Monday, May 30, 2011

Summer Vacation: Day 1

Sing it with me:

There's 104 days of summer vacation
And school comes around just to end it
So the annual problem of our generation
Is finding a good way to spend it....

Yes.  Day 1.
I attempted to get 1 writing project done. 
2 would have been nice. 

I fielded 14 questions that started out with "What are we having for....."
...and ended with breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack.  Take your pick. 

I started blowing up the slip and slide when I must have looked like I was turning blue and then Brian went and got an air pump to blow it up.

I stumbled upon a snake slithering all in the garden hose, so I refused to get close to it leaving no slip and slide fun until Brian and Nathan located the evil thing and killed it. 

So now because of that, I am sure to spend the first night of summer vacation having nightmares. 
I really do hate snakes. 

I planted flowers and said "no" about a thousand times to the question "can we go to the pool?" 

I dropped off one wildcat to a practice, grilled some chicken, bandaged an owie, made one trip to the grocery store, and edited an assignment. 

I spent a lot of time worrying about whether or not I am going to get any paying work done this summer, cause everybody seems to need mama. 

Then I remembered....there is value in being needed. 

Just won't be taking that to the bank.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hey Good Lookin'--Here's What's Cookin'

This week's calendar holds another round of a bunch of everybody going in different directions at night. 

And besides sports, we have a very special birthday to celebrate this week. 

And no school during the day. 

While I may not know how I am going to be in a half a dozen places in one day.....I do know what we will be eating. 

I'm always thinking about food. 

Last week, the Wildcat had lots of games to go to at night and lived off of the concession stand fare.  This week, I have something cooked up for him to grab either before or after his games. 
Who am I kidding.....he's gonna eat before and after his games. 

This week's recipe for a CROWD who may or may not show up at ANY time of the day or night wanting to eat:

Little League BeefBurgers
This recipe serves 12.  I made enough for 24.  If we don't eat it all, it will freeze

2 1/2 pounds ground beef
10 oz chicken gumbo soup
1/4 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. ketchup
1 T. Mustard
1/4 C. Oatmeal
12 Hamburger buns

cook the beef.  stir in all the other stuff.  it's good. 

So what's cooking at your house this week? 
And I'm you let your kids graze all day?  Or do you have set-in-stone snacks and meals? 

I wonder because the Wildcat is ALWAYS he is pouring a bowl of cereal about 17 minutes after I have dinner put away. 
....So then the little girls wanna "snack" too....but I know they aren't really hungry. 

What do you do? 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I'm having a hard time figuring this one out...

The Wildcat is running for class president of his freshman class.  He's got that charisma and leadership qualities....and a weird way of being able to connect with ANYONE.  It's a gift he has.  He can't help it.  He can't stop it.  I have no reason to think he will stop with "class president."

He is playing high school baseball.  It was crazy and eery to watch the kid at second base last night and think....when did this happen?  Shouldn't we be at little league? 

He has 8th grade graduation tomorrow.  He told me he will probably be getting some awards.  He wondeers if I will cry. 
ummm, yeah. is that even a serious question?

And also....he is texting.  a girl.  i like this girl. she's pretty.  and nice. 
But I just think that maybe he should be spending a little more time playing videogames....I've heard that texting girls takes away valuable gaming time.....
 (Right Teri?:))
I kid. 
Sort of.

I'm having a hard time figuring out what I'm feeling.

I love this kid.  I'm so proud of the man he is growing up to be.  And I count it as one of the greatest honors of my life to get to be his mama. 

What a rip-off this mama thing do your best to raise the kid right.....and they just end up growing up on you. 

Love you, Wildcat! 
I'll try not to do that one really ugly-cry-thing at your promotion tomorrow.  And I'll be sure to try to not thoroughly embarass you with picture-taking and loud clapping and the occassional whoot. 

I said, I'll try. 

The Food Chain at School

My 4th grade Claire Bear got to visit the middle school wing this week.  She met some teachers, followed a 5th grade buddy, went to classes and..... shoved inside of a locker..... an 8th grader.
specifically, her brother.

nice.  really?  come on kids. 

