Saturday, December 31, 2011

Secret Santa Magic

In our home, Santa brings each child three gifts.

Ask any of my children why, and they'll invite you to put your feet up awhile they pour you a glass of our red-and-green Kool-Aid : "If it's good enough for Baby Jesus, it's good enough for us."

(On occasion when we are asked why other kids get more than 3 gifts from Santa, we simply reply: Parental Subsidies. We don't subsidize Santa; we subsidize dance. It leaves them stumped, yet mystically satisfied.)

I (Mama) give an ornament to each child every year, so that when they are grown, they'll have a collection of ornaments from their childhood.

And, in an effort to promote sibling bonding (and don't knock it, this works BIG time, especially when some of your children's primary love language is gifts), we have a Sibling Secret Santa Exchange. Hatfield organizes a name drawing, and then each child gets a special shopping trip out with Mom to purchase a gift for their assigned sibling.

This year, Paloma's MOST FAVORITEST GIFT EVAH was from her Secret Santa, Hatfield.
A pair of Fashion Eye Glasses (non-prescription.)

If you were to happen upon our home on any given day to see what the Mister and I wear, you will wonder just where-oh-where does Paloma get her Fashionista Passion.

I assure you, it is from neither of her parents.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Gift that Can't be Wrapped

My Christmas gift from the Mister this year didn't come in a shape or form that could be plunked into a box and wrapped up with a bow.

Instead, he gifted me with the ability to say good-bye to a very important part of my life, in for form of two weeks of vacation time off from work, and sandwiched between two- 24 hour car rides with five kids and a papillon.
Which probably sounds like he wrapped up Hell and slapped a bow on it.

But it wasn't. Not by a long shot.

My grandparents built a home on Sanibel Island, Florida (off of Ft. Myers, in the Gulf) right around the time I was born.

When I was going up, every family winter vacation took us to Sanibel. I have so many memories of my grandparents (now elderly), my father (now deceased), and my childhood, in the house.

Yet, my grandparents are aging and no longer able to travel to Sanibel. The house and island are pricey, so it's no longer practical to keep the house.

My folks went down there for the month of November to work on the house-- paint, repair, pack.

Basically, they have the terribly difficult and bittersweet job of dismantling a world.

My mother begged us to come down, to give them a reprieve from the weeks of sadness. For the Mister (and boys) to help Boppa with some of the heavy lifting jobs that he couldn't do on his own (carpet removal, anyone?)

So, halfway through November, we packed it up and headed South.

Being there this year, without my grandparents' presence, was terrible in and of itself. It was not the same, and something was just very much missing.

But that hurt was covered by the joy I felt in watching my children swimming in the pool, playing on the family room floor, running down the beach.
Watching my parents and my aunt and uncle watch my children, seeing how much they loved all the crazy life my kids breathed into that place, was wondrous. "It is soooo good to see the house be used the way it was intended to be used," my aunt commented on Thanksgiving night, watching the kids take a post-Turkey swim.

I spent a huge part of my time on Sanibel one breath away from choking up with tears---seeing the beach for the last time, being in the house for the last time, driving away for the last time.

But it was worth it.

So thank you, Mister, for "forcing" me to agree to this trip. It was priceless.

And as bittersweet it was to leave, what a gift my grandparents gave all of us--over three decades of family memories.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Demolishing the Fortress of Coping Mechanisms, Brick by Measly Brick

Clearly, attempting the 12 days of Christmas was overly ambitious on my part.

This month has flown by. The entire second half of the year has, really, as the calendar in my mind shows July 2011.

Where did Summer and Fall go?

Our holidays were nice this year, truly. The past two weeks have been a blur of baking, knitting (seriously, if you ever find me attempting to knit Christmas presents the week before Christmas, for the love of all things holy, stage an intervention and take my needles away), watching Christmas movies, preparing presents, etc.

My mom and I took the kids up to visit my grandparents, who are somewhat housebound in their home on a lake in very Northern Wisconsin (i.e., the middle of nowhere.) We brought up pictures and the keyboard and violins, and had a little Christmas recital for them.

The kids have been fighting off the flu/headcolds all week. I knew my turn was coming, but somehow I literally forced my way through it until 6 p.m. Christmas Day. Within 5 minutes of the last guest leaving, my sinuses blew up, my tonsils caught fire and my lymph nodes swelled into shooter marbles.

Fortunately (or not, depending on your reference point), the Mister's industry takes the week between Christmas and New Year's off. Meaning he has been on Mr. Mom duty ever since I took to bed. I'm on Day 2 in bed, resting so I can be up and about for Knitty Knight tonight.

My Haitian Sensations have been holding it all together remarkably well, given the buzz about the holidays. In fact, now that I think about it, they did great, and I'm really proud of them.

While at times I feel like we're treading water, when I look at the Yearly Big Picture, the amount of growth is amazing.

Slowly, but surely, Keenan is beginning to recognize, acknowledge and process emotions. This is huge. H-U-G-E. It is neither an easy nor pretty process, but it's so important that it happens. Testing shows he's at the emotional development of a 24-30 month old, but that's okay.

For the first 2 years he was home, he had nearly zero emotional development. The child was stuck in a Fortress of Coping Mechanisms.

In many ways, he still is, as he retreats to that Fortress often. He is completely uncomfortable and often unwilling to accept any feelings of discomfort, dislike, and displeasure. Sometimes I get confused thinking this is an entitlement issue, but really, I think it is an inability-to-process-emotions issue.

This is a constant push-pull dance that we have with homeschool. Keenan does not like doing math work. He is super stinking smart in math, and can do all the work, but he doesn't like it. It's not fun. Why do math when you can play with toys and feel good.

So, instant retreat into "I don't know what a 4 is," or "I don't know what a pencil is." Anything to try and block those feelings of not liking something.

I work hard at pulling/coaxing him out of it. When I'm "on," I can remain perky and try to pull/coax him with positivity and rewards. It takes tremendous energy/effort to do this, because most days I just want to roll my eyes and say, "Too bad! No one has ever died from doing math! Deal with it!"

(Although I don't say that, because I'm pretty sure that doing so would tempt fate into making me the First Homeschool Mom who Died from Math. And that, to steal a phrase from Paloma, would be a Bad Bummah.)

On days when I can't muster it, or when the situation becomes so imbalanced that I must give focus/energy to the others and not allow Keenan to suck all the oxygen out of the room, then I move to an (ideally) empathetic and (hopefully) calm manner of: "You are welcome to play/go outside/call a friend to play as soon as you are done with math. School is every child's job, including yours."

I call that the Empathetic-yet-Practical Boredom Approach to Math.

Somedays he can pull through and get it done; others he will sulk and refuse to do it, choosing to spend an afternoon pretending he doesn't know how to add 1 + 2.

