Saturday, December 31, 2005

Thoughts on 2005 and 2006

As I sit here smelling the ham cooking that we will take to the L's house tonight, I've been thinking back over our year. We didn't move last year, and I feel so much more connected here now. But moving did occupy many of our discussions around here. We discussed moving locally, which I was not in f avor of. We almost signed a contract on a new house back in May, but I am glad we didn't do that, with the downturn in the housing market. We talked a lot about whether or not we would move after Bob retires in another year and a half. Although there are many good things about the NOVA area, I really do not want to stay in such a crowded, high-traffic area for the long term. It just stresses me. But that brings up the question of where we might go? Huntsville, AL is still a big possibility, since there are a lot of space jobs moving down there, and Bob is pushing for a warmer climate. When we took the quiz over at findyourspot.com (thanks, Dy, for that WTM board recommendation!), Colorado Springs showed up in first place. That is certainly always on our list, since we loved living there, and loved being back there this summer. Ohio is on the list too, since family ties pull there strongly! But obviously the Lord has not given us clear direction yet, and we're still praying for that.

In the mean time, we have a big house and an ARM mortgage. Should we sell now and rent for the remainder of our time here? Do we just trust that the Lord showed us this house, and he will sell it when we're ready to move? Hard questions. We want to use our house to minister, and to that end, we might have another family live in our basement next year. They are old friends, and he is going to a one-year school at Bethesda starting in May. It would provide companionship for me, and a mentoring opportunity as she starts homeschooling, much as the L's did for me when they lived with us so long ago. We're all praying about that.

I do feel confident that being here in D.C. is where the Lord wants us right now. We have grown closer to Bob's family this past year. They even visited our house, which hasn't happened before. We don't know how much time his parents have left, so we are glad for the time we have now. We've been able to be a support for Bob's sister as she goes through a messy divorce and custody trial. I know that wouldn't have happened if we had moved farther away.

We're also not sure what Bob should be doing after retirement. This past year he got his real estate license--should he do that full-time when he retires, or get a job somewhere else and do it on the side for more time? Is real estate really what he wants to do after retirement in the first place? We talked a lot about these things this past year too, and we don't yet have any clear direction on them either!

Looking towards 2006, we are so excited about having another baby in March. It was not incredibly easy to get pregnant this time, so we are even more thankful for this blessing. When I feel her (?) move inside me, I just think about what a miracle it is that another little person is living there!

Well, I need to start basting the ham with my glaze, so I will stop the reflecting for now. I think that next year is shaping up to be one that teaches us more about faith and trust, as we let go of our strong desire to have everything all laid out in front of us in a neat little package. Instead, we have to put our hand into the Lord's and let him lead us, trusting that he knows what is best for us, even when we don't see the path clearly.

Library Statistic

During this bout of sickness, I had some time to catch up on my reading. One thing I read was the latest Reader's Digest, where I found this interesting statistic from the American Library Association:

Ohio residents check out 14.6 items from the library each year. The
national average is 6.9.

I'd like first of all to thank my mom for personally raising that statistic in Ohio--I'm sure she is the reason Ohio is so far out in front! But secondly--14.6 items per year? That is the highest? Doesn't that just amaze you? The library is FREE, people! Take advantage of it! Wow. I should look up all the states, because I am curious as to where Virginia rates. We have pretty good library systems here in NOVA, and all my friends check out tons of books too.

Speaking of libraries, I went yesterday afternoon since Bob got home early. The bad thing about this sickness was that I hadn't been to the library before it all hit, so I didn't have any new books for myself to read. Well, actually that's not true--I was THRILLED to receive Climbing Parnassus for Christmas from Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim , but that is a book I want to read with a highlighter in my hand, not my head in the toilet! LOL! What I really wanted was some cozy brain candy--hey, if my stomach can't handle candy, my brain still can! I was forced to reread some collections of Christmas short stories that I had around the house. Nothing makes me more Christmas-y than reading Victorian or Regency stories set at Christmas time, preferably at a nice house party in a large estate in the country. Ahh, it sounds so fun! Going out and gathering all the greenery and mistletoe, finding a Yule log, making wreaths and garlands, going wassailing, sledding, skating on the frozen pond (there's ALWAYS one of those, as well as lots of snow, you know!), church at a cute little coutry church, having a huge Christmas feast that the cook makes and the servants serve and clean up . . . sounds great! Just the thing to escape vomit-filled sheets and my own sad lack of servants to wash them! LOL! Anyhow, I was glad yesterday to get some fresh books to read. Still nothing too challenging though--I even found a "cozy" murder mystery set during Christmas! Just the thing to read during Monday's football extravaganza!

Speaking tentatively and quietly here . . .

I think I can say that we are out of the woods now! No one has thrown up for 2 days, and no one had diarrhea yesterday. Hooray! I did NO laundry yesterday! Instead I spent the day coaxing Jonathan to start eating again. He was really the only one I was worried about. Last October (over a year ago), he got really sick and vomited at night for 10 days. We took him to the doctor a few times, but they said it was just a virus and he wasn't dehydrated. That was true, but he also lost a LOT of weight since he pretty much stopped eating, and he was skinny to begin with. I was very afraid of that happening again, and indeed, he sort of just stopped eating after he threw up the second time. He would have maybe 2 bites of applesauce a day, but he would drink water. And once he stops eating, it is so hard to get him started again. He's 2 1/2 and MAYBE 27 pounds, probably less now, so he just doesn't have any fat reserves there! He was just laying around yesterday morning, with not much energy at all, which obviously worried me greatly. So I held him on my lap and spoonfed him yogurt after it was apparent he wouldn't be eating more than a bite on his own. For lunch I made his all-time favorite--hot dogs. For dinner I "made" tuna and noodles, another favorite. And he ate them! Today he was back to normal, eating cereal at breakfast and chattering happily away. Amazing how getting a little bit of food in you really revs you back up!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The virus is still winning

Yesterday morning Jonathan threw up again in my bed (was it just last week that I was laughing at Melinda for changing her sheets so often?! LOL! Now I'm changing them every other day!), and he was generally crabby all day long. He didn't want to eat rice, toast, soup, etc. No, what he wanted was cake and cookies, and he was not a happy camper when I said no to them! Caleb woke up with diarrhea. I felt pretty good during the day. Bob brought home Boston Market chicken for dinner, but by then I wasn't feeling all that well again. I ate a little bit, but before the boys went to bed all of that came right back up again. Sigh. So I guess I'm back to toast and soup today. I'm so glad Bob's family isn't coming today! When we talked to them on Monday, I couldn't imagine still being sick by Thursday--surely everyone would be done with this by then! Now I'm hoping and praying we're well enough to go to the New Year's Party at the L's house Saturday. Nathan and Luke are SO looking forward to this. We went there last year, and we counted down at 9:00, then blew noismakers, threw confetti, etc. Nathan and Luke thought that was about the most fun you could have legally! You can tell they had the misfortune of being born to a boring mom who doesn't do parties! : ) So I do hope we are able to go--maybe we just won't be able to eat anything! Luke is still holding out, the lone one who hasn't been sick at all. Who knew he had such an iron stomach?! I'm praying he won't get sick now, at this late date! I think that would really throw me into the looney bin.

We are certainly having a break from schooling! I hadn't planned on doing anything formal, but now we're mainly . . . not doing anything at all. They have watched a lot of videos and played a lot with their Bionicles and Playmobil. I have definitely noticed that when we don't have any real goals for the day, then there is a lot more bickering and complaining, so I am hoping we can get back into a more regular routine next week. I would love to send them all outside, since we're feeling a bit cooped up here in the sick house, but it is raining, and I don't feel like dealing with pneumonia on top of everything else! It has been funny to see what things the boys come up with on their own. Nathan has wanted to write some letters (!), including one, of his complete own volition, to Thangaraj, our Compassion International child from India. They are the same age, with birthdays only a few days apart, and I have done a lot of encouraging Nathan in the past to take more of an interest in writing him, so I was pretty excited when he came up with that! Nathan has also been organizing some stamps for his stamp collection. Since that involves sorting and organizing, Luke helped too. When my family first lived in Ohio, we lived in a huge old house next to another huge old house, where a childless widow lived. She gave my brother a big envelope with all sorts of old stamps in it. They've all been canceled, but it is so interesting to look at them. Many are from old Communist countries that no longer exist. Dan passed them all down to Nathan, along with ones from my mom and dad's amazing collection of international friends, so we have plenty of stamps to sort through and put in his album! It's a fun hobby for someone who likes history and geography as much as Nathan does.

Well, everyone is playing very nicely right now, so I am going to go read the paper. Wow--what a plan! : )

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Homeschool Store

To give everyone, including myself, a break from the vomit-filled posts of late, I thought I would finally talk more about the great trip Mom and I had to the Home Educator's Resource store in Lewisville, TX, which is about 45 minutes away from Dan and Melinda's. I first heard about this store on the Well Trained Mind message boards, where ladies from Texas were always talking about how great it was, meeting there, etc. So when I realized it was pretty close to Dan's, I knew I wanted to make the effort to go and see if it really was as great as everyone said!

Mom and I went on a rainy Monday afternoon, after getting detailed directions from Mapquest. We found the shopping center without any problems, but I actually called the store from the parking lot because I couldn't see it, and I wasn't sure we were in the right place! The store is tucked back in a corner and hard to see. It's not that impressive of a storefront, and it's I guess what you would call 2 stores wide, but they sure pack a lot of stuff into that area!

