Sunday, July 31, 2005

What's on the bookshelf?

So I've mentioned that I have a book pile-up waiting to be read. I just finished Dragonfly in Amber, which is the second book in the Outlander series. A lot of boggy history, but I plowed right through all 700 pages of it, so it must not have been too painful. :) It left off with a cliffhanger, so of course now I am salivating, plotting on getting the third book. Sometimes when I get pretty hyper about something like this I just go ahead and go crazy and indulge quickly just to get the whole thing over with and put myself out of my delirium. Once I get through the 6th book I'll be done with Outlander.....unless she writes another one. :)

I get a lot of my book suggestions from friends and bloggers who also love to read. Maybe you'd enjoy a few of my current awaiting reads:

Bless and Be Blessed by Peter M. Lord is a small book with a powerful message. I'm about 3/4 of the way through it right now. Basically he is talking about the power of our words. The Bible says that we have the power of life and death in the words we say, and this book encourages us to use our words to bless and bring life to others. One method is to take opportunities to say the kinds of things to people that are sometimes not said until a person is dead. Isn't it odd that we can let a special person in our life go on to the grave, without us expressing our feelings to the person? But then we tell others at the funeral about it! We need to share and hear these words while we are living. I'm sure I will write more about this when I'm finished with the book.

The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter is my book group book for September, and is a story based on the author's own life. I read this book probably more than a year ago, and am looking forward to reading it again. My memories of this book are that it struck an extremely wide range of feelings in me. I can remember some of the most hilarious stories, and I also recall that there was at least one situation that made me cry bitterly. I love books that really grab ahold of me, and this is one. I recommend it heartily.

Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. Basically, it comes from a Christian viewpoint, dashing all the false guilt that Christian people often have with standing up for themselves, and gives encouragement and instruction to those who wish to learn how to set and enforce boundaries in their life. I'm almost all the way through it. I've set my boundaries, and compared to the wild love story and great adventure of the Outlander books, it had gotten set to the side. :)

Being Perfect by Anna Quindlen. This is a tiny little book that I picked up on a whim when I saw it on the New Books cart at my library. I thoroughly enjoyed Anna Quindlen's book Loud and Clear, and thought I'd like to read more from her. So here is sits...

Raising a Modern-Day Knight by Robert Lewis was recommended to us by a friend whose son also had a Christian Bar Mitzvah sort of 13th birthday celebration a few years ago. I better hurry up and read this, since my son's party is two weeks from today! Fortunately, my husband hasn't been side tracked by the love story of a time traveler and an 18th century outlaw, so he's about half way through it, and it's more important that he read it than I do. But I will! Basically, it's a book encouraging parents on how to effectively help their sons grow up to BE real men, rather than to falter along not really knowing what a real man IS. (Quiz: How many of you are even sure YOU know what a real man is?) Seems like a book that is way past due and I am looking forward to reading it.

What's So Amazing About Grace? by Phillip Yancy is something I saw recommended at Our Green Room (on the blogroll over there------>) and that's all I know. Ditto for Connecting by Larry Crabb. I get a lot of book ideas from Our Green Room (I think maybe I heard about Bless and Be Blessed there as well).

Teen-Proofing by John Rosemond is a book I picked up on a whim while walking through the stacks at the library (something I should try to refrain from doing, but can't because it always yields such treasures!). Love him or hate him, John Rosemond's straight talk to parents is refreshing compared to all the limp, smarmy advice out there today. Since I'm about to have a teenager, I guess I thought I should get educamated about it. ;)

So, "only" 8 books actively waiting for my attention....if you don't count the ones I own and that have been given to me as gifts that also haven't been read. AND if you don't count the herb and alternative medicine books that I *also* plan to read one of these days. I actually did part with a few books, unread, on my last library trip, since I couldn't even remember why I borrowed them in the first place. Gotta get this runaway train under control somehow.

So what's on *your* bookshelf? (Try not to tempt me, though....)

Poetry inspiration for moms (and dads)

I was just over at SolarGrinFricke, a cool blog that's new to my blogroll, and saw a sweet poem for mothers that I wanted to draw your attention to. That reminded me of one of my favorites, that I have framed and hanging outside my bedroom door where I see it all the time. I am actually thinking of painting it on the wall so that it's easier to see. My aunt gave me this poem as a gift after my second child was born. I have it memorized and have even made a song of it that I sing to encourage myself from time to time. Don't worry, I won't audioblog and sing for you (well, actually, with some persuasion, I might), but here are the words:

Parent's Prayer

Lord, thank you for my children
A fruitful gift from Thee!
A heritage eternal
Oh, Father, let me see
Beyond those little faces
And many, varied needs
There lies a soul eternal
To cultivate and feed.

Sometimes I get so busy
With petty, earthly cares.
I shun divine appointments
And don't take time to share,
To love and to disciple
To teach them of your Word
That they may grow to love You
And trust in You as Lord.

Please keep my ever mindful
That the footsteps following me
As I walk faithful to You
May one day follow Thee!
Lord, thank You for my children
May I Thy glory raise!
And as they grow to serve You
To You, Lord, is the praise.


(author Patty Fischer)

Saturday, July 30, 2005

It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood....

After quite awhile of 95+ degree heat, we've now gotten a respite with low 80s for a few days, reminding us that fall is not far off. My husband and I have been enjoying sitting on the deck in the evenings watching the children play. Our home area is very peaceful and we always comment on how much we enjoy that.

