Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Two very different kinds of filth

Well, it must not have been that big a bug in my craw because here we are 4 weeks later and I'm getting to my first post about our school year.  But look!  Baby ducks!

Fuzzy and Fluffy
Three weeks ago my parents found Fuzzy and Fluffy swimming in their pool but their mother was nowhere to be found.  It didn't take a lot of arm twisting to convince me that they needed to come home with us because, well, they're baby ducks and they're so cute.

Um, baby ducks grow up and become disgusting.  

Really, they are filthy little things so it's a good thing they're cute.  I'm sure that it will be a sweet memory for the kids and it's been fun to watch them grow, but have I mentioned that they're messy?

Fuzzy and Fluffy will stay with us until they are big enough to hold their own at our neighborhood pond and then bye-bye.

Because they're gross.

But cute.

Hey, you know what's always a great field trip?  A science museum.  We love science museums and we try to hit one every time we go on vacation because we're geeks.  Woops, I mean because they're fun and educational and they've got lots of hands on exhibits... perfect, right?

Um, no.  Apparently not always.

I'm totally dating myself here, but does anybody remember the Terminator video game?  It was awesome, you just grabbed the gun and shot everything in sight.  No, there wasn't any gunfire at the museum, but it did have the distinct feeling of the post-Apocalyptic world portrayed in the game.

We went specifically to see a traveling mummy exhibit because we had just finished a unit on ancient Egypt.  The exhibit was pretty cool and it was great that Doc and Obi Wanda could see things they had read about manifest before their eyes.  Honestly the only downers about that portion of our day were having to steer Obi Wanda past the mummy with the extraordinarily well preserved anatomy and the fact that it was a bit depressing because, well, we were surrounded by dead people.  Go figure.

After checking the mummies off our list we were free to roam around the museum.

Ah, how I longed for the days of science museums filled with evolutionary propaganda to be freely debunked.  What we got was so, so much more.

In Disasterville we learned about what happens when your house burns down and just how high your house can flood during a hundred year flood.  Do you know the 100 year part has nothing to do with their frequency?  Oh look, we did learn something!  We also learned how to search for people in the rubble of a house that's been destroyed by an earthquake.  Having fun yet, kids?

The Amazing You exhibit was a special treat.  To be fair, they covered the basics and some of it would've been pretty interesting had we not been dodging sections about fetal alcohol syndrome and STDs.  Yep, STDs.

In fairness, this was a science museum and not a children's museum.  But honestly, I've never been to a science museum so focused on some of the darkest and most depressing parts of our world.

Like the drug trade.

This was on the entrance to the building that housed Kids in Charge.  And in full disclosure, we were the idiots who missed the purple arrow pointing us to an alternate route to the most kid friendly portion of the museum.  So we high tailed it through the exhibit as fast as we could but I doubled back to take a few pictures:

Hey kids, it's a replica of a crack den!

It was just depressing and I honestly don't know what the point was.  I'm guessing it was a "Scared Straight" kind of thing, but it just added to the overall gloom and doom approach the museum was taking.  Honestly, the whole day just felt like an assault of sadness.

I get that disaster and sickness and drugs are a reality.  I get it, my family gets it and my friends get it because we've all lived through it in one form or another.  It just made me sad because it was all so resigned and hopeless and depressing.

As for Doc and Obi Wanda, they were good sports all day even when some of the hands on exhibits were broken and a little bit lame.  On the way home, Obi Wanda said the museum was very different from its web site because on the web site everyone was smiling and stuff worked.  False advertising!  Just another topic covered on our educational field trip about all the worst stuff that can happen to you.

The upshot for PB and I was that it reminded us that we are not resigned or hopeless or depressed because we have the hope of Jesus and we've got to shine His light in the darkness that has a deathgrip on so many.  And we are so blessed that all we had to do that day was shield our children's eyes from a few exhibits and remind them that even if our house is hit by a flood or fire or hail, Jesus holds us firmly in His loving hand.

So I left that day thankful.  Disgusted, challenged and thankful.

But seriously, next time we'll just stay home and play with the ducks.

Friday, July 6, 2012

This is probably a fleeting idea but...


Sometimes I get a bee in my bonnet about something and dive headlong into it for about 3 days before losing interest in it.  A good example of this would be the infamous "Babette" blanket which was a great idea in theory.  And that is all the blankets ever were: a theory.  All the yarn has since been donated to a lovely woman who passed time her chemo time by crocheting entire blankets and donating actual finished products to her fellow patients.  A whim that didn't see fruition, but I still sleep well at night.

Other times I get on a tear, take no prisoners, and make the dust fly until my project is finished.  Finished, I tell you.  Closet cleaning projects, lesson planning, and once a month cooking come to mind.  Not a pretty sight among them.


I find myself mildly, but not fanatically (yet) tempted to attempt a new project.  One week from Monday we will be kicking off a new school year.  Doc will be starting 4th grade and Obi Wanda will be entering 2nd grade and I'm very excited about the year ahead.  My plan is to chronicle our year in the hopes it will be one worth remembering with fondness.

