Stage Whispers

Parents with small children cringe at the blurting statements of those who have not figured out the skill of whispering without making any noise, but if they step back and look at the situation outside of the embarrassment, the hilarity needs to be shared with those who are fortunate enough to sit somewhere less entertaining distracting. I give you some quotes verbatim from my small fry in church.

What do you stink like? (This is accompanied by loud sniffing.)

Why is he talking so loudly?

Can you look into my nose and see if there are any big boogies?

Is church about done?

The Smartie Man is here!

I am starving!

Are we going to have dessert? May I have dessert today? (Dessert is the reward for good behavior in public assemblies.)

Is church about done?

There is Doddy! May I go sit with him?

Am I being good?

I have to go potty! ( Shh… Just wait a few minutes then church will be over.)

But I have to go now! I will pee myself!

“Amen,” says the preacher.

Amen.  That means we are done!

Was I good? Do I get dessert? 

I remind myself that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak, particularly weak when it takes more than 2 hours of sitting still to earn a piece of cake. I myself am afflicted with a terrific urge to giggle at solemn times such as at my aunt’s funeral or during ponderous prayers where God is being informed of events He already knows quite well. It isn’t exactly irreverence, but more the incongruity of a matter that sets me off. I suppose there are times when I shouldn’t have dessert after church either.

Some Good Medicine and Other Stuff


Last night Gregory heaved a gusty sigh as it sank in that he had really, truly done the last lessons in third grade: “I cannot believe tomorrow I will be a free man!”

At five this morning Gabe kissed me good bye and went to work. I sighed, rolled over and promptly fell asleep again. At 6:30 the piping little voices started up in the girls’ room, and then a loud screeching disagreement, apparently over who would be the mom and who would be the children. I sighed, got up, sneezed violently four times and made coffee.

It is gonna be a fine day! The boys really did finish the 170th lesson in their books yesterday. All that remains is logging in their field trips and finishing up their portfolios. I should really do that today, but probably I won’t. They have never gotten done this early in the year before. This success is due to very few vacation days and a lot of Saturdays. I think the motivation comes primarily from the uncle who always beats them by starting early and doing Saturdays. 🙂 He still got done first this year, but not by such a big margin.

I have been scratching my perennial borders this past week, moving stuff around, trimming bushes. It makes me so happy! Gabe thinks one should plan the plantings with research and care, then step aside and let them grow, but I am incapable of doing that. This year I moved two bittersweet vines from the shed to the fence where they can climb all they want and not damage any roof shingles. I moved a rose bush and a hydrangea from the shady side of the house to more sunny locations then put hostas into the shady places. The peony plant that I have been babying in an obscure location is now big enough to bloom by the picket fence, and some of the Dutch irises took a fast wheelbarrow ride down to the pond where they grace the bank. So it goes; I really cannot help myself. Nearly all of my flowering plants are gifts or swaps from friends or family. One cannot plan that and must simply move with it.

Last summer my husband spent almost all of his spare days working at trenching and draining our swampy land into the pond. This spring we  have a new spot for a garden patch/orchard. The soil is hard clay, so we have a lot of work to do before we plant trees, but I am so happy for this space! The men around here have been building a fence to keep out the critters. We will finally have a garden big enough for vining things like melons and squash! Actually, it is huge, like a field. 🙂 I am quailing a bit at the thought of all the maintenance, but Gabe is the one who does all the fruit growing around here, and that will be the bigger part of the work. Unlike perennials, fruit does take a lot of research and knowledge, and he is the right one for the job.

I have been living life in my red rubber boots, only taking brief breaks in the kitchen to cook up double batches of food so that we can eat leftovers the next day. If I were to hire domestic help, it would be a cook or a maid, but definitely not a gardener. 🙂

On the rainy days I have been working on the book I bought for myself as an end-of-school treat: The Father’s Tale by Michael O’Brien.  I haven’t given the children their books yet, but I couldn’t wait, and with over a 1000 pages, it will take me a while. What I should have done is wait to crack the book until the portfolios are finished and ready to be evaluated, but I have discipline issues.

Olivia mourned, “I never win anything,” after dropping her name into a door prize drawing. And then she won a doll, which is now the Favorite Child in her little doll family. “Mama, what color are your eyes?” to which I say, “Blue.”  She concludes, “Well, since mine are brown and this doll’s eyes are blue, she must have gotten a gene from her grandma.”

And lastly there is Addy, capering around in a towel after her bath: “I am a fancy little Egyptian! A fancy little Egyptian!” I ask, “Whatever do you mean?” and she explains matter-of-factly, “Egyptians dance in just towels.”

