Sunday, March 8, 2015

Seven Things Sunday

1. This is what the first week of March seems to look like in central Ohio. *sigh* We are all so ready for spring and no more snow and ice. BUT, at least the sun is beginning to emerge and the cement gray skies will go away until next late fall finally. Oh happy day!

2.  And this is what a math test looks like at our house lately. A few months ago we switched over to an online math curriculum called ALEKS. It has made math time during the day a much happier experience. When I read the reviews about the program and it talked about how motivated kids were by a pie chart, I confess I did not believe it. But it's totally true! Caleb checks his pie chart all the time to see what he needs to work on to make pieces bigger. It's bizarre to me, but I'm really glad it's working for him!

3. I made my last payment at the hippie-commie preschool this week. Sad to be done being there daily, but Lilyanna is so excited to go to Kindergarten in the fall, that it feels right.

4. On Friday, we had the wonderful pleasure of meeting up with some friends that we were young marrieds with back in our pre-kid days in the Perth Amboy Branch. Serving together in that branch forged a friendship probably stronger than it would have been otherwise (seriously, refiner's fire, people!!), but we sure are glad that we get to touch base with them every few years! Our kids are such compatible ages, that it makes visiting with them fun for the whole family! Here are the kids (except Benjabooboo who had a choir competition and couldn't make it, and Warren who has his own life.).

5. Oh, and then there was this:
 My BABY turned 15 years old! I sure do like this kid and I'm glad he's mine.

6. I'm just going to leave this picture here and say that there is more to come regarding it.

7. I can't believe how quickly spring break is coming. We have just a few short weeks before our big hike!! Appalachian Trail, here we come!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Seven Things Sunday

1. This week Caleb received his Arrow of Light award from Cub Scouts. His birthday isn't for several more weeks, so he technically has a little time left in Cub Scouts, but we're nearly to the end of our time in Cubs with our own kids. Check out his uniform. As only Caleb can wear it, a shirt from an old pack (so with the wrong numbers on it), shirt untucked, no shirt, kerchief, belt, or even shoes. It reminded me of many moons ago when I went to pick up popcorn from the then Pack Leader. She saw 3 year old Caleb in the van and said, "Oh! I don't think I've ever seen him with clothes on. He's usually just in a diaper." She wasn't exaggerating.

 2. My kids are goofy. This isn't exactly news, but I have photographic evidence of it tonight. Yes, that's Benjamin underneath everyone.

3. Our middle school did a fundraiser at Chipotle this week. It worked out best for me to phone in an order and have Todd pick it up on his way home from work, but when I called they were so swamped, they asked me to do the order online. This I then did. Unfortunately when Todd picked up the food, he was told that because I'd paid online they couldn't credit the fundraiser. I was irked since, we don't eat out hardly ever as a family and certainly wouldn't have that night except for the fundraiser. I sent an email to the corporate offices that night, and by the next morning had both and email and a personal phone call apologizing, and letting me know that they'd credited our school with our bill as well and telling me how much our school had raised. I once heard someone say that you can tell how good a company is by how easy it is to contact them. I'm not sure that's the best measure, but in this case it made me love Chipotle even more than I already did.

4. I cleaned my closet yesterday. I have no before and after pictures, but trust me when I tell you that it was terrifying and now it is not. Now to tackle my nightstand!

5. I've mentioned before that our family quotes Mr. and Mrs, Bunny Extraordinaire. A LOT. After another particularly gut busting evening of laughter of quoting (while reading scriptures, no less. We're bad.), I decided to email the author. I was still high from Chipotle responding to me. Anyway, this was the email I sent:

"Ms. Horvath,
Each year our family sets off across the USA on long road trips. One of our favorite things to do is listen to recorded books. Your books have proved to be some of our favorite. Everyone from the 5 year old to the adults love them. But I have to tell you how much my 15 year old son loves to quote the foxes from Mr. and Mrs. Bunny. He's forever interjecting the word, "Hooman!" into sentences, in just such a way that we all dissolve into laughter.  As communication between a 15 year old boy and his family isn't always an easy thing, I just wanted to thank you for your stories and the laughter that we've all shared and continue to share as a family when we think of some of your characters and their lines.


I went to bed that night not really expecting to hear back from her, but glad that she'd have a nice email to read. I mean I assume that authors like to know that your family loves their characters. Anyway, I'd told her. We were all excited when the next morning this came through:

Dear Ms Smith
What a great letter to start my day.  Thank you for troubling to write it.  And might I say that your fifteen year old son has remarkably good taste.  I wish you and your family many more happy road trips in the years to come.
Polly Horvath

This week has been a great reminder that there are living, breathing people with feelings behind all the "institutions" we tend to think of as nameless and faceless. It has reminded me that before I go using social media to whine or complain, I should remember to try to just find a way to communicate with whomever I am having an issue. 

