August 29, 2007

1st Day of School

Today was LiL' J's first day of second grade. He goes to a small christian school which is part of our church. It's a K4-12th school. Like all schools, it has its good sides and its bad sides, but I'm very thankful and grateful that LiL' J is there and that he does so well. I am going to miss him during the day, but it will be a lot easier to homeschool the others and get back to more housework. Today is almost my 34th birthday. I have requested no fan fare as this summer has been brimming with fun and lots of spending. I will clean house, run errands, browse Wal-mart with Mooch, and do ordinary boring things like grocery shopping. It's a far cry from 32nd birthday and my 33rd.

I'm very happy with LiL' J's school experience so far. His teacher's genuinely love him and they've done a fabulous job educating him and enriching his life. The three oldest are homeschooling again this year to my shock. I really thought we'd be able to put J into school this year. This is his junior year, but he didn't do what he needed to do to get able to transfer.

Next year he WILL be going to the chrisitan school with his brother, where he went from 4th to 8th, or he will be going somewhere else. I want him to have that senior year experience and I know he does too.

The girls both want to keep homeschooling and they've been working pretty good so far. They're in the 8th grade and when they put their minds to it, they can get most of their work done in four to five hours. J just makes it miserable because he hates school work and resents being home with me and his sisters. I can't say I blame him, but he's put himself in this position. I want go through what I did last year. At least while unmedicated.

This year LiL' J's school has opted for polos for the kids. It's not a full uniform program. The kids get to choose from many different colored polos with slacks or skirts. LiL' J loves his shirts. He loves looking nice and dressing up. He loves that his shirt has an eagle on it. He requests shirts and ties and he wants me to iron them, including the crease in his pants. He'll make a great little republican one day. Or he'll at least dress like one.

Last night I had to go and get some last minute school stuff. Like always, LiL' J was so excited for school to start. He loves school. When the last day of 1st grade came, he came home crying. He didn't want it to be over. He had a great teacher. His 1st grade teacher was the mom of his teacher for K4 and kindergarten. He learned so much, had a ton of fun, and felt safe and secure. He hated saying good-bye to her and to his friends. Two children are gone this year. One boy moved and another is being homeschooled. There's a new boy though. There are four girls and the rest are boys.

There are four Jacobs. How's that for challenging.

I drove LiL' J to school this morning, which means I had to take The Husband to the bus at 6:30am if I wanted the car. Yes, we STILL have only ONE car. This must change and fast. Like every year before, he's so excited and anxious to get to school that I can barely convince him that we don't need to leave forty-five minutes early. I made him scrambled eggs which he gobbled down with ketchup. He took his two gummy-vites and made me rush out the door. I barely got to take a picture. He wanted a transformers lunchbox this year. Last year it was superman. How times change. And usually with kids, it's in sequence with movie releases and post popular superheroes.

1st day of 2nd grade

Here I snuck a picture of him at his desk.

Snuck a Desk Picture

The children got to choose where they sat as long as their feet touched the floor. This sounds simple, but some of the kids are quite a bit shorter than others and they had to switch chairs or desks. Oh, and my son has a highschool musical folder and pencil. What can I say? His sisters are into radio Disney and the Hannah Montana/High School musical shows. A matter of fact, they've watched so many episodes this summer that I think I know them all by heart. I can't take it anymore. My husband assured me it's not that bad. They could be into MTV or Jerry Springer.

But, if you thought Billy Ray Cyrus was a terrible singer, just wait until you see him try to act. It's cute though in a naive sort of way and harmless enough so I'll enjoy this phase with them. It has been worse. Think Barney and the Wiggles.

At any rate, LiL' J is at school and he's a happy boy. He's going to have another great year. I can tell. Call it mother's intuition.

August 27, 2007

In Sympathy

I just found out via round about way, through an email sent by my mom, that my aunt's husband of twenty years died of cancer two weeks ago. He was fighting the cancer for over a year and a half. He left behind a seventeen year old daughter and a daughter who I think is about twenty years old.

I had no idea. The real kicker is that the email wasn't really about the death itself. The email wasn't even sent exclusively to me. It was the kind of email that one sends to a bunch of people updating them on a bunch of different topics, all of which are totally unrelated to each other.

As I'm reading the aforementioned email, and as anyone who receives such emails knows, it feels really just like I'm reading an email intended for someone else. Who? What? Where?

To Anyone On My Contact List:

For anyone who cares, this is what is going on with my life. Yadda Yadda Yadda. Blah Blah Blah. Oh, by the way, your uncle died.
Keep in touch.

I'm not an old friend, former co-worker, or peer. I'm not even a "contact".

