Friday, March 23, 2007

I need to go away for a little while...

Starting tomorrow, I will be turning off my computer and staying away until after Easter. I have several reasons:

1.) I am spending literally 5 or more hours on the computer. Mostly at night. Mostly feeding my OCD. Mostly wasting away my life and filling my days with anxiety. Mostly to the detriment of my family. I was told by my doctor that Ambien is a L3 drug and can be used while breastfeeding, and since Ladybug has been sleeping 10+ hours a night without nursing I am going to try taking it tonight. Hopefully, just the sleep itself will begin to calm my mind.

2.) Spring Cleaning. Tis the season and Lordy do we need it. A good airing out. a good scrubbing down. Just thinking about it makes me feel lighter and fresher. Way better than any New Year's euphoria. One big part of this Spring's schedule will be taking care of the very picture of Urban Blight that is my backyard. We will be putting in a patio and sodding and doing some plantings. The kids want to do a fairy garden. This is going to take alot of work as you can see. And it needs to happen in the next month or so. The heat index gets to 100+ degrees by the end of May.

3.) I need to spend my evenings in reading and prayer. I have been reading Calm My Anxious Heart. And though Linda Dillow and I disagree some places theologically, as with all things there is always some to learn from one another. One statement I read last night has really set me to action..."We say we want more faith, but really what we want is sight. Sight says, 'I see that it's good for me, so God must have sent it,' but faith says, 'God sent it, so it must be good for me.' God asks us to walk by faith, not by sight." whoa, boy. Does that sum me up, or what? huh?

So, I need to walk away from this trap, right now. Release its hold on me. Put my life back on track. get in some extra laughing and silliness. wash these cobwebs off of my motivation, rev it up and get moving. We had a nice cleansing rain last night. This afternoon the sunshine came out on the new, fresh Springness. It's time to take some deep breaths and live my life appreciating the gifts. ugh. I hate February. Thank God for Spring! I'll see you all after the Resurrection!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Phew! That was close!

Turns out there's already a Dream Cakes out there! Rebecca is already living that life goats, biscuits, tea and all. That takes a lot of pressure off. Thank you, dear....though Chowder now wants to move back to Ireland. hmmmm....seems you've solved one dilemma only to start up another. That's not progress!

Welcome Baby Uisce! *sigh* Could she be more adorable...

Monday, March 19, 2007

A Matter of Purpose...

Chowder and I went to a Financial Seminar to learn some of the things that good grown-ups should know. And one of the keys to getting your finances in order, is to get them inline with your Life Purpose. (capital L capital P).

Now, every book I seem to be reading right now, keeps harping on this same theme. this Life Purpose theme. I feel like I have a vague sense of life purpose (lowercase l lowercase p). A kind of gossamer hold on what type of person I want to become. I see my future, fantasy me way out there. but she tends to taunt me and haunt me with how little like her I actually am. I begin to wonder if it's just not possible for me to be that Dream Cakes. Perhaps, I'm trying to go too much against the grain of who God made me. convenient, eh? but is it just convenient? or is there some shred (or more) of truth to it? can we become a different sort of person just by sheer determination and brute force?

Let's have a look.

I would love to express my self creatively through visual arts. of some kind. I feel the need to create beauty. I think their is a spiritual calling to this type of creating. I have no discernable skills. I have never learned how to "do" any form of art. I am not worried about being a "hack." I truly couldn't care less. but I do want to be able to make tangible, physical in form, what my mind already sees.

I would love to be an orderly keeper of my home. I feel a strong spiritual calling to make my home a place of welcome and refuge to not only my family but whoever finds themselves on my doorstep. I want to live and breathe hospitality. I want to fill my family with healthy foods. I want my home to be a place of rejuvenation for Chowder whose ADD brings him nearly to a standstill when he encounters too much chaos. too much inconsistency. I want my home to be the place where my children's friends want to be and therefore where my own teenage children will want to be. safe.

I would love to be lighthearted.

I would love to have a beautiful garden where my children can hide and play and imagine. A garden with nooks and fairies and teddy bear picnics. A garden with a little pond and stepping stones and a bullfrog or two. A garden that is an extension of the home. A place of refuge and welcome. where we can eat our summer BBQ. where we can lay on the grass and watch the clouds.

