Sunday, December 27, 2009

Candy Cane, Candy Cane - Wherefore art thou?

DS is hunting through the house looking for one last treat. DH bought candy canes to put in the kids' stockings on Christmas, but alas, they cannot be located. We have looked high and low for them and cannot find them. DH bought them at least a month ago and so he tucked them away for safe keeping, but apparently the place is so safe, it cannot be located.

I can so identify with this problem as when I buy presents throughout the year and tuck them here and there, I end up spending most of December searching for the items in different little nooks and crannies. Apparently, this has actually brought some admiration of my DD who at almost 15 knows the secrets of Santa and has begun to be impressed by the true secrets of a parent that can keep such secret gifts hidden until the morning of Christmas.

How do you hide Christmas gifts? and if you have any thoughts on the missing candy canes, my children would love to know.

Friday, December 25, 2009

And Unto You A Child is Born

This Christmas is bringing us even more to celebrate than ever. This year, while celebrating the birth of the Christ child, our family is also celebrating the birth of a child in need. As I mentioned, we have been certified as a foster family this week. Well, we also had our first official training and a meeting to discuss a possible placement. I worried that our words did not reach the ears and the hearts it needed to, but at 2:30 on Christmas Eve we got our call and on Monday we will be getting our first placement.

The excitement I am feeling is coupled with so many fears: What if we are not enough? What if I can't remain calm? What if we do something stupid to this child who is already so delicate? How do I best keep everything in balance for this child, for our current children, for my husband, and for myself?

But the biggest question that echoes in my heart is how as a society can we continue to let these children down?

This new coming year will certainly be a year of new things for us; This new child certainly being the largest. As you contemplate your new year, might there be a place for another child in need. Jesus was born in the manager, wrapped only in swaddling cloth. As he grew, he talked to us about helping the least, the lost, and lonely and he encouraged us to help. Can you hear his call?

How can you answer? I pray that you have had a wonderful Christmas and that in this new year you will think about how you will make next Christmas wonderful for a child who was hurt and lonely this year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Christmas Miracle

We are official now. We are officially a foster family. We received our letter yesterday, the same day that we had our meeting for our first possible placement. For now we just have to wait as "the system" does its job, but we are definately on the right track.

It is interesting that a friend recently made a comment that you know you are doing what you should when it brings tears to your eyes. As I sat at the table with all the associated social workers, telling them why we would be a good family for this child, and hearing all about his issues, I found myself tearing up. I was able to control the tears, but I had to stop to take a breath before the reality of this child's life overwhelmed me. So based on my friend's philosophy, we are doing what we should be. I just wish things would come together faster for both him and us.

So, I am asking you all again for a prayer. A prayer this holiday, as we sit with our family around us, that all the children in the world can feel God's love and that one by one each of these needy children will find a home and people that love them. Amen

Monday, December 21, 2009

Another great Christmas Tradition - Spritz cookies

Spritz cookies have been a part of my family traditions from my earliest memories. My mother was not a big baker, but these I remember firmly. They are actually fairly quick cookies to make and do not require refrigeration, but they do require a cookie press. I so miss my mother's. Hers finally broke after over 30 years of usage a couple years ago; since then, I have gone through about five, but have yet to find one as durable and trouble-free as hers.

This year I was actually making the cookies for Breakfast with Santa that the library was sponsoring, but like an elementary school child who doesn't do their homework banking on the upcoming snow storm, I put off my evening cookie making. When the snow did not come, I started making them at 7 am.

Of course, as I wrapped up the cookies to go. I could see it in my husband's eyes: "More cookies please". And when my daughter and I drove to our old hometown to see their Christmas pageant the men baked away and by the time we got home cookies were freshly baked. Oh, so yummy.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

How to make a perfect Gingerbread House

How do you make a perfect Gingerbread House? I think you pre-buy a built house. Some of you might like to build your house from scratch, but I prefer to make this a few hour project and not days.

Gather some candies:

Flick on the Christmas tree, light a fire, and find a sappy Christmas movie to play in the back.

Then, decoate with abandon.

This is the first year that I've been able to join in the decorating - check out my Chex Mix roof. The idea comes from an advertisement in Taste of Home Magazine (which by the way is a very inexpensive, but much enjoyed Christmas present).

I highly suggest that if you do not already incorporate gingerbread house decorating in your holiday plans that you add it now. In a busy time of hustle and bustle, gingerbread house decorating brings a bit of solice and family time.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Reading Challenge 2009 Conclusion

Well, as 2009 is quickly coming to a close, I thought perhaps we should try to look over the 2009 reading challenge to see where we are. I think from the instructions of "Let’s set a goal of reading 12 books in 12 months" that I have achieved that, but I'm not sure that I have managed all the segments that I noted. Let's see how close we came:

1. Book written by a long lost lover i.e. an author you enjoyed pre-kids.
This one was tough, but I read a great compilation of essays that my daughter picked out, Eloquent Essays that included many of my favorite authors: George Orwell, Barbara Kingsolver, and some very intersting essays by Carl Sagan and Martin Luther King Jr.

2. A book that allows you to travel to a place of your dreams.
Angels & Demons by Dan Brown - What I would give to see the art of Italy?

3. A book that brings you back to a place you’ve been before by location, character, job, or some other way.
Everything Matters! by Ron Currie Jr. This book takes place primarily in Maine, has a scene in Boston, and has a huge section that is based on the cancer his father is facing. Fortunately or unfortunately, I have been in all three of these places.

4. A book recommended by your librarian (If you haven’t met him or her yet, it is time to get reacquainted).
Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns

5. A book that is or was on the NY Times Best Seller list.
The Alchemist by Paula Coehlo

6. A biography of a person that interests you.
The Knockout Entrepreneur by George Foreman or Still Life with Chickens by Catherine Goldman. In these cases, I wasn't interested in George Foreman before I read his book and I had never heard of Catehrine Goldman, but both were great reads.

7. A book that is found in the Children’s or Young Adult section.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

8. A book on which a movie is based. Then plan an evening to watch the movie too.
Ok, I have to cheat and use Angels & Demons twice. I was dying for the movie to come out and was thrilled when DD brought it home as a suprise. Next, we are going to read his Digital Fortress. Do you think I'll get a movie for that one too? Tom Hanks, if you are listening, please start filming for a March 2010 release: ; )

9. A book of historical fiction.
The 19th Wife By David Ebershoff - - - This was an incredibly good book that intertwined the life of Brigham Young's 19th wife and a current day 19th wife in a fictitious Mormon sect.

10. A book recommended on any blog. Ok, I have to stretch this one a bit two, mostly because I don't recall who recommended specific books or how I came to read them. However, I know that Faithful Ruslan was recommended by a fellow book club member. Recommendations from others is a great way to expand your regular reading repertoire. This book for example I would have never read without a recommendation but am so glad that I did.

