Thursday, July 24, 2008

Just my imagination

I am not one for mythical creatures or people such as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny. But now that we have kids, I've been including them in our festivities in a Catholic manner that does not take away from the true meaning of the holiday or the reality of the event. My parents eliminated this whole world for me to protect me from lies and the possiblity of wondering if God was just another farce. So I think that's why I am trying to make it work in both a sensible and fun way. We have fun using our imagination.

My daughter is about ready to lose her first teeth (she tells me they are wiggily), so this story I found on Minnesota Mom's blog was too cute not to share. It's the story of the Tooth Fairy Mouse. I will be making sure that she knows that it is a fun story, but she always will know who really sneaks into her bedroom at night - not a stranger or mythical character - but her parents who care about her and want her to have a good time full of imagination!


Once upon a time there was an oyster in the ocean. This oyster was heartbroken because he had lost the beautiful pearl he made.

You know oysters make pearls, right?
The oyster shared his sorrow with an octopus who lived nearby.
“I am sorry that you lost your pearl,” the octopus said. “What did it look like?”
“It was hard, white, smooth and shiny!” replied the oyster.
“I will do what I can to help you find it,” said the octopus, and off he went.

The octopus swam along the ocean until he found a kind old sea turtle. “Kind turtle,” the octopus said. “Oyster has lost his pearl. Will you help us find it?”

“Certainly!” the sea turtle said, and he swam off straightaway. He swam along the shore, searching high and low for the oyster’s pearl. Soon he met a little mouse by the name of Ratoncito Perez. He asked Ratoncito to help him in the search for Oyster’s pearl and Ratoncito raced off to the village by the bay.

On the way, he found a tiny little button buried in the sand. Could this be it? No. It was shiny, white and smooth but it was not hard.
He found a small pebble by the road. Could this be it? No. It was hard, white and smooth but it was not shiny.
He found a small coin in the marketplace. Could this be it? No. It was hard, smooth and shiny but it was not white. The little mouse put the coin in his pocket. (He was not dumb, after all!)

He scooted up the side of a quaint little cottage and into the bedroom window of a boy named Mario. There, on Mario’s dresser, was the tooth that Mario had lost that night. Ratoncito was overjoyed! The tooth was hard, white, smooth and shiny!

He took the tooth, leaving the coin behind, and Oyster was very pleased with this new treasure.

One Word Meme

Okay, it's time I catch up on these meme's everyone is posting.

1. Where is your cell phone? dresser
2. Where is your significant other? working
3. Your hair? shorter
4. Your mother? thoughtful
5. Your father? wiser
6. Your favorite thing? hope
7. Your dream last night? ex-boyfriend
8. Your dream/goal? health
9. The room you're in? office
10. Your hobby? arts
11. Your fear? heights
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? here
13. Where were you last night? couch
14. What you're not? punctual
15. One of your wish list items? maid
16. Where you grew up? cities
17. The last thing you did? plunge
18. What are you wearing? yellow
19. Your TV? sesame street
20. Your Pet? none
21. Your computer? functional
22. Your mood? complacent
23. Missing someone? Tom
24. Your car? minivan
25. Something you're not wearing? shirt (baby spit up on it!)
26. Favorite store? Target
27. Your summer? occupied
28. Love someone? many
29. Your favorite color? tanzanite
30. When is the last time you laughed? minutes
31. Last time you cried? lately
32. Who will resend this? remaining
33. How many sisters? one

Rules: repost with this only one word to answer the question.
I found this on the blog of another Melissa. Be sure to tell her if you completed this.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Mosaic all about MEME



The Questions (and The Answers):

1. What is your first name? Melissa
2. What is your favorite food? Chicken Dinner
3. What high school did you go to? Rocori HS
4. What is your favorite color? Tanzanite
5. Who is your celebrity crush? Will Smith
6. Favorite drink? Cherry Pepsi
7. Dream vacation? Italy
8. Favorite dessert? Brownies and ice cream
9. What you want to be when you grow up? a Grandmother
10. What do you love most in life? Family
11. One Word to describe you? Friend
12. One hobby of yours? Scrapbooking

So...now it's your turn. I hope, like me, you learn how to do new things and enjoy your creation.

