Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Inching Forward

Haiti news!

I was greatly surprised and delighted to learn that the boys' medical exams (required by the Consulate for the Visa) were performed and the reports are completed.

One. Big. Whew!

Our birth parent interviews have been rescheduled for Sept. 10th. At first slightly disappointed to hear that date, I soon realized that it was just 2 little weeks away. After 16 months of waiting, I am pro enough to handle 2 little ol' weeks. Plus, Sara astutely pointed out that with Hurricane Gustav and the resulting shut down of some government offices, it is probably better to have a little breathing room in there so we aren't at risk of having it postponed again.

IF we can get the parents in and IF the interviews go well and IF the Consulate has no issues with our adoption paperwork, then we could be getting the boys mid-September.

Notice that's a whole lotta "if's."

I won't venture into "If Not" land just yet, as that completely deflates me. For now, I'm happy riding this little high of good news.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Victory and Defeat

Today I tackled the game cupboard. I went through ALL the games and checked pieces. I did a HUGE victory dance when I found EVERY SINGLE PIECE of this game:

We've had this game for 3 years. One of my favorites since childhood, I violently jerk and my heart skips a beat every time when the timer is up and the machine spits the pieces into the air.

Did I mention that we have ALL the pieces? After 3 years? And a cross-state move?

I would say that was a very, very, very well-deserved victory dance.

BUT, for every great victory, there is a great defeat.

This is Paloma's chin:

See that Band-Aid? It's a CVS generic. It's been there for 2 WEEKS AND 4 DAYS, after she fell in the garage and scraped up her chin. The child will not let me anywhere near the band aid. I tried once in her sleep and her Spidey Band Aid sense woke her up and she started Exorcist-style screaming at me. I even think her head spun around, but it was really dark so I'm not 100% sure.

Paloma will only allow Grandma Sandy, my mom's BFF, to remove the Band Aid. My mom is a little put out because only Grandma Sandy is given this privilege. Jimmy was given the Exorcist-style scream when she attempted it.

So my daughter is traipsing all about town with this gross, dirty half-dangling Band Aid on her face. The owie is long healed. She's had about 12 baths, gone swimming 8 times and that darn thing is still hanging there.

I wonder how much CVS would pay to use Paloma as their "Our Band Aids REALLY stick" poster child.

Monday, August 25, 2008

What Color are You?

I am totally stealing this from my friend M at Stumbling on Happiness, but it is just plain fun (and short! I'm always a fan of the short quizzes. Plus it asks a bunch of word questions, and I'm a geeky, closet-wannabe etymologist. So it is my kind of quiz.) These are my results. Try it and post your results in a comment.

You are most like:

You are Brown

Earthy and humble, you are often mistaken for being plain, when you are actually quite interesting. Your gentle spirit causes you to be very attractive to others who are searchng for genuine friends.


Take this quiz: Which Crayola Box of 8 Color Are You?

Last Week of Summer

Standing on the doorstep of this last week of summer, my head is spinning, wondering both how summer went by so quickly and how come we are at the end of summer and our boys are still in Haiti. Crazy times.

Our initial intention was to begin school earlier in August, but after some serious discussions and a hard look at the 2008/2009 calendar, Cliff and I decided to take "the plunge" and begin year-round schooling. Many home school families do this, and I wonder if when they began it was as big of a deal to them as it is to us. Something we have long wanted to do, I still found it was a difficult decision to make.

I don't think a consecutive 3 month break from schooling is a wise thing for any child. My kids worked hard last year, and so did I. I've never met a teacher who doesn't gripe at how the have to spend the first third of the year, wasting time 'reviewing' what was learned last year but forgotten over the summer. How wise was it to take such a long break and forget so much? Not very, I think.

What I find difficult is the constant, "you're going to school in July?" comments. I'm still always surprised by the people who don't realize that homeschooling is a commitment, not something that I can just fit in whenever. I need to take a lesson from the Mister, who has perfected the "Who gives a flying f--- about what others think" mindset.

That said, the thought of schooling in summer months makes me a bit nervous. It will take a lot of discipline to school when everyone else is off and my garden is calling my name. But 'halfway' schooling. . .where we intend to do some school a bit each week in summer. . .never seems to happen because we get busy. Full commitment to a late Spring/early Summer term will give me the structure and discipline to get it done.

