Monday, February 27, 2012


Mondays are our days off around here.  When I was working in medicine, we generally looked forward to the weekend unless I was on call on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.  Otherwise, we looked forward to the day after I was on call (because I was off after I was done finishing up everything from the night before).  With the yarn shop, though, we don’t have a full weekend free.  Not only is the shop open from 10-3 on Saturday, but we schedule classes for Friday night, Saturday morning, and Saturday afternoon.  Sundays are often pretty busy, too, because Wild Man has to be at church early to help out with Children’s Ministry in both services and PWM often plays bass guitar in both services, and then Wild Man has Youth Band practice most Sunday afternoons.  Rosie Girl often works weekends as well.

By the time we get to Monday, we are often a tired family, so Monday is our day off.  The kids still have to go to their public school classes, but we otherwise try to just relax and do some things around the house.  If I had a weekend without migraines, then I quite often do some laundry and house cleaning.  If not, I don’t get much housework done.  PWM likes to get to the basement to work on his lathe when he can, but sometimes Mondays become errand days.  And if it’s been a busy week and weekend, we sometimes spend a lot of time just reading and watching movies and relaxing.  We need Mondays.

A couple of weeks ago, the public school had a teacher’s workday, so we decided to take a day trip to MagiQuest in Wisconsin Dells.  My brother and his family had gone to a MagiQuest in another part of the country and really enjoyed it, so they gave Wild Man and Rosie Girl money for admission and wands for Christmas.  The trip was a great success!  We purchased our wands and got started on our adventures to find different things.  We would get clues and then point our wands at items when we found them.  The wand would remember what we found, and tell us when we finished a quest.  The hardest thing was that the activities were spread among four stories!!  We were running up and down stairs like crazy people!  I gave out before the end and found a corner to rest and knit, but PWM, Wild Man, and Rosie Girl pooled their resources and beat the dragon!!  It was one of our better Mondays!


While the rest of the country dreads Monday because it’s the start of the workweek, we look forward to Mondays and some rest.  Tuesdays, on the other hand . . . .

What are Mondays like for you?

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Our Week In Review–February 25, 2012


Yes, indeed, we are still homeschooling.  As life goes on, our homeschooling becomes more relaxed, and I’m more amazed at what the kids are learning.  This last week, I think we got a little too relaxed with Wild Man, so I need to add a little more structure to his life.  And Rosie Girl got a little off schedule, so she’s going to have to get back onto her schedule that’s already been planned out, but I think they’ll be fine.  The short version is that the kids are getting educated.  The long version is:

Wild Man

  • Social Science – This is where we are the most relaxed.  I’ve had him watch some videos about Mesopotamia and Sumerian culture and then look at some websites.  We did the same thing, but in more depth with Egypt.  In the last couple of weeks, we’ve repeated this with Ancient Greece and next week we’ll start Ancient Rome.  When Wild Man starts learning about a culture, he often goes back to Weapon and Warrior that he used last semester to look up some of the thing he learned about then.  I want to do a quick overview of the major cultures up to the time of Christ by the end of the year.
  • Reading – He finished Hittite Warrior this week.  I’m finding that he reads one chapter a day unless I assign more, so I’m going to need to be proactive on his reading assignments.
  • Writing – This is so frustrating for us.  Wild Man has great oral communication skills, but he has a hard time translating that to written/typed communication.  I told him to write a paragraph on any subject he wanted 2 weeks ago and gave him two days to complete the assignment.  In one day, he researched and did probably three paragraphs worth of information into a Power Point presentation.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t a paragraph with the topic sentence and supporting sentences that we had discussed.  I was really pleased with his ability to research and do Power Point, so I wasn’t very negative about it at the time.  However, next week, I am going to go back to basics and have him copy a paragraph so we can then move on to writing a paragraph and not get sidetracked with bells and whistles.
  • Spelling – Wild Man enjoys Spelling Power more than All About Spelling, but I find that it’s good to also have him use the online SpellingCity (we paid for the premium version) for added review.  I was quite concerned that the Spelling Power would “let him off the hook” if he spelled a word correctly and then he wouldn’t see it again until the review a week or so later.  By having him review on SpellingCity as well, he sees whether he really does know the word.  I understand, though, that he likes that All About Spelling moves along faster.
  • Bible – Wild Man is happy with his reading through the Bible and writing about what he read.  The only problem I’m having is that he wants to give me a complete one page summary of what he read when all I want for his journal is 2 sentences about what he read – something he thought was interesting or something he learned.  He’s having to learn to read and then interpret and not just summarize.  Definitely a higher-order skill.  I know he can do it, but now he also has to write it.
  • Math – He is doing math facts and fractions with PWM several mornings a week.  When he goes up to the shop with PWM in the morning, he also gets the register ready and counts the money, etc., so he’s learning some real world math skills as well.
  • Music – Oh, so much music in this house!!  Wild Man played at Solo and Ensemble today.  He got a “2” on his timpani solo and on  the mixed percussion ensemble – Yippee!!!  He’s been spending a lot of time after school practicing by himself and with the other percussionists.  He’s also been staying after occasionally to help with music department fundraisers.  The church youth band has now been split into middle school and high school bands, so Wild Man is the middle school band leader.  He plays drums and percussion most of the time, although bass guitar occasionally.  He’s also getting some voice lessons to help with his leading skills because his voice is changing so he’s not quite sure sometimes which octave to choose when he’s singing.  And, at home, he’s playing acoustic and bass guitar for hours on end!!  I’m not complaining – except when I want him to do his other schoolwork or chores, of course!!
  • Life skills (AKA chores) – I’ve been having the kids cook one meal each week.  Wild Man is relatively adventurous when it comes to cooking.  One week, he made a Cajun Chicken pasta dish from the Food Network site.  Other times, it’s spaghetti.  Being an extrovert, Wild Man is also very active in the Children’s Ministry at church.  He has to be there at about 7am on Sunday morning to get everything together and he helps run things in both Sunday services.  Once a month, the Wednesday night Children’s activity night is Family Night, so Wild Man does that instead of his usual Junior High group.  Yeah, he’s never met a microphone that he doesn’t like!!

