Quote ~ from the movie Parenthood

Grandma: "You know, when I was 19, Grandpa took me on a roller coaster. Up, down, up, down. Oh, what a ride! I always wanted to go again. You know, it was just so interesting to me that a ride could make me so frightened, so scared, so sick so excited and so thrilled all together! Some didn't like it. They went on the merry-go-round. That just goes around. Nothing. I like the roller coaster. You get more out if it."

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Keep Holy the Sabbath

Exodus 20: 9-11

Six days you may labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD, your God. No work may be done then either by you, or your son or daughter, or your male or female slave, or your beast, or by the alien who lives with you.   In six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD has blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

I’m embarrassed to say that I do not keep holy the Sabbath.  My family and I are often guilty of working on Sunday.  My goal in writing this is to help myself be more accountable.  If I’m writing about something, I need to be living it.  So, if I write about keeping holy the Sabbath, I will be more inclined to do it myself.

Eventually, I would like to have a Sunday tradition of having a nice family dinner every week.  I would also like to spend Sunday’s doing some fun, engaging activity with the kids.  Knowing myself, I jump in with both feet; guns blazing and I tend to fail because it was too much to keep up with.  So, today, I’m just going to plan to play a board game with the whole family.  And, I’m going to go to bed early so that I will be refueled for the week ahead.

I hope you are doing something with your family to keep holy the Sabbath and refuel for your week ahead.

Happy and Holy Sunday!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Simple Saturdays

Do you know where the term Christmas in July came from?  A search of the internet shows many different answers.  The one that I prefer is from one of my favorite books, by one of my favorite authors,  Mrs. Sharps Traditions by Sarah Ban Breathnach.  In the book she explains that frugal Victorian families would make their Christmas presents.  They would start the list in mid-June and be finishing them by the end of the summer. 

In addition, she also gives wonderful suggestions for gifts such as dried potpourri or dried-flower bouquets gathered from your summer garden (I currently don’t have a garden of any type, that’s one of those projects I would like to do!).   If you’re taking a vacation at the seashore she suggests making seashell picture frames.  Or, if you’d like to have fun in the kitchen with your kids, she suggests making things like spiced tea bags, nine-bean soup mixes or preserves.  She also suggests that celebrating Christmas in July, allows for plenty of time to plan and execute large holiday projects and plans.  This way the whole family will enjoy working on them together throughout the fall season.

To get everyone in the gift-making mood Mrs. Sharp plans a birthday party on July 15th for Reverend Clement Clarke Moore, the author of The Night Before Christmas.  She reads the story, over tea and birthday cake.  Then she pours over craft books and discusses plans with her family.

Our family always makes the majority of the Christmas presents that we give.  Mostly for financial reasons, but also because my kids have come to realize that it is more fun to give gifts that they have made, then to receive gifts.  I am not as organized as Mrs. Sharp, though I would like to be.  Often our family is scrambling to make the gifts right up to Christmas Eve.  This takes away from the advent season, and I’m often frustrated and yelling like a banshee.  Taking even more of the focus off of Christ birthday, and more on gift giving, which is not something I’m particularly proud of.

So, even though July 15th has come and gone, I think that I will plan a tea in the next couple of weeks for our family to get a jump on Christmas present making and family plans.  If you would like to join me but don’t know where to start, a quick search of the internet will provide a wealth of information.  However, here are a few sites that I like:

Of course you can always visit one of the photo sites like Shutterfly, Snapfish, Kodak or Blurb to make some wonderful photo gifts.  Or, check out Muvee a simple home movie editing program that helps you make fantastic home movies using video or still shots.  It’s great for beginners!  I’m sure that your local library also has a wealth of information as well.

To quote Mrs. Sharp “Once families made everything they needed from candles and soap to clothing and food.  But today, young children barely realize that things can be made by hand.  When adults encourage children to become aware of the process of creating, the sense of purpose becomes as important as the object itself.  Vacation time offers us this wonderful opportunity.  Celebrating Christmas in July keeps youngsters as busy as Santa’s elves, while nurturing a gift that will last a lifetime:  their creativity.”

I plan to make time in the upcoming Saturdays for our family to work on our holiday plans and family gifts.  It is one more way that I am going to work on making my Saturday more family focused, simple and fun.  Won’t you join me?

Here is a simple Saturday meal that my family loves, it’s also a Lean and Green meal if you’re following the Take Shape For Life program like me.

Ground Beef and Zucchini Skillet
2 servings
10 oz. 95% lean ground beef  (we use ground turkey and or MorningStar Farms ground crumbles)
3 slices onion, minced
1 ½ cups cubed zucchini
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 cup canned tomatoes, whole (no salt) (or equivalent fresh tomatoes!)
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
Cook ground beef, onion, and garlic until meat is brown; drain. Crush the tomatoes and stir into the meat mixture (with juice). Add zucchini and seasoning. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until heated through and the zucchini is tender.
Serves two people on Medifast. (Approx. 248 calories and 11 carbs. per serving)
(The original recipe also calls for one can whole kernel corn, drained, and ¼ cup Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. That would be for the rest of the family!)

I also add a green salad and a loaf of whole grain bread and some fresh fruit for the rest of the family.


Here’s to Simpler, Family Focused, Fun Saturdays!

Friday, July 29, 2011

I’m late; I’m late for a very important date!