This is is how the news is broken to me. I was totally stunned and shocked. I not only had no idea that my aunt's husband was even sick, but I didn't know that they were new grandparents. That's right, apparently my cousin, all of about twenty years old, is a mom. Or maybe it's the seventeen year old that's a new mom. Not likely, but how in the world would I know the difference? My crazy family never keeps me updated on anything. It's nuts.

And it has always been this way. We all say we should keep in touch, but we never do. My mom's one of eight children and I have five first cousins and six second cousins. But I haven't a clue as to who is dying, giving birth, getting married, getting divorced, moving, or even still related to me.

Do they sell belated sympathy cards that say, "My Dear Aunt, sorry you lost the love of your life. I had no idea that he was even sick. Congrats on the new grandchild. Your thoughtful and sympathetic neice."

I don't think so.

August 24, 2007

Sure, Go Ahead, Eat the Grass

Today I took the kids to an edible plants field trip. I'm not sure it was entirely all that interesting, but it got us out of the house and we did learn a few new things. Like, mosquitoes are taking over the world, or at least southeast Wisconsin. Oh, and you can eat certain plants in the wild. You just need to know which ones won't give you the runs or make you want to sandpaper your tongue off.

This will be my second year of homeschooling the three older children and even though J is 17 and enthusiastically indifferent and uninterested in such an outdoor adventure I dragged him along. He may be taller than me, but I'm still the one in charge so he has to do whatever dumb things I tell him to. For now.

Since I'm a member of a local homeschcool group thing, I received notice of this trip and went ahead and signed up. The girls have been taking botany for awhile now and LiL' J is still not in school and I thought he'd like going on a school trip with the big kids.The field trip was at and the science and nature center of Timber-Lee Christian Center in East Troy, Wisconsin. I got to use my new handy-dandy GPS system in getting there. Which is nice, because it gave me a chance to get lost going somewhere other than the grocery store. I'm getting so of bored of having to make u-turns at all the old familiar landmarks, you know. After getting my GPS system I'm an adventure girl now.

Because the instructor didn't have a flyer printed to overview the plants we actually studied, we can't remember a good portion of some of the names, which is OK, because neither of my children ever truly plan on nibbling on wild plants. They prefer the Panda-hut buffet on Lovers Lane to mulberries. Surprisingly though, LiL' J actually was a very good sport on this trip. He was very shy and self conscious at first, which is a new thing since he turned seven, but then he found his groove and he was actually trying the vegetation and even enjoying a few. So, I can't get the kid to sit and eat his roast beast and vegetable medley, however he'll suck on Sumacc proclaiming, "Yum! Tastes like Kool-Aid!”

What does that say about my parenting? I haven't a clue, but I'm sure it's probably not a good thing.

I think the highlight of the trip though was the nature center which housed all kinds of creatures like snakes, turtles, more snakes, dead spiders, dead butterflies, bones, skulls, and some rat like creatures in cages. Or maybe those were bunnies? Same difference.

The instructor and her helpers were pretty cool. In other words, she didn't make my children want to laugh out loud or cover their faces in embarrassment. This is a good thing. We didn't know any of the other parents or children by the way. So the kids were extra shy and quiet which is so not normal for them. Perhaps I should drag them to these things more often.

All in all, if you are in the Milwaukee area and you homeschool or your kids just like nature things I'd recommend Timber-Lee Christian Center's classes.

However, I think Schlitz Audubon Nature Center is probably better. Their hiking trails are superior and it's near the lake. They also have classes for families, adults, and students. You can go there on your own or you can organize your own field trip. Sometimes they can even add you in to another group's trip if you ask.

Here are some memories in pictures:

Here's one of the turtles.

The turtles were quite popular and we all agreed they needed little pleather wetsuits and sunglasses, but we held our peace.

Here are the snakes, which are one of my least favorite creatures.I propose that we exterminate all the mice and rats of the world so we don't need the snakes. Then we can just use child molesters as lab rats. I'm just sayin'.

This one was huge.

One of the things we like about Timber-Lee is that they encouraged the children to touch the artifacts. Almost nothing was off limits.Here is LiL' J and Snoo. She's wearing her Rescue Zone shirt from when she helped teach VBS in Staten Island, New York earlier in the month.

Here the instructor is teaching us about this plant with spicy leaves. I have no idea what it is now though so I guess we won't be putting into our salads. I do not know the girl in the background, but she volunteered to carry the cottage cheese tub of wild grapes, which are very tart by the way.

timmer-lee instructer

We also learned about the wild cherry trees of southeast Wisconsin. They are tiny and very sour.

wild cherry tree

The Sumac tree was sort of odd. I guess people used to take these buds and plop them into water and then they'd stir it around until the water resembled something like a diluted punch. The best way I can describe this plant is that the red flower buds are like furry pomegranate seeds. You don't actually chew or swallow the kernel like things, but you suck on them and then spit it out. This was an interesting experience considering we’re all on a rather narrow path with some 20+ kids. I'm still checking my socks for red stains.

sumac tree

Mulberries anyone? And yes, you will have the song stuck in your head now.

mulberry tree

Here the instructor is telling the children that they will need about 4.5 million berries to make two ounces of jam. Then she asked for volunteers to climb the tree which sounds like a recipe for a permanent stain if you ask me.

