Thursday, April 29, 2010

Winning the War

Y'all, this post is gonna be short, at least I think it is...

I had hoped to bring you up to date on all the books I am reading right now, and the good movies I've seen lately, but I'm in the middle of a war.

Yes. A war. Right in the middle of my backyard.

In my garden to be exact.

I've declared war on the microscopic bugs. Nematodes and a little miscreant called the white fly. They apparently have a taste for cucumber plants and bell pepper seedlings.

My desire is to have a garden that is organic in nature, but I'm about to open a big ol' can of Raid and call it a day.

I've tried a cayenne pepper spray. I've tried some diluted organic soap spray.

This afternoon I will make my way to the wholesale floral market to get marigold, nasturtium, cornflower, mint, and borage.

I have no idea what any of those things are, but apparently they bring in an army of "good" bugs to kill, destroy, and eat the "bad" bugs.

So I am gonna log off now to rally the troops and take back my garden.

Wish me luck~

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

From the Archives: Empanadas

I'm pulling from the archives today. This post makes me wince and happy at the same time.
Well, because yesterday I was looking up Empanada recipes. I remembered posting one somewhere...reading this post made me realize that they weren't worth the effort. 
It makes me happy to think that I should just find a Mexican Bakery.
Wince? Goodness I've aged in five years! (and put on a pound, or ten)
On the other hand, I am SO glad I painted my kitchen cabinets white!
Hey, if you are local and know of any good Mexican bakeries, let me know!
If you're not local, tell me what you grew up eating as a kid that you wish you could have today?

If non of those things apply to you, tell me what makes you Happy....or what makes you wince?

The following was originally posted on July 21, 2005.

I am throwing a baby shower "Fiesta Style" for a freind of ours on Saturday night. I decided that I would try a recipe for Chocolate & Banana Empanada's.

These are little turnover type pastries that you can find in a Mexican Bakery. Mostly I have had ones that have pineapple (my fave) or pumpkin. Sometimes they are filled with meat.

Anyway, I found a recipe and happily went to making them. Thank goodness I made them in advance because.....First, can I say they aren't that easy?

Secondly, they didn't turn out as yummy as the ones we grew up on from Mexican bakery in Tucson. As a matter of fact they didn't turn out very good at all. They looked pretty good, but I think (Thirdly, and most importantly) I will be serving "Mexican" Chocolate Cake...from Costco.

Happy Day!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Parental Ponderings

Well, today was the day.

The day I fully entered into a new stage of parentage.

Up to this point it had only been an idea.

A consultation here.

A starting "plan" there.

Now we're talking commitment.

Today, I walked across the threshold of the orthodontist's door, plunked an $800 down payment on the counter, and begin serving my time in the waiting room chair.

I walked out with a Girl who had four, itty-bitty, teeny-tiney, blue plastic, rubber bands between four teeth.

They look a lot like the ones I buy at Walmart for 50 cents per gross, but what do I know about Orthodontia?

Apparently, they do these things in phases. We've only just begun.

(cue Karen Carpenter)

It may sound like I am complaining. Really, I'm not.

It's just....(and this is gonna sound weird)...but, sometimes I wonder how I got here?

I don't feel old enough to have kiddos that require fixed appliances.

I don't feel mature enough to be driving a suburban-white mini-van and talking to my "babies" about puberty.

I guess its because I still have moments when children barge into the bathroom while I'm in the shower. They still know that the best time to ask me for something their not supposed to have is when I'm distracted on the phone. We're still in the stage of interrupted conversations and wanting to be "checked in on" at night. (That's code for being "tucked in")

But then there are times when I realize I'm in a whole new ball field, and this ain't little league.

For instance, last week I left the kids at home while I hurried to an appointment. In my haste I accidently spilled the contents of my purse on the school room floor. I quickly scooped up what I thought was all my stuff and scrambled out the door.

Later on that day, The Boy nonchalantly hands me a purple and white packet and says, "Hey mom, you might not want to leave your tampons lying on the floor. I accidently stepped on it and the plastic wrapping made a loud bang and scared us to death. It even scared the dog."

Uh, o-kay.

And who taught you about tampons anyway?

