Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hello, Summer!

Ahhhh, summer is here. Not officially, of course, but by my school calendar - yes, it is summer!

One of the joys of homeschooling is determining our own schedule. Especially when we rock it out all Memorial Day Weekend, and know we can sleep in on Tuesday!
This year, we are breaking for about a month, then having a little summer school to finish up whatever did not get done.

My plans for the summer:
  • clean the house ("clean" is a relative term, but the end of the school year usually means a slide into messiness. So, time to regroup and return the house into some semblance of order).
  • swim - lots and lots!
  • write...something....
  • potty train the Monkey
  • get the Monkey to sleep in his own room
  • just have fun!

Yup, that about does it for me!

Happy summer!

Friday, May 27, 2011

It Looks So Good

This past weekend, I was able to travel to Minnesota, to be a sponsor to my oldest niece as she became Confirmed. It was a beautiful ceremony at the Basilica in Minneapolis. The whole visit was enjoyable. I have never seen my older brother's home (although they have been there about 15 years - shame on me!), which is in a gorgeous neighborhood around a lake. Of course the best part was just being with my brother, sister-in-law, nephew, and nieces. I even got to see my 12-year-old niece, Grace, perform in a choir concert and a piano recital!

The not-so-fun part? The flights there and back! Both involved a good amount of turbulence (which makes me ill), and both were affected by storms. We arrived in Minnesota in between thunderstorms (that eventually brought tornadoes) and we came back home hours before big storms (that dropped 8 tornadoes!).

As we were bouncing along the jetstream, I was thinking about what we would look like from the ground. I live close to a regional airport, and only about 30 or 40 minutes from the big airport, so we see plenty of planes around our house. They glide gracefully through the sky.

Or at least they look graceful from the ground, and they look like they are gliding from thousands of feet away. But sitting in my bouncing airplane this weekend, I pondered on the fact that things are not always what they seem. What looks like a smooth ride from a distance, can in reality be bumpy turbulence. 

Sometimes we look at our lives, and we know the turbulence we experience on a daily basis - what crosses we carry, what vices we fight, what heartaches we bear. In between smooth stretches of peace, we are jostled by the disturbances we experience, wondering if it will smooth back out or if this time will be the time we go into a tailspin.

Looking at the lives of others can become a distraction.  We wish we could have a life like that (that easy, that successful, that well-off, that fulfilling, that you-name-it). Some people seem to have it so easy, don't they.

Don't they?

Every life has a story. Every heart has its burdens. Every person is touched by tragedy and difficulty of some kind. No one ever gets a smooth ride in life, from beginning to end. There will always be turbulence. Even if it is not noticeable to others.

Just remember, next time you start to wish for someone else's life - go out and watch a few planes!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


"No" is a very powerful word.

"Is it life-threatening?" - "No".

"Did I pay that bill late?" - "No."

"Do you want fries with that?" - "No."

The Monkey (formerly known as the Mad Toddler) wields the word "no" like a shield - for defensive purposes, to allow the verbal assaults of his family members to bounce off his small consciousness into the inoffensive atmosphere around his tousled head.

Earlier this week, we (the Monkey and I) were cuddling up at bedtime, reading his new book about big trucks. It should have been a golden moment. Only, I had to go and ruin it all! The Monkey has this thing about my hair - my hair is his security blanket (which explains a lot about the reasons why he is rooming with ArtGuy and me). When tired, sick, or just needing a little comfort, he wraps his hands in my hair (even if it is in a ponytail - ouch!). This is also a part of our bedtime routine. So, this particular night, we were reading all about big rigs, the Monkey's hands woven in and around my hair, when he had the misfortune to sneeze.

Little kids, when they sneeze, automatically pull their arms in towards their bodies. I learned this when my oldest nephew, Petey (now 20) was an infant. I laid him on the floor and hung over him, playing peek-a-boo. He grabbed my long hair in both his hands, and sneezed....hard..... I have never forgotten the pain involved, but I obviously relaxed my guard the other night.

The Monkey sneezed - "Ac-hoo!" - and just about ripped my hair resting in his left hand out of my scalp. I yelped. It was an automatic reaction. It just....dang....hurt!

