Thursday, March 29, 2012

I'm trying to figure out my school plan for next year. You know what I'm realizing? None of you people know what you're doing, either. We're all winging it. That brings me great comfort and also fills me with terror. How in the world did we get kid licenses?

So anyways. I have all these books about homeschooling, because I buy books about whatever I'm interested in, usually for about 1 cent plus shipping on Amazon, because that's amazing. I have Dummies' guides to sewing, adoption, writing a novel, proofreading, homeschooling, etc. I also have several extensive books about organizing and cleaning, but I can't find them in the mess.

This year was my first official year and I bought a total curriculum, which my Idiot's Essential Guide to Not Screwing Up Your Kids calls a "rookie move". You will probably spend too much your first year, they said. Homeschooling can be very inexpensive, they said. I have a genius I can't screw up, I said. Please, someone take my money, I said. And they did, but it was the wrong approach for us, I think.

Next year I'm thinking about doing it this way. First, I'm going to think about what I want them to learn by the end of the school year. I'm going to devise various ways to get that information into them, via the occasional textbook, and many library books, online programs and apps and videos, and then take those springboards and do experiments and field trips and further research to learn more. I thought this was called unschooling, but that made a lot of people regurgitate their lungs onto my facebook, so I found a different term that maybe they'll like better: eclectic schooling. Eclectic, that's me. Also eccentric, and maybe slightly egocentric.

I have a whole internal philosophy about teaching and learning and kids, and I think I'm on to something, but my kids are little. So I will wait until they are big and smart and rich, and then I will write a book about it. OR I will write a book about how I did it all wrong. But I think the first one.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

It's that time of year again, when my kitchen is invaded by ants, my basement grows RoboSpiders of Fear and Terror, and I am forced outdoors by people who say they like me. It's spring, darnit. Woopty-doo.

I mean, I'm no Communist. I enjoy seeing the trees bloom as much as the next guy, provided that I am in a climate-controlled environment and all God's non-human creatures are not able to reach me. But my mommy pals, they're all like, HEY! Let's go outside! In the sun with the bugs! Let's get some mud on our shoes! I would just think my friends are unstable people, except that various groups of friends in multiple locations around the continent are expressing similar desires. (It is possible that I only make insane friends, and thus my hypothesis is totally jacked.)

Yesterday I went to an arboretum. If that sounds like crazy fun to you, then you people are everywhere. But my buddies were going, and it sounded better than breaking up kindergarten dogpiles and spraying excessive amounts of Febreze around my house to no avail.

It took about 4 hours to get in the car, and then we met up with the other moms and put strollers and carseats here and there. It was a 2 car caravan, but it was complicated. Everybody else knows their way around, but I use my GPS to find my bathroom, so I was relying on Pierce (you haven't named your GPS?) and we were sending Heytells back and forth, with the type A's (who I LOVE) in the front car trying to make a plan, and the more like type B's, if that's a thing, in my van, being all like, you guys pick something, I don't care. And I have this inner sense that they are rolling their eyes up there. Eventually, we go to ChickFilA, where I trade my best kidney for a box of chicken strips and then we're off to The Magical Garden of Trees and Wonder.

I had fun, all right? Because of the people. But it wasn't without cost. I got a sunburn, and I have a laceration on my leg from accidentally kicking myself with my rhinestone flip-flops, and Tristan poured a Coke on his head, which is really sad, but not for the reason you might think.

And it was pretty, I guess, what with the trees and the flowers and whatnot. If I had that for a desktop, now that would be something.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Having all kinds of thoughts about homeschooling lately. Mostly, "Oh mannnn... I am doing this wrong." But then I go look up what exactly a 5 and 6 year are supposed to know, and then I'm all like, "Hammock time!" I kid. But they are fine. And smart. So I think maybe I'm doing it right.

This week we had the chance to go to Science City, (thanks for sharing your pass, Eunice!) which is not a real city, much to Brynn's disappointment, but a kid's museum of sorts with science-y things. It was very, very cool. I'd like to spend a week in there, if they had a concession stand with funnel cakes and sausage-on-a-stick. On second thought, I would probably stay anywhere with that criteria. Man. If I ever get my life made into a movie and get fabulously wealthy, I'm going to get a carnival truck and keep it in my driveway, and pay some carnies to keep the snacks coming. Then I imagine I will get enormously fat and die of heart disease, and my children will start a foundation to end fried food, and all the commenters on Yahoo will call them terrible names. Maybe I'll just stay broke and eat apples.

