Tuesday, June 30, 2009


That almost looks like an algebra problem, huh?

This past weekend we loaded two families of six into an RV and headed for So Cal for a Catholic homeschool conference. So many perfect photo ops, yet I think I only took two pictures.

First, the conference was held at the Carmelite Retreat House, the same one where I attended the retreat last month. So there were Carmelite religious sisters in their full habits all over the place. Couple that with the large families, and homeschool mamas (and dads) swarming around and it was a valuable cultural experience.

Attended five talks, my favorite one being "Why Teach Latin?" It was given by a guy who teaches Latin at an all-boys prep school in L.A., has a Swedish accent, and knew his stuff! I came out of the presentation more convinced of the value of my kids learning Latin, but more intimidated by all the work ahead. I'll be learning grammar (English and Latin) along with them.

Didn't sleep much. Twelve people in an RV including two toddlers makes for a lot of waking up and waking each other up.

Enjoyed the curriculum fair and the book exchange. Yes, the kids got some fun reading, and yes, I looked for titles in my lesson plan - but my favorite purchase was this:

My first book by a Catholic author with Catholic subject matter, but NOT defending or explaining the faith - just talking about living it. The author is an educated, homeschooling cradle Catholic who makes me laugh out loud with her opinions on everything from homeschool stereotypes to the sacraments.

Existing on maybe six or seven hours of sleep over the two-night trip, weary of trying to keep John from becoming a projectile in the motorhome, and more aware than usual of my dire need to have a "plan" in my daily life (contrasted with our friends' dire need to have "no plan") - I enjoyed reading my new book all the way home. When I wasn't napping.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Music & Horseback Riding

While I was folding laundry, Cayna came to inform me that it was time for a concert.

That's Cayna on the tambourine, Joe on the bongos, Kevin on guitar, and Bethanie on "dicar", (which I've never heard of, but it looks remarkably like a guitar).

In case you were wondering where I fit in, I don't. I take pictures. Every good band has to have an agent/publicist.

And John? Nearby on horseback.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Found Around the House

I'm sitting in the office right now, and there is a sheep staring at me from the corner of the room.

In the family room, a pink Care Bear, a gray cat, a Nemo, and a naked baby doll are resting on the carpet, some trapped under the toy shopping cart.

In the living room, Zoe from Sesame Street is sitting perfectly upright on a chair facing the stairs.

We share our house with dozens of stuffed animals and dolls. Even Joe chooses most nights between his huge new Shamu and his favorite --- Santa Claus.

Sometimes I come upon really cute set-ups that the girls arrange. Like this one:

That's Bethanie's little bunny. Tucked in nice and cozy on our bed. Bunny's blanket is Bethanie's nightgown, and the Batman pillow belongs to Joe.

Other times, I discover more disturbing scenes, and I wonder how my daughters would explain them:

Look closely. That's Polly Pocket completely submerged in a Moo cup on the bathroom counter. Appropriately, she is wearing her swimsuit. She was purchased along with a pet dolphin and a fountain set-up, so presumably she is used to being in the water. I'll probably never know if she was pulling a Houdini-like escape, treating her hair that changes color in the water, or only trying to startle me.

I just went to check so I could report on her current location. The Moo cup is empty. Polly is reclining, wide-eyed, on a soaking wet towel on the dining room table. That can't be good for the table. But it's way less freaky than hanging out under water.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Remember Garfield?

His whole "I Hate Mornings" and "I Hate Mondays" attitude?

Yeah, well, I'm right there. I hate mornings around here. Maybe striped jammies and bunny slippers and a big mug of coffee would help. I doubt it, though.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My husband Kevin (Federline)

Have you seen this guy?

Dancer. Married for a time to Britney Spears.

How 'bout this guy?

Engineer. Married to me.

For Father's Day, we met my Dad and Vivver at the Original Pancake House after church. Along with roughly seven thousand other people and their fathers. The hour and a half wait sorta detracted from the melt-in-your-mouthness of the pancakes. But I digress...

In order to keep John happy for the ninety-minute restaurant stay, we tried many things, including a constant flow of apple juice. Therefore, about the time Kevin was carrying him out to the parking garage for the return trip home, John's diaper reached maximum capacity and Kevin's shirt got peed on. A lot. Kevin climbed into the driver's seat shirtless. I laughed. Not because he isn't perfectly studly, but I'm just not used to being driven around by a guy only half-clothed. Told him he reminded me of Kevin Federline. I don't know where my familiarity with Mr. Federline comes from. Let's blame the People magazine subscription I had for a time thanks to my mom.

