselves into my legs (or back if I'm sitting down to play a game with someone else).  It doesn't register what he's doing until I hear and feel the reverberations.  This used to be accompanied with giggles galore from him, and admonishments from me of, "EW!  That's gross!"  A game, if you will.  Now, it's become just something to endure until he finds a new annoying way to amuse himself.  Press up against me, toot, walk away with nary a word or snicker.

9.  COW and I are planning a trip for our 20th anniversary this summer.  I was talking with a friend about how nervous I am about COW and I being on the same flight.  I actually told her I'd be more comfortable if COW and I were on separate flights, or if our entire family were on the plane together.

Yup.  I'd rather my children die in a fiery crash with me than grow up without COW and me.

I'm not just a little disturbed by this revelation.

Well, Wild Kratts is over, as is Curious George.  Cat in the Hat will be over before I get a shower if I don't get moving.

Thank you for sticking around and reading this mess of a post.  I haven't  the time for editing today, but I knew if I didn't put up a post, a few people (Dianne and Dad) may start thinking something was wrong.

Oh, wait.  Dianne and Dad are in Florida, living the warm high life.

I don't mean to imply Dianne and Dad know each other.  They don't.  Although, that would be funny if they ran into each other, started a conversation, and my dad said, "I have a daughter who writes a blog." and Dianne replied, "My favorite blog is A Fly on Our Chicken Coop Wall" and they had a whole conversation about us.

I shall see you again over the weekend for a 10 Things of Thankful post.

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Moment You (But Mostly Cuckoo) Have All Been Waiting For and Other Stuff This Week, TToT #36

1. I am thankful for this song.

Our van might as well just have a disco ball in it we do so much dancing while driving around town.

2.  I am thankful for newspaper.  Not that I read the newspaper, but it is a very handy thing to have on hand when one lets her children celebrate warm weather by wearing their school shoes to play in puddles and climb melting snow mountains.  Do you know this trick??  Stuff your wet shoes with newspaper, and in the morning your shoes will be bone dry.

3.  I am thankful for silly dinner conversations.  One night, out of the blue, Phoenix said, "Did you know that one out of seven people in the world are Chinese.  That means one of us is Chinese.  Who is it?"

Star, without missing a beat, yelled, "Nose goes!" and touched his nose.  (Is this a local thing or a universal thing?  Whenever a general "will someone..." or something similar is asked, the last person to touch his nose is the one who has to do it.  It's a big thing around here.)  The other kids instinctively touched their noses.

And then Phoenix continued it with, "I don't know how to speak Chinese!  I don't even like Chinese food!  It can't be me!"

The dinner conversation only went into a downward spiral of silly after that.

4.  I am thankful for my children's low expectations.  In case you haven't heard, we had an unprecedented 4 and a half birthday party for Cuckoo, seeing as he won a party in a raffle.  There was no way he could wait until August to have this party, so we did a half birthday party.  I made a cake for it, but since it wasn't his real birthday, I didn't go all out.  I let him pick the color he wanted the cake part to be (yellow and blue), then made it look

Wow, this photo says so much...Christmas pjs suggest this is December, and the spots on the cheeks suggest his mom didn't clean him up after his peanut butter bagel breakfast.  Only one is true.


And yet.

Cuckoo wrote this note (after asking someone to spell everything but "Mommy" for him) to me

It reads "Mommy, you make the best cake"
and thanked me profusely several times.

5.  I am thankful for a husband who knows me well.  I forget just about everything unless it is written down.  COW knows this.  Instead of getting frustrated with me, he speaks to me and reminds me in the most useful ways.  I had started a list of things to make sure I packed in the car before leaving for the party.  We were going to be gone all day, with many things to do while out, so I had quite a few things to remember.  At one point, I went to add some things to my list and found this:

Under my note to remember play clothes, he added, "socks with no holes".  I laughed when I saw it, because hole-free socks is one of the things I was going to add.

Did you know, the hardest part about hosting a four and a half birthday party at a bouncy house place is finding socks without holes?  It's especially hard when one has a 5 year old who will actually poke a hole in his sock, then mess with it until the hole is big enough for all of his toes fit through the hole at the same time.  And he does this to every pair of socks he wears.

6.  I am thankful for a stunningly gorgeous morning.  Thanks to activities of the big kids, I have been basking in the sun half the morning.  I went for a walk.  I sat on a window sill, with the sun making it quite the perfect cozy spot to read.  So I read.

