Wednesday, August 31, 2005


Readers who like to discuss issues and comment on them.
Readers who have intelligent support for their opinions.
Readers who enjoy debates and can do so and still stay friendly and respectful.

Tell your friends. Tell your neighbors. Send them to me! I want chatter!

Anyone? Anyone?
(Beuhler? Beuhler?)

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The post about schools which makes me ask myself: Am I Becoming a Liberal?! :)

I was visiting a blog today and my attention was drawn to 2 articles about school programs, specifically schools offering breakfast. The original article I read is here and she referred to the article that inspired her to write, which is here.

So, in case you aren't up on schools today, they now have breakfast, not just lunch. Your child can take the bus to school, go have breakfast, and then start their school day with a full belly. Both of these blog entries seemed to take offense at the idea that school systems seem to be taking over more and more parental responsibilities. Not only is the education provided for, but now we also have 2 meals a day (plus snacks in some grades), some health care, transportation, and very often they have after school programs that go until dinner time or beyond in some cases.

I can understand the idea that we want parents to actually take care of their children, and we want children to actually be spending time with their parents. We don't like the idea of children just being turned over to the state school system for everything except for baths and a place to sleep. Absolutely! But, the thing I have to consider when I look at these programs is who is taking advantage of them, and why, and what the alternative would be if the program wasn't there.

I believe that just about every school program that is out there has come to exist because of a real or perceived need within our society. These needs are not just abstract--they are specific, real, adults and children, who for whatever reason, need a helping hand.

In my own small town the incomes are rather low (the majority of the children at our elementary school qualify for reduced or free meals) and the education level of adults is also low. I think of the families that are struggling to pay their bills, the families who work 2, 3, and 4 jobs or more between the parents, in order to try to do all the things they should for their kids. I think of moms who are either at work, or are so tired and short on time that they literally cannot attend parent-teacher conferences or holiday musicals or orchestra concerts, let alone help make toothpick Indian villages or help their child learn math facts. If there is something that can be done to lighten their load, I'm in favor of that.

If kids are hungry, I want them fed.
If kids are going to be unsupervised after school if they go home, I want them safe and occupied someplace else.
If kids need extra help with their schoolwork and there is nobody at home that can provide it, I want somebody else to.
If kids need clothing, blankets, or winter boots, I want them clothed.

Know what? Jesus is of the same opinion:

Matthew 25:35 For I was hungry, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.

Many people would say that it is not the job of the government to provide for people in this way, although I am not aware of any place in the Bible that tells us this is so. However, would it be somehow preferable if churches were providing these services instead? Maybe. But then of course you get into all the churches that decide not to offer day care or mother's day out programs because a mother's place is in the home, and they are essentially turning their back on the needs of the struggling, poor, hungry, and fatherless of our society. If your church is offering some sort of ministry that takes care of such needs, I hope you will support it in whatever way you are able. If not, perhaps you could look at the school programs as an opportunity for outreach. My friend Sooz spend some time last year reaching out in her children's school by going in a few times a week to help some kids with math that they were struggling in. My friend Alana of Morning Coffee did the same, but to help children with reading. These are women who love the Lord and saw an opportunity to use their gifts to reach out to some children in need. Maybe they weren't able to give out tracts or do a Bible study or pray with the child, but they were able to smile and give a hug and show some genuine care and let God's love shine through them. The Matthew 5 passage doesn't say, "Feed 'em and teach 'em a hymn." It's just meet needs. Meet needs. Care for people. See the needs and reach out. Seems to me this is a good thing whether it comes directly from a church, or if it comes the long way around, via the school system/gov't.

In my own situation, when I was completely strung out a couple years ago with 3 babies born in 3 years, and my husband and I decided to put our older kids into school, we were Very Thankful to have a good resource to fall back on. We found that our local school was great to work with, and that our children got a decent education there. (far better than they would have gotten at home those years) Some of my children have (gasp!) even eaten breakfast at school (as well as lunch) and by crackie, I was thankful for that too! It was a big help to me, a tired mother of a newborn, if we woke up late some morning, to be able to have my children grab breakfast at school, because they didn't have time to eat and meet the bus on time, and I couldn't bear to wake up 3 babies in order to drive everybody to school. (some days I didn't even have a car available!) One of my children loved school breakfast, and he isn't a child who likes to have to eat right when he wakes up. He was already tired from his school schedule, so I wasn't about to wake him up extra early just so he could be up long enough to want to eat, either. It simply made sense for him to eat breakfast at school. And you know what? There's nothing wrong with that.

The school breakfasts usually include milk, juice, something hot like eggs or pancakes, some fruit, and cereal. This is a better breakfast than most kids get even in the best homes! I find it hard to see how we would laud the mom that feeds her kids a breakfast of Lucky Charms or even Bran Flakes, and then villify the mom who can let her child eat eggs and oranges and milk at school. Sorry, folks, but eating breakfast at school isn't necessarily a bad thing and doesn't mean a parent is a slacker.

The experience of having kids in school has certainly broadened my perspective, and increased my respect and compassion for others. I could barely help all my kids with homework, and I *was* there when they got off the bus! How does the woman who has to work and doesn't get home until 6pm manage to make dinner, help with homework, clean the house, spend time with her kids, give them baths, and hang out with her husband in the few hours she has before she falls asleep? I can't hardly imagine, because all of those things have been a struggle to me, and I'm sitting at home all the time!

I know a family that has 2 little boys in preschool this year. In their school district, preschool is offered 5 days a week, all day long. So, the plan for these kids is breakfast, lunch, nap, and snack at school. Well, guess what? These parents felt that this was a little excessive. So, real simply, they adjusted their involvement at preschool. They worked out a compromise with the school, and now the mom picks up the kids from school after lunch so that they can nap in their own beds and have more time at home. So, just because something is available doesn't mean everybody is going to use it. However, for the parents that would otherwise be paying day care full time, I'm sure it's a real blessing to have the children in preschool for free instead! Is that a bad thing? I guess some would say so... But I don't. If by relieving these parents of the cost of day care they can now pay their bills, buy a home, work one less job and therefore be home with their children more, well, I'm thinking that's a good thing. By the school offering preschool, we haven't eliminated the need for something for the children to do while the parents are working, but we have given a helping hand to these families.

Are there families that utilize these services and programs that are not truly in need of them? Probably. Frankly, I don't care. If we were to set up some way to decide who does and does not qualify for these programs, to come up with the paperwork, and then pay somebody to sort through all the papers and send out notices to let everybody know if they got in or not, blah blah blah ad nauseum, it would probably cost more than to just go ahead and have it be for whoever decides they want the service. There are plenty of unseen reasons that people need extra help that can't always be quantified on paper. Personally, I'm satisfied to trust people to use their own judgement about their use of services. My experience in my own community is that although it is largely poor and undereducated, that parents turn out in droves for school functions, that parents try hard to do their best for their kids, that parents love their kids and don't want to let them down, and that they want to help their kids do well in life. Past that, I don't have the energy to go around supposing the motivations of other people's actions. If they say they want junior to get breakfast at school or to stay for after school services, that's good enough for me. (Conversely, if they are the kind of parents looking for a way to pawn their kids off on others, they will find a way to do that, too. Do I want it to be on my dime? No. But, like I said, it'll cost plenty of money to keep 'em out, too.)

I think that for a lot of America, they look at these comments by homeschool mothers who are kind of shocked and horrified and saying, "Well, how can YOU call yourself a PARENT when you don't even feed your kids breakfast or be home to get them off of the bus?" and know that these people have absolutely no clue about the harsh realities of their lives.

I've said it before, I'll say it again:

Home educating familes of the world, you are blessed. Blessed far beyond your own appreciation, many times. Your children are capable enough learners that you are able to teach them without outside help. Your income, humble though it may be, probably still allows you to have one parent stay at home full time with your children. You somehow have the intelligence, health, stamina, and resources to purchase curriculum and learn how to do the teaching that your children need. Your spouse is willing to work hard so that you can stay home, and do without the comparitive financial ease that would probably exist if you had a paying career.

