Anyone Want a Cookie?

Because I made about three million of them tonight.

Cookies!

Mommy Madness Goes Grocery Shopping

The second “mommy mission” Chevy sent the Mom Squad on involved grocery shopping. They sweetened the deal by giving us each $150 towards the purchase of said groceries. I’m here to tell you: $150 is certainly nice and absolutely appreciated, but if you want to really see what the 2010 Traverse can hold, it takes a whole lot more than $150. It takes a major monthly grocery trip.

There are times I’m much better about meal planning than others. When I know I’m about to enter a really busy season for our family, I take out a three-month subscription to e-Mealz. I’m cheap enough to not subscribe year round; I store the weekly plans on my computer so I can use them again. But sometimes one needs a bit of variety, so I recently did it again for another round of menu planning help.

For my mommy mission, I printed off two weeks’ worth of menus and added all the other things I needed to the back of my list. When I do a MAJOR shop like this, I usually don’t take all four of my kids because…well…because they end up acting like crazy monkeys before the shopping trip is over and one of us ends up causing a scene (I won’t tell you which one of us, but it is rarely me…ahem). Also, my van would never hold all four children AND all the groceries a major monthly trip requires.

So we did the shop. It took three grocery carts. And then we filled up the Traverse. And we filled and we filled and we filled. And you know what? I’m not saying this because I’m trying to be nice to Chevy (take that, St. Louis Post-Dispatch), but I’m really digging the hauling capacity of this car. I love that the third row splits so you can either put the entire row down, or you could just put one seat down, or you could put two seats down, but still keep one up. I think that is pretty brilliant. I could have taken all four daughters today because I totally could have fit them all in this car with all these groceries.

But I’ll tell you: this car isn’t quite perfect. For instance, if the Traverse had gone ahead and unloaded the groceries and put them all away for me, then it would be worthy of the title Perfect Car.

As it is, I have a husband for that.

Pseudo Fall Break

This is our eleventh week of school for this school year. When I planned our weeks out, I planned the first ten, thinking week 11 would be a catch-up kind of week. I had no idea then how badly I would need that now (or maybe I really did because I’ve always been that way, and it is hard-wired into the deep recesses of my brain).

Anyway, we’re finishing up one book (Miracles on Maple Hill) for Sonlight 3/4 and the last remaining chapters of the history workbook. I keep intending to do their IEW lesson for the week (but still haven’t yet), and we need to read up on science. Other than that, we’re free.

And I’m cleaning. Well, I’m intending to. Yesterday we spent the better part of the morning picking up a hog and 18 chickens:


After that whole episode, we didn’t get a whole lot of anything else done. Today, though, I did manage to check several things off my to-do list: the kitchen looks great (though I accidentally broke my desk today – long story); the dining room/school room also got some much needed attention today, and I folded about a thousand loads of laundry. Okay, so I folded five. Check, check, check.

Still, though, I’m feeling burdened. The list of what I need to do just seems to keep growing the more I check off. It’s like I’m running after it checking things off and adding things to it and I’m tired.

Tomorrow we start again, this time with a clean(er) house, but still with low intentions for school and little on the schedule. Maybe tomorrow will feel more like an actual break.

Mommy Madness Goes to Pumpkin Land

Pumpkin Land

Yesterday, Chevy had the entire Mom Squad come to Thies Farm in
Maryland Heights for a couple of hours. Their mission? To show off the
new 2010 Traverse and Equinox vehicles. Our mission? Play like crazy
for a couple of hours and load up $100 worth of goodies (all courtesy
of Thies Farm) to take to a charity of our choice.

This was a super mission to send us on: my kids loved every single minute at Pumpkin Land, and I really enjoyed spending $100 of someone else’s money on behalf of a cause I am really excited about.

$100 worth of pumpkin goodness for Joe's Place

After we left Pumpkin Land, we headed to Joe’s Place in Maplewood.

What is Joe’s Place? Good question. The simple answer – the one I gave to my six-year-old – is that it’s a home for high school boys who really have no place to live. A more detailed answer is on their website:

Joe’s Place is an innovative idea born from a dramatic need in our community. Each year close to a dozen MRH high school students find themselves virtually without a home due to serious family difficulties. These students sleep and eat wherever friends will let them settle for a while.

As the MRH School District struggles to find a safe haven for these youngsters, we find again and again that teens between the ages of 16 and 18 have few support nets in our social welfare system.

