Tuesday, December 27, 2011


I read somewhere once that one reason that it's good for kids to have pets (aside from the whole responsibility stuff) is that when they deal with the death of a pet they are learning lessons about death and how to deal with it. If dead pets equal kids learning to handle death healthfully?
Yes, we lost another pet tonight. Sometime in September/October we lost a mouse (Myron). We'd had him for a while and that was a sad affair....we've also buried untold numbers of bunnies (who knew that some moms are temperamental and will begin a killing spree when they feel overwhelmed by the number of offspring hanging off of them? Or just have a bad day and decide that the fluffy little cotton tail sitting there...shouldn't be!?) and 2 weeks before Christmas lost our beloved dog Daphne.
Tonight it was the second mouse. BooBoo. Luckily, I don't think anyone was quite as attached to BooBoo as we were to Myron. He kind of was gross-er. Poop flinging was his hobby I think. *shudder* I think Jared was just kind of resigned this time. Wondering if he had done something wrong-the mouse had water today, the mouse had food....the mouse was still dead.
So, the shovel came out again.
At this point I have a question: Where in the world will I ever plant a garden??? I really want to plant a garden and although I will do a raised bed garden I don't want dead seeping into my veggies!

And as a side note, while reading "Green Eggs and Ham" Haley informed me that he should not eat them with a mouse because mouses have germs. Right you are my dear. We would never eat our green eggs and ham with a mouse. Dead or alive.

Thursday, December 22, 2011


Why does my homeschool not look like the homeschool of my dreams? Why do my kids not always consider learning and the joy of learning to be the privilege that it is? And why, oh why, are none of the school books EVER in the school room on the neat shelves (wait, the shelves are not "neat" as in clean, they are neat as in they are built for our school stuff) that we have?
In my dream homeschool (the one where there is a perfect mommy/teacher and little cherubs for students) we would start at 9am-and not a moment later. All the chores would be done, everyone would have gone to the bathroom already. So, we would be so happy that it was natural to start our day with prayer. It's very hard to pray and start your school day that way when everyone is already mad/frustrated/sad....
Next we would say the Pledge of Allegiance with everyone gazing admiringly at the flag-thinking about the sacrifice made by our forefathers and my grandfather and the men who have fought and died in recent years so that we have the freedom to fly that flag and to make a pledge to it. They would also be thinking of Betsy Ross who lovingly sewed that flag (well, not *that* one but you know what I mean)....Oh, and all pencils would be sharpened and all supplies (paper, folders, crayons, glue, markers, etc) would be right in the cubby that is assigned to them.
So, where are we? Yes, it's 9am and we're all sitting quietly in the school room after  reflecting on the joys of our God and our country.
Everyone has their books out-beginning with the Bible Curriculum I adapted from a grown-up study just for them and typed. (I really did do this and they really do use it, I just wish they were more joyful about it-realizing the hard work I put into that study so that they would have something that was just what I wanted for them-meaningful without being so deep and difficult that it was more frustrating than inspirational). They would never do their math first "to get it over with".
After Bible we would move onto Language where I could manage to teach one lesson to two different grade levels. (yeah, right!) And they wouldn't fight over who got the right answer first or who knew it first, etc etc.
Next, would be Spelling and Handwriting for the younger ones (actually, I like that curriculum and they don't complain about that either).
Then Math. And everyone would do their "gazindas" with happy hearts. And when I wanted them to do another round of multiplication flash cards they would thank me for helping them to get those committed to memory. And the  math would be done with care and thought. Oh, and neat too. (While I'm dreaming.)
Have I mentioned that while we are doing all of this Nathan would be playing nicely with his little trains? Or playing with play doh at a table (without dragging it everywhere). Or coloring ON PAPER.
Science and History would be in the afternoon while Nathan napped and Haley watched some PBS kids as a reward for having done her school work already. And I would be fully awake because I'm not exhausted. And if my eyes did happen to close...the kids would not laugh at me or get irritated.
And we would do EVERY suggested Science experiment
because we would always have all of the necessary equipment
and supplies! And the experiments would always work. Always.

And last but not least,  the school room would look all neat and tidy at the end of the day with barely a clue that we had spent the whole day learning valuable lessons! We would have systems for things (organizing, etc) and they would get used so that they actually helped us!

