Monday, May 30, 2011

She's A Little Runaway

We had an eventful day here yesterday. The girls are trying to get Aaron to either knock on their door, or ask them before barging into their room. This seems reasonable to me, yet so funny, considering the girls still barge in on me oftentimes. In any case, Zoe and Talia get frustrated with Aaron's inability to remember that he should knock. And yesterday, even though I reminded Aaron to knock or ask politely, the little red tornado blew through their room.

Zoe's response? She got very angry and slammed the door in his face. Tim was upstairs, I was not. He immediately ordered both girls to come downstairs and sit for a few minutes. His meaning was clear: Zoe needed to cool off and think about what she did, and Talia should think about what she didn't do -- stopping Zoe from possibly hurting Aaron.

Talia walked down the stairs nicely. Zoe did not. Zoe pounded down the stairs, and when she got to the living room, knocked several things to the ground. I asked her to come into the kitchen to see me, and she grudgingly came in, and announced herself by saying: "WHAT?"

I was tired. If you keep up with this blog you know I hadn't slept. My throat was sore, so I couldn't yell, and I didn't want to anyway. Instead, I told her she could sit for a few, and that she had now chosen to work her way through the morning. She needed to prove to me she could behave and do what I ask before we headed out to a barbeque that afternoon.

Zoe sat, and then I gave her the list of things to do:
1. Clean up the living and family rooms.
2. Clean up their bedroom.
3. Fold and put away the laundry.
4. Make the salad for the barbeque.

Numbers 1 and 2 were feats in and of themselves. The kids tend to take a bunch of things out on the weekends and we were in the thick of Sunday. She noisily started to put things away, and actually did a very good job.

I checked on Zoe's progress when she was upstairs. It was nearing lunchtime, and I wondered if she was hungry. I might be a mean lady, but I didn't want her to miss lunch. She told me she wasn't hungry, and then proceeded to put more of her things away upstairs. Soon thereafter, Zoe came down with a box, her Raggedy Ann doll, and a small blanket. She put it in the corner of the foyer.

Me: What is that? Shouldn't it go into your room?
Her: I am running away.
Me: Where are you going to go?
Her: I don't know.
Me: Do you really want to do this? Do you have what you need?
Her: I don't know.

My heart was breaking, but at the same time, I was laughing inside. Zoe was so sincere in her desire to runaway, but clearly, she had not thought this decision through. Or maybe she had, but at a nine year old level, not a late thirties level. And this was new territory for me and Tim. We didn't have time to discuss how to handle this. Would we be able to pull it off?

Me: Zoe, you can runaway if you want to, but it is going to be hot today. You should eat lunch before you go, since you won't know the next time you will be able to eat.
Zoe: Okay.
Me: And while you are eating, please make a list of what is good about running away, and what is good about staying home. That way, you can make an informed decision.
Zoe: Okay.

I got her lunch ready, and Zoe sat down to write. In the meantime, Aaron and Talia were truly worried that Zoe would leave. I told each of them that they might be the best to combat her leaving. I don't know if they mentioned that they didn't want her to go or not, but I encouraged them to do so. I told Tim that if she left, he needed to follow her on his bike.

Zoe quietly ate lunch and then showed me her list. For the record, if I had a scanner, I would scan the image in. And perhaps I just will, so that Zoe can see this later on. If nothing else, I am putting it in her keepsake box in the basement.

Zoe's List

1 No rules 1 Rules
2 No cleaning 2 Cleaning
3 No one to bother me 3 People bothering me
4 Strangers 4 No strangers
5 Not very safe 5 Safe
6 Not very good food 6 Good food
7 No Mommy and Daddy 7 Mommy and Daddy
8 No family 8 Family
9 No music 9 Music
10 No one to talk to 10 People to talk to
11 No jokes 11 Jokes
12 No water or juice 12 Water and juice
13 Nobody to help me 13 People to help me
14 No hugs or kisses 14 Hugs and kisses
15 No Doctor Who 15 Doctor Who

16 Good beds

I especially like #16. And #6. Good food? All relatively speaking. She just might be able to find better food out there, but I didn't tell her.

After all that work, she then put all the good things from the first list together (only #s 1 and 2, according to her) and all the good things from the second list together (everything but #s 1 and 2). By the end of the exercise, she decided to stay where all the good things are, which is at home. But I had to figure that out. She wrote out the word HOME in the style of hang-man, but with numbers instead of letters. The numbers, of course, corresponded to the letter's place in the alphabet. So instead of telling me she was actually staying home, she wrote 8 15 13 5.

Sunday, May 29, 2011


I have been up since 1:23 am. I just now came downstairs.

Here is what I have done to battle my insomnia:
1. Stayed in bed and closed my eyes.
2. Used the restroom and brushed my teeth (I'd already done all of this before going to bed).
3. Finished my book.
4. Rested in the lounge chair in our room.
5. Wondered why I wasn't sleeping.

