Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Crew, My Boys, My Heart

We've been rather busy this month, my boys and I!  I was fortunate enough to pick up College Boy and take him to a band competition earlier this month.  Weather was lousy, he was super helpful, Teen Boy was surprised and we had a really great half day together.  He and I had lunch together, just the two of us and it was really special.  Fast forward a five days and LRHB and I were back visiting College Boy.  This time he took US to lunch at the food court on campus... his meal plan comes with guest meals.  I told him he shouldn't have told me that cause I'm never taking him out again if he gets 10 meals a quarter for guests!  He played air hockey with LRHB in the "honors lounge". LRHB had only been there once 6 weeks ago and he told me on the car ride up that he wanted to play; I'd forgotten all about it.  College Boy is doing great again this school year and is enjoying being an RA.  He was Desk Agent of the Moment so I took a picture of the bulletin board advertising that which I think slightly embarrassed him.  I'm a proud momma; that's what I do... celebrate!  Last night, I got up at 3 am and texted with him for 45 minutes.  He had been ill and I wanted to check on him, but knew over the weekend he was working and sleeping and studying for the next round of tests.  At 3 am he was working so I knew that he'd be up and free to "chat".  It was nice catching up with him, but I'm sure I'll be cranky later!

Teen Boy is having a fabulous senior year.  I do realize that this time next year he'll be a College Boy but he'll still be a teen so...  I had a MOM moment last week.  I sent him away to visit a college solo.  Big Billy Goat Gruff (somehow that name for my brother came to me on my way home today - probably because I have 3 brothers and there are three billy goats gruff) asked why I was stressing about it?  Didn't I remember how much fun we had when HE came to visit ME in college.  YES I REMEMBER!  THAT'S WHY I AM STRESSING!  Loads of laughs from him.  Oh, he'll get his.  He's got daughters!  Teen Boy's meeting scholarship and application deadlines, keeping up mostly with schoolwork (what can I say, he hates Wuthering Heights) and is rocking the marching band which is headed to state again, woo hoo!  He even went (stag) to the Homecoming Dance and came home a big, hot sweaty mess proving he was cutting a rug!  Wish I'd been a fly on that wall.  We're waiting our first acceptance which could come anytime now.  AND after failing a test in his college math class, he said that he'd follow MY IDEAS about how to succeed in that class.  It is still possible for him to get an "A", but he's gonna have to work his butt off.  It is an exciting time and I am already teary at the idea that Friday night is his last football game.

LRHB is all boy, all the time.  He played fall baseball and in spite of being not one of the oldest kids on the team, he was one of the strongest players.  He enjoyed himself and after winning only 1 GAME in the regular season, they killed it in the tournament placing 1st runner up and earning a tshirt.  In the end, it was so cool, but playing three straight nights was stressful!  In his spare time he's been swimming and rocked it at the swim meet this past weekend cutting time in every race and NOT DQing!  YAHOO!  This after attending practices with 6 different coaches in 2 months due to baseball conflicts.  So flexible sometimes.  So mouthy other times.  Although he does go to school, he'd prefer to be outside playing football all day long.  He's actually doing really well in school and loves his teacher.  Teen Boy had this same teacher 10 years ago and she's just improved with time.  Totally committed to what's best for her kiddos.  I love volunteering in 2nd grade in his classroom; makes my week fantastic!

I feel like I had more to say, funnier stuff to say, but can't remember exactly what it is.  Hero Daddy is keeping up with LRHB when I'm off to band stuff, enjoying the Race for the Chase (NASCAR) and trying to dominate in all of his Fantasy Football leagues.  He continues to support me in my raising of the brood, but is hoping I'll find a job soon.  Suggestions?

Yes, another book review!

I read The Language of Flowers in 2 days finishing it this morning about 445.  Really, I started at LRHB's bedtime on Sunday night and didn't read it all day until his bedtime last night.  I really would have slept better if I'd just finished it last night, but I thought I could wait.  My subconscious was telling me, "not so much on the waiting!".

Vanessa Diffenbaugh writes this incredibly fascinating tale about a young, angry girl aging out of the foster care system in San Francisco.  As we learn about Victoria, we learn that she'd once had a chance at a family and had thrown it away out of guilt and fear of love.  That family taught her about the meaning of flowers; that during Victorian times (see the symbolism stuff there, her name is Victoria and she learns about Victorian times) each flower was said to have a meaning, therefore bouquets of flowers had meanings.  She parlayed this knowledge into a career, inadvertenly crossed paths with her past and learns many lessons along the way about love. 

