"Prayers are heard in heaven very much in proportion to our faith. Little faith will get very great mercies, but great faith still greater." -- Charles Spurgeon

My children were awful today. I mean really. Awful. Never mind that Lila got virtually no home work done and spent 85% of the day in her bedroom. Or that both children decorated their entire bodies with markers.

They made such a colossal mess in my bedroom, that I decided it was safest for everyone if I just walked away. Doug is now overseeing clean-up and advising them to pray that his sink is not so clogged that we have to call a plumber.

Yeah. That bad.

Since I do not want to spoil the happy feelings induced by my new car (a "surprise" from Doug), I will not revisit their bad behavior any further. Instead, I will entertain you with the only two positive stories I can recall from the day.

During the brief time when Lila was actually doing her school work, we reviewed last week's Latin words. See if you can spot the word that she made up...

Me: What is flos?
Lila: Flower!
Me: What is the Latin word for plant?
Lila: Uh. Herba?
Me: Correct. What is hortus?
Lila: Garden.
Me: What is the Latin word for leaf?
Lila: Umm... leafus!

During a break time, the kids were playing around and I heard Lila say, "We're going to investigate something strange," as they went out the front door. I probably should have been concerned at this point, but I was trying my best to pretend they didn't exist for a few minutes.

A short time later, they came back in the house carrying this:

Both: giggle giggle giggle
Lila: Open this. We found it in the street.
Both: giggle giggle giggle

At this point, I'm certain there is something in that box that is going to make me scream.

Me: [mildly alarmed] Is there something alive in there?
Lila: No.
Both: giggle giggle giggle
Me: [shying away from the box] No.
Both: giggle giggle giggle
Lila: Come on!

Then she opens the box herself, and shows me this:

Then they proceed to laugh their tiny a$$es off.

I guess you have to be a kid to get the joke?



In the midst of great joy, do not promise anyone anything. In the midst of great anger, do not answer anyone's letter. -- Chinese Proverb

Did someone say "birthday brownies?"
I had a lovely birthday weekend. My thanks to all who sent happy wishes via text and Facebook!

I thought the weekend was going to get held back by a sick child. Lila was under-the-weather (is that supposed to be a hyphenate?) on Friday. She was extra tired and had a low-grade fever. She was feeling poorly enough on Friday evening that she didn't want to go out for dinner!

We ordered in Domino's instead (Eli's pick), and watched America's Funniest Videos from the comfort of our couch. Thankfully, her body fought off whatever was ailing her and she woke up normal on Saturday!

We did Saturday morning chores, which is (oddly, perhaps) one of my favorite times of the week. The children feel differently about it. Shocking, I know! Eli hardly did anything, really, but I decided to let consequences (no video) speak for themselves.

I resisted the urge to nag, which helped my serenity greatly.

Actually, what I've started doing recently is this: Whenever I cross paths with one of the children during chore time, I'll say something like, "I just finished making my bed! What are you doing right now?"

I sound as friendly and interested as I can and I only give directions if they are asked for. It's been remarkably effective. They may not do the chores that I would choose for them, but they are contributing to the upkeep of their home and I'm not ending up frustrated!

Anyway, none of that is what I came here to talk about. [wink]

I hate minivans. I never wanted a minivan. There was a time when I swore that I would never drive a minivan. . . . I drive a minivan.

I have hated it since the day we bought it, but it's so stinking convenient when you have small children! Now that both of mine are old enough to get into and out of a car and buckle and unbuckle their seatbelt, all without help, the minivan is not such a necessity.

I have been looking forward to getting a Grown-Up Car for many months now. The practical and frugal sides of me were determined to take the minivan to 100,000 miles first, however. I didn't want to feel like I was buying a new car until I had driven my old one to the point of exhaustion.

Now, at 92,000(ish) miles, there is something wrong with the minivan that would cost several hundred dollars to fix. Doug decided that it's not worth the money to make the repairs, given its worth and our plans to get rid of it at the end of the year anyway.

So... I'm getting my Grown-Up Car! This time I'm getting something that I will love and enjoy driving for the next 100,000 miles! Yay! I am getting a Subaru Outback. I drove one of these before the minivan and I have missed it for years.

I'm exhibiting (what feels like) super-human strength, as I wait for Doug to do his research on all the options and decide on the best way to go about the purchase (or lease). Even though this is not really a birthday present, I'm going to pretend that it is.

My real birthday presents were a charm bracelet from the kids (a key charm with a tiny heart in it from Lila and a slice of pizza charm from Eli) and an anti-fatigue kitchen mat from Doug (which is exactly what I asked for - I spend a lot of time standing and cooking).

