Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Bloom Where You are Planted

One of my favorite memories of college: It was a grey, cold Ohio winter day. Many students trooped into the chapel for the 6pm daily liturgy. The overall atmosphere was - gloomy.
Our presider that day was a priest whose name I no longer remember - he was older, thin, and had an adorable accent (French, French Canadian, maybe?). When he stood in front to give the homily, he paused, letting the kind of sad, grey atmosphere roll around the chapel.
"Bloom, bloom where you are planted," his joyful voice bounded into the quiet space.
All around me, my fellow students sat up straighter.
He looked around with a twinkle in his eye and repeated, "Bloom where you are planted!"
We all shook ourselves awake.
He went on to give a wonderful talk about no matter the weather, the trials, the atmosphere, God is with us at all times, and can help us to bloom, to succeed right where we are.
It was a long time ago, but my clear memory was of going in feeling blue, and coming on bouncing on my feet.

That homily, that moment, that call has stayed with me all these years. I have really been reflecting on it recently, quite a bit.

As my blog posts often show, I am still trying to figure out my place in this world. Just when I think I have it, everything shifts, and I no longer know who I am and what my calling is.

I love to write, sometimes. At other times, it is a challenge and a chore, but I love the feeling I get when something is finished.
I have not published in a few years, and it is bugging me.

($2.95 at! Buy now!)

I feel like I cannot call myself an author, a real author, with the few things I have done. Plus, I want to do more, I feel called to do more, but the doors have not been opened to me. They have not been slammed in my face, either, just gently closed.

So, am I supposed to write now?

I do, when I can.
Then the other thing - this stupid, frustrating, amazing, cool, maddening Lego thing I find myself involved in.
Ready, set, Lego!

Why? I am no science or math genius. I do not have the logic or head-space to easily grasp how to put together and program a robot. I suggested coaching a team almost 2 years ago, for fun, not knowing what I was getting myself into.
Here we are, a few days after finishing our 2nd season of competition. And it is getting more serious.
You see, our first year, we stumbled through the whole process, learning as we went, and doing a pretty good job for our first time. This second year, we went much deeper into the whole thing, and we came pretty close to winning a trophy at the regional Championships four days ago.
And is it over? No. Several team members have gone home to build more robots. Design more programs. Learn more.
The coaches - we are already plotting and planning.

So, I find myself here, wondering how did I get to this place in my life where I am reading a rather technical book on NXT programming, with the little time I have to read anything at all?

And I realize - Bloom, bloom where you are planted!


Friday, January 13, 2012

First Lego League Friday

We are down to ONE week until the North Texas Regional Championships! Whooo hoooo!

Today is our normal Friday FLL meeting. We will be synching both robots, downloading programs in order, running-running-running and working out kinks, working on the project, and other assorted goodies!

We are in prep mode for now. 20 minutes until the meeting!

Me, before the madness....

Charging robots, not at all like charging bulls

Dangerous Legos are kept behind bars!

Spirit wear - a work in progress

Team spirit!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Pity, Party of One

In homeschooling, some days are fulfilling, and some leave a lot to be desired.

Today was neither. It was an in-the-middle day. Not horrible, but it certainly had its low points.

  • Like when I found out the 6th grader was not doing his math....again....This from the kid who wants to be a future-math-teacher-of-America. Yeah, not actually doing your math may be a stumbling block to this particular dream. 
  • The realization that, although my mother and aunt are swooping in once-a-week, a la fairy godmother, and doing Cinderella's chores so she can join the Ball of Life one day a week, I am still an abysmal  housekeeper. Not shooting for "House Beautiful" here, just would like to walk through a room and not go "ugh"!
  • Reading a new blog, which has like 100 replies, including people chanting "Publish", "Go on tour", "You are our new favorite". Not that my goal is blog-stardom, but I would like to be successful writer ("successful" here means published and respected, not wealthy), and my writing feels....silly.
  • I have to drive the Young Adult to dance for the 2nd time this week. Which I hate. 30 minutes in and 30 minutes back= 1 hour of stress. Drivers here are, mostly, so rude. It isn't that I am the slowest car on the road (at 5 miles over the speed limit), it is the tail-gating and swerving in front of me to prove a point. I hate it. But I will go, and try to be cheerful about it.
So, you see, it is nothing bad. But I am feeling a little blue and sorry for myself. It might be the headache I am trying to fight off. But it might just be plain ol' self-pity.

