Thursday, January 26, 2012

What I'm thinking about today

Took a hike with a friend today (5 miles of horrific hills but that is beside the point) and between huffing and puffing we had a conversation about finding purpose in life.  Not religious "what on earth am I here for" kind of purpose but rather "now that my kids are in school full time and don't depend on me 23 hours a day anymore" kind of purpose.

I've already picked my major in college.  I already had a "career".  But I spent the last 8 years of my life supporting two little munchkins who needed my undivided attention.  Now, they shun my undivided attention which I thought would be a great thing but is, I have to admit, a little bit sad but has opened up a little window of time in my life that I would like to fill doing something more fulfilling than vacuuming. 

Dream job - I would like to Blog.  Blog, write books, public speak - have more followers than Ashton Kutcher.  Be faithful to my peeps and provide information that people can't live without.

But will I be good enough?  Will I find my voice? Will they like me - really like me? 

The quote I wrote about in my college application essay ( I can't believe I remember this) is by Shedd - " A ship in a harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for".  So - off to sea for me.  Off to sea.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

how to subscribe 101

What I have learned so far about blogging:

It's easier to do an instructional blog than a writing blog.  How-to's are less revealing than heartfelt.

I think of a million things during the day to blog about and by nighttime I have forgotten the all.

I may be overdoing my "research" - I have more blogs to read now than I have time to read.

Do you know how to subscribe to a blog?  It's easy - just his the RSS button and you can subscribe via a reader - like Google reader - where all your blogs are stored in one easy place.  I prefer to subscribe to a blog and received it in my email box.  Most blogs have a subscribe by email button or you can access that option under the RSS feed button.

You can also follow on twitter or facebook - but then you have to click the link to access the blog and my rules of organization would say that is not "efficient". 

Now that you know how, how bout subscribing to me?


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

You can take the girl out of the south.....

 I was raised in the south - South Carolina to be exact.  32 years of my life were spent in South Carolina, North Carolina or Georgia.  I'm almost 44 now so I am calculating that after ten years in good ole Southern California I am only 1//4 Californian.

Things I miss from the south: 
Waffle House 
Cheese eggs, Raisin Toast with APPLE BUTTER and grits.  Yes sir-ee Bob.

Mainstream Prayer
I recently traveled to a small town on the coast of North Carolina where I stayed at a small hotel that served breakfast.  As I sat down to eat my biscuits with butter and jelly I looked around the room and noticed that four of the five other people sitting down had their heads bowed for grace.   That just doesn't happen in California - much to my chagrin.

Distant cousins
I can't say that in my ten+ years in California I have ever had anyone introduce to me their "third-cousin-once-removed".  Heck,  no one out here even seems to understand the once-removed part.  Don't they have family trees in California?   In the south, we know who our cousins are.  If for nothing else,  so we can be sure we don't marry 'em.

My grandmother used "neighbor" as a verb.  We're going to go neighboring she would say.  This usually entailed taking some home cooked jam or sweets and visiting.  The visiting part was pretty painful as it typically took place in the living room and involved a lot of sitting on uncomfortable couches and trying not to look bored.    Unfailingly there were a lot of old family pictures sitting around I could stare at and a Bible in the room.  A worn, well-read and visible Bible just sitting on the end-table where everyone could see. 

Covered Dish Suppers 
This falls under the category of "don't knock it until you have tried it".  Once a year I return to a homecoming service at my ancestors church and enjoy a true Southern covered dish supper.  Fried Chicken, deviled eggs, casseroles of every variety known to man, and more desserts that you could ever imagine.    Yes, I miss them but my thighs sure are happy to be in the land of organic wheat grass smoothies. 

So, you can take the girl out of the south - but you can't take the south out of the girl.  At least, I hope not. 

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Am I raising my kids for service - or to be served?

