Wednesday, March 31, 2010

You Don't Have Mail!

Birds were singing. Trees were blooming. The woods were beckoning. There was nothing to do but tie the baby on and go for a walk. Even the baby was having a fantastic time as she wiggled to position herself so she could lean over and watch the woodland floor as we went.

At the bottom of the hill behind our house is a small trickle of water. It's hardly even a creek. But the kids think of it as a roaring river and fancy themselves master explorers. They hopped back and forth over the water and gathered sticks, sang songs and played their hearts out. They were looking hot and thirsty. I was just thinking it was time to leave when Hannah decided she needed to pee.

I told her to pull her skirt down (doesn't every girl wear an aqua skirt with built in shorts and red glitter shoes on hikes?) and I'd help her get in the right position or she'd pee on her clothes. Of course, while I was issuing this warning, her clothes were getting the abuse I was trying to avoid. Self satisfied and a little giddy because she loves peeing in the woods, she pulled her skirt back up. The horror on her face told me she realized her mistake. Hannah detests having even minimally moist clothing and this outfit had gotten well-doused.

I had to do some fast talking to convince her that walking home through the briars completely naked was a bad idea. I even told her that I had peed on my clothes in the woods too and knew how she felt. I told her the story on the trek home. She was distracted from her misery by my tale. She was most amused to know that it was when I was a grown-up.

Upon reaching the house and catching back up with John, we decided to go to the mailbox before we went inside. John raced to the box and revealed two deliciously, Easter-yellow envelopes. Ahhh, this was the perfect way to lift Hannah's spirits after her misadventure. I smiled, realizing that Theo's grandmother had once again graced us with her impeccable thoughtfulness. She sends all the great-grandchildren cards on every, single holiday and birthday. I do believe she singlehandedly keeps Hallmark in business.

I never thought I'd regret teaching my eldest child to read. He ceremoniously held out the two envelopes and said, "This one is for John. That's me. And this one is for .... Cote? Mom, does that say Cote? Hmmm, I guess Hannah didn't get one."

Oh yeah, there's the brink and that's my daughter going right on over it. There was high-pitched wailing the likes of which can only be accomplished by a three-year-old female. I comforted her and tried to reassure her that hers was coming amidst her sorrowful chanting "Where's my mails? Where's my mails?"

I hugged. I consoled. I gave her ice water. I pointed out the twig stuck in the toe of my tennis shoe. At long last my patience and dedication wavered, so I took a picture and started writing a blog entry in my head... don't judge me.

She's at long last recovered and as I write, has been playing in the backyard. She must be okay because I was just given a beautiful, wilty dandelion by a happy girl wearing red glitter shoes. And I'm calling Theo to see if he might pick up a card on the way home.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Babies Should be Savored

The baby slept in a bouncy chair while I tried to quickly make some lunch. I was bustling in the kitchen when the familiar strains of a row began in the living room.

I was frustrated that the older two were at each other's throats again and worried they would wake the baby. I came around the corner demanding, "What's the problem here?" And found the kids huddled as close as possible to the baby, one on either side. Both were as mad as hornets and the baby was as pleased as punch to be in the middle of all the action.

There was the usual blank stares and attempts to look innocent. And then John laid it out straight, "Mom, Hannah's hoarding the baby."

Inwardly, I chuckled.
Outwardly, I scowled.
Sternly, I spoke.

"No one needs to hoard the baby. Leave her alone so she can sleep and I can get lunch ready." I concluded with my routine mom threat, "Find something to do by yourselves or I will find something for you. "

It has been a few weeks since that incident. I had believed baby-hoarding and accusations of baby- hoarding were a thing of the past (grandparents notwithstanding, of course). Perhaps it's because the baby isn't quite as novel as she was brand-new-out-of-the-box. Perhaps the kids are busier in the new house. Perhaps they haven't had the chance since I wear her most of the time. But today, it happened again. Cote was happily cooing and kicking on the carpeted floor of my closet while I folded and put away clothes.

It doesn't matter where I hide. The older two always find me. John was first. He was thrilled to see his baby sister available and in a good mood. He planted himself on the floor beside her, reciprocating the coos and smiles. Hannah came tearing into the room, beside herself to find TWO siblings on the floor. She was pretty sure that meant a good time was about to be had. My heart swelled at the Norman Rockwell-ness of it all.

Then it started. Bickering. Rivalry. Name-calling. Cries of injustice. In an episode of deja vu, I uttered the parental inquest once again, "What's the problem here?"

This time Hannah answered as self-righteous as John did the previous time, "Mommy, John's horking the baby down."

Inwardly, I.....

