August 29, 2011

Back to School 2011

Ah the first day of school.  I am in that window of time when my two high-schoolers have been gone for an hour, my middle schooler just started his walk up the street to start his day and I have about 10 min of down time before I need to wake a sleepy 3rd grader.  Then it will be 'just-you-and-me-time-baby' for me and Little Girl.  We use that you-and-me phrase a lot.  It will probably be exciting for her for about 15 minutes and then she will be bored.  Because I do boring stuff like laundry and picking up the house. Perhaps we can work some fun in there today, play-dough if she's lucky.  She will be lonely until the kids get home I am sure.

So to re-cap on what has been going on, we just escaped death two times this past week.  First there was Tuesday's earthquake then the hurricane.  The earthquake was the largest quake for this area for something like 100 years.  That is how we roll.  When we lived in Iowa we experienced the worst flooding in over 500 years.  Then in Korea there was all kinds of havoc being flung upon us by the North Koreans with their 'test' missiles.  It would seem that where ever we live there are catastrophes afoot- yet we manage to come through okay.  How about that Irene?  As wide as Europe- are you kidding me?  I tell ya, we must be living right because all we experienced from Irene was a couple hours without power.  From 2:00 to 4:00 in the morning.  Big Girl immediately blamed her sister for turning out the hall light and the bickering woke the parents up.  T commented on my amazing patience with her.  I have a tendency to be... well... extra cranky when you wake me up unnecessarily.  I have been known to bite off a few heads and hardly remember it come morning time.  I think I was feeling sorry for Big Girl.  She has exhibited some symptoms of anxiety lately and I have had to sit the boys down and give them the 'what-for' about teasing and pushing her to her limits.  That girl carries the world on her shoulders.  And if you've seen her then you know her shoulders are pretty small.  I'm not quite sure what to do for her, or if there is anything I can do.  This may just be her lot in life.

Our end-of-summer vacation plans changed at the last minute due to the storms, but we enjoyed ourselves anyways.  We went inland to a water park resort town called Massanutten VA.  We also went to Charlottesville VA to Thomas Jefferson's estate Monticello.  T and I had gone there for an anniversary some 9 yrs ago as a couple.  We found out it's much different when you take a family of 5 kids with you, especially when you take the 3:00pm estate tour right when your youngest girl is ready for a nap and not ready for a tour of our 3rd president's home.  Even though she said quite loudly in front of the tour guide "I want to go home" we made do.  We noted that Thomas Jefferson and Little Boy have a lot in common.  Both red heads, both played violin, both have April birthdays, both very high achieving smarty-pants types.  My son even chose TJ as his famous American character to represent in school 4 yrs ago...   We ate at a great BBQ place with the stickiest floor ever.  We rented movies, we played in the jacuzzi tub, we floated down the lazy river at the water park, we had bad fajitas at Chilis, we bought a generator, we drove through a lot of rain and made it home before the hurricane.  Then it looked as if a hurricane hit the inside of my house for a couple days.  Now it is the calm after the storm as all the kids are at their first day of school.  No I don't miss them yet.  As Little Boy left this morning for his 10 min walk to middle school I called out to him "remember who you are" and his reply was "yes- I am Thomas Jefferson."  Let's just hope he stays away from girls named Sally H.  He's only 14.

August 26, 2011

Misc. Letters

Dear 'I Can't Believe it's Not Butter' I beg to differ.  I totally believe you are not butter.  I believe it with all my taste buds.  When my husband is sent to shop for groceries he always buys you claiming that you spread better.  I see his point but would like to say that I think taste should rate higher than spread ability.  The fact that you take so long to melt into my toast makes me suspicious of you.  I would rather die of heart disease (sudden, over) from butter, than from cancer (long, slow) due to whatever plastic-type ingredients that are in imitation butter spread.  So thanks, but no thanks on the ICBINB.

Dear Hurricane Irene, you have spoiled our end of summer vacation plans.  I am okay with our alternate plans and just hope to see my house standing (and not standing in a puddle of water) when I get back.  Thank goodness we recently paid the outstanding 10.00 somehow left unpaid on our flood insurance.   Earthquakes, hurricanes, what's next?  Maybe I shouldn't be asking this.  Please pray for my dog who we did not bring with us.

Dear Parents, thank you for thoughtfully calling me within minutes after the 5.9 earthquake hit our area.  That was nice to hear from someone.  We were just fine hanging out for 45 seconds under our dining room table.  Our funny neighbors confused earthquake with tornado and ran to their basement.  What I didn't appreciate was the crack made about Mother Nature not liking our president and trying to strike back.  I would have thought if anyone needed a spanking by Mother Nature it would have been members of congress or possibly the Tea Party wackos.  I guess we are all entitled to our own opinions- just keep them to yourself.

