Wednesday, August 31, 2011

War Monger and True Talent

Are you ready for the next installment of "Super Creative, but Slightly Twisted Kids"?  Perhaps yesterday's head on the platter wasn't enough.

Here goes.

Do you know what a Zhu-Zhu Pet is?  It is a small battery powered furry hamster.  They were all the rage for Christmas a couple of years back. 
This is the dead carcass of an innocent zhu-zhu pet.
Or... is it perhaps merely the outward shell.  A cute furry disguise, concealing the true identity of the monster that lies within.
I present you with... WAR MONGER!!!

I don't know what to say.  Where do they come up with this stuff?  I think they used paint, hot glue and plastic knives and fork points for the blades and spikes.

I've thought of signing the kids up for art lessons, but really... it doesn't seem to me that anyone in this house is lacking creativity or the ability to express themselves.  At times I've felt that I haven't supplied them with the best, highest quality art supplies and that perhaps has somehow hampered them.
I believe I can set my mind at ease on that point.
They are scavengers.  They will use anything they can find and use it in ways I couldn't have imagined.
In ways that probably shouldn't be imagined.

Now for another, more disciplined form of art.
Bethany had a violin recital last night.  Oh, the shame of showing up in the same dress as another performer!!
At least it was a cute dress and they didn't perform back to back.  And we don't really care about that kind of thing anyway, so no big deal.  Would you believe that these two are the same age?

I accompanied Bethany as she played Viva La Vida.  The video isn't the best (sorry) and we didn't catch the very beginning, but it's a fun song and we played quite well, if I do say so myself.  The video will rotate the right way part way through--don't get motion sick.

We worked really hard on this song together for several months and it was so rewarding to be able to perform it as well as we have practiced.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Out of Season

I want his head on a platter.

Football shoulder pads can be used for so many things.

Dude, you're sick.

Extremely clever, but sick.
 O, Christmas Tree! O, Christmas Tree!

Elinor and Faith are excited for Christmas.  I especially like the purple tree skirt and the pre-owned, wrapped present for George under the tree.  The trunk of the tree is a Little Tykes T-ball stand.   How resourceful of them! 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Geeks and Jocks

She is ten.  She loves to bake.  She is a very responsible babysitter.  She's got a great ear for music.
She is eight,  She has a long list of dreams she hopes to fulfill in her life time.  She's great with technology.  She says she'll live next door to me when she grows up.
Together, they are a dynamic duo of security officers aboard a spaceship simulator at space camp.
They were up early this morning getting their uniforms ready.  Having now done a space mission myself, I could appreciate the fun they were about to have.  Now I'd really like our whole family to go do a mission together.  It's just so fun!  Intense, a little bit scary, but fun.
 Clark didn't get to go to space camp today because he had his first football game.  It was such a treat for me to get to go by myself and just watch the whole game.  Clark is right in the middle of this picture (#77).  This was as the team was gathering before warming up.  I've never seen a group of 12 year old boys sit so still and so quiet for so long.  I think they were all really nervous.
But they didn't need to be.  They mopped the floor with the the other team.  34-0.  Not a bad way to start the season.  Now the pressure is off.  I figure if they don't win any other games this season, at least they will have won once.  They have felt the thrill of victory, they will be able to handle the sting of defeat.  It's all bonus from here.
I don't actually care much about the winning or losing business.  Here's what I care about.  Do you see #77?  Can you see that he is hustling off the field?  I care that Clark is giving it 100%.  I know he's not the fastest kid out there and I couldn't care less.  I am so glad he is giving it his all and that he's not afraid of hard work.
And he's got the bruises to prove it.  Oh, poor man-child. 
 I recently voiced concern that I needed to get out more... that Abe was getting to go do all the fun stuff and I was home with the little ones all the time.  
After being gone last night to a movie with Clark, almost all day today to the football game and then a fancy date with Abe, I am really missing my little ones.  Faith and Cannon and George.  They are going to get some serious snuggling and story reading tomorrow.  
That is enough fun and being out and about for me.  I'm ready to be home with the little ones again.  
That was easy enough.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I Am No Fun

I was recently accused of being 'no fun'.  My absence from home was celebrated as a time to have fun with Abe. 
The accusation was quite hurtful as it came from one of my children, who shall remain nameless, but whose name rhymes with shark.  But no, I will not tell you which child it was.  Privacy must be respected, you know.