Thanks to PB, I spent last weekend alone in hotel room inputing all our lesson plans in Homeschool Tracker's online program (the first of many new additions to our schoolroom).  Before we launch the year, I thought I would give a rundown of what we're studying this year:

Tapestry of Grace  (TOG) is our spine for the year.   We're using Year One which covers from Creation to the Fall of Rome.  Interestingly, we'll spend the first three weeks looking at Egyptian history before swinging back and moving from Creation forward.  It seemed odd at first, but there's so much to study in Egyptian history that it would be easy to lose momentum during the Joseph - Moses years.  TOG will cover biblical and world history, geography and literature.

Doc is beginning his first year with Institute for Excellence in Writing SWI-A.  Under normal circumstances, Doc would easily fall under the label "reluctant writer."  PB and I had a chance to hear Andrew Pudewa in the spring and I loved his approach to getting children, particularly boys who don't sit still, interested in writing.

On the science front, Doc will begin his first year taking classes with Bill Clifton at Science Partners.  Third grade is pretty much the ceiling of my science knowledge so it's time to start farming out some of the teaching.  It's never a good thing when the teacher is baffled by science experiments.  Mr. Clifton is a local treasure and Doc is excited to learn about earth and physical science this year.  Obi Wanda and I will work through a Rod & Staff book together this year and then she'll move into one of Mr. Clifton's classes next year.  There will be hallelujahs all around.

In the math department: Teaching Textbooks, Teaching Textbooks, how I LOVE Teaching Textbooks.  Teaching Textbooks for everyone!  See, there's this little man in the computer who does the lectures, and examples and quizzes and grades everything.  He'll even explain to my children what they did wrong when they miss a problem.  Now if only there were a Teaching Chores, Teaching Laundry, and Teaching PE.

Speaking of PE, we're giving FamilyTimeFitness a try this year.  They email you a bunch of lesson plans so you don't have to sit around scratching your head, trying to remember what you did on the elementary school blacktop.  By the way, all I remember is doing "crazy 8's" and picking loose pebbles out of my shoes.  Also, we had bring your records from home Friday's which gave me my first introductions to Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper and Madonna.  Have you seen Cyndi Lauper lately?  How good does she look??!!

Oh, and also the math front: have you heard of Life of Fred?  We love Fred.  Doc and Obi Wanda laugh at the silly stories about 5 year-old Fred who teaches math at Kittens University while learning real life applications of math principles.  I laugh out loud at the stories told by the oh-he-must-be-a-libertarian-who-spent-way-too-much-time-in-the-public-university-system author.  Great fun for parent and child.  And there's learning, too!

After two years of Grapevine Studies, we're moving on to Bible Study Guide for all Ages for um, Bible Study.  Biblical history is great, but I want to make sure there's ample opportunity for application.  If I feel we're getting enough application and depth from TOG, we'll pitch BSGRAA (not much of an abbreviation).

And there will be spelling (Spelling Workout), grammar (Winston Grammar), word root studies (English from the Roots Up) and phonics (Explode the Code).

Also, we'll take a few side trips that will likely go the way of the aforementioned Babette blankets.  I purchased 3 old school recorders for music theory and I'm toying with learning a little Korean.  We have some dear friends from South Korea and I thought our frequent exposure to them will give us a chance to practice a little conversational Korean.

As an aside, last night I was looking up Korean phrases and I read that the Korean word for hello is annyong.  I couldn't for the life of me figure out why that word sounded so familiar.  And then I remembered: Arrested Development!  Lucille Bluth adopted a son from Korea and everyone called him Annyong because they thought that was his name.  And now I will always be able to say hello to my Korean friends.  Thank you, Arrested Development.

So that's what the year ahead looks like.  It should be a sweet mix of increased independent learning and precious "couch time" that I refuse to relinquish.  This may or may not be the only post I do about it.  There might be pictures of field trips.  Or not.  I can absolutely guarantee there will be no photos of historical crafts because you can't photograph what doesn't exist.  Hopefully, I'll pop in to chronicle our progress.

Until next time!

Or not.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Best Little Dream House in Florida

Obi Wanda turned seven today and the ONLY thing she wanted for her birthday was the only thing I wanted when I was about her age: a Barbie Dream House.  

The grown up, adult, me doesn't have a lot of interest in the whole Barbie doll thing for all the same reasons other moms don't care for them.  But the little girl in me remembers playing quietly in my room with dolls dressed in the beautiful clothes my grandmother lovingly sewed for them.  And I remember being ecstatic when my parents gave me my very own dream house complete with (gasp!) elevator.

So it didn't take much for me to get on the bandwagon when it was time to buy Obi Wanda's birthday present.  I couldn't wait to see her face when she opened it and watch her play with her own appropriately dressed, and not-at-all hoochie looking Barbie dolls just as I had done 30 years ago.  

I got me a good deal on one at Amazon and used a bunch of Swagbucks toward the purchase. (Haven't used Swagbucks?  You should.)  The decor on the box looked a bit Pepto Bismol-y to me, but I was more caught off guard by how massive it was.

Anyway, we gave it to her this morning and she was appropriately thrilled, we sat down to our customary Dunkin' Donuts birthday breakfast and then I set about assembling the dream house, or as it soon became, the dadgum house with the most worthless instructions ever.  