OK, maybe not late but definitely behind!  I know FlyLady says “You’re never behind just jump in where you are”, but that’s not how I feel!  I feel like I’m always behind on everything!  I’m not really sure how to get caught up either.  There is always something to do, and I never feel like I get anything done really well.  I’m interrupted or distracted or there just isn’t enough time to get it all done.  FlyLady says you can do anything for 15 minutes.  Sure I can do something for 15 minutes but I can’t complete anything in 15 minutes.  So what is the answer to getting it done and caught up?

I’ve thought if I worked on one particular thing for 15 minutes every day for six days straight (taking Sunday off) that would give me an hour and a half on one project.  What could I accomplish in an hour and a half?  The problem I see is that I won’t be able to stop once the timer goes off.  And, in a house with small children won’t what I’m working on get un-done or messed with?  Probably so.  Another problem I have is there is so much to be done I don’t know where to start!  I get completely overwhelmed at the thought of trying to pick one place or one thing to start with.

Let’s say I decide to pick a room and work in there for 15 minutes a day.  What about pulling all the stuff out to clean with etc.?  I’m thinking it’s going to take me at least 15 minutes to round up what I need and then another 15 minutes to put it away when I’m done.  Then I’m going to have to start the whole process over again the next day until the room is finally complete.  It just seems easier to devote the time needed to that room from start to finish.  The question is where do I get enough uninterrupted time to do that?

I’m back to square one with being overwhelmed and not knowing where to start, or how to get caught up.  Still behind!  Mary Poppins  says “Well begun is half done.”  So how in the heck do I get to the well begun part?!  Of course if all I had to do is snap my fingers and everything would tidy up itself, well begun is half done would be easy!

The Director says “I just need to lower my standards.”  REALLY?!  If I lower my standards any more than I already have, we might have unexpected and unwanted house guests!  Then again in Enchanted Giselle sings a melodic haaa haha haaa out the window and all the rodents, birds and bugs swarm to her side to clean the messy house, while they all sing a Happy Working Song.  I wonder if I lower my standards and unwanted house guests show up, if they will help clean up and get organized around here or just add to the mess?!

So, again back to square one.  I had a friend tell me forget trying to get caught up until the kids are grown up.  There is just one problem with that solution, the way my kids are spread out, by the time The Little Man leaves home I’ll probably have grandchildren around.  And, I’ll still be behind!

The Director always said he wanted a bunch of kids so he would have slaves to help get everything done.  Clearly he had no idea that we would become their slaves.  I’m not complaining, I believe wholeheartedly in servitude.  I’m just tired of being behind!  I’m not of the attitude if you can’t beat em’, join em’ but maybe I could beat them at their own game somehow?  Maybe I can trick them into helping me get caught up or at least disappearing so that I can have uninterrupted time to get caught up.  Somehow, I think they’re too smart for that!  I guess like the White Rabbit for now I’m rushing and running always late or behind!  Only my theme song is This is the Stuff instead of I’m Late!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

With Owls and Roosters who can get any sleep?

There are many challenges when you have drivers licenses to diapers in children.  However, I think one of the most challenging is the sleep differences.  Did you know that puberty changes an adolescent’s internal clock?  Due to puberty, teenagers are hormonally wired to stay up late and sleep late in the morning.  Most teenagers need nine hours of sleep for their bodies to grow and for them to function at their full potential.  Small children on the other hand, are hormonally wired to fall asleep between 8:00 and 9:00 PM.  They need between 10 and 13 hours of sleep, depending on their age.

My older three kids, after the first three months of life, settled into really good sleep patterns.  Now that they are teens and a tween, they have fallen into the typical teenage sleep pattern, and have become owls.  Can’t fall asleep until after 11:00 PM or later, and want to sleep until 10:00 AM or later.  One positive thing about homeschooling is that teens can adjust their schedule to accommodate this new internal clock change.

My youngest two children, while they require 10 – 13 hours of sleep, fight going to sleep at all cost, are very light sleepers, and both think that they are roosters!  Therefore, they don’t usually get all the sleep that they need and are often cranky.  As am I!

I tend to be like the older kids, I am a night owl.  I get bursts of energy after 10:00 PM and do my best work until the wee hours of the morning, IF I’m allowed to sleep in the next day.  My problem lies in that often I’m exhausted, because I stay up like the owls, and don’t sleep in the next day; I get up at the crack of dawn with the roosters!

I adore my children, and 98.9% of the time I can’t imagine spending my days with anyone else except maybe The Director.  However, by 8:00 at night I am kidded out!  I need some time alone, with The Director, and a little down time, to myself, to re-fuel for the next day.  I NEED everyone in bed!  The older kids don’t have to go to sleep but I NEED them in their rooms, so I can have a bit of quiet time.  Often that doesn’t happen, the little ones find some excuse to be out of bed.  Even if they aren’t out of their room, they are still up in there and they are noisy.  We don’t have a huge house, so even if the older kids are trying to avoid me eventually I will see or hear them in the evening.  And, not that this is a bad thing it’s just nice to have time that is completely quiet so I can pray, meditate, think, whatever.  So, I often stay up later than everyone else to get that time. 

Dawn comes pretty fast when you go to bed between 1:00 and 2:00 AM.  The roosters arise, usually The Little Man before The Informer.  The roosters are not content to crawl back in bed with me and watch a movie or go back to sleep.  Amazingly, these roosters want food!  Who can possibly eat that early in the morning!  Doesn’t the digestive track have to go though some sort of wake-up process for at least a couple of hours?!  And, then The Little Man insists on watching Mickey Mouse Club House (what in the heck would he do without On-Demand TV?!).  The Little Man is not a quiet child, he will either scream to get his way or he will scream because he didn’t get it.  Either way he usually wakes up the rest of the house, and everyone, owls and roosters alike, are in a sleep deprived, zombie like stupor.