11. A book that claims it will make your life better because you read it.
Guinea Pig Diaries - by AJ Jacobs. While AJ does not claim that he will make your life better, his experiments do open your eyes to looking at the world in a new way which can in turn improve your life.

12. A book that is recommended by someone else in the comments of this blog (hopefully the list will be longer toward the end of the year).
Well, I can't do this one, because I need you all to talk. It is great to read, but we need some interaction to know about some new books.

Well, we didn't get all twelve, but pretty close. So now I will need to set up the 2010 reading challenge. Do you have any ideas or recommendations?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Book Suggestion - Mr. Peabody's Apple

Ok, I have to share this one. A dear friend recommended this book to me the other day. She is a 1st grade teacher and she read it to her class and was astonished by the way it touched them. The book, irronically, is by Madonna or more specifically re-told by Madonna. The story is about rumors. The story vividly shows how rumors can hurt and sometimes all the hurt and pain cannot be fixed with an "I'm sorry": some damage is irrepairable.

I must tell you that I took the book out from our library here and was as impressed as she was. So I am passing on this recommendation to you as well.

Article on Homeschooling Socialization - a must copy for the holiday season

Here is a wonderfully supportive article for homeschoolers. It may be a good one to print off and have with you during this holiday season. When someone says, "But how are they socialized?" You can just hand them a copy of the article and ask them to read it before you will discuss the issue further. When there done, I their concerns may be gone. There next question may be, "and how do I start homeschooling my children?"
HOME-SCHOOLING: Socialization not a problem - Washington Times

Monday, December 14, 2009

Prayers for Michelle Duggar

Did you hear? The 19th baby of the Duggars was born. Unfortunately, the birth was three months premature. I'm sure the family could use some extra prayers.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Helping others during the holiday season

Do you feel like you could have done more today to help others? Here is a way to feed 10 people without even leaving your seat and make someone's day at the same time. Kraft Foods is donating 10 meals to Feeding America for each mailing of a holiday e-card. It is that simple. So stop reading and start acting. Send your e-card now.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

O Christmas Tree

It looked like we were getting close to yet another year without a tree. We have not had a tree for two years. Two years ago, we were getting the floors done at the old house to prepare for selling the house, and then last year, we didn't put up a tree because we needed to be ready for showings. Unfortunately , a giant tree in the living room made the room look very small. So we settled for a 3' psychedelic Home Depot special for two years running. It is still used as a decoration in the house but not quite so prominently, though it has found a special place in my heart.
This year, life was piling up and I wasn't sure when we were going to get to it again. As you know, we did get the house decorated, but the tree itself was looking a little elusive. Sadly, we had to make a choice for DH and the kids to go tree hunting without me since I had to work, but better that than another year without a tree. DH was sweet enough to take pictures so that I could see their search.

By the time that I got home from work, they had the tree up and decorated.

Now we just have to find tinsel which is almost impossible to find around here. Apparently we have about the same chance of finding tinsel as we do in getting the H1N1 vaccine. Why, we do not know, but DH and kids went to four different stores looking for it and could not find it. So right now the tree is a little bare, but soon will have it glittering.

Tinsel has a long history in my family. I have to admit that I was surprised to find out how cheap tinsel was. When I was growing up, you would have thought tinsel was gold. I remember being instructed by my mother to only put three strands on each branch which we would methodically remove and save at the end of the season. I figured that tinsel had to be incredibly expensive and so when I had my first tree, I did not even question doing the same thing. DH looked at me like I was insane. "Honey," he said. "A box of tinsel is only 99 cents. We can throw it out. It is ok."

What funny Christmas memories do you have? Show us your tree. Include the link in your comment and we'll come check it out.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Creating a Genealogical Record for Your Family

I have always been fascinated by genealogy. I love the search, finding first hand documents, hearing old stories, traveling across time and space as our ancestors emigrated to this country. All the facts and details are fascinating. Fortunately, this interest runs in the family so I am luck to have other genealogy fans to work with.

In typical fashion my family kind of jumps in and out of it and looks down all different lineages to see what interesting tid-bits we can find. My aunt, however, is much more methodical and has created a wonderful book on my mother's side which she gave to all the descendants for Christmas a few years ago. Now I'm sure, in many households this book is a dust collector, but in ours it is a great reference book. What a better way to make history come alive than have a direct connection to a historical event. This week, the kids got the book out and were doing a comparative table of jobs that have been held in our family. DD found out that we had farmers, silk workers, bankers, entrepreneurs, gas company employees, inn keeper, blacksmith, and a whole boat load of teachers. DS was especially interested when he found that part of the Shaw family owned a grocery store. He immediately wanted to know if we were heir to the Shaw's supermarkets. He is no fool. Genealogy suddenly became very important.

Most interestingly though was that this common interest brought the siblings together to work, which is not always that easy. They worked cooperatively at this for several hours. They would scour through the histories of individuals that my aunt had compiled and glean out the occupations, which DD put in a spreadsheet on the computer.

If you have a genealogy, you may want to dig it out to work with as you work on graphs, geography, language, culture, etc. And if you don't have one, this might be a great time to start one.

We frequently use: - this is a web page that you need to pay for, but there is an initial 14 free trial.

Burial ground records are sometimes online and can be a great help.

My aunt gave DD a great book called Climbing Your Family Tree: Online and Off-Line Genealogy for Kids by Ira Wolfman.

and easiest and most importantly, talk to the relatives that are still alive to get down their history before it is lost. Perhaps a great gift this Christmas would be

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Does Power Go to their heads

I don't get it. Why do people that have what appears to be everything flush it down the toilet? What goes through their minds. In the most recent case that is developing of Tiger Woods, he has done it not once but several times. The same was true of Bill Clinton. Then there was Gary Hart who dared the media to catch him.Well, I guess they managed to catch him. I am just fascinated by this philosophy of untouchable cockiness. I would be so thrilled to be at such a point in my career / life, I would worry that it could disappear at any moment. I would not tempt fate. Now mind you, I'm sure there are plenty of us that have made far stupider choices, but our gain / loss ratio is far different. It is like choosing between jumping off a dock or jumping off a cliff. In Tiger's case, I don't know what to think and I don't think we have heard it all, but I feel for him, his wife, and most especially for his children. It looks like he lost his wife, some portion of custody, most likely his endorsements, and who knows what else. He surely has lost my respect. I hope that it is somehow turns out to be some big mistake.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

If I homeschool will my child be able to get a job?

