Monday, December 15, 2008

Dr. Clive

Clive has set up a table in the hallway and is charging 25cents for questions. I heard him telling his brothers and sisters that you have to be really smart to set up a table like this.

The first questions posed to him was, "What is the best song in the world?"

Clive: Well, I can't tell you the best song in the world, but I can tell you that the best songs are by Elvis, especially the one about the Blue Shoes.

Then, Jacob set up a similar table asking 50 cents for questions about the United States, particularly the Mid-Atlantic, Southern, and New England ones because that's all he's covered so far in in Geography. He soon lowered his rates to 25 cents because Clive was still getting all the business.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Growth Charts

Nia was weighed at the pediatrician last December 2007. Since then, she has gained 22 pounds and grown 6 inches. I double checked the numbers. Staggering, huh? Good nutrition and a loving family, not to mention getting rid of pesky parasites, can cause a young girl to gain 22 pounds in one year. And growing 6 inches?? I have plants that don't grow like that even when they're eating Miracle Grow.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Welcome Back - Anyone

Welcome Back from ImprovEverywhere on Vimeo.

Funny, funny, funny. Everytime I come arrive at the Nashville airport I can't help but think of when we brought the girls home from China/Liberia. The love we felt from our friends and family who were at the airport, screaming/crying/yelling/cheering....was overwhelming. We are loved well by our friends.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Birthday Pics

Nia's friends brought their favorite doll for her Birthday Tea Party.

On the menu was triangle-shaped PBJ, cream-cheese sandwiches, and Fairy Fudge. We let the girls decorate their white cupcakes with M&Ms and sprinkles. The frosting was a big hit.
Next time I think I'll just frost some styrofoam balls and skip the cake.


Monday, November 10, 2008

It's Been A Year

A year ago, Matt and I were flying home from Liberia, West Africa, with our newest daughter, Nia. Looking back, the courage that it took her to leave with this white couple on an airplane must have tied her insides in knots. She didn't talk much then. Just nods or shakes. I remember when the plane took off from balmy Monrovia her knuckles were white from griping the arm rests. Same thing when she rode an escalator for the first time in Brussels.

I remember waking up on the plane to see her changing clothes (fully) at her seat beside me. No worries or concerns about anyone looking. I also remember her flushing a toilet and jumping back to make sure it didn't take her down, too. And the mounds of red pepper she would put on her food would make a grown man cry.

It's been a long, hard year for both Nia and our family. We've all had adjustments to make. Her tantrums are less frequent and don't last as long. After 9 months she finally started saying she loves me when I tuck her in. She says she's sorry and asks for forgiveness now. She's much more kind to her siblings and doesn't treat them like servants or enemies. For me, I've realized the depth of my anger is scary. I've learned to call on God daily, sometimes hourly, for help in raising this child He has entrusted to us. I've learned to get control of my anger more, to reach out and hug a child when everything in me wants to turn around and walk away because of her behavior.

Last winter Clive wanted to send Nia back because she really wasn't any fun, and was actually pretty mean to her siblings. Now he loves her and enjoys his time playing with her. In fact, they're pretty tight.

We're all still in process. It's still a long road ahead. But we're marking our first year with feelings of victory and progress.

The other day at Costo Nia was filling up our cups with water, you know the water button that's part of the lemonade button on those soda dispensers. Like when you get to do your own refill. Anyways, after she finished filling the cups, she promptly washed her hands under that same running water, right there next to the Sprite and Coke. Then shook the water off right there in the drain. The people behind us were speechless. I just prayed for her to say something loud in her accent so they'd have grace.

Some things haven't changed that much. :- )

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sleeping on the Job


Isn't this a great picture of what we all desire to do when work, parenting and life gets crazy? Rest, or in Isabel's case- knocked out. I wish I could do this everyday at work around 1:30pm. The funny thing with Isabel is this picture is not her true self. She and Angel had special mommy/daughter time yesterday, and Isabel talked for the first 45 min. Angel finally told Isabel to take a break from talking, and Isabel promptly said, "but mommy, I can't stop talking."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

When Clive Grows Up

When Clive (7.5 yrs) grows up, he wants to be any of the following:

1. Astronaut.
2. Baker.
3. Mailman.
4. Serve popcorn in a movie theater.
5. Own a fish store, as in pet fish.

I tried to add a picture, but had trouble uploading. See August 6, 2008 for a reference.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Sheppards, missionaries in Liberia

Friends,
Below is a link to a Wish List of items that our missionary friends, The Sheppards, in Liberia are requesting. This family took in our little Eva when she was 15 mths old and weighed only 9 lbs. They lovingly nursed her back to health and have continued to do the same with other children who needed extra care and could not go directly into the orphanage.

They have been in the US this past year raising more support and are headed back to Liberia in November. These are solid missionaries who have been doing kingdom work in West Africa for 20 years. Your donations would be put to good use if you feel God leading you to contribute to their work in Liberia.

http://dollardays.com/bmm-liberia/wishlist.html

~angel pregont

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Can't Sleep Without My Wife

Matt here at 1:30 am EST.

I'm in D.C. and can't sleep. It is hard to sleep alone without my wife. I'm blogging to let my lovely wife, Angel, know how much I miss her and love her. Hope you have a good morning.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Voter Registration

Angel here.

I'm sure you all have little stations set up in your community for Voter Registration this past week.

And I'm sure you've all seen the signs:

"Register to Vote Here"

"Deadline October 6"

"Felons can vote, too!" (they have this one in YOUR neighborhood, too, right?)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Mad Skills Part Deux

Another weekend of mad skills. This weekend I put together our closet system. It is so nice to be able to have order in our closet!!!

Women, does this score points with you? If your hubby organized your closet, would he earn points for this?



Saturday, October 04, 2008

Isn't it time for another one?

Matt here, again.

For some crazy reason 3 people asked me this week if we were going to adopt another kid. Two of three said, "isn't it about time for you and Angel to adopt another?" They were serious. It made me think about the last 5 years, really the last 6. We started considering adoption in 2002 when Angel had a miscarriage. We got pregnant with Hudson in April '02, and started interviewing agencies then. We also started the dreaded fundraising.

So, since 2002 until now we have either been preparing for an adoption, going to get a child, or bonding with the new child (granted, you never truly stop bonding).

No wonder co-workers who I've been working with over the last 6 years keep wondering when we are going to get our next child. I mean come one, aren't we all waiting to hear if Brad and Angelina are going to adopt or have another bio child!? Isabel and Jacob are conditioned that if daddy doesn't give them a kiss good night, then they can't fall asleep. Like Isabel and Jacob, my co-workers are conditioned that about every 2 years I will inform them that we are adopting.

A close friend of mine asked me about a month ago if we were done, and I said emphatically, "YES." He quickly stated that was the first time he'd ever heard me say that. Even after Eva, I wouldn't say we were done (guess I was right on that one because 2 years later we brought Nia home).

So, why are the Pregont's done adopting? Stay tuned for this week's blog topic of why we are done adopting.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mad Skills

Matt here.

This weekend I was showing a friend of ours, Delane, some work I did on the house. After seeing the hardwood floors I installed in our master closet (see below), she turned and said "Matt, man you have Mad Skills!"





One part of me was all bashful (aka self-shaming), thinking "oh, it was no big deal, I'm not as good as...." The other part of me, the new me that is trying to get out of my shell and LIVE, was saying "Damn right I've got Mad Skills!!"

So, let's take a look at the mad skills I've learned while rehabing this house:



  • I can demo a house (if I get lung cancer it is because of the plaster, and not the smoking I did in high school)

  • Don't give breakfast money up front to a crackhead that's working on your house (I think he's still eatn' at the Waffle House)

  • Don't have an open pit fire with 12 ft boards burn during the day, the fire fighters didn't like having to drive the truck in the alley and hose it down

  • I can plumb a house
  • I can install a tankless water heater (next time I won't need JMac's help)
  • I can install any fixture, light, sink or toilet known to man
  • Trim, not a problem - as long as you have a ton of caulk

  • Hanging a door is as easy as a politician spending my money

  • Siding is a piece of cake

  • Don't believe the tenant who lives upstairs is really smoking a cigar that just happens to smell like pot
  • Don't hire a painter who is off thier meds (can you believe he painted the outside of my house in the rain?!)

  • 40 ozers aren't that bad (if you understand this, go to AA tonight)

  • Matching the stain of a mantle and hanging the mantle (even if I procrastinated for about a month) isn't that hard

  • Thanks to Eloy Saban (Temp Control 615-586-2495), I can install electrical plugs and run wire
  • Don't leave two claw foot tubs in your back yard, they will get stolen. But if you do, get a homeless man to live in your house while you renovate- great security. Also, came to be a good friend.