What is the answer to this problem?  I don’t have one!  I have tired keeping the roosters up with the owls in hopes that they too will sleep in.  But, in the end roosters are roosters at least until they go through puberty and become owls.  Regardless of the time they go to bed the roosters still get up with the sun, even with a dark room!  We blackened their window once.  (The Informer couldn’t understand why the sun had come up in the rest of the house and not their room.)  They both still got up at the crack of dawn!

The owls try as they might, can not fall asleep as early as the roosters.  So I guess for now, I need to learn to go to bed early and forget any quiet time or spend the next eight years in a zombie like stupor.  Of course The Director always votes for going to bed early, as he doesn’t think ANY of us gets enough sleep!

I need a nap!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Tinkle is Happy, Disobedience or Denial?

(Warning:  this post discusses bodily functions, potty training, and body parts.)

I have five children.  The oldest is 17 and from what I can remember most of them, except The Little Man, potty trained fairly easy.  There were a few hiccups with The Organized Child, and The Middle Child took a bit longer than the others in certain areas of potty training, but for the most part all were done by no later than 2 ½ .  Then there is The Little Man!  The Little Man is 3 years and four months old.  He is not potty trained!  He has no interest in potty training!  I am at my wits end with this child!  If you ask him “When?!” he replies “When potty?”  “Yes!  When potty?!”  He replies “NO!”

This child is perfectly happy to wear a diaper or a pull-up if he absolutely must but he prefers his Mickey diapers.

Forget the fact that I’m just tired of buying and changing diapers, The Little Man, despite his name is a BIG kid!  He is in the 90th percentile for his height and the 75th for his weight.  He wears a 4T and sometimes a 5T.  Diapers and pull-ups just don’t fit him any more!  At the rate we’re going, if he doesn’t potty train soon, I’m going to have to buy him Depends!
We have tried everything to get this child to use the toilet!  I’ve rewarded, threatened, cajoled, and bribed .  While he’s gone a handful of times in the toilet, nothing is long lived.  His father and brother have taken him into the bathroom with them (not all three together) and shot Cheerio’s, actually peed on them in the toilet, GROSS!  (Who knew, just one more versatile thing you can do with Cheerio’s.)  Still he is not interested in using the toilet.  I’m at a complete loss!

He is old enough to go and hide while he poops.  Then when he’s done, he goes and gets the wipes, a new diaper, the changing pad to lie on, and a bag to throw the poopie diaper away in.  He then proceeds to lie down and yell “Change my poop!”  Now, as a homeschooling mother of five and caregiver to my 2 year old niece (most week days), I don’t have a lot of free time.  I’m usually engaged in some activity all day long.  Therefore, I do not immediately jump up to change this child’s diaper!  I take a few minutes to get to him, in hopes that he will be uncomfortable enough to want to use the bathroom!  As I change him, the classic conversation begins again “When Bud?”  “When potty?”  “Yes, when potty?”  “NO!”

The pediatrician suggested that we tell The Little Man that his pee pee and poo poo aren’t happy in the diaper, they are happy in the potty.  So as I was changing him one day, the conversation began again, “When Bud?”  When potty?”  “Yes, when potty?”  “NO!”  “But remember Dr. N. says that your pee pee and poo poo aren’t happy in your diaper, their happy in the potty.  You’re a big boy now, big boys use the potty.”  He looks up at me with an angelic grin; aha, I think, I’m getting through to him!  He replies “No!  But my tinkle’s happy!”  (Tinkle is the word used in our house for your private part.)  Trying not to laugh I think to myself is this kid in denial or just stubborn and disobedient?!

Then I wonder if God feels that way about me.  Am I stubborn and disobedient, or in denial about things that He’s trying to get me to do.  Are there behaviors He wants me to change?  Does He look at me and say “When Angela?”  Do I completely ignore Him, and go on my merry way, seemingly happy to be doing what I’m doing?  Doesn’t The Little Man know how great it will feel to be dry, and have a poop free bottom?  Maybe God is thinking the same thing about me.  Don’t you know you wouldn’t (fill in the blank), if you would just (fill in the blank)?  I wonder, what am I missing out on because I’m too stubborn to change my ways, or too disobedient, “I want it my way”, or I’m just in denial, “things aren’t that bad”.  I wonder if I’m sitting in poop, thinking my tinkle’s happy too!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Attack of the Killer Organism!

I was talking to a friend last night.  We were talking about shopping for all the paraphernalia that the kids took to camp.  It was quite a list that included things like travel toiletries, sunscreen, and insect repellent.  As we were talking, somehow all the things you could get at camp came up.  This sent my overly, anxious mind into a tail spin.  When we hung up I couldn’t stop thinking of all the disgusting parasites or fungus that my children might possibly be exposed to.

There is a whole host of disgusting parasites and fungus!  You have all the endoparasites that include things like protozoan organisms.  Those are organisms that come from things like tick bites, ingesting contaminated food or water, bites from sandflies, mosquito bites, tsetse fly bites and amoeba’s that are ingested through nasal passages.  Also in the endoparasites, you have the helminths organisms or worms.  These can include but are not limited to hook, round, tape, pin, whip, fluke and a multitude of other nauseating species.  And what about the ectoparasites such as bedbugs, lice (head, body and crab), or scabies.  That doesn’t even begin to cover things like ticks, chiggers, mites, athlete’s foot, yeast infections, fungus in general or mold!  Honestly!  The mere mention of these revolting organisms sends shivers down my spine, and my body itching from head to toe!