My father has been helping support an orphanage in rural Mexico for over ten years.  He has taken over 50 mission trips with various mission teams to the area, but due to having to care for my own young children, I have never been able to travel with him.  This past December I joined a group of other missioners on a 6 day trip to visit Casa Hogar La Familia outside the very small town of Quecholac in the State of Puebla about three hours east of Mexico City.  What I experienced there left me thinking deeply about how I was raising my own kids and if what American culture teaches is really superior for our next generation.

If I focus all the time on being MY best - then how can Jesus be seen?                                                As a mother of two girls ages 6 and 8, I often feel stretched beyond my limits managing the chores and responsibilities of my household.  In observing the married directors at the orphanage manage their family of 30 children I realized that God can expand the capacity to love and serve beyond what anyone can expect.  If I rely more on God and less on myself, perhaps I can do a better job for my family in showing love and being the Christian example my children need.

Our culture of excess is harming our kids
 I am not a mother who buys a lot for my children.  I don't give into every request and "I want" at the grocery store or elsewhere.  Even so, the items that our kids collect from birthday parties, happy meals, school treasure boxes, dollar check out bins, and souveniers from Daddy's last trip add up.  Prior to leaving on my trip I went though the closets in our house and was able to make 30 bags of silly bands, little stuffed animals, costume jewelry and candy that my kids, frankly, have never even noticed were gone.  The children of La Familia were grateful for each and every item they received.  They played with the items throughout the week I was there and made me realize that having less helps you to appreciate what you do have. 
I am depriving my children of the opportunity to have pride in themselves and their things. 
If you pull out an iphone at the orphanage, be prepared for a crowd.  The kids love to see pictures of your children and to get a glimpse of your life in America.  While flipping through my camera roll of pictures I was embarrassed at the excess in which I live compared to them. I was particularly embarrassed at the realization of my kids taking for granted their quality of life and the lack of appreciation for their things that come from that.   Their spaces are little but their respect for what they have is great.
Redefining Happiness 
What makes these kids happy is not a trip to McDonalds for an ice cream cone that takes ten minutes to eat.  Each kid in the home is assigned to one of three work groups each day:  Dishes, Clean-up or laundry.  Each child knows their responsibility and does it without asking.  They are not supervised nor is their work evaluated.  It just gets done.  They are happy because they contribute to their family.  They help make things work every day.  That sort of pride can't be found in a happy meal.

Manners are essential 
Meet Christopher. He is four and he loves chocolate cake.  Christopher got his sandwich and mexico style Funions and all he had to do was finish his plate and he would get a piece of chocolate cake.  But Christopher didn't take a bite of his sandwich.  Why, you ask?  Because everyone else in the house hadn't been served yet.  Christopher waited for 40 people to be served their lunch, waited (patiently, I might add) for Juan Francisco's beautiful blessing, AND waited for every single person at his table to complete their meal before he got up to get his chocolate cake.  Did I mention he was four?  Puts my girls to shame.
Boldly Proclaim "I am a Christian"
My Dad describes the directors of this home as "shining lights of Jesus Christ".  Never has a more true statement been uttered.  I know this because their 30 children reflect what they see.  They pray without hesitation, speak of Jesus with ease, draw the crucifixion with pride and they laid hands on the volunteers in prayer with earnest desire for us to receive their  blessing.  I believe that, despite a lack of material things, these children are better off than mine in so many ways.   

Am I raising my kids for service or to be served? 
Most volunteers at La Familia are recent high school or college graduates who have grown up in the local church network that supports the orphanage.  These girls dedicate a year of their life to service at La Familia - service to God.  I pray that I am raising my kids to be that selfless and willing to serve the Lord.  Maybe if I return to this wonderful place, twenty minutes from any city in rural Mexico, I might learn enough to return to my home and teach those things that have been taught to me.


For more information about La Familia, visit

Friday, January 13, 2012

How I miss Ma and Pa

I'll offer ten bucks to anyone who can name a character on television today remotely like that of Charles Ingalls in Little House on the Prairie.  Hard working, humble, loyal to his wife, a good father, religious, a pillar in the community, family oriented, cries occasionally and, yes, ruggedly handsome.

