Friday, April 27, 2007

My humiliating morning....

I should start off by saying that we are new homeowners. We bought this house, our first house, three years ago. Before that point I've always lived in apartments. And so has John. And when you live in an apartment and something isn't working right, you call the maintenance guy and he comes and waves his magic wand and makes it all right again. So there are certain things that people think we just *know*, that we just learned somehow buy osmosis,,,but because of our lack of home ownership experience and our completely un-handy nature we really *don't know* the fact that trees have to be trimmed back so the branches don't lay on your roof, that lawnmowers need to be tuned up like a car and have their blades sharpened, that you shouldn't pour grease down a sink or put potato peels in the garbage disposal, that refrigerator coils need to be cleaned, and that they have drip pans underneath them that catch drips for a reason and if you have a really old refrigerator that leaks often and you don't empty this pan you will have ooky stuff leaking out from under your refrigerator. All of these things, and many more, have made for some embarrassing visits with various repairmen...but this morning was the worst. The bathroom sink in our main bathroom has been running more and more slowly until it finally clogged up completely. I tried various dranos/liquid plumber concoctions with no results at all. This morning I finally called a plumber. We have plumbers over frequently. This is an old house, and all old houses have their issues...with this one, it's the plumbing. Anyway, every time I've called them I'm lucky if I can get them out here the same day. But this time when I called first thing this morning they said that yes, they would be able to make it out today. I was expecting them some time in the afternoon. Jack is sick today and so we were having a slow and lazy morning. I sat to finish my coffee and told Maria to get dressed and then straighten up the bathroom for me. I planned to mosey upstairs and get a shower myself at some point. My house was a wreck like it tends to be by the end of the week, and I figured I'd start straightening up as best I could and finish up during Jack's nap, well in time for the plumber to show. Well, lo and behold, the plumber shows up 20 minutes after I called. Nobody was dressed. Jack, in fact, who is currently just starting potty training, was completely naked. The house was, of course, still a wreck. I felt completely embarrassed and bum-like. But gets better. He disappears into the bathroom for about 5 minutes, them comes out and says he's done. He brings me back into the bathroom to show me that the little drain plug in the sink actually can be *removed completely* from the sink, and in fact should removed every so often because it was completely encased in a goopy, nasty hair clog that no doubt has been accumulating for at least three years. And then I paid him $88.64 for enlightening me.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

And this, boys and girls, is why we homeschool...

"5th Graders Face Charges for Classroom Sex"

And see, it's not even the "classroom sex" part that throws me. I mean, it's horrifying but not surprising to me that stuff like this happens. I, personally, watched two kids have sex on the back of the school bus when I was in 7th grade. What irks me the most is the closing comment---

""When the kids are at school, they (the parents) relinquish all responsibility to the administration. We can't do anything but look into what goes on at home," Buckley told the Shreveport Times."

We relinquish all responsibility of our children. That's it in a nutshell, isn't it? I don't *want* anyone else taking responsibility for my children.


I had to leave this post short due to the morning rush and wanted to come back to it. When I made the above comments, it was not an attack on the school. This, for me, is about the parents. When people talk about their reasons for homeschooling, they often mention problems with the schools...bad experiences they've had with teachers, with administrators, with the system itself... We lack a horror story. Maria liked school and did well until the last few months she was there, and even then her problems were due to her own language learning issues that needed more individualized attention. There were things I didn't like, to be sure...and I think there would have been more serious issues as Maria got older...but overall our experience was pretty positive. Now we have Kain in school, and his teacher is worthy of know, if she were Catholic and all. :) We homeschool for several different reasons, but one of the biggies is Other People's Children. There is a wave of lousy parenting out there, and these parents are not only taking down their own children but many others as well. These five particular children managed scandalize a whole classroom full of kids, not to mention the torrents of gossip that are sure to wash over the school in the days to come. Indeed, kids in school are exposed all the time to oversexualization, bullies, violence... Homeschooling allows me to have greater influence over the kinds of friends my children have and the kind of garbage they are exposed to. Yes, there are great kids with great parents in public school...but there are a lot of tragedies out there as well, and public schools by their nature are a net for these kids. I think the vast majority of school teachers to an admirable job trying to deal with troubled kids, and I'm sure they do make a difference for some of them. But generally speaking, the best school in the world isn't going to make up for lousy parents. Are homeschooled kids all Beaver Cleaver wanna-be's? No. But they are generally a well behaved, and dare I say it?, *well socialized* group. And if there is a family that causes me concern, we have the option of not socializing with them.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

For my boys in the house...

Posted on my local homeschool group list....

