Friday, February 29, 2008

Quiet Time

I believe that you should start your days off right. Calm, relaxed, quiet...I enjoy reading blogs while Matt gets ready for work and then we sit together sipping our coffee while his car warms up. Sometimes I feel irritated if someone gets up early and starts talking to me before I have this quiet time.

Setting: Living room with only the dim light of the computer glowing in the corner. Background noise consists of aquarium pump and van idling in the driveway. Time 5:30 am.

Matt: Make sure you have the kids shovel this morning before the snow gets all tracked down.

Me: Oh, rats... We should have gotten them a new ice chopper last night. They say they want a chopper like Ken's.

(Date night last night consisted of dinner and Fleet Farm)

Me: (still talking...) Oh yeah, and Hailey would like a new broom. We couldn't find them at the store last week, can you believe Shopko doesn't carry brooms?

Me: (still talking) Oh and Hayden says I got him the wrong dish soap, I vaguely remembered at the store that this kind leaves his dish rag slimy.

Matt: Well, okay, gotta go...Have a good day.

Me: (walking Matt to the door) You too. What do you want for supper? I was thinking I'd make home made pizza... Don't slam the door... I love you, have a great day.

How I do love quiet time. I bet Matt does too.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My Brain Has Been Otherwise Occupied

Last week was Taxmas Time like Christmas at our house. New books arrived daily from the UPS man, or the Fed Ex guy or the Spee-Dee delivery truck because of our annual curriculum buying spree. We watched the tracking numbers online and followed the packages from their destinations to our doorstep. The longest leg of the journey seemed to be "On truck for delivery".

History suggested that we'd be the last drop off of the day, so we'd sit with our noses pressed to the windows perking up at every diesel sound for blocks. All day, not accomplishing much but waiting. Because, you know, if you step in the shower, there will be a delivery needing a signature. Or, if you run to the gas station, you'll find a note on your door return stating delivery confirmation was needed........

This year, our biggest order arrived at 8AM! We had hardly finished breakfast when we heard the truck out front. (As evidenced by the uneaten bagel in the midst of packing material.)
In the past, I have been know to hog all the box opening fun for myself, wanting to make sure everything that was supposed to be there was, was my excuse

This year I thought I'd let the kids have the fun IF they would follow a few simple rules. No books were to leave the living room. I let them empty all the boxes and paw through all the new books while I finished my breakfast.

Then and only then did I get out the packing slip and sit down to separate the books into their appropriate piles. The older boys helped me sort...

...while I shooed the little boys into the bedroom to watch TV.

Hey, I've come along way with my BDD (Box Dominance Disorder) and plus...they ASKED me to tape the boxes shut. Honest!

Soooo, that is where I've been. My creative energy has been channeled into turning the massive piles of books into a meaningful year of learning for 5 children. And I am trying to get a head start on all their reading...

...but as you can see, I'm already behind...

Monday, February 18, 2008

Being Smart...

...wouldn't have been as much fun.

I have a habit of waiting until the last minute to fill up with gas. Sometimes it's because I'm hoping the price will go down a few cents. Sometimes it's because I'm waiting for payday. But sometimes, I just get lazy about it. The gas station is only a few blocks from my house and if I plan things right, I can usually hit it "on the way" to somewhere without worry.

Usually, when the weathermen are forecasting below zero temperatures I make sure I've got a least a quarter tank sitting in my tank. This weekend, when the predictions were for lots of snow I didn't even think about my gas. It was pretty much on empty, but I wasn't heading anywhere so I decided to wait until the next trip out: Sunday morning Church.

We woke up on Sunday to ice covered streets. With the forecast of sleet turning to snow, we decided not to go to church. No where to go, no trip to the gas station, no worries.

This morning, since my van was in the back, Matt had to move it before he could get his van out to go to work. Shortly after we all kissed him good-bye he came back banging on the door. "Everybody get your boots on, I'm stuck, you gotta push me out."

Dressed in our 6:30 AM best, we donned our boots, jackets, hats and mittens, grabbed shovels and headed to the street. Just as another stranded motorist was gravitating our way to help, Matt's car found traction and was off. Before he said his final farewell he mentioned my van was on "E" and he thought it would take quite a bit of time to melt the ice off...IF I decide to go anywhere. What he really meant was...I don't know what you're going to do, there's not enough gas in there to let it run with the heater on until the ice melts.

