Monday, February 26, 2007


Spelling has always been a challenge for Brother. However, we've started a new curriculum and he has gone from about 30% accuracy to getting 92% correct on his spelling test today. Thrilling.

But vocabulary may be our next area of focus.

While working in his spelling book today, he was to choose a spelling word from his list to correctly correspond with this definition: It has a shell on the outside.

The spelling words were:

The choice is obvious to you and I, but Brother struggled with it and insisted no word from that list fit. I told him to skip that one and go the next question.

Further down the line, the definition was: It means the opposite of bottom.

And Brother wrote "nut".

This is where I sat down to try and figure out his line of reasoning, and I asked him, "Nut is the opposite of bottom?"

"Yeah, Mom," he said, looking kind of sheepish. "You around a penis."

HEL-LO!! My boy is equating "nut" with "testicle". No wonder he didn't understand the whole "shell on the outside" term.

I am SO not ready for this.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Adventures in Homeschool

I have formally started Sister in Kindergarten. I thought this was a good idea. She is super smart and has been showing an interest in being at the table with Brother and I during school. When I presented the idea to her, she was completely gung-ho.

But the truth of the matter is that she is probably more enamored with the idea of it all. Kindergarten is a very romantic notion when you're five. Perhaps she only wants to be a Kindergartener in name only, because she doesn't really like the conformity. Literally, every instruction I gave her yesterday was met with a protest, saying she wanted to do it "her" way.

I have a great little art program that helps you teach your kids to draw. We start by practicing straight lines. On the page, you draw a straight line from one dot to the next. First horizontal, then vertical. She said she didn't want to do it that way. She wanted to do it her way. "But, Sister," I explained, "there is only one way to draw a straight line." Not so. Determined to prove me wrong, she made her straight lines wavy.

For President's Day, the kids and I read some stories about George Washington and Honest Abe, found a great website with funny film clips about Barney, President Bush's dog (, and did some cutesy President's Day activities, like the one you see pictured below.

This is Brother's version of Abraham Lincoln's log cabin, complete with evergreen tree and Abe himself peering out the window.

This is Sister's. She said it was hit by a tornado.

Her creativity will either make her very successful one day, or she will refuse to conform and live out of a cardboard box in the alley just to spite me.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Melting Cheese

Terrible Twos. I hate that expression. I LOVE two!! It just might be my favorite age.

But today...ah, today has tested my position on two.

It began this morning, and I don't even remember how. Baby began crying uncontrollably about something that disrupted the universe that IS her. She could not be distracted. She could not be consoled. So I put her on the bed, alone, to try and work it out for herself. Brother finds this to be cruel and unusual and begs me to get her. I try to explain to him that she is getting a time out, just like he and Sister would get if they were throwing this sort of tantrum. Soon, Baby calms down and comes to me, eyes puffy, nose running and arms open wide, ready to make up. I'm feeling pretty satisfied and confident that I AM Supermom, able to tame tantrums in a single bound.

Later, as I am preparing lunch, Baby comes to me, whining. I have four slices of bread to make two grilled cheese sandwiches. Three kids + two sandwiches = disaster. However, Baby has already been snacking on carrots and hummus, so I figure I can offer her a slice of cheese and a couple of Dora cookies and she will be happy. She takes the cheese and immediately becomes distressed. "Ow!" she says, turning on the waterworks for the second time in two hours.

I sit beside her, trying to decipher her cryptic message of despair. "Out?" I say. "Down? Do you want down from your chair?"

"NO-AH!" this is the way she says "no"...adamantly.

"What's wrong?"

"OW!" she wails, becoming more despondent. "OOOOWWWWWWW!!!!"

I search her for boo-boos, but find nothing. She just keeps looking at her cheese slice, crying. I finally deduct that her cheese slice has a tiny little tear in it, and this has cut her to the quick...shaken her to the very core of her being. The cheese, defiled and unclean, is mocking her, and she cannot therefore partake of such a vile and disgusting offering.

After our earlier outburst, I'm growing weary of the drama, and I state plainly, "Either eat the cheese or throw it away."

"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-AH!!!" More tears. More snot. More drama.

So, I simply try to remove the cheese for her and dispose of the threatening dairy product. But, alas, she has it firm within her grasp, and my reaching for it only serves to tear the slice completely in two.

Oh. My. Goodness.

If there is such a thing as a Drama Queen, I believe what ensued after that would qualify her as the Most High Supreme Goddess of Drama, able to call down the powers of darkness to reign unholy terror upon me, one of her lowly peon subjects.

