Friday, April 20, 2012

RAOK #39 - You're never done.

I LOVE laundry . . .

NOT.  Actually, I deplore laundry... it is the most unpleasant chore that I have to do and the worst thing about it is YOU ARE NEVER DONE unless you do your last load naked.  It's the most unfulfilling perpetual household task.  Ever.

I even have one of those mamma-jamma washer and dryers too, which you would think would make it less painful. Not a chance.

Last year a sad sad day came . . . my washer broke.  I don't know about your house, but at my house with four kids, if you have a broken washer for any length of time then laundry will soon be spilling from every orifice of your home.  The repair people were booked, so I had to go almost two weeks with a broken washer.  This is just NOT acceptable.

So . . . we schlocked laundry to the laundromat.  Not something I've done much of in the last 25 or so years.

I did this in college a lot.  No one has a washer and dryer in their dorm room, of course, so as soon as the students run out of clean underwear, they are at the laundromat.  In my case, my boyfriend, best friend, and I went to the laundromat every Friday night.  We never ran out of underwear.  Obviously, we were not very exciting.  On Friday nights, almost every other college student was either on a date or out partying and therefore the laundromat was deserted and there were plenty of washers.  We were the good kids, can you tell?  At least there aren't embarrassing pictures out there of me doing stupid things in college that could ruin any future political career on which I might decided to embark.  Also, my kids cannot justify any ill-advised behavior by using the excuse "Well YOU did it".  I'll be happy if they follow my example by spending their Friday nights in college at the laundromat.

The adult foray to the laundromat was just annoying.  What a waste of time to sit around there literally watching clothes dry, thinking of all the things you could be getting done while washing clothes at home, being bugged by the preschooler for sugar drinks and a plethora of candy from the many machines there, and listening to the teenagers gripe about why they had to waste a Saturday at the laundromat.  Uh, because your teenage sister put an earring in the washer again and it ripped the rubber boot and now we don't have a washer that works.  Go complain to her.

Now, I don't know about any of that stuff I just wrote about from personal experience. You thought that I went to the laundromat?    Ha!  I missed all that fun because the husband went with the kids instead of me to save my back from lifting.  I'm married to a great guy aren't I? No, you cannot have him . . .he is ALL mine!

RAOK #39 is for the college students, broken washer people and washerless people.  I made a special trip to the laundromat, went to a machine, filled it with quarters and put one of my little cards on there.  Let us observe a moment of silence please in respect for all of the people who have to schlock laundry to the laundromat to do a task that is yucky even at home.

Thank you.  Thank you very much.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Touching Base...

I'm in the middle of a weekend celebration honoring my mom's 70th birthday!  So fun and we're having a blast, eventually I will put up some pictures of all the crazy decorating I did.  But I'm getting some complaints that I haven't posted anything in a few days and some of you are disappointed which makes me happy.  Yeah, that's messed up, isn't it?

I like it that you miss me when I don't write every day!!  Thanks for caring and thanks for liking me.

Anyway, welcome to some new readers also.  I linked up my Spring Subway Art (here) to some craft blogspots that I read and I've had all kinds of people bouncing over from other blogs to check it out and hopefully print it to decorate their homes and doors.  Very sweet, thank you new people!

Stay tuned for some posts coming up detailing the rest of my RAOKS for my birthday and then I am doing a giveaway at the end of the birthday RAOKS . . . you won't want to miss it, it will be fun!!

Until I get a minute break from partying with my mom and sissy and family . . .TTFN! (For those of you who don't speak "Tigger" language from Winnie the Pooh . . . that's Ta-Ta-For-Now!)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

RAOK #38 - Spring Subway Art

I'm cheating just a tiny bit.  Just a teensy tiny bit.  I've been posting my Random Acts of Kindness that I performed for my birthday mission - 46 in all to match my 46th birthday.  My last post was RAOK #37 and I have nine more about which to write.

However . . . I've wanted to update my front door wreath with some Spring Subway Art and I just couldn't find anything that I liked.  So, I made my own!! And I have some wonderful new friends that are following me from Pinterest and I just know that they will like this artwork.  The only problem is that in order for someone to "Pin" something, it has to be posted on a blog or website.   

RAOK #38 is for my Pinterest followers and anyone else who would like a fun colorful Spring decoration.  It is NOT one of the original 46 RAOKS, so I will actually post 47 RAOKs for you so you can see all the originals.

Do you even care about this numbering thing?

In case you aren't a Pinterest user, I highly recommend you do NOT start using Pinterest . . .because if you are like me, you will love it and it will be one more thing that you end up wasting time on your computer.  But, I have to say I really have referred back to it several times and purchased, cooked, and crafted ideas that I have gleaned from there. It is actually quite fun and very addictive.