Those times are tough. It often seems like he literally wants to be forced into doing his math, whether it is me encouraging him or me warning him that if he doesn't want Mama's Homeschool, he can do Daddy's Homeschool after dinner. Either way doesn't matter to him; it is just that he wants someone else to force him into it. As if he is somehow forced into doing it, then it's not really him doing it.

Does that make any sense?

I don't quite get that yet.

But, the larger picture is that he can't live in a bubble, nor can he expect/demand/force other people to let him live in that Happy La-La Land (which was the main trouble with public school, as he is very cute and very charming and he knew exactly what to do to get out of work.)

So, I'm trying to turn something unbearable for him into something bearable. To try and teach him: there's always going to be something we don't like, but we have to push through and get the work done. And you know what? That sense of accomplishment from doing something we don't want to do but do anyway? That feels really good.

So far, he's not really buying into that.

At times I want to say: Holy hell, kid, you'll be doing math every day for the next 11 years! Do you really want to make yourself miserable every day for the next 11 years?

But honestly, that thought makes me really nauseated.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

On the Second Day of Christmas

On the Second Day of Christmas,
My True Love Gave to Me:

Two Singing Friends

Paloma taught her bff Audra the song she sings daily to Buddy, our "Elf on a Shelf", all in hopes of getting him to talk to them.

Good luck with that, girls. ;)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

On the First Day of Christmas

On the First Day of Christmas,
my True Love gave to me:



Our First Teenage Daughter


I still feel flummoxed at the notion that my very first baby girl is a teenager. I can recall every tiny detail about her birth and bringing her home from the hospital. I feel nearly panicked at the thought that in another year and a half, she'll be off to high school. If 13 years went by in a blink of an eye, how quickly will those final four years at home seem?

The Mister and myself and our entire family are beyond blessed to have Hatfield in our lives.

Here is the song Hatfield and I listened to over and over (and over) again all summer. I will never not hear this song and think of my girl. It's a great one to start off the morning, so crank it up and dance about wherever you are.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Day of Rest


For years now, the weekends have been my "big chance" to catch up and get all the things done each week that I hadn't gotten done earlier in the week. This especially became true once we began our homeschooling lifestyle. Then, I found all that time I had once had to do things like vacuum, clean, organize, and decorate, suddenly evaporate, taken over by the necessity of juggling math lessons, history readings, and science projects.

We brought more children into our family, the kids grew older and activities were added into the mix, and suddenly, the weekends became a time to stress out, trying to shove 50 hours of duties into a 48-hour span.

A few months back, I realized that I was burning the candle on both ends. I never seemed to have time to relax and just enjoy life without worrying about all I have to do. I found myself trapped in the cycle of thinking: Oh, I'll be able to veg/knit/relax for a while as soon as I get the ironing/mopping/shopping/planning done.

News flash for myself: the ironing/mopping/shopping/planning would never be done. It's like painting the Golden Gate bridge. As soon as I'm done, I have to start all over again.

So, I have now claimed Sundays to be a day of rest for me. God really got that one right, and shame on me for being such a self-asborbed, bone-headed martyr for me to miss out on it for all these years.

I have friends who are Adventists, and they take their day of rest very seriously, to the point of having lists of approved and unapproved activities.

My list isn't legalistic in a biblical/Christian sense. I just more or less took some time to think about what fills my tank and what things deplete me into an exhausted stupor.

Things I'm okay with doing on my day of rest:

* Taking a walk/bike ride/ run if the goal is to make me feel re-energized, or to give me time away from the house. I love to explore the larger neighborhood, looking at landscaping or exterior color design on houses.

* Baking/cooking if it is not done to make the week easier, but instead out of a craving/intense desire and liking of the food.

* Reading a good book

* Knitting

* Enjoying yard or garden work, as long as there is no set work goal in mind

* Napping

Things that are not allowed and which I gave my husband permission to look me in my bedroom and throw away the key if he catches me being a numbskull:

* Preparations for the week. While it makes me feel more organized in the end, the actual process stresses me out. I have 6 days each week when I can plan and prepare. No one--least of all, me-- is going to die if I skip out on this one day.

* Cooking for the week.

* Exercising to achieve a goal or keep a schedule.

* Reading parenting books.

* Cleaning (except the Dyson. I allow myself the luxury of vacuuming if I am going to sit on the couch and knit, because I don't want a ton of dog hair in my knitting.)

* Ironing or laundry.

I am amazed by how much just one day of doing nothing each week improves my mental and emotional health. And I have found that I get more done in 6 days/1 day of rest than I did in 7 days of feeling tired and sluggish.

The past 3 Sundays consisted of cross-country roadtrips and our dance school's Holiday Performance at a local theater, so my self-prescribed Day of Rest was missed. As such, I awoke on this Sunday morning, feeling panicky and off-kilter about all that needs to be done.

But then I took a deep breath and reminded myself: it can wait.

So, I spent the morning reading in bed, with kids coming in and out to cuddle, look at books, show me their newest lego creation, etc. The Mister is whipping up batches of bagels and English Muffins (because, yes, I somehow managed to score a husband whose biggest stress buster is baking!) and the house smells of a doughy-heaven. It's sunny out and a very warm 38 degrees (I'm not being facetious here. 38 degrees right now feels awesome.) and this afternoon I'm going to take a walk and look at Christmas decorations. And then I'm going to whip up a big batch of my dad's chili (because I want to), open up a cold beer, and watch my 12-0 Green Bay Packers whip some Raider ass with my little boys.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Reindeer Games

My kids were shocked to come home and find that not only does Santa has some new reindeer this year, their front hall photos were swapped out with reindeer photos. Please meet:

Deerfield

and

Deerloma,
Mildeer,



Keendeer,

and
Deericus.
File under: Fun and Free Holiday Decorating that You Don't Have to Drag Up from the Basement.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A little bit of nothing interesting


With the exception of the first garbage bag in the foreground holding bed pillows, the rest of these suckers are stuffed to the gills with the girls' stuffed animals.

I still find myself chuckling because I gave the Mister the assignment of bagging up the toys while I was treating the girls.

"Oh my God!" he'd yell. "You have GOT to be kidding me."

At first I ran in horrified, fearful that he might have found a cooties' nest (no worries, they don't exist--just my overaction imagination). Nope. Not the case. He just couldn't believe the amount of stuffed animals two little girls can have.

"Why don't you two set some aside to be thrown out? You'd still have enough for a small army." he suggest to the two girls.

Paloma immediately began wailing.
Hattie teared up, lower lip trembling.
Daddy caved. Big Time. He went back to bagging stuffed game without a word.

Bagged up and waiting to be run through the dryer once I feel we have this whole cooties thing under control. Rid or whatever the heck chemical concoction did jack squat. I'm having the best luck with having us sleep in coconut oil/olive oil saturated hair, plastic wrapped umpteen times and kept toasty hot in a hat. Followed by a morning wash with blue Dawn dish soap and a good long white vinegar rinse.