Boys in my House

Author: Erin Jo Kilmer

There are boys in my house – and Spiderman shoes
And 200 papers in various blues.
There's Bob (he's a builder) and Thomas the Train,
There's a fireman coat to wear in the rain.
They have cars on their shirts and frogs on their hats
There's a glove and a ball and a red plastic bat.
There's dirt on a face and a smudge on a nose;
Grass stains on knees and sand between toes.
There's bathtime at night with bodies to scrub,
And when we're all done there is dirt in the tub!
There's bandaids and bruises and curious bumps,
There's smiles and laughter and sometimes there's grumps.
There's odors most icky; there's boogers so green
There's more yucky things than I'll ever get clean.
There's piles of laundry; there's stories at night;
There's bedtime and bathtime and dinnertime fights.
There's cars and there's trains and there's books about trucks
There's Scoop, Lofty, Dizzy, and Travis, and Muck.
Sometimes there are bugs, and sometimes there are frogs;
Sometimes they are lions, or dinos, or dogs.
There are cute little vests and darling neckties
Dragged right through the mud – oh what a surprise!
There's running and climbing and jumping and falling
And laughing and crying and hugging and brawling
And rolling and losing and finding and creeping
And whining and stealing and sometimes there's sleeping.
There's tantrums and time outs and extra loud noise –
There's love in my house shaped like two little boys.

Sunday, April 22, 2007


I stole this meme. It is circling the land o blogs and just looked fun and easy. :) Entropy has tagged me with another that I swear I will do, but it requires more brain power than I posess at the moment.

When was the last time you....

1. kissed someone? I was just smooching on Jack about 30 seconds ago. Probably not what the author of this meme had in mind. :) I'm fairly certain I kissed John this morning before he left for work. No, I don't consider it sad that I don't know for sure. It was 6am and pre-coffee after all.

2. drank coffee? This morning after mass.

3. read a book? I was reading "365 day of manners", or something similarly titled, something I'm thinking of using with the children. Oh, you mean a grown up book....I'm just starting Swimming with Scapulars. Yes, I do read un-Catholic books occasionally,,,,just not lately. :)

4. cursed? Oh my...there's really no telling. I don't remember cursing today. lol...I'm quite certain I did yesterday when I was traipsing through the house for the fourth time looking for something we forgot to load in the car before making the trip to see my parents.

5. had a nightmare? Oh, I had a nightmare a couple of weeks ago that my husband was looking at online porn!! Isn't that terrible?! I don't usually have nightmares.

6. checked your email? Just a few minutes ago.

7. had a crush? A crush as in swooning over some guy I barely know? I don't get crushes. I really don't, I rarely did even as a kid. My last crush would have been my boss at the fast food dive I worked at when I was in high school. He was a very sweet family man, and even then that was the kind of guy I was attracted to. :)

8. drove a car? To mass, this morning.

9. rode a roller coaster? Four years ago, at Disney World. The carnival ones scare me.

10. took a nap? This afternoon. It's Sunday man. Gotta nap.

11. went to the movies? Wow. It's been a long time. I think when the last Harry Potter came out. Toddlers and movies don't mix.

12. drank alcohol? Other than communion wine? :) Um...gosh, we don't do that a lot around here. It's a dry county and generally requires more effort than it's worth to us. I know we had Irish cream at Christmas. It seems like someone bought some wine at some point maybe, but I couldn't swear it one way or the other.

13. went to a party? Kain's birthday party in February.

14. said “I love you"? To Jack when I was smooching on him.

15. cooked a meal? I cooked pan roasted chicken and potatoes Thursday. That's right. Thursday! Friday we spent with my grandmother, and yesterday with my mother. :)

16. exercised? I made a dozen trips back and forth hauling water to water all the flowers and tomato plants today. That's exercise, right?

update on New Year's in April

Well, here's an update on how we have been doing on our new healthy eating changes.
I have been terrible about posting the menus on smallthings, but we have been eating much better anyway...real food, real cooking. As for the water, that was much better for several days...then we had a couple of days of being out of town and I drank way too much soda again...but I still drank plenty of water! It really does make a difference. When I feel that late afternoon drag, downing some water makes me feel so much better so fast that I realize I must be dehydrated far too often.

My next habit to tackle is far more painful...exercise. Yuckity yuck yuck. I'm sorry...I don't get the whole exercise thing. It's boring and sweaty and it's a pain to make time for one more thing in my day. I know it's supposed to make you feel great and all, but honestly, it just makes me feel tired. And hungry. Maybe exercise feels good for thin people. When you are fat enough, nothing about exercise feels good! I see people out running in the summer heat with their Ipods and their nifty exercise clothes and I think...."ugh, what would possess someone to do such a thing?" I know, runner's high and all of that...but are we really sure that someone just didn't make up that "runner's high" thing? Because they don't *look* like they feel very good. They *look* like they are dying. Anyway, I know the exercise is necessary, and it'll get easier, blah blah blah. So I am going to work on improving my attitude and get ready to take that habit on in time for my next "day in the life" coming up fast on May 1st.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

interview meme

These questions were sent to me weeks ago by Suzanne Temple. It has taken me a long time to get to them, I know. I have been stewing over the questions though! Anyway, here goes...

1.If, like Solomon, God offered to give you any gift at all, what would you choose?