I beg to differ.  I am fun.  Surely I'm not such a stick in the mud?
See, look!  The girls are getting pedicures while they do their school work.  That's fun!--
But it is true that I had nothing to do with it.  Naomi is quite clearly way funner than me.
Look!  Faith is cutting snowflakes and sewing.  That is fun-- but once again, it was with Naomi-- not me.  See the painting hanging over the railing?  I let them get out the paint.  That was fun of me.
Clark is practicing the piano-- that's... fun...right?
Never mind.
Oh-- now he is fun!  But Barbara gave us the four-wheeler so I can't take any credit there either.

Perhaps Shark Boy is right. 

Shark boy, please forgive me for not being more fun.  It's just that I've been so busy making sure you have food to eat and have clean clothes to wear, and getting you to football practice on time, and helping you develop your talents, and nurturing your mind and spirit.  I'll try to stop doing so much on those fronts and just watch Star Trek and eat ice cream with you.

Love you.
My children are really going to suffer when Naomi leaves to go back to London.

The Peach Pit

We have a peach tree in our backyard.  If you look closely at this picture you may be able to tell that our peach tree is not a very healthy tree.  It is completely lopsided and there are only branches and leaves on one side of the tree.  I do not know the circumstances surrounding the peach tree's maiming, but I'm fairly certain it involved my children and tree abuse.  

When we moved into this home in the summer of 2007 our peach tree produced a lovely crop of fruit.  And then it went barren for the next four years.  I assumed the lack of fruit stemmed from the unfortunate tree abuse.
But lo and behold!  It is Summer 2011 and the tree has produced again!  Or at least the south side of the tree has produced again.
Beautiful baskets full of fuzzy sweet peaches.

I should get right to work bottling peaches.
Except that I don't know how to bottle peaches. 
And I don't even like eating peaches, anyway.
I'm not going to bottle these peaches.

But I do have a lot of peaches sitting in my kiddie pool, so if any friends or neighbors want them, they are yours.

If no one wants my peaches, rest assured that my children will find another use for them.  They already had a grand idea this afternoon-- putting a bunch of the not so pretty peaches on the trampoline and go nuts jumping around and letting the peaches fly all over.  Dangerous, but exciting.  Kind of like a giant ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese.

Such clever little darlings.
What will they think to do with the apples?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Help--I Need to Get Out More!

Have you seen or read The Help?  I have done both and I thoroughly enjoyed myself at my neighborhood book club this evening.  Our hostess made us these yummy chocolate pies-- Minnie's special recipe!!  Mmmm... so good.

This neighborhood book club has been going on for about a year and a half and it has been great fun.  I find myself anxiously awaiting book club night.  I was especially excited this evening because Abe has been out and about a lot lately with various children and I've been home taking care of the others.  I was in need of an evening out chatting with other women.
I am very glad that Abe has been getting to spend such quality time with the kids.  Abe took Cannon to the Fathers and Sons camp-out.  I would like it stated for the record that although Cannon had great fun, he did miss me and in the evening he asked if he could come home before bed.  Abe is way fun, but I'm glad Cannon loves him mommy.
Fun with cousin Simon.
Is there any sight more lovely, calm, and peaceful than a sleeping child?
No, I don't think so.
Abe took Clark and Elinor down to their favorite reptile hunting grounds.  No souvenirs were brought home (yipee)
Not that we haven't had our own fun at home.  Faith hurt her fingers at gymnastics so Bethany set up a convalescence bed for her.  
Clark has had a fun time introducing Georgie to the frog and the lizard and the snake.  
You can understand why I am happy they didn't bring back any souvenirs from the reptile hunt.
At least I can rest more peacefully in my home.  We're not getting as many interruptions throughout the day since Clark posted this friendly 'no soliciting' sign on our front window.  He has been suggesting to me that I should get a no soliciting sign after a rash of rather aggressive solicitors.  I guess I didn't move fast enough on it, so he took matters into his own hands.  
I am quite grateful.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Blame It On The Genes

We celebrated my Uncle Lane Clark's 60th birthday last night at my cousin Christy's house.  My mom had 3 older brothers and Uncle Lane is the only surviving sibling.  

Not such good genes-- It's the Clark-bum-heart genes.  So to celebrate his 60th birthday is like the equivalent of a 90th birthday party for someone else.  It's a big deal and a cause for celebration!

And this is my 20-year old cousin who just recently got married....