In a Dream World. Back to Reality though....cause that's where I live!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Giving vs Receiving

You hear the argument about whether it's more blessed to give than to receive...and I can see where both sides have merit. There's nothing better than giving a gift that is treasured and appreciated. But it's also kind of fun to be the one treasuring and appreciating! ;)
My grandparents have taught me a lot about a lot of things but giving and receiving are things that I learned from them. Some from watching and some from the wise words they shared.
Here is one my grandma shared with me. First off, let me say that my grandma is the consummate lady. Graceful and kind. I never remember her putting herself or her needs first. In fact I wonder sometimes, does she have needs? We never heard about them!? That could be a whole post in it's own right! So, back to the original idea. One time when I was struggling with someone giving me something (I don't even remember the occasion, the giver or the gift at this point but I remember the advice!) my grandma told me "When you refuse a gift, you refuse the giver the chance to be blessed." Wow. It is a little humbling sometimes to take a gift-especially if it's not your birthday or Christmas. If it's just someone's being kind. But if you refuse a gift that is genuinely given from the heart of someone because they want to show love and kindness...you are depriving THEM of a blessing.
Next is that my grandpa is not a taker. He is just plain not good at it. It makes him anxious and uncomfortable. He is one that will give you his last dime. The shirt off of his back. Anything he has and some things he doesn't. After spending most of his life giving, his worst fear (well, one that he talks about) is being a burden on one of us. He prays daily that God will allow him to live until he dies. In other words, not to let him be an invalid-either mentally or physically. I've tried, unsuccessfully, many times to explain to him that it's not a burden if you want to do it. That it's not a burden to finally have the chance to give back to someone who has spent his life giving....all to no avail. He is not buying it. So, I pray the same thing he does. That he stays fully alive until the time comes for him to die.
But sometimes it's good to allow people to give you something (take you out to lunch-you don't always have to pay Grandpa!) or take care of you (you really shouldn't be on a ladder cleaning your own gutters!). It not only blesses you if you can stand it, it allows someone to give back.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Baby is Two!

I cannot believe this is happening to me. My last baby. My little guy. He is growing up. I told him not to. I made a deal with him!!! And he's going back on it. To his own mom. I guess I'll just go with it...if I can't beat time, we'll just celebrate him.
This little boy was a surprise in our life. It took years of trying and fertility treatments to have our first baby (and a miscarriage), the second came quickly-with the help of fertility treatments. And the third? We tried on our own again but to no avail! So, back to the doctor we went. But with Nathan, all we had to do was tell God our plans-and that they didn't involve any more babies. We did. And He laughed. And told us that He had better plans for us. It's not that we didn't want this little guy, I was instantly in love when the test turned positive (well, when I stopped shaking so I could actually confirm the positive result!). The pregnancy was not much fun-nothing serious, just the aches and pains of a fourth pregnancy and being a little older this time around. And long story short (because I've told the long version so many times), Nathan was born on December 2, 2009 at 37 weeks and 2 days gestation weighing in at a whopping 9 lbs 7 oz! Hugongous much! I told my husband: "I can't believe we didn't know we wanted him." Because that's what it is. It's not that you didn't want the baby, you just didn't know you wanted him/her until your heart wraps around him or her. This little guy has made us laugh. I'm so much more relaxed this time. I realize how quickly it all passes so I treasure the moments a little better than I did with my first 2 kids. I purposed to enjoy the night time feedings (not too hard to do because he was a decent sleeper from early on) and not complain about having to sit down to nurse "again".

It was a fun party. I made everything the crafty way...a lot of work but I had fun and it was worth it. The train was a collaboration of ideas and was super fun for all the kids (big and little) that were at our party! Jared (9) offered to pull the kids in the wagon with the train box over it! When the box was no longer staying on the kids still wanted to be pulled around the yard and he was a good sport. I decided since some of it was so much work it could stay up for a while. Ha ha. The banner is still gracing my kitchen wall.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Magic of Letters

I wish I could remember (from my own 3-5 year old self) when letters were just magical. When I couldn't pass a sign without trying to figure out what each letter said and what they said when they all joined together as a team. When books were a mystery waiting to be solved-whether they were a mystery or not. I think the wonder of it all is so neat to watch. This is the 3rd time I've done this (through my children-doesn't count my own experience) and I'm amazed all over again. Number 3 is picking up reading rather quickly and overall painlessly! (Not much has been painless with this child, I assure you!)