I chose to read this book because of a post on Momastery.  In fact it is our Monkee Book Club read and on November 8th, the night before my crazy Holiday Craft Fair with 100+ vendors that I AM IN CHARGE OF, we are having a national live-stream book club session.  I think it is so cool.  I think I have something else that night, but I better not.  If you want to read the post, click here: http://momastery.com/blog/2012/09/27/i-have-never-been-more-excited-about-a-post-ever/.

Vanessa Diffenbaugh is committed to help youth aging out of the foster care system.  This is a huge national issue!  Yet, no one is talking about it!  (you're right, I am trying to get Katie Couric to talk about it... any minute people from her show are going to show up at my door and arrest me for stalking, sort of).  You can learn more here:  https://camellianetwork.org/

As I was getting ready to write this post, I looked it up to be sure that I heard about it on Momastery; I am blonde, you know.  And when I googled the author I thought, I know her!  Actually, I do not, it's just that I read so much about her 3 weeks ago that I recognized her picture.  Then, I clicked on the home page for the book on the publishers website and read a quote about the book... it was by JAIME FORD!  That must be where I got the book title Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet to read!  I love how things just work themselves out sometimes!

So get this book fast, read it and join me on November 8th for adult book club!  I'm returning my copy to the library today!

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

No, that isn't someplace I've been to visit.  It is the title of a Jamie Ford book that I just finished.  Facinating tale combining the facts of being Japanese in America during WWII, with a treasure hunt and a love story (although I doubt the author would want it classified that way as it would be less appealing to men).  Although the story bounces back and forth between between the mid-1980's and WWII, the tale was easy to follow, the characters were flawed, but identifiable and overall it reminded me a bit of Forest Gump as the author touched on several issues current in the time. 

I am trying to remember how I found this book, but for the life of me I have no idea.  However, I would definitely recommended it!

Happiness is...

Are you a happy person?  I have friends that fall into both categories!  And I've really been thinking about this HAPPINESS thing over the last week. 

At Bible study yesterday, I revealed to a group of ladies that I take an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety pill and I call it my "happy pill".  They seemed surprised.  I think that because I am a naturally happy person (that glass is definitely half-full), that the fact that I suffer from Depression catches people off guard.  Yes, I think I can be diagnosed with Depression AND be a naturally happy person; they are separate issues.  One is a chemical thing while the other is a state of mind.  I remember when I was first diagnosed with Postpartum Depression.  I cried every day.  Sometimes several times a day.  I didn't want my boys to grow up with the mom that cries all the time.  So, I started medication.  And later I went off, but then life happens so now I'm back on.  Does the pill really make me happy? No, it allows me to be who I am. But I wasn't really sure after the discussion if I'd completely conveyed that idea. Do over!

Another thing that happened was that I have a young friend that is just accepting that she suffers from this illness. She's been coming to terms with it because it often is perceived as such a negative thing. It is a label for someone who is crazy. NOT! As she said, "It does not come from, what many people think, not enough prayer," and "It is not because I had terrible parents." I wondered if she had known that I had suffered from both postpartum and regular old depression/anxiety? I wondered if I can help?  So I reached out; I was OPEN to her so she might feel like she can be OPEN with me. 

Then I watched the Katie show all about Happiness.  It was about finding or creating a job that makes you happy; she had an expert speak to what really makes people happy; and she interviewed two ladies, one of whom was Gretchen Craft Rubin. She wrote the Happiness Project... and her book is my very next read! As I understand it, she spent a year chasing happiness in her life and this book tells the story. I went to the Katie Couric show website and took the Are You Happy Quiz. No surprise, I was impossibly happy with my life.  Finally, something else on the show clicked with something that happened last week. Everyone kept asking me last Wednesday how I did IT. I baked 4 cakes, 4 dozen cookies, made 3 main dishes (one for my family); I drove my high school student to volunteer, then to a picnic and then to school;  I volunteered all morning at the elementary school and 5-6 hours in the afternoon and evening with the high school band. On the show they talked about what really makes people happy is doing for others.   It makes me happy to fix meals and desserts for the teachers who work so hard teaching children. It makes me happy to volunteer.  It makes me happy to serve my family.  That's how I got IT done! 