For many people in our society, the life of a homeschooling family is a fantasy world that they cannot imagine ever being possible for them. For whatever reasons, they do not have what it takes to be able to homeschool, and maybe they never will. When homeschool advocates look down their noses and complain about how the rest of society gets the job of parenting done, it seems to me to smack of ignorance and a lack of grace for others. Personally, I want to be humbly thankful for the blessings I have in life, and to be genuinely respectful of others, even if they can't or don't live like I do.

Monday, August 29, 2005

From the mouths of babes

I recently went to a homeschool kick-off night and saw people that I probably haven't seen for 2 years. One friend exclaimed about how great I look and said, "Look at you! You're so THIN!"

Now, I know that's nice and meant to be a compliment and all, but....this is one of those comments that makes me cringe because, um, I have a ways to go. And to be thought of as THIN at this point only serves to remind me of how absolutely HORRIBLE I must have looked the last time she laid eyes on me. (and I was! I have seen the pictures of me at the end of my 6th pregnancy, and it wasn't pretty, folks! nosirree!) Does anyone else experience this line of thinking?

The other funny down side to this comment is that I know how much I weigh, and if I were to tell you, you would not be inclined to think that I am THIN. Now, I am tall, and my body tends to distribute the extra weight all over the place, so I do stay in fairly good (fatty) proportion to myself at all times, which makes for a decent visual deception. But, you know, THIN is not one of the adjectives that comes to my mind in describing myself.... I've always been a curvy chick with butt, hips, and boobs. Even if I were 20 lbs. less than I am now, I'd be curvy...never thin. (which is ok with me. I like my curves! They suit me.)

But, anyhow, the kicker came when I was home and told my husband about this comment from my friend. When I got to the past where I had told him she said, "You are so THIN!" and then rolled my eyes at him (because he knows what I think about this comment) my 9 year old daughter chimes in by rolling her eyes and saying, "Yeah, really! You? Thin? ha. "

Thanks, sweetie.

Have I told you lately about how honesty is sometimes overrated? (not sure if I prefer the THIN or the 'yeah, right!')

Sleepless in Kentucky

So I shall refrain from blathering on and on about why I cannot sleep. It's not because I'm scared, brain just won't stop! So, here I am again.

My youngest child, 2.5 years old, is experiencing a great love for throwing things in the toilet. I think all of my children have gone through something similar, although he seems to be the worst toilet tosser of the bunch. I was thinking today that I need to paint on the wall near the toilet:

No swimming.
No fishing.
No diving.

Belle on Her Toes has a beautiful post up that was a great encouragement to me about motherhood. Not only was that a blessing, but she mentioned a favorite blog of hers that looks to be worth checking out both for the sweet atmosphere and the gorgeous works of art. Venture on over to both spots and see what's what.

Alana at Morning Coffee deserves congrats for shedding 20 lbs.! Also, a recent post of hers reminded me of something I saw a few years ago and haven't stopped loving the thought of: a surrey with a fringe on top! I bet you didn't even know what that song was talking about, did you? Well, it's like a pedal-powered car. A cross between a bike and a Flintstones car! I think they are way cool and it would be so fun to live someplace without many hills (not central Kentucky!) and nice weather to use one of these gizmos instead of a car as much as possible. Too cute! Check them out here and here and here! I really like the old fashioned-looking ones, but the mod ones are very cool too. With the cost of gas looking to never go back down, maybe this would be a nice alternative for some of us, eh?

Modern surreys! Too cool! Posted by Picasa

Have I ever told you about my mother's neat-o business? She owns and operates a 4D ultrasound business in North Carolina. You can go check out these amazing pictures of preborn babies that she gets with her ultra high tech ultrasound machine! Pretty interesting technology.

Aside from my enterprising mother, I have a famous brother as well. He is a musician, formerly (and currently!) known as Temple, but also performing with his best gal under the name Beast With 2 Backs.

(Don't worry, folks--I already sent them an email to say that she needs to pull up her pants!) You can check out some of his sound here and here. He generally plays in the Boston area, but has recently performed in NYC at CBGB's!

His talented "better half" is a creative genius in her own right, as a designer of beautiful clothing that she sells to the wealthy and fashion-conscious of New England. You can find her items at exclusive trunk shows and snazzy boutiques in the Boston and New England area, under the name Teresa Crowninshield. (she normally has a web site up but today it seems to not be working.....)

So, hey--pretty impressive...right? I also have an amazing sister who recently graduated with her second masters degree and is currently job hunting in Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. She does Industrial Organizational Psychology....or something like that! It doesn't mean that she sits and listens to worker bees cry into their hankies and talk about their childhood wounds, though. It's more like she looks at workplaces and figures out how to make them more ergonomic and efficient, helps make things happier and more productive for everybody involved...stuff like that. Or something close to it! Sissy--write in and set us straight. With the thousands/hundreds/dozens of readers here, maybe we can find you a job this way! (not that you aren't doing a mighty fine job of that yourself, of course!!!) And tell us, how do you like having a chosen career field that ordinary dolts like your family members struggle to comprehend? (Hey--I don't understand most of my brother's music, and I can't fit into Teresa Crowninshield's designs, and I'm not going to be getting a 4D ultrasound anytime in the forseeable future either, but it doesn't stop me from being proud of 'em all!)

Well, I've killed an hour here so it must be almost time for me to either go get a snack, start playing online bachgammon, or make another attempt at going to sleep. Which will it be? Oh, it's anyone's guess.....I'll leave you in suspense, just because I can.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Quiver Full, anyone?

So Chris and her husband over at the Big Yellow House are calling it quits at 7 kids. This reminded me of a recent few blog entries I have read here and there about whether or not the "Quiver Full" point of view is right or wrong. For those of you uninitiated, QF mindset is basically that children are a blessing, that God has childbearing directly under His control, and that using no birth control at all is best because it leaves you open to having the children God wants you to have.

In the past we adopted this point of view...partially. We did not think that it was a concept to be taken to an extreme (such as when someone has an obvious health issue or something that would make more children a great health risk. We knew too many people with too many legitimate reasons to take breaks or stop having kids to think that they were in any way doing something wrong.) but that it is certainly worth remembering what God thinks about children, and to examine our attitude about having them. So often in our society the attitude is that I want X number of children and that is what I shall have. This is what fits into someone's dream family or their car or how many kids they think is right or something. For people that want to glorify God in all they do, shouldn't there also be the consideration and investment of time and prayer about what does God have for us?

So, anyhoo, one spot in the blogosphere recently asked "So if you aren't QF minded, why is that? What possible reason do you have to not have children? Why do you use birth control? Where do you think the QFers have it wrong?"

Unfortunately, it seems that from the extreme QF standpoint there are only two options:

You trust God and want His will for your life, so you will never use birth control.
You use birth control because you do not trust God and do not want His will for your life.

A-hem. is where we never could appreciate the entire QF package. Because, as you may or may not know, there are more possible answers to the QF question than A or B. May I present option C? (some of the rest of you may want to offer options D, E, or F) Here is what I wrote:

We used to generally go along with the QF mindset, and for many years (and 5 children in 7 years) we used no birth control (other than ecological breastfeeding and some haphazard fertility awareness that I now realize failed at least partially because I believe I sometimes ovulate more than once a month). We were up for having lots of kids and things were going fine, so we just didn't worry about it. (We have 6 children total.) It was fine and we were satisfied with our approach (or lack thereof) and so life went on and the family grew.

Our descent from QF-dom happened from a high-risk, dangerous 4th pregnancy and premature baby, to another baby born a little more than a year later, to another one born 20 months later with an "exciting" life-threatening placental abruption at birth. My body was wiped out. My hormones had not been given any chance to recover from all of the pregnancies and post partums, and I was clinically depressed. Our older children were not getting a good home education because their mother was totally wiped out in every possible way. The babies were in front of Blue's Clues videos every day while their mom struggled to homeschool. Little ones' needs were falling through the cracks because I was barely hanging on. Also, our life was constantly overwhelmed by the "baby avalanche" and it was burdensome for the older children, plus they always had to sacrifice their interests in life in favor of us having to stay home because I could not take 3 babies out anywhere.

