Odds and Ends- or maybe just Dregs

November 30, 2011 by Rieshy

When I signed in to blogger today they promised that their new interface was, "Clean and modern."  I haven't seen a sign with the spectacular promise of Modern since I was a child and a dilapidated sign in the teeny tiny West Texas town near my grandparents farm promised both, "air conditioning and modern rooms,"  as an enticement to brave their Bates-motel establishment.

Onto Dregs.  I am the grinch.  In surveying my non-holiday decorated house this morning all I could think was- will my children notice if we don't have a tree and it's accompanying clutter this year?

Heavy sigh.  I'm pretty sure they'll notice.  Last year I got away with not putting up our huge fake tree because my husband and I bought a live Norway Spruce as our anniversary gift to each other and put it in the living room.  My children were unimpressed with it's 3 1/2 foot splendor and the fact that I wouldn't let them put lights on it.

Less clutter, but the fear and trembling with which I had to work to make sure the expensive thing didn't get shocked and die before we planted it in the backyard was exhausting.  Besides the expense, having your 23rd anniversary present die would be pretty depressing.

Exhaustion versus clutter versus permanently scarring my children's holiday spirit.... hmmmm.

Am I the only one out there that wants to run at the first sightings of Christmas sweaters, and that sees seasonal decorations only as dust-catchers?


Honesty Is The Best Policy?

November 28, 2011 by Rieshy

I went to a local community bank this morning to open savings accounts for my 4 and 5 year old boys. The joy at realizing that they would both be getting identical plastic piggy banks knew no bounds.

The noise that a few dollar coin pieces can make in a plastic piggy bank in the hands of aforementioned mancubs also knows no bounds.

I explained to both boys that I would use a Sharpie pen at home to write their names on the pig's bellies. My 4 year old held up his hands, palms forward, and said, "No, Mommy don't do that," at this point he took a deep breath and exhaled loudly, "because when I loose mine I'll just take Brother's and I don't want his name to be on it."


Puddy Muddles

November 21, 2011 by Rieshy

How tempting is a mud puddle
lying still and silky,
reflecting sky and White Pine boughs?

There it is, secreted behind the climbing cube.
Calling with a slight ripple
caused by the fall wind.

That same cool fall wind that in the perverseness
of mothers deems muddy water out of season.
Out of bounds,
and "you may not get your clothing wet and no face paint either."

Face paint
Fishing tank
cauldron of mysteries
holder of globby muddy snowless snowballs.

Why, why not?
Temptations of childhood are a myriad lot,
but none so strong, and fraught with discovery
as illegal muddy puddles.

Yes But... No

November 19, 2011 by Rieshy

I was reading about some of Jesus' miracles to my 5 and 3 year old sons when it occured to me to ask if they knew what the word miracle meant. When the 5 year old answered no I attempted to explain.

Exlaining what a miracle is is harder than one might think. It's easy to end up describing either Harry Potter or an X Man and not divine nature.

My 5 year old got excited and interrupted my obviously boring miracle-example of water turned to wine. "Did Jesus ever," he looked around for ideas and grabbed the pencil from the table in front of him, "make a pencil float up and make it fly into a bad guy's eye?"

I must have looked horrified because he added, "Not to poke through the bad guy's eye or anything, just to give him a really bad black eye."

My 3 year old was listening with rapt attention until I attempted to explain that no, in fact God's plan was not to send Jesus to beat up bad guys, but to love them and turn them into good guys.


A couple of early mornings later my still pajama clad 3 year old had kissed his dad goodbye and shut the front door with big-boy aplomb. I reminded him to lock the door. "Why?", he asked.

"We don't want bad guys to come in."

"But God loves bad guys."

Yes, but....


That Pesky th Sound

November 16, 2011 by Rieshy

My 5 year old abruptly asked, "So was he just really really fat?"




"You know", my son spoke more slowly. Obviously Mom was not on top of her game, " One of Jesus's disciples."

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Through a Mirror

November 14, 2011 by Rieshy

I went to the park in a funk on Friday, put there in part by new hospital bills and new medication needs for my 5 year old. I had one of those headaches that have you seriously considering attempting self trepannation. I was hoping the little boys would wear themselves out, while I sat like a reclusive sloth on the sidelines.

