Monday, March 31, 2008

Home Education Week - Day 2

Describe yourself, your family or one of your children. What is it like to be home educated in your family? What is “normal” for you?

To be home educated in our family means that we get up in the morning when we feel like it (and this is totally the #1 reason I homeschool). K and L get up first and they are responsible for getting themselves up, dressed, and breakfasted. I get up and do my complete morning routine in blissful solitude that saves my children from much grumbling and yelling. Have I ever mentioned that I am *not* a morning person? I am so thankful that my oldest is (usually) a caring, responsible, mature little soul who delights in taking care of her little sister.

In our family, we begin each day with calendar and Bible time together, then each girl works on their own stuff as we all sit at the table. The second grader has a full curriculum with worksheets and tests. The 4-year-old is still a year and some months away from kindergarten, but she insists on having her own work, so I get workbooks from Target, the bookstore, and the teacher store and she's doing all the pre-K level stuff with no problem. We're definitely going to have to ramp it up for next year.

I love that we live in such a homeschool-friendly area. We very rarely get asked why K isn't in school during school hours and there is always a homeschool day, class, or activity somewhere we can go to. Having only the two kids means it's fairly easy to take advantage of those activities and we love taking off and getting together with other homeschoolers for hands-on learning experiences. Like this Friday. We're taking a big group to a local farm for the "Pizza Tour" where we'll transplant herbs and see the tomato plants growing. Field trips aren't once a twice a year things. In addition to the worksheets on cursive and division, we're always going and doing. That's our homeschool normal.

To see other posts on this topic, visit Principled Discovery and follow Mr. Linky.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Home Education Week - Day 1

Share your personal history…before you were a home educator. What was life like? Think about things you miss and things you and your family have gained.

As our oldest daughter approached kindergarten age, I never had any doubt that we would soon be shopping for school supplies and going through the traditional ritual of dropping my little angel at the door of her classroom and waiting for her to come skipping home with stories of new teachers and friends. In my limited experience, homeschooling was a fringe practice that was used as a desperate last resort to get kids away from the wrong friends or by control freaks who were trying to completely isolate their children from non-Christian influences. Neither of those things were happening in my little world, so it never even crossed my mind except as a freakish thing a few other people did to ruin their children.

Yep, I was real open-minded.

Just before K turned four, we moved to a new state and I found a friend. Who homeschooled. Since I didn’t know anyone, she graciously invited me along to all her summer social activities. With other homeschoolers. As I got to know these women and spent time around their kids, the whole homeschooling concept became just a little less weird. And then the next spring rolled around and it was time to enroll K in school and Mr. at Home shocked me by saying he thought we should look into homeschooling.

<crickets chirping>


I started asking questions of my homeschooling friends and immediately got overwhelmed. I mean, have you SEEN the amount of curriculum choices out there?!? So I enrolled K in school and Mr. at Home was not happy. He did a little more convincing and we came up with a compromise. K would take two classes at our local university-model private school and I would do the rest at home. After all, we had finally gotten a date to go to China to adopt our youngest daughter and it would be really hard on K to start school, miss 3 weeks, then spend the rest of the year trying to adjust to school *and* a new sister.

So we finished our kindergarten year, switched to the A Beka DVD program for first grade, and then to the A Beka traditional program for second grade. Each year, I find that I am enjoying homeschooling more than thought possible. I still don’t have high idealistic reasons for homeschooling, though I do like those benefits. I simply love the schedule flexibility we have. We keep our daily commitments at a minimum, which gives us plenty of time to just hang out or pursue something that interests us. The girls get plenty of rest and plenty of playtime and as a result, they have a great relationship. We get most of our outside classes and activities done during the day, leaving our evenings free to spend time together as a family. Our flexible schedule also allows us to travel more. We can take off and visit our family and friends in Texas or tag along with Daddy on business trips. We visit zoos and museums and take advantage of the many, many homeschooling opportunities here in NC.

Now of course, homeschooling does have its disadvantages. Sometimes all that togetherness makes me want to pull my hair out. I’ve learned to tune out a lot of things because they never stop talking. Every trip to the store or doctor includes two bored, crazy kids. The house is never clean because we’re always here messing it up. But even with all that, I love that we homeschool.

And I don’t think we’re ruining our kids.

To read more posts on this topic by other homeschoolers, go to the Principled Discovery blog post and follow Mr. Linky.

Friday, March 28, 2008

It's a Wednesday Thing

I love Wednesday nights at our church.


On Sundays, we race madly around the house trying to get parents and children dressed, fed, and in the car.

On Wednesdays, we hang out at home until it’s time to pick up Daddy from the bus stop.


On Sundays, we run through the halls to get kids to their classes where we usually have to wait for a teacher to show up so we can make a dash for the sanctuary and breathlessly sink into our seats only seconds before the service begins.

