Friday, January 29, 2016

Ten Things of Thankful, Week 137

It's been a good week.

Good thing, 'cause I'm running out the door and I need some quick thankfuls!

1. Bryan and I were able to go out to dinner with friends from our law school days. We haven't seen them in a couple of years, but you'd never know it if you were someone else in the restaurant. We laughed the entire time, which was quite a while. We closed the place.

2. The basketball season is officially over for my boys. While I do enjoy watching them play, I'm enjoying this one week break between basketball ending and soccer practices starting.

3. On Monday I was able to work in Cuckoo's kindergarten room for the first time for their 100th Day activities. His teacher gave me the painting station, seeing as how I was her daughter's preschool teacher and she knew I had experience. It was nice to finally put names to the faces I hear about.

4. On Tuesday I volunteered at St. Elizabeth's as usual, but now I have someone to work with me. She is a new volunteer who recently moved here from Virginia and has a teenage son. We got along very well.

5. After volunteering, Bryan and I had lunch together. It is Devour Downtown this month in Indy, so we tried a new-to-us restaurant called Georgia Reese's. It was some goooood southern comfort food. We certainly devoured our alligator gumbo, shrimp and grits, salad, meatloaf with sides, bread pudding, and peach cobbler. The best peach cobbler.

No really. The Best.

6. Our dog line is finally fixed. It broke a while ago, but nothing could really be done with the yard covered in snow and ice. We had a break in weather, so the guy came out. Unfortunately, it wasn't before the dogs (Roy in particular) managed to get a hold of a few of the chickens. Thankfully, we still have the 15 smartest ones left.

7. I still love my washer and dryer. In completely unrelated instances, two members of my family said something about how my life seems to revolve around laundry. I can't say it isn't true. BUT, at least I can get all of that laundry washed and dried in much less time than I used to. It's the folding that kills me. Every time.

8. I took the time to write TWO posts (besides thankful ones) this week. Remarkable, seeing as how I was out the door early every morning this week.

9. I got to sub in the kids' old preschool (where I used to teach) on Thursday. It's always fun to be in a room with 17 3/4 year olds!

10. I'm off to our last all-weekend volleyball tournament. I'm thankful that Bryan has something he has to stay in town for most weekends, so I get to go to all these tournaments. Watching volleyball is so much fun!

Alrighty, I'm off. I'll be reading all your posts, but commenting might be a problem. Know that I am enjoying my time hopping around the links to see what has made everyone smile this week. Such a mood booster!

Have a lovely day!


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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Hodgepodge Kind of Post


1. Share a winter memory from your childhood.

The backyard of the house in which I grew up, where my dad still lives, backs up to a church parking lot. We got a lot of snow in Canton, OH, and the plowing of the parking lot meant a playground of gigantic snow piles. My siblings, our neighbors, and I dug tunnels and "rooms" throughout them, creating a warm fort inside the snow. We climbed the mountains, hopped across the tops, and slid down the sides into heaps at the bottom. So many hours of my childhood winters were spent on the mountain range surrounding the parking lot.

2. What was on your blog this time last year? 

On this day one year ago, I also did a link-up post. I participated in the Tuesday Ten and wrote about ten things I would rather not live without.

3. Ellen Goodman is quoted as saying, "We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives...not looking for flaws, but for potential."

Do you see more flaws or potential in your life at the start of a new year? Have you done anything specific this month to address either one? Does the new year truly begin for you on January 1, or is there some other month of the year that feels like a fresh start and new beginning?

I don't use a specific date to say, I need to change some things! Whenever I see something I need to work on, I work on it. 

But the image of drawing up a to-do list as I walk through the rooms is actually what I do. The list is in my brain, but it's there. This old house still needs a whole lot of work to be done, and winter is a great time to start tackling the list. Only 3 kids are in sports this time of year, and no one wants to be out in the cold, so stripping wallpaper, painting, and other indoor projects happen. 

