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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Seventeen years ago....

Seventeen years ago today, I was getting ready.  Getting ready for one of the happiest days of my life.  The day I would marry Mark, and become his.  And my 8 month old baby daughter would have the Daddy she deserved.  

Mark proposed to me on St. Valentines Day.  But I knew this day was coming long before he got on one knee and asked me to be his wife.  And also long before he first asked my parents permission.  I knew it since our first date.  I knew it, because I could see it in his face.  

Only 6 months after we started dating.. and I had dresses bought for myself and my baby, we had the church booked, flowers ordered, invitations sent.   I was so nervous.. but excited.  Mark wanted to lasso the moon for us.... to tie it up in a big bow, and give it to me.  My baby was his baby.  He planned to legally adopt her.  Mark loved us both.  And I knew he did.  Not because he 'told' us, but I could see it in his face.  In his actions.  And every day I knew in my heart it was true.  

Our wedding wasn't a huge affair.  Small.  Intimate.  No bridesmaids.  No limo.  No caterer.  No band.  But it was ours.. and our family and friends all came, and that meant the world to us.  I had a pink lacey dress from Sears, and baby's breath flowers in my hair.  Mark bought himself a new shirt, shoes,  and tie. :)

We married in my family's baptist church.  Where my sister and cousins had married.  Where my grandpop taught Sunday school and was a deacon.  So, on April 30, 1994, we vowed to love each other for all of eternity in front of God, our family, and friends.  Our wedding bands simple ones, but engraved with our initials and wedding date.

We didn't have money for a fancy honeymoon.  But Mark put roses on my pillow, and we were together.  And finally we were a little family..  with a little girl... with her daddy already wrapped around her tiny finger.

Looking back over the seventeen years we've been married...  Mark adopted my baby legally when she was two years old.  We had another baby five years later in 2000, and then, renewed our vows in the Catholic Church in 2002.  Mark said he loved me so much, that he'd "even marry me twice". :)

Mark and I are older now.  Not exactly "spring chickens" anymore.  Our girls are big..  one is nearly grown.   I look back over the past 17 years of marriage, to a man who loved me through everything.  When I was healthy, when I was sick, even when I was being a total %&#@ to live with. ;)   We've had children we've loved and raised together.  We bought a house, lost family and friends close to us whom we loved.  We've grieved, and we've celebrated.  We've had a child with "issues" and spent a few years doing nothing but going to doctor appointment and therapy.  Heck, we even went through getting termites at Christmas time, and an over two month lay-off.  

There have been times when we cried.  Many times we've worried.  But I look back at all the times we celebrated.  The times we just laughed until tears poured.  The times that we watched the rain together.  The moment the judge declared that my baby was now legally Mark's baby too.  And no one could ever take her away from him. :)   I think of Mark holding my hands as I gave birth.   Of us dancing together at his sisters wedding.  Of Mark holding our daughter in his arms the first time a boy broke her heart, and all she wanted was her Daddy.  Of the time he had to replace the window I cracked by tapping it with my wedding ring.  Of every time he sat up half the night to fix a broken toy for one of the girls.  I think about every time that Mark put me and our girls first before himself.  And the times that I felt so fat, so ugly, and so sad, and Mark would smile at me, and tell me that I am beautiful.

I remember when I was little, I only wanted to be a princess, and grow up and marry a prince and live in a castle.  I think a lot of little girls want that.  At least they used to.  :)   I saw Prince Charles and Lady Diana get married.  I watched Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson marry.  The whole world watched.  And I watched it all on tv with my mom.

We're not rich, famous, or royalty.  But I think we have something that even "the royals" don't have.  On April 30, Mark and I will be grilling a steak to celebrate our 17 years of marriage... full of life, love, loyalty, and laughter.  Some things you just can't put a price tag on.  And somethings are worth more than all the riches in the world.  

I have been blessed.  Blessed with a happy marriage.  Blessed with a husband and daughters that I would absolutely die for.  The "worst" day of our 17 year marriage I wouldn't trade for anything.  I am exactly where God put me.  Where He wants me.   Where He put me.  This is my vocation.  For better.  For worse.  In sickness, and in health.  Til death do we part.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tis the Season... Don't Breathe the Yellow Air!!

Allergies.  Hay fever.  Sinuses.  Whatever you call it, it's here.  In full bloom.  Pun intended.  ;)

My backyard chain link fence is covered with Confederate Jasmine so tall you cannot see over it, and so thick you cannot see through it.  It's thick with blooms.  The breeze carries the scent of jasmine into my front yard, and down the driveway to the street. 

The smell is Heavenly.  But unfortunately it's also yellow.. from pollen.  It's covering everything.  The bumble bees are loving it!! :)

When you can't stop sneezing, blowing your nose, and your throat feels like you've spent a whole night, (or day), "throat singing", you know that allergy season is in full swing.  We're swearing off the dairy for the time being, and doing the "organic, locally grown honey", but it only seems to be helping a little.   However I have discovered that Fruit Chillers (frozen) are , yummy, and non-dairy, and feel pretty darn good on a sore throat.   We bought "Polar Raspberry".  :)   Also increasing our intake of green tea, and garlic, (don't make me mad or I'll breathe on ya!) ;)   And I'm planning to purchase some nettle tea also.  I don't know how much good it will do, but am brewing ginger tea now as I type this.  (slices of fresh ginger simmered on the stove at least one hour, a bit of lemon, sweeten to taste)

If anyone has any other natural remedies, I'm all ears! :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Rest in peace, Stephanie... my best friend ever...

