Archive for April, 2010

My boys are ALL about the fair.  It gets brought about at least 74 times a day.  They aren’t interested in the fair food.  There isn’t any talk of deep fried oreos or egg rolls on a stick or spit roasted pig.  They never mention the rides put together by stoned carnies.  They could care less about the animals.

They talk about entering things for judging.  They talk about it non-stop.


I downloaded the forms to enter Marshall’s mission.  Along with the forms comes the list of all the different categories that you can choose from.  There are almost 200 different categories.  As I was looking Marshall was leaning over my shoulder.

Marshall:  Wait!  Wait!  Go back!

Me:  Why?

Marshall:  They have PRIZE MONEY!!!

Okay, technically they do have prize money.  1st place gets $3, 2nd place $2 and 3rd place $1. This of course is only after you pay 50 cents for each entry.

Really, what’s the point?  Unless your Marshall.  Who started counting all of his chickens before they could even think about being layed, let alone hatched.

I tried to head this off at the pass.

Me:  Don’t get carried away.  Just because you enter doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll win any prize money.  There will be lots of kids entering their stuff in the fair, you don’t know what your competition’s like.  (I’m such a kill joy)

Marshall had a bit of a sad puppy dog who was kicked kind of look.

Dave:  That’s what I love about the fair.  They judge based on the Dutch system.  Each entry is judged on it’s own merit.  They could have 5 pinewood derby cars and they could all win 1st place.

and the counting of the chickens started again.  Thanks Dave.


Daily I get asked to find the list of all the things they could enter in the fair.

“Hey mom, can we go buy a bunny to enter in the fair?”

“Hey mom, do you know how to make a collage?”

“Hey mom,  how do I make a hot dog cooker?”

“Hey mom, can we make a quilt?”

“Can you teach me how to crochet?”

“Do you know how to weld?”

And it goes on and on and on.  Endlessly every day.  Quite a few times a day.


Today it was rainy and miserable.  I gave into the pressure.  Marshall continued roofing and painting his mission.

Mike and I pulled out the sewing machine.

I was feeling a little guilty about abandoning math, but then I called an impromptu home ec class and read history aloud while he sewed square after square after square.

By the end of the day, the sink was full of dishes, we never did get around to English (he did read the directions for the quilt- I’m calling it good enough), and the house was a mess.  But I had a very happy boy and a warm fuzzy blanket, all ready to be entered in the fair.

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the baseball one

I figure that I spend almost 20 hours a week watching baseball games and practices.  If I’m lucky, kids will have practices and/or games at the same times which means that somehow I need to be in three places at once. This cuts down on the time, but definitely not the stress.

That’s a lot of meals on the go.  I’ve mastered the art of traveling food.  It’s no easy task making food, packing it and keeping it warm for the opportune time when the most of us can enjoy it at once. It requires skill and coordination.  They should make a facebook game for that.  It would be like Diner Dash except with lots of angry kids famishing away while they wait for mom to unpack the picnic basket.  It’s like family dinners around the table except we sit on the bleachers and I’m constantly telling the toddlers to sit down before they fall down.  This is usually followed by “You may want to spend the night in the ER, but I don’t!”

It’s also a lot hours sitting.  I’ve tried to bring something to do at the games, to make my time more productive.   I’ve brought my ipod.  I figured I could learn something by listing to all of the various lectures I have downloaded.  Turns out I need to hear while watching the games, my players are constantly calling me over.  It seems like no one ever remembers to bring water or sunflower seeds, both of which are a necessity to sitting in the dugout.  I’ve tried bringing a book.  Watching toddlers isn’t very conducive to reading.  I’ve tried bringing a crochet project.  As soon as Nathaniel picked up the ball of yarn and said “A ball” I promptly put the whole thing back in my bag.

I’ve also tried catching up on my phone calls while watching the games.  But all of the players calling me over and orchestrating of the meals and toddlers running don’t make for very good conversation.

Baseball also involves lots of stuff, way more stuff than any other sport.  I’m not exactly sure why, but it does.  The player brings a huge bag filled with who knows what.  We bring the wagon,  4 chairs, a blanket, snacks, food, water, toys to occupy the toddlers, my purse for the never ending requests for the snack bar, stuff to occupy the older siblings,  baseball gear for everyone not playing,  and the camera.

The camera, which more often than not never makes it out of the bag.  You wouldn’t know that though from the massive amounts of pictures we have. Literally hundreds. Hundreds.

don’t think for a second we won’t be sharing this on the jumbo tron during his first game in  MLB

and what may you ask do the toddlers do?  Other than whine insistently that they are cold, hot, hungry, thirsty, NEED candy, have to go pee, or want to go home?  They play ball too.

