Sunday, January 30, 2011


Yes, this is "us".

Me and my siblings.  We have fun together (no really, always).

(Click for a bigger version.  Fabulous photography credits go to my brother, Kris, the one in in the blue hat.)

Food Service

Ah, yes, I think I'd like the Ravioli tonight.

Oh, wonderful!  Thank you, it looks delicious.  Ahh...

Here, right here!  I ordered the ravioli... wait... no, it's mine!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Bushel and a Peck and a Barrel and a Heap

I don't think I've ever seen such a pile of cousins in all my life.

We got together with as many of Nathan's siblings and their kids as we possibly could.

It was sheer insanity.

I mean, it was awesome, really, but there was an awful lot of crazy happening in that house.

Getting the kids together for a picture was no easy feat.  There are, at last count, 31 (soon to be 32, any day now) cousins.  This was all but 9 of them.  We pretty much piled them all on a couch and snapped pictures as quickly as we could before half of them dissolved into tears.

 It's not very often that we can even get nearly everyone together at once.

 I think this is the best shot that I got.  There was simply no way to get them all smiling and looking at the camera.  There adorable, bright, unique faces are there and that's about all we can really hope for with such a photo.

My little two are but a drop in the flood, a couple of hooves in the herd, feathers in the flock, goofs in the gaggle.

It's a lot of kids, and I just can't even tell you how fun it was to hug and talk to each one when I haven't seen them in a long time.  I sure wish we could all play together more often!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Coming in for a Landing

We made it! Alive and mostly well, to boot.

The trip went as well as can be expected when you consider early morning flights with a baby and little to no sleep to speak of.

Preventing the baby from shattering the eardrums of fellow passengers was our primary mission, and we were mostly successful. I'm so glad Nathan was there to take turns with me. I've been trying not to think about doing it myself on the way back... But I'm not thinking about it, remember?

I, myself, was probably the most miserable. I had literally not slept the night before (we were at a friend's house for the few night hours before heading to the airport at 3:30, and the baby didn't want to sleep in a strange bed and... ugh.) and I just can't sing the Happy Song without sleep. So-- extra glad for my dear husband's level-headed company.

I'll have you know that I wrote several hysterical and hilarious blog posts in my head as I sat there trying to keep my fish in feather. You'll be thanking me that I forgot it all and didn't get it written down.

Jonah's a pro, however. He's been doing this since he was younger than Evan, and he can cope pretty well now. He didn't have as much sleep as he usually does, but he did fine until the end when he was visibly wilting and had a headache from the pressure changes. But still, I was impressed with this kid.

I've always packed a special backpack for him, full of surprises and things to keep him entertained in the long hours of sitting. I realized this time, though, that I really don't need to pack quite so many things for him anymore. His attention span is a lot longer than it used to be and he doesn't need a pile of little things to go through. I think he would be fine with a book, a couple toy planes, and some music to listen to. Those things can keep him entertained for hours.

So we're here, and recovering and settling in.

There's lots of baby-snuggling happening.

...when he's not sleeping, that is. I don't think he's ever slept so much in his life. He just needs it to recover. It was difficult at first to be okay with a new bed, but once I got him over that, he practically begs to lay in it. When I stand by his bed to lay him down for a nap, he leans out of my arms and smiles when I put him down in it. And then he konks out for 3 hours or so.

But everyone is having a great time with him. He's just so fun right now.

Last night after supper, Dad was telling a rollicking good story (he's good for those).

The more the story went on, in Dad's big booming voice...

...the more concerned Evan became. He didn't howl, but he was a little freaked, and relieved when the story ended.

Did I mention the baby-snuggling?

Yeah. Lots of that.

It sucks that everyone has to tank up on it once a year and we can't just do this all the time.

But I guess we take what we can get.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Fit stuff into bag.

Well, not the kids. They're carry-ons.

Between Here and There

Leaving home is almost too much work. It's amazing. You would think I could just grab some clothes and diapers and go, but no. It just ain't so.

Tomorrow we head to Detroit to stay overnight at a friend's house. Said friend will then take us to the airport in the middle of the night early in the morning for our before-daylight flight.

Let's get these boys to Grandma and Grandpa's house!


