Monday, May 25, 2009

Thoughts and prayers

I've been visiting a blog written by the mother of a little girl named Faith Hope, who was born with an anencephaly. Most anencephalic babies die a within minutes of birth, if they survive the birth process at all. Her little girl just recently passed away, at the age of three months. If you pray, maybe you could say a prayer for them.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Uniformly Crazy

Bella's school has gone insane over uniforms. They have flip-flopped multiple times over logos and styles and some parents who went ahead and ordered based on the initial requirements are ticked. Below are the notices we have received, just regarding sweatshirts (which are fairly inconsequential around here, since they wear them for about two months):

Notice: Regular or zippered sweatshirts are allowed but they cannot have a hood and must have the embroidered school logo.

Notice: Sweatshirts can have a hood but they must not have a zipper and must have the embroidered school logo.

Notice: Only plain sweatshirts without hoods or zippers will be permitted and must have the embroidered school logo.

Notice: Any sweatshirt style will be allowed but it must have the embroidered school logo.

And finally, coming in AFTER the uniform session at the school where many people purchased an official sweatshirt bearing the embroidered school logo:

Notice: The embroidered logo sweatshirts will only be allowed for 09/10 school year. After that all sweatshirts must have the silk-screened school logo. Anyone not wearing this style after the 09/10 school year will be considered out of uniform.

I'm not kidding! I am thinking about starting a polite stink about the uniform situation. You are only allowed to purchase uniforms from one source, and they do not have a store in town. You have to drive an hour into Alabama to purchase uniforms (it's 47 miles away from my house - I just checked), or pay a shipping rate that starts at $12 and goes up from there. And the real kick in the teeth comes when you realize that the jumper you are driving an hour to buy (or paying $12 to ship) costs $34.95 at the shop the school uses, but you can buy it on for $14.95. Seriously. But you are not allowed to purchase it from french toast - all over the uniform page it is specified that uniforms MUST be purchased at the specific retailer. I wonder if they go around checking tags during the school year, to make certain. Surely not.

I understand the logo issue, make me buy anything with a logo from the 'local' store, but jumpers and shorts and pants? Let me get them for more than half off somewhere else. At least give us one other option. It's hard enough to come up with tuition, much less driving for an hour to buy overpriced uniform pieces. I understand the point of uniforms is to be, well, uniform, but adding one more option that is more affordable and is selling the exact same items...I don't see what the problem is.

However, I am not good at starting a stink. I am too afraid of offending, and the parish priest and the sisters running the school have too much to worry about without me getting up in their business about uniforms. I don't want to start an offensive stink, understand, but I would like for them to honestly consider the idea. I think I'm going to check out the other Catholic schools in the area and see what they do, and then talk to a few parents to see if they agree with me, and then come up with some facts and a thoughtfully worded presentation. It might all come to nothing, but it's worth a try. Look out - woman on a mission!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Look out internet!

Bella's grades have dropped a little this term - not a whole lot, and not so much that I am very concerned, but I would rather nip issues in the bud before we have a big problem. We had a serious discussion in the car this evening about how important it is to do well in school, and to do the very best job you can, even if it seems hard, and so on and so forth.

I have been wracking my brain lately, trying to come up with ideas to make her summer reading more enjoyable for her and other ways to keep her reading and writing skills fresh over the summer. I was working on a blog post earlier and she came over to the computer and started asking questions about what I was doing and why, etc. Then she said, "I wish I could have a blog." I had an aha moment (don't sue me, Mutual of Omaha!) and told her that she could -thus, Bella on Books was born.

She was so excited about the idea that she hurried up and finished the book she was reading so she could write her first 'review'. I told her that she needs to write out her posts longhand first, so she will know what to type. So she will read (hooray!), she will write (awesome!) and she will type (woohoo!). All skills she can use when school starts again.

She helped me with the setup - she chose the template, and she ever-so-slowly pecked out the wording for her greeting. She even wrote her first review tonight. I am very interested to see how her writing will progress over the summer - if you look at the blog, her first post is perfunctory at best. But it was also a rush job, since she wanted to get it done before showering and bed.

She seems really excited about it, and if that is what it takes for her to get excited about reading and writing, then fine by me.

Speaking of school, Bella found the new year's tuition notice from her school. It was in her homework folder, and she thought it was for her and opened it. She asked me to explain it, so I did, telling her the number at the bottom was how much we paid per month for her to go to school. She was aghast, and then she said, "I can't believe you pay that much, mom! That is so much money!" (It's not THAT expensive, but any dollar amount greater than $5 is a lot of money to her). She then said, "Well, I wouldn't pay that much money". I told her she gets a very good education, and that combined with the religious education she is receiving makes it very much worth it to her father and I. She still wasn't convinced, but I told her she was worth every penny. Her reply? "That's an awful lot of pennies."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What's eating you?