Rosie Girl

  • Social Science – Rosie Girl is studying 20th century history this year, which is interesting because PWM and I have actually lived through some of it.  Rosie Girl has been studying some of the events of the 70s, so we’ve had some interesting discussions.
  • Literature – Her reader this week is The Old Man And The Sea.  I haven’t read any Hemingway, although I did try a few years ago and just didn’t find it to my liking, but since I grew up in South Florida, I heard a lot about “Papa” and his life in Key West.  I’ll be interested to hear what Rosie Girl thinks about the book.  (And I realize that not having read Hemingway makes me a completely uneducated clod.  Especially since I was appalled that there are people in this country who don’t know where the fertile crescent is!  Alas.  Maybe I’ll read it when Rosie Girl is done and my life will be complete.)
  • Writing – Rosie Girl is taking a research paper workshop through WriteAtHome, an online company that provides writing classes and workshops for homeschooled students.  We’ve had great success with all of her previous classes except the research paper workshop.  So, she’s doing it again.  The issue is that she never really understood the process for doing the research, making source cards, making research information cards, and then writing the paper from the information cards.  Rosie Girl writes quite well, but we’ve had a stressful week with her struggling to master this new set of skills and finish the first draft on time.  But, it’s done and sent in!!
  • Bible – I love to read Rosie Girl’s take on Paul’s epistles.  She comes at them very straightforward and isn’t afraid to give her opinion!
  • Math – She’s working her way through Algebra 2 and hoping to finish by summer, otherwise she’ll be doing math during the summer!
  • Japanese – She’s about halfway through her Japanese semester.  I’d like her to be done by summer and start the next one during the summer so she can be done well before the end of her senior year.  In any case, we’ve been happy with doing these courses through BYU. 
  • Music – More music . . . . She’s still taking her piano lessons at Lawrence, which include some intense music theory, even though she’s not taking the music theory class.  She’s also been playing her guitar a good bit.  I haven’t heard her clarinet or ocarina much lately, but she’s been pretty busy.  She will be playing ocarina for the Good Friday service.  She is arranging some Lord of the Rings music for her guitar.  She’s an introvert and more of a behind the scenes music person.  She also tends to turn to music when she’s stressed or doesn’t want to do schoolwork. 
  • Life Skills (AKA chores) – When I ask what she wants to cook each week, her answer tends to be along the lines of whatever is easiest.  I don’t think she’s going to be our gourmet cook.  But I’m really glad she has her driver’s license because she’s been driving Wild Man to church for all of his activities and not been fussing about it.

