Tuesday, August 31

A beautiful day!

Oh, today was great! We watched airplanes taking off just a mere 100 yards from us (John was nearly knocked down by the blast- that is an incredible sensation!) We watched several planes (yes, "airplane" is about as detailed as I can get when it comes to aircraft- most had jet engines, some had propellers- beyond that, you're on your own) taxi down the runway and take off, then got to see three catapult shots. The boys compared the differences, and were awed by the power of science. (I was a wee bit antsy about being that close to the military equivalent of the big station wagon with "Student Driver" written on the doors!) We watched several touch 'n go maneuvers, discussed runway lighting and control towers, thorougly enjoyed the process (*really* wanted to go talk to the crew with our thousand and one questions when they were done, too! *grin*)

We met Zorak for lunch, talked pizza and politics, enjoyed the scenic route taking him back to work, and then headed to the market.

Sometimes you just run into incredibly delightful people at the market! Today the lady stocking the produce was one such person. She was so helpful at first, and then so involved. She cut open new items and let the boys taste them. She dug through the Produce Guide with the boys to learn new things. We went in for bread, milk and creamer. We left with red bananas, tamarinda beans, some kind of pasta thingy that you fry like Fry Bread (we're going to try that tonight!)... and, of course, milk, bread and creamer.

People who say children won't learn by reading, reading, reading just haven't paid attention. James spotted the red bananas and immediately went into a lengthy explanation of how bananas are herbs, not trees, how they "sport" and create new varieties- often with no reason or forewarning. John listed several different types of lesser known bananas. Then they went into other edible plants- spotted the nopalitos and asked about the cactus pears... it just goes on and on. I love being able to apply and explore the things we've read.

Ryan- thank you for your comments. I'm actually not really blogging right now (shhh- I'm making pasta *grin*) but I appreciate hearing from you and will give your question the attention it deserves soon. I just had to come rave about our wonderful day- and now it's back to making sauce and attending to a cranky, teething baby.

Enjoy your day, all!

Oh, goodness.

This isn't what I'd planned for this morning's blog. Blew way too much time doing research, and it's not even a chipper blog. However, my curiosity was piqued and I just had to sniff around. Tomorrow's blog will be 100% politic-free!

On average, nearly 40.9 (±0.7) million people were poor in a given month in 1996, representing an average monthly poverty rate of 15.5 (±0.3) percent. By 1999, the number of people who were poor fell to 34.8 (±0.8) million, indicating an average monthly poverty rate of 12.8 (±0.3) percent in that year.

The official poverty rate in 2003 was 12.5 percent, up from 12.1 percent in 2002.

Yes, it's "up" now, but still certainly lower than during previous administrations. :-) (emphasis mine)

It's interesting how little change, relatively, there has been in median household income, considering how many households have become one-income in recent years, a big switch from the two-income heyday of the 70's and 80's...

And certainly the National Debt has increased greatly (to everyone's dismay, I would guess), but there's a lot more to it than one President's spending sprees.

No, I'm certainly not going to vote based on the endorsement of one "fringe" group, so to speak. (Although it does bother me, but so does Kerry's voting record in Congress.) I also look at what are, to me, "key" issues:
* freedom from encroaching medical regulations (Edwards has actually been a main player in eradicating medical freedom and choices during his private practice)
* freedom from government intrusion in home education (which Kerry hasn't taken a stand on, and any comment from any politician that includes subjective terms such as "reasonable" is automatically suspect)
* remaining soverign and distinct from the UN (Kerry's not a big fan of that idea)
* freedom for citizens to live their lives in accordance with the constitution in (to be honest, both candidates fall seriously short on this issue- although Kerry is far more venemous in his patterns)

I don't want a candidate who "couldn't think" for a full 30 minutes after the 9/11 attacks. (Kerry's words)

I don't want a candidate who feels (and votes) that I'm just too ignorant to know what's best for my home and family. Sadly, the Democratic platform takes that stance. I have some wonderful people in my life who are Democrats, and this isn't a party-bashing session by any means. I'm not even a Republican. This is about what the basis is for the form of government and how we each view it. I'm thankful that we live in a country where it's a right, not a priviledge, to have a say in how the government is run. I'd also like to keep it that way.

I know that the Republican party has been accused of being a great hiding spot for the mean and the ignorant, but those are generally by the same folks who insist that we, as a nation, need to submit to the full Supreme Authority of the UN- and in the same breath tout the "soverignty" of Afghanistan as a nation. Are nations Soverign or are they Subjects of the UN? Other nations are soverign, but the US needs to continue to be the UN's class bully- it's ok for the US to use its troops when the UN snaps its collective fingers and shouts "get 'em, Boy!" but not at any other time. Perhaps if the same people who are so angry with Bush for this current situation had not held their tongues and stood firmly behind Clinton during Somalia and the various other "campaigns" he launched, I'd be less cynical.

Whether I'm for or against the war we're in right now is moot. I cannot stop it, but I can vote for the candidate who will do the least amount of damage (both foreign and domestic) in the long run, and while I truly believe that we're in a great big handbasket with either major party right now, I do feel Bush needs to see this through. I feel Kerry would botch any progress that has been made, and he will neuter the US before the UN in a heartbeat if it'll secure his position in any way possible. I feel he will support domestic policy that will only contribute to further dependence on, and inability to get away from, government aid. I haven't heard anything from him as to his plans or details, other than the rhetoric that's been displayed for us to "picture a nation that does not have to wake up to a President Bush"... well, believe it or not, there are worse things...

Kerry's voting and attendance record are beyond dismal, and they do not instill the image of a leader in any sense other than "blueblood aristocracy", which, really guys, I just don't aspire to be "Head Serf" for the Feds.

So, while it may be easy to say this group or that group doesn't hold any clout and its input shouldn't be given any weight, I found it to be just one more item to add to the stumbling, overburdened camel. That's all.

As for the "rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer", that's going to have to be another blog. More government intervention simply is not, cannot, will not, and doesn't have a hope in hades of ever changing that. I'll expound on that one later, though. Right now, I'm off to try to catch some catapult shots with the boys!

Have a great day!

Monday, August 30

I did it!

Look, it's before eight and I'm blogging! Unfortunately, I blew my computer time this morning reading articles over at Lew Rockwell's place. Interesting one on New Saxon!

Did y'all know that Kerry has the endorsement of the American Communist Party? Does this bother anyone but me? Call me silly, but, well, there's something very wrong about electing a man who has a record that gives these guys warm fuzzies.

Anyhow, we're stuck at home today. Zorak's motorcycle keys fell victim to my rampant rearranging over the weekend and they are either in hiding or suffering from a traumatic stress disorder and didn't feel they were "safe" yet. We're going to call in a bloodhound and a negotiator this afternoon to see if we can lure them out (or tree 'em, I don't care which.) I wouldn't mind, really... if I'd gone to the libarary over the weekend like I should have done. *grin*

I'm going to go make pancakes and wake the boys to a treat. See you tomorrow! (And it's looking like that might be a real possibility!)


Sunday, August 29

The Schedule is Filling Up, and the Boys Are Growing Up!

I'm not entirely certain this is such a good thing, but we'll give it a shot! Both of the older boys begin Kinder Choir next Sunday evening. Their Spanish lessons begin on the 9th. We've added a once-a-week formal craft session with the Wonderful Neighbors (a directed, "on purpose" craft time, as opposed to the oh, look, I have string, paper, beans... hmmm, oh! Tape! I need TAPE! sessions that seem to happen daily in spite of my best efforts)- I think those will be on Tuesdays. Add in swimming once a week, and that's a fairly full week! (I wanted to do swim three times a week, but burst into peals of laughter when I tried to find spots to put it.) I'm very happy if we only get in the car once a week. Three times, I can handle, but it doesn't make me chipper. *shudder* This morning thing better start working, and soon!

The WTM forums are still down... This is worse than the Upsaid Outage of '03!! I feel for Dear Webmaster, though, and am not about to pester the poor staff with the same questions that have undoubtedly come flying in over the past few days. (Still, if anyone knows what happened... feel free to share!)

Had a wonderful day today with the boys. Today was Promotion Sunday. James was disappointed that he lost his beloved teacher from the first class, but is thrilled with the 1st/2nd grade class. It's a husband/wife team, and they are very gentle souls. I think he will thrive in that environment. It's a wonderful thing that we moved John to the 4 year-old class in June, as that gave him time to adjust. (James jumps in, with both guns blazing. John makes everyone else jump in first then wades leisurely into his new environment.) He saw the teacher he knows and loves and when they called his name, I didn't get so much as a beso from him before he bolted up with his class. Jacob stood backward in his chair and smiled at our music director, who sat there and smiled back at him. It was a very happy time. He nearly gave himself a seizure when I broke out the raisins, though, and let me tell ya, the delighted squeal of a happy baby rings quite loudly in a tiled sanctuary. Boy, am I ever glad we found a family-friendly church!

We came home, had enchiladas for lunch, then spread out sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, and animal crackers in the living room and watched Brother Bear. We all napped for a bit. Then, refreshed and happy, we wrestled and played, built bridges and sang for several hours.

It's now nine o'clock. Everyone else is in bed, so I'm going to grab a fresh cup of coffee and blog run for a bit before bed. Tomorrow starts a fresh week, and what a wonderful week it will be! See you in the morning.


Shhh... I'm not really blogging.

It's almost three in the morning, and Zorak and I are supposed to be asleep... so pretend you don't see me, ok?

