Friday, August 28, 2009

Excitement, Fear, and Fulfillment

Someone told me recently that when I die, I'll be regretting all the things I avoided because I was scared. I've been thinking about that statement a lot since then. It was meant to mean that I didn't have enough fun and excitement, meant to mean that I was too conservative, that my lifestyle couldn't possibly be fulfilling. I'm not sorry (and even grateful) that my life doesn't seem "exciting" to that person. My life is not consumed by weekends on the lake, nights out on the town, and a general feeling of worldly freedom. BUT- my life IS exciting. I'm excited EVERY morning to watch God's hand in my life, to see how He wishes to use me today. It's exciting to watch my kids grow up, knowing that I'm doing my best to raise them in the way of The Cross. Fulfillment- that will come after a lifetime of following God, of walking by faith in spite of worldly temptations to live a life that fits today's definition of exciting.

However, I do worry that I'll someday regret the things I avoided because I was scared. Things like confrontation, standing up for my kids, raising them in Christ. Things like staying away from elements of the world that do not honor Him, that seek to destroy the holiness of marriage. THOSE are the things that I am afraid of, the things I pray each day for the courage to do in spite of my fear, the things that I could never do were it not for my faith in Eternal Fulfillment and my desire to hear,

"Well done my good and faithful servant. Since you were faithful in small matters, I will give you great responsibilities. Come, share your master's joy." (Matthew 25:21)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

GE Profile, How I Adore Thee!


I am in love with my oven! Tonight I made another Minnie Mouse cake consisting of five layers, and I was able to bake it ALL AT ONCE! That's right- I could fit everything in my oven at one time thanks to my double oven. Where I once spent 2 hours baking, tonight I was cooling my cakes in 30 minutes flat, leaving me extra time to edit photos! I never would have afforded this oven were it not an awesome Christmas present from my father-in-law, but I now believe that it is truly worth every cent!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Proactive Parenting

Oh, boy. Today was just one of those days! Little Mister was an angel while we took Great-Grandma shopping, but this afternoon, it was as if he morphed into Dennis the Menace. Really. I felt just like Mr. Wilson, only my Dennis came equipped with screams, hateful yelling, and tears. First a refusal to buckle into his car seat, then a horrible display at martial arts, and just before bed an attempt to swing from the one set of curtains I've hung in my house. I was in rare form today as a result. I'm really out of ideas with this one. We've tried spanking, time out, consequences that fit the misbehavior (draw on sister's walls = no longer allowed in sister's room), the big scary mommy voice, manual labor, talking about why the action is wrong... I've pretty much decided that I'm just not doing enough proactive parenting. I think this one just needs way more hands-on attention than Big Sister did. I'm going to do my best to focus on playing with him more, involving him in my household duties, and generally keeping him busy. After all, idle hands....

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook: August 31st





For Today... August 31, 2009


Outside my window... an overcast day, one that isn't dreary enough to warrant staying indoors but one that makes me want to curl up with a book in a silent house nonetheless.

I am thinking... about my possible trip to California to see my Baby Sister. At first, the idea of visiting without taking my kids (or at least Big Sister) to see their aunt was a little depressing. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about not taking Big Sister to see Hollywood and Hannah Montana's house. I finally decided that the possibility of finding a time to take her (and affording the ticket) was a slim possibility. Now, the research phase...

From the kitchen... Donuts and grapes for breakfast, Salad with turkey, cheese, and German dressing paired with oranges for lunch, and antelope and sides in the works for dinner. Yes, that's right. Antelope. Wish me luck because I have no idea what I'm doing!

I am wearing... Brown athletic pants, a black tank top, and a green athletic jacket. It was 57 degrees in the house this morning and has finally warmed to 65 here at 1:30. Time to wire the central air, I'd say!

From the Learning Rooms... I'm gearing up to begin Little Mister's homeschooling next week! It's only preschool, I realize, but I'm determined to progress in leaps and bounds with him this year! This week is all about organizing supplies for September's lessons.

I am creating... way too many things at once. I've decided I need to focus on one room at a time. This week it's the downstairs bathroom. My dad installed the new countertop and the painting in complete. Now I need to clean up the old medicine cabinet that my grandparents had in there originally, install it and the sconce lights, and scrub and polyurethane the cabinet fronts. It may be more than I can manage in one week!

I am praying... A prayer of thanks for a smooth weekend. With hubby at a conference, it was just the kids and I until yesterday. I survived the normal mothering and housekeeping, a play date for my 9-year-old (complete with a run-in with seed ticks to be dealt with), and dinner at Pizza Hut alone with the 4 kids. Thank you, Lord for the extra energy I had left to edit pictures post-bedtime!