  • Most important, I learned how to back-up my trailer with my big 'ol van
Mad Skills I taught my kids:
  • how to paint trim

  • how to cut back wires from the plastic coating

  • how to think ahead before you start a project (what you need, how you will do it, how to properly set-up your workspace, and how to keep safe)

  • why caulk is so important

  • how to start a fire in a 50 gallon drum!!!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Seven Things

I'm stealing this from Michelle Brown, my neighbor when we lived in Spring Hill, TN.

7 things I want to do before I die
1. Learn Spanish.
2. Have a Beach House.
3. Be a Grandma.
4. Have a fabulous sanctuary of a flower garden.
5. Own a bookstore.
6. Learn to watercolor.
7. Skydive.

7 things I can do
1. Bake great cookies.
2. Type really fast.
3. Connect people with other people who know the answers to their questions.
4. Homeschool 4 children, so far.
5. Get places on time with all the kids.
6. Dream. I'm a great dreamer, as in setting lofty, lofty goals.
7. Find great deals on Craigslist.

7 things I cannot do
1. Anything technical, DVD players, computers, cell phones.
2. Sew.
3. Paint a room without making a mess.
4. Manage dust.
5. Make a homecooked meal every night.
6. Throw a great birthday party.
7. Relax. I really struggle with this one, but I really long for this talent.

7 things I say most often
1. Stop.
2. Pick up your shoes.
3. Flush the toilet.
4. Get in the van.
5. Quiet.
6. Wait your turn.
7. Love you.

So, let me hear from some of you!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

For a Good Time, add Helium

the kids and I went to a local bookstore that opened today called FairyTale Bookstore. Everybody got balloons, cookies, lemonade, and had a blast looking at all the cool stuff. Think "Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium" on a smaller scale.

Anyways, on the way home they discovered they could make tiny holes in their balloons and suck out the air. We were all busting a gut to Chipmunk tunes and ABCs in helium-voice the whole way home. I wish I had a helium tank around for rainy days.

Nia's creativity never ceases to amaze me. She was making a jacket for Isabel's Diego doll, but Isabel wanted the fabric to be blue instead of white. So, Nia put the jacket in a bowl of water, dipped her blue magic marker in to turn the color, then put the bowl in the microwave to heat it up for dying. I just never would've thought of that. Ever. Not even on a good day.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Recovery

Yesterday was another hard day with Nia. After these days I feel like I've been hit by a Semi. It takes everything out of me to listen to how God wants me to handle her. I am required to exercise extreme self-control over my own anger and rage. If you've ever had anyone in your life who just pushes your buttons, who sometimes bullies others, and who is just plain mean occasionally, then you'll know what I'm talking about.

The whole thing started over a bottle of nail polish. A BOTTLE OF NAIL POLISH!!

After 5 hours of dealing with her drama, she finally came to me ready to talk about the morning. She asked forgiveness and admitted her wrong-doings. Her face had softened and her demeanor was approachable. We talked about how yucky it feels to hold on to our anger and how the enemy uses it to steal our joy and energy. And how good it feels to repent and be forgiven, and have our relationships restored with our family.

I felt like I was watching Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. She joined in with her siblings and played like a little girl again. It's like I lose her during these bouts of Dr. Jekyl, and then I get her back after a while.

If it were not for her quick recovery today (yes, 5 hours is quick for her. It used to be days), I would be losing hope with her. In November she will have been home a year. I cannot forget the progress we've all made in dealing with her woundedness.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Wanna share your story?

This is a request from my friend, Shelby Rawson, one of the authors of "Daddy, Do You Love Me?"

She writes, "I am a part-time web content manager for a Christian parenting website. Normally, I write about pre-school parenting issues, but they’ve asked me to write on parenting adopted children. Would you mind if I cited some entries from your blog if need be? Do you have any other recommendations for me? I was just informed of this request on Friday and I have to get all of my articles in by 9/30. Niiiiice. Plus, I’m 38 weeks pregnant. I need to get my hands on all the material I can in the next week. Let me know if you are aware of any other blogs, newsletters, etc. that might be helpful."

So, if you'd like to share your adoption blogs with Shelby, just post your blog address as a response.

~angel

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Trying on Jeans





There's nothing like trying on jeans that will drive a woman to drinking.

I thought I'd give it a whirl today since I had some time by myself (thank you, Matt). So, I started out at Old Navy. I knew deep in my heart that anyone past puberty shouldn't try on jeans there. But I thought, maybe, just maybe there might be a chance for me since I'd been working out for 6 months. Six l-o-n-g months. But I was wrong. In fact, I've never been more wrong.

Then I went to the upscale mall to try out Lucky jeans, which came highly recommended from a friend. Never mind they cost about $110, for the right pair a woman will eat beans and rice for 3 months to afford a pair of jeans that look good on her. Anyways, I walked in, told the sales clerk I'd never set in foot in the store before and needed help. She cheerily went to work pulling out all manner of jeans for me to try. Although I felt shrink-wrapped in her selections, she insisted that they would loosen up after a couple of days. So, what was I supposed to do during those 2 days when I couldn't breathe?

My mood was plunging to depths that would require huge amounts of chocolate to self-medicate as I left Lucky empty-handed. Whatever happened to good ole jeans that were your best friend? Jeans that had a zipper longer than 1/2 inch? Jeans that didn't gap open at the back of your waist? Jeans that were high enough in back to cover your butt crack when you sit down? Jeans that left something to one's imagination instead of revealing every single body flaw known to womankind?

Tell me, please! What jeans have been your faithful friend?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Love Hunger

We're all born with Love Hunger. Babies in orphanages who are only fed bottles without being held have a greater chance of dying than those babies who are held, hugged, and cuddled while being fed. It's part of our survival.

There have been times when I've felt like Nia must have been born without that Love Hunger. Seems like she fights any affection and love we offer to her. And she really doesn't return any towards us.

Last week I had another Come To Jesus Meeting with her because her behavior had gotten out of hand. The attitude of jealousy, ungratefulness, pride, superiority had reached a climax. I just can't ever tell if I'm getting through to her when we have these talks.

So, I was putting her to bed with the usual kiss on the forehead, followed by I Love You, Nia. I started to leave the bedroom listening for her standard, "Good Night." But instead she said, "Good Night. I love you." I hesitated at the door, turned and smiled at her. I was so taken aback that I didn't know what to do! She has only ever said this one time before, right after she came home 9 months ago. That's it.

It didn't happen the next night. Or the next one. But tonight it happened again. And I just fell completely apart right there and then. I simply put my hand on her shoulder and wept. She DOES have Love Hunger. And so do I.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

School




We've been back in our homeschooling schedule for 3 weeks now. The first week there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth. I am thrilled to finally have an actual school room this year with absolutely everything I need contained in one place. No more kitchen table schooling, no more bookcases in the hallway, no more maps on the kitchen wall.

Jacob is 3rd grade, Clive and Nia are 2nd, and Hudson started Kindergarten. The older the kids get, the more time it will take to do school each day because the level of difficulty increases in their subjects. At some point I'll need to hire tutors when the subjects surpass my knowledge. For example, I don't know Spanish, but we can use Rosetta Stone on the computer up to a point. I'm also not very good in Science.

My biggest challenge is trying to make up for all the lost lessons that Nia never got. As parents we teach our children things from Day One that we don't we realize we are teaching. We lay building blocks of knowledge that later prepare them for math and reading. When a child like Nia doesn't get that foundation, it makes teaching so much harder because I didn't ever consciously teach my others what they needed to know. They naturally learned sorting, grouping, matching, counting, language, etc. Nia has difficulty understanding the value of numbers. She doesn't know which is greater, 5 or 8. She doesn't understand that if I add 1 to 7, then I have 8. The other day I had her lay out 50 numbered cards from 1 to 50 in order. It took her 30 minutes and several tries. It just hasn't clicked that there's a pattern to the numbers that continues over and over. Since I like math and took lots of it in school, I feel like beating my head against the wall sometimes when we spend 10 minutes on 2+3. Just another opportunity for me to grow, I guess.

Otherwise, Jacob and Nia start their golf lessons next week (check out First Tee; it only costs $20 for 8 lessons). Awana has started back, and my Precept Bible Study kicked off, too. Our schedules got full in a matter of days. Keeping margin in this family is a constant struggle. If we didn't monitor our activities, we'd be on the go constantly without any Down Time.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Working Hard, or Not

Doll Bench by Nia Pregont

This morning Nia came downstairs carrying a bunch of scrap wood, nails, and a kid's wooden hammer. She just walked straight past me, out to the back porch and started hammering away. Half an hour later she brought in this doll bench. Now I sign her up for woodworking class??