One of the biggest fears of the general public is how does homeschooling prepare children for their future? Will they be employable or just end up on the public rolls? What they don't realize is that many homeschooling parents worry about the same thing. We know that we only have one chance at this. Unlike in a public school, where children fail, quit, or expelled every day, and then they still have a crowd of children still to educate; the children that we teach are our own. If homeschooling fails, the repurcussions have a direct impact. We worry every moment if we have made the right choices and are properly equiping our children for their future. Yesterday, part of my answer came as it relates to my family. DD received her sub-professional librarianship certificate. It is almost like an apprenticeship certificate for librarians. Whether this becomes her permanent career path will remain to be seen, but at least it gives her an option. I am so proud of her hard work and look forward to continue to see her develop in this area.

Monday, December 7, 2009

How Homeschooling can help a child with learning disabilities

As I have mentioned before, as part of my job, I get the luxury of hearing great educators speak about topics facing public education. This is certainly unique given that my family doesn't actually use the public school system, but I always enjoy it because it keeps me up to date on research in the field. Interestingly though this week, one of the speakers made a comment that one of the states uses the fourth grade reading scores to extrapolate the number of jail cells that they will need in the future. The speaker gleaned from this statistic that bad readers in the fourth grade meant future convicts and felt that if we were to make children better readers by fourth grade by focusing more on early intervention then these children would never become criminals. I believe (mind you this is completely my opinion and I have done no research on this independently although I think it would be a fascinating area to research) that he is possibly looking at this statistic from the wrong perspective. I think quite possibly, based on reading that I have done particularly on boys, that many children are not ready to read at the same time that our educational setting is pushing it and that basically by fourth grade these students have learned two things: they are stupid and they hate school. These two messages push them to rebel and act out which then quickly becomes a slippery slope. I believe that instead of pushing harder on their weakest skill set, perhaps we should do the reverse and relax a little bit. While there should still be reading and reading instruction with a focus on phonics, we should separate reading and intelligence. We should find other ways for these children to learn their subjects and excel. Our education system is far too heavily weighted on reading and writing which literally handicaps those that develop these areas later or have processing difficulties.

My belief in this comes from the personal experiences of many homeschoolers. There is a plethora of anecdotal evidence of homeschoolers who have taken their children out of school because of reading / behavior problems and with a little space, some extra time, and success in other areas, these children not only learn to read; they recognize their own intelligence; they are not behavior issues; and they may even go on to love reading instead of hating it. Reading is not knowledge. It is one way to obtain it.

In our case, my son has many issues with reading and writing and the only thing that he learned in Kindergarten and first grade in public school was that he was dumb and that he hated school. Taking him out didn't solve everything, but we were able to reverse his feeling of self loathing and his dislike for education. His learning disabilities will never leave him, but he is learning tools to compensate. Most recently, I was impressed with this:

He was tasked to put together a cooking demonstration for Boy Scouts. He is a wonderful Dutch Oven cook as I have mentioned previously (and interestingly will happily pour through cookbook after cookbook to look for the perfect recipes). This diagram is his plan for tool, space, and equipment needed for the evening. This could have been written in a list, but for him the visualization was easier for him. Frankly, he accomplished what was needed. So is there anything wrong with this approach? I can't even imagine what the response would have been if he turned something like this in school, but this homeschool mom for one is very proud and I can guarantee you that everyone that eats the food that he cooks on Thursday won't know that he has done it any differently. Plus, look how effective this diagram will be when he explains what he is expected from his 3 or 4 helpers. They will know what he expects and where he expects. It would probably take your or I several pages of words to get this same point across.

How can homeschooling help a child with learning disabilities? It can give them the time and space to develop their skill set without outside pressures that begin to beat them down to such an extent that they give up and end up hating learning, possibly get angry, and become the statistic that the speaker recited the other night.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

As you are working to fill your Christmas list, consider Kiva:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Knockout Entrepreneur By George Foreman - a book review

Do you ever read outside of your comfort zone? This book, Knockout Entrepeneur by George Foreman, was suprisingly good. I choose to read it for its entrepreneurial advice, but became fascinated by the man. If you are not familiar with George Foreman, his first call to fame was as the heavyweight champion of the world, which he achieved not just once, but twice. His second call to fame was the George Foreman Mean Lean Grilling Machine, a product that has grossed him millions of dollars. This book ties these two event together as a guide to help you achieve business success.
The writing in this book is chock full of inspirational quotes, so much so that I could not help but pull out a pencil to underline them. I was also impressed with his Godly view on life and how strongly he adhears to his beliefs (even when it costs him money). I found the entire George Foreman story inspirational and will be passing this book on to both DD and DH to read. DH will appreciate the business advice and DD will be inspired by his determination, grit, and faith.
Note: This book was provided to me as a Thomas Nelson Book Reviewer, but I am free to express my own opinions about what I read. For more information, see

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friendship braclets with a twist

DD is a friendship bracelet addict. She even has medium sized safety pins on her Christmas list (so that she can easily pin the threads to her pants for proper knotting). She always carries multiple colors of thread in her purse so that she can pull out her project at any moment. In doing so recently, she has extended her bracelets to a necklace (see in the picture to the right). Unlike bracelets which are often knotted on for life, she added a toggle so that the necklace can come off. I think she is going to try adding a charm to the next one.
I find this hobby interesting because it is such a timeless and universal craft. Friendship bracelets have been made since I was little. So don't be surprised this Christmas when you open your Christmas gift and find a DD original.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Finding Your Inner Child

DD and I were joking about finding your inner child as she was being a grinch and was begrudgingly decorating the library for Christmas. The director told her that she had lost her inner child and she should start to look for it. Of course, this got DD and I laughing hysterically later. I even changed my FB status to "Amber Alert - Amber Alert - DD's inner child is missing" (I did put a note that it was a joke as not to really scare anyone with the use of the Amber Alert). But last night it was actually I who got to explore my inner child.

The local library invited artist Gregory Maichack to present a pastels class. DD talked me into going and I got to play with crayons (well, not really crayons but pastels). The focus of the workshop was on Claude Monet's work, style, and life. Not only did we learn about him, but we got to try our hand at it too. First, we worked to replicate one of Monet's pictures and then we were set free to try what we liked (mind you the whole workshop was only 2 hours so there wasn't that much time). I brought some pictures from home. In Monet's memory, I chose to try my hand at one of my black-eyed Susans. I don't think you'll be looking for my gallery opening anytime soon, but it was an enjoyable evening that allowed me to try something I really hadn't prior (except maybe Jr. High if that counts). And the best thing was that it was free and all the materials were provided - a rare holiday treat for me.

Here is the original picture:

Here is my attempt - cropped by the scanner since the original is too big for the screen:
So, I guess my question today is: what are you doing to encourage your inner-child?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Decorating for the Holidays

I have long since given up on the crazy decorate all in one day concept. I think the holidays should be savored like a lollipop or lifesaver, not chomped down like a cookie. This year the decorating is going to be especially drawn out due to the addition of the caroleers. So Christmas decorating started a few weeks early. Now, I have added layer two and three.