I am loving the teaching process with her. (I wish I had more time to revel in it...but that is not the case so I have to deal with reality). There are moments of frustration of course-for both of us-but the moments of triumph outshine those by far! We (as adults who have been reading for a bazillion years) take reading for granted. Until you have to teach a child why "th" doesn't say "tuh" "huh" but "tthhh" you can't know what I'm talking about. We use an excellent book to teach reading (and I use ONLY phonics based teaching. We do ZERO sight words. Why? Because I'm the mom and I said so. And I'm the teacher and I said so...and the principal...you get it?). The book we use is written by Samuel Blumenfeld and is called Alpha-phonics. I am teaching my 3rd child to read using this super simple primer style book. No pictures=no guessing at words and no distractions! (What 4-5 year old needs an extra distraction while doing something as important as learning to read?). A mom I babysat for while I was a teenager (who homeschooled her 5 children through their early years) recommended it to me because it worked for all 5 of her children-various learning styles and abilities. It's also cheap and reusable. And in all honesty, I started out using a very popular, more expensive curriculum...and I hated it. So, I dumped it and got what I should've gotten in the first place and never looked back!
I think the reason that teaching reading is my favorite part of parenting/homeschooling is this: teaching is the key to everything else. If you can read, you can learn ANYthing. The world is yours. Sounds corny but it's so true. Remember The Reading Rainbow? "I can go anywhere...take a look, it's in a book..." I love to read and I love passing that onto my children.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Saying Goodbye

This year has had it's share of goodbyes, more accurately, the last few months. We've said goodbye to friends, relatives we visited (yes, I know, it might not be forever, but it might be!)
And this weekend we said goodbye to this girl:
Daphne. For months something has been "off". In fact there was a short period of time that I was terrified to take her to the veterinarian just in case it was bad news. I just couldn't face it. But within a couple of days my husband found her ear looked infected so we breathed a sigh of relief and took her in on a Sunday morning, paying the extra cost of a weekend visit for our girl, thinking she would feel better and start playing and eating again. And she did seem to rally just a little bit! Yay! Then, it was clear that things were not looking good again but her ear looked fine this time!? After some bloodwork our vet (who was awesome through this whole entire ordeal, she is amazing in her "bedside" manner and thoughtfulness as she is assessing her patients) thought it looked to be something akin to a tick borne illness (and although she was never covered in ticks or fleas-in fact I never ever saw even one on her!-they can get very sick from a tick biting them briefly and then falling off) so we began another round of *stronger* antibiotics. By this time our girl was looking painfully thin (emaciated) so we were taking her back often for weight checks, etc. The vet is starting to get more alarmed and wanted to do x-rays (which she did for FREE!). Not good news. Stomach falls. Heart beating a little harder-in your mouth.
But, we kept up with the meds, "just in case" the mass we saw around her lung was infection related (couldn't hurt anything and just maybe it would make her better!?). But within days of this consult she started going downhill extremely fast and by this past Saturday night she had lost the use of her hind legs and was just looking at me like "help me". It was awful. My husband and I faced the reality that Sunday morning had to be the end of it. For her. We wanted to try to nurse her through Christmas at least, but there was no way.
So, RIP Daphne, you were and are well-loved and missed more than you can know. I am choosing to believe that you are in heaven (although I don't know what I really believe about animals and eternity) because if any dog was welcomed in, it would be YOU. I miss your dog-stink girl. Hope you can chase that ball again up there.....

Monday, December 5, 2011


Yesterday was supposed to be the start of our Advent Adventure. (Yes, I know that the "real" advent started in November...we are doing December though). Oh, wait, I said "supposed to be". Yep, Day 1 is over and we're already behind!
I started in October by buying a do it yourself advent calendar (it was just a plain cardboard thing with 25 drawers-just brown). My mom wondered why I started so early. This is why. It took me that long to make the basic thing and I'm not even 100% happy with it. It's cute, just not what I pictured in a vague Martha Stewart-ish kind of way. But that's okay, I didn't picture my living room having a bare sheetrock wall during the Christmas season either-but that's why I ripped out a wall at the end of December. With a gazillion things to do (Advent stuff, Nathan's birthday and party, etc etc etc) I figured it'd be good to start a major project in my living room.
Anyways, back to the Advent calendar:
In October (when the stores start seriously putting out all of the Christmas stuff in hopes of sucking you in early) I found something similar to this at Hobby Lobby (except it was brown-in the way a paper bag is brown):
Then, I spent FORever obsessing over how to cover it. I tried painting it (so that it would look like the one above before I covered it), I determined that painting each box inside and out wasn't really feasible in my world, but I got the important parts painted....and it looked a little like this one...
Then I obsessed over paper and ribbon. I'll spare you all of the details but I finally chose some contrasting papers to alternate, then I made little papers with numbers on them (stenciled) to represent each day of December. Inside each box is a paper that has an activity related to the Christmas season in it. Sometimes kind of big but mostly little stuff.
Here is the finished product:

Not perfect but perfectly fine. Now, we just have to get started! *blushing* It's the 5th and we've done NOTHING on our calendar officially (my hubby did put up the outside lights last night which is one of them but I think we were supposed to have like hot chocolate with it LOL).  But, my excuse is this: I have been in Birthday party  mode. Next post will show all that we've been doing!

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