That's my child in the forefront. Snoo is always bound to take the most unflattering pictures. It's a curse she gets from her mother.

crazy snoo

J thought he was too cool to pick berries and Mooch tried her best to hide from the watchful eye of my camera all day, but I got a shot of Snoo.

Picking Mulberries

Another shot of the teacher and a learner sniffing the specimen. I just noticed she has a Creation Museum shirt on which is from Answers in Genesis. We passed the museum on the way to and from Whitesburg Kentucky for the reunion trip. I wanted to see what all the controversy was about, but I didn't have time to stop.

Here are a few nature shots from the marshes. Here we learned that we can eat part of the cat skills. The bottom of the plant tastes like a spicy cucumber. The instructor said they are good in stir-fry which is a nice bit of trivia, but a complete loss on me because I have no desire to go plucking up cat skills for my stir-fry. Did I mention they were extremely hard to get out of the water?

As you can see it has been a very dry summer.


They had a huge butterfly collection with butterflies from all over the world.This is just one frame. I'm jealous.

I covet

Here is Ortoise who we all wanted to take home.

ortoise the tortoise

Here's a shot for all you arachnaphobes.


Here is more nightmare material; a drawer full of spiders. This is lunch if you’re Andrew Zimmerman.

drawer full of tarantulas

Here's LiL' J again with his new friend. All of my kids are animal lovers, but I think he's probably the biggest one of them all.

j pets ortoise

admiring ortoise

All in all it was a good day. No real meltdowns, I haven't come down with the West Nile Virus-yet-and nobody broke anything. At the end of the trip we made some tea out of white pine needles, some wild grape juice, and something like mulberry jam.

And since I was in the area I stopped off in Mukwonago to get some goodies at the Elegant Farmer, the famous home of the apple pie baked in a paper bag. I have gotten their pies and breads at the grocery store for years, but I have never actually been to the store. My friend, Ali, even stopped by there last year when she was in town. The place is a foodie’s dream. That place is dangerous I tell you. After a full day out in the sunny outdoors we were all hungry. I ended up getting a berried-treasure pie, a mini caramel apple pie, and a mini apple cobbler. Then LiL' J and Snoo both chose giant cookies. I also got some golf ball sized peanut butter chocolate concoctions that tasted like buckeyes. I also got a dozen ears of corn and some Door County cherry pancake syrup. Not to be eaten together of course. Unless you're Will Farrow.

I had to show restraint because the place was stocked full of must-tries. If you haven't visited the Elegant Farmer yet you should. It's a cute, cozy,little place out in the country, but it's still close enough to I-43 that you can make a run out there easily enough. They had a ton of great fresh produce and frozen fruits. It's a haven for people who love to bake. I think I've gained like ten pounds already. Perhaps I should call Timber-Lee and ask if they have a fat flushing plant available?

August 21, 2007

I have a Vision

I am coming out of hiding for just a moment. The Husband is watching Big Brother upstairs on the bed because he's hurt his back for the millionth time. I keep trying to tell him he needs to ditch his secret dream of being a ballet star. It just doesn't suit his body type. Those pirouettes will kill ya.

I've gotten to where I can't stand the show anymore so I hijacked his laptop and I'm downstairs surfing the web for unglamorous things like blank chore charts, nontoxic dog throw-up remover, and dwarfs who get their goodies caught in vacuum cleaners. None of which have anything to do with the other, but my web surfing often has no rhyme or reason to it. I like to multi-task. Which really just means I get distracted easy.

The kids started whining about how they want to watch Big Brother Cries-A-lot so I gave in. Has anyone else noticed that BB doesn't redecorate the HOH room anymore? That's because they're spending $500 a week on facial tissue for the unstable asshats in the house that the show's executives apparently screened while cranking on Salvia. Or some other strong hallucinogen.

Of course the show has to open with Ambur-sting-into-tears-all-the-time going on about how she's had some sort of slop-induced vision of how she's going to win the POV and her whole game will change. Anyways, is it actually safe for a person to cry that much? Really. I'm worried about her. The girl is going to dehydrate herself.

Wahmber dear, I have a vision for you.

