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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Quarantine, day 4.

Our adventure to the lab for blood work and to the car wash yesterday did not combat the cabin fever as much as I would have liked.  We also delivered dinner to Jason at work.
I have no idea how we are going to top the excitement today.

The children and I are eating to pass the time. Grits with salsa was their latest experiment. Meanwhile, I'm putting away peanut butter eggs as quickly as I can fake trips to the garage to "check the laundry."  Which is ironic because I didn't even do any laundry yesterday.  I'm just glad I have the giant Sam's Club bag.  

I've attempted to keep them busy by doing math. Unfortunately, it caused violent coughing fits and they were unable to sit up and "do their times."  Josie completely forgot what multiplication and addition mean.  

The patience level in our home is at an all time low. Simply looking at a sibling is grounds for removal from the family circle. Every child is ready to expel her roommate. That is, until someone coughs. At that point everyone cuddles and soothes the victim. And all is good...until someone makes eye contact and they remember every bad thing the other sister has ever done since the beginning of time. 

In spite of the enormous amount of time I spend telling them to clean up, the house looks like dwarves live here with no Snow White.  And my girls are no happy forest creatures.  If I asked them to whistle while they work, they might just snap.  Speaking of snapping...garbage bags and a bonfire are looking like an acceptable solution to the overflowing toy/clothing/accessory problem.

Going out back is a temporary fix, as they are determined to drag the entire house out back to play.  The sliding glass door was pretty much open for an hour yesterday.  I'm wondering if it's worth the cost to install a revolving door.  If we can find one the dog is capable of operating, that might just make me the happiest woman on Earth.

I guess I will let them play with pop beads for a bit while I learn the Dewey Decimal System and reorganize our school books.  That seems like fun.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day is not about me.

This Mother's Day has been strange.  My girls have been sick on and off for several weeks.  I've missed church more than I've been in church for the last two months.  I've barely slept some nights, and other nights were just not enough to catch up on the exhaustion of all the work that goes into keeping up with housework, feeding children, homeschooling and that doesn't even touch the outside obligations I have taken on.

And then last night Jorja came into my room at about 11:30, crying and holding her ear.  My gut reaction was an ear infection, but she said it was below her ear and when Jason and I got a good look, we noticed her cheek was swollen from her earlobe down to her jawline.  She couldn't open her mouth wide enough to even let me check for strep.  She just kept moaning and crying.  At 11:30.  I was spent. I felt the hope of making it to church slipping away.  I admit it...I just wanted to give her ibuprofen and put her to bed.  But we've never seen this set of symptoms before and after googling them, Jason said he was taking her to the ER just to be sure.  She had been sick for two straight weeks.  He told me to stay home and rest so I could go to church in the morning, but I said I would take her since there's no way I would sleep while they were gone anyway.  I was wished a Happy Mother's Day by the paramedic checking us into the ER at Mayo. We sat in the room, Jorja and I. She played on the iPad, I feigned interest and tried to stay alert.

Preliminary diagnosis: Mumps.

Treatment plan: Quarantine and tylenol.

By the time we arrived home, I knew there was no way any of us were going to make it to Church. Again...

Happy Mother's Day, indeed.

So I cried for just a minute in the driveway when we got home.  Then I sucked it up and went inside. Trying to be grateful that,'s only mumps.  And trying to remember that I may be tired, weary, frustrated, weak, but I am made strong.  Not by anything I have done, but by what is done for me.

My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
(Psalm 73:26)

When I am ready to give in, He is there.  Forever.  Without Him, I would not be the mother who received today four of the most perfect framed poems written by four of the most amazing daughters to call me Mother, all orchestrated by a husband who loves me much more than I deserve.

So, you see, Mother's Day is not about me.

And, fellow mother, it is not about you.

It is about a holy, wise, strong, forever God.

On Mother's Day I don't expect to be relieved of my duties as mother and put on a pedestal by my family.  I don't expect cards, gifts and displays of affection that rival those of a monarch.

Because Mother's Day is a day to celebrate the simple fact that we have been entrusted with miracles. And that we aren't left to struggle through long days and sleepless nights alone.  We are given these gifts and we are given the tools to raise them in the Lord.

If only we stop making the day about us, and make it about Him, perhaps we wouldn't be disappointed when the day doesn't go just the way we envisioned.  Perhaps if we focus our hearts on gratefulness and not recognition, we would see just how much we have already been given.

So on Mother's Day, I will not wake up ready to be celebrated, but I will wake up ready to celebrate, whether it's here at home, in the ER, or at my church, with just my husband and children, or with our friends and family.  I will celebrate the one who made me a mother and who gives me the strength every day to raise the children He gave me.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Parenting Fail

Last Friday at co-op, Josie was presented with a simple question. 
"What would you do with a million dollars?"

