Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Annie-isms: A Descriptive Paragraph About Frogs

When asked to write a descriptive about frogs, Annie crafted the following:

Frogs have big puffy cheeks like Croagunk the Pokemon. Some frogs are green. Croagunk is blue with white bandages around his tummy.

She's 6! I don't think it reflects well on my parenting that she can better describe one of the less-important Pokemon than actual frogs.... In her defense -- sort of -- at one point she wanted to say that most frogs are green but some have polka dots and wish they were rainbows.....

I love this kid and just wonder what on Earth she will be like when she's older!

Friday, October 24, 2008

I Can Hear The Hooves...

I'm not really sure what to do with this news story I've been following.

Perhaps you can help me sort it out.

Part of me wants to vomit at the thought of being jailed for a thought crime.

Part of me want to slap this dude in the face, spit on him and then yell at him for about a week.

And, part of me wants to rip out the book of Revelation and answer the burning question -- is this the first or third sign of the Apocalypse?!

SO, here's here's my understanding on what's going down: This Australian guy, Gerald Toben, was sitting in his Australian home from about 2000 - 2004 posting crap on his web site denying the Holocaust. Reprehensible, no doubt. At some point in October, he finds himself in the US in need of flying to Dubai. He catches a flight and has a layover at Heathrow airport in London where he's arrested for the crime of "Holocaust Denying" based on a 2004 EU arrest warrant issued in Mannheim, Germany.

This was not a case of a criminal seeking political asylum. The guy didn't commit the "crime" in Germany. He didn't even commit the "crime" in London where he was arrested. His "offense" is not a crime in either Australia, where he sat publishing it, nor in the UK where he was arrested. As far as I can tell, the extradition treaties in place when he posted the material did NOT include a list with this "crime" on it, nor did it meet the dual criminality requirements (meaning it's a crime with equivalent punishments in both countries). So, why, you might ask, is he being arrested? It seems that there is a mandatory extradition law that requires any EU country arrest and immediately extradite anyone that has an EU Arrest Warrant issued by any other EU country, regardless of whether the "offense" was unlawful in that country or not.

Granted, it is VERY difficult to have sympathy for Toben -- he's not just some guy who posted a few mis-guided thoughts on his blog. He's actually been arrested before for similar "Hate Crimes" and even allegedly attended a conference in 2006 entitled "Review of the Holocaust: global vision" held by President Ahmadinejad of Iran. Not a model citizen for sure.

The question is, however: are we now under one law? Are each of us now held to the laws of other countries, even when we're not in those countries and, perhaps, never go to those countries? Belgium, it seems, has already had to deal with this issue when an arrest warrant for murder was issued by Poland for a woman who had an abortion. Again, arguments about the crime aside, the issue is one of our Constitutional Rights -- are we to be held to the laws of EU countries regardless of the law's legitimacy based on our Constitution and regardless of whether it meets the requirements of the extradition treaties we have with those countries?

What's next? Sharia? (don't roll your eyes -- the radical Muslim populations are wildly increasing across Europe... it could happen)

So, before you book a flight, think back.... have you posted anything on the Web that some other country might deem offensive? Have you committed an act of any kind that would be deemed a crime in any part of the EU? Are you certain? Might want to re-direct your flight and avoid the EU, unless, of course, that's you destination... and then I might have to ask, "Why?"

Monday, October 13, 2008

If I Culd SAve Time In a Bottle

You know all of that time you spend standing in front of the fridge/pantry/cabinet/grocery store shelves staring and wishing that something appropriate would appear? And, how about all of the time you spend waiting for someone that you KNEW was going to be late, but you had to be on time anyway because you're just that way? Or how about all of the time you spend NOT answering the questions, "SO where should we go to dinner?" I want to save all of that time in a bottle and pour it out into the night so that I can actually get enough sleep without missing anything cool.

