What Kind of Peanuts?

*Disclaimer:  Those of you who know me will probably just laugh and shake your heads.  Those of you who don't know me may wonder why I'm allowed to homeschool my children...  

I met Nate in college. It was my sophomore year and his junior year.  We were both living on campus in separate dorms. We liked each other a lot and tried our best to eat lunch together every single day.

It was one of those daily "lunch dates", when I finally questioned aloud the little yellow sign taped to the front of the cafeteria window.

The sign said, "May Contain Peanuts".

Now, any normal person would know the sign's purpose. But I am not normal. Nor am I all that bright at times.

I turned to Nate and said, "What exactly is a May Contain Peanut?"

He turned to me and stared.  Crickets chirped.

Somehow, he overlooked my ridiculous question and eventually married me. I think he was secretly impressed that I could think outside of the box...

Or he felt sorry for me.

Either way, I'm glad he didn't make too much fun of me, unless you count the time that he took that little yellow sign from the cafeteria and taped it to my door. Thief.

Moral of the story? If you can't understand a sign, don't ask. Just forget about it.

I love this man!

Ever Been Stranded on a Raft?

My parents live about 2 hours away, so when they visit they will occasionally stay. 
(This is sounding rather like a bad poem.  No more rhymes now, I mean it.  Anybody want a peanut?  ;) Okay...on with the story!)

One evening we blew up the air mattress for my parents.  We didn't (and still don't) have a guest room, so the living room has had to suffice.  We all said goodnight, and Nate and I went upstairs.

At some point in the deep, dark hours, I needed to go downstairs to get something.  Afraid I was going to wake up my parents, I tiptoed as quietly as I could.  But even before I reached the bottom of the steps, I heard a faint calling. 

"Help... help... Is anyone out there?  Help..." 

It was my dad.  What in the world was wrong?  Was he talking in his sleep?  I quietly moved closer. 

"Help... Someone?  Anyone?  We're stranded on a raft and it's cold!"

I about wet my pants I was laughing so hard!  Thankfully they were laughing as well.  My poor parents.  We had turned the heat down before bed as we normally did, but had forgotten to take into account how chilly it would feel on a "raft", out in the middle of Living Room Bay, in the winter, with only a couple of light blankets. 

We learned our lesson and have become a little more gracious in our hosting.  We sleep on the air mattress, let our guests sleep in our bed, and make sure we turn the heat up!



Because of a Cousin/Best Friend

I'm pretty excited as I type this because I recently finished something I didn't know I'd be able to do so soon.  I read an entire chapter book to Jonny and he actually listened, asked questions and...drum roll please... enjoyed it!  Amazing.

I started reading chapter books to Emilia when she was 2, so you can imagine my surprise when along comes Jonny who doesn't want to sit and listen to long, boring, picture-less chapter books.

A couple weeks ago, I thought I'd give it another go.  He and I were quietly alone.  A rarity indeed.  About two or three pages into Farmer Boy, Jonny interrupted me.

"How long is this going to take?"  He didn't quite moan because he knew I was excited.  Kind boy.

"Oh, not too long.  I'll only read a chapter.  Don't you want to know what those mean boys will do to the teacher?"  I'm coaxing him.  Trying to appeal to his boyish interests, which center on righteous things like... fighting. 

He reluctantly agrees to listen some more.  We make it through a chapter, but I've never seen a boy jump up so fast when I close the book.  You'd think I was reading...oh, I don't know...instructions on how to crochet a large afghan. 

Later, I got a call from my sister-in-law, Juliet, who happens to be the mother of Jonny's bestest cousin/friend in the whole world.  Jadon and Jonny were born a week apart and they are inseparable (when they're together, which isn't that often because they live 2 hours apart). 

In this phone conversation with Juliet, I found out that my mom had been reading My Side of the Mountain to Jadon.  I happen to own that book and quickly located it on my shelf. 

Once off the phone, I animatedly told Jonny that Jadon and Grandma were reading this same book and Jadon really likes it.  Jonny's eyes immediately lit up as he grabbed it out of my hand.  "When can we start reading it?!"  He was smiling.  He was actually excited about a chapter book!  I couldn't believe it!  I shouldn't have been so surprised.  Those boys could get excited about collecting broken pencil leads if they find out the other has that as a new hobby.

I wasn't about to waste time.  Scrapping any plans I had for the day (which, if you know me, isn't that hard for me to do), I immediately sat down and started reading My Side of the Mountain to Jonny.  I finished a chapter.  He asked for more.  I finished another chapter.  He asked for more.  Glory, glory!  We finished that book in a week.  

Jonny will turn 6 in mid February.  It took him a little longer than his sister, but I think he may have caught the chapter book bug.  At least, I hope so.  What fun to see him delighting in a book... 

Even if only because of his cousin. 

Now I just have to find out what book Jadon will read next.  ;)


My Homeschool Thoughts in 2007

Looking through some old homeschool files today, I found something I had written up back in Oct. 2007, when our oldest was only 3!