7.  I am thankful for academic competitions and teachers who encourage kids to participate in them.  Every year, the Catholic high school has a competition for all the feeder middle schools.  (10 of them) One day each week (for months) our teachers stay after school, bring snacks, plan fun games, and coach the students who decide to give the competition a whirl.  Out of 130 kids in our middle school, 80 or so participate.

8.  I am thankful for our chickens.  They are super-star layers.  Most chickens give up the laying over the winter.  Our chickens, once they finally started, have not only not stopped, but have been very generous in their egg production.  Each day, out of 24 chickens, we are getting between 18 and 22 eggs.  Remarkable, I tell you!

9.  I am thankful for Monkey Joe's for supporting Boy Scouts and donating a party pack.  They could not have been nicer while we were there.  They did all of the serving and the cleaning, they gave Cuckoo a gift, including a t-shirt he has yet to take off.  They also gave all the kids kites and frisbees to take home.  The only thing I had to pay for was the ice cream.

10.  I am thankful we were able to invite our friends and have a wonderful time.  The kids had an absolute blast.  (I'm only putting photos of the kids who I know see the blog.)

Photo dump starting in three...



Fight me...fight me now!

The moment he'd been waiting for...sitting in the blow-up throne announced to all that he alone was in charge.

"Mom, stop taking my picture."

"I wasn't afraid because it was just a person dressed like a monkey."
You can come back now.  The photos are done.

Your turn!  What got your toes tappin' this week?

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Meltageddon, Phones That Aren't Phones, and Cuckoo Was a Perfect Name Choice...7 Quick Takes


At 4:30 am on Thursday, I was awakened by thunder.  Lightening was flashing and the rain was falling and the wind was howling.

It's like Mother Nature herself got tired of winter, heaved a big sigh, and blew it all away.

To leave us with this:

Yup, that's my driveway.  

Aaaand this would be off to the side of our driveway.  That water actually continues all the way out onto the street.  

The amount of water and mud around here is extraordinary!  When walking on the usually solid grass, I sink up to an inch into the ground.  Imagine what happens when I have to walk in mud.

I will not complain.

'Cause it's not snow, and I'm not freezing to death.


You know how since the invention of the internet, all sorts of new "words" have been created?  Things like "awesomesauce" and "snowmageddon"?  Cuckoo has never surfed the web, but he's jumping on the bandwagon.  He showed me something today (I think it was some MiniWheats that were stuck together, because that is a party every time it happens.  We have approximately 6 parties with each breakfast.), and commented that it was "hunormous".


You heard it here first.

Learn it.  Remember it.  Use it.


Don't know if you noticed, but my header is boring.  And baby poop colored.

I thought I'd try to come up with something better on my own.

In doing so, I have learned that web design is most certainly not a strength of mine.

This is what I have come up with so far:

The only positive is it's not poop colored.  The brightness may hurt the eyes, but it won't remind you that you have to go to the bathroom.

I'll keep working on it.  Or get someone else to do it for me.


Times, they are a changin'.

Kids and teens are growing up with such new technology, they see things vastly differently than we do.

For example, in the car today, as always, we were listening to the radio.  A song Cuckoo doesn't particularly like came on, and he asked me to skip it.  He couldn't wrap his brain around the fact that one could not actually skip a song he doesn't like when listening to the radio.

While that was amusing, another incident all but knocked me to the ground with it's shock value.

Wednesday night, Phoenix had plans to work at the food pantry after school.  I was to pick him up at 7:30 or so.  At 6:50 I was getting ready to leave, and I looked at my phone.  There was a text from Phoenix which said, "Nobody showed up".  Plans had been cancelled.  He had sent that text at 5:19.  From 5:19 until I responded at 6:50, he did nothing else to contact me.

When I picked him up, it was clear that he was bored out of his skull for the 2+ hours he was waiting at school.  Part of our conversation went like this...

Me through gritted teeth, because all that went down was extremely inconvenient and a big time-waster:  Why didn't you just call the house?

Him:  It never crossed my mind.

Me:  Are you telling me you had a telephone in your hand, yet it never occurred to you to actually dial your home number with it?

Him realization dawning:  Um, no.  It never did.

From now on, we will no longer be able to call it a phone.  People under the age of 20 don't know how to actually use a telephone.  We need a new word.

Teletext?  Thumber?  I have no idea.  One of you etymology people needs to get on this for me, wouldja?


I love the Olympics.  I do believe I've shared that with you before.  However, I am going to be glad when they are over.  I need me some sleep.  NBC, of course, always put my favorite events last, so they can maximize their advertising.  I, of course, have to stay up to watch them.  It's all just too exciting, I can't be satisfied with only seeing highlights on the morning news.  