I met Stephanie in August of 1992.   She was tired, and looking like she was in a bad mood.   Because she'd not slept much in three days, was not in the mood to be at work, and was having to train a new employee.  Me.

I didn't like her at first.  I thought she looked snobby, and she acted grouchy.  I noticed she was wearing a U2 concert tee shirt.. Achtung Baby, to be exact.  Oh!  A U2 fan?  Well now.  How bad could she be?  She wasn't!  It took us about a week, but we started talking.  Before I knew it, she was a friend.  Not just any friend.  One of the best friends I would ever have in my life.  

Even my family loved Steph.  When she came over for dinner at my parents house, my dad made grilled barbecued chicken leg quarters.  She swore for years it was the best barbecued chicken she'd ever eaten.  And Mom's potato salad was "better than" her own mothers.  That was saying a lot, since her mom was an excellent cook also.

Stephanie and I were sisters in crime.  We shared our most secret stuff with each other.. I told her everything.  Never did I hold anything back from her.  She was awesome.   At times we laughed so hard we had tears streaming down our faces, and couldn't even breathe we were laughing so hard.   When I got pregnant with my first child, and was so scared, she was there for me.  She threw me a baby shower at work, and bought a ton of decorations and brought a huge basket full of beautiful gifts for my baby.  

We'd spend the night in her house, lying side by side in her huge king sized water bed with black crushed velvet top and bottom sheets AND a goose down comforter comforter.. and lay there and watch videos and Tales From the Crypt and we'd laugh and talk until we fell asleep.  

When I had my baby, she was there through the whole thing.  I always joked and said that Stephanie "delivered" Amy.  She didn't really. :)  But she was there, holding my legs as I went through contractions, trying to put chapstick on me..  LOL... and ended up sitting on the tiny couch next to my bed, white as a sheet, clutching my mothers hand as the doctor delivered my baby.  She nearly fainted.  But as Amy came out, my eyes were on Steph, and I watched the joy come into her face as she saw my baby for the first time.  She LOVED my children.  Both of them.   Kept pictures of them on her bedroom wall.  Sent them balloon bouquets from Kuhns for their birthdays.  

Before Stephanie married, she had dinner with my hubby and I in our tiny apartment about once a week.  He would cook us dinner, and we'd sit back and talk and laugh and be silly and let him wait on us like we were Queens.   Funny.  She was there for my wedding.  The birth of my first child.  I was there, 7 months pregnant with my second child at her wedding.  She sat me, my daughter Amy, my parents, AND my sisters at the closest table to the Bride & Groom (and their parents) table.    I still have the video tape of her wedding.

Memories of Steph are so numerous.. I wish I could write them all out and show you all what she was like.  She loved U2 music.  U2 was her very favorite band of all time.  She crushed on Bono as much as I did.  Matter of fact, we saw them together in November 1997.  Sixth row on the ground in front of the stage.  I'll never forget it.   

She loved Starburst candy.  And beef and broccoli from The Golden Egg Roll.   Except she hated the "trees" in it, and would pick them all out.  When I asked her why did she order it if she hated broccoli so bad, she'd smile.. and say it was the sauce on them she loves so much.  She loved Larry's Giant Subs.  She loved my hubby's Chicken Parmesan, and the color combination of shiny black and white.  She wore white all the time.   She had a pearl ring that was a favorite of hers.. and her mother had one just like it.  She loved spiral sliced ham, and ate barbecue sauce on her string beans.  She knew all about flowers, and could name all the exotic ones.  She considered most flowers just "grocery store flowers" and only loved the exotic ones.  She loved the symphony.  She loved pearls.  And she and I called each other "Heifer".  We'd yell it across the parking lot, or say it in front of people and then laugh like crazy.  "Heifer" wasn't an insult.  It was a term of endearment.   Honest!! LOL

Stephanie wore glasses almost her whole life.  She got laser surgery.  It was amazing.. all these years of glasses.. now these big blue eyes, looking at you.  :)   She was funny, snarky, sarcastic, loving, sweet, and never forgot things.  She had beautiful nails she kept very shaped and filed all the time.  And she loved Reebok sneakers.. high tops with the straps.  She loved base ball, and she loved hockey.   And she was beautiful and full of life.   Even though I was blessed with two sisters in our family, Stephanie was like a sister to me.  We shared so much.   

Stephanie struggled with her weight.  She gained, and she gained.  I understood.  I was gaining right along with her.  She had gastric bypass surgery.   And she lost weight.   A LOT of weight.  With weight loss, came body changes.  Some good.. some... she hated.  Health problems developed.  And, after a few years, Stephanie's poor, tired little body couldn't handle it anymore.  She took a nap on her mothers couch..  and passed away peacefully in her sleep.  She was only 36 years old.   My beautiful friend only wanted to be thin..  and it killed her.  She died Friday, November 18, 2005, around 2pm. Exactly 8 days before my birthday, actually.  Her husband came to our house, and told my husband first.  They held my hands, and told me together.  I was in shock... it felt like someone had ripped something out of me.

