Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Ask a Stupid Question...

Happy National Ask a Stupid Question Day!

I know.  The teacher in me automatically responds, "But there are no stupid questions!" And yet...the mother in me is shouting my teacher side down with, "Oh yes there is!"  For example, when a child wants to talk snakes to death and you say, "Honey, I don't know all the names of all the different kinds of snakes," and he asks, "Which ones don't you know?"  THAT is a stupid question.

Actually, I didn't know it was Ask a Stupid Question Day until Lisa from The Golden Spoons said so.  She hosts a weekly link up called Tuesday's Ten, and this week we're celebrating the holiday by answering 10 questions from this list of 100 questions.

I had Turken give me 10 numbers between 1 and 100 then answered those questions.

5. Without looking, guess what time it is.

4:00.  I know this because I have 15 minutes to write before we leave for church.

10. Do you remember your dreams?

Sometimes.  I'm sure I have good dreams, but I never remember them.  I can only seem to recall the horrifying dreams that make me uneasy (or even angry) and suspicious all day.

20. If you could change one thing about the world, what would you do?

I would want to end the suffering of people with horrible diseases that take children and parents and loved ones before we're ready.  I would take the hate and meanness away from everyone's hearts so that everyone could live happily and without fear of others.  I would blight peas, so they would never show up on anyone's plate or in anyone's pot pies ever again.  My one would be one of those three.

35. Do you have a garden?

I do have a garden.  A great big one that is mostly done for the year.  There are just a few tomatoes and bell peppers left growing.  The rest is either canned, eaten, or sitting in a bucket waiting to be canned.

37.  What is the first thing that you think of when you wake up in the morning?

Why in the name of all that is good is that stupid song in my head?

44.  If you don't have a tattoo, why?

Let me count the ways...1.  It's pain I don't need to go through.  2.  I don't really see the point.  3.  When I see a tattoo, all I can do is think about what it will look like in 40 years.  And then I usually laugh at that image.

55.  Have you ever had to wear a uniform to school?

Every year from first grade through my senior year in high school.  Uniforms are the best!

60.  Where were you on Valentine's Day?

Either at home or one of the boys' basketball games.  We don't really see the point of celebrating our love on a particular day.

71.  Do you sing in the shower?

No, but I do sing at home, in the car, in the grocery store, and any other place that has music playing, much to the delight or chagrin of my children, depending on which one you're asking.

And because I didn't like the last question he picked, I picked a different one...

39.  Who sent the last text message you received?

Last night I decided at the last minute to go to Phoenix's county tournament game with the 4 youngest boys.  I asked Giant to "text Dad and let him know we're coming to the game".  He grabbed my phone and did as requested.

This text conversation was the result.

So, how are you going to celebrate National Ask a Stupid Question Day?  I'm sure Lisa would love to have you link up with us!

Have a lovely day!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Bryan Pops Some Tags at the Outlet Mall

Bryan and I have been married 20 years.  In those 20 years, he has been shopping for clothes for himself one time.  One.  Time.  Ten years ago.  His work wardrobe consists of threadbare polos and a few pairs of khaki pants (all with holes forming around the spot in his pocket where his wallet goes) and one pair of brown shoes that he wears every single day.  Which would explain the worn out toes and soles.

He hates to shop.  I used to just buy him a few things whenever I saw something on sale, but I gave up.  I never got the size right and ended up having to return half the things.  I decided that he was an adult and could handle his own attire.

His solution was to not worry about it.

Until he had to.

I had it all planned that he and I would go out for his birthday on Friday night.  On Friday afternoon, he called me to say, "I know this is going to sound like I've lost my mind, but I think we should go to the outlet mall (in the town near our house) to shop for new clothes for me.

I couldn't believe my ears.  I was happy that he was finally going to do it, but I was a little bummed.  I knew it could be a rough night.

Let me take you through a shopping trip with Bryan.

In quotes.

Store 1:  Shopping for pants and polos.

Bryan, after exiting the changing room wearing a pair of khakis:  "These fit, but there's no room for growth."
Me:  Well, I'm pretty sure you're past the age where we need to worry about you growing.
Bryan:  Pretty sure that in the next 10 years I'll be growing.

He bought the next bigger waist size.

Store 2:  Shoes

Bryan:  "I know this sounds crazy, but I think I'm going to get 4 pairs.  It's a buy one get one 50% off sale."
Me, holding up a pair of boat shoes:  "Only if you are going to go wild and buy something like these.  You know, something that an adult would wear with jeans or shorts instead of one of the 8 pairs of worn out running shoes you wear."
Bryan:  "Only if they have ties on them.  I can't get shoes that don't have laces."

He bought 1 pair each of black, brown, and burgundy dress shoes and one pair of blue (slip on with pretend ties) casual shoes.

At least nothing was velcro.  He had a mess of velcro when we met in high school.  Even his wallet and his shorts were velcro.  It took me years to break him of his velcro addiction.

Store 3:  Luggage

I promised Lizzi that I would have better, less back-breaking luggage the next time I came to visit.  I'm pretty sure the luggage we had was a wedding gift, back before modern technology gave us luggage one didn't have to actually carry.  Since there was a luggage outlet store, we went in and decided to buy some.  This happened when Bryan went to pay:

Teller:  "I'm sorry, but your card was declined."
Bryan:  "Really?!?!  Let me swipe it again."
Teller: "Declined."
Bryan:  "Hold on.  My phone is ringing."
Bryan:  "It's the credit card company.  They stopped payment thinking my card was stolen."
Teller waits 5 minutes while Bryan calls card company and verifies all three purchases.

We then left the store, laughing our full heads off.

