Thursday, October 28, 2010

Best laid plans...

No Levi this week.  It has been odd. Quiet.

My sister had a week between school she and Levi are spending 9 days together! (gasp).

I am happy for both of them..but has been eerie without the kiddo here.

I had grand plans. To tame the laundry monster. To put away the pack-n-play. To catch up on all my homework for the SAM class. To crochet at least 2 blocks for Cody's afghan. It's a tough pattern. Cool though. You can see it here.

Instead I redid the same 5 chains on the 3rd row of the 1st too many times. We decided a trip to my friend's ranch was in order.

We like to go to her ranch. She tries to show me how to crochet. (and often does a lot of it herself!). The boys run around blowing things up. It's perfect!

Actually? We visit this ranch about once a week. Austen has decided NOT to go kayaking in Canada this summer. Mostly..because he didn't want his mom tagging along. Yes..I was fired from my son's summer trip. Instead he is spending a month surviving.

The day after his 17th birthday, we are dropping him off at this ranch. He has agreed to call my friend once every morning and evening. If he does not check in..they will search for him. He can start fires, catch and cook small wild-life (remember..the snake?), plant and eat veggies, etc. He knows where to find clean water, etc. What scares me? Mountain lions. But this is something he really feels he needs to do. So we let him go.

I know..from kayaking in Canada to survival in the Texas Hills seems completely incompatible. Big B and I agreed to send him to Autrailia, New Zealand and Fiji  if he holds off on international travel for another year. He can go with People to People. We are comfortable with this organization..and more importantly? He won't have to bring his mom. But it is he will have to wait.

The laundry? Still everywhere. I must get rid of some clothes.

Pack-n-play? Still set up filled with (gasp) laundry!

My own studies? about started one assignment out of 4.

But..I insisted we, you know, studied earlier this week. So we did.

Hamlet and  more essay writing (Cody decided to add another college to his list) We spend a day studying economics and perusing a local college library for resources on various research papers. Devin is writing on the history of computer gaming, Austen on zombie lore. Cody..was writing on the loan industry..but changed his mind. He is still deciding.

..and me? I must choose a church leader from the last 50-60 years to write a paper on. It's for my ethics class. I chose Archbishop Helden Camara. Because I love to quote him "When I feed the poor, they call me a saint, but when I ask why the poor are hungry, they call me a communist."

I mean really. How can you not love that?!

So today is the day we head to the ranch...and I am going to have to tell them ..uhmm..oops?

 Oh yikes..the boys are going to kill me..I need to spend the afternoon at a local non-profit. A nice mentor has taken me under her wing to teach me business know..for future reference. We had planned to meet for an hour later this afternoon. Now? It has turned into 4 so I can attend a webinar on quick-books and stuff.

Hmm..maybe if I wake the boys now..we can squeeze in a couple of hours of play...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Sexy Mom!

Yup..that's me.

At least according to the facebook quiz guru from "What kind of Mom are You?"

My quiz results come with a picture of a half naked girl leaning on a car and everything. Which, by the way, I really don't get. I've never equated naked with sexy. I mean really. A tender act...a flirty assertive (not aggressive) gesture..these things..I may find occasionally sexy. But nakedness?

Okay, picture of girl and car or not? I'll take the quiz results. Why? Because it is coolio.

I expected to get, you know.."soccer mom", "neurotic mom", "kool aid mom" but nope. Sexy. ..and the best part is. I can horrify my children.

I mean let's face it...this is the family that says things at dinner like Mom...(total exasperation in voice) you are sounding like a GIRL!! (This is usually when I am trying to explain how to be nice to someone..or something along those lines)  I often respond to this  passing commentary with Hello! I hate to burst your bubble..but I AM A are my child..I gave birth to you and everything...that's how that works.

This usually involves laughter from my brilliant boys because the thought of mom as any gender is just amusingly ridiculous. Then, inevitably..the boys look to Big B for affirmation that I am not saying I am from mars or something. He usually responds with a surprised look..and's true..your mom really is a girl. And dinner continues.

  According to the facebook quiz? .I am sexy because, among other things, I take control of a situation in a cool and calm manner. Yes..I had to laugh, too.

So we have been cooly and calmly crazy-busy. Not hectic-like busy. Just getting stuff done, busy. Because this is our "off" week as far as studying goes. So it's a now or another 3 weeks from now kind-of thing.