This picture of Patricia Owens says it all, when it comes to the sheer horror at the thought of these nasty creatures!

Now here’s my question (You knew it was coming didn’t you?!), what is the purpose of these horrible things?!  My son assures me that ticks, fleas and small bugs are food for other animals such as monkeys.  I might buy that one, but really do we actually need all the other stuff??!!  In Genesis, it talks about God commanding Noah to bring all kinds of creeping things onto the ark (Gen 6:20), but did that really include things like bedbugs, lice, or pin worms?  I mean if he did bring those things, wouldn’t they have had some serious problems being cooped up on the ark for over seven months?  I can just see Mrs. Noah now, combing nits out of Noah’s long hair and beard.  Oh wait a minute; they didn’t have nit combs back then!  Did they all just run around and itch?!  Maybe that’s how they fed the monkeys; they went in and let the monkeys pick the bugs off their bodies.

Then there’s the whole fungus thing!  OK, maybe some of the fungus and molds are needed to make medicines and cheese, but do we seriously need black shower mold?!  How much of that stuff grew in the ark, floating around in the moist air, for almost a year?!  No matter what I do I can’t get rid of that stuff!  No amount of bleach product, steam from my Shark steamer or growth retardant ever gets completely rid of it!  (And, how am I supposed to be GREEN using all those heavy duty chemicals?!)  Just when I think I finally have it under control some small spot shows up in some corner!  It’s absolutely disgusting!  I’m not seeing God’s infinite wisdom when it comes to any of these hair raising, horrid organisms!  Typing about them now, I envision some cheesy, 50’s, sci-fi, B movie; a mite the size of Godzilla, covered in black mold, chasing me down the street.  I hear the music from the movie Psycho, and Janet Lee’s screams coming from my mouth as I spray my piddly bottle of insecticide and Tilex at it! 

I can’t go on!  I have to go take a shower!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Dirt, Grime and Filth Oh My!

In the wee hours of the morning today, Oldest and The Organized Child boarded a bus and headed to summer camp in another state.  This is a first for us; the kids have gone to local summer day camps but nothing far from home or overnight.  Oldest was thrilled and excited and couldn’t wait!  An entire week away from home, with two of his closest friends, doing outdoor stuff and communing with God!  What could be better?!  On the other hand, The Organized Child was a different story altogether.  She was very apprehensive, nervous and felt that she had made a mistake in deciding to go.

As you’ve probably determined from her name, The Organized Child is a BO (born organized) in addition she tends to be a bit Monkish in her ways.  She loves it when she knows every detail of every plan and knows what to expect.  So, the first thing she began to stress about was the fact that she didn’t know the plan or schedule for every moment that she would be gone.  The second and more important thing she began to stress about was how dirty things might be or she was going to get.  When she learned about things like the mud pit and the wet and dirt day at camp she began to panic!  She seriously began to regret her decision.  I tried to reassure her and bought her an arsenal of supplies to take with her (3 bottles of hand sanitizer, a travel package of Clorox clean-ups, Handi-Wipes, a can of Lice – Bedbug killing spray, and a can of Lysol).  When she saw the supplies she began to feel a little better and showed a hint of excitement.

As I began to think about her fears I wondered is it because it’s someone else’s dirt that it bothers her?  I mean our house is probably as clean as camp is going to be.  Let’s be honest here, I’ve been married 20 years and housekeeping is not one of my strengths by any means.  My mother used to joke that you couldn’t enter my bedroom unless you had had your shots.  Obviously it has never been one of my strengths!  We have a Self-Flushing Self Washing Cat Box .  What I want to know is if someone can invent that, why can’t they invent a self cleaning house or at the very least a self cleaning toilet!

The other thought I had is if house cleaning isn’t one of my strengths should I constantly be striving to be Martha Stewart and then feel terrible about myself when I don’t measure up?!  I’m not saying I shouldn’t clean my house I’m just saying if it isn’t my strength shouldn’t I do the best I can and be ok with it?  Also, if I was fastidious about housecleaning would The Organized Child be more Monkish or less?  I keep coming back to God is a God of order, and cleanliness is next to Godliness; so am I falling short in God’s eyes?  I mean having an ordered house doesn’t necessarily mean having an immaculate house.  And the cleanliness thing, is that literal or is it talking about your soul.  If Pigpen showed up to the gates of heaven sinless would he be turned away?  If Adrian Monk  showed up overrun with sin would he be allowed to enter?  Mother Teresa lived and worked with the poorest of the poor in the streets of Calcutta.  I don’t imagine she was super clean but I bet her soul was cleaner than most.  My guess is that she’s in heaven.

A very dear friend reminded me of a conversation we once had about Jesus being born in a filthy stable and not a sterile hospital.  If a little dirt was acceptable for the King of Kings isn’t it ok for me and The Organized Child too?!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

He Died.

{I apologize for the length of this post.  I had intended for posts on Sunday to be short and sweet and to the point about the Lord’s Day, keeping Holy the Sabbath, resting, relaxing, rejuvenating, meditating and prayer.  However, something happened yesterday that changed today’s post.}

From Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium

Mr. Edward Magorium: [to Molly, about dying] When King Lear dies in Act V, do you know what Shakespeare has written? He's written "He dies." That's all, nothing more. No fanfare, no metaphor, no brilliant final words. The culmination of the most influential work of dramatic literature is "He dies." It takes Shakespeare, a genius, to come up with "He dies." And yet every time I read those two words, I find myself overwhelmed with dysphoria. And I know it's only natural to be sad, but not because of the words "He dies." but because of the life we saw prior to the words.
[pause, walks over to Molly]
Mr. Edward Magorium: I've lived all five of my acts, Mahoney, and I am not asking you to be happy that I must go. I'm only asking that you turn the page, continue reading... and let the next story begin. And if anyone asks what became of me, you relate my life in all its wonder, and end it with a simple and modest "He died."

