Apr 27, 2010

Mystery Problem

4/27/2010 — cori
The problem is not a mystery...it's what's causing the problem that remains a mystery. See these bushes:They have been decimated by the mystery azalea bush eating monster - the tree too. These bushes used to be twice their size. They used to have such thick foliage. The promise of lots of blooms during spring and summer was eminent. And then this carnage. I was devastated. I asked everyone what we could do. What type of creature eats innocent azalea bushes? The poor things look like someone went crazy with the pruners and then ripped off all the leaves. But I can promise you I (nor did any of my people) commit such an act.

We were beside ourselves. We wanted to set up a video camera and get proof. But it only happens at night. We're not the high tech kind of people. We don't have the proper lighting to illuminate the area in order to see what we're recording during the pitch black of night. So that option was out.

Then we (I) had a most genius plan. I've seen/heard of instances where you put a garden gnome or ceramic animal out in the garden and it tricks the unwanted invaders into thinking something bigger than them is already in the garden and therefore they're not welcome or wanted. So...there I am playing a psychology game on our 'monster' - they're probably just bunnies, but the vicious type.

I chose this adorable little puppy dog to place in the garden. A LOT of thought went into choosing just the right type of lawn ornament. I knew it would be a reflection of us and didn't want to freak the neighbors out or anything. There were too many options of what to choose truth be told. So in the end I ended up picking out the cute puppy. I guess gullible, naive and 'walk all over me' is the message we wanted to send out instead of threatening, treacherous and mean. The monster scoffed at the sweet puppy. Our ceramic (actually resin) dog did nothing to curb his midnight appetite for our shrubberies.

A sweet friend, who is experienced in all matters of gardening, suggested something so atrocious I actually laughed out loud when she mentioned it. She said that she knew that fox urine worked to keep critters away. Hmmmmm. My first question was, "who in the world goes around collecting all this urine?" I guess the answer wasn't important. The fact is that it works and now we can fix our problem.

So...we go to Lowes and ask for fox urine. Of course they don't carry that, but some young, hip dude who worked there said he heard that human pee did the trick just as good, so don't go waste your money on all that expensive fox urine when you've got plenty of human pee-ers in your house. I'm thinking maybe he was playing us.

But of course we tried it. Being the ever cost efficient one that I am, I'm also going to opt for the free option of any variety. If that means my boys must pee in a jar so that we can be rid of the monster bunny, so be it. I will spare you the picture of the pee jar. I left in the garage with strict instructions to all boys in my house that they MUST pee in that jar if they love their mother and want to see her happy because her azalea bushes are blooming again. They must take one for the team. It's not that hard anyways - it was actually probably very convenient for them.

So, once a week, me and my magic formula in a yellow container, march around the house making a bee-line for my left-for-dead bushes. I pour the scary human pee all around the bushes and lift up a quick prayer for results.

I kid you not...human pee IS just as effective as fox pee. And I have proof! Look at this, people:

It lives!! It grows!! It makes me (and ceramic puppy) happy! Granted, there are only 4 blooms on it - but look at the life it exudes! It has leaves. Just in case you can't see well enough, let me give you a close up picture of my pride and joy:

A lot of blood, sweat and tears (and other bodily fluids) went into this beloved flower. I want to savor this moment. Hard work and a little intimidation pays off in the end. Mystery critter - beware. We are armed, waiting and ready!

Green Thumb Woes

4/27/2010 — cori
I decided this year to try to channel some "Little House In The Prairie" pioneer gumption and make my own garden. Unbelievable, yet true. Have I mentioned that I'm horribly idealistic? That is paramount to this story. I had visions of becoming self-sufficient, at least in the vegetable department. We were going to become a family that ate off the land from things we grew with our own two hands.

Since Chloe was my only homeschooler this year, I had tons of plans for fun things to do and plenty of time to do them in. We've done most of them but had put off one big one - the garden. I decided to not do a fall garden for two reasons: 1. I was very intimidated by the whole concept and 2. it was going to be hard! Why start something hard when it's destined to fail with the winter weather looming so close at hand. I need a much larger bell curve. So, I decided to put it off until Spring. A Spring garden seemed a lot easier (I have no idea why, probably just because it was some futuristic time frame).

