Friday, August 29, 2008

Suzanne of Suzanne's Daily Dance has just stopped homeschooling for the first time in a very long time. Having been there I can tell you that this is a huge transition. Suzanne is feeling frazzled with this dramatic change. Her daily activities are suddenly going to be quite different. She has written on her blog about this change and has asked some questions to help sort things out. Maybe others would like to answer these questions too.

You know, you all could help me...I does some of your plans go? Such do you start your days, when do you do this or that chore each day or week?
When do you blog...after this or that is done? How often do you exercise? Do you cook certain things on certain days of the week? Do you do your kids laundry or what chores do you expect from them, esp. since mine isn't used to homework and I don't believe it is good for any of them to assume mom will always do this or you just ask them to do some of those laundry jobs sometimes.. or what? Do you ask if you can help them with homework or just wait until they ask.
OK. Suzanne, here are my answers.

How do I start my days? Usually with coffee or tea and rushing to get out the door to get the kids to school on time. I pray either before I get out of bed. (I sit up and pray from my Magnificat.) Or, sometimes I pray when I get back home from the driving. If I don't get my prayer time in early it's hard to do it later. I try to get to Mass several times during the week.

When do I do certain chores? I throw laundry in the washer whenever I can (no schedule). I fold it when I get the chance. I grocery shop when we're out of enough things. (no schedule) I do dishes every day. Vacuuming and other cleaning usually happens on Saturdays with the kids help.

When do I blog? I usually allow myself an hour, either early in the morning (like right when I get home after taking the kids to school) or late at night. In between, if I have 5 or 10 minutes I will check other blogs and respond to comments.

Do I cook certain things on certain days of the week? Nope. I cook whatever I can put together from what we've got. We usually have a vegetarian dinner on Fridays.

How often do I exercise? I try to go to Curves at least twice a week but, honestly, it's been a long time since I have gone twice a week regularly.

Do my kids do laundry or chores? Jim (16) and John (18) do their own laundry. I do it for the younger kids. They all do chores. Often they do the dishes. No schedule. I just ask whoever has the time to do it. On Saturdays they have assigned chores like cleaning a bathroom, vacuuming, cutting the grass, etc.

Usually I help with homework only if they ask. But sometimes I bring it up by asking how it's going (especially when they're first starting school.)

Everybody's routine is probably different. I know some people are much more organized than I am. I have to readjust my schedule so frequently that it helps me to stay real flexible.

I think it's the unfamiliarity of the new schedule that makes it feel kind of unnerving. But it passes. And a new peace will come.

Suzanne, may the peace that surpasses all understanding be yours.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Family Home

The good news?  I think we've finally sold my father's house.

The bad news?  The new owners plan to tear it down and build a bigger house on the lot.  This is what happens in Birmingham pretty regularly.  The land itself is so valuable that the smaller homes just get eaten up.  The people want the land and they want a BIG house.  There's nothing wrong with my parents' house.  It's solid.  I guess it's over 50 years old.  It doesn't look all that up-to-date.  But it's structurally sound and it served our family well.

I was there today.  We have emptied quite a bit of it now.  Some of my mother's sweet and lovely furniture is now in my living room.

But when I go in that house it still feels like home.  It's so full of memories.

A large portion of the flower bed in the front has all the dirt turned over.  I guess that was from the property inspection.  They wanted to inspect the property to make sure there were no buried oil tanks or something.  They aren't even inspecting the house itself.  I remember the impatiens my mother used to plant in that bed.

I went in to my mother's bathroom with the pink wallpaper, thinking about how the cute little room would soon be crushed by bulldozers.

In the kitchen closet I found some little thanksgiving figures, little pilgrims-- the kind of things my mother would have on the table on holidays.  I wrapped them up to bring home.

The house was so quiet, so empty.  The warm childhood memories seemed to slip further and further into the past, emphasized by the occasional spider or cobweb.

I'm feeling a little weepy.  I remember how so many of my blogging friends were such a support in my father's last days and after his passing.

