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?!!

Saturday, October 29, 2005

We're Back!

We got back from Ohio last night, and we even made it over to Bible study! It was a no-brainer--we got home around 7:00, and our house was a chilly 56 degrees, since we had not left our heat on. So we all ate quick bowls of cereal, then headed over to the L's warm house in time for prayer time and dessert! Actually, when we got back home, our house was still cold--Bob had to go up to the attic to discover that the HVAC guy, when recharging our AC system this spring, evidentally turned off the gas. Whoops! No wonder nothing happened!

It was a wonderful trip. Obviously I didn't do any blogging--in fact, I only looked at a computer once during the whole trip! It was really nice to just be away from it all--especially the politics. That is one thing about being near D.C.--politics are a big deal--and it was good to have a break. Of course, now that means we have tons of emails to catch up on, and tons of junk emails to delete, but oh well, a small price to pay!

We stayed with my best friend Amy, and we had so much fun. I told Bob that I haven't spent this much time with Amy since we roomed together in college! We could just talk while we went about the day, washing dishes, folding clothes, keeping kids entertained . . . it was great. We even did some scrapbooking, and I did Nathan's book for this past year! Amy and Jason gave us their huge master bedroom, so it was like our own luxery hotel suite. The 3 older boys all slept on an air mattress there, and Jonathan borrowed Jacob's pack-n-play. The older boys had a great time playing with Zachary, especially with his Playmobil figures. Joanthan and Jacob sometimes played well, sometimes had territorial disputes--you know, they were both 2! LOL!

We got to see my parents' new house a few times, and it is looking so great! I was so glad to finally be able to see it--phone descriptions just don't do it justice! It's just so light and airy, with so much open space. SO different from their other house! We got to see all their flooring choices, except the carpet, which isn't down yet, and I really liked them all. The paint and wallpaper looks great too. I can tell we are really going to enjoy staying there! The boys liked racing around in all the space and getting really dusty. Just a few more weeks until it's done-wow! They said I could organize their books too, once they move in. LOL!

We did have some struggles during the trip. Bob is fighting off a horrible case of poison ivy. It's 2 weeks old now, coming from when we cleared out our back yard. He is just really sensitive to poison ivy. He went to the doctor before we left, and he got a course of steroid pills plus some antihisitmines. I can truthfully say those did nothing at all. The rash spread all over, and he was so itchy and uncomfortable. Finally he had to go in to the Wright-Pat ER, where they gave him a steroid shot and some stronger antihistimines. He seems to be slowly getting a bit better, although he is still itchy.

Caleb is really struggling with his asthma. He always has problems when the weather really changes, and the temperatures dropped about 20 degrees when we got to Ohio. It was so cold and wet the first few days we were there! He wheezed and coughed away, and we used the last of his albuterol inhaler. Fortunately Amy has a breathing machine, since Zachary also has struggled with asthma, and so we used that for Caleb. It really helped, but now we are trying to make it until Monday, when hopefully I'll be able to get an appointment for Caleb so we can get some more medicine. None of his coughing seemed to slow him down, but we did have one really bad night where no one got any sleep because of it! That was when we decided to start using the breathing machine, and he slept really well after that.

Well, that was pretty much the trip. Now we have to settle back into our routine again. Nathan and Luke are playing soccer this morning, but the little boys and I are home because I didn't want Caleb to cough too much. We're going to meet them and the L's afterwards for lunch. And at some point I'll have to unpack those suitcases--my absolute least-favorite part of traveling!

