Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Becoming Catwoman

This is a story about the very mysterious, sudden plethora of cats we have, and has nothing to do with Batman.

For the record, let me tell you my background with cats.

As I was growing up, we never once had a cat. We didn’t need to, because our neighbors had cats, and the cats thought we were their extended family. My strongest cat memories involve a certain male cat named Razz, who was forever trying to sneak into our house. He would camp out on our front doormat, waiting for the door to crack open as we tried to sneak out, at which opportunity he would dart in through the door, run through the house, up the stairs, and hide under my parents’ king size bed.

Then we would spend a good deal of time trying to coax out Razz, who never came, until we would be trying to pull him out, which usually involved some scratching or teeth. Suffice it to say, I have not-the-fondest memory of cats.

Fast forward 25 years. When Peter and I moved to the country, we talked briefly about getting a “mouser.” Our slowness to act was partly because 1. I had bad memories of cats, and 2. I had enough small mouths to feed with just my little kids. Then we discovered that we had foxes, owls, a snake, hawks, and plenty of other wildlife to control any rodent population that might consider taking up residence.

Everything went fine until we did construction 2 years ago and put in a pool. The owl left. The foxes left. Thankfully, the snake left. Apparently, the heavy machinery was not their style. We were sad to see them go. So far, everything but the owl and the snake have returned.

Then we had flood season in the country this spring, and they water rose in the dike nearby, and one night I went in the garage and saw a RAT. I was petrified. I had never seen a rat this big (think R.O.U.S.) and it was vertically scaling a wall like nobody’s business. I screamed and ran inside. Peter was thrilled and ran to get a gun. I guess we see things differently.

That’s when the cat talk got serious.

Next thing I know I am at the pet store with Hannah, choosing a spayed, female, shelter cat. I spent $50. In return I got a mousehead every morning for the first few days (she ate the rest of the body), plenty of slain lizards, and not a trace of a rat since May 24, 2011 (the date of acquisition).

Here is Snow. We love her.

Then we noticed that another cat seemed to be visiting a lot. It was a Siamese cat, who helped itself to Snow’s food in the garage, via the cat door, and was extremely arrogant. Let’s just say I wasn’t thrilled. Dumb cat! Don’t you know we only have “service animals” here? Stealing our poor, innocent, mouse-killing cat’s food! Go find another home! We could see it had a collar, but when we tried to get near her she just took off.

Then one day Peter was in the garage attempting to rebuild a very sad weed-eater. He thought he heard mewing, but ignored it.

We went out that night. We saw a play. When we got home, we were greeted with this letter from Hannah.

Here is the transcription:

Dear Mommy,

We have KITTENS in our garage! Mr. Siamese is now officially Mrs. Siamese! Now we have two cats - and one being SIAMESE! The one I saw was a gray-and-white bicolor. Papa saw two different ones.

Love, Hannah

P.S. I told you spaying was ridiculous.

Suddenly, we have 3 kittens. So cute! Even though I can’t stand to touch a cat, these were so CUTE!

So Mr. Siamese is really Mrs. Siamese. She’s nursing the kittens. Awfully cute…I’m sure someone is looking for this cat and her babies.

This goes on for a few days, and Mrs. Siamese gets used to us, and lets Hannah pet her enough for Hannah to get a look at her collar – which has no tags. What?! OK, we’ll care for her since she’s nursing. We put out lots of food and water. I remember what nursing is like – you eat and drink a lot!

I asked Hannah if the Siamese and her kittens have names. I suggest Marie, Berlioz, and Toulouse, the names of the kitties in the movie The Aristocats. (French names sound so exotic, you know.) She replies that she’s afraid to name them because she doesn’t want to get too attached in case we have to return them to someone. Wow, I think to myself, that is a mature thought for my 8 year old.

The next morning she tells me the kittens are named Nicole, Olivia, and Penelope. She then proceeds to write a hilarious letter to her pen-pal and close friend, Kiah, on the way to church.

Here is the letter.

Here is the transcription in case you can’t read it.

Dear Kiah,

It turn[s] out we have three kittens! The owner hasn't shown up yet, so I have found some names that I like: and here they are: Nicole, Olivia, and Penelope. You won't believe how Mommy was "Oh, how cute" she said, "Oh, Hannah, I just want to have another baby just to see them!" (My number one and deluxe excuse for spaying.) The big girl's name is Edith. Get it? We named them to spell this: NOPE!

