Friday, June 26, 2009


Kain- Is it possible to change your skin color?

Me, wondering if he was channeling Michael Jackson- Um...not very easily. Why? Do you want to be a black man when you grow up?

Kain- No. I want to be an Indian.

We've been doing a lot of westward expansion/Daniel Boone/Lewis and Clark type of reading lately. Guess he's enjoying it. :)

If it's free, it's for me!

Ok, I found this on someone's blog. Since I've plowed my way through tons of blog posts in the last week, I really don't remember where it came from now! Sorry about that. Anyway, Glidden is having a paint giveaway. Register here for a free quart of paint. Yay! Free stuff!

I ordered the granny smith white, which is really boring, I know. I really wanted to order something fun. But the only paint projects I have in mind right now are big walls and such. I thought I could use a small can to paint doors in the rooms I am working on.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Dear Good Morning America,

Good Morning America is my primary news source. It embarrasses me a little to type that. The intellectual snob in my head wants me to explain myself. I sit down most days with a bunch of laundry to fold, or the makings of a menu and shopping list for the week, or some paperwork to dig through, and I watch Good Morning America, zipping through the commercials and interviews with minor celebrities from Dancing With the Stars so I can see the headlines, weather, and anything else of interest. I don't really have time to read the daily newspaper anymore, and our local news drives me over the edge with their 6 minutes of headlines and 24 minutes of commercials, sports, and you tube video highlights. We don't have real cable, and I cannot even BEGIN to handle Kathy Lee Gifford, so it's just been me and you and my laundry folding, GMA.

But I don't know how much longer I can hang on. I knew this day would come. First, there's just been issues of general the constant barrage of teeny bopper singers that grace your stages. How many Disney tween idols do you really need to put on a news show for adults anyway? And honestly, if I see one more "survive the recession" segment in which you interview a "struggling" family that is spending $12 a day on lattes and $50 a month to buy the latest dvd's for their kids...Oh the humanity! Being reduced to home-brewed coffee and Netflix!!!

But there's actual offensive stuff from time to time too...stuff that not only do I not want my kids to see, but that I really don't want to see myself. It wasn't too very long ago that you ran your story about America's first transexual mayor, complete with an on camera interview, that sent me running for the remote before one of my kids walked in the room. And just this week there's been the constant playing, playing, and replaying of very graphic footage of shootings in Iran. But this morning was really over the top. First of all, let's pretend that I even really *want* to know all about the South Carolina governor's affair in Argentina. Let's pretend that discussing such things in such minute detail is not just crass and low-class, not even just for the sake of his wife and boys. The actual quotes from his letters are really unnecessary. I don't need to hear, really, how he loves her tan lines and the curve of her hips, or how he "cries out" for her body and the touch of her lips. This kind of detail is really just not necessary for a morning news show. Am I the only one with the sense to blush when hearing such a private and intimate thing being read so bluntly reported, rattled into a microphone like they are reporting so many Dow Jones points? Am I the only one to feel like this kind of thing smacks of a Jerry Springer show?


So, my google reader is down to a mere 125 posts! Woohoo! Progress!

Think I should change that goofy Easter picture up there? Well, I'd love to, but my camera cable is STILL MISSING, and I'm very, very unhappy about that!

We are settling into summer here. It's hot. Hottie hot hot. Temperatures in the 90's. Heat index was 105 yesterday. This is why we don't take 3 months off in the summer. Summers are *miserable* here. We are winding down our school year though. Kain will be done next week. Maria will too, mostly, though she'll still have some Latin to finish up. After the 4th, I will begin my Big Summertime Project...purging, painting, and organizing the schoolroom. It is in REALLY tragic need of an overhaul. I already bought the paint. On an impulse. I'm not happy with the colors. But it's too late, because I can't think what else to do with the paint I bought and I can't really think of what colors I really want to use, which is why I bought these colors to begin with...lemon grass and fern green. It hurts just to type them. We'll see how it turns out. It is a big tall room with a vaulted ceiling, so my plan is to paint one color on the top third of the walls and another on the bottom 2/3rds. And then run our timeline between the two colors. Oh well...anything has to be better than what is on there now,,,dirty white.

