Friday, June 29, 2007

Pooh Bear discovered and demonstrated for me today that she doesn't have to move her lips at all to say, "Here, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty." (try it) She's such a crack up.
Back from Nashville all edjumicated on Aquina's catagorization of the 4 Cardinal Virtues, Jesus' Miracles in light of the OT prophets, now, and Parousia. I'm also reacquainted with the struggles of (some of) the prophets. Sound like fun to you? It may not be your cup o' tea, but it's most definately mine. And the company at these gatherings is fabulous- like coming home. I also met someone for the first time who posts brilliantly on an email loop I own.

On the long drive home, Helen met me halfway in Cookeville for a little shopping, dinner at Crawdaddy's (yum!), and coffee at Poets. What do we have to talk about after 27 years of friendship? Nothing and everything. At Poet's, I noticed the ten year old serving us(okay maybe he was 16 but not a minute older) wore a Bonaroo bracelet. Because Helen had mentioned a high school friend of ours attended Bonaroo this year (do many old people like me seek that sort of event?), I asked the young server if he met any old men at the concert to get Helen's goat. Surprisingly, he mentioned holding a conversation for an hour with a 40 year old man. Odd, but funny. Helen and I asked about the Police, and the server quaintly replied, "They didn't have enough volume, but I liked them. I guess they aren't necessarily a rockin' band or anything though." If I hadn't already felt old, I did after that comment. Wasn't I just in a new white Scirroco beside high school buddies Brian, Jeff, and Helen with the new release of Roxanne cranked at such volume levels which can only explain my hearing loss today? Brian would hardly drive, because drumming the steering wheel held more significance than staying in the road. Memories evoked by this conversation at Poets only further my heartfelt hysteria of what my own children will be doing in the next 2 years or so.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

I can't breathe. My boy, Tater, leaves for France in nine days, and we've got boat loads to do. He's got reports due. We need to take a collection of daily life photos. He's got to make CD's of his favorite music. I have to buy him new sneakers and maybe another few pairs of shorts. The only shirt of the twenty he owns and likes to wear is his Underarmor which he left at a friend's house 45 minutes away yesterday. Arggh.

All the four children and their leader are coming here for a camp out Thursday while I'm away. I just hope Buck wipes the counters, keeps the floors swept, and the bathroom free from that hint of everpresent boy pee.

Friday I volunteer for registration at the SMHEA homeschool fair and catch up on my bread making supplies there. I may hit a workshop or two, since there are many about high school, which I'll begin teaching next year. I won't think about that today. I'll think about that tomorrow or next year even. Overwhelmin'.

We usually have everyone over for the 4th of July, and I don't know if I can pull it off with him leaving the very next day. Two friends have offered to have it at their homes for us, but Buck stands firm on tradition of celebrating here so far.

I'm pulling myself together for a course I'm auditing in Nashville on Thursday and another for another course I'm taking in July which has scores of assigned reading. Found a possibility of childcare for that time. God bless that family!

Tonight is a swim meet, and I don't look forward to having parents rib me for DQing their children...again.

I also have two other conflicts I need to work out haunting my mind when I'm not buzzing around.

So, with all this to do, I got my nails done. Shallow but satisfying.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Whew. That was a close call.

Home improvements do not become me. The dark side of my impatience emerges at first sight of power tools directed toward my home. Buck and I have been married eighteen years, and it's still not easy for us to survive building projects.

I think Buck and I will stay married after all, though he hasn't completed the floors yet. We've made the daunting discovery that trim and doorway transitions are tedious and persnickity business, and Buck has nine doorways with which to contend.
Since he has to finally head back to work after a vacation to put in floors for me, it make take weeks to come by as much time as he needs to complete the task. I may have be forced to seek Yoda to help train me in the Jedi ways of patience in the mean time.

Tomorrow three children go to music camp in the mornings creating time for me to do some things I keep putting off for better days. My homeschool room needs some major attention in the areas of decluttering, organization, and carpet cleaning. However, I keep thinking of fun things I want to do instead like getting my nails done and having hot chocolate at Starbucks instead.

Last week when Miriam and I met to discuss a book at Starbucks, the young man behind the counter insisted I try the black and white chocolate with a squirt of cinnamon dolche after addressing me as "dude". "Dude, you don't just want hot chocolate. You want..." I was shocked into simply nodding my head "yes", because I have never been called a dude before. The irreverant cashier was right- his combination hot chocolate rocked.

