October 29, 2010

Elivs is in the Building!

My Little Boy has very few inhibitions.  I am not used to this in a middle school student.  It's like he has no self conscious side.  This characteristic is admired by his mother and makes his older brothers uncomfortable for him.  But it sure is entertaining!

This morning he is proving this once again with his whole hearted-desire to go to his new middle school dressed up as the King.

The King is not as full of himself as you might think.  Here he was spotted loading the dishes.

The King made his own bed and ate a humble meal of Rice Krispies for breakfast.

The King obediently wore his rubber bands on his braces this morning claiming that "Elvis is nothing without his band(s)!"

Oh thank the heavens for this child!  He cracks me up!  And he has promised to tell everyone who bedazzled his thrift-store pleather jacket with this awesome star....
"His Mama!"
"Thank you very much!"

October 27, 2010


The other morning as we were sitting down to our usual breakfast of chaos, a battle ensued over who got to do the maze on the back of the KIX cereal box.  Of course no one could share and just do it mentally in their heads.  Little Girl, (age 3) really set the example for us all when she announced that she would just be "reading the bag" to keep herself entertained.  We did, after all, have one neglected bag of cereal outside of it's bulk-sized box on the table.  The 2nd half of a Sam's-club-sized box of LIFE kept her happily enthralled.  I almost thought to ask her what she might be reading in the folds of plastic.  I might have gotten an interesting answer.

The point is she was adapting to her environment and taking what comes.  Happily being content.  I can learn something from her there I think.

As we have been making serious decisions about the future of our family I have been stressed out to the point of not being capable of driving.  After the 3rd distracted wrong turn I turned the wheel over to my husband the other day.  What I think I need to remember is after all the moves and changes we have been through in the past 18 years of marriage we have always been taken care of.   We've always adapted. Even if we didn't speak the language or like the kimchi.  We need to not take counsel from our fears and trust that we can adapt to anything.  With God's help.

On the flip side I am trying to be sensitive to my teenagers who have settled in nicely where we are and should not have to keep moving during this trying time in their lives.  My second son in particular has a tendency to be in a funk.  This boy, who as a 6 yr old was awarded "best behaved boy" in his after-school chess club, isn't really that same upbeat unruffled kid today.  Just ask him to practice his music and his dark side comes out to stay for a while.  In fact I think I am guilty of tip toeing around his possible mood-swings at times.  I do things to keep him happy that I probably wouldn't do for the others.  I am probably doing him a disservice in the end.  I am not a perfect parent.  I recognize it at least.  However I challenge any parent of multiple children to make an honest claim that they treat one and all exactly the same.  No two kids are the same, making it impossible.

So you adapt.

October 21, 2010

I Cried While Making Chili

This afternoon, while Little Girl napped, I made a huge amount of chili.  Four batches to be exact.  That's a lot of onions!  They were fresh onions and very strong.  I diced them in the food processor but the fumes still got to me.  Why did I make that much chili?  Because it's freezer meal swap day on Friday and I chose to make chili this month.  I will offer up my 7 frozen bags of neatly stackable chili with a side of cornbread mix (they will have to come up with their own egg), and I will come home with six different frozen meals made by the friends in my freezer-meal group.

I always feel a bit awkward at the checkout line when I am buying enough beans to feed a small army. (And to provide gas for a small army)  Sometimes I explain.  Sometimes I let people wonder.  This time I explained my situation to the woman behind me and I asked the check out clerk if she wouldn't mind coming home and helping me open all those cans.  She laughed and easy Jamaican laugh and said she'd be glad to.  I told her not to worry, that my husband could help and she went into an impromptu freak performance of a woman yelling at her good-for-nothing spouse to get up off the couch and "cum an help out 'er far once!" It was very entertaining and I had to smile at how much I am entertained by the people here.

So I was making the chili, tearing up, and wiping my eyes with tissue, listening to This American Life with Ira Glass, wondering what he actually looks like.  I can't get enough of This American Life and listen to it often when it's quiet in my kitchen (it's not usually quiet enough to permit this).  The other night I enjoyed listening to funny tales of sleep walking by Mike Birbiglia.

