Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sliding in with My Ten Things of Thankful, week 115

I'm here! I'm here!

And I'm thankful.

In no particular order...

1. Star did not get injured in the 2 varsity games in which he was goalkeeper this week. He and Phoenix both played the best they could. (Saturday's game was painful. They played a team that is ranked nationally. Our team is not.)

2. The academy program at our soccer club (kids age 7-10) is the best one I've ever seen. Not only do they learn footwork and how to play, they have a great time doing it. At the end of practice on Thursday, they had a paint war with about 80-90 kids, and Turken had a blast.

3. We have hundreds of bushels of apples on our trees this year. One of the trees has some that are ready to be picked, and I managed to can 7 quarts this week. I also gave away quite a few to friends.

4. Cuckoo had a happy birthday, partly because Phoenix can drive. Buttercup and Phoenix took Cuckoo out for some ice cream then a shopping trip to spend a $10 gift card.

5. Lots of things are getting done around here thanks to a guy from school/church who started a handyman service. Tomorrow he will finish fixing our crumbling cement front porch step.

6. While all these things are getting done around our house, I've been helping my friend who moved back from Japan get her new house ready for the furniture to be moved in. We've gotten three rooms painted, with one more room to go.

7. Bryan had a job through college as a painter, so when we were dating he taught me how to paint a room. I may not be able to fix the grout in a shower, but I can paint like a boss.

8. Our parish celebrated it's 50th anniversary this weekend, and I was in charge of a big portion of the celebration. Everything went very close to plans, so there was no stress involved.

9. The weather couldn't have been better, which is marvelous, seeing as how most of the things I was doing for the celebration, including the food, was outside.

10. I have superb friends who immediately offered their help with setting up, cleaning up, and manning the food after each Mass.

How was your weekend? Did your plans pan out as you'd hoped they would?

Have a lovely week!

Ten Things of Thankful

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

I Don't Think I've Ever Been This Brief! TToT#114

Jumping in for a really quick list of things for which I'm thankful this week:

1. My littlest boy will be six years old on Sunday. He'll be a six year old who acts like a 14 year old in a 3 year old's body. He keeps life interesting, that is for sure.

2. I remembered to plan ahead and ask him what he wanted to take in to school for his birthday treat, and then follow through by having the requested snickerdoodles ready to go on Friday morning.

3. His birthday present is purchased.

(FYI, #2 and #3 is not a given. I am HORRIBLE at planning for kids' birthdays and buying presents for them. Don't ask my kids how many times they got their gifts late, and don't ask Turken what he took to school for a treat last year.)

4. I got to spend the evening with my book club ladies tonight. 

5. Phoneix can drive. 

6. The weather for today's soccer games was perfection.

7. I found a handyman to get all sorts of odd jobs done around the house.

8. I have friends who completely understand the feelings I'm working through these days because they are feeling the same things.

9. My parents are healthy and active.

10. Buttercup's ability to (1) recognize wrong behavior and (2) stand up for people who are being mistreated and/or gossiped about.

I told you it was going to be quick!

Tell me. What are you thankful for this week?

Have a lovely day!

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Grave Indeed

After weeks of sitting on the sidelines of Ivy's Six Sentence Story link-up, (where the writer has to use six, and only six, sentences to tell a story based on the week's prompt) I finally managed to come up with something for this week's word "grave". You can join in, too, if you like!

True story:

Seeing as how I spent my entire childhood outside, half of that time at the pool, without the use of a drop of sunscreen or even a hat on my head, I pretty much expected it to happen someday, and yet I was still unprepared when the doctor asked, "Do you have a preference between freezing and biopsy?"

I had been in denial for two years, telling myself that the spot on my lip wasn't anything to worry about, so how could I know what each entailed, let alone have a preference of one over the other?

In the end, I went with freezing, because, while having liquid nitrogen blasted onto one's face to cause frostbite under the skin of one's lip is far from pleasant, it's gotta be better than having a chunk of one's lip cut out of one's face.

The four oldest children were told about the pre-cancerous cells that had been slowly growing on my lip but were now frozen. "Does this mean you will get cancer?" one asked.

