Friday, August 12, 2016

My Kids Have It, but Clearly It Didn't Come From Me

One of the million or so papers I had to sign or fill out at the beginning of the year was an inventory of sorts the 3rd grade teacher sent home. While I wasn't looking forward to filling out a 2 page paper, I was thankful it did not require a check, as so many of the beginning of the year papers do.

Question 4 or 5 asked for me to give the teacher three words to describe Turken. Not a fan of those questions, but for this marvelous teacher I would do it.

1. Funny. (The boy is hilarious.)

2. Kind (He wouldn't intentionally hurt a fly, either physically or mentally, let alone a kid in his class. His brother, Cuckoo is a different matter, but we're working on it.)

3. Intelli... That doesn't look right.

3. Intelle...Well, that doesn't either.

How in the world is it spelled?!!

Friends, I had to look up the word in the dictionary.

In case you're wondering, it is spelled I-N-T-E-L-L-I-G-E-N-T.

No irony here.

And that's how things are going around the coop.

In case you were wondering.

So, I'm taking a break.

Leaving Bryan and the kids to fend for themselves.

I'm meeting up with a friend for the weekend.

I'll tell you all about it on Sunday in my TToT post.

I'm sure there will be a photo or two.

You just might recognize both me and the friend I'm meeting.

Try not to vaporize in this oppressive heat and humidity while I'm gone. Oh the insanity of this humidity!

Have a lovely weekend!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

It's a Sports-Lover's Favorite Time of the Year! TToT Time!

The Olympics have begun!!

Oh how we enjoy watching these stellar athletes competing for those gold, silver, and bronze medals.

This week, I'm thankful for...

1. Swimmers

2. Divers

3. Water polo players

4. Soccer players

5. Gymnasts

6. Technology that allows us to watch races being raced in another hemisphere.

7. My family's interest in sports. One of us have played or raced in just about every sport in the Olympics, and those we haven't, we know enough about to know what's going on. Except for rugby. That one makes no sense to any of us.

8. In other news, I'm also thankful for opportunities to get together and visit with friends. There were several this week.

9. The soccer boys had the annual Red vs. Blue games, where our school's teams play each other (JV plays the JV2 team, then after a short break plays the varsity team). It is the only time in their lives that Giant and Star played against Phoenix. Everyone, players and spectators alike, thoroughly enjoyed the day.

Giant getting to the ball before a varsity player.

Phoenix taking a kick.

Why being a goalkeeper's mother is nerve wracking. Star slid in front of that player in order to keep him from scoring. See the ball?

Luckily the varsity player was able to jump over Star. That doesn't always happen.

10. The high school kids had a great start to the school year. They all have friends in their classes and they all are happy with the teachers they got. I am enjoying watching them all enjoying their teen years.

So, what good things are you grateful for this week? Have you been watching the Olympics? What's your favorite event?

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Saturday, July 30, 2016

School Stuff, Do With My Life Stuff, and Funny Kid Stuff. TToT Time!

When I taught 5th grade, I wouldn't let my students use the word "stuff" in their writing.

Even now it bothers me to see that I typed that.

But I'm leaving it.

Probly ain't gonna bother no one.


It's the last weekend before school starts. Can't say I'm happy about that fact. Although, I'm happier than the folks whose kids have started school already. One of the big, nearby public school systems started on July 26. Just the sound of a July start date doesn't sit right.

But, there's no point in whining or I-wishing. We'll get to the thankfuls...

1. Kids' imaginations are awesome. Completely out of the blue from the backseat, Turken asked, "Mom, who is your best friend?" I answered his question, and after a pause continued...

Me: Why did you ask?
Him: I don't know. It just came out of my mouth.
Me: What was going on in your head before you asked? What led up to it?
Him: Nothing. I think there is a hole in the bottom of my brain. Sometimes things just fall out into my mouth and then it just comes out.

2. Two of my boys went outside their comfort zone and tried something new. I was pleased as punch that they did, and even happier when they had a great time.