The most recent episode is called Iraq After Us, and soon my tears were no longer due to the onions.  Interview after interview with local Iraqi people painting a picture of despair over their current circumstances.  I lost it when during one interview the snake oil shop owner notices that someone has left the store without her bag and he must quickly go and check it for explosives.  It was just a forgotten bag, but still.  I can't even imagine living like that.  Of course I was reminded of when my husband was there for just a mere 6 months.  Six long months.  Also heavy on my mind was the decision we are trying to make in faith.  Whether to get out of the military or stay in.  Both provide security and risk in one way or the other.  And then there were more tears.

So please forgive me freezer meal gals if the chili is a bit on the salty side this month.


October 18, 2010

Our Marathon Weekend

I should let you know right off the bat here that I am not speaking metaphorically when I say it was a marathon weekend.  Yes it was busy, and we were tired, and sweaty.  We ate bananas and drank lots of fluid.  But T also ran a marathon.  A real one.  It was his life altering first marathon.  I am sure this will not be his last.  I am resigned to being a marathon widow proudly cheering from the sidelines with my muffin top.

Speaking of my muffin top, yesterday in church my 11 yr old son was side punching me (not hard) just above my waistline where my pantyhose end and, you know, the muffin begins.  I asked him if he was trying to flatten that part of me down by punching.  Because I had tried that before and it won't stay.  He smiled and said "Mom, you've had five babies.  You still look pretty good for all your body has done for you."  What pearls of wisdom from Little Boy.  I know I spend too much time worrying over this matter.  I should just relax and be glad for the body I have.  Not relax so much that I let my body get more out of shape mind you.  But not try to be the same size I was at 20 either.  Work out to feel good and be healthy.  Remind myself about the babies and the reason I look like this.  The babies, and the ice-cream.  I would totally eat it all over again.  The ice cream, not the babies.

On to our marathon day now.  It was the Baltimore marathon and there were something like 23,000 people running that day.  Either in relays or half marathons or full marathons.  We got there later than I wanted to due to a series of unfortunate events.  I clearly stated at breakfast that I wanted us to be out the door at 9:30.  Giving us 30 minutes to get dressed.  In 30 minutes 6 independent people should manage to put on a shirt and pants right?  At 10 minutes until we needed to be out the door I yelled to the masses "Leaving in ten!"  Go figure that my oldest was still up in the playroom on the computer messing with his ipod, still in his PJs.  Don't think I didn't have a few words with him.  Especially because when he had asked before if we could search for an application online I had told him "no, not this morning."  We managed to get out the door close to my goal and then I looked at my gas tank.  It was almost on empty!  I was going to have to stop for gas.  Big Girl was the one who announced in the car that I had passed the gas station.  More time lost turning around.  I was filling up the tank and in my haste to get going I pulled out the hose upon hearing the click without looking at the screen to see if it had really stopped.  It must have been my neighbor's click because I was now spilling gasoline out all over the ground, on the side of the van, my shoes and pants.  I was so mad at myself for doing this!  I reeked of gas.  I had to go back home and change.  There was no way I was going to stand in the crowds smelling like that.  Of course, looking back, maybe it would have cleared us some room to get to the front.

I was so stressed out during the whole 45 minute drive from there.  I kept telling the kids not to speak to me.  I get that way when I am stressed- irritable.  We somehow managed to get a great parking spot due to intense praying and we were at the sidelines waiting for him to cross about 30 minutes before his goal time.  But the spot we were in was actually after the finish line and I wasn't pleased with how far away we were.  So even though it was no small feat I managed to move all of us (with a stroller) to a better spot and we played the waiting game.  We waited for the people in front of us to see their person go by and we used our pushy skills we picked up in the crowed city streets of Seoul to mush our way to the front.  I had Baby Girl on my shoulders and she was frankly being a pill.  She required so much of my attention that I handed the camera over to Big Boy and gave him a quick camera lesson on our new Nikkon D90.  I still worried about this move and told him to take lots of practice shots.  In retrospect I should have given the camera to Middle Boy who is my most observant kid.  He should be a detective one day because he can spot a hair out of place when he enters a room.  And indeed just as predicted, Big Boy got plenty photos of this guy....
Shirtless Cowboy whooping it up for the crowd

And this is the kind of photo we got of T a few seconds after Middle Boy mentioned that his Dad just ran by.  Nice~  

He is way up there in all black just between the white tank girl and the maroon shirted older guy.

I am just so proud of him that words cannot tell.  And as he limped his way back to the car I couldn't help but think that there will definitely be a next time.

