30 March 2010

Today I am wondering...

Which am I, really?

And Christ's life indeed makes it manifest, terrifyingly manifest, what dreadful untruth it is to admire the truth instead of following it. When there is no danger, when there is a dead calm, when everything is favorable to our Christianity, then it is all too easy to confuse an admirer with a follower.

And this can happen very quietly. The admirer can be under the delusion that the position he takes is the true one, when all he is doing is playing it safe. Give heed, therefore, to the call of discipleship!

If you have any knowledge of human nature, who can doubt that Judas was an admirer of Christ?

~Kierkegaard

Read Ann Voskamp's thoughts on this here.

How are you going through Holy Week?

So, how's life?

Not much is going on in my life right now...

That's short-hand for "I just packed my soul-mate off the other side of the world for three months, and I'm planning to not think about anything except how I'm getting through the next five minutes, until all the five minute slots before he comes home are used up."

Sort of the equivalent of "I'm fine!  How are you?"

Thanks for asking.  Do you really want to know?  (No one ever does.  Sometimes I give a quick answer that leans toward "Show me if you really care, and I'll really tell you."  I think that scares people.)

And I'm not trying to sound bitter, really.  Just pointing out one of those foibles of humanity, which, really, can be pretty funny.

In the spirit of laughing at the foibles of others, I discovered, this evening, an absolutely hysterical blog.  It's called Stuff Christians Like.  I was led to it by an Amazon recommendation for the book of the same title.  Now that I've e-mailed three different posts to three different people, I thought I'd just put one up for all you anonymous blog readers to enjoy.  This one is really funny.

24 March 2010

I think I may be in love

I recently got a food processor from a lovely woman on Freecycle.  She not only gifted me with this item but, when I realized it was missing a piece, searched her pantry 'til the absent item materialized, and then made sure that it made its way to me as well.  I was very grateful, but, never having had a food processor before, I wasn't quite sure where to start with it.

Then I got the idea to try it with pie crust.  Now, ordinarily I hate making pie crust.  Cutting in the lard (and yes, I do use lard; sue me, it makes a nicer crust) is a total pain in the patootie, even with the special gizmo.  But this time?  I just threw all the crust ingredients in the food processor, whizzed it around, and I was good to go:


 25 minutes from "Gee, I think I'll bake a pie." to popping it in the oven.  My life in the kitchen will never be the same.  (Also, possibly, my waistline.)

Waistline aside, that definitely Works For Me.

This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday, hosted by Kristin at We Are THAT Family.  Visit there for other great ideas.

23 March 2010

This post is brought to you courtesy of the folks at Vita Familiae

The last time I posted about bodily fluids on my blog was also Lora Lynn's fault.  I take no responsibility.  I think better of these things (no, I really do) and then I head over there and she makes it sound so darn funny I end up thinking "Oh, what the heck!"  And you all suffer the results.

So, what I didn't put in my last post was how my day actually started, which was like this:

At 6 a.m., my alarm went off.  I detached Monkey3 from my chest enough to roll over and hit the snooze button, for which he squawked at me in aggravation.  Like he hadn't been nursing for three hours, at least.

Nine minutes later, I hit the snooze button again, and was just drifting off when Monkey1 walked into our room and announced "I stepped in cat poop with my feet, and my hands, and my knee."

I thought maybe he was sleep-walking.  He does tend to get rather agitated at times, and he talks in his sleep.  The other night he got out of bed, climbed onto Monkey2's bed, and walked the full length of it, then came back down and stood there while I tried to get him back into his own bed.  So the sleep-walking thing wasn't totally unfounded.  Plus, it meant there (probably) wasn't really any cat poop.  I could hope.

"Where was it?" we asked, hoping for an incoherent answer.

"In the kitchen." he replied.

