Monday, May 11, 2015

the one where we find out Truman has a future in the mob

On a good day, we often describe Truman as a skilled negotiator. If it's been a more challenging day, a con artist. We can now add extortion to his resume...

Truman: Mom, guess what?!
Me: What?
Truman: I'm rich!
Me: What did you do? 
Truman: I didn't do anything! Why are you always asking me that?
Me: It's a mystery, you are the ideal child and always falsely accused. Why are you rich?
Truman: I don't understand what you said, but I have a whole dollar!!
Me: I'm pretty sure I'm psychic. Where did you get a dollar?
Truman: Ella and I were playing Legos this morning and she wanted a piece I was using, but I told her no.
Me: Truman, that's unkind. You should share your Legos! How would it make you feel if Ella wouldn't share with you?
Truman: Mom, this isn't about sharing, I'm telling you about how Ella gave me a dollar.
Me: Ella gave you a dollar? Why?
Truman: So I would let her play with the Lego piece... Mom, it's a whole dollar. That's WAY MORE than a quarter!

This was followed by at least 60 seconds of stunned silence.  We've now had a talk about sharing and you know, not shaking your friends down for cash.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

kindergarten writing journals, or, now we know what they really think

Philippa and Truman have been working on writing journals in kindergarten. They've mentioned them a few times, but I wasn't sure what was involved until Friday. They brought home their January journals and they are amazingly funny! Mark and I are loving their entries.

This is from Truman's journal. It says, A long time ago I was so excited!

It's a picture of our family on a hike. He's labeled most of us with an initial over our heads. I'm not sure if the unlabeled floating head is Quintin? Seems as likely as anything else.

My heart melts!

The very next page he says, I like hiking so much!!!!!

Only four people in this picture, but I like the arrows to show we are moving. And, of course, the five exclamation points are outstanding.

I'm taking this as a sign that the forced marches are having the desired impact. :)

Here Truman writes, I really like hotdogs. Dad makes them on daddy dinners.

On Tuesday nights I go to running group at 6:30 and Mark is on kid duty, which includes dinner. Sample menus feature things like hotdogs with macaroni and cheese and baked beans, ham slice with macaroni and cheese and baked beans, or brats and mets with macaroni and cheese and baked beans. Occasionally there is a frozen vegetable included.

Mark and I are always joking about Daddy Dinner Night. I'm completely grossed out by it, but since I'm not preparing or eating it I feel like I should should roll with it. That said, I have tried to health it up a bit with organic box macaroni and cheese, whole beef hotdogs, whole wheat buns etc. You get the picture.

Last Tuesday Mark accused me on attempting to sabotage Daddy Dinner Night, but based on Wednesday's writing journal, I don't think I've had much impact.

Pippa's journal is equally entertaining. She has quite a bit to say about her younger sister. On this page she writes, What is that smell?

A few months ago, Penny waged a bedtime delay campaigned that involved frequent and long lasting trips to the potty. If she was sitting there and not actually going, we would have put a firm stop to it, but each time she managed to go at least some, leaving us really conflicted. In the end, we put the training potty in her room. Every now and again she uses it and Mark and I empty it on our way to bed. It's disgusting, and likely time to transition out of this. As you can see from the illustration, Pippa obviously feels poorly about it as well...

In addition to stinking up their room, Penelope fails to keep it clean. Pippa writes, I can make my bed. Penny asks Mom.

I think that's Penny and I watching Pippa make her bed. I'm glad I get to witness this in the illustrations because I don't recall seeing it happen in real life... :)

This last one is really sweet. It says, I can see the galaxy in my bedroom.

My mom got Pippa and Truman each a planetarium projector for Christmas. It has three discs of space related photos and two domes that create the planetarium effect. They are really amazing! We turn them on each evening and the kids use them as a bit of a nightlight. The images are really striking and we've read the booklet cover to cover so they can identify the images and know several facts about each one. I really like the domes. One has consultations and the other a field of stars. They blanket the room in a field of stars in a way that is so comforting.