Friday, October 21, 2005

New Stage

As I am packing for this trip to Ohio (which, by the way, Bob is going to get to go on--he's just taking leave for it), I have realized that we are in a new stage right now, one we haven't been in for many years. I don't need a diaper bag. Yes, that's right! Jonathan is still technically in diapers, but he doesn't go much while we're out, and even more rarely would he go poop. And I always have diapers in the car, so I am prepared for emergencies. Neither Jonathan nor Caleb are wearing bibs anymore. That was sort of a surprise, but Jonathan is a much neater eater (hey, what a rhyme!) than Caleb, so I let him stop wearing them about the same time Caleb stopped! With the new baby being due the end of March, we're going to have a gap of 2 years, almost 10 months, and that is the longest between any of our kids. I am getting a little used to the comforts of not having babies! I can still say that I have had no breaks in changing diapers though--I've been at that for over 8 years and counting, always having at least one in diapers. Once I was sitting by a new mom in some casual setting, and I changed someone (Caleb? Jonathan? Can't remember) on my lap really quickly. She was amazed, but I told her it was all experience. Who knew I would ever be such a pro at diapers?! Certainly not me. Anyhow, when we went to WalMart yesterday, I bought a new purse. It's big enough that I can fit the little travel diaper wipes box in it, as well as Caleb's Epipen and other little things that I used to carry in the diaper bag. I found that the only time I was really missing the diaper bag was after going out to eat, when someone was really sticky or something, and I just needed a wipe. So now that problem is solved, and I will not even be bringing our diaper bag to Ohio! I figure the diaper bag deserves a little break between now and March--it has earned a reward for faithful service rendered!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Distractions

I've been sort of blogging-distracted lately. Last week, Bob told me that he had a TDY this next week to Ohio for a conference. I was so excited! I am absolutely dying to see the new house that my parents are building, plus it has been a so long since I've seen Amy (since June). I was very cautious and didn't get my hopes up ALL the way, but it was all I could think about. On Monday everything looked good to go, so I really did get excited. But this morning Bob found out that it was denied. NO! When I called Mom and Dad to tell them (sobbing), Dad couldn't even tell who I was! Just some crazy, emotional pregnant woman. It looks like I am going to drive out with the boys myself on Saturday though. Still--what a bummer. Crazy Air Force.

On Monday Bob also mentioned the possibility of an assignment in England. Wow! That also got me excited! He had almost no details to give me, so instead of waiting patiently for more information, I tried to figure out stuff by spending a long time on the internet (sorry to be so deliberately vague). Today we found out that the one little piece of info we had was totally wrong, so all my "research" was for naught. Again, though, this has been all I can think about! I think he is still going to put in for the job. We'll see what the Lord has in mind.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Proofreading Rules

I thought about posting this before, but I just never did. It really is too funny though, and I know some people who could certainly benefit from reading these rules and applying them! (Don't worry; if you are reading this in my blog, then it's not you! LOL!) Numbers 30 and 34 are particularly abused among my circle. This piece is somewhat similar to this list by William Safire , so I'll go ahead and give him credit.

1. Always avoid alliteration.

2. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.

3. Avoid cliches like the plague--they're old hat.

4. Employ the vernacular.

5. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.

6. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.

7. Parenthetical words however must be enclosed in commas.

8. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive.

9. Contractions aren't necessary.

10. Do not use a foreign word when there is an adequate English quid pro quo.

11. One should never generalize.

12. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."

14. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.

15. Don't be redundant; don't use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.

16. It behooves you to avoid archaic expressions. 1

7. Avoid archaeic spellings too.

18. Understatement is always best.

19. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.

20. One-word sentences? Eliminate. Always!

21. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.

22. The passive voice should not be used.

23. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.

24. Don't repeat yourself, or say again what you have said before.

25. Who needs rhetorical questions?

26. Don't use commas, that, are not, necessary.

27. Do not use hyperbole; not one in a million can do it effectively.

28. Never use a big word when a diminutive alternative would suffice.

28. Subject and verb always has to agree.

29. Be more or less specific.

30. Placing a comma between subject and predicate, is not correct.

31. Use youre spell chekker to avoid mispeling and to catch typograhpical errers.

32. Don't repeat yourself, or say again what you have said before.

33. Don't be redundant.

34. Use the apostrophe in it's proper place and omit it when its not needed.

35. Don't never use no double negatives.

36. Poofread carefully to see if you any words out.

37. Hopefully, you will use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.

38. Eschew obfuscation.

39. No sentence fragments.

40. Don't indulge in sesquipedalian lexicological constructions.

41. A writer must not shift your point of view.

42. Don't overuse exclamation marks!!

43. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.

44. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.

45. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.

46. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.

47. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.

48. Always pick on the correct idiom.

49. The adverb always follows the verb.

50. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.

