Monday, December 31, 2007

This year I resolve to...

  • Enroll my kids in swim lessons so that next summer they are more confident in the water (Read: less dependant on me= more fun for me to swim with them)
  • Start Once-a-Month Cooking so I rely less on less healthful alternatives.
  • Repaint my public rooms.
  • Pay off my consumer debt (so I can buy a new car and a new bedroom set).
  • Go to the gym 3 days a week- at least until my gym membership runs out in Feb- I will at least maximize the time I am still committed to paying for.

Trish, Kris, Karen, LeeAnn- consider yourselves tagged!


All it was going to take was a new set of sponges to turn 4/5ths of my brood into cleaning machines!?
One of my offspring woke up in a particularly industrious mood today and promptly made her bed, picked up her dirty laundry, and swept her bedroom floor. Then she asked for a sponge. Unfortunately I didn't have a clean one for her, but I did promise to buy her one when we went out to run errands. Seemed like a win-win proposition to me. At the store I sprung for the 4 pack with cool and funky designs on them. Each of the bigger kids immediately dubbed one as "mine" and set to work washing something in the kitchen. I left the room to work on a different project.
As soon as I left they started plotting a surprise for me at the tops of their lungs. I guess out of sight really is out of mind. Anyway, they are in the kitchen with a bucket of hot water scrubbing the floor on their hands and knees. Mind you, they are singing "It's the Hard Knock Life" from the 80's version of Annie!
I think it was a good deal on sponges. I paid $3.59 and I get a clean kitchen floor out of the deal!
I wonder how long until they start arguing about who has done more???

Sunday, December 30, 2007

A Lot of Fun Stuff And One Scary Drive!

We've had a big, fun, busy week! Wednesday we took 4 of the 5 kids to Leavenworth to go sledding- the 5th stayed the night with Grandma. We had a great time- well most of us. My baby's feet got so cold that he couldn't stand anymore- only he didn't want me to hold him either. He just had no idea what was wrong with him. I took him inside of Starbucks where he proceeded to scream until I undressed him down to his t-shirt and pants. This allows the extremities to warm slowly and cools the core a little- it's less painful. Then he was just MAD at me for about half an hour. When his feet quit hurting I got my happy boy back! We had such a good time that we didn't leave Leavenworth until 11 pm. We got home at 1 am!
The next day Jesse and Sebastian were back up Hwy 2 to go skiing. Jess said he had a fun time this year. I wish there was some way that we could get all the kids skiing. It would be a great family activity.
On Thursday I took my other kids to see my mom. I ended up taking just my girls to Wal-Mart. There is a particular Wally's near my mom's house that I hate. It is huge. It is crowded. There are at least 3 different sources of stimulation aside from just the clothes in each department. This particular store puts me into sensory overload. Can you say Wal-Mart Rage? Anyway, I went there. It was just going to be a quick in and out trip. Guess who locked the keys in the car?! Yep, right there in the driver's seat of my locked car were my keys! And my honey was skiing.... I managed to get ahold of my mom who got ahold of my brother in law who got me the spare since he was driving near my house on his way from work....
After the Wal-Mart business, I got a sitter and took my mom out to dinner and we did some sale shopping.
Friday we managed to stay home.
Yesterday we went back to Leavenworth- only we stopped at the same horrid Wally's and got snow boots! The baby NEVER needed to go in! He didn't even want to. We sledded like crazy! We finally left Leavenworth at 11 pm. This time there was a couple of inches of snow on the road. Not too bad to drive on actually. It was nice and dry and calm at that hour. Then we got to the pass.... The wind was blowing SO hard. The plows had been through and scraped the roads down to the ice, and the wind was picking the loose snow up and blowing it back into the car windshield. It was ZERO visibility at some points. The only reference point was the snow bank that we were trying to stay out of. Off the top of the pass was better, but it had been snowing down the West side all day and the road was a slushy mess until Baring.
Anyway we made it home safe at 1:30am!
Now, today, we're going to find a new adventure!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Congratulations, It's A...

Dining Room!

It looks like, in fact, there is nothing slower than Christmas. I was beginning to have my doubts!

I finally have the room painted and put back together. I just put the dishes away today. My honey came home for lunch and we moved the china cabinet out of the living room. I was then able to put my living room back to the way it was supposed to be.

While my mom was at Disneyland having the 6th or 7th time of her life I was her back up babysitter. I ended up with my sister's 3 year old one day and my sister-in-love's infant on another day. I ended up losing the baby's binkie. Darla called as she was wrapping up her shift and asked me not to feed him... I couldn't find that darn bink anywhere! She pulled up an hour later and found him alternating between sucking the life out of my pinkie and screaming his ever-lovin' head off! Guess what I found today. I told her I would find it as soon as my house was back in order. Right under the couch. I could see it with all the furniture back in place, right there, just out of reach- believe me, I checked.

