Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Daily Oob Report

And what is today's fashion forward baby using for hair treatment?

Banana with hints of playdough.

Oob urges you to try large chunks, in proportion to your head, just mushed enough to stay put.

Sick Stats

Ah, yes, it's that time of year again. To which I say, "HA!!! WE DIDN"T HAVE A STOMACH BUG ON CHRISTMAS!!!"

Current stats: 4 out of 8 Zoomlians have it with 3 of 8 already feeling fine, thank you.

It started with Oob on Monday and I hoped against hope that it was just a batch of bad bologna.
It wasn't.

Which eventually brings me to today when the kids came racing up the stairs shouting that Klenda was throwing up (in the only carpeted space in the house) and I was delighted.

No, not the Klenda was throwing up, but that she definitely had it and would be over it in a few hours. This is a pretty fast moving bug.

I've tried keeping kids quarantined and sanitizing every surface in the house. I had enough microbiology to know that wouldn't work. Working in the lab, I understand what aseptic technique is and how fruitless it would be to try to replicate it under actual home conditions. But then I had kids and I hated to see them sick, so I just had to try.

It didn't work. And it spread out the agony over a solid month with each kid falling victim 5 days after the last kid got better (and renewing the viral load...).

So now, when the first kid gets it, they stay in bed and watch videos and read comics all day with their brothers and sisters. They get sick quickly and we can decontaminate the house and move on!

Ironically, one of the main reasons I would like to get this one over with is to get the house decontaminated so my folks and sister can come visit in mid February...and have the Christmas we postponed due to other health problems.

Arrgh! We delayed Christmas and got a delayed stomach bug!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Believe it or not, this is our first actual snow this winter. It was only an inch or two, but we seized the day!

Here we have the Emperor sledding west with Leena and Choclo.

Here we have Choclo and Zorg using the "turtle shell" sleds on the southern slope.

Here Klenda and Zorg are building a snow fort with brick snow molds.

Here is Mxyl working on the same project. If you are wondering how large a fort could possibly be built with only an inch or stwo of snow, well... Not large in height. I think it was only one brick high all around, but it was an expansive fort.

And lastly, here we have your daily Oob report. What has Oob massaged into his scalp today?

Cream of mushroom soup.

You may ask: Why does she let him eat smearable food?

I may answer: What else is there? The kid rubbed his head with a bagel this morning.

You may ask: Why doesn't she stop him before he smears?

I may answer: Well he ate 6 (small) bowls before he even thought of using it for shampoo and then I started eating and talking and then we were punning and then... there he was and he was so happy... And, anyway, you must admit, he has remarkably regular baths.

Happy Silly Hats Day!

This is, of course, not to be confused with Crazy Bug Hat Day.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Are We Detecting a Theme?

From the child who must experience things by massaging them into his scalp?

Yes, we are.

That's egg over medium, by the way.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Seven Quick Takes Friday

The "Things I Wish I Had Known With the First Baby" edition.

1. When trying to diaper a wiggly toddler, pretend to sneeze. The sillier the sneeze, the better. Try alternating long with short, high with low, etc. Houdini himself would pause long enough for me to get a diaper on him with some of the sneezes I can now perform. (How's THAT for an under appreciated talent!)

2. Find something you like to do that the little one(s) like to do and do a lot of it. For me this was blowing bubbles and baking. And science experiments. TV does not count.

3. Only have married someone willing to get up with a baby at night. I guess you needed to know that sooner than the first baby. Fortunately, I discovered that the Emperor is a prince among men... Well, he's not called "The Emperor" for nothing!

4. Kids make your life not about you. Yeah, it hurts, but the sooner you figure out that this is a GOOD thing, the happier you will be. Speaking of which, you can give your kids the moon and not be a good mom if you are giving them a bad example of how loving people relate to each other. Having the energy to smile at your husband is worth more than having the house and kids the way you want them.

5. Memorize 5 fingerplays (The Itsy Bitsy Spider, 6 Little Ducks, 5 Little Monkeys, etc.). The 10 minutes this will take will be rewarded during the hours and hours of standing in line you will do when your child is between 4 months and 4 years old. Your child will be happy, the people in line with you will be amused, and the checkout person will tell you how sweet and well behaved your kids are. And you will only feel like a doofus for the first few months you do it.

