checking in

My dear daughter is going to update the blog tomorrow.

For now, I'm up too late.

Here's hoping you had good food, good company, more blessings than you deserve and a thankful heart.

Did you shop on Friday? Please tell me what your best deals were?! This was my first time out in a decade! What a rookie I was! Got some deals, good ones. More importantly the shopping --done. I have two small items to pick up online but that is it baby!

I feel better, I'm cleared for exercise, now just have to remember how to really sweat. I hate to sweat these days.

Can't remember what else I thought I needed to say but here's hoping you are ready for Advent! I'll be sharing my plans over at STWGL.

Blessings! Robin
This year I made the very best turkey --- ever! I make a mean turkey, period but this was the best. This was art, a poultry masterpiece. He (Thomas the turkey) was flavorful, moist, even the leftovers were dripping with juices after camping out in the fridge all night. Martha Stewart sat around Friday wishing she had made a turkey so spectacular as mine. He was the perfect color. He should have been photographed! I thought Fox was going to send Rick Leventhal to interview me but there was a major international incident that called him away.

I have a secret recipe. Call me Colonel.

I hate exercise

I had to exercise yesterday, it was exhausting, hectic, and I am clearly out of shape. I did stairs, well technically at least... The Real Housewives of Atlanta Reunion show was on and I wanted a yogurt. I had to run downstairs and get back up during the commercial break.


A smart guy

We chat about all our stuff all the time but if you would enjoy something a bit different you need to read Steve's blog.

Now that the website is up and running, he is part of the team and he will be contributing. So his blog is linked under "The Team".

It's called the Green Arrow Guide to Revolutionary Heroism.

It will make you think. There is a wealth guide on the site currently. We put our income in and learned that we are in the top 1.5% of wealthy people in the world. We are not wealthy by US standards but add in the rest of the world and we live like the Trump's! Perspective.

Steve will be adding his thoughts to book and movie reviews too. Oddly enough we see them differently sometimes. go figure?

He's been talking recently about his disgust with the election, the recession, etc.

He also discusses many of these issues from the perspective of heroes, and comic books. If you have any sci-fi fans, or comic book lovers in your house...they will get a kick out of it.

Blessed to be his girl,
Quick update:

Had my x-rays today, probably pneumonia. See doc Friday (before lunch I think). Called the office and gave them Hades today. I told the office manager exactly what I think of his rude receptionist.

This made me think...

I am spending a fortune, a fortune in medical bills. I'm sure my health insurer just loves me, I'm their worst nightmare. The last MRI cost them over $9000.00. I told the office manager and I mean it, I am paying between (myself and my agents i.e. my health insurer) upwards of $120+ for 15- 20 minutes of my doctor's time. I expect to treated with a little courtesy, I expect my phone calls to be returned, I expect to be told when my test results are in as opposed to calling back for 2 days. I expect them to CARE for me since they are my healthcare providers. I told him, I am sick. I am calling for help in getting well, how dare she be short with me, cut me off when I am explaining a problem. Don't call me "hon", it's Mrs. (X) to her. I've heard her, while in the office being snarky to patients, then hanging up and bad mouthing them to other staff. Her workspace is a pigsty and it's no wonder it takes her two days to find my file to call me back.

I also told him (since he is my doctor's husband) that from a professional prospective this is not how one builds a thriving practice - running off a family of five when my care alone could probably remodel their kitchen!

He apologized and took copius notes or so he said. He called back apologized again, said he was very sorry for what I've gone through. I suppose he looked at the medical record.

I canceled my appointment today with my eye doctor tomorrow. 2 months ago I needed new contacts, they were out and I asked for the script to get them elsewhere. The script they gave me was wrong. I had changed brands. They said the couldn't help me because the doc left early (it was Fri). I said he doesn't take calls? It's 2 pm on Fri? "This is not an emergency." She couldn't give me a different answer at all. I left irritated called her back a couple hours later and said - don't you have some samples or trials - something to get me through the weekend?