The store sells both new and used curricula. Everything is divided by subject, and a lot of things are divided by grades within subjects as well. I thought it was very well organized. I especially loved having the used curricula right next to the new. You could compare prices, and you could easily thumb through the books to see if they would work for you! There are so many great places to order stuff for homeschooling, but I get frustrated when I can't see what I'm thinking of buying. I have ordered a few things that sounded great, but just didn't do it for us, and being able to look at these things before hand would have saved me some money! Also, I frequently will hear someone talk, especially online, about some new thing, and then I wonder if maybe I should switch. I love the opportunity just to browse through things to see if they really are better. So I loved the store, and I wish there was one close to me! Right now, homeschooling conventions are the only way for me to look thorugh curricula, and they are not always convenient to go to. I doubt I'll make next year's HEAV one, since I'll have a pretty young baby who will still be nursing a lot, and I don't want to drag her around.

So what did I look at and buy? I was thrilled to find Famous Men of Rome and the student guide from Memoria Press . I had been planning on ordering them, but I saved money by buying them used. I also found the study guide for D'Aulaire's Greek Myths, which we already have and is a big favorite, espeically with Nathan. I think we will start Famous Men of Rome this coming year, and we'll probably do D'Aulaire's a few years later. I spent a while looking at all the history books, but I didn't buy much else there, since I love what we have already (Story of the World). I did buy some used historical fiction books for Nathan to read on the way back. I browsed through the math section but didn't buy anything there. We use Saxon, and that is pretty easy to find used, even around here. I looked a long time at the grammer section. Nathan is using Rod and Staff 3 this year, and while I like it just fine, I didn't really want to go on with it. So after looking at several different choices, I decided to go with Easy Grammer 4/5 next year for him. We actually are doing a lot of our grammer in our Latin time, so I don't want to have to spend too much time on it separately, and I think the EG format is more like what Nathan will like. I was able to get the workbook and teacher's guide both used. I looked at writing curricula too, but they didn't have the two that I am interested in, Classical Composition and Classical Writing. (I guess you can tell I am leaning toward Classical Writing, since I bothered finding a link, but I would have liked to look at it! LOL!) I bought a used copy of Mystery of the Roman Ransom, which is a sequel to Detectives in Togas, a book which Nathan really liked. I looked at the Real Science 4 Kids chemistry curriulum, which I have considered buying. I liked it alot, but I decided against buying it. It is fairly expensive, and we just don't do a lot of formal science right now. We read a lot of books and do more nature study type things.

I bought 2 things that were totally not on my official "list", but I was intrigued by them. One was a Contenders For the Faith manual. This is a book of projects and skills to do with young men to help them grow up to be godly men. We have talked about this book with our friends Craig and Christine, but we had never seen it. I really liked it, so I bought it. Bob was excited about doing the projects with the boys. It covers a wide variety of areas such as Biblical Manhood (Bible memory, reading, and journeling, etc.), Field and Forest (archery, birds, camping, ecology, insects, trees, etc.), Knowledge and Skills (huge category here including astronomy, chess, electricity, finances, fire safety, first aid, gardening, and much more), Leadership (biographies, organization, public speaking, scheduling, etc), Recreational Activities (badminton, croquet, fishing, hiking, etc.), and Others, which talks about various ways to care for others in the Body of Christ. So overall, it seems like a very comprehensive book, and I think it will take a long time to go through all the projects! There are places which have clubs like AWANAs to do Contenders of the Faith, and the companion book for girls, Keepers of the Faith, but I've never heard of one anywhere near us. That would be really neat, I would think, like a good combination of AWANAs and Boy Scouts.

The other impulse buy was Buckles and Bobbins , a beginning sewing book specifically for boys. I was pretty excited about finding this. Nathan and Luke love to make pillows, and they made several for Christmas presents (Nathan made one each for Grandma and Grandpa, and luke made one for Caleb and one for Jonathan). They just handstitch them, but I know they would love to learn how to use the sewing machine. Unfortunately, I do not have the necessary skills to teach them how to REALLY sew! I make things, but I can't read patterns, so I just wing it. This books steps through things quite nicely, and the projects include a pillowcase, laundry bag, potholder, work apron, fleece blanket, pajamas, duffel bag, sportsman's vest, cargo pants, and backpack. It includes all the patterns, plus detailed instructions, so maybe I will even be able to learn something from it! I would love to be able to make costumes for them especially. This will probably be more of a summer project, so ask me how it's going next year! And if it goes well, then everyone can expect plenty of homemade Christmas presents! LOL!

I also bought a few used books for Caleb and Jonathan so they would have some new books to look at on the long car ride home. All told, we spent a few hours there, happily browsing. I was so glad I didn't have the boys with me so I could really take my time! I know whenever we make it down to visit Dan and Melinda again, that I will make another trip to the Home Educator's Resource store!!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Well . . .

Caleb only threw up one more time last night, so that was a huge blessing. But he ran a little fever and generally had a restless night, so Bob and I kept popping out of bed to run check on him in case he was about to lose it all again. I doubt Bob and I would have slept all that well anyways, because we both realized that our stomachs were not feeling so settled. All through the night I kept saying that I didn't think any of my food had digested at all--my stomach felt so distended and horrid. Bob finally got sick around 6:00, and I around 9:30. And I was right--considering that it had been over 12 hours since I last ate, there was still tons in my stomach. All that they say about the digestive systems of pregnant women being slow is right!

Nathan was a real help today, getting everyone dressed and generally fed. Caleb wasn't that hungry, and neither was Jonathan, which was a big clue. Bob and I just stayed in bed while they all watched videos all morning ("Mom, can we watch ANOTHER Lone Ranger?" "Yes. Whatever you want." " Yay!!!"). In the afternoon, they all played with a new play-doh set also from Aunt Melinda and Uncle Dan, as well as a construction flannelgraph set from Pam. I guess the benefit to having both Mom and Dad being sick at the same time right after Christmas is that there are new toys to occupy everyone very nicely. Finally Bob and I made it downstairs to eat toast. Quite a change from our feast yesterday!

Jonathan was very whiny as bedtime approached, and he said he didn't feel good, so I figured his time was coming as well. He didn't eat much today, but he did drink a lot of soymilk, and that all just came back up a few minutes ago, poor guy. We're praying it will be short-lived for him too. So that brings us to our tally of 5 down, one to go. I wonder when Luke will start? We are supposed to have 2 of Bob's sisters come here Thursday night with their families, but now that is obviously up in the air. Bob thinks if they come at all, then they will get sick too. We'll see what happens to Luke, and also what they want to do. Ann still wants to come, but I don't know if Rose will.


*Update* At 10:45, I again got the "Mom" call from upstairs--surprise! It was Nathan again. Since we figured he was over and done with all of this, he was sleeping in the top bunk, and he managed to throw up not just all over his top bunk, but also all over Luke's comforter below. *big sigh* This may come as a surprise, but I am so tired of cleaning up vomit!!! I am really not dealing with this well now, so I'd appreciate your prayers that no one else throws up again tonight, and that this virus will just pass from our house--SOON!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!!!

We had an absolutely lovely Christmas, starting yesterday, and I hope you all did too!

Nathan threw up for the last time at 2:00 AM Saturday morning, with no signs of troubles yesterday at all. Yay! I was able yesterday morning to get out to Target and the dollar store and get a few things for stockings, which made me feel better. Ed stopped by in the afternoon to drop off presents, and they ended up coming back over here with KFC for dinner after the candlelight service at their church. We decided not to go anywhere, so the boys just played here and I baked some cookies (another new recipe) and made some sugared almonds and pecans. YUM! It was very relaxing, and then we had a great time visiting with the L's over dinner and dessert. Nathan and Luke were particularily thrilled to see Zachary and show him their new "Visorak Battering Ram", which is a Bionicle contraption that Uncle Dan and Aunt Melinda bought them for Christmas, thereby ensuring themselves "Most-Favored Relative" status for the upcoming year. LOL! I stayed up late baking a cake for Jesus' birthday cake (just a round one--Jesus doesn't get a theme birthday cake!) and putting together an egg/hash brown/sausage breakfast casserole (but no bread--I don't like soggy casseroles).

This morning we all woke up around 9:00. Even Nathan and Luke have been sleeping late since we got back from Texas, which has been nice, but we never open gifts or stockings really early anyways. I put in the breakfast casserole and made oatmeal muffins, and then the boys opened their stockings. At the dollar store I found these great plastic cowboy rifles, which even make a cheesy loading and shooting sound, and I know you will all be shocked by this, but the boys absolutely loved them. Jonathan carried his around all day. Unfortunately they are made with the high quality you might expect from something you pay a dollar for, so Bob has had to take all of them apart at one time or another today to reconnect wires, ect, even at one point doing some impromtu soldering. He's a regular gunsmith! Fortunately the boys love them even when they don't make their cheesy noise. We also gave them some cheap little flashlights from Walmart and little "Wooly Willy" things, where you move the magnetic shavings around to make hair, beards, etc. on a face. That was a big hit too! They also got ring pops, some chocolate bells (or Starbursts, if you are allergic to chocolate!), a candy stick from Cracker Barrel, and a candy necklace, again courtesy of the dollar store. What a great place! Mom filled her own stocking with dark chocolate squares from Target . . .

After breakfast, we opened our presents. Bob's mom always sends money for us to buy the boys something, so yesterday I had the brainstorm to go to Target and buy a Playmobil knights set. It was just a small one, with 3 knights, and then I also bought 2 separate knights on horseback. The boys were excited about them, and they have played with them much of the day. I had hoped they would use them in their big cardboard castle that we made this summer, and that's exactly what they did! Bob got me a "Message" Bible, which I've wanted for awhile, and I bought him a John McArthur Bible commentary, so between the two of us, we gave the Christian bookstore some good business! Pam surprised me and sent a package a few days ago that I opened today. I was so thrilled to find scrapbook pages and borders that she made for me! Now I am actually excited about doing some more scrapbooking, if I can just force myself to make the time! The L's bought us a beautiful, huge new popcorn popper, which I know will be put to good use. Our old one is pretty small, and the bowl has a crack, so a replacement is very welcome!

