Saturday, September 24, 2011

52 Home Organization Projects - Week One

For my first project, I chose the area around my computer desk. I don't really have access to a camera to post picture, but I'm somewhat hesitant to post pics anyway ... because y'all might find out that I've snuck into this class and really should be in the class for the domesically inept.

On Friday, 9/23, I cleared off the top part of the desk. Well almost. There is a flat-screen monitor left over from when I had a desktop computer. The computer itself is friend, but the screen is still good...and we really have no othe place to put this and the other bits and pieces of equipment from various computers we've had over the years. Oh wait, DH has a's called the front porch. *sigh* But that's on my list too, so eventually it will all work out. Empty to partially-full cans of soda, a cup or two, an empty cup-o-ramen (my kids seem to think this is a drop off point for stuff that really should go to the kitchen, but they want to get back to whatever game system they're on before one of their siblings usurps them). There was a plastic wrapper and the little plastic tie-thingie that comes off a loaf of bread. So the monitor is still there, as is the little bread-tie. And I think I'm breathing a little easier now that most of the crap is gone.

The only thing now is that since the clutter is virtually gone, I can see the sorry state of the desk. It is one of those DIY desk kits from WalMart and the black finish on the top of the desk is wearing off, specially where my mouse arm rests. The strip covering the particle board on the sides has been long since stripped off. I've got to come up with a plan as to how to make the desk look better. I will at least come up with a plan for that this week and either complete it, or schedule it in for later.

One thing...this is a post-in-progress and will receive several updates before it is actually "done".

Friday, September 23, 2011

Taking the Pledge - Day Four

This marks my fifth day of "The Mom Pledge:

Also my first week of participation in:


I invite anyone reading to join me in either of both groups, accessible by handy dandy links and/or buttons. :O)


I am a born care-taker, as evidenced by advocating for my children when they were in public school. Also the best 'outside of the home' job I ever had was assisting adults with mental retardation and/or developmental disabilities learn/improve ADL's (activities of daily living) and social skills that most of us take for granted.

Like so many people, I find it easier to stand up for the people about whom I care, rather than for myself...but I'm working on that one!

When my oldest son, now 14 was in public school, both he and his parents came up against bullying of one sort or another. DS1 had been suggested as having either ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or possibly Asperger's Syndrome. He spent most of his day in the 'regular' classroom, but some time in a smaller room with only 3-4 other children for certain subjects. In the main classroom, his teachers normally separated his desk from the other children and sometimes had dividers up ... to cut down on things that might distract him. That, coupled with his seeming inability to recognize the amount of personal space needed by other children, often made him a target for teasing or bullying.

The straw that broke the camel's back for us was in the week before the last week of school, four of his 8-year-old classmates surrounded him on a piece of playground equipment and pulled his pants down, showing...everything. He pulled his pants back up. These boys did the same thing two more times before there was any intervention. There were 3 teachers on the playground, who said none of them saw anything was wrong....but 3 classrooms of children apparently did.

Our son was removed from the classroom. The other boys (all of whom later admitted their actions) were not. We parents were not notified until several hours later, after the school had conducted an "investigation". Justifiably enraged, my husband went to school to collect our son and talk with the principal...who was "suddenly called away", and he spoke with the vice-principal.

The school was engaged in state-mandated testing that week, and so the other boys were not suspended, or even given detention of any sort. The school wanted the money and pats on the back from the government for having a greater percentage of their students taking the tests.

As relatively little action was taken by the school for what was, in my mind, a sexually-oriented assault on our son, we went to the FWISD (Fort Worth Indepndent School District), who apparently contacted the school ... because the next day, the principal was "available" to meet. I was working days at the time, so DH handled the meeting for us. When he entered the principal's office, she apparently said something to the effect of, "How dare you go over my head to the district." The nerve! Things went downhill from there. I remember saying to my husband when he called me at work that we had better watch ourselves, because I felt the school would take retaliatory action.

The next week, as President of the school's PTA, myself, my husband and our daughter (about 2 at the time) went to assist with the school's "Field Day", passing out popcorn and drinks to the students. We were there for hours and all had a good time, boys included (the son in this story and DS2, who was in 1st grade at the time).