"Not if I stay on top of it and keep getting my skin checked," I replied, then continued with, "but now that you know the grave consequences of refusing to wear sunscreen, I fully expect you to use it, and to go the extra step to put a hat on your (damn) stubborn heads!"

Have a lovely day!

Monday, August 17, 2015

What Am I Going to Do?? Part 2

I feel like a high school senior, with every opportunity in front of me, and I have the daunting task of narrowing them down. The only difference is the senior is planning for when he "grows up". I am already grown. I know my strengths and my talents. I know my weaknesses and what I should never attempt to do. I know so much more about myself, thanks to time and experiences, than any senior could possibly know about herself. I get to use all of that information to figure out what I should be doing.

Honestly, all I want to do is help people. That's it. But which ones? And how?

I would love to be a doula, assisting women who have sought help at crisis pregnancy centers.
I would love to help young moms who are having a rough time parenting.
I want to help kids who are suffering for any number of reasons.
I want to help families in homeless shelters experience some happy, "normal" events.
I want to help people who are just plain lonely.
I want to help people who don't see any way of getting out of the horrible conditions they are in.
I want to help families with sick children, either playing with or holding the kids at the hospital while the parents have to work or helping the parents as they sit in anguish by their child's side.
The list of possibilities goes on an on and on.

I spend time each day praying about it. Asking God what He wants me to do.

I almost feel stuck because I just don't know where to begin.

And then...

Last night we went out to dinner for Cuckoo's upcoming birthday. I was in the middle of eating my quite yummy beef stroganoff when I noticed an elderly woman walking toward the exit. I recognized her as one of the ladies in my Bible study class I did last year. (The one where I brought the average age of the room down to 78.) Of course, with my terrible memory, I had no idea what her name was, but I recognized her.

I felt a pull to go say hello.

I hesitated, though. My family teases me all the time about talking to people, including people I don't know. I knew that if I stood up and left my meal to talk to this woman, I'd be taken to task by them.

In the end, I just couldn't let her leave without saying something.

I got to her as she was paying her bill.

We exchanged hellos, and when I asked her how she was doing, she said, "Well, that's probably not a question you want to ask me right now." She's having a rough go these days. Her husband died two years ago, and now her son, who lives with her, is extremely ill.

We talked for a little while, and it was so clear that she was sad and lonely and overwhelmed.

Towards the end of our conversation, told her to call me whenever she felt like just visiting with someone. She argued that I was busy enough with my own family. Aha! I told her. With my youngest just leaving for school, I had more time than I want on my hands. She thanked me for stopping to say hi, and I went back to my seat, trying to decide the best way to go about getting her name.

As I predicted, I was teased by my family for leaving in the middle of my meal.

When we got home, the light on our answering machine was blinking.

I hit play to hear this:

"This message is for Christine. This is (her name). You just took the time to talk to me at the restaurant about a half hour ago, and I wanted to say thank you so much...That was your good deed for the day...You made me feel a whole lot better...When I say my prayers tonight, I will thank God for the message you gave me tonight. I really appreciate the time you took away from your beautiful family to talk to me...Well, thank you."

As the tears pooled in my eyes, I was taken aback by my stupidity.

My entire life, I have not planned much of anything. Opportunities come, and I take them. They always turn into something positive. I have kept my eyes open, trusted God to lead me, and just jumped into whatever was there.

Why did I think anything would be different now??

Sprinkled through the thousands of times I've been asked "What are you going to do?" has been the question, "Can you help?"

I am having lunch tomorrow with the mother of one of my best friends. They both could use some help, so I am doing what I can.

The south side of Indianapolis has the largest population of Burmese refugees in the country. A friend of mine teaches at a school where half the students are Burmese and are learning English. She has asked me to come in whenever I have even just 20 minutes to work with some kids one on one. I'm going in later this week.

And tomorrow I will be calling the sweet woman from the restaurant, now that I know her name, to invite her to lunch and help her with some errands.

Am I happy that my job of stay-at-home mom has basically changed to homemaker? No. I'd much rather have little kids making noise all over the house all day.

But with this change comes a new phase in my life. A phase where I can reach out and help in ways I never could before. To help people I never could have helped with a gaggle of kids accompanying me.