Fortitude. My chief fault in life, as a mom and just in general, is my lack of follow-through, my ability to procrastinate and avoid things that I don't want to do. I have gotten better over the years, but it is a constant struggle and I backslide all the time. It is defined as "the gift which helps us to be brave and patient in overcoming difficulties and carrying out our duties." That's it. That's what I need, bravery and patience in carrying out my duties.

2. What is the household chore you dislike the most?

Cleaning out the litter box. And because of my lack of fortitude, it is sorely needing to be done. Haha! It's gross. It stinks. We have four cats. Three of them are indoor/outdoor, but one of those three still uses the litterbox. The fourth is a nervous, basket-case of a cat that will not go outside at all. I hate the litter box so much that we have tried and tried to encourage her to go out, but it is all for naught.

3. In additon to your whole family,with whom do you hope to share a table at the Heavenly Banquet?

Pope John Paul II. I just love him. And Mother Theresa. Like I would get to share a table with great Saints! Ah,,,to dream.

4. Tell us about a parenting moment of which you are particularly proud--something you should win the Parent of the Year award for.

OK, this is the question that had me stalling for so long. Not that I don't think I'm a good mom, but to think of one defining GREAT MOM moment...I have lots of little GREAT MOM moments, but it was hard to come up with some defining place in time...and like most moms, I have lots of moments where I feel like a bad mom! I will keep stewing on this one.

5. What do you like the most about blogging? The least?

I love blogging because it is a way for me to journal our lives...all the funny little things the kids do, our homeschooling, etc. I love having readers, but I started blogging for myself and even if I had no readers at all I would still blog.

What do I like the least? I guess the pressure that the mundane details of our lives are not *enough*, that I should be posting on weightier matters. I do have opinions on weightier matters. :) And sometimes I even post on them. But mean arguements and snarky comments stress me out, even when I read them on other people's blogs.

Ok, so that's it! If you would like interview questions for your own blog, let me know and I'll try to come up with something profound.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Goin to Kansas City,,,Kansas City, here I come...

Woohoo! My first homeschool conference ever, and a Catholic one to boot. I'm so stoked. And get this,,,my husband is going to keep the kids and I am going to go *by myself!* You know how long it's been since I've gone anywhere by myself? I mean, anywhere besides walmart... Everything has just kind of worked out for me to go. I'm off to make hotel's a four hour trip, so I'll have to stay overnight.

Monday, April 16, 2007

What the.....??

Kain is an exceptionally lazy child. I realize that that's not a very PC observation to make about a kid...we are supposed to put nicer terms than that on their behavior, but really, he is lazy. That has been demonstrated to me over and over again. Last week we were at the doctor's office when I noticed, as Kain bent over, that he had on TWO pairs of underwear. We all thought it was pretty funny, and typical ADHD behavior...him not even noticing that he already had a pair on. Well, this morning, after he got dressed for school, I asked him if he put his underwear on...because it's also not uncommon for him to leave it off altogether and just leave it lying on the bed. He told me that, yes, he did put it on, in fact he now had THREE pair of underwear on. Three. Three pair of underwear. Now I'm realizing that this isn't about being distractable and forgetful,,,this is about laziness. After all, he knew he had on the three pair, so it's not like he just didn't notice that he was pulling on three of them. Kain spent the weekend at his dad's house, where he *never* gets a bath, and didn't get back here in time to get one last night. So over the course of the last three mornings he has just continued to layer them on, one after another. He'd figured out that I could tell when he didn't put the clean pair on altogether because I would see them on the bed, and so I really think he figured this would at least save him the trouble of removing the old pair.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

science during Easter break

We homeschool year round. This allows us to take lots of small breaks throughout the year, and right now we are on our Easter break. I hate to call it a "break" from school though, because homeschooling is such a lifestyle and our days and routine stay pretty much the same whether we are having a "school day" or not. The main difference is that we avoid deskwork on days that we are on a "break". We use Mother of Divine Grace, a Catholic classical curriculum that is very mom-friendly, very gentle on young children, and leaves lots of time for the Charlotte Mason type of learning I am so fond of. On days that we are on a break, we will spend our desk time outside on nature walks, doing science and art projects, liturgical year projects, extra read alouds,,,whatever suits our fancy. Occasionally life circumstances combine to give you a great learning opportunity, and when that happens, break or not, desk time is set aside. Yesterday, we researched how to protect young trees from cold nighttime temperatures. We took a trip to the city compost to buy some mulch and got to see the remains of our yard waste in different stages of breakdown. We planted our young dogwood trees and found many earthworms in the soil, which lead to a discussion from a recent science chapter about how important earthworms are to the yard and garden. Today, we built a flowerbed around the trees. The kids named "their" trees, drew them in their nature journals, and measured them. We saved Kain's for when he was home from school so he could get in on the fun as well. You can barely make out Kain's tree in the picture, but it is there! :)

Then we ended up throwing maple tree seeds into the air and watching them spiral to the ground, which lead to an impromptu experiment from the upstairs deck to see which sized seeds fell the fastest and furthest.

