Archive for November, 2011

If you’re not a homeowner, let me tell you something about homeownership.  It sucks.  If the water heater goes out, sucks to be you.  There’s no landlord to call.  You better hope that you find a really awesome youtube video or a very informative guy at Home Depot.  If your heater won’t heat the house higher than 63 degrees, it sucks to be you.  You better hope you know an honest heater repair guy.

Let me tell you about owning a piece of forest.  It sucks even more.  I guess if you own 60 acres and a mule, then it probably sucks less.  If a tree falls on the back forty, who cares?  Free firewood!  But if you only own 1.65 acres, each tree is like a mini heart attack.  Each tree could fall on something you care about:  the house, the car, a kid, the transformer.

We have two dead trees on our property, and one more which might be ours or might be the neighbors.  Since we’ve moved in, Dave’s been talking about being a lumberjack.  It wasn’t very helpful when all of his engineering friends came over and thought they were lumberjacks too.  There were talks about angles and hypotenuses and trajectories and laws of physics and gravity.

Now that it’s turned cold and there are things that us Californians aren’t used to, things like ice and snow and sleet, people are talking about things which we have no knowledge of.  Things like water spigot covers and tree hazards and freezing pipes.  Our neighbor had trees felled and they came over and gave us a quote for $1600 to cut three trees down!  Yes $1600 to cut a trees down.  I figured they could fall and hit the house and our insurance deductible would be less than that.

We woke up this morning to a fire in the back yard.  I called the neighbor to make sure she knew that there was smoke billowing from the forest.

Her:  Yes.  A tree fell last week and we’re burning the branches.

Me:  I heard that tree fall!  It made a loud crack!

Her:  Really?  We didn’t hear it and it came feet from the house! By the way?  Are you going to take care of that tree in the front? It looks hecka (except she didn’t say hecka because that’s very NorCal) scary!

I relayed the conversation to Dave.

Dave:  I’ll go cut it down right now!

Me: Don’t you have homework to do?

Dave:  I take my procrastination seriously!

Me:  So, it’s not that I don’t trust you and I’m not confident in your lumberjack skills, it’s just that I’m a big fan of gravity.

And I thought that ended the conversation.

Until I heard the chainsaw fire up.

Please excuse the terrible pictures.  I didn’t dare venture from the confines of the house.  I thought about taking all the kids to the movies but then if Dave ended up sawing through a limb no one would be here to call 9-1-1.

Marshall:  What is Dad doing?

Me:  Cutting down the tree!

Marshall:  I didn’t know we needed firewood that bad.

Nate:  I hope he doesn’t die.  I like him.

And then the chainsaw stopped.  I wondered if there were emergency tree surgeons willing to come finish cutting down a tree on a Saturday during Thanksgiving weekend.  I also wondered how much that would cost us.  I figured at least a 50% mark up.  I wonder if they’d take some banana bread in trade.  1600 loaves of banana bread.  Totally doable.  Maybe I could barter with my R2D2 hat.

Dave:  I’m going to run to Sears.  It looks like I need some chain grease.

Me:  You’re going to leave the tree like that?!?

Dave:  Yes.  One of two things will happen.  It will be like that when I come back.  Or, it will fall while I’m gone and the work will be done.

Me:  Or it will fall and take out the transformer and we’ll be without power and there will be a live power line wriggling on the ground and we’ll start a fire.

Dave:  Come on, it’s too wet to start a serious fire.  And if the tree takes out the transformer we’ll just call PSE and tell them a tree fell.

Me:  And we’ll get a big bill for taking out the power line.

Dave:  Only if we admit to it.

Me:  I think it’s rather obvious you were trying to cut down the tree.

Dave.  Rouge lumberjacks.  Happens all the time.

And he made the final cut.  The tree didn’t fall.  It was a little anticlimactic.

And then Dave pushed on it.


Then he started to cut some more with the chainsaw.  From inside we saw the tree swaying back and forth.  I started fervently praying protection over the house, the cars, Dave, the driveway (I had been praying before, but this was a little frantic, like incessant doorbell ringing or stalkerish calling).

The scariest moment was when the tree finally decided to cave to gravity. TIMBER!!!

