On Motivation

“The more grades are the motivator the less is learned.”

“Candy for scripture memory is behaviorism. Our kids know there are other reasons we memorize scripture. We need to pull that out of them and challenge them in these intrinsic ways, and yes, 7-year-olds are capable of this.”


My Oscar Acceptance Speech

I know I’m going to leave somebody out, but I’m just so nervous and excited. I’m sorry if I failied to mention you, but you have my undying gratitude for all the things you didn’t do.

First, I’d like to thank the Academy…whoever you are.

Next, my heartfelt thanks goes to my housekeeper, who never comes over and forces me to clean my own house or live in the mess. This has certainly built something in me – character, maybe. Thank you.

Likewise, thanks to my non-existent chauffeur, who forces me to drive everywhere on my own (after I figure out where I’m going, of course). Also, by making me pump my own gasoline, you have really blessed me with a more developed perseverance (not to mention a lovely scent of 10% ethanol in my hair). Thank you.

Speaking of hair, I just can’t say enough about my hair dresser, who, well, I’ll just say it – makes me do my own. What this means is that, often, I’m forced to look like my hair didn’t get done, and there is really something to be said for learning to live with that regardless of who I’m around. I owe my learning that lesson all to you.

I’d like to thank my personal chef/meal planner, who by not personally chef-ing or meal planning, has encouraged me not only to cook but plan – all on a budget and with lots of coupons.

Thanks to my bodyguards, who failed to prevent me from badly bruising my knee the other day when I slammed it into the corner of the bathroom counter. That purple mark is a reminder to me that I’m not airbrushed (well, that and the extra 20 pounds), so thanks.

For the nanny who doesn’t show up to watch my kids, you force me to interact daily with my own children, and this means I might actually have a good relationship with them when they grow up. This means more to me than I could ever tell you. Thank you.

A special thanks to all the paparazzi who don’t recognize me on the streets, thereby giving me a relatively normal existence that doesn’t drive me to shave my head and check into rehab. Your absence has always been especially appreciated by me and my family.

And last, but certainly not least, I’d like to thank Craig, the love of my life, whose understanding of reality and the fact that I’m not perfect contributes to keeping us married. Like Bono sings, “with or without you,” baby.

Finally, I’d like to say thanks to God for keeping my humanity intact by giving me all these things I have to do for myself. As I have neither money nor fame, I cannot pay or demand that anyone take my daily inconveniences away. As a result, I am still human, and still learning to deal with my humanity every day.

I couldn’t have done any of this without any of you. Thank you. (cue music)

Pull-Apart Chicken

This is a crockpot recipe taken from the cookbook Miserly Meals by Jonni McCoy.

3/4 # boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 C water
1 tsp vinegar
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Italian seasoning (I used a make-your-own version also pulled from this same cookbook)
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp celery salt (I have never used this…)

Mix up all the ingredients except the chicken in the crockpot. After mixed, add the chicken in. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours (I’ve cooked it on high for 3-4 too). During the last two hours of cooking, use a fork to break apart the chicken into strands The longer it cookes the easier this becomes. (I’ve also shredded the chicken five minutes before eating it…)
Spoon this onto hamburger buns and serve. The recipe says it’s also good on a flour tortilla, though I haven’t tried that one yet.

I usually double this recipe, though when you do this, you double everything except the water because that much water is too much.

She’s Worth $800, Right?

When we moved into this house, we found a really great leather couch and chair on the St. Louis Craig’s List to replace the monstrosity we’ve been calling furniture for the past eight years. The timing of everything was great because we had some Christmas cash to use. The gal we bought it from was asking $1,000 and we negotiated for $800. When we compared what like-furniture would have been new, it would have been well over $2,000, so we got a good deal. Plus she let us make payments to her which is really amazing.

Anyway, they had a few minor dings – cat scratches to be specific, nothing major, but they weren’t perfect. At first I was a bit bummed by that. But after a week I decided I was glad they came pre-scratched because when one of my kids did eventually do something to the couch (and really – we all knew that day would eventually come), they wouldn’t be guilty of first infringement and thus I wouldn’t come down on them as hard as I might otherwise be tempted.

I was tested on that this week. Millie (3) found Maddie’s (8) knifty knitter tool in the living room and decided to decorate the couch with it. She’s an amazing little artist and my eyes about popped out of my head when I saw it. I had to blow a big breath out really slowly before I called her into the living room. I didn’t even give her the chance to lie about it, but went right for the gold. “Millie, why did you scratch the couch with the knifty knitter tool?” (Note: I did not yell. Not out loud). Her eyes about popped out of her head as she suddenly realized that what she’d done was not on the list of okay things for her to do. She looked at me and said, “I don’t know. I’m sorry.” Then she hung her head and just stood there.

I picked her up and held her a minute. I told her (again, not yelling out loud) that she shouldn’t have done that and that she should never do it again. I patted her some more and then had the wrestling match in my mind. Inside I’m screaming, but I’m also having this conversation with myself that sounds rational to me: Is Millie worth more than $800 to you? Is her relationship worth more than $800 to you? Yes? Then don’t make a bigger deal out of this than necessary. Yes, I seriously had to tell that to myself.

Because I wouldn’t really lose my brain for normal 3-year-old misbehavior and I couldn’t let the value of the misbehaved-on item dictate whether or not I was going to become more angry this time.

So I sighed. I hugged her again. I said I was disappointed she did it, but that she was more important to me than the couch and that I forgive her. Then I put her down and we went on with the day, heads no longer hanging.