I went and got them.

Now tell me why on earth wouldn't she offer that up when I was standing there? Why wouldn't she do everything she could to help?

Doctors are a dime a dozen, a good one is priceless. I am not paying for poor care anymore.

cheese, change and no tv

So I want to make cheese & butter.

I'm looking at organic, grass fed beef, raw milk, and other natural products. I'm excited to see what's available in my area. Though raw milk is a whopping $10 a gallon - yes you read that correctly - that's US dollars not pesos or yen! The other products are completely competitive. I am looking for sheep's milk for the cheese making, to see if it might be cheaper. When we switch we will be abandoning cereal from the menu 3 days a week. These guys use TONS of milk, and waste tons too.

Making cheese does not seem difficult at all! I am jazzed. Processed cheese is not very good, it's not good for you and the really good stuff is not cheap.

I was directed to some great websites Weston A Price for starters, when I asked on the CCM board for some input. This is a lot to take in and I am giving it all serious consideration.

oooh I got a juicer too, mom gave it to me on this trip. Now what all can I...ya know juice? Carrots, apples, oranges? k, got that...tomatoes? input?

Being truly present in my home, in my life, in each moment that comes is a singular new goal for me. I remember reading a Tao principle once that spoke about when you sleep...sleep. When you It made me think of what the Bible says, there being a time for every purpose. I read it differently recently though thinking, perhaps it means to fully be present in every purpose.

Too often I have prided myself on my ability to multitask. Isn't that supposed to be a wonderful ability? Is it always? I take time in the van to make phone calls. I could be talking with the children I am carrying. I talk on the phone and cook instead of enjoying the experience of cooking. I talk and clean house instead of cleaning carefully and being thankful, relaxed or joyful when I'm cleaning. I talk when...suffice it to say I talk too much.

In my prayer and contemplation something else occurred to me. I was praying for the faith of the Saints. "Oh Lord, why can't I have the faith of St. Paul, the dedication, the insight, the gifts!!" God said to me in not too many words. Paul didn't have email, internet, cell phones, tv, transportation, or thousand noises competing with MY voice for his attention every moment of the day. eh hem. I can't say God actually cleared His throat, but I might have heard it.

I imagined St. Paul walking everywhere. Days, weeks, months, years when you add it up spent just walking from one place to the other. (sometimes walking really fast to flee!) but how much quiet time alone with Jesus! How much easier it was to listen when He wasn't drowned out by tv, satellite radio, ipods, iphones, special rings, dvd players in the cars, and texting.

I can't follow, I can't know His plan for my life if I can't even hear Him when He speaks to me. Moreover, when I am not in control of when and how I allow access to my mind from this world when it becomes an out of control jam session with images and influences that are not even Godly, how can I ever know of or live the blessed, amazing life He planned for me? I can't.

So it's gone a step further, if I can't follow my Father when I am bombarded, how can I expect my children to follow our parental lead if they too are enveloped in noise. Thus the move toward more quiet.

I called today and arranged to cancel our satellite tv programming. We save money, sanity, remove some negative influence and it gets quieter!

You know there is a difference between turning on the tv to watch a program, even one you've recorded. But how often I found the tv being turned on out of pure habit, or just for noise, out of boredom. As we've been trying to be more discerning and prepare the kids for the change over to no cable/satellite programming, I've found them watching so much less tv. We spend lots of time together but turning off that noise box with the bright colors has made an enormous difference.

I've allowed the game systems to be put in the boys rooms now but NOT the controllers. Those they have to "check out" and turn in when the game time is up. Really this is not for Corey, only William. I'm not worried about the games they play they don't own anything that concerns me. Corey plays only a few hours a week, he is just too busy with work. Corey got Halo this week. It's only 4 weeks before his 18th birthday, I think he's ready!