So there you have the funnies that had me laughing in the last 24. Why don’t more mothers draw comic strips?


A Question

I have a son (not mentioning names here or anything) who baffles me and delights me and makes me howl with laughter and irritates me terribly by turns.

How is it that the person who last brushed his teeth “the day after tomorrow” (he was serious) can tell me long involved stories about the digestive processes of owls?

How can a child who forgot every day where his seat was at the table even though it never changed, be able to show me the perfect little chef delineated by Minnesota, Wisconsin, and so on, ending with the Kentucky frying pan where he is making chicken?

And today when I told him to put the gloves away “where they belong”, he said, “I am going to need latitude and longitude for that.” Yet he could quote verbatim a long Calvin and Hobbes comic strip.

Can somebody tell me what is up with that?

Can somebody tell me whether I should continually pull him ruthlessly back to reality and the job at hand, or should I laugh and let it go?

Never Relax on a Monday

I was sitting, quite inert this morning at 6:45 when Smallest Thing 1 woke up hopping. She immediately found me in my reading spot (all my children have homing devices to find mama) and admonished, “Mama, don’t reyax. Neveh reyax. Just get up with me.” And that was her chipper advice for me on this Monday.

I didn’t take her advice. It took me all morning to get into gear. Maybe the oatmeal wasn’t energizing enough. (Some of you may actually get the pun intended there.) I know it (the oatmeal, not the pun) reduced Olivia to tears.  Oatmeal makes Gregory cheer and Olivia cry. What is a mother to do?

This morning I pulled out a frozen tater tot casserole after I got the scholars schooling. No cooking today, every scrap of leftovers licked out of the fridge at lunch. My goal is to do Rita’s photo book in February. I am trying. I really am. I messed with it all day. The stuff is all spread out in our reading room, which is now a verboten room for  small children. Stickers, cutters, papers, glue dots, all seem designed to attract little girls with sticky fingers. I am having fun with her book but I can hardly wait to finish it. 🙂

Why did I make two “impossible” goals for February, writing every day and arranging 295 photos in a scrapbook? But I made it half way through both projects and I am not twitching too badly yet. I will “reyax” when I am done.

Guest Post from my Son

Gregory wrote this during our deep freeze weather. This is a child who has been known to weep over a one-sentence journal entry, so I was a bit surprised at the rapidly scratching pencil. When I read his story, I remembered what he shared with me just a few days ago. “Mama, if I daydream all day long for about 3 weeks, do you know what happens?” Of course, I knew some things that happen, like a very exasperated mother trying to get his attention, but actually, I didn’t know. “Well, if I do enough daydreaming, I don’t dream at night! It’s like I used up all the dreams!” It does make sense, doesn’t it? I give you his story, titled:

The Polar Regoin

I knew it would be a very unusual day. When I woke up and felt how cold the floor was. I walked over and opened the door and saw before my astoinished eyes a……… penguin demolishing an icicle!!!

I heard a growl. And looked over and locked eyes with a polar bear! My first thought was (I knew my dad had got lost wen we moved!) fortunately I had a baseball bat at my side!

To bad he didn’t have time to tell his fellow bears about the strange thing on two legs with a stick that he swung on him nearly nocking his head off! (I did nock his head off!)

I guessed the bat was going 90 miles an hour.

Then I woke up! To bad.

Are We There Yet?

The paved roads only brought us close, but the last 8 miles were graded tan Michigan dirt under a tunnel of golden yellow trees. It is off-peak season in the  Upper Peninsula, mostly deserted and calm around the lakes and waterways. We have been blessed with weather 20 degrees warmer than is typical for October. It feels like Utopia… With wifi. 🙂 Our cabin is 110 years old, furnished with a charming disregard to modern ways, lights all operated with pulls and strings tied to various parts of the walls. There is an indoor toilet and a tiny mention of a shower.

Currently the boys are out in a rowboat on the lake, fishing and mostly rowing around. The little girls cheered when they heard that they can wash the supper soup mugs in the teeny sink. So here I sit, soaking in the ambiance of a perfect autumn evening. There are trails, there are meandering mazes of roads through the state forest land, and there are no. other. people. I brought four books to read, and a duffel bag with children’s books, toys, and games, in the event that we should hit a rainy day. Three days of blissful quiet before we resume the journey to South Dakota.

We decided to split up the travel time a bit, seeing we haven’t road tripped any further than 4 hours in the last 3 years. Even so, we were hardly driving for an hour before Rita said, “I think I just wanna stay home. I didn’t know it was going to take so long.”