Friday, February 28, 2014

7 QTs day of 7 posts in 7 days

1. I'm getting a little click happy with all of the Lenten ideas floating around the webs (and I recommend that you click on the ones I shared yesterday if you haven't already), but this post is probably my favorite because it's all about being kind to yourself and doing less. (Remember less is my theme for the year.)  Plus this lady has an amazing story, an amazing blog, and a book coming out very soon.  Check her out!!

2. Still talking Lent, but I'm going to call this one #2.  I feel a little "cheat-ish" when I say that one of the things that I'm doing for Lent is only drinking water and tea, like if I were really holy, I'd only drink water.  On the other hand when I'm being gentle with myself and point out that I won't be drinking soda, hot chocolate or coffee drinks it seems like a bigger deal.  Also I'm now thinking I may drink wine.  I really hardly ever drink wine, but if the opportunity comes I need to leave my options open.

3.  I've not said too much on here about Mary our exchange student.  ( I generally save that for friendly group texts :) )  It has been an interesting experience to say the least.  She has some spring break plans that are way above her age and maturity level.  I'm not going to share the specifics on here in case any "bad guys" are reading today, but let's just say she is doing something my pretty independent almost 16 and 18 year olds would not dream of.  On the other hand I'm picking her up from school early today because she is not feeling well.  She has told me before that she has a "poor constitution", and I have come to her rescue in this department on numerous occasions, but somehow her 14 year old mind thinks that she will be ready to be an adult for spring break.  Her parents have given her full permission for this adventure, so don't think I'm doing something wrong or anything.

4. I just went to pick up Mary and now I'm back.

5. #4 was lame I know!

6.  I think I'm going to get my haircut soon.  Like maybe in an hour.  I've been tossing this idea around for a while, but I just made the official decision, one minute ago.

7. My car battery died on Wednesday.  It's a long drawn out story, but the short version is that we almost had to get the car towed yesterday morning, but the AAA guy was able to start it and in the end we only needed a battery.  Our pilot is new enough to have all kinds of fancy features and old enough to not function terribly easily, so with a new battery we needed a new code for the GPS and a different code for the radio.  Well the GPS one was found quickly and that was fine.  We were radio less for about 24 hours (only about 15 minutes of which I was actually in the car), and I'm mildly addicted to both the 80s station and The Catholic Channel, so it was a tough 24 hours (15 minutes).  I found the code today, and you'll be happy to know we're back in business.  I got it working just in time to hear a song I had completely forgotten about.  In case you were wondering it was on the 80s station not the Catholic Channel.  I'm not sure if Cindy is still reading blogs, but she's very likely the only person who will remember this song.  Don't you just love you tube for things like this??  I am listening to this song while I finish this.  And now the song is done and so am I.

See you tomorrow with short hair!

In the meantime go read more quick takes.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Mike's bday and Lent ideas

After three days, my husband has once again caught up to me...Happy 44th birthday Mike!!

Due to car issues, he is working from home today, so I'm going to spend as much time as possible with the birthday boy.

If you are looking for more to read, here are some links for some great Lent ideas.  I for one will be referring to these a lot in the next week.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Rainy day otherwise known as day 3

Well here we are again.  The quality of my posts (if there is any quality to speak of) is going to be drastically diluted if I keep this daily thing up much longer.  It is currently pouring outside, and I'd like nothing better than to crawl under a blanket with my book, but Jake has to be at church in a little while to practice/learn a song for a music ministry event, so the ten minutes I have before we leave just might be the right amount of time to knock out today's post.  I had a thought yesterday.  It's a well known fact that #1 I spend too much time reading blogs written by toddler moms, and #2 there are challenges for blogging moms of teenagers that just aren't there for moms of toddlers.  This lead me to the conclusion that I'm kind of blogging in the rear view mirror these days.  Yes I keep this blog fairly updated on the latest news in our family (Did I tell you Jonathan got accepted to UCF? ;) ), but I try to leave out most of the funny, annoying quirks that my teenagers (and preteen) have that are fair game when those same quirks belong to toddlers.  So since my kids' dirty laundry will be remaining right on the floor where they leave it instead of publicly aired here, maybe I should take this opportunity to share things of the past.  I mean the pre-blog, pre-2007 past.  The clock is ticking on my time limit here, so today will not necessarily be the day to start sharing things from the past, it's just the day that I say, hey maybe this is what I'll do next, or someday, or never.  Incidentally the year 2007 gives me a stomach ache even when I see it in print.  That was the year that Mike almost died.  If you don't know the story go to the beginning of this blog and you can find it pretty quickly.  All of the other near death health traumas we've had in this family are associated with one specific date (like May 17, 1998 when Jonathan had a grand mal seizure) or just in general terms like (Jonathan had a stroke when he was 3 days old) or Madi had ITP when she was 5 (actually it was right before she turned 5), but the whole Mike/pancreatitis thing was so bad it has a whole year associated with it. 

