Merry Christmas 2017!

I’m sitting here in front of my computer, hopped up on migraine-fighting caffeine and with a slight fever, so this is bound to be the best Christmas letter I’ve written in a long time.  You, of course, are thinking, “How many years has it been since you’ve sent Christmas cards?  Of course this is the best letter you’ve written in a long time!”  Touché.

McH is still working for The Great Mamma Corp.  Kind of.  He’s an associate director with OneBulb, and he keeps telling me he’s not in IT anymore but now works on the business side of things.  All I know is that anytime there’s some kind of OneBulb IT outage, he’s on the phone, or the computer, or both.  Seems pretty IT to me.  We think our time with The Great Mamma Corp. is probably coming to an end soon, but last Christmas we thought we were moving, so who knows?

I am homeschooling kids.  Still.  For at least four more years.  Maybe five.  I’m not saying I’m burning out.  I’m just saying that after 15 years of no promotions (unless you count my husband giving me the responsibility of more dogs and horses and God giving me more kids), no raises (unless you count my husband not questioning my Amazon spending), and no upward mobility (unless you count no longer changing diapers and wiping noses), I won’t mind “retirement.”

A~ is 20 now (next year is probably the last socially acceptable year to share her age, no?) and a junior at BYU where she is majoring in English, double minoring in editing and family history, and working for the BYU family history department.  She promises to find a job and settle close to us after graduation if we leave Canada South.

L~ is 18 and a freshman at Utah State where she is studying wildlife management and working in a Clydesdale barn.  We figure we can get her back after college as long as we provide horses and/or a place to keep them.  She’s easily bought.

Midge is 14, just got her braces off, and is in 9th grade at the local public school, which is as much of an adventure with the third kid as it was with the first and second.  After high school she plans to go to BYU or somewhere out west, probably, and study something.  She’s only 14.  I’m not worried.  Yet.

Tank Boy is 13, doing 8th grade at home, and very much looking forward to public school next year so that he can finally play football.  Hopefully.  Our schools aren’t much for academics, but they are ate-up competitive about football.  His current interests are Magic Cards and working out, and he’ll shank me in my sleep if we ever move from this area.

Quinn is 10 and doing 5th grade at home.  He loves when we manage to take a trip into town so that he can play Pokémon Go on my phone.  His favorite pastimes include Play Mobile adventures with his slightly younger brother and spending time with his family of stuffed cats.  I don’t know what he’ll study in the future, but it won’t shock me when he marries a spinster. 

Spuds is also 10 and doing 5th grade at home.  Every now and then I want to yell at him that he’s going to drive me to drink, but instead I sigh a little, smile a bit, and tell him he keeps my life interesting.  Now, when he meets new people and they start asking him questions about himself, that’s what he tells them:  I keep life interesting.  He is very much looking forward to wearing his Christmas fedora to church this year.

We hope this letter finds you and yours well, and pray that 2018 brings an abundance of blessings. 

The E. Family

A Load A Day My Left Butt . . . I Mean, Foot

Do you all know who the FlyLady is?  She’s all about blessing your home and your family by keeping your home clean.  Cleanliness is next to Godliness, you know, so it makes sense.  The FlyLady has all kinds of good tips and tricks and systems.  Oh, she’s all about the systems and schedules and things to help you keep your house clean.

I follow her on Facebook.  She posts her little memes several times a day to remind her followers to get stuff done, or maybe it’s to make us feel guilty.  I’m not sure.  Anyway, one of her little FlyLady memes says, “A load a day keeps Mount Washmore away,” and every time I see that one?  I just want to say, “Bite me, FlyLady.  Just bite me.”

Okay, I don’t really want to say that.  Not really.  Just sorta.  You see, I’ve heard her speak a couple of times at the big, Midwest homeschool convention.  I’ve talked with her at her convention booth just a tiny bit.  She is actually a charming and delightful person with lots of good ideas and advice, and someday I want to be just like her:  an empty nester.  When that day comes, I’ll be able to implement all of her tips and tricks and systems and schedules successfully, but right now?  I have six kids living at home.  Do you know what a load of laundry a day gets you when you have six kids and a husband?  I’ll tell you what it gets you.  It gets you behind is what it gets you.

