Friday, March 28, 2008

Lost in the Swamps: Part 3

Part two of Lost in the Swamps left us standing on the threshold of our hotel room; tired, cold and hungry. Sounds like a typical family vacation, doesn’t it?

Once the 12 year old check-in girl used an actual metal key to open our door, we were so happy we could have cried in fact I think some of us may just have shed tears.

Sir D was the first in the room, (don’t think him too unchivalrous, he was holding the cooler full of heavy food). He paused about 3 feet in the door, just behind check-in girl and says “What’s that horrible smell? We asked for a Non smoking room?”

The poor overwhelmed 12 year old check-in girl replied sheepishly “This is a non smoking room.”

Sir D replied that he was pretty sure that stench was the smell of smoke, and further more, smoke from something that was not legal in all states save California.

It was bad my friends. It was as if Pepe Le Pu had hosted a little party in there with his aromatic friends and they had been doing a little smoking of the not-quite-legal variety.

“We can’t sleep in here.” Sir D states calmly and matter of factly to the check in girl. All I can think is; O Heavenly Day, we’re going to die of starvation in Houston!

“Do you have any other rooms?” Sir D asks.

“Well, this was our last non smoking room; I can show you the two smoking rooms we have left.” Sir D just stared at her.

“I am not sure you can keep referring to this room as a Non Smoking room.” He states. She smiles. They chuckle.

“HAY! I AM WAISTING AWAY HERE! AND THE CHILDREN ARE ALREADY ON DEATHS DOOR! CAN WE NOT STAND AROUND AND CHUCKLE?” My brain screamed, but since I had been praying all the way from Galveston for the Lord to put a guard on my tongue, it did not actually make it out of my mouth.

Sir D took one look at me (because perhaps I whimpered instead of letting those words out) and sent us ALL back to the van. He and the check-in girl were going to go check out the other rooms and see if any of them smelled less like a skunk party.

On my way down the stairs, Sir D stopped me and told me to eat some of the peanut butter crackers.

Once I got in the car I tried to remember when the last time I had eaten was. I was having trouble. The brain was a little foggy. I recall eating a late breakfast at about 10am right before we left the beach house. I recall drinking lots of diet coke and bottled water. I recall throwing food at my offspring all day; but I could not recall actually ingesting any of it myself. Hummm, perhaps I am experiencing low blood sugar. This would explain my lack of ability to deal with life in general and my inability to think straight, and my incredible need for a bed at 8:30pm.

I grabbed some peanut butter crackers and ate them myself this time.

Feeling slightly more alert, I was somewhat prepared for what Sir D had to say when he got in the car. I could tell by the look on his face that the news was not good.

Apparently the skunk party had used several rooms; all of them were the only ones left. Odd coincidence don’t you think?

We got in the van again, only this time we had no real destination. We spent the day in the van driving, driving, driving, but at least we had a destination, a place to aim. We are now without hope, without direction. We are all going to die in Houston. (Yeah, the peanut butter cracker did not help as much as I had hoped.)

Sir D drove closer to the Space Station so we could find a hotel. Even thought the 12 year old check-in girl said we’d have better luck finding a hotel on the moon since it was Spring break, Sir D was undaunted. It was not so much that he really wanted to go the Space Center tomorrow as he did not want to drive the 4 hours it would take to get home, tonight.

He pulled up to the Motel 6 that was just down the street from the Space Center. I did not believe they would have a room, and anyway…eeeeewwwww! It’s a Motel 6 on Spring Break.

Of course, they did have a room. The check in lady (this time she was over 12) gave Sir D the keys to all three of the available rooms and we got to go check them out ourselves. We pick the best of the three.

It was not great but at this point, who cared? We stuck our stuff in the hotel and Sir D said we were going to eat at the Chinese buffet the check in lady had told him about since it was now 9:30 and I think he knew I was beyond preparing even a ham sandwich at that point. (I’m bet he’s re thinking the cost of those snacks in the gas station right about now)

We ate. Ann did not have an allergic reaction which was a huge blessing. We did ask the manager to point out what had no dairy but let’s just say there was a bit of a language barrier. She ate mostly fresh fruit and meat.

We got back to the hotel room, spent an eternity taking turns with the single sink and potty. And finally, blessedly, we got into bed. I think the floor would have been more comfortable, but surely I’m tired enough that it won’t matter.

Turns out, all that diet Coke was not a good idea.

I laid in that yucky bed (thought we had brought our own sheets and blankets so I wasn’t totally grossed out) and thought of all the news shows I’d seen about bed bugs, and drug resistant staff bacteria, and all the other things they find in hotel rooms. I listened to Sir D snore like a train. I listen to Eve flop all over (I’ll never understand how she can move so much in her sleep.

Then I listened to the people upstairs walk, and walk, and walk. Good grief, were they training for a marathon? Then they finally settled down and got in bed. The noises I started hearing then I am unable to describe as this is a G rated blog. I was just glad my kids were sleeping soundly.

We did survive, we did sleep, we did get to eat, and we did not die in Houston. We even managed to get to the Space Center and have a fairly good time the next day.

However, I don’t think I can ever return to Houston. I think Houston simply holds to many bad memories. I get twitchy just thinking about it.

And I want you to know, I boiled those sheets…twice.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Lost in the Swamp: Part 2

In the last episode of Lost in the Swamps (Anyone else hearing those guys from the Muppets saying “LOST…IN…SPACE! when I say that?) we were, interestingly enough, lost in the swamps. Well not so much lost as we knew exactly where we were, we were just not where we wanted to be.

