Thursday, December 18, 2014

Well, this is rich and fun

I love Advent and Christmas.   My kids are all almost home, which won't happen every year.   We run gleefully to church every day and hope that the guy leading all of those services knows how much he is appreciated.  I think I will go buy him some oranges so he has a better chance of making it through without taking the fall of sickness this year.  

Today, I am making out an update to son number two's transcript so he can continue on his way to working on his bachelors.   I am so happy about that.   Seriously.   It is what he wants and it is finally happening.   I'm just glad it is him who has come to this conclusion.   Waiting and patience as our kids muddle through without putting the ultimate heat on, is sweet.   I don't want to force or coerce my kids to do anything they don't have the heart for.

Me, I am happily practicing my horn and sort of restarting that aspect of  my life.   Playing the horn takes me to never never land.   I suppose it is like taking happy drugs so my family mostly appreciates that.   A happy  mommy is a happy thing.  

Oh, the Marine son, is home on Recruiters Assistant and working on finding some young folk to come in and see if the Marines has  a place in their future.   He knows more humans than his public school counterparts who were properly socialized.......this is sort of frustrating him as the home school stereo type of being inadequately socialized is said to him.   Yes, that was bad grammar but hey, I am just rambling.  

We are getting a new baby before Christmas - a baby grand piano will be blessing our living room.   I am sooooo excited I can hardly stand it.   I best get back to my dear son's transcript update and stop rambling for today.  

Sunday, December 14, 2014


My youngest is four now.   My oldest is twenty-three.   Things are changing and I am muddling through the changes.   For the longest time there were nine kids at home and things were relatively predictable outside of illness and stuff like that.   Now there is no one in diapers and I only have one more kid who needs to teach how to read.   Diapers and teaching kids how to read used to be overwhelming but if I stop and think about it, those things now don't loom over my head.  

Now that there is a little bit more time available, I have started practicing my horn again and am hoping to find more opportunities to play in my older age.   I was encouraged to find a website which stated that it is never too late to pick up your instrument again and have a go at it.   So far I have just rejoined the University band here and just finished up the semester.   We all had fun that and the concert went well.   I can almost play through all my old solo pieces and am working through technique books to improve my accuracy.   I enjoy it.   It is a nice change.

One of the side effects from regaining some of my music skills, is that my kids are taking music more seriously and are getting excited about the things they can learn.   I firmly believe that playing a musical instrument improves brain development as well as teaches dedication and perseverance's fun.  

My older kids lives are changing of course so it has just seemed to me that I need to keep my own mind moving along with learning and relearning new things so I don't get caught mourning their growing up to much.   I have a hammer dulcimer which has too much dust on it and needs some tuning and cleaning.   The more I play my horn, the more I want to make more music.   We shall see how this goes as the weeks and months progress.  

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Random parenting thought

Few things peeve me more than when a parent discusses their child's behavior with another adult in front of the child or their siblings.    Imagine for a moment if we discussed other adults behavior in front of that adult with a friend.  Um......wouldn't this be really offensive?    A child is a person too and they do hear what we are saying and they do realize they are the topic of scrutiny. respect for our kids, perhaps giving thought to the audience of our conversations  might be a good idea.   This mama's fire is lit when other well meaning adults start talking to me about my kids in front of my kids as if they are not able to comprehend what is being said.   Kids are individuals too!   Enough.  I think the point is made.  

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Giving up the gift exchange

We have nine children, one son-in-law and one grandchild and....amazingly all four of the grandparents of our children.  Wow.   I also have one brother and his wife whom we have maintained some semblance of a gift exchange for....ever.    So, now that money is tight again, I have decided through discussion with my family and a few others, to give up the whole gift exchange thing this year and hopefully do weird things like play with the games we already have, have a hymn sing or something, read books that we already have, enjoy the rest of the year with less stress and just give up the guilt.   We can NOT keep up with the whole 'have a zoo membership' AND have gifts for everyone at Christmas.   That is just one example.  

