Friday, October 31, 2008

Boo to You

I was practicing the trick-or-treating routine with the two-year-old, but it appears we still have a way to go:

Mom: "When the neighbor opens the door, what do you say?"
Ben: "Give me some treats."
Mom: "When she gives you the candy, what do you say?"
Ben: "Put the treats in my bucket."

My childless brother and sister-in-law loaned me their camera, since mine is still on the fritz, so I should have some photos of the little goblins at some point. In the meantime, I had to pass along this Halloween Ha:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ever Had One?

Today is one of those days when I couldn't tell you what color underwear I'm wearing... because I haven't actually had time to go.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

What a Treat

My kids are all about the treats. In theory, I am the kind of mother who would never use food as a punishment or a reward. In reality, it happens. They hit up one grandma for hard, fruit candies, from which Benjamin has been banned because he is a walking choking hazard, and the other grandma for Tic-Tacs, which they all call "orange pills." Another healthy habit. Benjamin is very interested in going on the potty chair these days, because, "den, we git some treats" or "neminems."

Due to the latest inane complication with construction on our street, Amanda's bus was unable to come down the road to deliver her home. This affected just Amanda and two other girls. We found this out about an hour before school ended, and I was at a loss for a solution, save waking up Ben from his nap and packing up everyone to pick her up at school. Finally, the bus company manager said, "Oh, I'll just take the shorty bus and pick up the girls and bring them home myself. I can park close to the road closure and walk them in." So, that's what happened. I met them across the street and said to Amanda, "Wasn't that exciting? You girls got to ride your own special bus." Amanda replied, "Yeah, it was cool. The bus driver was funny and all. But, you know what, Mom? On those little buses, I thought they'd serve little cookies."

Later, I was helping the girls get ready for bed (OK, I was screaming, "Get your pajamas on NOW" while their bare bottoms ran circles around me) and I noticed a stash on their bedroom floor. It was a pile of foam airplanes, stickers, candy, and the like, which I'm guessing were prizes from a birthday party or carnival that someone was saving for something. Anyway, I thought to myself, "Better pick that up before someone gets into it," and then I left to do something else. A couple minutes later, Elisabeth was whining she didn't get her candy bribe after taking her medicine; I had determined she was not getting a treat because she threw a fit about taking said medicine. I walked back into the bedroom and noticed shredded Tootsie Roll wrappers on the carpeting. "I guess you did have a treat," I said. "Who ate those Tootsie Rolls?" She stomped up and down that she hadn't done it, when Ben walked in, his mouth ringed in chocolate: "Me. I did it. Benny eat the Tootsie Rolls!"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Be Good

I have further evidence my children are not perfect, and I'm stewing about it.

It took Amanda a full two hours after she got off the bus yesterday to admit she'd been disciplined at school. "Pulling a slip," she calls it; her teacher implements a system of colored paper slips: green means acceptable behavior for the day, yellow indicates some issue that requires correction, red signals you're headed for the big house.

Now, once or twice before, Amanda has fessed up to being warned-- or "almost pulling a slip"-- about minor infractions, and I haven't been too bugged. If she got scolded for running in the hall, I tell her I know she's excited about recess, but school rules are created to keep everyone safe, and it's her job to obey them. No big whoop. But, this time, Amanda was reprimanded for something that really bothers me-- teasing another child. This apparently wasn't a serious enough situation for the teacher to contact me, and maybe you think I'm overreacting...

According to Amanda's description, the teacher passed out worksheets, and two ended up on Amanda's desk. She told her classmate that he didn't get a worksheet, and he got upset. I asked Amanda whether she knew she had two sheets (thinking it was an innocent mistake) and she admitted she did know. What's more, she told me another girl in her class got into trouble for doing a similar thing to the same child. So, now, it feels more like ganging up, and I won't tolerate that.

I obviously spend a lot of time with other parents, and I try to surround myself with families who share the same values we do. Still, I am somewhat puzzled by how many people see their overall goal as parents to make sure their kids are "happy," as in, "I just want him/her to be happy." Yeah, happy is nice, and my kids should be happy because they lead charmed lives with a nice home, warm clothes, great food (if I do say so myself,) extended family who dote upon them, and pretty much anything else they could ever want. But what I want more than anything for my children is for them to be good. I see it as my job-- my around-the-clock, unpaid, thankless job-- to raise them to be decent human beings. I want them to value life, to offer basic respect and politeness to all, and to do what is right.

