Friday, July 23, 2010

More Random Thoughts

NO, I have not yet determined the secret ingredients for Chef Mark!

I do believe I used very poor timing in this whole secret ingredient thing. I wasn't able to get to it this past week. I could now, but we already have enough groceries in the house to make it through the week, so it seems a waste to throw in more ingredients to go buy. weekend we have a guest here. Hmmm...I wonder if she would like to be on the receiving end of Chef Mark's Mealtime Challenge? I suppose it would be nice to have an extra judge. I'll have to give that some thought.

Our mysterious house guest--and possible second judge? One of my dearest friends from boarding school! I have not seen her in 10 years. I can't wait to see her! She has been over a year without her husband as he has been serving in Iraq. He's back now. I'm so happy for her! Since she plans to begin homeschooling next year, the SE Homeschool Expo here in Hotlanta caught her eye. She asked me if it's worth it to attend such a thing.

"Worth it?!" I exclaimed. "Of course."

"Could you go with me?" she asked.

Ummm...well. I've sorta, kinda been banned from the SE Homeschool Expo. By my husband. I mean, I know I have my next school year planned by May or June. And I know I have all of my curriculum ordered and in hand by May or June. And I know I start school the first Monday of August, and the SE Homeschool Expo does not occur until the weekend before the first Monday of August. But that does not mean I don't NEED all the things I buy at the SE Homeschool Expo. I really could use some more understanding in this house.

Anyway, what is a caring friend like me to do? I mean, here is someone in need. I'm nothing if I'm not helpful. So I happily reluctantly agreed to accompany her to the Expo. Someone's gotta do it, I guess.

I have promised my husband I will go and leave with not a penny spent. Ahem.

My boarding school friend is not the first one to ask me to go to the SE Homeschool Expo this year. My blog friend Linda is an exhibitor at the Expo, and she suggested that we meet face-to-face for the first time. She was the first one to throw temptation my way, and with great strength, I resisted it. After all, I knew she would be busy working. Plus, she is a veteran homeschooler and does not require my guidance and great wisdom. I promised her that this year I would squirrel away some money so that I could go next year, meet her, and do the Expo right.

But now...since I am such a helpful friend, I will also get to see Linda!! She will be my first blog friend I've met face-to-face!

I had my appointment with the real doctor. He has all but concluded that I do indeed have fibromyalgia. He did have me go to the lab to give blood in order to rule out any other anomalies. I gave just about all of the blood I own. And it took forever. The phlebotomist (I've always wanted to use that word in a blog post) didn't know what she was doing and tied the band around my arm like a decoration instead of a tourniquet; the blood merely drip-dropped into the 5 huge tubes I had to fill.

Anyway, even if there is no cure, I'm happy to have sort of a diagnosis as that is a weight off my mind. The doc offered me some dietary suggestions, told me to take more vitamins, get a little exercise, and get more sleep.

The sleep thing is really the hardest thing for me. I'm a night owl and love using my evening and night time to get Stuff done. And I don't get that much of an opportunity to sleep in with a house full of kids (and a puppy). So when the doctor asked me if I was getting 7 1/2 - 8 hours of sleep, I just kind of gave him a blank stare. When I told him I get, at most, 6 hours, he said, "You really must do something about that. It's important."

So...OK. Well, the puppy at least is being very cooperative in me getting more sleep. She went from 11:30-6:00 last night! And I may up her bedtime to 11:00 as 6:00, even for a night owl, is an optimal time for a homeschooling mother to rise if she wishes to be organized and ready for the day ahead.

So if I gave Daisy an earlier bedtime, that would mean a whole 7 hours of sleep. Of course, that doesn't really mean that because it generally takes me at least an hour to fall asleep. So then we're back to 6 hours. So I've made another change. In order to clear/settle my mind, I am forcing myself to turn off the computer at 10:00 and just relax until bedtime. It has worked the last couple of nights because I have fallen asleep much more quickly.

And so I don't risk putting all of you to sleep, I shall ramble no more...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Random Thoughts

No, I have not yet determined the secret ingredients for Chef Mark.

What have I been doing? Taking the kids to and from sports camps, trying to entertain the Princess, planning the next school year, taking care of puppy, wishing I could take a nap.

I've never been so well-planned for a school year. Usually, I just make my Master Plan spreadsheet and wing it from there, but this year, inspired by Tisha, I have made all the copies I will need for every single lesson, which means I will not have to spend 2 hours every Sunday getting ready for Monday.

I'm tired. Not so much because of the puppy, though I do get up once per night with her. My neck/back does not let me sleep much.

