May Madness

I am beginning to resent the month of May, and that’s a scary thought.  May is full of wonderful, beautiful things.  The birds are singing, the sun is shining, flowers are blooming, the temperature is nice…it’s really quite lovely.  May is full of celebrations, too.  My birthday is in May, as is my husband’s, my youngest daughter’s, and my father’s.  And of course, Mother’s Day!

So why am I harboring less-than-joyful feelings for my once-favorite month?  Because May has become so stinkin’ busy!

Our weekly schedule if full already, but when you add all the extras that May brings, it gets completely crazy!  We have had multiple choir competitions, skit squad performances, academic competitions, the school carnival, an overnight 6th grade trip, 4-H meetings, miscellaneous doctors appointments, picture day for dance, field trips, and extra practices and rehearsals for some of these special events.  Tonight is the Spring concert for our elementary school.  We have one more week of school and it is filled with more field trips and awards ceremonies to attend.  All of this, on top of the regular scouts, dance, etc. leads to one stressed out Mama and one extremely cluttered home.

I always think things will be better when school gets out for the summer.  However, the summer schedule fills up quickly.  But if I don’t cling to that little hope of having a slowed-down, carefree summer, what hope will I have?

Instead of seeing these events as a burden, I need to change my view and celebrate and give thanks for them.  This busyness is brought to me by my family, and I am thankful for the family God has given me to fill up my calendar.


First Holy Communion Day for Mr. Dude



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Where’s My Motivation?

The dog is not motivating me.  I know it’s not his job, but seeing him curled up on the couch snoring the day away just makes me want to take a nap.

The dirty dishes in the sink are not motivating me.  Eh…the sink’s not overflowing.  They can wait a little longer.

The threat of no clean socks in the morning isn’t motivating me.  The laundry has been sitting around for days.  Surely some of those socks have aired out enough by now that they won’t be too stinky to wear again.

The thought of no plans for dinner isn’t motivating me, either.  There is always PB&J.

There is only ONE thing that is motivating me to get off my rear and get some work done.  I truly believe my God-given vocation is a wife and mother.  By serving my family, I am serving Him.  My procrastination and lack of motivation are pure selfishness, putting me before everything and everyone else.  Pride is an ugly sin.

Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

-Matthew 23:12


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All Stacked Up! ***GIVEAWAY***

See below for the information on the giveaway contest!

pop pop pop pop pop…whoosh, whoosh…slam!

I’m sorry, but I just can’t find a way to accurately describe the thrilling sound of sport stacking.  The excitement and electricity that flows through the stackers as they up-stack cups then down-stack in specified configurations, all while racing the clock, just can’t be conveyed in mere words.

2014 Great Lakes & Hoosier State Stacking Championships

This Saturday, February 28, is the WSSA Great Lakes & Hoosier State Sports Stacking Championships held in Connersville, Indiana.  Imagine rows and rows of tables covered in stack mats and cups with over 200 competitors waiting to give their best at the various stacking events. Stackers range in agestacking Watergirls from preschoolers to adult, including a Special Stacker division, all vying for the top positions in their age categories.  Eagerness, excitement, nervousness…it’s all there!  I should know.  Not only have my kids been participants, but so have I.

When I first got a flyer home from school with a kid eagerly asking me to buy a set of stacking cups, I said, “No way!  Why do you need special cups to make cup-pyramids?”  Sounded like a waste of money and a waste of time.  But then something happened.  I actually learned about the sport of sport stacking.  A representative from Speed Stacks (the official cups of the World Sport Stacking Association) came to our school and presented an assembly which I attended.  I learned about the rules and the various individual and team events in the sport.  I watched hypnotically as kids raced through the stacks and marveled at their speed.  I cheered as the students did relays against the teachers.  Most importantly, I learned about the benefits of sport stacking.  Sure there is the obvious motor skills used, teamwork, and confidence-building, but because it uses both hands equally, it makes both sides of your brain work.  Hand-eye coordination is developed.  Many athletes, especially, basketball players, have seen the benefits of stacking as a form of training.  I also learned of the special design of Speed Stacks:  weighted and with holes to allow air-flow and prevent cups from sticking together.  