We had our Christmas dinner at a normal dinner time, and I just baked chicken breasts for the main course. I also made mashed potatoes, gravy, cornbread stuffing (which was just Pepperidge Farm, so I spent no time on it, but as it seems like always happens, it received rave reviews. Go figure!), broccoli, and a strawberry jello salad that I only rarely make but is my absolute favorite. I spent much more time on it than on the dressing, but it only received a lukewarm response. Caleb, Luke, Bob, and I liked it, but Jonathan and Nathan didn't. Ah well. After dinner we read the Christmas story, moving the felt characters on our background around, and then we sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus and ate our cake. By then it was getting late, so the boys went off to bed--a great Christmas day!

As I thought back over this whole Christmas season, I realized I actually liked the way we did it this year, with having 2 separate gift-opening times. After we opened gifts in Texas, the boys played with new toys, read new books, and played new games in the car on the long ride back home. Then after we opened gifts today, they spent most of the day either playing "Lone Ranger" with their new guns, or playing with their Playmobil knights. So you can definitely say they were able to appreciate all of their gifts this year, unlike some years when it seems like we just have to rush them to keep on opening presents, and some presents kind of get left behind and ignored!

Just to let you all know, the day didn't end on the best of notes. Caleb threw up while getting ready for bed. Oh no! Unlike Nathan when he was sick, Caleb has eaten a ton of food today, and much of it pretty recently--lovely stuff like strawberry jello with lots of fruit and chocolate cake. So if he throws up as often as Nathan did, it has the potential to be a very messy and long night. I am so very thankful, however, that the Lord allowed us to have Christmas Day without anyone being sick during it!

Friday, December 23, 2005

Christmas

I'm having a bit of a dilemna regarding Christmas right now. When we were down in Texas, we opened presents and basically celebrated Christmas with my family. So that leaves me a little unsure of what exactly to do on the actual day. Nathan is still excited because we have stockings, but he doesn't know that, well, I really don't have anything to go in them! Usually we have some little things, and some candy, but this year all we bought were little flashlights from Walmart. And I don't have any special candy for them either, so anything food-related is going to be the same things they have been snacking on as we drove across the US! I am disappointed that almost no churches around here are having services actually on Christmas morning. There is a little church not too far away that celebrates Mass in Latin, and we have talked about visiting there, so we are going to try to find out if it has a service on Christmas morning. Maybe we will go there. If not, I think I will at least make a special breakfast dish, although there are not many of those that don't have a lot of cheese in them, making them not edible for Caleb! I am also at a loss as to what to do for Christmas dinner. We might possibly have 2 of Bob's sisters and their families come for a few nights next week, so I was thinking that I would make a ham and have a traditional dinner while they are here. For one thing, my ham is not defrosted, so I couldn't make it Sunday even if I wanted to! But what do I make to make it seem special? I can't decide! I am planning on baking a cake tomorrow so that we can do our traditional celebration of Jesus' birthday. We'll read the Christmas story while we put up the figures on our flannel background, and we'll probably sing some Christmas carols or something. Then we'll sing "Happy Birthday" to Jesus and eat his birthday cake. Still, it doesn't seem that special of a day, and I can't think of anything else to do. It doesn't help that we are all just so tired from the drive, so no creative juices are flowing!

Update: maybe we won't be doing much at all, even tomorrow, when we were planning on going to a living Nativity at a local church. Nathan has just thrown up for the second time. The first time, we all just assumed he had eaten something this morning at Sams' (we had tons of free samples!) that hadn't agreed with him. The second time, however, makes me think it is a bug, possible the one that was going around our homeschool co-op before we left. Apparently there were kids vomiting all over the place, and many families were affected, even the L's. Weird that it would start for us so much later, and after a few weeks of no exposure to any other kids. I guess no matter what, this will indeed be a Christmas to remember.

Tire Excitement

I mentioned that Dan and Melinda seemed to have been cursed with tire problems, and it looks like they rubbed it off on us! As we were driving through Arkansas on Wednesday (we seem to have problems mainly in Arkansas, lol), I pulled off at a rest stop to go to the bathroom. I was changing Joanthan's diaper in the van when a lady and her husband came up and told me that our back right tire was very, very low. I told Bob when he came back out, and they were quite right. Fortunately, they had one of those little guys in their car that blows up tires, so they tried to reinflate the tire. It got a little bigger, but it was obvious we had a pretty big hole, which Bob found by running his hand over the tire. We were able to make it to the next exit, where we found a can of Fix-A-Flat in our back. That enabled us to limp onto 40 more miles to a WalMart that had a tire center. When we got there, the mechanics took the tire off to patch it and found a huge goose-egg bulging out on the inner sidewall. They told us it could have blown at any time, but we would never have been warned about it if we hadn't had the leak, since we would never have seen anything suspicious. Wow! The Lord was really watching over us, and we're so thankful that he answered our prayers for safety that morning before we left. So we got a new tire, and while they were putting it on, we bought a package of turkey, some cheese, a loaf of bread, some chips, and a half-gallon of orange juice (it was a Super-Walmart, obviously!), and we had a little picnic back at the tire waiting area. What an exciting dinner stop!

We're home!!!

Here is the trip summary--3700 miles driven in 10 days, one new tire, countless M&Ms, cookies, crackers, raisins, etc. consumed, and 6 all-too-short days spent with family!

We had such a great trip. We left Tuesday, Dec. 13 and drove to Nashville. The next day we drove on to the Dallas-area, to Dan and Melinda's house. We did run into a huge traffic jam on the west side of Memphis, so we took a sudden 30-mile detour to try to get around it. That led us through many poverty-stricken little Arkansas towns such as Earle, which looked as though every building in it should be condemned. Wow, you don't see those things from the interstate. A sobering perspective.

Thursday Dan worked half a day, and then we started down to Corpus Christi in a caravan. We again ran into a traffic jam in the middle of Dallas, and we rerouted ourselves for another detour when Dan's tire blew out. Not to worry! We all pulled off between the highway and an exit ramp, and Bob and Dan changed the tire like a pair of pit stop mechanics. The detour led us through Grand Prairie, which reminded us somewhat of an urban "Earle". We also ran into lots of traffic in Austin, leading us to conclude that we are magnets for traffic tie-ups, while Dan and Melinda are magnets for flat tires, since that was their 4th in a year. We had a lot of fun caravaning with them. Melinda rode in the minivan some, giving her practice in being the "stewardress of the van", the person responsible for picking up dropped toys, getting new books for people, choosing new music, distributing snacks, etc. It's a full time job! We ate dinner at Cracker Barrel and got into Corpus pretty late.

Friday was the day of the big ceremony! It was freezing cold and rainy, but we (the boys especially) had a great time sitting in James' airplane. The ceremony was at 3:00 in the afternoon. I was concerned, since that is naptime, but the boys did okay. Jonathan and Caleb were very wiggly, but there were a lot of other kids there who were crying, etc., so it was fine. James looked so handsome and distinguished in his uniform with his wings pinned on! We were so very proud! We all went out to Olive Garden to celebrate. THere were 18 of us there, so it was quite the party!

Saturday we went to the Texas State Aquarium, which was very nice. We were thrilled to find out it is a reciprocating member of the American Zoological Association, so we were able to get half off admission with our membership card from Boonshoft. My personal favorites were the jelly fish display, and also the seahorses. They are just so cute, and you probably know that female seahorses only carry the eggs to the father--he fertilizes them, carries them until they are ready to be born, then he pushes them out by contracting his body. Very attractive species, especially to a pregnant woman!

In the afternoon, we all went back to our hotel and watched football in our room. We got an amazing room--it was literally the size of two rooms, and we had 2 king size beds, plus a pull-put couch, 2 easy chairs, and 2 poofy chairs that went around a little table. There was a ton of empty space in the middle for the boys to play in as well, and it was obviously the best place for everyone to gather and socialize! We ordered pizza and had a regular party there! We were really thankful for the perfect room that the Lord provided!

Sunday we drove back to Dallas with Dan and Melinda. As we were heading out of Corpus, we stopped to get gas, and I realized that I had left a folder with driving instructions and more importantly, the extra pictures of the boys from WalMart that I had been handing out. Bob and Dan volunteered to go back and try to find them (which they did, praise the Lord), and Melinda rode with us again. Bob thought maybe I left them there on purpose so Melinda and I could have more time together, but I can assure you that I did not! I did really enjoy riding and talking with her though--it made the miles pass quite quickly! We met up with Mom and Dad at Cracker Barrel, and Bob and Dan caught up to us there too, and we all ate lunch. Then we did a little bit of shopping at the San Marcos Outlet Malls. The only flaw in our plan was that it was the last Sunday before Christmas, and they were PACKED!!!

Monday I did laundry, and in the afternoon Mom and I ventured to Lewisville to a homeschool resource store that I had heard about on the Well-Trained Mind board. It was fantastic, but I will devote another post to it. I had too much fun! That night we celebrated Christmas together and opened our presents. Tuesday we got packed up while the boys played with their new Bionicle toy and watched Lone Ranger videos. Wednesday morning we said sad goodbyes, drove to Nashville, and then got home yesterday at about 9:30. We're all so tired, but it was an absolutely wonderful trip. My family is so spread out that we all get together so rarely, and when we do, it is a very precious thing.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Just to mix it up a little

The boys were unloading the dishwasher this morning, and Luke was complaining about all the mixing bowls in there. Nathan rather condescendingly pointed out that it was because we had done lots of baking lately.

Luke: "Duh."

Nathan: "Luke, you don't always need to say, 'duh'."

Luke: "But I don't!"

Caleb: "Yeah, sometimes you should say, 'for Pete's sake'."

Sunday, December 11, 2005

It finally happened today . . .