The wildcat informed his sister that he was just getting her used to what to expect from the 8th graders. 

So.  That reminded me.

Next year, The Wildcat will be a freshman.  Brian has a son who will be a senior.  Marz and Brinn will be in 8th grade, Claire in 5th and Tookie will be at the top of the elementary wing in 4th grade.

So Brady can stuff Nathan into a locker.
Marz and Brinn can take turns picking on Claire.
And Tookie can pick on some poor, unsuspecting kindergartener. 

I'm kidding. 

About the kindergartener.  That just wouldn't be nice. 

Siblings apparently operate on a different standard of "nice." 

I think "stuffing-kid-sibling-in-a-locker" might be their own uique love language. 

Perhaps I will write in to Gary Chapman.

Monday, May 23, 2011

At first Glance

A quick glance at this week's calendar shows that we have about 14 games between 3 kids in the next 6 days. 

I'm not great with numbers. 
But I'm thinking that this is starting to add up to be summer in the Midwest. 

And I am loving it. 

Dear Calendar,
Normally I prefer you to be a little more relaxed in your activity level. 
But I love watching these kids play ball. 
So bring it on.
I've got my camera, sunscreen, bug spray and sunflower seeds ready to go. 
Yours, ~robin

Saturday, May 21, 2011

May 21, 2011

Did you know that today is the last day of the world as we know it? 

According to some heavily reported upon predictions, today is supposed to be doomsday.  Judgement day.
Our last day.  The end. 

I hope I don't offend you when I tell you that my first reaction to "end of the world" predictions is always to laugh. 

And not because I'm one of those bible-believing-Jesus-people who uses the bible as a reference to nobody ever knowing the time or day of the second coming/end of the world as we know it.....

....even though I AM one of those people......
....that's not why I laugh. 

I chuckle because I think it is absolutely absurd to put your faith in a predicted day being your last day.

Because when you do that, don't you lose a lot?

Because who on earth is to really say if you are going to live another 10 decades, 10 years or 10 minutes. 

Who on earth is to say that you follow all the healthy rules of life and still get cancer.

Who on earth decides, that even though you are young and vibrant, that you are not taken suddenly by an accident or suddent health issue. 

And who on earth gets to make the decision of the last day for humanity as we know it?

I laugh because nobody on earth gets to decide.
Predict.....go for it.

But I got me some faith.
Faith, meaning, I believe in something I cannot see. 
In something that is beyond me. 
Faith in something that actually gives me hope.

People who believe in these predictions have faith in what they cannot see as well. 
I'm not going to argue with that. 

Here is what I want to say.
when these preditions prove false.....
think about something....

There is nothing
to say that this could not have been your last day
or your neighbor's last day.

You never know when you
or someone you hold close
will be called home
to their maker. 

So why live....expecting to die when others predict?
Wouldn't life be so much more full
If we lived in a way
that made a difference to us
and eternity
in the now?

I came across an email this week.
It is about Sept. 11. 

When I read it, it reminded me how fragile life is
and how sure we can be
in our eternal future
even if we don't know
exactly when
or how
that future will become our everlasting now.

But it also reminded me
of how much more rich
my life would be
if I lived in a way
that I never knew....
or how.

To would look like life 
With no regrets.
Leaving it all on the field.
Every day.

Here is that email....and I hope it inspires you to know that your life in the every day matters.
And you are not alone.

Someday, we will all find ourselves "in the stairwell." 
I just choose to believe that we don't ever know when that will be
for each one of us. 

But I also choose to live in a way that it could be my last.


You say you will never forget where you were when
you heard the news On September 11, 2001.
Neither will I.

I was on the 110th floor in a smoke filled room
with a man who called his wife to say 'Good-Bye.' I
held his fingers steady as he dialed. I gave him the
peace to say, 'Honey, I am not going to make it, but it
is OK..I am ready to go.'

I was with his wife when he called as she fed
breakfast to their children. I held her up as she
tried to understand his words and as she realized
he wasn't com ing home that night.

