a retraction, musings on winter coats, Capitol Day

Sean said last night that he didn’t resist the idea of a fifteen year mortgage, he just didn’t fall over with girlish enthusiasm. So, there you go.

There are some decent sales on winter coats right now at Lands’ End. I had a coupon for free shipping, so even though the budget is tight until we get our taxes back I bought one for Bede. His current coat is flimsy, poorly made, and bulky without warmth. Really a crummy excuse for a coat. It’s from Wal-Mart (or is that Walmart, now?) and I can say with confidence that we will not buy any more coats from them unless they go up in quality. Really, it’s just junk. Not that they’re alone in that. Why do coat manufacturers think that bulk = warmth?

So Bede gets a new coat midseason. No big deal. One nice thing about having so many kids is the handmedown factor, and this will be worn by at least two of his younger sibs.

Today I need to bake some cookies and decide whether to freeze leftover chili or use it for enchiladas tonight. Enchiladas are winning. I also want to set aside some time to look into different options for midwifery training, but that may not be in the cards for today.

Sean and Gilbert are at Capitol Day for homeschoolers. We have some asinine bills proposed this year that restrict homeschooling, so I hope the turnout was good.

trixie, repelling dipes, future plans

Trixie is wearing a Jayne hat and a grey sweater, both knitted my me, and a pair of maroon sweatpants, and a swimsuit, and her Chucks. She’s ready for anything!

I’ve had trouble with Gloria’s diapers repelling because they had all gotten oily from diaper ointment. I stripped them with superhot water but it didn’t help. I had to wash them all by hand, sliding each one over my hand like a flipper and rubbing them against each other with a little dishsoap. It was tedious but it worked. Moral of this story: don’t use ointment with your cloth diapers without a liner.

We found a house to try to buy! I sure hope we can get it. We have no credit so we are not great mortgage candidates, but it’s owner will carry and we have a nice chunk for a down payment. I’m really pushing for a fifteen year mortgage but Sean is resistant. He says if we get thirty year we can pay it off early. My problem with that is, well, we never pay more than we have to on anything, so the notion that we’ll double our payments is humorous.

I think I’m going to become a midwife. I think I’d be a pretty good midwife.

baking again

Today I baked a gross of cookies. Not gross cookies, but 144 cookies. Twelve dozen! They won’t last, but good cookies are meant to be ephemeral.

(This is where a beautiful photograph of the cookies goes, artfully stacked, pleasantly lumpy. But I’m sure your imagination is even better than the real thing would be, which would be a crummy artificially lit picture shot in my dreary kitchen.)

And yesterday I made bread for the first time in a while. We’d been doing without because we had a plumbing emergency that meant I had to be a chambermaid and then four of the wee Glees got strep and then I got strep, and well, I was finally back up to snuff again to bake bread and rolls.

I love doing all our baking. I didn’t want to buy even one loaf of store bread because it tastes so bad after months of our bread, and we didn’t! We did break down and buy store cookies.

Gloria went and turned two. My baby is two!

same old same old

Not particpating in a discussion doesn’t mean it won’t happen. I guess discussion isn’t the right prase. I’m talking about something that has no established dialogue.

I’m so tired. Autism and homeschooling are being debated. What will happento the autistic children today, when they become adults who still need support, help? The people today are deciding that, with radically different agendas. Saying they all want what’s best for their kids doesn’t cover it, when the “best” in question (or the Best, which is another story!) is not agreed upon.

In Oklahoma there are two bills introduced that would curtail homeschooling freedom. One is a pain in the neck – yearly registration. It won’t pass but it wouldn’t be a big deal if it did. Sure, chinks in walls, etc etc. But still. The other one says that homeschoolers have to provide appropriate education to their kids, where appropriate is defined as the same subjects and the same time spent as a public school. That would bring Oklahoma into the select group of states that are horrible to homeschool in. It won’t pass either.

But I’m tired. I don’t want to fight. Why do these things happen? Sigh.


0675. My DVD player’s remote code. Also: press DVD. Press and hold SET til light blinks twice. Then enter the code, you know, 0675. It’ll blink twice again.

Maybe I won’t lose this. Sorry to inflict it on the world.


It’s been pretty chilly here, 30s and 20s. We have an old house, built before such modern contrivances as insulation or central heat and air, and our systems are very much a kluge. The air conditioners are temperamental and Sean has to baby them all summer. They reward us by giving us marginally cooler air and exorbitant electric bills.