After that, the kids got their own stacking cups.  The house was Elizabethsoon filled with the clacking of plastic cups as the kids practiced everyday after school.  It wasn’t long before I took my chances and gave it a try.  The trick is to work on fundamentals.  Get the flow down, know the different stacks, learn the tricks of the trade before you work on the speed.  I was hooked, too, practicing at the kitchen table after the kids had gone to bed.  By the time the next Spring came around, sports stacking fever had swept through our school and we found ourselves hosting the first statewide Hoosier State Sports Stacking Championship in 2009.


Each year since, the tournament has grown by leaps and bounds, drawing stackers from several states as well as Canada.  Under the outstanding direction of our coach and tournament director, Lisa Hauger, and an endless cast of volunteers, the success of this tournament caught the eyes of the powers-that-be at the World Sports Stacking Association (WSSA) and changed to the WSSA Great Lakes Regional & Sports Stacking Championships in 2013.  Many state records, as well as some national and world records, have been set at this tournament.  (I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I have a state record or two, and so does my oldest daughter.  My middle daughter is a past state record holder.)   It is a fun day with great talent to watch, too, as there are usually several members of Sports Stacking Team USA.

This year’s tournament is set to be equally exciting.  Spectators are welcome to attend.  It would be a great family outing!  Here’s what you need to know:

2015 Championship

BUT…If you want to win TWO FREE TICKETS to Saturday’s competition, simply leave a reply below to this post.  One lucky commenter will be randomly chosen and receive two tickets to the WSSA Great Lakes & Hoosier Sports Stacking Championship on Saturday, February 28.  Deadline is Friday, February 27 at 5:00 P.M. EST.  Winner will be notified by email.  One entry per day.  Give it a try!!!

If you are still confused about what sports stacking is, here is a small sample.  This video was taken at the Hoosier State Sports Stacking Championship in 2012.  Seeing as how this was taken a few years ago, I am sure the kids would want to emphasize that they are now faster than the videos represent.

This video shows the Princess doing the 3-3-3 stack.  Although she was only 4 at the time, she had fun!


Here the Dancer is doing the 3-6-3, a stack of three cups on one side, then six, then three on the other side).  Yes, she is faster now and will probably be embarrassed that I shared this one.  (That’s OK.  I am Mom and I have the right to embarrass my children.)


Again, she is faster now, but this is the Curly Girlie doing the cycle several years ago.

Check out Speed Stacks, the WSSA, and Youtube for more (and better) stacking videos!

Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to comment to enter the contest!

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My Name is Arf

I was born and raised in an English-speaking household.  In high school, I studied German for four years.  Thanks to Sesame Street as a child, I learned to count to ten in Spanish.  Dora the Explorer helped expand my Spanish vocabulary with a few more words when I watched when my children were younger.  I have even learned a few French words related to dance thanks to my daughters’ ballet classes.  However, there is one language that is truly puzzling to me and I would love to understand better:  canine.

Oh, how I wish I could speak the language of the dogs!  To be able to differentiate the difference between the barks and whines, growls and grunts would be wonderful.  To really know if Timmy, or anyone else, is trapped in a well…But, alas, the verbal language of the dog alludes me.  When I ask, “What are you barking at?” I just get a look from the dog as if I am an idiot.  “I JUST told you what I was barking at!  There is a BIRD on the front porch!!!”

There is, however, one word, one vocalization, which I have managed to translate:  “Arf”.  Yes, I am fairly certain that “Arf” means “Mom”.  Just as my kids holler for me, so does Mr. K.  Of course, he doesn’t say anything after “Arf”, I am supposed to figure that out by non-verbal cues.

“Arf” while standing in the kitchen means, “Mom, I’m hungry!”

“Arf” while looking at the front door means, “Mom, I need to potty!”

“Arf” when the kids are getting too rowdy means, “Mom, make them stop!  They are annoying me!”

“Arf” when standing in the hallway looking back at me means, “Mom, come on!  Let’s go to your room and take a nap.”

And just as my kids get excited and repeat, “Mom!  Mom!  Mom!!!”  So does Mr. K.  “Arf!  Arf!  Arf!!!”