I’ve been doing a minimum of three or four loads a day for the past . . .  forever (and, yes, some of my kids do laundry, too), and you still can’t see the floor in my laundry room.  What makes this especially bad is that I have a laundry sorter, and it, too, is still full-ish.

Not that I blame the FlyLady for this.  Obviously, it’s not her fault that I have six kids.

Oooo!  Side story:

A couple of weeks ago the studly husband went on a pioneer trek reenactment with the youth from several local-ish congregations of our church.  He was the trail boss, which means he got to ride his horse and dress like Porter Rockwell (minus the long hair),  and he was all kinds of happy.  One evening, while on the trek and after the teenagers had all bedded down in their tents for the night, the adults were sitting around talking, and one of the women chaperones* asked him about his kids, and when he told them he has six kids, she did what everybody who doesn’t know us well does:

“YOU HAVE SIX KIDS????  HOW???  I MEAN, HOW OLD ARE YOU???  YOU CAN’T HAVE SIX KIDS!”

I’ll spare you the hysterical yelling that ensued when he told her the oldest is going to college in the fall.  So, when she settled down enough for other people to get a word in, one of the other men said, “You know how you can prevent that from happening again, right?” and another quickly followed with a seemingly envious, “You are so lucky to be able to have so many kids.”

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

While I would have said (in my head), “Yeah, I know how to prevent that.  The next time I get the urge to adopt, I’ll just stuff all my money and legal forms of identification into a condom.  That should put a stop to things,” McH said (out loud), “Luck didn’t have much to do with it.  We adopted the last three, so we pretty much made it happen.”  Mr. I-Wish-I-Could-Have-Lots-of-Kids just kind of faded into the background after that.

Anyway, six kids.  Lots of laundry.

On Friday, I told two of my girls to strip their beds of all bedding:  sheets, comforters pillow cases, any extra blankets, you know, everything (they should, of course, be able to figure out what “bedding” means without this lengthy explanation, but if parenting for 17 years has taught me one thing, it’s that common sense doesn’t pass through the placental barrier), and start washing it while the husband and I went to Costco.  Costco is about an hour from our house, so this was a big trip that gave them plenty of time to get lots of bedding washed and put back on their beds.  Unbeknownst to me, however, two things happened while we were gone:

1.  A couple of the boys heard me tell the two girls to get their bedding into the laundry room, and these boys assumed that everybody was supposed to strip everything off their beds and, apparently, out of the linen closets.    They might have even hitched a ride to Wal Mart just to go buy more bedding to be washed.  Okay, so maybe they had raided the linen closets a few days earlier to build forts and decided that all of those blankets were included in the washing decree.  Pot-ay-to, pot-ah-to.  I’m still not sure about the trip to Wal Mart.  At any rate, they followed my instruction to put ALL THE BEDDING into the laundry room.

2.  Nobody washed a damn thing.  I guess, technically, that is something that didn’t happen.

And so it was that I came home to a Mount Washmore the likes of which the FlyLady has never imagined.  I literally could not walk into my laundry room.  I could not walk around the pile of bedding.  I am not even kidding when I say I had to get equipment, set up base camp outside the door, and climb over the laundry to get to the machines.  Okay, maybe I’m kidding about the base camp and equipment part, but I did have to climb over it.  And?  I did, for real, lose my water bottle in the laundry room for a whole 15 minutes or so.

If I could have easily gotten to the starch, I probably could have sculpted some presidential visages into the mountain, but that’s awfully hard, thirsty work to do without one’s water bottle handy.

Who am I kidding?  I don’t own starch (unless you count corn starch which, in this case, you really shouldn’t).

Mount Washmore is finally gone now.  It only took me three days to do it (not even kidding).  There are a few random blankets on the floor, waiting to be washed like the last vestiges of . . . a mountain of laundry composed of bedding; but, you know, clothes needed to be washed.  As important as clean bedding is, there came a point where I had to decide if I was going to wash the last few blankets so that the kids could take them out of the linen closet and build new, clean-smelling forts, or if I was going to wash clothes so that the kids could pull them out of their dressers and not run naked through the neighborhood.  They are all currently clothed, so I think I made the right call.  I imagine FlyLady would agree.

* This woman chaperone is another side story all unto herself.

