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I don’t remember quite how old I was.  I believe it was late grade school, fourth or fifth grade.  It was the third night in row that she had forgotten and by then, I was pretty upset.  No tears…yet, but very disappointed.  I took the tooth downstairs to my mother and in a slightly broken voice told my mom (thankfully no older brothers were around) that The Tooth Fairy had failed to visit 3 nights in a row, and that I didn’t understand, and I wasn’t sure what was going on.  My mother, bless her, looked both shocked and embarrassed.  Starting with an apology, she told me the truth, that SHE was the elusive Tooth Fairy and that SHE had forgotten my tooth, three nights in a row.

And how, might you ask, did I react?  Tears or shouting?  Sobs or anger?  I remember it quite well: What she said made sense and it kind of “clicked” in my head, and everything was okay.  And that’s what I said, “Oh.  Okay.”  And walked off to throw my tooth in the trash.  I’m not sure why, but that truth really didn’t bother me.  Maybe because I already knew that Santa wasn’t real.  Ah, the wonders and innocence of youth.

Christians have very diverse opinions on the classical mythical characters of Santa Claus and The Tooth Fairy.  I know because I have heard and read the gambit; from vehement, total rejection to passionate, total inclusion.  In my home, we have leaned toward inclusion without blatant lying.  Yes, a hybrid of sorts.  For example, we put presents under the tree on Christmas Eve, but don’t say “From: Santa” on the tag.  Just leave it blank.  But I have never been one to blatantly lie to my children.  If they ever asked me point blank if there was a Santa Clause, and they have, I tell them point blank “No.”

Now this may seem shocking, but it has never been shocking to my children.  When my older two girls asked me about Mr. C., and I told them he wasn’t real, they laughed.  Hard.  And said, “Oh Daddy, you’re so funny!”  Yep, I told them the truth and they wouldn’t believe me.  And that routine went on for the next 4 years until they finally asked someone else about it, and they believed them.

When I forgot to get the tooth for my oldest daughter 2 nights in a row, and she was upset, I decided enough was enough, told her the truth and gave her extra money.  Yes, I “bought her off.”  She took the news well.  I’m pretty sure I repeated this financial exchange for my next daughter a year later.

Now years later, we come back to the present.  Last week, to be exact.  I had, not surprisingly, repeated my mother’s error of forgetting a tooth 3 nights in a row for one of my younger two daughters.  To her great credit, she was not as upset as I once was.  But, instead of dreaming up some fancy tale as to why The Tooth Fairy didn’t come, that night I decided it was time to tell them the truth.  I took a quarter and an extra dollar for each of my twins (Couldn’t break the news to one and not compensate the other!) and went to them.  They were upstairs waiting for me to come and say goodnight.  The tooth was under the pillow.  With the lights full on and them watching, I pulled a shiny quarter from my pocket, reached under the pillow, and swapped it for the tooth.  The reaction was immediate.

Shrieks and giggles.

“Daddy, stop!  The Tooth Fairy won’t know where to find it!”

“Daddy, you’re so silly!”

“Daddy, you’re not The Tooth Fairy!”

And more giggles.

“Yes I am.  I am The Tooth Fairy.  I have been The Tooth Fairy for over ten year!”

Even more giggles.

“Daddy!  Ha, ha!  You’re no fairy!”

I was getting absolutely nowhere.  Just like their older sisters, they took my offering of truth as a joke.  I decided to enlist some help.  If they wouldn’t believe me, maybe they’d believe their older sisters.  I called them both upstairs and shortly they stood before me and their younger siblings, who were still giggling.  Can you see the train coming?

Knowing my older daughters penchant for dramatization, I set the stage by stating, “I’m going to ask you a question and I just need a yes or no.”

They looked at me, and then at each other, and started giggling themselves.

“Is the Tooth Fairy real?”

There was much commotion after this question, with laughter by all four girls, so I felt the need to repeat myself.

“I only need a yes or no.”  My oldest is grinning so broadly that I know I’m in trouble.  “Is there a Tooth Fairy?”