Here's how:
a. Type your answer to each of the questions above into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image. (Search by "tags" for good results)
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.
d. Save image to hard drive and post to blogger.
e. Copy HTML code for flickr photo credits and paste into blogger at the bottom of the post.

Please let me know if you play along! I'd love to see your mosaic!
And so would +JMJ+, where I found this meme.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Good News

Well, the ultimate Good News is that God loves us!

But on another note of good news, our prayers have been answered.

Last Wednesday I was at Jamie's home for her daughter's birthday party with my daughter. My phone rang and it was the Office Team / Accounting Temps office calling to tell me about a job they wanted me to interview for. It seemed a perfect fit - they wanted someone with my excellent computer skills for their billing department, but also someone with a history/knowledge of marketing and graphic arts. And to top it off, they wanted someone who would "wow them with their personality." Even the pay was exactly what I was looking for. That is me in a nutshell! Of course I set up an interview time and was very overwhelmed about going back to work. I took a minute, told Jaime, and just pondered the possiblity. I started to pray to God and St. Joseph (since we'd been saying the St. Joseph Novena) asking them to step in the way if this was not meant to be. That Tom would have to get a job offer today if I wasn't meant to go to this seemingly perfect position.

Not 10 minutes went by and Tom called me. He didn't say "hello" or "how's it going." He said, "St. Joseph just answered my prayer!" A friend of his had gotten a message about some work, and since he was already working - he called Tom to make sure he had heard about it too. The company he usually works for during the summer got some new work remodeling Cub Foods, but the lead on the job didn't have Tom's phone number and was only calling those he had numbers for. As soon as Tom called this guy, he was so thrilled to hear from him - he really wanted Tom to come to work. Now, I'll tell you that this job will only last a few months. But it is a paycheck none-the-less. We are thrilled. And we hope that it will last until the next jobs come up. The hospital is remodeling starting in November, and the power plants he always works for Fall to Spring start somewhere between August -November. So keep praying.

Tom just wants what any other husband with a family wants - a secure job. We are so tired of this roller coaster of work and layoffs, having enough money and not, wondering where he's going next. Whether or not he'll be working tomorrow. In fact, he had last Friday off at the last minute, so there is no telling what even this job will bring. So we still stay prayerful and frugle.

Back to my decision - Later that day, I had to make a decision... take the job of my dreams and make us some extra cash till Tom finds solid work, meaning the kids go to Grandma's if she'll even take them. Or I make that choice once more to be a stay at home mom. This time there are so many more strings attached than 6 1/2 years ago. But I did it. God had answered my prayers, so I knew it was the right decision to stay at home. To homeschool. To live my life as God wills it. We may be giving up financial security, but I trust that if God is behind us - what can be against us and what do we have to fear?

Tracy sent me an encouraging card and very generous gift to help us out after I posted the A Time to Give and a Time to Recieve blog. In her touching card (with a pretty rainbow drawn on the back by a family member) it said, "I wonder if this is what the Holy Family had to go through?" I thought about that long and hard. Are we like the Holy Family?

Tom's a carpenter, I'm a homeschooling mother, and we're just trying to follow God the best we can. I am sure they had hard times, Joseph trying to sell things, Mary chasing after Jesus whereever he may wander. Trying to raise holy children in a secular world.

to be continued

Car Safety for Kids

I was recently asked why my oldest daughter still has a booster seat at age 6. Now, my daughter started asking me why she has to when others don't. I simply trusted what the police and doctors had suggested. So to reaffirm what I thought was the safest car ride for my children and to be able to tell my daughter exactly why, I looked it up today.

There are numerous websites that discuss this:
National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration
Parent Center: Booster Seat Safety

Car Safety for your 4-8 year old
Boost for Safety
Department of Transportation

Minnesota Law States:
Minnesota state law requires that children under age 4 be restrained in an appropriate, federally approved car seat or booster seat. Car seats must be installed and used according to manufacturer's instructions. Minnesota law also requires that infants under one year of age and weighing less than 20 pounds must ride in a rear-facing car seat. The state of Minnesota suggests that compliance with car seat safety law is a minimum safety standard, and suggests that children remain in a booster seat to 80 pounds and remain in the back seat until age 13.

