Monthly Archives: May 2012

{p,h,f,r} exhaustion

Memorial Day weekend kicked my butt this year. We cooked out Saturday, Sunday and Monday, hosting twice and traveling once. We’re blessed to have such great family and friends but man, I am still seriously sleep deprived. Curiously, Teddy and the rest of the kids have been invigorated by the past weekend’s activities and continue to wake up at 6 a.m. screaming for more fun and excitement. The first picture is of me with my three college roommates. I look ready to pass out. I’m only supported by the deck railing and my friend on the left. But what a great time we had. Old photos, good laughs and all the kids ran around the yard having fun for hours. You know you’re old when an afternoon with your college friends wipes you out more than a whole weekend of bar-hopping with them used to. Interesting fact; I have the same amount of kids as three of them combined. If you would have told me that when we were all roomies, I would have laughed my men’s pants and black t-shirt right off.

 

{pretty} & {happy}

 

{funny}

This is Fulton pointing a sword at me and giving his best pirate face. He asked me to take his picture, which he never does, so I couldn’t resist. Arrrrrrr matey! Teach me some Latin!!!

 

 

Since I started participating in the {p,h,f,r} meme, I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to include a photo that captured the awesome sunsets we are privy to here. (We also get great sunrises but don’t expect a picture of one of those until December.) Even these pictures don’t do the view justice, but I liked the neat rows of tomato seedlings in the foreground.

{real)

 

 

And that’s about it. Be sure to head over to Like Mother, Like Daughter for more {p,h,f,r}. I’m going back to bed.

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Seven Quick Takes-Books You’ll Want to Run Out and Buy…as soon as I write them.

I must confess that when I started this blog, in the back of my mind I had grandiose plans of gaining a huge following and somehow landing a huge book deal and becoming a major celebritey…amongst female Catholic writers. Danielle Bean, Susie Lloyd, Amy Welborn…watch out! I’m coming for you! (And I mean that in the most charitable way possible.)

However, since there’s a lot of competition in the blogsphere I thought, maybe I should just write a best-selling novel first to bring more attention to the blog. Then, I can just start entertaining TV and movie offers. The sky’s the limit! So, humor me as I present my seven potential book ideas. I tried to take subjects I’m familiar with , being Catholic, motherhood, homeschooling, etc. and combine them with popular and trending topics in order to reach the broadest audience possible.

1. ” Zombie Homeschooling; Education for the Coming Apocalypse” Because if you don’t look out for your child’s brain, the zombies will.

2. “The Hungriest Child Games”  Find out where in your home to hide snacks so your children won’t find them.  Cause you’ll kill ‘em if they eat all your dark chocolate squares again.

3. “50 Shades of NFP” A tense erotic thriller full of charting, basal temperature readings, and hot and steamy moments of frustration during periods of intense abstinence.

4.  “Wizards and Witches are Evil and How You can Prevent Your Kids From Ever Reading Anything About Them” or “Wizards and Witches are Totally Awesome and How You Can Incorporate Them Into Your Unit Study.” I’m not quite sure which of these would sell more.

5. “Rome Sweet Vampire” From the dark woods and pagan cults of 15th century Transylvania to St. Peter’s and the catacombs, this is the moving conversion story of one vampire’s journey home to the Roman Catholic Church.

6. “Latin for Pirates ” Because if I can teach a pirate to speak Latin, you can learn too. Or at least, your child won’t scream when you try to teach him or her.

7. Or maybe a children’s picture book;” The Pigeon Wants to Take a Poo on Mommy’s New Sunday Dress” or maybe, “If You Give Your Mama a Mocha, She Won’t Yell At You So Much Before Breakfast”

Let me know which one you’d buy so I can figure out which one to start working on. The first one to comment gets a signed copy of my future best-seller. While you’re deciding, head over to Conversion Diary for more Seven Quick Takes.

