All school year, I felt incredibly busy. There was always so much to do and not enough time to do it. It was even worse at the end of the year because I was emotionally exhausted, from the work itself and from the ongoing battles with Lila's attitude.

So, for all that busyness, I never felt productive.

Now that summer vacation has begun, I feel incredibly productive. That seems sort of silly to say, since this is only the second official day of our break, but it's true! Without such a busy schedule to follow, I am free to take care of to-do items when they pop into my head.

Two weeks ago, if a to-do item came to mind, I'd groan to myself and walk around an inch shorter from the weight of all the things that needed doing, pressing down on me. Not a good feeling.

I'm sure that some of my productive vigor comes from the many hours I spent on cleaning and organizing this weekend. But the very fact that I've updated my blog for three days in a row, is a clear sign that I'm lighter of mind and schedule!

I'll need to be careful not to overload myself with new and exciting summer plans. I'm full of energy and the thrill of a new season and everything sounds like a good idea. I learned a long time ago, however, never to plan more than two things in a day.

Today, we went to the gym and the library in the morning. We were home in time for lunch, and spent the rest of the day here. That was just right. We still had plenty of time to take care of less-than-exciting daily responsibilities and some simple relaxation.

Now, I need your opinion on something...

I am staunchly anti-e-reader. I want a real, honest paper book. One that I can put my hands on (and never needs charging) (and I don't have to stop breathing if I accidentally drop it) (and I'm incredibly old-fashioned in a lot of ways).

However, Lila has a Kindle Fire. She goes through phases of using it often and then ignoring it for a long time (usually because it needs charging and she can't be bothered to plug it in). Today, she spent most of her day reading books on the thing.

I felt like I should tell her to put it down and find something else to do, but I was torn. If it were a "real" book that she was reading, I wouldn't have given it a second thought. But isn't it really a bad idea to spend hours staring at a little electronic screen?

Or am I being an unreasonable luddite?

At the very least, I should ask her to stop reading and walking at the same time. She's going to hurt herself!


Eli's Birthday Party Photos

Eli, decorating his own birthday cake. If you want a thing done right...

Posing with the coolest Iron Man balloon ever.

Photo-bombed by Brandon. This whole set-up
cracks me up!

So many LEGOS!

In Eli's opinion, it's not a birthday party unless
there's a piƱata.

Can you tell which children play baseball?

There's another one.

The Kill Shot.

Lila was the only one who didn't get a turn, so we let her take a few whacks
at it on the ground.

Opening presents, with a spellbound audience.

Body slamming his new giant bear.

It was a great birthday!



Wow, it's been a week since I wrote a blog post. That would be because the past week was CRAZYTOWN! It was the last week of school, plus Lila's ballet recital was Saturday. Then we threw on some major de-cluttering and organizing, just to spice things up.

I spent hours - literally, hours - cleaning the playroom today. I should be exhausted, but I feel energized instead. Getting rid of things and watching a room clear out and become pretty... well, it makes me a very cheerful person.

I touched every single toy (and piece of trash) in that room, and made sure it was in its home. The whole floor is clean now! It hasn't looked like this in... EVER. And it is making it infinitely easier for the kids to look through their things and decide what to get rid of.

None of this would have been possible if Joe and Irene hadn't taken the kids to spend the night at their house. If they had been home, this would have been a far more stressful day! I carried out two big bags full of trash, just from that one room.

And we have a large garbage bag full of things to sell/give away. Hopefully, there will be quite a few more things that end up in the sell bag. The only down side to the room being so clean and organized now is that it's disguising just how much crap is still in there!

Doug spent his day out in the garage. Right now, one side of the garage is clean enough to park a car in. It has been Doug who parks there, because his car is newer (and I just don't care). Now that I have a new car, he wants to clean the other side as well.

So, we'll be clearing a lot of stuff out of our garage. This is highly gratifying and very addictive for me. At the same time, I want it to be done, so that we can move on with life. Oh well, only two weeks until the garage sale...

Since this was kind of a boring update, I'll throw in a moderately cute photo of one of my extremely cute kids.

Pre-K Teddy Bear Picnic



We just had the following Talk with our children...

"I have a couple of problems and an event I'd like to talk to you guys about. First, you have probably noticed how much time Dad and I spend cleaning the house, to make it a nice place for our family to live.

"As part of members of this family, we ask you guys to be part of the clean ups. We know that you don't really enjoy doing a lot of cleaning. We’ve also heard both of you say that the work is too hard, when cleaning up a lot of toys. We understand because we have begun to notice that a lot of the time we spend cleaning is picking up toys and cleaning up messes on your side of the upstairs and it IS hard!

"Second, Eli just had a birthday and Lila’s got one coming up soon. Dad and I have had a hard time deciding on presents because there doesn’t seem to be much room in your bedroom or playroom for new toys and because you both have so many toys already.

“God has blessed us to be able to buy, not just the things that we need, but also a lot of the things that we want. God also asks us to take care of our things and share the things that he gives us.

"Finally, our small group is going to be having a charity garage sale in a few weeks. That means we are going to give all the money we make from selling our things to a group that will use the money to help people in need.