About an hour after we got home from the school, there was a knock on the door. Who do you think it was? The (not-so) friendly CPS (Child Protective Services) agent, wanting to come into our apartment because she had received a report that DS1 had "exposed himself" on the playground. We gave her the facts, including our belief that the report was retaliatory on the part of the school, which she wrote down, in the middle of trying to threaten us to be allowed into the apartment. (As we had been investigating homeschooling for some time, and had talked on several occasions to the HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association - by the way, that organization ROCKS!), we knew that we were within our rights to deny her entrance. Not even the police could enter our home without just cause and/or a warrant.

We had actually been on our way out the door, but she refused to leave until she had spoken to each of the boys individually and without our presence. Well, DS1 was savvy enough even at that young age to understand the ramifications of what this woman's presence meant, and we had to peel him off my leg as he had sat down on the floor and wrapped himself around me. He did not want to talk to the woman, a sentiment which he came up with on his own. DH came up with a workable solution, that DS1 and the CPS agent would sit at the top of the stairs and we would be by the car, but our son would still be able to see us.

That summer we moved to Kentucky. How the CPS agent found my husband's grandmother's phone number I'll never know, but she called Mamaw, lied and said she was a friend of ours and wheedled our phone number out of the woman. But nothing ever came of it, because we were not in the wrong in that situation. It still burns the you-know-what out of me, though, and this has been six years ago.

So, I know a little about the effects of bullying and I will not stand for it.

Online, or cyber-bullying can be just as awful. While I have not (that I can remember) been a target yet, I have seen it go on and have seen what it can do to people. The news headlines have elaborated on how cyber-bullying can even be deadly.

So, if someone comes into my online "house" intent on being a troll, I will ask them, nicely, to leave. If they will not, I offer them some friendly and honestly well-meaning advice direcly from the Boy Scout motto ... be prepared.

52 Home Organization Projects

I've been reading Laura's "I'm an Organizing Junkie" blog for a while now, in part because my own organizing desires are lightyears ahead of my organizing skills. Ugh. A link from her post today lead me to this umbrella project:

So, without further ado, here is my list:

1. my computer desk
2. DH's computer table
3. couch area in living room
4. outer wall in living room
5. inner wall in living room
6. refrigerator
7. over the counter kitchen cabinets
8. under the counter kitchen cabinets
9. kitchen table
10. laundry area
11. linen closet
12. medicine cabinets
13. sink area in bathroom
14. shower area in bathroom
15. hallway
16. closet in boys' room
17. bed area in boys' room
18. couch area in boys' room
19. media area in boys' room
20. bed area in girl's room
21. dresser in girl's room
22. media area in girl's room
23. closet in my bedroom
24. bed area in my bedroom
25. media area in my bedroom
26. back porch
27. front porch
28. menu plans
29. family budget
30. childrens' budgets
31. chore charts
32. review/revamp homeschooling plans
33. extended family birthday (etc) calender
34. family volunteer projects
35. individual volunteer projects
36. time schedule for my business
37. time schedule for my blogging
38. time schedule for my Facebook addiction.
39. recording family history
40. me time
41. garden plan for 2012
42. pest-proofing the home
43. quality time with DH.
44. quality time with DS1.
45. quality time with DS2.
46. quality time with DD.
47. learn a new skill
48. community project
49. family recycling plan.
50. family vacation plan.
51. community activism plan.
52. kitchen counters.

I reserve the right to modify the above list as necessary. :O)

This is also my entry for this weeks Friendly Friday Blog Hop:

Go and visit some of the other bloggers and share your info!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

CountDown to the BIG 50!

On October 2nd of this year (that's 10 days away folks) I will turn 50 years old. When I was young, I had trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that I would be 39 in the year 2000. Remember how "Y2K" was such a big event before New Year's Day and, dangitall, the earth didn't grind to a halt? Back then 39 seemed awfully old. (Like Radar in M*A*S*H said once, "I'll be in my 30's...THAT'S ALMOST DEAD!" *rofl*

I'm also entering this post in the following blog hop:

Isn't that a great graphic? The thought that popped into my head was that I haven't been that skinny since puberty hit. Anyway there are other great posts on the hop so go check it out

And easy division to make would be to cover 10 years in a post...and I'm all over easy these days. So, here goes:

I was born in Monaca, PA, USA, which if I remember correctly is about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh, in 1961. The only thing I remember about that place is visiting there with my family at some point before I turned 10. It seemed to be one of those teeny-weenie towns that you miss if you blink. Before my first birthday, my family moved to Cumberland, MD, where we lived until January 1972.

