Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Day at the Fair

Everybody is ready for the fair!
Meeting the animals:

Dancing the Hokey Pokey:

Once Cousins headed off with their parents, it was time for us to grab a quick dinner (mmm mmm sausage) and hit the Midway:

It wasn't too long before Agent 004 called it a night.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I Love Blogs

Most of the time I spend online is "visiting" with my friends. I know a few of these folks in real life (like the Ruiz family, the Library Despot, and OCP librarian), but I have met most of them here on the world wide web. Through their blogs and group postings I have gotten to know fine people like Kate, Heather, Julie, Amber, PisecoMom, and Patricia. I have only just "met" Merranda, Angie and Carisa, but it looks like I may be stopping by their blogs to visit for a long time as well.

They make me laugh, they make me cry, and they commiserate with me when I am down. Most of all they let me know that other women worry incessantly about their kiddos, but take joy in the gift of life.

I love this little world of blogs. My online friends teach me so much, and so do the blogs I read specifically for advice. These are my "top seven" informational blogs:

  • Parent Hacks : Simple, often obvious, tips for parents. Who would have thought of carrying water bottles in a 6-pack holder?
  • Montessori Free Fall : Written by Tatum's mom, this blog describes one family's adventures in doing Montessori preschool at home. Stephanie gives the nitty-gritty detail of adapting montessori methods to the home. For a good starting point, read her series on "Choosing Montesori Materials."
  • A Bit of This and a Bit of That : Another Montessori preschool blog, this one is written by an English woman living in Japan. It is very helpful to see how Ebi-kun progresses. Jo also runs frequent Montessori exchanges.
  • Little Acorns Tree House : Little Acorns Country Day School has two students -- sisters Ellie and Savannah. Their mother is the teacher and administrator, while their father is the school benefactor and guest science and technology teacher. The blog is a very thorough log of the girls' work and mom's curriculum choices. I have found the planning posts very helpful, and their new home-designed art curriculum is very comprehensive.
  • The Mom With Brownies : Links to free educational materials. What could possibly be more useful?
  • Home Ec 101 :Cooking, cleaning, and living on the cheap. All the info that a SAHM needs.
  • The Simple Dollar : Since we are talking about living on one income, simple-to-digest financial advice is very important. Trent explains the basics of savings, investment, and living on a budget in terms that even I can understand.
After all of that seriousness, I need some entertainment. These are seven blogs I visit for a laugh or a cry. Who needs cable anyway?
  • Crummy Church Signs : Just like the subtitle says, this blog offers "critical analysis of critically bad church signs." The signs (and the commentary) are hilarious. Don't worry Christians, the purpose is not to blaspheme but to enlighten.
  • Chocolate for the Brain : Absolutely the funniest thing in the blogosphere, this witty mother of eight makes me snort every single time. For a good laugh read Moon Woman Speaketh and Relative Math.
  • Ask Sister Mary Martha : If Sherry Antonetti is the funniest mother on the web, Sister Mary Martha is the funniest nun. The tag line is "Life is tough. But Nuns are tougher. If you need helpful advice just Ask Sister Mary Martha. She'll help you. Just don't expect any sympathy." Sister answers any and all questions with the funniest (and most accurate) explanations of Catholic teachings possible.
  • Alive and Young : A Catholic humor blog, Alive and Young has two very funny series: "Adventures in Catechesis" and "Not Said by Jesus Sunday" as well as several posts about beer and the theology (see Hypostatic Union of Christ: The Black and Tan).
  • Vita Familiae : Mother of four four and under (with a fifth child on the way), Lora Lynn has a knack for finding the best in life with toddlers. Think you had a rough day? Read this, or catch up with her current posts about forced bedrest.
  • World's Greatest Mommy : Another funny mom of many, the World's Greatest Mommy has an introspective style. To get a sense of her humor read the descriptions of each of her family members along the left side bar. Then for a switch of pace, read the series she wrote about her dad for Father's Day this year.
  • Roses are Red, Violets are Violet : I started reading Katie's blog because she has a six-year-old son adopted from Russia. I continued reading it because her prose is profound and her poetry delightful. The blogs above frequently make me laugh, but this one more frequenlty, makes me cry. Some of the best are posts about her mother such as "Butterflies" and "A Lime Popsicle," but her parenting posts are equally inspiring.

