Friday, August 31, 2012

Sleep Over!


The Zoo had a family sleep over last night. A friend's husband is away this week, so I took five of our kiddos over to visit, and we stayed aaaaaallllll night.
Eight children had a movie night. They all slept in the same bedroom. They all ate dinner together.
And now. Now they are watching cartoons together.
We sweetened the deal by giving them donuts for breakfast. Smart moms, huh? Eight stinkin' little monsters woke up today hollering about their donuts.
lovely.
Well, that's what we planned for breakfast for them. Don't get all judgmental. We had bananas, too.
We used the donuts as bribery the night before to get the children to stay in bed and be quiet.
Three of them seem to be ethically upright and refused the bribe.
They were subject to a kind, gentle and loving discipline, and missed out on the donut in the morning.
bummer.
Now they are whining for a donut.
good grief.
If we do this again, they are getting gruel for breakfast.
no, really.

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It's Not Fair!


There's a phrase that is uttered in our house about every 10 minutes. It's the children's favorite phrase. They see determined to teach it to the younger children, and the sooner the better!
"It's not fair!" can be heard at nearly any time of the day. It is sometimes attached to a happening of significance, but most often, it's tagged onto just about anything.
Someone got one bite more of ice cream than someone else? "It's not fair!"
Somebody got to stay up later than someone else? "It's not fair!"
Somebody got to ride on an errand with Mom or Dad and someone had to stay home? "It's not fair!"

It has been my experience as a leader of children, that the thought process that takes place before blurting "It's not fair!" is short and unreasonable.
Someone realizes, in a flash, that they missed out on something. Often it is something they wouldn't have cared about much had they been calm and processed the situation, but they shout the about the mistreatment anyhow.

One of situations that happens most often at TheZoo is the cry of injustice when a younger sibling is receiving what is thought to be preferential treatment. The two yo gets a snack, but the older children don't. The older group of kids has been instructed on the metabolism differences in the body of a baby as opposed to that of an older child.  The older group of kids knows the schedule for food consumption.  They are aware that there is breakfast at 7, snack at 10, lunch at 12, snack at 3, dinner at 6. What lucky kids, they get to consume something FIVE times a day!
However, when the baby is growing and appears to need more calories than she did last week, and I accommodate, there is a bigger kid there just waiting to let me know that they are also still growing.
How unhappy they are when I offer them one slice of cheese and half a banana!

Sometimes the complaint is when children are divided up into who goes and who stays.
Mr. TheZoo can carry only two kiddos with him in his truck. The ZooMama can carry everyone else, and usually does. On occasion, I don't want to take children with me. Shocker, right?

Here's another shocker. Sometimes we tell our kids that sometimes life isn't fair.
*gasp*
If everyone had the same everything, then our experiences wouldn't be any different. We wouldn't have stories to tell. We wouldn't have art to express ourselves with. We wouldn't have the option of choosing anything.

The two biggest kiddos are moving past the "It's not fair!" stage. They are more understanding, and tend to think things through more thoroughly. The next three are in the throes of declaring what is fair and what isn't, and the next two are quickly learning that they are missing out on things.

I often feel as though I teach the same things to my children over and over. I do. I really do, but not they way I find myself stressing about it. There are seven children here, and my repetition is only for a time with each child, it's just that it IS with EACH child.

Sometimes things aren't fair. It can't be the same for everyone. Sometimes you earn more, sometimes you earn less, sometimes you have grace or a blessing, and sometimes you are happy for someone else's grace or blessing.

I hope I always remember this myself, as I teach my children.

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Mondays

Mondays. I don't hate them.
I know, wierd, right?
Mr. TheZoo is home on Mondays.
That often means a great big grand slam breakfast made at home, by Mr. TheZoo.
It means I get to sleep in, even after the children are getting out of bed, because there is another adult in the house that can do what needs to be done.
It means snuggle time with all the kiddos. Because there are two laps and four arms.
Please excuse the super short post this morning, I'm still snuggling.


