Ring, Ring, Ring: Short Fiction

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Phone picture, ringing short story

When I first heard the phone ringing, well – startled would be the accurate word for my reaction. I tripped over my own feet, the smooth pavement coming up – or was I going down – to meet my face.

My glasses skittered off and I fumbled around to find them, my whole face throbbing. I felt several things that I were certain not my glasses, but I was also certain I did not want to know what they were. Something wet, something slimy, and something fuzzy that moved when I touched it – that last one I especially did not want to know.

I found them at last and put them back on my face and slowly pushed myself back up. The ringing was still happening, so I felt my hands along the wall, until I ran into what felt like a phone. Instinctively, I answered it, but then, that moment after I picked it up, I paused. I looked around. Surely this phone was ringing for someone else? What was I doing answering a mystery phone call at midnight in the middle of an alley way? Was this some kind of set up whereby robbers jumped out and got me? A mugger, with a partner on the other line to do the ringing?

No, somebody like that would have already gotten me when I fell, right? Right. I think. I realized that faintly there was somebody saying, “Lori? Lori?” on the other end of the phone, so I took a deep breath and held it up to my ear.

“Hello?” I said.

“Oh thank goodness, Lori, I was beginning to worry somebody else had answered the phone and that you weren’t there, Lori. But how silly of me would that be? I know you are always there for me, Lori. Thank goodness, you are the best friend a girl has ever had, for sure, darling. Listen, I know you are always telling me not to, but I got myself in some real deep shit here, Lori, for reals. I need your help. I know you’ve always got my back. So listen, meet me in an hour at St. Vinnie’s and bring a pound of bacon, some rope, and some soap – a lot of soap – oh and while you’re at it, you should get some of that ice cream I like so much too. You know that kind with the little things of cookie dough and the chocolate chips and all that other good stuff. Of course you know, you never let me down, Lori. I’ll see you in an hour.”

“But wait -” I said, shocked into silence by the sheer force of this woman’s rambling. But it was too late, whoever was on the other end had hung up.

I checked my watch, 12:05 am. I should really go home. Leave Lori and this mysterious other woman to their own problems. It didn’t involve me. The woman didn’t even check to see if I was actually Lori first or not. But still . . .

“Siri, where is the closet 24 hour grocery store?”


This has been a work of fiction. Image from Barn Images. As always, this is a rough, rough story for the sake of stretching my story and writing skills, which I try to do regularly. Sometimes I share. Thanks for reading 🙂 

Counting to 1000 Gifts: 141-150

It’s been over a year since I last added to my list of 1000 gifts! So much has happened, but yet, it is the ordinary blessings that I try to seek to chronicle in these. It’s easy to be thankful for the big blessings, it’s the little ones that are more often overlooked.

141. I am having so much fun doing the Read the World book challenge with Dominic!

Our books from Europe week #GiveYourChildtheWorld

Our books from Europe Week

142. Delicious pot roast for dinner.

143. Finding extremely tasty cookies on clearance at the grocery store.

144. Watching Nick build train tracks with the boys

145. Seeing a bunch of my family this weekend

146. Having a clean front hall closet

Psst, that's our curriculum in the silver bin + the stuff on top! Not sure if this is going to work as an organizational system for now, but we're going with it haha.

Psst, that’s our curriculum in the silver bin + the stuff on top! Not sure if this is going to work as an organizational system for now, but we’re going with it haha.

147. Having all our curriculum set for starting in a month! I’m so excited, I love learning with Dominic!

148. Uncluttering our basement a bit more (mad props to Nick on this!)

149. Lots of rain – and that we didn’t lose power or suffer any damage during the storms

150. That both of the boys did well for their hair cuts! (Allen’s was even his first!)

First Haircut- Allen

What are some blessings you are seeing in your life lately? Do you have your own 1000 gifts list?

Giveaway Winner!

We have a winner for our Motivated Moms giveaway! Congrats to Leslie A. our winner! Thanks to everyone who entered!

Motivated Moms Giveaway!

Growing Up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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If you’ve been following along with me over on Twitter, you know that I’ve been doing the Read the World Summer Book Club over at Simple Homeschool and we have been having a total blast. In preparation for the end of the summer, they’re encouraging all the families who are participating to share about what it’s like to grow up where they are growing up. So, I sat down with Dominic to answer these questions about our family and about Milwaukee, the city we live in. Questions in bold, Dominic in orange (his current favorite color, though as I’m halfway through typing this, he tells me all the colors are his favorite colors), me in purple, and Nick in blue.

Tell us about your family.

