Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The years are short, but the days sooo long...

Happy End of the First Week of School 2013-2014.  AY-YI-YI!


You know something that homeschoolers rarely say?  There are some weeks we'd just rather sell them all to the gypsies and sit on the couch and eat bon bons.  Something else we never tell you?  Sometimes, especially as the kids get older, these wonderful, miserable weeks happen on the VERY first week back.

I mean sure, we learned a ton of stuff this week...Math, Grammar, we're digging through both the Civil War and the Space Race (more on the strangeness of that combination in a future post)...but you know what you learn MOST in the first week of school?  How to wake up in the morning and get to what you need to get to.  You learn that making the bed has to be done before you eat and if you lollygag those eggs are gonna be cold (ga-ross).  You learn that if, by chance, you decide not to do an assignment, mom is going to find out when she grades in the late afternoon, and you, dear child, are going to stay in from playing with the neighborhood kids.

You learn to share the resources that you've become accustomed to having for your very own and you have to get over it because you are the teacher and those kidz gotta has pencilz.  Even those pretty, brightly colored crystal ones with .9 lead that no other self-respecting adult would admit to loving...the same pencils you've been hording in your elephant all summer.  (Actually, Toad looks a little judge-y.)


Realistically, it was a pretty great week back.  But I keep forgetting that vacation mentality is so very different than "time to work" mentality and I mourn the loss of wolfing down some cheerios and watching TV and then heading to the pool as much as they do.  As a matter of fact that was one of my whiney moments...I wanted to go to the pool for crying out loud...but they got up so late and were so slow, I didn't get to.  WAH!

We all do it.  For me, it sets up a fear that I have had nearly every first week of school for the last 11 years.  Fear that I will never be able to teach these kids, that it's all too much.  Fear that I'm not smart enough, not strong enough, not able to be what I need to be for these amazing kids and I will somehow fail them.  There's a bit of honesty for you.  We, Homeschool Moms, spend time fearing every single year.

The first week back is NOT a good week for me to talk to you about the joys of homeschooling because the first week back is so mentally debilitating that all I really want to do at the end of my day is lay down and hope, usually mistakenly, to sleep.  Constantly going over if Bear will ever get up and shower instead of reading "One more chapter", or if Beanie will ever NOT start every sentence with "I don't KNOW" or if your lesson plans will EVER not have been too much or too little and EVER finally fall into the just right category.

And JUST when you've decided this whole homeschooling gig is NUTS...and there is still time to buy school supplies and enroll them child will say, "Yeah, but more people died at Shiloh"...or respond gently with, "Oh, but see, you just forgot to carry the 1"...and your momma heart will sing... and you will remember that first weeks stink.  They stink for everybody...I mean, seriously, look at all the traffic posts about getting kids to public school that first week. 

For us, the second week is ALWAYS better...always.  And remembering, once again, that this too shall pass, as it always has, reminds me to be faithful, and patient because the joy?  It's TOTALLY coming.

See ya around...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Morning Pages...

I told you that I was reading "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron on another blog post a week or so ago...Yeah, still not finished with it.  But, we ARE using a tool from it called "morning pages", much to my darling childrens' disappointment.

The purpose of the morning pages is not new, especially to a journaling sort of person.  It's a rough get-it-down-on-paper-and-out-of-your-head-so-you-can-move-on sort of journal.  One of the interesting things about it for me is the rules. 

"Every morning, set your clock a half-hour early; get up and write
three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness morning writing. 
Do not reread these pages or allow anyone else to read them. 
Ideally, stick these pages in a large manila envelope or hide them somewhere. 
Welcome to the morning pages.  They will change you."

I've been doing them since the beginning of June and I'll tell you, it really DOES help with ideas because you aren't supposed to stop...So, you get to this place where you are SO VERY done doing REALLY REALLY don't have anything else to write and you are ready to put them away.  But you CAN'T because of the three page rule, you are STUCK.  So, you push through and sure enough, there are still ideas in there, irritations or problems that you still need to lay down or just lists of things that you don't want to forget.  And you get to that last flourish of your pen humming "We are the Champions" because you did was hard...and you didn't WANNA...and you did it.  In the end, you don't just have a few extra ideas, you have that tremendous feeling of having won.  Granted, it's words on a page...but hey, a win is a win.

