This Week Around Here

We finally had a normal week around here.

A full week of school has brought with it multiplication. As in multiplication homework. The assignment is five minutes each night learning the basic facts. Alright, I thought, we can do this. Naturally, his first choice for practicing was the suggested online games. Which I was fine with, until the tears. Kid was STRESSING about being timed by the computer. He wasn’t fast enough and the little buzzer was going off and he was stressed.

So, not good. I mean if we have tears at 2 x 1 where are we headed?

So, this happened:

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Flash cards. We are going to keep it simple here, folks.

Crying stopped, for now anyway.

The arrival of multiplication makes me nervous. Nervous because we are fast approaching the time where I will no longer be able to help with math homework. Fast approaching the tipping point of where my kiddos are officially smarter than I am. It’s no secret I’m not great at math, so really, this is gonna happen sooner rather than later.

In other news at our house this week, one of these track plans (model railroading track plans) is going to come to life:

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I was completely on board with this because I was informed that the kid would be cleaning his room and clearing out some stuff, but what happened is that his room went from this:

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To this:

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So, nothing was actually cleared out of his room, and in reality more stuff was added. Anyway, this will be a fun project to watch come together. He draws plans all day long, and now gets the chance to build.

If he doesn’t lose interest again and decide he’d rather play football in the living room.

 

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Baby, it’s Cold Outside, and Loud in Here

Well, we had every intention of settling back into a routine this week. Back to work and school after a long (and loud) break. But then it got ridiculously, insanely cold and school was cancelled. Twice.

We’re also dog-sitting this week. So the noise level went up another notch. The pooch likes to bark at the brothers tackling each other. He also likes to sit in our favorite chair. I don’t blame him.

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We’ve had pets on the brain here. Well, mostly me. I’ve been scrolling the Humane Society Website more and more frequently thinking it might be time for a pet.

Here’s the thing though: I can’t quite commit yet, because I know who will be taking care of all of the things. There’s no way the kiddos will be doing anything other than putting a scoop of food in a dish. The standing outside at midnight on a -3 degree night waiting for a pooch who just wants to roll around in the snow? The grown ups. The cleaning up? The grown ups. Everything else? The grown ups.

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So even if the kiddos might have once or twice expressed an interest in a bunny or a dog, I know that I actually have to be the one who wants the pet. But, I think this is one of those things that as parents we start to think we should be doing. Like every so often I start to feel guilty that we haven’t gone to Disney yet, and then I remember that my kids haven’t even asked to go to Disney yet. So, why do it?

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Don’t get me wrong. I like Disney and I like pets. They just both seem like A LOT of work when there are kids involved. And kids are A LOT of work on their own.

I guess for now we’ll just keep dog-sitting. But those bunnies on the Humane Society Website are so cute…

pooch

 

 

 

 

What I Did on my Christmas Vacation

The brothers have spent the better part of the last two weeks tackling each other. Not in a mean way. Just in a they-can’t-keep-their-hands-to-themselves kinda way. Or an I-gotta-mess-with-my-brother kinda way. It’s one of those things that makes you happy and crazy at the same time. It might make you mostly crazy, though, because the volume level of tackling each other is not quiet. Tackling each other requires yelling, too.

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They took a short break from tackling the other day and asked to play checkers. This was a relief, until we remembered that we don’t have a checker board, and no one felt like going to Target to get one. Desperate for some quiet, we decided to make our own. We raided the Connect Four game for Checkers and got some cardboard.

I’m guessing this is something they’ll be discussing with a therapist someday. Between this and the homemade Halloween costumes, I’m sure they’ll have plenty to discuss.

Also? Checkers between the brothers is not quiet.

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And then today, my little guy spent the better part of a morning in disbelief that he had to do his homework AND take a bath on the SAME DAY. He could not see how this would be possible. It’s rough being six. Wait until he realizes school starts back up tomorrow.

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Nothing Fancy for the New Year

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I feel like I should write something deep and meaningful about 2014 coming to an end, but, truth be told, there isn’t much to say. And I’m ok with that.

2014 was a quiet year for us. It was a year of routines and daily life. A year of school and work and all the millions of little things that happen to keep life going.