Since we were already out and dressed we pushed the other stranded neighbor out of his dilemma and proceeded into the house for breakfast.

I had thought of retrieving and setting up the new bus heater, running an extension cord to the van and let it heat up that way. But the whole van was literally encased in a quarter of an inch of ice (with the exception of a little crack around the door from when Matt opened it) so there was no way that would work. Any heat created would have quickly escaped through the open door.

I lit a jar candle and placed it on the dashboard. Every 15 minutes I went to check on it, after an hour and a half , and some nasty whacks with the ice scraper, the windshield was warming enough to be able to chop a hole, get under and peel the ice away like a scab. My plan was to just do enough to drive safely to the gas station, fill up and then let it idle to melt the rest.

That took awhile, but it was fun.

I gotta get out more.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Sweet 16

When she finally arrived, she was 9 days late. She was born naturally 26 hours after my water broke, but only after the doctor threatened to do a C-section if she wouldn't hurry up.

When she emerged, all red and feisty, she captured our hearts and changed our lives forever. The day she was born I learned that all my living up till then was in preparation for this...being a Mom. Never in my life had I felt such responsibility, never before had I felt such peace. How those two sensations ever found harmony I'll never know. But they did. Our hearts grew that day, more than I ever thought possible.

We thank God for her. Happy Sweet 16. Our firstborn. Our only daughter. Our Valentine.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Big House

I am content with what I have. Almost to a fault. "We don't need new towels, the ones we got for our wedding 18 years ago still have some life in them." It's the same thing with socks, although I've not yet found a way to make them last 18 years. The kids NEED things though, like when your 14 year old looks like he's trying to bring capri pants for boys into fashion. That's a need.

I'm skeptical when my 16 year old daughter tells me she needs new clothes because I never saw her wear all the clothes I bought from the last buying spree. When I suggest "What about that red shirt with the neck like this and the sleeves that go to here?" She says, "Oh, I forgot about that one." How can someone forget about clothes? She basically wears the same outfits all the time so, tell me, why does she need more? Her floor closet is already littered packed with them. Unlike ME, who can boast of only one hanging rack of clothes instead of 2! Truth be told, the reason it was so easy to clean out that closet was because I kinda forgot about that closet and I hadn't worn, much less seen, any of those clothes for a least a year maybe two. I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

I am completely content with life in general. When I think about it, I don't NEED for anything. I have shelter, food, great friends, heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer, too many clothes, a grand collection of "waiting for feet" soccer shoes and a school bus for heaven's sake. WAY more than I need.

That is why this dream is so puzzling to me...

I can't really remember the actual start of the dream but at some point I realize we've moved into a new house. The kitchen is wonderful (It has 2 sinks) and I wonder which I should choose to do the dishes in. I start exploring the cabinets and drawers already stocked with Tupperware storage containers full of pastas, flour, know, the good stuff. All so neat and tidy. As I'm examining the drawers I come to an amazing discovery...I pull on the drawer and it doesn't stop at a mere 18 inches, I can pull it out 5 feet! Look at all that space!

At this point I notice myself carrying a load of laundry and wonder where the laundry chute is. I find it but come to the conclusion that if I put my clothes in there, I may never find them again because I don't know where the basement is. The problem is easily solved when I peek down the chute to find the previous owners hanging out in the laundry room. "Where's the basement door?" I inquire. Right there beside me, I wonder why I didn't notice it before.

Once downstairs and in the laundry room I am pleased with the facilities and start my laundry. There are huge windows above the washer and an air conditioner suspended from the ceiling. I think nothing of it.

In the distance I hear splashing and sounds of children laughing. The basement suddenly transforms into an upscale hotel lobby. Not gaudily decorated, not modern, but simple and uncluttered. Down the hall there are 3 pools (one deep, one shallow and one that has a waterfall). My kids are there but no one is watching the 4 year old and he's heading straight for the deep pool. He falls in but I'm there and fish him out unharmed. I'm grateful there was no I-'-m r-u-n-n-i-n-g b-u-t n-o-t f-a-s-t e-n-o-u-g-h part. This obviously is not one of those kind of dreams.

