Month: September 2004


Our backyard contains tomato plants with ripe tomatos. It also contains a baseball bat. Link is 7, Gleek is 3, Patches is 18 months. Guess what I’m washing out of their clothes today. . .

Inventory Calculations

Today I inventoried my children’s clothing. Not just the clothing in their drawers, but also the clothing I have in boxes waiting for one or another of them to grow into. The point of this time-consuming inventory is to generate a list of clothing I need to acquire for each child so that as they grow I already have new clothes on hand. The major advantage of this list is that it allows me to get them “new” clothes that are in fact used. Because I know what they don’t have in the next size up, I can be shopping carefully at thrift stores, second hand stores, and even yard sales.

I got this idea from a book The Tightwad Gazette III. The author of the book is able to buy all the clothes her 6 kids will need for under $50 per year. I don’t expect to be able to manage that. I don’t have the energy or inclination to chase yard sales every weekend all summer long as she does.

While generating the list I’ve discovered some interesting things about clothing supply around here. Kiki has lots of clothes. Mostly they’re donated by a slightly older cousin. Gleek has even more clothes. She has clothes from Kiki and also clothes from the cousin’s younger sister. This is alright because once Gleek has grown out of the clothes I hand them back to the cousin’s baby sister. Patches is alright on clothes, I have some from Link, some from my mom who likes buying baby clothes, and a few holes to fill. The weakest point in my clothing supply is Link. I have no clothes at all in reserve for him. He simply doesn’t have a nearby cousin who is larger than he is. Oh well.

I love the fact that my family believes in handing clothes around. It has saved all of us lots of money and stress. It isn’t just the kids either. My sisters and I trade clothes too. Only it’s a little more difficult since they moved so far away.

Anyway, the inventory is done. Now I need to summon the energy to deal with two small children in a thrift store. Not happening today. I’m too tired.

Time and Money

Time and Money are on a see saw. It is difficult to save both. One month ago I considered time much more valuable than money. Now I’m prepared to spend time to save money in dozens of small ways. This amuses me.

I still believe that time is more valuable than money. The time Howard and I have gained for the next three months is worth the extra stress and penny-pinching we’ll have to do for it.


Lady_Anne and Level_Head spent the afternoon and evening with us today. They are charming people, courteous guests, and a delight to have in our home. We spent most of the time just talking. Howard drew some pictures of them as we talked. Then they pitched right in to help prep a grilled dinner. After dinner they joined us in a game of Grave Robbers From Outer Space, which is one of those games where you have to read and interpret every card. I hope they managed to enjoy the game despite all the confusion attendant on learning such a complicated rule set.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself all afternoon. Even the kids co-operated. Kiki was over at a friend’s house. Link wasn’t feeling well and watched movies all afternoon. Gleek watched some movies, played with Lady_Anne, and occasionally stripped all her clothes off to run naked through the house, sigh. Patches napped and then cheerfully played. After dinner the kids were more needy so I wasn’t able to focus as much as I would have liked. It looks like Kiki is coming down with the Evil Bug which Link still suffers and Patches and Gleek have recovered from. Hopefully then it will pass out of the house without inflicting itself on any adults. It would be a poor gift to send our wonderful guests home with an unpleasant illness.

The Ritual of Oatmeal

One thing that I have learned in the past 9 years of parenting is the importance of ritual. Children rely on rituals to make themselves secure and happy. Unfortunately parents don’t get to choose which rituals are sacrosanct to the children, but then there are lots of parental rituals that the children don’t get to choose either, like bathing.

At our house we have the Ritual of the Oatmeal. Quaker Oats has brilliantly and deviously created a product called Dinosaur Egg oatmeal. It is like regular maple and brown sugar oatmeal which is packaged in individual size servings only it also contains a dozen or so little candy eggs. When the eggs and oatmeal are stirred with boiling water the candy shell dissolves leaving a little colored candy dinosaur. In other words the eggs “hatch” into dinosaurs. This food has been a staple at our house for more than a year and Gleek in particular has developed a special Ritual of the Oatmeal and woe betide any parent who fails to follow the ritual precisely for much screaming will follow.

