Friday, July 29, 2011

7 Quick Takes (vol 1)

 I am trying something new! Thanks to Jennifer Fulwiler and her blog Conversion Diary for hosting 7 Quick Takes!. And thanks to friend and fellow writer, Lori, for letting me copy what she does!

1.  I really need a way to write at the moment. I was looking forward to summer, because it generally means more free time, which translates to "time to write". Usually.

This summer has not been a good writing summer. I am starting to worry.  Maybe the well has run dry?  Maybe it was all a silly fantasy that makes me feel better. You know, when people ask, "What do you do?" I can answer, "I am a writer." When I say this, people nod their heads and look (moderately) impressed.

I mean, it isn't like I said, "I am a successful writer."

But without this fantasy of writing, I respond, "I am a stay-at-home mom", or if feeling very brave, "I am a homeschooling stay-at-home mom."
There are usually 2 responses to this. People look away in embarrassment and mumble something like, "Oh, that is interesting," or they stare at me in speechless wonder ("She does not look that psychotic.")

2. The Monkey, now age 3, will be joining us in the school room this year. Not that we normally kick him out, but he has always just played while we school. This year will mark the beginning of "preschool". I never did preschool with Cookie Boy, because I was still so new to the whole homeschooling thing back when The Young Adult began. Romeo was a different story.
When Romeo was 3 and 4, his big brothers were in early elementary school. Romeo would sit and listen to their lessons while he played. When they couldn't answer, he would. Very impressive. Having their 4-year-old brother (Romeo) answer math and geography questions (correctly) was a powerful learning motivator for the oldest two!
I am not sure what kind of scholar the Monkey will be. He is not as quiet and observant as Romeo. He is definitely more of an "active" learner. So I am gearing things for hands-on learning.

3. Which means I have spent the past few weeks immersed in gathering wisdom about how to homeschool preschool. Again. It has been a while since I have done this.

There are some great blogs and website out there, some of which I am relying on heavily. That is great.

On the other hand, they make me feel "itty-bitty" in my core. No, I do not weave hand-dyed wool into cute animal rugs for my school room. Nor can I sew gorgeous felt planets for my mini-unit on space.

Hello? I cannot even get the laundry done, for heaven's sake!

Besides, my hand-sewn felt fish look like Franken-fish. It isn't pretty.

4. Rain. We don't have it. Any of it. The ground is breaking up around the house, which makes me worry for our foundation. Do you know, when they did the original land survey for this north central Texas region, they marked it as "unsuitable for development"? The ground is very unstable. Clay-ish soil. Not enough rain. Hot summers. All this leads to scary, large cracks in the earth, large enough to swallow small animals.
And hot! Yes, Texas is hot, but this summer has been HOT. Nasty hot.

5. We are going to try and fry (or cook) an egg in our van soon. It is that hot.

6. This week has been "Battle of the Boy Scouts". The oldest two boys are in Boy Scouts. Cookie Boy is still new. The Young Adult is not. But he will not work on merit badges. I do not know why.  It is like pulling teeth. We have talked to him several times, and he likes Scouts and wants to be involved. But he won't work.


That is all I am saying.

7. How do fish disappear? One 3-inch fish just vanished from the tank. Did the much smaller fish gang up on him in the middle of one night? Did the cat finally figure out a way to open the tank, take out a fish, then neatly close the tank before he enjoys his snack? It isn't like he hasn't been trying.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Blazing Hot

So, today is day 26  in a row of 100+ temps in North Central Texas. We have over 30 days over 100+ in total this summer.
I am a native Texan, but this is hot, even for us natives!

What does this mean?

  • the grass in my yard...well, let's call it the "former grass" in my dead!
  • the low - the LOW, mind you, was 86 degrees the other night. 
  • my ancient van is barely able to cool the interior temps down while we are driving
  • our house AC runs almost continuously from about 2pm until midnight
  • Momma ain't goin' anywhere she doesn't have to!
The Monkey does not like this "don't go outside" routine we have.  He is quite unhappy.

What have we learned?
  • The library, the bookstore, Target, and the movie theater all have great AC's. The iffy.
  • The Raceway and the QT are very conveniently placed for our errands. Frosty drinks, anyone?
  • We do not leave the house without water.
We are going to try to cook an egg in our van tomorrow! Coooool!