Speaking of the Olympics, don't know if you heard of the fellow Hoosier, Nick Goepper, who won bronze in slopestyle, but he's awesome.  A bit of his story was shown before he competed (after the little kids were in bed), including some home videos from when he was a child.  They showed him jumping off the couch, the table, and anything else he could find.  There were mats on the floor to catch him after he flipped and spun his way off the furniture.  While I watched, I thought about what great parents he had.  99% of parents would have scolded their son for doing such things, making the boy stop before he broke the furniture or his head.  Nick's parents, though, encouraged him to be himself.  They even allowed him to build a contraption in the backyard, turning the area into a mud pit which rivals the muck in my driveway.  

The next day, as I cleaned the kitchen, I heard Cuckoo playing the piano.  He doesn't "play" as much as he pounds the keys into submission.  I went over to take a peek at him playing, when much to my shock and dismay, he was not playing the piano at all!  He was standing on it!!  Once he got himself turned around and situated, he launched himself into the air and into the jump-o-lene strategically placed nearby.

That video of Nick Goepper immediately went through my mind, and I had myself a conundrum.  Was I going to go with my first instinct and yell, "Stop doing that before you break your head!" or calmly walk away and leave him to it?

Guess what I did.

I'll just say that if he doesn't become an Olympic medal winner, I'm gonna be mad.


Today is the day!!! After much anticipation and discussion ad nauseam, the half birthday party at the bounce house place has arrived.  The cake has been baked.  The friends have been invited.  The boy has been told that he doesn't get to dictate who does and does not get ice cream.

This should be interesting.

I'll be sure to tell you all about it in my 10 Things of Thankful tomorrow.  Probably with an annoying number of photos.  'Cause I know you live for them.  :)

Head on over to Jen's to read some other quick takers.  

Have a lovely day!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

5 Favourite* Games to Help a Child Learn, Eh!

This is an imaginary conversation I've had in my head with parents of children I've taught.

Parent:  What is one thing I can do to help my child learn basic facts and skills to prepare him for school?

Me:  Play games with him.

Parent:  Oh, please, oh please don't tell me I have to play Chutes and Ladders with him.  I just can't do that.

Me:  No!  I refuse to play Chutes and Ladders with my kids.  That game is awful!  Just when you think the game is over, someone has to slide aaaaallll the way back down.  Awful game.

Parent:  Are you sure I shouldn't do some worksheets with him?

Me:  STAY AWAY FROM THE WORKSHEETS!!!  I know they sell them all over the place these days, but do not buy them unless your child begs you for some homework.  Once your child learns some skills, he may very well beg you for those books, but don't do it yet.

Parent:  Why board games?

Me:  They are fun, and the kids will learn all sorts of skills without even realizing it.  All games will help children learn to take turns, to be patient, and to be a good sport.  (As long as you let the child lose.  Please, for the love of all, please let your child lose.)  The type of game you choose will depend on which skills he is learning.

Parent:  So, which games should we play?

Me:  Glad you asked!

Here are 5 games we play most often.  There are plenty more, but these are ones which always make the cut in our "This game closet is a mess!  Get it cleaned out NOW!" Goodwill giveaway.  They will never be given away.

1.  Monopoly Jr. Eh!

I'm not usually a fan of "junior" games, and I avoid playing a full version of Monopoly at all costs.  I was surprised I liked Hasbro's version for little kids.  The kids will learn names of colors, how to identify numbers, how to count, how to add and subtract, and how to make change.  Depending on how young the child is when you start playing (We never pay attention to ages on the box.), you will need to change the amount of help you give the child, especially with the money part of the game.  Each child is different, so you will just need to take cues from yours.  Be patient, let them do as much as possible, and they will be pros in no time.

2.  Bromley and Cotica's African Adventure Playzzle Eh!

This game is similar to CandyLand, but don't hold that against it.  When forced to play CandyLand, I set the deck to make sure no one pulls a gingerbread card just as he's about to win.  I don't do that in this game. Instead of colors, there are animals, and instead of candies, there are animal adventures, like a hippo wash or camel ride.  What makes this different from CandyLand are the extra cards.  There are some go back spaces or go ahead spaces cards, as well as some trade places cards, which makes the game more exciting.  It's called a "playzzle" because it isn't played on a board which will eventually fall apart.  The board is a sturdy puzzle the child puts together to set up the game, and it all fits very neatly into the box when you are done.  Your child will learn the names of different animals in both English and Spanish (if you choose to say the Spanish names written on the cards).