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Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Laundry/Time Continuum

I'm writing today's post last night. Well It's still tonight. Thursday night.
Mornings the early hours are usually reserved for drinking prayer, coffee and blogging. Well, okay, and Craigslist. Fine, and Facebook and Pintrest. THIS Friday morning, however, will be spent sorting, folding and putting away clean laundry.
Why THIS Friday morning? I'll tell you why. It's because I didn't do it before friday morning.
That is all.
I just didn't do it.
I did a full week's worth of laundry earlier this week. You know how many loads a full week's worth is? Roughly 15 loads. That's if I didn't wash any bedding. But there was still more. While those 15 loads were washing and drying, people were still wearing clothes. And using towels.
I thought it was warm enough this week to drip dry, but no one else in the house agreed. I guess the air conditioner had something to do with it.
*sigh*
I know better. I really, really do. BUT. Sometimes I want a break. You know? So I take the break. Then, I catch up.
Really, one day soon there will be enough 'biggers' in my house to handle the immediate need chores without me once in a while.
I'm not just willing that day to come too soon, but I know when it does arrive, I will exhale.
Right before I suck in another agonized breath in realization that my 'littles' are 'biggers' and that their time at home is that much shorter.
I'm so glad I have to spend the morning sorting and putting away laundry.


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Friends. Do You Have Some?



Friends. Do y'all have them? I don't mean acquaintances. I'm not talking about the people that you only see at church on Sunday morning. Co-workers that you never associate with outside of work don't make the cut, either.
I am talking about people that know you. The ones that you share the nitty gritty, warts and all, real you with. The people that you know and love anyway. The people that you trust, and that trust you. The people that tell you when you are stupid, that love you through the stupid, and that give you a hand up into smart.
Do you have those people?
If not, are you searching for them? Are you working on BEING one of them?
I have a hard time sharing myself. Yeah, I write a blog, and I share some of myself here. It's kind of a safe place, because-well-I can't see you.
If you were sitting in my kitchen with a cup of coffee, I'd probably spend most of our conversation being funny, or looking into my coffee or down at the floor if I actually needed to confess something, or confront someone.
Oh, terrible, awful, horrible confrontation. I have a friend that has made it clear that if I need to tell her something, you know, important, I need to make it perfectly clear. No subtlety.  I need to come right out and say "Shut up, stupid!"
Do you have any idea how freeing that is for someone like me?
I used to believe that I have a dislike for confrontation because I am reserved and don't like to argue.
I now know that I hate confrontation because I am timid and I don't want people to dislike me.
It has been far more important to me that someone think well of me, then that I speak up when they are saying or doing something destructive.
To know that I can tell someone who loves me regardless to 'stop it!' or to 'shut up!', gently and in love, of course, and I will still be loved is nothing short of amazing.
I take criticism pretty well. I'm a teachable person. If I was wrong, and you tell me so, I'll probably feel stung, sure. Who likes being told they are wrong? I will, however, consider it in prayer and in context, and learn from it. Will I thank you for it? Maybe. I'd love to be able to say I absolutely will every time in every situation, but gosh, admitting that I was wrong is tough. Obviously another character trait I need to work on.

Friends. Get one!

P.S.
I will be working through Girl Talk: Getting Past the Chit Chat by Jen Hatmaker. It's tough for me to get together on a weekly basis with women, because I educate my kids at home and I have lots of 'em in a little house. My proposal is to work through this study with women via email, or facebook chat, or both.
The link I provided is to the Amazon hard copy for the book. It is also available on Kindle, and Nook and through Barnes and Noble.
Please email me at zoomama7@gmail.com. This email is set up for this blog only.
Looking forward to getting to know you!

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

He's FIVE Today!

Who's FIVE today?