At church, a friend was introducing me to her mother. She said something about the one in my tummy being a girl, and the mom said, "She won't be there much longer, I'd reckon!" So now I have proof that my belly is huge, and I look like I could deliver any day, while in fact, I am only almost 25 weeks along and still have a good 3 1/2 MONTHS left! Sigh. Where is the chocolate? LOL--just kidding! See, that's the kicker--I haven't actually gained any more weight than I ever have at this point. I have gained a respectable 17 pounds, which is not super great, but it's certainly not obese either. I am right on track to gain my usual 35 pounds. But I look as big as I did when I went into labor with Nathan. I think this is just another example of how people aren't really used to seeing women with big families. You can be cutely pregnant with 2, even 3 pregnancies, if they are spaced far apart. Then you can wear those modern maternity fashions where your shirts hug and accent your poochy little belly. When you are carrying number 5 in 8 years, you outgrow those shirts at about 4 months, so what's the point of buying them?! Those stomach muscles are permanently damaged!

In other news, our garbage disposal broke this afternoon. I was grinding (is that the right verb?) some cereal that didn't get eaten before church when there was a tremendous clunking, big-broken-metal sound. At least I know it wasn't because I was putting some hard thing down there! That cereal was beyond soggy! The dispposal is not a huge priority before we leave, but hopefully Bob can replace it when we get back. At least it is something he knows how to do!

I am pleased to report that I am mowing my way through my to-do list before we leave for Texas on Tuesday. I mailed off a package to Bob's mom yesterday, I got all of our Christmas cards done and stamped, all our presents are wrapped, and I've started laundry and packing.

Also, for those we will be seeing in Texas, be prepared for Luke's hole-y grin. His second front tooth came out just a day or so later than the first, so he is definitely speaking with a bit of a whistle. Feel free to sing, "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth", but don't expect that he hasn't heard it before! LOL!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Well, now we know why I had my blood clot . . .

. . . it's something beautiful people have troubles with! My brother was kind enough to send me this article link , which discusses Miss Indiana-USA. She noticed her arm was purple and swollen last week, and she was admitted to the hospital. The doctors found a blood clot, and they also did surgery to remove her first rib. Here is some more information on Paget-Schroetter syndrome, which is exactly what I had, although my doctor never called it that. He always just used the more generic "thoracic outlet syndrome", but Paget-Schroetter syndrome is evidently a specific manifestation of thoracic outlet syndrome. Interesting. My clot was in the subclavian vein, and my symptoms were just as are described in the second link. And I too felt "like an elephant kicked me in the chest" after my surgery. Wow, we have so much in common! The picture in the first article looks just like me too. . . LOL!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

New "Grammar" Concept

Yesterday the Washington Times had an interesting article on the front Metro page entitled "Baltimore Redefines Grammar". Here's an excerpt.

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Remember when a noun was defined as a person, place or
thing? In a teen magazine that is becoming part of the Baltimore
middle-school reading curriculum, the noun is being redefined as "stuff." That
makes a verb "what stuff does." It's part of a new approach in the
Baltimore school system to teaching reading and writing in middle schools.
Some say the new method doesn't have much of a track record. The change is
being made after a dismal performance on state standardized tests this spring.
The Baltimore Sun reported Sunday that officials have spent at least $2 million
on Studio Course. The curriculum uses teen magazines, places grammar on
the back burner and lets students write about whatever they want. The magazines
the schools are using to engage children include Cosmo Girl, which has a feature
this month called "Five Hot New Kisses," with explicit tips on making out, and
Teen People, whose November issue includes the articles "Hot Boy Next Door" and
"Flirt Better." If better test results are what school officials are
after, they have no evidence the new curriculum will do that. Only one
other city, Denver, has used the program. "I can't imagine Baltimore would be so
ignorant to think it's research-based," said Kay Landon, a sixth-grade teacher
in Denver. "They can look at our test scores. Our test scores have not
gone up. The kids are getting shortchanged."


Well! Isn't that an interesting concept?! All you can do is feel very sorry for the kids. That is so sad. I see so much bad grammar around from people who HAVE been taught it correctly, that I can't imagine how these poor kids are going to murder the English language. "The curriculum uses teen magazines, places grammar on the back burner and lets students write about whatever they want." But students who don't know any grammar and write whatever they want are not going to be able to communicate very effectively. So I am assuming, since this is an urban school system, that they probably have a high percentage of minorities. And now these people, when they graduate, are not going to be able to clearly express themselves in writing in the language of our country. So this policy is, in effect, going to take away the voice of all these kids. Chasing trendy "stuff" (hey--a noun!) is not ever a good teaching concept, and it is very sad that inner-city schools are where they experiment with it (well, that and California, but that's another problem).

Maybe there is a bigger problem than first meets the eye in Maryland? Montgomery County, MD, is the place where they approved that graphic sex-ed course that, among other things, involved a pretty teenage girl showing the right way to put a condom on a cucumber. I blogged about that last November here. After parents sued, a liberal judge ruled it couldn't be used, since the curriculum basically said people who thought things like homosexuality were wrong were bad, and it specifically named several Christian denominations. Apparently that was the bad thing, but now it's back to the drawing board for that county. Wonder what they will come up with? Well, we know that Maryland can redefine grammar, so it's no wonder they are trying to redefine marriage and so on as well!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Christmas Letters

Yay! We finally got our Christmas letter done and copied! I guess we just weren't really inspired this year--I felt like pretty much everything we're doing now is what we were also doing last year. We are having another baby, but let's face it--it's not like that is exactly an unusual occurance based on past newsletters either! So our update is pretty brief, but at least it's done. Also, I didn't want to buy any more paper this year. Each year we buy a pack of 100 sheets, and we use about 70 or 75 of them. We faithfully save the rest, which really adds up after awhile! I decided that we should try to use up all these odds and ends this year, which required some different formatting for various "editions". We're using 3 different types of papers--one with snowflakes, one with a ribbon around it, and one with some greenery. So now you all can just wait and wonder which one you'll get! What excitement! I would love to get these out before we leave for Texas, so I think I will sign off and go fold some letters. And if you are someone we are planning on seeing in Texas, then you can just expect to get yours there! : )

I can't wait to start getting everyone's newsletters and Christmas cards. So far we've gotten a grand total of two! I have never understood those people who hate them. I love them! We have enough friends that I know we won't see anytime in the near future, some we probably won't see again until we meet in heaven, and I absolutely love to hear what they and their families are up to. We usually get such boring, non-personal mail, but December is a great month!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

A Crazy Night with Friends

We usually have Bible study at the L's house Friday nights, but last night Ed has his work Christmas party, and we're between books, and it's almost Christmas, so the rest of us met over here for pizza and fellowship. Tim and Amy stopped by Costco and picked up three of their take-n-bake pizzas for all of us (3 families--6 adults and 10 kids). We cook the take-n-bake pizzas from Sams all the time , so we fired up our ovens and popped 2 of them in. About halfway through, we noticed smoke coming out of the top oven. We looked in and found that the crust was pretty "done", although the rest of the pizza wasn't. That's odd. We turned the oven way down and kept watching it. A few minutes later a blob of something actually caught on fire on the bottom of the oven, so we had to rescue the pizza quickly before it really burned! In all that excitement, we noticed smoke coming out of the bottom oven--what is up with smoking ovens?!! So that pizza had a burned bottom crust too. Good grief! Can I just say again that we NEVER have had problems cooking pizzas (or really anything else either) ever before?!!! The third pizza was just fine however (are we stuck in Goldilocks or something?!). Fortunately none of us are too picky, so we did a good job on all the pizzas, burned or not.

Then the kids went downstairs and the adults sat arounds and talked. Soon we could hear Caleb wailing downstairs. To my expert ear, it sounded like someone had taken something away from him, so I wasn't too worried. It turns out that he uses the same cry for both small and big things, however, and he and Luke had banged heads pretty hard. He just had a bump, but Luke had quite the swollen and bleeding upper lip. And that tooth that was loose is now VERY loose! Luke was crying too, but fortunately I had some medicinal chocolate Snickers cheesecake on hand, and that made a cool, soothing compress. : ) It was my first attempt at a cheesecake, because I don't really LIKE cheesecake, but this one was all chocolate with a chocolate crust and cut-up Snickers bars in the filling as well as on top, along with drizzled chocolate sauce. YUM! (My oven did NOT burn the cheesecake or even the chocolate crinkle cookies I made earlier that afternoon, I am pleased to report. So evidently the oven became possessed sometime after 4:00 Friday afternoon. LOL!) The cheesecake was a big hit with everyone, as were the cookies and also the buckeyes that Amy brought.

After dessert, the kids disappeared back downstairs again. Soon one of them came upstairs to tell us that the glass in our coffee table had broken because "they were trying to put it in right". Bob leaped downstairs to clean that all up. We never did get a satisfactory story for why the glass was OUT of the coffee table, but I will say that our kids did not appear to have anything to do with it, as they all had believeable alibis at the time of the incident! I never really cared for that coffee table--another thing that Bob got I think when he graduated from the Academy in 1987, and frankly once you have kids, a table with glass in it will NEVER look clean. But still, now we have to replace it, although it is pretty low on the priority list.

So the night was full of excitement, as well as good fellowship! I guess this is why I don't as a rule throw any formal parties! LOL!

UPDATE: Luke did indeed lose his first tooth last night (Saturday) while watching football. And the 2 right next to it are also pretty loose, so I expect it won't be too long before they are out too. It was quite a hit he took!

Jonathan--another one like me

First, as funny story about Jonathan from a few mornings ago while we were eating breakfast.

Jonathan: ROAR!!

Luke (in a kindly, big brother voice): Are you being a lion, Jonny?

Jonathan (still roaring): NO! I'M A BUTTERFLY!

LOL! Luke pointed out to him that butterflies don't roar, but he was unconvinced.