I like a year like that. I’m hoping 2015 brings much of the same. More of being home, more walks in my neighborhood, more books to read, more time together. Just simple stuff.

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(It’s certainly not a glittery or glamorous set of goals for the new year. But, I’m not glittery or glamorous, either. I’m a basic kind of gal.)

Hope 2015 puts you right where you want to be. With those you want to be with.

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A Post-Thanksgiving, Pre-Christmas Post

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After two whole months of being loose, my little guy finally lost his first tooth in the car on the way to our first stop on Thanksgiving Day. One minute he was showing me how he could twist it all the way around in his mouth, and the next minute he was handing it to me. (The tooth’s name was Wiggily, by the way. It had been loose for so long, he actually named it. Everyday we’d ask how Wiggily was doing, and every day it was still hanging in there.)

(Side Note: Two of my least favorite things about parenthood are having to see all the ways teeth can turn around in a kid’s mouth and then having said tooth placed in my hands. Teeth creep me out.)

Anyway, on that day I was particularly thankful for the napkins in the glove compartment.

I was also thankful for my aunt’s torte and my uncle’s pumpkin pie. For the Old Fashioned I drank at my Grandma’s favorite restaurant. There was a lot of laughing and a little bit of serious talk, and I was thankful for that, too.

Part of my little guy’s homework for Thanksgiving break was to write about his Thanksgiving Day. He didn’t write that he was thankful for TV’s or phones or toys or what have you. Here’s what he wrote:

I went to a farm. I lost a tooth on the way there. I ate torte. I saw my family. I saw my Grandma. I helped put up the Christmas tree. I ate bread. I ate cucumber. I ate chocolate. I drank Cranberry Sprite. I felt happy.

I’m going to do my best to keep these words fresh in my head this next month. This month when comparison sneaks in and words like “overwhelmed” and “busy” describe most of us.

It really is that simple, for most of us, I’d guess. We are most thankful for, and most happy, when we’re with the folks we love. And have our favorite foods to eat, too.

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The Last of the Brussels Sprouts

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The last of the Brussels sprouts came in from the garden on Saturday, just hours before the first snow of the season.

I’m not going to get all romantic about planting a garden. I mean people have been doing this since the Garden of Eden, and they have been doing it a lot better than us.

Here’s pretty much how it went down for us:

We planted a large garden and we were not particularly great at weeding it or keeping it tidy. We planted some things that did not grow well (watermelons, cabbage, some weird squash things, cantaloupe). We planted some things that did grow well (carrots, peas, enormous sunflowers, cucumbers, raspberries, tomatoes, lettuce, Brussels sprouts).

We did not actually plant any pumpkins, but somehow managed to grow a whole lot.

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More than once we forgot the sprinkler was on and watered the garden for 24 straight hours.

Cute little bunnies became our enemies and routinely outsmarted us. (They were not at all afraid of the large plastic owl on our fence, but our neighbor was.)

Our cantaloupes never got any bigger than softballs and the watermelon had what looked like crop circles on them.

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I failed at convincing my boys that pickles come from the grocery store. They were insistent on making Our Own Pickles with Our Own Cucumbers which led to Misadventures in Pickle-Making. Multiple attempts at refrigerator pickles and one foray into canning and this girl was really, really regretting not having taken Home-Ec in high school.

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We were given the book Urban Gardening for Dummies. (Was this because we’re urban or because we’re dummies? Hard to say.)

Truth be told, I don’t really like dirt under my fingernails and we won’t be living off the grid anytime soon. But we’re already making plans for next year’s garden and I’m looking forward to once again seeing my little guy eat all the raspberries straight from the bush.

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That New Crayon Feeling

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School starts tomorrow.

I don’t get all gooey about school starting because this time of year is always crummy.

We went to buy the school supplies and all of the kids and all of the parents were yelling at each other. About folders. The boys and I manage to complete the mission without incident. Mostly because they’re temporarily feeling that “new school supply buzz.” You know, when you’re all excited because you got to pick out the box of 64 crayons. With the sharpener.

But that “new crayon feeling” doesn’t last long. And before long my youngest has realized that new crayons equals back to school. 

