Monday, November 29, 2010

Adjusting for our seasonal ADHD

In a normal year, June is the only month we take off from "school."  I use quotes because most everyone knows that education need not be confined to school time.  In fact, the two often exist as mutually exclusive subsets.  I merely become more stealthy than usual in June and lighten up some of the daily skills practice.  July and August build a reserve that allows me to adjust our schooling in December without guilt.  

'Cuz let's face it--the clan, they do get squirrely in December.  Frankly, so do I.

The only December task for which the kids can muster single minded focus is hunting down every present hiding spot.  This they accomplish with ruthless efficiency.  Holiday toy catalogs become their singular choice of reading material.

I begin dreaming of Tuba Christmas and other holiday activities.  Our "school" looks increasingly pale and anemic in comparison to Gladiator Challenge and Family Christmas Fest.  Closing the gaps pointed out by the kids' academic evaluations seems best saved for the doldrums of February, not the crisp excitement of the Christmas season.

"Fun it up" becomes my December schooling mantra.  My definition of fun rarely matches the kids', but I don't let that deter me.  We have a beautiful new Mac which we underutilize, so this month, I am determined to learn how to use the darn thing.  Being far too lazy to do this myself, I will assign each application to a kid to master and teach to me.  They need the practice and will like that they get to be on the computer without it counting toward their allotted hour of media time.

They also need to learn how to cook better.  If you've been reading my blog for a while, thoughts of my Dishwasher Salmon--which I did try despite Mr. Wonderful's protests--are returning to haunt you.  Fear not, this time, I have a book!  My children may never know how to bake chicken, broil meat or mash a potato, but who could resist learning to cook Hotch-Potch, Hopping John and Marched Pane? I will oversee while nursing some Whipped Syllabub.  Doesn't it sound like fun?  The cookbook fits our colonial America study theme and theme is so much more important than silly little things like food being edible, doncha think?

How does your family adjust for December's fantastic frenzy?


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Get your Kids Free Money by this Sunday!

A truly great deal out there this weekend.  ING Direct (FDIC insured) is offering $25 bonus into each kid savings account opened by Sunday.  You can do this online here.

If the link is not working, just google ING Direct.

The minimum amount to open the account is $.51 cents.  The savings account pays just over 1% interest currently, up to six free transactions per month.  Easy online registration form.

The only slight snag is that you will only be able to set up for one child immediately.  When you try to open an account for the second kid, a box pops up that says there is a slight issue with your account and it gives you a number to call.

I waited on hold for about three minutes. 

In short, you can't set up a second account until ING confirms your primary bank account.  This is easy to do, but takes a couple business days.  The phone rep will give you a reference code, good until mid-December, that you can use to open the add'l kid accounts and still receive the $25 bonus.

Well worth the very slight hassle for $125 (in our family's case).  The adult does not need to be an ING customer (we aren't) to take advantage of this offer.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Rain on the Just and the Unjust Alike.

If yesterday's post was earnestness and honesty and just reward, today's is sloth, procrastination, serendipity and unjust reward.

We spent a nauseating amount of money last night at Home Depot to get rid of our nauseating, stained, sun faded, builder original, decade plus old carpeting.

I always wanted to plant bulbs, but am fundamentally too lazy to do so.  So many holes, so much dirt, varying depths and for what?  to be food for all the darn bunnies around here?

Hope springs eternal, even for the lazy and inept.

Leaving Home Depot last night, I saw these All-in-One garden pots, a biodegradable planting pot with all the bulbs contained at the appropriate depth.  Better yet, the pots were marked down from $10 to $3.  Best of all, Chicagoland will be experiencing our last 60 degree day here with a drizzly rain.  By tomorrow, we're headed for a 40 degree temperature plunge.  God, in his infinite mercy and common grace, sent me one last planting day.  This morning, in all of 5 minutes, I got 80 bulbs in the ground.

He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
Matthew 5:45


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Makes This Former Waitress Proud

Many will be surprised to learn that our oldest son is a talker.  Not those who knew him back when he was two; they can never forget his constant narration of his existence. "I'm walking; I'm walking; I'm running in a semi-flattened oval; I'm running in a semi-flattened oval."  The rest of you may be surprised to learn it because these days, much like his father, mini-Mr. Wonderful must know you well and like you to want to talk around you.

