Friday, June 29, 2007

Over the River and Through the Woods

.... to Grandma's house we go.

I'll be offline for a few days, but talk to y'all soon. I bet that I'll have some good stories for you -- traveling with kids does that.

And if you need something to entertain you while I'm gone, read about the indulgences you can earn while toting children around the country (by Ironic Catholic).

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Three Things I'd Like my Kids to Believe

MamaBlogga is running a Group Writing Project this week. The theme is “Three things I want my kids to . . .” You can finish that infinitive with whatever verb you like (do, say, be, wear, have, get away with), and add any qualifiers you like (today, this summer, before they drive me crazy).

There have been some great posts about teaching your children to be polite, three things for kids to know about their mother, and what one mom hopes her sons will find in a bride.

I decided to go a bit more basic, and enumerate those things that I would like my children to believe:

1) one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

2) one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end

3) the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of Life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.

Once we get those three down, we can work on the rest of the Nicene Creed, and all of the nice things that flow from it, like faith, love, and hope.

The Good, the Bad, and what I Actually Post

Roses are Red, Violets are Violet posted today about blogging the "not-so-pretty" things that come with raising a child.

A friend pointed out that she only blogs about the "pretty things," and ignores (at least in her blog), the ugly side of parenting. She points out that it could be fun and helpful to know how your own parents handled such situations. And she may be right.

I don't blog about the ugly things either, but that is by design. My blog is not an open door to my life; it is a selection that I have chosen to set down in writing to share. It is also what I choose to remember.

My children have their good moments and bad moments, but I love them all the time. And I want my blog to reflect that. Same deal for my husband and nieces and nephews.

I promised my husband and myself that I would never post something that would embarrass any of my children if he or she came accross my blog when they are twenty-five years old. Thus far I think I have kept that promise.

There is nothing deceitful about this -- any parent reading your blog should know that no child is always perfect, and we don't want to frighten the not-yet parents with our scary stories :)

So I think I'll keep on keepin' on with my happy-cheery blog. Because I really don't want to remember the tears, bruises, and poop stains in twenty years.

WFMW -- 15-minute Siesta

Time for another installment of "Works for me Wednesday," in which I tell you about those little things that make our lives a little easier. Check out Rocks in my Dryer for other ideas.

Life gets a bit chaotic with four little kids in the house. Sometimes I just need a break, and so do the kids.

After lunch, I tidy the kitchen, make sure all of the kids have used the toilet and/or have a clean diaper, then we read one book together, put the girls (2 year old "twin cousins" Agent 004 and Cousin F) in for nap, put the baby down on his play mat, tell my "big guy" (Agent 002 is five years old now) to lay quietly on the couch with a book or toy, set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes, and make a cup of tea.

Then I read the newspaper, flip through a book of poetry, or write in my journal. Sometimes I even post on my blog.

Once the timer beeps, Agent 002 has the option of joining me in the kitchen, but many days he falls asleep or continues to play quietly for another ten or twenty minutes.

Refreshed by the quick break, I then go on a cleaning blitz before the cacophony begins again.

Works for me!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

One Deep Breath -- Creepy Crawlies

One Deep Breath Week 56 -- Creepy Crawlies

Bee hovers, gnat flits,
mosquito goes for the kill --
summer has arrived.

He Really Said it

Agent 002:

Look, there is the moon. Let's go to it!
And then he started running toward it.

Yes, this is the same kid that tried to swat down an airplane with a stick.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Where we Eat

Even when the Agents sleep and the Cousins go home, mr warillever and I have full-size representations of them on the table, covered in wipe-off plastic. I wish the real kids were this washable.

Elf PortraitI traced each of the kids on butcher paper, then let the kids color themselves in. I suggested clothing, but 004 colored her whole elf pink, like her skin. Cousin F liked herself plain. I helped Cousin P a little bit with the coloring. Agent 002 is as colorful on paper as he is in real life.

Toe PaintingHere they are working on the background:
I told them that they could paint with their feet. So they painted the tops of their feet......At least the paint is water soluble.....

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

WFMW -- Clean Counters

Counter Covered
Originally uploaded by warillever.
Here is a newly weekly feature at reprehriestless warillever -- Works for me Wednesday. Hosted by Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer. Here are everyone else's tips.

Excited now? Here is my tip:

I have tile countertops. I like them -- they're sturdy, heat resistant, and pretty. But the grout gets pretty gross pretty quick, especially with sticky foods like bread dough. And scrubbing grout with a toothbrush is not my idea of fun.

The solution?

I put down a plastic-coated placemat under messy jobs. It keeps the counter clean, and keeps weird marks off of the dough. And the placemat wipes right off. Now that I discovered this piece of genius, I use them all over the kitchen -- under the blender when the kids make smoothies, next to the range for my spatulas and wooden spoons, and under the dish drain when I need to put it on the counter.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Another Haiku

Quando o vento soprar...
Originally uploaded by Azorina.
A shoot, bud, and bloom
then gray, then gone in the breeze
to start life anew.