So there's my father's day image to remember. Kevin driving our minivan without a shirt. His shaved head and not-shaved face reminding me of random celebrities. Please note he AGREED to pose for the above shot. Even pulled his sleeves up without being prompted. I wonder if he secretly read People magazine back when I was a subscriber.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Most I've Laughed all Week

Here's what happened: (in much the same way I'd tell someone over the phone - prepare for a giant comma splice) I went to Magan's blog, read her post, went to comment, and saw Amy's comment. Amy never blogs (gosh darn it, because I love to read her thoughts) but I clicked over just in case. In her most recent post, in OCTOBER, (come on, Amy!) she posted a link to a website called Cake Wrecks. Sounded intriguing, plus I trust Amy's sense of humor, so I visited.

Spent the next ten minutes laughing my patootie (along with tuckus, one of Cayna's alternate words for "butt")off. The cakes are funny enough, but the blogger's commentary puts me over the edge. So worth the visit.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ocean Visit

Just got back from visiting the ocean, and simultaneously finished reading Rebecca and Rebecca's Tale, book and sequel written decades apart by different authors. Big theme in both is the lure of the sea and its mystery. Which of course I thought about as me and my family hiked from our hotel to a suitable spot to watch the sunset over the Pacific.

We found a little overlook situated at the top of a cliff between two multi-million dollar homes. There were two benches and a pleasant little sign warning us about the dangers of erosion. I kept looking at the short distance (six inches?) between the face of the cliff and the fancy wall the homeowner had bordering his property.

Living in the desert, but a short drive from the ocean, I appreciate getting to see it sporadically, and I don't take it for granted. I'm guessing those folks who live so close aren't quite as enamored by it. Or maybe they are and that's why they pay such high prices to establish themselves there. I did notice, though, that only two other locals came to join us on our cliff to watch the sun go down. One was a guy on a bike with an extensive backpack and a brown paper bag with a bottle of wine inside. He poured a plastic cup of wine and tried to light up a cigarette and might have enjoyed watching the sun go down, but it was too darn breezy out there by the ocean so he had to go cower behind a wall to succeed in lighting up the cig.

Below us. Far, far, far below us in the water were two surfers. The sun was by this time making fantastic colors on the water, and the two surfers were right in the very spot where the colors were reflected. I wondered if they realized that. I suppose those guys are examples of people who DON'T take the ocean for granted. They are the true ocean devotees. Their surfing depends on it. Those guys can't just up and move to Indiana like I can. Whenever I go to the beach, I do think a lot about surfers, and not for the reasons you might think. (That's what I'm thinking about the volleyball players, hee-hee). I wonder what they do for money. How far do they live from the water? How many times a week do they get out to catch a wave? What effect does saltwater have on the skin after years of surfing? And my number one most-wondered-about question --- is all that work worth it for the few waves you seem to catch before the sun goes down or the sharks come out? Suiting up, freezing your butt off, paddling and paddling and paddling and getting hit in the face and up the nose with saltwater? It must be.

Stop Nervousing Your Tuckus!

That's Cayna's way of saying "Quit Worrying!" I thought only cartoonists used the word tuckus, but who knows where she gets this stuff. Kevin, probably. Yeah, let's just give him the credit.

She said this to me affectionately this morning when I was visibly fretting over the WAY TOO PINK gallon of red paint I bought yesterday. Anyone need a can of Behr paint in a lovely shade of "Three Cheers for Pooh"? (It's from Behr Paint's "Disney" line.) I'm soooooooooo mad that I got the wrong color. Usually, I'm an ace at color and also VERY careful about checking and double-checking before I purchase. I don't know what got into me. Oh, well. I'm gonna stop nervousing my tuckus and just suck it up and go get another gallon.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Homeschool Consultation #1 - with MC

MC is our homeschooling consultant with the curriculum we're using. She is a retired mother of six who homeschooled all her kids and now helps with her grandkids. She and her husband have dairy cows on their property in Virginia. Kevin says we gotta get to be good friends and go visit them. I agree.

We had our first consultation and I loved every minute. It was about two hours long. We talked about my thoughts and feelings at this point; discussed the kids' assessments; and went over the book list.

I especially liked her input in two areas:

1) When I told her I was feeling a little nervous, she asked, "Do you know where you're going to get the power you'll need to homeschool?" (Interesting she used the word "power", I noted.) I sat there wondering about the answer and wanting a hint since I'm new to homeschooling AND Catholicism.