The book I had been reading (can't remember which one) asked these thoughtful questions:

"If there were no laws about education... What do I want my children to learn?  How should learning happen?  How do I want to 'run my school'?  How much time do I have to plan and prepare?  How much money can I spend?  How will my religious beliefs impact my homeschooling?"

The answers I'd give to these questions today in 2012, with 2 1/2 years of "official" homeschooling under my belt, would be almost exactly the same!

I knew way back then that I wanted our kids to, first and foremost, love God and others.

Then I wanted them to...

(In no particular order)
Know practical life skills.
Enjoy reading and read well.
Become good workers.
Develop a love of learning.
Be able to listen to, learn about, think through, and debate/discuss ideas and philosophies with others.
Be exposed to the arts and many other subjects to see what it is that they enjoy and what God may be preparing for them.

I'm so glad I kept these notes.  It's comforting to see how the Lord has led and is leading in our homeschooling journey.


Just saw this short video and wanted to share it.



An Unusual Dinner

One night I didn't feel like cooking, so I pulled out some random food and called it "dinner".

Emilia carefully arranged the food on her plate and then showed me what she had made.

Any guess what it is?

Well, if it helps, we've been learning about the digestive and renal systems in Apologia Anatomy.

That carrot hanging down under the ranch dressing bladder is the rectum.  Yup.

I'm glad she's learning something (although a couple things are misplaced, like the pecan kidneys ;)).  I'm just not sure I want to think about my renal system while I'm eating.

But it didn't bother her. :)

Prayer Requests

Last night I wrote two blog posts that I scheduled to be posted - one tonight and one tomorrow night.

But before those are posted, I wanted to ask for prayers for three families that I know.

My friend, Colleen, just lost a baby in the womb.
Another friend, Judi, just lost her dad to a stroke.
And my Pastor, Jeff, is in the ICU with bleeding on the brain.

Please pray.

Thank you,


Henry VIII and His Poor Wives

We just finished learning about the awful fates of most of Henry the Eighth's wives in The Mystery of History.

Trying to remember the stories of each of his six wives can be a daunting task, but this history program has a great project idea for recalling these ladies.

Emilia really enjoyed the process of making this game/memory box and she loved quizzing her dad and I.

Her outfit and hair have nothing to do with this lesson.  She just wanted to be this for the day...

I almost skipped a project for this lesson because it was a rather long lesson by itself and we all know that projects take time and make messes.  I am so glad that I didn't skip it.  By making this box with the fact cards inside, I'm quite certain she has retained much more than she ever would have if we had only read the text and discussed it.

FYI:  #1: Divorced   #2: Beheaded   #3: Died giving birth   #4: Divorced   #5: Beheaded   #6: Outlived Henry (Whew!)

I'm keeping this box out on the counter as a reminder of the excitement she had while doing this lesson.  Because, although the book itself really is an interesting read, there's just something about creating that helps the brain make connections.

And there's just something that kids enjoy about making messes.  :)

A Rare Moment (Video)

It's rare when there is a silent daytime moment at our house. Today, it was so quiet (for a minute or two) that I could hear the wind whistling outside.   I had forgotten that one could hear the wind during the day.  :)

 (And yes, that is Jonny not wearing a shirt (or socks) in our frigid house.) 


A Date with My Little Man

I took my sweet, snugly, oh so kissable, almost 4 year old on a date to McDonalds for lunch.  Picking him up out of the car, I asked if he wanted me to carry him in through the wet slush, wondering if he was "too big".  He wasn't.

We ordered and walked to his choice of a booth where I sat across from him.  Looking directly into his bright blue eyes that shone with excitement, I grinned as he gobbled his chicken nuggets and savored his M&M rainbow-stained ice cream.

Sometime between the gobbling and the savoring, I noticed them.

50 something with salt and pepper streaked hair.  Listening, smiling.
20 something with dark hair.  Animatedly talking.
Both had the same straight nose and long legs.
A mother and her son.

She smiled at us, her eyes moist.  Possibly remembering when that son was almost 4, at McDonalds with a rainbow stain on the front of his shirt.

We locked eyes, understanding.  In that moment I could hear a mother's heart.

Soak it in.  He's growing up fast.  Keep dating him, making him feel special.  Keep loving him.  Keep learning about him.  Keep listening...

I watched her sip her coffee and listen, as if she had all the time in the world, while her son shared and shared and shared.  I want to be like that.  Sipping, listening, learning, loving.


We got up to leave, and I asked if he wanted me to carry him.  No, he'd walk this time.  He put his hand in mine and we walked.  Together.



Understanding Mr. Rogers

While watching "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" when I was a kid, I always wondered why, upon entering the house, he would remove his shoes and coat, and immediately don another coat and another pair of shoes.  It seemed absurd to me, but eventually I didn't question it.  I just chalked it up to that weird thing that Mr. Rogers always did. 

Now I totally understand. 

If you come to my house, you may want to bring an indoor pair of shoes and a cardigan.

My extra-frugal husband had been hinting since we got married that we should keep the heat lower than 70 degrees in our house.  I was the one staying home all day and I was used to a 70 degree house, but I thought I'd try to save us some money and turn the heat down to 68 during the days.  Helpful, wasn't I? ;)  This lasted for a number of years.

