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Wherein you will find posts with humor, photos, reviews, occasional rants and journalistic entries of interest to me alone but that I hope will touch you, the reader, in some way. I remain sincerely yours,
A Work in Progress

Monday, November 23, 2009

Nostalgia


Last night, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas was on.  I stumbled upon it flipping channels and called the kids and Mike.  And we kind of watched it and I got a little sad.  Knowing that we could watch it on dvd or in any number of repeated airings made it lose something.  And I wasn't sure exactly, what.

When I was little, in the dinosaur age, these shows aired once a year.  It was circa dark ages when there were no laser discs, no beta maxes, no vhs, and years prior to cable tv.    There was anticipation and tradition in the annual Christmas tv viewing.  We poured over the TV Guide, gleefully circling the dates and times of our favorites.  Those Holiday specials only came on once and this made them an EVENT. 
A getting into your pj's, making Jiffy Pop, getting to stay up later, butterflies in your stomach, special evening.


Many of my very favorite Christmas memories were from the Rankin and Bass's productions of The Little Drummer Boy, The Year Without a Santa Claus, and Santa Claus is Coming to Town.
Who can forget the delight of Heat Miser and Snow Miser's song and dance routines?  Or scary thrills of the Winter Warlock as the legend of Santa Claus came to life?  I remember sitting on the floor of my parents bedroom, back against the dresser with my knees up to hide behind when the Bumble came on the screen during Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  We looked forward to laughing at the poignant and wonderful, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and singing along to "You're a Mean One, Mister Grinch" and loving "Frosty the Snowman."
Each one was treasured anew year after year.  They were special.

I try to make them special still.  The huge bag of Christmas movies and books only come out of the attic the day after Thanksgiving.  Our family has a tradition of watching Chevy Chase's, "Christmas Vacation" on Thanksgiving Day.   During Advent I even schedule certain movies to watch on certain days when we do homemade gifts or cookies or decorate the tree.  And I know they look forward to it.

But it just isn't the same.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It's a God Thing

Life as a homeschooling Mom can be a little solitary.  Sometimes, though you know millions of others are homeschooling and parenting, you feel utterly alone.  And we persevere, committed to this way of life for the glory of the One who has called us into this service.

I have been richly blessed to know many other homeschooling Moms and to count some of these wonderful women as my friends.  And their friendship means a great deal even though we rarely if ever see each other, or talk for that matter, we are all aware that we keep each other in prayer.  And I love them for it.

But I have this one friend with an almost twin-like ability to pick up the phone exactly when we need to talk about the exact same thing.  It is, quite literally, a God thing.  And He has caused it to happen time and time again. 

He knows all our joys, all our struggles, all our failures and inadequacies and He knows how incredibly alike we are.  He loves us so much that when we are feeling particularly challenged in parenting and homeschooling, the phone rings and we find exactly what we need on the other end.  A sister in Christ with whom we can share it all.  Every bright spot, every ugly moment, every struggle, every hurdle crossed.  With whom we can confess our failures and sins and share our hopes and dreams.  I can bare my soul and admit I have had to let go of things that we had been so committed to doing only to find out that she is in the same boat with me.  With her I can troubleshoot, think aloud, cry, laugh, plan and confirm.  Our hearts go out to each other in love and we realize again that God knew exactly who we needed.  Again.  And we are bailing together.  And we are not, so very not, alone.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Goodbye Dunkin Donuts?

This morning I was up at 5am getting ready to go to a CBD warehouse sale.  I got dressed, poured a cup of coffee, checked my email and Facebook then woke up Rowan to come along.  As we have a ritual of stopping at the Dunkin Donuts at the Sagamore bridge, I didn't worry about a 2nd cup or travel mug and down the driveway we went in the rain to wait for our ride.
Off we go in the pouring rain, in the pitch dark to that icon of morning cheer, Dunkin Donuts.  So in we go and I order Rowan and I breakfast and a black coffee for me.  (Carbs are all important to stamina in the hunt for bargains)  We stand in line waiting for our sandwiches and all of a sudden, I smell it.  That ubiquitous miasma that emanates from young men these days, Axe.  It is purported to be a bodyspray/deodorant but it isn't.  It is a good idea gone horribly, horribly wrong.  The commercial shows women swooning at the feet of the men who cavalierly spray it on but what it neglects to tell you is that they swoon because it is toxic waste made aerosol.

I lean forward and whisper to Rowan, "the guy in front of us is wearing Axe, it is choking me!"  She agrees and we try not to breathe until he gets his sandwich and leaves.  Thankfully grabbing our we head for the car and blessed fresh air.   