The thing I was saying was the Science City thing, that was fun. I'm always trying to get my kids to learn stuff on accident, and it works a lot of the time. Every now and then, I'll strike out. "Look!" I'll say, "A new book! About the invention of the SEWER! Is this great or what?" And I get a half-hearted response, because he was really hoping for some Dilbert. That boy and his corporate comics... But usually I can find a documentary or an educational book and they like it, and learn stuff to shame me with in the car. "Hey mom," they'll say, "Did you know that ___ can ___?" and I have to be all like, "Uh, no. No I didn't." So this place was great for that, learning while having fun. 

On the way out of Science City, Toby decided that he was now smarter than me. "All brains are good," he says, "but mine is extra good." I had to try to set him straight, although I suspect he's just biding his time until he's "grown-up smart" and has me beat. By then, I'll probably be fine with it. I'll tell him it was all because of my excellent parenting, and that he should buy me my own personal taco truck for the driveway. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Just cross-posting a link to my Bound4Life post from today, for anyone who is not on my other social networks. In response to the news story about the couple who sued (and won) a "wrongful birth" suit and their daughter with Down's Syndrome.  News Flash: Life isn't fair or easy

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Man of God has turned over a new leaf recently and started rising before the dawn, for personal discipline and spiritual growth or something, I don't know because I was asleep. The problem is, a herd of buffalo wearing tap shoes and cowbells stampeding in front of an army of war-whooping Indians with trumpets would be quieter than him if they galloped through my bedroom every morning. One other time that we were on this leaf, I wrote about it... To the Church of Richy

Every now and then I think we need a stern sister wife, or a principal or something, somebody who would enforce the rules... because we stink at it. I remember back in high school, trying to be accountability partners. Let me say this, high-schooler. Your boyfriend or girlfriend is a LOUSY accountability partner, that's why you picked them. And I'm wise to you. 

We make these plans, and then we desert them. Usually one of us is still on the Life Improvement Train, and that spouse looks scornfully at the one falling by the wayside, with their Sin Oreos and their Hulu. The "offending spouse" looks back with pity, "I remember when I was living by the law," we answer. "Such bondage!"

"You planning on using that treadmill?" he'll ask. "You call that fasting?" I say. 

And I was raised with an understanding that people who break fasts are on a greased slide to hell, so I am a little more wary about making commitments. He, on the other hand, has been "forgiven much" if you catch my drift, and so willingly and readily throws himself into commitments like fasts or daily schedules and breaks them and restarts them with equal abandon. I'm not sure which one of us is worse off. 

We have improved. I'm not sure if it's because we're getting older and more mature by default, or that whole Years of Tragedy thing we did, or if our small efforts have grown us, somehow. I have high hopes that we will be lean mean fighting machines by 90. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

I wouldn't say I'm overburdened with realism. Despite having faced many hard realities, I still live fairly comfortably in a fairyland where my children will never grow up and move away, and I believe that a day at the zoo with 4 children will be super, super fun. Brother will love sister and sister brother, and husband and wife will agree on what animals to see and how long the day should last, and the sun will not beat mercilessly on our fair, freckled shoulders.

It never goes that way. Husband is turned against wife and wife against husband, because some people are morning people who would like to leave the house early and other people are unclear on what early means, after 15 years. And the children, they won't eat because they're too excited, which means they will be insane in 2 hours, so threats are made, and cereal consumed under duress.

Earnest discussion happens in the front seat of the car, about when business calls should and should not be taken, and some fairly spicy dialogue about what it means to own your own business and why some people should pipe down about when business happens. We arrive, and park at the wrong lot and have to hike a bit and then wait in line for our season passes. "When are we gonna see some ANIMALS?" the children ask every 35 seconds.

Once we start seeing animals, spirits are high. Everything is exciting, every animal is captivating. The thing is, if you spend a half-hour looking at a warthog, you will never see the lions, which we all know is the point. So the MOG is keeping a pretty steady pace, and I am dragging people by the arms, and they are starting to get tired and hungry. It has been one half-hour. We sit and have some  peanut butter sandwiches and grapes, although the MOG is looking longingly at the 4 million dollar hot dogs.