One of the "problems" that I'd like to overcome this year, is my kids' reluctance to write any but the most basic information on paper.  They want to email, text or whatever.  They have not really been allowed to do much of that in any form but especially not in school.  And yet, they persist in asking. 

I started morning pages with them, more as a good discipline than a WRITING assignment.  They are allowed to fill up their pages with "I don't know what to say" or any other repetitive sentence but not single letters or pictures and I've changed the number of pages for each of them into a more appropriate amount.  But I want them to get into the habit of writing down thoughts, even if they never do it beyond the time I require it.

I do "look" at their pages, just to make sure they are actually doing them.  They date the first page and then I glance to make sure that they've actually filled in the required space and not just scribbled or drawn pictures or any of a number of things they have tried to DECEIVE me!!!  (I'm becoming very wise, daily.) But I do my best NOT to read them and if I accidently pick up a word or two, I strike it from my memory as best I can.  They do their pages in a spiral just for ease of storage, but that I'm aware of, they don't look back, except to add smiley faces and an odd picture of a cow, but that's not really READING them.  So far only one kid has asked me to read her pages, but it should be mentioned that she's already one of those artsy fartsy writer types, so it was kind of to be expected.

By and large they detest this exercise.  I present you a photograph collection called "We HATE Morning Pages" with an alternative title, "Our Mom Stinks and We Are Not Now, Nor Will We Ever Be Writers So She Should Just Get A Grip"...possibly that one will prove too cumbersome, no matter the truth in the advertising...

Monkey Face hates morning pages so much she is
USUALLY trying to write vertically, hanging upside down. 
Although I would NEVER read them, I'm very thankful
that her vocabulary has not caught up with
the malice she feels about this assignment. 
"Poopy-head" is a much safer way to vent, in my opinion.
Bear doesn't ACTUALLY hate morning pages, she
has chosen to use this as her outlet to write either the next
great American novel or a fabulous play.

We often sing, "One of these things is not like the others
One of these things just isn't the same" about Bear.

Beanie puts up with her morning pages but often
writes, "I HATE morning pages" and "This is lame"
within the pages themselves.  I do not know this, of course,
because the sanctity of the morning pages means
that I don't read them...or ever remember if I did...
Nor would I ever immortalize them on a public blog...ehem.

She really dislikes being around any of us while she's
writing them...thinks we're too happy...
and stupid...and she prefers the dog.

I don't really care if they like them or not.  Much as I do not care if they like broccoli.  I'm the boss, so they have to write them anyway.  (That sounds pretty good, doesn't it?  I sound like a toughie, right?  I'm working on it but they have really blue eyes and really pretty eyelashes and sometimes I have to yell stuff like, "I'M THE MOM, I DON'T CARE IF YOU LIKE IT" over my shoulder to maintain my backbone.)
Besides, I've noticed that they are starting to just accept them as their fate, aside from Monkey Face and her steely will.  There are some interesting things coming out of them.  Right now, I figure, it can't hurt.  If they can learn to use them as an outlet, even better.  But at the very least it will strengthen their fingers for when they are writing all the assignments that I DO get to read.  I'm very excited.

See ya around...

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Introverted Extroverted Scorpio

The inspiration for this piece was an article called "The Care and Feeding of Your Extrovert" from The Badger's Sett as well as this picture about How to treat an introvert that I first ran across on facebook awhile ago.

Over the years, most people who meet me have assumed that I am an extrovert, and I suppose I am. 

I CAN get up in front of a crowd and speak or sing or teach and once the microphone is in my hand I'm usually A-O-Kay...even if I've spent 3 weeks losing sleep and hair over it.

I am RARELY without some sort of friend in a fairly short amount of time no matter how often I've moved in my life.

I find "friends" in the darnest places...the grocery store...the parking lot...while pumping gas.