That could have been coherent, but, on the other hand, why on earth would he have been in the kitchen at six a.m?  We persisted with our questions, and he gamely described how he had gone into the bathroom and washed his hands (from which "the poop just fell right off"), but not his feet or his knee.  Hope dimmed, and we realized (after asking him directly and receiving a very annoyed negative) that he was, in fact, not asleep.

Fortunately (for me) I was nursing, so the Mad Scientist got to head down to the kitchen and assess the damage.  But then, Monkey3 decided cat poop was more interesting than nursing, so I ended up cleaning up the mess anyway.  It turned out the be vomit, but my relief was tempered by the fact that, while we'd been trying to determine what, exactly was going on, the cat had vomited yet again, just outside the bedroom.

Good Morning!  It must go up from there, right?  :-)

Today in my life...

I took the children to Michael's with the stated purpose of getting 1) pretty paper to finish decorating my new chandelier and 2) stuff to include in letters to our sponsored child.  I told the monkeys they were getting nothing.  That wasn't why we were there.

Right.  Before we even walked in the store, I found some wooden models for only $1.  Monkeys 1 and 2 got sailboats.  Monkey3 wasn't interested, which was fine.  Because we weren't there to get stuff for the kids.

Then I found these.



Different animals for everyone.  I also found these:


I told the oldest two monkeys they would have to spend their own money on the swords, as I had spent quite enough on treats already.  No problem, they were good with that.  (And had some money left over from Christmas gifts.)  Of course, Monkey3 didn't have a way to approve that, so he didn't get one.  Remember that point.  It will come up later.

So, returning home, I got Monkey3 down for a nap and then helped my two oldest with their sailboats.



Not bad, if I do say so myself.  Monkey3 got up, and I sent them outside with a snack (graham crackers.)  Monkey1 wanted peanut butter on his, and solemnly informed me that he would be the waiter, and spread the peanut butter, because he could be a helpful waiter who spreads peanut butter for people.  Perfect.  I stayed in the house for two seconds of quiet.

Just then I looked at the clock, realized it was 5 o'clock, and the Mad Scientist opened the gate.  We chatted in the kitchen for a few minutes, and I suggested Chick-Fil-A for dinner.  Because, strange as it sounds (now that I type it out and realize how little I actually accomplished today), I was beat.  Then we separated our brawling sons, the larger of whom was beating the smaller with his new foam sword.  We determined that the issue was, the youngest wanted to have a sword fight, and so had attempted to appropriate his brother's weapon.  We tried to give him his sister's weapon, and she immediately decided she wanted it herself.  I decided to buy another sword asap, and we headed out to the car.

As I buckled Monkey1 into his seat, sword in his hand, he announced "If a policeman pulls us over, I am going to point my sword at him and growl ferociously."

Probably, I should have kept a straight face and explained that policemen are generally nice people who do their best to keep us all safe, but that's not what I did.  Instead, I laughed.  Hysterically.

Tonight was Kid's Night.  I didn't know that when we decided to go, but it worked out.  There was a balloon artist.  Monkey1 was fascinated, and overcame his distaste for talking to strangers so much, that he actually walked up to the man, waited for an opportune moment (with some gentle guidance), and asked him where he learned "to make pretty things with balloons."  This was HUGE.  My son doesn't talk to strangers.  He announced in the car that he also wants "to make pretty things with balloons to make small children happy."  My son is now an aspiring balloon artist.

(The Mad Scientist said "There goes my retirement plan.")

I have to share one more thing, because it was just so funny, but I'm going to have to reword slightly to make it more appropriate.  Be warned.

Listening to chatter in the backseat on the way back to Michael's (returning one thing, picking up another sword), we were first stunned, and then hysterical, as we heard our sweet Monkey2 casually state "Oh dear, my [nursing apparatus] is just twirling in the breeze!"

