"How To Wake Up Quickly" Or "The Joys Of Potty Training"

May 31, 2010 by Rieshy
This post is subtitled, "Possibly TMI".

This post is sub-subtitled, "Deciphering the Acronyms: Mama and Papa".

Saturday morning my husband and I were sitting in our living room in a hazy morning fog, pretending to be awake.  Our 2 yo and 4 yo were playing with legos, cars, and, well... underwear.  

Only, in our haze we were not noticing the underwear component of the play.

Suddenly, our 2 yo shouted, "Uh, oh, I need to go poop!" As he waddled toward me my brain shifted to, "Mama Acutely and Monumentally Awake".  

When our son reached his hand into the back of his underwear my husband was spurred off the sofa into, "Papa Airborne Predicament Alarm".

We were too late, too sleepy, and possibly too grossed out to reach our son before he pulled out of his underwear...

A giant,


Toy pickup truck.

Our son thought it immensely hilarious.

By the way, an adrenaline rush at 6:30 a.m. is as energizing as a morning cup of coffee.

The Interview

May 30, 2010 by Rieshy

Have you ever wondered what teenagers, living in small towns, do for fun?  

Make my day... watch the short my son and his girlfriend created with the help of a bunch of their friends, all who were willing to risk life and limb and deer-tick attacks.

The Interview... from Luke Tipton on Vimeo.
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May's Last Feel Good Friday

May 28, 2010 by Rieshy

I'm so, so glad that The Girl Next Door Grows Up is back with her Feel Good Friday.  This has been a long week, feeling good on Friday sounds like an excellent idea.

Here goes 5 memories from this week:

At long last I solved the mystery of why it takes so long for an 8 year old boy to sweep.  It's all about balance.  
"Look Ma, no hands." 

Sand, part one.  I just loved this photograph.

Sand, part two.  Talk about intensity.  This boy is one-with-the-truck.

Sand, part three.  Both boys could live in this truck-stocked park forever.

I did not photograph "Sand, part four ."  Sand part four was when I realized that the surprise birthday party, where my 14 year old daughter was supposed to be surprised, was in fact at a different park.  

I had to scoop up the above happy boys to take them to the correct-surprise-party-park.  Let's just say they were not happy campers and did not shift gears smoothly, especially since my actions appeared arbitrary and grossly unfair.  

It probably looked like I was abducting them.

We did make it to the right venue where my daughter was surprised.    
I got to sit in the park on a gorgeous day,
 and chat with good friends, 
and eat chocolate cake, 
and watch my daughter's eyes sparkle.  

Hey, my 5th "feel good" is comprised of 5 feel-good components.  I guess it was an exponentially better week than I thought.

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Felled Trees

May 27, 2010 by Rieshy

When our neighbor's tree fell, luckily (according to my boys) some fell onto our property.

Who needs playground equipment?

Who needs a balance beam?

Who is so cute I want to eat him all up?

If you wonder if I'm the kind of mom who lets her children play outside in jammies, flip flops, cowboy boots, and winter hats....  No, never.  
I rented these children.

Rain and Wind

by Rieshy
Last night on our way to church it was pouring down rain.  Pouring, as in how a faucet pours.  We laughed because the sky above was blue and beautiful.  I looked for the cartoon bubble that should have been attached to the van.  It would have made the rain make sense.

When we got home we discovered our apple tree had been completely uprooted and one of our neighbor's huge Bradford Pear trees had snapped in half.  Their tree clobbered their fence and clobbered another tree.  Now, when I sit at my computer desk and look out the window I can no longer pretend I live in the woods.

Now, when my neighbors go swimming or want to sit on their deck for a quiet moment they will be reminded that their neighbors have 7 children.  Who are those crazy people?

Rain. Wind. Sigh.

Out of no-where and returned to no-where.

We did stand the apple tree back up last night.  It looks happy this morning.  It's loaded with apples; hopefully they will ripen.

I'm sure there is some deep meaning or parable in this post, just waiting to get out.  Unfortunately, I ran out of coffee and am drinking chamomile tea this morning.

