Monday, February 27, 2012


Reflecting on a lot of things tonight, mainly because of the school shootings this morning. Very glad that I have the ability, means, and choice to school my children at home, but recognize that not everyone does. It's scary to be a mom and know that the choices we make today will shape our children's futures for the rest of their lives and beyond. It's scary for ALL of us - whether our kids are in public schools or not. Things like this can happen any time, anywhere. Thank God that He is here to give us wisdom for the present, forgiveness for the past, and hope for the future. We all need to hug our kids just a little bit tighter, pray a little more, and encourage each other.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mommy Crimes

A list of crimes we mothers sometimes commit:

Purge-ery: Cleaning out your kids’ rooms and throwing out all of their broken toys while they spend the weekend at Grandma’s.

Assault and Battery: Throwing the stupid See-N-Say against the wall after you break a nail while stripping out the screws in its ridiculously tight battery compartment.

No-contest: When you’re ready to scream because your 3-year-old got out of bed again and then says, “I just wanted to tell you how much I love you, Mom.”

Ar-son: When you and your husband admit to the moms at the mall play area that yes, it was your son who dumped out all of those goldfish crackers, smashed them into the carpet and then left an orange trail down the slide.

Loitering: When you stay in the bathroom with the door locked a full three minutes longer than necessary just so you can have some time to yourself.

Possession of stolen property: When you take the last red Starburst from the Valentine candy and you pretend you don’t know what happened to it when your child says “What’s that in your mouth?”

Forgery: When you sign notes for The Tooth Fairy, even though you know very well she can write her own darn notes.

Bond jumping: When you quickly dodge your child’s jelly-covered goodbye embrace because you’re all dressed up and on your way out to dinner.

Counter-fitting: When you have to sit your child up next to the cash register at the shoe store to see if you picked the correct size because you can’t manage to corral her in the aisle.

Gross negligence: When you forget to close the bathroom door and the baby crawls in and plays “cleaning lady” with the toilet brush.

Play-giary: When you have absolutely no idea what to do with your kids for the next two hours so you look at your friends’ Facebook pages so you can steal all of their good ideas.

Disorderly conduct: When you see the enormous mess in your daughter’s room and instead of helping her clean it up, you join her in throwing confetti into the air and grinding Play-doh into the carpet.

Bribery: If you're a mom, you don't need a definition for this one!

from my 2/26/12 article for

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Game of Love

Money was even tighter than usual for us on Valentine’s Day this year.

Receiving flowers or jewelry can definitely make a person feel special, but those things just weren’t in our budget this year. So our family did something that we don’t normally do – we played a special family game together around the kitchen table. We ended up calling it “The Love Game.”

The object of “The Love Game” is to make each member of your family feel valued and special. Each person says one thing that they love about every other member of the family.

It was interesting to find out what the girls had to say about each other, their dad, me and their baby brother. They also thought it was fun to speak for the baby in a squeaky, high-pitched voice: “I am baby Jeddy, and I love it when Sadie helps me learn to walk! Googie! And when Josie snuggles me! Goo! And when Adelaide climbs into my crib! Ticka-ticka!”

We learned that we actually do appreciate each other for little things – hugs from each other when we are sad, how Dad fixes things around the house, how Josie has a goofy laugh that makes us all smile, how Mommy does the laundry, how Sadie takes care of her little sisters, how Jed makes everyone laugh and how Adelaide is a really good hider during Hide and Seek.

We also touched on something else: how my kids love having “Special Time.” Special Mommy Time, Daddy Time, Grammie Time, Grandpa/Grandma Time, or Aunt/Uncle Time – it doesn’t matter. They thrive on it.

When there’s lots of kids in the family, even five short minutes of one-on-one time with each of them (without being interrupted by the phone or a sibling) shows them that they are special. (I guess this would apply to spouses, too, now that I think about it.)

And when you’re used to hearing “Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom” a million times a day like I am, it gets increasingly difficult to care about everything your kids say. I tend to tune them out sometimes (or a lot of the time – especially certain three year olds who talk incessantly.) I know that cannot possibly make them feel like they are high on my scale of importance.

Strangely enough, though, simply noticing them usually seems to do the trick: “I HEAR you saying that your toe hurts.” Most of the time, the injured party will sniff dramatically and wander away after boo-boo acknowledgement has occurred. Noticing them makes them feel special. It makes them feel validated.

When someone is upset or sad (e.g., “She closed the door in my face!” or “They won’t play with me, Mommy!”) they naturally keep going until someone stops them. One trick I’ve learned to use when they start repeating themselves is for me to repeat it instead. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right? They seem to automatically feel better when they know I get it. (This would apply to spouses, also, wouldn’t it?)

Though every kid loves a trip to the toy store, I suddenly realized after playing “The Love Game” that it’s the little things that make these little people feel loved. Not one of them said a word about material things during “The Love Game.”

Snuggling, getting an unexpected hug, being listened to, being acknowledged, reading a story on Mommy’s lap, a goofy dance with Daddy in the middle of the family room – things like these take precedence over new toys or fancy boxes of Valentine candy.