A few days ago I wrote that Luke was a lot like me. Well, it turns out that Jonathan also shares some of my personality traits. Specifically, he is very picky about some anal little things. For instance, he has particular ways that his shoes must go on, and they absolutely must not be "too tight". It never fails that when we are running late, all I hear is "Too tight! Too tight!" along with lots of fussing. So I have to make a big show of undoing the velcro strap and then redoing it so that the shoe will be acceptably loose. When I was a little girl, my particular bugaboo was "shoes that slide up and down on my heels". I have distinct memories of some mall in L.A. with a Buster Brown shoe store, and us walking around trying on shoes, but me always saying "No, not these--these slide up and down on my heels". So I guess what goes around, comes around, although ironically my shoes could never be tight enough.

Jonathan's other particular idiosyncresy is that his pant legs must always be down, NOT hitched up at all on his socks or by his knees. This normally doesn't present much of a problem, but recently we've been on a real "Lone Ranger" kick around here, and so he wants to wear his cowboy boots pretty much constantly. And when you wear sweat pants and cowboy boots, it's almost impossible to keep your cuffs down around your ankles! A good deal of my time seems to be spent carefully folding over his pants cuff, then carefully inserting them into the boot, taking care to keep them as far down as possible. It's quite a process, and it rarely works to his exact satisfaction. And you can tell that my argument of "You NEVER see the Lone Ranger fussing about his pants cuffs and boots" just isn't convincing enough. I wonder what Jonathan's kids will be like? LOL!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Doctor Update

I had my doctor appointment this morning, and it went pretty much as I expected! Everything looks fine with the baby, and I told her about my rash. She looked at it, said "Hmmm . . . " and then said there were lots of pregnancy-related rashes, but it was very unusual for them to start this early and to not be on my stomach. Exactly what my research said. So she didn't have anything new to suggest, and she wants me to go to a dermatologist. Which is easier said than done! I don't have authorization to go off-base for anything other than OB care, so I think I will have to call the Fairfax Clinic, which is my primary care provider, and then see if whoever I see will refer me to dermatology at either Ft. Belvoir or Bethesda. Then I will have to try to get an appointment there. If I'm extremely lucky, I may be able to get seen before the pregnancy is over! (You may think I am joking, but alas, I am quite serious!) So I am not counting on any relief or answers in the near future, other than miraculous relief from the Lord. I have found something that does numb the itching--it has as the main ingredient camphor, and it gives a nice icy/hot sensation. I use that before I go to bed, and that does help. Right now I am praying that the Lord will just take the rash away, and that He will enable me to deal with it until it is gone, whenever that may be. I guess this is fair play, since I have never struggled with morning sickness, heartburn, varicose veins, etc. that so many other people suffer from during pregnancy!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Art Show

Nathan and Luke have been taking an art class for the last 10 weeks. It's from 2:00 to 3:30, and the class had 9 little boys, and 1 girl. Wow, brave teacher! Actually the boys were all from our homeschool group, so they were well-behaved and interested in being there, and the class went really well. Nathan and Luke had a lot of fun. Today was their last class, and they had an art show at the end. Everyone picked out their favorite 2 pieces, the teacher matted them on colored paper and hung them up, and then individually they were supposed to talk about their pieces in front of the other kids and parents. Well, the teacher called on Luke first. I was a little apprehensive when I found out that the kids were going to have to talk in front of the group, and, as it turned out, my fears were well-founded! Luke bounded up to the front, looked out at his audience, and collapsed into a puddle of silent tears. Ahh, so much like his mother, poor boy. Mrs. Mellon handled it very well though. She asked him questions about his pictures and then related his answers to everyone without embarrassing him further, so he did stop crying by the end, although he never really did turn away from the wall. Nathan was a little shy in that he faced his pictures while talking, but at least he did tell about them without any prompting or tears. Obviously, speaking in front of a group has been something I have struggled with all my life, but look at me now! I can be in leadership positions on science fair committees, lead class reunions, be in book clubs and give plenty of opinions, teach at co-op, etc.! So I have managed to cope quite well and get better at it. But I vividly remember the sense of dread that hung over me for weeks as the day to give my "oral book report" loomed closer and closer. And I vividly remember turning bright red and barely being able to talk, yet knowing that my grade hinged on the stupid report. How humiliating! I am glad that Luke has the opportunity to work through these issues without grades hinging upon them, and without a whole class making fun. It just takes time and confidence, and those do not come just from constantly being forced to get in front of people. Some people were simply not made to give oral reports in the first grade! (Or second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth as well!)

Rash Update

I did call the doctor's office this morning, and the nurse told me it was fine to put hydrocortisone cream on the whole rash. That was the extent of her suggestions, though, and she didn't have any clues as to what it might be from either. I did some internet research on pregnancy urticaria, and while the pictures do look like my rash, my experience has been totally different than their descriptions. PUPPP usually starts in the final few weeks of pregnancy, and it usually only occurs in people during their first pregnancies. It starts on the abdomen, and then spreads. Mine has never been on my abdomen at all; in fact, it started behind my armpits, and has now spread to all my extremities but is still not on my trunk! Interestingly, I do think I had this during my first pregnancy--my belly was so itchy and bumpy the last few weeks that I thought I was going to scratch myself to bleeding! But I never said anything about it, and obviously I survived just fine. Now, however, with around 17 weeks to go, I don't know that I can last the whole time! One forum I found in my search recommended bathing with mint tea leaves. Showing you how incredibly desperate I am, after lunch we all marched over to the health food store to buy some, and I am planning on taking a bath after the boys go down. Yes, me--a bath! Like I said, you can tell I am desperate for relief! I will certainly give an update after my appointment on Friday!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Ten Commandments of Christmas Tree Decorating

Well, I posted these last year too, but I thought it was certainly appropriate to run again in light of my Christmas tree decorating experiences! A girl on the Well-Trained Mind boards came up with these 2 years ago, based on an actual grandmother, and I thought some of my "new" readers would enjoy them!

THE TEN TREE COMMANDMENTS

Rule #1: Thou shalt assemble the artificial tree and bend the branches for no less than one hour for a realistic appearance.

Rule #2: Then thou shalt apply the lights beginning at the top of the tree progessing to the bottom, taking the strand all the way to the center of the tree and out again on every single branch or thou wilt be smitten.

Rule #3: Concerning the number of lights. Thou shalt strive for the perfection and beauty of not less than 10 100 light strands for a total of 1000 lights. Less than this and it shall be proclaimed an "ugly" tree.

Rule #4: Thou shalt then begin apply the ornaments. Small ornaments shall go at the top. Large ornaments for the base. Thy tree must be proportional.

Rule #5: THOU SHALT NOT ALLOW THE ORNAMENTS TO SIT ON THE BRANCH BENEATH THEM! IT IS AN ABOMINATION!!! THEY MUST SWING FREELY ON THE TREE!

Rule #6: Thou shalt consider thy work no less than every three ornaments placed by standing back and looking for "holes" in thy tree. Fill the wretched holes with ornaments.

Rule #7: Thou shalt decorate the WHOLE tree front and back. Place the old scratched ornaments on the back of the tree lest it be naked.

Rule #8: After the ornaments come the garland. This must be artfully draped in even "swags". Then though shalt humor thy grandmother to come "adjust" the parts she condemns as uneven.

Rule #9: Lastly, though mayest apply tinsel to thy tree. NOT IN GREAT GOBS but by no more than 5 strands at one time. Then though must be a good steward of thy tinsel being ever watchful to not pass to closely by the tree, lest you remove the tinsel causing a bald spot.

Rule #10: Thou must promise on pain of death to return on New Year's Day to dismantle thy grandmother's tree or guilt wilt follow thou all the days of thy life.

A Few More Details

We've been doing a few other things besides eat and play games! We're still taking care of Ned, the L's dog. He loves us because we are spoiling him! We bought a 5-pack of pigs' ears, and we have been doling them out to him every few days. He can't wait to go into his crate, hoping maybe it will be his lucky day! I feel like the grandparents, giving tons of junk to their grandkids. Poor Anthony!

Bob and my Dad have been dueling it out with our shower. Unfortunately our shower is winning. A few days ago, we were horrified to notice that one of our baseboards in our bedroom had mildew on it! Our shower hasn't turned off all the way for awhile now, dripping every so often, so we thought that must be the problem. Bob and Dad tried some things, and then they had to cut into the dry wall to try to figure out the problem. The problem is that the copper pipe itself leaks. Sigh. However it gets solved, it is going to be a hassle!

I am itching. All over. Somehow over the past several weeks I have developed a big rash all over my limbs. It doesn't look like bug bites, but rather like little pimples or something. It looks to me like a contact dermatitis sort of thing, but I can't imagine what it would be from. I haven't changed detergent or soap or anything, and I've never had really sensitive skin. The rash started with just a few bumps on my upper arm back before we went to Ohio in October. Then it spread to behind my armpits, and it was so itchy. I put some OTC hydrocortisone cream on that, and that helped. Then it just spread everywhere else, all over my arms and legs. Ack! But oddly enough it is not on my trunk at all. I would think that my pregnant belly would be a big candidate for any itching, but so far nothing there. I am going crazy! I have an OB appointment on Friday, so I'll mention it then. I hesitate to try to go to the primary care clinic for a regular appointment. The doctors there do not speak good English, and I never feel like I am really able to communicate with them. The lack of good military medical care here is the thing I most hate about Virginia--it makes me miss the nice hospital at Wright-Pat so much! So right now my strategy is just grin and bear it, but I am ready to scrape off my skin with a sharp potshard ala Job. Any other suggestions, LOL?

I keep forgetting to mention that Luke has his first loose tooth. Since he is rapidly approaching the ripe old age of 7, we were beginning to wonder if it was ever going to happen! He is pretty excited about it. I am glad that we got pictures taken in October with no big gap in the front though.