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Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real outdoorsy

Nothing says, “Happy Feast of the Accension” like a bonfire. In fact, every major feast that does not occur during a blizzard is a reason for our family to light up a bonfire. We’re blessed with a large yard (for New Jersey) and in the back center, we have a large pit my husband loves to fire up in true caveman style. He almost did have to drag me out there by the hair the other evening  since the thought of keeping an eye on the baby in the presence of a blazing fire and sharpened marshmallow sticks was sorely lacking in attraction.

However a steady stream of cheese puffs and a huge pile of freshly mowed grass kept the baby away from the fire and largely entertained while I relaxed, fed Fulton cheese puffs and watched my older children run through the yard in their church clothes which they never changed out of. I’m trying to suppress the memory of the huge grass stains all over Byron’s only pair of dress pants that don’t expose his ankles.

{pretty}

Look mom, I can be cute even when I’m absolutely filthy. Take my picture than pick me up and let me put my orange hands all over you.

{happy}

This photo, obviously not from the bonfire but still outside, shows Fulton at work with one of the preschool games I’ve created for him. A talk by my friend Kellie from Building Cathedrals at a local homeschool conference helped me create a clearer picture on how to teach him without relying on the same workbooks the older three used. (A nagging problem I first mentioned here.) I took some of Kel’s ideas plus many more gleaned from Pinterest, the internet and using games and materials I already had around the house, like the Melissa and Doug stacker pictured. I’ve introduced them to Fulton to see what he thinks, and he is loving it! For now I offer him three to four activities to work on (usually with his nurse helping) for 15 minutes each. We’ll see if the novelty wears off, but for now its good to know he’s willing to sit for up to an hour working on games that will help develop fine motor  skills, plus basic color, shape, number and letter recognition.

{funny}

 

The reason for the grass stains was this awesome game they created where they ran full speed at the fire, leaped up, then dropped to the ground and rolled away.  Sort of a high intensity stop, drop and roll drill I guess. I was informed the blue plastic sunglasses are for protection.

 

{real} relaxation

 

 

If you’re not headed outside, why not stop by Like Mother, Like Daughter for more {p,h,f,r} pics?

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The Importance of Family Prayer Time…with a bit of my conversion story thrown in.

I’d really envisioned just writing a quick post about how ridiculous our family prayer time has become lately, but it got me thinking on other things… so forgive my long-windedness.

Growing up Methodist, somewhere along the line I got the impression that church and religion were Sunday things, but only when extremely convenient, and that prayer was a private thing between you and God, and it usually just happened as the words came to you.

The focus of our church service was the music and the sermon, and the highlight of the day was visiting with friends and family. Once I left the building, I don’t know how much I carried with me besides some cute songs and bible stories. It certainly wasn’t enough to sustain me when I hit my rebellious teenage years and started asking questions about everything. It didn’t help that the minister who interacted with the youth group was a real ……well, let’s just say we didn’t get along, and in answering my questions he typically tried to make me feel simple-minded and foolish.

Besides meal time prayers, I don’t remember my family ever praying together. In fact, I don’t remember ever really discussing religion at all. And on Sunday’s, children typically attended their own service or sang in their own choirs,  so we rarely ever sat together. Even after being confirmed, I couldn’t recite the Apostle’s Creed or tell you what a Methodist actually believed or what made us different from other denominations.

By seventeen, I didn’t know what I believed in or why I should believe it and I didn’t feel comfortable discussing these things with my parents. It was then that I met my husband, another seventeen year old with a completely different outlook on religion.

Growing up in Lancaster, PA, my husband was the first Catholic friend I ever had. We hung out with a large group of mutual friends before we started dating towards the end of our senior year (I actually asked him to the senior prom.) In his car he kept a rosary, and his family’s house was adorned with religious art, palm branches, statues, the whole nine yards, which naturally led to lots of questions from me. He answered all of them patiently and almost instinctively,  I knew what I was hearing was the truth. There was no question I put to him that he couldn’t answer, or wouldn’t quickly find the answer for. And it all made sense. Had I been more well versed in my own faith, perhaps I might have tried to challenge him more, but our relationship, from the very beginning, is what kept me from completely turning my back on Christianity.  It was as if all my previous angst had left me an empty pitcher just waiting to be filled.