51. If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be by rereading and editing.

52. And always be sure to finish what

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Yard work, money management, etc.

Today was a busy day. Nathan and Luke had a soccer game in the morning. Their team played very well, and they won. Nathan even scored 2 goals! Then we went out for pizza and came home. Today was also a warm, sunny day, which is important because it rained every day last week, and Nathan was dying to rake leaves. So this afternoon was his big opportunity.

Why was he so anxious to do yard work, you may ask? Good question! The answer is that he is "in the hole" financially speaking, and we told him he could earn extra money by raking out the area that we cleared last Monday. You may now be wondering for what he could possibly be in debt. The answer is a Bionicle. (I was going to link you to the site, but it appears to be down, since I kept getting an error message.) Nathan and Luke have enjoyed playing with these "things" (they're by the same people who make Legos) at the L's house during Bible study. I think they are ugly, but I couldn't really find anything wrong with them. They sort of remind me of the transformers and gobots (was that it, Dan?) that my brother used to be so enamored with at about the same ages. It must be a boy phase. Anyhow, I didn't see a reason to disallow bionicles altogether, but I didn't want to buy them. So we told them they could buy some with their own money. Luke is rolling in money. Not only does he save his meager allowance, but he also is always on the lookout at stores, and he has found so much money. It's amazing, really. Nathan, on the other hand, has invested in Dum-Dum Pop merchandise. Even though we told him many times that the stuff you can get with your saved wrappers (plus a goodly amount of shipping and handling!) is pretty much Dollar Store-quality stuff, he has sent away for a frisbee, yo-yo, and cheap binoculars. So when the time came that there was something he REALLY wanted to buy, well . . . He was several dollars short. Hmmm. After we talked it over extensively, Bob gave Nathan a loan and bought a bionicle for him. He made up a spreadsheet showing his payments over the next few months. He also made up a spreadsheet showing his payments if Bob would have charged him interest. That was certainly eye-opening for Nathan! This little exercise has actually been very beneficial from a money-management standpoint, and I think Nathan will think a lot harder about what he chooses to spend his money on in the future. But to get on with the story, Nathan is now a little closer to his big pay-off day. He was a great worker this afternoon. He raked leaves, put them in garbage bags, pulled weeds, picked up these little fruit things from a tree in our yard, and so on with a great attitude for about 4 hours. For his troubles, we're going to pay him $1.25. Don't do our yard work and expect to get rich, LOL!

Here is a another little story about Nathan so you don't just think of him as a money-squanderer. In our Children's Bible reading on Friday, we read the story in Daniel 2 about King Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the mysterious statue with gold head, silver trunk, bronze thighs, iron legs, and iron/clay feet. When we got to the part where Daniel was interpreting the dream, I read what would be Dan. 2:38b " . . . You are that head of gold." Nathan interrupts and says, "Hmm, let me guess. The iron part must have been Rome, since that was the strongest empire. That means Greece was bronze." I said yes, and that Persia was the silver. So then Nathan asked who the iron/clay part could be since, there wasn't another strong empire after Rome, and I told him that was the point--all the kingdoms after Rome have not lasted as long or been as dominating, just as was predicted in the Bible. Nathan was impressed with the accuracy of the Biblical predictions, but I was impressed that he put it all together like that, making the connections. I love classical education!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

First Doctor Appointment

I had my first doctor's appointment for this pregnancy today, and it went really well! I really like the doctor, and I LOVE being in a civilian practice. It was like they wanted to please me! Like I was important! Everything looked and sounded good; absolutely nothing exciting to report. I'll go back in 3 weeks (Nov. 3) for my ultrasound. She agreed that my due date is March 28 (Amanda L's birthday!).

Bob came home to watch the boys while I went, and when I got back home, he suggesting we all go to Olive Garden for lunch before he went back to work. If you know me at all, then you know that I love Olive Garden, especially when I am pregnant, so of course I said yes! We have only been to Olive Garden once since moving here, so it was such a nice treat. We got the pasta fagiole (sp?), salad, and breadsticks, our lunchtime usual. I ate 2 bowls of soup, many helpings of salad, and several breadsticks to round out the meal. Now I am stuffed and sleepy, so a nap is definitely in order for this afternoon!