I did some preliminary research (I use that term very lightly). I talked to two friends who were/are successful gardeners. I even looked at the books they recommended, but didn't actually read them. I did however, read all the type in bold print - just to hit the highlights. And last but not least, I found a gardening book at Half-Price Books that was on clearance for a dollar that seemed right up my alley titled, "A Victory Garden for Kids". I know we no-longer live in the WWII era, but I loved the idea. I again, scanned thru that book just enough to pick up a few key points like what to plant when. I learned about fish juice and when to use it.

I also like to count my time talking with the cashier and bag-boy at the grocery store as part of my research phase. When anyone who gardens finds out someone new is about to start, they feel compelled to give you a plethora of information that you'll never remember because you don't have anything to write it down with but you sit there shaking your head and smiling acting like the novice you know you are just to be polite. I remembered a few things from this exciting encounter: plant marigolds to keep the insects off your plants (did I? no) and tie ribbon on sticks to keep the birds out of your garden (yes, sort of). All that advice and I can't believe those are the only two things that stuck!

Come late winter I was on Chuck like white on rice to get him to dig me out a 'plot'. He of course, has to calculate and do everything just so and correctly, whereas I prefer to wing it most of the time. Figure it out as you go along. Let me just say, his way is better.

After several weeks, Chuck finally accomplished his portion of the task. Now it was my turn. I had already planted all my seeds in one of those little greenhouse containers you get at Lowes. It's called 'seeding the plant' for those of you other novice gardeners. Boy, those seeds were doing a great job. I felt my thumb getting greener by the minute. Now, even though I didn't thoroughly read one gardening book, I did read the entire back of each seed packet. I knew exactly what was expected of me and my seeds.

As those little seeds were growing, my job was to put all the soil and mulch in the plot out back. I was also to build a little fence because I am not growing a garden to feed bunnies. I have never in my life built a fence and I am proud to say I finally 'figured it out' and made me a fence, all in one afternoon. And I didn't even have a staple gun, I used all nails and some mesh like material. Hard to do!!! But I felt invigorated after accomplishing what I previously thought impossible. If I can build a fence, I can definitely plant and grow a garden. Look at my lovely handiwork:

Only, too bad for me, because the little seedlings I had so professionally grown died. And it wasn't even my fault. I had to put the whole little greenhouse thingy outside one day (while the granite people were making a huge mess of my house) and the wind and elements killed every chance at life those little guys had. I mourned my seeds. That meant I would have to actually plant the seeds in the dirt of my plot by myself. I know plot sounds more graveyardish and sadly enough, that is what my garden was turning out to be.

Three weeks elapsed and still no sign of life. I faithfully watered my garden daily. Every two weeks I put fish juice on it. I started thinking to my self, maybe I should have actually read a book on how to do this properly. But then I also thought to my self, did the pioneers have books about how to grow a garden? Nooo! They learned by trial and error just like me. That's as far as my conversation with myself progressed. Then I decided to take drastic action. I was actually going to dig up one of those seeds and see if it was doing anything. I couldn't even find one of my seeds.

Actually, I take that back, my watermelon seed grew two baby leaves. We all rejoiced. But one little watermelon does not a garden grow. I had to resort to buying plants that were already alive and growing. Thus, my new and improved garden:

This leaves me in a state of consternation though. What in the world did Pa do (remember, "Little House" is my mentor here) when he couldn't grow his crop? He couldn't go to the Olsen's and just go buy a new one? Oh how far we (me) have fallen as a society that we cannot be self-sufficient for our own food. All my ideals have taken a beating. My optimism is crushed. Yet, in the midst of all that, I thank God I'm not (nor was I ever) a pioneer! There is something to be thankful for afterall.

And another thing...this was supposed to be a 'homeschool project'. The only one I see getting homeschooled here is me! I guess that's another good example of how learning never stops. I might fail (or semi-cheat) this go around, but I'll have learned something and be better the next time I try (please!).

Apr 23, 2010

Proper Finger Names

4/23/2010 — cori
Mr. Thinks Alot over here has decided we'd all be better off if we adopted his new finger naming system. His life's goal is to make everything easier. It would be so much easier on us all if we didn't have to think so hard about the names of our fingers. Thus, he proposes the following:

The Thinger
The Finger
The Minger
The Ringer
The Pinger

My son is nothing if not uniform. He loves all things that have meaning and purpose. You've got to admit, this just makes more sense. By the way, he informed me that his pinger hurts this morning.