I was in the stairwell of the 23rd floor when a
woman cried out to Me for help. 'I have been
knocking on the door of your heart for 50 years!' I said.
'Of course I will show you the way home - only
believe in Me now.'

I was at the base of the building with the Priest
ministering to the injured and devastated souls.
I took him home to tend to his Flock in Heaven. He
heard my voice and answered.

I was on all four of those planes, in every seat,
with every prayer. I was with the crew as they
were overtaken. I was in the very hearts of the
believers there, com forting and assuring them that their
faith has saved them.

I was in Texas , Virginia , California , Michigan , Afghanistan .

I was standing next to you when you heard the terrible news.
Did you sense Me?

I want you to know that I saw every face. I knew
every name - though not all know Me. Some met Me
for the first time on the 86th floor.

Some sought Me with their last breath.
Some couldn't hear Me calling to them through the
smoke and flames; 'Come to Me... this way... take
my hand.' Some chose, for the final time, to ignore Me.

But, I was there.

I did not place you in the Tower that day. You
may not know why, but I do.. However, if you were
there in that explosive moment in time, would you have
reached for Me?

Sept. 11, 2001, was not the end of the journey
for you . But someday your journey will end. And I
will be there for you as well. Seek Me now while I may
be found. Then, at any moment, you know you are
'ready to go.'

I will be in the stairwell of your final moments.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What I'm Writing

I've gotten a lot of questions lately about the writing work that I am doing and if I really make enough money at it. 

Are you curious? are some details. 

First of all....the answer to the money question is yes and no.

Yes...I make more money than I did at my day job at the local coffee shop.  Stepping back from that to write more was a good business decision. is enough to pay my bills. 

and No....because just enough isn't quite enough to feel comfortable. 
But that is okay.  Because I am working hard at it every day and doors seem to be opening that were not there a year ago.  I feel blessed. 

So...."what exactly are you writing, Robin?" 

Well thank you for asking, world-wide-web. 

I am working hard at producing magazine articles and am kicking my foot back in that newspaper door again.  The magazine artilces are being published in regional parenting publications in a few different areas of the country.  And I was approved to freelance for the QC Times....haven't gotten my first assignment yet, but I will.  I love this stuff and would like to write more devotionals (like I used to) and get back into writing locally (I miss that).  My resume looks better in the last year than it has in a dozen years of writing. 

Pesistence seems to be paying off, but not paying the bills. 

So....I have a "day job."
Online content. 

Think about the last thing that you wanted to learn about....and then did a google search to see what came up?
I write those types of articles. 
Someone has to.
Sometimes they are boring and sometimes they are fun. 
I definitely learn alot. 

These assignments are not always glamorous.  But they do pay the bills!

For one website, I write content about arthritis, women's health issues, exercise and fitness tips and homeschooling. 

(i know what you are thinking about the fitness tips.....let's just say i am good at research and leave it at that)

For another website, I try to get assignments in education, parenting and home and garden.  These are the most fun for me.  Yesterday I wrote about some classroom activities with an "ant" theme and another about activities to do at the end of the school year.

But a week ago I wrote about the "potato varieties that are registered in the US." 

I know...I don't particularly care about potato varieties. 

But I do love that I can research and my "day job." 

Does this answer some of your questions? 

Would you like me to show you some of the online content that I write? 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Let the Madness Begin

It's Mid-May.
It's a Monday in Mid-May.
There is just too much stuff going on in May.

This week there are:
2 school concerts to attend.
3 parent meetings
2 ball games
4 sack-lunches needed
A track meet
A state track meet

Many of these events I will attend.....Some of them overlap. 
I need to find me a stunt double. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bye-Bye Blankie


Last night my baby girl came down the stairs holding something behind her back.

And she looks up at me with those serious eyes.  The kind of look where her head stays sort of straight, but her eyes look up.

This was some serious cuteness.
And I knew I was in trouble.

And she says in a determined voice:
Mama.  I think it is time.

And she pulls her blankie from behind her back and tries to hand it to me.

