{monthly goals} Planning to be a Hot Mess for August

Monthly goals time! The great social experiment of my year! Need a reminder of why I’m publishing my goals? CLICK.

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Here we are in August already with fall craziness just over the horizon. Stop breathing down my neck September!

Did I meet my goals during the frantic month of July? Older goals I thought I’d made a habit of, like a morning rosary  or blogging three time a week, took a hit, so it’ll be no surprise things didn’t quite go according to plan. Especially since I never wrote my goals down in my planner like a said I would. [facepalm] Goals in bold; thoughts following.

Make a note of one thing to be grateful for each day. You know, having this as a goal just doesn’t work for me. I don’t know why but getting a reminder to be grateful is annoying. Pretty sure this makes me some kind of bad person. Usually at night, I mentally rehash all the good things in my day and life and thank God for them. I wish I could take on a more positive attitude during a rough day by focusing on what I’m grateful for, but it doesn’t work that way for me, at least not without a ton of work on my part and since I already feel like I am grateful (at least in hindsight), it’s not a goal I want to pursue.

Be mindful of all the stuff I do accomplish. I did get stuff done, but it’s hard to remember specifics. Again, I think this goal may be too general to be of benefit to me. I guess if I say, well, we had fun at the beach, visited with family, the kids got to camp, etc., I’m mindful of my accomplishments. Go me!…I guess??

Keep track of my time better and make sure I’m fully present for the task at hand. I didn’t keep track of my time at all, though I was fully present for most of the family activities we did. Limited wi-fi kept me off my iPod during most trips.

Finish sorting photos. Nope. 

Get all the “To Donate” items out of my house. Yes! Would still like to clean some more stuff out of the basement, but all the boxes and bags are gone!

Continue looking for caregivers. Filled out some paperwork for a local agency to help connect us with resources.

Finish big project. Yes. The “big project” I was writing about? My Edel talk. I didn’t want to reveal that early on lest you all be horrified at how I was working on this major talk up until the last minute. In general, I’ve learned a lot about public speaking in the last few months, namely that I had no idea what I was doing. I have no problem standing in front of people and so I gladly jumped on the speaking bandwagon thinking that it would be a piece of cake. However, I approached giving a talk in completely the wrong way. I wrote out everything and then tried to memorize it like an actor learning a script. Newsflash: when you’re still writing your 10+ page talk the week before your event, it’s impossible to memorize and seamlessly deliver that talk. Although my Edel talk was well received, it wasn’t until afterwards that I started really asking other speakers how they write and prepare to give talks. And no wonder I was having such a hard time! I was basically trying to become a speaker in the hardest way possible. #lessonlearned

So for this month I’m focusing on specific goals. If I want to incorporate more virtuous goals, I need to have concrete means for doing so.

Finish detailed lesson plans for first trimester of the 2015-16 school year. I’m looking to incorporate the growth mindset into our homeschool for the year. I found Carol Dweck’s book to be absolutely fascinating (my whole family is already sick to death of me talking about it) and while I don’t expect my kids to enroll in Harvard next fall, I  hope a growth mindset encourages a more positive year of learning for us all. (Yes, I’m hoping this will be the magic pill that makes everything fall into place and does away with all complaints. I’ll let you know how it goes.)

Sort and condense old school work. 

Outline and start writing book proposal. I was approached with a great idea by an editor so once lesson plans are finished, I want to buckle down and dedicate Saturdays to this next big project.

Practice one, ten to fifteen minute talk. By practicing and memorizing several key points I hope to become a more natural and relaxed speaker who can pull together a talk without ten pages of notes and the feeling of wanting to vomit before and after each event. (If you have any ideas for topics you’d like to hear me talk about, drop a hot comment. I’m seriously considering video recording myself  for assessment and feedback.)

Follow up with agency on resources. 

Sort photos. I really want to get this done, but I forsee school planning and organizing taking up the bulk of my time.