Dear Family Members, please stop fighting with each other on our vacation.  You are giving me a headache.

Dear Big Boy,  I hope you can get your non-fiction first-person summer reading assignment finished and your essay written before school starts on Monday.  Procrastination is a bummer in the end.  I speak from experience.

Dear Readers, I am sorry for not blogging so much lately.  Not sure if you care really but in addition to not blogging I also have not been reading or commenting and we all like it when we get comments... so sorry.  I am probably not deserving of your kind comments, but leave them anyways if your so inclined.  If not- I totally get it!



August 18, 2011

The 5-7-5 On Us

Please see Emily's blog where I got this idea.  She is brilliant.

Little Girl is cute
 Though her self-chopped hair has grown
to a length that's sad...

Big Girl is stressed
or is it just boredom that 
makes her pluck her brows?

Little Boy likes girls
But can't seem to talk to them.
He choses to wave.

Middle Boy threw up
three times on the track Monday
at his first practice.

Big Boy eats food-stuffs
all day and all night it seems,
I guess he'll still grow.

I am awake (sigh!)
thinking thoughts that upset me
like starting to run.

T is the 1st prize
in a game I call 'My Life.'
So glad I found him.

That was fun.... now do try this at home.

August 16, 2011

Love Loss and Success...

Today in the grocery store as I stood in the check out line my eyes did what they always tend to do... they scanned all the scandalous headlines on the smutty magazine covers.  Hypocritically, I wouldn't be caught dead with one of these magazines in my home, but I feel quite up to date on who is divorcing or cheating or sporting a new baby bump after my weekly wait in the line at Giant Foods.  Today one caught my eye with a typical headline about an interview within the magazine's pages from the smokey eyed actress from Glee, Dianna Agron.  The actress who plays Quinn Fabray talks about love, loss and success or so it says on the cover right above 'what my va jay jay is dying to tell me.'  So Cosmopolitan.

I don't mean to seem condescending here.  I don't know everything about love loss and success but I am willing to bet that after 42 years of living my life (and nearly 20 years married) I bet I know more about these subjects than little miss Dianna.  So I had to do a bit of an eye-roll at this headline.  Now that I sit down to blog I ask myself what do I know?  And why isn't cosmopolitan knocking down my door to ask me?  Probably because I am not on a popular trend setting sit-com.  I am just a housewife with 5 kids and a busy husband.  But here is what I have learned so far about L L and S.  (that's Love Loss and Success...)

LOVE:  Love is never having to say you're sorry.  Love is about forgiveness as well.  Love is commitment.  Love is sharing the last piece of peanut butter pie.  Love is going through a deployment and not only staying faithful but growing closer.  Love is about putting yourself 2nd.  Love is about setting a budget, and trying to stick to it, but sometimes not.  Love is seeing the best in your partner and trying to be better because of them.  Love is accepting someone even after the baby bump doesn't ever completely disappear.

LOSS:  I have learned the most in my life because of what I have lost.  You never know how much you have unless you lose sometimes.  The big thing you learn from loss is from what happens after you fall.  Do you get back up?  Do you give up?  Who do you blame?  All important things yes?

SUCCESS:  What do I know about success?  Not much.  As my husband's grandparents used to say... "when we were married we had nothing, and we still got it!" I guess it all depends on what someone means by success.  Material success?  Success with your family? Successful baking?  Fame?  I'm still working on all these things.  With the exception of fame.  Who wants to be famous?  I'll settle for a famous blog with nearly 40 followers.  Maybe I should consider getting a Dianne Agron "Shab".  It's the hottest haircut this summer so 'they' say.

August 11, 2011

Summer Wind Down

We have just 18 days left of Summer at this typing.  We are at the point in our Summer where I look back and think, did we do everything we wanted to?  Or did we just watch too much television and play that silly new video game too much?  I had the entire family doing good deeds and weeding bad weeds to collectively earn a new Wii game called animal crossing.  They are collectively all addicted to playing this game and all good deeds and weeding time have gone straight out the window.  They are completely focused on catching and selling fish to the local store, writing one another mail, shaking trees to see what will come out (hey Little Boy got a used massage chair that way!), and digging holes to find or bury stuff.  I am happy that they are not shooting anything in this game, but I am not happy about having to regulate how long they play each day.  It makes us all cranky.  So what I decided this week was that we were going to get out there and enjoy some stuff.  I would pick a child or two to take on an outing each day of the week.  Monday I took Middle and Little Boy to the Newseum.  It was awesome!  I have been there twice and loved it both times.  At first Middle Boy was wishing his best friend would have been able to come and seemed a bit down, but he perked right up at all the sights to see there.  The next day I took Big Boy to the air and space museum to see the IMAX movie about the Hubble telescope.  It was so inspiring I have vowed to take the rest of the family to see it asap.  We have plans next week to see the sculpture museum or perhaps the portrait gallery with Big Girl and the zoo with Little Girl.  At some point I will get to the laundry.  Then we have a beach trip scheduled and it's back to school.  I hope I won't miss them too much. My youngest starts pre-school this year leaving me all alone 3 days a week.  That ought to be different for me.