Both older daughters loudly say, “Yes!” and emphatically nod their heads.  Oh, the giggles.  I was utterly defeated by 4 young girls.

“Fine.”  I was prepared for tears, prepared to pay, and prepared to cuddle.  I wasn’t prepared to be laughed at.   I sighed, put the tooth back under the pillow, and put the quarter back in my pocket.  I thanked my older two “For nothing!”, kicked them out, finished saying “Goodnight” to the twins, and went downstairs.

A few minutes later, the older two were, between laughs, telling their mother what had happened.  It was a classic set up, and if I was in their position, I probably would have done the same.  It was great situational comedy which they thoroughly enjoyed.  At my expense.

But I couldn’t leave it that way.

“Just remember, you will both grow up, and some day be married, and some day have your own children.  And they’ll ask me, ‘Grandpa is there really a Santa Claus because mommy says there isn’t.’  And I’ll remember this night and how much you helped me and said to your children, ‘Yes, there is a Santa Claus.  Your mommy’s only saying that because she was very naughty when she was young and got mostly coal in her stocking.’”

More giggles.

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We are currently working on finding a curriculum for the girls’ school.  The virtual academy we have been with for the last  couple years has been nice, but it is not working.  Too much of the girls’ time is spent preparing for testing, and not enough comprehensive learning is happening.  They are bored, getting their work done so that it is done.  I want my girls to love learning as much as I do.  I want them to look forward to new subjects, to be able to take extra time on that which captures their interest. and to not know the “rules of standardized test taking” better than the rules of handwriting. 

So it is time, we are going to what some would call a “traditional home school” set-up in our home.  The curriculum that our school had was fairly good, I know we will miss much of it.  The cost of purchasing it, however, is out of the question.  Hence, it is the season for curriculum.  What to do for kindergarten?  Has it really been only four years since we last did K?  How does time go so fast and what did we do that worked that first year? Where should I start at with writing (a subject I feel they are weak on) the grade level they will be in (fifth) or the first so that they do not miss out on anything in the earlier levels?  Which math?  Latin would be nice, but how to fit it in with everything else.  So many questions, and that is just the beginning.  We are starting to fine-tune a plan.  It consumes many of my thoughts.

Speaking of thoughts.  We have decided to list our home and move, though we are still staying in the same city.  That plus curriculum and I feel like my brain has been stretched to its limit.  Thankfully, I am wrong and there are still cells firing strong when it comes time to cook dinner, can jelly, or settle a sisterly spat.  More on the house later as it is a post of its own.

Other random thoughts:

  • 12 days until we are on a beach taking in a bit of therapy sunshine after the long winter…us used loosely as it’s just the girls and I on a trip with my mom and her mom (hooray for grandmas!)
  • daylight savings time messes with me something awful, I still feel a bit off
  • between the last post and this we came down with what I call the coughing crud around here.  It was a 2 week-long illness that knocked you flat and when you finally did come out of it a bit, you had a cough that would not stop.  So glad the last one of us is on the tail end of it.
  • we now have a cat with a bum eye to add to our home (and not, the three-legged dog was not fond at first, but they seem to have worked out a peace agreement in the mean time.)
  • God is so good, all the time…even when I do not see it, looking back I see His hand!
  • warm dirt and fresh veggies are in my not too distant future

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crazy busy

I think every single post could be titled “crazy busy”.  How is that for creativity?

We’ve been: cooking, baking more bread, two family reunions, yard sale this weekend, spring cleaning (yeah, a season late on that one), theatre camp, helping my Mother-In-Law get her place ready to sell, and cleaning my parent’s business out.  I’ve also been running 4-5 times a week trying to get in shape for a July 10th 5K.  I feel tired looking at the list knowing there is still the daily to-do going on as well.  The big thing on my mind is my parent’s business.

