Saturday, August 25, 2012

Cleaning House - a book review

In my ongoing quest for household order and kid cooperation I have purchased yet ANOTHER book(sigh).  But on the up side, this may be the RIGHT book.  It's called Cleaning House: A Mom's 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement, by Kay Wills Wyma.

Even if a clean house doesn't excite you like it does me, ridding your home of "Youth Entitlement" should thrill for a number of reasons, the number one of which is that entitled children are annoying.  Not "the neighbor's are mowing at 6:00am" annoying but "over-perfumed airline passenger reclining in your lap annoying."  And who needs that kind of misery in their own home?  Not us.
Wyma is a mom of five who is a self-professed enabler and procrastinator who is lacking in organization skills.  She's a real mom like many of us.  She's funny, and her self-deprecating style puts you at ease and really makes you think that this can work for you, too.  Her plan is a good one, giving her kids a new task each month with the goal of teaching them skills and independence as well as reducing her own frustration level at being treated like the family's drudge.
The assignment of each task is preceded by a family meeting, and the kids are rewarded for their efforts.  This woman is by no means a slave driver, she truly wants what is best for her kiddos:  acceptance of personal responsibility, maturity(commensurate with age), and problem solving skills.  If your kids could use a boost in those areas as well as some practical skills, and you could use some encouragement, a good laugh, and the knowledge that "you're not alone," this book is one you should pick up.  And you should finish it.
Note:  Wyma is a Christian, but the book is not heavy-handed and doesn't proselytize.

Monday, August 20, 2012

New blog!

I am keeping this blog, but I have also begun a new history blog for me & my class to share our exciting discoveries.  We'll see how it goes.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Not refilling my migraine prescription

That's right, I am free.  I have gone FOUR consecutive weekends without even one migraine!  This weird diet takes a little getting used to, but it WORKS!  I'm just two days shy of my first month, and it's not as hard as I'd thought it would be with the exception of eating out.  That's a little trickier with the no MSG, no onions and no cheese thing.  But, we've been having some fabulous food at home and I've tried some tasty iced herbal teas.  Oh, and I'd forgotten how many other ice cream flavors are out there besides chocolate--there are tons of good ones!  The best part, though, is that I don't feel like the migraines are in control of my life anymore, and that's a great feeling.  I'll miss the coffee once we start school up again, but not as much as I enjoy being migraine free!

Friday, July 27, 2012

1,000 things to do with a 3-year-old, #2

Play board games.  Our favorites:  Candyland(of course!), Zingo!, Dominos(ours have pictures of candy on them), Hi Ho Cherry O!, and checkers.  3's cheat at checkers, so watch carefully!  I am the worst strategist ever, so I just barely win at checkers.  Chutes & Ladders is also a good game, but ours has mysteriously disappeared...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thoughtful Thursday-Judgement

I tend to shy away from controversial topics on Facebook.  This is intentional.  I can become very emotional about some of these topics, then I "respond in haste, repent in leisure."  I find I often express myself more clearly and with more charity if I take time to think my thoughts rather than blurt them out as they come to me.  A good example of such topic is traditional marriage, which I support.  I don't take this stand lightly, and I don't mean it as a condemnation of anyone.  Here's why it's not a condemnation:  I LOVE people.  I want what is best for everyone.  All of us sin.  I am far too busy identifying, confessing, and striving to overcome my own sins to waste time and energy condemning others for theirs.  You have something you're struggling with and want me to pray for you?  Love to!  Like some fraternal feedback and/or support?  Sure!  Condemnation--nope.  My yardstick of judgement is for my heart alone.  I don't even use it on my kids.  I'm simply passing on the faith to them and teaching them to judge their own hearts and actions in the light of Christ's teaching.  A tall order, to be sure, but Mother Teresa said something about God wanting my faithfulness more than success.  I just hope I'm faithful enough to give him something He can use.

Saturday, July 21, 2012


When I'm tired or busy, discipline can get a little lax around here.  It can seem like the inmates are running the place.  Usually this can be corrected by careful follow-through on a promised consequence.  Philip & Gabe would NOT leave each other alone Thursday morning.  So help me, they sounded like they were straight out of a Bill Cosby sketch, or my own childhood.  I gave them an ultimatum:  if they couldn't get through 24 hours without fighting and/or calling each other names, they would become roommates on Saturday.
They just couldn't help themselves.
Now Eric has his own room and Gabe & Philip are roomies.  
The best part is, as soon as we got things switched around, the new roomies played great together for half an hour until Gabe's bath.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

1,000 Things to do with a 3-year-old...