At this point things get fuzzy and I discover secret rooms, closets filled with stereo equipment, extra bathrooms, and windows that don't open.

I wake up feeling discontent. Mainly about the kitchen.

But honestly, I can't imagine living with windows that don't open.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

The Last Lecture

I don't watch the news. It's unhealthy for me. I figure if something is happening that I really need to know about the city's sirens will alert me. Or, Matt or my mom will call to warn me. Like the time an armed man was on the loose in my neighborhood after a brief stand off with Police. The local schools had all gone into "lock down" mode but, being homeschoolers, we were happily playing outside on the beautiful spring day holding our Phy. Ed. / Ornithology Class. Mom called and told us to get inside. We did and locked our doors as well.

With that being said, this news may be old to some of you. It's originally dated 9/18/2007 but even if you did see it then, it's worth watching again.

Randy Pausch's Last Lecture. A man dying of cancer with only a few months to live, reminding us what's really important in life.

If you'd like to see the original lecture in it's entirety you can find it here. Or you can read updates here.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Hiding Place

We're out of our cold snap hopefully for the year. It's usually in January that the power company gets most of our paycheck. Snow is predicted for the next 3 days, I'm okay with that. It's the lack of sunshine that has been playing havoc with my nerves. To try to combat the effects, I'm going to try to find 5 positive things about this winter.

#5 Lots and lots of hot chocolate

#4 It's dark when I go to sleep

#3 When I forget the wash in the machine for 3 days, it doesn't smell too bad.

#2 Cancellations and Snow days ( I love unexpected free time)

And the number one thing about this stage of winter....

I have no choice but to clean out closets (where else am I going to hide from children, wild from being cooped up inside)


After (well, sort of "after" I still have to clean it up, but the clothes are all outa there) Maybe I should call it "During"...

3 huge bags went to the thrift store...

and the only thing that I had a hard time letting go was this T-shirt.

Monday, February 4, 2008

He works better without me.

Finally, some bus news. Actual size bus news, not give away bus news.

Just to refresh your memory, last weekend left us with this.......

Bunk stud walls with under-bed storage boxes. (UNsymmetrical to house a heater on the outside on one side and soup on the inside on the other)

This weekend Matt worked alone while I ran the kids all over town. He gets a lot more done that way.

First he made platforms for the mattresses. Notice the little strips next to the wall that are separate from the platform? Those are for the hinges. They are attached to the metal rail. You know, the ones bus guys love.
Can you see the hinges?

Then he covered the bare stud walls with plywood making them strong enough to stand up to the constant "vibration" that will come with being in the back of a bus. HA! I've been in the back of a bus before, I wish I would've been reinforced all those High School years. (Maybe bra manufacturers should replace underwires with plywood) All of this will eventually be covered with painted bead board.

Voila! All the walls in place.

This next picture is between the Queen size bed and the bunks. It will be clothes storage. Drawer storage. Each family member will have their own drawer, anything not fitting in the drawer will not be allowed on the trip. We debated on whether we should have hanging storage. I can't remember the last time I was camping that I was required to wear something that would have been better off packed on a hangar. It'll happen now though, just you watch. This is were the kids will get involved again. Matt will trace out patterns for custom fit drawers onto MDF and we (the kids and I) will cut out and assemble them.

That's the plan anyway.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

And the Winner Is........

And the winner is...........Naomi!

Thank you all who entered. The random drawing was held at noon today.

...and to reply to all your comments...

Yeah, it is cute
We love them too (check out the rest of our blog!)
Kids are funny that way aren't they?
A Rhyme...very clever
It's okay for girls to love busses
It reminds me of childhood too. That's why we bought our own!
We'd love to have you stick around
I really do think you should let the children have it if you win.
The world can never have enough bus drivers!
Intimidation never works with me
A school bus does the same thing for me.
This one was put up high once the contest started, it's in great shape
The Mitten Fairy will be around for a long time, stick around!
The windows do not come down, but I bet you'll figure something out!
I may kick myself later, but sure... International contestants are always welcome!
We have one of those play carpets too
I might need to get you FIL's (bus mechanic) name.
You could always home school.
Isn't HTML interesting? Like a secret language!
No, I went back to the store to find more and they were all gone.
Very clever having your kids all enter separately!
Maybe you could give me lessons.