6. Speaking of social media, someone posted this on a friend's facebook page the other day and it was a balm to my weary soul. I have sung this one several times, but not for many years. I've listened to it several times just today and each time have been grateful for such simple, yet profound lyrics.  I'm so grateful for all those involved in music who share their many talents that we can all feel within us.

7. We had more snow last night into much of today. I was exceedingly grouchy that we still had church this morning. I really want a snow day. One honest to goodness, don't even think about going anywhere snow day.  We've had lots of snow, and lots of cold, but nothing that anyone else seemed to deem worthy of shutting everything down for. Anyway, as I took my little black storm cloud to church with me, I realized that I was probably about to have wonderfully spiritual  church meetings. It seems that when I am grouchiest about being at a church meeting, that is when the spirit is the most present and I therefore have a choice. I need to get over myself and bask in the opportunity to learn and grow, or I can be grouchy and miserable for hours on end. Sunday School today was fantastic. It was the first time in a long time where everything was really clicking. I felt like the entire class was learning and growing together with the help of the Spirit. I suppose in the grand scheme of things that is worth far more than a snow day.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Seven Things Sunday

Phew! This week has been exhausting. Here are 7 things we did this week:

1. Lilyanna went to her friend's birthday party. After 2 days of school being cancelled due to frigid temps, some playtime with friends on Saturday was a blessing. Getting her face painted like her beloved white tiger was a dream come true for her!

2. After 2 days of those aforementioned frigid temps we then got a large snow storm on  Saturday. The roads were awful Saturday morning, but alas, the school district's science day did not get cancelled. Nathaniel was not happy about having to slip and slide through the storm.

3. Friday night was the opening of  the high school's production of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying". Now the last time I saw this show was on Broadway, so I went in with very low expectations. I was pleasantly surprised, though, and enjoyed the show very much. Their Bud Frump was better than the Broadway version, IMO. Benjamin was one of the Junior Executives and in the chorus and had a great time dancing and singing his little heart out. And then Saturday's show was cancelled due to the snow. (NOT THE SCIENCE DAY, just the play. Grrrr.)

4. Earlier in the week, Nathaniel deigned to get his haircut before his audition for his school's production of "The Sound of Music". I took lots of pictures of the process and kept trying to convince him to stop at each phase, because he had kind of a cool emo thing going on. Alas, he didn't think it would be authentic to the period of the play.

5. Nathaniel was cast as one of the children in the Von Trapp family. I believe he was typecast, as Kurt is the incorrigible one after all! ;)

6. All of my careful trip planning for this summer fell apart this week. We were supposed to spend part of our trip this summer visiting our relatives in Spain, but they discovered this week that they have a conflict the only days that we can be there, so in a flurry of fb messages, phone calls, texts, and emails, we managed to purchase tickets for a few weeks from now so we can visit the Spanish relatives in the Western United States while they are visiting other relatives. We're really excited to see everyone, but figuring things out almost cured me of my omnipresent wanderlust for the week. (Almost. I was back at it today to try to figure out where to go for the days we would have been in Spain. I know. We should all have such "problems".)

7. Warren got not 1, but 2 jobs in the last couple of weeks! Fingers crossed and prayers said that all will go well for him.


8. I had my first mammogram yesterday. After the first couple of pictures, I wondered what all women were whining about. (Unless they are relatively flat chested women. That would be awful.) THEN they did the sideways pictures with the arm up and all manner of contortions and just OUCH!! The technician gave me chocolate afterwards, which did help assuage my shock at the whole thing. But still, I think at the very least a good dinner beforehand should have been warranted. Oy. This was also on the same morning of the icky, slippery roads. The upside of all of this was that everyone else had cancelled, so I was in and out of my appointment before my appointment was even supposed to begin. Silver linings, you know. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Day "Off"

This is just a post about a day in the life of this mom.

On Friday my boys had off from school, but because my daughter's preschool follows a different calendar, she still had school.

I had 2 goals for the day.
1. Wash the pots and pans that have been waiting for me all week.
2. Sleep in until 8am.

I only accomplished one of those things. And it wasn't the dishes.

Here is what my day looked like. and I am writing it down just because right before I went out with my husband and friends that night I thought to myself, "I was busy all day, why don't I feel like I got anything done?"

8am- was woken up by 5 yr old who bounced all over me until I finally dragged myself out of bed.

8:30- ate distressingly healthy breakfast, read a little, warned kids it was almost time to start cleaning the house.