4. Who's an athlete you admire or respect and why?

While I don't know any famous athletes personally, so I can't really know their character, it seems that Peyton Manning, the Bronco's quarterback (who used to be the Colt's quarterback), is one stand-up guy. He has had some major health issues (which is why the Colt's cut him, much to our chagrin), but he fought back and has led a team to the Super Bowl yet again. He seems to be a wonderful family man, and he does a lot for sick children and their families.

5. Do you like cream in your coffee? Whipped cream on your pumpkin pie? Cream cheese on your bagel? Sour cream on a baked potato? Cream of wheat for breakfast? Have you ever had a scone with clotted cream? Of all the creamy foods mentioned, which one sounds most appealing to you right this minute?

Hands down, I would choose the scones with clotted cream. I have had that deliciousness exactly one time in my life, and I have craved it ever since. Lizzi made some for me when I stopped in to visit her while I was in England

6. Where were you last kept waiting for 'hours on end'? Or for what felt like hours on end? How well did you cope?

I was at home, waiting for our Christmas tree to be delivered. It was supposed to be within 3 hours of when we bought it, but didn't end up getting here until almost 24 hours after we bought it. I wouldn't have minded terribly if they would have called and told me of the delay, but they didn't. I called them. Two different times. With each call, I got a new time of delivery, and none of them were right. Plans were canceled and errands postponed more than once, and by the end I was just plain ticked. I didn't yell at them, but I won't be buying trees there ever again.

7. Believe it or not, when next week's Hodgepodge rolls around it will be February. Huh?? Bid adieu here to January in seven words or less.

My face hasn't frozen off. Thanks.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Our youngest is on a roll these days, keeping us on our exhausted toes. I shared on the Facebook page the following incident:

Bryan sent the little boys upstairs to start getting ready for bed. A few minutes later...
6 year old: "IT'S OVERFLOWING! HELP! HURRY!"
Bryan, running at full speed out of the kitchen: I'M COMING!
6 year old: HURRY! IT'S OVERFLOWING!!!!
Bryan, halfway up the stairs, realizing the 6 year old wasn't in the bathroom: In your bedroom??
6 year old, grinning: Yes. It's my laundry basket. It's overflowing.
Bryan silently turned on his heel and headed back downstairs

Yesterday, I got an email from a fellow kindergarten parent. It read, in part, 

"I volunteered in class today, and thoroughly enjoyed your son. First of all, he introduced himself as Steve - hilarious!"

Steve. That's not his name, yet it's what he's calling himself. I hear it is the default name on the character in Minecraft. He likes the name. He's writing it on his school papers and everything. I don't mind. It's way better than what he was calling himself last week.

Last week he was Boooooooooooom.

Have a lovely day!

Monday, January 25, 2016

"Psychological Thrillers" Are Now Banned from Our House, or My Kids Are Messing with My Mind Again

HELP! HELP ME! HELP!!!

That is not the scream to which a mother wishes to be awoken.

And yet I was.

At 2:00 am.

In a hotel room in Chicago.

HELP ME!! PHOENIX! HELP!

The child was begging for help from his oldest brother, since that is who he fell asleep next to a mere 2 hours before.

Of course, the older brother didn't wake up. His ears aren't programmed to alert the brain when little boys scream in the middle of the night.

Mine are.

I catapulted myself out of bed and over to theirs.

HELP! HELP ME! HEEEEEELP!

In the pitch-black dark, I searched for my boy.

WHERE ARE YOU?? 

I searched the floor. I searched the bed. He was nowhere, and yet he had to be. I could hear him.

I'M RIGHT HERE!! HELP ME!!

I got down on my hands and knees, frantically patting the floor. 

No boy.

I reached up onto the bed, searching through the blankets.

No boy.

But he had to be there. I could hear him, and he was so close!!

HELP ME! MOM! HELP!

Finally, my hand found something round.

IS THAT YOU??

I quickly ran my hand over the round thing I had touched. It might be...seems to be his head...where's the rest of him???

MOM! HELP!

I groped in the dark and felt something that could have been part of his arm.

Yes! It was him!