#348:  Change sheets.  This is especially fun if you poof out the sheets a-la the Gymboree parachute.  Stuffing the pillowcases is good for a laugh, too.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Homily(not mine, don't run away)

Every now and then I hear something at Mass that seems to be aimed at me like an arrow(and often as painful).  Today's wasn't painful, but it was good for my whole family to hear.  Our pastor reminded us that each one of us has a mission from God for our lives.  EVERYONE.  No exceptions.  As another priest I heard once put it, "There are no 'extra' people."  Don't know what your purpose is?  If you ask Him, He will tell you(or show you, whichever will make the bigger impression).  The cool part is that God won't force your mission on you, it's always like Mission Impossible(TV): "Your mission, if you choose to accept it..."  We get to CHOOSE!
The bummer is that when it gets hard, we have to remember that we chose and therefore:  NO WHINING(ouch).

Friday, July 13, 2012

Life after chocolate...

You know those cute mugs, t-shirts, etc. that say, "Is there life after chocolate?"  Well, I'm about to find out.  My lovely migraines have increased in both occurrence and severity to the point that I'm going to do WHATEVER IT TAKES to get a handle on them, including the "migraine diet" from David Buchholz, M.D.'s book, Heal Your Headache.  This includes eliminating certain foods for 4 months, including chocolate, nuts, bananas, citrus fruits & juices, MSG(in all it's tricky forms), processed meats, aged cheeses, onions, yogurt, and fresh baked goods made with yeast.  Oh, wait, I forgot the alcohol, even the migraine-friendly vodka.  In addition to this list, there is the permanent cessation of caffeine consumption.  I'd tried to modify that last one by switching from regular coffee to decaf and having some iced green tea, but that's not really working.  Oh, and I'm supposed to pitch my caffeinated OTC migraine drugs.
Let my life without chocolate(coffee, cheese, nuts & other yummies) commence!
On the up side, I get to keep my garlic!

Sunday, July 08, 2012

June's Project

I know, it's July and I'm FINALLY posting my favorite June project.  I made this for the granddaughter of my friend & neighbor, Tami.  Her birthday party colors were orange & fuchsia.  It looked so cute on her!

Monday, June 25, 2012

June can be as hard as February

February is often a difficult month for homeschooling because the weather here in Kansas can be VERY cold and being trapped indoors for days on end with children who are young and active can be trying.
However, June has its own difficulties.  First, I'm from northern California and after all these years I'm still not used to the heat & humidity combo aka the Heat Index.  Let's just say that the explanation is available here and it's a very unpleasant experience.  But I do have air conditioning and that makes it bearable.
The really hard part of June comes after the homeschool conference when I'm shelving the new books and packing away the ones from the year we just finished.  I look at each book I'm packing away and think to myself about all the unfinished work in that book.  It has the potential to be an unbearably depressing moment, but I remind myself that we're not finished and since I put each year in God's hands then I know we've covered what's really important.  I also take a few minutes to pray that this coming year God will show us what we lack and where we need to go so that our short-term goals will mesh with our longer, eternal ones.  Then, I put the books away and the old year away with them.
Unless I have PMS, then I just dissolve into a puddle of tears.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Over my head

I am an optimist.  That's just the way God made me, and I often consider it a gift.
Not tonight.
The problem with being an optimist is the belief that you really can do that huge job in a minuscule amount of time.  I frequently bite off more than I can chew.  "Frequently" is actually an improvement for me, because it used to be "perpetually,"  but I'm not even close to my goal of "rarely."
Anyway, I've been doing many of the small but important things that need to be done for our blessedly short camping trip tomorrow, but I have most of the big things still to do.  I MUST do them ALL tomorrow, and I will have to do them with the the help of a three-year-old.  All week this hasn't bothered me at all because I've been thinking about all the time I'm going to have on Wednesday while the two older boys are at robotics.  Leaving me to complete my rather long checklist with no one because Katie could watch Gabe.  Except that Katie's not here.  Did I forget that Katie was going to be gone, or did I just block it out?
I may have to get those older boys up early.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The Transit of Venus

So, last night we watched the Transit of Venus in a live feed on Clint's iPad(photo here).  It was really cool, and the website we watched had live feeds from all over the world.  This was just before and during dinner.  Since last night was a dessert night, we began discussing our sweet options as we finished dinner, and Katie said, "I think we should have a Milky Way for dessert."  So we did, six of these, actually.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Clint makes a good point!

