Monday, July 30, 2007


I just love it when kids start using their new language skills. Number 4 has been talking up a storm, but so far, it has all been gobbledy-gook. The only thing we could really make out was "dit-n" for "thank you" and "blabble-lah" for "I would like a milk bottle please mother, dear."

Each night, before I tuck him in, he likes to look at this lighted globe. There are little pictures of animals that are found in each country scattered about. For example, Australia has a kangaroo, a wombat, and some other "creachers" that someone who doesn't have her glasses cannot see. Tonight he was so adorable telling each of the animals good night, the cutest of which was "bat-bo" or "hippo". Finally, he told all the animals goodnight at once, which sounded like "bye bye-dee" (goodnight everybody).

Other cute-isms:
cah = car
bee = please
tee = tree
boot-boo = erm... use your imagination (here's a hint, it belongs in the potty)

Then, there are a few that would actually require that I know how to spell in Swahili. Like, the way he says choo-choo. It actually comes from the nasal passage. Sort of like when you stifle a sneeze.
The sad thing is when he starts talking to someone who doesn't know his little language. And he says the same thing over and over, very patiently. It makes you just want to scoop him up in your arms and hold him forever.

I think this age is wonderful. I love to see them little sponges, soaking in all the details. And, trust me, he doesn't miss a trick! There is so much about this age that I forgot since #1,2, and 3 were this little. Like, the good morning smile I get each day, which serves as a reward for getting through the day before. God sure knew what he was doing when he created two-year-olds (well, nearly two anyway!).

Sunday, July 29, 2007

a riddle

Q: What's big, white, and 6 years old?
A: I don't know, but it's in our driveway!
ps- this actually isn't our driveway,
but is the car we now own.
pss-it drives like a luxury car, only higher
up off the road

Thursday, July 26, 2007

no wonder it's called the witching hour

ugh. Not a pretty sight. Last night about 6 pm I'd had my fill of whining, crying, diapers, lost pacifiers, a toddler who wouldn't eat and a baby who couldn't get enough to eat, protecting number 5 from the slings and arrows of number 4. I was trying so hard to be brave and not call King and say "Pleeeeeeze, come home noooooooow!"

But, unlike the "Calgon, take me away!" commercial I wasn't able to stand there right in the middle of chaos and daydream about a bubble bath. Nope. I let out a gutteral yowl like nothing ever heard before. Nothing human even.

Alas, the root of the problem is my frustration in not being able to get out to the gym (why I don't just cancel that stupid membership is beyond me). Before I became pregnant with #5, I would work out several nights a week after hubby came home. A friend and I would go together. Despite the fact that I hadn't lost a single pound in 6 months, I was feeling great and I could do 30 min on the elliptical and walk a mile on the treadmill. I would do the weight machines for my arms and the big yoga ball thing for my stomach muscles (what's left of them after all these pregnancies/c-sections). I enjoyed the time that I worked out not only because I was getting healthy, but because I was spending time with a friend.

I see the weight I need to lose as a huge mountain. I have climbed the mountain before (just before I became pregnant with number 4) and lost 80 lbs. It is a little disheartening knowing I have to go through it again. I have noticed, also, that it is quite a bit harder now that I am 2 months shy of turning 40. I need my gym buddy to call me and say, "Ok woman, let's get off our duffs and get this thing done!" Maybe she heard my groan the other night. She might not have known what it was. (After all, she does live a couple of miles away.) I need to call her and say, "That sound you heard the other night during the witching hour, it was me. I miss ya, girl! Now, get your hikin' boots on and let's rock and roll!"

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

guess what the cat does when the mice are away?

Numbers 1, 2, and 3 are visiting their cousins this week. I'm sure the feeling of "wow, this is a nice break" goes both ways.

While they are having a blast at my sister-and brother-in-law's, I am blasting each of their rooms. King and I worked on #2/#4's room last night. We started with each of their dressers. We eagerly tossed clothes into the donate pile that no longer fit. Next, I made my way to the toybox. With much internal myrth and merriment I sorted through the "giblets" that for a year have been tossed in there. (This is comprised of stuff like the high bounce balls or plastic toy cars we always seem to attract any time we either go to the dentist or a birthday party.) Finally, as #4 was starting to hit the whiney "dear Lord woman, would you please let me go to bed" phase, I started attacking the closet. When I opened the door, stuff was piled (no joke) waist high. I grabbed another couple of white trash bags and started tossing. "Trash. Donate. Trash. Trash. Trash. Donate." You get the picture.

