Tag Archives: kiddos

Interesting times

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Friends. I’m in a weird place (metaphorically speaking; I’m physically at home in my filthy little office) and I am also about to leave for Europe on a long-awaited ten day trip to three different cities.

Normally when at a crossroads I would not necessarily go on an admittedly expensive (though not lavish) trip but this was booked and paid for months ago, before Shenanigans Ensued About Which I Shall Not Elaborate On The Internet.  But a) it’s not refundable and b) it will be beneficial to heart and soul.  So off we go, The Lovely Rhonda and I.

In other news not related to any Shenanigans or metaphorical crossroads, my kid, along with her BFF, won first prize in their category for their National History Day project about Irina Sendler, the Polish nurse who rescued children from the Warsaw Ghetto during WWII.  The project consisted of a large display board with photos and information about Irina Sendler as well as an interview of both girls about their subject.  They will go on to the state competition in a couple of months.  Here are some photos of them jubilating:

First a thumbs-up:

NHD winner 2017

 

….And now with eyebrow.

NHD winner 2017 that one eyebrow tho

Naturally we could not be prouder.

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Sew Happy

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So my 9 year old giant kid, Delia, and I visited my mother on Friday.  It was a day off of school and I seized the opportunity to drag her down to Mom’s for a sewing lesson.  With a surprise.

I mentioned to Delia that we were going to Grandma’s for a sewing lesson.

“But I already know how to sew,” she said.  Meaning that she could thread a needle and hand-stitch little projects from a kit and had made her own creations once or twice.

“Grandma wants to show you how to sew using a sewing machine,” I told her.  She seemed pleased.

We arrived in due course and Mom showed her around the sewing room and we looked at some projects, mostly quilts.  There was a box wrapped in cupcake-themed gift wrap on the dining room table, which we passed several times but was never mentioned.  Eventually Mom left the room and Delia sidled over to me.

“Mama, there’s that box over there but I don’t want to be rude and ask about it,” she said.

Note: this is a first.  I would not have been even slightly surprised had she dropped broad, obvious hints about wondering who that present could be for.  In fact, I was rather surprised not to hear them.

Eventually Mom returned and in due course asked Delia if she knew the expression, “the elephant in the room.”  She didn’t, so we explained it to her.  “So, what do you think the elephant in this room is?” Mom asked her.

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And so it was that she was given the box, and opened it, and inside was a small, neat beginner’s sewing machine.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon having a basic sewing lesson, learning to load the bobbin and thread the needle and make stitches.  It’s a very nice little machine, easy to use and quite good quality.

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As we packed up to leave Mom permitted us entry into the Inner Sanctum where bits and scraps of this and that were selected from her very tidily maintained Stash.  2014-01-31 13.44.51

We returned home rich in material goods (literally) and the next morning found Delia getting into the shower as I dragged myself out of bed.  I commended her on her initiative, and she told me that she figured if she took care of getting ready to go, she might have time for sewing before leaving for the Girl Scout function we had to attend.

She might have time for sewing. 

I think we’re doing something right here.

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Room-cleaning day: a comedy in three parts

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So The Lovely Rhonda and I give the children an allowance every couple of weeks, allegedly for chores that they do.  There are assigned chores (cleaning the catbox, taking out the recycling, etc) and there are “other duties as assigned,” such as filling the cat food dish or picking stuff up in the living room so I can vacuum.

Also a large part of allowance is cleaning your room, which we are dismal at enforcing and the spawn are equally, if not more, dismal at actually doing.

This morning TLR announced that rooms would need to be cleaned in order to receive the blessed allowances, and thus began our Morning of Travail.

As luck would have it, the eldest spawn cleaned her room yesterday at my behest, so she’s happily playing CADsoftwarewithastorylinecraftTM while the other girls toil away.

A sampling of the day’s activities thus far:

Madeline, the youngest at age 6, approaches clutching a calendar.  (We often refer to her in shorthand as M2 and Molly, age 8, as M1, denoting birth order)

M2: Mama, can we pwease put this up?

TLR: Yes, just put it on your desk for now.

M2: But my homewowk is on my desk and I can’t put this on top of my homewowk because my homewowk has to be on the top

TLR: Okay, so put this underneath your homework, on your desk.