"They were concerned, seeing as how the charges weren't on a weekday for $7 at Taco Bell."
"I guess when we do this again in 10 years, we'll notify the card company first."
"With these purchases, the only two conclusions they could come to was stolen card or husband leaving his wife.  They wanted to stop me either way."
"It is a little creepy that they can identify odd charges and call so fast.  Although, I appreciate the fact they have my back if you decide to head for the hills."
"I kinda wish Buttercup was here.  She would have been mortified."
"You're writing a blog post already aren't you?"
"The post is writing itself, Honey."

At one point during the shopping trip, I took a photo to put on Instagram.

Just before going in to buy the luggage.

I was trying to come up with a funny caption that started, "A sight more rare than..."

I couldn't come up with the right analogy, so I asked Bryan for an example of something that was rare to see.  He replied, "Haley's Comet".  True, but that is far from funny.

I never did get it posted, seeing as how the captions we came up with started lame and went downhill from there.

"...a full set of teeth in a Wal-Mart" is the best of the worst we could come up with before we got distracted by the clothing in the 4th store.

Store 4, aka the last store:  More shirts

Me: "Any chance you'd go way out of the comfort zone and get something...I don't know...not blue or green?"
Bryan: "Yes. I need to look hip, what with these new associates we've hired looking up to me and all."

The man actually picked up an orange polo and a purple button down.

Watch out Associates.  The bald, "beer"-bellied hipster is in the house.

Store 4, continued:

I knew this store was going to be a problem.  It was a problem when we were here 10 years ago, and I knew things hadn't changed.  I even mentioned it when we went in the store.

As we walked up to pay for his new, hip clothing, I took a look at the poor teller.  She was just a young, adorable girl.  I felt bad for her before any word was spoken.

Teller:  "Can I have your email address?"
Bryan:  "No."
Teller: "It's just to let you know when we have some deals coming up."
Bryan:  "No."
Teller, wide-eyed:
Bryan:  "Use your own."
Teller types something while muttering:  "Fine.  I'll use my own."
Teller:  "Can I have your first and last name?"
Bryan:  "No."
Teller: "No?"
Bryan:  "No.  Are you going to let me buy clothes without giving you my name or am I walking out of here with nothing?"
Teller, looking down, muttering:  "I just want to make my managers happy."

He walked out with his purple and orange shirts, proclaiming, "When I come back in 10 years, I'll have a name for them.  I'm leaning towards Seymour Butts."

It was then that I remembered an incident with Buttercup.

I took her shopping last week for some much-needed church clothes.  I had her pay for something while I went to a different store.  After paying, she came up to me and said, "She asked for an email address.  I gave her yours, but instead of saying christineL I told her it was christineA."

It seems an aversion to tellers and their nosy questions is hereditary.

Have a lovely day!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Soccer Is Kicking My Behind and Other Excuses for Not Reading or Writing Blog Posts, TToT Week 67

I look forward to these thankful lists every week.  It is such a positive exercise, and reading everyone's always makes me smile.  Plus, through everyone's big and small thankfuls, I get to know you all better.  That's why I felt terrible that I couldn't make the rounds last week.  Soccer season is one gigantic time-taker-upper.  Add to that all of the other, normal and abnormal things that our family has to do these days, and I didn't have one spare minute.  I'm so sorry.  This weekend should be marginally better.  Sunday isn't booked solid.  Once we're through the first week of October, life will calm down considerably.  I'd be grateful if you all stick with me!

All righty, on to my thankfuls for this week.

(Numbered just for Dyanne)

1.  The entire week was nothing but blue skies and temperatures between 70 and 80 degrees.  It couldn't have been better for all of the activities we had going on this week.

2.  There is a third grader in our school who has (most likely) terminal cancer.  It is one sad situation, to say the least, but the beauty of seeing the community come together to support him is awesome.  Last weekend, the entire third grade football team had a hair shaving event.  Every one of them shaved their heads bald in solidarity the day that they were being introduced at the high school football game.  This week, our entire school had it's annual walk-a-thon.  Normally the kids raise money for an organization close to someone in our school community, for example to support camps for kids with diabetes.  This year they walked for the third grader.  Everyone bought matching t-shirts and did what they could to raise funds to support Make-a-Wish Foundation and to help pay the family's medical bills.  The kids raised almost $9000.

3.  Remember last week when I told you about Phoenix's soccer success?  Well, Saturday morning during the varsity game, a defender was pulled out and they threw Phoenix into his place.  He played the entire half.  After that, the coaches decided he was no longer going to play JV, but would play varsity.  Since then, he has had another game and played all of one half and part of the other.  He's doing so well, and I couldn't be happier for him.

4.  Phoenix has also had a big week in another way.  He was finally officially diagnosed with ADD (We'd assumed it for a while and had been doing a variety of things with him to help, all with very little success.)  and was put on medication.  He's taken it for two days, and he said he actually feels a difference.  He took a really hard Algebra quiz one of those days, and he said he never would have finished it before.  Actually, Buttercup (who is in his class) didn't finish it, and she has the highest grade in the class.  I am so glad there are alternatives to help kids who are suffering.

5.  Buttercup is a peach.  We have had a chance to spend quite a bit of time talking this week, and I just love the way she thinks.  We also went shopping for some much needed church clothes and a homecoming dress.  We didn't argue once over her choices (except I suggested a bit more (some?!?!) sparkle, and she refused.), as she never looked twice at anything that wasn't modest or appropriate for a 14 year old girl.

6.  I got the nicest email from a fellow 7th grade parent.  She helps out with the music for the weekly school mass, and she emailed simply to let me know a story about Giant.  She said after mass, he and two other boys, unsolicited, went to ask her if she needed help packing everything up.  She was so happy to have some help, especially when she didn't even have to ask for it.