We'll be schooling 3 months on/1 month off. So Sept/Oct/Nov, with the full month of December off. Jan/Feb/Mar, with April off. May/June/July, with all of August off. We need 180 days of school, and that schedule gives us 10 extra days to take off throughout our 'on' months. We can use them when the boys come home, or we can just go a full week in December to make up whatever time we take off for them. The flexibility is ours. We've always wanted to travel to 'supplement' our schooling, and now with month-long breaks we'll have an easier opportunity.

I'm tying to figure out how to balance this week between preparing for next week and plain old having fun. All I want to do is pack up with kids and take them up to the trailer, but I don't want to shoot myself in the foot by not being fully prepared or having the house adequately organized.

The weather forecast showed a few towns up north from us registering temps in the 30s this morning. That's cold! My thoughts instantly went to my tomatoes, which are still not even half harvested. I intend to put up some jars of salsa and spaghetti sauce this week, so I need Mother Nature to hold those cold temps at bay for at least 3 more weeks. Preferably more, but I'm not greedy nor that unrealistic. I saw that the Farmer's Almanac predicts lower than normal winter temps, which reminds me that I should at least plan on ordering our firewood supply this week. Maybe find a couple of sweater patterns to "intend" on knitting, but knowing full well I'll never get to. Now that's some optimism for you.. . .

Friday, August 22, 2008

Put a Fork in Me

"I'm done" has kind of been my mantra for the week.

From having the birth parents bail out on our interview, to being hollered at by my self-entitled, pregnant 17-year old mentee for not going to visit her everyday while she was on a 2-week restriction for enabling a 14-year old pregnant girl to run away, to finding out that my dear grandma is not doing well and is being placed in assisted living, the week has taken a big mental/emotional toll.

In the past, it has been my nature to run, hide and ignore. I think it's from PTSD after my dad died, but that's a whole 'nother post. And I'm kind of tired of the whole hide my head in the sand thing. In dealing with the "situation" that I've been trying to work through for the better part of the past year (how cryptic is that? sorry, not trying to be dramatic, just discreet), I've finally regained some strength that I had long ago. "Door mat" is no longer in my job description.

"Deal with it," was my response to my mentee, but in nicer terms, of course. I will be here to help J, but damned if I'll be a whipping post. If she were in my home and pulled that Aiding and Abetting a Runaway stunt, her dupa would be grounded for way longer than 2 weeks.

At first shaken by our hour long conversation where I was told in detail how I am doing everything "wrong," and then spending the better part of 2 days frustrated at these girls' lack of taking responsibility for one's actions and lack of argument logic, I shrugged my shoulders and accepted that that is just how things are. It does me no good to sit feeling shocked at the continual displays of self-entitlement that run rampant through these girls. Or their addiction to Jerry Springer guest-like behaviors. It's just how things are.

As for the adoption, no news there and I'm all talked out and thought out about it. Running has been my saving grace through this all. Nothing like pounding pavement early in the morning so that I can fall into bed at night, too exhausted to wax philosophic on my life, instead plummeting into a deep sleep within 30 seconds of hitting the mattress.

So I'm trying to do more positive things, honing in on all the good things in my life. Thank God for friends like my friend Becky. I took the kids and hunkered down at her house all day yesterday and loved every minute of it. She helps me regain my mental sanity in more ways than she'll ever know.

And the Mister for encouraging me to try new things. Last weekend the kids and I learned to kayak in his new boat. And we all loved it. So last night I mustered up the courage to join the GB Kayak Club on the Fox River (ewww. . . I know, but I promise I'm not glowing in the dark or growing a 3rd eye. . .at least not one I can see out of yet). A bit nervous because the Fox is 'thick' and I can't see the bottom, so I'm guessing it's pretty deep. Very different from the clear, shallow water at the cottage. So the Mister's boat was not the boat for me this time around, as I was very grateful to use Josh P's wooden kayak, which offered a very stable ride.

Aside from a big case of motion sickness (yes, I am such a weenie, but that's just how I roll), I had a great time.

I'm totally stealing this pic from Josh at GB Regulators. (I'm on the right, holding the black paddle.) Is it stealing if I give him the credit?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Wish I Had Good News To Report

Well, Monday came and went, and our birth parent interview never happened.

To clarify for you non-adopting folks out there, the U.S. government requires that all living birth parents be dragged into the Embassy for a big inquisition, so that the government can determine whether or not the parents gave up their children in a legal manner. 'Cuz they don't think Haiti can figure that one out in the course of their own billion-step adoption process.