So we're going to be about 24 hours between home and my parent's house. Aiee. You might think I'm nuts, and I probably am, but my plan is not to buy any food (other than water in the terminal, and even that grinds my gears). So I need to pack supper, snacks, breakfast, lunch, snacks. That's a lot of food. At least Evan's food is completely portable and hassle-free. Well, I do have to make sure I drink enough water so there's milk for him, which is actually difficult when I'm running so. But I'm so glad I don't have to pack bottles for him! Man, that would stink.


Today and half of tomorrow will be packing, packing, and packing. And making food. Also, cleaning up and making sure the house is ready to be left for a week. I'm so thankful that we have fantastic neighbors who will keep an eye on things for us-- feed and milk our animals and make a fire in the woodstove to keep the house from freezing (hopefully).


Why is it that I need to do 49 loads of laundry in order to pack two suitcases full of clothes? It's a mystery of life.


I've always been prone to anxiety, and you would think it would get better as I go, but it doesn't. The other night I blubbered about a laundry-list of worries to Nathan and he said, "Um. You're really worrying about all those things?" Yes. Yes, I am. I can't help it. I know better, but I just can't help it. I pray about it, and I know that it is completely unproductive and illogical and irrational. But there it is. Anxiety.


I'm distracting myself by manically making lists. I have to-do lists for each day, food lists, packing lists, household lists. Lists, lists, lists. It makes me feel better.


I guess now I can go cross "write blog post" off of today's list and start on the five million other items on it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Brains Not Required

We leave for our big trip in five days.

Much to do.

"Much" being an understatement.

So what are we doing today?

Processing a deer.

*Cue maniacal hysteria laugh track*

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Just Super

Someone gave Jonah a Superman suit.

And I let him wear it.

Mistakes were made.

I'm not the perfect parent.

But see, the thing is, I may as well box up his entire wardrobe now, cuz he'll never wear it again.

I actually made him the cape (before the suit made it's appearance) for Christmas, and he loves it. Kids love capes. It's a fact. And I don't really mind a cape over regular clothes.

But the suit... oooooh, the suit. The "piece de resistance".

It's not like he just decides to "play dressup" and be Superman for an hour.

No, he's pretty much always Superman. He gets up in the morning and he's Superman. He plays Superman all day. He puts on his snowpants, coat, gloves, hat, and boots over his suit, with his cape over the coat (so he can still fly) and he's Superman to the goats and chickens and cats while we do barn chores in the evening. He fights imaginary monsters, he play-punches with his brother (who loves play punching), he flies. He chases me around pushing a package of toilet paper on the floor and telling me it's a submarine blowing up the "mother ship".

Hey, no one said this Superman has to make sense.

Ya know, I think that thing needs to go in the laundry. Again.

Evan's newest superpower is just as funny:

Ha HA! What can I get into here? Heh heh heh...

So. Where's my superpower? I could use a couple. How about "clean up the house really really fast" or "do without sleep indefinitely". Those would be good superpowers. I wanna superpower.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Thinking Ahead

I made ham and some simple sides for supper tonight. Nathan said, "This must be Jonah's kind of meal. He cleaned his plate!"

"Yeah," I said, "he always eats all of meals that are not all mixed together." Seriously, if I make soup, he'll eat every ingredient, including a cup of broth, on it's way to the pot, but won't touch it in the bowl.

Nathan said, only half joking, "Maybe you should just save out some of all the ingredients and give him that instead of his meals."

"Nope." I said. "His wife would not appreciate that."

Jonah made a funny face, so I told him, "Jonah, someday your future wife will thank me."

Thursday, January 6, 2011


I guess Jonah gave Evan a dolly to keep him company in his crib and apparently he needed it today. Kinda disturbing, though, in a way.

Yes, after I snapped this picture I went and covered up my baby so he can have a nice nap.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


I suppose it's true for most people right now, and it's certainly true for me. Back to business. The holidays were fun, but it's time to get back to life (and, uh, plan a plane trip. AAAAHHHHHH!!! Ehem. As I was saying...). HOWEVER, I have not yet taken down my Christmas tree or decorations. Leaving them up is my one homage to the fact that Christmas is not over yet. It's not. Epiphany (January 6) marks the true end of the Christmas season (all that time before Christmas when the stores were playing obnoxious psuedo-Christmas music was actually Advent). I wish I could keep celebrating all through the 12 days, but I just don't really know how. Like it or not, I'm sucked into the cultural traditions as well.

