Thursday, August 29, 2013

My Sleep App

Oh, wow, apologies to the 10 people who came here to see these lovely screen shots with no explanations!  I emailed them from my phone, directly to the blog, so I could immediately edit and add text, but the blog post never shows up very quickly, and I got busy doing other things!  

The app is Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock, and I love it.  It's caused a minor miracle in my life which I can't really attribute to anything else!  You plug in your phone, turn on the app and set the alarm, and place it on the corner of your bed next to your pillow.  It detects your movements and, thereby, your sleep cycle so that it can wake you when you are in a lighter phase of sleep.  The default is 30 minutes before the time you set, but you can change that.  

Back when I was just waking to the alarm at a set time, I was extremely groggy and took a long time to wake up.  I could hardly function.  Now, I wake up, and I may not be super-energetic, but I'm fine---I can walk, talk, work out, and generally be a decent human in the mornings!

The best example of how well this works is how I feel on Friday mornings.  We go to Eucharistic Adoration at 4:00 a.m., so we get up at 3:40 (which is generally my deepest sleep phase of the night!), and we're back in bed by 5:15.  Well, I could stay in bed (during the summer) until 8:00 a.m. and still be dead until noon.  Now, I need to be up for school, so I set my alarm for 6:30, or even 6:00, and it manages to wake me at a good time, so that I am fully functional on Fridays, too!  That is the most amazing thing to me!

It's not likely to work very well with a toddler in your bed, though I am pretty sure it must pick up some of my husband's movements, and it hasn't caused a problem.  Generally, the graph matches how I felt about my nightwaking.  Last night (above) was not a good night.  Not enough deep sleep and too much tossing and turning.  Monday, however, was awesome.  I have a tendency to wake up every night around midnight, it seems.  But I already knew that.  ;-)

Let me tell you, this was totally worth the $1.99 expense.  Now I can buy less coffee.  :-)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dog Days(book)


Outside my window...
A purple twilight following a gorgeous August day (or 5).

I am thankful...
For a teenager who can drive.

From the school table...
We are slowly getting into the new rhythm.  Too slowly.  Some days we are surprised by the amount of work, or we are just reluctant to work hard, and there is early morning homework before we get in the car.  Not my favorite way to start the day!  They are enjoying school, for the most part.  There are always classes or teachers that are not the favorites.

In the kitchen...
The 7 weeks of menus and shopping lists that I planned are definitely worth the many hours spent at the computer!  The next step is getting under way this week:  I've planned out the most sensible days and times to go do my shopping at Publix,  Trader Joes, and meet up with the farmer who supplies the milk, eggs, and grassfed meets.  Everyone is going to have to deal with deli meat shortages and make do with PBJ if we run out!  All the extra trips to the store really add up to huge time and money wasters.  These days, I have plenty to keep me busy at home on school days, that I don't need to add in quick trips to the stores!

I am wearing...
Shorts and a v-neck.  Summer uniform.  I'm starting to think about fall clothes....but not ready yet!

What I’m doing with fiber...
Right now I'm plying the merino/silk that I spun.  I'm very not happy with how it is turning out.  After this, my spinning is done for a while, so I'll be knitting up all this handspun fiber.  Somehow.  I think that (below) is pretty, so I might not ply all of it, after all.

I am going...
Crazy.  Seriously crazy with the driving.  The traffic is unreal.  I swear, half a million people moved into my county over the summer and now they're all on the road driving their kids to school.  We're only a couple of weeks into the school year; AHG hasn't started yet (Thursday); and I'm over it.  I'm actually surprised at how difficult it is.  I'm not sure why it's so much harder than I expected, but I'm ready to have a nervous breakdown already.

I am wondering...

I am reading...
I just finished listening to The Favoured Child on Overdrive.  It's part of the Wideacre Trilogy by Philippa Gregory.  I've read (or listened to) the 2nd and 3rd books and found them very compelling.  (I'm reading the trilogy backwards, but that doesn't seem to make much difference, seeing as how the main character has "the sight" and you know from her recurring dream how it's going to end!)  I was disappointed in the ending of the third book, but, having finished the second, now I can see better than one of the themes is being true to yourself, as opposed to following convention.

I am hoping and praying...
...For Thomas Peter's recovery
...a mom with cervical cancer
...for Christians in the Middle East

I am looking forward to...
Getting my car back from the transmission guy.  2 transmissions in 2 years is 2 many!    The bright spot is zipping through the traffic sitting in stop and go traffic (haha!) in a tiny car that gets great mileage!

I am hearing on my ipod...
Podcasts, sometimes, and books from Overdrive.  But I have got to tell you about my favorite new app!  Maybe I'll have time tomorrow.

