Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Catching Up

Well, this crazy-busy month has come to an end, and I haven't even had time to blog about it.  Here are some briefs to get you caught up on what's been going on in Krinkeland:

Show Stopper
Our community theater production of "Annie" is finally over.  It was an excellent experience in terms of working with a wonderful cast, the girls learning a lot and getting some good exposure, having fun as a (partial) family and promoting the theater's 25th year with audiences that averaged about 500 a night, I think.  But, I am really relieved it is all over, and I am enjoying re-acclimating into "normal mommyhood."  Here's a little secret: I attribute much of the show's success to the pre-performance prayer circles.

Critter Country
Sometime during the installation of our lawn sprinklers, a chipmunk got into our basement.  After a couple days of unsuccessful trap attempts, two kids and I returned home one afternoon to find the fat critter just sitting in our mud room.  Of course this happened when Dad wasn't home.  They blocked the entrances and I made the capture, releasing the rodent back into the "wild," but screaming all the while.

Call Me, Maybe
I have a new cell phone-- again.  This one is even bigger and fancier than the last, and was kind of a surprise... My husband had been researching, as is his custom, new phones for more than a year.  I got annoyed and chose a new phone for myself about a year ago (after Madeline threw mine in the lake, as you may imagine.)  Anyway, Todd's selection of a new phone for himself also included a change in cell phone carriers; thus, I guess, required me to get a new mobile phone, too.  I am still figuring out how to use it, so don't be offended if I don't answer when you call or text.  (It took me three calls before I figured out how to answer-- for real.)

What Birthday?!
On Sunday, I turned 38 years old.  Big whoop.

More Mileage Out of Friendship

The weekend of my birthday, also the closing weekend of "Annie," was also the weekend my lifelong friend Beth and her family visited Minnesota.  We arranged to get together on Sunday, to take her daughter and my monsters to a water park.  Though we were all pretty exhausted, it was a wonderful day.  Every (rare) time I get to spend with Beth reminds me how much we are alike, how much we have in common, and how much I wish we lived in closer proximity so we could better share our lives.

Giving the Boot the Boot
Todd has continued to hobble around on his broken foot, since the first week of June.  He has seen various orthopedists and podiatrists, gathering different opinions and medical advice, and trying out different stabilizing braces and boots.  It had kind of been presumed that a slow-to-heal fracture would NOT heal and would eventually require surgery.  However, today Todd had a consultation with an orthopedic surgeon and got the GREAT news that he is, indeed, healing!

The Skinny

I saw a skin specialist today, something I have been meaning to do for some time.  The lovely doctor there informed me that even though I am a serious sun worshipper, I have "no suspicious spots" and "excellent skin tone."  What's more, she removed two tiny skin tags under my eye that had really been bothering me.  So far, no one (including my husband) has noticed, but I think I look a lot hotter!

On Vacation

Grandma and Grandpa R. took all four children on an unexpected two-day getaway.  I am nervous, of course, for all, because I-- more than anyone-- know how much work those kids can be!  And I miss them.  But the kids were excited to go, and I am doing my best to catch up on undone chores mixed in with unread books.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Show Shots

Ever since the Blogger post format changed, I have trouble posting photo slide shows...  But, if you click here, you should be able to see some shots my SIL took during last night's "Annie" performance.  Two shows to go!  If you want to come tonight or tomorrow night and see my brilliant children in action, it's cheaper to buy tickets online.

Oh, and break a leg to my firstborn nephew Kazmer, who makes his musical theater debut tonight in SOAR Arts' production of "Willy Wonka!"  Can't wait to see it!  You should, too.  Click here for more information.


I just gotta record these for posterity, so I'll always remember that my three-year-old had a language all her own:

Widdy-- Libby
Amayah-- Amanda
pockeral-- Popsicle
medayis-- medicine
shokrit-- chocolate
nillYAH-- vanilla
Dock-a-Muffin-- Doc McStuffins (one of her favorite Disney Junior shows)
ogre-- yogurt

Madeline also uses "much" to describe EVERYTHING.  It's a good thing the word pops up as different forms of speech...  She uses it mostly incorrectly in all applications, but it's so cute:

"I ate ALL my lunch; my tummy is so much full."
"My finger not so much hurting now; it's all better."
"It's so much stinky in here."
"'Dis so much 'picy!"