Love, Hannah


I'm not making this up! I couldn't.

That was Sunday. Monday brought us 3 more kittens.

My parents rolled in the gate with their windows down, and noticed hawks crying and circling the wood pile. As they slowed down, they heard loud mewing. They told the kids playing outside to check the woodpile, that the kittens had somehow gotten out of the garage.

Yes, there were 3 more. When we retrieved them and put them “back” the original three popped out of their hideout in the garage. They are the same size, and same set of markings. They’ve got to be Mrs. Siamese’s kittens as well. When she returned from her prowling around, she started nursing them all.

Folks, today is Tuesday, and I have 8 cats. Less that 2 months ago, I had no cats. I am not a cat person! Still I found myself at Petsmart today, buying kitten food, and inquiring about spaying and neutering. The last thing I need is even one more cat. Did you know that it costs around $350 to spay or neuter just one single cat? I have seven that need it! I guess Peter and I are going to have to figure this out ASAP.

Somehow chickens are so much easier.

P.S. Any name suggestions for the newest three are appreciated. Something to go with the letters N.O.P.E. would be good.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Inspirational Cooking

What's for dinner tonight? Tonight we're having Pizza Braids. I'm kind of excited about it. I'm embarrassed to say that I'm in my 30's and have just for the first time attempted to make whole wheat pizza crust from scratch. It just seems like something every good housewife should be able to do. It's rising nicely right now. I'll admit, I totally faked the whole kneading thing and watched a video on YouTube to see how it's done. I know my mom taught me this skill, but it's been a while...

One thing I've realized about myself is that I am not a great cook. My family doesn't complain, they eat happily, but let's just say I have a long way to go towards gourmet. I would love to be a gourmet cook. I always tell Peter that I want to take some cooking classes, or just go to one or two of his CLE courses where they have classes like that for bored spouses, but I don't have time to take a class, and even if I could go to his courses with him, what would I do with the kids while I went to the class?

Today, I just had fun in the kitchen. My mom took the girls to her house for some special time with Mimi, and I had just the boys here. Two of them were sleeping(!) so it was just Daniel and me in the kitchen. He sat there eating every scrap I would toss at him, and I made dough, cut up pizza fixings, etc. We chatted and I created. It really helps to have a friend in the kitchen! Often times, Hannah helps me cook, but it seems like I have at least 4 others in there with us, and I'm on such alert to make sure that someone doesn't pour an entire box of baking soda into something or give the baby eggshells that I'm just focused on safety instead of the love of cooking.

I have my friend Jenn at The Sassy Chicken to thank for her post about pizza braids. She also linked another site that is really inspirational, For the Love of Cooking. If I could just cook like that woman, OR take photos like she does, I would be really, really happy. I love cooking with fresh, organic ingredients that are ripe in that season. Tonight's pizza braids are getting cilantro from my herb garden.

I hope it turns out!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I'm Ga-Ga Over My Attorney!

I just want you all to know that today is International Be Kind to Lawyers Day. I love how their website says that this unsung holiday is strategically placed between April Fools Day (April 1), and Tax Day (April 15). It's very appropriate. And since my husband is an attorney, and both of our fathers are attorneys, I'm singing out "Happy International Be Kind to Lawyers Day!"

Check this website for more information, or as they say "For press inquiries, please call (314) 821-8700 or simply stick your head out your window and shout, "I'm ga-ga over my attorney!"

I love this. Here is how you can participate:

The best part of INTERNATIONAL BE KIND TO LAWYERS DAY is that you're the judge of exactly how much you participate. Here is a brief list of idea starters to get your legal kindness flowing.

- Take your favorite lawyer out to breakfast or lunch (make sure it's not billable!).

- Send your lawyer a "just because" greeting card or a bouquet of flowers.

- Switch your ring tone to the "dah-dah" sound from NBC's "Law & Order."

- Abstain from telling lawyer jokes for 24 hours.

- If you can't abstain, tell your funniest lawyer joke but switch out the lawyer with your profession. (I bet it's still funny.)

