Thursday, September 30, 2010

Impressing God

Tonight I read Isaiah 58.  God is talking to Israel.  Here’s part of what He says: 

“Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast.  Tell my people Israel of their sins!  Yet the act so pious!  They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to hear my laws.  You would almost think this was a righteous nation that would never abandon its God.  They love to make a show of coming to me and asking me to take action on their behalf.  ‘We have fasted before you!’ the say.  ‘Why aren’t you impressed?  We have done much penance, and you don’t even notice it!’ 

“I will tell you why!  It’s because you are living for yourselves even while you are fasting.  You keep right on oppressing your workers.  What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling?  This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me.  You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like a blade of grass in the wind.  You dress in sackcloth and cover yourselves with ashes.  Is this what you ca fasting?  Do you really think this will please the Lord?

“No, the kind of fasting I want calls you to free those who are wrongly imprisoned and to stop oppressing those who work for you.  Treat them fairly and give them what they earn.  I want you to share your feed with the hungry and to welcome poor wanderers into your homes.  Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.” 

“If you do these things, your salvation will come like the dawn.  Yes, your healing will come quickly.  Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the Lord will protect your from behind.  Then when you call, the Lord will answer.  ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply”  (Isaiah 58: 1-9a)

How much of my spiritual activity or spiritual disciplines is done to impress God?  How much am I focused on myself?  Spiritual formation and the disciplines required for spiritual maturity, but when we use them to focus on ourselves, we’ve completely defeated the purpose.  Do I read Scripture to show God how pious I am or do I read it to really learn more about and know God?

I’ve had some real headache issues in the last five days.  I’ve noticed that pain makes me focus inward – everything I do is to try to lessen the pain or help me get through it.  This makes sense.  However, while I should treat the headaches, I also need to spend more of my time and energy on the needs of others.  I may not be able to provide for someone materially or even be emotionally available at that time, but I can always pray.  This gets my eyes off me and my pain and back on to God where they belong.

What thoughts do you have?  How can we fight the American consumeristic culture and learn to really love God and love others?

P.S. I won’t be posting again until Sunday afternoon/evening because I’m going on a Women’s Retreat.  Yes, you read that correctly, I’m going to be gone from Thursday through Sunday morning, hanging out with my mother-in-law and other women from our church, listening to a great speaker, and just enjoying God’s creation in the Northwoods!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Our Week In Review – 9/25/2010

This week can be subtitled “The Mom-Has-A-Cold-And-It’s-Amazing-Anything-Got-Done Week”.  On Monday I had a migraine and the beginnings of the cold.  The rest of the week, I’ve just had various manifestations of the cold, until today’s migraine.

Thanks to the kids working on their own and PWM, a few things did get done this week.

Wild Man

Vision Therapy – We found out on Monday that Vision Therapy is recommended for Wild Man because he has very poorly developed saccadic eye movements (rapid eye movements important for reading).  The eye doctor said that his reading and motion sickness should improve with therapy, but he makes no promises about spelling and writing.  I hope that these poorly developed eye movements have caused some neural pathways to not form properly and that therapy will allow these pathways to develop properly, helping Wild Man learn to spell.  But, we’ll see.

(When PWM and I got back from learning the results at the eye doctor’s office, we told Wild Man.  Wild Man told us about the test that was really hard, but it sounds like he misunderstood the directions.  Sooooooo, he went back to the eye doctor on Wednesday and they redid that test with Wild Man following the directions properly.  He still scored in the 1st percentile, which wasn’t surprising because the optometrist exam also showed poor saccadic movements.)

History – Australia this week!  Unfortunately, I didn’t do much reading aloud to Wild Man this week.  However, he did finish his reader on Friday, even though he doesn’t have to finish till sometime next week.  The big thing about Australia, though, was that Wild Man made a map of Australia out of cookie dough.  It tasted yummy, but it looked more like Australia before it was baked!

004 006 011 013

Writing – Wild Man finished his retelling of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf!”   I told him that it’s not supposed to be a comedy routine, but he managed to get a cute line in at the very end!

Spelling – We started back in Book 2 again.  Wild Man did pretty well with lessons 2 and 3.  We’ll be moving on next week.

Band – He practiced well this week then forgot to go to Band class yesterday!  This business of having class only on Tuesday, Thursday, and every other Friday is a little confusing!

Rosie Girl

History – She’s studying the early church and is now learning about some of the church councils.  She wrote a very nice paper about martyrs this week.  Her journal entry from Friday: “It’s a god!  It’s a man!  Wait, what the heck is Jesus, anyway?  A summary of the council of Chalcedon.”

Literature – She finished The Flames Of Rome.  Monday’s journal entry: “Nero was a sick, sick man.  That’s all I’m saying.”  (If you’ve ever listened to Jungle Jam, that was funny.)

Writing – Rosie Girl turned in her first draft of her comparison/contrast essay for Write At Home.  I like the comments that her coach has been giving her so far.

Art – Working with clay!  She’s making a ceramic box using clay slabs.  Sounds like fun!

Tap dance – She got a private lesson this week – none of the other kids were in class for some reason!

That was our week.  My mother-in-law and I leave for a women’s retreat on Thursday, so the kids and PWM are on their own for a few days.  I’m excited about three days up North!

Check out how others did this week at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers!


Friday, September 24, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday



Ah, Friday!!  Now that we’re “doing school” again, we all look forward to Friday!

1. I have a cold.  As all of my Facebook friends are aware – and probably tired of hearing about!  I was the last in the family to get it, but it has hit hard.  Today is day 5, so I hope I’m on the down side of it.

2. My mother-in-law and her friend drove from the deep, deep South up here and arrived yesterday.  They actually drove into Michigan and then took the ferry across Lake Michigan, then visited Door County before getting here.  Wild Man is thrilled to have Grandma around again!

3. Fall has fallen around here!!  The leaves are changing, it’s in the 50s, and it’s windy.  A definite fall day.

4. Night before last, I had the front door open with the screen door window open.  The local neighborhood outdoor cat came by and started meowing at our cats.  And our cats when berserk.   Again.  This time, though, we closed the door and got Silver and Sassy separated.  Wild Man and I each sat with a cat and fed them canned food.  We were able to reintroduce them yesterday afternoon and all has been calm since then.  We will not be leaving the front door open anymore.