In winter we have the two furnaces to cozen along. The upstairs unit that heats our bedrooms is pretty decent and has given us little trouble, but the basement furnace is a prima donna that works when it feels like it. Our basement is a horrible place, full of cave spiders, moldy dank darkness and grues. Sean is understandably reluctant to venture there, but will if he has to.

“But Fee,” you are thinking. “Don’t you rent?”

Yes, yes we do. However the plumbing caused our landlord so damn much expense in November that we are loath to bother him. In the past we have had furnace repairmen out, they have tinkered with the contraption, gotten it to work, and left. Then three days later we have a warm spell of 40s and it doesn’t run for twelve hours… or ever again. Repeat.

We had been pretending that winter didn’t really exist but when the temperature downstairs hit 55F even Sean admitted that it was a bit cold. So this year we gave up on the basement furnace and got two little portable radiators for the downstairs. It’s just the living room that gets really cold; the kitchen cookstove heats the kitchen and dining room nicely.

Anyway, my point is, it is a toasty, reliable, 70 degrees in here now. Aaah.

full day

Whew, long day. Visited by another plumber, Sophia and Josh and their friend Jess. Planned visit from other niece and her kids on Thursday. Fixed turkey enchiladas for dinner, kissed Sean goodbye as he ran out the door to his night class, fed the children who didn’t care for the enchiladas (pbjs). Knit on Abby’s mittens, take 2, as the mitten I completed last night does not fit an actual human (maybe the Librarian) (ook.) Teach me to knit without measuring the recipient.

Jess was just delightful. She listened to Faith and Abby talk about their drawings, played with Gilbert, and admired all the other wee Glees. We hope to see her again, soon!

Now nursing the G-Lo, and this one-handed typing is for the birds. Over and out.

pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake

So we committed to baking vs. prepackaged a while back.

First and foremost it was for money. I won’t lie. All the good stewardship intentions in the world didn’t motivate me like the bottom line of running out of the month’s food budget a week or more before we ran out of month.

A secondary reason, and almost as important, was nutrition. I’m tired of feeding the kids things that are so overprocessed they bear no resemblance to the actual food they came from. And in many cases are no longer really “food” so much as “consumable.”

And a third reason was taste! My God, homemade food is incredible. There is no comparison between the bread we make and the bread we used to buy. The bread we used to buy tastes like cardboard now.

This morning, the first thing I thought when I woke up was, “What am I going to feed the kids?” We didn’t have any bread because I was unable to bake yesterday due to being out of the house unexpectedly. I considered oatmeal with cinammon and brown sugar, then dismissed it because a.) it’s a mess and b.) several kids don’t like it and would whimper about being hungry. Same with scrambled eggs, though only one kid doesn’t like them. That might have been okay but I wasn’t too sure we’d have enough eggs (we routinely eat two dozen at a sitting.)

Instead I made pancakes. Simple, fantastic, phenomenally good pancakes. They’re quick to make, even if you don’t have a griddle.

Plaid Cookbook Pancakes

1 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 beaten egg
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons oil or melted butter

It’ll be lumpy. Stir til just moistened. If you stir it too much they get kinda chewy, like a thick crepe.

You want a nice hot skillet or griddle, no grease. If water sprinkled sizzles instantly, it’s hot enough. Spoon it out, turn when you see bubbles.

That doesn’t make many. I made twice that and it made enough to feed six children; Sean and I went hungry. Next time I’ll make triple (or even quadruple, if I own a nice flat griddle by then.)

So thanks to our paradigm shift of make your own we’re now making pancakes whenever we like, instead of only on birthdays. Before this I would have lazed out and given them all Pop Tarts or cold cereal.

This is better.

Post stubs

I just switched to post stubs instead of full posts in the RSS feed. That means if you subscribe in a reader you won’t get a full post – you have to click through and read it here. I hope that lets me have a better idea of how many people are reading me, since it will tick every visit. Of course, I may lose some folks who dont want to click through. I guess I can’t win.

I also switched because I don’t like RSS content being out of my control. Once it gets captured I can’t necessarilly edit it if it’s off the blog host.

If none of that made any sense to you don’t worry, just keep reading me, please.


I was on Facebook earlier (I know, shocker) and my friend Jeni posted a link to make your own rice milk. Now, I don’t drink rice milk, I drink cow’s milk, but I have more than a few friends who are allergic to cow’s milk or have children who are allergic so I clicked through and read it.

It went on for quite a while, explaining the link between Monsanto and, well, pretty much anything agricultural, but then diverged a bit into sustainability and introduced me to a new word.


