Friday, August 28, 2015


By far, the funniest person in our house is Caleb.  Sometimes he means to be, sometimes it's just natural, but by gum that kid makes me pee-my-pants giggle almost every day. It's a good thing, too, since by nature he is also infuriatingly slow to perform almost any task asked of him, loses anything his fingers touch, and has a tendency toward foolishly-unintended dismemberment of our favorite household goods.  In fact, I've often said to Ryan that while in some ways having a boy is just what I expected (for example, I knew there would be broken things and an infinitely greater amount of movement in my house), Caleb sort of threw me for a loop when it comes to other things I expected when I found out I was to be blessed with a son.  For one thing, I really thought I'd have a boy and that at this age (6) he would be outdoors more often than indoors.  Then my boy came along, and I have never met a child who finds nature quite so repellent.  He would rather be upstairs building Legos than outside exploring the great outdoors any day, and hardly stays in the pool for 10 minutes at a time before declaring "I'm cold!"  and heading for the nearest patch of sunshine to warm up.  I also expected more rough-and-tumble-y-ness, but my Caleb yet again shocks me often with his sensitive nature and his frequent complaints of any ailment he can dream up.  Just yesterday he wandered up to me mumbling, "Ugh,  I just can't explain it... my right wrist just aches today."  In fact, due to his legendary hypochondria, he complains of more aches and pains and ailments than an 85 year old.  But despite his gloomy complaints, he also brings me such sunshine with his humor.  He's a master communicator for his age, so much so that many of the things that fly out of his mouth are shocking to be heard coming out of such a little guy.  And let me tell you, he communicates aloud EVERY. THOUGHT. IN. HIS. BRAIN... all through the day.  The other day he walked up, finger pointing to the sky as if to gesture "Eureka!" and announced to my parents, Ryan, and I that "I invented a new color!"
"???" was our reply. Then, "I'm pretty sure you can't invent new colors."
"But I did!  It's called Klawn!"
"Ok, well what does 'Klawn' look like?"
"Oh, that's easy!  It's the color you see when you close your eyes!"
"Bub, that's black.  There's not a color."
[Unswerved] "No, there's different shades of black, and the one behind your eyes is called 'Klawn'."
"Okiedokee, Buddy... Klawn it is." (He provided the spelling, as well).
Shortly thereafter, once we'd stopped giggling over his announcement of his triumphant discovery, he ran back up to us with another proclamation...
"Sorry, Bub, but this time we KNOW that there's already a pencil."
[Again, unperturbed by our assertions that pencils exist...] "Not this kind!  I sharpened this stick (brandishing freakishly sharp stick) and then I found some charcoal and rubbed it on the point and IT REALLY WRITES!"
We had to hand it to him... he did indeed make his own pencil.  We also had to take it away because he is famously dangerous with sharp things near human beings.  Or animals.  Or bugs.  Or inanimate objects.
He's also got a hilarious tendency to be completely unaware of things related to his wardrobe, which is surprising because many of his imagined maladies have their root in his lack of care for matters of hygene.  Today he was complaining of a funny feeling in his leg and walking funny.  When I examined him, I found that for the past 4 hours he'd had his underwear on backwards and failed to notice until 11 am when apparently it began to chafe a bit.  He has also complained of leg or foot pain a few times before only to be told that it's necessary to wear matched shoes and not put clean socks right on top of the dirty ones when Momma tells you to put on clean socks (because your shoes will suddenly feel too-tight, Caleb).
In all, I enjoy my little guy so, and I'm so glad God blessed me with a Momma's Boy to treasure and snuggle up with... especially since God made him so entertaining, as well.  Now if I could just get him to slow down with the narrating of every moment of his life and let me have a few quiet moments! ;)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hannah's New Swimming Move

I've been posting a lot to Facebook this week, but have neglected to post much here because we've been busy trying to sell our old house that has served us as a rental income home for the past 2 years but is now serving to drive me into the ground with worry and workload both.  Life hasn't stopped, but I've only had time for compiling and writing little blurbs.  That being said, I don't want to forget some of the sparkling jewels that have come out of my children's mouths this week, so I'm going to stick them here quickly for later reference.
For example, earlier this week Caleb was walking through our neighbor's home while we were visiting and while exploring took a moment to look through her hutch at some collectibles. After looking at it a few mins. he told our neighbor, "I really like your dynamite!" My neighbor and I looked quizzically at each other and then at Caleb, and she asked him, "what dynamite?" Caleb replied, "Oh you know... your dynamite. You know, like when you see something that's really neat you say 'it's dynamite!'" That boy cracks me up, and now I keep hearing his comment in JJ's voice from "Good Times"- "DY-NO-MITE!"