There are still a few scattered memories from those years. I remember sitting on the couch at some point before my 2nd birthday, my father kneeling in front of the couch with his forearms resting on the couch and my brother (then 2-3 yo) riding piggy-back. I suppose I remember that because there is a picture in the family photo album. I have kind of inherited that role of family memory-keeper as both my parents have passed on and it's just not a priority to my brother. I also remember my 2nd birthday party, because I got on of those pull-along phones where the eyes roll up and down as you walk. There's a picture of that too, with me holding the receiver out to my mother because it was for her.

Other memories, in random order, because I'm just trying to get them down for now (organization comes later), so I can free up brain power to remember other things ... like where I put my keys, last week, and my kids names ... stuff like that:

Being paired up with the neighbor boy (in a kind of "ooh, aren't they cute together" sort of way that moms have (and that seems totally reasonable to

Losing control of my tricycle going down the hill by our house and crashing into the neighbor's yard at the end of the block.

Being hustled downstairs in the middle of the night with my brother, by our father, and hearing our mother upstairs screaming in pain. She went to the hospital that night. She never would talk about it later, except for to say that the doctors had deemed surgery necessary for her survival one weekend, and no surgery because "it was gone" early the next.

I remember being invited by a family friend to go swimming at their country club (not that we were well off by any means, but that's not the point. Walking up to the ramp to the clubhouse, there was a sign by the door, "No Catholics allowed." Even then, if I had known what "WTF" meant I probably would have thought it. I wouldn't dare saying it out loud, because no sooner had those words left my lips but I would be over my mother's knee.

Not all the memories were bad, though, and this list is FAR from exhaustive.

When my 5th grade teacher, Miss Shaner, found out that we were moving, she had each of my classmates write a story about my soon-to-pass adventures in the "wild west". (My father's company transferred him from MD to UT.) One story that sticks out had me saving my older brother from disaster at the bottom of the Grand Canyon! Ahhh, I was a super kid!

My mother was born in Switzerland, and met my father at the University of West Virginia in Morgantown, where she was a nanny for a local prominent family. In the summer of 1971 we were fortunate enough to travel to see her homeland, with a stopover in England to visit her brother and family, who were living there at the time.

My mother and I were outside Buckingham Palace one morning watching the Changing of the Guards. There was a large crowd and it was difficult to negotiate the sea of people and meet up with my dad and brother at our next destination. Mom said I just took her hand and followed a "bunch of hippies" that were passing through easily. That memory makes me smile.

My brother and I participated in the "Erste August" (1st of August) lampion (paper lantern) parade in Bern, Switzerland's capital. At the end of the parade, each child got a gingery cake-let with a picture of a bear on it. We were sitting at an outside cafe afterwards, when the father in the family friends with whom we were staying came up with a 2nd cake for my brother and me. He told the folks he had two children visiting from the US and he didn't think we had gotten our cakes yet.

On that visit to Switzerland, I discovered my taste for "Vivi-Cola" and "OvoSport". OvoSport is kind of like pressed bars of ovaltine...that's the best I can describe it anyway. Another memory from that time (which literally just popped back into the foreground of my mind after how many years gone) was in a cafe in a mountain village, my brother ordered a Coke float and the waitress, nor indeed any of the staff, and any clue as to what he was talking about. So he explained you put ice cream and Coke together in a glass. So they brought out a mug of Coke and a small dish of ice cream. If that village had had a newspaper I'm sure it would have made front-page news when my brother scandalized the locals by placing the ice cream in the soda!

We went to Washington DC on vacation at one point. There is a picture of my brother and me, standing in front of some building with dark glasses on. I call that our "FBI Agents" picture. We visited the Smithsonian where he was all about planes, trains and automobiles and I was all about the Hope Diamond, the First Ladies' inaugural dresses and Dorothy's Ruby Slippers.

All of a sudden, 10 years seems an awful lot of ground to cover in one blog post. But dates are a little fuzzy without memory prompts and goodness knows I don't want anyone's coffee spilling on their keyboard because they have fallen asleep on me! *lol*

Years 11-20 will probably show up tomorrow or the day after. I'm currently working on another blog series about "The Mom Pledge"...just in case you are interested, it starts here. I'm also going to link those posts together, which is something new for me. Heck, writing four blog posts in a month is something I haven't done in my life isn't over yet!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Taking the Pledge - Day Three

Found the Marbles

This marks day 3 of my adoption of "The Mom Pledge" and my first experience with The Thoughtful Thursday Blog Hop. And providence dropped a secondary topic of "should restaurants be allowed to accept food stamps" in my lap when I came across this post on the BlogHer site.