I love it when learning happens so naturally. It makes me want to switch to doing Charlotte Mason "full time". But really, I know that I need more structure than that, especially as Maria gets older. Still, just keeping your mind open to the methods and looking for opportunities is something.

When the nights get (and stay) a bit warmer we will plant some flowers around our baby trees.

what goes through their heads?

Ok, so I've been a little happy with the digital camera today...

but I couldn't resist. I was hunting around for a pair of scissors and I found this in Maria's room.

These are her dolls...wearing her dresses...laid out on her bed...

And on her floor....

Notice this one has another doll tucked up underneath to provide feet...

It was extremely weird to walk in on this in the fading evening light....looked like some kind of morgue!

Easter egg hunt in pictures

This was from the egg hunt at our church Saturday morning. Kain was with his dad and missed this one. We counted it fair enough since he got to have an egg hunt at school.

New Year's in April

We have got to take some action around here. Our diets have gone down the toilet! I'm not sure what happened, really,,,I think it started with my efforts at spring cleaning a few weeks ago. I started using some convenience foods, and let me tell you, that was nice. What's for dinner? Why, let me go check which box to open! Then we started with the take-out and drive-thru's...even nicer, I must say. No dishes, even! Now of course, we are adding the ever present supply of Easter candy to the mix. No wonder I feel so yucky and tired!! It's time to take things back. I'm going to finish my lovely spring menus today, and tonight we will eat the one meal-in-a-box still kicking around in the pantry. Tomorrow,,,I will cook. Keep an eye on the menus at smallthingswithgreatlove...that'll keep me accountable. :)

On a related note, I've decided that we need to change some eating habits around here. Most of these good habits *used* to be routine around here and over time we have fallen away from them. 3/5th's of the inhabitants in this house need to lose weight anyway, and everyone could stand some healthier habits, especially me! I'm going to work on one habit at a time and I'll start with an easy one- water. We have all fallen into drinking too much of, well, everything else. I am the worst one for this. I live on coffee and diet coke anymore. So, tomorrow, water, water everywhere. I'll post our new habit on the fridge and chat with the kids about it tonight. I'm sure they'll love it. ;) Other than meals and tea time, the water needs to be flowing. I'll revisit this in another week and hopefully be ready to add a new habit!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

one more funny

why a man needs a wife

Look carefully at this one.....

A very merry unbirthday....

I didn't get to post this over the weekend, but Jack turned 2 1/2 on Saturday. We don't make a big deal out of half birthdays or anything, but I think 2 1/2 is a big milestone. There's just such a big difference between a 24 month old and a 30 month old, a 30 month old and a three year old. So here's to my Jack, at 2 1/2...he loves Thomas the Tank Engine, puzzles, blocks, music, and books. He knows his ABC's, can count to 20, can recognize most of his letters and numbers, his colors, his shapes, and can open a peanut butter jar in mere seconds. He's still not terribly verbal. He knows a lot of words, but he's still just starting to awkwardly string them together. He is a fearless climber and makes my heart stop beating on a regular basis when I find him perched high and grinning broadly. He is definitely all boy...loves to rough house, loves cars and trucks and anything with a motor, loves to throw things down the stairs, loves to destroy a room...but still loves to snuggle on Momma's bed with a stack of books. He's sweet and laid back, even for a 2 year old...definitely has Daddy's gentle personality. He loves everyone in his family and will often walk around the house affectionately naming everyone and giving them hugs. He is mad about Daddy right now. They are definitely best buddies. But he still knows how to make Momma feel loved when he climbs on my lap, grabs my face between his chubby hands, and kisses me until I laugh out loud. He is my heart and the light in my day. A very merry unbirthday Jack-man.

Monday, April 09, 2007

not much blogging today...

Ugh. I am so tired! The pollen is making my eyes burn and making me feel sleepy...everyone is over-sugared and out of sorts, and we had a long co-op day I haven't much to say today. Just putting kids to bed and hoping to go to bed early myself. Looking forward to getting things back on track tomorrow after a good night's sleep though. Go over to Elizabeth Foss' blog and read her post on burnout though. Very good food for thought.