I’ve grown a lot in my faith from our early talks at his parents house, to my reception into the Church at a really, REALLY, liberal Ordinary form parish in Syracuse, NY to our home now at an Extraordinary Form parish in Berlin, NJ. I’ve never looked back with longing on my days as a Methodist. I’m so happy to be Catholic. For all the snark in my blogging, I hope that some of the joy I experience as a devout Catholic rubs off on people.  I won’t win any apologetic wars with a Bob Jones graduate, but maybe one person will see my family and think, “huh, those papists might be on to something.”

And now the real point of this post, family prayers! Good heavens, with five kids under ten they’re a real nightmare sometimes, but almost every night, we sit down as a family and pray. The goal is to say at least three decades of the rosary for a specific intention, plus our family’s litany of saints and then any special prayers (currently a novena to the Holy Ghost.)

Tonight’s prayers got sidetracked early on by a discussion of Mexico and whether it’s safe to travel there, which got the husband and I off on a tangent about NAFTA, then drug smuggling, but not before I uttered the expression “pissing and moaning.” So then I got lectured by the husband for using such language in front of the kids..again…but not before I had to explain what I said, what makes it “coarse and crude” and how they’re never to repeat it.

“Can I just tell Frankie?,” asked Byron.

“I’m sure Frankie already knows,” I sighed.

“Can I just remind him?”, Byron asked.

“NO!,” said the husband, me and the oldest daughter.

When we actually started, Edie kept giggling because she was hiccuping, Fulton kept pointing his finger at someone and yelling ‘BANG!’ while the older two, who’ve taken to leading the decades, kept trying to pray louder than whomever was the current leader.

I then burped, which caused everyone to laugh, except my husband, which made me snicker……

And you get the picture.  I actually consider this a good night because the yelling is in fun and there’s no crying. But, despite it all, I wouldn’t give up family prayers for anything. I honestly wish I could be more on the ball about keeping up with more prayers and devotions during the day, but so far, we’re failing miserably at our attempt at a daily Angelus.  Thankfully, we are better at observing liturgical traditions, mainly because my husband, a devotee of Dom Gueranger, spearheads them. For example, we recently had a Rogation procession around our yard, complete with incense, to bless our gardens and animals. We’re also good at hosting dinner guests or parties on specific feast days (St. Martin of Tours and the Nativity of St. John the Baptist are two that come to mind.)

And, my husband and I, we’re still talking religion. It’s been an ongoing conversation for the last sixteen years, and now, we’re including the kids in it. Our Catholic faith is why we go to church on Sundays and so much more!  It drives our decision-making, our dealings with others and, obviously, heavily influences our schooling choices.

I can’t assume my kids will become devout Catholics because we prayed together, but I feel confident in saying their faith would suffer if we didn’t. And I won’t assume that weekly attendance at Mass and CCD classes are a sufficient substitute for a rich spiritual home life. I hope we’re laying a foundation that will  give them solid footing during those rough teenage years. Plus, maybe some memories and family traditions to pass along to future generations. Despite all the distractions and noise,  I’ve come to the conclusion that family prayers are worth enduring patiently not only for the short-term blogging material, but as an insurance policy against future spiritual struggles. In 25 years, I’ll write the follow up to this post and let you know how it worked out.

What prayers does your family try to say together on a regular basis?

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Seven Quick Takes as I Drive By

What mom, homeschooling or otherwise, doesn’t spend an enormous amount of time behind the wheel playing chauffeur? Since I live in the most densely populated state, everywhere I go, from the grocery store to the gynecologist,  means slogging through bumper to bumper traffic. It doesn’t help that we’ve situated ourselves in the middle of nowhere in order to achieve some sort of peace and tranquility reminiscent of our childhoods in Lancaster, PA. (The “middle of nowhere” in Jersey still means we’re only 15 minutes from a Target.)

In logging all these hours on the road, I notice things, including the people in the vehicles around me. Many times my drives are filled with normal folks with nothing memorable in their looks or driving disposition. But other times, it’s like someone polluted the water supply with crazy and gave everyone a free car. So, without further delay, seven scary road people. Some of them really make me want to return to my hometown and hitch up a horse and buggy.