7.  The tooth fairy remembered to come the first night Turken's first lost tooth showed up under his pillow. Our fairy has been known to be a slacker, sometimes not getting here for a week or so after a tooth is lost.  Glad he was on it this time.

8.  I was able to have breakfast with a friend.  She is someone I've known for a few years, but we've never had the chance to see much of each other, much to our chagrin.  This year, her daughter and Turken are in the same class, and her son is on the cross country team with Giant and Star.  Plus, I have some extra time during the day with only one child.  All together, it's meant I've seen more of her in a month than I've seen her in the year before.  It's been so nice.

9.  Two pigs made it to the butcher.  There was a time when I didn't think we'd have any left by now.  Fortunately, they made it, and I will have pork in the freezer again this winter.  (If you want to read the mildly amusing post about the loading of the pigs, it was in Thursday's post.)

10.  Bryan's birthday is Saturday, and we were able to go out on a date Friday night.  It's the first time we were out alone together since we got back from England, and we really needed the time together away from everyone and their driving needs.  It was an extremely odd date, with loads of laughter, and I cannot wait to write a post about it.  It practically wrote itself, and Bryan knew it.  (Yes, I'll be making fun of him, and he's perfectly ok with it.)

What has made your heart sing this week?  Link a post or tell me in the comments!

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Join the Ten Things of Thankful Facebook Group

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Twists of Many Kinds, None of Which Are Edible

The situation:  Indianapolis, specifically the south side of Indianapolis, has a large population of Burmese refugees.  Five children in Cuckoo's class are children of refugees.  Because he notices everything, Cuckoo noticed that these children's parents don't speak English.  And because he must talk everything to death, we had a long discussion about refugees.  I then put it out of my mind.

The mostly unexpected twist:  I never told Bryan about this conversation.  He took a couple of kids to McAlister's one night, and as they waited to order, Cuckoo noticed a Burmese family already seated.  Because he frequently restarts conversations completely out of the blue, he turned to Bryan and asked, "Why are brown people here?" Bryan is baffled and shocked and embarrassed and immediately started the shushing.  Cuckoo cannot be shushed.  Instead, he perked up and said, "OH!  I know! There are better houses here!"

FYI:  That's not what I said.

The situation:  Turken finally lost his first tooth!

The unexpected twist:  He lost it at 3:00 in the morning.  He came into our room to tell us.  I was only half awake and told him to leave the tooth on my dresser.  We would take care of it in the morning.  I didn't even ask him if he was bleeding.  And then, in the morning, I never even saw the tooth.  It was a busy day, and I was in a hurry to get out of the house.  I didn't get home until after he was in bed, with the tooth securely placed under his pillow.  The tooth fairy took it, so I actually never even saw that first lost tooth once it came out of his mouth.  Poor, poor 5th child.

This is the best photo we could get of him showing off the space in his teeth. Photogenic is not his middle name.

The situation:  Last week several teachers and Bryan and I filled out assessments.  On Monday, we got word from Phoenix's doctor that she is sure he has ADD.  We had pretty much assumed it before this, and had been trying all sorts of things to help him get himself together.  Nothing worked.  So we decided to put him on the lowest dose of Vyvanse (a prescription medicine).  The plan was to start the meds on Wednesday morning.

The startling twist:  For a variety of reasons, I couldn't get the prescription picked up until right before the pharmacy closed on Tuesday.  I came into the parking lot from the back of the building, and when I pulled around the side of it, I almost ran into a car.  It was parked parallel to the building, and a police car, with lights flashing, was parked behind it.  As my eyes tried to adjust to the headlights of two cars pointed directly at me, another police car careened into the lot and pulled up next to the other police car.  I then noticed a man with his hands high in the air standing in the line of the headlights of the first police car.  I may not be the most street smart fake farmer in the world, but I knew that was no place for me to be.  I slowly backed up and nonchalantly left the lot.

Phoenix started his meds on Thursday.

The situation:  The day for the pigs to leave for the butcher arrived.  After much gnashing of teeth, eye-opening revelations, and hard work on Bryan's part, the two remaining pigs were in the barn waiting for the real farmer/pig transporter to arrive.  Loading the pigs shouldn't be too hard, so I was on my way out the door to take Star to practice then on to Phoenix's first official game as a varsity player.  I even remembered to take my camera.

The very predictable twist:  Nothing is every easy when pigs are involved.  As Star and I headed for the car, I decided to stop and take a quick photo of the tractor backed up to the barn.  You know, for a stock photo in case I ever needed it.  I snapped one...

and then a second shot, since the dogs had moved into their normal, pig-loading position.

Notice anything wrong in the photos?  (In the first one, the pig's head is barely visible, just squeezing between the barn and the cage Bryan and the farmers were trying to get him into.)

I threw the camera in my car and started hobble-running down to the barn, yelling, "Ouch!  Pig's out!  Ouch!  Pig's out!"  Fortunately, the dogs stayed right on the line and kept the pig from heading out into the open yard.  I managed to get down there before it got around the corner to the backside of the barn.  It turned around and headed towards the big barn.  I knew that if it got to the other side of that barn, we'd be in gigantic trouble, so I hobble-ran around to the other side, this time only yelling, "Ouch!  Ouch!"  I got there just in time to throw a food trough in the path of the pig.  It turned him around and straight at one of the real farmers.  Between him, the dogs, and luck, they got the pig back into the barn.

I never did see Bryan during the debacle.  Pretty sure he was trapped in the barn.

The situation:  Cuckoo isn't the biggest fan of being kissed, but he does allow me to kiss him occasionally.  Each morning he gets out of bed and comes to cuddle on my lap.  I have to ask him if it is a kissing day or not before I plant one on the top of his head.

