Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A True Confession

I am anxiously awaiting The New 90210. I wish I owned all 10-years worth of the original on DVD. I have none. *insert sad face here* I 90210.

Overheard From My Children

My girls say things that cause me to go into hysterics or clench my teeth and sigh. I'm going to start keeping track. The first is a little anecdote:

A couple of months ago, I loaded all the girls up and took them to meet Brian. They were all heading away for the weekend, but I didn't want to tell them they were visiting their grandparents. So I told them I was taking them to the gypsies. Lily was absolutely horrified. Not that she knows what the gypsies are, but she was nearly hysterical. I, on the other hand, thought it was hysterically funny. (Don't start.) Another time on the road somewhere else, Lily asked where we were going. I heard Darcy's sweet, little voice barely above a whisper telling Lily, "Gypsies! We're going to the gypsies...Gypsies!" Again with the hysteria, Lily's and mine. It's now a semi-funny joke to everyone when we saying "We're going to the gypsies" and Lily stands there with her hands on her hips demanding to know, "Are you kidding with me?"


"Mama, your kitchen is a mess. Do you want me to clean it up for you?" Apparently, the health department lives here in the form of a mouthy four-year old.

"Why don't you take a shower?" And the hygiene police.

"Mama, you look like Mr. Snee from Peter Pan."


Eyeball beans


Sunday, August 24, 2008

More Housewives Analysis

I finished reading the book this morning. The authors make some good points about depending on God, finding contentment and the fact that "women's work" isn't lesser work.

However, I don't find much practical advice in getting from malcontent to content. Just that I should be there. Or maybe I wasn't looking hard enough.

They dispel the necessity of finding a block of time daily to spend with God. On its face, I find that to be poor advice. I don't know if I can/would seek the Lord in bites. I find spending that block of time is a necessary part of my day, Well, only if I want my day to go well. When I start the day off with the Lord, it seems that my patience goes a little further and I'm more focused. I'm more kind and I can find joy in my "hamster wheel" tasks. I believe the Lord understands when we've been up 13 times a night with the baby and then had another one of our blessings throw up, as happened to one of the authors. I don't find it to be a "mandate". However, it's something that acts as a blessing and an encouragement as I go through my day.

There are days I don't spend time with the Lord. But before I just decide I'm "too busy," I need to evaluate my lifestyle. When my laziness becomes a habit preventing me from rising early, then maybe my guilt is actually conviction for a misuse and poor stewardship of my time. But if in the execution of caring for my children, I need sleep because I have a nursing baby, that's another thing altogether, and I believe the Lord is there through it. But we can't expect to survive on "bites" while we have children at home.

One thing I like is a quote from page 64:

We must remember that when we view other women-- other families-- we are only outsiders looking in at the part of life they are willing to show us. Or perhaps, in the case of the unfortunate parent with the "crashing and burning" toddler, we see them on a bad day. We can only see a small percentage of what real life is like for them. We can't see the whole picture, nor are we invited to. Our own families and our own lives should keep us plenty busy without the need to speculate about the ups and downs of others. (Emphasis mine.)

I'm not going to live my life from a list. I'm certainly not going to depend on the Stacy McDonalds and the Jennie Chanceys of the world to dictate to me what I should be doing as a wife and mother. I accept their book for what it is: an opinion and nothing more. I stand by my opinion that God has a plan for me and is refining me.

I'm okay with that.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Passionate Housewives Desperate For God

I am reading Passionate Housewives Desperate For God. It's been a tough read for me, and I can't quite figure out why. Is it because I truly disagree with what they're promoting or is it because I am weighted down with conviction?

If I were to be honest, I think it may be some of both.

At this point in time, I am only giving it a surface read. I'm not reading it with my Bible out, checking references. I am trying to get the gist of it. I think the authors make some interesting points. Although, I don't know if I'm willing to read it again without the chip on my shoulder. Perhaps I should start over and read it with my Bible and an open mind.

However, those ladies seem to be in a different place in their lives than I. I want the phase of my life where I judge others for their decisions to be over. I definitely want judgment of my life to be over. I am tired of comparing myself to what other moms/women/families are doing and not measuring up to some pre-conceived notion. I admit that the pre-conceived notion is often one of my own conception, but it's based on a comparison of lives I am ill-equipped to emulate. I can't copy the housekeeping regimen of a friend who doesn't have children. Or even the regimen of families that have older children to help. I must accept my limitations. Or at least the idea that I may possibly have limitations. It's a process.