The past few days have been spent creating and sending transcripts, gathering letters of recommendation, creating course descriptions and school profile, etc. for that Cody kid.

Here he is at The Cove..some time this summer, with girl-friend Ellie. (who just had an amazing piano recital)
Ellie and her family are also going through that pre-college craziness. And craziness really is what it is!

When Brian applied to schools we did not have to provide a mass amount of extra paper-work or have higher expectations as home-schoolers. Cody? He's applying to different schools.

So...I kid you not..he has to score 6 points higher on the ACT to get into his numero uno school of choice (University of Houston's Bauer School of Business) than his public-schooled peers. 6..and that's just to be considered. I mean..I'm all for accountability and all that..but really?On a scale of 1-35..with the mid 20's being the lower end of the scale (for the traditionally schooled kids) .6+points!

For his numero dos choice ..which seems to quickly be moving to numero uno (Kettering University) we simply needed to summarize and list resources for every single one of his English, Math and Science courses during his high-school years-as well as create a home-school profile. This was more time-consuming..but it made sense.

His numero tres choice at this time (Schreiner U) ...treats him like everyone else. He's good to go, if he so desires.

Also? I just finished another day of SAM (or Parish Ministry in Training Program) classes. The SAM program is a three year program designed to train and certify synodically authorized lay ministers to serve in the Southwest Texas Synod of the E.L.C.A.(the Lutherans).

See? I'm studying hard.

Actually? Our class is meeting at St. John's Lutheran in Robstown this semester. My dad had rented a condo at the beach (30 minutes away) for my mom's birthday. So..lucky us. Austen and I hung out with my family on Padre Island.

Austen played in the water  and hung out with my nephew. We (the 15 SAM students in our rag-tag group) studied the artisan's uprisal led by Demitrius (Acts), spent a few hours discussing church administration and best of all worship! We reviewed the seasons of the church year..had way too much fun mimicking Herod.  We practiced presiding over communion. was SO MUCH FUN!! I like worship me a worship geek. Actually? Call me whatever you want.. doesn't matter.

Because according to facebook..

I'm a sexy mom!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Welcome to House Lived-In

  (Sigh..Grin) Well..I'm not in Oakland anymore! Lot's of quick reality breaks in the past week. But glad to be home  nonetheless. I am extending an invite to all my Mills friends (and old St. Anthony's crew or out-of town family) to come visit!!!  You might be surprised at what Hill Country Texas has to offer. So, just in case you are interested..I invite you on a tour of house lived in.

This is the last paved road outside of my subdivision. Occasionally, you may have to wait for traffic.

 Once you enter our home you will be greeted by Dino.Dino is our official greeter/shoe guarder. There will ALWAYS be a pile of shoes.Feel free to kick yours off and come on in.

More than likely, you will next be greeted by the dreaded boy. Austen will greet you in our living room. He will share his latest talent (this week it is guitar drumming) and tell you his latest tale. Here he is regaling us with tales of a recent snake chasing, skinning, cooking over a campfire and finally snake- tasting adventure. Ooh. Gross! 
  We are not picturing Cody because he will be ghost-like. He will enter the room. Say hello. Share some dry humor..and vanish as quickly as he came.

If you take 5 steps through our living room (possibly over a circle of children playing Quelf) you will enter our dining room. is frequently surrounded by a ridiculous amount of chairs. You  too, may join us around a crowded dining room table. We will offer you a beverage of choice (lemonade, or cold, water, beer or wine) Unless it is nice weather and the mosquitoes are on vacation. Then? We will move this dining experience to the back deck.

If you veer to the left you will be in our kitchen. This is where it all happens. Conversations, spills, wine pouring, more conversation. There is not usually a table in the kitchen..that was temporary to hold presents for a baby shower. At the far end of the kitchen is Levi's corner/toy room/music room/laundry room. It is the second most used room in the house.
 But don't expect to find Levi there unless he is wide awake. Otherwise..someone will be wearing him or he will be sleeping here. In our bed. Our bed has mysterious sleeping powers. Children between the ages of birth-18 often find there way to it. The older boys say it is because Big B and I hoard all the good blankets. Could be.

Not to worry. If you choose to visit..we have pull out couches, boys bedrooms and a tree-house in which you may crash. .

And best of all?

