Friday, August 31, 2007


Elisabeth doesn't like to eat what's put in front of her. She prefers to wait until everyone else is done and then pick from the remains of their plates. It would have served me well to remember that this morning.

Madeleine and Hank's breakfast request was toast with Nutella. Mid-breakfast the doorbell rang while I was in the basement doing some laundry. Madeleine and Hank decided the appearance of their friends meant breakfast was over, even if they hadn't finished, and with a quick yell down the basement stairs to alert me as to their whereabouts, they were outside in a flash.

Elisabeth pounced quickly. Like any good scavenger, she knew time was of the essence. Mommy would be back upstairs quickly. Move, move, move!

Success for her; a chocolaty hazelnut mess for me.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Back to School

Apparently Elisabeth doesn't want to be left out of the back to school mania taking place around here.

Yesterday Superdad, the kids and I headed over to the school to meet Hank's teacher for his upcoming year of Junior Kindergarten. We chatted with friends, shook hands with new faces and felt the excitement of newly sharpened pencils, fresh name tags and nervous soon-to-be students. The morning was, as it should have been, all about Hank. Well, and Madeleine too since she ran into her old teachers, gave and received hugs and played with her friends; but it's a given in our family that even if it's about someone else, it's really about Madeleine also.

After we got home I busied myself in the kitchen writing Hank's name on all his school supplies when suddenly I heard a foreign "whirring" sound. I was puzzled. Madeleine and Hank were outside, absorbed with the little squirts on the block and Elisabeth was quietly playing in... no, wait, she wasn't. There she was, sitting at the kids' art table in the living room, preparing for her future academic career by sharpening all the pencils in the cup on the kids' art table.

What subject should we start the eager student out with this year? Algebra?

Advanced trigonometry perhaps?

And please, ignore the fact that she needs to have her nose wiped. It's hard to be intelligent and beautiful.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cooking, II

To follow up on my cooking post, I just wanted to share that I posted one of my silver bullet, kid-tested recipes over at Wisconsin Cooks. I love it, the kids love it; everyone's a winner!

Movie Review, VIII

Superhero movies is one category of movie that Superdad and I almost always both enjoy. They're, usually, fun and exciting and don't require much emotional or intellectual investment.

The other night we finally got around to watching Batman Begins and we both really enjoyed it. Out of all the Batman movies that have been released over the past ten, fifteen years, this was the best.

Monday, August 27, 2007


I love cooking: the chopping, the dicing, the simmering. It's relaxing and the immediate rewards are obvious. Unless, of course you have kids. Then the rewards become more of a punishment.

"Moooo-OM, I hate chicken chili. Yuck!"

"Moooooo-om, why did you make that?!"

"I want to go to a restaurant; I hate what you made."

If I'm lucky enough to have cooked in relative peace or, as it's known in to me, being interrupted no more than fourteen times to settle disputes, get some toy down or provide a snack that they simply must have this instant because the poor little darling it staaaaarving, then I'm able to handle the complaints with relative cheer. I shrug my shoulders and savor the compilations on my own plate and ignore the theatrics across the table.

But then there's most days. Most days I'm hardly even able to cook with the kids running in and out and needing this and that. Most days my patience supply is dwindling by supper time and the complaints are actually very annoying.

"Moooo-om, this is the worst supper in the entire world."

"Oh really?" I my reply on those nights. "Good. I was trying my best to make something you'd really, really hate. I'm glad I succeeded. Eat it anyway."

This summer I've noticed I've been doing far less cooking than usual. I wonder if this is why.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Happy Birthday, Blog!

My blog is a year old today. Break out the confetti and noisemakers, folks!

Friday, August 24, 2007

School Registration, 2007

I don't know if any of you remember, but last year around this time the entire parental population of our local public school, including me, were wringing our hands about school registration and teacher assignments. I'm ashamed to admit it now, but I think that I even ran over to the school once the class lists were posted to take a picture of Madeleine's class list so that my obsession would be accurately fueled when all the other manic moms called me.