Or wait... is this actually my Aunt Carolyn who just became a grandmother!!!!  How is it possible that she can be a grandma???  Where can I git me some of those genes?
This is Abe just as he arrived home from the 50 miler and was shocked to see what I had done to our closet.  Namely that I had de-junked, cleaned out, purged, and organized the closet.  It was such a revelation to discover our closet was meant to be a "walk-in closet" versus a "climb over the piles closet".  
I am currently in the middle of a massive garage clean-out as well.  

May I suggest that the tendency to be a hoarder is also in the genes.  Those would be Abe's genes--not so much mine.
 What about political views?  Are those inherited as well?
Grandpa Cannon is doing his darndest to teach them while they're young.
Here's an exciting thing-- my dad is one of a handful of candidates in a special election for a seat in the State Legislature in Davis County.  The current House member is stepping down and the Republican Committee something or other (sorry I can't remember the details) will be voting on her replacement later this week.  So good luck to my Pappy this week.  

He's always loved it when I call him Pappy because it is such a respectful nickname.  
No-- that is not true. 
He does not and has never liked me to call him Pappy.  I tell you what, Dad, if you get elected to be a State Legislator, I will once and forever stop calling you Pappy. 
But if you don't...

  This is Elinor's pet fish, Goldie.  She got Goldie for her birthday in February and the fish is still alive. 
And those are some serious hard water stains on the glass container that houses Goldie.   That is nasty.
This is Clark's pet tree frog, Froggert, that he found up in Spokane.  Miraculously, it is still alive as well.  He has good genes. Who's idea was it for the frog to sit on my kitchen counter??  That's really nasty.
This is a stray neighborhood kitty that my children were playing with a couple of weeks ago.  

I'd like to reiterate that THIS IS A STRAY CAT.  THIS IS NOT OUR CAT.  WE WILL NOT GET ANOTHER CAT EVER! I don't care if you did feed him a can of tuna fish and so now he thinks he is our cat.  HE IS NOT OUR CAT!  You can try to climb in through the broken window screen and meow until you're blue in the face--- BUT YOU ARE NOT OUR CAT!!

Now--it is possible that I saw this particular cat, a few days later roaming another part of the neighborhood and some kind soul might have asked me if I knew who this cat belonged to and I might have completely denied any knowledge whatsoever of said cat.  
 And if this incident did occur I would have been completely justified in my denials because THIS IS NOT OUR CAT!  

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Time to Share

It's time for another sharing time of my innermost thoughts and feelings.  I hope you are comfy as you prepare to be lulled to sleep by my endless drivel. 

The Injustice of It All
Abe is gone to the Fathers' and Sons' Camp Out for our ward.  Theoretically, because we have 3 boys and 3 girls, we should have equally divided the child care responsibilities for the evening.  In fact, I really should have come out ahead, because let's face it--  looking after the 3 girls is a seriously cushy walk in the park compared to the 3 boys.  (In all fairness it is just the 2 younger boys-- thankfully Clark is fairly self-sufficient).  However, since George is a baby and Clark stayed home for football obligations, it worked out that I have five kids and he has one.  Now, it could reasonably be argued that the effort of taking care of one  Cannon is worth five of the other kids, but still.  I'm thinking I probably got the raw end of this deal.

Especially since the five that I have here at home are sick.  Clark is missing football practice and they are all sprawled all over the family room floor moaning while I serve them sips of water and get them blankets.  I suppose the up side is that they aren't teasing or fighting or running around or making messes because they don't feel well.  I would never wish sickness on my people and I do feel bad for their discomfort, but I do enjoy the momentary calm and stillness.  We don't get much calm and stillness round these parts.

The Good Doctor
I took Faith and George to the Dr. yesterday.  Now I ask you:  Why do I ever take my children to the doctor?  Why?  There is never a single thing the doctor can do for them.  I don't say this to discredit the good doctor at all.  In fact, I quite like our doctor.  It's just that I have lost any ability to discern when they need to see a doctor and when they just need to drink plenty of liquids and wait it out.

I'm pretty sure I used to be better at this.  The last 10 times I've taken anyone to the doctor for anything I have left feeling like a complete dunce.  Why do I keep going?  Because I don't want one of my people to have some horrible infection that goes to their brain that a simple antibiotic could have taken care of. 
Faith complained of a bad ear ache for two days so I took her in.  NOTHING.  Her ear looked absolutely perfect.   While we were there I mentioned that she hurt her hand at gymnastics.  The doctor looked and suggested x-rays were in order.  NOTHING!

It's not that I want my people to be ill or be unnecessarily drugged.  I'd just like to save myself the money and the trip to the doctor if there is nothing to be done.   And I'm feeling foolish that I can't tell the difference after six kids.