The sun is hanging low in the horizon when we finally reach the outskirts of Houston, coming in from the East side. (Remember, Galveston Island is south of Houston, yet we entered Houston from the East, we’re real bright like that) The kids are still hungry and plotting mutiny as we pull into a gas station. The Mother Ship needed refueling.

I went in with our children who sang the Halleluiah Chorus when their feet stepped out onto the land. Because I am a good and kind mom I offered to buy them a snack in the gas station. I knew that it would be a while before we got to the hotel and could eat the picnic we had packed for our lunch-that-never-happened. Once we all went potty and had picked out our snacks Sir D came into the gas station. He told the kids to put back their snacks, we’re almost there and he didn’t want to pay for snacks when we had a cooler full of food in the car that we can eat as soon as we get there. Clearly, Sir D lives in his own optimistic world of time.

I put the disgruntled children back in the Mother Ship, threw more apples and peanut butter crackers at them and we headed off.

Keep in mind, it is now rush hour. Which in Houston is anywhere from 3pm-8pm as it turns out. We drove our way, ever so slowly, through Houston and found the Space Center. YIPPEE! We know where we need to be…tomorrow!

We know that the non-smoking hotel room we booked is only 5 or so miles away from the Space Center. It seems, whoever measured the distance from the Space Center to the hotel, does not use standard American measurements and must inhabit his own world of distance. I do believe it was 15 miles and we did them all going approximately 5 miles per hour.

At long and merry last, we found the hotel. I believe it is 8:30pm. We have been in the van for a sweet forever and we just want some stinking food!

We go check in and the lady gives us our keys, or the stupid plastic, credit card things that pass for keys these days. We head up the THREE flights of stairs (that are outside the building because it is a classy place and all) all with our belongings for the night and the blessed cooler. It is now quite chilly since the sun has gone down and the wind has picked up and we are all dressed in shorts and t-shirts, but we are almost there, we are on the threshold, dinner and a bed are right on the other side of that door.

Oh, Lord have mercy on us all…the key will not work on the door. Sir D tried it. I tired it. Even the boys tried it. NO Workie! Sir D sent Bob back down to the front desk which, if it were any further away from where we were, would have been in another hotel, to get the check-in girl.

Bob comes back up the three flights of stairs sans the check-in girl. He says the check-in girl said to hold the door just so, put in the card, turn the knob, pull the card out, do the hokey pokey and turn yourself about, and viola! The door will open.

If you’ve read this far I think you know that didn’t work.

Sir D, who is trying really hard to hold it together and be happy and optimistic and all ‘WE’RE ON VACATION! IT’LL ALL BE OKAY! DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY!’ is starting to show cracks in has happy armor.

I however finished pretending there was anything remotely fun and vacation like about this day, and am just ready to go home.

I said to Sir D, that if we get in the car now we can be home in 4 hours. I’ll help drive. I just want to go home. Houston is hell and I don’t want to be here anymore. I do believe there may have been some sniffling and lower lip protrusion.

Sir D, who is no longer feigning glee replies, “We have made it this far. We are on the 1 yard line. The rest of our vacation is on the other side of that door and we are not giving up now!”

Because he thinks those sports analogies always work, he grabbed the keys from Bob and headed back to find the check-in girl.

I sat on the steps and wept. (not really, but I felt like it)

Back comes Sir D with the Check-in girl. She holds the door just so, puts in the card, turns the knob, pulls the card out, does the hokey pokey and turns herself about, and the door does not open. (I have to say that was some real vindication right there.)

She pulls out her master key, puts it in the lock, turns, and like magic, the door blessedly opens. My bed! I can see it! Praise the Lord and pass the cooler! But wait, not so fast…what is that horrible odor?

My friends, I am sad to say our day did not end there, we were not as it turned out, at the one yard line. There were literally miles to go before I slept.
Tune in tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lost in the Swamps!

Today I will tell you about our trip from our beach house near Galveston to our hotel in Houston. What is there to tell, it is only a 30 minute trip? You might ask. You have obviously not met Sir D.

You know that stereotype about men not asking for directions? Yeah, very much NOT my husband. Sir D is all about asking the locals. Mostly it works out well for us. Anytime we’re in a new place he’ll stop and ask a local where the best place to eat/shop/get gas or whatever is, and we get the good info. He’s been known to stop at a Biker Bar and ask the Harley riders out front where the next gas station is. I have to say that was the friendliest bunch of scary looking people I’ve ever seen.

Sometimes, however, like our ill conceived trip to Houston, it backfires.

Here’s the story. We wanted to take the kids on the ferry. The ferry goes from Galveston Island to the Bolivar Peninsula. From there you can continue driving on to Louisiana, or you can turn back and go back over the same ferry again and then take the bridge back to the mainland, which takes you to Houston in approximately 30 to 45 minutes depending on traffic. Or you can drive ALL THE WAY around the bay or inlet or whatever they call it, back to Houston. Sir D had heard, from a local, that there was another ferry crossing the bay that we could take so we wouldn’t have to drive all the way around the bay.

Turns out…notsomuch true.

We drove all the way up the Bolivar Peninsula, until we were within about 30 miles of Louisiana. For those of you not familiar with the area, that is directly the WRONG WAY as we wanted to go to Houston, which I may have mentioned was THE OTHER WAY.

So we drove and drove and drove and finally headed north. We stopped in to visit the gas station (as it was the only building around) in Smith Point where the lovely local informed Sir D that he’d gone just a teensy bit out of his way and it was going to take him ‘quite a little while’ to get to Houston from here. And I do believe there was some snickering when Sir D put forth the question about a second ferry. Who would ride this imaginary ferry? The two inhabitants of Smith Point?

