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September 2007
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November 2007

GROUCHY Mom!

    I have determined that this week will usher in a period of grouchy-momness hitherto unequaled.  Mom will be grouchy, grumpy, irritable, peevish, and downright unpleasant from time to time.  The reason for this excessive grouchiness?  Homeschooling.
    See, here's the thing: I am an idiot.  Every year I give the kids this long-winded pep talk about how their education is SO important, and they have to learn to work for what they want, nobody is giving them anything, blah blah blah.  And every year they gaze vacantly in my general direction until I stop talking, then walk away....while I sit and catch my breath and delude myself into thinking that they might have actually listened this time. After seven god-forsaken years quite a few years of homeschooling, I should no longer be surprised to discover that they have not listened, but have in fact spent the duration of my inspiring speech mentally cataloging their Pokemon cards.  Oh, they give a pretty good imitation of initiative and industry for the first few weeks, but then normalcy returns and it's back to the daily battle to cram something into their Mom-as-teacher-resistant heads.
    Well, this year, the stakes are a little higher.  Last year was basically lost time as far as academics are concerned.  They learned a lot of German, but let's not talk about long division or sentence diagramming, okay?  It won't be pretty.  So we have a lot of ground to make up, which is complicated by the boys' dyslexia and Seth's resistance to anything that will require him to think for more than two seconds.  I would really love to get them into a small private school next year, because I think a little more "real-world" experience will be helpful for them as the college years approach.  (EEEEEK!  Just a sec....must...breathe.....)  And I think the older two might - MIGHT - be ready by next fall.  It's going to be a rough year, but they seem to be taking school much more seriously than in the past, and I've seen a lot of progress already in their math and writing skills in particular.  But the youngest one - oof.  I don't know.  The intelligence is definitely there - the child is smart - but between the learning difference (which is profound) and his constitutional aversion to work, it is a mighty steep uphill road we're travelling.
    Hence the grouchiness.  In the interests of making as much progress as possible in the essentials, and incidentally pushing youngest child to actually DO what he's capable of, I have declared this week "math and writing ONLY" week.  There is much writing and re-writing and erasing of incorrect answers going on this week, and my darling baby boy is not happy.  Well, guess what?  Neither am I!  But I am going to find some way to light a fire under his little tail (figuratively speaking)  or die trying.  I know his potential, and I'll be darned if I'm going to let him waste it.  So - grouchy mom on the prowl! 

(But if we win the lottery I am SO hiring a private tutor...!!!)


Fall fun - finally!

    After a nice interlude of summer-like weather, it's finally decided to really be FALL.  The weather is colder, with frequent rain and wind, and the trees are losing more leaves every day.  Of course, the kids are tickled to death to have leaves to rake and then jump in, and I'm tickled to death to have them raking leaves and jumping.  That way they aren't fussing at each other and forcing me to play referee! 
    We've had fun company this month too.  My best friend, Shelley, and her hubby and youngest son came up for a weekend, and we had a great time just lounging around chatting and catching up with each other.  Shelley is my sister by choice, and it was so nice to just be together again.  I'm trying to convince her to move north, but so far she's a little resistant...she seems to think that we need to go back to Indiana instead! 
    This week we've had my mother- and father-in-law visiting with us.  They flew up from Florida to our rainy Michigan fall and so far haven't seemed too upset with the weather.  Of course, we've been keeping them pretty busy!  I am really blessed to have a mother-in-law who is more fun than a barrel of monkeys, never complains about my housekeeping, and thinks anything I do that's artistic/creative is wonderful.  Needless to say I don't mind having the in-laws around at all!  We've been having a good time - part of it spent cruising the area, part of it spent playing games and laughing like lunatics right here at home.  Jon was able to take a couple days off work, as well, which makes it extra nice. 
    So that's our fall fun!  And just to add to the fun, the trees are beautiful colors now.  Here's a quick peek at my back yard.  Happy autumn!
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I guess I'll keep them