Then, just the next day, Caleb found me in the kitchen to tell me, "Mommy, I feel like it's yesterday!"

Me: "What do you mean?"
Caleb: "You know, Mom (rolls eyes) The day before this one." 
Ryan: "Way to keep your Momma straight, Boy.

And then my final gem for this week: 

Hannah's been bobbing about the pool all afternoon like this...

and so I asked her what she was up to when she floats in this position. Her answer: "It's my new swimming move, Mommy. I invented it. I call it [Mel's note: I swear I did not make this up, people] 'the Graceful Buttcrack'." 

And then I died laughing. The end.

** editing note: I have no idea why all of my text is highlighted white today.  Nor do I have time to fix or care about it.  :/  

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

How to get your floors cleaned...

This shortie post brought to you by: "Spring- when Momma has no time for blogging."
Seriously, Spring is crazy, but in a way that makes this Momma oh-so-happy.  I've been planting gardens, building beehives (have no bees yet, though), mulching, opening the pool, and cleaning buckets and buckets of tree debris and maple helicopters off every single inch of this three acres I own.  We have a joke here that there is always something falling here.  Truly though~ there is fall for the leaves falling, but there is also winter for gumballs and pine cones falling, spring for the azalea flowers, "tree sex junk" like maple helicopters, flowering tree debris, and some kind of weird grape-vine shaped pollen-y things that fall off the trees, as well.  Summer, there are tree branches blown down by the summer storms, and then in August we get crepe myrtle flowers and pine straw.  But for now, I'm loving all the beautiful new leaves and new garden experiments.
We are also trying to rent our other house, which makes for an extra busy Momma taking care of two yards and showing the rental to folks at their convenience. Today I have a showing at 10, meaning school isn't happening this morning and my morning chores have to squish in to a smaller time frame, and so told the kids they were going to be responsible for helping with a little extra housework than what they usually would do each morning.  In the asking, though, I think I've discovered an ingenious stratagem for getting my house cleaned that incorporates their constant jealousy and competition to my advantage in a way that would make Tom Sawyer proud...
Me: Okay here's what you need to do in addition to your normal morning work: I'm going to need the living room floor vacuumed, the kitchen floor swept and mopped, and the school room floor swept and the table cleaned up there.
All three kids at once: I WANNA VACUUM!
Me: Hannah gets to vacuum because it's her turn.  Sarah, you sweep the schoolroom and Caleb, you can swiffer the kitchen after Hannah does her normal after breakfast sweep in the kitchen.
Caleb: NO FAIR... I wanna vacuum!
Me [feigning graciousness]: Okay, well, I guess you could vacuum your room.  But only if you do a really good job cleaning the kitchen floor.
Caleb: YAY!
Sarah: But I don't get to vacuum!
Me [again feigning graciousness... seriously, how do they fall for this?]: Okay, well... I guess you could also vacuum your room, but only if you do the schoolroom, too.  And you'll need to clean up the stuff on the floor of your room before you vacuum it, so you may as well tidy up your room while the other two are busy with the vacuum.
Kids: Yay!

I just got 3/4 of my house vacuumed with a minimum of resistance, along with hard floors swept and rooms tidied.  Today, I win.  At least for the morning, anyway... let's not get too cocky.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Life at the Bar Scene?