We are switched over, officially, to our summer schedule, which means I'm letting the big kids sleep in later. The littles and I are going outside as soon as we get up and fed in the morning. In fact, I'm heading right out when I'm done with this post. It's the only time I can stand to be outside, and somebody has to water the weeds taking over the vegetable garden.

Seriously, every spring I get all giddy with the garden thing. I love getting outdoors when it starts to warm up, and I can't wait until the last frost date passes so I can get out and start planting. And then I remember...I hate to sweat. I hate the heat. Hate. So June roles around, and I start avoiding the garden. So, I'm trying getting out first thing in the morning this year. So far, it's helping. It's like the procrastination center in my brain is still in bed or something. Which makes sense. It's still tired from putting off bedtime last night.

We have yellow squash growing in the garden for the first time this year. I would take PICTURES for you if I could UPLOAD them onto the COMPUTER, but I CAN'T. The yellow squash is a winner though. Big and bold, huge yellow flowers that magically morph into slender squash. The kids are fascinated. John was also very surprised to learn that the vegetables form from the actual flowers. He never knew this! City boy.... We have already harvested a small crop of beans, and we have a few green tomatoes out there too. My peppers are doing very well, which is exciting, because I managed to kill them for the last two years. There's no peppers on there yet though.

In other summer news, we are grilling out on the weekends when John is off work, and since parish religion classes are done for the summer, the kids get to stay up late on Saturday night and catch fireflies (classes were early Sunday mornings). I'd take PICTURES for you if I could....well, you know.

We are going to the pool a couple of times a week, and the library for summer reading program activities a couple of times a week. We've been to the lake and hope to get back at least a couple more times before summer's end. And the kids are waiting anxiously for VBS. We *love* us some VBS. This year they are doing it in the evenings instead of during the day. Is that weird? I've never seen that before. I'm not sure how I feel about that. It's going to run until 8:30, which is pretty late for my gang...three of my four are usually in bed by then. They are hoping that having it in the evenings will allow more people to attend, people who have to work and can't get their kids there during the day. Which is nice I guess, except I don't know if it'll make much of a difference. From my own "working parent with small children" days, I can say that I never would have had my child out that late on an evening that we had to get up and go to daycare/work the next day. And it's only going to be three days instead of five this year. So...I guess we'll see. Nobody asked my opinion, and we would go whenever they had it, because my kids love love love VBS.

Ok, well, that's all the summer ramblings I have for now. I'm headed out to weed the forsythia bushes. I always catch up on the front yard first, for the neighbors' sake. My forsythia bushes are a new addition. We just added them this spring. I'd show you the PICTURES if I could...well, you know.

Friday, June 19, 2009

a loss of hope

When I said that we had not had any catastrophes happen, that was not entirely true.

Kain's mother died. It happened last weekend, she died of a stroke, secondary to a drug overdose. That's all I really know. My brother tells me he doesn't know anymore details. I don't really believe that, but that's what he's telling me. Kain doesn't know yet. We have been hemming and hawing, talking it over with his therapists, etc., and the end result is that we are going to hold the drug overdose part until he gets a little older...he doesn't even really understand what illegal drugs are, so it would be really difficult for him to understand right now.

We are going to tell him she died of a stroke, which is true enough for now. I talked to my brother about it one last time this evening, and he told me to just go ahead and tell him. I didn't do it. Not tonight. He's had a really good day, his best couple of days in a long time, actually, and I want him to go to sleep happy. I want to tuck him in and give him one more night to sleep with his hopes that one day his life will go back the way it used to be, that things will work out in the end, that his mother will get herself together and get him and his siblings back. Even though he hasn't even seen his mom in two years, I know that's what he wants and what he still hopes for. I know the hardest thing for him to handle is going to be losing that hope, coming one more step closer to realizing that the best he's going to get in this life is to be raised by an aunt and uncle that he really doesn't want to be with...not because he doesn't love us, but because we just aren't his mom and dad. He wants his mom. And now that can never happen. And I will be the one to tell him. God, give me the right words, if there are any, to tell a child that their mother has died.