5. Wild Man needed a clean shirt for school the other day.  Instead of putting in a full load of laundry (and let me assure you, he had plenty of dirty clothes), he decided to wash 4 items.  4 items of clothing in one load.  Yikes.

6. PWM is making Zuppa Toscana for dinner tonight.  Yummy.

7. I’ve been knitting quite a bit this week, mostly because I’ve been feeling so icky.  One of these days, Wild Man and I will actually read his science book.  Maybe.

Check out what others are saying at Conversion Diary!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Plans and Lists – 9/20/2010

The persistent migraine has kept me pretty unproductive today.  I did have Wild Man watch some DVR shows and do a map activity.

My plan for tomorrow – to not have a migraine.

My list for tomorrow if I don’t have a migraine:

    1. Cook dinner
    2. Lots  of school with Wild Man
    3. Learn Mobius cast-on.

Yeah.  We’ll see how it goes.


I was reminded last night about the importance of our vocation as part of our spiritual development after reading this from Internet Monk.

So often Christians separate vocation (work)  from their spiritual lives.   We think that the only people who are supposed to have those connected are the clergy.  But that’s not the case.

The Bible is very clear that work is to be a normal part of life.  We were made to be useful (but not to let our work become our idol).  Even before the Fall of Adam and Eve, God gave them work to do.  When they were thrown out of the Garden of Eden, part of the curse was that our work was to become much more difficult.  The book of Proverbs is chock full of exhortations for us to not be lazy and to do the work that is before us.  Paul says, in Colossians 3:23, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lords, not for men, since you know that your will receive an inheritance  from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” 

Later in church history, Luther reminds us that domestic work is serving God.  In his essay, “The Estate of Marriage” (1522), he commends to both men and women the work of taking care of children, including washing diapers, as part of serving God.

When I was working in medicine, I felt sure that I was in a vocation where I could serve God.  I did my best to take care of patients, to pray for them, and to refer them for spiritual care when needed.

Now I’m a stay-at-home mom who has trouble keeping the house running, much less getting the kids educated.  I have a bad habit of looking into the future and thinking about when I can have a “vocation” again.  Yet my vocation is here at home.  Raising and educating children is an important job.  If this is where God wants me to be right now, then I need to accept that joyfully.

Occasionally, I run into people who think that I’m wasting my education.  Education is never wasted.  In fact, my high level of education makes me an ideal home educator.  There is a lot less looking stuff up in biology and medicine because I’m already familiar with the  information.  Besides, learning is never wasted – it expands our horizons and encourages us to think.

Today, when you go to work or stay at home to work, remember that you are serving God.  There is no wall between our spiritual lives and the rest of life.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Our Week In Review – 9/18/2010


Week 3 is not going to do down in the history books as one of our most stellar weeks.  I had headaches all week, making it hard to work with Wild Man the way I’d like to.

Wild Man

History/Geography – We were still reading about the Pacific Islands until Thursday and we never got around to the map activity I had planned.  PWM and Wild Man did read about Australia finally on Friday!  We called watching Top Chef educational this week because it was held in Singapore.  Last night, we ate at Outback since we’re starting to study Australia!  Maybe not truly authentic, but it was a nice meal.

Spelling – This is where we’re having the greatest frustration.  Wild Man seems to have forgotten just about everything he learned last year!  I think that I”m just going to have to go to the beginning of Book 2 again and reteach the information,  but more quickly.  We’ll see how it goes.

Writing – We are now doing stories in IEW.  It took three days to watch the whole video section, but we got through it.  On Thursday, Wild Man started his story (a rewrite of The Boy Who Cried Wolf).  We were going to finish it yesterday, but never got around to it.  (Deep Sigh).

Read Aloud – Since we finished The Island Of The Blue Dolphins so early, we are now reading The 21 Balloons, a book from a previous core that we loved!

Reader – Wild Man is reading quite well and getting his reader read without any complaining or getting behind.  He’s also been reading Dragonspell on his own.  Since he enjoyed Henry Reed, Inc. so much, I got one of the sequels from the library.

Music – Band has been going well.  He’s practicing and keeping a practice log, just like he’s supposed to.  He also tried playing the drum kit at church and really liked it, so he and PWM are going to try to get the basement clean so he can borrow a “real” drum kit.

Math and Bible – going along well with PWM.

Rosie Girl

History – Rosie Girl is studying the early Church, prior to Constantine.  She wrote a rough draft of an essay/report about martyrs.  The good news is that there’s not much content for me to edit – the paper is quite good.  She turns in another rough draft on Wednesday which I’ll edit for punctuation and grammar and then a final draft on Friday.

Literature – She’s still reading The Flames Of Rome and wondered in her journal if Nero had a diagnosable kind of madness. 

Geometry – We’re going in to Week 4 of school and Rosie Girl is 60% done with Geometry.  She’s pretty motivated to keep going.

Community Service – She has been learning to use some music notation software from our Worship Arts Director and is now entering some music for her.

Music – Piano lessons started back and Rosie is practicing diligently.  At her electric guitar lesson, her teacher said that she was the only one who had ever learned everything he had assigned in the week.  She’s borrowing an amplifier to make her practicing easier – our little amp is old and tired!

ACT prep – She got a 27 on her practice ACT reading test.  I think she has a few issues with commas (but don’t we all?).

Bible – Rosie Girl’s reading the rules God gave to the Israelites – and saying that it’s boring.  Yeah, well, it is.  But it’s there for a reason.

That was our week.  I’m making a few changes to try to help things go more smoothly.  The main one is that Wild Man is not going to do any written work like spelling or writing on Wednesdays; by the time we do our couple of hours at the Senior Nutrition Site and Wild Man has his percussion lesson, our day ends up being chopped up and it’s hard to find some uninterrupted time for concentrated work.

I’m praying for fewer headaches next week!  Here’s  a major shout-out to PWM for keeping the house running this last week!  Here’s hoping that I’ll be a little more use in the housekeeping department.

So, how was your week?  Check how others have done at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers!


Friday, September 17, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday – 9/17/2010


Here’s what’s up!