Oh phooey! I just realized that I forgot to wear my new bracelet today!* I'll have to work hard to make that a new habit. I did, however, spend half an hour standing on my anti-fatigue kitchen mat, as I cooked dinner! It was delightful.

* CONFESSION: I forget to wear my wedding rings half the time too. I can't stand to sleep in them and don't want to work out with them on. If I don't take the time to put on other jewelry, then I forget to put my rings on when I get showered and dressed. I should make that a better habit too!



"Men overlooked a baby's birth
When love unnoticed came to earth..."
 -- Mary Tatlow

Despite the hour that Lila spent in her bedroom, for having a very nasty attitude, we got through all of our homework today! This is the first Tuesday in several weeks that hasn't ended with work hanging over our heads.

It helped that yesterday was a holiday, so today's work was lighter than average. But I'm tired of talking about the trials of homeschool days...

I would say that I'm ready for summer break, but that's only half true.

I AM ready for the school battles to end for a few months. I am NOT ready for days where I never feel like I've gotten sufficiently cool.

I AM ready for a lighter schedule. I am NOT ready for 10-hour days of, "Mom? Will you..." "Mom? Can I have..." "Mom? He/she hit/kicked/yelled at me..." "Mom? Mom! Mom-may!"

I AM ready for more time to clean my house. (How often do you say those words?) I am NOT ready for the onslaught of scattered belongings that will accompany the children's increased free time.

I AM ready for more time to spend together as a family. I am NOT ready for The Pool. (If you have forgotten, or are unaware of, the way I feel about going to The Pool, please refer to: Summer fun, indeed.) (In fact, I may re-post that one. I feel that it bears repeating.)

I also have a yearly struggle against very old tapes that play in my head. When I was young, I didn't really have friends. At least, not many. (I'm not being melodramatic. Just honest.) Many summers  (particularly as a teenager) were a long, boring, lonely time of watching soap operas, grudgingly doing chores, and trying not to melt.

However much I tell myself that I am no longer a friendless child, I still get a little down at the beginning of summer. Those first cool breezes of autumn envigorate me. Those first hot breezes of summer depress me.

I just had a thought: Maybe we should plan a weekly trip to some jumpy place. They are indoor, air-conditioned, and grown-ups aren't allowed on the inflatables. That would be an easy thing to invite friends along to, as well!



"Happy is a man who finds wisdom and who acquires understanding..." (Proverbs 3:13)

For the second week in a row, Lila refused to do her school work for most of the day on Tuesday. She spent the time in her room instead, had all privileges revoked, and had to make up the work (along with doing Thursday's new work) on Thursday and Friday.

Is she ever going to learn that the fastest way to be rid of a task you don't like, is to just DO IT?!?

Her two big stumbling blocks are handwriting and math facts.

She has the skill to write neatly (in manuscript), but she doesn't like the effort it takes to do so. She was so excited when they started learning to write in cursive. I think she had it in mind that cursive would be easier than manuscript, so she wouldn't have to work as hard.

When she discovered that she was not instantly good at cursive, she decided it was awful too. Now I have to listen to whining and complaining every time she works on handwriting. "It's too hard!" "I don't like cursive." "I'm not good at it." "I wish cursive would just go away!" Etcetera. Ad nauseum.

(Which reminds me - she loves Latin!)

I lovingly remind my children, on a regular basis, that if their school work were easy, then we wouldn't be doing it. The point of doing school work is to learn. If the work is easy, then you aren't learning anything. The work is supposed to be difficult, at least in the beginning.

And as for math facts... [sigh] Again, she has the skill. She knows all of her addition facts and she's pretty close to knowing all her subtraction facts, as well. The problem is speed. Lila doesn't do ANYTHING quickly.

She operates at Lila Speed, at all times. She eats slowly. She gets dressed slowly. She walks slowly (and rarely in a straight line). And she does math facts slowly. They want her to be able to do 40 math facts in 2 minutes, but she's only at about 25 for addition facts and 15 for subtraction facts.

She actually SLOWS DOWN when she knows she's being timed. Just this week, I realized that part of the problem is that she's thinking too hard. When she sees a math problem, she starts trying to figure it out instead of letting her brain provide the stored information.

On the other hand, her favorite subjects are science and history. She's extremely well-behaved and respectful at school. She's on par with her classmates, academically. Her oral reading skills are a strength and she's got some wicked memorization skills.

Her participation in class discussions is also considered a strength. She's really thriving at school and she does work hard. We are just getting to a tough point in the year. She's tired of doing the things she doesn't like and, now that the weather is so beautiful, she'd rather be playing outside than sitting at a table with homework.