I quickly laughed, to prove to the Monkey that I was not angry or mad, and said something like, "Silly Mommy yelled when you pulled her hair, but everything is fine now!"

Only everything was not fine now.

The Monkey stared defiantly at me, refusing to "curl" my hair again. I though the best way to handle it all was just to keep reading and let it blow over. The Monkey had no intention of letting it go. He shows his displeasure with one small word....

Me: This is a tractor.

Monkey: No it's not

Me: It has big wheels

Monkey: No, it doesn't

Me: It is as tall as three children

Monkey: No, it's not.

Me: Farmers use tractor to dig up fields.

Monkey: No, they don't.

Me: (turning page) This is a cement truck.

Monkey: No, it's not

Me: It has many parts - the hopper...

Monkey: No

Me: ...the chute...

Monkey: No

Me: ...the exhaust pipe...

Monkey: No

Me: ...the drum

Monkey: No

Ad infinatum - for about 10 more pages! I just kept reading to see how long he would keep it up. He is relentless.

The Monkey also uses the word no as an indication of a state of denial when he encounters something unpleasant. For example, any mention of potty-training. Case-in-point - our conversation this afternoon:

Me: Why are you hiding?

Monkey: The bike needs to go poopy.

Me: I think you need to go poopy - not the bike. Why don't you go poopy in the potty?

Monkey: No.

Me: I will buy you a toy.

Monkey: No.

Me: A car?

Monkey: No.

Me: A pony?

Monkey: No.

Me: Real estate?

Monkey: No.

Me: You are a big boy now. Big boys use the potty.

Monkey: No, they don't.

Me: Sure they do! Romeo uses the potty.

Monkey: No, he doesn't.

Romeo: Yes, I do!

Monkey: No.

Me: Romeo goes poopy in the potty.

Monkey: No, he doesn't. 

Me: Yes, he does. He doesn't wear diapers. Isn't that right, Romeo.

Romeo: That's right! I wear underpants.

Monkey: No, you don't.

The Monkey does not surrender. He continues his barrage of the negative until the unpleasant subject has been dropped.

It is quite impressive, what he can convey with one, small, two-letter word.

I would tell him that only he would just say,


Monday, May 16, 2011

A Beautiful Weekend

I am typing this outside.

Outside, I tell you.

North Texas is enjoying an unexpected burst of beautiful spring weather. Today the high will be 75, I believe. It is beautiful - as it has been for the past three days. So, it is afternoon, and I am sitting in a patio chair on the back porch, listening to birds chirp, while the Monkey pours sand into the water side of his sand/water table. Bliss!

I cannot believe the end of the school year is coming. We still have things to finish up, but most of the heavy lifting will be done in two weeks. I cannot wait! Already soccer is done, youth group is done, and this week Cub Scouts will be done! This means ArtGuy and I may actually see each other on a daily basis soon!

1) We had the Monkey's birthday party yesterday. He was so excited! This was the first birthday he "understood", so watching him was a lot of fun.

2) We keep telling the Monkey that, since he is now three, he is going to learn to use the potty and sleep in his own room. He does not look impressed.

3) I am shaving my legs every day, since the Monkey has taken it as his responsibility to do "leg checks" in public, then announcing to everyone in earshot that "Euw! Mommy, your legs have lots of prickles! I don't want to touch them." ....Thanks son.

4) The Young Adult is attending his Scottish Highland dance class three times a week this month. Three times a week equals 4 1/2 hours of rehearsal! I participated in the last five minutes of just their cool down on Friday, and my core muscles screamed in protest the rest of the weekend. I think if I could take that class, I would be in shape (or dead) in a month! Their cool-down - their cool-down, mind you - is what I have done as the main part of cardio exercise classes. Which confirms my theory that Highland Dance is not for wimps!

5) As nice as the weather is, I am sure it will be 105 degrees, like last year, by June 4, when we go to the Arlington Highland games for the next dancer competition.

6) Cookie Boy takes his swimming test for Boy Scouts tonight. The community pool has been too cool (due to the unseasonably cool weather) for us to practice much this past week. We have been practicing on dry land! Poor kid! Good luck!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Thursday Smursday

It is not even noon yet.