We moms love our children so much. Telling them what they mean to us, spending special time with them, acknowledging them, respecting them – all of these things make them feel special and show them how we feel about them.

Our whole Valentine’s Day experience was really very sweet – maybe even sweeter than an expensive box of chocolates. It made all of us feel important.

And it taught me that showing my children they are special is simpler than I thought – and cheaper, too!

from my 2/19/12 article for

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Jed's favorites

Jedidiah's favorite things to do lately:

Play in the refrigerator (yesterday he helped himself to a leftover pancake and was standing there holding it in both hands, shoving it in his mouth as fast as he could when I caught him).

Pat himself on the tummy and laugh at the hollow drum sound it makes. He looks like a mini version of some jolly little elf holding his jolly fat belly.

Peek between the bars on his crib. For some reason, it's funny when he's standing there holding on and I bed down and look at him through the slats.

Humming, especially when he's supposed to be taking a nap. I can hear him through the baby monitor, saying things like Hmmmmm, oh-gi-ho, yahha, mammamamamama, ma, goggi,googi,goggi, haha.

Climbing, everywhere. On top of the little kid table I had when I was little (and leaning up flat against the wall), the stairs, on top of the coffee table (he doesn't care that it's glass), on top of the bathroom stool so he can play in the sink, on top of the bathtub... everywhere.

Banging things. Banging is fun, whether it's a spoon, a bat, his wooden hammer, or just his fist.

Leaning WAaaaayyyy over to the side when I'm holding him, so he can catch my eye, get a good look at me, and grin!

Tickling my feet. I don't know why he thinks this is so funny, but he LOVES to go after my toes and try to tickle them. He's so silly :)

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Bad Day

This morning I woke up after a terrible night’s sleep with two deadlines looming, a filthy house, five overflowing laundry baskets, ants sneaking in through a crack in the floor, an empty milk carton in the fridge, kids who needed to be fed (and bathed and given a math lesson), dog poop on my front walk, a crying baby and a terribly achy back.

I just wanted to hide in the bathroom and cry.

As soon as I locked the door, though, someone (make that two someones) knocked, jiggled the knob and then proceeded to stick their little fingers through the crack under the door.

I looked in the mirror. Big mistake. That did not make me feel better at all. I need a haircut. I need a facial. I need to go to the gym. Let’s face it; I need a complete makeover. But who has time (or money) for all of that stuff? Certainly not me – sometimes I don’t even have time to take a shower, much less spend a day at the spa.

Every mom can relate to this, right?

I know I’ve felt this way before, and I’m sure I’ll feel it again.

What I really don’t understand is why people – moms especially – feel like they need to put on a show so that the rest of the world will think that their life is perfect and that they have it all together.

We’ve all seen them – the moms straight from the cover of Parenting magazine with their pointy high heels and their fabulous figures. In tow are their perfectly dressed, perfectly behaved children.

Not ONE of those kids has magic marker staining the front of their shirt or mismatched socks or even “static hair.” They look perfect. Those kids don’t lick the glass door at the mall, toot on their dermatologist or pull two dozen books off the shelf at the library as the stroller goes by. (I’m not admitting to any of these things, mind you.)

But I know it’s a charade! My question is, what makes us, as moms, care what other moms think? Why are we so competitive? I would rather know that there are other women out there in the trenches with me. Others feeling isolated and freaked out and just a teensy bit crazy. That would make me feel better.

And honestly, sometimes I feel so overwhelmed that it’s hard to even get a breath.

So I’m going out on a limb here to say this:

Moms! I am here to tell you that you are not alone out there! Everyone feels like hopping a plane to Tahiti once in a while and leaving it all behind! It doesn’t mean you are a bad mom!

I, for one, want everyone to know that sometimes my life can really stink. I’m not trying to complain; I just want to be honest with all of you other moms out there - even the "Perfect-o Moms." You know who you are.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my husband. I love my children, my house, my job. I love my life.

But right now, I just want to go sit in a hot tub and listen to some Ray Lamontagne and cry until I feel better.

Some chocolate probably wouldn’t hurt, either.

-from my 2/12/12 article for

Friday, February 10, 2012

Beach in February?

Last week, we went to the BEACH in February! Unheard of where we live, right? It was such a beautiful sunny day, and relatively warm, that we wrapped up in coats and scarves and headed to the beach at the end of our road and just hung out for an hour (after Sadie and Josie finished their Math, of course :).

It was too steep for Jedidiah and the stroller and me to get down to the water's edge, so the three girls tiptoed down the hill by themselves (Sadie helping Adelaide) with their rock-collecting buckets. I loved sitting there watching them by the water, wind in their hair, checking stuff out. Sadie gathered a a bunch of rocks - her very favorite thing - and Adelaide, learning at the feet of the master, got a bucketful of her own! At one point, Josie sat down on a log and just watched the waves for a full 15 minutes. That's one of the best things about homeschooling - being able to do science outside, where REAL science is!

On the ride home, the girls were so excited about our little trip. I guess they were very glad to be out of the house. Sadie said, "This was great! it was just absolutely beautiful out there!" and Josie and Adelaide said, "Hey, yeah! It was the BEST DAY EVER!"