What is there to be sad about? I have a working vehicle, a working dryer, a working iPod (all recent additions), it is a sunny day, things are going well.

So, time to fight it. Call it what it is, and tell it to Go Away. Now.


"Pity, party of one? I am so sorry - looks like we are full for the day. You might want to try somewhere else."


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Kids are Making Me Fat

My kids are making me fat. I am sure of it.

I have never been a skinny girl, but there was a time in my life I was a lot thinner than I am now. (And yes, I complained about my weight then, but I would kill to get back there now!)
Yes, that was pre-kids, but it was also pre-Romeo. After the first two boys, I was able to drop back down to my pre-baby size.
Since then, it has been all uphill. In spite of diet changes, in spite of exercise. Even my Wii thinks I am fat. My Mii looked shocked and dismayed when it was forced to go from chubby to "obese' this week.
Is that going to motivate me to work out, Wii Sports, or is that going to make me run to the fridge? Hmmmm?

I digress.

My friend, Christy, sent me this article from Skinny Ms. (looooove the crock pot recipes on this site!) about the reasons why one may have trouble losing weight. Since I am doing everything else, I am going to boil it down to the 5th, 7th, and 10th reasons on this list (but for some weird reason, they are all numbered 1....).

Reason 5 - not enough sleep
Not since the Monkey was born. He is 3 1/2 now.  He waked up at the same early time every morning, regardless of when he goes to bed.


Reason 7 - Stress
Would stress mean teaching my 12-year-old about Puritans as a pre-lesson for The Scarlet Letter, only to find out 5 minutes into it that he was not listening to one word I was saying. Not exactly life-affirming.
Or would that be Christmas Eve, at the Children's Liturgy mass I was helping out, when the Monkey began playing with my cute black beaded purse at our pew, while I was directing? I sweated it out during the "Gloria", as he fiddled with the zipper, slowly, tortuously, leaving me to wonder if he was about to yank the zipper open, spilling out my massive feminine products that only a woman who has given birth to a 10 1/2 lb baby has to wear. Or later, during that same Mass, as the same child sat in my lap and decided to - at that very moment in time - become interested in the bumps under Mommy' shirt. My shirt that day had a lower neckline. I caught it down at one point, and could only hope I did not scar the gentleman directly behind us.


Reason 10 - Dressing nicely and with clothes to fit your body will help you with self-esteem and to feel more motivated.
Hello? Did I mention my kids are the reason I am fat? I am now too poor, too stressed and too tired to even care what my fat behind looks like. Perhaps if someone ever took me out on dates, that would help. Ah hem. Just saying.

I have given my majority-of-too-small clothes 6 months to fit again, or they are gone. Whimper.

At least I have someone to blame!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

One Pez to Rule Them All

Yes, this is the kind of nerd I am!
A HUGE thank you to our friends, the Geyer family, for this awesome gift! You have no idea how badly I wanted these. Well, actually, you probably do know. Your son (15) and mine (14) write in Elvish to one another.....and I taught them....Enough said....

Aw, yeah! This is nothing but pure awesomeness!

"The Pez is mine! My own, my precious.."

"I know what I have to do! The Pez was entrusted to ME. It's my task, mine, my own!"

Frodo - "I wish the Pez had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened."
Gandalf - "So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the Pez given to us."

Shall I go on? Because I can, you know?

I thought not...

