Friday, July 30, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday – July 30, 2010



1. My kitchen and dining room are finished!!  Well, they need to be straightened up, but the real “work” is done.  PWM and the kids painted the dining room/kitchen/back hall for me last week.  Just about everything is back up on the walls.  PWM took the baskets off the top of the cabinets while he was painting and tonight we pulled out all the china and put it up on top of the cabinets.  I have several plates set up so we can see the pattern – it  looks so nice!  And the china is easier to get to, so we might actually use it!

2. One set of china is my wedding china.  I only have a 4 piece place setting of this with 4 goblets.  However, I inherited my aunt’s china that I used to see in her china cabinet whenever we visited.  It’s not as high a quality, but I have at least a 10 piece place setting, and the colors match my kitchen perfectly.  And, I’m reminded of my aunt (who died about 10 years ago) every time I see it.

3. I’ve learned a new knitting technique – the sliding loop.  I’m making a pair of socks using it.  It’s pretty nifty and I’m always glad for another technique in my arsenal.

4. My parents and brother with his family are all coming to visit in 2 weeks.  We have rented a house on a lake nearby and are really looking forward to a week of fun and family.

5. I finished the sweater I knitted for Mom, except that it needs to be blocked.

6. One of my other projects this week was to clean the schoolroom – and I actually did it!  The local half-price book store and Goodwill got lots of stuff from us this week.

7. As I clean and organize, I’m trying to actually get things out of the house and not just rearrange where they are.  So, I moved the china to the space above the kitchen cabinets, but I got rid of the baskets that were originally there.

So, what’s up with you this week?  Check out Conversion Diary to read what others are saying!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Wednesday Night

I have so much I want to write about – parenting, materialism, living like Jesus, etc. – but I have a terrible migraine tonight, so it’s just not going to happen.

However, I can be rather non-profound and show you pictures of our plants and garden.

048 050


These are all my wave petunias grown from seed this year.  I was a little late getting them out, but the really perk up the front yard.



My lavender plant is very small, but coming along.



Mint (AKA – the Audrey II)  It’s growing like crazy.  I’ve already dried some leaves and am making mint extract.


Basil – It’s starting to flower, so I’m glad I’ve already got the leaves off and they’re almost dry.


Dill – I got lots of dill, which is good because I like it in scrambled eggs.

056  059

Catnip – I’ve already pulled off leaves to dry, but I didn’t know how pretty the flowers are.



Oregano – It was planted later than everything else, so it’s still catching up.

062063 065 066 067 

These are the hanging cukes and tomatoes.  We’ve had several cucumbers already, but the tomatoes are still green.  The Topsy Turvy bag does work better than the ice cream bucket and I think it’s because the depth of the bag allows for better root system development.  In any case, they’re growing.  Thankfully, the kids love cucumbers and tomatoes.




Our Square Foot Gardens were invaded by rabbits.  I don’t know if you can see, but there are holes in several of the carrot squares.  We’ve put the cages back up to protect them.  I actually had broccoli growing this year, however all but one of the broccoli plants had been eaten down to the ground.  That rabbit was sure busy.  We’ll be getting broccoli from the CSA, so it’s not the end of the world.

That’s what’s up in our gardens.  Thankfully, they don’t require much care.  What all have you been up to outside this summer?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Today, I . . . . (July 26, 2010)

Today was an incredibly productive day for me.  I . . .

  • finished purging books and getting them ready to take to the half-price book store.
  • (with help from the kids) moved books around so that we’re ready for the Core 200 books along with any other school books I need to buy in the next few weeks.
  • decided which geography book to buy for Wild Man.
  • organized the science boxes – which involved getting rid of stuff we never will use and consolidating other stuff.  We now have a general science box, a biology/dissection box, and a microscope supply box.
  • finished organizing both closets in the schoolroom.
  • vacuumed the schoolroom.
  • filled the back of the van with tons of stuff to go to Goodwill (in addition to the books).
  • moved the old crib/bassinet (was handmade for my dad in 1940) from the upstairs closet to the schoolroom.
  • organized the linens that used to live in the old crib and gave them new homes as well as getting rid of lots of them.
  • brought my entire yarn stash down to the schoolroom, put all the yarn in Ziploc bags (I’ve been getting paranoid about the possibility of bugs in my wool), and then put the bags into the antique crib.
  • ate Rosie Girl’s yummy homemade Leek Soup (from her Williams-Sonoma Soup cookbook).
  • dealt with Wild Man’s inability to manage the limits we’ve imposed on media.  Let’s just say that the parents are going to be more involved (and take possession of his computer for a while.)
  • watered the tomatoes and cucumbers.
  • visited with my mother-in-law while I was taking sheets to her house (and I still can’t find her pink flat sheet – even though I’ve gone through all the linens in the house!!)
  • made a batch of brownies (with Wild Man’s help).
  • finished Mom’s sweater, except for weaving in ends and blocking.  She’ll be up for a visit in a few weeks so I can give it to her.
  • Took a nice hot shower and pulled the shower head off the pipe trying to make the massage part of it work!  I finally got it all figured out, but the ceiling got rather wet in the process.