    I don't know how they do it, but I swear kids have some sort of innate self-preservation mechanism that causes them to do something really cute/sweet/generous at the precise moment that you were ready to trade them in for new models.  If it only happened once or twice I could blow it off as a fluke, but I've seen the pattern over fifteen years, and there is definitely something to it.  They know when you're about to number their days (minutes?) and immediately take action. 
    Take today, for instance.  (Please, take it!)  Youngest son is cute and cuddly and extremely smart.  He is also deeply opposed to doing anything that isn't "fun", the definition of which changes depending on what you want him to do.  Today "fun" did NOT include anything even remotely related to schoolwork.  Trying to keep his attention on fractions and essay-writing skills was about as much fun as using duct tape to wax your legs.  And yet, when we got home from tutoring, he begged me to be allowed to go to our neighbors' house and offer to take their trash out to the road for them.  He knows that they're older and have some health problems, and he was really worried that hauling a big trash bin down their long driveway was going to be too much for them.  How can you say no to something like that? 
    So as aggravating as my children sometimes are, I think I'll keep them,  because God keeps giving me these little glimpses of the people they're going to be some day....and they're going to be good people, I think.  Who knows?  Maybe husband and I are doing something right after all. 


Less of me

    One thing that I had managed to happily avoid while we were waiting for our stuff from Germany was a scale.  I knew there was one coming, and I just didn't feel a need to go buy another one.  Besides, I could still zip my pants and (sort of) bend over without passing out, so I told myself I was fine.  Yep, just fine.  But then the container arrived, and the scale was in one of the first boxes I opened, so I trotted off to the bathroom to weigh myself.  Just wondering, you know?  Yeah.  Let's not do THAT again!
    Once my head stopped spinning and I could see without the little sparkles around the edges of my vision, I staggered out of the bathroom and sat down to assess the impact of what I'd just seen.  To the best of my recollection, the last time I saw those numbers on a scale, I was four centimeters dilated and going into labor with a full-term baby.  Given the fact that my youngest child is now 11.5 years old, realizing that I was carrying the same amount of poundage that I did just before the arrival of my largest baby brought me no joy whatsoever.  It's not baby weight any more, folks...it's just plain fat.  And it's not a good thing.
    Now, let me say right up front that I do NOT believe that we all need to be little twig-women to be beautiful.  In fact, that is usually not even healthy, let alone attractive. (My husband's take on that? "No man really wants to sleep with a rack of bones.")  But I do know that being seriously overweight can create a plethora of health problems, ranging from high blood pressure to increased risk of diabetes.  And that's not even going into the emotional trauma that is imposed (both by ourselves and society) on those who aren't a size 6.  Clearly I needed to do something.
    After some thought, and discussion with husband and sister, I mapped out a plan of attack.  I've cut out junk food and rarely touch pop any more.  I'm eating more fruit and veggies.  I'm trying to be more active.  And  you know what?  I've lost 8 pounds in four weeks!!  Not a huge loss, but reasonable, and I can tell a difference in how my jeans fit.  And best of all, I'm starting to feel better.  I want to be around for my kids and grandkids, and my husband and I have big plans for being the rowdiest old farts in the nursing home some day.  So I'm sticking to this, because I have a lot of living to do yet!   What can you do to be a little healthier today?


She'll be comin' round the - laundry pile?