I guess the good thing about the book, even if I'm not in complete agreement with the authors, it's causing me to think, reflect and contemplate my own life and what God wants from me. And maybe that was the whole point.

More Babies

While getting dressed this morning, I was given the once-over by my oldest daughter. It always makes me uncomfortable when I see her looking me up and down because I know some question is going to come from it that I'm not going to like. This morning's embarrassing question was regarding my lack of breast pads. Why wasn't I wearing them any more? It actually started out with her wondering where the round, soft things were...

I explained that since I wasn't nursing Reagan anymore, I didn't need them.

"When are you going to have another baby?"

I reminded her Reagan is still a baby.

"But we like babies."

I assured her there were plenty of babies in this family.

"I think we should have 5 babies."

Two more babies would be a lot more work, I said.

"I could feed one and Darcy could feed one."

Is she serious? Then she reports that when she's a mama, she wants to have 5 babies also. Over breakfast, she decides she and Darcy will have their babies at the same time. Unfortunately, Darcy doesn't agree that 5 is a great number. "I want one baby and one husband," Darcy said.

I must be doing something right for Lily to think it's so glamorous to have a bunch of children.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Homeschooling Organizer....Complete

For my immediate need, my homeschooling organizer is complete. I have the binder I want to work with, which is not a cheap piece of flimsy, ugly junk. Oh no. This is a very cool binder with an interior pocket, three tabs and a elastic cord that keeps it closed and together. I have ordered some additional tabbed dividers that have pockets. I expect those to come in handy.

The first tabbed section contains a set of 2-page calendar pages so that I may prepare my monthly lesson plans. I like to see everything for the month at one time. When I look at the calendar as a whole, I can visusalize (or actually write down) other commitments and plans. That will help me to be more efficient in my planning. Clearly, I have not had time to write any lesson plans. I did order books this morning so I should have a plan before long. Also, I need quiet to plan and think and that is in short order 'round here.

The second section is my most important part. The weekly plan. My most crucial point was to have everything in one place. When I look at the week, I want to see everything planned in one place: school, obligations and meal planning. I don't want to have to work out of a home planner for meals and appointments and another for school. In this life, the two have to work together and so they need to be together.

(Because this is my handiwork on display and not some professional outpouring here, I want to identify there are columns on the right side for a To Do List and Meals.)

The difference between other organizers and this one is in the way it can be customized to fit each family. For our family, at this time, I can easily write up lesson plans for both girls in the space provided. Large families could implement a separate tab for each child. I have another tab that has a set of 2-page calendar pages and this is where I will plan my menus for the month. We are now buying many of our groceries in bulk from Sam's so as I plan the menu, down the side, I can begin my list.
I think there would be a market for something like this among the homeschool crowd. I also think it could be tailored to families that don't homeschool. At any rate, I'm excited... I am currently working on a name and trying to figure out how to keep from getting sued for copyright infringement.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Calgon, Take Me Away

Break Update
I have heard that the more time someone spends away from home, the more time they want to be away. I think there is some truth to that. After my weekend away, I remember thinking I could get used to hanging out with my friends until the wee hours, experiencing a tour of food pleasures, and sleeping until my bladder, not my children, wake me up. No laundry, no responsibilities. All that to weekend was nice and quiet. No Dr. Laura and only one meal alone, but it was peaceful, nonetheless. I would have liked one more day for some solitude and time for thinking after all my socializing was complete. I don't know if I can get the thinking done that I need to do at home. Too many distractions, even when all's quiet. I certainly came home with some insight and perspective I hadn't really had. I realized I am not a bad mother.

Blood Test Update
My bloodwork shows that my thyroid is not rotting out of my head. It is plugging along, doing its job well within the normal range. I'm sure that's a good thing, just not the answer I wanted to hear even though it's the answer I expected.