From the Mom Pledge

"I believe a healthy dialogue on important issues is a good thing. I will welcome differing opinions when offered in a respectful, non-judgmental manner. And will treat those who do so in kind."

I so liked the comment I left on that blog that I was just going to copy and paste, only to find out that the blog's comments are moderated and it disappeared once I hit "send". (Can you hear me groaning now?)

The writer of that blog - "Headmistress, zookeeper" as she is known in the comments - has very strong opinions on most subjects. Many of the people commenting did, too. These are not the kind of people with whom I tend to hang out. But in general, I do not judge people for their opinions, even when I disagree. The debate there was at once lively, interesting, and at times a little distressing. But I am better-informed for having gone and read the post and comments.

Hunger is an important issue. If you have experience real hunger (as opposed to hunger from dieting) ... you know it sucks. Well, hunger from dieting isn't much better, but at least you have a positive outcome (better health) waiting at the end of that tunnel. But using SNAP benefits (food stamps) at restaurants? Even as someone whose family current receives SNAP (another story for another day), I cannot see how in the vast majority of cases this would provide real benefit to anyone other than the restaurant industry. I'm sure times are tough for restaurateurs too, but SNAP is intended to ensure low-income individuals and families have enough food to ... survive.

Please...let me know what you think, whether or not you agree with my opinion. Let's work ... together ... to figure this out and our world (or our little corner of it) a better place.

Taking the Pledge - Day Two

(Subtitle: Exposure 99% - Week 1)

This post marks the 2nd day of my exploration of what "The Mom Pledge" means to me and my first week participating in the "Exposure 99% Weekday Hop". I love blog hops and the people that host them...what a great way to support other bloggers. So, kudos today to MayMay of "onemomentintime" blog and Nina of "bitsandbobsblog" for hosting the weekday hop!

On with the show....

To quote from the Mom Pledge:

"I pledge to treat my fellow moms with respect. I will acknowledge that there is no one, "right" way to be a good Mom. Each woman makes the choices best for her family."

I used to worry... a lot ... about what other people thought about me. To be frank, I wasted a lot of time and imbued what was left with unnecessary misery. I could tell you my philosophy on the subject now, or I could direct you to Montgomery Gentry's song "What Do You Think About That"...either way would work, but if I just tell you, you would miss a great song and video, and that wouldn't do.

I don't agree with everybody and I don't expect everyone to have the same opinion I do. The internet has exponentially increased our exposure to people with sometimes widely divergent points-of-view. Luckily we don't have to agree on everything (or even anything) to have a cup of coffee together or for you to be welcome at a Sunday bbq...although if I were you, I would make sure my husband was cooking that day! *lol*

We homeschool our children. In our early days, not many people supported our decision. Family members, especially, it seems were worried that the kids would suffer in terms of their education and socialization. Several even threatened to report us to child protection authorities. But it is hard to argue with a 14 year old who devours Scientific American magazine and can converse intelligently on what he reads, a 13 year old (with sensory processing issues) who has blossomed under individual attention, and an 8 year old who loves math and reads her older brothers' books. (Do I sound like a proud mom? You bet I do!) But I don't judge or fault anyone who sends their child/ren to public school.

We are a family of meat-eaters (I can hear my daughter say, "That's carnivores, Mom.") Do I judge crunchy veggie moms? No. In fact, I would love some tips on how to sneak more fresh fruit and veggies into my family's menu plan!

I've lived most of my life in cities (Salt Lake City, Utah and Fort Worth, Texas). And while I loved the theatre (my spelling of choice) and arts organizations available and some of the other amenities provided by a larger location, I am a small-town, country girl at heart. I can't imagine living any closer to a big city than we do right now (about 70 miles away).

So, while I may have a different viewpoint than you, I will not "judge" you on that difference. In my opinion, we are not supposed to be carbon copies of each other, a lesson which I learned from the "Tower of Babel" story in the Bible (whether you believe in a literal interpretation or not, or your religion or lack thereof).

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Taking the Pledge

Yesterday I was reading some blogs, when I came upon a link for Becoming SuperMommy. The post, "Auntie Lea's Home for Wayward Orphans" was so good that I had to comment. Then I went poking around at the links on the page and saw one about "The Mom Pledge". (They have a link over there to the left, so I won't add it in again here.)