3.  Mexican Train Domino Game Eh!

 The game says 8 and up, but our kids have been playing it since they were 3 or 4.  As with any game, when first introduced, the child will need some extra help.  In no time, the child will not only know how to play, but will be able to beat you.  There are few rules, so it's easy to pick up.  The colored dominoes are helpful for the younger kids, as they don't have to worry so much about the number of dots on each domino.

4.  Animal Alphabet Puzzle Eh!

This is a great matching game to learn the alphabet.  If you want to know the best way to play this (or any matching game) with your child, read the post I did about it, then come back and thank me profusely.

5.  Spelling Bee Bingo Eh!

The game only takes a few minutes to play, and children of any age can play.  (Except babies.  Babies can't play.  Toddlers can.)  As you can probably guess, this game will help your child learn to identify letters and maybe even spell a few words.

There are so, so many more great games to play with your child.  If nothing else, get a plain old deck of cards.  A game of war (with a time limit, because a full game until someone wins is just torture) can be played anywhere.  Even when waiting in a Brady Bunch-esque car service shop.

I'm linking up with Fountains of Home, who is temporarily hosting 5 Favorites.

*Christy, the temporary host, is Canadian, so we had to spell it "Favourites" for today.  I threw in the "eh"s just for my mom, who is also Canadian.

Do you have any games you like to play with children?

Have a lovely day, eh!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

THIS Is Why My To-Do List Is So Freakin' Long

All afternoon, Cuckoo has been pretending to be an opossum named Kitty Cat.

I wish I could say it's a product of his vivid imagination.

Oh how I wish.

Sunday, COW had a look-see in the attic.  With all of the bat activity this winter, we wanted to make sure there wasn't a colony of them living in our attic.  No bats.  He did, though, find a nest.  A nest which is two feet high.  And then he asked the kids if they wanted to see it.

All six kids took a turn getting a tour of our attic.  Admittedly, it is an interesting place.  One can see the original roof, as part of the house was added on in the 30s.  There are the old chimneys from fireplaces no longer in the house.  The walls in the house are very wide in order to accommodate permanent ladders to allow easy access to wiring and other such homeowner things.

I saw no need for him to show them the nest, but he did it anyway.

Since no one really talked about it, I gladly assumed it was forgotten.

Until we came home from school on Monday to find a dead opossum in the walkway up to our house.

Once the kids took a wiiiiiiide walk around it, through the deep snow and then-falling slush, the dogs ran around back.  They know the routine.  Kids come home, animals get fed.  The dogs forgot all about that dead opossum.

Except the opossum wasn't dead.  It was just playin' them for fools.

Once the coast was clear, he made his very slow move.

Right up to our front door.

That's the last photo I could take.

The closer it got, the more worried Cuckoo became.

By the time that opossum's nose was touching our storm door, Cuckoo was shoving Giant out of the way in order to get the front door closed.

And that's when the questioning began.

Can they climb?

Can they fly?

What do they eat?

Can you just go pick it up and move it?

Why will it bite you?

Why did it come out before spring got here?

Can it get in the house?

How do you know it can't climb on our roof?

On and on and on and on.

Because he's afraid the opossum is the thing that built the nest, and it will get into the attic, climb down to his bedroom, and eat him in he sleep.

Other things which kept me from getting anything done yesterday...

Ironically, on the kids' snow make-up day, we got another ice/slush/snow storm, which prompted the principals to call an early dismissal day.  Have you ever seen slush fall from the sky?  It's very weird to have slush fall on your head.

We have a chicken (or several chickens) eating eggs.  Buttercup caught one in the act two days ago.  That means I'm outside collecting eggs every hour or so, having to beat the girls to the punch.

Aaaand, it seems our roof, which we put in 7 years ago and has a 50 year warranty, is leaking.  The ceiling in our dining room has an ever-expanding yellow spot, and yesterday a bit of water was dripping through the wood in the door jam.  We're assuming it's an ice dam on the roof getting under the shingles.  Nothing to be done about it until spring, though, as no one can climb on the roof with all of the snow and ice on it.

Anyway, back to the opossum...

Cuckoo made a good one.  He crawled around at a very slow pace, pretending-but-still-using-teeth to bite people, and trying to climb random furniture, which wasn't annoying at all.  Especially when it was time to head upstairs for bed.

The real opossum stayed curled up on our front porch for quite a while.  We finally stopped watching it and went to play a game.  Cuckoo checked on it after about 15 minutes, but it was gone.  We have no idea if the dogs caught it again or if it made it back to its tunnel in the snow or if it climbed up into our attic.