1. This has been a rough week on the headache front.  Earlier today, I used my TENS unit on my neck.  The downside, though, is that the electrodes and tape pull hair from the back of my neck.  Ouch!

2. We went to Outback for dinner tonight.  And we can call it school!  Because we’re studying Australia!  I love their food soooo much – and we got a free dessert that the whole family shared.

3. I’m loving this cooler weather.  PWM and I took a nice, long stroll on Tuesday and enjoyed the coolness.

4. One of the advantages of having my kids take a class at the public school is that they can have school pictures done with the rest of the school.

5. Yesterday, Silver (one of the two gray cats), who is usually MY cat, acted like she wanted to get on my lap by jumping from the piano bench.  I tried to get her to come in front of my chair and jump up on my lap.  Instead, she went and got on Rosie Girl’s lap!  How dare she?!  Yes, I was hurt, but she made up for it later by sitting with me while I read on the sofa.

6. While we were watching the Top Chef finale which was held in Singapore, Wild Man shouted out, “Hey!  Did you see the statue?  The one of the lion just like in the book?”  So, he is paying attention when we read!

7. On Monday, we find out the results of Wild Man’s Vision Therapy testing along with the recommendations for therapy.  I really hope they have something that can help his dyslexia.

Check out 7 Quick Takes Friday to see what others have to say!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Nothing important, just some random stuff . . .

  1. A conversation this morning – Mom: Rosie Girl, I overheard the dust bunnies on the stairs and they’re electing a leader and planning a takeover of the house.  (Rosie Girl is supposed to swiff the stairs every week).  Rosie Girl:  Mom, diplomacy is the answer.  Mom:  Rosie Girl, a Swiffer is the answer!
  2. Wild Man and I are watching Wild Pacific on DVD.  Watching a gecko lick it’s eyeballs is downright disconcerting.
  3. Wednesdays are now reading and DVD/DVR days for Wild Man.  We spend 2 hours at lunchtime at the Senior Nutrition Center and then Wild Man has a percussion lesson at 2:25.  So, we put off the Language Arts activities for other days when we have blocks of concentrated time.
  4. This afternoon, Wild Man and I watched some of Wild Pacific and then curled up on the sofa together to read about Indonesia, ships, and poetry.
  5. I had a pretty significant migraine Monday night and through last night.  I had Wild Man use Spelling City (an online resource that I pay for to get extra features) and Grammar 101 (a free online resource) and well as a Discovery Channel site on Krakatoa.  It worked pretty well and gave me a chance to rest.
  6. Rosie Girl has a cold this week, but still managed to do her tap class and piano lesson this week.
  7. Rosie Girl also had her second electric guitar lesson today and really impressed her teacher with what she has learned!
  8. Wild Man and I are about to watch last week’s Top Chef episode and the final episode.  We’re calling it educational because it takes place in Singapore – and we’re studying the South Pacific.  Yeah, it’s a reach!
  9. And I’m hoping to eat at Outback sometime this week since we’re moving on to study Australia next!

Hope you all have a great day!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Menu Plan Monday – 9/13/2010



Menu planning helps our week go better, even if we don’t completely stick with it.  Just having a plan makes me feel like I’ve got control of the week.

1. Roast with cornbread and shredded & sauteed carrots and kohlrabi – Rosie Girl’s night

2. Meatloaf with fried potatoes

3. Chicken divan

4. Homemade pizza – Wild Man’s night

5. Jambalaya (Zatarain’s mix)

6. Homemade Mac and Cheese

We’ve got salad makings that we can have with any of the meals.  I’m also planning on trying to make a butternut/acorn squash soup sometime later in the week.

Check out what others are planning this week!

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Have you ever noticed how many things in the Bible are unclear or open to interpretation?  The story of Creation seems so simple, but it really isn’t.  We read it through a completely different cultural “lens” than the original readers.  Hence, in the 21st century, we debate which interpretation is correct.  Among Christians, who love Jesus and take the Bible seriously, there are those who believe that the earth is 6000 years old and all creatures were individually created by God and there are those who accept the scientific evidence that the universe is about 15 billion years old and life evolved to it’s current state.  Then, there are those who lie somewhere in between.  But, we share the same faith and the same source of truth.

Right now, there’s some lively debate over at imonk about women’s roles in the church and the home (and, consequently, society).  Complementarians (who believe that women should submit to men in the home and in the church) trot out seemingly unassailable proof texts.  Then, the egalitarians (who believe that men and women are equal and can both hold positions of leadership, including in the home and the church) point out other texts that seem to contradict the complementarian’s verses – and they’re written by the same author in the same book in the Bible!

My goal here isn’t to try to sort out either of these issues, both of which have had reams of paper and huge amounts of computer memory devoted to them.  Rather, I’m curious as to why God didn’t make things more clear.  The Bible is made up of a number of books written in different styles – narrative, poetry, epistles, etc. – and written in different times.  Wouldn’t life have been easier if God had just inspired a textbook of theology?

I think that the reason that the Bible isn’t as clear as we’d like it is to make us learn to work together.  Too often, we allow our biblical interpretations to drive us apart, but we can be united as Christians if we learn to communicate our differences while still loving each other.  It’s kind of like marriage.  Those of us who are married know that marriage requires a lot of work, since we’re so different in many ways.  We often joke that marriage would be easier if husband and wife were the same – but yet it’s the work that brings us closer together.

There is absolute truth – one interpretation is correct.  But, we need to have humility about our interpretations.  As fallible humans, it’s unlikely that any one of us has all of the answers all of the time.  All of us Christians can learn from each other if we will truly listen to those who disagree with us.  Sometimes it’s best to close our mouths and open our ears.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Our Week In Review – Week 2


We’re settling in to our schoolwork routine, although this next week is when we add in piano, dance, youth groups, and martial arts.

Rosie Girl

On Monday, I had a migraine, so Rosie Girl did her Chemistry experiment (the first one of the year) all by herself (because I had a migraine).  And it went well.

Rosie Girl had her first practice ACT portion on Monday.  Unfortunately, she waited until bedtime to do it.  Despite that, she got a 27 for that section (Science reasoning).

Rosie Girl now volunteers at church with our Worship Arts Director on Wednesday afternoon.  This week, she scored some music into a computer program.  After her work was done, she had an electric guitar lesson with another church staff member.