I would love to spend my money intentionally. Knowing where it is going and wasting none of it. Spending it to a purpose of practicality, spirituality, and plain old good fun. I want to stop living in denial and just crossing our fingers that each month will come out alright.

Yes, I think all of these things could happen with determination. If I made the choices to make them happen. but all of those things...well, really, they are just behaviors. They don't describe the person I want to be. They aren't a Life Purpose. They might be how I live out or express my Life Purpose, but they aren't the Life Purpose, itself.

Let's try again.

I want to be a Woman of Joy

I want to be a Woman of Faith

I want to be a Woman of Hope

better. that one I definitely cannot do on my own. even with brute force. that one will take some divine intervention.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

I'll do a little experiment for you...

I have just finished reading this book. And I'm ready to start my paid survey experience. I can't imagine this will really be worth it, but for you, I will give it a try. Barbara Webb and Maureen Heck of Mom(dot)com, has given a list of Paid Survey companies that are on the up and up that I will start with. I'm supposed to get a new email that is strictly for the survey work. I am picking 5 of the companies that they listed and I'm going to see what really ends up happening. I will keep you posted...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Will the luck be with them?

Could it be a better day for Ireland to take the championship than on St. Patrick's Day?!?!

Here's hoping!

by the way~It's not my fault that this 100% 2nd generation Irish girl married a German...Sheesh! In his defence, he did live in Northern Ireland for awhile.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

order in the chaos...

My house of cards is crumbling around me. Any mother knows that the slightest variance in your daily routine can be the beginnings of a dangerous slip sliding into complete and utter household chaos. I have had three days in a row of variance. 70 degree sunny day variance, mind you. But a variance nonetheless. As you might imagine my lovely laundry room with all of its neat stcks of folded and ironed clothes and linens, is piled high with laundry. I haven't cooked an honest to goodness dinner in three days. Mostly due to the fact that I didn't go grocery shopping on Sunday, so my cupboards are bare. I feel sorry for Chowder. I have no idea what he will feed the children for breakfast because we are out of cereal, bread, milk, and juice. But, fathers always are quite creative and inventive when it comes to mealtimes, so I'm sure he will come up with something. You can begin to fill in the rest from these brief sketchings.

The Meatball may have inherited that funky little OCD gene that has been plaguing me. ok ok. who are we kidding? This kid is freakier than me or Skaterboy. no lie. He is a difficult animal to manuever around. but one thing is for sure. Meatball loves order. God bless him, this child born into the ADD family, loves his order.

So, this afternoon as I am taking Ladybug up to her nap I see a toy left on the steps. I knew Meatball had been playing with it and I am quite firm on the "No Toys On the Stairs" rule. As I'm about to call him up to retrieve the toy, I notice something.Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Meatball's order. amidst our chaos.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Monday, March 12, 2007

Enough of this already!

I'm pretty worked up right now, so I hope that my thoughts come across coherently. I'll have Chowder review this, maybe, before I post it.

In the first 30 years of my life, I heard the "N-word" used a handful of times. I remember still, the feelings I had each and everytime I heard it. I knew there was a sickness. I knew there was a horrible history. even before I was ever told. I don't remember my parents ever telling me explicitly not to use it. or what it meant. or what it was used for. I must have just been able to tell from the context, from the tone of voice, from the facial expression used that this was a word of hatred used to bring another person down.

In the last 4 years of my life, I cannot begin to count the number of times I have heard it. In the last 2 months, I have heard it used no fewer than 5 times. All of them in public places/forums. All of them by white people. All of them given the disclaimer that the person using it was not, in fact, a racist. All of them referring to the hip hop culture, that it is ok to use this word now because black people use it themselves all the time. so it is therefore, no longer offensive.

I don't think this was the intended consequence of the hip hop culture when they set out to "reclaim" the word. I don't know if they are fully aware of this unintended consequence. But, it is there. And it has really begun to sicken me. I already told you guys about where I live. About the way I have had to confront my own racism. about the struggle that Chowder and I have ministering here. gaining trust. I am trying to raise my children in a way that will dispel the fears, the stereotypes, the feelings of superiority. and I hate the idea that this word might somehow, sometime, become a part of their vocabulary because "it isn't offensive anymore."