Anyhow, been a busy day, but mostly I had to share this story from today. James wrote another wonderful story. Our discussion during his reading of it went like this:

James: (opening the first page of The Beautiful Rainbow; A Picture Book)
"Once upon a time, there was a lovely rainbow that lived for many years..."
*flips page: page 2 has a picture of a boy crumpling up the rainbow into a multi-colored ball*
"One day, in the third year of the Rainbow's living, a mean boy came and crushed the Rainbow into a ball. He carried it off, thinking to himself, 'I will take this to my Mother. She will love it.' "

Me: Um, why is he mean if he's thinking of his mother?
James: Oh, well that's the conflict in the story. He's thinking of his mother, but he's taking the rainbow away from everyone else.
Me: Ohhhhhhh...
"Along the way, the Rainbow fell from his pocket. He wondered where it had gone."
*flips to page 3: the Rainbow-ball bounces across the page and a bubbled voice over from the right hand side says, "Where'd it go?"*
"The boy didn't realize the Rainbow had gone right back where it belonged, and there it lived..."
*flip: The Rainbow is now back in arch formation across page 4*
"...for the rest of its many years."

Yup, a good story simply must have conflict.

Have a lovely Sunday, all!

Saturday, August 28

Pfftt. Yeah, well, this is going well, I think...

Wizard and Glass, Book IV from The Dark Tower series... um, reads more like a soft-core... erm... romance novel than a good Western. I'm glad it's over. Now I just have the very last book to read and then Roland's quest for the Dark Tower will be over, the future of his ka-tet, Mid-World, and all other worlds, will be decided. Whew. The Dark Tower series is rather like that bizarre concoction someone inevitably brings to the pot luck. It's usually green, or whipped, sometimes both. You've seen variations on it and didn't necessarily enjoy them, but this looks different somehow. So you try it, and it's, well, it's weird, but good. Very good (except for the occasional crunchy bit... what is that, anyway?) You end up eating most of it- it's bereft of nutritional value and you don't even want the recipe, but you know you'll hog most of it the next time it's on the table.

Yesterday we headed to Annapolis for Zorak's motorcycle road test. You must have an appointment to take the test. His appointment was at twelve thirty. At one forty-five, he finally rode the course. The test took less than ten minutes. We were out of there at four PM, motorcycle endorsement in hand. Yes, friends and neighbors, only three and a half hours to administer a ten minute scheduled appointment! The government is so efficient and well-run! Why wouldn't we want them to monitor every aspect of our lives? When we left, there were people still in line who had been there since nine o'clock that morning...

Lessons are going well, but I have to say that I'm not entirely certain the extra sleep is worth the extra energy. I'm going to give it two more weeks and if things don't find a groove, I'm doubling the caffeine intake and going back to my evil night owl ways. I get to bed early and get plenty of sleep, but do not accomplish most of my evening routines- that was when I did my extra laundry, cleaned the kitchen, did the daily scrub on the bathrooms (hey, there are four guys in this house- I've gotta keep up!) As of today, I have not had a single morning with a good head start on the day before everyone else is up and quite excited to get going! Computer time has been nil, too. *sigh*

Zorak's Company Picnic was Thursday. It was quite fun. Zorak's co-workers are great folks, and we enjoy the opportunity to get to know them in a less formal environment. The boys were tired, but did well and were their typical cheerful, friendly, exuberant selves. I think I found a mentor to help me make the transition from rifle to shotgun, too, which is good, because I am just lost when it comes to hunting non-winged things with a shotgun. (That just doesn't even sound right!)

Prayers are requested here. If you don't mind, there's something coming up that will give us need for clarity and direction. I can't say much, but would sure appreciate a nod or two to the Big Guy. (For my more formal readers, no disrespect intended, but, hey, I'm not a formal kinda blogger and when the Aggie is willing to ask for prayers, I have no trouble using his vernacular.)

Ah, well, it's time for some chocolate milk and a story! Have a lovely weekend- it may be a while before I get to blog again, but there's some interesting stuff to blog about, so I'll try to be back soon.


Thursday, August 26

Up Today at Five O'Clock!

BUT, so was the baby, and then we went back down until six thirty, at which point everyone was up. *snort* Getting to bed at an earlier time is certainly helpful in many ways, and I feel great! I'm hoping it will become habit soon. Unfortunately, I've discovered that if I'm not sitting next to Zorak by the desk, giving him the "Can I play? Huh? Huh? Can I spike? Huh? Huh? Can I? Can I?" routine, he'll never get off the computer and to bed at a decent hour! ROFL! However, it's a quiet morning and I'm doing a quick stealth-blog while the boys are playing.

It's been a short week here. The weather has been almost non-oppressive, so we went to the park on Tuesday. There's a company picnic today. Tomorrow is CWS Friday (compressed work schedule- every other Friday off, so school is off every other Friday, too!) Hmm, short week. Yet surprisingly productive.

John certainly has a flair for the dramatic. When he reads his phonemes correctly, the best reward I can give the child is to fling myself over on the couch with my arm over my forehead, and proclaim, "AH! He's reading! What WILL I do?" *shaking head curiously* You'd think he'd want an atta-boy, eh? Nope, let's shoot for the absurd. Well, whatever works. Phonics and reading lessons now exhaust me as much as read alouds, but he's happily learning to read, so I'm not about to change it.

James' hair is growing back out- slowly- somewhat painfully- but it is growing. He says now that he wants to grow his hair "mommy-long". HA! Funny, funny child. That is SO not going to happen.

Jacob can stand, unassisted, for minutes at a time. He just stands and plays, jabbers, and does his thing. I have to say, though, that with James' full vocabulary at one year old and John's fairly good vocabulary at one... Jacob has me a little befuddled. I don't know what to do with a child who doesn't speak well at one year old! Fortunately, he's not lacking for communication skills, nor is his comprehension dulled at all. He knows, and "gets", a lot- possibly more than John did at this age. (Well, John comprehended, he just didn't care.) Jacob is a lot of fun. All three boys are, truly.

New phones aren't in. Verizon said "3-4 days". Even counting just "working days", they should have arrived by Tuesday, at the latest. Hmph. We'd really like to have them for our trip on Friday. I hope this isn't indicative of Verizon's service...

Huh, well, there ya go. I had so much to share- news and a few editorial comments, but sitting here in the glare of the unkempt monitor (really must clean this thing), it's all gone. Just wanted to let you know that we're alive and doing well, keeping busy, and someday will have regular early-morning blogging. (Must begin taking notes, though, as each day seems to be a clean slate for my befuddled mind.)

Dy, off to read email and go wrestle with the baby for a bit- Have a lovely Thursday!

Tuesday, August 24

No More Night Blogging

I cannot do it anymore. Zorak gets on the computer for a little decompression time while James and I are reading before bed, and it's often one o'clock or later before I get the computer. Morning just comes too early. SO, in an attempt to re-set my internal clock, I'm going to have to blog in the mornings as a treat for getting up before the boys. It may be a while...

So I thought I'd share this quick pic of my guys before I go. :-)

The Great Arranging

The end of August will forever be known by the boys as
"The Time of the Great Arranging"
, or more honestly,
"The week Mom went nuts and moved the house around enough to wear holes in the carpet".
*hmpf* Well, it looks much better now, I think. I am the only one who thinks that so far, although I'm pretty sure Jacob would agree with me if he could talk. Besides, I clean it, so I can move it, right?

The dining room (which I refer to as "that totally wasted space in the front of the house") is getting an involuntary makeover into a more scholarly-styled room. I just couldn't take it anymore. As a dining room, it's pathetic- our little wobbly-legged oblong table & chairs with the lose bars and flaked finish (the set survived my adolescence and then was exiled to my domain when I moved out umpteen years ago) takes the spot of honor in the middle of the room. What a showpiece. It's in the middle only because if we move it someone will get a concussion from the chandelier. (Chandelier? It's a mid-grade townhouse, for Pete's sake!) Although, even if we could do away with the poorly appointed light fixture, I can't move the table because the carpet is white (white! carpet! white carpet in the dining room! of a rental! WHAT was this guy THINKING?) So, when you cannot renovate, you re-arrange.

We moved the tea cart near the front door in a noble attempt to catch the stuff Zorak drops on the floor as he walks in, as well as to make the cart more functional and no longer "where junk mail goes to die", as it has been. I don't know if it'll work, or if he'll just step further in before dropping said things on the floor. We'll give it a week and see what happens. If it doesn't work, I'll think of something else. That move, however, opened up a wall for our new wall maps! *cheesy grin* It also opened a corner for an end table that's been migrating forlornly around the living room... it'll now have a home, and a globe to keep it company. There's also a new spot for Jacob to play while we do some of our lessons. I'm thinking craft stuff may be relocated to this part of the house, since the table is where we do most crafts.

The boys are being re-consolidated back into one bedroom. They both seem fairly content with this measure. James will be happy to have a ladder again, and John will be happy to have help keeping the room tidy. That means I have to roll up my sleeves and *do* something with this third room. It could be quite useful with some furniture- a low couch, beanbag chairs, even a desk... just something. As it stands, however, it ends up being a small room with books on every wall and nothing but floor elsewhere. *sigh* Maybe we can find something at a resale shop in Annapolis this weekend? I dunno what we're going to do with that. This winter, though, it will be nice, as that's the warmest room in the house when the weather's cold. *grin*

That's about all the news that's fit to print tonight. I didn't get the computer til one, and can't keep my eyes open anymore. I'll try to blog in the morning- we have an early, early day tomorrow!


Sunday, August 22

Sunday Stuff & Week 3 of This Year's Adventure

OK, the "lesson plans" are laid out (I feel compelled to put them in quotes, much as I would the title of a fiction novel or, say, our budget... the similarities are just too obvious). This is a short week, but should be busy, and productive.

This week's focus in Bible is "self-control over the tongue", which is mighty timely for some of the Smidgets... but we're going to keep it neutral anyway. ;-) Tomorrow we will begin our morning by reading Psalms 34:13, what it means and why. I am thoroughly enjoying the structure and handy topical plans laid out with Plants Grown Up. We are also going to resume the Catechism work, and James has requested more prayers, so that's on the list, as well.