My oldest son, Sullen, is living up to his nickname (Don't worry-I don't call him that in real life. Just on the blog). After arriving home from our vacation, my husband borrowed the neighbor's riding mower to get our jungle yard under control. However, the push mow areas still needed to be done. My husband told Sullen to push mow our yard in the typical areas that require push mowing (around trees, around the club house, close to the steps, around the pool, etc.) and Sullen pitched a fit, claiming that there was no such mowing that needed to be done. So, the day after he only push mowed what he deemed necessary, rather than what his dad deemed necessary, it was pointed out to him what he missed and he was told to finish the job yesterday. Yeah, well, the hubby was at work yesterday, leaving me to enforce this assignment. Sullen still didn't think anything needed to be done, even as I was standing next to him pointing to overgrown grass areas and saying, "This here needs to be mowed, and this here needs to be mowed, and over there....." and still he fussed and fumed and acted as if his father and I were in cahoots to make his life as miserable as possible. He even tried this whiny ploy:

You know what? Do you guys just hate me or something? Because, I swear you just make this stuff up! There is NO GRASS that needs mowing. This is stupid. There is NOTHING to mow! I swear--I could push mow the Whole Entire Yard in 105 degree heat, and you two would come out here and look around for the One Blade of Grass that I missed and then say 'You missed a spot!'

Oooooooooooooohkaaaaaaaaaaaaay then.......

This from a child who generally gets to enjoy himself, has a few chores each day, almost never has to mow the grass since his MOTHER is the one who does it (and enjoys it!) even on the very hot days. This kid was asked to very nicely do trim mowing on a balmy 80 degree evening. And he wanted to be a fuss bag about it.

So, a quick call to the hubby at work, to find out if he would prefer that
A. I just let Sullen do whatever work he thinks he should do, and let The Firecrapper deal with him in the morning
B. Go around the yard with him, pointing out the obvious places to push mow. (you know--the ones where there is no grass to mow!)

But, alas, the Firecrapper had an alternative suggestion:
C. Tell him that now that he threw his fit and gave you a hard time, he can start push mowing the whole entire yard, and keep going until it is too dark to mow any more tonite.


You can imagine how thrilling Sullen thought THIS was.


So, after much tearing up at the eyes and acting as if he was being sentenced to the gallows, he got mowing. He managed to take an absurdly long break to go to the bathroom, did the most amazing slow motion fueling of a lawn mower that I have even encountered, suddenly had urges to help siblings get off of swings and learn how to ride their Big Wheels down the hill in new, cool ways, and so forth. Then he tried to stop mowing when he thought the sun had gone down, although there was plenty of light for his sibs to be out playing, and me sitting on the deck reading my book. sigh

This morning my dear Firecrapper got home from his shift at the FD and asked me for a report. How was his attitude? Did he give you any trouble? So, I told him. And Sullen got outsted from his nice, warm bed, to return to the mowing job which of course was far from finished. (it didn't help that instead of mowing in a regular pattern of back and forth, back and forth, he would just do a patch here and a patch there)

I had to chuckle as I stood in the kitchen getting ready to make pancakes and saw Sullen, out the window, at the mower, muttering to himself about how bad his life is, and then when he was me he turned and gave me his best shot of an "I am a persecuted kid" look. It's good to start the day with a laugh, I always say.

Two hours later, the beat goes on. My yard will be all mowed by day's end, maybe Sullen will be too tired to fuss much (But I'm not counting on that), and then the hubby and I can get back to our favorite thing, which is of course plotting how to torture our son some more. Scrubbing the floors and ceilings with a toothbrush? Picking up a thousand Legos one-at-a-time with tweezers? Wax on, wax off? I don't know, but I'm sure we'll come up with something.

Other than that, I will confess to you dear readers that I broke down and got the second book in the Outlander series. It has something like 700 pages, and I am almost done with it. It isn't as good as the first, but good enough that I have still been gobbling it up every chance I get. Good thing it's a little easier to put down than the first, so that I can still keep up on housework a bit.

And, finally--what do you think about this? My youngest kiddo is almost 2.5. He still nurses, and he loves it. However, after breastfeeding for just about 13 years now, The Girls are kind of *weary* of such activities. Squiggy Magoo shows no signs of wanting to let up on his demands, and in fact has gotten a little mean in demanding his way. I have cut him back a lot, but he still asks a lot too. With me being with him most of the time, it seems tricky to successfully cut him down any more gradually. I was thinking of playing a little bit of a trick on him, and doing a little boobs-dipped-in-vinegar thing to make him decide that the old milky really isn't a good thing any more. Seems like that will make the weaning pretty abrupt, though, which I guess I feel kind of bad about. However, he has done fine when I've had to leave him for weekends when I went away for a class or trip.

So what do you think I should do?
Give the kid a break--nurse him til he's ready to quit, you heartless, selfish woman!
Are you *kidding* me? 13 YEARS you've been breastfeeding? Grab your breasts and RUN, woman!
2.5 years is plenty--I would have quit long ago.
Hmmm... vinegar-flavored breast careful--he might like it!
Vinegar? Oh, that's terrible! Can't you think of anything *nicer*?

Free polls from

Thursday, July 28, 2005

I laughed so hard I almost hurt myself...

when I read this story about Chris at The Big Yellow House cutting her own hair as a 10 year old. Enjoy!

The books! They are taking over my life!

I am getting overrun with books here. I don't know what to do. I'm thinking that maybe I'm turning into a bookaholic or something....I can't stop myself!

Y'see, I've gotten turned on to my library's online catalog. Every time I read something online that says, "Hey, this book is great!" and I think I want to read it, all I have to do is *bam!* go on over to the library web site, look it up, and put it on hold or request it through interlibrary loan. Next thing I know, usually within a day or two, the library calls and says, "We have your book and will hold it until Friday!"

Yes, I sit on my rear and see books I want, I push a few buttons, and my kindhearted servants at the library go and find the book for me and hold it by the circulation desk til I arrive. Typically I've got anywhere from 3-15 books to pick up at a time, since my son also has a lot of books to read for school and pleasure (he has read two 500+ page books just this week alone, because he wanted to. he reads like that all the time...I love it!).

Anyhoo, this is just SO great for me because as you can imagine, the thought of taking my 6 kids, getting out of the car, going into the library, looking up each book on the computer, and then finding each book and taking all of them to check out....well, it's not a pretty picture, that's for sure. So now all I do is sail on in (or ask the hubby to when he's out and about) and pick up my pile of books in one simple step.