Sunday night I thought I'd have to title this post, "Come Hell or High Water," because I thought for certain that if the birth parent interview did NOT happen, it would be due to Tropical Storm Fay.


Our dear orphanage director contacted our birth parents again on Sunday evening, to reiterate the travel plan. Both agreed.

Monday morning comes, and M gets up bright and early for the drive to pick them up. She's there at 8, the agreed upon time. Friends/family of the birth parents say, "Oh yes, they'll be here by 9."

9 comes and goes.

10 comes and goes.

The clock hits 10:30. Still no show.

At that point, the director has no choice but to leave. The appointment time would be well past if they did arrive, and she has a huge orphanage to run and relocate.

I'm over feeling upset. Over feeling frustrated. Right now I just feel saddened by this whole ordeal.

I just want these two beautiful little guys HOME.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mistreated Points of View (It Ain't a Bad Thing!!!)

(I'm reposting this from last week, since the Nester is having a Mistreatment Par-tay!)

Treatments, just not done "perfectly."

Love this idea from The Nester.

When I discovered her blog, I ate it up. Read the whole thing. Love, love, love her ideas on decorating and window mistreatments.

Inspired, I put this together for my master bathroom. The one that sat, untouched (in the decorating sense), from the day we moved in because I had no idea what to do with it.

The floor tile is light blue. My first thought was ewwww. The Mister's first thought on replacing it was ewwww. So we were at a bit of a standstill.

Until I realized that I LOVE the whole blue and brown colorscape. So I decided to start on the bathroom, mistreatment first. I decided on a blue/choco-cream toile that I found at Wal Mart in the clearance bin for a whopping $4.40. The fringe came in at $5.80 at Jo-Ann's with my coupon. I dug the upholstery tacks out of the deep dark recesses of my sewing basket.

To give the rather small window, boxed into a small window with a small ledge more height, I tacked it up to the very tippy top of the space.

See? I even left the ugly old do-hickey that the last owners cranked into the wall so hard I couldn't remove it without taking out significant plaster. So what if it's ugly? You can't see it. The Nester would be so proud!

Then, while I was working on the bathroom, a thought then occurred to me.

Child, I was doing mistreatments long before mistreatments would earn me this supercool blinkie!

Here is the mistreatment in Hatfield's bedroom.

The ribbon is just tacked and glued on for the last 2 feet on the left.

I had run out of steam, and just put it up on the window just to get it up.

And then I left it there.

Technically 'unfinished.'

But yet visually functional.

A mistreatment.

My secret shame burned within me, and I never posted it on my blog.

Because no one ever told me that it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.

Well, my
Pseudo Momma Marla has been whispering things like that in my ear for the past SIX years. But like an obstinate teen, I refused to let it sink in.

No more! I'm ready to move onto my next bigger, bolder mistreatment project: the family room sliding glass doors (note: here there should be that mystery theatre sound: duhn duhn duhn duuuuhhhhhnnnnnnnnn!).

Friday, August 15, 2008

The P Word, as in Happy 3rd Birthday Pona!!

Today is Baby Girl's 3rd Birthday!!! At the risk of sounding so cliche, it really DOES seem like she was born just yesterday. Never have 3 years gone by as quickly as the past 3 have.

Last night we celebrated at our favorite restaurant with Jimmy and Boppa.

Hatfield and her friend Elizabeth worked very hard on creating magnificent party hats.

Jimmy demonstrated the proper procedure for a true Princess Wave.

The girls all enjoyed donning these pretty party favors.

The guys were game, but found they felt most masculine with 'the looks.'

WalMart worked really hard on the caterpillar cupcake cake since Mommy was tired and not feeling the hottest.

Juan fed his favorite Chamorrita some delicious fried ice cream.

Then in true 5 Frozen Chamorro Style, we celebrated the morning with our traditional Birthday Cake and Ice Cream Breakfast. Daddy saved the day by bringing the cake, although Hatfield was quick to point out his fatal error.

Methinks that if he were the one who had given birth to that 9+pound bowling ball, that error never would have occurred.

Even after being woken up at 6 am by Paloma singing "Happy Birthday to Pona!" Atticus was still a-smilin'.

The "P" Word-- Post 2

"P" is for "Potty-Trained."

Yes, indeed, Miss Paloma is potty-trained, and I take no credit.