We have no idea what made the gigantic nest.  I'll be calling an exterminator to have that taken care of.  At least HE won't have to wait until spring to get something done around here.

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

I Laugh to Keep Me From Crying, TToT week 35

Laughter gives us distance. It allows us to step back from an event, deal with it and then move on. 
~Bob Newhart

I could not be more thankful for laughter.  Thursday was a wallop of a day.  If I couldn't have laughed at the absurdity of it all, I never would have been able to deal with each turn of events.  (Read yesterday's post if you want to see what happened.)  This week's list will be all about the other things which gave me a chuckle or a giggle or a full-on guffaw this week.

As I was leaving for my night of volleyball in my church league, Buttercup looked at me and asked, "You're wearing your pajamas to volleyball?"  My reply:  "Dear girl, when at home they are called pajamas.  When I go to volleyball, they are called sweats."  I was touched to know she was watching out for me, though, even if it was only because she didn't want me embarrassing her.

Grace's video.  I want to be this clever, but I will settle for simply knowing how to make a video.

This conversation in the van with Cuckoo.  I had to laugh to prevent myself from crying.  And vomiting.

Cuckoo:  I can only eat one thing in the van.  Guess what it is.

Me:  (seeing that lately, his fingers are always in his mouth)  Your fingers.

C:  No!

Me:  (knowing we eat several snacks in the car after afternoon school pickup each week) Crackers.

C:  No!

Me:  I have no more guesses.  What one thing can you eat in the van?

C:  Boogers.

I've been making myself laugh this week on my Facebook page.  Doesn't even bother me that only a few people see my hilarity.  It makes me laugh.  For example, I posted this...

If you can't seem to locate a library book, all you have to do is go to the library and pay $25 for the book. Within 3 days someone will yell, "Hey, I found the library book!" Voila!

after I paid for the second book which had been missing for over a month.  Giant found one under his bed, and Turken found one on a shelf in the big boys' book closet soon after I plunked down the cash.

I am not a fan of Valentine's Day, especially for little kids, but I'm not going to forbid my kids from participating in the kindergarten Valentine's Day party.  However, instead of paying for cheap, boxed, stupid cards, I helped Turken make these "valentines" to pass out at school:

It's a sucker.  With a pretend mustache on the sucker stick.  Always a hit with the kindergarten set.

The boys were poo-pooing the men's figure skating I wanted to watch.  There was some basketball game on another channel, but I refused to let them turn it on.  It's the Olympics for Pete's sake!  Phoenix chose to voice his displeasure by annoying the tar out of me.  Lucky for him, I found his commentary to be funny.

"Why isn't he tackling anybody?"

"Which team is he on?"

"Why is he doing doughnuts on the ice?"

"Hey!  He touched the ground!  Is that legal?  Or...OR it just shows he's in control.  Yes.  He must be in control.  Control is important."

"Is this the long program or the short program?... Nevermind.  It doesn't matter.  They all seem long."

"Oh!  He's in bonus time!  Is this like Monster Trucks??  Is he going to try to crash?  Maybe lose a skate?  Run into something?"

"Everyone cheers whenever they spin.  I'd just spin the whole time."

"Except their faces are always red when they stop spinning.  That can't be good."

Cuckoo insisted on shoveling the moment the snow started falling at 11:00 on Friday.

That snow he is trying to shovel is actually ice left over from our snow storm last week.  He never moved a single scoopful.  

This is that same walkway and porch at 1:00:

We ended up with more than 5 inches.  He didn't shovel a single flake.

The endless snow and cold are taking its toll on us all.  Each of us has his own ways of coping, be it hibernating in a bedroom, actually wearing more appropriate clothing, or finding ways to play in it.  Cuckoo's coping mechanism is my favorite.  When the really big flakes started falling on Friday, he went for denial.  Every time Turken or I mentioned the snow, Cuckoo yelled, "It's not snow!  It's toilet paper!"

I was telling the kids about the church parking lot behind our house when I was a kid.  Every time it snowed (which was often.  I lived in the snow belt of northern Ohio.), the parking lot would get plowed, leaving gigantic mountain ranges of snow.  We played on those snow mountains for hours, sliding, digging forts, playing tag, and any other game our minds could conjure up.  On a whim, I told them I'd find a church parking lot with mountains of snow for them to play on.  COW, Buttercup, and Star shot down the idea, thinking I'd lost my mind.

The other kids trusted me.

To give you perspective, the person running is Phoenix.  He's 6'1" tall.  
On a related the history of snowball fights, how many have ended without the sobbing of a child who was accidentally hit in the face?  I'm thinking zero.