Her answer: 
"I would sell it."

"Sell it?"

"Get rid of it. Give it away."


"Because money changes people. It can make them selfish.  They get greedy and don't give it to the poor."

I was beaming. What an insightful answer. I was so proud of her and felt as though we were succeeding as parents. This is the affirmation we've been waiting for. 

So tonight we asked her about it. Where she learned it...

Her answer: 
"Crash and Bernstein."

I'm out. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

How to recognize a homeschool mom.

No, it's not by the denim jumper with seasonal embroidery we wear.  But thanks for categorizing all of us in the Michelle Duggar school of apparel.  Sometimes, yes, we have a wonderful woman among our ranks that chooses comfort and ease of wear'll just move on.

There are a myriad of traits that by themselves can be attributed to almost any woman, but when put all together scream "Homeschool Mom!"  

I'll try to distinguish some for you so you don't make the mistake of saying something ignorant to us like "shouldn't your children be in school?" or "Why so much wine?  Are you throwing a party?"  You can find us in quite a few public locations during the day, but since we spend most of our outside time on field trips or in grocery stores, I'm going to use the latter here.  

1.  The mob of children tagging along with us at 11 am in the grocery store.  This one might seem obvious to some of you, but for some reason, I still get the head tilt and "how old are your kids?" while in the checkout line.  "No, sir, that's not a 5 foot tall four year old.  She's in the 6th grade."  And this is what you might refer to as grocery shopping, but we call; math, home economics, logistics and early childhood development class.   I assure you the school board knows and is happy to have me do it.  They get tax dollars and I get...quality time.  

2.  The hair.  Depending on where we stand in the cut-your-hair-out-of-frustration cycle, we are either sporting a cute bob or a greasy ponytail.  Sure, it's not always greasy, but it's not always co-op day.  

3.  The sweats and tee shirt.  They can also be yoga pants, but not all of us are brave enough to leave the house in something that hugs our natural, child-bearing curves that closely.  The t-shirt is almost always solid color with a smudge of baby snot or science experiment gone wrong.  On very rare occasion we will give ourselves away with a nerdy homeschool shirt, but that brings on too many conversations beginning with, "my cousin homeschools her kids, they aren't normal" or "I don't have the patience for that."  Maybe even the always adored, "aren't you worried about socialization?"  So the laundry situation has to be dire for us to dip into those for public wear.  Some homeschool moms wear mom jeans, but we love them anyway. 

4.  As alluded to earlier, the wine in our cart.  Some homeschool moms do it dry.  Kudos to them.  Some prefer the kool-aid of wine and drink white zinfandel or moscato.  I prefer to keep it real with a good cabernet while making dinner and trying to reconcile the fact that I spent more time keeping a 3 year old alive today than practicing times tables and correcting grammar.  And if an acceptable vintage is on sale, well, then my cart looks like I'm about to have three dozen women at my house to discuss the latest self-help book.  Shameful.

5. The coupons.  Sure, lots of moms coupon, but homeschool moms make a curriculum of it.  The kindergarteners are given a pair of scissors and the low-dollar coupons and told to follow the dotted lines.  Hand-eye-coordination.  2nd graders are given the coupons to file.  Reading and sorting.  Anyone over the age of 10 is in charge of holding the list.  BAM.  We have skills that reduce the bills.  Of course, not all of us coupon.  Some of us view couponing as a living nightmare.  I would personally rather keep my grocery bill low by buying 200 lbs of flour at a time and making pretty much everything from scratch.  No matter how we do it, though, we have to work within a grocery budget that was blown because we heard about this new math program that was going to keep us from banging our head into the wall when it took our 4th grader 3 hours to do one problem.  It didn't work, of course, but we still have to find a way to pay for it.  

6. The students.  There are as many different homeschool kids as there are homeschool moms.  Actually, there are way more.  Statistically speaking, you can be assured that 25% are wearing something society would consider "strange."  A costume, a hat, full body armor.  You name it.  At least 25% will also be carrying a notebook and pencil or a reading book.  Just under half will talk to anyone near them.  Probably about turtle habitats or a piece of classic literature.  And 100% will be relieved they aren't learning Latin. 

7. Spontaneous lectures.  Simple questions like "Mommy, what's the difference between a banana and a plantain?" turn into 15 minute lessons on carbohydrates, cultures and the evils of GMO's. And while mom is googling answers on her iPhone, the ice cream is melting and the produce manager is shooting sideways glares because no one can get to the counter and all the kids are yelling about Publix trying to give them cancer through poison food. 

