Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Home Education: A Lifestyle of Learning (part 1)

"So are you going to home school or send your kids to school?" a question we are often asked as parents of pre-school children.

"Oh definitely home school," is the conditioned response that I say, wondering how there could be a different option. Then I remember that there are local private schools and even small town public schools both of which are ready options to our family.

Yet, homeschooling is the only option for us. The only choice we'd pick. Ever. It only seems natural that we would go that way, especially since both Toby and I are home school graduates. But, that's not the reason why we home school.

I love the idea of homeschooling. The opportunity to teach my kids to read, to count, to write, to... you get the idea. So when people ask me if we'll home school or not, I wonder what part about us doesn't have the "we're home schoolers" sign on it.

Then it dawned on me that according to our culture, home schoolers seem to have a "stereotype" personality and pre-schoolers don't typically exhibit that demeanor so therefore, they are exempt from the "geeky home schoolers" group and held up on a diving board that just may give them the luck of jumping into the public school education opportunity.

But nope, our kids are ready to launch into the vast orbit of home education. An education custom fit to each child based on personality, learning style and life goals. An education not limited to work books, text books or even a deluxe curriculum. An education uninfluenced by peer pressure, bullies and gym style sports.

People assume that the reason home schoolers home school is because they're afraid of blending their kids into a public social life. They want to shelter and isolate their kids. Protect their offspring from society. That is not our purpose at all. Our kids will have a social setting complete with friends their age, the option of organized sports and music lessons and the opportunity to make new friends all the time. Friends, games and "real" life are not found in a classroom: they're found in life that's not confined to an age group. Or a school grade. Or a social status.

And after a weekend attending a local home school conference, I feel renewed in a purpose, zeal and direction in homeschooling. In a handful of blog posts coming soon, I hope to capture a few of the highlights both Toby and I experienced at the conference.

Leading up to the conference, I felt overwhelmed. I knew there would be a huge number of booths to visit. Curriculum to peruse. Work books to pick out. Seminars to hear. So many things to take in. A big part of me was actually nervous to go. "How will I know what curriculum to pick?" was my biggest question. And the question that I wanted so desperately to answer because I KNEW that would be the final end to our pre-homeschooling journey.

Guess what? I left without having that question answered. And ironically enough, it's the last question on my mind now. Why? Because the purpose we have as a homeschooling family isn't going to be found in a work book. Or a curriculum. Or an answer key. Those things are some of the tools to bring the end result of education but they're not the only thing. I was inspired by this quote:

"Never let schooling interfere with your education." (Mark Twain)

Our goals in home educating our kids are summed up in a 3 step philosophy that was described by the director of Institute for Excellence in Writing, Andrew Pudewa, during one of the seminars:

:: Character
:: Knowledge
:: Skills

These three things are not taught in a work book. Or even in the best curriculum. They are taught in a balanced approach to education. Without character, knowledge and skills are futile. Without knowledge, character and skills are not retained. And without skills, character and knowledge are not communicated accurately. Here again, work books and curriculum can help to bring the results of a Character-Knowledge-Skills education but they are not the one and only option. Nor do they guarantee success in education.

The public school system has set up a status quo that all children from the ages of 6-17 must comply to. This concept is confined to a "conveyor belt education." And once a kid lags behind or even falls off the conveyor belt, he is pushed back until he can catch up.

Equally damaging, if a kid happens to go faster than the conveyor belt allows him to, he is thwarted and limited in his learning. He can't reach his full potential as an individual.

Public school offers a lot. They offer a one-size-fits-all learning experience that doesn't address who the kids are as an individual. The example was given that a 10 year old automatically has the number 4 on all his work books. If he can't keep up with the studies in his book, he gets behind. Behind what?! Work books are notorious to being too slow for a child. That results in a bored kid who is learning a fraction of what he could be learning. A work book can also be too fast for a child which of course produces a frustrated kid who hates school.