8:45- realized that the packages of gummy hearts we'd bought for Lilyanna had been mysteriously consumed by NOBODY. There had been 28, we were left with 15 and every boy in the house claimed to have only had one until they realized they were Lilyanna's valentines. Math is not my strongest subject, but even I know that doesn't add up.

9am-Lilyanna comes up with a plan B, and remembered that we had been given an unopened package of Winnie the Pooh Valentines by a neighbor.

9:15-Called Dr's office to beg for a new Rx for my son's medicine which is now distributed in a glass bottle and the day before was knocked onto the kitchen floor made of ceramic tile. $50 worth of medicine wasted. I didn't cry, but it was really sad.

9:30- Help middle school son rehearse for his audition for "The Sound of Music". Pulled out the guitar, relearned a few chords, and tried to teach him to play the guitar while singing Edelweiss. After a few minutes he decided that he would just do it without the guitar and I could accompany him. Then showed him the video of Capt. VonTrapp singing Edelweiss from the movie version. Ran through the song and worked on the character several times.

10am- Worked on writing/folding/stuffing envelopes/putting stickers on 30 Valentines.

10:30- folded laundry, reminded kids to stay focused to get their work done.

11:30-Entered into the Nielson Shopping program all the online purchases I'd made and received that week

12- ate lunch, read a chapter in my book

12:30-took Lilyanna to school

12:50- realized we forgot her Valentines at home.

1:15- went grocery shopping

2pm- got home, ran inside and helped high schooler register for classes for next year. Then checked grades and discussed how they're going to improve.

2:50- grabbed the Valentines and ran them down to preschool so my daughter could hand them out to her friends.

3:15-Headed home from preschool

3:35-Was about to hop in the shower, when I remembered that I still had to pick up the new Rx from the doctor. (they can't call in adhd meds).

3:45-Jumped in the car to run down to doctor's office with the 5 year old daughter in tow.

4:10-On the way back from the doctor, we got stuck in traffic due to an accident. 35 minutes to go 1.5 miles. Grrr.

4:45-Ran in the house to pick up high schooler who needed to go to play practice at the high school.

5pm-Ran back in the door after dropping him off and while running up to the shower called for the middle schooler to finally get the groceries out of my car.

5:30-finished getting dressed post-shower

5:35-went to Bellydance practice in the clothes I planned on wearing out to dinner

5:45-applied make-up while someone else was learning their part of the dance

6:20-drove home, finished putting groceries away, gave instructions re:pizza to kids.

6:45- left to go out on date and enjoyed a lovely evening.

My day was fine. I enjoyed having the kids around, and I was busy all day, but I never felt like I was getting anything done. Many of my days are like this where I feel like I'm just spinning my wheels. I'm a big proponent of accepting that this is what this time and season of my life looks like, but sometimes I feel frustrated that it takes me 3 days to get the darn pots and pans washed!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Seven Things Sunday!

1. I had my first actual massage ever this week! One of the local Moms mentioned that we was going to start doing massages again after a few years "off" to take care of her little ones. The kids are all in school now, though, so since she'd kept her license up over the years, all she had to do was get her insurance back up and running. When she asked if anyone would have any interest, I pretty much jumped up and down saying "pick me!! pick me!!!" It was one of the things the doctor had recommended I do for my shoulder (which while not completely better, is much improved) that I hadn't yet done. Anyway, it was fabulous and the morning after was the first morning I've woken up in months without my shoulder aching!

2. After weeks of homeschool sucking for everyone involved, we made two big changes that have made a world of difference. At my son's request, we adjusted his meds, and at my instinct, we switched math curriculum. I sensed he needed less of me and more instruction that was easy to understand. We signed up for ALEKS and the clean pages, and immediate feed back for everything, along with helpful instructions a mere click away are making him super happy to do math. In fact, I set a timer for him to work on math each day, and on Friday when the timer went off he growled at it and begged for 10 more minutes. It's the first time THAT's ever happened with that particular child!

3. Week 2 of healthier eating is going well and continuing to yield results. And I did actually have some Doritos to satisfy that particular craving and all is now right with the world.

4. This past week we began the high school enrollment process for Nathaniel. If you'd asked me a year ago, I would have predicted that he would have dived head first into the STEM program offered at the high school, but he's much more interested in what the alternative program has to offer. We are lucky enough to live in a town that has an alternative middle school and high school. If he's accepted, he would be one of 45 students in the Freshman class which is pulled from both of the high school's in town. The types of classes offered change every semester, the teachers are called by their first names, there are no official study halls or lunch period, and kids are expected to stay on top of everything themselves. Basically, it's the hippie-commie preschool for high school kids. ;) He would still be bused over to the regular high school for language, music, and theater, but he's really looking forward to this opportunity. I hope that if it's the right thing for him, he'll get into the program.