Are you sitting down? Today's high was 75 degrees! We nearly skipped church because it just felt wrong to be sitting inside (in a sweltering room, as a matter of fact~ those of us in the Visitor's Class have decided they must be witholding A/C until we become members) when it was so absolutely LOVELY outside! Thankfully, it was still beautiful when we emerged from services, something that hasn't happened here in five months. If it is half as lovely tomorrow as it was today, we're scrapping the last half of our school day and going to the park! I can always whisper Latin into their ears while they sleep, but we may not see another day like today for a long, long time! Tomorrow will be warmer, but it looks like the humidity is going to drop below 80%!! (Can you believe I'm actually excited about that? Weird, isn't it?)

James' Sunday School teacher spoke with us today about Promotion Sunday, which is next Sunday. Her recommendation is that he move on to the first grade class. She said he knows all the stories and the answers, not to mention comes up with some of his own and she doesn't really feel he needs to stay with the K class at all. I was a little uncertain (we've never had anyone pay that much attention to him at church before!) and asked about the size/age issues in a mostly social setting (because, let's be honest, one hour a week is not a religious education by a long shot. He gets that at home, and gets fellowship and positive "socialization" at church. *wink*) but she said that he gets on great with the kids in his class and most of them will be moving up, as well, so she did not feel that would be an issue at all. Oh, *happy, thankful sigh*.

John was moved up earlier in the summer, as he was also ahead of the other children and they didn't feel he needed to wait for Promotion Sunday, so he'll stay in the class he's in now. That is great, as today was the first time he bolted happily into the room without so much as a hesitating step. He's comfortable there now, and is flourishing.

Come on new phones! Mama's missing her weekend chats with everyone! I miss you guys!

And tonight, I am going to bed before midnight! Honest. Right now. G'nite.

Saturday, August 21


Tonight John was grouchy and tired. When he is grouchy and tired, he just sinks into sadness. Getting the boys out of the tub, Zorak said, "Come on, Little Cowboy, up we go!" John dissolved into tears, "I'm not a little cowboy!" Zorak changed the subject, distracted him a bit, and tried to help him move on, but John was still somewhat sniffly and sad. Zorak The Wunder Dad (he just rocks) asked John, "Well, if you don't want to be a cowboy when you grow up, what would you like to be?" John sniffled and said through teary, tired eyes, "I want to be a You!" OH, my, talk about melting your heart! What a sweet boy, and what a wonderful Daddy. I love my family.

Jacob tried to walk today! It didn't go well, as walking goes, but it went very well as attempts go. It was enough to urge us to get the poor child some shoes so that if he does start walking on the linoleum he won't bust his wee head. (John started walking at eleven months, then took a face dive down the side of a bas-relief planter that ripped up his entire face and chipped two teeth... it was another two and a half months before he would try that again!)

Carmon posted an absolutely heartwarming poem on her blog about the prayers of a Mother, as told through the perspective of the Son. Wow. It was very good.

I finally got Wizard & Glass in from the library, and wouldn't you know it I left it on the porch when we went to Wal-Mart today... and it rained while we were gone. *sigh* The book is now stuffed with paper towels and I'll freeze it before I head to bed. I'll work with it more tomorrow. Darnit. I knew better, too. Grrr.

Stephanie, I do know what you mean. It's only been since I have been an adult that I realized we'd been not just broke, but "poor", according to society's standards. I never felt like it. I had my Mom's love, we read books by the dozen and the world was mine for the taking in my imagination. I reveled in the things a child loves- tree forts, crawdads in creeks, riding bikes with the neighbor kids (it didn't matter that the bike wasn't a brand-new Mountain-Tamer x3000- it had wheels, it went, and it didn't bang up too badly when I splayed out ass-over-teakettle going down a hill).

When I was little, my Mom had a zillion little mantras she was always, erm, sharing with me *grin*~
"Just because someone is poor is not an excuse to act like it."
"No matter how little you have, you take care of it because it's been given to you to take care of."
"There is always someone who has it worse than you."
"I've been helped when I needed it, and we help others when they need it."

Of course, in the periods where we've fallen below the poverty level since then, I've just always viewed it as "just passin' through". It wasn't a chronic condition, nor a permanent move, just something to work through and move on past. Get a roommate, donate plasma, finish this semester, take a night job... you do what you've got to do, and it's amazing how people will help you when they see you are willing to do a little work on your own!

Anyhow, thank you all for the encouraging words. Donna, I will never, in this life, achieve your level of gentleness, but can I hang out in awe of you and bask in the glow of your utter coolness? Thank you for the heads up on the apology- I, too, was able to apologize for my part in things.

Anyway, I digress. Where was I going?

OH- cooperative games! I checked out The Cooperative Sports & Games Book: Challenge Without Competition, by Terry Orlick. If you have the chance, check it out- there are some really great ideas in there! (For the record, it's not that I have a problem with organized sports, per se, but I just don't think trial by fire is the way to teach a four or five year old about sportsmanship and teamwork. That's another blog entirely, though.) The pictures are delightfully dated 1970's, and there's a little of the pinkish tinge to the philosophy in some bits 'n pieces of the book, but overall it's a wonderful resource and I'm going to be keeping my eyes out for my very own copy. On the food-related recommendation scale, this is like the relish tray at a buffet-style party. You may like the green olives but the black ones make you queasy, you might pick the yogurt dip over the onion-bacon-feta-gravy dip. It's not going to fill you up, but it won't kill you to go pick it over, and you might strike up a nice conversation while you're there.

Tomorrow is church, and in an effort not to give Zorak a reason to use his newfangled secret code again, I am going to get some rest. Have a blessed day tomorrow, kiss those beautiful children, all!


Friday, August 20

There was an interesting thread on the forums the past few days that centered around the role of gov't in education (and, of course, spiralled off from there). I didn't have much to add to the discussion that others hadn't already said, so I didn't join in, but I did thoroughly enjoy the discussion and felt that it was handled incredibly well. Then I had to go and say something... *d'oh* WHAT was I thinking? I attract controversy like this house attracts ants.

I wanted to make two points, both of which center around this poor hypothetical uneducated woman who (if her education is left unchecked by THE STATE) will end up "stuck on welfare forever with no way of improving her circumstances". How many public schooled children become adults on welfare??? Also, I don't believe anyone is ever "stuck" and I don't know when welfare became a permanent occupation...

Of course, there was a dissenting view, but it was going ok- I thought- we went rounds, but politely enough.

Then, since I evidently don't know enough about NC's welfare program (I was not aware that AFDC has been renamed TANF), and since I don't believe that the only way out of the pit is by government dole, she hit me with

"have you ever been poor? Just curious."

Guys, I got so angry I began to shake! I'm talking seriously, deeply pissed off over this. I think I was so offended because I have a feeling what she was getting at was, "Have you ever been in a situation that would cause you to have one iota of empathy for the less fortunate, you heartless sod?" I responded as best I could, explaining a small part of my background, but wish now that I'd waited to respond. I wasn't ugly, but I wasn't eloquent, either. Whether I have ever been "poor" has no bearing on my ability to do the math! I'm not as offended as I was originally, but the board has archived, and I have a feeling that nothing I say is going to change her mind or soften her heart, so I don't want to drag a potentially poisonous situation over.

When someone asks you "have you ever been poor?" HOW do you answer that? "Are you talking abject poverty or just below the Federal income guidelines for the poverty level?" WHAT?!? The answer to both for me is a resounding YES, and I repeat that it has no bearing, so what kind of a question is that? Having experienced a situation may give a person a unique perspective, but it does not make that person any more or less qualified than someone else with a different experience (or education). The funny thing is that although she was so heavily focused on how the gov't won't help, I think we actually agreed that it's not the State's job. Funny, isn't it?

Hey, if you know an adult who cannot read, what's your problem? Get off your butt and help that person learn to read! If you know a child who could use a little read-aloud time and encouragement, don't be stingy. It costs you nothing but time, and the benefits to all are tremendous! Good grief, people. If you have children coming out your ears and don't feel you have the time to mentor even one other child, fine, then do a little legwork and donate to a local organization that helps people. There are plenty that are not Government-Funded (I would recommend that you specifically seek out non-g-funded charities, actually.) These aren't the jobs of some nameless entity on far off Capitol Hill! (They're not good with money, anyway.)

For what it is worth, even when we were all crammed into an aluminum trailer, doing the abject poverty thing (and believe me, we are talking serious poverty), my mother never failed to offer what little she had: an extra seat at our already overcrowded table, shoes I'd outgrown but which could be used by someone who didn't have even that, her time to watch a co-worker's child so the mother could pull double shifts and be able to buy groceries AND pay rent that week. We were dirt poor, but she never went to the Government to beg for help, she instead looked around to see who else needed something more than we did, and she did something about it. Maybe if more of us quit wondering about each other's qualifications, stopped looking toward Capitol Hill to help our own people, and started looking around and wondering who nearby we could help, we'd be amazed at the ways we could make our world a lot better.

Anyhow, that's my .02. Possibly only worth a penny and a half, but keep the change. I just had to get it off my chest.


What a way to blog!

OK, so I'm composing in Notepad since I have tried four times this morning to blog, and each time something bizarre has happened that's erased my entry. I give up. I am changing topics and leaving well enough alone! There.

Last night I finished The Man Who Would Be King (by Ben MacIntyre)- it's a phenomenal book! I recommend it highly- this would go under "stew" in my food-guided recommendation table. It's a great book for chilly evenings with a hot cup of somethin' good, that you can really chew on, enjoy, think about, and in the end you are full, yet could have kept going if there'd been more of it.

We may be able to get together this weekend with another WTM family, and I am really, *really* hoping it comes together! The Mom and I have been emailing and chatting on the phone for months- she is just wonderful- and I cannot wait to meet her wonderful family (and her) in real life! Here's to the scheduling powers that be! I hope we can make it a "go"!

Um, it hit me this morning (during a lucid moment? I'm beginning to wonder...) that Jacob's first birthday is in just under three weeks. How horrible a mother am I that we haven't made any plans or arrangements for the celebration? *sigh* I'm really losing my grip. The boys will all be well-educated, but they'll be quite surprised to learn birthdays are normally celebrated at the same time each year.

