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.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

On Living with Anxiety...

I've been reflecting a bit today on some of my neuroticisms.  Me, neurotic?   I know, who knew, right??  If you know me for real, then deep down under my snarky remarks and my attempts at humor that more often than not leave me with a foot in my mouth, you know I am about one worried thought away from resembling this little lady some days:
Truth is, I've always been a worrier.  When I was little, I worried so much sometimes that I made myself sick.  I would sit up at night having a terrible time getting to sleep worrying about terribly implausible things like house-fires, Freddy Kruger attacks, and/or raging tornadoes. Then, when I became an adolescent, my anxieties turned toward more of a social focus.  I would worry over every little encounter I had with my friends, turning their comments over and over in my head, fretting that I'd said the wrong thing or done the wrong thing and they would hate me forever.  Turns out, a lot of the time I was right, but that had more to do with me choosing the wrong friends than anything related to my own personality.  Ah, hindsight.

Then, when I had children, my anxiety morphed once more. And grew about 5000% worse.  I started to spend EVERY WAKING MOMENT worrying about my children and my family.  The crazy part was, even though I knew I had a longstanding problem with anxiety and fearfulness, I noticed I wasn't alone anymore.  I started to develop wonderful friendships with other Mommies.  Friendships that were far more fulfilling and positive than I ever experienced in my adolescent and teen years.  However, one thing I noticed we ladies had in common (for the most part) was anxiety.  I know the Mother Hen instincts are common, but really what I noticed was that my friends and I were worrying an enormous amount about some things that if it weren't for a few well meaning internet articles ("cough cough... WebMD... cough"), we probably would never have wasted brain cells and time worrying, when all along we could have spent that time scanning Pinterest.  Er...ahem... I mean writing our Mom Advice Blogs.   Time we could have spent baking cookies, or hiding in closets eating those cookies so our kids won't see and ask us to share, was instead spent researching articles on whooping cough vs. common cold at the first sign of a sniffle from our little tykes.  

Apart from the wild world of the internet, though, I think we Mom's contribute to this through our shared advice sometimes.  I remember when my twins were itty bitty newborns, all sweet and pink and, strangely, worm-ish... and (dare I admit it?) utterly boring to hang out with, people would give me advice like: "Sleep when the baby sleeps," or "If you want to improve your babies' health and well being, you should stimulate them with [Insert name of overpriced baby stimulation program or toy here]."  That's really where it starts!  What if I don't want to sleep when the baby sleeps!?  What if I want to use that time for things that I find fulfilling, since the rest of my hours are going to be spent resembling either a moo cow or a sanitation worker??   Worried lest my babies turn out dumb somehow because I didn't "entertain" them, I would sit reading stories to my hairbow-bedecked, squirmy little dears while they stared frustratingly off at the houseplant behind me, leaving me wringing my hands and worrying that my babies had attention disorders.   And don't even get me started on the nightmarishly hellish battle I put myself through over stopping breastfeeding at 5 weeks.  You would have thought I had all the guilt of starving my little darlings to death or burning them on a pyre on the lawn.   All because I had 40,000,000 very well-meaning friends telling me not to give up, and "you can do it!" and "every woman has enough milk... you just have to keep trying!"-- Kind advice, mind you, unless you are that new mom who is willing to drive herself completely mad trying in order to NEVER FAIL HER BABIES, even to the point of hourly emotional breakdowns and teary calls to lactation specialists at 2 a.m..  

Then, when they were finally squared away with a true nutritional source and not dying of thirst from the wee trickle my minuscule lady parts scrimped up for them, and I finally began to feel like I might keep my children alive... well then there were the folks telling me how and how not to lay my kids down to sleep at night.  How my babies should be positioned in a carseat, and for how long.  Whether vaccinations will be an awesome pot-of-gold-at-the-end-of-the-rainbow o' health and wellness, or whether they would end up poisoning my children and causing them to grow to resemble this guy from "Goonies"
"Rocky Road?" ... at least he was a happy guy, though :) 
All of these things were not beneficial to my mental well-being, to say the least.  

As my kids began to grow, the worries became more creative: 
Will my kids catch some horrible infectious condition that so-and-so warned me about if I give them sushi?
Will they get cancer from the microwave like so-and-so says?
Will they be internally decapitated if I turn their carseats a month before the Pediatrician recommended?
Will someone come in and steal my babies in the night because I don't have a security system as advanced as so-and-so?  
Is my children's asthma caused by ____________ that I DID TO THEM?  Because ____________ said it could be related.  
Will my child end up a sociopath because I let them cry it out/didn't let them cry it out, like so-and-so said?  
If I homeschool/don't homeschool my child, will the become a deviant sociopath like so-and-so said?
Is my child's psychopathic behavior the terrible 2's [or 3's... or 8's] or is it happening because I feed my child [Insert non-organic, non GMO food source name here]... because so-and-so, who is an expert, says it is. 

