Time to celebrate

I think Hell Month is just about ended. It was a doozy.

Bill drove himself to work today, and managed just fine. I will no longer need to take him to and from physical therapy three mornings a week.

The boys’ last fencing class was today, and the academy is not continuing their weekday, morning lessons. They begin their next session on Saturday at noon (and thank goodness, they will let Billy take the next level even though he is not yet 9). So, Saturdays are a bit crammed, but Thursdays are not. And Bill can drive (Praise the Lord, all you lands).

Tomorrow, Fritz should be mostly finished with Week 8, and the other kids will complete Week 7. We are 2 weeks off from where I planned to be, but I have to be happy with this. My van is really not a good classroom, and the kids have worked hard under bad conditions.

Right now, the house is mostly clean and tidy, and the classroom no longer looks like the enemy has targeted it with a propaganda leaflet drop. The dishes are almost done. Two out of three dirty clothes hampers are empty, and what is clean and dry is folded. The washer and the dryer are busy with more.

Even a big stressor of the month – filling the heating oil tank (or rather paying for the filling of the heating oil tank) miraculously resolved itself this morning when I reconciled my checking account and realized I hadn’t entered one of Bill’s travel reimbursements. The travel voucher covered the cost of the oil with some to spare.

Which is why I called Bill and suggested we finally “pay” the kids for their earned kids’ meals at whatever fast food joint is between here and his work. We haven’t eaten out in months, I think, (and I count take out as eating out), and the kids had been earning points to get their own meal with their own soda and their own toy for some time. I’m not sure what Bill and I will have, but as long as it’s not cooked by me, I’ll be happy.

Right now, life looks good.

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Games children play

My children have a lot of games they like to play in the car.

First, there is the “punch buggy” game. I had never heard of this until I met my husband, and by then I was too old to find it amusing. My husband thinks it’s a fine game, and he taught it to the kids.

Next, they added the license plate game. Shout out the state of any non-Virginia license plate you see. Today they had to hash out the rules over the D.C. plates they see. “It’s not a state,” argued one boy. “And we live in the D.C. area,” argued the other. So, I guess D.C. plates are out.

The newest game is vehicle identification. Not normal cars, of course, but who can be the first to spot the other things on the roads?

My favorite game is the one using Obama campaign signs for target practice with their imaginary guns and other weapons. I don’t know where they come up with this stuff.

They play ALL these games at the same time. I don’t know if they keep score or not. So, on the way home this morning from Bill’s office, this is what I heard:

“Truck!”
“Bus!”
“Maryland!”
“Truck! Taxi! Truck!”
“Maryland”
“Truck!”
“Punch buggy green!”
“Truck!”
“Truck!”
“Ambulance!”
“Fire fighters!” {Hail Mary, full of grace…}
“Pennsylvania!”
“Bus!”
“Taxi!”
“Taxi!”
“I already called that one.
“The yellow one?”
“Yeah.”
“Oh. Bus!”

Then as we approach the median whose grass is obscured by the two dozen blue signs planted in it…

“Everybody! Get ready to fire!” (That was Katie.)

And when we were close enough, the van erupted in a cacaphony of noises which my scant skills in onomatopoeia cannot do justice.

Mary: getting bigger, growing up

Bill is learning to walk again. He’s about on par with Mary: they do just fine if they’re holding on to something else.

*******

Mary inches along on tippy-toe with her eyes right about at the level of the desk, her little fingers reaching out for the interesting looking objects she espies: cell phone, scotch tape, bobbin, coffee mug (full and hot), magnets, pens, Magnificat.

*******

We have these dolphin bath toys. Mary can successfully place a dolphin inside the floating ring. I’m impressed with her skill. Best yet, she’s impressed with her skill. She cackles and claps to praise herself.

*******

Mommy’s lap belongs to Mary. Peter is not welcome to share Mommy’s lap. She pushes at him and fusses if he dares snuggle with her mommy. It was not long ago that she smiled and happily curled up at my breast with her body on Petey’s legs and her arm patting his as we all cuddled together.

*******

I gave Mary some scrambled eggs for the first time the other day. “Good?” I asked her, and she smiled and clapped in response after every bite. My older boys had jarred baby food. Katie had homemade baby food. The last three have gone pretty much straight to table food. They have been my best eaters so far, although for some reason my three year olds develop weird food preferences. Peter has suddenly stopped eating tomato-based sauces (except ketchup, of course). The pasta must be plain, and he’ll only eat the crust of the pizza. Jenny, now 5, is slowly coming out of her own food issues. So, I will enjoy this baby who loves everything I put in front of her knowing that in a year or so, she will throw a fit if I cut her pancakes the wrong way, and a year after that, she’ll decide that she doesn’t “do” pancakes.