Clifford the Big Red Dog Update
I was sad to hear of Issac Hayes' passing. I guess he won't be auditioning for the voice of Clifford in Clifford the Seriously Big (Bigger Than A House) Red Dog. I thought I remembered Barry White being dead also, so I don't know who is going to take Clifford to the next level...maybe Brad Garrett? I'm not married to the idea of a singer doing the voice, just a voice that's as big as the dog.

Rocky Mountain Update
I had opportunity to investigate the trend line of "club attire" while on my break. I don't recall seeing any Rockies. They must be passe. I do recall seeing lots of high-heeled shoes. I love heels. Although, where I went was not strictly "country". I did not see any key-hole shirts with orange and teal zig-zags. Mens' clothing is remarkably unchanged from my former days of bar-hopping.

The ideas are still churning on how to make my binder organizer the answer to everyone's organizing questions. I found some very cool binders and dividers while on my break that I think will work perfectly for this project. I want to market my idea to all moms who could use a hand in keeping it all together in one place. That's the goal of this. Everything together, customized to each mother's needs, not just homeschooling. Brian is going to be out of town for the next couple of days so I'm going to utilize this time to get my organizer finished and ready to be hole-punched. This thing is going to blow Amy Knapp's (the best I've seen to date) out of the water. There won't be any need to buy the whole thing every single year. Just supplement with the sections you need.

Close To My Heart Scrapbooking Layouts
For the last year and a half, I have been attending a Close To My Heart scrapbooking club. Every month, we make at least 2-2 page layouts using paper, stamps and embellishments from the most recent catalog. The "club" is apparently the brain-child of a Director who probably makes a ton of money from this venture. She has several groups that meet like this every month and club members commit to a year and are required to purchase the club kit every month ($15 + tax). We learn new techniques and most of us buy much more than our required purchase. Every month, some new benefits from the windfall as "hostess". Last year when I was the hostess, my "party" had over $400 in sales and I got a substantial amount of

The only problem is that I have a ton of layout pages that I don't really like or aren't going to use. I've made them and I'm proud of them, so I'm not going to throw them away. I think there is a market for completed scrapbooking pages and my research shows that everyone seems to like Close To My Heart. Beginning this week, I think I will start posting the pages I don't like on eBay and see if someone else likes them better.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Deep Thoughts

Rocky Mountains
After watching the very fantastic Pure Country yesterday (that I own), I wondered something. Are Rocky Mountains still the top choice for girls glamming it up with their Budweiser and George Strait and line-dancing? they even play George Strait at country bars anymore? You'd think I'd know the answer since I live in the "Cowboy Capital of the World". I am definitely too old to be going to those places. I am now "in my 30s". So, I'm sure Rockies are probably out. Maybe cowgirls are wearing pockets now...thankfully, they seem to have given up those awful button-down shirts that had the little keyhole cutouts at the neck. Orange and teal zigzags do not go together, I don't care who you are.

Clifford the Big Red Dog
Seriously...Clifford is enormous. I think he's bigger than a house. Lily received a Clifford movie for her birthday and I had no idea how seriously massive this dog is. I thought he was just a big the labs from next door that threaten to consume my children if they dare step foot out the back door. Nope. The next-door dogs are mites compared to Clifford, the Dinosaur-Sized Canine. I wonder how he can actually hear when the other dogs are talking to him. Maybe they could rename this program "Clifford the Seriously Big (Bigger Than a House) Red Dog". Then people would know what to expect. Also, the voice of Clifford the Seriously Big (Bigger Than A House) Red Dog does not go with that dog. I think Barry White should be doing the voice for Clifford. A dog that is 3 stories tall should have a big voice to go with it.

I think I need a more marketable name for what is going to be the best homeschool/family organizer ever. Last night, I picked up the 24 lb. paper, a funky cold medina binder (with stripes, my favorite) and some funkytown tabs. Once I print out the pages, I will send it with Brian to work to have holes punched in it. You know there isn't a hole punch in this house. Then it'll be time to put it in the binder. No more boring yellow and no more FlyLady on the cover making me feel guilty. I did have to buy new printer cartridges, but I needed those anyway.

Blood Tests
I had some bloodwork done last week to see if there might be a medical reason as to why I am literally losing my mind in exhaustion, moodiness (although "moody" doesn't begin to cover what I am feeling) and The Fog. I was told the results would be in by today. When I called, I was told that the doctors are out of the office until Friday! Hello! I am waiting anxiously to find out if there is actually something wrong with me. THIS IS IMPORTANT!!! I am actually hoping my thyroid is rotting out of my head. At least then there would be some documented medical reason to this madness.