M2: ‘K.  (races off)

Shortly thereafter Molly, the middle child, comes showing something else that must be looked upon immediately.  I can’t remember what because frankly it was so mind-bogglingly trivial that it barely registered in the first place.  TLR, a paragon of patience for reasons that I still cannot fathom, acknowledges the item and gently bids the child return to her room.

Approximately 90 seconds passes, after which Madeline returns announcing that she has cleaned her entire room.

TLR: That seemed kind of quick.  Did you clean the whole thing?

M2:  Yes.

TLR: So, everything is up off the floor?  Like, under your desk, and back by your toybox, and in front of your closet?

M2:  Well, no.  Not in fwont of my cwoset.  Because I never go there.

TLR:  You need to clean in front of the closet.

M2:  WHY?!

TLR (calmly): Because I said so.  Now go clean in front of the closet like I said.

M2 sighs heavily and trudges down the hall.

A moment later Molly appears.

M1: Mama?  I think Madeline is whining about something in her room.

TLR:  Oh?

M1: Yeah.  It sounds like she’s saying, like, “But I didn’t even do it,” or something.

TLR:  Well, why don’t you just not worry about it.

M1: But, it’s really hard to clean my room with her groans distracting me —

Me (at this point I cannot help myself): SO CLOSE YOUR DOOR.

At this point all of the rooms are reasonably clean and the youngest has bathed.  She emerges wearing a pair of jeans and complains to TLR that they are too big.  See?  And the jeans are touching my socks and I don’t like it when my jeans are touching my socks —

There is a beer-and-wine-thing tonight in downtown Bedroom Community, and TLR’s favorite vintner will be represented at a local independent theater we like to go to.  I think it’s safe to say we’ll be going.

 

Let the festivities begin!

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So this morning we ventured forth into the 22 degree weather to get our annual Christmas tree.  This marks the fifth straight year that we have done so as a family, going to the same tree farm each year.  We like this tree farm because although the trees are somewhat more expensive than the ones at the gas station, they have a petting zoo and free cocoa and they drill a hole in the end of your tree and stick it on a patented “Marriage Saving Tree Stand” so that when you get it home you just stand it up and it’s ready to decorate.

Note: feeding farm animals a handful of oats for 25 cents — thereby transforming a fifteen dollar bag of oats into a veritable gold mine for the farm (note to self: THIS IS WHERE THE MONEY IS EARNED, THE TREES ARE JUST TO LURE YOU IN) is a major draw for the children, but it’s the tree stand that brings The Lovely Rhonda and I back year after expensive year.  No price is too high to pay to get out of having to apply a rickety pot-metal stand to the nether regions of a majestic fir tree, and furthermore get it to stand up straight.   It’s a miserable hobby that nobody enjoys, least of all me, the designated spider-killer, lawn-mower and tree-erector of the household.

Each year we have also had to find our way to the tree farm as though we had never been there before, because we can only remember the vaguest details about it — “it’s the one with the goats, and I think there was a guy in suspenders?” — and certainly can’t be bothered to recall useful information such as, for instance, its name?  Or perhaps general location?

And so it was that we once again this year performed the traditional Festive Annual U-Turn when we realized we were, as with the previous three years, on the right road but going the wrong way.

Within moments of embarking from the Minivan of Justice we found a worthwhile adversary and, as always, I was elected to dispatch the thing.  We dragged its gory remains back to the van:

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Then as we drove it up to the barn for embalming shaking and baling, TLR said, Um, guys?  Look out the back window?  What is that?

And there was a llama being walked around the estate, all splay footed and knobbly kneed, and we had to pile out and meet it.

Her name was Shania Twain and we dutifully had a photo op.

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Once we’d exhausted the possibilities of the llama-tree-farm juxtaposition absurdity factor, we crept onwards to the barn.  We allowed the children to ride sans belts, on the floor if desired, and the eldest enjoyed a heretofore unprecedented joyride in the forbidden front seat.  Such is our carefree existence that this relaxation of protocol made them all giddy and unmanageable.

