Monday, March 31, 2008

Six Word Memoir

Almost tagged me to write a six word memoir. Tomorrow is my birthday so here's my memoir:

Will I be smarter at 42?

Six people I tag to write their own six word memoir:

Kat at The Secret Life of Kat
Thicket at Todays Lessons
Scott at The Glory of Everything
John at Locusts and Honey
Fancy at The Fancy Pants Factory
Amber at Homeschool Diva

Play along if you like by writing your own and tagging five more bloggers.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Off to Fall Creek Falls for a day hike. Catch ya later.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Buck tilled my garden over the weekend, and now chickens wander, scratch, and dust bathe all through it. Nothing planted yet though I should have sown at least few sugar snap peas and spinach. I'll make the hour trip to Stanley's Green house in a few weeks instead of sprouting from seeds. Except beans, watermelons, and flowers. Anyone can grow vines and flowers from seeds. When it gets warm again (yesterday it spit snow), I'll form the garden paths with my clay tiles and stones. I always say gardening is much more about art, so straight rows just won't do.
Won't be long till we start seeing baby chicks following momma hens again. Or hear them peeping from the hayloft. No matter how many times I've seen a baby chick, I'm still astonished by the cute factor of walking yellow fuzz balls.
When danger of frost is gone, it's time for the academics of home school to come to a close. We start in July and end in late April or early May. Tater is behind everyone else, because his trip last summer got him started late. I relish the free time away from the school books. In between swim team, I'll do the projects I put off during the school year. Here are some of my summer projects besides gardening:
1. Adopt a minimalist vision for my garage. Again.
2. Wrestle my unruly walk in closet. Again.
3. Help each child declutter their rooms. Again.
4. Take two of my children to vision therapy every two weeks an hour and a half away.
5. Work on a workbook regarding adoption issues with a friend for my son. We're developing a beautiful plan in the making to further draw him into our family. He keeps his precious heart at a tentative distance at present without even knowing it.
6. I'd like to find botanical and bird wallpaper for my kitchen and redo the counter tops, but wallpaper is altogether out of fashion. And how could anyone match the picture in my mind's eye? I can't decide on counter tops, mostly because of the expense.
7. All three boys will attend scout camp, and I asked Helen to consider keeping Pooh Bear so Buck and I could have some time.
8. Peace goes to New York this summer.
9. New flooring for the home school room would be gravy, but probably unachievable.
10. Visit Dollywood several times with our season's passes we got for Christmas.
11. Catch up with friends and family we don't see much during the school year.
12. Consider service projects.

After five year here on our pretend farm, I'm hitting my rhythm. Steady, not frenetic. That wouldn't do, and my relationships couldn't withstand it.

Must not get to wrapped up in the future when it's time to seize the moment of homeschool now. Off to hit the books. And laundry.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

May the morning star
which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all people,
your Son who lives and reigns forever.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


Here's how I know I may have gone to Starbucks a little too often this past winter. A hip college aged girl approached me from out of nowhere in a school building and spoke in a chipper sweet voice, "Hey, I know you. You order a tall black and white hot chocolate with a squirt of cinnamon dulche' at Starbucks, right? My name is Austen. What's yours?"

Oh, dear. Makes me feel guilty about the children of Compassion I could have sponsored with that money.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Currently admiring the new space on my home school bookshelves. Don't worry. It won't last long.

I'm thinking of decluttering the homeschool room today. This job never goes well for me, because in order to declutter, I must get rid of books. I tend to want to hang on to books. What if I eventually need the book for some unknown upcoming project in the next fifty years? I am sure the Loudon County Library would not have it, since it's book collection is about the same size as mine. I think it would be easier for me to part with a body part than a book. I probably should have been a librarian instead of a mother. Wish me luck.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Not what I wanted to hear

Pooh Bear announced that her brand new white Easter shoes were great for climbing very tall trees.
I have a quandary, a good one this time, that I'd like to get out from inside me through blogging. Yesterday (and both had to happen on the same day), I attended a meeting about an excellent classical high school homeschool co-op which is coming together beautifully and approval of acceptance letter into a wonderful new public high school academy opening in another county. Peace, my oldest son, enters high school next year, so I've been stewing over these possibilities for a good long while. Both top choices became reality on the same day.