I have to tell you I am not sad to see the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon go. These programs - Hannah Montana, iCarly, all of them have one thing in common. The kids are the stars. Think about that for a second. The parents are clueless idiots, the kids are the stars, it always feeds on drama, deceptions, and the kids are running around doing stuff constantly that the parents are unaware of. Is it any wonder when kids think they can speak to their parents in the same way? Or have unlimited resources, freedom, "privacy", relationships, etc?

Steve made this call YEARS ago with Lizzie McGuire. He said she speaks to her parents in sarcastic, soundbites like they are stupid and it's contagious. He's right.

We don't let the kids watch violence because we don't want to desensitize them to it, so why allow them to be desensitized to disrespect for parents?

The kids are actually totally fine with the tv programming being gone. It's not been presented to them EVER as a punitive move. In place of tv time, they are having our attention. We are having fun. They've been promised daily tv time with a netflix movie or tv series (they have every tv series!!) we've ordered. But it will be something that is planned, that is for us all to do together or maybe a girl thing, or just the guys. It will have purpose. We've also let them help us plan what we'll do with all the money we are saving. The consensus - a new computer for the classroom.

So this and much more is what I've been contemplating deeply for many weeks and especially whilst I've been sick and unable to do little more than think, pray, write, and read. Oh and eat. I look and feel like Jabba the Hut! Not to worry, the very day the doc clears me I am going to the gym like a crazy person! Weight like money comes and goes, I put it on, I can take it off. no problem.

Many blessings!
I know I've been a bit on the quiet side lately.

I'm going through what I can only describe as a personal archaeological excavation. It's soul searching, spiritual renewal, thought, prayer, planning, evaluating, re-evaluating, and a diet.

I asked God during my Lenten experience to bring me closer to Him. I said God whatever it takes, whatever you want to do with me I will follow you.

This has been one monster of a year.

Some of the Advent structure

I wanted to share some of the structure for my Advent plan. The details will be forthcoming with pics to help illustrate the specifics.

The First Sunday of Advent begins November 30th. So if you don't have everything you need for your Advent Wreath you still have time.

My plan for Advent begins the day after Thanksgiving and runs through the Feast of the Epiphany.

I'll go back and touch on these events and holidays, promise.

Every year I want to squeeze every moment of joy out of the holidays.

Is it too much to ask? I want: great food, to create amazing memories, give perfect gifts, make crafts, send cards on time, make all the parish and community events, visit family and friends, take professional quality photos, not gain 10 pounds, sew something special, try those recipes from Southern Living, cut a real tree, decorate it like Better Homes and Gardens, get a decent parking place at the mall, and all while keeping Christ at the very center of the celebration?

Yes of course it's a lot to ask, but you know what I want it anyway.

So an Advent plan for me is like any other plan I use. It helps me get the very most of what.

This years plan is more like a plan/calendar/curriculum.

To pull it together I started by pooling the resources. I made a list of books and stories I wanted to read aloud or have the kids read. As a family we made a list of all the movies we like to watch. I marked events like the Immaculate Conception, Saints, Los Posadas, Way of Lights, etc. I reviewed community calendars and special events, as well as parish events.

Then I made a list of the special things I like to do with the family. Things which I again I promise to expound probably in agonizing detail, later.

For example-

Crowning gifts: We make a collage from some of the Christmas cards and then cut crowns from them. We decorate them with glitter and on the back we write down the gifts we received that year.

Mary, Queen of Heaven Tree:
Small artificial tree decorated with prayer cards made into blue and silver ornaments with Mary topping the tree and blue and silver ribbon.

Christmas Light Tour:
We have always made a special evening of bundling up with blankets, warm cookies and thermos' of hot chocolate, then driving around to look at Christmas lights in our town.

Several baking days:
Cookies, breads, pies

Gifts for the neighbors:
We bake cookies, candy and treats and carry them to the neighbors.

Paper Crafts:
Snowflakes, paper chains, snowmen, penguins, etc.