This is the last week my parent’s own their restaurant.  It’s sold, signed, and July 1st is no longer theirs.  I can not tell you how awkward this is.  Most, if not all, of my 30 years have been spent in a restaurant…this one since 1985.  It was past time, though, and I am proud of my parents for knowing when to say they just can’t do it anymore.  The way you make money in a small business is by doing the work yourself.  When it gets to the point that you have to hire out more help, your profit margin falls and you have to stop and question if it is worth it anymore.  Combine in the stress and then you really have to ask yourself again.

The building is so old, on the town square, and full of stuff.  Familyphotos adorn the walls (yes you can go have lunch and see photos of me as a child as well as photos of my children…imagine that.)  There are family heirlooms on shelves, and thirty years of “stuff” stashed here and there.  Yes, it is like a second home to them, but where they work all the time.  Anyone remember the old Intellivision game systems with games like Asteroid and Burger Time…we found our old one in the back of a cupboard.  How about the engine and parts to an old VW Bug, it’s up in the top of the place, the body apparently wouldn’t fit through the door and is stored elsewhere. 

Business paperwork for 25-30 years worth of business, check. 

Furniture that used to be in their home, check.

One of my great-great-uncle’s dulcimer that he crafted when nearly blind, check.

Dad’s hole-in-one trophy, check.

Toys for my children, check.

Books from my childhood, check.

So this last week or two has been a bit like moving for them, again.  If you remember they moved last fall into a house half the size of what they had.  Hopefully they find room for the treasures and are able to let go of the rest. 

Plus do you know how odd it will be to not just stop in there on Sat. morning after the farmer’s market to visit with dad?  Or to time my errands so we can stop and visit with mom during the slow time from 2-4.  Not that they are going anywhere, I’ll still be able to stop at their HOME and visit them.  In many ways this feels stranger than them moving out of their house…they were only there ten years.  This place has been around since I was five.

I will be cooking at least one or two more meals a week.  At least once a week we were asked to stop up for a meal, and on occasion  we would stop up anyways.  Oh, and the leftovers we would take home.  It will be awhile until I miss the chicken, it has gotten kind of old, really.  I will miss the slaw, some of the sandwiches, and the fish.  I guess we can always go up there and have a meal though.

I will miss the place.  The new owners are great, though.  Very nice people, keeping it pretty much the same, especially to start out with.  I wish them well, and I know we will be in and out for a meal here and there.  Small towns hate change, I hope the community treats them as well or better than they have my parents.  It’s a labor of love running your own place and having a community that appreciates your services and what you bring to the table (ha, get it…bring to the table) helps immensely!

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I know I’ve mentioned before that my parent’s  own a restaurant.  In my Easter photos, the last picture was taken out front at the entry.  It is an old historic building at the center of our little town.  Before it was their restaurant it was a drug store, a department store before that with apartments above, and into it’s beginnings it housed doctor offices, a dry goods store, and various other odds and ends. 

 It has an office (where I spent many hours every week as a child, a banquet room, dining room, kitchen, store room, candy store, two rentals, a wild basement, and an even crazier upper levels.  Recently my mom and I have done most of our sewing in the office of the candy store. 

It has been host to many family events.  Baby showers, wedding showers, graduation parties, after-proms….my wedding reception.  We got married in the morning for a couple reasons; less formal, avoiding the July heat in an un-airconditioned old church, and the restaurant could open at four instead of three that day of the reception.  I threw a surprise (still not sure how I pulled it off) 30th Anniversary party for my parents there (it was lovely, I even hung my mom’s wedding dress on a dress-form at the entrance…very fun.)   Nearly every birthday is celebrated in the banquet room.  

After over 30 years in the business, my parents are selling their restaurant.  I am so glad, but a tad bit sad.  Glad because I know they are having a hard time keeping up with it all.  The cost of running a small business keeps going up with their age.  Sad because it was very much a part of my childhood and upbringing (and now my children’s as well.) 

Running your own business is hard work.  The physical labor involved in a restaurant is bigger than you might think.  My parents just can not do it anymore. 

They have been at their current location since 1985 and before that they were across the street from where they are now.  I really hope that whoever buys it realizes the heart and soul that has been poured into the place.  The art on the wall is family pieces, quilts made by my aunt, and pictures of my kids.  The recipes have been handed down through generations of both my parent’s families. 

