Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Birthday to the Love of my Life

51 years ago today, with only 5 hours left in the year 1957, Greg's parents welcomed their first child, a son. 24 years later, I had the awesome privilege of meeting this man at Wheaton College, the second day I was there. And eventually, after a false start or two, we made it to the altar, February 2, 1985.

When we were dating, I remember him saying he didn't think he would work at one job his whole life. And as you do when you are dating, I opened my starry eyes even wider and said that was fine with me. We went through a time where there were several job changes and it wasn't as alright with me as I thought it was, but we got through it.

I remember him telling me that he expected to keep his wedding vows his whole life. And I believed him then and I believe him now. He meant what he said. As did I.

The most amazing thing is that Greg has demonstrated an unconditional love for me for the past 26 years, accepting me even when I couldn't see the good in me. I credit his love for getting me to the place where I now believe in love. I'd like to say it was a Scripture verse or some sermon that really cemented in me the idea that I am lovable, but it came through the daily experience of being with someone who loved me through thick and thin.

Not only is he a great husband, he is a great father. I am so blessed to have this man in my life and I thank God for every day I get to have with Greg.

Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Saving Darwin or The History of My Views on Creationism

This won't be as boring as it sounds, I promise.

So, I learned at mommy's knee that God created the heavens and the earth and he did it in six days. (That's why I had to take naps on Sunday afternoons.) 'Nuff said.

Later, I heard about evolution, but knew it couldn't be true. See above.

Still later, I had a friend who was really into creationism and felt really strongly that you should believe in a literal 6-day creation. Really Strongly. I figured that there wasn't any way to know for sure, and that God was capable of doing it any way he felt like.

And then later, I had pretty much settled on the God-can-do-it-however-He-pleases viewpoint on how we got here, although evolution has never made much sense to me. I even taught my kids this viewpoint!

Now they are in a class where we are back to the 6-days-of-creation belief. I do like the idea of God having created us. It sure makes sense with what I see of the beauty and amazing design in life and love.

Then, I found this book. Subtitled: How to be a Christian and Believe in Evolution. So I read it. And I found some eye-opening details about evolution.

From page 166: "Decades of reflecting on the evolution controversy convinces me that the conflict is only tangentially scientific. Those who would adjudicate this dispute by appealing to science are wasting their time. The conflict is not about determining the proper inferences to draw from fossils, genes, and comparative anatomy. The conflict . . . centers on one simple question: Can there be any role at all for God in our own creation story?"

Which bring me back to the place I was before. God, being God and all, can do things however He wants. Why not? Why is it either/or? There are so many amazing things about our bodies, our minds, our relationships that don't seem like they could arise randomly. And yet there seems to be evidence that evolution does exist. I'm ok with having my creation and evolving it, too.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Remember Why I Started this Blog??

Yes, that's right. To tell you about all my decluttering adventures. And there have been a few. And maybe it's because our kids keep getting bigger, as does their stuff, but the decluttering seems to be just a drop in the bucket. Not that the kids are clutter, or their stuff. Heavens, nay. Wouldn't trade 'em!

I just spend an awful lot of time looking for this paper, or that widget, or a certain person's glasses. The rest of the good folks in this house also have to look for things, so often we are missing a key textbook, a wallet, a wad of cash, a pair of shoes, or maybe just one shoe, or even a certain person's glasses.

My decluttering has kind of come down to this. Find Kepler's glasses. So, I'm working my way through the house. So far, they are not to be found. He does have a pair to wear, but I'd love to find the newer ones so when I buy the next pair (in January owing to his changing prescription), I could use the very very new frames I bought in October and which he wore only one day.

FlyLady is helpful when it comes to decluttering. Do I really have to accept that I will not actually be able to get everything decluttered perfectly ever? Will it always be a work in progress? I'm thinking so. Setting the timer for another 15 minutes . . .

PS. Who's this Wayne Fox guy? Maybe he can help me get things Neat and Tidy!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Does Every New Thing HAVE to Cause an Identity Crisis for Me?

So I've been looking into something recently that has put me in contact with people from my past -- high school, college, jobs, etc.

It's been fun.

And it's been a drag.

It's like my brain must be hard-wired to compare myself to other people. Or maybe I'm just susceptible to certain ideas of what I perceive as failure.

When I talk with people from the past, I notice how many of them I had fallen out of contact with. Of course I do realize that it's a two-way street, and some of them have fallen out of the circle due to choices they, not I, have made.

But still.

I'm already feeling relatively disconnected from any kind of social support system, other than my family of origin. And as I'm resurrecting some of these relationships, I'm asking myself, What happened? How did I lose contact with all these people? And why?

I don't want my life to be defined by all the things I have left -- churches, schools, colleges, communities, groups, friendships, teams. And who would define it that way other than me myself? Maybe others. Maybe not. But how do I define myself?

I guess it's one of those questions Rainer Maria Rilke talks about in this quote:

" patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now."

-Letters to a Young Poet

Saturday, December 27, 2008

check out this guy's blog

I think it's great!

Friday, December 26, 2008

About Christmas

My fine parents with whom I am blessed to celebrate another Christmas.