At the tiny guard hut where you pay for your kill tree, the cashier informed us jubilantly that the car ahead of us had gotten their tree for free.  One of the local credit unions was handing out envelopes with coupons in them for varying amounts off of the purchase price of the trees, and these lucky bastards fortunate holiday shoppers had received a fifty dollar coupon.  Ours was for twenty dollars for which we were pretty stoked, right up until we heard that.  THANKS FOR THE BUZZKILL, CASHIER LADY.

I kid.  The whole thing was pretty magical.  We had no idea they were doing that today and it was a really nice bonus to get the tree for basically one-third off.

We had that sucker shaken, baled and stuffed in to the MOJ in no time and proceeded on, as is customary, to the petting zoo.

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Then we piled into the MOJ and drove our trophy home, to display it in all its grisly splendor until the day after Christmas, at which point I will become physically unable to stand the disruption for ONE. MORE. SECOND. and strip it of ornaments and lights and dump it in the side yard.  The end.

Horse Camp, or how I nearly lost my left leg (again)

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So we have all these female children in our house and they are all girls.  Female girls of the girly female persuasion.

We made them all sign up for a certain Scouting Organization for Girls of the Female Persuasion, because we can.  We’re tyrants like that.

Last spring the two older girls went to an overnight horse camp where they did scouty things in the presence of, and briefly astride, gigantic hairy smelly animals capable of throwing them off and trampling them.  This is viewed, curiously, as a positive experience for them to have.

Earlier this evening I and my own personal offspring returned from “Mom & Me Horse Camp” which is similar except that we as mothers are obligated to attend as well.

We left yesterday afternoon.  I had to stop on the way and pick up a fast food burrito for my child because dinner was to be a “baked potato bar” which is where they give you a baked potato and various things to put on top of it and call it “dinner” even though it contains no “meat.”

As a meat-eating carnivorous flesh enthusiast, I was less than “enchanted,” but I like potatoes as much as the next person so I soldiered on regardless.  My child, however, is not a fan of the tuber.  So, bean burrito no onion please!  And off we went.

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We were assigned to cabin 5, the “LOVE” cabin.  The other cabins were named things like “FAITH” and “JOY.”  This camp serves as a Christian camp part of the year.  I, however, chose to think of cabin 5 as the LOVE SHACK in that whimsical corner of my brain that won’t shut up.

The other two moms in the cabin informed me that they had managed to piss off more than one presumably humorless Scout Mom.  I’d like to go on to say that we became BFFs, but we didn’t.  We did get on tolerably well, though.

One of the girls had ADHD which handily explained why she was frequently obnoxious, but from what I can tell the other child was merely ill-behaved.  Both moms were of the shouty threat-spewing type and neither child seemed to pay any attention to them.  What fun!

We all managed to get through the night without much drama although somebody left the heat on “comfort zone.”  This might have been all right but it seemed the comfort zone was one that originated in the tropics.  We all came through it somewhat sweatier than I personally felt was necessary.

In the morning we had breakfast and then there were various blocks of “free time” during which we were expected to “bond with our child.”  This meant “sitting around doing whatever we brought from home to do.”  In our case, this was Yahtzee and some crafty sewing projects, or books and Candy Crush, depending on which block of free time you referenced.  At one point we were urged to visit the BIG SWING.

I thought this would be a BIG LAME SWING but actually it was very cool  It was indeed a big swing, chained to two towering evergreen trees, and the hapless rider was not just strapped in but attended by two staff persons who were harnessed to the platform.  My child declined to ride the swing but did consent to be strapped to it.  Considering that this child would not ride any attraction that left the ground at Disneyland, this was a pretty big step and I was satisfied with it.

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I rode the BIG SWING and found it to be quite satisfactory, and indeed it was BIG and also a SWING, and therefore as advertised.  The first swing out over the ravine made my stomach get all wiggly, but after a moment that wore off and it was very peaceful and swooshy and verdant.  I was urged to follow tradition by spitting, and furthermore enhanced my BIG SWING experience by doing so on the way back thus avoiding spitting into my own face.

Eventually we were allowed to mount a horse, which as I understand it is the proper term despite sounding vaguely naughty, and an only slightly self-important teen led us around in circles up and down nearby hills for the better part of an hour.