When I go back I will take some pictures to share with you.

God bless.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Weight Loss Wednesday

Here are the numbers:

This Week:  Down a pound and a half!!!!

Overall:  Down 7 pounds!

I am at this very moment wearing pants that I have not worn in a long time....and they're not uncomfortable.   God is good.

Ruthann's Gift!!

Some time ago I posted this photo of the hostas right off my porch, because I thought they looked so lovely with the raindrops on the leaves.  Ruthann also likes hostas.  Do you know what she did?  She printed this photo and made it into an art quilt!!!

Ruthann printed it on fabric and then quilted it.  Be sure to make the picture below bigger so you can see her lovely stitching on the leaf lines.  She also added tiny Swarovsky crystals to capture the glistening raindrops!

I was so surprised when, at the Cinderella opening night, Ruthann told me she had something for me.  I couldn't imagine what it could be.  Then she brought in this lovely art quilt and gave it to me!!!!

Here it is hanging on my wall.

Isn't it gorgeous?!

Is Ruthann not only sweet but very talented??!!

I was so touched by this kind act of generosity and thrilled by the beauty of the piece!

Ruthann, thank you so much!!!!!!!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Family moment Monday--Spontaneity

Mary and I with our new haircuts..

Motherhood for Dummies sponsors Family Moment Monday.  Family Moment Monday "consists of people who are sharing crafts, activities, lessons, ideas, service projects or anything else that you can learn/do/enjoy as a family."  Please see M for D's site for more great family ideas.

My sweet daughter Mary agreed to go shopping with me for a dress to wear to a wedding this weekend.  She was really very helpful .  I asked her not to try to get me to buy something that SHE might like, but rather something that I would like.  I said, "You know, Mary.  I have to get something that someone my age would wear."  She said, "OK."  And she really did try to help me do that.

As we walked by the beauty salon in the mall Mary mentioned that she would like to get her hair cut sometime by Tommy (who goes to our church and who has cut her sister's hair.)

I said, "Shall we see if he's here now?"  She answered, "YEAH!!"

So we went in and he was there and was free!!

Mary was so thrilled.  She got a nice haircut and since he had time I decided to get mine cut too.

I have found that my children really love this kind of spontaneous surprise.  I guess it's because children are so naturally spontaneous themselves.  As an adult it's a little hard for me to do this.  I like to have my day kind of planned. (kind of).  And I'm disinclined to make an abrupt change for no urgent reason.

But my children love it when I do.  This shopping/haircut expedition was a good example.  I don't do it often but here are a few other examples:

"Let's go out for ice cream!!!"  (Now this one is not so infrequent:-)

Once about 10:00 p.m.   I asked, "Who wants go to the movies?"  (This was for Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings or something they really wanted to see.  If I recall I slept through most of it.)  They were so excited.

And once when only one child was home I suggested we go to our local water park right then.

I don't do this often I must say, lest you think I'm some kind of supermom.  But when I do it always seems to reap big rewards in my relationships with my children.  May this post remind me to lighten up and do it a little more often!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Scenes from Cinderella

Well, the show is over.  There were four performances and it was well attended.  Everyone is tired.

Here is Jim sitting on the left at the well.

Jim is in the center of the picture below, behind the girl in the lime green dress.  Liz is on the far left in the green dress with the little-girl apron on.

Here is Liz with the braids.  She had a lot of fun being in this show.  John was the music director but I don't have a picture of him playing because he insisted that I not take one.....

I loved the scene pictured below and added to the script by our excellent drama coach Ms. K-M.  It is Cinderella at her wedding with the prince, reconciling with her stepmother and step sisters.  I love it-- mercy and forgiveness.

And here is the entire cast and crew.  They did such a good job and I know so many of them I think I just sat there with a big smile on my face for the whole show.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

How can anyone look at beauty like this and not believe there is a God.

How can anyone reasonably believe that these beautiful living things, which are nothing compared to a human being, could actually have evolved from random genetic mutations without an intelligent designer.  