Although it would be nice to know more of the Canine language, for now, I am satisfied with the little I have learned.  Who knows, maybe someday my knowledge will grow and I will understand more, maybe even speak it myself.  Until then, I will be content being lovingly known as “Arf” by my sweet little fur-baby.

My name is Arf

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Juggling: Part 2

In my previous post, Juggling: Part 1, I made a visual representation of the many tasks, demands, and responsibilities I am juggling.  This little exercise helped me realize that, yes, I am legitimately busy and it is no wonder I feel overwhelmed.  The many balls I juggle stresses me out and I feel I am constantly one step away from dropping them all.  I very, very seldom take any balls out of rotation, yet I seem to easily add more.  Seeing my chaos diagrammed out will hopefully help me prioritize and possibly eliminate some of these balls and make my juggling job as a wife and mom more manageable.

As I take a deeper look at my lists, I realize that not all of these balls in the air are exclusively mine.  Laundry, cleaning, cooking…I can get some help with this stuff!  Enter child labor!  I already have a new laundry system in mind and we have made small steps toward implementing it.  Cleaning…obviously there are many ways to break this down.  That is a whole different set of juggling balls that I don’t need to juggle alone.  Once I sit down and break it down, I can then assign different balls to the kids.  Won’t they be excited?

Multi-tasking is another way I can manage my life easier.  I already multi-task to a certain degree, but I think I need to plan it a bit better.  For example, when I go to visit my parents, I like to make some freezer meals for them to make their lives easier.  Why do I wait until I go to do that cooking?  Although I sometimes freeze food for them when I am cooking for us at home, it is usually when I find that I have made extra.  Seldom do I actually plan to make enough to take to my parents.  If I include them when I do shopping and cooking for my own family, it will make my visits with them less hectic and more enjoyable.

I also really need to push myself to finish tasks.  I do have attention issues to a certain degree, but I can’t use that as an excuse.  What does Yoda say?  “Try not.  Do, or do not.  There is no try.”  I tend to get to easily distracted by the other balls I have up in the air which draws my attention away from the tasks at hand.  For example, as I was typing this I needed to stop and get something for my sick child.  Then, she wanted lunch.  I ended up making her lunch, then lunch for the other kids, then for myself.  While I was in the kitchen I unloaded the dishwasher then loaded it and ran it again.  In the meantime, a disagreement was starting between the kids.  In order to stave it off, I took time to go and fix the TV that wasn’t working properly.  By that time, I needed a little break.  Again, the sick child needed my help, so my break was over.  While I was in the kitchen getting medicine, I realized the dishwasher had finished.  I turned my attention to unloading it once again  Oops…forgot to take the medicine to the child in need. I sat down to finish my break (playing just one more one more level of my video game).  After getting up to let the dog out, I returned to the kitchen to find the dishwasher open and partially unloaded.  Oh, yeah…forgot about that.  I finished unloading then filled it up again.  Noticing that my sink was gross, I started to clean the sink, only to get side-tracked by a few storage containers that didn’t make it into the dishwasher and needed to be washed by hand.  After that was done, I remembered I was in the middle of writing a blog and headed back to the privacy of my bedroom….followed by the Princess.  After drawing some pictures together, I am finally back at the computer to finish the task I started five hours ago.  Waiting for me in the kitchen is the partially clean sink and counter, which I didn’t have any intention of working on yet.  But my attention darted from here to there, not letting me finish what I had started.  Even though I did accomplish some stuff, I left other stuff undone.  Will I ever get back to the kitchen sink?  That wasn’t even on my to-do list for today.  None of this was!

I always knew I was busy, but it is therapeutic to see what I am busy doing.  Writing down my tasks, obligations, and duties was very helpful.  Now that I can see on paper (most of) what I have been juggling, I can take steps to smooth things out.  No, some of these balls will never disappear, nor do I want them to.  But hopefully, identifying the balls in the air can help me manage the juggling and ask for help when and where I need it.


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Juggling: Part 1

When I was in high school, I remember my brother coming home from college one weekend and showing me a new skill he was learning:  juggling.  He wasn’t great at it, but he could keep three balls of socks going for a few seconds.  Like any easily-impressed younger sibling, I wanted to learn, too!  Like the good older sibling he is, he gave me some pointers.  Although I never became good at it, I learned to juggle three objects for a few seconds which seems to impress people.  That’s good enough for me.