As a bow to Pinterest, here is my Spring Subway Art.  Right click on it and "save as" a picture (to a file you can find later).  Then go to the file and print it out as an 8x10 photo.  It was built as an 8x10 so it should print out well.  It should fit lovely right into a beautiful white frame that you can then display on a mantle or put inside a wreath, which is what I did.  Note this is for personal use only and please Pin back to my page and my original artwork.

Monday, April 9, 2012

RAOK #37 - Why do my kids think they can operate a crane?

One thing that is neat about having kids around is that they haven't been tainted much by disappointment.  They think they can do anything because, so far, life hasn't kicked them in the tush much and beaten them down yet (you know, like all of us adults!).   While the rest of us are hanging up motivational sayings in our offices, reading books about how to get over our latest hang-up, tagging inspiring words on FB and pinning them on Pinterest, the kids are just going out and trying stuff and thinking they can.

Ignorance is bliss sometimes, isn't it?

I think I could do with a little more "getting out there and trying it" versus "sitting around here and trying to motivate myself".  How about you?

Anyway, you know those silly crane machines where you drop down the hook and are rewarded with a stuffed animal when you pick it up? (You know... like in Toy Story).  Those really look like fun to the kids, except for the part where you never can actually hook anything so it is a waste of money.  Of course, the kids don't know that part of it.  Somehow they think that they have magically developed the skill of a crane operator or of the character "Tank" played by James Garner in the movie Space Cowboys. Remember the part where he operated the crane and won himself a toy?  Yeah, well he was trained by NASA, kids!

With four kids of various ages, I've been plagued for about 14 or so consecutive years with children intermittently wanting to play with those machines at the front of the store, the fair, a carnival, or wherever else they are placed to inconvenience parents and try to part us from more of our money.   Of course since I say "no" all the time, they get the hint and quit asking for the most part. 

I've tried explaining what "the odds" are, and what that means anyway.  Pointless, especially to the under 16 set who aren't working yet.  Vegas analogy?  No good for a 5 year old.   Hey little sweetie, when you are putting money on the roulette wheel, there is only a 1 in 38 probability that you are going to win against "the house".  Isn't it obvious if they can afford a humonguous building that they are making way more money than the people who are gambling and therefore gambling and operating this crane are both a big waste of money?  Mom, what is roulette, probability, and why are you calling a humonguous building a house?  I've never seen a "house" that big.  And what do you mean we don't have "money" for that? Just go get more from that little machine at the drive-thru.


RAOK #37 was for the poor tired mom or dad who had to drag the little one to the store with them and the kid saw the "crane" machine.  I taped some money on it so the parent could just, for once, not have an argument about why the crane machine is a waste of money.

And if the kid actually operated the crane, won a prize and beat the house?  More power to him!

Friday, April 6, 2012

RAOK #36 - Someday I won't need these . . .

So far, these organs have served me well.  For you squeamish people, I didn't put a real heart picture up there because I couldn't find one that wasn't graphic.  You're welcome.

I used to really struggle with my mortality and the fact that someday I am going to die.  I'm still not terrifically fond of the idea of course and I'm hoping it doesn't happen anytime soon, especially before my 5 year old hits adulthood.  But what makes my heart quiet and my soul rest is the fact that I know what is happening to me after I die.  Not EXACTLY of course, I think God has a sense of humor and doesn't want to ruin the surprise by giving us too many details of the awe-inspiring events.  I do love surprises.

It seems a perfect day to post my RAOK, which I will discuss in a minute, because today is Good Friday.  However, in the wake of the Easter bunny and Cadbury eggs *love*, the true meaning of this weekend has been lost.  I've tried not to make my blog "preachy" because my husband used to be an atheist (he's now a die-hard Christian) and he says the "hit me over the head hard with the bible and 'religion' " approach always turned him off.  It was my soft way of discussing my thoughts and beliefs with him, non-judgmentally, that actually made him curious about Christianity and started him on a path that he's walking on now.  It has to be each man or woman's individual choice and I'm not trying to cram mine down your throat.

However, I didn't want to let Easter pass without sharing the "good news".  Jesus is real . . he walked this earth as a man . . . he was perfect and sinless and he willing went through terrible pain and separation from God his father in order that you and I might have our own sins and shortcomings forgiven and forgotten.  He rose in 3 days from the dead.  Scoff if you want to, but I know in my soul that it is true.  I've felt Him, I've connected, I'm His, and I know what is happening to my soul someday when I die. 

As far as my body, well, I'm not going to need it where I'm going.  So RAOK #36 was my act of becoming an organ donor.  I've always wanted to but I have now informed my family officially and sent a directive to my attorney (Hi, Troy!) to put a letter in my file with my will.  He did inform me that I should go to the donor registry in my state to make it "official".

