Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Don't ask me about homeschooling today. My eighth grader is trying to slowly kill me with his careless work and constant off task behavior.
Seems like the horrid cycle of me nagging and him resisting has kicked in for the sixth consecutive home school year. I know the way out, but it takes time, resolve and patience. I've explained that I have no interest in dragging him through the eighth grade, because I've already done that for myself. It's up to him to pass or fail, and I've set clear boundaries of when I'll be available to teach (till 3:00 pm) and when I'm not (after). Otherwise, he'll dawdle through the day into the evening demanding I explain concepts or check work past 9 pm at night. No thank you- I'd rather keep my sanity.
Don't get me wrong. Peace possesses some excellent qualities. For example, he is easy to wake up. He jumps out of his bed to his farm chores without me ever asking. He's handy in mechanical ways, like fixing the eye of the garage door opener and making new things work. He's got a fairly decent sense of humor. However, if you find me admitted to an insane asylum, you'll have a good idea of how I got there. My eyes will be glazed over as I incessantly repeat, "Are you done with the work on your assignment sheet?" to all the nice people in white coats.

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Friday and Saturday I was given the chance to work on a dream a long time in the making. My dear friend Elizabeth invited me to team teach my very first official Catechesis of the Good Shepherd course with herself and another dear friend, Laura. I still can't believe it, but I spent the weekend actually doing the very thing I've wished and prayed for ten years.

I have been in awe of the expertise surrounding me. Elizabeth is an amazing listener and can see straight to the heart of the matter instantly. There is nothing like being under the leadership of a person who is so in tune with preserving relationship and striving for excellence all at once. Laura is a fantastic teacher. Her preparation is impeccable, and she possesses an incredible peace. I surprised myself with my own confidence and mastery of material. I also felt some of my experimentation in presentation was a bit of a flop. It's something I intend to learn from and not pine over. Working with Elizabeth makes this possible as she offers overflowing grace and insight.

The participants in the course were a treasure. There were sixteen, I believe, and each one brought the great gifts of curiousity, questions, and even wisdom. I know each one by name, but I did not count. I think of myself in their position ten years ago- willing to invest deeply in eight weekends of something I wasn't altogether sure about. I look forward to working with each one.

on the home front
Buck, again, laid down his life to create space for me to study and be gone for two entire days. He handed Pooh Bear over to Helen for a night and conducted a sleep over of eleven rambunctious adolescents whom I love dearly. Though we went to Tic Toc for very expensive icecream on his real birthday, Tater asked to have an all boy party while I was gone. I heard tales of creating frothy bubbles on the trampoline to jump in(how incredibly dangerous does that sound?!), smores and sausage cabbage soup cooked over a fire (an hilarious choice of a birthday dinner if you ask me), water hose wars, goat tag games in which Gingerly, the new dairy goat, kept escaping the field, and general chaos. Yes, the house is still standing. After church, we will have a quiet day at home for recovery- except for Buck- who has to work.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Back to School Inspiration

At the beginning of every academic year I like to remind myself and my students that true education is a form of repentance. It is a humble admission that we've not read all that we need to read, we don't know all that we need to know, and we've not yet become all that we are called to become. Education is that unique form of discipleship that brings us to the place of admitting our inadequacies. It is that remarkable rebuke of autonomy and independence so powerful and so evident that we actually shut up and pay heed for a change.

George Grant
The Seed

A bird brought me a seed.
I plant the seed.
It grows into a Sugar Plum Tree.
In the winter, it turns brown.
The next summer it comes back green and pink.
A bird brought me a seed.