There, now it's almost like you've been here for our Thanksgiving break! : )

Thanksgiving Report

A few days ago, I was rereading a book, and I noticed this character description for the first time:


"She had . . . the wide-hipped, sturdy frame that Jude would imagine in a woman
required to carry and birth five children."


LOL! Well, I don't know about that, but after all the eating we've been doing lately, I look and feel like I now have that sturdy frame! We had a wonderful day on Thanksgiving with delicious food and warm family times. We've been playing tons of games--Life, Clue, Ginnykub, Power, Rummikub, Skip-Bo, etc. It's so nice when the boys are old enough to play more than Uno! : ) Grandma and Grandpa are having a nice, relaxing break from moving and all those boxes. I baked a second chocolate-pecan pie (recipe from Pam many years ago--it's really the only pie I like, and it's delicious!!) for our neighbors to say "thank you' for their help in cutting down a tree, but they left before I could deliver it. So after we polished off the first one, we dove right into that one too! Hey, why let a good pie get stale, or whatever it is that old pies get?!

This afternoon we put up our Christmas tree and the boys decorated it. I'm not usually this on top of things, but Grandma and Grandpa aren't going to put one up this year, since things are pretty chaotic there right now, and all of us are going to Texas for 2 weeks in the middle of December for my cousin's graduation from pilot training. I wanted us to be able to enjoy it for a few weeks before we go!

It was actually a big struggle for me to put up the tree. We have a very puny, pathetic "tree" that Bob brought into the marriage. We think he bought it when he was stationed in Alabama, so that would make it at least 16 years old. It is so scrawny and ugly. I really abhor it. I would love to get a big one (9 feet) with lights already on, since lights are such a huge hassle, and we are running out of room for all the boys' ornaments on our little excuse of a tree. Finally this year, some of the branches on our "tree" have started breaking off, so they are being held on with tape. Classy! But this means that it is finally showing its age, and maybe next year we will get a new tree. Maybe. I am not holding my breath! Fortunately, the little boys especially don't care what the tree looks like--they are just thrilled to see something new in the family room! And ornaments--what fun!! So they helped me recover some of my Christmas spirit!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

You Are Mashed Potatoes
Oridnary, comforting, and more than a little predictableYou're the glue that holds everyone together.
What Part of Thanksgiving Are You?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Cleaning and Clutter

Yesterday we started a good housecleaning in honor of Mom and Dad coming for Thnakdgiving. Now, they aren't really the kind of people who poke around with white gloves, looking for dirt, but I have a terrible time cleaning (not counting picking up) on a regular schedule. So when company is expected, we clean. Good thing we have company fairly frequently, LOL!

I made a long list, and the boys got to work on their part. I will say they were very diligent workers, and that their future wives should be thrilled that they can clean bathrooms, vacuum, etc. We were making great progress when Bob called from the DMV office by where he works. We needed to renew our registration on our minivan and the Pathfinder. They're registered in PA, but for a variety of reasons, Bob decided we should go ahead and register them here in VA. While he was waiting there, he realized that he didn't have the bills of sales for those cars, and he needed the numbers off of them. So he called me to have me look. Well, they weren't in the "Important Papers" or "Automobile" folders in the file cabinet, although there was a lot of stuff relating to our white Mazda, which we no longer own. I found that bill of sale, plus a long and detailed insurance correspondence relating to an accident that occured when we lived on the Academy and a man ran into our car at Burger King. So if anyone wants those details, just let me know, because I can put my fingers on them right away! But for actual papers relating to the cars we currently do own, well, that was a different story. So then I started looking in other somewhat likely places, places where we have papers that haven't gotten filed. No luck. I was getting very frustrated, and I really didn't have any more bright ideas. The last time we actually had these papers was before we moved, when we went to PA to register the cars there, so who knows where they would have ended up after the move?! I wandered around, praying for inspiration, and then I started looking through a big box of folders in the study. Most of the papers related to the morgage on this house and last year's taxes, but I did find a folder which seemed to have random papers in it, and wonder of wonders, there were both bills of sale! And nothing else even remotely important, so I'm not sure at all why those papers were in there. But praise the Lord, there they were! So we leaped into the car and drove down to Chantilly to the DMV office. We got there right as Bob was being called up to the window, so it was perfect timing. We stuck around until he was done, then we went out for pizza, then straight off to art class. It was a busy day, although not accomplishing the things on my list! We worked hard after dinner though, and we did finish everything on the list. Yay!

This little episode has given me a mission though--death to paper clutter. Beware a pregnant woman with latent nesting instincts who has a target! I have been filling bags with old papers. I just hate not knowing where things are, and it wastes so much time when you just have to randomly search for things. I do very well when it comes to not hoarding actual things--every so many weeks, I go through and throw away all broken toys, unmatched things, stuff lying around, etc. In fact, I just did this in Nathan and Luke's room while they were at AWANA on Sunday (the key to successful junk decluttering--do it while the kids are not around). They came back and were so amazed at the difference! "WOW, Mom! Thanks! This is SO clean! How did you do it?!" Yes, well, I threw away a whole ton of junk. LOL! I didn't say that of course. But now they can actually find what they are looking for, and they have more room to play, so they are happy. But I have real problems throwing away papers! I have figured out what I need though--I need someone to take all the kids for at least a week so I can dedicate myself to filing and decluttering! Any takers? LOL!

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Catching Up

Well, blogging has been rather slow of late! What has been happening?! Obviously nothing too terribly exciting. Starting yesterday, we are taking care of the L's dog (well, specifically Anthony's dog) Ned. He's a beautiful black lab, and he reminds us so much of Pascal. He is still just a big puppy, so he has a lot of energy. Caleb and Jonathan are terrified of him when he's out of his cage, but there is also a morbid fascination, and they are the first in the van when it's time to go over and let him out! Luke is somewhat scared, but braver than the little guys. Nathan really likes Ned, but Ned bowls him over with his enthusiastic greetings! Ned definitely responds better to Bob than to me--guess he's used to a man's authority, LOL! We took him for a walk this afternoon. Anthony has a great harness thing for him--it goes around his front legs, and it really seems to be effective. He still pulls some, but not too hard at all. Much better than the choke collar we had for Pascal!

In return for us taking care of Ned, Anthony is going to give us some free piano lessons, starting sometime after Christmas! This really works out perfectly because we are the proud new owners of a nice keyboard, and Nathan and Luke are interested in learning to play. I told them I could help them read music, and I know which notes on the piano to press, but I have no idea about hand placement or any technical details of actually playing the piano! And besides, shouldn't every child take piano at some point? : ) We got the keyboard at Sam's, and it seems like a nice one for the price.

I'm so excited that my parents are going to be here Tuesday for Thanksgiving! And then it will only be a few more weeks until we head down to Texas to see my cousin James receive his Air Force wings! Lots of other family will alos be down in Texas, and we'll also get to see my brother and sister-in-law's new house in Dallas! Tons of exciting things to look forward to!

And last but definitely not least, here's a happy birthday to my dearest friend in the world, Amy! Her husband got her tickets to see Riverdance on Tuesday--isn't she the lucky one! Bob took me to see that for one of our anniversaries in Colorado. It was WONDERFUL. I would love to see it again. I know it will be a special birthday present!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Latin Christmas Gift Idea

Okay, I saw this book recommended on the Well Trained Mind board--it's called Latin For All Occasions , and it looks hilarious! Just what we need to practically liven up our Latin studies! Here's one review:

This wonderful little book was presented to me many years ago after I had completed a Latin seminar. It was a wonderful gift, and I have found much use for the various phrases, and an extraordinary amount of humour that can be derived from the blandest of statements when translated into Latin. For example, the innocuous phrase 'Darn! There goes my beeper!' becomes quite funny in Latin:
Heu! Tintinnuntius meus sonat!
One has visions of Caesar fumbling through his tunic for some beeping object.
So, if you need a little Latin on the golf course (Alterum ictum faciam); on the tennis court (minime latum!), at the beach when spotting a shark (Pistrix! Pistrix!), or you just need to say Illud Latine dici non potest (you can't say that in Latin), you'll be prepared with this volume.
It even comes with a section on what to say when at the Vatican (where it might truly come in handy). For instance you might need to say 'Ubi possum potiri petasi similis isti?' when passing a cardinal or nun (translation: Where can I get a hat like that?).
So, don't waste your time on watching reruns of Insula Gilliganis or game shows such as Periculum and Rota Fortunae -- pick up this book today, and merge the worlds past and present.
Die dulci fruere. (Have a nice day.)

Seriously, I am pleased to report that Latin is going quite well here. We finished Minimus several weeks ago, and we charged right into Latin Christiana I. I have been quite pleased to see how much vocabulary the boys have retained, especially since a lot of the words from the first several lessons are the same as in Prima Latina. They also have the first conjugation down with no problems (that's the famous one--amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant). I love Latin!