Anna-Jessie checking to see if the sewing machine box really holds a sewing machine or if its false advertising.

Valerie snuggling with her beautiful new blanket.

Greg snuggling with his replacement GPS.

Joel holding up his new Ikea chair.

Eli anticipating the next gift, looking smooth in his new UnderArmor shirt.

Mom and Valerie posing with Val's gift to me, the soundtrack from Fireproof and an advance copy of the DVD!

Kepler enjoying his new Magna Doodle.

Hooked on Gregory House, MD

A few years ago, I had occasion to watch the first episode of the first season of House. Decided it wasn't for me, mostly because it was pretty explicit and I thought maybe I shouldn't watch it. So, I didn't for a long time. For some reason, a few months ago, I decided to give it another try. My lovely friend, Jean, loaned me Seasons 1-3 on DVD. Well, armed with the DVDs, a great program on my computer to convert them to ipod files, and a super-duper video ipod, I started watching, and got more and more intrigued by the characters, especially House.

He's rotten, that's for sure. But he's extremely clever, and way smart, and you just have to believe there is a heart in there somewhere.

I think one of the things that drew me to this show was Hugh Laurie because I had seen him in Jeeves and Wooster, and I couldn't imagine him playing an American. Also Robert Sean Leonard, all grown up, from his heart-wrenching role in Dead Poets Society. And it didn't take me long to get hooked on the medical mystery side of things.

The picture I've posted here is from an episode where Dave Matthews played a musical savant, and at one point he finishes a composition House had started in junior high but never finished. The music is beautiful.

There are shocking things in some episodes. Heart-wrenching things in many episodes, and such excellent casting overall. I have really enjoyed this show, and am sorry that I have only 5 or 6 more episodes that I have not yet seen. A great show.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

I think this dream means I am making progress

How many times have I had this dream? I am back in high school in the dream, although I am also the college graduate I am IRL. I look and look and look for my classroom, but simply cannot find it. I walk and walk and walk and nothing makes sense. I chose the spiral staircase because one of the dreams had me walking up and down stairs, stairs and more stairs looking for my college math class, which I could not find, and which I subsequently wasn't doing very well in.

Last night, I had a similar dream, but this time I had found the teacher, she was grading my test, and I was finding out how many questions I had missed. Good news was, I KNEW I knew this material, having had it many years ago in high school, and I was clear that I only missed these questions because I couldn't find the %^(&* classroom.

At least I had made progress.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's a Wonderful Life! OR Vandals Steal GPS!

Greg has been with Toyota for 8 Christmases and has never wanted to go to the office Christmas party. This year, I asked him if he would like to go, because I thought I would. It was a small party, just his division, due to budget-cutting implementation company-wide. We had dinner at the smallest restaurant I have ever seen, then drove just a couple miles to see the play, It's a Wonderful Life. We sat in the second-to-last row and I heartily enjoyed the play. The music was wonderful, the acting was very good for a community theater presentation, and we enjoyed sitting with friends and co-workers. After the play, we all streamed out into the cold night and walked over to the parking lot. Greg opened my door and as I sat in the passenger seat, I noticed some kind of strange reflection on the driver's seat, which quickly became identified as all the driver's side window glass, broken out by vandals. I called out for Greg, and got out of the car. One other car had been broken into as well. Both had GPS units which were stolen. The police were summoned, but with little expectation that either unit could be recovered. Greg's co-workers were wonderful in helping us with something to sweep out the glass, letting me sit in another car to keep warm, and even offering to drive me all the way home if Greg was going to have to wait for the police. We were on the complete other side of Cincinnati, so we rode home with lots of highway noise. Sunday, I asked Greg to put this Christmas cellophane on my window because I figured if I was going to have to make do with a pretend window, I wanted it to be festive!

Our fine insurance company had a glass specialist in our driveway Monday afternoon and we had a new window less than 48 hours after it had gotten broken out. Alas, no GPS anymore, which was sad because Greg really enjoyed using his GPS. We heard that if you have registered your GPS, you can give the serial number to the police and they may be able to locate it, being a GPS and all. As of this writing, we didn't actually try that.

But the whole experience really reminded me of what a wonderful life we do have. Presumable, the vandals stole the GPS for reasons like money for drugs, sell it cheap to have money, or maybe something more understandable like desperate need for money to support a family. Whatever. I would have preferred not to be vandalized and would definitely have preferred not to have Greg lose his GPS, but how can I possibly complain when I DO have a wonderful life. I thought of the many people who do not have the kind of insurance we have, and who drive around with ugly plastic and duct tape posing as a "window." I thought of the many people who experience crimes against them and I felt the tiniest understanding of what that feels like. We are just so blessed.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Having to Say Goodbye to My Personal Trainer

So, this summer I decided to go back to a personal trainer. I thought maybe I could drop some weight and get into better shape, plus I remembered really loving lifting weights when I did it five years ago. I started out with a particular trainer, but shortly thereafter, he had a college class which conflicted with my schedule, so I transferred temporarily to my trainer, Mark. It didn't take long to realize I had great chemistry with Mark, so I transferred permanently to him.