I spend SOOOO much time during the year cleaning up all the junk we acquire at Christmas and birthdays that there must be a radical change.   Wouldn't I rather spend the year actually doing nice things with my family instead of chasing all this crap around?   How many dolls, toys, etc. does one family need anyway?    It may be suggested by some that a zoo membership could be the gift of the year but even that has some strings attached to it so no, money will be spent on yummy food, making things together throughout the year and just enjoying each other....hopefully (!).    

Now to return to decluttering my house of all the stuff so I don't have to take care of it anymore and I don't have to look forward to getting more stuff in the future.   Enough already!  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Today has been a day of catching up on maintenance chores around here.   Maintenance to me means maintaining the yard, keeping up with the laundry, throwing stuff out, etc.    My kids help with some things and other things it is more like pulling teeth.   Looking around the house, which I haven't been here to maintain much in the last month or so, gives me the urge to throw a lot out, give it away, etc.    I sort of wish I had never signed up for the Christmas plethora program to begin with.   I can't change what has past but I think the advice I will give my kids will be to keep Christmas as simple as possible and birthdays too.   What changes can be instilled now to decrease the stuff clutter and stress. 

I have a new grandchild!   This will establish new traditions with my daughter and her family of whether chasing some ideal is a good idea or just kiss up the little one and read to her and perhaps have her pick out books from her Grandma's collection of books to keep.   Maybe I will watch which ones she loves and let that lead the decision.   

My oldest son is now through Marine boot camp and a Marine.   That has twisted my head around to a new understanding of the military which I never had before.   I miss him.   He will not want to come home and sleep on the bunk above his brother.    He has ideas of things to pursue but his ten day leave was not very long to pursue them.    He was so tired but so grown up and more and more a kindred spirit.   I am still here to talk to him and think things through but our relationship is changing to something different.   I like it.   

I see the others growing up and look to the changes which will come.   We are actually out of diapers and that work is far less.   I feel like I can read books again, and even think of some of my own person interests again.   I am having fun including the kids in those interests too so that is a change as well.   I want to go fishing.   I want to row out in the middle of a lake and fish both alone and with a few kids in tow.   These are nice changes.   I like these too.   

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Conclusion on 'clearing the mind'

I am almost done with said psychology book.   The grain I get out of it is to do what I can to stop thinking about the yuck that comes my way from various locations in the form of dysfunction.   My own interpretation of this is that ultimately it doesn't matter, Christ is still risen from the dead.   It doesn't matter if my encounters are anxiety ridden and hard for me to be patient with.   There is a way to separate the dysfunction from dragging me down which include forgiveness, doing what I can to not respond and to remember Christ is risen from the dead so.....carry on.   I don't think I would recommend this book to someone who is not well grounded in the faith.    If you find me sitting like a Buddha in the corner humming, please have a chat with me okay?    Continuing in the hearing and preaching of the Word, Confession and Absolution, prayer and Catechesis.   That seems like a good plan.   We are not ducks which can let it all roll off our backs easily but we can remember how we are grounded.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Clearing the mind rewritten for Lutherans

First off, no one is going to get life 'right' by their own efforts.   I am reading a book which is basically about untangling yourself from all of the life drama which distracts you from.....(read dramatically).....who you really are.   Well, the reason I am reading it to begin with is to see what I can glean out of it to learn to detach myself from unavoidable dysfunctional behavior encountered in life.   Simply put, don't allow the dysfunctional behavior rock my world or consume me.   The title is "The Unteathered Soul".     It is very yoga like but it did have a few good points worth sharing so am translating in Lutheran talk.  

