1.  It's Spring Break for most of the world this week, except for us.  Well, kinda.  My fancy planning calendar that I spent way too much time making out at the beginning of the year says that we are working through this week, because our Spring Break will come 'round Easter.  The fact that we've only had a full school day once this week seems to be speaking to the fact that it is, in fact, Spring Break for us, too.  For the record, though, it is super hard to keep myself the kids motivated when everyone and their 2nd cousin asks how our Spring Break is going and the response that I have to continually hear is, "We don't have Spring Break.  Our mom makes us work."  Nice.

2.  My red-headed pool of sunshine turned NINE this week.  Crazily impossible.  I have found myself saying those way overused words, "It happens so fast," way too often this week.  Really?  Nine?  Say it ain't so, Joe.

3.  While still under total delusion of only have one baby, I made a decision and a pact that I would ALWAYS make my kids' birthday cakes.  No expectations.  Totally kicking myself for my attitude of resolve on the matter now.  For his big 9th birthday, Sawyer requested an interesting creation.  His criteria: (a) had to be orange  (b) had to be baseball   (c) had to have the pirate skull & crossbones  (d)  Had to be chocolate.   Mmmkay... 

This is what I came up with.
Notice that nowhere on his list is Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Hmmm....Oh well.
Somehow I managed to convince him that pirates think dinosaurs are way cool......

4.  We are up to our ears in baseball.  I'm not going to complain, because this is definitely my favorite time of year, but I will say that we are just plain B.U.S.Y.  Between all 3 boys, we have 4 different baseball teams.  Two regular league teams, and two traveling tournament teams.  Needless to say, we are at a ballfield 7 days a week.  And if we just so happen to squeeze in a day without a practice or a game, that day is spent hashing over plays at the dinner table, hitting in the batting cage, or washing a uniform of somekind.  Definitely tiring, but good times.

5.  I declared today a NO ELECTRONICS day, and, can I just tell you, that I am loving it.  Instead of fighting over whose turn it is for this DS game or for that iPod charger, the boys have dragged out every lego and action figure that we own.  They've constructed a huge city in the living room and are playing some intense game of super heroes meets combat war zone meets Star Wars.  I LOVE IT.  Maybe their DSs and iPods should mysteriously disappear for awhile.....

6.  I made a uber-long list of projects that really need to be completed around the house.  Closets that need to be cleaned out, moldings that need to be painted, drawers and cabinets that need to be purged and organized.  I probably should tackle that list on my now impromptu Spring Break, but I really just don't want to.  Instead I think I'll just go read a book in the sun.  Sounds equally urgent.

7.  I went to the dentist yesterday.  'Nuff said.

8.  My Lenten fast is going really really well.  I've made it 16 days now and feel better than I have in ages.  I even resisted a piece of the orange chocolate T-Rex pirate baseball cake this weekend.  Although I will tell you that right now there is a jar of ranch dip and a package of open taterchips sitting next to me on my bar, and I'm about to lose my religion over it.  The children love to play this little torture game with me....

9.  I still haven't done our taxes.  I probably should get on that, huh?

10.  American Idol is making me swoon.  So much good talent in one tiny space.  My favorites are cutie-pie screecher James, quirky white-teeth Paul, Southern Belle sweetie Lauren, and ornery-as-all-get-out Casey.  Actually at this point, I'm just rootin' for the ones that I want to get kicked off, because after they're gone, it'll all be cake for me.  Love this season...

Alrighty.....time to do laundry cozy up with my book in the sunshine....

If you need me, I'm the one with the stupid sun-drunk grin on my face.


Lent -- Not Just For BellyButtons Anymore

I've been asked about my choosing to fast certain things for Lent, and though I do maintain that it is something that is fairly private between me and the Lord, I decided to go ahead and share, because I do think this season will prove to be a very drastic turning point for my relationship with the Father.

I've never observed Lent before.  Ever.

I actually never really knew what it was until just a few years ago when some of my nontraditional Baptist friends began discussing giving up strongholds for Lent, for up until that time "lint" was the stuff that stuck in my bellybutton and the stuff that I had to clean out of my dryer trap.  You see, growing up in a strict conservative Southern Baptist home, we didn't observe Lent or other so-called "legalistic" Christian holidays.  I don't think my parents necessarily frowned upon them, we just weren't taught about them, and they weren't observed.

Last Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, I was reading through some Twitter and Facebook statuses and kept seeing people refer to Lent.  And so I was intrigued.  I hopped online and began researching, trying to figure out if this was just a fad or if it was, in fact, something that could be proved to be legit.  I certainly did not want to play into the game of Everyone Else Is Doing It, but wanted to discern whether observing Lent was something that could bring me into a higher dependence upon the Lord.