October 15, 2010

Too Many Secrets

Ever see the movie Sneakers?  The clue to unravelling the case were the words "Too Many Secrets"  Well, too many secrets is what we had down in our neck of the woods this month.  We were planning a surprise party for my soon to be 14 year old son.  I just thought that a surprise party would be fun for a teenager.  I mean, we are pretty much beyond theme parties at this stage.  So a surprise seemed to be in order.  I had thought everyone was on board with the big surprise.  Apparently I spent a bit too much time priming the younger siblings on ways to keep things hush hush and not enough time with the friends and brothers.

We managed to keep him in the dark until the day before the party when he came home from school with a serious look on his face asking T and I "are you guys planning a surprise party for me?"  We played dumb and asked him why he would think such a thing.  I guess word got out at the school that there was a party on Saturday night, and some girl came up in the hall and asked him why she wasn't invited.  Whoops!  We were sufficiently confused to where I think he believed it to be an unfounded rumor.  Later we went and popped in a netflix video that evening.  Just Middle Boy, Little Boy, and myself.  It was one of the movies that we had planned on possibly using at the party.  Oh, btw, we were planning an outdoor movie shown with a projector on the side of the garage.  The weather was cooperating beautifully.  Maybe you read my dilemma about what movie to choose in my previous post.  We ended up going for Abbot and Costello meet Frankenstein.  It's pretty much a classic.  Not sure if all the teens appreciated it as much as they should have though.  The Village would have been pretty sweet outside but I didn't want to be responsible for anyone's nightmares.  Anyway- I digress.  So in the DVD player goes the movie Dial M for Murder and out of my 11 yr olds mouth come the words "aren't we going to watch this at the outdoor party on Saturday?"  I could have killed him!  I gave him a look and he just repeated the question in front of Middle Boy a second time.  I think louder.  I walked out of the room and nodded my head for him to join me.  Like I thought this would keep it secret or something.  Middle Boy has always been my most observant child.  Why did I think I could pull this off anyways?  So after our little pantomime in the hallway we come back in the room and Middle Boy says "I see I'm having a surprise party after all eh?"  I tried not to be too hard on Little Boy.  He claimed not to even be aware that it was a secret.  He, being my least observant child can't really be blamed.  So we made a pact, the tree of us, that this would be our new secret.  The fact that he knew.  I of course told T.  But I felt that my little girls were too invested in the surprise part to not try and keep up appearances for them.

Next in the tangled web I wove was what to tell the family who had agreed to take Middle Boy for the day while we set up.  They were taking him home with them after a piano recital that both Middle Boy and their boy were in.  The plan was to keep him until 6:00 so we could set up.  Being the honest person that I am, I mentioned to the parents on the phone that he may have a pretty good idea of what was up due to a slip of someone's mouth at school.  I also told his friend outright that Middle Boy knew.  I suggested to him that he not let on that he knew about Middle Boy knowing.  To test Middle Boy, I asked his friend to report to me later on what he said or didn't say.  Tricky eh?  Like I said, too many secrets.

The last layer involved my husband. While T was setting up helium balloon clusters in front of the house he seemed confused when I told him that wouldn't work.  "Why, he already knows" was T's reply right in front of Big Girl who was suddenly devastated.  Thanks T.  I guess he didn't know she didn't know. Sigh!  Why can't my family just read my mind?  Sheesh, do I have to tell you everything?!  This was really getting silly.  I mean how many secrets can be broken in one day?  We calmed Big Girl down by telling her all the stuff he didn't know about yet.  The snacks, the outdoor movie, the decorations, what guests were coming.  Soon she was alright about the situation.  Whew! (Some of those were not really secrets any more btw.  Don't tell her Internets-more secrecy!)

So we pulled of a fake surprise and had a good time.  He never revealed his awareness to anyone at the party or to his friend and his family during the day.  Here are some photos to document all of our doings.  

Happy Birthday Middle Boy

Setting up in the back yard

Middle Boy's fake surprise face... Pretty convincing!

Blowing out his candles

Have you ever known a teen who loved a Snuggie?  We know one

What's in here?

A pillow with arms!

With a pillow with arms and a blanket with sleeves... He should be set!

October 08, 2010

Busy Ramble/Help!

