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Archive for August, 2012

reading in bed

Every night Nate needs us to leave the light on for “just 5 more minutes”.  He says its because he’s terrified of the dark.   We indulge him, because he’s the baby, the last in the line of our progeny.  What has morphed out of fear is a love for books.

He’s not allowed to play or have toys in his bed, but how can I say no to a book?  I can’t.  All the kids know that I’m a sucker for the “just one more chapter” or “just 10 more minutes”.  Everyone but the little ones has a small lamp attached to their beds and I don’t control when it goes off.  For all I know they are reading until 1am.  And that’s fine with me.  Morning crankies are dispelled by earlier bedtimes and naps.

Every night when I go to turn off the light in the twins’ room on my way to bed, I find him curled up with a pile of books.  This is how I know he’s mine.

Pretty soon the picture books will morph into easy readers and chapter books.  The pile will get smaller as the books become longer.  Hopefully though, his love of reading won’t.

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I am always up for a phone survey.  One day, I’m going to luck out and get in on a gallop poll or somehow get one of those tv boxes for the Nielson surveys.  Not that we watch Network tv, or have cable, or even bunny ears for that matter.   Boy would that screw with their data!

Once, we were out and someone from our local county parks and rec wanted to do a survey about how they could accommodate us better.  I couldn’t think of anything concrete.  Dave jumped in with sidewalks near the local lake so that it would make pedestrian access less life threatening.  Low and behold they put in sidewalks this past summer.  Admittedly, they were just at the corners, but I hold out hope that next year they might extend them a little bit farther and eventually, we might be able to walk to the lake without worrying about being hit by a car.  I don’t know what it is about that 4″ off the ground, that makes me feel safer, but it sure does!

Since we moved here I have gotten a weekly, sometimes twice a week call from a company doing surveys about radio listening.

Me:  Sure!  I’ll take your survey. 

Her:  Please tell me the top five radio stations you listen to.

Me:  Spirit 105.3.

Her:  And…

Me:  That’s it.  We only listen to Christian Radio in the car.  I would totally list another radio station if we had ANY OTHER choice for a Christian Radio station.  Can you put that on your survey?  I’d like more Christian Radio stations.

Her:  Are their any other radio listeners in your house? 

Me:  There are, but they are all subjugated to listen to what I choose.  I would much rather my kids be singing worship music throughout the day rather than “Baby, Baby, Baby” by Justin Beiber.  (not that this happens, but I can hold out hope.  I don’t even know how my kids know Justin Beiber!   What with us not having a tv, only listening to Christian radio and homeschooling.  Obviously, the sheltered lifestyle is not working very well)

and I take the dumb survey every week, sometimes twice a week because my voice is being heard and I’m holding out hope that whoever is paying for this survey will see a need for another Christian radio station.

Me:  Sure, I’ll take your survey.  Do you know that  you call me every week?  sometimes twice a week?  I think your data may be skewed if you keep calling the same people week after week.

Her:  I just call the numbers they give me.

Me:  Let’s do this!

I think the surveyors and the telemarketers may have gotten wise to me though.  Last week, I received a radio survey again.  I happily volunteered.

Her:  What radio stations do you listen to?

Me:  105.3

Her:  have you ever listened to xxx.x?

Me:  No.

Her:  How likely would you be to listen to xxx.x, the new hip hop station with fun and popular djs?

Me:  Not likely.

Her:  I’m sorry you haven’t heard of xxx.x.  How likely would you be to tune in to xxx.x if you knew they were providing great and exciting contests? 

Me:  Not likely.

And it went on, like a great big infomercial.  I felt rather used at the end of the conversation.  Well played advertising agency, well played.

I’ve been a little bit more wary taking surveys because I’m not a fan of gorilla tactics.  Fast forward to yesterday.  I was super excited to be part of a political poll.  Not that I’m very political, but I figure it would up my chances of being part of a gallop poll.  I know that’s not really how it works, but a girl’s gotta have hope.

Her: How are you officially registered to vote?  She then went through the list.

Me:  Republican

Her:  hmmm (all judgy).  Would you consider yourself a conservative Republican or a liberal republican.

