Who Says You Can’t Go Home

To my own beautiful children…and many other returning college students…five things to keep in mind before you come home for another visit…said with all love…and a touch of exaggeration…

1. You are going back to roughly the same home that you grew up in. In your absence, Mom and Dad probably haven’t renovated the house so that you have your own little guest apartment, complete with room service and housekeeping. More than likely, you will need to share a bathroom. If you shared a bedroom before you left home, chances are you’ll have to do it again. So (and it’s truly remarkable that this needs to be said…particularly since you have a roommate in your “other life”) you need to be considerate of others. The bathroom sink is not your personal storage cabinet. The bedroom floor is not (ahem) your personal trashcan. Your stuff goes in a drawer or a closet or a hamper. Seriously.

2.The world is not nocturnal. Yes, we know that you might be, but realize that you are in the minority. Your family most assuredly isn’t. That means…among other things…that your parents (and siblings) need to sleep at night because they need to get up in the morning and do crazy things like work or care for the other children. So…wait for it…you can’t be nocturnal either. Not while you’re staying with them. Sure, nobody cares if you stay up (and sleep in) a little later…but the emphasis is on the word little. Watch a movie until 1:00? No problem. Be out of the house until 1:00? A bit of a problem. When your parents say they can’t sleep until you’re home, it’s not that they’re trying to suck the fun out of your life; it’s just that they really can’t sleep until you’re home. And remember…they have to get up. You stay up way later than that all the time, you say? Yes, and you can get right back to those habits…as soon as you leave your parents’ house.

3. We know you’re tired. We do. After all, we’ve seen your class schedule. Three classes on Fridays?! What do those people expect? You’re not a machine! But, seriously, we know you’re tired. So take a couple days to sleep until noon. That’s all cool. After that, though, it’s time to get up off the mat and join the rest of the world. All that sleeping is going to make you feel worse anyway. If you’re not working (and if you’re home more than a couple of weeks, you really should be working), pitch in around the house. Reconnect with your folks and your sibs. Dry a dish, for the love. You’ll still get plenty of sleep…since you’ll be going to bed at a human hour again.

4. Remember that you’re not a guest. You’re not. That day will come, to a certain extent, but it’s not here yet. You’re still our kid. You’re still one of a group of siblings. If everyone else is helping clean up the kitchen, it’s probably not appropriate for you to go turn on the TV. If everyone else is tidying the house and you’re not sure where you fit anymore, just ask. You still know how to operate a vacuum, right? And the schedule that you grew up with? It’s probably still intact. Mom’s kitchen didn’t used to be a 24/7 cafe? It still isn’t. Eat with the family. Sleep with the family. Get up with the family. Making any sense?

5. We realize that being home again is a bit of tight fit. We do. But remember that it’s a bit of a tight fit for all of us. It might seem like you’re the only one making concessions, but you’re really not…that’s just a topic for another blog. And I hate to say this, but even if you are the only one making concessions, there’s a reason for that. Check the mailbox. See all those bills? Are any of them addressed to you? I didn’t think so.

Feeling really cramped? Even after only a few days? Then that’s probably confirmation that it’s time to be on your own. I know exactly how you feel, because I feel that way when I visit my parents. Why? Because I’m all grown up, and my childhood home is just a place to visit now. You’re growing up, too, and we’re so proud of you, kid. Now…see you in a couple months:)


First Days of School

After years of all of our kids attending school right here at home, this year we’re spread out further than ever. 

Fiffer started second grade on Monday. 


Feffer started kindergarten (in a different building) on Monday, but the kindergarteners only attended for one hour…and that was with their parents.


On Tuesday, they were ready and eager to get on the school bus. I’m not wild about them riding the bus, but with everyone going here, there, and everywhere, we really don’t have much choice. 


Right now, Feff is my bus-stop buddy. We make sure Fiffer and Feffer are all aboard safely, and then we take Sunshine and head to the park for a while. After Labor Day, though, Feff will ride a different bus to preschool (in yet a different building) every morning.                


Dillon started eighth grade today (in a different town).  


On August 25, Quincy will start her sophomore year of college (in a different state), Josiah will start his senior year of high school (right here at home), and Hayden will start her sophomore year of high school (also right here at home). 


Happy learning to everyone!

What Goes Around…

I was a smart-aleck as a kid. I admit it. I had several junior high teachers that I’m sure would have liked to string me up by my toes. But…and this becomes more critical the older I get…I never talked that way to my mother. I didn’t. Neither did my sister. Although I never remember the woman laying a hand on either one of us, there was an unspoken certainty that she would have knocked us into the middle of next week if we had sassed her. True, there was no real basis for that fear, but it was enough to keep my mouth pretty much closed throughout my adolescence. 

So it hardly seems fair that…somehow…I have not been able to pass that same fear down to my children…particularly that darn baby. Dillon came home today (after spending his day at church with Jason…his school starts tomorrow…alleluia) loaded for bear. After I watched him demolish the little boys with his disdain (which is so sad to watch, because Feffer worships the ground Dillon walks on), he and I had a very calm, very quiet come-to-Jesus meeting. He refused to cooperate and kept arguing and sassing until I finally told him to finish his chores and retire to his room for the evening. We both worked on chores in silence for a couple of minutes, and then he tried to strike up a friendly conversation with me. I pointed out to him that I find it amazing that he can be so incredibly difficult, not repent, and then act like nothing has happened. He worked quietly for another minute and then looked up and said, “So…can I be happy now?”

M: What do you mean?

D (in the cheekiest voice ever): Well, when I tried to talk to you a minute ago, you didn’t seem to want me to be happy. So…can I be happy now? How exactly do you want me to be?

Had the other kids been in the house, they would have gasped (as they have before). As it was, a few seconds of silence ticked by, before I answered him (barely above a whisper), “How do I want you to be? I want you to be silent. And then I want you to be gone to your room.” 

