Tuesday, December 30, 2014

In A Word

I like to choose a word for the year. It’s something I’ve been doing for a while now. One of the first words I chose was ‘courage’. That year, I was baptized. I’ve been a Christian most of my live, but the thought of getting in front of people, well, no thanks. But that year, my children decided they wanted to be baptized and I decided I needed to be courageous and join them. It was awesome. A memory we will all share.

Last year was ‘gentleness’. This word was given to me by my bible study leader. She randomly assigned each of us a fruit of the spirit that she would pray over us all year. I took this as a sign and adopted that word. Not sure how successful that was. I would not describe myself as ‘gentle’ or ‘meek’. I want to be. God has taught me much in this area this year. I wonder if those lessons are outwardly visible. I hope so.

This year I’ve been praying and wondering what the word should be. Last night I got it. It just came to me, a whisper from God I think. I did not like this one. I wrestled a bit. Then I began my search. I googled it.

I can feel the change coming. I’ve felt it for a while, but it’s stronger now. I think I’ve reached the ‘rip off the band aid’ portion of change. I don’t like it. I have been a mom for 23 and a half years. I have homescooled my children all the way through. I have laughed, cried, lost sleep, prayed, and loved every single second of it. Even the hard bits. I’d go back and start over if I could figure out how. I love being a mom. I love my kids. Not only do I love my kids but I genuinely like them. They’re funny and spunky and silly and smart and just all around awesome people to be with.  But you know what? They’re not really kids anymore. They’re 23, 20, 17 & 15 and in 2015 things are going to change. Drastically. I can feel it.

My kids all still live at home. I love it. The boys have been doing their college while living at home and I feel like that’s been a gift. They come and go as they please, pay a bit of rent, help out around the house, it’s a good system. It took some work to figure out how to transition from parent to a sort of roommate, but I think we’ve done a fair job. I love having them here. But in 2015, Bryce will finish his schooling and fly on into his adult life. Gunnar is already spreading those wings putting out applications to Fire Departments far and wide. Eventually one of them is going to hire him (lucky will be the departments that gets him!) and he too will fly from the family home.

Evelyn will officially become and adult, and be graduating high school in 2015. Somehow I have a harder time seeing my girls as adults. Maybe I’m more protective of them. She will start college in 2015. Probably from home, but anything is possible. She’s growing up. Very soon she too will fly from home.

Annika will turn 16 and get her driver’s license in 2015. She is a go-getter, that one. There will be no holding her back once she has her own wheels. She’s already talking about colleges far away from home, near a beach if she has her way.

Change is coming and it’s coming fast. I’ve had more than my share. I’ve had my kids home longer than most. I have good, happy, healthy, Jesus loving kids. I’ve been blessed far and above what I deserve. I know this. It’s time. I know. But I hate change.

God’s working on me, though. I know I have a choice to accept this change or fight it. Either way it’s going to happen, it’s really just about how I’m going to respond to it.

Dave and I had kids right away. We never were those fancy-free newlyweds. The time is coming soon where we can just think about each other. Do what we want. Go where we want to go. Eat what we want to eat. Talk about what we want to talk about whenever we want to talk about it and not worry about listening ears. I know this new phase of life is going to be great. It’s going to be wonderful to just be his wife. It’s going to be wonderful to watch and see who my kids become as they move on to the next phase of their lives. I have no fear about what is coming; I know it will be wonderful. But for me, change is always hard.

 So this year, in 2015, I will choose to embrace the change.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Chicken Tortilla Soup

3 skinless chicken breasts cooked and shredded
1 yellow onion- chopped
4 cloves garlic- chopped
2 10 oz. can diced tomatoes with chilies
1 qt.  chicken stock 1 10 oz. can
2 8 oz cans enchilada sauce
2 8 oz can of tomato sauce
1 5 oz. can green chilies
1 can corn (drained and rinsed)
2 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1/2- 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
a teaspoon hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Put all the ingredients into a large pot and cook till warm and bubbly. Top with sour cream, cheddar cheese, fresh cilantro, avocado, and tortilla chips. (I use what we call tortilla crisps instead of the chips. I basically take regular flour tortillas and fry them in veggie oil till they’re a bit brown and crispy) 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dear Mother Whose Son Yelled Obscenities at The Restaurant Today, Let’s Talk.