My living room seems so large with just one room's worth of furnishings in it. However, looking around at the paint, I notice that it's starting to look a little dingey....

I wasn't too sure about that red wall one coat into it, or two coats into it, or three coats into it, or four, but once I moved the china cabinet back in it covered some of the red. I decided I need a Tuscan type canvas for the other side of the doorway and some red, plaid cafe curtains for the windows. I think I've just opened Pandora's Box!

Dec 27th-
I have been trying to fix my very sick computer for a week now- no luck. You'll just have to take my word for it that it looks good until I can get back on my own machine to upload the pictures!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Calling all Traditions

Ok, here's the story:
I grew up with all the "traditional" Christmas trappings. We always had a great tree, loaded with presents, lights on the house, caroling, Christmas lists taped to the fridge, drawing names for who to buy gifts for- all that stuff.
I married a man from Romania. He grew up under the Communist regime in the Eastern block countries. When he came to the US he was amazed and sickened by the American excess of Christmas. Also, about this time he did a study on the symbols and meanings of the various traditions surrounding the holiday and- this is not my soapbox, I am not passing any kind of moral judgement- found that most of the traditions of Christmas are deeply rooted in Paganism. He vowed that he was never going to "celebrate Christmas."
I knew all of this when I decided to marry him and I deeply respected his conviction. I have even grown to agree with him on both points over the last 10 years.
Here's the problem:
Our children are growing up in a "Tradition Vacuum." I really miss the fun of the holidays- we also don't "celebrate" Easter or, obviously, Halloween. I miss the days being special and looking forward to them.
We don't put up a tree or lights or buy any presents. We also don't mark the days in any other significant ways.
Here's the question:
What kind of special traditions that focus on the Lord could we implement on these holidays? I am begging for your suggestions!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

And In No Particular Order (Part 3)

This is Caleb.

How do you describe Caleb? How do you put the wind in a box?

Caleb is lively, unpredictable, funny, and sometimes a little volatile. But if you were to harness any of that- or put him in a box- he just wouldn't be Caleb any more.

When Cay was a baby- just 16 months old- his sister Elizabeth came along. Those two have been like peas and carrots ever since, cuz they's always together. She is his mouthpiece-or spokes girl, as it were- and he is her body guard. If you want to get to Libby you have to go through Cay.

Life for Caleb has always been a little more difficult than for most other people. He's one of those square pegs in a round hole world. Caleb didn't begin to speak until he was over three years old. He rarely looked at you when he spoke or was spoken to. He never volunteered any information, and he seldom responded with more than one word. More often than not he would do nothing if he was content, but scream and hit if he was upset.

I know you've just read that last paragraph and thought to yourself, "He's autistic." You might be right. I sometimes think that myself. However, I have chosen not to have him tested and diagnosed because if he is autistic, he is so high on the spectrum that it makes little difference. Also, because no matter what names and labels get attached to my children, they are all expected to grow into contributing members of society. I never want them to be excused from duty or responsibility, or passed over just because of a label.

When he started Kindergarten his poor brother had to drag him down the driveway to the school. Caleb would grab every upright object he could find to anchor himself to on the way. When Jesse picked him up from school he hit the door running and made it to the house before Jesse even left the building. (We live right next door to the school.) Much of the focus of Kindergarten was just getting him into the groove of going to school.

In first grade Caleb had a very "old school" teacher who presented us with some hard decisions. We had to decide on Special Services (Special Ed), medical intervention, or pulling him out of school. Caleb was already receiving Title I (reading) services since in first grade he could barely distinguish his letters. He couldn't write any words except for his name. The most troubling thing, though, was that he was easily frustrated/angered and spent a lot of time in self imposed isolation either in the hall or huddled in a corner of the room.

We finally decided that we would have Caleb put into speech therapy twice a week, and he would continue with Title I.

Also, I had long suspected that Cay was allergic to something. I decided it was time to take him to see the allergist/naturopath. As it turned out, Caleb was not allergic to something, he was allergic to everything. Almost everything that we considered food was making him sick. Beef. Pork. Dairy. Wheat. Corn. Rye. Barley. Citrus. All Processed Sweeteners. All Dyes. Mildly Eggs. Mildly Soy. We took Cay off all the offending foods with the exception of soy and eggs, because as the doctor said, he had to eat something! What did he eat? Rice, chicken, fish, fresh produce. That's about it. He was the only kid I knew who had a home cooked meal (very dinner-ish) in his lunch box at school. If you have ever read the ingredients on any of your favorite convenience foods very closely you would soon realize that all but the most specialized (read expensive) prepackaged foods were out! What a pain in my butt!

