Friday, October 10, 2008

What Makes Me Feel Young

They say that smell is one of those things that can take you back. No one forgets the smell of a crayon or the smell of freshly cut grass on a warm summer day.

For me, songs work the same way. I can hear a song from long ago and suddenly I'm transported to the past. Luckily the only songs that seem to do this are ones associated with happy memories.

Here are some of my favorites:

The Who "Baba O'Riley" - this reminds me of hanging out at Mary Sue's house (yes, I had a friend named Mary Sue - how 50's). They had a cool pool and horses. What a great place to be when you're a young teen aged girl.

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons - Marge and I spent many hours singing into our brushes listening to these guys.

Orleans - "Still the One" combined with M*A*S*H - Does it get any better? This clip combines high school and college for me.

Now my poor kids will have to listen to oldies for the rest of the day. Luckily they don't seem to mind - they probably just think it's funny to watch me dance around and sing.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Shopping and Kids

Lately the princess hasn't been willing to let me leave her sight. I had been in the habit of leaving her with her brothers so that I could go to the grocery store by myself. This cut the shopping time in half, and cost less since I didn't have any little people asking for food and saying that they were starving to death (even though I'd just fed them).

But, since returning from vacation, the princess has been uber attached to me. Today she actually threw a fit insisting that she needed to come with me or she'd cry. I decided to dig in and told her that she absolutely was not going to come with me. In the end we agreed that if she stayed with her brothers (without crying) while I went to the warehouse store, she could come with me to the grocery store.

The teen reported that she'd been good, so the princess got to come with me. I also needed to run a few extra errands, so it was a long trip. Every time she got naggy I just reminded her that coming with me was a privilege reserved only for the best behaved children, and she settled down.

It still took a lot longer with her in tow than it would have taken without her, but I reminded myself that it wouldn't be much longer that she'd actually want to come with me and I let her pick out new yogurt. Isn't it nice when children are still young and sweet enough that picking out yogurt flavors is a treat? And besides, she put on her nicest dress and brushed her hair. How could I say no?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Knit and Glo

A year or so ago I got the bright idea that if I could find yarn that glows in the dark, I could knit things like moons and stars and they would glow in the dark and my kids would be thrilled. I even found yarn, but it was very expensive. So that plan was abandoned.

In the Sunday adds, Michael's advertised that they had Glow in the Dark yarn on sale, so I went to check it out. The skeins are pretty small (less than 200 yards), but the idea that I could knit something that glowed had me willing to make do.

Currently I'm almost finished making the princess a pink glow in the dark scarf. This should come in handy if it EVER gets cold here, and she is outside in the pitch dark (after spending at least five minutes in direct light). What will really happen is that she'll spend time running back and forth between the lighted bedroom and the dark bathroom so that she can watch her scarf glow.

My suggestion for the smiling child was to make a stuffed animal that glows. He thinks that sounds cool, and is currently deciding what type of small stuffed thing he'd like. I'm hoping he picks a bunny, because that is a very easy pattern. With my luck he'll want some complicated thing for which there is no pattern.

The middle child will probably want a knitted something related to fencing. But there is no fencing/knitting projects. I'm thinking of combining the glo yarn with some regular yarn and making him an illusion something. I'm thinking that an illusion scarf with a skull would be way cool. Of course, my other color would probably be black, not pink.

The teen isn't into knitted things. He has his big afghan on his bed. He doesn't have a hat, but it is so rarely cold here..... I'll have to do some thinking.

I got started on the new scarf for my MIL. It's a beigey color and very soft. Hope she likes it. Last Christmas when she opened the slew of knitted dishcloths I'd made her (she always swipes the dishcloths I knit while driving to her house for visits) she got all excited and thought it was a shawl. Expecting/hoping for a shawl and then seeing a bunch of dishcloths is apparently quite a letdown. So this year, she'll get a shawl.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Why We Didn't Go

Juniper Pollen

Ragweed Pollen

These lovely pollens are making me miserable. I just couldn't bear the thought of being in the beautiful outdoors and feeling like I might succumb at any moment. For some reason (probably the extreme lack of rain) my allergies are much worse this year. There doesn't seem to be a concoction that helps much. So, we took the trailer back to it's home away from home, and resigned ourselves to trying another weekend.

The teen had his braces adjusted on Thursday and isn't feeling too great, so he was more than happy to stay home this weekend. The smiling child and the middle child were still itching to go, so the man I married took them to an outdoorsy festival. They'll be shooting, fishing and paddling all day. They'll arrive home this evening tired, dirty and sunburned; but it is the best we can do. If they'd gone camping, they'd have also added mosquito bitten, but this will have to do.

The smiling child didn't want me to tell the princess where he was going; he was afraid that she'd want to come and that would ruin the "guy" day. Since she's been in a "I need to be with mommy" mood lately, I knew that I could tell her the truth and she'd still want to stay with me. I was right. She's excited to have a girl day (she knows that the teen will just want to hang around the house anyway) and is already planning what color we'll paint our nails. I might even pull out the hidden stash of "fairy dust" and fill her with glitter!

Wish me luck - I still haven't gotten the glitter out of her hair from our visit to the mouse, and we've been home for three weeks.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Camping Plans

We bought a trailer at the worst possible time (probably why we got such a great deal). It was summer, it was hot, it was a miserable time to be outside. So we parked the trailer and waited.

