Friday, February 26, 2010

Do-It-Yourself Bo Hunkmeister

As some of you may know I have a wonderful husband who I lovingly refer to as Bo Hunkmeister. Don't ask about the name,  it would take too long to explain. Just the other night, he washed and folded two loads of laundry and then rubbed MY feet! Now, whenever I tell people a story like this, one comment I usually get is "Gee, you have him trained well!" I use to laugh this off but lately I've reconsidered. I started to think, "What does this comment mean? I've married a chimp? For a few bananas, Skippy the Wonder Monkey will fold laundry?" But how did I end up with such a wonderful man? I wish I could say it's because of my sterling, yet humble example but that would be a bold faced lie. However, I do think some of my behavior has helped Bo to be the Hunkmeister he truly is.

Here are my guidelines I've developed over the years:
1. Do not ridicule your man in public.
This includes jokes. Even if he makes a joke about himself, this is not an invitation for you to jump in and add to the laughs. I often hear, "Oh, he knows I'm joking!" Does he? Also consider, has the joke gotten old? As in, he's laughing because he's hoping you'll eventually stop? If you say anything about your guy in public, make it positive. Not gushing and patronizing, just positive.

2. Don't expect him to communicate like a woman.
Women have made dissecting conversation into an art form. I used to spend hours trying to figure out what Bo meant when he said "I'm going to the store." When he was quiet and introspective, I'd pepper him with questions like he was some Iraqi insurgent. Now, if I suspect something is bothering him, I ask once. If he says nothing, then I leave him alone. I've found that he'll eventually talk to me after he's thought it through a few times.

3. Don't expect him to read your mind
How it use to be:
He comes home from a long hard day at work and I greet him with a pout (mind you, this is the fifth time this week I've greeted him with the same pout). Or better yet, the man is hardly in the door before I start verbally throwing up on him about how HIS children have behaved today. As the evening progresses, I'm getting more and more irritated that he hasn't interpreted my pout to mean that I want him to do something to help me.
How it is now:
I try to find out how his day was. He could have had a really tough one and doesn't need my stuff on top of it (yes, he is allowed to have bad days). If I do want relief from the mayhem that is my life, I ask nicely; not demand, not manipulate, not sneak off and do. And I am SPECIFIC (i.e. can you order us a pizza for dinner? can I go out for a half an hour? can you e-bay the children?)

4. Act like you need him

5. Respect him as a man
Respect his opinions. Trust in his abilities. Any man who can hold down a full time job is more than capable of childcare, house cleaning and laundry. Just because Bo doesn't do things my way does not mean it isn't the right way. If you're only willing to have the laundry done your way, then expect to do it all the time and don't complain.
Also, men like to do guy things (mess with tools, watch sports, do outdoor things) Don't belittle this any more than you want him to belittle your girl-talk time or your latch hook rug project (and you know you have one).

6. Give him a home he wants to return to
My house is by no means Martha Stewart level, but I try to have the kids pick up the big stuff before Bo gets home. I also try to keep the noise level to a dull roar. I usually have dinner ready or at least underway so he doesn't walk in with me standing in front of an open fridge frantically trying to make dinner out of leftover pancakes and green bean casserole. And I try to give him a little time to decompress before I verbally assault him with what happened today/what needs to get done tonight/what the kids did to the cat, etc. Why do I do this? If he's got a warm inviting place to come home to, he'll want to come home and not find one million and one reasons to work late/attend meetings/etc.

Well, that's enough lecturing for now. If you want the full course credit program, send $499.95 to the Domestic Goddess, One Soap Box Way, Opinionated, RI

Saturday, February 20, 2010


*UPDATE: please read this immediately after

What the heck?
Have you lost your mind?
Do you know how old you are? What are you doing to yourself?

And this is just the stuff I've said to myself. Forget what anyone else is going to say.

All I know is.....

God reads my blog!

You know how I know this? A few weeks ago I posted about waiting for a baby girl so I could name her Golda. And now I'm pregnant.