6. Having lots of kids doesn't make you an expert. You figure out how things work for you and you just keep doing it. At least until you hit a kid that needs something different! It doesn't mean that you're doing it the best way, just cause you did it with 6 kids. Come to think of it: THERE IS NO BEST WAY TO PARENT! We should all have this tattooed onto our foreheads (backwards, so we can read it in the mirror) before we leave the hospital . There may be a best way for YOU to parent, but everyone will be much happier if you don't make your way the gold standard of good parenting. (OK, I guess the exception would be "parenting with love" or something similarly so general as to be unhelpful in the actual details).

7. Bearing that in mind, hang out with people who have more kids than you do. I must admit, I am finding this more difficult as time goes on. Best case scenario, you pick up ideas in a supportive environment. Worst case scenario, it's always more fun to watch someone else's toddler meltdown. And you know they don't think you're crazy. For having kids.

More with Jen!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Klenda!

You're 10!! Double digits!

When you were a baby, you used to like to stick out your tongue. I thought it meant that you had a puckish sense of humor - if I had only known!!!!

You can already pun fast enough to keep up with the grownups!

You are nimble in mind, body and heart.

You are bright- not just a bright brain, but a bright spirit.

You are both a tom-boy and a girly-girl without a pause between.

Best of all, you are open, loving, and giving in a way that reflects God's love and humor.

Thanking God for 10 happy years of Klenda-ness!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Handy Household Hints

You know, of course, that if your kid gets gum in their hair, you can get it out using shortening (or peanut butter).

So, what do you use if your kid gets shortening in their hair? Gum?

(Photo and multiple shampoos courtesy of Klenda and the Emperor!)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Game Blocks

Still no snow, and now it's too cold to go outside, to boot. So to speak.

Fridays tend to be light days anyway, so I decided we'd do game blocks. You may remember that twice a week we do homeschool blocks. Usually we do time with me (often Math-U-See), independent time, chore time, and fun time. The older 4 switch between these 4 activities.

For game blocks we switched it around a bit!

The activities were: Wii Fit, Rosetta Stone Spanish, Board game of choice (with me), and Peggle.

It was so fun, we did it again after lunch! This time we did: Big Brain Academy, Math computer game of choice, Dance Mat Typing, and Chuzzle.

And, thank you Bill, I have
pictures! Klenda is doing Wii fit, Mxyl is playing Battleship (with me), Zorg is doing Peggle, and Leena is doing Rosetta Stone.

That last one is Choclo playing with playdoh and a tractor. He was explaining why he needed a harrow to break up the lumps.

Choclo and Oob do stuff during blocks also, it's just hard to explain how they fit in. I try to have them doing something quiet and interesting near me so that I can occasionally encourage/redirect/save them as needed.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Worth 1000

Oob and Choclo.

The Emperor reading Armorquest to the older Zoomlians!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Big Ummmm.

My good friend Bill read (on the blog) that I needed a camera cable. He brought me one (in real life) while I was waiting for the Amazon one to ship.

First, the good news: The problem I had with the computer reading the pictures from the camera seems to have been a a cable problem!

Now the bad news: I down loaded nearly a hundred photos through windows instead of through my Canon program.

I saw the three folders on the desk top. Fantastic!

I deleted the pictures from the camera.

They weren't folders.

They were individual photos.

To add insult to injury, they were all photos which had been downloaded in early December.


Keeping on the sunny side, I still have a working cable, computer and camera! So I'll be taking some brand NEW photos and downloading them tomorrow...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Camera Cable

has been ordered from Amazon. Pictures, soon! :)

If I'd realized it was only $5, counting shipping, I would have done it much sooner!


The thought that I could help anyone become more organized would boggle the mind of anyone who knew me before I had kids! With help (and through abject desperation), I have become more organized. I had a friend with lots of little kids ask about it, and I thought I would post my response on the blog. I really enjoy seeing other peoples systems and thought you would like to see mine as well as why I ended up where I am. What I'm not sure how to do is import my spread sheets and tables from Word so I can show you my actual lists. If you know how, please tell me in the comments!

