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Friday, March 30, 2007

I'm Missing It :(

Carter has his first practice baseball game tonight, and I'm missing it. Patrick and I have been sick and running fever for the past three days, so we didn't get to go. I really hoped to wake up today to no fever, but it didn't happen. On top of that, Patrick and I both feel too bad to go even if we didn't have fever. I just can't believe I am missing the first practice game. It's been hard enough for me just missing the last two practice nights! It seems that Carter's best games last year were when I wasn't there. He received both of his game balls when I had to miss his games, so maybe this will be a good thing after all!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Fun With Friends

Madison got to go to a friend's house and play today after school today. This is a new friend that she met in our church and has gotten closer and closer to. It is the first time that she has gotten to go and play at her house. It makes me so happy to see my children make new friends. It does so much to discredit the "what about socialization" card that everyone wants to play when it comes to homeschooling. Madison had a great time at Kendra's house and is ready to invite her over during spring break. The girls tried to take a little swim today in Kendra's pool, but it was a little too cool. That never stops them from trying, though!The boys had a couple of friends here today. I love to have Tristin, Patrick's friend, over because they were such good friends when Patrick was in the public school. One of my concerns when taking them out of the school system was that they would lose touch with the friends they had already made there. The great thing is that they have kept in touch with the closest ones. Most of them go to our church, so that helps. Patrick and Tristin don't go to church together, but have remained friends....that is a true friend. Carter had Josh over, who is really more like another brother than merely a friend. The boys have this problem in that when one of them has a friend over, he doesn't want the other one having too much to do with that friend. Carter seems to feel like when he has a friend over, that friend tends to want to stay in Patrick's room because Patrick is older. Today, when Tristin was here for Patrick, there was a little friction because Tristin kept going into Carter's room to play. Now, I know that they should all be able to just play together, but then again, I understand why they would want their friend to play mostly with them. I try to have them work things like this out without me, but I finally had to sit them down and have a little talk with them after everyone went home. I just told them to remember what they feel like when it is their friend going to the other room and try to be sensitive to each other's feelings. Then, I tried to lighten things up a bit by telling them that they really need to get this problem ironed out now because one day, when they are bringing girls, over it will be even worse. I told them that if they think they get jealous now...over guy friends...just wait until there is a girl involved! Carter denied that it would ever happen because he will not care anything for girls, but Patrick reassured him that he would!
I told the kids that next week, on spring break, that they could each invite one friend over for our first "yard" campout of the year. The weather is perfect with no mosquitoes yet, so it's a great time to sleep out there! I'm so excited about playing night time games, like flashlight tag, and staying up late playing games in the tent with them. We have two rooms in the tent, so the boys can stay in one and the girls in the other. How fun!!!


I've been think a lot lately about how we influence our children to do the things that we enjoy. I think this is great, however, I also think that it limits our children if we do not encourage them to also try the things that we don't pursue. For instance, because I love to write, I encourage my children to do it often. We have days set aside in school to write certain things...paragraphs, biographies, letters, journal entries, etc. Yesterday, I was reading some of the homeschooling blogs that I have in my favorites, and I came across a post by Dana, a homeschooling mom of a 1st grader (http://alexml.blogspot.com/2007/03/tulip-mania-still-life-of-van-huysum.html). I am so impressed with how she, not only encourages her children to draw, but does it herself. She provides things for them to paint and teaches them about different painters and artists. She's discovering what she enjoys creating as well. Coincidentally, while at the library last night, Madison checked out some drawing books. She sat around with the books and paper for a long time last night. Finally, I joined her. I grabbed some paper and pencils and took a chance on what I could do. Well, I enjoyed it. Here's my finished picture.This morning, Madison picked her drawing stuff up again. She's putting all of her drawings into a binder to keep. She inspires me to draw more just because she's so excited about it. Here is her bird picture.Thank you, Dana, for inspiring me to do something new. Madison has often sat outside with her pad and pencils to draw, but I have never wanted to join her. Now, I see why she enjoys it so much!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