I think the act of giving life to people who are ill with no hope of recovery has to be the greatest act of kindness there can be to them and their family.  So assuming I don't die of some stupid disease that destroys my organs, they will go to several desperate people who need a second chance and will hopefully use that second chance to carry on the RAOK.

Think about it . . donating. . . .your organs to humanity and your soul to Jesus.  I know it will change your life, and probably someone else's too. 

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

RAOK #35 - Please shut up. I have a kidney stone.

I don't have one right now!  (And I am not normally fond of the words "shut up").  But in my lifetime, I've had several.  I've also gone through labor to bear children and I can't decide which pain is worse - at least when you go through labor you get something at the end of it!  It's sort of ironic that the pain of bearing an 8 lb child is about the same pain as pushing a stone smaller than a BB through your renal system. 

I digress.

One of the things about having a kidney stone is that there is no relief from the pain except for those amazing drugs they drip through the IV when you finally get attended to at the ER.  It doesn't matter how you sit, stand, or lie down, the pain is ever present. This can make you physically sick but it definitely makes you EDGY.  Any noise is like a clanging cymbal, and light bears into the back of your eyes right through your brain to create a spectacular headache to go along with your generally miserable disposition.  Of course, since kidney stones are not life-threatening and car accidents or profuse bleeding are, you oftentimes find yourself waiting for hours at the ER while they take the cases that are more urgent. 

Point being, you are sitting in the ER and it seems that inevitably there is some poor soul who is also there but they had to bring their kids along with them.  Or perhaps the kid is the one who is ill.  Either way, as you sit there in excruciating pain with a horrible headache and trying not to vomit, the kids are screaming, fussing and generally creating all kinds of havoc because they are bored. 

On any regular day, I have an AMAZING tolerance for noise with my four kids and all their friends.  Sometimes there will be other adults over and they will comment "Doesn't all this noise drive you crazy?"  Nope.  I have a finely-tuned and much developed skill set for totally ignoring it.  I honestly have had 20+ teenagers here at one time and I wasn't one bit fazed or frazzled.  Cool, huh?

However, the one exception is this kidney stone ER visit thing.  When I am feeling that bad, I can't stand the noise. 

So RAOK #35 was borne out of the memory of the desperation of those times!  It was designed to provide relief for both the ER patients in the waiting room as well as the parent who is sick or desperately trying to entertain their little ones.  I created several "activity boxes" with a variety of fun and safe items (that I mostly picked up for way cheap at Party City and the Dollar Store).
Cars, crayons, activity books, little puzzles, Rubik's cubes, and some fun toy animals

I bought some cheap plastic shoe boxes and created a label for the boxes, then assembled and delivered them to my local ER:

Cute girls at the ER admissions desk!
They seemed excited to have them but the only bummer of the day is when they told me that they would not be comfortable "re-using" the boxes because of the spread of germs and no one to sanitize the items.  So instead of having boxes that can be enjoyed over and over, I provided them with five boxes that will just be given to a child in need, which is still a good thing.

In retrospect, I might just make some of these boxes and store them somewhere here at home to grab on my way to my next ER visit.  That way I can give it directly to the little noisy buggers myself!  (Just kidding... kind of).

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

RAOK #34 - Guatemalan Goodness

Little concrete block church in Olintepeque, Guatemala
Last summer, the hubs and the oldest daughter embarked on a life-changing adventure when they went on a mission trip to Guatemala with 10 other people.  They worked at that cute little church shown above.  It was the first such trip for either one of them and I admit I was jealous that they got to go!  Someone had to stay behind with the other youths and since it was the first time to go to a totally different country, we agreed it was better for big daddy to go. So I was the designated parent at home.  Next time....!

I could go into so many details about that trip and everything they experienced and felt, but then this post would get way too long and I might lose my point along the way of what my RAOK was.  Suffice it to say two things:  The daughter came back and that Sunday after church she updated her Facebook status and said "It's kind of funny how I sat in a nice big air conditioned church this morning and the only place I wanted to be was a small dusty one where I could barely understand a word being said. God has definitely moved this past week."

The second thing that both of them said was that we Americans "feel sorry" that people in other countries do not always experience the same wealth and amenities that we do.  But, when they got down there they realized that the joke is really on us . . . because those people REALLY KNOW what it is like to depend on God for everything.  We don't seek Him as much because we are more financially self-sufficient, but they truly understand what it is like to be blessed because they rely on Him for everything.  Very thought provoking, eh??