I wanted to take a walk on Thursday afternoon and Rosie Girl agreed to go with me (after I bribed her with the offer of stopping at the coffee shop) since she was tearing her hair out trying to decide a topic for her Write At Home workshop.  While we were at the shop, she suddenly got inspired and had a topic.  Of course, she changed the topic later in the evening, but I’m still taking a little bit of credit for that!

This week, she has a piano lesson on Monday, dance on Tuesday, and youth group on Wednesday.  These are definitely going to impact her week!

The best thing about this week was that Rosie Girl finished all her work by a reasonable time every evening and did a journal entry for the day before bed.  On Friday, she was completely done for the week by 3:30pm.  I told her that either she’s getting more efficient with her work or that she needs more to do.  She assured me that the former is the case!

Wild Man

I told Wild Man that his paragraph for IEW this week had to be serious.  He was rather disappointed, but did a great job, nonetheless.  Because of his dyslexia, he dictates to me and then reads what I’ve typed to make modifications.  So far, it’s working quite well.

We’re still reviewing last year’s spelling.  Wild Man has been using Spelling City with some practice lists that I made for him on the days that I have a migraine.  I’ve been impressed, though, at how many words he is able to write in his journal without asking for help in spelling words.

Wild Man measured the volume of liquids and irregularly shaped solids for his science lesson.  In addition, he’s reading a manga book about electricity.  He actually started that book because he finished his reader a day early.

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We’re still reading The Island of the Blue Dolphin as our read-aloud.  I found a really cool site related to the book that I’ll have Wild Man explore next week.  Otherwise, he’s been learning about the Pacific Islands.  I found a great set of library books (recommended on the Sonlight Forums) called the Enchantment of the World series.  We read part of the book on Papua New Guinea yesterday, and we’ll read about Singapore tomorrow or next week.

Wild Man’s final assignment of the week was to write about something he learned in History/Geography/Read-Aloud.  This time, I let him use comedy as much as he wanted, as long as he included good information.  So, his “paper” was a sailor on an 18th century ship teaching a new sailor how to use a cannon.  Funny and informative!

Next week is looking like it could get a little more busy.  Rosie Girl is going to start with her twice-monthly essays/reports.  Both kids will start youth group.  Wild Man will be starting to learn about Australia while Rosie Girl continues learning about the Early Church (pre-Constantine).

Check out Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers to see what others did this week!

Friday, September 10, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday – 9/10/10



1. It’s 3:30 and Rosie Girl is done with all her schoolwork for the week!  Either she’s getting more efficient or I’m not giving her enough work.  She assures me that it’s the former!

2. Wild Man measured volume with different containers this morning which gave him the idea for a video.  Apparently, we’re going to be treated to some “mad scientist” video later tonight.

3. We ran out of black ink for the printer yesterday.  Our last printer used to start giving us “replace ink” messages a good month or so before we actually had to replace the ink.  And, we could print until it was obvious that the ink was gone – i.e. the words were gray instead of black.  Our current printer is not at all usable until we replace the ink.  The frustrating thing is that I thought for sure that I had bought extra ink a few months ago.  Oh well.

4. Next week is the big week – when piano, dance, and youth groups start back and when Wild Man gets signed up for martial arts.  Our schedule is definitely going to be more busy!

5. We’ve all started using Wii Fit again on a regular basis.  The kids are both using it for their Physical Activity (PE) and PWM and I are back to using it more regularly.  Well, PWM is.  I’m trying to do a little bit of Wii Fit whenever I don’t have a rip-roaring migraine.  In any case, it’s a lot of fun, partly because the rest of the family makes sure to sit and watch the person’s progress – or lack thereof!

6. PWM made faux beignets for breakfast this morning.  He used refrigerated biscuit dough cut into little pieces and deep fried them and coated them in powdered sugar.  Yummy!!

7. Wild Man’s turn to cook dinner tonight – spaghetti!  He still needs a little help, mostly to tell him which spices to use.  Otherwise, he does a great job making the sauce and the pasta!

Check out Jennifer’s blog to see what others are saying!

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Ramblings – 9/9/10

It’s almost 11pm and I’m just sitting around.  Everyone else has gone to bed, but I’m not sleepy yet.  Probably in about 30 minutes, I’ll head upstairs.  I’m just blogging for the heck of it.

I woke up at 6am with a migraine, but it seemed to calm down by about 2pm.  I don’t like migraines (who does?), but waking up with one just seems to doom the whole day.  Surprisingly, though, our day went pretty well.

Rosie Girl and I took a walk to the coffee shop in the afternoon.  She was ready to tear out her hair because she couldn’t come up with a topic for her essay and I just wanted to get out of the house.  It was in the mid-60s and sunny – perfect weather for a walk.  I like just hanging out with my kids.  We talked about all kinds of non-school stuff.  Then, in the coffee shop, Rosie Girl suddenly decided on a topic for her essay.  (She ended up changing it later in the evening, but at least she wasn’t pulling out her hair anymore.  I really don’t want her to be bald!)

Wild Man wrote a paragraph today about George Washington from a keyword outline he had made from the original paragraph.  I was very firm today that he couldn’t make this paper a comedy – it had to be serious.  He did an excellent job.  He would dictate and then I would type.  I would let him read each sentence and tell me what changes he wanted to make.  The IEW writing program has a checklist of “dress-ups” that the student has to use in the paragraph.  Wild Man did an excellent job of incorporating adjectives, adverbs, etc.

Wild Man just came downstairs to ask if he could stay up a little late and finish his reader, Henry Reed, Inc.  I told him it was OK, so he’s over on the sofa reading.  It’s hard for me to be upset about his wanting to read when I used to worry if he would ever be able to read easily and comfortably.

Rosie Girl and I went to a baby shower for a friend last night.  Unfortunately, I got the invitation when I had a migraine, so I mislaid it.  PWM was asked while he was up at church if I was going to be at the shower.  He called me to ask if I got the invitation.  I had, but I didn’t know where it was.  Well, the shower was lots of fun.  Because I’m such a space cadet, I had completely forgotten about getting a gift and it was too late to do it yesterday afternoon.  Besides, I want to knit something.  I’ve finally decided, so I’ll order some yarn in the next few days.