My dear little 7 year old had managed to wiggle his way under the blankets all the way to the foot of the bed. He had actually rolled off the end of the bed, but the sheets, so tightly tucked by housekeeping, had caught him. And there he woke, trapped in an unknown, cramped, dark, scary place.

I yanked the blankets off of Phoenix and pulled Turken out. Once free, he simply crawled back to his pillow and promptly fell back to sleep.

I, hopped up on adrenaline, didn't fall back to sleep for another hour.

Of course.

In the morning, I asked the three kids in the hotel with me what they remembered of the middle of the night excitement.

Buttercup: "What are you talking about?"
Phoenix: "Yeah. No. Pretty sure that didn't happen."
Even Turken, the boy whom I had rescued: "Huh? I did what?"
Phoenix: "Mom, you had a dream. None of it happened."
Buttercup: "Ha! You dreamed the entire thing!"
Me: NO! This was no dream!
All three kids: Hahahaha!!! Wait til Dad hears about THIS one!

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. My kids are conspiring to make me look like I'm losing my mind. I don't know what their end game is, but I know there is one. And if I don't step up my own game, perhaps get a dashcam-type thing-a-ma-jig to record my entire life, I don't see this ending well for me.

I swear to you, it happened.

There was no dream.

The kids were so exhausted from the long day of volleyball that they didn't wake up.

I. Saved. Turken.

But I don't have to convince you.

You, my faithful readers, believe me.

Right?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Ten Things of Thankful, Week 136. There's More to Life Than Just Volleyball

A Monday off of school throws me for a loop.

A Monday off of school in which I spend that Monday at volleyball games and driving 4 hours to get home sends my week into a tailspin from which I don't recover until the following weekend.

I even have 3 posts in my head to write, but I didn't have time to write even one. Next week. For sure. Something will be written besides a thankful post.

Until then, The Thankfuls!

1. Phoenix's team played the best they've ever played. They ended the first day of competition undefeated. To put this in perspective, they usually end the first day with zero to one win. The tournament ended with our team taking 3rd in the gold bracket. We could not have been happier for them.

2. We were able to carpool with friends to the tournament in Chicago. Not only did it cut down on cost, it made the long drive enjoyable.

3. We somehow lucked out with the hotel room reservation and got the best view in the building. Top floor, facing the skyline and Lake Michigan. Seeing as how we never stepped foot outside of the hotel/convention center the entire weekend, it was a blessing to have such a view.


4. Buttercup and Turken came to the tournament with us. Yes, they like watching volleyball, but even better is watching volleyball with one of our favorite people in the whole wide world (with whom we vacation every year). Exciting volleyball and fun company makes for a great weekend.

5. Turken's class was in charge of the all-school Mass this week. I never leave an all-school Mass without tears, but when the entire Mass, including scripture reading and psalm singing is done by adorable, squeaky-voiced 7 years olds...have mercy. The preciousness is too much for my eyes to handle.

6. The dresser and TV stand I purchased a few weeks ago were finally, FINALLY, delivered. Sure, I had to get cranky and threaten them with canceling the order and getting my money back, but the furniture is finally here and Turken is happy and there aren't little kids clothes hanging out of a too small dresser and the TV finally has a good resting place.

7. I get a bit sad in January, because all those days of a full mailbox are over. Back to bills and ads and no fun mail. Until today! It was such a wonderful surprise to open the mailbox and find a gigantic envelope. What was it you ask?

Holy horrible photo quality, Batman!
No, it wasn't an obnoxious 6 year old. It was a brand new Graviteer T-shirt (with my name on it!) from Clark. For months a group of us have been weighing ourselves each and every day (except Sunday), taking a photo of the number on the scale, and sent the photo to Clark in an effort to keep ourselves accountable and encourage each other in whatever our weight/fitness goals happen to be. (I am just trying to lose the 10 pounds I gained after my knee injury, 'cause I really don't want to have to buy new pants.) The t-shirt makes us legit. Too legit to quit! (You will be my friend forever if you read that line from the song and mentally did the hand motions that go with it. You will be my best friend if you actually did the hand motions.)