I think I’ll have to go out and buy him a red and black plaid wool shirt and a pair of suspenders. All of the kids ran outside and the neighbors came out of their hiding places.

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the elephant and the mummy

We left cubscouts with two crying preschoolers.  They were upset because they didn’t get a second cookie.  Or maybe it was a third or fourth cookie. I tried my favorite parenting technique.  Distraction.

Me:  Shhh.  I’m looking for a wild animal!  Be quite!  I’m trying to find the resident coyote.

Nate: I don’t like the coyote.  He scares me.

(I’m pretty sure that Nathaniel has never seen the resident coyote, because if he did, he’d cease to be afraid of him.  He is easily mistaken for a scraggly mutt rather than the ferocious beast with blood dripping from his razor sharp canines.)

Dave:  Nathaniel what do coyotes eat?

Nate:  Birds.  These things that are long and round and worm shaped.  And they are worms. Rabbits.

Dave:  Are those things big or small?

Nate:  small

Dave:  Are you big or small?

Nate:  small

Dave:  But are you bigger than a bird or a worm or a rabbit?

Nate:  Yes.  I am much bigger.

Dave:  See you don’t have to worry, a coyote will not eat you.

Jake:  Don’t’ forget they eat dead animals.

Dave:  That’s right.  If they found a squirrel that was run over by a car they might eat that.

Nate:  What about a boy who was run over by a car?  would they eat that?

Me:  No, if you were run over by a car we would take you to the hospital.  We wouldn’t leave you in the middle of the road.

Nate:  I still don’t want to look for a coyote.

Me:  Okay, what should we look for?  A cougar?  A rabbit?

(take in mind that it’s already dark, because up here next to the North pole, we don’t get much sunshine)

Nate:  I want to look for an elephant.  A cute and cuddly elephant with a trunk.

Jake:  Elephants don’t live in Washington!  This is not their habitat!

Nate:  Maybe he is a lost elephant. He could be looking for his mommy.  Let us look for the lost elephant.

Jake:  Elephants would not be lost in Washington.  They live in the jungle.  This is not a jungle!  This is the forest!  Elephants DO NOT live in the forest.

Nate:  Maybe he lived in the zoo and he is lost.  Baby elephant!  Baby Elephant!  Are you lost?

Jake:  (clearly deciding he can’t argue with him and is going to give up)  You know what you’d have to look for it this was the desert?

Me:  What?

Jake:  Mummies.

Me: Mummies?

Jake:  Yes!  If you saw sand and pyramids, there’s definitely mummies near by, and you better watch out.  That’s something to be scared of.

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Out of the blue yesterday Dave said the sweetest thing to me.

Him:  I was thinking yesterday how thankful I am for you.  I’m in charge of one thing.  Going to work.  You’re in charge of so much.  Our finances, grocery shopping, meal planning, cooking, the children, teaching the children, the car, the house, cleaning, laundry and all the household stuff and probably a lot more.

I was incredibly thankful and rather humbled that he verbalized this to me.  Because honestly, this last week was tough.

Our water heater went out and I was in charge of that too.  Dave had days and days of long meetings at work which made him incommunicado. While I spent the day calling plumbers and boiling water I grumbled.  I grumbled that if June Cleaver was ever in charge of the water heater or if Mr. Cleaver took care of it. I silently bitched that I wished I was the husband instead of the wife.

With a cursory glance with feminist era colored glasses, the role of the husband is definitely the easier one.  He has one hat.  Provider.  And I have so many.  My hats could dance circles around his hat.

When I really thought about being the husband, I am so incredibly grateful that I am not one.

Yes, he’s the provider.

Every day he gets up, earlier than he wants to, and goes to work.  On the days when he’s not feeling a 100%, he still goes.  On the days when its 30 degrees outside he goes.  On the days when a little body attaches itself to his leg and begs him to stay home, he still has to go.  Every day.  If I don’t want to do my job, I don’t have to.  I can cancel all my plans and reschedule them for tomorrow or next week.  It’s not the end of the world.  I can call in sick, and some one will step up to the plate and make a pb&j sandwich so that the younger guys won’t starve.  I’m not saying that my job is any less important, but that the amount of dependence on my job is much less.  Let’s be honest, most times a well-qualified nanny could replace many of my duties.  If I up and decided to stop grocery shopping, I’m sure that Dave would start ordering our groceries online and have them delivered.  If I never restocked the toilet paper, though someone would have an uncomfortably awkward time, it would get done.  Even if an 11-year-old had to walk to the store, I’m sure we wouldn’t be out forever.  Yet if Dave decided to stop working, our means of existence would completely change.

