Monday, June 30, 2008

What Kind of Ant Are You?

My life today has reminded me of ants. Not the beautiful, organized lines of ants quietly going about their business in an orderly fashion.

No - I mean crazy ants. No order, no method to their madness. Just a bunch of busy movement from place to place. Do they ever get anything accomplished? Probably, but only because they're ants and there's a lot of them. Perhaps there's a method to their madness.

Within the past fifteen minutes or so I've:

-folded 1/3 load of towels
-hung up 5 princess dresses
-assisted the smiling child with 4 division problems
-listened to the princess read a story about a big bug
-been questioned by the fencer as to why "The Westing Game" fits into the current reading schedule
-assured the teen that the book he found on a bookshelf is the same book that is on another bookshelf and is okay to read
-okayed each individual section of the newspaper to go to recycling
-pushed the dog off the unfolded laundry on the bed
-fed the princess a very late breakfast
-turned the dryer on again (the last load is still on the bed)
-washed the dogs feet (it finally rained a little bit)
-refocused the smiling child on long division
-retied the warp on the fencer's weaving project
-printed letters so the princess can learn to write "but"

So, whenever I wonder why I never seem to accomplish anything, I'll remember the crazy ants. They're constantly following a path that no one can see; a seemingly chaotic path. But, at the end of the day, they find their way home to the nest; dinner in hand. Family fed - task accomplished. Are their lives better or worse for the chaos? Who knows, who cares. For now, I shall be content with my crazy ant status, and remember to be grateful that my life's not like a fire ant invasion.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tennis Takes Over Our Lives

The boys started tennis lessons in September and are HOOKED! It's rare that we find something everyone likes, and they love tennis. It doesn't hurt that our tennis teacher, Ms. Sarah, is wonderful. Somehow she manages to take a bunch of kids with a huge range of skills and turn it all into a fun class. Even the princess likes to go to tennis - doesn't hurt that we usually go to Starbucks for the first half hour.

Anyway, DS3 (the maniac) has discovered Wimbledon. Now he begs to watch the matches on TV. He talks about the players, he's read up on the players, and he has his favorites. Not sure if he actually likes to watch tennis or if it's another method of avoiding school; but, since my sports goal for the kids is to have them learn "life sports" then this interest in tennis is good?

Off to get the princess "one of those floaty jackets" so she can feel more secure at the pool. She likes to say that she knows how to swim and can breathe underwater, but mom's not so sure.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Every Day's A Party

What if you threw a party and only socks showed up? It would look like this:

I finally found a pattern for my stars and stripes yarn. This month Anni gave us two patterns to choose from and I picked this one. The pattern is called "Rainforest" and looks like lovely waterfalls. Well, I did the pattern toe up and was happily knitting along when I realized that while the pretty waterfalls looked lovely from my viewpoint, when I was standing up and actually wearing the socks they would be upside down! My socks (stand on your head and you'll see what I mean) look more like theater curtains pulled aside than waterfalls, but they're wonderful none the less.

Since it's so hot here, my poor wool socks will be living in the drawer with all of my other hand knit socks for quite some time. DH and the kids have the right idea - they ask me to knit them shortie socks in a cotton blend yarn and then they can wear their socks all of the time. Those socks are pretty quick to knit, but they are boring. I always have a fancy pair of wool socks and a plain pair of shortie socks on the needles. The best thing about knitting plain Jayne socks is that I can take them anywhere and knit without having to worry about a pattern. If I knit and chat while I'm trying to concentrate on a pattern all hell breaks loose.

Speaking of Jayne, my kids are all bugging me to make them Jayne hats. I made a baby one for a friend, but didn't get around to making any for the kids. Goodness knows I've got enough yarn - I bought cheapo acrylic yarn and could make three more hats out of it. They won't be authentic, but they'll be washable. And besides, I make a mean pom pom.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Forecast Today: HOT!

It's going to be hot again today. The summer weather is always hot. I don't know why they even bother to forecast the weather - it's always hot, never cool, never cloudy, never rainy. Just hot.

It's a Cat In The Hat kind of day.

The rain did not come.
It was too hot to play.
So we sat in the house
All that hot, hot, sad day.

I sat there with four kids.
We sat there, us four.
And I said, "How I wish
Some fun would come to our door."

Too hot to go out
And too hot to swim.
So we sat in the dark,
A mom and her kin.