Layer two, was the majority of all the other self standing decorations. (You can see the front door in the new header above). Layer three, I broke down and went to the store. As our new house is a reproduction colonial, I couldn't resist the pull of candles for the windows.

Of course as I put them in the windows, I found out that we need yet another plug. The center window upstairs, which is actually in the attic stairwell, has no plug and so sits dark until I can get DH to put one in.

Layer four will be the addition of the actual tree, which I still have to find a place to put and the time to search for. Tree hunting in our family though is a process. It can truly take an entire day. The dear daughter of a friend of ours agreed to go hunting with us one year thinking it would be a very romanitc ideal - after six hours, she swore she would never tree hunt with us again. While I wish my husband wasn't so picky about his trees, I do love tree hunting. Growing up we always had an artificial tree so I appreciate getting out and finding a tree. Plus, the whole hunt alligns with my philosophy of enjoying and savoring the holiday.

Layer five will be one of our favorite traditions - gingerbread house making. I'm going to try to hold off on this one a little while as I'm kind of hoping that our foster child will be here before Christmas and this would be a great family project. Who can frown when you are decorating a gingerbread roof with Necco wafers? When we are done with these beautiful, sometimes rather unique creations, they become part of our decorations.

Intertwined with all of these steps is cookie making here and there, some Christmas carols playing, and the wrapping of presents. All of which I have also learned not to do in one night.

How do you decorate for the holidays? Do you do it in on fell swoop or do you laze it across several days?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Photos of Me - Then and Now

Well, here you go as promised: me - then vs. me - now. The picture to your left is a picture of me in 1988, my senior class picture. The picture below is me from the reunion last Friday - 2009. At least I'm still smiling.

How to plan a reunion

In our class, there is one simple step to planning a reunion - put Bob on the job. When planning a reunion, he is like a dog after a bone. He hunts down our classmates with a fervor rarely seen. He makes sure that everyone has an opportunity to attend. This year we were slightly off cycle as this was actually our 21st high school reunion, but as Bob was in a very bad motorcycle accident and spent last year recovering, I think we can forgive him.
The best thing about this reunion is that it was more casual than those in the past and they worked to really keep the cost down. Bob and his friend Dave found a great location that suited the number of people we had and had delicious food. It was interesting to note the classmates that came, many of them hadn't come to any of the previous reunions so it was really good to see them. Most of them were inspired by their interactions of Facebook, as many of us had reconnected there. For me though, it was kind of the opposite. I felt like I already had talked to everyone. Had it not been that Bob is such a good friend, I probably would not have gone myself. But I will admit, I had a good time reconnecting with some old friends. By in large, I will tell you that the women have aged much better than the men (I am the exception to this rule, but we won't go there). If I'm really brave later today, perhaps I'll post my high school picture with a side by side and you can judge.
So if you have been ignoring your high school reunion, RSVP now or commit to going to your next reunion.

Monday, November 30, 2009

My Baby is 13

We celebrated my ds's 13th birthday. There are no more little ones in our home. DS actually turned 13 last Wednesday, but we had his party yesterday. We gathered family and friends around and ate until I think we may have exploded (We've eaten more in the last week than some small countries consume in a month). It was a wonderful day though.

One of his gifts was this beautiful walking stick that friends of ours made DS. The time and energy his puts into these sticks is amazing. This particular one is made from left over redwood. It looks heavy, but is light as a feather.

The funniest part of the day came prior to the day when we were planning the menu. In lieu of a traditional birthday cake, ds wanted pie and so for dessert we had pumpkin pie and lemon meringue pie: an odd choice but delightfully tasty. And his food choices may have brought him a future wife. The daughter of close friends was at the party and was so inspired by his dessert choice, she swore that if they could have a lemon meringue pie for a wedding cake, he would be the perfect future husband. We all laughed, but wouldn't it be funny if one day we were all cutting pie on their celebratory day.

This birthday though reminds me how few years we have left with them at home. The days are passing so quickly. DD has passed me out in height and DS is only inches away. They are both becoming so responsible and self reliant. Only a few more months and DD will be 15. I look at them at wonder where the time has gone.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Laughter is the Best Medicine

If you homeschool, you will probably get a good laugh out of this one:

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Book Review - Sold

In this time of Thanksgiving, we so often overlook the simple things that we should be thankful for. When you read this book, you will realize the true depth of your thankfulness. Sold is young adult book written in a simple diary / free verse style. The writing style will bring you closer to the 13 year old narrator, Lakshmi, who begins as the hungery Nepaleese child who has just entered womanhoold. As if her suffering without food isn't enough, it actually becomes "the good old days" when her gambling addicted step-father sells her into the child sex trade of India.

This book will tear your heart out. And while it may be easy enough to read for a 3rd grader, its mature content should be left to older children who can process some of the horrors that they will read.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


"35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me."

Matthew 25: 35-36

So many of us are blessed. As the scripture says, our cup runneth over. So why not during this time of Thanksgiving don't we pass on our blessings to others.

In my life, I have found this philosophy to not only to help others, but also as a way to replenish my soul. Even when I don't feel like my cup is running over, I look for ways to share what I do have. After I share, my life looks much rosier and I feel better.

Today, our family is actually serving at a local homeless shelter. I have ham and maccoroni and cheese cooking in the oven; a cake sitting on the counter frosted; green beens and pickles are ready to go. I had been feeling very nervous about our serving this time. Our belt was feeling a little tight and I began to wonder if we could really afford to give in this way, but I knew that people were relying on us; futhermore, no mater how tight our belt was, it was way looser than the family's using the shelter. So, I decided to breathe and trust in God. Today, as I began my cooking , my husband called. He got a commission check that we had been waiting for and his boss bought him a vehicle to use for work. Phew! Thank God from whom all blessings flow. I will surely be looking for more ways to serve.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Operation Christmas Child - delivery

What a wonderful day yesterday. Our church wrapped and packed 58 boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Today, I will bring them to a larger collection spot so that they can begin their journey toward a child in need. This has been a tremendous way to start the holiday season. The focus turns toward giving rather than receiving.

On that note, our church has decided to use months with a fifth Sunday to do special service projects. However, we need some ideas. I would love to tap into your ideas on ways to give service. With what groups do you work with? How do you give service? I appreciate any ideas.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

12 Days of Homeschooling

A little early for holiday songs, but this is too funny not to share. And I can tell you that I have heard everyone of these comments.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Foster Care Children Need Suitcases

Do you know that most foster children carry their children in just a garbage bag? I cannot even imagine being removed from my family, let alone having to carry my things in a garbage bag. What does such an action say about who you are? If you have an extra suitcase or duffle bag, why not find a foster care agency in your area or your state's department of child services and see if they will accept a donation. Most will be happy for your donation.