Now it's finally time to go camping again. The weather is lovely. The man I married and I decided that we should go camping this weekend. The reservations have been made. But (insert whiny voice here) we don't want to go camping - we feel yucky - it's too much trouble - what will we eat?

But we're tough, the man I married and I: yes we are. We're going camping this weekend. I'll pack lots of allergy medicine. We'll have fun. We won't whine.

I'm sure that the reason it seems like so much trouble is that we've only gone camping once. And that time was VERY hot, and the campground was really not much more than a parking lot. We pretty much spent the entire time inside the trailer playing games. The only outside fun was watching the park rangers catch a stray dog.

To make life easier on this, our first trip, I've decided that I won't even try to pack food. We'll set up camp and go to the nearby WalMart and shop. The kids love to have bacon for breakfast and we can get by for two days on hot dogs and sandwiches.

We're taking the dog too. Last time he got a bit (a bit?!!) nervous and wanted to sit in my lap the whole time. I'll give him a bath tomorrow so he'll at least be clean when he sits on my lap. We can give the bird some extra food, so he should be fine.

Hope we still remember how to do everything. If you see us looking confused, please feel free to help us out.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Wanna Be A Princess

When I was little I always wanted to be a princess. When we were at the land of the mouse, I took a picture of Cinderella's coach. We hadn't paid the over $50 extra per person to go to the fancy party, but I got a picture of the coach and the man I married has the ability to Photoshop me into the coach.

It's okay, my castle would probably be drafty anyway. Although, since it's still hot here, I wouldn't mind a little draft. We are all having a dreadful time with our allergies, and I can't wait til the first really cold night so that all of those pesky pollen things will get out of the air. It doesn't help that we've also had almost no rain for months.

The smiling child has been so sweet lately. He's decided to take the princess into his loving care and is teaching her baseball. Since baseball is his first love, it was a natural that he would want to teach someone else. The middle child is totally unwilling to let his younger brother teach him anything, and the teen is much to mature to play baseball out in the yard; so that leaves the princess.

I have a princess - I must be the queen. Yes, the queen of all the land. Right now my royal minions are setting the table for dinner. The queen has proclaimed that we will have lasagna for dinner. All hail the queen.

Just hope that the minions do the dishes.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Ed and the Socks

After all of the commotion during the beginning of September (vacation and hurricane) I didn't think I'd ever get around to starting my Sockamania socks. But, since I'd sort of promised myself that I'd make a valiant effort to knit all of the socks for the year, I went ahead and started them.

Turns out these were pretty easy socks to knit. Easy in that I didn't have to keep looking at the pattern, not easy in the knitting. I had to keep counting to make sure I put the cables in the right place. But they're worth it. All orange and yellow - sort of Longhorns meet cheddar cheese.

I always have to take pictures of my socks to post to the knitting blog, and since the sun was getting lower in the sky, I went outside to try to get a nice picture. Everytime I put my feet out for a picture, Ed had to get in the frame. I had pictures of my socks and Ed's nose; my socks and Ed's tail; my socks and Ed's hiney. This was the best picture of my socks and Ed. Isn't he a cutie?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Just Call Me Lois

When the show Malcolm in the Middle came on the air it felt like they had a hidden camera in our house. Every week we would sit, nodding our heads and laughing. Not that our house was quite as bad as Malcolm's house, but there were enough similarities that when Lois got pregnant at the same time as I did we became really suspicious.

Anyway, in the first episode Lois is doing laundry and decides to put her shirt in the wash. She picks up the basket full of clothes to fold and answers the door; forgetting that she doesn't have on a shirt.
So...I was putting clothes in the wash and realized I needed to wash the pants I had on. I took off my pants, put them in the wash and like a good mother, went into my bedroom to put on new clothes. You would have thought I was nekkid!

There was yelling, eye hiding and lots of groaning. Jeepers - I only took off my pants. I didn't answer the door or anything!

Reminder to self: If you want to clear a room, just take off your pants.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ode To Joy

Music is alive and well in our home. The princess has learned how to play Ode to Joy and since her brothers know a lovely version as well, it's a song we are hearing a lot these days.

Is there anything that makes the $$$ spent on music lessons more worthwhile than hearing all the children playing a song together? Next we'll be cutting up the curtains to make clothes and climbing mountains while singing. Who will play me in the movie version?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Did Freud Like Bagels?

For the past two nights my dreams have been full of bagels. Eating bagels, buying bagels, smelling bagels. I told the man I married about my bagel dreams and he asked why I hadn't just gone to the bagel store. I'm not sure of the answer. I woke up this morning really wanting a bagel - even decided that I'd take my refillable coffee mug so I could save money on the coffee I would drink while eating my bagel. I wondered if the bagel store was making their fall bagels yet - they have a cranberry walnut bagel that is heavenly.

But I didn't go to the bagel store this morning. I'm still thinking of bagels, so I've told the kids that there will be a bagel trip in the morning. The smiling child suggested that we buy three dozen bagels. This is not as crazy as it sounds. We generally buy two dozen bagels: That's five bagels on the drive home, five more for a mid morning snack, five for lunch. The end of the first day sees us with with less than a dozen bagels remaining. The boys especially love the chocolate chip bagels - they're like cookies for breakfast. I love the cranberry bagels with turkey and spinach for lunch.