Whew!!  I haven’t been this productive in ages.  I think I may sleep till noon tomorrow and do nothing but read books and knit socks!  So, night, night!!

Talking to the Cat (Silver)


Silver jumped on my lap today in the millisecond that it wasn’t filled with knitting or a book.  I started to pet her and we had an “interesting” conversation.

Me: “Oh, my sweet Silver, do you wuv to be petted behind the ears?!”

Silver: “Woman, there is no need to use baby talk.  I’m 9 years old, which means I’m like 120 in human years, so I could be your grandmother!  (By the way, can you scratch a little more down by the chin?!)”

Me: “Fine.  Be that way.  But, remember that I buy your food, so watch the attitude.  Oh, and you’re purring.”

Silver: “Yeah, yeah, I’m purring.  I can’t help it.  Don’t start to think I’m weak or anything.  By the way, you’ve been slacking on the cat petting lately.  What’s that all about?”

Me: “Oh, Silver!  You know I love you!  I was knitting a pair of socks, and now I’m almost done with Mom’s sweater, and I have about a zillion books that I desperately want to read.  My lap is rarely empty.”

Silver: “And the problem is  . . .   You seem to have forgotten that I’m the center of the universe.”

Me: “Um, yeah, right.  Well, Miss Center of the Universe, do you think you could limit the shedding a bit.  This black skirt is quickly turning gray.”

Silver: “Hey, shedding is what I do.  I eat, sleep, use the litter box, sleep, and shed.  Well, and wait for the silly humans to get around to petting me.  (Oooo, a little to the left . . . perfect).”

Me: “Don’t forget tormenting the other cats.  You do that a fair amount.  And created quite the hassle a few weeks ago.”

Silver: “Not my fault.  (Oh, scratch right behind the right ear, yep, got it.)  Anyway, it was the crazy cat from “outside” that tried to start something with me and Sassy.  And then Sassy got freaked out which freaked me out . . . “

Me: “Which led to the two of you trying to kill each other and destroy the house.  Yes, I recall.  And Sophie wouldn’t come out of Rosie Girl’s room for several hours.  You two really got into it.”

Silver: “But, we got through it.  A few days of separation, a little canned cat food, and some good petting from the lady that came to feed us when you were gone.  I like her – can she come again.  She’s not too busy for cat-petting.”

Me: “Oh, hush.  You’re getting plenty of love right now.  And, you know, it almost sounds like you planned that little “outside kittie” attack.  You know, just to get canned food and a room to yourself for a while.

Silver: “Me, never!!  Perish the thought!  (Scratch just under my neck a little – there, perfect)  Although, I do know where the canned cat food is kept now.”

Me: “Silly cat!  And I even caught you drinking milk out of Wild Man’s cup that he left on the table the other day.”

Silver: “Well, the table is kitty territory.  Leave a glass of milk there and I can’t be responsible for the outcome.”

Me: “It’s sure a good thing you’re cute.  And I really need to find the cat brush.  You are quite the prodigious shedder.”

Silver: “Gotta be good at something in life.  Shedding and napping.  That’s what I do.  Now let me climb up to your neck – just to prove that I’m the dominant creature here.”

Me: “I think not.  My clothes are already gray from your fur.  And the phone is ringing, so off you go.  Try to find another sucker to give you as much love and affection as I do!”


(Note: this may not be a completely accurate transcription of the conversation, considering  that I’m writing it at 1:40am.  Nonetheless, it is an accurate reflection of the attitudes of both human and cat!)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Thoughts – July 25, 2010

Psalm 19:14  May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock, and my Redeemer.

I really don’t have anything to say tonight, but this was in my reading tonight and it reminded me of the importance of my words and thoughts.

Friday, July 23, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday – July 23, 2010


Friday evening again and you know what that means!!