7. The crazed look in our eye.  We spend hours upon hours alone with our own children.  So, admittedly, there are days when we stand in line gazing longingly out of the store contemplating making a run for it. We never do.  At least, I've never heard one of those stories in homeschool circles about that mom.  It never lasts long, because if the children have timed it right, we are snapped back into reality by the phrase, "mommy, I have to pee."

So there you have it.  Seven ways to know if you run across a homeschool mom in our favorite place to take hungry children.  Because they are always hungry.  Unless it's meal time.

Just for clarification, this post is satire.  I don't know why I feel the need to specify this, but I do.  And if you haven't figured it out, my statistics have no actual, verifiable backing.  I made them up.  Which, I think, qualifies me to host a talk show or hold public office. I think I'll just keep homeschooling for now, though.  

Sunday, August 18, 2013

We survived our first week!

One week down.  Only thirty-something to go!

While I cannot say that I was the epitome of grace under pressure, I certainly did not have any homeschool poster children, either.  There were thrown pencils and thrown fits.  I did not throw the pencil.  I refuse to comment on the latter.

But, there were good times, teachable moments, and between the tears, laughter and learning.

It certainly wasn't all sitting pretty in desks, but that's not really what homeschool is all about.  We like to get up and move around.  Some of us more than others.  That may have led to some fit throwing.  

I did finally find a system that really seems to help with organizing papers each week, though.  I'm very excited about it and thought I would share.  

Each of the three big girls have a weekly page of work for each subject.  This way, they can learn to work independently and take some responsibility for getting their own work done.  So far, only Jonah does this, but hopefully the younger three will soon learn that they can work at their own pace.  There is a row for every subject we cover, including a row to jot down what books the girls read each day.  

The sheets are filled out by me at the beginning of each new week and placed into our schedule folder.

As the girls complete their work, anything that is not in a workbook is placed onto thier tier on a bookshelf.  

As the week draws to a close, I take each girl's portfolio and and in it place the weekly homeschool record and the stack of papers from their tier into the appropriate weekly tab.  

It takes less than 5 minutes to file a week's worth of work for 3 children.  And I use the completed week's page, plus our master schedule to prepare the next week's lessons.  

Hopefully this lasts for us for a while, it's taken a couple years to fine tune and it's turning out to be a big space-saver and time saver for me.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The science of baking

A few weeks ago, two of my greatest loves came together in a most glorious way.  That's right, baking and science.  Alright, I have a lot of greatest loves, I'll admit, but these are high on the list.

A good family friend graduated from Georgia Tech and I HAD to make this as his gift:

That's right, a periodic table made of cupcakes.

I can't begin to tell you how many hours of work went into this, but it was truly a labor of love.  

I began on Wednesday by baking 12 dozen cupcakes.  Half chocolate, half yellow cake.  They were stored in ziploc baggies in the freezer until Friday.  I had another friend come over to help, because I knew there was no way I could ice and decorate all those cupcakes with the 4 kiddos running around.

I worked her like a slave until lunch, when she had to get her own to little one's home for naps, and then once I got done sticking on about a million fondant circles, I got down to the nitty gritty...piping on all those darn symbols and numbers!

Confession time...I did not do this from memory.  I know, I know, you would think I could just recall all 118 on a whim, but I can't.  I blame all the pregnancies.  I'm sure if it were not for the many times my body was forced to reroute blood from my brain to my growing fetus, I could.  But I had to use a cheat know, just to make sure they were all in the right place.  

Once at the party, it was a thing of beauty.  All those cupcakes, all that fondant, all those noble gasses...

It is my greatest cake creation.

So far.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A quick cleaning tutorial : Dog Vomit

If you're like me, you've been in that situation of hearing a dog start to hork something up, only to be too slow in getting them out into the back yard.

If you're not like me you are VERY LUCKY!!!

Today I had the great pleasure of being on the phone when the boy dog decided to start working something up in the kitchen.  And of course, I was too late.

So I wanted to take a quick minute to share how I've learned to clean up dog vomit without vomiting myself.

First, get a huge stack of paper towels.  At least 5-6 thick.  The bigger the mess, the more towels.  20 layers is not out of the question.  Don't worry...trees and being environmentally friendly are nothing when liquids that come out of pets are part of the equation.

I took a couple pictures with my phone to illustrate.  Don't worry, I didn't take a picture of "it."

Then, take a plastic grocery bag and lay the wad of paper towels inside.

Now, hand this and a bottle of spray cleaner to your husband and say "have're the one who wanted dogs..."

OK, yeah...our dogs only barf when my husband is at work, too.

So take the vomit removal tool you just built and flip it over on the nasty spot.  Pinch it up and wipe around a little to remove the offending puddle.  Tie it up and pretend that it's not stomach contents you're carrying around.

Now, spray with some cleaner, wipe, and wash your hands with bleach.