1. The song bird or her brother M.C. profanity. Look, I confess to singing in the car when I’m out alone but only with the windows closed, and I swear I change all the inappropriate words to butt, witch, etc. (And if it’s a guy singing to a girl, I change genders too because I’m not singing my heart out to a girl. ) But so many times, I stop at a red light and next to me is some chick belting out the latest song like she’s auditioning for American Idol. Or it’s a guy, bass cranked up, spewing forth filth from the fifth circle of hell. Oh hey, is that Eminem driving next to me?  And it’s always, always when the kids are with me. (“Mom do M&Ms really sing like that?”) So there I am, struggling to quick pop in a kid’s CD or something when the kids start asking me vocabulary questions. The light changes, we speed off… for 100 yards before we hit the next red light and the cycle continues. If I’m lucky the baby will be crying from the uncomfortable thrust of inertia and I’ll get a dirty look, and nothing else, from the aforementioned singers, like my screaming kid is killing their groove.

2. The reader. Yes, several times I’ve seen people with books, balanced on their steering wheels reading and driving at the same time. No, not stopped in traffic, but while driving down the highway. I never know whether to speed up and try to pass them or hang back and hope when they run off the road I can get around them somehow. Or pull up along side and ask what the heck their reading that is worth risking life and limb.

3. Lady who’s got something important, other than a child, in the backseat. Hey! Turn around! We’ve missed four cycles of the left turn arrow because you’re giving your teacup Maltese a pedicure or spot treating the floor mats or something up there.  And the crotchety, honk-happy  guy driving a rusty truck full of scrap metal behind me, thinks I’m to blame. Either pull over or have a child that can do things for you while you’re driving.

4.  Nose picker. We can all see it. Sitting in a car doesn’t make you invisible to the world.  Stop it. How can I tell my kids not to pick their noses in public when you keep showing up next to us? (Okay, this guy or gal isn’t scary but gross, just really, gross.)

5. Rubberneckers. Accidents happen. They close lanes and create traffic jams. However, curious folk who want to upload gruesome photos to Instagram don’t have to. Keep it moving!

6. Couples who make out in their cars while stopped in front of me. So you had a great dinner at Olive Garden, fine. Save the dessert for when you get home.

7. Mr. Handy with his seven pieces of plywood tied to the roof of his minivan.  Surely those pieces of twine and that hand of yours placed aside the lumber as you drive will prevent them from sliding off and crashing into my van at the next red light. At least when you’re hauling a mattress set, I can expect my family truckster to emerge relatively unscathed. Maybe you’ll even knock free that Smart Car that’s been stuck in my grill for a month.

And this doesn’t even include the obvious cell phone talkers and texters, the angry drivers who use their middle finger as a turn signal and the Sunday drivers of all ages who think 25 mph is the universal speed limit. If you consistently use a turn signal, know how to correctly merge and only use the left lane to pass or drive fast, I invite you to add your suggestions to my list, and of course, view the other Seven Quick Takes.

 

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Laugh, Think, *TINK*, Drink… your way to mental health.

I was deeply touched by the outpouring of prayers and support after my last post. I know I’m blessed to be surrounded by such a caring group of friends and family, online and off. I know I promised more laughs this week, and I think the combined efforts of writing out all my frustrations plus the prayer contributed to me feeling less anxious about the surgery. And box wine, several glasses of box wine. Unfortunately, as of this writing, Fulton is congested and woke up with a fever. That means the surgery will have to be delayed indefinitely. I can only assume he’s not meant to have a G-tube placed right now for some reason. I’ll keep you all updated. Now back to our regularly scheduled blogging.