I love flowers, but there is something so lovely about the hostas too.  

I love the variations in the leaf color.  They look as though they were painted.  Extraordinarily beautiful.  Which brings me to the wonderful gift Ruthann gave me tonight.  I will write about it soon but let me tell you it has to do with hostas and Ruthann's amazing creativity.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


The Father Gabriel Richard High



If you live in this area you won't want to miss this outstanding production of Cinderella


 Julia Roth as Cinderella
Kevin Heemstra as the Prince

and a cast of many other amazingly talented alumni who have returned for this fabulous show to help raise money for a new fine arts wing at Father Gabriel Richard High School.

(And of course several of my children and a lot of their friends are in it too!!!)

If you'd like more info, email or call me.  Just got back from taking pictures of the dress rehearsal.  It's a wonderful show.

Weight Loss Wednesday-- I'm on a roll!

HEY!!!  Guess what? 

 This was a really good week!!!  Are you ready???

This Week:    2 and 1/2 pounds down. 


Overall:  5 and 1/2 pounds!!!!

Understand that I'm only 5 feet tall.  Five pounds is a noticeable difference for me.  I can't wear my largest size pants now without a belt.  They're actually a little too big.  

I'm eating very little fat.  I'm exercising a little more.  I've actually been to Curves with my daughter Mary three times in the last week.  

I don't want to develop honest to goodness heart disease someday because I didn't have the self-discipline to cut the fat in my diet and exercise.  Having had my recent scare I feel I've been given another chance.  The additional benefit?  I will lose weight.  

It was hard to summon the strength of will  just for the purpose of losing weight.  (I think I actually was more drawn to the enjoyment of food than the idea of being thinner.)  But the goal of keeping my heart healthy is really motivating, especially after getting a glimpse of what it would be like to take the other path.

So....I think I'm on a roll.  I've got the wheels of the rusty  wagon moving.

Thank you for indulging me in this accountability.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I hesitate (a little) to bring up the following topic.  It's politics.  

I know that not everyone who reads this blog is a Republican.  In fact, some of the readers of this blog are not Americans and could probably care less who our next President and vice-president will be.

Maybe some of  the readers of this blog are not pro-life.

I don't know.  I don't want to alienate or offend or annoy any of my good blogging friends.

But you want to know something?

I LOVE POLITICS.  I really do.  I think it's fascinating and I'm really interested in the upcoming election.

I'm very conservative on the social issues.  Less so on the economic issues.  And rather moderate on foreign policy issues.

The issue on which I feel the strongest is the protection of the unborn.  This is not the only issue I look at.  But if there is a pro-life candidate and one that is decidedly not, the pro-life candidate will get my vote every time.

Therefore..... I support John McCain.  I find Obama very charismatic and a strong leader.  But he has supported partial-birth abortion and I could never support a candidate who has voted in favor of partial-birth abortion.

OK.  There.  I've said it.  And if McCain chooses a running mate who is not pro-life, his election chances are over I believe.  I hope he realizes that.  I would love it if he chose Huckabee as his running mate.

So.  Would love to hear how you choose your candidates.  Do you know who you'll vote for?  Are you hoping for a particular vice presidential candidate for either party?  Is politics like the last thing you enjoy reading in a blog post?  Is the abortion issue a hot-button issue for you or is there something else?

I'm kind of expecting no comments because that's what I usually get when I bring up politics.

Sorry.  Just couldn't help myself.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Family Moment Monday--Sometimes a mother needs to keep her mouth shut!!

Motherhood for Dummies sponsors Family Moment Monday.  "Family Moment Monday consists of people who are sharing crafts, activities, lessons, ideas, service projects or anything else that you can learn/do/enjoy as a family.

Jim has his driver's license, finally!!!

He's almost seventeen and he started driver's ed. a little late because he couldn't fit it in his schedule with football, etc.

But on Friday he took his road test and now he has the coveted driver's license!!!