I sort of want to get back into some of my original daily habits, however, SUMMER, so I don’t know if it’s realistic to stick to a strict schedule when I know we’re only a blink away from another spontaneous activity. I’ll just let the transition back to school be as painful as possible.

Do you have a summer schedule or goals, or does everything slip by the wayside during the lazy days of summer? What pop psychology book do I need to read next and obsess over? How can a person set concrete goals to become better in abstract ways?

{SQT} A Bible Curriculum Moses Could Be Proud Of

seven quick takes friday 2

Was I at the beach again?? Totally. But I won’t dump a bunch of ocean pictures on you and call it a day. Instead, I’m going to introduce you to a great resource that’s right up there with the Bible… mostly because it talks about the Bible. And Catholics heart the Bible right?! Yes, we do! #breakingstereotypes

But first a disclaimer, which requires italic text for some reason. Tan Publishing offered to send me their Story of the Bible stuff to review for free, and I was like, “Free books?! Word!”…while totally typing something much more mature in my reply. However, my first amendment rights meant I could pursue their offerings, say something horrible, say nothing or spread the love. I’m choosing to let love reign.

You benefit from getting my always deep and inspiring thoughts, plus, a giveaway. Onwards!


1. The Story of the Bible is a complete Bible study curriculum for elementary and middle school aged students. There’s a text-book, one for the Old and one for the New Testaments, test books, activity books and teacher’s guides. Each text-book is available as an audio book, plus there is an accompanying video lecture series.  Tan’s SOTB has got all your bases covered. Looking for a Bible study from a respected Catholic publisher to meet the needs of your whole family? BOOM! Tan nailed it.

Story of the Bible would also be a great addition to any homeschool covering ancient history. From Creation to the Egyptians, Assyrians and the Maccabaeus, it’s all covered! And with great Catholic references throughout; something you won’t get in Story of the World or any other non-Catholic curriculum.

2. Volume 1, The Old Testament is written at an advanced elementary or middle school grade level. There are high quality black line drawings every few chapters and maps for reference in the back. Your older student could easily read through one chapter a week (there’s 22 in all) while younger students listen as a read aloud.

Hate reading aloud? Don’t be ashamed, just pop in the dramatized audio version. Your kids will be excited to catch up on school work during long car rides too! And if they’re not, it’s still better than Justin Bieber.

3. If you want to make sure they’re really keeping up with the reading and not zoning out during car rides, bust out the test booklet! Multiple choice, matching, fill in the blanks, plus an answer key in the back so they can check it themselves if you’re that naive…I mean trusting…I mean raising great learners?? Anywho-older kids will quickly see whether they’ve learned the material or not without being overwhelmed with 150 Scantron questions.

This is only slightly related to what I’m talking about.

4. Elementary kids of all ages can select crafts from the activity book including coloring, word finds, cross words and simple cut and paste activities. Everyone can work together and move along the same timeline using one simple curriculum. Even with the investment of an activity book for each child, you’re saving over buying a whole separate program for each grade. I love it when we can all work together as a family; older kids helping the younger ones on crafts they remember making, answering questions and yet still making new observations and gaining a deeper understanding of the text with each go round.

book sample

5. Worried you’ll be overwhelmed or confuse all the tribes of Israel? Enter the Teacher’s Manual; one you’ll actually be glad you purchased (unlike that one for Kindergarten Math.) Reading and comprehension questions, narration exercises, map work suggestions; you, yes you,  can teach the Bible, even with as little sleep as you get! Plus, there’s a few fun snack ideas thrown in. Tan’s got your meal planning taken care of too (well, maybe not entirely but graham crackers for supper wouldn’t be the worst thing ever… would it?)

6. Video. lectures. If you can’t imagine throwing one more thing into your schooling mix, but you still really want your kids to experience SOTB, invest in the DVDs. Between the text, test booklet, all-inclusive teacher’s manual and DVDs your older kids will be all set with minimal work on your part. Even on the days when you cannot. even. you can put in this DVD (or have your child put it in himself) and know you’re rocking this homeschool thing like a boss.

