I think it’s a new tradition…

Two things I tend to dread about Christmas:

  1. Wrapping presents.

Now, I actually enjoy wrapping a present or two. My problem is, I tend to accumulate all the various presents for all the kids plus hubby, and wrap them all at once… and that gets old, particularly when the kids are trying to break down the door with the most recent ‘emergency’. (“Mom! I can’t find the hot chocolate! She stole my library book! He won’t stop singing that song! MOM!!!”)

2. Cleaning up all the decorations.

I already dislike housework. Putting away dozens of glass balls that just want to shatter and untangling lights, especially when my boys are trying to wrap themselves up in them, is a sure-fire recipe for Mommy Needs A Glass of an Adult Beverage and an Evening of Quiet.

This year, though, I had a flash of brilliance in the middle of Bed, Bath and Beyond. Rosebud was begging for a gingerbread house – a village, actually – kit. (Icing everywhere! Candy in the carpet! Graham cracker crumbs everywhere and people screaming because “My roof broke!” What wouldn’t there be to like?)

But then the light dawned. I turned and said, “Yes, absolutely, we will get the gingerbread village kit. You may put it together on Christmas Eve.”

Christmas Eve arrived, and after insisting that the kitchen first be cleaned – “You wouldn’t want yucky stuff getting on your houses, would you?” (I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t have cared, but since it was mandatory they played along) – the houses were assembled. I locked myself in my room and wrapped presents, uninterrupted! (Well, except for dealing with the inevitable fight over the candy – but the threat of “If you can’t figure out how to divide it equally, I’ll just have to eat it all and toss the gingerbread,” gave them an incentive to work it out.)

The payoff came the day after Christmas, when they wanted to eat their houses.

Absolutely. You may eat your gingerbread houses… as soon as all of the Christmas decorations have been put away.

If you want my help, you can wait until New Year’s Day… or you can pack them up yourselves, earlier. All the decorations packed up, tree disassembled and back in its crates, stockings in their bin, carpet vacuumed, all traces GONE.

There was some initial resistance. “Mom! The houses will be all stale by New Year’s!” (And they weren’t already? That gingerbread couldn’t have been baked after Halloween.)

I’m HAPPY to help you on New Year’s, but right now, I’ve got other fish to fry! If you want that sugar rush early, then you’ll have to tackle it yourselves.

24 hours went by. Then, they all buckled down and CLEANED UP THE WHOLE POST-CHRISTMAS MESS THEMSELVES.


I am so getting gingerbread houses next year. I will even take them down the candy aisle and let them pick out their own décor, within reason.

Long live gingerbread!

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We have moved!

Do I have pictures?  No.  Well, I have them, but they’re on my phone, and I haven’t figured out how to get the computer to talk to my phone about pictures.

The new house is awesome.  It’s massive!  It does have it’s little peculiarities, though; there must be compensations.  The master bathroom is almost completely inoperable; the shower only spouts hot water, the toilet doesn’t work, and the tub leaks.  So for now, we enjoy the sinks and the mirrors… and use the kids’ bathrooms down the hallway.

But!  We have separate boys and girls bathrooms!  How cool is that??

Boxes are EVERYWHERE.  We’ve gotten enough unpacked that I can make meals and we can homeschool.  There’s a room downstairs that is supposed to be a guest room, and it’s FULL of the pantry stuff, because the actual pantry is my next project for overhauling.  Hopefully I’ll get it taped, textured and painted, and linoleum-ed in the next week or so, because I need to be able to find my green beans again!

We moved with a cat.  We saw the cat for a few days after the move.  He hasn’t made an appearance in a week.  We’re starting to worry that he may have met a bitter end… or that he’s decided to ditch us for new owners.  Either way, the kids are rather upset that Pepper is AWOL.

We also moved with chickens.  9 have gone on strike; 3 are laying sporadically.  I’ve gone from getting 15 eggs a day (when we had 19 hens), to getting two if I’m lucky.  Breakfast menus have changed…

We seem to have moved in the nick of time.  The rains started before we left, but since our departure there has been snow in the mountains, flooding in the lowlands, and massive amounts of trees and power lines down in our old neighborhood.  I hear that it may be days before the lights come back on at our old place.

The ‘old’ house is due to close this week.  We’re hoping that the new closing date of Friday doesn’t get moved back again.  Our buyers are just as anxious to have it be a done deal as we are!

This new business of living near family is such a change from our previous life.  We’ve lived away from family for almost the last 23 years.  Seeing Grandpa and Grandma multiple times a week, and cousins and uncles and aunts almost daily is such a treat for the kids and me.  Mr. Caffeinated is enjoying learning his new job, and we are truly blessed by how much he is loving it.