Up until this point, it has been a fairly easy task with Amanda. I don't take the credit for it; I've just chalked it up to her personality and disposition. My mom often comments, "If I was the younger sibling, I'd want Amanda to be my big sister." She is generally kind and compassionate, friendly and fair. I mean, if this incident had happened with one of my other unnamed children, it would be a totally different situation. First of all, I'd never know about it, because she'd never tell me. If the teacher shared, I'd think, "Yeah, that sounds like something she'd do. Now, what am I supposed to do?"

For the record, Amanda was contrite, she was punished, and she did apologize to the other child-- on her own, according to her, and in writing, with my guidance. I know, I know, we all slip up... and she's only six... and this isn't a pattern... But, I just keep thinking about girls, and how nasty they can be, how nasty I was, and how bad it could get.

Monday, October 27, 2008

My Little Pumpkin

Benjamin and I made a pumpkin pie this morning. Can't really explain why-- maybe it's the sudden cold weather, maybe it's that certain members of this family looove pumpkin pie, maybe I thought it would be the perfect accompaniment to the chicken fajitas I'm planning for supper. (No, you're right, that can't be it.) I love to write about my little baking escapades because it must make you think I'm all Martha Stewart-y or, at least, all Rachael Ray-y.

But, I was thinking, as I was mixing and Ben was flinging sugar on the floor, what's the point? I mean, is homemade pie really that much better? Can I really call it homemade when I used canned pumpkin and refrigerated pie crust? Mrs. Smith makes a mean pumpkin pie, and I can buy it in the freezer section for about 5 bucks. That's cheaper than the ingredients for today's recipe. Plus, come holiday time, the grocery store will run a two-for-one sale-- it always does. Of course, then Benjamin can't sniff the cloves, but that's probably not the best habit to start.

I have been known to pass off Mrs. Smith's pie as my own. I only did it once, as anyone who really knows me and comes to my house knows I cook but I don't bake much. And, I'm not a liar. I find no shame in saying, "Mrs. Smith made the pie. I took it out of the box."

But, this one time, we had a couple over for supper, and they were those kind-of-friends-who-used-to-be-friends-but-really-aren't-friends-any-more-and-we-are-leading-totally-different-lives-so-why-are-we-trying-to-keep-this-thing-going-anyway friends. It had been a few years since we'd gotten together, and I tried to be a really good host, by making sure the house was spotless, and putting out new hand towels, and lighting candles, and setting a beautiful table, and working really hard to cook a good meal, and making a special trip to get their favorite drinks... And they showed up more than two hours late with no apologies, were all over each other on our couch, and issued only one compliment the entire night-- and it was about the pie. So, you bet your butt I made it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

On the First Grade Campaign Trail

I have heard from a couple of mothers of Amanda's friends and classmates that their children are coming home with a political push apparently begun by my daughter: "Amanda says we need to get out and vote on Election Day... and we need to vote for the good guy-- John McCain."

Some of you may find this inspiring, some frightening, some funny... but I find it just plain odd. Of course, you assume she got it from Todd. But he's hardly been home all month. And I never talk politics, certainly not when the kids are around. I have noticed Amanda can identify Barack Obama from television and newspapers, and that kind of surprised me, but, still, it's nothing we've ever really talked about. Then again, when I relayed to Todd what was happening, he asked me whether I'd apologized to the other mothers. That hadn't occurred to me, either.

I remember when I was in first or second grade, it was an election year, and our school had its own election. Only, instead of voting for president, we voted for our favorite television show. We had to go up individually and whisper in the teacher's ear, very official-like. I voted for "The Brady Bunch."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

I Salute You, Shirt

Today, a tribute to my favorite shirt. I've had this denim button-down for 15 years or more. It's not a fashion statement-- never was. It's more of a security blanket. It's soft and worn (worn though) and useful as a jacket, a bathrobe, a kitchen towel, and more. I wore this shirt over those lovely hospital gowns during the labors of all of our children.