*******

Mary has never been a fan of the car, and as she’s gotten older, things haven’t improved. I’m considering going to the Saturday Vigil Mass just so that one day a week, I don’t (Mary doesn’t) have to get in the car. It’s tough being the baby in an active family.

*******

Mary likes soda cans. We don’t normally have them, but there were leftovers from our Oktoberfest. Last night, she pointed to the one next to Bill and made her “gimme” noises. Bill said no, and she gave him a look of shock: No? What do you mean, no? I’m sorry, I can’t process that. I always get what I want. I’m the baby!

She’s getting big.

Baby’s second "words"

There’s a Bill Cosby routine about dads teaching their sons football. Working with them for years, practicing the throwing and the catching. Spending hours in the cold to watch them play. The boys grow up and get on their college teams. They make a big catch on a nationally televised show, and with the camera in their face, what do they say to the world?

“Hi, Mom!”

This is payback, of course. Moms are the ones with the swollen bellies and bulging veins. Three months of vomiting, perhaps a respite, then 4 months of sciatica. Hours of labor, the pain of childbirth. Then months of leaking and sore breasts. Mounds of diapers and hundreds of wiped bottoms. And inevitably, what is a baby’s first word?

“Dada!”

Mary has been saying Dada for quite some time. I guess she sort of says Muh for me, but I refuse to accept that as a word. It’s just babble. I mean, Muh? What is Muh?

But she definitely has a second “word” now. She lifts her shirt, tickles her tummy and says, “tikki!”

It’s how I fill my days: tickling babies and laughing when they tickle themselves.

life with many kids

On the way home from ballet yesterday afternoon, I stopped by the library. As we left, the older woman in front of me turned, smiling, and said that another woman had said I had left one at home. And then she was gone before I could figure out what she meant.

As I made my way to the van, I realized that Fritz, who was not with me, must have been the “one I left at home” (he was camping).

Which meant that somebody had seen me there before with all six kids. I think I’ve taken all six there twice in the last four months.

Holy cow, I thought, I can’t even keep track of how many kids my acquaintances have, let alone the offspring of a perfect stranger.

Somebody is always watching. And counting.

*******

I finally put something in the car for me to read while sitting and waiting. Mary has gotten past the “hold me constantly” stage which made reading difficult. And she’s not yet at the “holy terror” stage which requires a delicate balance of freedom to roam and explore with vigilant supervision and loving restraint to prevent her from destroying property and injuring herself or others. (She’s almost there, but not quite.)

Several times in the last few weeks I’ve been left to amuse myself while Mary happily played with puzzles or books. And I’ve been reading the various parenting magazines that were in the waiting rooms.

How to encourage manners in your child.
Why you should give your child every vaccination possible.
Healthy things to pack your child for lunch.

I am so beyond these magazines.

I’d like to see articles geared toward life with more than 2.2 children.

Bilocation: how to get four kids to four different activities at once.
Paying for piano: thrifty ideas from thrifty moms.
Orthodonture: does your child really need braces or can he wait until you’re done paying for his sister’s?

One article I saw was about disciplining other people’s children. Years ago, I was uncomfortable stepping in when another parent was lacking. Gee, lady, can’t you keep your tot from whacking my son with the sand shovel? Nowadays, I’m not so uncomfortable, I just don’t want to. Look, lady, I’ve got six to watch, you have one. Pick up the slack!

One section in the article was about What to Do if You Lose Your Cool. Situation: mom drops off kid. An hour later, you find her kid and your kid climbing on the roof of the shed. You yell at them to get down. The article suggested that, at pickup time, you tell the other mom that you yelled so that she doesn’t just get his side of the story and think you’re a bad mom for yelling.

(Ahem.)

This is a public service announcement. If your kid is doing something dangerous at my house (and I don’t care if you’re there or not), I’m going to yell. And I won’t tell you about it later, because I will have forgotten all about it.

Saints, Alive!

The homeschool group did it’s All Saint’s Day party last night. In attendance:

St. Martin, preparing to cut his cape in half (store bought several years ago – see Bill)

St. Boniface Pius X Ignatius of Antioch, whose feast was yesterday (also store bought and reworked – see Medusa) Billy had trouble deciding.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary (yes, I made it, no, I’m not proud. It is, quite honestly, poorly done.)

Mary, Mother of God (Bill bought me that scarf in Afghanistan, the dress is Princess Leia with a trim added)


St. George (Bill made this suit of armor SEVEN years ago out of poster board. He is a clever man. Fritz wore it, but all the other children have shunned it, until now. I have saved it, dutifully protected with crumpled newspaper. Our grandchildren might wear it. Or perhaps I’ll have it framed in a shadowbox.)

I wanted Mary to be a dragon for George, but she would have none of it.

My sewing machine has been going non-stop for weeks, it seems. I’m not done yet.