For the past month, we have been learning about Egypt and reading Cleopatra VII. Throughout the book, the word "vineyard" has come up over and over. Josie has a mental block on this word and every time she hears it, she says, "What's a vineyard?" I finally made her say it over and over and over and I asked her and asked her for DAYs afterward to make sure she knew it. The next day, there it was in yet another passage. I said, "Josie, what's a vineyard?" She looked at me and said, "Um... well,um..." I said, "EVERY DAY I ask you what a vineyard is!" She said, "Well, why don't you just ask somebody else, then?"

Sadie had a hard day the other day. It was difficult to get her to sit down and concentrate, and she had a fight with her sister (she stepped on Josie's EYE, don't ask me how that happened) and so at bedtime, she was all weepy. I was talking to her and trying to help her feel better when Miss Drama said, "There is only ONE thing that would make me feel better, and that is to sleep downstairs with YOU and I know that THAT is simply IMPOSSIBLE!" Huff, flop onto her pillow... crying. I gave up. :)

Today, I let Adelaide watch Sesame Street while S and J did their math. She came running up to me afterward, singing a LOUD song about the Bert and Ernie segment on the show, which she informed me in no uncertain terms, was called NOT Bert and Ernie's Great Adventures, but BERNIE's Great Adventures.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

The Toot Dance

Three-year-old Adelaide has started her very first dance class.

Actually, it’s her first class of any kind at all (other than Sunday School.) Naturally, I was somewhat apprehensive about her impending behavior.

Oh, the excitement on her first day! Her little cousin (and best friend) Caroline had signed up too, which made it even more exciting. Adelaide donned her tights and borrowed a sparkly outfit from Josie. She was ready a whole hour early.

Along with her sisters (there was no way they were going to miss out on this spectacle), we made our way to the classroom and met the teacher.

A dozen other six-and-under giggly little girls squirmed around while pretending to listen to instructions. All of the moms tied lengths of yarn to their ballerinas’ right hands and right feet (for their girls to reference during the hokey pokey).

Then Adelaide ceremoniously put her nametag (on a yarn necklace) around her neck. She was READY TO DANCE.

Unbeknownst to the teacher on that first day, Adelaide and Caroline like to talk. And laugh. And goof around. As soon as they stepped onto the hardwood floor, they paired up and proceeded to dance in the opposite direction of the rest of the class.

Besides the fact that they are the youngest (and shortest) girls in the class, they are apparently also the most uninhibited. In fact, it was like they were the only two there – two mini prima ballerinas on their own private stage.

They laughed. They squealed. They galloped. They pranced. They raised their left hands instead of their right ones. They put their right foot in instead of their left. They hokied when they should have pokied.

In short, they did shake it all about but not exactly at the appropriate time. They were dancers of distraction.

The only times Adelaide acknowledged anyone besides Caroline was when she sneakily cut her eyes toward me, grining a huge goofy grin and waving her entire arm at me.

At one point, another little girl wanted to hold Caroline’s hand, but Adelaide was having none of that. She intercepted that little problem and gave her a dirty look. The interloper took the hint and pirouetted away to safety.

Caroline took this opportunity to assault the teacher with questions: “Who are you? What is your name? I know, but what is your first name? And what are we doing? And what is this dance called?”

From our seats in the back of the room, Caroline’s mom and I enjoyed the question and answer session. Well, I enjoyed it. Her mom just shook her head and hissed, “Pssst! Caroline! No more questions! No more questions!”

Little did we know that what was coming up next would make all those questions seem a lot less, um, questionable.

During what started out as a cute routine set to Disney’s Under the Sea, Adelaide decided that instead of following the current, so to speak, she would make some waves and launch into her own version of “The Toot Dance.”

“The Toot Dance” is the dance where you twirl and then you toot. Then you kick your leg up, you toot, you bend over, you toot, you raise your arms gracefully, you toot, you curtsy (like a lady) and then you toot (not so much like a lady.)

I can’t remember the last time I laughed so hard.

The funniest part was that she never even acknowledged any of those toots during the dance. No matter how loud the toots got (and in the cavernous, hardwood-floored room, they carried quite an echo, believe me), she maintained a straight face.

I could barely contain myself. For the first time in years, I actually laughed so hard I snorted.

On the way home, I asked Adelaide what she thought about her very first dance class.

She sighed, smiled wistfully, and smoothed down her tutu. “I like my class. And I like my dwess. And, well, Mom, I danced very nicely today, didn’t I, Mom? I was just like a real lady. All except for the tooting part.”

-from my 2/5/12 article for

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Jed's first steps

Today, Jedidiah and I were playing with his Noah's Ark rubber ball on the rug in the kitchen floor. He was rolling the ball and sometimes kicking at it with his foot. Then he stood up and scootched his little toes around so he was facing me. And THEN, he came toward me, arms held out, and he STEPPED toward me! Two whole steps! Then he threw himself at me, his arms around my neck, and I scooped him up and he laughed. It was a beautiful moment. I love that little boy SO MUCH that I can't stand it. I can't believe he's already walking... my baby.