In November, he missed several sessions due to illness, but turns out the illness was stress-related since he was interviewing for and taking a corporate job, which would make him unavailable as a trainer. Keeping this secret from all of his clients and friends was pretty stressful.

I don't have a picture. I only have a lot of really wonderful memories of working out with him training me. Greg and I trained together several times with Mark as well. Last Saturday was my final session with him.

I will miss him saying, "You DO have this in you." "Don't give the weight more respect than it deserves." and "Let's go out for pancakes." (his favorite thing to say to someone who is working his or her glutes off to get rid of all the pancakes already ingested) and my personal favorite: "That was impressive."

I wish him well in his new job. I am also delighted that he thinks he will be coming back part-time in a couple of months to train a few clients, of which I am apparently one. Just will have to wait and see, I guess.

One funny thing: I knew of him five years ago, although I was training with a different trainer. Mark's first comment to me was typical of him, a humorous jab at something I was wearing. Back then, I was HIGHLY indignant and SUPER unimpressed. Thank God I have grown over the past five years to not be quite as easily offended and to have the privilege of working with such a super trainer.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Finally! Inspiration!

After several weeks of no posts, I have finally got my blogging groove back. Enjoy the new posts. I have several scheduled to post over the next several days, so in between egg nog and unwrapping gifts, enjoy my little gifts to you.

Getting Fitted for a Bra is NOT Necessarily a Better Idea than Getting One off the Rack

OK, So I don't have red hair that goes out to a point. But I definitely have some "professionally" "fitted" "bras" that make those lightning bolt things. I realize that some people with delicate constitutions read my blog (when there is actually something to read), so let's just suffice it to say that I think the "professional" "bra" "fitter" is probably still ROFLOL at the bras she convinced me to buy. "What size do you normally wear?" she asks. I tell her. "Oh, no, she says, you need at least a [two-inch-smaller] size." What do I know? I let her talk me into it. And so I have spent the last year (what is WRONG with me??) feeling like my cups (and everything else) runneth over, if you know what I mean. Perhaps the ones I bought myself, with my pathetic non-professional sizing techniques, were not the ones she would have chosen, but I've decided that you can HAVE your "professional" "bra" "fitters" who even have cool little certificates certifying their "fitting" techniques and prowess. Not! So, my "professional" opinion: figure it out yourself unless you want to be MIGHTY uncomfortable. My apologies to any professional bra fitters who may be reading my blog. YMMV.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hello, She Panted, While Running as Fast as She Can

The glasses are lost, lost, lost. I have turned the basement upside down and not found them. We went to the eye doc yesterday and he needs NEW glasses! Yea! So, I will wisely wait until 12:01 a.m. 1/1/09 to get them so the benefit is available. The new glasses will include BIFOCALS! Yea!

I'm behind, behind, behind. You know how I homeschool, right? Well, I've noticed a distinct lack of homeschooling occurring lately. But, SOMEHOW I will remedy this. The kids have things they can do on their own every day, but SOMEHOW I am managing to be gone, gone, gone much of each day and even some evenings! Yea!

I'm strong, strong, strong. Since this is my blog, I feel fine mentioning that the other day when I was lifting weights, I did an exercise known as pullovers. For the few of you who have never done these -- the very strong person (me, in this case) lies perpendicular across a weight bench, with the upper back resting on the bench. The fine personal trainer then hands the VSP one dumbbell of some weight. The VSP then places both hands on one end of the weight and lowers it behind their head, and then lifts it back up. For your information, I did this exercise with a FIFTY pound dumbbell. For five reps. This is amazing.

It's busy, busy, busy. The number of things I have to do have exponentially increased in direct relationship to the number of free hours I have in a day. I think the formula is something like this: d+t=b4 x n (where n is the number of children in the house) ÷ b/t.

I love you all.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Lost and Found

Lost: Kepler's glasses.
Duration: Long enough that I decided to buy a new pair.
Found: Wrapped around the bars of his crib, five days after I ordered the new pair.

Lost: Important insurance papers.
Duration: Two Weeks.
Found: Yesterday, in the space between the cabinet and the fridge.

Lost: Kepler's NEW glasses.
Duration: Since about 4 hours after I put them on him for the first time.
Found: NO. And I've looked everywhere. My goal is to find them before his eye doctor appt next Wednesday!

Just a little snippet of life in the fast lane.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Housecleaning, er, Homeschooling this week

There should also be a dictionary, car keys, and a thermometer in her hands. This week, we homeschooled, yes indeed, but we also cleaned like maniacs. I just think I reached critical mass on how much clutter I could stand. So, out it went. We did less book work this week, but some good life skills work. Somebody please tell me how many weeks down and how many to go!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Last Christmas's Least Practical or Useful Gift

Last Christmas we went a little crazy in the gift-buying department. One of the gifts we bought for Kepler was a neato set of playdough -- 20 cans of excellent colors. He seemed a little young for it, so I put it in a box under Greg's end table by his chair. Long about April, I got some out and offered it to him. He liked it about as much as pond slime. Put it away. Offered it again in July. Still didn't think he wanted to be associated with it at all. Along about September, Kepler discovered the box. And he learned how to slide it out from under the table. We learned how to slide it back in, over and over and over. So, the past two months, I have been gathering up empty playdough cans, along with large hunks of playdough that have been liberated from their cans and left in interesting places. I think we're down to two or three cans. He STILL doesn't like the playdough, except to liberate each color systematically. I'm sure he has enjoyed it, just not like the manufacturer, or the giver, intended. I'm learning to be detached from the outcome and this seems like a perfect time to practice!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