On Wednesdays, we stroll into the building, grab plates full of fabulous food that I didn't have to cook, and sit down for a leisurely dinner with a table of friends or new people to meet.


On Sundays, we make another mad dash to take the older daughter to her class then power walk to make it to our own class before announcements start.

On Wednesdays, we finish dinner then have plenty of time for the kids to play on the playground before their classes start.


On Sundays, we get only a few minutes of hurried conversation before everyone is ushered out of the classroom to retrieve their children and make way for the next class.

On Wednesdays, we have time to sit and chat with our friends who are also enjoying the relaxed pace of the night.


If you don't go to your church's Wednesday night service, try it. It's a good, good thing.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A bargain!

Tonight the girls and I made a trip to the Targets to let Mr. at Home enjoy a little March Madness in peace. I needed make-up, but I just *happened* to glance over at the girls' section and noticed the Easter clothes are 75% off!! So we swooped in and picked up 4 very cute t-shirts for a dollar each. The best part is they not even Easter-y, just general adorable spring colors and designs. So if you want some cute tees and skorts (our Target only had large skorts left or I would've picked up a couple for L) for next to nothing, go! Go now!

Well, okay, you can wait until they open in the morning if you insist.

Home Education Week!

Next week is Home Education Week, which means a whole week of posts on that ever so strange and wonderful thing called homeschooling! Aren't you just bursting with excitement and anticipation?

You're not?

Well, you're going to have to read it anyway, cause it's my blog and I'll write what I want to, write what I want to, write what I want toooooo...

Sorry 'bout that. It must be a side effect of the euphoric feeling I get when I act like a total domestic diva (of the Southern variety) and have a a skillet full of fried chicken on the stove. Unfortunately (thankfully), I happen to be out of taters at the moment and I have to (get to) cheat with some Kraft mac 'n cheese instead of the homemade "your mother must really love you if she makes these" Patman family mashed potatoes.

Don't you wish you were coming to my house for dinner?

Anyhoo, just be sure to check back *every single day* next week for a fascinating look at life in our homeschooling family and I'll link you to a whole bunch of other blogs who are writing about the way they do things. For now, you can click the fancy button above for a preview of the daily topics.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Dilemma

Three is a special number, right?

So when you have been approached 3 times about doing something, you ought to at least consider it, right?

I've been asked to go on a mission trip that will focus on teaching American language and customs to children ages 6-18. Considering that I hold a certificate to teach English and have experience as a classroom teacher and a homeschool teacher, it seems like a tailor-made opportunity for me.

The only thing I can't get past is the timing of the trip. Because we homeschool, I am their sole caregiver during the day. Mr. at Home works and he has an interest in going on the trip as well. I could ship them down to my parents, but they'll both be working and getting the girls to and from Texas could be problematic anyway. The dates of the trip are late September-early October. It's only for a week and a half, so there ought to be an answer. Maybe I could enroll K in my parents' school for the week and get someone from their church to watch L.

So anyone want to see what it's like to have 2 more kids for 10 days this fall?

The Old and the Young of It

Today K was playing with my calculator and announced that if she added my age, her age, and L's age, the answer is 44. Sheesh, that's old. Then I started doing my own calculations. "No, it's 45".


"45. 34+7+4."

"Oh, I put in 33."

Of course, then I had the mental argument with myself of was I 33 or 34 and did I really care enough to do the math. You know you're getting old when you don't mark the *exact date* you turn 7 AND A HALF.

But in addition to the Easter cookies, I can console my aging soul with the knowledge that I still have teen-worthy fabulous hearing.

On Sunday, we celebrated Easter with a few friends, including one boy who has recently reached the dignity of teenhood. As we sat chatting over dessert, I heard a strange high-pitched whine. After a minute (when the whine was getting *really* annoying) I noticed that said teenager was holding his phone and a suspicious grin.

"That's that ring that only teenagers are supposed to be able to hear, isn't it?"

That caused an immediate reaction from all the adults of "What?" "You can hear it?" " I can't hear anything!" His dad could hear it, I could hear it, and another guy leaned extremely close, then declared that he could hear it now that he knew what to listen for. Uh-huh, riiiiiiiiight.

So even if the senility has set in during my dotage, I can still hear those pesky whippersnappers and their newfangled...whatchacallit...phony thingys!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Fun with the grandparents

This time last week, we were soaking up every minute of a short visit by Grandma and Grandad from Texas. We had a blast while they were here, just hanging out and doing the small stuff like a trip to the park and Chuck E. Cheese's. I have the pictures uploaded, edited, exported, and I wanted to share a few.

On Monday, we had a quick, cold picnic at the park and then walked down to the lake. As soon as we walked up to the fence, every duck and 2 geese waddled over as fast as their little webbed feet could carry them in hopes of a few crumbs. We had a blast watching them, especially the way one of the first geese chased off another pair that kept getting in his territory.