Isabel is actually quite a reliable helper. She spent hours painting trim wood for the upstairs. I always liked helping out my dad when I was little, too.




Matt has been working like a borrowed mule trying to finish the upstairs. He's been hanging door and doing trim this past week. I had a decorating party last night, which involved having a few girlfriends over to help put some stuff up on the walls. I used to enjoy this kind of thing, but lately I truly just want someone else to do it for me. It's too overwhelming...."a little to the right" or "that goes better in that room with that thingy." At one point I lost complete control as my friends were taking down things I'd already hung last year and moving them elsewhere. How's that for a vote in one's decorating confidence?




I would've added pics of all the other kids helping out, but there aren't any. Hmmm.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Dragon

This is an excerpt from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by CS Lewis. It's one of the Chronicles of Narnia series. I'll set it up by telling you that Eustace turned into a dragon and finds himself face-to-face with Aslan (Christ figure). What Eustace describes below is a pretty good description of me this past spring and summer.

"I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it. The very first tear he made was do deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off. You know - if you've ever picked the scab of a sore place. It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off - just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt - and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been.

Then he caught hold of me - I didn't like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I'd no skin on - and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I'd turned into a boy again. You'd think me simply phoney if I told you how I felt about my own arms. I know they've no muscle and are pretty mouldy compared with Caspian's, but I was so glad to see them.

After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me - (with his paws?) - Well, I don't exactly remember that bit. But he did somehow or other: in new clothes - the same I've got on now, as a matter of fact. and then suddenly I was back here. Which is what makes me think it must have been a dream."

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Peace

Clive, trying to look insulted.
From The Hawk and The Dove: "Mother waved goodbye to them from the door, then disappeared into the kitchen and returned five minutes later bearing a tray with two thick slices of fruit cake, a cup of coffee for herself, and some lemon and honey for me. She put another log on the fire and curled up in her armchair with her coffee cupped in her hands, looking into the flames. 'Peace,' she said happily. 'Oh this is nice. It's nice when you feel peaceful inside, and you can curl up by the fire in a peaceful house. Too much racket in the house and it frays you at the edges a bit; but if you lose the peace on the inside of you, you could be in the quietest place on earth and your nerves would still jangle.'"
My mom took the girls to her house last week (3 hours away), and then we swapped them out for the boys this week. It's been a lot more quiet around here with only half the crew. In fact, a lot of things change with half of the kids gone.....I don't run the dishwasher as often, there is less trash, there is less fighting amongst siblings, there is less food to prepare at each meal, there is less mess in general. Concerning the mess, however, I must say that dividing the kids up has revealed to me the culprits of the Biggest Mess Makers......It's....the girls!!
One thing I've discovered about myself with a little more time on my hands is that I don't know how to do Nothing well. I'm just not used to it. I tried to remember what it was like when I had 3 little boys years ago and what I did with my time. But my memories are of a frenzied mother overwhelmed with 3 boys ages 3 and under. I suppose I freaked out in my spare time back then. Now, it seems, I sleep in my spare time.
Oh, there's always dusting, which in my opinion is a waste of time. I mean, you just stir the stuff up and it lands somewhere else for a few days, right? I did manage to mop and wish I had taken a picture so I could have looked at it 1/2 hour later to remember it by. Once again, futile.
After I painted my toenails, which hasn't happened in years, I got really restless. Mop - check. Laundry - check. Grocery shop - check. Paint toenails - check.
I think I should make a list for such future occasions when I find myself with Nothing To Do. I can already foresee my troubles when all the kids leave home someday. I'll probably have to get a job as a Wal-Mart greeter just to pass the time. By then, all my collegiate learning will have long been forgotten by my brain.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Crazy

"The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they're okay, then it's you."~Rita Mae Brown
I, personally, find it very liberating to be a little left of center. - angel

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Summer - We're still alive.

Having fun with cousins in Wisconsin.

Enjoying the fountains in Downtown Nashville. This is only about 5 mintues from us.




Hudson helping daddy do the outlets in the new boys room upstairs.
After much admonishment by friends and family, I thought I'd post. Summer has been busy. We've spent a lot of time at the Y pool. One week in Wisconsin. And quite a bit of time moving the kids upstairs and trying to finish it out. It's been like moving another time. The downstairs looks totally different and Matt and I are enjoying having it more to ourselves. I now have a schoolroom that doesn't involve the kitchen table. Whoo Hoo! All the toys are upstairs - most of the time. :- )
Otherwise, it's been a hard spring and summer for our little family emotionally. Just Life Stuff. Nothing to go into detail about here. But we are surviving and will be all the better for it in the end. CS Lewis says that Pain is God's megaphone to a hurting world. It's true. Sometimes we just don't want to change until the Pain of Hanging On exceeds the Pain of Letting Go.
What I'd say to sum it up for me is that I'm learning to live in the Present, not the Past nor Future. I'm learning to ID my emotions better and live out of the Truth more. Truth to myself, kids, Matt, friends, God. My new motto is "I'm in training." That's got a whole different feel to it than having the old motto of "I'm trying."
Blessings,
angel



Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mother Bear




Hell hath no furry like a mom who THINKS her kids have been scorned.


Yesterday at the YMCA Pool I thought the Y Camp Counselor said a racial remark whilst his Camp Kids were swimming. The Mother Bear in me came out with both paws swinging. Once he clarified his remark and I realized I had misunderstood, I backed down, apologized, and admitted that I over-reacted. I was embarrassed at this point, and wanted to quickly walk away and hide under a rock. But the situation escalated until he threatened to report me (to whom?). Ten minutes later I left there having let him get the best of me, and I was feeling like some crazy, whacked-out mommy monster.


Let me explain, he wasn't the type to accept someone's apology and be done with it, he continued to belittle me and I let him add fuel to my anger. Have you ever tried to talk to someone only to have them constantly interrupt you? That's him. Apparently, nobody ever told him to use "I" statements.


Anyways, what's your Mother Bear story? When have you gone to bat for your kids, justifiably or not?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mower Man

Every night, usually more than once, we detect the presence of Mower Man riding down the street on his riding lawn mower. We always hear him, even if we're in our house. He usually doesn't emerge until dusk and we've heard him as late (or early) as 2am. It's just an unusual site for living in the city..... seeing a man riding his lawn mower down the street on a daily basis.

Does he use it for his primary transporatation? Does he mow lawns with it all day? Are that many lawns within "drivng" distance for consistent work every day?

Regardless, Mower Man remains a mystery.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Healthy Snacks

With summer here and us on the go more, I feel like a walking pantry. I need water and snacks for the pool, the zoo, the park, baseball games, and so forth.

What are your healthy, portable snacks (besides fruit) ?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Who's Got Your Back?

Who do you want with you in a time of crisis? A bunch of women, that's who!

Today while having coffee with 6 other women, I had the priviledge of being part of a team with them. One woman who is 9 weeks pregnant fainted in the bathroom. What followed was a team of women going into action for a crisis.

One woman called 911.
One woman called the husband.
One woman wrote down a list of meds the pregger's woman was taking.
One woman grabbed her wandering toddler.
One woman got the purse and diaper bag.
One woman put cold rags on her forehead.
We arranged for her kids to be picked up from VBS.
We even managed to get her a refund for her untouched $4.00 coffee drink.

All before the EMT got there.

Nobody told anybody what to do, we all just looked around and did what needed to be done. Nobody was in charge. Women just see a need and meet it. End of story. It was a Steel Magnolias scene in action. I just love that about women.

Name That Feeling

During one of our recent Feeling Checks at supper, Nia shocked us all by actually saying something other than, "I don't got no feelings." She'd had a particularly rough day accepting the fact that her dad bought her brother a baseball without telling her ahead of time. Her response to this took up at least half the day before she could move on.

So, when her turn came at supper to say how she felt, she said, "I feel guilt and shame for being jealous this morning." Good grief!! This is huge!! She's never so much as admitted anything wrong unless pressed by us to do so. We tried not to react by falling out of our seats, but insteada to remain calm and say, "That's great, Nia. Thank you for sharing. Do you feel your guilt starting to go away now?"

This was such a gift to me because I wasn't sure she had really heard any of my words earlier in the day. I wasn't sure anything was connecting with her.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Feelings, Woa, Woa, Woa Feelings....