I'm really glad the drawing is random there is no way I could've picked a winner based on your sweet comments. Hope to see you around!


Saturday, February 2, 2008

Bisque and Bread. The Recipe. The Play.

Act 1
Setting 4x11 galley kitchen

RECIPE: Saute onions in butter with spices (Dill seed, dill weed, and oregano) until translucent.

PHONE: Ring, Ring, Ring

ME: Hello? Oh, hi Mom.

BREAD MAKING SON: Where's the Basil?

ME (Gesticulating wildly toward the spice cupboard): No, no game tomorrow...

BREAD MAKING SON (Works busily in tandem with ME in our 4x11 foot galley kitchen)

ME: Oh...okay...really?...okay...Good idea, the roads might be pretty bad...

6 YEAR OLD WITH NEW NERF GUN: Look Mom, I can turn the light on and off with my darts!

BREAD MAKING SON, 6 YEAR OLD WITH NEW NERF GUN (Work busily with me in a threesome in our 4x11 foot galley kitchen)

LIGHT: On......Off......On........OFF.......

ME (moving chair BREAD MAKING SON used to climb to get bread flour and gesticulating wildly for NERF BOY to leave the 4x11 galley kitchen):Yeah, I'll let you know...Alright then.....good idea.......will do......Okay, gotta go, have a great weekend...Bye.

RECIPE: Add crushed tomatoes and chicken stock.

BREAD MAKING SON (holding bread maker, turning in circles in the 4x11 kitchen): Where should I plug this in?

ME (Turning kitchen light On, adding tomatoes and stock): In the dining room.....

RECIPE: Make roux by blending butter and flour over medium heat for 3 minutes, whisking constantly.

4 YEAR OLD (emptying a box of fizzy water in a line in front of the stove): Can I put these right here?

ME (Whisking constantly): Why?

4 YEAR OLD: I need the box.

ME (moving chair with my feet that NERF BOY used to climb to retrieve darts from flour storage space, still whiskinig): No, put them in the, Don't go in the frigde! Put them on the deck.

4 YEAR OLD (carries each bottle separately through the 4x11 galley kitchen to sliding glass door to deck)

ME (Whisking, still whisking)

4 YEAR OLD (Happily slides empty box into living room to sit in it and watch "Wheel of Fortune" plug and play video game)

Act 2

ME (Closing sliding glass door, alone in the kitchen)

RECIPE: Add roux to tomato mixture. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

NERF BOY: Can I watch the bread?

ME (Climbing on chair to put flour back in storage space): NO! Don't touch, it's hot!

RECIPE: Add salt, pepper, chopped parsley, honey, heavy cream and half-n-half.

LIGHT: On...Off...On...Off...On...

ME (pointing to Nerf Shooter with Whistling Darts): Give me that!

NERF BOY (Reluctantly gives up weapon, wanders into living room and joins "Wheel of Fortune game already in progress.)

ME (pouring ingredients into Nesco because it isn't fitting in soup pot and yelling into living room): Did you shovel?


ME: Did you fix the toilet seat?


ME: Can you get on that?

14 YEAR OLD BOY (looks at ME blankly):

CRICKETS: (I swear I heard crickets) Chirp, chirp, chirp...

Act 3
Crowded dining room

COMPANY: Great soup!

ME: Thanks, it was nothing.

I love a happy ending!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Math time at our house

We have a schedule. Life flows better when we follow our schedule.

Kids up by 6:30 am
Read-Aloud 6:30-7:00
Family Bible Study 7:00-7:30
Breakfast and morning chores 7:30-8:00

From 8-8:30 the 3 big kids have individual Bible study while I sit with the two little ones for Pre-School/Kindergarten.

At 8:30 the big kids start their Math, while I keep plugging alone with the Littles.

This is where the fun for today's post begins.

I let each Mathematician listen to music (with headphones) while they work. But only for Math, I'm not completely crazy.

This creates (in theory) a quiet environment for us to do phonics, undisturbed.

Yesterday, this came to mind.

Although our choice of music is a little different, I still felt like Robin Williams.