Voices carry


Here’s the song reference.

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The threat of thunderstorms led us to seek mostly indoor pursuits yesterday; the mosquito swarm that infested our back yard for most of yesterday, unfortunately, kept the tribe from venturing out-of-doors to play chase-the-puppy with Smudgie, which is my usual go-to activity when they need to burn off some energy, and, you know, be little noisy kids for a while.  Insect repellent is wonderful, but when the bugs are in such an enormous cluster that you can observe it changing shapes like clouds in the sky, the wiser course of action is to simply avoid the area.

After a relatively uneventful morning studying reading, math, and Latin (incidentally, if you’re looking to work on Latin with littles, I highly recommend Prima Latina), we headed off to the library, just to have a reason to get out of the house for a while without going shopping.  Our library has a wonderful, enclosed area for the very youngest patrons, which bears the charming name of “Preschool Reading Room.”  It is full of giant magnetic letters, huge foam building blocks, a big, sturdy dollhouse, a wall-sized felt playboard, and a small basket of board books.  Mr. Man and Baby Guy think it’s the berries, and Bugaboo and Beanie are not averse to passing a pleasant hour there, either.

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After that hour, the boys were tired and everyone was hungry, so we headed for home and lunch, after which I attempted to put four yawning, stretching children down in their cozy little beds for naps.  There is something about the sight of a bed at naptime which re-energizes all of our children.  Thankfully, Bugaboo and Beanie have learned to channel this second wind into quiet reading time, particularly when the library bag is full of previously unexplored literary goodness.  Mr. Man and Baby Guy, however, tend to use the post-lunch burst to have spectacular fights that involve throwing Mega Bloks at each other and at random points on their walls and door.   These battles are generally accompanied by shrieks of either delight or pain, depending on whether the block being hurled connects with the house or the other brother.  We’ve seriously considered removing the blocks from their room, but when the boys are not using them as missiles, it’s fairly common for Mr. Man to quietly build tower cities while Baby Guy slumbers.

After several reminders to the male half of the tribe that, even with their door closed, the sounds of war were still clearly audible throughout the house, including their sisters (who were, in fact, trying to nap), the noise level finally decreased to a point where it seemed possible that I might be able to recline on the couch and close my own eyes for a few minutes.  It was at that moment that Beanie, who when I had peeked in on her just before retrieving my pillow, had been curled up in a sweetly somnolent ball amongst her stuffed animals, decided to start playing with her alarm clock.  She has an old-fashioned double bell alarm clock of the Hello Kitty variety, and the noise it makes is enough to rouse a comatose elephant.  It’s a wonderful thing in the mornings when two little girls need to get up and moving, but not so much at two o’clock in the afternoon when everyone, including poor Smudgie, is just drifting off for a much-needed nap.

It took a few minutes to calm the startled boys, who finally decided to settle down and sleep, and then the girls came out of their room to see what might await in the afternoon.  We did a little more work on our food pyramid unit; just as I was explaining how to use the dictionary to look up definitions of words, Smudgie developed an urgent need to go outside (mosquitoes or no, a 125 pound dog’s gotta do what a 125 pound dog’s gotta do).  Leaving the girls with a few last words of guidance, a dictionary, and a vocabulary list, I took off down the stairs after Captain Enormous.

I had no sooner opened the back door than the shrieking started from the kitchen, accompanied by the unmistakable sound of the kitchen table being stabbed and drummed upon by pencils in the hands of suddenly insane girls.  The combination of the mosquito swarm and my proximity to the boys’ room meant that I could not leave the door open to run upstairs and remonstrate with them, nor could I holler up at the kitchen window to advise them that their activities were clearly audible to their hearing-impaired mother.  Luckily, Smudgie’s not a mosquito maven, so he finished his business quickly, and we zipped back upstairs together.

Bugaboo and Beanie had the grace to look guilty as soon as they saw my face crest the top step.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for active little blessings who exult in making joyful noises of various kinds.  Please help me teach them that there can be equal joy in moments of silence, and that when our joyful noise-making interferes with our neighbors so that what they hear is an obnoxious racket, we must, in love, lower the volume.  Please grant us the grace of hearts that are grateful for the many tools You have provided, from the power of speech, to the ability to read and write, to nimble hands, and help us offer all those daily tasks and celebrations to You.  Please keep me mindful that my every thought, word, and deed is an offering to You, and let me show Your blessings, by my example, that we do all things with all the love and skill You have granted us.  Help me teach in love instead of complaining in wrath.

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