That's right. Baby number seven is on his or her way. I'm thinkin' sometime around the end of September but my babies have no respect for my schedule so it really could be anywhere from August to November. Sorry, am I being too cavalier?

It's been tough for me to get my head around this. I mean, I'm ok with the large family thing where 'large' is defined as more than three but less than six. But for me, seven starts pushing the envelope.

I didn't set out to be like this. Really. When I first started dating Bo, I didn't know if I wanted kids. After we had been married 10 years, I thought three was the perfect number. I guess seven is the new three?

Anyway, shortly after my third was born, Bo and I began having these nagging thoughts. Three was the number we wanted but what if it wasn't the right number? Let me explain.

First a disclaimer: I neither expect any reader out there to agree nor understand the beliefs I put forth here. The belief system I have is just that, my belief system.

So, where was I?

Just before we were married, we got serious about our faith ("born again" in Christianese). We started to really think about what it meant to follow what God said in the Bible. What does it mean to trust God? What does it mean to have faith in Him? We decided that as best we could, we were going to follow what we discerned God wanted us to do ("trust in the Lord") In some areas of our lives this was easy. We would come to a decision point in our lives, pray, seek the counsel of people we respected and then proceed. We would trust God to provide for us. That didn't mean we sat on our butts and waited for things to happen. It meant we realized there's a bigger plan at work in our lives so don't sweat the small stuff. But when it came to family size, we said to ourselves that three was a fine number and we were done with makin' babies.

Then we went to a homeschooling conference.

Don't ever go to one of those unless you're prepared for a paradigm shift. I'm not saying it will definitely happen, but it can. These conferences can totally mess with your definition of family and faith, in a very good way, but upend what you assumed to be the right thing to do.

So it was at one of these conferences that the thought occurred to me ("I was convicted"): if I was going to trust God as the authority in my life, I couldn't withhold this one area of fertility. Again - major disclaimer - I'm not saying birth control or family planning is wrong, I'm just trying to paint a picture of how I went from Long Island Mall Chick to Large Family Homeschooler.

Back to my story. Fearing that I would become Michelle Duggar, I did not immediately share these thoughts with Bo. I figured if this was really the way to go, I would need to think more, read more, pray more and see if God confirmed this by having Bo come up with the same idea without my influence. Sure enough, Bo approached me a few months later saying that he had been having these nagging thoughts ("God was convicting him") about who would determine our family size. We discussed it for a few months, prayed, and decided to let our family size be determined by God.

Why am I telling you all this? I think the common assumption about large families is that we fall into it willy-nilly. If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me "What's the matter? You don't have cable?" I'd have full cable, satellite and TiVo (on tv's in every room). Another assumption is that we're trying to prove a point: "We're gonna out-populate all them (fill in the blank)!!" The point is that it was a personal decision made after lots of discussion, counsel and prayer.

And let me tell you, trusting God to determine your family size is not easy. We're not blind to the needs of a large family; we're well aware of our carbon footprint, the financial aspects of 'livin' large', the psychological effects on the children, et cetera. But it's what we've chosen. Feel free to disagree, but please do so politely.

So here I am. I am "The-Mommy-Blogger-Formerly-Known-as-The-Domestic-Goddess-Now-to-Be-Referred-to-as-The-Venus-of-Willendorf" or V-Dub for short. If you don't know what the Venus of Willendorf is, go look it up (do I have to do everything for you?)

I printed out Psalm 128 as a way of telling Bo to expect our fourth child. After our fifth, Bo taped it to my kitchen cabinet. Maybe after this one, we'll get it carved into something.

Blessed are all who fear the LORD,
who walk in his ways.

You will eat the fruit of your labor;
blessings and prosperity will be yours.

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;

your sons will be like olive shoots
around your table.

Thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.

May the LORD bless you from Zion
all the days of your life;

may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem,
and may you live to see your children's children.