I, again, try to remove the cheese, but she squeezes the cheese into her tight, little fists and runs, screaming and crying all the way. I go after her, only to find her seeking shelter in the arms of her sympathizer...Brother. By her behavior, Brother is sure I am killing her, slowly and painfully, and is ready to fight me tooth and nail to protect her, bless his little aiding and abetting heart.

After prying her away from him, I carry Baby, kicking and screaming (to put it lightly), to the kitchen to try and pry the smashed balls of cheese from her grasp. And she is less than cooperative. I literally have to force her fingers open while she is flailing about like a wounded bird...a very VOCAL wounded bird. I have never, NEVER witnessed anything like it, except maybe on SuperNanny.

And as if one fiasco isn't enough, Sister comes into the room (with her hands over her ears) and shouts above the pandemonium, "COME LOOK WHAT BROTHER DID TO YOUR ROOM!"

I know he is angry with me for torturing his baby sister with a piece of torn cheese, and I imagine he has gone to my room and ransacked it. I walk down the hall just in time to see him stomping from my room, throwing a dirty look my way. I walk in to find...nothing. Everything looks the same. Either my room is so messy I can't tell or he really didn't do anything. Brother, who cannot keep from 'fessing up, comes quickly back to my room and hands me three picture frames containing pictures of each of my angelic babes. He had stolen them from my room to get back at me for being so mean to Baby.

Guess they really showed me. Next time I'll think twice before giving torn cheese to my children.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

For some reason I knew, the minute the phone rang, that this was the call. I knew because it was our home phone that rang, and it rarely rings anymore. I knew because my husband left the room to take it. I knew because I couldn't hear him laughing or talking. I knew because the cloud had been looming for weeks, months...maybe years. And when my husband came back to the kitchen, I knew.

His father had died.

Saturday, February 10, 2007, at approximately 3:30 p.m., my father-in-law, the man who smiles from black and white photos with a beautiful, chubby, baby boy, passed away.

I've been trying to decide how to write about this for days. It is difficult to expound on such a subject when there are many complex and confliciting emotions. And there have been many moments this past week worthy of being put down for posterity. But it would require a long and detailed description of family history, which I just don't have the heart to post for the world to see.

This is a bittersweet time. Maybe someday I can actually put it to words.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Movin' and Groovin'

Things are moving. And by "things", I mean the aforementioned slime that has wreaked havoc on my household this week. I will not go into further details.

You're welcome.

So, I'm taking that as a good sign. Of course, I'm also awake at 4 a.m. this morning.

I will stop whining about being sick now.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Some days you feel like squashed bread.

I peeled myself from the mattress this morning with all the enthusiasm of a sloth on tranquilizers. Due to a snoot full of slime, my night was spent in and out of consciousness, though I'd hardly call it sleep. My throat is scratchy and feels thick and sticky, like someone force fed me Play-Doh during one of my less conscious moments. And in this house, one never knows.

Moving in slo-mo, I plod down the hall with but one goal, clinging to this one glimmering ray of hope to save me from collapse - the coffee pot. A nice, hot cup of joe will melt away the slime. Or at least give me the energy to make it to the Kleenex box.

But the baby birds immediately notice the mama bird is up and about the nest and their requests for breakfast do not wait for coffee to brew. They land on me without taking heed of my sad state and waste no time placing their orders. But it is all mud inside my ears. I mutter something to the tune of "wait" and find the nearest spot to land. Brother asks, "What are we going to do today, Mom?"

Well, let's see, Son. Today we're going to search online for a very simple illustrated how-to guide that will explain, in very clear, easy-to-understand-second-grader language, how you can cut open Mommy's head, allowing it to drain and thus releasing this vice-like pressure on her oh-so-tired brain. And then, perhaps we will go to the park.

I spot a bottle of saline drops I used on Baby the night before for "Little Noses". Though my nose most definitely does not fall into this category, I don't have a water pik to shove up my beak and clean things out and this seems like the next best thing. After a few bungled attempts, I finally figure out the trick to leaning my head back just enough to get the saline where it's supposed to go without having it trickle down the back of my throat. This is what I've been subjecting my poor, ailling children to?! The saline gets things moving, but brings little relief, and all I want to do is whisper sweet nothings to my coffee cup and go back to bed.

But, no. I choose instead to take all three of my children on a shopping trip to the Wal-Mart Super-scary-Center. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it? I mean, when you're feeling as though a train has run you over, backed up and run you over again, why wouldn't you want to take three over-active children to the world's largest mass marketer of goods and beat back large, angry mobs to forage for food and stuff?