Classical co-op option
-Has the most rigorous course of study ensuring a willing child's path to college and scholarship.
-Matches the heart of my educational philosophy.
-Instructors of the highest caliber. One is a personal friend whom I admire greatly.
-My favorite course mixes history, English, and Bible in an Omnibus type setting. This is not offered anywhere else in this region.

-Costs several thousand dollars.
-Only two days a week in class instruction. I'd have to teach the other three days.
-VERY long academic days as son adjusts to intensive study

Public Academy Option
-FREE, all courses, all books, no mandatory hours of volunteering for momma
-Outstanding principal with innovative and progressive ideas. I've known her top notch work and incredible reputation for years as she was previously principal in the zone in which I used to live. No nonsense tolerated.
-College prep, advanced, and honors courses recommended.
-Fine arts.
-Brand new school building.
-Best teachers from all over are applying to teach there.
-Five days of instruction from people who know and hopefully enjoy what they are teaching.
-Keyboarding course.
-Clubs, sports.
-Even starting ground for all. No cliques already developed. Everyone new to the layout of the building. Culture to be developed with a high academic standard from the start.
-No upper grades until next year.
-I know some great families sending their children next year.

-Need for a cellphone.
-Need for something more than just the second hand clothing our son has always worn.
-May not accept transfers after this first year.
-End of homeschool read alouds and Bible study.

I have a concern that Peace needs to learn more of the bigger world than the co-op will offer. Doesn't that sound outrageous? I don't worry he'll fall into anything negative, because he stays clear of "goof offs and trouble makers" in all the academic classes and activities outside our home. In fact, I excitedly mentioned seeing a boy from last year's co-op at the Public Academy, and Peace responded, "Mom, that kid is not someone I'd want to hang out with. He was disrespectful and disruptive in class."

Some of my homeschooling friends may not understand why I would consider public school. High school is not something I want or like to teach. It would completely consume me, because my boys are not naturally self-directed learners. Could be bad parenting and homeschooling on my part, but I've had to stay on top of my children to keep them studying from the beginning. Could be that I have a slew of boys who would prefer to catch frogs to composition. Probably a little of both. As much as I love the idea of "delight directed learning" I haven't had the chutzpa to pull it off. My answer to all things challenging is putting on discipline, so that's how my family has accomplished homeschooling thus far.

Some of my other friends and family members have never understood why we have homeschooled. All I can say to that is my children have begged me to do so, and Buck has agreed. Homeschooling is neither easy or especially fun for me, but it's been worth it for the children. I intend to homeschool the other three children next year. We'll see what comes of these two options for Peace.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Me ma called this evening and sounded remarkably great. She told me her day started off horribly, but she's well on her way to something better. She spoke to each of my children just like she's done forever. Pooh Bear mentioned her new white Easter sandals. Tater and Wise One told her about the Wii game Zelda. Peace made a special effort to tell her, "You sound just like yourself now! Not like you just had brain surgery. I'm so glad to hear you sound good now."

I probably won't have another terrifying nightmare like I did last night where my mother was in excruciating pain and no one would listen to her as she cried out. Tonight maybe I'll dream about something incredibly sappy like unicorns, rainbows, and Teddy Bears.

To those whom have been so kind as to pray for her: your prayers seem to be making a difference. God, Our Healer, be praised.

China, the world is watching Tibet. Again. Please don't disappoint us.

Update on my ma

I found myself chatting on the phone late last night until 12:25. My mother has lost track of time and couldn't pull it together to call me until then. She's still not eating and now not drinking, so she's now dehydrated. Her blood pressure has dropped, and she is not allowed pain medication. We discussed things she's been worried about long before the surgery. I begged her to voice her concerns but to try and lay them down for now. I planted a seed that if she's still declining that it's time to look at a rehabilitation hospital to get her up to speed. She agreed, but I don't know that she can hang onto the thought. I'll speak with her husband about it. We'll see what today holds in store.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Kat's fun music geneaology

Kat posed these fun music genealogy questions today. Check them out here

1. What was the first album you remember buying?

The first album I ever bought was Tommy by the Who. I promise I had no idea as a fourth grader what I was singing when I memorized all the songs- especially the nasty Tina Turner song about sexual healing and the one about the perverted Uncle. Sheesh! What exactly were my parent's thinking when they let me buy that?

My first concert ever in junior high was Rick Springfield, who appeared and performed recently on Oprah. Yawn.