Peace be upon Israel.

I've read in some Bible commentaries that seven represents perfection. It is from the Hebrew root (savah), to be full or satisfied, have enough of. Sounds good to me.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Some Fun with the Kids

So I've been reading "The Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell. It's a fascinating look into what are critical elements to success (by this I mean wealth and/or notoriety.) The common assumption, I think especially in America, is that individual intelligence and/or ambition is what makes a person successful. Ain't necessarily so. Gladwell shows in his book that quite a bit of one's success has to do with criteria beyond mere smarts and ambition.

One such criteria is your creativity. His example is Christopher Langan who has a genius IQ, but mere IQ was not enough to make him a "success." You need to have creativity to know what to do with that intelligence. Gladwell's example of intelligence combined with creativity is Robert Oppenheimer. Apparently, while still a student at Oxford, he got mad at a tutor and poisoned him. Somehow, Oppenheimer managed to explain the situation such that his only punishment was to be put on probation. For poisoning a tutor! Sounds like someone I know.....

Anyway, Gladwell mentions a creativity test in his book. Being the homeschool freak inquisitive mother that I am, I put my three eldest to the test. Those of you who know us, see if you can guess whose answers are who's (that was grammatically tricky).

Test parameter: you have ten minutes to think of as many uses for the two items listed on your page.

Kid One
hit someone, tools, hammer, gem (?), put into building, money, trading, igloo, box, shed, crayons, boardbook, table, statue, wall chairs

scarf, net, layer (?), pillow, clothing, mattress, trading, bag, tent, money (?), hat, gloves

Kid Two
make a house, throw it at the window (?!?), use it for a chemistry experiment, to explain symmetry (very clever, eh?), put a gun powder cap on it and whack it with another brick, paper weight, use as chalk, make a mini Stonehenge ("NO! We're not going to do bloody Stonehenge!" - name that movie!), make a bench, well

as a tent, for sleeping, being a ghost, cover something, stuff it in someone's mouth (!!!), give it to someone, a sleepover padding, dry your hands, clean something, keep you warm, cover a baby, lower yourself out the window, a strainer, make a rat's tail, a bandanna handkerchief, make a breeze.

Kid Three
part of a wall, to put behind a wheel, door-stopper, decoration, place marker when measuring, part of a building, science experiment, part of a platform or table, breaking window (what's with these kids?), weights when exercising, a press or to hold something down, part of a shed

part of a tent, lovey for Gummi, cloak, cape, picnic blanket, cover for something, pot holder when folded up, dishtowel, use to make a sibling pizza or burrito (dare I ask?), science experiment, ghost costume, place to hide small stuff, temporary shade, really big napkin, apron, sail

I don't know if these results point to my kids being creative or in need of some counseling.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Adventures in Fine Dining

I have a love/hate relationship with Japanese hibachi restaurants. On one hand, I don't think these chefs really cook like that normally, and I hate to see the 'lookee! lookee!' kind of Asian parody for the amusement of others. On the other hand, the food is usually good and it was at a hibachi restaurant that I learned to like shrimp. When I was thirteen I was allowed to invite my friend Rich along to a hibachi restaurant. The chef flicked a shrimp onto my plate and I discreetly leaned over and quietly asked Rich if he wanted my shrimp. He looked at me like I just told him I club baby seals for fun. "How could you not like shrimp?!?" he said, rather loudly. Rising to the challenge I said, "No, I like shrimp. I was just wondering if you wanted extra." With a flip of my hair, I turned, took a bite and from that day forward, I mourned the fact that I spent the first thirteen years of my life not eating shrimp.

But I told you that story to tell you this.

The other evening, the Bo Hunkmeister and I had the opportunity to go out to dinner. I suggested Olive Garden, but Bo being Bo, suggested that I think a little grander. So we chose this Asian hibachi restaurant that we had heard good reviews of. It was a very swank place. Lovely, sophisticated decor, romantic atmospheric lighting. You know, the type of place that doesn't have a kids' menu or crayons to draw on the table with. Bo ordered warmed sake and I had a sushi appetizer that was just lovely.