We now know our fate, and we commence to driving; a bit faster than I am comfortable in a 12 passenger van on very narrow and bumpy old roads.

I want to pause in the telling of this story to point out our surroundings for you to fully understand the urgency that has come upon Sir D. I felt like I had suddenly been transported back home to Kansas; field after field as far as the eye can see.

Then a cove of trees, then more fields. But I noticed something funny; strange birds floating on the fields. Odd. How do they do that? Oh, wait. I then realize these are not fields at all, but swamps! Truly!

I saw a man in his front yard in a boat! It looked, at first glance, like his boat is gliding on the grass in his front yard. Upon closer inspection I realize that his front yard is a green swamp just like the above photo!

I am thinking that if we open the door of our van, the mosquitoes will swoop down and carry us off like the monkeys in the Wizard of Oz. No WAY am I opening those doors, I don’t care how much my offspring says they have to go potty!

So there we are, driving in the middle of swampy no where. The kids are starving because instead of feeding them the picnic lunch like we planed, we just kept throwing peanut butter crackers, apples and bottled water at them all afternoon. The sun is beginning to set, the kids are hungry again and we’re 1000 miles from nowhere to borrow a phrase from the great Dwight Yoakam. Not exactly what we planned for our day.

It gets better folks! Tune in tomorrow for the continuing saga of Lost in the Swamps!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Books and Birthdays!

My sister’s birthday was yesterday. I ordered her this book series. I have read this book series and it is very good. It is what I like to call creepy-clean.

I am admitting, here in this public forum, that I occasionally like a psycho killer book. Please don’t think me deranged (at least not because of what I read when there are so many other examples to choose from) but they must be clean. I can’t stand cursing or gore or, well, other weird stuff you find in non clean psycho killer books.

Back to my sisters birthday. I thought to myself that if I ordered them used, I could afford to order all 4 books in the series and have them sent directly to her house for half the price. Brilliant!

So that is what I did. She is my sister after-all. Sisters can buy each other used books! Really!

Know what I forgot to do when I ordered them? Yep, I forgot to have them shipped to HER HOUSE! I am paying to have them shipped to my house, and then I am going to pay to have them shipped again to my sister’s house.

Some days my level of idiocy astounds even me.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Day the Sea Vomited Jellyfish.

When we first got to the beach on Sunday, you will remember that we immediately ran out in the surf and stuck our feet in the ocean. What was quite shocking though is how little beach there was to run on.

Two years ago when we were there we would go across the dunes on a cute little wooden bridge, and then run the 30 to 40 yards to get to the water. Not so this time. This time we crossed the bridge and ran the 3 to 5 FEET it took to get to the ocean.

The ocean, it was angry that day. This photo does not really do it justice. There was wind and foam and spray and huge waves, all things one definitely does not expect to see in the Gulf of Mexico, at least not along the Texas coastline.

After we got settled in the beach house we grabbed our beach paraphernalia and headed across the beach.

We had no where to set up except the dunes, so that is where we put our chairs. I got comfy, or as comfy as one can get while sitting on sand dunes in 40 mph winds with sea spray in my face, and it was COLD by the way. The kids immediately ran into the ocean in their swimsuits, because if you’re under 18 you do not feel the cold.

There Sir D and I are, happy as clams watching our offspring enjoy the beauty that is God’s creation when I began to notice something strange in the dunes after the sea foam dissipated. Something blue and jelly like. No, it was not a pan of blueberry jello someone dumped into the ocean as someone who is defiantly not me might have originally thought.

It was a jellyfish. Or, more accurately, many, many jellyfish. And upon further inspection of the dunes, we realized that not only where there jellyfish of the blue variety, but we had some larger, transparent ones in the dunes as well.

The sea was vomiting jellyfish. The same sea that my beloved children were currently frolicking in. Hummm, Perhaps frolicking in jellyfish laden surf was unwise, nay even reckless.

I suggested to Sir D that perhaps we should get our offspring to come out of the dangerous water. Sir D, who was raised in the jungles of New Guinea, thought that would spoil their fun. I, who was raised in mid America, thought a Jellyfish sting would spoil their fun. Sir D won.

Because the Lord is in his Heaven and apparently it was not my children’s day to get stung, they managed to dodge jellyfish, and have a great time.

I have decided that from the moment children are born. The child and the father conspire together to find ways to live recklessly and shorten everyone’s life expectancy. The only reason anyone lives beyond the teen years is because of mothers.

Forget Mothers Day, I think we need a mothers week!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

He is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed!

Christ Arose!

Low in the grave He lay, Jesus my Savior,
Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Vainly they watch His bed, Jesus my Savior;
Vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Death cannot keep its prey, Jesus my Savior;
He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Busy, Busy, Dreadfully Busy...

Today Sir D and Ann went to the big orange place that takes all of our money in the name of home improvement.

They began checking out with lots of lots of ivy to plant in the places where we have been unable to grow grass in the 5 years we have lived here. (we are a stupid persistent people).

Sir D looked down at Ann, our beloved baby, the last born. He lovingly said to her. “You want to help daddy plant Ivy, sweetheart?”

“Well, Daddy, I’m quite busy today. I have a lot of things on my schedule, but I guess I can help you if you really need me.”

Several people who were in line stopped to look at my little Ann, and they snickered.

Where’d my baby go?

These lyrics were going through my head when I Sir D told me this.

I’m busy, busy, dreadfully busy
You’ve no idea what I have to do.
Busy, busy, shockingly busy
Much, much too busy for you.

Nothing like your own bed!