I try to live my life OPEN about my depression because I want to remove that "label" or "stereotype" of crazy. I am a great person, who cares for others, loves my life, volunteers, and I suffer from depression.  I know friends who battle their depression with exercise or diet or yoga. But sometimes, THAT'S NOT ENOUGH. MEDICATION IS OKAY. MEDICATION IS OKAY. I think I feel strongly about that. I really want to live my life openly because Brooke Shields helped me through her book about postpartum depression. And my depression didn't look like hers and yours won't look like mine. But she really helped me and I have a pay it forward mentality.  Everyone travels their own road.  Along mine, I sing a little Bobby McFerrin song, "Don't worry, be happy!  Don't worry, be happy now!"

Katie Couric

I started watching "Katie" this fall.  I've always been a fan of Katie Couric and had I ever watched the evening news, I would have watched her.  But I don't watch it.  So for a few years, I missed my Katie girl.  Now I can get her daily and I'm really enjoying it.  I have a gazillion topics I want her to cover.  I hope she's around for a long time because I find her format refreshing and not the same old thing.  Let's get this straight, she keeps me company as I clean baseboards and bathrooms, while I fold laundry and clean the kitchen.  I don't sit around eating bon bons watching her.

She sometimes focuses an entire show on a topic like she did when she interviewed Barbra Streisand or covered Internet Safety.  Sometimes she has on several people that may or may not relate to each other or that relate to a theme such as Happiness.  I am rarely up-to-date on the shows and currently have 8 Tivo'd as yesterday I watched other stuff.  Monday afternoon is my catch up on TV day and fold laundry day.  I find myself thinking of all kinds of things to blog about when I am watching her show.  Like, I've never watched any Barbra Streisand's movies and I'm wondering if I am "too young" like my friend who'd never seen When Harry Met Sally which I consider a classic of MY generation of movies and if it is because I wouldn't call my mom a Barbra fan.  So I find myself wondering if others have watched them and what your favorite would be.  Or the day they discussed Internet Safety.  My boys weren't allowed to have computers in their rooms until their senior year of high school and even now, when they're in the shower, I'll check their history.  And it really is a hot topic and should be like drugs, drinking and sex, an ongoing discussion.  Since I have old children, I felt while watching the show that day that I should blog about how I've kept my kiddos safe so far on the internet.  All I've got is those two things:  keeping tabs and keeping them in my presence.

The next two shows may have their own blogs.  One is about Happiness, a topic that I've been pondering all on my own.  The other show is about the mom that inspired last week's goal of being in the pictures, in the moment.  I cannot wait to see her in person because I did find her blog inspiring.

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Not my journey, not my journey

As I read Kisses for Katie, I had to repeat the mantra "not my journey, not my journey," so that I wouldn't be consumed with Catholic guilt.  This beautiful young woman gives up the "traditional American dream" of college and marriage to her high school sweetheart and having babies down the road from mom for FOLLOWING JESUS.  Seriously, she FOLLOWS JESUS in all of her decisions. 

Her story is a little like the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie book.  If you send Katie to Uganda to teach, she's going to want to feed her students.  And after she feeds them, she's going to want to give them medical care.  And after getting them medical care, she'll find many more that want to go to school and need to figure out how to send them.  And after sending more and more children to school, she's going to find little souls that need a mommy.  So she becomes a mommy.

In every endeavour, she prays.  She actively seeks Him and teaches about Him and lives her life for Him.  Wow.  It's her journey.  But, I am thinking more about how MY journey which doesn't involve going to Africa could look a little more like He would like. 

I totally recommend this book if reading about someone who has dedicated her life to God is your thing.  It isn't everyone's thing and if it isn't, you'll hate this book.  It took me months to get the book from the library, like 3-4, so put your name on the list now.  One reason is it isn't a quick read, not that it is boring either.  Maybe it is just me, but I kept getting her daughters and their stories mixed up and I needed a timeline, also, to help me follow her story.  But she's amazing.  Her 501C is Amazina found here:  http://www.amazima.org/index.html.  I cannot wait to go on her blog and attempt to get caught up; here is her blog:  http://www.kissesfromkatie.blogspot.com/.

Happy Reading!

If you give a mom a cloth, she's going to want a mop!

If you wipe down the baseboards, you're going to realize that the window sills need serious attention, not a quick wipe with the cloth like you've been doing all summer.  And if you wipe down the window sills really well, you're going to discover that the windows need cleaning.  And if you clean the windows on the inside, you discover you're going to need to clean the outside.  And if you clean the outside, you will discover your flower beds need weeding and the lawn needs fertilizing.  And when you go into the garage to get the fertilizer spreader, you discover that weeks ago you pledged to clean the garage and it still hasn't happened.  So you go in the house to get a drink (cause don't ya deserve one) and wash your hands when you see the cloth that you were using to wipe down the baseboards and remember that you haven't finished that job so you go back to it only to discover that the walls need to be wiped down, too.  So Resolution 43 is WINDOWS.  Resolution 44 is prepping the yard for winter before it arrives (again) on Friday. 