Peter Rabbit was correct, chamomile tea is neither tasty nor inspiring.  It is, in fact, rather slimy and has made me sleepier rather than wakier.


How dost my 15 year old dear daughter know that I loveth her?
She is still living- and living unscathed- after injudiciously commenting that I drink too much coffee.
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May 25th Daybook

May 25, 2010 by Rieshy
FOR TODAY as part of The Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window... I can actually see the humidity; another hot and sticky day brewing.

I am thinking... That it is easy to handle hypothetical stress, not so easy to handle actual stress.

I am thankful for... the circle of friends my children have.  Good kids, all different.

From the learning rooms... It seems my curriculum angst/search is over.  I'm actually wishing the new school year would start sooner.  Enthusiasm is a wonderful thing to feel again.

From the kitchen...
comes the growl of my beloved mechanical servant, a.k.a. the dishwasher.

I am creating... a schedule for the summer.

I am going...
to the park today to doubtlessly become one with the humidity.  If you see a frizzy gray headed lady accompanied by a bunch of teen-aged girls and a melting chocolate cake- that will be me.  Despite the humidity, I'll be having fun.

I am reading... Nothing right now.  How odd. I must remedy that.

I am hoping... that my son and his girlfriend finish editing their film in time for the History Channel contest.  The deadline is Friday, they've been working sooo hard but the crunch is on.

I am hearing...
my 11 yo daughter play with her little brothers.  Sweet sounds.

Around the house... things are tidy.  I'm finally catching up after my 4 year old's hospital stay last month.

One of my favorite things...  
is seeing how long my 2 year old's son's legs look now that he is wearing underwear.  I want to pat his bottom every time he walks by.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Paperwork.

Here is my "picture for thought"  

The spirit of paperwork and business emails as captured by my 18 year old son.

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A Dull Roar and A Hardened Heart

May 24, 2010 by Rieshy
So, is there a blog meme for gnashing of teeth?  Because that dull roar of teeth-gnashing and moaning you may have heard while you were sipping your morning coffee was coming from my house.

This was the first day of summer for my family.  All of the children are back from vacation.  This morning I hit them squarely between the eyes with Real Life and our family's summer schedule.

They don't like Real Life very much, thus the gnashing.  I'm not sure whether it was their teeth or mine making the most noise.

Gnashing will not prevail, I will be victorious.  My victory will earn me a summer free from bored and bickering children... eventually.  It will even produce productive, responsible adults.... eventually.

More immediately, it means I need a hardened-heart, a cheerful demeanor, and selective hearing.

A little coffee and I'm good to go.


In unrelated but ecstatic news: my house is now larger by 2 square feet.  The square footage that had been claimed by the diaper-changing station is now just carpet, upon which I did a victory dance.

Why?  Because after 7 children, finally all members of my household wear underwear!!!!!  

A New Heart

May 20, 2010 by Rieshy
In the long standing tradition of pessimists everywhere I adore imagining worst-case scenarios.  Added to Traditional Pessimism is my tendency to over-think everything.  It's easy to see how Hope is not one of my inherent strengths.

Sooooo, how to hope and/or pray for healing with honesty?

No idea.

Related in a roundabout fashion is my curriculum search for the fall.  I've been home schooling for over 10 years now.  I'm a bit bored/burned-out with what I've been doing.  My newest crop of elementary aged kids have different learning styles than my oldest three.  Bummer.  Adding to my schooling malaise is the scheduling difficulties that having a chronically (and unpredictably) ill 4 year old has imposed.

This week, besides plucking my 2 yo off the ceiling or chatting with him while he sits on the potty, I've been researching curriculum online.  I've become a tad possessed about it actually.

I've also been overwhelmed and blessed by the sudden onset of glowing health in the looks and behavior of my 4 yo.    He spent the last weekend of April in the hospital after a long Winter and Spring of a slow and disheartening fade.  Yet suddenly I can take him to the park and he is able to play without triggering a metabolic crash.  In fact, at the park Monday, he joined a pick-up game of capture-the-flag as if it were something he's done a million times.