Me:  Conservative, I guess.

Her:  hmmm (all judgy)

Me:  Aren’t you supposed to be non partial?

Her:  I’m sorry?

Me:  Aren’t you supposed to not have an opinion?  Just ask me the questions in an unbiased way?

She then moved right along continuing to ask questions with me becoming more wary and skeptical all along the way.

Her:  In the continuing months we will be hearing lots of negative things about the presidential candidates.  I’m going to read you a serious of statements about Mitt Romney and I’d like you to tell me how you would react favorably or unfavorably.

Me:  I’m sorry, which polling agency are you from?

Her:  Opinions

Me:  Who is this survey funded by?

Her:  I’m not at liberty to say.

Me:  Then I’m not at liberty to finish this survey.

Her:  We are almost done.

Me:  I am done.  I don’t want to hear your propaganda disguised as a survey.

Her:  We only have a few more questions.

Me:  I’m sorry, I’m not participating.

Her:  It’s important information.

Me:  AHA!!!  I knew it.  Surveys aren’t about giving information but gathering information.  If you are trying to give me information, you shouldn’t have pretended you wanted my opinion.

And this is where I hung up.

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Oh, Gamestop, how I loathe you.  There are many reasons that make you my absolutely least favorite place to go with a kid.

I don’t particularly like that it doesn’t matter if we know exactly what we want before we step into the store, when we get inside we ended up spending ten times longer there than we intended.  When I give the “I’m ready to go” warning, it still takes another 40 minutes.  I guess I should be glad that my kids like to be informed consumers, but the monotony of them having to look up every single game on your computer drives this nongamer momma crazy!

I am not the biggest fan of your trade back policy.  It entices young boys everywhere with it’s 5cents on the dollar pay offs.  If you’re 10 and out of money but want a new game you can just bring 20 of your already played games in and trade them in for one game!  Such a deal! I’ve taken to not allowing any games that anyone might like to play, ever in their whole entire lives, be allowed to be traded in, regardless of ownership.  I’ve also taken to setting prices BEFORE we go to the store.

Me:  What is your sale price for Lego Star Wars III?

Mike:  Um, $10.

Marshall:  You’re never going to get $10.

Mike:  Well, maybe $5 then.

Me:  How much can you buy it for?

Mike:  I don’t know, probably $15.

Me:  So, you bought it for $15, and you’re going to sell it for $5.  Sounds like a great idea.  What if you want to play it again?  Or if you’re brothers want to play it.  Then you’ll have to buy it again.  Essentially you’ll spend $25 on this game. I think that’s a terrible idea.

Gamestop Guy:  Okay, for b17, I’ll give you .43 cents  and for Star Wars I’ll give you $6.74.

Me:  Totally worth it!

(He was so jaded by 3 of his games being worth less than a $1 he didn’t sell anything)

Gamestop, I also dislike your Power Up card.  It always suckers me into spending more money.

This past week the boys were trying to figure out a way to get a new xbox game.  They pooled their money, went through all of their video games and set aside ones they were willing to trade in.  They went online and researched games.  Then they decided to log on to the Power UP website to print off a coupon with their accumulated points.  They couldn’t log on to the website.  We tried every email password in our house.  Finally, I made them call Gamestop.

Marshall:  Can’t you do it?

Me:  I could, but I’m not the one who wants to buy a game.

Marshall: Forget it.  I don’t want a coupon.

Mike:  Give me the phone.  I’ll call. (Mike is definitely Marshall’s Aaron to his Moses.  He’s always willing to do the talking.)

We practiced for quite some time:

Me:  Say “I have forgotten which email address I used to set up my Power UP card.

Mike:  Okay, “I’ve forgotten which Power up email address.

Me:  No, Say “I have forgotten which email address I used to set up my Power UP card.

Mike:  I don’t know my email address.

Me:  Say “I have forgotten which email address I used to set up my Power UP card.

Mike:  I don’t know how to login to my email address.

Me:  Say, exactly this. “I have forgotten which email address I used to set up my Power UP card.

Finally, Mike was confident enough to call.  He dialed the number and started dancing.