Philippa's illustration is so detailed! That's her in bed with the round projector on her bedside table. That's her bookcase across the room exactly as it is, books on the lower three shelves and knick knacks on the upper three.

In true proud mom fashion, I'm blow away by their efforts. I also comfort myself with the idea that their teacher receives enough crazy writings from the rest of the kids that our bed pans and forced marches don't make much of a blip on the radar. A girl can hope anyway!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

our girls, watch out world

Our girls are amazing. They are smart, creative, funny, and have such big hearts. 

Pippa is silly, but has a bit of a serious streak. I see it most when she plays piano. Pippa adores piano. She is so dedicated to practice. She soaks up everything. Frustratingly for her parents, she gets so excited when her teacher, Mr. Ted, comes that she sometimes has behavior issues during her lessons. Despite that, she is making amazing progress. They played this cute little piece together today:


Penelope on the other hand, at the moment, is as silly as they come. And everything comes down to one central statement: I do it myself...


For concerned readers out there, I can assure you that after five minutes or so she did eventually get her shirt on correctly (with help.)

Watch out world, the Ragase girls are headed your way!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

when wildlife fights back...

Truman, Penelope, and Quintin were playing in the woods behind our house Monday afternoon. This isn't super uncommon. Lately, they've been collecting sticks to make tepee inspired houses and collecting the giant seed pods falling at a constant pace.

But Monday we had the added excitement of finding this guy, which we discovered today is an Imperial Moth Caterpillar.

This was easily the largest caterpillar I've ever seen. We spent quite awhile checking him out. Truman had coaxed him onto a leaf, although we'd later discovered he'd handled him fairly extensively before this idillic leaf presentation was perfected.

I read online that they like hang out in Oak and Maple trees, which we have lots of, and come out this time of year to mate. I assume Truman is not with this bug had in mind.

While this species of caterpillar isn't poisonous, we've also discovered you should never handle any of the fuzzy caterpillars as they are known to cause severe skin reactions.

Lesson learned...

Poor Truman logged an evening at Children's Urgent Care, but rounded out the evening sampling Halloween candy while we waited for his prescription so he's no worse for wear.

Monday, July 14, 2014

ballet in the bathtub

I'm co-hosting a wedding shower on Friday for our lovely friends Kevin and Jasen. Last night a friend of ours stopped by so we could do some pre work on shower decorations. 

Sidebar- if you need large or small tissue paper poufs for any occasion, give Amy or I a call...

So when the kids got up this morning they spied the poufs in about 2.3 seconds. 

Truman: What are those big fluffy things for?
Me: They are decorations for a wedding shower mommy is hosting
Pippa: They are BEAUTIFUL!
Me: Thanks!
Truman: What's a wedding shower?
Me: Well, it's a party you have before people get married to celebrate and get to know one another. Sometimes there are presents.
Truman: And it's like in a HUGE bathtub? Are there bubbles? I want to go!
Me: Um no, it's at someone's house or a restaurant or something like that
Truman: A bathtub at a restaurant? That sounds CRAZY mom
Me: No, there is no bathtub involved. I have no idea where the shower part came from, that's just what it's called.
Truman: Who's getting married?
Me: Kevin, from church and Jasen. You've met them.
Truman: I think you should have the party in a giant bathtub.
Me: Maybe next time...
Truman: Is there going to be cake at the wedding?
Me: Yes
Truman: What kind of cake?
Me: I'm not sure
Truman: Is everyone going to be in fancy clothes?
Pippa: And jewels? and tiaras?
Me: People will be in fancy clothes and I imagine there will be some jewels but tiaras seem unlikely
Truman: But you don't know for 100%?
Me: No, I don't know 100%
Pippa: So there could be tiaras...
Me: There could be tiaras. Sometimes if there is a bride she will wear a tiara with her veil.
Truman: Is there going to be music?
Me: Yes
Truman: Will there be a piano and my favorite songs?
Me: Maybe some of your favorite songs, Katy Perry maybe?
Truman: But you don't know 100%
Me: No, not 100%

We discussed flowers, food, location, and transportation in this same manner when Pippa pipes up again...