And, my favorite: "I wuv you SO MUCH, Mommy!"

Hey, Free Life Jacket!

I was driving along a county road this afternoon when I noticed something tumbling down the center line.  It was a life jacket.  Must have blown out of someone's boat or pick-up truck bed, I'm guessing.  I can't really explain it, but I had this odd sense of deja vu... as though, on a previous occasion, I had seen a life jacket sitting along this same stretch of road.

I cannot really imagine what kind of significance this could hold-- whether there's symbolism in the life jacket, or it's a sign from beyond, or what.  I just know that, even though it was a busy day and I was really in a hurry, I felt compelled to turn around and get that life jacket.

So, I did.

After a quick u-turn and a zip back to where the life jacket was still flapping in the breeze, I slowed the car and pulled onto the shoulder.  Amanda volunteered to jump out and pick up the jacket.  Of course, she did.  I coached her about watching traffic, and she grabbed the jacket and got back into the car.  Amanda commented that it was a really nice, quality life jacket, in good working order, and just the size most of the kids in our family currently wear.

She also commented that I was becoming a trash collector, like certain other people we know.  But I just kept thinking of the Jack Handey quote, except a life jacket is a lot more useful than a mannequin-- or a body:

"If you ever fall off the Sears Tower, just go real limp, because maybe you'll look like a dummy and people will try to catch you because, hey, free dummy."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

All for Show

After just two days off to recoup and recover, we had a brush-up rehearsal this evening, heading into the second weekend of performances for the community theater musical "Annie."  In the car, the girls revealed their true colors about the Actor's Life:

Her Father's Daughter
"I just miss everybody so much.  I wonder what all my friends have been doing with all this time off.  I can't wait to see them again.  I can't wait to get back to the show!  I bet everyone is as excited as I am!"

Her Mother's Daughter
"I kind of can't wait to get back to my regular life.  The only thing that's getting me worked up is knowing I have to do another whole weekend of this before we're done."

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"If I Wring Little Necks, Surely I Would Get an Acquittal!"

I lost my mind again today.

Just lost it.

For real.

It happened when I attempted to take four children on an excursion to choose eyeglasses for two of those children.  Kids and eyewear shops do not mix.  Kids and eyewear shops really don't mix when one of those kids is scratching off her arms from hives and another is just a general pain in the butt, and when the two people working in the eyewear shop have a combined IQ of somewhere close to the day's high temperature.

Blame it on the rain.

Yep, it was also raining, which did not help matters any.

Three stores and six hours after the "fun" trip to pick out glasses began, we were finally done.  I had cried and sworn in front of my children, as well as threatened each and every one of them.  I am not proud.

I don't care what you think of these darn glasses when they come in-- you better say they are the cutest eyeglasses you have ever laid eyes on.  Seriously.

Unfortunately, things did not improve once we finally knocked the glasses task out of the park.  I screamed at my kids when they asked for cake and ice cream after not eating supper.  I screamed at everyone when they "lost" the dog in our own house.  I screamed at the bath toys that managed to scatter themselves all around the tub just moments after I had dried them off and put them away in the cupboard.  I screamed at my husband who was playing a video game just to ignore me.  I really screamed when I opened the refrigerator and a fruit tray fell out, splattering my feet and the kitchen floor.

While I was down on my hands and knees, scrubbing watermelon juice from the base of the refrigerator, my children stood by quietly.  I muttered that either this musical was really getting to me, or else they were behaving like rotten orphans.

Let's just hope the sun comes out tomorrow.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tired and Happy (Can't Think of a More Creative Title)

We are all tired and happy after a busy, busy weekend of "Annie" performances.  My lids are getting heavier and heavier as I type.  But, here is a partial list of things that are making me grin right now:

*My kids are super-talented, if I do say so myself.
*Everyone who sees "Annie" is wowed by my husband and the work he does both on-stage and backstage.
*For the first time, Todd and I got our big slugs of Diet Dew mixed up, because BOTH the straws had lipstick on them.
*Before every show, a large group (the majority of the actors) gathers for a prayer circle.  Really.
*SO many friends have already come to see the show... Some have plans to come more than once.  I have great friends.
*I am learning from this director that a gentler approach can work; it really can.
*We had a fun cast party after today's matinee.  My mother-in-law helped greatly, running the kitchen.  The kids all played in the lake.  I thought a lot about how fun it is to just be around teenagers-- listening.