I Should Have Listened to My Instincts

This assignment I’m working on, yes this measly little 4-minute lecture assignment is the one that struck fear and trembling in my heart the first night of class when I found out about it. I *almost* switched my status in the class from credit to audit because of it. But for some reason I didn’t and I’m really second guessing that now.

I’m not typing this all up to get a comment box full of, “You can do it!” or “You’re not as bad as you think.” or “It’s just 4 minutes.” or “The professors are really nice, you know.” I know I can do it. I know it’s just 4 minutes. I know the professors are nice. But trust me on this: I really am as bad as I think. I have never been skilled at the art of public speaking. I took speech class my first semester of college. It was a 7am Tuesday, Thursday class and it actually made me physically ill. I had never had hives before that class but I discovered what they looked like that semester because I came down with them before my end-of-the-semester speech. I stunk.

I still stink. I don’t present well. I don’t process thoughts on-the-go well. I don’t memorize content and then flow it out conversationally well. I stutter. I stammer. I pause. I turn red, and I’m talking fresh tomato red. I hate, hate, hate it. I write my thoughts. That’s how I process. That’s how I communicate.

I would so like to just post my content here and send a link through the class email system. So wish I could do that. As it is, I’ve now got to try (again) to sound like I know what I’m talking about and sound like I’m not afraid of the whole world for saying it.

This is why you will never find me on the public lecture circuit. I would rather have my tongue pierced.

Effects of the Fall

Maddie had her 8 year old well-check exam this week and her vision came in at 20/40. I knew this day would come, after all Craig and I both wear glasses, but I thought the decline might have started a bit later. I guess come to think of it my own vision could very well have started going downhill around this age as well, though it didn’t become noticeable to others (ie: my sixth grade science teacher) until I was 12.

She goes to see a real eye doctor later on in March and she’s cool about it. She said, “I don’t mind if I have to wear glasses, Mom.” And I know she won’t. Not for the first three days or so, but once it becomes a have-to, when you don’t get to choose anymore, she might not be so amiable. But those days might not come for a bit still yet, as I don’t know if they give glasses for just a 20/40 or not, so she may still have a choice here. Once you get to 20/400, ahem, you don’t have the option anymore.


Thanks to Geography Songs, we’ve learned the continents and oceans, the countries of Western Europe and now the Middle East. I can locate on a map where Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Monaco, and Germany are.

This is no small feat for me, I assure you. I was sadly unaware of the existence of either Luxembourg or Liechtenstein before last week…

What’s funnier is that Millie, the 3 year old, has been going around singing the continents and oceans song. She has no idea what it means, but she’s got the continents down now.

This is what I’ve been waiting for. That education I didn’t seem to get the first time around…


This homemaker thing takes a lot more work than it looks. When we moved, I called it a reset button, which of course, it was. It was a restart for a lot of things, none the least of which was to make seminary a part of our existing lives and not our entire lives, which is the way it felt (to me) when we lived on-campus. I’m actually enjoying seminary life more now that we’re not surrounded by it all the time and have been going to chapel on Friday mornings with the older two while the younger two are in Mom’s Morning Out there on campus. I had always dreamed of going to chapel in the months leading up to our move to seminary, but then once we lived there it never sounded like a good idea. Anyway, I’m getting off-topic.

So that was the good reset. The bad reset is that our schedule and routine got all out out of whack from the second Craig said the word, “move.” And that lack of schedule and routine has led to any number of frustrations and discontent in all of us including making me seriously wonder (again) if we should go ahead and put the girls in school. It just wasn’t working.

So last Tuesday I took a significant amount of time and actually planned out what I wanted to cover each day. I’d been relying on the Sonlight teacher’s manual for most of my daily direction, but that wasn’t working because if we were running behind I’d just mentally say, “oh well, we’ll just have to skip _______ and ________.” With my new plan, I can see what much or more importantly, how little we still have left to cover that day. It isn’t that we weren’t doing stuff before, but there was nothing for me to check off and thus my feeling of not completing enough, which consequently led to my thinking I was stinking as a teacher. For the last week I’ve had four sheets of paper for each day: Maddie’s individual things, Chloe’s individual things, Katie and Millie’s few little things that are usually the first to get scrapped when I don’t have them planned out, and the things we all do together (which really means Maddie and Chloe do together). It’s been amazing. I have concrete goals to meet and when I do need to sweep or fold some laundry or take a shower, I have concrete goals for the girls to work on by themselves which they can already see on their sheets. They like checking things off too, so this is a win-win.

So whew! One reset has officially been re-reset and that feels good. Now the next area? Menu planning. I can’t remember the last time I made a two-week menu plan for our family. And the lack of knowing what we’d be having contributed to another major level of stress for us. So, one week into being organized for school, I finally got reorganized with our meals. It’s amazing how something so simple as that plan has relieved so much chaos in my mind and life. It was great to simply look at the fridge door last night and notice that I needed to pull out some ground beef for the meal I had planned for tonight. I already know and that is so amazing.

So whew! Two resets have officially be re-reset. And that really really feels good. Hopefully by next week I will be ready to reset our cleaning routine because man, does that need some serious attention. Until then, I’m happy with the goals I’ve accomplished thus far. If I can keep on top of those I will feel like I’ve met with some success.

And so my blogging has been light, but it’s been for good reason. I’ve been attending to things that I say are my priority. I’m actually starting to act like they are again.