I went to bed last night at 10pm. I got up this morning at 10am. For those of you not too savvy with the numbers, that is 12 hours of sleep.

I told you I was tired.

Here are some photos of the sun coming up that Bob took for me. Bob knows the chances of me seeing the sun come up are slim to none, especially on vacation.

We stayed up too many nights talking with Sir D's brother and his wife about very important and world changing things, like if you really do pee on a jellyfish sting.

One night we stayed up till 2 am. We almost had the whole Palestinian/Israeli thing worked out, but we decided we'd better get to bed.

Monday I'll tell of 'The Day the Sea Vomited Jellyfish.' Until then, enjoy your Easter!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Back From the Sea!

We are home.

I am tired, and I am sunburned as one would expect after a week at the beach, but I feel great!

What a wonderful vacation!

Galveston is a great place except that you have to drive through hell Houston to get there. hell Houston takes an inordinantly LONG TIME to drive through.

This is the first thing I did when I got out of the car.

Then I made my kids to it for this photo, because I just think feet in the sand is the coolest thing.

Look at these great kids!

This was the first day; before jellyfish, sunburns, too many sweet and not enough sleep; back when they still liked each other.

Oh, I have tales for you. Tales of the sea. But

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Tomorrow the BEACH!!!

But first I must get up at the horrible hour of 5 (yeah, did you know 5 happens twice a day? Me neither!) and cage all of my children into the car that is packed so full that you’d think we’re driving to Montana instead of Galveston (which is, consequently, in the same state we live in).

I have packed, sorted, cleaned, checked, double checked and triple checked. Then loaded some more.

Now I am going to bed. Whatever I forgot we’ll just have to live without. I’m not too worried about it. We’ll pass a minimum of 10 or 250 Wal-Marts between here and there; we can always buy something if we need it.

So things will be quiet here on the Hilltop for a week. Have a good spring break!

Sand and sun, here I come!

Let My People Go!

You know that last day before you leave town? The Day of the Errand, we like to call it around here.

There are many things to do like,

1. Take back books to my library that are not renewable.

2. Take back video to the other library someone loaned me, because they would be angry with me if they had to pay a fine and wouldn’t lend me things their library lends them anymore.

3. Go buy food to pack.

4. Take fish to friend’s house so they will be fed.

5. Put great gobs of gas, equaling the amount of the National Debt, into the Mother Ship in preparation for our trip.

6. Go by the bank to get money to use to put gas in the Mother Ship. (should probably do this before I do #5)

7. Go by the dollar store to buy little containers to hold the medicine in the medicine cabinet that is currently in a laundry basket after I went postal yesterday while trying to find some Advil and emptied all the vitamin/medicine/first aid stuff into a basket to be organized and sorted. (why oh why do I start projects like this right before we are about to leave town?)

8. Go pick up the Rottweiler and very big, mean, Marine who owns said vicious dog, who will be staying in our house and protecting all our stuff from possible marauders while we’re enjoying our beach vacation.

9. Try not to kill my children or my husband while I run these errands.

Sir D has his own list of similar ‘must do’ items to accomplish to day. He took three of our offspring with him. They all had to come back inside to get something they forgot before he could pull of the driveway.

I believe I heard Sir D mutter under his breath as he walked out the door for the third time “If I were Moses, I’d have just left them in the desert.”

Perhaps it is a good thing God did not call Sir D to lead his people out of Egypt, he gets frustrated just trying to lead his people to the beach.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Mount Laundry

I have scaled Mount Laundry! I have reached the summit. I have conquered what was once stinky, sweaty, and dirty and have made it clean and fresh with a faint sent of lavender.

But even more amazing than my triumph over Mount Laundry; is the fact that not only did it all get clean but it also got put away! (Here is where the mountain analogy gets lost, but you can only take a word picture so far)

I can’t remember the last time the laundry was ALL CLEAN AND PUT AWAY. I think it may have been sometime in late 1990 (in case you’re counting, that is slightly before I became a wife and mother.)

Tomorrow we pack!

I dream of blogs.

Does anyone remember Lindsey; she used to have the blog Just Enjoy The Journey? She shut down her blog a few months ago. I know!

Anyway, I had a dream last night that I went and visited her. She and her family were living in a tiny wood framed house. It was nicely decorated on the inside, but a mess on the outside. I think she used to refer to it as the ‘crack house’. It was a place they were renting temporarily after they sold their house.

In my dream she and her family were very nice, but she always had a smile on her face exactly like the photo that was on her blog. It was kinda creepy, like the Joker smile. I think perhaps that is because I only saw that photo of her and my brain only had that image to choose from when creating my dream Lindsey (that sounded weird! But you know what I mean.)

Then Sir D showed up and we had dinner with her and her family, and then we all got in little go carts (I have no idea) to go somewhere. We were following Lindsey and her family and we lost them. They disappeared on the highway (perhaps a parallel to the information superhighway?) and we never saw them again.

What does it mean when you start dreaming about people you only know in blogland? I think I might need psychotherapy. Or chocolate. Or a vacation.

I think I’ll choose the last one. I need a good beach vacation!

2 days left!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Of Flip Flops and Lent

Bob gave up flip flops for Lent.

I don’t know why this cracks me up so much but it does.

I can’t decide which is funnier; the fact that he gave up flip flops for Lent or the fact that Lent happens in Feb-March and he misses his flop flops, or that I noticed he was wearing real shoes and not flip flops, as it happens so rarely.

Somehow I wonder if our first attempt at observing Lent is quite what our Spiritual forefathers had in mind, but hay, you’ve got to start somewhere right, and why not start with footwear?