Well my 10 minutes is more than up.  Time to go out in the rain...

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Day 2 of 7

I just spent a little while (maybe far too long) reading blog posts trying to get inspired.  I'm sure I will not accomplish this seven posts in seven days thing, but I'm certainly not about to give up on day two.

I started my day at breakfast with two of my four readers (thanks Ladies!) so anything I might've had to say, I probably already said.

Although some of it bears repeating... parenting teens is hard work!

On the other hand, I came home from breakfast (after a nice walk in a beautiful downtown because the weather was just too perfect not to walk around a little) to my teenagers who I kinda enjoy.  Yes, it is hard and like so many things I feel like I'm pretty "middle of the road" in my parenting philosophy, and like so many things sometimes I think the middle of the road is the hardest place to be.  Where is too much freedom?  Where is too little?  When they do so much to help others outside of the home (for pay and not for pay) is it ok that there is a ridiculous pile of shoes right here in the middle of the kitchen that no one seems to see besides me?   Should I expect more from them?  (maybe)  Should I nag less?  (absolutely)  Would they even listen if I didn't nag?  And on and on and on...

But today when I got home we had an enjoyable and educational conversation.  Conversations have been the backbone of our homeschooling since the beginning.  We're not always in the same place at the same time anymore.  Today for a little while my two teenagers and I were.  Jonathan and I were discussing his Economics class, his last "homeschool high school class".  Something about it reminded me of something that I saw on facebook last night.  A mom was questioning something that was in a child's textbook.  It was not anything "bad" like all of these common core things that people are up in arms about that I am sure are fake.  I'm pretty confident there is not pornography in a 4th grade textbook anywhere in America, we've gone too far as a society, but I have to live my life believing we haven't gone that far yet.  Anyway this particular post was nothing like that, it was just something that this mom didn't think seemed educational enough to warrant an appearance in an elementary school textbook.  Madi was eager to take a break from her Geometry and jumped into the discussion.  As conversation has always been our most important mode of education, I tend to think that things that don't seem educational to some, can be used very educationally.  I feel like most of what I'm trying to say, I've said before, but there is just a basic understanding of the world and our role in it, that colors the way I teach my kids.  I personally have a sort of 20th century timeline in my head which has personal family things interspersed with actual "History", so that when I think of the end of WWII and the atomic bomb, I also picture my Memere, pregnant with my father, traveling across the country to have her baby.  I picture my mother's childhood easily in Mugga and Papa's same kitchen and "parlor" that I knew from my own childhood and even Jonathan and Madi remember it.  It was the same kitchen and "parlor" (pronounced pahlah, and it was really called that, not living room or family room, and no they weren't fancy).  When I picture my mother's childhood though, it is in black and white, very leave it to beaveresque.  I'm pretty sure Madi sort of pictures my childhood with a little bit of Family Ties mixed in.  Madi doesn't have the benefit of knowing the houses that I grew up in, but the Keatons had the same pfaltzgraff dishes as us and I definitely wore those awful 80s sweaters.  Anyway knowing that Mugga was born during WWI and that Grampa Carlie was born just after WWII, makes history real.  It does for me, and it does for my kids.  History is not just a bunch of memorized and forgotten dates, it is real lives of real people.  The ones that the history books remember and the ones that we'll never forget.  With this parenting/teaching/living philosophy in mind perhaps seemingly unnecessary facts fit together to lay out a kind of understanding or society past and present.  Does it matter what kind of dishes I had growing up?  Maybe so.  Maybe that wouldn't be considered educational, but they are certainly dated and that pattern (did you look at it?) is as much 80s as Duran Duran and Ronald Reagan.  Not necessarily as important, but they set the stage the same way that the yellow unbreakable comb in your back pocket was there to comb your feathered hair.  Madi thinks I have the same hands as Molly Ringwald (she tweeted that recently).  I guess they're 80s hands.  I think I often picture my mother as a teenager in the same black and white dresses that Betty from Father Knows Best wore.  If pop culture helps you to fill in the blanks on real life history, then that's pretty educational to me.  A big mall with amusement park rides in Minnesota might not seem very important to school children in Florida, but malls represent a changing of society.  In my parents teenage years in small town Connecticut the main street stores were open until 8 on Thursday nights (they closed at 5 every other night...and of course were closed on Sundays).  That was when and where everyone did there shopping. That was the same way Beaver and Wally bought their new suits. By my teenage years people went to the mall to do their shopping and malls were open until 9 every night except Sunday.  Mallory would shop for her prom dress at the mall.  Now malls might be on the way out.  We currently have a Chinese teenager living in our house who has turned a bare room into a typical teenage looking room (or maybe not typical, but that's a post for another time), with the internet, a debit card, and piles of her parents' money without even leaving said bedroom.  That is culture (in a loose sense), that is current events, that is modern history.  It is all educational, and nothing is off limits when it comes to educating my kids.