Laugh

The electrical inspector came out yesterday and gave us the go ahead to finish the kitchen. After so many delays, I was willing to do just about anything (that a good Catholic homeschooling mom would do) to get that permit secured. I wore a skirt that showed a little of my knee, I brushed my hair and put on some fresh Chapstick; I was dressed to impress. He showed up, lectured me on there being no clear number on the house, I profusely apologized and considered offering him a beer when he remarked on the wiring, which is fine. The inspection took a minute, tops, after which, upon noticing three kids in the dining room, asks me how many kids I have. “Five,” I said with a smile that said “Finish signing the damn permit!” “FIVE?!” He exclaimed. He then said I didn’t look much older than seventeen (can’t you see me blushing like a school girl?), before adding, “You poor child with all these kids.” Then he stuck the approval sticker on the window and walked out, leaving his cigarette odor behind him. I think I will let my husband deal with him on the final inspection.

Think

Social media and the internet are a huge distraction for me, but when it comes to prayer requests or disseminating info quickly, you can’t beat it.  Just when I think people are tired of reading my updates or prayer requests regarding our family, I get an overwhelming response. It reminds me how many people out there are just waiting for me to ask. Within the last few days, it seems I wasn’t the only one reaching out online. Several writers made much more eloquent requests or observations on their own tragic circumstances but the response was similar; lots of comments of support and incoming prayer. In talking with friends yesterday, I realized other families I knew were struggling with new health or marital issues. Once home, I was able to quickly jump online,  send off messages to some, and let others know of a name to add to their prayer list. Online connections can’t replace face to face time, but it has certainly helped tighten the bonds I have with many people. Where distance and circumstance have placed obstacles, social media steps in to bridge the divide.

TINK

The silver lining to this  week is our basement hasn’t flooded for the first spring since we’ve been here, despite a deluge of rain recently. My father-in-law made it a pet project to plug up all the leaks in the old walls and it seems he finally succeeded. But for the kids, it’s actually a downer because they enjoy going down there in their rain boots and sloshing around. Who wants to play around outside in rain puddles when you can wade around in a dark, dank basement?

Drink

After homeschooling my three oldest, I had one thing down pat. Preschool. It was nothing fancy. Three workbooks they all loved, full of tracing, coloring, cut and paste activities. They learned their ABCs, 123s and various religious stuff. We read lots of stories and that was that. Of course, none of this, except story time, will work with Fulton because his fine motor skills simply are not conducive to these activities. So I’m forced to start over. He has an iPad loaded with education games, however once he figured out how to download podcasts containing vintage cartoons or Lego videos the games were quickly forgotten. Which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing since most were pretty craptacular.  I always thought it would be nice to supplement the workbooks I chose with preschool busy bags or Montessori type activities but I think I painstakingly assembled only one “hands on” math game for Edie. She loved it for about two seconds and almost destroyed it out of anger within the next two. And I also hate little pieces. I’ve resisted every hands on math program with counters because the thought of them getting dumped on the floor makes me want to pour burning coffee in my eyes. But for Fulton, and Teddy, I’m going to do it. I’m going to create a wonderful, hands on preschool program that is fun, teaches the basics and engages all their senses if it kills me.

 

How’s your week been going?

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Filed under Homeschooling, Humor

Ok, seriously. No jokes.

Note: This is a serious, laying my soul bare kind of post. If you want to read something funny, check back later this week.

The toughest thing about writing a humor blog is that life tends to have periods when nothing seems humorous. I’ve been struggling with lots of un-funny stuff for weeks now, and trying to gain the upper hand. I use this blog for my own benefit, to document the humor in my life, and hopefully in the process, entertain others. I usually don’t feel the need to rehash the hardest parts of my day. I live them; once is enough.

If you know me, you know the serious part of my life. If you’re new, let me fill you in. My sons Fulton and Teddy are both diagnosed with a serious neuromuscular disorder known as Spinal Muscular Atrophy.  It’s why in photos, you see my 3 1/2-year-old Fulton in a power wheelchair and body brace. My youngest son Teddy, now 19 months,  is not as severely affected, however, he also cannot walk and will probably need a wheelchair within the next year or so. There is absolutely nothing funny about SMA. It is horrible and has no proven treatment or cure. It is slowly robbing my boys of their voluntary muscle movement.