The first eight track, oh my goodness, yes, eight track, I listened to was my step father's Sweet Baby James by James Taylor. I still love that music.

2. Who were the significant artists/songs/albums during your childhood/high school/college years?

In junior high, I dug Styx. Owned all their albums. The commercials with Mr. Roboto now crack me up.

In high school, I became a huge guitar ballad fan through guitar playing fools who favored Dan Fogelburg, James Taylor, Billy Joel, REM. We hung out on weekends, cooked spaghetti, and endlessly sang "The Reach", "Fire and Rain", "Sadness or Euphoria","Locomotive 8" until we were perfectly hoarse. One of these high school hang out buddies is still a musician while also holding the respectable job as head of the French Department at a major university, Ritt Deitz. He still writes and sings his own tuneage too.

I was also in on the ground floor of Contemporary Christian music. Try not to laugh, but Evie and Jim Neighbors were my first two Christian albums. Next came the 77's, Russ Taff, Joni Erikson (did you know she recorded an album?), and Petra. Bless all their 80's hearts. My friend Rhea and I joined a Christian music club to score these magical tunes, but I think Rhea ended up paying for the tapes. You couldn't pay me to listen to any of that now. Thank God for David Crowder, Charlie Hall, Tim Hughes, and Matt Redman.

As for college, I feel head over heals for Peter Gabriel's lyrics after attending his So concert. Ricky Lee Jones enchanted me. The Cure and New Order introduced me to great dance music. Then there was my husband's crazy band.

3. What are the connections between the various artists in your musical geneology?
My favorite songs are still long slow guitar ballads like "It's been a While" Stained, "Everything" Lifehouse, "Higher" and "Hold Me Now" Creed, "Breathing the Breath" Matt Redman, "All I Can Say" David Crowder, "Gone" John Mayer. I attribute my particular affinity for men and guitars to the influence of all those hours of misspent youth with my high school friends.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Truth About Horton

Hey~! I'm mad at the makers of Horton Hears a Who. The "bad guy", a sour mother kangaroo, dis'ed home schoolers in her second statement of the movie. Something about pouch schooling her son to keep him away from the riff raff. I had a hard time with the entire rest of the film because of it. Her comment made me skeptical on behalf of all homeschoolers, liberal to conservative, and kept me looking for other agendas.

However, my children enjoyed the movie and didn't even seem to notice.

And I LOVE the Dr. Seuss book. The theme of "every person is a person, no matter how small" is one close to my heart. Why did they have to ruin the story for me?
I finished off the third and last book of the Hawk and the Dove Trilogy, The Long Fall, on the plane. The words felt like preparation for the days which followed. It's funny how fiction can move me into self examination. Turbulence prohibited passengers from moving about the cabin, so I was stuck buckled in my seat wiping tears and snot consecutively on my sleeves as I sobbed. I was so connected to the characters, I felt like I was losing a dear friend, though I won't spoil any of it for anyone who has yet to read these profound books. I would have put down the book if I could have, so as not to make a spectacle of myself. However, the power of story and the anonymity of being on a plane with complete strangers made picking up a leftover copy of People in the magazine holder in the seat pocket in front of me instead of The Long Fall inconceivable.

I tried literally for years to read these books without success, but I am certain it was something divine saving the Hawk and the Dove for this particular time in my life. This is literature and insight into humanity at their very best.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Muddled Days

Days and nights have blurred together for me. Once they put my mother in a hospital room, I was able to spend every moment with her for the last three days. No wifi allowed in the rooms, so no updates till now. Her short term memory has returned in part, but I see it coming and going...probably has something to do with pain killers and a misfiring brain.

Anyhow, she got strong enough to walk with help, so she was able to go home today to recover for a full month. Her husband will have his work cut out for him. God bless him.

I hated to leave my mom looking so frail, but I flew home today to the arms of the my delightful family. And not a moment too soon for Pooh Bear. She cried on the phone last night begging for me to hurry home.

I'll welcome sleep in my own bed tonight, but Mom's husband told me she refused to eat all day. I call and begged her over the phone to try. She also started having auras (seeing patterns which were not really present) last night- pre-seizure brain activity.