Now that I am older, I find myself in a different type of juggling game, one in which I don’t juggle balls but priorities and obligations, demands and responsibilities.  Recently, I was talking to my husband about how overwhelmed I am and how much I have to do.  I used the juggling metaphor, commenting that I never seem to be able to eliminate one of the balls and take it out of rotation.  Pondering upon that, I decided to do a little exercise.  I sat down with a paper and pen and drew a picture of myself juggling and labeled all of my “balls”.

This is the first picture I drew:


That’s a lot of balls to juggle.  Some of them are pretty big.  I decided I needed to divide those into smaller balls:


After looking at it for a bit, I realized that to be totally honest with myself, I needed to divide some of those balls again AND I added more:


I am sure I am forgetting some, and I know these can be divided even further, but I decide that’s all I want to deal with at the moment (can you say denial?).  Some of these balls were meant to be only temporary, but they sure have been up in the air a long time!  Others are perpetual and are always there or get completed and then reappear.  Looking at my pictures really gives me a new perspective.  I have so much up in the air and I need to admit that to myself.  My life is busy.  I keep running from ball to ball to keep them (or me) afloat.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to eliminate some of those balls or pass them on to others?

But how do I do that?  What can I do to make my life easier?  How do I go from juggling chaos to juggling with grace and confidence?  That, my friends, is the question.

Stay tuned…




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The Unwanted Christmas Present

Guess what I got for Christmas.  SICK!  Yes, on Christmas Eve day, I became ill.  More specifically, I came down with the flu.  Fever, chills, hot-flashes, dizziness, aches, and just that general all-over crappy feeling. We had just loaded up the van with kids, luggage, and presents and started off toward my parents’ house.  Yes, my parents, the older folks who have health issues of their own and shouldn’t needlessly be exposed to germs and such.

At that point I wasn’t really feeling sick, just tired and run-down.  But it was the day before Christmas.  Who wasn’t?  The Oldest was behind the wheel, gaining some needed experience to go with his driving permit.  I was the responsible Adult Relative riding shotgun, making sure he was following the laws, etc.  This meant my beloved husband was in the very back row of our twelve passenger van, leisurely reading a book. About 20 minutes after departure, we had our first request for a bathroom break.  It was then, while waiting inside the store for our restroom user to finish…um…resting, that I had had my first icky moment.  Everything suddenly seemed all floaty and surreal.  I must have looked the part, too, because I was asked by a store clerk if I needed help.  “Simply a head cold,” I told myself as we loaded back in the van, this time with me in the back.

Now my son is a fairly good driver, but he is still inexperienced.  The little adjustments and lane changes aren’t as smooth as they will be one day.  At this point in time, however, these corrections can feel a bit sudden and jerky, especially when riding in the back of a twelve-passenger van.  When I asked for another pit-stop, my husband assumed I wasn’t feeling well because of the rough ride (it wasn’t, I just needed to pee).  I asked my husband if I felt hot because I was fairly certain I had a slight fever.  He briefly put his hand to my forehead as we stood on the windy sidewalk at the rest stop and assured me I didn’t. Yeah, right, I thought.  We were not quite to the halfway point to my parents.  I contemplated turning around and heading home, but I knew how excited they were to see us so we trekked onward.

That last stretch of the trip was miserable.  As soon as we arrived at my parents I waved at them (sparing the germs that could possibly attack them if I offered my usual hug), confirmed which bed I would be sleeping in, and crawled under the covers, consumed by feelings of fever, chills, and exhaustion.  As I curled up in the fetal position, I admitted to myself that these were flu-like symptoms.

As I tossed, turned, and dozed, my husband took on all of the jobs that had been awaiting me:  grocery shopping, cooking, and preparing a meal and table for twelve, as well as his usual unpacking, etc.  And, with the help of the children, he did so beautifully.  My brother, his wife, and her sister arrived, and they all had a lovely dinner at the dining room table, while I enjoyed the same lovely dinner in bed.  I was able to wrap myself up in a blanket and plop into a chair on the fringe of action in the living room during gift opening, although I was feeling quite miserable.  Occasionally, someone would plop a package into my lap, which I would open after several minutes of mustering up the strength to open the gift bag.  Despite me, I think everyone had a nice evening.