The great outdoors. (Not pictured here) Complete with 4 wheelers, tree-house, chickens, deer, garden sort- of, a river(complete with tubes shallow/deep areas and rope swings), a camp-fire, trampoline and a deck to just enjoy the view from...and sporadic hole-digging under the deck.

Okay. Crying baby and need to get the rest of these Texas boys and friends moving to study some econ.

Hope to see you soon!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Goofiness of Home Life

Ii is going to be another goofy day, here on the home front.

I'll take goofy. Goofy is good. Especially when you are sleep deprived.

..and I am definitely sleep deprived. To be expected in a house with two teens and an infant.

Last night, Levi had a little pee-party (not to be confused with tea party) in our bed. 3a.m..I am bathing him..and changing clothes..and..sheets...well, you get the picture.

Big B? He slept through the whole thing. (Even while changing sheets!)

So it was no surprise that I was a tad punchy at 6 this morning when the little man finally returned to sleep..just as Big B's alarm went off. I realized there was no point in trying to go back to bed...and then? I got the giggles.

I found it amusing that we were lighting the fire-place for the second morning in a row..when we knew the weather would reach the 80's mid-day. But..our heater is broken. (Yes..there is always something broken) it helps take the chill out.

I get the giggles at the ludicrousness of the entire situation. Then..I know..with a cup of coffee in my hand. (I forgot I was holding it)..and you got it. I pour the coffee on my head!  It took me a few seconds to figure out what was pouring down my hair...luckily it was luke-warm. I must have looked absolutely insane.

Big B looks at me and can't stop laughing.God..he says..I sure hope you get some sleep tonight. I picture him in bed as I am trying to change the sheets..and this, too, strikes me as funny.

But I can't get mad. Because..if I were working as much as he has been? I would be dead to the world.'s a nice change Because yesterday I was feeling so whiny. (..and no..I am not losing my mind here)

Actually, ridiculously whiny.

Why? Because I want clear direction as to what I am doing in my life. (I know..who doesn't).

This new desire to know what I'm doing when I grow up started with the grant-writing last week. I really enjoyed it. Weird as that may sound. There is something really cool about grant writing. It's like a puzzle..only with the written word. Which if you are a problem solver who stinks at aesthetics, like a good thing.

Selfishly? I got to hang out in an office. Visit with other adults...listen to other people's kids in distress...and solve a written puzzle.Also? I started day-dreaming about working...and then followed up on the dream by applying for a job. (Hence..leaving the possibility open) Then? Top it off  with a weekend full of love and and laughter with old friends?

Who wants to return to the daily grind.

Monday I received a call from anonymous job. For a variety of reasons, they will be postponing filling this position for several months. Would I please consider reapplying then and working on a contractual basis in the meantime. Instead of being relieved because it is more practical for all of us at home..I find myself a tad disappointed.

I realize later that I am more disappointed for Big B's sake than anything. I mean lets face it..being the sole provider for a family of 5+ is a lot of pressure. I wanted to be able to take off some of the pressure. Otherwise..well..I have waited a long time to have this sort of time with my family. I do enjoy it...even if the family is weird.

..and they are a tad goofy..

Levi is showing me just how goofy we are. As I see more of his own personality developing..I realize that being goofy is such a luxury. 

For instance..he has acquired a fuzzy pink hat. We originally handed it to him as a toy. It vanished for a few weeks and recently resurfaced when I cleaned under my bed. The kiddo LOVES this hat. He wears it as much as possible. How does a 4-5 month old know to put a hat on his head?/ Then..I look at his cousins. Just in the past few weeks Levi has become more and more enamored with Cody and Austen.

Cody...wears a baseball cap often. Austen..a fedora (yes, with dreads and all). So...I suppose it is only natural that Levi would wear a pink fuzzy hat.

Then there is the opera. The boys listen to music in their rooms in the evenings. I usually happen to keep the t.v. on the coffee house station in the mornings. So one morning we accidentally passed the opera channel. There is a beautiful tenor singing..and Levi is attentive. So attentive, that he tries to sing along. Since then, we have turned the t.v. onto the opera station every early a.m. (Still coffee house when we are studying and stuff). He still sings every single time a tenor comes on. Levi is NOT a tenor..but he thinks he is.

The list of goofiness is endless. But what a be able to be oneself in the safety and comfort of home. I embrace it fully.

Now..I am off. The boys are hanging in the living room, writing an obituary for Sherlock Holmes.And then we can put Holmes to rest. (no pun intended) Next week?