OK, your  turn.  Tell me what you are thankful for this week.  What made you laugh?

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Turns Out, an Overflowing Septic Tank Wasn't My Worst Problem of the Day, 7QT

Poo got real at the coop today.

I have been writing this post all day.  Something ridiculous would happen, I'd try to sit down to start the post, but before I could get 5 sentences written, something else would happen.  I'll break it down for you in the quick takes.

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

Monday afternoon I noticed a bare spot in the back yard.  When one's entire world is covered in almost a foot of snow, one notices a bare spot in the backyard.  Upon further inspection, I realized it was our septic tank.  A septic tank which was part of the system we completely overhauled 4 1/2 years ago. The overflowing "liquid" had melted all the snow.

I called a septic company to discuss the situation.  They didn't have a hose long enough to reach to the tank, so were going to have to wait until the snow melted and dried out before they could come. Since it did seem to be clear liquid and wasn't coming back into the house, we chose not to track down an expensive emergency company with enough hose.  (And crossed out fingers that Mother Nature was listening and would end this miserable winter.)

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

Thursday morning, like every morning, I did some laundry.  When I went to the basement to put the clothes in the dryer, I discovered the floor covered in water and the utility sink which the washer dumps into full of cloudy water.  Panic set in.

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

With a touch of hysteria, I explained to our septic guy that we were now in emergency mode.  The tank was backing up into our house, and it needed emptied pronto.  I was given the name of another company who might have a hose long enough to reach the back yard.  Fortunately, they did, and they could make it to our house by noon.  I put the boys and me on lock-down.  No one was to pee, wash clothes, wash dishes, wash hands, or scrub any floors until the tank was emptied.  (Truth be told, I wasn't really too upset about any of that except the peeing and hand washing.  As soon as I was told, albeit by myself, that I couldn't go to the bathroom, my body filled my bladder to the breaking point.)

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

The septic guy got here, set up, and lifted the tank's lid.  It was filled to the brim with what looked to be clean water.  I was horrified.  He was perplexed.  Apparently, all that water isn't normal in a working tank.  At one point he reached into the tank, twisted something, and pulled out a long, nasty, red...thing, and said, "You have a filter in here!"   Funny, I didn't know septic tanks had filters.  Apparently, it was something they started putting in somewhat recently.  Like 4 and a half years ago, when we got our new system.  You'd think the guy would have told us that back when the tank was installed.

Septic guy:  That filter needs cleaned once a year.  All that gunk clogging the filter is your problem.  The water can't get to the fingers, so fills up the tank.  You're lucky your lid is above ground and it could just go out into the yard instead of into your house.  Just a run under your garden hose will do the trick.

Me: "Don't know if you noticed, but we're in the middle of a Polar Vortex.  The outside spigots were emptied and turned off long ago."  (See!  We aren't completely incompetent when it comes to home maintenance!)

Septic guy:

Me:  I'll take care of it.

Yes, I took care of the nastiness by first scraping off as much as I could with a stick and snow.  I then had to bring the thing into the house (Never been more thankful for that mud room utility sink!) and hold back the vomit (Oh, the smell!) while cleaning it out.  A gallon of bleach took care of the smell and the germs.

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

The tank was emptied without further incident.  1400 gallons of...gross...was now in the truck.  He loaded up the hose, I paid him, and we made our goodbyes.

A few minutes later, I glanced outside to see that the truck was still there, just moved a bit.  I went out to investigate and found that he was stuck.  In my driveway.  Blocking my van, which I had previously moved out of the way, so he could get around the circle drive.

The day is over.  It's dark outside.  I can't take a photo of the actual drive and draw in the vehicles.  I'll try to add it in the morning.
 We decided I would move my van the other way, going up the incline and get around his truck.  He would then pull into the area I was currently in to get back on gravel.

We found the one flaw in the plan when my van got stuck, too.

While he himmed and hawed and didn't do much of anything, I worked my tail off finding a way to get my van out of that mess.  

In short, I spent 45 minutes shoveling gravel from one area of the drive, transferring it to another part, and making a new track for my van to use.  After every few feet I'd drive, I'd get stuck again and have to shovel the same gravel into another spot.  But, I did get myself out of there while the septic guy watched.

After calling school to let them know I'd be late, thanks to the septic tank truck stuck in my driveway, I went back to shoveling gravel to get his 10 ton truck moving.

Finally, finally, after over an hour, we got his truck out of my driveway.

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

I then went around the house, running water all over the place.  I started the dishwasher.  I peed.  I washed my hands.  I went to do more laundry.