This morning, I reached for my cell phone and the kids had re-arranged all the ringtones and screen savers.

Now when they call me this is what I see:

They laughed and laughed like it was the funniest sight to see.

For those of you who don't know, my son will be a seventh grader next year.


As in, he'll study Pre-Algebra and will be reading things like Homer and Plato.

Good night! That's just weird.

It seems like just yesterday he was asking me to read How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? for the bagillionth time.

Back then, I always wished (even at times suggested) he'd pick a book that wasn't so familiar, so I could skip pages without him knowing.

Now I'm glad he didn't.

Its going too fast.

Someday I'll look back with tenderness on this silly, somber, fun, agonizing, energetic, talkative, moody, crazy, expensive, lovely time... and miss it.

Well, maybe not the payment plan...but you know what I mean.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Looks Like We Made It

I'll be singing Barry Manilow for a week.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Thank you for your prayers this weekend.

My little camper had a blast on the Girl Scout camping trip.

Unfortunately her 2 night stay ended up being only  28 hours. Her troop was sent home on Saturday night at 7p in anticipation of a string of storms that traveled across the state.

She still got to do all the things she wanted to do: the low ropes course, the climbing of massive trees (with use of a belayer), the 50 foot zipline over the pond, and sleeping in a tent with six other girls without an adult.

She faced her own fears (heights), while I faced mine.

We both did amazingly well.

I hung out with girlfriends on Friday night, which was very relaxing. Then early Saturday morning my dear friend and running partner laced up our shoes...and hit the local garage sales.

It was a work-out for sure.

Especially when you come home with an antique bed.

I paid a whopping $15 for it. It needs some TLC.

The Mister is going to have to replace some of the wood, and I am going to refinish it. "After" pictures to come sometime next month.

I spent the rest of the day keeping very busy - at the gym, in the garden, visiting a friend, mowing the lawn, picking up around the house, and generally wearing myself out.

It was well worth it because what I always hope for on Sunday afternoons came easily: The Nap.

It was a glorious thing.

This morning I'm gearing myself up for a full week of school and activitites.

Confession: I have a bit of school-itis.

I just kind of wish school was over.

Only four weeks left.

Four weeks.

I keep whispering to myself: "Its not starting well that wins the race, but finishing well."

I do want to finish strong, but discipline is missing. Must find it, ASAP!

Tell me what you need to finish well this day? Week? Month?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Two Words: Choose Courage

Parenting well,
My desire.
Letting go,
It's hard.
Trusting others,
Harder still.

As babies,
Held close,
Under wing,
On breast.
Always near.

But kids 
Grow upward,
and outward,
and independent.
Healthy. Good.

Time's come.
Dreaded most.
Feelings rule,
Need prayer.

Sending Girl,
To camp.
Two days.
Only two.

She's Excited, 
Happy, Nervous. 
Not afraid.
Not Afraid.

I am.

This fear,
Not hers.
My baggage.
My experience.

Never mentioned,
On blog,
I'm survivor,
Many years.
Sex abuse.

Words look
ugly here.

Truth is,
My story.

I'm OK.
Worked hard,
Healthy, Happy.
Grateful. Loved.
Much support.

Even so,
Some times,
Fear reigns.
Robs joy,
Steals focus.
Tempts me,
To despair.

Lies dormant
for awhile.
A week.
A month.
A year.
Wakes up,
Sneaks in,
Takes over.

Brown eyes.
Tender heart.
Innocent face.
Bring back
Irrational desire
To protect.

God Loves,
He protects.
He holds,
Them. Me.
Under wing,
On breast.
Always near.

Little girl,
Have fun!
Be free!
Don't fear.
Trust God.
Experience life.
Climb trees.
Eat smores.
Laugh hard.
Make friends.
Sleep well.
Come home.
Ask to
Go again.

I'll pray,
And trust.
Walk proud,
Face fear.
In courage.
Choosing life.
Really living.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Friday That Wasn't

Friday. I love that day.

Last night, as I climbed into bed, I kept thinking it was Thursday night which always makes me happy, but I quickly reminded myself that it was, in fact, Wednesday.

Apparently, I couldn't convince myself.

When I woke up I had a distinct feels like Friday feeling.