Buckling up, all I can smell is the damn Axe!  It is in my nostrils and as I open my coffee and bring it to my mouth it gets worse!  My coffee smells like Axe!!!!  The cup and lid smell like Axe!!!  Not my coffee!!  It hadn't been the guy in front of us, it was that teenage cretin who was making the orders!

I go back in holding it out away from my face and I ask the girl at the counter if someone who has not bathed in cologne this morning could possibly pour me a new coffee.  Puzzled, she does so and off we go but I can't drink it.  All I can smell is Axe. 

Could this have ruined Dunkin Donuts coffee for me forever?  I am afraid to find out.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Update on Trama and Drama


We are home, safe and sound.  Rowan was very brave and I am so proud of her.  There was the nicest nurse named Ann who tried hard to alleviate her fears prior to the procedure.  It went really well and we should have the biopsy results in a little over a week. She has three stitches in it and we go back the 23rd to get them out. Phew!  Another hurdle in Rowan's medical mysteries over and done.

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Trauma and Drama

Rowan has known for a couple of weeks that we are going back to Dr. Barnett today.  Dr. Barnett specifically asked me to describe the procedure to her so that she knew what was happening.  Which, being nobody's fool, I avoided until last night.
We were all hanging out watching Ace of Cakes and I realize I am out of time and have to tell her.  So I gently and lovingly described the procedure.  The problem is, no matter how carefully you phrase it, words like "stitches" and "numb you first" never go over well with Rowan.
The expected freak out and cries of "I am not going" went on for a bit until she settled down in high dudgeon. (I looked it up, it was perfect, " a feeling of intense indignation")

I can't blame her, it won't be fun.  But I have a sneaking suspicion we are in for more trauma and drama when she wakes up.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why are Errands Never Simple Anymore?

My memory is not the fine tuned instrument it once may have been.
Recently, when I have more than one errand, I inevitably forget one or more of them.
I have a methodology for my errands, it should be simple.  I make a list.  I do all the stops on the right going uptown and all the stops on the left heading home.  In this manner, I never have to try to cross traffic.  In theory.
I make my grocery list by aisle so I don't forget anything.  Except the grocery list.  Then I find myself with an over-budget grocery cart, in aisle 3 of 16.
I have to go to the post office to mail my Netflix movies back because the mailman already came to our box and I want the next movies faster. And I forget to buy the stamps I reminded myself to pick up after I forgot them at the grocery store, because I forgot my list.
So I get down to the Feed and Grain store and go in to get cat-food, only to get home and remember I also needed bird food and a bale of hay.  Because I forgot my list.
I do manage to get to the library to pick up some items on hold, but forgot their new times and they are closed.  And now I have to cross traffic to get back where I was heading in the first place.
In fits and starts, false leads and backtracking, I get home with bags and bundles and bales.  Only to realize I had forgotten to change out of my slippers when I went out.
Oh well, maybe people will just think I am eccentric.

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Is it Me? (Again)

                                                                Is there a point to dances in elementary school and middle school?

In the younger years, why would you take 2 opposite species and expect them to obey social graces?  Don't boys have cooties at that age?  I can't think of a single member of the opposite sex that would have known how to handle themselves at a dance at that age. Can you give me a valid and thoughtful answer to this question; for what earthly reason would we want children to emulate a relationship for which they won't be emotionally, morally or physically ready for years to come?  It makes no sense to me..  And I do not believe it to be either cute or harmless.

As for middle school, in what realm of sane is putting 2 groups of the opposite sex with raging hormones, a complete inability to relate to each other and massive height differentials on the girls side anyone's idea of a good time?  Half of them still demonstrate liking someone by hitting them and the other half are precociously hyper-sexual. Neither situation says "have a great time!"

I understand high school dances, though even then they behave more like pack animals.  Each pack's alpha pair, circling the other packs, looking for an opening.  The mated pairs smoothly circling in an elegant dance no other pack member can hope to emulate while the single juveniles roam hopefully around the outskirts of the venue hoping they aren't savaged and chased off.  But I digress.

