Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I Want to Pimp My Car!

So, one of the things we have realized, since the van is broken down, is that Wes' commute back and forth to work is much much much less driving than my errands and doctor's appointments and taking kids places like the nature center or the zoo. And the van guzzles more gas than the Nissan.

So, logically, I should be driving the Nissan (the kids and I, we all fit) and Wes should drive the van to and from work. Also, logically, we should resist the urge to replace the Nissan because it has a fairly new engine in it and it runs just fine. What it really needs is a new muffler. Mufflers are cheaper than cars.

So, now I'll be most likely driving a long-since-paid-for beater with over two hundred thousand miles on it.

And what I've always said I wanted to do, if I ever was driving a car like that is to paint it up all CRAYZEE, like. Flowers all over it, or perhaps make it an autism awareness car, with puzzle pieces all over it. Or I could get super duper epoxy glue and create a crazy mosaic. Or I could do all of the above.

Wouldn't that be FUN?????? I should get some of my artistic friends to help me with this fun-sounding project.

Yes, I want to be that crazy lady who drives a crazy pimped out artsy fartsy beater car.

Is it July Already?????

Well, the wedding dress is DONE, so now I can turn my attention to the rest of my summer: reading, relaxing by the pool and vegging out. Right? Ha!

Actually, I have a few goals I want to accomplish before summer is over and I do want to get an early start on next school year. August is miserably hot and it's an excellent time to enjoy the indoors and start our studies.

So...I'm going to get all grading from last year done, and filed away next week.

After that, we are going to deep clean and declutter our wee apartment from top to bottom. I want all the kids here to help with that.

Then I need to plan the next school year and get organized for that. There's been so much boredom and too much time spent on the computer on the parts of the kids this summer that I'm SERIOUSLY thinking of going with a four day school week and a year-round system for next year. Need to sit down with a calendar and plan out my options and make a decision on that score.

Thoughts on four days/ week year round versus a more "traditional" schedule? I'd love to hear what's worked for other home schoolers out there.

So, that's the work part of the summer coming up.

I also plan on playing a bit: there's a Jane Austen Festival coming up on July 10th that I may or may not go to, but I'd like to go to. AND Wes and I plan on doing more of that super fun contra dancing we did last Monday night.

Good times.

Vile Smell of the Week: Pysanka eggs!!!

Yes, I did the research.

The research said that one could not blow them out and that over time they would dry out from the inside.

The research was clearly wrong.

I set the basket on top of an obscure book shelf, and today, as I was searching for a field guide to wild flowers, found the vile smell. Not like rotten eggs, oh no no! All cheesy-like and stinky. I carefully removed the eggs into a zip-lock bag and discovered that one of them had leaked and had under it: Maggots. Oh joy.

Needless to say, I am down a basket as well. Hello dumpster, good-bye Pysanka eggs!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Yen

I have a yen to sew a victorian era outfit to wear to a mother/daughter Victorian tea our AHG troop is going to in December. The whole thing will last only 2 hours, which means my yen to sew a corset, a crinoline, and a dress, a bonnet and perhaps a cloak might be called EXPENSIVE AND SILLY.

However, I think it points to something greater: The desire to be involved in historical costuming and re-enactments someday, on some level.

A gal can dream, can't she?

Sunday, June 20, 2010

God Alone is Enough

I'm participating in a Blog Tour, today, and it is my privilege to present to you, my readers, Chapter Five of the book God Alone Is Enough by Claudia Mair Burney.

Official author bio from the book jacket: Claudia Mair Burney is the author of seven novels, including the Amanda Bell Brown mysteries, and Zora and Nicky, a Christy Award finalist in 2009. Readers familiar with her style will enjoy this rollicking journey through their own interior castles. She lives in Kentucky, where she also authors the popular blog "Ragamuffin Diva".

After giving a down-to-earth bio of St. Theresa of Avila in the beginning of the book, Mair focuses in on St. Theresa's advice on how to cultivate a life of prayer. Needless to say, my ears perk up at such a topic. I am, after all, the consumate prayer warrior. Not! (The armor doesn't fit right and I struggle to stand under the weight of it. And...and...and...)