As an aside, let me take a moment to note that the majority of my Mom anxieties did not revolve around the fear of my children becoming sociopaths initially... however, as they age, instead of becoming more normal and no longer doing insane things like licking handrails or chewing shoes, they get SO MUCH WEIRDER and seem to fear death so much less than a sane person should. They put strange things in and on their body parts for the sake of making others' laugh, and have the batcrap craziest ideas for how to solve problems.  Like Sarah's idea: "If I carry my pet chicken upside down when I hold her and sing really loudly in her ear, maybe she will be less frightened of me and finally LOVE ME as I love her. Or at least it'll make her fall asleep [pass out] so I can pet her all I want"  Note: this is one step from desperately creepy on the "how to make an organism love you" list.  So the fear of growing up tiny deviants is slightly justified, I think.    

One of my most dangerous venues for anxiety-inducing advice is the homeschool conference.  Here in VA we have a large homeschool community and multiple opportunities each year to learn from more seasoned ladies and gentlemen.  These people who have gone before us usually have children and grandchildren to tow along as proof that homeschooling isn't a mill for producing socially-stunted puritans, but rather can produce genuinely bright, interesting human beings... sometimes ;) ...  I attended one of these conventions once, and while there I learned so many wonderful things and heard so many wonderful advisements for how to improve our homeschool schedule, our discipline model, and our overall family well-being.  Pages and pages of notes I took.  Hundreds and hundreds of dollars I spent on new curricula I HAD to have.  And you know what?  When I got home I tried to implement ALL of those ideas and notions AT THE SAME TIME because my worries told me what I was doing before that was not just useless, but it was DAMAGING.  I was YELLING at my kids, darnit, and no Proverbs 31 woman does that!  For shame!  I didn't wake up at dawn to have a Bible study so that I could start my day properly rooted in Scripture.   And I didn't have a training program in place to train up my child in the way that they should go, other than my knee-jerk, spank-'em and crank 'em when they're bad and hug 'em when they're good model, which clearly wasn't enough because it didn't involve a chore chart system or a laminated family discipleship model for the fridge.  And I wasn't teaching [insert subject]!  For shame!     

Don't get me wrong.  Not one person at the homeschool conference ever used the term "for shame" or intentionally made me feel bad about my parenting.  The problem with their parenting seminars was that they were just so darn much better at it than I percieved I was!   These people were all amazing parents who spawned and taught wonderful human beings who can recite whole chapters of the classics in Latin and tell you the square root of 98,462 without a calculator. And so the hero worship began and the self-shaming and anxiety came along for the ride.  The guilt was like an angry clown in a sidecar attached to my van on the ride home, yelling at me to get my life right or my children would not ever line up perfectly like the ranks of perfect angels at the conference in matching home-sewed denim jumpers.  And how would I ever get them to spend their school days in carefully scheduled timeslots either playing contentedly with neatly organized workboxes or managing independent study-time poring over the works of Homer and Socrates, as so and so did in her homeschool!!??  

My point here is that all too often I spend my time wringing my hands worrying over things like whether I'm doing enough to help them on their way to becoming kind, courteous, productive little beings because everyone around me seems to have some opinion or advice related to how to make it BETTER.   In reality, though, try as we might to raise our children perfectly, whether as a hovering helicopter mom or a laid-back, anything goes, just-don't-kill-yourself-and-be-home-by-five Mom, sometimes no matter what, our kids turn out to be asshats.  Pardon my french, but it's true.  And sometimes, miraculously, despite all the yelling, crying, and fighting amongst ourselves, our kids turn out to be wonderful people.  I'm trying, then, to remember that I can't control everything.  I can cover my kids in prayer... try my very best, and hope they become wonderful people and not asshats in the end.  In the meantime, because I have anxiety, I will still worry endlessly each night over whatever insane, imagined scenario I can dream up that will leave my life with my family in shambles.  For me, though, I have found two things to conquer the fears I live with each night when the lights go out: 
First, I try distraction. 
I'll bet you thought I was going to say something all churchy, like "I quote Bible Verses and say my prayers"... Sorry!  You forgot, I'm being real here.  I love God, and I'll get back to my relationship with Him on my next point, but I also really enjoy sci-fi and fantasy fiction, and have found that if I get my mind off of reality, sometimes I can forget my worry that Caleb will fall out of a tree he's climbing or Sarah will be attacked by a perturbed, child-pecked hen, and for a little while I can think of the tenor of a dragon's voice if I could hear it, or what it would be like to sail the seas of Narnia on the Dawn Treader.  I can be the hero from whatever story I have just read, or think through what I imagine the next installment of a story will hold in store for me to read when I pick it up from the library.  For me, it's what works, a good deal of the time, anyway.  