- If you accidentally say something wrong or inappropriate on this day, just follow it up with the words, "Strike that from the record." Then continue talking as if nothing happened.

- Salute the flag as you walk or drive by your local courthouse.

- Watch your favorite legal drama and pretend you're the one delivering the powerful closing argument. Some suggested films: "The Verdict," "To Kill A Mockingbird," "A Few Good Men" and "With Justice For All."

- Do some simple repairs around the house with a gavel instead of your trusty hammer.

- Try to slip words like "I object!" or "You're out of order!" into your everyday conversations.

- Try to write up your own Articles of Organization for an LLC or draft your own will. See? It's harder than it looks.

- Take notes at a meeting on a legal pad. Don't you just feel smarter looking at the glorious yellow hue of that 8-1/2" x 14" pad?

- Go ahead, be creative. What are some ways you can be kind to lawyers today? Be sue to let us know so that we can add your ideas to our list.

Entertainment Weekly posted their list of the Top 15 On-Screen Lawyers. What do you think? http://www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20189419,00.html

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Listmaker Turns Illustrator

If you know our family, you have probably already guessed by the title who this post features. Yep, the oldest daughter.

She is a listmaker. She likes to know what the rules are. She likes to make the rules. A word to the wise...she doesn't always play by the rules. At a recent Scrabble match, I couldn't figure out how she came up with so many uber creative words when she would occasionally let me see her tile bar, until a few Scrabble tiles slipped out of the edge of her sleeve onto the table! Hannah!

She also took the initiative to surreptitiously hide every last one of her father's birthday presents earlier this month. She did however, make a very nice treasure map for him to locate each present in the house. Then she hung it on the mantle so he could reference it easier. Thoughtful, eh? Notice that we still have no front teeth. (I love this.)

Here is something I found recently in a construction paper notebook. It is a list of school rules, complete with illustrations. I'm not going to post all the artwork, because it takes a long time to upload.

Here's the list of rules...

...and illustrations...

...and translation:

Class Room [Rules:]

1. No fancy ribbons on your pant buckles.
2. No smoking allowed!
3. No reading books except at storytime.
4. No eating or drinking except for an experiment.
5. No alcohol.
6. No high heels.
7. No play swords.
8. No pets.
9. No playing instruments until music time.
10. Do not play or splash the paint.
11. No reading books snuggled into school books.
12. Boys: No bullying.
13. Girls: No bragging about your dresses.
14. No night lights allowed.
15. No funny noises.
16. Sorry, we do not take visitors.
17. Don't wear club shirts.

You'd think our school was run like the military! I don't know where she gets this stuff. I'm just her mom.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Table Manners

I think we're the only family out there who hasn't mastered table manners, but we're working on it.

The other night we were correcting one child's table manners, and Hannah exclaimed "There are SOOO many rules! I just can't keep track of them all!"

It wasn't long afterward that I found the following posted on the wall next to the table. Apparently, she made a list of as many things as she could think of.

Here is a transcription:

1. Children (12 and under) cannot talk [when food is] on their plate.
2. No interrupting.
3. No touching the mirror.
4. No water spitting.
5. No talking with your mouth full.
6. No eating fork foods with your hands.
7. No food playing.
8. The one you touch is the one you take.
9. Toddlers (3 and under) cannot pour liquid.
10. No complaining about your food.
11. Don't add too much salt and butter.
12. Ask for everything you get.
13. Say please and thank you.
14. If you might fall asleep, excuse yourself.
15. No toys except centerpieces.
16. No books except centerpieces.
17. No teasing.
18. No burping.
19. Chew with your lips closed.
20. Keep babies older than nine months in a high chair.
21. No nursing at the table.
22. No being rude.
23. No mocking.
24. Don't steal food.
25. No hitting.

Does she have a career in law, law enforcement, or politics ahead of her?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Best Friends

Tonight while doing the dishes, Hannah asked Daniel "Do you have a best friend?"

Somehow this was not a question I had ever thought to ask my 6 year old boy. I knew that Hannah had a best friend, but she's a girl. It's different.

There was a long pause.

"Daniel, did you hear the question?" I asked


"Buddy, who is your best friend?" Hannah asked again

"Is it Hannah?" I asked, thinking that he had probably never thought about it himself.

Another long pause.