"Hrm... black dress pants," I said as I could almost see the floor. I think for 4 months now, I have consistently walked into this same bedroom and found them lurking under the dresser, under the bed, behind the toybox... each time I say pleasantly (but with ever-growing firmness in my voice) "Please hang these up in your closet!" I guess I have to give him half-credit (like on an English quiz when you get the answer half right). He, at least, made it to the closet this time. All-in-all, I spent as much time with the closet clutter as I did with the other two locations. The last thing I did before hubby ran me out of there so that #4 could finally get some much needed shut-eye was to strip the bed. When I walked out of the room and looked back to see the progress we made I just smiled.

On so many different levels (purr) this was better than therapy. 1) I got to spend time with my husband doing something productive, together. 2) This room is not only clean, but there are fewer things to be taken out and left lying around. 3) Being the dustiest room in our house, there are fewer dust bunnies to blow out into the hall. Ah, the joys of hardwood floors. 4) Most importantly, it gives me huge pleasure to surprise someone with something wonderful, like, say,... cleanliness. Doing something for someone else is one of those luxuries that I relish. I just can't wait to see the look on each of the kids' faces when they come home this weekend. I know for a fact that no one will remember a bouncy ball with a toy fish inside that was never played with other than right after the dental appointment.

So, THAT is the answer to the question above. Me-ow!

Friday, July 20, 2007

what a bird brain

Today is #1's last day of art class. (sideline: She has really enjoyed this teacher. The first day she came home she said, "He is such a good artist and he is hilarious!" ) On the way to the studio there was a bird's nest in the middle of my lane of traffic. I straddled it at first because I had no idea what that blob was. Once I figured it out I told #1, "Boy, if I am lucky, no one will run over that thing and I will go back and get it." After dropping her off, I doubled back and sure enough, not only was it still there, but everyone seemed to be straddling it as well. I pulled into the nearest driveway, jumped out of the car with a plastic bag and as soon as the coast was clear, I stepped into the road and picked the nest up very gently with the plastic bag and wrapped it carefully. Then I laid it in the front passenger seat.
When I got home, I carefully took it out and inspected it. This bird used mud, pinestraw, strands of wire as well as wire mesh to make this thing. The outer core seems to be made with a mishmash of loosely woven stuff that is a bit dark and dirty, but the inner core is not only tightly woven with some lighter colored strands of some sort but it is also as clean as a whistle.

As a wife and mother I try to pull off the same stunt as this craftful bird. Despite the grunge from the world outside of our nest, I try to have an inner sanctum that is clean, bright, and secure. Yes it is a difficult task. But I happily do it for my little brood. Besides, my little fledglings will be flying on their own soon enough.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Well, of course we had to rush right out and get a frame for our newest art acquisition. Turns out, I was able to steal a couple of hours - just number 1 and me.

After we got the frame, we went to Applebee's and grabbed a couple of salads. I didn't want us to just sit there staring at each other, so I took this opportunity to pick her brain a bit.

Me: So, have you thought anymore about what you want to be when you grow up?
#1: I'm really thinking I would like to be a Chemical Engineer.
Me: (shocked, but trying to act cool) Oh, yeah, you'd be good at that and I'm sure you'd probably make a decent salary. I wonder, what does a Chemical Engineer do?
#1: I don't know what all they do, but I am pretty sure it has to do with the periodic table. (Pause) Yeah, I think they mostly just memorize the periodic table.
Me: hmm... maybe
#1: There is something else I had wanted to be, but I forgot what it was.
Me: (thinking to myself - "oh, right a stay-at-home mom with no touching brain cells left.... welcome to my world") Hmm, wonder what it was?
#1: I don't remember. (And then making a reference to something she said when she was 3 years old and grinning as if to say "you thought I didn't remember this") Yeah, either that or a pink flamingo.

Reminds me of one of those Visa ads:
Dinner with oldest daughter: $25.00
Possible salary as a Chemical Engineer $50,000
Spending time with this beautiful creature in front of me who is both artsy and smartsy and at the age of three said she wanted to be a pink flamingo when she grew up: priceless

makes a mother proud

Lookie h'yuh what number one just brought home. This is a cathedral in France and only her 3rd day of watercolor lessons. I'll have to find out which one, because every piece of artwork needs a name.... especially when a proud mother wants to frame this kind of thing.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

dream cars

In the car on the way to art lessons for #1, the kids were asking if a minivan is called a minivan, what is a real van. They learned what SUV means as well as the difference between sedan and coupe. (Really, their father needed to be in the car making sure I was teaching them correctly.)