  • The Monkey (my new name for the Mad Toddler, since he outgrew his name) has been climbing on furniture all morning, liberally throwing out exasperated "whatevers" to me at regular intervals. You know, just to make me feel good.
  • I discovered that Romeo and Cookie Boy have not brushed their teeth with toothpaste for over a week.
  • I totally lost my temper over the whole Non-Toothpaste Brushing Sessions.
  • Another book is yet again rejected. They are all so nice in their rejections. Do they mean it? Or is it publisher code for "you stink, but since we are nice people we will soften the blow"?
  • I have already raided the forgotten Easter candy ArtGuy and I shoved in the Monkey's closet (or, as we refer to it, "the closet in the extra room", since the Monkey seems to be our permanent roommate)
  • I have already hit the Diet Dr. Pepper!
What does all this mean?

IT'S THURSDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I always know when it is Thursday, because everything goes south! All the energy I began the week with is gone, baby gone! My deepest desire is to crawl back into bed with a bowl of snacks and a good book.

But, in good news, ArtGuy finally scheduled a date for us tomorrow night! And no one is sick (yet) or injured (for now), we have a babysitter (at the moment), and somewhere for The Young Adult to go hang out (since he is 13 and the babysitter is a 14 year old friend).

Just gotta make through today.

Ironically, we are probably going to go see "Thor". (You know Thor - Thursday).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Heresy (of the Literary Kind)

It was announced in March that Jennifer Garner will be in a Disney movie, playing Agatha Christie's Miss Marple.

Yeah.....let that sink in a moment.....

First -Yes, Jennifer Garner is gorgeous.

Second - Disney has a tendency to practice eminent domain on story-lines. "We want it, we'll take it, and then we will do what we want with it."

I think they may produce a good movie - a good mystery. A mystery movie where the main character is a kind of prim amateur detective. Who happens to be named Miss Marple.

That does not make it a Miss Marple movie,

The heads of Disney screwed it up again. No matter how good of a movie this is, in an objective way, it is an insult to Agatha Christie and to Miss Marple, and to seniors everywhere.

The whole point of Miss Marple is that she was an elderly lady - an innocent-looking, fluffy, harmless "old puss" who managed to catch murderers with her wisdom and her "fine sense of evil."  She was elderly enough, and with enough infirmity, to not be allowed to work in her garden. Yet, she could track down cold-blooded killers with a ruthlessness that was shocking.

"If anybody had been there to observe the gentle-looking elderly lady who stood meditatively on the loggia outside her bungalow, they would have thought she had nothing more on her mind than deliberations on how to her arrange her time that day..." (From A Caribbean Mystery)

Miss Marple was not afraid to call evil, "evil". She was described as "fluffy", "harmless", "scattered", "unimportant", "far too old to take care of herself", and "old". So part of her charm lies in her age, in her state of life.

To have her "updated" to a much younger woman is to lose who Miss Marple it. And sadly, many people who go to see this movie will not have ever read one of Christie's wonderful Miss Marple books. Nor will they read them after viewing the movie.


Monday, May 9, 2011

Big Three

My baby is three today!!!


The Mad Toddler is going to have to get a new nickname, because as of today, he is no longer a toddler. I am sad to see my baby leave his baby days behind, but I am excited to know we are just beginning the great adventure of discovery of the outside world.

New bike for the 2nd birthday

I love my baby! He is independent, strong-willed, curious, sweet, playful, with just a dash of self-preservation. he is adored by his three big brothers, and loved to pieces by his mom and dad.

Loving on Granny

It has been a real experience having a baby BE a baby all by himself. The older three are all two years apart, so life was pretty crazy when they were all small. This time around, the Mad Toddler had babyhood all to himself and two parents and three junior parents to dote on him. He has never lacked for entertainment or company.

He is loved, and he knows it!

A couple of weeks before the Mad Toddler's appearance

Arriving via emergency c-section, the 10 1/2 lb Mad Toddler arrives
Almost edibly delicious!
With Grandma Nan at age 1 1/2
Canoing at age 2
Matching shirts with The Young Adult

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Party On

Oh yeah, those are chocolate-covered Peeps!

Did you know there are 40 days of Lent, but FIFTY (5-0) days of Easter?

Did you know we are called to feast during those 50 days? Not just to rejoice, but to feast, to celebrate in the flesh, to party on!