10 Years Ago Today

Actually, 10 years ago yesterday, I was sitting in the midwife's office with Greg, 14 days past my due date with baby #4. We all decided to give it overnight and see if baby decided to make an appearance. If not, I would show up at the hospital at 6 am and we would induce labor. Baby didn't, so we showed up the next morning. After simply breaking my water, I went into bigtime labor and 3 hours later, Anna-Jessie was born, all 11 lbs 7 oz of her. There was only one other baby born in the hospital that day, and the teeny little thing was only 5 lb 10 oz. THAT mom was sailing around the hospital like she had just finished a 5k. I on the other hand was recovering from my natural childbirth, and there was a little recovery involved after birthing such a toddler-sized baby. What a sweet girl this one is and how she blesses us every day. Happy Birthday, Anna-Jessie!

Friday, October 31, 2008

A Little Rocky This Week

But we're still hanging in there. When you're homeschooling, there are so many details to cover in the education, let alone all the tasks that need to get done to keep a household running, let ALONE any of the bigger tasks one might like to address. I'm probably the millionth mother to write this post, but it's true! Sometimes it all just gets a little overwhelming.

Good week, though, in many ways. I became aware of the need to create a schedule we can stick to on a regular basis. I think my kids experience my inconsistency as something that helps them be inconsistent in their own completion of tasks. So, that's my job for this weekend. Make a schedule. I'll let you know how it works next week.

Highlights of the week. Anna-Jessie finished one of her math workbooks/textbooks, which is a good accomplishment for all of us. Joel went with me to my personal training session yesterday afternoon and he and I were instructed to do a tug-of-war, four of them actually, and that was fun. I'll keep it under wraps what our win-loss records were.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Button, Button Update

This group of people has been diligently searching for an answer to my question about what to do with all the paper. I think the trash can is a good suggestion for some, but not all, of my paper. The Genie GS-1930 could probably hold most, if not all, of my paper, but I heard those things are really expensive. I also like the idea of drawing random numbers and taping the papers to chairs, although I'm not sure that's really a very good suggestion for my particular situation.

Good news, friends. I DIDN'T LOSE THE KROGER CARD REPORT. I hadn't received it yet. Isn't that good to know. So, I'm going to dismiss this group of hard-working people and let them go on with their coffee break, or whatever, and keep on working on the problem myself.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Homeschooling with a 2-Year Old

Homeschooling with a 2-year-old is, what would be the word? . . . Exciting! Yes, that's it! Exciting! Let's all pause for a moment to thank the Lord for getting me through another Exciting! day of homeschooling with a 2-year-old making regular contributions to the aural and visual stimulation portion of our day.

Monday, October 27, 2008

OK, I Guess Everyone Must Be Busy

so I'll go ahead and make some suggestions myself.

Keep a basket on the counter to put today's important papers into. At the end of each day, take five minutes to put each paper into its own place, a place you have designated ahead of time, otherwise, you may end up with the result I often end up with -- an EXCELLENT place to put something right now, but later I can't remember where that excellent place is.

Allow yourself some particular amount of time to read an interesting article or magazine. Maybe a week? Maybe a month. But resolve that you will discard the item if it has not been handled within the time frame. Perhaps a post-it with the "due" date on it will be a good visual reminder of what needs to be handled promptly.

For important paper systems, in my case, the flex spending and Kepler's paperwork, for two examples, keep a notebook with the papers filed chronologically and a summary page in the front. (Now, that sounds hunky-dory and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to someone, but is it really possible to keep up with these kinds of systems?)

Use a tickler file. 31 files with the numbers 1-31 representing the days of the month. File papers in the appropriate day, like in the date file you need to mail the item. And put all those items with "due" duates into the tickler file as well.

Realize that you can't read everything. As you are whittling down your piles, think about each item -- why are you reading it? What do you want from it? What do you think you will get from reading this? And what will you do with that info after you read it?

So, that will get me started. Feel free to chime in at any time.

Button, Button, Who's Got the Doggone Kroger Card Report?

I am drowning in paper. If it's not the 9 foot long library receipt, it's the six inch long receipts from Kroger and Office Max and Walgreen's and Lowe's (no, wait, Lowe's receipts are always at least two feet long even if you only buy one thing), Michael's, Target, and if it's not the receipts, it's the wonderful magazines and articles that are crying to be read or the papers I need to keep track of for reimbursements and rebates and returns, and if it's not the articles and rebate forms, it's the adorable pictures and papers drawn and written by my children over the course of their combined 53 years and as you know, FIFTY-THREE YEARS of accumulation is a LONG time.