3. Phoenix, Bryan, and I had our meeting with Phoenix's counselor to begin the college application process. Good heavens, is it ever a process. An action plan is in place, and he'll be hitting the ground running on Monday.

4. I'm getting closer to figuring out what I want to do with myself when the kids are in school. I mentioned to a friend that I was really missing the classroom. I do love working in a school. Two days later I was offered a full-time job (for which I did not apply) to teach first grade. Cuckoo's class to be exact. I turned it down, but I will be putting my name on the sub list.

5. Also, I can't remember if I told you, but I found a volunteer opportunity that I think fits perfectly with me and my life at the moment. In mid-August I'll be training to be a Family Friend with Safe Families. It is basically an organisation which helps families who are in danger of having their children put in foster care.

6. I'm thankful for friends who know me well and let me know about opportunities I may be interested in, even if I do turn them down. ;)

7. I just got back from dropping Giant off at freshman orientation. Some tears were shed. Thankfully, not from sadness but joy. I always cry at drop off, but it was extra emotional this year, since Phoenix, as a senior, was there to greet him when he got out of the car. I am so glad we were able to have all these kids so close together.

8. I am glad the National Conventions are over. Perhaps we can take a break from political memes for a while. Are ya with me?

9. Libraries are the bomb dot com. We've been using ours frequently lately. While there are now more books lying all over my house, I don't mind. It means lots of reading is getting done.

A little yoga while he reads, I guess. 

10. I could not be happier with the fact that Cuckoo can read. He is the kind of kid who must have attention at all times and will do anything to get it when he doesn't have anything to keep him occupied. It was always worst in the car. Now, car rides are a breeze. He brings a book, and we don't hear a peep out of him for a good 10 minutes.

So, what happy things do you have to report this week?

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wednesday's Hodgepodge

Two posts in one week?!?!

Yup. Over-achieving blogger comin' atcha.

1. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your summer so far? Why?

Well, summer break is only one week away from being over, so regardless of what I rate it, there's not much chance of changing it. Thankfully, it has been an ok summer. Super fast and quite odd, with all the summer work the teenagers had to do. We managed to have some fun and get some much needed work done around the property. Unfortunately, we've only been to the pool once. That is a big fail.  I'll give the summer a 6.

2. July 26th is National Aunts and Uncles Day. Did you have many aunts and uncles growing up? Were you especially close to any one or maybe all of them? Are you an aunt? Share a favorite memory relating to one of your own aunts or uncles or relating to a niece or nephew who calls you Aunt.

We lived in the town where my dad, my grandma, and my great-grandma were all born and raised. My dad's siblings all moved away, but we saw them pretty frequently when they came back to visit Grandma. While I always enjoyed my aunts and uncles, I was actually closest to my great-aunt, Donna. (I even wrote a post about her a few days before she passed away.)

I have lots of nieces and nephews. My goal is to be the favorite aunt they have. While visiting them anytime is a treat, I especially love it when they come stay with us for a few (or more!) days.

3. What's your favorite food dipped in chocolate? What's your favorite food dipped in cheese?

Can't say that I'm a fan of anything dipped in chocolate. I used to eat peanut M&Ms every day, but I don't know if that counts. I do like ice cream with chocolate sauce on it. As for things dipped in cheese, tortilla chips. The cheese can be in a nacho form, with spinach and artichokes, or any other cheese dip form, as long as I can dip a tortilla chip in it.

4. When were you last astonished by something? Explain. 

I don't know how, but I'm still astonished every time I read comments on FB. The level of hatred and lack of empathy and actual thorough thought is mind-boggling.

That, or, if I actually get this done, I'll have posted two days in a row. Pretty astonishing after the dry spell I've been in.

5. Surf board, paddle board, ironing board, Pinterest board, score board, clip board, bulletin board...which board have you most recently encountered?

Each night, Sunday through Thursday, I iron Bryan's clothes for the next day, so I'm gonna have to go with ironing board. I would like to try paddle boarding someday, though.