The naughty twist:  Earlier this week, before I could even ask, he said, "It will be a kissing day...if you let me watch TV.  If I can't watch TV, it will not be a kissing day."  It seems the big kids have yet to tell their little brother that it is never a good idea to give Mom an ultimatum.  That boy will never see another episode of Wild Kratts if he keeps this up.

The situation:  Loads of things have been happening around here that I want to write about.

The way that it is twist:  Because of those things, I have no time to write about them properly.

Oh well.  I'm pretty sure you'll live.

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

I Finally Got to See an Orangutan 30 Some Feet in the Air and Other Things for Which I'm Thankful, TToT Week 66

After the birth of each of my kids, I was back to my normal size fairly quickly without having to change the way I was already doing things.  My sister always complained that it just wasn't fair.  With each pregnancy, she would cross her fingers and wish that THIS would be the one that hung on.  The one which caused me to have to buy larger pants.  It never happened, much to her chagrin.

Well, my sister will be very happy to hear that while it wasn't a pregnancy, it was a knee that did me in.  Since May, I have gained 10 pounds.  All because I've been sitting around doing nothing.  Being unable to go up and down stairs, feed the animals, go for a walk, play with the kids, clean my house, do yardwork, weed the garden, or go to the zoo has caused my pants to get tighter and tighter.

I am happy to say the sitting around has come to an end.  My knee isn't back to normal, but I am finally able to start getting back to a normal activity level.  I've been taking care of the chickens, doing laundry, cleaning the house, making dinners, and just moving in general.  It's been exhausting, but it feels good.  I am astounded how quickly a body gets completely out of shape!

We had a normal amount of chaos this week.  Sure, the kids had us running until as late as 10:00 pm, but there were no major catastrophes.  No scheduling snafus.  No injuries.  That makes for a good week.

As I now am back to working around this little farm, I am repeatedly thrilled with all that it provides, even in its disastrous state.  I was able to make dinner last night, and more than half the ingredients in the Shepard's pie came from our own yard.  The apple and pear trees feed us while the mulberry and persimmon trees feed our chickens.  The large yard allows us to dry our clothes and sheets outside, thus avoiding even higher utility bills.  The food scraps and chicken bedding get composted to help grow the veggies in the garden.  We may be a long drive to get anywhere, but living out here has afforded us a very good life.

While we do grow and raise a lot of our own food, I still spend plenty at the grocery store each month.  I don't cut coupons, mostly because I don't have time and there aren't coupons for the things I spend the most money on.  I couldn't be happier that my store has an alternative.  Meijer has this thing called mperks.  You can clip coupons on line and they are just automatically taken off when you check out.  I use that some, but my biggest savings come from their rewards program.  In one month, I can earn up to 9 different rewards, just for buying the things I always buy.  Just this month I've earned $15 off my bill.  When I spend $90 more, I'll earn another $20 off.  It's awesome.  AND I don't have to give them my email or anything else.  Just my cell phone number.

Soccer is in full swing to say the least.  Weekends are filled with hours and hours of games.  I am so happy to be at a club which has coaches who stress learning fundamentals, having fun, and becoming better people, not just better soccer players.  On Thursday, the club had it's annual build your own soccer ball night.  Each player has to make a ball with materials from around the house and bring it to practice.  At practice, everyone, including coaches, take off their shoes and play some games barefoot with the homemade balls.  No refs.  No parents watching.  Just kids having loads of fun. Just like kids all over the world do.  Along with the homemade balls, the kids are encouraged to bring soccer balls and cleats and other soccer gear to donate.  Everything brought in is given to organizations which supply kids in undeveloped countries with soccer equipment.

Still speaking of soccer, I love to watch Phoenix play.  He is not what you would call a confident teen.  He is quiet and practically scared to death to ask adults questions.  (I once had to drag him to the librarian's desk and coach him through what he would say to her once he got there.  He just wanted to find a book.  He was 14.)  However, on a soccer field, he is a completely different person.  He was actually unanimously voted captain of the JV team by both his teammates and his coaches.  He loves the game and is very good at helping others become better players.  He's confident and a great leader.  It's astonishing, really.

And still speaking of soccer, Buttercup has finally, after three weeks, been cleared to play again.  She had her first game on Wednesday and played most of the game.  She played well and her head didn't bother her in the least.

Now that we have 2 kids in high school and 2 in middle school, we pretty much have to go to football games.  I am way more worried about going than I ever was when I was in high school.  I don't know all that many people at the high school, and I worry I'll be the dork sitting alone in the stands.  Fortunately, I have a friend who feels the same way.   We text each other beforehand to make sure the other will be there and meet up.  Makes my Friday nights a whole lot more enjoyable.

We have had a couple of days with perfect weather.  If we could have 75 and sunshine every day, I'd never be unhappy.

Cuckoo and I took full advantage of the weather on Friday by heading to the zoo.  We have been members there for 16 years.  I have been at least 100 times.  I am never bored with it.  In other zoos, I felt bad for the animals, being locked up in a little cage.  Zoos are changing, people.  I don't feel sorry for the animals at our zoo.  The zoo staff is constantly building new and better enclosures to give the animals a more natural habitat while giving visitors a close-up look at the animals.  This time, we finally were able to see the completed orangutan exhibit.  We were not disappointed.  No joke, if you are ever in the Indianapolis area, let me take you to the zoo.  Not only can you see the orangutans...

That up there, between the two ropes untold feet in the air, is an orangutan.
but you can also pet a shark...

or just watch the sharks.  Whatever floats your boat.

It's an awesome zoo.

After we saw the animals, we headed out to see some more of downtown.  I just love this city.  It's so pretty, there's so much to do, and it's all within walking distance.  You really, really should come spend some time here.  I'll be happy to show you around!

