Friday, September 30, 2005

Queen of the Realm, Mistress of the Mailbox

So I went out this afternoon to check the mail. I was also talking to Bob on my cell, but we hung up as I got out there. As I was getting the mail, a neighbor I haven't met yet came up our street walking her 2 labs. She waved and came over to talk.

Neighbor: "Hi, I'm Jean, and you must be a queen or princess or something."

Yes, I was wearing a little plastic tiara left over from our medieval party. Caleb likes to put it on me, reminding me that I am the queen, and He is King Arthur. It's so light that I frequently completely forget it is there, until I catch a glance at myself in the bathroom mirror. I didn't go potty before checking the mail however, so I feel like a complete dork.

Me: "Ha, ha, yes, my son likes me to wear this, ha, ha . . ."

Jean turns out to be quite talkative, so we chat for a few minutes. She brings up that she walks with another neighbor, Tracy, who I do know, and Tracy has told her that I homeschool. She asks, "How is that working out for you?" in a serious, concerned voice. I tell her that things are just fine, we're really enjoying it, blah, blah. She tells me that her step-daughter was homeschooled all the way through high school, and the only thing she (Jean) really worried about was the socialization issue. I didn't really say anything about that, but it certainly isn't my big concern. Anyhow, she went on to reassure me that the girl WAS able to get into college, although she had wanted to go to Virginia Tech, in their architecture program, but she only got accepted into Penn State's program. But she kept saying that she wasn't saying that to discourage me! LOL! I told her we hadn't thought that far ahead yet.

After she left, I realized that she will probably go tell Tracy that I certainly am one of those stereotypical nutty homeschoolers, one who goes around thinking she's the queen! Maybe she was worried about MY socialization! LOL!

In other mail-related news, we got the waiver letter today. And in it, they have picked my doctor for me and sent a letter to him. How nice. No, it was not who I picked. Grrr. So now we will have to call Tricare on Monday (after calling my choice of doctor to make sure she is still accepting Tricare patients and has room for me) to see if they will change. Then Tricare will have to send out more letters. I'm just so tired of this hassle!!! How utterly bureaucratic. How utterly frustrating that they would just assign me a civilian doctor too! I should definitely not be surprised, but I am tired of it. I will wave my royal scepter and send them all away. . .

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

A Day in the Life of . . . Us

Yesterday someone on the Well-Trained Mind boards asked if anyone had posted a typical day lately. I haven't for awhile, but I always enjoy reading about others' days. When I first started homeschooling, some books I really enjoyed reading were Homeschooling: A Patchwork of Days, and Homeschool Open House both by Nancy Lande. In both books, she has interviews with lots of families, and each family keeps a diary during a normal day. It was so interesting to see how many variations there are for homeschooling, and it gave me a lot of confidence. So I decided to log today and then blog about it. Just for the record, Nathan is 8, Luke is 6, Caleb is almost 4, Jonathan is 2, and I'm 14 weeks pregnant. Here's our day:

8:15 Jonathan wakes up. I get up and get him up and dressed. I put him in Nathan and Luke's room where they are reading. He climbs in bed with Luke, who is reading a book on spiders. Nathan is reading D'Aulaire's Greek Myths, which I just bought used yesterday from a lady at co-op. Nathan is thrilled because we used to get it out of the library in Ohio, but they don't have it at this library. I get in the shower.

8:45 Luke and Jonathan are eating breakfast. I go out to get the paper and discover that it is not there. Hmm, this is a bad omen. I love the Washington Times! Maybe Bob took it. I go back in and eat.

9:00 Nathan finally comes down to eat, and Luke goes up to dress. I check email.

9:30 I call the paper to complain, then get Caleb up, dressed, and eating.

9:35 We start school. First I read a chapter in The Child's Story Bible (Vos), then we read a chapter in Wisdom and the Millers. Then we locate and read about the next country in Operation World. Today our country is Finland. We pray for Finland, for our country, and for our day. While we are doing all this, Jonathan looks at some books on his own for awhile, but then he and Caleb start wrestling, causing no end of distractions. I banish them to the playroom, which is really our formal living room. Since we have no formal furniture, it houses an impressive collection of Little People, Duplos, dress-up stuff, and other miscellaneous toys.

10:00 We start our regular subjects on the couch together, and the order depends on what strikes my fancy. Today we start with spelling by reviewing orally the words. This year both Nathan and Luke are doing Bob Jones Spelling 2, since Nathan is a weak speller, and Luke is a stronger one. Hey, another subject to combine! It's worked well for us. While Nathan does a spelling page, I do First Language Lessons with Luke. Then he does spelling while I do Rod and Staff English 3 with Nathan orally, but I assign him some sentences to do later. Then we do Latin all together. We're almost done with Minimus, which was our fun summer break. In a few weeks, we'll start into Latin Christiana 1. The boys have really enjoyed Minimus, although I don't think they are getting all that much grammer out of it. Amazingly, Caleb and Jonathan are still playing happily in the playroom. Do they know that today I am writing this all down? LOL!

10:45 I take a break to deal with a poopy diaper.

10:50 We finish Latin, then do some Mental Math and flashcards.

11:00 We move into our study, where the boys each have a little desk. They do handwriting, Explode the Code, and grammer sentences (Nathan) and copywork (Luke) by themselves. I go over each boy's math lesson with them during this time. Nathan is almost done with Saxon 3, and Luke is halfway through Saxon 2. Caleb and Jonathan want to "do math" too, so I give them some worksheets to do. Caleb likes to trace, practice his numbers, color, etc. Jonathan scribbles diligently (with his left hand, woo-hoo!). I help where needed and also go online to check the WTM message boards and read blogs.