I call it "Anti-Training," as in Mama sat around eating bon bons until Paloma decided for herself that she was ready. Sunday evening I brought home a new box of diapers. Paloma spied the baby on the box. "Is dat for babies?" she asked suspiciously.

"Oh yes," I replied. "Diapers are for babies. Big girls wear undies."

"Pona Cooz is a big girl," she said, looking serious.

And the girl meant business. Paloma decided she was potty trained, and now she is. No tears (from either of us), no fights, no coercing, no work. Granted, she waited until she was nearly 3, but I gladly bought diapers for a few extra months instead of making both of us miserable trying to potty train a kid who was not intersted.

Thus far, not a single accident to report (although I don't expect that record to hold).

I just love that letter P!

The "P" Word--Post 1

"P" is the letter of the day, for 3 very good reasons.


"P" is for PASSPORTS!!!!

The boys' passports are in the building. The orphanage, that is. In Marie's hands.

And not only do we have passports, the boys will be going for their Visa medical "very, very early" tomorrow morning.

Whoooohoooo!!! Two of the last four steps, nearly completed.

One HUGE collective sigh of relief going on here.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Mister's Worst Nightmare

This arrived in the mail today:

What the Mister didn't see was the "Secretly Hypnotize Your Spouse into a Vegan Lifestyle" video that arrived the day before.

Home Improvement

Taking pre-placement "nesting" to the next level of psychosis.

Rooms to Paint: 3
Furniture to Refinish: 7
Floors to Install: 2
Sinks to Replace: 2
Rooms to Gut and Reorganize: 2
Flowers/Plants to Place: Innumerable
Cabinets to Refinish: 2
Fences to Install: 2
Houses to Paint: 1
Organs to Sell: 1*

*I don't mean human organs, although looking over everything I will probably need to sell one in order to finance this list. I mean I have an actual musical organ to sell, a Baldwin Overture, to be exact. Mint condition, I just feel like I'm living in a funeral parlor while on acid every time the kids plunk around on it.

Any takers????

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Why is it that I can wander around nurseries for hours, perusing flowers, oohing and aahing, but walk away empty handed, time and time again, yet when I go to someone's home, see these floral beauties in a natural setting, I can then instantly transform my own yard in my mind's eye?

I guess I'm sort of creatively/visually challenged in that way. But with friends like mine, who the heck cares?

Last weekend I was treated to a tour of my friend Becky's gardens. Gorgeous doesn't quite describe them. Having only lived in the house about 6 years, and when they moved in the backyard was a field of mud, the botanical transformations Becky has performed are nothing short of amazing. Epic. Breathtaking. She possesses a gift I'd give my eyeteeth to have.

(Someday I'll post about her interior decorating and the billions of things that I would love to copy from her house, and maybe even include photos if she'll let me :), but for now, I'll stick to the outside.)

So we were walking around the house, when what to my wandering eyes should appear?

A daylily straight of my dreams.

A sweet dark chocolate day lily.

Have you ever seen anything so gorgeous in your life? Looking at it, I can smell the cacao. I can taste the smooth velvety chocolate.


And at that moment I knew that I simply must have that daylily.

Becky, I promise that by that last statement, I will not be showing up at your house in the middle of the night, dressed head to toe in black, donning my garden shovel.

The reason I am absolutely ga-ga over this flower is that it is so regal and formal, yet delicate and beautiful. We live in a French Mansard-style colonial. Built in the 1970s, it's a little too 70's for my taste, but I have big plans to get rid of any trace of the 1970's. Like painting the orangish-reddish-brownish brick a delicious creamy taupe-y color (Hey Mister, if you're reading this. . guess what? We're going to paint the brick a delicious creamy taupe-y color!). And then I'm going to let some English ivy grow over the bricks in a few areas.

Last year we dug up all the overgrown box hedges and two large cone hedges (which I called "The Big Boobs" because that's exactly what they looked like!), and replaced it all with a calmer, more formal looking landscape. Very green, with a dash of a purple plum bush and a weeping snow cherry tree. Lots of hostas and mountain boxwood hedges. I didn't want to go overboard with any color splash.

But lately I've been craving color. Yet I had no idea what to do. Until I saw those yummy choco-o-lily-licious plants. And I found a few more to my liking. . .

