Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Saving Money on Cable

works for me wednesday at we are that family

We have cable for our Internet. The only other option this side of the overpass is satellite, and there are too many cloudy days for that.

When our cable guy came to hook us up, he and Ethan got to talking and the guy said to call the cable company and tell them we thought the bill was too high (leaving his insider info out of it, of course).

The job was handed down to me. I hate this sort of thing. The last time Ethan had me do this, it was for a radio station giveaway. I was the 9th caller, had the correct listing of their last nine songs and artists (via Ethan), and won $96.00. And was so intimidated I forgot to leave my name.

Do you know what it's like to be listening to the radio to hear yourself win $96 and then hear the DJ say, "Uh, we have a winner, but sweetheart, you got so excited you forgot to leave your name! Give us a call back, sweetie."

And then when I did call back and did leave my name and then heard them announce me as the winner and the byte of me giving the answer, I sounded like a frenetic twelve-year old. And I HATE that when he said, "What are you going to spend your money on?"... I answered, "A baby-sitter!" I meant a baby-sitter for my son, because I was a mature grown woman, but it totally sounded like I was going to hire my own baby-sitter. You know, because I'm a goody-two shoes twelve-year old who likes to see my parents get out once in a while.

But back to my story. I hate calling and saying things like, "Yes, I KNOW that the previous call may have been recorded and that you clearly spelled out how much the installation and monthly fee would be and that there were no promotions running and there was no way you could lower the price and I thought then that it was too high but what were we going to do when I gotta have me some Netflix to sleep to and my husband is a pastor who must have access to his email for church matters BUT now that I see the bill in person it seems really steep and are you SURE you can't lower that?"

So I didn't say all that.

I gave a very shaky, "Um, yes, I was just looking at this bill and it seems a little {SQUEAK} high???"

Whereupon the customer service rep said, "Absolutely it looks high! Man, they didn't even put you on a promotion? Let me get you on a promotion. How does this sound? [He then gives a number less than half what I was paying a month.] The thing is, this is a one-year promotion. Now that means you just give us a call in 11 months and tell us you want to be put on another promotion. Will that work for you?"

I didn't even know you could ask to be put on a promotion. I was just planning on living on beans-n-rice-n-chocolate chips while we paid our cable bill.

Huh. I told him he was underpaid. He agreed. We hung up, and now I pay less than half of what I was paying.

And that definitely works for me!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Those Twinkling Eyes

It seems like the last few ... maybe even the last MANY ... months have been very full of this guy. True, there are two almost-8-mos.-olds crawling around and pulling up on things. But even combined, their efforts at thwarting my day's plans pale in comparison to the work of this one.

He's two, and every bit of two. The problem is not his two-ness (though I won't cry to see it go); it's his independence. He thinks he can do everything -- dress himself, get himself snacks, dispose of the stink bugs that have invaded our house, rearrange the living room videos, pull out band-aids for every possible imagined owie (he even has owies on imagined body parts!), go potty, and change the babies' diapers.


I don't think I need to go into details. You can use your imagination. Just so long as you understand he thinks he is fully capable of doing all of these things without any help AND without any adult's knowledge that he is undertaking these tasks.

Two dangerous phrases to hear him say are, "Just a minute" and "I'll be right back."

Those two phrases mean he is not or soon will not be in your presence. And as hard as it is to have a 2-yr. old by your side when you're trying to school (cook/clean/fold/nap), it is much harder to not have him by your side.

I don't get a lot Done during the day, but I sure get a lot Undone.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Does Anyone Like "24"?

So we're waiting on some Netflix in the mail, and we've used up the Watch It Now series that we like...and we started watching "24." I know the show has a following, but...


I Can. Not. Stand. this show. It's such a snoozer! (Which, admittedly, means very little when I am the one saying that. I snooze through every show.) Bad acting, bad writing, the characters say each others' names every single time they are talking to them..."But David, you know that I am your wife. And David, I would never do something to hurt you. Don't you believe me, David?"

But since we've started it, my husband is committed to finishing this season. Please, tell me...does it get any better? Should I keep trying to stay awake or just give it up with a clear conscience?

And if it doesn't, do you have any suggestions?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Church with Littles

Well. Amy said it best. (And she usually does!)

Read it. Laugh if you get it, try to sympathize (and give thanks!)  if you don't.

Eight of these devilish smiles in the pew next to me...
But at the very least, rub the shoulders of any "single" (for the sermon at least) mom at church, tell her you love her beautiful family, offer to have some of her children sit with you (and then don't hold their weird just-'cuz-you're-a-homeschooler-doesn't-mean-you-use-your-bulletin-for-a-tissue behavior against her) and maybe even stock the end of her pew with rags and a trash bag.

I guarantee she'll need it, for one reason or another, every sermon.