Friday, July 20, 2012


I neglected to mention something significant that happened yesterday: Benjamin cut Madeline's hair. Yep, the six-year-old took a scissors to the three-year-old's head-- before I was even out of bed. I got up, walked into the toy room, and spotted a pile of hair.

When I asked, "Who did this?!" Madeline said, "Ben did." When I asked, "WHY?!" Ben said, "Because she wanted me to."

It's been a long time since anyone played beauty shop in Krinkeland. In fact, I think Elisabeth was the only other one to ever make an attempt; when she was just a toddler, she took a little hunk out of her bangs.

This was the entire side of Maddy's head-- at least he missed the ear-- and three or four inches in length. The girl had been needing a haircut, for months, but I was procrastinating... kind of liking the length.

It's one of those times when it's good to have a friend who is a stylist. She got things as even as she could, and taught me how to make pin curls (for the play) at the same time. And, of course, Maddy looks as adorable as ever.

Still, I hopefully filed out punishments heavy enough to keep this from ever happening again. I fear for Jones if someone gets a wild hair to play dog grooomer.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

She Loves Me, She Really Loves Me

Our sitter and friend brought the two little children to see the final dress rehearsal of the musical this evening.  It wasn't actually an "open" rehearsal, but a few other "guests" were in attendance, and I figured it was safer to bring them to this almost-show than to risk having them disrupt a couple hundred paying audience members.  Turns out, I am pretty smart.

Kailee said Benjamin sat well through the whole show.  In his young six years, Ben has already seen some shows, so I kind of expected that would be the case.  Madeline, on the other hand, had some troubles.  Now, there were some indisputable factors in play:
1.  It was waaay past her bedtime.
2. She was sitting by her main antagonist, her brother.
3, She is three.

One of the tough spots was at the beginning of the second act, when, apparently, Madeline started crying because she wanted to see Mommy.  This kind of makes sense, because I am on stage at the beginning of the first act, but, after intermission, I don't appear until scene two.  Then, at the end of the show, Kailee reported that Madeline just lost it.  She was wailing, and out of her mind.

Following the curtain call, by the time I went to retrieve my children, all seemed well.  Well, Kailee was a little worse for the wear, but the kids were fine, at least.  On the car ride home, I didn't even have to ask Madeline what was the trouble.  She volunteered:  "I didn't like that when that man hurt you, Mommy.  I didn't want that man to hurt you!"

In the final scene, when Rooster and Lily are uncovered, Miss Hannigan, too, gets dragged off-stage (literally) by the butler, Drake.  I guess we put up a pretty believable fight... at least in the mind of a three-year-old.  I reassured my daughter that it was all pretend, that we were just "playing."

After we got home, Madeline seemed reassured.  As we sent her off to bed, she said, "I liked the play.  I liked that Mommy didn't really get hurt."  And, again, when we were saying prayers and reliving Three Good Things, Maddy said, "Fank you for the wunnerful day,  Fank you for that man NOT hurt Mommy."

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Waiting in the Wings

We are headed into the home stretch with our summer community theater commitment.  Come Friday, the curtain goes up on "Annie," with me and three other Krinkeland stars in the cast.  If you   live in the area-- or plan to visit either of the next two weekends-- you should try to see the show.  I'm not tooting my own horn...  You should see the show because art is a good thing in life, and supporting community theater builds community.  Plus, our kids are super-cute in this show.

This is the hardest working man in show business.  Boy is in every scene, I swear-- I can't keep track if I am going home with Howe or Man #2 or the servant or the hot dog vendor.

This is our little Molly.  Elisabeth is small and sassy, loud and mischievous.  She does a mean Hannigan impression, and she will have your heart from the show's opening line.

Amanda plays another of the ornery orphans.  She is hard-working and dedicated to making you smile.  You will,

Finally, well, what can I say?  The drunkenness comes naturally.

Show dates are July 20-22 and 26-28.  There's one matinee and one ASL-interpreted performance.  Get your tickets through the Buffalo Community Theater website, or at the door.  Wish us broken legs!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Scary Mommy

I regularly request books from the library.  It's a pretty slick system, in this technological age-- I hear about or read about some book that interests me, I go online to the library's website, I punch in my library card number and the title, and I click the Request Title button.  Then, I get an email from the library system telling me the book is waiting for me on the hold shelf, and all I have to do is stop in and pick it up.  It works.