The above are Gandalf-Pez and Aragorn-Pez. But ArtGuy thinks we can use these as "God" and "Jesus", respectively.
I think he has a point.
Jesus looks scary.

Gimli and Gollum are super-awesome!
"Sworn Pez may strengthen quaking heart."
"We wants it! We needs it! Must have the Pez! They stole it from us! Sneaky little hobbitses. Wicked, tricksy, false!"
Happiness! Joy! Bliss!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Famous (and nearly-famous) Friends

Friends are good. But sometimes I wish so many of my friends were not as highly successful as they are. Not that I wish them failure (really...), but I wish they stopped making me look so bad!

One of my friends is an author, rapidly becoming a "famous" author, having the kind of success I want, but so far, can only dream of.

Bobbi Sheahan, wife, mother, and author-extraordinaire. She also makes me laugh so hard soda comes out my nose.

Another friend is also a writer.

Another friend is Mrs. Kansas, and is getting ready for the Mrs. America competition, where I am predicting she is going to kick butt. Politely of course, and with a great smile!

Bobbie Padgett is crowned Mrs. Kansas in Sept. 2011

Another friend is extremely gifted in photography, while another couple excel in singing.
Other friends may not reach the world of fame or notice, but they surpass themselves as mothers, homeschoolers, cooks, etc...
Plenty of people I went to college with have gone on to careers important to the Church. One of my grad-school friends has several books, is in demand for talks, and founded his own institute.

Even my mother-in-law has her own book now! (and it is great!)
The Monkey is so excited to "do school" with Grandma Nan's new book!

Me? Lots of aspirations, mainly.

This is not meant to be a "pity-me" post, but just  collection of thoughts I had today, mainly while reading facebook as I tried to wait out the Monkey's temper tantrum (it was a long one). I love and hate facebook. I love that it keeps me connected with people, love that I can give a shout-out when I am happy or sad, love that sometimes it is my link to sanity in my homeschooling day. Other times it is a reproach to me. I get on and read my friends'  postings about their book signings, trips, interviews given to newspapers, awards, Nobel prizes, etc.... I had just been about to say something like, "Laundry in the dryer", which seemed like such a major accomplishment up until that point.

St. Therese of Lisieux was never my favorite saint. I admired her, of course, but never felt that close to her. But my adult life has changed that. I realized it wasn't that I did not like St. Therese - I was scared of her.

My idea of success is big and bold. I want to be a writer - so that means I need to be published and praised and use those desires to help bring the financial support my family so desperately needs. I want to sing - that means I need to never make a mistake, and I need to know others don't hate my voice (finding out one older gentleman in my parish hated my voice will probably put me in therapy for years to come). I am a homeschooler - so I should be churning out Rhodes scholars. I am a Catholic homeschooler - that has a whole different world of expectations.
I prefer my women saints to be big and bold and busy! St. Joan of Arc (totally kick-butt warrior), St. Theresa of Avila (Doctor of the Church), St. Edith Stein (intellectual, writer, and teacher).

But St. Therese lived a quiet life. A brief life. Her main focus was on living her life in love, doing small things.

Small things? Where is the glory? Where is the fame? Where is the opportunity for "wholesome" pride?

Small things are just that - small. They may not get seen or noticed. They may not pay the bills. They may not gather praise.

It is the smallness, the stillness that is so frightening. For if I am not known, I may not matter. So says my warped sense of self.

The reproach of my file drawer of unpublished work still bothers me. I wonder - will it ever mean anything? My facebook posts remain about as lame as they can be (I do stop short of publicly celebrating the fact I got fully dressed today. I do draw the line somewhere!).
But the challenge presented remains - do all things, ALL things, whether they are seen or unseen, with great love. Live life with love, and live for loving others, even if your own life lives ends in obscurity. Even if all you can do is bask in the success of your friends.

And celebrate the laundry getting done, dang it! Some times the small things do matter!