Happy Monday!

Oh no! It's Monday already!

I will probably post several times over today and tomorrow because (imagine this) I have A LOT to say!  I've finished 2 books, started a third, sent my son on a College Trip, watched several Katie shows which really get my brain going on stuff I have to say AND I want to update you on the resolutions!

For now, I am thinking of you and hoping you are thinking of me too.  Happy Monday!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hot Topic and I'm Guilty, but It is Resolution 42


That is a link to a blog that has gone WILD this week even landing the writer on Katie Couric's show.  It is about being in the pictures, not just behind the camera.   I'm guilty.  I had to hunt and search for a picture of me to post on my blog and you saw what I chose.  It is from our family vacation to Big Bear Lake in the summer of 2010.  I have another one from that same trip as my FB pic.  Now, I had some pictures taken of me since them, but none I want to be posting and not that many to choose from.  Today, we took my senior out for his senior pictures.  Do you think that we could have taken one of the two of us together?  Sure.  Did we?  NO!  Guilty, guilty, guilty.  At the bottom of the blog there is an option to submit a picture of you with your kids.  No, I didn't send one in but another blogger I read did:  http://aninchofgray.blogspot.com/2012/10/you-oughta-be-in-pictures.html.  And she ended up on the EVENING NEWS when they were discussing this same blog.  Probably because in her case, it helps her to remember her son and is unlike the other side of the story (we want our kids to see us in the moments with them).

I have many moments in this next year.  And I am going to try to document them in front of as well as behind the camera.  I want my kiddos to remember me in the moment.  And I'm not going to wait until I've dropped my baby weight.  LOL.  My baby is nearly 8.  Make someone take a picture of you in the moment or moments this week.  Resolution 42. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

And the resolutions roll on...

Fall has truly arrived.  And just like a mother gets nesting urges prior to delivery, fall brings cleaning urges to my soul.  It could just be guilt because I've had a cleaning epiphany:  I'm a lousy house cleaner.  And I came to this enlightenment in this way...

So resolution for this week was going to be clean the baseboards.  And as I was cleaning baseboards yesterday, I thought how it would be a good resolution and how I could go through the entire house and clean them (see how that worked?  I was doing something and decided to make it a resolution which is how they come about some weeks).  And then I thought to myself, what is my resolution journey supposed to be about? (because when you are cleaning baseboards, you have a lot of thinking time!)  Perhaps, if I list cleaning baseboards as a resolution people will laugh because this is something they do all the time.  Perhaps everyone else in the world (or at least everyone who lives in houses with baseboards) cleans their baseboards weekly or monthly, not annually.  Do they?  Am I like the worst housekeepper ever?  And as I am actually cleaning the mirror (being short means I often will wipe down counters without ever cleaning the mirror), I thought, "I bet people wash their mirrors more frequently, too."  And the spiral downward began.  I mean, I still haven't created that cleaning chore list... why?  Perhaps I know deep down inside that it is because I will not actually follow it.  I am a need-to-clean cleaner.  Dinner guests coming?  Need to Clean.  Someone coming to stay?  Need to Clean.  Spill copious amounts of sticky icky stuff on floor?  Need to Clean.  See the pattern.  I do want to clarify... I don't live in a pit.  I start nearly every day out sweeping the floor and every evening wiping down counters.  I know where the vacuum is and I've been teaching the LRHB how to use it. I have trained Teen Boy to wipe down bathrooms in advance of people arriving.  I just surface clean, ya know?

But as I finished cleaning the baseboards in my big old bathroom (see not even the whole house, just one room), I felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment!  Then I got on FB and discovered my Sweet LM was trying to get motivated to clean.  And apparently so were many of her FB friends commenting that when she finds said motivation, to pass it along.  So how can I motivate?  Start a challenge?  It being the beginning of the month (okay so its the second week), perhaps if I work really hard and get the entire home into a place of cleanliness, maintaining it will be easier with a program.  And perhaps if I am doing that, my Sweet LM will get on board with me!  And perhaps then her friends will too!  And I will realize my LIFELONG DREAM to be QUEEN OF HOUSECLEANING!  or not.

Resolution 41 - Clean the baseboards.  Anything more than that will be gravy.  Yesterday's gravy was my master bathroom.  Minus the shower cause that's another project.

Suggestions welcome!