By Pooh Bear

Monday, August 20, 2007

Theme in Pink
by Pooh Bear

Spiders eat butterflies on me.
The butterflies drink by necter.
I grow outside and sing, "All the World".
I am a pink flower.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

on a lighter birthday note

My Beloved Buck,
I've been waiting for inspiration regarding your birthday here all day long. At this late hour, nothing has really come to me except the very simple. I love you. I will always love you. I am so grateful to the fine parents and the Great God who worked together to bring you life and love 43 years ago. I've known you more than half my life now and every year only gets better.
So, let me tell you about Gingerly, our newest Nubian. She's so beautiful. Light brown body, black stripe down her back, white frosted ears, a swipe of black down her face. Her dark chocolate eyes make one melt. She is a tad nervous, being the new kid on the goat farm block. She's getting sniffed, licked, rubbed, bothered, and sometimes butted by our little herd. She's deathly afraid of our ginormous Great Pry dog, Ripley. She cries a little like the whine of broken fan. I get the idea she'd prefer to be inside snuggling on my lap than in the field. Of course, she wouldn't fit on my lap, but that is beside the point- she is incredibly loving. She follows right behind to and from the field like a first grade line leader behind her beloved teacher.

Here's the nitty gritty...she has little short pencil teets, which makes her a tad bit hard to milk. It may have something to do with being out practice that she takes so long to milk, but I know her teet size is not helpful. However, the milk is downright tasty.

Gingerly came from the Hilton of goat farms, so she is not used to our Motel Six milk stand. Her former accomodations included a swanky ramp to a bin of food. Here she must jump straight up on the stand and put her head through treacherous looking hole. Tonight I have to coax (or forcibly push) her up there without Buck's help and I'm not looking forward to that.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Some people buy new furniture, nice clothes, grand cars.

The Vyne's are purchasing a snazzy new dairy goat.

She milks an entire gallon a day. In under 40 milkings, she's paid for herself with cow milk at a whooping $5.29 a gallon. Buck and Peace pick her up from Jubilee Farms right after his one class at classical private school. I asked my son to take other clothes and shoes than his spanking brand new uniform. Gosh, Peace looks handsome and scholatic in those khaki's and logoed polo.

I'm over a year out of practice with milking, because the whole family needed a break. We are going to sell half of our milk for pet consumption. Why just for pet consumption? Tennessee has made it illegal to sell (it's not illegal for us to drink it) unpastuerized milk for humans, so we hand it over to our friends stating the facts, and they do what they do with the healthiest whole milk in the world.

Peace has always taken the responsibility of milking a few days of the week. He manages to get the goat from the herd without letting the others out, bring her inside to the milk stand, milk, filter, refrigerate, wash buckets, clean up, and take the nanny back to the field all on his own. Tater and Wise One get stuck at the beginning part by letting all the other goats out. Buck and I have decided to make it worth their while to learn how to do it right with cash. Peace will get half the money if he has to help them in any way on their days.

More goat tales to follow in the future, I'm sure.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Working vs. Stay At Home Moms

Contrary to all things hip, I still catch an occasional Oprah. I don't bother with the majority shows, but when I hear an interesting topic, and I happen to have an hour, I watch or at least listening while I'm folding laundry. A few days ago she had women on her show representing both sides of the working verses stay-at-home moms. I think it was a repeat. Both sides of the issue made me think.

One woman took her child out of daycare and quit her job at the suggestion of a care provider to place a disposable camera in the diaper bag to catch the milestones which might arise while the mom was working. During the woman's story, I remembered the time my husband took our middle son across the street to a birthday party and announced that Tater took his first steps. I wasn't mad or hurt that I missed those first steps, because the milestone is to be celebrated no matter if I was watching or not. I'm not saying the woman on Oprah felt this way, but I would have been a complete train wreck if I hadn't let someone else give me a break from the daily grind sometimes. All this is to say, even as a stay at home mom, I missed milestones.

On the other hand, I have been sheltered from what another working mom called "Sophie's Choice". Everyday at the daycare door, her son would cling to her leg and cry out, "I'll be a good boy, Mommy. Please don't leave me here. I'll do whatever you say." How difficult! Hopefully, that mom took time listen to the voice inside in order evaluate her circumstances apart from that difficult moment to be sure she was making the right choice for her family. If so, her decision's noone's business including mine.