Friday, April 06, 2007

church challenges

I'm so bummed. We went to the Good Friday service tonight. I almost didn't go. I went to mass by myself with all three kids last night and Jack didn't do so hot...I ended up spending most of mass in the Narthex with Kain and Jack (Maria stayed in mass on her own). But Kain is with his Dad tonight, Jack had a later than usual nap, so I thought what the heck....I'd try it and if Jack didn't make it then I'd sit in the Narthex again. So, we are walking in before mass starts and Jack is fussing a little on the way in, nothing that I thought was a big deal considering we hadn't even sat down yet and all the *adults* were chatting it up anyway, and we sit down near the front...and this elderly woman two rows behind me makes some snotty comment about Jack. I can't honestly even remember exactly what she said, but something indicating her irritation that we were sitting near her with a toddler. I turned around and shot her a long and dirty look (sorry, I'm not Christian enough to not do that much I guess) and she glared right back at me. So mass starts and I'm so upset and fuming, holding back tears, feeling this woman's eyes boring into the back of my head, and I'm praying, praying, praying furiously that Jack will do well during the long service. Miraculously, he does do pretty darned well. Not still and silent, I mean, he *is* two, but not anything I couldn't quickly distract and quiet and we didn't have to leave. On the way out, Maria said the woman (she *thinks* it was the same woman but she's not sure...several of the senior ladies stop to chat with Maria, lol) said something about him "being pretty good this time". I'm feeling like maybe Jack is a total disruptive little snot during most masses and maybe I am just oblivious? I mean, we do often have to take him out at some point right now, but many times we don't. He rarely fusses during mass or misbehaves. Usually we take him out because he just starts talking loudly and wants to play. I was thinking maybe it wasn't appropriate for me to bring my kids to a longish 7pm service, but they had the children's offering basket up by the front during mass and a *lot* of kids came up. They have a fish fry before mass on Good Friday so there were a lot of families there for that I guess. Anyway, I'm just feeling bummed out and unwelcome in mass. I really feel like Jack is pretty good for a 2 year old, Maria is great, Kain even does pretty well now, but kids are kids, you know? We teach them, we redirect them, and when that doesn't work one of us takes them out and we try again next week. John is a nurse and often works weekends and it is not unusual for me to be at mass alone with all three kids, and mass is hard work even on a good day. Tonight was just very discouraging for me. At one point during the offering that woman and whomever was with her were chatting loudly about their weekend plans, and I wanted to turn around and say, "OK, he doesn't know how to behave in mass because he's TWO, what's your excuse?" Not terribly charitable,,, I'm just bummed I's not the first time. One time we sat down with our kids before mass started and this elderly couple looked at us, got up, and moved! I couldn't believe it! That was so rude it was actually kind of funny and we all just kind of laughed it off. It was also in our pre-Kain days and Jack was just a little baby who slept through mass, so I couldn't even take their behavior personally.
Anyway, I'm done venting I guess...I'm going to consciously let this go and continue on preparing for Easter....
Deep breaths.....good air in,,,,bad air

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Our plans for the Triduum

Blessed Holy Thursday!!

Today celebrates the day of the Last Supper and the institution of the Holy Eucharist, the source and summit of our Catholic life. We will make homemade bread for tomorrow's fast. We will continue watching Jesus of Nazareth, maybe even finish it depending on how much time we can devote to it. We will work on a jigsaw puzzle of the Last Supper that we will glue together and frame when we are done and hang it in the dining room. And we will attend mass tonight where Maria will be shocked, again, to see Father Mike washing feet. She is also blessed to serve tonight as well.

Tomorrow is Good Friday, the day of Jesus' death. We will fast, of course, and continue working on our puzzle. We will make a Paschal candle from this kit. We will make pretzels. At 3pm (slightly after, actually,,,when I get back from picking Kain up from school), we will pray the chaplet, enjoy our pretzels and water in place of our usual tea time, and begin a Great Silence until the Vigil tomorrow. The Great Silence is a new practice we are trying this year. It is a common practice in religious orders and I am interested in attempting to do it here, in a modified way of course. We will have no TV (with the exception of The Passion), no music, no computer, and just try to keep things kind of subdued and quiet as much as we can manage. We will attend the Good Friday service at the church. When the kids go to bed, I will watch the Passion and cry, cry, cry.

Holy Saturday, we will continue our (relative) silence. We will dye Easter eggs and get ready to travel to the hermitage. Hopefully before we leave I will remember to remove our Lenten altar and put up white altar cloth, glue flowers to our thornless crown of thorns, etc. We will attend the Vigil mass there. This mass is so wonderful, so favorite of the year, especially when we can attend at the hermitage. It has been a true blessing for me to be able to go. We had several obstacles that were going to prevent us from being able to attend, and in the last couple of days everything has resolved itself and we will be able to go! And my parents live right next door so we will be visiting them with as well.

Easter Sunday we will have resurrection rolls for breakfast followed by the Easter egg hunt and Easter dinner at the hermitage. We will visit with family and friends and then travel back home. We will have another Easter egg hunt with our own dyed eggs at home and the kids will get their Easter baskets. Then we'll have a light supper of hard boiled eggs and chocolate before sending the kids off to bed.

Blessed Easter to you all...I will be post-less until then. :)

a moment with Kain

Kain- Once I had a friend that was black.

Me, distracted- Oh yeah?

Kain- Yeah, his mom was black too.

Me- Oh...well, yeah, that's how it usually works out.

Maria- Kain, you shouldn't call him black. You should call him "African American".

Kain- Well, usually I just called him Griffin because that's his name.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

We put a padlock on the pantry doors...

but if you leave stuff where they can still be reached by a tallish toddler on his tippy toes, like a bowl with flour dregs in it from bread making this morning, and a jar of peanut butter...well, at least he was still in a diaper.