The oils kill the adults/nymphs; the vinegar unglues the eggs (nits.) Gagging at what was coming off our heads those first few times, this morning I was hard-pressed to find anything on Po's head.

Thank. God.

Next week we leave for Florida through the end of the month. We've always said that one of the reasons we homeschool is so that we could travel during the year without worrying about missing school issues. Have homeschool; will travel. As such, the weekend will be full of packing, trip planning (we're driving), and last minutes stuff around the house. We had our first snow this week, and the cold floors in the morning are killing me. A few weeks at the beach sound mighty nice about now. . .


Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Brain Drain


I'm suffering an acute case of homeschool-induced Brain Drain.

The honeymoon has officially dissipated, more often than not each day consists of a whole lot of math amnesia, letter unrecognition, and the occasional bout of "I don't know what a pencil is"-itis.

Sigh.

Over the past year particularly, I've tried hard to learn how to avoid falling into the black pit of control battles on our home turf.

Adding a second dimension of "school turf" onto home turf = a new battleground of control issues.

Sadly, last week I hit a wall-- a big, thick, brick wall-- and by Thursday morning I had lost it.

I locked myself in my bathroom and called the Mister. "Tomorrow morning at 7:45 you are marching the two boys over to the neighborhood elementary school and enrolling them!" I ... emoted.

"Uh, no, I'm not. I need to be out of the house by 7:30 tomorrow morning. Probably best to wait until we're home from Florida at the end of the month."

At that point I may, or may not, have dropped a big ol' F bomb.
And then my phone may, or may not, have lost reception.

Poor Mister. It's not easy being my husband at times, particularly on those days when the children turn into emotional vampires sucking the lifejuice out of me.

And you know what? The Mister was still home Friday morning at9:30, still trying to fix some work crisis that a coworker was having. Ooooo boy, I was not happy. Those kids could have been in school for nearly 2 hours by then!!!

But wanna know how he survived, with all genitals intact? It's a doozy....

Lice.

Around 10 am I discovered a lice outbreak in the girls and myself. So on Friday by 1:00 pm, I completely had forgotten that he left me high and dry, distraught and abandoned and still homeschooling 5 children completely against my will, because I was solely focused-- panicked, really-- on eradicating a boatload of unwelcome, itchy crawly houseguests.

How the heck do people get rid of head lice without going insane, burning out their washing machine, and in under a month? Because do you know how much hair my daughter Hatfield has?

Ask Essie. She'll tell you. Hatfield has an ENORMOUS amount of hair. It took the Mister and myself--together-- 3 hours to go through her hair with those little picky combs.

Ugh.

But that's how the Mister got off the hook last Friday.

However, now that I think of it, my Top Three Coping Mechanisms are, in no particular order: Knitting (with wine); Trashy cable series (with wine); and a lot of sex (with wine.)

2 out of 3 of those happen to make the Mister REALLY happy.

Maybe it's behooving him too much when I'm highly emotionally stressed? Am I sensing a conflict of interest here?!? I'm starting to imagine him thinking up ways to make me wanna run for the hills. . .or the tv . . . .or our bed.

Crap, I bet we have some negative Pavlovian response thing going on here.

But back to the boys, no, I'm not enrolling them in school, as tempting as it might be.

Because crazy or not, I'm in this homeschool biz for the long haul. I love homeschooling, and most of the kids do too. I'm hopeful that someday my boys will as well.

Especially while they are little, I want to keep them at home to avoid exposure to negative stereotypes. I mean, do you know how hard it is to be a black boy in a Green Bay public school?

Pretty hard.

Now, imagine being the angry black boy in your class. Or the black boy who thinks it is cute and funny to pretend he only knows 6 letters after a year of school.

How could going to an environment where they are given endless opportunities to manipulate and control each day be good for them?

I don't think it would be.

At some point, however, I recognize that the benefits of homeschooling them could be outweighed by collateral damage inflicted upon the homeschool environment itself (because there are 3 other kids.) But for now, with the exception of Thursday when I completely lost my mind, I feel like I have a good grasp on that.

And if I don't, I at least have ways to cope (although tread carefully, Mister, because they are apt to change ;)



Monday, October 31, 2011

When stubborn determination pays off

About a month or so back in September, I blogged about some MAJOR I-didn't-buy remorse I had after seeing the most perfect wrap ever during the Stitches Midwest Convention.

After reviewing dozens of vendor's websites and emailing a handful of them, I did indeed find the vendor offering the pattern/yarn for the wrap, and within a week I had it in my hot little hands.

Hours spent knitting my little heart out in airplanes, on Granny's couch in Seattle, in the car on my and the Mister's weekend getaway, 4 Knitty Tuesdays, and nearly every evening on my couch in between, and voila! My wrap is finished!

And I am In. Love. With It.



The colorway consists of 8 colors, wool-silk blend, knit two at a time in a grading color scheme, all in the linen stitch.


I am so pleased with the turnout that I'm even willing to break my own rule and post a picture of me taking a picture of myself, in a mirror, in my wrap.

I don't know why, but taking pictures of myself in a mirror makes me feel like a huge a$$hole. BUT, it's a burden I'm gladly willing to bear when it's taken in the name of determined knitting.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Worth every minute

Coming off of two weeks of back-to-back, away-from-the-kids vacations, last week was a doozy.

Predictably so, but a doozy, nonetheless.

And just because you can predict, sister, doesn't make it any easier. I bet I get a few Amen's with that statement.

After a long week of flat-out disobedience, errant p*ea, sneakiness and crazy-ass lies, we've regained our foothold on our very own special flavor of Normal Life.

Chores, School, Play/Family Fun, Meal. Rinse and Repeat.

My Haitian Sensations thrive best with a simple, predicable routine. Even the whole "you can't play until you finish your math sheet," can upset them to such an extent that they'll stall on a simple, easy-peasy 5-problem sheet, angry that they are missing playtime (so often they're angry before anyone has finished and when playtime hasn't even started), yet not able to move forward in that if they just do the darn sheet, they'll get to play immediately thereafter.

These constant struggle with natural consequences are a daily occurrence in our home. I'm getting better with handling it. It's just where they are, and the struggle is likely one we'll be dealing with for years.

I walk that tightrope between helping the boys move forward (positive) and getting sucked into a vortex of control issues (negative.) It's a fine line, somedays. I'm learning to simply refuse getting sucked in, and instead of playing control games, I am redirecting all my time and energy towards the kids who aren't stuck at that moment.

Yet, progress, however slow, is being made. What used to be a 3-hour stall-out is slowly weaning down in time. Interestingly enough, they take turns in the Stalling game. One stalled yesterday, the other today.

I'm pretty sure that they must confer or something after Lights Out.

Happily, though, the stall today was only 12 minutes. That's amazing progress, and I'm proud of these little guys. Hey, you take what you can get.

And you know what? No matter what type of homecoming I received, every minute of both vacations were worth it. On principal alone I refuse to succumb to the notion that going away isn't worth it due to payback.