Let me tell you about RAOK #34 and then I'm going to share some neat pictures.  One of the necessary items for our group to have was an interpreter.  The only one in the group who spoke much Spanish was my daughter who went through a language immersion program for five years and also has three years of high school Spanish behind her.  But learning the language here and speaking it there are two different things!  So the liaison from Guatemala arranged for a couple of interpreters for the group.  Isaac and Raquel were the two interpreters and my family grew to love both of them while they were there.  Raquel has never been to the United States and it is her dream to come here one day. So . . . RAOK #34 was my sending a letter to Guatemala to her with our desire to sponsor her visa to come here sometime this year.  She is SSOOOO excited and we are too.  We can't wait for her to come and stay with us and learn all about our culture here.

They took many hundreds of pictures but I'm just going to post a few to give you a taste of what they experienced:
Make-shift medical clinic staffed by our team.  Not surprisingly, the #1 complaint? Stomach issues!

A make-shift dental clinic was staffed by a dentist on our team and his wife. Because there is little or no dental care available, they pulled hundreds of teeth.  This is where my daughter spent the majority of her time working and my husband handed out toothbrushes and taught scores of children to brush their teeth!

Here is some of our construction crew.  With just a few people and in a short amount of time, they built a retaining wall for the church and also installed a ceiling with working electrical lights.

People came by the hundreds and waited for free medical and dental care that they either do not have access to or cannot afford.

Unbelievably, the local fire department had neither a defibrillator nor training on CPR techniques.  Our medical guy arranged for the donation of the defibrillator here in the U.S. and then provided life-saving training.

A few members of the team were responsible for providing entertainment for the children and making them more comfortable with these "strange" Americans.  This was especially important for those who would later have a scary dental or medical procedure.  My daughter told a funny story that one of the little girls with wide brown eyes kept taking her finger and swiping it over my daughter's skin.  She finally realized that the little girl had never seen freckles in her whole life!

The husband is shown here with the widow of the original pastor of the church (in front) and family.  At the Sunday service she told the congregation that she could "die in peace" knowing that her church was finally going to be completed and a ceiling installed - the answer to her prayers of many years.  On another note, the hubs LOVES little kids - check out that adorable little baby hand on his face.  If I wasn't, like,100 years old in baby-making years, we'd probably have more.  I think he was ready to swipe one of those beautiful Guatemalan babies and bring one home to me though :)

As you can see, he looks gargantuan next to the Guatemalans who tend to be smaller in stature than we.  During the trip, many men and women alike made comments about how big he is as he TOWERED over everyone there!

YES, they REALLY DO carry things around on their heads!  I wonder if they ever get a headache?

Some members of our team are shown here at the little church that came to mean so much to them.

Monday, April 2, 2012


Did you miss me?  I just returned from a deliciously long four-day weekend at a cabin retreat in the hills.  The kiddos had Spring Break and this year we decided to go somewhere close and do something relaxing versus something touristy.

Here's the view from the Cracker Barrel rocker on the back porch:

Unedited photo from my camera. Have I mentioned I love my camera?

There are some of my favorite people in the  WHOLE WIDE WORLD.

And here's the view OF the back porch:

Delightful!  The weather was my perfect weather - sunny, high 60's, and pouring down rain at night.  You could smell it in the air and hear it on the roof.  With all those trees there, the air was so pure and clear and cool.  One deep breath and you could just feel the tension and stress melt away.

The vacation consisted of sleeping in, reading, napping, doing crafts, hiking, coffee, rocking, napping, sitting by a fire, eating, fishing (son and dad), napping, hot tubbing  and watching movies (Kids only. Hubs and I were not interested in watching TV).  Did you get the emphasis on napping?  Two different days I found myself falling asleep in the wing back chair by the open window, even with the noise of the kids in the forefront.  All I needed was some support hose and grey hair to complete the picture of an old granny falling asleep in the middle of a family gathering.  It was great! I'm practicing for 25 years from now.

This morning I woke up feeling so rested and ready for my week and I was reflecting over my morning coffee and devotions about how much I seek peacefulness in my life and how our weekend was the perfect example of it.  The hubs and I are peaceful pretty much all of the time together.  My kids and their friends were such a delight to be around with very little conflict or bickering and they all pitched-in at the end to clean up the cabin with absolutely no complaints.  It was wonderful.  The older I get, the less tolerance I have for unnecessary drama of any kind and I actually have found a certain level of disdain for people who seek it.

I really don't get it.  I know adults in their 30s,40s, 50s and beyond who constantly seem to be in an upset about something or with somebody.  They get bent out of shape over the smallest of things, waging a grudge against the slightest wrong, and seem hellbent on their latest vendetta.  I say "Get over yourself already."

I saw a quote once that said "Life is not a dress rehearsal." * and that is the heart of what I was feeling this morning.  This is my one life I'm going to have and I don't want to waste one minute of it not being as peaceful as I can.  I want to let those slight injustices just roll off my back, give grace and have mercy upon people around me, and truly be an example to my children and others of what it means to live a life as free of unnecessary drama as possible.