If the bagel store was open in the evening, I'd be on my way. I'm going to set my alarm clock. See you at dawn in the bagel store. I'll be the one with the coffee, bagel and several quiet kids.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Another Day, Another Load of Laundry

Oh, how I wish there was a laundry fairy! Or, a washing machine like they had in Lost in Space. They just put the dirty laundry in, and a few minutes later, took out clean, folded and covered in plastic wrap laundry. Being ecologically sensitive, my fantasy washer would eliminate the plastic wrap part; but clean and folded would be wonderful.

The man I married and the middle child are still at the fencing tournament. They seem to be enjoying it, although the middle child was too young to fence and was a bit disappointed (you had to be 13 to fence with the adults). The man I married thought it was for the best, though, because he didn't think adults would be comfortable fencing against a child who might just beat them!

All of this has left the smiling child feeling a bit left out. The teen loves to have time away from the middle child, so he's happy. The princess is a princess no matter the situation (she's currently outside with three dolly strollers, three dolls and the swing set). I have to do laundry, so it doesn't matter who's where as long as there's some ice tea and the possibility of knitting.

This leaves the smiling child.

He's playing video games, but they aren't quite as fun without his brother. He played tennis with the princess for a while; but she wanted to include the dolls and he had to draw the line. We're going to grill burgers for lunch, so at least there's a bright spot in the day for him. We may also go get the car inspected - and that always means that we'll sit at the DQ and have an ice cream cone. That should return him to smiling status.

Is it wrong to wish for rain? It's been so dry here, the grass is brown, everything is covered in dust. A nice rainy day would be lovely. While I'm at it, I also wish for cooler weather WITHOUT increased allergies! We only have a few weeks a year when the weather is perfect, and those are always the weeks when the allergy counts are highest.

When I was young I used to spend most of the summer outside; barefoot, running in the grass, sitting under trees with a book. Summer here is too hot to do any of those things. If you are outside barefoot you'll burn your feet. The grass is brown because we're on water rationing. We don't have any big, shady trees to sit under. So I wait patiently for those few weeks a year when the weather seems to want us outside. I live for those weeks. And when they arrive, so do the itchy eyes and runny nose.

I'm going to save up my pennies and move to Tahiti.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Where Has The Week Gone?

We got back from vacation a week ago. Already it feels like we never left. I always promise myself that the "vacation" mindset will last for months, but it usually fades by the time the vacation laundry is done. Since there was the possibility that we would have Hurricane Ike guests, I did the laundry quickly and the vacation feeling was gone within a day or so.

But, luckily the hurricane didn't destroy our potential guests home, so we didn't have house guests. Now all we're left with are pictures and lots of lollipops (one of the few things that I could buy with our snack tickets and bring home).

Thus far this week, we've adopted a bird and I've been knitting like crazy. I had two KAL's to knit, 5 name cloths for Marilyn, a pair of socks to finish, and a pair of socks that need to be finished. Here's pictures of everything except the socks that aren't ready yet.

As usual, the name cloths will become swiffer sweepers. The princess likes the floor to be shiny and I don't like to dissuade her from cleaning, so she can have as many swiffer covers as she needs.

The man I married and the middle child have been gone most of the week because our local fencing club is hosting a tournament. The middle child fences (and very well, I might add) and the man I married likes to take pictures of fencing - so they make a great pair. So the teen, the smiling child, the princess and I are on our own this weekend.

I took the smiling child and the princess out to Taco Bell for lunch because the smiling child loves Taco Bell burritos more than anything else in the world and he hadn't had one for several weeks. Such a small thing to do for such a huge smile! Then we went to see if our local bookstore had a game magazine that the teen wanted (no luck), and ended up buying the smiling child another book about baseball (he loves baseball almost as much as Taco Bell).

We finally decided that we would make burgers on the grill, so we dropped by the store to get the fixin's. Now the boys are playing video games; the princess is watching tv, the bird is singing and the dog is following me around and would be sleeping at my feet if I were to be kind enough to stay in one place for more than a few minutes.

For the dog's sake, I'm going to sit in the living room with a nice glass of ice tea and knit on my socks. I'm a giver.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mei Mei Escapes

Here's the bird story:

When you start to train your little bird friend, you stick your hand in the cage to get them used to sitting on your finger. Apparently the idea is that the bird bonds to you, thinks you're a fellow bird, and when out of the cage, will happily fly back to your finger. Now, I'm not sure how/why this would work - birds don't hang out sitting on each others fingers, but then I'm no bird expert.
Anyway, I was standing there with my hand in the birds cage, and he just flew out! There was lots of running around and screaming - I like to think it was more like controlled chaos; the smiling child took the dog to another room, the middle child turned off the ceiling fan and the poor little bird flew into the wall a few times before finally landing in a corner behind a chair.

Cool headed as always, the brave mom went over, climbed over the chair (no small feat) and picked up a scared bird. Now that I think of it, prior to the wall banging the bird didn't hang upside down in his cage (or get his head stuck in the little ladder that leads to his mirror).