Many have asked why Forest and I aren’t taking it over.  How do I tell them that I grew up in it, I know what kind of family life it allows and want better for my kids.?  It isn’t that we didn’t have a family life, it just was different than what we do here.  My parents worked hard at something they had a passion for and did what they could with what time they had.   My sisters and I all grew up knowing the value of hard work and have excellent people-skills as well as work ethic.  However,  I know that the problem with taking over a small business is time…something we do not have.  In order to turn a decent profit, you can not manage from the sidelines.  You have to be a part of the labor every day.  Your busiest hours are during family meals.  Holidays are the biggest days to be open sales-wise.  your days off are slated for ordering, repairs, housework/laundry, and so on.  Your days working might start at 8AM and go until 9PM.  I fear that if I were to take over the restaurant, it would take over me.  I am just not willing to give that much of me to another source besides my family and home. 

Though the income would be nice, here are the four main reasons I just can not do that:

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I’ve mentioned a couple times that yoga is kicking my hind end.  Unfortunately all that kicking hasn’t been doing my hind end much good…or so I thought. 

Now first a jab at me.  I found out a couple weeks ago that I have been doing the easy class, as in the one for first-timers or seniors…and it’s been kicking my hind end.  There is a harder class, it gets harder?  You have to be kidding me!   I am a bit of a sissy when it comes to exercise, but not that much of a sissy.  I do all the optional “if you want more” stances, weights, etc. that they offer, but finding out I was in the beginner/senior class all the while waking up in the morning feeling last night’s class is a bit disheartening.   Lesson’s learned: 1) Yoga looks so sleek and easy but it is challenging, while conveniently the  focus on where your body is at helps keep you from injury and 2) I am more out of shape that I thought I was.

Today, I can confidently say that I am finally feeling the weight-loss and the scale confirms 3 pounds are gone.  It’s only 3 pounds many of you are thinking, shaking your heads.  It’s been since New Year’s that I started Yoga once a week and more recently twice a week along with a night on the bike or something similar.  That would be a pound a month when I would so much prefer a pound a week!  But goodness knows it is a start.

I do not easily call pounds gone either.  They have to be gone for a few days so that I know they are for sure gone. Seeing that those three pounds are gone and not just a fluctuation I was encouraged to go get a pair of jeans out that I know how they fit.  I have a couple pairs of the same jeans, have had them awhile…I just am used to how it feels to step in and zip up.  They have gotten bigger (insert big grin!)  It is my hope that all this while that I thought my metabolism was junk, I was really building up muscle while I was burning fat.  Hence the scale didn’t show much change. 

In looking back I do feel better.  I have much better balance, you should see my tree pose…I started out with the “up” foot having it’s toes on the floor but have graduated to an actual one foot tree pose.   And, I can do dancer’s pose without falling down, not a deep one, but still I can do it.  Yes, not just losing balance, I mean  all out falling on the floor.  Go ahead, laugh, I’m laughing at myself over that one.  I guess you could say I am getting more graceful, those who know me in real life know I have a long way to go.   I notice my posture is better, though I have a long way to go there as well.  And warrior 2 used to have my arms burning and screaming the third time through.  I can now do it without commanding my arms to stay out, stretched, and up.  How out of shape was I?  Let’s not focus there.

Most importantly, I just feel better.  I am less stressed and tired all the time.  I still have days like that, where I just feel like I could sleep all day, but I am really going to start focusing on what I am eating and doing around those days to see if it might be something I am (or am not) eating.  I am also going to try to work in one more night of exercise so that I am doing 3-4 a week instead of 2-3.  One thing I do remember from losing weight before kids was hitting plateaus and getting frustrated.  However hitting that seems to tell me it’s time to exercise more or cut back something else out of my diet.  I know now that once I get comfortable with one thing, it’s time to push further…even if you are still in the beginners/seniors class.