Birthday Cake for Jesus:
The kids make a cake for Jesus

Movie Nights:
We have some 30 favorite movies so evenings after supper, stories, and other events are often spent cozied up with our favorite movies.

Geography of the Birth:
Fleeing to Egypt, Census, - this year we are doing the Astronomy of the Star

Gingerbread Houses:
Everybody makes the best gingerbread house

Angel Tree Shopping:

Feasts, dinners with friends, all the community and parish things.

(so there are a few of the ideas)

I'm adding this year - Boxing Day, Christmas Date, & a St. Lucia Breakfast which I am very excited about.

I take the business of the season and think it out too. Never have I laid out quite this well though so I am very excited!!!

A business examples:

Snow Fun:
No I am not predicting or scheduling the weather (yet). But when the snow comes we want to enjoy it. We can't enjoy it we don't have what we need. So I've already purchased the new snow pants/bibs, located & double checked that boots fit, made sure we had coats, gloves, hats, and scarves. We have the sleds, stocked up on hot chocolate and marshmellows.

Cold Weather Prep:
We have our first load of firewood put up, we've cleaned the chimney, serviced the furnace, and gotten the heating blankets out.

Some of the stuff to still do:
I still have food stocking to finish
Rock salt to buy
Garage to straighten so both cars fit comfortably.
Cutting the tree
Decorating outside
Decorating inside
Getting the Wreath ready
Buying the candles


All these things and plenty more are going on a GIANT Advent Bulletin Board. I am still working on this - I have 2 weeks. I've covered it with pretty papers, it will be decorated with ribbons and bows. Each event has a little description I typed up. I've used old Christmas cards (appropriate for the event - like a singing angels one on the day for caroling) for each day, with the description on the inside. There is a little date on the outside, little cut out books with the book titles on each they can choose from, little dvd's to pick movies from too.

The kids are very excited to see everything in store for them this year. Steve is excited to have so many opportunities for family time doing activities that he sometimes doesn't get to join in during school time.

I did not realize until I began to write all our traditions down how much there really is! I am working on producing an Advent Plan for families but it will not be ready this year. It will be a project I work on next year. Additionally we do Lent & Easter big as well so I am making Lenten notes and I may be able to share a written Lenten plan in January.

I'll be posting pics and sharing as I go - I am having SO much fun doing this, the kids are thrilled, and I am looking forward to every single day from Thanksgiving to the Feast of the Epiphany.

We're back!

It's very good to be home.

We had a lovely trip and the kids had a wonderful time with family. To Steve's dismay the kids did not miss us much.

Aunt Rhonda introduced William to toaster waffles. He'd never seen them before. He thought she had quite nearly invented the wheel he was so impressed. He tattled on his cousin and was aghast to learn that one of his grandmothers and one of his grandfathers had voted for Barack Obama. Uncle Carl let him drive the golf cart and to his horror reluctantly supervised his shower. William doesn't like to be left alone while he showers, he is always worried (this makes no sense) that someone will come in.

They watched movies, Nana took them to see Madagascar 2. She has saved so many of Steve's toys William


This is Audrey.

Isn't she lovely?

She's my grandma. She's funny, resourceful, ironic, talented, loving, loyal, and beautiful.
She has lived through so much. In her eyes all those years, the difficulties, are beginning to show. All my life she was unflappable. She was the rock for her children, her many siblings, nieces and nephews, her friends. She would come up with money, resources, whatever was needed. She never pursued personal goals, or dreams. Her only purpose was survival and the survival of those she loved. She never pampered herself, spoiled herself, she never did anything for herself. never. She never spent an extra dollar on some silly thing. She never took herself on a trip. She never pursued romance. She loved and married my grandfather. He broke her heart. She remarried briefly and was widowed. She never stopped loving or hating my grandfather in equal parts. She lived nearly all her life without a partner. She never got a driver's license.

