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My current favorites:

April 8, 2014

Because blogging assumes that the internet cares about the minute details of one’s life, I will now share my current favorite things:

TV shows

Revolution

Arrow

Castle (still)

NCIS (still)

Sherlock (still)

Doctor Who (always)

Books

Just read the first two books of Divergent. Saving up for the last one. Good reads but not for kids, I think.

The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome by Susan Wise Bauer

While sounding like a dry old history book, this is actually really entertaining. The author writes with a keen sense of humor, and covers history from the entire ancient world. But, probably only a favorite for history nerds like me.

Little Men

Daddy Long-Legs

Movies

Man of Steel

Hobbit 2

RED, RED 2

Despicable Me 2

Food

A decent brand of potstickers in a huge bag

Corned beef (okay, always)

Chicken Caesar Salads

White Mountain Dew

Kids

Laura

Max

Timmy

Jo

Husbands

Handsome, of course!

Oh, dear. It’s a Frozen post.

April 1, 2014

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Wow, Frozen sure has stirred up a lot of emotions. I’ve heard rabid ravings from those who love it and those who think it’s the most horrible movie since Shrek. Actually, I think this has gotten more resistance than Shrek which is full of crude innuendos and bathroom humor.

I must admit to being mostly ambivalent to Frozen. I didn’t really get worked up pre-release and the music doesn’t make me run around the house singing at the top of my lungs and throwing blankets dramatically over my shoulders (unlike some people I know). Certainly part of it is that it barely resembles the original fairy tale “The Snow Queen”. I find the other one much more compelling and would have loved to see an adaptation of that with the same level of musical and artistic abilities. We only own a copy because my husband wanted to see it. I know, insert giggling here. Husbands can be silly sometimes, but since the same husband lets me buy books, I can’t complain. :)

When I finally watched it, I loved little parts of it. Like little Hans and Sven. They’re soooo adorable! And Olaf is not crude like many humorous characters are these days. He’s just genuinely funny, and absolutely cute to boot. The music from the very beginning with the icecutters is stirring, but then I’ve always loved male choirs. I loved that a kid movie mentioned fractals (Let It Go). I mean, seriously, fractals! The animation was superb and Anna was handsdown the least elegant Disney princess ever. Even more so than Merida. And she was awkward. And swung a mandolin and flaming bedrolls at wolves. Pretty fun!

 

But…

Most of the complaints I have are so minute that they seem ridiculous to say. And they have little to do with the stated objections of almost everyone else on the internet. But since I know the internet is dying for one more Frozen post:

Here’s my list of why Frozen really sucks, so you should never, ever watch it again and blame yourself for poor parenting….

Okay, not really. But that’s what everyone else’s Frozen post says so I thought I’d throw it in there.

Here’s my complaints for real:

Low bodices. There has been a trend lately of lowering necklines in animated movies for several years. Rapunzel was the most recent example, and now we have Anna and Elsa (post-tantrum) to add. Anna’s ballgown is rather unapologetic in showing off her shoulders and back while barely staying up on her chest. By the way, I still cannot figure out how strapless tops stay up! I mean, you’d have to glue them on. Ouch! And that leads to Elsa’s ice-castle dress. Which again magically defies gravity and is very slinky. Is it terrible? Are there heaving bosoms? No. But it’s a trend that is going in that direction.

Speaking of Elsa post-tantrum: I find this whole scene distasteful (except for the fractals part). “Let It Go” could be placed in any 90s teenager movie and fit right in. It’s the same old story of “nobody loves me as I am,” and “I don’t want to be the good girl, I just want to be free!!!” Just so you know, both statements must be made while swishing your hair back and forth while speaking melodramatically. I was a moody, depressed, supposedly repressed teenager.Now, as a supposedly responsible adult, I am sooooo done with all of that drama. I really don’t want my girls thinking that the only way they can be ‘free’ is to stop being a ‘good girl’. But who cares as long as you get an ice palace, a trashy makeover, and get to live all alone! Whee!

There is a questionable moment in the troll song with a reference to Kristoff’s unsanctioned activities with reindeer which left me wondering, “Why on earth did they have to put that in there? It’s a kid’s movie, for crying out loud!”

