Friday, April 30, 2010

Things I Now Do That I Wouldn't/Couldn't Do Before

Country living is teaching me a lot. Stuff that used to totally creep me out now only mildly does.

1. I can pick up snakes (ok, they were both really small and I had already been told by a conservation expert that the one "WILL NOT BITE YOU!"

2. I am not phased by night-time creature noises any longer.

3. I can clean a fish.

4. I can also do all other sort of fishing related activities (bait hook, take fish off hook, string fish, etc.)

5. I can open and willfully plunge my hands into a bag labeled "manure"

6. Ticks are no match for me with a pair of tweezers.

7. Dirt? What dirt? I thought that my kids' skin was naturally that color.

These are just a few of the things that don't necessarily phase me, but just so you know that I've not totally abandoned my city girl roots...

1. I still crave a good trip to town nearly everyday.

2. Sometimes I wish I still had that certainty that when I entered my house I was leaving the outdoors behind.

3. And as I type this post I can hear the little squeaky cries of a mouse stuck to a glue trap under our stove and I refuse to go take care of it. I'm not to that point yet, but give me another year.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

My Dear Huston

You are a very sweet child that I do not understand most of the time. From now on I promise to invest more time in you in hope of figuring you out.

I believe you suffer from the quintessential symptoms of "middle child syndrome" and I will admit that you often get looked over in the midst of the busyness and chaos of meeting the needs of your younger siblings (and the homeschool needs of your oldest sibling). You can be so low maintenance at times, comparatively... and you can also be so very, very manipulative and dramatic to the point (I'll whisper it) to the point of annoyance... but, that's just you realizing the truth to the old adage concerning that squeaky wheel.

I love you greatly - you can be so considerate and you have such a sweet, gentle nature. I have determined that you need some good parental attention, and a good outlet of something for "just you" (you keep asking about horseback riding lessons, really? would you really get on a horse?).

We will overcome this and you will grow to be a wonderful little man. I just need to figure out how to help you do that! Please Lord, help me to figure him out!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Random Observation

Driving home from town today I looked in the rear view mirror to gaze upon my lovely children and this is what I saw...

1. Huston and Isaiah play fighting, laughing and talking about cow poop.
2. Avery with a chocolate ring around his mouth, picking his nose.
3. Lillie with her shirt and pants soaked with her drink, sucking her thumb.

And I thought, that little scene exactly illustrates what raising these kids is really like.

There's some laughter, there's some sweetness, there's some icky gross stuff, there's some dirt and there is constant noise and action (even while strapped down in a car.) And you are either talking about or dealing with some sort of bodily fluid.

So just in case you've ever wondered - that little snippet of our day pretty much sums up life at this point... and yeah, I love it... on most any day.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Oh, Beaver.

When Steven and I were first married we had satellite tv. Hundreds of channels and nothing to watch. We often ended up on TV Land or the Game Show network to watch a lot of the old shows because they were certainly better than the new ones. One of the programs that we watched was Leave It To Beaver, cuz I liked it. Beaver was so cute when he was still young and small and hadn't yet reached that annoyingly prepubescent stage. But the storyline of every show was pretty much the same. Beaver messes up somehow and his family helps him out of the jam. It was such a running theme that Steven and I began using "beaver" as a curse word whenever we did something dumb. Oh I knocked over the cup of water, "beaver!" I forgot to put away the milk, "beaver!" You know, stuff like that.

Sunday we had our own Leave It to Beaver episode. It's not our first and certainly won't be our last, but it was oh so typically Beaver like.

Huston got a belated birthday card in the mail a few days ago. He was at his grandma's house the day it came and then I forgot to give it to him when he returned home, so he didn't actually receive it until Sunday afternoon. (at this point of the story, I'm really hoping the card-giver is not reading this blog post...) He opened the card and found inside of it, along with the loving sentiments, a $20 bill. His eyes lit up and he immediately folded up the bill and put it in his pocket... I stopped him and suggested to him, "don't you think that it would be better to put the money in your jar?" (his money jar) so it wouldn't get lost.

