Thursday, July 30, 2009

My latest TI Challenge

Hello on a Thursday!

I took on Tina's Traveler's Inspiration Challenge this week. Efficiency, kids, efficiency! I wanted to make a welcome card for my friend Susan's baby girl, so I gave it a shot for the Challenge. This did turn out to be a challenge for me, because I would not have normally chosen these colors for a baby card.

I hemmed and hawed and grimaced and over-thought... so maybe it wasn't actually efficient for me! But I really wanted to work with these colors and papers, and here is the result:

A warm welcome for a sweet new girl...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Shocking Conclusion to the Tale

Wow, the title is longer than the conclusion...

Was it Rick in the library with the candlestick? Cole in the kitchen with the munchies? Bethany in the dining room with the knife?

dum dum dummmmm...

All of the above!

Retracing the time line of crime, and the alibis of the guilty, here is what went down:

Cole got hungry and thought the banana looked tasty. However, upon biting into it, he remembered how little he likes very ripe bananas. He placed it by the sink and walked away. Bethany fed Phoenix his lunch, and *thinking it was the leftover banana from breakfast,* sliced off a few pieces for the baby. Rick came along later with his bowl of yogurt, thought some banana would be tasty, and finished it off.

And that's how a banana gets eaten around here. All for one and one for all. Or should I say "we don't waste food around here" - if you don't finish it, put it on the counter and someone will come along later.

Or multiple someones.

The End.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Tale of the Missing Banana

She smirked happily, thinking of warm, fresh banana bread.

She gloated over her foresight in hiding one large banana so that it could ripen.

She sighed knowing there was the one required stick of butter left.

All the pieces were in place. It was time. Gustatory nirvana would soon be achieved.

Only... where had the banana gone?

Who had clambered onto the counter and sought it out? And why? They don't even like the slightly brown ones, so how could The Plan have failed? Dad had been apprised of The Mission, so he was clear.

Three days in the making, countless close calls as the Littlest (most rabid banana-eater) One almost spotted it, and now No Banana.

Travesty. Oh, the travesty!

Which of the small monkeys could have perpetrated this crime?

Stay tuned for the shocking conclusion.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Scenes from the week

Greetings on a Sunday morning!

I have completed a project:
Here are my freshly covered kitchen chairs. Sunbrella outdoor fabric wipes off well! I may not make custom window treatments like Mama, but give me some fabric and a staple gun, and I'm good to go.

Phoenix has a new hangout, and he is obsessed with it. This particular hangout has earned him his first series of timeouts, as he figured out how to open to dishwasher repeatedly, while it was running. Oh la la! Noise and steam and fun - or so he thought. He hangs on the door and jumps, he rattles the racks, he finds himself in the playroom with the door closed. Poor wittle itty bitty boy.

Surely they could play alone for a few minutes, while I dried and dressed Phoenix. Surely turning on the jets would be fun. Surely the bubbles wouldn't go crazy and overflow...

They said "Let's make a hoagie!" And so they did. (Though Jadyn got the raw deal, if you ask me.)

The End.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mirror, mirror on the wall...

I am my mother after all. Or so says the pillow that my brother has in his den. And incidentally, so says my response to my mother, upon realizing she had a small blister on her lip when she arrived.

"Oh! I just read that if you make a paste of baking soda and water, and apply it often during the day, the pH of the baking soda will eliminate bad cells! Try it!"

Uh-oh. She was here less than hour and I already offered a homemade poultice for an ailment. That sure came out of left field! I think we all know what this means, and if you read my prior post on healthcare, you shouldn't be surprised at this development. I came by it honestly.

But you should be saying "tut-tut" to me, for relentlessly ribbing my Mom about her herbal remedies, while all the while stocking my own. I know, I know. In the interest of transparency, I reluctantly checked my medicine cabinet before starting this post, and I am prepared to report some of it's contents:

Essential oils: peppermint, orange, tea tree, lemongrass, lavender, lemon and rosemary.

Skin applications: Vitamin E oil, Goldenseal salve, lavender lotion (with St. John's Wort, kava kava and valerian root).

Multiple large containers of hydrogen pyroxide? Check. Mineral oil? Check. Glass bottle and medicine dropper? Oh, yes, check. And it's dark blue so the contents will not degrade in sunlight and oh my sweet mother what have I become?!