Finally, the story is weak, with poor connections and too much haste to get through all of the various plot lines. It’s not horrible, just not what I’ve come to expect, especially after Rapunzel. Also, the songs are mostly predictable. Except Olaf’s. That’s just golden. Have I mentioned I love Olaf?!

My concerns are all little ones. But these little things keep creeping into kid movies, little by little. And getting bigger and bigger. While I won’t be banning Frozen from the house, I’m uneasy with it. And I am keeping a very close eye on Disney movies, hoping that there won’t be a point that we have to stop watching them. We already had to do that with the Barbie Princess movies, but that’s another post.

My advice: be aware, be prayerful, and go with your gut. Enjoy your movie-watching!

Let’s play catch-up!

March 18, 2014

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Well, since last November, a lot has happened. We moved in late September from my in-laws’ house to a daylight basement apartment about an hour away. Bonus: it has a huge, huge yard for the kids to gallivant in and for me to have a garden. A real life garden! And not in pots!

We also lost another child. The last post was about expecting number 5 (again). We were happy and excited. All seemed to be okay as we passed the 12th week (the danger zone for our previous two miscarriages). But, shortly before Christmas, our little James was born at 16 weeks, already dead. We buried him in a cemetery nearby, one that has Handsome’s family in it. Am I okay? No, not really. But, also, yes. I can go through my day dealing with whatever madness my hellions throw at me without breaking down into hysterics. But…you know…it’s also hard. Unexpectedly, it hits you that you had to leave your little one buried in a field. And you can’t hold him in this life.

But the winter is edging off, and we have hints of spring shining through. That will be good for everybody. The kids are restless to get outside and get dirty. And there is plenty of good, red Virginia soil to get dirty in! I remember that dirt was the bane of my mother’s laundry room when I was a kid. I’m not sure if she swore at it when we weren’t listening. I would.

Speaking of swearing, I had no idea that an ADHD 5-year-old boy could make me come so close to using choice words. I mean, seriously!! I do not swear! The worst thing I say would be “Oh crap, he screwed up!” But a few hours with that boy awake can do wonders in bringing out my inner sweaty, swearing sailor.

But, besides almost swearing, we’re good. We’re alive, we’re in our own home.

What more could I ask for?

Four was too easy…four’s for quitters!

November 15, 2013

I’m discovering a few things about being pregnant after 30:

It royally stinks.

Deep, huh? Okay, an elaboration would look like this:

I am soooo tired. I want to hibernate for the next 6 months. And then 6 more for good measure. My tailbone magically hurts and I blame being pregnant. As I chase my wild hellions around the house, I seriously begin to question my sanity. I mean, a mental institution is looking like the best vacation ever right now.  I’m sure I cannot vouch for my intentions at 3am when I’m tired, hungry (again!), and dealing with the irish twins’ serial night terrors.

Whining aside, the pregnancy is going really well. ;)

 

But could we talk about how hard it is to be pregnant with an already ‘large’ family? Because I’m finding that harder than any of the physical symptoms. When you announce your pregnancy, everyone is surprised. The responses range from ‘Oh, wow!’ to ‘Are you sure you know how babies get here?’ Yes, folks, I have no idea where these other kids came from. Please, give me a run-through of sex ed. again! The most demoralizing are the variations of ‘Not again!’ Now, many comments are vaguely supportive but the background seems to be one of (mostly) polite disbelief. The majority of sincere ‘Congratulations!’ I have gotten are from friends in much the same boat as myself. (Hmmm…maybe it’s only sincere because we’re crazy together….)

Desperate for some kind of positive feedback, I have resorted to Walmart cashiers for congratulations. They’re mostly restrained by societal convention: if they think I’m crazy, they do it in their own head. And I get my much-needed support for my life choice.

Yes, life choice. Mostly that terms floats around alternative lifestyles. Well here’s a newsflash about this lifestyle: I choose it. I choose to be a mother of 5 or more children.

This does not mean I’m a saint, a martyr. Believe me, if someone tried to give me a ‘Mother of the Year’ award I would take off running in the other direction. No one knows their flaws and imperfections like the mother of so many children.

But I’m not stupid, crazy, or an idiot either. Much of the negativity I feel seems to focus on the assumption that my husband and I have no idea the difficulties we’re in for. Of course not. After living with family for two years and barely scraping by in our own place,  I have no idea the difficulties another mouth and set of arms will bring. Yes, the emotional, physical, and financial toll gets worse with each child. Especially for an ADHD, depressive mother with Fibromyalgia married to an ADHD husband with ADHD children. Believe me, I know the toll. I live with it every day.