More than this, a move away from Rice Dream rice milk would be in alignment with our family’s goals to become ever more skilled at self-sufficiency. We are working to reskill ourselves (emphasis added) so that we are capable of producing as much of what we need as possible, as our incredibly skilled ancestors did. Reskilling yourself could involve learning to cook, sew, farm, weave, make baskets, do carpentry, preserve foods or even build your own house.

So that’s the word of the day.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

We put up our tree. My favorite thing about artificial trees is being able to put them up so early. We got a new tree this year, easily three times the size of our old tabletop tree. The kids are super excited and festooning it with various “ornaments” (mostly Fisher Price Little People.) Later on we’re going to make some more traditional ones.

I hear, right now, Abby, Gil, Trixie and Gloria singing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” in “Oo oo oo” a la Charlie Brown credits. Aww.

Then Faith, saying in true oldest sister fashion, “You guys sound like dogs howling.”

I snorted (good thing I’m in the other room) and then chided “No they don’t! They sound just lovely.”

Happy Advent, at any rate.

still full

Thanksgiving was delicious. Sean cooked his signature pancetta-wrapped turkey, I made many side dishes, and my parents brought even more. We all ate until we could hardly breathe.

Today is Buy Nothing Day, which I think is Dumb, but we will be participating in body if not in spirit. Maybe I just Don’t Get It.

I’m probably just grouchy because the !@#$%^ toilet is busted. Again. Did I mention !@#$%^?

off the grid

NaBloPoMo be hanged, I’m going offline til after Thanksgiving. I’ll be checking my mail if anyone needs me for anything, but only once at night.

I really enjoyed less computer time over the weekend. I may be hermit-ing soon in terms of “social networks.” I get easily sucked in to Facebook, among others, and it’s much easier to avoid completely than regulate.

If you need me, I’m here! Expect more blogging, I think.

hey, i’m back

Took a break over the weekend. I forgot to post on Saturday and only remembered to post on Sunday at about 11:52. So.

I have finished Trixie’s grey sweater. It has secret purple armscyes! She likes it very much. I realize how useless this is without pics.

Today I made three loaves of bread and a bunch of fried chicken. MMM FRIED CHICKEN. One of the loaves is raisin cinammon brown sugar bread, made like a giant cinnamon roll. It will be consumed for breakfast tomorrow in the blink of an eye, I’m sure.

I am feeling nibbled to death by ducks in terms of feeding my children. I feel like I am constantly fixing food or drink for them. I am damn sick and tired of it and rather than continue to be resentful and angry at all of them for, God forbid, asking their MOTHER for FOOD, THE NERVE, I am going to have clear kitchen open and kitchen closed times, with water always available of course. We’ll see how that works. I expect Gilbert will flip out because he is very into Inflexibly Controlling All Situations right now. I hope the transition period is as smooth as possible. Wish me luck!


I’m doing Christmas pre-shopping, deciding what I want to get for each child. It’s so difficult! Trixie will be getting a new toy barn, Gloria a very paticular toy cat with a handknitted sweater (by both myself and Faith), Abby a series of books called Dear Dumb Diary aaaaand… that’s it so far. This is one of the most fun and most agonizing times of year to have six children!

So dear reader, what are you giving to the children in your life for Decemberween?


Today was very long, and busy, but I can’t really remember it. We enjoyed the lovely weather outside, and drew pictures, and baked brownies, and did many things. I washed dishes at least three times, because we ate three meals and we have no dishwasher. I did laundry. I changed diapers. I discussed Matters of Import with various family members. I talked on the phone and was visited by a friend. I made enchiladas for dinner and they were awesome.

I’m tired and three of the kids are still awake. Dang.

Oh, I watched Waters of Mars. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but it was really, really top-notch. David Tennant’s acting was the best I’ve ever seen. Bring on The End of Time! (only don’t, because [sob] I don’t want to say goodbye to Ten.)

know your market

Some LDS missionary boys came to visit today. They’re so cute. It kills me that they’re “Elder” when I’m twice their age. One was Elder Bill and the other was Elder L-something-Venezuelan. They were pleased with my large brood and the fact that we homeschool, and no doubt disappointed that we’re staunchly RC.

Bede was very interested in them because they offered him a book and some prayer cards but mostly because they had nametags. “ELDER BILL ON YOUR BLACK PIN!!!!” he noted, and then in a delighted undertone, “Helvetica. Mmmhnnmm!”

That’s my boy.