Monday, February 24, 2014

I'm 44 today so I'm allowed to be crazy

I am foolishly thinking that I might be able to join Jen and 200plus other real bloggers for this seven posts in seven days thing.

Maybe I won't make it, but that doesn't seem like a good enough reason to not try.  I haven't gotten past last February in the month at a glance posts from last year and we're almost out of this February.  Maybe I'll use these 7 days to catch up on some of that.  Or maybe I'll fail at both this and that, we'll see...

It's my birthday today.  I am older than most (maybe all) of the 200plus bloggers doing this thing.  That's pretty crazy huh?

I really love facebook on my birthday.  I'm sticking fairly close to the computer so I can check birthday messages.  I think there's a word for that kind of behavior and it's probably not used as a compliment, but it's my birthday and I'll indulge in this kind of self involvement if I want to.

We spent almost all of Saturday cooking and setting up for, serving at, and cleaning up for our youth group's annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser.  I was going to go into all of the details this entailed, but then it would seem like indulging in even more self involvement, so consider your self spared.  I'm still throwing this much in to show that I don't always just sit around in my jammies eating junkfood and "playing" on the computer.

Singing birds are making a (nice) racket outside my open window right now.  When we first moved into this house in 2005, the neighborhood had been clear cut to build these cheaply made, but spacious houses like the one we live in.  Then each yard was given two tiny live oak trees.  We went years with almost no birds.  Then the mockingbirds came.  Little by little the trees grew and more birds joined the neighborhood.  Now it's a regular aviary.  I love it!

I'm currently drinking iced earl grey tea that tastes a little bit like cologne.  I kind of like it though.

I can't decide it I want to continue being nonproductive all day or if  I will clean the house, or move the pile of dirt that has been in our driveway for weeks (long story... it has to do with a garden and new sod and lots of work) or some combination of the above.  I'm sure it'll be a combination, but you'll have to tune in tomorrow to find out.

Friday, February 21, 2014

7 QTs

1. I'm have a really slow motion kind of day.  You might even say week (or month or year).  I am currently lounged on the love seat where two different people who don't live in this house have come to the front door and seen me lazing here like a slug.  Oh well, I educated a kid enough to get into college, I'm taking a day (or 20) off.

2. My last post has drawn no comments (what else is new?), but two people have told me it made them cry.  My response, "I pretty much cry everyday these days, so I figured I'd let a few other people in on the fun."

3. I'm not actually sad when I'm crying (usually), it's just a combination of pride, love, awe, and exhaustion.

4.  My "Mugga" would have been 97 today.  I made heath/ butterscotch cookie bars in her memory.  Papa's birthday would have been last week (he would have been 94), we had kielbasa last night in memory of him.  In our CCD/ religious ed book this week, we read a story about a family that all got together to honor the memory of their late grandfather by cooking lasagna and his special recipe soup.  This was the introduction to the chapter on the last supper and Jesus's instituting the Eucharist. 

5. I finished a really good children's book today.  It is one of the Sunshine State recommendations that Jake plans to read, but he hasn't gotten to it yet.  Generally I'm not sure that the Sunshine State books are all that they are cracked up to be, but this one was really great.  It is called Glory Be and is about a little girl growing up in small town Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement.  I highly recommend it for you and your kids.