Mike:  I love this song.  It’s amazing! Hold on, let me put it on speaker phone for you guys.

It was elevator musak.

After about 5 minutes he hung up.

Mike:  This is stupid and taking too long.

Me:  Great! You’ve just lost your place in line.  Now you’ll have to wait twice as long.

Mike:  Fine.  (he calls back)  Yes!  My favorite song again!!!

Finally someone gets on the phone. He had a very thick English accent.  Between the english accent and Mike’s articulation there was a bit of a language barrier.  It was on speaker phone so that we could hear the whole conversation.  The poor guy.

Poor Guy:  Top of the morning to ya!  (Okay, he didn’t really say that.)  How are you doing?

Mike:  I’m doing great.

Poor Guy:  Wonderful.  How may I help you.

Mike:  I don’t know what my email address is to log on.  (We all clapped for mike)

Guy:  Okay, sir I can help you with that.  What is your Power UP number.

(mike reads it to him)

Wonderful.  Okay, I have found it.  I just need to ask you some questions.  What is your favorite video game?

Mike:  Please hold on, I’m thinking (and he tiptoes into the room where Dave is)

(whispering)Dad, what’s your favorite video game?

he yells to the guy:  “HOLD ON!  I’M STILL THINKING!”

Dave:  I don’t know, you guys set it up.  What’s your favorite video game?

Marshall into the phone:  Madden 10!  It’s Madden 10!

Poor Guy:  Yes, that is correct.  Okay the email address associated with your account is xxxx@xxxxxx.

Mike:  I know.

Poor Guy:  Please log in with that email address and your password.

Mike:  Yes, but it won’t let us log in with that.

Poor Guy:  Walks him through the whole process.

Mike:  I know but I can’t.

Poor Guy:  Walks him through the whole thing.

Dave:  Ask him to reset the password.

Mike:  Can you log in for me?

Dave:  RESET THE PASSWORD

Mike:  Can you RESET THE PASSWORD?

GUY:  Oh, yes.  I can reset the password.  I will send you an email with that information.

Mike:  I haven’t gotten it yet.

Guy:  Please be patient.

Mike:  Not yet.

Guy:  Please wait.

Mike:  Did you send it yet?

Guy:  I’m working on it.

Mike:  How about now.

Guy:  I will put you on hold for a short while.

Finally, Dave picked up the phone.  The poor guy was thoroughly relieved to hear another adult’s voice.

Though you win every other round, I think this one goes to me.

Of course, after this I was forced to accompany two boys to gamestop with their $15 coupon and spend an hour aimlessly wandering the store.  After nixing all the games rated T and M, I finally convinced them to buy Wipeout for the Kinect.  Negotiation terms ended up with me paying the difference.  We shall call it a tie.

 

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When I had the younger two alone last week, we did all of the fun things that the older kids would have scoffed and complained at.

We listened to nonstop children’s music in the car.  Another generation has been reintroduced to Mary Rice Hopkins and Ella Jenkins.

We made cookies and cake.  We also had lots of  kid friendly food.  They really wanted Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.  It turns out that they don’t like Kraft Mac and Cheese.

Nate:  Why is this so yellow?

Jake:  I think I like your macaroni and cheese better.

Score 1 for mom!

We went places that the older kids wouldn’t have enjoyed.  Like Chuck e Cheese.  I guess I have never taken them before.  It wasincredibly fun.  We started with all of the rides until they noticed that some of the machines gave TICKETS!!! which can be exchanged for PRIZES!!!!  It was then on the hunt for lots and lots of tickets.  It turns out that $20 worth of tokens will get you a ring, two smarties candies, 4 stickers and a whistle.  We also went to the kids museum, the park and the library multiple times and even the movies.

Jacob has been wanting to excavate dinosaur bones.  I decided to make an excavation for the hot weather.  It was terribly, terribly, terribly hot.  We gathered lots of toys that wouldn’t be damaged by water.  We put them in a pan and filled it with water.  We then put it in the freezer.  We did it right before bed so that it wouldn’t be tempting to check on every 5 minutes.  Of course, we had to check on it about a 100 times before bed and then again about 50 times before breakfast.