I have friends at every social strata and am pretty unimpressed with those social aspects that are supposed to matter.  I really don't care if you are a president of a company or a custodian or an elderly saint or a young sinner, or tattooed and need to pull up your pants, or have the right shoes and handbag etc.  That means that just about ANYONE is fodder for my friend collection.


I do have some weird introverted tendencies (not that being introverted is weird...just weird in an otherwise extrovert)...if I'm not TRAVELING, I'm kind of a homebody and the kind of homebody that doesn't really need anyone to come over.  I mean, I do wish I was more hospitable, but I also like to not worry too awfully much about the kitchen.  Not sure if that is truly introverted or just plain lazy.  I'm really good at ignoring people if I'm focused on something, like, for instance a really good book.  I'll sit by you...but otherwise, hush.  I tend to be a tad shy around new people and will stick like glue to whoever brought me until I'm comfortable.

I've been looking at personality tests and love language tests for awhile.  Not sure why exactly, it's just kind of interesting to see tendencies in people especially when they identify with one trait or another.  Then to throw another fun twist on it, I came across something about Scorpios (yes, I am one) a few weeks ago.  By and large I dismiss the zodiac stuff, but this particular article described me and a couple of my close Scorpio friends really well.  So I poked around a little.

They talked about the intense Scorpio stare and that often, the first thing people will notice about you is your eyes.  Got it...and it has gotten me into trouble on several occasions.  They talked about the intensity with which Scorpios can chase things, be it relationships or goals or projects..."would you care for a full page grocery list separated out by section of the store AND changed as the store changes, accompanied by a massive excel spreadsheet for menus that span the meals of 6 months or so?"... I have just the thing and will email it to you right now.  They talked about our secretiveness ... Our ability to hide in plain sight when we don't want to share...of course I don't want to talk about this one...would YOU if you had this super power?  I think not.

So...phew...It would seem, consulting all these things, I AM all that AND a bag of chips.  Bet you are, too.

One of my favorite things to do is guess about the people in my life based on what I know about them and how I think they would fall in these tests.

Beanie and Monkey Face - introverted until they know you and then so extroverted and precocious you are pretty sure that they will rule the world someday...and you wish there was a mute button available.

Bear - never met a stranger, extrovert, who has never, not even as a baby, needed a single person to entertain her in her life.  I used to lose her under the furniture at 18 months old because she'd grab a toy or a book and hide away from everybody.  (See above, how her momma can ignore people.)

My mommy - shy extrovert who says the craziest things that make people laugh right out loud.  She does try to say that she's an introvert...but, well, I don't think so.

Several of my best friends...wives - total introverts who can make deep friendships that last for years within moments of sitting quietly and talking to someone that they ran across at a party that their extrovert husbands brought about.

Here are a couple of sites and tests to help you judge your friends and neighbors...muahahahaha

Jung Typology Test

5 Love Languages Test

I'm not going to link to the zodiac stuff because other than being a little interesting, I think it can head people into bad places.  Besides there are a lot of cookie laden spam sites involved.  So search that one at your own risk.

In the end I don't think any of us can be completely defined by any one classification.  But I've had kind of a good time thinking about how I deal with things based not on the nurture of my parents but just on who God made me.  How he shaped my personality and how he formed the ways that I am refreshed.  It's also helped me to understand my kids a little better as they are faced with the day to day stressors of our lives.

Try's like TOTALLY fun...

See ya around...

Friday, August 9, 2013


That know when the cosmos dropped the bottle on my water line??  Well, there were more people in my world that day.  I spoke to a few people on the phone.  I spoke to my children.  And looking back, I've gotta tell you everything pre-catastrophe is a little tainted with the crab.  I'm not ready to claim complete responsibility, I believe that every other person in my world was crabby and I was merely in a bad mood due to these interactions.  Yep.


Immediately following the team work that the flood required there was a spontaneous upsurge of joy in being together.  After our earlier behavior, we were all "grounded" electronics...except for me because I'm in school plan mode, but even me for the most part. 

While I worked at pulling stuff together the girls disappeared up the stairs.  Earlier they had asked if they could set up our new GIGANTIC tent in the school room.  After the "incident" I just couldn't face it.  I'm pretty good at "It's not a mess, it's a memory" most of the time...but I'd reached my limit.  So when they offered to JUST make a fort...I was all over it.