(Yeah, you know what's going to happen...) He looked up at me with those big eyes and fallen face and said, "but mom, I want to hold it." Well, I thought, he did just get it. The promise was made that it would stay in his pocket. *sigh* I knew it was a bad sign when we got to Menards that afternoon and as he was heading out of the van the $20 was in his hand. Steven scolded him and personally stuffed it deep into Huston's pocket as they headed into the store. That evening when he was changing into his pajamas I asked him for the bill. He looked at me and said with a very quiet voice that he didn't know where it was. *double sigh*

The boy had the money all of 5 hours and had already lost it. Beaver. I must tell you that we handled it in typical Cleaver fashion. Steven became angry and scolded and I felt sorry for him and reacted a bit more gently. (Ward, don't you think you were a little too hard on the Beaver?) Anyway, the pain of the money lost was punishment enough and Huston will never be trusted with cash money again until he's an annoying prepubescent.

I searched the van, I searched the yard, I searched the house - no $20. The boy was every.where. when we returned from Menards. He was driving his new John Deere tractor around the place most of that evening while Isaiah and I were planting our garden and fighting allergic reactions. The silly thing could be anywhere. Maybe if we're lucky it will turn up at the very point that we need it. In the meantime we will be attempting to keep Huston off of billboards and his head out of fences so that he doesn't end up following in Beaver's footsteps in any other way.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Anything to Get Out of School.

Isaiah is a worker. I mean he wants to be outside and moving logs or bricks with his bare hands; he wants to be pulling dandelions or building something. Or he wants to be helping someone with a job. Don't make him do this school stuff (it's boring.) and frankly I don't blame him - I would rather be outside than sitting down to do worksheets. But ya know, that's life. We don't always get to do what we want to do.

But now that spring is upon us we can get out some of those projects that we've been itching to do. (stay tuned, you are going to soon discover how that sentence is going to turn out to be very punny in just a few minutes.) Specifically, we are going to do the outside sciency stuff like gardening, composting, and chicken raising.

We started with the garden. Steven's dad built us some raised beds and over the last couple of days we've been getting them ready. Some dirt was hauled in, some manure was purchased, mix together and there you have it, a perfect bed for vegetables.

Isaiah had been spending a few days at his grandparents house so yesterday afternoon was the first opportunity we had to work on our garden. We are starting out small, I just want Isaiah to learn the basics of garden tending without getting overwhelmed. So we went to choose some starter plants from the store and we came up with tomatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, and bush green beans - all things that we eat regularly. (yes, I know, it's probably too early to put this stuff out as well, but oh well, we'll call it our science experiment)

We brought home the starter plants then Isaiah and I got to work. Isaiah took a ruler and marked the wooden sides of our garden beds by foot, he then went back and tacked in small nails at each mark he had made. I then went behind him and made our garden into a grid by stretching some string around the nails Isaiah had tacked into the sides of the bed. Now it was time to plant. I put Isaiah in charge of the beans, the broccoli and the peppers while I got to work on the tomatoes. Isaiah started with the beans, then planted a few of the broccoli plants and also planted one pepper plant we had bought as our experiment plant. It was called a Costa Rican sweet red pepper. We've not had one of those before. I finished off the tomatoes before Isaiah was finished with his plants, so I came along side him to help him finish up. He had not yet planted the bell peppers, so I did those.

By the time we were wrapping up Isaiah was complaining about his stomach hurting. It was later in the evening and we hadn't eaten since lunch time, so I mentioned that he was just probably hungry. I wasn't making a big deal about it, because Isaiah is pretty good at illness drama and will over-exaggerate the issue more often than not. It's best to act nonchalant until we know that there is really a cause for alarm.