I see crying in your future. You will sob about everything and anything. You will sob so much that your face will contort until you reach a phenomena known as the Ugly Cry. You'll look like the scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz leaking large amounts of fluids from your eyes. Go ahead, rent the movie, don't say I didn't tell you so. You will begin to mumble incohorent things about how much you love people you've only known for two weeks. America will laugh and roll their eyes and there will be contests across the country to see who can do a better Wahmber impersonisation. In order to qualify they must first show emotional and mental instabilities, an insufficient vocabulary, and an ability to lose large amounts of fluid without passing out. And when you get home and see yourself on TV, you will curl into a ball in embarrassment and not just because your eyebrows look awful.

Listen, I'm getting worried for you. Like seriously. Girl, I'm not sure it's safe for one single person to cry that much in their entire lives. And I have four children!

Those four children also want to know what's wrong with the crazy chic who cries all the time and talks out of the side of her mouth. And they're all pretty crazy themselves, so if they're asking-that says a lot. They're rolling around the floor with their feet flung into the air heckling like a bunch of laughing hyenas everytime you sob like a little girl who watched their kitty get squashed. It has become a running joke around here. When I ask them why the maxi-pad wrappers are on the kitchen floor, why there's lettuce in the candles, and why the railings are broke, they burst into fake crying.

"I just don't know why this keeps happening to me. I'm a good person. I don't know how that all happened. I swear, I'm not lying, I've never lied in the house. I swear on my childs life". They've got you done pretty well.

And frankly it becomes very hard to reprimand your child for making fun of people when you are choking back your own laughter. You should see them, they even perfected the squivering lip and forehead stretch. What can I say, my children are talented little beasts.

And to you, Danielle, you really should eat a sandwich. The malnutrition is setting in. You're taking Wahmber off the chopping block? What pray tell for? So we can watch her sob herself to death? And while I'm at it, shouldn't you be looking for the crazy little garden gnome who keeps stealing Jessica and Amber's eyebrows? Cause you might be next.

August 17, 2007

Pillow Talk

The Husband and I were sitting in bed last night, where the magic rarely happens, seeing as though The Children don't know that they're not suppose to stand outside our locked door and ask questions like-How come they call it a sandwich when there's no sand it in? Or my favorite is when they knock on the door and shout into the crevice- I'M BORED.

Anyways, we were watching a movie and I was trying to get comfortable among my hareem of feathered pillows. In doing so I bumped my b**b which hurt because I'm one of the lucky ones that got a prescription for painful br*ast fibroids out of the Cracker Jack box back in 1996. I usually get the weird prizes. I've also noticed that my n**pples are often sore like they've been pinched.

So the pillow talk began.

My n**pples are sore. It's your fault.


Yeah, now along with monster fibroids each month I have sore n**ples. They feel sore all the time like they've been pinched and twisted. And it's your fault.

The Husband with a confused expression: How is that my fault?

Remember ten years ago, back before you realized they were actually attached to my body and had nerves in them, you'd play that stupid game where you were trying to find radio reception. You had lame sound effects and all. Stop pretending like you're senile. Surely you remember. I began to question whether I should have ever married you. It hurt and now my n**pples are broke.

Looking totally puzzled now: What are you talking about? You can't be serious. You had four children chewing and gnawing on them for like five years each and you're telling me it's my fault that your n**pples hurt? That's insane.

That's not it. Besides, it was three out of four kids. Not four. Get it right.

Are you sure? Wasn't there some neighbor kid or something?

Phish-whatever. I'm not talking to you anymore.

And that was our pillow talk for the night.

August 08, 2007

Pizza and Jesus

What do they have in common. Well, when you're seventeen, you figure out a way to put two of your favorite thing together. J, Snoo, and Mooch are all in Staten Island right now on a youth group missions trip. They're teaching VBS to neighborhood New Yorkers and tonight at VBS ten kids got saved. One of the kids was a boy from Brooklyn who J described as the quintessential New Yorker. He's in 5th grade-quick-witted, smart, and wry.

The boys didn't think the night could get any better after that. Then God created pizza. New York Style Pizza.

After a late night Bible study, J and two friends went out for pizza. They went to a classier pizza joint. Which is so not the way I've taught him. I told him to go to the dingiest looking place he can find. You know-where you'd be afraid you'd catch hepatitis. That's usually where the best and cheapest food is. But when parents aren't around and The Children have been given $80 for a week (with most meals provided), they're livin' the high life. Right? Only they don't seem to ever take into account how much tax is. They spent $40 on pizza and soda between the three of them. Then they each paid a $7 tip. I need to work on his math.

J calls me at midnight on the cell phone. "I'm so pumped. There's this boy that really looks up to me. He's super cool and he's really funny. I led him to the Lord tonight and I cried when I heard some of the testimonies. I can't believe I cried in front of people. And Mom, I had seriously, like the best and probably biggest pizza I've ever had in my life. You should have seen it. It was the bomb. It was insane. And uh, so yeah. Good night, I love you."

God is indeed good; very good. And my kids are actually turning out alright after all. Heh.