What a week.

We live next to a cave. No, not in a cave. Next to one. Close enough that we can walk to it and get there before Charlie gets tired. Close enough that we get to do the touristy thing and go through it, whenever we want, for free. Ah, the perks of this little house we live in. Thursday, we took friends with us. Fun was had by all, there were 12 kids between their family and ours, and no one cried, not even once. I’m calling that successful.

(Less successful than my clothesline full of clothes at the moment. It’s raining.)

Wednesday we saw the same family at the park. Friday we met at the fountains in town. Yesterday we went to a birthday at their house. Today we’ll see them at church. Tomorrow, we’ll lay low before they get completely sick of us.

Last night, a friend from church invited us to spend the evening on his boat. Oh my. The kids won’t forget that anytime soon. The older four all got to go on the tube, (Ruby sang “Pop! Goes the Weasel the entire time she was riding on the tube. When she stopped for a moment, I asked her why and she said, “I’m still having fun. It’s just not time for singing right now.” Alrighty then.) and we swam for a while. More like me trying to keep four children, all in life jackets, from drowning. Ridiculously hard. Swimming lessons are in order.) That was interesting. Anyhow, the boat ride was a hit with all of them. Charlotte fell asleep to the wind in her face and Pierce thought that the speed was the best thing he’d ever experienced. You know, other than milk.

Friday we leave for vacation. Camping in South Dakota, both east river and west, for about 10 days is our plan. If anyone cares to pack, plan meals, or grocery shop for me this week, you’re nuts. Dreading it. We slept in the tent Friday night for a trial run. It was fabulous. The air mattress has a hole in it, Missouri ground is hard as a rock – or is a rock, whichever you prefer. We’re borrowing another for the trip. I’d never get up after that many days on the ground.

Time to bake the bacon (Ever tried that? So easy, so good.) Company’s coming for lunch, we’re having baked potatoes with all the fixings, and my husband mopped every floor in this house yesterday for the occasion. The kitchen wasn’t even dry before milk was spilled on it. Awesome.

Serenity, now!

I use my kids middle names. A lot. When we chose names, we chose ones that I love. So now, more often than not, my kids hear both their first and middle names. Some more than others, but they all hear them some.

Eden is very, very rarely just Eden. It’s Eden Rayne.

Sterling hears Sterling Blaine at least half of the time.

Pierce is usually Pierce. I called him Pierce Allan the other day for the first time and two kids giggled and said they’d forgotten what his middle name even was. We’re working on that one. He’s got a name to live up to, after all.

Charlotte? She doesn’t hear hers so often. I love the meaning of her name, but Charlotte Serenity doesn’t flow off the tongue quite so well. It’s a big name for a little girl.

But, when I’m upset… you can bet that all of them will hear their middle names. I’m not sure why, since I have no recollection of hearing my middle name as a kid, ever. (It’s Rachele by the way.) But again, back to Charlotte. Just try yelling “Serenity!” in an outside hollering not-so-happy voice and let me know what you think.

Exactly. Something about hollering a peaceful word with less than peaceful thoughts just clashes in my brain and makes me giggle.

At least, until I glance back to the latest disaster she’s made and then all giggles are aside. Until next time, at least.

Dear, dear girl.

Charlotte’s on bath #2 for the day. See that white cord behind her? That’s for my vacuum. That’ll teach me for cleaning.

The perils of leaving a peanut butter jar, opened and unattended:

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If you look carefully, you’ll see the blue permanent marker on her hand. That’s what happens when you leave the markers within reach.

Oh, and for those of you who think I leave the poor baby naked all day, she wasn’t naked.

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This is all that was left of her outfit. The rest of it has been lost to the laundry pile, slowly but surely.

Just one small thing. Small.

The local homeschooling area set up riding lessons for today at the stables just down the road from our house. Liberty, Eden, Sterling, and Ruby all were thrilled at the prospect. I thought I would pay the (relatively small, but still) price and one or both of the younger two would change their minds.

Nope. They climbed on up, grinned for the duration of their rides, and can’t stop talking about it.

Immediately after, Ruby had a request for her fourth birthday.

She wants a horse and cows. When I explained that first we need fencing, and likely we will not be able to afford both cows and a horse all in the same shot, she shortened her request to just a horse.

Oh yeah. No problem. I’ll get right on that.

Use lots of soap.

I finished weed whacking last night and told Blaine I was getting into the shower. Four shocking words left my love’s lips and we both stared and sputtered.

“Use lots of soap.”

Completely aware of the reality that I hadn’t showered that morning, had spent two hours mowing and another half hour trimming, all in 90 degree weather, my normally loving and understanding husband had shocked me speechless. I had used deodorant. I couldn’t smell myself. Surely it wasn’t that bad. Then, he started backpedaling.

“That came out wrong. That’s not what I meant. I just meant…”

I knew what he meant. This great state we live in has nasty blood-sucking and flesh-eating insects that are kept at bay by a good scrubbing. Bearing the scars of more chiggers and ticks than I can count, my husband said this in love. But wow, did it sound insulting.

And we laughed. And laughed, and laughed and laughed.

I love my husband.

Define: Chastisement

I printed off an “If/Then” Chart from here this morning. Having heard of them many times but never pursued finding one, I decided to try it. It’s a lot like how I already parent, but perhaps we will find it helpful. I walked the kids through the list, stuck it in a page protector and hung it on the fridge.

This afternoon, coming in from having spent the last two hours on the lawn mower and finding Charlie still in her nap diaper instead of having been put back into panties, I asked why she was still in her diaper. Liberty said she’d forgotten, and I swatted her behind, completely in jest, as I walked past her.

“Hey! Why are you giving me chastisement? That’s not on the chart for forgetting to take a diaper off!”

Perhaps we need to look up the remedy for a smart aleck.

Outtake #1. Almost more fun than the good ones.

One nasty virus has hit our house. Five loads of laundry down, the laundry room no longer smells of vomit. Back to the humor of it all… just as soon as the bleach dries. In the meantime, one family photo outtake, taken just hours before the first stomach pain hit:

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Blaine’s not even in it. Eden looks like those stomach pains were already present, Sterling has an itch in his ear, Pierce just wants to eat the grass, Liberty’s being a typical 8 year old girl, and Ruby is pulling a Ruby. But the dog is cooperating and even Charlotte isn’t doing too bad. Discussions of just how much photoshop will be required to cut and paste a good shot of each individual has been happening.

Happy Memorial Day. I’m hoping your day is puke-free and has at least one good story from or about a soldier in it.