College Forms

February 26, 2014 by Rieshy

In case anyone was wondering- filling out financial forms for your college student is just like running through a field of daisies bathed in beautiful sunshine while wearing a twirly-swirly dress and eating chocolate.

Oh, wait- no, I was thinking of something else.  Financial forms are whatever is the exact opposite of the above.  Add in the whole privacy issue- where a parent has to have magical incantations performed on a night with a full moon before being allowed access to the records for which they are financial responsible- and your head starts to gently throb.

Last week I received an official  letter informing my daughter that she would not be eligible in 2014-2015 for their scholarship.  My daughter has a boatload of scholarships, I scrambled trying to figure out the issue- trying to figure out which scholarship this was and how much a money loss it meant.  The acronym listed on the letter rang no bells and made no sense.

I re-updated our FAFSA.  I re-checked and re-checked FAFSA.

Finally, today I reached someone who transferred me several places and reached a human woman willing to discuss my daughter's accounts and scholarships but only after I did a rain dance in my living room and answered her questions with the name Rumplestiltskins.

The answer?  The notice was for a scholarship my daughter had, in fact, never been awarded in the first place.

A sort of scholarship Naaa Na Na Naaa Naaa?


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Silver Regrets and Grandchildren

February 24, 2014 by Rieshy

I make our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with my wedding silver.  I put aside my cheap flatware years ago because I wanted beauty in our daily life.  I wanted my family to be my special guests at meals and I didn't want to have closets and cupboards full of baggage that never saw the light of day.

It was a mindset- intentional motherhood complete with a tiny bit of arrogance, as all good intentions tend to be.

This weekend I was cleaning out my bedroom closet and found this little book.

This book was the bread and butter of my earliest cozy childhood bedtime memories.  After my mother died my siblings and I discovered that the book had disappeared.  A sister moved heaven and earth looking for the publisher based on only her memory of the story and 10 years ago surprised us all with our own copies.  I immediately vowed to myself that I would share the book and thus share the grandmother with my children that they had never had the chance to meet.

And I did- for a while, until this happened.

and so I put the book away... just until my kiddos were a little older. Except now my 7 year old has almost finished reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix to himself.  My youngest, my 6 year old, still loves picture books but he's too old to develop that visceral feeling of love and comfort linked to a single bedtime story.

I've missed my window...

and that's what grandchildren are for.


Pictorial Presentation of Perplexities of Parenting

February 22, 2014 by Rieshy


Front Yard.
Kitchen Broom.

I laughed, took a picture and then waited until it was time for 12 year old to sweep the kitchen.  "The broom is in the front yard," I mentioned casually.

His, "Why?" was full of righteous indignation because he is not a parent yet.

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Pictorial Update

February 17, 2014 by Rieshy

The digger pictured below is the same as the digger in my blog-banner above.  
What a difference 5 years makes.

The reason I snapped this photo was because he asked if he could borrow a bright pink stencil paint brush while I was distracted.  Several moments later I resurfaced from the frightening interior of my own brain and was even more frightened upon realizing I had issued a blanket "yes" to a 6 year old carrying a paint brush; I hurried to investigate.

he's an archeologist.  Slipping quietly away now.


8-Bit Boy

February 12, 2014 by Rieshy

Or possibly a character from Minecraft?


Ninja Save

February 11, 2014 by Rieshy

There exists almost nothing cuter than the Little Dragons class at our martial arts school.  Think of fifteen 4-6 year olds dressed in black gi imitating ninjas.   Then think of fifteen fuzzy kittens dressed in black gi imitating ninjas.

Same difference.

I was kneeling and belting my 6 year old prior to his class.  He was so adorable that I couldn't help myself; I leaned in and asked for a kiss.

An abashed quick look to see who among his fellow students might be watching- then, "Mom, dragons don't kiss, they spit fire."

Combining imagination with diplomacy, good save Son.


Poetry and Lamps

February 7, 2014 by Rieshy

My kids love to assign me reading.  I try to comply because I assign them quite a bit of reading.  Sometimes compliance is easy- my 7 year old comes to me begging me to read a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon.  Sometimes I just refuse- a daughter begged me over and over to read Les Misérable one summer; she insisted on the unabridged version.  I didn't refuse because of it's length but because I tend to become immersed in whatever I am reading and absorb the emotions of the characters. Happy summer-time fun mommy and Les Misérable? The title is warning enough.

This weekend the Les Misérable daughter handed me a copy of a short story by Wolfgang Borchert called, Die Küchenuhr.  Unwittingly I read it standing in the kitchen while waiting for water to boil for tea.  A few minutes later I was sobbing.  Yes sobbing.  The main character is approximately my oldest son's age and has discovered that he has lost both his home and his whole family to a bomb.  My daughter started apologizing, hugged me, and handed me a P.G. Wodehouse short story to read.

Literature as Kleenex.  The gesture made me laugh.

The problem is that it is February.  The blahest of the blah months.  This poem by Herman Hesse should be called February... This blogger (rather loosely) translated it and has a link to a youtube reading of the poem done by Herman Hesse.  I love this poem- and don't know why.

Im Nebel

Seltsam, im Nebel zu wandern!
Einsam is jeder Busch und Stein,
Kein Baum sieht den andern
Jeder is allein.

Voll von Freunden war mir die Welt,
Als noch mein Leben licht war;
Nun, da der Nebel fällt,
Ist keiner mehr sichtbar.

Wahrlich, keiner ist weise,
Der nicht das Dunkel kennt,
Das unentrinnbar und leise
Von allen ihn trennt.

Seltsam, im Nebel zu wandern!
Leben ist Einsamsein
Kein Mensch kennt den andern,
Jeder is allein.