Hope. Hope can be scary for pessimists.  It hurts to hope and then be wrong. Buuut... hope is not my goal.  Hope is but a part of something larger, something that, "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

Back to my curriculum search.  I've realized I want to buy something that's been in short supply this year; but what I want is not commercially available.  I want to buy a boxed set of enthusiasm un-sapped by anxiety and the joy of learning untainted by impatience.  Once again I've been aiming at the subset.

Instead of chasing the parts of life I need to aim for the whole, love.  Love, as in God.

How?  I don't know, but I've been humming a song based on Psalm 51:10, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, Let me be like thee in all thy ways."

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1990's Again

May 18, 2010 by Rieshy
As I may have mentioned, just once, or possibly fifty-five times, my older children are away this week.

Soooo, I've been posing.  Posing as a young mom of toddlers.  Posing as a mamma whose biggest worry is what brand of underwear to buy that can fit both the 2 and the 4 year old.

I'm reliving my Young Momdom.  I didn't enjoy it as much as I should have the first time around.

The first time around I didn't have a clue.  I mean I really, really didn't have a clue.  The fact that babies drooled was a surprise to me with my first child.  When my two oldest children were 4 and 2 years old I did actually Worry about what brand of underwear to buy.

This week my 4 yo is the big boy.  My 2 yo is wearing underwear.  Both boys are glowing with health.  I get to talk about names of body parts and read 3 million story books.  I get to walk holding each boy's still chubby hands as we run errands.  Though I am somewhat puzzled as to why both my boys are each wearing one weight-lifting glove...

 Next week?  That's cheating.   I'm going to try to only unwrap one present at a time.  Actually I'm about to go clean up a potty accident.

Tuesday's Unwrapped is a great place to visit.  Someday, I hope to always live unwrapping just one day at a time.

May 18th Daybook

by Rieshy

FOR TODAY as part of The Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window... is a gray sky and birds doing their nervous pre-rain flittering from quiet tree to quiet tree.  It reminds me of junior high girls getting into position before an event begins.

I am thinking... that my husband works hard.

I am thankful for... coffee.

From the learning rooms... comes the sound of frantic catalog searching for ideas for next year's course of study.  Surely I can find some curriculum that is absolutely free, amazingly fun, and completely self-teaching. In addition I'd like a curriculum to be able to simultaneously clean my bathrooms whilst turning my children into overachieving geniuses.  Know of anything?

From the kitchen... comes the sound and smell of nothing.  With 4 less children to cook for this week I've been barely cooking.  So far no one's complained, especially since I bought hummus dip.

I am creating... I'm not, instead I'm day dreaming and starting too many projects.  

I am going...
to get my van registered before our rabid codes inspector comes back.  7 days out of registration and I get a letter!  This is the second time our registration has expired while our son was in the hospital.  Last time I had to pay $150.  Trying not to be bitter.... not very successfully.

I am reading...

I am hoping... that my children are having fun and being helpful/delightful to their grandparents.

I am hearing... the morning commute begin.

Around the house... is a lot less paper.  I stayed up until 1:00 a.m. filing and tossing.

One of my favorite things... chocolate.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
I plan to continue enjoying being with just my littlest two children.

Here is my "picture for thought" ... 

He never did figure out how I knew he had been playing in my purse.

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The Rhyme of Inflamed Palindromes

May 17, 2010 by Rieshy

Winkum Blinkum Pinkum
Washing hands, chapped hands, lysol spray.
Touching banns,
tissues at the ready hands.

Winkum Blinkum Pinkum
Goobery face, rubby chubby fists.
Itchy eye-tus,
Baby's got conjunctivitus.

Do Birkenstocks Go With Cowboy Hats?

May 14, 2010 by Rieshy
My Dad came through town the day after my parents-in-law were here.  He's kind of like a rock star to my Littles.  He drives a shiny red pickup, wears a cowboy hat and boots, and he generally has hunting equipment with him.  Pretty exciting stuff.

One of my young sons asked me if my Poppa was a policeman.  "No," I answered.

"Is he a soldier?" was the next question.