To the mother who took her adult son to Cotton Patch at lunchtime today, I would like to tell you something.

I was sitting there catching up with a friend about all the things going on in our lives; the good, the bad, and the ugly, when your son started hitting the seat very hard and yelling. Loudly.

People began to look. Was this young man a danger? What was wrong with him? You put your arm on him and said quiet words to him and then things went back to normal.

But he was not finished, your son. He next began to yell out words. Bad words. Words I would not want my children to hear. Again, loudly and while hitting the seat next to him.

People now began to get up and leave, or move, and you and your son both began to be the recipients of some harsh glances. Again you leaned over to your son and said quiet words to him. 

He yelled out in response, “No! We don’t need to go! I’ll be good, I promise!”

It was at this point that my friend and I became sure of what we suspected. Your son had Tourette Syndrome, and our hearts broke for you.

You sat there, with your son, and pretended the whole restaurant was not looking at you. You pretended not to notice as the wait staff sat the new customers far away from your table. You pretended not to notice as your section emptied out. You tried to simply have a nice lunch out with your son. Something other mothers take for granted.

I wanted to say something to you; something reassuring, something encouraging. We were not all judging you, Mom of a Special Needs Adult Child. Some of us were praying for you. Some of us were willing your son to calm down so you could enjoy your time out.

Your son never did calm down. He yelled and hit the chair and hollered out obscenities the entire time you were there. You handled it so well. You were an inspiration, the way you loved your son despite his unloving and socially unacceptable behavior. You deserve a medal, Mom of a Special Needs Adult Child.

The minute you were done eating, you paid and left the restaurant. You did not linger and have a nice conversation with your son. You got up and left as soon as you were able.

I am sorry you felt you had to do that. I am sorry the world is not a very nice place to you or your son. I hope you don’t give up. I hope you don’t hide.

I wanted to tell you that I was pleased you did not stay home. I thought you were brave, and a great mother for taking your son to lunch, but you left so quickly, I didn’t get the chance.

Since I missed my opportunity to tell you those things, I will pray for you. I will pray that God encourages your spirit today, Mom of a Special Needs Adult Child. Because you were certainly an encouragement to mine. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

University Model School: Yeah, That's What It Is

Our homeschool has turned into a University Model School. That’s what I’m calling it and I’m pretending it was totally intentional.

To be more accurate I should probably call it a Grand Central Station School. There are a lot of comings and goings here. Gone, gone, gone are the days when I had control of the schedule. I don’t even remember what that feels like anymore.

Bryce is finishing up Paramedics school this year. He should be done sometime around March. He is taking the shift based class, which means he is in school one day and works two. Sometimes he is at school on a Saturday even. I have no idea what he is doing on any given day. One day he might be gone all day working, one day he comes home from school at noon, one day he’s home from school at three. Some day’s he has 12 hour clinical at the ER, one day he’ll be home all day studying. I am clueless as to what he is doing.

Gunnar is, for the first time in his life, not in school. He is working full time at a landscaping business and in the middle of the process of getting hired on to the Houston Fire Department. If he gets hired, he’ll be moving to Houston probably before the end of the year. If he does not get hired, he’ll be starting Paramedics school in January. So, who knows what his year is going to look like for him.

Evelyn is a Senior this year and she is taking all of her classes at the Community College nearby on M/W, and one online. She hates the online class, but the Spanish 3 class we signed her up for didn’t make so she had no choice. She is also working T/TH at the Mother’s Day Out at our church.

Annika is a Sophomore and really the only child I’m homeschooling. She works at the Mother’s Day Out on Tuesday, and attends our homeschool co op on Thursday where she takes all those icky classes, like Anatomy, that I don’t want to teach.  I have a strict, ‘No dissection on my kitchen table!’ policy.

So I am teaching Annika on M/W/F, I have a quiet house on Tuesday, (If the boys are not here, I never really know about them.) and I teach on Thursday mornings at the homeschool Co op.