Apr 22, 2010

The Dish Washer

4/22/2010 — cori
In our house, each of the kids have after dinner chores. We don't typically rotate them or switch them around simply because of age and skill set - the don't correspond or transfer well from job to job. But as of late, they've been asking to switch with each other and we've been tentatively watching from the sidelines to see how it goes. So far, so good.

All that to say, typically Chloe doesn't do the dishes. I let her sometimes when all I have in the sink is tupperware and plastic cups. Nothing can get broken and she can't get hurt. But she's 6 now. That's big. She feels she's entitled to do all things 'big'. That includes dinner dishes. And what pride she takes in her work. She's very detail oriented, so this job was actually a perfect fit for her.

She calls me down when there's only one item left in the sink, a bowl with left over salad in it. She wanted to know what to do with it. She asks, "Mom, should I put this in the garbeler?"

Then I'm quickly reminded how 'big' she really is. I couldn't correct her. I thought garbeler fit so much better than garbage disposal - that sounds too grown up.

After instructing her in the proper use of the garbeler, I watched as she handled it like an expert. Life is fun when you look at it through the eyes of a child.

Apr 20, 2010

Data Overload

4/20/2010 — cori

This scene unfolds before you while we are at the dinner table (where else?):

Gavin: "Boy, I sure was hungry at lunch today."

Me: "Why Honey?"

Gavin: "Because I only had a half a sandwich."

Me: "Were you not hungry?"

Gavin: Just looking at me with a silly grin on his face.

2.5 minutes later.....

Me: "Ooooooohhhhhh!!!!"

Here's the problem. Gavin always gets two circle ham sandwiches in his lunch - everyday. Bennett always gets a half a sandwich (any variety). I normally make this sometime in the pre 7am hour. Both lunch boxes are the exact same shape and size, just different colors. Unbeknownst to me, I put the wrong sandwich baggie in the wrong lunch box and there was no quality control checking up on me and they went out that way.

Upon realizing the error of my ways, I grabbed my head and moaned. And laughed. And moaned some more. I asked Chuck to just commit me to the mental hospital now. I do believe either I'm processing too much data in that tiny brain of mine or I need to start downloading some of those big files up there to an external hard drive to make more room.

Then suddenly, the error of my ways hit Bennett and he proclaimed, "So that's what was different about my lunch. I knew something wasn't right." But he ate the sandwich anyways (& threw the other one away).

Gavin just found the whole scenario hilarious and very typical of his loopy mother. He's come to expect these sort of shenanigans from me now-a-days.

Apr 15, 2010

Easy Listening

4/15/2010 — cori
This is Gavin's nightstand next to his bed. The alarm clock was our gift to him for his 11th birthday. He was thrilled with the fact that it was an "i" something. It's called an iSymphony. It has a dock for an iPhone or an iTouch - neither of which are items Gavin has, wants or has even asked for. He cherishes the simple things in life. An alarm clock with built in cd player was HUGE to him. He read the owner's manual from front to back in less than an hour. He knows exactly what each key sequence does. He even has his own stack of cds now. And now that he has all this power in one little piece of equipment, its cool to see the choices he makes with it. For instance, of all the radio stations he could set his alarm clock to, he chooses the classical station. I. Love. That! It is my own personal favorite - what my station in the car is set to. I've never pushed my music on any of the kids...we listen to what they like when they're in the car (usually a book on tape). But that he would choose classical to wake up to makes me smile. But then it also explains why he never wakes up when his alarm goes off either. He lays there for another 10 minutes because the sound is so soothing and peaceful. I so love seeing their little personalities show up in places I hadn't even thought about.

Now Bennett on the other hand...he's like me. He doesn't need an alarm. He's up before his even goes off. But he likes having it set, just in case. And his station is no where near anything classical. He has the country station blaring every morning. Speaking of radios...did you know this was the one Chuck bought when he started college almost 20 years ago??? That's a blast to the past. Shockingly, it still works. Early 1990's technology - gotta love it!

Chloe has an alarm clock, but it's just for looks. She even purchased it with her own money. I don't know if that girl ever sleeps. She's awake already, no matter how early I wake up. And she sings at night after I put her to bed. Often she's still singing when I go to bed myself. I wish I had what it was that keeps her awake all day. She uses her alarm clock during the day when she gets the urge to dance. Her's is also set to the classical station. She is classical through and through. She even begs me to put it on in the car. Personally, I think she could probably try to fit one more large item on that teeny, tiny night stand. And that 'horse' in the background...that would scare me if I had to wake up and look at that first thing every morning.