Allen is my brother. He is one. What’s something cool about Allen? That he snuggles with me and plays with me. And who are you? Dominic. And how old are you? Four. And what do you like to do? I like to play games! Tell me about dad. What’s cool about dad? That he plays games, that’s what’s cool about him. And now what about me? Who am I? Mommy. And what’s cool about me? That you snuggle with me! 

My family

Photo taken by the amazing Emily Ebeling. If you’re interested in checking out more of her work or hiring her, click on the photo to be taken to her site!

Tell us about where you live and how long you’ve lived there.

We live in Wisconsin and I don’t know how long we lived there. Well mom’s been here all her life and dad’s been here for about six years and you (Dominic) have been here all your life and so has Allen. {He was talking about the US here, I grew up in Wisconsin, but not in Milwaukee.} We currently live in Milwaukee, the largest city in Wisconsin. 

Milwaukee

Photograph taken by Dori (dori@merr.info) – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Dori

What do you think is unique and special about living where you do?

The museum. Milwaukee Republic Museum. (He means Milwaukee Public Museum). It’s in downtown. And the Domes! It’s a building with plants and a waterfall and fish. 

Milwaukee Public Museum Butterflies

The butterfly gardens at the Milwaukee Public Museum

Milwaukee Domes

On a scavenger hunt at the Domes. It has three areas – tropical dome, desert dome, and show dome. Unfortunately, only the show dome is open while it undergoes emergency repairs to keep people safe, so we haven’t been a while. This is a staple of Milwaukee though and we hope they are able to save them!

What languages are spoken there?

We speak English here. Some other languages that are common in our area include Spanish and Hmong. 

What are some traditional foods there?

Corn Chex, vegetables, cheeses, fruits, juices, sugary drinks, milk. That’s all the things we eat. What is your favorite meal? Pie! Pie is not a meal. It’s funny! What is your favorite meal, for real? Mac ‘n cheese! 

Zucchini Bread

We also love zucchini bread and make it fairly often using my family’s recipe.

Tell us about the climate where you live.

What’s the weather like during the summer? It’s hot, cause the sun is up. What’s the weather like during the winter? Cold. It snows. A lot. 

What does school look like for the majority of kids where you live?

Most kids here attend school outside the home, either public or private. In Milwaukee, in particular, there are a lot of special public schools. For example, there are German, French, and Spanish immersion schools, and Montessori schools as well. There are so many more that listing them would take a long time haha 😉 

What does school look like for your family?

We do learning stuff – play games. What are we starting in the fall? Preschool. We homeschool and I try to include a lot of reading, games, and field trips into our learning as well as more book work type things. I would describe our style as eclectic. 

Are there any special festivals or traditions you’d like to tell us about related to where you live?

We have so many amazing festivals here in Milwaukee. The biggest one is Summerfest, which is a huge music festival, but we also have many ethnic festivals as well. Irish Fest, Greek Fest, Indian Summer Fest, Festa Italiana, German Fest, Polish Fest – and there are many more, but these are just the ones that leaped to mind. During the middle of the summer, there is almost always some kind of festival every weekend. 

Summerfest

Dominic painting in the kids’ tent at Summerfest

If you ever had to move away from where you live, what do you think you’d miss most?

My house. I would miss our fridge. Then I’ll miss our ceiling and I’ll miss our door. I’ll miss our handles. Milwaukee has such a great wealth of opportunities in terms of culture. We have a zoo, many wonderful museums, and many festivals. I’d really miss those. And we have a wonderful church community here too that I would really miss if we moved away. 

Do you have a favorite book that takes place in your region/country?

I grew up reading Little House in the Big Woods which took place in Wisconsin. The boys and I also really enjoy reading a lot of Lois Ehlert, who is a local author and has written many, many books. In fact, she even helped design the children’s room at the Central Milwaukee Public Library downtown. 

Milwaukee Central Library Kids' Room

Have you ever visited or lived in Milwaukee? What’s your favorite part about Milwaukee? Or, what’s your favorite part about where you live? 

Round It Up – A Round Up for 7/14/16

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Round It Up - A Round Up

I love to periodically round up the interesting things that I come across to share or discuss. As always, inclusion on the list does not mean endorsement, just that I found it interesting and worth reading, and I’ve broken them down into categories. I’d love for you to comment your thoughts on anything or leave a link of your own to something that you think is worth reading today. Today I’ve found 21 excellent things to include in a wide variety of categories! Enjoy this round up! 🙂