No such luck. The only free bench was mined with a chatty mother watching her daughters. Sure enough as soon as I sat, with my hood up, my body in a non-attitude of chattiness, the chatty mother began to chat.

I'm glad.

One of her two daughters has a chronic ilnness, she told me out of the blue. She had no idea that she was speaking to a fellow "caretaker" of a chronically ill child.

This articulate mom was at the park with her polite, smart, well-behaved, social little girls. She's managing her daughter's illness so well that her daughter can be out and about, learning and playing and being a child. Until her daughter's next crisis...

Yet, this mom wasn't basking in the peace of the sunny play day, she was frustrated with a myriad of things from chronic lack of sleep to her weight gain since her daughter's last round of hospitalizations to the feeling of being "undisciplined" and not accomplishing enough. She was frustrated that though she is a christian she is still sometimes gripped with fear when she looks at her daughter. She felt that she should be over that by now. And that's just what she shared in our 45 minute acquaintance.

I didn't have many words for her. All I could think was, really? And then I checked to make sure I was speaking to a real person and not some phantom projection of my subconscious. I hope that venting relived her spirit. I hope she gets some sleep.

It was illuminating to see the commonalilty of frustrations and the tendency towards an exhausted sort of self-flagellation among caretakers. A sort of tunnel vision that lacks grace for self.

She will probably never know how she relieved my gloom. It is always illuminating to see one's self, even be it dimly, through the mirror of someone else.


Dreamy Concert Grands

November 13, 2011 by Rieshy

This morning as I was pouring a cup of coffee my 17 year old rounded the corner already dressed for her part time job.

My daughter is a pianist and plans on majoring in piano. At school she plays on Steinway Grands. Alas, at home it's just a Craig's list fussy upright piano- the kind whose purpose is usually limited to acting as a 350 pound holder of doilies and framed cat photos.

She practies at school instead of home a lot, even though it means she has to drive in to work with my husband at 5:45 a.m.

Seeing her triggered my memory of a dream I had had in the night; I was listening to her play but she was frustrated with our little upright- when I suddenly remembered that our concert grand was out on the covered back deck, we had merely forgotten it was there.

My husband quickly got some power tools and cut a hole in the dining room wall so he could slide the grand piano back into the house. Problem solved, and the finish on the Steinway Grand was only a little dulled by it's 3 months outside.

My psychology-class-taking-college-student-son, who was perched on a stool eating breakfast while I recounted my dream, commented that Freud would call the dream wish fulfillment, but that Freud's system of dream analysis has been thouroughly discredited and was never based on actual research anyway.

So, I'm thinking if Freud has been thoroughly discredited I need to check the back deck quickly, before the finish dulls even more.

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November 12, 2011 by Rieshy

I've been underwater all week with the combination of a cold, worries and the kind of tiredness that comes from your heart and makes your bones heavy.

My 17 year old has me reading Les Misérables this month. Hint, don't read Les Mis. when you are bone weary. It won't help. I opted to endure my daughter's literary scorn and read The Power Of Six instead. I also read Disappointment With God, by Yancey.

Power Of Six- who writes in all present tense? Oh, Pittacus Lore. Nothing like blowing up some aliens and enduring some poorly thought out anti-catholic sentiments that are quickly followed by fatalistic philosophy- also poorly developed. I did enjoy the blowing up of the aliens, but I'm deep like that...

Disappointment With God, though it had not a single sword or ray gun, was surprisingly uplifting. The main thing I took away from the book was that I either believe God or not. I either believe he is, and by definition he loves, or I don't.

I, an almost yuppie, who loves to over-analyze everything could get used to the freedom of not having to figure everything out.

On Wednesday my 5 year old asked me if there would be hospitals in heaven. He looked worried when I told him no. He looked radiant when I explained why there would be no hospitals.

The radiance of a child's faith.



Off Track And Under Dressed

November 10, 2011 by Rieshy

Sometimes the simplest things take forever.

I was reading my 3 and 5 year old a very simple version of the baptism of Christ.

John the Baptist's clothing came into question.

"Why is he dressed different?"

"He's wearing animal skins."

"Where's the animal?"

I explained as briefly as possible and attempted to finish the story.

"So he took out the animal's insides? Well, that makes sense. Because if he didn't then he'd have blood running down his legs, and he's not wearing any pants, so that would be gross."