Eating Out

Last night we ate dinner at TGI Fridays. We actually ate there last Tuesday as well. Tuesday is their "Kids' Day", at least at the one by the Dulles Town Center, and so kids eat free. Well, that actually turned out to not be totally true, but anyway, more on that later! You may recall that we had eaten a few Tuesday nights at Lone Star Steakhouse, since they had the same deal on Tuesdays (obviously Tuesday is the dead night for chain restaurants in the NoVA area!), but the last time we went was not a real great experience, and I cheerfully would never go back there again. We went with our friends the P's, and I ordered a steak-ke-bob, since I was getting very tired of their plain steaks. That's the problem--I was just tired of their menu. If you want something other than a big, plain hunk of grilled meat, then you are out of luck. So I ordered the ke bob, and I got a stick with 3 hunks of meat, as well as the usual onions, peppers tomatoes, etc. There was a small hunk of meat, and it was cooked just right. The medium-sized hunk was fairly raw, and the large hunk was so raw it was mooing. Of course, I had to send it back, and they butterflied the hunk, which helped the doneness issue. When they brought it back, however, it was still just a plain hunk of meat--absolutely no seasoning whatsoever. Bleh. So you can imagine my excitement when Amy P. said she thought TGI Fridays had the same deal on Tuesdays! I knew their menu was a lot more exciting--at least it had some variety! Last Tuesday night was great. I had a delicious oriental chicken salad, and Bob had a chipotle chicken thing that was also quite tasty. And we got 4 free kids meals. So last night we were expecting the same thing, but our server told us that you can only get one free kids meal per adult meal. What?! Lone Star lets you get 2 kids meals per adult entree. He said our server last week just "messed up". So technically only kids from "appropriately sized" families eat free. Ah well, I knew it was too good to last! I'll tell what does last though--onions. I had chicken fajitas (okay, but not as good as Chilis), and I burped onions all night long. I had to have a bowl of ice cream before bed to attempt to get rid of the taste! It didn't work. Anyways, the whole thing has kind of left a bad taste in my mouth (ha, ha) about eating out. It's nice to get the break, but I don't think it's worth the heartburn on a regular basis! : )

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Introductions

It has been brought to my attention that I have been remiss in making some introductions! Some of you clever readers have been wondering if in fact the "Pam" who has been commenting recently is our former next-door neighbor from Colorado Springs. Well, yes, she is, so you all win Sherlock Holmes prizes! For those of you who don't know Pam, or never even knew or cared that we lived in Colorado, then let me fill you in. We moved to Colorado Springs 2 years after we got married and right after I graduated from Cedarville. Bob worked in Cheyenne Mountain, and we bought our first house together. It was a new house in a little development in south Colorado Springs, not too far from Peterson AFB. Bill and Pam were already moved in when our hosue was done, but they wasted no time in being neighborly. Pam is a great hostess, so we had Halloween parties, St. Patrick Day parties, Cinco de Mayo parties--you get the picture! Pam is a nurse, although you will see by reading her blog that she has recently changed jobs to more of a management/development position. Pam also sells Shaklee vitamins, and she has done just about everything I have always wished I could do--learned calligraphy, cake-decorating, Irish dancing, etc. In fact, she and Bill took a big trip to Ireland this summer for their vacation, something that has always been a big dream of mine! Although we moved out of our house 6 years ago, we have still remained in contact. She's always been a good writer, so I'm sure her blog will be filled with interesting observations and commentaries on life!

Another new blog you might want to check out is that of my friend Beverly. She is also an Air Force wife and homeschooling mother, and they just moved to Nevada this summer. We met them when we first started going to Faircreek back in Ohio in September 2001. I was only a few weeks from having Caleb, and Beverly was pretty newly pregnant with their second child. Now she and Ted have Charis, who is 5, Tobin, who is 3 1/2, and Arden, who is 2. They followed us here to D.C for a year while Ted was going to a school, but they lived in Maryland, so we didn't get to see each other much. Beverly and the kids did make it over in July before they moved, and we got to talk homeschooling and curricula for several hours! We have similar homeschooling and character goals in general in common, so if you read her blog, you can see what I was doing a few years ago!

I don't really think of myself as someone who convinces people to do new things, so I am amazed that here are two people whom I have directly influenced to start blogging! Wow! Who will be next? LOL!

Early Christmas Present

Last year I posted this entry about the early Christmas present I bought myself (it was a big KitchenAid mixer, which I am still quite happy with!). This afternoon Bob and Jonathan went off to Target and WalMart to take something back, pick up pictures (of Nathan and Luke in their soccer uniforms, since we were way too cheap to do the picture deal from the team), and stuff like that. When they got home, Bob announced that he had bought me my Christmas present already and was ready to bring it in! It is a nice, big, sturdy pan that is about 12" by 16". It is technically a roaster, and it came with a nice rack, but I am also going to use it for other dishes. I have mentioned a few times that I really need something bigger than a 9"by13" pan for casseroles. We're at a point where just our family can almost finish off a pan of whatever, so I can never make casseroles if we have company over. And what will I do when the boys are in high school?! I was talking about this very subject last night after Bible study with Amy P., and Bob heard and took note. Now this is why I love him--not only does he realize that I love getting practical gifts for Christmas, birthdays, etc., he also realizes that I would rather have them immediately so I can start using them than wait to open a box under the tree! So now I am already thinking of the huge quantities of lasagna (I'll need that recipe, Ames!), enchilada casserole, chicken and broccoli casserole, etc. that I can make--enough for leftovers another night, maybe!

I am feeling better this evening--maybe my cold will just go away. I pretty much laid around all day though. I was happy to find a bag of beef barley soup in the freezer, so we had that for dinner. Here's to planning ahead and freezing meals for when you really don't feel like cooking! Since I didn't have to actually make dinner, I did feel inspired enough to make biscuits to go along with the soup. They are whole wheat biscuits, and they're pretty fool-proof. I got them from an old Taste of Home magazine many years ago, and they are big favorites here. Since my Aunt Claire often posts recipes on her blog, I thought I would follow her lead and post this easy one.

Sky-High Whole Wheat Biscuits

2 cups flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons sugar
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter
1 egg
1 cup milk (I use soymilk obviously, and it turns out great)

Combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter until crumbly. Combine egg and milk, then add to crumbly mixture, stirring just until moistened. Turn onto a floured surface; knead 10-15 times. Roll out to 1 inch thickness; cut with 2 1/2 inch biscuit butter. Place on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 450 for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.

Happy Belated Veterans' Day!

We were thinking of all the veterans in our family yesterday!

We celebrated by . . . not doing too much. Nathan made waffles for breakfast, and then Bob decided it was time to make a decision. (Pause for emphasis) Actually, it wasn't that big of a deal--here's the story. Back a few months ago, maybe in June, he saw a tool set at Target that he really liked for $100. It had a rechargeable drill, sander, flashlight, jig saw and some other kind of saw (ripsaw maybe?). He never bought it, nd then he saw the same tool set on clearance for only $70 in September! He bought it then, but he never did anything about it except carried it with him in the trunk of his car. So yesterday was the day to decide whether he was keeping it or taking it back. He needed a project to do! I have a big cabinet over my double ovens, and it is pretty unusable. It has a half shelf in the back that I have a very hard time reaching. I store all my cookie sheets, cooling racks, etc. up there, laying flat, and it is hard to get them out of there. I have wanted a way to stand them up, like my aunt has. In our last house, we had a small, narrow cabinet by the sink that didn't have a shelf, and so I used it for these pans. I miss that! Anyhow, Bob decided to make a new shelf out of plywood that would have big slits cut out so that I would have spaces to stand the pans up. He used almost all the tools in the kit, was very happy with them, and so has decided to keep them. He calls it his "early Christmas present", although "late Father's Day present" might be more accurate! My early Christmas present is having this lovely usable space for my big pans and racks, of course! Yay!

I also took a walk yesterday, but I'm not sure it was the best thing. I've been fighting off a cold for this week, but last night I could just feel my chest getting tighter and starting to hurt. So I'm not feeling all that well today--a good day for staying in and reading a book. Of course I haven't been to the library since we got back from Ohio, so maybe a good old book will have to do!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Pregnancy Woes

Well, I was going to post an entry about homeschooling, since I've read some good articles and books lately. But that is too much for me right now, and instead I will complain about the minor aches and pains of pregnancy. I seem to be coming down with a cold, so I know that's making my brain fuzzy, but boy am I crabby! My real problem is that my left leg seems to be "out of joint". Has that every happened to anyone else? It's just . . . well . . . not quite right. It hurts right at my hip, and I can't really find a comfortable position. You know when you start wishing you could be put on a rack and stretched--that sounds appealing and surely it would help!--that you are in a desperate way! I remember these various vague discomforts from other pregnancies, but it seems like I should be farther along than 20 weeks to start experiencing them. {pause for reflection} Well, now I am remembering the church Super Bowl party when I was pregnant with Jonathan. I was only a few more weeks along than I am now, and all of a sudden I could hardly walk because I guess it was my sciatic nerve that starting hurting down the back of my leg. Fortunately, that didn't last the whole rest of the time or anything, but the point is maybe it's not too early for these sorts of complaints. So now I am counting down the minutes until I put Jonathan down so I can take a nap (although I can't find a very comfortable position there either!). Maybe exercise would help, although let me just say, that is not very tempting right now. It is much more fun just to sit here and gripe. LOL!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Scary

Today we had a scary happening. Ryan, our neighbors' son, had his 6th birthday party this afternoon. It was a swimming party at the local Hampton Inn. They provide pizza, pop, a party room, and use of the pool for 4 hours, all for $200. Wow, who knew hotels did these kinds of things? Pretty soon after we got there and got Caleb and Jonathan's life jackets on, I looked up to see Bob fishing Jonathan out of the pool. He had tilted forward and gotten stuck with his face in the water, but he was right by the steps behind some other kids, so I didn't see him. Talk about that false sense of security with life jackets. It was a horrible feeling, because I always read stories like that, where some kid drowns amidst a big party, with tons of people watching, and I just can't stand pools. So I consider myself pretty aware, but boy, does it only take a second. We are praising the Lord that Bob was there and hadn't gone in to change his clothes yet (so he stepped in wearing his church clothes, although it was mainly just one shoe that got wet). Scary, scary, scary. We will never have a pool, and I can't wait until Caleb and Jonathan learn how to swim--hopefully next summer. Every day I pray for the Lord's protection over my children, and I am so thankful that He answered that prayer this afternoon.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Happy Birthday, Caleb!!

Caleb is now 4 years old! Here is my post from last year on his birthday. He is still a happy boy, with such a great smile--and strangers still always pick him to talk to and rub his head, since he is by far the most engaging! Our friends, the Mc's, weren't able to be at Bible study last night, so they came over for more cake and ice cream tonight to help us celebrate the "real" birthday. My Mom and Dad got Caleb a fun game where you try to stack plastic pizza toppings on a wobbly "Poppa" pizza maker without making the pizza fall, and all 8 of the boys had a great time playing that!