They usually only play together for a few minutes before becoming frustrated with the others baseball skills.  “Throw the ball TO ME not to the sky!”  And then they play alone.  Mike taught them a great game:  Throw the ball up high in the air and catch it.  Except the can’t catch.

yep, not even looking.

and if I’m really lucky.  They sleep.

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Let me tell you about my first 5k.  It requires a little bit of background information.

I’ve done all of my training inside on my treadmill.  This way I don’t have to worry about nasty weather.  Or cars.  Or dogs.  Or the kids.  I can just run.  When I started the Couch Potato to 5k, I was running for time.  After the alloted time my treadmill would say I had run something incredibly ridiculous like 1.5 miles.

I started training for distance.  It was taking FOREVER at the  pace I was running.  In my head I was calculating how long it would take me to finish each portion of the workout at the current pace.  I wasn’t willing to spend a good chunk of the twins’ nap running. Plus, I’m impatient and get bored very easily, no amount of Hillary Duff could possibly keep me entertained for that long.  I upped the pace.  I thought I would literally die.  But I didn’t.  And when I ran the next time, I still didn’t die.

I was pretty convinced that my treadmill kept inaccurate distance.

Dave suggested running around the local high school.  But I’m lazy.  I also hate to leave the kids home alone during school hours.  I figure that during school hours I’m supposed to be teaching the kids.  It would look incredibly bad if something happened and I was out running, shopping, or insert any other mundane task.   One call to 911 would lead to the CPS being called and then prison time.  You may call it paranoia, I call it responsible.  So, I run on my treadmill while the kids watch educational tv or read or do something “educational” aka legos or fight.

For an early birthday present dave bought me a new ipod and the Nike plus iPod Kit.  I calibrated it and it told me that my treadmill was indeed off, by almost a quarter of a mile.  I was pretty darn excited.  That’s like finding $5 in your pocket except it comes in the form of less sweat and finishing earlier.

Dave was convinced that my treadmill was correct and the Nike thing was wrong.  He was sure that it was biased to short people.  I was happy with my 1/4 mile shortening.  I think that short legs should get some kind of handicap for races. Obviously, I have to take twice as many steps as someone with longer legs.

Fast forward to the race.  It was at Great America.

There are a few things I would have done differently while I was training.

I would have been sure to start each run off  with 1200 people all trying to get through a 20 foot starting line.  They should have separated us by serious runners, somewhat serious runners, people who think they are runners, beginners, fast walkers, walkers, slow walkers, and kids.  Instead it was akin to a bottleneck. I think some training in elbowing would have been nice.

After about a half of a mile it was less pushing and shoving and everyone more or less found their pace.  Except for the occasional person who would run up really fast on the right, scare the crap out of me, and then decide to stop right in front of me.  The first few times I was rather perturbed.  After that, I figured I deserved the break and I’d walk behind them.

I’d also be less concerned about the kids  1 mile.  Instead of just running and using my body as a judge of distance, I was using the kids one mile marker as a judge of distance.  We were told that the 1 mile race would be clearly labeled and then the 5k-ers would continue on.  I never saw the break off.  There were kids behind me and in front of me.  The whole race I thought I hadn’t even finished one mile.

I’d trust the technology.  The Nike thing gives you little encouraging updates.  “you’ve completed 1k”.   You can either choose a woman or a man as the voice.  I chose a woman.  (Her name is Helga and even though she sounds really sweet, she’s kind of a bitch because she never says “Good Job” or anything else encouraging.  I’ve also found out that she’s that way because her boyfriend left her for another man.  She’s also kind of pissed that she’s my personal trainer because she has a degree in Economics and really should have a more high paying job.  Honestly though, if she has a degree in economics she should have seen this down turned economy.  And because of this depression, she’s now contemplating a boob job.  All of this was surmised during the first kilometer of the run)

When she told me that I had finished 2k.  I started to try to convert Kilometers to miles in my head.  5 divided by 3.1, oh wait, or is that 3.1 divide by 5?  Yeah that sounds better.  Okay, three goes into 5 one time, bring down a zero.  Oh crap, I forgot to breathe!  Where was I again?  This took a whole kilometer to figure out.

At this point I saw Dave, and as he tried to take my picture I whined that Helga said I finished 3k but the 1 mile fun run hadn’t even ended yet.  She’s a lying bitch and it feels like I’ve been running longer than one mile.  Do you know where the finish line is?  Is this race ever going to end?!