And WHAT a fort.  I spy sheets and a shower curtain and numerous pillow cases...oh my.'s two rooms, there's a queen air mattress at the front and a twin REAL mattress crossways at the back...enough room for 3 girls to sleep comfortably...

 Dear reader, how could the children be expected to sleep without a fan or two (or even 3) blowing into their beautiful pavilion?  Surely, at least the southerners among you understand this need.  Sadly I didn't think to take pictures of all three fans...but yes, there were these two oscillating fans AND a box fan on the other side...

Eventually they put in a TV, a roku box AND a CD player.  Quite the oasis in our desolate game room.  All the comforts of home, right out in the middle of the ... ehem ... room. 

As a side bar...I did let them build it again the next night, after they proved that they could put it back...and it was even bigger and better...
Sometime around dinner time this was all completed and while I was throwing together the last bits of dinner, Beanie came down and we played with cups a bit.  Please understand, this is not a rehearsal, nor a performance...this is pure goofiness...we actually CAN do this song fairly well, if we wanna, but we didn't, we just wanted to play ... This kid?  She's one of my favorites...

And then the rest of them showed up.  And there were MANY videos recorded...but my favorite is this picture...
they make me happy ... I should let them, always.
All in all a perfect end to a poorly started day. 
See ya around...

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Way to go, Ahab!!!

This morning I woke up in one of those moods.  You know the type of mood I'm talking about, nothing is really wrong but nothing is really right either.  I call it a fighting mood...I could really use a good argument to settle me.  I couldn't find my get-up-and-go and those children...well, they were TALKING to me and stuff...who's got time for that?

But, of course, being an adult, I realized that I was the one in the mood.  Not the kids.  Not the dog.  I also realized there was no real reason for it.  So I told my very supportive friend, who told me to "Knock it off!" and "Get out of the house!"  Both excellent pieces of advise which I did NOT follow for pure cussed determination to stay miserable.

Fast forward to lunch time.  I was feeling MARGINALLY better about the world, having figured out a couple of things that had been bugging me, but still just kinda bitey.  Last week, when I had sweet tea for the  VERY first time in my life, I decided it would be a good idea to figure out how to make it.  So, being that I've lived in the south for a very long time, and it was coming on lunch time, and projects always help my mood, I thought that this was as good a time as any.

HA!  That's a bit of foreshadowing there...

So, I hauled out the step stool to climb up to get my sorely neglected sun tea jar off the wasteland that is the top of my fridge.  I've been meaning to clear off the top of my fridge for months.  All those big ol' things ended up up there.  My big ol' stock pot, my big ol' cake carrier, a couple of my big ol' jars.  And they rattle every time the ice machine does it's thing.  There were a couple of not as big of things up there too.

There were a couple of these bottles...


Have you ever noticed how far from the wall your average fridge with a power cord and water line has to be?  You know, until I climbed to the top of that step ladder, I'd never noticed.  Now take a moment to notice the circumference of that bottle right there...not the olive oil, the other one.  Now match those two measurements in your mind for a sec. 

When I got to the top of the ladder a couple of things registered all at once...first, all that vibration over all those months had had all those jars and bottles dancing ALL around...and second, that bottle right there was GOING TO FALL RIGHT NOW. 

Even as I reached for it, it slipped behind the fridge and hit the floor.  I expected a crash.  Even squinched my eyes up waiting...but the sound that came was much MUCH a water fall...or a high pressured hose spraying on metal.  I knew what had hit the water line on the way down.  BUT, there was all this stuff on the top of the fridge AND my fridge fits really tight in it's spot and it's heavy.  By the time we (the girls came running) got the stuff off the top of the fridge and the fridge moved (honestly Beanie was the turning point on that battle) and the water turned off, there was a good amount of water everywhere. 