Today I started to ponder my life with bigger kids now, and I began to notice some striking parallels to life in some sleazy Vegas bar.  It all started when I was listening to Hannah give Caleb a thorough reaming, shouting, "I won that FAIR AND SQUARE!" while chasing her little toad of a brother as he squealed with delight, skidding around furniture at top speed after stealing something from Hannah's toy purse. I thought to myself, "I feel more like a bouncer than a parent right now,"  as I hooked Caleb by the collar while rounding the corner nearest me and sent him off to cool his heels in 6-year-old jail.  That got me to wondering, and thus this compilation of ways our life right now resembles a rowdy, shaded pub scene...
1.    Ear-Shattering, Nonsensical Music- By far the easiest commonality our life shares with a bar scene, there is an almost constant stream of high volume musical rubbish assaulting my ears.  This has to do with a newly acquired keyboard with a programmed selection of musical cuing lights to help my children bumble through classical selections like "Fur Elise" and more contemporary offerings such as, "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" with an equally poor understanding of the underlying tune or tempo.  And for some reason, it's only good if it's LOUD.  I'm not sure if I should encourage their blooming musical interest, or nip it in the bud before they end up like this:
Dear Lord, Don't let this be Caleb in 15 years

2.  Spontaneous Fist Fights-  I'm an only child, so this MYSTIFIES me.  When I was a girl, I dreamed of being able to have a permanent playdate with a sibling who would, I imagined wistfully, always be there for me.  Meanwhile, my little yahoos can't spend 10 minutes together most days without getting into a brawl over something.  Then they're utterly stupified as to why I eventually lose my schmidt and throw them all into kid jail rather than carefully sorting through to the root of the problem and solving it for them.  "That's not FAIR!" they shout.  "He/She started it!" come's next.  Yep, really not that different from, "He was flirting with my girl!  He had it coming!"  Oooh, but while I'm on the subject, that brings to mind...

3.  Mobs of People with Drunken Motor & Reasoning Skills- My kids are not toddlers anymore, but when they were I would TOTALLY understand if they just fell over for no reason or thought it was a good idea to bite their friend because they were ticked off.  Now, however, it is really getting old.  One of us, let's just say her name rhymes with CLARA, is particularly bad at the whole "remaining upright" part of life. In fact, I'm pretty sure my sweet girl does not possess a center of gravity like the rest of us because the number of times she ends up wailing away on the ground is staggering! She also has a remarkable ability to fall off things, which is why that playset we bought for them terrifies me.  Hannah, much like any good wing-man, has consequently become an excellent stand-in nurse for when I'm too busy to help her, and can perform all sorts of first aid now. 
 As for drunken reasoning skills, the other day I managed to stop Caleb just milliseconds away from scraping the snow off our cars with a metal RAKE.  Nice effort buddy, but how bout you go build a snowman instead and Momma will clear the cars, mm-kay?  And what kind of defective brain waves made my children think it was a good idea to wrap their whole bodies in bubble wrap the other day (including their eyes and arms) and go off shuffling at high speeds into each other like bumper cars over a hard tile floor??  (Can you guess who ended up face-down, mummified nearly entirely in bubble wrap on the floor with a bloody nose on that one?  Go ahead, I'll give you a second to think...).    There's just a whole lot of decisions around here that remind me of a gaggle of frat-guys who've had one too many shots of tequila.  

4.  Bar food and Naked Table Dancing-  Nevermind that I constantly need enough food to keep a casino buffet stocked- That metaphor is for another day.  Nevertheless, it seems no matter how much I try to provide healthy foods, my kids will always and forevermore demand nachos, fried foods, and things made with extra sauce and cheese.  And somehow even though we all work to sweep the floor multipillion times a day there are enough crumbs to remind me of those bars in Texas where you're welcome to pony up to the bar and shell peanuts all day and then just swipe 'em onto the floor when you're all done.  Much like the drunken Texas patrons and their peanuts, no one here much minds the odd crunching sound under their feet and the pokey debris on their socks quite enough to be willing to spontaneously sweep up without being told by management. 
 As for the naked table dancing, well, you can imagine it's probably not the 8 year olds, but dearest Caleb, who constantly yearns to be the center of attention more than even the most desperate college girl, and would gladly embrace any opportunity to doff his shirt and pants and dance a jig on the dinner table if he thought he had enough lead time between him and his daddy before the spankings could begin.  Here's him break-dancing on the chair one lunch time recently... you can't see the spinning, but believe me, it is there.  It's always there, sigh.  At least he was fully clothed :)  