On Thursday he and I went out to practice parallel parking.  He's been driving with me for the last year in the Lincoln Town Car which is not the easiest car to park.  But Jim assured me that on the test they measure the length of the car and then add six feet.  After many attempts he seemed able to get the car into a space about that size.

So we went to the test.  The tester had me come along and sit in the back seat during the road test.  I tried to not pay attention.  But when he had Jim change lanes I notice Jim check his blind spot and THEN the instructor looked up at him as if to see if he had checked it.  This happened a couple times!  I SO wanted to say something.  I thought he would be marked down for sure.  But I kept my mouth shut.

For the parallel parking segment the tester measured the car and set the cones at the exact size of the car!!!

I was biting my tongue!!!  I thought I'll just go over and jokingly ask if he wouldn't give Jim a break for driving a car that big.  Then I could mention the extra six feet thing.

Then I came to my senses.  Jim is almost 17.  He doesn't need his mom to rescue him.  This is HIS road test.  He can handle it.  Even if the tester is being unfair, Jim can handle it.  I don't need to say a thing.  And speaking up sends the wrong message.  Jim needs to know that I know that he is capable of managing his own life (almost:-).

I thought Jim would say something, but he did not.  I told myself again, Keep your mouth shut!  And I'm happy to say that I did.

I watched him start to try to parallel park that tank.  And would you believe it?  He got that car into a parking space the exact size of the car!!!!!  I was amazed.

He passed the test.  He was not marked down for failing to check a blind spot.  I had misinterpreted the testers looks.  He nailed the parallel parking.

You know what?  Jim is doing just fine.  He doesn't need me to manage little details of his life.  

Sometimes it's important for a mom to speak up.  And sometimes it's important to NOT say anything.  When a teen feels respected by his parents, when he starts to feel that there's really a lot that he can manage on his own, when he starts to gain confidence in his own abilities, he takes the first beginning steps toward responsible adulthood.  As a parent I need to give him that opportunity.    And sometimes that means, keeping my mouth shut!  (Always a bit of a challenge for me.)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Happy Feast of the Assumption

Mary, our mother, Happy Feast Day!

Happy Feast of the Assumption!!!
(For those of you who are not Catholics..this is what is called a Solemnity, and a Holy Day of Obligation in the Catholic Church-- that means we are obligated by church law to go to Mass today.)

I wear a scapular.  I love Our Lady.  I don't worship her (as all you Catholics know,)  but I honor her as the mother of my Savior.

When I was in the hospital recently I was reminded of another time I had been there with an irregular heart rhythm.  At that time I almost took my scapular off.  ( How stupid would that have been??!!) I was worried about what people would think (as they put EKG electrodes on my chest.)  I was afraid they would think I was a fanatic.  I felt very bad about this impulse afterwards, although I did not actually take it off.

This more recent ER visit, by God's grace, I felt completely different.  I didn't think at all about what people would think.  I didn't even care.

Instead, as I was being prepared for a treadmill test and the technician was navigating her wires around the scapular, I decided to bring it up.  I touched the scapular ribbon and asked, "Is this in your way?"  She said, "No, it's fine."  

I asked, "Are you Catholic?"  She smiled and said, "No."

I said, "Well, it's a scapular.  It's a devotion to Mary.  And If I'm going to die today I want to be wearing it."

Laughing she said, "Well, let's not call on her today, OK?  I don't think we're going to be needing her today."

I said, "I hope not."  And we both laughed again.

She was a sweet young woman, clearly not anti-Catholic.  May God bless her (through the intercession of his Blessed Mother)!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ghosts at Chautauqua?

When my daughter and I went to Chautauqua to pick up John, we stayed at a Bed and Breakfast that was well over a hundred years old.  (Not pictured here.)  It was a very interesting place, three stories tall, and very Victorian looking.  When we arrived, I looked at the inn and thought how wonderfully beautiful it looked and how fascinating to think of its history.  My daughter had a different thought.

