Library of Con-dress
Reigning chaos constantly swirls around our house, leaving sticky spots, trails of toys, randomly abandoned single socks, and bellowing children in its wake, which makes it difficult to find any peace, let alone thoughts to call one's own. (It sounds like the lead-in to an advertisement for a swanky, tropical time-share, doesn't it?) Caleb, who turned eight on the 30th, is the least loud-mouthed of our brood, but is also our most consistently cheerful, which means he's often helping with the younger kids rather than demanding attention. (Marie calls him "Bug," which just melts away all of your internal organs.) Sometimes, though, even our easy-going Caleb has to creatively carve out some "me time"
A few weeks ago, I noticed that Caleb kept magically disappearing, Narnia-like, into our pathetically barren cedar closet for quite long chunks of time, only to emerge looking refreshed and ready to tackle another brother or sister (yes, literally). Later, when I peeked my head into the closet, I glimpsed a pair of bare, gangly legs draped from the top shelf and a gleeful smile beaming down from near the ceiling. When I asked Caleb what he was doing, he informed me that he had made the closet into his "library."
He had clearly posted the rules and regulations of his domain, such as the cost of a Library Card for only two cents. He even rigged up a bucket with a string tied to it to be filled with the desired reading material and then gracefully lowered down to any anxious patrons. He also posted the fees for fines on the door to the closet/library. (And he knows all about fines because the Madison Libary is currently building the Sarah d'Evegnee Late Fee Wing on to their new structure. Each summer I naively/stupidly convince myself that I can handle taking all six kids to the library regularly for the summer reading program, and when I bravely lead my little ducklings clutching their seventeen books a piece to the check-out desk, all of the librarians collectively brace themselves for the large wads of cash coming their way.)
Springtime Sell Out
We can belt out "The Sunnull Come Out, Tomorrow!" as loud as we want, and it just plain isn't true around these parts. Ethan, Caleb, and Eve decided that 40 degree weather was perfect for setting up a Lemonade Stand, but they were not only short on sunshine, but business funds as well. No problem. They decided to sell our tap water for ten cents a glass (C'mon. It's packed with fluoride. And Rexburg 2010 is a very good year). Then Ethan's friend raided his Mom's cupboards for packages of crackers, granola bars, and nuts that they sold for only a dollar a package. (Oh. But it was buy one, get one free, so it wasn't as pricey as it initially sounds.) Their profit margin was pretty high, considering that they stole all of their inventory.
Being the self-selected brains of the company, Ethan sent the "talent" to the corner to hold up a sign advertising their little set-up. As I drove around the corner after class, I saw Eve standing all alone on the street corner, rosy cheeked and shivering in the wind, waving the sign and looking adorably orphaned. Eric calmly said to Ethan, "You can't make your baby sister stand alone all the way down the street!" Ethan just blinked innocently and said, "But Dad! We made five dollars!"
I have to admit that Eve's pure charisma more than compensates for Ethan's lack of moral scruples, at least as far as street vending is concerned. Eve has no problem approaching complete strangers and offering them a smile or a little observation about life, complete with dramatic hand gestures and facial expressions. After skyping with our family for a few minutes a couple of weeks ago and listening to Eve chatter away, Eric's Uncle Jack observed, "I can see you've got an actress, but do you have a point guard?"
Holden Down the Fort
Holden is our straight-arrow, and usually leads his younger siblings with dignity and just a smidge of manipulation. To prepare them to see the new Percy Jackson flick, Holden gathered the younger kids into his room and gave them free mythology lessons, which he described to me in detail. I thought it was inspiring and all, but I'm more than happy to let him cough up the money for all of the tickets if he wants to see it that badly before the DVD is released. (We still haven't seen the movie, despite Holden's preparatory and hopeful lecture series.)
We instigated a rule that the kids can only watch one hour of TV on school days. Eric and I wondered how they seemed to be maximizing their alloted brain-rotting time, until he went down to the basement and overheard Holden frantically whispering to his siblings, "It's a commercial--close your eyes and it won't count!"
The Fall of Eve
In Eve's kindergarten's recent Circus Program, she played a graceful tight-rope walker whose mother told her she wouldn't slip on the tightrope/balance beam if she took off her shoes. Oops. I was playing the piano for the program and Eric was shooting the video footage, so rather than reaching out to our fallen star, we just dumbly sat there. If you watch the video clip, you can hear the gasping parent who obviously cares for our daughter more than we do. You can also clearly see her teacher help her up because her Mom is still playing the piano and her Dad is still filming. You can even hear the awkward pause in my playing as I debate whether to keep playing or to help my struggling performer and then you can watch as I continue tinkling those ivories as my wounded daughter sits and cries on the step. I can't decide if I should just erase this clip so she doesn't see it when she's sixteen and scream at me that I never really loved her.