Other's work at:
One Deep Breath #55


Originally uploaded by mateofiero.
Scritch, scratch, rake, hoe, weed
all that work in the garden,
The daisy just grows.

Other's work at:
One Deep Breath #55

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day Hero

It's Father's Day, and we are letting mr warillever sleep in, because he deserves it.

When a feverish child woke us up at 3:30 last night, he was the one who was able to calm her own and get her back to sleep (after 45 minutes in the rocking chair together).

I held her, gave her tylenol, and laid down next to her. She was still miserable. But all it took was a lot of Papa patience.

And she is up and about and obnoxiously loud this morning.

We'll let him sleep until the kid noise wakes him up.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

MIsheard Rhymes

Agent 002's version:

Baa baa black sheep
Had you seen a wolf?
Yes sir, yes sir
There it was.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

When the Toys have Toys

Da Toys
Originally uploaded by warillever.
Our children have a lot of toys.

A ridiculous number of toys.

But at least they are generous with them -- they have given a handful of toys to "Baby." She has her own crib, high chair, blankets, rattle, pajamas, feeding bowl, spoon, and pet cat. Her cat even has its own toys (borrowed from Janice).

All of this is stored in her very own bedroom. Really. Look at the picture.
Baby's Bedroom

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Two Quizzes and a Quote

You Are 88% Massachusetts

Wicked pissa! Now go down to Dunkies and celebrate.

You Are a Ham Sandwich

You are quiet, understated, and a great comfort to all of your friends.

Over time, you have proven yourself as loyal and steadfast.

And you are by no means boring. You do well in any situation - from fancy to laid back.

Your best friend: The Turkey Sandwich

Your mortal enemy: The Grilled Cheese Sandwich

And the quote (from Irish Wisdom):
A wild goose never reared a tame gosling.

Bread Daily

Ours is not a low-carb household. I buy Goldfish and salt-free-saltines by the truckload, and the kids eat more "breakfast crackers" (Spoon Size Shredded Wheat), Grapenuts, and "flakes" (Honey Bunches of Oats) than humanly possible.

And I bake bread nearly every day.

My favorite is Honey Wheat (recipe from the back of the King Arthur whole-wheat flour bag), but mr warillever and the Agents prefer French bread, so I make it several times a week.

The recipe (adapted to stand-mixer):

"Easiest and Best French Bread" -- adapted from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

3 1/2 Cups all-purpose or bread flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
Kosher salt and herbs (optional)
  • If the yeast is refrigerated, bring to room temperature before starting measure 1 teaspoon into mixing bowl 15 minutes before everything else.
  • mix salt, yeast, water, and half of flour in mixer bowl. Switching to dough hooks, add remaining flour a quarter cup a time.
  • none of the measurements need be exact -- if the dough is very dry, add a bit more water 1 tablespoon at a time until it is a "defined but shaggy ball"
  • dump dough into a large bowl. Cover loosely with a plastic bag, plastic wrap or a thick dish towel.
  • Let sit for 2 to 3 hours in a warm place. The longer it sits, the more the flavor.
  • sprinkle a small amount of flour onto counter (we actually do this on a platic placemat so that we don't have flour ground into the counter every day), cut the dough into 2 or 3 equal pieces, and shape each into a ball, sprinkling with more flour flour if necessary. (if you want rolls, cut into 12-16 pieces, if you want one large loaf don't etc). Cover with a towel and let rest for 20 minutes or so.
  • Spread a large heavy piece of cavas or cotton on a table and sprinkle lightly ith flour (you can use a tablcloth, floded into quarters to give it stiffness; I use a fabric placemat folded in half)
  • Press each dough ball flat, then fold it over on itself twice; seal the seam and roll the dough into a snake (like it is playdough).
  • Place the loaf, seam side up inot the cloth (in cooking jargon,this is called a couche). Cover all loaves with a cloth and let rise for 1.5-2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 450. Make sure it is really up to temperature (may take half hour to preheat)
  • when ready to cook, sprinkle kosher salt and/or herbs onto top of loaf, then slash the top several times with a razor blade or very sharp paring knife Slide onto baking sheet or baking stone. Spray the inside of the oven with water to create steam, then put the loaves in the oven.
  • After 5 minutes, spray oven again, then bake another 12 minutes or so (cookbook says 25-35 minutes, but in my oven, the loaf is overcooked well before 15 minutes).
  • Remove from oven, spray with water if you want a shiny crust, and let cool on a wire rack.
As I typed the recipe in, it sounds complicated, but it really isn't.
The dough sits on the counter most of the day, and we have fit it into
our daily routine. I set out the mixer and let the yeast warm up
while I eat breakfast; after lunch I roll it into balls, drink a cup
of tea, and then form into loaves; I bake the bread as I make dinner
(or earlier if that's how the day is working out).