The bridge across the White River connecting the zoo side with the rest of downtown.  

So much green space and so many little outdoor venues.

the canal that runs through downtown and well up into the north side ends here in a waterfall that spills into the White River.
Alright, it is time for me to head to bed.  Lots and lots and lots to do tomorrow.

Don't be shy.  Let me know what you are appreciating this week!

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Join the Ten Things of Thankful Facebook Group

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

5 Steps the Instructional Site Forgot, or Apples: Before and After

Canning apples is easy, just like my favorite canning instructional site says it is.  However, they leave out a few key details when explaining how it all goes down.  Before you start canning all of those lovely apples ripening in orchards all over our latitude, take heed.  I have learned a few things in my years.

1.  DO NOT attempt to do this alone.  Preparing the apples takes time.  Especially when one uses completely organic trees from one's overgrown and aged backyard apple trees.  The more abnormally shaped your apples are, the longer it will take to prepare them.  If you aren't quick enough, your apples will turn to brown mush before you are able to get them into the jars.  Citric acid and cold water can only do so much.

Also, when I say don't do it alone, I don't mean that a 5 year old should help you.  You're better off to do it alone.  Like I did on Monday.  Because giving advice is a whole lot easier than practicing what I preach.

2.  Apples don't have to be pretty to preserve them.  Ours are everything but pretty.  The kids won't eat them straight off the tree, and honestly, I don't blame them.  However, the ugliest of apples sometimes turn out to be the very best ones.

3.  DO NOT take a shower before you start.  If you have to wear clothes, wear the clothes that wash well.  Apples are juicy, and the corer/peeler/slicer sends that juice flying.  You will be covered before the day is done.

And when I say flying, I mean flying directly at you.

4.  DO NOT can apples on a day soon after you scrubbed your kitchen floor or wiped down your cabinets or washed your kitchen walls.  You'll have to do it all over again.

I told you that corer/peeler/slicer sent the juice flying!  Oh, and the peels make an awful mess, too.

Bucket on the floor between my feet for the peels to fall into.  Or in it's general vicinity.
Note:  Cheerios have nothing to do with canning apples, but everything to do with the "Do not scrub your floor" directive.

When your bucket runneth over...

5.  Make sure your children know that you spent countless hours canning these apples.  The looks on their faces when they see those jars lined up will make the entire effort worth it.  Dreams of apple cinnamon pancakes will be dancing in their heads, and they may actually be especially kind to you for the rest of the day.

Probably should have shown you their excited faces.  Oh well.  I didn't have my camera ready.

Linking up with Josie today, who's prompt was "before or after".

Two Shoes Tuesdsay

Have a lovely day!

Friday, September 12, 2014

At Least It's not Snowing! Ten Things of Thankful, Week 65

1.  As much as I'd like to complain about the jacket weather we are having, which just isn't right because I haven't sweat nearly enough this summer for it to be over already, I'm not going to.  I'm just going to be thankful I don't live in South Dakota.

2.  The cold weather was pushed in by a cold front that hit us Wednesday night.  In anticipation of the storms racing towards Indianapolis, all outdoor soccer was cancelled.  The entire family was home by 6:30 to have an actual dinner prepared by me at the same time at the same table.  That hasn't happened much at all this school year thanks to high school soccer.  It was noisy and boisterous and wonderful.

3.  Each month parents at our school prepare food for the teachers to celebrate the birthdays of that month.  8th grade parents were in charge of September.  It was the perfect time for me to get some pork out of the freezer in preparation for the next butcher day.  Pulled pork for everyone!

4.  While getting the teacher's lounge set up with the food, I managed to splash BBQ sauce all over the front of the dress I was wearing that day.  (It is the most comfortable dress I have ever owned.  I wear it all the time.  It's from Land's End and is very reasonably priced.)  Of course I wasn't going home for hours and hours and hours.  Thankfully, the dress is busy enough and loose enough that a person would to be having to look closely to notice the giant red stains down the front.  Even more thankfully, it all came out in the wash that night.

5.  Funny how wearing a dress makes people think something special is going on.  While I was in the office, before I spilled the BBQ sauce, the principal was in there and we were chatting.  She asked if I was headed to work (since I was wearing a dress).  When I told her I was laid off, since the preschool didn't have enough kids to fill two rooms this year, she perked up and actually offered me a job on the spot.  It would have been the perfect job for me...next year.  This year, Cuckoo is only in school for 3 hours three days a week, so I am not available for all of the time she would need me.  (Two full days) It's nice to know I could get hired, though.  It may lead to something else in the future.

6.  I made it through my first week without Cuckoo and without physical therapy to keep me occupied.  It is absolutely shocking how many errands a person can get done when she doesn't have a little person or two with her.  In one three hour period,  I did more things than I normally would have done in three days.  While the little boys are really good when I do errands, I never do more than one or two in a row with them.  Maybe that's why they are so good.  They know it won't last long before they can go home (or somewhere else) to play.

7.  You may (or may not) recall that back in May I backed into a car when my van's sensors weren't working.  The impact took out one of my taillights.  Between the surgery and all of the traveling and physical therapy, repairs were put way down on the list of things to do.  With Cuckoo in school, I was finally able to get that fixed.  I'm most grateful that we made it through almost four months without a taillight without getting a ticket.

8.  While we need a new washer, I am glad that we have one and the dryer that goes with it.  This summer has been ridiculously rainy and not hot, so we haven't been able to hang our clothes out on the line very much.  Glad we have the dryer as our back-up plan.  Especially since one particular 5 year old has had a serious case of bed-wetting lately.

9.  I've managed to catch up with several friends over the last week and a half.  After the summer, when everyone scatters and we see little of each other, it's nice to get back and chat and see what they've been up to.