It doesn't mean that I'm not ever going to be righteously indignant over something, or that I am not going to stand up for what is right in the face of something that is wrong even if it creates conflict.  Sometimes there is necessary conflict and you deal with it.  But as for the petty junk that some people seem to thrive on, that's not going to be me.

*Upon investigation, it appears that the "Life is not a dress rehearsal" quote came from Rose Tremain, a British author.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

RAOK #33 - Picture this...with your tongue out.

I'm going to be in SO MUCH trouble when this post goes up!  Ah, what the heck though right? My family is so adorable... and sort of .. weird.  In a good way though.  If that's possible.  Anyway, they seem to have a thing for sticking out their tongues or making goofy faces when I take their pictures.  They're going up on the www with their tongues out and I say that serves them right for always being annoyed that I want to take their picture.

Despite their annoyance and reluctance, I know that someday they will be thankful that I was that freak-o mom who always had a camera with her.  I am already glad!  When I have gone to scrapbook all these moments we had together, I am SO aware of how much I would have forgotten if I hadn't captured it on film (first) or digitally.

Pretty much everyone has a camera these days. (Admit it, even if you don't carry a camera you probably have one on your phone!).  HOWEVER, what I have found to be true is that hardly anyone ever sends their pictures off to the relatives so they can enjoy them too.  Poor grandma and grandpa!

RAOK #33 is something I did for a family member and you can easily do too.  It will really add to the quality of life for your poor loved ones who never get to see pictures of your kids sticking out their tongues!  (Oh, sorry.  That was just me, wasn't it?)

Load those digital pictures up to an online site like Walgreens or Walmart then do a search for the zip code of your loved one.  Find the nearest location, then put grandma's name and address on the order.  You can be really nice and pay for it with a credit card but you don't have to.  Unless it is a huge order, they can pay for it when they pick it up!  It's sssssssoooooooo super easy and I can't tell you how happy it makes the grandparents to get new pictures of their grandkids to carry around and hang up.

Last note and I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH!!! PPPPPPuuuhhhhLEASE... back up your pictures!  That means your iPhone, your digital camera, and your memory cards.  I know heartbreaking stories of people who lost all the baby pictures they took when their iPhone crashed, someone who lost a camera that had 6 months worth of photos on the memory card, and another person who lost the memory card itself (those things are so tiny!).  Take a minute RIGHT NOW AND GO DO IT.  And don't tell me you don't have time, you have time for Facebook and you're reading my dang blog right now!  So get off here (come back later though, ok?) and go back up your pictures.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

RAOK #32 - Pizza for Patriots

I usually try to come up with some clever post title to entice you to come read my blog.  Today, I didn't have to because the blog post name is the company name!

While scanning the www for ideas for my RAOK mission, I ran across a company called Pizzas for Patriots.  I think everyone agrees that those in the military are our heroes as they make sacrifices daily that the rest of us really don't.  If they are deployed, many times they are barely afforded any basic comforts like sleeping in a delightful Tempur-pedic bed (every single night when I nestle in my bed under the covers I groan and say "I love my bed, I love my bed, I love my bed."  I am always so happy to see it!).   They may not get hot showers, they may be in miserably hot or cold conditions.... we all know the drill and we think about it and are thankful for all they do for our country.

What I never thought about though was how lonely it must get for them longing for the familiar comforts of home. . .  like pizza.

I'm not a pizza nut like my kids are, but if I haven't had a piece in a few weeks, I'll start wanting one.  Some of these guys and gals haven't had a real piece of pizza in MONTHS. . . and there are plenty of other foods that they enjoy at home that they are not getting in Iraq and Afghanistan for sure!

Pizza for Patriots is run by a retired military man and his wife.  They work with several pizza providers and arranged for DHL to tranport these pizzas to deployment areas like Afghanistan.  What a super great idea!!  I'm not sure how the pizza tastes after it goes from here to there, but I myself always like pizza better the second day anyway and I bet those guys don't care!!

You can make an online donation for any amount to help provide pizza for patriots, which I did for RAOK #32.  Someone somewhere far away will be enjoying a piece of pizza with my name on it (figuratively of course)!  And the next time I eat pizza, I will remember to pray for the guy/gal who ate my pizza and say a thank you for them and the sacrifices they have made!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

RAOK #31 - Rx for Wellness

In a lot of ways, I think I'm a pretty good mom.  But I think all parents are plagued about the things we know we need to do better.  Hopefully we take steps to fix those areas that need improvement.