We've had a good day getting things done. Need to make a Wal-Mart run, but... well, ya know, it's just hot 'n sticky out there. Too bad they don't make deliveries.

*argh* Anybody out there have a bossy almost-six-year-old??? This is normal?

Time to squash the rebellion. Talk to you later!


Thursday, August 19


So, evidently it's wise to keep the Upsaid habit of copying/pasting a post into a Word document before hitting "publish"...

I'll try again later. That just raised my hackles.

Jacob is napping.

John is upstairs with his dinosaurs and Green Army Men, playing some take on Land of the Lost.

James is inventing new knots and trying to decide between nylon and kevlar for his favorite rope material.

I thought I'd blog. (Lucky you!)

Do y'all feel like you're wasting most of your lives waiting for something that never comes, singing the Song that Does Not End? (Tried to Google the lyrics for that, but no luck, sorry.) Or have you found your niche and learned to taste and savor each season of life in turn? Everyone is so busy, busy, busy right now. This time of year is filled with activity, it seems. Yet when I step back, and look at the overall scheme of things, there is always something coming up or winding down. (Usually it is a combination of both.)

Summer activities kick in and everyone is out 'n about, the under 18 population seems to quadruple since most are not in school for the summer. There are swim lessons, camps, baseball, VBS, vacations... and we all fall in a heap at the feet of August, praying for our routine and an end to the hectic pace.

As that's winding down, here comes the "back to school" frenzy for some (and the "not back to school" frenzy for others). Halloween/Harvest... Lessons... Thanksgiving... suddenly it's "The Holiday Season" and then nobody seems to slow down until January, when a great majority of the earth's population goes catatonic. (I'm beginning to believe this is an instinctive measure, designed to keep us from hurrying ourselves into oblivion, something akin to The Magic Shoes.)

While all the leading magazines tell us this is good, I know that doesn't ring true with many people. You see it in the proliferation of "Simple Living" style publications, books, seminars and Yahoo! groups. People seem to rebel against the hoopla, but don't know how to get out of the throng. I'm thankful that I have Zorak, and you can't hurry him along to save your life. He gets it, on a cellular level, and has been quite a calming, focusing force for me.

SO, all the money-making products and icky supermarket trash mags aside, I would love to hear your methods for savoring Life The Way You Want It. After all, by the time we rouse from the January-coma, there's a brief lull, then suddenly Spring is upon us... and oh, look, here comes Summer! Quick, hide!


Wednesday, August 18

Dear Anonymous

HI! I'm so glad you posted! First of all, thanks for coming by and for commenting. I know not everyone reads the comments, so I hope you don't mind that I'm bringing it to the main page, but I think you made my point very, very well and since I'm hanging out my geocentric laundry, I figured I might as well put this out, too.

Anyhow, here's the comment (I'll put the comment in italics and my replies in blue- anyone please let me know if that just doesn't help on your browser, ok?)

You wrote:
"Ponderosa Pines grow only above 5000 ft. elevation...."


No! No, not really. They really don't. That's my point. I was born and raised in Prescott, Arizona (which is around 5300' elevation). There are beautiful Ponderosas all over the Yavapai National Forest, and they are all over Flagstaff, Arizona, too (even higher up the mountain!) Yet if you drive 7 miles outside Prescott, in any direction except toward Groom Creek, you'll drop just a few hairs in elevation and- *blam* - all ya get is scrub oak, junipers and cactus. So, as if to highlight my ignorance even further- there ya have it, geocentricity at its all-time worst! I just grew up knowing that if you got under appx. 5000' ft., you were in the "high deserts". Let me tell you, the terrain in Minnesota just blew my little mind!

I'm not forester, nor am I sure that's how you spell it, but we've got what the conservation folks call Ponderosa Pine (and what I learned were Ponderosa Pine in jr. high) on our land. Our land is considerably below 5000 ft., in the mid-3000s.

Exactly my point. It's downright embarrassing. Even back east here, where I've seen "high elevation" properties listed with a whopping 1800' elevation, I do believe there may be Ponderosas. At any rate, I know there are pines and there are some big 'uns, too.

Granted the Cartwrights' ranch, the Ponderosa, there near Lake Tahoe, is named after the most lovely tree called the Ponderosa Pines that live on it. And Lake Tahoe is around 6000 ft.

*wistful sigh* Tahoe...

So. I'm wondering what the 5000 rule you quoted is all about.

Not really a rule, just a rule-of-thumb that I'd unconsciously grown up with. Geocentricity is not really about what you know, it's about what you "think" you know.

I'm a 1 on your ignorance scale. I know probably know less than 0.00000001% of all the world's collective knowledge. If someone gave me that much of a candy bar, I'd think they were giving me nothing.

Oh, Anon, perish the thought!! Candy bars for all! (And more knowledge, too!) And coffee- can you imagine 0.00000001% of a pot, or *cringe* a CUP of coffee? No, that's not a good percentage at all.

Statistically 0.00000001% *is* nothing. I'm just lucky that most of the rest of the world is also as ignorant so that I end up looking about average. LOL!

LOL- I love your perspective, Anon, and hope you will stick around and introduce yourself and hopefully stay for coffee more often.

Alrighty, time to get the baby down and finish the day's chores. I'll be back for a longer blog in a bit.


Books & Messages


In going through book descriptions to line up a list for our next visit, I have come to the point of near-explosion! Head... popping... vein... busting... frustration. I've read the descriptions of over 50 books today, and perhaps four (maybe? I'm being generous here) did not contain the phrase (or some semblance of the phrase) "little Waldo learns that it's important to be yourself."

OK. Sure, peer pressure is an issue that ought to be dealt with, and perhaps it's starting earlier than I am willing to admit. However, these are picture books and early readers- books geared for the under six crowd. Maybe it's me, but I don't think I've met many four year olds who have any trouble being themselves- or six year olds for that matter. Aren't we just encouraging that self-absorption that we desire to oust from our children's mindsets?

What about books that instill the importance of being kind or generous, of being noble or honest? Could we get maybe a handfull of those, please? It's wonderful to have so many books to choose from that tell kids "it's ok to be ____" (insert oppressed whatever here), but how about a book or two with the message "it's imperative that you be kind TO _______" (insert oppressed/handicapped/different issues here)? Is that just too darned much to ask?

What if a child is selfish? What if he's a jerk? It's ok- BE YOURSELF. Don't work on yourself, and don't strive to better yourself. No, no, you're perfect just the way you are. So, following that logic why don't we just issue a whole series of books that come right out and say, "It's ok if the other kids treat you like dirt, as long as you know it's ok to be yourself!" It's not that I don't see validity in addressing differences and hurdles that children do face, but most of these books don't even deal with those things. They're just all about feelin' good about yourself and few of the ones I've seen today dealt with challenges or differences. They are all so bland.

How much good does self-esteem do if there is no such thing as respect for others? Respect for self (because self-esteem is not the same thing as self-respect!)

Would somebody please write some of these books? I'd love to see Little Waldo learn the beauty of giving, or the strength of kindness!


Tuesday, August 17

Wonderful (and not-so-wonderful-but-necessary) Parenting Moments

Music and Latin and Bible and Math!
Oh, what a full, full day.
Puzzles and maps and chocolate and globes.
Yea, yea, yea!

We tore apart a book of mazes today and slipped each page into a plastic page protector. Good thing, too, as every maze had been completed inside of fifteen minutes. I love, love, love dry erase markers. "Here, kids, have a paper towel and wipe 'em clean!" Then we mix 'em up and they're ready to go again. (Because when you are five and four, it's always a new maze, no matter how many times you've done it before!)

It was just good, all the way around. Kitchen looks like hell, but that empty spot in the living room where the desk was moved sure does come in handy! The children are fed, the hubby has clean socks. I have fresh coffee and the house is quiet. Wow. And it's only Tuesday, you say?

Thank you all for your comments about the Carthage/geo-centricity issue. So much insight out there- y'all are just great! Rebel, I giggled until my cheeks hurt reading your comment. I have done the same thing to the boys when I've found something that just fascinated me no end and they were completely non-plussed by it all, just sat there looking at me like something was trying to escape from my head while I bobbed about, gleaming and grinning, shouting, "Isn't this NEAT?!?! LOOK!"

Well, now the boys now want to make glass. Um, I should've seen that coming. What can we use as a crucible for melting the sand? Anyone? Anyone? Please? The boys (Zorak included) are really wanting to try this! (It does sound like fun, but oh, how I'd like to actually be prepared!)

Parenting isn't a job with a clock to punch, or seasons off. It's a nonstop, ongoing, highly demanding endeavor. The benefits, such as a quiet head resting against your shoulder as you read, or the sticky otter-pop flavored kisses bestowed as your child bolts off to another activity, are certainly worthwhile and precious. Sometimes, though, the things that do not feel like benefits or blessings can be quite galvanizing to the heart of a parent, can pull you up short with a glaring reminder that even when you are too tired or whiney to feel like doing your job, you MUST.

The panic and fear that will pass through a parent like a bolt of lightning when you even think something may have happened to your child can yank you from the most self-congratulatory justificational whine fest imaginable. You must be diligent because your children are, after all, only children. They aren't statistics, and they aren't adults. They are children, and they are yours. Defend them, protect them, nurture and guide them. It's your job and nobody will do it as well as you can, if only you will. That's another benefit of parenthood.

On a related note, several bloggers have noted this article, and while it's certainly Christian-based, I think it raises some excellent points on parenthood in general.

Anyhow, we had a great day enjoying the children, and I hope you did, too. See you in the morning!


Back on "da list" and "If I only had a brain!"

OK, well first off, my paranoid fears that I had somehow thoroughly irked the Powers That Be were put to their final rest today when Webmaster updated the WTM blog listings and put Classic Adventures on again. Why do I feel like I'm no longer cruising the streets with an expired driver's license? Anyhow, I don't know how the Webmaster manages to juggle it all, but I am, as usual, in awe.