But it’s so much more than just being a provider in monetary means.  By providing for us, day in and day out, without lapse and without complaint, Dave provides a sense of security and safety.  I know, that in the event that Dave lost his job, we’d be okay.  I know that he would take care of us. We might develop a love for beans and rice, but we’d be well taken care of.  This blanket of security that he has laid over our family gives me such a sense of peace.  It calms my over-anxious heart in times without renters, in times of a bad economy, in times of more month than pay check.  The silent, reliable example of hard work ethic is one that will shape our sons into being good providers for their families.  It gives our daughter an example of what she should expect from her future husband.

While providing so well for us, he gives me the freedom and ability to become a better wife, mother and person.  Each day that he goes off to work, I am thankful. I am grateful for the opportunity and I don’t want to squander it. Each day, I try hard to make the sacrifices which he makes for us, worth it.  And in that one thought, that one sentence, I realized that all of my hats could never even compare to his one hat. Each responsibility, each job, every call to the plumber, every trip to the grocery store, every toilet I clean, I do because I am so thankful for his provision for me.  There is no greater gift that he could ever give me.  I am so blessed to be able to stay at home. I am so blessed to be provided for so incredibly well.  I am so very, very appreciative to have a husband who strives to love and care for me as Christ loved the church.

I am so thankful that I am the wife, and not the husband.

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around here

While driving in the car, I noticed that Nathaniel had his eyes closed.  All parents know that there is nothing worse than a car nap.  Usually it results in cranky and angry children.

Me:  Natey!  Natey!  Are you asleep?  (which he clearly is trying to do) Don’t go to sleep!  We’re almost home!  No sleeping in the car!

Nate:  I’m not asleep!  I’m watching a movie on the inside of my eyes.

Mike:  Are you watching Cars 2?

Nate:  No!  It’s not a real movie!  (said in the ever favorite DUH tone) It’s an imagination movie.


At Mike’s 9-year-old physical

Doctor:  What do you like to do for fun?

Mike:  I like to use my imagination.

Doctor:  What do you mean?

Mike:  You know, your imagination.  It’s in your brain.  You make stuff up there.  It can be fun.  (talking to her in an incredulous tone as if he can’t believe she made it through med school)


Mckayla posted this on facebook:

Home alone!  Making fish sticks for my brothers.

Dave replied:  Safety fail.

Mckayla:  Why is making fish sticks unsafe?

I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt, and surmise she was just being humorous.


At church on Sunday I reminded Marshall that we sing during worship.

Marshall:  I’m saving my voice for the Christmas program.


The pet girl had a make over.   She has been renamed Snooky.

Now we don’t only hide the scissors, but also the markers.




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This ones for the kids


There are many things I knew I was giving up to be a mom.  Things like the dream of living in a small one bedroom condo in the city across from the theatre.  Or sleep and a vacation home in Barbados.  Okay, I never had a vacation home in Barbados but I’m pretty sure that Barbados is out of the picture.  Let me tell you about some of the unknown sacrifices that I willingly (and mostly happily) make for you.

in no particular order

Going pee first.  Yes, my sacrifice to you, is that I will hold it so you can go first.  You might not think it’s a big one, but it’s paramount.  It might be right up there with getting a good night’s sleep, well when I’ve really got to go. Today I realized that it is one of the unspoken rules of motherhood.  It doesn’t matter that I’ve had 4 cups of coffee and a Big Gulp and you’ve already gone 8 times this morning, the moment I have to go, you amazingly have to go too.  As we rush into the bathroom and I do the potty dance, crossing my legs, squeezing my knees together and practicing some kegels like my life dependeded on it, I let you and your small bladder go first. This involves laying of toilet paper and paper toilet seats or even lifting the seats.  It may involve wiping your adorable hiney.  And let me tell you, the sound of you tinkling doesn’t make the situation any easier.  I’d like to knock you out of the way and pee like a race horse, but I don’t I let you go first.  You’re welcome.