Today, after receiving a couple of email notices, I the went in to the library and could not find any books on hold for me.  (They are arranged, on segregated shelving, by card number.)  After hunting high and low, and when I was just about to go ask the librarian when I noticed a separate stack of books.  Yes, the stars aligned and so many of my book requests had arrived that they had to make a special shelf, just for me.

Most of the books I request are popular, best sellers, and there are often long waiting lists for some of the titles.  If I don't pick up a book by the designated date, it goes back into the queue for the next reader.  If I pick up a book but do not read it by its due date, I cannot renew the title.  I am sure there are ways around this dilemma or better ways to handle the situation, but I have not figured them out.  So, I checked out, literally, like 20-some books.  I will have to read one every day to get them all back in time.

Plus, since I am raising four children and a puppy; and acting in a community theater production which opens FRIDAY; and trying to keep up on all my volunteering obligations at church and school and Birthright; and still hosting our usual roster of summertime lake company; and supervising a lawn sprinkler crew in my yard (forced cold drinks on them in the heat this afternoon); all while trying to keep up with this blog and the bizarre pissing matches my former classmates are having on Facebook over planning a reunion, I just have TONS of free time for recreational reading.

I decided I am going to have to be more selective.  Put down a book if it isn't doing anything for me.  Skim through the long, descriptive parts.  Read the last page first and then decide if it's worth going back.

Here's one I picked up and put down, just tonight: "Confessions of a Scary Mommy" by Jill Smokler.  The book is billed as realistic reflections on motherhood, and is actually a memoir by this young, funny, formerly professional, mommy blogger.  Sound familiar?

Now, I do not mean to toot my own horn.  I do realize I am not a New York Times bestselling author, and this blog is by no means a vessel for the masses.  But, if you are a fan of the Scary Mommy blog, there is no reason to read this book-- it's redundant.  Likewise if you are, or have ever been, a parent of young children.  Let me rephrase-- an honest parent of young children.  Parenthood is messy, noisy, ugly work... not all fun and games... and you have to laugh about it, or you'd cry about it.

So, when I started reading this book, for the first chapter or two, I kind of thought it was written by me.  It was narrated by a woman who had been married a number of years, had a career she loved, doted upon her first "baby"-- a dog, and didn't really have plans for other "children."  Then, she tinkled on the stick and all heck broke loose.  A weight-gaining-breast-pump-using-organic-baby-food-making-Montessori-studying-stretch-mark-bemoaning tornado wreaked a path of destruction through the writer's life.  She chose to share the gory details, and other people laughed.

I get it.  I live it.  I don't need to keep reading it.  On to the next in the stack.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Calm Before the Storm

Well, it's been another busy, fun weekend... You might think things calmed down after Benjamin's big Rave Party on Friday, but, nooo, that's not how we roll in Krinkeland.

After a long "Annie" rehearsal on Friday evening, we returned to the theater for an all-day-Saturday rehearsal.  In the morning, we sang through the songs with the pit orchestra; in the afternoon, following a potluck lunch with immense amounts of food, it was the cue-to-cue tech rehearsal.  A long and trying day, but one that hopefully brings us closer to a successful opening night! 

While Todd, Amanda, Elisabeth and I were there, Madeline was home with the sitter.  It's pretty great to be a three-year-old when you get Kailee all to yourself.  They played Barbies and baby dolls, rode bikes, went shopping for sparkly, pink nail polish and even stopped for ice cream! 

And she wasn't the only lucky Krinkeland Kid: Benjamin headed out in the morning for an all-day-all-night birthday adventure with Auntie Lisa.  I still don't know everything those two did, but the details divulged by my son included a visit to the A'Maze'n Farmyard, taking in a movie (followed by no supper because they ate too much popcorn and candy!) and camping out at Grandma and Grandpa Krinke's lake place.  After all that, I believe we have finally wrapped up the turning-six festivities.

Some friends stopped by for a boat ride and a little Rave jumping last evening, but then it was straight to bed.  We were all WIPED OUT.  So, after church this morning, I declared a DAY OF RELAXATION.  It was Culver's for lunch, and then two kids down for naps and two kids down to the lake.  I read my book, while the big girls jumped and swam.  Once everyone was up and at 'em again, we launched Ben's little boat for its maiden voyage.  What fun!  Between rowing that thing and taking turns on the Jet Ski and riding in the big boat, we didn't even realize we'd missed supper until it was after eight o'clock!