I'm OK with that.

I'm thinking that soon enough I'll be pretty happy with that.

Have a lovely day!

Friday, August 14, 2015

We Made It Through the First Week of School, TToT113

I made it through my first four days alone. Gotta say, I did not find it enjoyable. It wasn't as horrible as Sad and Pathetic Me, but it wasn't all sunshine, either. I'll tell you my thoughts about it later this week.

For now, the thankfuls...

1. Cuckoo had no trouble at all starting kindergarten.The first day, he walked into the building like he owned the place, waving to all the staff as he made his way through the halls. We were there early, so we were supposed to wait with everyone else in the cafeteria for a few minutes. He turned to me and said, "Do I have to sit with you?" He even told me I should go. He is the only kindergarten student who didn't have a parent take him to his room. And that means no photos. He was thrilled. (Do me a favor. In about 30 years when he asks why he doesn't have any first day of school photos, remind me about this post.) Day 2 the PE teacher made a point of finding me to tell me that Cuckoo talked to her more in the one PE class he's been to than all of my five other children combined through all these years of school. Yeah, he's fine.

2. I spent almost the entire first day with friends to distract me so I wouldn't have to go home to the empty house. I had breakfast with one, went on an hour and a half walk with another, and had a late lunch with another. We talked and laughed and talked some more. It was the perfect way to spend my first day without kids.

3. I am thankful that my oldest three are OK. Soon after leaving for school, Buttercup called me to say the car was shaking and smoking. As soon as it happened, Phoenix drove slowly to the next turn off and stopped the car. He did the exact right thing. Fortunately, it was only 5 minutes from our house, and it was only a flat tire. Bryan showed the kids how to change it and they were on their way.

4. They even managed to get to school before the tardy bell rang.

5. I had been preparing myself for a mostly lonely day at home. All that was scheduled was an 8:00 vet appointment. But, thanks to the car trouble, that plan changed. After the vet I had an hour at home (to take the photos for Wednesday's post and pack a lunch) before I went to take care of Phoenix's car tires.

6. The kids have started out strong in school. They all have at least one class they really like, and none of their classes are horrible, which is saying something when discussing teenagers' likes and dislikes.

7. Bryan has been very understanding throughout the week. He calls each day to see how I'm doing. He doesn't pressure me to do anything or figure out what I want to do. He just gives me extra hugs when he gets home from work.

8. I have been able to make it to the gym to get a workout in. While I prefer to be outside to do cardio, the gym is my place to build some muscle.

9. We've had some hot weather lately, but the humidity doesn't seem bad. In the shade, it has been quite pleasant. (We'll be at the (unshaded) high school soccer field for approximately 10 hours on Saturday, so this thankful does not apply to that day.)

10. I've had lots of reasons to laugh this week. I'll always be thankful for laughter.

How about you? What made you laugh this week?

And if you blog, link it up!

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Answer (in Selfies!) to the Million Dollar Question

Cuckoo started kindergarten on Tuesday, and everyone is wanting to know, "What are you going to doooo?!?!?!?!"

I've had at least one small child with me every single day (minus a couple of childless vacations, of course) for 17 years. All my friends and most everyone else knew Tuesday was going to be a difficult day for me.

Over the weekend, Buttercup asked me, "When we get home on Tuesday, are we going to find you curled up on Cuckoo's bed sobbing into his pillow?"

We all had a good laugh at that joke.

Well, they were hoping it was a joke.

I later found myself thinking about her question, and the hilarious Direct TV commercials came to mind. Have you seen them?

If not, you need to watch one before continuing with this post.

Here's one:

The following is for all my sisters in motherhood sending their babies off to their first day of school.

(And for everyone else who just wants a bit of a chuckle.)


Hi. I'm Christine, and I am content with my youngest starting kindergarten.

And I'm Sad and Pathetic Christine. I can't handle being without a child all day.

I make nutritious dinners that my family will devour when they get home.

I  make myself sick eating all of the Little Debbie treats and drinking all of the juice my kids like so much.

I work to finish all of the household improvements we've put off to raise and shuttle children.