Pippa: Wait a minute, how do two boys have a baby?
Me: Um, what?
Pippa: People who are married have babies. That one day you said mommies and daddies ask God for a baby and later it goes in the mommy's belly. How do two boys have a baby?
Me: Um, well, see... 

Truman: Wait, is there going to be ballet?
Me: What?
Truman: Are Kevin and Jasen going to dance ballet together?
Me: I'm not really sure. I don't think Kevin and Jasen know ballet.
Truman: Mom, you don't know anything 100% about this wedding!
Me: Yes, that's true.
Truman: Can we call Kevin?
Me: No, but you decide what is the most important question and I will text it to him and when normal people wake up in two hours you might get an answer
Me (internal): Please, please, please don't chose how do two boys have a baby. It is Monday morning and we are all going to need some coffee before we head down that road...

They thought it over for a bit and came back

Truman: The most important thing to know about the wedding is if there is going to be ballet. Ballet is really important. When you get married you dance together. You HAVE to and ballet is the best!
Me: Ok, I will text this to Kevin

A few hours went by before Kevin texted back. In the meantime, Pippa and Truman choreographed a lovely ballet for he and Jasen to dance at their wedding. Being 5, when I asked them to perform the dance so I could video it for the blog they acted like they had no idea what I was talking about, but trust me when I say we are all worse off by not getting to see this ballet at the wedding. It involved very elaborate costumes, layered tutus and headpieces. I'm half tempted to start a social media campaign to urge Kevin and Jasen to perform this piece in costume at the wedding, or really anywhere! It was epic.

Then they decided to start making their own wedding decorations. Which is when I mentioned that children were not invited to the wedding...

Me: I know, and they are really going to love it, but this wedding is for grown ups. There won't be any kids
Truman: Did you tell them that sometimes me and Pip act like grownups and not like babies at all?
Me: I did not mention that, but I really enjoy when you don't act like a baby. You are getting to be very big and responsible
Truman: Mom! You are not understanding about the ballet. Pippa and I MADE the wedding ballet.
Me: Well, obviously...

Kevin, Jasen, you've been warned- there's a ballet at my house with your names written on it. It is the MOST IMPORTANT aspect of your upcoming wedding and you've clearly insulted the artist in charge. 

Although it did mean you didn't have to explain where babies come from so I think you got off pretty easy...

Sunday, June 1, 2014

my baby and the diving board

WARNING: This post will primarily be of interest to the Grandmas. It involves bragging on one of the kids. Feel free to stop back another day for something less obnoxious!

Truman has been rocking level one swimming for three years. Yep, that's right, three years. He spent the majority of each class talking. Talking to the swim instructors, talking to the other children, talking to himself.

We started him at a new pool over the winter. They sort their classes based on what the parents see as the goal of swim class- stroke instruction or comfort/fun in the water. Who chose a stroke instruction class and the kids have made amazing progress.

Truman finally moved up to level 2 at the end of the last session. After just one session at level two, he has been bumped up to level three!

Here he is at the swim club today. I was quite literally speechless. Three months ago he was in level one and now he runs off the diving board and swims to the ladder.

Proud mom alert!


Friday, May 30, 2014

yesterday, or the day i met a crazy person at the grocery store

Yesterday morning I took all four kids to the grocery store. The shopping part went exactly as you're picturing it. So, when I pulled the giant race car cart into a check lane and started throwing our 6 gallons of milk up on the belt I was already worn out, and a bit cranky.

Enter Religious Zealot (RZ.) She was checking out ahead of me. Because, of course. Of course I run into this person with all four kids at Kroger...