But sometimes I just can't get past my fears.  Like a walled castle, they hem me in no matter how desperately I try to distract myself.  Then, somehow images of whatever I fear still manage to sneak their way into whatever place in my imagination I sneak off to.  I could be thinking of Tolkien one moment, and the next I'm worrying about whether I should try to get Hannah off of the inhaled steroids (for her asthma) or leave her to take them, knowing that there are side effects... and off I go on the [oh-my-gosh-I'm-gonna-make-her-a-mutant] worry bandwagon.  I keep trying to change my thought pattern and it just doesn't work.  So you know what works for me then? 

I ask God to hold my hand while I worry. 
What works isn't recalling all the verses I know about anxiety; though I know many and they're helpful when I'm not in one of my half-insane moods. The fix, for me is not found in reading, talking, watching, or listening to anything, or even in a fancy prayer.  I just ask Him to sit with me and hold my hand.  And then I put out my hand in expectation that He'll join me there.  I still worry as I sit, but I know that He's there, too.  I even imagine what His hand feels like in mine.  And that, for some reason, most often closes my eyes and opens the door to dreamland after not too long.   I don't have to say anything or do anything... I just know He's my Daddy and He'll be glad to help me get away from the demons chasing me in my brain if I just call His name and ask Him to hang out by my bedside a while.  It's a good thing, too... I don't know how others do it, but it's what works for me and my anxiety.  

Now if I can just learn to keep my big mouth shut and not be the cause of others' Mom-Induced Anxiety Attacks!  Because I know I can't be the only one who compares myself with others, and goodness knows, with all the wierdos out there in the world, there must be some nutter out there who wants to be just. like. me! ;)  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Heaven help me, It's Wednesday!

Since the advent of the infamous Geico commercial featuring a camel in the office, most of us know that Wednesday is also known as Hump Day.  I, however, would like to find a new nickname for Wednesday. Something like, "Panic and loose your darn mind" Day, only catchier.  It is anything BUT getting over the hump of the week that I feel on that dreaded day of the week.

Am I the only one who lives in a dream world on Monday?  A world where responsibilities magically disappear into a mystical vortex of procrastination? It's a lovely world where I can take my time and get just Monday's tasks done, and even sometimes prepare in advance for the Tuesday, as well.  As a homeschool mom, that means Monday is when I take my schooling time to introduce the oh-so fun and whimsical week's topics-o'-learning, and then spend the next 3-5 hours trying to talk Hannah off the ledge of fury and resentment she teeters on when challenged with new, and therefore presumably difficult tasks ("Oh 'Challenge', you sneaky sneaky Machiavellian beast, you!) while Caleb tinkers with legos and Sarah immerses herself in whatever book she's reading.  Later after Hannah comes off whatever angry tantrum she's served up for that Monday, I smoosh in a load of laundry (to be forgotten about for 2 days or so) and hurriedly throw salad together for Ryan's lunches for the week before making up dinner and collapsing in an exhausted mess after the kids have their bedtime routine.  Okay, so maybe it's not really a Monday dream world, but it is the day I forget ALL. THE. OTHER. THINGS. THAT. NEED. DONE.

So what about Tuesday?  Tuesday is Co-op day, which to the homeschool mom is synonymous with "the day that NOTHING else gets done".  On Tuesdays we spend our mornings in the hurricane of lunchboxes and getting dressed which is commonly known to all regular school parents' experience, but which, admittedly, I SUCK at due to lack of practice and a generalized morning laziness.  The chaotic morning rush is followed closely by a scurrying off of tiny persons in mismatched clothing and unzipped backpacks, and then topped off with the occasional mumbled curse-word from Mom as we tumble haphazardly into the van to rush off to co-op.  After that, from 9 til 2 we learn ALL the things.  That is, all the things Mom doesn't teach the rest of the week, like art, chess, and how to squeeze 9 kids around an ipad at lunch to watch 1 kid play Minecraft.  When co-op is over, it's time to rush to the library to return/exchange books and then trudge back home by 4... where Momma crashes onto the couch and is good for absolutely nothing for the rest of the day. Really, I concede I cannot hack it as the mom who works and picks up kids from school and then works more at home.  I admit it.  Moms who work outside the house totally win the which-mom-is-tougher-War, in my humble opinion. But I digress...