Tewt the Newt can’t wait until I figure out the best way to tell it.

It occurs to me that maybe I need to clarify something:  I really do like the FlyLady and her tips and tricks and systems and schedules.  I have read her book, have bought copies of it for others, and have purchased some of her cleaning products.  I haven’t fully implemented any of her systems and schedules, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t learned some valuable things along the way.  I mean, why else would I keep going to her lectures at the homeschool convention?

I Could Have Been A Very Rich Blockader, or Very Charitable, in 1863

I have 20 people coming to spend the weekend at our house, and so, today, I have felt an almost overwhelming compulsion to organize my linen closets.  I have also felt compelled to take up drinking, but since the 20 people are coming for my youngest daughter’s baptism, it would probably be wildly inappropriate for me to give up 40 years of tee totaling at this point.

So the linen closets took a hit.

They needed it very badly.  My husband is a great unpacker, super fast and efficient.  But one pays a price for said speed and efficiency, and the price is exacted on organization.  So we’ve been here for almost a year now, and the linen closets have been about as organized as a room full of toddlers on crack.

It’s not entirely the husband’s fault, however.  Our last house had one linen closet that was roughly the size of a hummingbird cage.  Whoever designed that floor plan obviously had a smaller family in mind –a smaller family wherein each member gets one towel and one set of sheets each.  Anyway, needless to say, our largish family’s worth of stuff was crammed into that closet anyway we could make it fit, and I didn’t spend much time sorting and weeding for fear it would all come toppling out and: a. I would suffocate; and/or b. we would never be able to get any of it back in.

So willy-nilly it was in that overly minimalist closet, willy-nilly it came out of that ridiculously small closet, and will-nilly it went into my THREE linen closets in the new house.

Oh yes, three.  It is the linen closet version of heaven.  Umm, and we did stick extra stuff in those closets, too.  Like bed pillows.  I have this pillow thing.  Every year at Christmastime, you know, the black Friday sales, my favorite department store back home has fairly decent bed pillows on sale for super duper cheap.  So, every year, I buy some.  I have six pillows on my bed and somewhere between 8-10 extras (though some of those are pretty old).  Crazy, I know, but there it is.  Oh, and yeah, my kids have pillows, too.

Anyhoo, I took everything out of the two upstairs linen closets and then restuffed them with a bit more logic.  Wait.  Rephrase:  I stuffed them a bit more logically.  For instance, the towels and washcloths are now in the closet closest to the upstairs bathroom, and the blankets are in the closet between two of the bedrooms on the other end of the landing/loft/whatever you want to call that ridiculously wonderful large space up there.  I also put clean pillowcases on all the extra pillows so that we can just grab them out as needed for guests (yeah, I really don’t care if their pillowcases match whatever sheets I wind up putting on whichever air mattress they get).

I also organized the sheets!  Can you believe I’m writing about this?  Can you believe you’re reading it???  But oh. my. word! people.  The sheets!  I swear I have/had enough random flat twin and queen sheets to bandage up the entire Union army.  And maybe some of the Confederates, too.  It was crazy, and I didn’t even realize I had them.

Lots of them were old – hand-me-downs.  I’ve always tried, to some degree anyway, to live by the whole “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without,” way of thinking.  It’s a good way to think, really. Much less waste.  Dare I say it?  GREEN.  Though I never thought of it as green before, just good stewardship and not wasteful.

Anyway, I went through all of those sheets, one by one, and realized I AM OVER IT.  At least when it comes to sheets.  Mostly.  I mean, I didn’t throw them out, because I’m sure my kids will need to make stage curtains or togas or something someday, and when they do I’ll pull out the bag o’ old flat sheets and, voila!  Plus, you never know, the time might come when somebody is desperate for bandages, lots of bandages.

You know what else I realized?  My sheets were apparently last folded by a troupe of drunken monkeys who may or may not have been going at it on the sheets while folding them.  Eee gads.  At least that’s all fixed now (not sure about the monkeys).

Nobody who is coming this weekend is going to see inside my linen closets (at least, I don’t think they will, though I suppose snoopers usually try to keep that on the down low), but now I know what I have and what I need to get to help 20 extra people sleep comfortably as comfortably as possible this weekend, and I’ll be able to access it all rather readily, and there is absolutely no way I nor anybody else could hide a bottle of hooch in there.  The closets are that neat and tidy.