Another stay-at-home mom regretted not making more of herself. She felt like it was a poor example for her daughters to simply make dinner, clean house, and shuttle her girls back and forth to events. I say it's never too late, and that the mom can find her dream again and begin to live it if it was lost in the mothering shuffle. I think of how the author of one of my favorite all time books, Cold Sassy Tree, was in her 80's when she published.

I'd say the debate came down to something simple on Oprah's show. Working mothers feel judged by stay-at-home moms as not loving their children enough. I was unclear about any stay-at-home mom conclusions. Either way, the stakes of women being at odds with others due to different choices indicates insecurity at best, competition at worst. Noone wins at those types of games.

Monday, August 13, 2007

What exactly is in that basket anyway?

A snippet of Pooh Bear's homeschool day...
We read The Brother's Grimm Little Red Riding Hood together. Afterward, she skipped off to make popsicle stick puppets to reinact the story. Pooh prompted me to meet her in the bathroom (?!) for the fabulous show. She thought the tub provided a secret place for her to hide while the six year old narrator and her characters spoke the well rehearsed lines, "And Red Riding Hood took some beer and bread to her sick grandma."

"Beer? Did you say beer, girly?" I questioned.

"Oh, I think I meant wine. Does beer or wine make you feel better, Mom?"

I pose this serious question to readers of my blog. What say you?

I don't have a leg to stand on as I am the most lame drinker of all- half a glass of any alcoholic beverage makes the universe wildly spin for me.

Buck woke the children in the middle of the night, one by one, to watch the meteor showers last night. Each had a chance to share a falling star with their daddy. I have poor night vision, and though I laid alone for quite some time on the sidewalk, still warm from the sweltering noon temperatures yesterday, I couldn't see more than the beauty of a star speckled night sky.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Claire, a friend who shares a beautiful vision for parenting at which I'd like to become better, asked my son Tater to list the lessons he learned at Children's International Summer Village. He told her he would, but I was skeptical that he'd ever follow through on writing it down. I was wrong and pleasantly surprised. Tater gave me permission to copy the things he shared with Claire with you, my blogfriends.

Eleven Year Old Wisdom

1. To lead, you must first follow.
2. It is far better to give than to receive.
3. Peace is better than an argument.
4. When someone holds false testimony against you, listen with a peaceful heart. Then when he is finished, in a peaceful way, show him his fault, that you didn't do what he says you did.
5. Take responsibility no matter what!
6. Listen to Authority. Parents, leaders, God! Listen even if it means giving up all you have.
7. Go out of your way to help people.

This is all I can think of right now, Miss Claire. I have to go to dinner. I will tell you if I remember more.

Claire called to thank him, "There are many adults out there who haven't learned these lessons yet, so you are really ahead of the game, young man. I'm so proud of you."

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

An Eye Opener

Maybe it's time I stopped dying my hair red and go for the natural greys and white. After all, the three giggling young girls following Tater around at the pool asked him about me, "Is she your grandma?" Grandma? What? You must be kidding me!

The truth is that I am the same age as Tater's birth grandmother. I suppose these 13-year-old whipper snappers, shamelessly begging me for my boy's real name and phone number, have mothers who may have been teens when they were born.

I learned quickly how to deal with pesky hormonal young men as a teenager. However, I haven't been on the side of the coin where boy crazy teens are pursuing my son.

Buck and I hung out with all our children in the diving pool, so I overheard much of the conversation. The girls had no idea we were his parents at first, so they flirted quite openly until he let the cat out of the bag that we were, in fact, his folks. "No way! You don't look anything like those people. Either you are joking, or you are adopted!" one girl exclaimed.
Tater shot me a hilarious smile and said, "Yep, I'm adopted."
"Awww. How sad!" the girl immediately retorted.
Tater rolled his glimmering eyes at me and laughed again, "What exactly is sad about it? These are my parents." They shot him some direct, "Where is your real mother" questions.
"She took off when I was really little, but I'm not sad" he replied.

Years ago, he spent lots of time being sad for her, but no longer. Tater and I made a plan for the distant future when he's old enough to handle whatever we find when we find her.