That’s just a quick summary. As you can imagine, my daily life is greatly affected by the care of two handicap children; Fulton’s care especially. I finally admitted I needed help this fall, and in February I started getting nursing care five days a week to help with Fulton. For now Teddy does not require any additional care over that of a normal baby. It is only the added inconvenience of scheduling one more set of physical therapy and doctors’ appointments.

I don’t really know how I get through each day. With God’s help, I just do. I started this blog to help record all the funny moments in our day because I need to be reminded myself sometimes. It would be very easy for me to become overwhelmed with sadness, hopelessness and anger. There was a period following the diagnosis of Fulton that I didn’t think I could find joy in life again, ever. How could I so much as smile, while he was asked to endure such an existence? After a period of shock, I was depressed for several months. It was only after reading this book from Father Benedict Groeschel that I started to feel better.

Once I learned my youngest son would also have SMA I sank into a spiritual depression that I think I am still recovering from. It’s why I’m not writing a blog containing the deep insight I’ve gleaned from parenting children with physical disabilities or how I’ve reached greater spiritual depths because of our situation. I’m not there yet. I’m still struggling.

As it gradually became clear that Teddy’s condition was not as severe as Fulton’s, I was able to start allowing myself to hope again. Yes, things would never be simple, but they could be normal.

Normal is  defined as ‘The usual, average or typical state or condition.” Thankfully, we have a typical day like most of you. I just also have a nurse in my house and maybe a therapist. Instead of running to activities in the afternoon, I’m driving to another therapy visit. There aren’t many toys in the downstairs bedroom because we have wall to wall medical equipment,  but there’s Lego displays on the dresser too. The average day includes school, activities and medical treatments. It’s no longer weird to us. My kids don’t understand why other kids stare at Fulton or why some families are extra nice to us. Five kids with one in a wheelchair? No biggie around here.

And finally, due to the in home nursing care and Teddy finally sleeping through the night, I was able to see the humor in our everyday life again because I wasn’t so overwhelmed with worry, or exhaustion or frustration. There is joy and laughter; we have not been beaten. So I started sharing all these funny observations here on my blog and I found joy in typing them, re-reading them, sharing and receiving feedback on them. It reaffirms for me that yes,  I am blessed! I pray daily for a cure,  medical or miraculous, but if it never comes, I can still be happy.

Maybe you’re wondering why I decided to share all this now. Well, Fulton has surgery scheduled for this Thursday the 17th. It’s been rescheduled twice due to illness. He’s getting a feeding tube placed directly in his stomach to help supplement him. It’s just really hard for him to eat and drink enough to stay nourished and hydrated. I’ve been assured it’s a simple procedure, but he’ll be in the hospital for three days due to his underlying medical condition. As his mother, I’m obviously terrified…I’ll admit it. I always imagine worst case scenarios.

For weeks this has been hanging over me, the hassle of trying to reach anyone to reschedule. The additional doctor visits due to illness. Insurance “issues.” Everything has been completely out of my control and while I keep saying to myself, God’s in control, God’s in control, I’m still a spaz. (And it doesn’t help that our flake of a contractor just quit mid-job leaving our house in disarray.)

So I’m pouring my heart out and asking for prayers. I think I’d be dead now if it wasn’t for all the people who pray for me and our family. I’m really so spiritually inadequate to tackle everything on my own.  I know Fulton will come through this and we’ll get back to normal. Our renovation work will get completed and everything will proceed as usual. I just need a pep talk or some cheerleaders, now that we’re down to the wire.

In conclusion, I want to thank you, and everyone who’s been reading my blog these last few months. I know I’m not the funniest site on the block, but knowing a few people are reading and getting enjoyment from my posts is good medicine.  Thanks again;  I will remember you all in my prayers as well.

 

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Vintage pretty, happy, funny, real photos

I’m sure you’ll be surprised to hear that my last post did NOT result in me being bombarded with review and advertisement requests. I guess I’ll have to accept that I’m doing this blogging thing just for personal enjoyment and therapeutic expression.  Back to work!

I’ll admit up front that this is the {p,h,f,r} “vintage” edition because it includes some old photos. But since I haven’t posted any of them here, I consider them fair game.