So, how to get a handle on this situation? I have papers in every nook and cranny, on every flat surface, and in every drawer and file. And, to top it all off, the Kroger report, that I REALLY NEED, is missing. I sort of remember it coming in the mail, and I maybe put it on top of the microwave, and then alertly moved it to the other counter, then alertly put it in the family room when I cleaned off the counter, etc., etc. The problem is, I DO have a Kroger Card file into which I really think I would have put such a thing.

Please, dear readers, all thousand of you, please give me your most pithy, succinct way to get this paper avalanche under control. Oh, by the way, I DO throw a lot of things away. Help Help Help!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

9 Down, 27 to Go - Part II

First of all, no I did not draw this, nor did anyone I know. I just liked it because it is an image of a student and I had a couple extra students for part of the week this week.

A serendipitous occurrence on Monday. Instead of leaving Eli and Anna-Jessie home with Kepler, I took them with me to PEP. Wow, was it ever nice to get five solid hours of work done on Monday, rather than expecting them to work on their own and feel like I'm not really getting off to a very good start. So, new schedule starting this week -- they will go along to PEP as well. Kepler will stay here with my sister.

I had two of my friend's children here from Saturday night to Wednesday afternoon and since they are homeschooled, I just added them right into the mix. I enjoyed having them here and teaching them along with my own kids.

A highlight of the week was Tuesday afternoon when I took the four of them, plus Kepler, plus Joel, over to the park to do the parcourse, take a walk and play on the playground. These children have known each other since birth since their mothers have been best friends for many years. I loved watching them walk down the path, the two boys with their heads together talking, and the two girls side by side smiling and laughing. At the end of the walk and the parcourse the playground waited for us and this was Kepler's favorite part. Kep got brave enough to slide headfirst down the tube slide and then he did it over and over, yelling gleefully as he slid down.

It was a beautiful day with the leaves turning and a little feeling of fall in the air.

STILL love the curriculum and what we are doing this year. I have realized though that my goal of completing the 900 hours of instruction as the state requires may not work out to 27 more weeks. 27 more weeks takes me to the end of May, which is when I would like to finish for the year. I'm not averaging 25 hours per week yet, so that's something to work on. But we sure are learning a lot.

Friday, October 24, 2008

9 Down (Standing in a Puddle), 27 to Go (Water, Water Everywhere) Part I

These rules came in handy this morning (although I was tempted not to follow #2), the morn upon which I was going to stride purposefully forth homeschooling every spare moment. Alas AND alack, helpful son #1 let me know we had a flood in the basement. It didn't occur to me to use the flood as an object lesson for my students -- properties of water and whatnot. All I could think was "ohboyohboyohboy what am I going to do?" Greg was, this morning, still in Alabama, and alas and alack again, my decluttering efforts in the basement are in SERIOUS need of attention so I had to move stuff and pick up dripping things and shove stuff out of the way and ponder why in the world the drain wasn't draining and wonder how I was going to get this water cleaned up.

Chortling now, I'm remembering that I had the idea that I was going to CLEAN UP the water, and make a serious dent in the decluttering today and maybe even homeschool a bit on the side. Delusional.

It's raining, first of all, and after the initial jolt of adrenalin keeping me floating above the ground as I bantered with the children and cooked them a hot breakfast, my natural nesting instincts kicked in and I needed a nap really bad.

I vacuumed up a bunch of water -- 4 seconds at a time because it would fill up my vacuum basin in that amount of time, but had to run because one of my children had to go to the DOCTOR (always so inconvenient! jk joel) and by the time I got home, ate some lunch, and had the all-important nap, I discovered the water had gone away all by itself. Maybe the drain just wanted some privacy. Alas and alack for the third time, some of the water had SEEPED under Valerie's wall into her carpet and padding. Oh joy.

You know, it's amazing how exactly much stuff one child can place in a room. So, after about 50 trips across the room, I got the desk moved and all of its accompanying detritus. Pulled up the carpet, looked at the soaking wet padding, slowly stood up, backed out of the room, and came to do a blog post.

As for educating the little sponges this week, stay tuned for the next post where I tell you all of my adventures.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

8 Weeks Done, 28 to Go

Well, here I am 40% through this week and I haven't even written my post from last week! Truth is, it wasn't the best week we've had this year. I mean, it was still a pretty good week, but I didn't get that many hours in. Every so often I get kind of tired of persevering and striding purposefully forth with making sure that I homeschool each and every available minute. When that doesn't happen, sometimes I start feeling guilty about not doing enough, and eventually that feeling becomes extremely pesky and burdensome.

I mean, at any given moment, I feel like it is REQUIRED for me to be attending to more than one thing and last week I was trying to figure out if it is possible to do what needs to be done and not just be on autopilot. It's hard to ever stop to breathe or smell the proverbial roses when I am running a marathon where there is a finish line and/or a deadline.

So, this was a week where I added in a few extra things, and ended up reaching the limits of what I could attend to and get done. But I ended the week with an overnight visit to my BFF and that was a wonderful pick-me-up encouraging time.

Highlight of the week was probably staying home Thursday morning instead of going to Kepler's play group, in order to re-group and have a minute to catch my breath. Also, we had the extended family October-birthday birthday dinner and after we eat, I led the group in playing a couple of the theater games I played with my kids a few weeks ago. It was extremely enjoyable to see everyone, even the normally reticent, joining in and laughing uproariously.

