Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Adelaide's prayer this morning sounded a lot like mine do sometimes. She simply said, "God, help me!"

As we were going around the table in Sunday School class on Father's Day, I asked each child what they called their dad. "Do you call your dad 'Dad, Daddy, Papa, or what?'" I asked them. Most of them said, "I call my daddy Daddy." When I got to Adelaide she said, "I call my daddy Rufus."

While putting together a Wizard of Oz puzzle, Adelaide said, "hey! Here is a piece of the Ella Fa Krode!"

Josie (age 6) to a lady who was having a garage sale: "Well, have a good day! I hope your sale goes really well for you. We'll see ya later!"

Josie, in response to me saying that she was a big girl: "I am not a big girl. I am a tiny woman."

Adelaide's weird song while playing with the Little People nativity set: "Baby Jesus, goin to the market, dooley, dooley, doo!"

Sunday, June 24, 2012

What Did I DO all day?

“What did you do all day?” my husband asked.

It’s an innocent enough question – I don’t think he was implying that I didn’t do anything. The emphasis was not on the word “do,” as in “What did you DO all day?”

But as I thought back about my day, I found it hard to remember exactly what I did do. How did the entire day slip past without me being able to get anything done at all?

This was food for thought. I decided (as often is the case with me) to make a list. The next day I put a pen and some paper next to my planner and as the day went along, I wrote down the things I did.

Well, I wrote them down when I could remember them, at least. And when no one had stolen my pen.

So here, for your reading pleasure, is a glimpse into the life of a stay-at-home, home-schooling, ordinary mom of four little kids. Read it if you dare (or if you just happen to enjoy the mundane.)

7:31am – Wake up to the sound of dog whining and Jedidiah banging the side of his crib with the palms of his hands. Notice that husband does not (or pretends to not) hear either of these things.

7:40am – Make up my side of the bed. Get dressed, brush teeth, half-heartedly comb hair. (What’s the point, really?) Grab dirty clothes from hamper in bathroom. Get dog out of cage and let him outside. Turn on coffee-maker. Trudge down hallway, prepare to throw laundry in washing machine only to see that it’s still full of the load that I forgot about last night. Throw laundry into sink instead. Try to close Adelaide’s door quietly so her brother won’t wake her up. Open Jed’s door and walk into a wall of what I like to call “the aura of poop.” Sigh, then laugh when Jed’s head pops up over the side of his crib and he yells “MA-MA!” then points at his diaper and grins. Change poopy diaper. Dress wiggly baby. Nurse wiggly baby. Read story to wiggly baby.

8:15am – Bag up poopy diaper and throw it away outside. Take Adelaide’s “breftast” order. Make eggs and turkey bacon while cleaning out dishwasher. Pull Jed out of dishwasher. Head to the laundry room to clear out the dryer and hang clothes on hangers and fool myself into thinking that they won’t look wrinkled later. Switch wet laundry over and put in new load. Help Adelaide get dressed, make her bed and brush her teeth and hair. Check eggs and bacon. Slice up strawberries. Pull Jed out of refrigerator. Make coffee. Get out plates and cups and forks. Answer phone. Give Jed Cheerios to snack on while waiting for the main course. Wash out sippy cup and fill it with water.

8:45am – Yell upstairs to Sadie and Josie to tell them breakfast is ready. Clean up mess that Jed has somehow made all over the floor using only cereal and water (the child has talent.) Fix Adelaide’s doll. Fix Adelaide’s hangnail on her finger. Put ointment and a new bandaid on Adelaide’s knee. Wash hands. Serve up breakfast. Ask Sadie to say a morning prayer. Read the story of Jonah from the Bible. Answer 17 questions from Adelaide. Warm up coffee that I forgot to drink. Clean up breakfast dishes. Wipe Jed’s hands while girls sweep up and wipe the table.

9:00am – Start “school.” Help Josie with her reading. Help Sadie with her writing. Show Adelaide how to stay in the lines and cut out the turtle she colored. Rescue Jed from the top of the couch. Read 8 books from library bag. Break up a fight over a hairbow. Start the dishwasher. Check email. Take out trash. Pick up blocks. Dance to bluegrass music (Josie's choice.)

10:30am – Go outside with kids. Chase butterflies. Chase Jedidiah. Check mail. Push kids on swing. Sweep front walk. Pick up dog poop. Draw pictures with sidewalk chalk. Take sidewalk chalk out of Jed’s mouth. Investigate newest bird’s nest. Kiss Adelaide's boo-boo when she trips and falls on the driveway. Catch a moth, a butterfly, a toad, a frog and some kind of scary beetle.

11:30am – Release today's captures. Go inside, listen to history lesson and do math. Laugh at girls’ new knock-knock jokes. Make two doctor appointments and one dentist appointment. Start lunch. Remember coffee is still in microwave and warm it up again. Answer phone. Wonder where Jed went. Find Jed in my room, drawing all over my list (and his leg) with a permanent marker.