You can see it's faded and frayed. A couple years back, I bought a new shirt-- the same shirt, the same material, the same size. But it does not share the same love.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Excellent Advice

I had my first doctor's appointment in four weeks, and I heard the baby's heartbeat. I've had so many tests I knew the baby had a heart-- and I knew it was beating-- still, it's good to know nothing has changed since the last time. So, I'm thankful for that simple joy today.

It reminded me of one of those chain emails I recently received from a friend. When I read this one, I thought not so much about myself, but my husband, who is traveling again for work. He is working long hours, is trying to deal with city administrators and contractors and landscapers for work on our house, and is just generally overextended. When I see that pattern emerging in those I love, I worry about them-- about their physical and psychological health... and about the lack of joy in their days.

I pass along this "Excellent Advice" for Todd (who is no doubt too busy to ever look at this blog) and for all of you:

Too many people put off something that brings them joy just because they haven't thought about it, don't have it on their schedule, didn't know it was coming or are too rigid to depart from their routine.
I got to thinking one day about all those people on the Titanic who passed up dessert at dinner that fateful night in an effort to cut back. From then on, I've tried to be a little more flexible.
How many women out there will eat at home because their husband didn't suggest going out to dinner until after something had been thawed? Does the word "refrigeration" mean nothing to you?
How often have your kids dropped in to talk and sat in silence while you watched "Jeopardy" on television?
I cannot count the times I called my sister and said, "How about going to lunch in a half-hour?" She would gas up and stammer, "I can't. I have clothes on the line. My hair is dirty. I wish I had known yesterday. I had a late breakfast. It looks like rain." And my personal favorite: "It's Monday." She died a few years ago. We never did have lunch together.
Because Americans cram so much into their lives, we tend to schedule our headaches. We live on a sparse diet of promises we make to ourselves when all the conditions are perfect! We'll go back and visit the grandparents when we get the kid toilet-trained. We'll entertain when we replace the living-room carpet. We'll go on a second honeymoon when we get two more kids out of college.
Life has a way of accelerating as we get older. The days get shorter, and the list of promises to ourselves gets longer. One morning, we awaken, and all we have to show for our lives is a litany of "I'm going to," "I plan on," and "Someday, when things are settled down a bit."
When anyone calls my "seize the moment" friend, she is open to adventure and available for trips. She keeps an open mind on new ideas. Her enthusiasm for life is contagious. You talk with her for five minutes, and you're ready to trade your bad feet for a pair of Rollerblades and skip an elevator for a bungee cord.
My lips have not touched ice cream in 10 years. I love ice cream. It's just that I might as well apply it directly to my stomach with a spatula and eliminate the digestive process. The other day, I stopped the car and bought a triple-decker. If my car had hit an iceberg on the way home, I would have died happy.
Now, go on and have a nice day. Do something you WANT to... not something on your SHOULD DO list. If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Tongue Lashing

I had to drive Amanda to school because I overslept and she missed the bus. (I told you yesterday would catch up with me.) The conversation between the girls in the backseat centered on tongue acrobatics. For example, "Can you do this?" (extend tongue out of mouth and try to touch nose, tongue taco, etc.) Then, Amanda asked, "Libby, can you do 'the Sled?'" Libby made some tongue contortion and Amanda corrected, "No, that's more like 'the Nut Hole.'"

Now, I NEED to know-- is this just my weird kid being her usual weird self? Or is she picking up on some new-fangled terminology from God-knows-who, and, if so, please tell me there is no suggestive meaning in there!

I mean, seriously, I just learned on the field trip that my 6-year-old knows how to play "Paper, Scissors, Rock" and "Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum in a Dish." And, while they are totally innocent (RIGHT?!) I haven't thought about those games in about 28 years. Plus, Amanda stuck out her middle finger at me and reported, "Mom, Kaden says this is a swear word."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Day Like Any Other

I had my first really full day in a long time-- was showered and dressed and out the door before 9 a.m. and did not return till after 7 p.m. Must mean I am finally returning to the living, although I plan to pass out when the kids go to bed and I may still pay for it tomorrow. Also must mean Todd is on another business trip, so I'm single-parenting it.

This day included riding on a school bus with 50 first and second graders to see a mediocre musical production and speeding across small towns to get to the drafter's office before it closed to pick up deck plans. There were also learning experiences: I learned sitting in a confined space with 6- and 7-year-olds is a smelly experience-- I didn't realize kids that young really stunk; and I also inadvertently learned the age-old lesson about what happens when you assume... I got a "thanks, but no thanks" for the Halloween treat basket I left for the house cleaners, who, it turns out, are Jehovah's Witnesses.