I really resent that I have to sleep... there's just too much life out there waiting to be lived!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Annie-isms: We Just Got Ding-Dong Ditched by Our Six-Year-Old

It’s nearly midnight and I just can’t stop laughing. We’ve spent the ENTIRE evening trying to get our precious Annie to sleep. She’s resisted, she’s bargained, she’s pulled out the, “You just don’t care about me!” hollered down the hall. She even got her High School Musical microphone and made announcements from her bunk. She WON’T sleep.

After round three (or forty five, I can’t remember) of crocodile tears, we put her back in her bed… again… and were surprised by the silence. Great, maybe she’s asleep. Then we hear a soft but distinct knock at our bedroom door followed by the quick retreat of tiny feet. Upon opening the door we’re met with a note left on the floor.

Our dear darling little one, who has been struggling so with learning to read and write has left us a note. It reads “ANNIEISHie” and on the back there is a map – to where, I can’t tell – but it’s clearly a map.

So, best as I can tell, sweet Annie Rose ding dong ditched us to try and rope us into a game of hide and seek by actually writing a note entirely by herself for the very first time.

I love that kid.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Further Evidence of Impending Stardom

Shopping at Target this morning, looking for jeans for Annabelle.

Mommy: Do you like these, Annie? (holding up a really cute pair of jeans)

Annie: Can I have this purse?

Mommy: We're here for jeans, do you like these?

Annie: Ugh! Can I at LEAST have this belt?

Mommy: No, we're here to get jeans.

Annie: But it's like SO cute!

Mommy: I said no.

Annie: Ugh! Mo-om! I have to have style! I have to rock out!

Where does she get this?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Honest Thoughts of An Unapologetic Rock 'n' Roll Drama Queen

age 6 years, 136 days

Last night while riding in the car, Annie said, “Daddy, I need some music.”

So Daddy turned on WABE – classical music.

She said, “what kind of music is that?”

Daddy replied, “It’s classical music.”

“Why’s it so boring?”


“I need some Rock and Roll Music, Daddy!”

Friday, July 04, 2008

Independence Day

It's Independence Day. And, after 43 (I think) years, I've finally learned to spell independence without having to rely on spell check.

So, I'm sitting here at my computer exercising my right to read e-mail, play around on FaceBook and be a sloth when I see an e-mail from someone on my homeschool loop. Should have been the first indication that if I wanted to remain slothful, I should shut down the e-mail and focus my efforts on flinging food at my friends and creating pieces of Flair on Facebook. But, you see, the trouble with being slothful (sloth-like?, am I making up words here?) is that your mind doesn't function at it's normal rapid rate and so, the automated response kicked in and I opened said e-mail.


It was a simple e-mail. Just a few words and an attachment.

The few words read, "Here's a copy of the Declaration of Independence in case you don't have one." Implication being, of course, that I will be reviewing this document -- this reason for my "day off" -- with my children.

You see, as a homeschooler, I'm supposed to take every opportunity to educate my children on what's actually important and not just what will help them pass some government-imposed test. Actually I assert that as a PARENT I should take every opportunity to educate my children on what's actually important and not just what will help them pass some government-imposed test. But, well, that's probably best saved for another rant.


So, now having been presented with the reminder of the educational opportunity and having been relieved of any excuse that I didn't have the necessary text, I downloaded the attachment and, because I'm out of black ink, copied the text in to a Word document so that I could change the text color to blue and print it out. Whew!

I set in my mind that I would present the family with the pages and together, passing the Declaration around, we'd read it. But, in an effort to make certain that it all ran smoothly, I began to read it to myself.

Have you ever read the Declaration of Independence? These were some upset people! Now, I realize that should be obvious. One doesn't simply declare independence from his country because he's miffed or irked. No, they were flat ill with the king.

After reading and re-reading for about an hour, I finally finished the document and think I have digested it. It's not that long, it's just thick. It's also just important. Good grief, these folks up and sent a letter to the leader of the country saying that they were totally fed up and were leaving. They detailed their grievances and outlined their response.

Cool stuff.