I have this faint memory of sitting around the table doing our written work together, reading aloud to the kids while the girls brushed my hair and braided it and put clips and bows in it, lunch together…

 I miss those days. A lot. But to be honest, there was also a fair bit of shushing, separating, punishing, and yes, maybe even a bit of yelling. We are all human after all.

They grow up fast, mamas. Hold on tight and enjoy the ride. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Hebrews 10: 35-38

35So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.
36You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37For,
“In just a little while,
he who is coming will come
and will not delay.”f
“But my righteousg one will live by faith.
And I take no pleasure
in the one who shrinks back.”h
39But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.

A reminder. For me. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Evelyn's 17!

Goody bags for a 17 year olds birthday party? I had a better idea.

Instead of goody bags I sent all the cousins to the waterpark with a water bottle filled with treats. The kind of things I thought a bunch of teenage girls would appreciate during a day at the waterpark.

There are hairbands, apple sauce packets, pieces of gum, several Kool-Aid packets, fruit leather, and some sunscreen Chapstick. And there is the added bonus of each of them having a water bottle at the waterpark they can refill throughout the day. I hope they are having a blast! 

Thursday, July 10, 2014

My Thoughts on Modesty May Surprise You

I have been thinking a lot about this and I've been meaning to put all those thoughts into words and then I read this. No need. He said it so well.

It's a TWO SIDDED issue, and as the mother to teen girls I am, frankly, sick and tired of having girls the only ones being addressed on this issue of modesty/lust. I also raised two teen boys and I don't recall them hearing nearly as many talks about keeping their thoughts pure and walking away if necessary. All public talks on modesty it seems, are aimed at the girls.

A person CAN NOT cause someone else to lust. Can they make it difficult for them to stay pure in their thoughts? Sure. But they cannot get inside a mans mind and order his thoughts. A man always has the option to turn and walk away.

But, yall. NOTHING makes my blood boil like hearing from my daughters that they've been told to cover up by a teenage boy (OR GROWN MAN!!) Pretty sure that's sexual harassment, actually.

I am aware of what my daughters wear. They have a dad, a mom, a sister and two older brothers looking out for them. That job's covered. Not to mention, I'm quite happy with the choices my daughters make as far as their dress standard and I also know their hearts. You go ahead and look out for your own thoughts and leave my daughters alone.

Aren't we doing our sons a disservice if we tell them it's okay to go up to a girl and tell her what she's wearing is inappropriate? That they have no recourse in this situation? That their only hope in staying away from impure thoughts is if girls 'dress appropriately'? Because, y'all. That makes them powerless! These church boys are going to grow up and go out into society and work with people who don't 'dress appropriately' and they will have no power to change that, and we will not have given them any tools to deal with it. Will they have to stay away from beaches their whole lives? Because when you're not at the beach with a youth group, there's a whole lot of skin showing.

My point is, God created us to be attracted to each other. We can't 'fix' that. We can only try to handle the attraction in a Godly manner. It's simple really. How about we let basic kindness and consideration rule the day? Girls, can ya not make it so hard on the guys? When you walk around in your itty-bitty string bikini it makes it hard. And also, do you think anyone's listening to your words? your heart? your mind when you wear that? Yeah, no.

And guys? As the article mentioned, man up. A little flesh does not make you into mindless idiots who cannot control the direction of your own thoughts. Take your thoughts captive and if it's too much, walk away.

Huh. Turns out I did have a few more thoughts on the subject.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Who Lets Babies Fly a Plane??

So, this is what my little boy did today. With his little boy friends. These three have been friends since the sandbox. Literally. Bryce and Aaron crawled around the nursery floor together. They've all three been friends since elementary school. Today these babies went UP IN AN AIRPLANE  ALONE WITH NO ADULTS AND NO PILOTS. ONE OF THOSE BABIES WAS THE PILOT!!!

And look, don’t try to tell me that they are the adults. Grown men; two of whom are in training to serve our country in the United States Air Force, and one in training to be a First Responder.

Because I’m the mom. And to the mom, they’re still babies. Who lets babies fly a plane!?