And if she doesn't, I sure do!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Table Chores, or Get Me Out of the Kitchen

works for me wednesday at we are that family

After grumbling to my husband about the number of able-bodied persons who mysteriously disappear right after supper, I decided it was time to re-implement our Table Chores. These are simple jobs that do not change. Each child knows what his chore is, and as long as I remember to issue the charge, "Table Chores!" they get done quickly. This is one area where the children really can be a big help. The five minutes that we take to clear up together easily saves me a half hour of work.

Ethan and I refrigerate the leftovers, transfer the dishes from the sink to the dishwasher, and sweep. I could delegate these chores to children as well, but I'm a little too picky about these tasks.

Table Chores. These really work for me!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

It'll Grow Back

Mom asked what my haircut looked like. This is it, Mom.

And my, what huge hands I have.

I went in just for more layers. She said, "No, your face is long, not wide. If you wear it in a ponytail all the time anyway, why not go for short?" I acquiesced with her reasoning but decided during the final rinse that I would go back to the original plan. Only I'm polite, and I waited for a break in her monologue to back out of the shearing.

The "break" came after her first cut. Which was quite a bit above my shoulders.

And I have to say, I think I was right. My face is decidedly wide. My new strategy is to stand next to Conan O'Brien in pictures, and then it won't look so wide.

I think what most irritates me is that it is SUCH an, "I'm in my thirties and have eight kids" cut. Because, you know, I am in my thirties and I do have eight kids, but we don't need to broadcast that from the top of my head.

And is that an optical illusion, or is one of my eyes looking up in the corner while the other is looking straight to the side? Because if they are really doing that, then I think I may have developed a talent (???) that could serve me well with these children...

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Disclaimer

My husband is afraid people might mis-take the last post. They might think it was a serious post. They might think, "He is a pastor. He is serious. He loves Jesus and wears a visor to prove it."

Before I waste my breath go any further, does anyone think that?

"They'll know you are Christians by your love..."

...but if that fails, whip out your visor.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Proper Way of Eating

People who don't like chocolate display, in my opinion, insufferably poor upbringing.

The household in which I grew up had a saying: "It's not dessert if it's not chocolate."

My husband has a comparable saying: "It's not breakfast if it's not chocolate." (Really!)

Consequently, many mornings find our breakfast table bearing a chocolate something-or-other: pancake, or scone, or muffin, or shortbread, or gingerbread, or baked oatmeal. And always a mocha for Ethan.

I think it's telling how a parent serves their infant breakfast. Ethan picks apart his muffin, eating the chocolate chips and giving the babies the messless batter. I fish through my muffin, finding the gooey chips for the babies.

These seemingly inconsistent modes of breakfasting help to ensure two things: the children will be clean, and they will like chocolate!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Art of Conversation

Thursday, Ethan went out of town. I got the kids ready to go to the store for the needed trash bags (and several grocery bags worth of not-so-neededs). While I readied the babies, I sent the older kids outside.

When I came out, Benjamin (8) informed me that he was instructing Lily (6) in the Art of Conversation.

"Mmmm-hmmm," I absent-mindedly replied.

But then when we got into the van, the Art of Conversation instruction was continuing, and I was more alert.

"So, Lily," Ben was saying, "if you want something like...a goldfish, you can ask. And then if Mama says, 'No,' you don't just stop there. You go a little further...'Well, Mama, I'd be willing to pay for it.' If you're willing to pay for something, they're more likely to let you get it, because then if the goldfish dies, who cares? You paid for it, not them! But if she still says, 'No,' go a little further ... ask, 'Why not? What do I have to do to be able to get it?' If she still says, 'No,' think how you can go a little further. Mama's easy like that. She's a softie. [!!!!] 

"Now I actually tried this conversation with Mama, and at first it was simple. But then it got complicated. Mama said, 'You'll have to ask Papa.'

"Papa is much harder. When he says, 'No,' he means it. But I've found that if you use special language with Papa, that sometimes works ... if you say something like, 'Oh, kind and brave father...' "

Lily interrupted. "Oh, like fairy tale language!"

Ben quickly clarified. "Well, I like to call it poetic."

"Pathetic?" asked Lily.

"No!" corrected Ben. "Poetic! Poetic!!!"
Now several things come to mind here. First, they think I'm soft? I say, "No!" all day long! But, come to think of it, I guess that's the problem: I say, "No" all day long, while Ethan just says it once.

And Ethan can be buttered up with flattery? Good to know...

We did find this lying on one of our nightstands last night:

This was found on MY nightstand. Chance? Or strategy?

Overheard on the Way to Machen ...

Abraham (5), excitedly: "Hey! I re-mexicanize that!"
Lily (6), scornfully: "You mean you rememorize that?"
Benjamin (8), knowingly: "No! He means recognize."