Sometimes making a difference in the world isn't changing the course of a river, but making it possible for someone else to navigate it.

Family Traditions Revived

One of the questions on our foster care in-take questionnaire is about traditions. What traditions did you grow up with? What traditions have you added? What ones have you gotten rid of? and of course, the always present "why?" Well today, an old tradition was revived. Eight years after my mother's death, her caroleers are set up for Christmas again. My father finally admitted that he wasn't going to set them up again and if I wanted them I could have them. I didn't even hesitate. I went up to the attic and had them packed in my car before he could even finish his sentence. My mother loved these Caroleers. She took exquisite care in setting them up and made elaborate landscapes for them. I had to take a slightly different approach and encourage my daughter to think a little outside the box. We did not have to do it exactly like Grandma. In fact, we couldn't do it exactly like her, but now they are out all around the house. I realize it is a little early for Christmas, but it was either lug the boxes to the attic in order to lug them all back out in three weeks or just set them up and carry empty boxes. I opted for the later and the extra three weeks will make up for some of the time they have spent in boxes over the past 8 years.

This is but a sampling of the little scenes now created all over my house. I will not need to add to this collection at all.
Two other fun Christmas traditions in our house are cutting a fresh tree and making a gingerbread house, both I'm sure will be featured in up-coming blogs. What holiday traditions do you have?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

No Guns Allowed!

I was the mother, who swore my kids would never play with guns. I told relatives not to buy even play guns. I admonished the kids when they turned Legos or sticks into guns. I drilled into their heads that guns were bad. Then DS was involved in Cub Scouts. Cub Scouts allows / encourages shooting with bb guns. I was horrified and scared when my husband told me that there would be shooting at summer camp. I made my husband promise that he would take extra care of DS and watch extra carefully when they were at the range. DS came home from that camping trip ecstatic. The range master was impressed with his accuracy. DS had posted 5 shots within the size of a dime. He had qualified as a sharp shooter. This should have been a sign of what was to come. DS was very proud of this and wanted to do more, so we found a range that practiced competitive shooting. This was not a fluke. DS moved up a 22 long rifle and DD wanted to try too. I sat through their safety class with them to see how they were instructed. I cannot voice how nervous I was about this. I had been taught to fear guns. Perhaps what I should have been taught was to fear people who use guns unsafely or with the intent to do harm. Perhaps it would have made more sense to have gun safety classes vs. telling us to never touch them.

Anyway, flash forward DS has now made the alternate spot on the State rifle team two years running and both children have gotten their hunting licenses. DD has even passed the bow course. The rifle sports and hunting opportunities have allowed for great family bonding, incredible self-control, a growth in self-esteem, and patience. If I had known what this sport would bring to our family, I would have brought the kids to the range instead of being so scared.
Having this knowledge also may have saved my children's life when they, along with a friend, found a gun in the woods. All the kids had experience with guns and knew the power they held, they were not curious, and were aware of mis-fires etc. They did not touch the gun, but immediately came to get adults to handle the situation. I'm not sure that their reaction would have been the same had they not experienced the power of a gun and knew they could use a real one the next time they were at the range. In fact, there have been studies showing that children that have been told not to touch guns, will; so if you think your warnings will save your children, you may want to think again.Check Spelling

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Simple Dutch Oven Cooking Recipe (oven friendly too)

My son is a master Dutch Oven cooker. In fact my entire family loves Dutch Oven and outdoor cooking in general. This week DD and I had a Girl Scout activity in which we went letterboxing and then returned to the house to cook on the fire. Because of time constraits, I had to find a quick Dutch Oven recipe (not as easy as it may seem - many take several hours not including fire starting). DH mentioned Chicken Parmesean. So we had for dinner: chicken parmesean, salad, and bread. For dessert, we had cherry cobbler and a pineapple upside-down cake.

If you are interested in the chicken parmesean, here is the reciped and the beauty of it. You start with pre-cooked and breaded chicken cutlets. You can buy them in the freezer section. I think we bought Tyson, but I'm sure there are other manufacturers. This alone saves a ton of prep time. Line the bottom of the Dutch Oven with tin foil (you will appreciate this during clean up). Add a layer of sauce, just to prevent sticking. Put in the cutlets. Put a little more sauce on each one. Sprinkle mozzerella on top. Cook with 10-12 charcoal briquetts on the bottom and 6 or so on the top for about 20 minutes. When chicken is warm and cheese is melted, dinner is ready enjoy.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Creating an Echo Map : balancing your life on paper

As I have mentioned, we are in the process of becoming foster parents (thus the decrease in blog posts). In our most recent class we did an activity which would be helpful for anyone. It was called an Echo map. An echo map is a graphic representation of how you spend your time and the rewards or costs of that time. It basically looks like this:

In the center write your own name. Then on each of the outside bubbles write people, places, or things that take up your time / you are responsible for. After that connect each smaller bubble to the mane bubble using a line.

  • A solid line represents that this activity / person replenishes you and is a positive part of your life.
  • A dotted line represents that this activity / person is neutral and neither taxes nor benefits you but has to be dealt with.
  • A fuzzy line represents that this activity / person is stressful and depletes your energy.

Yes, you may have activities or people that are connected with more than one type of line. When you are done, look at your map. You may be surprised by what you see. Seeing your life graphically represented may cause you to make some changes. Are there more solid lines or more fuzzy lines? Are there any solid lines? If you compared these connections with the time spent on them is your time dedicated to the most productive, rewarding things?

If you try this activity, let us know about your epiphanies. Did you decide to make any changes?

P.S. It is tough when you do this activity next to your spouse and he puts a solid line to your name but you put all three lines to his circle - - -ooops! It may be better to do this in private.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

We are official volunteers

It was a big day in our household. DD and I posed for our official Old Sturbridge Village volunteer badges.

This is a bigger deal than you might think. As a homeschooler, DD has never had a photo ID and has been frustrated a few times when this came up. Most of her friends have school ID's, but we have no need for them. Once, she even made up our homeschool ID's, but this volunteer badge will be a real photo ID. I think possibly for one moment all the dressing up was worth it for her. I think that she will cherish this ID for a long time. It won't be long until she has a driver's licence to replace it, but for now today was a big day in the life of a teenager.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sadie Hawkins Day

Sadie Hawkins Day is today, the first Saturday in November. The day was coined by Al Capp, the cartoonist of Li’l Abner. Sadie was actually a character who debuted in his strip on November 15th, 1937. Due to her popularity, she actually began reappearing annually and the idea of an unmarried woman perusing men spread across the country.
I remember asking a boy to my first Sadie Hawkins dance. I took one deep breath and blurted it all out. I’m surprised he understood a word I said. Fortunately, he agreed to go or I think I would have died of embarrassment.