Wild Man just finished his book.  He’s sad because the book is done and it was a good book.  Ah, well, that’s life.  I gave him a book called The Manga Guide To Electricity that I got from the library and it looks like that’s going to interest him.  Apparently, there’s a story line, but it also teaches some about electricity.  And it’s a manga comic book.  All at the same time!  We’ll see how much he decides to read.

I guess I’m done rambling.  Off to bed.  And I’m praying to wake-up without a migraine!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Nehemiah 9

When we last visited Nehemiah, Ezra had read the Law to the people and they celebrated the Feast of Booths.  Now in chapters 9-10, we have the people fasting and confessing their sins.  This last Sunday, our pastor preached a really good sermon on this text.

Here are my thoughts on this section:

1. The people of Israel take their sins seriously and put on sackcloth and ashes.  Now, we know the history of Israel and that they are likely to turn around and start sinning again.  Nonetheless, at this point in time, they are really sorry for their sin.  When I pray, do I truly repent?  Do I really want to turn away from my sin, or is it just empty words?

2. The people pray and confess the sins of the nation (not just their personal sins).  During this confession, though, they are also reminding themselves of God’s faithfulness – how, after every mess-up by Israel, God would bring them back to Himself.  When I remember how faithful God has been in the past, I’m motivated to continue to pray.  It also gets me through the hard times when I don’t feel God’s presence.  I can remember God’s faithfulness in the Bible, but also his faithfulness in my own life.

3. The people then appeal to God for mercy.  After they’ve admitted their own sinfulness and reminded God (and themselves) about God’s favor and faithfulness through the generations, then they approach God for mercy.  The people admit that they deserved all that they’ve gone through, but they know that God has helped them in the ast so they are confident in asking for His help again. 

It’s so easy to get discouraged in prayer.  I feel like my headaches will never go away, my kids will never learn to pick up their dishes, and that I will never be able to follow a menu plan.  I can look back, though, and see that God loved me enough to send Jesus to pay for my sin.  He loves me enough to give me the Holy Spirit who helps me get through each day.  And He loves me enough to give me what I need (strength, patience, etc.) to get through each day.

It’s easy to look at this as a formula kind of prayer.  Just confess and repent of your sins, remember that God has been faithful in the past, and ask for what we need.  1, 2, 3 – and wave a wand around to make the magic work!  But, it doesn’t work that way.  Confession and repentance aren’t just words.  When we confess our sins and vow to turn away from them with the power of the Holy Spirit, something more happens.  The Holy Spirit works in us to make us new creatures.  And when we ask for things, we are asking according to God’s will if we are living in the power of the Holy Spirit.

This chapter of Nehemiah isn’t giving us a mathematical way to make sure that God does things our way.  Rather, it’s a picture of how we can conform ourselves to God’s will.

What interesting things have you noticed from this section of Nehemiah?


Monday, September 06, 2010

Parenting By Fear

You’ve heard the saying “Parenting isn’t for cowards”.  It is so true.  PWM and I want to raise our children in love and not in fear.  What I mean is that we want our parenting decisions to be informed by what is best for our kids and what can bring them closer to Jesus.  We don’t want to parent our kids by always being afraid.

I realized tonight that I still have some of that in me.  I’m afraid that my kids are going to not be good workers.  Why?  Part of it is because they have watched me quit working and go on disability insurance.  I still have times where that makes me feel inadequate.  I’m afraid that my kids will internalize that you can quit hard things when the going gets tough.  Rationally, I know that I didn’t quit medicine because it was hard.  Practicing medicine is always hard, and I enjoyed it partly because of the challenge.  But, I hear about so many kids who haven’t learned to work and who give up quickly that I have developed an (admittedly) irrational fear of my kids being lazy.  So when I have to make a decision about school or house work, I’m not always thinking about what God wants or what is best for the child – I’m often relenting to that fear of my kids not being good workers as adults.

And that’s just one place that it’s easy to parent out of fear.  Rosie Girl is a teenager and has friends with driver’s licenses.  EEK!  Part of me wants to say that she can never go anywhere with a teen driver, but the rational part of me knows that I need to put up some reasonable boundaries, but still let her ride with responsible teen drivers.

I thought that fear-based parenting would be about over by now.  PWM and I have been deliberate about our homeschooling decision not being because we’re afraid of what our kids would experience in school (and, in fact, have required them to each take one public school class for the last two years).  We’ve gotten pretty comfortable letting them take walks or bike rides around town.  Yes, it helps that they have their own cell phones!!  But, as they get older, I find lots of reasons to be afraid for them.

How can I not be a fear-based parent?  The answer, of course, is Jesus.  I need to pray for my kids.  A lot.  And I need to pray for wisdom for me and PWM.  Then, I need to rest in the knowledge that God knows about my kids and loves them even more than I do (if that’s possible).  The book of James tells us to cast our cares on God because He cares for us.  And Jesus himself told us not to be afraid because He has overcome the world.

My kids are not perfect.  They never will be.  And it’s not because of my parenting (although I’m sure it will contribute).  It’s because they are human and we are all sinful.  But the same God who keeps the universe running also knows my kids and I can rest in that.

Menu Plan Monday – 9/6/2010


I didn’t get around to planning menus last week and I really felt it later in the week!  I’ve got a migraine right now, but I know that getting the planning done now will help with how our week goes later.  Here’s what I’m planning for this week.

1. Spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic bread – Wild Man’s cooking night

2. Cheese soup with salad and bread – Rosie Girl’s cooking night

3. Roast beef, rice and gravy, spaghetti squash

4. Chicken Divan

5. Chicken Divan 2

6. Sandwiches

7. Leftovers

Not terribly exciting, but it will help me plan a grocery list!!

Check out Menu Plan Monday to see what others are up to!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Youth Group – Yes or No?

When I was growing up, going to church youth group activities was a normal and expected part of life.  When I was in middle school and the first couple of years of high school, we were part of a small church and most of the youth leaders were volunteers.  We had lots of fun, but also a fair amount of Bible study.  During my last two years of high school, my family attended the much larger First Baptist Church of West Palm Beach.  The youth program there was much larger and they had a full-time youth minister along with college students from Palm Beach Atlantic University helping out.  Youth group was a great social time, and there were a number of kids who attended youth group even though their families weren’t otherwise involved in the church.  This church’s youth group also had a stronger emphasis on Bible Study and missions.  I was part of the youth choir and was part of one mission trip throughout Florida and the next year, a missions trip to the Bronx in New York City.   I remember those years with great fondness, especially the adults who helped me grow in my faith at that time.