Around the house...
Clean kitchen cabinets and 5 loads of folded laundry during my "free time" today while Meg and Pip were at school.

One of my favorite things...
The "perfect" maxi dress that my dear Katie brought home for me from Banana Republic.  She insisted on getting it and bringing it to me for me to try on---since she knows I hate the mall.  And she was right.  I love it, and I wore it all day Sunday.  Can't wait to wear it again----but I'm not quite ready to just throw on a maxi (especially a nice one) and go to the store!

A few plans for the rest of the week...
Ugh.  Lots of rosaries, I think.

Hosted by The Simple Woman's Daybook

Friday, August 23, 2013

7 Quick School Takes


Barbara asked how school is going, and it has taken 10 days for me to get around to answering.  What does that tell you?  It's a little crazy around here, learning the ropes at the hybrid school.


It's definitely weird not being The Teacher, and not knowing what the lesson plans are.  Yes, we print them out for the week, and I can read them, but that's not the same as planning them and knowing the whole outline for the year!  I have to keep reminding them that I can help with math problems and other questions since I'm still the Primary Educator!  (wink! wink!I also have to check a bunch of things, and check off that they've been completed because the teacher never sees them----like handwriting practice.  So, I have all these Teacher Duties without the glory of being The Teacher. :-/


I'm very proud of how Pippo (and all my previous 9th graders) has risen to the challenge of an exponential increase in homework.  He has a ton of work to do, and he's been very dedicated and uncomplaining.  To be brutally honest with myself, I know that that is due to his (and their) being happy to go To School.  If I assigned that exact same work and they were home with me all day, I would never hear the end of the whining and moaning!  

Meg has had a couple of rough days of homework, too.  I don't think it's terribly excessive (maybe more than I would assign a 6th grader), but she's had some seriously long days of work at home.  They are both learning that they can't just come home and crash after school, but they need to buckle down and do math and, maybe, another subject, too.


Socially, they're both loving getting up and dressing in their uniforms, and getting to see peers all day long.  Well, Meg is.  Pippo is as blasé as a 9th grade boy should be about School.   I don't know how he can be blasé with 8 girls and only 3 boys in his class.  Sounds like good odds.  


How am I doing, you ask?  After 23 years of having children around all the time?  I'm seriously enjoying my 7 hours of peace and quiet 2 days a week!  I stay very busy with things around the house, but it's nice!  And it's about the only thing that is saving my sanity since the driving is turning into a minor nightmare.

Tuesday's not so bad.  I bring Meg and Pip home, kill an hour (lol!), and then go get Tom in the rush hour traffic.  But the past 2 Thursdays are about to drive me over the brink!  I pick them up from school, drive 5 minutes to Cross Country practice, hang around for over an hour (Meg does math), and then take them all to pick up Tom from school.  Since this is the height of rush hour, it takes twice as long as it should (ok, not really.  It's just 20 extra minutes.  But still!) and I'm ready to cry by the time we inch the last, slow mile home.  Do any of you have that issue?  What do you do??  

When AHG starts on Thursdays next week, and I have to turn around and leave as soon as Meg and I can put on uniforms, I may have a nervous breakdown.  Really, really hoping that God comes up with a plan, there.  :-)


Fridays are going to be a little awkward from now on with Meg taking Art and Chorus.  I'll have to take her after lunch, kill 2 hours somewhere, maybe at home, and go back for her at 2:30. Sometimes Pip will be finished then, and sometimes he'll have extra-curriculars for another hour. I think it's a good thing I've been spinning a lot, because I think I'm going to have lots of knitting and reading time in the car!


The final Quick Take is that, overall, we're very happy with our hybrid choice, thus far.  There have been hiccups, but I think it will be awesome overall.  There are some great Catholic families in this school that I'm glad my kids get to spend time with.  And the Quiet Time for Mom isn't too shabby, either.  :-)

How's your school year going?


Join the fun at Jen's for more 7 Quick Takes!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Spinning My

This is what I had this morning---all these little skeins of single-ply, handspun.

I stuck them all in a hot bath to set the twist so I can start plying.
silk/merino ramen.  Yum!
And now they are all outside to dry---because we got, like, 3 whole hours of sun today!

Tomorrow, maybe, I'll start plying.  In the meantime, I'm reading Bilbo's Journey:  Discovering the Hidden Meaning in The Hobbit.  It's for my September bookclub; we're reading The Hobbit and this one together.  So far, I'm enjoying his analysis of this book I've loved since I was young.  I never read it from an analytical perspective; I just enjoyed it.  I never thought that Bilbo might have something in common with Smaug, which his journey there and back again cures him of.  I wasn't really planning to re-read it for book club (since I've read it many times before), but I might after all.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Recycled Sweater into Yarn

The final results of my Recycled Sweater Experiment.  A mans XL cashmere/Shetland wool cabled sweater, purchased from Goodwill for $4.95, produced approximately 350 yards of worsted weight yarn.  It would have been over 400 had I not had a brain fail and started plying 4 strands instead of just 2 (see that fat ball on the right?).