Monday night was softball practice and Grandma and Grandad made the trek over to the ball fields with us to watch the almost 2 hour long practice. As if Grandma didn't spend enough time hanging out at the fields with us in our little league days!

Tuesday morning found us at CEC, enjoying the peace and quiet of the whole restaurant to ourselves. Which gave us plenty of opportunity for a few challenges between the "grown-ups" at air hockey, skeeball, basketball, football, and just about every game we could make competitive!

Then Mom and Dad had to leave and they're back in school, getting those post-spring-break kids settled back into the school routine. (I'm sure they'd appreciate your prayers with that.) But that's okay. We'll always have the memories. Of ducks, softballs, and giant mice. Good times.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Because it is not Easter without this song

"Christ Arose"

Low in the grave He lay
Jesus my Savior!
Waiting the coming day-
Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes;
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Vainly they watch His bed-
Jesus my Savior!
Vainly they seal the dead-
Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes;
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Death cannot keep his prey-
Jesus my Savior!
He tore the bars away-
Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes;
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

"You're staying *where*?!?"

So a few days ago, Mr. at Home announces that he's going to a conference in Orlando and did we want to go with him. My "Yes!" was quickly followed with "Let me check my calendar" because I had a funny feeling that there was something really important happening at the same time. Like our yearly standardized test. Phooey. I had already planned to test with a friend and it wasn't like we don't have a ton of fun stuff already planned for this summer, so I told that we really just couldn't go. And take advantage of the employer paid travel and hotel. And enjoy the warm Florida sunshine. And the hotel pool. Nope, we would be good and stick to our plans.

Then Mr. at Home got on the phone and called the hotel to make reservations.

At The Dolphin.


On property.

At Disney World.

You see, I've stayed at The Dolphin before for a conference. And it's very, very nice. With a huge, enormous, super-cool pool...system...thing. And a white sand beach with swan shaped paddle boats. And a fabulous playground.

Did I say we were going to stick to our testing plans? I meant I'm going to try to rearrange my testing plans.

As long as the testing coordinator says I can get K's test at a different time, it looks like we're going to Walt Disney World in April. Woohoo! Of course, we did not have WDW budgeted for April and when I looked at the price of park tickets, I almost swooned. So I decided to break the news to K and L and ask them if they would help us to save money for these next few weeks. It meant giving up getting anything big in their Easter basket, but after a few minutes of looking at pictures and letting the idea sink in, they agreed wholeheartedly. So we have a pact that we won't eat out and we won't buy anything that's not essential and we ought to be able to spend 1 day in 1 park when they're still young enough to fully enjoy the magic that is WDW.

The other days we'll spend fully enjoying the magic that is the Dolphin resort. I even got my first sunburn of the season yesterday, so my pasty white skin is ready to go!

Of course, even more than all the coolness that is the Dolphin and WDW, is the fact that Mr. at Home is actually *working* at the conference. He has been asked to sit on a panel and contribute his vast pool of knowledge to a group of industry experts. He also was notified yesterday that he passed yet another certification test so he's now certified as a something JAVA expert. Very soon he'll have so many letters after his name that his business card will have to be the size of a postcard.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Winter of Illness

Did you know there's yet *another* cold working its way through the at Home house? Tuesday it hit L so that she was crying in the car because her nose and eyes hurt. Wednesday, K is sniffly and droopy. Thursday, it takes over *my* sinuses. The girls both had bad first days, then it's pretty much done. I, however, have a rip roaring sinus headache and feel like warmed over cabbage.

Take just a moment for that visual to sink in.

So tonight you will not be getting a long, rambling post and you will have to wait to see the pictures of Mom and Dad's visit that I finally got transferred to my computer. I am shutting down the laptop and headed to bed with my Alka-Seltzer Plus, a box of kleenex, and a book.

Thank you and good night.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

*sighhhh* back to real life

My parents are on spring break. (No, they aren't another "babies having babies" statistic - they both work in the school system. That way they get to have spring breaks *for life*.) Even though my brother just got home on leave from Iraq, they sacrificed a few days of seeing him to make the trip out here to visit us.

We met them Saturday for a late dinner at Cracker Barrel and spent the next three days packing in as much time and memories as we could. We sat up late talking Saturday night, did church (+Easter musical), lunch out and yummy beef carnitas Sunday, picnic at the park and fabulously delicious pot roast on Monday, then we were planning on a full fun-filled day today. But when we woke up, it was cloudy. And gloomy. And we just couldn't work up the enthusiasm for a full, busy day at some exotic locale.

So we toned our plans down and decided to do something simple. We took the girls to Chuck E. Cheese's.

