Monday, May 30, 2011

My, What Great Kids You Have!

It's been said to us a lot lately, as we celebrate a college and high school graduation, that we have great kids.
They're all so well-behaved!  
They get along so well!  
We love to have your kids over because they're the nicest kids in the neighborhood!  
How do you do it?  
 I can barely manage the 2 I have!
You've done such a great job!

Honestly, I have to say I didn't do anything special.  I think it's a gift from God because he knows I couldn't handle rotten kids. ;-)

Seriously, I believe that all we did was to open ourselves up to grace, especially the grace that comes from being open to life.  I love babies.  I love being pregnant.  I love giving birth, especially at home.  I love breastfeeding.  And so we kept having babies, some would say too many, until we were maxed out, so to speak, physically, emotionally, financially.  

Now, that's a commentary on how we felt at the time, making the decision to avoid pregnancy indefinitely, because we felt it the right thing to do.  It was a decision made together, through prayer, knowing that we could change our minds (or God could) at any time.  We always knew that He would take care of all of our shortcomings if we had another child, but it's a personal decision and I wouldn't dream of criticizing someone who came to that same conclusion before 6 children, or after 6.

While I wouldn't criticize someone for stopping, because who knows what their reasons are, I have to say that it's those 6 children that made us good parents! Each child changed us in some way because of his or her own personality, or needs, or even birth number.  But the biggest reason is simply the fact that I can't do it all!  So they each had to help.  It seems to be a societal feeling that Mom does have to do everything, so the kids can be...what?  And then you end up with adults who expect to be served all the time!

  • They've had to learn to wait for things, or do it themselves. 
  • They've had to help with chores because they make a large part of the mess.  It's both a logical consequence and just being a participating member of a family.  
  • They've had to learn to do without luxuries like soccer and baseball.
  • They've spent a lot of time together as homeschoolers and simply because I didn't have the time or energy to take them for individual playdates.
  • They've learned the importance of babies, the amount of work they require, and how beautiful they are!
Sometimes I feel bad that my kids have to fix their own lunch (and sometimes I'll fix lunch for everyone!), or that they didn't all get to play soccer, or that they don't have the latest electronic game system, but then I look at them and see that while they might complain on occasion, they're actually happy.  They do their chores with fairly minimal grumbling.  They obey without all the lip that I hear from other kids.  They all know how to cook to some degree, which is more than I knew in college!  They know they have to save their money or do extra jobs for pay to be able to do special things, like go to the movies or buy a season pass to Six Flags.

I don't know if we would have been very good parents with 2 kids.  It's harder then because you have more money and more time (for Mom to do all the work).  We probably would have spoiled them all rotten.  

A funny little aside about when I was doing some banking recently and switching over Pete's account  to checking, the banker was trying to tell me how we should handle his banking, which was not to let him have any responsibility for it as a teen, and then to stay on the account after he turns 18 to maintain control, which was totally against my beliefs!  Then, when he met Pete and talked with him, and found out what a great young man he is, he said, "You should buy this boy a car!"  I told him that he's a great kid because he doesn't have a car, and he should remember as his 2 toddlers grow up, they'll be great kids if he doesn't give them everything they want!

My great parenting advice would be, no matter how many children you have:
  1. Make God the center of your lives.
  2. Make the kids work; it builds character.
  3. Don't give them everything their friends have.
  4. When they do get something special, make them work to help pay for it!
  5. And demand obedience and respect.
And then you can say the prayer that I say frequently:  Please, God, let them turn out to be good kids in spite of my failings!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Abby Johnson & Girl Scouts

In this great blog post Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood director, and author of the book Unplanned, speaks out about Girl Scouts USA and their partnership with Planned Parenthood.  She makes exactly the same points that I feel strongly about.

I didn't know until very recently that PP actually has brochures with Girl Scout logo on them---brochures about having sex, not abstaining from sex.  PP is in the business of getting people pregnant so they can profit from the abortions, and they are marketing this garbage to young girls who should be playing with dolls, not learning how to make babies!