There's a lot of waste if you don't painstakingly snip the seams, or if the yarn breaks continuously, as this did.

I bought a red sweater for the same purpose, but, aside from that, I doubt I'll try this again.  Too much work for the amount of yarn, though it was a fun experiment, and I got a lot of practice at chain plying.


Thursday, August 15, 2013

School Started!

round button chicken

Did I show you this picture of me and Meg at the Mother/Daughter Tea?  It was back in the spring, but the picture was only sent to us recently.  It was a lovely tea party/mini-retreat put on by some ladies in our homeschool group.  


Another picture of my babies off to school!  Because that is consuming all our thoughts these days as we try to learn the homework system and figure out how to school at home and away.  Their backpacks are so. heavy.  Pip's is extended as far as it will go.  Meg carries a backpack AND a messenger bag!  In fact, Pip said to count to 3 and he would stand up straight under the load in time for the picture.  Funny, but sad.


I know, it's just a lame picture of a dog on his back!  I'm still amazed when I see our once very dominant dog willing to lie on his back with his belly exposed.  He's not perfect, but he's so much better than he used to be!

(Scraping the bottom of the barrel here for funny!)


A glimpse of some of the mess in my foyer.  See those books in the back?  Help me out by stopping by my curriculum sale and shopping a little!  I'm cleaning out a bunch of the school books that will never get used again.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Last Daybook of Summer!


Outside my window...
Sunny and hot, I think.  I haven't paid much attention to the outdoors this morning.

I am thinking...
...about the long to-do list in the corner of my computer screen.  There are 14 things on it that vary in importance.  It does NOT include all the last-minute stuff that needs to be done today before school starts tomorrow for Meg and Pip.  Having a minor freak-out here.  Obviously, the treatment is to blog and ignore it for a little while.  ;-)

I am thankful...
...for my birthday weekend.  A nice day Saturday (that included some special girl-time with just me and Meg) was followed by a lovely day with the rest of the family.  We went to visit them in Athens to hang out and see a movie, and just be together for a little while.  I love those big kids!
Meg's fun, formal manicure!
From the school table...
...Lots of syllabi and printed-out lesson plans for the week (which someone else planned, so I'm liking that!).  We are trying to figure out how to get everything in the backpacks!  The drawback to a hybrid school is that Meg has all her subjects on schooldays, so she has to carry all. her. books.  She has a locker, but she still has to tote them all in and out every day.  I'm starting to think that purchasing a 2nd set may be unavoidable.  :-(  Pip has 4 classes at most, but his books are bigger, so he has a problem, too.

In the kitchen...
...Last week I made up 7 weeks worth of menus and accompanying shopping lists.  I hope that makes everything a lot easier, but I'm going to have to get in the habit of deciding in the morning which meal we're having for dinner and get it started.  Case in point:  today.  It is 11 a.m., and I probably should have already taken something out to thaw.

I am wearing...
White shorts and navy tee.  The shirt will probably get tossed in the ragbag when I check off "Clean out Mom's closet" from the To-Do List.

What I’m doing with fiber...
...Still working on plying all the grey yarn from the sweater I unravelled.  I was trying it out with my new Turkish birthday spindle, but it's making the yarn thicker than my other spindle, so I may have to stick with the same one until I finish this job!

I am going... buy more school supplies.  It never ends.

I am wondering...
How I'll get it all done.  But I know the answer already:  by the grace of God.  That's how it always happens.

I am reading...
In between books.  I want to start this Chesterton reading plan, but I'm supposed to be (re)reading The Hobbit for my book club, along with a companion book, whose name I can't recall.

I am hoping and praying...
...for the healing of Thomas Peters, the American Papist
...for a mother with cervical cancer
...for all of our priests

I am looking forward to...
...the feast of The Assumption

I am hearing on my ipod...
...Not much.  I'm spending most of my time at the computer doing stuff.  No, not just reading blogs and FB.  Actually working.

Around the house...
...Lots and lots of stacks that need to be picked up and dealt with.

One of my favorite things...
...A lack of stacks.

A few plans for the rest of the week...
...Unstack.  Restack.  Destack.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Love them.  So much.

Hosted by The Simple Woman's Daybook

Thursday, August 8, 2013

End of Summer {PHFR}

round button chicken


"Pretty" might be debateable.  Maybe the sweater was prettier before I unraveled it, but the yarn is turning out nicely once it is chain-plied.  It has a lot of knots, though I'm sure I'll be able to do something with it.  Unraveling an XL sweater is a lot of work, and if the yarn is very fine & needs to be plied (as this is), it's probably not worth it.  If nothing else, I'm getting a lot of practicing chain-plying, and it's a very soft shetland/cashmere blend for only $5.95.