12:15 I start lunch. Today I decide we will have turkey hot dogs in crescent rolls. This is a special treat, so the announcement is greeted with much excitement. Luke has finished his work, so he is playing with Caleb and Jonathan, while Nathan keeps on. Math is what takes Nathan a long time, and it is simply because he dawdles.

12:45 We eat lunch--hot dogs, carrot sticks, and pears. Nathan has a "100 sheet" of math facts to complete still. This is when I usually read the paper, so I am missing that. Instead I use my time wisely and organize my commissary list for tomorrow so that hopefully I won't forget anything and we will be in and out in a resonable amount of time! We listen to Classical 103.5 , our classical music station over lunch. Hmm, they are playing a familiar piece, but none of us can quite place it. I guess a Beethoven symphony. We also have a long conversation about gambling, of all things, specifically betting on horse races, but it leads to discussion of casinos as well.

1:30 We're finished with lunch (finally!). Nathan does his 100 sheet, while I look up the playlist for the radio station--yes, Beethoven's 7th Symphony! I was right!

1:45 We work on making a paragraph out of facts we have collected on box turtles. We saw one in our yard a few weeks ago, so we got some books out of the library to do some research.

2:10 We read Story of the World 2 about Good Queen Bess. We are almost done with this book, and then we'll start volume 3. We don't do a narration or mapwork today, although the boys do answer the review questions. When I last went to the library, I got out some books on her, so the boys were already pretty familiar with her story.

3:00 I put Jonathan down and collapse on the couch for a nap myself. The boys play Parcheesi on the the computer. A year ago, I found a "board games" CD at TJMaxx for $2.00, and it's been a big hit. It has games like chess, checkers, backgammon, Connect 4, Pente, and Dominoes, and it's nice for them to be able to play the computer when they can't find anyone else to compete with!

4:00 I wake up and start thinking about dinner. Jonathan doesn't usually wake up until 5:00, so I have time to play with Caleb, and often I read to the boys too, or they go outside to play. Bob usually gets home around 5:30, we eat dinner, and then after dinner we like to play games as a family or read or just play. Wednesdays are our longest day of school--usually we are done by lunchtime, unless someone hasn't finished their work. Monday afternoons the boys have art class, Tuesdays we have co-op until 12:30 and we don't do any school after we get back. Thursdays after lunch we usually run errands (tomorrow we're going to the commissary), and we try not to plan stuff for Friday afternoon either. We're in a good routine now, but I wonder what will happen when I have the baby, and also next year when I need to do more with Caleb! Also, writing everything seems much "quieter" than our actual day. In reality, there are lots of interruptions as well as some squabbles that break out. There can be whining as well, although today was a good day. Monday, however, was not!

Thanks for visiting us! Tomorrow will be more of the same, I'm sure. I love seeing the boys learn, and even though it can be tiring, I wouldn't change things. I feel very blessed that I am able to spend all this time with the boys, working on their characters as well as developing their minds.

Waiver Update

We still haven't gotten our official approval letter, so Bob called this morning to see what was up. It turns out this is a multi-step process filled with extra people, so we are still a little ways away from actually getting the letter. The first step was to get "Nora" and the lady Colonel to sign off on the request, which they did. Then they send it up to "Betty", who in turn sends it off to Tricare. Betty sent the request off last week, and Tricare has received it on Thursday, the 22nd. Now they have 7-10 business days to send off the official letter, which they have not yet done (Bob talked to them). They may get it out by Friday, or it may be Monday--who knows? Anyhow, we should have the letter by the end of NEXT week, at which point I will be able to call and make my first appointment. By that time I will be almost 16 weeks along, so at this point I am just hoping to be seen before 20 weeks. Whenever I read about people wanting government health care, I just laugh hysterically. They have no idea what they are wishing for!

Monday, September 26, 2005

A Mysterious Odor . . .

Our minivan smells. Badly. I noticed a whiff of something yesterday, but I didn't think much of it. This afternoon as we were geting ready to go to art class, Nathan and Luke actually came back inside the house while I was putting my shoes on to tell me, "The van stinks." And they were correct. It smells sort of like something got wet and moldy. Or like someone left a banana peel in the car for a few days. Not like something crawled up in the engine or died.

After we dropped Nathan and Luke off, we came back home and I parked on the driveway, determined to get to the bottom of this smell. My nose has a reputation for great smelling abilities, and nothing motivates me to get moving like a nasty smell! I took everything out. I threw away a brown paper sack full of trash, but it was all paper and broken toys--no banana peels! I moved seats and floor mats. I vacuumed the whole van! I am sure that all the crumbs who thought they had found a comfortable and safe place to retire where they would never be touched were SHOCKED to find themselves getting vacuumed! I vacuumed up tons of crumbs, but they were all of the teddy graham/pretzel variety, with a few raisins thrown in for good measure. Also lots of sand. No banana peels or forgotten dirty diapers lurking anywhere. So everything went back in. Our van has never looked better and smelled worse, LOL! I did leave the windows down when I pulled into the garage. Maybe all that "airing" will cure the problem. I can dream anyways!

