Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Everyone Is Getting Scarves For Christmas

I am not one to write an entire post on what I did last night.  You would all be bored to tears so I usually spare you such details.  But last night is an exception.  I am so excited to report what I did.
And as usual, I need to back up a bit.  I started this blog about 1 year ago.  I mostly started it because I found Pioneer Woman's Blog and watched Julie & Julia.  I promptly bought a camera (thanks to Pioneer Woman), and I opened a blogger account (thanks to Julie&Julia).
I did what most new bloggers probably do, spend all their time reading...mmm..themselves.  I was so proud of me that I just went to my blog and PW's blog.  I did not yet realize the wonderful world of mom bloggers.  Then I started searching around other mom bloggers sites.  Each afternoon, while kiddos napped, I  found myself clickin' my way to some really neat women.

And then I found the small things blog and became her #1 fan.  Although, as you know in blogger world, you can be someones #1 fan and they have no idea who you are. Well, let's just say I read her daily, and then I started reading her comments, and then I started visiting the blogs of people who commented on her site.

And all these women, Ginny included, were amazingly talented knitters.  They made the coolest stuff.  Like stuff I want to wear.I loved the yarn.  I loved all the colors. And I could just picture myself sitting in a cuddly chair, sipping coffee  KNITTING, while my little ones scampered at my feet.  I don't know why I picture such foolish things, but nevertheless, I was so inspired!  I thought to myself.." can do this!!"

So about 3 months later (you know how easy it is to find spare time to learn to knit) I found myself a little yarn shop, called up and signed up for a class. And now I am signed up for 4 classes and I am proud to say I hope I  will be the owner of a hand knit $60 scarf.  Yarn is darn expensive (the 4 week class was 40)!!

The class was awesome.  The lady teaching was WONDERFUL!!  She was so patient and she really knew how to knit..which probably comes in handy OWNING a knitting store.  I had a blast.  I casted on and made several rows and then made several mistake so I had to pull it all out...which I am told is normal.

I was a little bummed I was not walking out of the lesson claiming this cute hat as my own.  But I am grateful for the simple progress I made.

Knitting is not that hard, but my fingers were really tired.  And of course, I know think my next step in life will be to one day own  a knitting yarn store..
Because that is how my brain works.

Stay tuned for me to show you the finished product. Hopefully not in typical mom time..but really motivated to finish my $60 scarf time!!

My Small Rut..And Some Photos

I was not going to do a last night because I had something very exciting I was doing tonight (I took a knitting class...yyeaah) and I did not think I would have time , you know since I will be polishing off my first pair of finely knitted socks.  Also,  I wanted you guys to have enough time to see and comment on the GREAT book that I want you all to read...(post below).
But it is early morning around here and I feel like talking and nobody is here to listen, so I'll just chat with you guys.

(this is where it all happens folks..the blogging room..I mean school room)

All this "homeschooling book reading" I am doing, and reading other peoples homeschool blogs, really has me thinking and looking at how this year is going so far.  And to tell you the truth I am in a little rut when it comes to jumping out of bed totally jazzed about teaching my 4 year old how to hold a pencil. that my job??? And let me stress little rut.  I know this is little because I have been in bigger ruts before.  I mean huge ruts.  Like calling Pete crying 3 times a day ruts.

No, this is not like that.  This is more like.."man I just wish I were more excited about doing this homeschool thing" rut.

(this is what you see when you walk in my front know one of those useless spots that looks so cute)

What do I do about it?  So far my plan has been FAKE IT TILL I MAKE IT!!  Even if the feeling of excitement is not there I have been practicing "faking it".  And really that works pretty well for me.  I usually do feel pretty good about the day when it is over.  I know one thing, I tried my best that day, and tomorrow I hope to try better.

(these are the breakfast bowls that finally get washed and put away by lunch)

It's kinda like when I get way to early in the morning to go I feel like being up at 5:00?  Do I jump out of bed back flipping because I "get" to go running?  Let me just be clear...THAT WOULD NOT BE ME.  Everyday I have a 1 to 2 minute conference with myself listing the reasons why I don't have to get up and run that day. But each day I decide that just because I don't feel like running does not mean that I shouldn't do it.  I know it makes me feel better.  I know it is good for me. But why can't I WANT to do it more?  I fake liking to run..mmmm..EVERYDAY!!!

