Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Behind every successful student is a mom who handles oodles of paperwork: approval sheets, dismissal sheets, bus confirmations, affidavits of residency, club joinings, donation requests, PTA surveys, lunch menus, afterschool activities, family night out fundraisers, catalog fundraisers, book sale fundraisers - did I leave anything out? I am really learning to be responsible. Show me a class folder and I will show you a ruthlessly separated pile of papers, destined for the recycle bin. I am so like, responsible. Times three.

And isn't that the point of school?

I am so acing this kindergarten thing.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Last Splash

I'm backing up a few days to share our Last Splash of summer.

We rented a boat last Friday and spent a few hours out on Lake Lanier! For those of you outside of GA, this is a big lake just north of Atlanta, about 20 minutes from our house.

It was relaxing... fun... beautiful... different... all the things that summer's last blast should be. All the components were there: Sun. Heat. Perfect water. Boat. Kids. Tube. Babysitter for Phoenix! I decided to forgo a day of rescuing/wrestling the Phoeney-Phoenster, and instead, sit and enjoy the ride. Like this:

A rare shot of bethanius mommius, seen sitting still without phoenixus goiterus perched on her lap

Jadyn & Cole tubing

Jump, Jady-girl, jump!

Captain Rickey

Float with your feet up, so the electric eels don't get you!

Ah, the humor of parents and kids. We don't want them to be scared exactly, we just want to... spook them! A little! So yes, I swam up and pinched bottoms and may have mentioned the Loch Ness monster... But all in all, not enough to matter. We were certainly nicer parents when it came to tubing. My Dad used to tease that he was going to throw us off by the crab pots, then he would drive all zig-zaggy, trying to fling us off quickly. This would be after all the tales of river creatures, and stories of chasing water moccasins. Nice. It comes naturally, as I heard them teasing each other before I even dared...
But no creatures "got" us and we had a great time. It was so beautiful and serene, humming along in the pontoon. The water was a clear green, and just the right temperature. I didn't realize how much I missed being near the water, in Washington. So many of our days growing up were spent out on the river, at my grandparents. This lake time was a sweet reminder, and a pleasure to share with the kids. A highly recommended outing, and one we hope to enjoy again next summer!

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Big Day

Today was the day!

The first day of Kindergarten.

The first day of 4th grade.

The first day back to work at Rachael's (for me and Phoenix).

Here's how it went down:

Will you be surprised to learn that all four (excited) children were up and at 'em by 5:30am? Will you be surprised to learn that 3 out of 4 were dressed all the way down to shoes? My kids should find a career that requires early rising and dressing. They will excel at that. Will you be surprised to learn that Jadyn dressed in her new clothes, without complaint? (I was surprised!) (I like to think that it was my warning one month ago, informing her that ragamuffin-ish girls would not be allowed into kindergarten or out of my house. But I know better than that.)

The morning went off without a hitch, the Learlings returned home right on time, and their new teachers were declared "nice." A resounding, confident "nice." I'll take it. Meanwhile Rachael & I took on 6 of the toddler set, for an energetic morning.

We're back to our routine.

Cole (4th), Isabella & Jadyn (K), Phoenix (hambone stinker)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Winding up, winding down

Winding up for school to start, winding down as summer ends.
Winding up each morning as I squint at the clock, realizing my lazy bones better start moving earlier by next week. (Lazy bones, you say? With kids that get up at the butt crack of dawn? Well. It's all relative...)
Winding down as each day ends, full and complete.

Rachael and I went to see the summer's much-anticipated flick, Eat Pray Love. It was all about eating, praying, and loving. {Shocking! I know!} But I read a review that said Julia R. doesn't do much lovin' in movies because she loves her husband so much. I might well have such emotional or moral obligations too, were I a movie star. But in the case of this particular movie with this particular Spanish actor? Javier Bardem? Well...
Good thing I'm not Julia. Me and my honest penchant for the mature man. I fully enjoyed the movie, which is rare for me, for a movie made from a book.

The Pray part reminded me over and over of my Dad and his band of merry friends. Merry, praying friends who also used phrases like light and love in everyday conversation, and spoke of meditation as though it were every person's daily ritual.
"Namaste" greeted the guru attendant in India.
Namaste, my mind's eye saw on my Dad's bumper.
The Divine in me salutes the Divine in you...
A spark of longing ignited in me, for that inner circle of his friends.
That joyful band of happy spirits.

Some people find their Pray early on.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Disciples of Infomercials

Loving on Abby, while Abby only has eyes for that waffle...

I know what you're thinking - here she is, blogging away on the days that she has FIVE kids in the house. Strange, right? Adding in a cute baby makes my own more interested in their toys, and in watching her toddle around. Which makes me more able to play online. Why clean, there are FIVE kids here!

Abby's little head is yo-yo-ing back and forth at all the cries of "Abby! Hi Abby! Abby!"

They wish she could stay. Isabella said this morning "Maybe Rachael won't come back from Florida... and we can keep Abby." Never mind Abby's Daddy coming in the afternoon...

My children are baby hounds.

But that is not why I'm here today. I am here today to tell you of the products being expertly marketed on TV. I know they are being expertly marketed because my children have the perfect idea of the products we need to be purchasing. Pay no mind to the fact that almost all of them are cleaning supplies. I'm sure that's just a coincidence.

1.Drain Snake. I'm not sure why this appeals to them, but they are sure we need one. I will not buy anything with snake in the title.

2. Foamy Shower Cleaner: Just spray, walk away, then come back later to wipe it clean, Mom!

3. Stain Away Spray: Jadyn: You, like, spray it, walk away, and your counter stains go away!

(seeing a theme here? Spraying and walking away? Magical disappearance of grime?)