After reading several good (and several bad) articles and commentaries on Lent, I decided to just fore-go all the theological mumbo-jumbo and go with my gut.  I have no idea if I'm observing Lent in all the "right" ways or not, but I decided to put my very simple mind's view on the matter and just go with it.

From what I have read, Lent is a period in which a person is called to give-up an item or more that has proved to be a stronghold for them. The idea being that if it is given up for the period of Lent, then a higher devotion to the Lord to fill the void will take place.  Thus leading, hopefully, to pattern changes and our dependency on the Lord increases.  (DISCLAIMER:  Again I will say...I'm no theologian and don't want to be.  I'll leave that to the folks that like that kind of thing.  I may have it all wrong, but I'm pretty confident that Christ will be happy with my effort even if I'm calling it "Lent" even if it's really not.  Basically, I don't really know what I'm talking about...but this is working for me and Jesus right now...so I'm going with it.)

A lot of my friends who observe Lent have given up Facebook, Twitter, and/or other types of social media.  Some have given up television, or at least certain television shows that they are locked into religiously.  Some have disconnected their internet for the 40 day period, and others have given up blogging.  I wasn't really feeling led down those certain ways, because although they would definitely have been my stronghold last year at this time, I've kind of grown past that a bit.  Don't get me wrong...I still LOVE the computer and all of its connectedness, but I can go for days without it and feel just fine.  So that didn't seem like the route to go.  I also recently gave up some "bad" television shows (ahem...Jersey Shore) that had me entirely way too hooked into their ridiculousness, but wasn't really feeling like giving tv up was the right path for me either.  Because at this point, I could take it or leave it.

So I examined.

And what I discovered is that I spend entirely way too much time thinking about how hungry I am.  I'm a nervous eater.  I'm an emotional eater.  I'm a restless eater.  I'm a bored eater.  And I'm a social eater.  I.Love.Food.  It can be a bowl of cereal before bed or a full-on gluttonous display of pasta devouring.  Doesn't matter.  I love to eat. 

So I decided that FOOD was an obvious stronghold for me.  I knew that if I channeled as much energy into my relationship with Christ as I did my refrigerator, then big things could change within me.

So, just like that, with no real pondering, I gave up food.  On Ash Wednesday.  In a matter of 10 minutes.  No planning.  No weaning myself off of food the week prior.  Just a cold turkey fast.  (Because I tend to be a little quick on the trigger!)

Then I remembered that Lent was for 40 days.  And I realized that although this was going to be a momentous occasion for my spiritual life, I was also still a human... And I didn't really want to die of starvation.

So I tweaked my fasting plan.

To fruits and vegetables only.  No sugar.  No coffee.  No pasta.  No bread.  No meat. 

For two reasons:  1...I had to eat something in 40 days.  And 2...I despise fruits and vegetables, so it seemed a perfect fit for my dependency issues.  Because the only way I was actually going to make it on a diet of broccoli and green apples was by the Grace of God.

(Please don't lecture me on the neccessity of certain nutrients, etc.  I've studied up on that, too, and have just decided that with my heart and mind in the right place, that God will see my very human body through the period.)

And so, here I am, 10 days in, and nothing has passed my lips that isn't a veggie or a fruit.  I'm eating my baked potatoes without butter, cheese, and sour cream, and I'm foregoing dumping cream cheese and cool-whip on my grapes. 

And it's hard.

But it is easier than I ever thought it would be.  Because I'm learning that I have the diligence to stick to something that seems totally far-fetched and crazy for me to manage, and because I have a whole lot of extra time on my hands to focus on the things that really matter. 

Another disclaimer...
This is totally just my deal.  I don't think anyone should do it, unless they feel called to do so.  It's not a diet plan or a time-management strategy.  It's hard and it makes you cranky and it makes people think that you have lost your ever-loving mind.  So please don't turn all vegan or disconnect your television because you read this post.  It really needs to be something between you and the Lord.  This isn't a self-help commercial by any means.  Because if I was trying to help MYSELF then I'd be in my car and at the nearest Olive Garden in the next 20 minutes. 

I have no doubt that after Easter, I will return to eating meat and pasta and cupcakes and bread and all my other favorite foods.  But I hope and desire that I will do so without the attachment and dependence on the food that I used to have.  Hopefully, food will just be food, and not my crutch. 

So...that's my Lent story. 

Do you have one?  I'd love to hear it!


I'm raw.

My emotions have been scraped so far down to the bone that one word mistakenly said or a slight unfortunate tone in a voice is like hot bleach searing through my flesh.