6. What's your favorite story from scripture? Why that story?

I think I'm going to have to go with the story of Martha and Mary. While serving people is good and noble and expected, it is also necessary to stop the busyness to enjoy and appreciate the people in our lives, including some time with Jesus.

7.  If you were to travel from the east coast to the west coast in your own country, which five cities would you most want to see?

This is a tough one. While I love to travel, and I do have an appreciation for cities, I much prefer small towns and off-the-beaten track traveling. (Long-time readers know that, thanks to posts like this one.) Now that I think about it, I've gone to most of the cities this side of the Mississippi and many on the Mississippi and a few out west. The only east coast city I haven't seen and would like to someday is Boston. From there, I'd go west, hitting...maybe...Denver...a city in Texas, maybe Dallas or Austin...San Francisco...LA.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Based on this morning's debacle, this family needs to get it's collective butt off the proverbial couch and get in gear. At 9:51 this morning I was talking with Bryan about a get-together to which we were invited and happened to look at today's box on the calendar. Lo and behold, something was written in it! Phoenix was scheduled to get his senior yearbook photo taken at 10:15 at a location 20 minutes from our house. The boy had just woken up and was two bites into a bowl of cereal.

We have enjoyed that "nowhere to be" attitude of summer, but that lackadaisical state of mind is, sadly, coming to an end.

Good news, though. He was only 10 minutes late to his appointment and the person ahead of him was just finishing. No one was put out by his tardiness.

Any of the questions or answers jump out at you? You're welcome to join in the linkup if you're so inclined. Just head over to Joyce's blog.

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

On Footwear, College, Recipes, and Other Off the Cuff Thoughts

Have I ever told you I am anti-flip-flop. I cannot stand those shoes. Not just because anything between my toes drives me nuts, but they just aren't good for people's feet. I never bought them for my kids. Have you ever seen preschoolers trying to run around a playground in them? It pains me to watch their poor little toes balled up in a death grip around that tiny piece of plastic in order to keep their shoes on their feet. And if it's not the gripping the toe thing, it's the shuffling of the feet. Either way, the person wearing the things is not walking in the proper way a person should walk. And it doesn't have arch support. The only thing they could be good for is taking a shower in a public place or going to the bathroom at a public pool. 

Betty Crocker rules. It is one of two cookbooks that I own and use consistently. Recently, it has been the Blueberry Streusel Muffin recipe. Delicious. Lucky for you, it's also on the all-knowing internet.

Does anyone have a good, easy, quick way to make streusel? That whole mix until it's crumbly bit throws me for a loop. I've used my fingers in the past, but sometimes my hands just warm the butter and it turns into a blob instead of crumble. Lately I've been using the backs of two forks to kind of squeeze and press and get it to crumbly. It works, but it takes forever. Any ideas?

Speaking of recipes I love, I'll share two more. Both I found online when I simply googled what I wanted and found recipes with normal ingredients and instructions I could follow without difficulty. These were my first attempts. We enjoyed them, so I didn't look farther for other recipes.

Chicken Pot Pie minus the peas, of course.

I just had a helping of Black Raspberry Cobbler. My word, that stuff is good, especially when topped with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. And it could not be easier to make.

We're getting close to crunch time for college planning. Phoenix, Bryan, and I have a meeting with his counselor on Friday. Seeing as how Phoenix is basically putting all of his eggs in one tiny basket and planning to apply to one college, this should be a looooong meeting. Perhaps I should remind Phoenix about that time Turken collected eggs, then put the basket down to feed the dogs, only to find, when he turned around, the dogs licking their lips after eating every single egg...

While we will have 4 kids heading off to college, one each year for the next four years, it seems we'll have a break after that. Turken is currently researching jobs that don't require a college degree. His research began when he saw a sign outside Kentucky Fried Chicken which read, "Now Hiring. Pay starts up to $13/hour". "Mom," he asked, "does a person need to go to college to work there?" Can't wait to see how his counselor handles this in 10 years.