I hope that this satisfies my responsibilities as a double winner of the "Brillante Award" :)

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Little Mommy

Agent 004 walks to the library with her babies in a double stroller.
I wonder where she has seen that?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Day in Our Life

With the start of the school year comes a more structured routine for everyone. This is what the day looks like for the children.* Other than bus times, it hasn't changed much from our routine last spring.

  • Morning Routine
    • Wake up
    • Change into clothes
    • Breakfast
    • Brush Teeth
  • (7:25) School Bus
  • Free Play while Mama completes her morning routine
  • Clean up toys
  • Red Room School
    • prayer
    • calendar
    • phonemic awareness
    • table work
    • free choice mat work (increasingly Montessori in format)
  • Snack
  • Morning Activity
    • Monday: errands
    • Tuesday: house cleaning
    • Wednesday: library/playground/picnic
    • Thursday: visit
    • Friday: house cleaning
  • Lunch
  • After-lunch clean-up
    • bus table
    • (1 child) wipe placemats
    • (1 child) put stray items away
    • (Cousin P) go in for nap
  • Art Project (frequently superseded by Morning Activity on Monday, Wednesday & Thursday)
  • Potty/brush teeth
  • Quiet Time
    • {Girls stay in room with books/quiet toys}
    • {Mama's free time}
      • 5 minute pick up
      • 15 minutes on computer (email, blogs, news, write blog)
      • fold laundry
      • household projects
    • put laundry away in bedrooms / set out tomorrow's clothes
  • (3:02) School Bus
  • Snack
  • Play Outside
  • (4:30-5pm) Cousins depart
  • Television or indoor play while Mama prepares dinner
  • Dinner
  • Evening Routine
    • bus table
    • (Agent 002) shower or bath / (Agent 004) play with Papa
    • (Agent 004) shower or bath / (Agent 002) play with Papa
    • Bedtime Book Club
    • {Mama tidies house}
Next task? Put this into a format that my non-readers can refer to.
*Agent 002 is at school between the two designated bus times, and thus scheduled items between those two points do not apply to him. The Cousins arrive dressed, but do eat breakfast at our house.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

My Little Boy

My little boy
is a First Grader.

Friday, August 22, 2008

My Mama told me there would be days like this.

What she didn't tell me is that there would be weeks like this.

So the planned posts (awards, pictures and an analysis of "normal life") will have to wait.

We are off to Grandma's house and baby cousin's baptism.

"See you" in a few days.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Of a Brave Young House Cat

Because even a cat requires a theme song.

(Performed to the tune of Brennan on the Moor)

'Tis of a brave young house cat
Her story I will tell:
Her name is Janice Aloysius,
You all should know her well.

One day into the driveway,
And then into the house
Looking for a gourmet meal
Or maybe for a mouse.

Janice the house cat
Janice the house cat
Oh! Brave and undaunted was our
Janice the house cat.

One night in our basement
A flame she did see.
It was just a boiler, but
She attacked it with glee.

Janice the house cat
Janice the house cat
Oh! Brave and undaunted was our
Janice the house cat.

Singed whiskers
our cat it did not deter.
When pipes did leak
She was licking the sewer.

Janice the house cat
Janice the house cat
Oh! Brave and undaunted was our
Janice the house cat.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I Love it When the Entertainment Comes to Us

Workers putting in a temporary water main, as viewed from our home.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Busy Little Warillevers

Agent 002's class ice-cream social, mr warilever's company picnic, two broken cars and a holy day of obligation all fell in the same week as Agent 004's birthday.

Other than the broken cars, it was a SPLENDID week.

I am too tired to blog coherently, so be prepared for a stream of consciousness brain-dump.