The first point I found of value is that in today's modern society, we have a lot of time on our hands to allow  for the mind to dwell on every little thing we do and every thing we see others doing.  In days gone by people were pretty busy working, making and preparing food, and basically doing those things which are done to survive.   We are much more tied today to a world that allows us time to think about what everyone else is doing and then worrying about what we say and do around them.   I am not sure my explanation of this makes sense, but it makes sense to me that if I truly was busy wondering if we had food on the table and life was less cluttered by my gadgets, I would not have so much stuff to get worried and fussed up about.   So.....the book suggests decluttering our minds of all these things which compete for our minds attention.   As a Lutheran, I would suggest this same point would be to mind my own vocations and live in repentance for those vocations I am neglecting - the God given ones.    Minding my own vocation leaves me a lot less time to think on what everyone else is doing and get busy doing what I am supposed to be doing.   Yeah, I fail at this but and ask forgiveness for that and I truly want to do better.  

This point led to 'clearing the mind' which of course is......Buddha like.   There is much talk in the book of how to do this.   Making choices as to what I react to and perhaps choosing NOT to react.   The author gives the example (which I am not siting as I am sort of rambling), of thinking on whether it is a good idea to react to some encounter where I could either choose not to let it bother me and forget it or, perhaps I might choose to give a person a piece of my mind.   The second choice, aka sin - anger, murder in my heart - comes with consequences.   Even if the choice is I decide to give some snarky remark, there is still a consequence to that choice.   I am still responsible for those words.   The author makes reference to this as clearing your mind, and I would call it calling upon the Lord to guard my mouth and to actually consider the consequence of my sin.  

The last point I read was on making a routine of clearing your mind.   My Lutheran response, is that it would be a good practice to use that routine in prayer and remembering my baptism.   They suggest every time you enter the car and before you exit it.   That is not a bad choice if I use that as a time to remember my baptism and who it is that saves me - Christ Jesus - and not my effort to keep my mind under control.   Remembering my baptism always brings to my mind who paid the price for my sin.   I personally do rush from one thing to another so the routines set forth in the Catechism for prayer and examining one self make sense and are helpful in minding my own vocations.  

Clearing the mind - Confession and Absolution.   Yes.   That is clearing your mind.   I value this practice and hearing the words of absolution are most important in 'letting it go'.   Seeking Absolution is a to seek the forgiveness of our sins - to seek Absolution from the Pastor as from Christ himself.   I am referring to private Confession and Absolution here.    Christ's forgiveness can not be substituted by making an effort to clear the mind.   There is no substitute.   Humanly speaking we can ponder the futility of our anxieties and desire to be in control of every situation to avoid the pain that comes in this fallen world.  

I am going to keep plugging my way through the book anyway as there have been a few good points to think about in my reaction to the world around me but this is my Lutheran response.   The best point thus far was the point on thinking on how I react to what comes at me in life and how much energy I spend ruminating on them.   Choosing to not let the yuck effect me is a good start to dealing with the dysfunctional/sinful behavior I encounter in life.   This seemed pretty lightly touched on but I have a third of the book left so maybe the author will touch more on that later.  

Kids have vocations too

I am in the habit of staring at my kids when they are having a rough time and reminding myself of the struggles they have as they are not that different than my own.   Why do toddlers and young kids in general push us to absolute distraction and how to handle behavior out of our control.    Then I remember that I am sure I too have my moments when my family wishes I could pull myself together.   I think my hardest struggle with all my kids, is that they tend to all decide to fall apart all at the same time and then I feel like a fireman trying to get the fire out fast.   My brain goes a bit on overdrive running triage to get them away from each other and away from me til we can actually communicate somewhat calmly and not in frustration.   

Avoiding these lovely moments seems next to impossible but I think they get worse when they are bored or feel somehow lonely and neglected.   My own children seem at their best when we are working on an outside project together orMaybe we misbehave because we are not busy at our vocations????   Feeling a lack of purpose and misbehavior makes a bunch of sense to me.   I can feel my worst when I can't manage to know where to turn first with my vocational duties or have no desire to begin at all.   Once I can get my engines started then life is not as frustrating.   