I-I-I-I am an apothecary! I simply picked up a few things here and there that I thought may be useful in the pursuit of health and fine fettle, and look what I have done! (But seriously - have you tried peppermint oil for headaches? Divine! And the Goldenseal salve really does clear up dry skin very well.)

But I am happy to report that there are no long homespun gowns, or pointed hats in my closet, and I do not own a cauldron. If you've seen what you think IS a cauldron, well, that is just a very large hefty pot for boiling, umm, lobsters. And for dying clothes. So chill out. Deep breath.

For the record? That baking soda paste did start to clear up the blister...
Told ya the root doctor was in. Heh.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Will we all become root doctors?

Friends, I can't gently segue from yesterday's introspective child-bearing post, to today's slightly heated topic.
Don't think I stopped caring about politics, just know that after last fall's hectic race and victory, I have sat back to watch and see what happens. What I have seen and experienced with regard to healthcare costs is maddening. The lack of cooperation in Washington, and the absurd head-in-the-sand stance of the people is frustrating. Say it together, kids - this is not political, this is about our families, our income and our standard of care!

Change in the healthcare system does not have to mean a government-run system. But it DOES have to mean change. The co-pays are steadily rising, the premiums are steadily rising, and standard care is rapidly declining.
As politicians love to do, let me tell you a story about, well, ME. I can't deal in random generalizations, but I can tell you what the personal experience of a family of 6 has been. Starting with the day before Phoenix arrived. Could you ever guess that hurrying to the OB to confirm dilation and impending labor, and then being sent to the hospital as a result of that confirmation, could be labeled an uncovered "trouble" visit?
Well, that is what a certain colorful cross and shield insurance calls it. And it merits an exorbitant fee.
Though upon being challenged, they finally agreed that impending labor and delivery was not in fact "trouble" but the relief of trouble, and in fact the desired method of relief, as I so loudly pointed out! On that day I happened to speak with a rep that had the ability to think critically, and arrive at the solution. Fee removed.

Fast forward to the current disagreement, over a small matter of water in the ears. Did you know that having water in your ears, trapped behind the wax, and subsequently needing an ear-flushing by a nurse, is considered a surgical procedure? And is subject to a separate surgical deductible? What sorts of home surgeries have I been unknowingly performing on my children! Because as any parent knows, the intimate nature of parenting is certainly more surgical than the 1-minute flushing of an ear with salt water.
Yet cross and shield is currently arguing that the $40 co-pay, plus the $70 surgical co-pay seems about right for a salt water surgical flush. Right about now, I'm thinking that swimming is a hazard, and to avoid further potential "surgeries" we should stay out of the pool. Because let's do the math, 6 people swimming with potential water getting in very real ears, could equal $660 of fake surgery. All from a little summer fun.

I could go on with examples, and I'm guessing most of you could, too, but the salient point here is this: the current private, market-driven system does not work. I don't know that I want a government-run system, but I do know that when the biggest financial worry is the healthcare coverage of a relatively healthy family of 6, something has to change.
And isn't that what we voted in anyway? A change of thinking?
Now let's all take a deep breath and let it happen.
It's not politics.
It's family and it's life and it's touching each one of us.
Just because there is no alternative proposal, doesn't mean sticking with the status quo is the right thing.

Pretty soon I'll be calling Mom for a homemade tincture or an herbal potion, just to avoid ridiculous fees and healthcare apprehension. And when that becomes the case, look out. Funny smells and colorful pastes cure lots of things...

The Root Doctor is in.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Winding down

I have tallied my days in this breeding business. Tallied my time, my body's offerings, and marveled over the months spent, the years passing, the small bodies stretching taller. It is the end of those days for me, and so I muse over the gifts and the meaning. I smile secretly at this body and what it has endured and overcome and been capable of. Healthy country stock, I am. I feel grace for the imperfections and scars, though they bother me sometimes. I am content.

30 months pregnant. Two and a half years.
39 months breastfeeding (and still counting). Three years, three months and counting.
Five and a half years of the last nine years gestating, nourishing, pushing my all into four small creatures. Days of milk and babies.

My littlest fellow is winding down his nursing days. I am allowing those times to dwindle slowly, while still sighing in perfect peace as we settle into the quiet room before bedtime, leaving the household bustle behind. He dangles from my lap, seeming suddenly so long where he had just been the tiny one downstairs among giants. In our silent space he is his own person, allowed to have his time with me with no other demands. I am content.