What I love about this project is the ideas that they came up with in order to free their toys. science

For a good 5 minutes they just observed the giant ice block.  They felt all the pieces sticking up out of the ice and were looking for all the action figures under the surface, encapsulated in ice.  When they tried to get the giant ice cube out of the pan they couldn’t.  They flipped it over and sat on it.  (which was a little hilarious).  I wish I would have gotten a picture of them laughing because their hinies were so cold.  Eventually it popped out.

Giant ice cube

We went through the kitchen drawers looking for excavation tools.  After we were armed they went to work.

It turns out the ice did more damage to my kitchen tools than the tools did to it.

excavation None of these tools are as sharp as they appear in this photo.  I promise Nathaniel’s not wielding a knife.

We  brainstormed how to get the toys out.

They decided that what would be best is to melt the ice.

They chased the sun around the yard for quite awhile hacking away at it with the tools.  That didn’t make too much progress.  They tried dropping  the block a few times.

chasing the sun

I love how Frank came to see what the kids were doing.   Finally, they decided to break out the hose.  The toys were freed in a matter of minutes!  The hose is always a blast in the hands of a five-year-old.

victory

I think I’ll freeze a few toys in the freezer to pop in the bathtub or wading pool on a hot day.   I think even the big kids will like a chilling surprise.  Even if they don’t, I’ll find it hilarious.

It was rather a fun week.

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Honestly, I never really wanted to crochet, I wanted to knit.  I love the way knitted things look.  I really wanted to knit a Waldorf doll.  Alas, my friend Michelle taught herself to crochet and handed the book down to me.  It was a  teach yourself to crochet in 5 minutes book.  She had taught herself to crochet in 5 minutes.  It took me something like 5 hours and nothing I made was terribly pretty.  I just couldn’t figure it out.  My aunt came to visit and showed me the basics.  As soon as she left though, I was back to square one.  Eventually, I turned to youtube and watched the same videos over and over until I had figured out how to do a single crochet.  5 minutes, 5 months.  Basically the same thing.

I enjoy crocheting for a few reasons.

For the most parts its monotonous work.   Once I get a pattern down I can crochet by feel.  I can  crochet and watch tv, baseball, even read.  I joke with Dave that if I ever go blind I can still crochet. He’ll just have to read me the pattern and color coordinate the yarn.   I don’t know why I have a fear of going blind, maybe it’s this whole getting older thing and having to wear my glasses more consistently rather than sporadically at night.  Regardless, I find myself tucking small tidbits of things away in the dark recess of my brain in case I do go blind.  Crocheting happens to be one of them.

Also, I read somewhere that crocheting is one of the few handcrafts which can not be replicated by a machine.   There aren’t too many things left that can’t be replicated.  It makes me feel rather superior.  Unfortunately, not being able to be replicated by a machine tends to make all things crocheted look terribly homemade in my opinion.  I don’t think I would ever wear a crochet sweater or dress.  Since, I personally, don’t love crochet things, I make them and give them away.

And, it keeps me warm.  I start crocheting a blanket and eventually the blanket gets larger and larger and consumes more and more of my lap.  This is important here in the arctic tundra, especially with children who want me to watch every single minute of every game and practice.

crochet

If you have something I made, you are welcome.

To increase the personal enjoyment factor, I make a ton of hideous things and then give them away to friends and family impressing upon them how many hours of labor I spent making them the crochet monstrosity because I love them.  Hence, pretty much obligating them to love said monstrosity forever and forever and never give it away.  Of course, unless it’s the Smithsonian, then that would be okay.

Case 1:

Lots and lots of little stuffed animals.  My favorite are probably Mario and Luigi:  Which are cute, but honestly, what is anyone going to do with these other than put them on a shelf and look at them because I’m not sure that their heads will make it through any actually play.

Crochet

Case  2:

Hats.  They are so easy.  i’ve made beanies, crowns, not to mention tons of characters.  I gave everyone I knew a hat for Christmas, mostly Ninja turtles and star wars characters.

crochet

Case 3:

My poor sister who has received Harry Potter scarves, the largest afghan ever in a beautiful purple chevron pattern (which was just a jab because I  heard she was going without heat because she couldn’t figure out how to turn the heater on in her new apartment and was huddling around votive candles from ikea.) She also was gifted with an R2D2 beanie and a princess lea beanie. She has the geekiest coiffed head in LA.  Not to mention Doby.