Blueberry Kuchen

Here is the recipe for the blueberry cake I made for Bible study Friday night. It is from the May/June 98 issue of Quick Cooking, on page 10. Eat lots of those good healthy blueberries! Even Mel could have this, since there's no soy or anything in it! : )

Blueberry Kuchen

1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 salt
1 1/2 tsp. grated lemon peel (I used 1 tsp. lemon juice, since lemon peel has the same texture as coconut to me so I never use it)
2/3 c. milk
1/4 c. butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. fresh or frozen blueberries

Topping

3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. butter, melted

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, nutmeg, salt and lemon peel (if using that--add juice, if using that, with the wet ingredients). Add milk, butter, egg, vanilla (and lemon juice), Beat for 2 minutes or until well blended. Pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Sprinkle with blueberries. In a separate small bowl, combine sugar and flour. Add melted butter and toss with a fork until crumbly. Sprinkle over blueberries. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes or until lightly browned.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Not Much to Say Today . . .

. . . but that doesn't stop me from writing! The house is very messy. I don't understand this--it was so clean on Thursday. Sigh. And I am still tired. I keep thinking I will get over that part of pregnancy, but so far no go. We also haven't received our official waiver letter, so I still don't know when I'll actually get to see someone. Bob will call on Monday.

We brought dessert for Bible study on Friday. Nathan made rice krispie treats, and I tried a new recipe from an old Quick Cooking for blueberry kutchen. So we brought 2 9x13 pans of dessert, and both pans were compeltely cleaned out by the time we left! The blueberry kutchen was quite good and very easy--I will have to make that again.

Today the boys had another soccer game. Bob took all the boys while I went to 2 big children's consignment sales that were happening around here. I was specifically looking for some new maternity pants and shorts. In August, on a whim, I bought a pair of khaki maternity shorts from Target that have the new matenrity waistline--the elastic goes under the belly. Oh. my. goodness. They are so comfortable, I would wear them all the time if I could! They are SO much comfortable that the old kind that go over your entire tummy! So now I want to get some jeans, etc. that are like that, so I was hoping these sales would have that. I didn't find anything though. : ( Anything "new" like that was the total wrong size. I am really missing "Once Upon A Child", the consignment store back in Ohio. They have a big selection of used maternity stuff, and I'm sure I would be able to find something there. But I did find a coonskin hat for $1.00 at one of the sales, so the morning wasn't a total loss!

After the boys were done, we went out to Cici's pizza with the L's. We ate a lot (too much) and had a good time. Then Bob and Ed went suit shopping. Bob last bought suits I think the year we got married, so it was high time for a new one! He found a nice charcoal one, which is getting altered and what ever they do before you can take it home. Now he will look like a real professional realtor!

My big accomplishment of the weekend is that I finally made a scrapbook for Jonathan. This has been one of those little things nagging me to pieces: "What if I suddenly die and Jonathan has no scrapbook to remember me by? How will he know I loved him?!" Those crazy pregnancy hormones! Anyhow, I finally got his done, and I am feeling pretty darn proud. Now I need to just do last year's pages for the rest of the boys, as well as scrap the entire time we've been living here in Virginia. So I guess maybe I shouldn't feel so much satisfaction, considering I am still very far behind, LOL! I think it will be my goal to catch up by the time the baby is born, since I know I won't do anything after that happens! Who cares about housework?! Well *sigh* I guess that's not really feasible. I'm off to help with baths!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

More Good News

A few weeks ago, I posted an entry about the science fair that I am working on, and how concerned I was that it was going to flop in a big way. Well, this afternoon Katrina, the fair director, called with what she considered bad news. One lady on our committee is moving to Germany suddenly, and another man just said he had to give it up because his job was too busy. "Wow, nothing like clear direction!" was my first thought! She said that she felt like throwing in the towel, and I said I thought it would be a good idea to drop the whole thing for this year because if we weren't getting good community support during the planning stages, then how could we expect to get good support and participation for the actual fair?! She said she felt bad about wasting all this time and effort on it, but I told her that we would REALLY feel bad if we kept going (and there are only about 4 of us left at this point!), and then there only ended up being 10 kids or so! I also said that she shouldn't consider our time wasted--we did a lot of legwork, and maybe in a few years, someone else will come along who has this vision as well. Then we can try again. For me, I just feel so relieved! What a load off my shoulders! So now my February and March are open again--I'm hoping we can take a quick trip back to Ohio mid-February to see Mom and Dad's new house and for me to visit Amy, who I am missing dreadfully. Then I can be free to have a baby anytime in March! Thank you, Lord, for clear direction!

Food Thoughts

The last few posts from my brother have all been about the restaurants he was planning on eating at when he went back to Sacramento to visit. They made me hungry. So now I am going to return the favor and talk about our planned menu for the upcoming week. Today I've been doing a lot of cooking--I browned over 7 pounds of ground beef, putting it in bags in the freezer. I'm also cooking some chicken breasts to cut up. Some of those will go into the chicken enchilada casserole we're having tonight, along with the leftover rice from Monday's tangy pineapple chicken. The rest of the chicken will be put in a freezer bag for a casserole or soup to be named later. I also took out a pork tenderloin to thaw, and we'll probably have my easy teriyaki/mustard glazed pork tenderloin on Saturday with wild rice. I bought a big bag of meatballs awhile back at Sams, so I'm going to put those in the crockpot on Friday with a great, easy sauce that Michele S. had at her open house back in August. The boys all loved her meatballs, so we'll try them here over egg noodles. What is driving my specific menu choices is that I need to defrost my garage freezer before it gets cold, and to do that, I need to make it a lot emptier! So I also see beef barley soup in our future, to use up the chuck roast out there, as well as a beef and broccoli stir-fry for the top round. There's a ham taking up an unwieldy space, so that will certainly be eaten in the next week or so as well.