And its not.

I could look at it two ways:

I could be happy that I get two Fridays in a week: Pseudo Friday and Real Friday.

Or I could be irritated that my week feels a whole day longer.

Are you following along?

Maybe you shouldn't, cuz clearly I am lost.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Walk in the Woods

Today is overcast and a bit on the cool side.

Its a perfect morning to put on a sweatshirt, grab a cup of coffee and go for a walk in the woods of our happy little acre.

Wanna come with me?

Right out the front door...

Azalea's galore...

There are some in the back too, in colors of light pink, lavender, and these...

You can't tell in this photo, but they are an amazing orangey pink (salmon color)....

Last weekend while The Mister was building the swing, The Girl and her friend built a "girls-only fort" in the yard, using some wood and some tree branches.

Please take note that their "vase" is a good glass from my kitchen. 

I had to bite my tongue from protesting...after all, it is beautiful on the mantle of their little house.

Let's move on...

Can I tell you what surprises me every year?

The irises: I did not plant them. I cannot make them grow . As a matter of fact, the bleakness of winter and the harsh reality of cold completely erases them from my memory.

At first that may sound sad, but its not.

Every year I give thanks, because it feels like a gift I forgot to ask for.

A beautifully wrapped...

...perfectly made gift.

I am amazed by it all.

Amazed....that in just the span of 20 days my yard can look like this:
...and turn into this:

What amazes you today?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Swinging From Trees

The Girl has been wanting a swing for the longest time.

Not a swing set, but a swing among the trees.

Her Dad was happy to oblige and while he thought and planned and came up with ideas, the kids tied ropes in other trees and generally behaved like monkeys.

I tended my garden and tried not to watch as The Mister balanced on ladders all too high, with heavy lumber in one hand, power tools in the other.

I had to choke down words that were not really meant for him....words of affirmation, such as "Be careful. Don't slip! Do you think that ladder is secure?"

Saying them makes me feel better, but don't really help him.

But when I saw this:

I'll admit, I panicked.

I yelled, "Your Dad may have let you climb up there but this will be the last time!"

"Oh, and also... Be careful! Don't slip!"

Here's the reaction I got.

He looks scared doesn't he?

Turns out, I'll be losing that battle. Word from The Misters Workbench is that there is a zip line and a modified tree house in the works. Its a secret, which is why I'm telling you.

I'll pretend to be frightened.

Yes, I'll huff and puff like good mama's do.

And then I'll sit back in my yard and watch the monkeys play.

Monday, April 19, 2010

All I Really Want To Do

I have a secret.

I really want to tell you how I joined a gym last week and its one of the happiest things I've done for myself all year.

I really want to tell you about how beautiful my garden is, and how colorful the iris and azaleas are outside.

I really want to tell you how much I love the man I have the privilege to call The Mister.

I really want to tell you about some big homeschool changes I think I am going to make for next year.

I really want to show you the new toy the kids have in the back yard.

I really want to talk about the movie I saw this weekend,and then sit down and catch up on all your posts from the weekend (if you're a blogger**).

But I can't...

...and that's not even my secret.

The secret is that I have been making a habit of not cleaning in unseen places....namely the entire upstairs.

I have packages to mail, and English to teach and phone calls to make.

And I have to scrub the master bath room...with a months worth of elbow grease....gross, I know.

BUT! I promise to tell you all those things this week.

And maybe even show you how clean my upstairs is?

Nah, probably not that. We have to keep some things secret, right?

Now its your turn, what would rather tell me in order to not do something else that you need to do? If you don't have anything, because you are on schedule (or never get behind) than make something up. **Oh, and if you're not a blogger, why not? Come join the I-don't-want-to-clean-my-upstairs club!

Happy Monday!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Pre-Teen Progress

Having a house full of pre-teens is fun.

Well, full might not be the right word. So maybe I better try again....

Having two pre-teens in the house is fun.

Its true.

Although we are testing waters in eye rolling, sulkiness, and always getting the last word, there are good parts too.

Like the fact that they are learning to be humorously clever.

If you are a mama who is stuck in the made-up knock-knock jokes phase  - there is hope!