PB had to go to work so I was utterly on my own with construction and all by myself when I stepped back and looked at the final product:

I stared at it, looked at me sweet children and wondered to myself, "Why is there no adult around here to hear me holler that this dadgum house looks like a brothel?!?!"

I believe that Mattel calls this Barbie Bordello chic.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Holy Guacamole, Batman!

Do you see this tree? (The one on the right)

Isn't it pretty?

This neat little tree that acted as my kids' tree climbing training wheels before they graduated to the oak tree in our backyard is now the site of my greatest aggravation.  It's not the tree's fault nor is it the fault of the avocado it yields late each summer.

No, it's the psycho lunatics that have been drawn to it for the last month that have been driving me batty.

You see, it's not an ordinary avocado tree.  Apparently this tree produces magical fruit that either makes otherwise normal people lose all sense of decorum, manners and upbringing or has the power to suss out people who never had any of those things to begin with and draw them to our house.

We've lived here for nearly 10 years and each summer PB keeps a close eye out for the first signs of ripe fruit.  Once the avocados are ready he begins bagging them up to take to church, to work and to share with family and friends.  Oh and there's a steady supply of freshly made guacamole in the fridge for about four weeks.  Our neighbors know they can help themselves and our next door neighbors always bag up quite a few to take to their church.

Even though I don't like avocados it's fun to enjoy our version of a harvest season.

Until this year.

We've always had a handful of people knock on our door each year and offer to buy a few avocados but we decline their offer of payment and tell them to help themselves to a few.  And usually we catch one or two people each year scurrying away from our tree when we pull into our driveway because they don't want to get caught taking fruit off a stranger's property.  PB and I would roll our eyes over their attempts to be sneaky as they scamper away.

Oh how I miss the sneaky people.

At least they had the sense to think that taking something from another person's property is something you should hide your face about.  We have been astounded by the brazen behavior we've witnessed this year.  It started with an unusual level of interest from people about our tree, people knocking on the door regularly, some as late as 8:30 or 9:00 at night.  A city groundskeeper stopped me on my walk 1/2 a mile from my house to ask if he could get some avocado.  I began to catch groups of walkers milling about the tree when I came home from running errands.  Just weird stuff.

But then the scale tipped from weird to crazy rude.

The following anecdotes fall under the category of utterly bizarre with a rude "taking without asking" cherry on top:

  • A woman actually climbed the tree to get to the higher fruit since the lower fruit had already been picked.  Then she asked PB to get the ones she couldn't reach.  I'm not kidding.
  • A husband and wife we've never met approached PB while he was working in the yard and while the husband was talking to PB the wife started picking avocados.  When PB asked her (politely, trust me when I say he never does anything rudely) not to take too many because we're giving them to friends, she got all huffy and told PB she wasn't taking that many.  I'm still not kidding.

And then...

Yesterday, PB was grilling our dinner when he noticed a woman drive up and get out of her car with a POOL STICK.  When he went over for a closer look the woman explained that her husband had told her to come prepared since the lower fruit had already been taken by the guy mowing the lawn.  Or as we like to call him, PB, the homeowner.  She wasn't embarrassed by her behavior at all, only irked that she couldn't reach any fruit.

I'm. Not. Kidding.

What, what, what is happening?  If that's not a picture of the whole I'm entitled, I deserve it, it's all about me mentality this country is coming to, I don't know what is.


The fruit is pretty much gone now so we have 11 months to come up with a plan before people start pilfering the fruit next year.

A few we've come up with so far:

  • Run outside with a camera and tell them I just wanted to post a picture on Facebook of the person stealing from me.
  • Ask for their address and then go to their house and ask for something of theirs.
  • Reach into their car and take something off their seat and when they get mad say, "Oh, what?  I thought that's what we're doing now."
Okay, not really.  But they're tempting.

I'd love to hear your suggestions: both what you think we should do and what you'd really, really want to do if there wasn't that whole gotta be a good witness thing.

It's making me crazy and that's sad because it's such a pretty tree.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Before I get into how I spent my summer vacation I should give a brief update on what happened between now and either (A) Christmas since that was what my last post was about, or (B) March since that was when I did my last post.




And now I'm convinced my brain has completely turned to Jell-O since I can't remember a blessed thing that happened during that timeframe. I'm sure there were Pretzel M&Ms involved but I can't be sure of anything else beyond that. The best I can do is recap the highlights of the past couple of months. Here we go:

This summer was different from previous summers because this was the first time I carved out an official summer vacation for the kids. This is unusual for us because we live in Florida where it's hot and humid and gross so we might as well sit inside in the AC and get some school done. Speaking of AC...

We kicked off our summer with a funeral for our ancient unit. We were kind of like the family of a 110 year old woman who dies in her sleep and says, "What? We didn't see that coming!" Okay, we kind of saw it coming but that didn't make the bill hurt any less. Fortunately, PB is teaching some extra courses which will take the edge off. I've also become a bit of a power bill weirdo because I can't wait for our bill to come each month so I can do a happy dance about how much lower it is than last year.