10.  We have lots of soccer games this weekend and one cross country meet.  I'm glad my kids are athletic, because I do love to watch them (and their teammates) play.

That's all for me tonight.  Now tell me, what has made you smile this week?

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Join the Ten Things of Thankful Facebook Group

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mom Fails Aren't So Bad When They Come with Cute Kid Videos and 6 Other Quick Takes

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

The big kids were never, ever allowed to have gum when they were little.  Thoughts of gum in hair, carpet, couches, clothes, and car seats led me to tell my kids that gum was an exotic, adult-only delicacy.  Fortunately, Phoenix is a gullible kid, so we were able to keep that ruse going until Buttercup ruined it around...maybe...age 10.  Even once they knew about it, I never bought it for them.  As a result, no one knows how to blow bubbles.  I'm pretty sure I cannot claim the title "Fun Mom" for that reason alone.

Cuckoo has been allowed to chew gum since he turned 5, and he's been asking me to teach him to blow a bubble ever since.  After a week of sessions, this as far as he's gotten.

Reminds me of the time I tried to teach my grandma how to blow a bubble.  She looked just like that.

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

Can't tell you how much I hate to buy eggs.  We go through at least 3 dozen a week, and those eggs not laid by my chickens aren't anywhere near as good as the ones to which we have become accustomed.  And the vegetarian-fed chicken ones I've been seeing annoy me.  Chickens aren't naturally vegetarians.  They love to eat bugs.  I know this vegetarian thing means there aren't any animal-byproducts in the food.  Chickens don't naturally eat dead animals, either. The cage-free but no sunshine bugs me, too.  I'm guessing it all just annoys me because I'm buying eggs.  I'll get over it in about 4-5 months when our chicks are full grown.

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

Since it seems I'm never going to get to tell the whole story, and we're weeks past the event anyway, I'll just give you the quick version of Cuckoo's birthday dinner.

5:30: As we are heading out the door to his restaurant of choice, Cuckoo tells me his stomach hurts.  I tell him he's fine, as he has been fine all day long.
6:15: We are a family of 8 squished into a booth made for 6 small people  (Think airplane seating without the personal space armrests afford.) when our food is brought to the table.
6:16: Cuckoo doesn't eat a bite and doesn't balk when siblings eat some of the chips off of his plate.
6:17: Cuckoo vomits nice and quietly and neatly and profusely onto his plate of food.
6:17:02: Buttercup draws all the attention Cuckoo was kind enough to NOT draw by screeching over and over, "I'm going to be sick!  That is so gross!  Get me out of here!"
6:17:10: Giant calmly and quietly states, "Well, I guess we won't be eating any more of his chips."

Basically, just another time in our family history where our kids make a very public display of illness.

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

FYI to anyone who has refused to step up and volunteer:  When I finally agree to be the communications person because no one else will, don't, I repeat DON'T, then come to me and tell me what I should do as the communications person.  Just don't.

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

So, I have an iPad and the big kids have old iPods.  Recently, Giant started using iMessages to text his friends.  His friends do group texts.  A LOT. Until after Giant goes to bed and even in the morning after Giant has headed off to school.  I normally wouldn't care, but I do now.  My iPad dings every single time one of them texts.  My iPad is full of messages between 12 year olds.

Even worse, any time I message my friend in Japan, Giant gets it.  I don't need my 12 year old getting texts between my friend and me.

Anyone know what to do about this?

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

Still mighty sad about having all my kids in school.  I ran into someone I haven't seen for a while while at the grocery store.  She said it took a minute for her to recognize me, because I didn't have any kids with me.  When I told her that they were all in school, she actually started to cry.  Of course that meant I started crying.  Right there in the middle of the baking aisle.

I bought cake.

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

I bought cake, because we are celebrating our third of three birthdays in 2 weeks.  Giant's birthday is today!  I bet you can't tell how old he is today...

And with this, I can officially say I used to be a cake decorator.  I no longer take more than 5 minutes to add some color and sprinkles to the birthday cakes.  Lamedy lame lame.

However, in 2 weeks, I'll be spending approximately 3 days to make Bryan's beloved birthday red cake.  That makes up for all of the lameness the boys endured.

And with that, I'm done.  If you have the time, head on over to Jen's to take a gander at her (and some of the many linker uppers) 7 Quick Takes!

Have a lovely day!

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Phone Story...Which You Will Probably Find Anti-climactic After That Awesome Teaser on Saturday

I am not technologically advanced.

I don't like my technology to change.

That is why my phone, which I have had for four years, had never been updated.

Until last weekend, I still had version 4.1.

I don't know what that means.  I don't know what it is a version of.  All I know is that when the kids heard this bit of info, they were appalled.  They laughed and shook their heads vehemently. It must mean something bad to illicit such a reaction.

And apparently I'm addicted to Instagram, because if it weren't for that app, I'd still be blissfully clicking away on a version 4.1 phone.

Last weekend, Star and I went to a pro soccer game.  I had taken a few photos with my phone, and he wanted to borrow it to post some of them to Instagram.  (Because my kids don't have their own iPhones.)

In order to do this, he had to log out of my account and log into his.

So, he logged out, and tried to log in with his name.

Except it wouldn't let him.

Instead, it scolded, "We cannot let you log in, because your app is outdated.  Come back when you aren't such a loser, you ancient non-updater."

OK, maybe that shouldn't have been in quotes.

Regardless, we couldn't get back into Instagram until I updated it.

Fine.  I'll update the stupid app.

I told Star to do it, and he tried.

But it didn't work.

Instead, I was once again scolded, "You need version 7.0 in order to update Instagram.  Even my grandma updates her phone, you ridiculous dinosaur."

This is when I went into a bit of a panic, right there in the stands.