Oooh, I am looking forward to this weekend as I am going away! Brian is staying at home with the children and I am going to remember that I am more than a mother who receives no privacy, even in the shower. I will get to spend 6 hours in the car...not talking to anyone! I can listen to all the Dr. Laura I can stand. I can drive the whole way with the windows down. And when I get there...I can eat every meal out...and alone. I'm having sushi. But I'm going to bring Brian a surprise when I get back...maybe 2.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Getting Organized

I am, what some people might refer to, as an organized person. I asked Brian and he agrees this is true. I am detail-oriented and like to have a plan. Unlike some people, I am not obsessive about it. There is one area to my life that I am obessesive about: finances. In that regard, everything must balance to the penny (I am not kidding about this!) or I will find it. I am the type of person who actually reads and analyzes the Statement of Benefits from the insurance company and I reconcile our checkbook to the paper bank statement. I am good with numbers and more importantly, I like them. Well, numbers associated with money. I'm not a fan of algebra or geometry.

All that to say, I am working out the organizing kinks for the fall. Both of the older girls will be attending morning preschool 2 days per week and Lily will be playing soccer this fall. Also, I plan to start Lily on some structured learning this year on the other days and want to work within the confines of an executable, written plan. I am making my menus a month at a time now so that we can save money by buying everything in bulk that we can. In addition to keeping my plans for her education accessible, I also need to maintain the household by tracking all other details. I am in desperate need of some way to keep it all straight. I have certain ideas about what I want in a "planner" and in May, I found a homeschooling-family organizer that I didn't hate. I was thrilled to see that it was published by the same people who have published the family organizers I've used for the last 3 years, even though the homeschooling version didn't do everything I wanted. I knew I could make it work.

But alas, Amy Knapp's Homeschooling Organizer has left a bitter taste in my mouth after not publishing a new one for the 2008-2009 school year and also not responding to my repeated emails (okay, two) asking begging for the new one to be made available after information on her website promised that they would be made available at the end of July.

So I have created my own organizer.

And it will live in a binder.

Very few people know how I feel about binders. Brian knows. Here is a quote from him, "Yeah. Binders. She doesn't like them. At all."

Why don't I like binders? Because they represent a collosal waste of time. Punching holes in paper to save in a binder wastes time. Oodles and oodles of time is wasted punching holes in paper that could be quickly saved by throwing into a file folder. There has never been an office where I have worked that I did not try with all my might to get the binders under my immediate jurisdiction outlawed. Binders facilitate c-r-a-p being saved that would be better served in the trash.

As a rule, I do not like binders. However, for this purpose, I see the need and therefore, the benefit of them. Binders allow information to be added and removed as is necessary. Amy Knapp's Organizer is spiral-bound. You may not permanently add any whole pages of new information and any removed information is permanently out. The set-up is a weekly calendar spread out on two 8.5" x 11". On the left page, there is an area for lesson plans and grocery/supply list (which is removable) and the right page is the weekly calendar column, a column for a To Do List and a Menu column. Before month-end, there is a two-page spread of the next month's calendar for pre-planning, I guess.

Before I started using the homeschooling organizer, I never used the two-page calendar provided in the other organizers. Now, I need about 2 or 3 copies of it. The binder will allow me, with tabs(!), to have and utilize a two-page calendar for menus and another for my lesson plans which I write a month at a time.

I am taking the best of two good things (Amy Knapp's Homeschooling Organizer and FlyLady's Control Journal) and making them into one Excellent.Useful.Product. I have (with Brian's help) already created the template for the actual organizer. FlyLady's idea to keep important information handy is a great one. Before, I had a planner and a Control Journal that I never used. Now I'll have my Excellent.Useful.Product and everything is right where I need it.

To complete it, I'll just need to get better, heavier paper that can stand to being manhandled, kidhandled and momhandled. And a funky binder. I cannot continue on with my boring yellow binder. I'll splurge and get a cool, funky binder.

Excellent.Useful.Products could be tailored to any family...