The trouble is I probably have 15 books sitting here waiting to be read, and more waiting for me at the library right this very minute. Must read. Must read. Must read. (I know that technically I could return some of them without reading them, but it seems so sad......)

So many little time. (sigh)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

So much for that rule about not going over to another kid's house unless a parent is home......

Yikes! Psycho mom hosts sex, drugs, and booze parties at her home. yuk

Book Review: Outlander

Alright, I'm totally wacko over this story! I read a lot of books, and some are hard to put down. But THIS book has positively captured me.

Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon, is the first in a series of tales about former combat nurse Claire, and Scotsman Jamie Fraser. The twist? Claire is from 1945 and meets Jamie in 1743 by way of falling through a rock formation in Scotland. I know some people think time travel is hokey, but this book (as well as Audrey Niffeneggar's Time Traveler's Wife) tells it so well that it just works.

I'm always hesitant to give away too much in my book reviews, even though if you go look over at Amazon or Barnes and Noble you can learn a lot about the story line. Personally, I like to be surprised and see how the story unfolds without looking for it. So, you won't get any spoilers from me.

This book has history, intrigue, great adventure and danger, moral dilemmas, and a powerful passionate romance! I think it took me 3 days to read, and during that time I basically couldn't part with the book. I stayed up til 2am reading it every night. I dreamt about it while I slept, and woke to start reading before I even got out of bed. I had to force myself to put it down so that I could get a few things done around the house, but mostly I let stuff slide and just absorbed this story for the time it took to read it. Now I'm in deep doo-doo since there are 5 more books in the series. I have to get a bunch of house stuff done before I go getting sucked into more of Claire and Jamie's story, although you can bet I'm still breathlessly plotting how I can make the time for it!

If you're looking for a great escape book that will grab ahold of you and not let you go, Outlander is for you.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

One of those question lists.

So I don't feel like writing something real original yet this morning, so how about this?

What Were You Doing 10 Years Ago Today?
Probably getting pregnant with my second child. hardy-har-har

What Were You Doing 5 Years Ago Today?
I was living in a new town, with my husband and children ages 7, 4, 2, and a preemie newborn son who was probably about 7lbs. and finally breastfeeding, after several months of pumping and bottles.

What Were You Doing 1 year Ago Today?
Looking forward to putting 5 kids into school within a week.

What Were You Doing Yesterday?
Taking 3 kids for hair cuts, thinking of my friend Sooz who is on a 2-week family vacation with their 4 kids (camping for most of it, poor woman!), making cookies, and cleaning the living room with the children. Also, we watched The Pacifier as a family.

What Are You Doing Today?
Being lazy on the computer this morning. Later will probably bake bread and do some more house stuff.

What Are You Doing Tomorrow?
Taking the doggie to get spayed! Poor girl...

5 Snacks I Enjoy (in no particular order, and no health considerations)
1. soft serve chocolate ice cream
2. pretzels (soft and regular)
3. pizza
4. root beer
5. cookies

5 Bands/Singers I know the Lyrics to most of their Songs
1. Third Day
2. George Thoroughgood
3. can't think of any more

Things I Would Do with $1,000,000,000
1. pay off all of our debts
2. have fun giving a lot of it away
3. pay the stinkin' taxes on it
4. figure out what we want to do and where we want to be for the rest of our lives and go do it
5. make sure we have plenty saved for our future and for our children's future

5 Locations You Would Run Away To
1. Hawaii
2. WalMart (that's a joke!)
3. Norway
4. Skaneateles Lake
5. anyplace quiet, warm, and safe

Bad Habits You Have
1. nail biting
2. being messy
3. liking to nap excessively (I try to keep it out of the excessive zone, but am not always successful)

7 Things You Like
1. comfort (shoes, clothes, bedding, home, everything)
2. reading a really good book (just finished Outlander--couldn't put it down!!)
3. back massages
4. facials
5. good music
6. spending time with good friends
7. good, deep, meaningful conversation

Things You'd Never Wear in Public
1. my bday suit
2. a thong
3. anything showing off my nekkid belly

5 Movies You Like
1. Sweet Home Alabama
2. The Patriot
3. The Four Feathers
4. Just Married
5. Meet the Parents

Favorite books
1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
2. The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter
3. most stuff by SARK
4. Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui (about way more than what you think!)
5. How To Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor
5. Smart Medicine for a Healthier Child

7 Famous People You'd Like to Meet
1. Iris Krasnow (loved her books, think she would be interesting to get to know)
2. Jesus (I'll eventually meet Him!)
3. Oprah Winfrey
4. Reece Witherspoon (my current favorite actress. She seems to down-to-earth.)
5. Carmen, Mom to the Screaming Masses!
6. Very Mom
7. Getup Grrl from Chez Miscarriage (her baby boy was born yesterday, but is now doing some time in the NICU)

5 Biggest Joys
1. the unassisted home water birth we had for our 5th child
2. having an adoring husband and 6 fabulous kids
3. being free to be myself
4. unexpected pleasures
5. simple living

Friday, July 22, 2005

Home Improvement Blather, etc.

It never ceases to amaze me how much stuff we have around here that we can simply throw away when the urge hits us.

The other day my husband got a hankerin' to start overhauling our downstairs. Half of our downstairs used to be a garage, and was then converted into a family room. Once we moved here we discovered extensive problems with water getting into that room, so we ended up having to take out the carpet and most of the drywall, get an All-Dry system installed, seal up cracks in the floor, and so on. So now where we are at in the process is a partially-finished (or would that be partially-unfinished?) family room. We use it, it's just waiting for the drywall to be sanded and painted, and some other fun little details like that.

In the course of putting the place back together, my husband decided to make a quarter of the family room into a separate room for a "workshop." As is typical for us, small and rarely used rooms end up being a graveyard of junk that expands and multiplies until we can barely open or close the door. So, time to hoe it out!