12:14pm – Realize that I don’t have time to keep a list.

7:30pm – Give husband dirty look when he asks me what I did all day.

-from my 6/24/12 article for www.mentorpatch.com

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day (Grandpa's too)

"A grandpa is someone you never outgrow your need for."

I don't know who said that first but isn’t that true?

I still miss my grandpa and he’s been gone for more than eight years.

My children, though, are blessed to still have three grandfathers in their lives.

There’s Grandpa, their dad’s dad, who lives on the other side of town.

There’s Papaw, my daddy, who lives in North Carolina.

And there’s Grampie, my stepfather, who lives about 20 minutes from us here in Ohio.

Grandpa is at our house pretty much on a daily basis. He is a tall, imposing guy with a quick wit and a whacky sense of humor. He makes up goofy stories for the kids about an aardvark and a pink gorilla that drives a bus.

He also calls them pet names like “whippersnapper” and “little creep.” One of my baby Jedidiah’s first words was “Gam-pa!”

Grandpa likes to steal food off their plates when they aren’t looking.

He reads them Bible stories and lets them climb all over him.

He takes them out to look at Christmas lights every year (and then out for ice cream.)

He teaches them jokes and pretends that the ones they make up are funny.

They see their Papaw less frequently since he lives in another state but we visit and talk with him regularly.

He is a strong, hardworking, quiet man who grew up on a farm. The kids know all the stories about when he was growing up because I’ve recounted them all.

When we visit he lets them ride on the farm tractor with him. He sits in the back seat of the van and has tickle fights with them while they all sing “The Battle of New Orleans.”

He lets them steal his cap and then he snatches it back and whacks them on top of the head with it and tells them they’re “oofy.” He fixes things, builds things and lets them “help” when he works outside. Jed calls him “Pap-ow Tact-tor.”

Papaw takes them for walks through the woods.

He takes them to feed the ducks.

He shows them how to make scarecrows and kites.

He laughs at their silly stories.

Grampie lives about 20 minutes away and though he doesn’t come over very much, the kids don’t mind because they would much rather go to his house anyway.

They love to spend the weekend there, snuggling with Grampie Don on the couch while they watch cartoons. They love to play ambulance with him (they fall down and he picks them up, spinning around and wailing like an ambulance.)

They like to have “Donfires” in the back yard (he roasts a great marshmallow.) When the girls play dress up, he pretends to be the prince and he twirls them around and calls them his little sweethearts. Jed calls him “Pop Pop.”

Grampie calls the kids just to say hello.

He buys them candy at the store.

He pushes them on the swing in the backyard.

He takes them on “shopping sprees” for their birthdays.

Three very different men. Three very different types of grandfathers.

Three of the most important people in my children’s lives.

Happy (Grand)father’s Day to all of you Grandpas, Papaws and Pop Pops out there. We will never outgrow you.

-from my 6/17/12 article for www.mentorpatch.com

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

More Stuff

Reading Adelaide's ABC book to her at bedtime -- "Mommy, do not tell me the letters. I can do them. That's A. That's B. That's C. And that one - don't tell me. That one is 2."

Me to a crying Jed, after he fell off the couch and bonked himself: "Oh, Jeddy, what did you hit?" Adelaide to me: "I think it was the ground, Mommy! I think the ground."

Adelaide asked for MORE ice cream after already having a whole big bowl. I said, "MORE ice cream? Are you kidding me?" She said, "Ha ha, yeah Mom. No, actually, I'm not."

Josie, having recently learned the term "birthday suit," jumped around after her bath and informed me that she was going to sleep in her "party suit."

Adelaide wants Apple Jacks cereal for breakfast. She asks for "Hunchbacks."

Jedidiah, freshly bathed and in a new diaper and cozy PJ's, climbed into the (full) bathtub and sat right down when Grandma Beth turned her head for TWO seconds. The kid is FAST.

Jedidiah does such cute things at dinner - we all watch him as the evening entertainment. Recently he added to his repertoire - when we all looked at him and laughed, he looked around behind him to see what was so funny... "Who, me?"

Josie, after hearing her dad's Weird Al song in the car: "Mom, I don't WANT to celebrate Weasel-Stomping Day."

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Closet Packrat

“Mommy, sometimes you are allergic to fun.”

This is what my child tells me when I’m on a cleaning binge and can’t think of anything but getting rid of junk. You might not know it these days but I am actually a closet packrat. Not with everything – I have no problem getting rid of Tupperware containers or magazines or old clothes. No, I mainly want to keep sentimental stuff that pertains to my children.