Me:  Wow.  It's beautiful, isn't it?

Anne:  It's probably haunted.

Me:  What?!

We both laughed.

Me:  I wish you hadn't said that.  Now I'm going to be hearing things all night long.

Anne:  There will probably be a thunderstorm, lightning filling the whole room, huge thunderclaps, and the lace curtains blowing into the room.

Me:  Anne!   (laughing) Stop it!  (But I'm actually getting a little nervous.)

We checked in and were shown our room.

Me:  So.  Do we have a key?

The owner:  Nope.  No keys and no locks.

Me:  Oh....  OK.

Anne gives me a look.   I smile back.

(Later John explains to us that Chautauqua has a zero crime rate.  It's a gated community.  I'm thinking, "And criminals can't climb fences??  Still, there's never been any crime....)

Anne and I take our car to the designated lot outside the gate.  There is only very limited motor vehicle access in Chautauqua.  As we're walking from the very far back lot we see a man who I thought was acting and looking very suspicious.  He had several ropes in his hand and a chain. He seemed to be looking at an overgrown area of weeds off to the side of the lot.  As we passed him though he greeted us and in a friendly manner said, "Don't worry about those rain clouds. That storm is already past us."

I occasionally glanced over my shoulder to see where he was.  He was continuing to look in the weeds.  Maybe he was looking at a wildflower?

Why the heck was the guy carrying ropes and chains???

After we entered the gate I looked and about a block behind us there he was!!  Coming in!!

We reassured each other.  He probably lives here!  He lost his dog and was looking for it.  Yeah, that was it.  In a minute or two he was gone.

It was about 7:00 when we started to hear thunder in the distance.  I kid you not.  Anne and I exchanged smiles.  No way!

Yup.  By dark it was full force thunder and lightning.  We went up to our room which was not air-conditioned and it was quite warm.  The rain was not coming in so we could leave the windows open.  But did we want to?  The fire escape came right up to the third floor and it would be possible for someone to walk right up to that window.

I am a rather timid sort and I did not want to scare my daughter.  We left them open.  

Well, just as she had predicted there were huge thunderclaps and brilliant flashes of lightning as the breeze blew the lovely lace curtains softly into the room.  We laughed about it (a little nervously.)

Me:  I wish we had holy water.  We could sprinkle the room.  You know, just in case....
I DO have a rosary!  We'll hang it from the lamp!  I took out my white plastic rosary and it happened to be one of those that glow in the dark.  

Me:  Hey, cool!  We'll be able to see it in the dark. (And so will the ghosts.)

We turned out the lights.

I'm lying there with my eyes wide open.  Was there really a glow coming from the corner of the room?  I blinked,  telling myself that I was way too susceptible to suggestion to really take that thought seriously.  

I opened my eyes again.  There was definitely a greenish white glow with an indefinite shape kind of hovering around the corner of the room near the ceiling!!!!  

I thought, OK, no more brave mom!!! I reached over, grabbed for the light, turned it on, and said to my daughter.

Me:   Anne!!  Is there a glow coming from the corner of the room?!!!"

Anne:  ( a little nervously)  There is.

A few seconds of silence.

Anne:  I think it might be coming from the microwave.

Me:  And then reflecting off the wall?

Anne:  Yeah.

Me:  (thinking I am not going to torture myself all night long)  I'm turning off the light.  I'm going to walk over there.  I'll put my hand over the microwave clock and you tell me if the glow disappears. 

Anne:  OK.   (Out goes the light.)

I walked quickly over to the glow before I lost my courage and and smacked my hand on the microwave clock.

Me:  Is it gone?

Anne:  Yes!!!!!  (Casper had immediately disappeared.  Thanks be to God.  My daughter is a genius.)

We actually slept pretty well after that.  Well, I woke up three or four times but I thought that was not bad for sleeping in a potentially haunted ancient inn with no locks on the doors.