Agent 002 starts first grade (did you hear me? First Grade!) next week. The significance of this is lost on him, but he is excited to take the bus again. That is his favorite part of the school day. I would have thought that it would get old, but it hasn't. So I drew a picture of a bus on the calendar, and he asks me how many days until he gets to ride the bus. Repeatedly. I can't wait until school starts, if only so that he stops asking me about the bus.

The company picnic was loads of fun. His firm has a new tradition of playing an intra-firm softball game, then having a cookout at someone's house. Spouses and children are invited to play, and it is a good time. I made a few good defensive plays, but mr warillever's team won. (We play on opposite teams so that one of us can always be with the kids).

Friday was the Feast of the Assumption, a holy day of obligation for us Catholics. Mr warillever had a packed day, so he went alone to a lunch time mass in the city he works in; I took all four kids to my parents' parish. Even with three adults, it was a nightmare. How quickly we forget what it is like to keep a toddler contained for an hour. A short memory is a very useful thing for parenting....otherwise I am not sure that we would ever have more children.....

Agent 004's birthday deserves its own post or two. I will post some pictures once I wrestle with camera-computer interaction a bit. Very nice. Very nice.

I'll end this mad ramble with a prayer request. Mr warillever's mother had surgery this morning (which went well), but she will have two more in the coming weeks. Please pray for her recovery, and for her very worried children. We are going down for a visit this weekend.

Off to fold paper boats in the backyard swimming pool. Gotta enjoy the sunny weather while we can.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Difference Between Boys and Girls

A recent drive past the state prison led to a conversation about the criminal justice system. I described prison as where grown ups go if they do something very bad. The agents had hundreds of questions which I answered as honestly and simply as I could.

After a lull in the conversation, Agent 004 said

When I am a grown up I will not do any bad things to go to prison.
Agent 002 responded
When I am in prison I will turn on my space ship and go VROOM and knock the fence down and get out of jail.
And that, my friends, is how a little boy thinks...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

This is Why We Don't Have Cable

I was up much too late watching the Olympics.

Way, way too late.

Now I have a babygirl birthday to celebrate.

Back in a few days!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Painting Al Fresco

When it is hot, we bring our art outside.

The kids love to clean up!

For more hot fun, visit this week's "Unplugged Project."

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Child Care Tip #374

If you are going to let the toddler play in the tupperware cabinet, first ensure that he cannot reach into the adjoining cabinet where the glass punchbowl is stored.

Friday, August 08, 2008


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Slime on a Monday Afternoon

I am not one of those moms that dresses the kids in white or stops them from playing in mud, but even I have limits to the amount of mess that I can handle in my home.

We have been known to bake cakes, make our own play dough, and create silly putty. But slime?

Even I should have known better than that. Just the name should have started me shuddering.

Here are my four darlings mixing and measuring the borax and glue:

So far, so good. but here are the results:

A mess!
We had blue goo on the floor, on the cabinets, and knotted into F's curly hair. Even though borax is washable, it took two cycles of the washing machine to get all of that glue out of the aprons. And F's hair? There were a lot of tears involved in combing that out. They had a lot of fun, but this is not an activity that I will soon repeat.

Where do y'all draw the line on messy activities?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008


I'll be blogging about the past for a bit longer.

The camera and the computer are refusing to talk to one another, so I can't show you any of the neat (well, messy really) activities we have been doing over the last week. They're kind of like a married couple having a spat.

And I just noticed that I am coming up quick on a major blogging milestone. I have a 500th post planned, but I want to get all of those half-baked draft posts published so that the number really reflects 500 public posts.

Expect some more posts about Army business cards and three-month-old bonfires.

And hope that the computer and camera start getting along. You'll want to see some pictures of the "clean mud" we made yesterday.

Did God Make You a Soldier?

We spent a few days with mr warillever's brother Ichabod a few weeks ago. He is a gracious host and a good cook. And we always do fun things like go for hikes or go to a nature museum when we are with him.