We keep seeing animals, and it starts getting hotter, and we have a long way to go. We make an executive decision to skip a lot of Africa. By the end, everyone is worn out.

There's always something. Someone falls down, or gets too tired, or it's a little hot or a little cold. It's never perfect. But I'm realizing that perfect doesn't have to look perfect. When they are grown, they will look back and remember sitting on that bench eating sandwiches, getting scared by the squirrel monkey. The sunburn will fade and they will probably forget that the polar bear has psychological issues. They'll remember what they see in the photo, us together. So that's perfect, or close enough.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I'm not a competitive person. I've told you this. Some people I'm married to, on the other hand, are competitive and would metaphorically stab their own father-in-law (R.I.P) in the back to gain an advantage in Monopoly. (Side note: Richy did not kill my father; he died of natural causes about 12 years ago. Still, I can't rule out that game of Monopoly, 5 years before he died, as a factor) But me, not so much. Because I really like people. And I like people to like me. And when you are destroying someone's battleship or when your hippo is eating all the marbles, tensions rise and friendships fall.

So I avoid competition, for the good of mankind. You're welcome. I also don't ride roller coasters or camp. One time the MOG and I were at a water park, and, despite being warned, he was devastated to find that I don't ride things that are fast or high or enclosed. Which meant "HELLO Lazy River" to me and "Goodbye Happiness" to him. But I digress.

In April, I will be going to an event called The Esther Call. If you're any kind of faithful blog stalker, you know about our involvement with TheCall movement. This is another Call, but specifically for women, which I are one. I'm pretty excited about it, and not just because I will be traveling without the children that I love. So I entered this contest to win a free hotel stay while I'm in Dallas, because I'M NOT MADE OF MONEY, TOBY... uh, sorry. I entered a contest, along with my good pal Brooke and a couple of our many, many children. And I want you, my bloggerati, to go and vote for our video and help us win. I will repay you by live-blogging our hijinks spiritual journeys as we travel and participate in the ministry.

just a picture of our vid- not the link :)
Here's what you do. Go to this page, find our video (it has me, Brooke and Brynn in the thumbnail) and click "like" on it. That's it. By the way, our video is super cute, because our daughters are AWESOME.  Here's another link, if you missed that one a couple of sentences back. And tell your friends!

Monday, March 12, 2012

I bet guys don't feel this way. Actually, I bet there are some guys who feel this way, but not most. And I bet there are many women who don't feel this way. Now that I've shattered all those stereotypes, I'll tell you what I'm talking about. Hair, that's what. And specifically, when your hair is wrong, your life is wrong. So.

I'm not vain, really. I barely even look in the mirror most days. But when I do, I'm all like "Yikes!" because things are changing as I scroll through my thirties here, and my hair, it is so lame. Why can't it just stay good when it's good? Once a year or so, I spend real money to have my good pal cut it and I love it and take profile pictures and then it just grows, like a schmuck. But what about when I go to "Great" Clips and get it cut like a schmuck to start with? Does it grow then? No, it doesn't. It just sits around snarfing Doritos and collecting unemployment. 

And I get crazy, see? I look at myself in the mirror and I'm all like, "Uuuugh," because the color's all wrong or I look like Lady Elaine Fairchild or whatever and so I go find my husband and I say, "Look at this! Look how terrible my hair is, how frumpy and lame!" and he's always super comforting like, "Well, really, it's your face that's the problem, because you look depressed," or something like that and I say, "My face is depressed because of my hair.

The tension builds between me and my hair. I think hateful thoughts in an upward fashion, and I collect pictures of gorgeous women with thick wavy hair (mine is thin and straight-ish) and I look at those pictures and I look at myself and then I snap and go buy some random hair color and go get a cheap haircut and then I'm like, "Okay, so that's not so bad. If I put a barrette... or I just brush it over here, or I kiss a frog in a cemetery at midnight..." 

So vain. With lame, lame hair. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I met Richy at the door yesterday. "Let's go get some burgers," I said. What I meant was, let's lock all of the children down with seat belts and I will sit in the front row and listen to music while they ask AS LOUDLY AS POSSIBLE HOW DOES GOD GET THE BABY OUT OF THE MOM, but I won't answer, because I will be in the front, listening to music.