Toward the end of the day, one of my most daunting tasks still loomed: getting flu shots for the kids. I panicked on the way to the clinic, realizing it was a bad idea to come alone, because once one victim got stabbed, the others were going to hightail it out of there. However, while filling out all the requisite paperwork, the heavens opened and offered me sweet relief-- in the form of Flu Mist. The children all got the vaccine sprayed up their noses instead of poked into their legs. And then we went out for pizza.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Oh... J

Todd is not feeling well. Why is Todd not feeling well? His job is too stressful. He doesn't sleep. He travels too much. He has the world's home improvement projects on his shoulders. And, he has three children who bring home every germy germ they pick up around town.

Since he has to go on another trip this week, he is trying Todd's Foolproof Get Well Quickly method: Pump your body so full of vitamin C that you turn orange and develop a rind. About 11:30 last night (well past my prime time,) he started demanding, "Don't we have any orange juice around here?!" I try to buy orange juice only as a special treat; though the kids love it, the acidic citrus aggravates their various minor medical ailments. I said I had not purchased orange juice lately, but he could probably find a can of concentrate in the freezer.

Todd proceeded to stomp around the kitchen, making more noise than our herd of children on Christmas morning. He was opening drawers and slamming cabinet doors over and over and over again. This went on for, literally, 15 minutes. At one point, I called down the stairs, "What are you doing?" He shot back accusingly, "Looking for a pitcher! Don't we have a pitcher?!" I decided not to add to the ruckus with a screaming match and hightailed it back to bed.

This morning, while the girls and I were getting breakfast, Elisabeth opened the fridge and lugged out a rectangular Tupperware container half-full of... orange juice. "Careful with that," I said. "Looks like Daddy made orange juice." She looked at me like I was insane, but still pleaded for some. I carefully devised a way to pour out a couple inches without making Lake OJ and she sat down to her toast. Some time later, Libby said, "You know, that is the most delicious orange juice I've ever tasted." I rolled my eyes and muttered, "Of course it is. It is the best because Daddy made it." She continued creating crumbs while I emptied the dishwasher. After breakfast, Libby assured me, "Mommy, you make the second best orange juice in the world."

Monday, October 20, 2008


I do not believe in aliens. Nothing you tell me could make me believe in aliens. I believe the creation story applies to God making our world-- that's it. However, if I was on the fence, would this story really make a believer out of me?

An American fighter pilot flying from an English air base at the height of the Cold War was ordered to open fire on a massive UFO that lit up his radar, according to an account published by Britain’s National Archives on Monday.

The fighter pilot said he was ordered to fire a full salvo of rockets at the UFO moving erratically over the North Sea — but that at the last minute the object picked up enormous speed and disappeared. The account, first published in Britain’s Daily Star newspaper more than 17 years ago and to this day unverified by military authorities. (more)

WHY don't I believe in aliens? Personal preservation. It's the same reason I don't believe in ghosts. If I don't believe in the existence of aliens/ghosts then they won't appear to me/haunt me/try to abduct me.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

When Bargains Are Not

It will probably not surprise you to learn I buy my kids' Halloween costumes at a huge discount after the holiday and put them away for the next year. Now that the girls are the ripe old ages of 6 and 5, it probably also does not surprise you to learn they have shunned my selections for this season in favor of their own character choices. The Star Wars freaks (I blame their father) are demanding to go dressed as bounty hunter Boba Fett and Princess Leia (I'm sure you can figure out who wants to be which.) Even Benjamin refuses to select something from the box. He has just a touch of the same stubborn independence that is so prevalent in Krinkeland genes and demands daily, "I be Chewbunka!"

So, I gave Batman and Thomas the Tank Engine to my nephews. My sister says I have the wrong approach... just need to persuade my children to want to wear the costumes we already have. My first child was three years, three months before she was potty-trained. My second regularly wears bizarrely mismatched outfits to preschool. My third, at two years, is in the process of rotting his teeth because he still goes to bed with a sippy cup of Pediasure and sometimes wakes in the night bellowing, "I need more cup!" Persuasion is clearly not my strong suit, and, again, the resistance is genetic. When is the last time you changed my mind on something? Or Todd's?!