“Remember the meal packing event we did at church? We’ll be giving the money to organization: Feed My Starving Children. The more we sell, the more people we can help. Dad and I have been thinking, praying, and talking, and I think we've come up with a solution that will solve all of those problems and help others!

"It might not sound like a good idea at first, but I'll explain. We are going to go through the whole house (including the playroom) and pull out a lot of our things and toys. Then we will sell those things, along with a lot of Mommy and Daddy's things, in the garage sale.

"How does that sound? Awesome or pretty awful?!? But, let me explain! After we do this...

1. Dad and I will have more time to take care of our other responsibilities, so we will have more time to play, because we won't have to spend so much time cleaning.

2. The playroom (and the rest of the house) will be a nicer place to spend time.

3. We won't have to ask you two to pick up your toys so often.

4. There will be plenty of room for your new birthday presents!

5. We will be able to give a lot of money to a group that can help hungry children, which will make God very happy!

"I would love your help in choosing which toys to keep and which to sell. I know it will be a difficult task, however, so Dad and I are willing to do it on our own, if you'd prefer.

"Do you have any questions or feelings you'd like to share?"

You can probably guess how well that went over. Eli was too busy playing with his tiny dinosaurs to even care. Lila acted like we just told her we were going to execute a litter of puppies. We reassured them that we're not asking them to give up their favorite toys.

I'm sure there will be some tears, nonetheless. We're talking about major downsizing here. Personally, I'm pretty excited about it. (The downsizing; not the tears.) I hate stuff! I have long entertained fantasies about tossing a match into the playroom and shutting the door.

I'm pretty sure that's a sign of mental illness, but we don't need to talk about that.

Who needs toys when you've got ME?



First, the good news:

Eli ate all of his dinner again! It was much the same as Monday night's meal, only there were chunks of strawberry instead of apple. Eli was fairly unhappy about this change. Strawberries are one of those foods that he used to eat and now he's afraid of.

I really wanted his second Dinner Winner meal to be a success, so I even cut the seeds off the strawberry chunks for him! After a lot of patience and encouraging him to just walk away and try again tomorrow, if this was too stressful, he finally mustered the courage to try a bite.

Then he said, quite casually, "Oh, I totally remember the taste of the strawberries. I like them."

I just kept my I-told-you-so to myself and let him know how very proud I was of him, for overcoming his fear!

Now, on to the bad news:

I got calls today, telling me that two different family members are in the hospital!

Grandma, Mary Priddy, had a double mastectomy a few weeks ago, and she's due to start chemotherapy next week. Today, she went in to have a CT scan and a body scan done. After the CT scan, they told her she had a blood clot(s) in her lung(s) and sent her to the ER.

Yikes! In the ER, they started her on medication to break up the clot(s) and then sent her back to finish her body scan. Now she's spending the night in the hospital, where they will do more tests and continue her medication.

My step-mother, Susan Priddy, is supposed to have a knee replacement surgery in mid-June. She had an ECG done at her surgeon's office, as part of the pre-operative testing, and he told her he didn't like the results. (What an annoying thing for a doctor to say.)

She was then referred to a cardiologist for further testing. I don't know whether or not she had seen him yet, but my dad came home from physical therapy yesterday (he's had recent back surgery) and found her barely able to talk.

The only words she could get out were, "Something's wrong." To say that he was scared would be the worst sort of understatement. They called the cardiologist, who got her into the hospital ASAP. After a number of tests, they determined that she has a constricted (obstructed?) vein (artery?) in her arm.

The obstruction is causing the blood to flow backward, into her brain. (If you know something about medical conditions, and this sounds totally made up... I'm doing my best to remember everything as it was told to me.)

On Friday morning, she will have an angiogram done, to verify that this is truly what's happening. If needed, she will also have an angioplasty, to open up the artery, and possibly have a stent put in. And she's mostly worried about whether this will keep her from getting her knee replaced!

What the heck, man? My Dallas peeps are falling apart!

After getting off the phone from the second round of news, I told the kids what was going on with Grandma (their great-grandmother) and Susan (their grandmother). In vexation, I said, "What is going on in Dallas?!?"

Lila's response...

"I don't know. . . They're just old."



Oh. My. Goodness.

A miracle has just occurred in my house.

Eli ate dinner.

I mean it - really! He ate dinner!

As a birthday gift, I got him a Dinner Winner plate. It turns eating into a game with a little hidden surprise at the end... and it worked! I filled the spaces with a couple of chunks of hamburger bun, several peanuts, a couple of small bites of apple, a lettuce leaf topped with chocolate almond butter, and a bit of black bean burger.

Hidden in the Finish space was a small chocolate, but we didn't tell him what was in there. He had to make it to the end to find out. He ate every bit of the food. With out a bit of complaining or stalling or gagging.

I'm still in shock.

This is the child who would rather go to bed with no dinner, than eat something that isn't bread. Doug reminded me that we should assume it will never happen again, but I can't help being hopeful! Eli even asked if we could use the Dinner Winner plate every night!

Praise God!