My husband just made a fantastic point about anti-human environmentalists.  They always forget that human beings ARE part of the environment.  We didn't arrive here 100 years ago on a spaceship fleeing some other world we previously destroyed with our noxious existence.  We're from here.  We're part of the ecosystem, this planet is our natural habitat, our home(at least temporarily).  Why doesn't anyone ever throw that argument at the "people are what's wrong with our planet" people?  Just because we're the species most likely to act on and make changes to our environment, doesn't mean that we don't belong here.  Just a thought(from Clint).

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The last steps...

The last few steps for this blanket are:  serving the edges(it makes a nice, lasting finish) and then clipping all the raw edges on the right side of the blanket.  The clips are made about every 1/2 to one inch, I don't try to get them all the same because I like a more natural finish.
Here's the blanket after serging:
I typically round the corners to make it easier to serge.  The clipping is done like this, with the spring loaded snips in the picture, they're easier on the hands.

The last step is the one I don't have a photo of for this blanket, and that's washing.  When you wash the blanket with it's snipped flannel squares, they fray and make a nice, soft, raggy edge that's similar to chenille.  It also makes a TON of lint, which gradually decreases with each washing.  I keep trying to do the washing step at a laundromat, but that doesn't always fit with my day.  I didn't get a final shot of this blanket because I missed one row of clipping(thanks, Katie, for fixing it), and I was running a bit behind.  Here's the effect on another blanket:
So, that's it!  Except that Gabe has asked for one from my assortment of scraps.  It's really hard to resist Gabe.

Monday, April 23, 2012


This is my last blanket for an order for a friend of mine.  I'm just documenting the process.
First step is to cut out all the squares.  The squares are actually cut in pairs, but you cut both at once, so it's  not extra work to cut them out.  For this blanket, I'm using 180 squares, but I didn't know that going in so I cut out more like 200.  Here are the stacks of squares:

The next step I showed was the layout.  It takes quite awhile to get from the cutting to the layout, because each pair of squares needs to be sewn together with an X from corner to corner, like this:

Then, I lay it out.  This blanket is going to be a nine-patch, so I choose a pattern that I like and go to town:

Wait, I think that's only the top half.

After I have it the way I want, I pick up each of the blocks(groups of nine), number them, and assemble them, like this:

When all the blocks in a row are assembled, I stitch the row together.  Here are my first three rows:

There will be five rows of four blocks each.  Tomorrow I'll post the last couple of steps, and the finished blanket!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Philip's First Communion

April 15 was Philip's First Communion!  He was so excited & happy.  He even enjoyed taking up the gifts, and wearing a suit was a thrill for him.  After he came back to the pew from receiving Jesus, he prayed silently, then leaned over an whispered to me, "Mom, I feel so good right now!"  Congratulations to our Cutie Pie!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Bad Flying Karma

I feel so bad for Clint.  Something happens EVERY time he goes anywhere.  Today's adventure:  His connecting flight was bumped up 1/2 an hour, so he was rebooked on an earlier departing flight from here.  The problem is that the airline didn't bother to notify him.  So he was surprised to arrive at the airport to discover that his flight was gone.  Oops.  I hope the rest of his trip goes smoothly.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


They've done it again.  One of them has finally done something that I just didn't see coming.  And this one will require a lengthy punishment and a great increase in vigilance, so it's the gift that keeps on giving.
I love them, but I'm exhausted.
Pressing on toward the goal, but a little more slowly.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Happy Easter!

Jesus Christ is risen today, Aaaaaaaleeluuuuia!
Note to self:
a three-year-old, and a three-hour-long Easter Vigil Mass don't necessarily go together just because they both have a "three" in them.  (He did great, all things considered, and I finally did get him so deeply asleep that even the incredibly enthusiastic organist couldn't wake him!)
Many blessings to all,

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Confession Question

One of my darlings:  "Mom, is wishing that someone was never born the same as wishing evil on them?"
Me(with a straight face): "Yes, it is."

