Tuesday, January 31, 2012

...And The Wicked Step-Sisters Had Their Eyes Pecked Out, But Everyone Else Lived Happily Ever After

I don't read a whole lot of magazines, particularly women's magazines.  I get tired of reading article after article about losing ten pounds while organizing your spice cupboard.  Thanks, but no thanks.

Every so often, though, I'll come across an interesting piece.  When Adelaide was a baby, I remember reading an article arguing that we should be reading traditional fairy tales to our children.  I really don't recall many specifics; something about good and bad archetypes and making your children smarter and... stuff.

Since reading that article, I've harbored the vague idea that I should read fairy tales to our kiddos at some point- and none of that namby pamby Disney stuff, I mean the originals from the likes of the brothers Grimm and Aesop.

I did have a few small reservations.  I have a very clear memory of checking out "The Little Mermaid" by Hans Christian Andersen from my elementary school library.  Somehow I missed the part in the Disney version where every step she takes with her new human legs feels like she's being stabbed with knives, and the part where she dies in the end and washes ashore as seafoam, because evidently that's what happens when merfolk die- they disintegrate into seafoam.  Good news, though!  Although dying here on earth, she does manage to earn an eternal soul.

It was with this in mind that I agreed to read a few stories to Adelaide from our copy of "Grimm's Complete Fairy Tales" recently.  We had read a few stories from it before, but never anything with which she was already familiar.  What she actually requested was to read it herself, but I was a little afraid of what she might come across, and wanted to reserve the right to censor as I saw fit (I know, I know, censorship is evil and blah, blah, blah).

I skimmed Cinderella, saw that it looked relatively close to her beloved Disney version, and decided we'd try it.

It was really pretty similar to the animated version with which we're so familiar, with a few distinctions, like Cinderella crying over her mother's grave, which causes a tree to grow, where a gift-giving bird lives, and the part where the two wicked step-sisters cut off parts of their feet to make them fit into the (gold, not glass) slipper.  Also the part where birds come and peck out the eyes of the sisters at Cinderella's wedding to the prince.

Sorry for ruining the ending for you.

Adelaide seemed to take this slightly less saccharine version in stride.  We both agreed it was a lot less traumatizing than treasures like "The Robber Bridegroom."

Even that one has it's merits, though- our daughter can now accurately define cannibalism!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Proof That I Actually Do Get Things Done Every Once In A While

Like just about everybody else, I love Pinterest.

Well, like just about every other woman.  Pinterest doesn't really seem to be much of a draw for males.  I was all excited about it when I first got on there a few months ago, and so of course wanted to share it with Derek.  I tried to describe it to him, but he was thoroughly underwhelmed.  "Just look," I insisted.  "It's so cool.  You'll love it."

So I showed it to him, and took him on a little tour of the site.  He was, once again, thoroughly underwhelmed.

Anyway, one of my favorite things to check out are the many, many DIY and craft inspirations that can be found on there.  The problem is you end up pinning project after project after project, then end up not actually doing anything.

My solution was to ban myself from logging on for two months.  I told myself I could end my self-imposed exile after I had completed 5 projects.  I love seeing other people's final Pinterest-inspired products, and I've been meaning to post my own for awhile, but I didn't before because 1) Most of them were gifts, and I decided it might be a good idea to actually give them to their recipients before I put them up here, and 2) I forgot.

And so, without further ado (oh, except to say that I've provided a link underneath each photo to take you back to the original site from which I received inspiration- have to give credit where credit's due, and this way I don't actually have to give instructions on how to do any of these):

That's right, I kept one for myself- and let me tell you what, Derek loves seeing this uber-masculine accessory on our bed every day.

I keep telling myself that someday I won't have three small children that like to destroy and scatter any and all craft supplies they come across, and I'll be able to complete more than five crafts every six months.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Wisdom Is In The Eye Of The Beholder. Or Something.

I think my kids are funny.  They say and do funny things.

I am perfectly aware, however, that they are not alone in this.  Most kids are pretty funny (unless they're really, really annoying- you know the ones I'm talking about).

I recently started teaching Adelaide's Kindergarten class at church.  Another lady and I switch off, so I only teach every other Sunday.  25 5- and 6-year olds for an hour and a half.  That's a lot of funny.

Two weeks ago, we were talking about Solomon.  I told them that when Solomon was young, he got to ask God for anything he wanted-anything at all.  Then, of course, I asked the class, "If you could ask God for anything, what would it be?"