And then, as if to prove my point, I'm gonna have to say this here because I don't want to stir the pot on the board (nothin' like biting the hand that feeds you!)

Some people are soooo stupid...

So, one poster at my favorite virtual living room, who isn't exactly a Bush "fan" had posted a quick apology for unintentionally violating board decorum. It was tastefully done and sincere. And another poster, realizing that she also may have violated rules, in a spirit of decency, also apologized. Very cool, totally understandable. It's a hot year for politics, but I thought the potential for civil unrest was being handled well.

Then comes some puffed up snarky chick, who is SO smug and SO... ppffttt, whatever... who posts this irrational nonsense, to the two who had apologized! BWAHAAA. But it gets better. Two minutes later she puts in her (rapidly devalued .02) here- the "ditto" under the other staunchly-rule-abiding-Democrat- and I'm still wiping coffee off the monitor. ROFL! Some people are just doofs. (Dare I call her a "Ditto Head"??) Argh. Doofs galore.

Who cares what side you're on? Get a blog. But if you must throw stones, people, don't go sliding down the rockpile. It's just bad form.

Monday, August 16

Still learning! (Thankfully...)

OK, I'm not big on the "centric" words. Words such as ethno-centric, gender-centric, and my personal favorite- species-centric (I kid you not, I'm not making that up!) generally indicate to me that the individual who is speaking is someone who is deeply over impressed with every culture and tradition other than the speaker's own. I pretty much tune out when one of the "centric" labels comes spewing from an orator.

However, as with all generalizations, there are exceptions, and one hit me tonight. I was sitting on the porch, enjoying the beautiful evening, boning up on the Phoenicians for this week's history lessons. The story of Dido and the founding of Carthage is included in this chapter of Story of the World. Very interesting. "Hmmm," I wondered, "Where, exactly is Carthage?" *flip, flip, flip, back to the map* Oh, HEY, check it out, right there in North Africa!

Why did this surprise me? Why did I have the feeling Carthage was founded on the northern edge of the Mediterranean? Why is it, aside from my pathetic education at the hands of the government, that even while studying Egypt, Canaan, Greece, Rome... Nubia (!!), "Africa" hasn't clicked with me?

I'm relatively certain I'm not entirely daft. I suppose it is possible that I've become mentally unstable, but as far as I know that doesn't usually attack the geography-region of the brain first... Then it hit me: I'm geo-centric. Just as the terrain here in Maryland has pretty much taken me by surprise (in spite of the fact that I've lived in both North Caroline and Pennsylvania), much of the history I'm learning now seems to come out of nowhere. (Africa, you say? Amazing!)

Now, really, please don't get all disenfranchised and uppity on me and say that it's some plot by "The Man" because, honestly, it took me a long time to find Switzerland on the globe the other day, too. I still think it oughta be closer to the Netherlands. It's not a culture thing, it's a geography thing. The world in my mind is mostly high desert plains. Ponderosa Pines grow only above 5000 ft. elevation, and swamps are mostly found on Hollywood sets. Yellowstone is not an anomaly, nor is the Grand Canyon. After all, these are the things I have grown up knowing and seeing. Mountains ought to be made of Granite and shouldn't be covered with trees! I'll bet those of you who have travelled a bit after you've reached adulthood have found yourselves marveling at the similarities and/or differences in the terrain and climate of various places.

It's a geo-centricity based on what we've always known and experienced. Somewhere in my heart of hearts is embedded the concept that Africa is much farther south than it really is, that Australia is bigger than it actually is, Switzerland is much farther north, The Middle East and "Europe at large" are not nearly as close together as they, in truth, are... the list goes on. I can say with all assurity that my calling is not as cartographer. Europe and Asia would be thoroughly unnavigable if left to my devices.

Fortunately, let's give three cheers for the autodidact! I've found Switzerland, rediscovered the North African coast, and spent five minutes in absolute awe that Italy is so close to the Middle East! Wow. This week's library trip is going to focus heavily on the histories of a few new regions- ones I haven't read or studied in the past. Hopefully, these deficiencies in my education and embedded thought processes will be outed in time to help the boys flourish in their education and geographical knowledge!

I've read that there are different levels of ignorance.
1) There are those who don't know anything and don't know how much they don't know.
2) There are those who don't know anything, but know they don't know anything.
3) Then there are those who do know quite a bit, but think they know everything.
4) Finally there are those who are learning and know they still have quite a bit to learn.

Which one are you?
Which one do you want to be?
And which one do you hope for your children to be?

Model the one you would like you children to emulate, because that is their (and your) best hope.

And I'm off! Have a wonderful evening.

Another quick two (and unrelated) notes:

Let your children bring out the storyteller in you! We were doing a map of the US this morning when something triggered a memory of my Mother and I driving somewhere in Illinois and ending up completely lost in Indiana. The boys howled with laughter as I recounted our trip and the discovery that we were so very far off course. Isn't that how oral history is built? Reminds me of listening to Gram's stories, which always leave me wide-eyed and awed, either shaking my head in amazement or giggling over the fact that children are children in any era. Help your kids get to know their histories by becoming a storyteller.

And the totally unrelated note, Zorak ROCKS! Once, about eight years ago, his brother was returning from PA and asked if we wanted him to bring anything. I asked for some IC Light- a beer I'd had while living in Pittsburgh and hadn't been able to find anywhere else. He just heard "beer" and brought his homebrew (which is tasty, but I can only hold about half a bottle and then I must stop for the week!) We haven't talked about it since then, really. Last night, however, what did my wonderful honey bring home but this...

They didn't have IC Light, but this stuff is good, too! (I had one last night.) What made it taste even better is knowing that he's stored this information in his files and thought of me while he was out 'n about. I am constantly amazed at the way Zorak works, and am constantly thankful for such a loving, caring husband. He is the best.

Pittsburgh Brewing Co. has a long history and an interesting web site (if you ignore the heavily made up, scantily clad young lass on the main page...) You can check it out here.

OK, this time I'm really going! Talk to you later!

Good Morning!

Well, it is Monday morning. I think we're all sleeping better with the cool evenings, as everyone but Zorak slept in this morning. So, while the oats are simmering and the boys are building things upstairs, I thought I'd try for a quick morning blog.

This is also my 100th post on Blogger! Wow, where does the time go? After blogging the past year and a half, it feels like second nature to come have coffee and visit with you. I gather my book lists from what you all share, garner wonderful ideas to implement in our school days, and enjoy the perspectives of homeschooling and political life from your stories. I began blogging as a way to share our daily lives with those who may be interested, and have discovered that a Blog takes on a life of its own. As with any project, there are rewards to be reaped from careful care and nurturing. Thanks for coming to the harvest with me!

Zorak took the boys to Sunday School yesterday, as I had to stay home with Jacob. He may have contracted Hand, Foot & Mouth disease, and until we know for certain, we really felt he shouldn't be around other children. Our poor Wonderful Neighbor called Saturday night to let us know her daughter has it- she was so apologetic, but really there's no reason. She had no idea her daughter had even been exposed and by the time she figured it out, the kids had spent a wonderful week playing together and slobbering all over each other. What can you do? I'll take an honest "oops" over an intentional bring-the-kids-over-knowing-their-sick anyday!

Then the guys went to the market. In all, they were gone four hours, which I spent cleaning, cleaning, holding the baby and cleaning, and yet more cleaning. The downstairs is lovely and ready for school! WooHoo! We also rearranged the furniture just a hair and freed up another few square feet in the living room. I knew it would make a difference, but had no idea how much of a difference it would make! The change also created a reading nook beside the desk. It feels wonderful. It needs lighting, but it feels wonderful.

It's wet, wet, wet today so Zorak has the Suburban. We'll hang out in the fresh new living room to do our lessons, spend some time doing puzzles, read a few books. Today might be a good day for a tent. Yes, it definitely looks like tent weather.

Well, the oats are ready and the natives are restless. Time to gather the wee ones and enjoy another day of learning and sharing. Have a most beautiful Monday! Read something fascinating today and share it with your wee ones.

Saturday, August 14

Another Beautiful Day!

Goodness, it just gets better each day, doesn't it?

We haven't posted pictures recently, and I try not to take a ton of load time for those with dial up, but this one just cracks me up. This is Jacob's "OH, that is SO funny!" face.

That shot was taken yesterday at the A&W on the way home from Baltimore. We had a wonderful time at the Inner Harbor, in spite of the traffic and parking issues. It was an enjoyable excursion, as always, and the boys enjoyed sharing their rituals with Zorak (must use the skywalks, must walk through- not around- the Trade Center building, must chase pigeons- tradition is important when you are five and four.) The day did reinforce to us that we're Country Mice, though. It felt very good to put the City behind us and get back to our little corner of the world.

I'm having a difficult time comprehending that we have been here for nearly nine months. We could have had another baby by now! Wow, how does the time go so quickly? To be honest, Zorak's years in college didn't seem to go by nearly this rapidly. But still, here we are, approaching a full year in Maryland, yet it feels like just recently we were in New Mexico, expecting Jacob's arrival, or in Arizona, preparing for Zorak's graduation... it goes too quickly, my friends.

There are no book lists for this week. It's been a week of re-runs around here- enjoyable for us, but not terribly exciting to go on about yet again. I'm still trekking my way through Afghanistan with Josiah Harlan. I can tell you without a doubt that I'd have died three chapters ago. Mine would be a very short book, indeed.

Tomorrow is church, which most of us are looking forward to attending, and then I have got to get some "alone time" with this house before Monday comes a-knockin'! This week's schooling will be very similar to last week. We're moving on in Bible study from Self-Control over the Body to Self-Control over Manners. We'll be working our way through the Doxology in Latin, progressing through our two-week review in math, spending some time with the Phoenicians in History. It should be a fun week! If this cool weather keeps up, we may spend some time exploring the hiking in the area, as well.

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Thursday, August 12

No apologies!