When the boys and I got back home, the mail was here, and I received my second letter from Tricare. This new one is because we changed doctors from the one they had originally assigned us. Imagine my surprise when I saw a completely different doctor's name in the letter, one who is not even very near us, but rather is in Leesburg! I can not imagine what happened, since I talked to 2 different people at Tricare 2 weeks ago who assured me that everything was changed. And in fact, they did fax my information and approval to the doctor I wanted, because that is why I was able to make an appointment last week and see her today! I am continually amazed at their incompetance. I called again, and another lady assured me everything was REALLY changed this time, so I'm sure I'll be getting a letter next week with a doctor in West Virginia named! LOL! I won't be laughing if there's a billing problem though . . . Off to nap on the couch!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

My Journey To Homeschooling

A few posts ago, I wrote that I would share how I came to start homeschooling, after I declared that I would never do so! My family moved to Ohio from Okinawa when I was in middle school, and one of the first girls I met was a girl named Jennifer. She had 2 sisters, and they were all homeschooled. When you think of homeschool stereotypes, they fit a lot of them--skirt-wearing, long-haired, lived in the country, etc. Our moms were friends and wanted us to be friends too, but to my immature mind, she was a goody-two-shoes (this coming from someone who was probably considered that by many acquaintances!), really prissy, and just odd. She spouted a lot of pro-homeschooling talk like "My mother is my best teacher because she knows me best!" (said in a sugary sweet voice). Blech! "No way!" I thought! "Not ever me!" and when I later learned that she graduated from homeschool and then went on to "midwifery school", well, I just thought that was so weird. Ironically, now I think that is pretty cool, but . . . back to high school, where I was full of big plans.

I went to a wonderful Christian high school, with dedicated teachers that also were committed to discipling us, so I had a great school experience. I went to Cedarville College, which is a Christian college in Ohio, and there were certainly lots of homeschoolers there, even in the early 90's. Some of them were the weird, unsocialized type that get such a bad reputation, and those were the ones that strengthened my resolve to never homeschool!

Bob and I got married after my sophomore year of college, and we moved into a duplex on base, just 5 duplexes away from our friends the L's. They had just started homeschooling their oldest, Anthony. I had a light schedule my last year of college, so I offered to do science with Anthony a couple days a week so Elizabeth could have some time with their 2 younger kids. We had such a great time making volcanoes, looking at things under a microscope, going on nature walks, etc. Hmmm. . . doing stuff one-on-one with kids is pretty fun. A big shift in my thinking!

After I graduated with a degree in biology and math, Bob and I were transferred to Colorado Springs. Two years later, Nathan was born, and a few weeks after that, the L's transferred out to Colorado Springs too. They were trying to sell their (rental) house in Ohio to buy a house in Colorado, so they ended up living in our basement for 8 months while that happened. Slow market back in Ohio! Elizabeth was pregnant with their 4th child this whole time. Now I could really see the nitty-gritty of how homeschooling worked, and to be honest . . . I liked it! People were always amazed that we could all live together for so long, but it was so much fun. The L's kids were so much fun to be around, and such huge helpers. They entertained Nathan when he was fussy--he grew up thinking he had 3 older siblings!--and I never had to unload the dishwasher, vacuum or clean the main floor bathroom while they lived with us. Needless to say, the L's were who we ran to with parenting questions, since we liked their results so much, and it was great to see right in front of us all these great parenting examples!