I'm getting a little tired of sitting at that table myself.

10 more classroom days and 10 more homeschool days until summer break...



The lamps now glitter down the street;
Faintly sound the falling feet;
And the blue even slowly falls
About the garden trees and walls.
-- Robert Louis Stevenson

I can't believe it's been a week since I last wrote anything. It's been a very busy week. At the same time, I've felt like I didn't have anything to talk about. I suppose the reality is that I didn't feel like disciplining myself to sit down and arrange my thoughts after the busy days.

I'm finally feeling quiet-of-spirit enough that writing doesn't feel like a chore. It was an oddly silent afternoon. Eli, who is usually unbelievably chatty, hardly spoke a word on the way home from school. At home, he mostly busied himself with Legos.

After we picked Lila up, we went to the library. Everyone picked out new books and then we headed home. Both kids stuck their nose in a book, as soon as we got in the car. They were quiet all the way home and then did not utter a word for 40 minutes after we got here.

I was just about to tell them it was bath time when our neighbors knocked on the door. We chatted, they bathed, then they went back to their books. They barely acknowledged Doug when he got home. I've seen Lila do this before, but not Eli! He typically only shows that kind of focus with Legos.

And I'm so very happy to report that I'm feeling like my normal self again. My doctor agreed with my assessment that 25 mg is the right dose of medication for now (that's half what I was taking a year ago), and I'm satisfied that I'm not taking a drug that I don't need.

One thing I'm kicking myself for: Today was the 2nd Grade Renaissance Festival at school and I forgot to bring my camera! You may have seen the photo I posted on Facebook. It's the only picture I got, but I love it.

Confession: I wanted, with all my heart, to dress up for the festival. I bought a dress for Lila, with the justification that it can be her Halloween costume too. Adult costumes are much more expensive, however, and I couldn't bring myself to buy one.



There's been a whole lotta weird going on since I picked Lila up from school.

Actually, it started while we were waiting for Lila in the carpool line, because that's when Eli decided to start counting. I didn't know why he was counting. He had been talking for the better part of two hours and, to be honest, I wasn't really listening anymore.

I only became fully aware of what he was doing when he got stuck and asked me what came next. Some part of my subconscious told me that the last number he'd said was 99, so I said the next number was 100.

I hope that my subconscious was telling the truth. I can just see this coming back to haunt me later...

"But Mom, you said that 100 comes after 35!"

Lila got to the car shortly after that and she became his What-Comes-Next Helper. I only stepped in when she told him that 1000 comes after 199. By the time we got to our neighborhood, Lila's voice had taken on a bit of an edge.

When I got out of the car and came into our house, Eli was going strong. Several seconds later, Lila came in, quickly shut the door behind her, and said, "He's still counting! He's at 300 now!"

She had such a perfect look of consternation on her face that I just started giggling. Shortly afterward, Eli came in the front door, still counting, and that made me giggle even more. As he sat down and started taking his socks and shoes off - still counting - I managed to ask him,

Me: "So... what's your plan for counting? Like... when are you going to stop?"
Eli: "Stop me when I get to 101."
Me: "Dude. You passed up 101 a long time ago."
Eli: "I did?!? Wow. I didn't even know I counted to 101."

And, just like that, he was done.

Then I noticed that my daughter wasn't wearing any pants...



"Nothing that grieves us can be called little: by the eternal laws of proportion a child's loss of a doll and a king's loss of a crown are events of the same size." -- Mark Twain

It seems that many things are grieving me this week, but I suppose it's really only two.

1. My Sanity
2. My Daughter

On the topic of my sanity... [sigh]

I fought hard, but I've decided to begin taking the higher dose of Paxil CR again. The physical side effects of withdrawal have all passed - no more dizziness or headaches or tummy trouble - and the emotional roller coaster has settled down to a normal level.

Unfortunately, in place of those things, I have anger. Lots of it. It's big and irrational. By yesterday afternoon, I didn't like any member of my family anymore and I realized I also didn't like who I'd become. I feel hostile all the time.

If I had to guess, I'd say this is a sign of my obsessive/compulsive tendencies re-emerging. I feel, increasingly, the need to have things "just so". Things from tidy piles of paper to the actions of every person within my home. That perceived need + real life = Not a Good Combination.

I've also become hyper-sensitive to noise. It feels like my children never stop talking. Ever. I have recently encountered people whose normal voice sounded like a worm in my brain and made me want to punch them in the face. And it's even worse when I'm in a crowded place.