Because something is eating Bubba. Mosquitoes, specifically. We live in swamp, so we are used to mosquitoes, but these are persistent mosquitoes who snuck into the house somehow. We don't leave the door open, but they sneak in on our clothing, or hurriedly fly in while we are coming or going. I should check our phone bill - I bet while we're out of the house they're making long distance phone calls and eating all of our Easter candy. Stupid bugs.

Bubba seems to be getting the worst of the bites, and they have been bad:

You can't really tell from this angle, but he has a bug bite on his eyelid that made his eye swell almost shut. You can see it better in the photo below:

It was HORRIBLE. He won't keep ice or a cold compress on it (which is really the only thing we can do at this point). Please ignore my messy fridge and my husband's overgrown goatee.

He has about six bites on the back of his neck. They seem to be going down rather quickly, giving me hope that the bite over his eye will settle down just as fast. And yes, he does need a haircut. But it will hurt me a little bit to cut off those curls.

He has another 5 or 6 bites on his torso, and one on each arm. This has all happened inside my house. That makes me feel terrible.

I made a desperate trip to Wal-Mart last night and picked up a couple of indoor pest repellent things that plug into the wall. I'm hoping those will work. And I have become very strict about the opening and closing of the front door or our sliding door. We open the door, dash out and close it quickly again, or vice versa. This morning Bella wanted to check the weather, and she was headed to the door when I said, "That's why we have the internet and the weather channel! Don't open the door!".

This, too, shall pass, I'm sure. As long as I stay vigilant about the doors we should be OK. This is just another reason to add the the already long list of reasons that I can't wait to get out of this apartment. In the meantime, if anyone can offer any advice for...

  • keeping mosquitoes out of your home
  • doing something about mosquitoes once they get inside your home
  • natural anti-itch remedies
  • a way to keep an ice pack or cold compress on a wriggly, stubborn 15-month old

...I would appreciate it. In the meantime we will make do. In an itchy kind of way.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Duly Noted

I had to go to the girl scout store the other day to get a few last minute items for the girls. And by a few last minute items I mean all the things I was supposed to be accumulating over the course of the year but didn't - I can procrastinate with the best of them, as long as I can do it tomorrow. They actually had everything I needed, so I happily went to the checkout counter and started digging in my purse for the troop checkbook. And I dug, and I dug, until I started to feel slightly panicky.

I excused myself to the woman behind the counter and went out to the car, frantically digging through all the trash in the floorboards and all the random stuff in the seats, until I remembered that I had put the checkbook in one of the bags I bring to meetings. I heaved a sigh of relief and went back inside, arranging to have my purchases held until the next day.

After work and dinner with my in-laws, I went home, got the kids settled in bed and went to get the checkbook from the bag. I encountered a slight problem when it was not there. So I did a little more digging, and a little more rifling, and every time I searched through something I would be absolutely certain that the checkbook had to be there, and then it wasn't. Anxiety building, I went back out to the car and did a cursory search, but still nothing.

I spent the rest of the evening, until 1AM, searching through various, assorted and very random places in my apartment ("Maybe it's in the vanity drawer in the master bathroom!"), and turned up nothing. I finally forced myself to go to bed, trying to reassure myself that it would turn up the next day. But I didn't manage to fall asleep, because I spent the next two hours doing this: "Ok, sleep, sleep, go to sleep....wait, maybe it's in the laundry room!" and then I would get up and search the laundry room, to no avail. Then I would lay back down and do it all over again: "Alright, going to sleep now....wait, what if I put it in my household binder? I bet that's where it is!" and so on and so on, until it was after 3AM and I was driving myself absolutely insane.

This morning dawned long before I was prepared for it, and after shuttling Bella off to school I settled back into my random searching of places-it-couldn't-possibly-be-but-I-hoped-beyond-hope it might be. After getting frustrated with the house, I decided to search the car again, so I grabbed Bubba and a lawn-sized garbage bag (my car was really filthy) and started cleaning out the car. Roughly a half hour and a stuffed full lawn-sized bag of trash later, I still couldn't find the checkbook. I had felt panicky before, but at that point I was officially panicking.