Fast forward 20+ years.  As I have read more and more in the online homeschool community, I have found that not everyone supports church youth group programs.  Or they choose not to have  their children participate in them.  It seems that there are two groups of people.  One group is the Family Integrated Church group.  From what I can tell, they believe that churches should be made up of families (often very patriarchal) and all activities should be family-centered and not age-segregated.  Another group, from what I can tell in reading around the web, seems to want to make sure their kids aren’t  negatively influenced by the non-Christian kids that youth group activities will attract.

I have to say I was pretty surprised when I started reading things to this effect.  I had a great youth group experience growing up and have always expected that my kids would enjoy the same thing.  The church that we’re a part of is in the process of hiring a new Youth Minister, and I hope that he can lead a group of people who can have a positive impact on my kids’ lives.

Let me address the issues of the “no youth group” folks and why I disagree with them.  I have some sympathy for those people who are discouraged by so many activities being age-segregated.  In fact, one of the reasons that we homeschool is that we want our kids to be comfortable with people of all ages, not just their peers.  That being said, children are not just little adults – a Bible study targeted to adults may go completely over the head of children and may not have a similar application to teens.  I appreciate the people in our church’s children’s ministry to work so hard to help children learn the Bible through Sunday School and AWANA.

One of the reasons that I want my middle schooler and high schooler to be involved in youth group activities is that I want them to have other adults in their lives and hear the perspective of other adults in Bible study.  PWM and I don’t claim to know everything there is to know about scripture.  Having other adults in the church who are passionate about working with these kids is truly a blessing.  Kids also need other adults in their lives besides their parents – and I think they need to have time with these adults without their parents.  This is part of the normal maturing of adolescents.  They won’t always have Mom and Dad around, and they need to be comfortable talking to these other adults.

Some folks want their kids to avoid youth groups because there may be a large number of unchurched or nonChristian kids there.  I believe that a church that is truly reaching out effectively to the community SHOULD have these kids at youth group!  Not all kids are fortunate enough to be brought up in Christian homes.  A solid youth group may be their only connection to the church (and, subsequently, to Christ) during their teen years.  PWM and I pray that we are teaching our kids to be leaders and that they will be influencing other kids positively – at youth group or in their class at the public school.  They need to be comfortable around kids who aren’t like them – and a youth group is a good place for this.

I can understand some parent’s concerns if the church’s youth group is simply a weeknight party with some extra parties thrown in.  It’s nice to have a “safe” place for kids to hang out, but an effective youth group program is about more than hanging out.  A good youth group is one where the kids who already know Jesus have the chance to learn more and to live out their faith, but also where kids who haven’t yet met Jesus get a chance to see what Christianity is all about.  The adults involved must be passionate about loving Jesus and loving kids.  They also need to be spiritually strong, because a lot of kids today show up at church with lots of baggage (at least, if the kids in my office when I was working are any indication!).

I have no intention of blindly sending my kids off to church for a couple of hours a week so I can get a break (although, the break is nice!).  PWM and I are going ask lots of questions about what the kids do at youth group and are going to make sure we know this new Youth Minister.  But, knowing the team that recruited this guy and knowing (and trusting) the leadership of our church, I’m pretty confident that my kids can have a positive experience with youth group.

What are your thoughts about youth groups?  Have you or your kids had good or bad experiences with them?

Lagniappe – 9/5/2010


1. LSU won last night – barely.  And the other team was missing half it’s starters because of an NCAA investigation into academic misconduct!  Those Tigers need to get things together – quickly.

2. There is a lot of Lego Star Wars playing going on in this house.  Wild Man got the full Lego Star Wars game in the mail this week.  It includes all 6 episodes, not just the first three.

3. PWM read the latest Artemis Fowl book to us this last week.  I love family reading time!

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4. Ice is one of the best non-medication treatments for my migraines.  It makes quite the fashion statement.  (Besides, I figured that if I posted a picture of PWM in Wild Man’s clown stuff, I’d better post some of me looking silly, too!)

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5. Today at church, everyone got clapping on beats 1 & 3 instead of 2 & 4, which is when we usually clap and which sounds better.  I was telling Rosie Girl about it and saying that it made me . . . Rosie Girl supplied “twitchy?”  Exactly.  Clapping on the “wrong” beats makes me “twitchy”.

6. The weather was cool enough today for me to wear a light sweater to church, but not boots.  Unfortunately, the sanctuary was a little chilly and I wished I had worn my Uggs!

7. Lee Strobel is coming to Waupaca High School a week from Saturday and will preach the sermon in our church on Sunday.  Little rural Waupaca!!  Totally exciting stuff!  Please pray that many will be reached by his story.

8. It’s time to start working on Christmas presents.  I’ve gotten most of them figured out – except for my closest family members – PWM, Rosie Girl, and Wild Man!  Ideas?  (Remember, I’m a knitter.)

9. Wild Man stayed overnight at a friend’s house last night.  On the way home from church, I heard all about their gun battles.  He’s such a boy!

10. I got my yarn ball winder and swift (the wooden thing that holds the hanks of yarn while I’m winding) this week.  I wound a couple of balls on the first day and then Wild Man wound several more while PWM was reading one night.

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Ten is a nice, round number, so I’ll stop here.  There’s always more excitement than one family needs around here.  I’m sure I’ll have more later. 

So, what’s up with you?  Comments make me happy!!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Our Week In Review – 9/4/2010


Our first week!!  After a rocky start on Monday, things actually went quite well.  I did have a migraine on Monday and Tuesday and enough of a headache on Wednesday that Wild Man and I did not go to the Nutrition Site.  But, Thursday and Friday were better.  Here’s what happened:

Wild Man

Vision Evaluation – The big thing for Wild Man this week was that he had his appointments for Vision Evaluation.  On Wednesday, they did visual perception testing with the technician.  Thursday morning, Wild Man, PWM, and I were all in the room for his appointment with the eye doctor (well, I showed up late because I had an appointment with my pulmonologist).  It was kind of a good news/bad news situation.  It appears that Wild Man does have some issues with convergence of his eyes which may explain some of his dyslexia issues.  That doesn’t really sound like good news, but it is because it means that vision therapy might help his dyslexia issues!  We get the full report in a week or two and he’ll start therapy if he needs it soon after that.