One thing that Sadie Hawkins day taught me is how hard it is to be a man / boy in this society. I can’t imagine having to ask other people out let alone asking them to marry you. What if they said no? This is an official thank you to all the men who have taken initiative over the years. I think to commemorate this day, we should all take the time to tell our men how much we appreciate them.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Book Review - Cold Sassy Tree

Do I have a book for you - Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns is one of my all time top reads. Recommended by our library director, our book club chose Cold Sassy Tree for this month's read. It was fantastic. However, I will recommend that you do not read it in public. I completely embarrassed my children when I both laugh and cried in public with them in the vicinity. I mean who cannot find it funny when Grandpa chooses a new wife and everyone is horrified because his last wife is has only been in the ground for three weeks, but Grandpa relents, "She ain't gonna' get any deader." I literally went around reading this section to people because I thought it was so funny. Beware though, that there are tears too. The story of Cold Sassy and its residents is an emotional roller coaster that will bring you to love the town and the whole Blasklee Clan, even the spoiled Aunt Loma. I highly recommend this book to all of you.

Our next read is going to be AJ Jacobs Guinea Pig Diaries and then for our January meeting, we are going to do the book club in Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society fashion and each report on a book of our choice. We've opted not to make Potato Peel Pie as the recipe sounds atrocious. If you have other suggestions for our group, please let me know.
I am also personally fitting in The Book Thief, Jesus Interrupted, Sold, and the Knockout Entrepreneur; so you can look forward to many more book suggestions in the future. If only there were a few more hours a day to read. Of course as my DD keeps saying, "If you would read faster, you could read more, Mom."

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

2012 will it be the End of Days

One of the great lines in Girl Scout Law is "Use resources wisely." This phrase repeats in my mind in so many different ways. In this case, DD and I used our resources to find some free educational resources. DD checked the computer and found a free seminar at a nearby college. I think this is a great way to get DD acclimated to the college world. She will get to see campuses and sit through real lectures. I realize that she doesn't have "homework" and such, but it is a good first step.

Today's lecture was on the Mayan Calendar and how it supports or does not support the current mania of human annihilation in 2012. The speaker Dr. Edwin Barnhart has worked extensively on the Mayan Civilization. His work is primarily in archaeology and research, but even he understands the interest in 2012. The lecture was fascinating. Proof of that came when he said that he had to wrap it up as he was out of time and DD turned to me and said it couldn't be over yet. It was more that an hour past lunch and she hadn't even thought about it until the class was over. She took over 5 pages of notes.

We have also taken free lectures on King Tut and the history of the wolf. With many, many more colleges just a short ride from our home now, I think that we will be attending many more.

I did have to admit to my husband that it did cost something, because DD and I had a delicious lunch together. Mother / daughter time is very important me and something I intend to continue even after we add a new child to our life.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Feeding the animals through winter

It was not my intent to feed the birds, but apparently they are enjoying my front door decorations. At first when we drove up the drive the other day, I thought the bottom had been eaten away, but upon closer inspection it was clear that someone, or many someones, have been nibbling away on our decorations.

So apparently, my reduce, reuse, recycle kick has extended to house decorating - - -holiday decoration or animal feeder? I guess it all depends on your perspective.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween - Fall Rituals

I hope you all had a wonderful Halloween yesterday. We had a whopping one trick-or-treater. I'm glad I did not go too crazy buying candy. We'll have a lot of leftovers, but as our kids didn't go trick-or-treating I guess it all evens out. If you could have peered through our windows, this is what our house looked like at Halloween:
Carving central. As we waited so long to buy our pumpkins, we got a really good deal and only spent 5 cents per pumpkin. I will certainly note this for next years plan and budget. This year we used white pumpkins as opposed to the traditional orange pumpkins. Beggars can't be choosey at 5 cents per pumpkin. DH said that while they were smaller, they were much easier to carve.

Anyone for Pumkin Pie ; ) I told you homeschoolers were geeks some times.

We had one more carved after I took the pictures, so I'll try to get shot tomorrow.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Over the Top - Blogging Award

A big thank you to Mrs. Momma for this great award!
I'm to answer the following questions with one word and then pass the award on to five other bloggers.
1. Where is your cell phone? charging
2. Your hair? brown
3. Your mother? (I have two mothers - a birthmom and a bio-mom, but I can do this in one word) Linda
4. Your father? (two of those too, but only know one) Loved
5. Your favorite food? pizza
6. Your dream last night? unknown
7. Your favorite drink? chai
8. Your dream/goal? family
9. What room are you in? living
10. Your hobby? hiking
11. Your fear? instability
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? here
13. Where were you last night? work
14. Something that you aren't? unreliable
15. Muffins? warm
16. Wish list item? freezer
17. Where did you grow up? Cowtown
18. Last thing you did? laughed
19. What are you wearing? clothes
20. Your TV? on
21. Your Pets? sleeping
22. Friends? supportive
23. Your life? blessed
24. Your mood? thankful
25. Missing Someone? mom
26. vehicle? Malibu
27. Something your not wearing? shoes
28. Your favorite store? craft
29. Your favorite color? green
30. When was the last time you laughed? lunch-time
31. Last time you cried? yesterday
32. Your best friend? Husband
33. One place that I go to over and over? bed
34. Facebook? yes
35. Favorite place to eat? Perk
Now to the five blogger's I'm sending this too...

Poetry Resource for homeschoolers

One of the really cool aspects of my job is that I get to hear some of the hottest info in education and get to see some of the newest / most interesting ideas for teaching. I will be sure over the next few months to let you know some of the info that I am privy too. The one I'm posting here today is certainly not break through but just cute. If you happen to be working with a student 7-13 on poetry styles, Scholastic has a game to introduce students to different poetry styles: Cinquain, Free Verse, Limmerick, and Haiku. It would probably only keep their interest for 20 minutes or so, but is a good intro / explination of these styles. Check it out and feel free to post any of your creations in the comments section.

Balancing Work and Play

You probably think I fell off the world. It has been days since I've been on and even now at 5:40am, I only have 5 minutes online before I have to go. I appologize, but as I'm sure many of you can identify with, life has gotten in the way. Fortunately, it is not a bad thing. We are taking our MAPP classes (classes to become licenced as foster parents) and my job started again. Balanced life may be a bit of an oxymoron right now. Actually it isn't anywhere near the crazy that it used to be, but it certainly means that I have not had time to sit down and type. If I could blog through my brain as I was driving you would have more blogs than you can imagine, but unfortunately that is not the way of the world (or maybe that should have started with fortunately, but you understand). I will try to do better this week. But for now I have to eat and run or I will be late to work.

Hope you have a wonderful Halloween and be safe.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Foster Parenting - Is it for us?

Big steps in our house. We have started our classes toward being foster parents. We have 7 more classes to go and our intensive home study. I appreciated how our instructor introduced the course, "We like to call this a mutual interaction course during which you will decided if this is right for you, and we can begin to see if you are right for us."