Eventually they will stop telling the same nonsense knock-knock jokes over and over again. They will actually tell jokes and stories that are witty and fun to hear. You will actually laugh... for real.

Or how about when you are on the phone and the kids suddenly realize it prime time to ask you for something they want, in hopes that you're too distracted to notice?

Well that... oh wait... that still happens.

Sorry, can't lie.

But, take heart, eventually instead of following you (and the person you're talking to) from room to room  trying to wear you down, the natives get savvy. They learn that often the key to getting what they want is to change the strategy.

For instance, several nights ago while I was on the phone, my son handed me a white note-card and a pen. The note card read:

Apparently I was supposed to write back an emphatic YES! on the card and hand it back to him.


So I ignored him. 

I did tell him later that I thought his poem was cute. 

Only it wasn't "supposed to be cute."

It made me happy though, not because I am as sweet as a rose, but because I am seeing progress.

Progress may not always look the way I want it to look - Or won't leave me to talk in peace - but its a sign that they are growing up.

I love them so.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pillow Face

Slept through alarm.

FOrgot about dentist appointment for kids.

Why did "The First Appointment of The Day" sound good six months ago?

Hair is wonky.

Not yet awake.

Just found out that my make-up covers a multitude of sins wrinkles, but will not cover up pillow marks.


So I'll be back with a real post later...but until then:

Talk amongst yourselves....

Fluffy or flat pillows? Feather or synthetic?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Testing 1-2-3

We've come to that time in every homeschooler's life (at least the ones in North Carolina) that bring fear and trepidation: Standardized Testing.

I wish I could say that I'm cool, calm and collected. But the reality is that it is a bit stressful for me.

Its not hard, really. Its just that these are the benchmarks that let me know if the goals I made for my students at the beginning of the year have been met.

I have done my best to keep on a standard course of study (as compared to a national standard) but the truth is that homeschooling isn't like traditional school -- no matter how hard you try to make it so.

Home educators have opportunities that reach far beyond what a conventional classroom can offer. We can get more done in less time, or we can take opportunities to spend more time on subjects of interest.

For example, when we go on a nature hike for science and we see a small snake, that might lead us down a herpetology trail. We might come home and learn about snakes in our area, which may lead to a study on reptiles of North Carolina, and so on.

Learning in this way is fantastic (even when its about snakes), but there are only so many hours in a day. When you seize every opportunity as a teachable moment you do so knowing that many things we learn will not be "testable" material.

We have chosen to educate our children in this way because its how I want them to approach the rest of their life -- always seeking to learn, not because it means we'll have higher test scores but because its fulfillingenjoyable -- its what we're meant to do.

Standardized testing is a great tool. I would do it even if it wasn't required by law. Most things in this life are measured by test taking, and the skills they learn while filling out bubble sheets are also going to serve them as they enter the world.

However, I must remember the test is here to serve my students educational purposes, not for them to be its survey-able slave.

On days like today, as I hear pencils scratching across bubble sheets, I must remind myself that the world may measure educational gain by standards of testing, but being well-trained for life-long learning can never be measured by rank and score.

In our homeschool, success is largely immeasurable (even by the teacher) and for that I am thankful.

To my homeschooling, and traditional schooling, test takers: May you do well...and learn more!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Virginia is for Bloggers

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting two bloggers while I was visiting in Virginia.

Now you get to meet them too.

On the left is Jolanthe of No Ordinary Moments. In the middle is Lindsey of Bytes of Memory . And that girl to the right is yours case you didn't recognize me without my cup of coffee.

If you haven't had the pleasure of a Meet-In-Real-Life (or MIRL, if you will) you might not know the butterflies that accompany the excitement.

I mean, afterall, I was only going to meet two (not-so) complete strangers from the internet

And to add a little excitement we all had our families in tow, bringing the combined total to a party of 10. 

3-to-7 adult to kid ratio. 

And you know what? 

It was awesome!

Once we got all our kids loaded up with burgers, hot dogs, and fries we fell into comfortable conversation. 

I was so glad when The Boy took my camera and started snapping photos:

Unfortunately we didn't get one of sweet Sammy! So you'll have to hop over to Lindsey's blog to see him (he's the handsome blue-eyed boy on the banner). Speaking of blue eyes...Lindsey has stunning blue eyes....