Funeral... I've never cried so hard in my life.  We went early... so I could talk to her.  Alone.   Her parents and brother.. other friends all came.  My family came..  She was all dressed up in a "little black dress" and her rings on her small hands with her fingernails perfect as they always were.  Her sweet parents ... I just didn't know WHAT I could say to them.  We were all in shock..  I know I talked to them.  I remember hugging them, and her brother.  I remember the faces.  The shock, and the feeling of disbelief ... we were all in the same nightmare together.  Those days.. and for literally a few months.. were a blur.  I couldn't focus.. couldn't think.

I will never be able to put into words the depression I went into for a few months after she died.. and how... even a year later I'd burst into tears if I heard a song she liked.  How I am crying now, writing this.   I will never be able to express the guilt over words unsaid.  Over deeds undone.  I can never begin to explain the anger at God, at her husband, at doctors, and at anyone else I thought should have prevented her from dying.  

Stephanie has been gone for 5 and a half years.   But she came to me in a dream, twice.  The first time she was behind a huge, HUGE, gate.. so tall you couldn't see the top of it.  And she was smiling and laughing, and calling me "Heifer!! " And telling me "I'm FINE!!"   I woke up, and I KNEW I'd seen her.  Best of all... maybe a year later... and her grave STILL without a marker on it..  (don't get me started GRRRR!) but I was horribly upset that she, my beautiful friend was lying in an unmarked grave, and I swear to you all, she came to me in a dream again, even more vivid than before.  I could HEAR her voice, but couldn't see her.. and she told me she knew I was upset, but not to be.  Because she said she was no longer in that body, and she was with Jesus and that it "doesn't matter".  I tried to argue and tell her about the lack of marker.... and she lovingly told me that "I'm okay, and that part is over... it doesn't matter.... because I'm not 'there' anyway."  And that was the end of the dream.  It was so vivid, I woke up and looked around expecting to see her, smell her, anything.  I will swear to this day that Stephanie came to me.  I have even shared with a priest and he agreed with me.   So, I'm not nuts. :)

I think about Stephanie all the time.  I miss her so much, still.  It comforts to me to know she is in Heaven, with loved ones, and with Jesus.  I can't wait to see her again one day.  

Death is nothing at all.
It does not count.
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Everything remains as it was.
The old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Call me by the old familiar name.
Speak of me in the easy way which you always used.
Put no sorrow in your tone.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without  effort
Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was.
There is unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner.
All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before.
How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting,  when we meet again.

Easter, a Season of Changes, and BFF's

I've not blogged in a few days.  Catching up here I guess. :)   Hope everyone had a happy and blessed Easter.  We sure did!   Hubby even went with us to mass, which was a tremendous blessing and an answer to our prayers!   We attended an earlier mass..  I have mixed feelings about it.  As a whole, I 
preferred this mass... it seemed there were more traditionally minded people in this mass, but... I have to say we know more faces at our regular mass, and many of those faces are very beloved!

The "Easter bunny" did visit my girls this year, and brought them pillow pets and candy.   They were pleased, of course. :)   Last week we got them dresses, and I personally was thankful for those great Easter sales! :)

After Easter Sunday mass,  (and photo taking in the courtyard of our church as you can see above!), we went to my next-younger sister's house, (I'm the eldest of 3 girls), and our parents and grandmother, as well as my sisters inlaws.  It was a nice afternoon.  We laughed, talked, ate too much, played "pass-the'baby" with my gorgeous 7 month old niece, the other kids got to swim.   Later that day, our youngest sister finally came, and then only stayed just a little while before leaving.  Last thing, my Robyn and niece Lauren got to hunt eggs.  We are blessed!!  Oh, and here's Rebecca that we played "pass the baby" with. :)  She's a darling!!

So this week of new changes starts my husband working evenings instead of overnights.   On a plus side, he will be home with us at night now.  And no more confusion about when he does or does not work. (I admit that rotating days working is confusing for me sometimes!) That being said, with this new schedule comes changes for our whole family.  Our days as a one-car family are nearly over.  We now are in definite need of a second vehicle.  I cringe at the expense, but I have faith that God will provide.   Just like I know in my heart that He in His mercy will get us through with other things... such as the fact that our lawn mower is in the shop, (the yard is horrible), and that's *after* spending $250 to try and fix it ourselves.... and still it won't run... and nagging at me is the certain family member(s) that is/are so completely selfish... and I've got to say that keeping silent about it is not the easiest thing in the world to do.   How I'd like to have myself a "little chat" with this person(s)...  But it won't help. *sighs*  But I digress...  once again, I need to just give this all to God.