During this same time, my mom somehow got on the mailing list for Veritas Press. I loved looking through their catalogue, and now I was interested in homeschooling from an academic perspective as well. Although I had had a very good education, I always felt like there was more out there that I didn't know--gaps, if you will. I knew I was weak in ancient history, and there were lots of myths and other literary allusions that I didn't always understand. And I SO wished I could have taken Latin in high school. In Colorado I met another girl about my age who taught Latin, and I was so jealous of her students! So when I considered that I could teach my kids the stuff in the catalogue, and learn it myself at the same time--well, that was a very appealing idea. I decided that I would have to start at the very beginning with Nathan, because I was sure that if I didn't start with kindergarten--no, even preschool!--then I would never be able to jump in. We did fun workbooks and read a lot of books for preschool, and then each year we would add more. Now I hardly do anything for preschool, which was in fact the advice I got from experienced homeschoolers that I knew back then, so I have obviously gotten a lot more relaxed about it all! As I started doing more research on the internet, I came across the Well-Trained Mind website, specifically the message boards, and because of that, I read the book The Well-Trained Mind, by Susan Wise Bauer. This book solidified in my mind a lot of my goals for the academic part of our homeschooling, and it gave me ideals to aim for, especially in terms of future years. So now we've been homeschooling for 4 years, and I am still learning. I am actually becoming very interested in a more Latin-centered form of classical education, and so we have made Latin an essential part of each homeschooling day, just like math. I am sure I will post more on this as I learn more! I joined a Latin-centered Yahoo group several weeks ago, so I have enjoyed getting those emails.

As I think back on my journey to considering homeschooling, I realize that God brought the right people into my life at just the right time to answer my questions and be examples to me. Now obviously homeschooling is not for everyone, and I don't even think it should be. But as I heard someone once say, "If you are wondering about it, then be open to it--God might be leading you to do it. But if you never even wonder about it, then He's probably not calling you to that!" I feel like the Lord is blessing our homeschooling journey, and that right now, we are where He wants us to be!

Monday, October 10, 2005

Another Productive Day!

Another day in which I did not have to take an afternoon nap! Since this is a holiday for Bob, we had originally planned to go camping this weekend with the L's. But all the rain and cold weather put a damper on that plan, literally, so then we decided we would just go hiking for the day up in Maryland. But still . . . it was so cool and cloudy, so we decided not to that either. When Bob and I woke up this morning, we really didn't have any specific plans for the day. Bob decided to start stripping the paint off his dresser. It's been in our garage since we moved because, well, it's painted a lovely maroon color, but this bedroom is a beautiful shade of light blue, and it clashed horridly. We have a ton of shelves in our closet, so he's just put all his folded stuff on them. It has certainly not been a priority to do anything with this dresser, although I had bought all the stuff we needed back when we first decided to strip it. So he applied the "goop" to it, and then he searched around for something to do while he waited for the paint to soften. He decided to trim some of the trees in the backyard which were hanging way down. I went back there too, to give helpful advice as to which branches to trim. We really went to town! The yard looked so good, and it was so nice not to have to stoop down under low-hanging branches to walk around the back yard. So we kept right on going. We have this little area of trees that has developed quite a case of poison ivy, as well as a scraggly look because of all the underbrush and puny little saplings that have grown up. I told Bob that I thought we should clear out all the scrubby, scrawny weedy-looking trees, and then maybe we could see to get rid of the poison ivy. He started chopping, and a few hours later, wow! What a difference! It was like reclaiming our yard! There are still some areas of poison ivy, but it looks so bright and airy in there, instead of spooky and icky, like bugs were going to drop down on you since you were all the time brushing against low branches. We left the big trees, and now you can actually see their trunks, instead of all the weeds! We need to rake out all the nasty dead leaves, and then hopefully we can put some mulch down there in the spring to help keep down the poison ivy. After all that tree-chopping, we had to cut everything down into 4 foot sections and bundle it together for the trash men. Bob did go back and scrape off the top of the dresser, but there were I think 4 layers of paint on there, so it needs a few more applications of "goop". Definitely an on-going project. The yard was the most dramatically improved thing today, however. I am looking forward to waking up and seeing how good it looks out our back windows!

Schooling Boys

The Washington Times had an interesting article again today. This one was called Schools Learning About Boys , and it talks about the startling research that has discovered "the vast differences in boys' and girls' brains and how they affect learning." Once again, they do not ask the real experts (people like me who ONLY teach boys, LOL!), but they interview scientists who just study boys from a detached distance. Here are some of their findings as they relate to learning:

1. Boys learn better when it's cooler and lit with "cool lighting tones", whatever that means.

2. Boys don't hear as well as girls, so often teachers need to speak louder to them than to girls.

Here are some things they recommend doing to help boys:

1. Cut out computer game and TV screen time, since they don't do anything to help them develop their verbal brain centers.