Wow. This whole post is making feel like such a grownup. Almost too much like a grownup. I think I'm going to eat a big bowl of Lucky Charms now, before I can feel my crow's feet deepen.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Good Day

Now, before I blog about my darn good day and risk you all rolling your eyes at my isn't-life-perfect-and-glowing ramblings, I would like to preface it by stating that last week was a week from H-E-DoubleHockeySticks (so I was owed one!)

Even the things that I thought were good, actually weren't all that good. Like being informed that our birth parent interview was scheduled on a "bad day" and likely wouldn't happen--that was a great moment.

And the bad things were just bad. Like the Mister forgetting to water all my flowers while we were gone during this dryspell (or was it me who forgot to tell him to water the flowers? Oops!)

And the fact that I *somehow* lost track of a $650 check in my "fool proof" online checking. This alone kills me as I typically keep track of our spending in a somewhat obsessive manner. Lately I feel like I jump from thing to thing, with never a moment to let things really sink in so that I remember them. Like $650. Ouch.

And my clothes dryer now makes a horrendous sound, as if someone dropped a handful of spare change, loose bolts and thumbtacks in the back by the motor. I dare not use it, for fear of an explosion and/or implosion and/or spontaneous combustion. Line drying the billion loads of laundry we do each week is a bear.

Or that Paloma's constant tantrums, averaging an eardrum-piercing 30 minutes a pop, had my ever-so-patient nerves so rattled by Wednesday that I spent the rest of the week freaking out that: 1) something was truly wrong with this child; 2) something was truly wrong with me; and 3) the absolute scariest-- I would never be able to handle both her tantrums and the typical post-adoption raging common to newly adopted children (x 2, since we're adopting two little guys), thus condemning all 7 of us to a life of misery and defeat.

So, after all of that, I am so pleased, relieved and grateful that I had a day like today.

We woke up to a *brisk* morning (I'd say the "c" word (c-old), but it's August and I can't bring myself to it), so Cliff built a fire in our firepit. The kids got to sit around a fire, eating scrambled eggs and bacon, saying that this was the coolest breakfast they ever had.

While the Mister and I packed up the vans, the kids delighted in finding adorable teeny tiny tree frogs everywhere. I'm not an amphibians sorta gal, but these fellas were Cute with a capital "C". Atticus, enamored with the first one he found, bestowed him with name "Kelly" after the lake, and is planning on all the fun he and Kelly will have when we get to the Lake next weekend.

The kids spotted an insect skin stuck, in perfect form, to a tree, shed by some creepy crawly (judging from the shape) creature. I didn't have my camera, so the kids took the time to draw it, so that we could look up the bug.

We returned home to a BOUNTY of garden fare. The first few red tomatoes, along with the great promise of those beginning to blush; huge red beets, all ready for juicing; a plethora of sweet peas; yellow Hungarian wax peppers, green bell peppers, jalapeno peppers; bread-n-butter corn; the last of the green and yellow wax beans and sweet raspberries, and the first of the carrots.

The kids picked, plucked, dug, and sampled their way through the two garden beds. I watched, instructed, photographed, all the while thinking, it doesn't get better than this.

But aha! It did, as we returned indoors to start supper when lo and behold, Paloma announced, "I have to potty, Mama. Where's the big potty?"

And she did.

We made it through bath, book and bed time tantrum free.

Rough days can certainly add up, resulting in feelings of defeat which loom large. Thank God for days like today, which can erase those trying moments, refill our patience tank, and create memories which further cement our family bonds.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Up, Up and Away

The morning has brought about the last minute, mad-dash flurry of packing, as the children and I are off for a 4 day Up North holiday. I, of course, am avoiding all packing responsibilities for the moment, hiding out in the basement, delighting in my cup of vanilla caramel coffee and perusing my favorite blog roll. The children are begging this Mama to bring Wanda the Wonder Dog, and nearly enough coffee is coursing through my veins to actually convince me that IT COULD BE FUN to take a hyper Border Collie, along with a tantrum-prone 2 year old, a non-stop talking, violin-toting 6 year old, and a 10-year old who loves nothing more than to convince her family to play 5-hour long games of Littlest Pet Shop Monopoly.

The Mister will join us later, after his work week, provided that he first doesn't drown while out kayaking is his not-yet-up-to-safety-standards kayak since the ordered supplies have not yet arrived. Drowning would be tragic, as would his mood if he were to sink the kayak and yet somehow survive himself.