5. There are times when familial drama makes the 1000 plus mile distance between me and our relatives seem just right, but the last couple of weeks as we've all banded together while my grandmother has experienced several hospital stays and all that go with those, that I really wish I could be closer. That being said, most of the siblings and cousins were rocking the staying in touch with one another with any technology available! Our respective parents, not so much, but they were more on the front lines of things, so I suppose that's to be forgiven. Anyway, it just makes me realize how lucky I am to be from a big, zany, loving family.

6. My youngest son wants a dog more than words can possibly express, but Todd is super allergic to dogs, and I'm not willing to take care of one more thing in this house even if he weren't. (although, I confess that if Todd weren't so allergic, I could probably be swayed. That is how much this longing in my youngest son is tugging at my heart!) Instead, we decided that we could take advantage of the fact that he's home during the day and he could advertise his services for dog playing, walking, letting out during the day for those in our neighborhood who work. I offered this via our neighborhood fb page in September and we had no takers, but my parents just got a new puppy and have been sending pictures and it was more than Caleb could take. So, I sent out the proposition again and we had a taker! Caleb and I met the family yesterday, and he is super excited to begin going to take care of them starting this week! It's just a mid-day potty break and possible walk, with some play time thrown in, but it's as if he's been handed the world!

7. I've been listening to French language CDs in the car while I driving to and from preschool each day, and I'm pretty sure that Pimsleur just taught me how to flirt, and basically do the "your place or mine?" thing. I'm sure this would be much more useful if I weren't going to France with my husband and 4 children in tow, but I suppose it might come up. ;)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Seven Things Sunday

1. All passports are in and tickets to and from Europe are booked!

2. Thanks to my French language cds that I listen to in the car and a lot of research of where to eat in Paris, I now know how to ask for directions and more importantly how order cream puffs, and croissants, and baguettes, and tartines, and macarons, and crepes. I have gastronomic plans and priorities, people! Also, no thanks to my freshman son's otherwise fantastic history teacher who knew Benjamin was going to Paris this summer and said, "Honestly, with the current political climate, I'd be more afraid of France than the Middle East right now." So, I got to talk him down off the ceiling from that idea.

3. In other news, I am super grateful for modern technology that makes it so easy to keep in touch with family far away and in the midst of a crisis.

4. I am also grateful to live in a place with fabulous hospitals and whatever kind of care I may need all within easy distance. This is not a thing that most of my relatives have.

5. Took the little miss to her first salon experience and Sweet and Sassy. If you've never been, it's like everything pink and glitter exploded in one place and left behind a staff who totally gets little girls, and pretty hair-bows. Lilyanna was pretty much in heaven. It was a little overwhelming to me, but she was super happy AND relented in letting us donate her hair. For reasons I could never get to the bottom of, she was very hesitant about hair donation.

6. Caleb started his first Spanish class this week. When asked how he knew so many basic vocabulary words already, he said, "Because my sister used to watch a LOT of that crappy show Dora the Explorer". Charming, no?

7. Week one of healthier eating is yielding results. Which is encouraging, but still hard to stick to. Especially on snow days. Snow days seem to scream for hot chocolate. And whipped cream! And Doritos. Mmmm.... Doritos....

Friday, January 23, 2015


Belly dance, anyone?

I'm giving you a chance to turn back now. This is one of those "personal realizations about health and body image" blog posts. They can be super tedious to read, so I give you fair warning.

Right after Christmas, I had to go to a health screening for our insurance company. My numbers were not great. Weight, I was expecting to be commented on and with good reason. But my other numbers, which are usually fabulous (seriously, I have sexy blood pressure numbers, people!), were not bad, but also not so good. More like in that warning section. The RNP doing the screening pointed out that it was a rotten thing to make everyone do the blood work during the holidays when people are generally eating, drinking, and being merry perhaps more than they might otherwise be.

That being considered, a few days later when we were sharing our resolutions and goals for the new year with one another as a family, I mentioned that my goal was to be healthier. Every single one of my boys said, "Really? But you're super healthy. Why do you need to do that?"

And for a brief moment I saw myself through their eyes. They have a Mom who takes belly dance, ballet, spinning, runs and does hateful those tabata or boot camp workouts all throughout the week. I ran 5 miles Thanksgiving morning. I trained for and ran 1.5 half marathons last year. I'm taking my kids to hike two whole states worth of the Appalachian trail this spring. They have a Mom who tries to feed them healthy food and tries to encourage good eating habits in them.

Yeah, I need to lose weight. I should eat less sugar. And I'll work on both of those things this year just like I said I would.

But I am so grateful to my children for being a better mirror than the one I look in by myself.