Then we started preparing for the day he was going to quit his steady job and start his own business (doing the same stuff that he was previously doing).  We revamped our budget, cutting out some things to see how frugally we could live in case we didn't get a paycheck for a substantial amount of time.

Being the kind soul he is, he never once suggested we turn the heat down because he knew I liked a warm house.  But one day he came home to a red nosed, bundled up wife.  I decided I'd try to turn the heat down to 60 degrees.  After all, 60 degrees feels mighty warm after a cold winter, so how cold could it really be?

Let me tell you...COLD.

However, the human body is an amazing thing.  This is our second winter living in 60 degrees and I'm (mostly) used to it.  My fingers still get cold and my nose is even cold right now, but if I stay moving, I'm pretty warm.  In fact, whenever we go to another house, we're often embarrassed by the redness of our cheeks and the perpetual sweating that occurs because 68 degrees, to us, is HOT.  

You may be wondering how the kids do with the lack of heat?  They run around barefoot, sometimes wearing "muscle shirts" (Jonny) and leotards (Emilia).  Yes, they're way less affected than I am - shivering if I've forgotten the extra layers.

So, if you're ever coming to our house, pretend you're Mr. Rogers, and bring a warm cardigan and indoor shoes.

"Won't ya be my neighbor?"


Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Today happens to be Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

We read some books about the history of our country, including one on slavery, so the kids could put Martin Luther King's life into perspective. 

We also watched Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream Speech".  You can watch it here.

They asked some good questions, trying to make sense of American history (and life) in light of a Biblical worldview.


Now this is Winter!

I declared a Snow Day for our homeschool today.  It's hard to concentrate on reading, writing, and sums when THIS appears overnight!  Quite a bit different than just seven days ago.  It's been such a mild winter so far. 

I shared this good news with the children.

"We're going to have a Snow Day today!"

They looked outside and then at me with a confused expression.  "Yeah, we know."

Pretty sure they thought their mother was losing it.  Yes mother, we can see that it is a snowy day out there. 

Once I explained what "Snow Day" meant ("We're not going to do school stuff today!"), they were super excited.  Oh these homeschooled kids...(shaking head).  ;)

Here's the CORRECT response to "It's a Snow Day!"

Emilia decided we needed to make "snow cream".

Tommy's face cracks me up.  He really was delightful this morning, but apparently not at this exact moment.  :)

It's been a laid back, relaxed kind of a day. 

I think they're going to be begging for "Snow Days" with each snowfall.  :)


Maple Sugaring

Last year we were in the midst of tapping our trees and making the most wonderful syrup ever (I'm not kidding, it's delectable).  My sis-in-law, Amber, had recently started her blog and asked if I'd write a post about the maple sugaring process (I hadn't started this blog yet).  You can read my post at her site here.

This season I'd like to tap more trees.  I thought we made quite a bit of syrup last year, but we had to be a little stingy to make it through until now.  Not too long ago we pulled out our final jar of the golden sticky sweetness.  Hopefully it will pull us through the final months until we can begin, again, the process of changing the clear, watery liquid into pure goodness.  Amazing isn't it?  God's creation...


This Moment in Our Day

Trying to finish my coffee before it's cold.

Emilia and Jonny playing Connect Four.  Matthew watching. 

 Baby (not so much of a baby anymore...) napping. 

Already done:  Bible time, a little math, a little reading, a lot of other necessary stuff that takes time...

Still to do:  More math, more reading, spelling, language lessons, copywork, science, this online keyboard typing game for kids, loving on these four wonderful children, savoring this spring-like day in January, thanking the Lord for His goodness in my life...

Oops...my coffee is cold.


Two Pages

Today I sandwich myself between Jonny and Emilia on the couch.

We're going to read their science textbook and, although I can't remember exactly, this is pretty much how it goes...

Read a line.  Tommy's whining.  He wants up, but he doesn't.  Tell Tommy to play with a car.  Read a word.  Tell Matthew to play cars with Tommy.  Read a line.  Tommy's still whining.  Matthew makes a car jump and it hits me in the leg.  Read a word or two.  Tommy does not want to play cars.  He wants to whine.  Matthew crawls up on my lap.  Read a couple words.  Read a word while Matthew wiggles and wiggles and wiggles.  Ask Matthew if he has to go to the bathroom.  Of course he doesn't.  Read a line while Jonny and Emilia are giggling at Tommy who now has Emilia's baby doll.  Read a word or two.  Emilia is up getting her doll.  Tommy wants the doll.  The boys are laughing.  I'm still attempting to force the line out of my mouth despite the pandemonium.  All of the sudden I stop reading words and we are all laughing and singing.  The uproar is deafening.  Tommy is now standing loudly on my lap.  Matthew is wild on the other side of the couch.  I'm pretty sure Jonny is attempting to tackle me like I'm a football player.  The baby doll is still the prized possession.  I resume reading after the baby doll is hidden and when I tell everyone to "be quiet" and "sit still" or "you can go to your room".

Finally we read two pages.

A whole two pages.

And it wears.me.out.

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