Each night at supper we usually ask the kids what their favorite part of the day was. We've mixed it up lately and are asking them how they are feeling. Here are their choices:

Anger, Fearful, Hurt, Shame, Guilt, Lonely, Glad, Sad

Tonight Jacob said he was feeling Fearful. Fearful because of the man who was shot Friday night at the church where I lead Bible study. This led into a conversation about people being killed in Liberia. I'll never know this side of heaven what Nia's young eyes have seen, and what she does reveal to us is just w-a-y too much for anyone to bear. What she shared prompted Clive, 7yo, to excuse himself from the table and go pray on the front porch for Liberians. Later, he came into my bedroom for a "private talk" and told me he wanted to give his Bible to someone in Liberia. He pulled a Bible from a Kroger bag and handed it to me. He said he wants people there to learn about Jesus. My soul sings!

We did address Jacob's fears of being shot, by the way. We talked about how most people who get shot in our neighborhood are involved in illegal activities and generally hang around bad people. I've taught the kids to say this whenever they are afraid, "What time I am afraid, I will put my trust in You." (Psalm 56:3) I use it myself from time to time.

Why We Moved Here

When we sold our house in January of 2006 and decided to rent for a year, our goal was to find a nice chunk of land on which to build our dream home. This would be home our kids would come home to on college break, bring their spouses to, and someday their children. We'd have a pond, a great big swingset, and lots of other country fun for the whole family.

So we set out looking. We had fun tromping around wilderness pieces of property creating memories of our kids exploring the wild. But nothing worked out. Nothing.

After living in our rental for about 9 months, God started changing our hearts. We'd read some Randy Alcorn books, like Dominion, about inner city living. We'd talked to friends who already lived in the inner city and were drawn to their daily plight. I read a book called And You Call Yourself a Christian by Robert Upton (I think the title has since been changed). And so God was planting the seed in our hearts towards living in the inner city. We were hooked. We bought a house that was 107 yrs old at the time and had been converted into a quadplex for the past 50 years. And so the renovation began....

Friday, June 13, 2008

Reality

Reality of my neighborhood hits home every now and then. Yesterday at 5:10pm I was sitting on my front porch and clearly heard 5 gunshots. Sure enough, sirens quickly followed. A 23yo male was shot in the parking lot a block from our house at the church where I lead a bible study. I drove over and found yellow tape blocking the entire intersection, police cars everywhere, and a news van on the scene. Apparently, it was a drive-by shooting. I don't think the guy died, but the fact that this was done in broad daylight at the corner of the park with intentions to kill is unnerving.

We need these reminders to be cautious of suspicious-looking people and cars in our 'hood. When we moved here a year ago I lived on High Alert all the time. Admittedly, I've relaxed some and needed this reminder. I don't think we should live in fear 24/7, but just live smart.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Great Fundraiser Idea

This morningthe girls and I went to a Bag Sale. A friend of our's collects bags of all sorts each year and sells them to raise money for digging wells in Africa. It's not as time-consuming as a yard sale because you just lay all the bags out on blankets the day of the sale. She organized them into price categories, from $1 to $40 (Prada and Coach). They had everything from backpacks, suitcases, wallets, beach bags, purses, cosmetic bags, duffles, and basically anything that might hold something. Inside each bag was a flyer about the Fundraiser that people would find once they got home and opened up the bag.

Prior to the sale she sends emails and postcards to everyone she knows and asks them to forward the info to others in order to collect all the bags. She also gets her boys involved in helping out in order to teach them about a bigger world than the one on their street.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Another Baby

I was at the YMCA pool yesterday with all the kiddos. My friend's baby boy was in his stroller pitching a mild fit while his mother played in the pool with his big sisters. So, I thought I'd just push him around the pool for a little stroll. As I passed my kids in the pool, each one of them climbed out and followed me. Here is what ensued....

"Mom, what are we going to name him?"

"Aw, he's so cute."

"Where is he going to sleep?"

"Where did you get him from?"

"We have to buy him some clothes."

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Summer

First of all, you people thoroughly intimidate me with gardening and canning. I decided to stick with 3 tomato plants, red bell pepper, banana pepper, and some herbs. Michelle, 25 lbs of pinto beans? Already? Mercy me.

So summer is here. This year we are fortunate to be members of our local YMCA, which includes their lovely pool. All of a sudden my kids don't want to get near any schoolbooks or pencils. They just want to swim. And eat popsicles. I've made a list of things we can do to pass the summer effectively (that means something that helps me not to feel guilty as a mother). There's always the zoo, a plethora of VBS to attend, free outdoor concerts here and there, the library, baseball.

When I was a kid I just played outside from sun-up til sun-down. My feet would be greenish-brown on the bottom and I could run on shrapnel by the end of the summer without flinching. Sometimes we'd get to go to the pool, as long as no church members knew about it. (Some of them didn't approve of sinful sunbathing). At night I'd catch fireflies in a Mason jar, fill it with grass, and poke holes in the lid. They still died. I'd practice turning cartwheels and teach myself how to throw up my own baseball and then hit it with the bat. I also loved to wash the cars. Sometimes my dad would let me drive the tractor around our yard. But I was still enough of a little girl to bring my Barbies outside for adventures in the tall "jungle grass" filled with all manner of dangerous bugs and ants. I could never figure out why my mom wouldn't let me start a real live campfire for my Barbies when they were in the wild fending off beasts.

I know this sounds all rose-colored, but I really do have good childhood memories of summer. We didn't have a lot of neighbors, so I spent a lot of time using my imagination. Maybe that's why I'm still pretty good at creating memories before they even happen. I can buy a house, hang curtains, and celebrate birthdays in the backyard.....all in my head.

So, let's talk about YOUR summer, either past, present, or imagined.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Neil - Is there anyone else?

"There are two kinds of people, those who like Neil Diamond and those who don't." from What About Bob. The Pregont men in this household not only like, but love Neil Diamond.

Informal Poll:

1. Which kind of person are you?

2. Favorite Neil Diamond Album?

For the Pregont men = Jazz Singer by far. This album taught me what a "brother" was, and that black people called us "white boys." It wasn't until half way through the movie that I realized his father wasn't a Catholic Priest, it didn't make sense that a Priest could have a son; then I realized he was Jewish. The Jazz Singer was the 2nd movie we watched on our new VCR back in 1983 (first was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).

Matt

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Dentists and Gardens

Took all 6 kids to the dentist today. We have a really great dentist office that really takes us in stride. There's not really anybody else there when we're there because they can't fit more than 6 kids in the cleaning rooms. Everybody walks away with a free toothbrush, so we're all pretty happy about the experience. No cavaties today, which is rare.

I'm trying to muster up enough gumption to plant some tomatoes and herbs. I bought these 3 huge pots for such a purpose. Although my parents had quite a hefty-sized garden when I was little, I just didn't pay a lot of attention to the process of planting, weeding, harvesting, canning. So, I'm a little timid at the age of 38 to give an herb garden my best shot.

What have you planted and how did it turn out?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Narnia

The whole lot of us went to see Prince Caspian this afternoon. We're big Narnia fans here. In fact, Clive is named after CS Lewis (Clive Staples Lewis). I love the way Aslan is portrayed as a Christ-type figure. Love the devotion the kids have to Aslan. At one point during the movie I just cried and wanted to go on straight to heaven. I remember when I was a little girl, and ancient, old women would stand up in church and testify talking about how they just couldn't wait to go to heaven. I didn't get it back then. There was so much livin' yet to do. I really didn't get it until my dad passed away almost 4 years ago. Then I wanted to go, too. Not a death wish, just a desire to be with Jesus and have no more struggles and hurts. Just be the way we were created to be.

When we told our kids about Maria Chapman's death, Isabel started clapping and smiling. All 7 of us looked at her like she had 2 heads, and she looked at us like we had 2 heads. Then I realized that, to her, being with Jesus was a celebration and how exciting for Maria. We explained to the kids that the worst part about death is not for the one who goes on to heaven, but for those of us who are left behind. We just miss people, that's all. For believers, we're just out of place here and always have that longing to go home.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Being Liberian


There's just certain things Nia does that remind me of being in Liberia. Seeing her in this tree at 8am this morning is one of them. I remember seeing kids hanging from trees everywhere we went in Monrovia.
Here are some other things:
~carrying things on her head (plates, toys, toilet paper, and so forth)
~turning a bucket upside down and playing it like a drum at 7am
~being comfortable sitting around doing nothing (Liberians seem to be experts at just sitting)
~putting her dolls on her back with a blanket wrapped around herself and the doll (I forget the techinical name for this)
~playing games called "Plant my rice, Water my rice, Cut down my rice"
~her incessant love of flip flops, also known as shower shoes
~saying, "I cannot bear my pee"
~wanting rice for breakfast....and lunch......and dinner......and snacks


Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Chapmans

Steven Curtis Chapman lost his youngest daughter, Maria, yesterday to a tragic accident at their home. She was the youngest of their adopted Chinese children. Apparently, the accident happened in their driveway with one of their sons at the wheel. Pray for their family during this time of unfathomable loss and especially for the son who was involved.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Progress Amidst the Pain

Here's a picture of our back yard in progress. That's mulch on the left. The idea is that we won't have to mow under the trampoline. It's kinda crowded over there because we're waiting for fresh top soil to be dumped on the right side. Doesn't it already look cleaner and neater? Does anyone have tips for teaching dogs where to poop, or where NOT to poop?
\



And here's our lonely patio table and umbrella. I guess the table was too heavy for our thieves. Last night at supper I prayed for the thieves, that they would never be able to sit comfortably in our chairs and that guilt would haunt them eternally. But I'm not bitter.