Now before you think I'm being all sarcastic about CEC being simple, listen to this bit of brilliancy. We drove a little further out and went to the nice CEC. We got there the minute the door opened and we spent the next 2 hours as the only customers in the place. The girls had a blast picking whatever game they wanted and the grandparents and I got to join in the fun since we didn't have to keep the kids in sight every second. After all, there was no one around to cause problems and we could generally hear them. We weren't overwhelmed with all the clanging and whistles and screaming and it was a very fun, relaxing morning.

After that, we headed over to the outlet mall where we wandered around until we found a new, bright, shiny, beautiful, HUGEMONGOUSGINORMOUS Children's Place. I looked through the mall entrance and was blinded by the heavenly glow of discount children's clothing.

Then I realized, the store went all the way through to an outside entrance and it was just the daylight coming through the windows. And that angelic choir? Overhead speakers playing musak. But you would've been fooled, too. Especially after you saw the racks of fleece pajamas for $2.99! Tops *and* pants together for that one ridiculously low price! And it's the ones K's been lusting over for 2 years! I got the girls each a pair and Grandma loaded up on some for the grandsons as well as a supercute fleece jacket and pants set for each of the girls.

After that, my feet were screaming in protest over my not-quite-so-comfy-for-a-100000000-acre-mall shoes, so we headed back toward our car with the obligatory stop on the way for some yummy treats from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. A detour through Sonic, a stop at Target, dinner at Pei Wei, and our fun-filled day had come to an end. Back at our place, the parents packed up everything they were hauling back to Texas and started on their long westward journey.

As soon as we couldn't see them from the window, K got all gloomy announcing that she missed her grandparents already. Don't worry, K. 3 more months and all the summer plans we made together will kick off, but that's another post.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Barbie is dreaming big

Last week I had finally gotten over to the consignment store to drop off some clothes, but their computers were down and they couldn't give me the money right away. So yesterday, we again made the trip over there and as soon as we walked in the door, my girls saw *IT*.

*IT* is a 4' tall Barbie mansion. With an elevator. And they both immediately declared that their lives would be worthless if they did not own this Barbie mansion. Watching L stand on tiptoe to peer into the minuscule "swimming pool" on the balcony, I was transported back to my own childhood and the Christmas I received my own Barbie townhouse that was taller than I was with the real working elevator. The unbridled joy and the hours of play that enormous piece of furniture brought was the stuff of dreams. Between the Barbies and the Star Wars action figures, that townhouse saw a lot of action. Sometimes the Star Wars people were Barbie's kids and sometimes the townhouse was transformed into a battle station where epic wars were played out on its pink floors. Yep, good times.

The townhouse, not being anything more than plastic and cardboard, eventually was destroyed. You know, like the Death Star. But I did not rest until I had convinced my parents that my life would be worthless without it, so they caved and bought me another one.

So I checked out this new Barbie townhouse with it's 3 floors and decided that the construction was a bit more sturdy on this one (probably because it isn't an "official" Barbie item made by Mattel) and it was much cooler than mine was. Maybe it was the 70s psychedelic decor. In a fit of nostalgia (and a brilliant insight into how this could work in my favor), I offered the girls a deal. They could have the Barbie house *IF* they agreed to sell the Fisher Price dollhouse with its million accessories. They never played with it and we could get rid of one category of toys altogether. They immediately agreed, so they are now the proud owners of a fabulous Barbie townhouse, with a real working elevator. So far, the only epic battle played out in this townhouse has been over the tiny pot of plastic spaghetti. No Darth Vader or storm trooper named Amos involved.

I do have to add that when "Amos" played the part of Barbie's son, the story was that he had such a terrible case of asthma that he had to wear a special protective suit. And why yes, we were imaginative children.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Today we packed two bags with the essential wardrobe changes and accessories and sallied forth into the land of cruel and unusual punishment known as

Picture Day

Of course, as homeschoolers, we are denied the convenience of simply dressing them in something decent on the selected day and putting them on the bus uttering prayers and threats that they'd better stay clean until the pictures are taken. We're also blessed by not shelling out $29.95 for a picture with one eye closed and mouth hanging open in the middle of a word.

Nope, we got to pick *3* outfits, including the required matching hair accessories for each different look and traipse over to the photography studio with its multiple backgrounds and poses.

For the past few visits to a mecca of captured memories, we always manage to hit the exact moment when the girls are hungry. Or tired. Or grumpy. Or just plain mad. Our frustrated photographer ends up trying everything in her arsenal to coax a smile out of my crotchety children while I threaten them from the wings with unimaginable horrors if they don't SMILE! And LOOK HAPPY!

I had high hopes this morning as the girls were both very happy with their outfit choices and they both seemed to be as bright and sunshiny as the weather. But L had to go to dance class before our picture appointment. Where she started crying. Uncontrollably. For no reason. This was not looking good.

