Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wordful Wednesday: See This Girl?

This girl is very nice. She makes friends wherever she goes, in her quiet, unassuming way. She's very helpful. I can always count on her to kick in when I ask for chores to be done...and she does a good, thorough job. Once she gets going, she can sometimes clean for a very long time, still cleaning long after the others have dropped out of sight. She loves dogs. She loves all animals. When the kids weren't caring for their dogs like they had committed to, and a threat was made to find a new home for at least one of them, she quickly volunteered to be the sole caretaker of the dogs, if only they can stay. She was true to her word. Eventually I decided that enough was enough and the other girls had to start helping again. She, however, was rewarded sole ownership of the Beagle, since she had proven herself to be a very responsible pet owner.

There is another very strong trait that she possesses that I know will serve her well someday...well, it already has. It just doesn't always serve me so very well. She. Is. PerSIStant. A master GRUMbler. When she decides she needs something, and I mean needs, there is. no. stopping her. Oh, I could go on and on and give you lists of times she's put her mind to wearing me down and does she ever succeed! It takes a long time sometimes but too often, she wins. She, for example, might say, "Ooh, I love this FurReal cat! Can I get it, Mom?" Me: "No! Did you notice the price tag? It's $40." Her: "I know. But I can earn it. I will give you all my money at home plus I will give you many hours of a backrub." Me: "No!" Her: "Um, Mom? Remember we haven't had my birthday party yet? Remember, you promised that I could pick one friend and go to Build-A-Bear instead of a party? How about I skip Build-A-Bear and have this instead?" Internal calculator kicks in, goes into high gear, and quickly surmises that this very well may be the cheaper route...as well as more simple. Me: "No party then at all?" Her: "No party, at all." Me: "Sold!" See? She won! But I did too!

Here's another good one: "Mom. Did you see this coupon for Highlights magazine? Do you think you could order it for me? It's really educational. It has good articles and many fun puzzles." Me: "No." Her: "Well, remember that money I earned this summer? How much do I have again? I would have enough to pay for this, wouldn't I?" Me: "Well...yeah, but....um, I don't feel like going online right now and ordering it." Her: "I will go get the computer, set it up, get it to the site, then all you have to do is order it." Me: "I'm really tired. Maybe later." Her: "I'll give you an hour back rub if you will do it now." Me: "I don't have time for an hour one. How about a really good, diligent one for 15 minutes?" Her: "Yup!" Me: "Backrub first." Her: "No way, Mom! You know you will fall asleep before I get done. Then you'll NEVER order my Highlights magazine!" Me: "True. Go get the computer." See? She won, again! But, so did I. I got a free back rub (I usually pay them for 15 minute increments...just peanuts but it's change for them to ka-ching into their piggybanks).

Okay, so here's the latest story: See this girl? So nice and quiet looking, in a book-wormy sorta way?

See this bird?

This really beautiful parakeet?

Well, one day our lovely, nice, helpful daughter came home from her friend's house. She said, "Anna has a bird. It's name is Lucky. It is a parakeet. It is sooo cool! It mimics you. It flies around the house. It sits on your finger. It is sooooo cool. Can I get one?" Me: "No." Her: "Please? I have enough money!" Me: "I. don't. care!!!! A bird, as any pet, is a big responsiblity. You know that. We have a hard enough time getting the dogs cared for. What makes you think you'll take care of a bird? Plus, a bird would drive me crazy! Chirp, chirp, chirping all day long." Her: "Well, I am the one who always cares for the dogs without complaining. " (True...) "I would take care of it sooo well. You would never have to take care of it." Me: "NO!!!! Now stop." Her: Now begins the Stage 2: Operation Get What I Want. "Grumble, grumble, grumble...have money for it too...grumble, mumble....I really wanted it...whine, whine, mumble...not fair! I KNOW I would take care of it....mumble.." Funny thing is, she's not even talking to me. She is muttering to herself. But I can hear it. And it bugs me! Me: "STOP! That's enough! I do NOT want to hear that now!"

Fast forward a day: Same song. Same dance. Same routine.

Fast forward another day: Same song. Same dance. Same routine.