He filled 2 super duper big lawn-and-leaf type garbage bags full of junk to throw away. We also decided to give away the old, charmless piano that I bought from somebody for $25 a few years ago, thinking that the children would like to learn to play. Instead it is the ugliest entertainment system ever, with the TV, VCR, DVD player, and a wide assortment of DVDs, CDROMs, videotapes, and PS2 games and cases strewn all over it. Nobody wanted to play piano, and all I can do is a few variations of Heart and Soul, which while impressive to my children and fun for me, isn't really a good enough reason to keep the monster piano around. Oh, I almost forgot. I can also play Chopsticks, Knuckles, and "I dropped my dolly in the dirt" which I learned from a friend when I was about 7 or so.

My husband started getting inspired about how we should do thus-and-so home improvement projects, since he could now see some more surfaces. You know how inspired we all get when we can see past the clutter, right? Well, I told him that I would love to do his projects, but that I thought we should finish up the projects we have started already and have the supplies for. Huh? Huh? What a strange idea. *Finish* something before you start some else? Weird.


So we walked around saying things like "Well, what we need here is _______" and me saying things like, "My original vision for this room was ______." My favorite one of these was when my husband and I walked into our front closet and he said, "See, we aren't using the space in here wisely. We need some more shelves in here." And then I looked at what was on the shelves and counted 20 cans of paint! "Know what honey? If we finished our projects and got through with this paint, we'd gain a lot of storage space right there!" Amazing! I love it when I'm right.

So now that we were thoroughly inspired, he had to go work for 48 hours straight, and I started reading Outlander. So, no major improvements happening around here right now. 'Cept in my head.

Other than that, GetupGrrl of Chez Miscarriage is apparently off with her gestational surrogate having their baby today. I have been running to the update blog all day waiting for the outcome.....

The Kite Runner

Recently I saw a recommendation to read Khaled Hosseini's book The Kite Runner
and so I got it from the library and somehow managed to read it while at my mom's. It's another one of those books with a painful story that must have been well-written or else I would not have stuck with it.

The story is written from the perspective of Amir, telling about his childhood in Afghanistan, his best friend Hassan, and how his life changed when he made a choice he was not proud of when the defining moment of his life presented itself. From that point on his choice haunted him into his adulthood, and to the place where he had the opportunity to redeem himself.

This story is so many things: beautiful, poignant, painful, horrible, tragic, and unsettling. This is a book that will cause many readers to ask themselves what they would do if faced with the situations of the characters in the book. For those that appreciate books with a strong redemption theme, this is a good choice.

The ending of this book struck me as being very realistic, but very disappointing.

Overall, worth a read for those with the ability to take in a very tough story in favor of seeing the redemption in the end. For those deeply affected by tragic crimes, you might want to pass.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Things I'd like to do someday

As you may recall from past book reviews, I really enjoyed Iris Krasnow's Surrendering books. The final book is Surrendering to Yourself, and one of the things she talks about in this book is not losing sight of the things that you love to do, that you loved to do as a child or younger person, and to make room for those things in your life.

At the time when I read this I had a hard time coming up with what those things would be, but I've kept my radar up so that when an idea, memory, or urge came to me, I'd be mindful of it. So, tonite, I've got a list of things I'd like to do. Some of them I can do now, some I will be able to do later in life when I am at a different stage, and some I don't know if I'll ever do. Nevertheless, here they are:

-Play cards more. My husband and I got to know each other while playing cards at college. (gin rummy, mostly) My longstanding favorite card game is Dutch Blitz, though. I am a very competitive card player, but love to play with those who are tough to beat. Happily, I am going to be playing cards this Saturday night with a bunch of people from church.

-Play cello again. I played it starting in 3rd grade, for probably only 2 years, but every time I hear a soulful cello part in a song I wish I could play again. it's been on my wish list for awhile now, but I'm just not to that point yet where the kids wouldn't try to use it as a guitar, or climb all over me while I tried to play.

-Sing. I used to be in a singing group in high school. I don't have a great solo voice, but I have a good voice for small groups. I miss working out the kinks in a new song and hearing voices blending together in harmony, enunciation, breathing from the gut, holding a long note, and having the entire group end their T's all at once. :)

-Voice lessons. Like I said, my solo voice isn't that great. I think I've got good raw material, but need some guidance on making my voice do what I'd like it to so it doesn't wobble and weaken here and there.

-Dance. Not only do I like to dance and shock my husband's coworkers at wedding receptions, but I loved being in drama club as a kid and getting to do group choreography. I can still do parts of some dance routines that I recall. It would be fun to be in something like that again.

-Dance lessons. I've been wishing to take dance lessons with the hubby for many years now. We may not be too far off from getting to do this. I want to learn all the ballroom dances, but also want to learn swing and some salsa, and wouldn't mind learning to belly dance either. I've got the perfect hips for it! (Can you *imagine* my husband's reaction if I learn salsa and belly dancing? He will be in heaven, and wonder why he didn't see his way clear to get me those lessons years ago!)

-Sky diving. I actually wanted to do this back when I was in college, but the opportunity didn't present itself. Now that I've got 6 kids and a husband who need me, I don't know if I'd do such a dangerous thing. But it's fun to think of myself as someone who is even *interested* in sky diving.

-Learn to surf. I love all those surfing movies and documentaries. (not Gidget stuff. I mean Blue Crush and several other more recent surf docs that I got from Netlfix) I've probably watched 5 or so. I'm in awe of the whole thing, and think it looks completely cool. Now, how much of an uncool DORK I would look like trying to learn to surf, that is an entirely different issue that would work well if I also had a desire to display physical comedy for beachgoers! Seriously, though, if we ever rent a beach house for a week or something, I would get a board and try to learn. I would just make my husband promise to stay in the house so I wouldn't see him doubled over laughing at me. :) (actually, he probably wouldn't laugh, but I might feel very self-conscious)

-Learn to play the guitar. Maybe it's the Maria Von Trapp in me that wishes to play guitar with my gorgeous children gathered round as we sing pleasant songs together. (nope, I'm not even joking!) We already sing together quite a bit, so it's not that far fetched.