It is. I have earned this time away to recharge. My neuro-typical children have earned this time away to recharge. And the Mister has earned the time away. No excuses, no guilt. Just gratitude that we had these opportunities.

:)

I'm a bit disillusioned as to where summer went, and the beginning of Fall, for that matter. Last weekend the Mister took the boys up to Camp and closed up shop until May '12.

Always a bummer of a time, because closing Camp is pretty much writing "The End" to our Summer. And the ridiculous--and I'm a mother of 5, so when I write ridiculous, I mean RIDICULOUS-- amount of laundry generated by the return of all the bedding, sleeping bags, clothing, etc.

I suppose I could leave it up there until Spring, but I hate the thought of some sneaky vermin getting in there and cozying up for a long winter's nap in a closet. *Shudder*

So, I get all freaky and make the Mister remove every single piece of clothing and paper products, as well as place a fabric softener sheet (to deter mice) on every piece of furniture, air vent, cupboard, and other random nooks and crannies in the trailer.

I purchased a jumbo-sized box of Downy sheets, and he returned home with at least half of them. "You didn't use them all?" I nearly screached.

"I could have covered every square inch of flooring and furniture if I used all of those," he replied.

"SO!?!?!?!?" People who do not have a fear of mice will never, NEVER understand those of us who nearly pass out at the mere mention of them.

While I slaved away in the laundry room, the Mister and Boppa installed these in our garage:
The lockers are from my folk's new house, which used to be owned by a Packer's coach, so it is probable that the lockers could come from one of their training facilities. I bet if I marketed them as such, I could make some money on eBay. Amazing what Packer fans will pay for things, like rusty, used lockers.

Honestly, who would have thought that lockers could make kids so darn happy? I suppose it's a homeschool thing, as my kids have never had lockers of their own.
The girls set to work at decorating their garage lairs. The boys just stuff their belongings in and hope that the door will close.



Saturday, October 22, 2011

Point of View


The Mighty Po is going to be a Unicorn for Halloween.

The Mister, being under Mighty Po's spell, has big plans (aka paper mache) to assist his girl in her endeavor for the perfect home-made unicorn costume.

This is His Idea:

This is Hers:

And Never the Two Shall Meet.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Kids Lie. Including Sweet, Kind and Devout Ones. Really.

There are two types of homeschooling moms who cause me to grind my teeth.

1) The moms who publicly declare: "We take a "real life" approach to math. We tripled a cupcake recipe this afternoon for today's math lesson. And tomorrow we are going to figure out how many $1.69 songs the kids can each by with a $40 iTunes giftcard. Because, you know, when are they ever going to use trig or calculus in real life?"

Seriously, I do not enjoy taking public scrutiny for these people who clearly are failing their children in the area of mathematics. And seriously, I know many people who use advanced math in real life: engineers, chemists, mechanics, etc. . .

I believe in allowing my children to have EVERY education/career option available to them upon turning 18, and that means that I have to provide them with some serious-ass math & science education (which also includes me getting them to the right teachers/schools/etc. if it is something that I myself am not qualified to teach.) And I'm tired of taking guff for the failings of others.

2) "Christian" homeschool moms who think their middle school aged children can do no wrong and would Not Never Ever think of lying or being mean or lying or doing anything other than holy and God-inspired actions.

This story is about the latter.

On Monday morning, I received a phone call from an *upset* Christian homeschool mom. Our daughters belong to our association's Tween Group (ages 11-13). The woman was dramatically upset and explained to me that Hatfield led a group of older children in a "bully charge" against a group of the newer, younger girls. These charges included:

* Using the "L" Word.
(insert her dramatic pause for this to take full effect)

The "L" word? Seriously? I am SO ASHAMED of myself in that I failed to think of a single good "L" word to question her with. If she had said, 'Hatfield used the "c" word," I would have dropped the c word. If she had said the "tw" word, I would have dropped that in questioning her. Same with the "f" word or the "a" word. But the "L" word? I had nothing.

Side story: I told Essie about this and she looked at me said, " Sarah. . .'lesbian.' That would be the L word that would spark fear and shame in the hear of any devout Christian homeschool ignoramus."

Doh! Man! I wish I had Essie's bad-ass, quick-on-her-feet, Dark Art of Snark.

Anyways, the "L" word that so shocked this woman and troubled her daughter to the point where she was now scared of attending future homeschool events was:

Loser.

Yes. Loser. Seriously. But more on that later.

Charge #2: Hatfield pushed a younger girl, pinning her up against a tree, all the while yelling and screaming, necessitating an older "sweetly devout and innocent" (I shit you not, that was the descriptor) girl to have to intervene to prevent Hatfield from hurting her.

My Hatfield? Seriously?

I asked the mom if she spoke to any other parents of the children involved (other than the mother of the sweetly devout and innocent girls), and she said "no." She even badmouthed another woman (who happens to be my friend), saying that the Mom was "aggressive and confrontational" and refused to call her.

Okey dokey.

Now, I'm not about to think my kids can do no wrong. And I was not about to think that Hatfield was innocent of all charges. But I can tell you that unless she was trying to protect another children from an assault or prevent an assault upon herself, the likelihood of Hatfield doing that to a child is pretty much nil.

And here's the thing: If you are going to make up nasty lies about my kid, yeah, you're going to piss me off. Big time.

So we talked to Hatfield about it. She totally admits that she, and everyone else she was with, were calling each other's Losers when one group disrupted the play of another group. But it lasted about a minute, and they all went off onto the next activity and got along as a group for the rest of the evening.

Which, maybe I'm not a good Christian mom, but, eh. If that's the worst thing my kid is involved with, I'll consider myself lucky and will do a cute "I have a decent middle schooler" happy dance.

But, Hatfield became TREMENDOUSLY upset over the accusation that she pushed her friend up against a tree. And screamed/yelled in this girls' face. Or was involved in anything that required a girl to "break it up."

She couldn't figure out why these girls singled her out as the big bully, or why they would make up such things.

So, last night, we saw this family of the said pushed/bullied younger girl. A family that we've been friends with--and our kids have been playmates with--for nearly 5 years.

When we talked about the accusations, their kids laughed. One even suggested that those girls had a "short term memory loss." They defended Hatfield and were upset that someone would even accuse her of such a thing.