Friday, September 10, 2010

I Flit, I Float, I Fleetly Flee, I Fly...

Goodbye, Facebook!

Let's face it (get it? "FACE" it??). I have 8 kids and no time. NO time. No time to be reading superficial postings from a bazillion friends (get it? "FRIENDS"??).

So I left Facebook. I would like to leave a message (get it? "MESSAGE"??) to those who privately contacted me. I felt like we had a real conversation. The rest? It was fun bumping into you. I just bumped a little too often and can't handle the frenzy.

I also prefer to be on the same side as my husband when there's mocking going on. I've spent too many late nights with Netflix in the background trying to defend my incessant need to check on everyone around the world, especially during previews and slow parts of movies.

He's right. (See that, Ethan? I'm admitting YOU'RE RIGHT!!!) I don't need it and it doesn't need me. No one was the better for my having poked (get it? "POKED"?? Oh, I am ALL OVER the Facebook humor!) my nose in everyone's business.

And I have some business around here I need to poke my nose into. Like laundry. Although that was a bad example. I think I'll just hold my nose with that one.

But please send me an email, ask for my phone number, or leave me a comment anytime. I love to talk to my friends. I just don't need to know who changed whose diaper when or what everyone else is having for dinner (and really? REALLY? I mean, when are you fixing this stellar organic whole-food ensemble? In between building barns and family feud? {Again with the humor...}). Although, if you email me or call me or comment to me about that, I'll probably be interested. Anything to distract from the diapers and meal-planning HERE...

All right. It's done. I'm outta there like Coy and Vance Duke outta Hazzard County. (See? You don't even remember them!)

And, Ethan? What're we watchin' tonight?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Unofficial End of Summer

The weekend found us at Machen Retreat, a place we hold special as it was our second home for 50 days. This time it was not home, though. It was vacation, a true retreat as we fellowshipped with others at Family Camp (I'm sorry; I just can't call it by the newly titled "Labor Day Conference").

This week found my washing machine full of what must have been half of Highland County. It also found my children sniffling and aching.

I had planned to spend the day as my friend Mary is, focusing on read-alouds and getting children better. Then I found the scratch in my throat becoming more "owie" than "itchy."

But two fortuitous things happened today.

First, Ethan has a meeting out of town for which he was picked up this morning. Usually this would be a further burden, but today it means I have the van. And that means I can go get more trash bags, as we are out (again!!).

Second, Ethan left his laptop. This means that I can take full advantage of Netflix's "Watch It Now" with the kids. Did you know there was a Wallace and Gromit called, "A Matter of Loaf and Death"? It's just long enough for you to get the kitchen cleared and lunch readied.

And Gideon (7 mos.) away from the dog food.

We are doing our best: medicating the aches and freshening the pillowcases. The doorknobs and light switches have been disinfected (really!) and I think we just might pick up some new teas with the trash bags. And an additional bonus is that I have good reason to make the best chicken soup ever for supper!

Forlorn ones modeling our anti-virus arsenal: tissues, wipes, garlic, tea, Sambucol, ibuprofen, acetaminophen.
And fresh air!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

They Still Do

Thirty-seven years ago today, my parents said, "I Do."

I wasn't there to take pictures.

And I'm not at my parents' house to steal pictures.

So these will have to do.

September 1, 1973. Robert and Ann. Really. Those are his ears and her eyes.

Thirty-seven years would bring two sons and three daughters, two sons-in-law, seven grandsons and four granddaughters, six dogs, seven cats, a bunny, countless goldfish (because who counts fish?), many groans, and many more laughs.

Bob and Ann watching a movie. Mom watches with her eyes closed ... always.
I can see Dad's ears again, and that little nose is Mom's.
Dad wasn't going to have any kids. He also hated peanut butter. Now his dessert of choice is a Nutty Bar and
it takes two hands and many toes to count his descendants.

Mom and Dad can't stand to be apart. When she's not cooking up a storm for her large family, she's off to work with him. (For the life of me, I could NOT coax those fingers out.) Dad's ears again; Mom's sense of humor.

Dad loving on a baby.
Dad has always had some project going. His usually involve a jig saw and stain. Mom has always had projects going, too. Hers usually involve jigsaws and stains, too.

The one on the left likes the jigsaws; the one on the right likes to stain.

Despite his best efforts, even Dad's been caught snuggling a baby a time or two (thousand).
There aren't words enough for how grateful I am God placed me in your family. Even if a picture really is worth a thousand words, there wouldn't be enough pictures. Not enough words, not enough pictures. Just an overflowing heart.

I see you two every day in my children. Sometimes I even hear you in my words.

Happy anniversary to two people that this household holds very, very dear.

We love you!
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