Fast forward another day, a week, another week: Same song. Same dance. Same routine.

*add in: Me: "Go ask your dad (first sign of weakening, although I wouldn't have admitted it then). See what he says." Her, later: "He says to ask you." Me: "Well, in that case, NO! (whew! Got my resolve back)"

Her: "When's the next time we would be going by the pet store?" and "Could we go for a little drive and swing by the pet store and..." Me: "NO!"

So, so many different tactics. See how she operates?*

Finally, one day, I caved. I decided to go check out birds when I was out near a pet store anyway. My husband joined me on his way home from work. We watched and read up on Finches. Nope. Not so social, they do better in a colony...we are NOT looking to adopt a colony. Parakeets: Only $5 more, social, clownish, can mimic...super long life expectancy....maybe not so good. Well, take a look here:

There they are. A girl and her parakeet. See? She won! But, guess what? I kinda like that bird. I actually like it a lot! So, it wasn't a total loss after all. And it was with her own money. And we've worked out a deal for her to earn money for future food and accessories she will continue to need (because she has finally completely exhausted her funds). She will be completely in charge of scooping dog poop so I don't need to worry about always assigning that gross task to someone. And she's okay with that.

All in all, I think that persistance will get her places...it already has. Mostly at my expense.

*Just a side note: She does truly lose too. I do know how to say no to her. And mean it. And stick to it. Just right now, I'm feeling her recent wins. However, it never, never is a total win just for her. We bargain. We bicker. We plot. We plan. And I make sure I always win too. Because I can. Because I hold the trump card (what is a trump card, anyway?) and know enough to use it. And oftentimes my win is bigger for me in the financial sense.*

Monday, September 29, 2008

New Beginnings

This is my niece and godchild as a bridesmaid in her older sister's wedding. This young man she is walking with is her boyfriend, the groom's brother. They are a lovely, lovely couple.

...And the beautiful bride and groom. The bride is my niece. She is the oldest daughter of my sister's.

Here they are, my niece holding our 4 y.o. Those two have always been close. My niece is almost more like an aunt to our kids and like a younger sister to me, albeit quite a bit younger than me. When I was about her age, I used to haul her around and her sisters...shopping, up north to the hometown I grew up in, to church, out with my friends....

The girls' birthday party....

The little ringbearer

And another niece, my youngest sister's oldest daughter, the flower girl...

I got the biggest kick out of watching these two little ones, doing so well but so often looking around, looking up at the bride or groom...

Part of the wedding party

The guys....I couldn't get the girls and was always with a child in my lap so couldn't get up and get pics..

Okay, so these are slightly out of order...I can never remember quite how I should do this when I upload more than five photos.

Well, we had a busy but lovely weekend. On Saturday, my first niece got married and on Sunday, we had a family birthday party for our 4th and 6th daughters who have birthdays 1 day apart. It was nice because then some of our family that is rarely in the area made it to our house for the birthday party.

Needless to say, I was pretty exhausted since I worked Friday night shift and then again Sunday night shift. I didn't sleep more than a couple half hour naps between Friday morning about 5:45 and Saturday night at about 12:30 a.m.

What an emotional time for us though to see our little niece getting married! I've always been very close to them as most of our whole family is just very close. It really hasn't been so long since she was born and since she's gone through each milestone that my own girls are now going through. Can't go there though!!!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Your Shoulders...Are UGLY!

My 4 y.o. loves my sister. My sister has been coming here for a few weeks now, taking care of my two little ones for the first half of the day while I sleep after my night at work.

Today, my sister took her sweatshirt off and just had a tanktop on. My dear 4 y.o. took one look at her and said, "Your shoulders are ugly!" My sister said, "Well! I happen to think they're beautiful!" My 4 y.o. took another look at her and said, "Look at them!"

The Very Next Day.....

4 y.o.: Becky? I like your hair!
Becky: Oh, thank you!
4 y.o.: But I don't like your head!
Becky: *laughing* Oh, thank you!

Wordful Wednesday: Ta-Da! *drumroll*

Or what would be an appropriate title for this? This is my 100th post!!! Oh, I feel so blabber-mouthy. That's kind of a lot of stories told.....On the other hand, it took me over a year to get to this point.