My status on facebook yesterday was that I felt like I was doing all that I could do to just dig my nails in and claw my way through the day.  I think some people thought I just needed a cup of coffee or that my fast that I've taken on for Lent has finally made me walk on the wrong side of the crazy track.  But, really, I have just reached a plateau of really really hard days.

I'm trying to reexamine myself and really dig deep to discover who it is that I'm called to be. 

I've always been a lively personality, but it wasn't until very recently that I've become confident and secure enough in myself that I have been able to throw off the worrying-what-everyone-thinks jacket and really step into the this-is-me-take-it-or-leave-it arena.  It was a hard, scary transition, but a very liberating one.  I felt free to be my inner sarcastic, fun-loving, live-on-the-edge self. 

But I'm struggling with whether that is who I'm called to be.

Am I called to put aside that inner drive to be blatantly honest about myself and who I am, choosing to not hide behind any curtains, and just let-it-all-hang-out (so to speak) in the name of authenticity and transparency?  Or is that actually, in fact, the woman God wants me to be, so that I might be an encourager to others?  Or am I really just a stumbling block?  Am I being a true friend, or a hindrance?

It's been a hard pill to swallow realizing that I perhaps have been driving wedges in God's will and plan.  But, I'm also so unconfident in my discernment that I can't tell if I'm just being deceived by raw emotions and feelings that are so hard to categorize and verbalize.

And so I have reached this plateau of not knowing which way to go.

And so I pray.  And I wait.  And I approach the Throne of Grace with pleading....

And until discerment comes, I will do so quietly.....


Who Knew??

It was 60% / 40%.

Or maybe 70% / 30%.

Okay...fine.  It was totally 95% / 5%.  I was only going to go for the fun girls that were going with me.  And because it was a fantastic excuse to ditch the testosterone and surround myself with estrogen for three whole days. 

I mean, really, how much fun could a place harboring under the name Great Homeschool Conventions be?  I was imagining a dresscode that required apple appliques and an addition problem sewn somewhere onto one or more pieces of clothing.  And the speakers?  Seriously?  They were, no doubt, going to be have-it-all-together-apple-applique moms. 

Yep...definitely going just to get out of the house and hang with super fun girls.

Lemmetellya...I'm still munching on my words, and they taste like crow.

I learned a ridiculous amount from ridiculously normal people and came away feeling ridiculously bonded to a ridiculously amazing community.  Sound hokey?  Nada....

Here's a snippet of what I learned:

  • All homeschooling moms want to pull their hair out.  And if they say that they don't...they're lying.
  • All homeschooling moms want to strangle their children at some point.  And if they say that they don't...they're lying.
  • Most homeschooling moms are disorganized and can't seem to stay on top of maid/teacher/wife/mother/chauffeur/short-order-cook duties.  And if they say that they can...they're lying.
  • If a homeschooling mom actually manages to be somewhat of an organized personality, something in her home/life/school is a complete and utter disaster.  And if she says that everything is perfect...she's a liar.
  • Homeschooling moms also have the joy of dealing with ADD and ADHD kids.  We just can't send them home at 3:30 everyday.  We get the pleasure of hanging with these precious pups 24/7.  Lucky us.
  • Most homeschooling moms feel totally overwhelmed and completely inadequate at the idea of holding their children's entire educational future in their hands.  But most of us are actually doing a darn good job. 
  • Really.really.really.normal people homeschool.  People who use the tv as a babysitter just so that they can breathe for 5 minutes, and people who think sports are important, and people who let their kids play way too many hours of video games on school nights.  Really normal people. 
  • And.
  • And.
  • And.
My list could go on and on. 

I did learn some very specific tips and ideas, and I made some very serious curriculum decisions while there.  But, mostly what I took away from the convention was that homeschooling isn't weird anymore.  It's becoming very much of a social norm.  I felt very comfortable in this skin that I'm wearing, and I came away with a new outlook on this very.very important role I'm playing in my boys' futures.

I've also realized that I am in a position of great privilege.  I know that I am, along with my fellow homeschoolers, the envy of many folks.  Folks that, for whatever reason, wish that they could do what I get to do, but can't or don't or won't.  I get the joy of not only being in control of what my kids learn and when and how they learn it, but getting to witness every second of their little lives. 

Sure, there are days that I am looking for the first big yellow bus that will drive by the house, so that I can flag down the driver and shove the offspring onboard.  But, far many more are the days that I just lavish the time.

I started homeschooling because the other options just weren't working.
Now I realize that I'm homeschooling because I just love being with my kids.

Remind me that I said that the next time you see me waving down that school bus.......

(To Brandi, Jennifer, Sadie, and Amy....thanks for the great company, the great talks, and the great encouragement.  xoxoxoxo)