1. We’ve had so many storms lately that I feel like I’ve been going from one migraine to the next.  Not so fun.

2. I’m organizing the schoolroom.  I’m not really sure why we call it a schoolroom, since no one actually does schoolwork in there – they tend to do it in the living room or dining room.  Nonetheless, the school and craft supplies are all stored there.  Right now, they are on the floor, but eventually they will all be stored neatly.

3. Of course, the key to true organization is to get rid of extra stuff.  That is my current obsession.  I’ll have lots and lots of stuff to take to Goodwill in the next week or so.

4. I harvested lots of leaves from my herbs – basil, mint, dill, and catnip – and dried them.  The basil isn’t completely dry, so it’s still on a cookie sheet on top of the microwave  oven.

5. I’m trying to make my own mint extract this year, too.  I put chopped mint leaves in a jar with grain alcohol so I’m waiting 4-6 weeks for the mint oil to be extracted into the alcohol.

6. My addiction to cooking reality shows continues.  I really enjoy Next Food Network Star, Top Chef, Chopped, and now 24 Hour Restaurant Battle.  I used to watch Iron Chef and Food Network Challenge, but I’m not as fond of those nowadays.

7. My current knitting project is a sweater for my mom that is just like the one I made for myself for Easter.  I’ve also ordered yarn for a few pairs of socks.

Check out Conversion Diary to see what others are saying!

Curriculum Plan – 2010-2011



It’s that time of year again – school planning time!  In about 6 weeks, we’ll be officially starting school since we follow the public school calendar around here.  I’ve ordered some of our curricula, but still have some pieces yet to get.  The schoolroom is in a shambles, none of the schoolwork is in Homeschool Tracker Plus, and I have a headache.  Nonetheless, I’m optimistic that we can start on time and everyone will be educated by the end of May (including the parents).

Rosie Girl – 10th Grade (and generally independent)

  • History/Geography/Social Science – Sonlight Core 200
  • Bible – Old Testament Survey - Rosie Girl hasn’t been all that happy over the last few years with Sonlight Bible and asked to “just read the Bible”.  This year we decided to have her read through the Old Testament along with Fee and Stuart’s How to Read the Bible For All It’s Worth and How To Read The Bible Book By Book.
  • English Literature – Sonlight Core 200 literature (it’s never let us down yet!)
  • English Composition – Write At Home’s essay writing workshop followed by the research paper writing workshop.  During and after these workshops, she will be writing regularly about Social Sciences, Bible, or English Literature.
  • Chemistry – Singapore Chemistry with MicroChem Kit
  • Fantasy Literature – Rosie Girl has already read several fantasy literature book series and just needs to write a paper to receive her 1/2 credit for this course.
  • Japanese – Rosie Girl did 1/2 credit’s worth of Latin last year, but has requested Japanese this year.  I found a DVD course to get her started, but she will spend most of her time with Mango, a course available through our local library.  Of course, she will get to use these skills when she watches her anime shows and reads anime books.
  • ACT/SAT review – Weekly, Rosie girl will take part of an ACT or SAT test to review her standardized testing skills.
  • Algebra 2 – Rosie Girl uses ALEKS for math with PWM working alongside her.
  • PE – Rosie Girl will keep a record of her physical activity (Wii Fit, biking, walking, etc.) as well as continuing with her tap dancing class.
  • Art 2 – At the local high school
  • Piano – At Lawrence Academy of Music
  • Mixed choir – At the local high school.  She is also hoping to participate in the Show Choir.
  • Community service – Rosie Girl will be helping our worship director at church with some of her more “mundane” chores and learning how the worship director functions.

Wild Man – 7th Grade

  • History/Geography/Social Science – Sonlight Core 5 – Wild Man has dyslexia and still doesn’t do well with lots of writing, so the “spine” of Core 5 (the Encyclopedia and Eastern Hemisphere Explorer) would be quite difficult for him to accomplish.  Instead, I’m going to use the Instructor’s Guide to schedule the rest of Core 5 and then use a Geography book as our spine that Wild Man and I will take turns reading aloud from.
  • Bible – Some kind of overall Bible survey.  We have a couple of books of this nature, but PWM isn’t real thrilled with them, so we’re considering others.  PWM will do Bible with Wild Man this year.
  • Literature – Sonlight Core 5 – Again, Sonlight literature has always been successful!
  • Grammar – What a dilemma!!  I think I’ve decided on Easy Grammar 5 or 6 (he’s in 7th grade, but his dyslexia means his literacy is lower than advertised) while using the Winston Grammar cards on occasion to help with parts of speech.  I don’t know how well this will work, but we’ll give it a whirl!
  • Spelling – All About Spelling – This has helped not only his spelling, but also his handwriting and his reading.  Definitely a keeper!
  • Composition – Institute for Excellence in Writing last year and Wild Man was quite successful.  We will be continuing that program this year.
  • Science – Singapore Intermediate Science A and maybe B.  We will also do some of the dissections I had planned to do with Rosie Girl last year that we never got around to!  I may also have him read some of the Sonlight Core 5 science readers.
  • Math – ALEKS under the supervision of PWM.  We’re going to try to be more diligent with math this year.  Math definitely suffered during the years when we were working with Wild Man on his dyslexia.
  • PE – Wii Fit, biking, trampoline, karate class
  • Band – Wild Man will be in the 7th and 8th grade band at the local middle school playing percussion again this year.
  • Community service – Working once a week at the Senior Nutrition Site here in town.