Theresa uses an analogy of a garden. The garden is our soul and Christ is the gardener. He roots and weeds and HE plants the good plants there (the virtues). Our job is to water and tend what Christ has planted. Prayer is the watering and the tending.

So, at first prayer is difficult, like a person lugging water from a well to water a garden. This is beginning prayer and it involves much self-reflection on one's past and one's sins. And humility.

And now we get to the chapter I am to review: Look for New Growth.

I like that. Immediately I think of somewhere where it is written that the Lord brings the growth. And I get to play "I spy" in my own soul for the good that the Lord has done. In this chapter, the author discusses sitting with Christ, and being present with Him as we deliberately pray the Lord's prayer. But mostly the emphasis is on being present with God.

There is a certain gentleness that permeates this book. It is very approachable and makes St. Theresa of Avila very approachable as well. Like she's the kind of spiritual mother one would want to share a cup of tea or coffee with and have a nice long chat about life, the universe, and how to pray. The kind of person whom one could be a wide-eye-Jesus-freak together with. This bit at the end of the chapter I particularly loved:
"Pay no attention," Theresa says, "to that feeling you get of wanting to leave off in the middle of your prayer, but praise the Lord that you desire to pray; you can be assured it comes from your will, which loves to be with God...On occasion, when you find yourself oppressed in that way, try to go someplace where you can see the sky, and walk up and down a little: that won't interfere with your prayer. After all, you're only human. Don't strain yourself too much."
p. 65

Sistah Mair

And Oh, crap! I just realized I as supposed to blog about Chapter SIX instead of Chapter five!!!! Well, instead of erasing this, I'll just write more. He he. That's what sleep deprivation gets you, folks.

OK, Chapter six: Cranking it Up

"I've explained how the gardener waters his garden through hard work, using his own strength to draw water from a well. Now let's speak of the second method, turning the crank of a waterwheel and drawing the water through an aqueduct. The gardener gets more water for less work and can rest more without having to work constantly. Here the soul begins to be recollected. It happens supernaturally. The soul cannot make this happen by it's own efforts. Grace reveals itself."
p. 67

And So chapter six begins.

In this chapter, we are introduced to a new level of prayer: the prayer of examen (as taught by St. Ignatius of Loyola). As St. Theresa of Avila describes it, this is the prayer of quiet. This is the prayer of sitting at Jesus' feet after the house as been readied for his presence. And then we wait. And grace comes.

"We should not travel too slowly. We need to consider the ways we can get accustomed to these good habits. Souls who do so are more protected from many occasions of sin, and the fire of divine love is readily ignited in them. They are so near the flames that, however little the understanding has fanned the fire, any small spark that flies out at them will cause them to combust. When it is not hindered from the outside, the soul remains alone with its God and is thoroughly prepared to ignite." p. 76

And that, my friends, sounds like a challenge to take one's prayer life to the next level.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Carrying Each Other

When I moved to St. Michael's, one dream I'd had for a long time came true. I was able to join the choir. I joined last year during Lent, so it was sort of "baptism by fire" as we were very busy with rehearsals, practicing for Pascha. I fumbled along as best I could, singing quietly in the back row, learning as I went along. 90% of the music was utterly unfamiliar, and the 10% that I did know was sung with just enough musical variations that on those pieces I really had to stay on my toes.

But this post really isn't about me. I don't mean for it to be, at any rate.

Last night the choir had a little surprise party for our beloved Khouria Olga. She's officially not the choir director any more, as we're saying goodbye to her and Father this summer. They are moving to St. Tikhon's.

So, we gathered. We ate. People reminisced. Then we sang. Without music. We just sang for our choir director and our priest as a small spontaneous goodbye gift. We sang a version of Christ is Risen where the Soprano part is really high. We sang "O My Soul" for Father Alexander, since that's his favorite, and we sang something about "Now the powers of heaven do serve..." (I have been sitting here for several minutes trying to recall the exact words, and have failed). At any rate, our choir sang these pieces without relying on written music. Just paying attention to each other and our director.