The kids all got along swimmingly, but after awhile all seven kids were itching to move, so we moved the party to a great park right down the road.

The girls, who took to each other like ducks to water, all sat down to watch a home-video of Penny the Bunny. 

I am always amazed when I meet bloggers whom I have read for awhile. Its so fun because you already know a framework of who they are, so its easy to just fall into conversation. Like old friends you haven't seen in awhile, but when your together its like no time has passed.

I was sad to go so soon. I wanted to ask them both a million more questions and chat for just a little bit more. I am hopeful we'll get to visit again!

Thanks J & L, for being willing to meet and have lunch! Let's do it again soon!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Because I Said Never

There was a time in the young CoffeeGal's life when she spoke of things she didn't really know.

Like that time, before children, when I knew all that was to be known about child-rearing based on years of babysitting and common sense.

Yes, as things tend to go with young mothers, I had a laundry list of things I would never do when the stork dropped my first bundle.

I was never going to spank.

Wasn't going to bribe.

I wasn't going to let my kids watch TV; fix separate (kid friendly) meals; or lose my cool when my little angel was having a fit in the check out line of the grocery store.

Nope. Not me. Never.

Of course, things change when reality hits.

Its amazing how differently life looks when you are living on 2.7 hours of sleep and haven't showered in three days.

There comes a moment when you realize that you may have picked a few battles that aren't worth the war. So, you set the kids in front of PBS (cuz at least its "educational"), while the nuggets cook in the oven, and hope that this buys a twenty-minute window to get the "real" dinner ready. Oh, and maybe a shower.

Having been in this Motherhood gig for nearly 13 years, I thought I'd learned my lesson(s).

I thought I had willingly turned in my No Never card, for the Been There, Done That.

I was wrong.

Last week I did something I've never done. Something I thought I would never do:

I bought a loaf of white sandwich bread.

I won't go into details, but a certain girl who shall remain nameless, apparently ate white bread at a friends house.

Within the first bite she understood the depth of her deprivation and firmly declared foul. She announced that she didn't like sandwiches unless they be made of non-whole grain manna.

I thought this little protest would never fly. After all her love for peanut butter would overcome! So for nearly three months I pressed into the battlefield by refusing to buy the squishy mal-nutrient carbs.

I was wrong.

She is sweet, but she's resilient. She knows what she likes.

I became desperate, because in a household where I provide three meals every. single. day. the sandwich is a staple.

However, the real shocker came the day I found myself in the grocery store reading the labels. (I looked over my shoulders, lest anybody see me with sub-nutrient food in my hands.) I was shocked! Did you know that some white breads are enriched, having no HFCS and are actually higher in fiber and protein?

How could I refuse?

She can get her whole grains in her bowl of Cheerios, and all those Pop-tarts she eats.

Just kidding.

She doesn't eat Cheerios.

So there. You know the truth. In the world of parenting I have lost the White Bread Battle, but I have gained ground in the Never-Say-Never War.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Virginia Glatitudes

I'm typing at you from my phome in my hotel in VA. My lunch with Lindsey and Jolanthe and the kids was great. I got along great with the Mom's and the kids got along great with eacother! I'll write more when I get home and have the ability to spell check!

Virginia is amazingly beautiful with its rolling hills and amazing greenery. Spring has begun here too and its a wonder.

We are here with my sister in law and her family. I hadn't seen my nieces since last summer and they are as cute as can be. They love my kids as much as mine love them and it fun to watch them enjoy eachother!

Today we are off to enjoy a few historical sights and to build some memories together!

Tell me: What vacation did you go on as a child that you remember the most?

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010


* This post was originally a comment I made on a post written by Whimzie of Snoodlings .  Recently I had a conversation with a friend on how life often works out differently than we envisioned or planned. So I thought I would share my thoughts here too.