The Organized Child’s Godfather passed away last night.  We knew it was coming, had been preparing for weeks, but somehow it didn’t make losing him any easier.  Don’t get me wrong, I am overjoyed for the Godfather; he is home in the arms of the Lord.  He is no longer suffering in this world, but I’m sad for all of us who loved him that are left behind.  My heart aches at the idea of not seeing him in this life ever again.

The Godfather was very large in stature; he was a strong, handsome, manly man with a quiet loving kindness that moved me.  He had strong opinions about morals and values and rightly so as he was a father, grandfather, great-grandfather and godfather.  You could tell that he loved and respected his wife greatly.  He had been a pilot during the Vietnam War and worked at the Space Center for many years.  He was a patriot.  He was devout in his beliefs and very active in his church.

Church is where I met the Godfather, about 17 years ago.  We passed him one morning on the way into church, Hubby, the Director said good morning.  The Godfather nodded, smiled and replied, when he did his eyes lit up, he seemed to have an overall happiness to him.  It immediately made me think “This is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad.”  When I asked the Director how he knew him, the Director replied I work with him.  I was curious about this overall genuine happiness this man seemed to have.

Time went on and we continued to have a casual relationship with the Godfather and his wife.  Then I gave birth to the Organized Child.  A few days after she was born we brought her to mass.  We ran into the Godfather and he asked to hold her.  I watched the most amazing site as this large man held my baby girl in his arms.  When I looked up at him cradling her with such gentleness and admiration I was moved.  And then I looked closer (she was so tiny and safe in his big arms) as he looked down at her I noticed that his eyes were filled with tears.  I knew right then and there that he was supposed to be her godfather.  I have never regretted making such a quick decision.

We didn’t really know the Godparents very well when we asked them to be the godparents but it turned out to be a great blessing and wonderful friendship.  God clearly had a plan.  The Godparents have been very instrumental in my own faith growth and journey with the Lord.  This has helped me to better educate my children and teach them the faith.  My children have felt that the Godparents were like another set of grandparents and they truly love and adore them.  We have been really blessed to have the Godparents and their entire family in our life.

After I got the call that the Godfather went home to be with our Lord I cried.  I told the Organized Child and then Mr. Magorium’s quote came to mind. ““He dies." It takes Shakespeare, a genius, to come up with "He dies." And yet every time I read those two words, I find myself overwhelmed with dysphoria. And I know it's only natural to be sad, but not because of the words "He dies." but because of the life we saw prior to the words.  My family only experienced the last act of the Godfather’s life, but what a profound impact he had on us.  I adored and loved the Godfather!  He was a role model, someone to learn from.  I’m not sure that I am ready to turn the page and continue reading.  I’m not sure I’m ready for the next story.  What about the rest of the Organized Child’s story that he will not be apart of on this earth?  I can easily and proudly express the part of his story that we were a part of, but when it comes to “He died” I can not speak.  Two one syllable words that independent of each other bring about no real response.  Yet say them together and what power they have.  My heart hurts at the very idea that the Godfather died.  (Although we didn’t see him as often as I would like, it was comforting to know he wasn’t far away and we could always e-mail.)  I am full of grief for his wife, children and rest of his family.

Matt Maher has a song titled Christ is Risen as I was crying last night, the lyrics of this song resonated in my brain.

O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?
O church, come stand in the light
The glory of God has defeated the night

Sing it, o death, where is your sting?

Visit http://www.xtralyrics.com

O hell, where is your victory?
O church, come stand in the light
Our God is not dead, He's alive, He's alive

Christ is risen from the dead
Trampling over death by death
Come awake, come awake
Come and rise up from the grave

Christ is risen from the dead

We are one with Him again
Come awake, come awake
Come and rise up from the grave
Rise up from the grave
                        (emphasis mine)

Reading those lyrics, listening to that song the dysphoria is lifted, I KNOW as I always have, in the depths of my soul but sometimes lose sight of, that Christ is victorious!  The Godfather is already raised to new life with Christ!  And one day we will be too!  It is that day that I look forward to.  So with Christ victorious and death defeated, through misty eyes, I can end with a simple and modest "He died."
                                    (Rest in Peace in the Glorious arms of our Lord my dear friend.)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Simple Saturdays

Were Saturdays of the past lazy?  To be honest I’m not sure if they were, I’m sure if you lived on a farm there was lots of work and before labor laws people probably worked all the time.  Maybe in the 50’s?  I don’t know, what I do know is I would like my Saturdays to be maybe not lazier but more enjoyable.

My house always looks like a bomb has gone off in it.  One of my favorite quotes is “Cleaning the house while the children are growing is like shoveling snow while it's still snowing.” - Erma Bombeck.  I would like to get my house to a maintenance mode, so that on Saturday morning my family and I could do a Weekly Home Blessing Hour and then have the rest of the day to do projects that we really want to, or something that must be done, or just have a lazy or fun day.

If you’re like me and are working toward that goal, a simple search of the internet will bring up lots and lots of ways to declutter, deep clean and get to that point.  Here are a few of my favorites, FlyLady , Like Mother, Like Daughter (this web site has oodles of great info on everything from meal and laundry management to spring cleaning) and 40 Days to a Cleaner and More Organized Home (this is a place where you can download a daily task list posted by Maureen Wittman.)  One day I just might get to that maintenance mode and have more choices for my Saturdays.  In the mean time I’m still working on it and take it day by day.