Daddy walks to the beat of a different drummer. He's all about sports radio. And it's always loud. It's on his car. In the garage. On his headphones while he's working at the computer. He has a steady diet of sports facts. Thank God one of the prerequisites for marriage isn't liking each others' music (or choice of radio station) .

Apr 14, 2010

Noises at Midnight

4/14/2010 — cori

Being that I am the only adult in the house at the moment makes me hyper-sensitive to noises in the night. Sleep does not come easily when everything is magnified because of the fear factor. I'm amazed at all the things I don't hear when Chuck is home. I don't hear them because I'm sleeping peacefully because my protector is here to hear them for me (and the kids).

As you know, I have little visitors sleeping in my bed with me. When one visitor is with me, the other two sleep in the same room together as well. It's the whole safety in numbers thing. Somewhere around 12:02 last night I heard a loud crashing sound. I bolted upright in bed and looked around my dark room. Bennett was still sound asleep, so evidently he didn't hear the mystery noise. My next instinct is to 'secure the premises'. This entails walking blindly (that would be without glasses) through the darkness of the hallway all the way downstairs to Gavin's room to check on him and Chloe.

Before I leave my bedroom, I decide to 'hide' a screw driver left out in the open that I was using earlier in the evening. My mind decides that the best way to hide it would be to cover it with something on the floor. I wouldn't want someone to use it against anyone in the house if someone is indeed perusing through my house at the moment. My mind also thought that it wouldn't be 'safe' to bring the screwdriver with me since it could potentially be used as a weapon against me. I'm so glad my mind thinks with such clarity at midnight. Therefore, my mind decided I would be safer going down stairs to scout out the origin of the crash unarmed, especially without a scary screwdriver.

As I peek in Gavin's room, I notice that he's lying there with his eyes open. I therefore assume he's awake and ask him like we just spoke 5 minutes ago, "Hey Bud, did you just hear a crashing sound?" He looks at me like we always have these little midnight conversations and says, "Nope." He then rolls over and falls back to sleep.

Not once did it occur to me to ask him why he was laying there wide awake. I was more concerned about whether or not my 11 year old was going to concur that I had in fact heard this heart stopping sound in the middle of the night. "Okay then Honey, goodnight, sleep tight" was how I ended our little rendezvous. I decided to continue scouring the dark house, without so much as a bat or even a hanger to throw at someone or something had I actually found anything.

Gavin didn't hear anything and he was awake and I thought I heard something and I was asleep. I didn't see anything out of the ordinary anywhere in the house. So I figured it must have been in my dream or I was in some whacked out mental state and thinking I heard something just because of my new found responsibility as 'protector of the house'. I crawled back in bed, heart beating out of my chest and tried to fall back asleep. I told myself it must have been something in the attic that fell (I should have been VERY AFRAID if that was the cause cuz the only thing in the attic is the HVAC unit, the hot water heater and some very heavy boxes), or that I was just having a very over active imagination.

Simple. Just take deep, calming breaths and go back to sleep.

Ya...like in 2 hours.

Anyways...morning finally came and with it, a lot of light which makes all those little bumps in the night seem silly. I had decided that it was all in my imagination once I woke up and saw the sun streaming in the windows and the house all peaceful.

But to my surprise, when I walked into the kitchen, I found a frame that fell off the wall and was laying all caddy-wompus on my counter. I felt justified. I'm not going crazy afterall. I did hear something. Looks like I could have used that screwdriver after all!

Apr 12, 2010

Rigged Election

4/12/2010 — cori

Whenever Chuck is out of town, the kids and I have a little ritual.

Of course we do. This is the land of rituals, traditions, routine and strict bedtimes.

Anyways...as I was saying, our little ritual. On the first day that Daddy is out of town, I write down each kid's name, put it in a hat/bowl and let the kids draw a name to see who sleeps with me on which day. This ranks up there with the NBA draft as far as importance. We DO NOT kid around. There are only three spots and they are coveted. My bed is the ultimate in coolness and getting the chance to sleep on it and next to me is a profound honor that happens ONLY when Daddy is gone.