-Be more creative. I guess most of this list is creative stuff, isn't it? Still, I feel like there's a lot more creativity inside of me that I haven't let out. When my husband and I got married he was an art major and I guess I kind of deferred to his artistic pursuits. Now he hasn't been doing art for over 10 years and I think we both miss it. But, I think I need to explore what artistic talents I have. When I painted the first bathroom window I felt some creative surges that I didn't know I had. I guess it's not that the finished product was so great. It's more that I felt free enough to decide that I could take the risk in putting something creative like that out for others to see. It's a form of vulnerability, I guess, and that's a toughie for many of us. I can see that in many ways, as I'm getting older, it's easier to take those kinds of risks. But I still have a long way to go. It's funny to be that way about art because, you know, some people put a blob of paint on a canvas and call it art. How could I possibly go wrong? :)

I would like to do more of these kinds of things not only for myself (although that's a good enough reason right there), but also as an example to my children that we can keep learning and growing for a lifetime. As I've been neck-deep in kiddos, there hasn't been time for much of this kind of stuff, but things are leveling out now and so I think I'm wading into new waters.

That's enough of my wishes for tonite. What do you wish to do?

Thinking About Painting

When we moved to this house 5 years ago we painted everything: the ceilings, the walls, inside the closets. Actually, I should say that we had many people help us get the painting done. I was on bedrest at first, and then had a 2.5 lb. baby in the hospital for 5 weeks. I didn't do any painting in those days.

But, alas, 5 years has passed, we have twice as many children as we did when we moved here, and the poor choice of flat paint for much of our living areas is screaming for mercy.

Right now our walls display a combination of dings, patched dings needing to be sanded, permanent marker scribbles that will require KILZ to get rid of, crayon, pencil, pen, dried boogers, dirt, finger and hand prints, foot prints, and who knows what else. Thankfully, all of those are spread throughout the house rather than all together in a concentrated area. But, you know, the time has come that we need to plan to repaint. So, think is what we have been doing! (thinking's free!)

Aside from needing a fresh coat of paint everywhere, I am seriously plotting and planning to do some embellishments. As I have told you in past posts, I have had a longstanding problem with making my homes really personalized, and I've been working on that this year with my various window-paintings and door decoupage projects. I think the next thing I'm going to work my way up to is words.


Words, I say!

For 5 years I have had ideas to paint/stencil messages on my walls. Inspirational words. Bible verses. Blessings. Welcomes. I found this cool site that has given me some good ideas, too.

Some of my ideas include:

Repainting the front door and having "welcome" on it sort of like this idea here. I also want to paint on my steps coming up to the house.

As people come into the house I would like to have something that says, "Peace to all who enter here" or some other welcome blessing.

I am thinking of a larger section over the front door so that you would not only notice when you are in the house, but particularly as you leave, that says, "The Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make His face shine upon you and give you peace forever." Maybe on the back of the door.

The first idea I had that I still want to do is to write a border around my kitchen that says "Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table." which is from Psalm 128. Maybe not with the "thys" though. I just cut and pasted that from

Another idea I've had for a long time is to border the living areas, or at least our living room, with inspirational words like
be still

I would like to do some fun things in the bathrooms with words like SMILE or SHINE or something like that. We'll have to see what I come up with when the time comes.

The Wonderful Graffiti site really looks like a great way to do it, except that I think it would end up being pretty expensive for me to get all of the stuff I want from them. So, maybe I'll have to learn to stencil and see what I can come up with. I've been told again and again that it's it must be. Right? :) Free hand is a possibility, too, but I don't think I'll get the look I want that way.

You can be sure of 2 things in relation to this post:
1. This is more about thinking and less about doing. Stuff like this takes me a pretty long time to get to, usually. So don't hold your breath waiting for it to happen.
2. I'll share pictures when it does. :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Parents--Read This!

Being a parent to young children seems to mostly be made up of a million assorted insignificant tasks that make you feel like you’re just running on a treadmill forever and ever amen. Until, that is, you have a day like I had yesterday, and you get a little teary when you realize that indeed all the little things day after day have added up to something very important after all.

Yesterday morning I was sifting through my post-trip inbox and had 2 forwarded items from a friend. A lot of times I delete those right off, but this time I decided to see what they were. The first was an email chain letter where if I would forward it on to X number of friends within a few minutes something good would happen to me, and if not I guess I was doomed. I took my chances and decided to look doom square in the face. How does annoying my friends benefit me, anyhow?

Second item was a story supposedly written by a police officer about how his young teen died from huffing from a can of compressed air. I have no idea if the story is true, but the good thing about this was that after reading it I realized that although I had talked with my oldest child about smoking, alcohol, drugs, and pornography, I had never thought of huffing.

So later in the day he was doing his school classes online and I came in and said, "Hey, I read of something today that I realized I should tell you about. Have you ever heard of huffing?"

SULLEN: Huffing? No. What's that.

DM: (relieved! He hasn't even heard of it. Yay!) Well, it's this thing that people can do to get high where they inhale the stuff from an aerosol can.

S: Oh. That. Yeah, kids were doing that at camp.

And so it went.

My son went to 4H camp a couple weeks ago and had the priviledge of being in "outpost" which means they camp out instead of having a cabin. It's only for kids that have been to camp at least 1 year before and have had good behavior. They have an adult counselor plus 2 junior counselors that stay with them, and they cook all their meals by camp fire and have a lot more freedom than the cabin kids.

My son told me that the adult stayed in a separate tent and went to sleep one night before the kids did. (smart guy, eh?) One of the junior counselor's was also asleep. But the remaining JC and campers were awake at night and the JC took 2 cans of deodorant out of his bag and said, "Hey guys! Let's get high!" All the kids gathered round to huff their brain cells away.

Except two.