On the plus side, we ended up leaving dance early, which gave us plenty of time to get L calmed down (she eventually told her she was crying because her "stomach hurt"), eat lunch, and get to the portrait studio 30 minutes early where they could go ahead and get us started.

And the session went beautifully! L's stomach troubles disappeared and the girls cooperated, smiled, laughed, and posed on cue. We got a whole slew of amazing shots and K spent the rest of the day talking about how fun it all was. So here are just a few of the shots from the CD they so graciously gave us of the entire portrait session.

That last one? That's what happens when you give a 7-year-old a feather boa. Or maybe just MY 7-year-old.

I have a confession

I have a big head.

Yep, I know, it's a problem. One that affects so many areas of my life. Like hats. And sunglasses. And those ultra-cute headbands. I mean, do you *know* how hard it is to find stuff to fit a big head? Forget hats because they just look silly perched on top. Even when faced with a whole wall of sunglasses in various styles, it still comes down to the ONE pair that doesn't squeeze my temples and give me a headache.

So what brought on my melon-headed angst tonight? (Besides the allergy attack and high dose of Benadryl, I mean)

My daughter's feet.

Because she not only inherited my big ol' noggin, she got my thick feet, too. We share a high arch that defies the skewed logic of most shoemakers.

We visited many stores and tried on dozens of sandals before we found a pair that didn't cut off the circulation to her toes. I know her pain because I go through the same thing myself when it's time for a new pair of shoes. I called my mom to complain tonight and she didn't feel too sorry for me. After all, she bought my shoes for years. From my first pair of walking shoes where she had to buy the expensive Buster Browns to fit over my arch until the day I started paying for my own shoes, she had to listen to my whining over never finding shoes I liked that fit.

Then she told me that my nephew inherited the same gene. Bwa-ha-ha! My sister has to go through the shoe nightmare, too!

At least she doesn't have dressy white Easter sandals to buy and she doesn't have to explain to her belligerent 7-year-old that they just don't make little girl appropriate Easter hats in her size. Would this cute flowered headband work, instead? After all, hon, you've got to take advantage of the fact that those still fit. For now.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

What I Do All Day

Today I have

  1. Located 3 different outfits for a 4-year-old who can't dress for the weather and can't keep her clothes clean.
  2. Cooked and served a lunch of corn dogs and french fries.
  3. Unloaded and loaded the dishwasher.
  4. Washed several dishes by hand.
  5. Gathered dirty laundry from every room in the house.
  6. Washed, dried, and folded umpteen loads of laundry.
  7. Repaired one bike, removed 2 old bike bells and installed one new one, and sent the girls to the dumpster with one old bike.
  8. Reviewed multiplication and division.
  9. Explained why there are now only 8 planets instead of the 9 listed on her worksheet.
  10. Allowed 1 daughter to paint on final Numbers worksheet instead of taking the easier crayon route.
  11. Cut out L's work for her since she is banned from scissors until next school year.
  12. Gave and graded 2 tests.
  13. Achieved Level 10 on the Home Before Dark game.
  14. Opened, then shut every window since it seems to have gotten colder.
  15. Made a portrait appointment for tomorrow.
  16. Watered the beautiful mini daffodils Mr. at Home brought me.
  17. Explained perimeter.
  18. Repaired one pencil sharpener.
  19. Cleaned "washable" paint off table with Soft Scrub with bleach (because our old table doesn't have a finish worth worrying about)
  20. Sent one child to her room to turn her brain back on (don't worry, I didn't actually *say* that to her) because all "13-8+6" equals is a blank stare then a reaction equivalent to torture (for both of us). "10" got her sent back. So did "7". How friggin' hard can it be to figure that one out?!? Yes, I can see a renewed interest in flashcards in our near future.
  21. Searched 2more stores and finally found white sandals to fit K.
  22. Reported a neighbor who repeatedly does not clean up after her huge dog. Gross!
  23. Returned a movie.
  24. Introduced my daughters to the fine cultural experience of "The Princess Bride"
  25. Served the girls those Campbell's soup-to-go things for dinner that they begged for. They were a hit.
  26. Organized clothes for picture taking tomorrow.
  27. Made bows to match the clothes for pictures.
  28. Made brownies.
  29. Made tea.
  30. Called mom.
Now to go put away some of those clean clothes. And go to bed, 'cause I'm pooped!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

I ought to just enroll her in beauty school

I don't know if I've ever mentioned my youngest daughter's fascination with scissors. Oh wait, how could I *not* have mentioned her obsession and many transgressions involving scissors and hair?

I have recently given my girls free access to the art stuff after L proved her ability to cut only paper and not hair. And sheets. She would often even say after yet another cutting project, "Look! I didn't cut my hair!" And she has grand plans about growing her hair out like Rapunzel.