Don’t expect quite such a novel every week, but I figured I’d catch you up since I hadn’t blogged on our homeschooling in so long. 

Check out Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers to see what others are up to!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday–February 24, 2012

We’ve made it to the end of yet another week!!  Here’s some of what’s going on around here.

  1. Our local library is putting on a yarncraft show, and The Knitting Nest, as the local yarn shop, has an exhibit.  I put together a “science-fair-type” board with information about different knitting techniques and then displayed on the tables lots of projects and books with those techniques.  I was only at the exhibit for an hour today, but I’ll be there most of tomorrow.
  2. Wild Man has Solo and Ensemble tomorrow.  He will be playing a Timpani solo and also participating in a mixed percussion ensemble.  PWM and I have to be here in town, one of us to keep the shop open and the other for the library exhibit, so we won’t be able to hear it – bummer.
  3. Rosie Girl got a short tutorial today on spinning with a drop spindle from a friend who was doing a spinning exhibit at the library yarncraft show.  Rosie Girl has a drop spindle of her own as well as some blue roving (wool), so maybe this will inspire her to try working with it again.
  4. We are getting a real phone again!  We were so proud of how “techno” we were a few years ago when we went to having cell phones for each member of the family.  And it has worked out reasonably well except for one “little” problem.  The kids don’t keep their phones on.  When PWM or I call them and we don’t get an answer when they’re supposed to be at home, we don’t know if their phones or off if they’ve been abducted.  There’s a bit of a difference.  PWM found out that we will actually pay less by adding a phone line to our cable service (something about the cable company owning the phone lines or something . . . ) so the installers came out today.  Wild Man and I could not find the phone jack despite 15 minutes of looking (and creating quite a mess), so they tied the phone into the cable.  So, back to the future we go . . .
  5. Rosie Girl decided to write her research paper on how Howard Shore’s score for The Lord of the Rings is the best score in modern cinematic history.  This, of course, means that she’s had to watch the trilogy and appendices multiple times in the last few weeks.  And PWM and I have had to support her in this endeavor. 
  6. So, I’ve been watching Downton Abbey with the rest of the country.  Rosie Girl teases me about it – and then sits and watches it with me.  And then I tease her.
  7. On Monday, I had three errands to do: get my blood drawn, pick up medicine from the pharmacy, and stop by the accountant office to sign papers.  I did the first two, but managed to forget the third.  And I didn’t remember it until later that night.  I ended up with a headache on Tuesday, so PWM drove me to the accountant Tuesday evening for me to sign my name twice for the tax papers to be done. 

So, what has your week been like?  Anything interesting?

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

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mardi Gras

I spent nine years living in Louisiana after high school – five years in Baton Rouge at LSU for college and four years in New Orleans at Tulane Medical School.  PWM and I moved from New Orleans to Kentucky after I graduated in 1994 and then in 1997 from Kentucky to Wisconsin.  So, it’s been 18 years since I lived in Louisiana, but I still miss Mardi Gras.  Of course, when I first started at LSU, I thought it was kind of strange to have a couple of days off in the spring for Mardi Gras, but I got used to it pretty quickly.  I didn’t spend Mardi Gras in New Orleans until I lived there in medical school, and I never spent it in the French Quarter – not my style.

But, I loved the parades, even (and perhaps, even, mostly) the Baton Rouge parades.  After PWM and I married, we were just a couple of blocks off the Metarie parade route, so we saw several of those, except for the year when I had my appendix out a few days before Mardi Gras (but that’s a story for another day).  I loved the beads, all the cups, the bands, the floats, almost everything.  I wasn’t crazy about the half-dressed little girls strutting down the street – really, why do you need do dress up your six year old like an exotic dancer?  But, we always had plenty of plastic cups!  Every year, right when winter was getting so dreary, we had a couple of weeks of Mardi Gras madness to lighten things up.

I’ve lived up here for the last 18 years and I still think of Mardi Gras every spring.  Having TV, the internet, and Facebook certainly makes it easy when I see all my friends posting about parades, etc.  But, the dreariness of winter up here also makes me think about Mardi Gras.  By the middle of February and certainly by March, we’re ready for something besides the short, cold days of winter (even mild winters like this year).  This year, we were planning to go to a Mardi Gras event put on by Wega Arts and we were invited to a Mardi Gras party the same night hosted by a friend of mine from college (she lives a couple of hours away, but it certainly would have been feasible), but we didn’t get to go to either event because I had a terrible migraine.  I was really bummed because the local event was catered by a Cajun restaurant just an hour away from here that we hadn’t heard of before; I think we’ll by trying out their cuisine soon!  The Knitting Nest had a Mardi Gras themed window for a couple of weeks as well, although I hope I do better planning next year and get a little more creative.  In any case, I’m trying to remember a little bit of Louisiana here in Wisconsin.