Losing my personal checkbook would have been stressful, but losing the scouts checkbook made me feel absolutely terrible. It's one thing to be irresponsible with your own things, but to be irresponsible with something that belongs to a bunch of little girls...that hurts. Those girls and their parents worked hard for that money, and it is entrusted to my care, and...well, I felt like I had let them down. I was also worried that I had dropped the checks somewhere and some less than honest person had found them. I wouldn't want to explain to sixteen young girls that they can't have a Build-A-Bear party because I lost their checks and someone stole their money. That would be disastrous.

I sat down on the sofa and decided to declare it officially lost. At that point I had been on the hunt for over twelve hours, and I saw no point in continuing. Small apartment, small car, only so many places to look. I had to 'fess up, and not only did I feel horribly guilty I felt kind of embarrassed. "Yeah, I know you trusted me with this hard earned money and stuff, and I'm a grown woman who should be able to manage such things, but I lost the checkbook. Some criminal probably picked it up somewhere and is at Rent-A-Center right now, writing a troop check for a big screen TV and a micro-suede couch. My bad."

I sat down at the computer and sent an e-mail to the leader in charge of finances, letting her know what I had managed to do and asking her to call me. I called one of the other leaders and told her about it, feeling utterly horrible about myself. While I was talking to her I realized that my cell phone was about to die, so I walked over to the charger and plugged it in. I was yammering about how bad I felt when I looked down at a box of girl scout stuff in front of me, a box of girl scout stuff I had emptied and searched through twice in the course of my search, and there was the missing checkbook. Not only right in front of my face, but even sticking out a half inch or so.

I think I was taught a lesson in humility today. I didn't find what I was missing until after I had to shamefacedly admit to others what I had done. Others whom I had been criticizing just the day before for (of all things!) their lack of organizational skills. I'm not suggesting divine intervention here or anything, I'm certain God is much too busy to come down, hide, and then later replace an item in an attempt to stop me from gossiping, but no matter why it happened, I'm picking up what was laid down.

Lesson learned.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Makes My Monday: Grandparents Rock

Since I'm posting this so late I won't make it an official 'Makes My Monday' complete with logo - I think I'm coming in a little under the wire for that, but I wanted to share anyway:

I picked up the kids from my sister's house Saturday evening after getting off work. Normally we stay at my sister's house for a while, have dinner and hang out but since my nephew had a date (seriously!) that my sister was going to accompany him on we made other plans. When I first saw Bubba after work he had a drippy nose and was acting rather grumpy.

We decided to head over to my in-law's house, since my father-in-law had been out of town for the week and the kids wanted to see him. Paw-paw, as he is known to my kids, is a big deal to them - especially Bubba. My poor father-in-law has to sneak out of the house if he has to leave while we're there, otherwise Bubba is just utterly devastated.

We pulled up into the driveway and Paw-Paw was standing outside, watering plants. I got Bubba out of the car and let him walk over to my FIL, who stooped down and help his arms out. Bubba toddled up to him and climbed into his arms. "Bubba, you're not smiling!" my FIL commented, tickling him and spinning him around and doing whatever he could to try and coax a smile out of him, but poor Bubba was not in a smiling mood.

My FIL followed us inside the house, calling to my MIL, "Bubba won't smile!". She was alarmed - "Ooh, what's wrong with Maw-Maw's baby doll?" she cooed at him, making faces, trying anything to get him to smile, but he still would not. Bubba just laid back against his Paw-Paw, not looking around or getting down to play, just laying there and blankly watching television.

When I mentioned that my sister had told me he hadn't eaten much that day, they were horrified. Bubba is a voracious eater. My MIL promptly got up and warmed up some jambalaya for him - Bubba loves his rice. He ate a few bites and turned his nose up at it, sniffling and clinging to his Paw-Paw and just looking all-around pitiful.

We had not planned to stay long, because my in-laws were planning on going to dinner and then the grocery store. I tried to tell them that I would get him to eat at home so they could go and do what they had planned to do, but they would have none of it. My MIL started rifling through her kitchen, trying to figure out what Bubba might eat. While she was in there Bella asked if she could have some pancakes and bacon. I was horrified, and quickly told Bella that she could eat at home, but again, they would have none of it. My MIL promptly whipped up some pancakes and cooked some bacon.

Bella sat down to eat and Bubba was looking pretty interested in her pancakes, so my MIL fixed a plate for him. She sat down on the couch, put him on her knee and speared pancake pieces on her fork, giving it to him to feed himself. And he did! And ate two pancakes. He got my MIL all sticky from the syrup, but she didn't care. She fed him, wiped him down, gave him a cookie, and before too much longer he was back to his normal self, running around the house and making a mess. My FIL took him out on the front porch (that he built just so Bubba would have a place outside to run around) and they played with a ball out there until I could get all of our stuff together and get ready to leave.

