Monday, February 28, 2011

running update

On Saturday I woke the girls up at 6am (the boys all got up at 6:15 to get ready for Mass since Will was serving) to cheer me on for the 3rd race of a local cross-country series. These are all serious runners, they have to be to brave 20F wind chill at the top of Mt. Trashmore, so the competition is fierce. Even after training hard I came in 5th in my age bracket, but managed to come out ahead in the overall score and brought home this beauty of a trophy.

The reason I run is to be able to eat what I like, the reason I race is so I don't slack off, and the reason I run hard is so I don't make a fool of myself in races. It is a big circle and now I have upped the stakes by attempting some longer races than the standard 5Ks. My first, and possibly only, 1/2 marathon is in 6 weeks so I better strap my shoes on and hit the pavement for some long, not too slow runs to get ready. 'Cause despite have a valid excuse such as giving birth 6 times, I have too much of a competitive streak to employ it.  

Saturday, February 26, 2011

storytime hits

The past few weeks our "big kid" story time has been expanded by 1 child since Charlie was found to be lurking in the hallway during our final days of Anne of Avonlea. We invited him up to join us on the bed and he fully enjoyed, without too much wiggling, The Magician's Nephew. They were so excited to hear the remainder of the story that we took an hour on Friday afternoon to finish up. Now we have to pick our next tale: Winnie the Pooh, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Children of Noisy Village, or Wind in the Willows.

I noticed a few months ago that some of my favorite classic books weren't being read in favor of flashier ones from the library. While I want the children to pick up these novels on their own, me reading aloud does give us a chance to continue our evening reading habit even though the older ones have outgrown picture books. However, I still do see Mary and Maggie listen in during the little boy's story hour on the sofa and sometimes they are good enough to read aloud to them with very fine expression.

It pleases me immensely that all the children (other than Julia Ellen) can sit for 45 minutes straight and listen to someone read to them as well as the oldest who read under their covers with the flashlight. Perhaps one day I will miss storytime, but with thousands of good "big kid" books to choose from, I don't think that will happen for a very, very long time.   

Friday, February 25, 2011

I can't believe I made it...

Tired of my old running routes and needing to boost my milage for the 5 mile race on Saturday as well as the half-marathon in April, I strapped on my shoes this past week and pulled a couple of very long runs. 6.8 miles seemed long until I decided to see what was at the end of a very long road with a lovely bike/pedestrian path next to it. The road dead-ended on the river and when I looked up on the gmaps pedometer I was amazed that I had kept running for over 8 miles, the longest distance I have ever run. Of course it took me over an hour to finish, and I still have 5 miles to tack onto that in the actual race, but it was such a thrill to be able to say that I didn't stop.

The bonus? Stepping on the scale after tossing back 2 cans of Cocacola and still being 1/2 pound under what I weighed 3 years ago.    

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

carnival of homeschooling

Raising Real Men is hosting this week's carnival. I have guilty for the past 6 months since I received a free copy of their book from Melanie and still haven't blogged about it yet. the reason? Guilt, since I'm apparently not doing such a great job with my boys. Will still gives me grief some days, I still have to nag him incessantly about practicing the piano, and most of the time he doesn't appreciate his parents. On the other hand, Charlie is becoming quite a gentleman, holding the door open, running to help bring in the groceries, and watching after his little sister when they play outside.

Bringing up boys is hard work and imagined while reading that it might be just fine to ship them all off to have Hal and Melanie civilize them, sort of like the English aristocrats did with their little ones, only allowing them back into the big house when they could "sit at table" and exhibit proper manners. So, tell me where the nearest airport is so I can buy their tickets and send them back when they will eat their veggies and wipe their mouths. Yes, I would miss all the lovely things about my boys, all the hugs, all the times Timmy says, "I loooove you Mommy", the funny things they do, the not so funny jokes they try to make up, all the cards and pictures they draw for me...

Oh, never mind, I think I'll just keep them. Imperfect, but my little men are lovable all the same.    

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Mommy, is there something I can do?

That is, for money?

All three of the big kids in the house are in a frantic race to get out of bed so they can be the first to empty the dishwasher ($.50), fold laundry ($.25), or vacuum the carpet ($.50). Will is saving money for an extra week at Boy Scout camp, Mary is hording hers for no particular reason, and Maggie needs to earn an additional $4.50 for a Jessie doll from Toy Story 3. "It was the only thing on my Christmas list that I didn't get," she has been lamenting for the last month. I'm perfectly happy doling out the extra cash in exchange for not working my fingers to the bone trying to keep up with the clutter that just naturally accumulates in a household of 8.

Since the kids don't receive an allowance, they must work to buy any extras such as the pellet gun that Will was allowed to purchase last week. He had to earn the right to do so by finishing his work in a timely manner and not giving me any grief for a week. Of course the gun needs ammunition replenishment that I can hold over his head in the future. For once in the last 12 years I feel like I could theoretically put my feet up and nosh on a few bon-bons, that is if I had any chocolate in the house.

Monday, February 21, 2011

blatent hypocracy

Senior U.S. Senate Democrats slammed Republicans on Sunday for a "reckless" threat to shut down the government amid deepening political posturing on both sides over federal spending and the budget deficit.

The House of Representatives voted on Saturday to cut federal spending by $61 billion through September. But the Republican measure will likely die because Democrats who control the Senate oppose it and President Barack Obama vowed to veto it.

So, the American people elected an entirely new House to stop the reckless spending that the Democrats have been inflicting on the country for the past 4 years (5 trillion in overspending- that is more debt than America had in the previous 220 years) and Harry Reid has the audacity to say it is "reckless" to trim the budget.