It's Nice To Be An Original

My post yesterday caused me to start thinking about different generations and the fashions that molded them. What is interesting to me is the idea that some generations create an entirely new look, while others only mimic. It seems an easy way out to only copy what has already been done, but it happens. I was a child of the 70's and a teenager in the 80's. I remember going to school as a child in my bell bottom jeans and flowered shirts. I remember the yo yo shoes and long straight hair. All of these fashion trends were not copied from another generation or time...they were the result of life in that time. Peace and love dominated everything and were reflected in the styles and trends of that time. When someone hears "the 70's", there are just some things that come to mind. The music, movies, political ideas, etc. are all woven tightly into the overall "sense" of what the 70's were all about. The fashions of that time do not come out and say anything directly, but are more of a symbol of what things were like during that time.
Then came the 80's and all that we were in that decade. This was my era...my coming of age. I remember when fashion started changing...when they began to take our bell bottoms away and encourage us to perm our hair. I clearly stated that I would never wear or do those things. Never say never. Everything was big in the 80's, except the pant legs. We had big hair, big shirts, big shoulders, big watches, big socks, big earrings, big belts, etc. If it wasn't big, it was at least bright. If it wasn't big or bright enough, then we layered it...more, more, more....that was what we sought for. It seemed only natural for a teenage girl just discovering who she was and the powers that accompanied youth and new found womanhood. I was already at an age that screamed, "Look at me!" I remember when we started wearing Capri's and rolling our jeans. Our parents constantly reminded us that they did those things too, so we were only repeating their generation. However, when I look at the 80's as a whole, the fashions did not mirror the 50's or the 60's completely. Maybe elements were the same, but it was a generation all its own....an original, just as the 70's had been.
Now, as I think back over the 90's and the decade that we are now in, I realize that neither has sought to create its own image. From the early 90's, I knew that we were about to see a repeat of the 70's, which is what happened. What was even worse than merely being a repeat generation was the fact that, while the fashions were recreated as well as, or better than before, the ideas and events that brought them to life in the 70's weren't there. Everyone loved to flaunt the peace signs around and let it all hang out with long straight hair and loose, skimpy clothing, but there were no major cultural events that led up to it...no slow progression into it that allowed the generation to "find" themselves in the middle of something new and amazing. No one will ever look back at the fashions of the 90's without thinking of the 70's. The 70's were influenced by the fear of war and desire for peace, new found freedom for women to be who they wanted to be, and freedom to dress as one pleased or as little as one pleased. Hippies were a symbol of so many venues of freedom and were very influential in shaping the fashions of the decade. Just as our space exploration programs began to increase, people also seemed to quench their own desires to travel with RVs and station wagons piled full of family and friends. TV icons such as Charlies Angels planted new seeds for fashion. Disco music and all that it represented was very influential in setting fashion trends. There were specific events that brought it all together....created the whole "idea" of the 70's and the trends that went along with it.
It is no secret that the last 10 years have been all about looking as much like the 70's as possible. There are no specifics that signify the beginning of or continuation of 90's fashion, except for that drive to dress the part...re-create the 70's.
Now, we are in a decade that is clearly seeking to relive the 80's. There will be no new discoveries or explanations as to where the fashion trends come from other than the fact that they were worn in the 80's. I understand that this is what happens...fashion repeats itself. New generations are made to feel young and cool in styles that will, at the same time, remind us that our era has been over long enough to come full circle. It will cause mixed feelings for the 30 something group. There will be those who mock it because youth cannot possible desire to wear the things that we look back on to wonder why we did. Others will resent it because to repeat the fashions will be admitting that we are retro. Then, there will be those who embrace it because they are proud of the originality of the generation from which they came. Having listened to the youth make fun of it for so long, it is refreshing to see the new youth of today embrace it. It is like a confirmation that we existed as youth....we shared the same sense of something that they are now embracing. Not only were we young, but were active participants in molding something so original and so unique that it is worthy to be repeated. We were the 80's....new and original. When your generation's fashions aren't based on past generations, you are free to take it anywhere and everywhere. That's what we did. Now, the youth of today will take it into the 2000's. I'm proud to be a part of where it began. I'm proud that what I helped to create will be copied by my children...20 years later. I already know where it is going because I've been there....I lived the 80's....I was an original!

Saturday, March 24, 2007


Madison and I had an awesome time shopping today. Yes, we shop often for boring things like groceries and "wal-mart" things, but this was a "shopping day"....real shopping. Jeff sent us off to the mall/Old Navy with instructions to "get the summer clothes we need". That translates into "shop till you drop". :) Talk about two gals like kids in a candy store...that was us. It seemed that everyone had the same plans today....it was SO crowded in Old Navy. It was okay, though, because we were in our own little world. I don't know when it happened, but hanging out with Madison is no longer like hanging out with a child. We had so fun together today. I'm able to ask her opinion on clothes and she trusts mine. We laugh at the same things and get aggravated with the same people...haha.
I did it...I bought a pair of "skinny jeans"! By skinny jeans, I mean STRAIGHT LEGGED jeans. They aren't just a little straight...they are leg hugging, landing inside the shoe straight legged. I felt like I had stepped right out of the 80's when I put them on. I hesitated to buy them for fear of looking like I had dug some of my old jeans out of the back of my closet....left over from my college days, but there is one major difference. These are low waist....not up to the rib cage like the old straight legs. I don't know if I will be so quick to go out and buy those, even when everyone else has fallen victim to them...how horrible!