If you're the praying kind, keep 'em coming.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A quick update for you dear hearts, like Almost, kat and anonymous. Thank you for your amazing kind words and prayers. My mom is progressing though it's not an easy road. She has no short term memory at this point, so she's asking repetitive questions. It scares me. I'm miffed with the hospital for not being forthright about care. My mother told me to expect she'd stay a few hours in recovery, proceed to an ICU room for a few days then to a regular hospital room and home maybe by Friday. The problem is that noone warned us that the hospital is overcrowded and the day after surgery still no ICU room, which is outfitted for the comfort of the family, is available. This severely limits my ability to visit her as she's still in recovery on the second day! It seems the job of the recovery room keepers is to keep the family away, so noone's hippa rights are violated by visitors. Arghh! The nurse this morning had great compassion for me and hid me from the recovery room keepers next to my mother for over an hour. To my horror, the good nurse was trying to feed my mom oatmeal, a much depised food to me ma's palate. Before the surgery, my mom said, "Tell the nurses if they try to feed me jello, oatmeal, or applesauce, I might just forget my manners and spit it in their face." The nurse was very concerned that my mom keep down food, but I suggested chocolate pudding might get a much better response than gagging oatmeal. It did, of course. I spent the rest of the day sitting in the horrible same chairs, begging for a peek at my mother and a chance to talk to the surgeon. The night nurse sent for me, because she couldn't get my mom to eat the unattractive and unappetizing chicken pot pie (maybe?). Hello! I again suggested the desperate measure of chocolate pudding and coke which the nurse let me feed her. Finally after one more ten minute visit, the keepers insisted on no visitation past 8:30 p.m., and sent me packing.
The surgeon called me at 9:30 to update me. He said the short term memory loss was common for a week, and he said it might be more long term. He apologized for not telling us ahead of time about the overcrowding issue. He kindly said he'd warn his patients in the future. Jolly good. He told me maybe by Thursday mom will be walking down the hall. Oh, yeah. That's what I'm talkin' about.
My answered prayers today have been the compassionate nurse and the doctor taking the time to call. I suspect he'd been there since 7:00 or earlier and called so late at night at his earliest opportunity.
Still praying for an ICU room tomorrow and the return of short term memory quickly and completely.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Church of the Pines

i woke up yesterday with the dread of today consuming every corner of my brain. "It's Sunday. i'll find a little way to do church on my own," i thought.
So, i slapped on my running shoes and sought the Lord about how to observe the Sabbath in this unfamiliar town. On my ipod, i cued up the ten minute version of "Where you go I go" by Brian Johnson as a spiritual and physical warm up. Great for focusing on obedience in prayer, so i listened again and contemplated,"Not my will,but Yours." My attention was drawn to the pine trees as i plodded. i selected a tree on my running path as Cathedral i'd return to at the end of the running church excursion. i then asked, "God, what is that my mom and i need?" EVERYTHING. EVERYTHING flashed across my mind, so i cued up my ipod to "Everything". David Crowder sang to me, feet pounding to the pace, something i desperately needed to hear, "You make everything glorious, and I am yours." Next Tim Hughes cut to my soul with "Christ in me. Christ in me. The hope of glory. You are everything!" as it became harder to keep my breathing steady.
The grand finale blasted Lifehouse "Everything" which took my sweaty body all the way back to the chosen tree. i wrapped my arms around the massive trunk of the pine and connected with my Father. "Find me here. and speak to me. i need to feel you." i took in the sweet smell of sap and fingered the soft texture of the needles tenderly.
"i need to hear you." Oh, yes i do! "You are the light that's leading me to the place where i find peace again." Peace!
i looked through the arch of my pine tree cathedral to the perfect blue sky dotted with exquisite white clouds. "How could i stand here with you, and not be moved by you? Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?"

"You're all i want. You're all i need. Everthing! Everything!" This experience of intimacy comforted me like nothing or noone else.

i was moved and grateful to share this holy moment with Him in the midst of my emotional storm.


Solemnly talking living will and surrogate care wishes with my mother and her husband last night.

Getting up at 3:30 a.m. for a quick shower and dashing out the door for an all day vigil at the hospital.

Hugging and "I love you's" and comfort for a broken heart yearning for someone not present as the gurney rolls my mother away for six intense hours of brain surgery.

Sitting endlessly in chairs in a sterile unbeautiful waiting room with no windows or plants.

Discussing with one of the top neurosurgeons in the country about the odd and complicated aneurysm now clipped, safe, and secure.