My husband is still on the end of the dock, casting into the twilight.  It's his happy place.  Great day.  Great life.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Celebrating Six!

Today, our Number One Son is six years old.  What an exciting day!  It began with the sunrise, when our amped-up Big Boy made his way downstairs and exclaimed, "Whoa!  That thing's huge!  Can I get in it?"  He was referring to his gift, of course, an inflatable fishing boat, which Dad set up last night in the living room.  Ben's sisters were equally excited, so that's nice.
Around mid-morning, some of our friends began to arrive for a little swimming play date that doubled as an un-official birthday party for Benjamin.  Early-morning storms had cleared and it was a beautiful day.  There was plenty of swimming, sand-castle building and launching off the water trampoline.  We mamas just kept counting heads... and we didn't lose a one.

Following lunch and a round of "Happy Birthday" with cupcakes... and another hour or two back in the water... the storm clouds rolled back in, so we cleaned up the mess and put away our toys and rolled into the house.  Everyone was just plain worn out, so Birthday Boy and Little Sister had a small snooze.  By the time they awoke, Daddy was home and the skies were again dry, so the boys could head outside to try out Ben's gift from Grandma and Grandpa R.-- a remote-controlled speed boat.

After a birthday dinner of teriyaki chicken and pot stickers, the rest of us headed off to rehearsal, and Ben and Maddy settled in to watch a movie with their beloved Kailee... in the new boat.
What a big day!  It's all part of a BIG week-- it began with a family celebration at Grandma and Grandpa P.'s house on Sunday, and continued with a special birthday dinner with Grandma and Grandpa R. on Thursday.  And tomorrow, Ben gets to go on a birthday adventure with Aunt Lisa.  What a lucky birthday boy!

And what a huge year this will be for our son!  In a few short weeks, he is definitely headed to kindergarten... before the state intervenes.  Ben has set some lofty goals for the coming year: riding the school bus, learning to ride a bike without training wheels, learning to tie his shoes, gaining more weight to hit 40 pounds.  I don't know which one of us is more excited!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


Ever since I got my satellite radio subscription as a Mother's Day gift, the car has been a happier place in which to ride.  I love to have the music on, and there are so many choices, I am constantly scrolling through the stations, from "80s on 8" to "Hair Nation" and, naturally, I always come back to my favorite, "On Broadway."  However, unless the show tune is from a show they know (which are few and far between) the kids constantly whine for me to switch to some Top 40 station.  This presents some obstacles.

First, the Top 40 format is annoying.  I know this for a fact, having begun my "media" career as first an intern and then a promotion coordinator for a Top 40 radio station.  Now that I'm a grown-up, I find not only the format but also the songs themselves to be really, really annoying.  My 10-year-old is obsessed with Justin Bieber.  My husband is obsessed with Katy Perry.  Enough said.

The larger issue is this: the lyrics/subject matter/tone of most of these songs is entirely inappropriate for 8- and 10-year-old ears.  Most of the time, the topic is thinly veiled with euphemisms and catchy beats.  So, even though I know what's really being sung, these youngsters do not.

Case in point: Elisabeth whined and complained when I turned the channel away from this Flo Rida tune.  But, how do I explain to my second grader that I don't want her singing "Can you blow my whistle, baby?" 

They love to move and groove to their Just Dance video game, especially this song called "Forget You" by Cee Lo Green.  It is kind of catchy, and, after dancing along who-knows-how-many times, Dad let them download the song onto their iPods.  Well, when you get a song on your playlist, the iPod screen displays the corresponding album cover.  When Amanda went to play this song on her iPod for the first time, she took one look at the screen and handed it over to me (to head off the eruption, I'm guessing.)  Cee Lo Green's album is called "F*ck You."

I have already mentioned how Todd likes Katy Perry (can you say "mid-life crisis?") and he and the girls jam along to her music.  But, I nearly lost my mind-- and my lunch-- the first time I heard my sweet, innocent, darling baby belt out "Let's go all the way tonight, No regrets, just love," from "Teenage Dream."  Let me reiterate: She did not know what she was saying.  I did.