As a kid and young adult I wanted to be a performer or dancer.
I had to let go of that dream.
Sometimes (specifically, some certain-times-of-the-month times) I still ache from the loss of that dream.
But that wasn’t God’s dream for me.
I dreamed of stardom, beauty, and grace. My dream was to be center-stage.
God’s dream for my life? 
One that is robust, and full. Multifaceted. 
It certainly wouldn’t have fit into my tiny, limited, romantic notion of what I thought I wanted my life to look like and be.
The life I live is His dream for me. And, now, I wouldn’t have it any other way. 
Being a wife, mom, friend, and teacher is far more fitting than the slim picture I had envisioned for my life. Sometimes I still dream that pink, tulle-y, self-focused dream and I forget that God has called me to a deep and filling life. A humble life that isn’t supposed to hold ME at center-stage.
His dream for me is worth earthly dreams set aside.
The Lord reminded me of His call to this humble service this morning when I flipped to 1 Cor 1:26-31 .
Yes, I agree. There are times in life when God calls us to stop “doing”, especially when the “doing” isn’t the “best” for us. But often the “do/be” is one in the same: to sit with our faces lifted to Him, watching, waiting, listening for Him to tell us who we are, and who He purposes us to become.
And the good news? As long as we keep our eyes focused on the Lord, there are no worries about what we want to be when we grow up, cuz we’ll always be growing in Him.
Until one day…
That beautiful day when we will be right where we want to be, doing exactly what we were made to do, gazing face-to-face with the Person we want to see…
Dream fulfilled.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Kellie's Song

There is a poem about spring that completely describes how I feel on this first day of our spring break (for us, anyway):

Pippa's Song

The year's at the spring,
and the day's at the morn;
Mornings at seven;
The hillside's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the the wing;
The snail's on the thorn:
God is heaven -
All's right with the world!
~Robert Browning

Spring has always made me happy. Just like in second grade - only with marginally better spelling skills and the ability to download photos.

Everyday something new is coming to life. I always forget how many different shades of green there are...Its wonderful...and also, Zyrtec and Claritin are wonderful too. 

We had a great Easter weekend, the perfect combination of active rest and Sabbath rest.

The Mister and I stained the outside deck...just in time. The spring sprinkling of pine pollen had just started to fall from the trees Saturday morning. Today it looks as if someone had taken a flour sieve and dusted everything with yellow powder.

I worked in the garden The Mister Built: 

We had a camp fire and roasted Peeps. In general, I am not a Peeps fan. Unless we happen to be in the desert. When we lived there I would open them and let them sit a couple weeks until they were dried out and crunchy. I guess you could say I enjoy Peeps crunchy or cooked but not "raw".

We took pictures with our very own Easter bunny.

I must admit, I love that bunny.

Look at her wash her face. (I don't even have to remind her to do so.)

She loves to be with her people. She even gives bunny kisses...if you put your face close up to yours, she'll lick you!

But when I saw her reclining with the kids as they played a game on the deck....well, it just made me smile.

Today I am getting for a road trip. 

The kids and I are headed to Virginia to spend a couple days with family. As an added bonus I get to meet (in-real-life!) Lindsey of Bytes of Memory and Jolanthe of No Ordinary Moments and their families for lunch tomorrow.  I can't wait! 

My sabbatical last week was so refreshing. Sometimes a girl just has to set aside even good things and rest awhile. But now I am ready to go!

Happy First week of April!

Sunday, April 04, 2010


Children of the Living God,
Come and sing,
Sing out loud!

Sing to the Living God!

Sing of the wonders He has made,
Bird in flight,
Falling rain.
Sing of the wonders He has made.

Sing to the Living God!

How He loves us with great love,
He who sits enthroned above.
For our lives He spilled His blood.
Sent His Spirit like a flood.

Children of the Living God,

Sing to the Living God!

Sing of His gentle healing hand,
How they found the lowliest man,
Sing of His gentle healing hand,

Sing to the Living God!

Sing of the mercy that He gives,
though we sin He forgives,
Sing of the mercy that He gives,

Sing to the Living God!

Sing for the morning when He comes
In the clouds glorious Son,
Sing for the morning when he comes,

Sing to the Living God!

How He loves us with great love,
He who sits enthroned above.
For our lives He spilled His blood.
Sent His Spirit like a flood.

Children of the Living God,
Sing to the Living God!

~Fernando Ortega

Happy Easter!

He is Risen!