It wasn't long before we had finished up the job and I asked Isaiah to help me with the trash and putting our things away. He kept holding his belly and was not in the mood to be helpful. I just chalked it up to hunger pangs and fussed at him to just get the stuff thrown away and then we could go inside and eat something. I left him to do the job and finished my tasks and went inside. I waited for Isaiah to come in. He took forever it seemed and I went to check on him and couldn't find him anywhere. I called for him (ok, I yelled) and found out that Steven had also given him a job to do on the other side of the house, but he was now done with both jobs and we were heading inside. Isaiah was getting more anxious about his hurting stomach though. I told him to calm down, it was supper time now and we'd get him something to eat quickly.

He wanted cereal. I fixed him a bowl and set it down in front of him and he barely touched it before he started to cry about his stomach. I told him to just go lay down for a bit, relax and see if it would pass. It had been a good 20 minutes since he had first complained about his stomach, but the laying down to help it pass idea only lasted for a few minutes before he had come into the kitchen totally frantic.

The boy looked like he had a sunburn. I pulled his shirt off of him, with some difficulty though, because he was covered with small welts that itched like crazy and he was flailing around trying to alleviate the misery. (He had been wearing long sleeves and long pants outside and I was right there with him and never got bothered by any bugs.) He was going crazy. I quickly grabbed the benedryl that was on the counter (Avery's been suffering this spring too so it was very handy) and gave him two chewable tablets. I then made him jump in the shower and washed him down really well. I checked him for a bite mark or a tick or anything of that nature and didn't see anything. Then I called my parents, cuz dad's a nurse and therefore the family medical go-to. We determined that he must have had a severe allergic reaction to something. But what??

By the end of the episode Isaiah had bright red skin, little tiny welts all over his torso and groin area (which I am now calling hives?), an itchy body - even his scalp itched. He was short of breath for a time, but I don't know if that had to do with him freaking out or the allergic reaction. His eyes were red and irritated and it looked like I had given him the benedryl just in time or they would have swelled up. As the night wore on, his stomach ache along with all of the crazy hives and itching and red skin had all cleared up.

This morning he's fine. So my question is what in the world caused all of this? Is he allergic to... gardening? Great, he'll do anything to get out of schoolwork. ;) Was it one of the plants? Was it the fertilizer in the starter plants' soil? Was is a bug bite? Was it a fluke? He helped his grandma in her garden this weekend and didn't have any problems... I don't know. It's a mysterious puzzle for sure. One that I hope we either solve or never have to mess with again.

I think Isaiah would just tell you he's allergic to schoolwork.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


I'm not really going to sit down here and give you a play-by-play of what has been happening in our family over the past week, but I will give you a run down...

1. Baseball season started and that makes me happy.

2. Huston got a battery operated riding tractor for his birthday and that makes him happy.

3. Steven's folks bought the kids a playground set and it was delivered to our house yesterday, this makes everyone happy. (Avery said that Uncle Daniel brought us "a load of playground..." :)

4. Uncle Daniel is going to put the playground set together for us and Isaiah is going to help him, this makes Isaiah happy.

5. Huston also received a really cool large cardboard, color-yourself castle from my folks for his birthday, this of course makes Huston happy, but it also makes Avery very happy because he's all about coloring too.

6. We are getting closer to becoming ready to start our "chicken farm" - Isaiah and Huston have worked hard with me (mostly them though!) to get the chicken house and yard ready. Hopefully we'll be set to go by next week. This makes us all excited.

6. We got to go to a symphony concert last Saturday night. One in which our friend was a featured solo pianist. She did an outstanding job, Isaiah enjoyed it, Huston wasn't as sure about sitting for so long but tolerated it well... despite the fidgety kiddos the evening made me happy.

Now for the not so happy news...

1. Lillie fell off the "tall chair" and brought it down with her, somehow blackening her eye in the process. Our first black eye goes to the girl of the family. This does not make us happy.

2. Avery woke up in the middle of the night last night covered in blood because of a nose bleed. This did not make us happy.