I also think I need to make some room in our kitchen freezer so I can put some stuff in there while I'm defrosting. Two things that are taking up a lot of room in here are a box of fudgsicles and a box of ice cream sandwiches. Being the sacrificial wife and mother that I am, as well as being one of the few persons in the house that is not either lactose-intolerant or allergic to dairy, it falls upon me to clean those items up. I go willingly--I must do my duty!! I'll try not to complain. : )

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A God Thing

Yesterday the boys had their first art lesson, and they had a great time. It's a class with 9 boys and 1 girl, which I think intimidated the teacher a bit at first, but the boys all very pretty focused, and Nathan said he couldn't wait until it was Monday again, so that must mean it was fun! While they were downstairs, some of us moms visited. I was telling Christine about our waiver approval and about how I don't know which civilian OB to pick now. There are only 4 of them in our area that are covered by Tricare (2 in the same practice), but I don't know of anyone who has used any of them, and it's hard to just pick a name off a list without knowing anything about them at all. SO she recommended I talk to Diana A. Diana was in our co-op last year, but her kids have all graduated form there now, and she is back to work as an OB doctor. I thought that was a good idea, but when I got home, I realized that since I don't still have last year's roster, I don't have her phone number or anything. Today is co-op day, so I figured I'd just ask someone there if they had her number. But when I walked in, there she was! She had just come back today because it was her day off, and she wanted to catch up with old friends! Wow! So I had an opportunity to ask her in person what she thought about these doctors. I told her the first man's name, actually the man and woman team, and she said that while he was a great doctor, his personality wasn't really like hers, so she would never choose him for herself. She sort of searched around for a word, then described him as "controlling". LOL, he used to be an Air Force doctor, getting out as a major--I had googled him yesterday and found his bio! So that description didn't totally surprise me! But I was glad to rule him out--it's one thing if that is who you happen to get, but I can't see choosing someone like that deliberately! So I went on down my list. Diana had not heard of the next guy, but when I mentioned the last name, a female, she perked right up! "Our office covers for her and is right next door! She is a great person! And if you go into labor while I'm on call, I could deliver you!" Okay, I'm sold! Thank you Lord for real direction! So now I'm just praying that her office will still be taking Tricare and accepting new patients--we're just waiting to get that letter in hand, and then I'll call!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Getting to Know Me

I've been tagged by my Aunt Claire, otherwise known as Pilotmom .

5 things I plan to do before I die:

1. Visit England and Ireland
2. Learn Latin (I'm well on my way!)
3. Live in a nice commune in Colorado with my parents, Amy and Jason, the L's, Aunt Claire and Uncle Jim, Nana, Dan and Melinda, etc.--oh wait--that's what I want to do AFTER I die, in heaven! LOL!
4. Climb Mt. Everest (Just kidding! That would never be a dream of mine--I don't dream of doing anything dangerous!! But this exercise does highlight a problem of mine, which is to say that I really have no big dreams. I have actually talked to Bob about this, so I have already recognized it. I guess I am pretty content to live in the "here and now", and I don't like to set myself up to be disappointed.)

5 things I can do:

1. Cook
2. Read very quickly
3. Have babies (LOL!)
4. Plan trips
5. Remember where minutiae are in our house, such as assorted shoes, specific lego pieces, game pieces, etc.

5 things I cannot do:

1. Sing
2. Play chess or checkers (much to the disappointment of the boys)
3. Waterski AND downhill ski
4. Eat coconut
5. Vote Democratic (LOL!)

5 things that attract me to the opposite sex: (Bob in this case)

1. His broad shoulders
2. His sense of humor
3. How he got along with my best friend, Amy : )
4. How well we worked together
5. How he made me more out-going and sure of myself

5 things I say most often:

1. BOYS!!!!!!!
2. Stop touching each other!
3. Please sit down and listen! (Said primarily during school time)
4. I love you
5. Yes, 4 boys--we're very blessed. (Said primarily at stores)

5 Celebrity crushes: Well, no celebrity crushes here either, just like my aunt, so I will also do celebrities I would like to meet.

1. President Bush
2. Mrs. Bush
3. Susan Wise Bauer (author of The Well-Trained Mind)
4. Joni Ericson Tada
5. Umm, I'm drawing a blank, at least on current people. I'm not one to read "People" or anything like that and pine to meet celebrities who are full of themselves. I'm sure there are other famous people I would like to meet, but I just can't think of any right now. Maybe I'll update this later, if I think of anyone!

And I never tag anyone, but if anyone would like to do this, please feel free!


Weird Thing That Relaxes Claire #1,255

I've been thinking about things that bring me joy and relax me lately, after reading a discussion about that on the Well-Trained Mind boards. Most of my things involve me being by myself in a quiet place--reading, doing a crossword puzzle, doing a jigsaw puzzle, (taking a nap while pregnant), etc. Last night I thought of another one--arranging books on bookshelves. I LOVE arranging books. I get happy just thinking about it! When we got the 3 new double bookshelves in our study and the one on our family room, I was in heaven! I've been thinking for awhile of moving a shorter bookcase that was in our living room up to the hallways upstairs so there would be a better place for books upstairs than the small bookshelf in the corner of Nathan and Luke's room. So last night Bob and I moved it up, and I got to spend a very happy hour deciding what books to put on it and organizing them on the shelves--ahh, what joy!

One time, back in Colorado when we just had Nathan, I went over and watched the L's 3 children while Elizabeth had Amanda. Wow, it is so weird to think of that because I was watching a total of 4 kids that day, and it seemed like so many, although they were all great and very well-behaved! LOL! Anyway, back to the story--the L's had just moved into their house about a month before, so they had a whole ton of books just stacked up randomly on this really long ledge in their basement that they had not yet gotten around to doing anything with. Since everyone played so well, I was able to organzine the books by categories, stacking and ordering them in nice arrangements. It was so fun!