Then the conversation drifted into what cars we each liked. Number two says, "I'm either going to drive a motorcycle or a Mustang." Number 3 blurts out, "I want a brand new, light blue, convertible punchbuggy.... or a jeep." My oldest says she wants a punchbuggy too, but she wants it to be pink and does NOT want it to be a convertible. (People fall into one of two categories, I've decided. You are either a "hair blowing in the breeze kind of person, or not..... she falls in the latter category.)

I told them I could relate to wanting a VW. But my "dream car" is an older Beetle. White on white convertible. I explained to them that there is a certain wonderful smell that a VW has. I can't imagine that the newer ones have that smell. Another good thing about a car that small - there is really not a lot of room for passengers. In fact, I think if I ever get my dream car, I need to start carrying a really big purse so that it takes up the passenger side seat.

rebel without a cause

Me 10 years ago: "I will NEVER be a minivan mom. Everyone has them and I don't want to be just like everyone else. Nope, you will never see me driving a minivan. Ew."

Me 3 years ago: "I don't ever want to get rid of my minivan. I love this thing. It's like a best friend."

Me a year ago: "I will NEVER buy a Suburban. Not that I think SUVs are ruining the environment, but, come on, everybody has one. I don't want to be like everyone else. They must be hard to drive. Besides, someone might think I'm a "soccer mom".

Me, now: "Y'know, honey, we were really cramped in the minivan on the way to NC. I can't imagine how much LESS room we will have once the kids get a little older and have bigger clothes. We really need a bigger vehicle. Which do you think is bigger, a Suburban or a Yukon XL? I'll bet we can find a really good deal on one right now."

Monday, July 16, 2007

good times, good times

Well, we are finally home. Safe and sound. What a wonderful trip we had. Long, but very good.

I don't think I have ever been around my Mom for that long without having at least one argument. Before now. We just had a blast. Laughed, my Lord, we laughed a lot. We hit a couple of thrift stores. We had a ton of yummy salads. We watched the kids play and we got hooked on one of the only bits of tv I let them watch - a show called "How Clean is Your House?" on BBCA (had to change the channels when the commercials came on though - eek!) I think they gained a new respect for the importance of keeping a home clean. (Hey, cool!)
My favorite day, though, was the 11th.
On Wednesday, we met up with my sister and we all went over to visit my brother. (As a sideline, he was born with severe mental retardation, is non-verbal and wheelchair-bound. I am fairly sure he recognizes us, but isn't always glad to see us.... like, when we come during naptime. His favorite activity has always been slamming doors. The louder a door slams, the more he laughs. Go figure.) He rolled his eyes at me when I showed him #5. Just last year I introduced him to #4 who was then not even a year old. Now another. Not knowing how much he comprehends, but giving him full benefit of the doubt, I am sure he is thinking "Dear God, woman! Do you live right beside a baby factory or something?!" He wouldn't look at me the rest of the visit and was trying to wheel himself away. He did laugh a couple of times when one of the kids would scream (remember, he loves loud, chaotic noises - seems to charge his batteries - I am thinking it is the testosterone).
Ennyhoo, after we tortured my brother with all his nieces and nephews, we went to lunch at Bob Evans. Good heavens, they make a fantastic Cobb Salad. However, even the yummy, treasure-filled, crispy, green goodness of a salad could not trump the activity that all those kids were creating. Ever tried to get a huge litter of kittens to stay in a basket? Or, perhaps, nailing jello to a tree?

On to our next activity: visiting our old hometown. Siler City, NC a place where (if you ever watched the show) Andy Griffith would occasionally go eat dinner.