2. Read out loud to the boys a lot, making sure to link pictures with words.

3. Schools should let boys draw, and then write about their picture, instead of the typical writing assignments like "Write a paragraph about what you did this summer".

4. Sitting should be optional; boys should be allowed to "move around in a disciplined way", although frankly I am not sure how that would work in a classroom setting.

5. Provide a wider variety of reading materials, such as "how things work" books that boys like. Do they need more suggestions? I can give them bookshelves upon bookshelves of titles! Adventure stories are very appealing too! My boys have always loved non-fiction books, no matter what they were about.

I certainly agree with all those suggestions! It turns out that 2 Virginia elementary schools are experimenting with having "boys only" classes for some grades, andthe boys are thriving there. We are way ahead of the times! I don't know about the lighting and temperature, but homeschooling certainly allows for movement, tailored and gradual writing assignments, lots of exciting books that boys WANT to read and listen to, and very little TV and computer game time! The key here is that finally researchers are realizing that the way boys learn isn't "bad": it's just "different". And teachers can work towards incorporating that into a classroom, although it would be more difficult in a mixed environment, since girls wouldn't like all the movement, and it might be hard to control. So it seems to me that the ideal situation is one where there are only a few students per teacher, and the teacher can look at each child individually to determine exactly what works best for him (or her), based on how they learn. Hey! Sounds like homeschooling!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Pray for the Academy

I don't know if your papers will have this story or not, but this morning the Washington Times ran an article titled Air Force School Targeted: Graduate's Suit Cites Imposition of Christianity . A Mikey Weinstein of New Mexico is suing the Air Force saying that "in the past decade or more academy leadership have fostered an environment of religious intolerance". Unfortunately, when people like Mr. Weinstein say they want tolerance, what they mean is they want no one to mention Christianity ever. So be praying that this lawsuit will be tossed out, and that Academy officials will respond the right way to it, instead of a knee-jerk politically correct way that even more limits the religious freedoms of cadets and leadership.

In a bit of irony, Bob is actually pressing a complaint at his work for something. The gym there has a radio, and in the mornings it is tuned to a station with "shock jocks" that use really bad language, talk down about women in a sexually degrading way, etc. I'm sure you get the idea! Bob complained, but the gym manager said basically that it was his (Bob's) problem--the gym doesn't have any responsibility over what is played. Bob said to me that he was sure they would hear something if he changed it to Christian music, but the point is that in a government facility, you would expect that they would have to be under the same rules that the offices are under, esp. all those rules against anything that could possibly be considered sexually harrassing and profane. Military members have to exercise, and so they should not have to listen to trash. Bob said it is really not easy to change the station, esp. when there are lots of really big men standing around, and if he, as a higher-ranking officer felt like he couldn't do that, then what would a much junior-ranking or even elisted person feel like? There is going to be a "family day" at work soon, so Bob asked the manager what if his family came in and heard all this offensive talk. The manager said that the radio would be turned off for family day, kind of defying his point that he didn't have any control over the radio! So after Bob had some unsatisfactory conversaitons with the gym manager, he decided to formally press a complaint. Please be praying for Bob too, for wisdom as he pursues this.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Some Idiosyncrasies

A few days ago, my Aunt Claire posted a list of her idiosyncrasies. I decided to take the challenge, and it's taken me this long to come up with 5 of them--just kidding! LOL! I came up with 5 right off the top of my head! I just never sat down and typed them up. I didn't even have to ask anyone else to help me, although I'm sure Bob would have been glad to contribute. And I know Amy knows some others of mine, but since she doesn't comment on here, my secrets are safe with her. : ) (Now nobody go bugging her to spill the beans)

1. I must have a glass of ice water available at all times. I have 2 lovely insulated cups with straws that I got at the hospital after having Caleb and Jonathan, and one those goes upstairs every night with me, filled with ice water. During the day, I have a glass on the counter that I constantly refill. I even often take water with me in the car (like when we go to the commissary or on a longer errand), in case we get stuck in traffic and I get thirsty. At restaurants, I'm the one who always needs a water refill, and it really bugs me if the ice is all melted. By the way, I do have to use the bathroom often, even when not pregnant. LOL!