I have 18 episodes of Little House on the Prairie on my DVR.  I recorded these in desperation to find something of value my daughter would have to watch on TV.  You see, at almost 8 years old, she is getting a little old for animated shows on noggin and I won't let her watch iCarly.  Thankfully, she has taken an interest in the adventures of Laura, Mary, Carrie, Ma and Pa.

Today we watched the episode "The Lord is My Shepherd".
I have to admit that watching this one gets me EVERY TIME.  Laura runs away from home thinking that her bad thoughts about her little brother caused God to take him.  She climbs to the highest spot she can find and prays to God (on multiple occasions, no less) to take her and send back her little brother to her Pa.  While on this mountain, a mystical mountain man takes care of her and talks to her about her faith and of God. 

So, in essence, this entire episode, 40 minutes of 1974 prime time television was about a little girl's faith and philosophy about God.  She is comforted, redirected, and reunited with her earthly father in a tearful reunion.  She is shepherded on her journey and Charles is shepherded on his journey to be reunited with her.  She prays and discovers that God's answers aren't always what you think they should be. That God knows what God wants - and we are not always in the loop.

Can you imagine that in today's prime time offering of Modern Family, Gossip Girl and Revenge?  I do believe that Michael Landon is turning over in his grave.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Crayon Hearts for Valentine's Day

In my house, we think ahead.  In the summer, I do my Christmas crafts and over Christmas break we do our Valentine's project for school.  Nothing makes me more miserable than waiting to the last minute and scrambling for something to share.

This year we made crayon hearts - because they are easy, they fun and the kids can actually do them. 

First, start with some of the millions of leftover, broken or slightly unsharp (which makes them unusable for my kids) crayons.  Put them in a bowl of cold water overnight.

After soaking they should look like this:

And your kids should immediately start to do this:
After which you will have this:

See what I meant about easy?  Now comes the hard part.  Ask you kids to break up the crayons into smaller pieces and see how quickly they say "oh, we can break things?  Awesome".  Put the colors of crayons you desire into various silicone molds and cook in the oven at 250 degrees for about 20 minutes.  At the end you will have liquidy (very scientific word) stuff in the molds that you can take out of the oven to harden.
I like to take a toothpick and swirl the melted crayons around and make sure they colors are well mixed. 

Before Christmas we made snowflakes and finished them off with glue and glitter.

Carefully peel them out of the mold when they are completely dry and you get cute little treasures.

And you can finish them off by putting them in a silicone bag with instructions that, I admit, looked better before I stored them outside with my valentine's decorations for a year. 
Easy, cute, virtually free valentine's gifts for your kids!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Mothering must have been easier for my Mother

There are things I wish, for the sake of my children - ok, and for me, were still the same as when I was a kid.  Things that frankly made mothering a bit easier for those that came before us!

  • My mom never had to say no, you can't watch TV because kid "programming" only came on once a week!     Our children will forever be deprived of special Saturday mornings huddled under the fort that their Daddy made in the living room watching the thing that only happened one morning a week - CARTOONS!  Remember Land of the lost, Fred Flintsone, The Jetsons?  I don't think our parents spent one tiny second wondering if Looney Tunes and Bugs Bunny were negatively impacting our psyche. 
  • My mom never had to spend four hours in Babies R Us before I was born picking out car seats.  Frankly, I wish that we weren't so safety conscious.  OK,  I know that sounds wrong but I am envious of the times my mom was able to tell us to go outside and play without having to smother us in sunscreen, find the helmets and knee pads.  Not to even mention the times we jumped in the car without a car seat!
  • My mother never had to worry about me clicking a link that might inadvertently take me to a porn site on the computer. 
  • My mother only had to drive me to school one day a week because we had no car seats and could fit 5 (or more) kids in the car.  My mom had Wednesdays. Mrs. Covington drove on Fridays and Mrs. Boleik drove on Tuesdays, etc.  (yes, real names have been used for illustration purposes).  My best friend had a wood grained station wagon with little pop up seats in the rear that faced out the back window.  I loved sitting there! 
  • My mom never had to leave four pages of information for the babysitter explaining how to manage the remote controls in the hosue. 
  • My mom also lived in ignorance of the ways in which oreos and chips ahoy cookies were killing her children.  
  • My Mom never had to worry about someone calling CPS because she left us in the car while she ran in for milk.  Heck,  half the time she sent me in, barefoot and half dressed, to get the milk for her while she waited in the car.  
At the end of the day,  I am not so sure that all of our "advancements" are advancing us as families. I sure wish motherhood were a little simpler for me. 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