P.S  Chautauqua is a lovely, safe place.  The inns are beautiful.  The hospitality is warm.  If you have the opportunity to go there and stay in a B & B, I would highly recommend the experience.  (Don't let my paranoia discourage you.)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Weight Loss Wednesday

Accountability Numbers:

This Week-- No gain or loss

Overall-- Three pounds

This is going AWFULLY slowly!

OK.  I know that means I have to eat less.  But I AM eating less.  I actually think I would have been lower this morning if I hadn't had a rather salty dish for dinner last night.  Maybe retained some water?  (I bet you're thinking, 'She always has some excuse.'  LOL)

I've eaten very little fat this week.  After my hospital scare I thought about how I could be doing more to lessen the chances of really ending up there having had a heart attack.  So I've put myself on a very low fat diet.  Even turned down ice cream several times.  Not only will I be healthier this way, I HAVE to eventually lose more weight.  There are only so many calories you can consume that have little or no fat.  

So.  I'm still optimistic that I can lose that additional 10 to 15 pounds.

Thanks for indulging me with this accountability.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Lucille Ball

On my recent trip to Chautauqua we stayed in nearby Jamestown, New York,  the home of Lucille Ball.  Please tell me there are no young readers out there who have never heard of Lucille Ball and the famed television show "I Love Lucy."  Actually, feel free to say so if that's the case.  I always find that fascinating.

Pictured below is her birthplace.

And this is the walkway to her tombstone.  She is buried with her parents and her extended family.  Note the little pink heart.  Isn't that sweet?

And this is her tombstone.  I think this is her birthday month so it may be decorated a little more than usual.  Remember her in pearls?

I thought it a rather unassuming grave site, just surrounded by the rest of her family.   Sweet, really. She was quite a star as many of us remember.

May she rest in peace.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Family Moment Monday-- suggestions for getting your kids to eat fruits and vegetables

Motherhood for Dummies hosts Family Moment Monday.  Check out her blog for other posts about "family activities, crafts, lessons, ideas, service projects or anything else you can learn/enjoy/do as a family."

I have always wanted to make sure my kids eat enough fruits and vegetables.  With all the junk food around it's so easy for them to fill up on nutrition-poor food, to the neglect of the really valuable foods like fruits and vegetables.  Some kids just really don't go for this food group.  Others are no problem.  The following are ideas I've used over the years to increase everybody's fruit and veggies intake.

1.  If they will only eat them raw, let them eat them raw.  It's actually better for them anyway.  Almost no one in our family likes cooked carrots so we very often have a bowl of raw carrots on the table for a vegetable at dinner.  Ditto for any other veggie.

2.  Put a plate of raw vegetables in front of them while they're watching TV.  Don't ask if they're hungry or if they want something to eat.  Especially don't ask if they want to eat some raw vegetables!  Just make a little platter.  If you have time use a variety of colors and make the plate look attractive.  (You know, alternate colors or make a little pattern or a smiley face, etc.)
When you take it to them say something casual like, "Here's something for you to nibble on." or "You can eat some of these if you want."  Then walk away as if it doesn't matter to you if they eat them or not.  If they complain just say, "Just leave them if you don't want them."

Then.... lo and behold, they can't help themselves.  Eyes on TV, hand goes to mouth.  They just eat them.  Sometimes the entire platter will disappear.  Then at dinner you don't have to see if they're eating the veggies.  They already ate them.  Mission accomplished.

3.  Put little sprigs of grapes or cherries or those little pre-washed carrots on the table when they come home from school.  Of course, the very popular ones like strawberries or watermelon will disappear in minutes.  Even if they're headed for a different snack, they'll pop a few veggies or fruits in first just because they're available and they're so hungry.  A great time to do this is when you're making dinner.  The kids come in to find out what's for dinner and you just say, "You can snack on what's on the table if you're hungry."  They'll nearly always pop one or two in their mouths.

4.  Sometimes when a child wants a sugary snack I just say, "You can have it if you eat a fruit or vegetable first."  They don't need to eat a lot-- four grapes, one little carrot stick, just a little token amount.  But every little bit adds to the total for the day.  I don't think any child of mine has ever declined the offer.