Helga and I kept running.  We followed the mass crowd of people into a parking lot.  I kept trying to imagine my hight school track and I was pretty sure that two of them could have fit into this parking lot.  This meant that it had to be at least a half mile long.  I  jogged/walked around the stupid thing and still no end to the kids race.  There were still kids all around me.

I followed the crowd into a different parking lot, that was even bigger!  Helga announces that I only have 1 more kilometer to go.  I’m pretty sure at this point that either a)I’m really terrible at judging distance or b)my treadmill is really off c)Helga is malfunctioning or d) the people who mapped the race are morons who can’t judge distance either.

At this point I’m ready to quit.  I figured that when the kids 1 mile race ends, I’m quitting.  I kept running. As I am really close to one last turn, where I’m pretty sure the 1 mile race is ending, Helga congratulates me on completing my first 5k.   And I’m internally telling her she’s stupid because we haven’t even done a mile yet.  Can’t she see all these kids?!

I continue the last 200 yards and the cheers start.  I round the corner and there’s the finish line.

And it was over.

And I had to apologize to Helga.  But it’s done.  And I’m ready for the next one.

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  1. Learn to crochet and make something besides a scarf.
  2. Use my sewing machine for something other than sewing on cubscout patches and hemming.
  3. Finish that tree skirt I’ve been working on since 2005.  I kid you not, 5 years.   It’s an adorable cross stitch monstrosity.
  4. Become a better photographer.  At the very least, know what all the buttons on my fancy shmancy camera are for.
  5. Continue running.  Even if it kills me.
  6. Run a 5k accomplished!
  7. Read all of the magazines in my very large pile of magazines.
  8. Read the Bible everyday, beginning to end.
  9. Read the complete works of Jane Austen.  Pride Prejudice and Zombies does not count, no matter how amazing it was.
  10. Take one of those cycling Napa tours.  Nothing sounds more fun than drinking and riding a bicycle.
  11. Get up early enough to enjoy the paper and a cup of coffee in peace and solitude.  More than one day in a row.
  12. Host a dinner party.
  13. Go flying with Dave.
  14. Be a grown up and buy life insurance.
  15. Finish the front yard.  or at least eradicate all of the round bushes.
  16. Get a stamp in my passport, even if I have to beat it out of a Canadian.
  17. Take the kids camping and enjoy myself, even with mosquitos and dirt.
  18. Take the kids on a hike and enjoy it despite all of the whining.
  19. Take the kids to the beach and enjoy it despite the sand. (do you see a pattern here?)
  20. Potty train Nathaniel. DONE
  21. Resist yelling at all of my five children for 24 hours, (internal yelling is okay).
  22. Have a consistent bedtime routine for my older kids.
  23. Finish reading Redwall to my boys and then move on to Tale of Desperaux.  For some reason they like books about mice.
  24. Bring my PG&E bill under the $100 mark.  This may mean roasting without air conditioning and taping all of the light switches to the off position, but it will happen.
  25. Make a decision and hang curtains on all of my windows.
  26. Bathe the dog.
  27. Learn how to cut the boys hair.  Even if I have to enroll in barber school.
  28. Dig out that stained glass window kit and make something beautiful.
  29. Take a family portrait.
  30. Buy season tickets to the theater.
  31. Be thankful for something every single day.

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The boys are learning about Jupiter and all of it’s amazing glory.  Did you know that Jupiter is like a mini solar system within our solar system? I had no idea.  Did you know that Jupiter gives off heat? Did you know that Jupiter has rings around it? Yep, me either.  It makes me wonder if I ever paid attention in school.

We did an experiment to demonstrate weather patterns.

Everyone could make the hurricane work but Jacob, which of course resulted in lots of tears.

Science, it’s not for the faint of heart.

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I have 4 boys.   4 boys with hair that grows extremely fast.  4 boys that seem to always need a haircut.

4X$12+tips=way more than cheap Chanel wants to pay every 4-6 weeks.

I’ve tried really hard to convince my boys that long hair is awesome.  Fabio has built a romance empire on his long hair.  Kurt Cobain:  long hair.  Anthony Kiedis from the Red Hot Chili Peppers way hotter with long hair.  Albert Einstein was rocking some long locks.  Thomas Jefferson, founder of our nation, his hair was pony tail length.  Jesus, our Savior, God’s son, long hair.

None of my boys will go for it.  Even sweet Nathaniel with the adorable grown out page-boy haircut complains about his long hair.

wouldn’t we make beautiful baby girls?