Anyway. Since I had my Independence Day slothdom interrupted by this document, I thought I'd give you the same opportunity. So,

Here's a copy of the Declaration of Independence, In case you don't have one.

In Congress, July 4, 1776.
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever. He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

This is a Copy of the Text of the Original Declaration of Independence / dated 4th July, 1776.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Frantic Joy

The last few months have been a lot. It's amazing how tings just seem to come in waves. *

We recently returned from vacation in Destin Florida to a family full of pandemonium. While we were gone Jimmy's mom fell and broke her arm in three places -- I mean REALLY broke it. My dad spent two days in the hospital with chest pains (turns out it's nothing but stress, thankfully) and my brother has had sudden, unwanted and unexpected change of housing which puts him far away from the rest of the family.

So, after driving a LOOONNNGGG way home through torrents of rain I walked into a house that smelled like poo. Immediately I opened the windows and began looking for a dog pile, which I never found. Not the way a vacation was supposed to end. But, this vacation went anything but the way it was dreamed!

I looked forward to this vacation. I anticipated it, planned for it and dreamed about it. How nice it was, I thought, that we could head to the beach when it wasn't so crowded. No fighting for a "front row" chair position on the beach. No over-crowded swimming pool where the water temperature makes you wonder what the water to pee ratio is. No scorching sun that prevents you being outside during the "hot part of the day" which turns out to be 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. No, it was going to be serene, restful, almost picturesque.

Then, much like the Dasani commercials, I was ripped back to reality. The week leading up to vacation I was FRANTICALLY cooking up a storm so that we could have healthy meals and so that we wouldn't have to eat out and I wouldn't have to spend my vacation cooking. This worked well, as I froze enough dinners and a few lunches and took a quiche along for good measure. The cooking, packing and list-making took almost all week. The hollering and threatening took the rest of the available time and, by Thursday at about noon we piled the grumpy kids into the van, slapped headphones on them, plugged in the iPods and drove away.

Now, the thing about going to the beach when no one else is there, is, well, no one else is there. Not a problem for me. I have enough of "one elses" in my everyday, so I was looking forward to solitude -- reading a couple of books, contemplating my proverbial navel, etc. However, in my frantic planning and list making, I had failed to realize that the kids don't share my love for peaceful nothingness. So, you see, while the pee ratio in the pool was down, so were the available playmates. And, of course, while I got a "front row" chair position on the beach each day, I had to be the sand castle maker and wave chaser. While I didn't have to cook dinner, I did have to remember to defrost it, heat it up, serve it and clean up afterward.

Ok, I can hear you thinking -- why is Lorraine bothering to blog this awful vacation experience. This almost sounds like complaining! Well, here's the thing. I found that I actually did enjoy helping Annie build a sand castle. She actually became much more interested in the moats and aqua duct systems than the actual castle, which remained a lump in the middle of the moat. My little engineer! The Lord smiled on me as he stirred up a nice breeze which had the dual effect of making the beach a comfortable temperature AND creating the need for almost perpetual "red flags" so I didn't have to go swimming in the water. I ended up being blessed that the beach wasn't over-ridden with bikini-clad girls. There just wasn't much to worry about, so I could let the boys take their bikes and just go! The cooking still wasn't fun, but, well, nothing is free, right?

We also had the unexpected blessing of meeting another homeschooling family who have started a church in Ohio. They were great to talk to!

We had another blessing upon our return. Jimmy's wonderful mother had spent the first part of the week (pre-arm break) cleaning our house and replacing things -- like new rugs for the kitchen, a new curtain for the french doors, a much-needed additional table for my office. It was difficult to figure out how to react when I walked in to a clean but poo-scented house. It turns out, in case you're interested, that the poo smell was actually over-fermented kefir grains. That took us a week or so to discover, which, of course, means that I haven't been tending my kefir... but, well, that's really okay.

So, now we're back and I'm actually relaxing.

I'm rediscovering joy. Really. I think I'd forgotten that we're supposed to be joyful. I had been so focused on doing everything "right" that I forgot to have fun! Not just in the vacation preparation, but in all of life. That's so not cool.