Please pray for her.

the do-over

"Do-over" is a common term in our house. It's a discipline technique we use, most often with Kain. Basically, it's a way to re-do a moment in time when his impulsive behavior gets the better of him. Sometimes the do-over is accompanied with other consequences, depending on the severity of the misbehavior, but very often it is not. Usually the incident in question just involves less than polite behavior or just plain thoughtlessness. If he rudely shoves past someone, a do-over means that he will practice moving politely by and saying "excuse me". If I tell him it's time to do math and he begins to whine and wail, a do-over means that he will practice saying, "yes ma'mm" and planting his rear end at the table quietly. (No, we're not big "ma'mm-ers" around here, but I do demand it when I feel respectful behavior needs to be strongly established...i.e., when I hear a "tone".) And for these kinds of circumstances, performing the do-over without a lousy attitude is enough of a consequence.

Yesterday, God gave me a do-over. Isn't He good?

We were in the library parking lot yesterday afternoon, running late as we so often do, and there was not a parking space to be found. They were having a special children's program, and it was mobbed. On my third impatient circle around, I spotted a woman beginning to load a couple of kids into a van and descended. I perched behind her, waiting, while she loaded up and backed out of the space. Of course, you can guess what happened next. Another van approached from the other direction and tried to swoop in on the space I was waiting for. "OH NO SHE DIDN'T!" you cry! But yes! Yes, she did! She sure did! In a move out of character for my nonconfrontational self, I aggressively zipped in ahead of her, just barely, and shot her a LOOK. She paused and I wondered briefly how ugly this was going to get, but in the end she left to look for another spot.

Once in the library, I began to feel embarrassed at my behavior. True, I HAD, just for the record, been waiting for the spot long before she even showed up. Also true was that she probably didn't know that. I was behind another row of cars, and it's very possible she didn't even see me waiting there. True, I was running late for the children's program,,,but she probably was too. In fact, she was probably in the same room with me, a thought that came into my head frequently as I tried very hard to avoid making eye contact with any other adults there, pictures of various ugly confrontation scenarios running through my head. The question wasn't so much did I have a *right* to take the parking space, but was taking the space the right thing to *do*? Was it the most *charitable* thing to do?

Of course not. I've been reading the Treasure Box books to Jack, and the story of St. Therese and her sacrifice beads popped into my brain, how she would quietly accept little opportunities like this to offer up to God. The charitable thing to do would have been to back off and let her have the space. Not out of intimidation or fear of a confrontation, but out of love for Christ and love for this other harried mom who was just trying to find a parking space.

Later that same day, late in the evening, I was circling the Big Box Mart parking lot and thinking about the incident earlier that day in a distracted kind of way. It was a busy evening, and so I was pleasantly surprised to see a spot, open and waiting, front and center. Just then another car came around the corner. I could tell he had seen the spot and was hurrying towards it. And even though I was right there, ready to park,,,I drove on. He took the spot, and I thanked God for the do-over.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

catching up

Hello! Hello!
I'm back! Is this thing on!
Thank you to everyone who has emailed me privately to make sure we were still alive and well. We are. Nothing catastrophic happened. I seem to have some kind of aversion to sitting at the computer lately. It shows. My inbox is hopelessly backed up all the time, and so is my google reader, though I am making efforts to catch up on everyone's don't be surprised if you see some weird comment to something you posted about two months ago. I need a laptop, that's what I need. Then I can find a quiet place to sit and be comfy. I'm very unhappy with our computer desk situation right now. It's in a major traffic area of our living room, and if you are sitting at the desk people are tripping over you, chattering over your head,'s most irritating. John or Maria always seem to be on the computer after the littles are in bed. I had been taking my computer time during afternoon rest time, but now Kain has therapy twice a week during that I'm not sure what to do...maybe move my computer time to early in the morning and move my prayer time to the evening?