As I type, the dogs are howling outside the door, as they do every. single. time. a train goes by. The tracks are on the other side of a giant cornfield, and a train passes at least 5 times each day. It isn't loud enough to bother us, but apparently it bothers the dogs. As soon as the train gets within half a mile, they start howling. For 11 years, at least 5 times each and every day. I have no idea why.

Lastly, my new-to-me minivan has that bluetooth function in it. I can't seem to understand that it is not necessary to yell in order for the person to whom I'm speaking to hear me. I try not to yell, but with each sentence I get louder and louder.

Just so happens, my mom also got a new car. One day recently I called her from my car. The conversation went like this:

My mom: HELLO?

And we laughed and laughed until we went right back to yelling at each other.

'Cause that's how we roll.

Literally. :)

Have a lovely day!


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Ten Things of Michigan Thankful

I'm thinking most of this TToT post will focus on this week's Fun Friday that became Fun Friday AND Saturday.

1. I am thankful for Bryan's ability and willingness to take the odd day off of work to go on a short road trip with us. The man is super busy at work, with deadlines galore looming, but he always, always puts his family first. (When he was a new lawyer, for the first 2 years of employment, every single evaluation dinged him for never being in the office after 5:30 on weekdays or at all on weekends. He refused to change his schedule, and they finally backed off when they saw that he was still getting his work done, and done well, in his own time frame.)

2. I am thankful to live in a place with lots of things to do within a few hours drive. This time we took advantage of the nearness of Lake Michigan. We've vacationed there 4 times over the years (Here's a post about one of our trips.), but for some reason we've never gone on a quick overnight trip before. The closest beaches are less than 4 hours away from our house!

3. We are always grateful for fun dunes to jump and run and hike on.

The boys were trying and trying to get the timing of their jumps straight in order to all be in the air at the same time. This is as close as they got.

Five kids racing down a dune. I had to follow them down, collecting shoes and hats as I went. 
4. We're all grateful for beautiful blue skies for the entirety of our 25 hours in Michigan.

5. And in 95+ degree weather, we are extra grateful for the cool, cool waters of Lake Michigan.

For fear of sand, I didn't take my phone to the beach. I ran to the van right before we gathered our belongings to head back to Indiana to get my phone and snap one photo of everyone in the water.

6. We are grateful for the internet, where we found some tips about beaches in St. Joseph. Namely, to skip the ragingly popular Silver Beach and instead go to Tiscornia Park. We could see the Silver Lake beach from where we were, and it was PACKED with people. We couldn't even see the sand through the beach umbrellas. On our side of the river, there were people, but there was plenty of room for romping games of keep away and water football.

7. We are grateful for local, interesting places to eat. We avoid chain restaurants, especially when we're on a road trip. There are way too many new places to try, and it's a rare day that the local place doesn't taste way better than a chain.

This awesome ice cream stop is directly across the street from the entrance to Warren State Park, home of the dunes you saw above. We are blaming the sunburn on the crappy, cheap sunscreen Bryan bought. It was applied, but it didn't work very well.

If you ever find yourself in Lafayette, IN, this is a must stop. It's an 87 year old diner, where everything is made fresh, and half of it right in front of the customers. There are no tables. Everyone sits at the long counter that snakes its way around the entire inside of the building. The name of the place, Triple XXX, comes from the name of the root beer they sell. Seriously, it was one of the best burgers I've ever eaten. AND, the prices are more than reasonable.
I asked for volunteers to take a photo in front of the place. While Giant did volunteer, we have to be content with his perpetual 13-year old resting "whatever" face.
We also ate at a restaurant in St. Joseph called Clementine's, where we got to eat some fresh lake perch. So, so yummy. (No photo taken.)

8. I'm thankful that our van is still running well, even after 201,000 miles, so we can take these road trips without fear of breaking down along the way. Sure, it is now completely filled with sand and has been said to smell like toots inside, but it gets us where we want to go.

9. I'm thankful we were able to get a mini-vacation in before school starts. This coming week will be busy as we get everyone ready for school and squeeze in all the last minute summer fun we can get. Having two days to just have fun (and not cook!) was the perfect way to end our break.