My son said "no way" and apparently helped another kid also say no when he was kind of on the fence.

Even knowing nothing about huffing, he had the good sense to know that anything in a spray can is something that doesn't belong in your body.

Later he got ahold of one of the cans and read the ingredients and saw propane listed. Nice.

I asked my son why he hadn't told me about this before and he said he didn't even really know what they were doing so it hadn't struck him as something to hurry and tell about. He had just known he wasn't going to suck up deodorant.

I called the 4H director and told her what I had learned, and my son talked with her and gave her the story, so I guess there are some parents around here finding out some pretty upsetting things about their kids today.

It really shook me up to know that I hadn't prepared my child for this issue and he had already been faced with it. But I was SO thankful that the principles that we live by and his strong personality and ability to stand for what he believes in were the things had indeed prepared him to handle a situation like that even without understanding it fully.

I guess all those days on the treadmill really are adding up to something great.

What do you need to go talk to your kids about today?

Monday, July 18, 2005

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig

So we have made it back home. Just checking in here to say hello, and to let you know that an empty water bottle can work great as an in-car urinal for a 2 year old boy.

Just in case you needed to know.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Escape from Alcatraz..or something like that

Some of you that have been hospitalized for any length of time, or have had loved ones hospitalized, may recall how the process to get *out* of such a place can be exhausting. To me, in many ways, it feels almost like a prison break. (not that I would know, but..) Just when you're desperate to get out of there, just want to get home, and they give you a day and a time to let you go, then there are a zillion papers to sign and discharge instructions and other little details, plus trying to pack up all your can take a lot of time and energy.

So, yesterday was my grandmother's day to get sprung from the nursing home. Since I hadn't been willing to drive out there the night before with the suitcases, I arrived about 40 minutes before she was scheduled to be discharged in order to help her pack, since she claimed she had such stringent standards on such things. Funny thing was, when I got there, she had managed to pack up almost all of her Wal Mart bags!!!!! No wonder I couldn't live up to her expectations. ha.

I'll spare you the blow-by-blow, except to say that after trying to help get the rest of the packing done, being told by her that her belongings were not her own and that I was moving too fast and messing it all up, after listening to her be mean to the guy with the walker that she was to take home with her, etc. etc. we finally walked out the door by 9:30am, which I thought was just great! All we needed to do was go pick up her prescriptions around the corner, and then drive home.

It sounded so simple......

So we're supposed to have 6 prescriptions. The pharmacy only has record of 5, and now won't give us one of them because it needs some special authorization. Greeeeeeeeeeat. And, what's the missing item? Pain pills.


As in, the number one single most important thing to my grandmother to go home with.

and she felt she would need one by noon.

So, let the games begin!

Back to the nursing home.

ME: "Why don't we have a prescription for pain pills?"
NURSING HOME: "oops" "well, hmmm...what can we do now? I mean, she's discharged from here now....."
ME: Well, I sure can't take her home without them! She's already getting very nervous about this.
NH: dunno.....Um....well, we can call the doctor's office and IF he's there he MAY call the presciption in and then you can get it. or you can call her regular doctor and see if he will order it.
ME: uh huh. Except then I am stuck driving around in 95* heat with an 82 year old woman who is angry, tired, and in pain, wondering when the heck we shall get some pain pills in our possession.
NH: um, duh, sorry. That's all we can do.

So, I went around the corner to my mom's office to see if she had any good advice. She's a nurse and usually handles my grandmother's stuff. Unfortunately, she was busy and so I was stuck fending for myself. I started by calling the regular doctor to see what I could get out of them. Of course, they haven't been dealing with her needs since the knee surgery, so don't know what the heck I'm talking about, the nurse doesn't know if the doctor will be willing to prescribe the meds because they are narcotics, etc. So, um, maybe by 5pm they can get this done, with no guarantee of what med would be prescribed. Which, of course, doesn't help US since my grandmother is planning to be in terrible pain by noon. And now it is almost 10:30. Greeeeeeeeeeat.

Back to the nursing home:
ME: Lookit. I cannot just wander around this city wondering whether or not a prescription has been called in. What do we have to do to get a prescription?
NH: um, duh, well, like I said, she's been discharged, blah blah blah
ME: (cold stare)
NH: Oh, maybe you could go to the doctor's office yourself and see if they will give you a prescription right then.

Now we're getting somewhere.

So back out into the blistering heat I go, to drive to the doctor's office. 20 minutes after I got there I emerged vistorious, prescription in hand.

Yay! Now all we have to do is get it filled.


back to the pharmacy, where we are told they are OUT of this med!

Of course.

So off to a different pharmacy, which HAS it, and can fill about 30 minutes. (it's now noon)

Yeah, great.

so, finally we got home with 100 pain pills at 2pm, and I am glad I won't have to repeat *that* fun day ever again!

The rest of the day's highlights include me trying to get my grandmother settled in, trying to balance out her desire to have stuff unpacked and accessible, with her desire to rest and not be asked "where do you want this?" 500 times. after walking the line between helping, visiting, and letting her rest til 10pm when my mom got home, she told my mother I'd been "flitting about" too much. I tell ya, there's no way to win sometimes.


so, I've been less flitty today. Probably to earn me the title of lazy and rude by day's end. Oh well.

I spent a miserable night trying to sleep on an air mattress that left me mainly on the ground, sweating from the horrible plastic, pinned between a closet door and my youngest child. I had to go to the bathroom for most of the night, but couldn't figure out how I could extricate myself from my situation without waking up little boys and having them cry and try to follow me to the bathroom. The decisions and sacrifices a mother must make are complicated ones, my friends.

Tomorrow we will drive 12 hours home. I look forward to my own bed, own food, and our usual routine. It's been a good visit though. I feel like we've been able to help a lot, and that was the whole point of coming.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Worry not, my pretties!

Here I am! Here I am! I have not forgotten about all of you (although an unexcused absense this long may have made half of you forget about me!!).