My underlying motive was to buy all the good legal drugs I could get my hands on. We just happened to need milk and bread, too.

But SuperCenters are not nice to sick people. And after an hour of filling one cart to the brim with groceries and the latest and greatest cold remedies, I felt as though I needed to be hospitalized with a good morphine drip. I get home, unload the trunk, only to find my bread mangled under a bag of canned goods.

Squashed bread.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Sick Day

There is a funk floating around our house. Brother was the first to catch it, with Hubby a close second.

I was having such a hard time motivating yesterday - pretty typical for a Monday. But by 1:00, I started feeling achey. By three, I was parked on top of the heater with a raging fever and a pounding head, trying to chase away the chills. It's a wonder I didn't burn off my eyebrows. I had thawed chicken breasts, planning on fixing something delicious for dinner, but the kids got grilled cheese sandwiches and frozen vegetables, a magnificent feat in light of how I was feeling.

As Sister was getting ready to go to bed last night, she put her arms around me and I laid my head on her shoulder. "Tomorrow," she said, "I'll make you some tea and that will make-ted (an adorable grammatical error) you feel better."

Her tenderness gave me little goosebumps all over. Or maybe that was a chill.

"Thank you, Honey," I said, as she patted me softly. "You're sweet."

She gave me a soft, little kiss on the cheek and said, "Yeah. I am."

Today the fever is gone, but I still have that fuzzy, slow-motion feeling and my throat feels like I swallowed glue. I wrestled with it a bit, but I think I will stay home from school. With all the emphasis my professors put on attendance, I'm feeling guilty, and slightly angry that I'm feeling guilty. But it's okay to stay home when you're sick...right? Good grief, can I GET A SICK DAY HERE???!!!

Editorial Note: In case you're wondering why my slacker husband didn't help me out yesterday, he was at school. Had he been home, I am quite sure he would have given me a foot massage, cooked a seven-course meal and done every stitch of laundry...right, Honey?

Friday, February 02, 2007

Dreaming In Words

I just read, devoured, rather, a really great book. It is titled Good Grief by Lolly Winston. I started it yesterday afternoon and finished it today. A fabulous read! And of course, you can't really "Search Inside", as the picture suggests. I merely borrowed that image from Amazon.

I wasn't looking for a new book, exactly. I happened to be hanging out with some girlfriends at Barnes and Noble after a movie, sipping my peppermint mocha and perusing some interesting books (which I absolutely did not intend to buy), when one of the ladies makes a comment that strikes me funny just as I am taking a drink of my nice dark beverage and I, of course, spew it onto the lovely, pristine book jacket in front of me. It just so happened to be the above mentioned book. Luckily, it was bargain priced at $5.98.

This book had the perfect mix of humor, reality and tragedy, although I found the ending a little too Norman Rockwell. But most of all, I found it inspiring. It is exactly the kind of book I want to write. So now I'm feeling this overwhelming urge to get started.

Here's the weird thing.

There is this strange voice in my head narrating my every move, every tiny little happening in my life. For instance, when I walked down the steps of my porch today, here is what freaky, narrative voice said:

"She stepped out into the cold, brisk air, momentarily blinded by the brilliant sun reflected on the glittering snow. Clutching the cold, iron rail in her naked hand, she stepped, slowly, carefully, down the first of the icy steps, which seemed determined to bring her down."

This happened with everything. And I do mean E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G.

This is either a really good sign, or the beginnings of schizophrenia.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

What A Relief!

This morning, as I was making breakfast, my sweet Baby, toddled into the kitchen in her little pink and purple heart jammies to see if she could lend a hand. Being the big helper she is, she took the bag of cat food from under the sink and proceeded to feed the kitty, heaping big piles of crunchy brown stuff into the stainless steel bowl next to the trashcan.

As I was slicing sausage from the roll, I hear a crunching sound...and it's not the cat. My blood turns cold as I immediately think the worst - Baby is eating the cat food.

But alas, I was not to worry. Baby wasn't eating the cat food. She was only eating popcorn from the trash.


What A Relief!

This morning, as I was making breakfast, my sweet Baby, toddled into the kitchen in her little pink and purple heart jammies to see if she could lend a hand. Being the big helper she is, she took the bag of cat food from under the sink and proceeded to feed the kitty, heaping big piles of crunchy brown stuff into the stainless steel bowl next to the trashcan.

As I was slicing sausage from the roll, I hear a crunching sound...and it's not the cat. My blood turns cold as I immediately think the worst - Baby is eating the cat food.

But alas, I was not to worry. Baby wasn't eating the cat food. She was only eating popcorn from the trash.