We felt that to continue to just "be open" to pregnancies as we had been was putting my health at great risk, and not valuing the children we already had. My husband was not willing to have our ship go down all to continue to procreate until menopause, and ignore everything else that he knew we were supposed to be doing.

What we found in the long run was that the QF thing is out of balance. My husband felt that we had to balance our appreciation of our children as gifts from God (Psalm 127:3) , our need to bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of God (Ephesians 6:4), and my husband's charge to take good care of me (aka loving me like Christ loves the church- Ephesians 5:25). (all things that the Bible is even more clear on than whether or not it is ok to prevent pregnancy at times) Some people can do all of these things and have way more children than we have. Some people can do all of these things but for fewer children than we have. The number isn't the issue. The balance is.

We were not willing to say definitely no more children, but we did agree to use a non-abortifacient, very effective form of family planning in order to assure that we gave ourselves 5 years from the birth of the youngest child to regroup, recover, and reorganize. If at that point or beyond we feel that God is asking us to have more children, I am sure we will. (frankly, if we felt called to that now, we'd get on board as well) We've also considered adoption and foster care, but don't feel we're in a position to pursue either of those right now, but there's no telling what the future might bring.

The baby is 2.5 now and we are doing much better. I am slowly working my way back to health, my children get a mother that can actually take them places and play games with them. I am no longer depressed! My husband and I have time for dates and to be in-love and enjoy each other in ways that we were unable to when we were underneath a pile of sweet-but-needy babies.

Babies are wonderful and children are a blessing, but I do not think it is a blessing to myself, my husband, or the children and babies to continue to have more and more of them if it is clear that I am not able to do even the basics, let alone a really good job.

We have been fruitful and have multiplied, we continue to wrestle with this issue and try to be sure we have open hearts to the Lord and what He wants for us, and we are trying to be faithful parents and a solid couple. I think where QF fails is in what the Bible calls "counting the cost." (Luke 14:28) So many people blindly go along having babies and using no birth control, but do not have the balance of financial stability, health stability, skills, or whatever. The road to raising children is quite long, and it is easier than one might expect to get burnt out along the way by overdoing it early on in the race. Yes, God does help us, but He also expects us to count the cost before we start building big families, and to prepare in smart ways.

I'm glad I have the kids I have. They are awesome, and having 6 children is my one great luxury in life that moth and dust cannot destroy. Now that I have survived it, I am even glad that some came in rapid succession--it is really neat to have them be so close and to have instant buddies to play with all the time.

Children are SUCH a blessing--it truly humbles me to think about it for more than a passing moment. My husband and I want to do the best we can with the gifts we have been given, and this is how we see it from here.

**Since I just commented in two discussions on this subject and linked to this post, I thought I would give an update on my feelings on this subject now that it is March 2008. My "baby" is about to turn five in a few days. Though my husband and I do still loooove babies (I got to hold a newborn at church on Sunday--so sweet!), we feel like we made a good call on putting things on hold. As our children have gotten older, we have seen how many more needs they have. When they are all little it is easy to think that their needs will always be so simple. Not true! They need more, their issues are more complex, and older children (mine, at least) don't seem to do well with being ignored, sidelined, or used as free labor to help cope with the needs of younger siblings. My oldest child is 15 now and we are seeing how short the time is.

Counting the cost is an important issue that gets largely ignored in this issue. You can't always take on some huge project without some plans, some supplies, a strategy, some know-how, and expect to be successful. God is apparently ok with this and encourages us to do what we can to prepare. I hope to do some new books and a podcast to help encourage moms in this area. I feel that if I had better training and strategies earlier, that we might not have found ourselves in the tight spot that we were in.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Variety Pack

Hello again my dearies! I've got some time to kill so thought I would pop in to share some Dollymamaisms with you.

The other day I finished book number 5 in the Outlander series: The Fiery Cross. LOVED IT! LOVED IT! I am crazy about this series and am anxiously awaiting the 6th and FINAL book which is coming out in September, I believe. I am very excited to see how it the story ends, plus, though I've loved it, I will be glad to finally be free from it. It's been such a compelling story line that I've been reading it non stop for a month or more. I've literally carried these books with me all through my day, reading at any possible moment I could snatch. I'm glad for a little break between #5 and #6, too, just to get myself caught up on some other stuff.

I was thinking about my love for this series and what it is about it that has grabbed ahold of me so strongly. One of my favorite aspects of this series is the romance between the two main characters. As the author points out in The Outlandish Companion (a companion! book to the first 4 in the series) whereas a lot of romance novels focus on a courtship and then end with a marriage, Outlander starts with a marriage of necessity, and then builds up to an incredible romance and adventure within the context of a long marriage. The story has way too complex a weave to ever be regarded as just a romance novel. No way! It's got a wide range of all the great story elements, and is woven beautifully. I really enjoyed reading The Outlandish Companion and learning about how the author goes about writing her books, developing characters, and so on. Very interesting and different from what I would have imagined.

Since it has been waiting for my attention for months and is overdue at the library, my next literary stop was Being Perfect by Anna Quindlen. It's a dinky little book that becomes even dinkier when one realizes that it is about half-full of pictures. I think it took me about 15 minutes or less to read. It's basically an essay that got put into a book. Must be nice to be that popular as to write a little essay and have people buy it for $10 each!

I have enjoyed Anna Quindlen's work in the past, but didn't find this item to be all that compelling. The message in the book is to stop trying to be perfect, and instead just be yourself. GREAT! If you need to hear it, now you have. For me, I already figured that out awhile back, so it didn't spark any great interest in me, although it did have a few spots where I felt it was a good little follow up to Surrendering to Yourself.

I also finished up Bless and Be Blessed by Peter Lord. It's got a great message: Why save the best things we say about people for after they're dead? Tell them now and build them up! The author explains about the importance of blessing others with our words, and how to go about it. This happens to be something that comes fairly easy to me, but I enjoyed the reminder and hope to put the habit into practice even more in the future.

In household news, we've been making some progress around here. While getting toward the end of The Fiery Cross I started feeling guilty about how lazy I've been, sitting on my arse reading all the time, rather than taking good care of the house and inhabitants. :) I am thinking I need to trick myself into thinking of my life in terms of a 20 hour a week job doing house stuff, and a 15 hour a week job teaching kids stuff, and so on. Haven't gotten to that point, though, because I refused to let myself sit down and make up lists and nonsense rather than just get to work. I got on a crazy binge and organized 2 yukky, cluttered cabinets in the kitchen (all it took was a $6 drawer thingy!), and got clutter off of my worst hot spot in the house. (and it still looks pretty good, all these days later)

My husband requested that I get a few picture frames and get some photos on the walls. We've been really bad about this. I never want to just get one frame at a time since I want them to match, and it's rare that we can just buy all the frames I want. Worse, we don't live real near any decent place to get a nice frame. I do not want Walmart frames that do not have convenient ways to get the pictures in and out! So, we barely have any family pictures on the walls, and lots of empty spaces where they could go. I had some photos in mind to frame, and set out for a little dept. store on Friday to see what they had. I was in luck! Their frames were 50% off, and there were LOTS! I ended up getting 6 8x10 frames to put all the kids most recent individual pictures in, one large frame to put our family picture from last November in, and a collage frame that is way cooler looking than most I have seen. All of that for under $65, which I thought was awesome! So now we have pictures up and that is quite a thrill!

From there I got inspired to use my new photo album and put some pictures into it. Way back when I had just 2 kids I got invited to a Creative Memories party and got into the idea of scrapbooking. The only problem was, I kept having kids and kept racking up pictures, and didn't have the time, space, or kidless hours to get the stuff put in books. So for years we have been adding photos to the stacks, with little hope of them ever getting seen by any of us. Most of my kids haven't even seen pictures of themselves as babies, and frankly, I can barely remember their younger years.