He even sent me photos of his time in the air. He took these photo of my house. FROM THE AIR ABOVE IT. Like WAY above it.

Have mercy.

I thought having toddlers was hard.

Your job as the mom is to keep the toddlers from doing dangerous and unsafe things. You know why? So they can grow up into men who do DANGEROUS AND UNSAFE THINGS!! And there is nothing you can do about it but pray.

I may have made him promise to text me the minute his feet were back on the ground or I would never cook for him again.

You’ll all be happy to know they are safely back on the ground. 

And I’m having wine for dinner. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Too Many Tomatoes

I ordered a 25lbs box of Roma tomatoes with my veggie box last week. (I participate in Bountiful Baskets. I love it so much!)

It's tricky to use 25lbs of tomatoes before they go off. I know I could peel them and make sauce, but I tried that once and it was simply not worth the effort. I decided I'd give away tomatoes before I do that again!

I wasn't going to buy a whole box again, but when you can buy 25lbs of Roma Tomatoes for $14.50, well, you do it. Because you'd spend much, much more at the grocery store.

So we begin our quest to use up the tomatoes. I will be doing the obvious: lots of sandwiches, BLT's, salads and the like, but to use it all up I'm going to have to get creative.

Last Sunday Dave decided to make these. They were awesome!

We stopped by Costco and got this container of Mozzarella balls.

We also bought these crackers. We bought two different kinds of crackers; these garlic crackers, and some with seeds. Overwhelmingly, the Sourdough Garlic Crackers were preferred.

We sliced some of tomatoes up thick and placed them on the cracker. We put a Mozzarella ball on top and then salted and peppered them. Don't forget this step. They really needed the salt especially.

Then we baked them for a couple of minutes. Just enough to melt the Mozzarella ball a bit. Then we turned on the broiler for about 30 sec to get a little browning on the top.

Y'all. They were AWESOME! I ate so many, I didn't eat lunch!

These Tomato Mozzarella Crackers make a very easy, and yummy appetizer. I think we'll be eating more of these in the future. Or at least until the giant box of tomatoes are gone.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Pepper Vs. The Vet

So I got a little cocky yesterday. Pepper had been such a good dog for so long that I thought I could handle her trip to the vet. Forget that the last time  I took her she vomited in the car on the way there AND the way back, and that she tried to bite not only the vet, but the vet tech as well. Really, she’d have bit everyone in the place if given the opportunity, but the vet and the vet tech were the lucky ones who had to get close to her.

I swore after that trip that from now on Gunnar was going to be doing the vet trips. Pepper is better behaved for him. He takes her places and she does not vomit or bite people. (Of course, my theory is that he lets her run loose and amok and she likes that. Also, no one tries to corner her and give her shots or take her blood. If she does not like something that is going on when she’s with Gunnar she hides and all is well.)

Gunnar is a very busy boy working this summer. He is also a leader with the Jr. High at our church. When I made Pepper’s vet appointment I didn’t realize that Gunnar would be out of town that week at Jr. High Camp. My choices were to change the appointment or handle it myself. I had the time. I had nothing else planned that day. She’s a 38lb dog. How hard could it be? I mean, she’s grown up and her behavior has gotten so much better since we were there last year. Surely it’d be fine.

I called the vet and asked them how they handle dogs that don’t particularly like to be handled by strangers. The receptionist looked up her chart and said, “Yeah, she’s got a ‘bite risk’ notice on her chart. We’ll muzzle her.”

That should have been my first warning that things were not going to go well, but I’m not that smart. I thought, ‘Oh, that’s a great idea! It’ll solve the bite thing and all will be well and good.’

Things started out well enough. She didn’t vomit in the car and even seemed to enjoy the ride somewhat. She walked into the waiting room okay. She looked a bit nervous, but not utterly freaked out like last time. She even walked back nicely, stood on the scale like a good dog, and walked right into the exam room on her own. My hopes were high.

 The vet tech came into the room and handed me the muzzle to put on her. It went on without a problem. Pepper was not thrilled about it, but we use a Halti Leash when we walk so she’s accustomed to having things put over her snout.