That’s when his tears start. And the sleep gets disrupted.

And not long after his tears, I notice that my oldest is getting a little congested. The annual “back to school cold” has settled in. Every year someone is getting sick right when school starts.

I just want to fast forward three weeks. Skip the transition. Jump right to routine.

I know there’s a life lesson in here somewhere. Some nonsense about tackling things we don’t want to do with a cheerful heart. Or something.

But, I’m not really there yet. You know where I am?

In my kitchen eating the Double-Stuff Oreos I bought for the lunchboxes.

 

 

 

67 Pencils

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About a year or two ago when I was trying to shove socks into one of my TWO sock drawers I suddenly realized I had a sock problem.

I had already devoted two drawers to socks. And I could no longer fit any more in.

And, to be honest, I only actually wore the same handful of socks. The rest just sat there. Getting in the way, annoying me on laundry day.

So, I did a purge. During the purge I discovered that I had six pairs of St. Patrick’s Day socks. Six pairs of socks for one day. And usually that day went by with me forgetting to wear the St. Patrick’s Day socks.

Here’s the kicker though. In my purge, I still kept two pairs of St. Patrick’s Day socks.

I had another of these moments yesterday when a roll of tape got stuck in our junk drawer and shattered, forcing me to clean it out. During the clean up, I found 67 pencils in the drawer. 67 pencils in the kitchen.

So, I’m not great at math, but I’m thinking that the four of us should be set on pencils for the next 900 years.

But, again, in purging the pencils down, I still kept like 20 pencils. And that’s just for the kitchen. When would we ever need 20 pencils at one time? Never.

It seems like an impossible, never-ending task to keep up with all of the stuff that we accumulate, primarily where the kiddos are involved. Goodness, I had to request a second recycling cart from the city to keep up with the amount of paperwork they bring home from school alone.

(If you tell them I recycle their papers, you’re in trouble.)

My kiddos outgrow clothes at an alarming rate. They lose interest in toys. They become emotionally attached to every restaurant placemat they ever colored. They fill their pockets with bottle caps they find in parking lots.

(Are Rubbermaid totes considered home décor? Hope so, because my house is full of them.)

We’re working on it, though. Slowly. And by slowly, I mean s..l..o..w..l..y. It took my six-year-old about an hour to fill the world’s smallest box with about four items he was willing to part with.

Baby steps. With every trunkful I take to the donation center I feel lighter, cleaner, like I can breathe easier.

Look out CD collection. I’m coming for you next. (I haven’t listened to a CD in years. But will still keep a bunch. Ugh. Baby steps.)

 

 

 

Stick Together

It’s been a number of years since my Grandma died.

Through the loss I remember thinking:

What happens to us now?

Because, as you might imagine, she was the glue.

She made the meatballs and roasted the turkeys. She organized the parties and set out the lawn chairs. It was her kitchen we stood in and her table we sat around. We slept on her floor and she was the one waiting to talk to us as we pulled the sleeping bags off.

She was the one who had managed to keep her large brood relatively close to her nest.

But she had done her job. Her life’s work.

The mothering, the tending, the nurturing, the arguing, the laughing, the cooking, the cleaning. The endless list. Our example.

All of that, was so we would stick.

It’s my grandpa’s words that remain with me. The brief words he penned after her passing, knowing that she was the glue.

“Stick together,” he wrote.

 

I am linking up today with Lisa-Jo Baker and 5 Minute Friday. The writing prompt was the word: Glue.

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday. Writer.

My second grader is learning cursive.

And I love everything he writes in cursive, can’t bear to recycle any of it, because it looks like art to me.

I want to wallpaper my house with it. Page after page of cursive letters.

Slowly he’s stringing the cursive letters together to make words. And he’s stringing his words together to make stories. Stories straight from the mind of an eight-year-old. Stories about baseball and racecars and turtles. Stories that are just pure imagination.

I think to myself, “he is a writer.”

I think about myself. Am I a writer?

Deep down, I think I’m really more of a talker than a writer.

It’s just that my voice seems so much stronger when my words come out through my fingertips.

 

I am linking up today with Lisa Jo Baker and 5 Minute Friday. The writing prompt was the word: Writer.