Recently someone on one of my egroups mentioned that for those of us with no hope of catching up on the scrapbooks, that there are now regular stick-your-photo-in-the-sleeve and stick-your-photo-under-this-film kinds of photo albums that are acid free and all of that good stuff. I HAD NO IDEA! So I went out and got a $5 photo album, and then let it sit for 2 weeks until yesterday. Rather than stress about whether or not I was starting right from the very beginning or whatever, I just picked up some pictures that went together, and put them in the album. And I kept going. If I found that I was out of order, I could open the 3 ring binder thingy and just switch stuff around. or I could take the pics off the page and move them elsewhere. These are the issues that have kept me paralyzed from scrapbooking for all these years. What if I get them out of order? What if I find pictures that I didn't know I had and now the whole book is messed up? Well, now none of that really matters. I put pictures into that book until my back hurt, and the whole family had a great time seeing themselves as little tykes. I'm far from done, but it was nice to at least get that much done. Maybe I'll even do some more of that before too long goes by. It will be so nice to have the pictures available to look at, and later on if I want to scrapbook them all perfect and pretty, they all be ready and waiting.

Must go for now. Ta ta!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

You Know You Love To Blog When...

you actually consider nominating yourself as a PTA officer, simply because you imagine it would provide a lot of blogging fodder........

(Hey, I love to blog, but, I decided the price was just too darn high. You'll have to live with my regularly scheduled blatherings, minus PTA politics....)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Today I attended my first school meeting of the new school year. I have 2 children that have been in speech therapy, and one who has been receiving speech, occupational, and cognitive therapy. Being in all of these therapies require several meetings throughout the school year to set goals, report on goals, and so forth. The group of people I work with are just great. I really enjoy meeting with them and getting their feedback about how my kids are doing and what we can do to help them more. After home educating for 6 years, and then switching to public school, I was initially inclined toward the paranoid notions that a lot of homeschoolers have toward public schools and special ed teachers, but thankfully have been shown that at least in my school district, everybody is very helpful, respectful of my home education experience, and all want to help the kids do their best.

Unfortunately, I still grapple with feelings of guilt as I hear about how my 4th child is struggling. He is the one that gets 3 kinds of therapy. He was born 3 months early. Somehow, even though I know logically that I did all I knew to do, all that I could have done, and have loved him greatly from the womb, I struggle with this feeling that somehow I have failed him, and that is why he has problems. Maybe a lot of mothers would feel the same in my position. I don't know. But, it can be really hard to sit at a table having people express, in the kindest ways possible, that my child has delays and oddities that cannot be named but are apparent to those who work closely with him. I was able to hold my thoughts together pretty well today (much better than last year when I felt like just crumpling up and crying after a meeting like this) but still, afterwards, it's there eating away at me.

It's a double-edged sword, this getting the help your child needs. On the one hand, it stinks to know they have these problems. You worry about their future. You wonder if it is somehow your own fault. Do these therapists think you are a terrible parent? Will the child turn out ok? On the other hand, it's so good to see the progress, to know that you're helping your child get what he needs to do better. My 4th kiddo has come SO FAR since last year at this time. Last year if you asked him, "What is your name?" he would reply, "name." If you asked, "What color is this?" and he would say, "Color is this." His speech was very hard to understand, as well. Now he answers questions, makes observations, can tell me what he did at school today, and everybody can understand most of what he says. Good stuff. We're very glad he's improved so much.

I had a revelatory moment after the regular meeting. The speech therapist wondered if I wanted my 7 year old to continue in speech this year. He has been in speech since preschool, but this year he is homeschooled again and I did not know that he could still get speech services. (I also wasn't so sure that he really needed speech any more) The speech therapist assured me that any child in the school district attending any school does qualify for a full range of special services. In the course of talking about my 7 year old with the speech therapist and the special ed expert that was there, I eventually explained why he was being homeschooled, about him failing first grade last year, and my observations about him, his learning style, concerns, and so forth. The special ed expert asked me, "Have you ever had him evaluated?" and a light went on in my head. Evaluated? For what? No, I never even thought of that. Sadly, his teacher never mentioned it to me either. (despite the fact that he tested at the bottom of the barrel in reading consistently throughout the year)

It never came into my mind that there might be something else going on with him. He has always been a little less mature than my other kids were at the same age. He has a lot of trouble grasping concepts. He does not remember very well. Learning just seems to be hard for him. Trying to homeschool him is rather maddening at times, because it seems like we go over the same stuff a lot and he still doesn't grasp it. I was looking at it entirely from a maturity standpoint, and thinking that all he needed was a little more time to grow. While that may still be the case, it also would be nice to know for sure if that's all it is, or if there is an actual problem in the learning process that we can help him with. So, sign that puppy up! Evaluate the heck out of him! :) I actually have some ideas in mind for approaching this issue from a natural health standpoint (I've been vaguely thinking about it, but hadn't made it a priority yet) but think it would be interesting to go ahead and have him evaluated before I start with my idea. I can be my own testimonial!

I know a lot of people, particularly die-hard homeschoolers, would really bristle at the thought of having a 7 year old evaluated for learning disabilities. One of my bugaboos with this is that if we believe that parents are smart enough and in-tune enough with their children's needs to think that they can educate them at home successfully, then I think we also need to believe that parents are smart enough and in-tune enough with their children's needs to think that they can get help from alternative sources and not be held suspect by the homeschooling community because of it.

And that's all I have to say about that.

(for today)

Monday, August 22, 2005

Go Pee First

OK. All set now? Good.

Thanks to my mom and sister, I have learned about a very entertaining web site,
This clever site turns everything you ever read on motivation and being all you can be on it's head. You know those posters in offices that have eagels soaring and words like LEADERSHIP or TEAMWORK with a few lines of inspiration to keep the worker bees going? Well, takes it a step farther with their own line of Demotivators. Here you can find items that may make your sides ache as much as mine did from sitting and cackling wildly. Here are a few of my favorites:

If we don't take care of the customer,
maybe they'll stop bugging us.

Sometimes the best solution
to morale problems is just
to fire all of the unhappy people.

Because you've given so much of yourself to the Company that you don't have anything left we can use.

For every winner, there are dozens of losers. Odds are you're one of them.

The harder you try, the dumber you look.

The only consistent feature in all of your dissatisfying relationships is you.

When you earnestly believe you can compensate for a lack of skill by doubling your efforts, there's no end to what you can't do.

As long as we have each other, we'll never run out of problems.

Your role may be thankless, but if you're willing to give it your all, you just might bring success to those who outlast you.

Not everyone gets to be an astronaut when they grow up.

Needless to say, this site has the potential to be one stop shopping for Christmas and birthdays..... Don't miss their Bittersweet candies, pessimist's mug, and more. Too funny. Enjoy!

In Search of the Spiritual

An interesting article from Newsweek....

Ad Lib

I have several little goodnight songs that I sing to my little ones. These are mostly just simple little ditties gleaned over the years, made into a medley all my own. The kids know these songs by heart, of course.

The other night I was singing to my littlest guy, the I Love You song, which starts out simply

I love you so much
I love you so much
I can't even tell you how much I love you

Squiggy was quietly, sincerely singing along with me, but with a twist. He sang

I love you so much
I love you so much
I can't even tell you shut up......

Needless to say, my roars of hilarity weren't exactly conducive to sleepiness....

Sunday, August 21, 2005

A few moments lacking in discretion today:

I was outside in the front yard this evening talking to my husband about a job he wants our son to do tomorrow, and someone from our old church was driving by and decided to stop to say hello. Nice! Except for the fact that I was caught out there fully dressed....but without a bra. Sadly, the shirt I was wearing was one that would make that fact plain to see. GREAT! Do you think the guy noticed that I tried to cross my arms strategically the entire time he visited with us? (The Flylady is always nagging about wearing shoes, but I think it's even worse to get caught without one's brassiere!)