My answer: "God?" (Isn't that a nice, safe, all-encompassing answer?) She said God would work through our marriage to equip us to homeschool. I love that. Since, in Catholicism, marriage is an actual sacrament, we believe extra grace is imparted right through (into?) our relationship in a unique way. (I'm guessing most Protestants believe this too, just not "sacramentally".) So... now we'll be utilizing that in our homeschooling endeavors. Neat.

2) She asked a few questions about my labors and birth experiences. When it came out that I had four home births, she paused a second and said, "Teri, based on what you're telling me, I just don't think you're going to have a problem homeschooling." Since childbirth is a big topic in my life, I loved that she drew comparisons between the transition stage of labor and the rough times of homeschooling. Just when you think you absolutely can't do it anymore, something changes and then you see success --- or something like that. I liked it. And I think it will speak loudly to me in the midst of the trials that I'm sure to experience.

Since the consultation, we've received our syllabi and most of the kids books and resources. We ordered from Emmanuel Books, Illuminated Ink, Amazon, and Abeka. It was a carnival of delivery trucks for a couple days. It is fun for me to pull different books out each day and look them over. I'm excited for the kids and for myself. I noticed that Joseph will be memorizing four poems this year, and one of them is "The Village Blacksmith" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I know the first stanza because my dad had to memorize it in gradeschool, too - and I've heard it my whole life.

Why not end a blogpost with good ol' Henry Wadsworth Longfellow?

Under a spreading chestnut-tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.
(which my father and all his classmates read, "strong as rubber bands.")

Here's to you, Mr. Longfellow! And to Classical Education!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Eleven Years

Today is our eleventh wedding anniversary.

Eleven years ago today, I was probably on my way to the church to get dressed. Only a couple warring bridesmaids, one annoyed mother-in-law, and a June day in Arizona. I still remember a moment I took alone in the sanctuary before it all began. The flowers had been placed and they looked and smelled so pretty. I'm still a big fan of stargazer lilies for that memory.

The ceremony began with "Scotland the Brave". Imagine the drumroll at the beginning. I was told the whole congregation jumped out of their seats with the first sound. I had our friend Bill on the drums, and my in-laws' friend on the bagpipes. It was a good start for a wedding, in my opinion: A bit startling, sort of comical, slightly formal, slightly odd. That's the beginning of a marriage, huh? Not sure what song I'd pick to typify the eleventh year.

While someone else thinks about that, I'm going out to dinner and a show with my husband.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Woke Up in San Diego...

... going to sleep in Las Vegas.

Just returned from our first-ever real and true Love family vacation. We've had plenty of trips to see extended family, or to attend a conference or event, but in all our years of marriage and child-raising, this was the first time we actually got the "oomph" to choose a destination, make the necessary arrangements, and plan for a trip all on our own volition.

Two adults, four kids, one packed mini-van. Beach, boogie-boarding, the San Diego Wild Animal Park, Sea World, and Mission San Diego de Alcala. Two hotels, lots of maps, a couple wrong turns, a couple family strolls. And over three-hundred photos. Which, thanks to my obsessive-compulsive deleting, I trimmed WAY down to a hundred and fifty-ish.

I will now include some favorite shots representing the real and true Love family vacation. In the spirit of "real and true" I will give you the "on-the-surface" explanation as well as the "behind the scene" explanation (in parentheses).

This is the gorgeous view from our motel room where we stayed the first half of our trip.
(Truly a treat to stay in such a fun place. However, I will now confess that due to my extreme snobbery, it took two FULL days of "discussion" between Kevin and me plus one cancellation and one re-reservation to actually make the reservation. Kevin gets a prize for finding the place and for putting up with me.)

Our sweet daughter showing her total delight at the beach. She has had a love for the ocean and the beach since she was tiny. She likes barefoot, bathing suits, running, splashing, digging, chasing birds, and the thrill of the surf. And, by birth, she IS a California girl --- so I guess it makes sense.
(There's really no "behind the scene" for this one except that I forgot the camera for our subsequent beach times including the boogie boarding, darnit!)

Joseph feeding a lorikeet at the Wild Animal Park. So sweet to see my son up close with a bird.
(Frankly, I'm quite shocked that all four of my children didn't run screaming from the lorikeets. They don't have the best reputation with animals of any kind. All went well except I got pooped on not once, not twice, but THREE times. No one else in the family but me. THREE. And once was on my shirt where I had to wear it the rest of the day. Sheesh.)