I remember when God started sending me lots of kids, I just felt so inadequate. I was more than disorganized, I was a slob. I am not where I should be yet, but I've grown so much in organization and in my relationship with God, and I can see that none of it would have happened with out passing through the crucible you are in right now. It is so hard, but it is such a time of grace. For me, a lot of it was learning to die to self and to let go of what I thought I needed to be happy. The God who created me knew what would make me happy, but I clung so tightly to what I "knew" would make me happy, that I was making myself miserable. Once I started letting go, I started opening up to the delight God was showering me with. Happier Mommy meant happier easier to manage kids, and we were over the hump. That took a long time for me! Slow learner! ;) I ended up doing Fr. Pinto's Plan of Life program, figuring out what God's plan was for me and how He was guiding me, and that made all the difference. But that's another long e mail!
Anyway, He'll supply the grace! I think I know that you go to Adoration? When you are working out a schedule, definitely bring it - it's His opinion that counts!
When my kids were all small, I lived really close to a friend, Eileen, who had a side business giving time management and organizational advice. I was really remarkably disorganized then, not that I am very organized now! One of they key things she did for me was explain how much time I was wasting trying to figure out what to do next. I was drifting through the day trying to "just hold on" because I felt too tired to swim. I have a much easier time now that I have a plan each day. I don't have to follow the plan! But I don't have to worry about what to do with the kids next. Part of my problem was that the kids were getting into trouble because I didn't have specific stuff for them to be doing. I have tons of books of "stuff to with your baby/toddler/preschooler/etc." if you are interested. And I escaped the, hmm, we need dinner in half an hour... which drove me crazy.
Eileen had a bunch of different kinds of lists. She's an educator, so she is really into "different people work differently". I will attach a copy of my current weekly schedule. What I do is sit down every Saturday with my calendar and this sheet and fill in what needs to happen each day (like co-op, Dr. appointments, Mass), then I fill in chores (which days will I do laundry? Clean bathrooms? anything I think should be done that week). Next I put in homeschool stuff and things I'd like to do (playdates, outings, library). Then I fill in the menus based on how much time I'll have to cook each day. Wednesdays we have a lot of crock pot meals because of co-op, for example).
Here's the thing: My "week plan" has changed as the family and my needs have changed. My friend was able to help me in a way that books were not because she helped me "grow my own" schedule. I loved the book Mother's Rule of Life, but trying to do what she did, didn't work for me because it felt like I was imposing her rules on my life. Working out what was key for me and what I needed made my schedule something that helped me instead of something else I had to do. I was serving the "externally imposed" schedule, so I couldn't keep it up, but when I developed my own schedule, it served me and made my life easier. This is not at all a knock on that book (or the many other organizational books I have read)! I got ideas from it that I could use, and I hope the stuff I send you gives you ideas that you can use. I can only imagine it would be overwhelming for some one to try to fill in all the charts!
I have a second sheet that I print out each week (both are posted in the kitchen), and that is my homeschool log. I use it to keep track of what I've done, to make sure I'm not neglecting any subjects (or children!), and to give myself a sense of accomplishment. By accomplishment, I guess I mean completeness. I know I have done enough and I can see I've done something on days where it feel like I have gotten nothing done! Those days can really wear you down, so it helps to be able to see, yeah, we didn't do much today, but the rest of the week was great, or yeah, we did do stuff, just not everything I wanted. I will attach several versions of that because it changes almost every year.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Seven Quick Takes Friday

1. My favorite Christmas tradition which we started with the Zoomlians is this: we play with the presents as soon as they are opened. As in, everyone opens a present, thanks the giver and then goes and plays with it for a few hours. Then we open another one. Doesn't that take a really long time? Yup. About 12 days.

2. Watching your kids surpass you is both weird and wonderful. Mxyl now has an intuitive understanding of how things fit together that I can only dream of. It's both freeing and unnerving to hand him a box of parts that I can't put together and say, "Here, could you do this for me, please?"

3. Klenda is a careful shopper. She carefully examined all the model horse kits before choosing the one with a plaster mold. The other kits had one or two horses, but with the mold, she can make millions!!! Bwa ha ha! The beginning of her plaster horse empire!!

4. Zorg and I are reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret. It is an amazing book! And then I found out that great swaths of the plot are real history. Amazing, simply amazing for an adult or a child interested in the power of the imagination to heal and sustain us.

5. Leena is learning more about squirrels. Her latest discovery: when a squirrel twitches it's tail at you it means it wants you to go away. Also, squirrels love squirrel food. And if you bury the peanuts for them, they love to dig them up! And squirrels love Bejeweled. At least the Queen of the squirrels does.