Hot Lips
Little by little my make-up supply has been dwindling.  I'm a busy woman and I kept forgetting to restock.  I ran out of eye liner.  I ran out of lip gloss.  I never did like my eye shadow, but couldn't remember to buy more for six months.  Consequently, my face was looking decidedly natural.  Not really a good look for me.  I like being a painted lady.  Besides the lack of make-up, my hair is quite long and unruly, so I have been sporting a very unfinished look as of late.
Last night I remembered and stopped into Walgreen's to get what I needed.  I got myself some sort of miracle lipstick.  I put it on as soon as I got out to the car.  I decided I did in fact like the color (not always the case) and then ran a couple of errands and headed home.  The lip color stayed on.  I washed my face and got ready for bed.  The color stayed on.  I went to bed and slept all night.  The color stayed on.  I took a shower and rubbed my lips vigorously.  The lip color remained.  What is this stuff made of?  I am excited about the prospect of such durability, but also a little frightened by it.  It didn't advertise it self as 'permanent'...

I Am the Schoolmarm
School started at our house this week.  If you ask the children they will moan and say 'it's so hard' or 'we don't like doing school', but whatever--they love it.  Or at least they love the more structured day.  Every year I get a little more organized and since I'm not pregnant or caring for a newborn I have been able think more clearly about how to set things up this year.

The trick is getting the kids to be as self motivated and independent as possible for their work.  There is quite a bit of reading we do all together, but the math, spelling, grammar, vocabulary, journal, etc. are things they can work on on their own and just come to me with questions and checking.  They have lovely little binders with lovely little boxes to check off when their lovely work is completed.  Those little check marks are a beautiful thing.

Football Is My Life
I studied sociology in college and have always been intrigued with observing the rules and rituals of different groups.   Groups tend to share a lot of similarities-- the food they eat, clothes they wear, manner of speaking, what they spend their money on, and how they spend their free time.

For example--
Most homeschoolers  are very health conscious with their food choices.  You wouldn't really want to bring your cheetos, sugar-laden chocolate chip cookies and Grandma Sycamore's White bread to the park day picnic.  Not that we would ever eat that stuff.

If you go visit your local LDS (Mormon) ward you probably wouldn't feel comfortable in your tube top and mini skirt.  And you'd want to watch your language.  Potty talk isn't really looked upon favorably.

At the softball field in the Spring you should wear your hoodie and baseball cap.  It's a time to be comfy while you eat your hot dog and nachos.

When you go to the dance recital you know all the mommies will be looking their most fashionable with their ironed hair and lots of bling.

Over the past two weeks we are getting an inside look at another social group.  I will call this group 'The Football Fanatics".  WHOA!  This is something new.  Did you know that you are strongly encouraged to pay for sports films of every game your son plays in?--to the tune of $10 a pop.
This is serious business.   The coaches have asked us to not talk to them on game day because they are so focused and they can get pretty intense.  Perhaps they will have been up all night studying the films.  For a month straight they will practice every weeknight for 2 hours.  Then it goes to three nights a week plus games on Saturday.  The moms (more intense than the dads) are at the practices cheering for their sonny boys to be the fastest in the training sprints.

I'm not complaining.  Actually, I'm super happy that Clark wants to play.  It is great exercise and he enjoys being a part of the team.  The coaches are demanding, but inspiring to the boys.  The parents of the other boys are very friendly as well.  I get the feeling that we are just extensions of the team and we will have a grand time cheering at the games.  It's just that this is a new group for me to observe and this one is a doozy.  What an entertaining fall I am going to have.

Well, my friends, thanks for reading as I have droned on this evening.  I think I will strap a couple of kids in to the stroller and take an evening walk.  Doesn't that sound lovely?  Good night.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Give Me a Head With Hair

Hey there.  I'm George.  I'm one year old and I've got great hair.
Life is good.  I've got great parents and brothers and sisters who are at my beck and call 24 hours a day.  I'm a happy guy most of the time.
Sometimes they get busy with their own projects and I need to call their attention back to me.  It's really no problem.  I just give them one of my funny faces and they fall all over me again.
I don't like to do it, but I can take it to the next level if necessary.  Like they can resist this face!
Yeah, they're push overs.  Gets them every time.
I'm George.  I'm one, and I've got great hair.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Life As We Know It

Don't let those exhausted, complaining faces fool you.  These kids were ecstatic to help stain the fence today.  That is, until about 15 minutes had past.  Then it was really hard work.  Boo-hoo.  Cry me a river.  