Though hooch and bandage material could have really made me rich in 1863.

Oh, who am I kidding?  I could hide a drunk Munchkin behind all those pillows.

Tewt the Newt has decided to think about it all another day.

Our Gnome on the Roam

My long-time readers may remember (but really, why would they?) that back in 2007 I wrote a post about Christmas traditions I have missed out on since my parents have been so negligent about passing on my cultural heritage.  Harumph.

If you don’t remember, or never read, that post, let me bring you up to speed as quickly as possible:

On my father’s side we are somewhat Appalachian, and, therefore, should have been shooting anvils into the air and shooting shotguns (blanks, of course) at neighbor’s houses so they would give us cookies and cider.

On my mother’s side we are Swedish, and, therefore, should be putting lit candles in the hair of at least one of our daughters and telling our children that a tomte (gnomish, elfish creature) lives under our floorboards to keep an eye on us throughout the year.

If you care to go back and read the post, I explained my plan to combine the two cultures into one, big Scappalachian Christmas celebration.

Okay, now that everybody is all caught up, let us jump once again into the present.  Presently, because I am so very old, I take a ceramics class once a week (it’s at my neighbor’s house across the street – mighty convenient).  Also, presently, I just finished a project.  And, presently, I got a new camera (Canon T2i, for those who will ask if I don’t mention it) and will take pictures of anything.

Quick aside:  Yesterday I contemplated taking and posting a picture a day for the next 45 days. Each picture would be of a food I can not eat for at least the next six months.  I started with chocolate.  I am not posting that picture.  Probably.  I am also not going to do the 45 day project.  Be glad.  Be very glad.  Because really?  Who wants to see a picture of black pepper?  Or a frozen turkey?  Or beef?

Wait!  I just realized I forgot another important part of the story.  So.  In the back of my mind for the past three years, I have been storing the tradition of the tomte, and occasionally wondering if I could/should incorporate it somehow into our family culture.  Then, this past Christmas season, I saw this new book that you all might have seen: The Elf on the Shelf.

The whole premise, as I understand it, is that the elf sits on the shelf, mantle, wherever, and keeps an eye on the kiddies so that he can report behavior stats to Santa.  Sounds an awful lot like the tomte, no?  Yes.  Except the tomte, as previously discussed, lives under the floorboards.

Guess what? We live in a house that has wooden floors now, so . . .

Tommy the Tomte

Is there really a quantifiable difference between an elf and a gnome?  I’m going with “no” on that one.  So this is Tommy the Tomte, or The Gnome on the Roam.

(I believe, after I started painting him all up, someone, somewhere, told me that the Travelocity gnome is called the “gnome on the roam”.  This, of course, caused me no small amount of artistic angst and whatnot; but then I decided, “Who cares??”)

I finished him up last night, and today at lunch introduced him to the children and explained that he would be moving about the house, from location to location, keeping an eye on their behavior ALL YEAR LONG.

A~ requested I never put him in her room at night, because if she woke up to him, she thinks, she would totally freak out.

Tank Boy sat in his seat and asserted, “I’m being good.  I’m being good.”

Tommy here is busy picking his favorite floorboard.

And just because it’s the only thing I apparently can do with chocolate right now, I am going to post it after all:

chocolate

I keep telling myself they look an awful lot like rabbit droppings.  It’s not working.

A Thousand Posts Squished Into One . . . . . . . . . . . Maybe

Or maybe just a lot of rambling that will bore you to death.  Who knows?  It’s an adventure!  We’ll all find out together, and by the end we’ll either be all, “Wow! What a post!”  or “Wow!  How does one blather so much about nothing of any import?”

Either way, I figure it will make me look talented.

Wuv for the Wovel

If you are my Facebook friend, then you may already know what a Snow Wovel is.  If not? You are missing out!  Unless I already talked about it on my blog?  I don’t remember.

See, our current abode has a driveway that is . . . long.  It’s only one car wide (until you get up to the garage, where it fans out into a three-car-wide concrete apron) (yes, I imagine cars all nestled on the concrete like potatoes being carried to the kitchen in Ma Ingalls’ apron) (or something like that).  But the narrow driveway is looooong.