Many home school parents think that if they can create a learning environment at home comparable to their own schooling experience they had in a classroom, their kids will feel like school is important. That school is fun. That school is separate from mundane home life. Obviously, it is very hard to not do to our kids what was done to many of us who were raised in public or private school. We think an education is found in a work book and as long as our kids complete their work books, pass their tests and never lag behind other kids their age, they are successful home school kids.

A speaker (Andrew Pudewa) at the home school conference (whom I have quoted subtly several times in this blog already and who is MUST to listen to if he's ever in your area) has a degree in teaching. His concept and knowledge of the English language is above average. But, he admits himself that his "greatest handicap is his own education."

It was freeing to listen to his Two Step program for home school parents that get frustrated and wonder if they have the option of sending their kids to school. Parents can take this test before they make the decision to put their kids on the bus:

1:: Read all the text books your child would learn

2:: Sit through one day of class and observe the setting, teaching style and potential teacher and classmates

If you can approve of steps 1-2, you are ready to send your kids to public school.

Though private Christian schools are usually seen as a better option than public school, they still have adapted the one-size-fits-all methodology of teaching. The Conveyor Belt method is commonly used in these classroom settings as well. Competition is the driving force of our children's education. Many home schoolers have also taken this approach to educating their kids at home and hope to come up with different and more positive results than the public and private school settings. We can't do the same thing and expect different results.

So, answering the "will you home school or send your kids to school" question is an easy question to answer. It demands a yes-or-no type answer which is quite easy to give. But then there's the next question: "Why don't you send your kids to a good Christian school?" Up until this past weekend this was a little harder for me to articulate. Now I have the answer,

"Sometimes doing a good thing is the enemy of doing the best thing."

And that's why we'll home school.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Highlights Things I Learned While Being Sick

:: If your regular body temp is barely above 97F, and you happen to find out that you have a body temperature of 99.6F, you are definitely sick.

:: When you suddenly feel achy all over for no obvious reason, you have either come down with the flu or you have the first symptoms of an incurable terminal illness.

:: Ibuprofen is God's gift to mankind: use it wisely and take it rarely.

:: Just because you feel better after taking ibuprofen, don't fool yourself into thinking that you are indeed better. It's a hoax.

:: Pesto sauce is good to eat when you're sick. It can't look any worse coming up as it does going down.

:: End-of-day frappiccinos are a good way to lift every one's spirit. And use up milk that will otherwise go bad tomorrow.

:: If your head hurts, your eye sockets are charged with pain, your eye balls shoot shards of agony down to your toes, the backs of your legs have that post-marathon-ache to them and you'd just rather sleep all day, don't worry: you have the flu.

:: Blogging in bed is not for the weak. Trust me on this, I know.

:: Just because no body believe you're sick, doesn't mean you're not sick.

:: The longer you keep the old fashioned mercury thermometer in your mouth, the higher the mercury rises. Weird.

:: If you're sick of being sick, don't use the mind-over-matter method on yourself. It doesn't work. You will end up sicker.

:: If your symptoms disappear for a few days and you think your better, watch out.

:: A dull, throbbing back ache, 99.6F fever and a post-marathon ache in your legs are three prime symptoms of sickness. Especially if you haven't run a marathon any time recently. Just be glad your eye sockets are better.

:: Vacillating between being cold and hot is a good practice system for young women. I bet it helps prepare you for menopause.

:: Never underestimate the power of a shower. Take one every hour to keep from being sour.

:: Short term memory loss is synonymous with a fever and it's not, um, I can't remember the point I was going to make... never mind. I can't even remember what synonymous means for sure right now. I must've learned that word pretty recently.

:: If you make your bed while harboring a fever, you will automatically lose favors in your day. People just assume you must not be THAT sick if you can make your bed.

:: 24 hour flu bugs are definitely better than 168 hour flu bugs.

:: Don't think hard; use calculators as much as possible. Especially for big numbers... like how many hours are in a week.