No Tookie.  Not Blankie.  Please don't tell me you are giving up blankie!  This is a joke.  You still want your blankie, right?!!

MO-OM.  I don't want to be like...30 and still have a blankie!!

But tookie.  You have a good 20 years till that happens.  Surely you still want Blankie for 10 or 12 more years....right?  I mean really.  There is no need to give up on this too soon.

Mom.  It's time.  I don't mean to hurt your feelings or anything.  If it makes you feel better....I will put Blankie on your stone when you die or something.

Thinking....cute how she is trying to make me feel better. 
Not effective, but cute.

So last night I got to snuggle with Blankie. 
Because Tookie no longer needs her.
Blankie is now mine. 
Oh how I wish she still wanted Blankie. 

That determined voice she used to tell me she didn't need Blankie anymore had nothing to do with being unsure of her decision, and everything to do with standing up to me about it. 

She is growing up so fast. 

I'm afraid to look away and turn back and all of the sudden.....
.....she is 30

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dear Local Pharmacy,

Let's talk.

About dollars.

First of all, let me butter you up by saying you are the best when it comes to drugs and advice about drugs (and other things) and getting me the BEST DEAL on all of my drugs. 

(dear readers....I'm not making that up.  these people have found me coupons that will save me nearly $600 dollars this year on my perscription.  no kidding.)

And I will never forget that time when I got a perscription for something that later became an over-the-counter and you helped me figure out what was the better deal.....because i had a script.  And the better deal turned out to be free samples!  (ya me!)

And that one time when I walked in with my neck all in a brace and just needed to sit down because I had walked farther than I should have.  And you sold me stool softner to counter the effects of the pain meds I was taking.  And how that, alone, helped me "move" through the rest of the day. 

And don't forget the time when I had allergies and I got addicted to nose spray because I didn't know nose spray was habit-forming.  You helped me get over my addiction. 

Clearly, dear pharmacy guy-who-makes-the decisions, we have a history.

And I'm thinking about adding some of these memories to my scrapbook. 

So now I'm here, to help you out.
I owe you.

On the surface, it may appear that this help may seem self-serving. 
But you are smart.  And I know you will see the big picture in this. 
(more butter, anyone?)

Last week, I made a trip to Muscatine.  To the Dollar Tree. 
Everything there is a dollar.

But I don't buy everything there.

And I can't afford to pay for the gas to go there I make a big list and go. 

My "big list" cost me less than $25. 

So here you about YOU have a "DOLLAR" section in your store?

Think of it:
If people (me) don't have to leave town to buy their toothpaste, napkins, toilet bowl cleaner, acetaminophen, fabric bandaides, knock-off shampoo and body wash, hand soap and fabric softener......

....because YOU offer these items in your DOLLAR section.....

....then they might just be willing to buy their toilet paper and kleenex and dish soap there too.....

.....because it means they are saving time and money on gas. 

AND I would be willing to get a T-shirt made at the Varietees across the street from you and wear it as I ride my bike with the big-butt seat and baskets on it to your store that says:

I shop at WESTFAIR because they have drugs
AND a dollar section!!

Of course, I would put my writing powers to work and let everyone know that they should be shopping locally here.....
.....big-butt-bicycles with baskets are not required.
.....but t-shirts can be made!

So what do you say? 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day is Hard Work

I've come to the conclusion that mother's day can be hard work. 

Everyone wants to do something to make it special, but in the end, we all know that mom is the one who makes the "special" everyone wants actually happen. 

But.....even "hard-work-kind-of-special" is still special. 

I woke to breakfast in bed made by my youngest:  Toast with cinnamon. 
That is the fanciest thing she knew how to make.
So she did.
Love her!

Later we went to the store and someone asked if they made me breakfast.  She said "yep....I made toast."
The couple who asked laughed.
Tookie looked at me and asked:  "Why is toast funny?"

"They must not know how special toast can be,"  I reply.

By the way....can you tell me what is wrong with this tree?

Look close and you will see the litte
daredevil in there.....

oh my.