Meet the rest of the family....

I had a very weird dream last night that we were infested with cats. In my dream, I kept hearing this noise and commotion during the night, but when I would get up to see what was going on I couldn't see anything causing the problem. So I hid a flashlight in my bed, and when I heard the noise again I jumped up and shone the flashlight around...and saw several dozen feral kittens crawling out of the walls. When they saw my light, they immediately started swarming back into the wall like a bunch of cockroaches. I remember being in a panic, trying to think of how I was going to rid of all these cats.

I don't need Ziggy Freud to figure out the root of that dream. If it were up to Maria, we *would* be swarmed with dozens of cats. We already own four of them, and she is still always trying to bring home more. "Mom," she'll cry from the backseat of the car, "look at that cat, it looks like a stray. It doesn't have a collar! Can I bring it home and we can find a home for it?" "Find a home for it" really means "can we keep it in our house for weeks while you fruitlessly try to con some poor soul into taking this cat until we are too attached to it to take it to a shelter?" I tell her firmly, "No More Cats!", and point out to her that she has no reason to think that the cat is a stray. Three of our four cats roam the neighborhood as well, and they also have no collars. Every so often I make an investment in collars for them all, and one by one each collar disappears. I tell her all this and that she would be very sad if someone started picking up our cats simply because they don't have a collar,,,and "No More Cats!". Then she'll insist that the cat looks quite hungry and uncared for as well...all deduced from the 8 second glance from her car window. "Maria! No More Cats!"

All four cats that we do own have come into our lives because of Maria and her (obsession) compassion for these animals.

This was the first cat, Maggie. Maggie appeared in our backyard one evening over 4 years ago during a snowstorm. It was already very cold out and getting dark quickly. We heard her crying and wailing from inside the house. She willingly let Maria pick her up and we found that she had frostbite on her ear. If you look at her left ear, you'll see it's still misshapen and hairless on the edges. I told Maria she could come in for the *night* and we would try to find her owner. She looked well fed and was obviously accustomed to being handled by children, so I really figured she belonged to someone. A few days later we had been unable to turn up an owner. We were also quite attached to this very sweet and rather fat lap cat. She especially attached to John, and he to her. We still call her his "girlfriend".
A few days after *that* I realized that Maggie was not fat....she *was* quite pregnant though.

Soon Maggie gave birth behind my living room chair to four kittens. I had already told Maria that she could pick one, mostly because the momma in me wanted Maggie to get to keep at least one of her babies. Even though I encouraged Maria to wait a few weeks and get to know their personalities, she picked the prettiest of the litter as soon as they are born This is in Alice in Wonderland.

Dinah is our only indoor cat. She has a typical cat prima donna personality. She seems to know she is the most beautiful cat in the world and spends her days lying on the cat perch in the window grooming her long, thick fur. She certainly would not stoop to roaming the yard looking for chipmunks and birds like the other cats. She doesn't have much use for us, though she does allow us to feed her and change her litter box.

My mom took one of the three remaining kittens, and a nurse at the hospital I worked at took another. The fourth didn't have any takers. I posted pictures up at the hospital, begged and's hard to get rid of a litter of mutt cats! Weeks went by and I accepted the fact that this cat, a lanky, short-haired boy Maria named Britches (his markings make him look like he does, indeed have pants on) wasn't going anywhere. I'll admit, that time I was happy enough to oblige. I felt sorry for the plain looking but very sweet cat that no one wanted. He now sleeps at my feet most nights and is "momma's boy".

Our last cat just came to us late last summer. This is Kitten. Actually, her name is Alice (to go with our Dinah), but we all still call her Kitten. Kitten pretty much adopted us. We were exiting the car one day and this tiny gray ball of fur came running across the road and dropped herself at Maria's feet. Maria, of course, begins her "can't we PLEASE keep her" wails. She was only a few weeks old and, well, asphalt colored. I was worried about her being run over since she obviously had no reservations about running out in the middle of the road. Still, Iknew her momma must be somewhere nearby. I strongly suspected (and later confirmed) that she belonged to our neighbors across the street, people that let their cats just breed generations of strays over and over again. I really, really didn't want another cat. I had spent a fortune over the summer keeping the three we had in Frontline and vaccines. But she was very tiny, and very cute. She sat on my shoulder most of the time like a furry gray parrot. So, I caved. We kept her, and she is the brattiest thing! So much for gratitude...She attacks your feet when you leave the dangling off the side of the couch, or even just walk by when she is "hunting" under the dining room table. She'll attack your feet while you sleep if you dare to shift them under the covers. John especially can't stand her because she torments his Maggie....Maggie *hates* her. We hoped this would improve with time, but it has not. Maggie hisses and howls every time she sees her, and Kitten, being the brat that she is, will stalk and pounce on Maggie several times a day, seeming to enjoy the fireworks that ensue. Maria stays loyal, however. She absolutely adores Kitten...mostly because Kitten is the only cat that will allow Maria to pick her up and tote her around the house.