How about this poem by Dickinson-


There's a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons-
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes-

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us-
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the Meanings, are-

None may teach it-Any-
'Tis the Seal Despair-
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air-

When it comes, the Landscape listens-
Shadows-hold their breath-
When it goes, 'tis like the Distance
On the look of Death-

These resonate this time of year... and make me think that all poets and/or poetry lovers should own full-spectrum lamps or at least round out their readings with poems like the following by Ogden Nash

The Duck

Behold the duck.
It does not cluck.
A cluck it lacks.
It quacks.
It is specially fond
Of a puddle or pond.
When it dines or sups,
It bottoms ups.


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Feeding the Eyes

February 6, 2014 by Rieshy

Field trip time to our local art museum.  It's been a while and none of my younger boys were excited.  I needed a break from nerf guns, gray days and indoor sword fighting.  It's called a command performance, "We are going and you will be happy."

Thankfully my 21 year old son had the day off and he was interested... it's amazing how quickly younger boys' perspectives are wont to shift into alignment with an older and respected male's perspective.

There were two exhibits, one on the influence of Japanese art on Impressionism and one on the work of Norman Rockwell.  The Japanese art was a huge hit with all my kiddos.   Katana sword guards in a Japanese/Art Nouveau style.  Who knew?

There seem to be swords where-so-ever I go.

Beauty.  Everywhere.  My soul drank in the Mary Cassatt painting of chubby toddler arms wrapped around a mother's neck.  I could feel the warmth of that toddler's arms on my own skin, I could imagine his powdery crayony smell;  the colors of the painting bathed my eyes in much needed anti-February balm.

Next gallery.  Try explaining this painting to your 6 year old son.

I tried and teared up.  He found it utterly inconceivable that grown-ups would throw tomatoes at a little girl in a pretty dress.  I am profoundly glad he finds that inconceivable.

Of course my boys did not disappoint.  They had their own observations.  Upon entering the gallery filled with Japanese artwork my 6 year old paused and stood and turned slowly with awe in every inch of his body.   I felt pride at my small art connoisseur and knelt down beside him to hear what thoughts were flooding him.  He turned to me with wonder and said, "Mom, there are 6 hidden security cameras," and pointing he slowly turned and counted them off with precision, "one, two, three, four, five, six."

Later that evening during dinner I was trying to show off what a fabulous mother I am for my husband.   I asked the boys to tell their father about our day.  "We went to McDonald's and got ice cream," was my 6 year old's contribution.  Great.  Homeschooling at it's best.

I tried again, this time prompting, "Tell your dad about the favorite thing you saw at THE MUSEUM today."  This time my 7 year old complied, "Dad, they have this incredible staircase.  I loved the staircase."

And he did.  While we were at the museum he begged me to photograph him on the balcony overlooking the staircase.

I don't give up.  We will continue to go to the museum- my enthusiasm was bolstered by my 12 year old son's comment as we headed home.  "That wasn't nearly as boring as I thought it would be, in fact it was kind of fun."


Carte Blanche

February 4, 2014 by Rieshy

For Christmas I bought my boys scarlet microfiber xl twin blankets.  When I say scarlet I mean Scarlet in the most extreme royal red way possible.  I have to admit they were on sale for crazy cheap and purchased primarily to pad/even-out the packages per kid under the tree.  I had no idea they were destined to be a favorite gift.

These blankest are super thin but soft, they are huge, they drape like velvet and are cozy warm this crazy cold winter.  They are also perfect for capes, perfect for Roman legionaires, perfect for a king's wrap, perfect as a cloak for powerful wizards.  They have magical concealing attributes similar the cloaks of Lothlorian and they make great bathrobes; they are the prop for every mock battle and pretend game engaged in since Christmas.  They even occassionally make it to the boys' beds.

The only downsides are: that they are constantly being dragged through my kitchen on journeys to the den and my boys continually look like some sort of adepts for a secret and vaguely creepy society.  Especially my 6 year old.

This morning he staggered into the kitchen wrapped in his scarlet blanket, only his upper face exposed.  The effect was quite theatrical When I say staggered, I mean staggered.  He's having morning hypoglycemia because of a recent growth spurt.  Normally his is not very affected by his Fatty Acid Oxidation Defect- nothing near as affected as his 7 1/2 year old brother but lately he's been having morning blood sugar lows that leave him dizzy and drunken acting.

Dizzy and drunken acting and wrapped in a red cloak.

This morning, after he had some food in him, we talked again about what the dizzy feeling means and what he needs to do about it.  I stressed that if he feels this way he has to eat- even if no one else is up.  I listed the best foods for him to eat but sensed I had lost his attention, "Actually, if you feel this way you can eat anything you want- even without asking first."

That got his attention.  Whoops.  Did I just told my 6 year old he could get up early and eat anything he wants without asking?!?

There's no going back even if I wanted to.  I am parenting on the side of caution whilst flinging Carte Blanches to 6 year olds with happy abandon; I'd prefer to keep all of our scarlet wrapped dramas squarely in the realm of make-believe.

I just need to hide my private chocolate stash a little better


Edible Posts

February 1, 2014 by Rieshy

Oranges were on sale when I went grocery shopping today; they made me smile and think of Cézanne;  I love his paintings of fruit.

Below is not an awkward attempt at a centerpiece,  
it's just the amount of fruit my family of 9 goes through in a week.  

That is, of course, not counting the fact that someone will be running to the store to buy bananas by Tuesday.  I thought I'd commemorate the fruit in a post because: it will all be gone so fast,  because I may or may not manage to get any, and because I never learned to paint.

I just read that Cézanne had 11 siblings; suddenly his fondness for fruit makes sense.

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