Today, the final eBay auction is closing on the last coveted Halloween costume we need-- so I will bid and be done. Meantime, if any of the urchins in your homes want to be genies or mermaids for Halloween, give me a shout and I'll hook you up.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

And They Said It Wouldn't Last

Today is our 12th wedding anniversary. Seems as though I just wrote about our anniversary, but an entire year has gone by. Then again, I'm always writing about an anniversary, or a birthday, or a Christmas, or a first day of school... a testament to the brevity of our time on this planet.

I won't say our life is idyllic, but we certainly can't complain. I didn't marry a saint. He didn't marry an angel. But Todd is a good man-- a good husband, a good father, a good provider, a good friend. If you want the words of a blogger who gushes in overflowing terms about her husband, check out The NieNie Dialogues. If you're interested in the intimacies of relationships divided by military deployment, visit The Johnson Journal or June Cleaver After a Six-Pack. All I can say is, we're doing the best we can, with what we have, and we're happy to have it.

The year behind us has had its share of triumphs and challenges. The year ahead will definitely bring more, particularly with the arrival of a new baby; Todd's ridiculously demanding work schedule; and our ongoing battle with the city over trying to obtain a permit for a deck and screened porch. Those are the things I know about. Each day brings surprises. But it is no surprise that I love you, Todd. Happy anniversary!

Friday, October 17, 2008

I Have Heard the Future

Amanda and Elisabeth were dancing along with a Hannah Montana video this morning when I heard Amanda exclaim, "This is like totally wicked awesome!" Later, she asked me a question-- something like "What's the biggest number?" And, while I was attempting to explain infinity, she interrupted me: "Just a second, Mom, I gotta take this call," and she held a crayon up to her ear. The imaginary phone call went on for a while, with a lot of giggling, and Amanda repeating, "I know I'm, like, totally hot, but I still won't go out with you." Oh, joy.

On the topic of annoying things kids say, Benjamin has started pointing to things he likes (a photo of his cousin on a blog, the pages of a toy catalog) and grunting, "Ooh, ooh!" like an orangutan. Also, whenever asked a simple question, such as, "Where are your socks?" he answers, "I have no idea." Yeah, it's not so cute.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

You Ain't In This Alone, Sister

Must be a bad week. I've read more blog posts and emails, and heard women grumble, "I'm not winning 'Mother of the Year' this time" more often than is typical. In response to that, and piggybacking from yesterday's post, I thought I would take it upon myself to make you all feel better by airing some of my most shameful (to date) mothering moments:

10. asked not one but three doctors whether son's genitals were of normal size
9. given no other option, once changed a baby's diaper in a corner booth at a fast food restaurant, only to be run out by disgusted patrons
8. yelled in response to daughter's obnoxious behavior, "Are you retarded?!"
7. locked 3-year-old in the bathroom with me and told her we were not leaving until she went on the potty chair
6. as I wrestled with grill in garage, did not notice toddler heading for busy road, until a passing driver stopped to rescue him
5. told daughter if anyone in her class has been sick, she should never touch that kid again, ever
4. commented to child's music teacher that I recognize my daughter is tone deaf, and teacher responded, "Parents like you quash kids' dreams!"
3. let 3- and 4-year-olds pick out paint color for bedroom walls
2. brought healthier grapes instead of the usual fruit snacks to bribe 2-year-old during doctor's checkup, but was reminded by pediatrician, "You know grapes are a choking hazard, right?"
1. to my toddler throwing a fit in a store, loudly reprimanded, "What would your mother think if she saw you acting this way?!"

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Purpose Driven Life

I'm not always sleeping so well these days. But there is an upside. During the wee hours, when I can't-get-comfortable-might-as-well-turn-on-the-television-oh-it's-4-a-m-and-there-are-only-infomercials-on-- that's when I discover my true purpose in life. Why am I a mother? Why this fourth child? It is now clear he or she is coming into the world at a time when I will have the tools to raise a child perfectly, correctly, so I can finally do everything right. I discovered this:

The brilliant offspring of the genius and me will also be potty-trained by nine months and be doing mission work in Haiti instead of attending preschool. My other incredibly intelligent children could all have done this, too, but their mommy was too busy sipping Diet Coke and munching on Sugar Babies to take the time to teach them. The Your Baby Can Read infomercial taught me the error of my ways, and, this time, I'll be ready.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Another Hot Tip or Why Don't These Companies Pay Me?