So, there you have it...our four furry family members. I have grown to love them,,,even Kitten...but that's it!!! No More Cats!

Sunday, April 01, 2007

If your VCR has quit working....

and it is really getting pretty old and you are thinking it is just time to replace it...turn it upside down and give it a good might be surprised at what comes out!

A colored pencil and a couple of game pieces.

It's working now!

Happy Birthday to John!

My dear John is...well, I won't say how old. Older than me. *Way* older than me. :) So, to my John, my soul mate and best friend...I look forward to growing old together. Of course, you will be old *way* faster than me....

We made these silly April Fool's Day cheeseburgers to take up to the hospital since John had to work today. They are really cookies! Too cool, huh? We will have a birthday dinner on Tuesday and celebrate properly then.

A Sunday in April- John's birthday too!

5:07- Jack wakes me up over the baby monitor. He is now sleeping through the night in his OWN CRIB,,,wow, and only 2 years old! :) But he has started waking up sooo early. Ideally he would sleep until 6-6:30. He might be ready for a later bedtime, but experience has taught me not to be too quick to assume that kids need less sleep...very often they have a glitch like this for a few weeks and then go back happily to their previous schedule. I trudge downstairs and across the house to get him. The downside of being in our new master bedroom is this early morning hike. I bring him upstairs and nurse him, hoping for a little more sleep. This is the only time he nurses anymore, so I figure once he starts sleeping a bit later he will be weaned!

5:15- I hear John quietly get out of bed. I squeeze his hand and want to tell him Happy Birthday, but I'm hoping Jack will go back to sleep and don't want to talk.

5:50- Jack is really up. He nursed and dozed a bit, but there's no going back now. I give up and head downstairs with him. I have been sorting piles of toys in our old playroom turned new master bedroom and I don't want him undoing my sorting. We find John downstairs and officially wish him Happy Birthday. I put on coffee and soak some dishes sitting on the counter. They got backlogged yesterday when Maria was baking and dumped some flour into my soaking sink of dishes, effectively coating them with paste. Yuck.

6:15- John is leaves for work. I change Jack but leave him for now in his warm pajamas. It turned cold last night! There's no PSR this week so we can have a slower start this morning. I pour some coffee and sit at the computer to check my email and read some blogs. I find a friend's email coaching me on how to put links on my blogs and experiment with that for a while. Jack is happy to play with a basket of toys in the living room and watch Baby Doolittle.

7:15- Jack is no longer happy. I pour some more coffee and get him a banana and some milk and we sit to watch Elmo's World. Too much TV? Yeah's a day of rest, after all, and I'm not up for much else yet. :)

I spend the next couple of hours slowly getting everyone fed, taking a shower, getting Jack dressed,,,,it's nice not to have to rush around. Usually I only have an hour or so to do all of this, and three kids instead of two! It does have the disadvantage that everyone *knows* we have more time and I have to kind of kick Maria in the rear to get her finally moving through her morning list...getting dressed, making her bed, cleaning up her bathroom.

9:40- We leave for starts at 10 but is just a couple of miles away. Maria runs ahead of me and Jack on the way in, hoping as always to get to serve. She's not scheduled to, but she likes to check in case someone didn't show. Today it pays off and she gets to serve so it's me and Jack in the pew. They have the children process through the church during the entrance hymn with palm branches, weaving through the ailes, lead by the altar servers. It was very cute. At the end Father, Maria and the other servers went onto the altar and left the children disoriented and searching for familiar faces in the pews. Jack is restless for a while, then falls asleep on my shoulder until the sign of peace when Maria comes over and plants a kiss on his head and wakes him up. Grrrr. Even when he wakes again he is content to lay on my shoulder quietly. I am grateful for this even though my back aches from holding all 37 pounds of him during the hour and a half mass.

11:30- Home again,,,lunch of leftovers accumulated during the week. Jack gets changed and I optimistically put him down for a nap, hoping he will still sleep even though he catnapped in mass. Maria mixes up cake batter for a Welcome Home cake for Kain while I do this. I come into the kitchen and find that the oven is not working!! The stovetop is working but the oven won't heat up. While I'm trying to figure out what to do with this information, my brother calls and wants to know if I've heard anything from Kain's mom about his arrival home today. I call Kain's mom's cell phone and she doesn't answer. This causes a flurry of phone calls between my brother, my mother and me. I'm all in a fit about this development and trying to figure out what is going on. Is she on her way or not? If not, is she just being flaky or pulling something? In the meantime I dump the cake batter down the sink and figure I'll just have to pick up a cake from a bakery and add the oven to the list of things to get repaired.