Anyway, here's a quick catch up on everybody here. We are finishing up our school year and planning to take all of July off. We school year round, but we do take July off. I have tons of wonderful pictures of my beautiful babies, but I can't find the cord to my camera, AAARRRGGGHHH, so I can't upload any until I find it.

Tessie turned a year old on May 28th. Please join me in a collective pensive sigh. (SIGH) She is just...what can I say? Beautiful. Precious. Yummy for chewing. She is so much fun and just the light of our days. She is still sweet and easy-going. She's not walking yet, but it's coming...she's cruising the furniture and is a very busy girl. The mosquitoes love her...we can't walk out the door that she doesn't get half a dozen bites, and she has some kind of reaction to them so that each one swells up half-dollar size, poor child.

Jack will be starting preschool here at home in August and he is *very* excited about that. Every day he says, "Am I doing preschool today?" But I'm not ready to start just yet. I need July to get ready. His reading has just taken off...he's reading Henry and Mudge and other easy readers this summer. And yet he still can't even hold a crayon or pencil properly. So I plan to concentrate on those small motor skills this school year with him. We will be starting Little Saints, and I can't looks so fun and I think he will really enjoy it, and I like that it is not academic in nature at all. Time enough for that later. It's a Montessori program and focuses on a lot of small motor skill activities, which is just what he needs. It's not a low-maintenance does require a lot of prep time. but I really want to do this with him. He's going to love it.

Kain is finishing up 3rd grade. More or less. His math skills are quite behind still. His memory is *terrible*, and he spent the whole first half of the school year struggling to remember what the different operation signs looked like, that sort of thing. We keep plugging along. It drives me crazy to be "behind" where he is "supposed" to be. I'm trying to keep it in perspective and tell myself, "So what? So what's the worse case scenario, that he only gets through Geometry or even a year of Algebra before he graduates? Maybe he's not Harvard bound. Maybe he's not college bound at all. Maybe he becomes a tradesman of some kind, or a fireman, or a chef, or heck, a freakin' janitor, does it really matter?" And it doesn't, not at all. It's not like we are a family of Ivy Leaguers anyway, you know? It's too easy to get your homeschooling ego all wrapped up in what your kids are accomplishing, and it's not fair to them. Kain has delays, that's all there is to it. I was hoping that it was just immaturity, and I guess it still could be, but I don't think it's just that. He has a hard time learning most subjects. He just does. His brain was marinated in drugs for nine months, you know? His formative baby and toddler years were spent just trying to survive. There's bound to be some effect from those things. If he were in public school, I'm sure he would have an IEP and be in some kind of special ed. classes. So why do I expect to work miracles here? I'm letting it go. We will plow on to fourth grade, and we will ignore the fact that we only got through half of the third grade math book. In August, we will pick up where we left off. I'm educating for eternity, not Harvard.

Moving on. Maria will be starting 7th grade. Now this child...she has really matured so much this year. We've tweaked our curriculum for her for..well, since the beginning...she's diagnosed with dyslexia for those new to the blog...and I'm very proud to say that this year she has very nearly been able to follow the syllabus as written. I'm so impressed with her progress. Her writing skills, while I'm sure they are still behind grade level, have improved so much. Our curriculum is very writing intensive from here on out, so I have faith that she will make great strides in the coming years, if just out of sheer sweaty practice. Her spelling is atrocious, and it probably always will be, but it does sloooowwwwly improve. Her grammar and punctuation has improved the most. She has done really well in Latin and in grammar. My favorite program for her this past year has been the Great Editing Adventure. Painless, just a few minutes a day, but it drills grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc. At the beginning of the year, I had to really hold her hand and help her with it, but now she very often doesn't need any help from me at all to find the errors.

So, in the coming weeks we will be swimming, going to the lake, going to the library for the summer reading program, and going to vacation bible school. I will be purging and painting our school/play room, yay!!! And with that, I will abruptly go. I am being climbed. I promise to post again before two more months go by.