It was amazing - they hadn't eaten dinner themselves, they had things they needed to do, my FIL had been on a plane all day, and yet they were more worried about making sure my kids were happy than their own situation. I love my in-laws, and we are all very fortunate to have them in our lives. And THAT is why grandparents make my Monday.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Happy Friday

I don't have much to say - I'm tired and worn out, so instead of being negative and grumping about all that I am going to suggest that you go and visit Aimee's blog and read her post about her son. I dare you not to be moved. After reading that, there is nothing I could possibly write that would seem even remotely adequate.

Sunday, May 03, 2009


'The Hyper Homemaker', a recent discovery of mine, has deleted her blog. She didn't leave it up and stop posting to it, she flat out deleted it. She mentioned something about a book offer, so I suppose you can't really write a book about homemaking and expect people to buy it when you have all the info up on the web for free. That whole 'no one will buy the cow' thing, I suppose. My first thought was - she totally sold out. And my second thought was, ah, but so would I. So there you go, then.

I've got a lot of personal irons in the fire, lately. A lot of little projects around the house that are waiting for just a little more attention so they can take off. I'm finally making a household binder, for one. Which, once completed, will be a lovely resource for my household, but right now it's just not good enough. I'm so weird like that - "No, I can't use this until I center that title" or "Oh, I misspelled that sub-heading, so I'll have to wait and reprint it" or other such nonsense.

I've been thinking a lot about my health and my diet, and also the kids' diets. Heart disease is rampant in my family, along with diabetes and high blood pressure and all sorts of other things. I actually have PVC's, generally harmless heart palpitations that, while harmless when unaccompanied by other problems, can signal trouble ahead. I know I need to eat better and take better care of myself. I've been doing a lot of reading, both books and information online, and I'm thinking about going vegetarian, then eventually vegan. I am not saying I will never eat meat again - I just don't think I could do that, but I do plan on eating it very infrequently. I've been sort of sneakily introducing meatless meals for a while now, and while the kids and I don't have an issue with it, I can't make too many in a row before Brian and my grandfather start to complain.

Bella has long been sort of a vegetarian - the only meat she eats is in cheeseburger or nugget form, and Bubba is a vegetarian at this time because he considers himself above baby food and will only eat table food, and most meats are a little too much for his chewing/swallowing skills at this point in time. I have done a lot of reading about children's nutritional needs, as well. I'm not forcing this on the kids, and if at any point they want to eat meat that is fine with me, but they aren't eating meat now anyway, so it makes sense to try and make the changes necessary to ensure they are getting the nutrients they need. I'm going to talk all this over with their doctors at their next check-up, of course, but I feel better knowing more about what their bodies need and how to get it into them.

This week I am embarking on my adventures in herbivorism. Is that a word? I am planning on doing all this slowly - phasing out certain things, phasing in certain things. I am excited about it, actually, because I'm really hoping it will make a difference and make me feel better. I bought groceries tonight and I did buy some meat that I can add into my menu for whomever wants it, so I'm hoping that I'll be able to make everyone happy. I might blog about my dietary changes ocassionally, more for a record for myself than anything else. Ooo, and then maybe I can get a book deal! Awesome! And one day you will attempt to stop by my blog and it will say "This blog has been deleted because the user totally sold out".

My Favorite

Thanks to Laura from Catholic Teacher Musings for hosting this today, in honor of World Prayer for Vocations.

I have only been Catholic for a couple of years now, so my experience with priests is rather limited, but there is one priest who had an enormous impact on me.

I encountered some issues over the course of my RCIA classes and at one point it actually looked like I wouldn't be able to be confirmed and welcomed into the Church. Msgr. Reed, the priest at the parish my sponsor attends, helped me with these issues and it is because of him that I was able (and chose!) to move ahead with the process. I was discouraged and dejected and he stepped in and helped me.

I had always been fond of him even before he came to my rescue, so to speak. He is an incredible speaker, and when I look back on my time in RCIA a lot of the words that stuck with me came from him. He can inject a little hellfire and brimstone into his homilies from time to time, and as a convert from the baptist faith I appreciate that - it makes me nostalgic. :-)

I have seen Msgr. Reed since then, and he always recognizes me and greets me warmly. I don't attend his parish but I have seen and heard enough about his actions to know that he is a good, kind and generous man who lives as a model of his faith. And he kept me from losing mine. So thank you and God bless, Msgr. Reed!