Because we were on a limited time leash, we weren't able to call any of our friends and say, "Hey, let's get together". Rather, this was a day for the three of us. Remembering. Good memories. Nostalgia. The first thing we did (after riding past the newly built Catholic Church) was to visit my Dad's gravesite. This was not to be a sad occasion. That "saddest day" was nearly 20 years ago. No, we were not there to be sad. Too much happiness has happened as a result of his being alive (my sister inherited his evil wit, my oldest son got the stinky feet gene, etc). We were all having a blast being together - My Mom and her two girls and her 8 grandkids - and we wanted to incorporate my Dad in the day as much as he was able to participate. All the kids sat down around Dad's grave marker (me: "ok kids, come sit on Grampa Bud's lap) and we took their picture.
Next, we went to the first house I remember living in. It is, surprisingly, a very small neighborhood on a cul-de-sac. It seemed so big back then. The house still has the pool that my parents built. I remember riding my bike all around that street. In and out of the neighbors' driveways and carports. No one cared about property boundaries. No one worried about staying out all day and playing until dusk. At the end of the street, there used to be a community garden. You would never know it now. It is dense woodland now. I remember seeing the tall corn growing. Harvesting it in the full summer sun. Also, potatoes, beans, and tomatoes. Summertime flavors.
Next we rode by the two rental houses (the first of which is the house pictured in the Siler City link) we lived in for 18 months or so while the house that my parents built was being completed. The white victorian was so cool. I could walk to and from my middle school. One of my classmates introduced me to the world of General Hospital (egads!). We only lived in the downstairs of that house. There were boxes of our stuff in the upstairs. My Dad liked using the upstairs bathroom each morning. He kept locking the door to the widow's walk every day. Mom swears she didn't unlock it after he went to work. My sister remembers a "presence". I was oblivious. I remembered the way the paper tops covered the milk bottles that the milk man delivered each week. The clink of the bottles in the aluminum holder. The way the sun shone brightly into the breakfast room. The enormous banister of the stairs. The faint smell of cat urine that the previous owner's pet left behind.
The next rental house...away from town. Our first exposure to the term "rural". It looks nothing like it did back then. I remember the maple kitchen cabinets and the huge screened in garage. The apple trees. We got a horse that year. I tried and tried and tried to learn how to do a cartwheel in that backyard. Near the persimmon tree. Mmmm... another food memory: my Mom's persimmon pudding.
We ventured even further past cowpastures and chicken farms and down the long, gravel driveway to the house that they built. A little scary, going down someone's private drive. There it was. Looking better than ever. The homeowners met us at the driveway. I got out to let them know we were merely on a nostalgic trip. They were the new owners. They had just taken a break from bringing the place back to life. The previous (second) owners had let the place fall in disrepair. Ivy coverd the entire porch and was coming into the front doors and windows. (I remembered a dream I had recently where I was back in that house and someone was trying to break into the front. I couldn't shut the front door or either of the front windows. Odd.) They were so excited to meet us. They remarked how well built the house was. "It had to have been sturdy to withstand all the neglect from those folks." he said. She said, "We're getting married in the grove of trees in the front of the property (which was a horse pasture lo those many years ago) on Saturday! We're racing around like mad to get the place ready for our happy day." Sweat equity. What joy!
Before we left to go back to Mom's current house - 2 hours away - I rode past all the schools I went to. The beautiful old Paul Braxton with its long halls grounded by shiny wood floors, a forgettable middle school and then my high school. Seems like three lifetimes ago. A whole 'nuther set of memories.
What a feeling of being right with the world that day was. A feeling of being complete. The day sorta gave me a "do de do dee" moment. Wednesday was the kind of day that you would want to have before you died. Y'know how they say a person's life flashes before their eyes before they die. It was that. Only better.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

one week down, one to go

The Ashe County Cheese field trip was the coolest thing ever. I even got the t-shirt! Let me also add that their cheese is divine.

King leaves tomorrow to head home and the kids and I will stay another week here. Gonna go see my "bruddah" and "sistah" on Wednesday.

I am praying that the Lord will protect hubby while he travels and be my source of strength this upcoming week in dealing with the kiddos.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

check this out

King, my mom, and I have been sharing a bottle of wine on the deck each night. This is some that my aunt gave to Mom as a gift. Check out the name of this particular brand. How cool is that?!?! I think it needs to be the official beverage of my blog. It also reminded me to tell Mom that I had a blogspot. I don't think she knows what that is.

no colonial kid was ever cuter than this

expect the unexpected

We are in NC visting my Mom. We really want to give the kids a lot of out of the ordinary experiences while we are here. Today we went to Old Salem and though we weren't able to do the full tour, we were able to do the Toy Museum and Children's Museum. The kids had a blast and #4 and #5 were real troopers. The Children's Museum had authentic colonial dress ups and lots of other fun stuff. We waved our little hand-held sized American flags and bought little Moravian star Christmas tree ornaments.
We are going to take a picnic on the Blue Ridge Parkway tomorrow. Probably fried chicken and fresh fruit salad. One of the days during our two weeks here, we want to go to a local cheese maker. I know that is odd - going to see cheese being made - but I am all about doing something totally unexpected.