The fam and I are on a week-long trip to visit my mom, sort of like a family mission trip, I guess you could say.

Y'see, my grandmother came to live with my mom, and then her health got pretty bad, and then she (gram) had double knee replacement surgery in May, and has been either in the hospital or a nursing home getting rehab ever since. My mom and her husband both have jobs, rental property, plus run a business, and so therefore their life is usually run from early morning til way late at night trying to get all their stuff done. Add in trying to visit the nursing home daily, doing paperwork on behalf of my grandmother, and on and on, they were needing some help.

So, we came down here for a week to just try to clean the house, catch up on a few projects like lawn mowing and a mountain of ironing needing to be done, visiting with Gram, vacuuming the mighty dust bunnies that arise from having 2 cats and a dog, and so on and so forth.

So, what we've done is tried to do house stuff several hours today, fit in a trip to the beach every day that is good enough for it, plus visit the gram. Now we've got her coming home from the nursing home tomorrow, so I have literally been working since about 7am. (It's about 8pm now)

My mom has a rather large home with beautiful hardwood floors. I have been going room to room moving all movable items off the floor, doing super-precision vacuuming, then mopping, then buffing. Oh, I left out the dusting from top to bottom which I did before the floors. Then I did mirrors and windows and glass tabletops (of which there are many here).

Miles of polished beautifulness later, the floors are done. Just in time for a kid to spill a cup of apple juice, of course!

Later tonite I have to get all of our stuff out of my gram's room so that tomorrow morning I can roll out of bed, strip off the bedding, put fresh bedding on, and be ready for her arrival.

I had hoped to visit my grandmother today, but with all the housework I had going, plus the fact that I spent 5 hours on a visit to her last night, I decided not to go today. The nursing home is an hour away, and I am already going to be getting there around 8 or 9am.

So I called her up this evening to talk to her about it. She sometimes gets cranky (or worse) with my mom or others who care for her regularly. I chalk it up to a combination of being in pain, being out of her comfort zone, fear, and anger. She has never gotten rude with me, though, until today.

She sounded angry when she picked up the phone. I asked her what she was doing and she said she was eating her dinner. I asked her if she was ready to come home tomorrow. I don't know if she sincerely didn't know she was leaving there tomorrow, or if she was just pretending not to (she does both), but she claimed that nobody had told her anything about it. So I told her she was going to be discharged tomorrow morning and that I would come to get her and bring her home.

Instead of being happy, she immediately got upset because she doesn't have a suitcase there, and she thought she'd "have more time to prepare before I have to leave" as if they were going to put her out at the roadside at 9am. I assured her that I would bring a suitcase tomorrow morning, but that wasn't good enough because she said she can't move that fast. I told her that I would be able to pack her things for her (which amounts to maybe 10 items on hangers and some underwear, socks, notes and cards, and a walker) in the morning and it would be no problem. She proceeded to have long silent periods, and then tell me things like that she didn't like this, that she wanted her things packed in a particular way so that she knows what's what, etc. So, the bottom line, when I finally got it out of her, was that she wanted me to bring her a suitcase tonite so she can start packing. (which, although this packing would take me 5 minutes, it would take her hours, and she is less steady by evening, so she doesn't need to be trying to do any of this tonite)

Like I said:
-it's an hour each way
-I've worked a zillion hours today and am very tired
-I was just there last night for hours and didn't get back here until after 10 pm, and was also there with the whole family the previous day

So, I decided to stick to my guns. I was very kind but just told her what I had been doing, how tired I was, that I still have more house stuff to do today in order to be ready for her arrival, and that the thought of driving one hour each way in order to bring her a suitcase when I know I can take care of that in the morning is just too uncomfortable for me.

Her reply?

"Well, it's MORE uncomfortable for me! THIS isn't the way I do things!"

You'd think she had to pack her trunks for a steamer ship trip to China or something.

I told her I understood that this is uncomfortable for her, but that I just could not come in tonite, that I would help her in the morning to pack things however she would like it to be done, and it will be fine. (Heck--we could throw it all in a garbage bag and just put it away when we get back here.....WHO CARES?! I know, I know. Old people! That's who!)

She went silent for awhile and then said, "Well, it's your ballgame. I don't get any say in it I guess. So, I guess that's the way it will be."

So after some more silence I asked her would she like one suitcase or two, and is there anything else she would like me to bring to make it easier, etc?

And know what? She wasn't there. I think she hung up on me!

So now I've been properly christened as an abused caretaker. I'm now an official member of the club!

Stuff like that is really uncomfortable for me, but I was proud of myself for being realistic about how much I could do today. She isn't thinking clearly or else she would not have tried to guilt me into coming tonite, so I'm not going to worry about it, and hope she's happier tomorrow. If not, well, we're heading home on Sunday, so I can deal with it til then. Plus, I'm not opposed to letting her know all that we and others have gone through at great personal sacrifice to help her. I hate knowing that she treats my mom this way as well, knowing that my mom bends over backwards to help her.

But, anyways, I digress...

So, we're on a trip. We're 10 minutes from the ocean. The kids have had tons of fun playing in the waves, trying to use a boogie board, and so forth. I was so carefully getting sunscreen on all the kids the other day that I nelgected to get any on myself, so I have fushia legs that hurt. Not sure if I'll manage to get back to the beach once the Gramster gets here.

Probably won't get back with y'all until I'm back at home. Don't forget about me! :)

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Hello again, people! How was your holiday weekend? Here at Dollymamaville we had several activities:

Friday night I took my 2 oldest boys to the county fair. My daughter had been invited by a friend, and the Firecrapper was keeping the 3 little boys home and putting them to bed early. The highlights of the evening included:

My 12 year old son catching up to me an hour into being at the fair (he had been riding rides with his friend) being so nauseated that he ended up having me drive him home. When we got home he actually took about 10 minutes to get into the house from the car, and that was by crawling! *Not* feeling too good, I guess!