The last bite.  Who knew that being a mom would be like constantly being surrounded by a pack of vultures.  The moment I sit down to eat in peace, there one of you.  The cookie I tuck into the back of the pantry seems to be sniffed out as if you are all part blood hound.  When I’ve slowly savored every bite of my dessert one of you looks at me with sad puppy dog eyes and there goes the last bite.  I fully expect to be reimbursed when you all become my grown children.  I want cheesecakes and chocoloate fudge brownies and tirimisu.  I’m resolved though that by that time I’ll be giving the last bite to your children.  Maybe I will institute a no family Tuesday afternoon where I will eat all of the last bites.

Watching a tv show all the way through.  Unless it’s animated, I have given up watching anything worthwhile while any of you are around.  For the love of the silver screen, why can’t you guys be quite and sit still?

Personal space.  I knew I’d loose my personal space, but I didn’t quite understand what this meant.  It means being woken up with a nose literally milimeters from mine.  It means fingers under the bathroom door while I’m just trying to find a moments peace.  Or being used like a jungle gym, security screen and even a human shield during a nerf gun fight.

The bikini.  5 babies, two of them sharing my womb together have greatly scarred my belly. I know there is the picture going around that there is beauty in my scarred belly.  It’s a testimony of my love to you.  I willingly sacrifice everything I have to be your mother, including my body.  Though it may be figuratively beautiful because it symbolizes my love for you.  It symbolizes the bond which no one can break.  Yet, it will never be bikini worthy again.  No amount of dieting, stretch mark cream or lotion can resurrect it to its prebaby beatuy.  For all of our sakes, the bikini must be sacrificed.  Also, see the abandoned dream of a vacation home in Barbados.   What is Barbados minus the bikini.

I’m sure that there are more, hundreds more.  Just know that I love you.  Even with all of the millions of ways that parenting sucks, I’m still glad I’m a parent.

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21 days of travel (to be completely honest, he was home for a short 16 hour respite 5 days in)

9,000 miles

3 countries

2 continents

1 lost tooth

1 birthday

1 Halloween

and he’s finally home!

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Around here

Nate:  I have lost my pet!!!  I have lost my pet!

Me:  What kind of pet are we looking for?

Nate:  She is a little girl.

Me:  We will find  her.  What does she look like?

Nate:  She is a girl.  She has a little little house and she has a little door and she is little and lost.  (don’t you love the descriptive qualities of a 4 year old.)

Me:  Okay, lets look for a little girl.

Mckayla finds a polly pocket on the floor.


Nate:  It’s my little girl!  You found my little girl!  (and he tucks her into a little house).


Nate:  Yes,  I did not like her hair.  It was too big.

McKayla:  She was a collector’s item (I did not know that polly pockets had entered collector’s item status)!  Now she is just a doll with a mullet.

Nate:  No.  Now she is my pretty pet.  I am going to put her in her house and tape it shut.


blood curling scream!

Nate:  We have scary bugs in this house!!

Me:  (wishing Dave was home) Where is the scary bug?

Nate:  I don’t know, but I found it’s cocoon and its HUGE!

Me:  Bring it to me.

Nate:  No way!

dreadfully I go see this huge cocoon which is inside my house.

Me:  This isn’t a cocoon.  This is a fig seed.

Nate: I don’t believe you.

Me:  See, here’s a fig. Eat it and you will find the seed inside it.

Nate:  (with a look of disgust)  There are cocoons in our food?!


Jacob:  Mom!  There are salt crystals all over our steps!!!  (our front porch iced.  i think he’s been listening to too much 6th grade science)

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a continuation…

11:00 After switching the laundry yet again (how many clothes do six people wear?), I gather all the boys again.  Mike and Marshall resume writing and science.  I sit down with the twins for some formal preschool.  They negotiate a piece of candy for participating.  I give in because we have more candy than Carter has liver spots.  We start with Bible. We  sing, say the pledge of allegiance, sing some more.  We read a bible story. They recite some bible verses and we sing some more (who knew Abeka loved singing so much).

