Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Mama, me and Grace got to play together as much as we wanted, it was so much fun, and the park was funny when we were on the slide together, and Grace laughed at me so, I like her house when I went over there a long time ago, and we played in her room, and then we had dress-up so I wore church shoes because I didn't want to have bare feet, because Grace's mom was okay that I wore them, but I didn't ask, but I think it was okay, and I want to wear the special dress when I am there again, but Grace whined about her dress, and I don't think that was nice even though I wanted to wear the one she had, so I can't remember if she has a backyard or not, so I don't remember if we played in it, but I think we might have, but I can't remember, oh yeah, we did play in her backyard after dress up, then I played with her alphabet on her refrigerator while her mom was cooking dinner, because I played with all the letters, even A, G and Y, wow, I am just talking so much to tell you all about it, but now I am tired of talking, so I think I am going to stop for a while.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
creative. I don't think I have met another boy who is able to come up with the degree of ingenuity necessary to pull off his more hair-brained ideas. For example, Caleb decided to test out how well an IKEA reusable bag would work as a parachute. Of course, there is the infamous roof to trampoline story, which you can read here. And don't forget the plan to swing from a rope off the play-set using nothing but his mouth, which ended in the loss of a tooth. He simply takes these minor setbacks in stride, and continues to push the envelope of his creative genius.
agile. At 4 he could skate, unassisted, on a standard skateboard. Riding his bike came naturally, and within moments of his daddy removing the training wheels. He recently learned how to skim-board while at the beach and took to it like, well, a fish to water. He has a natural capacity for hand-eye coordination, which stands him in good stead during any sport he has tried.
loving. Caleb really soaks up the love; he gives it as well. Hugs, compliments and genuine concern are often expressed by him with transparency and thoughtfulness.
entertaining. There is never a dull moment in our house, thanks in large part to our first son. Need a ridiculously absurd knock-knock joke? Caleb's your guy. Want to watch someone sacrifice their body for the gag? Again, Caleb's your guy. Everything from his laugh to his cry can provide an immense amount of valuable entertainment.
boy. Of course. Recently Caleb said something that was typical of his testosterone-washed brain. Bethany and I made the obvious statement in complete unison, "Such a boy." His pain tolerance has nothing to do with his brain tolerance. He impulsively asserts himself in dangerous situations. He asks questions that defy logic. And he insists that he is the man of the house whenever Christopher is away - even to the store.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Leah regularly regales us with stories of her babies, their wounds, and the treatment required for their care. Sometimes the treatment is successful. Sometimes it is not. In fact, a few weeks ago she pointedly announced that her baby was going to die, "because the medicine didn't work."
Our family has grown accustomed to these tales, but tonight's version brought a fresh wave of hilarity to Leah's audience. Bethany whispered to me, "You need to blog that one." She's right.
Mama, did you know my baby needs surgery on her leg?
No, I didn't. What happened?
Well, her leg is broken.
Yep. So she needs to have surgery.
How did she break it?
Well, there was a hook attached to a rope. I had tied the rope to the middle of the street, and I was pulling my baby with the hook. Well, I was pulled into the middle of the street from the rope, and I didn't get run over but my baby did.
Yep. By a monster truck.
And with that, she bounced out of the room.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Walmart store 4488 has a new, improved look. They are calling it a mini-super because it has a substantial grocery section (including fresh produce), but it doesn't quite cover everything. I must admit, I am not a huge fan of Walmart. It's not that I carry a personal vice against the largest majority private employer in the United States. I simply prefer Target as my box store. But, truth be told, I was actually excited when the announcement was made that the mass merchandiser would be moving into my neighborhood. I am all for micro-businesses, definitely preferring organic, locally grown, responsibly managed outfitters who care about all the "right" things. But let's face it, a mom of seven needs a little Walmart once in a while. So, when the home we purchased happened to be 1 mile from the store I was looking at the proximity as a good thing.
That proximity is proving to be useless.
First it was the several months of inconvenience related to the total store makeover. Now, let me clarify my annoyance before you think I am a complainer simply because I had to learn to go to a different part of the store to get that quick gallon of milk. Yes, I had to go to a different part of the store to get my milk. In fact, I had to ask directions every trip I took because the milk, diapers, baby food, pasta and vacuum cleaner bags were always in a different place. Always. Then, there was the frustration associated with Walmart's need to downsize stock in order to make moving merchandise easier. Need oven cleaner? Oops, sorry. We sold out, and aren't ordering any more until the store is completed. And don't try to find nonfat milk, either. That's gone, too.