About the book we're discussing, Blue Like Jazz. I'm four chapters in, and though I won't stop reading, I'm not digging the writing so far. It's jumpy and a tinge too negative for my pick of inspirational books. I'll blog more about it as I progress, since so many bloggers seem to love it.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

What am I up to? Obviously not blogging. I'm avoiding the place formerly known as my home. Hopefully in just one or two more days, I will not think of this space as chaos. My husband is putting down new floors in the kitchen and living room, so all of the furniture is crammed into children's rooms. Noone can walk anywhere, especially without shoes. I am ever so grateful for no ER trips as a result of stepping on nails thus far. My fridge has been squished in the laundry room, and my stove unplugged since Sunday. My kitchen sink or dishwasher have no water connected. Buck washed our few dishes in the laundry sink last night. No easy task as elbow room doesn't exist between a fridge, washer/dryer, and a kithcen hutch.

I am thankful to have such wonderful floors coming, but I am a grump when my nest is such a mess. I've been taking the kids on day trips to the park and to friends houses for hours upon hours of play to avoid power tools, sawdust, and overall disorder at home. Today is swim practice, book study with Miriam, and the evening will be consumed with a swim meet.

Buck needs help with the wiring of the diswasher and island, and finishing the tricky parts at the zillion doorways. I'm hoping and praying our expert builder will have enough time to get to these things with Buck tonight after his long tiring work day. Isn't it a blessing that we have a friend like that?

News from the pretend farm:
My children report a dozen new baby chicks under the wing of a leghorn mother hen. Peace says he watched them "fly" seven feet from the hayloft to the ground. I don't see those tiny birds survived the leap being so very fragile. Amazing creatures.

This momma hen talked softly to me just outside in the garden this morning as I harvested plenty of purple and yellow bush beans. I had no earthly idea she had twelve babies underneath her until my children mentioned it later. I also picked yellow and zuchinni squash and dill. The goats loved crunching the drying sugar snap pea vines I tossed to them.

Hope your day is blessed and may all your projects make progress today.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Forty Day Fast begins June 22.

Forty days. Forty Bloggers. We are each taking a day to fast to consider world causes and blogging about our experience. Would you like to join us?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

You know you are in too deep with developing next year's science curriculum when a chapter in a Magnet book titled "Rubbing and Attracting" makes you laugh so hard you pee your pants (and you almost get kicked out of the library).

Saturday, June 16, 2007

I really was minding my own business, but my son, Peace's room is right next to mine. Both our doors had been open on this lazy Saturday afternoon while I worked on my computer, and I heard the snap and rattle of building lego ships coming from his door. In the background, I noticed Peace was listening to opera on the radio. I figured it was because he left his radio on after "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" or "Says You". I was wrong. It's just because he likes opera. Once I gave it some thought, I realized I've heard him listening to it other days as well. Just as my mind began to ponder the exact origin of his opera listening, something happened which helped me clarify "the why" behind my thirteen year old son's selection of music. As the soprano on the recording sang the same note with short loud bursts in long succession of "ahh, ahh, ahh, ahhhh" my son matched the note and followed with his own voice. Only his sound pronunciation for each "ahh" came out "bwak, bwak, bwak, bwaaaak". Peace likes opera, because it sounds like chickens singing. Peace really likes chickens, and I've written this before- he's a chicken whisperer. Now it all makes complete sense.
Peace ran to my room to find out why I was laughing out loud, because he had no idea I'd been listening to his cheerful opera chicken session.

Garden update

Perhaps you heard the story on NPR yesterday about the drought in Tennessee. At our home, I'd say we've had 30 minutes total of good solid rain in the last month. No full summer showers days to cool the sweltering heat. A few drops of rain here and there once a week contains the only pitter patter of raindrops clunking on my tin roof. Even the big storms all around haven't hit our farm.

So, how does my garden even grow? We water with city water via sprinkler daily, and it's lookin' fine. I feel slightly guilty as there is a severe lawn watering limit in this county. We certainly do not water our lawn, and it looks nearly dead. A garden is not a lawn, but our area is feeling the drought squeeze, and I don't want to take more than my share.