My husband honestly is quiet.  Mini-Mr. Wonderful, not really.  In fact, for a lot of his life, I've worked on convincing him that not every observation of his needs to be expressed.  His narration tends toward the TMI category.  Perhaps he is not emotionally self-disclosing, but I know more about the status of every pore on his face than any mother needs or wants to know.  That's just the tip of the TMI iceberg.

Mini-Mr. Wonderful is without guile and will honestly answer any question posed to him.  While I don't want him to lie, I worry that this trait coupled his gentle soul will lead him to a world of hurt.  I wonder if he will be taken advantage of.  I wonder if his peers will laugh at him.  You don't hear much these days about folks being earnest, but that is the adjective that best describes this son.

A friend took the older boys out to CiCi's pizza this weekend.  The cashier pressed the boys on their decision to have just water.  I guess this is not usual in the teen boy crowd.  "Are you sure you don't want soda?"

She asked the wrong boy.  If this kid had adopted any of his mother's training, he would have said simply "No, thank you."

Instead, what he said was, "We want to make sure we have enough money for a tip, so no thank you.  We'll just have water."

I will pause here while you say, "Awww..."  Showing that I too possess the TMI trait, I will admit my first thought upon hearing this was, "Crap.  Why didn't I send him with more money?"

A few minutes later, the cashier brought the boys over soda cups and told them they were very polite kids and to go ahead and get sodas.  My son told me this with a somewhat guilty look--I am sure his rule oriented being was uncomfortable with indulging in unpaid for soda--and he assured me that he and his brother thanked the cashier then and again when they left.

Sometimes, mothers see the downside of traits when they should be celebrating their positive implications.

Nice guys don't always finish last.  Sometimes, they get free sodas.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Let the HateFest Begin!

No one is ever going to hate me for being too rich or too thin, so I must find some other way to stoke my ego beast.

This should do it.

Let it be said, that on this day, November 18, 2010, with the exception of two presents (one on rain check, one we are still mulling), and a couple o' stocking stuffers and gift cards, I am done with Christmas shopping. 

Not only that, but my holiday cards are ordered.

My presents are wrapped, labelled and hidden away.  Stocking stuffers are in bags labelled by child and stored in one yet larger bag.

Did I mention that I chose a different wrapping paper for each child, and wrapped every present of theirs in that paper?  On Christmas morning, we will be able to tell at a glance to whom each present belongs and be able to dole them out in a balanced rotation.

I thought you all would want to know.  


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Speaking of Successful Blogs

I must admit I am recently and completely obsessed with The Pioneer Woman's blog.  I heard she offered wonderful give-aways on her site and noticed a gorgeous lidded pot available for enthused readers who left a comment on Friday and Friday only.  Ree mentioned three would be given away and I thought my chances might be pretty good.  That is, until I scrolled down to comments and saw 33,000 other folks had beaten me to the punch.  In one day.

Whereas I hesitate to remove my own page views from my Blogger stats lest I am left with no stats at all.  I've always maintained I'm my own best audience and Blogger stats shows I'm no liar.

You can imagine my surprise and joy when someone I don't know in real life and am not related to by blood or marriage mentioned my blog the other day on a homeschool mom chat board.

In my euphoria, I did not notice she began her post title with a "Hmmm..."  Rookie mistake.  "Hmmm...." and "Just curious" always mean the poster is about to eviscerate you.  Don't be fooled if you are on a Christian mama board or even talking to a real life Christian mama.  They can be the most practiced at this skill.  Beware in the South that this type usually precedes the comment with a "bless your heart" or "bless her heart" before moving in for the kill.

I skipped the hmm until I read the comment, which sweetly wondered if I hadn't blogged just the opposite perspective of the one I voiced on the chat board.

I don't know, did I?  Very possibly.  I deliberately ignored the obvious "you hypocrite" undertone and decided to center on the positive.  This lady remembered my blog?  And a post I didn't even remember?  That's amazing to me.  I can't remember what I said yesterday and my writing lodged that firmly in her brain?

Naturally, I thanked her for being a reader and asked her to become a "follower" of the blog so I would know she's reading.  Plus, 11 followers seems so much less loser-ish than 10, don'tcha think?

To which she replied she was NOT (ok, I capped.  She didn't, but it felt like she did.) a reader.  She had read it one time, "Sorry to pop my bubble."