I am not a fan of not sleeping, especially when there is no real cause. Kid sick? That is a cause for not sleeping. Thankfully, the children are all mostly healthy. I do have a sore throat that just might be strep, but I wouldn't have thought that it would keep me awake.

I don't have anything witty to say right now. I just wanted to say a big hello to other insomniacs that I know. Hopefully you have gone back to sleep and will read this in the morning.

In the meantime, I hear Melina calling. So much for trying to get back to sleep.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Body Image

Apparently, how I view my body and how my kids view my body are two completely different things.

Me: I have a little extra skin from the pregnancies, but overall, I am in pretty good shape.
Them: Your belly looks like bread dough.

Me: My back-end, while still too flat to fill out the jeans, isn't too bad at my age.
Them: Mom, your bum jiggles.

Me: Varicose veins? Yep, I have them. But they could be worse. And I got kids in return.
Them: What are those bruises on your legs? They are purple!

Me: My boobs have sagged and deflated a bit from nursing four children.
Them: You could use band-aids for a bra, mom.

I think kids can do some real damage to a person's body image, don't you think?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


A closed door usually means KEEP OUT!
Not in this house,
Where all rooms flow into one.
Can I please have some privacy? I plead,
As the littlest giggles and runs away.
I shut the door, quietly,
Knowing that in 30 seconds
Someone will open it again,
Exposing the room to the neighbors,
Due to the view left there by the windows.
Which is why,
When I use the loo,
I pee in the dark.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Melina and I spent this rainy, cold morning mostly at home today. We listened to some music, we drank some tea (Melina likes peppermint and Chai teas, as do I), and we painted.

While I was in the kitchen putting some things together for lunch, Melina was amusing herself in the living room.

All of a sudden, she runs into the kitchen and says, "Mom! One time, Zoe was wearing pants!"
She looked up at me expectantly. I wasn't sure what she wanted, so I said, "NO WAY! Really?!?"
She just smiled, said "Yes!" and walked away, laughing hysterically.

Okay, I know why I found the whole thing funny, but why did she?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Wake Up Calls

A week ago, I fell asleep on the living room couch at about 7:30 pm. You might think that makes sense, considering I work at home full time, teach part time, and have children and animals. However, while I do go to sleep early many nights, falling asleep at that time of the night is akin to napping -- something I really can't do. Ever. Unless I have just given birth. Clearly, I have not done that since 2008.

The week had not been that full, nor had that day, and I hadn't over caffeinated myself (too much caffeine drives me down, not up). What was the problem then, you ask? After much thinking, I pinpointed the problem: my sugar intake, most likely simple and refined sugars.

That is my friend, Glucose, above. Isn't it lovely?

I happen to be a sweet fiend. I like most (well-made and tasty) sugary treats, and I absolutely love ice cream. With all the Easter candy we have floating around here, I have been catching myself dipping into the pot. Several times a day. Then, at the end of the day, some ice cream sounds nice, too. I am pretty certain I'd been ingesting too much sugar for too many days. I was practically comatose as I pulled myself off of that couch, and the feeling shook me up and woke me up. Glucose, my friend, you are out!

So, this week I have tried my best to limit my intake of sugar. I declined a bit of Russian pastry that Tim offered, and I had only a small bite of Melina's chocolate ice cream. Yesterday, I had a peppermint patty. Today I have had zero sugary treats. I plan on trying to make it all the way through the day without one.

I was putting Melina down for a nap today, when I heard the front door open and shut. First off, I figured that Aaron had gone outside. Not a problem, but if he is going to be in the front yard by himself, I prefer to be downstairs. Playing in the backyard, with the dog, when I am upstairs is fine. Then, I heard the dog frantically barking.

I excused myself from reading to Melina to go investigate. As I was opening the door, there was a knock. On our porch was a very large man. Someone I knew, but Aaron did not. Aaron was in the front yard, by the tree.

I spoke to the man and then called to Aaron. I brought him inside and we had the following conversation:

Me: Do you know that man?
Aaron: No.
Me: Should you be outside with a man you don't know?
Aaron: No.
Me: Should you be in the front yard by yourself if I am not downstairs?
Aaron: No.
Me: Did you go outside before the man arrived?
Aaron: Yes.
Me: If a man you don't know arrives when you are outside by yourself, what should you do?
Aaron: I don't know.

This poor kid was probably wondering why I was a little perturbed. I would have been more perturbed if I didn't know the man on the porch. I explained, gently to the little red head that there are people out there that can be mean. I reminded him of a self-defense class that he attended, where they learned what to do about strangers. I informed him that if a person arrives that he doesn't know, he should come in and find me -- right away! I didn't want to scare the kid, but sheesh!