6. I think I might be running out of things to say. 

7. Yup, I've definitely run out...

To read more quick takes from people who actually have something to say go here.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A Letter

Dear Mom in Cracker Barrel this morning,

As I looked past the man who was sitting across from me, I saw you walk in with your bowl-cut little boy, he was probably three.  In your arms was the hard to manage carseat carrier, with a sleeping dark haired baby girl in it.  Just yesterday the man I was sitting with, was that bowl-cut little boy.  Just yesterday my beautiful daughter, who wasn't with me, but instead doing schoolwork with a friend at Starbucks, was the sleeping baby.  JUST YESTERDAY!!  I pointed you out to Jonathan.  I watched you while Jonathan received a phone call from the theatre nine minutes after the theatre opened, the older woman who has worked at the theatre for  40 years, needed his help with something.  Little Madi slept the whole time I watched you.  Little Jonathan drank his chocolate milk and was very well behaved.  I joked to Jonathan that I was going to be one of those old ladies who went up to them to tell the mom time flies so quickly and to enjoy every moment, but I saved us all the embarrassment.  I would've been embarrassed because I surely would have burst out crying if I attempted to say that.  Instead I decided to come home to my empty house and type this where I can cry as much as I want and no one has to be embarrassed.  I know that no mom wants to be told to enjoy every moment because it is completely unrealistic, no mom enjoys every moment.  The part about time flying really is true though.  It does really seem like those days were just yesterday.  Today, however, Jonathan and I met at Cracker Barrel for a late breakfast because we could.  Because he had time between his college classes,  Madi was doing who own thing, and Jake who wasn't even born just yesterday, was at school.  I have lots of down times these days.  They are usually flanked by crazy busy times, but they are down times that I didn't have just yesterday.  Jonathan and I discussed possible work opportunities for him at Disney, we discussed the research we each have to do regarding his schooling for summer and fall, we discussed his last assignment for his last virtual school class that he WILL BE FINISHING TODAY.  We discussed the adult life that he already has.  And we threw in a few Seinfeld references of course.  I choked back tears as Jonathan drove away, sometimes I really miss yesterday.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Social Media, the good, the bad, and the extremely difficult

A few minutes ago I scrolled through the Instagram pictures of a local middle school boy who was airlifted to an Ohio burn center this weekend after a freak bonfire incident.  Earlier this morning I watched a short facebook video update on a six (seven?) year old boy with leukemia.  Saturday evening I spent an hour reading 3 years worth of facebook posts from a woman who passed away on Valentine's day after a short illness.  The woman was the youngest person to attend our wedding to have died.  In all of these cases I don't really "know" the person, but I know and love people who know and love them.  I recently had a conversation about how the human psychy (not sure how to spell that) was not made for today's social media, as in it is hard to digest the amount of information we can get bombarded with.  I am still a proponent of social media when used properly.  For one thing I think it is a fantastic way to evangelize (Pope Francis thinks that too, I follow him on twitter).  Prayer requests can be sent and in minutes people from all over the world can be praying for your intention.  It's kind of like the communion of saints right here on earth.  I was thinking about these three people who I've been praying for and realized a couple things.  One is because I know people who know these people (friends of friends, but in the real life sense), I would know about all of these events even without social media.  Not necessarily as quickly or as much, but I surely would have heard about them.  I think the thing that is really hard for the mind to fathom is the fact that I can look at  posts and pictures that the very people who are now in heaven or in a burn center in Ohio posted just days or weeks ago not knowing their fate.  This is the kind of thing that gets me shaking as I type this and will bring tears right to the surface so at a moment's notice I might freak out crying on my family.  (I did it often this weekend!)  It's hard to love.  The more people you love the more you open up for hurt.  It's hard sometimes to know about the difficulties people have to face, but knowing about them gives you a chance to pray for them.  Knowing that a sweet little girl who's had multiple brain surgeries and has been seizure free for a year means so much more when you've followed the family's difficult journey through social media and joined them and thousands of others in prayer.  Social media also allowed me to see pictures of beautiful twin babies just minutes after their birth.  I've never met the babies' parents, but I've prayed for them and their marriage and prayed for the little girl when there was a possibility of a health issue.  if I didn't know those possible complications (the bad), I wouldn't as much appreciate the good.  We are called to be a light.  Sometimes that might be sharing the fact that your 18 year old son (who's had his own health issues pre-social media) got accepted into college such that 105 people can "like" it.  Maybe that was the best social media news they've heard all day.   Or maybe sometimes we can be a light by posting something "lite", like the fact that we laid sod in our backyard this weekend.  Even amidst all the tragedy you still have to have hope, even if that hope is that maybe this time we'll get something to grow in our back yard.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

My first baby boy... his college acceptance to UCF today.  There is still plenty of discussion and decision making to come because he may very well continue at Lake Sumter next year, but options are good.  Also as a homeschooling mother who's been in uncharted (chartered?) territory for the last 18 years, this is a huge relief. HUGE!! Like really really really HUGE!  PHEW!!

Jonathan very likely has dyslexia.  He has amblyopia and strabismus, had eye surgery at 9 months old, and he only uses one eye at a time.  We've never really looked into getting a diagnosis, and truly never even thought about it until about a year ago.  With homeschooling that involved tons of talking sprinkled with read-alouds and audio books, this wasn't even a thought.  With a 4.0 in all his college classes so far, it still doesn't seem necessary.  Anyway it's still another hurdle for him in addition to the mom in uncharted territory thing.