From the garden, we've harvested some gorgeous zuchinni already, and gourmet bush beans are not far behind. Today I decided to give them a few more days, but it won't be long. Corn is tassling. There are blossoms on the cucumbers. Tomatoes are small and green. Nastursiums are in full bloom. Basil is ready for harvest, but I'm waiting to harvest with the tomatoes. Nothing like a tomato, basil, grilled cheese on sourdough. The clematis destroyed by the late frost has two huge blooms. I came across the fatality of my sole egg plant (noone eats it but me) this morning. Something has munched it to death. I replanted a watermelon to a better spot as it wasn't getting enough sunshine. Peppers and cantaloupe are progressing. Many sunflowers, black eyed Susan's, and zinnias are nearly ready to display their true magnificent colors. My circle garden of flowers outside my window does not prosper this year, because I do not water often enough. I started some purple coneflower in a pot which are ready to plant in my flower beds.

Wish me luck with my garden, but pray for rain in Tennessee. It's been a rough start for real farmers with the late frost and now thirsty land.

Friday, June 15, 2007

A post for Jana on science homeschooling

Dear Jana,
Before sixth grade, science is fun for me to teach. We live it, we breathe it here on our farm. It's bumping it up a notch to college preparation which I find so difficult.

I am afraid my personal lack of science enthusiasm will taint my boys.

I believe a teacher should enjoy their subject and feel at ease teaching it. Neither describes me regarding higher sciences. I'd much rather learn about Einstein's wife than his Theory of Relativity. My son with a bent toward science, needs to learn Relativity.

Looking over the library's collection of books, I can choose the ones which will work best rather than dry textbooks. I'm looking for the best "living books" as Charlotte Mason would say. Yes, I have read her and have actually made giant shifts in our home school because of her influence. For example, I purge our bookshelves of twaddle on a regular basis. Who gives us Disney books anyway?? I'd rather eat dirt than read a book about a cartoon. Also, Mason and Maria Montessori inspired me to move to our farm in order to live nature study. Our woods, garden, chickens, goats give us a direct connection to the natural world.

Back to science. At some point, "living books" become unavailable on Quantum Physics. In which case, I'll pick the best of the library's bunch before the school year begins.

I have to hold a book in my hand to evaluate it. It takes too much time to sort through books on the fly during the school year, so we're doing so ahead of time.

You should have seen my response to my son's seventh grade Bob Jones Physical Science text this year from his once a week co-op. At best, it bored me to tears. At worst, it's contents and perspectives irked me at times. My son, Peace, actually liked the durn course, but he had another teacher who loved the subject matter.

As for Sonlight, I've used it in the lower grades and enjoyed it very much. The activities and books were engaging and delightful. I love keeping the books around for my children to pick up and read now that we aren't using it anymore. Every book has been a winner in our family except one. In the end, I haven't find Sonlight academically rigorous enough for us, so we've switched to something which suits us better. I am not saying Sonlight is not academic enough for other families, because others may have better implementation than myself or need less practice in some skills than my boys.

So, Jana, do you homeschool middle or high school yet? If so, what works for you?

Aslan is on the move...

If you are local, don't miss The Word Player's production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I wasn't so sure how such an imaginative book could be adapted to a play, and I was not disappointed. The children and I went to the dress rehearsal last night, and each of us loved it. Though it's community theater, the script, the choreography of dance and fighting, the actors, costumes, make up, and props were all well done. The experience was delightful.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Fantastic Niece's High School Graduation Party- enjoyed
Sweetest Two Year Old Nephew's Birthday- terrific
Visit with Buck's dear family- wonderful
Free hotel room provided by Buck's brother- generous
Visit to my sister and family- marvelous
Talented Niece's play- well done, girl!
Unexpected visit with an old friend- serendipitous
Missed visit with dear friend due to a death in the family- sad
Whirlwind 2-day trip to Cincinnati and home- amazing
Animals and garden tended by Hauna- grateful
Swim meet in which I disqualified two of my own children- melancholy
Science course planning for homeschooling- tedious

Sleeping in my own bed next to my husband with a few days off- priceless

Saturday, June 09, 2007

"I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day." -- E.B. White

I'm posting this quote to motivate myself. I woke up with much different things on my mind than improving and enjoying the world. I'm full of worry and lacking inspiration. Not the kind of worry produced by scary circumstances, but the overwhelmed kind. I'll be okay by Wednesday, but the next few days I have lots on my plate to take care of while Buck isn't fully functioning.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Everyday Post