One of the ways that I have been less-than-successful is when it comes to taking medicine or administering it.  I really want to be on top of that kid needing the antibiotic three. friggin'. times. a. day. for one thousand years  fourteen days. But for some reason I am not as good as I need to be about it.  My mom says that I legitimately have too much going on to remember everything (which is why my family calendar is online, color-coded, updated daily, and looked at about 10 times a day).  I'm obsessed with my calendar, and I don't forget or miss much when it comes to things we need to do or places we need to be.  The Rx, however, is a different matter.

A few months ago, in the throes of winter and all six of us taking turns getting sick for weeks on end, the lightbulb finally went on and I developed a chart for the refrigerator.  We all get into the fridge multiple times a day and it is hard not to notice the 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper staring me in the face.  I have finally developed something that makes me more successful in this area, and also eliminates confusion between me and the hubs when we are both doing the medicine man routine.

In my birthday post, I mentioned the preschooler was home sick the whole week.  I ran out the chart and posted it, but then realized I can't be the only one who stinks at this, right?  (Right??)  So I developed a generic chart for all you peeps who take meds and forget them or are parents who are struggling with it.  RAOK #31 was done the week of my birthday but I'm just getting around to posting it.

Here is a sample of the completed chart:

 Note there is room to write the day and date, and three sections for meds: 2x daily meds, 3x daily meds, and the pesky "alternate Tylenol and Motrin every three hours for a fever" section that EVERY parent surely needs!  Who can remember at 2am whether the last time out of 20 you gave Tylenol or Motrin?   This chart helps you track the time and the type so you never have to guess again or scramble for a piece of scrap paper to write it.  You wouldn't want to accidentally write it on the letter stating you won $5 million in the Publisher's Clearing House, now would you??

Here is the printable version.  If you can't get it to work properly, email me at justina {at} soarr dot com (it is spelled out so spam crawlers cannot grab my email and start sending me junk.  If you use it, type it in the way you normally would with the asterick and period etc.To your good health (and your kids'!!)

Friday, March 23, 2012

RAOK #30 - College cutie care

This cute guy is not my son.  But I sort of feel like he's my son.  Because he's the son of one of my BFFs and his sister is one of my daughter's BFFs.  Confused much yet?

Jr. is one of those teenagers to whom I was referring in one of my earlier posts (here).  He's one of those young men that restores your faith in the future.  Not only is he totally nice but he's a responsible student, good citizen, and a Christian who lives out the faith.  He was co-valedictorian of his graduating class last year.  If you ask him who his best friend is, he will tell you without shame that his best friend is his dad.

The last two years, he was my life-saver. Every morning my daughter had to be transported to her private school a few miles down the road.  When the hubs traveled, that meant that I had to wake up the littlest one and drag her out to the car just to get the oldest to school.  It was a huge hassle and usually didn't result in a good start to the morning, especially if I had to take a warm delicious sleeping baby out of her warm delicious comfy bed and carry her out into a snow storm.  Not fun!

So for the days the hubs was gone, I started asking Jr. if he would swing a little out of his way to get my daughter.  He always did it willingly without complaint.  One time, the wires got crossed and he and his sister ended up at the school without my daughter.  He took an unexcused tardy and came back and got her because he's that responsible and didn't want to leave me hanging.  He even bailed us out as recently as his spring break from college a few weeks ago when our car was acting funny and he followed his dad and my daughter back to our house to make sure our new driver was safely home.

Jr. went off to college last fall to pharmacy school.  I'd been thinking about a way to thank him for all he did for me the last two years and I thought a little college care package might just do the trick (RAOK #30).  I remember being in college and looking forward to the letters and care packages from home, it always made me so happy! 

I started by grabbing all the good things I knew he'd love - Oreos, Little Debbie's, Red Bull . . . you know, the staples of a freshman's diet.  Then I brainstormed for other ideas and realized "What am I thinking?  BOYS want food... not magazines and trinkets!"  This stash should last him and his friends... what?.. about a good two days right?

Thanks, Jr., for all you did and I hope you are loving college.

Also, can't end the post without a shout out to his sister, Tia, who is really like one of my own kids!  She's a special young lady too and I didn't want to spark any sibling rivalry with this post... but her care package is waiting in my pantry :)

P.S.  The mom and I are taking resumes for available females for this prize of a guy, but just know the requirements for approval on dating him are more stringent than college admission!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

RAOK #29 - A T-shirt saves the world?

Several weeks ago I stumbled upon an organization called "Sevenly" (  They have capitalized on a very simple and powerful marketing concept - they sell unique, one of a kind T-shirts and hoodies that are only available for one week.  $7 of each purchase goes towards their "cause of the week".