When I try think about what I should tribute this 100th post to, the only thing I can think of is, "What inspires nearly every post I ever write? Who provides me with endless material to write about....so much material that I can only write about 1/3 of what I think could be blog-worthy before I get writer's cramps and just plain old run out of time? My girls! My unique and lovely girls!" So, here's to my girls, and here are some snapshots of just normal, everyday life at our house. Nothing necessarily funny or extraordinary. Just capturing different moments of life at our house.

Just the other day, I came out of the bedroom, after hearing much discussion and planning on the part of these two, and saw a "stand" set up. On the left are cups of raw carrot sticks with pieces of tortilla shells. They're going for $0.20/cup. On the right are cups of o.j., priced at an affordable $0.10/cup. I still owe them about $0.60 after paying them $0.40 so far for my and my 4 y.o.'s snacks. Perfect snacks to pack in my work lunch (not the o.j., of course), and pack 'em in I did. They're saving up for Webkins, since they are both sure that this is the only way they will ever own a Webkins in their lives!!!

Here's Bookworm #1. EVERY DAY after school, and I do not exagerrate, I must rip books out of the girls' hands to get them to start on their homework.

Here is my baking and cooking entrepreneur. Every day, around the time the kids are getting due to arrive home from school, I either get some snack started or get my supper going, if it involves any doughs or anything that may require some mixing and rising and such. This young lady always discovers any concoctions coming up and is always just under my left elbow, begging to mix in ingredients or kneed dough. Today I was making homemade pizza. She mixed in the last ingredients and then mixed the dough thoroughly. She told me today that every day when she gets in the house from school, she first thing washes her hands in case I'm baking something, she can jump right in. She oftentimes gets her hair back too, since that's my other requirement for baking or cooking with me (when I remember...today I didn't until she was elbow-deep into it).

Chess has found its way back out of the closet. This is a perfect fall and winter indoor activity. The oldest four girls know how to play chess and love getting a good game going. Today, since it's only been out for a few days, there were constant grumblings over whose turn it was or should be to play. I tried to base it on who all had their homework done.

And here's little miss cheesy herself! She has acquired a very wide and quite faky, but sooo cute smile as of late. Very often she will even bat her eyes at people and then flash this smile. She turns one today! How did that year go by so quickly?

Here are the youngest four on our "project day", the day we poured the cement for the basketball hoop (which, btw, should be going up tomorrow!!!).

And....Bookworm #2. Couldn't extract that nose from the book,
even to eat snack.
In the sandbox. One of the favorite places to play in the backyard.

And the nurturing that all of the girls have toward the baby is heartwarming. Baby is being hand-fed her snack, even though she could eat it by herself in the highchair.

....And...clowning around!!!

These kiddos of mine have been such of a blessing and I couldn't even imagine life without any one of them! The drama and the trauma, the bitter and the sweet, the rough and tumble, the soft and sweet. There are so many aspects these young ladies bring to my life and I anticipate years and years of many more beautiful (and sometimes not so beautiful, but just as valuable nonetheless) moments with them.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

More Pics From Saturday

My husband is so very thorough and detail-oriented. I was once again very impressed with his research and craftsmanship on constructing this whole base for the basketball hoop. He has some very heavy-duty rebar and metal beams he put together inside the cement we mixed and poured into this hole. He put together the metal plate with four threaded-thingamajiggies coming down from the plate into the cement. These four things (they resemble gigantic bolts..?) went down perfectly between some other metal bars and beams without interfering with them. What a dude!!! Here are pictures of the girls inspecting the hole...up close...the mess afterwards and the finished product, after 13 bags of cement and much to-do! Can't wait til it hardens completely and we can put up the hoop!

Equator Alert!

Our Saturday project was to dig a hole 4 feet deep and 18 inches in diameter. This was for a basketball hoop we just got.

The girls wanted to help dig the hole. As daughters #3 and 4 were busy digging (pictured here are daughters #4 and 5), #3 said, excitedly, "Look! I think we're getting close to the equator!" 3rd daughter asked 4th daughter, "Do you know what 'equator' means?" #4 said, "No." #3 explained, "It's the middle of the earth, I think." #4, "Oh."