Since we are in Canada South and all, I told McH we really needed to get a snow blower.  He said snow blowers are for sissies.  (Or something like that).  I pointed out that, according to his lower back which no longer has all of it’s disks, he should be a sissy.  Right.  He didn’t share that opinion, and insisted that he would shovel the driveway by hand.

Men!

So my parents were going to give him money to put towards a snow blower for Christmas; but then I found it!  I found the Snow Wovel!  Since it is much cheaper than a snow blower, I suggested to my parents that they just get him one of those do-hickies for Christmas.  They did.  And?

I WUV the Wovel.  McH likes it, too.  I shoveled almost the entire driveway yesterday, and would have finished had it not been for the pesky fact that my family likes to eat dinner and I needed to get it started.  I’m telling you, the Wovel is great!

Not only does it make it so easy to shovel snow that even a(n) (out-of-shape, 40-year-old) girl can do it, but . . . oooo, this is the good part . . . all of my tree-hugging, left-leaning liberal friends who are wondering, “Dear God in Heaven, is global warming getting that out of control or am I going through menopause??” will love it because it is greener than Al Gore’s bank account.

Oh, and by the way?  It’s menopause.  Hello???  Ice in Atlanta this week???

But all that aside, if you live in an area that requires driveway shoveling in the winter, you should get yourself one of these contraptions.  Compared to a regular shovel, the Wovel saves your back.  Compared to a snow blower, the Wovel saves you loads of money on gasoline, or saves the planet.  However you want to spin it.  Personally, I like the fact that if hyperinflation ever hits, or cap and trade passes, or whatever, I won’t have to weight the pros and cons of going broke tanking up a snow blower versus risking a stroke or heart attack due to regular hand shoveling.

I think we need to get a second Snow Wovel.  Seriously.  I mean, we can do the job in a reasonable amount of time with one, but with two?  It wouldn’t take any time at all.

Hormones and Headaches and Doctors and Such

You may or may not recall that several months ago I went to a wellness/anti-aging Dr. here in Canada South, got all kinds of blood and saliva testing done, and started taking bio-identical hormones for my migraines.

Overall, the hormones have been very helpful.  Not a perfect solution, but helpful.  My noise sensitivity is gone, I only get one headache a month these days, and it resembles a really bad tension headache more than an actual migraine.  Much better than things had been for several months preceding my foray into the wellness dr. world.

But! (I think I blogged about this?) I was getting fed up with the Dr.’s office.  When they lost my records and lied to my face about it all, and then I called them on it and they tried to cover it up with more crap, I was pretty much done.  So, as I think I’ve previously said, I set up an appointment with a wellness/anti-aging Dr. back home.

You guys!  I literally cried in his office. I mean, I didn’t bawl and carry on or anything, but the man had no Kleenex handy so he gave me a paper towel to wipe my nose.  Because?  When I told him about the migraines and the food sensitivities, he said, “You know, there is testing we can do to try to figure out all of your food issues.  Would you like to do that?”

Dude!  I have been reading about this kind of testing off and on for years, and had Dr.s tell me it’s a bunch of crap since my reactions aren’t of the rashy, anaphylactic, immediate (IgE) type.  THOSE kinds of allergies are simple to test for, but my kind of reactions, the delayed (IgG) type?  Different story.  The thing is, the testing is just a simple blood draw.  It’s really not complicated.  It’s just the validity of the test results that many Dr.s question.  I understand some of their issues with the testing, but still . . . when you’ve been dealing with food sensitivities that cause crippling migraines for nearly half your life, it’s nice to find a Dr. who wants to get to the bottom of it.  It even brings a tear to your eye.

My Dr. here in Canada South?  When I told her about the food issues?  She just gave me hormones and didn’t think twice about the food, or the health of my gut (ooo, aren’t you glad I’m talking about my intestines now?) or trying to heal that mess.  But this new doc?  That is his top priority.  Oh, he’s keeping me on hormones (though changing my dosing to cyclical rather than static) (which I figured is what I should have been doing anyway, but the other doc, I think, was just more interested in selling me the hormones and making extra fun money), but he is also putting me on some detox supplements and, when we get the IgG test results back from the lab, an elimination diet.  *SNORT*  The past decade and a half of my life have been one huge elimination diet, but whatever.  He seems to think that we can possibly get it all figured out to the point that we could actually heal me.  I don’t know if I have that much faith in it, but it would be nice, so I’m willing to give it a try.