I am saddened and shocked by good Catholic women, who claim to be pro-life, who insist that none of that bad stuff goes on in their troop.  This is the very same point that Abby makes.  Somewhere along the way, though, she (that Catholic Girl Scout leader) is going to send her daughter to a camp where the curriculum is diametrically opposed to what she would teach her child at home.  Even if by some miracle that never happens, the bottom line is that every. single. box. of. cookies. sold supports the national GSUSA agenda and furthers the relationship with PP.  Those cookies that sweet, little, innocent girls sell, and that you buy (because, what the heck, it's just a box of cookies!), support the production of disgusting brochures that teach girls things they don't need to know, and summer camps that do the same thing.

Go visit Girl Scouts Why Not?.  I like the Comparison Chart between American Heritage Girls and Girl Scouts, personally.

I could go on with the rant that's in my head.  Or I can stop.  Ranting doesn't change anyone's mind.  Read the facts for yourself.  I can't change anyone else or convert anyone; all I can do is change myself and try to have the courage of my convictions.  It wasn't easy, but that's why I pulled my oldest daughter out of Girl Scouts 12 years ago, and why I now find myself in the very unlikely position of being an American Heritage Girls Troop Coordinator.  It's a hard job.  It wears me out sometimes.  It makes me crazy frequently, but I know it has great value for my 2nd little girl and all the beautiful girls in our troop.

As an American Heritage Girl I will be:

Friday, May 27, 2011

7 Quick Takes

~~Joining Jen's Quick Takes for the first time in forever~~

I haven't done Quick Takes in ages;  blogging has been kind of difficult for the past few months.  I guess I've been a bit busier than I thought!  Even with all the thoughts going around my head, I'm not sure which ones to blog.  How do you decide?

Looking back over the past month on my ical calendar, it has been a very colorful month, to say the least, especially the last 3 weeks which have been chock full of activities for everyone.  Last night was the last big one:  the American Heritage Girls banquet and awards ceremony.  That's done and I can relax----it's just "normal" stuff from now on, like piano, swim team, summer school, AHG planning.

There were a few really tricky days a couple of weeks ago where DH and I had no idea how it was all going to get done.  But it did, one day at a time.

We worried (well, I did, anyway) and fretted, and steamed, and DH finally said to stop worrying; it would all get done somehow.  And it did.  We actually got through those days rather smoothly, and I remembered to Thank God for the graces and the sudden changes in schedule that made it all possible.

What I didn't remember was to Trust God in advance and because He would take care of it all anyway.  I don't know when I'll learn that lesson.

How are you on that score?  Do you remember to trust in advance?

Yesterday afternoon I spoke with someone on the phone----I don't remember who---and I don't remember what about----but it was probably to do with the Impending Banquet of Doom and I've just blocked it out.  I do remember that she said I seemed awfully calm, considering.  My reply was that we had reached that point in the preparation where I could no longer make any significant changes.  It was planned; it would happen; it would either be a disaster or not, but there was very little I could at that point to change the outcome.  Sort of a que sera, sera moment.

I'd like to have more of those.

My family, while all safe, is emotionally devastated by the destruction in Joplin.  I'm sure everyone has seen the pictures and heard the stories.  So, so many people without homes.  My heart breaks especially for those have literally lost their loved ones.  No knowing whether they're alive or dead.  Or one woman who was saved by her husband lying on top of her and the dog.  He died, and while she was gone to help someone else, his body was "recovered" and she has no idea where he is now.

Many of my dad's friends have lost absolutely everything.  The university he taught at for 30+ years, Missouri Southern State University, has set up a relief fund for faculty members, staff, and students affected by the tornado.  They also list some other ways to help on that page.

There's so much to do, it's hard to know where to begin.  Maybe we begin (and end) in the same place---with prayer.

 Bonus picture of my 2 goofy graduates.

My American Heritage Girl crossed over from the Tenderheart level to Explorers and feels very mature in her new blue vest!  She also earned her Sacagawea award.  I'm trying to think of the BSA equivalent, but I'm not sure there is one.  You move up from one level to the next based on age, but Sacagawea is the "level award" for Tenderhearts which requires extra work:  5 service hours for each year; attending 4 special events; making a poster about AHG; earning a badge in each of the 6 frontiers; attending a Board of Review.  As an Explorer, she'll have to perform 10 service hours per year in addition to the other extra activities.

Have a blessed weekend, everyone.  