Looking back on my summer I would have to say that the highlight was having my parents drive out for a visit.  I was pretty worried about an 82 yr old man driving his motor home cross country but he managed to do okay.  I still haven't pinned him down to tell me the story of accidentally driving into a ditch but I will.  While he was here with his new wife I managed to get them down to see the Vietnam Memorial where Thelma's first husband's name is.  They were only married for 2 years when he lost his life.  She was pregnant with their second daughter at the time.  I asked her afterwards if the memories were too sad and she told me all the sweet memories outweighed the bad ones.  That answer is classic Thelma.  Here are some photos of that day.

I was so honored to be able to make this happen for them.  My Dad drives well, but walking around in the extreme heat he doesn't enjoy.  Parking in DC with a motor home ain't easy, so I drove them there early on a Sunday morning.  I think I impressed him with my slick city parallel parking skills. We walked slow and took breaks.  When we finally got there and the guide looked up where Thelma's 1st husband's name would be, clucked his tongue and said we'd have a hard time reaching his name for a rubbing.  It was indeed too high for us to reach.  Thelma declared that if she could just touch it that it would be enough.  So I gave her a boost and she reached for his name.  A nice couple from the South (with heavy accents) helped out and boosted her even better.  Then the woman said in her southern drawl.  "Let my husband help y'all out with that rubbin' he's got some tall on 'im"  So we handed him our paper and he went to town.  He left the R off of ROBERT.  He tried again.  Sadly I brought the wrong thing for a rubbing.  Note to self: graphite not pastel.  We thanked the Southern couple and they left. Thelma was telling me it was just fine that it didn't turn out when suddenly the tour guide showed up with his fanny pack full of paper and graphite to save the day for us.  He was super tall and I told him as he rubbed that he was the perfect height for this job.  He gave me a great one liner about putting his 'tall legs on' when he got dressed that morning.  I wondered how many times he used that line and admired him all the more for it.  It was a great summer memory.

August 06, 2011

The Welcome Mat

For the past 22 years my father was married to a woman who, for the most part was good to us, but sadly due to her insecurities could never fully embrace us kids as hers.  Oh I know she tried.  She was handy with a needle and thread and she'd whip out a cross stitched bookmark for your child's baptism in nothing flat.  She'd also give you a framed cross stitch work of art with your child's birthday and birth weight when you had a new baby.  I always felt a bit awkward accepting these treasures she'd created because to me it seemed a bit like her proof that she was being good to us hanging there on the nursery wall, but the actions she showed didn't quite match up.  She had a wicked tongue and never held back criticism.  Sad but true.

My Step mother passed away last summer and about 6 months later my Dad re-married.  The good news is that this time he married a real gem.  I have been hearing stories of her settling into the house and making changes that to me, represent her spreading out the welcome mat.  When I recently visited I was able to see for myself.  She turned one of the downstairs bedrooms into a 'teenager hangout' with good books and movies to watch (almost all VHS... awesome!)  there is a desk with paper and markers to do artwork.  She pointed out some career choice books to my 17yr old who is thinking about his future a lot lately.  So nice. The best part of the room is a large white fur rug that she will suggest you take your shoes and socks off and walk on.  So plush!  And so not something JoAnn would have done.  Thelma is just fun.  I was touched as she showed me where she re-hung our family photos back on the walls.  They were taken down after my mother passed and placed in a dark corner of the house on the floor to collect dust.

We went out for Chinese food with my parents and here is just another example of her desire to please.  Big Boy wanted to order the soup.  He also had a hankering for some orange chicken, so he asked me to order it so he could taste some from my plate.  I was still full from our pizza lunch at The Pie in Salt Lake earlier so I told him I would be ordering light.  I ordered a side dish.  When Thelma caught on to the situation (late in the ordering) she jumped out of her seat and rushed back to the kitchen to change her order to orange chicken so that my son could get some.  My Dad protested but she insisted.  It was a good thing too, because he hated his soup.  I was super touched.

Yes- I'd say the welcome mat is officially out.