So, I have a follow-up appointment with my doctor on Friday, but I consider that a formality. I am going back to 25 mg. Even that makes me angry! To make myself feel better, I keep reminding myself that this is still half the amount I was taking several months ago.

On the topic of my daughter... [sigh]

I have to admit that Lila's recent behavior could be, in part, a reaction to my own behavior changes (just another reason to get myself sorted out), but whatever the cause -- she's lost her ever-loving mind. You would think this child had been raised by wild animals.

Really rude and nasty wild animals.

Really rude and nasty anarchist wild animals.

She spent the better part of the day in her bedroom, refusing to take care of her school responsibilities. This has been a problem for a couple of weeks now, and she's so far behind that we didn't even get to start on today's homework.

I finally told her that she has lost all privileges, of every kind, until she has caught up on school work. I cannot make her do the work, but I don't have to give her any special treatment while she's being disrespectful and defiant.

I also told her, quite plainly, that I love her so very very much, but when she's being this rude and contrary... I don't want to be around her. At all. And I pointed out that it's not just me. When you are mean and unpleasant, people don't want to be around you. At all.

If one or both of these problems does not improve within the next week, I might have to run away and join the circus. I could tend the animals. And line up the tickets in very tidy stacks and rows. Oh, wait -- circuses are loud, aren't they?

Fine, I'll sell my family to a circus and stay in the quiet house by myself.



My photo shoot with the kids was actually a success! They are not professional, but they are candid. That's the way (uh huh, uh huh) I like it!

The scrub in the background makes this a very Hill Country setting.

You really aren't as funny as you think you are, Mom.

I'm kind of obsessed with this shot.

Eli had the camera.

Lila's turn with the camera.

And this is where the bluebonnet became a weapon of some sort.

Nothing like picking your nose in the bluebonnets!

I was instructed to "do something silly."




I despise April Fools' Day.

I tend to trust that people are telling the truth when they speak (though sometimes i wonder why), so I fall for everything.

Jump out and scare me - okay. Tape all my possessions to my desk - okay. Trick me into believing something is true when it isn't - HATE IT.

I'm still bitter about last year because www.thinkgeek.com tricked me into believing they were making the most awesome alarm clock ever.

(It was so awesome that I don't even want to talk about it.) I was so excited that I sent the link to Doug and told him that was what I wanted for my birthday. I was seriously upset when I found out it was a trick.

This year, I started preparing myself last night. I reminded myself repeatedly throughout the day that I should believe no one and no thing that I see. It was so bad that I was doubting legitimate news stories!

And that's just ONE of the reasons I'm glad this day is nearly over!

It was actually a fine day, up until about 4 p.m. That's when the world (or rather, my brain) came crashing down around me. I'm still not sure exactly what happened, but it ended with me curled up on my bed, sobbing.

I was remarkably patient all day, even when Eli was being a butt about his school work. (At what age do children learn that being a butthead does not make your responsibilities disappear?) We got a lot of work done and were on target to finish everything.

Then, suddenly, I had no patience. At all. I felt irrationally hostile toward everyone and everything. I got so exasperated that I was being quite rude to the kids. I finally called it quits on school and sent myself to my room.

We always tell the kids that they are welcome to be mean/rude/throw a fit/whatever - they just need to go to their room to do so. That way they won't hurt anyone else with their words or actions. If I can say one positive thing about the afternoon, it's that I modeled this principle.

I went to my room and stomped around and yelled into a pillow until I got it all out. Then I started crying because the whole experience was so discouraging. I have such a fear that this is the new normal. That I will forever be irritable and unstable.

First, I know, logically, that this is unlikely. For one thing, I remember being in this exact position when I reduced my dose the first time. I was crying in my bed, convinced that I was not going to be a good mother (or person, in general) without the medication.

I know, logically, that my body is still adjusting. As physical proof, I've had a headache for two days. That happened the first time too. And my doctor prepared me that this transition would likely be worse than the first time. [sigh] Okay.

I also know that, if this doesn't go away, if I continue to struggle so severely, then I can always go back to the higher dose of medication. And I know - again - logically speaking, that this would be an okay outcome.

But, I am a very stubborn person and a perfectionist. So it would FEEL like a failure.

And now, I need to go separate my darling children into different bedrooms, so they'll actually go to sleep. In closing, I'm glad this day is over. I will continue to be patient and to ask for forgiveness from my family. A lot.

And I'll ask you to continue to pray for me, send me hugs, and remind me as often as you can that God is powerful and I am surrounded by people who love me.

- - - - -

I know there are certain people who read my blog primarily for the photos of my children, so here's one for you!

Eli, with The Cat in The Hat!