Tuesday, May 20, 2008

We've Been Robbed.....Again

Is there a full moon out or something?

The lawnmower was one thing, and I really wasn't attached to it since it was old and disfigured. (Don't worry, I have much higher regard for old and disfigured humans.) But now the Thieves has crossed the line. They've gone too far. They've made off with my patio chairs. The ones that match my patio table. The ones I bought 3 years ago, calling every Lowe's in town until I managed to acquire a complete set. The ones I bought at the end of the season on clearance. I'm Mad. Mad, I tell you. Crying, Crazy Mad.

My favorite line from The Kite Runner is when the dad tells his son that only real sin is Stealing. If you murder, you steal a person's life. If you lie, you steal the truth. If you have an affair, you steal trust. If you steal patio chairs, you steal my place to sit down and enjoy my newly landscaped backyard. The nerve....

Saturday, May 17, 2008

We've Been Robbed

It's not the first time we've had things stolen from our house here in the 'hood. When we started renovating there were 2 clawfoot tubs that managed to find their way out. Now that took some planning. Those suckers are heavy, so a person would definitely need to bring some friends and a pick-up truck.

In order to feel safe about all our tools being here in the house before we moved in, we let our homeless friend live here with his 2 dogs. He also helped out with some demolition and other odd jobs around here. Occasionally, he would need to scare people off the property and out of our dumpsters. I'm happy to report that he is now employed at Wal-Mart and has a small apartment of his own.

So, now that we're all caught up.....

Our push lawn mower was stolen. Some friends gave it to us when we bought our first house 10 years ago. It required a screwdriver stuck into the side to hold it together, and we had to pull the cap off the sparkplug to turn it off. That's how it came to us 10 years ago, and that's how we used it this whole time. God bless that mower. We put a lot of miles on it. It has moved with us 3 times. I chuckle to think of what the thief thought when he got a better look at that mower in the daylight. The blades haven't been sharpened since we got it. I know, I know. It's gerry-rigged (is that how you spell it?) in so many places. And they took our gas can, too. Bummer. And just what were our 2 faithful mutts doing whilst the bandit made off with out loot? Dreaming of chasing squirrels, no doubt.

And so today we bought a new used push mower off Craigslist. I love Craigslist. I've bought and sold furniture, clothes, bicycles, toys, rugs, and tools off Craigslist. I'm currently scouring the ads for a gas grill. Anyway, a dear old man fixed up this mower and threw in a girls' bike all for $45. What the Push Mower Thief meant for evil, God meant for good.

The Team Meeting

Does this say Little Rascals, or what? Jacob called a team meeting with his siblings to go over their baseball positions. See his clipboard? He's very serious about his job as Team Captain, Manager, and Coach. Notice our back yard is still primarily gravel. Sigh.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Not Dreading the Locks

Nia got her locks touched up yesterday. She looks really tired in this picture because she had been sitting at the salon for 3.5 hours. Beauty has a price. We have to get touch-ups about every 4-6 weeks. I really, really need to learn how to do this myself.

Her Loctician has a Medusa of locks that fall clear down to her hiney. Nia aspires to this.

Greeting the Day

On the mornings I drag my hiney out of bed at 5:08am and go to the Y for a workout, I greet the day. On the other mornings when I sleep in til 7am, the day slaps me up side the head. Which poses the question, why is it soooooo hard for me to haul it out of bed early EVERY morning when the pros seem to outweigh the cons? Why does the illusion of sleeping in seem so compelling? Does my body Really need that much sleep? I've always envied those people who condition themselves to require 6 hours of sleep. I remember hearing my mamaw (that's southern for 'grandmother' for those of you from the north) talk about how she'd wasted the day because she slept in til 6am.

Ideally, I'd love to get up early without resenting it. Resentment sets in the night Before I get up to go work out early at 5:08am. It continues all through the night when I roll over to look at the clock and count my remaining hours. It's still there while I'm tying my shoes at 5:13am. Somewhere about the time I walk into the Y at 5:25am and see all those people already breaking a sweat who got there at 5am, my resentment is gone.

What time do you get up and are you happy with that time? Why or why not?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Comments

FYI, I read all the comments posted by viewers, so post away!
~angel

Talent Show

This morning I went into Nia's room around 7:15am. She's usually the first one up and so I wanted to see if anything was wrong since she hadn't done her morning ritual of slamming a few doors and flipping on lights.

So, there she sat on her bedroom floor in the middle of fabric, thread, and dolls. She was just putting the finishing touches on a SUIT she had made for one of her dolls. This suit involved a short-sleeved jacket and matching skirt. It fit like a glove. She's going to sew it some underwear after breakfast.

Her talents abound so much that I don't know which ones to foster. Should we put her in a formal soccer league? Should I sign her up for sewing classes? Should I enroll her in Beauty School because she can do black hair better than most adult black women? Should I sign her up for cooking classes? Should I encourage her to pursue her gift of drawing? And she's also developed an interest in gardening. And baseball.

Clearly, you see my dilemna.

On a different note, I woke to the sounds of my electric sweeper Sunday morning around 6am. I walked into Nia's room to see her holding the sweeper oblivious to a house-full of sleeping people. In my morning stupor and frustration from losing valuable minutes of sleep I said, "NIA! What are you doing?" You have to say this with in a loud whisper voice with lots of irritation and accusation and wrinkle your face up in disgust. Go ahead, try it.

"Ma, today is Mudder's Day. I clean my room for you." It was spotless. Narry a dust bunny to be found. I, of course, crumpled into a heap of surprise, guilt, shame, remorse, happy, self-loathe, scum-eating, thankful Never Winning Mother Of The Year for having jumped to conclusions about her motives. Motherhood is such a sanctifying job.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Being Humble

Whenever I start feeling like I'm All That And More, there's always swimsuit season to bring me down several hundred notches. The pool at the local Y opens Memorial Day Weekend. Reality Looms in the very near future.

I remember a mentor of mine several years ago talking about being at the pool with her kids. She said there was every kind of physical shape and size of parents. Pasty white ones, burnt ones, ones with farmer's tans, brown ones, shiny black ones. Skinny ones, fat ones, fit ones. Big chests, flat chests. Smooth thighs, dimpled thighs. But the interesting thing is that none of the kids seemed to notice any of those traits about their parents. Truth is, all they'll remember is spending time with Mom and Dad and having fun together.

Lord, help me to only remember the fun times I'm having with my kids, and not that great-looking mom in the bikini whom I KNOW has fake boobs.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

#20

Being a mom is thinking coffee makes you a better mother.

Whenever we move, I always pack the coffee pot in the front seat with me. Nobody is allowed to touch it or carry it into the new house. It's mine. All mine. I bring it in, plug it up, and make sure there's some ground coffee ready to go for the next morning. I might not be able to find my toothbrush for days, but as long as I have my coffee the world will be a better place.

Fess up. How many cups, or dare I say Pots, of coffee do you have each day? Do you sometimes find your coffee cup 1/2 full sitting in odd places like your closet because you got distracted when a child said, "Mommy, come see what Hudson just did"? I lost my coffee cup one time and found it 2 days later in the microwave from when I heated up leftover coffee one afternoon. I used to be a purist and never, never, ever heat up leftover coffee. It always had to be fresh. That was back in the day when I only had a dog to care for. Now I'll just take it however, whenever I can get it. And as my mother says about my coffee, "That coffee can walk," meaning I like it strong.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Dead Birds

For about 2 weeks now dead birds have been showing up in my yard by the dozens. I bagged and froze a few of them and called the environmental people, thinking we had a case of West Nile right here in our back yard. They weren't interested in testing the birds unless they were Robins, Crows, or Bluejays. Since I couldn't identify their mud-soaked little bodies I finally threw them out.