When I got downstairs, I was happy to see the floor no longer had water and the sink had drained completely.

But something wasn't quite right.

There, in the drain hole, was a sock.

Seems one of the kids had at one point dropped a sock in the sink, and when the washing machine drained, the sock got jammed in the drain hole.

The freakin' septic had never backed up after all!!!  I didn't have to find an emergency septic service!!!  I didn't have to hold my pee for 7 hours!!!  I didn't have to clean a poop-covered filter inside my house!!!  I didn't have to practically kill myself digging a 12-passenger van and a 10 ton septic truck out of my driveway!!!  All I had to do was pull a sock out of the drain!!!!!

Have I mentioned home ownership bites?

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

Since we're on the topic of poo and I have one extra take left, I shall add this.

Lately, Cuckoo has been enlightening us with the multitude of ways to use the word "poopyhead".  Here I thought the only way to use it was as a retort when a brother did something you didn't like, as in, "You're a poopyhead!"  I was wrong.  "That's a poopyheaded hat!" and "Poopyhead on your poopyhead" are also acceptable ways of using the word.

Let me rephrase..."All I had to poopydo was pull a poopyheaded sock out of the poopyheaded drain!"

Head on over to Jen's to find lots of quick takes that have nothing to do with poo.

Have a lovely day!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Home, Sweet, Broken-Down Home

Home ownership can be a big pain in the neck.

Home ownership with a gaggle of children makes me want to live in a shack with nothing of value.

Or at least make them live in a shack in the backyard, so I can live in a house that has a couch with intact springs.

Alas, the "shack" is full of chickens, so in the house the children must stay.  Add their destructive selves to the normal home repairs all home owners have to deal with, and you will find a house with a need-to-do list the length of a football field.

Would you like some examples?

That was a rhetorical question.  All photos were taken this morning.  I would not suggest starting your day by taking inventory of all the broken things in your home.  It is a tad depressing.

1.  This queen-sized bedroom set was purchased when we first married.  It is broken, not because of the wild, nighttime escapades of COW and me, but because of our children who like to come into our bed on weekend mornings and "sleep" with us.  When they were little, it was more of a "climb all over Mommy and Daddy, making sure to step on their heads, pull their hair, and thrust a knee into their guts while getting comfortable and in a spot far away from the touch of any sibling" than it was a "sleep".  So far, no one's head has been punctured by the nails jutting out.  I guess crossing your fingers actually works.

2.  The boys were playing basketball in the house.

3.  A child in time-out decided he didn't like the wallpaper.

4.  All three of the light bulbs in the porch light are out, and we are unable to replace them until the Polar Vortex goes back to the tundra from which it came.  Changing the bulbs means COW has to climb a 30-ft. ladder, which is a tad too dangerous to do in the ice and wind and cold.  With the lack of light, I have become quite adept at pretending I'm blind as I navigate the pitch-black upstairs and attend to children who lost their blankies in their sleep.  Or had a nightmare about a snake in his bed.  Or needs zipped back into his suitcase.

See that door up there?  The light normally shines through there to illuminate the landings outside the kids' doors.

5.  Apparently, the best way to dry one's hands after washing is to grab onto the towel and swing from the towel bar.

6.   The boys found the confiscated basketball and played basketball in the house.

7.   A child walking up the stairs saw a teeny, tiny bit of wallpaper had begun to peel off and thought he should remove it.

8.  The sensors on the back of the van don't work in the middle of a monsoon-like storm, so the driver of the van, returning from the store with a trunk-load of groceries, didn't know she was too close to the porch steps until she heard and felt the crunch.

9.  Seems children can't hear or remember their mother's plea to, "GET OFF THE RAILING!!!!".

10.  When the boys couldn't find the confiscated basketball, they chose to play soccer in the house instead.

This partial tour of our should-be shack is brought to you by Stasha's Monday Listicles, where the topic for today is "10 Things in Your House Which Need to Be Fixed".  I'm the one who suggested it in a moment of weakness as I sat and looked at our unfinished game room and the living room's missing fireplace under the mantel.

What sorts of things are on your "Fix Someday" list?  Please tell me you have a "Fix Someday" list of things to do, and some of those things have been on the list for over a year or two.  Lie if you must.

Have a lovely day!

Friday, February 7, 2014

We Avoided Puke but Not Body-Snatching, TToT Week 34

“Gratitude goes beyond the 'mine' and 'thine' and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy.”