So I have been blog lazy lately.  It happens.  I've decided that my cold is not really going anywhere but at least I am still functioning.  It's a sneeze your brains out in the morning, high functioning throughout the day cold.  Yesterday was the busiest day I have had in a while.  I signed up for hosting a morning scripture study group at my house for the month of October.  I had cleaned my house up for that the day before.  Should I have felt bad that I paid more attention to my house than to the scriptures?  I still managed to get the reading done just minutes before they arrived at the door.  I told myself that I just wanted the material to be all fresh in my mind, but then when our discussion led to our priorities in life, I felt bad.  Maybe I'm too hard on myself.  Next week I will let them see the messy side of my house.  It will just make them feel better about themselves right?  I'm so charitable : )

So my busy day continued when Big Boy called from school and told me that he indeed qualified for the National Honor Society (which I was shocked to find out btw).  So now this meant a day full of driving around getting signatures.  I went to 5 places yesterday hunting down John Hancock after John Hancock.  It was like a scavenger hunt with the end prize being a possible academic future for my teenager. T got the last two signatures this morning and just turned in the application 5 short hours before the deadline.  I found it funny when T related to me a conversation he had with BBoy on the drive to seminary this morning.  He asked our son "did you tell your mother thanks for all her hard work yesterday on your behalf?" and his answer was "yes I did" (which is true). But then he went on with "you know Dad I am the one who did most of the work on that not mom"  HA!  I'm going to have to beat him with a wet noodle when he gets home.
Study hard and you too can qualify for the NHS
The rest of the day was filled with brownie scouts after school where I was in charge of a 'feelings charades' game.  I used a lot of my finely honed acting skills to show the girls how they could act out words like "insecure" or "frustrated" it was a blast!  Then at dusk, we lost one kid while he went jogging with a friend.  Three years in  the same neighborhood and you would think he'd know the layout by now.  Of course his friend has lived here all his life and he got lost too, so maybe I shouldn't be so hard on him.  At least they had a cell phone between them.  What did we ever do before cell phones?

All I can say is that I am glad I planned ahead and made dinner in the crock pot.  We've had friends (without kids) who poo poo the crock pot saying it's not real food if it comes from a crock pot.  But it has saved me on more than one occasion.  I pity the poor fool who never opens themselves up the the possibilities of a crock pot.

The dilemma of the day today is choosing a scary, but not too scary movie for the surprise party I am throwing for middle boy this weekend.  He is turning 14.  He is too old for Ichabod and too young for lots of stuff out there.  We are a family who likes to be scared.  We especially like older scary Alfred Hitchcock movies.  We want to show them The Village but it might be too much for some of the guests. Our other choices we rented are Dial M for Murder and Abbot and Costello meet Frankenstein.  What would your vote be?  Help me out and leave an opinion... Or give me a suggestion.  I just found out that some younger kids will be there too so I am leaning towards Abbot and Costello.  But we are planning an outdoor movie on a projector so we can always put the sensitive kiddos inside.  Is that poor party etiquette?

October 06, 2010

The Power of Suggestion

Recently I prided myself in my ability to get over a cold quickly.  Three short days and I was almost as right as the rain outside.  Then when I told a friend (the one who passed it to us through her toddler) she suggested that I might not be out of the woods just yet.  She expressed her sorrow in passing the bug on to our family and warned against not getting enough rest because this cold had a way of coming back upon you.  I got to bed early to ward anything off.  Even though I tried my best, I woke up this morning watery eyed and sneezing up a storm again.  Poor me.  I wish she'd never said anything to me.  I'm not superstitious mind you, but I know that the mind has untapped powers that can influence the body.

Now we are also in the season of multiple toy catalogs coming in the mail, suggesting every child's dream toy.  My oldest daughter has a habit of picking out her favorites by folding down the pages where she sees something of interest.  When she's finished window shopping she sweetly places the bent up magazine in my lap, bats her eyelashes and says that since I'm Santa's helper I might be interested in looking at them too.  She's growing up too fast for me.  Good thing she still wants things like Zu Zu Pets and pretend medical kits.

I have been trying to use the power of suggestion on my husband over the years with little success.  Case in point, our corner cupboard in the kitchen.  It remains broken completely off the hinges for (if memory serves) almost 2 years.  It seems there isn't a solution in sight with that poor sad cupboard.  It makes the kitchen scream for a completely new set of cupboards right?  Maybe that is the suggestion he is trying to make to me!  I will try and refrain from holding my breath.

And now to suggest to my body that it needs to get better asap (we have a big weekend planned) I am going to take a nap.

October 04, 2010


Look at that beautiful long hair!

October 02, 2010

General Conference

Please join me in watching this this weekend.  I look forward to it twice a year.  
You won't be disappointed.