And then, as if it had just dawned on him, he said quietly "Caleb."

And my heart melted. It's a dream come true to have your children call each other best friends, especially when the one asked is speaking of their 4 year old little brother. I only wish that Caleb had been in the room to hear when Daniel said it. Caleb absolutely loves Daniel and looks up to him, copying him in everything. It is a beautiful evening here. My heart is still warm.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Peace, Dude.

I've gotten a number of emails from people from readers far and hear about a post I wrote a few months ago that mentioning a biblical way to help your children resolve their own differences. I've been responding individually, because I didn't know how to insert a link until today. I just spent several minutes of desperate searching, and of course, found it totally easy - as long as you think like Blogger. Anyway, let me know if the links don't work.

I had originally seen a link by a friend on Facebook to a post to Raising Olives, and I went over to investigate. Folks, I am barely making it with 5 kids, so I figure if a woman has 8 kids and she finds the time to blog and run her family too, she must be worth a few minutes of reading! In this case, I think it was a providential find, as I was really blessed by her post about Solving Sibling Squabbles. (If I'm doing overkill on the links, it's because I'm trying to repeat the process a few times so I don't forget.)

By way of update on the results of our using a Biblical approach to help our children solve their differences, I can tell you that it has really worked for our 6 and 7 year old children, and to some extent with our 4 year old. Conflicts between our 6 and 7 year old kids are being resolved regularly without parental oversight. Conflicts between either the 6 or 7 year old with a 4 year old sometimes need a little oversight. Conflicts that involve the 2 year old ALWAYS need oversight, because well, toddlers don't reason very well. I honestly think that is just a developmental issue, and that they'll get it as long as we teach them, and stick with it.

Peace, Dude. Let me know how it goes.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Daddy and the Toe Volcano

This is the story of Daddy and the Toe Volcano, which could also be called "Peter, the Best Daddy in the World."

This morning Daniel came into our room with a very bloody big toe. Apparently, he had a corner of his toenail too long, and it had snapped backwards, but not snapped off. He was tough, and wanted a bandaid. It was gross.

I turned away at the sight of it. I set him on the counter by the sink to wash it, but I was just plain repulsed, so I asked if Daddy wanted to help. Daddy came up, and he turned away in horror too. It looked painful. He told Daniel that we were going to need to put some hydrogen peroxide on it.

"Will it hurt, Daddy?" Daniel asked.

"Maybe a little, just a sting, while it gets the bad bacteria out." Peter replied.

"Not as bad as a bee sting, Buddy." I added.

"Yes, and it will do some foaming...like a volcano!" Peter said.

And that is when the crisis became fun, like 'a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.' Thank goodness for Peter.

Yesterday was Daniel's 6th birthday. We only have friend birthday parties every 3rd year for each kid (3,6,9...) and this was Daniel's year. He had his volcano birthday party yesterday. He and Papa spent a week making a very awesome volcano which they had erupt during the party, and we had rootbeer floats that ran over instead of birthday cake.

So when Daddy mentioned the possibility of a toe volcano, it was like he had suddenly been BLESSED with this injury!

Peter gingerly put the peroxide on his toe. It foamed up nastily, complete with Daddy making volcano sound effects. Daniel got in on the sound effects. And before we knew it, the toe volcano had erupted, and was done.

"Can we do it again later, Daddy?" he asked.

"Yes, probably twice a day, until it is safe enough to trim the nail. We'll keep it covered with a bandaid in between times." Peter said.

It made me so glad to be his wife. I would have never thought of that! I'm sure he is the best Daddy in the world.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Hot Dog

Last night during dinner Hannah looked up and exclaimed "There's a four- footed animal on our property!" Since we don't have any animals with 4 feet, I ran to window to get a look.

This is what we saw. Some neighbor's dog wandered in the gate and was taking a swim in the pond. That's one hot dog. When I took the picture he just looked at me like "Thanks for having this pool, lady. I needed it!" Then he jumped out and headed out the gate. There is never a dull moment here.

When Peter got home from I told him about it and he wanted to know if I had turned the waterfall on to scare him out (the switch for the waterfall is in the house). Why didn't I think of that? Not that I wanted to scare him away, but it would have been pretty funny to see the dog's response!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Abby is 21 months now, and is a bundle of joy. This morning my heart melted when we were having our family worship time, and she volunteered "I want be wise!...I want make Mommy Daddy happy!"