 

What is the point of this cranky, pregnant lady rant? I’m tired of the negativity. This life that I’ve chosen is hard enough; I deal with my own demons every day (not just the ones I birthed). I can’t handle the burden of your disbelief or shock on top of that. I won’t carry it any more. Call it pregnancy hormones, but this stuff keeps me up at night.

Since I need my sleep, here it is:

 

My Pregnancy Manifesto

I’m pregnant. It’s number 5.

Congratulate me!

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And please mean it.

Excelsior!!

September 15, 2013

I am socially inept.

I am uncomfortable in social settings because I just know that I will say or do something stupid. I obsessively analyze recent social encounters to check for said stupid things. And if I did do something stupid, I will anguish over it for the next ten years. True story.

It seems that the place I feel most comfortable is here, writing. It’s a social situation under my control. I can check and double-check what I say. I can even make sure my grammar and punctuation is correct. A decent bonus, I think.

You know what’s funny? I highly doubt it was because I was homeschooled. Because that lasted a year and a half. Then my mom went on bed rest and we ran off and played all day and she sent us back to public school. I didn’t know how good I had it.

Doubtless it’s connected to being a military brat. Moving from place to place ever so often. Having to start over with new friends, classes, cliques, and houses. But we were fairly stable for a military family, not moving every single year. In fact, we stayed a respectable five years in one location. As a child, I cut ties fairly quickly; I looked ahead to starting over. I hoped it would turn out better than the last time.

Maybe it’s because I’m weird. Social awkwardness is comorbid with weirdness right? I enjoyed school. I was good at it. I even liked my teachers. Growing up with brothers I was an odd mix of princess and tomboy (ask me sometime about the imagination game where I was a guerrilla undercover princess). I loved climbing trees and playing outside. I also loved twirly skirts and curling up with a book. But as I grew older I retreated more into books. They were safe and undemanding.

But I think I’m just a socially awkward person. And weird. Definitely still weird. And perhaps I didn’t push myself to grow out of it. The socially awkward part. I love being weird.

And I’m okay with it. Mostly. But I just wanted to let you all know. Because sometime in the future I will do something stupid. I will say something completely random or seem really insensitive. I will forget things like phoning you when I promise. I will read your email and only ever answer you in my head. I will do something to help but it may not be what you need. And it will seem like I don’t care enough to try to be a good friend and not embarrass you in public.

But I do try, every time, to do better. And I am doing less stupid things every time. And when I do do something I will probably realize it 10 minutes later and obsess over it for weeks or years.  But I’m learning to let that go too.

In the immortal words of Stan Lee, I strive to ‘Excelsior!’ That’s Latin for doing better. :)

Thanks for loving me anyways.

P.S. After I wrote this, I read this wonderful article that made me feel immensely better:

http://themattwalshblog.com/2013/09/11/im-an-introvert-and-i-dont-need-to-come-out-of-my-shell/

 

Maybe I’m not the crazy one?

Yah, right. Who am I kidding…

Violin, -lin, -lin!!!

September 14, 2013

Right now I’m listening to Laura’s CD from her violin book. She has been so blessed to have the chance to learn violin. We are so grateful to those helping make this possible. And I think it’s worth every penny for one reason: behavioral changes.

Right now, Laura needs achievements. She needs to see progress. And since we’re holding off on starting school until we move next week, her progress revolves around her violin. As we push, shove, cajole, and threaten to get her to practice, she stores away each evidence of talent and hard work.

Honestly, though, I was nervous about her taking it up. Not that it’s a bad thing, but I remember my younger brother starting violin when I was in 6th grade. While I’m sure he enjoyed it, and has enjoyed the opportunity to fiddle (pun so intended) with one since then, let me tell you: it was painful. If someone tells you that bagpipes sound like tortured cats, don’t believe them. It’s the amateur violinist that sounds like he is running his own feline Gitmo in the other room. I love my brother, but at 11 years old I made sure to stay as far away from his practicing as possible. To my pleasant surprise, Laura was not nearly so screechy. While I admit that my hearing could be a) biased as her mother and b) dulled by years of screaming children, I think she has a talent for this instrument. I love to sit and watch her practice. She sits on the piano bench or cross-legged on the floor (ala Lindsey Stirling) and her fingers move confidently over the fingerboard, the bow smoothly passing over the strings. She’s not perfect but she’s pretty darn good for her age.