On Christmas morning, I was still the same:  feverish, achy, chills, sweats, etc. (thankfully, never any tummy issues).  This time, it was just my husband, kids, and parents.  I wandered a bit deeper into the living room, setting up camp in a recliner.  A few more presents.  Stockings.  Christmas stuff. Then it was time for church.  Oh, how I hated missing Christmas Mass!  But I knew it was for the best.  I sat in the recliner coaching my husband and oldest daughter on what was packed for everyone to wear.  After they left, I trudged back to bed where I spent the rest of the day drifting in and out of sleep, taking Motrin and Tylenol, and occasionally wandering out to the living room to see the family (after all, it was Christmas day).

flu stocking

On the third day of illness, the flu bug gave to me…a trip to the doctor.  Finally!  You would think I would have gone the first day.  I usually would have, but getting sick at Christmastime is very inconvenient.  I don’t recommend it.  After the typical uncomfortable wait in a walk-in clinic, staring at several other people who looked just like I did, and at others who harbored unknown illnesses to which I was now potentially exposed, I eventually saw the doctor.  I was able to walk out clutching a handful of prescriptions in one hand and my husband’s arm with the other, as I was still a bit dizzy (no jokes from the peanut gallery).

The next day, Saturday, as the drugs were building in my system, I started feeling better for short periods of time, but would again slip into The Great Ick.  We left my parents (this time, we took our chances and actually hugged) and headed home where I have set up camp in my own bedroom.  Feasting on prescriptions and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches lovingly made by my children, I am slowly starting to feel better.  In between naps, I have been able to spend my days electronically killing zombies, leading water to a waiting alligator, and dressing up models in clothing.

Today is…well, heck, I don’t know what day it is, but I feel a whole lot better.  I have been out of my room, gotten dressed in real clothing, done a few motherly things, and even ran an errand with my 16-year old chauffer.  I haven’t had a fever in over 36 hours, and the only symptom I have left is a cough.  Oh, and fatigue, but you have to expect that from someone who has been in bed a week!  It will be some time before I am back to my usual self.

Through this constant bout with the flu, my trusty companion Mr. K. has been by my side.  At a time when my loved-ones (the people kind) were told to keep away for fear of catching my illness, the dog kept me company.  Just feeling his little paws on my legs as he climbed over to settle in behind my knees gave my heart a chance to smile at a time when my face was too weak to.  Frankly, a little dog alone isn’t much company on the biggest holiday of the year, but I am glad we were vigilant about the family getting too close to me.  No one else in the family is sick.  There were times at my parents’ house when I was certain the Oldest or the Curly Girlie would get it because they spent a lot of time in the bedroom with me watching TV, but so far, so good.

I  really hope this is the end of the flu for me and it doesn’t happen to anyone else in the family.  I still stand by previous PSA about getting a flu shot, but I also want to stress get to the doctor soon if you feel you are getting sick.  They told me that Tamiflu works if you get it within 2-3 days of the onset of symptoms.  I was pushing the 3-day mark, and I have a hunch it would have helped more if I could have had it sooner.

The saddest part about this Unwanted Christmas Present is that it didn’t come with a gift receipt so I was stuck with it.

Merry Christmas, everyone!


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What Happened to Advent?

Whoa, there!  Slow down, everyone.  It’s not the Christmas season yet.  It’s Advent.  Don’t rush things!  The Christmas season doesn’t officially start until December 25, when we celebrate the birth of Jesus.  Christmas then continues for 12 more days (THE Twelve Days of Christmas, sound familiar?) until Epiphany, the celebration of when the Magi visited the baby Jesus.  We are now in Advent, not Christmas!

Please don’t think I am anti-Christmas.  Far from it!  I LOVE Christmas, and all of the traditions that go along with it (well, maybe not ALL… that elf that moves around at night is kind of creepy).  But please don’t skip over Advent.  It is a beautiful season, too.  Use this time to prepare for the celebration of the Savior’s birth.  What were people expecting in a Messiah?  What signs and prophesies were fulfilled?  Why do we even need a Savior?  Advent should be a time of focusing on our faith journey.  It’s not a crime to deck the halls, but don’t let it overshadow this special season.