Today K was trying to help L out by fixing her watch, which project for some reason involved paper and scissors. K laid down the scissors to do something.

And there those scissors sat.



L reached out and picked them up.

And she noticed K leaning over her project. Her shiny long locks swinging forward.




And the temptation proved more than she could resist.

A scream. Tears. And a guilty little girl trying to hide the evidence. She had cut off a piece almost 6 inches long. Thankfully it was a fairly small piece, so it's not noticeable. But the question that now needs to be addressed is

What kind of punishment needs to be meted out to the young slasher?

I read recently on a blog Fully Operational Battlestation (isn't that great name for a blog?!?) that her daughter had recently received a "haircut" from a young cousin and some of the commenters said that the hairstylist should also be required to get a new haircut just like the shorn victim. Unfortunately, L still doesn't have much hair to be cut off and K isn't going to have to have a hair cut.

I did wear out her little hiney and put her to bed, but I don't think that's going to be enough. After all, K has a whole head full of hair left to tempt her.

Friday, March 7, 2008

What more men need to hear

We see it too often. Good Christian couples - strong marriage, heavy involvement in ministry, excited about God's work, they seem to have it all together. Until the one day that the tapestry of their life unravels and they choose the lie of the world rather than the truth they have so publicly upheld. Some time ago, I heard a story of one such couple where the husband strayed, but the road to divorce was blocked by words of experience and wisdom from his father. What a blessing that father was to his son!

Since then I have longed to write that story, so that others could read it and understand. So that perhaps another marriage could be saved. Today I felt the overwhelming need to get over my fear of trying and failing and just start typing. So I did.


The Rest of Your Life

John sat quietly, listening intently to his son who stood beside him at the kitchen table. Disbelief, grief, and anger flooded through him as he stared down at the grain in the wood, but the strongest feeling was guilt. Ultimately, the decision was Jeff's and Jeff's alone, but John knew that his own actions years before had paved this road his son was now traveling.

Jeff paused in his monologue and John spoke into the silence. "So you've made your decision. You're leaving your wife, your children, and you're moving in with this other woman."

Jeff shifted his weight from one foot to the other, glancing impatiently at his father. "Things haven't be all that great with Beth for awhile. When I met Grace, we just...clicked. Before we knew it, we had fallen in love." He paused, then forged ahead, "I can't live with one woman when I'm in love with another. That's hardly fair to anyone."

John finally looked up and locked eyes with his son. He had to fix this and he knew he had only this one chance. "Sit down, son," he said, waving his hand toward the chair at the other end of the table. Jeff hesitated for a moment, but then pulled out the chair and sat, fiddling absently with the mail that lay in front of him. John closed his eyes and sent up a silent, desperate prayer for just the right words.

"Let me tell you what the rest of your life is going to look like," John said. "20 years ago I left your mom, you, your brothers, and your sister. I had found someone else and I thought I was in love. So I know what you're feeling and how you're rationalizing your decision. And I know what's coming for you."

"You said this other woman has kids and that she's already left her husband so she can be with you. Once you two start living together, those rose-colored glasses aren't going to last too long. It won't be the excitement of an affair and it won't be a honeymoon and before you know it, she'll be nagging you to hang up your towel and you'll be complaining about the fourth mystery casserole in a week. Her kids will hate you for what you did to their family and you'll be tiptoeing around every minute they're staying with you. You'll begin to dread every evening when you walk through that door and you'll be wishing for the life you had before."

John could see the anger flaring up in his son's eyes. "Now wait a minute, Dad!" Jeff started.

John interrupted, "No, I want you to hear me out before you start defending yourself and telling me how it's going to be different for you and that woman."

"Her name is Grace, Dad," Jeff interjected fiercely.

"Grace, then." John conceded. "I thought the same thing. I was in love with Jill when I left your mom to be with her, but it didn't last. It can't last. The whole relationship was built on an illusion created by a few stolen moments and reality tore all that down in a hurry. You see, we could never trust each other. After all, cheating is what brought us together and the possibility of it happening again was always there. Anytime I was 10 minutes late or happened to hang up the phone when she entered the room, she accused me of cheating. And I'm not proud that I did the same thing to her."

John paused and saw a tiny spark of fear in the middle of Jeff's anger. It looked like at least some of what he said was getting through. "And then there's your own kids," he continued. "You say Beth has agreed to frequent visitation. Your kids are young and they have to do what you and the courts tell them, but they will hate you just like that other woman's kids hate you. Their behavior will change, they will test every limit and challenge every decision, and they'll probably need counseling to deal with everything and you will have done that to them. Their whole world is turning upside-down because of your choice and don't tell me that you'll still be an active and involved parent. You'll see your kids once or twice a week for awhile, then they'll start sports and other stuff and they won't have the time or the desire to be with you."