I play Trouble, the Star Wars edition, with my imaginary child, and I even let him win sometimes.

I work out in order to get my pre-baby body back.

I go to the playground and try to play with uncooperative strangers' cute kids.

I sit under a tree and catch up on all of the reading I've wanted to do for years.

I read picture books to all of my kids' stuffed animals.

When your youngest goes off to school, don't be like Sad and Pathetic Me. Enjoy the peace and quiet and time to yourself. Just give extra love and kisses to the kids when they get home.


And with that, you all know the answer.

What will I do??

Apparently, I'll be making my parents proud by wasting a copious amount of time and energy making ridiculous blog posts.

And because this week's theme is "Good-bye", I'm linking up with Blessed Is She.

Have a lovely day!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Me? Bitter About School Starting the First Week of August? No. Never. TToT Week 112

I drove by one of the public pools yesterday.

It was empty.

As in no water in the pool.

It was August 7 and 85 degrees.

Exactly the time and temperature for people to be in the water.

But there is no water.


Because all of the public schools around here have moved to the balanced calendar (aka year-round).

There aren't any teenagers to be lifeguards. There aren't many kids available to swim.

You know what else is empty (well, emptish)?

The state fair. It's open for two weeks starting yesterday, but kids are already in school. This "balanced" calendar certainly hinders and unbalances 4-H kids.

Can you tell I'm a bit annoyed with the whole thing?

Even if balanced calendar helps with retention of learning, can't it be moved around so the kids have the hottest month of the year off? Why not start later and have the kids go to the end of June?

Ah, I'm sure there are plenty of reasons. I'm just grumpy because now that the summer weather is here, we can't enjoy it.

Time to let it go and get on with the thankfuls...

1. High school has started, and the three in it have had a good three days. They all have friends with whom they can eat lunch. They are getting up on their own and being very responsible about getting to school not only on time but early. They have teachers they really enjoy. (One of the best teachers in the school is the drafting teacher. This is his 50th (YES FIFTIETH!) year teaching, and the kids adore him. Plus, every year, at least one of his students wins the national architecture award. (Star and Buttercup both have him.))

2. High school soccer tryouts are over, and all three kids did well. They will all get plenty of playing time this season.

3. We had Back to School Night for the younger kids. All three have new teachers, and I could not be happier about them. Our principal is not a warm and fuzzy lady, but she is phenomenal at hiring and at helping all of her teachers get better. We could not be more fortunate in our choice of school.

4. Turken's class is full of oldest and only children, which makes Bryan and me the old folks in any parent gathering. Not so with the kindergarten! I have my people back! The teachers may have their hands full with so many youngest-with-much-older-siblings in the class, but I am thrilled. For one, Cuckoo won't be so out of place when, at indoor recess, he asks if anyone wants to play poker. For two, I have all sorts of friends in their 40s instead of strangers in their 20s with whom I can cry my eyes out that first day.

5. Giant, Turken, and Cuckoo don't start school until Tuesday, so we've been trying to pack in the fun while the big kids are at school. We've gone bowling and to a park with friends and played games. On Monday we'll go to the zoo.

Turken waiting patiently to see whether he should do the happy dance or the shameful shuffle.

6. Everyone except Cuckoo is playing soccer this season, and I'm very happy that the latest any practice goes is 7:30. Everyone is home before 8:00 every night, so we actually have time to sit and chat before they go off to finish homework.

7. There are some of us TToT hosts who have a certain thing/someone show up on our lists week after week. Ivy always includes her poor, dear old dog, and Kristi always includes her husband. Me? I will once again include Phoenix's ability to drive. IT MAKES ME SO HAPPY!!!

8. Thanks to the floods this summer, the garden isn't doing the best. We don't have enough tomatoes or potatoes to can, but we do have enough for a good number of meals.

9. Whoever came up with the internet is awesome. I am able to try all sorts of new recipes thanks to the gazillion sites out there. Today for lunch I tried this one with our tomatoes and zucchini. It was really good and easy to make.