Food

Revolutionary Blueberry Cherry Muffins

Meal Planning Tips to Save You Money

Tips for Freezer Cooking so You Won’t Get Soggy Noodles and Black Potatoes

44 Easy Dinners That Don’t Use the Oven

Current Events

Tensions Between Police and Blacks Are Likely to Worsen, Obama Says

Cleveland’s Police and Courts Prepare for Unruly Visitors

Republican Officials Brace for Chaos at Convention

Senate Approves Bill to Combat Opioid Addiction Crisis

I’m a While Mom Raising Three Black Children, and Here’s What I Mean When I Say Black Lives Matter

Why the prognosis for all Aleppo’s children – sick or healthy – is grave

Rio mayor wants Pokemon Go played at Olympics

Deals/Giveaways/Freebies

All About Reading – Level of Choice Giveaway

Free Redbox Movie Rental

Family Fun Magazine for $4.95 a Year (I subscribe to this magazine and love it!)

Have you checked out my Motivated Moms review and giveaway yet? Find out why it’s my favorite chore system and enter to win your own!

Free Aquafina Sparkling Water Product Coupon

Free Ebooks: Be Available, 101 Quick & Easy Cupcake and Muffin  Recipes, Time Management, plus More!

Humor

Stubbing Monkeys

Health

Mom Aims to Raise Awareness After Dental Accident Costs Part Of Her Vision

People Doing Good Around the World

Aussie’s ‘fun idea’ inspires a movement

Kids

Cat Coloring Pages for Kids

Which link did you find the most helpful or interesting? 

Motivated Moms – My Favorite App (with Giveaway!)

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This post contains affiliate links which will generate me a small portion of the sale if you buy through them. I also was not paid for this post, though Motivated Moms did generously sponsor this giveaway. I’ve been a long time user of Motivated Moms and I truly believe in their app! 

Listen, ya’ll, I am not a neat person by nature. Cleanliness and order do not come easily to me. And being home with the kids all day and being responsible for a large part of the housework, I just didn’t know where to start. Drop me in a house and tell me to clean it and I’ll be instantly overwhelmed. Everything will seem like it needs attention. Then, I’ll just shut down and do nothing because that’s easier than figuring out where to start.Motivated Moms

It’s no secret that I have always found systems helpful. I systemize as many things in my life as I can. I even have a system for picking books from my to read list. So, I figured, I’ll just find a system for my house cleaning. I tried a lot of systems. I tried Flylady, which so many people swear by, but I found it overwhelming and frantic, so it fell by the wayside very quickly.

I tried lots of systems until I found Motivated Moms. That’s the last system I ever tried – because it stuck! I’ve been using this app now for quite some time and have seen it go through many changes and versions. But every change is just a step up for Motivated Moms – it just keeps getting better.

So, what is Motivated Moms? It is an app and a printable ebook – whichever format you prefer – that organizes your cleaning tasks. Some tasks are daily- like load/run/empty the dishwasher, sweep the kitchen and entryway, and clear/wipe the kitchen counters. Then tMotivated Moms task list here are tasks that rotate and repeat – like change the sheets in the master bedroom and clean the middle shelf of the refrigerator. You do the tasks and check them off and then boom, you are on your way. Let me tell you all the reasons I love this system.

It’s hard to screw up.

If you miss a task, it will come around again in a timely manner. If you are gone for a day, it’s easy to pick up where you left off.

It’s spread out.

I don’t do all my vacuuming or all my laundry on one day. Systems that have days devoted to one whole thing don’t work for me. I find that boring and daunting all in one. But with Motivated Moms, it’s spread out well. Vacuum the bedrooms on one day, vacuum the main rooms on another day. Bigger tasks get broken down into smaller, more doable chunks and I don’t feel like I’m spending my whole day cleaning.

It’s fun to check things off.

I don’t know about you, but there is something really gratifying about checking a task off. It makes me feel accomplished and like I got stuff done.

Motivated Moms is more than just chores.

It also includes daily Bible readings. You may not be interested in this and you can easily turn it off if you aren’t, but for me, this has been a great way to ensure that I am both taking care of my house and my spiritual life. I also love that it includes reading to your kids! I mean, no one has to tell me to do that, but reading to your kids is so valuable and it makes me feel like Motivated Moms really shares my values. It also encourages self-care, I feel like, with exercise being a daily task and pamper yourself being a weekly task, for example. I think we all know we should do these things, but having them on my list has helped me to recognize them as important things and not just things that get delegated to if there’s time.

It remembers how often to do things so that I don’t have to.

For example, when it comes to say changing the sheets, pre Motivated Moms I was always like “When was the last time I changed the sheets? It was recently, right? Maybe?” But Motivated Moms stays on top of that so that I don’t have to.

Their customer service is excellent!