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Is She D.E.A.D?

Told my husband today about a young lady just diagnosed with osteoporosis. Trying to explain to him just how badly this can effect you (except now there is better medical intervention than years ago), I told of two old ladies I used to take care of that I saw die from complications of osteoporosis. I told him that they both had started to fracture and fracture, getting compression fracture after compression fracture...in their spines, just from sitting there, doing nothing, in their ribs..eventually internal bleeding began and they slowly over time bled to death.

My lovely 3rd child was intently listening, of course. So she asked me, "You took care of them?" I said, "Yes." She asked, "You had to call an ambulance? Did it just happen? (I had told of how I came to work one day to one of the lady's houses and the caregiver I was relieving said that the client was hardly responsive all day. I went in to check on her and said that we need to call an ambulance right away. We did and she never came home after that. So this is what she was wondering if it just happened.) I said, "No, this was 14 years ago." She asked, "So, is she d.e.a.d?" "Y.e.s," I replied. She muttered, "Poor lady!" To which my 4th child immediately spat out, "She's DEAD!"


Just wondering what you think of my new look here. Can't quite decide. I have a feeling I will be changing things around here and there til I get it just right. Obviously the "Fall" theme can't stick around forever....the tortoise may have to be replaced...then again, maybe not.

Hmmmm, any thoughts?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Photo Story Friday: Time for Truce

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

Well, these young warriors were at it on the battlefield again.

After punches and pinches, pushes and pulls, it was time for a change of pace.

I asked the young warriors to cease fire but my plea fell on deaf ears.

Time for truce! I asked the young ladies to sit cross-legged on the floor with their knees touching.

Of course this request was met with resistance until the timer went from 2 minutes to 3, with promise for more time with non-compliance.

Reluctantly, the warriors sat cross-legged and grudgingly inched forward, very slowly and painfully, until...their knees met!

First, they wouldn't look at each other.

My next request was to face each other, look each other in the eyes and think about how they had hurt the other.

Within seconds, and I exaggerate not I tell you, they were giggling and saying, "Okay Mom! We're friends! Now can we get up?" I said, "Yes, as soon as the timer beeps. Now look your friend in the eye!"

When the timer beeped, I gave one final request, "Now, before you get up, give each other a hug and apologize!" Giggling and haltingly, as if their hands were filled with lead, they inched their hands together, got as far as hooking fingers, and gave each other a "finger hug". "So-rry!"

Well, I guess I didn't specify what kind of hug! The truce was made, "hugs" were given, and apologies extended. They left in giggles...and in cahoots...once again!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I Forgot My Camera at Home Tonight, Apparently..

But that's okay! Cause I've got stories to tell. Stories that don't really need pictures. Some of them don't, some of them could have used a picture or two.

Let's see how much of them I will remember.

My hubby had some of the girls out with him the other day. He had some Guy Things to do so he left me home sleeping (I had just worked a night shift) with our oldest and youngest and took the four "in-between" girls with him. As they were about to break for lunch, he asked, "You guys want lunch?" Of course, a unanimous, "Yeah!" ripped through the van. Then he asked, "How bout Taco Bell?" Another, "Yeah!" followed by the inevitable, "NOOO! I want Arby's!" Before my hubby could inhale to answer, he heard a quiet but firm, "No! They don't afford Arby's anymore. Not when when they don't have their specials anymore!" 'Nuff said! He just chuckled and headed to Taco Bell.

*And the story behind that one? The weekend before, after church, we decided to swing through drive-thru for lunch since we weren't going straight home. We rarely do Arby's because with a family our size, it quickly adds up... BUT, we DO occcasionally do the "5 for $5.95" deal, times two. HOWEVER, when we drove up to the menu board, I said, "Okay, we'll do the 5 for $5.95.." and was quickly cut off with a, "Oh. We don't have that special anymore." So I just said, "Oh. Okay. Thanks anyway." We told the girls that without coupons, which we left at home, and no 5 for $5.95 special anymore, Arby's is too expensive...and off we drove to Taco Bell.*