7. Interested? Even if you’re not a homeschooling family, I still think the audio book would be a great addition to your sports practice commuting, while the SOTB text could make a nice CCD supplement. Why not try to win either Volume 1 or 2 below?? Prize includes text-book, teacher’s guide, activity book, audio book set and test booklet.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Now in your excitement, don’t forget to link up your takes. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!

{the weekly reader} Good Reads and Unusual Stuff

Here I am, early Monday, taking the easy blog path and posting a collection of links and stuff. Most people like to share their interesting reads on the weekend, but not me! So here we go, easing into the week of no summer camps with some fun stuff. As I am so behind on my Feedly (and trying desperately to not feel bad about it) some of the posts might be a bit older so, forgive me.



Evolution of Worry, by Ginny Sheller at Small Things. I’m officially going to be raising a teenager this fall, with several more teenagers entering the ranks in a few years. I agree with Ginny, the worries I have for my oldest now, are so much more complicated than they were a decade ago. One more example of how I want to go back and smack some sense into myself.

Although I often have my head in the clouds, I Am Not An Airplane, by Sarah Mackenzie at Amongst Lovely Things is a good reminder as I start (okay think about starting) my homeschool plans for the next year.

If you or your kids like Batman, they’re sure to enjoy learning about Bat-Cow.

Lego Little House on the Prairie. This could be a really neat series, especially if Lego would pick it up and not limit it to designs from the TV series.


Just finished: The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne

A really interesting read about Tourette’s and, unexpectedly, the Mormon faith. I enjoyed Josh’s story of tolerating and overcoming Tourette’s syndrome and his mix of crazy strength training and library stories. As a special needs parent, I especially enjoyed the strong and supportive relationship with his parents that he loving described. This would be an quick and easy summer read.

Currently reading: Mindset by Carol Dweck

Because after reading a slew of books about habits and time management, I finally had to pick up this book which was mentioned exactly 4,937 times in the other titles. I’m only a couple chapters in, but already I think I see the potential to incorporate some of Carol’s teachings into my homeschool this coming year.

Recent adds to the Wish List:

Chia Zombie Arm. Seriously, if I can get this soon, I will have the coolest house for Halloween.

Fitbit bracelets!! Now I don’t need to look like I’m obsessed with counting my steps.

Canned Unicorn Meat. The reviews convinced me of it’s worth.

unicorn meat

To see more of what’s struck my fancy be sure to follow me like a stalker on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Goodreads Share your favorite reads/ links in the comments below!

{SQT} Kids Say Things

It was not my intent to skip a week of blogging. Thankfully, in my absence, Heather has stepped up her game which not only fills in the funny void left by my absence, but also sets the humor bar ever so much higher. So, thanks for that…I guess.

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1. I always hear people say, “I could never homeschool, I don’t know how you do it.” Well, after two weeks of summer camp let me say I could probably never be a school mom. Two weeks of getting only one of my children out the door by a set time is killing me. Killing me. Last week Edie’s day camp was at least only three miles down the road and I could drop her off in my PJs. But this week, Byron’s camp is 40 minutes away and I have to get out of my car to check him in! It means I have to be presentable by 8:15 a.m. and since I won’t be home until after 9:30 a.m. it means I have to get a bunch of Fulton’s stuff done before I leave. Thankfully, the bigger kids will pack their own lunches, so long as I overlook the glut of Oreos and tube yogurt. Tony says if I had to do this everyday I would get used to it but I’m pretty sure it would be the death of me. I need to ease into my day, especially if I’ve had a rough night’s sleep. Even before kids, when I was working outside the home, I took my time in the morning. And sort of related is all the time I’m spending in the car; how do people do this??? So anyway, homeschooling is hard but school moms, please don’t sell yourselves short. I could never do what you do. You must have TONS of patience.