Wow, I am awed at the apologizing going on around here lately (both on blog and off). It's touching, but let me get this out- it's totally unnecessary! If y'all haven't noticed, the readers of this blog are a great group- incredibly "diverse" and really awesome people. In spite of repeated announcements in various online communities that "tone can't really be expressed on the monitor" I say, HA! Seriously, "secondhand crack smoke"?? C'mon, who'd take that seriously?

What I thought was most interesting is that there was a lot of apologizing, although nobody was actually offended, and I think everybody "got" the humor and bantering that's taken place. I, personally, thoroughly enjoyed it. Sort of indicative of our PC "first offend no one" culture, I think. (May be just going out on a very small limb, too, who knows?)

So, by official proclamation, I hereby decree that this blog is a safe place to be a wise-acre and crack the occasional joke! Undo those ties, take off your coats and stay a while. This is a safe place.

Everyone who hangs out in this neighborhood has always been respectful, and we don't take ourselves too seriously. Not to mention, if you're a long-time reader and you're still reading, you're either among friends or you're apoplectic with rage at this point and about 30 seconds away from an aneurysm anyway...

Soooo, on to other items of interest.

Today was a good schooling day and a good day in general, but I really dropped the ball on the "gentle mommy" goal. *sigh* There are just days when your children will push every button you've got and when, by the grace of God, that doesn't work, they'll go find the circuit breakers and throw 'em all just to see what happens!

However, in keeping with my whole "salting the earth" philosophy of child-rearing (original reference is lost in the archives somewhere... but it's really "salting the oats"), we talked and snuggled and there were apologies and forgiveness all around. Even poor Jacob, who caught a heel to the forehead that laid him out flat (no, it wasn't mine, it was one of the circuit-breaking moments from a brother!) was caught up in the Love that we had goin' around. Through humility, perserverance and some read-aloud time on the bed, the day was salvaged and totally useable.

The NJ governor resigned today. That was weird. Personally, I'm glad he's gone because I think he's a horrible, disgusting, unscrupulous human being, but that opinion has everything to do with his acts AS GOVERNOR and today's revelations have no bearing on my feelings toward his fitness to be Governor. Really, for those of us who have followed his escapades, the man had more than enough other reasons to resign and this whole "outing" thing just reeks of a political ruse to garner sympathy and divert attention from the actual issues surrounding his tenure. Not that I don't believe he's gay, but just that I question the methods and motivations behind it. Don't be surprised to find ulterior motives unearthed before this dies down.

In happier news, Joanne from The Happy Homeschooler, linked to this article recently. She couldn't find a single thing wrong with the article, and neither could I. Just thought I'd share the love.

OK, it's too late to be up if we're going to be on the road in the morning. Going into the Big City for a field trip and I really don't want to fall asleep on the drive. Have a great Friday, everyone!


Wednesday, August 11

Motivation and the Environment

I am just giggling my fanny off at the thought that *I* am motivating to anyone at all, let alone two of my favorite bloggers. Hee hee. That's cool! Thanks, guys! Um, Amy, you're two hours behind us, right? If so, then I "might" be able to blog in the AM, but you're just gonna have to get up later!

Well, let this be the final chapter in the "Suburban Saga" (and all God's people said...) It is good to go. Only an additional $300 later, too! Good Grief, people! Three hundred dollars to register a vehicle? What kind of crack are these people smoking? I thought that was restricted to the DC politicians? *blech* I did feel kind of bad because when the gal behind the counter said (oh, so cheerily), "No, this is good for two years. You can't register for just one." I opened my big, fat mouth and said, "I don't even want to BE here that long!" Ugh. Mandatory two year registration. Some people can honestly say that they don't see how the gov't will take a mile if you give it an inch? (What are the effects of secondhand crack smoke, anyway?)

SO, that said and done, I did learn that you can order NRA plates. The irony is just delicious, really! After we've recovered from the fiscal assault for this vehicle, we'll be switching out to those~ just to prove a point. (For those closet Elephant Parts or Television Parts: Home Companion fans out there... *wink*)

Now, as to the environment and our seal-killing vehicle... *grin* I know y'all are joking with me, but just for fun, here's a little math question for all your enviro-buddies who like to blow blood vessels over the Sinister SUV Monster.
Miles per gallon per person!

I can haul eight folks around (and do) with a LOT less gas than y'all can by having a caravan in your dinky Four and a Half Seater Aluminum Foil Chem Labs on Wheels! (Not knocking the TinFoilMobiles, I drove not one, but TWO Geo Prisms in my day and loved 'em!) And we're not just talking about gas, but rubber, oil, other noxious fluids, emissions. I can also run more than one item-gathering errand at a time and therefore don't have to make three separate trips to hit BJ's, the market and whatever else people gather (for us, it'd be the roadside produce stands, the gun shop and perhaps a Wally-World run). We get only slightly less per gallon than your typical minivan, and that's probably just because I don't change fluids as regularly as I should. Figure it in some realistic manner such as trips per average family per month, or per gallon per person, and I am an environmental GODDESS, thank you. An environmental goddess who can flip it into 4-LOW and not go sliding off the Interstate in the middle of a snowstorm, even. (And if the storm's too bad, we can sleep in the thing- so it's economical, too!)


Let's see, what else? Oh, James picked an absolutely luxurious copy of The Hobbit! It's a beauty, and even John began asking to hear the story about the dragon. (When you're four, it's all about the dragons!)

The boys, all three of them, were phenomenally well-behaved and patient today amidst the many stops we had to make to get it all done. (We were out for nearly six hours- most of that was sitting and waiting!) I can't believe what decent, wonderful, well-adjusted children we have. (And I don't take an ounce of credit for it, either- I think they get it from their father, because I rarely know when to keep my mouth shut. It's ok, someday I'll either become famous for it or will be able to afford shock therapy.)

And the final thought for today... I can't wait to smell Autumn!


Mid-Week Ramblings

I have not put together a coherent thought in three days. Now, that doesn't mean it hasn't been a wonderful, productive week- it has. I just haven't had much blogworthy news. Schooling is coming along well, although we haven't been as on-the-ball as I'd hoped with our nature walks. However, gotta love CD's for the car! Latin, Math, Bible can all be done en route while we run errands! WooHoo! We are taking this Friday to enjoy an end-of-week field trip to the Baltimore National Aquarium and Inner Harbor with Zorak. It's a fitting end to a wonderful week.

The Suburban remains untagged as of this morning. *Insert the growling/snorting noise Pacha's wife makes in The Emperor's New Groove here* It WILL be done today if it's the last thing I do! Ok, maybe I shouldn't put it that way. Let's just say it's "high on today's priority list".

The boys are still sleeping (yes, it's nine o'clock). They napped yesterday so they could go to the archery meeting. It was a logistical fiasco, just as I'd feared, and wasn't something we ought to have done. BUT, hey, lessons learned, right? I think it's difficult for Zorak to understand that the things that are fun for him, while they will one day be fun for the boys, are a little dry and, erm, drawn out for the boys to enjoy right now. Still, his heart's in the right place, and we are blessed that he is so involved with his family. We made the best of it by going to Chic-Fil-A for a late, late supper after the meeting. Ice cream with Mom & Dad, and some time in the play area, can make even a mortician's convention seem like it was fun in retrospect when you're five and four!

Oh, funny, a friend sent me this link today. I laughed til I hurt. She said it reminded her of James, and she's right. The link is to Comics.com, and I'm not certain about syndication policies so I didn't paste the comic here, but it's cute- go peek.

Our Hobbit is in, so after the Suburban is tagged and legal, it's time for another trip to Bay Books! The boys will be thrilled.

Happy Wednesday!


Monday, August 9

A Strange Day, but A Good Day

One of the things I love the most about homeschooling is the regular, interactive, constructive tone that life takes on as part of the process. We are all a part of one another's days, integral and flowing. Granted, there are the occasional Class V rapids in that flow, but you're in it together and don't have to battle other outside influences to such an extent as those who do not homeschool. Personally, I'm very thankful for that consistency. It's something we use well, and a dynamic that I hope will continue to serve us well in the coming years.

John is thoroughly addicted to math. He loves it. He also surprised me today by doing Latin all the way through with us. He even recited the review work in Latin (he normally does it in English and I just count it as memory work for him).

began reading Thornton Burgess' Blacky the Crow. I was much more excited about these books before I hit the paragraph about "the horrible hunter" with "the awful gun". Oh PUHLEEZE. When it comes to conservation perspective and political issues, I must say that I eagerly await the day when the boys can read the writings of Theodore Roosevelt rather than this pompous drivel. Oh well, there is quite a bit of wit elsewhere in the writing, and James did enjoy those parts.

Zorak worked late tonight and goes in early tomorrow. That can't be fun for him. He just came in (nearly midnight) and the first things he asked were how are the boys and how did bathtime go and how did they do. I really appreciate the things he does for his home and family.

The MVA is not open on Mondays, so we bought squishies and enjoyed the a/c in the Suburban as we came home. James lamented "all that gas we wasted"- he's right. I should've called. Tomorrow we'll school in the car and run errands. Tomorrow night is an archery club meeting that Zorak would like us all to attend. It would be nice to hook up with other families w/ NRA stickers on their vehicles. *grin* It would also be nice not to receive menacing glares for my beliefs! The meeting is a bit late for the boys, I think, but even if the boys and I don't go, I hope Zorak goes at least.

And really, that's all for tonight. Be good to one another! Have a beautiful Tuesday!


Sunday, August 8

Sunday's Thoughts

Well, it finally happened. Zorak had to wake me up during Sunday School. In nine years, this is a first. Evidently he found this turnabout great fun, and he put a considerable amount of thought into how best to go about it, too. He developed a code. He improvised a "sounds like" system. I was clueless, and it wasn't until we were safely ensconsed in the Suburban after services that he told me he wasn't just waving his finger around the page. He was pointing out, "just get on the boat"- but since the word "boat" wasn't in the program, he had to come up with the "sound like" bit. Oh, and since it's highly unlikely that the name "Frodo" could be found, he was hoping I'd just get it. Uh-huh. I must remember never to do that again.