But ya know what?  I'm still kindof elated.  I never did find whatever post she recalled, but I obviously provoked an intense reaction in her.  Strongly negative, but surely that's better than lukewarm, right?  I'm gonna go out on limb here and state categorically that Jesus thought so.  And you know Jesus is the trump card that ends all arguments, so I win.

I don't want you all--all 10 of you--to think poorly of this woman because she seems quite friendly and wonderful to everyone else on the board.  I can only surmise the issue is me.  Probably, I brought this one on myself by a true but unnecessary comment a year or so ago in response to a post of hers.  There's another lesson in that for me, I am sure.  If I were going to write myself a note about it, I'd probably begin it with a "Hmmm..."

(If you are reading my blog, whether by FB or another means, if you'd take a moment to become a "follower" on the blog's homepage, I'd appreciate it!)

Blessings, Holly

I am clueless, but that is beside the point.

Take a look at my cell phone--a Nokia 1100 which the Chicago Tribune termed "sexy as a trip to the dentist"--and you get the idea that I'm not a leading indicator of all things new and hip.

So you will forgive me for just this past week discovering  Not that I don't hold each and every one of you partially responsible.  You'd think you might mention a blog written by a homeschooler that gets 10 million hits per month (yes, you read that right) and generates a million dollars a year in ad revenue for its author.  You might have shot me an email that it would be wise for me to buy P-Dub's cookbook.  Or that I might want to line up to see the story of how she met her husband as portrayed on the big screen by Reese Witherspoon.

But you didn't and so I had to go find her on my own.  Which only took me five years more than the rest of America.  Thanks.  Now I am kicking myself that I have to volunteer at AWANA this coming Wednesday rather than be watching the Food Network when The Pioneer Woman engages in a Throwdown with Bobby Flay.  TiVo it? DVR?  Please refer to paragraph one.  I'd dig out an old VHS tape to record it, but I never figured out how to do that either.

I thought this entry in her homeschooling section captured a lot of how many of us--well, those of us with a sense of humor anyway--think of the endeavor.

One paragraph of Ree's in particular that I love:

Lots of people support our decision to homeschool. Some are quietly guarded. Others think we’re mentally ill. I vacillate between all three myself. Believe me, if you’re shaking your head reading this, I understand. If you think I’m a nutjob, I totally get it. If you think my kids will grow up to be weird, you’re probably right. And if you think I’m a freak? You’re right on the money.
But you know what? It works for us.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Most mornings, I read my neighbor's blog.  She usually has something interesting to say and I'm always interested in what those around me think.  I'm still mulling her "Who's the Boss" column.

Last night, after my second suggestion for his upcoming workday in which he will be meeting the new boss of his boss, my husband told me to stop 'helping' him.

These are not unrelated.

I had been thinking pious thoughts for a couple of weeks after reading Pam's blog.  What woman can't relate to her list of the endless details that women attend to and keep stored in their internal rolodex?  But God's the boss of our marriage, I thought.  (Trust me, it sounded even more smug in my head than it does in print). Then Mr. Wonderful, then me.  When I have time, I thought, I will write a wonderful blog post explaining the God given hierarchy in marriage.  I will even pull out the verses we picked for our marriage ceremony:

Two are better than one, 
   because they have a good return for their labor: 
10 If either of them falls down, 
   one can help the other up. 
But pity anyone who falls 
   and has no one to help them up. 
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. 
   But how can one keep warm alone? 
12 Though one may be overpowered, 
   two can defend themselves. 
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.  Eccl. 4:9-12

I will wrap that up with an elegant explanation of Who the third strand is and send my blog out into the cyberworld desperately in need of my wisdom and pontification.

Every so often--though not nearly as frequently as I would like--God stays my hand and prevents me from presenting myself as not only trite but also the pompous Hundred Acre Woods Owl that I am.

Because really, a lot of our marriage has been a struggle for me to get my rightly ordered head knowledge to be reflected in my actual actions.

Last night was but a small example.  When I am nervous, I often feel like I need to 'help.'  The more I don't have control over a situation, the more I need to help it.

Surprisingly(?), Mr. Wonderful isn't a fan of those times.  And I imagine God probably isn't either.   And you know what, I'm really not either.  I remind myself of Peter being an idiot in Matthew 17--uh, Pete?  They're transfigured--they don't a shelter built.  Every time I read that passage I think Peter is talking just to talk.

I understand.

So, the question remains Who's the Boss?  Wouldn't it be wonderful if my actions so reflected that answer as to make my blog post about it unnecessary?