As for MY family here in THIS house, *smiles* We are a family who firmly believes in sitting down together as a family at evening supper.  And we've always done that every day my hubby is off work.  However, since this new schedule change started today, we agreed to also make a change ... to be able to keep our family-time meals..  we have made "lunch" our "official" family meal to be together since he is leaving and working late now.   So today I made something a little special to get us started off on a tasty note. :)    Organic baby spinach topped with bulgar wheat (tabbouleh), fresh sauteed leeks, garlic, and zucchini, and a few homemade meat balls and drizzled with a simple balsamic vinegarette dressing. (Jamie Oliver style)  It was a big hit. :) 

Umm.. just some thinking out loud here.... (okay, venting)  Sometimes I wish things were different.  Judgmental people hurt my feelings, and gosh it seems like there is an awful lot of them out there any more.  We do have a few good friends who love us, (warts and all), and thank goodness, THESE friends don't try and point out my flaws (and my sins), on a regular basis.   As for the ones who DO insist on correcting me constantly, I just want to say to them, "can't you JUST be my friend?!   I'm NOT perfect..  and I don't want "perfect" friends.  I don't want you to "lead" me, or "follow" me.  Just walk beside me and be my friend."    Hubby tells me that I only need worry myself about the ones that live here in our family home.. but for me, it's hard to think that way.   

BFF's ~ I had (notice the HAD) two best friends.  Stephanie died November of 2005.  God I miss her. I will blog sometime about Steph... she deserves her own blog entry.  So I can share about how wonderful she was.  And how much I still love her.   The other "best friend" (looking back) never was truly a "best friend" at all.   Hindsight is 20/20.

Now...the "other friend"..(not Steph), I can sum up pretty fast.  I let her "lead" the friendship.  She was 8 years older than me, and we became friends when I was only 19.  She was already married with a son.  I got into things.. unhealthy behaviors... with her.   I thought it was "fun" and "exciting".. and yes, I could say she was the one who got me "into" things, ... but *I* am the one who did it, allowed it, so it's just as much my fault.  However, as I got older, got married, and had children, I started seeing more and more how she was.  How she had this inane idea that my husband somehow had "interest" in her, but (trust me, NO HE DIDN'T), but she used this tactic so she wouldn't have to spend her gas driving over.  I had to always come to her.  When I started homeschooling my kids, she didn't like it.  She still wanted me to come over, but my kids were not welcome at her house.  She said to me angrily that she couldn't figure out why I couldn't just leave them at home alone to do their schoolwork.  

As I grew in my Catholic faith, she grew in her paganism.  She ordered items LITERALLY from a coven of witches, (I am NOT kidding!) and God help me, had them shipped to MY home so her husband wouldn't see it.  I was upset, and she found that funny. (she felt I was being silly) She refused to come get her item, and as usual I had to take it to her (still in the package.. I refused to touch it).  I promise you all... she walked into her back yard and waved her hand over it and said some sort of incantation over it that THANK YOU JESUS I couldn't hear.  I was shocked, and more than a little freaked out.  That was the beginning of the end for our "friendship".  My "closed-minded" faith was offensive to her, and it ended with her chewing me out in an email, and ending it with "you're not allowed to reply".   Not allowed?  Sort of like calling someone up, chewing them out, and then hanging up before they can say one syllable.  Real mature.  Anyhoodles.   That was a year and a half ago.  She mentioned a while back to a mutual friend that she was "surprised" that I had never "called and apologized" to her.  Huh????

I know "to everything there is a season".  Methinks it's safe to say that the "season" of that friendship has ended.  And I know maybe there were times I could have been a better friend and maybe did something different that maybe would have made a difference.  I think about her a lot still.. after all, we were friends a long time... and I have even dreamed about her twice.  I do still pray for her.   She NEEDS prayer.  She's on a bad path, completely away from God, and she doesn't even see it.   In the past, I'd attempted talking to her about God.. she wasn't interested.. and I hate to say it.. but she smirked when I'd try and talk to her or invite her to things.  Like it was a joke to her.  Even today.. after all this time.. I am still frightened for her.   I did block her on facebook... simply because it was too painful to see her there.  And I have and do pray for her... and have asked others to pray too.  I don't know what it's going to take... and its' not even so much I want to rekindle our friendship.. I just want her to turn from the paganism and turn to Jesus.   She needs Him, and she doesn't even realize it.   What do you say to a person who is lost in a deep dark black storm and on a doomed path... but they're so "enjoying' the storm they don't even see they're heading for destruction.   Jesus is the only one who can save her.  I ask now, you, my friends, to please pray for her.  

Tonight I think I'm going to start reading Holiness For Housewives.  Honestly, I need all the help I can get.   I am better with organization than I used to be.. and well...  I know we are all called to be saints.  But as you all can see in my above rant, I am not without my own issues and I admit I too have a looooong way to go.   Here, at home, our Domestic Church, and knowing that this is my vocation.. as a wife and mother.  I need to let things go and give them to God.  I am hoping I will learn a lot in this book.  Again, I say, I need all the help I can get!    God bless you all!  And have a beautiful Easter season!!   +JMJ+


 "A mother is the most important person on earth. She cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral. She need not. She has built something more magnificent than any Cathedral -- a dwelling for an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby's body." -- Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty

Monday, April 18, 2011

More on the intro........

**I am a Convert to the Catholic faith. I was baptized Catholic as a newborn but not raised as one.  I converted as an adult.  Both my children are Catholic.   Myself and my oldest did not get Confirmation names.  :(  I am going to make sure my youngest does get one.   Interestingly enough, the parish where I was baptized as a newborn was the same parish I went to for RCIA and was Confirmed in.

**I am addicted to tea.  I drank good old Southern Sweet Tea most of my life.. I try not to drink that now, but I do still drink a lot of herbal teas.. and some for medicinal purposes.    I believe that a lot of physical problems can be healed naturally.