- - - - -

Unrelated, except that it's on the topic of food, I have a couple of recommendations for my gluten-free peeps.

1. Chisos Grill in the Hill Country Galleria - We ate at this place for Mother's Day lunch and it was amazing! Not only do they have an extensive gluten-free menu (including fried fish, if you're into that kind of thing), but everything that we ordered was incredibly tasty!

2. Omission Beer - I was just learning to like beer before I found out I was gluten intolerant. After my switch to gluten-free living, I tried Redbridge beer and I didn't really like it. I've heard some recommendations for Omission, so I tried their pale ale. It's quite good!



Eli came home from school today with a bag of Mothers' Day goodies for me. Since there was no one around to tell us that we had to wait until Sunday, he decided I should open them today. There was a drawing, a hand-drawn and written card (which included a picture of Eli and I together, Jesus peering down at us from Heaven, and the three crosses of Golgotha in the background), a cup of homemade peppermint sugar scrub, and - my favorite - The Mommy Test.

This was a little "How well do you know your mom?" quiz that each student answered verbally and their teacher wrote their exact answers on the sheet. The questions, and Eli's answers, are as follows:

The Mommy Test

1. What is your Mom's name?


2. How old is your Mom?

     "I don't remember. She just had a birthday."

3. What does your Mom do during the day while you are at school?

     "She goes to the gym and does other stuff also."

4. What do you like best about your Mom?

     "That she's crazy."

5. Why did God make Moms?

     "To take care of her kids."

6. Who is your Mom's best friend?

     "She has a lot of best friends, but I don't remember their names."

7. What is your favorite thing to do with your Mom?

     "Cheese Fight."

8. Why did your Mom marry your Dad?

     "Because she loves him."

9. Who is the boss at your house?

     "My Mom and Dad."

10. What does your Mom do for fun?

     "Watch America's Funniest Home Videos."

I love it! He's got me pretty well pegged. And I love his diplomatic answer about who's the boss at our house! The only answer I question is number 10. It would seem that Eli doesn't recognize book reading as a form of fun. I watch AFV about once per month. I read books all the time!

A Cheese Fight, if you're curious, is a creation of Eli's. The short version is this: It's a wrestling match that takes place on the couch. More specifically, it happens when we've all watched a video together, the video gets turned off, then one of my kids yells, "Cheese Fight!" and attacks me.



A generous person will be enriched,
and the one who gives a drink of water
will receive water.
(Proverbs 11:25)

Doug and Eli stopped at a coffee shop/pizza restaurant in
Brenham, on their way to Camp Allen.
I'm home alone with Lila this weekend. Well, Friday afternoon to Saturday evening - not the whole weekend. Doug and Eli are gone to Camp Allen for a weekend retreat with friends/their church. The whole family was supposed to go, and really wanted to!

Unfortunately, Lila had another bad beginning to the week and got so far behind on school work that there was no way to finish it all before we would have needed to leave. It was a very tough decision to make, but we decided she would learn the most from not going.

We told her that she couldn't go to the camp after all, because she'd need to catch up on school work. And I have to stay home with her, because I'm her teacher. We didn't lecture or get angry; we just laid it out simply and expressed our genuine sadness at the situation.

I really expected some Biblical Style weeping and gnashing of teeth because this was going to be a weekend at camp with her best friend! She has handled it all remarkably well, however. Because there was no frustration or lecturing from us, she had no one to be mad at.

There was no one to blame for the consequences, except herself. I'm praying like crazy that she will learn a lesson and that it will stick! We've had so much trouble with her behavior lately. She has to learn that it's not okay to walk away from your responsibilities.

You have to do your job, even when you don't feel like it. And it's not okay to be a jerk when you don't feel like doing your job either. She can be so sweet. Most people who know her only see the sweet and respectful side of her personality.

But boy! can she be nasty when she's upset about something. And she is Stubborn! (I can't imagine where she got a trait like that. [shifty eyes]) Eli can be a right little bugger sometimes too, but he doesn't tend to hang onto things like she does.

Today, I kept using this line on her: "I am happy to help you catch up on school work, as long as you are being kind and polite." She was instantly suspicious. "What does that mean?!?" Me: "It's just a statement. A fact. I'm telling you what I'm willing to do."

When she continued to be rude, I said, "Please go up to your room until you are ready to be kind and polite to me." That seemed to be mildly more effective than telling her she could go to her room until she was ready to do her school work. She wants to be kind. She does not want to do school work.

Anyway, there were some tears when Doug and Eli left this afternoon, but she recovered very quickly. Not only did she recover, but she was downright cheerful! She enjoys being alone with one of us. I think she feels a little more grown up that way.

The upside of being alone together all evening: one kids is way easier than two. No bickering or competing or mutinies. The downside of being alone together all evening: I was Lila's sole source of entertainment for the three hours between the end of school and bedtime!

We had some fun though. No eating out and no videos, because she gets no privileges until she's caught up on her work. So we ate leftovers for dinner, went for a long walk, laid on my bed together and read books, and played Twister.

Now Lila is (presumably) asleep in my bed!