:: If you make mental notes in your head like how you're going to get from point A to point B and you notice that point A and point B are only a few feet apart, you probably have the flu. Or a dreaded incurable illness.

:: If you think you have spinal meningitis and can barely squint at the computer screen you just staggered to in order to read the list of symptoms, save yourself the hassle: without an incredibly high fever and frequent bouts of nausea, you are fine. Well, you're fine in the sense that you don't have spinal meningitis. Welcome to the flu.

:: If you never get sick, don't say that.

:: I had a little birdy, her name was Enza. I opened the window and Influenza!

:: Don't hang around sick people.

:: When everything hurts, don't forget to breath.

:: Always wash your hands after using the bathroom, wiping your nose, scratching your back, putting on your socks, touching a door knob, licking your fingers, scratching your ear, fixing your hair, sorting dirty laundry, sweeping the floor, brushing your teeth, buttoning your shirt and making your bed. You never know how the flu is going to spread.

:: Finally, at all costs, avoid the flu.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Chewiest Brownies

Our favorite brownie recipe. Even a 7 year old I know enjoys making these.

1 cup cocoa

1 cup flour

2 cups white sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup melted butter

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Batter should be very thick and sticky.

Line 9x13 pan with greased parchment paper. Spread mixture into prepared pan.

Bake at 300 for 30 minutes. Garnish with 1/3 cup powdered sugar if desired.

These brownies are a rich chocolate brownie, very chewy and not cakey at all. Note the equal amount of cocoa to flour.

Thoroughly enjoyed without frosting.

Friday, March 20, 2009

When Foggy Brains and Guinea Pigs Don't Mix

Today Janae was holding our one and only breed-able female guinea pig.

And as she sat on the floor holding our one and only breed-able guinea pig in her lap, the guinea pig did what guinea pigs do: it jumped. And kinda started to run. You know, away from us.

Janae did what Janae does at all the wrong times. She just sat there. Now, had it been church or mealtime or a place and setting that requires "just sitting," she would've responded in a different manner. Or I should say, she would've likely responded in a different manner... I'm not God so how can I accurately predict the behavior of a person? Especially if the person is my own daughter, right?

As I lunged for the guinea pig and repositioned it in my daughters lap, I imagined a worse case scenario where the one and only breed-able guinea pig WOULD jump and run away and stay gone. And I mentally calculated the best formula that could be used to catch the run-a-way-pig.

In my sleep deprived, it's-been-a-long-day frame of mind, I decided the best solution would be to also let our one and only breed-able male guinea pig loose and hope he could find our one and only breed-able female guinea pig. Surely fate instinct would lead them together.

Then, the two of them could do, well, what guinea pigs do best and from that union would likely spring forth an average of about 2-3 baby guinea pigs and voila: we'd have about 5 chances of catching a guinea pig thus improving our chances of catching a wild loose pig.

My math skills have always been poor but I was impressed with the mental calculation that redundantly played over in my foggy brain that day. I concluded that our chance of retrieving a live pig and adding it to our diminished herd of guinea pigs would best be achieved if there were more than just one pig loose, but rather a generous amount of five.

As I assessed the repercussions of such reproductive activities, I wondered what the cat would think about this idea. Not that there's a connection or anything but when I thought of the cat, I was also reminded of the building inspector, should we ever need him for future projects. And what about the bank inspector should we ever decide to refinance? Or the tax assessor? Or even our friends should we ever have any of them over?

I decided an investment in live traps would be the most economical option because seriously, who wants to be involved in the topic of wild rumors of guinea pigs or to be known as The People Who Live In The House Crawling With Real Live Guinea Pigs?

For some reason, I sure don't.

I would hate to use our home as a guinea pig for what happens when guinea pigs get loose. That's not the Guinness-Book-of-World-Record's-page I would like to hold a title to. And if not even I would be impressed to hold that kind of popularity, who would?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A Feline Frenzy

I live with this guy who likes cats. And since this guy also happens to be my husband, I have to choose to like cats too. The only other option available is to hate the cat. But I have a sneaking suspicion that such arrangement would leave me feeling a little stressed out all day long. And I really don't want my husband to have to deal with that.