2. I eat no coconut ever. I don't even eat stringy things that have the consistency of coconut, like crushed pineapple in salads. I'm sure Amy remembers me eating a Kudos bar in our dorm room, stopping to look at the ingredients, and triumphantly announcing that I could tell there was coconut in there! I can't. stand. coconut. Period.

3. I must have everything done before I sit down, lie down, etc. So I always go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, and so on, even if I am just settling on the couch to read a book. I hate getting up when I am relaxing for something small! And along those same lines, I always try to only make one trip. Why waste the effort? I carry as much as I possibly can at one time!

4. Going along with #1 above, my drinks must be very cold, so I put ice in my milk, orange juice, well, everything. Except hot cocoa.

5. I can't stand eating soggy cereal so I gulp my cereal down each morning in record time, and no one must disturb me while I'm eating it. Soggy cereal with warm milk, like at hotels, is the absolute worst. HOW do I survive such torture?!

So there you have it. I was a little surprised to see how many of those dealt with food/drink. I don't even consider myself to be a picky eater! I guess I am an "idiosyncratic" eater (or, to be more accurate, drinker). I don't usually ask people to do these things, but I am thinking that we would all love to see my brother witw do this. I'm sure if he has problems coming up with any, he can always ask Mel! LOL!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

In Honor of Shakespeare

Today we read about William Shakespeare in Story of the World. With that in mind, I'm going to share with you something we all thought was really funny that I read on The Well-Trained Mind board. It helped the boys see how Shakespeare wrote by having something familiar to them written in his style.

The following is from the Washington Post Style Invitational contest that asked readers to submit "instructions" for something (anything) but written in the style of a famous person. The winning entry was:

The Hokey Pokey (as written by W. Shakespeare)

O proud left foot, that ventures quick within
Then soon upon a backward journey lithe.
Anon, once more the gesture, then begin:
Command sinistral pedestal to writhe.
Commence thou then the fervid Hokey-Poke,
A mad gyration, hips in wanton swirl.
To spin! A wilde release from Heaven's yoke.
Blessed dervish! Surely canst go, girl.
The Hoke, the Poke--banish now thy doubt
Verily, I say, 'tis what it's all about.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

"Don't Forfeit Your Peace"

I am just way too tired to post anything original tonight! The boys and I (along with our homeschool co-op)spent the day at Cox's Farm for their big Fall-Festival type thing. We went on a hayride, went down slides, drank cider and ate apples, had a picnic, saw baby animals, etc, etc., and now I am so exhausted! Bob took the day off to do some interviews with local real estate offices. He is wanting to move more in that direction, doing it part-time. As I look towards all the uncertainty of his looming retirement, I got this Elisabeth Elliot devotional in my email this morning and it really spoke to me.

"Don't Forfeit Your Peace"


It would not be possible to exaggerate the importance hymns and spiritual
songs have played in my spiritual growth. One of the latter, familiar to most of
you, has this line: "O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we
bear, all because we do not carry everything to God in prayer" (Joseph Scriven).
Prayerlessness is one of many ways by which we can easily forfeit the peace God
wants us to have. I've been thinking of some other ways. Here's a sampling:

1. Resent God's ways.
2. Worry as much as possible.
3. Pray only about things you can't manage by yourself.
4. Refuse to accept what God gives.
5. Look for peace elsewhere than in Him.
6. Try to rule your own life.
7. Doubt God's word.
8. Carry all your cares.

If you'd rather not forfeit your peace, here are eight ways to find it
(antidotes to the above eight):

1. "Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them" (Psalm 119:165 KJV). "Circumstances are the expression of God's will," wrote Bishop Handley Moule.
2. "Don't worry about anything whatever" (Philippians 4:6, PHILLIPS).
3. "In everything make your requests known to God in prayer and petition with thanksgiving. Then the peace of God... will guard your hearts" (Philippians 4:6,7, NEB).
4. "Take my yoke upon you and learn from me... and you will find rest"
(Matthew 11:29, NIV).
5. "Peace is my parting gift to you, my own peace, such as the world cannot give" (John 14 27, NEB).
6. "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts" (Colossians 3:15, NIV).
7. "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing" (Romans 15:13, KJV).
8. "Cast all your cares on him for you are his charge" (1 Peter 5:7, NEB).