Life IS fun at my house, despite the spilled drinks, patrons who often smell like they need a bath, and the constant threat that someone will vomit all over their waitress.  They bring laughs to my life, help me to see that the crumbs AREN'T that big of a deal, occasionally talk me into dancing along to the music, and keep me on my on my toes in tip-top shape, that's for sure.  And, while I love the business, it's also nice when happy hour starts at 8 pm, as the little patrons pass out in their beds and Mom and Dad can shut the place down and sit back and relax. :)  

Monday, January 19, 2015

WWI, and Chickens??

We recently added a couple new hens to our backyard flock after a hawk carried off one of our girls for brunch.  Pictured below, you'll see a black and a grey hen, or at least part of a grey hen butt-- she's camera shy, I guess.  The black one we named "Opal", because she has a lovely iridescent green sheen to her black feathers, and the grey/blue hen is named "Betty" to go along with my love of naming hens after little old ladies (Betty was my Grandma).  The rest of our flock are the gold hens named "Helen," after Ryan's Grandma (they are ALL named Helen because we can't tell them apart and they're too dumb to come if we called them separately anyway), and the two crazy white leghorns, Elsa and Snowflake, thusly named because my kids managed to name them before I could intervene and give them old lady names, too.

One would imagine, as I did, that adding hens to a flock would be easy.  Just kinda throw 'em in and hope for the best, right?  What could go wrong with fluffy little dimwitted creatures whose life's ambition is to dig up worms, but would just as soon eat whatever flotsam they unearth during their constant attempts to dig holes to China? 
Ever heard of "Pecking Order?"  
Well, apparently it's the nice name for chicken gang warfare.  
Ryan and I, after picking up the two very indignant, squawking new girls and walking them back to the chicken yard, naively assumed that our old flockers might need to get used to the new ones, and so some bullying of the NEW girls would occur.  
We dropped the new girls in and dang if Opal didn't go in swinging.  First thing she did was walk her little feathered T-Rex butt over to the biggest girl in our flock and beat the ever-loving-snot out of her.  I have never seen such vicious bully behavior in my life!  She then doled out whoopins to every other flock member, save Betty, who acted every bit the part of her smaller henchman, since up to that point she had lived the first part of her stay here in a tiny cage in the garage with Opal and had already received her beatings from the grumpy, larger bird.  
It was hard to watch my girls take their lumps, but thankfully today everyone now knows their place, with Opal at the head of the flock, Betty in 2nd, and all others behind gleefully pecking away at whatever yucky things they dig up in the compost once more.  
So how on Earth, Mel, does this have anything to do with WWI??  Stay with me here, I'm getting to it...

Today for school I introduced our newest unit topic which....[drumroll please]... is WWI.  I began our exploration of the topic with a basic overview of the start of the war.  In their Cliff's Notes version introduction [here provided for those who, like me, spent my first explanation of the topic face-down and drooling on my desk in history], I explained that initially, the war began after Archduke Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by a Serbian, leading ultimately to war between Austria-Hungary and Serbia.  Simple, right?  Well then Germany allied itself with Austria, and Serbia allied itself with Russia, so now we have two HUGE powers involved in the skirmish.  At this point, the kids are listening pretty well, so I continued, "and then Germany declared war with France."  The kids then stopped me to ask, "Why France?"  
Unfortunately I had no answer- the part that sucks about being a homeschool Mom.  
Fortunately, between their textbook and the internet, I found the answer pretty quickly... the part that DOESN'T suck so much about being a homeschool mom, lol.  
The answer: Because they WANTED TO.  
It's that simple, but how do you explain that to an 8 year old? 
"Okay, so you know how sometimes you're just having a really crappy day and you just want to yell at everyone around you?  Or even pinch 'em because you just feel like garbage and you're mad at the world? 
"OH yeah!" Sarah exclaimed.  "Like Opal yesterday!"  
"YES!  JUST LIKE OPAL!  Kids, during WWI, all of Europe was in an Opal state of mind.  They were just looking for a fight and all the other countries were just chickens in their way toward the top of the pecking order." 
"Oh... okay Mom!"  