This guy!
I might be most exited about fifth birthdays.
It seems to be the ones that kids get most excited about first.
They count down the days on the calendar, they plan and plan and plan what kind of cake they will have what they want for dinner.
They believe that something magical will happen when they turn five.
It sort of does. They are now old enough to go to school. And, usually, ZooMama is incredibly excited that another child has hit a milestone and is that much closer to being a 'big kid'.
But this time...there are only two more kiddos behind this one. Only two more fifth birthdays. This is my fifth baby to turn five.
Gah! No more on that sad little note!
 Here, let me tell you a little bit about this fantastic five year old.
His name is Andrew. I have given all of my children names that are easily shortened into nicknames. It's been a thing for me. It's important to me that a child be able to identify themselves with names that 'fit'. The nickname that is for home, the name that the people closest to them use. The name that is for the bank, the name is that is for interviews and documents.
Somehow, Andrew was never nicknamed. We tried out 'Drew'. That didn't stick. We tried out 'Andy'. That didn't work, either. Somehow, we look at that sweet boy, and unanimously, or family decided that he IS an 'Andrew'.  He's also 'Pumpkin' and 'Bubba'.
Andrew is already studious. You know those preschoolers that want desperately to be able to read, write, and add before school begins? Yep, he's one of those.
He also knows what to wear. No kidding. He has been picking out his own clothes for two years. The child dresses himself well. He still becomes attached to a strange article of clothing from time to time, like most kids, but he always matches!
This kid is gentle. He loves babies and animals and making friends. He always has a hug for mom.
He also stands up for people, sometimes fiercely! He is quick to defend someone if he believes there's an injustice.
Andrew takes care of his toys, hoards junk mail, loves to have boxes and containers of any kind for keeping anything in and I never have to tell him to put on socks with his sneakers.
I love that kid!
Now, to go prepare that special request birthday meal. Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches. I know, rough one, right?


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Friday, August 17, 2012

When People Don't Like Your Kid Pt.2



It has become terribly important to me that I share a part two on the subject of my kid being unlikeable.
I told you about the heartache of most people not liking my kid. I shared about how painful it is for my boy as he begins to realize that parents don't want his influence on their children.
I need to also share with you that we do have the support of a few people that love my boy.
They work together with Mr. TheZoo and I to nurture this boy into a man. The kind that will be responsible for his own actions. The kind that will grow up with character that reflects kindness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control. The kind that pray for my boy. The kind that take a moment out to speak to him, letting him know that his thoughts, opinions, and words - his very voice-matter.
These people 'get' my family and my son. 
Let's be honest, here. It just isn't feasible, or even reasonable to explain the facets and dynamics of my son to everyone we meet. It would be perfectly ridiculous to expect everyone to take the kind of time it takes to get to know and care about my son on a personal level.
So, I don't. Further, I make it a point not to judge people that don't understand my son. I know, big of me, right?
I don't take it as a personal affront if people don't want their children playing my boy. I don't get offended if you would rather not hang around with me because you don't understand my son. If you don't know us very well and you assume that he is just undisciplined, I don't despise you.
I should say, though, that if I feel my boy is being attacked because of lack of understanding, I will very likely rise to the occasion and defend him. I'd like to say I would respond with a gentle, loving attitude. I'd like to believe that. 
We are blessed to belong to a church family. A body of Christ. In our local gathering, there are people that genuinely love God, and love others.
These are the people that love my son, too.
I hope you find yours. They are there.

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Allergic to What?


2 yo has a rash. I know, kids get rashes all the time. I'm used to seeing them. 98% of the time, with our brood, the rashes are eczema related. I've come to recognize lots of rashes based on where they show up, how the spread, and what the bumps and colors look like.

BUT. A rash that starts as a ring around the neck and moves to the upper arms, avoiding the shoulders all together, is somewhat strange.
So, we went to the doctor's office. Well, our pediatrician is on vacation. The other pediatrician is pregnant and on half days, so we were redirected to walk in. We got to see one of my favorite doctors ever. I don't know how he'd feel about having his name in a blog, so I won't put it. We'll call him Dr. S.  Dr. S is great friends with a local pharmacist and he has a fantastic personality. He jokes about everything, including a possible zombie apocalypse. I selfishly hope, for my families health, that Dr. S is ageless and never ever retires.