**I wish I could travel, and visit new places.  Maybe one day.   I've never flown on a plane, traveled on a train, or had a passport.  The only trips/vacations I've had, I got there by car.  When I was a kid, we camped almost every year in the Smoky Mountains.  Those were the best vacations!!

**I am the eldest of three girls.  No brothers. :)  My granny had only girls.  I only have girls.  My aunt only has girls.  My sister has two girls, and a boy!!  Haha we finally got one! :)

**I have special places in my heart for babies, the elderly, little kids and animals.  I sometimes cry over a sad television show, movies, or... even really touching commercials.  Yes I am a wimp.

**I have never ice skated, roller bladed, or built a snowman in my life.  But I've swam in the ocean, went to Girl Scout Camp, cooked over a campfire, gathered eggs, walked over a fallen log to cross a creek, fed a bottle of milk to a baby goat, went fishing, been in a cemetery at night, and I've waded in the grassy part of the river to catch grass shrimp and poly wogs.  :)

**I am terrified of snakes, rats, big lizards, monkeys, spiders, big bugs, dobermans, (big dogs in general), and pitt bulls.  I used to not be afraid of so many things!  I'm afraid I've gotten worse as I've gotten older.

**I went to Washington DC, and saw the White House when I was a teenager.  And I climbed the steps to the Lincoln Memorial.  I would dearly love to take my kids to see those things.   I remember standing on Pennsylvania Avenue and looking through the fence at the White House.   You can't do that anymore.

**I used to bite my nails as a kid.  I made myself stop when I was about 14.  BECAUSE I had discovered boys.  LOL  Vanity had kicked in I guess. LOL

**I am allergic to flowering plants.  But I love them!!   My entire backyard fence is covered in Confederate Jasmine.  It's beautiful!

**I am mildly claustrophobic.  Thus, I am not very fond of elevators.

**I am paranoid about fire.  I actually have seven smoke alarms in my house, and I keep fresh batteries in them.  Having them go off when you make toast is not uncommon at all.  

**I spent part of my adolescent/teen years riding horses and wading in the creek and through the woods near an, (unbeknown to me at the time), old Civil War Camp.  We had pigs, chickens, rabbits, and a pet goat.

**I have never learned to drive a stick shift.

**Two of my favorite cities are St. Augustine, Florida and Savannah, Georgia.

**My favorite colors are pink, green, & cream.

**I absolutely HATE wearing high heeled shoes.  They hurt to wear, and I look and feel awkward in them.

**I wear my emerald ring on my right hand... and a Claddagh on my left.

You Must Be Homeschooled If...

I have been relaxed homeschooling/unschooling my children for two and a half years now.  I remember how so many people thought I was NUTS, (some still do but I've learned to overlook them), and all the Homeschooling  and Unschooling links and pages and blogs I looked up.   
I needed, with every ounce of my being, to reach out, and have hands of other moms like me reaching back.  Because we did NOT choose the "secular" route, things have been harder still.  But we're here.. Catholics who homeschool // unschool.   Sometimes it seems like there aren't too many of us, but we're here, and we're growing! :)

I consider us "relaxed" homeschoolers a little more than I do "unschoolers".   No, I don't have a designated classroom in my home for my kids.  And yes, we use workbooks, (Seton curriculum) and Math-U-See for math.. and of course we also use lots of other books too... but we also learn through play and through doing things and living life!   Going to church, the zoo, the museum, the park, shows, playing, making crafts, singing, swimming, star gazing, and do all we can to make the world our classroom. 

As I was finding my feet as a newly homeschooling mother, I collected bits and pieces of things I'd found, and put them together in a file in an old email account.  I just found them!  
Now, I cannot give credit to whomever wrote them, I can only say that I *didn't* write them, but I agree with them 100%!!   And a few things I've *tweaked* to fit our own family.

Oh, and I *do* have my *own* quote. :)  

"My one regret about homeschooling my children, is that I didn't do it from the very beginning." ~ Me

"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge
the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches." ~Proverbs 24:3-4

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. ~ Mark Twain

* * *

You Must Be unschooled If...
Someone asks what grade you're in and you're not sure. You sleep till 9:00 am during the week, but get up early on Sundays. Your birthday is an official holiday. Your favorite activity is reading. You exchange e-mail Valentines with your homeschool pen pals. You go to the park for P.E. (my kids do that and also go to Karate) You check out at least ten books every time you visit the library. You get books and science kits for your birthday. Your home library is arranged in order. Your favorite place to read is outside, under a tree. The only bully you ever run into is your big sister. You don't have to remember a locker combination, just your computer password. Your school bus is the family car.