My good deal for the day comes from one of my family's favorite spots: McDonald's. For the past couple years now, I've visited the Golden Arches to pick up Halloween treats to hand out at school and home. "One McNugget for you, one McNugget for you..." Just kidding. During the first weeks of October, McDonald's sells packs of treat coupons. For just $1, you get a sheet of 12 coupons good for things like "1 free ice cream cone," "1 free child's drink," or "1 free apple dippers." The catches: the coupons are only good from 11/1 to 12/31, and they must be redeemed by children aged 12 and younger. Still, a $3 investment covers treats for all my girls' classmates, with some left over for us. I think getting one of these is better than one of those little candy bars. Plus, my kids love to go anywhere where they get to cash in something themselves.

Extra bonus: It's Monopoly Game time at McD's right now, and who doesn't love that?! Plus, I just checked the website, looking for a picture of these coupons (no dice,) but I did find out they currently have Hot Wheels and Barbie toys in the Happy Meals. Kids, get your shoes!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ain't I a Woman?

No, I'm not going to recite any more from the famous Sojourner Truth speech... I'm just going to state the sad, sad truth that is my life.

I was driving with the two younger kids in the car when Elisabeth pointed out the window to the Wal-Mart parking lot and exclaimed, "Look at all the school buses at Wal-Mart!" Since she pretty much never talks to me except to complain about how I'm doing something wrong, I decided to engage her:

Mom: "Do you think there's a field trip at Wal-Mart, or do you think all the bus drivers are taking their break there?"
Elisabeth: "Must all be girls."
Mom: "Why?"
Elisabeth: "Because only girls like to shop."
Mom: "You're a girl, and you don't like to shop."
Elisabeth: "I mean only women like to shop. You like to shop, and you're a WOMAN."

I can't really explain why, but her words hit me like a ton of bricks. I'd been avoiding thinking about it, for years, really, but it's true-- I am a woman. The girlishness is gone, and there's no going back. I can't even sneak by with young woman. I'm a wife. I'm a mother. I have gray hair and stretch marks. I wouldn't dream of shopping in the Juniors department. I get called "ma'am" in the grocery store, not "miss." Yep, I'm a woman. Bummer.

Pet for a Day

The girls really, really, really, really, really, really, really want a pet. At this stage in our family life, I am saying "No" to all pets. As we mothers all know, regardless of impassioned promises, pet care always becomes Mommy's responsibility. I know what I can handle, and my plate is full. I've told Amanda and Elisabeth they are getting a baby instead of a pet, and they should be happy with that. So, once again, that is a big, fat "NO!" to all pets:

Dog: If we got another pet, it would be a dog. Todd and I both love dogs. I know dogs are the most work, but they also bring the greatest rewards: they're cute and furry; they live a long time; they're very affectionate; they love to play. However, dogs also need to be potty-trained, taken outside, walked, groomed, and cared for by a vet. I sometimes actually believe a puppy is more work than an infant, because they come with teeth and claws and full-body hair, and their messes are not contained in diapers. Plus, I still miss our Eisenhower terribly, and cannot imagine replacing him. I told Amanda I would consider a dog when the baby (child in-utero, not Benjamin) goes to school.

Cat: I am highly allergic to cats. Also, I find them creepy. The kids can play with the cats at Grandma's and Aunt Lisa's houses. We will never get a cat.

Rodents and Reptiles: This kind of pet seems pointless to me. They require feeding and maintenance, but offer no payback. Even as a child, I was ultimately relieved when our guinea pig, Randy, died. That thing ate plastic.

Fish: Nope, not even a fish. When we had our family picture taken, Amanda asked the photographer's assistant whether she could buy one of the fish pond koi off of him for $5. We had a fish once, but even that was a big pain. I'm the one who had to remember to feed it and clean the bowl. And I'm the one who had to wipe the tears and say the eulogy when the fish went belly-up.

