Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why I haven't been posting...

I can't justify blogging when I have not turned in an assignment in 2 weeks. That's bad guys. Not killing me dead in the water, but definitely not good. I am taking Principles of Marketing (3 hrs), News Reporting (3 hrs), and Saints and Peacemakers (2 hrs). I wrote a paper last night on St. John of the Cross and have another to write tonight on St. Catherine of Sienna. I'm thinking if I do an assignment a day (which is totally doable, you know, if I do.) I will be ok. Soooo...cracking open the books and hopefully cracking back into blogging soon, too.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I was just talking to Chowder's friend's wife today. They are really putting the pressure on! LOL! Chowder and I have been trying to discern which issues are real and which are imaginary.

You guys have given me such great things to think about and explore! It turns out this town has a large arts community, the college does offer "Kids College" for ages 8 and up with lots of enrichment classes, there is a farmer's market, a community center and several new coffee house and locavore restaurants. The town's population has doubled in the last 10 years mostly with an influx of people from California. (that could be good or bad ;) )

I've been exploring how I would be able to meet household needs. There is a Walmart, Lowe's etc but the nearest Sam's and Target are 1 1/2 hours away. I could still do monthly trips if needed.

Chowder and I sat down to talk about what we loved about raising our children in the city and we talked about culture and museums etc. But then when we were honest about it, we have only been to the symphony once this year! We have seen 2 plays and taken the kids to the Art Museum twice this year. With this town being only 3hours from here and family here we could easily come up for a weekend or several days to do these things. So, this issue was imaginary. We would miss the weekly trips to the zoo and botanical gardens.

Lack of diversity is a REAL issue. But again, we could easily be up here often enough to help solve that issue. Education is a REAL issue and I have been investigating the day to day reality of homeschooling. Both Chowder and I have always wanted our children to have a classical education and there are many curricula set up to do that. We'd just follow the lesson plans. I'd have three at one level and two at another. Plus, Chowder's friend's wife would love to explore starting a Montessori charter school in that area to meet the needs of the families there. I'm not sure I am up to doing another start-up right now, the last one was exhausting! But, I could probably use a lot of the material we already compiled. But our minds are opening to possibilities.

17 yr old is both a real and an imaginary issue. He will be 18 this summer which would be the age he would be going away to college. He is not stressed by the idea of us moving because he knows he has options. He is not a typical high schooler being taken out of school his senior year. He is getting his GED this summer and starting community college in the fall. He could move with us and attend the state university there or he could live with my mom and attend school here. If he stayed, we would really miss him but not any differently than if he went away to college. Which is essentially what he would be doing.

There are some bad mammajamma things going on in my city that are making me want to scream. (Essentially, county voters rejected a 1/2 cent sales tax to help fund our public transit, city had already approved it, and now they are cutting bus service by 44%, train service by 32% and Call-a-Ride by 17%. There are members of our church that will be unable to get to work and to school etc. etc.) and crime in our neighborhood will likely increase because of the economy and the inability of people to get to work. This all makes me feel like we are REALLY needed here and at the same time burns me out and makes me want to run to the hills.

Still waiting for the formal offer and whether they can meet our needs...but again, we have always been lucky in this sense and God has always provided.

loaves and fishes, Baby. loaves and fishes. (What Chowder and I say to each other when we are trying to work out where the money is going to come from!)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The one about major life changes...

My family is extremely happy with its place right now. We love our neighborhood, we love our neighbors, we love love love the younger ones' school, we love living in the city, we love the free museums, free zoo, parks everywhere, dog park, farmer's market, diversity, restaurants etc. Our families are in town (for the most part) and we have established friendships.

My husband is VERY unhappy in his job. Granted they pay him a nice sum of money, but they ask for very little in return. Basically, show up on Sundays, visit the sick. For me, this seems perfect because he is right across the street. He is home a lot and always available should I need him. It is a great place to be working on his doctorate. BUT, he wants to be doing ministry and at this point after trying so many things and beating his head against the wall (long story about the church, but they aren't interested in doing anything.) he is just burned out. He feels useless.

This weekend we were invited to a church that is courting Chowder to check things out and guest preach at the church. It is the exact opposite atmosphere, but also one we could be very happy in. It is a small town (about 20,000) in the mountains, has a small college, a community theater, major shopping, we could get a place on 10-15 acres and have the other great childhood of chickens and ducks and woods to build tree houses in and all the great stuff that comes from growing up in nature. The church is very energetic, though still small. They have about 10 young families (3 with 5 kids) and a definite desire to do more. We liked the town. Two of Chowder's fraternity brothers live in or near the town and I like the one I know and his family. We are not afraid of making changes or trying new things. We know if it really stinks we can always go somewhere else. The schools rank 6 (out of 10) on the great schools chart. We would have to change a bit of our lifestyle, like get a second crappy car.

Honestly, if the kids just went to a regular school we would jump in in a heartbeat. But, the kids don't go to a regular school. They have this great opportunity to go to this amazing and free charter school that is right across the street. The school is small and the philosophy and parent community is exactly what we are looking for. And the education is exceptional. I can't see taking my two kindergartners who are reading on the 4th grade level, doing multiplication and division, can label the continents and oceans on a world map, and half of the states on a US map etc. etc (and this is NOT b/c they are exceptionally bright, it is just the way the school is.) and put them into a mediocre, small town, public school. Though I am not afraid of homeschooling them and think we could do some really cool stuff, I don't think I could do as good of a job as they are doing at their school and would hate for them to miss out on what they would get from their education where they are now.