They haven't even been around for a year yet, but they have already raised over $300,000 for their various causes!!  I bought my first shirt several weeks ago ... then another week ... then another week.  I find I'm a bit addicted to them.  They change the cause every Monday at 1:00pm EDT and their causes are incredibly diverse.  The week I did RAOK #29, it was for a domestic violence shelter which touches me because women I am close to from more than one branch of my family have been affected by this and I also personally know some friends that have as well.  They raised $15,239 in one week for Sheltering Wings!

The shirt I bought for domestic violence.
NO, they are not!

CURE Childhood Cancer
This week's cause is for Clean Drinking Water in India.  Children are dying for lack of clean water and the money raised through this week's purchases will be used to drill three wells.

The dudes (and dudettes) at Sevenly have segregated their company's mission down into 7 major categories:  slavery, water, hunger, aid, poverty, medical and disaster.  The twist is that each cause only lasts one week and they only produce t-shirts to fulfill their orders.  Once a T is gone, it is gone.  Every shirt and hoodie is a limited edition design.  The design team is edgy and probably young, and the Tshirt and hoodie quality is dynamite. ... soft, very high quality, and wash well.  This is not your scratchy buy-for-$5-at-discount-store-and-slap-a-logo-on-it kind of shirt!

I highly encourage you to check out  When you get your goods in the mail, their packaging says "WHOA DANG.  Look at you changin' the world and stuff"


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

RAOK #28 - Rock 'n' Roll

There are some defining moments in everyone's life when you know that things are never going to be the same again.  The end of high school, your first love, marriage, children, deaths of family and friends.. . .

And your oldest teenager (your first baby) getting her driver's license and backing out of the driveway without you for the first time.

This momentous occasion happened to me just two short weeks ago. . . right in the same time frame as the depressing diagnosis about my knee pain AND the birthday that threw me closer to 50 than 40.  My mortality has hit me square in the face....

I'm going to go eat some chocolate and I'll get back with you in just a second.

OK, I'm back.  Thank God for Girl Scout Thin Mints, the non-prescription anti-depressant for aging women everywhere.  Hmm, I think I'm onto a marketing strategy here.  I need to contact Girl Scouts USA immediately so they can capitalize on my brilliance.

Anyway, I have to confess that I have not been near as worried or upset about my daughter driving as I ought to be.  This is primarily because almost every single weekday since August 21, I have spent at least 2 1/2 hours in my car - every. stinking. day.  It's a long boring story but our children are not all in the same schools, they have a variety of extracurriculars, youth group, and the annoying "I have a __________ due tomorrow" phenomenon that occurs in American households on a weekly basis. 

Tip for you parents of younger kids?  STOCK UP on posterboard and cake mixes/frosting the next time you see a sale and store it in your house anywhere you can.  I promise, you will thank me at 9pm some night!! And if you don't have eggs? You can substitute 1.5 cups of carbonated beverage for the eggs and oil and still come out with a decent cupcake.  Yeah . . .been there, done that.

My faith in God and the fact that my daughter is an honor student, responsible, and conscientious has a lot to do with my alarming lack of worry.  She really has become a good little driver.  But a lot of it is also due to the fact that I FINALLY HAVE MY LIFE BACK.  (Well, a little bit).  When she pulled out of the driveway to pick up the siblings, the sense of freedom I felt from the prison I call a car was absolutely exhilarating.

Being that I am not a totally bad mom, that brings me to RAOK # 28 - Rock 'n' Roll.  My kids are typical teenagers in the fact that they love to listen to music.  They actually have pretty broad tastes ranging from Christian, pop, and country.  The one thing I noticed about my daughter is that she will change the station when she doesn't like what is on.  What teenager doesn't do this?  My concern, however, is that moment of looking down.  As a new driver, I don't want her doing it!  So, I went through iTunes and created a playlist for the teens that I knew they would love and I burned a CD for them.  This keeps them happy with music, and it keeps Mama happy knowing that she won't be running off the road trying to change the radio station.  The kids were very excited about their CD!

It's also a little RAOK for all you locals on the road! :)

P.S. I can't end the "Rock 'n' Roll" post without putting a picture of me and Jon Bon Jovi on here.  Front row seats last year for my birthday.  AMAZING!!

Yes, I took this with my camera!

RAOK #27 - Knight-in-Training

If you have followed my blog from the beginning, it is pretty clear how much I adore my daughters.  I adore the son too but I haven't talked much about him yet, so in the never-ending and pointless quest of every parent to always appear "fair", I wanted to do a RAOK that would be special for him.

First of all, the son is a handsome charmer.  He can tell a story and has never met a stranger.  He's only 14 and is already 6'0" and 210 and obviously as a boy, he's not done growing.  I remember the day I noticed he was eye-level to me. I'd been watching for it to happen and it did, the last day of school 2 years ago.  Since then he has shot up almost 11 inches!  Amazing process, this adolescence thing.  Expensive too - I can't keep the boy in pants that fit!!