As I said, we don't typically have an official summer vacation. Maybe a week off here and there for VBS and whatnot, but overall we stick to the plan. And you know how I love me a good plan. But God had a different plan for us and back in May I began to sense that we needed to take a couple of months off. In fact, if I could have forseen this summer back in May, I would've said in my best Roy Scheider voice, "We're going to need a bigger break."


It started out well and good. Lots of swimming, trips to the library, bowling and no drama. We wrapped up June with vacation bible school and I was looking forward to more relaxation mixed in with a little lesson planning during the month of July. What I should have said was, "Hello, July. Why don't I just go ahead and bend over right now so you can kick my fanny?"

Let's begin with July 1st when the dog stopped eating. And the 2nd when she still wasn't eating. And the third... you get where I'm going, right? By the 4th we knew Zoe was waning but the vet wasn't open on the holiday so we spent Independence Day rubbing her ears and keeping her comfortable. We took her to the vet on the 5th which just so happened to be the day the Casey Anthony verdict was announced. So there PB and I are in the van with Zoe on our way to have her put down listening to the verdict on the radio. What an odd, odd little moment that was. Adding to the crazy was the fact that all the vet techs were gathered around the radio opining on the verdict while I was trying to get us signed in. I was feeling a little ignored and that they weren't being very sensitive to the fact that we were about to have our beloved pet euthanized and was going to tell them just that in a very indignant tone of voice.

Instead what came out were a bunch of unintelligible sobs.

Which was also pretty effective.

I thought I was prepared to lose Zoe since we had pretty much done it once before, but I was utterly brokenhearted. It's okay if you don't have a pet and think it's weird to mourn the death of an animal. To others she might have been just a dog, but for our family she was a comforting presence and a beautiful picture of unconditional love. She was often a source of laughter for our family and reminded us that sometimes what you need most in life is a good nap. And we loved her.

So I mourned a lot.

And July marched on.

I chaperoned our high school students at Young Life Camp in Daytona Beach for a week.

This guy was our teacher.

And this guy led worship. Twice a day. All week. He wasn't bad. You might hear him on the radio one day.

So I learned some things at camp. I was reminded of the greatness of God and that it is an awesome thing to see teenagers' passion stirred for Him. I was hit squarely between the eyes with the sinister, smarmy, insidious garbage our students are up against and with a greater burden to point them to the Light. Also, I learned that high school students are astute and compassionate and hilarious.

And I learned that I am quite old.

And that I need sleep.

And since I am old and need sleep and didn't get any sleep, I spent the week after camp quite sick.

Speaking of sick...

Have I mentioned that my sister, Ma Bell, has a funky bacteria in her lungs? Ever the overachiever, it's a nasty strain that has made pulmonary, bacterial and infectious disease specialists stand up and take notice.

Really, she's quite a case and we're very proud.

So after Zoe died, and I spent some time atop the mountain at camp and on my couch with a cold (squeezing in lesson planning for good measure), I went to Charleston for a week to sit in the hospital beside my sister as she began her very intensive treatment. It was a rough week but because this is Ma Bell we're talking about we laughed a lot and sensed God's presence with us the entire week. She still has a very long road ahead of her and the treatment stinks (PIC Line is now a cuss word in our house) so prayers on her behalf are much appreciated.

That should cover the bullet points of my summer vacation. We did manage to squeeze in our first sleepovers and a bout of food poisoning thrown in for good measure. To be clear, those were two separate events.

As I close the book on summer, I can't help but be thankful that the One who saw this crazy summer coming prepared the way for me long before and sustained me throughout. Fall's a-coming and I've got a few plans but I know He's got some too and His are always better.

Prayerfully, His don't include the puppy Obi Wanda's been asking for.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Christmas Story

I should probably hang my head in shame over the fact that I'm doing a Christmas post in March. Good heavens, we've already sprung ahead and everything.

So, how was your Christmas?

We had big plans for Christmas this year. Two of PB's brothers and their families were visiting from out of the country (Africa and Texas) so there was going to be a big shindig at the in-laws on Christmas day. PB's mom was giddy at the prospect of having 3/4 of her offspring around the table for Christmas so I responded with a healthy dose of denial when Obi Wanda announced on Christmas Eve that she had a sore throat. I figured a good night's sleep and Christmas presents would cure whatever was ailing her.

Or not.

Nothing says Merry Christmas quite like a 102 degree fever. PB's brother, wife and children were scheduled to board a plane home to Africa a mere 48 hours later so we decided the best gift we could give them was to not show up and spread the cooties. It ended up being a relaxing morning as we curled up in our pj's while the kids played with their presents. The only problem was that we hadn't planned on being home for lunch so our Christmas dinner ended up being sandwiches and tomato soup with nary a casserole in sight.

I was so depressed.

I had a hankering for mashed potatoes and stuffing and turkey so I made the recommendation that we eat dinner at Denny's. A recommendation that PB promptly rejected. I had stuffing on the brain and couldn't understand PB's problem. When did he get all uppity on me? PB responded by asking me hadn't I heard the "Christmas at Denny's" song? No, I had not and I'm figuring I'm not alone in this. PB pulled it up on our iTunes and played if for me (yes, we already had it but that's a whole other discussion).