If the government shuts down then I, along with most Americans will blame the Senate and President for failing to pass the House's bill. Most military families live paycheck to paycheck and many retirees depend on their social security check to pay for utilities and food. I know I was having nightmares last night, worrying what we would do if the government stopped paying its workers and I'm sure I'm not the only one. The pressure needs to be put on the Senate to stop playing games and behave like responsible adults who have other's lives in their hands.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

they are finally getting it...

The House so far this year has voted to repeal Obamacare, defund Obamacare, and now to defund Planned Parenthood. A few brave members of Congress are following the will of the people as well as some governors with gumption such as Wisconsin's Scott Walker who is attempting to rein in spending in a state that has a balanced budget law. The grownups in the state and federal legislature are having to make unpopular decisions, but ones that are necessary, if we are to do as Obama himself stated last week, "live within our means." Yes, the Democrats in the Senate and White House are going to fight back in an ugly way, "If they bring a knife, we bring a gun," but our future as a financially solvent nation is seriously at risk due to reckless overspending by those very same Democrats.

Pence said the amendment captures a rough public consensus that they accept legal abortions, but don't want to pay for them. He did get House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to weigh in on his side, declaring, “The time has come to respect the wishes of the majority of Americans who adamantly oppose using taxpayer dollars for abortions.” Politico

Thursday, February 17, 2011

keeping silent about the big lie

Apparently my children have been informing the neighbors' kids again about the non-existence of Santa Claus. We had a little "discussion" in the car about different parenting and that if some folks want their children to believe in an obese home-invasion expert who brings candy and gifts then that is their right and Maggie and Charlie shouldn't interfere. It did make me giggle a bit when the neighbor angrily accused Maggie of calling her father a liar because he said, "Santa does come on Christmas Eve." While she shouldn't be rude to a grownup, she was standing up for the real Saint Nicholas, rather than some manufactured marketing ploy designed to entice children to whine and harass their parents into procuring them expensive gifts.

So, with Ash Wednesday approaching, and with it the appearance of Easter candy on the grocery shelves, the mother next door pleaded with me to warn the children not to shout from the rooftops that some floppy-eared monster bunny does not sneak into every one's homes and leave baskets of candy and chocolate. Perhaps since I am socially required to perpetuate a semi-Christianized fabrication, I could therefore demand atheists not to attack Catholicism and deny my children the right to be taught the faith without interference.

Yeah right.      

Friday, February 11, 2011

nose to the grindstone

Between trying to get school and music practice completed every day as well as running, free time has been in short supply. Last year may have been the year of the field trip, but this year is the time for hunkering down and getting the work done. Perhaps I have overextended myself with all the children's activities, but June will be here before I know it and we will be up in Maine with idyllic days of no school and no dance classes. 

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

so far, so good

Karen, the mother's helper, has been coming to our house for a little over 2 weeks now and it seems to be working quite well. For the last few visits they have read a little, done some puzzles, but mostly made clay beads and flowers out of Maggie's Sculpy. The little boys are thrilled to have someone focus on them and helping them make crafts and I have been able to concentrate on getting Will's schoolwork completed. He is a typical 7th grade boy who would be spending his time gazing out the window or shooting spitballs at the girls if he was in public school. Actually, he does those things here too, which is why I have to glue myself to his side to get him to focus.

I think for next week I will stop by the craft store and pick up some supplies so they can have one easy craft to work on each time Karen comes over. I also need to get some more Sculpy to replace Maggie's supply and for Charlie, since he is determined to make a rosary out of beads he made himself. I'm not quite sure he can count all the way up to 59, but if he wants to attempt it, I'll buy him the clay.

Monday, February 07, 2011

words and actions

Baby Julia Ellen is constantly making us giggle with delight (except when she wakes screaming in the middle of the night, 3 times last night). She is at that adorable stage in speech development of repeating sounds so when we ask, "Say cow," she will say the animal's name and then throw her head back and "moooo" with all her might. When we ask, "Do you like Daddy?" she will vigorously nod her head like a puppet on a string. Maybe it is because I have all these helpers to make breakfast, or because I'm not pregnant with another child, but finally with baby #6 I can really enjoy these moments of babyspeak with no desire to hurry her along.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

playing dolls

Last summer one of my mother's cousins was clearing out her parent's home and offered her old Ginny dolls to Mary and Maggie. Included in the boxes was the doll's trousseau, ball gowns and raingear, nightgowns, and shoes of all sorts. I found a pair of ballerina Ginnys on clearance for $10 each for one of their Christmas gifts and ever since they have set up a little doll play area in a corner of my bedroom.

So, I am able very often to listen in on their play conversations while reading on the bed. Yesterday proved that they are both watching too many BBC productions when I overheard this exchange between the two older girls in a faux British accent:

"Would you care do dance my lady?"
"I'm sure that I'm not otherwise engaged sir."

I don't think it a coincidence that the dolls are named Jane, Elizabeth, Mary, Kitty, and Lydia and their last name happens to be Bennett.
Later Timmy, Charlie, and Maggie were playing dolls quietly together. There is ample proof that Maggie has been reading either the Little House books or Caddie Woodlawn in bed after hearing this:

"I want to go ice skating!"
"No, only boys can go play outside. Girls back then had to stay in the house and help their mother with the housework. Boys had to help their fathers in the fields."
"But I want to go!"
"Charlie, way back then children were obedient to their parents."

To be sure, there is plenty of play talk which involves playing house in which the mother is mean and makes the children clean their rooms and do their schoolwork, but it is fascinating to see what cultural bits and pieces they have picked up.