1:45- Still haven't heard from Kain's mom. I'm freaking out. Jack isn't napping either, although he has been quitely playing this whole time. We had an interesting moment of nursing intervention when the teenager acrossed the street wreaked his bike and I found him lying in the road screaming his head off. I helped him off to the ER with his mom and then came back inside to fold laundry and stew some more about the whole Kain situation. Also trying to decide what to do about our afternoon plans of going up to the hospital to say hi to John and bringing some birthday goodies...afraid to leave without knowing what is going on with Kain.

2:30- We go ahead and leave for the hopsital and leave a note for Kain's mom taped to the door. I stew the whole way there and back about all the possible things that can go wrong with the whole situation. A quick visit with John and we are heading back home again.

4:00- Still no Kain. Still no answer on his mom's cell phone. Jack is playing in the playroom and I am pacing around, venting via the phone with my mother and grandmother and starting to plan what I will do if she just doesn't bring him back. What possible reason could she have not to even call and let me know when to expect her? She said she would bring him back early in the day, and I don't even know if she's on her way at all!

5:00- I start fixing brinner...waffles, scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage...Maria helps a bit with the eggs. I make bacon on my new handy dandy griddle and it is a good thing. I want another, one for bacon and one for pancakes. I half expect Kain to stomp into the kitchen at any time demanding the first piece of bacon. I could just throw up from the knot in my stomach.

6:00- Dinner is served. Jack actually eats, even tries a bite of sausage. He loves the waffles.

6:30- Kain finally shows! His grandmother brings him with a some guy friend of hers....blows in the door and talks talks talks for 10 minutes about how his mother's ride flaked on her and plus she's sick and she left his sneakers at her house but bought him an outfit and Kain is doing really well here and is obviously happy and she's really not ever been a prostitute no matter what I've heard about her and yes she's had problems with drugs before but that was a long time ago and she doesn't even drink and her family tells everyone she's been in the Betty Ford Center and she doesn't even know where the Betty Ford Center is and she has her life together and Joy has her life together and, by the way, I didn't send enough Adderall for Kain because he ran out halfway through the Think she doth protest too much? I've never even spoken to the woman before, how many of you have the urge to spend 10 minutes convincing someone you just met that you are not a drug addict? I paste a grin on my face and nod my head and don't mention the fact that Kain is wheezing and his hair smells like cigarettes and I sent exactly 8 Adderall pills...I counted them three someone is swiping them. I just want her to leave. Finally, she does. Kain wants to play with Maria and the boy across the street, so I send him off to play for a bit. It's late, but he hasn't had his medication and he's been stuck in the car for hours...I know he needs to blow off steam.

7:00- Time to get serious about getting these boys down. Kain tells me he hasn't had dinner so I dish him up some waffles et al...he has two servings of everything with a ton of milk...probably the first non-fast food since he left a week ago. I asked him what kind of stuff he ate at his mom's and he says "McDonald's". I pick up the playroom and get Jack ready for bed. I snuggle briefly with Jack in the rocking chair and read Goodnight Moon, fighting off the overwhelming fatigue that is setting in. Kain, Maria and I say evening prayers...candles are lit, Act of Contrition, Guardian Angel Prayer, Prayer to St. Michael, everyone invokes their patron saints. I pass out jelly beans for their jelly bean jars and we pluck a "thorn" from our salt dough crown of thorns. I then put Kain in bed and we read the dinosaur book Kain brought back with him. He cries because he misses his mom. Kain is not a crier and he looks embarassed and hides his head under the covers. I dig him out and hug him and tell him it's ok and he'll feel better in a couple of days once he gets used to being here again. He looks very tired and tells me he stayed up late a lot, once until midnight. I hug him and listen to him wheeze. I ask him if he's been getting his asthma meds while he's been at his mom's and he says no, his mom forgets a a lot,,,he says it hesitatingly,,,and then says he didn't want to tell me that because he doesn't want me to keep him from visiting his mom again. I wonder who planted that seed in his head. I sing Hush Little Baby and tell him I'm so glad he's back. I plan to let him sleep as late as he needs to in the morning, even if that means he'll be late for school. He needs to catch up and I'm worried about him getting sick if he doesn't get some rest. In spite of his big size, he is a rather delicate thing healthwise. I knew without a doubt he would come back wheezing and probably sick. He cannot handle being without his meds, bad sleep, bad diet, around cigarettes..... I wonder how many weeks it will take for me to get his lungs well again now.

8:30- John is home and steps in to say good night to Kain. I plow on, unpacking Kain's bags, washing dishes...Maria give John a card she made for him and she picks up the living room. Then we watch a bit of Jesus of Nazareth and I send Maria off to bed. We watch it together every Lent. We skipped her reading tonight since I let her stay up a bit late to watch more of the movie.

9:30- Hanging out with John even though I'm tired tired tired. It's hard to make myself go to bed when he's home and not working the next day.

10:45- Finally going to bed. I haul the rest of the clean laundry upstairs to fold tomorrow. I read very briefly from "What Went Wrong with Vatican 2" while John is getting ready for bed, then light's out, finally! I'm blessed to have all of my chickens under my roof again.