"Really gross", affirmed the 3 year old at top volume as he leaped off the ottoman to climb up and see the picture. "Why isn't he wearing any pants!?!"


Interrogations and Negotiations

November 5, 2011 by Rieshy

I'm pretty sure every mother loves it when people ask their children random questions. I know I can generally depend on my children to answer in unusual and usually unflattering ways. Recently my 5 year old was peppered with questions.

"So, what grade are you in?"

"I don't go to school."

"Oh", surprised look because my 5 year old is so tall he looks almost 7,"well then,do you like to play outside??"

"I like to just watch T.V. And play video games all day."

Perfect, an answer to make any parent proud. He doesn't GO to school because we home school... We don't even get television because we don't have cable. We also don't have any video game gizmos- no Wii, X-box, or whatever the latest video-flavor is current.

My son was answering not what he does but what he would do if the governing of the universe were in his control. Thank goodness it is not.

I was treated with a condemnatory look that made me want to giggle and add in a whiney voice that my son wears Velcro sneakers because tying shoes is just too hard and that he eats cheeseo's with Spam and Sprite for breakfast because he, "Just won't eat anything else".

If my mothering is going to be condemned because of my son's imagination, I might as well take a flight of fancy too. In for a penny in for a pound...

No t.v. But my kids do watch movies. I figure the negotiation skills my children are learning through the arduous process of choosing a movie that the majority can agree on is priceless.

Yesterday after 50 minutes of non-stop bargaining between the three youngest my 3 year old ran into the kitchen holding up a movie. "I agree, I agree, we can watch this movie now!"

As he was unaccompanied and I could still hear the sounds of shuffling in the movie cupboard from the next room I asked, "Who agrees with you on this movie?"

He looked at me as if it were obvious, which I guess it was, "I agree with me. Can you put it in for us now?"


I Think I'm Being Laughed At

November 2, 2011 by Rieshy

One of the advantages of having a lot of children is that  even if you don't have overwhelming worries about any one particular child you can pick and choose various small concerns, add them all together, and lay awake worrying over the sum of all the parts.

It's fabulous.

A couple of weeks ago I was laying awake worrying and unsuccessfully working on not worrying.  I had decided to focus my worry on one of my children's upcoming college midterms- because let's face it, what's the fun in late-night-worries if it is about something that you have any control whatsoever over?

And we all know that possibly poor college midterms will lead to the permanent downslide of a child into madness and depravity, subsequently submerging the earth into war, anarchy and chaos.  And I would be the mom of the child that did it.

Finally I got out of bed and decided to open scripture and do some reading for comfort.  I didn't want to go to Matthew 6 and read Christ's teaching on worry so I flipped open the Bible trying to hit a calming Psalms but something different popped open:

  1 Samuel 2: Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord; for men abhorred the offering of the Lord..... Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.... And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hopni and Phineahs ; in one day they shall die both of them.


Oh, yeah, Perspective.  The Bible seems to be full of it.


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Halloween Hangovers

November 1, 2011 by Rieshy

Candy Hangover that is....  necessitates a small chocolate Hershey's bar at 5:30 a.m., before the kids see.  Hair of the dog and all that.  With piping hot coffee, yum.

Halloween at our house is a pretty cheap affair.  $3.50 for duct tape and a t-shirt is transformed into a knights mail-of-amour.  We already have plenty of capes, swords, scabbards and shields-  4 boys will do that to you, not to mention daughters who were obsessed with the Redwall series, Tolkein, and Howard Pyle's version of King Arthur.

Indeed, several years went by in which my oldest 4 children were always armed and spoke only their version of Middle English.  "A boon! a boon! I do beseech this of thee, mine mother, that when thou preparest luncheon it includeth a fair portion of dessert for each of these deserving knights."

I've lost track of how many treasure maps have threatened to catch fire in my kitchen during attempts to age and weather parchment purchased from Hobby Lobby.

My oldest just taught the 5 year old how to use his alphabet stamp kit with lemon juice on parchment in order to write secret messages.  They look like crazed notes from a conspiracy theorist, or the uni-bomber.

Emerging literacy aside, my brain is fried from sacrificing myself for my children's health by eating their chocolate after they went to bed.

Today should be a national day of mourning for all the teacher's trying, against all odds, to teach hung over children anything on this day of sleep deprivation and sugar comas extraordinaire.