While checking out the 2 yo, the 3 yo was up on the end of the exam table, watching everything.
When Dr. S was done, and walking over to the computer for notes, he put his stethoscope on three yo's head, then kept moving. 3 yo gave me a questioning look. So I said it. You know you would have, too. "He was checking for brain activity". I know. Mom of the year, right?!  Dr. S said "Didn't find anything." To which 3 yo replied, (I'm not even kidding here) just like the straight man in a comedy routine should, without laughter, hand on chin, leaning on table "That's funny."  omigoodness!!!! Dr. S and I had a nice big laugh!

Oh, the rash. You must be wondering. Dr. S. called it, in his professional opinion, a 'mystery rash'. Bring her back if it spreads, we don't want to do unnecessary blood work on the little ones.
We went back home, slathered her down in sunscreen and took her outside to play.
Guess what? The rash got worse.
Sunscreen allergy? I didn't realize there was such a thing. I didn't realize how many petrochemicals there are in sunscreen. I guess I never bothered to read the label.
Gosh. Now I'm on the hunt for hypoallergenic sunscreens for her.
Has anyone tried anything they just love? I need to know. They aren't inexpensive!



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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Best Laid Plans?



And so I have done it yet again. I have waited until the last moments to put together some major thing. Though I have enrolled the school aged children into the classes they will be taking at the Parent Partnership Program, I haven't written out the learning plan for their at home classes. Except for one.
Mr. TheZoo and I wrote out the learning plan for the entire year for a class HE will be teaching! We are calling it "Automotive Basics". Three of the children will participate in this class which will include everything from keeping your vehicle clean, to performing a tune up.
We live in a state that doesn't offer Driver's Education in school. What is up with that? Home School Driver's Ed courses are also unacceptable. The only way to have a 16 or 17 yo licensed driver is to pay for driving school, and present a certificate of satisfactory completion at the DMV.
We're just getting a jump start on the vehicle training. It seems that our teens won't be driving on their own until they are 18.
Did you hear that? It was our wallet and insurance company breathing a collective sigh of relief!

Now, I still need to write up the literature, American History, and one more elective course for the 11th grade year. I need to write up specifically what we will cover each month for the entire year, and how progress will be evaluated. I may not offer up a general overview, I must provide minute detail, and I may not deviate from it without exhaustive explanation.
Fortunately, American History is what it is and doesn't change. Oh, wait. Did you just LOL right along with me? We won't be using any current public school text books. Rather, we'll be researching speeches and writings by the founders of the USA.

As for literature, I'm still deciding which books to read. There are so many fantastic pieces that I'd love to have my children read. I'm caught between wanting my 11th grader to read so many books, or having her read fewer books and evaluate each one.
Ultimately, I am hoping for a book club type of experience between the two of us, with a written report on each book exploring specific topics.

Last, that Culminating Project. I have researched this all summer. Fortunately for me, a check list lady, our PPP put together requirements in a color coded checklist! Hooray! Now I can make my own checklists and outlines and make sure that I am guiding the 11th grader with actual direction!

This year, there are FOUR school age kiddos around here. That's more than half!
Here's to sniffing pink pearl erasers and losing 273 pencils!

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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Staying Cool!

How to beat the heat in the back yard. When Mom won't  buy a swimming pool.
 Eat popsicles!!!

 Stick your head in the sprinkler.




Make your own pool out of a sinkhole in the yard.
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Monday, August 13, 2012

Time Out!


There was a day last week when things were all topsy turvy here with attitudes and sibling fights. It was nuts. So, we did something we don't generally do unless I am sick. We watched movies and ate 'snacky' food all day. Here's what it looked like:
It was a quiet hour and a half. Three times.
Thank goodness!


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Friday, August 10, 2012

Painting Is Done!



We painted kid rooms this week.

There was a giant gash in the wall that was hiding behind some shelves. I forgot it was there. We painted around it and are continuing to 'forget' it is there.
 This is how we stored everything while we were painting, and the beds are moved to the center of the room.
 He was begging to help. Begging, I tell you.
This girl so so good at stuff. So thrilled to have a happy helping teen!

