Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Oren has an obsession with goats.

A friend of ours had baby goats and lambs this spring. Or maybe they were all lambs. It doesn't matter. We were at her house and Oren grabbed a bottle for one of the baby animals. A baby animal came running and Oren had an "oh shit" look on his face and immediately tossed the bottle. I believe that incident has scarred him for life.

Oren spotted a donkey or mule statue in our friend's neighbor's yard at our most recent visit. He pointed to the "goat", he talked about the goat biting him and he said that he was scared. I tried to explain that it was fake and unable to move, but I was unsuccessful. He was concerned about the goat the entire time we were there and paid no attention to the real goats that were near him while he was in the chicken coop.

Oren spotted a small screw driver tonight while we were in the office and immediately ran over and grabbed it. Screw drivers are precious objects in our house and to have found one without a sibling around was as close to bliss as Oren could have come in a day. Oren brought the screw driver over to me and asked to sit on my lap. Then we talked about goats for a solid 30 minutes. Our conversation went something like this:

Oren: Away
Me: Is someone going to take away your screw driver?
O: Uh huh. Goat.
M: No, the goat is not at our house.
O: Ap's.
M: Yes, the goat is at Abby's.
O: Bite. Off. (He said this while wildly gesturing and pulling at his finger)
M: No, the goat is not going to bite off your finger.
O: eye?
M: Nope, not your eye either.
O: cheek?
M : Nope, not your cheek.
O: (looking around on his body) Scab?
M: No, the goat does not want your scab.
O: Hold?
M: Do you want to hold the goat?
O: (thoughtfully) No, poop
M: Did the goat poop?
O: Uh huh, bleck

Then the conversation started over. And over. And over.

Monday, September 19, 2011


I am not a master repairman, nor am I educated in any way about fixing electrical junk. That being said, here's my advice regarding appliances: opt for the cheapest, simplest machine possible.

Our dishwasher, about six months after the warranty expired, quit working. It shut off mid-cycle. I am very lucky to have a super husband and father-in-law who can fix just about anything. Unfortunately, the mother board went out on our dishwasher and it was going to be more expensive to replace the part than to buy a new machine. My husband bought the cheapest, simplest dishwasher and it works like a charm. There are no digital displays, no special soil sensors and no other fancy gadgets that will soon fall apart. The dishwasher sounds like a tank driving through my kitchen, but it gets the job done and fits in with the noise level in the rest of the house.

We had a similar experience with washing machines. I jumped on the front loader bandwagon and bought one with a sanitary cycle. I thought the sanitary cycle would be awesome for cloth diapers and with as much hype as was surrounding the stupid machines, I was certain I was spending my money wisely. Wrong. Our front loader worked beautifully for three whole years. Then the plastic case cracked inside the machine and we were told that front loaders weren't meant to wash big loads of blankets. Or towels. Or jeans. Or anything, really. We fixed the part and a couple of months later, the washer broke again. My husband fix it, but we continued having issues and finally sold it on Craigslist for $50. Our new machine is simple. No fancy washing cycles. No digital displays. I love it.

I have since heard advice from two repair men and they have said the same thing. The simpler, the better. One repair man even went so far as to say that he believes front loaders are meant to last until the warranty is up and then go to shit. He said that the first time he's in a household fixing the front loader, the owner praises the machine. When he comes back a month later to fix another expensive part, the owner asks if he knows anyone who wants it.

I am not going to mention my other appliances by name for fear of jinxing myself. One appliance is newer, one is eight years old and going strong and two are as old as the hills and work great. Here's to a future of cheap-ass appliances and I hope easy fixes.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Toys and Clutter

Our home is big enough that it should accommodate us and all of our stuff. Lately though, it doesn't. It seems like I am constantly stepping on or over something and I find bits and pieces of toys or games all over the house.

I sorted through the kids' toys a couple of months ago and bagged up two trash bags worth of stuff. A third bag was filled with stuffed animals. I don't keep broken toys, I've avoided garage sales most of the summer in an attempt to not collect more crap and I try to have the kids clean up their toys when they're finished playing.

But there are moments when the kids must entertain themselves because I'm doing dishes or laundry or sweeping or you get the idea. It is during these times that my children make the biggest mess. Our game closet, located in the same room we use for school, is a disaster. The games were dumped, pieces are everywhere and the mess is overwhelming even for me. The kids were also playing dump in the closet which involved gathering game pieces, blocks, trash, etc and dumping it into the very back of the closet.

My first instinct is to do what I do for other huge messes and start throwing things away until someone pitches in and helps. I've asked the kids several times to clean it up and have had no response. The office is so messy at this point that it is unusable for school. It's like this in their bedrooms and in the dining room that also functions as a play room. I know it is part of my job to clean up crap, but I am getting tired of having to pull teeth to get one of the kids put a toy away that they got out. Lots of whining, complaining and time wasting.