You Must Be a Home Educator If...
You know what manipulatives are. You have mold growing in your fridge…on purpose. Your preschooler can name all the planets. You've mastered the fine art of vacuuming a floor without sucking up a Lego. You know the recipes for homemade versions of Play-doh, finger paint, and paste. Your house is messy, but your kids are happy. You buy books and science kits for birthday presents. All you want for Christmas is a Barnes & Noble gift certificate. You'd rather buy books than clothes. You turn a trip to the grocery store into a learning experience. You have a standard one-minute speech to give to store clerks, mother-in-laws, and school officials about why you homeschool. You are sick and tired of answering the question, "But what about socialization?" Talking out loud to yourself is the same as having a parent/teacher conference. When you see a parking lot full of mini vans, you wonder if there's a homeschooling conference. You take your family vacation in September, when the beaches and theme parks are empty. You take a suitcase full of books along on your family vacation. Your kitchen doubles as a science lab. You are on a first name basis with your local librarian and bookstore owner. The UPS driver delivers a box of books to your doorstep once a month. You know the scientific names of dinosaurs from A to Z. You're willing to drop what you're doing at a moment's notice to go look something up in a dictionary or encyclopedia. You don't get fired for teaching your students about God.Some days you learn as much as your students. The more your kids learn, the less you seem to know.
* * *
Q: How does a homeschooler change a light bulb? 
A: First, mom checks three books on electricity out of the library, then the kids make models of light bulbs, read a biography of Thomas Edison and do a skit based on his life. Next, everyone studies the history of lighting methods, wrapping up with dipping their own candles. Next, everyone takes a trip to the store where they compare types of light bulbs as well as prices and figure out how much change they'll get if they buy two bulbs for $1.99 and pay with a five dollar bill. On the way home, a discussion develops over the history of money and also Abraham Lincoln, as his picture is on the five dollar bill. Finally, after building a homemade ladder out of branches dragged from the woods, the light bulb is installed. And there is light. ~Author Unknown
* * *
"Lord, grant me patience, but hurry."
(saying seen on a plaque)
* * *
Why Public Schooling Is "Better" Than Homeschooling
Most parents were educated in the underfunded public school system, and so are not smart enough to homeschool their own children. Children who receive one-on-one homeschooling will learn more than others, giving them an unfair advantage in the marketplace. This is undemocratic. How can children learn to defend themselves unless they have to fight off bullies on a daily basis? Ridicule from other children is important to the socialization process. Children in public schools can get more practice "Just Saying No" to drugs, cigarettes and alcohol. Fluorescent lighting may have significant health benefits. Publicly asking permission to go to the bathroom teaches young people their place in society. The fashion industry depends upon the peer pressure that only public schools can generate. Public schools foster cultural literacy, passing on important traditions like the singing of "Jingle Bells, Batman smells, Robin laid an egg..." Homeschooled children may not learn important office career skills, like how to sit still for six hours straight. ~Author Unknown
* * *

Top 10 Things NOT to say when asked "What?! No school today?"
10. Well normally yes, but this time of year I need help with the planting and plowing.
9. Goodness, no!!! I graduated 18 years ago, but thanks for the compliment!
8. No, we homeschool. We're just out to pick up a bag of pork rinds and some Mountain Dew, then we gotta hurry home to catch our soaps.
7. What?! Where did you guys come from?! Oh my gosh! I thought I told you kids to stay at school! I'm sorry. This happens all the time. (sigh)
6. There isn't? Why, you'd think we would have seen more kids out then, don't you?
5. We're on a field trip studying human nature's intrusive and assumptive tactics of displaying ignorance and implied superiority. Thanks for the peek!
4. On our planet we have different methods of education. (Shhh! No, I didn't give it away... keep your antennae down!)
3. Oh my goodness! I thought that today was Saturday...come on kids, hurry!
2. Noooooope.Me 'n Bubba jes' learns 'em at home. Werks reel good!
And the number one answer we should NEVER give to the question: "What? No school today?"
1. "What? No Bingo today?"
* * *
A Homeschool Mom's NON-Resolutions
I resolve to NOT try and make my children "perfect" examples.
I resolve to NOT try and prove that I am a "perfect" parent.
I resolve to NOT try and compare myself to every other homeschooling parent.
I resolve to NOT give up on expecting the best from myself!)


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Made in the Image of God

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God? You are not your own"Paul said this to the Corinthians (1 Cor 6:19)  Sin against the body is also "profanation of the temple", the apostle also said.

Okay.  Gotcha.  We are all made in the Image of God, (we know that), and the Holy Spirit dwells within us.  Well, I don't know about y'all, but I've been "trashin'" the "Temple" for most of my life.   At the risk of sounding completely whiny, I have done too much damage, for far too long.  And now, I am paying the price.  Too late, I am trying to throw gears in reverse, and back up.   Some things I know I can reverse.  Some things, are  unfortunately (I am adamantly certain), gone forever.  This is one of those days where I am physically "not my best", and I'm mad at myself because it's my own fault.  Healing takes time.  And just because I'm not getting instantaneous results from my efforts, I know I have to keep doing what I'm doing, and things can't help but improve, at least to a degree.  (hoping for a high number on that "degree"!) 

It's sort of like when "Old Smut Face" (the devil) won't leave you alone, (does he ever?!), and you're being too hard-headed to get thine-self to Confession.  And then you WONDER why everything is wrong!   Gotta get that sin out.  Penance, pray, and give yourself a good spiritual "shower" to wash all that "bad" away.   

Why do we hide from God sometimes?  Human nature I guess.  We as humans hide ourselves when we are embarrassed, ashamed, or afraid.  Sometimes we hide to avoid a threat, or  things that are inconvenient.  Or hide when someone comes by that we'd rather avoid.. (which isn't nice, but I think a lot of us do that.)  I have done it, and I'm not proud of it.    Hiding.  Ha.  When I was a teenager, I'd run to the bathroom after dinner to try and get out of doing dishes.  If I made a bad grade, you'd better believe I did my very best to avoid my parents.  Even though I deserved punishment, I did not want to face them.  At. All.