 This is the girl's room. Window sill, mop board in "Orangeen" and wall in "Quilting Bee." Those sheers are from Ben Franklin's a couple of years ago when they were clearance priced at the beginning of fall.
 This is the closet (obviously)where teen drew a frame around and we painted it in. We are currently looking for a curtain of some type to hang there.
 The grey doesn't show up very well in the boy's room. They have the grey shade called "Route 66" and stripes and trim in 'Orangeen'. The big stripe shows up between the bunk beds.
The narrow stripe is above the door frame. These are the shelves that are hiding the...never mind, I forgot.
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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Doing Hard Things


I hate exercise. With a passion. I put so much energy toward hating exercise, that I sometimes feel as though I don't even need to exercise. How have we come to a place that we have so much ease in our lives that we even NEED to make time in our day for exercise.
Thinking back to my late teens and early 20's, I wasn't a lightweight. Really, I was 5'9" and weighed in at 175 lbs. I rode a bicycle most places, walked to an from a lot, swam, and lifted weights with a friend at the local YMCA. My jobs were physically challenging. People would actually comment on my muscular thighs.
Then, I moved. I now live in a place that is cold and wet for most of the year, and small towns here aren't the same as they one I lived in before. I can not do all of my business in this little town. There is no way I would be able to walk to the grocery store and haul groceries home on a bike here. I live a few miles up a rural road from the closest grocery option.
When I first moved, I didn't miss walking and biking every place. I would still walk on my own time, but after a bit, I found that I was commuting to work, sitting at work, commuting home, sitting a a child's soccer practices, and sitting in front of the tv. The most physcial activity I had was participating in a bowling league. There's a lot of sitting there, too.
Then I began having babies.
When I was younger, I could eat whatever I wanted whenever I wanted too, because I burned it off. I didn't realize that was what was happening though, until I started packing on the pounds.  I gained 90 lbs with my first baby. Yes, really. Then I lost 60. That still left me with 30 extra lbs. Let me tell you, being tall allows a person to hide extra weight in clothes. Since my problem areas are my belly and upper thighs, I could hide those pretty well with jeans and sweaters. Perfect for the weather where I live!
More pregnancies helped me pack on more weight. Pretty soon, my legs and rear began to thicken, then my neck and chin. Oh my. Noticing that actually brought me to tears.
I have tried some weight loss programs before. Some pretty expensive ones. They were promising, a couple of them were really great programs, but out of my budget.
I joined gyms, but I would go for a month or two only to find out I was newly pregnant once again. *sigh* So I'd quit, promising myself I'd join again.
Then I found a woman that has 12 kiddos, homeschools, and looks great. She has an organized but casual lifestyle, and her family hasn't been wealthy. Like us here at TheZoo.  She also went from a size 22w to a size 6. I've seen her photos. So, I check out her system.
I've been using it for week. My teen daughter has been participating with me. This is great, because I need accountability. I have also been posting my progress on facebook, again because I need the accountability.
So, in a week I have lost 6 inches of body fat. I am gaining muscle. I know this to be true because, guess what? My arms get tired just from folding laundry. This isn't a joke about how much laundry we have. It's true. My arm strength has always been awful. I could press 300 lbs with my legs no problem, but it was torture to get anything more than 20 lbs on the weight machines with my arms. I am not kidding. 
My daughter has lost 8 1/2 inches. She is so excited!
We have come up with "The Can Plan". We put our spare change and dollar bills when we are able to in a coffee can so that, in six months, if we have lost any dress sized (I think we will!) We can go on a shopping spree. Maybe buy a piece of clothing that we wouldn't have worn at our previous body size. She doesn't have far to go, but I do. I'm guessing it will take 18 mos to 2 years to get back to where I was at age 20. That's okay.
My goal is two dress sized in six months. The whole mess of mass is too lofty a goal to not be broken down into pieces.
I'm looking forward to sharing a success story!


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Monday, August 6, 2012

When People Don't Like Your Kid.


I had to do something incredibly difficult yesterday. It was heartbreaking, actually.
It was definitely one of the toughest parenting moments I have encountered to date.
Here's how it began:
9 yo: Mom, did you talk to our friends about a sleepover?
Me: I sure did, we're working out details. I let you know what happens.
11 yo: How come they have sleepovers and friend visits all the time and I never do?