Star, I don't know how to update my phone!!  What am I supposed to do?!?!  You took away my Instagram.  PUT IT BACK!!!!

I had to go the entire rest of the game and the whole ride home without one time ever checking to see if someone liked the photo I posted.

I'm ashamed to admit how much that rocked my world.

We got home at approximately 10:00pm.  Star went to bed, and I implored Bryan to FIX IT!!

He took one look at my phone and said, "This is SO OLD!  I don't even know how to work it.  Why haven't you updated this thing?  My mom, who leased a rotary phone from the phone company until 1989, would have updated her smartphone if she had one."

After the tongue-lashing, we got to work, because I wasn't about to go to bed without getting this fixed.

We tried the plug the phone in and let it update method, but alas, that didn't work.  Instead we got a message from the computer, "Are you kidding me?!?!  You haven't updated iTunes either??  Even the Amish would have known to update their blasted computer.  Cut the cord, Lady, and get with the program!"

So, I updated iTunes and Bryan went to bed.  It took a long time.

All told, between updating iTunes and backing up my phone, I was up until after midnight.

And I still, STILL didn't have my Instagram back.

The next morning, I was up early to get it done.  At several points throughout the process, I could be heard yelling, "Is this what is supposed to happen?!" or "What does this mean??!!" or "Is it supposed to take this long?!!?"  I may have even thrown in a few, "Star, you better hope this works, 'cause this is all your fault!"

It took two very long hours.  With each new step, I got more nervous.  Star was getting anxious himself, even though he had talked like he was completely confident that everything would work just fine.  We tried to take our minds off of it by making breakfast, but that plan was derailed.  The little boys kept coming in to tell us, SOMETHING IS HAPPENING!"

For the last few steps, we never moved from our spots in front of the computer.  We watched those little bars intently.  Every time the "percentage complete" changed, one of the little boys would yell, "It moved!  The bar is bigger!"

Actually, the whole scene brought to mind the time our cat had kittens.  The cat was in a box in our house, and we kids were all surrounding it, watching with our eyes wide and jaw dropped.  Kitten after kitten was born, and with each one we'd yell out, "There's another one!"

I'm a bit disconcerted that the kids and I are treating the update of my phone the same as my siblings and I treated the birth of kittens.  Something's not quite right about that.

Bit of irony coming at you... The image of us all huddled around the computer would have made a great shot TO POST ON INSTAGRAM.

All told, almost 5 hours of my life was spent updating my phone.

Five hours I didn't spend sleeping.  Five hours I didn't spend reading TTot posts.  Or even getting my own written.  I know, that's what tabs are for and I technically could have done that while the computer was doing its thing with my phone.  Except no.  I couldn't.  What if something happened?!?!  I could overload it or slow it down so much it messed up or crash the whole darn thing.  Nope.  Couldn't do it.  So I wasted 5 hours looking at a screen.

When the phone finally, FINALLY, said, "Hello, slide to start" we cheered and cheered and cheered.  We cheered so long that the phone switched to "Hola, el slido to starto".  As my finger went to turn the phone on, Star screamed, "NO!  DON'T TOUCH IT!"

That was close.  Technology is hard enough in English.  Imagine how awful I'd be in Spanish!  So we waited through Chinese and Japanese and 100 other languages for English came around again.  Which, of course, we missed because we were still celebrating.

After a few more palm-sweat-inducing decisions that I just don't have the energy to rehash, but just know that they included a few, "WHAT DO I DOOOOO??"s and other overly dramatic cries, the phone was once again on and filled with my photos and contact information.

First thing I did, of course, was go to get my Instagram back and update it.

A little timeline to illustrate just how horribly deficient my brain is in the area of computers...

1.  Go to iTunes to get Instagram.
2.  Push update button.
3.  Push "go to app".
4.  Smile when I see all of the likes from the previous night's post.
5.  Go to the phone's home screen to check out the new look.
6.  Slide to the next screen.
7.  Become concerned when I don't see my Instagram app.
8.  Go back to iTunes and push "go to app" again.
9.  Smile at the photo.
10  Go to phone's home screen, then slide to second page.
11.  Panic when I don't have Instagram app.
13.  Throw phone at Bryan.
14.  Bryan calmly scrolls to the THIRD screen and says, "Those three dots mean there are three pages."
15.  Mumble a thank you and drift off to peruse everyone else's Instagram posts.

After a week, I have managed to mostly figure out the new and annoyingly not old way of doing things.  The only hiccup we have had was when Giant started getting all of my texts on his iPod (So glad I didn't write anything incriminating!!).  Got that fixed immediately.

The only ongoing problem I haven't fixed is my voicemail.  Seems I have a password for it but an inability to remember it or change it.  So, don't expect to leave a message if you call.

So, thank you for sticking with the story about the phone.  I guess it kinda makes you feel like you are right there with me, with the story dragging on and on just like the updating did.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Mostly School Stuff and Health Stuff, TToT week 64.

I have never been more happy to see a Friday than I was this week.

In case you missed it, I had an emotional breakdown this week when my oldest turned 16 and my youngest started preschool.  I am completely shocked by my strong reaction, but it is what it is.  All of Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, I was on the verge of tears if not already bawling.  Friday means NO PRESCHOOL! so I felt much happier and more myself with a 5 year old in the house all day.

Or out of the house all day.

Be prepared, though, for next week.  At least this week I had appointments during his school time every day and never was home without him.  Next week will bring 9 whole hours of time I need to fill.  There will most likely be a relapse.

Despite my tears, there were plenty of things for which to be grateful.