Last Saturday: All day long we tried to get the girls to do jobs around the house. All day long we were met with procrastination, evading, arguing, grumbling, etc. Finally, my husband told the girls that since no one did a significant amount of anything, the next day at church the girls weren't allowed to have any friends sit with us nor were they allowed to sit with any of their friends families. They weren't allowed to go to any of their friends houses for the afternoon nor were they allowed to have any friends over. We weren't going to go anywhere nor were we going to have anyone over. We were just going to come home, get the remainder of homework done that wasn't finished like it should have been and pretty much just sit around and be bored. We explained that it was a result of their not listening to us...we reminded them that not listening to one's parents is called "disobedience" and not only does this displease us, it displeases God.

Girl #3 was in the kitchen with me and asked me, "Yeah, that is pretty bad. Do you think God is pretty frustrated right now? If I were God, I think I would be pretty frustrated at me right now. I would probably be pretty annoyed with me, don't you think so, Mom? In fact, I would probably be so annoyed that I would want to give me some punishment, right Mom?" I kinda smiled and said, "Yeah, I guess...maybe..." *Yeah, probably pretty annoyed...along with pretty amused, maybe?* They don't always tell you what kind answers to give these kids in those parenting manuals you get with each one of them as they're born, do they? Can you imagine the first page on some of these kids, if you were given a "How To" manual with each one? I can see it, "Fragile: Handle with care" or "Wild Card: Exercise Extreme Caution" or "Remember, Repetition Is the Key: No, No, NO! or she will not get it!"

Traumatic Tuesday: The kids had just run outside for a bit since bedtime was nearing and they knew that soon they would be herded to bed. After they had been out for a bit, I could hear a hubbub happening and assumed some great squabble was taking place. Soon, Girl #3 came in wailing so hard, even as dramatic as she can be and so very, very loud she can get when she cries this time I was wondering if she broke a limb or something of that nature. As she wailed up the stairs, with the whole entourage following (one big clue that no one had hurt her, they would have stayed outside, quickly scheming up their defense), I noticed she was holding one hand with the other. Since I knew an answer was going to be hard to come by from her, I looked over her head to the crew following her up the stairs and asked, "Okay, what happened to her?" The oldest said with a sigh and just short of rolling her eyes, "I guess, she got stung by a bee, or something!" *sigh again*. (Have I mentioned she has just entered Middle School?)

I looked at her finger at what appeared to be a sliver wedged under a flap of skin. Upon closer inspection, I noticed it was, in fact, a bee stinger with the bee's rear end (that was what had looked like a flap of skin) still attached and periodically wiggling!! I sent her to show her dad while I looked for something to remove the stinger with. I knew that if she noticed it wiggling, she would probably have a full-fledged panic attack (not a real one, as defined by a medical book, but one that would create her own new meaning for the phrase "panic attack"). I therefore told Hubby in Finnish, "Look, it's rear end is still moving." She said, right in my wake, "LOOK! It's still wiggling!!!" and nearly hyperventilated. As I was gently removing the stinger and rear end of the bee, she was near hysterics, "Ooooh, be careful! Could it make it worse...could you squeeze more poison into me like that? Do people die from this? Could I become INJURED from it? Oooh, don't make it hurt when you take it out...oh, it's out?" Then, as it started to swell rather quickly, she was a little panicky, which wasn't helped by her older sister's observations, "Gasp! Oh. my. gosh. It is getting just huge!" I looked at it but wasn't too worried. Her coloring was fine, it was getting big pretty fast but I would expect that in a finger when the finger just doesn't have a lot of room for the venom to spread. Then when Dad, who is allergic to bee stings started to worry too, I looked at it again and said, "Well, I'll just keep an eye on it and bring her in if I have to." To which Injured Daughter latched onto and said, "Yes. Bring me in." I told her that I would first call the clinic and ask them what would merit worry.

I did call the clinic and they echoed my sentiment: the finger does swell faster since it's a smaller area for the venom to spread, ice it, keep it elevated, give ibuprofen and put baking soda paste on it.