I am finding it so ironic that we had our ultrasound right before Caleb's birthday. After having 2 boys, while I was pregnant with him, I sort of thought that we would have a girl. We knew lots of families that had 2 of one gender, then 2 of the other, so I just figured we would fit the same pattern. I was . . . not exactly disappointed . . . well, maybe a little I was, at the ultrasound, when we found out he was a boy. By the time of Jonathan's ultrasound, I expected we would have all boys, and I really wanted another boy, since logistically it would be easier (room-sharing and all!), so there was no disappointment then at all (well, maybe for my mom . . . : ) But Caleb is just such a special little boy, and he's such a great addition to our family--I'm so glad he is who he is. And that reassures me that the Lord knows "who" this baby will be too, and she will also be just right for our family. Actually, my faith wavered a little bit at the soccer game today! I was talking to another mom who is due in February with her 4th child. She had 2 boys, then a girl, and this one will be a girl too (she fits the pattern I was discussing earlier!). Well, she was telling me how different it was to have a girl, and the example she brought up was that her little girl will just ask to go to Target, or if the mom asks what they should do, the girl (who is 3, I think) suggests going to the mall. Ack! I hate shopping!! But Bob reassured me that if we just never go to the mall (like we currently don't), well, then, our daughter will never think of that as an option! Whew!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Friday

Well, I am slowly becoming more accustomed to the idea of sharing my "queenship" with another girl! We have been reading Caddie Woodlawn as our read-aloud lately (and the boys are loving it--what a great book!). Nathan told me today that he hoped if it really WAS a girl, that she would be like Caddie. LOL! Well, she's always been a favorite book character of mine too, so I wouldn't complain!

Tonight we brought a cake to Bible study to celebrate Caleb's 4th birthday, which is actually tomorrow. He wanted a "King Arthur" cake (since he IS King Arthur), so I made a "sword-in-the-stone" cake. It turned out pretty well. We decorated the hilt with jellybeans and Skittles (for jewels, you know), and those were a big hit. We did take some digital pictures, and after Bible study, Anthony L. actually put all of our digital pictures on a disk, so maybe there is actually a slim chance that I will figure out how to post them on here! What a great guy!

Tomorrow is our last soccer game. I won't miss getting up early to go there on Saturdays, but the boys have really, really enjoyed the Upwards soccer program. It has been great. Bob is fighting off a head cold, so it looks like I will be taking everyone tomorrow, along with snacks for after the game. Thankfully it is supposed to be nice and warm!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Ultrasound

We had our ultrasound today, and everything looked just fine and healthy. I love seeing the baby move around in there--it makes it all so real! I had a real shock though--it looks like this baby is a girl. I didn't really believe the doctor, but she was pretty sure. I said something like, "Hmmm . . . . well, . . . that will be different." I'm still trying to wrap my head around the whole concept. A girl? What on earth will I do with a girl?! I can't even do my own hair! And I can't stand girls' fashions now! And I have run into a lot of really bratty, whiny, emotionally manipulative little girls lately, so I had actually been feeling a lot of relief that we "don't do girls". Also, I sort of LIKE being the "queen bee" with no competition around here! Hmmm. A real paradigm shift. The boys were pretty blase about it all, not showing much excitement or disappointment. But we were over at the L's house, so they weren't really that interested either--just let us get back to our playing, Mom! So now I must prepare myself for all the strangers' comments in stores about how we must be so thrilled that we FINALLY got that girl we were trying for. Umm, no. Not at all. I would have been thrilled to have another boy! And we were trying to have another BABY, not a girl. I'm sure I'll be more excited later on, but right now I'm still processing it all. Wow--a girl. Hmmm.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

A Good Book Day

Today was a good book day. At our homeschool co-op, someone who is moving had several boxes of free books, so I rooted through those and got a few good ones. Then the little boys and I went to a Salvation Army Thrift store that we noticed last night on our way to Chuck E. Cheese. I was primarily trying to find bigger clothes for Nathan, but I didn't find much. This store did not organize their clothes in any fashion whatsoever--not by size, or even by gender! So that made it hard to find anything. We wandered back to the back, where the books were. They had the smallest children's book selection I have ever seen at a thrift store, and it was mostly comprised of Babysitter Club and Goosebumps books. But I happened to spot Detectives in Togas, a book for which I have been looking for a long time. I've seen it recommended in several catalogues, and Mom told me she thought Nathan would really like it after she heard some friends reading it aloud to their kids during a visit to California. No library we've gone to has had it though, so I was thrilled to find it for $ .25!

Nathan started reading it before dinner, and after dinner he wanted to know if it was a library book. He was quite happy when I said it was ours, and his next question was how much it had cost. When I told him a quarter, he was amazed.

N: "Why would a store sell a book like this so cheap?"

Me: "Well, it's a thrift store--people donate stuff to them, and then they just try to sell the stuff for whatever they can get. People know the things in there are cheap."

N: " But this book is already so exciting! Why would anyone ever give it away?!"

Ahh, yes--we are training him well. You NEVER get rid of books! Books are our friends!

Along similar lines, my friend Christine told me something funny yesterday. We were talking while our boys were having art class. I had watched 3 of her boys before we went to Ohio because she had to take her 3rd child to the ER after he poked himself badly in the eye. Christine told me that as they were driving back home, her oldest son asked her, "Mom, why can't you teach us Latin?" LOL! There's some positive peer pressure right there . . . Come on, conjugate the verbs . . . it feels good. . . everyone's learning Latin . . . it's so cool . . . LOL!

I also had a really positive conversation with our next door neighbor about homeschooling today. I went out to check on the boys this afternoon, and Caleb was helping her sweep her driveway. I went over to see if he really was helping, and Stella and I started talking. She is a high school German teacher, and her husband is some kind of motivational speaker. They are really nice. This is his second marriage. I don't believe she has any kids, but he has I think 4, and many grandchildren, and they are both very close to the grandkids. They're a really nice couple, and they were positive about our homeschooling when we moved in and they asked about schooling the boys.

Anyhow, Stella started off by asking how I was feeling, etc., and then she moved on to how homeschooling was going. I gave pretty general answers because I never know really how interested people are in the nuts and bolts of it all, or if they are going to get really defensive about public schools or whatever. But I didn't get any of those feelings from her, and she kept asking interested questions, so I kept on talking! She asked about how we structured our day, so I went through one with her. She completely agreed with how little time it takes to get concepts across to only one child compared to a classroom full of kids. She also said that one thing that has really changed for her as she has taught over the years is her understanding of how boys learn, and she wished she had been more sympathetic to their need to move and just their different motivations and learning patterns. I thought that was interesting in light of my fairly recent post on the subject. So we had a good conversation, and she was very positive about the whole idea, even coming up with some advantages herself--"I bet you can avoid a lot of the bad socialization issues that I see", she said. Oh yes, that is a prime motivation for homeschooling! I didn't phrase it like that though. : ) It's rare to hear someone who isn't homeschooling talk about the negative socialization that goes on in schools, however, so that was a nice surprise. Hopefully we're being good ambassadors of homeschooling!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Happy Bloggiversary to Me!

My wonderful Aunt Claire pointed out to me that the one year anniversary of my blog is today! I knew it was coming up, because I remembered that one of my first posts was on Caleb's birthday, which is Nov. 5, but I couldn't remember the exact day (and never bothered to check, LOL). For all those legions of loyal fans who missed the first two posts of mine, here they are. Wow, what words of wisdom! LOL! Actually, reading back over my Halloween post from last year, nothing has changed. We are going to Chuck E. Cheese again this year with our friends, and the boys are so excited.

I have really enjoyed blogging this past year. I have felt like it has really helped my family stay closer to each other--more up on the daily things that happen to us. And I feel that for friends, it's more like I'm just chatting, bringing up little minutia that really aren't all that important in the big scheme of things, but the kind of stuff I'd tell you if we lived close and talked on the phone quite a bit. So I'm sure I'll find plenty of things to ramble on about this coming year. Thanks for reading, even all you friends who I know read but never comment directly on the blog! : )

A Small Miracle

I already told some of you this, but I am still so excited about it, I wanted to share. I told you in my last post that Caleb was still really struggling with his asthma, and that we ran out of his albuterol inhaler. A few months before we left Wright-Pat, I had gotten another prescription of it, as well as another "puffer" thing, for some reason--I think a doctor just prescribed it to us, not realizing we already had one or something. The bag with the extra puffer is in the linen closet in Caleb's bathroom, and for awhile I knew where the extra albuterol was too. But then it just kind of disappeared, and although I looked diligently, I couldn't find it. But I never really needed it, so it was mainly just something that bugged me at odd times, that I couldn't find it. Well, last night I decided to look for it again, and amazingly, I found it right away in the closet! I was so thrilled! Praise the Lord! So now I do not have to start my day tomorrow calling for a doctor appointment! I know it was the Lord, because I have looked in that closet several times before, and I am a careful "looker", but I couldn't find it. I felt like the woman in Luke 15 who looked through her whole house for the missing coin, and then threw a party for all her friends when she found it!

This doesn't really relate to the above anecdote, but I was reminded of it, since I was thinking about doctors. There was a bill waiting for me when we got back, from a lab company. They did the 5 standard prenatal blood tests, as well as the pap smear I had done at my first OB appointment. The grand total for these 6 tests? A whopping $952. WOW! They also don't automatically bill your insurance, so I have to resubmit the bill with all my insurance info on it. I hope Tricare covers it, although I am not holding my breath. Although I gripe about Tricare quite frequently, I will say that it is a very nice thing, when dealing with military medicine, to not be surprised by bills like this appearing in your mailbox! Who knew blood tests were so darn expensive?!!