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Yarn Along

Here's a quick photo of the cowl I'm working on with the leftover Madelinetosh.  I  can't tell you how much I love this yarn!  I love the way it knits; the colors; the smooshiness.  Everything.  I can't wait to go back to the store to buy some more!

I'm using the Monkey sock pattern for the chevrons, which will show up much better after blocking.  It's pretty; I hope it fits since I'm just guesstimating on the size!

Oh, and I'm not reading anything these days, unless you count lists of Things to Do!
Visit Ginny for more Yarning Along!

An Open Letter the teacher of my children who saw me dashing out of the Baccalaureate Mass in a flood of tears,

I'm okay.  Really.  You just caught me at a bad moment!

It's been a couple of long, emotional weeks full of the usual housework, and (attempts at) homeschooling, and end-of-the-year activities.  Add to that a college and a high school graduation, those same children taking international trips, and that tornado devastating Joplin, and you've got a recipe for an emotional basket-case!

I managed not to shed more than a tear or 2 during the weekend of Katie's graduation, and I really thought I was going to hold it together through all of the activities.  But no.  I keep forgetting about The Mass.  I have a tendency to tear up at a beautiful Mass on a good day, and Baccalaureate just pushed me over the edge.  The tears started flowing, a culmination of all the stress of the past 2 weeks, and thinking about my children growing up, the situation in Joplin...

Then I started gasping for breath and realized that I should leave while I still had some semblance of control.

That's when you saw me, in my frantic exit and race to the bathroom, which was mercifully empty and I could sob my heart out.  I was able to pull myself together for the rest of the day, and I hope we'll have no more such outbursts!

Sorry to have alarmed you!

Monday, May 23, 2011

I HATE Tornados!

Joplin, Missouri is not my hometown, but it's sort of an adopted hometown because that is where my father lives, lots of cousins, where my grandparents lived before they died, and where I spent many summer vacations.  My brother went to high school and college there; my sister went to college there.

I'm happy to report that all of my family is safe and well after the tornado destroyed about 30% of the city, but I know they've all lost people they've known and loved having lived there for so many years.  There are many friends who are still missing.

My stepmother's Catholic church, St. Mary's, where we would go when we visited, was destroyed.  Where people there for Mass at the time?  I don't even know.

I'm sure we've all been listening to the jokes about the Rapture Fail this weekend, but the serious side to that is that we really don't know when our time will come.  The end came for many people in Joplin on Sunday.  Were they prepared because they had prepared for The Rapture?  Or were they completely unprepared because they figured they wouldn't make the cut anyway?

For those who lived but have lost everything....are they okay with that?  Would you (or I) be okay with that?  

Where do you stand?  Prepared?  Unprepared?  Attached or Unattached to your worldly goods?  

I think I'm somewhere in the middle...gotta work on getting closer to the Prepared/Unattached side, though.  It's not good to get caught in the middle.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Yarn Along

My sock is coming along well, although I didn't make as much progress during graduation as I expected.  I think I really am a slow knitter!  But you know, that doesn't bother me; it just means that my knitting cost is spread over more hours and so costs me less!  I'm really getting my money's worth on the good yarn.  Of course, the reverse is true, too:  yucky yarn is such a chore that I won't use it since I won't want it running through my hands for so long!

I think just one more repeat of the lace pattern and it will be time to start the toe decreases, kitchener it, and start the other sock.

I also started a little cowl with the extra Madelinetosh merino left over from Entomology.  I'm adapting a sock pattern for it, so we'll have to see how that goes!

I don't have any new books this week since I finished Baby Catcher, which I loved, but it had an unexpected melancholy ending.  It made me that much more grateful for the wonderful midwife I had!

I've been so tired at night that I haven't made much progress on The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest.

I can't wait to see what everyone else is knitting, crocheting, and reading over at Ginny's!

Monday, May 16, 2011


4 Years of Classes.
4 Years with the same roommates.
4 Years of Hard Work, both classes and a job.
4 Years of Good Grades.
4 Years of keeping her faith.

We're so proud of our Graduate!

She's so excited!

Pomp and Circumstance.  So serious!

Showing us her cap.  She and her roomies spelled out CIAO!