So, that is part of my dilemma: How do I handle this?  When a song with inappropriate lyrics comes on the radio, I switch the station, explaining the song is just that-- inappropriate.  But my children ask, "Why?  What does it mean?"  What am I supposed to say?  The proverbial "You'll understand when you're older?"

I know this is not a new quandary.  For my 11th birthday, a family friend took me shopping to choose a gift, and I came home with my first boom box and a cassette tape with this cover:

I am certain my parents did not approve; but I do know I got to keep it.  Maybe there's a way to separate the art?  I mean, I do certainly appreciate Madonna for the artist she was then and still is... But can that be separated from the image she presented to young girls, an image that they passed on to other young girls?

I am not sure where I'm going with this, except to say I am glad Sirius XM Radio has The Catholic Channel, too.

Monday, July 9, 2012

What Does My Dream Mean?!

I had a dream...  This is a true story-- one in serious need of some analysis:  The other morning, one of the kids woke me up ridiculously early.  I got her back to sleep and returned to bed myself, falling asleep and having the most vivid dream:

I was a young, black, male slave on a plantation in the South.  I was one of a number of slaves that had been accused and "convicted" of some or another "crime" against the slave master.  There was one master of the plantation, who did not at first appear, along with two white, male "pit bosses," for lack of a better term.  These men were in charge of overseeing the slaves in the fields and wherever else they worked.  But, in my dream, it was D-Day-- time for the "criminals" to pay the ultimate price for their wrongdoings.

There was a lake on the plantation property.  Each white man was in charge of a boat.  Onto one boat climbed the other white family members, dressed to the nines, with parasols to block the sun.  This was to be their entertainment.  The white supervisor man who rowed that boat was also armed with a gun.  Into the other boat climbed all the offending slaves, including me. 

The two boats were rowed to the middle of the lake.  Then, all the slaves stood up in a line in one boat, and the boss from the other boat went down the row, shooting each slave; the bodies were then cast into the water.  I was last in line. 

When it was just me and the white man in the boat, he called across to the other driver and told him I was stubborn, and insisted on going the hard way.  Both men agreed, and, instead of shooting me, the white man handed me a huge boulder and shoved me overboard.  The idea was that I would drown slowly instead of being quickly shot to death.  Now, in my mind, this was all part of my prearranged plan, and it was working beautifully.  I had trained for this escape for a long time, and knew I would have to hold my breath for minutes, swimming all the way across the lake underwater, before finally crawling out to safety and freedom.

I jumped-- or was pushed-- out of the boat, entered the water, and dropped the stone.  I held my breath and swam and swam and swam, until I was sure everyone else assumed me dead.  The far edge of the lake was very near the huge plantation house, and this figured into my escape plan: I knew I would have to crawl through the underbrush and then throughout the bowels of the big house to eventually make it off plantation property. 

I continued making my way through dirt floors in the home's basement.  I had to cross very near the plantation owner's office, and I could hear him in there, talking.  I was nearly out a side door to head for the woods when I heard the Big Man coming.  I quickly hid under a blanket, knowing there was a strong possibility I would be found, but believing the master to be a not-so-awful, even merciful man, that, even if he did catch me, he may let me live.

Sure enough, the master approached my quivering lump and lifted the corner of the blanket where I was hiding.  Seeing that it was me, he said simply, "Well, you're on your own now."  Then, he replaced the blanket corner.

Then I woke up.

Here's the kicker: the plantation master was Todd.

I swear I am not making this up.  Since I had children and became permanently sleep-deprived, I  hardly ever remember my dreams.  But this was so vivid, both with what happened and with what I "knew" for the person I was in the dream.  Unfortunately, the Dream Doctor died last year, so I really don't know where to turn for advice on WHAT ALL THIS MEANS!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Dressing the Part

While shopping at Target (of course) this week, I bought this dress and I was so proud of myself.  My oldest daughter actually talked me into it, instead of the black one I would have typically picked.  I put it on to wear to church this morning, and I was feeling pretty good about myself.  Even my husband said, "Well, isn't that something?" (which I took as an actual compliment.)  It wasn't until I returned from church and floated through the house making lunch that I realized I did not look good at all-- I looked like Mrs. Roper.

Things That Make You Go "Hmmm..."