Bob said I should be a librarian, but that's not really it either--I don't like just simply organizing by alphabetical order by the Dewey Decimal system. I like the books to LOOK nice and ordered too. Unfortunately, there is not a market for this kind of skill, so I will not be able to make my fortune with my "hobby"! I guess this means I will have to continue buying books for us so I can just relax by arranging our own books. LOL!

An Answer to Prayer!

Bob called early this morning to say that our waiver request has been approved!! So now we can see someone off-base and close to home! The waiting's not over yet, however--we should receive a letter in about a week giving official approval or something. THEN I can try to find someone. Ahh, what's one more week? It's actually been kind of nice, not worrying about all the first trimester appointments. In military hospitals, they always make pregnant women go to these cheesy first-trimester "pregnancy orientations" where they make you fill out lots of intrusive questionnaires about your parenting styles, marital relationship, food choices, etc. I make a game of it--answer the questions in the most politically correct way possible--sort of like remembering stuff about evolution for a test but not believing it. They also give patronizing information about pregnancy ("Did you know that eating broccoli is another way to get calcium? Make sure you get plenty of rest." etc.) The worst thing is they require you to go no matter how many pregnancies you have had. I guess there is no other way for them to get their nosy paperwork. BUT I missed all that with this pregnancy! Yay!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Caleb's Special Day

Today Nathan and Luke had another soccer game. Caleb slept late (validating my puffer theory because I didn't give him his albuterol last night), so I stayed home with him while Bob took the other boys to the game. I got a lot done today, but I am sure Caleb thinks I am quite boring and will never choose to stay home with me all by himself again! LOL! I did 3 loads of laundry, went through a stack of papers in the study, and in my biggest feat, I went through Jonathan's closets and drawers, organizing his tub of too-small clothes, getting them ready to go down in the basement. Wow, when will the excitement end!! Caleb did fine playing by himself, and he's a lot of fun to have around, chattering away. Nathan and Luke are in a big chess phase right now, so there are chess sets upstairs as well as on the main floor. Caleb played with both sets sort of like I would play with them, since I don't know how to play at all--he had them in patterns, chasing each other, etc. It was cute. He also played our Tonka Joe computer game (a gift many years ago from Uncle Dan to Nathan that is STILL getting much use today!), and he didn't have to let anyone else have a turn! I know he was thrilled about that! Everyone ended up staying to watch Jessica L's game, then they went out to lunch at the Buffalo Wing Factory with the L's, so they ended up being gone a significant period of time. I let him have a few special treats so he will hopefully not be too jealous of Nathan and Luke and all their time with the L's! He had a piece of gum earlier, which is pretty rare, and now for a snack he is having some of those gummy fruit snacks AND 3 Starbursts. Pretty special, I know! LOL! I did ask him if he wanted me to read to him, but he chose to help me go through Jonathan's clothes, for some reason. It must have sounded fun! The boys are on their way home now, and he is pretty excited. He's definitely not used to being by himself without even Jonathan around, so this is probably good for him.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Rough Week

Whew, I'm glad it's Friday! The boys have just all been on edge this week. Literally, it's something in the air! Caleb's asthma is always really bad in September, so I've been having to give him his albuterol "puffer". When he takes this, he is just so emotionally fragile, and he also doesn't sleep as late as he normally does. Nathan also has seasonal allergies, although nothing like Caleb's. Luke has no excuse, I guess, but he has really been fragile too--maybe it's just contagious! There's been a lot of bickering that doesn't usually happen, and Luke actually burst into tears during school on Wednesday when I told him that he was going to have to do a better job writing his spelling words out. To be honest, they looked like those "word verification" things--the letters were all jumbled on top of each other. VERY sloppy, and not like he usually writes, but he cried about it for the rest of the morning. Good grief! And today he did poorly on his spelling test, which is also very unlike him, and which also upset him greatly. Sigh. I felt like I was dealing with an emotional, pregnant woman! LOL! So I really don't know why this week was so hard for him, except maybe that everyone else was just so grumpy that he felt he needed to do something to be included! I'm just glad the week is over, and next week will be a fresh start. I'm thinking we might even do a field trip next week, just for a nice change. I read about the Potomac Overlook Regional Park in the paper a little while ago, and it looks like a very interesting place. It looks like it has a nice nature center with some rescued birds of prey, lots of taxidermy exhibits, and even a glass-sided bee hive so you can see what goes on inside a hive. Since the weather has been so beautiful, we should definitely take advantage of it!

As an update to our prenatal saga, Bob just called. We went out to lunch today with him and another co-worker to celebrate their passing of the fitness run (praise the Lord again!). Of course, we went to an all-you-can-eat pizza place, so maybe that was a wash, LOL! But while he was gone, Tricare (the office that determines the waivers) called and left a message. The message didn't actually say anything, just to call back, so he did. Well, the lady who called had just left, and no one else was willing to find the paper saying whether or not the waiver was denied. So we don't know anything more now, but hopefully we should know something on Monday. I should just be thankful the lady didn't leave a nasty rejection message on Bob's machine!