Later, I came in from the back yard and the house was all quiet. I supposed all of the children were downstairs watching a movie. I guess my husband had the same impression as he came running along, picked me up, grabbed me, and made quite a display of his amorous urges toward me there in the kitchen. Would have been just fine as one of those stolen moments that parents of young children live off of, if not for the fact that our giggling daughter appeared. She had been hiding on the couch and saw the whole show. Ooops. (in case you're worried, it wasn't rated R, and no nudity was involved, but not exactly the kind of decent, fatherly image my husband normally likes to project)

Once we got the kids settled down for the night, and I had a little talk with our scandalized daughter about parents and their crazy love displays, we thought we were safe. My husband loves to ask me how much I weigh, knowing fully that I will never tell him! So in the course of tonite's silly how-much-do-you-weigh conversation I was commenting about where I thought my various extra poundage was stored. Hubby commented that really probably 10 pounds is located in my boobs, to which I assured him that although ample, these bazoombas are in no way even close to 5 pounds a piece. So make my point I went to the pantry and found a nearly 5 pound jar of spaghetti sauce, and invited my husband to make a weight comparison between the sauce and the, er, parts in question. A little harmless married goofing, ok? Yes, except that just as I said, "Check for yourself! There is no way one of my boobs weighs as much as this spaghetti sauce!" our 13 year old son came around the corner, eyes wide with a combination of horror and amusement. I don't think my husband and I have moved apart with such sheepish looks on our faces since we were in high school...... I could hear my son laughing his butt off all the way downstairs....

My husband will be at work tomorrow, so hopefully I can manage to behave properly on my own.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Movie Review (sort of): The Upside of Anger

I grabbed this film today at the movie store thinking it looked chick flick-ish and so I would watch it while the Firecrapper is away at work. In reality, he is perfectly willing to watch chick flicks with me, and has a few that are even on his favorites list (such as Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail.....maybe he's got a thing for Meg Ryan??), and compared to the random duds he often brings home (such as the unfortunate snoozer The Life Aquatic...DON'T BOTHER!) the chick flicks are often better.

And so I have watched it and all I can say is that it is a calm, sad-toned movie with characters that are a little too overdone and predictable. There are some interesting uses of light and color that seem to work symbolically as well as artistically. There is one "surprise" that I saw coming from the start, and we don't get to see very much of how this surprise resolves or changes anything that has been building up for the other 90% of the movie. So, kind of weak there, too. There was an attempt to get very philosophical about the great meaning behind the story, and so that's there, but again, it seemed a little over done to me. Didn't come across as natural at all.

The one thing I did get a kick out of, and would even get the Debi Pearl Stamp Of Approval, was the scene where the mother of 4 young women (so maybe she's 50ish) is talking with this man that is dating one of her daughters. The man is obviously older than the daughter, and is kind ofloserish and creepy and just not what most mothers would be looking for in a guy for their girl to spend time with. The mother asks this man why he doesn't date women his own age, and instead dates all these young girls half his age. His reply is something like this:

"Why do I date young girls? Because they're fun. Because they appreciate everything. You take 'em out to dinner. Oooh! A steak! Yummy! You take 'em for a walk after dinner and the air smells nice and they say 'Thank you, this is really nice.' They giggle. Why don't I date women my own age? You mean women like you? Because they're all bitter and angry and no fun to be around. That's why!"

No kiddin!

The other day my daughter asked my husband and me how we met and got together. So she got the Long Version of the story, told with competing points of view :) . One of the things my husband told her that he liked about me right from the start was that I was a fun-loving girl. No fuddy duddy whiney butt for him!

So, gals, this can be our friendly reminder today to be a fun loving partner for our man. Who wants to be bogged down with a fusser, anyhow?

Friday Morning Meme

In my travels across the blogosphere this morning:

A rare glimpse of Chris at The Big Yellow House. Holy Moley she is totally adorable! And TINY! Do you think she actually gave birth to all 7 kids???

She also talked about her quirky gift-giving and getting history while growing up. It reminded me of some people we used to know when I was a kid. I don't know if the husband just didn't get his wife gifts, or if the ones he bought just really stunk, but by the time we knew them the wife was in the habit of purchasing gifts that she wanted for herself at Christmas time or whatever. She would wrap them up beautifully with a card that said, "To Marcia, with all my love, Jack" and when she opened them she would act all surprised and thrilled and tell her husband what a great gift it was, seeing as how it was Just What She Wanted!

Some of you may remember my hissy fit about the sample chapter of Debi Pearl's new book Created to Be His Help Meet. Well, the book has been out for awhile now (selling bazillions to women who are gluttons for punishment all over the world), and there are several capable bloggers reviewing this unfortunate book. It seems to me, from reading these reviews, that my initial impressions were right on the money. I refuse to buy the book in order to give it more press here, nor do I think my blood pressure could stand all of the head shaking rage I would feel while reading the entire thing. (one chapter just about did me in) This is one of those books, sort of like the Ezzo parenting garbage, where according to Pearl fans, you are supposed to substitute what is said in the book, for what we want to pretend they actually mean. Uh huh. No thanks. Really, what the problem seems to be is that Debi can't just stop at the truth. She has to stretch and twist and add to it, until although there is a nugget of good stuff every now and then, it is covered over with a lot of misuse of the Bible, personal opinions, tacky comments, and trite little stories to prove that Debi's way is the Right Way. I don't know about you, but I prefer to read books that keep the refuse to a minimum, rather than the main course.

If you want to go read for yourself, here are some worthy spots to stop:
Keer Unplugged has chapter-by-chapter reviews.
Spunky Homeschool A husband and wife team up to write a several-part review of the book.
A concise review here, on Aug. 16. (didn't find a permalink for it so you'll have to scroll down a bit) Be sure to notice the un-be-lie-vable "Dumb Cluck Test"--a worthy show of Debi's mighty-fine biblically-sound book (cough, cough, gag, sputter, barf...)

Faithful reader SolarGrin has decided to take her blog into stealth mode. It was one of those "oopsie....too many real-life people know about my blog" situations. I'm constantly having to remind myself not to mention my blog to people. A very few real life people know about mine. Past that, I don't want the pressure. I have this blog so that I can share what's on my mind, tell my opinions without worrying about offending people, and vent about the stuff in life that seems to have no other place to vent. So, I have had to cultivate the "I've got a secret" mentality...

I have a few thoughts knocking around in my head today....might even get around to blogging about 'em, too. Stay tuned.....

Things That Happen When You're Blogging Instead of Supervising

Squiggy Magoo (2.5) just came to me with a chocolate-rimmed mouth, big smile on his face, saying, "Mommy, we got candy! Come look!"

So I followed his gleeful little run out to the living room, where he showed me a ripped open bag of chocolate chips partially hidden on the lower shelf of an end table. Great.

(I wonder how many weeks/months until he learns to not tell mommy about the candy stash?!)


Well, I thought I had a great plan. Get up and get the 2 elementary school kids on the bus. Then jump back into bed.

Instead what I got was:

Get up and get 2 elem. kids on the bus with 2 extra sibs that should still be sleeping by my side, then the 2 year old wakes up before I can make it back to bed.

Seems like it's gonna be a lucky day, eh?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Weepy Moments

So today my PMS went from pre- to present, and I've had a few weepy moments.

One was when I was cuddled up with my husband on the couch earlier today. I had this fleeting thought about the words in our wedding vows, "To have and to hold." A simple little phrase, but it means so much. To have somebody hold you, a place where you belong, a place of acceptance and rest and's a lot, isn't it? My husband has a dangerous job and I have had to deal with the real possibilities that go with that. Today I just had a renewed appreciation of being able to have and hold him, and thought of how much I would miss him if he wasn't here.

I got my second weepy moment tonite as I read the birth story from Chez Miscarriage. Hurry and read..she doesn't keep archives up any more.

Also, seeing as how we've known each other for about a year, I would like to share my one great tip about dealing with menstruation. Two words: Diva Cup. It totally rocks. I love mine. It's about as close to not having my period as I can get. But I'm not going to cry about that, so forget it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Another sleepless night thanks to the boogeyman


I actually was asleep earlier, until my son came in to tell me he had heard some sort of crash sound and whistling noise outside. So, up I went to check out the house. Everything appeared normal...but now the damage was done! I couldn't get back to sleep. The forces are against me:

have to go to the bathroom over and over again (must stop drinking water every time I get out of bed to fend of said boogeyman)

feeling like my head is itchy, thanks to the gleaned info today that our cootie friends, although finding no sign of lice on them while they were here, promptly got home to find 3 live ones on one of their kids. Enter DollyMama suddenly feeling like she is being crawled all over by small creatures.....