I took my 7 year old back to the fair since he was having a fine time, and I was a good sport riding stuff with him, until we rode the "Splat" which just about made my dinner go splat..... It was the closest to vomiting I have ever been while riding something. Not too nice.

While hanging out at the fair I was marveling how not much has changed even since my earliest memory of being at such an event. It seems that the fairs always bring out the 250 lb. women with short terry cloth or cut off jean shorts riding up their heinies, and their macrame halter tops..... Why is that??

I also did my own informal observation of obesity in my county, and determined that probably 80%+ of the adults and 70% of the people 18 and younger were obese. Nice, huh? Just add in all those chain-smoking ride operators, and you've got yourself one nice atmosphere going on....

Speaking of ride operators, I was thinking about them. Apparently they travel all over the place all summer long delivering, setting up, operating, and taking down these rides, games, and food vendors over and over again. I was thinking that after a summer of seeing all those fat-butt wedgies, dunlap bellies hanging out of shirts, listening to the same bad ride music, and such, that there must be a high suicide rate amongst them..... Anybody know?

Anyways, getting back to my near splat experience, I gave my 7 year old the "15 more minutes and then we're going home" warning, and then happened to turn and see my daughter getting off a ride, holding her hand and wrist, and crying to her friend's mom. I went over to see what was going on, and found out that the poor kid had collided with her friend and hurt herself. So, I got to take my nauseated self, crying daughter, while herding both children who were moving at a snail's pace all the way through hell's half acre to the very back of the fair grounds to get her some ice for her hand, and then snail's-pace all the way *back* through the fair, and then to the very back of the parking lot to find our car, and then listen to her gutteral whimpering all the way home..... Big fun.

It took us 2 days to recover from all that excitement!

On the 4th the Firecrapper had to work, so I was on my own to come up with a fitting way to spend a national holiday with the kids. We spent a good part of the day doing our usual holiday activity, which is picking up the house! Then we had a nap, and then I was a good sport and took them to a church picnic and fireworks thing.

Unfortunately, the set up was far less than convenient for me to be there. The house where we got together was on a tiny lot on a curve, so there was only side yard space to play in, with 2 sides being at the street. (no back yard) We were also butted right up against the house next door and they were also trying to have a party, so the little kids from the church party kept wandering over to the next door house thinking it was an extension of what we had going on. I basically spent 4 long hours tensely counting heads and calling to my children "Get out of the street!" "Get out of their garage!" "Come back!" "Where are you?" "Do you see ____?" over and over again. I think that I managed to appear to be relaxed, but it was very tiring. By the time the fireworks started up, I had to give up and take them home. It's really hard to count heads in the dark, ya know.

This morning we sent the 12 year old off to camp til Friday night, and then the other kids helped me pick apples from our June apple tree. I always have these wistful feelings of living an ideal life whenever we pick apples or do some food-gathering-in-nature sort of activity. All that good, healthy, back-to-the-earth stuff makes me feel like things are just right. :) (After a couple back-breaking hours in the kitchen I get over it, though) Some years I have made applesauce and either canned or frozen it, but this year I decided to try a less-sweltering option, and instead ran all the apples through my Green Star juicer. All I had to do was wash and quarter them, and then push 'em on through. Of course, I had about 2 bushels of apples, so it took awhile, but I ended up with a lot of nice apple juice. June apples are really sour, so I added some sugar to the juice, and it turned out tasting very much like apple cider. I'm pretty excited that this worked out so well, because I was really wanting something that didn't make a huge mess or make me sweat for hours, plus I wanted to try to use the apples in their raw state as much as I could. Obviously, with so many apples, it made a lot of juice, so we have frozen a few gallons of it, so it won't be exactly the same as eating raw, but it preserves a lot more nutrients and enzymes than if it had been heated, so it's a good trade off for me and something different for a nice change.

I've recently updated my blogroll both by removing and adding some. One new addition is Tales From My Tiny Kingdom which has quite a bit of funny fare.

The post at Chez Miscarriage that I was referring to is now gone, so don't bother looking for it. The gist of it was:

She had attended some gathering of pregnant women, and they were supposed to go around the room and introduce themselves. Every woman there introduced herself in relation to her unborn baby (such as "Sierra's mom" or "mommy-to-be on July 31st") which Grrl of Chez Miscarriage thought was rather odd since they never actually told their real names. Later in the gathering they were supposed to go around the room and tell "one precious promise" to their unborn baby that they intended to keep. People were saying things like, "I promise to love you unconditionally" and stuff like that. But what does Grrl say?

"I promise to always introduce myself by my own first name."

ba da bing!

I thought it was hilarious. (unfortunately, she says nobody laughed.)

So, now you know.

Also, kind folks who have helped me brainstorm about somehow switching around phones/cell phones/interent in order to save money have asked me what I decided. Basically, I tried out People PC, called to cancel my MSN, MSN offered to give me the same service for cheaper, and I hated People PC service. So, I've got what I had, but for $5 cheaper per month. We kept everything else the same because really, it's as cheap as we're gonna get it and switching ain't gonna help a thing.

We are still surviving without Netflix, however. The first month we rented quite a few movies, so it probably didn't save us anything, but this month we've not had much time for movies. I was realizing that when I had the Netflix I felt this self-imposed pressure to hurry up and watch it because I wanted to send it back right away so that I could get another one coming and, you know, get my money's worth! But, I don't really have time for many movies. Especially ones that aren't for the kids to see.

I've tried to keep up on my revolutionary household plan of Completing Things, but, by crackie, it's hard to do! When I am faced with a day when there are 30 things that must be done at least part way, and I can either get them all done to a "good enough" point, or I can finish 12 items and dis the remaining ones, guess which thing happens?

So, yeah, still working on that! The laundry has stayed under control, and I guess with 8 people here, that is an accomplishment in and of itself, so I won't be too hard on myself.

And that, dear ones, is all the news that's fit to print at 2am! Hopefully I'll have something more titillating for you at a later date. (titillating?! Did I just say that?!)