So I choose to like the cat. End of story.

Now, if it's a nice cat that always uses it's litter box on a regular basis and doesn't tear apart the leather recliner and doesn't infest the house with fleas, I can be cool with such a cat. I guess I assumed my litmus test for cat standards was just limited to those three things.

Until recently.

Actually, quite recently.

About 4 minutes ago, I realized that a fourth requirement has been evaluated and definitely certified for the Domesticated Feline Litmus (Aptitude) Test (Exam) -- or the DEFLATE test:

In order for the domesticated female feline to survive it's entire feline lifespan, it must never participate in the practice of fertility sounds and rituals. These sounds and rituals include but are not limited to:
  • Vocalized purring
  • Incessant meowing
  • Loud vocalized cat sounds that sound slightly robotic
  • Weird vocalized cat sounds performed with lots of feline body movement
  • Pounding on OUR bedroom door at night (especially during the 12:00am - 4:30am range)
  • Insisting on pounding on said bedroom door at night
  • Resuming annoying cat sounds
  • Never stopping the vocalization of fertility mating call and feline body movement
  • Vocalized purring blended with ghost-like-sounding meowing
  • All above descriptions combined

If only I had started a college fund for my kids. Because, IF I had such a college fund, I would find it well worth it to spend on spaying this about to be killed annoying cat: who wants a parent who is known by the neighborhood children as the mom who killed the pet house cat with her bare hands?

I know my children sure don't. But right now, I really don't care...

"Here kitty, kitty..."

Monday, March 16, 2009

Where is the BRIGHT Side?

I am greatly irritated.

I don't easily get this irritated by something that is so completely out of my control. I actually never get irritated ever. I actually see the bright side of something even if it seems inevitably gloomy when I first look on. This time there is no bright side for me. This time I am irritated to the greatest dimension. And that is seriously irritated.

When I was a little girl Not long before I got married, I envisioned what my future home would look like. It would have tons of dimly lit lamps scattered through out the house and all bright-well-lit areas would demand a warm, homey glow while maintaining a healthy brightness. There was never going to be a green/blue hue to any room in my house. Except for maybe the garage since my husband would probably insist on it like most guys tend to do.

What I'm saying is I would never, ever, EVER have fluorescent light bulbs. Ever. I was a die-hard incandescent light-bulb fan. That was the only team I supported. Some people get excited about a funny shaped a prolate spheroid shaped ball that bounces obnoxiously if it lands on the ground but wins a player a lot of money if he can catch it, throw it and kick it right. Not me. I'm all about the light bulb.

My greatest hero The most impressive inventor was Thomas Edison. Do you know how many times it took him to make the light bulb? Think about for awhile Google that and then try to grapple with the hard facts of life that all that work was for nothing. Why? Because some freak guy named Ed Hammer took too many trips into the laboratory and designed a complete onslaught to the world of incandescent. Seriously, that guy should drop the capitalization of the first letter of his last name, and drop a hammer on his project. Better yet, he could just drop himself on the whole thing and we all could be glad that a Hammer destroyed the sterile-mercury-infested-greenish/blue-hued world that is soon to be ours.

Oh the memories of the incandescent bulb... all the boxes and cartons of thin globes of glass that lined store shelves with the internal design created for human comfort. The glow of warm houses glittering with the brightness of one of the world's greatest inventions. The simplicity of changing out a life-well-lived bulb and swirling into it's place the newness of a white bulb.

All that's over folks.

Because of the federal energy bill former President George Bush signed into office, all incadescent light bulbs will be banned for production by the year 2014. You will now feel as much at home in a doctor's office as you do in your own home: the cold lighting will be identical. If you ever find yourself in jail, don't worry; the ambiance won't be any different than your own bedroom. Stores, hospitals, gas stations, convenience stores, they'll have the same thing in common with your own home: a green/blue glow.