Kids vocations are equally important to avoiding misbehavior.   If I am not able to do my own vocational duties, is it any wonder the kids become wild animals?   When they are engaged in learning they feel better.   When I can put my own wants aside and read to them, work through their school work sitting next to them and actually being in the house with them......they do better and so do I.   Vocation, vocation, vocation.   Sticking with our God given vocations improves everyone's mood.   Narrowing my focus improves my mood for sure.   

Writing these thoughts out results in my putting it together.....for today anyway......that helping my kids focus on their vocations by actually doing mine and being home helps us all feel a bit better and less fragmented.   The more I can be home the better it is.   Helping my kids see what their vocations are as 'kids' is also helpful.   I do tend to ask them the question, "So, how is that growing up and being responsible for what you are responsible thing going?"    They like this question.   We can have great conversations with this question too.   It isn't me telling me how they are doing but me helping them remember to think about it and helping them to think.   Lots of carefully thought out questions with a child, help them to process how it is going for them.   

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Calendars may seem obvious

Calendars may seem obvious to the born organized but they are not obvious to me in parenting the home educated child.   I take pride, too much pride, in bumping along through school life, so if you read that last post and thought "well duh", then you are not challenged like I am to teach calendar organization.

It has been a week now and it is slowly coming to them and to me how this calendar tool can be used.   I have made VERY reasonable requests on their daily routine so far and asked them to simply check their stuff off when it is complete.   Hmmmm....    so far they are not taking me seriously enough.   I now have added that if they get everything done for that day, to put a sticker at the top of that day.   When they ask to do special things, we can take a look at how things have been going along the way and see what is reasonable.   All things fun always seem reasonable to them.

We had a check in last night and it was apparent that it was hard for them to get much done from their list.   We have more talking to do and of course I will reinforce those areas which are getting done.   Slow and steady will win the race.  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Structure and calendars

I personally am not the most structured person.   Unfortunately for me, I don't think structure is optional for the kids.   Pondering the plethora of age levels living under my roof and all the stages of development going on, from dreaming of retirement, to not quite potty trained and all the teenage behavior in between, is pushing the envelope with me to insist on calendars and more routine in the house.   I thought it was good enough to simply get done what we could get done but am realizing how there is only one of me and that the older kiddos need to learn how to use a calendar and take more responsibility for their own lives.  

I cannot begin to explain the dragging of feet and their blaming me for not knowing what they can do next in their home educated journey or in helping around the house.   Helping is not an option either.    I have visions of faces coming at me asking me questions in my not so distant past.   I am going to attempt to have calendar, goal making meetings weekly and try to make it fun.   That lovely phrase in probably all parenting/teacher books is that kids like to know what is expected of them.   Even though I feel I have given them what is expected, I suppose it is too wishy washy for them and black and white check lists will help.   I will have to have a fight with my own 'laid back' self to persevere with this.  

Extinguishing whining will be a whole different goal but not really.   I think I am going to have them track their whining on the calendar to see how that is going for them.   Can I do this????   Hopefully.   Stay tuned.   Perhaps I will have my blog keep me more accountable on this one......

Thursday, January 9, 2014

My book rating system

It doesn't have to be anyone else's rating system but have decided that the best books to me are books with layers.   Depending on how the layers are laid together, the better the book.  Some books the layers are obvious and in others you realize a bit later on what happened before and dots are connected.   The Christian themes in Dickens and Gaskell's books seem to reflect a society of the time which understood a life of Catechesis and vocation.   There is an obvious acknowledgement of the value of people's different stations in life.   I call it a relief to read about a culture which once existed.   The readers of that day, considering I am referring to best sellers, must have understood these understandings and the natural flow of the story line in respect to Christ as the center of family and decisions.   I may stick with this time period a bit and see how many other books and authors carry on the same set of priorities or Christ centered lives and confident concern for those living outside the church.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What makes a book a good book?