2. Last week, I asked Facebook and Twitter to help me come up with my Seven Quick Takes. My friends were very prolific though, and I couldn’t answer all their queries in one post. Specifically, Bonnie asked, what do my husband and kids think about my rapping? You know, it never occurred to me to ask them so I finally did. Three of the kids didn’t really give me answers; more like distorted facial features. Addie said, “Well, so long as I’m not there [when you’re rapping.]” Byron said I could quote him as a puking emoji face and Tony, a man who’s known me since we were both seventeen quipped “I just figured it’s par for the course.” Yes, there’s not much I can do to surprise him any more.

But for all there snark, the kids all laugh and smile when they see other bloggers posting videos of my performance or when they hear Jen mention me with enthusiasm on her radio show. I don’t forsee any of them embarking on a hip hop career, but I seriously doubt they’re as embarrassed as they’d have me believe. Which equals lower therapy bills down the road I’m sure!

3. With Addie away at camp, and Byron gone for most of the day, I’m trying to spend more quality with Edie, my poor, neglected middle child. That means tons of craft projects, heaven help me. On the kitchen counter, in the school room, on the dining table, all. over. her. bedroom; pretty much anywhere there’s open space. We got a huge box in the mail yesterday so I think today we’re working on building a Barbie Dream House now. (I’d take a picture but then you’d see what a disaster this place is.) When I’m out running around or trying to calm down her enthusiasm, I’ve been letting her satiate her appetite on My Froggy Stuff videos. If you have a child into dolls and crafts, and they don’t know about this site, it’s probably going to blow their minds. Have glue and cardboard at the ready.

4. We’ve made several trips to Ocean City, NJ recently which means walks on the boardwalk and relentless demands for money. Reminding the kids that they spend all their money at Dollar Tree months ago only makes their wails all the more pitiful. At dinner one night, we were brainstorming ideas for them to come up with more cash. Someone said ‘lemonade stand’ to which Byron replied “We don’t make much on that. What about a soy sauce stand or something. We have plenty of that.” Rather than discourage him, I’m totally trying to convince him to create some sort of used condiments stand because, really, how great would that be?


While Edie prefers to buy overpriced stuffed animals, the boys all want to buy old, overpriced comics.

5. Also in dinner conversations we discussed legally changing one’s name. Teddy would like to be addressed as ‘Spiderman Optimus Prime’ from now on, even though I told him it doesn’t work that way.

6. Later in the week, Teddy started telling a story and mentioned he walked somewhere (which is not uncommon for him to say) and Edie abruptly cut him off to correct him and say. “No you didn’t. You can’t walk.” And then Teddy replied, still laughing at what’s sure to be a hilarious story, “Oh that’s right, I forgot. I drove…” and continued his tale without missing a beat. I was mortified. Do I reprimand Edie for pointing out that Teddy can’t walk? Do I prevent Teddy from saying he ‘walks’ places?? Can I, in good conscience, laugh at Teddy’s story now? UGH! I’m so not politically correct enough to be a special needs parent! This is why in spontaneous conversations with people I can’t be trusted to not say offensive things.

7. Radically switching gears to end on a less awkward note.

We have a huge melon growing from our compost pile. I’m thinking pumpkin? We didn’t do a garden this year and I’m not the best at remembering to compost all our kitchen scraps so this is a pretty neat development. However in past years when we tried to plant pumpkins, they all got some weird rot thing and died so I’m trying not to get my hopes up. …in the hopes that being pessimistic will yield positive results.


How was your week? Can you believe we’re coming up on the last week of July?!? Link up your ponderings on how time really is moving faster and be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes! I look forward to reading your posts!

{SQT} Crowd-Sourced Questions For a Mama’s Weary Mind

seven quick takes friday 2

Welcome back shaky takers. I blinked and it was time to git this post done. Jumping in with both feet.

1. This is my to do list.

busy planner

It is an accurate representation of my brain. Yes, I’ve crossed many things off my list, but I also forgot that my nine year old had camp this week. Plus, I got my hair cut and was in such a hurry to leave the salon with my wet head I didn’t even realize I’d consented to looking like a triangle.