I'm hungry! Should I eat? hmmmm

After awhile of tossing and turning I decided to get up and polish off my book, Drums of Autumn, which is the 4th book in the Outlander series. I LOVED IT! Better than #2 and #3, and well worth it to have kept going. I already picked up the bext book in the series, but think I'd best not open it tonight.

My husband is applying (is that word spelled wrong? At 2 am it *looks* wrong.....) for some part time EMT work in addition to his regularly scheduled program of firefighting. We would like to get on top of our debts, so some additional cashola would be a mighty fine assistance toward that goal. It could work out well for him to do the EMT job, although I daresay that if he gets 24 hour shifts there, I am going to have to figure out a way to be able to sleep better while he is gone!

Speaking of my husband, I was telling him the other night about a recent post I sent in to one of my egroups to encourage a young mother who was very overwhelmed. It seemed to me that everyone else that had responded to this woman gave her advice about how she could Do More, rather than saying, "Hey, babe--you've got your hands full right now. Don't mess with the extras." So, it needed to be said, and I did. I told my husband I was on a quest to enlighten overwhelmed mothers everywhere and to help them get rid of their toxic, self-abusive, comparing themselves to imaginary people notions. He said I needed to start a new blog entitled The Enema: Flushing out all of your hidden toxicity with common sense and encouragement. or something like that. What do you think? Would a blog call The Enema catch on?? (now don't any of you go and steal my title!! It's copyrighted, y'hear??)

I think we can safely say that operation No More Milky has been completed successfully. I have not nursed my Squiggy Magoo since whenever it was last week that I started this project. He still asks, but is doing fine. After 13 years of faithful service, my boobs are going into retirement. Feel free to send gifts....

In the Other Odds and Ends dept..... I found a way to entice myself to spend time in the laundry room! I put a CD player in there and have enjoyed listening to one of my son's new CDs (Chris Tomlin). Now I have no trouble getting down there for some quality time singing my heart out while I fold clothes ever-so-beautifully. :)

Handy tip for those that like to both save money and save time: Instead of buying boneless, skinless chicken breasts like I did once upon a time, I now buy 2 turkey breasts every 2 weeks. I let them thaw, then crock pot them over night. The next day I let them continue crocking on low until I have time to deal with them. Then I take off the lid, let it cool for a bit, and pick the meat off the bones. (not a big deal) I package up the turkey into amounts to be used for several meals. I use the turkey for my turkey-noodle soup, for turkey patties (which is one of my faves), turkey quesadillas, Italian turkey, casseroles, etc. Basically anything that you would use chicken in. It's way cheaper, very easy, and once you've got it cooked it makes dinner prep much faster than the 1 hour at 35o that chicken breasts call for. Sooz says her grocery doesn't sell turkey at all at this time of year, but hopefully some others of you will have better fortune.

So, I have killed a half hour. I wonder if it is safe to go to sleep now? My mother suggested that I employ ear plugs as she has done ever since my teen years at least. She claims that I could block out the little noises, but would hear the kids if they cried or whatever, but I am concerned that I wouldn't. When it's only me on duty I feel fairly well obliged to hear all that I can Just In Case. So, I guess I'm doomed to suffer, eh?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Party is DONE! We made it!

After our near disaster last night with the party location, I had a restless night having several dreams about things that could go wrong with the party. My personal favorite, though, is the one where I was getting ready for the party (in my dream) and looked into the mirror to discover that somehow my hair had grown all the way down to my thighs, with no bangs, and frizzy, looking very much like some of the old-time church of God or pentecostal ladies I see grocery shopping around here. I was looking in the mirror, freaking out, saying, "how on earth did this happen to me? I can't go out looking like this!!!" and proceeded to try to figure out how I could make myself look less hideous.....

Do you think this means my vanity is getting out of control?

So we have just gotten home from the party. It went GREAT! The building was perfect for it. We had more than enough snacks and drinks. Everybody had fun. The building people accidentally left their sound system out so we got to use that, which was great.

We asked 4 of our favorite men (aside from my husband) to come planning to share about Christian manhood and to have something symbolic of their words to give to our son to remember what they said. As I had suspected and hoped it would be, it was EXCELLENT. Really, really neat stuff. Very encouraging, special, wonderful stuff from these guys that we appreciate so much. I think my son appreciated it too. It was during these little talks that I was thinking that I knew we did a really neat thing by having this party and I am so glad we did. It was Good Stuff.

My husband had been very nervous about all the speaking he would need to do at the party, but he did a great job and you couldn't even tell he was feeling uncomfortable.

My son did just fine doing his little part where he thanked people for coming, thanked the men for their encouragements, etc. He had fun playing games with his friends, and loved opening his gifts. The kid raked in some serious cashola plus a lot of cool loot.

After the party I asked him, "so did you like it a lot more than you thought you would?" and he said, "Yeah, I really liked it a lot. It was really cool." So, YAY! DollyMAma is vindicated, and now I can stop planning this party and get back to real life.

Tomorrow Doodles goes back to preschool, so now we can get into our regularly schedule programs, which will be nice for a change.

Thanks for all the well wishes on the party. It was really great.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Just When You Think Things are Starting to Calm Down.....

they don't!

So our cootie friends got here. They actually thought I was banning them from the house until we combed through their heads! Oh my gosh! So once I told them to get their cootie selves in here we combed through sweat! Didn't find nary a louse or egg on one of 'em. So, see here people, the combing is SO important! That's what Sooz's been doing--and she's probably 90% or better through with cootie-itis!

So, we have chilled out all afternoon, played cards, talked, picked up the very big birthday cake, had dinner, baked cookies, and played outside. Then I had to go over to the place where we are having the party in order to get the key. This is a place that a local church kind of runs as an outreach to kids in our town. It's a building that has pool tables, fooz ball (however you spell it) tables, air hockey, and other game tables and such, plus a snack bar, room to watch movies, space to sit and talk or dance or whatever. And they are open for kids 6-12 on Friday nights and kids 13-18 on Saturday nights. So I was supposed to come on by tonite and get the key and any instructions I needed. So I get there was closed! Nobody was there! And there was a sign that said, "Closed until next week."


So I went home and looked for the phone number of the woman I made the reservation with and couldn't find it, so instead decided to call the church since it was my only hope. Thankfully the phone forwards to the pastor's house. He answered and...

DollyMama: Hi. This is DollyMama. I have rented the building for a party tomorrow and was told to come by to get the key tonite, but nobody is there.

Pastor: Oh dear. We have a problem.

DM: Really? (thinking: why am I not surprised??)

Pastor: You see, we had a rummage sale there last weekend, and a truck was supposed to come and pick up all of the unsold items, but they didn't come this week. The building is filled to capacity with boxes and bags of stuff, so we couldn't even have our regular programs for youth this weekend because there was so much of it. Oh my......I am so sorry.....this is terrible....

DM: Oh. My. Goodness. This is not good.

Pastor: What kind of event did you say this was?

DM: My child's birthday party.

Pastor: Uh huh. Oh dear. How many people do you expect?

DM: Over 70.

Pastor: Over 70?! Oh dear. Oh dear. This is not good.

Yeah...tell me about it!

So he went on to say he was so sorry and he doesn't handle the rentals and so hadn't known that someone was expecting the building this weekend. He could offer me the church fellowship hall if that would suit me, and of course I would get a full refund of my money. (NO KIDDING!!!)

So I got off the phone to think through my options which at the time consisted of holding a party in the backyard which would normally be fine except that it is going to be something like 97 degrees tomorrow with scattered thunderstorms. Or, we could go to the church fellowship hall and sit at long tables and pick our noses whilst we wish my son a happy birthday....and what 13 year old boy wouldn't LOVE a party like that?! Social torture PLUS boredom!!!!

And, hey--what would I more like to do at the end of a long and busy day than to call up 70 people to redirect them to a new party spot?