If your Saturdays are super busy like mine here’s a simple summer meal that you might enjoy.

  • Shredded Turkey Sandwiches
  • Corn-on-the-cob
  • Simple Green Salad
  • Ice Cold Watermelon

Shredded Turkey Sandwiches
(This can feed a lot of people if need be)

  • One whole turkey or turkey breast (I usually buy extras at Thanksgiving when they are cheap and keep them in the deep freeze)
  • Onions, celery, garlic, carrots or any veggie that can add flavor (I usually clean out the fridge of any limp veggies or those on their way out.  I also clean out the freezer of past limp veggies and those on their way out that I have previously frozen in gallon bags)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Clean and cut up the turkey so that it fits into a crock pot or large kettle on the stove.  Throw in whatever veggies you have or like.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cover the whole thing with water and bring to a quick boil.  Once boiling turn down to simmer and simmer all day or longer, at least eight hours.  After cooking, drain off the broth and save.  Discard the veggies (if you’re really good and have a compost pile or chickens, like a couple of my friends, save them for that).  De-bone the turkey and shred all the meat using forks.  Pour a little of the broth over the top, just enough to moisten and then save the rest for a later recipe.  Serve up on hamburger style buns (my favorite are the fancy bakery ones) with pickle relish or barbeque sauce.

One of my favorite salads is what I call a simple green salad it’s just chopped romaine lettuce, cut up tomatoes (grape tomatoes are even easier), cut up cucumbers and sliced sweet onions (my favorite are Vidalia).  Toss it all together and serve with your favorite dressing.


Friday, July 22, 2011

From the Cobwebbed Corners of My Mind.

This post has nothing to do with faith, family or homeschooling it’s just something that I’ve been contemplating for awhile so I thought I would write about it.

Have you noticed in the past few years how Human Directionals (I just learned that that is the official name for people standing on the corner holding signs.) have popped up on just about every major street corner?  I do not get this at all!  I thought sandwich boards and human billboards were a thing of the past.  When seeing one of these Human Directionals, the first thought I have is why would anyone want to stand in 90+ degree Florida weather and hold, twirl and throw an advertising sign?  Then I think well maybe it’s the only job they could get.  I wonder how much they get paid to do that.  How much money would it take for me to be willing to stand in the Florida heat and do that job?  I think I would have to be pretty desperate, honestly I think I would rather scrub toilets in air conditioning than hold a sign and wave to people in the heat.

At one major intersection near me, there used to be an older gentleman that would hold a particularly large sign, wave a small slight wave to passers by and listen to something on a headset for hours on end.  It seemed he was constantly there.  I always wondered what he was listening to.  What if it was educational books?  Would I be willing to stand on the corner, in the heat and get paid to learn while I worked?  Still not sure, the toilets in a/c still seem more appealing.

Then I have this question, how much business does this form of advertising really bring in?  I’ve seen signs for buying gold, pawn shops, mobile devices and today one for the local emergency clinic.  There are also other businesses that think they are being clever by having their Human Directionals wear a costume.  Again, the toilets are still appealing, probably more so because I’m sure wearing a costume in the Florida heat is worse!

On one street corner down the street from my house there used to be a dancing banana that my brother was particularly fond of.  I can understand why, the guy was great!  It was a young man, wearing a felt banana costume and sunglasses.  I’m assuming he was listening to music because he was ALWAYS dancing and I don’t mean a little be-bopping, I’m talking some serious moves!  It was hilarious!  He was advertising for a smoothie place.  Not long after he appeared, he was joined by Mario and Luigi, advertising for a gaming store in the same shopping plaza.  On the opposite corner from the older gentleman with the headset sits a jewelry store.  There a young man is dressed to the hilt in a gold lame’ tuxedo, complete with a full gold glitter face mask and top hat.  This gentleman has class, he doesn’t throw or twist or shake his sign, he merely holds the sign and tips his hat to all the passers by.  He has this wild way of tipping it too, he snaps it off and down and then back up where he taps it back down on his head.  Once while waiting at the light I watched him do it no less then 25 times.  I can only imagine how hot that lame’ suit and mask are, seriously it has to be as bad as being a character out at Disney.  Although, they probably make more money and get a lot more breaks.  Again I’m going with the toilets!

So, back to the one really nagging question, how much business does this form of advertising really bring in?  Truthfully, I’m not drawn to do business with any one of those places because of their Human Directional on the corner.  It doesn’t matter how fancy their moves are either.   I might check out a new business that just moved in but beyond that I’m as drawn to them as a cat is to a bath.  Nine times out of ten the advertising is for a business I wouldn’t frequent anyway.  And if I was going to go, it wouldn’t be because of the Human Directional on the corner.  Actually, I find them annoying all that spinning and twirling, it’s distracting while you’re driving.  Plus, am I obligated to wave back if they wave to me?  I’m not super comfortable waving at strangers and is that a good example for my kids?  I mean isn’t it counter to “Don’t talk to Strangers!”?

I’m still plagued by the question, does this form of advertising work, especially in this downed economy?  I’m not convinced that it does work.  You see, the banana, Mario and Luigi, and the older gentleman with the headset are no longer on their corners.  It’s not because they’ve been fired or quit or even the Florida heat, they are no longer on the corner because the business they represented is no longer in business.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Curveballs!! When the Pitcher Life Throws Curveballs, I Almost Always Strike Out!