So, armed with that information straight outta the horse's mouth, I emailed this mother:

Now, it seems to me that this is a case of kids with differing personality types in a large group setting. I think it's perfectly normal for a group of middle school age kids to struggle while they learn how to get along with different types of people.
Not everyone is going to feel the same way about different people. Some people don't mesh well. For instance, you explained to me that you felt ***** is an aggressive and combative person and therefore you would not call her. I, however, find her to be a completely delightful and charming woman and am puzzled by your callous description of her.
I get the fact that some of these girls probably don't mesh well. However, just because your girls don't care for Hatfield does NOT make it okay for them to make up a vicious rumor about Hatfield.
Making up and spreading lies about someone assaulting another child IS bullying. Hatfield is TREMENDOUSLY hurt and upset that these girls would do such a thing. The other kids we spoke with couldn't believe that such a lie would be told within a Christian group.
If any other families or children were told this lie about my daughter, we expect it to be redressed immediately. Because it is absolutely NOT okay with us that anyone spread a lie about my daughter assaulting another child.
Beyond that, I am done dealing with this issue. I'm sorry that some girls in the group do not care for Hatfield or the way the evening went. But honestly, after taking with other Tweens at the party, and now having to deal with this terrible lie that was stated about my daughter, I can't say that I find credibility in anything that your daughters say or do.

Now, you don't know just HOW BADLY I wanted to end the letter with:

"And you know, I'm not really certain of what types of games your family allows (her daughter was in the group of kids playing Ghosts in the Graveyard; my kid was in the group that messed with their game), but I find it both shocking and shameful that such a pagan-ritualistic game would be played at a CHRISTIAN homeschool event. My sweet, devout girl was incredibly uncomfortable with such a game being played, and maybe your girls didn't mean to make up lies about her but instead was possessed by whatever demonic spirits their heathenistic game conjured up. I propose we know get ALL activities at these gathering pre-approved by the Board so that my innocent girl won't be further subjected to such witchcraft."

just to mess with her and her high-brow, we-are-so-much-holier-than-you-Christian-bullshit-attitude. (We're all about Harry Potter and Halloween and Scary Movies in our house, so don't get the wrong idea there.)

But I didn't.

Of course, within moments of the letter, this woman telephoned me.

And you know what she had the balls to say to me? She said: "Really, this whole thing is about the name calling for my girls. The whole pushing thing was just an afterthought after we talked about the namecalling."

WTF?!?! "No, I'm afraid that the moment your daughters told a lie that Hatfield assaulted another child, then that lie because the WHOLE BIG DEAL thing to our family."

She constantly tried to backtrack on the whole pushing thing. She even went so far as to begin to question whether she may have recalled the pushed child's name incorrectly, until I informed her that she questioned her daughter as to who the "hurt" child was while I listened on the phone.

Met with an uncomfortable pause on her part. I refused to let her back down. She apologized, but just kept on saying, "I can't believe my daughters lied to me."

Well, believe it. Because they're kids. And kids lie. Not because they are inherently evil or hateful. But because it's part of the growing up and learning process.

But you know what the absolute worst was? From this Christian woman, whose own son had to be kicked out of their home due to erratic behavior? Was she said to me: "I know you've all had a lot of . . .changes.. . . in your home lately due to the boys' arrival, and I was wondering, you know, if maybe all that stressed changed Hatfield into a more aggressive person."

The fact that I did not Roar, Hang Up or drop the "F" bomb at that moment in the conversation is a testimony to. . . well, I'm not sure, but something good, right?

Instead, in the iciest voice I could muster was: "Now, really, I'm sure you more than anyone understands that just because a family has one troubled child in it doesn't mean that the sweet nature of our other children are compromised or changed. That would be a terrible thing to insinuate."

Very. Uncomfortable. Pause.

In the end, the woman went on (and on and on) about how she likes it when things are Happy and Friendly and for all the kids to be friends.

I explained that while I expect my daughter to be kind and respectful of all people (and we'll work on that, I assured her), I think it's silly to expect her to be friends with or like everyone.

Because if I make my daughter grow up thinking that she has to like everyone and everyone has to like her, then I am handing her a Life Sentence of Misery.

MISERY.

And I refuse to do that. My wish is for My children, to please be kind. Be respectful. And be wise enough to keep far away from Homeschool Moms who loudly acclaim their pre-teen daughters to be as devout and sweet and kind as Jesus himself. Far, far away. Because they're the worst of all.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Excuses,excuses

Haven't posted in forever,
because I've been too busy
biting
my
tongue.
I'm pretty sure it's close to severing,
but God forbid I take off the pressure
lest I can't stop it from flapping
once
I
do.

Given that this is a public blog
(yeah. . . what a stupid idea that was)
and given that I am trying
very,
very,
VERY
hard to keep quiet when I have nothing nice to say,
I have found just avoiding my blog is
the most surefire tactic to keeping
the
hell
shut
up.
I used to
go to a gym
where I would
Punch
and
Kick
the hell out of a bag.
While repeating different
cathartic
and
profane
mantras in my head.
Repeatedly.
Several times a week.
Now, with 6 weeks of complete shoulder/arm rest,
I have lost that outlet.
I need that outlet, people!

Life would be SO much easier
if God had attached a
Bullshit Meter
to everyone's forehead.
Then we would know
when a pile is being dumped
on us
looonnnnggg before the
smell
hits
us.
I apologize if this is a
tedious
melodramatic
or
cryptic post.
Those suck, I know.

SO,
here are a few tangible things
I promise to post about
soon:

* The Dark Art of Taking the Low Road

* Christian Homeschool Children who. . . gasp. . .lie to their mothers
who have never left the prairie and think that their
precious, innocent angels would never yell or. . .
worse....
say a certain word


* Me Kicking a Lying Christian's Homeschool Mom's A$$
when she falsely accuses my daughter

* A potential podcast involving
knitting
wining
wit
&
creative profanity

So stick around!
PLUS!
There's always the potential
if my therapist cannot help me find a way
to process all this bullshit I've been trying to deal with
I just may go back to the
tried
and
true
method
of blogging it,
fallout be damned.
(But srsly, that would not be the adult way to handle it.)

This Weeks' Theme Song
(because everyone should have a weekly theme song)
is:
Dammit
by
Blink 182

(And srsly, I AM NOT REFERENCING my marriage
by posting this song.
It's just a damn catchy song
and the chorus "I guess this is growing up"
and "I turn to a friend who sees through the Master Plan"
is my theme to help me get through this week
because I'm doing a whole bunch of stuff
that I really
really
really
don't want to deal with.)

Monday, October 03, 2011

Frayed ego

Generally, I like to think of myself as a healthy person.

I eat a primarily vegetarian diet, which doesn't mean that I binge on non-meat options like Doritos and Girl Scout cookies all the live-long day. I truly love veggies and fruit, so I eat a lot of those each week.

I work out multiple times each week. Long, hard, sweaty workouts that get my heart rate soaring and require a shower before I can further venture from my home. Granted, I work out more for my mental health than my physical health, but I'm happy to reap the benefits of both.

I have a high pain tolerance and doctor office's give me the heebie jeebies. Which is why I'm able to ignore an ever increasing pain and crunchiness in my shoulder for, oh, I don't know, a good 3 months.

See where this is headed?

Over time, I have strained/possibly torn tendon in my rotator cuff, responsible for the pain with repetitive motion, along with fraying of some ligament thingy or something, which is causing the crunchiness.