There it is!  All my crazy school year thoughts in one post.  Let’s pray that something remotely sane comes of it!

Check out Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers to see what others are planning this year!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Reading Tonight – 7/22/2010

Tonight, PWM read aloud to us from What You Didn’t Learn From Your Parents About Christianity by Matthew Paul Turner.  Of course, since PWM was reading to the whole family, our kids won’t be able to say that they didn’t learn all this stuff from their parents, because they are learning it all now!  (Did you follow any of that?)

PWM likes reading this as a family because it has started some rather interesting discussions.  For example, my kids were aware that the “Sinner’s Prayer” is not actually in the Bible verbatim, but is more like a distillation of what we believe about salvation.  They also got to hear how I got down on my knees by my bed probably 5 or 6 times between the ages of 10 and 17 to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” again since I wasn’t quite sure that it “took” the first time – even though I’d been baptized and everything!

Then we got to the section of quotes about Jesus.  My favorite, of course, is this one by C.S. Lewis (from Mere Christianity):

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. ... Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God."

Rosie Girl didn’t immediately know that the quote was by Lewis, but she said it sounded very familiar because it was just like what the professor told Susan and Peter about Lucy in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe.  Here is a very small section of the passage (but you should read the whole thing because it’s very good):

“Logic!” said the Professor half to himself.  “Why don’t they teach logic at these schools?  There are only three possibilities.  Either your sister is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth.  You know she doesn’t tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad.  For the moment then, and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth.”

I love family read-aloud time.  And I love it when fiction teaches us truth!!  Do you have any examples to share?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Do The Next Thing!

I’ve been feeling a bit (OK, a lot!) overwhelmed by all the things on my to-do list:

  • Finalize curriculum choices.
  • Clean and organize schoolroom (so far, I’ve emptied the contents of the large closet onto the floor – I’m not sure this is progress!)
  • Order curriculum
  • Set up next year’s school schedules
  • Finish Rosie Girl’s 9th grade transcript
  • Keep Wild Man from watching Netflix or TV for 10 hours a day!

Then I read this post about cleaning closets on the Internet Monk site, which led me to look up the poem that he referenced.  Here it is:

“Doe the Next Thynge” (Do the Next Thing)

From an old English parsonage down by the sea
There came in the twilight a message to me;
Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven,
Hath, it seems to me, teaching from Heaven.
And on through the doors the quiet words ring
Like a low inspiration: “DOE THE NEXTE THYNGE.”

Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, and guidance are given.
Fear not tomorrows, child of the King,
Thrust them with Jesus, doe the nexte thynge.

Do it immediately, do it with prayer;
Do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing His hand
Who placed it before thee with earnest command.
Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,
Leave all results, doe the nexte thynge

Looking for Jesus, ever serener,
Working or suffering, be thy demeanor;
In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,
The light of His countenance be thy psalm,
Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing.
Then, as He beckons thee, doe the nexte thynge.



I know that the way to get past being overwhelmed is just to “do the next thing” and to plod along instead of trying to race through getting it all done at once.  I love the reminder that Jesus is with me as I “do the next thing”.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Flowers – July 19, 2010

I have a miserable headache tonight and am writing this with an icepack tied to my head.  Instead of writing about headaches, though, I decided to show you pictures of flowers.

I grew up in Florida.  The name “Florida” is actually derived from the Spanish word for flower, “flores”.  However, the only flowers I really remember from my childhood are Hibiscus flowers and Royal Poinciana trees.  My mom has tons of plants, but the only ones that were flowers that I recall were the African violets (which are apparently hard to grow, but my mom did great with – we had lots).  I remember Florida being very green.  When I moved to Louisiana to go to college, I fell in love with springtime because of all the flowers, especially azaleas.  (As an aside, one of my great aunts was named Azalea, but it was pronounced with the stress on the first syllable.) 