RZ (gesturing towards Penelope & Quintin): Are they twins?
Me (assuming she's a sweet old lady): Yes, that's Penny and Quin. They are 2 1/2.
RZ: You know, you never used to see twins and now they're everywhere
Me: Non-commital noise 

As an aside, those who know me well have likely seen my full range of noncommittal noises, honed over years of work with the public and a couple mentally unbalanced supervisors. They got quite a workout in this exchange.

RZ: Back in my day, some people had kids and some people didn't and everyone was fine with it
Me: Non-commital noise
RZ: You know, my sister didn't have any kids and she was just fine with it
Me: Non-commital noise, and beginning to suspect this is not going to be my usual encounter with sweet old lady
RZ: How old are your older kids?
Me: They are 5 1/2
RZ: Both of them?
Me: Yes
RZ: You have two sets of twins?
Me: Yes
RZ: Are they natural?

I've written before here and here and here about being asked A LOT of inappropriate questions. This question tops my list. When you ask someone if their twins are natural or if their twins were a surprise, you are asking for the details of how the children were conceived. It's rude. Do you really want to hear about a stranger or acquaintance's failed birth control, drunken one night stand, or years of struggle?

I used to have an arsenal of cute quips like they don't seem to be synthetic, but after some serious consideration I now always answer, in a very calm and respectful tone.

Me: I don't discuss my children's conception with strangers.

95% of the times this stops all conversation full stop. I like to envision people realizing how invasive and highly inappropriate their question was and vowing to never repeat the mistake again.

A girl can dream...

RZ: Ha! Well isn't that an answer. You know people didn't used to be able to play God, creating people with no respect for His will.
Me (at this point realizing I'm now having a completely different conversation that I anticipated and that I needed to stay super calm so the kids didn't pick up on what was going on): Your question is incredibly rude. It's especially not appropriate in front of my children.
RZ: Now we have all this technology and test tube babies and people cloning people and who knows what else. So are all your twins unnatural?
Me: Oh my God, you're still talking out loud.
RZ: I'm going to pray for you and your children. I'm going to pray they can overcome the willful selfishness of their parents. 

At this point, she has paid for her groceries. I assume she will carry her crazy self out of the Kroger and this will be a weird story for me to tell people.

If only...

The guy starts scanning my groceries and we exchange a look like, can you believe this lady. Meanwhile, she's still talking...

RZ: I'm going to talk to my pastor about your family. You know, he has a lot of things to say about people playing God and thinking they know better than the Lord.
Me: Non-commital noise
RZ: Some other nonsense
Me: More non-committal noises

She continued to talk the entire time my groceries were scanned and bagged.

In fact, she followed me out past the carts at the front of the store while I thought to myself, if I can just get to the parking lot, she will go to her car and we can get away from her.

Aside: If someone is following you out of a store, this is not the right choice. I blame hunger and two hours in a grocery store with four small children.

SHE FOLLOWED ME TO OUR VAN. Yes, that's right, she followed me to my van in hopes I'd pray with her about my sins.

I abandoned our groceries at the back of the van, briskly walked to the the far side, threw the kids in and locked the doors. When I got back around to the driver's side she was blocking the door.

She was standing between me and my kids.

Me: You need to step away from my van
RZ: Did you just lock the doors?
Me: Step away from my van
RZ: I'm trying to talk to you about Jesus

I called 911.

The deputy who responded was very kind. He took a report and notified the store manager. He hung out in the parking lot for awhile.

I'm sure she's going to spend all weekend with her pastor praying for my soul.

This whole thing has me thinking about a wider picture. The issues we believe in can be terribly divisive. It's easy in the abstract or online to demonize a person who disagrees with you. It's far easier to assume they have sinister motives or no feelings. It's frightening to think we've gone so far down the rabbit hole that we feel empowered to confront people in the grocery store, to behave in a threatening manner in front of their children.

I've been thinking a lot about this woman. I prayed for her last night as well. I prayed that she could come to treat those she considers to be advisories with compassion.  I pray that she comes to realize the difference between an issue she feels strongly about an a living, breathing, feeling person behind her at the grocery store. I pray that she finds a less rude and antagonistic way to share her beliefs.