Moving out of the moldy (though large and cute), problematic, first grown-up apartment,
and into an apartment with her brother in her favorite college town!

The "Andrews" Sisters before our performance of "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy".  These ladies make me look like a giant!

Adorable baby boys in velvet sailor suits grow up to be high school seniors.

Stop by LMLD to see lots of PHFR, adorable newborn baby pictures!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Do I make you feel less than...?

Great post by Simcha, over at The Register.   Go on, read it.

I would hate for anyone to think that my home is perfection, and that you can't measure up to my greatness!  This little spot is called A Shower of Roses because I want to talk about the good stuff that I enjoy, or the happy memories, or distract myself from the stresses.  Because I love St. Therese, too, but that's a different subject.  I'm like Charlotte (Waltzing Matilda) whom Simcha quotes in the article:

"[T]here are those of us who need to not focus on the struggling so much," she says, "Because if we do, we will be consumed by it."

So, don't be too in awe of me and my spinning or knitting skillz, because I'm struggling just like everyone else. (Totally tongue-in-cheek there, cuz I know you're not!)  In fact, if you ever wonder why I don't blog for a week, it's because there's a struggle going on.  It might be only in my head, but it's there!  It's probably just a to-do list that's a mile and a half long.  I'm not getting anything checked off because I'm spinning, but it's all weighing me down so I can't think of what to write about.   Or it's because I've added so much great content to my Feedly that all my thoughts are focused on what I read, not what I might write about!  Or, I might even want to rage about something in the political sphere, but I don't because I don't have the writing skills to go there.

I read a couple of decorating blogs---I would read more, but they're very dangerous for me---I've narrowed it down to just 2.  I might read an occasional post on another blog, but I won't subscribe because those have a very real tendency to make me feel bad about myself and my home.  The two I've kept have styles that I like for the most part, and they occasionally show us the real messes that they live with while they hyper-focus on some DIY project!

I try to remember that behind every perfect blogger is a mess.  It might be a physical, household mess, or it might be an internal, emotional mess, but there's a mess!  There's only one blogger I think is "perfect," but I keep telling myself she must have her struggles, too, so I don't allow myself to feel envious (okay, maybe a little).  

There's enough ugliness in the world around us without adding to it.  On Facebook, you can just block the friend who constantly posts tirades about politics or life.  On blogs, just scroll on through or unsubscribe.  Read the ones that lift you up.  Life is too short to be angry or to beat yourself up over someone else's little successes.

Not only is life too short, but if someone does make me feel bad about myself, should I get mad at them, or should I try to improve myself?  Assuming, of course, that this is an area that needs improvement and isn't just a shallow reflection...In the end, the only thing that matter is whether I pleased God, not myself or anyone else.


Thursday, August 1, 2013

PHF and very Real

round button chicken

See who's on the wall in the background?

"New" dress from Goodwill for the "Swing Night" show at church.  $5.95 + the cost of drycleaning, and it's stunning!  In case you can't tell, it's a gorgeous raspberry color which looks great on.

I bought another, black, gown, because my friends say that we do these shows a couple of times per year, so it's worth it to have a couple.  Especially if they cost only $5.95!!!


A photo I got this morning from my friend who took Meg to camp.  She's having a great time at AHG camp from everything I hear.  Yesterday, I got a photo of her with half-a-dozen new best friends!  


When we were shopping for costumes for the show, she found this dress for herself.  It's an adult size, but with a tank underneath, and tied tightly in the back, it's a maxi on my little girl, and she looks great in it.  She's been dying for an outfit with denim on top, but we usually just see super-short rompers, in the stores, that I won't let her wear.  I think she'll be wearing this one for years as she grows into it!

Go read this post by Grace at Camp Patton.  It's a departure from her usual tales of a crazy life with 3 children under 3.  She tells funny stories of the mayhem of littles, and how nuts they can make us, but you have to read her blog with your tongue firmly in cheek, as she writes it.  This post is more about the "real" Grace and how they use (or don't use) NFP.  She must be a very positive person, because I could never have written such a blog if I were in her shoes!  My kids were spaced farther apart, and my melancholic temperament would not have made the blogosphere a happy place, if I were blogging back then!  

And here's "real" for ya:  I'm heartily sick of NFP!  21-ish years of taking my temp almost every. single. day. is about to drive me over the edge!  I don't know how fertile I really am, but the thought of abandoning NFP for a possible (however unlikely) pregnancy at the age of..ugh...49 next pretty scary.  Grace's faith is inspiring.



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