Get to know where your toxic waste facilities are. In the event your new-lasts-for-nine-years-environment-friendly-fluorescent-bulb SHOULD go bad, it doesn't go in the trash like normal light bulbs do. Nope. These things need special attention. Being tortured by the wicked devices during their life-time isn't enough; at the time of their death, they are allotted a special burial and you end up having to baby them even more.

When it comes time to changing the light bulb that has completely messed up your world, don't handle the spiral-handle-of-death like you would the good ole' light bulb. That baby glowing in your house is infected with strains of mercury that in the event it should explode, it is recommended that you should leave the room for at least 15 minutes. If you can't leave, I imagine holding your breath for that long would suffice.

Where you can actually learn more about what I'm talking about.

Seriously. They recommend using wet paper towels, rubber gloves, sticky tape and a sealed plastic bag to clean up the toxic waste explosion of mercury flavored shards of glass. Of course this is after you have left the room for 15 minutes, allowing the chance of mercury contamination to go way down.

My question is, who will be the responsible citizen and transport the failed F-Bulbs sealed in a plastic bag to a toxic waste facility? The general public is unaware of the requirements demanded in order to safely destroy the F-Bulbs. The next thing that will happen is innocent people will be duped into arrests since they are handling toxic waste without certification, without degrees in Fluorescentology and without permits to retire the burned out bulbs in a waste-land.

The above link should help the general public understand the implication of these evil new advances in technology. So we're saving our planet by 'going green' but how healthy can it be to leak mercury in our soil? How responsible is it to save the ozone layer (or whatever it is the environmentalists are trying to save through the F-Bulb) but infect our bodies with exposure to toxic chemicals? What about nature? Animals? Trees? The world we hope to pass on to our children?

I'm being totally irrational about this I'm trying to think like an environmentalists would in my attempts to understand the purpose, the sanity, the wisdom in inventing and implementing the fluorescent light bulb. I completely object and think that if some freak person decides to 'go green' with their lifestyle, fine. They have that right. And if they think the fluorescent light bulb enables them to 'go green' -- since one 100 watt F-Bulb only uses 23 watts of energy whereas one 100 watt I-Bulb uses all 100 watts of energy -- then all the more power to them.

That green/blue glow is a good picture of 'go green' since it shines for 9 years (according to the manufacturer) with a eery greenish hint. Have you ever observed somebody standing under a F-Bulb light? They're green. Their skin is green and even their hair will have hints of green. The walls have an inky green to them and the very air they breath seems to be tinted with green. Seriously, 'go green' is a good way to put it.

I, on the other hand, am in favor if the incandescent light bulb and forever it will hold a warm, glowing memory in my heart as I trod heavy-hearted onward into the years of soil contamination in our mercury laced environment. If I want to 'go green,' I'll plant a tree. Or paint a wall green. Or raise a garden. Or water the lawn.

The F-Bulb isn't for me. I'm holding a daily candle vigil for the passing of a good thing: the incandescent light bulb. May it forever rest in peace for the good deed it has served us all these years.

Down with Ed Hammer and all the politicians who insist on destroying my incandescent little world. Down with the F-Bulb.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Another Thing the Banks do Wrong

Have you ever dreaded going to the bank? Even to deposit a check? Or cash a check? I'm not talking about having to make a payment or groan over plummeting financial amounts or check in your savings account to find a dry barrel. I'm talking about going to the bank. Period.

I dread it. Every time. Even to cash or deposit a check.

And the dread has a little something to do with that basket of candy sitting by the drive-through window that my kids covet.

Why can't it be an option to give the kids a sticker? Or a pen? Or even an unused envelope they could lick and then taste the stuff that adheres the envelope shut? Why candy? All it is is cavity-causing-hyper-reactive sweet stuff on the end of a card board stick. Or, in other words, Dum-Dums. (perfect name, by the way.)