So even though it is not required, the highly suggest it.

If your children are not in a booster seat under the age of 8, I recommend reading these articles to be sure you are making the right decision for your child's safety. It's not a matter of how safe you drive or what your child prefers... it's a matter of life and death - really.

Just for kids:
Play it Safe for kids

Simple ways to get them onboard
Safety experts say that peer pressure to wear only seat belts makes booster use difficult for children and parents alike, especially if your child has been using a seat belt for a while. But though parents may be convinced of a booster's value, it can be tough to talk kids into going back to a seat they thought they'd outgrown. Here are some tactics to ease the transition.

Get a cool design. Manufacturers are increasingly trying to make booster seats look different from car seats by, for example, giving the fabric a military-fatigue style that boys might like or using sleeker-looking materials.

Push comfort. Show your child how a regular seat belt doesn't fit well. Point out the way the belt rubs her neck or how she has to slouch to make her legs feel comfortable. Explain that a booster is designed just for her.

Point out the view. By lifting your child up off the seat, a booster allows him to see out the window better.

Invoke safety. Without getting too graphic about the potential dangers, tell your child that you want him to be as safe as possible when riding in a vehicle. If he objects that you didn't make him ride in a booster before, tell him you didn't understand how important it was to have a special restraint just for him. "Answer questions firmly but simply," says Bill Hall, of the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center, in Chapel Hill. "You don't want to scare the child, but you should provide enough detail for him to understand your reasons."

Don't negotiate. Compare the use of a booster seat to other nonnegotiable safety measures, such as wearing a bike helmet. "In the past, people didn't use those, either, until their value in preventing injury became clear," says Carole Guzzetta, of the National Safety Council. "There are a lot of things we make kids do that they don't like in order to keep them healthy and safe. This is one of them."

Copyright © 2000 Richard Laliberte. Reprinted with permission from the September 2000 issue of Parents Magazine.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What a pair!

My Babies - Mikayla is almost 6, Stanley is 4, and Sabrina is 10 months old. I can't believe I am a mother - and to 3 babies here and 2 in heaven. I'm only 28! [Well, there are some who had more than that by now.] But as we reminisce over old photos, there are distinct similarities between our children. That look that says, you're a Michalek kid. Point in case, my girls pictured above. These photos were taken when they were 10 months old in the same outfits and same crib. They've both just learned to pull themselves up in the crib. So many people tell me how much Sabrina looks just like Mikayla did. As a mother, I really didn't see it until I grabbed the photo album. I saw similarities, but they look different - I just can't figure out what it is (maybe the eyebrows? maybe which teeth show when they smile?) There individual personality shines though the photographs. [By the way, Mikayla is on the left and Sabrina on the right.]I knew it, but now I really see it. God is truly amazing how he can create us in His likeness, and in the likeness of our family. It just wow's me! And this is just a few of us, imagine if I put up pictures of the rest of my family at this age - we all look so much alike.

Oh - I gotta go kiss them now.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A homeschooler's piggy bank.

I just finished reading this good article that you should read to...
http://www.homefires.com/articles/what_is_with.asp
about "What is it with homeschoolers and money?"

I have noticed some of these things too, but not just amongst homeschoolers.

I myself am not frugile - except when I really have to be (such as now). But I will not wheel and deal my way through life. I pay what I think things are worth, and realize that there is a family waiting for a paycheck at the other end of that item I am purchasing.

I always get mad at the fact that there are people out there working as hard as my husband, but because their boss takes a big cut of the profit, or because they want to keep the product cheaper, they are working for less than half of his income. That's just wrong in my book. You should get paid fairly for the work you do, union or not. I don't scoff at my doctor bills or other things that are on the higher end - because I realize that if everything was cheaper - there would be a decline in quality and a loss of many jobs to keep it cheap.

That's just some of my midnight ramblings.... thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Little idiot inside my computer....