I'm asking.   I think I am enjoying the present "North and South" read but then read reviews and am not sure I am supposed to like it?   I suppose being written in 1855, it might be a "Pride and Prejudice" want to be.    It is fairly good and deals with a relative topic of that time. do I pick up any discriminatory taste?   I suppose I will just read it, ponder the social times and move on.   I am probably thinking too hard.  

Monday, January 6, 2014

Another book - North and South

I am now reading the book "North and South" by Elisabeth Gaskell.   It was written in 1855.   Silly me assumed it was about the Yankees and Southerners.....not.   Instead it is about the North and South of England and the class struggles of the time.  The surprise that anywhere else has a North and South?  Anyway, without giving too many spoilers, the main character spends much time pondering the classes different stations in life and how Christ is central to all no matter their station in life.   It is shockingly refreshing to read since that doesn't tend to the perspective of most or practically all modern literature.   Again a picture is painted, like Dicken's books, of the struggles of life related to faith and life and the centrality of Christ in every person's life, believer or not.   Worth reading.  

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Distraction by Reading

I have this stupid struggle with depression and so since it is stupid but real, I have decided to distract myself by reading.....a lot.    The internet gives a person popcorn brain and facebook does not help all that much to distract but rather detracts from my functioning so.......between running away from the internet, at least during most of the day, and whacking away at my 'want to reads' and 'want to read to the kids' agenda, I might be able to keep my mind occupied against the evils lurking at my door with my head.   Sounds like a plan.

Of course reading could add to depression if I read to avoid real life.   Yuck.   The balance is a pain.   Can I handle structured life?   I might be able to remember structured life this week, but maybe I will forget next week?   Who knows.

My last read, "A Tale of Two Cities" was very awesome.   Some say it has too much tedium in the beginning, but I think I just want to reread the beginning so I can connect the dots of all the nuances I missed the first time round.   It took me weeks to find time to read at all so I thought I was just mixed up from forgetting what had already happened.   Perhaps I was just a bit lost.   I highly recommend it for excellent weaving of events and characters.   The Christ like sacrifice was beautifully written and a basic work of art.   Images of the feet walking and walking forward through life and death the sure end to all were rich.   I kind of wonder now if my grandfather was a fan of this book or if he chose the verse for his gravestone from a basic love of the promise it holds.  Perhaps my grandmother chose it.   Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[d] Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. John 11: 25 - 26.   Perhaps I will choose this for my gravestone.   I never met my grandfather but feel bonded to him in this verse.   It was a key verse in "A Tale".   Yay Dickens!   There are some of his I want to reread.   

So other than reading and running away from the internet as much as this weakling can manage.....remembering my responsibilities might be helpful too.   Hmmmm........runs away from laptop.   

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Found my blog

I had to go to a friends blog to find my blog address.   I couldn't remember it or find it with many a search on my own personal laptop.   Hmm.....I don't have to blog but have heard   from here and there that other moms have read and enjoyed it so.....we shall see how we can document a better year here?  

Okay, the new year might not be better than last and that still is to be determined of course but last year was full of deaths of many people I know so am ready for a fresh start.    Things are not looking good for my in-laws as they struggle along with their health but I do have hope in the Resurrection so perhaps this year will be the year they get better?   Here's hoping!   Watching people fall into dementia and lose their ability to be independent is extremely sobering.   You see a glimmer of your own potential future.   Humbling.  

2014 brings my first grandchild.   Wow.   I am very much looking forward to baby.    Wow.   I am sure you will hear more about him/her (I know but am not telling) in the months to come.   Daughter dear had an entertaining Christmas break which allowed the opportunity to figure out baby gender.   Overdoing it is not advised but both she and baby are doing well.    She and hubby were busy with his family and reveling in his sister's wedding Monday.   It was beautiful.  

Now to crawl off to the shower and begin the day.   Many sick with colds/fevers and seem to be on the mend.   Spending New Year's Eve driving through a snow storm in Chicago was not my idea of fun but we made it and are safe and warm at home.   Time to work on my three year old's resolution to use the potty and I have already failed him.   Sigh.   Dipes and wipes march on.