1.  Cuckoo has had a great time in preschool.  He's surrounded by teachers who have known him since he was a baby.  Plus, he is in his element.  So many people to talk to!  (If I were to add up all the words my oldest five spoke to adults before they turned 5, it still wouldn't come close to the number Cuckoo has spoken.  Finally, FINALLY I have a social kid like me!)

2. Well, I just deleted four paragraphs of a story that I really need to make into its own post.  I'll just give you the punchline thankful for now.  My phone is fine.  I'll write the post another day.  (Along with the other 10 that are in my head because I have not yet written them.)

3.  Physical therapy is over.  Finally.  After 10 weeks (including pre- and post-surgery) of three days a week, I am beyond ready to be done.  I will still be doing exercises at home, though, as I'm not back to full range of motion.  I was told by the doctor that if I don't get my leg back to perfectly straight by the next appointment in 6 weeks, I will be getting put into a machine of torture to force it.  Yes, I will be doing my exercises.  And icing.  I've also been told that if the swelling doesn't go down, a needle will be used to suction the gunk out of my knee.  So yes, I will be applying ice to my knee several times a day.

4. Despite the scary consequences I was threatened with, my knee is healing nicely on the inside.  X-rays showed the tunnels they made during surgery have healed, and the metal buttons (The WHAT?  I didn't know I had metal in my leg until Wednesday.) holding my ACL in place haven't budged.

5. On Monday (Labor Day) we had a great visit with my brother and his family and our mom.  We ate, we laughed, we played kickball (Well, they.  I was only allowed to coach my niece who had no clue how to run bases.), we fought over brownie sundaes.  I really wish we lived closer together, but I'm glad it's not so far that we never get to see them.

6.  Star is on a new soccer team, and when we asked if it bothers him to see Instagram photos of his old team winning tournaments, he said, "No.  I'm having more fun that I did when I was on that team." We're all having more fun.  Plus, he can now once again (He had to skip last year because of the other team's rules.) be on the cross country team at school.

7.  Star and Giant had their first cross country meet and ran very well.  Cross country is my favorite sport to watch, so I'm glad they both get to (and want to) run.

8. Turken is a timid little boy in a 1st grade class full of wild and crazy boys.  It's not exactly what we'd call a perfect fit. I am so glad he has the one little boy he clicked with last year in his class again this year.  He's having a good school year.

9.  Phoenix has been struggling in school.  Last year was rough, and this year, despite some major changes in how we handle things and some real effort on his part, hasn't gone any better.  We are now working with his counselor and our pediatrician to figure out what is going on.  Thankfully, our high school is an unusual Catholic school in that it has a wonderful special needs staff and in-house services.  He will be able to use their services regardless of whether he has an official diagnosis or not.

10.  I saved the biggest thankful for last.  After a scary weekend in which Buttercup slept almost constantly and ate next to nothing, she woke up Tuesday feeling much better.  She has been symptom-free since Tuesday.  She got the all-clear from the doctor on Thursday to begin the 5 step process to get back to full, normal activity.  She's gotten through the first 2 steps without any relapse of symptoms, so we're quite hopeful that she has fully recovered.  She is crossing her fingers that she can play in her game on Wednesday.

So, did you break down when your youngest went to school?  When your oldest hit a milestone birthday?  When both IN A MERE TWO DAYS?

For what should you send up a great, big THANK YOU this week?

Pretty sure you know how this works by now.

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Join the Ten Things of Thankful Facebook Group

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Today Marks the End of an Era, and I'm Not Exactly Happy (And I Wrote It Yesterday, So Good Luck Figuring Out the Timeline.)

I have been dreading this day for 16 years.

Tomorrow will be Phoenix's 16th birthday.

For 16 years I have had a child or six to take care of during the day.

For 16 years I have had a little hand to hold or a little body to hug or a little face to kiss any time I wanted, day or night.

For 16 years I have loved this job more than anything I have ever done in my life.

Taking care of little kids is what I was made to do.

I was made to read to them.

I was made to play games with them.

I was made to take them on adventures.

I was made to do crafts with them.

I was made to wrestle with them.

I was made to take care of them.

I was made to push them on swings.

I was made to listen to their stories and answer their questions.

I was made to bake with them.

And then one day, after 16 years, everything that I was made to do can't be done anymore.

After 16 years, the youngest child starts school.

While yes, I know he's only 5 and I will still get to do plenty of these things with him and his siblings, I also know that once a child enters school, everything changes.

There will be hours of my day where I am not surrounded by the little people that bring me such happiness.

I have had hours of my day in which I'm not surrounded by children before.  Of course I have.

This is very different.

Before, in those hours, I knew the kids were at home and I felt an urgency to get back to them.

When I drop that little 5 year old off at preschool, that's it.  No one will be at home waiting for me.  I can't just go home and get a hug from a little person.  I can't go teach a little person how to skip rocks in the creek at the park.  I won't be able to hear a little voice asking me what is under grass.

It will just be me.

And the quiet.

Well, quiet except for the loud sobbing.

And with each quickly-passing year, it will only be more and more time that the kids are away from me.

Do me a favor.

When you see me around, please don't ask me what I'm going to do now that the kids are in school.

The answer is "crying".

I know this is normal.  I knew from the moment Phoenix was born that my job was to lead my kids to independence.

Away from me.

I've been dreading it ever since.

After the tears have been shed, I'll think of something.

I have no doubt my days will get filled rather quickly with things to do.

I'm pretty sure at least part of those days will be filled with other people's children.

That sounded bad.

Don't worry.  I won't be snatching anybody's kids off the street, but the image makes me laugh.

"Honest, Officer, I just wanted to make a Christmas ornament with him.  I was going to take him back to his parents!  I swear!"

So, don't ask me.

I'll let you know when I figure it out.

Right now, I have to go squeeze a certain little boy until his eyes pop.

Have a lovely day!