I'm often doing (or at least thinking of) far too many things at one time.  Sometime in the last few days I heard (it was on TV, but I wasn't looking at it, I was doing something else) a Goodwill Industries commercial about a mother that was so thankful that Goodwill Industries was there to provide a job for her "son who had a stoke at 6 months old."  For some reason it took a while for this commercial to sink in, but... my son had a stoke at 3 days old.  I know the elasticity of the brain rewiring and all that is so much easier the earlier things like that happen, but I really hadn't thought about a lot of this in a while.  I mean I am thankful every single day that my kids are healthy because we have had too many close calls, but I hadn't thought it in the sense that a baby who had a stoke might have a goal of being able to work at Goodwill.  WOW! 

I have many more tangents that I could go off on, but lets just sit with that for a little while, ok?

Friday, February 7, 2014

7 QTs what I'm reading...

1. I think I heard somewhere once that reading more than one book at a time (not the exact same time) is good for your brain.  Just like Sudoku and occasionally brushing my teeth with my wrong hand, I like to do what I can to help my brain.  Sometimes I go overboard.  I am reading enough books right now that I can fill a quick takes post with them.  The first one I mentioned yesterday and it doesn't really count as overboard because it is just a one page a day think, pray, act kind of thing.  Small Steps for Catholic Moms.

2. Numero dos will be done this weekend and is a book that a friend recommended.  Where'd You Go Bernadette.  There's a lot to talk about in this book.  If I were a 'real blogger' in addition to these amazon links, I'd be some kind of an affiliate and get a penny or two if you bought one of these, but I'm not, so I won't.  This means I get nothing if you buy or read any of these.  If you do though, let me know so we can talk about them.

3. Floors.  This is a sunshine state book that I'm reading with Jake.  It's pretty good, and looks like it is/ will be a series.

4.  Is an oldie that I've never read... Screwtape Letters.  I'm not very far along in this, I'm just reading a letter or two every few days.  Next up in this category will be Mere Christianity also by CS Lewis.

5.  By What Authority.  I think I borrowed this one from Kirsten about 5 years ago.  Well I'm almost done with it :) !

6. Lastly another book that is meant to be read a little at a time, I picked this up at the library. 

7. And here's a bonus... two books that I am so looking forward to reading, both come out this spring.  Girl at the End of the World and Something other than God.

More quick takes are in the usual place.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thought for today

I always leave our snowmen decorations up after Christmas.  Snowmen aren't just Christmas, they are winter.  Winter is a tricky subject in Florida, here one day (to the tune of 57* and and gone the next (like yesterday's 84* and sunny).  So while my intention is to leave the snowmen up through Valentine's Day, I usually can't make it.  Today then became the day I shoved all snowmen and any remaining Christmas hand towels, musical peanuts characters, etc into the last Christmas stuff bin.  I even dusted a little and tossed up some generic knick knacks as well as some Valentine paraphernalia (yeah, I wouldn't have spelled that that way either, but I looked it up in ye olde fashioned dictionary) in their place.    I even managed to dust a couple surfaces before I decided to take a break to drink my smoothie (today's is lime yogurt, strawberries, pineapple, frozen mixed berries and a little peach mango juice), and order some wheat berries because we are running low and eating far too much store bread these days.  Well from there I went to a blog and spent way too much time reading about someone else's choices for baby names and far too many of the 145 comments that went with it.  Since over 10 years ago Mike and I made a decision that we would not have made if we could go back and do it all over again, unless there is a baby dropped on our doorstep (which I do sometimes pray for), this time spent reading about baby names is pretty moot and essentially a waste of time.  I started to realize that and opened my Small Steps for Catholic Moms (or if I'm being totally honest, I actually opened to today's page while in the bathroom, but I don't usually blog like that, so disregard).  Today's thought...

 "Take care not to meddle in things which do not concern you, nor even allow them to pass through your mind; for perhaps you will not then be able to fulfill your own task." ~~ St John of the Cross

So now I am closing the computer in hopes of fulfilling my "own task" for today and maybe those snowmen will make it out to the garage, and maybe too it doesn't really concern me and my family what 145 people that I don't know think of baby names. 

All this to say I'm a great rationalizer and lots of time spent reading lots of things on the internet can be considered worthy, but I think God and St John of the Cross just smacked me in the face with a reminder that there are also a lot of things out there that are not necessarily worthy for me