Still love the curriculum. Still love homeschooling. This week, trying to get everything done felt very tricky, but seeing as I am writing this in the NEXT week, I can guarantee you that THIS week is going much better!

Friday, October 17, 2008

13 Years Ago Tuesday (Told You I Was Busy)

I guess we were all a little shell-shocked right after the birth
Eli has had time to get used to being in the world.
Child of the 90's: Doing JumpStart Toddlers while in the high chair. (Love the computer stand?)
Eli has always loved helping with the laundry (well, not so much anymore).
Living the life of a gardener to its fullest.

Eli was born, five days after his due date, and not a moment too soon. Since Joel had burst into the world with a mere 3 hour labor, and the hospital was 1 hour away, we erred on the early side with Eli. Labored all night and said hello to him at 5:30 in the morning. One of the noteworthy aspects of that hospital stay was that because of the time he was born, and the time of day I left the hospital, although I arrived Friday minutes after midnight, and didn't leave until Sunday afternoon, our insurance only had to pay for one day of hospital care.

At only 9 lbs 12 oz, he seemed small compared to the first two. Of course, he wasn't small -- I noticed that at about 5:35 am, but all babies seem very tiny at the beginning.

Eli brings so much energy and joy into our lives. He is a passionate boy who feels everything at least twice as deeply as most other people I know. This makes for some REALLY high highs, and some really low lows. But how sweet to see this boy taking care of his little brother -- they seem to have a special bond, and I love to hear Kepler laughing at Eli's antics.

Eli has always loved colors. Much of his artwork is filled with intense colors, especially purple, and he often fills every inch of the canvas. He certainly does know how to get the most out of an experience.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The worst Blogger in the World . . .

is CERTAINLY not yours truly! And yet, my blogging frequency has dwindled, declined, tapered, withered, slacked off. Could it be that I am BUSY? All I know is I had to cancel an appointment today in order to have a day to do some of those little pesky things like clean the utility sink (for real), cut another section of Kepler's hair, place an order long overdue, and other similarly exciting and important things.

Here's the thing. I am sure I am the 7,600,428th blogger to post a similar post (you know: golly i can't think of anything to say so i am posting that really important fact). Actually, in my case, I don't think it's not having anything to say, as much as just trying to find the time to say it.

To prove my point, I will now write multiple posts which will post at pre-ordained times over the next one or two or even three days and you can again be treated to some of Siouxsie's Musings.

Friday, October 10, 2008

7 Weeks in the Basket, 29 to Go

What a great week!

I am convinced that my continuing practice of doing "morning pages" is making a huge difference in how my days go. (In Julia Cameron's words: : The morning pages are three pages of stream-of-consciousness longhand morning writing. You should think of them not as "art" but as an active form of meditation for Westerners. In the morning pages we declare to the world—and ourselves—what we like, what we dislike, what we wish, what we hope, what we regret, and what we plan.) Getting all the cobwebs out of my brain first thing in the morning seems to be making me much more able to be creative and energetic all day long.

Friday is always my big homeschool day because every other day is interrupted at least once by some appointment.

I think the highlight of the week was two-fold. First, an emphasis on seeing God as loving, and fitting everything else into that understanding (or not fitting it, but having that understanding). Second, an ongoing discussion about love which expanded into several things, including a persuasive essay activity where the kids created dialogues between two people who held differing viewpoints on what they were trying to be persuasive about. These two kids so love to be creative. They got behind closed doors and worked and worked on their dialogues. Then they both crammed into one desk chair and typed up the dialogues. Finally, they performed them for me, and later for Greg. Don't tell anyone, but I was actually persuaded!

Had some GREAT discussions that arose from several books we are reading, and we were lucky enough to have Joel in the room while we read the very biased history book, which is pretty strong on talking about how bad the European explorers were, and minimizing any bad things that the Native Americans did. Joel was pretty amazed at how much the book left out. So, he gave us a little history lesson, too.

Still love the curriculum. Love teaching the kids. Best year ever homeschooling.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Happy Birthday to . . . . ME!

My sweet Anna-Jessie posted on her blog today and wrote a very lovely post about me. Here it is.

This is the best birthday I have ever had. I am happier than I have ever been in my life. I have a huge sense of being blessed, with my husband, my kids, my family of origin, my best friends, my other friends, the job I have as full-time mom, my health, my humor and just being glad to be me.

Sidenote: In searching the internet for this post's illustration, I saw that there is actually an entry in wikipedia for the number 47. Wow, who comes up with this stuff? Who has time to figure out or notice where this number shows up in astronomy, movies, television, etc? I did enjoy finding out it is the 15th prime number. And now you know.

Happy Birthday to everyone else born 10/4!

6 Weeks Fulfilled, 30 Weeks Yet to Fill

Aha! The truth is, some weeks are more noteworthy than others. This week would be an "other." We worked on spelling, history, math, math, math, writing, grammar, physical education, geography, civics, government, typing, computer skills, good citizenship, and some of our group worked on working steadily while mommy went to work out.