Here in the Upper Midwest, we have an explosion of color every spring, but we have to wait until May for it.  I have Yarrow, Salvia, Lavender, and wild Violets in my front planter that I don’t have to do much about.  I had two lovely Coneflower plants, but they have apparently died, despite being perennials. 

My favorite flowers are Petunias and Morning Glories.  When we lived in Kentucky, I grew Purple Wave Petunias from seed the first year that Park Seed offered them.  The Petunias and Morning Glories were the only kinds of flowers that grew for me – and boy did they grow!!  I have pictures somewhere of Rosie Girl as a newborn in front of a bed of those bright Petunias with Morning Glories growing up trellises.  It was lovely!

Since we’ve been up here, I have usually purchased my Petunias, and I haven’t always had great success with getting really nice ones.  This year, though, I grew Wave Petunias this year from seed (Park Seed, of course) and they are looking gorgeous!!  Unfortunately, the only picture I have right now is the picture of my very first bloom.


Trust me, though, I now have pink, purple, and blue petunias spreading all over my front flower bed.  It is beautiful and I love to stand on the sidewalk and look at it.

Here are some random pictures of flowers that I took at Fort Wilderness last year.

IMG_0310 IMG_0313 IMG_0314 IMG_0316 IMG_0317 IMG_0320 IMG_0452

Now, I have no idea what kinds of flowers these are, but I was on a flower photographing kick last year at camp and it makes me happy to look at these, so I thought I’d share them with you.  Enjoy!

And why do you worry about clothes?  See how the lilies of the field grow.  They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink” or “What shall we wear?”  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of it’s own.  Matthew 6:38-33

What do you like to look at or listen to when you don’t feel well?

Sunday, July 18, 2010


PWM (and Rosie Girl and her friend and Wild Man) painted my dining room yesterday.  All I did was paint a little section of trim work.  I spent the rest of the day knitting my mom’s sweater and NOT telling everyone else how to paint.  It was hard work.

I may have mentioned once or twice (or a million times) that I’m a recovering control freak.  It’s shown up in lots of ways: I wanted to have “trophy children” – kids that were well-behaved so that people would talk about what a great mom I was; I worked and tried to make sure that PWM was doing the homeschooling “right”; I needed to have a completely clean house along with a flourishing career (and perfect children).

The migraines have made me completely re-evaluate my control freak status.  I think this is one of the (many millions of) things God has been changing in me.  I am not physically able to run the world anymore (was I ever really?).  Now I have to trust my family to be OK without me when I have the migraines.  So, I’ve learned that a messy house isn’t the end of the world.  The children are still educated, even when we don’t check off every activity in the curriculum.  And the dining room looks great, even if I wasn’t looking over their shoulders to make sure they did it all right.

Basically, I’m not the center of the universe!!  Yep, God still holds that honor!!  Being a control freak is really a rather selfish thing.  I believe that I’m the only one that knows the way to make life work.  And it’s usually due to some underlying fear.  In my case, it was fear of not looking good enough.  I needed to control every aspect of life so that the rest of the world knew that I was doing OK.

Well, folks, I am doing OK, but it’s only by the grace of God.  My dining room is a beautiful blue (pictures coming after the kitchen is done and everything is clean), but the world wouldn’t end even if it didn’t turn out perfect.  I can trust other people to manage what they need to (like painting) and I can trust God to always be there, even if I get let down somewhere else.

And my current version of “OK” is – I hope – closer to what God expects than to what I was aiming for a few years ago.  God is teaching me that “godliness with contentment is great gain” and other wonderful pearls – things that don’t have to do with a successful career, perfect children, and balancing all the spinning plates.

So, this week, it was the dining room painting where God helped me to let go and unwind some.  Bit by bit, I’m learning to work hard at what God has given ME to do, not what He has given someone else to do, or at some ideal that He has no intention for me to try to meet.

How do you relinquish control to God?  To whom else do you need to give over control at times?

Friday, July 16, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday – July 16, 2010


1. I turned 43 on Wednesday.  My dear family got me books, books, and more books!!  And a Dairy Queen ice cream cake!  Does life get any better?