The Beach!

4 days until we leave for the beach!

I am equal parts joyful anticipation; because, you know, the beach! and terror; because, you know, the lycra spandex! (and I am absolutely certain that my high school English teacher would go into pickled fits if she saw the punctuation in that sentence, but I am no longer in high school and I have the freedom to creatively punctuate.)

So, people of the interent, has anyone been to Galveston TX? Can you tell me of a little known, hole in the wall type of restaurant that serves the best seafood? Sir D likes to live dangerously, and wants to find such an establishment. And because I’d like to keep shots for hepetitus exposure out of my future, I’d prefer to go somewhere that was recommended to me. Help a girl out will ya?

Now let’s take a moment to reflect on this…

4 more days.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Who are they?

This is what they are doing while I’m feeling my way to the coffee pot, trying to figure out who all these people in my house are and what that incessant light in the sky is.

Once I have had a cup of coffee, I remember that light is the sun and it comes up every morning. And these noisy creatures in my home are my offspring, they are supposed to be here.

Here is Ann. This is what she did before I woke up. She can do amazing things with pipe cleaners. (Her favorite show is SpongeBob)

Here is Eve. She can do amazing things with food. (Her favorite shows are cooking shows.)

Could these two be more different?

Monday, March 10, 2008

I’ve got soap and I’m not afraid to use it!

I am meeting a friend at Panera today. I got here early because I needed to write up my grocery list while I was here, and yes I cannot do that without my computer because all my recipe’s are on my computer.

So here I sit, waiting for my friend and writing very important things like shampoo, toilet paper, toothpaste and bread. And while my mind is totally focused on this very important task of procuring necessities for my family, I can’t help but hear the conversation of the three businessmen at the table next to me. They are probably a good 10 2 years younger than I am, and the way they are talking makes the mommy in me want to walk over there and wash their dirty mouths out with soap!

Now don’t get me wrong, what they are talking about is not all bad, it is work talk, business stuff. But it’s the way they are talking about it. They have belittled every member of their offices, while using every four letter word in their vocabulary, many I’ve never heard used in that particular way. They’re very creative with their vernacular, these men.

And let me tell you the southern momma in me wants to go ask them if they kiss their momma’s with that dirty mouth and then wash it out with soap! Good grief people!

You’re in PUBLIC, have some couth for goodness sake.

UGH, what is this world coming too? They look like nice well dressed respectable men, but don’t let that fool you, these boys need to be taken out behind the woolshed!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

I see pretend people.

I think there may be something wrong with me. I’m like a novelist, only notsomuch. See, I have these stories in my head. Good stories, unique stories.

And people. I have these people in my head, the characters in my stories. There up there, wandering around begging me to let them out.

I have stories to tell, but the place where I begin to have a little hiccup is the writing portion of writing.

These stories are floating around in my head, getting in the way of, well, you know, reality. But I open the word document and get a few chapters in and give up. It’s not right. It’s not the story that is in my head. The people in my head look different on paper. I can’t seem to get the stories to look the same on paper as they do in my head.

Do they have a pill for this? I think there is something wrong with me.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

What Worked – Part 4 The Highschooler

Here is the 4th and final installment in the ‘What Worked’ series. Just in time for me to start thinking about what I am going to use to educate these kids next year!

Will is going to be in 10th grade this year. I am not sure how that happened. One minute he was a little guy just learning his letters, not he’s a big guy learning things I don’t even remember learning.

The way we homeschool him has evolved quite a bit. In fact, I am almost hesitant to say I homeschool him because so much of his schooling is done outside the house. I am really only responsible for his History at this point.

He is old enough to start at the JR. College near us taking Duel Credit classes, meaning if he can test into the class, he can earn college and high school credit. We decided to wait until next semester to sign him up, maybe even next year. He really needs to concentrate on finishing up his Algebra 1 & 2 and his writing class this year before we feel like he is ready to take college level classes.

We did not end up signing him up for classes at the Community college 2nd semester. He’ll start in the fall.

In many ways I am less involved in his academic education but MUCH MORE involved in character training and life skills as I have ever been with The Highschooler. He has a real hard time with time management and he wants to skim over the important stuff so he can go do his own thing. He has various jobs outside the home and he now has a car to take care of. It has been a real learning curve but better to learn these things at home, than when he is responsible for taking care of a wife and kids.

He has had to do a lot of new things this year. Find and buy tires for his truck. Title transfer and other things related to car ownership. Learn how to manage school work and a job, learn to be on time. He is learning to be a man. He is learning how to be responsible. He is learning Mommy will not always be there to bail him out. These are good things to learn, they are time consuming, but they are just as if not more important than being able to solve algebra problems.

It has been hard in many ways to let go and let him fail. He has turned in papers late, or been late for jobs etc, because I have not nagged him. He has GOT to learn to be self motivated. I will not always be there to tell him what to do. He is learning that there is often pain involved in wrong choices or procrastination.

This highschool thing is hard! Suddenly we went from preparing him for the next grade, to preparing him for LIFE. Suddenly the stakes are higher. I know in homeschooling I always have a more long term perspective on education, but when they hit high school you realize that all those life skills you thought you had plenty of time to teach, have not been taught, and time is running out!

At Co op

Language Arts – He is taking an intensive, college prep writing class this year. It focuses on Essays, Sat writing, paper writing etc. There is not much creative writing in this class. Creative writing is a separate class he will probably take next year. There is some grammar and editing associated with this class as well.