Anyways, behavioral changes. Laura has some anger and mood issues we’re constantly working on. Some of it is working out with age, but to anyone who is struggling with a special needs child, I would jump up and down yelling “Get them an instrument!” She is happier, calmer, and more…centered. Again, she’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. But she’s better. Part of that is the homeschooling I’m sure. But in a period of two days earlier this year when she participated in two performances of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, I had a perfect child. No, seriously!!! Somehow that public affirmation worked magic.

I love magic.

As I listen to this CD, I think of my little girl learning and growing. I hope she is feeling like she has a place in this world and that she is already doing so much that is good.

To Those Tempted To Homeschool-An Open Letter

July 23, 2013

I heard somewhere that you were thinking about homeschooling. Don’t bother asking where, we’re like the Mafia, we never tell. But since you’re at least interested, take a seat and listen to my spiel.

As tempting as homeschool sounds, you’re uncertain; suspicious even. What about socialization, grades, keeping up, and the persistent fear that your kid will turn out to be one of those homeschoolers? You know, the weird ones. Oh, and if you have any physical difficulties or chronic diseases, how on earth can you be a full-time mom AND teacher? Do you have a spouse or other family member doubting your ability to do all this?

Not only did my husband (mostly secretly) have these fears, but I did as well. I have a chronic disease and ADHD. I cannot say from day to day what will be accomplished. And some years not much has gotten done, like the year of the baby, then the other baby, then the miscarriages and living with the in-laws. Not complaining, trying to point out that life will mess up every schedule to some degree. Yes, of course it will be hard. Insanely hard. You will have to choose between math homework and piles of laundry or doctor’s appointments and field trips. Many times the chores will go undone. And sometimes the schoolwork will take the backseat. Either way, it will be okay.

When you first go into homeschooling, you’re nervous, almost paralyzed with fear of messing it up. You feel the weight of those twelve years and the immensity of your responsibility. How can you possibly do this? Your child’s entire academic and world success rests on you: a stressed-out, harried, hopefully sane mom or dad.

This is supposed to be calming, right? I guess I’m not doing a very good job. Here’s the key: three things to make this whole wonderfully terrifying and terrifyingly wonderful homeschool thing work.

1. breathe.

2. accept that some/many days you’ll be lucky to have these people dressed and fed.

3. always continue to do better.

That’s it, good luck!

Just kidding, here’s the rest.

You’ll mess up. Don’t let the failures define your homeschool. Celebrate those days when you have been an amazing homeschool mom. I mean, seriously, you were awesome! People commented on your wonderful, smart, mature children, the aforementioned children got to see brains at the local college, and even did well on the standardized test. Boo and a ‘Yah!

In response to your concerns: the only thing that will completely allay them is proof, every year that you can see tangible progress in your homeschool. For my husband, the behavioral changes in our daughter (for the better) and her decent score on the CAT exam have him feeling better about this whole subversive lifestyle. Me, I’m not as focused on the numbers. Okay, I lie. I called up my mom the second I found out that I haven’t ruined her grandchildren and did a happy dance over the phone.  But the longer I’m going about this, the more I begin to see the vision of homeschooling. My kids are happy. They have an entire world of learning at their feet and appetites whetted to dig in.They are learning to do things in real life, not on a worksheet. They are excited about our plans for our family and look for ways to contribute. I think they are well on their way to catching the same vision. It is so sweet to have them home with you and they learn so much just from going about life at home: helping, cooking, cleaning. They become each other’s friends, mentors, and teachers. And, most importantly to me, each other’s protectors. This is my proof. And I get more every day.

Oh, and they’re not perfect. They will fight. And fight. You will tear your hear out. And you’ll want to invest in straitjackets. But it’s not legal. I checked.

But then you have the moments where they are perfect. Brief beautiful moments when you can see the man or woman they will become and how what you are doing will help them achieve it. Ah, I love it.

Whether you homeschool or not, catch this vision. Create a home that schools, even if it’s not a homeschool.

But, really, homeschool. ;)

 

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