Thus far we have found that raising a boy in today's cultural climate is not easy.  Training a boy to be a man in a society that constantly undermines men is tough.  For example, you can hardly watch a TV program without the dad/husband/main male character being portrayed as a fumbling buffoon. 

This is probably not going to win me any points with whatever feminist readers I have, but I believe that the traditional roles work better than this mixed up "anything goes" point of view that our society seems to embrace.  I am not saying that women should not be afforded opportunities or fair pay. If you know me, you would know that it would be totally hypocritical of me to say after being in a successful career for years.

The point is, though, our young men need to be trained and empowered to be leaders of society, of community, and of family.  I believe that the traditional roles of men should be honored and men should be supported in what they do, not belittled.  Young men need to be taught the right way to be men, to be protectors, to be honorable, and to stand up for what is right. . .

So for RAOK #27, I designed a poster and ordered it for his room.  Our son loves history. He loves medieval legends, tales of dragons, King Arthur, the knights, and Civil War stories. He and his dad adore weapons and warfare history of all kinds - swords, daggers, and guns (Don't freak out now. We don't have a mini Waco compound here. However, do know if you break into our home, we are well prepared!!) I did some research on the "Knight's Code" and developed a good list of character qualities from it that we are trying to instill and that I would love my son to possess as a man.  The poster also has a really cool picture of a bad-boy Knight on it that he will love.  We'll frame it and put it in his room over his bed and I know he will read it over and over. 

Hopefully, this and our training will sink in and we'll have ourselves a real live Knight one of these days!!  Young ladies, watch out ;)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

RAOK #26 - MoNsTeR

Monster Energy Drink - legal speed for teenagers everywhere and breakfast for exhausted and overworked moms across the nation! Actually, I prefer coffee in the morning and Sugar Free Red Bull for my afternoon energy boost, but that's just me.

What does it say about our society that we are all so tired you can buy legal amphetamines in a bottle at every grocery store, gas station, and superstore?  Wikipedia says 90% of North Americans consume caffeine daily.  I'm sure there is some deeper meaning to ponder. . .  but I'm just too tired.

Some lucky dog got their Monster fix for free after my RAOK #26.  At this particular venue, the Monsters run $1.78, so I taped $2 and a card onto the fridge.  It wouldn't be a complete RAOK without tax included, now would it??

Hopefully they took all that extra energy and did something nice for someone else.  One can always hope. . .

Monday, March 19, 2012

Love your neighbor...

RAOK #25 - Crafty goodness! Lucky day!

I'm back!  After a short hiatus for my birthday weekend, I am ready to get on with the business of sharing all of my fun RAOK that wrapped up my mission.  If you didn't see my earlier post, I did complete the 46 RAOKs by my birthday weekend as planned. (Yea!!)  However, I didn't have time to raise 4 children, do the RAOKs and write about them.  So I chose to raise the kids and get the RAOKs done and then write about them afterwards.  You will see the remaining 21 posts coming up here in the next few weeks.

My birthday weekend started out with Craft Club.  I moved here 4 years ago and knew no one. I figured out quickly that I was going to have to design opportunities to meet people so one thing I did was join a Moms' Group and offer to host a Craft Club. If you know me or read my profile, you know I absolutely love crafting and especially scrapbooking.  

It has become a monthly tradition that is one of my favorite things I do all month.  About one Friday night a month I gather up friends and we have A BLAST!  We share all our personal stories and we laugh so hard every time.  The hubs told me he's jealous and wants a Dad Group (his would be a Gun Club versus a Craft Club though) because he can hear us howling downstairs and having so much fun!

I scheduled the March Craft Club for the Friday before my birthday because we go until midnight (or after) and I knew that would ring in my birthday on a fun note.  The gals surprised me with a sweet card, a cake, and some delicious frozen custard from a local shop around here.  Yum!!  I surprised them with a RAOK - Is today your lucky day?

I gave them each a $2 scratch off lottery ticket.  Now, I personally don't play the lottery and hardly any of them do either.  The odds of winning the lottery are less than getting struck by lightning so I prefer just to keep my money.  Although my dad plays and he won $17,000 once on the Hoosier Millionaire show! But it is fun to scratch off the ticket and see if you won something.  Especially if someone else paid for the ticket!  It was great.  Did we have a winner?

Yep!  Congratulations to Julie, who won $20!  Woot woot!! I love Julie, she's just an awesome person, amazing mom, and so fun!

Here's the printable I made up to attach to the lottery tickets:

(By the way, in case of some of you astute readers are wondering, NO I am not writing and have never from the beginning written about my RAOKs in chronological order of when they were done for a number of reasons that are too boring to mention. It doesn't really matter, does it?)