"Grant, O Lord my God, that I may never fall away in success or in failure;
that I may not be prideful in prosperity nor dejected in adversity. Let me
rejoice only in what unites us and sorrow only in what separates us. May I
strive to please no one or fear to displease anyone except Yourself. May I seek
always the things that are eternal and never those that are only temporal. May I
shun any joy that is without You and never seek any that is beside You. O Lord,
may I delight in any work I do for You and tire of any rest that is apart from
You. My God, let me direct my heart towards You, and in my failings, always
repent with a purpose of amendment."
--St. Thomas Aquinas

Monday, October 03, 2005

Some more thoughts

When my brother told me that friends of his had read my "Day in the Life" post and became convinced they could not homeschool, I was amazed! Didn't you all notice I don't get up until after 8:00?! We only do formal schooling for at most 3 hours, from 9:30-12:30 except for Wednesday, where we do history in the afternoon?! I thought people would be ready to turn us in because our schedule was too light! LOL! The problem with writing down your schedule is that is everything sounds too neat and tidy--like everything just runs like clockwork. Well, sometimes that is true, but often it isn't! and the addition of each baby and each child who is ready to start formal schooling really plays havoc with whatever schedule I may have had. That's why I felt like I had to start homeschooling when Nathan was in kindergarten--so I could ease into it all. Believe me, there is nothing intimidating about teaching kindergarten to your own child! There are a zillion workbooks out there, even at Sams and WalMart! As I got more into homeschooling, I did more research and found different curricula I used, as well as different homeschooling styles. It was all gradual though.

Nathan is in third grade, so think back to your third grade class. You probably went to school form 8:00-2:30 or so. Your teacher would spend a long time going over various concepts a bunch of different ways in hopes of getting the slowest kid to understand while you were bored silly. You read little snippets of stories for "literature" and "reading comprehension". You were assigned several book reports of differing styles, ensuring that reading would also be "work". You did a lot of worksheets and busywork, and then you still had homework to do when you got hime. You were happy to not be learning, since it was so boring.

Well, in a nutshell, that's what I hope not to achieve with our homeschooling. I think that one of the most important things I could teach is how to learn and enjoy learning. Along with that goes a love of reading . Schools mainly focus on passing along information, especially if they must teach to tests. I can go deeper and help my children want to learn stuff on their own, as well as follow their own interests and move along in sujects as soon as one skill is mastered. I don't have to help 20 people understand a concept--just one! That's MUCH easier! I can surround my kids with great books so that reading is something they choose to do for fun--and why not?! The books are interesting and exciting, and you learn all sorts of cool stuff!

Really, every parent should be a "homeschooler", even if you contract out the academics. You have to be the one to model a love of learning, to encourage your kids to follow up on their own interests by taking special "field trips" with them, getting books out of the library that they find interesting, and so on. A teacher in a classroom simply can't focus all her attention on your child, so that part is up to you.

And if you are a Christian parent, God has called you to "homeschool" your child's character. (Deut. 6:6-8) He will be holding YOU responsible--not your child's school teacher--for the character development of your child. That requires you to search out teachable moments and stories that illustrate the Godly principles you are trying to impart. You must know your child and spend time with him to see what areas he is weak in, so you know what God wants you to be focusing on.

So in conclusion (finally!), instead of thinking that you could never homeschool, start thinking about how you already are or will be. And be open to the possibility that God may at some point call you to homeschool the academics too. That shouldn't scare you though--God ALWAYS provides the strength and ability to do the things to which He has called you. He is faithful! I am a testament to that! In some future post, I'll tell about how I knew that I would never homeschool (LOL!), as well as some of our shortcomings here, so you know I am definitely not up on some pedestal as "super mom" or anything. But for now, this post is long enough . . .

"Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or
imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory
in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and
ever! Amen!"

Ephesians 3:20-21