Tuesday, June 29, 2010


in my family room:

Middle Sister's friend: "Hey, can I get on facebook from this computer?"

Middle Sister: "Sure."

Me: "Hey, if you're on facebook in here, you've gotta keep it friendly."

Middle Sister's friend: "What does that mean?"


Middle Sister's other friend: "That means you can't say any mean stuff."

Me: "Right, and keep it G-rated, guys."

It might be time to install that keystroke logger...

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Kool-Aid Mom and the Kid Magnet

So here we are, 10 days into summer vacation for Little Brother, 17 for Middle Sister, and 6 business days into summer job for Big Brother.

Summer's getting old already, I have to say.

TheDad is home from work this week and the big project has been the installation of an above-ground swimming pool, AKA Kid Magnet.

That makes me the Kool-Aid Mom.

The pool's not quite up and running just yet; we need electricity for the filter and the ladder is not assembled completely. But already the neighborhood kids are looking to swim.

One of the eighth-grade Boy Scouts who hangs around here in the hopes that one of Middle Sister's friends will visit has already threatened promised that he'd be here swimming often. Oh, joy. Between the pool, the fire pit, and the never-ending supply of eighth-grade girls, there's plenty to attract those Boy Scouts.

And then there are the Three Musketeers who live down the street, whose number includes Adventure Boy. I imagine that once the pool opens, they'll be here with nothing but a bathing suit (no shoes, no shirt, no towel) and expect to stay the day. Every day. If I let them swim on nice days, can I ask them to stay home when it rains?

Advice on a pool-rules policy would be most welcome. (I've already decided that if you live on this block and you show up without a towel, you can go home and get it.) Of course, invited nonswimmers need to bring their own parent and flotation devices.

I like that my kids are playing here and they want to invite their friends over. But the under-18 crowd needs to be supervised (the 14-year-olds even more so than the 8-year-olds, for different reasons) and that can be plenty exhausting.

How many more weeks until school starts?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Final Resting Place

Little Brother wandered outside to kick his soccer ball, but came running in after only a minute or two. "Big Brother, you ran over a bird," he declared.

Big Brother hadn't driven anywhere today, and we hadn't seen a dead bird in the driveway earlier (though three birds have flown into the front window already today. They could make one of those Windex commercials here!)

Middle Sister convinced Little Brother that since Big Brother will be off to college soon, Little Brother is going to have to be "the man of the house." So he grabbed Big Brother's army shovel from the back seat of his car (do I want to know why that's there?) and set out on a bird-removal mission.

The next thing I knew, Little Brother was walking toward the house, carefully balancing a dead sparrow on the end of the shovel blade. "Don't bring it in here," we yelled.

Middle Sister told him to put the bird under the big tree out front and bury it. Instead, Little Brother dumped the bird under the bird feeder and tossed a couple of shovelfuls of mulch on top of it, then banged on the whole thing a few times with the shovel.

Lovely. Just wait until the mailman trips over it tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Going Underground

We got some new furniture for the living room last week. I've been getting used to it (translation: I've been falling asleep in the new love seat a lot). But what has taken even more getting used to is the fact that my desk no longer fits into the living room.

Middle Sister, you see, talked me into investing in a "chair and a half" which is about the size of the old love seat. Plus we got a love seat and a couch. There's lots of seating in that room now, which is great. But there's no room for my desk.

That's OK, in a way...I like that the living room seems less cluttered without my desk. But putting it in the family room means that I am right in the middle of all the action--rather than close to the action, where I can see and hear it, but not in a spot where Nerf basketballs regularly rebound off my laptop screen (note to self: close laptop when not in use).

Summer's coming--two kids are already out of school and Little Brother only has three half-days left. I'm not yet used to having kids at home during the day--and the combination of one child who leaves the radio on in one room and the TV on in another, which happens to be the room I'm in, and another child's musical experimentation with a homemade didgeridoo is making me crazy. I can hardly wait to add an eight-year-old boy, who's in motion so much that he's blurry in nearly every picture he poses for, to the mix.

I'm jealous of Barb's "teacher's meetings" at Panera. I think I'm going to have to work in one of those every week or so. Middle Sister can babysit, since Big Brother starts work on Monday. (What are the odds that he'll be taking that didgeridoo with him?)

We have an empty desk in the basement that my husband was going to use for his home business. He doesn't use it--ever. So I may be taking my laptop downstairs, at least to get my work done (see "Blogging for Coupons" in the sidebar). I'll see how that goes.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

What Kids Think About in Church

Grownups are not the only ones prone to distraction in church. Case in point:

As Father H began his homily today, he mentioned that he was going to use a Really Big Word: Transubstantiation. Little Brother's eyes opened wide. That's a BIG word! I grabbed a pen and wrote it on the front of his "Magnifikid" so he could see just how big it is.