What of this inexplicable phenomenon of Tater with an uninvited entourage of silly girls trailing behind? I whispered a 50 meter fly swim challenge in his ear, and they tagged along unsolicited. My serious defeat only reinforced my elderly status. All I can say is I'm glad the boy can't lap me, yet.

Any sage wisdom for a crotchety old mother entering uncharted waters of matters of the opposite sex?

Sunday, August 05, 2007


I’ve just been “tagged” by Almost.

The rules of tagging:

1. Post these rules before you give your facts.
2. List 8 random facts about yourself.
3. At the end of your post, choose (tag) 8 people and list their names (linking to them). Consider yourself tagged if you are interested.
4. Leave them a comment on their blog letting them know they’ve been tagged!

8 Random Facts About Me:

1. I do not like donuts. Never will. I am completely fine with all other things sweet and deep fried.
2. I'm an excellent student, but I perform dreadfully on standardized tests. I've come to the conclusion I'm weak in this area due to a serious lack of critical thinking skills.
3. I only cuss when I'm doing my own challenging home improvement projects like painting or hanging wallpaper. I know it's a poor character issue. I don't have too many opportunities to work on it as our house is in fairly good order just now.
4. It's been 13 years, since I've earned an income.
5. People don't believe me when I explain I'm painfully introverted, but I am.
6. I don't have an answering machine and don't do well with figuring out voicemail on my cellphone.
7. I secretly wish the author Barbara Kingsolver reads my blog, because she digs my writing.
8. I had plenty of cellulite long before I gave birth to my children.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Vyne Family Update

My 11-year-old Tater returned home from his Children's International Summer Village Thursday night. When asked about his favorite part of the trip, he answered in a dream-like trance, "Josefin." Yep, he has a crush on an 11-year-old girl from Sweden. Who wouldn't? In addition to several photos of Josefin, he has pictures of friends he made from India, Thailand, Canada, France, Romania, and more I can't think of just now. Tater also has photos from a sight-seeing around France. He continues to share story after story about his experience.

I began homeschool with my other three children on Tuesday, but I gave Tater permission to crash yesterday if he was too exhausted to study. Instead, he jumped right into his assignments and sorting through all the trinkets he brought home.

BTW, he loves his room makeover, but I can't post pictures with blogger again.

This week I took 6-year-old Pooh Bear to my humming dentist, who only serves polite non-squirming children, for a pulpectomy. Yikes! She'd had an abscessed tooth. Stuff like this makes me feel like a bad mommy.

Pooh Bear likes the part of school which involves cutting out orange construction paper pumpkins and having Cinderella read to her. The work of homeschooling, she could do without. She is the only first grade homeschooler on earth who has a terrible time with reading, so we are hitting auditory processing hard again this year. She did not have the benefit of Montessori preschool which her three brothers did, and it really shows. This also make me feel like a terrible mom.

Peace, my new teenager, has begun school with a positive attitude for the first time in a long time. He's not a delighted about academics. To make my life easier, I've given him assignments to read A Child's History of the World aloud to everyone and make up Friday test questions from the reading. Science is his strength, so Peace also must come up with science experiments for the gang once a week. Of course, he started by making a volcano with vinegar and baking soda.

Wise One, the 10-year-old motivated student, whole-heartedly embraces school. He sets his alarm, goes right to his farm chores, eats breakfasts, walks into the homeschool room, picks up his books, and begins working. Every mother of four needs one child like this to asuage the guilt of cavities and educational oversights.

Buck continues to work a mandatory 6 day work week. He and others are training new air traffic controllers at his facility, so in about three years- no joke, the new guys will be certified. Insert eye roll here in honor of our government's lack of preparation.

As for me, luscious red tomatoes flood my kitchen counter and dangle ripening on the vine. Besides eating as many as humanly possible, I've begun making and freezing red sauce with my super duper simple recipe. Yesterday while collecting oregano from my spice garden for the sauce, my legs became covered with an entire ant colony I'd interrupted. Fortunately, they didn't bite, and I was able to simply brush them off. I'm also pulling myself together for a course I begin teaching near the end of the month.

So, what are you up to?