And it was amazing. Amazing that we could sing this music that we don't normally sing week to week. Amazing that we sounded (to my ears) really really pretty.

We were carrying each other, as a group. No one voice stood out and at the parts where one might falter, another was there to lend a note and all we had to do was be in tune with each other and listen, and sing and it created something even bigger and better than even the sum total each individual.

In that moment, I knew what it means for the Church to be one body. That love, that listening, that carrying one another, so that the net result is bigger than the sum of the individuals.

Thanks be to God.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

So I don't clog up Morning Coffee with diet stuff

Because most of the time, Weight Loss blogs are BORING. Sometimes they are brilliant. But most of the time they bore me to tears. But I'm doing this so I have a need to blog about it: I started a diet journey blog:

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I should write SOMETHING, I suppose

It is one of those weeks when I'm up to my neck in this and that. Is it only Wednesday? Feels like it should be Friday or something closer to it than merely Wednesday.

Wedding dress that I'm sewing is progressing nicely. There it hangs, waiting for the back zipper and a few final touches like hemming it, adding decorative buttons to the back and some hand sewing on the inside lining...but these things await another fitting with bridegirl. She will look so pretty! I can't wait to take pictures of the dress when I'm done.

We have car trouble! How, I ask, do we deal with car trouble without a credit card???? Yes, it's possible, but it takes patience, I guess. My mini van won't start and we think its the starter, which could cost a pretty penny or two. And we just spent all our saved up car money on the tire blowout a couple of weeks ago and our savings has not recuperated yet. How fun.

Thankfully, Wes' old beater Nissan is still drivable, and we live close enough to Church that we can make two trips to ferry us there and back again. Everywhere else, well, I guess we stay home unless there are just 5 of us going instead of all six of us. So, I've been taking Wes to work and picking him up in the afternoons. It's nice to have a few extra minutes with him, to chat about life the universe and everything. Trying to see the positives here. So we'll keep doing that until we save up enough to get our van fixed. THAT is how one deals with car trouble without a credit card. That old Nissan is a pride-bustin' rust bucket, though. Hope it holds together.

What else is going on? Oh yes, it's getting kids packed for camp week. This means I have to inventory and write their names on all their clothes. Fuuuun. Most of their clothes are still labeled from last year, so it shouldn't be too hard a job to get done. Today's task was to print off packing lists and make a shopping list of things like sun screen and flashlight batteries that no camper can be without.

For some reason I'm tired today. Oh yes, now I remember: I stayed out really late and then stayed up even later when I came home. Girl's night out w/ a girlfriend and a nice wine bar/coffee shop place. Way too fun. Ought to do that more often.

I'm currently reading a book entitled God Alone is Enough: A Spirited Journey with St. Theresa of Avila by Claudia Mair Burney. I'll be participating in some sort of blog thing with this book, reviewing chapter five on Sunday June 20. I'd better read it fast. It was just in my mailbox yesterday evening! St. Teresa of Avila, of course, is somewhat outside of my comfort zone and familiarity, being a Roman Catholic saint of the Reformation era. But review chapter five I shall, so stay tuned for that!

I'm getting really dark this summer. Perhaps it comes from taking the kids to the pool which is 50 yards or so from our door. Fun times. My hands have freckles on them, on top of the tan. I noticed them yesterday and told Wes that I guess I can call them freckles, but if they remain after my tan fades, they'll be age spots. Ha ha.

So, I hope everyone is having as enjoyable summer as I am. I hope people can be serene, even when crappy stuff happens like cars not starting. I don't particularly feel stressed about that buggaboo, but my back is hurting, so I'm thinking I am stressed and my back is telling me so.

I think one of the biggest challenges for me is keeping up my prayer rule during the summer.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Just Not a Very Great Day

So, today was my husband's company pic-nic. Oh joy. It was being held at this place called Renaissance Fun Park, which has absolutely nothing to do with either the Renaissance, Fun, or ...well, if a park is a nice place with green and shady trees, no park either. It had mini golf, go karts, and a very loud arcade...and a pavilion with loud speakers and music and horrid catered food.