This year I feel like I've discovered the cure for high blood pressure: home schooling. Sure, that brings with it its own stress and obsessions, but they're different and, best yet, fall entirely within my own control.

Yes, I played the school registration game yesterday for Hank but my mindset was entirely different; I was really more of a benched, red-shirted player (he's only going into junior kindergarten for pity's sake). I just didn't care who his teacher was or who was in his class because I feel like making the decision to home school has empowered me, in a way. I now realize that it's OK-- no, good-- to challenge the assumptions of the experts because doing so actually causes you to challenge your own assumptions and the net result is knowing more about something than you did before, and I think this is true whether your child is home schooled, or taught in a public or private school.

My neighbors and friends are still calling about school registration, but they're calling either to celebrate their child's teacher assignment or to complain about it. I can hear the stress and the angst in their voices, the same stress and angst I remember lacing my own voice at this time last year. It's stress and angst that, I know, will dissipate in a week or so; probably it will correspond to mine increasing exponentially or, in other words, when I actually start home schooling instead of just talking about it.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Dry Basement

Our basement is dry. Seriously.

What cured it? Our plumber. Apparently the valve attached to the drain tiles was clogged, and probably has been the entire time we have owned our house.

What a stupid, easy thing to fix. And it only took us four years to finally figure it out. Still though, I feel immeasurable relief.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Incognito House Hunting

We love our house (recent basement post aside). Really, we do. Finally, after four years, it'a pretty much how we want it. It's smaller than we'd like, yes, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in location and neighbors.

That said, Superdad and I are always keeping our eyes open. We're constant visitors at various open houses and, even occasionally, have popped in a few tempting houses with a realtor friend of ours. If the right house came along I'm not quite sure what we'd do.

But don't tell our neighbors.

You see, every time someone has moved off the block for any reason other than a job relocation, they've been skewered. Sure it's all in good humor and fun, but people on my street house-hunt in secret. Including us.

Some good friends of ours down the street confessed to me yesterday morning in hushed tones while looking furtively up and down the street that they actually had considered moving twenty miles north of here. They then begged me not to tell anyone else. Today I'm going off with our realtor friend to look at an interesting house. What should I say if my neighbors see me getting into her car? Should I say we had a coffee date?

Flower Calendar

Some flowers arrived for me yesterday. Not in the traditional sense, but in pictures. What a bright spot in a dreary day.

I fell in love with the Smith and Hawken Flowers Calendar in 2006. The following year I test drove their Secret Garden Calendar and that, too, kept gorgeous, blooming flowers in my kitchen all year long.

And now I'm back to the Flowers Calendar. My favorite. Isn't it lovely?

Monday, August 20, 2007

Rain, Rain, Go AWAY!

And don't come back again. At least for a few weeks, anyway.

Rain here for the past two (three?) days. Various showers and storms the week prior. Rain forecast for the next three to four days. My psyche can't take much more wetness, and neither can my poor, wet basement.

UPDATE: Wonder of wonders, our plumber actually called me BACK! He even thinks he might-- might-- be able to come out today and unclog our main drain which is backing up all the drain tile and causing all the awful water all over our basement (where all my kids' toys, our TV, sofa and the kids' computer reside). Here's hoping!

UPDATE (this is soooo fascinating, isn't it?): Between the plumber and the drain tile guy, they finally flipped over whose domain we fell under. The plumber lost, but so did we because they didn't figure this out until well after 3 p.m. and I've yet to hear back from the plumber. *Sigh* Another day of rain and sopping wet rugs.

Oh well. C'est la vie, no?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

No Electricity

I realized the other day how warped my poor children will probably be as adults. The day was rainy and the kids, especially Hank, were tired. I was off somewhere by myself and Superdad was ruling the roost. Madeleine and Hank were tired. Bored. Cranky.

Hank looked at Superdad, pleadingly and asked, "Dad, can I please use electricity?"