Just a dull litany for tonight. I baked bread today and made a huge pot o chili. I slept very poorly due to 1. Trixie, who woke about every hour for unknown reasons; 2. Gilbert awakening once and needing my assistance; and 3. Gloria waking twice. I don’t think I got an uninterrupted hour of sleep all night, so I was very spacey today.

See you tomorrow (yawn.)

ETA: And Bede, Bede woke me up too. Frack.

we sure eat a lot of wheat

Today we baked cookies. Many, many cookies. We’re trying to get away from buying baked goods around here. So far we’ve eliminated storebought bread and my nemesis, Pop Tarts. Up next is cookies, then crackery snacks.

Making 100 cookies with two spoons to scoop up and drop them is a real pain in the neck. I want a cookie scoop like this one. I’d love all three sizes but the middle-size one will suffice.

It’s crazy how much flour we go through with this though. When we first started about a month ago I thought that bulk flour was a bad idea for us. “How could we use fifty pounds of flour before it went bad?” I wondered. Well. Very easily, as it turns out. We use five pounds in a week on bread alone, and we aren’t up to full baking capacity yet. (We eat a loaf to a loaf and a half of bread a day on average.) By the time I’m doing all the baking it will be between seven and ten pounds a week, I’m thinking.

I have two choices: organic or local. Well, I guess I have three – also nonlocal nonorganic, but that’s not in the running. I’m leaning towards local. I’m going to call them tomorrow and get prices for their bulk flour.

a good day

Today was so nice. Our dear friends came for a visit and seeing the smiles on their faces as they ran up our sidewalk was fantastic. The kids all played and talked and Renee and I got to talk. Renee is one of those friends who really hears what you are saying. When I talk to her I feel like I have all of her attention, that she is listening to me and extrapolating meaning from my words. Not one of those people who is just waiting to talk! Tabitha you’re like that too 🙂

Then we all had lunch, turned the kids (all eight of them!) to the backyard and Renee and I made challah. Which is baking now. Mmm.

Bede was attentive and fairly calm today. It was a relief for all!

go with the flow in more ways than one

The plumbing issue continues to plague us; we have misaligned pipes. With a little lip of pipe for things to catch upon it’s no wonder we keep having trouble. I think we’re going to see about buying our own power auger.

Sean had a second interview today at the same joint he was at earlier. The intervening days have given me time to get used to the idea and I’m now 90% excited and 10% anxious, and officially hoping he gets the job. I reckon we’ll find out next week. He said the interview went well.

Tonight we had a simple potato soup and homemade bread. One of those delightful plain meals that get overlooked for more sophisticated fare. Potatoes, onions, milk, butter, salt. Honestly, what’s not to love? I made enough to feed our army with a bit left over and then some – I had planned to feed my niece and her boyfriend as well as the Gleesons, and he was unable to make it. So there’s enough for lunch tomorrow as well! Yum. It’s especially good with grated cheddar in it.

Bede had another rough day. He seems to be ‘stuck’ more than he has been in the recent past, and gets more and more agitated as the perseveration goes on. I find that it’s very difficult to break him out of it once he gets started, and even if I do he’ll return to it later with renewed insistence and frustration. Whenever possible we have been trying to avoid situations where we have to bluntly say “no” and instead we are smoothing the way beforehand – keeping things he will become agitated about out of sight, attempting to compromise in the early stages of a ‘moment’ and so forth.

I am not unconditionally saying okaysure! i getchoo whatever it is you want! because I don’t like the precedent it sets in his mind: if I am insistent enough, loud enough, physical enough, I will get what I want. Sometimes there are just “no” moments: you cannot sit on your siblings or assault their persons; you cannot eat food, chew it to a pulp and spit it on the stairs; you cannot do many things. And so on. So when they occur I try to Just Be with him, consistent and kind and empathetic.

The hardest part about these times, beyond the episodes themselves, is the uncertainty of the peace when everything is calm. Knowing that the calm can be shattered any moment by an upset seventy pound autistic boy is more than a little nervewracking. I am on edge and jumpy, which makes things even more tense, and Bede more likely to react in kind.

All the more reason to keep the peaceful, easy feelings in the fore…

no time

This post-every-day-for-a-month thing has made certain that I don’t have time to blog. Just typing that sentence I heard Trixie and Gloria scream at each other and had to go sort it out. Twice.

I have to choose each night between solitude and sleep. Even if I do choose solitude I’m in no shape to blog; I write things like “Home day kids played me go sleep now” and even more incoherency.