I figured that I could start cutting the boy’s hair.  How hard could it be?  It definitely isn’t rocket science.  Right?

My mom gave me some clippers.  It was a disaster.

Dave’s grandpa gave us a Flowbee.  Marshall begged to have his hair cut with the vacuum.  It was like an infomercial in our living room.  Can’t you feel the excitement.

It lasted about as long as an infomercial too.  It was the LONGEST hair cut ever.  Flowbee does not equal easy haircut.  What it does equal is a rather mediocre haircut that took ten times longer than a normal haircut.  Imagine your vacuum running for an hour while you try really hard to get thousands of hairs in the suction chamber.   When we finally finished, Marshall went to inspect it in the mirror.  He called back, “I think I want it shorter.”

Take two.

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BDB Academy

There are many different ways that one can homeschool in California.

You can enroll your kid in an independent study program at a public, charter or private school.  Each program is different and requires different things like being forced to use specific curriculum, meeting with a paid teacher,  participating in school events and normally testing.  There are perks to ISPs.  You usually get free curriculum.  There are organized field trips and lots of “socialization” opportunities.  Plus there is a “professional” to help you.

For those who want more independence, you can register as your own private school.  There is the freedom to choose any curriculum (or none).  There are no meetings with teachers.  There isn’t any forced testing.  You can be as secular or nonsecular as you like.  Your kids can work at their own paces.  If your 1st grader is a whiz at math, nothing is stopping them from being at a 3rd grade level.  If your kid loves art, you can tailor their whole learning experience to revolve around their passion.  If you want to spend a month caravaning around California to visit every mission rather than make a stupid mission model, more power to you.

While we were researching all of our options, this was the one that Dave was  a little bit hesitant on.  Forming our own private school meant that there wasn’t anyone to pass the buck to.  Literally the buck stopped with us.  If our kids grew up and had no idea what their times tables or what photosynthesis was, it’s totally my fault.  I couldn’t say that our ISP never told me to teach multiplication.  Then we learned that not only would we have the freedom to make all of our own rules, but we could also make up our own name and give ourselves any positions that we wanted.

You could be the superintendent and I could be the headmistress…

Of course, this was the option we chose.  Freedom, Choice and Fun.

While working on his Scholar badge for Cub Scouts, Marshall casually reminded me of this today.  First, he read about how a school system is organized. By the way, don’t you just love the illustration.  I especially love the coach.  I’m guessing these are the same illustrations from 1950.  At least the hairstyles are timeless.

Then he had to draw a flow chart about how his school system is ran.

No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t get him to draw a picture of us next to the flow chart.   I tried to get him to add in all of the other boxes.  He wasn’t going for that either.  At least he knows where the buck stops now.  Yep, the buck stops here.

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I’ve been training with the Coach Potato to 5k  in order to get ready for the 5k I’ve entered myself in.  It’s been pretty easy, which should have alerted me right away. The program gives you two options, running for time or running for distance.  Supposedly, both will get you to the 5k at the same speed.  I’ve found out that’s a lie though.  I was running for time because I found a nice podcast, and it’s a little easier to judge time rather than distance on a podcast.

I’ve also been running on my treadmill.  I noticed that after all of my hard work the treadmill said I had only run some ridiculously small amount of mileage.  Also, after I’ve finished torturing myself it says something completely asinine, like I’ve only burned 108 calories, which I always respond indignantly”You don’t know how much extra weight I’m lugging around as I run and you don’t know how short my legs are!  If you knew that my legs are really as long as a short child’s, I’m sure you’d figure out I’ve burned more than 100 measly calories!” This is an ongoing conversation that my treadmill and I have.

So last week I decided that I really needed to run for distance.  I figure that if I don’t start training by distance, somewhere around 2.7K I’ll be done running.   My podcast will have reached the end, the podcaster will be announcing his congratulations and I’ll still be in the middle of the race.  How much would that suck?

I abandoned the podcast,  found some website that had a nice listing of “great songs to run to” and compiled a list from our already extensive music library.

Let me tell you, running for distance was a lot harder than running for time.  I don’t think I’ve ever sweated this much!

Amazingly, while I was running I finally found my rhythm.  The rhythm led to my first runner’s high in a very long time, like probably a decade. It was amazing.  My body felt like a finely oiled machine, with rhythm!

Up until that point I felt like at any moment I might literally keel over and die.  I was hot and sweaty and beginning to wonder why I had decided to run in the first place.