The one or two times I’ve had issues with the apps – not very frequently compared to the years I’ve been using it – they also respond quickly and are able to get the problem sorted out. You can tell that they really care about putting forth a quality product.Motivated Moms Today's Tasks

As you can see, there are many reasons that I love it! The e-book and the app are both great. The ebook comes in dated pages that you can print off week by week, with spaces to check off the daily tasks every day and then the other side has the extra tasks broken down by day, things that need to be done less frequently than daily. This is a nice format for those who like to deal in paper.

I usually like to deal in paper, but I have to say, the app wins for me hands down. I like the ability to sort tasks by room and you can also assign tasks to people and color code them – the app will even sync across devices! I also love how easy it is to add custom tasks and how you can make them repeat at a chosen interval. For example, I always menu plan on Fridays and so I have it set up to repeat every week on Fridays. I like that it saves my data in my account so that when I switched phones, it was a seamless transition as once I signed in, it loaded all my custom tasks and preferences.

To buy, on your android or iOS device, you can get the lite version of the app for free, which has a demo of two weeks worth of tasks, so you can see if you like it or not. The initial buy of the app is $1.99 and includes 2 months subscription. Then, after that you have the choice of paying 99 cents for a month or $7.99 for a year. Really, you all know I am very cheap and can count on two hands the number of apps I have ever paid for in my 6+ years of owning devices that are capable of apps, but I have found this to be one purchase that is totally worth it. The ebooks are $8 (or $4 if you buy just have a year – a great way to get started!)

And I’m fortunate to be giving away Motivated Moms app or e-book to one lucky reader! Already have Motivated Moms app or want to buy it and get started right away? If you win, you can choose a subscription extension as your option. So basically, anyone and everyone should enter! What have you go to lose?

Motivated Moms Giveaway!

Motivated Moms

Impress Them On Your Children – Deuteronomy 6:7

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Deuteronomy 6:7 - "Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."

Am I making an impression? Do they really listen? Am I having a positive effect on them? These are things I wonder all the time. I wonder them in many areas of parenting, but as you may have guessed from Deuteronomy 6:7 up there, today I am talking about littles and faith.

It’s not hard to understand why I wonder these questions. Sometimes, in the day to day of it, it’s hard to see the big picture through the momentary frustrations. And if you’ve ever been to church with small, antsy children, you might wonder if they are even hearing or learning anything at all. You might wonder if the messages about God’s grace and forgiveness and salvation are being listened to or if they’re just going in one ear and out the other.

I know I’ve wondered. Some days I wonder if my kids even know the meaning of sit still. And I’m sure that everyone in church must be aware of their antics. (They’re probably not. Once again, I fall into the trap of thinking that people are thinking about me way more than they actually are.) Some days I cry in the car on the way home from church because it feels like the kids will never learn how to sit still and not fight with each other in the middle of church.

And I know, I know it’s their ages and that Allen, especially is still super little. And I know that this is something that will get better with time (bigger picture) but in the moment, that doesn’t necessarily make it feel any easier. In the moment, it still feels very hard.

So anyways, I wonder all of this. And it’s not just about church I wonder – I wonder when we read Bible stories if they really understand what they mean or when I talk about God if they really understand that. I want and try to do what Deuteronomy 6:7 talks about – talking about God’s word in our life no matter where we find ourselves. Weaving it into every area of our lives.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel, when they get older.  You start to realize that yes, God is making an impression on their little hearts. And then, when I watch Dominic, I really understand what it means to have a childlike faith in a way that I couldn’t understand when I was still a child. I see his enthusiasm to want to talk to Jesus. I see his desire to praise Him when he makes up little songs about God (Song prayers, he calls them). I see that something is clicking when he says that Jesus died to forgive our sins. I even see glimpses in Allen, who has learned to say Amen. Not a huge deal, but it shows he is paying attention, he is observing. I’m grateful to God, that He gives me these moments of small encouragements.

When you baptize your child, you are putting your faith in God, in the Holy Spirit, that He will work faith in your child’s heart. But I admit, I struggle with seeing the big picture in the moment of weakness – Satan whispers in my ear that they aren’t really learning anything. Or worse yet, he whispers that I am a failure, that I am not doing enough, that I’ll never do enough to impress the Word of God on their hearts. But these are lies, from the father of lies. While it’s true I’m not perfect, God’s word is powerful enough to overcome my human imperfections and it never returns to Him empty.

So, I will choose to continue impressing these things on my children, imperfect as I may be, because the Word of God? It’s bigger than me. And I’m so, so glad for that.

Is this a struggle for you? What are some ways that you impress God’s word on your child(ren)’s heart(s)? 

Picture from Stockvault.net. I edited it to add Deuteronomy 6:7. 

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