History/Geography – We aren’t using the World Book and Eastern Hemisphere Explorer with Core 5, but are using DK World Geography.  This week’s reading was all about physical geography and political geography.  We will start reading about the islands of the South Pacific next year.  We also read a fair amount in the book about ships.  He did some of the reading aloud to me and then I read the rest to him.  His reading is downright fluent these days!

I told Wild Man on Friday that he needed to dictate a “paper” to me about something that he learned in History or Geography.  I was expecting 2-3 paragraphs.  Instead, Wild Man spent close to an hour with the ships book, taking notes (quite a feat for a kid with dyslexia!).  When he finally dictated the paper, it was a 2+ page story (that I’ll post later) that was funny, but also included all the info required.

Math – PWM and Wild Man are working on math facts and working through ALEKS.  PWM is learning that Wild Man does better when he drinks some coffee before Math.  Wild Man also learns math better with frequent changes of activity – i.e. ALEKS (computer), playing cards (math facts), ALEKS Quick  Tables, etc.

Bible – PWM and Wild Man are reading The Story, an overview of the whole Bible in 31 chapters, and How To Live Like A Jesus Freak.  After they finish that Jesus Freak book, I’ll probably have them use Jesus Freaks, which is like a modern version of Foxe’s Book Of Martyrs.

Band – Wild Man had only one band class this week, but he practiced his percussion on the other days.

Spelling – Ah, spelling.  We did review work this week and I think we need another review week before we start the new lessons.  I have him using Spelling City, an online program in which I can enter lists of practice words, along with All About Spelling.

Grammar – This week, we worked on parts of speech.  I used an idea that my sister-in-law gave me – Wild Man put post-it notes on 10 different items (nouns), then went around and wrote a verb that relates to the noun on the post-it, and then added an adjective to each post-it.  On Friday, we used Grammar Ace to review adverbs.  Last night, I picked up a few Mad Libs  books to use in the next few weeks for part of speech review.

Writing – Wild Man did one paragraph using Institute for Excellence in Writing.  He remembers how to do the keyword outlines quite well and didn’t have any trouble with adding the dress-ups.  In fact, he not only reproduced the paragraph, but also had me look up some extra info (it was about Andrew Jackson).  The one thing that I’m going to have to implement soon, though, is that Wild Man may not try to make every paper a comedy act!  His goal is to make people laugh – not necessarily a bad thing – but we need to work on some plain, boring writing.

Literature – Wild Man read Henry Reed, Inc. without any trouble.  We also read some poetry and discussed alliteration. 

Journal – I have each kid journaling at the end of the day.  Wild Man has to write two sentences about something he learned.  My favorite for this week: “Feel a little sick after 38 pizza rolls.  School is great.”

Rosie Girl

Bible – Rosie Girl is reading through the Old Testament this year.  I’ve also had her read some from How To Read The Bible For All It’s Worth and How To Read The Bible Book By Book.  She claims that these were boring, but we had some useful discussions during the week.

History – This week was mostly a review of the life of Jesus and the first few years of the Church.  Rosie Girl isn’t a big fan of History, but she read and understood the material.

Math – Rosie Girl started Geometry on Monday with ALEKS.  By Friday, she was almost halfway through the course topics (of course, she was done with about 1/4 of the topics by testing out of them in the assessment).  She really likes Geometry.  She’s also motivated to get her math done.  Not only does she not want to do Math during the summer, but she just has to finish the four Math credits and then she doesn’t have to do any more.  She’d love to not have Math during her Senior year!

Literature – This week, she read Pictures of Hollis Woods and started  The Flames of Rome.

Writing – She’s taking the Essay 1 course through WriteAtHome, and Thursday was her first lesson.

Grammar – The only formal Grammar that she’s  doing this year is to read Eats, Shoots, and Leaves.  She complains, but I think she’s retaining it.

Art – This is her only class at the public school this year and she enjoyed it this week.

Piano – Her piano lessons don’t actually start until week after next, but she is practicing daily.  She’s currently working on Bach’s Invention #4.  I signed her up for the Arranging and Composing class at Lawrence Academy, but I haven’t heard if they’re going to have the class this fall.

Community Service – Since Rosie Girl’s Art class is around lunchtime, she’s not able to go to the Nutrition Site with me and Wild Man.  Instead, she is going up to church to help the Worship Director.  Some of her work is “scut” work – filing, etc.  But, she will probably also be able to do some work that requires some musical knowledge, such as transposing music and entering music into the computer program.  She’s also going to be spending some time before or after her Community Service time learning to play electric guitar with the guy who does the Sunday Night music.  In fact, PWM borrowed an electric guitar and Rosie Girl has been spending the last couple of hours today learning to play it.

Chemistry – Rosie Girl did just fine with Chapter 1 of Singapore Chemistry.  The MicroChem set came on Friday, so I need to schedule the labs.

Journal – Rosie Girl is supposed to journal 2 sentences each for Bible, History, and Literature.  Here are a few samples: “Alexander the Great conquered most of the known world.  Rome ruled it.”  “Thirty-three years of a man’s life condensed into 4 pages.  That takes skill.”  “So, the age of apostles is upon us.  Prepare for stories of gruesome death.”

That was our week.  The only things that will change in the next few weeks are that Rosie Girl will do a practice ACT section every Monday.  In two weeks, I’ll have her writing a paper on History or Literature every two weeks.  And, I always reserve the right to change things as needed!

And, to make me really nervous, we’re planning a trip to see UW-Stevens Point later this fall since that’s where Rosie Girl thinks she wants to go to college.  Yikes!!  Where did the time go?!

Check out Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers  to see what others have been up to this week!

Friday, September 03, 2010

7 Quick Takes Friday – Book Edition – 9/3/2010



For today’s post, I’m going to give you a little insight into my life by telling you about some of the books I’m reading and that the family’s reading.  Besides, I haven’t done book reviews in a while!