This was followed by an announcement that Larry Boy was stuck in the balloon rocket ship, and life went crazily on.  :-D

17 March 2010

Thoughts on Healthcare

I was browsing through Ravelry the other day, and happened upon a link to a blog post.  Now, this blog is by a woman with dual American/British citizenship.  She grew up in the US, moved to GB after college, married an Englishman, and then moved back to the States after 15 years.  So her perspective is very different, and I enjoyed her very thoughtful take on the healthcare debate.  I thought you might, as well.

I recommend starting with this post:  This American's Experience of Britain's Healthcare System.  It is excellent.

Then, to help put things into a slightly new perspective, go ahead and read What a Strange School System.  That one really made me stop and think (despite the fact that I don't necessarily agree with the idea of the Federal Government administering the public education system, at least to the extent that it currently does.)

These posts came from the blog Potential and Expectations, which I had never seen before this week, but which I plan to peruse in the future.  It's always nice to get a new perspective.

What do you think?

11 March 2010

Storytime

Chez-moi, reading is a big deal these days.  It's the thing to work on.  So it is not, perhaps, surprising that my sweet middle child has taken to "reading" stories at every opportunity.  First, about two weeks ago I overheard her in the bathtub, getting very upset with her brother because she needed ALL the letters, because she was writing "a very LONG sentence to God!"  Here it is:



Then, she has begun to read stories to her brothers, any time she can get them to sit still and listen.  Since we tend to go over and over and OVER the same books, she does a pretty good job of following the basic story-line, even if she rephrases things here and there.  I'm pretty certain she has her brothers convinced that she's actually reading:


(Sorry about the camera strap across the corner, there.)  The other day she sat down for an impromptu story-time session with Monkey3.  There was no dress-code:


Appropriately enough, the story was Where The Wild Things Are, and I can answer that question:  They're here.  Does anyone else have a Wild Thing or two at their house?

10 March 2010

But what if...

There are a lot of blogs out there that do devotionals.  I read several.  Right now, my favourites are Run the Earth, Watch the Sky, and Holy Experience.  

I don't write devotionals.  I wouldn't presume.  But this experience tonight got me thinking, and so I wanted to share my thoughts.

This evening, we went to Chick-Fil-A to celebrate.  My littlest Monkey turned 2 on Monday, and I was a total delinquent and forgot, until about 3 p.m., that it was his birthday.  Then I went out to Knit Night, and when I came home everyone was sick.  So we postponed the party.

Driving home tonight, Monkey2 suddenly piped up from the backseat:

"It's really dark outside, and I'm afraid!"

"But, Sweetheart, you don't need to be afraid of the dark."

"I know," she continued, "but what if bad guys come and kill us all?"  (Where on earth do they get these questions!?)

I paused.  I didn't want to tell her that wouldn't happen, because the truth is, someday, it could.  I didn't want to trivialize her fear, or brush it off as silly.  Anyone who studies history knows that bad guys in the night have been, and still are, the stark reality of much of the world.  Safety is not the norm.  When we lie down and sleep in peace, it truly is only because the Lord sustains us.  (Psalm 4:8)

"Well," I replied, carefully, "if that happened, we would all go to Heaven to be with Jesus."

And she answered "Yes, but I don't want to go be with Jesus right now."

Isn't that the way we all feel, really?  We're afraid, and Heaven sounds nice, and of course you want to go there when you die.  But not now. Not today.  And we are so afraid that something will take us, now, before we are ready.

The Bible describes a soul longing for God, as "As the hart panteth after the water brooks" (Psalm 42).  We are challenged by the apostle Paul who said "For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." (Philippians 1:21)  We are urged to put our treasure in heaven, that our heart may be there, and not here, where all that we hold dear must eventually decay. (Matthew 6:19-20)

This is a paradox we must live out, day by day, seeking and longing for a reality that seems nothing but shadow, while living with a shadow that is the only reality we can see.  But we don't need to be afraid, because the Truth is, what we see now, whether bad guys in the night, or health care reform, or the failure of health care reform, or economic crises, or geological crises, global, local, personal, or nationwide problems, these things are nothing.  They have no true power.  They are not worthy to be compared.