Shortly after my daughter was born in 2003, I found an online "mommunity" (can I claim inventing that word?) called "Maya's Mom" and met many wonderful ladies in all stages of mommiehood - TTC to moms of adult children. It was an online home; I think my homepage was even set to Maya's Mom. Time passed and Maya's Mom was bought by/sold to, and the separate Maya's mom site was no more. We "refugees" sought each other out on Facebook and MySpace. Quite a number of us still stay in contact, such was the close-knittedness of our group. I had not found its like since.

Until yesterday, that is. According to the site,

"The Mom Pledge is about women standing up, speaking out, and coming together to eradicate online bullying among moms. The time has come for us to take the power back and own this issue."

How cool is that? So, last night, I proudly became blog#395 in The Mom Pledge Community.

So, how to express what this pledge means to me? I thought I would take one principle per day (or maybe per post would be a better way of putting it, seeing as my motivation has been tremendously cyclic this year) and elaborating a little.

I am proud to be a mom.

Most of my life, I've allowed people to tell me I'm not good enough, I don't do know the drill.

When I was a young child, I saw an advertisement in the local newspaper for one of those "little miss" pageants. I went to my mother and told her I wanted to enter. She said something like, "So many girls enter and only one can win." What I heard was, "You're not good enough." (Although in retrospect, after choking through a couple episodes of "Toddlers and Tiaras", I think my mother did me a HUGE favor!) I hope that's not a generalization of pageant moms. I just have trouble with spending hundreds of dollars on costumes and teeth straighteners etc etc etc, that give little girls the idea that they are not "enough" in and of themselves.

When I entered college, I was a musical theatre major. I was so painfully introverted that I could not audition for shows...which was a definite drawback in that profession. At the end of the first year, I had to present a scene with a partner, and depending on the reviews from the professors, I would proceed or not in the program. My partner was a second-year student and at her audition (a week or so before mine) one of the professors said, "Let's just make this your audition as well." Needless to say, it went well for her and not so well for me. (But to be painfully honest, another week or so probably wouldn't have made much difference.) If I remember correctly, one professor wrote, "Should find something else to do. Has no future in theatre."

So I changed my major to business, which thrilled my mother as she thought musical theatre was waste of time.

Ten years and several jobs later (none of which were using my 'full potential' apparently), I went back to college (at a small, private instution, rather than the big state university) majoring in finance. One day I saw an audition notice for the campus production of "The Importance of Being Earnest". I thought, "I should do that." Then I saw that the final auditions were that afternoon. Immediately reasons flooded my brain as to why I 'couldn't' time to prepare, too much competition, no future in theatre..."

Thank goodness I went anyway. I got the part of Lady Bracknell. For the next 5-6 years (until my oldest child was on the way), I did an average of 5 plays a year. There was only one musical, although I sang in several plays. One was an original play by Aden Ross, titled "Ladies Room", set in the ladies room in Caesar's Palace casino in Las Vegas. I was a housekeeper who sang Aretha Franklin songs while she worked. The first couple of weeks I would not sing in rehearsals. Finally, partly through the encouragement from (and the exasperation of?) my play-mates (that sounds vaguely bad, I think) I "sang". By the end of the run, I had no trouble singing in front of people, even at the local karaoke bar.

My oldest son (now 14) was born 5 months before his father and I got married. This was another "not good enough" on me, I guess. My mother said after the wedding, "I'm so happy I can finally introduce you as LuAnn, her husband, and their son." Although to be fair, she was a lot more supportive during the pregnancy than I had anticipated. She drove me to a couple of pre-natal appointments. Once, she sat in the outer office and prayed that I would come to realize that "all this medical intervention" was not necessary. (During the delivery my blood pressure ranged from 180/160 to 40/ I THANK GOD for our ob "Dr Robin" and all her medical intervention. My MIL flew in from California as soon as DH told her they were going to induce. She actually got to hold DS1 before I did, and I was pea-green with envy for years after that. (Now I'm just kind of wistful. *lol*) She took video and even the day after, I looked like the Michelin whole body was swollen because of the blood pressure problems during delivery.

Let me state that I am also proud of my son (and his siblings). I mean, how many kids can say they caught the garter at their parents' wedding? *lol*

During my life, I've been on the receiving end of enough bullying (online and off). Like many people, I have said, "That's one thing I'm NOT going to do when I have children."


...that's one thing I'm NOT going to do when I'm online. I choose to act with integrity on and off-line. I choose to be a good example to my children, friends and associates. I choose to extend an invitation to do the same to my family, friends and readers by joining me at "The Mom Pledge".

Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment and your blog address too!