Mostly I pray I never run into her again...

PS. I'm not sure what photos are appropriate to accompany a post about being threatened in a grocery store so I went with these adorable ones from the vacation that necessitated the trip in the first place. Why oh why did we come back to a fridge with only mustard and an old stick of pepperoni??

Saturday, May 17, 2014

mother's day and wish lists

a walking stick is always a good idea
I like to think I've been making holidays and special occasions very easy of late by making a wish list for the day.

we spotted a turtle on our hike
I also like to think my requests are so reasonable Mark is happy to comply, but that is perhaps best left for him to comment on!  :)

Mother's Day Wishes:

pippa, twirling, of course
  • Take one car to church- I HATE taking two cars to church. We almost always need to be there at different times. It makes sense not to have the kids just hanging out, but seriously, I despise it. So, even though Mark had to be there an hour early for rehearsal we all went together.
  • Do something with the kids outdoors. 
  • Dinner of my choice- Salmon, asparagus, zucchini fritters, and chopped salad. The kids mostly ate bananas, but I was in heaven!
follow the leader
Overall, we had a great day. The Cincinnati Nature Center is such an amazing treasure to have in town. The weather was perfect, the kids were (mostly) in good spirits.  

bridges are best for climbing, and picture taking
I also took a ton of photos. 

the kids may have more map reading skills than their mother
I'm fairly certain our children are above average cute. 

some of us are always up to mischief 
They can also, at times, be above average whiners, but Mother's Day is not the day to dwell on that! 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

time flies when you're having fun

Philippa and Truman graduated from preschool today.

I have to admit I got a bit weepy, especially when they sang a song about all the things they learned this year.

I have no idea where time has gone. It honestly feels like not even a year ago that they first started preschool and now here we stand on the cusp of kindergarten.

How is this possible?

How have my tiny babies gotten so big?

So smart? So amazing in nearly every way?

Friday, March 7, 2014

let it go and my lenten discipline(s)

Have you seen all the adorable Let It Go parodies popping up online the past couple weeks? They are seriously adorable. Mark found one from a mom singing about going to the bathroom by herself a few days ago. As Penny has started accompanying me to the potty to cheer me on and then ask for M&M's, I felt this mom and I could be great friends.

But more than not having any privacy at the moment, I've find myself constantly apologizing (and feeling guilty) about the mountain of unfinished, uncleaned, not organized, and generally undone stuff in our household. I'm caught in a rip tide in the sea of life.

The day after Mark showed me her video, one of the blogs I read contained the following quote from Fr. Joseph Langford, who had worked closely with Mother Teresa. He was posed the question:
What did Mother Teresa do when it seemed that there was more word than she could possible handle?

His response was so simple, I almost dismissed it immediately:
The [work she could not get to] she did not think twice about, nor should you or I, since God is not asking you to do what He does not give you the time (or heather, or resources) to do. So be at peace.

If the type A part of my brain were capable of independent speech it would have said something like, LOL, that's hilarious! Clearly if you were a better, smarter, more capable person all of this would be a breeze. You just need to try harder! Also, nothing in life is as easy as Let It Go.

But as I stewed on it a moment some other things occurred to me. My frustration, guilt, and unrealistic expectations are not only impacting my attitude, they were impacting my interactions with my family and ultimately my relationship with God.

So, I'm setting aside the Lenten discipline I'd planned, and embracing this concept. It goes against my very nature, but I feel complelled to both, see if I can do it, and if I can, how it makes me feel.

40 days of finding solace in the idea that God only asks me to do what he give me time to do. I will attempt to feel unburdoned by the unfinished tasks that I truly did not have the ability to get to. I will think and pray and prioritize. I will replace my avalanche style to-do list with things that really matter. I will bid good bye to survival mode and embrace prayerful reflection.

Ack, I'm agreeing to think and talk about my feelings. For 40 days. This is destined to end badly, but I guess striving is part of the point, yes?