Thus, we do the same thing with God.  Adam and Eve "hid" themselves because they were ashamed.  The cool thing though, is that Jesus still finds ways to reveal Himself and His Mercy to us, even when we are "hiding"!  The Blessed Mother tends to get your attention a lot too... she wants you to come to her Son!  And think about it.. He never hides from us... even when we are hiding from our own need of repentance.    Time to come out of hiding.  From ourselves, and from God.  And hey.. only a week of Lent is left!  Now more than ever, it's a great time to STOP hiding ourselves from the healing love of His Mercy.

We are wonderfully made in His Image.  We need to receive His Divine Mercy and let it flow through us to others.  

Friday, April 15, 2011

Farmers Market, TVP & Meatless Friday

So it's another meatless Friday in Lent.  We don't eat meat on Fridays anyway, but we like to be "extra good" during Lenten Fridays.  

Some time back, whilst visiting my favorite "hippie store", (Whole Foods), I picked up a bag of TVP.  Textured Vegetable Protein.  My.  Doesn't that just sound just... flavorless.  LOL  But, I've been pleasantly surprised before, and was determined to try it "sometime".  Hubby gave me the "eww what the heck is that?" face, and so I tried to look confident as I placed it in our shopping buggy.  

Two days ago, we were discussing what Friday's dinner would be, since I have vowed not to touch tuna fish again for a VERY long time.  (buying that ginormous can from Sams Club may be economical, but it takes DAYS to eat it.. if I ever see another tuna anything, it will be too soon!)  Anyway, I cheerfully announced I was making vegetarian spaghetti.  Hubby looked at me with horror and disgust.  "Like, with tofu or something?"  (The man hates tofu with a purple passion).  "No, Dear.  TVP."  And then ended up explaining what TVP is, which I can tell you did not help my cause.  He only looked more horrified than before.  But bravely, he consented to trying it.  

So today we head out to the Farmers Market.  Happily we go from booth to booth, admiring and mouths watering.   (going to the Farmer's Market on an empty stomach and you want to buy everything you see!)  At last we make our selections, and, to add to hubby's horror, I've bought an eggplant and zucchini to add to the sauce.. but is pleased I bought a huge basket of mushrooms... his favorite.  We head home, (trying not to eat the fruit), so I can get started on "The Sauce" with fresh veggies, and to figure out how to make that intimidating bag of TVP.  

TVP is an interesting thing to google.  I got conflicting advice on different sites.  I finally found a site that had pretty decent sounding recipe, and I went with it.   So we're in teen daughter in the kitchen with me, helping, and we are peeling and slicing and cubing.  Emailing with two friends who are both WAY smarter about meatless cooking than I am, and I am trying to figure out how to turn TVP into meatballs.  I rehydrated it, added sauteed onion, garlic, herbs, and though it tasted lovely, it was too soft to make into meatballs.  Too much liquid.  Stupid recipe measurements!  Grrr!  (Yes, I was careful when I measured, too!)  Annoyed, I flattened it on a cookie sheet and baked it.  Twenty minutes later, it ended up like soft crumbly cookies.. or ermm.. hamburger meat.  But I found out something....(after nibbling some)...  TVP actually stands for Tastes Very Pleasant!  It is delicious, addictive, and the kids and I kept eating it while I finished making our sauce.  

Our sauce ended up being onion, garlic, crushed tomatoes, a good sized basket of carefully washed mushrooms, a peeled and cubed eggplant, and a single sliced zucchini (out of compassion for my zucchini-fearing hubby).  LOL  Spices, blessed salt & pepper, and YUMMMM!!   Honestly, I could eat just the sauce and the TVP.  I am seriously going to look and see if they have it in bulk at Whole Foods.  Oh, and hubby?  Even he was amazed at how yummy it is.  I love finding a "family pleaser"! :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Hippie Store

Today was shopping day.  So hubby and I, with kids in tow, went and did our errand running.

One of our stops, (and my very, very favorite stop), was at the Whole Foods market.  I looooove that place.  I went for one thing.  Oatmeal.   Not just any oatmeal... steel cut oat groats.  :)  Yes.. it's worth the trip.  Nutty and chewy, they're the best oats you'll ever eat.

Growing up eating packets of sugary instant oatmeal, and finding it delicious... Hahaha... I can only attribute that to a child's (mine) innocence, undeveloped tastes, and lack of knowing what decent oatmeal actually tastes like.  My kids fortunately are not suffering the same fate. 

Since I was around the age of twenty, and having, (at that time), eclectic friends who thought "outside the box", helped me to expand my horizons.   I learned about how other people lived, vegetarianism, being gentler to the Earth, and... foods and grains I'd before thought were only for animals.  I purchased "Diet For A Small Planet", among other books and cookbooks.  I read, I learned, and I listened.  I rented a studio apartment and walked to the organic produce store, and brought home my veggies in an Earth bag long before it was fashionable.  Truth be told, those old "Earth bags" are far sturdier and durable than these silly flimsy things the grocery stores sell for a buck apiece.  The "original" Earth bags are heavy, thick, and have been washed and dried a million times.  And 20-something years later, they're still the best green bags I've got.   Problem is, you can't find them anywhere anymore.  But I digress.

