Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A new thing to be snooty over

Worse morning sickness is correlated with smarter children. Although it doesn't seem clear what it means if you're not as sick with one of the kids. Still, I should have a crew of geniuses on my hands here.

The Sleep Lottery

Lottery isn't the right term. As DOB points out, if it really was a one-in-two-million chance of getting a decent night's sleep I wouldn't have made it this far. It's more of a casino game: every once in awhile you get a big payout, but you know in the long run the house will always win.

Every night I go in, nurse the babies one last time, check to make sure the big kids are each asleep in their own beds, and leave with the suspense: Will it be tonight? Will I really get to sleep all night long? Or will there be wails at 2 a.m.? Lost water cups? Stuffed up noses? Or . . . the 800-lb. gorilla . . . a sodden bed? More irritatingly, will all the kids sleep while I lie awake in the throes of a new idea? (Some people get insomnia from worry and despair, I get it from . . . well, any thoughts really. My brain doesn't like being turned off.)

Sleep is like money in another way. As long as you're racking up the debt, you don't really notice it. It's when you start trying to pay it down that you realize just how big it is.

Monday, April 27, 2009

So Then What Happened . . .

The fan was supposedly fixed over the weekend. It started making funny noises this morning and died just now.

Meanwhile, DOB was running late owing to feeling cruddy and was just about to get in the shower when the door to our room blew shut.

No big deal, except that the doorknob was off. It's been falling off for awhile, but being mechanically declined we have just been shoving it back together and using it as is. This time, though, the doorknob had fallen off and DOB had left it inside the room, which meant opening the door was now impossible. Also DOB's work clothes were still in the bedroom.

We tried anyway, unscrewing anything screw-like on the outside, but it turned out this was purely cosmetic. The inside parts were inaccessible from that side. So were the hinges.

Fortunately the window was open (of course, if it hadn't been the door might not have blown shut, but it tends to shut itself anyway), so with the aid of DOB and a stepstool I was able to climb in from the flowerbed.

(Of course it wasn't burglary; burglary requires an intent to commit a felony. DOB was probably ready to commit a felony, but he wasn't the one who climbed in.)

It would have been really, really funny to watch . . .

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cunning Plot Twist

In an unforeseen development, the broken house fan necessitated opening the windows and running portable fans all night. This, in turn, muffled the sounds of D4's restless sleeping, allowing me to get most of a decent night's sleep.

Maybe this script isn't so bad.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Calling Hollywood

The babies have colds and have been up all night for the past two nights. Now I've got the cold, too. By the Parents' Sleep Index I've been getting about negative six hours of sleep.

Yesterday D1 was trying to set the table and tripped over D4, scattering broken glass across two rooms and cutting her hand. While I was bandaging her hand, D4 slipped on a Duplo piece and bloodied his lip. D3 was screaming on general principles. With everyone overdue for lunch and on the point of total collapse, I called DOB home from work to clean it up while I whimpered in bed, eating macaroni.

I burnt the pan of green beans I was fixing for the babies and left three quarts of chicken broth on the counter all night instead of freezing them.

D4 learned how to climb this week and D3 learned how to unscrew small, chokable caps from bottles.

Early this morning, after being awakened by D4 crying in his sleep for the seventh time, I smelled smoke. DOB and I searched the entire house (DOB just got a whiff, but I kept smelling it), finally deciding it was just dust in the air unit. However, it was by then practically time to get up (and D4 was crying again). We called the A/C man to come, as it was time to get the unit serviced anyway. He serviced the unit this morning, delaying DOB's departure for work.

Now the house fan has quit, so even if the A/C worked it would do us no good. It's going to be 81 degrees today, and I get ill at temperatures above 74.

We're trying to find the script writer for this week so we can fire him.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A Day with D2 . . .

Pondering Ethics:
D2: I played in the sugar!
QOC: (horrified) What made you think that was OK?
D2: You weren't watching.

Doing the Math:
D2: There are sixteen holes between my fingers and toes!
D2: Hey! One worker woman and two worker men makes three worker persons!

Making Threats:
D2 (to D1): I will be mean to you and will not let you be a girl anymore!