Okay, there is officially a little idiot inside my computer. I have had it. I spent over 2 hours trying to make it function in the least bit. And when that frustration was over, I spent the next 5 hours backing up all the files on it. I just never know when it's going to go kaput on us like the last one. And financially strapped, we're just going to have to keep recessatating this one for awhile longer.

Grrrrrrrrrrr!

Friday, July 11, 2008

A Time to Give - and a Time to Receive.

Falling asleep at my computer... I am so beat from this heat (95 degrees) and the activities of the day. It's a bad day to have no a/c in our minivan. The kids were drenched in sweat by 3pm.


We started our day early, heading to Catholic Charities Food Shelf. There were about 20 or more families waiting in line. So around an hour later it was our turn to be interviewed and go shopping. I grabbed a cart and each shelf station had amounts I could take based upon my family size. But only one visit allowed per calendar month. I came out with some canned food, and they had (near expiration) bread, lettuce, cheese, and yogurt. Pretty much everything there came from grocery stores, not individuals like our church group donations. Mondays must be better days to go. I was sad to see the smallest pile of baby food, and I could only take 5 small jars - enough to feed Sabrina for 1 day and no formula. Luckily what we saved today, I was able to buy it myself.


I was surprised to see some restaurants pitching in their leftovers: Red Lobster's baked potatoes, KFC's chicken and biscuits, and Sam's Club jumbo muffins. I ended up filling the grocery cart higher than I would on any other normal shopping trip. We even received one of the "Kids Against Hunger" rice packs some of our homeschoolers have packed before. If we hadn't kept moving along, that would have been my break-down-and-cry moment. Not much of the food was name brand stuff I'd usually pick out or that I even recognized - but it was food. I really felt out of place being there, but everyone was so nice and took their time with me, letting us know we came to the right place. They made efforts to say hello and reach out and touch your hand or shoulder. (lots of sweet older ladies around) As I checked out, they handed my family a red rose.


I was so touched by their services - I feel compelled to help them once things get back on track. Maybe that was God's whole reason for this? There are so many families who are stuck by some tragedy, and what they do with it is what makes the difference. If someone is diagnosed with breast cancer, they join the 3-day walk. If someone dies in a car accident, their family fights goes out and talkes about dangers of drunk driving. If they lose their job and find themselves at the foodshelf, they urge others to donate. And what lesson my children are learning!


You can visit this website to read about what Catholic Charities is currently in need of:
http://www.ccstcloud.org/cc06/cc/cc_Help/Wishlist.html


It emphasizes the need for:

Fuel Cards / Bus Cards
Diapers, Formula, and baby food
New socks and underwear
Fresh produce
Personal care items



On a lighter note, we took Sabrina to her 9mth appointment (now almost 10 months old), and found out what we already knew - SHE's PERFECT! She's still very tall and thin, but in a healthy range. She got so excited, and they gave her a little frog book to keep. She just clapped and babbled away, and the kids got stickers for being so well behaved. Thank the Lord for that!


SO I am pooped and only 4 days to finish our homeschool yearbook. I think I'll refresh and take a nap first. Then it's back to hard core photo shop time! (Notice how I'm typing here instead of working... I am a procrastinator.)


Thanks again for all who read my blogs, prayed for us, or helped out in some way. I fell so blessed. You'd be amazed that one little hello or small gesture can mean SO MUCH! So, be sure to just smile at someone today, even if you don't know them. You don't have to stop and talk - just smile. I guarantee you'll make their day - or at least cover them for a few hours! haha



Lover of Christian People,

Melissa

MY LIFE IS IN YOU LORD!

My hope is in you Lord. It's all I have to hang onto, it is all that I am certain of.

God Will Make a Way

I've been looking for hours for that perfect inspirational song to keep me going - and here it is! Enjoy and ponder.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I did it!


Here's me at my first "real" job at Merrill Corp. Every year there was a upper floor competition on halloween costume and department design. In 2000, we chose Saloon, and I was Lady Rose, Piano/Diva. We had a sheriff, gunslingers, bartender, cowboys, root beer whiskey and pretzels, swinging double doors, the whole nine yards. There was even a parade of costumes and voting. We won best department decor.