The point is, I do not think that elementary and middle school dances are a good idea.  While the reality may be that a group of boys and a group of girls stand around aimlessly while punch is served and music is played, the notion of a "dance" implies a boy/girl interaction.  And they all know it.  They are socially induced, artificial constructs for relationships that should NOT exist at those ages.   This isn't High School Musical or Rydell High.   Not cute and not harmless.  Just my .02

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Seems a Bit Early

But here it is, the annual fall illness, round one.
Jenna was felled first with a 103 temp, horrid headache and weird blisters in the back of her very sore throat.  I wouldn't normally take her to the Dr. but the throat threw me.  As we were heading in to have Ro's foot looked at anyway, I made her an appointment.  In the meantime, off to the store for gallons of Polar Ginger Ale and Popsicles. My frustration at the constantly reading either low or high fancy thermometer was alleviated by my new regular old, reliable, mercury thermometer.  Hurray!
Off we go, the poor thing is wrapped up in a blanket, semicomatose, and strapped in the car.  Crutches stowed in the back, Rowan is ready to go.  We get there and I send Rowan in, no intention of having the sick one in the waiting room.  A friend is there and texts us when Rowan goes in.  It gets dark and chilly while Jenna dozes in the back seat and I play Jewel Lust on my phone.  Eventually, the nurse comes out to the car and I carry Jenny in.  At this point Rowan still had not been seen and is panicking over the suture kit that had been placed for the Dr. to use as needed.
Dr. says weird throat blisters are called "cobblestoning".  Lovely metaphoric description I thought.  In the meantime, Ro gets her foot looked at, the verdict is we did well not getting it stitched and ugly though it is, it appears to be healing.  Rowan's relief that none of the scary instruments were utilized was palpable.  Rapid strep test is negative but we err on the side of caution with a call in of zithromyacin for Jenna.
Exactly 2 hours later we are on the way to the pharmacy and home.

24 hours later, Rowan has the same symptoms, off for more gallons of Polar Ginger Ale and Popsicles.  I warn her if she begins the usual "I'm sick" death throes routines, that while I love her dearly, she can take care of herself.  Overnight strep is still negative but the Dr. wants her to take the meds.

In the meantime, Dk has a horrible, dry wracking cough that affords him little sleep.

Elaine is going to need surgery for her messed up arm and now she was up in the middle of the night with her chest feeling so heavy she almost went to the ER.
Quarantining the girls has not been popular but there is worse stuff out there and with their weakened immune systems they would have no hope of fending anything off right now.   I had to cancel a computer job and a photography job which stinks, would have been Christmas money.  Ro couldn't work this week babysitting either, good call, she went back to bed Thursday and slept til 2!  And I am staying away from a baby shower this weekend too, can't expose our pregnant friends to any of this.
I am holding out hope that Mike and I do not get sick.  We have simply not got the time for it.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Never Say Never

I have been spending a great deal of time of late, pondering what to do with Rowan and 8th grade and high school.  We are a week shy of the first semester and due to all her health issues, have only about two weeks completed of school.  I have come to terms with this (laugh if you will).  In fact, because her issues are systemic and it is taking time for the medication to do it's job, I have even given up on the thought of getting any school done and have decided to not even worry about it until the first winter term.  As I am a very check list sort of person, this took some mental gymnastics and a whole lot of the Holy Spirit to come around to this conclusion.

Given the health related issues, attitude issues and my complete lack of desire to start anew the daily battles for now, my thoughts turn to outsourcing. 

Outsourcing certain subjects was always in the game plan.  I have always known there were subjects that I was weak on that would require a different tact.  Last year we used BJU Life Science and Rowan really got a great deal out of the course.  I always said I would never go the dvd for every subject route, but it is beginning to hold more and more attraction for me.  Thinking it through......

Pros:
Ease of Use, Thoroughness and Accountability.
No more marathon lesson planning.
Cuts down on teacher prep time, each lesson has a "for the teacher" 5 minute blurb on the dvds.
I can substitute 2 grade/subject levels which we need to do for both math and science, she is a grade ahead on both.
Buying the entire subject kit it $200 cheaper than buying 3 classes alone and comes with free Bible and Foreign Language.
Rowan can't argue with or yell at a dvd teacher to any level of effect. (though I have seen her try)
It is still a thoroughly Christian education, though not the classical model I prefer.


Cons:
I have to give up some of the dreams I had of courses I have longed to use for years for high school.
Truthfully, I love marathon lesson planning.
The visions of home school in my head will have to make way for what it really is right now and adjust.
It is expensive but not a whole lot more than I spend already.
It is not reusable, while the texts are, the dvds would have to be leased again if we go this route with Jenna.
It is totally "school at home".  Not what I ever really envisioned for our home school.