I managed to pick up a last souvenir on the way out of town: strep throat.  I’ve been on antibiotics for nearly a week, and it appears to be doing the trick.  That plus homeschooling is keeping me from unpacking as quickly as I’d like… I sure hope that I can knock out the rest of my own bedroom as well as all the books and homeschool paraphernalia this weekend… in between coats of tape-and-texture!

This is all a little stilted, but I seem to only have my brain firing on half its cylinders.  I’m pretty sure the other ones are in a box around here someplace.

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Big Changes Are Afoot

If you’ve wondered why things have been so quiet on the blog lately, and haven’t been talking to me in person, you might be thinking that life must have been humdrum and boring, and not worth writing about.

The reverse is true; we’re coming up on changes so big and dramatic that I couldn’t post about them until the time was right…. and consequently, anything I could write about was so piddly in comparison, I just couldn’t buckle down.

About a year ago, Mr. Caffeinated’s folks approached him about coming back home to run the family business.  This would be a really big change for us; Big Corporate Business has been his life and career for nearly 20 years.  But… here was the opportunity to live near family, to work with family, to do something tangible and help to grow a community… and have some real job security, and to potentially grow a business into something that could again be passed onto the next generation… and not have to work 80-hour weeks with a 2+ hour commute every day.

Over the course of the last year, we’ve been sorting out the details.  Preparing to move across the state.  Inheritance issues.  Medical insurance.  Making sure that this is what the whole family needs and wants.  Finding and purchasing a new house.  Putting our current home on the market.  Finding a buyer, and clearing all those little hurdles like inspection and assessment.

I’m so excited about our new place.  It’s got plenty of space for our family, as well as a pasture and garden area, plus awesome front and back yards.  I’m going to miss our current home; the lodge in the woods has been so great.  It’s been fun to see it shaping up… and hard to know that this house, which was “supposed” to be the 30-year- house, will no longer be ours in the very near future.  But our new place was designed by the previous owners – who built it – to do essentially all the same things we want to do, and is much farther along in being ready to garden and have animals than this one.  So there are compensations.  We even harvested grapes and apples there this fall!

Mr. Caffeinated waited until today, when we received word that our house assessment had passed muster.  The buyer’s lender says that we are on track for closing, with no expected hiccups.  Until we reached this stage, we couldn’t breathe a word online.  Now, the resignation letter has been submitted and we have officially reached the no-turning-back point.

We are going to miss our friends and church here tremendously.  I have a goal of coming back for a visit every 3-4 months, but it just won’t be the same.  I do hope that everyone here will come and see us at our new place.  We have guest rooms!  If you enjoyed coming to see us here, you will surely find our new home even more fun to visit.

If you happen to have an afternoon on your hands, I could sure use some help packing… 😉

We move in less than two weeks!

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Homeschool Wars – the After Action Report

As promised – here is the postmortem from last week’s battle royal over the resumption of schooling.

There’s nothing like a good solid motivator to get kids to buckle down and get to work.

I must confess myself amazed at my children, though.  They got lists; they finished the lists.  There was a certain amount of grumbling and complaining, but since my cure for the grumbles is to assign chores – (“Obviously, you need something to do while you work through that… here’s the mop, go scrub the kitchen floor…”) –  those died out pretty quick.

There was also a fair amount of complaining at one point from Rosebud about how far ahead Natter was, and how much he was flaunting it.  I suggested that she work like crazy to get ahead of him, not mention it, and let him “discover” that she was done.  Specifically, when she was done, to go read a library book in a prominent place, and when he tried to get her into trouble for procrastination, to look up and proclaim innocently, “Oh – but I’m done.”  This was received with much mischievousness, and she promptly put the plan into action.

His response, two days later, was a rather devil-may-care, “Oh, well – good for you,” but he was just a tad too jealous to carry it off.

The Moose declared that he did NOT want to go to the circus.  As it ended up, he stayed home with Junior and I, and played on the computer for a couple hours.  He loved it.  Well, he earned it.

The circus was attended with much joy and hilarity on the parts of all attendees, and today – Monday – school was attended with a minimum of groaning.  At the point at which things threatened to bog back down into the morass of irritability, I informed them that we would be heading to the park for an hour, and that all unfinished homework would be done while everyone else played… and most of them knuckled back down.  Natter, however, missed the deadline and ended up doing math at a picnic table… which, I believe, will pay off royally next time, as they now realize that I’m serious.