The girls exercise their animal instincts by trapping critters in the yard-- caterpillars, worms, whatever they can find. This weekend, it was a frog. They had Grandpa catch him and put him in a Mason jar, and then they took turns carrying him around. I'm amazed the thing survived for the one day we had him contained. He weathered earthquakes whenever Ben got hold of the jar, hailstorms of debris from Libby who insisted on shoving small twigs and pebbles through the holes in the lid (later, I would hear her muttering to herself, "Good thing I put those sticks in there...") and attempted force-feedings from Amanda who could only catch dead box elder bugs to feed the frog. They named the frog Spotty, and I agreed he could stay in our house for one day before being returned to the wild.

And, yes, the frog still ended up being a bigger burden on me than on anyone else. I awoke at 2 a.m. because I heard a strange noise. It continued intermittently, so I got up and walked around our house-- inside and outside (brilliant, I know--) to investigate. Finding nothing out of order, I went in the den and woke Todd, who had fallen asleep on the couch. "Will you come to bed?" I asked. "I keep hearing noises." He crawled upstairs and had just snuggled in when I heard it again. "Did you hear that?" I whispered. "It sounds like metal rubbing against metal. Or maybe it's air in the pipes..." We were quiet till the sound came again. Detective Todd didn't even have to raise his head off the pillow: it was that darn frog, trying to croak and hop his way to freedom.

p.s. The photo for this post was taken from the website of Winterhaven Farms, the home of the breeders who sold us Ike. If you are ever looking for a Cavalier-- the cutest dogs ever-- we recommend them.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Kitchen Karma

I was up way too early this morning (don't even ask) making a recipe, and, while trying unsuccessfully to multi-task, I melted the butter instead of softening it. Brilliantly, I made the decision to go ahead using melted butter in the mixture. After adding vanilla, sugar and three eggs, and beating it all together, I, of course, had really runny, really greasy, really sweet scrambled eggs. I was very mad at myself because eggs and butter are so expensive these days, but, for the sake of the cake, I tossed the mess and started over. This time I got it right, and the cake is good.

However, that is not the silver lining to my story. When I later checked my email, there was a message from my mom telling me that Cub Foods was having a three-day sale, with butter and eggs at $0.99! Sometimes, it's the little things...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

For Me, For You

I am not good at quoting scripture, and, therefore, rarely do it. However, this verse keeps coming back to me again and again this week; I read it on a friend's Caring Bridge site, my sister sent it to me, and it just seems to be following me wherever I go. I can certainly find meaning for my own life, from the baby to the upcoming election. I have also had the strong feeling that I need to pass it along, so maybe this means something for you, too:

"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord; they are plans for good, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Dig Me Up and Haul Me Away

I have committed botanicide.

Before I had children, I instead had beautiful house plants. In recent years, the proper care and feeding of said house plants has gone by the wayside, along with novel reading, calorie counting, and regular car cleaning. Some of my plants started looking so bad, my all-things-green-loving mother actually recommended, "Why don't you just pitch some of those poor things?"

So, I did-- just took the sorriest of the bunch and sent them to that huge greenhouse in the sky. To make things worse, Tarzan came today with his chainsaw to wipe out the oak tree I tried so valiantly to save these past two years. The house construction, landscape design and one huge pileated woodpecker were not kind to the old oak, and he bit the dust.

There is now a chlorophyll shortage in and around our home. Good news is I'm still looking pretty green.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Parts is Parts

I am one of those mothers who believes in teaching her kids the correct terms for body parts, even the private ones-- especially the private ones. It's not as though we all sit around with mirrors and copies of "Our Bodies, Ourselves..." But, I just don't get what the big deal is. We teach them eyes and nose and mouth when they're a year old. I don't want my kid going to school saying "wee willy whacker" or "ding-dong" or "hoo-ha" or some such nonsense. At the same time, the girls do call breasts "baboobies," but that's just good fun.

Now, this also isn't an issue upon which we dwell. There are no daily anatomical discussions. If a question arises, I answer it. Every so often, Elisabeth will say, "Ben has a penis. What do I have again?" The girls learned the name because they were curious upon observing their newborn brother's diaper changes. And, it's coming up again as we try (miserably) to potty train Benjamin. I'm not sure if the boy has a hearing problem or a speech problem, but every time he grabs himself and cheers, "Point my PEANUTS down!" I just have to giggle.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Making Copies

Today's one errand, sandwiched between preschool drop-off and pick-up and Benjamin's physical therapy, was to make two copies. It's one of those things you working folk don't think about... There's always a copy machine handy in the workplace. And, yes, I do realize my husband has just such a workplace, but, if you've ever met him, you know he is not reliable when it comes to doing those simple, little things for his honey.