2. About a week before we left for camp this year, our cats had a little stressful event.  A neighborhood cat came up to our screen door and our two gray cats got all stressed out, but they started to take it out on each other after we closed the door.  They were screaming, hissing, and bowing up like we’d never seen!  We separated all three cats for several days, rotating them so that everyone got some time in the basement with the food and litter box as well as time in the other rooms where they could smell the other cats.  We also got a Feliway diffuser which diffuses “happy cat pheromones” into the air.  A good friend who is also a cat person fed them while we were at camp so they could also get some attention while we were gone.  Since we have been home, there have been just normal kittie tussles and no screaming fits!

3. More about cats – It does appear that Silver has reasserted herself as the dominant cat.  Sophie had been dominant for a number of years.  I think, though, that Silver is telling the other cats, “You don’t EVEN want me to go all crazy on you again!!”

4. I’m drying some of the herbs that I’ve been growing.  I said that the oven smelled herbacious, but PWM said it was herbalicious!  Either way, it smells good.

5. I think some of the recent headaches have been related to neck pain from the bad mattresses at camp, so I’ve been using muscle relaxants, ice, and my TENS unit.  Today, I finally felt better on that regimen.

6. We bought paint for the dining room today and I painted a little section of wall.  I’m going to love it!!  And the name of the paint color is “sensual”!

7. Grandma is getting her cottage next door all set up.  She has most of the furniture that she needs.  She puts some flowers in her front flowerbed earlier this week.  We’ve had her over for dinner several times this week.  I think this is going to work out well.

Check out 7 Quick Takes Friday to see what others are up to!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Plans (for the moment) – July 13, 2010

I’ve already written about how my plans get overthrown quite often by my headaches and the importance of being flexible.  Nonetheless, I am seriously praying for some non-headache days in the near future because I have a great desire to clean and organize the schoolroom.  I feel the need to give away anything that can’t justify it’s existence.  I haven’t been able to get started on that project because I keep having headaches – this summer weather just doesn’t agree with my migraine-prone central nervous system!

While I’m on that organizing mission, PWM is going to paint the dining room and kitchen.  I’m still trying to decide which color blue, though.  One color seems a little gray for the walls, but the dining and kitchen area are open enough to handle it, I think.  I’m afraid the other color is so powder blue that it will always make me think of 1970s and 1980s tuxedos.  If I can ever settle on a color, PWM (with some help from Grandma and maybe even some kiddos) will do the painting.

Then I can indulge my latent OCD tendencies.

But only if I can go a day or two without a migraine. 

That’s the plan. 

And the prayer. 

Lots of praying.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Burned Out Already?

Is it too early to be burned out with the school year?  ‘Cause I think I am – and I’ve been feeling this way since June.  Maybe it’s the string of headaches.  Maybe it’s having a 12 and 15 year old.  Maybe it’s because I’m about to be 43 years old in 2 days (ACK – 43!!).  Whatever it is, I’m just not feeling my usual interest and excitement about planning this year’s school year.

We’ve been educating our kids at home for their entire educational career.  Officially, it’s been 10 years for Rosie Girl and 7 years for Wild Man.  And I think I’m getting a little tired.  (As an aside, I’ve read articles on homeschooling sites about preventing burnout by moms who have been homeschooling for 2 or 3 years!  But, I want to hear from the moms who have been doing it for 20 years!!)

I debated calling it an unschooling year and just letting the kids do what they want for the year.  But, Rosie Girl is 15 and I’m not sure how I’d make a full year of watching anime movies look like useful education on a transcript.  And Wild Man . . .  well, let’s just say that he needs some structure.

My next thought is to buy the books and just hand them to the kids on September 1 and then take a really long vacation.  Hopefully, when I get back in May, they’ll have learned something.  Since I like homeschooling because it allows me lots of relationship time with my kids, though, I’m not sure that this is the best plan.

So, I’m back to planning the school year.  Rosie Girl does work quite independently.  Even her chemistry lab should require less input this year than her biology did last year.  Wild Man is reading much better this year, but I need to tweak Sonlight Core 5 before the year starts.

Strategies I’m employing to try to manage this burnout:

1. Plan a reasonable school year – I’m not trying to do too much with Wild Man and I’m using the types of curricula that he likes and works well with.  I’m comfortable that Rosie Girl’s schedule is manageable for her and she works mostly on her own.

2. Let the kids know how I’m feeling – Not only am I feeling a little overwhelmed before we’ve even begun, but the kids are a year older, so I expect that they will do what’s expected without fussing. 

3. Add games to the schedule – I know that Wild Man doesn’t always learn best with traditional techniques, so I’m looking for interesting games that go with our subjects.

4. Pray, pray, and pray some more – I’m choosing to continue homeschooling for lots of reasons and I firmly believe that it’s God’s will for our family.  I’m praying for God to support our educational endeavor, like He’s done, every other year.