Visiting three precious minutes with my mother, head sewn ear to opposite eye at the hairline, one eye horribly swollen and bloody, IV port in the neck.

Whispering, barely audible "Cold." "Headache." "Headache." "Headache." "Feet." and a final "I love you."

Praying for peace and comfort.

Navigating a new and complicated city alone.

I thought surgery would be the worst of it. Now I quite certain the worst of it will be recovery.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I was graduated from the finest school, which is that of the love between parent and child. Though the world is constructed to serve glory, success, and strength, one loves one's parents and one's children despite their failings and weaknesses-- sometimes even more on account of them. In this school you learn the measure not of power, but of love; not of victory, but of grace; not of triumph, but of forgiveness. You learn as well, and sometimes, as I did, you learn early, that love can overcome death, and that what is required of you in this is memory and devotion. Memory and devotion. To keep your love alive you must be willing to be obstinate, and irrational, and true, to fashion your entire life as a construct, a metaphor, a fiction, a device for the exercise of faith. Without this, you will live like a beast and have nothing but an aching heart. With it, your heart, though broken, will be full and you will stay in the fight unto the very last.

Mark Helprin from Memoir from Antproof Case

Healthy Eating Families

Parent's University at Kat's focuses on healthy eating today. My children are healthy eaters for the most part. I made moosauka for dinner last night and every child ate some, eggplant and all. They enjoy most all food, including spinach, broccoli, and salad.

I educated myself when my sons were little about the goodness of whole foods. I joined an organic food cooperative until grocery stores caught on to the healthier trends.

Beginning at the age of 38, I've learned to grind wheat to make fresh bread, keep amusing dairy goats for milk, garden for beautiful veggies, and tend hilarious chickens for fresh free range eggs all in the past four years. Before age 38, I had an arrogant city girl disregard, yes apathy, for the source of my food. I gained more respect and admiration for My Creator and His creation, and for the fine folks who contribute to our grocery stores once I began to participate in a more self-sustainable life.

Today I'm going to split me wide open, so you can look on the inside. I'll take the zipper from my forehead to the end of my big toe and pull down quickly. I've purposely kept my innermost thoughts off my blog for the last few months, because I have been afraid to form my pain into words. Next Monday, a surgeon in Tampa will shave my mother's head, cut a rather large "c" shape into her skull, pry open her cranium, carefully and skillfully cut down into her brain, and clamp a life threatening brain aneurysm. I know the particular details of it because I watched a video of the procedure. Every time I think of this happening to my ma I gasp for breath. She anticipates a full recovery in one month, but we know full well the serious risks. She and I have dialogued through the tough "what if" questions over the months of waiting for the surgery- unpleasant questions like, "What are your wishes should you become debilitated in some way?". We'll have time for more if need be as I'm able to go be with her this weekend before.

Mom was diagnosed at the end of October,and the wait for care has kept us on eggshells. She got second opinions and smartly shopped for a the best surgeon in her region. Read anything on untreated brain aneurysms, you'll get the feeling it's a ticking time bomb. I'm dumbfounded and amazed that the surgeons wouldn't have rushed into surgery the day after the problem was found.

I'm grateful that my mother and I have come through the distance of strained relationship to a place of tenderness. It's the grace of God I can lay down the past and walk in friendship with my mom into this challenging week ahead.

She'll be in ICU for at least 2 days if not more and a few days in hospital following ICU. I visited my aunt (on my dad's side- not great genetic news for me on either side) just after she's had two brain aneurysms repaired, and I remember her just asking me to sit quietly and hold her hand, because her head ached and throbbed so terribly. It's daunting to think of my mother in great discomfort.

By another miraculous act of God, Buck was able to get the week off to take care of our children at home. My mother won't be up for the constant noise and chaos of four children for a bit. Either way, the children have achievement tests and classes which they must stay in town to attend.

If you are so moved, please keep us in your prayers. If you are a local friend, give Buck a call and see how he's doing while I'm gone. His schedule and tasks are numerous. Thanks and God bless for Helen for keeping Pooh Bear for a few days.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I'm fairly certain my children held a secret essay writing contest in our van and didn't tell me about it. When I was cleaning out the trash from the vehicle this morning, I found fifty two pens and pencils scattered front to back.

I wonder who won?

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Here's what I'll be doing for the next three days.

Here's why.