8. We have been praying for all of you who are at this moment being pummeled with snow and/or ice. I don't mean to rub it in, but I am seriously thankful that the line of snow is staying an hour south of us. Nary a flake here at the farm.



9. Everything that needed to get done got done this week, as well as a couple of things that we've wanted to get done but haven't had the time or strong enough of a desire to do until this week. (Haircut for Turken, new running shoes for Star) 

10. While in Chicago, I received a most surprising text from Bryan.



Ah, he makes me laugh. (For a history of Bryan's relationship with shopping and why this text was so surprising, you can read this.)

That's my ten. How about you? What are you thankful for this week?

Have a lovely day!




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Friday, January 15, 2016

Thankful Time! Week 135

Heeeeelloooooooooo Friday!

It has been one whirlwind of a week my friends!

1. Andy Grammer helps me keep my energy level up to get it all done. My new favorite song...



2. Last Sunday winter finally caught up with us. We had some nasty snow and ice. Did I stay home? No way! I made Phoenix get himself behind the wheel for a lesson on driving on slippery, icy roads and what to do when things go wrong. He did very well, so we let him drive to school and activities the next day. He managed to keep himself and his passengers (siblings) safe.

3. The stray cat that showed up over the summer is still here. I figured if he/she didn't run when the winter hit, he/she'd be ours. Guess who's still hanging around. I took the cat to the vet this week, found out he is a boy who is already neutered (Woohoo!), and accepted his award for best cat ever. He didn't even flinch when they manhandled him into a prone position to draw blood and administer shots. From what I hear, this is almost unheard of for a cat.



4. On Thursday, Turken had his First Reconciliation. He was as precious as could be leading up to it. He was a bit nervous about forgetting something, so he wrote down the sins he wanted to confess. (He had the paper in his pocket and actually pulled it out to read in the confessional.) Before heading to church, we had a great big bowl of ice cream at the very appropriate Pinocchio's. (Get it? Pinocchio's nose-growth? 'Cause he lied? Which is a common little kid sin???)



5. I got to cuddle another adorable, tiny baby for a couple of hours this week. She even took a nap on my chest while her mother and I had a great chat. Oh how I love to cuddle a sleeping baby!

6. After a conversation with my mom about how my sister-in-law cooks using a pressure cooker quite often, on a day when I was really rushed to get dinner ready but didn't have any meat thawed, I decided to give it a try. I didn't blow up the house or burn the bottom of the pot too badly and the meet was delicious. I will definitely use it again.

7. Also on Thursday night, Phoenix had a volleyball scrimmage at a facility to which he had never been. He printed directions before leaving, but once in the right area, he could not find the place. He tried to call me, but I was at church with Turken. When I came out 15 minutes later, he still hadn't found it, but he had contacted his coach, who said he was very close. Twenty minutes later, as I was pulling in the driveway, he called again, still unable to find the facility. All I can say is thank God for Google Maps. I was able to pull up the area where he was and see exactly what he was seeing (except he was seeing it at night). I was able to direct him straight to it. (While the directions he had were correct, they (and his coach) failed to mention that it was in the very back of a huge industrial park, about a quarter of a mile from the road.) Poor kid had spent 2 and a quarter hours getting to a place that should have only taken him 45 minutes to reach. His ride home was completely uneventful.

I've been doing a whole lot of praying for that kid this week.

8. I'm going to state right here, (which is probably jinxing myself but I'm doing it anyway) that the teen years are going very well. Before I had teens, I heard the warnings and the grumbles about how hard the teen years are. I believed them, for no other reason than I know what I was like as a teen. I'm happy to say, my teens have been pretty easy on me thus far.

9. I rarely include him on this list, but it's not for lack of appreciation. Bryan should be on this list each and every week. He washes the dishes every night. He holds my hand whenever we actually get to sit next to each other (like at church or kids' games). He does whatever he can to make my life easier. And he makes me laugh each and every day. Many days it's a full on belly laugh that makes my stomach hurt and my eyes cry.