Which equals 6 weeks of complete upper torso rest, and I can't lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk (and even that I should do left-handed.)

I. Am. Ready. to. Scream. And not from the pain. This is a major blow to my personal sense of pride (which I know is totally wrong to have, but whatever) at being a healthy person.

But, you know, a healthy person addresses health issues as they happen. Not ignore them for 3 months.

A lightbulb moment, for certain.

Oh well, at this point, what can I do? I'm thinking a glass of wine would be kinda nice, but the Mister hasn't brought back my script from CVS, and I'm unsure if alcohol will be a no-no.

And while 6 weeks of reduced motion and yucky shots and pt may not be enough to get me to drop the whole personal pride issue, you can be certain that a 6 week wine fast will.











Thursday, September 29, 2011

Haywire

A sign just off the road from the Mister's childhood home. Seriously. I was so tripped out about it that I was going to turn around on the highway and traverse back to take a picture. Only, I didn't have to because there was another. And another. And another. There were FOUR of these signs within a 2 mile stretch. What does that say about your confidence in your penal system, Washington State?!?

I don't travel much, but somehow I am finding myself in a back-to-back trips situation and I'm feeling the stress, sweethearts.

In a few days, Hatfield and I are travelling out to Seattle for a week to see her birth family.

We are staying with Granny and Papa, who are technically her grandparents but who are the kindest and most generous people and who are grandparents to ALL of my children. Granny and Papa have visited over the years, call, send cards, gifts, etc., and Hatfield is ecstatic to be getting in some time to see them.

We will also be seeing some aunts, uncles, and her birthdad and his family.

Hatfield has not seen her birth father since the Mister and I were married back in 2000. We've never been back to Washington since then, and he has never come east to see her in the past 11 years. Years even went by before we'd hear from him via mail, and now he corresponds with Hatfield on her birthday and at Christmas.

But, it seems like the right time to go. He is married now and while I've never met his wife, I find myself truly liking her through our facebook interactions. They have her two girls from a previous marriage, and two boys of their own.

I'm nervous, though, to do this. Hatfield has grown up in a very secure, stable home environment. She is incredibly bonded with the Mister, who adopted her at age 3.

The Mister and I have always been very matter-of-fact about her birthdad; she has one, he lives in Washington and has a family, they are nice people. We've never said a bad word about him.

I'm worried, though, that she'll somehow come home feeling conflicted about her life. Thus far, she has never felt abandoned or wronged by her birthdad and his actions.

By visiting, I'm afraid that we'll be opening up a can of worms. I'm afraid that she's suddenly going to feel pressure that she now somehow has to fit into his life and his family. That she'll feel like she has to fill some void in birth dad's life due to his choices years ago.

We just want her to have a fun trip where she can start putting faces to names. We don't want her to feel the pressure that she suddenly has this 'other family,' because she's not ready for that. Not yet.

We know it's inevitable. At some point in her life, as she ages, she'll look at the entire situation and think, "Why the hell did you never visit? Why the hell couldn't you get your act together when I was a baby?"'

And, we'll be there to help her through that.

Thus, this entire thought process has me questioning why I am doing this. Even though I know it is the right thing to do, at the right time. Additionally, we don't want Hatfield to hit some difficult teen years and develop the "grass is greener on the long-lost birth parent" side. We'd rather her get to know him and his family so she has a realistic perception. Hatfield may someday want to escape little brothers in our house, but it certainly won't be to his as she has two adorable little half brothers out in Washington. She's doomed in the little brother arena, mwahahahahahaha.

In all seriousness though, everyone out there is so excited to meet and get to know Hattie. They are going to loooooovvvvveeeeeee her, because how can you not? She is the kindest, most laid-back, easy-to-be-with kid on the planet. So in this day and age of a rocky planet, the more people in my kids' lives to love them, the better. And who knows? Maybe she'll want to go away for college (although this would throw a major wrench into my blissful daydream of her attending UWGB), and then hopefully she'd go out there where there is family in the vicinity.

So while I'm looking forward to our trip, right now I'm in the throes of pre-trip What in the Hellenistic Age was I thinking!?!?! (family joke courtesy of Hatfield.)

The Mister is staying home with the four youngest, hopefully homeschooling, but if keeping them fed, hygienic and clothed gets in the way of his homeschooling plans, then so be it.
Because upon our return home, we are home for 2 days, and then the Mister and I turn around and leave for a weekend getaway to a spa/resort that he won at work.

My mother is staying to watch the kids; one of our good family friend's delightful 16-year old daughter is coming to help as well. But still, I don't know if 48 hours is enough time to put the house back together after the Mister flying solo for 7 days, snuggle and bond with the children, get homeschool back up and running, purchase food and activities for the weekend, and pack for our trip.

Who am I kidding? I know that I can't do that.

So, it's triage time. Focusing on the most important, saying Eff It to the rest (or, alternatively, stuffing it into the basement storage closet for the "out of sight, out of mind" approach.)

Does anyone else's brain go completely haywire at the triage mode? Mine does. I started this blog yesterday morning, and what did I do all afternoon? Clean out the fridges? Do laundry? Organize the kids' bedroom? Clean up the workdesk?

Nope. I painted subfloor. And put together a shoe holder from Ikea.

Haywire.



Sunday, September 25, 2011

Nature vs. Nurture, Cont.

When the Mister and I married some 11 years ago, our biggest newlywed fights were mainly his carnivorous ways clashing with my vegetarian ways.

He'd angrily fixate a toxic stare at me and complain that he went from eating 2 meats per meal, 3 meals a day, to eating meat maybe only once a day, as if I should feel sorry for him. (I'm dead serious here.) I'd wail that he was marring my precious new wedding gift cookware with animal carcass (I'm serious here as well; I would cry.)

Ahhh, young newlywed love.

Fast forward through those years, we rarely now argue about food. I still eat a primarily vegetarian diet, and we eat mostly vegetarian meals each week, with about 3-4 meat meals mixed in there (I'm included lunches for a total of 14 meals a week, since we are a homeschool family and I cook 3 meals a day at home, every day.) I'm selective about the meats I purchase, and the Mister's subsequent blood pressure and cholesterol issues make him selective about the carcasses he consumes.

This summer the Mister went deep water fishing and brought home over 40 pounds of king salmon, coho salmon and lake trout. I gladly partake in those meals.

We also purchased 15 chickens from a friend whose father raises free-range, organic birds (at $1.50 per pound, so it's a great deal from an environmental standpoint, a local economy standpoint, and our checkbook standpoint.)

The Mister is pretty satisfied with our home menu, and he can get his red meat fixation satiated with work meals.

Anyways, the Mister just returned with Hatfield and Atticus from the Homeschool Father/Child Weekend Camp Out. With a pack of hot dogs in tow.

Miss Paloma's FAVORITE food are hot dogs. FAVORITE.

Clearly, this is a Nature dynamic, I thought.