As we entered the place, our hands were stamped and we each got a small cup full of tokens. The kids took off into the din of iniquity to gamble away their tokens and I played a game of pin ball and a very short game of Ms. Pac Man. There were other things, too and it was all very noisy. I could hardly stand it and I could practically see the place being such a sensory overload that there would be a melt down at some point by one or another of my more sensitive kids.

Soon enough we ventured out to the pavilion where lunch was being catered. Our food options: Barbeque chicken or pork, potato salad, corn on the cob and brownies with nuts on top. To drink: tea and lemonade, all of which contained sugar, caffeine, or both.

I was mad about the food choices. Normally his company is very good about providing a vegetarian option and I HAD been planning on eating lots of veggies. No veggies to be had. Potato salad and corn are not veggies. They are merely yellow foods that make a body fat. I was really hungry, so I had to eat. I ate some of what was there.

Then the girls wanted to drive the Go Karts, so we went over there. Soon B decided she was too sick to the get behind the wheel of anything. Smart girl. So I took her to find her dad. M rode the Go Karts. Then I did. Then A did, and M again. E was busy playing mini golf by himself. I thought he might like a chance to ride the Go Karts before it was time to go. So I suggested that he go get in line.

Now granted, it was hot, he'd been busy and he does not do well standing up (standing still) for many minutes at a time. He has leg pains. Doctors don't know why. So he cried (Aspie melt down) when he saw the line. I had no patience for his melt down at that point, so Wes waited with him. We assured him that it was just a matter of time, that he'd get his turn soon. I thought he'd be in the next batch of riders. So they waited.

I found B sitting in the hot sun on a bench, practically collapsed from tiredness. She didn't really sleep last night, and we'd interrupted her nap for this fun occasion. I found a shady spot near the go carts where we could sit and we played in the mulch and looked at ants and woodlice while we waited for E to get his ride.

The next group was up. Suddenly I hear a wail. E crying again. I go to investigate. Wes is there with him. Turns out, that Eric was the very next person in line, but that there was no spot for him in this batch of riders. And the man running the thing said this was the LAST group of Appriss people who could ride the go carts.

I WAS SO MAD. They should have blocked the line off at the entrance instead of just telling all these kids who had been waiting in line for so long that they would not get a chance to ride the Go Karts. But no. Just tell them after they are hot and sweaty and waiting for a while. Very nice! E wasn't the only kid crying.

So, NOT a good day for him. I, of course, want to fix it and make it all better, but I can't.

B, meanwhile, wasn't doing well at all and we really had to go, rather than wait around the extra half hour until the place opened to the general public so we could buy E. a Go Kart ride.

E was overheated, very flushed and sweaty with clammy skin. He gets that way. We got drinks and came home. I made homemade pizza for the kids who did not like barbeque or corn on the cob or potato salad (they two youngest), and then I decided that what I needed was some alone time.

So I felt like a nice long slow walk was in order. I decided to go to the zoo. By myself. Yes. I know. I'm weird.

It was OK with everyone (Wes was going to play games with the kids and B was taking a nap) so I took myself off to the zoo for some alone time.

But the zoo was closed. At 2pm on Saturday afternoon????? Darn it, darn it, darn it!!!!!

So I decided to check out a consignment shop my friend keeps telling me about, which I did. It was OK but not wonderful...but really the shop was fabulous, the not wonderful part was me and my fat body. So I went to goodwill and found some shirts for Wes and a bland and boring beige fat person sized hoodie sweater for me this fall. Oh joy.

Then I was completely tired and achy. So I came home and crawled into bed. Fell asleep for a while, and woke up feeling the full force of fibromyalgia upon me. Stayed home from Vespers creeping around the kitchen, I managed to fix dinner instead. (Tuna veggie curry with lemon. I'd done rice in the crock pot before so dinner was quick and easy. I served cut up banana slices and raisins to go with it. Nice complementary flavors.)