(this is what is in every room I walk into)

Both in homeschooling and running not everyday is going to be easy, I remind myself.  Not everyday the choice I make is going to feel like the right one.  But I know what direction I am headed in, and even when I sometimes feel like I am C...R...A...W...L...I..N...G,  I know that real progress is being made...both in my children and in my behind.

(these are forks..just clearing things up)

Don't forget to comment on the give-a-way post.  I really think this book can help mommies being one of them.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Great Book Give-A-Way

I was going to wait before I posted about this book until I was completely finished reading it..but I really can't wait to share it with you.  I am not exaggerating when I say this is the best book I have read in a long time.
...let me back up a minute.
Sometime last week I got an e-mail from a mom who just published her first book.  She wanted to send me a copy to read and possibly have a give-a-way.  I was a little starstruck at first..a real live author wants me to read her book....ABSOLUTELY!! So I waited for the book to come and when it did I got right into it.
I had to wait to late that night to even crack the book open..but once I did I knew it was going to be a stay-up-way-too-late-reading-a-good-book-night.  This book,
Stories For The Homeschool Heart is a true inspiration.  It is a compilation of stories written on various topics relating to homeschooling.  The stories are short little gifts you get to unwrap with each page turn.

One thing about the book that jumped out at me right away was these stories are not just for the traditional homeschooler..these stories are for any parent that embraces the idea that WE ALL HOMESCHOOL REALLY
The book reads a lot like a friends blog would.  Just little snapshots of really good stories.  Stories that make you think and wonder about long after you have read them. 

I love a good story.  I love reading something quick and meaningful.  I love being able to see things from someone elses' perspective.  This book has all of those things.  And it happens to focus on something I love to learn more about..having a homeschooling heart.

I have to admit that this year has been a bit of a struggle for me in the "I LOVE to homeschool" department.  I know why I do this.  I know that I want to keep doing it.  But some days I just DON'T FEEL LIKE DOING IT!!! Since starting this book last week I have gotten my second wind.

These stories really have provided me with inspiration and a little nudge in the right direction.  I read about these amazing moms and families that truly have a homeschool heart and I realize...
"That is why I got into this..I want to become a mom like that!"

The main authors of the book are both moms to large families.  They have children from 5-22.  These are the women that I hope to be like.  I want to have stories to share like they have shared.  I want to know the things they have gone through to get where they are now.  This book gives you insight to their stories.

Who is this book for...
In the author's words
"It is a book for those who take seriously the awesome responsibility as primary educators of their children, regardless of their academic choices for them. It is for families with a 'homeschool heart' .  It includes all dedicated parents; those that teach their kids at home from birth through high school and those such as humor writer Tim Bete (who generously shared two of his stories) who seriously considered homeschooling but did not ultimately feel called to do so.

This book is not like other homeschool book out there...a how to guide, a what to do when you can't teach this guide.  This book speaks to the main issue of schooling and raising children..having a heart that is open to what God has placed upon it.  I love this book.  I want every homeschooling mama to have one.  You will love this book. 

So right now I am having my 1st give-a-way of this book.  I was going to pass on my copy..but I have to own this book FOREVER.  I have to have this book on my shelf so I can come back to my favorite stories that I need to be reminded of. 
To own your very own copy of this WONDERFUL BOOK just leave a comment letting me know how school  is going for you this year.  Is your heart in the game? Do you need a little boost? Public school moms, homeschool moms, private school moms..this book is for all of us.

I want the word to get out about this book so I am upping the give-a-way  here's a bonus round for some other mommy bloggers...
If you link to this give-a-way on your blog and you let me know that you did in your comment....then your name goes in twice and if you are chosen you will also get a piece of my friends AMAZING jewelry.
I am giving away 4 copies of this book.  I want you all to read is that good.  

Let's just put it this way..if you knew how good this book was and you did not try to give it to me..I would be mad at you.  So me spread the word...let your friends know about this great and inspirational book by posting a comment and sharing a link to this site...
p.s you may be thinking..."mmm..I wonder why she had all those pictures of her daughter's for this give-a-way post?"
answer...I just liked them and I have to have pictures when I post...itsa kinda quirky habit I guess.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fall Book List 2010

Here we go guys...the book list that I have been dying to get my hands on.  Last year around this time my sweet cousin (Pete's cousin actually..but I love to claim her as my own) did a guest post for me and wrote a great book list.  Throughout the year I have come back to that list when I needed a good read. 