But, Chowder would most likely be much happier in his work. In a small town there is a greater opportunity to get involved in a meaningful way to better the community. So, do we stay here until all of the kids go through 6th grade? That's 12 more years! At what point do we make a change? We do not NEED to find a new position right now. And I wasn't feeling an overwhelming pull there. I told Chowder that this will really have to be his call because I am perfectly happy where I am now. I could also be perfectly happy somewhere else. We worry about trying to sell our house right now, but the only thing really holding us here is the school. How much of weight should we give it?

I am trying to just hand this one over to the Big Guy and figure if it's the place he wants us, then he'll beat over the head with it and provide the solutions to our obstacles. But, you know how I'm a planner.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The one about the read alouds

In my last post about reading aloud to children I was telling you about the transition from sitting in your lap and looking at pictures while you read to them, to lying in bed listening and following along in their imagination as you read to them. A child needs a little practice developing his focus and attention to stay with you. One of the things we found helpful in this transition is poetry. I suggest A. A. Milne's lovely books, When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six. Both are filled with sweet, funny poems that the kids love. Don't try to rush through them. Read 3 or 4 over a few times for them to enjoy the rhythm and the play on language. Caroline Kennedy put together one of my favorite anthologies with poems by Robert Louis Stevenson, e. e. cummings, Robert Frost, Maya Angelou and many others. really great stuff. and if you have a poetry phobia, put it aside for a little while. Children really "get" poetry.

Anthologies are another great way to build attention. We read from Grimm's Fairy Tales (yes the original ones), Greek Myths (Usborne puts out a really nice collection), Aesop's Fables, a collection of Oscar Wilde's children's stories, a book of American Tall Tales, The Just So stories, collections by Thorton Burgess (great animal stories that tell a bit about the animal, very sweet.) and we read selections from a book of Saints (because that's how we roll.) We tried the Wind in the Willows when the kids were 4 and 5 and we chose to put it down for a little while. The stories are wonderful but the language is a bit advanced. We'll probably go back again this summer. Most of these short story readings can be done in an evening's reading time but some of the longer ones are best divided in half to help the child learn to carry over a plot to the next day. Before you start the second half, you might want to ask the child questions about what they remember and fill in any fuzzy spots.

When we were ready to jump into chapter books, we started with beginning reader chapter books. The plots were simple and the language not particularly challenging. The kids enjoyed reading a few of the Magic Tree House books, and Usborne put out some simplified versions of classic books that we read. (I debated doing this. I wanted my kids to hear the real version of the Wizard of Oz, but after reading about classical education and the way a subject is revisited every four years to a higher degree of understanding, I thought these would be the perfect getting your feet wet into some of the more complicated classics. and Usborme does a nice job with it.)

Some of the chapter books that we have loved

  • My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
  • The Waterhorse by Dick King Smith
  • A Mouse Called Wolf by Dick King-Smith
  • Stuart Little by E.B. White
  • Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
  • The Henry books by Beverly Cleary
  • All things Kate DiCamillo (We LOVE her.)
  • The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary
  • Nim's Island by Wendy Orr
I know there are others I can't think of at the moment. I'll start a list on the sidebar. But, this list should give you a lot to chew on. Please list any of your favorites in the comments. We are always looking for new books!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Finally feeling myself.

I finally admit to having had the flu. It was my first time ever. and it sucked. until yesterday.

Two things happened.
1.) Spring popped its head out again.

2.) ummmmm....

ok. just the one thing. But, being able to throw the windows open and blow all the stale sick air out the back door was an amazingly cathartic thing. I even got most of the downstairs back in order. Everything except my buffet. I don't know exactly when it happened but my buffet has become my dumping ground. It's just my mess. All mine. I can't blame anyone for it or believe I would. I think I need to set up some sort of a desk for myself and my schoolwork.

Ladybug and Jellybean are kicking the tailend of it right now and then I think we're done. Chowder and Sweeting seemed to have escaped unscathed.

Tomorrow I will give you my kids favorite read alouds.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

I'm feeling better today

but I've lost my voice. I have had to resort to clapping, snapping, and throwing things at the children to get their attention from my perch on the couch.

and still, they ignore me.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

How I wish I was feeling....

Found this over on Jenni's blog and had to play, too!

It's either my super hero alter ego, Special K, or my kick ass guardian angel.
I'd like to think it's the latter.

And here is my trusty sidekick, Chowder Man

Go make your own super hero! It's fun!

Monday, March 02, 2009


When is it terrible to have lots of kids? When they are all sick and you are too. I was up most of the night with one sick kiddo or another, or up hacking up a lung myself. This is a very bad cold that has us in its grips. Sweeting will only sleep on my chest, so of course I wake her up every time I cough. If she feels half as bad as I do the poor darling is miserable. sore throat, chills, congestion. ugh. Hopefully we will be up and running again soon.

uh oh. just heard Chowder coughing...another one bites the dust.