I have had purpose, I walk forward in continued purpose, yet I have completed purpose. My heart is calm and full. I have done what I set out to do. There are no doubts or lingering desires for another pregnancy. I no longer sense a small one waiting to be mine. I am content.

Contentment - it does not come with striving, and cannot be chased. It is rarely defined properly, since we all too often mistake what it takes to get there. And so it becomes a sudden gift, a feeling of such sweetness. I can remember clearly the antithesis of contentment, and it makes this time rich in its fullness.

And so these days wind down, these days of milk and babies. What remains to be given will come from my heart and some well of energy that is thankfully renewed each day. I will hold on to this contentment and sense of completion.

Job well done, workhorse body of mine.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Scenes of the week

My mom has been teaching the girls to sew buttons on shirts - decorative buttons, in many shapes and colors. She is like a button bedazzler, and their tee shirts and jeans have been decorated. They have played Candyland and Monopoly every day, taken walks and chatted. The children soak it in and Rick and I have been invigorated by a few moments alone and a few nights out. Whee!

Yesterday we drove up to the lake, to a small lakeside state park about 25 minutes away. Rick and I used to go there every weekend to cook out, and enjoy lounging by the water. We haven't been in a while and it was so nice to be at our old spot. The picnic area is on the water, but there isn't a beach in that area. So it was great for us, back in our childless stage, but now all the kids want is to get. in. that. water. NOW. So we let them climb around on the rocks, and then we walked over to the little beach.

Here are a few scenes of the week:

Our project of course, since Mom never visits without doing a project. My chaise! My serenity corner project! She is making a slipcover for it, out of this fabulous fabric I found.

I have fiddled with this picture and it doesn't want to cooperate and turn... but I wanted you to see Jadyn sewing a button on her shirt, and the be-buttoned jeans.

Notice the sombrero-wearing dog that Mom is holding below. This little jewel dances and sings Feliz Navidad, and has been a huge hit. The girls call him "Jasper's brother" since he looks like Mom's little dog Jasper.

Please notice that Isabella is wearing a dress! Stop the presses... she saw Mom in a sundress, and ran upstairs to find a dress. And wore the dress, along with 2 hair clips ALL day. A Bella first!

Did you wonder where Phoenix is? He's around, puttering along and doing his thing. But he will not go near Mom yet, and keeps looking at her suspiciously out of the corner of his eye. Sound familiar? At least we know this too passes, as it has with Jadyn.
So long for now...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

An extra Mama

Don't we all need one some days? Ah, the extra Mama.

I get one for 5 days. My Mom just got here, and the days are looking bright. Right after she and Phoenix finish napping, I am sure we will have some fun projects to work on. After the napping and oh, wait, the stretching regime - then we'll get to the fun. Oh and I forgot the herbal root remedies. After the napping, the stretching, the herbal-root-taking - then comes the fun. I think that's all she needs to get herself going. (Oh, she's gonna get me for that.)

The older kids are in camp for part of the day tomorrow, so Mom and I will get out and do a little shopping and flea marketing. But the big project will be cutting and pinning the slip cover for my chaise lounge! Ahhhhh, soon my serenity corner will be complete... and pictures will follow so that you can imagine me there during the daily quiet time.

The daily quiet time is going well this summer. Phoenix naps, the kids watch a movie, and I read...the backs of my eyelids. Each afternoon. See, all it takes is a plan, and the willingness to bribe others to go along with the plan. At least bribes are cheap (lollipop!) at this age.

I'll check back in with Gigee updates, as they happen!

Monday, July 13, 2009


I gotta little change in my pocket... going jang-a-lang-a-lang...

So I've got this change (and by change I mean bills) to spend, and I've been browsing online.
I really have more fun simply imagining what I could buy with a little spending money. It's harder for me to actually spend it - but dreaming? Oh, that's the fun part.
The situation is this. I have come by a bit of spending money. It's a convoluted tale that travels by way of the NC utility company through my Dad to my Mom to me. So it's sort of free and unattached and I don't have to use it for anything practical. Aha! The magical (fun) appearance of impractical money!

This money was a-jangling 'round my head for weeks. I made comment after comment about what my Dad would approve me spending it on. First, Florida. Only our trip there was surprisingly inexpensive due to Rick's hotel points he had saved from all of his business trips. Because we weren't out doing a lot of sight-seeing or shopping this time, and if you aren't sure why not... then please join us and our 4 children for a bit of shopping or an errand or even just a walk down the street. It's a mad dash to get the necessities and get out of public spaces with all the children intact.