On a more positive note - we found a web site with recorded parakeet/budgie (Hi C!) sounds and we play them for Mei Mei. He listens to the sounds and tweets and chirbles along with the recordings. So sweet.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Bird, A Dog, My Life

Confession: My kids like to watch Super Nanny. They call it the naughty kids show. Anyway, there's one scene when the father is totally out of control; the child says that he wants a toy back and the dad replies "I want my life back." Our entire family thinks that this might be one of the funniest lines on television.

So, whenever things get wacky at my house, everyone shouts, "I want my life back." This never fails to bring great guffaws of laughter. Unfortunately, it's true! Aren't there moments in everyone's life when they just wish that they could go back to a simpler, less complicated time? The question then becomes: Just how far do you need to go back in time to get to a simpler life; and would you really want to go back?

With the chaos that is my life (the reavers did it), one might think that I'd want to go back to a child free life. I'm not so sure that's true. While it would be nice to have a child free day or two; I can't imagine my life without my children. What about a life without anyone to worry/care about?

I had my adult, living alone time. It was nice, it was quiet, I wasn't lonely. But I outgrew that and wanted more. I do miss those wonderful days of only having one sweet little baby. The ability to expend all of my energy on my precious child. Unfortunately, you don't realize how fleeting those days are until they're over. I've always been a bid sad that none of my other children got that one on one time; that sense of newness, that my first child had. I know intellectually that each child has a special place in my life, and that each one benefited by being born into a large and loving family. But still, I wonder if they missed out by not being a first child.

We've recently acquired a baby parakeet. A friend of the man I married found himself with a slew of parakeet eggs and was more than happy to share the joy. So now we have a bird. The princess insisted on getting a green bird - the middle child and I wanted a blue/purple one, but the princess won. The princess also wanted a girl bird, but alas, I think that our bird is male (don't tell her).

A bit of quarreling left us with "mei mei" as the name. It is an homage to Firefly, and is a Chinese word with a loose meaning of dear little sister.

Now, I love parakeets. They're cute, easy to take care of, live quite a while and make sweet little sounds. Mei Mei fits right in to my dream. Unfortunately, we didn't consult with Ed.

Ed (who can, incidentally, jump quite high for a dog his size) was instantly interested in the bird. We set the bird cage on the table so that everyone could watch as it just sat there (birds take a bit of time to settle in). Ed wanted to see the bird. When he looked at the bird, he wanted to touch the bird. It should not be a surprise to say that when Ed touched the birds cage, the bird squawked. When the bird squawked, Ed got excited and jumped up on the table.

The bird cage is now sitting on the kitchen counter bar. It's at least four feet off the floor. Ed can jump at least four feet. There's nothing quite as funny as standing by the bird cage, talking to the bird and seeing: Ed, Ed, Ed, Ed as he's jumping up in the air.

For now the bird is safe. He sits in his food dish, and hangs upside down a lot; but he's safe. Tomorrow I'll tell you about his first foray into the house.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Life Lessons From Disney World

We just got back from two weeks at Disney World. Here are the things I learned from the experience.

1. It IS the humidity.
2. Lines don't get shorter just because you whine.
3. Daddy's sweat marks look like Mickey Mouse.
4. When someone says to keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle, they really mean it.
5. When a mommy and daughter walk around aimlessly, they still look mah-velous.
6. It is actually possible to provide my family with too much food.
7. Even rich people look frumpy when they're sweaty.
8. Crocs with socks are better when it's hot.
9. You can fit two weeks worth of dirty laundry into four suitcases.
10. I have wonderful kids.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Stop the World, I Want to Get Off

Hormones are a terrible thing when you're getting older. They run your life. They make you cry, they make you scream. Sometimes it feels like the world is spinning so fast that you have to hold on tight or you'll go flying off into space.

I totally know why women take homone replacement. If one little pill a day can relieve these symptoms, then the side affects seem like a small price to pay. Maybe one day I'll break down and just get a prescription, but until then, I'll continue to scream and cry and hold on tight.

It doesn't help at all that I'm living with a pre-pubescent child who is apparently feeling the same things!

For now, I'm planning to keep trying to eat right (although I truly believe that chocolate should be counted as a drug and that my prescription insurance plan should pay for it), get some exercise, get some sleep and try to find humor in each day.

My humor for today: I was complaining to a friend that I was too old for something, and the princess came in and said that 29 wasn't old, and that I wouldn't be old until I looked like grandma.

I'm going to go buy the princess a present.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

He Loves Me, He Really Loves Me

Well, after my tears on Monday, the man I married marched down to the dog boarding place to make them apologize for upsetting me. After lots of "sorry's" it turns out that what they so indelicately called "coping issues" turned out to be that Ed just really, really loves me.

Apparently Ed loves me so much that he just can't seem to cope without me. He doesn't mind me leaving him at home - he's got the house to guard and all; he minds me leaving him somewhere else. He's just worried that I won't be safe and happy if he's not there with me.

After being reassured that the dog place will indeed take good care of our baby, the man I married and I decided that it would be better for everyone concerned if he took Ed to doggie camp and not mom. It's a good thing too, I would have just been crying the whole time anyway.

We never leave our babies, and he's my baby. The man I married knows that Ed's my baby, the kids all know that Ed's the baby of the family. The princess even calls Ed her little brother and says that we need to get Ed a little brother.