To the man's credit, he did knock on the door because he figured I wouldn't want my child out there with someone he didn't know. Thank goodness it was him instead of someone else!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

I didn't get to shout out a Happy Mother's Day to all of you, but I hope those of you who are mothers had a great day, and I hope you remembered your own mom in some way.

This year was a Mother's Day to remember. In a good way, I guess.

Melina and I are always up early. But at 6:30 am, while she and I are on the couch reading, I hear activity overhead. Aaron? Perhaps. He usually strolls down way before 6:30 am, but perhaps he was tired, and therefore didn't start stirring until that time. The tread on the hardwood floor sounded pretty loud, though, and Shadow doesn't go upstairs. All of a sudden, Tim is in the living room. For Tim to be awake at that time, and downstairs, something must have happened, or is happening.

Now, I was aware that the kids all made gifts at school. And, a packet arrived from Grandma M the other day (perhaps with cards inside), so I figured that at some point, the children would be putting forth their homemade gifts. But at 6:30 am, on a Sunday? Indeed.

Zoe, Talia, and Aaron peeked around the corner of the kitchen, and then promptly presented me with a package wrapped in a blanket. Inside the package?

1. A gift from Aaron: complete with a coupon book and scented potpourri. He also had a little paper that said: Mommy smiles when...I help her pull the weeds (he had added that last part). In addition, there was a store card that was very cute (probably bought by Grandma M -- thanks!).

2. A gift from Zoe: A purple lunch bag that was decorated with flowers and hearts, and inside, a recipe for a perfect mom. She also made a large clip for the refrigerator from a paint stirrer and some clothespins. Shiny and cool. A store card was there, too.

3. A gift from Talia: A book of poems, all written by her, plus a homemade card, and a of course, the store card. The poems were great! Some were funny, some were silly, all were Talia, and they made me smile.

Melina had let me sleep until almost 6 am, so that was gift enough from her.

Overall, the day was a good one. Everyone behaved at the grocery store, bathtime wasn't a chore, and dinner was delicious (they made pasta and salad). I pitched in by making the bread. No one else has used the bread machine to make dough before, so I let Tim know I'd make it if they wanted to have bread. I had to do cleanup, but I prefer to do the dishes so that they get done the way I want them to. Micromanager? Maybe.

The funniest thing of the day? When I pulled out the dough from the oven, where it had been rising, Talia said, "Mom. It looks like your belly." She's right. Twins + 2 other kids = much extra skin. Ah well, they are worth it!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

All About Words

Melina knows the correct name for most things. However, she doesn't always get it right when she tries to speak of those things:

1. We have an old Pillsbury Doughboy (it was mine when I was little). She won't admit that title is truly his name. To her, he is The Frosting Boy.

2. Yesterday, Melina was watching The Magic School Bus. It was an episode about the Rain Forest. She saw a parrot and yelled, "Carrot!"

3. Today, we were making some elbow noodles. Sometimes we call them moon noodles, since they are crescent shaped. She looked up at me and said, "Mom, when are those arm noodles going to be done?" I politely informed her that yes, her elbow was a part of her arm, but the noodles go by the name of elbows.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Talk: Part II

Question and answer time with Zoe and Talia.

Zoe: Why do you have so many sperm cells?
Me: Because they have to make such a long trip, most of them die before they even get to the egg.

Me: How big are they [sperm cells]?
Me: They're tiny. You'd need a microscope to see them.

Then the girls asked whether or not I can feel them wriggling as they, um, leave me. I don't think the word "ejaculate" is part of their vocabulary yet. No, I answered, they're so small I don't feel their tails swishing or anything.

Z&T weren't clear on how long sperm cells persisted. I explained that three different packets (didn't know what else to call them) of sperm cells that were delivered at three different times were involved in making them, Aaron, and Melina.

Talia: So, nine months before Melina was born, you and mommy did it?
Me: Yes, we did.
Talia: But we were ALIVE then!

Zoe: So do you do it in the bathroom?
Me: No, we don't.
Zoe: In the water?
Me: No. Some people do, but not mommy and me.
Zoe: In your room?
Me: Yes, there.
Talia: When?
Me: After you guys go to bed.
Talia: But when, exactly?
Me: I'm not telling you because you two will want to sneak in on us.

That brought about a fit of giggles. I'm pretty sure that I found them out on that last question.
And a completely different talk this morning:

Melina: I like bacon. Daddy, do you like bacon?
Me: No.
Melina: Daddy, you should give bacon a try. Bacon is really yummy.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Talk

I just had "The Talk" with the girls. They already knew alot about the care and keeping of their bodies, and a good deal about anatomical parts. The only reason I had this talk tonight is that they specifically asked how the ingredient from the man got into the woman. I tried to keep it quite scientific, and without too many unnecessary details. When I told them how the sperm got into the woman's body, they simultaneously flung their bodies against the couch and said, "Disgusting!" Great. Keep thinking that, ladies!