Before I let her get started let me tell you a little about the "Great Book List Maker". She is one of those cool people that is just cool no matter what she does.  Christa has cool friends, a cool husband and an all around cool life.  She belongs to cooking groups, preschool co-ops, wine clubs, she always looks amazing, and she makes really cute babies.  Her family does cool stuff like spend a month in Tahoe, camp in the mountains and take trips to Italy.  She recently decided she wanted to homeschool her kids for a year so she could do cool stuff with them ..take their learning on the road a bit in Southern California.  I love this girl!!  I know you will too.  Even if you don't like all her got to admit..for a mom with 5 kids 8 and under...she reads a TON!! we go!!  Leave her a comment and tell her what you think.

Note From The Book List Author:
I love to read. I read lots of different types of books. I like to learn, be inspired, get completely into a story, be caught up in a suspenseful plot, and mostly enjoy peace and quiet while reading. I think I read a lot. It keeps me sane. These books are my favorites from the past year.

Books Read in the Last Year Worth Recommending

Favorite Fiction

The Physic Book of Deliverance  Dane by Katherine Howe
LOVED this book. Historical fiction melded with a current story line about the Salem Witch Trials. Page Turner....

Molokai  by Alan Brennert
Historical Fiction set in the late 1800s on Molokai (leper colony). Page Turner....

My Name is Memory by Anna Brashares
If I was a literary reviewer, I could add some harsh critiques over parts...but the reality is I loved reading the story and thought the premise was excellent.

A man's soul is reincarnated numerous times but he keeps his memory of his past lives (lives in all types of historical settings). There is a love story and a revenge theme that continues through each new "life."

The Concubine's Daughter by Pai Kit Fai
Great "epic" type novel....

Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman
Bride and Groom die in car accident on their way to wedding reception. Families have to deal with aftermath. Sad, kind of silly at times, but a "beach read" at its best.

House Rules by Jodi Piccoult
I love her books. Don't judge me..but I do. This one takes you into the mind of a teenager with Aspbergers.....educational, emotional and suspenseful.

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
Again, don't judge. He tells a great story. I don't believe he uses facts or is showing "new truth" but he really knows how to write a good story. I found myself walking around my house doing chores while reading this latest book. If you don't like him....check out the book at the library.....he won't make a dime! hee hee

Innocent by Scott Turow
This is a sequel to Presumed Innocent written about 20 years ago. If you have not read the first book or seen the movie (with Harrison Ford).....please go to the library and read immediately. AMAZING book (if you like legal mysteries.....GREAT book....cannot tell you more in case I accidentally say too much....). The sequel Innocent is just as amazing....

The White Queen by Philipa Gregory
New historical fiction series about the War of the Roses. Thought I needed to take a break from English Royalty Historical Fiction....turns out I didn't. The second one The Red Queen just came out. Must put it on my library list.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl who Caught Fire, and The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Steig Larsson
Not for the faint of heart. Could be considered "R" rated.....But if you like Law and Order SVU, Silence of the Lambs or might LOVE these (I did/ currently on the third book). Mystery, murder, conspiracy, CRAZY SMART COMPLEX characters, books you can't put down but still don't regret it when you are exhausted the next day.

Kristin Lavransdatter Series by Sigrid Undset

(The Wreath, The Wife, The Cross)

If nothing else, you will feel really smart while reading since these books are classical fiction and have won numerous awards (Nobel).

Set in 14th century in Norway, the books follow a strong young woman named Kristin as she carves her own path in her society. We see how her choices impact her future, her children, her family and society around her. Sin, grace, love, and forgiveness are all laced into the Christian themes of this book. Highly Recommended.

Huger Games, Catching Fire, Mockingjay - by Suzanne Collins

This 3 books series is actually filed under "youth fiction" at the library (so put a different book jacket over the cover if reading in public and want to appear smarter).

A young girl is forced to compete in a gladiator type game in a post apocalyptic world. It is a fascinating story highlighting many themes of human nature, politics, and community.