We went to McDonald's, because our entire family can eat for $10 there, unless somebody gets crazy. While I was tossing chicken bites to and fro, Toby noticed the election results coming in. Look, I didn't make him freakishly smart. I mean, genetics plays a part, and I do answer a lot of his questions. (God helps the doctors get the baby out. Hey, is that a SQUIRREL?) But mostly, he is a genius without any help, so I feel liberty to brag without shame. So anyway, he is loudly cheering every state that our guy won, and expressing some real concern about how many states the other guy was carrying, and the senior citizens were staring, because a) he is SO LOUD and b) he's an unrepentant social conservative. 

And then Brynn says, "Some day, I will be President. All of you will cheer for ME, and the people will vote for me." 

And I was like, YES. I mean, I totally dig being a housewife, and my kids are the best. But if my baby wants to be Prez, that sounds great to me. I got a little excited. 

"Of course you can," I told her. "I would definitely vote for you. And you know what you'd have? A big bus with your face on it, and it would say BRYNN CLARK FOR PRESIDENT, and you'd drive all around the country and meet people, and tell them to vote for you. And you'd be the boss of America, and you could help our country." 

Brynn was confident. "Everyone would vote for me." 

"What would you do," I asked, "once you were President?" 

Toby jumped in. "I'd make all apps ad-free," he said, which is solid logic, for the gamer. 

"Well," says Brynn. " I would work at McDonald's." 

I tried to bring it back. "First, right? When you are a teenager, you'd work at McDonald's, and then you'd be President." 

"No," she says. "I changed my mind. I want to work here."

And that was it. A promising political career cut tragically short. Ah well. At least we'll get an employee discount. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Saturday night, I say, "We ARE going to church tomorrow." It is a statement of faith, and also lunacy. 

I wake up at 7:42, because I have somewhere to be in 3 hours, and my brain always thinks hours starting with 6 or 7 are good starting times. So. Very soon, small people have heard my breathing change from across the hall, or they got a bat-signal or something, and so they figured my life would be vastly improved by someone somersaulting on my bladder. I get up. The Man Of God sleeps peacefully, because it's his morning to sleep in, and besides, we don't have to be anywhere for 3 hours. I throw back one little comment as I leave the room with my horde of miniature humans, something really submissive and sweet, like, "Must be nice..." or something. 

I apply cereal and milk to the general population and then fall up the stairs to look for clean clothes, then two flights down, to the basement Dungeon of Terror, for other clean clothes. I start assembling outfits on the couch. They have finished their cereal and are now running in circles, screeching and laughing, flinging soggy Marshmallow Mateys. I start capturing one and then another, forcing them to have their diapers changed while the other ones jump gleefully over the heads of their fallen comrades. 

It would be so much easier if I could just dress them the night before, but kids are disgusting. The only way to ensure a clean outfit is to drive them around nekkid and then dress them IN their Sunday School classes. Birthday suits at church are frowned on, though. Puritans.

Once I have assembled 4 outfits in a row, I know it is time to find shoes. I have been fasting and praying in preparation for this moment. I find 4,325 shoes. Single ones. I find 10 matching pairs of shoes that don't fit any of the children that live in my home. In my head, I am saying cuss words, but only God and the devil know. 

The MOG stumbles by, sweeping his hands out blindly for the coffeepot. I say something supportive and godly, like, "Nice of you to join us..." He offers his support, right after he does 5 other things and drinks his coffee and visits the 3rd heavens. "We don't have to be there for an HOUR, anyway," he says. God and the devil, they know. 

I return to my couch to find all of the clothes have been ransacked, offered to Bacchus in hedonistic rituals. Also, someone smells funny and someone else has lost their diaper. 

Because I am a good, Christian, churchgoing woman, I only threaten violence and rivers of blood, and then I dress and assist-dress all of my young, and put their shoes on, while they cry out to the earth to swallow them up. It is finished. 

And then, suddenly, there he is. Helpful, attentive. Ready to serve. I say some other mature things, which he responds to with MORE maturity, and we TALK all the way to church, about our relationship, and the things that make marriage such a FUN RIDE. 
In the parking lot, I say some more things to help our love grow, and he doesn't respond, because we've done enough relationship-building. We check 3/4 of the children into class and meet at the front row. And then, somehow, we're both laughing. 

Church. They who endure to the beginning will be saved. 
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