3. It's crunch time for homeschooling (the year officially ends at the end of June) and so we are picking up the pace so we are sure to get done by then. This does not make Isaiah happy.

4. Steven has been traveling a lot of late and that means a lot of late evenings of single parenting and this doesn't make for a happy mommy.

But all in all the good far outweighs the bad. Especially since the Cardinals are off to such a good start! Anyway I will leave you with a picture of the birthday boy on his new tractor.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Happy Birthday Huston!

Look who's turning 6 today! Happy birthday to our sweet Huston. You are an enigma: social yet shy, talkative yet quiet, an observer of detail yet unable to find your shoes (or much of anything else that belongs to you :), you are sweet yet can throw the biggest fits of the four at times. And we love you for all of it (ok, the fits can try my patience...)

Sorry that this birthday-day is so uncharacteristically quiet for you, but we will make it up to you soon enough. I know your whole family loves you very much.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Creepy Story.

If you are faint of heart when it comes to woodland creatures invading peoples homes, you may not want to continue reading... I'll give you all a moment to click away to another blog...

Ok, for those of you that remain, I am going to tell you a creepy little tale of what has been happening in our house lately.

About a week or so ago, in the middle of the night I kept hearing a noise. To me it really sounded like a bird flapping wings or something of that nature, and it seemed to be coming from our kitchen. I tiptoed in there and listened carefully, but couldn't see anything, couldn't pinpoint the location of the noise, and couldn't really figure out what to do about it. So I woke up Steven.

The two of us stood and stared at the kitchen wall for a few minutes. He also heard the noise and we wondered if it was coming from down in the basement and we could simply hear it through the vents. So off we went downstairs into the creepy, dirty, unfinished, did I mention creepy? basement (Steven first of course).

We saw nothing (side note: about a month previous to this disturbance Steven and the boys found a bat in the basement!! I was, very fortunately, out of the house that evening and never had to see or experience the vile little creature... sorry I'm not a fan of the bat unless it's made of wood and held by a professional baseball player.)

So we gave up and went to bed. The next day, while Steven was at work I started to clean up the kitchen and while sweeping the floors I found, shall we say *evidence* that a mouse had been cruising our kitchen area. I therefore sensed that I should open the stove drawer and look at the glue traps that we have hanging out down there. We had caught one mouse in the drawer several months ago and I decided that I couldn't really bring myself to use that drawer for storage, maybe ever again, so I determined it would now become our continuous (out of sight, out of mind) mouse trap. And the idea worked perfectly because, yes, there was yet another mouse stuck to a trap. Case closed. Noise the previous night was the mouse that is now stuck to the yucky trap. *shiver*

So because I watched Verminators on the Discovery channel on-line, I am now a critter exterminating expert and know that when you remove a mouse from a trap you should really kinda leave things as they are because it will attract more mice to come join the party, so to speak. So once again we left glue traps in drawer and forgot about it.

Until last night.

Last night I was once again awakened by a really strange sound. The kids had their plastic easter eggs all over the floor in our school room and I kept thinking I heard *something* messing with the plastic eggs. I got up to investigate once again, and in my drowsy state and influenced by the darkened room I dreamed up the idea that the culprit must be something bigger than a mouse... and it scared me. So I woke up Steven, again.

We went together to the school room and I irrationally explained my irrational idea that there is a critter playing with the kids' easter eggs. I heard it. It's a fact. So Steven patiently helped me pick up all the eggs, put them in the basket on the table and then we stood there and listened to silence for a few seconds before we both determined that I was a crazy nut and went back to bed. Except when I went back to bed I kept hearing the strange noise. So I turned on the radio and went to sleep. eventually.

Fast forward to this evening. I'd pretty much been out of the house all day since early this morning and by the time I remembered my middle of the night mouse hunt (or worse) it was evening and all the kids were in the kitchen with me while Steven was in one of the back bedrooms. I thought, "hey, the last time I thought I heard something in the night it turned out to be a mouse and that mouse ended up stuck in my stove drawer... hmmm... I wonder..."