11:15  We move onto math.  I pass out worksheets and they color like crazy.  Recently we’ve moved from scribbling all over the color page to an intricate rainbow color scheme.  I put on some music and leave them to it while I get Marshall started on writing the rough draft of a persuasive essay (trying to convince me to buy him a dog) and Mike and I begin science.


Nate: I’m done.

Me:  You’re not.  Write your name on the top and write me four perfect fours.

Nate (melting):  it’s too hard.

Marshall:  I don’t know how to do this.

I reexplain.

11:18  Nate:  This is too hard.

11:19  Nate:  I’m hungry!  This is too hard

11:20-12:00 The whining persists and in between the whining and complaining, Mike and I read two books about Amphibians and Frogs.  Did you know that there was a frog who birthed it’s young through its mouth?  Sounds disgusting to me.

Nate:  Did I come out of your mouth?

Me:  Thankfully, you did not!  Did you finish those 4s?  (you love how I just distracted him from the whole “You came out of my vagina” conversation).

12:01 Marshall is still complaining about how hard this is.

12:01 Jacob finishes and earns a piece of candy.  Nate ups his complaining.

12:02 Mike helps Nate write his name.  Going so far as making him a dot-to-dot.

12:10 Nate finally earns a piece of candy.

12:15 Marshall is still complaining.

Me:  Dude, I thought you wanted a dog?  convince me without using propaganda. 

12:16 I sneak downstairs to escape and do laundry.

12:20 Marshall is still complaining.

12:21  Nate is starving.  I feed everyone another round of banana bread.  Call the nutrition police on me.  I spread it with peanut butter and call it lunch.

12:22 The balloon war resumes.  Marshall continues to complain.

12:25 I send the twins down for a nap, which really means being quite in another room.  We switch gears and start History. Marshall throws a mini tantrum.

Me: What is your problem?

Him:  History, english, chinese, reading, There’s too much!

Me:  You do know it’s only 12:30 right?

12:35 I take the ipad from the twins and send them to different rooms. We continue history.

12:50 We start map work.

1:00  We go back to English.  Mike joins in this time drafting a letter.

1:15 We’re still complaining writing.

1:20 We’re still moaning writing.

1:40 We’re finally writing!

1:41 I let the twins get up and we sing some geography songs and try to learn our address and then move on to phonics and reading some of those library books.

2:00 We’re still writing.

2:15 We are all finally done!

2:30 Mckayla walks in the door.  Thank goodness for the bus!

2:31 the phone rings and plans are being hashed for this evening.

2:35 I’ve spoken to parents to coordinate tonight’s event.

3:00 We break out the crayons and make stained glass leaves.

3:45 I say a little prayer of Thanksgiving that God is in charge of the real leaves not me.  I am a terrible leaf maker.

4:00 We straighten up the house.

4:30 We put away the Halloween decorations.  Somewhere in the last thirty days we’ve seem to have lost a box.

5:00 McKayla’s friend shows up.

Jake:  You’re late.  Our house was spooky.  Now it’s just normal.

5:30  I make dinner.  Bean burritos.  I’ll let you be awed at the fact that I made them from dry pinto beans.  We’ll be eating on paper plates because that’s all I have the energy for.

6:00 I serve dinner and hop in the shower.  Yes, the shower for the day at 6:00 pm!



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A day in the life

I recently read an article in a homeschool magazine called “A Day in the Life”.  Each month a different homeschooler submits a day in their life, complete with timeline.  I am going to subscribe to this magazine just for this article.  It was nice to know that I’m not the only one who struggles with things like time management and who has a hard time checking everything off on my list.  Ashamedly it was also nice to know that in some ways that the particular mom failed, I was excelling.

I would like to give you the opportunity to know that I probably fail infinitely more than you think I do.

8:00 am:  The phone rings and I jump out of bed running for it.  I know it’s Dave in China and I don’t want to miss it.  McKayla left for school almost an hour ago.  I didn’t see her off, make sure she had a lunch, ate breakfast or wish her a good morning.  Parenting fail.

8:15:  I’m still talking to Dave and Nathaniel is starving!

Him:  I want pancakes

Me:  Eat cereal. Have Marshall help you.