So I prepare to grill out since spring finally decided to show up.
Nothing fancy.
Hot dogs and hamburgers.

Then I get a call....."Can we come eat with you?"

The normal response is....of course.  But when 5 more people come for lunch, and one of them is a college football player and another is total high-school heavyweight.....then I need to get some more meat! 

Got it.

And we all had lunch together.  And I loved it.

Brian took over the grill.  I had no problem with that!

Brady and his pretty date



Not quite enough room at the table

As Mother's Day comes to a close, all I can think about is how grateful I am for all these people. 

And how much I need a nap.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Dear Teachers,


Did I really miss 'teacher appreciation week'? 

Oh my....I think I did. 

In the past, I have tried to, at the very least, send a note or card....send cheese or chocolate or commemorate this week for you.....
.....and to let you know
just how much i appreciate you!!!!

Because, oh my, I do. 

So much so, that I hardly know where to start.....

Dear 3rd Grade and Mrs. D:  My Tookie is my baby.  As the youngest of four, she fits the "youngest" mold perfectly. 
You might even call it textbook.
It is a very real possibility that I am what you would call an "enabler" for this syndrome. 
All I can say is....thank you for understanding.  And even pretending when need be (for my sake...not my daughter)....
....this does not go unnoticed. 

Dear 4th Grade:  You ladies are THE BEST. 
Professionally, you know your stuff.
My Claire loves you
And wants to be a better student
Because she cares about what you think.
I can tell that you have that mama instinct in you....
The one that you probably draw on
When you a mama....that there is more to the story
Than what goes on in the classroom
And you can nurture
in a way
that feels comforting, when needed
and strict...when that is needed.
Never crossing the "professional" line....but blending all of your gifts
in a way that benefits my child.

Are. my daughter....
And that are special to me. 
I want to hug you.
Or buy you diamonds
Or coffee. 

Junior High Teachers:  Yes ALL of you.

You put up with two of mine at the same time.
You tell me that these kids make your job worth it.

But let me flip that coin and tell you something.....
They wouldn't care if you didn't. 
So thank you for caring.
Thank you for letting my kids express themselves
in that (sometimes annoying?) preteen and teenage way
That makes them who they are.

You must put up with a lot with so many kids
All trying to grow up
And fit in
And be different....while trying to fit in.

And you know jr. high is all about being social.
And has nothing to do with science or social studies
or nouns or verbs
or mathematical equations.....

It's about who likes who
and who kissed who
and who said this
or did that..... school.

Your role, as a Jr. High Teacher
is special to me.
Because you have a job to do.
And you somehow do it well
In spite of the fact
that the kids think school is secondary
to the rest of life.

I'd like to send you on a trip somewhere
or buy you a beer
or name a star after you.

Because I appreciate you that much. 

I'm so sorry that I didn't get the halmarks out to every single one of you.
Please pass this along if you care to.....

Nathan's Mom
Marisa's Mom
Claire's Mom
and Danielle's Mom

P.S.  Dear School Counselors:  I LOVE YOU.  You have no idea how much of a difference you make to me by way of my children. 
I often wonder what it would be like to have the kind of job where everyone wants to tell you their problems......
So I think I would buy you coffees, diamonds, vacations and drinks if I could.  And I would also buy you tickets to a concert.  Because somehow, I think you would like it. 

I'm a "Guest Blogger"

click right HERE to read a mama devotional I wrote as a "guest blogger."

holy smokes, I've never been asked to be a guest blogger. 

feels like a great way to kick off this new season of my working life.... a full-time freelancer. 


So I promise, later on, I will blog something that is more than just fragments and i might even pay attention to some rules of grammar and style. 

Something maybe even interesting.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A couple of sisters....

Here is Claire....She says she is working on Social Studies. 

Social Studies looks an aweful lot like sugar to me.....

And here are a couple of sisters.  I always appreciate when they join forces. 
Even if it is against me.....

 What they were working on:

ahhhh.  a little bit of sister-sweetness
to go along with the social-studies-sugar.

I don't care what I was thinking is a good day.

Monday, May 2, 2011