– Henri J.M. Nouwen

It hasn't been a normal week here at the coop.  Our house became a revolving door for a 24-hour illness.  Each day, one kid went down as one was getting up.  No vomiting, thank heavens, but fevers and headaches and sore throats took their toll.  I am the only one who hasn't gotten it.

To add to the oddness, the van has been having trouble starting in these cold temps.  The battery was corroding and dying and suffering greatly.  I have become quite adept at hunting down a borrowed working vehicle and hooking jumper cables to it.

Unfortunately, the snow and cold we are dealing with has become our normal.

Hershey would really like spring to get here, too.


1.  Honest people working in retail are still out there to be found.  I went to Auto Zone to get a new battery for the van, since they will install it after I purchase it.  The man came out to look at the dead battery and told me he didn't want to do it.  The battery and bolts were starting to corrode, and if they broke he wouldn't be able to fix it.  He suggested I go to the dealer or an actual mechanic to buy the battery and have it installed.  (Don't tell me it is company policy to only do easy, uncomplicated battery changes.  I'd rather be naive.)

2.  Our local Ford dealership has the ability to get me in quickly.  I called them Friday morning, asking for the very first available time, and he said, "Come in right now."  An hour after I called, the van was fixed and I was on my way to pick Turken up from kindergarten.

3.  For the first time in the 11 years I've been associated with our preschool, we are having a snow make-up day.   The mother of one of the preschoolers told her daughter about the make-up day.  After pondering it for a minute, the preschooler replied, "Well, I guess I'll wear blue eye shadow, since that's kinda like snow, and I'll wear red lipstick, because that's the color of cardinals..."

(Did you catch why that is so adorably hysterical?  A make-up day.  She's planning the make-up she's going to wear.)

4.  Wednesday was yet another day off of school thanks to the 7 or so inches of snow which fell overnight.  For this one, I was grateful.  It was Phoenix's day to be sick, and missing a day of high school is a Bad Idea.  The day off gave everyone a chance to sleep and relax and get all the germiness banished.  Plus, since I didn't have to do all the picking up and dropping off, I could stay home and wash the sheets of all the sick people in a single day.

5.  We can pay our heating bill and still have enough money for food.

6.  A lovely, helpful neighbor plowed our driveway for us on Thursday.  He couldn't get around the circle, since my van was there, but by plowing the long, straight portion of the drive, he saved COW and me lots and lots of work with the snow blower.

7.  I could go on and on about how wonderful my husband is, but I don't want to brag.  I'll just leave it at "COW is awesome."

8.  Two nights in a row we had an animal get into the chicken coop.  The only way we can figure it got in was by climbing a tree leaning on the back of the coop (You can see the tree in a couple of the redneck fence post pictures.), climbing over the roof, and prying the window out of the frame.

The first night we found the window lying on the ground on the outside of the coop.  One chicken was half-eaten inside the coop.

The second night, the same window was cracked in half, with the top portion on the ground outside the coop.  One chicken was missing, and one chicken was freezing, covered in ice, shivering in an old dog house just outside the coop.

COW and Phoenix put chicken wire up over the windows, and we haven't lost any more chickens since.  The chicken which spent the night in the snow is back to her old self.

The plywood was put up where the broken window (made of plexiglass) used to be.

9.  Our tradition with the kids is to have a feast of party food while watching the Super Bowl.  When COW takes charge of the food, he heads to the store's freezer section and buys every box of crap he can find that the kids might like.  He also buys odd non-foods just for fun.  (I don't think Lizzi will ever be the same after seeing the photos of the spray cheese last year.)  I try to get less horrible choices in where I can.

This year, I took the reigns.  I let them have some frozen pizza, but it was the not-so-bad kind.  I let them have frozen pretzels.  The rest was their junk, but with some health to go with it.

They had chicken nuggets, but they were the homemade, baked kind.  The strawberries were covered in chocolate.  The apples came with caramel dip.  The chips and queso was made with our homemade salsa.  The bags of chips were "natural" cheese puffs and veggie straws.  They all love banana bread and deviled eggs.  And because of all of these compromises, everyone was happy, and NOBODY PUKED!

10.  THE OLYMPICS HAVE BEGUN!!!!  I love, love, love watching the Olympics.  I love the stories behind the athletes.  I get teary every time they play our national anthem.  I'm in awe of the feats these athletes attempt.  (Honestly, those snowboarders are crazy!)  It's fun to be united as a country to root our athletes on.

How about those opening ceremonies???  FANTASTIC!!!  They were shooting for the biggest and best, and they delivered.  I loved the whole show.

Okie doke, it's your turn.  What gifts have you been given this week?

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts