Dear God,
How are things going up there right now?  It’s raining here, but I guess you know that.  People here are wanting to know when you plan on coming back.  It’s been quite a while.  Wow!  The lightening is beautiful!  Thanks for the rain, we really need it.
How’s Mom?  Tell her I love her and I hope she’s doing ok.  Dad’s new wife is really nice, I think she would like her. 
The kids are all doing pretty well.  N is supposed to graduate next year.  She sure has turned into an amazing woman.  I pray she finds her place in this crazy world and that she always puts You first.  By the way, that’s pretty hard to do sometimes.  Sorry for not always doing that.  The boys are doing what boys do…trying to make me go to the loony farm.  They are constantly picking on each other.  It’s obvious they love each other very much.  Wow!  That lightening is coming often now.  Little B is adorable.  It’s so hard to be mad at her.  I hope I’m not spoiling her too much.  Bless P for me, please.  Thanks for listening.


A hopefully un-typical day

Today marks our third day of homeschooling for this school year. The children are tired and cranky when they get up. They’re not used to going to bed at a decent hour. Two of them are at least willing to do their school. They know what they need to do and they know what time they’ll be done if they just get busy. So they start their school quickly and without argument. Really a very good start. The third child, however, doesn’t even show up for breakfast. He fell back to sleep. I feel sorry for him but I send his baby sister up to wake him anyway. He eats and seems well enough, then it’s time for him to get started on his school. He wants to read Encyclopedia Brown. I don’t really blame him, but his school book today is Four American Naval Heroes. So the arguments begin. He pouts, he argues, he snaps… bad idea. Now he has to stand next to the wall until he cooperates. He’s very stubborn, he plans on standing all day until he gets his way. I’m beginning to think that he actually will stay there all day. Dad comes in with “you either work or you do school.” C begins reading again but is quick to complain again. Work it is, then. He cleans the chicken coup, he sweeps the floor (I don’t think he’s actually ever swept before.) He empties the dishwasher. Now it’s time for lunch. I fix shells and cheese for three kids and microwave some mac-n-cheese for C. They eat, no problems. After lunch, school or work? Work. Ok, take a bucket out front and collect rocks out of the yard. (We have tons of rocks growing in the front yard, I think the ground prefers to grow rocks than grass.) So we walk around the yard with me pointing out rocks to pick up. I sit down in the shade and let him continue. Finally the bucket is full (C can’t even lift it.) He is sweaty and hot. We carry it together out back to dump the rocks, then I say the magic words. “Ok, go fill up the bucket again.” He looks at me and says, “Oh, alright, I’ll go do my school.” What a wonderful feeling, to win against someone so stubborn. He changed his mind on his own account and actually finished his school today. Or should I say tonight? He didn’t actually finish until well after dinner.

I wonder how tomorrow will be…


Sun and Sand

I had sand in my hair, sand in my ears, sand in my nose and sand in every other possible place you can think of.  It was wonderful.  I haven’t been to the beach since last year. After showering, I still have sand in my ears, and in my hair. I’m expecting I’ll have to change my sheets in the morning because of the sand. I love it.

I’m burned on my right shoulder but not on my left, burned in a funny patch on my back, a little pink on the nose and face but all in all not too bad. I’ve learned that sunscreen needs to be tested before it’s the only one you bring. The sun screen worked great, it wasn’t expired or anything like that but it didn’t spray very well. If it didn’t get rubbed after spraying it left these cool looking lines. My son P has a lovely zig zag on his back that didn’t get any sun. The two youngest also have various splotches. Everyone is a little sore and a little parched but we’ll be just fine by the end of tomorrow.

The beach was beautiful. (of course) The water was perfect, no shock getting in. My sister brought a bunch of boogie boards and so we kept swimming out and riding the waves back in. One time I rode a wave all the way to shore from a good ways out. My sis and nephew were looking for me at first because they thought I got tumbled. Not too long after that wave, though, we were tumbled. (I’m glad I took a good breath when I saw it coming.) The wave took my hat, it’s gone, and tried to take my glasses. It kept me under long enough to be grateful for air and sky. What a blast!


Our Staples Trip

I took the kids “shopping” today. Heaven help me! I should never take them with me. I know better. I’ve learned this lesson already. Oh well, I guess I needed a reminder. We went to Staples to take advantage of their penny special. Really, buying things for a penny is a lot of fun. Of course, Staples knows marketing better than I do. They have experts plan everything out to take the most advantage of our unconscious desires, especially our children’s desires. While we were there I was reminded, by my elder son, that we needed printer ink. Then I was reminded, by my elder daughter, that she must have a new bag. And so it went, we bought our penny item and spent another 45 dollars on top of it. Yes, Staples is good at marketing. I knew I was no match when I got there. Exactly why do we need a foot long eraser? What are we going to do with more sharpies? And how many notebooks do we need? I think we have enough to last the entire year.

I have learned my lesson, it is cheaper to leave the kids at home. Much cheaper.


Homeschool Rush

It’s the final rush to start school. The Homeschool Rush… I now call it. I already know what the kids will be doing, I’m fairly certain we have everything we need on hand. Still the kids want something new, new pencils or notebooks. Things that mean school is starting. It’s past time to clean out the old stuff but I should probably still do that. We do a different kind of schooling from a lot of other homeschoolers. We use a curriculum that is pretty linear in its approach, start at the beginning and work your way to the end. It has a pretty easy philosophy, learn your three “R’s”. Reading, writing and arithmetic… Pretty simple. The kids learn their history and sciences through reading, and some hands on stuff for science. Writing gives them a chance to express themselves and to practice their grammar and vocabulary. Math is just math. They work through the levels and, as they prove they know it, they move on. I’m not required, except as a catalyst, to keep them moving in the right direction.
My two oldest will both be high schoolers this year; one a freshman, the other a senior. Since their schedules are so full, this year I plan on implementing a “time sheet”. On this they will record what they did and what time the started and finished. I hope this provides more accountability for them. My younger school age son will be entering the 5th grade even though his math is more of a seventh grade math. My trouble with him is keeping him interested so that he doesn’t get bored. What will be keeping me the busiest this year, though, is my almost four-year old. She and I will have to find some fun things for her to do. She already wants to start “school” like the others but she requires my full attention. With B, if it’s quiet, she’s in trouble. Yet when it’s quiet everyone else works better. It can be quite a juggling act keeping B quiet, yet remaining present to the others so they don’t distract themselves. Yet another factor is that my husband works from home. Having him near can be very helpful. If I need to go somewhere I can just leave the kids with him and know they’re fine. Each week we get to go out for lunch. I like having him around. However, he does also sometimes provide an unwanted distraction. It’s often when he needs quiet and the kids are on break, or when the kids need quiet and he’s on break. Getting everyone to actually be quiet at the same time is the true challenge.
I love homeschooling the kids. It is really a way of life. How many families now a days can spend time with their kids and husband every single day? My life is truly blessed. I get to be there for my kids when the “get it” for the first time. I get to see them learn to read and to write. I get to be there when they struggle. I don’t have to leave them with someone else during the most formative times of their lives.

Thanks for reading,

Time flies

How time flies! This year is already more than half over! I remember when everyone was worried about Y2K. Now I have kids born afterward. We used to have an 8-track player and now my kids don’t even know what a record is, let alone an 8-track player. I remember having my first baby at 23 but now I look at 23 year olds and I see babies. My “baby” is now about to get her license. Where did the time go? Now I have four “babies” and all of them are out of diapers now. In fact we haven’t had to buy diapers in quite a while. I never thought I’d miss diapers but well, naaa I guess I don’t. I do miss the babies that didn’t talk back, that didn’t sneak around, that didn’t like boys or girls. I miss not having to worry about where they were or who they’re with. Now, in a blink of an eye, they’re almost grown. I love my children more than the air I breathe, and I don’t know how I’ll be when they have families of their own.

I remember where I was standing and what I was doing when the planes crashed into the twin towers. It’s been almost ten years since then. I was standing in line at Burger King on the way to COOP with my two older kids. (My only two at the time.) When we got there we prayed and then went home. It was terrifying, it was frightening. I was in shock. I think the whole nation was in shock. Good things did come from bad though. The next few years Americans were just Americans. We weren’t black, or white, or American Indian, or African American, or Chinese American or boys, or girls, we were just Americans, proud of our country and of our homes. Things don’t seem quite the same now. The country right now seems more divisive than I remember ever before in my life. Martin Luther King Jr would be turning over in his grave if he were seeing how people are treating each other now. The racially motivated mob that attacked people outside the fair in Wisconsin and the flash mobs in Philadelphia would have made him faint with disgust. Martin Luther King Jr wanted people to be judged by their actions, not by their color. He wanted people to see people as humans; all one race, the human race. Why then do people keep separating us. Aren’t we stronger if we stick together? Don’t you want to be judged by who you are inside instead of by the color of your skin? Don’t you want to be treated with respect? Self respect is where it starts. If you don’t respect yourself, no one else will either.

You know what I can’t remember, not very well anyway? I don’t remember what I did last week, or who I spoke with yesterday. The day to day things just don’t stick sometimes. I’m hoping to make some wonderful memories in the future. Things I can count on to keep the time from flying as fast as it has been. I hope to take the time and remember these important things to come. My babies will be grown someday and when they have babies of their own I plan on telling some really good stories to tell their children. Maybe the the time when C broke her arm racing to the mailbox, or the time she almost shot the neighbor, or the time when P was stuck upside down behind his bed, or how little C talked with his imaginary friend, Fink.  There are so many things I need to remember.  Pay back for their teen years, I’m looking forward to it. 🙂

My house, what it’s really like

What is family?  What does it look like?  Some families are big and some are small, which is better? Why do some parents seem to have it all together? Do they really have it all together or are they just like everyone else when they go home and close their doors? Let me open my doors for you for a minute. If you were to visit my house you wouldn’t come in the front door. No one uses it. Instead I’d greet you by the side door and have you come right in. You’d walk right through my laundry room first. In the laundry room you’d see dirty clothes on the floor (most of the time), a bench freezer with toilet paper and paper towels sitting on top of it. Several buckets stacked next to the door. Some boxes and other unidentifiable stuff sitting on the floor. Above it all you’d see some shelves that are stacked as high as the ceiling with more stuff. Just my laundry room is quite a mess. With luck you’d keep on coming in instead of run for your life. The next place you’d be is my kitchen. Life runs from the kitchen in my house. It is the favorite place. There’s frequently something cooking. Right now there’s a big box of apples on the floor next to the stove. (I just got these from a good friend’s backyard tree) The apples are green, ugly, and bruised. I’ve been cutting them up for the past several days trying to uses as much as possible. There’s a fresh apple pie sitting in my microwave, waiting for breakfast. (And yes I plan on serving it for breakfast to those who want it.) With luck my counters are clean, my sink is shiny, and my dishwasher is running. Most likely, though, they’re not. We do actually live here. After passing through the kitchen you’d see a bunch of cages stacked against the wall. This is where the dogs sleep. We have four of the metal crates with cushions for four of our dogs to sleep. Next to one is a big blanket for another dog. Their food is in bowls in their crates or next to them, depending on the dog. This “room” also has a corner table that we use for breakfast, lunch and school. I like to make sure the table top to this table actually stays clear. Moving on is the living room area with a big screen TV my dad bought us one year for Christmas. A nasty old red couch, a leather recliner (the kids fight over who gets to sit here and read for school) and other things to sit on. The entire wall that the TV is on is completely covered, mostly in books. Books are obviously important in this family. Under the TV is a Wii and an Xbox, and a cd player and vcr. The entertainment center is complete with everything. In the corner near the TV is a toy box for my youngest. Unfortunately most of her toys are on top or next to the box rather than in it. Like I said before, we do actually live here. My house isn’t clean, or fancy, but it is home. It’s not neat or uncluttered, it’s not something you’d see in a magazine. I have four kids and a husband and my home is wonderful. The rest of the house is quite big, and quite a big mess, you’d probably not see any of it. I’d keep you in “my” area most likely. If you were visiting the kids would stop everything they were doing and come and talk with you too. They’d happily take your kids up to the mess upstairs to play in their rooms, and I would wonder later what your kids told you when they got home. My house is full of unfinished projects, changed dreams, and things I have no idea what are. My bed might be made or it might not. It won’t stop me though, because I love it when people visit. I love it when kids come and hang out, I wish they’d do it more often. If you know me, know that you are welcome to come by, just give a quick ring before to make sure we’re home. (and so I can pick the laundry up off the floor) w