But they kept turning up here and there around our back yard.

Today, Nia looked out the back window and caught Lily, our 1yr-old black lab, swiping a paw and knocking a sweet birdie out of the air. Lily then, of course, picked it up in her mouth. "Ma! Lily killed de buuurd!" So, we all took a trip out to the scene of the crime. There lay a little bird, still breathing, broken bones, puncture marks. "Ma! It's still breeding! Let's take it inside!"

It was a hard lesson for my kids to learn as we watched little bird take it's last breath. Lily just layed down beside it and nudged it with her nose. I think she just wanted to play with it. I suspect it will be a long summer of dead birds in our yard now.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Flowers for Mother's Day

I'm on an East Nashville Crime Watch internet group. This man who started it has a police radio and sends us all an email everytime something happens in East Nashville. We get emails about robberies, suspicious-looking people and cars (like house alarm salespeople who go door to door), break-ins, etc. The real exciting emails are the ones when the choppers are up. "Chopper over Fatherland St. Someone's on the run." It's always nice to be in the know about the goings on in my part of town.

The most interesting email I get is always around Mother's Day. The owner of the internet group warns us to bring in our hanging and potted plants the week before Mother's Day. Apparently, in neighborhoods like mine these things are potential Mother's Day gifts for the sweet, beloved moms of thieves. My 200-year-old neighbor across the street, Ms. Sue, only puts out plastic flowers in her pots. I always wondered how she kept her flowers looking so good during last year's drought.

What are you getting your mom for Mother's Day? I need some ideas. Quickly.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

For All The Moms

This is for the mothers who have sat up all night with sick toddlers in their arms, wiping up barf laced with Oscar Mayer wieners and cherry Kool-Aid saying, 'It's okay honey, Mommy's here.' Who have sat in rocking chairs for hours on end soothing crying babies who can't be comforted. This is for all the mothers who show up at work with spit-up in their hair and milk stains on their blouses and diapers in their purse. For all the mothers who run carpools and make cookies and sew Halloween costumes. And all the mothers who DON'T.

This is for the mothers who gave birth to babies they'll never see. And the mothers who took those babies and gave them homes. This is for the mothers whose priceless art collections are hanging on their refrigerator doors. And for all the mothers who froze their buns on metal bleachers at football or soccer games instead of watching from the warmth of their cars. And that when their kids asked, 'Did you see me, Mom?' they could say, 'Of course, I wouldn't have missed it for the world,' and mean it. This is for all the mothers who yell at their kids in the grocery store and swat them in despair when they stomp their feet and scream for ice cream before dinner. And for all the mothers who count to ten, but realize how child abuse happens. This is for all the mothers who sat down with their children and explained all about making babies. And for all the (grand)mothers who wanted to, but just couldn't find the words.

This is for all the mothers who go hungry, so their children can eat. For all the mothers who read 'Goodnight, Moon' twice a night for a year. And then read it again, 'Just one more time.' This is for all the mothers who taught their children to tie their shoelaces before they started school. And for all the mothers who opted for Velcro instead. This is for all the mothers who teach their sons to cook and their daughters to sink a jump shot. This is for every mother whose head turns automatically when a little voice calls 'Mom?' in a crowd, even though they know their own offspring are at home -- or even away at college -- or have their own families. This is for all the mothers who sent their kids to school with stomach aches, assuring them they'd be just FINE once they got there, only to get calls from the school nurse an hour later asking them to please pick them up. Right away. This is for mothers whose children have gone astray, who can't find the words to reach them. For all the mothers who bite their lips until they bleed when their 14 year olds dye their hair green. For all the mothers of the victims of recent school shootings, and the mothers of those who did the shooting. For the mothers of the survivors, and the mothers who sat in front of their TVs in horror, hugging their child who just came home from school, safely. This is for all the mothers who taught their children to be peaceful, and now pray they come home safely from a war. What makes a good mother anyway? Is it patience? Compassion? Broad hips? The ability to nurse a baby, cook dinner, and sew a button on a shirt, all at the same time? Or is it in her heart? Is it the ache she feels when she watches her son or daughter disappear down the street, walking to school alone for the very first time? The jolt that takes her from sleep to dread, from bed to crib at 2 A.M. to put her hand on the back of a sleeping baby? The panic, years later, that comes again at 2 A.M. when she just wants to hear their key in the door and know they are safe again in her home? Or the need to flee from wherevershe is and hug her child when she hears news of a fire, a car accident, a child dying? The emotions of motherhood are universal and so our thoughts are for young mothers stumbling through diaper changes and sleep deprivation... And for mature mothers learning to let go. For working mothers and stay-at-home mothers. Single mothers and married mothers. Mothers with money, mothers without. This is for you all. For all of us... Hang in there. In the end we can only do the best we can. Tell them every day that we love them. And pray and never stop being a mother...

~Anonymous

Monday, May 05, 2008

Being a Mom #569

Being a mom means feeling that other moms throw better birthday parties, make better Valentine's Day gifts, and pack more exciting lunches - and then realizing your kids don't care.

I admit it, I fall into this trap. When Jacob was about 4, I finally let myself free from scrapbooking. I never liked it, and I'm praying that my kids will marry spouses who love to do it. Then I'll pass all those photos over to them and let them go to town with it. My dear SIL even bought me a scrapbook with all the cute things already pasted inside. All I had to do was add pictures. That was 3 years ago. Still haven't added the pictures.

So, what do you erroneously think you should be doing a great job at just because you are a mom?

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Biscuit Mix for The Few, The Proud, The Brave

From Michelle:
When I make the master baking mix, I do 15 pounds of flour simply because I don't have to measure the crisco (that stuff is so GROSS to measure...blech!). It takes two of the large containers for 15 pounds of flour :-) If you make all 15 pounds of flour into biscuit mix, it will make about 21 quarts.

Master Baking Mix
makes 8 pounds
Sift together 3 times:
5 lbs. flour
3/4 c baking powder
3 T salt
1 T cream of tartar
1/2 c sugar
Cut in to the consistency of cornmeal:
4 c vegetable shortening (I use butter flavor crisco)
Stir in:
4 c dry milk powder
The dry milk powder is optional, but it adds more protein to the mix
which translates to fuller bellies for longer time :-)

Biscuits
Each jar makes more than enough
for my family of 6 (big eaters)
Put 3 cups of master baking mix into each quart jar.
Put 4 T buttermilk powder into each jar.
I use the white plastic screw on lids (you can get them at Wal-Mart) to seal the jars.
These will store on a pantry shelf at room temperature for up to 3 months.
When you are ready to make biscuits, preheat your oven to 450.
Pour out one quart jar of biscuit mix. Give it a quick stir to incorporate the buttermilk powder.
Add one cup of water and stir until moistened. Drop by heaping spoonfulls onto
an un-greased baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.
If you prefer cut biscuits, reduce the milk powder and water to the equivalent of 2/3 cup.
Knead lightly on floured board. Roll 1/2" thick, cut, and place on un-greased baking sheet.
These look prettier than drop biscuits, but they are a lot more labor intensive.

Pancakes or Waffles
serves 4
Beat together in a bowl:
1 c Milk (I use reconstituted dry milk--it's cheaper :-)
1 egg
Stir in:
1 1/2 c Master Baking Mix
Cook on hot griddle or waffle iron. For lighter waffles, separate egg;
add yolk with milk. Beat egg white until stiff and fold into batter just
before baking.

Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
Preheat oven to 425.
Beat together in a bowl:
1 egg
1 c. Milk (again, I use reconstituted dry)
2 T sugar
Add:
3 c. Master Baking Mix
Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Spoon into greased muffin pans and bake
20 minutes.

Options:
Add drained fruit, chopped nuts or chopped dried fruit. Replace 1/3 of baking mix with quick cooking oatmeal or all bran cereal.
Make as a loaf in a greased 5x8 pan--bake 40 minutes at 350.

Strawberry Shortcake
Take a quart jar of biscuit mix. Add a palm full of sugar (1/2 cup?)
Mix and bake as usual. Slightly sweet and the perfect accompaniment to
fresh berries and whipped cream.

Dinner Rolls
Take a quart jar of biscuit mix. Add about 3/4 cup shredded cheese.
Mix and bake as usual. Makes a great cheese dinner bread in a pinch.

For Michelle - The Biscuit Mix, please

For the Michelle who replied that she makes scads and scads of biscuit mix and fried sausage patties for breakfast, please reply to this Post with your biscuit mix recipe for those of us who might actually want to give this a go...someday. Michelle makes this mix ahead of time and puts it in jars for daily use. She freezes fried sausage patties and thaws each morning in the microwave for biscuits and sausage daily.