Google dictionary says, curve·ball  Noun:  A ball that is pitched with a snap of the wrist and a strong downward spin, which causes the ball to drop suddenly and deceptively veer away from home plate.

Now I don’t know much about baseball but I once heard someone say that it’s the curveballs that he struck out on, he did great as long as the pitcher didn’t throw a curve ball.

Strong downward spin, drop suddenly, deceptively veer away from home plate three little statements but words so powerful!  Why is it so hard to hit a curveball?  How long does it take to learn to hit it?  And, how do pitchers learn to throw them so well?!

Life is a very proficient pitcher!  It throws very challenging curveballs!

A dying friend or loved one
Nieces in hospitals
Sick children
Blown transmissions
Learning disabilities
Aging parents
Behind in school work
Over-due bills
Children moving away
Heavy work loads
Long hours
Messy houses
Mountains of laundry
Fights with your spouse
Fights with your kids
Leaking roofs
The death of a beloved pet
Exhaustion or illness
Leaking faucets and dishwashers that flood cabinets
Traveling husbands
Microwaves that turn on when you open the door
Broken cars, appliances and/or household or office equipment

Almost every time I’m thrown a curveball I fail yet again!  I swing, cursing the situation, -strike one!  I swing again, I lose it, rant and rave, take it out on hubby and the kids - strike two!  I swing a final time, complain, grumble moan and have a pity party, my heart filled with resentment and anger – strike three!  YOUR OUT!!!

WHY?!  Why can’t I swing with grace?  Why can’t I swing with a grateful heart overflowing with gratitude for all the wonderful blessings in my life?  Why can’t I hit a home run by glorifying God and praising His name in the face of a challenge?  WHY?!  What is wrong with me?  So many others not only hit home runs, but hit them out of the park!  Why can’t I learn how to hit home runs?  How do I become a GREAT ATHLETE in this game of life?  I so want to make it to home plate!

The Vancouver Province asked these questions, “What is it that makes a good athlete great? Is it the 10,000 hours of training experts say is needed to make it to the top? Or are elite athletes genetically destined to excel?”  They continue to ponder these questions by studying specific sports and talking with experts.  Maybe I should talk with experts.

The more I read I came to believe I need to put in my 10,000 hours of practice!  Practice that includes workouts with self control, a grateful heart, love, compassion and empathy.  I know that I’m genetically destined to excel because I am wonderfully made in the image and likeness of God.  And, in the depths of my soul I KNOW that I MUST spend time working with the Almighty Coach Himself.  For He can teach the skills I need for greatness.  He understands me and can motivate me.  He is tough but fair and loving.  He doesn’t yell or put me down.  He is continually willing to forgive and teach me despite my weaknesses and poor choices.   And, when all else fails He can make me laugh at myself!

So the question becomes not why can’t I do it but am I willing to?  Am I willing to put in my 10,000 hours of practice?  Am I willing to go to the Head Coach, ask for help and work out until it hurts?  Am I willing to admit my faults and stubbornness to myself and the Coach?  Do I really WANT to become the great and successful life athlete I’m genetically designed to become?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Jack Daniels, Jim Beam and Little Pink Ladies! Those five o’clock helpers of the 50’s.

I know why “Happy Hour” was instituted!  It was invented by and for housewives and stay-at-home moms!  I don’t know about you, but when five o’clock hits in my house everything goes out the window.  It doesn’t matter if we have had a particularly good day (well organized, wonderful mood, everything goes just right), or a bad one (nothing works right, disorganized, foul moods).  Either way as the clock hands inch their way to the five o’clock mark things begin to unravel!  Despite my best efforts of planning and preparation come five o’clock it’s as if someone hits a switch and changes the track direction of our home.

Five o’clock – Bickering begins, the toddlers lose their minds and begin to cry about EVERYTHING, the five year old starts her tirade of whining and tattling, the dog and the cat decide this is the best possible time to play by chasing each other through the house, tearing up the wood floor and jumping on the furniture which is not allowed!  The middle child begins to ask “What’s for dinner?”  “Can I have a snack?”  And then states as if I didn’t already know this “I’m hungry.”  Oldest disappears into his room and becomes oblivious to anything going on outside the bedroom despite the door being open and the noise level exceeding 90 decibels!  The rest of us are required to wear hearing protection but somehow he doesn’t hear a thing!  The house looks as if a bomb has gone off and the sofa has been consumed by Mount Washmore!  Dust bunnies roll freely through the house like tumbleweeds and I’m not sure what we’re going to have for dinner or if we have enough clean plates to eat it on!

I often think about all the great TV moms, Donna Reed, Marion Cunningham, June Cleaver, Laura Petrie, Margaret Anderson and think there is no way!  I must be doing something wrong!  If these women were a true representation of housewives of days gone by then we have strayed so far off the track it isn’t even funny!  My life is so busy and complicated that frequently I don’t know if I’m coming or going.  The idea that housewives of the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s were dressed to the nines in fancy dresses and pearls while doing housework intrigues me!  The thought that women greeted their husbands at the door with a kiss, around five o’clock no less, looking fabulous boggles my mind!  IF, I’m able to meet my husband at the door, I’m lucky if I’m out of my PJ’s and had a shower.  And, there isn’t usually a kiss involved it’s more like a weak smile and frazzled “I’m not good, where are we going for dinner?  Big Sigh!”

I wonder did women of days gone by really live like that?  And, if they did is it because they had a lot of help from Jack, Jim and those little Pink Ladies.  Were Jack, Jim and the Ladies nightly visitors at there homes?!  I’m not sure I want Jack, Jim or the Ladies at my house but a visit from Mary Poppins, Nanny McPhee or even Super Nanny for that matter, would be wonderful!