I keep the usual things: the hats they wore at the hospital, the first lock of hair, the baby footprints, the first drawing – but I have a hard time getting rid of the not so usual things. Things like their first tooth. Or their first toothbrush. Or the tissue from the first time they blew their own nose. Or the crust from the first time they ate a sandwich.

That’s why I’m so glad that someone gave me a scrapbook at my first baby shower. I’ve discovered that if I keep tiny pieces of things – things like gift wrap, cards, baby band-aids, doctor visit notes, drawings, etc. – that I don’t feel like I need to keep the entire thing.

As you can probably imagine, this frees up a lot of space around here. If I didn’t do it this way, I probably wouldn’t be able to walk around for all of the traced hand artwork, Sunday School pages, dried flowers and notes to Santa that would be residing in my house because I couldn’t bear to part with them. While my scrapbooks are growing thicker and thicker every year, I have somehow managed (up to now, anyway) to keep them contained to one book per year. It’s getting harder with each additional child, though. It’s much more difficult to chronicle the events of four lives than two or three!

Now that I have my sentimentality issues contained between the (strained) covers of a scrapbook, I am free to deal with the rest of my house. How do extra toys and books and shoes and random things find their way into my house on such a regular basis? Stuff breeds more stuff. I completely clean off the kitchen counter. Then a kid leaves a juice cup and a pencil on it and the next thing I know, the counter is covered with junk again! It multiplies. Whenever there is stuff out of place in my house, I have low-level anxiety. The older I get, the worse it bothers me (just ask my mom – this was NOT the case when I was a teenager.)

These days, I am constantly looking for stuff to throw out, donate or otherwise get rid of. I have a “Goodwill box” in my laundry room to collect stuff that can go. Move it along, I always say. Maybe I’m a little bit allergic to fun, but I prefer to think that I’m allergic to clutter. Unless the clutter happens to be a tooth or an important sandwich.

--from my June 10 article for www.mentorpatch.com

Sunday, June 03, 2012

The Promised Land

My grandma’s house isn’t the fanciest place in the world. Nor is it the most comfortable. There are potted plants everywhere. Knickknacks cover every available surface. Family photos are on every wall and a Bible is on every table. It’s definitely a grandma house. But according to my kids, you would think it was the Promised Land. On their calendars, they mark off the days until we leave on our trip for North Carolina. They give me an update every single morning until the day finally comes when they can “pack.” I handle the clothes – otherwise we’d show up for our 2-week stint at my grandmother’s house with three swimsuits, a scarf, some mismatched socks and a tutu. But the girls are in charge of their own “car trip bags” (curtailed by a 6 toy/book limit since things got out of control on our last trip and there was nowhere in our van to put feet.) Once we hit the open road, the girls practice their “southern.” They start saying things they aren’t normally allowed to say, like: “Hey, ya’ll ain’t gonna eat the last potata che-ip. Now pass ‘at bag back 'ere right now. You wutn' sposed to eat ‘em all! If I’da knowed ‘at, I’da popped ya one!” (Sometimes I don’t realize what my accent must sound like to non-southerners – then I hear my own voice being channeled and I can barely understand myself!) After a long trip (tunnels and bridges and rest stops, oh my), we pull across the county line and the girls yell, “We are here! We are in North Carolina!” Their excitement is contagious. My homecoming, though, is made complete only by the smell that greets us: chicken litter (also known as chicken poop.) A great fertilizer, it’s spread over the fields of the farming communities of my home county. I’ve seen many a farmer take a deep whiff of that awful smell and then say, “Ahhh… smells like money to me!” Funny, it smells like home to me. Once we drive through town (four stoplights and take a right), we descend upon my grandma (known as Great Grandma to my kids and pronounced “Great Gramaw.” To her delight we proceed to cram ourselves (all six of us) into her little 3-bedroom house. She likes to sleep in her recliner, so that leaves us with one on the couch, one on the double bed in the main bedroom, two in the double bed in the guest room, one on a pallet (a big piece of foam topped with lots of blankets and pillows) in the extra room and one in the pack-in-play in the master bathroom. Yes, my child sleeps in the bathroom. Hey, it’s better than a closet. Sort of. And anyway, they wouldn’t care if they had to sleep in the bathtub. They are finally here and they are surrounded by cousins, swimming pools, pots of pinto beans, golf cart rides, cornbread, BoBerry biscuits, uncles, aunts, and grandparents. They are surrounded by hugs and kisses and stories and memories – old ones and new ones. I am proud that they are proud to be half southern – right down to their deep-fried roots. At Great Grandma’s house, we are sheltered by the Blue Ridge Mountains, by the mimosas and magnolias, by the red dirt banks on the sides of the road. But we are sheltered here by something more. Somehow, no matter where you’re from or how old you get, you always feel safe, loved and at home when you’re at your grandma’s house. No wonder they count the days until we get here. -from my June 3 article for www.mentorpatch.com