15For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.  16The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
 17And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
 18For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.   (from Romans 8)
I try to remember that.

09 March 2010

Homeschooling 101

Well, one thing that I learned after returning home from the conference is, if I'm going to really give homeschooling 110%, it doesn't leave much time for blogging.  Sorry about that!

I actually had a really great week last week.  I got up at 6 every morning and exercised, did school with the children, and worked on cleaning the house.  I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, midnight to strike, and reality to begin again.

Last night, I went out for a writing workshop at the local library, and my Knit Night.  When I returned home, I learned that my two oldest children had been throwing up since I left, and poor Monkey3 followed suit within minutes of my return home.  Welcome back to reality.

(Incidentally, at the poetry workshop, we were supposed to write a list of words that we associate with our work.  One of the first ones that popped into my mind was "vomit", because really, there's a lot of that in mothering.  And I thought "Wow, I actually haven't had to deal with that recently!"  Yeah.)

But I was going to tell you about the homeschooling conference!  Rick and Marilyn Boyer were the keynote speakers, along with Peter Marshall.  We missed both of Rev. Marshall's talks (late arriving, had to leave early because of exhaustion), but we really enjoyed hearing the Boyers.  They are parents of 14 children, whom they have been teaching at home for the last 30 years.  When they talk about homeschooling, they know what they're talking about!

In the first General Session (which started a few minutes late), Rick Boyer said there are three requirements for being a homeschooler.  Pencils ready?
     1.  You must be broke.
     2. You must drive a junk car.  (To be in the Old Timer's Club, it must be a mini-van with fake wood paneling.)
     3. You must be late, everywhere you go.

I turned to my sweet husband (who is new to this scene, and I think was a bit stunned), and said "Excellent!  We're in!"  :-)

Mr. Boyer also noted that, these days, the denim jumper is optional for the homeschooling mother, but pointed out that "You always get more respect when you wear the uniform!"

We had a really great time, attended some excellent workshops, and had fun wandering through the exhibit hall.  For lunch, we ran across the street to the hotel bar, were I had an experience totally bizarre to someone who first experienced Buffalo Wings only an hour from the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY, where they originated:

Carrots notwithstanding, the wings were very good.  (The beer was for The Mad Scientist.  Just so you know.)

We got to see an old friend, which was lots of fun, and by which, let me hasten to add, I mean a friend who has been such for a long time, and not a friend who is old.

Mr. Demme has been a friend of my family for years, and it was really great to see him again and catch up a bit.  He started off telling my husband that, at one point, he and my parents were contemplating a match between me and his son  (who is now also happily married).  :-)  I don't think The Mad Scientist took it too personally.  At least, he let me buy the Math-U-See curriculum for next year.

One of my main goals at the conference was to find a phonics and a handwriting program for Monkey1.  We focused a lot on math this year, and while he has made great strides in that area, reading has been sorely neglected.  We have gotten through lesson 12 in Reading Made Easy, and have done each one at least twice.  Crazy.  I wasn't sure he had learned anything, so you can imagine my astonishment just a day or two before the conference when he sat down and did this without any help from me at all (except to correct the direction of his "D"):


At some point this year, he has taught himself to write the entire alphabet!  And I can't take credit, because I haven't worked with him at ALL on writing.  I love homeschooling!  I bought a new handwriting/phonics combination program that also incorporates drawing from Memoria Press.  It's called First Start Reading.  I like it, because the lessons are short, and there is the drawing component.  Plus, it starts right in with words in lesson 3, which was good, because poor Monkey3 already knows lots of letter sounds, and I didn't really want to drag him through pages of working on those before he got to do any actual reading.  This program seems like a good fit for him, and I'm hoping to see his reading really begin to take off in the next few months.  He's definitely ready, so we'll see what happens!