I'm going to a real doctor today. As much as I used to think it was a fake disease, based on the type of back/neck pain I have coupled with the many other things that haven't been "quite right" over the years, I suspect I have fibromyalgia. We'll see what the doctor says.

The other day I was floating peacefully (well, as peacefully as one can with Great Mayhem occurring on all sides by the likes of 4 children) on a raft. I was quite comfy. Do you think I should try sleeping there one night? Bet it would be the best sleep ever.

After having seen Daisy's mom "great with milk", the kids all think that when we get Daisy spayed, she will have her nipples cut off.

This is our new dog skin rug:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Challenge for Chef Mark

Our favorite after-dinner entertainment is to sit down as a family and watch one of the Food Network challenges: Chopped, Cupcake Wars, Iron Chef, Worst Cooks in America, The Next Food Network Star. Any of the shows where the contestants must prepare a dish within the parameters outlined by the judges.

I'm always teasing Mark that he ought to get himself in front of one of those cameras. However, as much as I love him, I don't foresee that he will ever have a star on Hollywood Blvd. I wouldn't make a good star's wife anyway. But I like to tease. And the last time I did that he said, "Well, why don't you just give me 4 ingredients, and I'll make something with them?"

Well, OK then.

But I need help. After all, it is a panel of judges, not just as judge. So here goes. I'm going to submit a list of ingredients. These aren't as strange as some of the ingredients you will find on Food Network, but since I will be the one tasting...and since I am a picky eater...

After reviewing the list, please vote on 4 items. I will likely just tally the votes. Of course, with my really large audience...

beef tenderloin
fish (whichever is on sale!)
ground beef
pork chops
chicken breasts
canned tuna
ground turkey
nappa cabbage
red cabbage
bell peppers
green onions
lima beans
red onions
bean sprouts
alfafa sprouts
sun-dried tomatoes
sweetened condensed milk
ginger root
peanut butter

Obviously, I shall document the resulting entree with side dish. That entree and side dish must employ all 4 ingredients you help me assign to Chef Mark.

Daisy Update

You're probably wondering how Life with Daisy is going. Or not. I'll tell you anyway. She's a great little puppy. And once I'm not so tired, I will enjoy her even more. She's actually doing great at night; it's just me and my poor sleeping habits that are bringing on the fatigue.

The first night she was home she cried all night, and I'm not sure I slept at all. Not because her crying was keeping me awake; we put her and her crate in a back room. I was awake most of the night worrying that she was keeping everyone else awake.

They all slept soundly.

The next night not a peep from her. I didn't sleep much. I lay there waiting for her to wake up and start crying so I could begin worrying about her keeping everyone else awake even though they were all sleeping soundly.

She's been great at night since then, and I've been catching a few more winks; however, I am still setting an alarm to get up once during the night to take her out. Waking up at 3am wouldn't be so bad if I would go to bed before midnight. Of course the waking up at 6:30 isn't helping, but I would have to do that puppy or no puppy because I am being Responsible now and trying to get the kids off to basketball camp on time.

But sleeping patterns--Daisy's and mine--aside, she is doing great. Best thing I did was purchase some baby gates to confine her to the kitchen. That way I do not have to spend my entire day following her around to make sure she is not looking for a potty. I just moved my office (translation: my computer) into the kitchen, and we all basically live in here. She has had only 2 accidents and already tries her best to tell me when she needs to go. She knows her name and how to sit. Not bad for less than a week!

She does not like her crate, but hopefully she will get used to it over time because there's no way she is going to have free range of the house--or even just the kitchen--while we are away. That would certainly be cause for more worries than I already have lying in bed while everyone else is soundly sleeping.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Just the Two of Us

She's not even four feet tall. And she maaay tip the scales at 40 pounds...if she's wearing heavy denim, sneakers, and a jacket. Yep, she's a tiny little thing, but this week I'm a little intimidated by her. Why? Because it's just me and her for 7 hours a day this week. The older 3 are at basketball camp this week from 9-4, soccer camp next week from 9-12, and Wacky Water Week at our church the last week of July from 9-1. Just me and her. Her and me.

Not that I don't love being with her. She's so cute and funny and sweet. It's just that I'm trying to remember how to be a mom to just one kid. It's been awhile. And even 10 and 1/2 years ago when Alex was the only, we really only had 5 months together solo before I started toting Michael around in my belly.

Prior to this morning, I had listed some special things we could do this week just the two of us: get ice cream, purchase a new coloring book, go to the mall, play with Playdoh. We dropped the kids off at the church. "Are we going to have ice cream now? And then get my new coloring book and go to the mall and play with Playdoh?" she asked with a sparkle in her eye.

"Well, let's space those special activities out a little over the week so we don't do them all at once, OK?"

She reluctantly agreed.