Oh, just before I called the clinic? Injured Daughter, upon hearing I was going to call, said, "Tell them it's swollen! It's as big as Dad's finger already" Her dad has big fingers!!! I told my husband this, so when I.D. came out of the bedroom, he told her, "So. I hear that your finger is as big as mine?" She quickly scoped out his fingers and replied, "Your pinky finger!" Smart girl!

Never a dull moment!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Photo Story Friday: The Calm After the Storm

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily and MamaGeek

My Daughter #4 took these pictures shortly after tornado-like weather tried to brew up in our town.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Let Me Tell You 'Bout My Girls!

Well, let's just put it this way: They're no Ordinary Girls. Life with them at least isn't what I expected life with girls to be.

I had a picture of hair. Girly hair. The sorta hair that you brushed, and groomed, and did things in. Like French Braids. Inside-out French Braids. Maybe even a French Braid that circled the head like a crown. Evenings of giggles, and foam rollers or rag curls. I guess, we have a lot of the evenings of giggles, just how I imagined it. Even better. But, the curls? Maybe with Girl #1 from the ages 3-6. That was it.

Then she decided curls weren't cool, dresses weren't cool, girly-girls weren't cool. The rest followed in her footsteps. Gone are the dreams of patiently and lovingly wrapping their hair, section by section, into rollers. Unfurling their luscious curls in the morning, watching their curls bob and bounce around their shoulders as they run and play around the house or board the bus proudly, showing what their mother did to make their hair beautiful.

Honestly, some of the girls would go into infinity never, ever touching a brush to their hair. I draw the line at school and church...I insist they groom themselves at least for those two occasions. I have literally chased a couple of them around the house with a brush before, saying, "You might as well stop right now, young lady! I still can run faster than you and I will catch you and I will brush your hair regardless of your wishes or opinions!" Sad truth? At least one of the girls, I know could outrun me! Girl #3 is Speedy Quick. Like lightning. I won't ever tell her that. She will find out soon enough. For now, she still thinks I am faster than her. And that I will catch her. And I will brush her hair. So she stops and lets me.

So, in the meantime, they have unkempt, undone hair, just hanging there:

And their own, homemade ponytails:

And their own homemade haircuts:

And dress up? Sure. They do like to dress up. In their own sorta way:

But not for church. Not for school. Dresses? Ew. Way to girly. Girl #3 actually went through a phase she would have dressed up for church. She would have dressed up for school. In dress-up clothes, in all their glory. Probably still would. If I would let her. I won't. I used to once in a while oblige. Let her come to the grocery store with me in her dress-up clothes. In her Clip-Clop shoes. She loved it. Secretly...I kinda loved it too! It showed her little flair-ish personality that we see in her every day of her life. We enjoy it. Why not let everyone else enjoy it too? :)

Tree climbing has become The Middle Children's favorite sport:

See her?

Waaay up there? (click on the picture and *gulp* see how high she goes!)

And her..?
All snug there in the tree?


They like to do SpyWork.

From waaay up there.

And you know what the Older of The Middle Children told me, excitedly and furtively? "Mom! Now you know our secret! Our secret places we step and hold onto and climb to get waay up here!" And I told her, "And now wanna know my secret? I've been watching you. I've been watching you two climbing up this tree. From the kitchen window. Betcha didn't even know, did you?"

Know what though? Back to the Girl thing? Betcha can't guess what's been happening lately! My oldest girl has started to let me buy her kinda Girly clothes again. And she oftentimes wears my clothes now. And shoes. And uses my hairstuff. I even find my shavers misplaced! I decided to just get one for her...to cut down on the wandering shaver thing. It's been kind of fun! She respects my fashion sense now. Even asks my opinion. Are we coming full circle?

One other thing? When I had my first baby, I had decided that I was not going to get into that girl/pink and boy/blue thing! I mean, what was that all about? I was going to dress my little girl in mini-me clothes. I mean, the girl's gotta maintain her dignity. She has to be fashionable. I dressed her in little jeans, sweaters, and boots. Found out quickly, babies don't do cute little fashionable boots.

Well, it took a few babies for me to embrace the Pink thing. And now, it's Pink, Pink, Pink, Pink. She's a GIRL, for crying out loud. A GIRL!!!!

In all her Pink Glory!