5.  When my kids were real little I got them interested in broccoli by calling them little trees.  We pretended we were giant dinosaurs eating the trees.  They loved it.  I even got them to eat some asparagus by calling them the palm trees.  (I wouldn't try this with teens.  I don't think they'll buy it :-)

6.  Cut the apples into little slices and arrange them on a plate.   A lot of kids will eat an apple if it's cut, even though they don't want to be bothered eating a whole one.  

Here's the short version:

Kids will eat fruits or vegetables if you make them readily available (like put them right in front of the child) when the child is hungry.  You'll have better luck offering them at snack times rather than at meals when they're distracted by other appealing dishes like mac and cheese, or chicken strips, etc. Mindless snack times like when they're watching TV or roaming the kitchen looking for something to nibble on work really well.

So... that's my two cents.  Anybody have other ideas?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

I met Salome Ellen!

What a hoot!!!!

I met Salome Ellen in the narthex of my church!!!!!

Salome Ellen is a blogging friend of mine.  This is the first time I have actually met a blogging friend whom I did not actually know in "real life."

She doesn't go to my church.  She was a visitor and recognized me from my profile photo.  I met her daughter and new grandson.  How delightful to meet a blogging friend in real life.

Too Funny!!!!!!

Friday, August 08, 2008

The Baby is Twelve!!!!!

Liz is twelve years old today!!!

But she's at camp so we won't see her.  (Although I did send a musical birthday card to her by express mail to be delivered by noon today.

She was born in the evening of my childbearing years, a special blessing, born just before my forty-second birthday.

Here she is with me in the middle and her sister in the turquoise on my right.  This is Florida.

She's half little girl, half teenager, if you know what I mean.

This year brought her new braces....

And more progress on the cello.....

Here she is in her pink apron cooking something.

Happy Birthday Liz!!!!

May God bless you today and all the days of your life!!!

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Weight Loss Wednesday...on Thursday (teehee)

Here are my accountability numbers.

This week:  One half pound

Overall:  Three pounds

Since I started this six weeks ago, I realize three pounds overall is nothing to write home about.  

Still, I'm excited.  Why?  Because I've gotten the wagon moving.

I once read something written by a wise man about fasting.  I wish I remembered who it was so I could give him credit.  He said that starting to fast was like trying to get a rusty old wagon to move.  The very hardest part is getting the wheels to move AT ALL.  And the more you push the easier it gets.

I think I have started the wagon moving.  I am aware of what I'm eating.  I'm not trying to eat as much as I can get away with as I did before.  I'm trying, for the most part, to eat as small an amount as I can and still keep myself nourished and not too hungry.  

AND, after last week's experience, I'm trying to eat as little fat as possible.  I'll write more about this awakening next week.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Back from Chautauqua!

Went to Chautauqua yesterday and brought John home today.  Woohoo!  It's great to have him back home.  He was gone for seven weeks, the longest he's ever been away.  He's eighteen and he's lived at home for his first year of college.

That Steinway is singing like it's never sung before.  Wow.  Practicing seven hours a day for seven weeks really yields some results!

He wasn't home more than five minutes before he had to start playing it again.  What a delight to hear.  He didn't even want to stop for dinner.  So I took this lousy picture of him, the only one he would let me take.

Now he's out with friends and I'm so glad.  For seven weeks he lived and breathed only piano. For such a gifted kid he really lives a very normal life which I am sure he is happy to be back to.

(I know this was supposed to be "Weight loss Wednesday" but I didn't have a scale at the inn.  So tomorrow I will confess what progress or not I have made.)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Another Bloomin' Miracle

Can you believe this snapdragon? 

 It grew, apparently from displaced seed from last year, between this rock and the edge of my porch.  There must only be a half inch of space in there.  And look how lovely it is!  