Wanna hear it? Warning, it makes "Cat's in the Cradle" sound like a party song:

Obviously, Denny's was now off the table but I still wanted to get out of the house so we racked our brains to figure out what kind of restaurant would be open on Christmas day.


In leu of pie we went to Twistee Treat for dessert, tucked the kids in for the night and watched, what else, "A Christmas Story". It was the perfect ending to what our kids have declared, and I have to agree, their favorite Christmas ever.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Near Death Experience That Really Wasn't

About 6 months ago I took our dog to the vet for her annual checkup and shots. The vet informed me at that visit that Zoe was probably not long for this world. Because she's a rescue we're a little iffy on her exact age, but I'm pretty sure she's somewhere between 12 and 13 years old.

One Saturday morning in December I thought for sure she was checking out for good.

It was traumatic to say the least.

PB and I woke up around 5:30 to the sound of Zoe scrambling to get up, taking a few steps and falling down again. She did this a number of times so PB helped her to the backyard thinking she just needed to go to the bathroom and was having a hard time walking on our wood floors. When they both returned to our bedroom several minutes later PB told me that Zoe had fallen a couple of times while she was outside.

I was concerned but not terribly alarmed until Zoe started burrowing between PB's side of the bed and his end table. It was odd at first but then she started trembling and eventually couldn't stand up at all.

Pathetic right? Neither PB nor I wanted to verbalize what we thought was happening so I mentioned that I would call the vet when they opened in a couple of hours. At which point PB said, "You know if we take her in she's probably not coming hooooooome."

And that's when the floodgates opened.

Under the glow of candlelight.

The light had burned out on our ceiling fan the night before but PB didn't bother changing it because he would have plenty of time to deal with that in the morning, you know, not knowing we would be holding a deathbed vigil for the dog and all.

So we lit a candle.

I sobbed as I rubbed Zoe's ears. I told her she had been a wonderful dog. I prayed over her that God would make her passing peaceful for her.

Y'all I gave that dog permission to die.

It was just like the Melanie's deathbed scene in "Gone With the Wind".

And that's when the kids wandered in.

Now keep in mind this is the only dog PB has ever owned so he ran into some difficulty explaining to the children what was happening to Zoe. So I took over and explained that Zoe was really sick and it was the kind of sick the vet probably wouldn't be able to fix so it was likely the vet would be "putting her to sleep" and Zoe wouldn't be coming home from the vet.

There. That's a clear and gentle explanation of the matter, right?

"And then she'll wake up in a few days?" asked Doc.


"Um, no honey. Then she'll be dead," I said. I hastened to add that this was the kindest thing we could do for Zoe and that we NEVER DO THAT TO PEOPLE, just in case any of us would be making a trip to the hospital any time soon.

Doc looked pretty sad until Obi Wanda asked if we could get a puppy.

We called my dad who came over to stay with the kids while PB and I took Zoe on her final ride in the van. The children kissed Zoe and told her goodbye, we loaded her onto her dog bed and carried her to the van....

...where she promptly stood up and smiled at us.

Are you kidding me?

We continued the drive of doom thinking this was just a final burst of life and were still convinced this was it. In fact, we still had to carry her from the van into the office where everyone gave us that sympathetic "we know your dog's about to die" look.

The vet took her to the back to examine her and returned with a big smile on her face, "It's only a slipped disc. We'll just give her a cortisone shot and some drugs and she'll be fine."

I'd like to say I jumped with joy but that would be a big, fat lie. PB and I just sat there in silence because we had both been hit with the same truth: eventually, we would have to go through this all over AGAIN. Only next time the kids probably won't believe us because we had told them Zoe wasn't coming home so we'll have to work even harder and say that, no really, she's gonna die this time.

I felt like I had been hit by a truck.

And one day I get to do it all over again!

Monday, January 24, 2011

As Frosty would say: "Happy New Year!"

Never mind the fact that we're more than 3 weeks into the new year... it's the thought that counts.

Typically when I go blog AWOL I pop back in to say I don't know where the time has gone, I've been laying low, blah, blah, blah. This time I can say I know exactly where the time has gone and I have NOT been laying low. Instead it's been: funeral, near funeral, the court house - twice, and cootieville. Stories? I've got 'em. It's gonna take a few days, but I'll try and take them chronologically.

First, the funeral.

My uncle (my mother's brother) passed away shortly after Thanksgiving. Sixteen years my mother's senior and suffering from Alzheimer's, his death was not unexpected but sad all the same. He was a gentleman to the core, beloved by many and adored by my mother. Fortunately, my parents had flown to Texas to visit him just days before his passing and I know that visit was a gift to them.

When I got the call that my uncle had died my initial reaction was that as much as I wanted to, I could not make the trip for the funeral. I won't bore you with the details, but I felt there was just too much stuff going on and no way I could leave town for three days. I tried to make peace with that decision but could not escape the knowledge that there has never been a time that my parents have not dropped everything to come to my aid. Seeing my internal struggle, PB looked at me and said, "Go."