10 Things Never to Start with Your Kids

  1. Never let them know they can have the red cup instead of the yellow cup if they ask.
  2. Never take them out of bed in the middle of the night.  They can go back to sleep if you comfort them in the crib - really.  Trust me on this. 
  3. Never respond if they yell at you from another room.  Unless, of course you are yelling back at them not to yell at you. 
  4. Don't, just don't, let them eat in the car.  I know, it seems like an impossible task but unless you want your back seat to turn into a human petri dish then just don't. 
  5. Don't give in - even one time - to the request for something at the Grocery store.  "It's not on the list", "We buy what we need, not what we want" and "NO" are my favorite sayings at Albertsons. 
  6. While I'm on it, never give in to the begging.  The one time you change your mind after they say please is all they will remember and you will have a lifetime of begging to endure from then on.
  7. At night, read a book, say a prayer, give a kiss, turn around to leave and DO NOT GO BACK.  It will start a pattern you will regret the rest of your living days.  My kids think "good night" means ask mom another question quick before she gets to the door so she doesn't have to leave. 
  8. My opinion on television - it is something that kids do that prevents them from doing something worthwhile.  So, only if you want them in the habit of being worthless should you start the TV watching.  It's a hard and difficult road to travel but one that is SO worth it in the long run. 
  9. When they start school - don't start helping them with homework.  You deprive them of the opportunity to learn responsibility and confidence from doing it themselves.  And after you help one time, they will all of a sudden be incapable of doing any assignment themselves at any time in the future. 
  10. Last but not least, never start warming up their milk, cutting off their crusts, or "specializing" their food.  Unless you want to be a short order cook the rest of your child-rearing days.  In our house - You get what you get AND you DON'T throw a fit.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

What am I doing wrong???

Saturday, January 7th, 2012 - discipline, histrionics, more discipline, more histrionics.

I know I am not the only parent that wonders what they are doing wrong.  I'm telling you, some days it is easier than others and today was one of the others.  I think that people should stop selling tickets to the battle of the network stars and just sell tickets to the battle of the wills that go on at my house sometimes.   Wow - how did I get to the place where my 7 year old thinks it is OK to argue, tell me that I am not speaking to HER kindly and/or disobey me all in one 10 second span of time?

Progress, in teaching little ones, is slow.  Like a tootsie roll pop taking so many licks to get to the center, it must take a certain number of admonitions before it gets into their tiny little growing head.   I swear, if I knew the number I would just sit down with the kid and get them all out at once. 

As for blogging, I am spending a little more time working on the design of the page than writing.  It's just so fun changing the font colors and styles and seeing what feels right.  I wish I could figure out how to import my twitter feed and other items to my page...  Making me crazy!!! 

 Good thing they are cute - saves them from my wrath on many occasions.  That and the way they smell...  So fresh and sweet.  Oh, and the laughs when....  Oh darn - there I go losing my mad.  Can't have that!!!