Food for thought and prayer.
Am I giving up on character training by delegating to dvd teachers?
Will this separation of me as the teacher and transition to mentor benefit our relationship during the teen years?  Giving us more time to enjoy the time we spend together?
Am I being selfish or following an instinct for self-preservation and household peace?
Did the home school in my head ever exist?

I have time to pray through this decision and talk about it and figure it out.  Would love input.  


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Monday, November 2, 2009

Girls Back to School Photos

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For Everything there is a Season

Sometimes it is really hard to see the forest for the trees.  Daily battles, over time, begin to wear.  Just when I want to throw in the towel for awhile, the bell is rung and that round is finally over and I can breathe again.
And then there are daily miracles, if one takes the time to see them.  I wish it were not so hard for me to live in the moment and appreciate it's beauty. A character flaw that I need to address.

Progress was made and lost in my weight battle.  Just when I was doing really well, I ended up with a stress fracture, FROM exercising!  Finally ready to get back into my routine and my back, inexplicably, goes out on me.  This too shall pass and my Wii Fit will be snide but I am ready to start again. 

Amazing journeys had the girls and I experiencing the beauty of Florida for the very first time.  Homossasa Springs and manatees,  Disney and Shamu, Bush Gardens and a safari where we learned that zebras are not black and white but brown and white and got to feed a giraffe named Dolly.  Where my girls got to spend time with one of my very favorite people in the whole world and get to know her and where I got to help a friend realize a dream.

Another amazing journey had Mike traveling to Africa as a missionary.  Almost 3 weeks in Sierra Leone traveling to remote villages and preaching the Gospel.

In which a new cousin was born with the most beautiful name, Stella Louise.

In which Rowan got her first steady job babysitting for a women's Bible study and had her first big balloon gig.

In which Jenna turned nine, got her ears pierced and her hair cut short and played soccer.

In which there has been cause for laughter, stress, patience, panic, relief, gratitude, and great joy.  We are blessed beyond imagining with riches untold.  The basics. A roof over our head, clothes on our backs and food in the pantry. 

Health insurance meant that our Dr. could send us where she needed to, test what she needed to, and find people who would be able to figure out what was wrong with daughter the elder.  An almost 2 year long medical mystery has been mostly solved.+  There is still the small matter of a biopsy this week but we are at peace, God is on His throne and so very clearly loves us beyond understanding.  There isn't really a "cure" per se, but knowing what we are dealing with, that all her symptoms were real and valid, and that while often uncomfortable, she most likely will outgrow most of it.   And while a week short of a full semester "behind", she will  hopefully be able to put in full days again shortly, once the medicine is in her system and the systemic symptoms subside. 



We are richly blessed on our friendships and in our family.  The house of often full of laughter and music, friends and teens and young women of God.  Our parents are together and well and we love them dearly and they us.  I believe a statistical rarity in this day and age.  Our deepest gratitude for the faithful love and support both raising us and still.  We are blessed in our siblings as well, though we don't get to spend as much time as we would like with any of them.  They are each unique and wonderful and beloved. 
While our church as a whole seems to be having some growing pains, our church family remains one of our great blessings.  What riches God gave us in our families and friends.

Blessed too that we can home school still. The Lord's provision is perfect and Mike continues to have work every day with more on the horizon.  Here too it is often difficult to maintain a "big picture" perspective sometimes.  I forget our goals for doing it in the first place and it becomes a grind of keeping up with the public school scope and sequence.  Then I get a grip again.  What we do is rigorous, yes, but no curriculum is my master. My goal isn't to complete, say,  a Latin book each year for each level, it is for them to learn Latin thoroughly and well develop a love for it.  For it's rigor, it's logic, it's order, it's beauty and the way in which each subject, in some way, reflects the glory of God. 

So here we come into my very favorite time of year.  Blessings of nature and simple pleasures.  A time to feast our eyes on the spectacular beauty of the trees last hurrah and trade it for the simple, stark beauty of the winter landscape.  A time to batten the hatches and fire up the wood-stove against the cold.  A time when the last leaves have fallen and been raked and played among,.  The end of soccer season and sewing class until the spring.  A time to cuddle with children in the still loved read aloud hours and find ourselves again in Narnia or at Hogwarts or the Shire.  A time to sit and knit and watch old movies and new favorites while our hands busy themselves with gift making.  For baking so the kitchen smells waft through the house and the heat from the stove adds more warmth to the house.  For reflection and quiet before the next season of Advent.

A season of Thanksgiving when there is so very, very much for which we are thankful. 



Deut. 12:7: You shall rejoice in all that you put your hand to, you and your household, where the Lord your God has blessed you.
 

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