So I opened the drawer...

They say a picture is worth a thousand words...

Yes, yes, you are not seeing things, and unfortunately I wasn't either. This Prairie Kingsnake, as I've been told it is called, has been living in my house!!! and because of it's love for everything mousy it got itself adhered to not only the glue traps but also to my stove drawer! (Aha, plastic clicking sounds were not the easter eggs but were instead the snake wrestling with the glue traps in my stove drawer... why me?)

I called Steven (I really didn't freak out) and told him to come and see what I had. Yes, it was still alive, although looking pretty pathetic all gooed up.

Steven took the whole drawer outside and pulled the poor (why am I calling it "poor"??) thing off the drawer and laid him in the yard. The thing will have to be dead by morning I'm sure, it was totally covered with that goo!

Anyway, Isaiah freaked. Huston didn't even look. Avery didn't care and Lillie kept squatting down next to it saying, "nake. nake." with a big grin on her face. Guess I'll wake her up next time and maybe she can help me wrangle the stupid critters that think my house is more comfortable than the great outdoors. Sheesh.

Phew. That is the creepy tale I have to tell and I very much hoping it's the last one to share for a long, long time.

What I Learned from Easter Sunday

Lesson #1. I'm a terrible picture taker... I didn't take a one. Yes, the kids were cute and I will have to recreate that morning, "outfit-wise," sometime soon so that I can snap their picture. In my defense, Sunday is my "work day" and I head to church early in the morning with a few of the four while Steven comes later with the other two. So the kids were not all together, dressed and ready until they met in the church hallways (busy church hallways)... and then they weren't all together again until 4:00 that afternoon, and by then Isaiah and Huston's shirts were christened with salsa and remnants of their mexican lunch while Avery was in a completely different outfit... have I given a sufficient explanation by now as to why I'm a bad chronicler of my children's lives?

Lesson #2. I'm no fun. Ok, I'm going to admit something here that is very shocking... come a bit closer, cuz I'm going to whisper it... we don't do easter baskets. This year, I had to explain to my 8 and 6 year old who the Easter Bunny is... and I'm not talking in the sense that they have believed in him up until this time and it was time for the big talk... this is just a tradition that this pretty non-tradition accepting family has not done. And really I think I personally remember receiving an easter basket once when I was a kid. This is not to say that my parents didn't do the Easter basket thing, I just plain don't remember. I do remember that we got up in the middle of the night so that we could attend sunrise services and eat breakfast with the church family... and that was always fun, well the eating part was, I'm sure I was a grumpy sunrise service attender.

Not only do we not do the easter baskets, but we don't even color the eggs. I know, I know. I'm terrible. And I am not against these traditions in any way, I'm just a horrid holiday facilitator.

But then again it's really nice to have a holiday that is pretty much just about church. And at this point in my kids' lives, they either a.) don't know what their missing, b.) are content with a small holiday celebration, or c.) ok, this one only applies to my oldest one, but they get that this holiday is about something much deeper than bunnies and eggs and candy... ok, I may be stretching it concerning the candy, but he really was looking forward to being a part of the easter services.

Lesson # 3. Now before I make my whole two blog readers out there think that I am a determined holiday purist and the epitome of strong spiritual leadership within the home, I will tell you right now that we did do an easter egg hunt in our front yard... and the kids opened their plastic eggs to find candy and even dollar bills thanks to the Grandmas. And even after a day of church and family without much of the secular fanfare that easter brings, my 4-year old still manages to exclaim, "happy egg day!" to our guests as they were leaving our house after dinner. So you see, just about anything will try to rob Easter of it's true meaning, even innocent little candies stuffed into plastic eggs. ;)

All kidding aside, I hope that you all had a very Christ filled Easter weekend, because seriously, I don't know what on earth would be worth celebrating without His ultimate Easter gift and sacrifice.