I put her up on the exam table and that’s when things went south in a hurry. I asked them to trim her nails. To say she freaked would be an understatement. I think they heard her yowls and shrieks and barks in the next county. Turns out, if she can’t run away or bite, her two go-to activities when she’s scared, she will have a complete freak-out melt-down fit.

The vet came in to see what was going on and was quite surprised to find this small dog requiring 3 people to hold her down while she got her nails cut. I don’t think she was very happy with the scene.

The vet took blood, and gave her the two requisite shots. The whole thing was over in less than 5 minutes but in that time, Pepper not only screeched, yowled, barked, growled and squirmed frantically, she also peed and pooped on the table…and the wall. Yes. Yes, she did.

The vet suggested next time we give her Valium. I reminded the vet that she’d prescribed her Valium before and it had no positive effect. It did not make her less nervous in the car; it simply made her stare strangely at her shadow. The vet suggested we double the dose and add another sedative drug on top of that for good measure.

Basically, though unstated, I got the distinct impression that they’d rather not see Pepper again in her natural, crazy, un-drugged state.

See, you figure these people are in the animal business. They see all kinds of crazy and know how to deal with ‘Nervous’ animals. Pepper is not that unusual, surely there are many dogs that freak at the vet. Um, apparently Pepper is quite unique. It seems her behavior is strange even for strange dog behavior. Of course it is.

My friend told me, after I told her about our less than stellar vet experience, that her Cocker Spaniel loves the vet. She wants to make friends with everyone in the place.

My next dog will be a Cocker Spaniel.

Also, Gunnar will be taking Pepper to the vet from now on and forever.

But I think it will have to be a new vet. We can never go back there. I think they might have changed their phone number and moved offices after yesterday.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Weekend on the Lake

You can't go out on a Pontoon and not make a Flipagram with the song On a Pontoon. It's the Law.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Tips From Tricia: Cords and Chargers Edition

Remember Hints From Heloise? Well, this is Tips From Tricia. It will probably not become a thing, because while Heloise was a 'hints' kinda girl, I am not. You'll not usually hear me telling you the best way to get stains out of your clothes, or how to get rid of that darn soap scum, or how to best iron out those pesky wrinkles. I kinda like wrinkles.

What I do not like are cords. Everywhere. Kindle cords, iPhone/iPod, cell phone cords...

Our non-adult children are required to put their devices in our room every night before they go to bed. What that means is that every outlet has a cord sticking out of it (or several) with some sort of device charging, usually emitting a small blue or red indicator light. Not only do the cords everywhere annoy me, but the lights are super annoying in a dark room. Since you can't just turn off those lights we usually cover them with a sock or some handy piece of clothing. Pause for a minute and imagine what my bedroom looks like. Every night. Piles of electronics near every outlet with random clothes over them. ANNOYING!

So I devised this solution.

I bought this cute little wicker basket and put an outlet extension cord in it. I thought I might have to cut it a bit to get the big plug to fit out the side, but I managed to squeeze it through.

I bought a multi-plug USB charger for the iPhones/iPods and new cords. I wrote MOM on them and threatened anyone within an inch of their lives if that charger or the cords ever left the basket.

There were several plugs left for the Kindle and non Apple product cell phones.

Best of all? NO CORDS EVERYWHERE!!! And while there is a faint blue glow coming from the basket when the lights go out, that's much preferred over the sock covered lights near every outlet in the master bedroom.


Now, If I can just get that kid of mine to figure out how to turn off the alarm that goes off at 7am on a Saturday morning, we'll be golden.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Summer's Here!!

Summer has finally arrived at the Hilltop Homeschool. Oh Happy Day!!

Every year our school looks different. It's hardly a 'home'school anymore, and everything ends at different times. My two older children have graduated. Bryce is in a Paramedics program that goes straight through the summer and into next year. Gunnar is finishing up today with EMT/Fire Academy.

Evelyn, who is just finishing up her Jr. year in High School is ending gradually. She's taken 2 of her college finals, one is next week, and she finished her Anatomy class at our co op yesterday. She has a little work for me over the summer in History and Government. She's mostly done for the year.