10. Kids are exhausting a lot of the time. Much of the exhaustion comes from the constant noise. So much noise. The singing, the bickering, the questions. Oh the questions. Especially from Cuckoo. That kid never, ever stops talking and asking questions. Sometimes I really want to tune him out, but I know that if I do, I'll miss some gems of observations and twists of thought. For example, today he was asking about a man who was panhandling on the corner. The man had one of his pants legs rolled up to show that he had an artificial leg. Cuckoo saw it, of course, and asked about it.

We had a little discussion about what it was, why he had one, and how it worked. I thought we were done. Moving on to another topic. And then he came out with the reason adults should do their best to never, ever tune kids out.

"How does he attach it to his foot?"

It may be Friday, but the whirlwind will continue. In the morning, I will be heading off with three kids for a 3-day volleyball tournament in Chicago. I'll be doing my best to getting around to all of you who link up with us. Reading about what makes people happy always gives my mood a boost.

Have a lovely day!


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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

You Should Have a Garden if...

Ouiser (as she tosses a bag of tomatoes at Clairee): Tomatoes.
Clairee: Don't give all these to me.
Ouiser: Someone's gotta take 'em. I hate 'em. I try not to eat healthy food if I can possibly help it.
...
Annelle: Why do you grow them?
Ouiser: 'Cause I'm an old Southern woman and we're supposed to wear funny-lookin' hats and ugly clothes and grow vegetables in the dirt...Don't ask me those questions. I don't know why. I don't make the rules.

Except for the fact that I'm a Yankee, Ouiser (from Steel Magnolias) and I have a whole lot in common.





It may be freezing our faces off when we step outside today, but this is a busy time for gardeners. Every single day, our mailboxes are filled with seed and plant catalogs, and our brains are filled with dreams of the variety of beautiful fruits and delicious vegetables that we can grow in our  own backyards. We gardeners are a delusional bunch. Similar to the experience of childbirth, we have forgotten the pain and sweat and cussing that went on the last time. We only remember the beauty of the finished fruits of our labor.

You, the I-want-to-plant-a-garden folks reading this, have any number of reasons for starting a garden yourself. Perhaps you just want to know where your food comes from. Maybe you are looking to save money at the grocery store. Some of you may be forward thinking and are planning for the zombie apocalypse. Whatever your reason, make sure you think long and hard about whether you have what it takes before planting those first seeds. Ask yourself these questions...

1. Do I really, really like wild animals?

If you plant it, they will come. Deer, chipmunks, rabbits...they all love a good garden. And it is darn near impossible to keep them out once they discover your plot. Unless you can say, "Rabbit, you cute little creature of God, You. Were you hungry? Having trouble finding food elsewhere? Well be my guest. You just eat up all of those green bean plants. I can always just get some beans at the store", don't plant a garden. You must be willing to accept the fact that you can be outsmarted by a deer.

2. Do I like staying home, passing up on any and all summer vacations?

It never fails. If you plan a trip to the beach, every one of your tomatoes will time their ripening to occur while you are supposed to be gone. Want to go hiking in the mountains? Your cucumbers will know, and they will all be gigantic and fit to burst by the time you get back. So much for making pickles. Take a long 4th of July weekend away and the weeds will take over your garden before you can say Oooh, let alone Aaah.

3. Am I OK living in a dirty house?

Between the weeding and the weeding and the weeding (Proven fact: Weeds grow 3,849 times faster than the plants you are trying to grow.) and the laying of grass clippings (organic garden, yo!), and then the picking and cooking and canning and freezing, there just isn't time to clean the house. None. Zero. Zilch. Your children will have to find clean underwear by digging through the mountain on the laundry couch. You won't be able to walk through the house without muttering, "What in the world did I just step in?" When a visitor stops by, you will have to distract her by handing her a bag of produce and taking her out to see where it grew.