So all we could do was to
And fight with each other.
And sometimes we knit.

And then
Something went BUZZ!
And that buzz was because...

The dryer was finished. Back to chores. So much for Cat In The Hat, back to reality. It was fun while it lasted. Now to figure out something to do.

Whatever happened to the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer? They weren't spent in day after day of 100° heat. The kids can't ride their bikes anywhere except around the block - we're surrounded by busy streets with no sidewalks. A simple ride down to the corner store for ice cream cones is a thing of the past - we'd surely be smooshed if we even attempted that.

So, we sit inside during the heat of the day (for those of you who live in more pleasant climates, that's between 10 am and 4 pm). Our local library has fewer books than we do, so that's not much of an option. The kids have already finished their school work, and are almost finished practicing their music. We can always start lunch a bit early, but then what?

We've been going back and forth between movies and reading and games. Maybe I'll pull out the backgammon board again. Unfortunately games often start fights, and then everyone ends up pouting in a separate room. We could always go right to the punishment stage, but that seems too easy...

I think I'm going to go to the "post office" again. Amazingly it looks just like a Starbucks inside. Go figure.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Say What?

This is why I am loosing my mind.

Princess: Mom, smell Eddie's balls.
Mom: What????
Princess: Eddie's balls smell terrible.

Being conscientious dog owners we've had our dog spayed or neutered, so I couldn't imagine what she was talking about. Then, as the ball was shoved in my face for a smell, I realized that she was talking about the little tennis balls we'd purchased for the dog so he'd stop playing with the teeny balls he keeps finding, and not end up suffocating and falling dead on the floor.

By the way, Eddie's balls smell awful.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Socks for the Boy

I made socks for my honey, for my oldest and for my third boy. The youngest one waited so patiently. He really wanted mom to knit him his own socks. He even went to the yarn store to pick out just the perfect yarn (and it's burnt orange, like the Longhorns he adores).

The sock yarn sat in the dark recesses of my closet, and still the boy waited.

Another pair of socks for dad, and still the boy waited.

The older brother wore his mom-made socks and waved them in the boy's face, and still the boy waited.

He was patient. He even learned to knit to entice mom into knitting with him (and hoping that she would knit on his socks).

Finally it happened. Mom had the needles available. Mom had the yarn. The socks were cast on. The boy offered to try them on as each row was knit. He wished he had smaller feet. When it was time to turn the heel he watched and wondered how the magic happened.

The first sock was finished. The boy carefully sat and wore one sock. Knit as fast as you can mom - the second sock was needed.

At last they were finished. The boy smiled, and slipped his feet into his own mom-knit socks. They were perfect. A few moments for mom to take a picture and then the shoes went on.

The socks help him to ride faster and run farther than he'd ever imagined.

If only mom-made socks were available to everyone - the world would be a better place.

Worms Live In The Dirt

One day the princess came in and declared to dh "Worms live in the dirt." It was just a statement. She's full of declarative statements. Yesterday she came to me and said, "Dogs don't get their ears pierced until they're married." How can you argue with that?

Backyard Ballistics is a popular book at our house right now. The children have been promised that this summer we will go to the movies twice a month and work our way through the less destructive activities in the book. Right now I'm trying to find projects that don't require explosions. Since we've had quite a dry spell the grass is quite flammable and I don't want to be responsible for burning down our neighborhood. We might start with a simple pneumatic missile or a flinger. Who doesn't like a good fling now and then?

We're also going to go around today and sign up for all of the summer reading freebies. Since we read all summer anyway, we might as well get a treat for it. We live in between three libraries and are going to go sign up at all of them. Half Price Books gives one $3 coupon a week to kids under 10 if you fill out their little card. I have two under ten, so that's $6 per week. And the coupons last through November, so that will come in handy. We can always find something there we like, and the boys are searching for old rock cd's right now, so that pays for almost half of each cd.
DS3 is finally playing something different on his guitar! His teacher is teaching him more complicated stuff and right now he's playing something that sounds very flamenco-ish. It sounds really nice, although I was willing to listen to almost anything that wasn't Smoke on the Water or Ironman.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Knitting When It's Hot

It's fun to make afghans. They grow and become this wonderful, warm thing to snuggle under when it's cold. The cold, hard truth is that we have very few days when this lovely picture is actually a reality.