This is where I had to keep from crying, mostly because I was driving at the time.
My heart squeezed, and I truly did not want to answer him.
I thought for a few moments, trying to organize thoughts and make sure that what I said was as gentle and loving as possible.
It's incredibly difficult to come up with a kind way to tell someone that "People don't like you"
I have come up with 'reasons' for him for a few years. "There just aren't any boys your age at church", "Well, your friend's parents are so much busier than we are." "I just don't know that boys' parents". "Our house is so small, with all the people that live in it, that it's difficult to have people over, so folks think we are unfriendly." (And, may I point out, THAT *is* true).

But mostly, the worst, most terrible part is, that parents don't like my son.
Actually, if he were someone else's son, I might not like him, either.
He struggles with anxiety, coupled with a form of highly functional autism.
What this means to parents, is that when there is a disagreement or a misunderstanding, he becomes angry. When adults cut him off, he believes that they just aren't interested in the truth, and he becomes indignant. His face will turn red, and he will cry, perhaps stomp a foot, or yell out in frustration.
He used to get into trouble for hitting other children. In fact, when we were in the discussion phase of discipline during these times, it generally turned out the the other child had called him a jerk or stupid or some such thing.  That didn't excuse his behavior. Not by a long shot. We will not take our anger out on other people! The problem here, is that because he lashed out, the other child was never spoken to about name calling or whatever it was, because no one really knew, and even if they did, there was such an uproar over the physical attack, that the offending remark was never addressed.
Not only this, when it would happen at church, especially, every single helpful man would circle around and pepper my son with 'wise words' and tell us, his parents, who live with the boy, how to handle the situation.
Do you suppose that eased the child's anxiety? Nope. Not one bit. Did it ramp it up? Sure did! And Mom's, too. In fact, I came sort of unglued at the well meaning group at one point. There were apologies all around. They weren't trying for judgmental, they were trying for helpful. It just...wasn't

So, a few years later, here we sit. Because he is still learning how to handle life, the same as any other kid, *and* is learning how to have some control over out bursts and reigning in passionate behavior such as anger, he doesn't have friends, really.

I wouldn't want to deal with those issues in someone else's child. It's difficult. There are things that you only know about him by living with him, that might assist in diffusing a situation.  There is discipline that must be repeated over and over.

I mentioned, in another post about my son, that he has come such a long way in the last 5 to 6 years. This is true BUT, he's bigger now. He's pre-teen. Hormones are changing, he notices more and more that people steer clear of him. He is truly beginning to have heartache over his friendless status.  And I die inside every time he asks about it.
And so, I finally told him. I told him that people don't understand. That we can not explain to every parent of every potential friend how things are with him. That it isn't their job to make their children be his friend. That he must first learn how to be a friend.

I want to put him in my lap, cuddle him, and tell him that his dad and I will be his friends. That we will always be there for him. That he doesn't need to every think about being along.
But, that would be a lie.
Please, pray with me that we will teach him well, to use the tools at his disposal to be calm, to be kind, to be gentle, and to know when to walk away and let some offense or issue go.
Please, pray with me that he will be rewarded with good friends. That others will come to love my son.
Thanks.

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Chick-Fil-A


So, the title got you here, right? You wanted to know what I have to say in regards to a business owner making his personal opinions public when he was asked direct questions during an interview.  You want to know whether you are going to link to my blog to support your position, or whether you will link to my blog as some inane drivel by yet another conservative christian.

Here's the thing. I don't want to be known as a conservative christian. I don't want to be knows as a liberal christian. I don't want to be known as a republican christian. I don't want to be known as a democrat christian.

I want to be known as someone that loves Jesus, reveres God, and does what I can to share God's love.
I want to be known as someone that has convictions and stands by them.

I'm going to say something here, and people might not like it.