Happy Mardi Gras everyone!  Laissez Les Bon Tons Roullez!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Raising Good Kids

I’ve got good kids.  They generally do what I ask them to do without fussing.  They each cook one meal a week.  They take care of their own laundry.  They don’t argue with each other too often.


I used to think that having good kids was the goal of child rearing.  When they left the house at age 18, if they well-mannered, didn’t do drugs, didn’t drink, were virgins, and were off to college or a decent job, then PWM and I had done a good job.  Right?


I don’t think so.  Don’t get me wrong – I think raising good kids is a great thing.  I don’t regret that we could take our kids to restaurants and not have leave a trail of destruction behind us.  I love that my kids know how to be helpful and useful.  But, that’s all secondary stuff.  Sure, it will make them useful in society.  But it’s not the main thing.


My primary job as a parent is to teach my children about Jesus.  Hopefully, through all the day to day teaching of reading, writing, math, manners, etc., PWM and I have also managed to teach our kids that Jesus loves them and that grace is available to them.  I want them to know that actions have consequences in the real world, but that God gives us grace even when we screw up in big, bad ways.


This is harder to balance than I realized.  When one of the kids makes a mistake, there must be consequences.  That’s life here on this fallen planet Earth.  Yet God is different.  He gives us second, third, up to a zillionth chances.  No matter how much I disappoint God, He’s always there.  I want my children to go out into the big world understanding the reality of earthly life but also knowing, even if just a tiny bit, the immensity of God’s grace.


We’ll see how it goes.  I’ve got a few more years left with them.



Sunday, February 19, 2012

Life Sucks But God Is Good

Also known as John 16:33 “In this world you will have trouble, but, take heart, I have overcome the world.”

I haven’t written much lately.  You might have noticed.  Or not.  But that’s OK, since I don’t write this blog to get rich or famous.  But, lest you think that I haven’t been writing because I’ve been out getting rich and famous elsewhere, let me disabuse you of that notion.  I have not.

In fact, the beginning of 2012 has been pretty icky.

I’ve had a headache pretty much all the time.  How is that different from usual, you may ask?  Ummmm, it’s not really.  It’s just that for some reason, in January 2012, my mind and body have decided to stage a full-scale rebellion.  The all-the-time headache has been worse.

And I’ve been more depressed.  The cry-at-the-drop-of-a-hat kind of depressed.  (Although why people would drop hats is kind of beyond me . . . )  And sit in my rocking chair and stare at nothing kind of depressed.

All of this while I’ve been on medication for depression.  Because people with chronic pain tend to get depressed – big surprise.

I emailed (I love technology) my doctor to ask about increasing my dose of citalopram like we did last winter, but it turns out that the FDA has decided sometime in the last year that we shouldn’t go above my current dose of citalopram.  Bummer.  But, my doctor and I were already talking about changing from cyclobenzaprine to amitryptilyne (I have no clue if that is spelled right – and I used to be such a spelling psycho) because of my insurance company.  When all was said and done, I stayed on the citalopram dose and started the unspellable medication and stopped the cyclobenzaprine.

Did anything get better?  Does life still suck?

My head still hurts, but my mood seems to be a bit better and I don’t cry nearly as much.  In fact, we went on a family outing to MagiQuest (more on that in another post) on Monday and I even had fun!

But, I had two wicked awful migraines this week, both of which would have usually sent me to the ER for medications.  I have figured out, though, how to use my home medications and hang on through the migraine to avoid the trips to the ER, which aren’t fun anyway.


So, life still sucks . . . . so how do I know that God is good?

I ask myself that sometimes.  As I’m leaning over the bucket vomiting (lovely image, I know), I ask where is Jesus?  What is the point?

And a lot of times, I just don’t know.  All I know is that Jesus said “Take heart, I have overcome the world.”

But other times, I see glimpses of Jesus in my sweet children and husband.  I watch the snowfall and thank God for His creation.

But mostly I just hang on to the fact that I know that God is good and that He loves me.


John 16:33