Either way, the new doc spent three and a half hours talking with me last Friday.  In the past several months I haven’t spent more than a half hour total with the doctor here.  So I’d say it was worth the 4.5 hour drive down to his office.

In addition to doing the internal detox stuff he’s putting me on, I’m changing my skin care (this is not something he told me to do, just something I am doing).  I have known I should do this for a long time because the skin care products I use, as much as I like them, are full of parabens and other chemical crap.  I’ve probably taken 20 years off of my life trying to take 10 years off of my face.  So I’m switching to more natural (which, of course, equates to more expensive) products.  I’m hoping to detox my body of all the crap and toxins that I can.  Can’t wait to get it all started.

My First Catholic Funeral

While I was down home for my Dr. appointment, I wound up staying for a few extra days since my aunt died.

Can I just take a moment here to say what total troopers my kids were through all of this?  Between the 4.5 hour drive home, then, a couple days later, the 3.5 hour drive to my parents’ hometown for the funeral, then the 4.5-hour-turned-into-6.5-hour drive back to Canada South, with a dive of a hotel, a funeral, and a stressed-out, back-spasmming, grumpy mom thrown in – they were fantastic!

While we were in town for the funeral we went to a certain deli for lunch.  Oh my word, people!  You would love this deli.  The sandwiches are HUGE.  If I could eat the bread mine came on, it would have made at least two meals, and I got a small gyro.  I got two sandwiches for five kids to share, and it fed all of them lunch and some of them dinner.  This deli is pure awesomeness.  I’d tell you the name, except I know they are specific to that location so: A. I’d be divulging more information than I am comfortable with on my blog; B. You couldn’t find one in your town, anyway; and C. The last time I googled the name of the deli to find out if they were a chain, or were expanding, or whatever, all of my search results came up in Arabic or something, so I’m probably already on a government watch list for sponsoring terror. 

My aunt was Catholic, though I don’t think I ever actually heard her say a kind word about the Catholic church, so her funeral was the full Mass thing.  I’ve only ever been to one other full Mass thing, a wedding, so I feared for my children’s ability to keep the circus-that-is-us reigned in for that long.  Luckily, other than my deceased aunt, there were only about half a dozen other Catholics in attendance, so the Communion part went lickity-split (seriously, started and finished while I had Midge out for a potty break).  The whole turning to the people closest to you and shaking their hand and/or giving them a message of peace is always a little awkward for me, and I thought my kids were going to have uncontrollable fits of giggling when I shook their hands, but I didn’t know what else to do.  Other than that, what is there to say?  It was a funeral.  Never the happiest of occasions.

At least there was no applause, nor was there cheering, unlike a recent televised memorial service.  I’ll admit, I only saw about the last five or ten minutes of that one, but what was up with all the applause and cheering?  For the love, people!  Can you imagine being the mother of that nine-year-old girl, or the fiancé of the 30-year-old aid, or anyone else related to anyone who was killed, and having all of those people clapping and cheering all around you at the memorial service?  Okay, I don’t know which of the relatives were actually there, but hopefully you get the point.   I was appalled.

Speaking of Things Involving Politicians

For days now (literally, since the day after the shooting) I’ve had a post for the political blog running through my head.  The working title is, Are Liberals Too Stupid for Metaphor?  But I’ve been too busy to write it.  By the time I finally get around to it, it will probably be pointless, so I’ll just sum it up here:  If you’ve ever said, “Aim high!” or “Shoot for the moon,” or “It was a shot in the dark,” then you are obviously a perpetuator of violent rhetoric and vitriol.  You are also invited to join my club.  Annual dues are reasonable and you’ll get a membership card which entitles you to a photocopied page of my Holman and Harmon Handbook to Literature (it will be the page with the definition of metaphor).

Anyway, if I write that post now, it will just look like I’m copying the likes of Michelle and Ann Coulter.  Hmm . . . all of us coming up with this metaphor thing . . . is it a conspiracy or just common sense?