(Yes, he does use a lot of exclamation points.)

Oh, the Places You've Been

Taken from The Common Room, but I saw it at the Treehouse first.

the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now...

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut (?) / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland ? / Massachusetts / Michigan* / Minnesota* / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana (?) / Nebraska / Nevada (?) / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania (?) / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont (?) / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming (?) / Washington D.C /

The asterisks represent transfers at the Detroit and Minneapolis airports, as I don't recall ever being elsewhere in the state. The question marks are states I think I've passed through on road trips but don't positively remember for sure.

I think I need to pay more attention. :-P

Monday, April 20, 2009

Five Things I Like About Motherhood

Sara tagged me for this and at first I thought she'd already covered the best stuff in her post. But I think I have my own particular things.

1. Reading out loud. What better excuse than having kids to re-read all your childhood favorites and discover new treasures?

2. Siblings playing together. I am so grateful I could have more than one child; I really wouldn't have the first notion of what to do with only one. Even though I ask myself, "What WAS I thinking to have four so close together?" almost every day, I love that they'll be able to grow up together, that we have such a great mix of boys and girls and introverts and extroverts to keep each other balanced and make a strong team and have a lot of fun.

3. Watching them figure things out. I love watching the light bulbs go off, and I get a curious pleasure out of it when I wasn't involved at all and it wasn't one of those things that you can pull up in maternal bragging competitions. Last week D1 was sitting on the porch eating lunch and suddenly pointed to the neighbors' house and said, "Hey! We are their neighbors!"

4. The way babies giggle when you tickle them. There's nothing like getting two of them going at once.

5. Naptime. Is it ok to have that on the top five? It's such a wonderful time of day . . .

I tag: Wendy, Carrie, Melissa, Songbirdy, Mary

Friday, April 17, 2009

Duckling Moments

D1 and D2 draw no distinction between poems, songs, and stories told aloud, which is why I can get requested to "sing that one about the three pigs again." It's also why I got serenaded with a rather operatic (and nearly word-perfect) duet rendition of Madeline all through breakfast prep yesterday.

Yesterday I took D3 and D4 out to play in the grass. D3 tested what happens to cute knit pastel shirts when you drag them across asphalt. D4 alternated between crawling over to the neighbor's yard and trying to climb onto her (parked, off) lawnmower, and crawling over to the porch and trying to crawl up the steps. I tried to figure out whether it was more urgent at any given moment: to pull the tiny rock out of D3's mouth or go chase down D4. It's going to be a busy summer.

I spotted some fifth-grade girls watching younger brothers at the park a couple of weeks ago and worked up my nerve to ask them if they'd like an after-school job over here. So far it's working out pretty well; they come over twice a week and feed the babies their supper and play with the big kids outside while I try to get caught up on basic housework. The kids are just wild about them, instead of being just wild at that hour of the day. Definitely an improvement.

I really, truly am getting my garden in. And things are coming up! Maybe we'll even get to eat something out of it. Also I got some flowers started and transplanted to fill out the front flower bed, which has a lovely array of spring bulbs but tends to get pretty ragged the rest of the year. If I can just have a few minutes here and there between rescuing babies to pull weeds and water, it should be great.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter Pictures

Definitely an improvement over last year: everyone was healthy, dressed in clothes that had actually been ironed, and the house was clean!
(Of course, perhaps the prospect of resurrection is more exciting when life is the pits, but then there's no harm in celebrating when we can.)
Now to recuperate.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Random Online Behaviors That Irritate Me

Replying to questions with the helpful information that they have nothing to add to the discussion because they don't do anything of the sort but they just can't resist the opportunity to blather on and on about something not really related at all because otherwise how would they get to hear the music of their own keyboards clicking?

Putting half of the reply in the signature (says QOC, who is mystified why people think it's different from just coming out and SAYing whatever it is they want to say, only with far less awkward sentence structure.)

Responding to a request for information on X product or program with a straight thumbs-up or thumbs-down reply rather than any information on why you liked or disliked it--what use is a vague survey of reactions? Perhaps the thing that drove you crazy is exactly what I'm looking for, but I'll never know if you don't give some detail.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

An Equation

2 pairs of overalls x 10 snaps x 6 diaper changes a day = 1 mother who will be very glad when t-shirt weather is here to stay.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

To See the Cherry Hung with Snow

It's not just a poetic metaphor.