Joe’s Place offers a small group of teenage boys what every kid should be able to expect from life: a warm place to sleep, regular meals, and someone to provide guidance and affection.

In short, Joe’s Place provides a family for a few boys who desperately need one – and the effort is working. Need more proof? Watch this video:

When I emailed the couple who serve as house parents to these boys (as well as a very cute little one of their own) to ask them if this would be something they would be interested in (I wasn’t sure if high school boys would be into the pumpkin thing or not), Alyssa responded with, “The boys haven’t always had the best of holiday celebrations, so we try to do everything to the extreme… like making sure they decorate pumpkins. Your e-mail made me want to cry! Thank you so much!”

Thanks to Chevy and Thies Farm, I was able to pick up some pumpkins and other fun fall items for these boys’ very first experience with carving pumpkins and celebrating the fall season. Alyssa just sent me these amazing photos (you can see more of her photo work here) of the boys of Joe’s Place and their pumpkin creations:

Scraping out the pumpkin guts:

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Designing the faces:

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And the finished products:

4Pumpkins

I’m so happy this special family got to have this super fun experience! Thanks, Chevy and Thies Farm, for making it happen!

Joe’s Place is donation supported. To learn more about getting involved in this amazing community endeavor, visit this page. Some practical needs the house always has are towels, wash clothes, twin size sheets, pillows, and laundry detergent. If you would like to get involved in helping out these boys, email them at info [at] joesplacestl [dot] org.

Hymnology 101

Sometimes, a hymn will get my spiritual attention like nothing else will. Today:

When I survey the wondrous cross
on which the Prince of Glory died;
my richest gain I count but loss,
and pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
save in the death of Christ, my God;
all the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to his blood.

See, from his head, his hands, his feet,
sorrow and love flow mingled down.
Did e'er such love and sorrow meet,
or thorns compose so rich a crown.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
that were an offering far too small;
love so amazing, so divine,
demands my soul, my life, my all.

I heard it. Loudly and clearly. I have a lot of vain things that have been charming me lately. Oh, that love so amazing, so divine, would truly demand my soul, my life, my all.

I allow a lot of other things to demand my soul, my life, my all. I'm not sure how much of it is driven by that love so amazing, so divine.

Still thinking. Hopefully now praying.

Night.

Truth in Advertising

My new ride is really tons of fun. But nothing is perfect, right? Perhaps I’m even drawn to the imperfections in others because it gives me hope for my own self. I’m thinking a little bit more about that today here at WORLDMag.com.

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For the past week and the next three, I’m participating in a promotion Chevrolet is doing in the St. Louis area. The company asked six local “mommy bloggers” to test-drive either the new Traverse or Equinox and blog (and video log) our experiences for them here. It’s called the “Mommy Madness” campaign.

It’s been fun so far. I’m definitely enjoying the new ride (our own van has 198,000 miles on it, and let’s just say that new car smell is gone), and I’m even getting handy with the Flip video camera Chevy gave me to record everything I do with it.

Oh, and I’ve also discovered that talking into a handheld camera is semi-therapeutic—a perk, if you will (and cheaper than an actual psychiatrist).

I’m doing my best to present my experiences in as good a light as possible for Chevy, but I confess there are some things I’ve thought twice about before blogging about them. Granted, they’re not big things (as you can see in the videos below, I had trouble figuring out how to open the gas cap and have had continual problems with the OnStar service), but I recognize there’s a part of me that wants to be careful so no one comes and hauls my (temporary) ride away too soon.

Megan Dunham: This was totally my own fault. from The Dunhams on Vimeo.


This got me thinking: If someone goes on and on and on about how they have it all together—how their homes are perfectly kept 100 percent of the time, how their children embody the essence of the fruits of the Spirit, how they never get to week three of a four-week budget and stress about how they are doing to make it that last week—that really doesn’t help me. Sure, I try to be happy for others when good things happen to them or when things are going well, but I know there’s more to life than just the good stuff.

I find I am most encouraged by others who are honest about the same road I’m riding on—for instance, the homeschooling mama who has seriously wondered if her children wouldn’t be better off learning in school after all because then they wouldn’t argue as much, another mama who understands how debilitating stacks of laundry and dishes can be, and yet another mommy who, just yesterday, experienced the same internal meltdown I experienced today.