But back to my daydreaming. Florida, of which Dad would have seriously approved, was not the place to spend my money.
Next, I looked at pianos. Anything musical would have been approved by either parent - and since my Mom plays too, double bonus. But... there's the noise to consider. And the fact that if I was really looking to honor Dad, I would have to learn some Yanni songs. Mmm-hmm. Floaty!

Then I checked out some craft tables. Tables and storage for all of my projects - oh-la-la! There are some very cool crafty centers out there, and I really would like an area to call my own. But in the end it wasn't really much fun to think about one, because I don't get a lot of crafting time right now. (See previous paragraph.) So the current set-up works fine.

Rick snorted at all of my waffling, and said if I really wanted to please Dad, I would put my money towards a party boat. Well, he has a point there. A boat is definitely a leisure activity we could all enjoy. But that is a giant purchase with many details and ramifications, and really, the thought just complicated my pleasant musings on treats for myself. A boat can be Rick's daydreaming/online browsing fun.

The final browsing became the final decision.

A digital camcorder! A new gadget!

Our old one is 8 years old and not working properly. I've been looking around, comparing and reading reviews for a while now, and I found what I wanted. ( I'm sure I don't even need to mention that I got a fabulous deal!) I record the goings-on here daily, and have been trying to make dvd's too - but the old system and the new tricks do not mesh well. So when my choice gets here, and checks out properly and syncs properly with this finicky system called windows vista... Well, then I'll be thrilled. Before then, I'll just wait on it, and reserve the right to return it and continue my daydreaming. :)

Friday, July 10, 2009

a challenge and a first

You never know what you'll get around here. And in a brief departure from all things child-related, today you get a card!

Tina, at Travelingmama, is posting a weekly Traveler's Inspiration Challenge, and this week I was able to participate. Mostly because it was posted on a Friday, and a.) my cleaning efforts are slack that day, b.) Phoenix took a nice nap, and c.) the older kids pretended to be puppies and I poured them repeated bowls of dry cereal as puppy food.

The result of all this? This!

The inspiration photo was a serene shot of the Taos Pueblo, in Taos, NM (click here to see it). The natural tones of the earth and pueblo against the bright blue sky were irresistible. I thought of a friend that moved away to Alabama, and she needs to come visit... so I'm sending this sentiment to urge a visit!

Happy weekend all...

Thursday, July 9, 2009


I went to bat for Isabella yesterday.
There she sat, nose in a book, "reading" to herself so adorably. Then along came Cole, ribbing her mercilessly about how she was not really reading, couldn't possibly read, and never will read as well as O Magnificent Cole.
I hushed him and sent him on his way, but like most of our verbal sparring matches, he didn't listen and instead went on to provide a thesis on age-appropriate reading skills, Isabella's lack of all necessary skills, et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseum. Very clever, my boy. He can talk his way in such a convoluted circle, that finally the object of his attention will either have: a. bleeding ears from the step-by-step beating-a-dead-horse logic or, b. declared Cole the winner. Match Point!

And really, it isn't healthy for a child to Always Win, right? So I went to bat for Isabella, dear silent Bella, just staring at Cole with giant eyes and the innocent moue of a surprised kewpie doll.
I believed in her, and her steady climb toward literacy, having witnessed dozens of signed coloring pages bearing her patented " IIIII OOO llll."
I felt confident that she could bear me out if I challenged Cole in an attempt to prove him wrong.
I told him forcefully that she did so know her letters, and was therefore well on her way to reading in the next year. Cole insisted that she only knew what the letter "I" was, and I set out to get him.

"Isabella, what are some other letters in your (very long) name?"

She looked up triumphantly and crowed "Ones!"

Oh. Oh my. Cole and I dissolved with laughter. And I hastily amended my confident feelings of her impending literacy. Turns out the "IIIII OOO llll" was really "IIIII OOO 1111" as in, these are the numbers of my name.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Child-proofing the Roar Way

Finally, we have it. A clean bill of health around here.
This is me just saying "Oh, hi!" so that you know I made it through and didn't run away.

I see a lot of bloggers sharing tips on a number of things, and I am always willing to pass on what I've learned. Especially regarding children, and the village it takes to raise them. Now, you may think that being on number 4 has given me an edge, and that maybe I've in some ways seen it all.