I'm so glad that I went.

Because it was fun.

Just fun.

Fun, fun, fun.

Can I say that about a funeral? Because I just did. Because it was.

Sweet mercy, it was fun.

Can I tell you about my flight? Oh, let me tell you about the flight.

My sister, EC, and I were supposed to fly out together: Orlando to Houston (or was it Dallas?) to El Paso. I called EC the morning of our flight to coordinate our trip to the airport only to find out the plague had descended on her house and she was in the middle of puke fest 2010.

She didn't think she should fly.

Um, no honey, you shouldn't fly. You shouldn't be sitting on the same airplane as me, breathing the same recycled air with me, sharing an arm rest with me... I mean, no darling, you shouldn't fly in your condition. You'd be miserable.

And she really would've been miserable because the flight was CRAZY.

We left Orlando 45 minutes late which made me nervous because I only had an hour layover in Houston (or was it Dallas?). I really started to panic when the pilot announced the flight was going to take a little longer than planned because we were going to have to fly over a storm. I kept texting PB and telling him to pray, pray, pray that I would somehow make my connection. I had a sudden onset of double restless leg syndrome because I knew that I would be up the creek if I missed my next flight. Given the late hour and the fact that I was flying to El Paso (not exactly known as a travel hub), I knew my connection was my only chance to make it to the funeral on time. I might've been rocking back and forth a wee bit as I prayed that not only would my fanny but also my checked bag somehow, someway make the connection.

I think I made my seat mate a little bit nervous.

As we landed the flight attendant announced that our connecting flights were being held but we would have to hurry and there was no guarantee that we would make it. The map in my trusty Sky Mall magazine made it clear I was going to see quite a bit of the airport as I ran through three concourses to get to my gate. There's no way to recreate my mad sprint for you other than to say that I ran faster than I've ever run in my life. I ran down one escalator only to have to run up another one because I shouldn't have run down the first one to begin with. My lungs were about to explode.

And did I mention that I had to pee like the race horse I looked like?

EC could've made that dash without breaking a sweat but I'm pretty sure she would've tossed her cookies somewhere between concourse B and C.

I made it to the gate, thrust my ticket at the gate agent who told me that not only had I made my flight, but they would be holding the plane for a few other passengers which meant, hallelujah, I would get to use a real bathroom before strapping in.

My bladder might've been relieved, but I was still recovering from my run as I walked through first class into regular class when a priest (A PRIEST!) stopped me and told me that he wasn't going to be usinghis seat "up there" and would like me to have it.

"Up there" being first class.

I was still breathing pretty heavy and now I had a look of utter confusion on my face as he spoke to me. I'm pretty sure he must've considered it a part of his ministry to look for the most frazzled passenger and bless them with a seat up front.

That would be me.

So I made it, my bag made it, and I almost kissed a priest.

And that was just the flight.

The funeral was a lovely and simple celebration of my uncle's life including the best eulogy I've ever heard. Oh, and one dear soul asked me if I was my 85 year old uncle's widow. Um, gross.

And then the fun began.

My sister, Ma Bell, had flown in from South Carolina so we did a bunch of family bonding as my parents drove us around Texas and New Mexico for a day and a half visiting some of the places they frequented with my uncle and aunt over the years.

There was an attempted border crossing (US to Mexico):

I sent a picture to one of my friends who texted me back that my sister and I would be the only ones heading in that direction.

We did the tourist bit, and we ate amazing food.

There were fluatas and flan. I'll just leave it at that.

Yes, I had fun at a funeral. Lots and lots of fun. And I hope that whenever my time comes someone will say the same thing about my funeral.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

NaBloPoMo No Mo'

I guess I should be encouraged by my nonchalance about failing to post every day during NaBloPoMo. As a girl who struggles with legalism I wondered if I would be too stressed by the pressure to blog every day for a month but it turns out I don't care.

That's progress for a girl who considers a list a vicious taskmaster that mocks me every time I don't cross everything off my daily to-do list. And that's a lot of mocking because rare is the day that I accomplish everything I set out to do.

Every once in a while I get to a rest stop in my journey where I get the chance to look back over the ground I've covered and see just how far God's brought me. I found myself parked at one of those rest stops yesterday as I sat in stalled traffic on the interstate. The kids and I were already 45 minutes late for our field trip to the zoo (there might have been a minor altercation between myself and the GPS) and were now at a complete standstill on I-4 due to a car fire ahead of us.

And, oh yeah, I had to pee.

Not too long ago I would've been the crazy lady gripping the steering wheel, snapping at my children, with my stomach in knots while having to go to the bathroom.

1 glass of OJ, 2 glasses of water and a protein shake before getting in the car for an hour. Not my brightest moment.

And, yes, I would've acted like someone else's car fire was a bigger burden on me than them.

Instead I called one of the friends we were meeting, asked her to leave our tickets at the will call window and listened to "Pippi Longstocking" with the kids.

And tried not to thing about going to the bathroom.

*sidenote: "Pippi Longstocking" is kind of freaking me out. A 9 year old girl who binges on coffee, picks up horses and brags about her father being the king of cannibals... seriously trippy.