How many people participated in 'Support Chick-fil-A Day'? You did? Super.
You got up, stood in line for hours and spent money on food that isn't good for you and brought it home for your family. Great.
Tell me, how does that communicate love? Now, some wealthy business owner is wealthier today.
That's really very nice. Great.
When is the last time you stood for hours serving someone?
How many of you engaged in earnest prayer while you were supporting a fast food business? Just wondering.
I'm not here to tell you that you were wrong. It's great to see all the photos of thousands of people showing up to a food service business to show solidarity. Now what?
Do we go home all fat and happy licking the sauce off our face and call it good?
I sure hope not. Now that our bodies are nourished, let's go spend those dollars and all that time on service. 
Are you offended? No? Don't worry, I'll probably get to you tomorrow.





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Time for Something New!



So, I want to decorate my house again.
It used to be decorated. Then. We had children. I don't mean one or two. Or even three. Really, even with four it was still decorated. It was when the fifth one came, that we began clearing shelves of cute little tchotchkies and do-dads, and started filling them with other things. Baby gear, school books, refrence books, places to keep scissors and markers from little hands, plastic plates and cups. Toys, movies, video games, and anything to be kept away from small hands began moving upward.
We live in a teeny-tiny house (remember the 'Tiny House' posts?). Most of the children's items are kept in their bedrooms *but* there are four children in one room, and three in another. After beds and clothes, there isn't much room left for stuff. To be fair, the children don't really have much 'stuff', because of the space issue. What they do have, we store carefully and creatively.
If you have small children that have learned to climb, then you know how amazingly difficult in can be to keep some things out of small hands.
Some items just move higher and higher up. After a bit, our house was confusing to look at. Tops of shelves crammed with items, while the bottoms were almost bare.
Now, most of the children are 'big kids'. There's still a group of preschoolers and toddlers, but they are growing up! The youngest is two. She's just now getting into her sisters' lip glosses and her brothers' legos. She is smart enough to realize that if it is out of her reach, it's probably fun to play with.
Well, a few things have prompted me to want to decorate again. One of those things is Pintrest.
I know, right?!?!?
Another one of those things is a plant. It's an umbrella tree. I've had it for ages. When I first got it, it was in a little four inch pot. It was for my office at work. Okay, it was a cubicle with a shelf. So, about 12 years ago, this little plant was about six inches high. When I brought it home, it was about a foot high. It was re-potted several times over the years until it was big enough to have to sit on the floor. Then, we brought home a puppy. We also had a crawling baby. That was baby number 4.
Between the puppy and the baby, that plant was knocked over four times. The last time, the puppy ate most of the leaves. I tried to save the plant, but it was mostly dead. I took one good branch, and shoved it in the soil, hoping. It took root and grew. It's been sitting in my kitchen window for the last seven years. Now, the tallest branch is about six inches from the ceiling. And it needs to be re-potted. Into a bigger pot. That will probably sit on the floor.
Lastly, I'm tired of looking at the walls and rickety shelves in my photos. The wall behind the dining table, where our family celebrates every birthday and holiday, is full of dry erase marker scribbles. Did you know that dry erase marker doesn't 'dry erase' off of walls? It doesn't even wet erase off of them. It doesn't come of with magic eraser or rubbing alcohol. It doesn't come off with copious amounts of elbow grease. It does come off with the paint.

Here's what I want. Sort of.
(I found this image on pintrest with no website link or mention of who the photo belongs to)
I like the idea of the above image. I like birds and birdcages, I like a vintage look. The problem with this is that it's so...light.
A tiny house with seven kids doesn't treat such light coloring well.
The Shabby Chic look is what I want, but...different. I want less white, more color. But. I have always used some shade of green and red. Except for that first apartment where everything was mauve and blue. Hey, it was 1993, and I was a college student.
I still like reds and greens. But I want a change. I want teal and orange. No, really. I do! Or Yellow. Maybe some purple.
I don't want country, I don't want Tuscan, I don't want lodge. I want cottage. I want that distressed neglected look, because, well so much in my house really is distressed and neglected!