Crochet

Dave:  What is your poor sister going to do with all this stuff?” 

Me:  I don’t know, be surrounded by my love.

Case 4:

I make lots of things for the church bazaar.  Mostly baby things because I don’t have a baby to make them for.  I’ve made Baby blankets and baby hats and baby shoes.   Hopefully the church can make some moolah off this rearrangement of yarn.

crochet

Case 5:

My favorite though is probably this crowning jewel of my afghan making.

Crochet

When Dave was traveling to China I started watching Roseanne on Netflix.  I enjoyed it because I had already seen every episode before so I didn’t have to concentrate too hard on it.  I could crochet or peruse the Internet and never truly feel distracted.  Somehow I hooked my friend Renee on it.  I gave up around season 2 because I couldn’t stand Roseanne Barr’s screechy voice any longer.  She watched the whole show, all 87 seasons.

I did what any best friend would do.  I made her the Granny square afghan that was on the back of Roseanne’s couch for the whole show.  I tried very hard to make it as ghastly ugly as possible.  I used all of my left over yarn, which included a surprisingly large amount of neon colors.

crochet

For months I told her that I had completed number 42 of 120 of her Birthmas present , because this was too awesome to be given just as a birthday or Christmas gift.  Then once each of the million squares was finally finished the real work of crocheting them together began.  To be followed by crocheting a boarder all around.

crochet

Me:  I am going to embroider “This took me for freaking ever” on this present.  You may never give this away.

Her:  I know it’s because you love me.

Me:  If I find this in a thrift store, I may actually kill you.  Of course I will bury you with it after I kill you.  Which I will find hilarious for ever.

Her:  I’m kinda scared about this present now.

Me:  You will love it.  And even if you don’t that’s okay.  Every time I work on this I chuckle to myself.  I expect this to have a prime spot in your living room and I will find it hilariously funny for the rest of my life.   Except you can’t let the kids touch it or the dog near it because I’m not sure it’s washable.  It might completely fall apart.

And after months and months, I finally finished it.  It had layed around my house providing lots of color during the long winter and when I packed it up to be shipped, I found that I did miss it terribly.

Marshall:  You know what would be awesome?

Me:  What?

Marshall:  If we infested this with lice before we sent it to Renee.

Me:  That wouldn’t be funny.

Marshall:  She’d flip.  It would be hilarious.  (Chuckling to himself).  How do you get lice?

Me:  By washing your hair.  Go wash your hair.

No louse was sent intentionally, or unintentionally….

crochet

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They are home!  They are home!

Of course I didn’t realize how noisy they were until they left and then came back!

I’m pretty sure that I didn’t miss them a fraction as much as nate and jake missed them.

Trying to soak up every single bit of sun and warmth before winter sets in, I made the kids play outside until dinner.  How can I compete with these expert fort builders.

First Mike decided that he didn’t only need a fort, but he also needed a pvc support structure.  He went into the garage and dismantled the ridiculous  amount of marshmallow guns that we own.  It was rather comical watching them try to figure out how to make the fort.  First he made Nate and Jake hold everything up.

Nate:  This isn’t very fun.  I don’t get to play in it?  I just have to hold it?

Mike:  Be quite!  Hold it higher!fort building

Me:  Maybe instead of trying to balance the pvc pipes, you actually make a structure.

Mike:  What a great idea!

Me:  That’s why I’m the mom.   Wait!  Let me show you what I made while you were gone!

(and I went to go find my awesome tent)

Me:  Maybe you guys could go hang it on that rope in the driveway.

Marshall:  I don’t want to sit on the driveway.  (he starts looking all around for places to hang it.)

He spies a small hook above the front door.

Marshall:  I’m gonna hang it from there.

Me:  How?  We don’t even have a ladder that large.

Marshall:  Don’t worry.  It’s easier than you think.