My point is this. I can't put my finger on a specific moment in recent months where I decided to chill out about stuff like this. It may have crossed my mind that getting a grip would be a good thing but I don't have the kind of willpower to make it stick. There was a time I would've seen a need to change my attitude and responded by heading to Amazon, looking for the highest rated book on the subject, read it, made a big announcement to PB about how I was going to change and then went on the attack.

For about a week.

And then fail miserably.

God works differently when He does His work in my life. I know some people have those Damascus road moments and I've had a few not as dramatic Damascus sidewalk moments, but the big and lasting changes God makes in my life usually happen in the least spectacular way.

I guess it goes back to the whole tree and the fruit analogy. You never see a tree straining to produce fruit; the fruit just comes. Someone else waters and fertilizes the tree and the sun shines whether the tree asks it to or not.

Psalm 1 tells us if we delight ourselves in the law of the Lord we'll be like a tree planted by streams of water, bearing fruit in its season. It doesn't say to delight ourselves in the law of the Lord and then read every self-help book to fix whatever problem is inconveniencing us.

I'm far from fixed but that's no surprise to God. He's not stressed out by His to do list for my life. It's been nice here are the rest stop. I did finally get to pee, but now it's time to get going.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What I'm Using

Where two or more homeschooling mothers meet there shall always be the inevitable question...

So, what are you using?

Most moms ask the question in the name of research or out of curiosity while others ask it just to make conversation. However, there are the ladies who do it out of competition. You can tell there's a competitive edge to their question if they invade your personal space when they ask it.

I ran into an acquaintance at a homeschool convention a couple of years ago. She stopped me in the hotel corridor, got in my grill and asked me THE question. Technically I don't have a grill. Just your standard orthodontia. But if I had a grill she would've been all up in it. Okay, she was up in my orthodontia. Whatever she was up in, she was clearly unimpressed with my response because she asked, "Why would you do THAT???" PB's chin about hit the floor but he recovered, grabbed my elbow, told me we were late for dinner and hustled me to the elevator. I'm certain people outside the closed elevator doors could hear his, "Are you kidding me?!" No dear, I'm not kidding. Happens a lot.

And yet, I'm about to post about what I use. (Not to be mistaken with what I'm on. That would be Butterfingers minis.)

I'm a homeschool voyeur. I love to know what people are using because I'm a research addict so I love to hear what's working and not working for someone else. I love the information pipeline that's introduced me to some great tools and helped me avoid others. Also, my memory is shot to pieces and the blog seems like a great place to document what we're doing.

So here's what we're using and how it's going:
  • Bible: Grapevine Studies - This was one of my pipeline discoveries. I'd had the hardest time finding a study that worked for my crew and had looked at Grapevine Studies before. I just couldn't figure out how drawing a bunch of stick figures would be helpful. After listening to a friend's glowing review and looking at her copy I decided to give it a try and I'm so glad I did. The kids and I are doing the survey of the Old Testament this year and we all love it. I've found that while Doc and Obi Wanda illustrate each passage they start to talk about what's happening and are much more engaged in the lesson. The curriculum has you put together notecards detailing each lesson so by the end of the year the kids will know the timeline of the Old Testament and facts about the main people and events. Above all, I love that each lesson ends with the same question: What does this tell us about God? Love it. Love it. Love it.
  • Math: Developmental Math for Obi Wanda and Math Mammoth for Doc - I went with Developmental Math for Obi Wanda because I wanted something that would introduce her to basic math concepts before moving onto Math Mammoth. Obi Wanda likes it and she's learning how to add so we'll stick with it until she finishes the book. I tried three other math curriculums before settling on Math Mammoth for Doc. Doc has responded well to the clear instructions and the book's approach to math seems to be tuned into his frequency.
  • Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears for Obi Wanda and copywork for Doc. I hate teaching handwriting. Hate it. It's not the curriculum's fault. I just hate it. I really do. I know moms outsource and use co-ops for subjects like math and science, but I would outsource handwriting in a heartbeat. Please someone, anyone, come and teach my children how to write a d. I'll pay you in cookies.
  • Reading: Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading for Obi Wanda along with various readers. Right now she's reading "Green Eggs and Ham" aloud. Doc is reading through various age appropriate books. Right now he's reading "The Sword in the Tree" by Clyde Robert Bulla. The thing that thrills me to no end is that Doc has discovered that he loves to read before bedtime. He began with the "Flat Stanley" books and now he's working through the "Magic Treehouse" series. The biggest struggle will be finding books at his reading level that are quality books and interesting to him. There's a lot of dumb books for young boys. I know there's a theory that it doesn't matter what he's reading just so long as he's reading, but it's not my theory. I want him to read good books. Got any book recommendations for a 2nd grade boy to read on his own?
  • Grammar/Writing: First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind and Writing with Ease - both for Doc and both from Peace Hill Press. I got a late start on this last year so we're finishing up the first grade work, but will be moving onto second soon. I've been happy with both products as they take a gentle approach and build naturally. I liked the idea of narration and memorization but was intimidated by how to approach them. These products have taken away the guesswork and Doc has responded well to both.
  • Spelling: All About Spelling - Doc. I like it, Doc likes it and Doc is learning to spell. The curriculum offers plenty of review so those pesky spelling rules will stick. Doc's a hands on kid so he really like using the letter tiles on the magnetic board.
  • Vocabulary: Wordly Wise 3000 - Doc. We don't use this in its entirety. There's a portion of each lesson that requires reading story and then using the weekly vocabulary words to answer questions. Unfortunately a lot of the questions are "why" questions and the second grade mind just isn't ready to determine the motivation behind an event. (Or at least my second grader's mind isn't ready for that.) Beyond that, it works for us.
  • Literature: living books - all of us. So many books, so little time. Right now we're reading "Dangerous Journey" by Oliver Hunkin. It's "Pilgrim's Progress" adapted for kids and it's making me want to read the original. The kids are digging it also. The highlight of our year was listening to the complete "Chronicles of Narnia" as a family. I think we're going to have to do that on a regular basis as we all, even Obi Wanda, got quite attached to the Pevensie children and their friends. I'm itching to read "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" as we head into December.
  • History: living books - all of us. This year we're studying American history and have been sitting in the Revolutionary War for a while. We've read a lot of biographies and used the "Felicity" books from the American Girl series and a whole bunch of other books from the library. There's an endless supply on the subject. We listened to "Johnny Tremain" on a long road trip, but ultimately that one was a bit over the kids' heads. We've also been watching the PBS series "Liberty's Kids" throughout our studies. I think we've been looking at the Revolution long enough though. I think it's time to win the war, get the government set up and head out west.
  • Science: Apologia's Zoology 1 - all of us. This week we talked about bat guano and next week we'll be looking at pterosaurs. I absolutely love this curriculum. The kids get excited about doing it and are retaining a lot of the information.
I think that covers everything. The kids have each chosen a subject they want to study on their own this year. Obi Wanda wants to learn about horses and Doc's studying cars. We read a biography of Henry Ford this morning and now he's working on an assembly line in his room.