Yes, we allow our children to use lights, clocks, etc. but what the "no electricity" order means for the kids is no TV, no Nintendo, no computer and no Gameboy. It came into being one day when Hank was feeling especially dedicated and asked if he could watch TV. I said no. He asked if he could play video games. I said no. He then ran through every electronic thing he could possibly come up with until finally, in frustration, I said,"No, Hank, if it uses electricity you can't do it right now."

The order is in effect the vast majority of the time and it is only lifted on occasions deemed worthy enough by the adult in charge (it's been a week or two since they last broke the order or I'm having an especially bad or harried day).

But really, it's funny, isn't it? I chuckle every time I hear little Hanker ask in his sweetest, cutest little voice, "Mom, can I pleeeease use electricity? Please?!" Can you imagine my children explaining as adults how, in the year 2007, their cruel parents wouldn't let them use electricity?

Friday, August 17, 2007


Superdad and I recently started battling over a chessboard after not playing against each other or anyone else, for years. Decades, probably. The kids noticed our activity when it first began last winter but, out of the two older kids, only Hank was interested in learning and playing. Last night Madeleine decided she finally wanted to learn how to play. I don't know if she is really interested or simply sees it as a clever way to escape bedtime but, either way, I'm happy to have another person to engage in battle.

If anyone is interested, I ran across this quasi-interesting website when trying to pinpoint the origins of the currently used pieces.

Oh, and when Madeleine was picking up the chess pieces she said, "How come chess is so complicated?" Indeed.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Digital World

When I was growing up my mom had a large, black, rotary dial phone next to her bed in addition to the main phone the rest of us shared in our downstairs hallway. I thought that clunky old rotary phone was the cat's meow because you could use it while lying on a bed. I mean, really, how great was technology, right?

My children don't know what a rotary dial phone is. The only place they've seen one is at a museum. They know a world where cell phones and cordless phones rule. They know they can email me from Daddy's phone. Elisabeth has four discarded cell phones among her collection of very favorite toys.

When I was growing up pictures where taken on rolls of film that you had to wait days or weeks to have developed before you could actually see them. Unless, of course, you were lucky enough to have have a Polaroid camera (I wasn't) and then you could see your pictures instantly (or, after five minutes, which seemed instant at that time).

Anytime someone takes my children's picture they immediately run behind the photographer so they can see the photo on the camera's display screen. And the picture is always on ready display because nearly everyone has a digital camera. Including, now, my seven-year-old daughter-- and she knows how to use it ("Let's review the pictures now, Hank, OK? ")!

We've gained a lot as a society but, sometimes, I feel as if we've lost a lot also. Remember the days when if you weren't available at work whomever was trying to reach you would just leave a message with a co-worker? On paper? They wouldn't have a five alternate numbers to try before giving up or, as a last resort, be able to email you anytime, anywhere.

Even more incomprehensible these days, if you tried to reach someone at home and they weren't there you had to simply try back later and hope you reached them. Frustrating, sure, but wasn't life a bit calmer and simpler before having three different voice mails to check and analyzing a caller ID log? Wasn't it more relaxing when you weren't expected to be reached, and respond, instantly?

I can't talk, really. My family and I have bought into all the digital devices that are supposed to make our lives simpler. It's just that, at times, I wonder if they really do.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

August Recap

What a bad, bad blogger I've been. Excuses? I have none. I'll be better now. I promise.

Following is a quick recap of this past month's highlights.

August 3: Madeleine's "friend" birthday party at Pump-it-Up. They call themselves the "inflatable party zone" and, really, I can' t think of a better way to describe it. Envision a huge gym with multiple things to jump on, slide on, etc. Madeleine has been begging to have her party there for two loooooong years. Finally, we consented. Lucky girl.

August 4: Madeleine's family party. Our "small" family parties have now grown to an attendance level of just under twenty. Madeleine requested BBQ ribs and sweet corn. I was happy to oblige, and hungry family was happy to eat.