We are looking to be intensive foster parents i.e. foster parents for children with special needs/circumstances. Certainly, all children in the foster system have special needs i.e. the need for family and love, but these children exhibit larger issues or for some other reason require more time than children in the regular system.

One of the first questions we got at our first meeting was why were we considering IFC (intensive foster care)? My first thought was of a student that I had when I was student teaching (Let's call him Patrick.). When I started teaching, I expected to really like the goodie two shoes and find the difficult children to be my biggest problem; however, what I found was that the "trouble makers" were the ones that stole my heart. Patrick was always bothering other kids. He was actually known to jump over a table and punch other children. He was outwardly aggressive and extremely confrontational to adults (mind you this was 3rd grade). I cannot tell you the number of times I had to take this child aside to talk to him. One particularly difficult day, when I took him aside, he finally just admitted that he was hungry. His mom was "saving" the food for this weekend when a friend of hers was coming by. He hadn't eaten since yesterday at school. I knew from the background on Patrick that this was most likely a true story. The concept of a parent withholding food from their child was foreign to me (Yes, I was naive, but I wasn't even 20 yet). Henceforth, I kept snacks in my desk and told him to come to me any time he was hungry, but that is when I knew that it was these kids that held my hearts--- Kids with all the promise in the world that just needed someone to believe in them, that just needed some stable ground to begin to grow in, that just needed to worry about being a kid and not all the adult worries. Patrick was also and incredible artist. I can only hope that his home life changed and he was given an opportunity to develop this talent or that he remembers just one of our many talks and had the strength to hold on to his dreams. Patrick has been held in my heart from these almost 20 years, but as a teacher there is only so much you can do for so long. As a mother, maybe I could ensure that the Patricks of this world would one day become world renown artists.

I welcome any thoughts by others that have fostered or been fostered. Please let me know how we can be a good family for the children that will hopefully come through our doorway. We still have a long road to travel, but we are now a little farther today.

Monday, October 26, 2009


Have you ever found one thing leading you to another like an unfolding of a puzzle or the blooming of a flower? You weren't sure where you were going but you are very impressed when you see the final unveiling. Yesterday's post about Sir Ken Robinson let me to find TED. TED is as they advertise is "a small non-profit devoted to ideas worth sharing."

If you love any of the news agencies that I mentioned in my Watching the News post or are fascinated by new ideas; If you love learning; If you get Discover, National Geographic, Scientific America; this is a website you have to check out. I can't even imagine how exciting it must be to actually be at one of the seminars. The brain power and creativity must be electric. Even listening to these ideas over the internet is electrifying (ok, that might be because these speeches are my new background "music" while I was dishes). I have listened to stories by authors Elizabeth Gilbert (Eat, Love, Pray) and Amy Tan. I have learned about how food has developed our cities and should continue to do so. I've contemplated how this recession has actually been helpful and how Wikipedia is like no encyclopedia that anyone has ever known. It is like having the best college seminars ever at my finger tips: short, succinct, but provocative.

Have you ever heard the Eleanor Roosevelt saying that, "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people"? Well, this could be your first step to being a great mind.

Creating our Next Generation - an Education to Grow on

You have to see this. Anyone who has thought about education will find this video very interesting. It is especially relevant to homeschoolers who are already thinking outside the box.

It has left me with trying to find out more about the speaker and a trip to the library to find the book he mentions Epiphany (which I found out was published under the name of The Element).

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Watching the News

I am a newsie. I love watching the news and learning about the world. I don't mean the evening news, where you hear about car crashes, murders, and sunny days that never actualize; but great news reporting like you find on PBS, NPR, and my favorite news broadcast Sunday Morning . Of course, I wish Sunday Morning wasn't on Sunday morning as I miss a lot of it due to church. I though find a great online resource for news stories like this PBS Frontline. I stumbled across the site the other day when I was looking up the Kidnapped Bride story and I am hooked. The stories that I have found on the site are global in nature; they are personal; and they are well presented. This will be a great site to use for my dd's homeschooling.

Here is one of the stories that I found when perusing the site. I thought it was an irronic story since I found it online, but let's hope that using the computer never gets like this.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Our Children

Our greatest joys
Our deepest sorrows
Our future
with the whispers of our past
the teachers of true deep laughter
and tears that may never stop
a reason to go on
a wish that time would slow down
Our treasures

reasons to work
desire to be home
traditions created
traditions created
traditions remembered
Our children
...........from us
...................through us
...........................but so much more than us.
.....................................................................(We hope)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Kidnapping Brides

At the library where DD volunteers, there are often free magazines that you can take (a great way to Reuse materials by the way). DD loves to take Modern Bride - mind you she is only 14 and a few years away from matrimonial bliss. Together, we look through the magazine praising and heckling the designs. I'm actually surprised how traditional DD's taste is. This time though, the magazine surprised me. Among the beautiful wedding dresses and just before the description of exotic honeymoons, was an article, "This Woman is Being Forced to be Married" by Esther Haynes. Certainly, this was not typical bridal reading, but I am married, so I'm not the typical Modern Bride reader. I have to admit that I did not realize that in our current time such a practice was still in effect.

Apparently, in Kyrgyzstan, a country in Asia, it is still common practice to kidnap your wife especially in the more rural areas. I don't mean like a cute reenactment of an old tradition. I mean a brutal, scary abduction that leads a young woman to the house of someone she may barely know, where she is forced to marry. If she can resist the attacks of the woman of this household and can extricate herself from the situation where even the law turns a blind eye, she may be shunned by her own family for breaking the tradition.

The piece was so compelling that I followed a link to find more on this story which was covered by PBS's Frontline. Please be aware that this is not a story for children and the harsh reality of what is going on can be disturbing, but I believe that you cannot change what you do not acknowledge. Kudos to Modern Bride for bringing up such an important subject.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Random Dozen - 10-21-09

Today, I opted to participate in the Random Dozen by 2nd Cup of Coffee. I often read through her answers but never answer. I think it was the Candy Corn question that drew me in. Why are those little things so darn tasty and cute.

1. Candy corn: Your thoughts? I wonder who ever thought of this idea. Corn it is so good and healthy for you. Let’s turn it into a sugary treat.

2. Briefly, what was the first conversation you ever had with your spouse? (or best friend, if you're not married.) (Or someone significant, like your librarian.) Well, it wasn’t our first conversation as we grew up together, but DH actually asked me out on bet. He and his friends debated who was going to have the guts to ask. DH won or lost depending how you look at it.

3. Could you ever become a vegetarian? Yes – as long as I didn’t have to cook for DH and family.

4. Have you ever dressed up your pet in a costume? NO!

5. Name something about childhood that you miss (like Clark Bars, Teaberry Gum, Malibu Barbie, cracking fake eggs on people's heads with your fist and "It's the Great Pumpkin" airing only once a year).
Christmas at my Grandfather’s. It was so traditional we even had mashed turnip. It was like living in an old movie.

