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Showing posts from October, 2010

7 Quick Takes: Volume 17

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Welcome to Friday! You made it, I made it, we all made it. Please visit Jen at Conversion Diary for her Quick Takes and links for everyone else is playing along.

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We are going on a field trip today to an art gallery! A local artist is featuring his watercolor work. Oh, and the local artist is my dad. I'm not sure if photography is allowed, but if it is, I will post pictures later. You can also view his work at this link.

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I am currently reading The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. From what I had heard of this book, I had the impression that it was a very heavy psychological examination of a dysfunctional family. And I suppose, it sort of is, but it's so much more than that. First of all, as Homemaker Man told me in a comment, it is very, very funny. And again, it's more than funny, too. I am struck by Franzen's observations of people and relationships, and his searing way of describing them. He is one of those writers who dares to go where most of us…

Nothing Grand

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Morning's first light is grand.

Peace and promise are in my hand.

The early child's an angel,

Until the next ones do finagle.

So whispers rise to shouts.

So screams derive from pouts.

So my day goes down the drain.

Nothing grand can I sustain.


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With respect to Robert Frost.

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Homeschool Challenge

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We have been homeschooling for about two months now, and WOW! My kids have had some amazing opportunities to do some really interesting things. Rock climbing, farm visits, science classes, outdoor education hikes, theatre, carpentry, art, and the list goes on. The majority of the "schooling" they are doing is coming to them in the form of adventures and experiences that light them up.

Zing! Exactly what we were shooting for.

One of my greatest challenges, however, is getting them to do some very few things I want them to do, or need them to do for the Charter School we are enrolled in. I see that as my motivation to get creative. So they don't want to learn about history? Maybe I can think of a book to read to them or a movie to show them that covers a given topic. They turn their noses up at math? Time to do some baking and measuring.

But how does one get creative when it comes to reading books? This morning, one of my kids told me: "I just don't like to…

You know you have a big family when...

...paper plates are one of your guilty pleasures.

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7 Quick Takes: Volume 16

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Recommended perusing: This week, the radio program Fresh Air featured an interview with Harold McGee, a chef who has a new book out and who had all kind of interesting things to say about cooking and food science. Fascinating. And for a fledgling cook like me, who is forever pondering the difference between wood cutting boards vs. plastic ones, the show was an education.
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Recommended listening: Playing for Change: Peace Through Music. I am watching PBS right now, in a Friday evening red wine-soaked haze, and the station is featuring the story behind this incredible CD. On the CD, the producer took the song Stand By Me, recorded a musician "in the joy business" in L. A. playing it, and then went all over the world to record musicians playing along with that recording. Beautiful! Listen. Buy.
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Recommended attitude adjustment: For my 4 year old. Who asked me ever so sweetly yesterday if I will forever be her mommy. When I said yes, she said: "But what …

Life is a Mystery

This weekend, I stayed cheerful and energized despite the fact that I was subjected to these and like-minded comments for two days straight:We have the most boring tasteless breakfasts. Everyone else eats better food. Why can’t we have better breakfasts? I eat toast every single morning.Are you serious? Why do I have to clip my nails? You make us do the stupidest things.This is going to be the worst day of my life.Has dad ever cleaned up around here?I hate this. I’m going to be basically cleaning the house all day. This is so stupid.We never get to do anything fun. We need a better house.I have to do everything around here. You never tell anyone else to do anything.* * *Three different kids said that last one to me within an hour of each other, which provides you with all the evidence you need to take absolutely everything my children say with one large dose of salty salt.How is it possible that I love them more than life itself, these people who harangue me at every turn, who…

7 Quick Takes: Volume 15

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Visit the Hostess of 7 Quick Takes Friday. Learn a thing a two about killing scorpions.

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Four birthdays in six weeks ended this past Wednesday. But two of the parties are still pending, so we can't quite say we are finished yet. I'll be finished just in time to raise my head wearily from a pillow and realize it's time to start shopping for Christmas presents.
As my babies get older, I find myself staring at little newborns and getting all misty-eyed and wistful. Babies are pure possibility, pure potential, pure opportunity to be the best we can be. Toddlers...school kids...pre-teens...well, they also represent potential and hope and possibility, but mine also provide all those moments when I am less than who I want to be, the moments I yell too much, or lack consistency, or make the wrong decision.
It gets so much more complicated as they get older. Children growing up is a true test of one's belief in second chances and never giving up. It's never too la…

Solano Playlot

My neighborhood is in the running for $25,000 to renovate a local playground. Currently, the space is a dismal patch of mostly dirt and some tired metal equipment. A group of people in the community adopted it and are planning to transform it into a place children can actually play.
YOU CAN HELP MAKE THIS HAPPEN!
Please go to the link below, register (a quick and painless process) and then:
Vote for the Solano Playlot!
Next, go directly to your to do list, write a new bullet point that says Do Something Good For Children Today, and then cross that sucker off.
Voting ends tomorrow; you can vote once per day. So add that same bullet point to tomorrow's list as well.
I thank you. My children thank you. The Solano Play folks thank you. (<------- That link will tell you more about the people involved in making this happen.)
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Parenting 101