At least I picked most of the tulips yesterday.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Seven Quick Takes Friday

1. Thanks to a very generous person, the babies' early bedtime, the big kids being at Grandma's and Cicero keeping an ear out for the babies, DOB and I actually got out of the house last night! And had a conversation that didn't even bring up the question of, "Why can't we get to bed any sooner?"

2. I think D4 has a complex about being the youngest. Why else would he have the most teeth the soonest, be the earliest crawler, and on track to be the earliest walker? He'll show everyone that those ninety minutes mean nothing!

3. D3 has this weird habit of pulling her own hair while she's nursing. At least it's not D4's hair. He bit her toe while she was nursing this morning. It's never dull.

4. I love rainy days when the big kids are at Grandma's. I have no guilt about not bothering to take the babies outside and can just get caught up on housework and read for once.

5. I love sunny days when the big kids are here. They're so much bigger and noisier and wilder and more full of ideas than they were even a year ago, and they have so much fun outside together. D1 usually has hauled off a stock of kitchen implements and is making some concoction with mud and water and leaves. They race bikes down the minuscule slope in the driveway, or send the wagon spinning wildly out of control, or just stomp in the mud and then complain when I have to scrub their feet. Catching up on the dishes is a lot more fun when they're playing in the back yard.

6. I'm worried that my raised beds are not raised high enough. It's still awfully soggy out there, and the only place to stand to work on the beds is in three inches of muddy water. Of course, it's still very early for planting. Maybe I will still manage to grow something this summer. Or maybe I will just spend all summer pulling dirt out of the babies' mouths.

7. While out last night I saw shoes that looked like I might want them. I didn't actually buy any, of course. But I am getting tired of always wearing ugly (or at best, plain and clunky) shoes, yet unwilling to give up comfort for any consideration. The thought that there might be shoes out there that are cute yet comfortable gives me hope. Unfortunately I can't remember the brand name, but hopefully the store will still be in the same place when I make up my mind that I'm really ready to buy shoes.

More Quick Takes at Conversion Diary.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Eating Books

I read a book that annoyed me. This is always more fun to write about than books that pleased me, so take it for granted that I have read many books over the past few months that were perfectly enjoyable.

The annoying book looked promising. It was called Deconstructing Penguins and it chronicled a parent-child book club started to help children get more out of their reading. Now as far as I'm concerned, the pinnacle of life is sharing books with my children, so I expected to find it delightful.

What they did, in this book club, was tell the children (starting with second graders) that every book is a mystery in which a message is encoded, and that to discover the mystery you must analyze the book to determine the protagonist and the antagonist and the chief crisis of the plot so that you can pull out the message of the book, which we then can summarize and discuss.


Of course books have messages, like food has vitamins. But expecting children to benefit more from the message by learning to deconstruct the book and tease the message out into a one-sentence summary is like expecting them to get more nourishment from their food by taking it into the lab and determining the exact molecular content.

You get nourishment from food by eating it. You get nourishment from books by reading them and letting the story soak into you. If the Atwaters had really thought children would best learn to hold on to their dreams by being told point blank, "It's good to hold on to your dreams," they wouldn't have bothered to write a whole book about a painter who wants to be an Antarctic explorer.

Children certainly do sometimes gallop through books without stopping to be more than dimly aware of what's going on. There's a time and a place for that and a type of books that properly deserve it. And there is a time and a place (much later than second grade) for learning how a story goes together and debating what the author really means by it.

But the antidote for books that are worthy of greater attention is much simpler: just slow down. Read a chapter. Put it away for a few days. Teach everyone that reading ahead is a shameful and despicable act. Give the story time to digest.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

April Fools

The ducklings are quite excited by a whole day devoted to saying silly things with impunity. D1 also entered into the spirit of things by putting on her clothes inside out and backwards, but D2 decided he would rather dress right side out and frontwards--which, since he usually gets at least one garment inside out or backwards, comes out to the same thing, I suppose.