So, I'm blogging again. I'm listening to music again. I'm scrapbooking again. AND, last night I stayed up until 3:30 a.m. doing absolutely nothing of any importance. Ahhhh... life is good, isn't it?

* yes, I realize that I made a typo, leaving the "h" out of "things." but, if you read it like it's written and then add "mon" at the end of the sentence, it actually ends up conveying my real sentiment, so , I left it in the final editing.

Other Way Cool Things That Happened on Vacation
  • My sons took me to lunch on Mother's Day at my favorite restaurant, La Paz, which no longer exists near me, but does exist in Destin.
  • My kids humored me by cheerfully escorting me to an Arts Festival in Sandestin after lunch on Mother's Day.
  • I won a necklace worth a reported $500 in the Arts Festival raffle.
  • We discovered Zoo World in Panama City Beach.
  • I had a real connection with Sydney the Gentle Giraffe and spent quite a bit of time petting and feeding him. I really didn't want to leave him.
  • My wicked sunburn turned into a nice "base tan."
  • The kids had a GREAT time fishing in the lake that's just outside our condo door.
  • My awesome husband bought me a camera for Mother's Day, which I used to take more than 450 pictures.
  • I now have quite a few blackmail photos of each of my kids.

"The only thing that interferes with my education is my schooling" -- Albert Einstein

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Reading Freakout

Have you ever read something that just set you over the limit??? It's not that the one thing you just read was so alarming that it calls for life-altering actions, but it's just the proverbial straw breaking the camel's back? Well, today I read just that sort of thing!

I get a number of crazy newsletters -- not surprising, since I'm more than just a bit odd. I get the usual homeschooling newsletters, Christian women encouraging each other newsletters, tree hugger newsletters and, of course, Healthy Living newsletters. This article was in the latter of these categories.

I receive a weekly (actually far more frequent than weekly) newsletter from Dr. Mercola. I'm not really certain exactly who Dr. Mercola is, but a friend recommended him and as far as my research has shown, what he says is on the money. Today I received one of his newsletters and the second article was entitled: "New Stealth Chemicals Hidden in Your Food" This caught my eye and, skipping over the first article on B12 absorption, and noting the third article on how to stop men from missing the toilet, I headed straight to find out just what is hidden in our foods... more MSG? Sodium labeled as something else??? Perhaps some GMO veggies/grains or cloned animal products... No -- this was even beyond my wildest imagination -- I can't imagine WHO thinks this stuff up, but I sure wish they'd stop!

It appears that some company (innocuously named "Senomyx") has developed some chemicals that, as I understand it, block, excite or otherwise confuse your taste buds so that things don't taste like what they're made of. This is being used to allow food to have less sodium, sugar, etc. but still seem like it tastes good... So, the food you eat can be made of, I supposed, virtually anything and it will taste good to you! And the best part is --- drum roll, please -- they don't have to list the chemical as anything more than "Artificial Flavoring." AND -- they didn't have to do much testing on the safety of the chemical, because it only take a tiny bit of it to be effective! WHAT?? Now we can't even rely on our taste buds to help us discern whether food is edible?

Well, needless to say, I checked good ol' Dr. Mercola out -- I mean, come on, certainly the FDA tests this stuff -- maybe Dr. Mercola is being alarmist. No, this is exactly what's happening... and here's how Senomyx couches it, (quoting from their Website as of April 29, 2008)
Senomyx is using proprietary taste receptor-based assays and screening technologies to discover and develop novel flavors, flavor enhancers and taste modulators for the food, beverage and ingredients industries.
Taste modulators?????