And this last note is for Dy--I just saw your comment about the Trailblazer books. It's probably too late for you now, but I wanted to tell you that Nathan really loves them. They are exciting and interesting, and he is certainly learning about great Christians who don't really get a lot of press nowadays! His favorite was something about a Drummer Boy--I can't remember the exact title--but the Christian character was Florence Nightengale. The reason he liked it so much though was because it takes place during the Crimean War and so involves a lot of battle scenes. He's also read about John Bunyan, the Judsons, John Wesley, and Samuel Morris. If I ever found any of these books used, I would snatch them up!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Curly Girl

Last night we went out to eat at the lone Star Steakhouse again. They keep sending us coupons, and it's free for all the boys on Tuesdays--we can't lose! We all ate for $15.38 last night (not including tip, of course), which I think is pretty darn good. ANyhow, after we were done, I didn't really want to go home yet, so we moseyed across the street to Borders. I have been trying to get this certain book out of our library for the last several weeks, but it is never in. Our library has the absolutely weirdest systerm--you can only check books out for 2 weeks, and you can only renew them once. BUT--there are no late fees, and so basically you can keep books out as long as you want, as long as you don't need to get anything new. You have to turn in your overdue books before you can check more books out. Sometimes I like the system--hey, no fines! But it makes it hard to plan for books because when you look online and it says that a book is due on say, Sept. 1, well, it could come back in anytime or no time--could be months later! So I've been looking for the book Curly Girl by Lorraine Massey, which has been discussed a lot recently on the Well-Trained Mind boards. Finally last night at Borders I was able to look through the book, and yes, I am very interested! She describes my hair perfectly (she talks about 3 types of girls for non-African-American hair--Corkscrew, Botticelli, and Wavy)--I have Botticelli curls and a bad hair cut right now. She also described accurately how I always feel coming out of haircuts. I always tell they stylist what I want, then they wet it all down, cut it, and it never turns out how I am imagining. My last haircut was very bad. I went in July and told her I was trying to grow the layers out. She proceeded to cut even more layers very short! Oh well. Massey has some very radical ideas for taking care of curly hair, such as no shampoo. Yes. None at all. Just conditioner. That is very hard for me to even contemplate, so I am just cutting down on the amount of shampoo I use. Maybe I will eventually become very brave and do without; we'll see. She also says never (or at least rarely) use a hairdryer, and then always with a diffuser, which I don't own. Today I air-dryed, and I look like I placed a mop over my head--not that attractive. She says it will take 2-3 weeks to see improvements, so I guess I should just keep on. Also, it will get better as my hair grows out, I am sure. I do think I will purchase the book at some point, however. It really is the first thing I have ever seen that gives specific ideas for taking care of curly hair. I am like a lot of the people she quotes in the book--I have never been very comfortable with my hair, it is not tidy-looking or polished on its own, which always bugs me, and I would much rather have straight hair, or at least hair without the wild cowlicks, especially at my bang-line. But maybe under her regimen I could at least learn to like my hair and it would look like nice long curls. And people with nice straight hair that lies where it should after a haircut, don't comment saying you have always wished you had curly hair--no, you don't! It is a real pain and a burden! That is another reason why I am glad I have all boys--no curls to deal with, and since I keep their hair so short, I'll never even have to know if they do have curls.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Henty, Heroes, and "The West's Last Chance"

The Washington Times started a 3-part article series today entitled "The West's Last Chance". Today's article is called "An Islamist Threat Like the Nazis" , and it starts out "The threat of the radical Islamists taking over Europe is every bit as great to the United States as was the threat of the Nazis taking over Europe in the 1940's." The article goes on to detail the threat and discuss the threatened survival instinct of a modern Europe which has fallen victim to multiculturalism , political correctness, and a deep self-loathing. Ironically, Mark Steyn has an opinion column on a very similar topic. "For example, a recent poll found more than 60% of British Muslims want to live under sharia in the United Kingdom. That's a "moderate" westernized Muslim: He wants stoning for adultery in Liverpool, but he's a "moderate" because it's not such a priority he's prepared to fly a plane into a skyscraper." So, what does this have to do with Henty, you may ask? Well, here's what I've been thinking about. His characters are always true heroes--they put their duty before themselves, they are ready to sacrifice for their cause, they are chivalrous and noble, and they are prepared to do whatever it takes, however long it takes to obtain their goal. I don't think America and Europe are encouraging parents to raise men like that anymore, and frankly, if Europe were to be taken over by Muslims, I doubt many people there would have the fortitude to fight back in what would be a very bloody, long war. (What--even possibly longer and bloodier than the "War on Terror"? Yes.) Henty's books detail struggles for independence that last decades--Scotland's struggle to free herself is a good example. And there were many times when the people just didn't seem to have any spark left in them, but there were still good, brave men like William Wallace and Robert the Bruce who inspired them, even after terrible retributions from England at their audacity to strike against the powers that be. As a mom to all boys, this is why I want my boys to have a good knowledge of history and to read books like ones by Henty: I want to raise boys who can be heroes like that if and when the time comes. It's hard to find those kind of men talked about in the mainstream media, although sometimes they're mentioned, so you know they do exist in these times. Still, I can get pretty easily discouraged when I think about the world and the direction it's heading. That's a good time to pick up a Henty book and inspire my boys to be better men than the world calls for--true examples of brave, godly men like Joshua and David.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Paradise--Our Clean Garage

Yesterday we cleaned our garage. It has been so hot this summer that we hardly set foot in the garage except to get into the minivan, so it was umm . . . crowded . . . with all the junk we had just kind of tossed around in there. Well, no more! It is as clean as a whistle! In fact, if it weren't for the fact that we have one of the world's largest collections of boys' bikes and other outdoor ride-on type toys, Bob could probably fit his car in there too, even though it really is a SMALL 2 car garage. We were so absolutely spoiled by the enormous 3 car garage we had in Ohio. Sigh. No looking back and painting pictures of Egypt, as the Sarah Groves song goes! : ) Yesterday after we were done, I was sitting in our newly clean and organized garage, and I realized that I would rather sit out there than be inside, where it is definitely NOT clean and organized! Maybe I can just move my rocking chair out there.