Well, I STILL love the curriculum I have chosen, I am STILL pleased with the progress we are making, and I am STILL glad to be homeschooling. I THOUGHT about taking pictures this week.

The highlight of the week this week: we decided to walk to the park today, we being Eli, Anna-Jessie, Kepler, and me. Kepler's legs are only about thiiiiiiiiis long so he doesn't walk fast. And we took a new path through the front yards of our neighbors instead of walking on the street. Our neighbors have such interesting climbing trees, and little walls by the driveway that one can JUMP off of. So instead of making it all the way to the park, we only made it three doors up the street, but we certainly did have a good time. I wisely added in a trip to the library for the edification of my students and because I knew Kepler would fall asleep, which he desperately needed to do.

So, it's not all algorithms and alphabetical order and gerunds and split infinitives around here. Sometimes it's also exploration, and sunshine, and experiential education. And sometimes, it's both!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Five Days Since My Last Post?!?!

What in the world have I been doing?

Well, the truth is, another has stolen my heart, or at least my attention for the time being. I set up a blog for our homeschool organization this week and it took some doing to get an email sent out to everyone about it. Feel free to check it out right here. I promise I will be more thoughtful, trustworthy, and regularly posting.

Monday, September 29, 2008

The IDEA of working in a cubicle

I've done it in the past. Worked in a little cubicle with all my office supplies neatly placed in a drawer and all my papers spread across the surface. A few times I've been lucky enough to have one of those overhead luggage compartments where I could keep additional Important Items like extra Rolodex™ cards and While You Were Out™ message pads. Usually, those jobs were paper-pushing, which I am QUITE good at, I might add.

So, this week I motored myself and Eli over to the newspaper office (he's a junior carrier) to cash in his Bonus Points for a $15 Best Buy gift card. We were led back into the warren of cubicles by BPL (Bonus Points Lady) to her desk where we completed the transaction.

My sweet Eli said, Wow, Mom, I think it would be cool to work in one of these cubicles.

I have no doubt in my mind that there are people out there who LOVE working in their cubicles. May I just say though that I am NOT one of the people who would like to do that.

I love being a stay-at-home mom, or SAHM for you savvy internetters. I love seeing my kids' smiles. I love having daily challenges that are clearly making me a better mom, better wife, better person, and better friend. I can't think of any job in the world that would suit me better. I love the freedom that comes with my schedule -- even though it is busy, I can pretty much be my own boss when it comes to today's schedule, jobs, errands, and activities.

At Kepler's play group this morning, I had Eli and Anna-Jessie along and one of the other moms said, "No school today?" Of course, I told her I homeschool and she about fell over, especially when she found out we have five kids. She said she would like to homeschool her 15-year-old for one year but her ex-husband is not in favor of it. I hear things like that so often. But the one I hear more than any is "I could never do that."

Well, after having access to fresh air, windows, comfortable chairs and lighting, lots and lots of fun times with the kids (none of which I experienced in any of my cubicles) -- while I COULD work in a cubicle again, I would not WANT to.

And I hope my dear boy expands his horizons enough to decide he doesn't want to either.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Magic Food

As though part of some Jungian collective memory, I imagine all the people who used to go to Pizza Inn together after Sunday night church. What did they experience? My sisters and I, grade school students all, would stand mesmerized in front of the jukebox while Sugarloaf growled out Green-eyed-lady, Ocean lad-eh, our young faces glowing red and green in the light of the songboard. As much as I loved hymns, they had NOTHING on Sugarloaf, or Three Dog Night "Onnnnne is the loneliest number that you'll ever do. Two can be as sad as one, it's the loneliest number since the number wunh-unnnnnne."

Pizza Magic.

Memorized deep in my muscles is the feeling I had when we left Pizza Inn one Sunday evening only to find our car wouldn't start. Never mind that we were only 9 miles from home and less than 2 to my grandma's house. This tragic event had at least two of us girls scared enough to throw up all our pizza against the side of the building, as the starter clicked uselessly. Even after a jump a short while later (from the uncle who lived 2 minutes away), my little digestive system was terribly upset, so we had to stop in front of Kenwood Mall where I "fertilized" the bushes in front. Why we didn't just drive the 400 feet back to the Pizza Inn so I could use an actual bathroom?

Pizza Magic.

My heart pitty-patted the evening I stood inside Pizza Inn waiting to pick up our "to-go" order and there was Larry Nelson, the one person in the universe who had had compassion on this awkward 12-year-old who had joined the diving team late one summer. The kindness he showed me was like breath after being submerged for far too long. And here he was, in Pizza Inn, and he talked to me. He was 16. I was 14. He was simply a boy who had a heart.

Pizza Magic.

We moved on from Pizza Inn when Dad remodeled a little restaurant into a pizza parlor called Everything But Anchovies. That was our favorite for quite awhile. Alas, the chef Mario was a wonderful cook, but not quite as good a businessman, and couldn't make a go of it. He took his expertise and recipe to another local establishment, which we then began to frequent.

Pizza Magic.