"The absolute worst part is that you will stand on the sidelines and watch Beth, the wife you gave up, come to love someone else. She'll get married and her new husband will be the one living in your house and raising your kids. They'll start calling him Dad and he'll be the one playing catch after school and greeting your daughter's first date at the front door. They'll resent their visits to your house because it's taking them away from their 'real' family. You will be an afterthought - a card at Christmas and a call on your birthday. And it will never change. Think about it. How often have you and Beth brought the grandkids over to see me and how often have you taken them to your mother's?"

John voice grew husky, the unshed tears shining in his eyes. He leaned across the table toward his son. "Leaving your mother was the biggest mistake of my life. It only took me a couple of weeks to realize it and I went back to your mom and begged her to forgive me and let me come home. But it was already too late. She had already burned that bridge and wasn't willing to risk my breaking her heart again." He pulled his handkerchief out of his back pocket and wiped his face.

"You have a beautiful, loving, Godly wife waiting for you at home. You have three beautiful children who will follow in your footsteps. Don't throw that away to chase after a fantasy. Don't let your daughters grow up with the idea that she can't trust a man's promise of forever and don't show your son that when things get uncomfortable, it's okay to walk away. Don't end up empty and alone - like me."

Across the table, Jeff had his face buried in his hands. His father watched as he trembled, breathing heavily. The chair scraped across the worn linoleum as John stood up and walked over to his son, placing his hand on Jeff's shoulder. In a voice choked with emotion, Jeff asked, "What have I done? What do I do?" the muffled words full of desperation.

John answered, a sense of purpose giving strength to his words. "You go home, you confess, and you beg for your wife's forgiveness. You go together to a marriage counselor and you find a friend who will hold your feet to the fire as you get back on the straight and narrow." He leaned over, speaking directly as his son slowly raised his head and met his piercing, loving gaze. "Yes, it will be hard and there will be a lot to work out and a lot of changes to be made for both of you. But never, ever doubt that it's worth it."


John watched as his son walked quickly down the path to his car and drove away, headed home to begin the difficult task of reconciliation. There was so much work still to do. Would they make it? Would their marriage recover? His heart was heavy as he turned and shuffled back toward the kitchen. No, wait. He changed his course and sat down in his old recliner, reaching for the worn Bible that he kept on the cluttered end table. With his reading glasses perched on the end of his nose, John turned the pages to James 5.

16Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective...19My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.

John bowed his head and removed his reading glasses. "Lord, I come to You on behalf of Jeff and Beth..."

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

I'm a Cool Rock Star

No, really. I *am* a Cool Rock Star. Shari told me so and she has a degree, people! Plus years of experience behind all that fabulous exterior and expertise.

Naturally, this calls for a shopping trip of major proportions since my wardrobe is way more "mom" than "rock".

Oh wait, I don't have that rock star income. Phooey. I guess I'll just have to spread it out over a long time. A very long time.

So what does a Cool Rock Star wear?

She wears black and white. Strong colors, but nothing with yellow or orange tones and she has to be *very* careful with the greens because there's nothing less appealing than a Cool Rock Star that looks like she's about to hurl. Hot pink is always her friend along with silver jewelry and really big, bold accessories. After all, a cool Rock Star needs BIG patterns and BIG stuff to match her BIG........ahem!...personality.

If you haven't figured it out, Shari is a fashion consultant that spoke at our MOPS meeting last night. She took the time to tell every mom there what clothing, colors, and accessories best suited her natural coloring and build. I got a chance to chat with her for awhile after the meeting and under that polished image is a funny, friendly, mountain-sized personality that was a blast to talk to and laugh with. Yep, it was truly a night of inspiration.

So in honor of the upcoming swimsuit season, head over to her website and check out her tips on how to find the *perfect swimwear* here.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Linking to Lysa

I read a lot of blogs and have been blessed and challenged by many different posts. Today I read a very good post on how God reaches down and touches our life at Lysa TerKeurst's blog.

Go here to read it. You'll be glad you did. After all, a post titled "God is in the Bathroom" has got to be good.

A perfect day at the zoo

Late Sunday evening, I put a couple of things by the stairs that I planned to take on our trip to the zoo. Early Monday morning, the girls had added to it so much that there was a looooong line of stuff waiting to go the car. After vetoing half their submissions, we still had enough for a weekend vacation, rather than a day trip to a city about 1 1/2 hours from home. After a stop at the church to get coordinated, 3 moms and 6 kids got on the road with all the movies, snacks, and toys required for sanity.

We got to the zoo only to discover that they were repairing the train tracks outside the "zoo" entrance so we had to get back on the interstate and go round to the "garden" entrance. It had taken so long to get there that the very first thing we did when we arrived was...

Eat lunch.