Some important points:
  • use good flour. I have settled on King Arthur, but any quality unbleached flour should do.
  • this recipe also works with whole grain flours, but needs at least some white flour in order to rise well.
  • the loaves will be more dense in the winter, so split the dough into two loaves when it is cool. In warmer wet weather split into three loaves

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Discipline Backfires, or a Budding Flybaby

Says Agent 002, as I cleared the toys from the playroom that the kids had refused to clean:

Whee! Without toys, I have room to play!
And he ran and jumped and had a grand 'ole time in the empty room.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

I Never Have the Camera

...when the kids are being exceptionally photogenic.

Four kids and I went out for a Wednesday morning adventure, and along the way we

  • walked through woods
  • picked flowers
  • drew with sticks on a dirt road
  • ran in tall grass
  • tossed buttercups from a wooden bridge
  • ventured into the "big kid" parts of the town playground (a new thing for 004 and F)
  • found some Biscuit books at the library
  • purchased provisions at the grocery store
  • ate a picnic by the waterfall
  • searched for pinecones
  • And came home to any little boy's dream -- large trucks in front of our house, because our neighbor's driveway is being paved.
The trip was only marred by diarrhea from one of the toilet trained kids, but that is why I carry wipees and spare underpants in my bag.

And the best part -- I now have the afternoon to myself. Agent 004 and Cousins F+P are sleeping soundly, and Agent 002 is transfixed by the heavy machinery.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A Proud Moment

After library story time last week, I brought the Agents and Resident Cousins out to the adjoining playground.

As I passed sunscreen around to all the moms that had forgotten it, one of the moms said,"Look at her -- she's here with four kids, and she is so calm."

I assumed that the library moms thought of me as the lady who can't control her kids -- one rolling on the floor sucking on a toy, one banging on the catalog computer, one hiding under the puzzle tables, and the fourth wedged between my elbow and hip with drool running down his face.

And they probably do think that. But they also know that I come prepared with sunscreen, water bottles, snacks, bandaids, and changes of clothes.

You are my Imaginary Friend

My brain often works in second person; I hear my thoughts as a monologue spoken to a silent partner. To-do-lists, memories, and novel ideas become retrospective stories, as do issues that I need to work through and musings about the future.

The listener's identity has varied, but has always been a person -- a teacher, an old friend, a reporter, or my grandchild. This person never speaks, but my stories are somehow a response to his or her questions.

And then I started blogging.

You rarely read them, but these monologues are now framed as blog posts. As I go through my daily life -- folding laundry, driving, sweeping the floor -- I compose essays for this blog. I don't actually transcribe all of these mutterings (yes,my lips sometimes move as I think), but if I did, I would be the world's most prolific blogger.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Rain Rain Go Away

dibble dibble dop
rain beating on metal roof
happy to be dry

Song Before Breakfast

Hopeful each morning I arise
And splash the cobwebs from my eyes.
I brush my teeth and scrape my chin
And bravely at the mirror grin.
Sternly I force myself to say,
Huzza! huzza! another day!
O happy me! oh lucky I!
Another chance with life to vie!
Another golden opportunity
To rise and shine in the community!
Another target for my aim!
Another whack at wealth and fame!
Almost I feel within me stir
A budding force of character.
Who knows, indeed, but what I might
Perhaps have altered overnight?
Today may be the day, who knows,
That sees me triumph o'er my foes:
Gluttony, simony, and sloth,
And drawing on the tablecloth;
Perjury, arson, envy, pride,
And renting tales of homicide;
Barratry, avarice, and wrath,
And blowing bubbles in the bath.
The differences this day may bring!
Perhaps I'll work like anything;
I'll travel to my tasks on foot,
And in the bank the carfare put,
And buy a haircut when I need it,
And if I get a letter, read it,
And every eve improve myself
By inching through the Five Foot Shelf.
The things I want to do, I won't,
And only do the things don't.
What lordly aspirations dawn
The while I draw my trousers on!
On beamish morning, big with hope
And noble tasks with which to cope,
If I should fail you, do not sorrow;
I'll be a better man tomorrow.
Ogden Nash

Sunday, June 03, 2007

8 Things

The rules are simple…Each player lists 8 facts/habits about themselves. The rules of the game are posted at the beginning before those facts/habits are listed. At the end of the post, the player then tags 8 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know that they have been tagged and asking them to read your blog.

  1. I've always fancied myself a poet, but have never really tried writing poetry.
  2. I am a "published writer," but only once, unpaid, in a regional professional association journal.
  3. I have worked as a file clerk, cashier, janitor, waitress, teacher, and library assistant.
  4. I really liked being a waitress and a janitor. Not so much cashier or teacher.
  5. I earned a Masters degree in Library Science, and have stayed home with my children ever since.
  6. I have yet to regret it.
  7. I chew my nails. Constantly.
  8. I spent way too much time writing this list.
I tag:
The Library Despot
The Ruiz family

Saturday, June 02, 2007

If I Don't Post

...assume that I am outside.
Trike Guarding the Garden

A Day at the Beach

Pretty Girl
Originally uploaded by warillever.
Mr warillever's business meeting ended early,and rather than driving back to his office, he picked us up for a spontaneous beach trip. It was especially appreciated because he has been very busy lately.

Except for the empty beach and 50 degree water, it was just like summer!
My Boys