This is the BEST class! His writing is so very much better than it was at the beginning of the year. I think he will be ready for the entrance exam to the community college after taking this class. He has not loved it however. In fact after we left co op a few weeks ago, he asked me in a quite outraged tone if I knew he was going to have to write a 10 page research paper when I signed him up for this class.

Biology – He will be taking the Apologia Biology class at the co op. I love the teacher; she is a nurse and really knows her stuff.

I love the Apologia stuff. We could put him in science classes at the community college next year, but we’ve decided to pay the $ to have him take the Apologia courses at the co op. I think getting a good solid foundation in CHRISTIAN based science courses is so important. Once he gets to college he’ll really need to KNOW what truth is so he is not swayed by all the non Bible based science he will get bombarded with.

Speech – This is a great class, it is not speech and debate, but public speaking. She will teach in the areas of how to conduct a job interview, how to give your testimony, how to speak in church or Sunday school. She’s going to make it applicable to what these kids need to learn, (sometimes homeschoolers get a bad name in the public speaking department)

Unfortunately the speech class was at the wrong time and he was not able to take it. I am hoping next year, but we’ll see.

Algebra 1 & 2 – This is not at the co op, but by a tutor. This tutor teaches the Pre algebra at the co op. She is my hero, because she is teaching my son algebra! He is a bit behind because they are going at his pace. I am happy and sad about this. I know I want him to GET IT not just get through the book, but I hate that my kids are behind. The plan is that they will get the last part of algebra 1 done quickly and move on to algebra 2. They are starting next week and will probably work through the summer next year so he’ll be done by 11th grade and can start geometry.

Whoo! Algebra has been that boy’s life for over 2 years. He’s going to want to burn those two algebra textbooks when he is done! His algebra tutor is an amazing lady. I only wish she did geometry!

At Home –

History – He will be doing Sonlight’s Core 100 (American History In Depth) He does all the reading himself. He reads the Readers, Read Alouds and History Readers; He is a good reader and can handle this amount. I also count this as a literature credit.

He is really enjoying the history books this year. He is reading the Joy Hakim’s Story of US as well as the assigned Sonlight readers. We’ve had some great discussions based on what he has read in those books.

Spanish – He is doing the same Rosetta Stone as the other kids, however he has to do it daily, and pass all the levels. HE did Spanish 1 last year, he will be doing Spanish 2 this year.

As I mentioned in the other posts, we no longer have access to Rosetta Stone Spanish. He will take a Spanish class at the Community College next year.

PE – He plays soccer daily with some of the other missionaries in the base. He gets up in the morning at 6 am to play. I have no worries that this kid does not get enough exercise!

Yeah, still true, he is one active boy!

That is really it. It does not seem like a lot but he will be quite busy. I hate that he is not taking art this year. He has been taking art for years and is really good but he just does not have the time this year.

This will get him 7 credits.

This is really my last year teaching him. After this year he will be taking most of his academic classes at the local Community College.

He also did drivers ed this year so he got a half credit for that and he and Bob are taking Guitar this semester so he get’s a half credit for that too.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Oy! Watch Where You're Going!

Padded Lampposts Tested in London to Prevent Cell Phone Texting Injuries

All I can say is, it is a good thing we separated ourselves from England all those years ago.

Clearly things are going downhill over there!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Don't 'Do Nothing'

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

My friends, I try to stay out of the political arena with my blog, because, well politics = boring, IMHO.

But this is too important to sit idly by and do nothing as the above quote (often misattributed to Edmund Burke as I have recently learned) says.

Read this, then sign the petition.

Whether you homeschool or not, the freedom to choose the way YOUR children should be educated is on the line. It is a slippery slope my friends. Don’t let the government begin to slide down it.

She has so very many words.

She looks so sweet, calm and serene doesn’t she. Don’t let the photo fool you. While she is sweet she is anything but calm and serene.
Have you ever heard the phrase ‘being peppered with questions’? I did not fully appreciate what this phrase meant until Ann learned to talk. Ann asks A LOT of questions. My first three children did not do this. Don’t get me wrong, they were inquisitive as most children are, but they understood that some things just are, and they could accept that. Not so Ann. She needs an explanation. For. Everything.

She is the only child I had who really did want to know why the sky is blue, why the grass is green and where babies come from. Needless to say, she has kept us on our toes.

So today Ann and I are sitting at the dining room table eating lunch together; the other kids are at co op but because Ann’s Scottish Rite was canceled today, she got to come home with me when my classes were done.

So there we are. The house is pretty quiet since it’s just the two of us. We talked about a few things but mainly we were just enjoying the quiet. Or so I thought. Ann uses quiet to listen to all the questions floating around in her brain and put voice to them. The quiet was not long lasting.

Ann: “Mom, if there is an emergency who do I call first, you or 911?”

Me: “Um, depends on the emergency (remember I’m talking to my drama queen here). If you feel your life is in danger call 911, otherwise call mommy first, and anyway you’re brothers are always here if I’m not.”

Ann: “What’s the number to the fire station?”

Me: “You call 911 and they send the fireman if that is what is needed”

Ann: “Can’t you get into trouble if you call 911 and you don’t really need help?”

Me: “Yes dear, you can get fined.”

Ann: “Why didn’t we get fined when Bob called 911?” (don’t ask)

Me: “They were showing us Mercy. My guess is, if it happened again we’d get fined.”

Ann: “Is the fine a lot of money”

Me: “I don’t really know honey, but I expect so”

Ann: “Hummm.”

I am about to go hide all the phones in the house.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

We postpone the regularly scheduled post...