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CHAPTER 8:  DADDY vs. TRYING TRADITIONAL

I love my wife.  With all my heart.  And I want to help her and try to the best I can.  I accomplish this with “Yes, dear” and by doing whatever I’m told.  My first employer once told me “Happy wife, happy life.”  I’ve tried to heed his warning advice.  So, when my wife began talking to me about diet changes, I listened.  And I asked questions when needed.  Some of it made sense, like not eating packaged and processed foods from the grocery because of the chemicals and preservatives.  Some of it was a little harder to swallow (semi-pun intended), like raw milk.  Yeah, she had to do some serious convincing for me to be okay with that.  But she can break me down much the same way my children can (who are also girls):  Repetitive Petitioning.  Yes, that’s right, Chapter 7’s phrase of the week. 

 

Anybody remember the term “Psy-Op’s” from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?  It’s short for “psychological operations” and had to do with dropping flyers and playing taped messages from speakers on vehicles as they drove through the neighborhoods, etc.  Messing with the enemies mind to help in defeating them.  Here’s an example my elder sibling picked up while over there.

 

 

I don’t have a clue what they say, but I can get a good guess from the pictures.  The reason I bring this up is that I feel like “Domestic Psy-Op’s” is being used on me at home.  A lot.  And because I’m pretty simple, it usually works.  I guess Repetitive Petitioning is just one method of Domestic Pys-Op’s.  As soon as I figure out the others, I’ll let you know.  At least, I think I will?  Hmmm.

 

-So it’s a “starter” for sour-dough bread?  And it’s a “living” organism?  What?

Raw milk?  Alright dear, I can tell you feel strongly about this.  (I won’t drink it, anyway.)

Make our own bread?  Sure, I like fresh, homemade bread.

-Grind our own grain for the bread?  By hand?!!?  Okay, sure, I’d love to turn the crank.

-Make our own yogurt?  Really?  Sure, have fun with that.

-No, I don’t think it’s cool how the sour dough starter “breathes”!

-Frozen, whole chickens?  Uh, okay, let’s get some.

-Join a CSA?  What’s that?

-The electric grain mill costs how much?!  Fine, just as long as we get rid of the hand crank.

-A dehydrator?  For how much?!  For a dehydrator?!?! I don’t think we can…homemade beef jerky?  Oh, okay. 

-Yes, I’d love to build you a Square-Foot Garden.  I’ll go get the wood for that today.

-I hate to tell you this, but I think your “living organism” is dead.

-Dear, what’s in this jar?  I don’t know, it’s white and gooey.  Yogurt or kefir what-ir?  No thanks, you smell them!

Why are we doing all this again?

 

But, I did reach my limit.  Chickens.  You keep your own chickens for the eggs in your back yard.  You build a movable pen, they eat the grass, lay some eggs, and you move the pen.  But I’m pretty sure chicken manure is the worst smelling manure in existence (excluding a number of fresh diapers I’ve had the honor changing within the last few years).  And we don’t much time left to mess with it.

So, we’ve been doing this for a few years now, and I’ve gotten used to it, to some degree.  I know we’re all healthier in the long run.  The salsa is awesome, too.  Looking back over the list (which doesn’t include everythings that’s been thrown at me), I have to wonder what the next few years will bring.  Whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll be an Adventure!

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I was cleaning up supper, when the twins started shouting at each other.  The older two were already in their room playing.  So, I turned and saw what you’ll see in the videos below. 

Allow me to translate.  Twin on the left is crying like a baby.  Twin on right is yelling, “No, no, no baby!”  Of course, as soon as I shut the camera off, they switch roles.  So I turned it back on. 

In case you’re wondering, Cee-Cee is the one on the right.  She has to be the most giggliest 2 year old girl in the WORLD!  Ahhhhhhh, adorable. 

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Chapter 7:  Daddy vs. Nancy Drew

 

So, I saw this game online that looked interesting.  Nancy Drew and the Haunted Carousel (and to make it legal, it’s by HER Interactive, available now, online at www.herinteractive.com). 