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The Lone Ranger vs. The Magnificent Seven

As a little girl, I was very loving and very communal.  Apparently, I really did believe that strangers were just friends I hadn't met yet.
Then my life got a little strange, I withdrew into a shell of my own making and decided that who I really wanted to be was The Lone Ranger.  I can do it myself, doggone it!  (Somehow, I always seemed to forget that even he had Tonto.)  No matter what happened, I could get through it.  On my own.  I'm strong enough.  Really.
I was reminded recently that Catholic spirituality has no room for Lone Rangers.  Even God is a community of love.  We aren't decanted from jars like the babies in Huxley's dystopia, we are born to mothers, usually in families.  And the Sacraments are all communal, they require at least one other person(the priest) and usually more: parents, godparents, spouses, etc.  We are all created for God, and because of that we are also created for each other.  And just in case we still don't get it, Jesus was born into a family.  He lived in a town.  He travelled around with his disciples.  Simon of Cyrene helped him carry his cross.  His mom, her friends(relatives?), and the beloved disciple stayed with him on Calvary.  He rose and appeared to still more people, then rejoined his disciples for awhile.  Now, he's at the right hand of the Father, and on every altar for each of us at least every Sunday.  Still feel like the Lone Ranger?
Check out The Magnificent Seven.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Katie's Confirmation Photos

Here are a couple of pictures from Katie's Confirmation:
This is Katie showing off her earrings from her Godparents:

Katie and Sophia Khadivi, they received their First Holy Communion together, too.  Aren't they lovely?

Science Fair Photos

 Above Katie poses with kids from her class.

At right is Katie with her display.
Here's Eric with his display.

          Katie and Eric posing with the Science Fair sign.

Here's Eric with his special award from the EPA.
Here's Eric conducting part of his experiment.

Both Katie and Eric worked hard and did a great job, we are so proud!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Meet the Scientists!

Katie and Eric both participated in the Greater KC Science & Engineering Fair for the first time this year. They had fun performing their experiments and organizing their data(maybe a little less fun writing up their findings/results/conclusions).  We told them just getting everything finished and turned in on time was an accomplishment and we all went to dinner to celebrate.  Then, surprise!  Katie received a silver ribbon for her project, and almost all positive judging comments, great job, Katie!  Eric's work received a gold ribbon and a "special award."  Congratulations, Eric!  Tune in Sunday evening when I'll post more about that.  He has to go to the awards ceremony tomorrow to receive(and find out about) the award.  We are so proud of both of them!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It's Lent!

So, I'm feeling ambitious this year although I don't think I'm overdoing it.  Much.  The positives:  I'm increasing my spiritual reading this Lent, at least 30 min. a day.  I also dug up a great Lenten meditation book by Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R.  On the penitential side, I'm giving up Facebook for Lent.  This morning I was checking FB instead of grading Eric's Math test.  Time for a break.  I'm also making a blast from the past resolution and giving up candy.  This week as we've been living the Food Stamp Challenge and I've had to adhere to my grocery budget religiously I've realized how frequently and carelessly I tend to toss a bag of M&M's or a Twix bar into my cart almost every time I'm at the store.  I just don't think I need to replace my coffee habit with a chocolate one.  I think this will be harder than it was as a kid because it's much easier to get candy as an adult than it was when I was 12.
The kids and I will make a Lenten crown of thorns tomorrow, and we'll get started on our Lenten Faith folders, and we'll go to Mass and discuss their resolutions.  I am hopeful that this will be a fruitful Lent.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Rough Week

Some weeks are just beyond words.  Last week was one of them.  Let's hope for better this week.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Life Skills

A couple days this school year, I have cancelled our academic studies in favor of a "Life Skills" day.  It's pretty much what it sounds like, housework class.  Tomorrow, instead of having an entire day for Life Skills, we're going to have a one hour class in the kids' bathroom.

It's so gross, I skipped Gabe's bath just so I wouldn't have to enter it.  Since any of my extended family members will tell you that I'm not exactly the Queen of Clean, you KNOW it's bad if I won't go into it.
And, it's not just the boys making things icky.

So, I'm going to make all of them watch, work, and take notes while I teach them how to REALLY clean a bathroom.  Except Gabe, because you have to be a thorough hand washer before I'll let you clean a toilet.
I'm off to gather my supplies and place them in the hall so no one forgets like they do with piano practice. Maybe there will be photos tomorrow.