I have tried to make the toys very easy to put away. I labeled all of the containers on the bookshelves and have even labeled the baskets. Most everything is kid level. I know that Maeve's room needs more functional storage, but the boys' room should be able to be kept clean.

So how do I enforce and/or encourage them to pick up their junk? How do I prevent them from dumping everything constantly? I keep repeating "this too shall pass", but I would like to help it pass and teach the kids some responsibility. Thoughts?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Lemons. Lots of Lemons.

The kids have been something else lately and there have been several moments where I wasn't sure whether to cry or laugh hysterically.

I took the time this morning to get dressed. I put on one of my favorite shirts and a skirt. As soon as I walked into the kitchen, I was greeted with a handful of flour thrown directly at my chest. Thanks, Oren!

The kids are control freaks when it comes to music in our house. I turn something on and someone comes running to change the song or the volume. Sure enough, when I turned on a song to distract me from the fighting kids, Oren came running and turned it up. I scooped him up and we danced. It was torture for Oren because he was almost within arm's reach of the fish food and I may have been taunting him just a bit.

Maeve has a toad, Toadee, that she holds everyday. Oren also likes the toad and is very gentle with it. Unfortunately, Maeve hates sharing her amphibians so she often times will come up with something "better" for Oren to do. Today she told Oren that I was going to let him play with rice. I obliged. All was well until Maeve and Finn started playing with the rice too and decided to dump all 10 lbs onto the floor, roll in it, throw it and kick it all over the kitchen.

Oren can climb onto the counters now without a stool.

Oren's favorite thing to do, if I haven't already shared this, is to climb onto the kitchen counter, turn on the faucet and turn on the sprayer. Yesterday he decided to do this and spray the stove, diaper bag and all of the electronics in the living room.

Our wood burning stove is a fun climbing toy. I think Oren might think twice when it's 500 degrees in a couple of months. And the nice fan that sits on top of the stove? That is great to grab and use to chase/threaten your sister.

The couch that I just deep cleaned was the perfect place to pick all of the elderberries off their stems.

I bought Maeve new shoes this week. She immediately went outside, went into the chicken coop and stepped in poop. Then she came in and told me that her shoes didn't fit. I tried to fix them and it didn't work so we went to buy new shoes. While we were there, Oren got out of the stroller and sprinted. Then he played in the drinking fountain. Finn entertained himself by jumping on all of the chairs and throwing all of the display shoes onto a high shelf. Oren was banished, once again, to the stroller where he screamed until we got to the van.

Unfortunately, all of our recent shopping trips include Oren sprinting off. A guy at the hardware store told me that I should be in the Olympics. Yes and thanks for noticing.

And bedtimes! Oh how I just love bedtime. The kids were so terrible that I put them to bed at 5:30. Finn and Oren were asleep by 6 so Maeve and I went downstairs for a bit. Finn started screaming because he had to pee and just as he was settling back to sleep, Maeve started yelling and complaining about how she wanted to go back downstairs. Um, I said she could and never asked her to come up with me to check on Finn in the first place. Her yelling woke up both of the boys, who were absolutely refreshed after such a terrific nap. They were up for another three hours.

Tonight's bedtime was better, but it started with Finn screaming for 45 minutes about being videotaped. I got out the video camera after dinner because all of the kids were being funny. Finn was being especially goofy, but smacked the side of Oren's head when he thought Oren was blocking the camera. The camera was turned off and Finn started screaming about needing to be videotaped more. I may have started singing "Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I'll tape you tomorrow! It's only a day away. The tape will come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar that tomoooorrroooow, you'll be taped...." Sometimes I just can't help myself.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

School Stuff

We are on week 6 of school and have been a lot more consistent this year. There have been a few days lately that we've opted to play outside or go to the zoo instead of do school. Not like school takes a great deal of time, but sometimes no one wants to stop what they're doing or take the time to do any formal learning.

Maeve has been very motivated to read! This makes me happy. She has a renewed interest in her Progressive Phonics reading packets and can read a couple sentences in a row with ease. As soon as extra funds are available, I plan to order a book called Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind. It covers grammar and will be another reading opportunity for Maeve.

Math is going better this year too, although it's not Maeve's favorite subject. She can only handle one lesson at a time and barely has enough focus to finish the workbook pages that go with the lessons. She understands the concepts, but is easily frustrated when she doesn't know the answer right away. She's even more frustrated when Finn accidentally blurts out the answer.

Speaking of Finn and math, he is almost finished with Singapore 1A. He blew through his first Explode the Code book and is more than half way through his second book. Finn loves workbooks and is an easy student when he's in the mood to work.

We've been studying the symbols of the United States, have learned the Pledge of Allegiance, made mirrors, have learned about magnets and light and have almost completed a chicken lapbook. I have two chapters left to read in Stuart Little and then the kids will watch the movie. We've also been playing a lot of the game Life and the kids have been doing a great job taking turns and following the rules of the game.