6. Have you ever won a trophy? If not, what do you deserve a trophy for?
I think dance when I was like 6.

7. When do you think is the appropriate time to begin playing Christmas music each year?
December 26th – I love Christmas music. It is appropriate all year round and love when it starts playing on Sounds of the Seasons.

8. What's your favorite board game? Hmmmm – Scrabble, Life, PayDay. That is a hard question. Trivia Pursuit, Monopoly, Made for Trade.

9. How do you feel about surprises (receiving, not giving)? Depends on what the surprise is. Surprise, DH is taking me away for the weekend or we won the lotto – yeah! Surprise party which you will have the joy of cleaning – Booo!

10. Is it easy for you to say, "I'm sorry"? I say, “I’m sorry” way too often – even for things that I have no control over. This is a very bad habit.

11. What is your favorite candle scent? Vanilla

12. October is traditionally "open house" time in public schools. If you had a literal open house in your home (like a reception) what light snacks would you serve visitors and what would you show them (as in art projects, graded papers) that would uniquely represent you?

Girl Scout cookies – since that is a huge part of my life (it would fulfill both categories).
I guess I would put out photo albums, play some music, and have books lying around.

A Beautiful Start to the Day

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook. I thought that you would enjoy this. Grab your coffee and enjoy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What we do for our children

I am sitting here looking through a magazine list to figure out what I am going to order. DD is selling them for her Girl Scout troop (you would have thought I got out of selling such things by homeschooling, but no they still find me).

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE magazines. I LOVE getting them in the mail. I LOVE reading them. If I could afford it, I would order 100 of them. I would probably personally be responsible for the destruction of the entire Brazilian rain forest, but ugggh:

1. How do I narrow it down?
2. How do I afford such an expensive habit?

Some of the magazines that I most enjoy are Home Education Magazine (which is not on this list but should be), Consumer Reports, Taste of Home, Discover, National Geographic. What are your favorite magazines? How about for the kids?

P.S. Don't think my reading is all good. Lately, I have been addicted to People magazine which I've been reading like crazy at all the doctor's offices. Once upon a time I would snub my nose at people who read People, but it has become a bit of an obsession. Shhhhh! Don't tell anyone.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Here Lies a Woman

Remember the comment about homeschoolers being nerds? Well, here is the proof. This is my daughter and I with the Old Sturbridge Village Singers. I chose this song because it seemed most appropriate for the Halloween season. Plus, I just think the song is funny.

What things do you do with your family that others may say is weird?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Reading when you haave children

I have been an avid reader since I was able to read. My mother even tells of a story when I was in Kindergarten and started getting these inexplicable stomach aches. I was constantly getting sent home from school. My mother started keeping a journal of everything that I was eating and was getting ready to take me for testing, and then she asked me an innocuous question about what was happening in school when these stomach aches were coming on. I apparently calmly made some comment about already knowing the alphabet and wondering why I had to spend so much time on it. It turned out I did not have some strange disease, but instead a case of the boredom. To quell the boredom, I was given a special pass to library during the classes alphabet time and so I've been reading ever since. Well that is almost true . . .

after giving birth to my beautiful daughter, it was like someone put the reading brakes on. Who had time? and if I had a moment, that was all I had. During that moment, there were so many other things to do like showering, going to the bathroom, brushing my teeth. Thus, my reading material drastically reduced. Actually, it reduced not just in length of time but in form as well. With the lack of sleep that I was getting, I couldn't remember where I put my car keys, let alone keep track of a book plot. My reading materials shrunk down from books to magazines. Soon I was pregnant with number 2 and book reading was put up on the shelf for several more years.

I cannot even tell you how glad I was to read again. When finally the kids were older and more independent, I dared to turn the page again. I even joined a book club, so that I had a responsibility to read - - -no excuses anymore. I was thrilled to read again; Until, recently when I was reading Angels & Demons by Dan Brown. This book pulls you through it. There is no putting it down. There is one climax after the next. Every time you think everything is wrapped up, something else happens. Oh, what I would have done for a private island. It seemed as if my kids suddenly could not do with out me. "Mom", "Mom", "Mom". They had questions, requests, complaints. I couldn't get them to stop. Every time I fulfilled their needs and would get back to the book, another question was forming. AGGGGGGHHHHHHH! All I wanted to do is read in peace. Page by page with a million interruptions, I finally finished it last night. Wow! I'm glad I kept up the battle.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Phase 10 - a great way to spend an afternoon

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, we spent the weekend in a cabin in Maine, one without electronics. While we enjoyed the out of doors, there were sometimes when we could not venture out due to rain and so we broke out two games: Boggle and Phase 10.

Boggle is always a favorite at our house. I love word games. Phase 10 though is a newer one for us. My father-in-law and his girlfriend enjoy the game but we have always pacified them by playing but never really got into it. This weekend though, the game got very serious. Even though DH kept calling it a stupid game, we all enjoyed it. DS actually stayed up with the adults to play until 1:30 am. Phase 10 is played in multiple rounds (a minimum of 10 rounds, but could be extended to many, many more depending on the luck of the draw). One of our games took over 3 hours, so do make sure that you have time to play. During each hand, you are trying to create a specific type of hand i.e. a run of seven cards. As you meet each set, you are allowed to move onto the next phase. Winning the game is a combination of getting through the last phase and having the lowest score (points are accumulated by adding up the cards in your hand when a player goes out).

DS was so enthralled with this game that he had to get it the next time we went to the store. It wasn't very expensive. I think less than $6.0o and makes a great stocking stuffer for those of you thinking of Christmas. Best of all, it is one of those games that require family time - something you can never have enough of.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Maine Tourism

I know that you all are going to think that I am getting paid off by the Maine Tourism Council, but truly I am not. As I have mentioned I have wanted to go to Maine for a long time, and this year that desire has come to me in spades. I have now been to Maine 3 times since September. This last trip being the longest.
This time we were a little farther north, a bit above Bangor. I would tell you the town, but apparently there is no town and no local government (my kind of place). We actually had to boat in to the cabin we were staying in.

We had no running water, no electricity, and an outhouse BUT we had a wonderfully relaxing time. Even the kids, who I thought might have computer / electronics withdrawl, wished that we didn't have to leave when the weekend was over.

Although it is my goal to get our passports this year, I'm beginning to wonder why we need them with so many wonderful places right in our backyard.

PS. The next state on my wish list is South Dakota and the next individual place is Mammoth Cave in KY. But I will admit that I've learned to take advantage of the opportunities that come along, so who knows where I'll be next. . .maybe another visit to my new favorite state.