But how incredibly worth it! Within 2 months of totally rearranging our eating habits people were noticing major changes in my boy. He quit huddling in the hall and corner of the class room. He began to READ! He began to look at you when you spoke to him!

At Christmas that year I came into the kitchen at my parent's house to see my sister standing there with tears in her eyes. "I don't think he has ever spoken to Dave (her husband) before. They've been having a conversation for the last 5 minutes!" Wow. I knew he was getting better, but seeing him everyday I just didn't realize how much he had changed. She got to see the big change where I only got to see the little changes.

We kept Caleb on the specialized diet for a year. A year is a long time for a little guy. Caleb began to ask when he could start eating like a "normal kid" again. About this time I found a book called Enzymes for Autism and Other Neurological Conditions by Karen DiFelice. I immediately implemented the enzyme regime and eased him back into a "normal" diet- with the exception of sugars and dyes which still bring out his inner animal. So far, none of his teachers have noticed any change for the worse.

Caleb continues speech therapy this year at school, and probably next year too, but he has disqualified himself from reading services based on his ability.

I wouldn't want Caleb to be anything other than who God has designed him to be, but I am glad that the square edges seem to be getting rounded and shaped a little all the time.

Lest you think that Caleb's issues define him, let me tell you a funny story about Caleb humor. One night Cay came to the dinner table with a baseball cap on. Two rules: 1) wear a shirt 2) no hats. I told Caleb to take his hat off. He tugged at the hat a little but it didn't come off. He pulled harder at the hat, but it just pulled his head up with it. By the way, this hat is not adjustable and is about 3 sizes too big. His head was not stuck. At this point Caleb stood on his chair and pulled with all his might. Not budging. He yanked the hat sideways and it pulled him off the chair. He went flying through the air and rolled out of the dining room. We could hear a brief struggle and then he came back, hat in hand. "Finally." That was all he said. We, on the other hand were laughing so hard it took several minutes to compose ourselves for prayer. Caleb just sat there dead-pan as if nothing at all had happened.

Things I like about Caleb:

  • His sense of humor

  • He is fiercely independent- but still comes in for a "body check" (hugs and kisses) a few times a day.

  • He always protects the "little guy" or the under dog- he's very compassionate.

  • He is all about routine. He never leaves you guessing.

Good Movie

Like I said,I went to see a movie last night with my friend Andreena. I love going to the movies with her because she is a night owl too, and since she is my neighbor we can just put our kids to bed and jaunt over to the movie theater.

Last night we went to see August Rush. It was such a sweet movie. Freddy Highmore is darling, Kerry Russel is beautiful, Robin Williams is kinda freaky (in a very real and manipulative way- but still lovable as his character) and the Irish guy who plays the love interest is appropriately brooding and beautiful- yes beautiful, not handsome.

The ending was a little anticlimactic, but still it was a beautiful love story.

My ten year old saw it with his dad a few weeks ago- stuck in Friday night Seattle traffic- but I don't think I would let any of the other kids watch it. It's just too mature. It is very clean and very sweet other wise. If you like chick flicks this is a good one to cuddle with your sweetie with when it comes to video- or to go see with your girlfriends as a night out.

P.S. My eyes only got a little watery a couple of times. If you're a cryer like me you can probably do this one with just one tissue- or your shirt sleeve if you don't wear make up.

New Windows!!!!

I thought my husband had lost it when in November he said he was going to replace the windows in the girls' room.

"Shouldn't you wait for spring?!" I asked in alarm.

He assured me they would be super easy, and ordered them from the warehouse in Seattle where he happened to be working. Unfortunately they didn't come in before he finished the Seattle job. Guess who got to drive to Seattle yesterday with the 3 and 5 year olds? Me! :( I hate the city. I choose to live in podunk. I didn't get to leave until noon because I had to wait around for him to give me some paperwork for a side errand. On Friday afternoon I have to be OUT of Seattle by 1:30 if I ever hope to make it home before my kids get out of school. Otherwise I get stuck in traffic. It was a race but I made it.

I had a cookie exchange to go to last night and I decided to take my girls. When I left Sebastian had already removed the old rotting sash from the first window and was starting to install the tracks for the replacement. When we got home 2 1/2 hours later he was putting the 2nd window into place. I was going to the movies with a girlfriend, so I told the girls to go crawl into my bed until daddy was done. When I got back from the movie theater the windows were in, the girls were in their own beds, and all was quiet at my house. And warmer inside the girls room- even without the shades.