Hands flew into the air.

"A horse!"

"A unicorn!"

"The movie 'Rio'!"

"A video game!"


That last one was from a kid that I'm pretty sure is going to be one of my secret favorites.  I know, I know, teachers aren't supposed to have favorites, but hey, I'm not a real teacher, and I'm pretty careful to treat all the kids exactly the same.

But, c'mon, if rice crispy treats had been around back in Solomon's days, who knows?  Maybe he would have passed up wisdom for a delicious, crispy, buttery, marshmallowy treat.

Or maybe there's a lost Proverb somewhere concerning rice crispy treats that was waaaay ahead of it's time.

You don't know.

What I bet you do know is that maybe I shouldn't be teaching this class.

Oh, well, only two more days until I get to see those comical kids again!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Warning: Do Not Operate Heavy Machinery or Make Parenting Decisions While Sick

Our household has been suffering from a little bug.

Meaning we've been sick.

Not really sick, just severe headache- gallons of snot production- fever- queasy stomach- kind of sick.  Well enough to be able to go about our normal routines, but not well enough to feel good while doing it.

Several days ago, Adelaide brought home a paper from school informing us that the 100th day of school is approaching.  They will be celebrating this day a number of ways, one of which includes having each student in her class bring 100 of some small item to show the class on their Show and Share day (which is what they now call Show and Tell).  The teacher provided a few helpful suggestions, all of which Adelaide immediately discarded.  She had a few suggestions herself, like 100 doorknobs and 100 carrots, both of which I shot down.

The next day, my feverish brain was still trying to think of 100 something's for her to bring on Friday.  I cast my eyes around the room, searching for inspiration, when they settled on the ibuprofin bottle.


100 ibuprofin tablets!  Now there's something I bet no one else in her class will bring this week.  I genuinely believed this to be a brilliant idea for about five whole minutes, before common sense trickled through the illness that has been making me so stupid.  Maybe taking 100 ibuprofin tablets to a Kindergarten class wouldn't be such a good idea.  In fact, maybe it's one of the worst/most dangerous ideas I've ever had (recently, anyway).

Rest assured Adelaide will not be taking any sort of medication to Show and Share this week.  I still don't know what she's taking, but it will not involve any sort of chemical.

In addition to stupid, this sickness has been making me feel a trifle out of sorts and filled with a general sense of malaise (read: cranky and lazy).

We had a little over an inch of snow fall the night before last.  Now, I'm usually really good about shoveling the sidewalk, especially when there's so little actual snow on it.  I really should have gotten myself out there yesterday afternoon and shoveled while it was still relatively fresh.

But you know what?  I just didn't feel like it.

Instead I let it sit there, while the temperature dropped down to 6 last night and froze everything outside.

I still didn't feel like shoveling today, but I also didn't want to risk being fined by the city for not shoveling within the allotted 24-hour period, so hauled myself out the door, snow shovel in hand.

I quickly discovered that there was still a thin top layer of snow that I was able to scoop off easily, but the layer underneath had melted a bit yesterday (it got above freezing!  yippee!), then refrozen last night.

I spent a couple minutes hacking at a single square foot before I got frustrated and yelled, "This is CRAP!"

And startled the nice, older gentleman that lives down the street who was out walking his little dog.

To make a long story short, this is not really a good week to be my neighbor, child, child's classmate, child's teacher, etc.

Sorry about that. (And the slick sidewalk that I quickly gave up on.  Please don't walk by our house any time soon.)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Biology 101

One of the fun things about having kids is dissecting them.

I don't mean that in a biology class- frog- fetal pig- starfish- kind of way.  I mean looking at their strange conglomeration of features and figuring out which one came from which parent.

Who's cheeks are those?  Do you think he has your Dad's chin?  How about that nose?

As our children get older, we're able not just to identify physical characteristics we've passed down, but also... temperaments, let's call them.

As the oldest, Adelaide is our most advanced little lab rat (and I mean that in the most affectionate way possible).  With each passing year, more behavioral nuances emerge, and Derek and I enjoy ascribing different facets of her personality to one of the two of us.

Some of these come out in different ways; for instance, through her school work.  Each day after school, I pull Adelaide's folder out of her backpack and withdraw the papers that she has recently completed at school.  Most of these are worksheets that I enjoy looking over to check her progress, but most people (i.e., you) could care less about.  Every once in awhile, however, a gem finds it's way in there.