On this trip we went onto the military base where he works. The kids were fascinated. They peppered him with questions about his job an (mostly) about hi uniform. Then Agent 004 asked him "Did God make you a soldier?"

He paused for a moment and answered, "No. I'd like to think that God approves of what I'm doing, but I chose to be a soldier."

Now she wanted to know (as all of you with three-year-olds will predict), why would he want to be a soldier.

His answer?

  1. I get to travel to all sorts of neat places.
  2. I feel like I am doing something important to help people.
  3. This way I don't have to match my own clothes.

On the same trip, we stopped in at Ichabod's office. I snagged one of his business cards from the pile on his desk.

Army business cards? Does anyone else get the ridiculous image of soldiers exchanging cards in the middle of battle? I am completely aware that the majority of a officer's job (especially in Ichabod's current assignment) is quite civilized and business like, involving things like social functions and networking, but still.... that image made me giggle.

Monday, August 04, 2008

The Intermittant Classroom

Our daughter does not go to school, nor is she homeschooled.

She is three years old. Well, almost four.

In a sane world, this would be considered too young for schooling, but in the hyper-parenting age in which we live, she is not considered a baby or a child, but a "preschooler." As if her purpose in life was to attend school.

It isn't. She is a child. A child who loves to sing songs and play with her dolls and hug the neighbors' chickens. A child who is learning the difference between right and wrong, is learning about how much God loves her, and is learning about the safe way to pet a dog. Along the way she has also learned to count to 29, write her name, and read a handful of "-at" and "-an" words.

She learned those things because she wanted to. And when she wanted to play with her dolls instead, that is what she did.

Which is okay with me.

Most days.

On other days I worry. Not because she is unhappy or needs to know anything in particular, but because I fear that she might be "falling behind."

Every six weeks or so, I panic and try to "teach" her things like phonics and math and handwriting. She plays her role well, mimicking my sounds and writing things on paper; she is quite an intelligent girl and she really likes to please me. Her tolerance for such activities, however, is limited to short bursts. She will work patiently for ten minutes or so before she starts whining or clinging or doing something else altogether like drawing pictures.

On good days, I will say, "Great job, Agent 004. Why don't we go play with dolls now?" On other days, however, I will get impatient and push her to do more. It sometimes takes me another five minutes before I get a reality check and cut the activity off.

So if you are wondering why you haven't seen many "homepreschool" posts on this blog recently, that's why. I am trying my hardest to let the kids be kids.

Isn't it ironic how hard it is to do less?

June's Unblogged Fun

I just came accross this post from mid-June in "draft status." Pictures of our schoolwork, outdoor play, and backyard bonfire.


Sunday, August 03, 2008

Grover's Presidential Tour

Grover insisted on blogging a bit more about "his" vacation. In this post, he tells you about an obsession he shares with mr warillever -- presidential history.

Forget the imbecile act you see on tv. In real life, I am a history buff. In particular I like to visit presidential sites.

I have been to the Lincoln Boyhood homesite; Calvin Coolidge's farm in Vermont; the Franklin Pierce Homestead in New Hampshire; James Polk's house in Columbia Tennessee as well as the site of his Nashville home; the Hermitage (Andrew Jackson); Mont Vernon (George Washington); Herbert Hoover's childhood home in Iowa; Gerald Ford's birthplace in Omaha as well as his museum in Grand Rapids; Eisenhower's museum in Kansas; James Garfield's and Rutherford B. Hayes' homes in Ohio; and Harry Truman's house in Independence Missouri.

The warillevers have also gone to a few (JFK, Adams, Adams, and Chester Arthur) without me. I still hold that against them.

On our California trip we stopped by the Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon's library/museums. Here I am in front of both signs:

I love it when the warillevers take my picture.
The Reagan museum is at his ranch in the Simi Valley. Beautiful view.
The Nixon museum is located at his birthplace. Pretty neat little house. We didn't go in, though. Something about the kids being too tired for a stuffy museum. I need my own wheels. Or rotors ! Then I would go to every single presidential site in the whole country! Maybe Ronnie would carry me?