I’m just letting you know that the ‘What Worked: The Highschooler’ post will not be posted until Friday. I know many of you are going to be sad and you might even wonder how you are going to make it through Thursday without the ‘What Worked: The Highschooler’ post. I can only say; I’m sorry to cause pain to anyone, but it was unconsciously done, and I hope will be of short duration. (I love to quote Elizabeth Bennett whenever possible.)

You see, tomorrow is co op day. And as I have mentioned several times, co op day makes me tired. I am only capable of typing inconsequential posts on co op day, and homeschooling a highschooler is anything but inconsequential. I’ll have to put it off until Friday when I can put my whole mind to it. (I know I’m being optimistic thinking that I’ll have a whole mind on Friday)

So until then, you are free to roam about the Internet, but be careful, it’s dangerous out there!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

What Worked: 7th Grade

Bob is my 7th Grader, this is what I wrote about him back in Aug.

Just in case some of you were starting to feel inferior, or you beginning to think, ‘wow this homeschooling family has it all together, and their kids are brilliant’ this post is for you.

Bob is going into 7th grade in the fall and I am a little freaked out about that. The years I have to squeeze all the information into him that he needs to know are dwindling, but the information is not.

Bob is dyslexic and has been through the Scottish Rite Remediation program that Ann is currently going to. And while it helped him immensely, he is still not the best reader, he does not like to read, and spelling…well, let’s just not go there. His handwriting is also awful, and he is a year behind in math. So academically thing are not going so well for Bob. However, if you need to build a deck, rewire a lamp, unhook a trailer, or do just about anything mechanical, he’s your guy. He is also great with people, and is a great helper. He is also a good teacher as he is patient and will spend the time to show you how to do it. (this is the only reason I know how to work the DVR) And he has a great attitude, he has a lot he could complain about, but he is not a complainer.

I don’t know what God has planned for Bob. I wish I did so I could better prepare him. No matter what he does he’s going to have to be able to read and write better than he does now.

So we plug along and do our best, but I worry that our best may not be good enough. Just the thought of that boy taking algebra gives me the cold shivers.

This is all still true, Bob is still behind in math, and his spelling and handwriting is still awful. Somehow I am not quite so freaked out about it now though. I have seen him really come into his own this year. He started in the youth group and has really become a leader.

Language Arts – I will be using the new and improved Sonlight LA 3 with Eve & Bob. He will also be taking a writing class at Co op. He will continue to do his journal writing daily, using the Love to Learn journal I mentioned in A’s post. I am quite scared of this writing class, it is going to be A LOT of work for both of us, but it needs to be done.

As I said yesterday, the SL LA went out the window but the writing class has been going really well. He is doing quite well and he has learned quite a bit. His handwriting is still horrid, but his typing is faster!

Spelling – I have tried every spelling program on the market with little luck with Bob. His dyslexia remediation teacher basically said, keep working on it but don’t make a big issue of it, and give him a spell checker.

Yeah, spelling still horrid but at least he is close enough that the spell checker gives him the correct words to choose from. This is progress.

Math – Bob Jones 6th Grade and Calculadder

Math is going quite well this year. It’s like some thing has clicked. He is doing 2 lessons every day, and getting them mostly correct. He is also using the flashmaster instead of the calculadder

History – Sonlight Core 3 along with Ann & Eve. He will read the readers, he will not like it but they are only 3rd grade readers and I’m going to make him READ them. I will probably make him listen to some books on tape that will be reading with his American history study, just so he can get some higher level thinking.

He has been doing well with our history. His reading is doing so well that I am getting him different readers from the library on his grade level we are also watching many documentaries and I am finding them fascinating myself.

Geography – Simply stated. I posted a while ago about this. I am very excited about this study. I think it will be a lot of fun. You can go check out that post if you like. (links are in Ann’s post)

Same as other posts

Electives –

Typing – He has been doing a typing program for a couple of years now. He has got to get better at his typing if he ever hopes to use a spell checker correctly!

As I have mentioned our typing CDROM broke, but he’s had enough of it that he just needs to practice what he knows. He is getting plenty of typing in, typing all his papers for his writing class.

Spanish – We have access to the full program of Rosetta Stone through the library. I don’t make him do it too much as we’re still working on the English language.

Same as other posts for Spanish, (got to do something about that) But we have added in Guitar. It is quite funny to watch Bob and Will taking lessons. They do it together and come home with a song to practice. Will practices by looking at the page with notes and reading the music, then playing. Bob watches Will's fingers on the guitar to see where to put his once, then he plays it by ear from then on. I can't get him to read the music! It cracks me up how different they are.

Classes at the Homeschooling Co op –

PE – Bob lives for the PE class. He loves it.

Writing - This is the first year he will be taking the writing class. Yikes, this will be so much work for me.

This has been a lot of work for me but worth every minute as it has really helped Bob get closer to grade level in his writing ability. (not handwriting)

Science – Bob will be helping out in the younger kids science taught by my SIL. She is going to give me some advanced notice of what she will be teaching so I can have G do a little research on the topics before class

PE Helper – Bob will also be helping out the PE teacher with the K – 3rd boys class. He is really good at helping. He really shines there.

Bob is such a great helper. He has taught the K-3 PE class alone the past two weeks as the teacher has been out. As far as I know, no other helper that young has ever been left alone with a class. (the girls PE teacher is in the gym with him class she he’s not ‘alone’ alone.

I am really proud of Bob. He has a hard time academically but he does not complain. He has such a good attitude. He is a blessing.

What worked: 5th grade

Eve is my easiest child to teach. She loves to learn, she is bright and inquisitive. Education really comes easy for her. I am glad she is not my only child or I would be a very arrogant homeschooler!