In other news, today the boys start AWANA again. We have gone back and forth about this. Our church is too small, so they don't offer programs like that. Last year we did AWANA at the church where the L's go and where we have our homeschool co-op. It was just fine, but they have a small facility for the numbers of people attending, so they have a few odd things. First, only 4 year olds can be Cubbies, so Caleb would have had to wait another year to start. Second, only Cubbies and Sparks are at the same time --the Truth-in-Training group (where Nathan is this year) is later on Sunday afternoons, so that would really take up our entire Sunday together time. Luke would be gone 4:00-6:00, and then Nathan would be gone 6:00-8:00! That just sounds crazy and stressful. So we decided (this afternoon, about 1 hour before it started, LOL!) to try AWANA at Christian Fellowship Church in Ashburn. This is where the boys are doing their Upwards soccer program, so we're hoping they see some familiar faces. Our friends the P's who are also in our OCF Bible study and go to our church send their girls there for AWANA, so there will at least be 2 familiar faces! Luke was not real excited about trying something different, so we'll see how it goes. Nathan thought we should try it so Caleb could go--what a sweet big brother! I was ready to just not do it at all this year, but the boys do really enjoy it, and I'm not very disciplined otherwise about having them memorize Bible verses, so it does fill an important place for us.

Friday, September 09, 2005

In Freedom's Cause

Nathan and I have been reading In Freedom's Cause by G.A. Henty, which is the story of Scotland's struggle for independence from England. We started it as a read-aloud, but then Nathan wanted to continue on, so he just kept on reading. He kept telling me how exciting it was (in great detail, following me around the house to ddescribe various battles and close calls), which convinced me to finish it, so I am working towards that now. I told Nathan that this was really personal stuff, since we have Scottish ancestors on my mom's side. Imagine my horror when we read that Sir William Wallace was betrayed into the hands of the English by a Sir John Menteith! "Several Scotchmen took part in this base act, the principal being Sir John Menteith." I believe that my mom's maiden name is an Americanized adaptation of "Menteith", so this villian could very well be a distant relative! Ah well, as Anne of Green Gables might say, it does seem a bit romantic to have such a blackguard away back in the family tree. Speaking of Anne, we have been listening to the Focus on the Family Radio Theatre version of the book in the car and really enjoying it, even the boys. Whenever Anne says she is in the "depths of dispair" or something like that, Luke is always so surprised: "What?! Again?!" LOL! You can tell he has not had very much experience with girls of the sort as Anne is, so this is probably a very good learning experience for all the boys!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Science Fair update

Last night I stayed up late working on a puzzle. Luke started it; it's is one of Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods. The L's have one, and I love it, so when we were in Colorado this summer, I looked at the Trading Post and was thrilled to find one for us! It's a good-size puzzle, over 500 pieces, but (excuse my bragging) Luke is really kicking tail on it! Obviously he takes after his mother! : ) I stayed up working on the sky because I just find doing puzzles so relaxing. What am I stressed about? Well, the science fair. You may recall that back in January I went to a meeting where I thought I would volunteer to set up tables or something for a homeschool science fair maybe to be held that March. No. There was no science fair (yet), and that was the first planning meeting. There were 4 of us there, and I was the only one who had ever even been to a science fair, much less participated in one, judged one, or had any real experience with one. So I leaped out of my comfort zone and signed on. As we've gone on, it has become obvious that I was really needed, especially when the director Katrina (yes, she's heard all the jokes) decided that we needed to become an International Science and Engineering Fair affiliate member. This was because our county, Loudoun County, will not allow homeschooled or private schooled students to participate in their regional science fair, so those students have no possibility of going on the the State or International level. My preference would have been to just have a year or 2 of being a regular fair, where no one goes on to anything, just to determine interest and get the kinks worked out, but Katrina and the other people felt like we needed to "think big". So we plunged on ahead. Becoming ISEF-affiliated requires a ton of paperwork, there are a literal ton of pickly little rules that everyone must adhere to, and there are lots of committees that must be formed involving school administrators, medical doctors, biomedical scientists, science teachers, etc. to evaluate projects plans and make sure they are not too risky. Well, those people simply have not appeared, although we have looked for them. We are also having trouble with Loudoun County cooperating. All they need to do is specifically state to ISEF that they exclude homeschoolers and private schools, but the lady in charge there is not even answering my emails or calls anymore. Grrr. Also, we need to have 50 high school students, and that is a very large number, especially given that we have no idea what the interest level for this even is (not too high, given the stunning lack of volunteers we have gotten so far). I really doubt we could have that many the first year, and I think it would be so much better if we didn't have to! There are lots of little issues that we need to get worked out, but starting out right away with a big fair makes it unlikely those will get worked out, and likely that more will arise. This is all coming to a head now because we have a deadline of Oct. 1 to submit our affiliation package. I'm scared, frankly, that we will go ahead and affiliate, but then we will totally mess something up (which will be on my head, since I am the one in charge of ISEF stuff and am the only one who knows anything about scince fairs). Then we would be on probation, etc. Plus, we are going to have our fair in early March, so obviously timing just isn't very good for us at all, with me being due the end of March. It's certainly not going to be a good time to have to do all the ISEF related after-fair paperwork that they require within 14 days of your fair. So. Katrina and I need to make some decisions the next few days. And then we will need to sort out how it all plays out for this year. I think it would be a lot easier to scale back, but we'll see. I keep wishing I had never gone to that meeting! I'm going to go work some more on that puzzle. . .