Thursday, July 21, 2011


I just put dinner in the oven.

Tonight's entree is an Impossible Pie, featuring last night's leftover chicken, tossed with shredded cheddar, peas, and seasonings, along with the usual Impossible Pie stuff. It is hardly difficult to make, but even still, I dragged my feet into the kitchen, barely able to lift the mixing bowl onto the counter. I felt....sorry for myself.

I hate making dinner. It is true. I wish I did like it. "Loves to Cook" is way high up the on the huge list of  "Talents I Wish God Had Given Me".  But it isn't.

Today being one of "those days" with the Monkey (and to be honest, with myself), I had an even lower desire to prepare dinner than normal.

I love the "Anne of Green Gables" book series. I have read them often since my older brother and sister gave me a boxed set when I was around 13. After I became a mother, I remember reading about Anne's mothering days, despairing that I could not be as happy, creative, and free as she seemed to be (and yes, I am horribly influenced by what I read, hear, or see. So the "Be Careful Little Eyes What You See" song has great meaning to me). THEN I finally realized that Anne had house help! And I thought about it.

I think I, too, could be a much more fabulous mother if I had someone to clean my house, or care for my little one from time to time, or - cue the "Hallelujah Chorus" - make dinner for my family.

After that, I didn't feel so bad when I read about people with house help.

I digress...

Back to me feeling sorry for myself in the kitchen tonight, while I spent all of 15 minutes throwing dinner together.

Sure - I hate making dinner. But my family needs to eat. I have to make dinner. I have two choices each time I enter that kitchen:
  1. To go about dinner prep with a heavy heart, doing my "duty", or
  2. Offering it as a gift to my family, and through my family, to God. And this assumes the grumbling (even the inner griping) stops. 
Either way, dinner ends up on the table.
But my heart knows the difference.

"God sees only her love. She may exhaust herself , even kill herself with work, but unless her work is interwoven with love it is useless. God does not need her work. God will not ask (her) how many books she has read, how many miracles she has worked, but He will ask her if she has done her best, for the love of Him...". . Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, Love: A Fruit Always in Season, sixth Sunday after Pentecost, Wednesday.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Wow! So, this week has been uber-busy. I hate saying that, because I am not a "let's tally how busy I am" kind of person, but it has been a virtual whirlwind for weeks now! Summer won't even start for me until a week from now.

This year, I am helping solicit and pick up donations for our church's VBS program. This is....not my forte, shall we say. It has been a true testament to how willing am I really to serve! I have also just been chanting to myself for weeks, "I have no sense of pride. I have NO sense of pride". Usually before I call or walk into a business, and tell them with my best smile why they should want to donate or discount services to our program.

But VBS officially begins tomorrow night, and it will be so- much -FUN!!!!! It astounds me how many people it actually takes to pull a VBS together. It is a monumental undertaking!

Hope your week was great!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Secrets of a Cantor

I am a cantor. This means that I sing at church. Sure, I sing in a choir, but I also lead songs when there is not a choir. It also means that I lead the psalm during Mass. The psalm is not a "song", like the opening song. It is actually part of the liturgy. So a cantor leads the congregation in the sung prayer of the psalm.

Here are my top 5 things I would like you to know about being a cantor:

 1. It is not a performance - I may sing solo on the psalm, but it is sung prayer, not a performance. It is a different style of singing than singing with a band, or on a stage. My goal is for you not to notice me as a singer, but to hear the words of God.

2. There is a lot of work behind what you hear. I practice each new psalm. It is not all about the notes, although those are important, too.I learn the notes, I learn how to make the notes interesting, and I learn to sing the song to the accompaniment. In addition, I pray the psalm itself beforehand, learning it, not just as a song, but as a prayer. I also educate myself throughout the year on the liturgy and how to minister through music.

3. When you laugh and whisper during the psalm, I begin to get very paranoid! I begin to wonder if I have a wardrobe malfunction, or something on my face, or maybe I said the wrong word - a really wrong word! So, stop talking and pray, dang it!