I look forward to many more shopping days with Madison, however, I don't know how much longer she will look to me for fashion decisions. All too soon, she'll be giving me advice on how to dress, especially if we are able to wear the same clothes :).

Friday, March 23, 2007

Iroquois Beads

Yesterday, we reviewed the Iroquois of the Northeast. Madison loves this Indian group because their women were strong figures. Okay, I enjoy reading about them for that reason too!
After reviewing, I let the kids make Iroquois bead necklaces. They are very symbolic of the Iroquois Confederacy. They exchanged them anytime there was something important to be said or an agreement to be made. I told the kids that they would have to give their necklaces away to someone in exchange for an agreement of some sort. They weren't too happy about having to give them away, but had fun making them. We'll see what they come up with....it'll be interesting.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Sights and Sounds of Baseball

It's pulling into that dusty road and seeing the rays of light, shining from the evening fields, dancing through the dust that's hanging in the air. The crack of the bat hitting the ball followed by shrills of excitement echoing from the stands and fold out chairs surrounding the teams...those boys for whom everything is centered for that precious few months of ball season. It's all the other children...those who aren't on the field...running around playing regular games that feel not so regular because everything is different when it is played at the ballpark. The smell of burgers cooking on the open grill beside the little wooden concession stand full of candy that always taste better in the summertime...the cokes never as cold. These are the sights and sounds of summer. Even when we aren't at the park, I will sit outside on my deck in the evenings and hear these sounds as if they are happening in my front yard. I will be able to close my eyes and put myself in the seat of every parent that I hear scream out for their child......run......swing.......great job....you did your best!! It is as if, for those few months of the year, our world revolves around the ball park....that park that sits quietly for most of the year comes to life with the first swing of a bat. As we drove onto that dusty road tonight, and I watched Carter run to the dugout with his bag, it was as if last summer had never ended. The months of driving past and seeing the empty park were but a blink of an eye...a short break before the next game. Summer is back and ball season is screaming it out so that everyone can hear! This is where it all begins!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I Want It All!!

It's all a little frustrating to me. I'm never able to feel completely successful in teaching one particular subject. It seems that when one is doing well in Math, another is struggling a bit. The same goes for most of the other subjects. While one is writing beautiful paragraphs or papers, another is struggling with content or grammar. There never seems to be a time when everyone is doing well in one particular subject. "sigh" I even do it to myself in History, Science, and Social Studies. When I feel great about what we are covering in one or two of these subjects, there is always that other one that seems to be lacking. Maybe I'm just too hard on myself and expect too much. The kids are three separate individuals and are learning completely different skills at different times. I need to remind myself that it really isn't a reflection on my teaching, but on the material that they are covering. All I can do is continue to praise their good efforts and use the times when they are struggling to tell me what they need more help on. That's what I am here for. My challenge is to do it with a good attitude and lots of patience....for them as well as for myself.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Homemade Toys

Remember the toys we used to make for ourselves growing up....the breadsack kites, barbie furniture out of anything, bicycle motors out of sticks, etc.? I don't think children have to use their imaginations enough today. They have so many toys within their reach that they rarely have to come up with some imaginative solution for something that they want, therefore, it's exciting to see when it does happen. My boys are very into Pokemon action figures right now. Last summer it was Yugio..this summer Pokemon. I brought out some Model Magic today that I had bought a couple of weeks ago and forgot about. I was amazed to see what they did with it. We've used it in school before to make bugs and things that we are studying, but I was interested to see what they would do with it on their own. Well, the boys had a blast making their own Pokemon figures. They would pull up the Pokemon picture on their video game and then use it as a model. They looked great! Madison made a small model of the earth. She's excited because it bounces like a ball....Model Magic is cool stuff!
Later today, Madison and I made a kite out of a small trash bag. She didn't seem to think that it would work, but it did. I told her that we used to do it all the time with bread bags. We tied string to it and and put a small stick through the spool...like kite string. It didn't go very high, but flew like a kite! I always felt like making the stuff was half the fun....the kids seemed to think so today too.

Friday, March 16, 2007

It Went Well!