Came across this editorial from yesterday's New York Times-- just something to think about.  I'm nothing if not... conservative, married, with children, and an extremist!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Taking the Plunge

Benjamin and Madeline have really been making great strides (strokes?) lately in the water. They are getting stronger and braver and are developing true swimming skills. We haven't even gotten around to planning some swimming lessons this season, but Kailee has been babysitting so much, we could probably squeeze in some instruction.

On the Fourth of July, those two spent a LOT of time at the end of the dock, with Daddy and Grandma R., two people who definitely have the patience I do not. Ben, in particular, just kept jumping and jumping and jumping.  He is brave enough to swim out to the Rave water trampoline (wearing a life jacket) and has even jumped in a few times.

It's been such a nice change from our usually timid foot-dragger. We have spent at least part of every day the rest of this week in the water, continuing to push Ben and Maddy to push themselves.

This evening we took out the boat, and all the kids rotated tube rides. Then, we stopped the boat so all the kids could jump in and swim around in the middle of the lake. And they did. All of them.

Todd decided it was time to see if Jones could swim... And, even though it freaked out Elisabeth-- who loudly accused her dad of trying to KILL her dog-- he put the puppy in the water with Amanda. It was SO cute!

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Lunch Box of Life

I got to take my second-born alone on errands and a little lunch date. Gave us a chance to talk, really talk. (That's kind of an inside joke, as the girl generally tells NOTHING to her dear old mother.) I asked Elisabeth whether she was excited about third grade. She said she was not (exactly what I would expect Libby to say) but then pointed out that it was to be expected, because all the "big" things already happened in second grade-- things like First Communion, lost teeth, her teacher having a baby.

But, it's the not-so-big thing that really made me smile: "Of course, the thing I was MOST excited about last year turned out to be a total bust," Libby said. "LUNCH BOXES."

Yes, my expression alone prodded my baby to elaborate.

"You see, Mom, one of the jobs in second grade is Lunch Boxes.  I was so excited to do it, because when I was in kindergarten and Amanda was in second grade, sometimes she would come to my classroom to deliver the lunch boxes and I couldn't wait until I was as big as my sister so I could do Lunch Boxes, too.  But, then, this year, I got to be on Lunch Box Duty, and all that meant was that I picked up the big bin where all the kids put their lunch boxes at the end of lunch and I delivered it back to the classrooms.  It wasn't any fun at all."

I couldn't help but think Elisabeth is now better prepared for adult life and the real world-- which can sometimes be a lot like Lunch Boxes.

Nothing to Fear, But...

Elisabeth sometimes seems afraid of everything.  It is difficult for me to discern what is fear and what is just and act (and I am sure there is some of each) but it is obvious she is, at times, truly afraid, panicked, even.  Some of Libby's fears seem "normal" for a girl of her age and place in life, and some seem totally irrational and/or blown out of proportion.  For example, she recently awakened me in the early hours of morning to tell me she'd had a bad dream.  She dragged blankets and pillows and made a nest on the floor next to my bed; but, no matter how I tried, I could not get Libby to calm down.  After literally an HOUR of praying, practicing square breathing, talking about "nice" thoughts, planning out the coming day, rubbing her arms and her back, and everything else I could think of, we finally had to get up and walk hand-in-hand through the house, checking and double-checking that every door and window was closed and locked so the Boogey Man would not get her.  I drew the line when she asked me to go outside and walk around the house.

On the Fourth of July, Elisabeth started shrieking and screaming as the neighbors lit off fireworks.  It was such an extreme reaction for an eight-year-old, we all kind of wanted to laugh... and that could actually have been what Libby hoped to achieve.  But it was hard to tell for sure.  After a short time, her carrying-on got really annoying, and Grandma told her if she was really afraid, she should just go in the house; otherwise, she should shut up.  She shut up.

This evening, I made the mistake, after checking my phone at play rehearsal, of telling the girls our area was under a severe thunderstorm watch.  I reassured them that "watch" meant basically nothing, and, so, there was nothing to fear.  Libby has a MASSIVE fear of thunderstorms.  As we left rehearsal, the dark clouds were rolling over and the wind picked up.  On the short drive home, flashes of lightning electrified the sky.  Libby began whimpering and cowering next to Amanda in the back seat.