6. You would think that Choclo's very favorite thing about winter would be warm chocolate (like hot chocolate only, well, cooler). You would be right. Ice is good. Frost is neat. Snow I'm sure will be great if we ever get any. But warm chocolate... Mmmmm.

7. Oob has, at long last, mostly left the climbing on the table stage (unless you are foolish enough to leave anything spillable, squishable, smearable, breakable or otherwise interesting up there). Hooray! Now he's just pulling the books off the shelves. True, we have more books than tables (3000+ to 1) but it feels like Victory.

More with Jen!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Oob's Problem

Yes, we must admit it... Oob has a drinking problem.

He despises sippy cups (and shows his contempt by prying off the lid with his teeth). He wants to drink straight from a cup. As in "straight up". As in "using a motion which some people use to toss down shots of vodka."

This does not work with apple juice.

Juice in the nose, juice in the clothes,
jucy, juicy, juicy juice.
Juice on the floor, still he begs for more,
juicy, juicy, juicy Oob.

Still no camera cable, it's an old picture. 5 points people!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

High Tide!

We are really swimming along here! The kids love chemistry. We had co-op today so we didn't get to do any experiments. At dinner Klenda wanted to know what the element of the day was. As in hey-what-are-you-trying-to-pull-here-skipping-the-element-of-the-day? I got an additional, "We didn't even put on our lab coats today!" burst of indignation from Mxyl.

In case you are wondering, today's element is Beryllium. We are starting the alkali earth metals (doing them by group since the groups have similar characteristics. And that's how the book does it.

Speaking of which, IMHO, that book is worth 2 or 3 times what they are selling it for.

Anyway, we are now 3 days in and have done 8 elements and 14 experiments not counting the ones we made up while studying acids and alkalis. The kit included an indicator solution, so we HAD to go around the house looking for acids and bases (alkalis). So, it's not technically an element a day; that's why we home school.

Um. Let me clarify: we home school so that we don't have to limit ourselves arbitrarily, not: we home school so we don't have to learn how to count.

Moving right along.

Still no camera cable, although we have a 2 point bounty on it. Kids have been looking, but I think they have given up. I may have to up the bounty.

Ooooh! I forgot to mention: we got a telescope for Christmas!!! After Chemistry and early US history, we'll go for Astronomy! Homeschool curriculum jam, gotta love it!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Happy New Year/Once More Into the Breach!

Sorry for the lack of posts! I have been enjoying the vacation, recovering from laryngitis, and losing my camera cable, among other things. I have lovely pictures from Christmas...but they are stuck on the camera!

We did have a very beautiful, joyful Christmas. Among the many fun presents, the 4 older Zoomlians all got lab coats and a brand new chemistry set!! Thank you Grammy Ann!!

After a month or so of light academics, we are itching to plunge into high tide. Naturally, we are planning to dive into Chemistry! Zorg wanted to be sure I would wear my lab coat, too (since my lab issued lab coats with our names embroidered on them, I got to keep mine after I "retired"). But of course! I will have to get a picture of all of us in our lab coats. And find the photo cable.

I will need to pull out the enormous Periodic Table we made a while back. We put made pictures for all of the elements: Al has some aluminum foil, C has some coal, He has a picture of a balloon, etc. We also got a book (can I find it?) of what I think of as the elements with attitude... Done Manga style, each page has an intro "by" each element showing it's chemical personality. I plan to do an element a day. We also got The Mystery of the Periodic Table. May be a good read aloud if I get my voice back... And I could show you pictures if...

And! Have I mentioned that one of the many wonderful things about my dear in laws is that they get the way we learn? And that means every Christmas we get a new stock of fascinating things to jump off into! Among other things, they gave us several fascinating books on how to immerse yourself into early American history including another book from the amazing Camella Van Vleet!

Oooh! And we got the Rosetta Stone Spanish! And we want to do more typing with the Scottish Goat! We are actually kind of bubbling over with new ideas and things we want to try.

Speaking of which... We tried a new way of ringing in the New Year. We set the clocks on Greenwich Mean Time! No kidding! That put midnight at about 7 PM local time so everyone was old enough to count down the seconds. We made silly hats (which I could show you if...) and signs and yelled,and toasted with pomegranate 7-up. Then we ate fancy cocktail food and watched the Sydney fireworks on You Tube and then some Cirque de Soliel (the Emperor's Christmas present).

Happy New Year!