My 3 big kids looking ragged and oh, so much alike Saturday morning!

Meg and Dh dressed for the party.  The rest of us are ready to work!

I'd like to report that as of Monday morning, my sanity is still intact after the past week. This next 2 weeks shouldn't be as complicated.  And I've hardly cried at all, just a couple of misty eyes.  The kids would all tell you that's a minor miracle.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Daybook--Color Edition

Outside my window...
...Sunny, sunny, and getting warm!  We're supposed to be in the 90's today!  I think it's finally getting warm enough for the 17 year cicadas to hatch.

I am thinking...
...about what still needs be done around here before tomorrow.  
...about children graduating
...about children growing up and all the changes in the family

I am thankful for...
...having more energy than I did a year ago!

From the schoolroom kitchen table...
...There are only a couple of weeks left and it's really, really difficult to get anything done with all the driving and appointments that we have these days.  It's been insane.  Yesterday school was done mostly in the car!

From the kitchen...
...I have a long list of meals planned, but no time to fix them.  
...Lemon Blueberry pancakes from Pioneer Woman, just because they sound good!

I am creating...
...Socks.  But that present tense "am" is the problem there.  I haven't touched the socks in a week or more!  So I won't be participating in the Knit-Along this week.  I plan to take them with me to graduation (I just decided that this minute!), so I should have some serious progress made for next week!

I am reading...
...The Baby Catcher for Book Club.  Great book if you're interested in childbirth, especially home births.  Which I am.  

...The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest.  Loving this book!

I am hoping... make it through May, a high school and college graduation, and assorted AHG events, with my sanity intact!

Yep.  I'm still hoping for that.

I am hearing...
...the heavy sighs of someone who is not doing well on her science test.  After all these years of teaching, I simply do not know how to overcome her difficulties!  I think a large part of the problem is test anxiety, but she doesn't seem to have the same struggles in math.


Around the house...
...The Front Door.  The new door is in and it's gorgeous!  For the most part, you wouldn't really notice from the street except that we have the leaded glass sidelites now, which are so, so pretty, but the door is heavier and much more solid.   I like that.  Even better is that 90% of the materials are rot-proof!
Here's the long-awaited picture.  (What?  You weren't anxiously waiting for it?)
The rainbow at the top of the page is the unexpected, happy result of the leaded glass!

...painting the Little Princesses old, pink room, a new color for TMax who is moving in.  It was kind of sad changing the baby's pink room brown.  She's growing up, too.

I am going... celebrate my KT's college graduation on Friday and Saturday.  Prayers for no rain, please!  Right now, t-storms are forecast for the Friday night, outdoor ceremony.  :-(

One of my favorite things...
...Using a $5 gallon of paint and finishing the job with about 2 tablespoons of paint to spare!

I am praying for...
...The conversion of souls
...A few people with cancer
...our priests

A few plans for the rest of the week...

...Choir, school,  AHG, and in-laws arriving, graduation, party, field trip Sunday.  That's a lot of stuff.

A Thought for the day...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

 Maria Johnson said...

did you get your marathon? the BBC marathon, not the moving, painting, cleaning marathon.

Not exactly.  I haven't seen the TV at all today! After Mass, the children conned us into going out to lunch, and because of the crowds we ended up at a very quiet, new Chinese place just outside our neighborhood.  
The lunch was wonderful.  Even moreso because there was enough left over for dinner!
Don had to work this afternoon, something that he tries very hard to avoid on a Sunday, but despite his best efforts he still had to go to the office for a few hours.  Pete offered to help paint Tom's new room, so he started painting and I had to go to Lowe's for extra supplies.  I did some painting and then went to the pool with Meg and Pip for an hour or so.  
There I got to read my new bookclub book.  Yay!
I did some more painting between the pool and dinner, and then went for a walk with my hub.  It has been a full, busy day, but in the best way.  The kids were helpful and loving (though I kept reminding them they should be that way Every. Day.) and I had no expectations.
I realized a few years ago that if I expect perfection and pampering, I'm going to be nothing but disappointed.  Our duty in life does not lie in relaxing, and expecting others to serve us.  Our duty is defined by our state in life, and as a wife and mother I can't just sit around making demands.  Nor do I want to.  I'm sure I tried that in the past and it only made all of us miserable!  And there are still days when I'm probably too demanding, and I make everyone miserable, but not because I simply want to be served.
In short, it was a terrific day.  I had fun with my family, I got some work done (and yes, I know it's Sunday, but does it really count as work if you enjoy it?) and we're all relaxed.  I shed a few tears at Mass for my own mom this morning, but I'm grateful to have had such a wonderful mother, and I thank God for that and the gift of being a mom.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Teetering on the Edge

...of a Nervous Breakdown, that is.