August 5: The beginning of the bubonic plague. Uh, I mean, strep throat.

August 9: All three kids go down to Dad and Diana's house, antibiotics in hand. I spend the next day and a half filling up Dad's Land Rover (I still prefer the Volvo XC90) with unused books, toys and clothes, supplying Goodwill's merchandise for the next eight months, at least.

Yes, this is an actual, blog-able event. The kids' bedrooms and the basement are clean and organized. Definitely a notable event.

August 11: Superdad and I head up to St. Paul, Minnesota to see a dear family friend get married. The weekend was perfect in every possible way. We got to see my brother and good friends we'd not seen recently. The bride was lovely, as was the reception and a wonderful, relaxing time was had.

So that's it. Any and all exciting news. Regular, uneventful blogging will resume again shortly. I'll just bet you can't wait.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


If you're wondering why I haven't been frequently posting, yet again, I have two words for you: strep throat. And no, no, it's not just me, it has infected Madeleine and Elisabeth too.

I had all these grand plans of sharing birthday stories and pictures and having Madeleine finish her thank-you notes, but about all I can cope with right now is comforting Elisabeth after she takes her amoxicillin and she realizes that one teaspoon is all she's going to get (what's in the infant amoxicillin anyway; is it laced with sugar? My kids loooove it).

So anyway. Bah. Humbug.

Back later.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Flashback: August 3, 2000

Today Madeleine is seven-years-old. Seven. I still can't quite wrap my brain around that fact that here I sit with a seven-year-old daughter. In some ways she still seems so young, and in others so mature; so, so mature that it's hard to remember that's she's only seven.

I've never been one of those women who has embraced pregnancy as if I were finally fulfilling a life-long physical dream. I mean, sure, I always wanted to be a mother, but I learned quickly while pregnant with Madeleine, and even faster with subsequent pregnancies, that the sickness, fatigue and general feelings of cowish-ness outweighed any enjoyment I might have experienced while pregnant.

I think as sort of a joke, or maybe as payback for not appreciating pregnancy enough, God has given me the gift of longer than average pregnancies, each one extending longer than the last. Madeleine, as you might then guess, was the shortest of my pregnancies. She was born only five days past my due date.

I remember the day clearly. Labor began, as they often do, the afternoon of the day prior to her birth. I didn't realize that's what it was at the time, of course; I attributed the contractions to more Braxton-Hicks, or warm-up, contractions. Other mothers who have been overdue will understand this: you reach a point in your pregnancy, well after your arbitrarily designated "due date," where you just sort of give up and figure pregnancy is a condition that will plague you for a lifetime. Silly, I know, but it's how you come to think and feel.

By early evening I was finally convinced that the contractions might really be the real thing. I panicked. I called Terri, my only friend who had ever experienced labor, and asked her opinion. She offered the only advice possible from a friend sitting on the other end of a phone line over sixty miles away, "Um, it could be labor."

It was. After multiple visits to the hospital, and enduring the embarrassing ordeal of being sent home by nurses because I wasn't far enough along in my labor to be at the hospital, the irritation of Superdad falling asleep while timing my contractions and the final exciting moments of knowing that, within minutes, I was to become a mother, Madeleine was born on Thursday, August 3 at 3:39 p.m.

With Madeleine we hadn't found out the sex; we wanted to be surprised. The moments following her birth were a blur: the realization I had a daughter, a mop of thick, brown hair, hearing our families in the hallway, not ten feet from our door, chomping at the bit to meet who, for some, was a first grandchild and who, for others, was the second.

At times I feel as if the following seven years have been just as much of a blur as the moments following her birth; some moments are clear and locked away in my memory, undisturbed and perfect and others are difficult, if not impossible, to recall.

But one overriding thought exists: the past seven years have been much more beautiful, meaningful and, mostly, enjoyable, than they ever could have been without the gift of my sweet little Madeleine.

Happy birthday, Peanut!