4. Retractable deck awning. Has it been a hot summer or what? Any selling of shade is Good.

Small eyes wide with wonder, taking in all that the infomercial has to offer - making believers out of each and every one. I secretly wish it were all true, then I would buy every product, spray them all, and leave for a week.

Returning to a sparkly castle, the stuff that dreams are made of...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Boy talk

Cole, achieving his holy grail of snuggling with Phoenix

Hello, these are my boys. I was thinking today that my big boy gets short shrift around here. It's not that he doesn't do anything cute anymore, and certainly not that he doesn't say cute things anymore... if you call sarcasm cute. Which, I do. When it's me. When it's him? I call it mouthy. And we mouth back & forth and as we do so, I think to myself, really? Is there an echo in here? I could swear I was talkin' to myself. I often think of the time my Mom threw a chicken bone at me, from the sink where she was washing dishes. I was clear across the room, wiping the dinner table and nattering on and on at her. She says I'm lucky it was *only* a chicken bone. I say she is a mild-mannered person, so I must have been quite mouthy.

And Cole says I'm not willing to hear his viewpoint. "You're not being reasonable, Mom."

And I say he goes about it too long. "Wrap it up, now!" Gets that from his Daddy, he does. I think... though considering the anecdote above, I'll have to hold judgment.

When Cole turns his attentions to Phoenix, it is a hoot.
"Gimme a hug, Phoenix, c'mon just one hug? Sit with me? Phoenix? Phoenix! I need a hug!"
Mercurial Phoenix rarely deigns to sit and snuggle with Cole, though he is getting more generous with his hugs. So Cole is getting more liberal with his bribes:
"Phoenix... I'll let you hold my DS..."
And Phoenix is getting more dirty with his jokes: "I poop my diaper in your bed, Cole."
How does he know that is asking for a fight? Toddler put-downs are the best.
"You wear diaper, Cole."

How long will these two share a room?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Twin talk

I speak to them and wait for the reaction.

They look at each other, make a face and wordlessly walk away.

Welcome to twin talk. Where I am just another outsider infringing on their little world. Their little game. Like Charlie Brown's teacher wah-wah-wahing in the background.

Some days I think that if they didn't need to eat they might never need me - they are so solid in their independence. Interdependence. But it's not true - they are connected in this family, just a little more so with each other.

They are constantly measuring height, discussing size, balancing skills and strengths to find their relative place with one another. It is a give and take, and always has been. They switch back and forth being the cleverest, most artistic, the tallest, most coordinated. But the comparisons are kind and factual, without ugliness. Just a sort of figuring it all out. I love to watch them play and chatter away, and to listen in on their Animal Games or Buddy Games - daily games where they know their roles and slip into them effortlessly. (In Buddy Games, they pretend to be twin boys named Zach & Connor. Animal Games involve 2-20 animal toys, that roost from lamps to stairs.)

Then comes the nighttime, where they have been good little monkeys and stayed in their beds for so long. Until the other night, when I went up to bed... and found them on my chaise lounge! But it was a sight so sweet, I could hardly bear to move them...

It made me wonder, what would it be like to have a soulmate for a sister?

Monday, August 9, 2010

T minus Two and Counting

T minus Two until school starts, that is. Or maybe I got it backwards. Two weeks til school, says the fuzzy-brained mom, and erstwhile blogger. I have been Overcome by Events, and unable to blog. Did I say Events? I meant kids.
And there ain't no lettin' up - least not this week. I'll be keeping 11 month old Abby for 2 days, so that Rachael & Family can enjoy a vacation. Then, in 2 weeks, I start up working at Rachael's again, training up the small people to be lovely small people. And hoping someone will help me train Phoenix not to be hellboy.
That's harsh, you say? Well, then perhaps you should have seen him catapulting himself from the coffee table onto the couch. And perhaps you should have then seen his eyes light up, as he realized he could climb onto the outside of the stair rail, and jump from even higher. Always accompanied by a maniacal giggle, thank you. And even better if there are unsuspecting siblings on the couch, that can be smashed and destroyed.

And moments later, maybe contrite, usually not:
"Mommy? Mommy? Moooooommy? I need to tell you something. We go the pool? Later? Maybe?" (Here he is using all his wistful charm, and repeating all my standard answers.) When the boy says "Later?" it is sweetness and light and demands giant smooches. And forgiveness.
Summer's glory is waning, and in its place are four children who are getting on each other's nerves.

That's my story.

In other family news, let me tell you about Mama Takes Europe By Storm. My Mom, that is. In Europe. For Three Whole Long Weeks! After five days Isaiah and I began frantically calling each other, exclaiming that we could not take Mama being off the grid for so long. (She is traveling with her sister Vera, and my cousin Jessi.)
And then she called, from Paris no less, where she will be situated in an apartment for 10 days while touring the city and environs near and far. "Oh!" I said, upon hearing she had arrived Paris. "Are you in le deuxieme arrondissement?" And she, in all her newly acquired travel chic, did not even notice my polished phrasing and superb accent. Oh la la. Not to mention my knowledge of Parisian city districts - garnered from decade-old French class, and expanded by House Hunter's International...

The word is that they have trampled the streets of London and Edinburgh, and will now gallivant the Continent for a week more. She was starry-eyed, if a person could be called that, over the phone. It was fantastic. All the places from books have come alive, and I think she may not come back. They have attended church at Westminster Abbey, toured the Tower of London, and visited as many castles as possible.

The funniest thing I heard was this: my uncle made a bust of my grandmother, and they are toting that bust around with them. A Nicholls-appropriate homage to my late grandmother, who made this trip possible. Bien sur! Gig always did like to travel, and when they go touring for the day, they leave her propped on the wine bottle, so she won't be late for drinks.

And that's the news for today - be well, friends!