I worked to roll with the punches. After all, I was being promised that the end would be a newer, better shopping experience. I grew up in retail. My family owned their own business for over 50 years. I can appreciate the need to occasionally make some mess in order to ultimately provide a better product. Unfortunately, my mom doesn't own Walmart.
Well, the newer, better shopping experience began about a month ago. I even picked up a flyer Walmart made especially for the occasion. It contained a map, and a few explanations for some of the changes.
What a piece of propaganda.
Here are a few excerpts from the pamphlet:
Where convenience is everything.
We've always brought you the lowest possible prices. Now we've added more of the products you buy most often - all in one location. Why? So you can save even more time and money.
I realized upon my first newer, better shopping experience that the "products you buy most often" are not the products that I buy most often. Rows upon rows of frozen convenience items, chips and soda were added but try and find a can of chili beans and you are outta luck. In fact, I had no idea there were so many prepackaged, sodium laden, frozen food choices.
Less clutter and clearer aisles make it easier to find just what you're looking for.
At first glance this sentence makes it appear as though Walmart did a total reorganization from their previous store model. In actuality, they simply moved the pallets and cleared the final debris from their months long remodeling project. Then there is the irony that the new store lacks clear signage to guide you in your quest for their "easier to find" products. I recently went looking for coffee for my hubby and finally found it down the "Cookie" aisle next to the small "Tea" subsection. Nothing noted coffee anywhere. I didn't realize coffee was such a speciality item, and not in need of its own sign because of the small number of people purchasing it. After all, don't you see everyone going into Walmart to buy 5 gallon drums of ground tea? I need to note, for my hubby's benefit, that he was not asking me to purchase him one of those 5 gallon drums of ground coffee. He can't stand pre-ground coffee. He was getting ready for a business trip, and needed a few of those Starbucks Via packages.
Lastly, we have my favorite:
We've simplified our assortment to help make your shopping easier. All so you can save money and live better.
This is where the rubber hits the road. Remember in the beginning when I acknowledged that a mother of seven occasionally needs a little Walmart? Things like diapers, lotion, and eye drops are nice to grab a mere 3 minutes away from home. And I must admit, my choices have definitely been simplified. There isn't much guess work to be had between no baby food and... no baby food. Okay, maybe that's a slight exaggeration. But seriously, it's WALMART for crying out loud. Isn't that where you should expect to find a plethora of baby food choices, diaper sizes and styles, cleaning supplies, and all manner of health and beauty selections? I have one, maybe two options to chose from in order to allow mass amounts of square footage to be devoted to Pancho's Pizza Packages in cheese, pepperoni, sausage, combo, vegetarian, and seven other extra high cholesterol varieties.
It's time for me to go back to Target.
Friday, September 17, 2010
bubbly. We used to joke that Bethany's middle name was so aptly chosen for her because she really did bring us Joy each and every day. She still does. Bethany works hard to find the brighter side of life in just about every circumstance. She has a great laugh, and shares it readily.
early. Especially of the bird variety. No one in our home willingly gets up as early as Bethany. She loves those quiet hours in the morning when the house is still.
thrifty. I think the penchant for earning, saving and spending frugally has found a secure home in the heart of my second-born. She could figure out a way to spend $1.50 on two items at the Dollar Store. Bethany keeps me in the loop on current sales, circulars and adds relevant to our home.
humane. We have rescued injured rabbits, birds and insects. Our family picks up children for events, brings cards and meals to the sick, and more all as a result of Bethany's penchant for the destitute. I can only wonder at the altruistic activities she will be involved in once she has her own transportation.
artistic. Whether it is a drawing, a piece of music, or theatre Bethany is our family's lover of the arts. She sings, dances, paints and sculpts. Her handwriting was beautiful before she even really knew how to write because she treated writing like drawing, carefully crafting her letters to be distinct and lovely.
nurturing. Simply stated, she is the second mom in the house. Bethany is adept at cuddling babies, helping cook and managing the emotional ups and downs of her younger siblings. She really cares when one of her brothers or sisters is hurt, and works to find a solution for comforting them regardless of what it costs her.