So, this afternoon at lunch, Paloma was gleefully sitting down to dig into her hot dog, when she pauses and asks if she can have some pepperoni to put on her hot dog.

I nearly vomited, and instead ran out to share my grossed-outedness to the Mister.

"You'll never guess what your daughter wants to put on her hot dog. Pepperoni!" I gagged, expecting even that combination to elicit a WTH response from the Mister.

"No problem. I think we have some in the garage fridge. . . " he said, about to retrieve it for his little Pepperoni Princess.

Given the fact that her father was perfectly willing to put pepperoni on her hot dog, without even blinking, is making me realize that I now have the double whammy of nature and nurture working against me.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Losing my religion

Was anyone else seriously bummed to learn that REM called it a day after 31 years of making music?

I was.

I'm neither snobby nor snotty when it comes to music. I can't name dates and obscure bands and concert scenes. I absolutely abhor sitting around people who feel they are "in the know" in the music world as they drop names and dates and act like they are somehow superior to those of us who just listen to the radio.

I have no time nor patience nor know-how to sit on iTunes or wherever it is that people buy music these days. The Mister will bring me home cd's from the library, and Hatfield puts good stuff on her iPod. I listen to the radio, mostly, or whatever they are listening to. It works for me.

All that beings said, I like music. Music, and songs, are one way I catalog life moments. I 'came of age' in the alternative/grunge scene. I can bring back intense memories and accompanying feelings whenever I hear certain songs.

It's been an entirely bittersweet week where I feel like I've been a ghost, shifting in and out of past scenes and times from my life.

REM walked away, the radio bombarded us with their stuff, and so often I felt my old high school self.

A ton of Nirvana from Cliff's computer reminded me of college days.

It's was my father's birthday yesterday-- he would have been 63. I shadowed many memories of family birthday celebrations from my childhood. I've spent a lot of time this week, listening to the Beatles and Willie Nelson, my dad's two favorites.

And to top off all the bittersweet trips down memory lane, Cliff and I spent an evening partially watching a movie, but mostly crying because our old, 3-legged beagle Ernie was sprawled out between us, exhausted and rheumy-eyed, his soul letting us know.

Ernie is slowly but surely and all too quickly calling it a day upon his own life.

It seems like just yesterday I was a young single mom with my one-year old Hattie, bringing Ernie home from the local humane society. He made us a family of 3.
Knowing that our time with Ernie--this 'era' of my life--is coming to an end, breaks my heart. Knowing that Hatfield is moving out of her childhood and into her teens, leaves me crying and wishing that I could slow it all down. Looking at the people who have already left my world makes me feel like I have shifted through several phases of life. Knowing that this all goes by all too quickly reminds me all the more that I need to slow down and live each day more in the moment than I did the day before.




Thursday, September 15, 2011

Someone at Horizons is Hammered at Work

Yesterday, while working in her Horizons Phonics Level K Workbook, Paloma announced:

Hey Mom! Look! This guy is hammered!!

I nearly got whiplash from turning around so fast. What the heck was my 6-year old talking about? And how did she know what "hammered" meant?!?
See?!? She said triumphantly. He got nailed!

And sure enough, the guy had been hammered, as Paloma had drawn in a bunch of nails to hold this maniac down to the page.

Seriously, though, I think someone over there at Alpha Omega (the publisher of Horizons) has been getting a little hammered before they start creating textbooks.

Over the past week, we have encountered these two photos in our workbooks. With both photos, the children are to identify what the photo is, and then determine the first consonant and vowel of the word.

Can anyone out there tell me just what the heck this is?!?
Or how about this?!?

I feel like I'm hammered just looking at them. What the heck, Horizons?!?! Someone there needs to lay off the sauce before coming in to work.

Friday, September 09, 2011

A Story of Dreaded "I Wasn't a Buyer" Remorse and Perseverance

About 2 weeks ago, Miss Essie, Miss Angie and myself piled into our cleared-out minivan and headed down to Chicago for


Stitches is basically Disney World, the Sears Tower and the Playboy Mansion all rolled into one huge, happy, yarn-laden, knitting & crocheting paradise.

I am still riding my Stitches high.

The Market in Stitches is a massive, and I mean MASSIVE, indoor marketplace of fiber goodness. While we were able to go through the Market in our time there from 10 am to 4:45 pm, it just wasn't enough.
By 3 pm, I found my blood sugar rapidly plummeting and all the fabulous yarn blurring before my eyes.

At 4:30, right before I departure, I saw it.

The wrap of all wraps. The shawl of all shawls. The most perfect knitted object ever.

I looked at the price tag, and my wallet shuddered because my debit card was already smoking.

Exhausted, delusional, and guilt-ridden about my previous yarn purchases, I passed.

Alas, the moment I walked through my front door 4 hours later, I had it.

A HUGE case of "I wasn't the buyer" remorse.

Over the past 2 weeks, I have dreamt about that shawl. I have tried to picture it in my mind. I have scoured the internet to determine the stitch type, the yarn colors, the design. The pattern and the photo.

Alas, I'm not all that artistic. And my memory isn't all that great. The shawl was going from the Perfect Shawl to the Shawl that Should Have Been But Wasn't.

By yesterday, I could no longer stand it. So, during the Packer game,

(oh,

and,

Holy crap!
Did you see our little ol' Green Bay on the Today Show?
How cool was all of that?
Whooohoooo Green Bay!
This place kicks ass.
So glad to live here
and be raising my kids here.)

During the Packer game, I took out my Stitches map,
Page 1 & 2 out of 6 pages of vendor listings & information
ransacked my yarn-overloaded mind to determine the approximate area of the Market in which I saw the Perfect Wrap, and emailed 5 vendors to ask them it they had it.

And guess what.

This morning, I heard back from the store that has it!

The Silky Wool Linen Stitch Wrap.

Oh, how those beautiful words roll off my tongue like...well, like silky wool. And as soon as the store owner returns from a Toronto Show, the wrap yarn and pattern will be mine.

Allllll mine.

Now how's that for a story about perseverance .

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Hattie's Point of View

One of the disadvantages of being a homeschool student (in our home, at least), is that there is no back-to-school shopping extravaganza. Well, the Mister and I, and our checkbook, don't really chalk that up as a disadvantage.

And now that I think about it, my kids have more than enough clothing and really could care less about shopping. So why I state that this is a serious disadvantage, I'm not sure.

Years of doesn't-really-make-any-sense programming, I guess. So scratch the whole disadvantage comment; I'm too lazy to edit today.

Either way, Hatfield and I were at Target the other week, when she spotted and fell in love with these Chuck Taylor's.

On an aside, Did you know that Target carries Chuck Taylors now? I had no idea they were popular again. In high school, my boyfriend loved Chuck Taylors, and one time we wasted an entire Saturday driving around Green Bay and then the entire Fox Valley looking for a pair of Chuck hightops.

The sacrifices we make for young love, right?