Around the house... 3 loads of laundry through already today, 2 rounds of toy pick-up, 1 sink full of dishes, 1 swept kitchen floor. Still to do- 3 more loads, mopping the kitchen, and cleaning the bathrooms.

One of my favorite things... clear and clean countertops

A few plans for the rest of the week... A play date to make scarecrows, 2 more sessions to edit, lots of errands to run!


Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you...




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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sigh of Relief

I've put it off until the last possible second. I'm about to unplug myself from my dear blog world for a couple days! This is it- the last post I'll create at this desk.




When I walked into our house after day one of carpet installation, I expected to meet the soft fibers, the soft tan color... what I didn't expect to be met with was the surge of relief. I felt it in my heart first, and then I felt myself relax ever so slowly from my neck to my shoulders and down to the feet that were padding around on the floors.









(Little Miss' ballerina room)

I hadn't realized just HOW stressed I'd let myself become over the past 6 months until I physically experienced relief. There were times, more than a few, when I honestly believed that we would be paying for two homes forever! Now, it was finally complete enough to move in. Hallelujah!








(Little Mister's bug room)

The kids were SO excited. Big Sister ran in circles through the rooms singing, "It's a miracle!" over and over. I agreed completely and joined in the victory dance with my own whoops and yahoos and dancing in circles! The kids spent the next half hour wrestling and tumbling on the new carpet. I'd been waiting for four years to have carpet back under my feet for JUST that reason!










(Big Sister's horse room)

Then, I took some quiet time, laid on the floor, and offered thanks and praise to God who made all this possible. I reflected on the wonderful memories of my grandparents that I made under this roof and asked to be given many, many opportunities to share my grandparents with my own kids.


Buyer's Remorse??

I walked my daughter to her 4th grade classroom this morning. I'm so used to seeing first day of school pictures in dress code attire. It seemed so odd to me to polish light pink nails yesterday evening, to iron a bright orange skirt last night, to watch my daughter strap her brown sandals this morning.

At open house on Tuesday evening, I was a little saddened by the new surroundings. It should have helped that her classroom is the very same one in which I experienced my favorite teacher fifteen years ago. It should have helped that her teacher seems really nice, easy to get along with, and most importantly organized. It should have helped to read that spelling tests would be given every Friday instead of whenever it pleased the teacher. All those things helped me later, but at the time, I just saw a missing crucifix, missing prayers lining the hallways, missing statues of the Virgin Mother. I missed God being the center of this experience that will mold my daughter. I'm just not terribly confident in this change of ours. Thank the Lord that we were blessed with 6 years in our dear Catholic school. I just pray that she isn't afraid to wear her faith on her sleeve, to stand up for her beliefs and the truths that she had come to know and trust. I pray that she is equipped to handle the new experiences, backgrounds, and peers that she will meet this year.

It really is going to be a great year. The classroom is wonderful, and I've been assured by my trusted family friend who teaches in this 4th grade that Big Sister's teacher is a wonderful, Godly woman.



Sunday, August 9, 2009

SO CLOSE

It may not look like it, but we're SO CLOSE to moving in! In fact, I packed the first box last night! I said from the beginning that as soon as we had a functional bathroom, a stove, and carpet, we'd finish the rest while living there, and guess what? Carpet goes in TOMORROW, we have a functional bathroom and then some!


Bathroom- just have to add the fixtures! The shower curtain rod is even up.



Little Miss' chandelier- I found a great deal online and can't wait to see it on! The electricity for her room is waiting to be hooked into the breaker box.



The kitchen- a work in progress still, but there's a functioning microwave, stove and refrigerator. The sink and dishwasher will be installed soon! The island counter still needs to be assembled, a few drawer fronts and cabinet doors are waiting for me to purchase screws to replace the ones that went missing since I took the hardware off months ago.


Our living room cleaned and waiting for carpet!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Monster Truck Cake

I make a lot of cakes for girls.
A mother's baby shower, a little girl's birthday, a bridal shower... It's a treat to be able to switch gears and think boy for a change. This cake was requested for a 7-year-old's birthday. All I was told was that he loved MONSTER TRUCKS. First, I had to figure out what in tarnation a monster truck was, what it looked like, and why a 7 year old would like it. Originally, I pictured a muddy road with grass here and there. I always try to add a bit of green to my cakes as I feel like it adds a bit of cheerfulness to the finished product. The more I researched Monster Truck Rallies, the more I realized that there's not really anything cheerful about them! In reality, the truck, hiked up on enormous tires, is the brightest part of the whole affair. SO- I set to work...