So, we'll be leaving our baby in capable hands. The man I married will call the doggie camp from time to time to see how our baby is coping. We'll have fun; we won't worry; everything will be okay (repeat over and over until convinced).

Now I just have to figure out a way to pack without the dog seeing me. We've been told that if he sees us packing it will stress him out. My decision: Stress out the dog or stress out the man I married. You see, the man I married would prefer that I have all of the packing done now - a week ahead of time. But since I have to pack under the cover of darkness, I won't be finished until much closer to departure.

Now I'm stressed. Where's that margarita machine?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Homeschooling, Dogs and the "S" Word

The biggest question people always ask about homeschooling is about socialization. How do you socialize your kids? Do your kids get enough socialization? I've never had a problem with my kids and socialization. My dog is another story.

Poor Ed has to go to doggie camp while we're on vacation. We tried and tried, but it really won't work to take him along with us; so he's got to go.

We found a place that looks like it should be fun for dogs. Apparently it's not fun for Ed. The dogs are divided into groups and spend the day playing in fenced in yards. They go on a hike in the morning; the take an afternoon nap. Sounds like lots of doggie fun. Not to Ed.

Ed doesn't like to spend the day with other dogs playing in a yard. Ed doesn't believe that he's a dog, and doesn't like the commotion. Now, we have four kids around all day long, so it's not the noise. I really believe that it's because Ed doesn't know he's a dog. He thinks he's a real boy (like Pinocchio).

So, here we are, a week before we leave, trying to help Ed develop the "coping skills" that he apparently lacks. I'm used to people having negative comments about my parenting skills - we do things outside of the norm. I'm confident that we are doing what's best for our children, and they are wonderful kids who have proven us right. Unfortunately, I'm not so secure about my doggie parenting skills. When the doggie place told me that Ed didn't have "coping skills" I was reduced to tears. Multiple questions about how to help him develop coping skills was always met with "We've got trainers who can work with you." I don't want to spend hundreds of dollars to change my wonderful dog. I just want him to not be so sad at the doggie camp.

The man I married and I have lost hours of sleep worrying about poor Ed. Will we be able to enjoy our vacation knowing that Ed is sad? Will Ed suffer permanent damage from this? Will our poor baby be mad at us forever for leaving him?

This morning I decided to Google "dog coping skills" to see if there was any helpful advice. Amazingly, it was all about "We've got trainers who can work with you." Finally I found a little article containing some helpful information. So today we begin the week long attempt at helping Ed to develop his coping skills. First on the list is a visit to Pet's Mart. The we'll drop by a restaurant that lets dogs on the patio.

Wish me luck. My poor heart just can't take the stress!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Good, The Bad and The Itchy

First, the good: I finished my August mid month dishcloth for The Monthly Dishcloth KAL. It's pretty, and since I have tons of variegated yarn that I need to use up, it's wonderful.

The bad: Fireants. Why do we have fireants? Normally I'm totally willing to accept that some, otherwise yucky, animals have a place in the ecosystem. But fireants - they serve no purpose that I can even imagine if I try. The poor children of the south can't really ever just run outside in their bare feet to play. They must always be mindful of fireants. Even little bitties understand about fireants.

You really can't get rid of fireants; you can just encourage them to go somewhere else for a while. They're always around, and they always return.

Now to the Itchy: I got hot last night, so I took off my shirt in the middle of the night. I set it on the floor next to the bed. So far, not a problem. Ed woke me up to go outside around 7 am. Still, no problem. I reached down, picked up my shirt and put it on. Problem.

I walked into the kitchen and felt stinging all over. I turned on the light to see what was going on. Fire ants were crawling all over me!! I swatted off what I could and then went in to wake up the man I married so that he could get the little demons off my back.

For some reason, the fire ants had decided to colonize my shirt during the night. Now I know that Ed loves my dirty clothes; but I had always assumed that was because he loves me and likes to be near my smell. Yucky, yes, but it makes sense - he's a dog. But why the fireants? There was no food, no water - just a shirt.

Needless to say, the fireants are now gone. There weren't any that we could find outside of one or two who'd been shaken from the shirt when I picked it up. The shirt is in the laundry (even though I don't normally do laundry on Saturday - this was a special load). I'm a bit gun shy about putting any clothes on, but because the teen would probably die if he saw me without clothes, I'll conquer my fear.

All of this is actually due to hot flashes. Another reason to be a grumpy old lady.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Reading and "Mental Pause"

This is our second year of using Sonlight for school. The kids all like the books - yeah! Unfortunately, I now have four kids reading a minimum of 2 books each a week. My original plan was to read along with the kids.

That plan flew out the window almost immediately. The teen was reading Scarlet Letter. I kept up for the first two days - then fell behind. I tried to convince him to give me a few days for catch up, and he agreed - but even with that help I couldn't keep up. So, Scarlet Letter was abandoned.

I can usually keep up with reading for the smiling child, but am currently two days behind. My plan is to catch up today. What do they say about the best laid plans?

The books for the middle child and the teen are all hard enough that I really need to have my own copy. The teen and I tried to share a book once and it always worked out that he was actually reading the book at the very moment that I had time to read. So I decided that whenever there is a book with chapters that take me more than ten minutes or so to read, I would just get my own copy.