1. Eats, Shoots, and Leaves by Lynne Truss.  I read this several years ago, but I’ve assigned it to Rosie Girl as her grammar text.  It will only take her a couple of weeks to read since it’s short.  I loved it – it was funny and informative – but Rosie Girl isn’t very thrilled about it.  Ah, well, she’s a teenager! A

2. Artemis Fowl and the Atlantis Complex by Eoin Colfer.  This has been our family read-aloud for the last week or so.  It follows Artemis and his friends dealing with yet another threat to the fairy people.  We love Colfer’s humor.  The one thing we’re not crazy about is his hyper-environmentalism, but it gives us a chance to talk about appropriate care for God’s creation. A

3. The Septimus Heap books – Magick and Flyte – by Angie Sage.   We read these books as a family right before the Artemis Fowl book.  Ms. Sage has created a rich, magical world that feels like Medieval Europe, along with fascinating and well-rounded characters.  Wild Man and I are both listening to the next set of books on our mp3 players, while Rosie Girl has read them before. A

4. Lord Foulgrin’s Letters by Randy Alcorn.  This book was modeled on C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters.  Honestly, I prefer Lewis’ take on things.  In Lord Foulgrin’s Letters, the author includes the letters from his fictional demon, but also has short chapters about the life of the “subject”.  I think part of what I didn’t like about this book is that it was so blatant about all of the evangelical “hot button” issues – the characters have to deal with abortion, p*rn, satanic ritual, etc.  Everything was also very “spelled out” in this book where Lewis left far more to our imaginations.  Everything felt very stereotyped.  Not a bad book, but definitely not up to the level of the original. B-

5. Escaping The Endless Adolescence by Joseph Allen and Claudia Allen.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough to parents.  Most of us realize that adolescence is lengthening – children are growing into adolescents before they’re ready and young adults are still behaving like adolescents when they should be adults.  As a parent of a teen and a pre-teen, I want to know what I can do (if anything) to help prepare my kids to be adults and not to act like a teenager forever.  The authors assert that our teens today need REAL exposure to the adult world instead of being always stuck in the “teenage bubble”.  Teens know that they need good grades for college, but that’s such a vague and faraway goal, that it’s hard to keep in sight.  In contrast, being involved in activities that are part of the adult world and that really make a difference – volunteering or working at a “real” job – gives kids the immediate feedback that they need.  You really need to read the book.  I was encouraged that a lot of what we do naturally as homeschoolers is what they recommend.  A+

6. The Red Queen by Phillipa Gregory.  This book is a historical novel about Margaret, the mother of Henry the Second, in contrast to her last book about Elizabeth Woodville.  Not only is it just an interesting read, but it’s a great history lesson about the Wars of the Roses.  B

7. The Pillars Of The Earth by Ken Follett.  I listened to this on audiobook and enjoyed it, despite the length.  It’s the story of the building of a cathedral in 12th century England.  There’s plenty of sex and violence, so it’s not for the faint of heart or children.  Nonetheless, I really enjoyed the book.  I also watched the mini-series on Netflix, but it was more graphic than I would have liked and it ended about halfway through the book.  I wonder if they have more episodes planned.  B+

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

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The New School Year

Yesterday (Monday) was the start of the 2010-2011 school year around here.  (Actually, the public schools start tomorrow, but  I don’t like to schedule partial weeks, so we started early and the kids will have extra time off at Thanksgiving and Christmas.)  Unfortunately, yesterday was also the start of a major weather system coming through.  I slept till noon yesterday, which I now think was part of the migraine prodrome.  By 4pm, the migraine had hit full force.  And it’s still going on.  Talk about bad timing.

Wild Man is doing pretty well.  We can’t find one of the books we’re supposed to be reading aloud together, so that may get skipped.  However, he and PWM have done Math and Bible and even did some History reading this morning.  Since I wasn’t up to doing any History or Science reading to Wild Man today, we watched a couple of Netflix shows.  Wild Man did a keyword outline of a paragraph for writing today (with Institute for Excellence in Writing) which was very encouraging for me that he could do it with minimal input from me.  I also have him writing a couple of sentences in a journal at the end of the day.  PWM or I help him with the spelling, but Wild Man decides what to write.  Yesterday’s entry: “Today I learned about nouns, verbs, and adjectives.  Mom had me do fun activities around the house.  Now I know more about parts of speech.”  Not ready for a Pulitzer yet, but it was completely his own.  (BTW, the activity to which he refers is an idea that my sister-in-law gave me.  I had Wild Man put Post-It notes on 10 different “nouns”.  Then, he went around and wrote a verb that could be associated with each noun and then an adjective.  Wild Man loved it!)

Rosie Girl works generally independently, but I am trying to keep an eye on things so that she doesn’t get behind.  Yesterday started well, particularly with her Math assessment.  She’s doing Geometry this year and actually really enjoys it.  She needs to master 4 topics each week to finish Geometry on time this year.  Today, she completed 7 topics.  I’ve told her that she can move ahead and get all her Math done in less than four years if she wants.  She has no interest in Math beyond Trigonometry (and is only going that far because we’re requiring four full years), so I’m happy to let her stop when she finishes the requirements for Trig.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the way yesterday, Rosie Girl got very emotional, making the evening more difficult.  Nonetheless, she finished everything that was assigned.  Today, she and PWM went shopping and to register for dance, but Rosie Girl got everything done before she went to bed.  I also have her journaling every day since I don’t have her doing comprehension questions.  She has to write a couple of sentences each for History, Literature, and Bible.  In a few weeks, I’ll have her writing some papers, so I hope the journaling will help her remember key points when she has to write.

Rosie Girl also started Chemistry this week.  I haven’t gotten her lab set yet (it’s on the way), but the Singapore Chemistry looks pretty rigorous.  When she’s done with this, she’ll have a good handle on how to understand data, which will help on the Science section of the ACT.  She’s also hoping that she can do Chemistry experiments that make pretty colors!

Wow.  After writing all this down, it’s obvious that things are going a little better than I had thought.  I won’t take any pictures of the kitchen, though!  That’s a disaster that needs to wait till my head feels better!

So, any homeschoolers out there – have you started yet?  How is your year going?