Favorite Nonfiction

Traveling with Pomegranates by Sue Monk Kidd
Mother and Daughter travel through Greece and Norther Africa. They learn about themselves, their relationship together and both develop a deep respect and love for Mother Mary. Mother's Day present?

Called Out of Darkness by Anne Rice
Fascinating Memoir....really loved it.

Tattoos on the Heart by Gregory Boyle
Boyle is a priest that lives and works in urban LA and helps gangsters find jobs, go to school and reconcile with their enemies. He does through his actions, not his preaching. Very inspiring. He founded "Homeboy Ministries."
The Narcissism Epidemic by Jean Twenge and Campbell
AMAZING book....loved it. Will make you realize what our society is doing to us and our children. Life changing....
The Price of Privilege by Madeline Devine
A must-read for parents.....seriously. Fascinating, eye-opening, and sad. I HIGHLY recommend it.....amazing advice and insight.

The Idle Parent by Tom Hodkinson
Parenting book that will make you laugh out loud and feel really good about all the time you have spent reading this past year. Men will love this book too.....

On My Bedside Table (Literally)

(I have not read these books....they could all be horrible for all I know...)

Outliers - Malcolm Gladwell

The Witch of Blackbird Pond - by Elizabeth George Speare

The Invisible Bridge - Julie Orringer

The Lonely Polygamist - Brady Udall

Father of the Rain - Lily King

Island Beneath the Sea - Isabel Allende

Imperfect Birds - Anne Lamott

The Lovers - Vendela Vida

The Angel's Game - Carlos Ruiz Zafron

The Gift of An Ordinary Day - Katrina Kenison

The Woman Warrior - Maxine Hong Kingston

Interview with a Vampire - Anne Rice

I would be tired too...
Thanks Christa for writing this out for us to enjoy.  I love getting book lists from her.  She always asks me.."What type of read are you looking for?"

And come back tomorrow for another book post..I should make this book week here..
I am reading a GREAT homeschool book right now (even GREAT for non-traditional homeschool moms).  I have only just begun and I am LOVING IT!!!  I have already been inspired and changed by some of the stories in this  incredible book. I want to give one to every mama I know

Saturday, September 25, 2010

I wish I could take more pictures.  As much as I would love to, I can't take my camera with me everywhere I go.  Having my camera with me is a complete distraction from what really matters...keeping Lucy alive and hoping Priscilla has not followed her into whatever destruction she encounters.
And really this is my life..a small person pulling on my skirt.

Wanting mama to put down her camera and "hold you".

And when she finally gets what she wants, she is off again...on to more destruction...until she comes back for more mama!

And in order to get a picture of her sweet face I have to sit across the room and ZOOM in on her.

I have to be super quick in order to get her sitting still.

And when I finally get a picture of her I just hope her face is clean.

p.s.  You guys have to come visit on cousin has put together an awesome book list.  I will post Monday!!...until then check out her old book list from last year on the link above
The Little House That Reads

Friday, September 24, 2010

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

I miss my mom!! I just had to say that.  I don't get to see her enough. She does not get the chance to love on my little ones enough.  And I just ..want my mom!
And more of these moments...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

I Really Blew It

I will get to the good part in just a minute but first you need a little background and some other supporting thoughts in order to fully understand my position.  Just know that in no way am I saying.."Look at me and all my "catholicness!" we go.

When I started homeschooling one of my goals was to attend daily mass as much as possible.  The key word NOT  being daily... for me it is more like 2 to 3 times a  weekday Mass.  I would love to go to Mass daily, but for everything there is a season and it is not my "go to daily mass every day" season.
Some years I have been really good about making it more on the everyday part, other years I have barely made it on Sunday.  Right now I am in a pretty good season for attempting to include as much daily Mass as possible.
We have tried all different times of the day, and we have tried several different churches in the area.  I have discovered that 8:00 a.m Mass is just not my thing.  I can get there OK and the kids are pretty good at that time.  The problem is when I am out and about at 9:00 in the morning the last thing I feel like doing is going home to do school.  I want to goof off and pal around with the young mama's who bring their toddlers to Mass.  So this year we have settled on going to 12:00 Mass downtown.  The church is amazingly beautiful and Father Farmer is awesome.  And because it is the Cathedral for the diocese we get lucky every now and again and celebrate Mass with the bishop. So, we start our school day about 8:00 go until 11:00, break for lunch, and head out for 12:00 Mass...all perfect timing!! Come back and put little people down for naps, finish up school with the girls, read some blogs, fold some laundry, start some dinner (this is just extra information that has NOTHING to do with the story..but I am nosey about what people do I thought you might be to).