5. Keep perspective – I love educating my kids at home.  I loved it when my husband was doing the teaching and I was working and I love it now that I’m at home all the time.  Whether or not I get the perfect curriculum or have it perfectly planned, my kids will learn.  Mostly, we will be learning and living together, which is what’s important.

What do you do when you start to feel burned out?  What kinds of new ideas do you have for middle and high school kids?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

A Visit To Rome – Kind Of

I went to Mass at our local Catholic church this afternoon with my mother-in-law (AKA in this blog as Grandma).  My normal blog readers have probably figured out by now that I’m an Evangelical.  To be specific, I attend (and PWM is an elder at) an Evangelical Free Church in America congregation.  I’m quite happy with my evangelical beliefs and theology, although I will admit to some frustration with various and sundry evangelical shenanigans that have gone on in this country in the last few years. 

Nonetheless, in the last few years, I have explored some other spiritual practices that were foreign to me in my evangelical upbringing, such as fixed hour prayer, scripted prayers, and following the liturgical year.  I’ve found that some of these things can add richness to my own spiritual experience as long as I’m doing them as part of a discipline and not a “fad” or “expression” for other people to notice.

I enjoyed the service today at the Catholic church.  The building is just a block away, so it’s a very easy walk (although we drove because a very bad storm was moving through).  I’m also glad for the chance to see old friends and neighbors and meet those who are still new to me.  I did find it a bit awkward because I didn’t participate in the Eucharist since I’m not a baptized Catholic and I don’t believe in transubstantiation.  I’m also a little embarrassed that I don’t know the Apostle’s Creed.  (I don’t mind that I don’t know the other things that everyone else can recite, but I do think that the Apostle’s Creed (or was it the Nicene Creed?) is something that every Christian should commit to memory.)

What the Catholic church does well:

  • Ritual – everyone knows what to do when.  I was always taught that this is a bad thing, but, honestly, we evangelicals just have a different kind of ritual.  The Catholic ritual still has a kind of Medieval feeling to it that I find comforting.
  • The Church Year – Now that Pentecost is past, we’re in “ordinary time” until Christmas (which I’m just now learning about now that I’m in my 40s).  The Church focuses on the life of Jesus from Christmas through Easter, then celebrates Pentecost, and then goes into “ordinary time”.  The whole Church is always reading the same readings and celebrating the same things no matter where you are in the world.  It’s very unifying.
  • Scripture reading – In many evangelical churches, you can go through the entire church service and only hear one or two verses from the Bible read – usually the text that the preacher is using.  In the Catholic service, there are readings from the Old Testament, New Testament, and Gospel (which is part of the New Testament, but it is a separate reading).  This much Bible reading can’t be a bad thing!  And, anyway, I like hearing the Bible read out loud.
  • Consistent focus on Jesus and his sacrifice – You can’t fault the Catholic church for  forgetting about Jesus!  Some evangelical churches preach such self-help sermons or Prosperity Gospel, that it’s hard to find Jesus.  You may quibble with the law/gospel distinction in Catholic theology, but Jesus is definitely central in the service.  And the priest this afternoon spoke today about the Good Samaritan and the Gospel is about love – unending love.
  • Theology of suffering – The Catholic Church has a much more robust theology of suffering than most evangelical denominations.  The idea of identifying with Christ in our suffering is quite comforting for those of us in pain.  Many evangelicals (and this may be largely a US phenomena, I’m not sure) think it’s our right as Christians to not suffer – hence the Prosperity Gospel phenomena.
  • Social services – The Roman Catholic church provides a huge number of social services in many parts of this country and puts many of us evangelicals to shame.  In fact, much of the pro-life movement was started by Catholics.  Evangelicals can learn much about community from several of the Catholic parishes I’ve seen.

Why I’m not a Roman Catholic (or why I’m staying an evangelical)

  • The Marian dogmas – Most Catholics tell me that they don’t worship Mary and I can buy that.  But, I still don’t see the biblical basis for the elevated status that they give Mary, the mother of Jesus.
  • The role of tradition – I’m still not clear on all of this, but I’m such a believer in sola scriptura that the idea that the tradition and the Church have authority even close to that of the Bible really bothers me.  This one is a pretty big deal to me.
  • The doctrine of the papacy – I simply don’t interpret the passage in Matthew the same way that the Catholic church does.  Of course, this is one of those places that the remnants of Medieval tradition don’t really help the case of the Church in my mind.  In any case, it’s really a theological issue.
  • Transubstantiation – I was never really taught all the different beliefs about the Lord’s Supper – transubstantiation, consubstantiation, Real Presence, etc. – but I’ve always considered the elements of Communion to be physical representatives of Jesus’ sacrifice.  Granted, I was raised Southern Baptist, and we didn’t “do” any of the mystical kinds of stuff.  I still hold to that view based on my reading of the Bible.