I really struggled today, with the food thing. I know this much: Sadness and disappointment makes me want to eat. Restlessness makes me want to eat. Boredom makes me want to eat. It being Saturday makes me want to eat. And when I'm tired and achy from fibro, that makes me want to eat. Going through all these negative emotions and physical pains today I realize it was the perfect storm for some utterly unrestrained food gobbling. I managed, by God's grace, to mostly restrain myself. It is a battle. A real struggle.

I think it's on days like today that the rubber meets the road with our spiritual struggle in life, and it sure is NOT very glamorous.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Thinking about High School Home School

Lots of people get scared when it comes to home schooling their High School level student. For many kids, this is a good time to transition to a more traditional schooling method. For some kids, it's the BEST time to be home schooling. Anyone who survived high school as a nerd has I'm sure spent at least of little bit of time imagining life without the pain of a traditional High School. I know I can.

So, next school year, I will have two kids in High School. B's been doing what she can the past couple of years, and I'm proud to say she has gotten some work done...four credits so far. So she's behind, but not as far behind as she might otherwise be. She's been very very sick. But I actually think she'll catch up.

Yesterday I decided to write out a high school transcript/list of courses my kids need to complete in order for them to graduate. It really is as simple as ticking off a check list. Most states require 22 credits for high school, a credit being a full year's course. I've seen some places on-line that mention that 120 hours dedicated to a certain subject of interest could also be counted towards high school credit.

So, without further ado, here's what my the transcript for my Home High School will look like:

: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Chemistry 2 (or General/Science)
Mathematics: Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, Pre-Calculus,
History/Social Studies: American History, World History, Government, European History
Language Arts: One Year Adventure Novel, American Literature, British Literature, World Literature w/ an emphasis on writing in all the courses.
Other: Health/Nutrition, Home Economics and Personal Finance (I plan on having the kids familiar w/ all tasks pertaining to running a household, menus, shopping, cooking, laundry care, budeting, solid financial wisdom, basic sewing skills, small home repairs)
Foreign Language: German 1, 2, 3 optional
Other: Religion
Electives to choose from: Calculus, French 1, 2, 3, Computer Programming, Gardening/Horticulture/Botany, Any other subject they want to choose and delve into.

For English, I am working on compiling a master list of literature that I want them to have read, discussed and analyzed, that includes American, British and World literary classics. It will be a weighty pile of books, but once the work is done, it will count for all four levels of English.

In order to do this, I'm going to have to get cracking with reading the required list myself. When I've decided on what it will be, I'll post it here, along with some nifty resourcesby way of on-line links that I"m finding...Cliffs notes and such. I think I can do this. I really do. Especially since at the high school level, if they aren't doing the work themselves, it's too late to be spoon feeding them. My kids are well motivated.

Additionally, I think it's important to keep/create a portfolio at this time. Although the State of Kentucky doesn't require it, I'd like to have a body of work to point to for college application purposes.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Domestic Stuff

We cleaned house yesterday. Me and the kids. From top to bottom. (Well, the decluttering will come later this summer. But everything is in it's place, etc.)

Floors are clean. Walls are clean. Fixtures are clean.

Did I mention my house is CLEAN?????

Love, love, love it.

It will, no doubt, last about half a day, and then someone will spill blueberries on the carpet (which stains we even scrubbed yesterday with great success).

This is one of the biggest reasons I like living like a European in a small apartment.--Not that it's a small apartment, as far as apartments go. It's even bigger (believe it or not!) than our old house. More square feet. I'm not complaining. I guess I have never lived anywhere very large.--at any rate, I LOVE the fact that the kids and I can get this place ship shape in two hours.

Whatever happened to that nifty card file system, you ask? Well, it's around here somewhere, collecting dust. I'm no good at follow through. Perhaps in the pefection of next-year-which-is-not-yet, I will get better at doing it. Or beef up my daily routine to include more than it currently does (and I do have things I do every day, they just don't include cleaning the dirt out from under the washer and dryer).