Obligatory photo of Shamu. Loved the show. They really suck you in. I think everyone leaves wishing they'd majored in marine biology and gotten a job as a trainer at Sea World.
(Do you know that Anheuser-Busch now owns Sea World? I didn't. I don't know who owned it before, but it was kinda funny to see Budweiser for sale all over the place. Come to think of it, it was kinda impressive that with all those people we didn't see anybody walking around drunk. Maybe that's why the park closes so early. I do wonder if beer outsells funnel cake in a place like that.)

John up close with a beluga whale. He was in awe of everything. Joe's favorite was the penguins; Cayna & Bethanie liked the Sesame Street rides; I dug the manatees; and Kevin's favorite moment was finding one of the nine-dollar souvenir cups that someone left behind on a ride. Yes, he kept it. If you had to ask, you don't know him very well.
(I lost count of how many times Bethanie and Cayna were freaked out by an exhibit. There were MANY fits about the Shark Encounter, specifically. Cayna asked repeatedly, and I quote: "Can the sharks burst out of the tank?")

My organic friends and family will be horrified by this, but for everyone else, consider it my best piece of vacation-parenting advice: when all else fails, give the toddler his own whole bag of Cheez-Its.
(Kept him happy and quiet for darn near an hour!)

We saved the roller coaster for last. Cayna wouldn't stop talking about it from the moment she spotted it from the parking lot. I LOVE roller coasters and haven't been at an amusement park UN-pregnant in ages. I was so excited that both Joe and Cayna wanted to go. It was a short ride, and very wet, but I loved it.
(It was also one of the worst times I've had with my son and daughter. I can't get the screams out of my head. "MOMMY! I WANT TO GET OFF! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I'M SCARED, I'M SCARED, I'M SCARED! PLEASE, MOMMY, PLEASE!" We walked off the ride with both of them still sobbing. Holy cow. Maybe John will be my brave one.) If you can enlarge this photo and see it up close you'll note the expressions of sheer horror on Cayna (next to me in the very front) and Joe right behind her.

Loved this moment in real life, love the photo. Leaving Sea World at closing time, having just attended the Shamu show a second time. This photo represents survival! We survived the shark exhibit, the roller coaster, and two days of no-nap for the 20 month-old. My girls are blissful that they got to choose a souvenir and are giving them piggy-back rides out of the park. Kevin and I are pretty excited that we really pulled off a family vacation.

Inside the church at Mission San Diego. Kevin and I were able to enjoy the history of the mission and our church a little (while the girls were occupied with their Big Bird and Zoe dolls, Joe chased John and we only had to say "Shhhhhh" about four-hundred times.)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Cayna Cake #6

She's missing her two front teeth, but has two new earrings in her ears. Maybe that balances her out? In our family, Cayna stands out for her drama and her comedy. She switches quickly from talk about princesses to talk about buttcheeks. It's tough to keep up sometimes, but her motion is a big part of her. Kevin called her "Hurri-cayna" when she was a toddler, and it still fits, minus the destructive element. Now she's just speed and wind and bringing everyone along.

Before her birthday, I gave her a few cake books and asked her to pick her cake. Quite fittingly, since they are the most elaborate and beautiful, she picked a cake in the wedding section. Thankfully, this was a "destination" wedding cake with a tropical theme. Also thankfully, she substituted the bride and groom topper with a princess we found at Michael's.

Here it is!

It was fun to make, especially since I coerced Kristi into helping me. For all you cake decorators out there - here are some of the fun things about this cake:

1) Yes, the princess is standing IN the water instead of BESIDE the water, as I would have liked. Cayna chose that.

2) I found those little palm trees at Michael's. The Wilton Cake Decorating book design called for the palm trees to be made of fondant (all edible, you see). Not only does fondant taste terrible in my opinion (though who would eat a whole palm tree? --- well, maybe the kids would) but it would also take roughly five hours to craft a tree outta that stuff. No thanks. Plastic it is!

3) The seashells around the very bottom edge of the cake are vanilla candy! Made with those cute candy molds. The kids loved eating them along with their cake and ice cream. I loved making them.

4) That was my first time using gel icing (for the waterfall). Looks pretty "bubbly" and I don't think it's supposed to. I have a lot to learn. But just you wait! By Cayna's sweet sixteen I'll be professional!