    Yeee-haw!  I've got company coming!  And - OH NO!!  I've got company coming!   I am beyond excited to have people come and visit, especially since I don't really know many people here yet and it gets a little lonely at times (she whimpers pathetically).  But my very exciting company deserves a very clean house, and right now, I ain't there! 
    Fortunately for me, none of my visitors are the type who are going to inspect the top of the refrigerator or peer critically under the couch for dust bunnies.  (Really, I just couldn't be friends with people like that!)  I would like for them to be able to come in the house without hurdling a pile of laundry, though.  And since tomorrow's visitors include small children, I definitely need to sweep, or one of the twins may go home with a hairball.  Not a nice souvenir. 
    One of the things that I love most about this house is its size, which includes a vast array of closets.  There really is a place for everything here, and it makes cleaning soooooooo much easier when things really have a home.  Our house in Indiana was pretty small and it got frustrating at times, trying to find places to store stuff.   Not that we have a lot of stuff.  Nope, not us.  Minimalist, that's our approach to life.  (Have I mentioned that there are currently five - FIVE - couches in this house?  Minimalist my arse.)  Really, we do have less stuff than we did....or at least, less useless stuff.  I think.  The couches are making me wonder, though. 
    At any rate, I'm vibrating between anticipation and freaked-out-ness over the whole situation, which leads me to believe that I'd better get my rear in gear or the freaked-out part will take over.   So I'm going to go spend some quality time with my Eureka and Swiffer.   Watch me shine!


Huh?

    Do you ever get the feeling that the world is moving just a little too fast for you to keep up?  Or have that nagging sensation that you've forgotten something important, and it's going to mean big trouble if you don't remember soon?  Or even just wake up in the morning, look at your life and think "How did I get here again?"  Yeah, me too.  And I don't like it. 
    These past couple weeks have been mildly frustrating - just a string of little things going awry.  Nothing major, but things that seemed to take more than their fair share of time and energy to fix (or have fixed).  A cracked windshield in the van, a fridge on the fritz, electrical misfirings in the van, an empty propane tank...Nothing very earth-shattering, but all annoying and at least somewhat costly. 
    Today I've been fighting the almost  panicked feeling that I've forgotten something important - really important - that I am supposed to do, and I can't for the life of me figure out what it is.  I've made phone calls and paid bills (ugh) and checked account balances (double ugh) and I still feel impending doom leering over my shoulder.   It's driving me crazy.  Maybe it's just because Sweet Husband is in Mexico all week for work, I don't know.  But whatever is behind this, I want it to Go. Away. NOW. 
    To add a little more woe to the woe-is-me mood I'm in, my friend in Germany sent us some  money via PayPal for some things she sold on our behalf - and PayPal won't let us have it.  It's "suspicious activity".  They need "further information".  We sold some cheap furniture and a bunch of household electronics that won't work on American current - who knew that would cause such grief?  We've already given them all sorts of information, so today I sent a very stern email telling them that I want my money, doggone it!  Of course I don't know if my "mean mommy" routine will work via internet, but I had to try. 
    I'm going to go grocery shopping now and pray that nothing else breaks/quits working/beeps when it should squeal/etc.  And in spite of the fact that I'm trying desperately to lose weight, I may have to buy chocolate. Purely for medicinal purposes.  Yeah, that's it.


p.s. I'm telling you, something is going on here....I drove all the way to the grocery store (20 minutes away) only to realize in the parking lot that I had no method of payment with me.  I suppose I should be happy that I realized this before I arrived in the checkout lane with a cart full of groceries, eh?  Grumble grumble snarf....and no chocolate, either!


By George, I think she's got it!

    After much fussing and fuming and muttering of dire imprecations under my breath, I finally gave up on downloading pictures from my new camera and begged Sweet Husband to do it for me.  (Took him about 2 minutes.  Life is SO unfair.)  Anyway, I can finally show you all what my special something is!!  Are you ready? 
S6300122 A 1920's baby grand piano!!  WOOOO-HOOOOO!!!  I am so excited!  I had to sell my piano when we left for Germany last year, and I have missed playing sooo much.  So hubby started looking for a used piano for me (who can afford a new one these days?  Outrageous!) and found this little gem.   It needs a little TLC, and a good tuning, but the sound is wonderful and it's in great shape structurally.  I am beyond thrilled.  Playing the piano has always been very special for me, beyond just the enjoyment of the music.  It's really almost therapeutic, and I missed it more than I'd realized until I got my hands on this baby.  Not to mention that having space for a baby grand is a wonderful thing! 
    Now I'm off to go tickle the ivories a bit before I start laundry.  Music makes everything sweeter!