So, how do I get my kids to help clean house? Well, I make it non-optional, but I also pay them, of course!

We all gather in the living room, where I present them with the dry erase board that contains a list of jobs that need to be done. I break things down into very specific jobs. Instead of "cleaning the bathroom" I list each thing that needs to be done in there separately, for instance.

Then we discuss who does what, and in what order. We write our names next to jobs Then we get to work. When a job is completed, it gets erased. Amazing how fast it goes when the team approach is used.

I've also been trolling around in my schedule for the perfect time to go grocery shopping, and I finally found the time slot that will be least disruptive to everything else that has to be done around here. It's a time when I'm usually just sort of sitting around before I leave for a regular weekly apointment, so getting out the door sooner means I have time to get to Costco witout sacrificing anything but computer time. So that makes me happy! It's funny how schedules need to change sometimes.

Meal ideas....all I ever cook is "mexican" "curry" or "pasta" or "pizza". I guess it could be worse. But it certainly could be better.

Yes, friends, there are deeper levels to me, but this is what I'm willing to share. ;-) Domestic Stuff.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Not What I Expected

I had my plans for today, and I was hoping to take the kids to the zoo after I finished up a wee bit of sewing. The bride whose dress I'm making was scheduled to come over for a fitting of her rehearsal dinner dress, and I wanted her to try on the initial muslin of the wedding dress top, as well.

And I'm sewing along, and the electricity goes out.

That certainly was not what I expected to happen.

But it was OK. I just filled some water bottles, packed some snacks, and we all escaped our dark and bleeping (I'm not using a swear word....electronic devices with computer brains complain loudly with multiple repeated beeping noises when their power is interrupted) apartment for a nice trip to the zoo.

Bethany was in a bad way (neurogolically) today, so I pushed her in the wheelchair while we were at the zoo. Oooof. Two miles, up and down hills...that was QUITE a workout. I can feel it deep in my abdominals, and especially going up those hills works the backside.

Being out in the sunshine, although very hot, was good for us, and the fresh air did Bethany good. And the fresh air and exercise did us all good.

I'm grateful we could go and do that, and I'm also grateful that the bride fit into her dress. I honestly thought I'd have to undo a bunch and take it in some more. Now all I have to do is put in the zipper, hem it up and do a wee bit of hand sewing on the inside to tack down the lining. Lovely, lovely, lovely. And then, I'll spend next week doing the wedding dress. I'm so excited!

In other news, Bethany was very clever today: She decided to wear swimming goggles that I'd just bought while cutting up an onion in the kitchen.

Now that, certainly, was not what I expected!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Unexpected Overnight

Isn't it just so great to drink water after a sweaty workout in the summer-time? I think so. Well, that's just what popped into my head as I sat down here, since I'm using my post-workout cool down to blog a little bit.

We sure had an unexpected grand adventure yesterday! On the spur of the moment I called up some good friends of ours to see if they were doing anything for Memorial day. Since they were sitting around just like we were, and all parties were amenable, we decided to go for a visit. The kids were thrilled. Several BFFs involved in this situation (at least on the part of my kids). So off we went, food in tow for the hour plus drive back to Lex.

Just outside of Lexington, one of our tires blew out. Not just a flat. Like a flat on steroids. Thanks be to God! Wes never did lose control of the car, and we pulled over and got off the interstate, called our friends to pick us up while Wes waited for AAA. Blah blah blah, long story short we had to have the car taken to the shop because the tow guy thought the rim was bent. And the shop was closed until today. So we had to spend the night in Lexington and our friends got to see way more of us than anticipated. And we spent way more money this weekend than we'd planned to.

If we'd have been 25 miles further away and actually hit another car due to our blow-out, AAA would have paid for our hotel. Oh well. If our safety means we pay an unexpected couple of hundred bucks, so be it.

We slept in our clothes. Such fun! Home again now, though. And it was so nice to visit with our friends.

I'm "haven't washed since yesterday morning and I just worked out stinky." I need a shower!