Her life revolves around those she loves, it always has. Her happiness has been intimately linked to how much she is needed, her value on how what she can do for others.

She is loved so dearly. Time with her and memories of her are like a warm blanket to me and I know to everyone in my family. I wonder though if she feels that love? She has given so much of herself, emptied herself so completely that her love can never be matched in return. It isn't possible to compete with her in sacrifice.

She is a link in a chain of women in my family who sacrifice themselves, body and heart, for their family.

I need to learn from her new lessons. She has taught me so much throughout my life - cooking, flowers, sewing, cards, but I realize in spending time with her this week she has far greater things to teach me.

I pray only for the time to learn all she has to offer and the wisdom to understand it.

I love you Grandma.

love hate relations...with food

I don't know when I threw up for the first time. I used a toothbrush because I couldn't gag myself. I think I was maybe 11? My stomach was always upset. In the third grade the doctor said I had a "nervous stomach". At some in elementary school I had an upper GI and I think that was the point I was diagnosed with peptic ulcers. I don't remember exactly but from then on through high school I would leave class to sip milk and crackers in the nurses office all day. See drama.

I had been athletic and thin but puberty had hit hard and I really hated by body. My breasts were huge I was curvy and I was constantly getting unwanted attention. Grown men would flirt with me. I loved and hated the attention to be honest. I wanted them to like me but I hated myself for being pathetic and needy for it.

As I gained weight no one would let up on me. My weight was, is, a constant topic of debate and discussion among the women in my family.

I started out wanting to lose weight. I threw up only occasionally for many years. In 1985 my friend Cara was killed in a car accident. She was not my closest friend. It hit hard though. The mortality. She was beautiful popular, not all screwed up like me. I thought it should have been me. Why couldn't it have? I'd had suicidial thoughts before but I became quite focused on death and began to have thoughts of suicide frequently then. At first they were random and in no small part it was an attempt to get some attention. I was crying out for help.

After the rape I began to binge and purge. Eat a lot and then vomit. It gradually got worse. By summer I had a boyfriend. I was not keeping much food down. I had sunken into a cycle of eating little, then binging and throwing up.

My parents were fishing one weekend and I went to the stock car races with my aunt, uncle grnadma and cousins. I collapsed in the bleachers. At the hospital I was spitting up some blood and my stats were all over the place. I was tight lipped. My mom came to the hospital. My dad stayed behind to watch the poles. The County Police had notified them at the lake - no cell phones. I will never understand why he didn't come that night.

At the hospital another aunt, one my age and close to me told the family she thought I was throwing up my food. The doctor asked me, I said sometimes. He advised them to have me admitted but talked with her about outpatient options. My mom said she would take care of it.

I was discharged later into my grandmothers care, my boyfriend took me home and stayed with me. Mom went back to the lake and didn't come back until the end of the weekend.

Late that night, my grandmother was asleep. My boyfriend sat on the floor by my bed, he seemed so worried. It meant so much to me that he would be there with me, that he really cared. I woke up and told him how much it meant. He kissed me. Then he began to try to grope me under my covers. I was crushed. I said no and he was sorry immediately.

For me, I remember thinking that no one cared about me. Not really. There I was vulnerable, hurt, damaged and just when I thought someone might be different they turn out exactly the same. Was he sitting there while I slept having sex thoughts? Is that all men think about?

I broke up with him a few days later. He was furious with me and I swear that guy hates me to this day. He has no idea the mess he had on his hands or the grief he was probably spared getting out early!

Nothing was discussed about my hospital trip for the rest of the summer. I began dating another boy. One I'd known since elementary school and whom had dated two of my close friends. When I began to date him I quickly lost those friends and the ones we shared in common. He had taken the virginity of one and the mother was quite vocal about it.