Since I doubt I will be having any helping visitors in the near future, I guess I’ll have to settle for putting myself in time-out, in my room, dropping to my knees and thanking God for my many blessings and graces.  And then, BEGGING for Him to PLEASE send Mary Poppins, Nanny McPhee or Super Nanny right away!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

To Blog or Not to Blog that is the Question!

(Disclaimer ~ This first post is a bit lengthy for history purposes.  I do not plan, nor do I have the time to post long posts in the future.)

I come from a family of fairly technically savvy people.  Growing up my family had several computers in the house, long before most families had a home computer.  We also usually had the latest gaming systems.  I’m dating myself but I’m pretty sure we had the first Atari gaming system.  My brother is basically self taught and has managed to make a lucrative career from his humble beginnings of playing hours of computer games, always upgrading his system by pilfering and plundering my father’s usually better computer.  I married a mechanical engineer turned IT guy.  At one point he had his own software company and he is now a Senior IT Director for a major corporation.  I was on the internet and e-mail well before people knew what the internet was and AOL was about the only e-mail system around (wish I’d bought that stock!).  I have done my fair share of desk-top publishing and I know my way around a computer pretty well.  What I don’t know I can usually figure out or get instruction from my hubby, father, brothers or son.

When Classmates.com, Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and Blogging started popping up I really didn’t pay close attention.  I mean really, I’m so busy that I barely have time to keep up with my 50 e-mail’s (mostly spam, I’m not that popular) a day!  I joined Facebook before I truly knew what it was.  When an old classmate from high school who never spoke to me in high school wanted me to be their friend I thought “What in the heck is this?!”.  I quickly tried to cancel my account, when I found I couldn’t really ever cancel it I sort of freaked out.

The little I knew about blogging I learned from my mother.  We have a mutual acquaintance that had a blog; my mom shared it with me and from what I could tell it was simply an on-line diary that the whole world could read.  Frankly I didn’t get it!  And, when I found out about Twitter I got that even less.  Especially after I read about a woman who tweeted throughout her entire labor up until she pushed the baby out!!  Now I’ve had five children, while most of them were c-sections, I did have active labor with four and one traditional birth.  There is NO WAY I would have tweeted while I was in labor!!!  I could barely breathe let alone tweet!

I hate to admit it but I feel like I’ve turned into someone from an older generation, an antiquated, old fashioned, stubborn woman who refuses to keep up with the times!  I just don’t get it and don’t feel like I have the time to get it!  While it is my hubby’s job to be up to date or at least have employees who are up to date on all the latest social media etc., he really isn't into all of it either.  So, when several of my friends and family suggested I start a blog I thought they were out of their minds!

I must admit I have thought about and have wanted to write a book for years!  I have one friend in particular that no matter what I say, even if I’m not trying to be funny, insists that I “Crack her up!”  Often when I’m recounting an experience or telling a story to others they laugh, even though I’m not really trying to be funny.  I enjoy writing and even public speaking, so when I read the Strengths Finder 2.0 book, took the assessment and found out that communication was my number one strength it wasn’t really a surprise.  It was more of a validation that my desire was in fact one of my personal strengths.

People continued to encourage me to write a blog, I continued to resist, then I came across two blogs (http://www.aholyexperience.com/ and http://ourmothersdaughters.blogspot.com/ ) that changed my entire attitude about blogs.  Being an unorganized, discombobulated stay-at-home wife, mother, homeschooler, small business owner and not to mention SHE (sidetracked home executive) I have just about ZERO time to read anything let alone a blog.  Honestly, if I can’t read it in the bathroom it doesn’t get read!  And even that gets interrupted by some household member or family pet!  Seriously, when my ear touches the telephone receiver or my rear-end hits the toilet seat it is then that I am in the highest demand!  On a rare occasion I will take a few minutes to read a post from one of the above mentioned blogs.  When I do, I’m usually moved or affirmed or the words just speak to my heart and I am changed or reminded things are OK and life is good.

I had been thinking of starting a blog for about a year now, but I got hung up on the name.  I really wanted something like Proverbs 31 Woman but that was taken.  Then I started thinking about it and thought I’m no where near the Proverbs 31 woman!  So I thought I would use Proverbs 31 Woman Wanna Be, but I wasn’t completely convinced that that was the right title either.  As a result, I just kind of sat on the idea that one day I might have a blog when or if the right name came to me.

The last seven months have been challenging to say the least.  Growing up I remember my mother often quoting Robert W. Service, “It isn't the mountain ahead that wears you out; it's the grain of sand in your shoe.”  Well as of right now I have two full shoes that need empting!  In June during a VERY busy VBS week I made the comment that I am at my wit’s end, that’s when it came to me!  The title of my blog would be At Wit’s End!  As I started the process of setting up the blog the URL at “wits end” was taken so I began to play around and asked my older kids opinion and came up with the current title which in my opinion really sums up my life!

GoEnglish.com states When you have been thinking about a problem, and you are not able to come up with a good answer, you are at wit's end.  As I read that at first I thought maybe the title isn’t right, because I had thought at wit's end was more a state of confusion, delirium and mess.  But then I let the words settle in and ruminate in my heart and soul and I realized it really is the perfect name because in my broken human state I don’t have most or hardly any of the answers in this messy wonderful life.  I MUST continually turn to the Lord for the answers.  And really Living At Wit’s End I’m sure is where God wants me to be, constantly turning to him for answers and direction!

Therefore, now that I have a name - to answer the question, to blog or not to blog I think I’ll blog!