Reading Material

I am desperate for something good to read.  Don’t get me wrong, I have stacks of books that I have yet to read, but I don’t feel like getting bogged down in something I might not like.  I started Uncle Tom’s Cabin (right, how did I make it through college with an English major and never read this book?); but I got to the part where the mother finds out the master has signed the papers to sell her child, so she is running away with him and . . . I stopped.  A~ recently read this book and said she thinks it is the best book she has ever read (which is really saying something) even though it is sad. 

What can I say?  It’s January.  The days are short, the nights are long, and even my 5,000 IUs of vitamin D haven’t gotten my levels up to where they should be.  I can’t do sad right now.

I’m thinking of re-reading the whole Harry Potter series, but am open to suggestions.  I haven’t read an entire novel in months.  How sad is that.  Oh, and THANK YOU Kathleen for the book you sent me.  But is it sad?  I can handle tragic, just not running-for-her-life-with-her-little-child sad.

*GASP* Just hit with a bit of personal insight.  Moving on . . .

Actually, I’m Out

Yep, I think that’s it.  Unless you care to hear about my back spasms that wouldn’t go away until I could get home and sleep in my own bed, or the cold McH and I are both coming down with, or my (possibly irrational) fear that bedbugs infested our luggage in the hotel, (You know how some people steal hotel towels? I could have easily stolen a shower knob since it kept leaping off the wall and all), or our upcoming vacation to Florida.

Oh, yes!  We are finally going to take a Florida vacation!  In February!  I’m thinking it should be covered by insurance since it will undoubtedly help my low, low vitamin D levels.  But our insurance is pretty crappy anyway.

What are the chances butterbeer will be approved for my upcoming detox plan?

Tewt the Newt thinks not.

Mormon Monday: Family Home Evening

Our church has this program we call Family Home Evening.  President Gordon B. Hinckley explained it this way:

“We have a family home evening program once a week across the Church in which parents sit down with their children.  They study the scriptures.  They talk about family problems.  They plan family activities and things of that kind.  I don’t hesitate to say if every family in the world practiced that one thing, you’d see a very great difference in the solidarity of the families of the world (interview, Boston Globe, 14 Aug. 200).

So Family Home Evening is supposed to be every Monday night.  It has been this way since 1915.  No Latter-day Saint congregation anywhere on the planet plans church activities on Monday nights, because Mondays are family night.  The church is so dedicated to this program of family night that BYU students are even grouped into “families” within their congregations, and they are supposed to meet together on Mondays for Family Home Evening.

In a meeting in Reykjavik, Iceland on Sept. 11, 2002, President Hinckley said, “What is the great strength of [this] Church? . . . It is the emphasis which we place on families . . . Keep your families close together and love and honor your children.”

We aren’t as consistent as I’d like to be about holding our Family Home Evenings.  One of our children is very, very good about reminding us and guilting us if we don’t have it, but her idea of FHE is that we all just sit down and play a board game.  She loves board games.  The problem there, of course, is that we have a wide variety of ages in our family and the younger three children really aren’t quite ready to play Bananagrams, Scrabble, Apples to Apples, or any of her other favorites.  It is one of the downsides to having so many children.

So tonight for FHE I think we are going to spend some time brainstorming activities that we could all enjoy and planning the upcoming holiday season before it hits. 

In the meantime, what suggestions do you have for activities that would interest a family with children ranging in ages from 2.5 to 12?  Please keep in mind we live in the middle of nowhere and it takes us close to an hour to get anywhere.

And George, if you’re out there, Tewt the Newt misses the sun.

To read the article on Family Home Evening from which the above quotes were pulled, click here.

In Which I Make You Yawn . . . Again

The weekend is over.  And?  The weather was fantastic!

(Before I proceed, I must thank you all for your ideas and suggestions in case the weather hadn’t cooperated and we’d had to entertain eleven kids in the house (because it seems to be a natural law that children can’t entertain themselves in the house for very long) ).

I mean, it was cloudy off and on, and it was too cold for me to want to swim.  But the kids?  We could have ice chunks in the pond and they’d swim.  Goodness knows they swim with rocks in their suits, so why should ice bother them?  Seriously.  The shallow area of the pond has a gravel bottom, and the kids never go out and swim without getting gravel in their suits.  The funny part is that half the time they don’t realize it until they take their swim stuff off and the little rocks come plinking out onto the floor.  Even with all the fat padding and encasing the nerve endings on my butt, I think I’d notice gravel down there, you know? 