Use this Advent season wisely.  Pray more.  Go to Church.  Explore the Bible.  Feed the hungry and clothe the needy.  Visit the homebound and elderly.  Live out your faith.  I’m not a Bible scholar, but I don’t think Jesus ever said, “Good prices on electronics come to those whose who wait in a line for 20 hours.”

I once heard some wonderful advice with regards to the crazy pre-Christmas rush:  “If what you are doing doesn’t bring you closer to Jesus, then don’t do it.”  Pray for me, friends, as I try to follow those wise words, and know that I will be praying for you, too.



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From 0 to 100 in Six Seconds

It stared out as a typical Monday morning.  Shuffle the kids out the door and into the van for the morning school drop-off routine.  Shortly before we reached the first stop, the high school, I noticed something rather odd.  It was quiet.  Is this for real? I asked myself.  There was no chatter, squabbling, complaining.  The kids were just quiet.  I almost pointed out how quiet it was and then I realized that’s a stupid thing to do.  Instead, I just savored this rare moment, wondering how long it would last.

Not too long.

After the Oldest had exited the van and I had driven a few blocks, the silence was broken.  And, oh, how it was broken!  The noise level jumped 100 decibel in six seconds.  Think about how much noise a motorcycle would make while driving around inside of your van.

“I’m going to make up a song about Thanksgiving!”  (commence song about turkeys)
“They don’t have Thanksgiving in Canada.  Or other countries.”

a loud laugh that sounds like a horse

“That laugh is obnoxious.”
“Your laugh sounds like a horse!”

more horse-laugh

more laughing at the horse-laugh

“Mom, don’t forget I have choir practice after school.  Please don’t be late!”
“Stop making fun of me!”

continued horse-laugh

“Rosie and I were playing this game at recess…”
“Mom, should I go to band today?”
“…and now Willie is chasing us at recess, too…”
“Hey, look!  It’s Emma’s mom!  HI EMMA’S MOM!!!!!!!!!!!”
“You can quit laughing like a horse now.”
“Can I get unbuckled now?  We’re almost at the door.”
“Make sure no trash falls out of the van when you get out!”

And just as quickly as the noise started, it stopped.  The door to the van slammed shut as the last kid trotted into school.  I let out a big sigh as I turned the van homeward, shaking off the slight headache that developed from the last 30 seconds of chaos.

I spent the rest of the morning, enjoying the quiet of an empty house, smiling to myself when I remembered the crazy morning ride and the randomness of the conversations (or rather, the separate simultaneous monologues).  How quickly things can escalate!  My quiet peace will be ending soon as it is almost time for the afternoon pick-up.  I’m sure the silent spell this morning was just a fluke.  I expect the van to be another lively spot of conversation, complaining, and miscellaneous noises.  New topics, new things to laugh about, and hopefully nothing to cry about.  Maybe another new song or game.  When and if their chaos quiets down enough for me to be heard, I might just explain to my little Blessings that, yes, Canada does have a Thanksgiving.


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Organizing Halloween Candy Revisited

Halloween candy

If you are a longtime reader of I’m Working On It, you might remember my post from last year about Organizing Halloween Candy.

Last year was a trial run so I didn’t know what to expect.  The system actually worked quite well.  I gave each kid baggies labeled with a day of the week.  He or she could fill each baggie with whatever Halloween candy he or she had.  The kids sorted their candy, carefully chose which pieces went into each bag, and didn’t complain one bit about not being able to gorge themselves at their own will.  The even had some leftover, even the good kind!

Now, here is the real surprise.  THEY FORGOT ABOUT IT.  After maybe a day or two, they simply forgot about their candy.  After it sat on the shelf for a few weeks, I simply threw it away (minus the chocolate, of course, which was consumed by yours truly).  My theory is that because it was put away and not out in plain sight, it was out of mind.

In conclusion, I feel like this method of candy control worked well for our family and I think we will do it again this year.  The kids felt some control over what they could have, yet the quantity was limited.  Give it a try at your house and let me know what you think.

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