That doesn't happen to be the case. Mambo Number 4 has thrown some curves and proves the point that every child has a different button to push. With Phoenix, I have discovered a child-proofing tactic that is almost magical.
See Exhibits A and B, above.
The dinosaur sphinx flanking the doorway.
Guardians of house plants and other cherished non-baby items.
Behold my childproofing magic!
Phoenix really likes to get into a tall plant pot, in the front room. Our neighbors gave it to us recently, when they moved and couldn't fit it in the truck. It is a beautiful, tall bamboo in a lovely pot. It also happens to have white stones and shiny jewel-like rocks covering the soil in the pot. Clearly these neighbors only had dogs to worry about.
Phoenix considered those shiny little stones to be mouth-watering candies. He snuck in there ALL the time to pop one in his mouth. My previous doorway gate just wasn't doing the trick anymore, as years of use have brought it to its knees.
So I had to resort to a new tactic.
Enter, the dinosaur masks!
Phoenix may love those stones, but he does not love those dinosaurs. He will not go near them alone, or pass through that doorway. Though if we are holding him, he roars at them and acts very brave...

Thursday, July 2, 2009

plague intermission: quotes

Enjoy some Cole today. It'll do a body good. I have 3 for you.

Cole: Mom, what is sex?
Mommy (wide-eyed and frozen in place): Umm, what's the context? (Buy some time! Think! Think! How much detail! Too much, too little, just right - Ack!!!)
Cole: Right here on my child safety sheet from school, it says hair color, eye color, sex.
Mommy: (Ahhh.... sweet relief) Oh, that's easy!


Cole: Mommy, don't laugh or giggle or make fun of me when I talk about this.
Mommy: (professional straight face on, eye contact made) OK sweetie, what's up?
Cole: I'm getting to be 8 years old now, and I'm thinking about joining eHarmony.


Cole: (upon seeing me on the couch today, cuddling the girls) Oh that's great, just great! Now they've both got fevers, so that makes 3 kids that will need you, and how are you going to ever have any attention or time for me? Who's going to feed me?!


And a little taste of Jadyn:
Mommy, I wish that Phoenix and Cole and you and all of us could all stay the same size that we are right now. 'Cause I like our family.

Intermission over. Back to plague house. Bugs gone. Three feverish kids, check. Stomach bug, check.
This is me crying Uncle.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

seven plagues

Dear Vacation Bible School (VBS),

I admit the error of my ways. I offer profuse apologies for misreading your documents, making light of the situation, and for the inappropriate use of humor after the fact. Please consider my letter of thanks to be off the table and in the trash.

Now call off the plagues. We will nevermore grace your doorstep, that I can promise.
The first plague of repeated cat pooh in the sandbox was easily remedied, albeit with time and care, and cat-defeating cleverness.

The second plague? Oh no you didn't.
We thought we could quickly cure it by shearing Samson, much as your Biblical figures chose, and in the meantime create an adorable homegrown Superhero such as this:

But no. Your VBS-borne plagues are resistant to remedies and have made an effective hypocrite of me.
Let me backtrack. Oh what happened!
First this:

Then, yon shorn Superhero up above, to remove wee crawly-thingies that give mama the creepies.
Game over? Not so fast. Cut to OTC treatment, the day before vacation I might add, hours of picking and combing, relief that we caught it in time.
Cut 2 weeks in advance to today, in the wake of any tiny nits missed, and you have me - Le Hypocrite, former condemner of all things pesticidal, chemical and decidedly unsafe for humans.
Now applying ALL things prescription and pesticidal to the heads of my small darlings in a THIRD round attempt to forever rid this house of wee $*%ing treatment-resistant crawlies. (pause for shudder and scratch) I'm not sure what's worse - the plague or the loss of my staunch anti-pesticidal stance.
Yes, VBS, you have done your worst in retribution, and after I had sweetly promised to sort Jesus-fish beads at next year's VBS in penance. Offer withdrawn!
Now please. Really. Call off the plagues or this is going to get really ugly. Mama don't like bugs. Mama don't like laundry. Mama don't like bugs on laundry and 8 hot loads a day in the summer. And Mama really don't like being housebound with 4 antsy (I use the term figuratively only!) young'uns in the summer.
It's enough to make a Mama throw her hands up and call on Delilah for a solution.