Also, what's your last name, Michelle? I know a lot of Michelle's. I'm pretty sure I know who you are, but let's end this mystery right here and now.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

#601

Thin #601 Being a mom means sticking your nose in your child's throat to smell their breath.

Or holding their little diapered bottom up to your nose to see if "they've been busy."

Or scratching their teeth with your fingernail to see if they really brushed.

Or making them bend over to see if they really wiped.

Or prodding their little nose with your finger to get that nasty booger that's been camping out way up in there all week long.

Add your own to the list, please.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Being a Mom #422

With Mother's Day fast approaching (May 11th), I thought I'd put in some more quotes from my little book, 1001 Things It Means To Be a Mom.

#422
Being a mom means making sure breakfast gets eaten every morning. Even if it comes out of a cereal box.

Here's our typical breakfast, and please don't send emails about the horrors of it. Breakfast for me is more like a buffet bar. Nobody eats the same thing, and I'm really okay with that.

Frozen waffles, eggs (fried, poached, scrambled), cereal (I have about 40 different choices; okay really only 20), granola bars. I, myself, eat Plain Kefir with Super Seed fiber mixed in, followed by a 1/2 glass of low-sodium V8. Every day.

I've always wanted them to eat a breakfast of oatmeal with flax seed and raisins OR large bowls of granola with low-fat yogurt with blueberries on top because we all know that blue and red fruits are the best for us. It just hasn't happened yet, and, yes, I take responsibility for it as the mom. Oh, the guilt. Oh, the shame. I started out great when I only had 1-2 children. I used to puree sweet potatoes myself instead of buying jarred baby food. Then I had that unfortunate incident of forgetting to put the lid on the blender and scraping sweet potatoes off the ceiling afterwards. Did you know sweet potatoes stain?

Anyway, moving on. Tell me what you feed yourself and kids for breakfast.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

my camera

I had intended to start this little theme of Before and After photos of our house. But...I dropped my camera last week when I was taking pics for the DIY network. And it doesn't work anymore. I let Matt briefly blame the kids for not taking good care of our camera before I admitted it might have possibly been my fault. Maybe. It's possible that a 4-foot drop from my hand to the pavement did absolutely no damage.

Anyway, I'm bummed that I can't just run out and take a pic and then post it. We had better win that DIY Front Yard Makeover considering the loss of my camera is directly related to the DIY people themselves. It's their fault my camera broke.

When I Grow Up

I asked the kids this morning at breakfast what they want to be when they grow up.

Jacob 8 - "I wanna be a preacher."
Clive 7 - "I wanna mine for precious gems."
Nia 8 - "I wanna sew and braid hair and play soccer."
Hudson 5 - "I wanna hike and eat puffy Cheetos. And if I see a snake I'll shoot it."
Isabel 4 - "I wanna be a baseball player and eat puffy Cheetos when I'm tired."
Eva 3 - "I wanna be a princess."

Me, too.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Being a Mom

My brother just gave me this little book called "1001 Things It Means To Be a Mom."

Thing #579. Being a mom means hiding candy bars in the back of your closet and eating them after the kids go to bed.

YES! In an ancient house long ago when our kids bedrooms were upstairs, Matt and I used to make chocolate chip cookies and eat them after the kids went to bed. You know, those bake-and-break kind? Admit it.

angel

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Marriage

Matt and I went to a Family Life Weekend to Remember this past weekend. It's a marriage conference that Family Life does all over the country. We first went when we had been married one year. Ten years and 6 kids later, we went again.

We both kinda entered the weekend thinking it was stuff we already knew. It was, but it was stuff that was fresh to hear again. It put wind in our sails. It reminded us of areas we need to work on. Life is so much different now than 10 years ago. Bad habits form before we even realize it. I highly recommend this retreat to everyone. Go to www.familylife.com for more info.

Meanwhile, Jacob has told us that he thinks God wants him to be a preacher when he grows up. He started leading little family devotions last week to his siblings. My soul sings. He even led devotion last Wednesday night at some friend's house. "Turn in your bibles to..." Clive's job is to read the scripture out loud. Then we talk. Then Jacob said, "Mom will you lead us in prayer and I'll close?" He's 8. "Yes, son, I will." Again, my heart sings.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

HGTV

Friends, I am sad to say that our back yard was not bad enough for HGTV's Summer Showdown. And I can't WAIT to see who has a worse yard than us. It had better be disgusting, like the kind of yard that you need to cover your children's eyes and you almost feel like you're about to wretch. But I'm not bitter.

And so I move forward with DIY and my pics for them even though they are only concerned about my front yard. Outward appearances only, please. Nothing too personal like a back yard. I wish I could find a junker car to put on cinderblocks in the front yard. Or some dwarf yard ornaments. Or a refrigerator on my front porch. Sorry if I'm stepping on anyone's toes, but come on, face reality if you have any of these things in your yard. I'm only telling you what your friends have always wanted to say but were too afraid.

Moving on, Nia was close to falling back into old habits this morning over sharing some toys. She went silent, did the stare thing, and wouldn't answer my questions. Fortunately, she recovered and started making good choices that didn't throw the whole family into a tantrum tizzy. Thank God.

Academically, she's starting to make some strides. Reading is making sense to her now. Math is still some unsolvable mystery to her...."dat don't make no sense." She's just not used to thinking and using her brain. But I know she's smart.

She scored 2 goals last week at soccer. Jacob scored 1 goal. I knew we had a chance of winning when the girls on the other team were skipping down the field and doing pirouettes. Sure enough, we won 5-2. I was jumping up and down on the sidelines with each goal scored by a Pregont, and nearly wet myself in the process. I'm officially a soccer mom. Who knew?

Monday, April 14, 2008

DIY

I applied to the DIY network for a front yard makeover and was asked by them to submit more pics and a short video. So, I'm trying to get that done in my spare time. Right. I'm laughing, too.

I'm still on the planet, just pre-occupied.

angel

Monday, April 07, 2008

Vision

Here's the first room you walk into in our house. No real entryway here, just "tada! I'm here!" See the lovely paneling? And can't you just feel the ceiling looming over your head? Remember the masks that people in China wore during that chicken or bird flu epidemic? You'd want one for this room.

That fireplace? Um, well, um, I don't really know except that it used to be for coal, so the flue is too narrow for wood-burning. Bummer. Major Bummer.

Here's the same room now. Paneling is gone. Ceiling torn out to reveal the original 10-ft ceiling. The fireplace bricks were uncovered after we took off the paneling and the white bricks around that stove-thing. There was all manner of dust and soot cascading out the mouth of the open fireplace. So, Matt covered the hole of the original fireplace with plywood that he stained to match a mantel that we found on Craigslist. That's some kind of green marble at the base of the "fireplace." Those wood floors are orignal, which makes them about 108 years old now. They were under that hideous, rank, infested carpet. Yes, folks, we have vision. "Vision" is not what our family called it when we bought the house, and we've doubted it ourselves more than once in the past year-and-a-half. But now that we're halfway done with this whole venture (to date, the 2nd floor is still unlivable), we're pretty sure we have Vision. Most of the time.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The First Game

Jacob and Nia had their first soccer game yesterday. They play for the Salvation Army team in our neighborhood. This league is not quite like your local Y or Rec Center. Sometimes teams just don't show up. Sometimes your own team doesn't show up. Our team and our opponents showed up, thank goodness. Those little opposing Laotians clobbered our team (I don't even know the name of our team). Final score: 5-0.

Other things that are different in our neighborhood compared to most is that I was the only team mom present. I was hoping to connect with some other moms in the 'hood, but they just weren't there.

Yesterday was the first time I've ever said to someone (a Laotian mom), "That's my boy out there. The white kid." More about why we moved to the inner city in future posts. Same bat channel, same bat time.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Our House

This was our house when we bought it, circa fall 2006. At that time it was 107 years old. It had been divided into four apartments, technically a Quadplex, for at least 40 years prior. I didn't even know there was such a thing as a Quadplex until then. The walls were paneled and the ceiling had been lowered to just above your head. It was very cave-like. Even musty.

This is what we've done with it so far. We finally got that new front door after living here for several months with a front door that didn't even latch, much less lock. Whenever we left the house, we would pull out some keys and act like we were locking the door just in case someone was "casing our joint." Then when we'd come home we'd stand there with keys and do the same motion like we were unlocking the old homestead. Sometimes the kids would blow our cover and bust on in. I was glad to get the new front door.
One that locked and all.