Not that I’m better than that now, either.

The toilet was faking and was actually still broken. It was fixed, briefly, this afternoon but is broken again now. It’s usable but really slow, and the guys who temporarily fixed it today are coming back to try to fix it better tomorrow.

Bede has been having a really tough time lately, for reasons unknown to me. He’s been sensory seeking and very easily upset. In the past, these times have presaged periods of intense developmental growth for him so I think that might be what is happening now. In any event it’s difficult for all of us but especially Bede. I hope it passes.

Faith is really enjoying the Warriors books. They’re full of war and angst and love – with cats. Like Watership Down. Abby spends most of her time drawing and making things out of cut paper. Gilbert is growing up but still has many little boy traits. He wants to play sports. Trixie and Gloria are delightfully themselves.

That’s all now.


Today the bathroom pipe was clogged in such a way that the entire system was backed up: sink, tub, and most importantly, toilet. We have one bathroom for eight people,  so it’s more than just an inconvenience. Sean fixed it.

Sean also had a job interview today, wow! I am simultaneously excited and filled with dread at the idea of Sean working fulltime outside the house. On the one hand: money. On the other hand: no husband. Bede, Gilbert, Trixie and Gloria have never had a daddy who leaves every day. But interviews aren’t job offers, so I’m trying not to be anxious. Much.

Oh would you look at that, the pizza is ready.

Hi, how are you doing today?

Today I left the house with no children!

I’ll just let that sink in a bit.

My mother and I went to the fabric store, the drugstore and the thrift store. We emerged with fabric for Christmas presents, some toys, and winter pants for Gilbert and Bede.

I was universally assumed to be a store employee everywhere we went. I like to think it was the air of calm I have in situations where I dont have six children clamoring about my feet. Anything is easy when you’re a Mother Alone; all the effort I usually expend in keeping my ducks in a row was just there for the taking. But… it was mostly due to my attire, no doubt: blue dress shirt, tan cords and Chucks. Instant non-personhood. Thanks for calling B. Dalton Booksellers, this is Phoebe.

Have you ever answered the phone at home like the one at work? Heh.

Vaccination plans

No, not pig flu. Very unlikely to get that one. The other lot.

We selectively vaccinate on a very delayed schedule. We don’t start til seven at the earliest, for one thing, and we don’t get any that the kids could just as easily decide to get for themselves later. That gives us DTaP, inactivated polio, MMR, and varicella. I’m really hesitant to get the MMR vaccine (specifically the rubella component) and the varicella vaccine because both are human fetal cell vaccines, so I’ll keep waiting on those, but I need to get the other two for the >7 Glees.

Finding a doctor in the Oklahoma City metro who

a.) takes our poor people insurance and
b.) is accepting new patients and
c.) won’t harrass me for our vaccine choices

is turnng out to be damn near impossible. We have been going to the family practice we were defaulted to when our old doc closed shop a few years ago and we have never seen the same doctor twice. It’s the training clinic for the Resident-O-Matic of Saint Anthony’s Hospital here and the physicians are uniformly young, pleasant, and, well, inexperienced, I guess is a nice way to put it. And I don’t mind that, honestly, but between that and never getting to establish a history with the same doctor I’m tired of it and I want to go somewhere else. Which is turning out to be difficult, QED.

More phone calls tomorrow, I expect.

representing my day

Gloria gives it her all.


Bede threw scores of leaves and called them flying birds.


Gilbert steps up on the logs. Best play structures ever.


Gloria hopes for a pull. She sat there optimistically for a good five minutes…


…and Faith obliged her.


Abby and Faith also looked for a dirt fairy, in the style of Five Children and It.


Trixie was delighted by everything.


Gilbert was too. He saw a rainbow!


Sometimes it’s all so beautiful I have to close my eyes.


I’m Phoebe Gleeson, and this is my perfect life.


NaBloPoMo is November

I did it one year and really liked it. I’m doin it again. I’m tired of fast food Facebook. It tastes great, satisfies momentarily, and leaves you wanting more vapid, empty knowledge. I’ll still be checking it, but I’m going to try to blog more meaningfully here instead of just posting a status update on Facebook.

So. National Blog Post Month. I’ll be posting every day in November.

Who’s with me?

Hello, hello

I was wondering, if you don’t mind, could you leave a comment? No content necessary – a simple “yo” will suffice. I’m curious how many people read me from a feed reader, or from the Livejournal feed.

I know it’s a pain in the neck. Pretty please? No pressure to be either witty or relevant, just say “hey”.