youthful. I chose this word not because Bethany is "only" 9. I chose youthful to sum up a part of her character that I find lovely - her transparency. Many adolescents at her age are already starting to pretend they are something they are not - older, more mature, more experienced, more... Not my girl! I am proud of her willingness to be exactly how God made her.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Once upon a time people used language with respect, deference, and even a little bit of awe. I adore the scene in My Fair Lady where Henry Higgins denounces Eliza Doolittle's deplorable vocabulary. And she wasn't even using filthy curse words! But our society has lost so much appreciation for healthy communication that it must resort to the same handful of loathsome obscenities for virtually all its dialogue. There are literally millions of words aching for the opportunity to make themselves useful, but I consistently overhear the youth of today resort to a single 4-letter word to describe:
an adjective of shock
an exclamation of joy
a noun of filth
a verb for jesting
Really? You can't come up with something even slightly more original? The real shocker is that these same boys and girls feel their awesome use of vocabulary grants them mastery over the English language. Well, I guess children will push the envelope of appropriate behavior in their ongoing battle to define themselves. Except, where are these children coming into such consistent contact with flippantly abusive language?
Oh, that's right... adults.
For every teenage boy I hear spouting off defamatory curse words to establish his prowess with the Burger King drive-through waitress there are at least half a dozen adult men and women doing the same thing.
And, might I add, shame on them.
Remember the old school rule of thumb for mixed company: If you can't say it to your grandmother then maybe you shouldn't say it? I want to bring back that rule. I am tired of knowing that the only place I am guaranteed to hear civil language from the beginning of an exchange to the last is the President of the United States' State of the Union Address, and my children's puppet shows. Just about everything in between seems fair game.
Now, before anyone slings me with mud for being an overly demanding moralist let me elucidate my gravest concerns. I do not become personally irate when I inadvertently overhear a private conversation which uses words I find vulgar and distasteful. I have my doubts about the honor of such vocabulary being used in public places where it can be overheard, but really it isn't any of my business. My issue arises from the shameless manner in which recognized curse words are bandied about as though every human over the age of 14 desires to be initiated into the fraternal bond of coarse slang.
I do not.
I do not want a five-minute conversation to qualify as grounds for "language-intimacy." Frankly, if it involves the use of unnecessarily graphic or odious jargon then a lifetime of conversation does not qualify it.
Professor Henry Higgins to Eliza Doolittle:
Eliza, you are to stay here for the next six months learning to speak beautifully, like a lady in a florist's shop. If you work hard and do as you're told, you shall sleep in a proper bedroom, have lots to eat, and money to buy chocolates and go for rides in taxis. But if you are naughty and idle, you shall sleep in the back kitchen amongst the black beetles, and be wolloped by Mrs. Pearce with a broomstick. At the end of six months you will be taken to Buckingham Palace, in a carriage, beautifully dressed. If the king finds out you are not a lady, you will be taken to the Tower of London, where your head will be cut off as a warning to other presumptuous flower girls! But if you are not found out, you shall have a present... of, ah... seven and six to start life with as a lady in a shop. If you refuse this offer, you will be the most ungrateful, wicked girl, and the angels will weep for you.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Everyone needs acclamation from time to time. Being told that you are special, appreciated and loved can give your morale such a necessary boost - even for those whose primary love language doesn't include words of affirmation. I always want to make sure those closest to me know how much I adore them! You simply can't overstate your unconditional love. So, I thought I would make an acrostic for each of my children, and my husband, to communicate publicly my affection.
I'll start with my beloved husband.
clean. Not just cleanliness from showering, although that's nice too, but a cleanliness of the mind. Christopher doesn't use off-color humor, foul language, or inappropriate references in any of his communication. He honors and respects others with words that edify.
helpful. For anyone new to the block, we have seven children. That's a lot of diapers. That's a lot of dishes. That's a lot of everything. Christopher isn't squeamish about getting his hands dirty with the business of our life. Rather than passing off the responsibility to the womenfolk, he readily helps me.
responsible. I am consistently amazed at my husband's ongoing dedication to provide for his family. Most mornings find him awake hours before anyone else in the house. He takes on the inconvenience of going early to work so he can be home sooner. And he never complains about the financial responsibility placed on his shoulders as a result of our family size, or our decision to keep me at home.