It makes me laugh to think what a big ol' snoopy baby I'd been being in my head all morning.  When this all happened it took maybe 45 seconds for the girls to swing into gear, take direction and help.  Start to finish of the mop up took maybe a 1/2 hour.  AND the bottle did NOT break...I guess the water line cushioned the blow.  After the clean-up I got to figure out how to replace the water line.  I know it's simple, but I totally did it AND, more importantly, it doesn't leak.  I claim victory.

Have I mentioned how much I love my wet / dry vac?  Seriously a life saver on, now, SEVERAL occasions.  Bear loves it, of the lives saved was hers...


I suppose it could have happened at any time, but I kinda needed it today.  Kinda deserved it, if you know what I mean.  It knocked the cussedness right out of me, and thank goodness.  I'm also SO thankful that it didn't happen in the middle of the night or when we were out of town.
Lesson learned...nothing on top of the fridge that could actually slide behind the fridge. Notice I didn't say, clean off the top of the fridge completely, that's a lesson for another day, my friend.
But also, when you are feeling like a fight and you are determined to stay in your mood...get ready. It might not come in the form you would expect, but there is ABSOLUTELY a fight coming your way.  Possibly you should let it go before the cosmos decides to drop a bottle on your water line. See, I suppose I could have just gone outside and happied up.  But that wouldn't have been nearly the story.
Oh, and in the end, I did get the chance to try and fail once on my quest for the world's best sweet tea.  I am officially one step closer. Tremble in fear ye champions of Sweet Tea!!!
See ya around...

Monday, August 5, 2013

Nah...Creativity Stinks...

Clearly I need medical help.

Setting a goal to write in my blog that I meant to keep?  And announcing it?  Like a challenge?  So people can text me and say that they READ it.  Sheesh!  I don't even LIKE being creative...takes too much's too messy...doesn't fit in my schedule boxes.  Buncha artsy fartsy nonsense, am I right????  (Say yes, it IS my blog, after all.)

Yeah, I'm not buying it either. 

See I do things like go to a rehearsal for the worship team at my church this weekend...(I'm not singing...nope...just WATCHING...just to be clear)...they make me happy with all that silly-talking-to-my-soul junk.  And then that stuff just STICKS in there...making me happy.  And I fall asleep hearing their voices...remembering the frenetic-squirrel-on-red-bull energy of the drummer at 7:30 on Sunday morning...and I smile.  I wake with one of their more poignant songs on my head,


I watch from afar as my brother, Mr. BakerMan, builds his chocolate dynasty, one mouth watering chocolate delight at a time.  Struggling with lunch ideas and new tastes and ways to shape the chocolate, while his love, my brother-in-law, uses his painter's eye and hands to make the bones of the shop, the display cases, the wall, a beautiful backdrop for BakerMan's chocolate...and I pray as they work on this birth of a dream that takes so much time and yet is going to be a wonderful reflection of their creativity together...


I talk to my friend, the Composer, late, late at night, the only real time we can find for each other.  And I hear the absolute passion he has for his various crafts and I laugh with him as he tells me his latest project with excitement.  He always seems to consider how much work it all is, and still find the energy to get it going.  There is always a current project and then a bucket list FULL of more projects that are going to keep him busy and creative until the end of time...

and I think, "CRAP, I really have to write something today".

Being surrounded by creativity and actually embracing it is a new thing for me.  These people who have been in my life forever all of a sudden impact me differently...and I realize, it's part of who I am ...It's almost like it leaks out.  Ooozing stuff I want to say...thoughts, unformed, that I have to wrestle with to put on the page, but they are GOING on the page.  And I realize, possibly, I don't HAVE anything to say except...maybe

"Wow, look at the sky, y'all...what a glorious day today is going to be".

So I look at pictures and wonder, once again, at the beauty of my kids...and joy of my family...and thoughts form...stories...ideas...songs.  I hear all their songs...see all their pictures...go over all their words once again...and am inspired within my own realm for just a minute.

 Maybe, I have another post or two before I give it all up.  We shall see.

See ya around...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Inspiration and other stuff I complain about...

Blogging is hard.