Then there was a long pause and my son looked a little worried for a moment before he asked in a timid voice, "Is he a bad guy?"

That's when I realized that in our suburban and yuppy-ish environment we didn't have enough categories.  My son didn't have a name for, "responsible retired professor with a family farm in Texas who occasionally has to kill rabid or sick or hurt animals out where there are no city services".  Nor did my son have a category for, "responsible hunter who hunts for the table".

I guess my social study's Scope and Sequence failed us.  That's okay, the fail made for all sorts of fun jokes about Poppa and possible new career paths.

In answer to this post's title: if you are raised on a farm in West Texas but spend your adult life teaching graduate school on the East Coast then Birkenstocks can definitely go with your cowboy hat- but only if you are strolling with  your grandchildren.  They will, of course, have license to tease you.

This is my mishmash of a recent memory for The Girl Next Door Grows Up's Feel Good Friday.  My dad visiting is always a reason to feel good.

The Life of Riley

May 13, 2010 by Rieshy
With 4 children away on a trip with their grandparents life should be more relaxing, right?

Are you kidding?

I'm home minus 4 extra pairs of eyes.  If you knew my 2 1/2 year old you would understand how he must be kept under constant surveillance.

Mr. Destructo Man would be my 2 1/2 yo's nickname if I wasn't worried he'd endeavor even harder to live up to such a name.  Besides general world domination, I think his future is in structural engineering; he seems obsessed with discovering the breaking point of everything he touches.  I won't even mention his proclivity for climbing.

I'm also home minus 4 extra story book readers and 4 extra laps.  However, on the upside:

  1. I am home minus 4 voices complaining about the 2 yo's potty-training wardrobe-  bare bottoms rule.  
  2. It's much easier to sneak brownies for breakfast.
  3. My toddlers go to bed at 8:00 p.m.
  4. No one is drinking my coffee.
  5. No one is complaining about the 2 1/2 yo's potty-training wardrobe.  (Yes, I know I already listed this, but the list isn't weighted so this entry needed to be repeated at least 10 times.)
By the way, my 4 yo tried to stow away in his grandparents car.  He dressed with great deliberation to achieve success.  Evidently cowboy boots, bomber jacket, sunglasses, and a black balaclava were the keys to staying undetected, in 85 degree weather.... on a trip to Texas.

Now back to potty training...  
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May 12, 2010 by Rieshy
What does love looks like?

A Hitch-N-Haul?

 Being self-employed is actually code for "no vacation".  Our last family get-away was over 6 years ago.

However, my parents-in-law have been taking our children on a 2 week adventure/vacation, each year, for the last 13 years.  Over the years they've taken our children to New York, Washington D.C, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Williamsburg, The Smokey Mountains... pretty much any American History hot-spot has been hit, or is planned to be hit.  That's a lot of driving... and we have a lot of children.

It's become a rite of passage in our family.  I've said at one time or another to each of the children, "One day you too, will be old enough to go on The Trip."

 Since our 6th child's medical condition will not allow him to travel as easily as his older siblings my parent's-in-law have already started discussing how to travel and camp and have gentle adventures, all within driving distance of quality children's E.Rs.  My 6th child can't wait to be old enough.

 That's Love,  Hitch-N-Haul style.

My Tuesdays Unwrapped was a Tuesday packing suitcases!
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May 11th Daybook

May 11, 2010 by Rieshy
FOR TODAY as part of  The Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window...
Is a noticeable absence of morning birds.  We have rain clouds and the trees, green and heavy, are swaying menacingly.

I am thinking...
that I need to help the kids pack for their trip.

I am thankful for...
visiting grandparents who have come to take children on a 2 week trip.

From the learning rooms...
is the sound of  vacation.

From the kitchen...
comes the smell of sausage kolaches- a company breakfast.

I am creating...
I picked out black yarn for a lace scarf- alpaca and silk. Shimmering-soft loveliness.

I am going...
out to eat tonight with to celebrate multiple family birthdays.  It will be the first time that our family party has increased to include a "friend" of the opposite sex.