But it was all good.  Eleven kids spent the weekend swimming and playing outside, and six adults hung out on our teeny deck, chatting and making sure no one drowned.  It was really, really nice.  I couldn’t tell you the last time I just hung out on my deck all day.  For two days.

And I must say, McH’s family has this really special way of cleaning up after a meal.  They just kind of descend on the kitchen like a plague of locusts (and I mean that in the best way possible) (no, really, you can mean that in a good way, and I do), and before you know it everything is done.   Just.  done.  The mess is gone.  Seriously.  In like five minutes or less everything is put away, wiped down, scrubbed off, tossed out, done.

My family is totally different.  We’re more of the, “I want to help clean up, but I don’t know where you want me to put it, and heavenforbid I put it in the wrong place, so I’ll just leave it for you” kind of people.  Seriously.  And it’s not just a cop-out so that we don’t have to clean (at least not for me).  I really do worry about making somebody mad by putting everything in the wrong place.  Yeah, I know.  Analyze that.

McH’s family?  Could care less.  And you know what?  I currently have things in cupboards where I wouldn’t normally put them and it doesn’t bother me.  If you are going to voluntarily clean my kitchen in five minutes flat, you can stash the leftover hot dog buns under the bathroom sink for all I care.  I’ll find them eventually and move them when I want to.  Umm, nobody did stash food in the bathroom, just in case you were wondering.

In other, unrelated news, I got an email from the middle school principal that seems to indicate getting A~ into seventh grade rather than sixth isn’t going to be much of a battle, and the whole issue may skip the “committee” after all.  Maybe I’m reading too much into, “It sounds like your girls will be ready for 5th and 7th grades this fall,” but so be it.  Any glimmer of hope that helps me go in there ready to be friendly and human rather than do battle is something I’m going hold tight to.  (I still need to write about all this school stuff and why I’m even trying to get my kids into brick and mortar government schools.  One of these days).

Apparently the principal was at the last school board meeting and had an opportunity to talk to the board member who just happens to be my next-door-neighbor who sold us this house and is now the girls’ piano teacher.  This would be the same neighbor who earlier in the year said, “If you send them to school in the fall they will probably be the smartest kids in their class.”

Don’t misunderstand, I don’t care if they’re the smartest kids in their class or not.  I’m just saying it’s helpful to have a school board member on your side and talking to the principal.

So I’m going in to meet with said principal Aug. 4.  I’ll let you know how that goes.

In other completely unrelated news, I finally have dental appointments for the four oldest children.  Yeah, it’s only taken me over a year to bite the bullet and pick a dentist.  In my defense, I’ve had the same dentist since I was like ten or eleven.  McH has gone to him since we got married.  I have taken all of my kids to him.  My parents go to him.  My sister and all her family go to him.  He is just a great dentist, and kind man, and he went back and certified in cosmetic dentistry when cosmetic dentistry was just coming into existence, which is helpful when half of your husband’s front tooth falls off about every seven years.

Which brings me to my husband.  I think I shall password protect what is going on there, because you never know what random crazy is reading your blog.  Though my stats would seem to indicate that very few people, relatively speaking, are reading my blog as of late.  I flatter myself that people are just spending more time out of doors, enjoying this rather (for much of the country) temperate summer.  And then I snort with laughter and shed a tear.

Anyway, so it was hard for me to think of going to a different dentist, but driving two hours and having to pay out of pocket kind of make keeping my dentist impractical.  So now I’ll just drive about one hour and be covered by insurance.   That’s Aug. 3

*Sigh*

Now I shall write another post and password protect it (for those of you who aren’t bored to tears by this much drivel and must. know. more).  Maybe next week I’ll do a long overdue Mormon Monday.  But this Thursday?  How a bout we make this Thursday Thankful Thursday?  Remember a month or so ago I did the post wherein you could leave comments complaining, venting, and otherwise ranting about whatever you wanted?  Anonymously?  Let’s do the same thing this week, only make it things for which we are deeply thankful.  I’ll still let you comment anonymously if you want on that one.

And George, if you’re out there, Tewt the Newt would like to lose five pounds this week.