To me it is another very tiny example that God will do whatever he pleases, in His own time and in His own space.  And it is always good.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Family Moment Monday--Parents need to be in charge.

Motherhood for Dummies
sponsors Family Moment Monday.  Check out her site for other great family moment posts.

An article in my local paper today talked about expulsions of students from area schools.  It focused on the experience of one child ten years old who had started a new school after numerous problems at a previous school.  According to the article this boy, after only an hour and a half of school, started swearing and giving the finger to his teacher.  At recess this child started a fight with another fourth grader, kicking him in the face.  He was expelled.

How such children should be handled in the public school system is a very complex question.  And I do feel for this child and his family.  There's clearly something wrong.  I don't pretend to know what is motivating this child's behavior or what kind of home life he has.

The story does though raise in my mind something that I have observed for some time as a substitute teacher.  Some kids have very little self control and very little self discipline.  They make teaching very difficult and they greatly interfere with the ability of other students to learn.  I know that what I see in a great local Catholic school is nothing compared to what is happening in the public schools.  I assume that these children cannot control themselves because their parents have never made them.  (I do know this is a simplification and some cases are rather complicated.)

Why are some parents so hesitant to make their children obey?  Obedience is a very unpopular concept in our society today.  I see parents actually negotiating with defiant children, instead of telling them to do what they are told or accept the consequences.

Today's parents don't seem to think it is their right to make a child do something if the child doesn't want to.  I don't understand such thinking.  Shall I put it more strongly?  I think they're nuts.  Parents are supposed to be the ones in charge.  Even our laws reflect the judgement that until a child is eighteen he or she does not have the ability to make all of their own decisions.  And they indeed do not always know what's best for them!!

I was once part of a coop nursery school where the parent helpers were instructed to avoid using the word "no" or "not."  It was too negative.  Instead of saying, "Joey, you may not throw the blocks."  We were to say, "Joey, you may build things with the blocks."  My response was, HE ALREADY KNOWS HE MAY BUILD WITH THE BLOCKS.  WHAT HE NEEDS TO KNOW IS THAT HE MAY NOT THROW THEM.  This was not an acceptable viewpoint in the nursery school. And let me tell you we had quite a few injuries from kids getting hit with blocks.  It seemed so foolish and really quite unfair to the kids.  All kids want to know where the limits are.  What some parents don't seem to get is that limits start where consequences begin.

I love my children.  I do explain to them why they must do certain things and not do others.  I let them tell me why they object.  I listen to them.  They may say whatever they want to me as long as it is said respectfully.  Occasionally I change my mind after listening.  But they know that the bottom line is that mom and dad make the rules and they must follow.  They also know that if they look at us and say, "Make me," we will.  I think setting limits enforced with consequences is an essential element of good parenting.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

"What the heck is that!!!!!"

On the way home from Chautauqua with my daughter, my sister, and my two nephews we looked behind us to see this most unusual vehicle coming up behind us.

"What the heck is that!!!" 

was the chorus of screaming and laughing kids and adults.

And this is what drove right past our window!!!!!

As he passed we could see on his license plate the answer to our question?

It said, "A Rocket".

This was the oddest thing I've ever seen on the road.  This guy was driving his rocket-car seventy miles an hour down the highway!!! 

My daughter has a great 3o second video that really captures the excitement in the car as this thing drove by, but as yet I have not been able to load it.

Have you ever seen anything like it!?!!??

Friday, August 01, 2008

Images of Chautauqua, New York

Chautauqua is a beautiful place.  Here are some pictures to give you an idea of what it's like.  Cars have very limited access.  It's right on beautiful Lake Chautauqua.  And the music is phenomenal.

We had such a nice time.  Next week I go back to bring John back home.

They call these little cottage-like buildings the "practice shacks."  Each one contains nothing but a new Steinway grand piano.  Of course, they're air conditioned.  John has spent a lot of time in these things.

The homes were just gorgeous.  Lovely front porches with white wicker furniture. It's just a very, very visually pleasing place.