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Katrina link

Also, here is well-balanced article from the Wall Street journel online opinion page about the causes for the bad response after Katrina. Unfortunately, I doubt you will see this in the big mainstream newspapers, or on the mainstream TV stations, so it is unlikely many people will ever really know what was supposed to happen there.

Public Service Announcement

For all of those people who read my blog and get presents from us, it is time to make sure your Amazon.com wishlist is updated! I am trying to be super-organized and get Christmas shopping done way early (for me, anyways), so I need to know what you want! Make sure there are options on there for your children and significant other as well, if applicable. And if you read my blog but don't get presents from us, well, you ought to update your wishlist too! Do it now, before you forget!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

White Sulphur Springs

We had such a wonderful time at White Sulphur Springs this weekend. WSS is the eastern conference center for the Officers' Christian Fellowship, and it is located in the Allegheny mountains near Bedford, PA. WSS is one of my absolute favorite places in the world. We went there while I was growing up, I used to work there on their junior support staff during the summers, and Bob and I continue to go back with our family. It's one of those places that, although some little things change, it always feels like the same familiar place, and I guess that's why military families like it so much. We went because the Wright-Patterson OCF group was having their annual retreat, so it was a great time to visit with my parents and see old friends from W-P. The speaker was Mike Riddle, from Answers In Genesis, and he talked about the great creation/evolution debate. He was a really good speaker, and I know he really challenged some people to consider why the issue of how you believe the world came into being is important. He pointed out how many churches have compromised by saying that God just used evolution, and he discussed the ramifications of that view (such as, if you decide you don't take Genesis literally, then how can you take the rest of the Bible literally? How can you answer a person who says there are many ways to get to God, even though God clearly says in the Bible that Jesus is the only way, because you have just said that there are many ways God could have created the world, even though He clearly said he spoke it into existence in 6 days.) He also inspired those of us who are homeschooling to keep on, given the total control of the educational system by the evolutionists. People are really indoctrinated today in public schools about evolution, since there is never even a question about problems with the theory, or even the statement that it IS just a theory, and there are so many Christian schools out there that also teach theistic evolution. We went away armed with more good resources to add to our growing creation library! There were 2 homeschooled girls who were brought from Ohio by another family, and they had a great program for the kids, even tying it into what the speaker was discussing. It was so nice to have all the kids taken care of. I actually skipped a few morning sessions to take naps, and it was so, so restful. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, so we were able to do lots of outside things. The boys paddled a canoe on the lake, they did the rock-climbing wall, Nathan and Bob went horseback riding, and we took some nice walks. We had a bonfire Friday night, where we sang and made s'mores, and we had a square dance Saturday night , which was great fun. Nathan was my partner (Bob sacrificed and took the little boys back to bed), and he did really well at following all the directions! I am sure when he is old enough to be on staff there, he will have a line of ready partners for the square dances! : ) Nathan is looking forward to participating in "Camp Caleb" next summer, where he would stay for a week and do all these fun things like archery, riding, canoeing, etc. There was another family there with 5 kids, the oldest 2 being boys 9 and 7, so they all got along great. It was just so nice to get away from everything this weekend, and it was very hard to come back in to the "real world". Katrina, Justice Rehnquist's death, high gas prices (up to $3.39 here), homeschooling, laundry, my science fair meeting tonight--bleh. It's hard to not run back! At least we won't be doing any more traveling for a few months anyhow. Surely things will settle back into a groove again, and sometime I again won't be so tired all the time.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Every time I read an article about New Orleans, I am just so . . . I don't even know the right word. Sad, I guess. To see a city just descend into anarchy here in the U.S. is a painful thing to watch. I feel so badly for the people who are trapped there, the ones who fled to the Super Dome and Convention Center because they couldn't get out any other way, and now they are suffering in horrendous conditions. I can't even imagine trying to exist in that filth, without water or food, and I saw so many pictures of children and elderly people. I guess it is natural to want to blame someone for the situation, but I really don't see how they can. Maybe they should go back to the beginning and blame the people who put the city there in the first place? I don't think anyone can accurately predict exactly how a hurricane will damage things, so things like blaming President Bush are really over the top. Is he now God? He signed a bill for relief before the hurricane even hit, which seems like as much as one can do beforehand, and now it is just a matter of trying to get things under control while wild gangs of people shoot at lawmen and in other ways cause chaos, and while dealing with flooded and inaccessible streets. That is a pretty tall order, but I am praying all the time that buses will arrive, that food will get there, that people will be able to get out, and that lawmen will be able to take back control of the city.

I have the most empathy (meaning of course that I can most easily picture myself in their situation)for the people who evacuated and now have heard that their houses are underwater. I'm sure, if we were ever in that situation, that we would evacuate when told to, but I don't know how you decide what to take. I've thought about that over the past few days, as a sort of mental exercise--scrapbooks, schoolbooks we're using right now, clothes, food, water bottles . . . but then I think about how much else is left. I alwyas get so annoyed when the movers lose a box in a move--"How inconvenient! Now I have to replace that, but I LIKED what I had!" I can't imagine having to replace everything I owned. Wow. And of course there are things that are irreplacable. It's so depressing, frankly. I've heard reports say that displaced people are already trying to settle in wherever they fled to, but how do you do that if you own a house? I mean, you still have to make house payments, etc., even if it's underwater, right? You can't just pick up and start over and start totally over, unless maybe you were just renting. Sigh. The situation is overwhelming just to think about. I truly can't imagine living it.