These conversations—all actual ones I’ve had in the past week—are the things that build me up as a struggling homeschooler, mother, and wife. I don’t want to see perfection; I need to see imperfections redeemed. In other words, I need to know other mommies’ OnStar buttons sometimes work as little as the one in my new test-drive Chevy Traverse.

I need to see grace worked out in real lives, not test-drives. I’ve got plenty of “mommy madness” to go around; sometimes I need to know there are other mommies on the road.

No Longer a Walmart Rubbernecker

I must confess: I've had People of Walmart in my Google reader for several months now. And honestly? It is joking hilarious.

But tonight I unsubscribed. Here's why. I've found myself looking for examples whenever I go shopping. Granted, I don't go very much, but I can always find at least one. And I always wish I had my camera with me so I could document it.

The first time I had this thought it was followed by immediate shame. Sure, those people are doing this to themselves, but how in the world am I valuing them as people made in the image of God (albeit, a very unusual side of Him) by glorying in their weakness?

I'm not. And also honestly? One of these days I'm afraid I'm going to see myself on that site. My photo will be the one in which I'm bending over checking out the price difference between the Charmin 24 double pack or the Quilted Northern double 12 times 2 for extra softness pack. Or something. There is a price difference of, like, $0.86, but I never compared actual square footage. Who has time anyway?

All that to say that when I came home tonight and scrolled through my Google reader, I came across a slew of posts on People of Walmart. I looked at one…and then I said to myself, "I can't do this anymore."

I clicked unsubscribe and I don't intend to go back.

Sometimes you can't help looking at a train wreck when you drive past. But if you go another way you are guaranteed not to see it. That's what I mean to do from now on. Go the other way.

Another Cat Story

Granted, it isn’t nearly as good as the original cat story, but it’s still a story involving unintentional cat encounters. I posted it here on Chevy’s Mommy Madness STL site.

I also have another riveting video in which I can’t for the life of me figure out how to open the door to the gas tank to fill it up.

I think I’ve discovered that carrying around a little flip video camera and talking into it is sort of therapeutic. I never quite realized just how much I actually do talk to myself until I started recording it. I’m almost certifiably insane.

Have a good Monday!

Megan Dunham: This was totally my own fault. from The Dunhams on Vimeo.

Cool Cat

Yesterday morning I joined about 25 ladies from my church
for brunch at Miss Aimee B’s Tea Room in St. Charles. Knowing ahead of time
that I would have this super clean vehicle that seats eight, I volunteered to
drive the carpool from Maplewood.

Knowing my propensity to get lost driving across the street
anywhere I go, I tried turning on my On-Star service this morning, but it still
hasn’t been activated yet. I’m so glad I wasn’t in some life threatening
situation or something. Those people want some kind of signature signed in
order to help you out give proper directions. I’m working on that one next.

I do have one of those Tom Tom things, but I can’t find the
cord that plugs into the car lighter. This is because I can’t use that cord in
my van. If I do, the entire front panel fuse blows out and that just makes for
some frustrating driving. We learned back in 2002 not to do that anymore. And
we haven’t for seven years now.

Do I have a point? Yes. Here it is: I printed a google map
instead.

There were so many ladies who showed up to carpool I
couldn’t legally fit them all in my Traverse (though I’m certain they would
have fit in there if we could get creative – I just know it). Two of us ended
up driving to St. Charles which left only seven in my Mom Ride.

Miss Aimee B's 2

We were doing swell all the way to St. Charles. It wasn’t
until pulling off of I70 that I got a teensy bit distracted while talking to my
friend in the front seat. I drove right past Miss Aimee B’s. Never fear,
though, I had five women in the back pipe up to let me know of my goof. Where
are those five women all the rest of the time I make this exact same mistake? I
want to know!

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We had a lovely brunch at Miss Aimee B’s (I highly recommend
it!). Then most of us congregated around my tricked-out ride to check out the
crazy wrap job all the great features. While they were checking it out, I ran
back in the tea room to find one of the gals riding with me. When I returned to
the car, one of my friends casually said, “Did you say this car seats eight?” I
replied with, “Sure does! Is someone else joining us for the ride home?” She
said, “Just the stray cat that jumped in the back ten seconds ago!”

Where is the flip video camera when you REALLY need it? I
couldn’t pull it out fast enough. The cat was in, it took a quick test drive
around Miss Aimee B’s, figured out the sound on the DVD player, and then left
before it had a chance to enlighten me. Drat, cat!

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This car is so cool, even all the crazy cats in town want a
piece of the action.