And that, my friends, is how having a flock of chickens has taught my children all they need to know about the geopolitical climate of WWI.  :)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Tiny Hobos

Last week my father and I went out to clean up the back yard a bit before installing the kids' Christmas present, a playset I purchased off Craigslist.  I have to say, the playset is so super mega awesomely huge and full of fun stuff even I can't resist playing on it.
~See?  Supercool right?  Apparently only for 10 minutes at a time, though~
 In readying for the installation, Dad cut down a tree that was on the verge of falling over on the spot for the set, and I cut out 6 or 7 old azaleas that need to grow back in because they were diseased/unhealthy.  So, needless to say, there was quite a bit of wood out there to be hauled to the burn pile.  I informed the children that Papaw would move the logs, I would move the azaleas, and they would have to move the limbs that were left from the tree removal.
This did not go over well.
"Awww Mom, these are SOOOOOOOO heavy we can hardly lift them!"
My reply: "Use a wheelbarrow then, but they're not too heavy to lift and you can move them faster by hand."
[Grunt grunt grumble grumble]
10 minutes in and the whining was so bad that I had to stop my work to threaten them with a full day of housework enslavement should they say one more word to each other or me about how awful and unrealistic it was for me to ask them to move a pile of skinny limbs.  That did the trick and mouths were shut, but there was much pouting and panting and sadness still for the day.
Fast forward to today.  They had their friend Linda over to play for the morning and they decided after I told them "NO YOU CANNOT COME IN UNTIL 11:30 at LUNCHTIME!!" for the 40 millionth repetition that they could no longer stand sitting and whining on the awesomely awesome playset (which was somehow tediously boring today), and instead put themselves to a little building project.
They opted to build a log cabin.  Out of logs from the tree. That weigh at least 50 times more than the stupid limbs I asked them to haul last week.  So they then hauled about 20 logs from the tree we cut down to the center of my yard and proceeded to stack them up into walls.
I kid you not.
I repeat: these are the same children who a week ago could not be bothered to drag limbs 100 feet to a burn pile.
Then, this afternoon after Linda left, they decided to found a tiny tenement camp in the back yard. So they dragged the old toddler playhouse stored in the very back of the back yard almost double the distance the limbs were moved- all the way into the center of my back yard, so that henceforth I can marvel at my children's miniature hobo camp forevermore.  Here it is, in all it's glory...

I am now taking builder orders for them to come and construct other small Hoover-villes in friends' yards if there is interest.  Wouldn't you want a hobo camp just outside your breakfast window, too?  For all the whining over housework chores, I'm considering making them sleep out there!

Meanwhile...I am gearing up to add bees to my list of beings I take care of that are wholly ungrateful for it.  That makes 9 chickens, 3 children, 5 hermit crabs, a husband (ok, he's at least grateful, lol), and someteen-thousand bees.  And somehow I can't not add more.  It's an illness.  I added 2 chickens this weekend and the poor dears are convinced I am the devil.  So my chicken-keeping friends' advice? "Hang out near their cage several times a day and talk, move around, etc. to make them used to you."  And that is the story of how I ended up sitting in a freezing garage singing "Let it go"  and "Mamas and the Papas" tunes [I have a limited repertoire of songs I know all the lyrics to, people] to two horrified chickens who still have no intention of letting me near them.
But I digress.
I have signed up for a class to learn the art of beekeeping, and upon telling my children, I asked them if any of them wanted to attend alongside me to learn.  They stared at me horrified from the other side of my kitchen island and asked, "WHY?  I don't wanna keep bees!"  Stunned, I asked why they were so opposed to bees, and they replied, "Because they'll sting us and they're no fun at all.  And why do you want bees anyway?"  I told them, "Well, because bees are good for the environment, I like their honey, and it's important for us all to learn about their lives and how they contribute to our world!"  As one, they rolled their eyes.  Then Sarah stated matter-of-factly, "MOM, you know we can just learn all that stuff on the INTERNET, right?"
And so the score is now:
Well-intentioned Mom: 0
Technology: 1
Who am I kidding?  Technology won out a long time ago.  Maybe I should be the one living out in the tiny hobo camp. :/