10. I'm thankful I do still have another week to get the big kids ready for school. We haven't even started buying school supplies, and three of them need some pants! (Thankfully, only one needs shoes.)

How is your summer break going? What happy things were in your week?

Have a lovely day!

Ten Things of Thankful

 Your hosts

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Wednesday's Hodgepodge, Because I'm a Blogger! A Blogger Who Actually Writes Something Dagnabbit!

Joining Joyce for some hodgepodge question and answers.

1. Pokemon Go...your thoughts? Are you playing? Do you even know what it is?

I know what it is, but I do not play. No one in our family does because our kids don't have smartphones. They would love to, though. Lots of their friends play, and there's always talk about it at soccer practice. It makes no difference to me if people like to do it, as long as they are respectful of the places they go to find the things.

2. What was something you collected as a child? Do you still have that collection? If you're a parent, what's something your own children collected? Have you ever camped out, stood in a crazy long queue, or paid a ridiculous sum for a "collectible"?

I collected nothing as a kid. I still collect nothing except a few shells from a few beaches. I am not a fan of collections. There was a time when I was in my late teens when my mom and I were out shopping together. I must have pointed something out that had a cow somewhere on it. My mom apparently thought it meant I had an undying love for all things cow and bought me a variety of things for every holiday, including a pair of overalls with a cow on the bib. Proving yet again that my family deliberately found attire to make me look ridiculous.

A couple of my kids have collections. Phoenix has a coin collection. Giant collects bottle caps. There is a giant communal baseball card collection started by Bryan when he was a kid. Because Bryan is a pro at collecting things.

3. "Collect moments, not things"...tell us about a moment you've added to your collection this summer.

Ah, there are so many. For sure the white water rafting on the 4th of July and the biking downtown and the many hikes in state parks. But there are also the small moments, like cuddling with Cuckoo in the morning and playing endless games of Hand and Foot (a card game) and watching movies on rainy days and playing in the yard and just general chaos and noise that make every single day normal and wonderful all at the same time.

(Can you tell I'm getting nostalgic and sad about my Phoenix starting his senior year?)

4. What's something collecting dust in your home right now? Any plans to do something about it?

Bags. Lots of bags by the front door. Weeks and weeks ago we cleaned out closets and dressers and put all of the outgrown clothing into bags. Those bags are now waiting to be transported to Kentucky, where my nieces and nephew will dig through the bags and claim the items they like. I'm trying to find a day before school starts to spend a day or two with the fam. Crossing my fingers that it will happen.

5. A favorite song relating to time?

I can't say that I have a favorite, but I've always liked this one. Perhaps because it takes me back to high school...

6. What's been your most frightening or your most interesting encounter with wildlife?

You mean besides the bats and the mice and The Great Spider Infestation of 2005?

7. On July 20, 1969 Apollo 11 Commander Neil Armstrong set his foot down on the moon. If you could travel to the moon would you go? Why or why not?

Maybe when I'm 80, after I've lived a full life and am willing to try all sorts of dangerous and stupid things. I'll go to the moon after I bungie jump off a bridge and jump out of an airplane. Except that the entire space program seems like a giant waste of money and resources to me. I don't really see the point.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

School is starting two weeks from today. The only reason I'm looking forward to it is because it means the end of summer work for the high school kids. As Buttercup said today, "Normally, I'm at least a little bit excited to go back. You know that feeling on the first day of school when you realize you kinda forgot how to write because you haven't done it all summer? I'm not going to have that. I've done more than enough writing over the last two months."

That makes me sad.

I know they are growing up and are not little kids anymore and it's a part of life and blah blah blah, but seriously. They only have a short SHORT amount of time before they go out into the real working world and never get the summer off again and wow, this Phoenix-is-a-senior-and-all-the-big-kids-are-in-high-school-and-in-4-years-we'll-be-down-to-two-kids-at-home-thing is really getting to me!

If you've like to join in with the hodgepodge, you have plenty of time. The link is open for several more days!

Have a lovely day!