God willing, I will post a triumphant survival note later this weekend. Plus I have some photos of my new window mistreatments to post, and you know what that means: I get to have the nester's Mistreatment Club flashing bloggy thing on my site! My blog's coolness level will certainly rise with that one, and I can't wait!

Have a good one!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


Finally, a bit of *positive* adoption news to post. . .

We now have our birth parent interviews scheduled for August 18th. Thank the Lord for small favors!

We're crossing our fingers that we'll have passports and medicals completed by the 18th, and that our documents are in order and translated as needed. If ALL those things happen, then the entire file will be transferred over to the U.S. Consulate after the interviews are complete, and the file will go for visa review.

I'm just so happy to have some forward movement. . hallejulah!


I love my house; I really do. My only beef is that I find it VERY hard to decorate a 1970's French mansard/American colonial hybrid (just writing that sounds like fingernails on a chalk board, but it's not that bad).

My last two homes were 1920 bungalows. The last of the two had a gorgeous built-in dining buffet, stained glass windows, original wall lantern sconces, and a sunroom. Very easy to have fun with, as the house oozed charm without really doing anything.

This house is certainly more of a challenge. We're blessed in that the previous owners replaced the carpet and upgraded the kitchen cabinets. The bedrooms all have huge windows with window seats. The outside landscaping, particularly in the backyard, is fabulous, but the rest of the house's interior just has the generic 1970's feel.

A short while after we moved in, I redecorated the formal living room. When we bought the house, the living room had been painted a light shiny, icy pink. Yes, shiny icy pink in a formal living room. With beige carpet. Topped only by the family room that was painted the EXACT color of those squishy orange Circus Elephant Peanut candies.

Oh, that racist English couple who owned the house before us were winners.

Anyway, I digress.

So I redecorated the living room, starting with the paint on the walls. Actually, I bought my sofas first. . .which I love. . . and painted the walls a shade found in the toss pillows.

I finished the whole room and loved it. But something wasn't sitting right.

I realized that the whole room felt too much like a department store. I had sprinkled some antiques with a lot of meaning to me in that room: my father's library desk, my great-grandmother's piano roll cabinet, my childhood piano. Still, it just felt a bit canned to me.

So fast-forward to last week, when on Thursday morning I was out and about grocery shopping SOLO, because dear Jimmy took ALL the kids to the park and Dairy Queen.

As I was driving along, radio blasting ('cuz I could, since I was SOLO!), a local, relatively new consignment store came into view. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the little red Open sign illuminate upon my approach. And a woman was carrying a gorgeous antique red window into the store.

I felt this was a sign from the big man himself that I should enter the premises.

So I did just that. The frame wasn't something I wanted after all. As I enjoyed scouring through the store, not having to worry about my children breaking anything (since it's a 'you break it, you buy it' store), this heavenly fabric jumped into my peripheral vision and I could hear it sing my name:

Oh my. Two antique chairs, one of which is a rocker, were beckoning me to come closer.

I felt all warm and swoony just looking at the gorgeous fabric. The arms and legs need a good refinishing, and the fabric needs cleaning. But all in all, f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s.

"Do you like those?" a voice out of nowhere asked me. "I'll give you both for the price of one," the sales clerk offered.

Oh my. $21 FOR BOTH!!!!

Can you say, SOLD?

I had originally intended to place at least one of the chairs in my family room, to brighten it up, give it some color. Alas, the chairs are a bit too formal and it would require me painting my fireplace (which I fully intend to do, just not right now).

So the chairs ended up in my living room. After I spent 3 hours and 2 herniated spinal discs rearranging the furniture.

And I LOVE it!

The photo quality isn't the greatest here, as the whole room looks like it is tobacco-stained, but I think that was the light reflecting against the champagne gold walls.

I placed the second chair next to the piano. I leaned my grandfather's briefcase up against the chair.

I just love the warm feeling I get when I see the briefcase. Like my grandfather stopped by on his way home from work, for a visit and a cocktail.

Slowly, I'm turning the room into my own.

Monday, August 04, 2008

"Chore" is NOT a dirty word

We have 6 days to go until our "official" 2008-2009 school year begins, and in preparation I reinstated and developed new morning/evening routine and daily chore charts for the children.

(Morning Routine Chart)

(Evening Routine Chart)

(We also have daily AM and PM chores, like kitchen duty, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, etc., but I didn't get a photo of it).