I thought about why cake decorating is so much fun for me...
... when creativity and dessert can go together, it's a GREAT thing!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Before & After

My little Cayna got her ears pierced today. It was a wild moment. She almost backed out - we had left the store and everything, but she was so sad - and I knew it was more disappointment than fear so we went back in and with some fancy talk, me wearing a silly hat and crazy sunglasses off the rack of the Claire's store - and with five people including one of the employees singing "Happy Birthday" while they shot the earrings through her little lobes, my almost six year-old got her wish! She looks so sweet and is so proud. At dinner she marveled, "I can't believe I got my ears pierced!"

I can't either, little girl.



Friday, June 5, 2009

Friday night live

I have this new interest in blogging daily again. But I'm too tired to write about what I really want to write about (my first consultation with my homeschool assistant) so you get blibber blabber.

On this Friday, I...
slept in a little
got out early
attended a homeschool art class
prayed the Rosary led by children
researched ear piercing
had my lovely afternoon prayer time
talked on the phone
mopped my floor
cursed the ants
answered the doorbell a few times (the new neighbor kids apparently love us)
played outside with my kids and the new neighbor kids
cleaned bedrooms while Kevin made scrambled egg burritos (yum!)
ate dinner
washed dishes
put kids to bed
scrapbooked with a friend
came home
sat down at the computer
anticipated going to bed

it is safe to assume that now I will really go to bed and go to sleep and dream about faraway lands like the Netherlands where Kevin gets to go soon (his list of things done today would include passport renewal) --- for the record, I'd like to have a reason to renew my own passport - perhaps Italy in 2010?


Thursday, June 4, 2009

Still chilled

Jumped into 74-degree water tonight. Back in the day when we owned a pool, I wasn't real excited about swimming until about the 80-degree mark. And that's when I was a lot younger and less at a risk for heart attack.

Happy to say I survived. Came home. Fed the kids a snack. Prayer time. Bed for everyone under the age of nine. Then Kevin and I sat and ordered all the books for next year for homeschool. That got kinda costy. Still much less than private school by comparison, and right about even with public once you add up all the five-dollar checks I write over the course of a year for various celebrations, donations, PTA membership, etc.

Big night for Teri.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Why Should I Ever Have to Mop?

I mean, seriously - each day I put on a clean pair of socks and before long, they're black. Shouldn't that keep my floors clean? Ought I to treat them with mop-n-glo?

(Is "ought I" valid grammar?)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Grandfolks!

Today is my grandparent's 70th wedding anniversary. If they were alive, imagine the party we'd have. Theirs was a double wedding along with my great aunt and uncle. Which would mean an even BIGGER party.

I'm guessing very few people make it to 70 years of wedded bliss. I will be 97 for that occasion in my life. Eesh. I wonder what percentage of Americans make it to age 97? Wikipedia says the average female life expectancy is 81. Living to 97 and being able to celebrate my 70th wedding anniversary - what are the chances of THAT?

And my last question... what is the traditional gift for the 70th anniversary? Some websites cut off naming a gift after the 60th. Slightly depressing. Others say that from 60 years on - the gift is diamonds. Your marriage apparently ceases to increase in value after the 60th year. Just keep those diamonds coming! If you're on a fixed income, how do you calculate what you should spend on a diamond for your bride or groom?

Perhaps I will suggest diamonds earlier than our 60th. Then, if we make it to the big 7-0, we can ask our great grandchildren to throw us a party. Glad I thought this all through. Load off my mind.

Monday, June 1, 2009

June First

Two not-so-good things that happened on the first day of this new month:

The ants are back. This time, they're pouring in through the floor of the dining room and devouring the treats my children leave scattered. If they would pick up the mess and leave with it, maybe I could learn to live with them. But this isn't how they function. They just swarm and bite and gross me out.

Bethanie followed me out of the house to go to the store this evening and said, "Why do you have a great big huge butt?" This is the same girl who requested four kinds of cookies and a large block of fancy cheese once we were AT the store. Those products likely added up to 1,585 calories per serving --- so I didn't get them. I had my butt on my mind.

Two not-so-bad things that happened on the first day of this new month:

My imagination is working hard on an article I'd like to write and try to have published. I'm pursuing the only leads I have currently to try to do this thing. If it all works out, I'll dance in the streets. If not, I'll print the article here and you can all pat my back and comfort me.

I started looking at races to run between now and the end of the year. Ideally, a fast 5K, a 10K, and another half marathon to beat my first time. Might run the 10K at high altitude in December. Gotta figure out the other two. Hafta keep going, and this guy keeps inspiring me.