I’m not sure how long this industriousness will last, but I intend to ride the horse for all it’s worth.

Reporting live, etc…

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Homeschool Wars

No, I’m not talking the kind where the school district gets out of hand and sends truant officers to your door with police officers and threatens to arrest you and take away your children if you don’t let them do a warrantless search of your home RIGHT NOW, even though you have the receipt from your certified mail postage when you sent your Declaration of Intent in hand, plus HSLDA on the phone.

That sort of thing has, so far, happened to other people but not me. Yet.

No, this is the sort of homeschool war of the species Parent Teacher vs. Unwilling Students that Haven’t Yet Given Up On Summer Vacation.

As in: I call the kids for schooltime (all right, it’s 1:30 in the afternoon, because said Teacher is still operating on Summer Time as well)… and they whine and complain and delay as looong as possible, begging to finish their book/game/LEGO project and requesting every variation of meal/snack/drink they can think of to put off the inevitable. This results in school not actually getting underway until 2:00.

Once school is in session, the Unenthusiastic Student Body then attempts to break up the lesson by picking fights, picking noses, throwing tantrums, playing with the toddler (or pinching him), and complaining that they can’t see/hear/understand/think-because-he’s-sticking-his-tongue-out-at-me.

When this doesn’t work, they sulk, crossing their arms and throwing out their bottom lips, and whispering answers. When that doesn’t work, they BELLOW.

Obviously, we need an attitude change. Sometimes a quick praise song and a prayer help. Sometimes it doesn’t. Letting them take a recess at this point is tantamount to surrender, so THAT AIN’T HAPPENING, FOLKS. Siddown and enjoy the science, I say.

Inevitably, the phone rings. It’s either the mechanic, the doctor, the in-laws, or the friend I’ve been desperately trying to reach for over a month now… so I have to take the call. The Unassimilated immediately sprint for the woods in an effort to get as far out of earshot as possible, leaving the younger one or two to follow Mom from room to room, roaring, while she desperately looks for a room with (a) a door that locks, and (b) enough space – or a closet – to deaden the sound of the frantic door-pounding by the toddler.

Afterwards, it’s back to square one.

We’ve been in school a month, and we’re already a week behind.

Enter Daddy the Principal, who Offers Previously Unknown Delights – which, if used correctly, can function as a powerful carrot and one whale of a mighty stick. At dinner, he lets slip that the circus is coming to town. He’s willing to buy tickets.

The enthusiasm! The rejoicing! The “Daddy, you’re the best parent EVER IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD”s!

After dinner, I retreat to the garage, ostensibly to sort through some tomatoes (don’t ask), but in reality to get away from the sullen masses who are once again doing their utmost to avoid their homework. Upon returning from the garage, I witness a mass stampede away from the train-and-toy-car extravaganza, complete with a shouted, “Quick! Get to the table! Mom’s coming!”

A hurried parent/teacher/principal conference then ensues in the kitchen, to the tune of “They Are Driving Me Crazy” and “How Do We Persuade Them To Get Their Work Done”, accompanied by the dirge “I Swear I May Have To Burn Every Toy In The House.”

To which my knight in shining armor merely replies, “Well – make their attendance at the circus dependent on their getting the work done. Make them a list.”

The angels sing, the sun shines, and the Teacher makes a beeline to the computer to create said lists.

It will be interesting to see if this works. The kids go to bed early, in order to, in their words, “Get up early and get started on school.”

I inform them that there will be NO MERCY. They will have to get completely caught up in order to go… and there is no guarantee that there will be tickets available on circus night, so they’d best get done early. They have some serious catching up to do. The worst – and it truly is the worst of it – is that one child has ELEVEN math lessons to get done in the next six days if she’s going to make it. In addition to science, piano, handwriting, grammar, spelling, history…. my young rebellious procrastinators have felt the fiery breath of The Deadline and it remains to be seen if they will slay their dragons in time or not.

‘Cause, see, I’m staying home with the toddler, with or without juvenile delinquents! They can do the work or miss out. Their choice!

Will it work? Will the young hedonists buckle down and clean out their Aegean stables before their time runs out? There better not be any rivers diverted through the living room…

News at Eleven.

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Egg basket

I have a new basket for collecting eggs. I went yard-saling with a neighbor, and when I found this and asked the price, the lady said, “Just take it!”



I am collecting eggs in high fashion, now.


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Chore Attire

This is the way we dress for chores,
dress for chores, dress for chores
This is the way we dress for chores,
so early in the morning:

jr in boots

SO early in the morning.

Also, I think those are my hipwaders.  Er, boots.

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