Check out this kitchen. (photo from chicanddeco.com) Look at the table and the bench. Seriously. I wouldn't even have to work hard to make items look distressed like this. I could just paint them, set them in the house, and allow the children to use them.
Help! What colors! I need to be done with the red and green scheme, but I'm not willing to go all white and pink. Grey is good, Grey? Stone colors. With pops of brightness. I think. I hope.
Maybe in a few months, when I've had my way with the paint and furniture, I'll be able to show you my own photos of an updated, distressed, neglected, shabby house...

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What I Hoped to Write


There was a time, in high school, where I knew I wanted to write.
Something. I used a journal, but because I thought life was boring, my journal was, too.
I enjoyed writing essays, but disliked writing essays that required me to over think what another author meant when they wrote something. I would always imagine this author sitting at home, reading these essays, and thinking "Yes, there was a political climate, and I had an opinion about it that comes through in my book. Yes, there was a coming of age issue, because that is what happens in life. It's what makes some stories interesting and carries them along. Yes, I used some analogy, but not at every paragraph! There is a major theme, and an underlying theme, but please don't read something in to the way I described someone's eyes as being blue. I just meant that she has blue eyes. That I was mesmerized by them, and the way I can tell you that is to describe her eyes. It doesn't mean that war is imminent!
It must be said, that 9th grade grammar review frightened me off of writing. I love words, but I don't love grammar. I mean, I can see when something sounds right when I read it in my mind, but I can't tell you all the rules of grammar.
Also, digging into some of the books we read in high school put me off of writing.
We read some incredibly dark and brooding books. It isn't that I thought life was all sunshine. I knew better, I just wondered if there was any author, anyplace, that ever wrote anything that wasn't angst and deprivation. I didn't get to Shakespear's comedies until college.
What I wanted to write most, were skits for Saturday Night Live. I know, lofty goals, right?
Turns out, it's a tough gig to get!
I was watching reruns of SNL, not whatever was on at the current time. The show was truly funny. Gilda Radner, Steve Martin, Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin, Chevy Chase. These were funny people.
The Movie 'The Three Amigos' (with Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, etc.) topped my list for funny stuff.
My media influences at this point were the Disney Channel and Nickelodian. I had younger siblings, and this is what they were allowed to watch. Late night movies included Pollyana and Beach Blanket Bingo. I still like Annette Funicello. I really do.
So, I made up the skits in my head. I never wrote them down.
When I found a friend that didn't think I was positively insane for talking through an entire made up skit, I would indulge and go with it. Bouncing ideas around with others is great!
I gotta tell you, though, most people think it's nuts.
Then, when I graduated college, worked a full time job, and had Saturday nights free, I would sometimes watch the current SNL (what was current for 1994).
I was no longer enchanted.
What the folks wrote as funny skits. Well. They weren't. Not to me.
I don't know of the USA just ran out of truly funny people for a while, or if someone told the funny people that being funny isn't a real job. I just know that they weren't on SNL.
My dream died.
I didn't want to write the kind of comedy that was being aired.
It was awful. Really awful.
There were some incredibly funny characters, there could have been hilarity everywhere with them. But what happened?
So, after several attempts at writing fiction, here I sit writing blog posts.
I have written poetry.
In fact, two poems that I wrote as pure drivel, to send off to a publishing company, just to prove that they would publish absolutely anything, were indeed published.
I have written lots of parody. That's pretty fun.
Now, I still want to write. Something.
And I still don't know what it is.
I fill notebooks with ideas. I outline, I draw circles, I doodle.
There are lists of ideas, entries of some phrase or story line jotted down so it wouldn't be forgotten, and still nothing solidifies.
I have children. Bunches and bunches of  them!
I have a house to tend to. Their education. When will I find time!
Yes, I know there are authors that have children and still find time to write.
At what expense, I wonder?
Will the children grow having known their mother? Or just knowing that there mother was a successful author?
There are women that write whose husband's schedules are flexible and are able and willing to help.
My husbands schedule is inflexible. He needs to be there on the days scheduled, and that is that.
My computer sits on the kitchen counter. There is no quiet space in this tiny house.
So, I continue to write in this blog.
For now, I will be satisfied that there is a place to write. A place where I can share my thoughts, even though sometimes they are still a mystery to you.
Someday, my 'life season' will change. And there will be a book.
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