Anyway, we hired a guy who came with a great recommendation to paint our house RED. I just love RED. We should've had cause for concern when he was painting in the rain. But, no, we decided to keep giving him our money. It wasn't until after he painted over 2 windows that we finally got smart. Apparently, he thought it would cause a beautiful pink glow inside when the sun hit those 2 red windows. I'm sure he was right. Only thing is, we didn't want our windows painted. After chalking it up to him being off his meds, we canned him.

So, the house still needs a paint job. Painting in the rain leaves nasty runs and stuff, FYI.

I just love RED.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

So Close.

These are some of the family shoes. Those red and blue buckets are supposed to be holding the family shoes. You can see that my Come To Jesus talk last week put the fear of God in my family. So close. The shoes are so close to being in the right place, didn't quite make it all the way.

Reminds me of a friend's plant she told me about. Her mom sat the plant beside a water feature in the house, but never watered the plant itself. It died. Once again, so close but not close enough. Can you imagine that little plant hearing the water gurgle by? Seeing the water? Smelling the water? But not getting any water?

I'm sure there's some spiritual analysis here. I'll leave that up to you.

So, I've been Missing In Action for the past week. Just haven't had anything to say, I guess. Been kinda dreary 'round here. Lots of rain. Lots of mud (remember my back yard?).

Friday, March 28, 2008

I've Been Interviewed


At some point today there will be Q&A from your's truly on another blog. Ariel Lawhon, a budding author and mom to 3 boys, will be posting it on her blog http://www.themoabclub.blogspot.com/ .


Ariel has written a book called, Daddy Do You Love Me? It's about the relationship women have with their earthly fathers and with their heavenly Father. She is currently working on childrens books, the proceeds of which will be given to adoptive families as grants to help in their fundraising efforts. I encourage you to support this young woman! Her heart is very in touch with adoption, and she has several neices and nephews who are adopted from Liberia. She patiently waits for the day God will let her own family step into the waters of adoption. Meanwhile, she continues to be an advocate for adoption in all that she does.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Come To Jesus, Please!

It's been a hard couple of weeks with Nia. The lying and manipulation takes it's toll on us all. I just can't trust her. I want to, but I can't.

God keeps reminding me over and over how my relationship with Nia mirrors His relationship with me. He wants me to embrace Him, come to Him when I'm hurt, communicate with Him about my deepest desires, obey Him, seek to please Him. I wish I could get inside Nia's heart and head to know what's really going on in there. All I see is the acting out of the pain and hurt that's inside. I'd love for her just once to say, "Ma, Ah very sad." or "Ma, Ah so happy to be part of dis family." I know I need to look to Jesus for my Kudos, and it's not Nia's job to fill my tank. Still doesn't make it easy to swallow.

I feel like a failure to her as a mommy. Half the time I don't know how to parent her. It's just not at all like anything I've ever experienced. I honestly don't even know if she likes us or likes being in America. Her behavior would tell me she doesn't, but I also know that she lies a lot. Therefore, maybe she really DOES like us but is just too afraid to let us know. It's like she's afraid we'll have the upper hand if she is vulnerable.

Tonight I had one small, teeny window of hope......she admitted that she lies to us quite a bit. Of course, this was only after we confronted her about something, but I still can't believe she actually said it out loud. I asked her if she understood why I don't trust her. She said, "Because I lie." I nearly lost it right then and there. That may have been the most honest she's ever been with us.

God, please bring our daughter to You! Please break down the walls that so closely guard her heart against any love. Show me how to love her when she is unlovable. Protect my heart against apathy towards her. I truly feel that for her to change will be a miracle that only You can do. Glorify Yourself. Be Big in her life and mine! Father, give me a sense of humor when I'm feeling heavy from the daily grind. Lighten this load.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Come To Jesus

Yesterday morning I had a Come To Jesus meeting in our living room. The mess in our home had reached a plateau that even I could no longer handle.

I sat all 6 kids down in a circle. We had to have some standards about picking up our toys and clothes. I waved a spatula around while I talked, just for effect.

New Rules:
1. If I find it on the floor, it's mine. This is my basic foundational rule.
2. Shoes always go in the bucket, or they are mine. This one really got Nia moving into action.
3. Clothes go in the appropriate places, or they are mine. They might find themselves with nothing to wear some day because everything has become Mine.
4. Toys go in the right places when you're finished playing with them, or, once again, they are mine.
5. We must, we must, we must decrease this dust. I decided not to go for a record. The thing about dust that has always bothered me is that it's always there. Less than 24 hours after dusting, there it is again. You just can't win with dust.
6. All Super Hero apparel must be contained. Hudson and I sat down in the floor and went through the costumes. He reluctantly let me ditch the 3 that had the most rips. We found a place for them, and if they aren't in their Place, then guess what? Mine.

That's all I could think of spur of the moment. So, we started at the front of the house and worked our way to the back. Didn't quite get the kitchen up to par, but at least the counters are clean for the moment.

If anyone has advice on how to keep wood floors under control, please let me know. Right now I trust our kids' socks to pick up a certain level of dirt while they walk around the house all day. Some days the floors feel like my 7th child. You might notice that I didn't put that picture on the blog. Some of you might not have been able to handle it.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Things are Looking UP!

OR maybe I should say things are turning up. As I was brushing my teeth on Saturday morning, I looked down to see my wedding ring laying on the counter. I had told the kids that if one of them took it, they could return it back where they found it and I wouldn't ask any questions.

The freezer key turned up in the Deli drawer of the fridge. Thank goodness we can eat frozen pizzas again.

Matt fixed the toilet. I bought more toilet paper. There's nothing like running completely out once to make you a believer in stocking up.

I finally figured out that the paper filters were collapsing allowing coffee grounds to clog everything up, so I bought one of those permanent coffee filters to keep the grounds out of my coffee. :- )

I bought some Easter chocolate on clearance today. :- )

Lucy found a new home, complete with a grassy yard, secure fence, and 2 kids.

Meet Lily, our new 1yo Rott/Lab mix. She weighs in at 85 pounds. That's her on the LEFT wearing the pink collar with red name tag. That's Ox on the right. She stands about 1 inch taller than him, but that hasn't stopped him from putting her in her place. He protects the kids from face-licks by nipping at Lily and head-butting her. Lily licks faces with zealous passion. In fact, Isabel's hair often ends up wet from such a licking. Matt and I were awakened to Wet Willy's in our ears on Saturday mornings. She's very affectionate.


Sunday, March 23, 2008

On Wisconsin, On Wisconsin.......

Matt here. Wisconsin is playing awesome, but don't just take it from a homer (moms, that means someone from Wisconsin), listen to what Dickie V has to say about my Badgers!!!

http://sports.espn.go.com/broadband/video/videopage?&brand=null&videoId=3307430&n8pe6c=1

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Having It All Together

Lest you mistakenly think I'm All That and More as a wife and mommy, let me just blow that myth right out of the water with a few inside pics of my house.

This is my morning Cup o' Joy. It's sitting on the bar with some of Nia's meds, receipts, mail, empty fruit bowl, a broken incense burner, and some mittens. I just can't figure out how I lost my wedding ring and the key to the freezer....


The is one corner of the boys' room. Now, this is the bane of my existence. Hudson (5yrs) is mostly responsible for this. When you are multiple SuperHeroes, then you must make multiple clothes changes throughout the day, or so I'm told. The white square is the intended target for the t-shirts. Those open drawers hold pants and shorts, or at least they did for 2 minutes after laundry day. Hudson is our Tigger. That's all you need to know when you look at this mess and think of him. He has no idea he is bouncing all over my carrot patch.


This is the dust on my mantle. I swiped away a little so you could see the contrast better.
Maybe I should try to set a record...

This is one corner of my bedroom, my sanctuary, my retreat. No, we didn't just move in last week. We've lived in this house for 9 months. Do you think this is affecting my sleep and sanity?



This is my homeschool area. To me, it's Organized Chaos. To Matt, it's an eyesore. As long as nobody touches or moves anything, I can usually find what I need. Now, if I lived alone doesn't that sound like a good plan? That's a pack of toilet paper in the lower right corner.
I went to Kroger yesterday. :- )
Now, before you think I enjoy living like this, let me say that I've learned to survive with a certain amount of mess over the years. This tolerance of mine has come in handy during our renovation process we've been in for the past year.
But then there are days when it reaches a level that I can no longer tolerate. I get these urges to throw everything out in the front yard and put a match to it. I want nothing but books and candles and Bach in my home. Ahhhh. I can already feel my blood pressure lowering.
But this is my Reality for the present. Don't judge. But for the grace of God, it could be you.