That's how my husband said he feels most of the time when I was bemoaning everything going on here.  Don't get me wrong....everything here is good....minus the Lyme Disease uncertainty...but there's just A Lot Happening.

In case you hadn't noticed, the life of a homeschooling mom is kinda busy.  Add to that a couple of hours of carpool per day and you've got a full life.  We won't go into all the sundry little things like AHG, Boy Scouts, etc....

Then, just for kicks, lets add lots of extra practices and meetings for end-of-the-year events, 2 graduations, a graduation party, and guests.  All in the same 2 weeks!

Oh, and I hadn't even told you the Bedroom Saga...since Katie is moving home after graduation, and Meg wants her bedroom painted purple, we're making The Great Bedroom Switch.  Katie gets the schoolroom in the basement (and all that stuff has to go Somewhere), and Meg gets her old purple bedroom (because I'm not painting when there's a perfectly good purple room down the hall!), and Tom will get Meg's room once it is no longer Pepto-Bismol Pink.  In the meantime, the schoolroom is a mess.  Meg's New Room is full and the old room is still pretty full, too.  How does that happen????  Especially when the new room is larger than the old?

And that whole mess in the Old Room has to be cleaned up before the In-Laws arrive on Thursday so they have a place to sleep.  Unless they want the sofa-bed in the basement?

Oh, wait, THAT's a mess, too!

For Mother's Day, I want to sit and knit while watching a 6-hour BBC miniseries.  I don't want to cook or clean. 'kay, thanks.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Yarn Along


Entomology is finished!  Or, as I like to call it:  Dragonflies in Amber.

 Here it is unblocked.  See how puckered and ripple-y it is?
 After a nice soak and a night being pinned to the floor it's a lot bigger and flatter.
 Pretty Amazing, right?
 You can see the dragonflies a bit better here, but I guess I still didn't get a great picture of it.  I think it might take another blocking, too since I could see it rippling a litte in the afternoon.  I read that merino is very stretchy and after you pin it down you can usually stretch it a little farther, which was definitely the case here.

As for reading, I'm still working on The Autobiography of a Hunted Priest.  That's my bedtime reading, so it goes slowly, but I'm enjoying it.

I'll pick up from the library this week our new book club selection:  Baby Catcher:  Chronicles of a Modern Midwife.  I'm sure that will be an interesting discussion, full of birth stories!  

Have you read any good books lately?  My list is growing!!!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Checking In

May is here.
I've heard stories about May being busy, but I've never really experienced it until now.

A high school and a college graduation seem to be the causes.  That can't happen every year, to every one, so that must not be why May is so busy.  But it is.  Yikes.  

Dh and I sort of felt like crying and running away when we put everything (we hope!) on the calendars!  At least I did.  Maybe he's not so much of a wimp as I.


Friday I packed all morning and took my little American Heritage Girl off for a Mother/Daughter Camping Trip.  That was fun.  We ended up at a beautiful state park with lakefront sites because the park we were scheduled to go to had been hit by the wicked tornados last week.  

Sunday we got up early, broke camp, and went to Mass.  By the time I got back to the house, unloaded the car, put everything away (or on the lawn to dry), and started the laundry, I could barely keep my eyes open.  

I think I woke up 2 hours later.

Yesterday we were getting back into the groove, and I took the kids to the pool for P.E.  Can you believe our pool is OPEN?  I know that's a shock for some folks who are up north, but it is.  And then we noticed Meg's "mosquito bite" on her neck has a ring around it.  Like Lyme Disease.  Ick.  So we're off to the Doctor this morning!  

This is a great month to, once again, work on cultivating a daily Rosary habit.
Is your Month of May busy?
Do you practice the Rosary habit during May?


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