Turns out, my muse is Hilary Duff.  Who would have known? Who would have known that my body loves Lizzie McGuire?  I hadn’t really ever listened to anything by Hilary Duff, so the next day I put the whole album on my ipod.  I figured that she’d make the 5k a breeze.  She didn’t really do it for me, I was rather disappointed, until I came to the same song.  All of a sudden, there was the rhythm.  I was gliding.   The whole time, I was thinking to myself, “Wow, I’m a runner!”

I’m pretty sure that it was the beat.  The song was a remix version. I had a great idea. I made a playlist for all songs in our itunes with “remix”, and put them all on my ipod.  It was something ridiculous like 5 hours of music.  I figured that what I didn’t like, I could just skip past.

The next day I ran.  A good majority of the running had my finger on my ipod skipping to the next song.  I was beginning to think it was a terrible idea after the 12th skip in a row.  And then, there was Hilary again, and my rhythm.  And after Hil (because at this point we’re rather familiar) a couple of other songs kept the rhythm going.

and then there was this.

Let me tell you, it’s rather difficult to run and laugh.  There is no rhythm while you’re trying to catch a deep enough breath to laugh.

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I can be a baker

When Dave and I were dating, I’d always say things like “I’ll be little red riding hood and you can be the big bad wolf”  or “you be the policeman and I can be the naughty speeder” or “You could be the pirate and I could be the wench”.   It was an ongoing joke.   Of course this was before we were married and our life was consumed by all the stuff it’s consumed by.  I wonder sometimes, how we had the time to do all of the things we did.  I think when you’re married and have kids the hours in the day shrink.  And then when you buy a house, they shrink even more.

Sorry, back on topic.  So, I can be a baker…

I think that I may have actually mastered the art of yeast.  This week I made these beauties.

Yep, homemade hamburger buns.  They were incredibly delicious, surprisingly easy, and absolutely gorgeous!

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I guess there are many things that seem to consume lots of my time.  Things like the ever elusive “good night’s sleep”.

Or pee and poopie.  If there was an app to track how often I said things, the top hit would probably be pee and number 2 hit would be poopie.  The third probably being the ever popular under-the-breath “oh shit”  which most likely is in reference to the pee and poop.  It feels like my life revolves around excrement.  I’m toilet training toddlers, twin toddlers (boy did that sentence have a ton of alliteration!). Twin boy toddlers.  I accept your apologies.

It might also be laundry, because mine seems to never end.

I’d like to claim that it’s running, but honestly I have to force myself to start.  There are lots of internal dialogue and arguing about whether or not I should start running or start a worthwhile task like separating all our legos by color.  I’m sad to say that our legos are color coded.

My real obsession though is with food storage and accumulation.  When I visit someone’s house I’m always curious where they keep their food.  How big is there pantry?  How much food do they keep in it?  How do they organize it?  How can I improve my pantry? What do people keep stocked in theirs?  Do they have a deep freeze?  What kinds of food do they keep in their deep freeze?

I’m a little embarrassed to say that I have pantry envy. I’ve thought more about remodeling and adding onto my pantry than any other room of the house.  I’ve also thought about finding a Mormon friend to smuggle me into their food storage classes.  How exactly does one keep and store enough food to feed a family of 7 for a year?  Crazies like me really want to know.  If the end of the world comes, how many hotdogs should I have in the freezer?  This is important!  As a little tangent, we should buy a generator to run the freezer.

I do have a rather impressive pantry.  We could probably live off of it for a very long time, months at least.  Of course by the end of those months we would be very tired of rice and beans with the occasional cracker thrown in.

Honestly, I think that it’s my alarmist tendencies that have me so obsessed with food accumulation.  If there is some kind of catastrophe, we might not have heat or water, but we’ll have food dammit! Because if something leaves us poor and destitute, there really are too many of us to mooch off of our fellow survivors.  At least I can bring my well stocked pantry (and maybe our generator?) to the table.  I’m thinking ahead.

And it is this weird obsession that gives me little pieces of joy.  I enjoy going to the grocery store.  I enjoy it even if I have to take all the children.  (At least with the kids I don’t feel so bad with two shopping carts full of food.)  I enjoy unloading all of the bags.  I enjoy putting all of the food away.  I enjoy lining the cans in the pantry.    I get a huge sense of satisfaction knowing that the green beans are lined up next to the corn with their labels facing out.  It’s not a “Sleeping with the Enemy” sort of obsession, but it’s how I like them.   I enjoy refilling the dry goods and lining and stacking the mason jars.  I feel at ease knowing that the pantry is full.  It’s a little therapeutic.

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