This is a great plan - we have Half Price bookstores all around us. Since the books are almost always classics, they are generally easy to find. I say "generally" because some of the books have proven impossible to find used. For those books, I order them new and acknowledge that I won't even try to read them.

So there I was, trying to read along with my kids (I don't read the novels aloud because there is always someone who feels the need to either talk or sing or play guitar whenever I start reading), and I was somehow unable to finish my reading.

I finally discovered that my biggest problem is that there is NEVER a quiet moment in my house! I really mean never. Either someone is talking, asking questions, practicing music, or in the case of the princess, just jabbering and singing. I find myself re-reading the same sentence over and over and still not remembering what I read.

You'd think that I'd just start reading at night, but nooooo! It's not quiet then either.

So here I sit, trying to make it through the reading with the smiling child. Luckily (?) I don't have copies of the books the middle child is reading. I've admitted to the teen that, although I really wanted to read My Antonia with him, I just won't be able to do it. Thank goodness that the princess's books are simple. That I can handle. Let me tell you about "Pat the Rat."

Good News:

1. I got an "award" for finishing my socks on Ravelry.

2. The middle child was playing something that sounded so much like Stairway to Heaven, that I have him listening to the opening so he can have something new to play!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Olympics and Knitting

Ravelry had a knit along called Ravelympics and I joined. The idea was that you would sign up as part of a group and knit something during the Olympics. I decided to knit socks (the Sock Put). As a member of Team Browncoat I decided to knit my own pattern called "Leaf on the Wind" in honor of Wash.

Well, they're finished! It sure is a lot more fun to knit someone else's pattern, but I may have to try my own design again.
The sad part is that now I've finished my Sockamania socks and my Ravelympics socks for this month, and I'll need to find something else to knit.
Hmmm.......that blue and green yarn is calling my name - maybe the Whale socks? Or I could wind and use the pretty yarn the man I married got for me - but what pattern - maybe the Magic Mirror Socks? No, they don't remind me of leaves and the fall. Whoa - here's a pattern called Falling Leaves! That's just the thing I was looking for. Just gotta remember to make sure the leaves will be falling down when I knit (cause I knit toe-up) - so we don't have a replay of the upside down waterfall debacle.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Music and TV in Our Lives

Today we had the first little bit of rain in a long time. The Beatles's song Here Comes the Sun keeps going through my mind. Not sure why, cause that song is not about rain - but there's no rhyme or reason to earworms. Anyway, we had to drive to our music/art lessons today and it picked that exact 15 minutes to pour. I'm not going to complain, though, because we REALLY need rain. And to make it even better, the rain meant that it wasn't hot today.

This was the princesses last piano lesson with her teacher. Ms. Katie is moving to Ireland next week. I'm not sure that the princess understands that Ms. Katie won't be back for her next lesson, so we'll have to see how that goes. Fortunately, the princess will be taking piano class with the "big girls" next session, so I'm hoping that the novelty of being considered a big girl will outweigh the fact that there will be a new teacher.

The boy's guitar teacher agreed to let them take group lessons for the next session, so that is wonderful news to my bank account. He really wanted the teen and the middle child to take private lessons; but since it only takes three to make a group, my three boys will be a "group" and lessons will be a lot less costly. The only person is really affects is the smiling child, and he's keeping up with his older brothers (more or less).

We're recently re-discovered our packed away stash of video tapes. One old favorite enjoying a renaissance is Amazing Animals. The teen loved these when he was little, so we have most of the series. Now, ten years later, they're still good shows. I think that watching them can count as science for the day. Don't you hate it when you find a good show for children and then it's gone?

Speaking of great shows for kids - let's hear it for Magic Schoolbus! When I first started homeschooling I would watch that show and feel like a terrible teacher because I didn't take the kids on wonderful field trips like Miss Frizzle. The man I married lovingly pointed out to me that all of the episodes he'd seen were actually impossible field trips anyway. Not sure it helped, but he was sweet to point out an obvious flaw in my logic without making me feel like a goofball.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Feeding Kids

It's hot again! Not as hot as last week; but then, anything is better than 104°. We've been pretty much stuck in the house during the day, and have been eating at home the whole time.

While it's healthier and cheaper to eat at home, sometimes I really just want a big salad. The teen has us all watching Seinfeld episodes in the afternoon, so the term "big salad" is in our collective consciousness. So now, when I say I want a salad the whole crew replies: "You mean a BIG salad?" And then everyone giggles.

It's lunch time. I don't want another sandwich. I don't want saltines (the princess currently wants saltines). I don't want mac and cheese. I don't want leftovers. There's nothing cool for lunch in the freezer. I want a big salad.

How disgusting do I have to make going out to lunch sound before I can go get a big salad and not have to share? Will I need to put tofu on it? Will it need to include sea urchin? The smiling child won't want any as long as there's anything green in it, so he's not a problem (at least as far as having to share a salad!). The middle child would eat the tofu just to share food - he loves to share everyone's food. The princess will eat anything. The teen will eat most anything; and he doesn't make sick faces when he's picking out things he doesn't like (unlike the smiling child).

So, there you have it. Most of my kids would be willing to get a big salad for lunch. Now to find a place.....

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Socks, Yarn and Wonderful Husbands

I finished my Sockamania socks today. The pattern is "Little Flowers" and they are so cute. I used Panda Cotton for the first time, and it's cozy (although a bit of a pain to knit with). Cotton yarn means that I can wear them even during these 100° days.