Organizational Tip of the Day 

I cleaned out the garage and finally got rid of the paint cans filling up my shelf...  I had been saving them in case I needed to know what paint went where.  My brilliant husband said it might be better just to take photos of the paint so I would know and then, alas, free shelf space in the garage.  LOVE IT!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


1.4.12 - Desk work, desk work, cross-fit, desk work.

Today was a day of catching up at my desk and getting all the nitty gritty things done that plague you.  Bills, calling about questions on bills, canceling accounts, setting up accounts and trying to renew a some gift cards that were lost by Shaylin. (note to self: 8 years old is not quite old enough to be responsible for your own gift cards).   I would let it go as a lesson for her but I am too cheap to let $50 go.  Even if it was $50 to Toys R Us and Michaels.

I have also spent a lot of time subscribing to other blogs...  Now that I have been focused on the blogging world it is overwhelming researching the "blog business".  I am comforted by just posting simple things at this time and not worrying about getting it right.  I'm giving myself a couple months learning curve before I tell anyone I'm actually "doing this".  :)  SO MUCH TO LEARN!

By the way,  I am trying my hardest to get back in shape after too much christmas cheer....  When your work out clothes start to be uncomfortable you know you have eaten way too much.

Good night!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Starting the year off right

January 2nd, 2012  Crossfit, Grocery Shopping, Kids crafts and Dinner party

2nd day of the year and I had to get my resolutions in gear by working out this morning.  Crossfit  of choice these days and it was a great "get back in the groove" work-out that has had my tuckus aching all day.

We had a family meeting this morning to go over our family expectations for 2012.  Respect and responsibility and all the things that go with that.  The kids told us what all they needed to do to show respect and responsibility so they can't tell us tomorrow that "I didn't know I needed to pick up my shoes from the middle of the floor, clean up my room, speak kindly, or not hit my sister in the mouth because she took the color cup I wanted."

In preparation for having a few friends over for dinner tonight I had to fill the empty cupboards so I proceeded to venture out to not one, or two but three different grocery stores.  Trader Joes is my pick for most of my food but had to purchase meat from another store with a meat counter and shrimp at albertsons for a Shrimp Ceviche dish. 

I did a cool craft with the kids I will post another time - for tonight - Good night and fare well.

Learned about blogging today - can't use Blogger with Foxfire.  The pictures wouldn't load and I couldn't post.  Tried Safari and had no problems. Wish somebody had told me that before I spent an hour trying to upload pictures from Foxfire.

Home Education

January 1st, 2012.  Christmas clean up. Kids playing outside.  Searching for the best blog name.

I'm from the south.  33 years I spent in the south at Christmas so imagine my confusion the first Christmas I spent in California and went for a hike on Christmas eve in short pants and a tank top.  It just seemed wrong.  This year was deja vu for me of that first Christmas - we broke down our Christmas decorations in 80 degree weather.  Craziness.  Just so you know,  that didn't stop me from putting a log in the fireplace during the dismantling....  Some things I am not willing to sacrifice.

Our mantle - - returned to its non-Christmas glory.

I love working with my husband.  He is a get it done kind of guy and we flat got a lot of work done in a short period of time.  The living room is perfect from top to bottom (floors scrubbed, carpets dusted, walls wiped) and while we were at it we cleaned out some of the garage and cabinets.  You know, as long as we were at it.

The hardwoods got a few scratches on them during the tree removal process...  Never fear - almond stick and Minwax were here to fix that problem in a jiffy.

It was great hearing the kids playing all day outside.  They have friends across the street and the kids come and go between the two houses like they are one.  Fabulous.

During the day, my husband and I tossed around various ideas for naming the blog (did I mention I love working with him? )  I wanted something that reflected the honor of working as a homemaker....  My husband thinking I needed something hip and interest getting. We were educated on the use of the name "home" and "house" in every phrase, quote and song we could find online  This is what we have for now - "Women Make Homes".  It may not stick but it is the theme of the blog...  Men make houses, Women make Homes.  What an incredible blessing to have that opportunity to make a home for our family.  I LOVE IT!