The things I learned made sense to me.  God's world was/is not for us to trash.   This isn't exactly where my "friends" were going with this, but it sure made sense to me.  

Walking into one of the smaller local health food stores, ("hippie stores" is what I fondly call them), I find not quite as overwhelming and foreign as I used to when I started out twenty-something years ago.  I do tire of the looks I (still) sometimes get though.. as I am not rail thin.. far from it actually.   I feel extremely out of place, like the owners and other patrons secretly think that someone like me should be off shoveling pastries into my face at a bakery somewhere... (yes I know I am mental)... thus I am very appreciative when I get someone who's nice, and knowledgeable, and kindly helps me find what I am looking for that particular day.  Better still if they are friendly and chatty.   That always makes my day. :)

At Whole Foods, however, I don't get that weird, "out of place" feeling I usually get at smaller places.  AND I can buy lovely organic grains in bulk.   This store is across town from me, but YES, it is worth it to me to drive all that way for the oatmeal.  Steel cut oat groats.  My favorite "hippie" breakfast.  Even my meat & potatoes hubby and kids devour bowls of it.   It's "da bomb"!!   I've looked online, but really and truly by the time you pay shipping, you come out cheaper buying in bulk at Whole Foods.  

Okay, now I know I'm a dork, but today I also got some locally grown raw and unfiltered honey.. to help with allergies.  I've been on a Stevia kick, (trying yet again to shed some pounds), so I had to go check that out too.  Afterwards, my family and I enjoyed checking out the herbal tea isle.  The children and I are the only ones who drink it, but even my husband has noticed that I have significantly less stomach trouble since I've started brewing myself ginger tea every day, (or peppermint).   Herbal tea rocks!!

I guess after all those years of being mercilessly teased, (sometimes lovingly, and sometimes not, depending on who it is), by everyone I know, I was more than a little shocked, when, on the way home, hubby suddenly suggests that he feels we should reduce our gluten.  


I was so surprised to hear that come out of his mouth!!  (combination of happiness and sheer amusement)   

Naturally, he'd say this right after I just bought a few bags of white flour. Haha.

Wow.  A united front in our family to move towards eating/being healthier, and closer to the Earth.  Something I've wanted a long time... and only "halfway" did myself, but *this* will be all of us.. not just me trying to quietly teach my kids.  Now mind you, I know that this is "big talk" when they're not craving goodies.  So now's the time to plan.   And funniest of all, I converted them with oat groats.  I wish I'd bought it years ago!  

To my knowledge, no one here has any gluten allergies.  But having read the list of possible reactions..  well, maybe gluten affects more than I'd thought.    It's definitely worth trying.   We are all willing to start passing on those processed things..   and replacing them with "good" things.   Change won't be easy.  Rome wasn't built in a day. But I am excited that we are going to start on a journey together of being healthier.  Together.  And this time it's not just about calories or carbs.   It's about 'quality' and nutrition instead of how many calories in an Oreo!   (how inane is that?!)  I am happy for us.  Healthy = GOOD!

 Cup of herbal tea, anyone?  :)


Monday, April 11, 2011

Get thee behind me...

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world seeking the ruin of souls. 

Lately, it seems, "Ol' Smut face" , (the devil),  has been on the move more than usual.  Ever feel like you're getting it from all sides?  Yes, of course you have.  We *all* have.   I am tellin' ya'll.  I have about had my fill of it.   Rudeness, snideness, back-stabbing, lies, deceit, and people who are "finger-pointing-fault-finders" seem to be at an all time high.  And then of course there are just contrary people who'd pick a fight with the Easter Bunny... just for the sake of argument.  

I need to go to confession.  I didn't go this past weekend as I'd planned.  I NEED to go this week, as soon as possible.  Is anger a sin?  I think it is.  Well, wait a second, Jesus was angry once, right?  And He had NO sin whatsoever!  If memory serves me, (and it may not), He flipped those tables in the temple because they were money changers, (I think is how it went).  Okay well, maybe it's the "WHY" part of being angry..   but I am.  I REALLY am.

I had a wonderful priest once ask me if I had a crucifix.  "Yes Father!"  He told me to cut a little piece of string.. and "that" string would represent my problem(s)... and to hang it on that crucifix, and say, "Lord, I am giving this to You.." and let Him handle it.   Wise words.  Very, very wise. 

I try and look at Jesus... the picture of the Divine Mercy..  HIS arms aren't crossed in judgment.. His arms are opened in love.   Sometimes, that's all I can focus on.  Sometimes, that's the only thing that keeps my chin up, and any hope left in me.   Jesus in His Infinite Mercy.  

It's almost Holy Week.  As a unschooler/relaxed homeschooler, we take off TWO weeks... one for "Spring Break" and the other for "Holy Week"..    I'm looking forward to Holy Week.   It's a healing time for a Catholic, (well, this Catholic anyway)..  I love the reflection, the meditation...  His Passion.

Time to put the negativity away.  Thicken up the walls of my "Catholic Bubble", (gotta keep Ol' Smut Face out!) and put my focus on God, where it belongs.  Our spiritual journey isn't always an easy one, but it's the most rewarding life journey of them all.