 

 

 

haunted-car                                              car-1

 

 

 

Anyway, I could get a free 1-hour trial.  I like mystery games, so I thought, “Why not?”  Long story short, I ended up buying it.  The girls (the older 2) saw me playing it one time, and as usual, begged to play what I was playing.  At first I said no.  But, as only kids can, they broke down my resistance with their non-violent, psychological methods.  The primary technique used, which is not taught in any class, but is somehow genetically imprinted into the psyche of the little people who range in age from “just learning to talk” to “finally moved out, got a job, and my own place to live”, is Repetitive Petitioning. 

 

Notice the base form of the question: “Daddy, can I play your Nancy Drew game?”  Again, it’s not taught in any class but somehow they instinctively know how to do it: they slightly altar that question each time they ask it.  Let’s start with the base question again, and work our way from there.

 

“Daddy, can I play your Nancy Drew game?”

“Daddy, when can I play your Nancy Drew game?”

“Can I play your Nancy Drew game now, Daddy?”

“Daddy, please can I play your Nancy Drew game?  Please?!?”

“Daddy, you know what I would really like more than anything else?  I would really like to play your Nancy Drew game, please?”

 

Notice, also, how manners (i.e. “please”) is instinctively injected as their pleas turn more desperate.  Interesting, is it not?  Now, because I have a 7 and 8 year old, I had the begging times 2.  Actually, in this case, it felt more like begging2.

 

So, I thought about it.  I’ve read a few of the Nancy Drew books with them.  Nancy doesn’t swear, doesn’t dress provocatively (but always fashionably), is a good friend, is smart and determined, is not too interested in boys, doesn’t believe in ghosts or monsters, is non-violent, and last but not least, adores her father.  The game was pretty much the same way.  The carousel isn’t really “haunted”, and it’s not really scary.  And there’s even a “Junior” mode for younger players.  So, I considered myself soundly defeated, and let them play.  Oh, poor Daddy, if you only knew then what I know now.

 

“Daddy, what does this mean?” 

“Daddy, what does that mean?”

“Daddy, I don’t understand this.”

“Daddy, can you help me?”

“Daddy, can you please help me, please?”

“Daddy, you know what I would really like?  I would really like you to help me with the Nancy Drew game.”

 

That’s right; all new questions begin, yet somehow sounding so familiar.  They liked the game, sure enough, but they didn’t have a clue about using the resources given in the game to solve puzzles.  I think, maybe, the amount of reading was a challenge for them.  And, the games they’re used to are primarily motor-skill games (using hands and fingers) instead of using their minds for deductive reasoning and logical thinking.  So, in one way, it was actually a good experience for them.  And, I got to spend time with them, helping them learn how to think and deduce for themselves. 

 

Sure, it was trying at times, but they enjoyed themselves.  And since I liked it, I waited, looked, and found a deal at Best Buy where I got 4 more Nancy Drew games as a bundle for $20.  Yeah, I felt good:  $5 a game, which normally sell for $20 a piece. 

 

 

nan-ultimate-dare        (Sorry, no longer at Best Buy, but you can get it at www.half.com, Amazon, etc.)

 

 

 

But since I had waited a while before buying them, the passage of time had rubbed from my mind the endless questions and the begging for help. 

 

So let’s please end this post, please!

You know what I would like?  I would really like to end this post now.  Please!

 

I’ve beaten all four games.  The younger has made it through 2; the older, 1 ½.  Through this Month O’Nancy, there has been:  arguing and yelling between the girls, sometimes hitting between the girls (one insisting on helping the other when the other doesn’t want to be helped), incessant begging for help, incessant whining for help, spells of crying in frustration and hopelessness when I couldn’t help right away, and to top it all off, endless petitions to play the last two games.  Enough was enough, and I declared no more Nancy Drew games until after school is over!  That will buy me some time while still giving them hope.  Surprisingly, they accepted that without argument (at least to me).

 

Nancy, dear Nancy:  I love ya, but who knew you could cause a father early ulcers and thinning hair that was already so thin, it’s almost non-existent?

 

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I like to call this one “Cute Birthday Wishes to Mommy!”  Who knew cake could be so exciting!

 

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