As you can see, I won’t be swimming the Tiber any time soon, but I am learning to appreciate the beauty and truth that each branch of Christianity brings to the whole.  What has been your experience?  Have you found anything helpful from other denominations of Christianity?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Family Camp 2010

We got back yesterday from Fort Wilderness.  It was a rainy, headache-y week!  But, a week at Fort is better than a week at home!!

July 3

  • Got a migraine while packing – that never bodes well.
  • Arrived at Fort an hour before dinner, which was BBQ chicken!!
  • Speaker this year was going to be speaking on Malachi.  Hmmmmm.
  • Met a young lady, E, and her sister, L, who were there with their mom, F, to volunteer for the week.

July 4

  • Waffles for breakfast!
  • Wild Man and Rosie Girl learned about making gummy worms at the Nature Center.
  • I hate the mattresses at Fort!
  • Grandma loves making fires in our little firepit.
  • It rained in the evening.
  • The boys in the nearby cabins have been chasing chipmunks and managed to trap one under a bucket.
  • PWM and the kids (with a little help from me) wrote a letter from Alvin and the Chipmunks to the “chipmunk chasing children” to ask for peanuts and Cheetos as reparations.

July 5

  • 2nd day of rain
  • Malachi is actually pretty interesting.
  • Having to be at breakfast by 8:30 is a little tough for a night owl like me.
  • Wild Man and I learned about geodes at the Nature Center.
  • 028 034  083
  • PWM is reading Artemis Fowl out loud to us as it rains.
  • 023
  • Rosie Girl painted my toenails!
  • Shrieking by teenage girls should be forbidden unless a 911 call is needed!
  • Rosie Girl wrote another note from the Chipmunks to the teenage boys.  They’ve figured out who’s doing the letter-writing.  Now it’s a fun little game!

July 6

  • Rained last night!
  • Rosie Girl and E getting along quite well.  It doesn’t hurt that E works in the craft shop.
  • Wild Man spending lots of time and money shooting 22’s, bows and arrows, and at the canteen.
  • 027
  • PWM, Grandma, and I went on a pontoon boat ride to see loons.
  • The Chipmunks wrote back!
  • The bookstore people were at camp today and I bought Radical since it’s not available at the library and I want to read it.
  • PWM and I walked after lunch and got rained on during the first part of the walk.
  • I lost terribly at Ladderball to PWM.
  • Family Games tonight! – our team was the FaithGraceStars and we came in 7th place out of 8 teams.  If we’d been last, we’d have at least gotten ice cream!
  • 054 055 057 060 062
  • Rosie Girl and Wild Man were chosen on our team to try to get an Oreo from their forehead to their mouth using only facial muscles.  They were very funny and Wild Man was successful!
  • 039 045 049 051
  • Migraine started at about 10pm and it was a doozy!!  I was up till 3am with nausea and vomiting, etc.

July 7

  • I didn’t get out of bed till 1pm.  PWM brought me some lunch.
  • Very, very, very tired all day.
  • But, I got a double scoop of ice cream because I had missed breakfast!
  • The adult banquet was held in the evening – tenderloin, potatoes, mixed veggies, sundae bar.  PWM was picked for our team in Fort Wilderness Jeopardy!

July 8

  • Lumberjack breakfast this am!
  • When we got to the beach, we found that someone had put several picnic tables on a floating dock and tied them up a few hundred feet out in the lake.  We thought they must be from Still Creek, where they have Women’s Breakfast, which was earlier in the week.
  • 073
  • We had our lovely walk to Cranberry Point with Jacques, the lumberjack as our guide. 
  • 075 078
  • When we got there, we found bacon cooking and the cooks ready to make our pancakes, but NO TABLES!!  It turns out that the tables and dock were from Cranberry Point!  What a prank!  We ate standing up, but it was still fun!
  • Another migraine – slept through session and lunch.
  • No, I was not happy to miss learning about the book of Malachi!
  • Weather was finally gorgeous!
  • I went to the last part of the last session in the evening.

July 9

  • Packing, packing, packing!
  • Home!!

While I would have preferred to be migraine-free, it was still a great week for everyone!