Oh, who am I kidding? There was nothing inward. I just plain, down-right, laughed out loud. I burst into peals of maniacal mom laughter. Sometimes, that's all you can do.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Smokin' Step Aerobics

Fitness guru, Holly Laughner explains how a stay-at-home mother of three can manage a smokin' step aerobics workout session at the same time she prepares breakfast. Her amazing personal narrative is located below:

I discovered this great new exercise program after we moved into our new home. Our large rancher with basement walkout provides the maximum area to get the most of my morning routine.

First, I turned on the stove and placed peppered, nitrate-free bacon in the pan. Then I poured drinks and began to crack eggs. I noticed the bacon was beginning to smoke a little, so I removed it from the heat and scrambled the eggs.

About then, I realized it was time to get loud and get moving. Just about any step aerobics class is going to have those two elements: loudness and lots of movement. I propose my exercise program, however, includes those two components with a flair that has been previously unseen.

The rhythm of my workout was not dictated by some heavily-syncopated modern music. It was dictated by a smoke alarm. Immediately, I slid a kitchen chair under the source of the noise and waved the white flag of surrender in its face. The sound subsided. I got down out of the chair as I noticed the smoke alarm in the garage beginning to sound and the one near the children's bedrooms. I ran to open every door on the main level and back to the source of it all in the kitchen because it was howling again.

Up a chair. Wave! And off the chair and sprint. And open the garage door. And up another chair. Smell the burn! Whooohooooo. Feeling good now, kids?! We're like the healthiest members of this neighborhood before nine a.m. And one more time. Up the chair. Rest in the higher altitude. You've earned it, you multitasking dynamo!

So as I panted from atop the improvised ladder, I marveled in the amazing stillness and cloud of peppered bacon aromas wafting around me. And then I heard it. There was a sound. A shrill repetitive beeping sound from the belly of the beast. How the heck is that possible? Smoke rises, right?

I froze, hoping it was a post-traumatic aural hallucination. But, my friends, it was not. The ceaseless racket continued to emanate from my basement, only barely muted by a single door to the echoing deep. My ten-year-old son was wide-eyed with excitement and the hopes that our homeschool might be cancelled for the day. My two-month-old baby was sitting, apparently underwhelmed by it all in her reclined highchair. My three-year-old daughter was standing horrified, mouth agape and hands over her ears. This was the quietest my three children have ever been at the same time and there was absolutely no way for me to enjoy the moment.

I dismounted and ran downstairs, only to find a First Alert alarm control panel informing me that the fire alarm was going off in my house. My dear little white box, you were not, in fact, the first alert by a long shot. But, I'd like to welcome you to the party anyway.

I happened to know that the security system is not connected to any outside service. Or at least I hoped that I was sure. If it was, I was very disappointed in the reaction time of the local volunteer fire department. I had half a mind to write them a letter.

I searched for an off button or a cancel button. I pressed several different buttons and called my husband, who laughed and asked, "What did you do? Burn some bacon?" After his extreme helpfulness, I proceeded to randomly press buttons and eventually the offending alarm ceased. I still have no idea which combination of commands ended the siren. I'm glad it did. Do you think the previous residents left me an owner's manual somewhere, in the event I ever have another impromptu exercise session?

Now ya'll sit down and stop acting ridiculous. It's time for breakfast. Yes, John, and then school. That, my little multi-age class of life learners, was our lesson on physical fitness and fire safety. Eat your bacon.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Grand Opening of Sector 2

We have moved into our new house in Chattanooga. The most exciting part is the formal dining room we have commandeered for the purpose of homeschooling. In our previous house, there was a schooling area but not a room dedicated as such. In an effort to make the room special and to commemorate the first day of schooling here, we are celebrating with an official grand opening.

John came up with a name for the room. Since this is the second place we are schooling, it is called "Sector 2". It sounds mysterious and official. Perfect! We also discussed the purpose of the room and prayed as we dedicated it to God and to our learning.

John baked a gluten-free, dairy-free cake with verbal assistance. Hannah hindered. (I mean "helped".) Hannah added a number 2 candle to the cake and asked if we could use a fire thingy and blow it out. Of course, I said yes. So we sang "Happy Schooling to Us" and they blew out the candle together.

There was a ribbon cutting ceremony. Both children used scissors to cut the ribbon in front of one of the entryways to Sector 2. Now they are creating commemorative pieces of artwork to hang in the room. Later, we'll play some board games.

I'm particularly fond of the wheeled teacher's chair which allows me to glide all over the room. It's almost as fun as roller skating. Nobody sits in the office chair but the teacher! No, and stop asking.

The principal was not available for pictures and was unable to be present at the ceremony. He was working in the financial department to ensure the schooling budget is met appropriately.

Grand opening photo gallery: Gallery