intelligent. Christopher is just plain smart!
strong. Recently, the two of us were talking about how important it is for a man to feel strong - not just physically, but mentally, emotionally and spiritually as well. Christopher has all four in spades. He exercises discipline in his physical workouts. He grows spiritually strong through his personal devotion to Christ. His humility develops his emotional fortitude. And his willingness to be a life-long learner ensures his mental acuteness.
tender. This daddy loves to snuggle with all his children. He doesn't dismiss his sons from needing his physical touch. He listens to each of the girls' make-believe stories with the appropriate expression of pure rapture. Holding a baby is second nature to him.
open. Christopher is disarmingly honest. He doesn't hide behind false pretenses, or play games to curry favor with people. He is the real deal.
playful. I don't think I have met someone more willing to get silly. Laughter is his second language, and he uses it liberally. He loves to look for the comedy in life, and truly appreciates the absurd. His children's jokes can have him laughing for hours. Just ask him about the bone guy.
harmonious. Christopher is much better than I am at being a peacemaker. He doesn't pout or act like a child if his feelings are hurt, but speaks his thoughts so that we can maintain open lines of communication. He is willing to quickly acknowledge when he is wrong, and repents with sincerity so there can be reconciliation.
enjoyable. I simply love hanging out with him. Whether it is staying home, going on a date, or even running errands the time spent with him just flies. His conversational style is effortless, and his interest in what's important for me is equal to his willingness to share from his own life.
relaxed. Ever the optimist, he balances my tendency to think the worst when things aren't going my way. His easy-going style keeps him from getting quickly overwhelmed by our houseful of children, even when I sneak away for a weekend alone! He knows how to spend a quiet evening at home; while his adventurer heart loves a good road trip he is equally at ease in our living room.
Friday, September 03, 2010
Bethany is learning to cook. And, truth be told, she has a definite knack for it. Her favorite is eggs. She has learned to scramble them something delicious. Her younger brothers are quite smitten with them. Most mornings now find her cooking eggs for at least Josiah and Caleb, but she often offers them to her daddy and me!
Here is the menu she created to help us in our selections.
Wednesday, September 01, 2010
I am learning to streamline some of the training that goes into parenting. The more children we have the more necessary it becomes to have a system that can manage details without my constant intervention. With that in mind I created the Buy-Back Box. Pure genius, if I do say so myself. It has alleviated a huge amount of angst in me, and my home is suddenly de-cluttered and clean. Let me explain.
Once upon a time my children were asked to clean up their belongings. They went about their task with relative ease, and in just a few short minutes completed their chore. Well, completed might be a strong word for what they accomplished - namely, half of the necessary cleaning. So, I reminded them to finish the job. They went about their task with slight murmurings, but in just a few short minutes had completed their chore. Well, completed might be a strong word to use for what they accomplished - namely, three-quarters of the necessary cleaning. So, I reminded them to finish the job. They went about their task with thinly veiled sighs and groans, but in just a few short minutes had completed their chore. Well, completed might be a strong work for what they accomplished...
I stepped on a Littlest Pet Shop toy (read: roofing tack) as I headed to bed.
Normally I would seriously debate waking the whole house for a stern lecture while fuming over the negligence of my children. Of course waking Phoebe to prove a point about diligence would only make my night worse, so I usually settled for putting the toy away myself and then reminding my children the following day about their gross misbehavior. The result was often blank stares, muffled apologies, and a general acceptance of the need to, "do it better next time."
The next time went something startlingly similar to the first time.
After three or four of these cycles I would finally reach my breaking point and declare war on all the clutter in the house. Kids were sent scurrying for every stray toy under every bed. The outside, inside and underside of the house was straightened, vacuumed and polished. I ruthlessly threw the detritus of their childhood into the garbage. I ranted about cleanliness, thoroughness and several other obligatory "ness"es known to be so effective in these parental tirades. It felt wonderful.
The problem was my ridiculous notion that I had actually effected real change in my children. All you seasoned parents out there can now stop laughing at me. Eventually I came to recognize the simple fact that my temper tantrums were simply not aiding in getting the job done. Something needed to change. So, I instituted the Buy-Back Box.
And peace is reigning in my home.