Good heavens. It’s coming around, for sure…but it hardly seems fair:)

Mind Benders

Have you ever done a puzzle like this?

Sharon had a birthday party, and among her friends who attended were Angela, Carlotta, Elias, Harold, and lgor, whose last names are Durwood, Forman, Kramer, Lansdowne, and Nardon. The gifts they gave Sharon were a book, a game, a jigsaw puzzle, a model airplane kit, and a compact disc. Read the clues to find each friend’s full name and gift. 1. Elias didn’t give Sharon a compact disc. 2. One of the girls thought lgor was kind of strange for giving Sharon a model airplane kit, but Sharon said she’d wanted one for a long time. 3. Durwood asked Nardon if he thought Sharon liked the gift she gave, which was not a game. 4. Forman was pleased by Sharon’s smile when she saw his gift. 5. The girl who gave Sharon the book, who is not Angela, asked Kramer if he’d read it. 6. lgor and Forman started to put Nardon’s gift together, but Nardon and Sharon made them stop. 7. A girl gave Sharon the game.

Now I enjoy a good brainteaser…when they’re just for fun. I don’t always enjoy them when they are my life. Here was today’s puzzle…

It was a Sunday afternoon, and everybody needed a nap…Jason, Kris, Quincy, Josiah, Hayden, Dillon, Fiffer, Feffer, and Feff. Read the clues and schedule the rest of the day.

1. Although they definitely need a nap, the four youngest members of the family will absolutely, positively not take one. Unless you rock them with a real rock, they won’t sleep.

2. Likewise, none of the four youngest members can be left alone unless in his or her own room. Feff cannot be left alone at all. Fiffer and Feffer can be left in their respective rooms but only if their door alarms are set, so they don’t sneak out and do damage elsewhere. Dillon can be left in his room, but his resentment grows exponentially during room-time, so this approach must be used cautiously.

3. Fiffer and Dillon cannot, under any circumstances, be in the same room together. This only lasts about 30 seconds before the swearing begins.

4. All writing utensils should be locked away, preferably with a real lock, even more preferably on a high shelf. Fiffer and Feffer can not walk unattended through a room with a writing utensil in it or said writing utensil will be used on the carpet. Or the furniture. Or the wall. (Yes, we know they’re seven and five, but those are the facts.)

5. Kris cannot fall asleep unless Jason is rubbing her back. And Kris sleeping for a bit is really the backbone of the entire afternoon. This must be a priority. If mama ain’t happy…

6. Jason needs to sleep at the same time Kris is sleeping (so he can rub her back before he dozes off), but he needs to be at the nursing homes from 3:00-5:00.

7. Hayden needs to sleep, but she also needs to be at the nursing homes from 3:00-5:00.

8. Dillon, Fiffer, and Feffer are abnormally fussy today (maybe nervous about school starting?), so they should all be treated with extra patience.

9. There is still a little standing water in the front yard from yesterday’s rain. Feff must be vigilantly attended or he will end up covered in mud. Again.

10. Feff is also going through another phase of pooping his pants several times a day. Don’t argue with it; just change it when you smell it.

11. Dillon barely listens to Jason and Kris right now; he must not be left for a sibling to supervise.

Good heavens. We did it, though. The oldest five members of the household squeezed in much-needed naps today. Everyone else survived until bedtime. School starts tomorrow. Alleluia.



Hard-Working Kids

I’m so proud of our hard-working big kids. Yesterday was a prime example. Josiah went in to Panda Express at noon and was supposed to get off at 4:00. However, he finally clocked out around 10:45 (his time card said 10.7 hours). He smelled like a wok. Hayden got picked up at 9:15 to ride to Centralia to work the Balloon Fest. She walked back in the door at 11:15 (her time card said 11.5 hours). Her entire body was covered with a thin layer of sugar. They were both full of stories.

Since Dillon and the littles were long asleep, Jason and I had to figure out what to do with ourselves while we waited for our little working bees to return home. Maybe we could spend the evening with Quincy, since she’ll be headed back to college soon? But, no…she was Skyping with her boyfriend for two hours…and she talks to him every night…young love:) (Oh, and she would be quick to point out that she put in 42 hours at her job this past week too.)

So…we played Rummikub…and visited…and did some prep work for today’s lunch…and rejoiced when both tired teenagers returned home.


Everyone’s going to need a nap today:)

Breakfast Request

Conversation with four-year-old Feff:

M: What do you want for breakfast?

F: Raisin Bran.

M: Raisin Bran? Are you sure?

F: Yep. Raisin Bran. Without the cereal.

M: Raisin Bran without the cereal?

F: Kris, the cereal is gross.

M: So…just a bowl of raisins?

F (a little frustrated at my slowness): Yep. Raisin Bran. Without the cereal.

M: Right. Got it. Sorry.

Ear infection?

Feffer has not been sleeping. And I can’t figure out why. Oh, sure, part of it is because he’s been up rummaging through the closet, playing with off-limits toys and eating forbidden candy. But something else is going on. I’m not sure whether it’s anxiety about kindergarten starting in a few days or over-tiredness because this has been going on for a few days and he’s getting manic or…wait…maybe it’s just an ear infection (please tell me I’m not the only mom who prays for an ear infection…just because it’s so easily fixable). 

So when I found him still awake at 9:30 tonight (after being put to bed at 8:30), I asked him, “Does something hurt, buddy?”

F: Yes (he’s very precise like that).

M: What? Your ears?

F: Yes.

M: Which one?

F: Both of them.

M: Are you sure?

F: Yes.

M: How long have they been hurting?

F: For eight minutes.

Oh, dear. I think I’ll call the doctor in the morning. I had no idea it was so serious:)