Schedules are ready. Home is clean. Children are tucked snugly into bed. I've enjoyed a few more chapters in the books I've got lounging about, and am prepared to greet tomorrow with enthusiasm and gusto!

I must go get a duplicate driver's license tomorrow so we can register the Suburban here. We'd hoped to give me a little more time to find it (and I'm certain it's buried under one of the many piles of "stuff" around here), but no- in Maryland you cannot register a vehicle in your name if you do not have a driver's license. Don't even get me started on this...

So, well, I suppose I'm off. Blogging may be light (or it may increase drastically- depending upon the progress of this week's schedule). Either way, have a truly beautiful Monday, all!


Saturday, August 7

Gentle Schedules, Gentle Children

Gentle Mommy? Well, that's one of my goals for this year. Gentle, thorough, enjoyable, and do-able. We'll see how far I make it, eh?

Monday is back-to-life day. (Not quite back-to-school, you know.) I'm moving things around a bit to fit better with the climate (read: humidity/heat), the environment (read: actually having great kids to play with in the afternoons!), and the needs of the children (read: well, yeah, that one pretty much reads as I wrote it!) Here's a quick peek, for those who are interested (those who aren't, um, come back tomorrow *grin*):

Bible before breakfast- a good way to begin the day
Latin over breakfast- nothing like mumbling the Sanctus with eggs in your mouth, right?
Math for John while James does assigned reading
Nature Walk- this may turn out to be science. I need to do some more reading on Charlotte Mason's approach, journaling, and an informal, gentle approach to science for little ones.
Home for a snack and a read aloud
James' spelling/grammar lesson
Play time for all!
M, W- History and Music after lunch
Tu, Th- Art and whatever I have forgotten can go here

As the weather cools down, we'll spend a few hours playing outside w/ the Wonderful Neighbor children in the afternoon, then come in for tea around 3:45 or so. Then I figure we'll do our usual- read until it's time to start supper.

I'll blog goals tomorrow. Right now it's nearly eleven and I want to get some things on paper before bed. Church tomorrow and another journey into the overpriced realm to search for land! Weee!

Have a blessed day tomorrow.


Friday, August 6

Sometimes The Answer is So Easy

Today was one of those much needed days. We did Latin and math over breakfast. By the time we stopped, we were all giggling so hard it hurt. We read together for a very long time. Then we headed to the Marine Museum.

I'll blog another time about my fondness for memberships and the guilt-free spontaneity they provide, but for now, I'm just going to wallow in the wonder of remembering that occasionally it's OK to say, "Sure!" It's perfectly acceptable to tell your children, "Yes! Let's do it your way!" As a matter of fact, I think it's necessary, and good for all involved. It allows your children the opportunity to explore their world at their leisure and to feel your trust and interest in them from a different angle. It also allows you to glimpse a truly uninhibited peek at how they are designing and forming their inner spaces.

Sometimes it may reflect less-than-noble images, which, if taken with wisdom and grace, can be a guide for you to use in adjusting your own attitude and presentation of life's lessons. Other times you will see a shimmer of the incredible adult who is emerging before your eyes, and you will see it through the eyes of the incredible child who is here with you now, and who still needs you so very much. I saw it through three sets of eyes today, and I'm exhausted, but joyful.

Today I saw the absolutely ecstatic convulsions brought on when an 11-month old sees the floor-to-ceiling aquarium around the corner. I had no idea he was double jointed! We were also afraid he's pop a blood vessel before he could get to the wall to stand up and talk to the fish. His legs couldn't keep up as he flew across the floor uttering, "Oh! FFFFFF! FFFFFFF! Mama! FFFFFF!" Have you ever seen a child so excited he trembles? I love that.

We lunched at the otter pond with our Wonderful Neighbors and walked the nature trail twice. (That was one of the "yes" moments. Why can't we walk back the way we came? Let's go for it!) This trail will be one of our staples for science this year, I can tell.

Four puppet shows, two fossil identification cards and eight dinosaur drawings later, the boys wanted to drive home with the Wonderful Neighbor Girls. I was tempted to say no. Not for any particular reason other than habit. However, there wasn't any reason not to allow them to go along. (Wonderful NeighborMom didn't mind and it's not like she'd have to drive out of her way...) So a very happy, sleepy baby and I picked up some books I'd lent to a friend, visited briefly, and arrived home to two very happy, very "filled" children. They had been filled with attention, time, interest and trust. We topped off a splendid day with several hours of playtime when Zorak arrived home, dinner with the Wonderful Neighbors, and stories before bed.

We certainly got our RDA for family nutrition today, and you know, it was so easy...

How do you get your Family Nutrition intake?


Funnies from the Farm

John, this morning, said,
"Mom, I am a superhero. My name is Peter Pan... The Avenger"

Thursday, August 5

Oh Goody-Goody!

Not only did we find The Hobbit, but we found an absolutely charming bookstore, as well. They've ordered two different copies of The Hobbit because we couldn't tell within the system (and, naturally, I'd forgotten the ISBN) which was the one we wanted. The owner said, "I'll order both in and you can pick the one you want."

My children plunked down quite happily as soon as we arrived, with a book between them, and James read aloud while the shop owner and I searched. Nobody glared. Nobody looked askance. Mmmmm, I love it.

So great was my joy in finding a helpful, kind, child-friendly bookstore that we headed to the children's area and picked out a few fun nuggets for the boys: Now We are Six (A.A. Milne), Blacky The Crow, Old Granny Fox (both Thornton W. Burgess books in the paperback Dover Children's Thrift Classics- $1.50 each!), Just So Stories (Kipling- the boys enjoyed reading them over and over, so we couldn't go wrong with our own copy), King Arthur Tales From the Round Table (Andrew Lang).

Now for the real Goody-Goody! We also picked up our very own copy of Redwall. This, in itself is fun, but the true excitement is in the fact that Brian Jacques will be HERE, at this very bookstore, on October 2nd. I can't wait!!!

Additionally, as if I have somehow garnered extreme favor from God Himself (or pity, but either way, I'll take it), it is only 74' outside right now. The humidity is still 85%, and it's raining, but after the absolute broiling moldy hell that has been the weather here the past month, this is sheer heaven! I have windows open! Could it mean that Autumn is coming to greet us with its cheerful sights and calming temps?


Is this Thursday?

Already? Hmmm. Wonder how that happened. Didn't get out of the house yesterday, as the fender flares didn't arrive until after two PM. *sigh* The boys made the best of the day and it was good. Also, did I tell y'all I'm down to only half a pot of coffee a day lately? It feels very odd. Yesterday I had none until eight PM, at which point I sucked down three cups in the hope of making that dreadful headache go away. (See? Personal Responsibility- I know the dangers and the risks. If I choose to make a bad decision, then, hey, I get to live with the consequences! This, my friends, is the stuff of life.)

SO, today we forage for a good book. I received all manner of wonderful recommendations on tracking down a great edition of The Hobbit (THANKS GUYS!) and will try to find it in one of the local B&M stores before resorting to purchasing online. (Yes, any excuse for a trip to the bookstore...)

Or perhaps I might finally convince Zorak that a trip to Annapolis is in order this weekend? Eight months is an awfully long time to live somewhere this close to a Trader Joe's and not have anything in the cupboards to show for it.

Hoping to meet up this week with a friend whose life seems to have taken on a life of its own. Sometimes you have to yank on those reins and make time for coffee, cakes, visiting with a friend, and the enjoying the fun of children playing together. ;-)

A knitting store is opening here this weekend, as well!! Oh fun! (Mind you, I can knit like a mad woman- not well, and not prettily, but by golly I can do it!) One of our Wonderful Neighbors is going to show me how to make a lovely baby hat, and I will make some to send to our midwives for the babies they attend. (James has put in a request for a brown scarf. He's five! Not rainbow, not green, not sparkly. Brown. *goofy grin* Yep, that one's mine.)

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and comments- I always enjoy hearing from those who come to have coffee with me. It's nice to hear your anecdotes and tips and thoughts. Keep 'em comin'! You're what makes a plain ol' blog into the "tea with friends" that is so enjoyable.

Have a truly lovely Thursday!


Wednesday, August 4

The Love Affair Has Ended

It's true. My three year love affair with Sonlight is over. The clarity of my misguided affections hit me last night like a bolt from Zeus.

For three years I have drooled over Sonlight's beautiful catalog, dreamed of seeing MY children eagerly opening the Big Box. I actually lobbied Zorak our first year of homeschooling to let me order from Sonlight. He, in his sage manner ("WHAT?!?! You've got to be kidding me! No.") felt we ought to peruse other options.

So, I deferred to his wisdom and went about our business, pining in secret for all those beautiful books. I also continued to cough up the five dollars for a catalog each ensuing year. Meanwhile, though, schooling continued. Language Arts, Mathematics, History, Science, Music, Foreign Language filled our days (and many harried evenings as I figured out what I was doing!) I love what we're doing. The boys love what we're doing. Zorak loves what we're doing. We've got a good thing going! Still, though, when someone would mention "Sonlight", I'd emit an audible sigh. I still really, really wanted to buy it.

Well, last night I was reading Tammy's review blog and saw her reminder that the Sonlight deadline for a quick delivery is fast approaching. I don't know what clicked or why, but there was no sigh. There was no winsome image bobbing about in my head. No more Sonlight envy!

Why? Because I wouldn't give up Math-U-See for their math. You couldn't pay me to stop using The Writing Road to Reading. I love, love, love The Story of the World. Charlotte Mason's approach to science for young ones is gentle, exploratory, efficient and enjoyable- not letting go of that one, either! Prima Latina is a fine, wonderful fit for us. What does that leave for Sonlight to offer us? It's a good curriculum for some, but it doesn't really offer us anything. Nothing but...

BOOKS! (This is the a-ha moment of clarity, folks.) I don't want the Sonlight curriculum at all! I just want to purchase $400 worth of BOOKS every year for the next fifteen years! Ha-ha! There you have it- the superego has been unveiled. All this time spent pining for something that wasn't the solution at all. How silly.