I am reading...
nothing.  I've been too busy blowing my nose this past week.  I'm so glad I feel good this week!

I am hoping...
that the children don't wear out their grandparents.

I am hearing...
my 4 yo explain a complicated movie plot to his barely awake grandmother.

Around the house...
laundry, in all it's glorious stages. 

A few plans for the rest of the week:
spending time with just my toddlers.

Here is my "picture for thought" ...  A damaged rose bush branch makes for a pretty arrangement.

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Pomp and Circumstance

May 9, 2010 by Rieshy

For every solemn milestone in life, one needs a goofy acting younger brother to keep things real.

Sarcastic-tongued but loving teen-aged sisters are also an important humility stabilizer.

For that matter, having all your siblings along for the ride keeps you grounded, and busy.

Best of all, is opening your diploma and discovering that the school administrator played a trick and placed a fake diploma over the real one. You have to love a school with a sense of fun.

Lukey Pookie Winky Dinks Tipton indeed.
Watch your mom laugh... hard, and inelegantly.  

Wait a minute, I was wearing 3 inch heels.  When did you grow up, and how on earth did you graduate from high school already? 

During your speech my mind wandered...

 to when you were only one year old and I enjoyed hearing you giggle...

A Feel Good Friday In Which Publix Figures Prominently

May 7, 2010 by Rieshy
For The Girl Next Door's Feel Good Friday I'm listing 5 thing that made me feel good this week.

1. So what, you may ask, is feel-good about Publix or grocery shopping?  I'll tell you:  I'm sick.  I've been sick all week.  A horrible, socially unacceptable cough is the most enjoyable aspect of the crud I have.  Had to run to the grocery store yesterday anyway because, well, because that's what moms do.

I took 6 of my children with me to Publix.  Why they wanted to go I have no idea.  Too hot outside to play I guess.  I was like a kite in the grocery store; the little ones and the cart and I comprised the kite body,  the rest of the children fanning out behind me were the kite ribbons, fluttering along in my wake.

With a fuzzy brain I filled the cart and went through the checkout.  Got to the end, you know, the part when they generally want payment in exchange for their merchandise.  Except I couldn't find my wallet.

I searched my diaper bag a dozen times as the line behind grew longer and longer.  I was asking (begging) the cashier to put my cart to the side so I could run home for my wallet when the Publix manager and several employees approached me.

Uh, oh. I thought.

"Ma-am,  no we won't put your cart aside.  Just go on home with the groceries.  You can pay at the customer service window next time you come, we'll have the receipt waiting."  I must have looked dumbfounded, because she went on to explain, "After all, you are here so often that you ought to have your own time-card."

My own time-card?  Now that's funny.

So Publix: I love you and I promise to not cheat on you.... unless Kroger has a really, really, good sale.

2.  By the time I got home from Publix my 18  yo son was home.  I flopped onto the sofa asked him to take my card, drive to Publix, and pay for the groceries.  He did, with a minimum of questions.

As my son walked back in the house the Publix Manager called to say that they had found my I.D.,  which had dropped out of my diaper bag during my earlier frantic search.  I hung up and asked my son to drive back to Publix for a second time.

The feel-good part is that he did, and he did so cheerfully.  I love my son!

3. Speaking of my 18 yo son, he graduates from high school on Saturday.  It's a mind boggling happy/sad/astounded feeling. Beware- soppy pictures of him to be posted sometime soon.

4. My 3 teens do the dinner dishes each night.  Over time they have developed a system of dividing the work into three jobs.  The evening's job goes to the person who calls it first as soon as dinner is over.  One of the job titles is "counters", one is "loading", and the last job title is, "awkwardly standing by the dishwasher while I watch everyone do the real work".

Guess which job title gets shouted first every evening?

5. Even though I have been a complete cranky, horribly witchy, coughing, nose-blowing and wretched/retching woman this week.  My husband is sweet to me.

Carnivorous Coniferous

May 6, 2010 by Rieshy
Higglety Pigglety lop,
my White Pine has lost it's top.

 My son's all a scutter,
birds leave in a flutter.