I'd like to believe that it would be possible to let this word die out. In that way it would lose it's meaning. it's venom. I had a homeless woman come up to me on the street a few months ago asking for money. I really didn't have any on me, but offered her a sandwich or something to eat from inside. She became very angry and called me a "Cracker." I just kind of looked at her. I know she was saying that to hurt me. or offend me. But the word has no power for me. It really meant nothing. I actually told Chowder about it later and kind of chuckled because I had never been called that before. To me, it just seemed rather... silly.

Should we ban the word? I don't know. I think that also gives it power. I can't begin to tell the hip hop culture what it should do with it's own slurs. I know they say it with an "A" and mean it as a term of camaraderie, not an "ER." But come on, the white folks aren't listening to it that hard.

*putting my hands over my eyes*
*massaging my temples*

I just want it to go away. I'm tired of it polluting my life. my family. my community.

a lesson in hope...

Tonight at prayer time we were reading about the Gospel lesson today. One of the reflection questions was, "What was the person hoping for when he planted the apple tree?" My kids answered with, "That it would grow big." "That it would give him lots of apples for his refrigerator."

Then the question was, "What was God hoping for when He formed us inside our mother's womb?" Porkcop said, "That I would grow." Meatball said, "That I would grow and talk." So, I asked Jellybean, "What was God hoping for when he made you in mommy's uterus?"

and she said..."He hoped that I would run in the sunshine and play with butterflies."


Friday, March 09, 2007

ruh-roh. An education rant.

When people ask me why I homeschool, my answer is to the point, all-encompassing, and only a single word.


Honestly, that is my reason. It was only reinforced this week when our legislators who are trying to salvage our pitiful school district from state takeover and get it accredited again after over 7 years, suggested their proposal. The major talking point that the rest of the plan revolves around? more time in school. First, they are proposing to increase the school day by 90 minutes and increasing the school year by 30 days and secondly requiring all 5 years olds to be in all day kindergarten, and 3 and 4 year olds to be in all day Head Start programs.

In 2003 assessments, 5.1% (did you read that?! 5.1%) of the 11th graders in our school district were proficient in language arts. The legislators and educators reasoning is that if they just had more time with the kids they could get the scores up.

Now, my mother is an educator. Has been for 25+ years. I respect the work of teachers. I feel sorry for teachers. I think teachers get hung out to dry. I'm amazed at what teachers get done inspite of the school system. So, believe me, I am not blaming teachers. But, if you can't teach my child to read in 12 years, what makes you think you can teach him/her in 15 years?! There is no logic here for me. It's not the length of the day or the length of the year or the length of years in school. It's what is going on during that time! It's the whole system that needs re-working. Having my child spend more time in a broken system is not going to fix anything.

When my son was in 2nd grade his lunchtime/recess was 45 minutes. That's it. That was their break for the day. Now, in my state, employment law requires a 1 hour lunch break for a 7 hour day. We think the grow-ups need this break, but not the kids?! They had P.E. two days a week. You can talk all you want about TV being the demise of our active children but I put the blame on lack of recess. When I was in 2nd grade, we had a 30 minute morning recess and a 1 hour lunch break. I somehow, managed to learn to read.

My friend's son is in one of the wealthiest school districts in our region. He's in kindergarten. He's in full-day. He has 45 minutes of homework every night. 45 minutes of homework. in kindergarten. When are these children playing? When do they get to just do their own thing? I think we are really shooting ourselves in the foot as a nation, when we take away time that develops imagination, creativity, and just plain fun. How will this help build a nation that seeks new ways and inspires new thinking and new technology? I watched my own son get stressed to the limit trying to maintain himself in a traditional classroom. He ended up on three different medications. A recess or two and some free time would have done him a world of good. Now, he hasn't been on a single one of those drugs and he is so much more relaxed and so much more fun!

It just makes me so sad to see how much we take away from our children under the guise of trying to get them ahead.

end rant.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

learning to read...

I told you guys earlier about Meatball teaching himself to read and write. This has been very interesting to watch unfold. None of the children liked sitting down and using the basic skills workbooks we have. Me telling them to find the page with the seven on the bottom, lost its novelty on about the third day. Then it became pure tedium. So...I dropped them. Meatball has become very proficient and Jellybean is starting to want to join in the fun, too. Last week, Meatball went around making signs for the various things in the house. He'd ask how to spell a word, I'd tell him, he'd make a sign.