We've had a good year this year despite the fact I continue to struggle to find a groove. I've resigned myself to the idea that said groove may not materialize until 2011. And now I'm going to get my Butterfingers hit.

Monday, November 8, 2010

That didn't last long

I had a feeling I wouldn't be able to make it 30 days in a row, but I kind of thought I could go 7. I'm hoping it helps my case that my brain was so mushy by last night that I wouldn't have written anything coherent anyway.

Here's what's making me super happy today:

That almost never happens at Target.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Stuff I'm Thankful For

  • God's precious provision
  • cold weather has finally hit the Sunshine State
  • that I'm not a field goal kicker because I couldn't handle the pressure. (Poor Dustin Hopkins!)
  • that I get to watch Obi Wanda help lead worship in children's church tomorrow
  • that my kids love going to church
  • that PB know how to cook
  • for a relaxing long weekend that's being capped off with "Fall Back"
  • that I'm about 20 minutes away from curling up on the couch with a mug of hot chocolate

Friday, November 5, 2010


Tiffany over at Hillside Hollow tagged me for this 8 Question Meme. She submitted 8 questions I must answer and then I have to create 8 new questions and tag 8 people to answer them.

So here goes:

1. What did you have for breakfast this morning? I'm always curious to hear what other people eat for breakfast, don't know why, call me weird. Plain Cheerios and OJ

2. What is one or some of your Thanksgiving traditions? We don't really have any Thanksgiving traditions beyond the usual Macy's parade watching and gorging ourselves with casserole and pie.

3. Publix or Walmart and why? Publix. BOGO plus coupons is cheaper than Walmart. I do buy our dairy at Aldi because milk and cheese are super cheap there. Also, driving in the Walmart parking lot makes me want to hurt someone.

4. What is your favorite tv show? I'm gonna have to go with The Middle. Whisper: The Middle (You'd understand if you watch the show.)

5. What are three adjectives that describe you? Tallish, brunette (for now) and Fergalicious.

6. When you have an hour of free time what do you like to do? Nap or read or catch up on Netflix.

7. What is your favorite type of art? Obi Wanda's drawings.

8. What is your current favorite song? "Through Smoke" by Needtobreathe

And now for my 8 questions:
  1. Football or basketball?
  2. Chocolate or potato chips?
  3. What book are you reading right now?
  4. Are you still in touch with you childhood best friend?
  5. Did you cry harder in "Up" or "Toy Story 3"? (If you saw both but didn't cry in either... do you have working tear ducts?)
  6. What did you eat for dinner last night?
  7. Favorite book you read as a child.
  8. Do you paint your toes? If so, what color are they right now?
Tag, you're it:
Lisa at Finding Noah
Cara at In-N-Out Bergers
Tracy at Just Me (If I have to post, you have to post. So there!)
Becky at Becks

I think a lot of these people have jumped off the blogging wagon, but I thought I'd tag some of them to give them an easy way back into blogging.

Or they can just ignore this. Either way, Day 5 is done!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


15 years of marriage and I wouldn't change a thing.

Except some hairstyles.

And wardrobe choices.

But beyond that, I wouldn't change a thing.

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