8:20  I’m still talking to Dave but now there is screaming and crying because Marshall has ignored Nathaniel’s milk to cereal ration and Jacob has Nate’s bowl. I shut the door to block the sound.

8:22 Marshall decided to step on Mike’s toe.  Mike decided to scream and call him stupid.  I have to let Dave go so that I can parent.  I haven’t had any coffee.  I’m still tired.  I figure the safest bet for all of us is time out and work.  Mike gets to sit next to me while I check email. Marshall gets to empty and load the dishwasher.

8:30 I start a load of laundry and remind Mike to feed the cat and empty the litter box.

Don’t be jealous of all this fun.

8:45 I start to make a pot of coffee and some banana bread because it’s freezing inside my house.  Marshall offers to make the banana bread.  The coffee pot is abandoned.

8:46  I call Nate and Jake back to the table to eat full bowls of cereal that were left on the table.  Don’t underestimate the whining.  I also call Mike to the table and we start spelling.

8:47  Crying starts because he forgot an apostrophe.  He is now banned from sleeping in his brother’s room.

8:50 We begin math.  He’s still crying about the apostrophe.  I bribe with candy.  Instantly the tears stop.  We do more flash cards than I’d like to.

9:00 I briefly explain math to Marshall. Mike and I go back for round two of spelling, which goes much smoother.

9:20 I hand out handwriting worksheets.  I never realized handwriting could be so fun for a 9-year-old.  He sees every letter as a battle to conquer. “Ha! Ha! Didn’t have to lift my pencil once! Victory is mine!”

9:30 As the aroma of banana bread begins to permeate the house, I realize the I never started the coffee pot.  I also realize that it’s very quiet.  I hunt down the under five crowd and they’ve found my ipad and are watching Dora the Explorer on Netflix.  I change the movie to Leap Frog and tell myself that it’s okay because it’s educational.

9:45 I change the laundry and finally pour myself a cup of coffee and set the timer for some silent reading.  Normally we don’t set the timer for reading but our library is giving away free books if you read 20 minutes a day.

10:15 the banana bread is cut.  I have to repeatedly tell the children to ‘”Stop singing “We will rock you”!”

10:20 “Stop singing “Can’t Touch This”  If you don’t know more than the first line of the chorus, it is no longer singing, it’s more annoying”

10:21  “Stop singing “I can’t stop believing!”  If you don’t know more than that line, it’s just noise.

New rule:  If you don’t know the whole song you are not allowed to sing.  Period.

A terrible rendition of the ABC song is begun.

I daydream about the day when they are all gone and the house is absolutely silent.

10:30 I pry the ipad from Nathaniel’s hands and redirect the twins to a puzzle and some tanagrams.  I explain the writing assignment to Mike and hand Marshall a Science test.

10:32  Marshall and Michael abandon writing and Science for a rousing game of balloon toss.  I feel I’ve lost control, but that’s okay.  The balloon game has migrated downstairs and I have a few minutes of peace.

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As always, I overdo it

I’m an avid reader.  I don’t read quite as much as I’d like, but I do read a lot.  I think on average I read around 2 books a month.  Sometimes more, but very rarely less.  If you count all the books I read with the kids while homeschooling, It’s probably  much higher.

I love to read and I share this love with my children.  We’ve always been regular library attendees.  We visit the library weekly and know our librarians rather well.  Every week, between the 6 of us, we check out nearly 25 books, sometimes more.  Some books don’t get read but for the most part everything gets looked at briefly.

I do not regulate my children’s reading.  I let everyone pick whichever books strike their fancy.

McKayla seems to have stopped deliberately choosing books which will shock and awe me.  She has recently discovered Stephen King, and though I think there are much more worthwhile books she could be reading, they are a heck of a lot better than books about teenage love and sex.

Thankfully Marshall loves to read everything.  If it’s in a series, he reads it.  If it’s sports related he reads it.  If it’s by an author that he’s heard of, he reads it.  If I recommend it, he’ll read it.  If it’s part of a reading list, he’ll read it. If it’s been made into a movie, he’ll read it.