 

{pretty}  This is our cat Whiskas. He’s actually rather handsome, but this isn’t the {handsome, happy, funny, real} meme so pretty will have to suffice. What makes him awesome is that he has a mustache. I friend of mine suggested I name him ‘Kitler’ but that was vetoed. Whiskas would be the perfect cat if he didn’t attract so many ticks. Letting him in the house for a snuggle on the couch is a sure-fire way to wind up with a screaming child and a pair of tweezers in the bathroom later that same day. I’ve always been a dog person, but since having a litter of children, I’ve found I don’t have time for a dog. Whiskas is a good substitute.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

{happy}  Was it Linus who said happiness is a warm blanket? I think snuggling with a sleeping child must be a close second. By now you’ve noticed I didn’t take this picture, but let me assure you, once I knew my son was sound asleep I hissed for my husband to grab my camera and secure this photo. Not only did I want to immortalize what I knew was a cute shot (I told my husband where to stand and everything) I wanted to document those awesome PJs I was wearing. As the official family photographer, I don’t make it into many snapshots, so I’m especially happy we captured this one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

{funny}  Look, it’s my daily schedule. Everything is planned to the hour. Funny thing is, the only things we’re able to stick with are meal and snack times. But I’ll tell you what, just having it hanging there where visitors see it makes them all think I really have my act together.

On our evening out to Home Depot (date night!), my husband and I started talking about our schedule lately; the disarray in our house due to the construction and how it’s affecting us and the children. We both agree we need to regain order, through trying to finish the kitchen ourselves in a timely manner (our contractor quit last week) so we can get the downstairs reorganized. And, most importantly, trying not to complain about everything in front of the children so much. Our frustrations and shortened tempers have helped push them into a new phase of whiney disobedience.

Time to crack the whip! On ourselves and the kids. Next week we’ll be off school due to minor surgery for my middle son.  Hopefully, we can all regroup and I can spend the long quiet hours at the hospital (the only upside) in prayer and on creating a daily routine that isn’t laughable.

 

 

 

 

 

{real}  See that sheet of material in my son’s hands? What do you think it is? A friend of mine saw this picture and thought it was linoleum-wrong! It’s all the layers of wallpaper on our old living room walls! It really is as thick as vinyl flooring. Large pieces are coming loose and I’ve been taking it off to make way for new drywall or just because it’s falling off and I don’t want the baby to grab a piece and pull. Old houses are so much fun!

 

 

 

 

 

What a week. If our electrical inspection goes off without a hitch, I’ll post some pictures from the fun drywall hanging party my husband is hosting this Saturday. (He’s actually calling it a Work Bee ’cause he’s cool like that.) Maybe in my haste to reorganize, I’ll create some great downloadable charts and planners!!!!…..but don’t count on it. Share your thoughts on cute cats, snuggly kids, plans gone awry and old house antics below, and don’t forget to check out all the other links at Like Mother, Like Daughter.

 

 

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Reviews for Sale!

{This is another one of those posts where I tell you what other “good” homeschooling blogs do, then I go and do the opposite. You’ve been warned.}

Product reviews! In Kelly’s fantasy land, I get lots of great books and materials mailed to me for free by people who think other homeschoolers hang on my every word. These free products would do everything advertised and blend seamlessly into my current lesson plans. My children would love the books, learn easily from them; I’d be hard pressed to say anything negative about the free materials. I’d write a glowing review, net tons of sales for the sponsoring company and maybe, get some sort of pink Cadillac, like a great Mary Kay sales woman. (If it was a Catholic company, maybe a pink 15 passenger van.)

However, I live in Kelly’s reality world which is currently humid and full of dust. The only free curricula I received in today’s mail were the charity solicitations I let the kids use as scratch paper in art class. But to prepare myself for that day when the companies come calling, I’m going to write a sample review about a product I downloaded a while ago from a well-known homeschool curricula site. We’ll call this product “The Stab Yourself in the Eye with a Test Tube Chemistry Book”, or just ‘the chemistry book’ if you prefer.