Wednesday, then, is when I remember all the other things that didn't get done on Monday and Tuesday.  Wednesday starts with the crashing realization that we have no bread to eat (because I haven't made it on Monday), no food in the pantry (because I haven't been grocerying yet...yes, "grocery" can be used as a verb in the South), and other than 1 load of mildewy quasi-washed jeans, no clean clothing in the drawers, and usually no toilet paper in any of the bathrooms.  This Wednesday I actually was wakened by Hannah wailing over and over "Sarah!! Help meeeee!" on the potty at 5:30 a.m.  and when I questioned the little dear, she said she'd run out of toilet paper when she woke up a half hour earlier to go potty and had been sitting there crying for the past half hour for her sister to get up and help her get TP.  After I finished secretly giggling over my daughter's poor problem solving skills, I determined that I need to make refilling the TP more of a priority on Tuesdays, lest I have to wake up at another similarly ungodly hour to a wailing child with a heiny problem.

Once my little darling was wiped and sent back to bed, I would have loved to get back to bed for a little nap, but that is when I realized that I have three days left in the week to do everything that must be done to prevent my house from becoming an apocolyptic mess that will crash under the weight of all the dust, crap laying around, and unwashed laundry!  And then, because I'm ME and not the "Fly-lady" or one of these other fabulous, sparkly Mommy-bloggers who start their days before the sun with chores and a leisurely bible study on the Proverbs 31 woman, I proceeded to fret and worry for the next hour and a half before wake up time rather than drag my butt out of the bed to do some of the stuff needing done.  Because that's how I roll. 7 a.m. means we head downstairs, and for the next 4 hours I spend my time alternating feeding people, reteaching all Monday's subjects because not one of us recalls what we did (besides listening to Hannah rage at the unfairness of life), baking bread, and washing 4 loads of laundry plus one mildewy mess from Monday just hangin' out in the washer.  After school I announce that it's pre-lunch playtime, which means everyone is expected to haul their butts outside for sunshine, fun, and games.  This means Hannah and Caleb throw the same epic conniption they have EVERY day at outdoor time, with Caleb howling, "I HATE the Sun!!" and Hannah accusing me of using that time to sit around and eat bonbons and watch t.v. (totally untrue, I assure you... after all, I got that done Tuesday afternoon after co-op).  Lunch is hastily thrown together and served up to 2 sulking tykes one Sarah who would prefer to eat hers in the chicken yard so she can share with Snowflake the leghorn.

"But Momma, Snowflake likes turkey sandwiches, too!"  Ummmm, NO!

Following lunch I squish in a quick workout so I can once more feel powerful and strong like Buffy the Vampire Slayer for a teensy portion of my day.  I love that time... it's a lovely time when everything else melts away and I can usually tune out the children opening the door every 5 minutes to ask if they can come inside yet, and I can live in the fantasy land where I am woman, hear me ROAR.  Unless I'm a teensy bit late with all the other morning stuff, in which case Mommy's workout gets thrown out the door so she can make up time to do the more mundane stuff of life.  At 1 school begins again for another couple hours of History, Science, and Crafts, and then there's a half hour of cleaning up the crafts while I lament the fact that I was moron enough to schedule arts and crafts day for Wednesdays.  It's 3:30ish when we're finished, which leaves me 45 minutes to accomplish alllllllllll my other chores, meaning I can either vacuum, clean up after baking and the dishes rotting in the sink, fold laundry, clean the chicken coop, OR rush off to grocery before I have to get dinner started, orchestrate bathtime, and clean up so we can host Lifegroup at 7. Somewhere in there I have to throw on real-people-clothes, as well, so people won't know that I spend my days in my pj's (I totally do, by the way).  Notice that I only got a couple of the things on my long list of stuff to do done?  Yep, that means Wed. night is spent fretting over how I'm going to get the rest of it done on Thurs. and Friday.

Somehow, it always manages to mostly get done by Friday's end (Grace of God?) but I surely don't care for the Wednesday rush.  But, after all is said and done, I must say, I'm usually grateful for what I DID accomplish on those days, and thankful for a healthy, strong body to work with and a sweet little family to serve    And it's a good thing for Moscato, time with Ryan, and DVR'd versions of my show on Wed. nights, because they make almost everything better at the end of the day. :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

After a brief hiatus...