Canterbury Tales. Because I am just sure that the 14th Century British version of Saturday Night Live will eliminate all goofiness.

Monday, October 04, 2010

One Human Family

The adventure began in Austin, Texas.

(darn no pics..I'm having uploading issues) partner in crime in numerous exploits...including Odyssey of the Mind, parenting and various ministries....agreed to come with me to the Mills College Reunion in Oakland, Ca.   But when the shuttle dropped us off at the Southwest terminal in Austin....We began to panic.

We tried not too. (panic that is) Really..but wow. We had WAY underestimated the check-in and then there was the security line. The line which was literally snaking all over the airport.

And this is how Rhonda ended up accidentally (and it really was an accident) trying to bribe TSA so we could catch our flight. I won't go into too much detail here..but let's just say..that instead of being body searched and put on a no flight list..we luckily passed through security and made our flight in time.

Lucky us!

..and then the fun really began!

Laura picks us up at the airport. Actually, Laura picked us all up at airports and B.A.R.T. stations. Thank you  Laura.We enjoy catching up throughout the day. Later we pick up Mitra and Lisa. Christy will meet us at the hotel later.

We decide to wine and dine at Ceasar's ..or is it Cezar's?Over mojitos and something to eat (wow..I don't remember what we ate!). We talk. We catch up on family, jobs, relationships past and present. We discuss chickens, nurolinguistic programing and the quickly fading understanding of political discourse along bi-partisan lines. Essentially? We enjoy our inner geekiness in the company of old friends. refreshing.

The next morning (Saturday) we meet the rest of the motley crew at the alumnae house on campus. Where we eat, robe-up (for convocation) and schlep ourselves over to the concert hall. Still visiting. Now? We reminisce on strike stuff.

Delores Huerta is the convocation speaker. How awesome is that?! I hope, one day, to be as vibrant and effective with social justice as she is. She reminds us (after touching on various race, class and gender issues) that we are one human family. That it is our responsibility to provide compassionate justice and to defend our fellow human family members. I think she pretty much summed it all up with that.

Convocation ends with the women from this year's graduating class (2011) leading in the singing of the Mills traditional "Fires of Wisdom" . My peers and I realized we did not remember how to sing the tune..or most of the words.I am glad to know I was not the only slacker in the group. But we DID try.

The rest of our time is spent visiting the campus and then going out in the evening.

This time to Mua's. There are nine of us. Laura, Mitra, Lisa, Rhonda and myself are joined by Anissa, Leslie, Kim and Christy. We are almost all from Reinhardt turned into a Center for Public Policy . (i old bedroom? Now a classroom)We continue discussions from the day before..and add to our conversations memories from our years at Mills. Topping the list being skinny dipping, "borrowing" a car, a sea-monkey funeral and talking muffins. Geez I've missed these guys!

Rhonda and I cut out of the weekend early to return to Texas for a morning in a local mens prison.

At the prison we worship, commune, sing and pray with fellow brothers-in-white.

Our luxury of chocolate covered strawberries and champagne has quickly ended..and here we are eating prison food. The inmates remind us not to eat the meat. I eat sweet potatoes and a slice of bread.

After lunch I join Jack (Rhonda's husband) in a classroom with 22 brothers in white rehearsing. The English choir and the band. (Spanish choir is the next group) They are rehearsing for an upcoming Kairos weekend, as well as an upcoming graduation. I am struck by the lyrics of the song they have written for this GED graduation. proud of me.

Wow. If that's not telling. I don't know what is.

Less than 24 hours before I was in a small auditorium of women in a fairly elitist setting fumbling through words to "fires of wisdom". A setting where we encouraged each other..just for being. Now? I was in a class of grown men (a mix of former Bloods, Krytps, Aryan Brothers...) joining together to celebrate a GED graduation of their peers...singing " proud of me."

..and I remember the words of Delores Huerta. We are all one human family.

She is absolutely right.

Both of these communities represent extremes in our society. Yet they are much the same.

Both communites revolve around relationships formed.. We laugh, we cry...we bend the law. (I mean let's face-it. Skinny dipping and security car "borrowing"? If those things happen off campus they might be construed as indecent exposure and car theft!) Charming, eh? We play jokes. We sing. We dance. My brothers in Mills sisters..and everyone in between. We have everything different in common.

We are a human family.

(still darn no pics..still having uploading issues)