4. While it is not about me as a performer, it is nice to hear compliments from time to time. It helps me to know that you are not cringing every time I sing. Oh, and if you know of someone who really hates my voice, just keep it to yourself. It is never funny (or helpful) to let me know there is a guy on the right side who wants to leave every time he knows I am singing. No matter how funny you find that fact, it makes me nervous and jumpy, wondering who out there hates me so much.

5. Sing! No matter how bad you think your voice is, sing anyway. Singing at church is not an audition, nor is it being critiqued by anyone. God gave you your particular voice, so whatever it sounds like is beautiful to Him. I wish everyone could hear the sound of a congregation singing from the front. You rarely hear individual voices. Instead, it comes at you as one sound - a beautiful sound!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Friday Madness

Many, many people like Fridays. I have nothing personal against them, but they tend NOT to be my favorite day of the week. Some Fridays, like next Friday, are First Lego League meeting days, which are a headache unto themselves (but I luuuuuv my team!).

Fridays in the school year are for our homeschool coop, which is great, cool, and helpful (that use of the Oxford comma is in honor of my Baby Bro!), but are at the same time a pain-in-the-you-know-whats.

Today was neither a homeschool coop nor a Lego meeting, which should have rendered it rather harmless, but alas! No, it was a pain-in-the-you-know-what, nevertheless!

The Monkey is having a tough week. Do three-year-olds teethe? Have mid-life crises? I don't know, but he is having issues of some kind. All week long has been one battle after another. Lots of fits. Lots of tantrums. Lots of madness. (Multiple episodes of "poopy-on-the-foot", which lead to episodes of  "poopy-on-my-floor", and the words "Mommy, you look like a cow", kind of show case my week...)

Which means this is going on day FIVE of having a headache for me. Ugh.

Today was going to be a big day. Today we were going to see Cars 2.
Okay, so this is too dark, but you can kind of make out the Monkey here...Pretend it is a Nintedo 3D, and hold it just right...

The Monkey's first big screen movie! He love, loves, loves Cars. We have watched it something close to a zillion times, and we own almost every Hot Wheels style car there is. So, I was all psyched up. The Monkey was not so sure. The noise, the darkness, the loud was not the best of times, but it certainly leaned towards the worst of times! In fact, the Monkey asked to go potty twice during the movie, in spite of having a diaper on for the occasion. I told myself it was because he was progressing in his potty training, but the reality is, he just wanted an excuse to leave the movie. After two potty trips and an in-house fit, I gave up and took him to the lobby. The three older boys finished watching and met us later. Wrestling with a heavy three-year-old is like lifting animated weights. Can you say "back pain"?

In spite of my recent success on the South Beach Diet (whoo hoo), I ditched it all for some comfort food this afternoon. A pounding headache and a desire to auction off my preschooler led to a small feast on my part. There is a reason it is called "comfort" food. Ahhhhhh!
Found a stash of hidden candy from Easter. This might have saved my life today.

Friday Thoughts:
  • The preview for the new Winnie the Pooh movie looks so sweet! I am going to see it, even if the Monkey won't.
  • Smurfs looks s-t-u-p-i-d (Can't say the word. Gets me in trouble with the Monkey every time). Based solely on the preview, if you replace the Smurfs with small, talking chipmunks, I believe I have seen that movie already.
  • Ditto for the new Spy Kids movie.
  • The trailer for the new Muppet movie was clever! At first, I was thinking, why are they advertising a romance movie to the young crowd, but then Kermit showed up. Good one!
  • Cars 2 could have done without the political oil message. Just seemed out of place. Also, there were a lot of car "deaths". A little more mature movie than I was expecting. The big boys liked it, though (even the 13-yr-old!)
  • Do you know about Time4Learning? They have an amazing deal for new members right now - a huge savings! It is an on-line home education program that totally rocks! We have used it for years now, and love it. It is based on a monthly fee. We use it one or two months a year to supplement our curriculum, but it would make a great summer course to stop the summer brain drain our kids tend to experience! Check it out!
  • A facebook friend, Julie M recommended this link which I think is brilliant! Do you have an old or recalled crib you do not know what to do with? Consignment Mommies gives some really smart ideas for re-purposing cribs (love the chalkboard and the bench!)
  • Keep watching! Deep in the Heart has been invited to join the BlogHer network! I am super excited about this, and will be linking up in the next week! Whoo hoooo!
Have a great weekend!