Up til now, Jellybean has been more of a whole word detective. She reads the Now I'm Reading books and can read on sight many words. She is just beginning to play around with individual letters and sounds.

Porkchop just likes to curl up in your lap and listen to a good story. He is constantly bringing books to us and wanting us to read them. He is enjoying pecking out his name on the computer keyboard and playing with the Basic Concepts books. It has been so fascinating watching each one of them discover this on their own, in their own time and way. It has taught me a valuable lesson in teaching. My new Rule #1: Get out of their way.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Charity of the Month: March

I don't normally give to political or lobbying groups. ok. never. For my non-American friends, lobbying may be becoming the bane of our democracy. But, this cause is different. It is not lobbying on behalf of corporations, or institutions, or private interests. It is lobbying on behalf of hundreds of thousands people who can't seem to get anyone to help them. Save Darfur is trying to get the world to intervene.

I know this may not sit well with some people's politics, and to that I offer up an alternative. Here are a list of other charities working in the Darfur region of Sudan.

again, if you have charity suggestions you can email me or list them in the comments. You can also look at past charities that we have chosen as a part of our New Year's Resolution, under the heading A Matter of Charity.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

oh...that was just what we needed

First, I want to ask. Why is it that we cannot leave our house clean? What is it about walking out the door to go on vacation that chaos must flow in our wake? Everytime we go somewhere, I vow that this is the time we will leave and therefore come home to, a clean house. I cleaned our house top to bottom Monday before we left, and yet still, somehow we trashed it as we left. I guess there is always next time.

So, I highly recommend the Great Wolf Lodges to anyone needing a family getaway. The entire hotel is set up to accomodate children. I can't emphasize enough how relaxing this is. Kids are everywhere. This completely puts the parents at ease. They have a storytime every night at 8pm in front of the big clock in the lobby. There is a craft and game room, where the kids can go and well, make crafts and play games. There is a giant arcade that has arcade games for all ages. The restaurants on site are all child friendly. (When we went to breakfast, they sat us in the "bar area" and they had Dora on the big tvs behind the "bar.") There are a couple of shops and a little store where they sold Starbucks (though we are boycotting) and Krispy Kreme (which we are decidedly not boycotting. yummy!) There is even a Pizza Hut on site that delivers to your room.

But the main attraction, of course, is the indoor waterpark. It was so much fun! Even Ladybug had a blast. There is a little kiddie pool with little kiddie slides, a lazy river, a giant tree fort, 3 huge waterslides that go outside and then back inside, and a deeper pool with basketball hoops. There was truly something for everyone.

Check-in is at 4pm, but you can get in earlier if your room is ready. You can start using the waterpark at 1pm. Check-out is at 11am but you can keep using the waterpark until 10pm. Honestly, two nights was the perfect amount of time for us. The rooms are really big (well ours was.) We had a room that sleeps 7 people. It had a little kid's "room" with bunkbeds and a daybed which was perfect for Meatball, Jellybean and Porkchop. They even had their own tv in there! Plus a queen-size bed and a sofa sleeper. The living area had a nice sized dining table and a cozy little fireplace. The rooms have refrigerators and microwaves. I suggest you bring your own drinks and snacks because they charge $2 for a bottle of water/soda. We actually packed our lunch in. There is no free continental breakfast, so I suggest you pack that in as well. During the week they are not as busy (which is another bonus to homeschooling) but I imagine the weekends to be a madhouse during the winter months.

I didn't think the price was bad. Our room was $209 a night and that included all of the waterpark passes and other activities. The website says they have the lowest price, but when the online reservation system wasn't working I called them directly. The internet price for out room was $228. but the phone guy gave me $209 without much convincing. I might have been able to get an even better deal! oh well.

I had only my sister's camera (since mine, alas, has passed on) and I never quite got the hang of it. It took forever between pictures and if anyone moved, they were a blur. These were the best of the bunch. Yes, Skaterboy was there, but the two pictures I got of him were atrocious and he would be mortified if I put them on the internet.

all said, glad to be home!