Then I heard the horn.

The horn that Harpo Marx used. Endearing for Harpo, not endearing for a chef. He arrived at our table with his cart of supplies loudly going on about something or other in an accent so heavy, he was hardly understood. But all of us at the table smiled patronizingly anyway.

Chef started his show twirling and banging his cooking utensils on the cooktop, shouting and yelling stuff. At one point, he picked up a plastic toy in the shape of a baby boy and squirted the person next to me. He made the baby boy 'pee' on the customer. I've got four boys. I don't need another baby to piddle on me. Especially when I have grandma's pearls on. So I shot him my best Mommy look. The look where I smile but the eyes say, "I've birthed six babies, don't mess with me." Bo said he recognized that look and was going to intervene for the safety of the chef. But then he decided that it would be more amusing to see if the chef "got the message." Lucky for chef, he did.

Next the chef made fried rice, drawing pictures on the rice with soy sauce, with more "Lookee! Lookeee! So cuuuuuute!" Banging the utensils some more, he flicked veggies into the mouth of some of the patrons. Chef looked at me and again came the Mommy look. I'm trying to enjoy a nice dinner with my sweetheart, is it really necessary to throw food at me? I had ordered salmon and shrimp (you knew that was coming, eh?) and he over cooked my shrimp because he was too busy banging things and squirting sake at people. I watched my salmon cook as he carried on with his show. Not being able to stand it anymore, I looked straight at him at one point and told him to take my salmon off the grill. I'm sure he went back into the kitchen after he was done and told them all about the white devil who harshed his performance. I really don't care. Don't overcook my salmon son, people have been suffered for lesser offenses.

Don't get me wrong, I was having a nice time, the food in general was really good. I was enjoying the company, but halfway through the meal, I realized what made me irritated with the chef. I went out to dinner in order to enjoy an evening away from boisterous children who spill things, throw things and bang their cutlery. And here was this chef banging the cutlery, throwing food and squirting people with water. Why pay money for this when I can get this at home?

Our dinner came to an end and we left. Before you think the entire evening was ruined, Bo took me to Pastiche, a local dessert restaurant. This is why he is the Bo Hunkmeister. It is a known fact that Chocolate Raspberry Torte can make everything right in the world.

So next time the opportunity presents itself, I think I'll get my shrimp at Olive Garden. There's crayons and a kid menu, but I'm pretty sure they don't throw food there.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Be a Man

So I was coming out of the grocery store with my three boys yesterday when we saw a blue sports car with two teen boys in it. Not just any sports car but the type that are geared up for street racing. Then up rolls this yellow sports car (same definition) which pauses in front of the blue, rev's it's engine and rolls away. Apparently, unbeknownst to me, this is an insult in the teen guy gear head world. No sooner than we reach our van (a sweet ride in my book) then the blue car rolls by the yellow, now parked, rev's it's engine and the boys inside throw out a few choice words just to make the insult complete.

Now my little, impressionable boys are witness to the testosterone meltdown and I thought to myself, these teens think they're being men. What do I tell my boys about how to be men? I consider the Bo Hunkmeister to be a manly man; what is it about Bo that makes me think he's a man without him having to rev his car (if he had a sports car to rev). So I decided to tell my boys this; you get yourself a good, respectable woman, if you can show the strength, courage and smarts to ride that crazy rollercoaster known as the female psyche and still have her love you at the end of the day. Then you, my son, will be a man.

Friday, February 05, 2010

You Know Your Kid's Homeschooled....

When they feel the need to correct the grammar on a box of cereal.

Princess Buttercup explained that if each token is only worth $1.00 then realistically, you would only be able to buy one of the items ~or~ another, not one item ~and~ another. When I laughed at this, she said, "I just became blog fodder, didn't I?"

She's a smart one, that Buttercup.