We had 6 small children that were *starving* (in spite of the multitude of snacks consumed in the vans) and couldn't possible last long enough to see a couple of animals first. It worked out well, though, so the kids were ready to conquer the whole zoo right after.

And conquer we did! The weather was PERFECT and the animals were out and active and several came right up close. We had such fun watching the elephants, one even took a mud bath by sucking up muddy water in it's trunk and sending it flying over it's belly and back. The kids ran and played and got along very well.

I had printed off some of the zoo's field trip assignments and it was so cute to watch as the oldest ones ran around with their clipboards and pencils and circling all the animals as they saw them.

I posted some photos on flickr here, but it's my first foray into that foreign territory so forgive me if it's a little wonky.

It was after 4 when we finally got back to the cars. I didn't get to see the gardens, but I don't think they were much in bloom yet, so I may have to go back soon. I stopped to grab dinner as we raced back home so K could get to her softball practice. Even going straight to the fields, we were pretty late. Amazingly, K was an absolutely different child than showed up for practice Saturday. She ran everywhere and acted excited to be there, listening carefully to the coaches and running off the field afterward declaring it all as "FUN!" Crazy how a little activity can make a big difference.

After a day of shorts and sun, the skies are hidden behind thick clouds and they're predicting storms and tornadoes. Yep, it's spring. I'm glad we got out and enjoyed it while we could!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

And there was much groaning and moaning

I don't know if you remember, but spring softball has started. K's first practice was Saturday afternoon, so we repeated the lunch at Bojangles (cause it was mighty tasty last Saturday) before heading to the ballfields.

The first thing I noticed as we found the spot where the girls were gathering is that there's a whole lot more talent and coaches on that grass than last year. Then the head coach had a parent meeting where he explained his strategy for teaching the girls skills and that while he would be positive and supportive, he was fairly competitive. Yep, we've definitely moved up to the good team this year.

The second thing I noticed is that K was dragging like she hadn't slept in a week. She was making *me* tired just watching her sloth-like movements. I finally pulled her aside and told her that if she couldn't put a little more speed and enthusiasm into her play, then I was going to make her run bases after practice was over. It worked for about 3.45 seconds, but she just couldn't get it together. So after practice we went to find an empty field.

Now, I know that it's from a winter of being cooped up inside and not getting enough exercise. But she still needed to understand that if she doesn't put forth any effort during practice, she will have to afterwards. We started with practicing running through first base, but she couldn't *not* slowdown before she reached the bag. So I started running with her to make her keep up. And I ran...and ran...and wanted to pass out...and wanted to be a good example so I kept running.

K's not the only one who's been inactive all winter. After all that exercise yesterday, I can not MOVE tonight. I had all kinds of resolutions Saturday to get everyone moving more this week and I even have a day at the zoo with friends planned for tomorrow, so it looks like I'll have *plenty* of opportunity to work out all this stiffness while feeding giraffes and observing the behavior of lorikeets.

Now if only I can motivate myself to go put together our lunch and pack the backpack tonight.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Sacrifices of a Mother

Tonight after dinner, K asked if she could make something out of clay.

Sure! No problem! Just remember that you have to clean up anything you take out.

So K finished up a few little projects and reminded me of one tiny fact I forgot. You have to bake this clay.


Of course, she told me this as I was standing in the kitchen just about to pull out the enormous tub of cookie dough and bake up some gooey, warm, chocolatey chocolate chip cookies. And the oven settings were different. So I couldn't bake them at the same time. Phooey.

Then I did what any selfless, loving mother would do. I put the clay in the oven, rationalizing that by the time the clay was done and the cookies were finally baked, K would be in bed and that would leave more cookies for me and Mr. at Home.

Yep, selfless.

Today at the Christian bookstore

I found 2 copies of THE BOOK. You know, the one with a pink cover and white script reading "I'm Glad I'm a Mom". It was there. I pulled it off the shelf, gleefully flipping to page 29 as I held it up for Mr. at Home and the at Home children to admire. I had to explain to the curious salespeople that the name on page 29 is *my name* and they were all eager to read the story for themselves.

If you haven't run out to buy the book yet, don't worry. The store said that their distributors are reporting that the printing ran late and they don't have copies yet. The publisher sent 2 copies directly to the store, so they had those 2, but it might be a little while before they get restocked. I freely admit that I bought one of those copies since my packet from Hearts at Home won't arrive until after their conference in a couple of weeks. So I had the thrill of seeing my name in print *and* I possess the proof. Between softball practice and other Saturday obligations (you know, like sitting on my duff and playing on the computer), I've gotten halfway through the book and the other stories are fabulous.

It has whetted an appetite in me and brought to mind other funny and tender moments that would make great stories. But even now, if I never got another thing published, I'd be okay with that. I don't have the ambition to become a household name, pouring myself into writing so that my family suffers. I'm happy right where God has placed me.