The Ritual of the Oatmeal: A parent must open the bag of oatmeal then hand it to the child to dump. Link carefully sorts out all of the eggs and puts them to the side of his bowl. Gleek carefully hides all of the eggs under the oatmeal in a “nest”. Frequently Gleek needs help with this hiding process because the ritual cannot proceed with any eggs visible. Then the parent need to make clear whether or not Gleek wants her eggs to hatch because sometimes she likes to eat the dinosaurs in-the-shell. Not hatched means hot water. Hatched requires boiling water. Link always wants his eggs to hatch. Once the water has been acquired at appropriate temperatures it must be poured in exactly the correct spot. Link usually makes a hole in the middle of his oatmeal all the way down to the bare bowl. Gleek designates a point at the top of her nest of eggs. After the Pouring of the Water, parental involvement is finished. Gleek carefully stirs and picks out all the eggs eating them first before the oatmeal. Link grabs the pile of eggs off the counter and ceremoniously dumps them into the lake of boiling water in his bowl. Then he stirs and eats.

I supposed I could refuse to participate in Oatmeal Rituals. I could just dump the stuff together and say “Just eat it!” In fact on days where I’m over-tired or irritated I do just that. But there are so few things in their lives that children are really allowed to control, that it doesn’t surprise me when they create comfort rituals surrounding food. That small piece of their lives they can make exactly right. And so I participate knowing that eventually they’ll outgrow the need for dinosaurs in their oatmeal.


I think today at lunch was the first time I had a chance to sit down and really enjoy the fact that Howard is no longer working for Novell. We ran our separate schedules during the morning, Him drawing, me running around on errand. Then about 11 am we both wound up in the kitchen pondering food. Howard started prepping hamburgers for the grill, I puttered and cleaned. In the end we both sat down at the (clean!) table at the same time and ate lunch together. I got to eat hot yummy food that I hadn’t cooked and to be with Howard. I think it is the best lunch I’ve had in a very long time. It was like the storm of stress and schedule rearrangment cleared and there was this beautiful moment of calm.

I really want self-employment to work for us.

Return of the Wednesday

Wednesday strikes again. I’m tired and frustrated with myself for telling Howard that his class started at 6:30 when it actually started at 6:00. It turned out alright, the teacher didn’t show at all so I ended up saving Howard 20 minutes of extra waiting. I also forgot “Bring a Friend” week at Link’s class. I ended up running back home to pick up the friend and driving him to join Link. Again it all turned out alright, but I’m frustrated with myself for forgetting.

It seems like all the accumulated stresses of the last five days (Only five days?!) is sitting on my head and shoulders making me want to sit down and cry or maybe curl into a ball and sleep. Instead I need to make kids to homework and take baths and go to bed.

Okay. Self indulgent whining is over now. Time to go back upstairs.

The first day after

Today was Howard’s first day of self employment. He spent it organizing his office and creating a good mental space for him to create inside. He brought home four suitcases full of stuff from his Novell office and all that stuff had to be sorted through. I helped with that some, but mostly my day was pretty normal. And yet it was different. It’s kind of like watching a familiar scene in a movie only they changed the background music.

Tomorrow I need to sort through information about continuing benefits through the month of October. This needs to be done so that we have more time to pick a new health plan and go through an application process. Lots and lots of paperwork for me to do. Then on Friday I meet with our accountant to make sure I understand how to plan for self-employment taxes and associated issues.

Gah. I need to go find some happy thoughts before bedtime so that I can get to sleep tonight.

Big Events

It is strange how I can see an event coming for a long time and anticipate the arrival with happy or at least content feelings, but when it actually arrives still feel so so lost and scared.

Howard left Novell today. It was the right choice to make. We both believe that is true. But the security net is gone and suddenly I realize exactly how far down “bottom” is. Staring down into that netless chasm I suddenly begin to doubt my ability to walk the fine line which keeps us up. Fear could become all consuming if I allow it to be so.

I chose not to. Fear must become background because I am making myself a new net from faith and my own knowledge and from counting the friends and family who will not let me fall without fighting to keep me up.

I have checked and rechecked. I can keep us going for the next three months with only the resources in hand. What happens after those three months depends on how much revenue we can coax out of Schlock Mercenary during those three months.

Life is going to be very different around here. Part of me is glad. Part of me is scared. But we can do this and it will be good for us.

Take That Mouse!

Ha! I finally caught the mouse that has been stealing peanut butter off of the traps for weeks. Howard suguested that I place two traps facing each other. It Worked! I’ve finally caught the source of that annoying skittering noise in the walls. Just in case he had friends I’ve reset the traps.