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My horse’s name was Cricket.  I think this is rather a laugh, as crickets are known to rub their legs together of a warm summer evening to make a wee tiny chirping sound that is beloved by all.  This horse’s favorite pastime, on the other hoof, was to meander a bit too close to the occasional tree in an ill-disguised attempt to dislodge me from my seat.  When that proved less than fruitful, she resorted to a different game.  A large stick was protruding into the trail and given the nature of our jaunt, which is to say circuitous, we passed it twice.  On both occasions she skirted the stick by just enough to avoid getting stabbed by it, but by not quite enough to ensure that I was not stabbed by it.  Twice it jabbed into my leg and ground into me as we wandered, slowly and painfully, past.  It therefore left two large horrible swollen bruises on my leg, and managed to break the skin both times right through my trousers.  These little souvenirs of my Horse Camp Experience stung like the very dickens when I got into the shower on my return home.  THANKS A LOT CRICKET, YOU BIG BROWN JERK.

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Still, my kid enjoyed the ride fairly well.  She was very distracted by the prospect of the new Pokemon X and Y game that awaited her at home, so pretty much everything about the camp was more or less merely tolerated rather than truly experienced, thus making the sixty dollars per person money well spent, no?

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This thing that happened today

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So this evening I took it upon myself to finish the project I started yesterday.

Yesterday evening I got a wild hair to clean the minivan, Moby Titanic.  It had been a while and the filth level was teetering on the brink of acceptable levels of sloth.  It’s one thing to say, “Oh dear, sorry about the mess, you know how it is with kids” to the poor co-worker who has been forced to hitch a ride to lunch with you, as you toss a few library books and a stray sandal into the back seat.  It’s quite another to say, “Oh, you’re riding with me?  Give me about ten minutes to stuff all the crap into the stow-and-go compartments and hang half a dozen Little Tree air fresheners to hide the smell of moldering graham crackers and despair.”

And so it came to pass that I spent a carefree ninety minutes clearing away various bits of domestic detritus from the van’s interior,  vacuuming every last crevice and cleaning various of the grimier bits with spray cleaner.

It was during this time that I spied something between the front passenger seat and the mini-console next to it, something that I had long since given up for lost: my car keys.  They disappeared around New Year’s, because the last few days before you get married are obviously the ideal time for your keys to come up missing.  Evidently they had fallen there at some point during the frenzy of preparation or possibly the night we went to the drag show where I had a certain number of adult beverages, numbering perhaps three.  For me this is something like depravity.  Don’t judge.  Anyway, a stray Home Depot receipt or similar had then fallen atop them, concealing them completely from view in the narrow dark little space.

So this means that for seven months we drove my keys around, wondering all the while where they could possible have gotten away to.

I didn’t have time to wash the van’s exterior what with all the OCD detailing and lost-keyring-finding exultation going on, so this evening I fired up the garden hose and went to town on that thing.  It turns out that beneath the crusty layer of filth, it’s a fairly nice white minivan that we have.

My nine-year-old joined me in this which is to say that she pranced around with a soapy washrag taking swipes here and there at random locations on the van and then entreating me to spray her with the hose.  I enthusiastically reluctantly agreed  and thus was she soaked to the point of drippy saturation.  When she wanted to go in the house a bit later I got her a towel and brought her around to the back door so she could strip down out of view of the neighbors.  If we let her drip all over the newly-installed floors our handyman would probably kill me on sight.

My kid is what you could call an enthusiastic nudist, charmingly free of self-consciousness and all too ready to get naked whenever the occasion calls for it.  In another year or two this might become cause for alarm but for now it’s just the exuberant innocence of youth and I for one applaud it.

The Lovely Rhonda might have applauded it also up to tonight, but maybe not so much any longer.

I am not sure what in the world caused me to say it but my mouth opened and words came out:  “Hey Delia, I dare you to go over and press your naked butt up to the patio door.”

Perhaps it was that I remembered seeing a perfect print of her nose and mouth to the glass surface of one of the French doors a couple of days ago, and perhaps also it was that I possessed the knowledge that TLR was seated at her desk just on the other side of the doors.

Very possibly it was just the whispered voice of mischief keeping me from getting too close to sainthood.  Nobody likes a goody-goody.

My child doth not disappoint.  She raced over to the door and gave it the full moon, laughing and grinning like the juvenile delinquent that I am evidently raising her to be.