He then proceeded to cannibalize Mike’s fort’s pvc pipes.  He tied a small rope to the end of the pipes and proceeded to attempt to hook the rope.  It was like reverse fishing.  extreme fort building

After a few minutes of trying unsuccessfully, he went back to the drawing board.  He went and got the binoculars, observed the hook from every angle.

extreme fort building

He added and subtracted some pvc pieces until he was satisfied with his new fishing pole and then amazingly, hooked it right away.
He hadn’t really gotten past the part of attaching the rope to the hook.  A good 15 minutes was spent trying to get the tent up.  fort building amazingness
After much kibitzing, a ladder was finally employed and the tent was raised.

Best brothers ever! We’re so glad they are home!

victory!

Of course, we couldn’t take down the tent after such hard fought efforts to put it up.  When I opened the door tonight to pick up Mckayla from youth group (because when your a teenager your social calendar doesn’t take a breather for silly things like first nights home and your mom has missed you like crazy), I nearly had a heart attack when there was this 10 foot tall blue thing in front of me.  For a second I thought I was under attack by a giant wearing a sky blue dress.  it was terrifying.  Needless to say, I won’t be using the front door anytime in the foreseeable future.

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hard one fruits

Me:  Nate and Jake!  Please go check to see if the chickens laid any eggs.

I find myself constantly keeping an ear out for the loud clucking which sometimes signals a chicken laying an egg.  Sometimes it signals nothing.  I think they know we come running when they get noisy.  Yes, they are training us well.  I am hoping that eventually the ladies will become more regular about their laying times. 

Nate:  Nope.  The chickens didn’t poop any eggs!  And I’m not eating the chicken’s eggs.

Me:  Why?

Nate: Because there is poop all over them.

Me:  No there isn’t.

Nate:  When they poop them out they get poop on the eggs.

Me:  Nate, they don’t poop eggs, they lay them.  They do not come out of their butts.

Nate:  I’m still not eating them.

 ***

aren't i the cutest thing ever!

We were trying to pick a movie to watch at the movie theater, which is quite a big deal over here. Since we don’t have network tv, we really have no idea what is out and what might be good.  We were watching all of the previews online for all the movies rated PG and below.  At the end of the the trailer for Brave, the announcer asks “If you could change your faith, would you?”

Jake:  I wouldn’t.

Me:  I like that answer.  Why wouldn’t you change your fate?

Jake:  Well, what kind of feet would I get?  I like my feet.  What if I got really ugly feet like the chickens.

 ***

cat and bunny

I bought a flea collar for Frank.  Inadvertently, I purchased a purple one.  He’s stylish, channeling his inner diva.

After I put it on the cat, he went outside to join the boys in tormenting  loving the bunny.

I walked outside to see Jacob swinging the flea collar around like a lasso.

Me:  WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!!

Jake:  Look what I found on Frank!  How do you think he got this?  (at the kitty strip club?  What kind of question is that?)

Me:  I put it on him.

Jake:  But why?  It is purple?  Frank is a boy.  Why did you give him a girl necklace?

Me:  It is a flea collar.  It will keep the fleas away.  That is poison.  Go wash your hands RIGHT now WITH SOAP!

(Jacob comes back sobbing)

Me:  Why are you crying?

Jake:  I love Frank, I don’t want him to die.

Me:  He’s not going to die.  He is completely safe.

Jake:  But I can never pet Frank again.

Me:  You can still pet him.

Jake:  But then I have to wash my hands all the time.  No thank you!

And the next 4 hours were filled with a  nonstop barrage of flea collar questions and tattling on Nathaniel for touching the flea collar.  I’m pretty sure our bathroom hasn’t seen so much action since we had baby chickens.

Jake:  MOM!!!  NATE TOUCHED THE FLEA COLLAR AND HE WON’T WASH HIS HANDS!!!

Me:  Jake. Stop tattling.  He will be fine.

About twenty minutes later I found Jake on his bed crying.

Me:  Why are you crying now?

Jake:  How long until Nate dies?  Do you think it will be today?

Me:  NATE!  GO WASH YOUR HANDS RIGHT NOW!  WITH SOAP!!!

It’s been a long week.

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