The man I married and I decided to hit a local Home and Garden show today. We've been talking about re-doing the awning on the back porch, and also doing some landscaping, so this seemed like a great place to hang out. While there wasn't really any information on what we wanted to do, there were lot's of gimme's. We got coozies, highlighters, caps and even two thermal coffee mugs! Score!

After we finished the show we were hungry, so we went to one of those restaurants that we always think of eating at after we've already finished eating somewhere else. Lot's of veggies - this place gives you free refills on the veggies!

Then, the man I married wanted to go look through a local "green" store, so off we went. Since this store is right across the street from a yarn store, we decided to check that out too.

Well, and here's the wonderful part; the man I married actually picked out some new sock yarn for me! I usually buy pink/purple/red yarn, and he found this beautiful orange/brown yarn that he said I should get. This yarn reminds me so much of fall. Totally out of my comfort zone, colorwise, but they'll be so beautiful (and I think I saw a smidge of purple in there too!).

I know what yarn I'm using next (after I finish my Homage to Wash socks). Knitting with fall color socks can only help cope with this heat. Yeah - for the man I married! He knows me well.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Legos in the Computer Age

The smiling child and the princess were playing Lego's. Normally the smiling child goes off to a protected corner and builds elaborate Lego creations and then lets us see; but this morning he was feeling benevolent and allowed the princess to play along.

Not wanting to disrupt the magic, I quietly eavesdropped while pretending to ignore them. The conversation went something like this:

Princess: Can I just email my order to you or do I need to do it online?
Smiling Child: Our internet connection is down, you'll have to wait.
P: Do you have any girl clothes in your inventory?
SC: I'll have to check my database. Wait, the internet is up again; you can order online.
P: Will you deliver it tomorrow? Do I have to pay extra for that?

This went on and on. Finally the decision was made that the Smiling Child didn't have any girl clothes and wasn't interested in delivering girl clothes anyway, so they just had a war with Lego horses.

Then the middle child went in to practice guitar; the Princess had to accompany him with her chimes and the Smiling Child went in to read.

There's never quiet, but at least the Lego war is over.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Rain, Rain, Don't Go Away

Hurricane Edouard hit Texas yesterday. Now, we never want anyone to have damage; but we were hoping that we would get a bit of rain from it.

What we actually got were a few drops of rain and a day of only 95° (a brief respite from our days and days of over 100° weather).

It has been so bad that the princess brought out her Christmas CD and we listened to it in the car. Unfortunately, we also had the air conditioning going and were sucking on ice cubes, but it was fun.

I continue to knit socks in the hope that one day it will dip below 90° and I'll be able to wear them. Until then, I can wear them with crocs and shorts. Amazingly, wool socks aren't any hotter than cotton socks. Although, when it's this hot, no socks at all (no shoes, no shirt, no problem).

A snow cone machine looks great about now.

Friday, August 1, 2008

And Now We Weave

My local basket weaving store was offering a class. This was the basket we were supposed to weave.

This is the basket I made. Not too bad.

When we lived in Florida a lot of the people were weavers, so I joined in. My complete experience in weaving involved two small baskets and a lot of left over reed. So, after the class I asked how to tell if the reed was still usable. When I came home, I checked the reed stash and found that it was all still good!

And now we weave!

The pottery was a lot of fun, but really needs to be done outside (we don't have a big enough house to have a room dedicated to pottery). The basket weaving can be done inside (yeah!) and as a plus, involves water. Great for those of us who never really outgrew water play.

I can even sit outside with my feet in a kiddie pool, reed soaking along with my hot tootsies, and watch my kids play. I'll just need to convince the dog that the reed isn't for him to chew on.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

M*A*S*H and Music

The middle child has been trying to appease me by learning to play the M*A*S*H theme on the guitar. It is truly a wonderful thing to be able to hear the music from my very favorite TV show. Currently he's in my bedroom watching the DVD (over and over) to copy the theme song. Since he's able to play by ear, it shouldn't be long before he gets it beautifully.

Next, I'm sure he'll be trying to get his brothers to play harmony. This is so much nicer than the days of nothing but Ironman and Smoke on the Water - almost makes the guitar lessons worth it. And, as an added bonus - I might just have another M*A*S*H fan in the house!!!

In other news: I almost had a mommy cry today. I thought that the princess had finished her kindergarten math book. Noooooo! I'm not ready for that! Luckily, I discovered that she has two chapters left. How long can I make those chapters last?

The smiling child is happily doing his schoolwork with a pony tail in his hair. His golden curls have gotten so long that we pull his hair back when he needs to get serious. The princess says that it makes him look like a real guitar player. I never thought of myself as a mother of rockers, but it looks like it's up to me to parent the future rockers of America.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Ed Eats Bread

The man I married came in very early this morning and told me not to eat the bread. I was still asleep and agreed that I wouldn't if that was what he wanted.

After a few minutes, I wondered why he cared about the bread. I still had half a loaf, didn't I? If I was running low on bread, I would have time before he got home from work to run to the store and buy more bread. Why couldn't I eat the bread?

All this wondering woke me up, so I straggled into the kitchen to give him what for about being so darned possessive of the bread.