It's been 7 years since I last had an interview for a job. I prayed the whole way to the temp agency. I just reminded myself that my skills have improved and now I have maturity to back them up. I told myself, I am just going to talk to another normal person and do my best at their computer testing - no pressure.

I'm a COMPUTER GEEK: I scored 90-100% on all tests. My results came out around 20% higher than their averages, and she said that I have acceptional knowledge, higher than most people she sees coming in there. And I found out I can type 44 words per minute (32 is average) with 97% accuracy. I was IN THE ZONE! So thanks for the prayers. I later went over to Office Depot who has 3 openings that I qualify for. One is there "Document, Print and Ship Specialist PT." That one is right up my alley.

I told Tom, if I never get a job - this day was still worth it. I learned that after all these years "I still got it!" and I'm even better and more professional than before. The interviewer said I am a "desired candidate." Oh what a feeling - a real sense of accomplishement right there.

Tom went to his Carpenter's Union meeting. He's really got connections for a few jobs, but it's just a matter of the boss-man to say "okay Tom, come on down and bring your tools." He's making dozens of calls and emails every day. We're on day 3 of the St Joseph Novena, and praying for his employment to come along before mine.

Tomorrow we go to the food shelf to help us along. I've been scouring the backs of the cupboards trying to group food into meals. I tell you, I have frozen meat to last maybe 2-3 weeks, cereal, noodles, rice, frozen veggies, PB, rice cakes, crackers, drink mixes, some canned fruit, pickels, and every condiment known to man. Condiments take up probably 50% of my fridge! And we got candy to last the rest of the year from past events and holidays. What do ytou make with that!? But I am noticing what the food shelves must see - a shortage on baby food, formula, and expensive perishables such as lettuce, bread, milk, bananas - and one-time-use diapers, toilet paper, and other bathroom supplies, etc. That is why I am determined to let others know and when we are having good times, PLEASE DONATE GROCERY GIFT CARDS or cash to your local food shelves. We can have all the non-perishable foods in our cupboards - but they don't make much of a healthy meal without the fresh stuff. That's where the cards come in.

Don't get me wrong, we do have money in our account from unemployment checks, but it is on strict reserve for paying outstanding medical bills, cc's, utilities, insurance and house payments. Who knows how long this drought will last for us? I've heard on the news that some families are having to chose between gas for work or groceries for their family. Thousands of carpenters are unemployed with maxed out unemployment accounts, no insurance, and no jobs in sight. What on earth are we supposed to do? And that's just one group of people.

I want to send a special THANK YOU to everyone who's emailed me and included me in their prayers. Thanks to my parents and Tom's for casually giving us food/meals or leaving it behind after getting together. (I noticed your kind thought behind it.) And an extra special shout out to Jamie, who's SO giving of herself. When she came over to take us swimming the other day (forgot my camera), she casually says "I got something for you." She hands over a bag of meat and veggies for the freezer, a bag for the cupboard, and a big box of wet wipes. I couldn't help but tear up. It was a mix of emotions. One being, I never thought WE would be on the receiving end of charity - but I gratefully received it followed by a big hug. Even Tom got tears in his eyes. And the other part that struck me, is I've been waiting to find a TRUE friendship beyond my husband - and there's Jaime. Such a sweet woman who is always ready with a compliment and a positive attitude. My guardian angel must have tapped her on the shoulder to get her to look my way, because she's been a pool of grace from God to me.



Okay, before I tear up again, I'm going to get back to working on this yearbook. I am trying to not make it a burden. I made extra efforts to stay away today and have some time with the kids. It's hard when there is so much to do around here.




LOVE YOU ALL SO VERY MUCH!!!!


Melissa


WERE A UNION FAMILY - VOTING FOR MCCAIN!
-prolife
-proemployment
-proficient
-professional

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Anyone have a winning lottery ticket?


Okay, I am at the fine line between calm/collected and a complete wreck. Tom, my DH, has been laid off for almost 4 months this year already. We're down to the last few dollars and wondering what God has instore for us.