No you don’t get a picture.

2. A LONE SERIOUS TAKE: A reader asked me on Instagram how to help her seven year old niece take a greater interest in the Mass. She’s probably not looking for my trusted solution which is “Be quiet and face the front of the Church! Set a better example for your siblings! You are making Mary weep right now!” She was asking for book suggestions, since the child loves reading but finds Mass “boring.” First, let me take a soapbox minute: during Mass, the best way to engage a child is to be engaged yourself, with something other than pulling someone’s finger out of their nose. Follow along in a missal, sing the hymns (guys, you too), show reverence, show up on time and don’t skip out early. Discuss the homily and readings after Mass with your spouse in front of the kids or ask them their thoughts. Kids will take the Mass seriously if you take the Mass seriously. If you act like Sunday’s are a huge hassle and grump your way through the Mass, of course your kids will hate it. Try attending daily Mass which is shorter and usually quieter. Sit up close so your kids can see everything that going on. As for books to encourage a love of the liturgy, what would y’all suggest? Comment below please.

3. Continuing with the questions (because seriously, I’ve got my mind on my laundry and my laundry on my mind) @nerdwriter tweets, “What would you do for a Klondike bar?”

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. I can’t stand those things. And they melt too fast. My kids love them which is great because they’re just the right size to give Fulton a stomachache and they’re too small to make a dent in the older kids’ insatiable sweet teeth. “No you may not have another! Finish the melted mess on Fulton’s tray! Well then get a straw!”

Set aside some of that birthday money kids!

4. Rebecca wants to know “When are we going to sip whiskey and make a podcast?”

As soon as editing a video or audio recording takes less time than having a third arm surgically attached to my forehead. Unless you’re up for a live broadcast, in which case I will lock the kids outside at the soonest convenience and borrow my father-in-law’s bottle of Cutty Sark. Because all whiskey takes horrible to me. I could take some serious time off purgatory if I used it to wash down Klondikes.

5. Rosie asks “If somebody forced you to eat a bat, how would you prepare it?”

First- is it already dead? If not, then chances are I’m dead because I’m near a bat, and if you’re the fool trying to make me eat the bat, watch out, because that little SOB is coming for you next. If it’s dead, and certified free of rabies from an independent lab of my choosing, then I would go all Ozzy Osbourne on it as a warning to other bats. If they knew how scared of them I really was they might make me the butt of all their jokes.

6.  “Coke or Pepsi? Greek yogurt or regular? What am I always thinking of food?” –Marie

Marie, stop thinking of yourself for once. These are my takes and I’m always thinking about food because my children are always hungry. I try to keep them quiet by stuffing their mouths with calories but it’s only a temporary solution. I’m addicted to Coca-Cola and I like plain Greek yogurt but not at the same time because who wants to be belching plain yogurt? Ugh.

7. Wendy couldn’t stick to just one question and dropped a whole pop quiz on my lap, forgetting I was working at minimal brain capacity. “Fave type of cigar? How do you feel about low-flow toilets? Who was your favorite Backstreet Boy? Does Flo-Rida get a royalty every time you rap his songs in public? What is your favorite feast day? Liturgical season? What is your favorite psalm?”

I’m just going to answer the easy one and say, while I admire the water saving features of low-flow toilets, they just don’t always get the work done. A healthy diet full of natural fibers can only do so much. A toilet really needs to step up and do the work that’s asked of it and not leave a mama in distress when faced with a house full of guests. And a bonus related questions from Rachael, “Toilet paper, over or under?”

How about, shoved on the window sill or back of the toilet because no one has time to take the cardboard tube off the holder. Makes it so. much. easier. for the children of guests to take massive handfuls of toilet paper and shove it in my low flow toilets.

Alright, more nonsense next week. Link up your takes below and don’t forget to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading you posts!