And since I last blogged really regularly Picasa's online albums have switched over to Google+ which wants me to share my pictures with Google+ which I don't like AND don't use and now Picasa doesn't have the handy dandy share button that lets me copy what I'm embedding and although I USUALLY figure it out from Blogger I'm not positive of the procedure and it makes me cranky to try. (Did you read that all without taking a breath?  That is how I wrote if you didn't...go back and read it again.  No breath.)

And I've been busy.

And the gate to my fence broke and now I can't get the trash cans out or the mower in.

And I've been planning stuff...all kinds of stuff.

And my friend bought a cooler planner than me on the very same day that I bought my planner  and now I want hers and not the one (well ONES) I bought.  AND she's moving far far away...soon.

And I got a new laptop and a new operating system and we aren't exactly on speaking terms right now.

And...Blogging is hard.

A month or so ago, a friend of mine suggested that I read "The Artist's Way" by Julia Cameron.  Great book.  You should read it, too.  I'm not done with mine yet...but I'm far enough in to say, "glad I'm reading it."

Anyway, "The Artist's Way" is one of those challenging books that requires you to think about the stuff you are doing...have done...and then consider that maybe there is more inspiration in your life than you are using.  As you do the things the author suggests, you start discovering more inspiration. 

Sounds great, right?  Sure enough.

And it was.  For a few really was.

I was blogging a lot.  Singing a lot.  Reading.  Cooking.  Planning.  Cleaning. 

And then, as always ALWAYS happens...the spontaneous inspiration died. 

Part of it is my issues with people.  Yep, me, the friendly one, I have issues with you all.  It makes no sense to WRITE this out-loud on a public blog, but as much as I like to stand up and write and talk and sing with and in front of people...I have a huge issue when people notice.  And it's worse if they like what I'm doing.  And inspiration KILLING if they know me well enough to look me right in the eye.

It's performance anxiety of the worst kind.  I'm not afraid to DO stuff.  I'm afraid that you'll NOTICE and have any opinion.  Super weird quirk, if you ask me. less than 3 weeks into the book...people that love me started noticing that I was doing some of this stuff...and complimented me.  So I quit.  Because, y'know, that's the logical thing to do when you find a little bit of success in something...quit immediately...solves ALL the problems of the world.  PPPFFFFFTTTT.  Sometimes I get so tired of myself.

All of those words to say...I'm challenging myself and I'm inviting you along for the ride.  I'm learning to write.  I'm a beginner in this art and any talent that I may currently possess is completely God-given.  Other than teaching my children, I've never studied this craft...I've never written long enough to get past the inspiration killers.  To write when I didn't feel like it, about things I may not be passionate about is part of the challenge.  To write ANYWAY, regardless. 

I think that figuring out how to write regardless of inspiration might be a key for me to do other things beyond my circumstances.  I'll tell you, I think this might be a rung on this ladder out of depression for me.  But, I really like to hide when I feel like too many people are looking, because watching TV is far less judgy.  And I'm talking about ME here people, I get judgy on myself if you are looking.  And I'm MEAN.

So, I'm TRYING to write anyway.

(There's a statement that is going to come back and bite me.)

So expect me to.  And when the post goes badly or weird...know that I'm just learning.  I'm learning to write.  I'm learning to let people into my strange little head and I'm learning to focus on the writing and not necessarily on what other people think about it.  So think to yourself, "She's gotta learn,' and PLEASE keep reading...keep commenting...keep looking me in the eye.  Eventually, I'll be able to look back. 

Right now, I think I'm gonna figure out the stupid picture thing...please hold...I even have an analogy...are you ready? I like the sky...and I was taking pictures of the clouds and when I pulled the pictures into Picasa I pushed the little "I'm feeling lucky" button.  The resulting picture made me super happy.  The sky was vibrant blue the clouds puffy white.  Now, I'd liked the original looked JUST like what God gave me...but with a VERY little help, the picture got better.  That's what I want to happen with my writing...I like it very much when I'm inspired, it's beautiful, but I want to learn more, practice more, to tweak it into something better.

Sigh...we will be working on analogies...Here, why not look at these clouds...

Pretty, huh?
Vibrant-er, huh?
Well, like it or not, I'm doin it anyway!  ;)

See ya around...