This 50+ page book was a pdf download I purchased for about $20. It boasted a research guide, experiments, reproducibles and instructions on how to tie everything together into a cool looking folder/ lapbook type thing. Even though my last foray into lapbooking went horribly, horribly wrong, I thought this book might make the overwhelming science of chemistry fun. My first mistake was in assuming that “research guide” meant more than ten pages about chemistry. So I just tacked a few more library books onto the hold list. No real problem yet. And then we did the first experiment….and I couldn’t explain our hypothesis or why that stuff in the test tube did those things and not what the book said it was supposed to do. And not only was elementary chemistry beyond me, I was once again outwitted by a simple file folder. Sure the instructions said, cut here, fold there, tape down here and, viola, an atomic elements pop-out chart should arise directly from the middle of your double joined folder, but it looked about as good as that copy of ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ the baby tore into. Within a couple of weeks, I ordered this and this combined it with a boring homemade ‘My Science Experiment’ handout and before long, it was all Mr. Wizard like up in here.

If you love lapbooks, like getting lots of science books from the library,  then this might work for you if you have upper elementary kids who love origami and have an interest in chemistry.  (See? I can offer positive reinforcement as well as constructive criticism.)

Obviously, if you want to send your materials to me for review I will include big colorful photos of me, or my children with the materials. Since I have no photos of the chemistry book, or me stabbing myself in the eye with a test tube,  here’s me with a great Melissa and Doug abacus! I love it!

If I have not won you over with my prose or modeling experience, please be assured that I do have my price. For an agreed upon amount, which can be paid in greenbacks,  Kohl’s Cash or gluten-free brownie mix, I will say whatever you want about your wonderful product and stay out of all photos. With daily page views in the teens, how can you afford to not have me favorably review your learning materials? Advertising space on my blog, or the side of my van, house, family set of t-shirts, is also available. Contact me before it’s too late!

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Filed under Curriculum, Homeschooling, Humor

Seven Quick Takes That Meet You Where You Are

Quite a few homeschooling blogs tend to offer motivational advice; helpful quips to inspire you to aim high and achieve more. If you are feeling lazy and need a pick me up, I suggest you head somewhere else.  Like HERE, HERE and HERE. Instead, I present you with my demotivational advice. You’re going to feel really good about where you are and there’s no pressure to do better. And after a long week, don’t we all need to feel good about what we’ve actually accomplished, not worry about what didn’t get done?

1. Take every extra minute you need  in the morning to lay in bed and plan out breakfast/say quiet prayers/figure out how to get to the bathroom and shower without the rest of the family discovering you fell asleep in your clothes again.

2. Who comes to the door before noon? No one important that’s who. Just stay in your robe. But if you decide to get dressed…

2 1/2. No one’s going to notice that stain right in the middle of your shirt. And besides, what are the chances you’ll have to run out to get milk/take a child to the ER/meet the UPS man/converse with a freshly showered mom in clean clothes?

3. Ponytails make you look young, sexy and like you’ve only had one child, tops. You rock in that hot pink Hello Kitty scrunchy!

4. A daily schedule and routine? It’s all going to fall apart eventually so why waste your time setting one up. Now I’ve saved you time and future guilt. Go celebrate with some Facebook!

5. Don’t bother ordering the answer key. You took college level math. You can teach elementary math no problem. And your husband understands math.  He can take over teaching if need be. He was just saying he wanted to spend more time with the kids anyway.

6. Pre-planning dinner takes all the fun and excitement out of meals. Wait until 4:45 to decide so that supper prep takes on an air of Iron Chef.

7.  Don’t worry about the dishes tonight. After a hot cup of coffee tomorrow morning, you’ll definitely have the energy to tackle them.

It’s been a long week for me, but I’m feeling better already. In fact, I’d better take it easy and get out my box of wine. I don’t want to overdo it. And as always, be sure to read everyone else’s contributions to Seven Quick Takes, hosted at Conversion Diary. I mean, try to. I know I will, but everyone understands if the demands on your time are too numerous to allow a complete review of the links.

 

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Filed under Humor, Seven Quick Takes