Our first "Friday Cleaning Day" went very well. I'm so proud of the kids for working so hard on their rooms today. I knew Madison was old enough to do it, but really wondered if the boys were. Oh, they have been making their own beds and keeping their rooms straightened for a while, but I didn't know about the dusting and vacuuming. They have helped me some with doing both of these, but have never been asked to do their entire rooms on their own. Well, they did great and seemed to enjoy it. I really thought that I might have to go back over some of it, but I didn't. It is very hard for me to hand something like this over to them because I am picky about things...tend to like things my way. It is a "letting go" thing for me to accept things that are not done exactly as I would have done them. I won't say that I have totally learned to do this and feel okay about it, but today was good for me. It was a start. I made some mistakes, but it was a start.
I was really encourage by Jeff's mom today when she told me that I was doing the right thing with the kids. She had three boys and taught them all to do for themselves around the house as well as help her out. I remember being very impressed the first time that I had dinner with them. As soon as we were all finished eating, Jeff and his brother both got up and started clearing the table. The entire family helped clean the kitchen instead of everyone jumping up and leaving it for mom to do alone. It has carried over into all three of her boys' adult lives. They are not afraid to iron, clean, cook, etc. They have been good husbands and dads. I want to also raise sons who are willing to do things, not only outside of the home, but inside as well....where the responsibilities are daily. I know that Madison will learn it from me through role modeling, just as the boys will learn other things from Jeff. I'm thankful for the man that Jeff is, and I am thankful for his mom for helping him to become that man!

Cleaning Day

Since starting homeschooling, I have had a hard time finding time to keep my house the way that I like it. I've tried cleaning around the school schedule, but it just doesn't work. I really don't like to be tied down with the house on Saturday when Jeff is home. So, I've decided that we will take off every other Friday to have a cleaning day. It's very easy to absorb a day into the rest of the week, so we'll still be able to get all of our stuff done. I'm hoping this will be a solution...I hate feeling like things are out of control around the house. The kids are excited about having no school today....we'll see if they are still excited when the cleaning starts :)!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Inuits

We studied the Inuits (Eskimos) of Western Canada and Alaska today. We are taking each continent, dividing it up into its countries, and studying each one. We started North America last week. Their project today was to make Inuit finger masks like the ones that the Inuits use in ceremonies and rituals. The small holes at the bottom of the masks are used to put the fingers through to hold it. As you can see in the picture, even Ginger got into the task! I look forward to finding fun things for the different continents/countries.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Great Trip

We had a great weekend in Jackson, Mississippi. The weather was beautiful, and we got to do everything we had planned to do. Saturday, we went to the Mississippi Natural Science Museum ( http://www.mdwfp.com/museum/html/about/index.html ). We had good time there, and I was happy that they got to see some of the things that we've talked about in school.

After touring the museum, we took a little hike on their trails. Okay, to me it felt like a big hike, but it wasn't too long.

Afterwards, we went out to eat then back to the hotel for the kids to swim for a couple of hours. That is, after all, one of the main things they wanted to do. They have been begging us to get our pool ready, but we have to buy a new liner for it and take the time to replace it. So......they were very happy to get to swim this weekend.
Saturday night, we took the kids to a place called The Park, where we rode go carts on tracks, played putt putt golf, hit balls in the batting cage, and played video games. It was great!
On Sunday, we went to the Jackson Zoo ( http://www.jacksonzoo.org/ ). We had a good time, but was a little sad to see how run down they have let it become. It's been a few years since we last went, and it has not been kept up well since then. However, the weather was beautiful, and we enjoyed being out in it.

We went out to eat at Cracker Barrel before heading home. The time went too fast. I love getting away like that with Jeff and the kids....away from other responsibilities...away from anything else that takes our attention from each other. It was hard to see Jeff go back to work this morning and to pull the school books back out. I am so ready for summer break!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Getting Away From Life

That's what we're doing this weekend. We haven't gotten away alone as a family since our trip to Florida in September. I can't believe it's already been 6 months.We won't take another big vacation until the public school kids go back after the summer break, so we will just take small weekends away until then. There's something about getting away from everyone else...away from the house and responsibility...away from a time schedule...and just doing our own thing. We know what things sound fun to us where we are going, but haven't planned our days out. We just want to figure it out when we get there. With Carter's baseball about to start up, we will be very tied down to schedules.

We absolutely love to watch Carter play, but it does take a LOT of time. Once it gets started, there will be no weekends off until it's over....it is all consuming. I can't believe it has been almost a year since he finished last season! He's very excited about playing again.