"Mom," Amanda began, "do you remember when I was really little, like two or three, and I was really afraid of storms, and even the slightest bit of thunder would send me running into your room?"  I told her honestly that I did not remember that, but it would not surprise me, as lots of children are afraid of thunderstorms.  (Note the sibling clinging to your arm.)  "Well, I remember doing that, and I always remember what you told me, because it made me not be afraid of storms, anymore."

Tell us, Dear Child, and impart that wisdom on the sister who is currently hyperventilating.

"You said, 'Amanda, if you're going to scare yourself silly over something as simple as a little thunderstorm, you're going to have a long and hard life.'"  I said that-- to a three-year-old?!  Boy, I'm smart-- and heartless.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Celebrating Independence!

We are all exhausted, sunburned, bug-bitten, over-full, happy, and FREE.

Monday, July 2, 2012

New Menu Item

There is hope for them yet.
In this heat, who wants to cook?  Not me, that's for sure.  It's even too hot to put something on the grill.  But we cannot have cold sandwiches or go out for every meal.  Plus, we are trying to eat healthier meals; we really are.  Early in the day, I devised a menu that I was excited about, but I was pretty sure I'd be the only one: chicken lettuce wraps, pot stickers, fruit, and slices of banana bread (for those whom I was sure would turn up their noses at the lettuce wraps and pot stickers.)

It was super-simple-- the most tedious tasks were dicing the cooked chicken and washing and drying the lettuce leaves.  I used some already grilled chicken breasts, along with a premade garlic peanut sauce.  The pot stickers just needed to be steamed, the lettuce and the fruit washed, the bread sliced.  I also sliced some green onions and chopped some peanuts to garnish the lettuce wraps, because I am fancy that way.

Here's where things get interesting: I put the food on the table, called the family to it, explained how to assemble the dishes; and they listened, followed suit, and ATE!  Well, all but Madeline, who consumed five grapes and declared her tummy full-- but what can you really expect from a three-year-old?  Elisabeth, whose typical diet consists of PB&J and raised donuts, ate an entire lettuce wrap and two pot stickers.  By the way, I have served pot stickers on numerous previous occasions and Libby would not even get close enough to smell them.  In usual Libby fashion, after I explained a lettuce wrap was like an Asian taco, using the lettuce leaf like a tortilla, she asked for shredded cheese.  But, whatever-- she ate!  Benjamin ate two full wraps and asked for more.

Amanda, who is usually pretty good about trying new things, did have part of a wrap along with the pot stickers she loves, even though she commented the chicken was "really hot" (and it did have a kick.)  I danced upstairs to change the laundry, as Todd got home just in time to catch the tail end of dinner on the table.  When I went back downstairs, he had served himself-- and put the chicken on a bun!  Oh, well, he said that was pretty good, too.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Frequent Flier

Todd was unpacking from his most recent trip and he gave Amanda and Elisabeth each a "gift"-- these little goody bags handed out by flight attendants to first-class passengers.  It's like a little, zippered dopp kit, containing: an eye mask, ear plugs, a shoe horn and a shoe shine sponge, lip balm, slipper socks and other fun gadgets.  The girls were thrilled.  "Wow," Amanda said.  "You are so lucky that you always get to fly first class.  I bet you wouldn't want to go back to cargo."

A Dog's Day

This evening, more than an hour before "bedtime," I was walking from room to room, picking up and putting away piles, when I noticed Jones settled into his crate.  I knew why-- it had been a long, busy, hot day, and everyone wanted to be off puppy duty.  I walked into the den, where all four children and their father were getting ready to watch a movie or play a video game, and asked, "Why is the dog in his box?"  Guilty eyes cast down.  "No, forget that question.  I know why you locked up Jones-- no one wanted to watch him.  Right?  Well, how would you like it if every time I got tired of taking care of all of you, I just locked you in a box and walked away?"

The one who I knew would get the message got it.  Amanda went to the dog, took him out of his crate, cuddled him, and hooked up his leash for a little walk around the yard.  When they returned, she found his favorite squeaky toys and called Jones to play.  She really does love that dog and never complains about taking care of him-- even when his "playing" ripped a hole in her new, favorite dress.  I began to worry I had spoken too harshly.

Gently, I put my hand on my daughter's shoulder and explained, "If you don't pay attention to a dog, he will act up.  If you neglect him, he will become listless and lose the desire to play.  If you are unkind, he will turn mean."  Amanda was quiet for a moment and then said, "I know, Mom-- just like a person.  It's the same with people."