My parents knew but objected little. They had a talk with him. He was different to me. He listened to me. He bought me things, told me I was beautiful. He protected me from everyone and the more I shared with him, the more he was protecting me from my parents too. He was a year ahead of me in school. He was responsible and confident, even cocky. Not like me scared all the time of everything. I was drawn to him and I wanted to feel safe.

Having him in my life helped me move past the thoughts of suicide then. But one day we returned home from a date and my parents had a bag packed for me. They had found my suicide journal. I had to laugh. That journal was the most obnoxious, glarng red flag I could muster. It wasliquid angst, an unabashed plea for intervention. But I'd ditched in some weeks before and I couldn't even remember when I'd written in it last.

It didn't have any facts. It was funeral plans, and dark poems. It was ideas about how I could do it, or where. What people might say. Last letters to people.

They carted me off the Jefferson Hospital where the reject kids went. I was not happy. I wanted the help but I didn't want some lame local counseling for dropout place. In all honesty it was probably fine but I knew what kinds of kids went there, and eventhough I WAS one of them, I didn't want to be.

I had my interviews and the counselor told my family I was a field of red flags. They thought I should do inpatient treatment...till they heard the price tag after insurance. They had to sign a waiver saying they understood they were being warned that I might hurt myself when we left. They said they'd get me some counseling. I explained to them the journal was old, it was after Cara's death and they were satisfied with that explanation. I think they were relieved.

The next year went off alright. Danny and I grew very close, and I became completely dependent upon him. He was my world. We talked about our future, marriage. He was joining the Marines. We would move away.

The following year in August he left for boot camp and I began one semester of my senior year of high school. I'd been on track to graduate early but ditching some summer school to spend time with Danny before he left, I had fallen short a half credit. I went the first semester and only need an English credit. There was no modular scheduling so I had to go a full day, though I didn't usually.

While in boot camp as often does for young people we decided to get married. The wedding was hastily planned for immediately following his graduation from Basic Training. We married on November 18th, 1988. I graduated midterm in January 1989 and left for Virginia Beach, VA.

I ran from Indiana like my tail was on fire. I never wanted to go back. It was initially going to be a visit for a couple weeks but once there I couldn't go back. I called my folks to tell them the winter rates were cheap weekly in this little hotel by the beach and I could afford to stay. Danny was in his technical training and only able to join me on weekends.

I lived on Corn Flakes and watched Mtv. I was terrified of being alone though. I would stay up all night waiting for someone to climb the balcony and axe murder me, then sleep all day.

I stayed for 3 months then I went home, packed up a U-Haul and my parents drove me back t ou first apartment. I turned 18 in Virginia, married. Several months later I had a miscarriage. I didn't know I was pregnant and hadn't really thought about getting pregnant. After learning of the loss I wanted a baby very much. I was pregnant before my 19th birthday. When I was 12 weeks or so along I threatened to miscarry the baby again.

After the threat had passed I told my OBGYN that I had been throwing up ocassionally to keep my weight in check. I was 5 months and not gaining. I started counseling, and the flood gates opened up. I wanted my baby s desperately. I wanted to be healthy and not be a whack job like everyone else I knew. But I had no idea how to get that way. No model, no book. It was a long road I began then with a counselor named Anne.

How sad it makes me to be sitting here some 18 years later still thinking about the same pains. It's a tragedy really.

I stopped throwing up then. I did not know vomiting would hurt the baby. Pregnant women vomit right? I was a genius then, did I mention that?

I gained weight, lots of it. It was so painful. I made them weigh me backwards.

A shift occured in me during my pregnancy. I no longer lived for me. I never really cared much about me, but this baby, the baby was special and I would live for him. He would be my whole life. He would save me, give me meaning, and purpose. He would change me.

He would be born having no clue that his mom was a disaster.

I pulled it off. He really did change my life. He made me hungry to give him all I never had and through my counseling I learned that the first gift I had to give him was a good mother. I would have to learn from scratch about being a decent person, a healthy, normal, mentally stable, regular person. I didn't know any.