Higglety Piggelty lop,
I believe this tree can now talk.

Either that,
or my boy's the snack.
Higglety Pigglety, m-mm... smack.
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Tactile Bliss

May 5, 2010 by Rieshy

Full body bliss, tactile experience,

I only intervened to convince, 
to shout,

"You must not lick the down-spout!"

My first foray into Wordless Wednesday, a few words tagged along anyway.
Also, an old favorite- the 30 Minute Challenge at Steadymom.


"Now", is so easy for toddlers and so hard for adults.  The pictures above are of full-fledged nowness.

It's very disorienting to think about that while my 2 yo son played in the downspout people to the north of us were losing all their possessions and even their lives in the same storm system.

Our little town suffered damage but nothing compared to Franklin, Bellevue, and Nashville.  Of course comparing loss is relatively pointless unless you are FEMA.  My husband said yesterday, "Disasters are not a competitive event."

Several times our neighborhood was blocked off by road closings.  A week before the storm my 4 yo had to be rushed to the hospital for a 3 day stay.  If he had become sick the weekend of the storm, we might not have been able to get to the hospital because of the many interstate and street closures.  He could have easily been one of the storm's victims.

All this to say, kiss your family.  Enjoy them now, while you have them.  

May 4th Daybook

May 4, 2010 by Rieshy

FOR TODAY as part of The Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window... The weekend storms beat the blooms off my virbirnum and irretrievably bruised and muddied the yearly iris display.  However my white azalea bloomed late this year.  It looks gorgeous and fresh.

I am thinking... how funny my 2 yo is.  He didn't even have his eyes fully open this morning when he asked to be read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  That book is definitely his anthem.

I am thankful for... A dry house,  non-flooded cars and non-flooded children.

From the learning rooms... Comes end of year noises.  Whimpers really, many of them mine.

From the kitchen... Comes the sound of reheating pizza for breakfast.  I'm sick.  I wish we could just take a vacation from the need for nourishment.  Surely a week off  for everyone wouldn't be amiss?

I am creating... I am plying the shetland/angora blend I just finished spinning.  It will be a two ply, sport weight yarn.  It's so soft I just want to hang the finished skeins around my neck and wear them like some sort of bizarre woolly necklace.

I am going... To the grocery, we are out of tissues.

I am reading... Home school catalogs.

I am hoping... That my husband doesn't have too much difficulty driving around flood damage and closed streets to get to his shoot today.

I am hearing... Coughing.  The two year old shared whatever virus caused his croup with the rest of the family.

Around the house... Bionicle pieces.

One of my favorite things... My parents-in-law.  I have the best in-laws known to man.  They are taking the older children on a two week tour and camping trip around Texas later this month.

A few plans for the rest of the week: I must go out and access the flood damage to my veggie garden.  Once I stop coughing I'm going to finish my house painting project and potty train my youngest.  The painting will be easy.

Here my "picture for thought" ...

The wind ruffling my daughter's hair was the front edge of the storm system that flooded our area over the weekend.  At the time I took the photo we were enjoying a rare and windy, just--the-two-of-us morning, running errands and taking pictures. 

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Caginess Is Genetic

May 1, 2010 by Rieshy
I grew up in a family that had a sit down dinner at 5:00 p.m. every night.  Dinner was always accompanied by salad, unsweetened iced tea, and always followed by dessert.   Dessert, that capstone of the food pyramid.

I learned over the years that my mom was a tricky, cagey mom.  She would often serve the dessert to everyone and then pull out a last prized, piece of hidden chocolate cake for herself.

I also discovered as an older teen that my mom kept chocolate stashed for medicinal purposes.

Perhaps medicinal pieces of Toblerone is what kept her from killing me during my teens.

My 15 yo received a gift of some chocolate yesterday, which she poured into bowl and put into the main pantry to share with the family.

Imagine my laughter when I was trying to clean out cupboards last night and found this tea cup filled with my daughter's chocolate behind the Argo.

Unbeknownst to the rest of us she had craftily hidden a small private stash.

For the record, I didn't eat any.  After all, my stash is stored elsewhere.