I have new carpet under my feet at this moment. The installers came this morning and transformed my bedroom from maroon nightmare into a peaceful space with neutral brown rectangled flooring. I've decided the paint color Buck and I slathered on the walls is exactly the color of a Blue Spruce tree. My eyes no longer ache from the clash of mismatched color.
Fabric for curtains still floats on a slow boat from China. Really. Once the container ship docks and send it's cargo to Short Sheet, making drapes will be the last piece of my room decorating frenzy- unless I come across reasonably priced and pretty computer desk or matching oval mirrors. Oh, I'd like a fuzzy matching blue throw for the end of my bed too.
Buck got some kind of deal on his face that makes him look positively miserable. Nevermind and no time for that, because he's had no choice but to move chests, tables, computers, desks, and a king sized bed. Hopefully, he can get some rest and relaxation at his work tomorrow. Oh, yeah, that probably won't be true either.
In another week or two, if Buck still wants to be married to me, we'll move on to flooring for the living room and kitchen.

Tonight is our first swim meet of the season. I have that same "stroke and turn judge angst" I got last year. Would it bother you at all to disqualify children who haven't figured out how to swim the butterfly legally yet?

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Homeschool ramble

Today I join Claire in a mammoth homeschool project. She purchased an excellent series of lectures for high school science, and now she's taking notes on all the DVD's and forming questions. I may help some with this process. However, today, I will be Claire's data entry person. She's using my library card, her husband's, and her children's to consolidate Knox County Public Library's children's science collection. I will be finding and typing in several hundred book titles and having them sent to our branch. Next week, Claire and I will spend hours with those books, choosing which ones will best supplement concepts in the videos.

Why in the world should we go to all this trouble? Wouldn't sending our children to middle or high school do the trick? It might, but here are some reasons I'll homeschool next year.

1. My oldest son went to an excellent elementary school for kindergarten and first grade. His teachers, who were incredibly gifted and created love of learning in their classrooms, asked me to "practice" reading and math with Peace at home. Though he went to a great school for hours a day, honestly, I ended up being the one to teach him essential phonics and math facts for a few hours after school. After two years, I picked up on the trend, and so did he. Peace asked in the spring of his first grade year, "Mom I'm inside all day, and then I have to come home and study. When do I get to be outside? It's so pretty out there. Can't we homeschool?"
I realized quickly that when it came to the big and important skills, I would have to tutor my average son all through school. Teachers simply don't have time to keep up with all educational components of every single child. So why not let the nature boy study outside at home?

2. Secondly, the public school system in my county generally graduates student like mine (not incredibly academically self-motivated boys) to junior college if they go to college at all. I can motivate and tailor for college prep much more effectively as teacher than as tutor.

3. Private school is too expensive, especially for four children and one family income. I already struggle with relational parenting under normal everyday stress, so what would adding the responsibility of a job do to my family?

4. There are boxed curriculums out there, but so far, I've found them all boring. Why not make learning interesting? We'll do boring only if we can't figure out something better.

5. High school DVD courses are very expensive. We're talking between $500-$1,000 per course per year.

6. Who loves and cares about the success of my children more than Buck and I?

So, Claire and I will pour ourselves into weeks of science work to create something worthy and simple to implement for the coming school year. Wish us luck.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Posted on Lectio Diva this morning.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Best Thing I've Read All Day

After catching up on some reading for my Shepherd's Call work- a couple of sentences from History's Golden Thread, packed full of ten dollar words like "eschatology", "typology", and "progressive incarnation", I needed a little breather.

So, I began a book of lighter content titled Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes in You and Your Kids by Turansky and Miller. The first few pages I found rather trite, but I gave it a few more pages to impress me. Impress me it did.

Here's a quote I may chew on for days from a father of eight named Mr. Porter:

"Families are made up of imperfect people," he began. "From infants to adults, each person has a tendency to make selfish choices. We've learned, though, that for every form of selfishness in a family there's an honor based solution. Honor thinks of what would please someone else and gives more than expected. It's putting someone else's needs above your own. Honor values others in tangible ways. Children can learn honor and so can parents. Sure, confrontation is till necessary, and discipline still takes work. But we've found that when we focus on developing honor, we see amazing results."

In all the struggles I've had in thirteen years of parenting, the best advice steadfastly comes back in positive form. Nagging doesn't honor. Getting louder and more angry doesn't honor. Force doesn't honor.