NOW, how to convince Zorak that this is a good idea...

Tuesday's Thoughts

Two down, one to go- the fender flares should arrive via FedEx tomorrow and then we're one step closer to being legit!

We have to return The Hobbit tomorrow. Actually, it was due back day before yesterday, but we haven't been to the library. I tried to renew it, but there was already another hold on it and no other copies are available, either. So, I promised James that tomorrow we would hit the bookstore and see if they have a copy in stock. I read at the WTM forums today that there is an unabridged illustrated version available- need to go ask for the details on that. I think he'd love it.

He's getting it, and it's really exciting! Tonight, the goblins abducted Bilbo and his companions from the cave in the mountains. When the torches in the caves went out and the smoke from the main fire turned blue, James jumped up and down on the bed and shouted, "I'll bet it's Gandalf! I'll bet that's him!" (It was, of course.) *grin* This is just too much fun!

Just for something different, tonight it was Jacob who fell asleep at the supper table instead of John, who is our resident supper-time-narcoleptic. Poor sleepy baby. He slept from six until eleven thirty, woke to nurse and then *whammo* he's back out cold. Can you guess who had a busy day today? He climbed the stairs halfway up and only stopped because I was terrified he'd trip over the legs in his outfit and go tumbling pell mell like the Pokey Little Puppy. He was quite proud of himself, and just to prove it, he repeated his performance every chance he had!

John got up early this morning and requested bananas and a pb&j sandwich for breakfast. Traditions are meant to be made, right? We had a really nice time together just visiting. He is a very neat kid with a lot on his mind. I hope we have many more mornings together like this one.

After the Bon-Bon encounter this morning, the boys and I built a tent in the master bedroom and they played music on various instruments while I ironed Zorak's work shirts. Then we huddled together in the tent to read stories. (I insisted that we lift the sides so that Mommy wouldn't melt rapidly- four humans under a bedsheet with no ventilation produce a LOT of heat! They allowed for that, but promptly exiled me from the tent and put the sides back down as soon as the reading was complete.)

So tomorrow is going to be a day for the boys: to the park, to the library, and to the bookstore. (I'm hoping we can add "to 7-11 for a squishy" to the day, too!)

*AAAANNNNNNDDDDD, I blew it. Was going to hit the hay right after I blogged... then I decided to blog run before posting (b/c I'd told myself I would get offline right after I published)... and now it's after two. Ugh. Bad Dy. Bad, bad. But, OH, there are some wonderful articles in the blogosphere tonight! See Steph's blog for one and run w/ it from there. ;-)*


Tuesday, August 3

Oh, that's just embarrassing!

So it's nearly ten thirty. Zorak opened the front door to find me perched at the desk, coffee in hand, WTM boards open, boys nowhere in sight... in my jammies. *groan*

Now, honestly, I am a grown woman, and I don't know why I suddenly felt like I was caught with my hand in the Bon-Bons carton, but I did. I jumped up and stuttered, "Er, uh, HI! I JUST sat down for a break! Just now. Not ten seconds ago!" (which was all true, but you wouldn't think it from the guilt that oozed from my body...)

Granted, what he didn't see when he walked in is the load of dishes that have been washed and put away, the books we've read this morning, the meal and snack that have been made, eaten and tidied up after, the four loads of wash that were gathered, sorted, washed, dried, and put away...

He couldn't see, from his vantage point at the front door, the two toilets that have been scrubbed this morning or the linens all switched out on the beds...

I did make him go upstairs to see the seasonal culling work I did on the boys' clothes for the impending Autumn weather (Sweaters!) and by chance he also noticed the thorough dusting all the upstairs furniture received this AM...

But still, sheesh, talk about bad timing!

~Dy, who probably ought to put in her muumuu order this morning, as well. *grin*

Monday, August 2

Whoo Boy

I've begun reading The Man Who Would Be King: The First American in Afghanistan by Ben MacIntyre. It is the biography of Josiah Harlan, a man who... who... well, I'm not sure I can do justice to any description of him in a quick before-bed blog. Half way through Chapter Two, I can only say that I cannot find the words to describe this man. "Ambitious" falls thinly and inadequately upon the ears. That he had certain body parts of pure brass comes a bit closer, but still no cigar. At any rate, the author, Ben MacIntyre, is a phenomenal story teller, capable of creating images and animating characters as he draws his reader into the mind of his subject. I won't say he's up there with Edmund Morris in my All-Star line up of Biographers, but perhaps. I'll let you know when I've finished the book. Have any of you read this book?

Today began well enough, then deteriorated, wallowed in the decay for a bit, and finally found redemption through the never-fail "day saver": read aloud time on Mommy & Daddy's bed. There is just something about calling a halt to the infighting, bickering, yelling, sassing, groaning and screeching by declaring that it's time to jump on the bed and read a silly book. Now if I could just remember that it's perfectly acceptable to do that as early as the day necessitates... it'd save a lot of wear and tear on all of us.

The Suburban is now near-acceptable for Maryland's standards. *sigh* Just when I think we're getting ahead. We took the vehicle in last week for inspection (which you must have in order to get it registered here, and no, it's not even an emissions inspection, which I could understand to some extent). Anyway, we came out with three work orders to complete before the Inspector will sign off for us. 1) Replace windshield. Don't even get me started on this! *ugh* However, there is a special place in heaven for the man in the mobile unit who will come to your home and replace a windshield while your children play in the grassy front yard! Yesiree, that's service! $260.00 2) Fender flares. Or new tires. Pick one. The tires stick too far out for their taste (and no, we're not talking the illegal extended axle punkmobile tires you see on lowered Ford Escorts w/ ground effects- these are mud tires on a full-sized Suburban and in no way out of line). However, the state requires that we drill holes in the fender wells (can you say RUST?) and attach little wing-like appendages to our vehicle. These flares will not actually deflect water, dirt or rocks. They will not enhance the safety or performance of the vehicle. And yet, Big Brother says... *rolling eyes* So, those have been ordered and will be here tomorrow. $100.00 3) Replace one CV boot. Oh PUHLEEZE! Yes, it has a leak. It has a minor, minor leak, and to be perfectly honest, there is a huge enormous possibility that we'll have even MORE leaks after messing with this thing than we do now. But oh, no... no, gotta fix that. The joint is good. The axle is good. But the boot has a microscopic leak and SO, it must be replaced. $170.00 + the hassle of arguing w/ every service manager in St. Mary's County that I am NOT going to pull a perfectly good axle just because they don't want to do the work on the boot.

There ya go- $500+ later, we will then have the privilege to spend another heaven-only-knows how much more money to actually register the vehicle. It's not like... *snort* well, never mind.

On the up side, it's all good. We're ok. We have the money, and whether we'd prefer to spend it on things like this is moot, at least we can get it done. Right? And, it's good that we have the Suburban (which is, to be truthful, the best-running vehicle we've ever owned jointly... we would have had to just set our old Suburban on fire and call it even.)

John built an amazing Pirate Ship from PVC pipe tonight. It has wonderful sails, and even a "private entrance" for the Captain. He made up wonderful games around it, too.

James had a nice heart-to-heart with Zorak and told him that he really does like living in Maryland except for the laws and the humidity, but in general, he likes it ok and is happy here. He is so glad he learned to swim and asked me if we could add swimming to our regular schedule now. Wow!

Jacob is getting more and more brave with his cruising abilities. His balance is improving, too. He is also joining in on the family games in the afternoons, which is a blast and is wearing him out. He's moved his own bedtime up from 9:30 to 8:30. Too cute!

We're taking this week to rest up, rescue the house from six weeks of anti-routine add-on activities, and gather ourselves. Next week we'll begin back to lessons. I think we're all looking forward to that again.


Sunday, August 1

We're Home & I'm Thankful

We found our church home. After visiting for a month and sending the boys to VBS there, not to mention a ton of praying on it and discussing it, we have decided that this is where we need to be for our time in Maryland. *whew* That feels good. It's not 100% spot-on with what I believe, nor with what Zorak believes, either (I'll get to that in a moment), but it is close. Extremely close. It is also friendly, spirit-filled, academic (in that study of Scripture, history, tradition and language are all pursued and encouraged), and pretty much fills in every prayer request I sent up during the four years Zorak was in school.

That said...

Huge kudos go to Zorak. He is a gem among men, and I am so thankful for him. He is actively involved in choosing our church homes, in guiding the boys' spiritual upbringing, and in supervising the overall spiritual growth of our home and family. He encourages me to study the Bible and to follow the teachings of Christianity. He undertakes his role as the Head of our Household with great love and reverence. He listens to Biblical arguments for or against certain decisions. He holds hands around the supper table for prayer.

All that, and he is not a believer. He doesn't ken to the faith I do, and yet he puts that faith at the center of our home and family because he knows how deeply I cherish it (his description is that my faith is not something I do, but what I am~ which is more than a little humbling, to be honest), and that the boys will receive nothing but good from it. He is a strong man, and I appreciate all that he does for us, in more than the traditional ways of providing a roof over our heads and food in our pantry.

He is honest and upfront, as well. He doesn't sugar coat our situation- for me, or for anyone else. He doesn't buy it. He doesn't claim to have the answers, but he's relatively certain Christianity doesn't, either. He asks questions when something seems askew. He challenges my beliefs- not in an antagonistic manner, but in a logical, loving, curious manner. We actually sit down and discuss Faith, Religion, and Doctrine in depth, and our conversations are wonderful.

Yes, I know what the Bible says about being unequally yoked. I know the statistics on mixed faith marriages, as well. But truthfully, although I was not walking closely with the Lord when Zorak and I met, and I have come Home to Him more over the past six years than I had previously, I don't know how many husbands, believers or non, would handle that shift with the grace, love and unconditional support that Zorak has offered to me. I am truly, truly blessed.

So, we have a new church home, and I am once again more thankful than I have words to describe.