She is the child that I find myself saying ‘please stop painting the illustrations in your book and do your school’ then I shake my head and walk away wondering what I am saying.

Language Arts – I will be using the new and improved Sonlight LA 3 with Bob & Eve. She will also be taking a writing class at Co op. She will continue to do her journal writing daily, using the Love to Learn journal I mentioned in Ann’s post.

So, the Sonlight La lasted about 6 weeks. I’m not sure if it is because it is bad persay, but because she is taking the writing class at co op and she does lots and lots of writing daily in the Journal Program.

Spelling – I don’t worry too much about spelling with Eve. She is a natural speller (See! I’d be totally arrogant if she were my only child.) She wants to do Spelling Power so she can get better. We do it as I have time.

We have done very little spelling, but she just does not need it. She pickes it up from her reading.

Math – Bob Jones 5th Grade and Calculadder

Math has gone fine but as I said in Ann’s post, we are using the Flashmaster instead of Calculadder.

History – Sonlight Core 3 along with A & G. She will read the readers aloud to A. The readers will be a bit easy for her but I will be adding more reading to her schedule with the Geography study.

This is going really well. I have her reading either the reader (too easy for her) or the read aloud, or I just get a comparable book on her reading level. She does the workbook on her own and reads the Children’s American History Encyclopedia and then narrates to me what she read.

Geography – Simply stated. I posted a while ago about this. I am very excited about this study. I think it will be a lot of fun. You can go check out that post if you like. E will be doing a lot of independent reading on the various states.

Same as Ann

Electives –

Typing – She has just started a typing program on the computer. Spell Write Type.

Spanish – We have access to the full program of Rosetta Stone through the library. It will get too tough for her pretty quickly, but for now she is having fun with it.

Same as Ann, sigh. I really need to get another typing program. She has got to learn to type.

Classes at the Homeschooling Co op –

American Girl – This is a hands-on classed based on the books. They do two dolls a year. There is also a play at the end of each semester.

She also loves this class. This is her 2nd year to take it and it is her favorite.

Writing - This is the first year she will be taking the writing class.

Eve is a very good writer, she has written several really cute stories. Her only beef with this class is there is too much report writing and not enough creative writing. (I am not complaining about this)

Science – She will be taking a hands-on science class at co op.

The science class is okay, she is too old for it, but it’s better than nothing. I think we’ll probably do one of the Apologia elementary courses next year.

Art – E is quite a talented little artist. She has been taking art classes with the same teacher at co op for 3 years. Next year will be her 4th year to take art. It is one of her favorite classes.

Art class is going really well. She has some real talent, I don’t know where she got it as it was most definitely not from me. I think we’ll always have her in an art class of some sort. She really wants to be and author/illustrator.

So there you have it. Eve’s 5th grade ‘What working’

I see Him in the snow.

I know I promised a ‘what worked’ post today, and I have it done, I’ll probably post it later, but I just could not help posting about our snow last night.

I love snow. I’m a Kansas girl at heart and we had snow there; big, wet flakes that float down, leaving great mounds of fun on the ground.

Here in Texas, snow is uncommon. We do occasionally get ice pellets or sleet, or even stuff that resembles snow, but it is a rare day when we get to watch those big fat flakes come down.

I was a little disappointed that the snow fell after the kids were in bed. They didn’t get to see it. I went out last night to take photos for them. It was just so beautiful. Big, fat flakes falling softly to the ground. It was so quite, so still.

There is just something about the sound of a snowfall. It’s as if the falling snow mutes everything else. Everything becomes softer, quieter, and more beautiful. I stood outside and watched and listened and enjoyed.

It was kind of a Spiritual moment for me. You see, it’s been a big few weeks around here. Sir D was offered a job yesterday; one that we have been waiting on for some time. The idea of this job has been hanging out there in the wings for almost a year; a possibility, a whispered promise, but not spoken out loud. Until yesterday.

Yesterday he got the call. We are so excited. The job is actually closer to home so no moving. He will be a branch manager; a big change for him. One I know he will do well at. I Praise the Lord for his provision.

Also, I got my first article published. I love to write. I write a lot but rarely submit anything. It’s like I don’t really believe anything I could create would be worth reading. What could I possibly have to say that others would want to hear? But the first (okay second) time I submitted something, it was published. I think it was perhaps the Lords way of saying to me ‘I gave you a talent, don’t bury it in the ground’. I am trying to listen.

And last but certainly in no way least. We wrote the biggest check we’ve ever written in our lives. We have paid off all of our short term debt. I can’t believe I just typed that. It has been such a long road getting out of debt. All we have left is 3 months on the van and then 5 years on the house. Then we will have NO debt.

We’ve only been able to do this because the Lord has blessed Sir D at work these last 2 years. I am so very thankful. It is still very fresh in my mind those days of great stress and worry. How were we going to pay the bills? Which bill can we put off till next month? How many nights in a row can we eat beans and rice before the whole family revolt?

So I stood outside last night, listening to the soft snow fall around me and it was such a tender moment. In the silence of a snowfall, I felt refreshed. Deeply thankful for this moment in time where the Lord is blessing us. I know that in this world we will have troubles. We’ve had them in the past and I know we’ll have them in the future; but standing outside in the dark, surrounded by the muted sounds of a snowfall, feeling the snow landing in my hair and on my face and crunch under my feet. It is if I could feel God surrounding me.

I don’t want summer to come, I want winter to stay. I want more snow to fall. But summer is coming. Hot, sticky 100 degree days are right around the corner. I am going to commit to memory the feelings of last night’s snowfall, and the arms of God surrounding me.