Well, thankfully Sooz and her husband were here, and her husband talked some sense into me. His recommendation was that we get the key, see how much of this junk there was, and see if we could get it out of there and have the party as planned. So I called the pastor back and he was starting to have that same idea. He said he thought it might all fit into the TV room if we were inclined to move it there.

Uh huh.

So Sooz's husband and our 4 strongest, manliest sons went along to fetch the key and go see what was what at the youth building. And what was it? Oh, just like maybe hundreds of boxes and flimsy garbage bags full of JUNK! Spread all over the place....looking very intimidating.

I looked it over dismally and asked him, "Do you think we can do it?"

and he said, "Absolutely. No prob."

and we got to work.

Do you know that after about 30 or 40 minutes we had it almost all moved into this one side room? The pastor called me to tell me he had 5 church members coming right over to help me out, and by the time they got there were we about finished moving rummage crapola into that room! From there we and they vacuumed the whole entire place which was pretty messy, moved all the tables and chairs into place, and brought in our party stuff from the Burb. In one hour we were OUT OF THERE and the place is basically set up!

YAY! Disaster averted!

(And, I get my money back!)

It was really fun for the boys, who were spurred on to great manliness by Sooz's guy, and they all had a great attitude about it. Hey--combing for cooties AND moving a mountain of junk in one day--THIS is the stuff that makes a friendship full of great memories!

Two Screaming Attacks in the Past 5 minutes.....this is not a good thing

THANKS to my husband and children who, while I was away for most of the day yesterday running a million tiring errands, managed to do VERY LITTLE of what I had asked them to do. And even LESS of what they TOLD me they had done. I can now add to my to-do list for the day:

handwashing a million dishes that were improperly loaded into the dishwasher and so are therefore still not even close to clean ("We ran the dishwasher, honey." YEAH! GREAT! cups left upright and dishes crammed back to back do not wash so well, dearie!!!!)

drying all the guest bedding and making the guest bed AND cleaning the entire guest room, all of which I was assured had been done (including the largest bag of garbage you ever saw sitting in the room, too heavy for my back to drag it out. Sorry, Sooz! You guys won't mind sleeping with a hundred pounds of garbage in your room, will you??)

Be glad you're not around today, Firecrapper and blogosphere, because the wrath of DollyMama is coming down..............

Go Take On The Day


7:47 am. Say hello to blogosphere.

Eat breakfast

Straighten hair

clean bathrooms

put away laundry

make kids get up and eat

wash kids hair and spray liberally with No-Lice Hair Spray


make beds for guests

try to get a dozen more things done for the party which is tomorrow

find my purse which has been missing since last night

grind some wheat so I can make my world-famous pancakes tomorrow morning

fire up the RobiCombs and prepare for the arrival of a family of 6 with pediculosis to one degree or another

Plan meals for 10 children and 3 adults (husband is working today)

Try not to feel too itchy

Take 10 kids to water park pool

pick up cake

get key to party building

try to keep kids away from 12 latex helium balloons

try not to scream at people and grit my teeth so hard it gives me a headache

dodge advance of 2 year old that still wants milk and is now saying things like, "I want milk! It been days and days!" poor kid.... (but the answer's still NO)

pick apples with 10 children and make fresh apple juice

gross friend out by making carrot-celery-beet-zucchini juice and asking her to try some

make homemade pizza for lunch

see if I can do 13 years of scrapbooking in an afternoon in order to show to party attendees

It should be an exciting day! Hope you all enjoy yours! (take a nap for me!)

Friday, August 12, 2005

Puttin' My Money Where My Mouth Is

For those of you who have been visiting here at DollyMama for awhile, you probably remember that I also have a small business, Supermom's No-Lice Advice. I educate parents, teachers, and childcare providers about how to prevent and eliminate head lice in a safe, non-toxic way. I also sell two tools for getting rid of lice, plus an herbal head spray that I created that is a natural lice repellant.

For awhile now I have been wishing I had some way to test my repellant spray out, but nothing had presented itself...until now.

Our DEAR DEAR friends who we haven't seen in 7 months and who were planning to come stay with us for the weekend in order to visit and to attend our son's torture, oops, I mean Birthday Party, have now discovered the dismal news that their kids have lice. (insert primal scream of mothers everywhere) She call yesterday to tell me the news and to meekly say, "So.....can we still come?" to which I immediately and bravely said, "Let me think about it." :)

As I thought about it I realized, What better way to harvest some live lice for my spray experiments? Plus, I can prove how great my system really is. (or isn't) I encouraged her to go buy a RobiComb (see! See? Here is her first mistake. She DID NOT DO WHAT SUPERMOM TOLD HER TO AND START DOING ROBI COMB-THROUGHS AND HEAD CHECKS WEEKLY! She wanted to believe that head lice would never happen to them. So, "heads up" people: Wishful thinking does not prevent head lice! Never has, never will.) and get combing to get the worst of it over with. Unfortunately, she called me today to say she has called every place she can think of and nobody sells RobiComb in her area.

Worse yet, she found more live lice. And not just one or two, as is usually the case. (kind of like mice in the house. You want to *think* that one is all you have, but it's almost never true)

Even worse that THAT is the fact that she has one kid, the one with Thick, Long Hair, that she has not even gone through yet. Anybody want to lay your money down on bets for how this is going to turn out??

So, what's a Supermom to say? I said, Hey, don't stress. Bring your lousey kids on down here and we will Robi Comb them together. We'll get through it. It'll be ok.

Do I get some sort of Great Friend Award? Or a Purple Heart for bravery? Nah.... It's going to be ok.

My plan is that we will Robi Comb her kids as soon as they get here. We can do it outside to minimize the chance of anything live dropping off and scurrying around the house. Once we do that plus go through with the egg comb, we should be in pretty good condition, other than how itchy and gross we will feel, and the tears she will probably shed since it's just so stressful for moms to have their kids have lice! We'll Robi again in the evening for a good time, and once more on Sunday morning and evening before they go. We should have the whole thing well in hand before the weekend is out. An additional blessing is that any potential lice on the run at her house will die off while they are away, so she won't have to stress about vacuuming so much!

I will Robi my kids before our friends come, just to make sure I know they are all clear. I will wash their hair in tea tree shampoo and liberally spray my No-Lice Hair Spray forcefield on them. And on Sunday night or Monday I will Robi again to see if they have made any new friends on their heads. Even if they do, it won't have had time to get bad, so it shouldn't be a big deal to fix. But, with the hair spray, there is a good chance that they won't have been appealing to any lice at all.

Other than that, I would like to say that I am on day three of not nursing my son. It is going fine. He is still asking and still not happy when I say no, but it is getting easier. One funny thing is that by last night I really needed to pump to relieve some pressure so that I could sleep comfortably. I decided that rather than dumping the milk, I would offer it to the poor weanling. He's got a runny nose that could stand a little health food, and I thought he might be happy to have some milk. So I say to him,

DM: Hey Squiggy, come here. I've got something for ya.
SquiggyMagoo: OK. What?
DM: Want some of this? It's milk!
SM: (looking wary) Milk? What it taste like?
DM: It's milk! Mommy's milk! You like it.
SM: I like it? It's milk? hmmm... (looking warily at the milk, smelling it, and squinting at me to see if this is some sort of trick)
DM: Don't you want it? You like it! Try it.
SM: OK. (drinks it) (gags, coughs, sputters) I no like it.

I guess the previous charm was in the delivery??

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Boogeyman and Other Nighttime Fears

I don't sleep well when my husband is not at home. Seeing as how he works 24-hour shifts every few days, this can be a problem.

I don't sleep well because I hear things. The thunk of a child's leg bumped against the wall. The murmering of a child talking in their sleep. The squeak of doors as sleepy-headed little ones stumble off to the potty. And of course, the imagined footsteps of someone come to murder us in our sleep!

Yes, I tend to hear footsteps. I don't know what it is that makes the noise, but that's definitely what it sounds like. At the start of it my ears perk up, my adrenaline starts flowing, and I start mentally reviewing my contingency plan for What To Do If Someone Breaks Into the House. (interestingly, we had another type of footstep noise that would happen a lot at our previous home. It was even worse than the noises at this house. Do you suppose we have a ghost that just likes to walk? I know! Maybe it's our guardian angel, eh?)