Dad used to create a beautiful booth for the Home and Garden Show to show his wares. He allowed me, a fresh-faced fifth grader to help him work the crowd. Like lifeguards swinging their whistles in smaller and smaller concentric circles, he and I would flick our pieces of pleater back and forth, catching the eye of the unsuspecting crowd. Once we had their attention, I would flick the switch to open the draperies -- one panel with the beautiful spring crest draperies, one panel with crummy old pinch pleats -- out with the old, in with the new and they would be hooked. In our spare time, I would walk over to the LaRosa's booth to get a free medium cheese pizza, which LaRosa's was only too pleased to provide for booth owners.

Pizza Magic.

Once we had moved on from the church that had Sunday night church, we still got pizza, but we brought it home, along with various boyfriends and friends. Sunday nights were filled with pizza, pop, chips, and lots of stories about our family, with one sister acting out the hilarious pantomime of me trying to put my contacts in, which had never been easy for me. Into college, when I would get ready to go back to school after spending the weekend at home, Mom and Dad would often invite my ride to stop for pizza at our house before we left. 30 years later, I ran into a fellow at church who thought he recognized me and reminded me of the pizza he and his friend had had with my family before they drove me back to college.

Pizza Magic.

Going to school in Chicago gave me the opportunity to learn about Giordano's which immediately became my favorite pizza ever. One of my first dates with Greg was to Giordano's, and I noted that even the frost on the windows knew we were meant to be, as I could see the shape of two hearts in the frost.

Pizza MAGIC.

It's no wonder Pizza is my favorite food in all the world. Every bite is filled with memories of wonder, tragedy, adventure, humor, and love.

And don't even get me started on Tiramisu.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Don't You Just Love it When That Happens!

So I was just minding my own business today when I get a call from my sister who is on vacation. She is one busy little bee so any calls I get from her are noteworthy. She was calling today to get directions from Gatlinburg to a movie theater about an hour away. They wanted to go see the new movie, Fireproof. She had heard that it might only be in the theaters this weekend (just opened last night), so wanted to make sure to see it. I had heard of the movie but had completely forgotten about it opening this weekend. After I got the directions for her, I quick hopped on the internet to see where it was playing locally.

Found it. Invited my hunny to go see it with me. He was busy playing Battlefield 1942, but decided he would rather spend time with me, especially since I asked him on a date. So, off we went . . .

Just returned home a few minutes ago. I want everyone to see this movie that deeply honors marriage and what love involves. The movie was made by the same church that made Facing the Giants, which I saw at a time when I deeply needed the message that with God, all things are possible.

Greg wasn't sure that Kirk Cameron would be up to the task of believably portraying a fire chief. I didn't really know what to expect. However, the movie was excellent. This movie honors family, marriage, love, Jesus, and forgiveness. There were a few plot points which I could see in advance but so what? As with the first movie, it was inspiring to see all the people who helped with the making of this movie.

Most importantly, Fireproof portrayed what I believe to be true. No matter how difficult a relationship is, when at least one of the people truly repent and begin to live a life which honors and loves their spouse, miracles can happen. Go see this movie!

I thought the accident, fire scenes, and fire station scenes probably captured pretty accurately what those experiences are like, but I'm not a firefighter, nor do I play one on TV. I KNOW the relationship scenes captured pretty accurately what kinds of things happen when love is dying or under significant strain.

Great movie. Great movie. Make sure you leave a comment when/if you see it!

The Bagger Who Panicked

When I grocery shop, you can imagine I buy a lot at once. Either that or the three items I need to get through the next 45 minutes. Today was a big shop. I went to Costco and then to Kroger. At Kroger, I was buying to restock some very empty shelves at home, plus picking up stuff for the church's food pantry.

So, the bagger was busily bagging the groceries and it occurred to him that they might not all fit in one cart. Drat, he said, that means I will have to go outside again. Well, my helper and I are strong women so I said, no prob, we'll handle the carts. I can't imagine what he thought I said, because he suddenly decided every. single. thing. was going to go into ONE cart. He bagged wildly and kept stacking things higher and higher and higher. I eyeballed the cart wondering how many hands it would take me to keep everything on for the ride.

I think he decided that the MORE items he put IN a bag, the BETTER they would FIT in the cart. This was evidenced by his choice to put FOUR jars of applesauce in one bag. Really big jars.

Actually, I guess I have to hand it to him. He must know his stuff. Nothing fell off. I only needed one hand to keep something on and the applesauce didn't break through the bag(s).

Now, the checker on the other hand -- our store has the "if it rings up wrong price, you get it free." Some checkers just automatically ring it up as free when it rings wrong. There are a few checkers though who still try to charge me the lower price. Today's item rang up at $4.49 but should have been $2.49 as it was on the markdown shelf. I wouldn't even have bought it for $4.49! So it rings up wrong, and I say, no that's not the right price. Oh, she says, sometimes those tags don't ring up right. Here, I'll just put it in as $2.49. Actually, I said, that should be free. She rolled her eyes and entered the scan right code.

You know what? I didn't make up the policy. But I'm ok with asking for it to be enforced. So, my helper, my giant cart, and my free box of organic chocolate coins rolled on home and wow do we have a yummy looking bunch of food here.