By 9am, the kids have already given their bickering and arguing muscles robust work outs. By 9am, the breakfast dishes have taken over the kitchen, and don't seem inclined to clean themselves. By 9am, I've seen disgust, anger, defiance, and tears. By 9am, it is clear that what is needed here is a new paradigm, a shift in the family pattern we've fallen into of late.
Parenting seems to be a continual process of returning to who we know we should be for our kids.
Two of the biggest challenges I face as a mother are: (1) Finding the motivation to do repetitive, mundane tasks, such as doing laundry, washing dishes, and correcting misbehavior. The seemingly immediate need to do it all over again lays me low. And (2) Continually finding the patience to show the kids how to be patient and kind with each other. Based on their finely honed ability to be searingly sarcastic with each other, I know they are capable of learning things from me. I'd like to see them be kind…

Something New Under the Sun

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Well. We had a new thing happen around here last night. This is a first for us.
My 8 and 5 year-old daughters are in bunk beds, with the younger one on the top bunk these days. They switch sometimes. Long about midnight, I heard this little one crying desperately in her room. She sounded completely panicked, and as I rushed to her room, I fully expected to find her in a puddle of vomit. Instead, she was sitting, immobilized, at the top of her ladder. No vomit. But she could not move because she had to pee so badly (apparently, we had neglected the most critical of the bedtime routine steps). Actually, by the time I got there, she was sobbing uncontrollably and gasping out between sobs: "I....can't....hold....my....peeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" Sure enough, she started going. Over the slats of her bed. Right above her sister's head. Right down onto her sleeping sister's head and pillow.
The challenge before me was to soothe the pee-er and move the pee-ee, witho…

7 Quick Takes: Volume 14, The Crazy Saturday Edition

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Welcome to Friday everyone! We made it, more or less, itchy, irritated skin and all. Please visit the birthplace of 7 Quick Takes.
My quick takes for today come from my calendar. As it happens, tomorrow's docket contains 7 bright, shiny items. I've just spent the last 20 minutes staring at those seven items, pondering how it's all going to happen. 7 arrival times. 7 little deadlines. 7 chances to get it right. 7 chances to crash and burn.
The real question is not will everyone get where they need to be. The real question is: Will Rick and I still be speaking to each other by the time everyone rests their heads on their pillows? Leave your best guess in the comments.

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8:30: Son #2's soccer game; arrive at 7:45. This week is our family's snack duty. Oh, joy.
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9:00: Daughter #2's soccer game. Cutest thing on a pitch. Plus, she's got a cracker of a kick.
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10:55: Son #2's soccer picture day appointment. I still need to find and complet…

My Kids Have It All

"IT ALL" currently includes:
• 19 wasp stings, on two bodies; • raging poison oak; • two wicked paper cuts; • one blistered, swollen, crazy-allergy-response, 5-inch in diameter bug bite; • healing blisters from new soccer shoes; • one really, really bad attitude.
We've been powering through ice packs, benadryl, ibuprofen, neosporin, and bandaids. None of that is helping Little T, who is afflicted with the really, really bad attitude.
Nature is overrated. As are 4 year-olds.
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Dear You

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Dear Lady in the SUV in the Costco parking lot today,
I apologize for cutting you off. I did not mean to drive past you at 5 mph, while you were 20 feet away also traveling at 5mph, both of us approaching a parking lot "intersection." But was it necessary for you to call me a bitch in front of my children? They can read lips. They announced that you think I'm a bitch. I am not a bitch. I am tired, PMS-ing, overwhelmed, and supremely annoyed at the world. Even with the ball of malcontent I am traveling with today, I did not mean to cut you off. However, now I'd kind of like to slam into the side of your SUV like Towanda.

Please go spread your venom somewhere else.
Warmly,
--Someone who didn't need to be called a bitch in front of her kids today
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Dear Daughter,
You are brilliant. I hope someday you grow up to be a stand-up comic so that you can use the material you wrote today when you said, of a kid we know who teases other kids: "He's a pill wit…

You know you have a big family when...

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...you hear the following clip in your head multiple times a day.




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And can I just speak to the other mothers of large families out there for a moment? All I hear is how wonderful big families are, how we are blessed with our many children, how fulfilling it is to raise them and see them grow in love and joy and hope and blah, blah, blah.
I love my kids as much as the next mom, but I'd love a reality check once in awhile. All that happy family stuff makes me feel like the only one out there ready to pull out her hair, rip off her ears, and run for the hills. I love them, but man, there are so many of them, and sometimes it feels like they're all against me.
So if you have a large brood, and you feel -- every now and then -- like trading it all in for a Mini Cooper, a collection of CD's, a GPS navigator and a cooler full of sourdough bread and fresh fruit, let me know I'm not alone.
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Thankfully, today, I get a bit of a reprieve. Today, I heard that Grinchy clip o…

7 Quick Takes: Volume 13, the 12th Birthday Edition

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We gave our son a cell phone for his 12th birthday today. He was thrilled, of course. When we were running an errand today, and I ran into a shop with him in the car, I got a text message from him: "Can we go home now?" So we may have some things to learn about responsible use of a phone. But shortly after getting this Holy Grail of tween life, he told me the following: Mom, now I know that having a phone doesn't make me a better person or really feel better or different. I thought it would because my friends were giving me such a hard time about not having one. But now I know.Man, I love that kid! He is such a thinker and such a talker: I never, ever will have to wonder what he's thinking about. I may, every now and then, daydream about installing a filter between his brain and his mouth. But mostly, I will be grateful that such a device does not exist.
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My beautiful 12 year old has been looking forward to two things for the past several weeks: (1) …