I don't know about you -- but this just sort of freaks me out! I guess it's just that this is on top of all of the unlabeled genetically modified grains that we get, the unlabeled cloned meat that is coming (ok, to be "fair" they probably won't sell actually cloned cows, but progeny of cloned cows...ewwwww) which is on top of the hormones, antibiotics and other chemicals they inject into our meats and the saline, dyes and other solutions the "butchers" at the grocery chains pump into the meats to make them look good. Not to mention the fact that virtually everything we eat is now made substantially of corn... because it's either actually made of corn, enhanced with corn syrup or fed corn. And, this all on top of the (alarmist, but possibly true) reports that surmise that mad cow disease is rampant and that virtually ALL beef world-wide is infected hereditarily and that this could be linked to Alzheimer's....

What's an eater to do???

Well, we've already gone almost totally organic. We've stopped shopping at the local "regular" grocery store and started shopping at Whole Foods, which isn't perfect, but it's better. We've planted a larger garden than we ever imagined and we'll eat off of that as much as we can. We buy organic grains (wheat, kamut, rice, oats, etc.) in bulk from a local, trusted supplier and we make our own bread. We buy raw "Pet" milk (more later about raw milk -- don't get me started!) from a dairy with grass-fed cows and we've been looking into splitting a grass-fed cow (for meat) with some friends. The only thing left is to move to a farm and raise all of my own stuff... but I'm not sure this city girl is quite ready for milking cows and swiping eggs from angry hens.

In the meantime, I'll just keep reading my weirdo newsletters and getting myself worked up and making whatever changes I can to what we eat, drink, breathe and put on our skin. And, I suppose I'll pray. That's probably the best protection from all of this insanity.

If you want more info on any of this, here are some links:
Dr. Mercola's Site
The Article Referred To Above
Senomyx's Site
Article About How Keep Men From Missing the Toilet

"The only thing that interferes with my education is my schooling" -- Albert Einstein

Friday, March 28, 2008

What's in a Name?

I'm naming the garden gnome Boisfeuillet (pronounced BO full ay)... or Sven....

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My Homeschooled, Un-Socialized, Cloistered Kids Are Running Me Silly

Can I just tell you how blessed I am?


It really just hit me as I was typing a response to an “E-vite” and having to say “maybe” to a Girls Night Out party this Friday. Not only is it amazing to me that I have friends who send me E-vites because they actually want to spend time with me, AND that I want to spend time with them – but, I have to say “maybe” because I’ll be on an all-day field trip with my sons. Yes, my home schooled, “un-socialized,” “cloistered” sons!

Between the home school ice skating day, the Tuesday and Thursday night soccer practices, the insane turn-around for Thursday night youth group, the monthly “Friday Night at the Blue Light” youth events, the Monday and Friday afternoon Martial Arts classes, the field trips, the Wednesday morning classes at COMPASS Arts (guitar and drawing) and their Wednesday afternoon classes at The Master’s Academy of Fine Arts (Art, Music, Drama and History), I barely have time to gas up the mini-van (yes, I know… mini van… what can I say?) And that’s not to mention the play dates – and, whatever you call it when your kid is 16 and is having a “play date” but you can’t call it a “play date” because they’re “too old for that.”

It warms my belly (with stifled laughter) when I tell folks that we home school and their first reaction is, “Don’t you worry about their socialization?” Have they MET my kids? I’ve not seen more social people anywhere – certainly not the teens I see hanging around the neighborhood, or that I hear screaming at their moms at the store! My kids – all three of them – can easily and appropriately (mostly) have a conversation with virtually anyone: adult, child or peer.

The other day, at one of the home school events, a home schooling friend of mine was telling me that someone said that her children are not “normal” because they’re home schooled. I thought – out loud, actually – NORMAL??? If the kids I see around are normal, I’m GLAD my kids aren’t “normal!” We aim for better than “normal!” I am blessed to be able to help mold my children into people of integrity. People who see the world through eyes of compassion, who understand the relevance of the Scripture in their daily lives and aren’t ashamed to live it (not perfectly, granted). I’m blessed with the ability to be with my children as they work through issues. As they begin to mull things over in their minds and to be able to step in, if necessary. If it’s called for, I can take my son out to the coffee house in the middle of the day and help him see through a difficult situation – no shouting, no accusations – just mom and son working through something. How awesome is that?