Annika who just finished her Freshman year of High School finished yesterday...sort of. She takes many of her heavy classes at our co op, which finished yesterday. She has to finished a chapter of History today, and she'll do Algebra and Driver's Ed through the summer.

One of the things I loved about homeschooling was control of the schedule! HA! That perk is long over, with kids graduating and branching out to classes outside our home. But I still love to celebrate a year finished.

So today, the day after co op ends, like we've done for the last many years, we celebrate the beginning of summer. Even though Bryce's schedule does not really change at all, and Ev still has a final to do and a class this summer to finish, and Annika also has some school work to finish this summer...still we celebrate. We mark the day. You're done. Summer officially starts. Your schedule is your own. You can get up, get in the pool, chat with friends, make a cake, whatever you want so long as you get your chores done and your bit of school accomplished sometime during the day.

Ahhh, summer.

Here are their goodie bags to ring in the summer season. I added a personal note of congratulations for each child.

Celebration is good for the soul!

Evelyn's Goodie Bag

Annika's Goodie Bag 

Bryce's Goodie Bag 

Gunnar's Goodie Bag 


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Talk Like Gunnar!

My son Gunnar is in Fire Academy this semester (he did EMT last semester). He's done beautifully and his dad and I couldn't be prouder of him. Bryce has already done Fire Academy, EMT, and is currently in Paramedics school.

It's a funny thing, to have your sons training to be First Responders. I am of course, terribly, terribly proud. I know that they both have the character to go with the Fireman/Hero image. But, well, walking into burning buildings for a living? I mean, were all the Playing On The Highway positions filled? Sheesh. Could they have picked a more dangerous career?

Gunnar told me a funny story the other day about his time in Fire Academy that had me laughing. I'm sure I'll get some details wrong, but you'll get the gist of it.

They were all on a break out in the field behind the school playing Frisbee. Apparently, the language can get a little, ahem, colorful during the games. One of the other students saw the Dean of the school walking up to them and started trying to let the others know to watch their language, but the others were not getting his subtle attempts. Finally he said, 'Everybody talk like Gunnar!' which, of course, made the rest of them realize they needed to clean up their language. They all looked around, noticed the Dean just in time, and then went on about their game using less colorful language while the Dean was in earshot.

This is the kind of thing every mother wants to hear.

Now if I could just talk them into less dangerous careers... I wonder how long it takes to go to culinary school? Accounting perhaps? Librarian?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Moving Base Camp

Yesterday we moved my Mother in Law from her house of 20+ years to a smaller apartment on the campus of the missions organization she and my father in law served with their entire careers.

It was fun in many ways. It’s always fun when the whole family gets together. 3 of her 4 sons and their families showed up to move her in. (Eric lives out of town, but was here a few weeks ago and he and his daughter put in lots of time helping her get ready for the move.) We laughed and played music and were silly. The teens ate donuts between lugging large boxes and unpacking. Overall the atmosphere was upbeat and festive.

There was an undercurrent of sadness, however. There was no Far Far. Many of the things that have always been part of my in-laws house were notably absent: Far Far’s chair, the walker, his hats. Hard to believe it’s been almost 2 years since his passing. There is none of Far Far in this new place. It seemed sort of cold and sad as we were moving the things from the old house, so full of his presence, to the white-washed walls of the new place where Far Far had never been. There were no memories of him here. I know we all felt it, though no one really spoke of it. It was a hard enough day for my mother in law without bringing that up.

We were pretty much finished in the old place and we were all packed into the new apartment trying to get her settled a bit before we left. A few of the teens were trying to put her coffee table together and having a hard time of it. It’s an old table someone brought back from Colombia. It has eight sides and they had to be placed just so before the top would fit on. The teens were not having much success.  Dave walked in as they were struggling and said to them, “Look underneath the table top. If I know Far Far, it’s marked under there somewhere so you’ll know how to put it together.” The kids did and sure enough, there were markings showing just how to line it up so it would fit. We all laughed and my mother in law got a little teary.

Far Far was here. Even though he’d never been physically present in that place, he left a little part of himself with every single one of the people in that room. He’d left marks on all of us. Directions. Showing us all how to line up, so we could stand.

We miss you Far Far.