Laughing and Laughing and Laughing...

A book I waited for several months came in at the library and I was going to read it next.  Until I found out another book had to be returned so I stopped reading book one and began reading Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich about my favorite bounty hunter Stephanie Plum.  It was a super fast read; a holiday book in fact (which did have me dreaming of holiday music, but since my family already thinks November 1st is too soon, I think October 7th would completely freak them out).  The premise was completely unreal, superhero based which is not my thing (not a spiderman, or any other superhero movie watcher) and so funny!  It was Stephanie the bounty hunter at her best/worst (same thing) along with her crazy family without the suspense and sex drama of the other books (don't get me wrong, I still love the other books).  This was by far my FAVORITE book in the series.  Hands down.  Looking for a fun holiday read, put this on your list of to-dos!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Follow-up to Resolution 28 and Resolution 40

I thought it might amuse you if I recapped some of the things I found in my freezers when I cleaned them out...
  1. Mystery brown liquid #1 - I think it might have been broth, but just not sure.
  2. Mystery brown liquid #2 - beer.  Mike didn't like it so I froze it to use while cooking.  This just happened over labor day weekend, so I will probably make cheddar beer soup this weekend and get it used up.
  3. Mystery red stuff - pretty sure it was tomato paste, but I usually freeze tomato paste in 1 T dollops so I ditched it.
  4. Apple pie leftover from last Thanksgiving.  Looks fine so we'll probably eat it. 
  5. Bag of sweet potatoes from last winter.  Those look good too so I will probably try to work them into the dinner rotation soon(ish).  Before Thanksgiving for sure.
  6. Jam we made last year.  Need to give it out because I'm in the process of making more. 
Resolution 40 is to clean out the refrigerator.  Who knows what I'll find!

The latest Debbie read...

On the front of the book it states "a vintage novel".  I didn't mind the lack of cell phones and computers.  I did find the poor characterizations and irregular plot line to be disheartening.  Undercover Dreamer was not a good Debbie Macomber read.  I think this is twice that I've picked up her older novels only to be disappointed.  Hopefully, I'll remember next time to JUST SAY NO.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Okay, folks... it is time for a book update.  I have officially exceeded the weeks of the year with the books I've read as this book update will discuss 4 BOOKS (50-53)!

So, I get my book titles in many, many ways.  Back at the beginning of the year, I'd gotten some book titles from Sally Lee, editor-in-chief of LHJ.  One of those titles was a novel, Room.  So when I typed it into the library database to reserve it, many titles came up.  After reading a few of them, I ended up with Room and three others.  They were all very different stories by different authors and I enjoyed them all, though some more than others.

Up in Honey's Room by Elmore Leonard was about a German spy living in Detroit as a butcher during WW II and married to an American, Miss Honey Deal who leaves him on their first anniversary.  Fast-forward a few years, add some other spies, some escapees and a rugged US Marshall and we have a funny tale of espionage.  I wouldn't say it was a thriller, but entertaining.  Will I read more of his works?  Probably not.  Mostly, I wanted to know how it would end and the ending was satisfying and a bit surprising.

The next title that I found interesting was Twelve Rooms with a View by Theresa Rebeck.  It was filled with eccentric characters, themes of regret and deceit and had a LOT of drama.  After the beginning which I found to be very compelling, I got bogged down in the middle.  However, the ending proved to be delightful.  I actually intend to try her novel, Three Girls and Their Brother, (although I have no idea what the story is about) because I did enjoy the ending and the characters.

Then I read the title that got it all started:  Room by Emma Donoghue.  It reminded me of the Jaycee Dugard memoir that I read earlier this year, but this was fictional and not as horrific for many reasons.  Some of the most compelling parts came in section 3 when issues arose that I wonder now if Jaycee and her daughters faced.  I actually found myself comparing the situations and then reminding myself that this was FICTION and what happened to Jaycee was REAL.  It was a captivating story and I do intend to try other books by this author.

The final book with room in the title that caught my attention was The Amber Room by Steve Berry.  Although fiction, it is based on an actual artifact that was truly stolen by Hitler during WWII.  He weaves fiction and fact together creating a captivating thriller.  Out of these four books, this was by far my favorite and the most difficult to put down.  I enjoyed the characters, the plot and the ending as it even had a bit of romance in it!  He reminds me very much an author I read some years back, Nelson Demille.

So ROOM has been the theme for the last few weeks of reading.  Now onto a quick Debbie Macomber and then Kisses for Katie a novel I've been waiting for from the library for months.

Do you have some good books for me to read?