4. Am I willing to work with both bees and bugs?

Working in the garden, you will come in contact with all manner of tiny creatures. Ants, slugs, mosquitoes, beetles, bees, and worms to name a few. Some bugs are good for your garden, so you can't just go in and kill them all. You have to be able to sit in your garden, listen to the bug sounds, watch a bee flit from bloom to bloom, and say, "Thank you, Little Bee!" You may even find yourself doing a cheer for said bee. Pol-i-nate! Pol-i-nate! High-pitched screaming and running when a bee enters the garden will not help a garden one iota.

5. Do I have any interest in being a weatherman?

Even if there is absolutely nothing she can do to change the effect it has, a gardener becomes obsessed with the weather. Too much rain, too little rain, record heat, frost warnings. So much to keep track of. Unless you are willing to give up one-fourth of your brain capacity to weather-related musings, rethink your garden ideas.

6. Am I concerned with the way that I look?

Gardening is a dirty job. You will have dirt under your nails the entire growing season. You will have to wear a hat to protect your skin, and with all the sweat you put out, the hat and your hair will not be pretty. Your back will have a permanent hunch from the hours you have spent bending over your plants. You will have clothes specifically for gardening, but at some point in the summer you will say "screw it" and wear them to the store. If you are a person who takes pride in always being put together, gardening will not make you happy.

How did you do? Do you have what it takes to be a true gardener, or have you already thrown the seed catalogs into the recycling bin?

If you have decided to give it a try, stay tuned. Next week I'll have a post with some tips on what to keep in mind when you are planning and planting.

Have a lovely day!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Being Back in Reality Doesn't Always Bite, TToT 134

I'd like to say we're back to normal now that school has started, but that is not the case. My kids' schools didn't start back on the same day, so I've been messed up the entire week. (Today is Friday, right?)

Good stuff happening around here...

1. The 12 Days of Christmas are officially over, and the decorations have been put back in their boxes. Cuckoo is not happy about it. Thankfully, he's easily distracted, so the "WHY? WHY DO WE HAVE TO TAKE THE ORNAMENTS DOWN??" only lasted about 30 seconds.

2. I brought a little bit of summer to the cold winter nights by thawing some of the black raspberries I picked and froze over the summer. A cobbler with some home-whipped whipped cream hit the spot.



3. The year of "Get Stuff Done!" is going strong. (It is not a resolution. I started it last year when I hired the handyman to actually do the stuff.) This week, I bought a much needed dresser for Turken and a TV stand for the game room. For 20 years, we've had a TV sitting on a cheap, round, little table covered in a piece of pink and white striped material. It's ugly and it doesn't have the room to hold the VCR or the kids' video game console.  (Yes, I said VCR. It works and we still use it!) It's way past time to replace it.

4. On Monday, while the three youngest were in school, I took the three high school kids and 5 other high school kids to the north side to do some rock wall climbing. They all had fun, and I was able to get a good workout in. (I was still sore three days later.)




5. It seems as soon as we got past the Winter Solstice, the chickens started dropping more eggs again. (Did you know that chickens mostly stop laying in the winter? Not because of the cold, but because of the lack of sunlight.) They were doing pretty well all winter, giving us 5-7 eggs each day, so I only had to buy a few dozen. Soon, we'll be back to selling again.

6. On Wednesday, I was able to have breakfast with a friend and her itty bitty baby. Snuggling with an extra-small 3 month old is a great way to start the day.

7. A bit random here, but I'm so glad our school does not and never has had required, logged reading time each day. I hear of so many parents complaining about it, and I'm guessing their kids are complaining right along with them. It may help kids learn how to read, but it certainly doesn't seem to help kids learn to love to read.

8. Including the rock wall climbing, I managed to work out 4 days this week. Today I even tried the yoga class at my gym. It's been one year since I joined the gym, and it's about time I looked into the classes. Shake things up a bit.

9. There are a few meals that all the kids and Bryan and I like.


10. While the winter is cold, and we hate that, it is also a relaxed time of year. It's the calm before the spring storm of soccer and volleyball and baseball and track and middle school musical and Sacraments and graduation and and and and and. These days, we are enjoying our free evenings to relax and play and eat dinner all together. And watch sporting events. There's always basketball and football for the boys to watch.

So, how has your first week back in reality been?

Have a lovely day!



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