I started making a plan like this back ten years ago when my husband first because a firefighter and was no longer always at home at night. We had just one child then, and I feared that some murderous stalker was out figuring which nights my husband was not home so that he could come and rape and murder me in the night. This, despite the fact that we lived in a small, extremely safe town, out on a farm such that barely anyone would even know we were there unless it was pointed out to them. And we had two dogs, one of which roamed around outside at night so would definitely have barked if an intruder was skulking around. (But! You know, the dog could be poisoned or something! You never can tell!)

From there we went to having two children, and I got to start working up a new plan that not only included flight from intruders, but also a Where To Go In Case of Tornado, which was actually a very realistic need because we lived in a trailer that swayed to and fro with any winds above 30 mph. We had one great big storm when my new daughter was only about 2 weeks old and I was home alone that night not relishing the idea of having to do lay in a ditch someplace to save my children's lives!

Once we got up to three kids I figured I was dead meat if anybody came around wanting to kill or harm me, because I didn't know how I could drag/carry all three kids to safety if need be. So, for a few years I think I just went with the Hope Nothing Bad Happens plan, which I guess worked alright.

Now that the kids are older and there are 6 of them, I also worry about the what-ifs of somebody breaking in and hurting one of them. It didn't help my fears any a few years back when there were so many children in the news that had been abducted right from their own homes. This prompted me to get a dog (farm dogs were gone by this point), which did help subside my fears somewhat.

But still, I have trouble sleeping. We live in a different town that is also small and fairly safe. Our particular area is fairly well away from what crime there typically is around here. And our house is better lit than any of our neighbors, so I like to think that we would not be a choice target for crime. That and the fact that anybody can look at our backyard and see that we have little kids and nothing fancy. Surely all of the kidless neighbors and their pristine yards and perfect-condition new cars and yard care implements would look like a better target to a crook, right? (not that I wish ill on my neighbors, mind you! Just that I wish it to not be on me!)

My husband told me the other day that one of our windows is needing to be replaced because he discovered that it can be pushed in even when it appears to be locked. Nice. Great thing to know the day before he goes on shift and has no way to fix it yet! And, there is no small matter of a thief around town that has done a lot of break-ins recently. Fortunately for me, none of them have been near our house, and all of the break ins have been through unlocked doors and windows, apparently only to steal money, not hurting anyone. But, still..... ("Dear Mr. Robber Guy: We have 6 little kids and we live on one income and my husband is a fire fighter. So, in other words, we have nothing worth stealing here. We never have cash on hand, except for the coin jar marked 'Disney' which has about $60 in it toward our future trip to Disney World. Please go away and stop doing bad stuff. Thanks.")

My fears about this thief were not helped by the fact that the day I found out about this I went around to make sure all the windows were locked, and found that two were not, including one on the ground floor that does not even have a screen and is in my 7 year old's bedroom! Today's additional freak is due to the fact that Sullen left our downstairs door wide open for some reason. It may have been open for 20 minutes or more with nobody around to notice. So this gives me good ammunition for worrying that some crazed killer has been hiding in my house since noon, just waiting for the perfect time to come upstairs and hurt me. Yes, this is good stuff, my friends. Good stuff.

And so now that I have gotten out of bed 6 times to double check about the footstep noises I was hearing, and now have written about my fears and have thusly freaked myself out even more, I do not know how I am going to get to sleep! At least when we lived in the trailer I could see almost the whole entire house in a straight shot from my bed! Now in a much bigger house and with 3 doors and bunches of windows that may-or-may-not be secure, and with a much smaller doggie than the one I used to have, I am stuck here hoping for the best and feeling guarded against the worst. Quite the recipe for a peaceful night's sleep, eh? I should probably just go camp out on the couch and read some more of the 4th Outlander book, Drums of Autumn.

Or, you know, I could dazzle you with more information about my day and adventures in parenting!

First off, Squiggy Magoo went to bed without even *asking* for you-know-what.
And he has seemed happy all evening long. So, that seems mighty good!

But Sullen is in the doghouse again tonite. He recently came up with the idea that he wanted to take up some running, and so we had been allowing him to run to his friend's house most days during the end of summer vacation. It's probably a mile or so, and part of the road he runs is narrow, plus kind of deserted, so we weren't entirely comfortable with it, but decided it was time to let him do bigger stuff, and so we rigged up a safety plan that we were satisfied with. He would take the cell phone and was supposed to call us to let us know when he got there ok. Then he was supposed to run back home by a certain time.

So, this has been going fairly well except that lately he has been forgetful about both the calling to say he arrived, and about getting home when he should. Although I generally feel confident that he is actually safe, I do not appreciate being left to wonder about it, and I have been trying not to bail him out of his responsibility by calling him right away to say, "Are you there yet?" or "You're 5 minutes late, so where are you?" I had given him the benefit of the doubt, but as usual this approach is not best suited to him.

Tonite the 3 oldest kids wanted to go to a church thing at the AG church we used to go to. It is about a half mile from our house on a somewhat busy road. My husband is at work and has the burb with all the car seats. I am stuck with one junky and uninsured (we haven't been driving it) Bronco. Since I wasn't going to cram all the kids into the Bronco, I decided the way I could work it out for them to go to this was to
1. leave Sullen in charge of the little ones
2. drop the 9 and 7 year olds off at the church
3. come directly back and then let Sullen walk to the church, on the condition that he call me when he got there.
4. AND they were supposed to arrange for a ride home since I would have the little guys in bed (hopefully) by the time they were done. They were to call me and let me know who was driving them home.

I didn't send him with the cell phone this time because the event they were going to was a water fun night, and I figured he would either lose the phone or ruin it by getting it wet. So, all he had to do was call me from the church phone. But did he? Of course not! And so I got to sit and wait and wonder, "Is he there ok? Or did he get abducted by the side of the road?" (Do you see a pattern of fear here, people?!) Eventually I tried to call the church but of course nobody was inside answering the phone because they were all outside getting wet. Great.

Eventually my 9 year old daughter calls to tell me the ride plans (at least one of my children is responsible!!) and she was able to confirm that Sullen did make it up there. So, I was able to relax while I waited for him to come home so I could tell him what the consequences were for not calling. He doesn't get to run to his friend's house tomorrow like he had planned, and will have to wait until next week before he has a chance to do so.

Horrors! How could I BE so harsh?! Am I trying to ruin his life?

So he layed on the couch looking like I had stripped him of all dignity and pasttime for about 30 minutes before sulking off to bed. I love it when I come up with logical consequences that will actually be painful. It's the only thing that will stick with him.

Hey--I just had a thought. Maybe those footsteps I am hearing is my son coming up to kill me in the night, but he keeps losing his nerve. Up and down the steps he goes trying to work up his courage.... He probably keeps giving up because he realizes how much more work he will have to do if I am not here to cook and clean and do laundry and take care of everybody.

Sullen is also in trouble because today one of his pocket knives was the grasp of the 2 year old.

Yes, I was walking past the living room and saw Squiggy Magoo sitting on the couch with a couch cushion in front of him as if he was hiding behind it, and he has a suspicious grin on his face. I almost walked past, but then decided to investigate. He had Sullen's biggest knife open, grasped in his hands, pushed toward his naked belly! (the long way, not the pointy way, but still!) I don't know how it is that he was not cut! Unfortunately, this is not the first time that one of my little ones has ended up with a knife, depite my constant nagging to keep them well hidden or put far from where little ones can reach. (and I do NOT know why my husband keeps entrusting the children with knives because not one of them has proven themselves crafty enough to put them where their little brothers will not get them) I always confiscate any knife that has fallen into the wrong hands, so now this one is mine. But I am just so thankful Squiggy wasn't hurt! Sadly, I cannot say the same for my couch cushion, which is now sporting multiple stab wounds.....

Well, on that sweet and inspirational note, goodnight, my dears! Sleep well! (wish I could)