It’s actually a family joke with us. One of the kids will do something peculiar – could be anything – and I’ll say, “You’re so weird!” The reply is always, “I got in the right family!”

When we decided to home school I had no idea the amazing resources that are available! It runs the gamut from resources to help Annie to arts classes and field trips for the boys to support from other home school moms.

When we decided to home school Annie – which was about three days before she was set to start PS – we did so because we’d stumbled upon a wealth of information and hope for her “special needs.” We have discovered that we can tailor the curriculum and the school day to meet her needs – which I am discovering are no more or less “special” than any other child’s needs! I just wish that every mom could have the awesome experience of schooling her children! To see Annie’s face light up when she reads a word, or gets a Math problem right, or learns something new. To see her face sort of “screw up” in confusion about a new topic and then hear her work it out as she begins to talk about it. To know that she’s right on target for HER – not just for some list of standards (although, we do mind the standards and keep aware of where she stands in relation to them).

Of course, it’s especially easy to write about this right now, because all three kids are at The Master’s Academy of Fine Arts for four and a half hours! And, don’t get me wrong, there are days when I don’t feel this way, at least for a few minutes. But, that’s another entry. Today I wasn’t to focus on how blessed I am to be able to home school my kids.

"The only thing that interferes with my education is my schooling" -- Albert Einstein

Monday, March 17, 2008

Garden Gnomes, Latvia, Homeschooling and ummm something else

Okay - so here I am again, starting a new blog -- mostly because I can't remember where I put my old blog. If you know, please tell me, although I don't think there's anything of real interest there.

So, three basic areas to cover today: 1. Homeschooling, 2. Latvian Missions, 3. Give a Kid a Chance, 4. Garden gnomes. So, that's four, not three, but you'll notice a pattern here...

1. Today was a GREAT schooling day! Yes, GREAT! Sometimes schooling really stinks, sometimes it's a joy. That's life. This morning when I sat down to grade my 16-year-old twin sons' work from last week (yeah, I didn't really do a great job grading last week), they had ALL A's. What a treat. I only had a few things to send back for re-working. Woo hoo!

We use Switched on Schoolhouse for their core curriculum and it's working well, although the boys have asked for something different next year. They thought it'd be cool doing all of school on the computer. I guess they really didn't think it through to the logical conclusion that it would mean READING everything. Not sure what they were thinking.

In addition to SOS, they attend the Master's Academy of Fine Arts once a week for Art, History, Music and Drama as well as COMPASS Arts -- one for guitar and one for drawing. The boys are following in their parent's and grandparent's footsteps -- budding artists with little patience for sitting still!

Okay, so back to the GREAT schooling day. The boys both finished their work without too much fuss and even did their chores without me asking. Of course, that might have something to do with my utter meltdown at 9 a.m. when breakfast wasn't going so well and the devil got a hold of my tongue -- but I'd like to think it was out of the sheer love for school and cleaning -- I'm allowed a fantasy every once in a while!

Our dear little Annie has struggled so much with school. Just every aspect of it has caused her grief! She's confused. You see, at one point, because of her attention issues (she's been diagnosed with AD/HD -- don't EVEN write me about this if you are going to say it doesn't exist or is a cop out -- walk a mile in her shoes and THEN tell me what you think!), we really believed that we HAD to send her to public school so she could get the help she "needed." So, we began to prepare her for that. Thank the Lord (literally) we discovered that we could homeschool her and that what she "needed" was what we could offer! YAY!

So, lately she asks when she will get to go to the school with lockers. Poor little Annie, she had it in her mind that she's not getting to go to Kindergarten at the school because she doesn't know how to read. No matter how many times I tried to explain homeschooling to her, she just didn't get it. SO -- today we had a breakthrough. I think she finally gets it. She now realizes that she's learning everything she'd learn at the place with lockers PLUS a lot more. She's thrilled that she gets to go to Master's Academy and she understands that she couldn't do that if she went to PS. Also, she finally gets that MOST kindergarteners can't read -- not just her. AND that she's working on a second grade level in Math -- which she wouldn't be allowed to do in PS. So, all is good.