Mike has checked out EVERY book pertaining to the US military inside our library.  He recently found out how to request materials from other libraries.  I’m pretty sure that when we walk into the library the librarian groans when seeing mike.  He constantly puts her to the test.  “I’m looking for a book about World War 2, specifically something with lots of pictures and maps.” or “I need something about Vietnam.  At a third grade reading level but I want real pictures, no drawings”  “I want a fictional account of the Korean war but I want the main character to be a real soldier, not a boy.” “Do you have a book about tanks in the easy reader section”  If anything, he has taught her how to use the search engine for the library quite well.

I let the twins pick anything they like but I discourage them from books which are too long or have any kind of tv or movie character in it.  I can’t stand reading Dora the Explorer books! I also don’t like Curious George, The Bernstein Bears or anything made by Disney.

As I am near my 15th year of reading picture books to young children, I consider myself a sort of picture book connoisseur. I like beautiful pictures, nice story lines and very few words per page.  If I can find a pure picture book with no words, all the better.  Because I don’t regulate reading mateiral and I don’t preread books, quite a few times I’ve been a little upset about the themes and morals of the stories. I find it disturbing when boys are belittled for the sake of girl power (or vice versa).  I don’t like books without a point.  Or books where the parents are disregaurded.  Or books with terrible chidlren who don’t learn their lesson.

Besides encouraging my kids to read often and giving them ample opportunity to read I also read aloud to them quite frequently.  I love reading aloud to them.  I love making silly voices and the moment when the story truly comes alive.  Until recently I read two picture books a night to my twins and a chapter a night to my older kids.

Recently, I’ve realized that I don’t particularly like reading picture books at bed time.  I don’t like the argument for which book gets read first.  Or the fighting for the real estate on my lap.  Also as the boys get taller, it gets harder for me to see over their heads as I read.  This past month I started reading the “Wizard of Oz” to the twins   We’re all enjoying it very much (even though it doesn’t even vaguely follow the movie).  The hardest part is stopping after only one chapter.

Every night I crawl in bed with Marshall and Michael and we read a chapter or two.  To mention a few we’ve read “The Tale of Desperaux”, “Redwall”, and  “The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe”.  Now we’re reading the “Little House on the Prairie” series.  We’re on book 4.  I never imagined that this series would be such a hit with the boys.  It’s everything boys love:  adventure, survival, animals, instruction, wilderness and love.

After reading to two sets of kids, I popped into McKayla and asked if she felt left out that she didn’t get read to and if she’d like me to read to her.  I didn’t expect a yes.  She hasn’t been interested in me reading to her since she she could read for herself.  At first she said no.  Then she asked what I’d read.  I told her I’d read whatever she’d like, within reason.  I had visions of Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice.

Her:  How about Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang?

Me:  No.

Her:  How about something that has been made into a movie.

Me:  Okay.  How about Jane Eyre?  or something by Jane Austen?

Her:  OOOO something by Stephen King and then we could watch the movie and you could scream like a little girl.

Me:  Are you sure you don’t want to read Jane Eyre?  It’s one of my favorites?

Her:  Is it scary?  I want scary!! 

Me:  Fine.  Stephen King.

Her:  How about the Stand (at something like a bazillion pages)

Me:  How about Misery?

and more than any of my kids every night she asks for just one more chapter.

Bedtime now takes twice as long.  It’s definitely infinitely more enjoyable, but twice as long.

One of the downsides (besides the time) is that besides the bedtime read alouds, I’m reading quite a few other books.  I’m also reading a  library book (Smoking Seventeen by Janet Evanovich because I have to finish the series before the movie ruins it for me and also, because who can resist a book at the library?) and then the book on my ipad because I need something to read at night while the lights are out (World War Z by Max Brooks), and the two books I’m reading simultaneously with Marshall and Michael for a book report (Little Men by Louisa May Alcott and Mr. Poppers Penguins), and now I’ve decided to join a homeschool mom’s book club (because my goodness, I need some friends who live within a short driving distance!)

I’m pretty sure that eventually all these story lines will become muddled and confused.  I’m hoping that it will eventually lead to the great story which will give me the incentive to write a book and make a million dollars.  Dorothy will become a zombie who lives with Ma and Pa in a log cabin pursued by a crazy bounty hunter and her fat side kick in stiletto heels while a gaggle of penguins are looked after by a group of orphaned boys who save the world.  J.K. Rowling, eat your heart out!

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