I am finding myself thinking of anything in our beautiful house we can sell. We just put a freeze on our Golds Gym account and can't go for 3 months to save money there. I am reasearching the web all morning to find that we have too much to qualify for most assistance, but we can get Medical Assistance, Energy Assistance, Food Shelf items, and we're on the MN WIC program. Now what?


For the first time in 7 years, I've began looking for jobs again with a less impressive resume than before. I am capable of working, but I am not sure it is the right thing for our family.


Tom is getting ready to buy a passport to go work in Canada for the next 3 months. Fine, that's income and benefits, but he'll miss out on my two girls birthdays (will be ages 6 and 1), miss out on other family gatherings and special moments together. And I, someone who is already in a depressed state will not be getting any better this way. I literally need Tom to make it through the day. It's just a really sad and stressful day.


On top of this, I have to save face and keep life as normal as possible for the kids. I am working on our home school group's yearbook which is a real task and is taking up several hours every day this past week and will probably take 3 hours a day for the next week to complete it. I was supposed to attend my 10 year high school reunion in August, but we cannot afford it - all expenses on the table will cost over $100 to attend. And if Tom isn't here to join me, I wouldn't want to go anyways. Aaaaaaaaagggggggggggghhhhhhhhh!


It's just one of those I want to crawl back into bed and start over days. But I don't think the second try will be any better.


So what do I do, whenever this happens (yes, it's happened before). I can only trust in God and do my best to hear his call. A friend, Karla, urged me today to pray the St. Joseph Novena, Litany, and Memorare. Tom is also praying the Prayers for Employment.


So, if you happen to read this - PRAY FOR US! And if you happen to have ideas or resources for us to find jobs, assistance, or just cold hard cash - send 'em this way!

Friday, July 4, 2008

What we've been up to lately...

Our Summer Activities

We are having so much fun lately, despite our hard times with Tom unable to find any work (in the state of MN anyways). We're keeping busy.

Saturday June 28th we went to the Molitor's organic dairy farm in Richmond MN. They had Wild Country 98.9 out there, with free rootbeer from Cold Spring Brewery, as well as organic milk, ice cream with strawberries and rootbeer floats. They had a little petting zoo with ducks, chicks, puppies, pigs, mini horses, and cows. They had cute games like Cow Pie Bingo where if the cow pooped on the square marked with your number, you won a prize. Or the bale throwing contest, which Tom tried and did great - but not as good as a local priest who won.








Afterwards we got dolled up, and Tom and I went to the St Cloud Ballroom Dance Club's Saturday Night. For $10 we got one hour group lesson and 3 hours of dancing/practice! It worked great when we wanted to dance at a cousin's wedding, with many more this fall. We finally know how to dance - to any song really!


We've been going out on walks in the neighborhood, which is nice. We've been encouraging Mikayla to try to ride her bike with out training wheels, but she's not to thrilled about it. She is more interested in playing with all her friends this summer, and going swimming. Stanley is riding his big boy bike with trainers on, and really enjoying the family time. He's getting taller again, now 4 yrs old, and getting better at obeying - which is really nice for a change. Sabrina is still teething with 8 in so far. She's crawling around, but likes to just plop herself in the middle of all the action here. She'll follow me around the room, sit up, and say mama with her hands in the air. It's too cute to resist, as you can well imagine.


Thursday we took a second drive to the cities, so Tom could go job hunting. The rest of us spent time and my parents home, just a casual day - mom and I sharing info about the progress of our homeschool yearbooks. We're both in charge of that for our groups. That is taking up most of my time lately. We're up to 33 families participating by creating family pages and purchasing a copy - which is over 50% of the catholic families in our small group. Then I have about 37-40 pages I am working on about the groups and events of the past year. It's quite a challenge, but I just love it! Just another 2 weeks to finish it all.


Today we were in the St. Joseph Parade. We are apart of the homeschool group's Kids Prolife Club "America's Future." We help promote prolife in our community and support Birthline and Prolife Across America -the billboard people.







The parade was fun for all of us...











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