I am sorry to say that I then dared her to wave it back and forth, which she did.  At this point TLR came over to the doors and under pretense of unlocking them,  lowered the blinds in each one without a word and then yelled through the closed doors that she would never be able to get that sight out of her mind.

I laughed until I cried.  Eventually she let us in.

I am still laughing.  I am a terrible person.

Family Camp Week

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So every year for the past four years, and conceivably for all future years, we have attended Family Camp at our church’s camp out in the sticks.

I say for all future years because there are people attending this camp who have been doing so nearly all their lives, and they are older than I am.  And I don’t think it’s any big secret that I am terrifyingly decrepit.  So apparently once you begin attending this camp you can expect to continue doing so for all eternity.  There are two ladies who have got to be in their 80’s who still come every year.

Now, “church camp” stirs up all kinds of impressions which I would like to hastily dispel.  We do not have lengthy camp meetings with laying on of hands or speaking in tongues.   Nobody thumps a Bible at anybody else.  It’s not brainwashing.

What we DO is we meet in the morning to talk about a certain amount of church related things (Jesusy stuff, you wouldn’t be interested) in the laid-back groovy UCC way that we have of doing things, and we eat lunch and go swimming down at the swimmin’ hole, and we have dinner and vespers which is a totally awesome way of saying we get together and talk about church related things again for a short time, and then we have campfire.  Also in there between swimming and dinner we do some crafts if we are so inclined, and some people also manage to get in a certain amount of napping, no names mentioned *COUGH COUGH RHONDA FOR FOUR SOLID HOURS ONCE COUGH COUGH*

Oh, and there’s also field games and hiking and all kinds of stuff.  This camp is on a couple hundred wooded acres with creeks and cabins and trees and dirt and bugs and stuff like that.  There is lots of The Nature to wander around in, if one is so disposed.

This was our first time going for the whole week, and we stayed in a rustic (translation: electrical problems meant that the stove hood light worked at random intervals and one room upstairs had no power at all for reasons that were unclear) cabin with our BFF Kirsten and her three magical offspring, the youngest of whom is only nine months old.  The other two are nearly exactly the same ages as The Lovely Rhonda’s girls.

The cabin is divided into two bunk rooms downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs, with bathrooms adjoining to the bunk rooms as well as one upstairs for the bedrooms.  We put the five girls in one bunk room and Kirsten, the baby, TLR and myself in the other.  Another camper stayed in the upstairs bedroom that did have power.  It was groovy.

Did I mention  how infants like to wake up in the middle of the night or very early in the morning and scream?  They do, in case you were uninformed.  This is useful information for those who might be tempted to travel with infant-having persons of their acquaintance, and so I mention it now in case this might describe either of you, dear reader(s).  I like to be of service to my fellows.

Kirsten was afeared that we would disown her for this but Happy Fun Ball is such a cheerful, adorable baby who smiles ALL THE TIME  that we couldn’t really hold a grudge.  Not much of a grudge.  Not too much of one.  Not much.  Of one.  Of a grudge.  Thing.

What was I saying?  Fatigue has made me a bit punchy.

Anyway, we made sure the cabin was stocked up with snacks and Cokes for late night cribbage and towels for swimming and fans for the incredible sticky wilting summer heat, and we had Family Camp.

On the last night we had a very fun campfire with lots of singing (I have become a Camp Song Dork) and s’mores, and then we coerced the camp counselors to hang out in our cabin while the children slept so that we, the alleged grown-ups, could sit in the lodge and play games.  This was super fun, made even more so by the fact that when we broke out the modest array of snacks that we had remaining, the response was so enthusiastic that we dispatched The Lovely Rhonda back to the cabin for more, and then watched as everything that was offered was devoured nearly instantly.  I think it is safe to say that neither of us expected these people to eat cheese doodles and peanut butter M&M’s, after seeing them eat salad all week, but they did, and with considerable gusto.

Camp is this place with singing and crafts and really, really nice people, and for all that it is an hour from home it’s a magical hour such that when you drive out to town to get something it’s like you’ve re-entered civilization.  We love it.

However, we’re not as wild about the mounds and mounds of funky camp laundry that we have to wash when we get home.

Still worth it though.