The Church takes holy days seriously!

So, my first thought is that this means I get to pig out on Easter candy for 50 days! But that is a bad, bad idea! If I did that, I would run into gluttony, and I am pretty sure that is not okay, even during perpetual feasting! So fine - I am putting away those cheap bags of 75% off Easter candy (knowing I have the self-control of a two year old).

As much as we fasted during Lent, so we should take seriously the call to perpetual feasting for the 50 days of Easter. Decorations, flowers, special meals, dinner parties, volunteering, family prayers of thanksgiving and praise - these can all be part of the great Easter feast. There are no set rules for the great Easter feast, but the call is clear:

Party on, my friends!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tuesday's Thoughts

1) I have 10 minutes of battery life remaining, and then my computer will die. Typing fast!

2) I am sitting in McDonald's, in the play room, using the free Wi-Fi to write. I am now a stereotypical "McDonald's parent" who is not paying attention to their kids  (although I really am paying attention)

(here my computer finally gave out, so this is continued at home)

3) I am wearing a white shirt. Glancing down, I see several "whoopsie" spots on my shirt. I should not be allowed to wear a white shirt outside the privacy of my own home.

4) Today was a very easy day, homeschooling-wise. Everything got done quickly and efficiently. Which makes me wonder what I forgot or left out...

5) The cartoon drawing of Batman and Robin on the McDonald's Happy Meal box is very disturbing. Robin looks....interesting. If you get a chance to see it, let me know what you think.

6) ArtGuy's Beetle's battery died....as soon as I turned off the car in our driveway on Sunday, as we returned home from Houston. Just try and tell me that our guardian angels weren't watching out for us!

7) The Young Adult told CupCake this weekend that "When Mom isn't teaching, she is either sleeping or on facebook". Not true. I also am on Hotmail and Blogger!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Blessed Mercy Highland Houston

A weird blog post title to describe the weekend!

1) Mercy - Divine Mercy Sunday - a beautiful reminder one week after Easter Sunday. Mercy is a word that is not appreciated enough. Doesn't mercy always surprise us? Mercy when a late paper is forgiven, mercy when a friend does not get mad over a stupid comment we made, mercy when our spouse forgive us for doing something boneheaded or even hurtful, mercy when a debt is cancelled, mercy when a police officer gives us a warning and not a ticket - don't we say things like, "Wow, that was lucky!" or "I really dodged a bullet that time". No -it was mercy and it is always surprising. Mercy is beyond generosity. Mercy is soul deep. Today we remember the mercy that makes us a truly free people - free from bondage of the heart and soul, and we, in turn, need to be grateful and to pass that mercy along to others. Even when it makes us appear foolish in the eyes of the world.

2) Blessed - Happy beatification of John Paul II. Papa, pray for us!

3) Highland - yesterday was another Highland dance competition. The Young Adult danced four dances. He disqualified on two, came in 4th in one and 3rd in another, which sounds okay, but was actually last place in each dance. He was bitterly disappointed. But I am proud of him, and know he will keep working hard.

We got to see the last half of the South West Regional Championships, where there were two guys in the 18 and older category. That was an inspiration to The Young Adult. The guys were cool to watch!

I was reflecting yesterday how difficult this sport it. The kids work and work and work and work. Then it comes time for a competition, and they have to get each move just right. One wrong turn and you can be disqualified. Sigh. Even uneven socks can take points away.

The "littles" are so fun to watch. These are the youngest kids - like 4 and 5 years old. They are precious!

4) Houston - that is where we are. For the competition. My hair shows I am in Houston.. Since the birth of the Mad Toddler, my hair has been going downhill. Once my favorite physical feature about myself, now I hate it. It is not longer as think, and tends to be limp instead of full of body. Except when I am in Houston, apparently. It is like meeting an old friend again!  A frizzy, curly friend!!!
I am writing in my hotel room. We are about to pack up and head out, but it has been a great trip so far. Just me, the Young Adult, and our friend, Cupcake. They are so easy to travel with. They have their Nintendo DS's, and they play DS and talk DS all the time. It is like a vacation for me! Especially since ArtGuy is dealing with two kids with a tummy virus at home....