We opted to go to Target to share a Starbucks breakfast and make the coloring book purchase. As we were walking back to the car, new Minnie Mouse coloring book in hand, she asked, "Are we going to get Alex, Michael, and Jacob now?"

Maybe she's a little intimidated by the quiet week that lies ahead as well.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

She's Heeere!

Don't worry, I'm not fooled.

I realize we haven't had one single potty accident in the house today. No not one. But I'm not fooled. I know better than to believe that that will last.

So far she's been a great little puppy who does an awful lot of sleeping. But I'm not fooled. I know she'll wake up soon into a little, giant ball of mischief.

We're awfully glad to have her home, though.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Odds and Ends

Independence Day was uneventful. Which I suppose is a good thing. No burned meats on the grill. Maybe a few burned marshmallows, but that kind of heat just melts the chocolate better.

No unintended fires or explosives in the face. Which is surprising since the kids took over some of the fireworks. Just the weeny, Georgia ones, though. In Georgia real fireworks--as in the kind that actually leave the ground, shoot up into the sky, and go boom--are illegal. So naturally, we always smuggle some good ones in from South Carolina or Florida or Tennessee or Alabama. We had a few good ones this year, and Mr. Fireworks himself took care of lighting those fuses. The kid next door shared his box of Georgia fireworks with us. The children really enjoyed them, although I think they may have had more fun lighting them (under close supervision of course!) than actually watching them spark.
The Water Park was lots of fun until two busloads of camp/daycare children showed up. Nothing against buses or daycare/camp kids. It's just that I. Don't. Like. Crowds! Thankfully we showed up as the gates opened, so we had an hour or two of peace before the crowds descended on us--not complete solitude but not pool wall to pool wall full of children.

School Planning is underway. Can you believe I haven't talked about planning yet and we're only a little over 3 weeks 'til our next school year starts again? (We start August 2 in our homeschool--always the first Monday of August.) It's not that I haven't planned. I just haven't been very talkative about it. If you want to see our curriculum for the year 2010-11, click on the "Our Curriculum" link at the top.
And that's it. Here's hoping my creative juices begin to flow between now and August 2 because as of this moment, they are certainly dammed up somewhere (and no, Alex, that is not a bad word in that context or with that spelling).

Little Simple Things

Little Simple Things

The world goes round
And sometimes it drags ya down
Leaves ya dancin' on quicksand
And when ya fall
Can seem like no one cares at all
But I'm always here to give a helpin' hand

I've had days
Stuck inside a lonely maze
Scared and cold, feelin' half past gone
Then you walk in
And help me learn to laugh again
Somehow you help me find the strength to carry on

It's the little things like you and me
Underneath the cherry tree
Talkin' 'til the Monday mornin' light
It's the simple things like family
Bein' loved and bein' free
They let me know it all will turn out right

When things get rough
You know you've finally had enough

But you're still rollin' straight downhill
You need to know
There's still hope when you're down low
Well, the world won't tell ya true, but I sure will

In my life
I've known quite a bit of strife
But my faith has kept me strong
And when I lose
Don't know which new path to choose
All those little simple things help me along

lyrics by Kristan Mikala

One of my best bloggy friends, Crossview, has this daughter, Kristan, who is amazingly talented. Sure she's short, but her voice more than makes up for her stature. Oh, OK, I'll leave it to Crossview to continue the short jokes (and she will!). Let me just say that I was pleased to have the opportunity to listen to Kristan's first CD!!

If you know me, you know that I am not a huge fan of country music. However, Kristan's voice is so pure and beautiful, PLUS she left out all the twangy stuff I don't like about country music, PLUS her lyrics are so poetic and meaningful, I completely appreciate the whole CD. The song above is one of my favorites because it's fun; another of my faves is called All the Pieces. Not quite as light of a song, but a beautiful song!

Well done, Kristan! I now one Mama who's mighty proud!!

And how can you own Kristan's first CD? Just email her at!

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Change of Clothes

Maybe one day I'll wise up and throw some towels and extra clothes in the car. Because when we are out exploring we inevitably come across a body of water--a puddle, a lake, a river. And when we do, the children inevitably ask, "Can we just dip our feet in?" and then, "Can we just get in this deep? We'll roll up our pants." Then before you know it, they're in as in IN all the way.
Yesterday we headed out with a friend and her son to Anna Ruby Falls and Unicoi State Park, an area I have not visited in years and one which is new to the kids. We enjoyed the short though surprisingly steep hike to the falls, especially since the weather was overcast and uncharacteristically cool.

The warm-up came in the afternoon, however, just in time for our discovery of the beach. The kids had a great time swimming in their clothes,

building sand castles,

and then drying off.