10. I'm getting to do some fun things with the older kids and their friends lately. Last weekend I went with Buttercup, three of her friends, and one other mom to Clifty Falls State Park in southern Indiana (as in right on the Ohio River). We hiked and hiked and hiked, through creeks (literally. In the water.) and a pitch-black tunnel and up and down hills. To revive, we got ourselves 2 scoops of ice cream in historic Madison, IN. Tonight I will be taking Star and a bunch of his buddies to an Indy 11 (our pro soccer team) game. It's always fun and enlightening to listen to them all.

Goofing off in the creek

the entrance to the tunnel - It was originally dug out for a train track, but the project was abandoned.

Alrighty then. Your turn! What happy things can you tell me about this week?

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

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Saturday, August 1, 2015

This Week, I'm Mostly Thankful for Friends, TToT #111

(1) I'm pretty quiet about my blogging. I don't talk about it with any of my friends. I don't promote it on my personal Facebook page. Just not something I do, probably because non-bloggers don't really get the point of it. Doesn't mean I don't cherish my blogging friends. I am so grateful for all of the friends I've made. This week alone, they've been checking on me and praying for some intentions I have and sharing embarrassing dead animal stories with me to make me feel better about mine. Thank you, everyone!

(2) While I'm at it, thank you to all of you readers who don't share much. I know you're out there, because I hear about you and from you every once in a while. I appreciate you, too.

(3) I am glad, though, that my family has finally come around and sorta understands that I have blog friends. (It helps that I've met quite a few of you, and even crashed at your houses.) Unfortunately, they have now forgotten that I know people outside of blogging and church. My good friend from college surprised me when she sent a note saying she and her family were going to be driving through and wanted to stop. I hadn't seen her in over 10 years, so the kids don't remember meeting her. When I told them S was coming, each of them asked (at different times), "Which blog does she write?" They couldn't grasp the fact that I had a life before them and know lots of people from those years. When I told them she was a college friend, Star, funny guy that he is, said, "You were blogging back then?"

(4) We had such a fun time with S and her family, despite Cuckoo's attempt at derailing it. (Same link as the last one. Really, if you haven't read it, you should.) Her girls are delightful, and S and her husband are just as they were in college.

(5) Bryan is attempting to turn us into a whole different family. We never, ever used to go to movies in the theaters, but in the last 6 months, Bryan has suggested we go many times. Our family has seen more movies in the last 6 months than we've seen in the previous 6 years. Last weekend, we split up. Bryan took the little boys and Buttercup to see Minions, and I went with the big boys to Ant-man. I most definitely got the better deal. I was told their movie stunk, but I really enjoyed ours. No one is more surprised about that fact than me.

(6) While I'm not happy about aging, I'm very glad that medical advancements can help with the symptoms of aging. Specifically, these:

Finding reading glasses that don't look completely ridiculous on my face was a failure, but at least Buttercup and I had fun trying. I used them to try to read the paper this morning. The words were so clear! but it's going to take some getting used to. I actually started to get a little queezy after a while.

(7) For three years I've been talking about my friend who moved to Japan. For three years I've missed her terribly. Well, SHE'S BACK!! They moved back for good, and it's been so fun getting to hang out with her again.

(8) High school starts on Wednesday, and the younger kids start the following week. (I don't want to talk about it.) Having to buy school supplies for six kids for the first time (I said I don't want to talk about it!), I am very grateful that stores have great sales on common school supply needs. I still had to shell out a bundle of cash, but it could have been a whole lot worse.

Some of our purchases. Don't know where we're going to eat dinner until their backpacks arrive.

(9) As you know, we didn't have any pigs this year. BUT we have a freezer full of pork again thanks to a friendly reader (who is married to Bryan's college roommate (who happens to be a real farmer)). We had some sausage gravy and biscuits last night and it was delicious!

(10) Despite my complete disregard for planning, our church directory photo session went well. We all had coordinating shirts, everyone was in a good mood, and the photographer was fun to work with. While Cuckoo was hysterically over-cheesing for most of the shots, we managed to find one that would work for the directory. (We were very tempted to use one of the funny ones, but it's the 50th anniversary edition, and we didn't want to be that family in this particular one.)

So, my friends, tell me about something that went well for you this week.

Link up or let me know in the comments.

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

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