He pondered the word for a few seconds, then poked Big Brother to show it to him. Then he appeared to be sitting and listening nicely--until he tapped me on the arm and whispered, "Do cones have vertices?"

Hermit would be a better word

Middle Sister has this pet peeve: she can't stand to be around anyone else when they're chewing. Little Brother with bubble gum can chase her out of a room in record time.

Mealtimes are not pretty around here with all of this going on.

Right now Little Brother is eating a toasted bagel. Middle Sister flew off the handle again: "You chew so weird! I can't stand it."

I commented, "You know, it's going to be really hard for you to live with other people when you grow up if you're going to be like that."

Little Brother suggested, "Maybe she'll be a nun!"

Saturday, June 05, 2010


Now that graduation's out of the way, Big Brother and I are heading over to LaSalle on Monday for orientation. Yes--this early. That's good, I guess; it will help me to get his shopping list together.

It's been a long time since I went to college--almost 30 years--yikes. And students' needs have changed in those 30 years. So if you have any kids in college or have recently been there yourself, what are some things he'll need--or need to ask about?

So far on my list to find out:
--what stores are in the shopping center across the street from campus? I know there's a branch of the bank that we use at home, so that makes cash-flow stuff easy. I think there's a drugstore, some sort of supermarket, and a few others.
--twin sheets, or twin XL?
--does his cell phone work in the college buildings? (Does anyone's? Do we need to switch providers?)
--what furniture is provided in each dorm room?
--does he need his own tp, cleaning supplies, etc?
--does he need his own printer for his laptop? Or are there school printers around for student use? If so, how does that work?
--what cooking items are allowed in the dorms? What ones are available for common use?

And I've got Barbara's pack-for-college list to work from, so that's a big help.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Mom Gets Sentimental

It's Graduation Day, which ranks right up there behind flu season and the DVD release of a tearjerker chick flick in total tissue sales.

This is the first of two graduations in our family in a span of eight days, so the tissues will be in short supply indeed.

Tonight Big Brother will graduate high school and will be launched into the big, exciting, and even a little scary world of college and beyond. I couldn't be more thrilled.

He'll be attending LaSalle University in the fall, which I believe is a wonderful choice for him. When we went to the school's open house, I was impressed by the level of personal attention the students and prospective students received. I don't want my kid falling through the cracks, and I loved the environment the university created. The university's neighborhood, not so much...I'll worry about that part of it, but moms need something to worry about.

Big Brother has really grown a lot during his school career. During his primary-school years, he was a very cautious kid. He wasn't one to take risks or go on "scary" amusement-park rides. And when presented with a choice of doing two fun things that happened to be mutually exclusive due to schedule constraints, he'd agonize over which thing to pick.

This same kid was voted "Most Likely to Become a Pirate" by the senior class. On the class trips, he rode every roller coaster at least once. There's a full-page picture of him in the yearbook dangling from a rock-climbing wall, and he's learned that he loves whitewater rafting and canoeing.  He took flying lessons for a while, earned his Eagle Scout rank, and in the span of one short year learned to play the guitar well enough to secure a music ministry scholarship for college.  Now he's working on the mandolin, bass, and banjo, and is figuring out how to build his own didgeridoo.  (I don't know if that one's going to college with him, though!)

Over the years, Big Brother has grown in many ways.  His lawn-mowing skills have progressed from decapitating a forgotten Fisher-Price person to completely shredding the cap to our sewer-drain cleanout pipe, as well as at least one tennis ball.   His artistic achievements include stamping, in 6-foot letters in the snow, "PANTS ON THE GROUND" in front of his school (yes, that made the yearbook too).   He has built couch-cushion "bunkers," snow forts, cardboard-box forts for Little Brother and for his own friends when they participated in the 30-Hour Famine, Homecoming floats, stage sets, and Habitat houses in Philadelphia and post-Katrina Mississippi.   He has made toast over the flame of an Advent candle and helped his Boy Scout troop win the Iron Camp Chef competition.

I'm very proud of Big Brother and looking forward to seeing what the next few years will hold for him.  I'm going to miss him when he is off at school, but I'm very excited for him at the same time.  (And think of all the money I'll save when I don't have to constantly stock up on pretzels and Dr. Pepper!)  Congratulations to him and to the whole class of 2010!