Honor is as clean and clear as a freshly bleached white cotton sheet blowing in a gentle breeze from a laundry line on a hot summer day- honoring relationships keep a constant bottom line of considering others at least equal or better than oneself and acting upon that belief. I'll be the person I'm made as this becomes my reality.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Apron strings

I disparaged Pooh Bear's homemade apron in yesterday's post. Buck believed Goodwill might produce a child-sized well-sewn apron, so she and I looked around inside Goodwill while Buck dropped off some of our clutter for other people to buy to decorate or clutter their house. I must admit my lack of faith that Goodwill would have a selection of aprons for Pooh Bear to choose, because I've looked before and have never found a single apron for her or myself. I really would like one to wear while cooking, but I will refuse unless it's:
1. pretty
2. two dollars or less
I want nothing to do with a bright orange apron with HOME DEPOT written across my breasts or an inane saying like, "Chefs Make Better Lovers." Oh, brother. The colors musn't clash with my kitchen or offend my sense of beauty. Nor do I want something so expensive, it would rattle me to get tomato sauce smeared upon it.

The Goodwill muse did not choose bless me with glam cooking garb yesterday, but she did fly near to Pooh Bear. I couldn't miss a gigantic, floppy-eared, country bunny, the exact size of Pooh Bear. I noticed the animal sported a lacey calico dress overlayed with nothing less than white fru fru apron. I promptly tested to see if the apron could be removed from the stuffed bunny, and viola! It was easily untied and parted from the bunny's ensemble. I called Pooh Bear over for her to try it on. A perfect fit. Her expression was a mix of disbelief and euphoria, "Do you think we could buy this, Mommy?" We tied the apron back on the bunny and both of us skipped with glee to the front of the store hand in hand. Okay, Pooh Bear skipped, and I walked fast. I approached the register,"I want to buy the bunny, take it's apron off, and give the bunny back to Goodwill if that's okay with you." The sales lady scrunched up her face and inquired, "I'll let you just by the apron, but why?" I asked the clerk if she liked the Wizard of Oz as much as Pooh Bear, and waved my hand down to Pooh Bear's outfit. "Oh, I see the ruby slippers. You're doing the Dorothy thing. That'll be two dollars."

Pooh Bear got quite a few compliments at Wal-mart and the carpet store. One lady went out of her way to ask Pooh Bear, "Where can one find a Dorothy outfit like yours? I wish I had one." When Pooh Bear smiled like the Cheshire Cat and shrugged her shoulders at the lady, I answered, "Hand-me-downs, Goodwill, a fuzzy dog from a stuffed animal collection, and an old Easter basket should work for you too."

Friday, June 01, 2007


A dear old friend of mine told me she just couldn't bring herself to read my blog. She left me with the impression that it intimidated her somehow, and I didn't understand.

I think I understand a little better now.

This morning, I visited a perfect blog written by a perfect and beautiful blogger with a perfect life. She posted gorgeous pictures of herself and her family. She wrote about her historic restored house, blissful homeschool experience, classic and impeccable taste in all things vintage. I swear I looked for just one post or picture with a hint of a tiny flaw, but there were none.

Was I somehow jealous? Maybe. Will I visit her blog again? No way, because I picked up a cruel measuring stick too long for myself while lurking there.

I realize now that my dear old friend must have found that same unkind ruler for herself on my blog. And though I wish I could, I cannot remove it from her hands.

So, today I wanted to mention that I bite my fingernails terribly. I take for granted those I love much too often. I must spray chicken poop from my sidewalk every single day. I have never cleaned the outside of my windows in the four years I've lived at my house. My seventeen year old van could never be clean or good looking again. There are weeds in my lovely garden. My children are not always well mannered and thoughtful. Homeschool is excruciating at times. I am hopeless with a budget. I not as domestic as I need to be. For example, up until today, one of my cabinets had a thick layer of goo where honey has perpectually dripped for years. And you should see what my daughter is wearing to the carpet store this afternoon- her blue Dorothy dress with white bear buttons, ruby red slippers with white socks (I talked her out of the purple and yellow ones), and a frazzled apron she cut herself from light green checked fabric. I spent at least five minutes convincing her to brush her hair, but it didn't really help tame her wild disarrayed mane. She's carrying a basket lined with a colorful Russian shawl with a stuffed dog on top.

My life is imperfect.