  Welllllll maybe an almost-2 year hiatus, but who's counting?  Apparently some people are, because in the last couple months I've had LOTS of people asking about when am I going to blog again (okay, maybe not TONS, but at least 4 people, which is something like 100-150% of the total number of adult people I get to converse with in a week!  Staggering numbers, I tell you!).  So what's up?  Where ya been Mel?
  Well let's see... first of all, we are full swing into the elementary school years now, which was really the first strike against blogging for me because NO ONE NAPS.   Did you hear that?  I now have zero moments of silence in this house unless I hand my kids some forbidden contraband item, like sharpies and a brand new unblemished couch,  and say, "Go to town kiddos, Momma's chit-chatting on the internet!"  I am currently still working on inventing some tool to remove my kids from my butt that doesn't involve passive allowance of property destruction of some sort, but it's still in the work-up phase.  Elementary school also means, ahem, that I am teaching instead of doing all-the-other-things.  Everything else waits til 3.  Sigh.  At least I can vent on Facebook from time to time (since what else am I supposed to do but make fun of my kids' silly comments when they are working on worksheets?) but other than that, it's all business from 8-3, baby!
  Strike two for blogging, then, was the removal of TV time from our house.  "WHAT?!" you say. "Are you now AMISH, Mel?"  Believe me, around here some days it feels like it, especially since both removing TV time AND finding out Ryan is allergic to MSG, meaning must be made from scratch.  But, I found my kids were spending time watching t.v. and scheduling their day around their favorite shows, instead of using their time doing kid-things* (*See above note about their idea of fun and property destruction and use your imagination... someone told me those things are, gasp!, actually good for kids and their development, or some such nonsense).   In point of fact, I have not died yet from the removal of the electronic babysitter, but have actually seen positive growth in my children's imaginative play.  Sarah even once told me she likes not having TV anymore because she gets to play longer after school.  I didn't even have to tie her up and tickle her to get her to say it, I swear.   And, bonus, they don't go around singing the stupid jingles from their shows all day, either.   They've now replaced the "Silent E Is a Ninja" rap from The Electric Company with either 1.  Any/all Frozen songs, or 2.  Hilariously misheard Christian-Pop lyrics.  Ah well, you win some, you lose some.
  Then strike 3 came.  Moving.  We moved our whole frickin house-load of stuff from one place to another.  If that's not enough to pause a blog, I don't know what is!  If you knew how much "STUFF" Ryan accumulates, you would understand.  He's like a tall, brilliant, preppy version of "Hoarders".  Friends asked me why I needed to bring along our deli meat slicer or our restaurant grade steam kettle that weighs, no lie, 150 lbs, and I had to tell them its because they're his PRECIOUS and he will lose his schmidt if he ever goes looking for those things and can't find them.  Sigh.
  So now it's a year and a half since moving, you say?  What took so long since then?  Well, reader, after we moved and renovated an entire floor of our house, then we decided to move Mom and Dad into our guest house, requiring a renovation of that guesthouse and the garage.  This was because life with Mommy and Daddy nearbye makes me oh so much more sane and gives me a big bunch o' help when I need it.  But it also took a long time and lots of energy.   Then, because I am a bit unbalanced, I decided to add more creatures to my family that I am responsible for, so we built a chicken coop and added 8 squawking fluffybutts to our property.   One of our little hens is so hilariously mentally unstable with her frequent, prison-break-style, death-defying attempts to get into our neighbor's yard that I not-so-affectionately refer to her now as "Loco" despite Sarah's insistence that her name is "Elsa".   She may get a guest post or two some day... I confess that somewhere deep down I like her pluck and nutty ways.  Or she may end up in the soup.  Time will tell.  
  So let's see... I covered where I am now.  Maybe, just maybe, I'll make it back onto this computer for more than 30 minutes of uninterrupted time again to add more.  Or maybe this'll just explain why it's so quiet around here on Blogger lately.  Who knows?  As it is, I couldn't even take a hot shower for 20 minutes today without having to stop the shower twice to answer, "MOOOOM!  Can we paint the basketball hoop?"  and, "MOOOOOOM!  Can you open my yogurt for me?? Cuz Hannah and Sarah won't come in and help meeeeeeee!"  So, you see, life is happening here, people!  But I sure do hope to make it in from time to time because I very much missed blogging and putting my thoughts down so that I won't forget this crazy life later when it's all boring and quiet and stuff.
P.S.  Did you see I won a "Cutest Blog On The Block?" pin while I was away?  Squeee!!  I have no idea how you get those, but I'm super impressed with myself right now, I won't even lie.