As much as my heart is so pleased that she wants to by wise, and to please her father and mother, I couldn't help thinking of how it would make God happy if we as adults were striving to "Be wise! Make Heavenly Father happy!"

Recently, Peter and I have struggled with how to steer our children towards sibling harmony. The 7 seater minivan is full, and we're just going to have to learn to get along in that amount of space for the time being. As a parent, I've felt like I'm just stumbling around in the dark trying to figure out how to get family harmony back.

Then I saw a blog that I've never seen before and it was talking about applying principles from Matthew 18:15-17 to peacemaking within a family. I showed it to Peter, and we both wondered why we had never thought of it ourselves. I don't feel qualified to go into much depth on it right now, because I'm still trying to figure out myself, but the next morning we read Matthew 18 for our family devotions, and talked about settling conflicts between siblings peaceably and biblically. We even did some role playing, which the kids found both funny and helpful.

Then this morning Abby declares that she wants to be wise, even if just to please us. Talk about out of the mouths of babes...They teach me so much.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Click to play this Smilebox photo album: Here He Is!
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Another photo album by Smilebox

Here are some photos of our precious boy. You will need to maximize the screen to see it correctly. Samuel is the perfect addition to our family!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dirty Laundry

Whoa Nelly!!! Let's just say a lot has happened since I last blogged. For starters, we had a baby, and he's now more than 6 weeks old. His name is Samuel Lorne, a family name on Peter's side of the family. It really doesn't do him justice to write without putting a picture of how adorable he is, so I'll have to write again and post pictures - when I am home.

Today - I am not. I am actually nextdoor at my parents' house (they are out of town - hope we can keep it clean!) with my 5 kids, and 4 loads of laundry, because my washing machine has stopped. Believe it or not, I actually packed up the car with the hampers and children and drove next door, because it was too much for me to ferry back and forth by myself. I'm sitting here enjoying the sounds and smells of clothes being washed, while letting the bigger kids watch Bob the Builder, and the little kids play next to me. Abby is systematically emptying every toy consisting of 30 pieces or more, and Samuel is contently watching a singing frog light up, because that's about all a newborn can be entertained with.

Things are so busy here. Sometimes I try to estimate when things will slow down and be more manageable, and so far I'm coming up with something when I'm in my forties. Please tell me it will be sooner! Life with 5 is not much more complicated than life with 4, except for nursing and nap schedules. Life without my washing machine is significantly more complicated by having #5 though, as he creates a lot of dirty laundry, besides our regular laundry for small children living in the country (read "dirt"), and an increasing volume of pool towels (which is a good thing).

Aside from increased laundry and the inability to wash it, the only thing I had not forseen about having another family member is that our car has shrunk. We have a very fine Honda Oddyssey that seats 7. I love this car, and that's saying something for someone who very reluctantly went from a really fun little Acura to a Mommy mini-van. Last night we had a very serious talk about a full-size van. This is the one change I am having trouble with. We can't get an SUV (we already shopped them), because we have so many car seats that we would have to take at least one out every time we wanted to go anywhere, just to climb into the back seat. As much as I am reluctant to have a giant van, that's too much inconvenience even for me. After taking a 4 hour trip yesterday (2 hours each way), a van is looking REAL GOOD. There is just no room left in there, and the kids need a little bit of space. Caleb finally fell asleep - on Hannah. She shoved him off, he started crying, and this woke up Samuel. The chain reaction continued until I think all 7 of us had weighed in on the issue. Yes, I need a van, and a washing machine.

The repairman will be here late this afternoon. I won't be here then, so I'm hoping he can fix it without needing any more information. Peter thinks I just wore it out. I looked up the average life expectancy for washers (no actuarial tables, just the web) and it said with an average of 400 washes per year they will last approximately 14 years. Ours is 7 years old, but I think I wash approximately 650-700 loads per year. Hmmm...We'll see what the repairman says.

Well, I must dash off now and make some lunch for the happy crowd. It's nice to be out of the house for a few hours, blogging and listening to my baby coo. I don't even mind have 4 loads to fold, because it is CLEAN laundry. How nice.