So tomorrow I'll take down the tree and pack away the Christmas stuff. Seems like it'll be here again before I know it. The years are doing that now-- whizzing by.

The one Christmas thing that will remain long after Epiphany is past is my massive sugar addiction.




A nice way to start this new year is with some energy! For the first time in a year and a half, I have a little disposable energy. I've always struggled with low energy and stamina (I seem to have lowish thyroid function) and I'm not sure why I have any now (considering that there's been little improvement on the sleep front). I theorize that it's due to these new minerals that I'm taking. And no, it's definitely not the extra sugar, as sugar usually makes me more tired and I feel better when I avoid it. Whatever the physical source, I thank God for it. It feels really good to be able to get some things done around here.

I've never done New Year's Resolutions, per say, but I am definitely trying to start this year with some better family and household management.

These little guys do seem generally happy and fairly well-adjusted...

...but this Momma has had too many days of just wanting to run away and hide lately.

It isn't pretty.

I don't want to be a mother who yells a lot. I already raise my voice in frustration way too often and I don't like it. I want a cheerful house.

Okay, I'll admit it. I heard the same tones echoing back to me from my 5 year old's mouth and it scared the crap out of me. Ack! He sounds like me! Whoa, horsie! Let's make some changes around here.

So during our break from school and normal activities, I've been pondering.

Two things that really make me want to pluck out my ear drums:

1) Whining about food. Jonah has a tendancy to ask every other minute if it's time for lunch/snack/supper or "I'mhungrymomIwantsomethingtoeeeeeeat" or "butIdon'tliiiiikethaaat!" I know it's actually boredom and general dissatisfaction and primarily an attention strategy. It drives me to drink. I'm working hard to establish good eating habits and banish pickyness. Grazing all day does not fit into that equation.

2) Throwing fits every time I tell him to do something, or tell him anything for that matter. "Take out the compost" results in World War III and you should see what happens when I factually answer some simple question alla "Why is the sky blue?". Again; attention, control, boredom.

I'm also struggling with managing my time, keeping the house in order, and staying cheerful about it all.

Here's the solution(s) I've come to.

Routine, routine, routine.

Also, working together, ALL the time.

Jonah has always been extremely routine-oriented (pretty much all kids are, in my experience, but Jonah seems to need an extra dollop). He needs to know what's coming next (and after that and after that and after...). My first thought was to make a color-coded chart of our daily routine/schedule and post it for him to follow each day. The drawback is that then it's carved in stone as far as Jonah is concerned. I like routine, too, but I need some flexibility. So I wrote down my own list of approximately what I'd like our days to look like. Jonah has not seen this list. It's only for me. But each morning after breakfast, he and I make up a list together. We write down each thing we want/need to do that day (including three meals and one afternoon snack). Bonus points if he does some of the writing. We discuss which are most important and what can give way if we run out of time. We talk about what may be done out of order depending on how the day goes. I, without telling him, try to choose manageable things, and I alternate schoolwork, housework, and fun activities.

And then we set to it. He loves crossing things off the list. He cheerfully tackles each item just for the joy of crossing it off, and it helps that he knows what's coming next. Does this sound too regimented for a 5 year old? I don't really think it is. It's just a tool to make our day go more smoothly. It helps me to be more productive. The morning is generally all work/school (which all runs together, this being kindergarten and all) with the afternoon having more free time and quiet time and work-on-project time. We do each job together and this eliminates complaining, distraction and frustration. My work goes on the list, too, because we do it together, rather than my sending him off so I can get something done. Paradoxically, I get more done.

Jonah is a very mature and capable 5 year old. Because of this, I tend to forget that he is, after all, 5 years old. While he may be physically capable of a lot, he does not have the mental discipline to follow through on things. I really can't expect him to be able to work steadily on his own at this age. Working together completely solves this problem.

And we're both happier about it all. The house is cleaner, there's less whining and disobedience. Meal times come and go, and supper is eaten with little complaint.

And we're having more fun. We have time to sit and read aloud or play a game together because it's on the list. The chores get done quickly and efficiently and they're even fun because we're working and talking together.

Okay, so this system has not been enacted for very long, and maybe it'll all fall apart-- new systems usually go that way. But I'll fix that when we get there. My main goal right now is to develop good and efficient habits, and not only in my children.

So for now-- so far, so good.