I am a big believer in chores. My kids definitely do more chores than other kids we know, although I would hardly say we are pushing child labor laws. In discussions with other parents, I am continually amazed by what little value others see in chores.

Here are some reasons why I think chores are valuable:

-Chores teach personal responsibility.

-Through chores, children begin to recognize the amount of work it takes to run a household.

-Chores create a "team work" mentality among family members, thus drawing us closer.

-They help keep the house clean and orderly.

-Housework and personal care tasks will be nothing out of the ordinary to my children when they are young adults.

-Teaching kids "work before play" helps them avoid the vice of procrastination in their adulthood.

-"Idle hands do the devil's work." If you don't believe this, think about how much more your kids fight with each other when they are "bored." An instant correction to sibling fights in our house is household projects (aka 'chores'). I don't make it sound like a punishment; I remain upbeat and excited, and that attitude typically spreads. "A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down."

-Enforces the concept of taking pride in one's work, no matter how menial or dirty the task.

Recently I was read the Riot Act for my children's chores while at a parent meeting. The subject of chores came up, and a friend of mine was very quick to point out at "how many" chores my kids do: "They even have to do their own laundry!" she emphatically stated.

Now, this is coming from a women whose children do nothing around the house. And in my opinion, they are not particularly well-behaved children and their house is incredibly chaotic. So I wasn't too devastated over her shocked opinion on the matter (it actually gives me great peace of mind in the fact that I'm doing at least something right.)

However, I was floored when the other women (I'm sure some fathers share these opinions as well, there just happened to be none there), began bashing kids doing their own laundry. "I think we need to let kids just be kids. Give them a childhood," they said.

I whole-heartedly agree with that statement. Let kids be kids! That's why I don't have cable; I refuse to buy them I-pods and cell phones and personal computers;I avoid the early childhood exposure to sexuality that is running rampant in our pop culture; I make my kids play outside; I don't care if they make an arts-and-crafts mess in the kitchen, etc. But yet being responsible for one's OWN laundry ONE DAY A WEEK is somehow stealing away their childhood?!? Good grief!

Chores are part of the whole childhood-to-adulthood bargain. How else do they grow up into responsible adults?

I remember those kids in college who came from homes where they didn't have to lift a finger. Laundry was an unnecessary burden to them; sheets didn't get washed for months; having to participate in a Common Area Clean Up was a violation of their human rights.


I sometimes hear women comment that they don't let their children clean their rooms, make their beds, etc. because they don't "do it right." If they don't "do it right" in college, are you going to show up at their dorm room each morning and make their beds (because they'll probably expect you to!) Why let your desire for catalog-perfect rooms develop a child's internal monologue to say, "Why bother trying, I'll never do it right. Let Mom do it." These parents need to get over themselves! They only have these children a precious 18 years. They should take comfort that they can have the rest of their empty nest years to delight in perfectly made beds.

I also hear the argument that it takes too much work to assign chores, or they are home so little they hate to make their kids do things around the house. How about assigning a chore list that never changes, so that the kids know what is expected of them week after week. And if you are home so little that your kids don't have time to take care of the basic necessities of household life, than maybe the schedule needs to be re-evaluated.

Anyway, I could go on and on, but for now I'll jump of my soapbox. This morning when I gave Atticus his morning and evening chore routines, placed in a plastic sheet cover, his excitement was tangible because he now has some "big kid" jobs. Pride radiated from his little face as he used his new erasable marker to cross out each job as he finished. Call me a chore Nazi or whatever you will, one look at my little boy's face tells me that being given the responsibility of a chore is not a bad thing at all.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Great Corn Cob War

2008 Tally to Date:

Sarah: ONE
Squirrels: A BIG FAT ZIPP-O

For those of you unfamiliar, you can click HERE to find out just what those beady-eyed, rat-faced squirrel bastards did to my corn last year.

This year though. . . bwwaaahahahahahah!!! Complete Victory is MINE!!!

I am so FLIPPIN' HAPPY that I DON'T EVEN CARE that I'm photographed in my ratty, stretched-out and faded swimsuit (that's pretty darn happy, 'cuz under normal, not-high-on-my-victory circumstances, I would never publish these.)

Rows of Chubby Checkers Corn, slowly ripening for the picking!

(If I was a SUPER COOL blogger, I would have Queen's We are the Champions playing in the background. Alas, I am only just cool enough to beat squirrels at their own game.)