That sparked a renewed interest in school! She actually read a "story" today. BIG triumph. She worked diligently in her new workbook and did new spelling words for this week and new letters of the week and we even found Portugal and Latvia on the Globe -- one of her digressions in her schoolwork. It suddenly became critical that she see where Granddad's parents came from and where her brothers used to live. Then straight back to the workbook.

And that, my friends, is a GREAT Homeschooling Day!

2. Latvian Missions -- Okay, so my calling in life, in addition to being a wife and mom, is ministering to orphans in Latvia and the people who care for the orphans (Social Workers, Orphanage Directors, Foster Parents, etc.). Along with my Husband and sons, I am part of a ministry called Latvian Angels. We match each child in a children's home with a Christian sponsor who agrees to pray daily for the child, write a letter of introduction (including photos) and provides Christmas Presents for the child along with occasional correspondence. It's a cool ministry. So, we recently figured out our budget for the year (we've really been running by the seat of our pants for the first three years of the ministry). I was STUNNED, can I tell you I was floored that our budget exceeds $16,000 -- and that isn't including the Christmas gifts that the sponsors will provide. Ummmm... God's got a LOT of work to do here just to pick my jaw up off the floor -- not to mention providing the funds!

So, we're planning some fundraisers and we're confident that, like He has in the past, He will provide! First up is a traditional Latvian pankuka dinner set for April 19 at my friend Merle's house. If you're in North Metro Atlanta you're welcome to come. Adults $10, kids $5.

The picture on this post is of the Staff of Hope for Children, a great ministry in Latvia that works with orphans and kids at risk. We took them out for a dinner and brought them a gift of matching scarves... they're as goofy as we are... I'd love to show you some of the precious pictures of us with the kids, but it's not permitted by the Latvian government -- which I guess is understandable. So, you'll have to settle for HFC staffers!

3. Give a Kid a Chance -- So, a former pastor of mine always said that you should do missions abroad to learn things that you then bring back home and use. So, I guess that's what's happening now with me. I've been doing missions in Latvia and really just sort of wrote that notion off as untrue for me. BUT, it seems that for the third year in a row, I'm working as the volunteer coordinator for our HUGE outreach, Give a Kid a Chance. This is a cool thing. We provide every child in need that lives in our county with what they need to start school -- backpack, school supplies, a haircut, dental, medical and chiropractic screenings, clothing, etc. Way cool. So, we're ramping up and meeting each week and really, instead of typing this hideously long Blog entry, I SHOULD be e-mailing volunteers....

4. Garden Gnomes. Don't know why, but I have a thing for garden gnomes. I'm not really into kitschy things in general. I usually like abstract and folks art -- not things like... garden gnomes... but there's just something about those little buggers that makes me smile. So, I finally broke down and bought one!

It all started with my daughter letting the neighbor's giant black lab into our yard. You see, she does this and she's not supposed to. She KNOWS she's not supposed to. She does it any way. So, I'd finally had it -- the LAST straw -- I sent her to her room, notified my son that he was on "Annie Duty" and headed to Home Depot to fix this issue.

After buying chicken wire (to bury in the ground around the fence where the dog and Annie both dig, creating a hole for him to climb through), Prickly bushes (to deter both girl and dog from coming near the fence), Top Soil (to fill in all of the holes the two of them have dug), and a hasp and lock (so the "gate" between our yards can't be opened by anyone without the combination) I was pooped! And, none too happy that my time and money was going into fixing such an inane problem. As I stomped out of the garden section, there he was -- smiling at me -- this little garden gnome holding a wooden sign that said "Hi." Well... now he's at home and for some crazy reason that small amount of retail therapy allowed me come home with a good attitude and be excited about the improvements we're going to make to the yard!

I suppose he needs a name....

So, hideously long blog entry one -- over and out.

"The only thing that interferes with my education is my schooling" -- Albert Einstein