At 6:20 I headed to Wal-Mart for supplies and to find a bright, cheerful-ish Monster Truck because, after all, what kid doesn't love to find a toy on his birthday cake? I was pretty disappointed in the selection. NO green on any of the cars close to my desired size. A dozen eggs, two pounds powdered sugar, and a jumbo tub of Crisco would complete my ingredients that were waiting at home.

I stacked two 9x13 cakes for the base. Then I baked two 6 inch round cakes. I leveled the first cake, being careful to save the hump. I topped the leveled cake with the second round and placed in on the 9x13's. Then, I took the round top I'd set aside and placed it on the cake as well.

The great thing about this cake was that I didn't have to be precise, didn't have to worry about a smooth finish. When was mud ever tidy? After covering the entire cake with brown buttercream icing, I ran the truck through a saucer as well. Dragging the monster through the cake resulted in some subtle tire tracks, and I positioned it between my two "hills."

Then I was at a loss- it was definitely missing more than a Happy Birthday message. A research break and a small ball of fondant created the triangle flags, hand-painted with black food coloring. A bit of writing, and before I knew it, it was almost 1 AM... I'm continually amazed that these things take five hours to complete!


A side note-- this was the LAST cake I'll make in my tiny kitchen! The next cake you see from me will be displayed in my new kitchen!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cuteness

This is Little Miss mimicking me this afternoon. I looked that adorable making the face too, right??

Appreciation

I was researching for an upcoming maternity session this afternoon and ran across THIS PAGE.

As a military spouse myself, these pictures tore at my heart. I cannot imagine raising my children without their daddy, but never sharing a day of parenting with my husband would be excruciating. I'm thankful for every day that I have my husband beside me. I appreciate each wrestling match he shares with Little Mister, each "Daddy!" that comes from Little Miss' lips when he comes home, and every request from Big Sister to call Daddy (our go-to science guy) with a science question that I don't know how to answer.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

It's THAT Time of Year Again: Gearing up for School

We're embarking on two new education adventures this year. The first is Big Sister's switch to public education. The second is homeschooling Little Mister's first year of preschool.

I'm very anxious to find out how public education compares to parochial school.
My biggest complaint about the school we left behind was that they were too slow to let poor teachers go. After all, one of the perks of private schools is that they don't have to worry about tenure. My daughter has already said she plans to bring her Catholic prayer book to school every day- and a picture of Mary for the inside of her desk. She's never been one for subtleties, a characteristic that I love about her most of the time.

So far, I'm not terribly impressed with the public school experience. I was told when I dropped my paperwork off last May that I would receive an information packet in the mail over the summer. It was to include the basic information about the school, lunches, etc., and my daughter's assigned teacher. At the end of July, no packet had arrived. I called to verify that I'd submitted all my paperwork and found out then who would be teaching Big Sister this year. Unfortunately, they'd placed her in third grade instead of fourth. Another call to the school fixed that mistake. I learned after questioning further that the school had decided not to mail information packets. Instead, they would publish it in the local paper. I would have never known had I not asked and would likely have missed open house, a night vital to kids new to the school.

Small peanuts? Maybe.

But this is my first experience with the school and does not reflect positively on their organization. I'm praying that meeting her teacher will be a more promising event!

On the flip side, I'm getting very excited to start Little Mister's preschool education! I've purchased a huge book of pre-school lessons centering around each letter of the alphabet, basic numbers, holidays, and everything between. One morning each week he will go to Grandma's for a few hours of reading and writing centered lessons, and another morning I'll work on science and math at home. Both of us will incorporate basic kindergarten readiness skills. Of course, I'll continue to teach my son constantly while we're in the car, cooking, cleaning, or playing outside. Then, we'll be attending story hour at the local library, playing on a soccer team in the fall and spring, and enrolling in martial arts school. Finally, we'll be going on our own field trips throughout the year. The best part is that with a homeschooling schedule that matches the schedule of his friends' preschools, we'll still have time for play dates! I can't wait to begin, and you can be sure to find many reflections from successful (or not so successful) lessons along the way!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Seeds

My husband walked into the renovation after his military drill today. I hadn't had a chance to shower, had paint smeared across my jeans and white ribbed tank, and had been painting for eight hours. He was sitting in the floor catching up with Big Sister and said, "Isn't Mommy cute in her paint clothes?" She looked at me, then back at him with an eyebrow raised. She did NOT see the cute!

I hope that, someday, she remembers that conversation and waits for someone who thinks she's beautiful even when she's sweaty and covered in paint...