When I was putting them to bed, we then had the following conversation:

Zoe: Did you and Daddy do that?
Me: Um. Yes. We do have four kids, don't we?
Talia: Then you did it four times? No, wait. You have us. You only did it three times, right?
Me: Okay, we need to finish this conversation another time. Get into bed.

Lazy Running

I have been running for 20 years. It is hard to believe that it has been that long, but it has. I have never been a fast runner. My best 5K (3.1 miles) time was something just over 22 minutes, which translates to about 7 minutes, 15 seconds per mile. That time was fast for me, but for my friend, who ran the race at a 6:23 pace, the time was quite slow. The actual record for a 5K run by a woman on the outdoor track is 14:11:15. Yikes. You can see why, in the running world, I might actually be considered a recreational jogger. I am of the opinion, though, that it doesn't matter what pace you are keeping, as long as you are moving.

When I was younger, my long runs were 10 miles or more, and I actually got out to run 6 days a week. Grad school work could wait, but running couldn't. I can't say the same about the kids. Gee, kids, I need to go run. Help yourself to working the stove and getting dinner. Can you imagine? Not yet, but maybe soon. So, these days, when I am teaching, I only get out to run 3 times a week, and my long run sits at probably about 6 or 6.5 miles. My pace? I don't really know. But lately, with so much rain, I have been getting on the treadmill; I have been forced to move my feet in the lovely and boring environment of our dark basement.

My time on the treadmill has been eye opening. I just realized today that I have become -- what I will call -- a lazy runner. That might seem like an oxymoron, but really, it isn't. I challenged myself to run faster today, and I did it. No problems. Yes, I glistened with more sweat, and my breath came a bit faster, but the overall work out was incredible. And, it wasn't that hard! I think I have been heading out for a run, sticking to the same routes I've run for years, and just not challenging myself. How much good am I doing, if I am not pushing myself a little? Mentally, I am doing a ton of good. Running is my therapy, and as long as I am out there, I get my batteries recharged. But the ticker needs to be maintained, and pushing myself just a little, might be the extra medicine this old body needs.

The quarter is up for me at the end of May, and I have all summer to try to sneak in another day of running and possibly extending those long runs to 75 or 90 minutes. The challenge is set. I'll see if I am up for it.

Melina moment of the day:

Me: When you take a nap, you will need to wear a little sweater to cover your arms.
Melina: Well, Cinderella doesn't wear anything over her dresses.
Me: When it is cold, she does.
Melina: Oh.

This child loves to dress up. Frequent clothing changes occur each day, and she had on a pink, sleeveless dress. That usually would be fine in May, but it is currently 45 degrees and rainy outside. In my opinion (and because I am the mom), it is a little chilly.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Homeschooling (and Bones)

I have a friend, currently expecting number 6 in the Fall, who homeschools. My sister homeschools for preschool. Tim has a coworker who's wife homeschools all of their children. I have thought about homeschooling in the past, but I just didn't think I could handle it. Furthermore, I thought the twins especially would benefit from the social interaction that public school provides.

Recently, however, I have been revisiting the idea of actually homeschooling the kids. Why? I love our schools, and I love the teachers, but I do think our educational system lacks many things. I consistently complain to Tim about one thing or another, and I often supplement the kids' learning at home. This subject could of course be another whole post, but I don't feel like going into all of my thoughts about the US educational system. Do I think that I could give them a better education? Yes, I really do think that I can for many subjects. And therefore, I just might.

I can't fathom having my act together in order to teach these kids at home in the fall. So, I plan on doing the following. First, I am going to speak with my friend with the almost 6 kids, and see what she finds are the pros and cons of homeschooling. I also plan on talking to a student of mine who was successfully home schooled. I know that she truly enjoyed the experience, and feels that her parents did it "the right way." Finally, I obtained a name from colleague at work of a woman that worked full-time and still home schooled all of her children. I'd love to hear how she did it all, and what worked best for her family. I am particularly interested in what she has to say, considering I don't have any plans to leave teaching.

As of right now, I am just gathering information, but I am going to teach the kids religious education next year at home, instead of sending them to the program through our church. I figure it is my foray into the homeschool method, and just a dip might give me a taste of what the experience is like. I'll obviously update you on my progress, or lack thereof!

And just a Melina funny that I had to share.

We've been snuggling for a bit before nap and bedtime. She likes to put her head against mine and pretend we are sleeping. Last week, she placed her hand against my breast.

Melina: Your breast is soft. And squishy.
Me: Yep, it is squishy.
Melina: MOM! [Her eyes are wide open, with a look of alarm on them.] You have no bones!!

This kid keeps us in stitches. I kid you not.