Well, it turns out that he was just concerned that my "yuck" factor would come into play when I found out that our dear dog had decided to have himself a little midnight snack.
Now, you remember that Ed was supposed to be a Maltipoo - a little 10 pound thing. Let me tell you, Ed ain't no Maltipoo! He's cute and white like a Maltipoo, but he's twice the size of a Maltipoo. He's a Maltipoo on steroids.

It seems that Ed has finally grown enough to reach far enough onto the counter so that he can get food - namely my quite expensive, specialty shop, delicious and still more than 3/4 left of a loaf butterscotch walnut bread!

I'd been making the kids take teeny slices so that it would last longer; but it looks like Ed couldn't reach the knives, so he just dug right in. If the man I married hadn't told me, I would have thought that the kids had gone bread crazy. The bag wasn't even ripped, just torn open a little. Considerate Ed doesn't like to leave a mess. Maybe he thought I wouldn't notice?

Anyway, now we don't have any fancy cakey bread to snack on, and Ed isn't hungry for dog food. When the doggie boarding place asked if we were having any problems with our dog, I didn't mention the bread thing. As long as they don't have any expensive butterscotch walnut bread out, we should be fine.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Summer, Baseball and Little Boys

Part of my waxing nostalgic somehow comes back to what I think should be the "real" meaning of summer. I grew up in Southern California where summer days rarely got much into the 90's and kids ran around in bare feet, enjoying popsicles, climbing trees and riding bicycles.

The reality of Texas summers is that it's been at or over 100° nearly every day for the last three months. If you run around barefoot outside you're likely to get serious burns on your feet. If you ride your bike outside the perimeter of our immediate neighborhood you're taking your life in your hands. Popsicles have too much sugar and artificial ingredients for kids these days. The lone tree in our yard wouldn't support the weight of more than the princess.

So, we're left with the last real joy of childhood and summer - baseball.
We're lucky enough to have a minor league team in our city. And it's a minor league team in the best sense - they have fun giveaways, crazy theme nights, snow cones and foot long corn dogs.

The smiling child and the man I married have been going to the games for a few months. They go early so that the smiling child can collect autographs (on baseballs) of all of the players. One of the great things about a minor league team is that they really appreciate the fans. The smiling child knows the names and stats of his favorite players. He watches and cheers for them when they finally get their chance to move up to the big leagues; and he welcomes them back when they return to the minors.

The giveaways this year have been hats, shirts; the usual stuff. Finally there was a giveaway that we (the entire family) couldn't resist - Mr. Potato Head dressed like a baseball player!

We love Mr. Potato Head!! We've got your usual - the mustache, earrings, red nose. We've also got the Disney versions - Tinkerbell, Mickey Mouse ear hats, Mickey Mouse ice cream cones, glass slippers. We've got Darth Tater; we're saving our pennies for Indiana Jones Tater. But to get a free minor league tater! Now, that was something worth getting our shoes on for.

So, we bought "berm" seating (sitting on the grass out past the outfield - as Ellen DeGeneres would say - the "riff raff" area). Normal tickets are $12, berm tickets are $6; so the smiling child and the man I married got their usual seats, the rest of us got berm seats (cause Tater Heads are certainly worth $6, but not really worth $12).

We waited, and the day finally arrived. The princess woke up with "today's baseball day" on her mind. We went in two cars because we knew the smiling child would want to stay for the game, but were pretty sure that the rest of the crew would not.
Parking is $5. The man I married paid his fee and drove in. I asked the money taking guy if there was a discount for "wives who are here involuntarily" and he told me that he'd been there, and let me in for free!!! The man I married was amazed and said that it made the tater heads even cheaper. Gotta love that man.

Now, let me say, we were at the ballpark more than 2 hours before the game started. Didn't want to miss out on the tater heads! Luckily they open the gates about two hours before the game, so we only stood outside the gate for about 15 minutes. The smiling child was thrilled! It was the first time he'd been first in line. Also, it was our ticket taker's first day on the job, so the smiling child got to have his ticket scanned early so that the man could learn what to do.

We finally got in, got our tater heads and headed off to the seats. All the princess knew was that she was to learn all the ropes from her older brother. She happily followed along after him as he pointed out all of the rules and interesting sights. All we heard were snippets:

- Don't stand there, you'll get hit by foul balls
- That's where we get popcorn
- Those aren't good seats
- That's where I got my mug

Being a boy, he didn't point out what I wanted to know - where's the bathroom?

After about five minutes sitting in the seats we were glad we'd brought two cars. The princess wanted cotton candy, popcorn and to jump/run up and down the stairs. She was easily placated with a corn dog and some cotton candy to eat at home. The middle child got a corn dog, coke and a snow cone (too sweet - gave it to the princess -- now she's got cotton candy and a snow cone?).

The man I married was happy that we left. The smiling child got a bat from one of the players (which will take up a position of honor in his room), and they caught a shirt from the air cannon shirt throwing machine.

The princess spent a good two hours bouncing off the walls once we got home. The middle child said he'd like to actually stay long enough next time to see some baseball game. I thought it might be okay to stay for the game if I could sit in those rocking chairs in the outfield and knit. The man I married wondered why in the world you'd knit at a baseball game.

Aaaah, the pure joys of summer are alive and well.