So, here is the part where I "blew" it.  Oh yeah...just a little more background, I can sometimes run a little behind.  Not on purpose..just by default.
Last Tuesday we headed out for Mass.  I was a little "rushed" because I had a crazy morning and did not exactly feel like getting everyone in the car to get to church..but I knew I needed it so off we went.  Parking for the Cathedral can be a little spotty sometimes leaving us to walk a small distance to get there.  And since Mass is offered at 12:00 in the downtown area a lot of business men go (which I think is the coolest thing ever!!). I am walking with my 5 little ones...kinda quick.  This tall good looking lawyer type strides up along side me....

"Are these all yours?" Now...let me stop for a second and recognize that anyone with more than one child is asked this question and I am sure we all find it annoying to some degree. I usually smile and simply reply..."yup".  But lately I have taken to having a little fun with my comebacks..just for a laugh.  So this was the chosen response last Tuesday,
"I usually don't pick up other people's kids to take to Mass with me."  I think I may have said it kinda...snarkey.  Sometimes I can deliver this remark with more "charity" in my voice but since I was already feeling a little "snarky" myself..that is how I sounded.  I kinda rushed the kids ahead of him and walked up the steps.

He picks up his pace to keep step with us and I am feeling his eyes watching our every move.  Sometimes I like the attention.  Some times I can put on a good, "I've got myself all together" show.  But that day..I just wanted to focus on the task at hand..celebrate Mass without wanting to swap know what I mean?
He says to me, "I have 3 little ones.  My wife could never take them to mass." Yet another comment I have NOTHING to respond with.  "How old are your little ones?" I ask handsome young lawyer who is walking quickly to keep up with me. He proudly replies "One , two and three. How old are yours?" 

At this point Mass is about to start and Jack has noticed that I am slowing my pace so he immediately thinks that means he can climb ANYTHING that is standing still. So after peeling Jack off the handrail I answer.."Mine are young like yours."  I was unable to give him ages at this point because I just wanted to stop talking and get on with my business.
I then turn away and enter the nearest door, kinda annoyed at the conversation..just the whole taking a lot of intrest in my family at that moment was not working for me.

I need to stop the story for a minute and tell you that I know that when we are out in public people are watching us.  I know that because I see them.  But more importantly I know that because I am one of the people who watches other families.  I am a talker by nature so I usually don't mind such interactions and sometimes welcome the chance to ..
"preach it". 
But this day..I was the one in need of the preachin'

After Mass young handsome lawyer comes up to me, like right away  as I was still collecting us out of the pew, and  looks at me in amazement...
"Your kids were so well behaved. How do you do that? We have a hard time with the 2 of us and our 3 kids."
And here is the big BLOW...
I had nothing to say...
I think I said thank you.  I know I was very abrupt and somewhat indifferent to his heartfelt compliment. 
I get us packed up and get myself out to our car.
I close the door and I realize how terrible I just handled that situation.  Thinking back I know this guy really just wanted to chat with me.  He was wanting to know more about what he was seeing..
He wanted to ask me,"Why are you here?" "What specific steps have you taken so you can be here with 5 kids and no help?" 

I know he wanted to ask those questions because I have been that person.  I have seen people who I feel instantly drawn to and I want to know more about them or more about what they are doing..because 9 times out of 10..I like what I see so I want to know more.
I felt bad..really bad.  I wanted to wait for him by his car and say.."I am sorry if I came across as rude..I was just focused and ..I'm here now."
But..I didn't.  I just drove away thinking I blew it. 
I wanted to say this to him..
"I don't really know what I am doing.  I do the best I can.  Sometimes my kids are well behaved and that is because we practice this whole daily mass thing..well..daily. I practice having patience with them by taking them here to practice.  Sometimes we have a great practice..other times I know ..we need more practice."