Here's one from around Christmas-time:

The sentence starts: "If Santa was stuck in my chimney I would..."  Then each student had to fill in their own response.  You probably can't read Adelaide's, but she wrote, "Pull him out of the chimney."

To me, this is all Derek.  It's just so practical.  I can just imagine her face (and Derek's) when reading the sentence.  "If Santa was stuck in my chimney I would..."  Well, I would pull him out of the chimney!  What else are you supposed to do?  Morons.

No fun, creative story-beginnings here.  No whimsy or frivolity.  Just fixing an obvious problem.  Her father's daughter.

Then there's this more recent one, when her class was obviously talking about Martin Luther King, Jr.

When I saw this, my initial thought was that she had brought another student's paper home.  Adelaide has been an exact, in-the-lines colorer (pretty sure that's not a word) since she was two.  She painstakingly colors in each section of a paper, careful to never stray beyond the boundaries of a thick black line.  This means that her artwork is either quite pretty, or only partially finished, because this attention to detail requires copious amounts of time.  I completely understand this, as I remember spending plenty of recesses inside in Kindergarten so that I could finish coloring some page or cutting another project out.  

Adelaide said she had to hurry to finish this; she didn't want a classmate to call her a slowpoke again, and so "had to scribble like a little kid."  She is not happy with this finished product, nor it's place on the fridge.

When I got to the second page of this little school project, I realized that it had to be Adelaide's.

"I'm sorry you got shot."

That one's all Adelaide.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

And That Was a New Roll of Toilet Paper

I'm pretty sure I've never mentioned this on here before, but I love to vacuum.

There's something so satisfying to me about pushing the vacuum forward and backward, immediately seeing the carpet look better, cleaner.  Instant gratification.  For me, vacuuming is second only to push-mowing, which will always be my first love.

I indulged in this second-favorite chore of mine this morning.  By 8:30 am, I had half of the upstairs vacuumed, then stopped for awhile to make sure the boys weren't destroying the house.  This led to a 2-hour distraction of playing with Atticus and Caedmon, but eventually I remembered I had never finished cleaning upstairs.  I made sure the two boys were playing relatively peaceably together, then headed back up to finish vacuuming and put some freshly laundered clothing away.

Ten minutes later, I was done, and feeling about as Super-Mommyish as I ever do.

I came back downstairs, and all those super feelings dissolved.

Caedmon had wrestled the rubberband off the handles of one of the bookcases and pulled half the books out onto the floor.  He had also discovered that his mother had evidently neglected to completely close and thus engage the latch on the dishwasher, so had opened it and taken out all the dirty dishes, except for one solitary spoon that he decided to leave in there.  He also found time to pull the diaper bag off the bench by the front door, turn it upside down, and completely empty it of it's contents.

Second floor of the house:  Clean.  First floor:  Unfit for human habitation.

I walked right past all that maddening clutter, fed the boys lunch, got them ready for naps, and put them down. I came back downstairs, returned all the books to their shelves, the dirty dishes to the washer, and the various diapers, wipes, etc, to the bag.  I decided I should go ahead and eat lunch before heading outside to shovel the several inches of snow we received last night and this morning off the sidewalk.  My hands were pretty grimy from all that cleaning, so I listened to the inner voice that sounds alarmingly like my mother, and headed to the bathroom to wash my hands.

I was greeted with this sight:

I give up.

Friday, January 13, 2012


I feel bad for Adelaide.

The reason I feel bad for her is because I have allergies.  And not just feel-like-you-have-a-slight-head-cold-every-once-in-awhile allergies, but Paul from the Wonder Years allergies.   Have to have inhalers strategically placed throughout your home and car and carry an Epipen in your bag kind of allergies.

Normally they don't affect our kids too much.  I try not to wander through giant fields of ragweed and avoid Red Lobster like it might kill me (because it could, ha...ha?).

In the past year or so, however, Adelaide has begun asking for a pet.  She knows I'm allergic to cats and dogs (I know, I know, it completely sucks to be my kids), and that, for now at least, those two animals are out.  So she's moved right on to smaller species, like turtles, hamsters, birds, etc.

Having grown up with pets, I am fully aware what would happen if we ever brought any of these animals home.  The first couple weeks (optimistically speaking), the kids would be all over them.  Feeding them, cleaning their cages, paying attention to them.  Slowly but surely, all responsibility would fall to me, Mom.