Back to my girl. Realizing that she has never participated in back-to-school shopping, I thought it was fun to oblige.
Aren't they cute? I love them. I got such a kick out of the entire experience (ooo, punny! and I didn't even realize it until I re-read this), because this was the first time ever that Hatfield a) showed interest in clothing all on her own and b) answered decisively when I asked her if she would like me to buy them for her.

I also love the fact that she took a photo of her new kicks.

Also found in her week's upload (I never know what I am going to find after her uploads, and there's always a gem or two in there)

Her very best four-legged friend

and a good mantra for a teen-ager:
If you were a fruit loop, what flavor would you be? Does anyone even know what flavors are in fruit loops? I don't, but I would be yellow, because that's my favorite color. Plus, I sampled some really yummy lemon-coconut cake today, which I can't stop thinking about. Which is probably a really bo-rrrring answer. Can you imagine what Po's would be? It'd be something like: I'd be green, so I can be my own vegetable and then my mom would never make me eat veggies, or something like that.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Paloma Show




Paloma takes the longest to eat any meal in our family, namely because she does not stop talking.
Here's a sampler of her conversations. Or rather, here's a sampler of the way she controls the dinner table conversation.

Because really,
she's Paloma,


and we just happen to live in her world.

* "Mom, would you rather buy a motorcycle for $1, a really expensive car, or an airplane for $25?"

* "Mom, wanna see the world's biggest scoop of mashed potatoes?" (She holds up a half teaspoon on her spoon.) "I'm gonna only eat half of it, because I don't want to be bad news for the person who ate the world's biggest scoop of mashed potatoes before tonight."

* "Mom calls hip hop "hippity hop," because she's old, and, you know, her brain doesn't remember good."

* "Mommy, you should see the trick Trixie did! She was standing up, without even holding onto something."

"Mom, if you had no food and were hungry, would you rather kill a chicken or kill a reindeer."

Ummmmmmm.... when in doubt, deflect the question back to them.

"I don't know, Po, what would you do?"

"I would kill the chicken because reindeers are fast. AND, I don't want to upset Santa. Then I'd eat the chicken, have the eggs for dessert, and make a pillow from the feathers."

I know that I should feel rather disturbed that she actually had thought this through, on her own, in her own 6-year old mind.

But, I gotta admit it, I'm kinda impressed.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday's Musings: So what about the blog. . .

I've spent a lot of time thinking about my blog this summer. Namely, what the heck I am going to do with it.

The summer has been good and solidly busy, with family activities, children activities and gardening time. I have no complaints, except that it went by all too quickly.

Over the course of that time, I found little time to blog. Often I felt wishy washy about what to write. Or I would write, find it entirely too personal, leave it in draft and write the whole thing off (oooo, how punny!) as a cathartic experience.

Recently, my dear girl Essie seemed to start a blog-ending trend. Good Lord, girl, you said it best when you wrote: I don't have anything left to say. Sweet, short and succinct, because she has nothing left to say. And we miss you! But, I get it.

Seriously, though, holy moly, suddenly, everyone else has decided that, like Essie, they too have nothing left to say. Blogs are dropping like flies, girlfriend! I was shocked by the number of blogs I had to erase from my bookmarks because they just are not there.

Oh, well.

(And I say, Oh well, only because I get to hang out with Essie every week. And sometimes on weekends. My vocabulary is still growing in brilliant ways, and I feel smug about it. Shameless, shameless of me, I know ;)

So, two weeks back, I found myself preparing a post in honor of Paloma's 6th birthday. A post in which I linked to all of her other birthdays, all of which have been documented on my blog.

Among those birthdays were many, many stories and fun times and crazy moments that I completely forgot about.

I sat reading through the blog, laughing so hard I was crying, and the kids came over to see what the commotion was about.

I started reading it to them. Atticus and Paloma, who were really, really little when I started 5FC, kept saying: "I didn't know I did that!" or "Wow! I forgot we went there!"

Hatfield kept saying, "Oh, I remember that! I loved that time!"

Miles and Keenan saw how they suddenly took root in their lives in our families.

And it hit me really, really hard: I am by no means done with my blog. (I still love you though, Essie, and I'm still one of your groupies, even if I'm not following your trend.)

I think just about one of the saddest things I have ever heard was when my mom said to me: "One of the hardest things about losing Carl (my late father, her late husband) was that when he died, I lost that ability to remember with him about our family's times. We lost so many family memories and stories when he died."

I don't want my family to lose our stories... (I was going to write, "I don't want my family to lose our stories when the Mister dies," but man, that sounds kinda morbid. Or hopeful. Neither of which I am! Although, if the Mister dies, and he's working while he dies, we get something like 4x the amount of life insurance his company gives us if he just regular ol' dies while sleeping. So we always joke that if he does die in some ol' boring way, we have to haul his body in his work vehicle and ditch him in the parking lot of a doctor's clinic in the U.P. of Michigan. Cha-ching. Just kidding. Just trying to pep up after a sad thought.)

I may not have much to say at the moment, but the likelihood that something will happen that I want to get down for family preservation purposes is huge. I want my kids to have these times documented.

So, these are some things I have decided about Five Frozen Chamorros. Here goes:

Things my blog will not be:

1) I will not try to brand myself, attempt to become a community touchstone, or otherwise promote myself as a go-to person on anything. (Unless you want to make fun of Dance Moms, or have a support group for people who decimate washing machines at unusual rates, or help me start a Homeschool Group for Moms who Drop the F-Bomb. I would be okay being a community touchstone on those topics)

2) I will not post up oodles of photos of me, most of which were taken by me while holding a camera or cell phone up at arm's length. In fact, I don't post many photos of myself, because really, I just don't get people who do that ALL the time.

3) I will not have a fancy blog with moving parts or headings or doohickeys. While I would like to be cool enough to have theme music with each post, I'm not, and in those cases I will just tell you: This blog should be read along with this song, and since I'm not cool enough to get my blog to play this song while you are reading this post, you'll just have to sing it in your own head while reading this post. If you want to.

Things my blog will be:

1) Stories about my family and children, some of which may cause you to roll your eyes or throw up in your mouth a little (and not necessarily from sugary sweetness, because my kids can be kinda groody.)

2) When we encounter something new with our adoption journey, I may post it for the purposes of emotional catharsis or hand-holding.

3) Random postings about knitting, gardening, recipes and pets. None of which will likely have any continuity with the postings before and after it. And none of which will turn me into a super-with-it-crafty blog.

4) Lots of brief mentionings of topics with the catch phrase: more on that later, none of which I will follow up on. Because honestly, between 5 kids, 3 dogs, 2 cats, 1 homeschool, and 1 husband, I'm lucky I even remember to have a blog.

So that's the State of the Union Address for Five Frozen Chamorros. If my blog isn't what you hoped it would be, I'm cool with that. If it is, please stick around and witness our life in the making.