Thursday, December 4, 2014

RIP Hermie the Hermit Crab

Our family had it's first pet death yesterday.  Sarah ran up to me while I was between loads of laundry, shouting, "Mommy, I think Hermie's dead!!" Hermie, one of our three pet hermit crabs, has lived with us for a year now, and has been well liked by the children and surprisingly well cared for, given that after the first couple weeks showing them how to care for their pets I pretty much left it all up to them.  I asked Sarah, "Are you sure he's dead?"- because, well, hermit crabs, to me, are even more boring than fish.  Pretty much they stay underground below their sand 80% of the time, only surfacing to eat, drink, poop, and tip their little metal thermometer upside down to drive the kids crazy ("Ugh, they did it AGAIN Mommy!").  Really, I'm shocked these creatures are so well loved. Sarah responded, "Yeah, don't you remember I told you last week I thought he was acting funny?"  "In my defense, Sarah, you said he wasn't moving much and didn't seem interested in food... that pretty much represents his normal state of being 8 months out of the year... so how do you know he's dead?"  "He's limp when I pull on him.  Usually he pinches me when I do that," she said sadly.  "You mean, he's just flopping around?"  "Yeah, like I could just pull him right out,"... and with that, I knew poor Hermie was really well-and-good dead.  I immediately pictured this in my head, as I prepared myself for the tearful, heartfelt goodbye Sarah would want to have for her deceased shellfish:
I should have known we never do anything like normal people.
"Do you want to have a funeral for Hermie?" I asked sympathetically, expecting tears.  "No, but can I get another one today at Petsmart? I think they have them there." - You may have heard me rolling my eyes at that moment, so heavily did I do so.   Sigh.
"Ok, we'll get you another hermit crab sometime soon... I know Darth Pinchy (Caleb's crab) would like a friend in there and Pinky Pie (Hannah's crab) never comes out of the sand [seriously,NEVER. I'm afraid to say she may have kicked the bucket, too, but I'm not going digging for her- corpse removal is not my job]."  So I left her with the instructions to get rid of Hermie's body.  "Should I take him out of the shell?"
"EWWW, no!  Just figure something out."
And with that, Sarah threw Hermie's poor little hermit crab body out the window.  :(  When I found out, I chided her for treating her beloved pet so callously, but she replied that she wanted him to be out where his body could feed some other animal.  Ok, well, that's not so bad, I thought.
Meanwhile, the 6 year old was out riding his big wheel in the driveway.  20 minutes after my conversation with Sarah, I hear Caleb shouting to me from the door, "Momma!  Come see!  I found Hermie out in the front yard and he's DEAD!"  Uh-oh.  I thought, finally Hermie would be remembered with tears from my sweet boy.
"Yeah, honey, Sarah found him dead in his cage and he was dead, so she threw him outside."
"Oh, ok. Well I got his shell for you."  "Say what?" I called back from the laundry room.  "I got his shell.  I took Hermie out." And with that, my son rounded the corner to where I was with poor little Hermie in one hand and the shell in the other. "EWWWWWW... GET THAT THING OUTTA HERE!" I said in my head.  In my head. It took effort not to let it out, but I just kept thinking, "must. teach. compassion!"  So instead, I replied, "Baby, that's Sarah's pet and you all loved him.  Could you please go give him a proper burial?"
"Sure!"  And with that, he hopped out of the room, gleeful to have a guy job.
20 minutes later... "Caleb, did you give Hermie a burial?"
"Oh, no.  I played with him a little bit and then threw him out for the animals to eat."
 "So much for teaching compassion," I thought to myself.
... then I realized he never said "wild" animals...

"Wait, you didn't feed Hermie to the CHICKENS did you?!! CALEB?!!"
And so, the circle of life continues.      Sigh.