Right now is just not a good time for added responsibility.  Our kids are still young enough that I spend half my days up to my elbows in some kind of bodily fluid.  Or I'm putting every last kitchen utensil back in it's drawer.  Or I'm scrubbing chalk off the wall.  Or I'm trying to get lotion out of the carpet.  The last thing I need is an extra body to clean up after.

If Adelaide whined or threw a fit after we told her "No, you cannot have a fish right now", or "No, you cannot have a lizard ever," I wouldn't feel so bad.  That kind of behavior causes any and all sympathy to evaporate from my being.

Instead, a few days ago, Adelaide found a ladybug crawling up the wall of her bedroom.  She got it to crawl onto her finger, ran over and looked into my face, eyes shining, and breathlessly asked, "Mom, can I have a ladybug as a pet?  Please?"

She may as well have asked for "More gruel, please?"  That's how guilty I felt.

Maybe she could get a hamster.  I'm sure God didn't give me a deficient sense of smell for no reason.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Now Available For Loan

I owe everyone an apology.

I have been hoarding a precious resource to myself.  This resource is none other than the phenomenon known as "Caedmon."  More specifically, "Caedmon at the grocery store."

Maybe you've been feeling like your trips to the supermarket have been a little boring of late (or maybe you haven't).  I'm here to fix all that.  Well, Caedmon is.

Here's a little example of what your weekly trips could look like, with the little addition of our 15-month-old sweetheart:

Arrive at Aldi (or whatever grocery store you frequent).  Place Caedmon in the seat provided in the front of the cart.  Try to buckle the straps around him.  Realize they aren't long enough to fit around his barrel chest and puffy Vikings winter coat.  Pray he'll just sit still long enough to get your shopping done.  Pause because you swear you hear God laughing at your naivete.

Enter the store.  Try to keep the cart close enough to one side of the aisle that others can get past you, but not so close that Caedmon can reach the food products-especially the cereal, which he can bring down a good four boxes at a time.

Stop and check the floor behind you every four or five steps.  Retrieve the food Caedmon has been throwing out of the cart.  Retrieve the shoes Caedmon has been taking off and throwing out of the cart.  Retrieve the socks Caedmon has been taking off and throwing out of the cart.  Retrieve the hat Caedmon has been... well, you get the idea.

When Caedmon tries to stand up in his seat, force him to sit back down.  Do this again, and again, and again, and again...

Eventually make it to the only check-out line that is open.  Be thankful there's only one customer in front of you, and begin loading your merchandise onto the conveyor belt.  Glance at the front of the cart to be sure Caedmon is still seated every few seconds.  Forgive God for laughing at you, and say thank you to Him for sending the pretty college-age girl and her mother who are standing behind you in line and talking to Caedmon, who is smiling, ducking his head, and coyly looking up at them through his long eyelashes.

As you finish loading your food onto the belt, look back at the seat to check on Caedmon.  Feel a moment's panic when you see that he isn't there- only a moment's, because then your peripheral vision will register the sight of Caedmon on his hands and knees, coasting past you on the belt.

Pluck him off at the same time the checker sees there's a toddler on the conveyor belt and stops it.  Be grateful everyone around you seems to have an intact sense of humor and no one appears to be reaching for their cell phones to call the authorities to come and take your children away from you.  Feel your face turn bright red anyway.

Bag your food as quickly as possible to get the heck out of that place.  Keep forcing Caedmon to sit back down in his seat.

Thank Atticus for being such a perfectly obedient little jewel of a boy.

Collapse into the seat of your car, exhausted.

Now taking applications!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Reader

I am overjoyed with Adelaide's love of reading.

Anymore, it often feels like all she wants to do is read.  She often comes home from school and, needing time to decompress after a long day of having to be social, curls up with a book.  I don't know how many times I've recently had to say, "No books at the supper table," or, "Adelaide, put the book down and brush your teeth/ get dressed/ put the silverware away."  She loves to read, and I love that.

There have, however, been a few drawbacks to this new-found affinity for the written word.

See, I love to read, too.  At our house, you're likely to see a paperback on the table, one on the kitchen counter, another next to the couch.  I like to have to them scattered throughout the house, just in case I have an empty minute or two throughout the day that could possibly be devoted to reading.

A few weeks ago, I realized I may have to change this practice.  For the most part, I read fiction, and one of the genres I enjoy is Mystery.  I don't know how many mysteries you've read, but their plots commonly involve activities about which I don't necessarily want our five-year-old daughter receiving a premature education.