Right now it's becoming summer. It's also been close to 100° for weeks now. That doesn't stop my need to knit, it just forces me to become creative. Luckily there are dishcloths to knit. Here's my latest one from the Monthly Dishcloth group.

There are also socks to knit. Even though it's hot and the socks are wool, at least they're small and don't overheat me while I'm knitting. Here are my Sockamania socks for June so far. They're called "Rainforest" and reminded me of fireworks, so they seemed perfect for my patriotic sock yarn.

DS3 and DS4 are both fighting over my stars and stripes socks, so I may have to go find some yarn to make them patriotic socks too. Not sure if they actually want the socks or if they just wanted to fight. I haven't quite finished ds4's Longhorn socks yet. They are my "take along" sock project, and they've been neglected. He's been very patient, but ds3 has been egging him on, trying to make him jealous, because his socks were finished first.

And - ds3 wears his socks almost daily! I have to request them to wash them. Maybe he thinks of them as little socks of love - he said that he likes hand knit socks better than store bought socks. His wife is going to hate me!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Cleaning and Kids

We made the decision to stay in our house. It's too small, really, but in a great location. So, in order to find a place for everyone, everything has to be in it's place. Unfortunately, there really isn't a place for everything.

Thus the cleaning.

DS2 is a great helper, but since none of the common area mess is his, he really doesn't know what to keep, what to put away and what to throw away. DS3 cleans by giving everything to his younger brother. While this eliminates ds3's chore, it greatly increases ds4's mess.

DS4 is a pack rat. We have three boys in one bedroom, and to make space where there really isn't any, we bought ds4 a loft bed. When we set it up, we put a bookshelf and a small drawer set under the bed. The idea was that he would put all of his treasures either on the shelf or in the drawers and then he would also have a little hiding space.

As they say, the best laid plans....

DS4 is a pack rat. The space under his bed became a black hole of things. When he pulled it all out to sort through it, ds2 said that laws of physics had been defied. Really, this small space (twin bed size and about 3 feet high) held and enough stuff to fill an entire bedroom.

There were many attempts to help him sort through the stuff, but every time anyone touched anything he was sure that we were secretly planning to throw all of his special things away. He finally agreed to put stuff in boxes and bags and move them into another room so that at least we could create enough room on the floor so that it wouldn't be a safety violation.

The bags and boxes sat on the floor for a few weeks and ds2 agreed to go through the stuff and "delicately" sort/toss the contents. Amazingly ds4 agreed to this. Apparently ds2 is trustworthy. The under the bed space is still full, but at least it's no longer overflowing.

Next it was on to the books. We have a LOT of books. I always find it interesting that we have almost no duplicates. The princess is really the only one who looks at picture books, and her books are in the living room. To make them easier for her to find, we put them in plastic tubs on the shelves and labeled the tubs. Unfortunately, the princess can't read well enough to put the books back in the proper tubs. So, she pulls out books and then puts them back in the tubs, but not the right tubs. Then the next time she wants a specific book we point out the correct tub and she dumps the tub to find the book (which is not in the correct tub, 'cause she can't read). It's a vicious cycle.

Lego's are also a problem. DS4 loves to build Lego's, but can't bear to take his creations apart. We have a large tub of Lego's, but we also have lots of little tubs of "special" Lego things. And since you can't really label Lego tubs with what is actually in them, the Lego tubs are just stacked.

Maybe I should stop trying to clean and try to find a new place for the kids!

Do You Really Need A Rule?

Being a mother means that you make up rules for things you always figured were understood. Here are some of the rules we've had to enforce lately.

1. If you have dog poo on your shoes, take them off before you come into the house to tell mom about it.

2. If it doesn't taste good, don't try to get your brother to eat it.

3. Never try to make you little sisters brain explode.

4. If the dog is hiding under the table, you may not drag him out and claim that he asked you to do it.

5. If mom puts your brother's underwear in your laundry basket, just give it to your brother; don't throw it on the floor, stomp on it and scream that your brother has committed a crime against all that is human.

6. When someone is enjoying a book/tv show/movie, you may not tell them that it's a "baby" thing.

7. Never write on daddy with a Sharpie (even if it is very funny).

8. Never write on your sister with a Sharpie (even if she asks you to do it).

9. The dog doesn't need a leash in the house.

10. Mom will not, under any circumstances, correct math homework while using the bathroom.