We've lived here for four years and we've never stained the fence before.  It really needed it.  So I picked up a couple gallons of stain and four cheap, big paint brushes.  I learned that a six foot cedar fence that goes around a very good size back yard will take a lot more than 2 gallons of stain.  
A LOT more.  I thought the stain would be much thinner and spread much more easily than it did.  It was more like paint.  Go figure. 
So it will be more stain, and a lot more time and elbow grease than I anticipated.  

As you can imagine, the kids are thrilled.
I ran over my first bicycle today.  Fortunately there was not a child on it.  I crunched Elinor's bicycle wheel as I was backing out of the garage.  Abe managed to salvage it.  He said he didn't really care so much about the bicycle since it only cost $10 at DI.  But he had tripled the value of the bike by getting the tires fixed so they wouldn't go flat and he didn't want to do that again.  

Abe did something very romantic for me today.  He mowed the front lawn really short.
I suppose I think lawns should be like men's haircuts.  Nice and clean and short.  I know he would rather keep the lawn longer, but he cut it short today because he knows I like it.  If that's not love...

As if that weren't enough, he and I headed out to a movie this evening.  George hasn't been a baby we could take to movies, so we haven't enjoyed a movie together for over a year.  We have seen a couple of shows at the dollar theater, but I can't say we enjoyed them because we didn't get to sit together as we dealt out popcorn to our masses of children and one of us was always standing with George.  
This evening we put George to bed before we left and left the kids with a phone and a request to please leave us in peace unless there was a very good reason to call. 

Fortunately the kids know what that means and they didn't call and we thoroughly enjoyed our movie date tonight.  We saw The Help.  I have read the book and enjoyed it and I thought the movie was fantastic.  But it didn't start until 8:20 and with many previews and being a somewhat lengthy movie, we didn't leave the theater until 11:00.

Moments before the movie ended we get a call from home.  I immediately called them back.  The conversation went like this:

Clark:  Hello?
Mom:  Hi, it's Mom.
Clark:  Are you coming home soon?
Mom:  Yes, the movie just ended and we're leaving the theater.
Clark: Um... it's 11 o'clock... and we haven't heard from you at all. 
Mom:  I'm sorry, we'll be home soon.

I'm pretty sure this exact conversation will be repeated verbatim a few years from now.  Except the roles will be reversed.  I'm not sure I like that.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Our Backyard Paradise

I suppose one could hire a landscaper to design a lovely water feature... but really... could a professional landscaper create anything even close to this beautiful backyard pond?

I think not.
Our turtles have adapted nicely to their home.  I judge this to be the case because they are alive and haven't run away.  (Where would they go anyway?)  We put $1.00 worth of feeder fish in the pond every couple of weeks for the turtles to eat and and they seem to be quite content.  Mind you we can't see the fish at all once we put them in due to the color of the water.  Maybe the turtles aren't actually eating them at all and there is a pile of dead fish at the bottom of the pond, but we don't like to think about that possibility.
Inspired by the jungle- like feel of the pond and the surrounding weeds, the kids got busy this week setting up "Clark's Reptile and Amphibian Jungle Adventure".  Pictured here is the front desk where guests may check in and wait for their tour guide.
Every exhibit needs a few ground rules for its guests to follow to ensure everyone is safe--including the exhibit's animals. 
If you'd like to experience this jungle adventure, please leave your lawn mowers, weed whackers and dogs at home.
Do not mistake this for an entrance.  This is clearly not an entrance.
Stakes are driven into the ground to deter unwelcome traffic.
The tour guide patiently waits in the shade of the shelter he built.
The littlest sister found this newly hatched snake for the exhibit.  It was at first mistaken for a worm.  It was cute, even if you don't really like snakes.
Today it was determined that the shelter of the previous day was insufficient protection from the elements.  It needed up grading.

I am thrilled with the hobo camp springing up in my backyard.
And so spacious!  I suggested a camp-out in the tent might be in order.  Of course he had already thought of that.  

I believe I know what prompted this construction.  A little while back we were having some...shall we say, disagreements, with Clark about how a 12 year old young man ought to treat his family.  Part of the solution was banishment from his own room down stairs for a rather extended period of time.  He had to return to his upstairs bed, cozily located in the bedroom with his two very little brothers.  Not so much fun for a 12 year old, but a healthy reminder of what is acceptable behavior with his family.

But fortunately, Clark is a problem solver.  So, he has built himself a room outside for when he needs a little alone time.  How resourceful of him.  I can respect that.