Recently, as I was preparing supper in the kitchen, I heard Adelaide's sharp intake of breath, and she exclaimed, "Mom!  Why would this guy kill his friend?  And what's this word?  It's spelled m-a-c-h-e-t-e."  I turned around, and sure enough, there was our daughter, nose in a murder mystery.

I've since tried to more closely monitor what I leave lying around.  No more Agatha Christie on the couch.

Even undertaking those measures, she still surprises me every few days with the reading material she manages to procure.  Earlier today, for instance, Adelaide caught my attention, then said, "Hey Mom, listen to this: 'Don't throw out those coffee grounds you used to brew your morning cup- apply them directly to your thighs!'"

"Adelaide, what on earth are you reading?"

"Just a magazine.  What's cellulite?"

The scary part is I know it's only going to get worse.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Any Given Winter Evening

7:10 pm

Scene:  After helping Derek put the kids to bed, I have changed into my workout clothes, heavy coat, hat, and mittens, and am currently trudging my way to the gym, four blocks from our house.

My mood is gloomy and sullen.

Kristy's Brain:

I hate exercising.

Why am I doing this?  It's freezing out here.  Actually, it's well below freezing.  I could lose a finger/toe/ear!  Is a workout really worth a lost appendage?

Ouch!  Why don't those people trim that branch?  I swear it goes out of it's way to smack me every time I walk past this house.

My knee hurts.

My back hurts.

I hate this.

I could be at home, curled up on the couch next to Derek, reading a book/ watching old Friends or Frasier episodes/ playing a rousing game of Quiddler, but nooooo, I have to go work out.

It's too cold out.  I can't even breathe; it hurts my lungs.

Exercise is stupid.


8:25 pm

Scene:  I have just finished my workout.  (Imaginary) Animated woodland creatures are frolicking gaily around my ankles as I lope home.

My mood is happy and buoyant.

Kristy's Brain:

I love exercising!

Aaaah!  Feel that crisp, winter air!  This weather is just perfect for running!

I feel fantastic!  

Maybe I should go ahead and run an extra mile tonight!

Maybe I should start exercising twice a day!

I'm so glad I went to the gym!

Exercise is wonderful!


Fortunately, my normal temperament is usually somewhere in between these two extremes, because I don't know which is more annoying, pre- or post-workout me.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

This Sounds Like a Good Plot For One of Those Sappy Hallmark Commercials

On New Year's Eve, I decided it was time to start putting away Christmas decorations.  De-decorating, if you will.

I knew that putting away the tree ornaments would be the most time-consuming task, and so started with that.

Every year, for as long as I can remember, my mother has given each of my sisters and me a Hallmark ornament.  She has continued the tradition with my children, who now have growing collections themselves.  I love unpacking these ornaments every year, carefully hanging them on the tree.

What I don't really love is putting them away.

I don't know how familiar you are with Hallmark packaging.  It seems to go through phases.  My early- to mid-   1980's ornaments fit snugly into two maddening molded plastic pieces that must be lined up precisely to fit into their boxes.  The early- to mid- 1990's brought mostly tissue paper and bubble wrap, and late 90's on seems to be a mix, depending on the fragility of the ornament.

Following my mother's example, I have never ever committed the grievous sin of throwing away any Hallmark boxes or their varied foam, tissue, or plastic pieces designed to protect the ornaments during their eleven month hibernation.  While the molded plastic packaging probably protects it's contents better than other forms, it is a royal pain to deal with.

So, December 31st, nap time, children firmly ensconced in their bedrooms and away from my precious ornaments.  One at a time, I pluck each ornament off the tree, fit them delicately into their wrapping, and slide them gently into their respective boxes.  Over and over and over I perform this process, until over an hour has passed, and I'm down to the last few ornaments.

That's when one of those Hallmark treasures decides to rebel.

Every year there's one.  It doesn't want to go into it's box.  It won't fit nicely into it's molded plastic covering.  It doesn't want to go down for it's eleven month nap.

I was vaguely aware that I was muttering all this aloud, along with something about why this freaking reindeer with it's freaking golf club won't go into it's freaking box.

When I started fantasizing about sitting amongst a pile of shattered glass and tiny plastic antlers, I decided it was time to take a break.

Eventually I got them all put away, even the rogue reindeer.  It's probably best I won't see them again for almost a whole year, as I keep thinking dark thoughts about that stupid athletic mammal, and wondering who will have the gall to disobey me next year.

Only eleven more months until next Christmas!