The super-cool thing is that these windows tilt in so the outsides can be washed- both the upper and lower sashes! Clean second story windows! The other great thing is that the bottom sash raises or the top sash lowers. We have extremely low window sills in the bedrooms upstairs and so could not leave the windows open on hot summer days for fear of losing a baby (because we have had a baby each year that we have lived in this house) out the second story window. Now we can just drop the top sash!

I think we will do the boys' bedroom next and then ours. Eventually we will get around to the whole house!

Ok, so you're probably thinking I sound like a nutcase- rambling in ecstasy about windows. I guess that's what comes from being the contractor's wife!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Feathers In My Nest

Ok, so I have the texture to do my walls. I also have the paint. What I don't have is the finished walls. Mr. Husband called Mr. Drywall back to fix some (a lot) things.
I was whining to my friend Kelly that I was tired of having my dining room table crammed into my living room and tired of looking at my empty dining room sitting. Doing nothing. Wasting its purpose. It has been a month now. It was supposed to be a week.
Now, my friend Kelly has this unique ability to call things as they are. If I am having a problem I can't really specify or if I am not sure which end is up, I usually call Kelly.
As I was having my whinefest Kelly interrupted me and said,
"Well, they're messing with your feathers."
"Your feathers. You know, the ones you line your nest with."
"Oh. Yeah, you're right."
I don't claim to be a good house keeper. In fact clean is not a state I strive for. It's more like manageable chaos. But now my feathers are ruffled, and I want them back in place!

About Shoes

I babysat last night for my friend Karen. She and her husband went to his Christmas party right here in our little podunk town. You have to know that with 5 kids of my own I choose not to babysit unless that person is very special to me. Anyway, with my children plus her 4 we had 9 children at our table last night. What a crowd!!

When they got here I was in my office processing payroll, so I didn't hear them come in. When I came out of my office they had already kicked off their shoes and dumped their coats on the floor.

We had an uneventful night with the exception of one set of 3 year old fingers pinched on the hinge side of the bathroom door.
When Karen came to get her kids I got my first look at her for the evening. What a babe! Red dress, CFMP's (If you have to ask, you don't want to know!), nice hair....

As the kids came down from the playroom she told them to get their shoes on and get in the car. The "baby" was last. She came down and followed the shoe command. At this point I took one look and burst out laughing. Apparently, she, like my "baby" likes to kick her shoes off while riding in her car seat. She must have quite a collection in there. Karen says she put her in the car barefoot and told her to put some shoes on. She did....

Friday, December 7, 2007

Forward Progress

Mr. Drywall is done and paid. Hooray! I think we will texture tomorrow. I bought texture in a can yesterday. Then I can paint. We actually got lot of bang for our buck. The guy even fixed some major deficiencies in our bed room. Some of those problems were masked by the closet I tore out in a fit of rage. Some of them were caused by the fit of rage! I think I am going to paint my West wall red. The rest of the walls will be a darker khaki than they currently are and the ceiling will either be darker or lighter, I'm not sure yet. I like the cozy feeling that a darker ceiling creates, but I'm not sure if I should go that dark. Any opinions?
The walls are currently the 2nd color (first full color) and the ceiling is the 3rd color. I was thinking of making the walls the 3rd color and the ceiling the 5th color.
The West wall will be the 4th color.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Un-untuck-able Beds

For those of you who know me well, you know I'm all about 1) shortcuts,, and 2) what the kids can do for themselves.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I only make the beds once a week. Here's why:

  1. Take the mattress off the bed. Lay your quilt, comforter, or other outer blanket face down, sideways across your foundation (in this case plywood), just so it covers the foundation, with all extra on the wall or wrong side of the bed.

  1. Lay inner blanket across outer blanket in the same style as step one. If you use a top sheet (I HATE THEM) do the same with the top sheet.

  2. Replace mattress and cover with mattress pad or/and fitted sheet.

  3. Pull remainder of (top sheet) inner blanket and outer blanket over the top of the mattress.

  1. Viola! a virtually un-untuck-able bed. The weight of the mattress plus the child holds all blankets and sheets firmly in place.

As far as I know this will only work for a twin sized bed with twin sized bedding since it is almost exactly as wide as the bed is long. It works great, and it is easy for everyone to make their own beds- even the guy on the top bunk! As an added bonus, if you are like me and see no practical use for top sheets, you can pull the fitted sheet off the mattress without disturbing the covers under the bed so it will be that much easier to make the bed up again at sheet changing time.