Now, I have to try to get the kids to do the rest of their school work for the week. They know we are leaving when Jeff gets home and will have a hard time sitting still to do it. Maybe I can work it in my favor somehow!

Sunday, March 04, 2007

A Place In Time

When I was a child, I read a novel that followed a family through several generations. At my age, I was still in the mindset that the world started when I was born and would cease to exist when I did. I was young...my parents were old. My grandparents were ancient. Something in this particular novel changed this view of life for me. I realized that my parents, and even my grandparents, were still young with so much life still to live. I think that, though I was but a child, that I gained insight from that book that others may not have.....I saw the big picture. It has always been this way for me with books. Whatever others read in a book, I always see more. I don't know if it is the author's purpose or my own mind stretching the story as thinly as possible so that I can make it my own. From this time on, I began to see my life as chapters in a book.
Everything that had happened so far was like a prologue....the rest of my life bound tightly in a new book waiting to be read. Like I do with all books, I rushed into the pages with the anticipation for what I would find there. I did not linger in the pages as I passed through each chapter. There was only that need to get to the next page..to find out what would happen...to see how all of the characters would come together. There have been chapters in my life when I felt that I would be there forever. Really, isn't that how it is with every chapter of our lives? When I was a college student, my entire identity was wrapped in books and dormrooms.....friends and dreams. Then, when I married, it was as if I would be a newlywed forever. I would forever be getting to know Jeff....forever be taking advice from everyone else who had been married longer. We were a young couple with the world stretched out before us. We were forever rushing forward, grabbing at everything that was rightfully ours in youth....new jobs...new homes...new identities, and then there were the babies. Suddenly, we were so deep into the novel that was our life that we didn't even remember when our separate plots became one. We just always were. Day to day we lived, enjoying life, while at the same time, flipping through the pages so fast that details were overlooked. Characters who were so prominent in the early chapters of our lives became forgotten for a time. Even our characters as we once knew them were gone, yet we were so caught up that we didn't even miss them. With our children came new identities. We were and would forever be new parents....having never even said goodbye to the newlyweds who, only yesterday, dreamed of this moment in time. Shouldn't there have been a time when we formally turned the page, noticed the new chapter number, and turned the page down in anticipation of settling in later to enjoy what was to come? No, there was still too much book left to read to think that we could ever miss the chapters that got us there.
I have only recently begun to pull away from my identity as a new mother....a mother with babies. Though my children will always feel like my babies, I have recently allowed myself to admit that they are not.....babies. Once the new mother looking for help from everyone else, I am now the one who knows...who has been there. Unlike the earlier chapters of my life, I am not rushing blindly into my new identity. It is not because I don't want to embrace it, but because I do. By rushing into it, I will, in turn, leave it. This is the moment in time in which everything has fallen into place. There comes a point while reading a really good novel that you realize you have lost yourself in it. You hesitate to read too fast because it is only in the reading of it that you get to be a part of it. Oh, you can always go back and reread chapters...remember them, but it is never the same as the first time the words came to life from the pages. At this point, you realize that the joy of the book is not in finishing it or even getting to the next chapter, but in becoming a part of it. Sometimes I find more joy in a book by putting it down and playing it out in my mind..making it real...causing the characters to live in that moment for a while longer.
This is that place in time. I know that all too soon, this chapter that I think will be our lives forever will be covered with the pages of our future. I am now living in what will one day become our past. I will never make these pages come to life again, though I will cherish the opportunities to reread them. It is in seeing my life this way that I have learned to enjoy it the most. The peace for me comes in looking both ways....to the past and the future. The present is but a small moment in time...we are to cherish it now, living in it instead of merely passing through it.

No Turning Back

Spring is on its way! It was a beautiful day yesterday. We woke up to sunshine and very nice weather. Jeff told us to throw ourselves together, so he could take us to eat breakfast at Cracker Barrel. Yummy!!!!! That was a nice treat and a great way to start the day.
When we came home, Jeff and I spent a couple of hours working in the yard...raking leaves and mowing them. I'm so happy to get that done, and it felt GREAT to be outside working. I noticed the new buds on the trees and little plants coming up in my flower beds. As I worked and continued to see these things, it was as if I was also waking up from winter....coming alive inside. I've been feeling bogged down with these last days of school...trying to get through it all and feeling inadequate to do so at times. Now, I feel like I am ready to do what needs done. Every day will lead us one day closer to summer...I am ready!!!

Friday, March 02, 2007


Things just don't stay as nice and organized as I would like them to. It's okay.