So, I needed to make two copies of things Amanda wanted for school. I thought about going to the school and just asking the secretary if I could pay her to make them. But, since she is not my secretary, that felt a little pushy. I remembered one discount store and one gas station that both had copiers... and, upon visiting, found they used to have copiers. The one at the grocery store was down. I finally stopped at the copy shop, figuring it might cost me a bit more, but I was getting desperate and rationalized I was helping a small-town business. On the copy shop counter was a sign that stated there was a minimum $5.00 charge for any copy service-- even just one page!

I turned around and drove to the last bastion of public copier service, the library. Thank God for the Carnegies! Maybe I am a Democrat, after all. When I got home, all my suspicions about the world being out to get me were confirmed. I found this on Post Secret:

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Hey, Tootsie

Not claiming this is stellar parenting, but, I pass along a tip to anyone who may need it: (Future boyfriends and pedophiles stop reading now!) Elisabeth will do just about anything for a Tootsie Roll.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Yummy in My Tummy

Time now for the latest Queen of Krinkeland product endorsement: I am singing the praises of Kraft Bagel-fuls. These handy, little breakfast rolls have been sustaining me these past weeks. When I can eat nothing else, but find the pangs of hunger more annoying than the roller coaster ride of nausea, I pop one of these in the toaster, and have a few bites.

Even when not annoyingly nauseous, I am the only member of our family who likes bagels and cream cheese. I generally don't buy either because each would just become another petri dish in my overstuffed refrigerator. But these Bagel-fuls come four to a box (in the refrigerated or frozen breakfast section of the grocery store) and are individually packaged to presumably last a long time. And, I really kind of wish the kids did like them, because they are surprisingly un-messy-- easy to take in the car.

The whole world knows I am a fan of pre-packaged foods... Our nephews love to stand in my pantry and ooh and aah over the selection of foil-pouched wonderfulness. I'm certainly not claiming these are the most environmentally friendly or cost-effective. And, while Bagel-fuls could ne'er be described as health food, they also don't have a deplorable nutrition record. According to the Kraft website, each serving of Bagel-fuls has:

200 calories (or less)
6 g of fat (or less)
220 mg of sodium (or less)
0 g of trans fat

I just think they're good.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Bad Idea

Just my opinion, but I think a during-the-week birthday party for little kids is a bad idea. Amanda has been invited to a couple of these, and they seem to create a lot more mayhem than they're worth. We have enough trouble juggling school, homework, and piano lessons. Today, I have to get a gift, pick her up from school (because she'd be late for the party if she rode the bus home,) take a change of clothes, take her to the party, leave early with her to get to piano... and on and on and on. I know, I know, Mom-- a party invitation is just that, an invitation, but you try telling that to the world's most social six-year-old.

By the way, for the barf-o-phobes like me, I think it was something she ate. Though my last post was written in my usual dramatic style, Amanda was only actually sick for about 10 minutes.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

An Answer to Prayer

I heard rumors of the stomach flu going around the first week of school and prayed, "Dear God, I'm not ready for this. Couldn't we at least wait till October?" God heard me. Todd was last night with an ill oldest child, while I whimpered in a corner, "I can't handle this." Aren't we a great team?

Please send Purell and Clorox wipes.

In Moderation

You may have noticed when you post comments on this blog, they do not immediately appear. Some time ago, I changed the settings so I can moderate them, which basically just means I read them first and then decide whether to post them so they appear for all to see in the "Comments" section.

Krinkeland is not "private," in that anyone can read it; you don't need to sign in, and I don't have any way of tracking who comes to the site. However, it is also not part of the "public domain," meaning people should not come upon it by accident. It does not appear when one is just browsing through random blogs; you have to know the address and type it in to access Krinkeland.

However, one day, some months back, a strange comment appeared after one of my posts. It was in broken English, from someone I didn't recognize. It turned out to be a harmless ploy by another blogger to try to direct people to his/her site. But it kind of weirded me out. So, that's when I made the change... and why. I love comments and I think others like reading them, too. I post whatever I get each time I log on.