The kids act like OSHA, the NSA and EPA all at the same time. There are many government regulations that must be strictly enforced in order to make this a fair procedure for all involved. I must write the names the same width and height. I must fold the papers the exact same way. I must not give any verbal clues during the picking process.

With that being said, you can now have a greater appreciation of today's little 'incident'. Chloe offers...and by that I mean, has already decided to this probably a week ago and is already in the process of writing out the names...to get everything ready for me this morning. I thought she was just getting the pen and paper. But when I turn around, she already has the names on the paper and is folding them up all innocent like. That should have been my first clue.

I was in the middle of making the boys' lunches and it wasn't even breakfast time yet, so I decided I could use all the help I could get. Let her write the names...it's not going to hurt anything.

She graciously lets Bennett pick out the first name. Remember, normal procedure states: "The first person's name that is read aloud during the picking process is here-to-for the first person allowed to sleep with mommy on the first night. Each proceeding name corresponds to each proceeding day." Simple enough.

Bennett eagerly opens the folded piece of paper and reads aloud, "Bennett - Tuesday. Cool, that's the day I wanted anyway." Of course he does. The middle child wants the middle day. Who ever wants the middle?

I don't know if I just wasn't totally into the draft pick this time around or I was too task oriented on making lunches or if I just wasn't paying attention, but I failed to notice that he read a day attached to his name. However, this small fact did not escape Gavin's attention.

Gavin responds, "Great. I can see where this is going. I'm probably going to get stuck with Wednesday. Chloe is gonna give herself the best day."

Chloe was being awfully quiet. She "unknowingly" (that's still up for debate) rigged the whole democratic process. It seems that prior to putting the names in the bowl, she had already chosen a particular day for each person and written their day next to their name. Thus, making the entire 'drawing the name' process completely unnecessary. Thus creating anarchy amongst the troops.

Somehow (I can't remember, I was going on autopilot) I talked the troops down and created a truce. Everyone agreed to continue on with the rigged election process and even pretended to act happy about it. Gavin was really the only one who drew the short straw and I quietly encouraged him that Wednesday was the best night anyways. Once he realized this, he was no longer bent out of shape.

I wonder if this ever happens in real life?

Apr 9, 2010

Down on the Farm

4/09/2010 — cori
We had a few guests join us in dressing up for dinner this particular night. We have so much fun doing it as a family, now we enjoy suckering...I mean, sharing the joy with those around us who might not have experienced dinner in such a manner before. Chuck was a duck...but we can't seem to find photographic evidence of that at the moment.

Bennett the cow - those are not horns taped to his head, they are ears

Chloe the bunny without a bushy tail but with a collar

Karen the sheep - not to be confused with Little Bo Peep

Me the silo

John the dairy cow - he has horns and udders but no ears

Nana the rooster/chicken - a rooster because of the comb; a chicken because of the breast

Gavin the weed - ingenious if you ask me, but I'm just a silo, so what do I know

Apr 5, 2010

Melancholy Moments

4/05/2010 — cori
This is the day my baby girl turned 6. For some reason it hit me hard today. Time rushes by too fast. We tend to always be in a rush to get to the next stage, the next phase of childhood, the next activity, the next event. In the day-to-day routine of life, do we remember how lucky we are? Do we look at our children with awe each day? Do I thank God that he gave me one more day with my favorite people in the whole world? Do I get frustrated easily by their childishness or do I chose to be amazed by how fast they learn? Do I focus on all that I've sacrificed for them or do I see all I've learned and gained by giving up my self and my conveniences for their sake? Do I withhold love in any area so as to protect myself from rejection or future hurt from them, or do I love with abandon and no expectation? If tomorrow never comes, will she know how much I loved her?

I was telling my sister-in-law that I was shocked that I had a six year old. And then I realized, not only is it shocking that I have a six year old, but that my youngest is six! That means I'm old enough to be a bona-fide adult now. Parenting has been the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. To have this precious life in my hands, to keep safe, to teach, to guide down the path of life - what an awesome honor, privilege and responsibility. Many days I don't feel up to the task; I'm overwhelmed by the daily demands, responsibilities, fears and hurdles that I face. But once again, God has me right where he wants me...on my knees and completely dependent on him for everything - especially raising these precious hearts that I hold in my hands and cherish more than life itself.

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