I put off going to the bank for days, simply because I don't want to have to go through the drive through, get candy, not give it to the kids (because it's meal time/they already have 4 cavities/they'll get sticky... etc.) and then have them chew me out the whole way home because their candy is not with them.

The latest convincing conversation I had with a certain then-four-year-old (he's 5 now) was, "Mom, I can reach it!" as he strained as far as he could in his strapped in car seat at the very back of the van. He was definitely a good 17 feet away. Okay, not quite that far but it may as well have been. I strained back at him with the candy in my hand and we were still 14 feet apart.

Don't worry; I avoided swerving into the oncoming traffic but had my hand slipped a mere inch, the catastrophe the Dum-Dum would've caused would be cause for a ban on Candy Giving Bank Ladies.

This is serious stuff, people. Somebody needs to stop the impending disaster those "sweet" ladies are liable to cause. I call for a boycott on banks until the baskets of candy are put in a secure metal location with a black rubber lid on top. In other words, in the dumpster.

Maybe this would also help the economy as well since mothers wouldn't be stretched to the end of themselves because their candy craving kids are begging them for the bank candy resulting in mothers making unwise business decisions like whether or not she should let the kids have the candy while she treats herself to $4 iced caramel machiatto on the way home from the bank.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Landon Lines, Janae Jems

After Five Comes...?
"How long before I'm five?" Landon asked me one day.

"On March second," I answered him.

"And then how long before I'm twenty?"

An Important Question
"Dad, what happens if you don't hold your pee?" Landon asked.

Toby replied honestly, "You'd pee all over yourself."

"Oh," Landon said, satisfied with the answer.

A Trade-In
Just making conversation one day, I asked Landon a question. One of his friends recently got a new baby sister and I wondered what Landon thought about it. So, I asked him for no reason at all other than to pique my curiosity, "Do you want a new sister?"

He looked over at Janae and nodded his head and said, "Yeah, I want to get rid of Janae and get a new sister."

So That's What They Call Them These Days
One morning I heard Janae intently trying to get the front door open.

"Janae, don't go outside yet," I instructed her.

"I just want to ring the dinner bell," she said, referring to the new doorbell.

Heaven on Earth
"Is our church heaven?" Landon asked one day.

"No, it's not," I informed him, wondering why he'd come up with that question.

"Then why was there a dead body there one time?" he said, thinking back to a funeral.

Someone You Love Is A Husband
"I can't wait for my husband to get here," Janae was overheard saying the other day.

"Janae, you don't have a husband, " we explained.

"Yes I do!" she exclaimed excitedly. "Grandpa and Grandma are my husband!"

A few questions heard around our house recently...

How do angels fly? (Landon)

If an angel goes back into heaven, how does the sky get fixed? (Landon)

Did all of Gene's hair holes get too big and his hair fell out? (Landon, referring to a balding friend.)

Monday, March 09, 2009

Time Stops For No Man

Not to stay in the category of morbidity and death, but I've been thinking about the implications of TIME. No matter what happens, what changes, what comes and what leaves, time goes on. And on. Unmolested by weather, politics, economy, love, sadness, happiness, suffering... time stops for no man.

The assurance of God and the faithfulness of His promise of life eternal is a concept I find refreshing to re-grasp. Even though time's heartless brutality marches past us undaunted by our lack of desire to go on in life after tragedy strikes, God's tender love is that much more present and compassionate.

Just a random thought I had that seemed to appear in this post.

In an attempt to clean out my draft bin again, I ran across a few unfinished posts. So, I've wrapped a few of those up, polished a couple others off and updated some random topics I've thought of over the past several months.

I am also hoping to re-institute the ongoing saga of "Landon Lines, Janae Jems" but may end up re-using a few of their quips in the coming post because I was unsure about the publishing status of a few of them. After this next week, everything should be fresh and new once again.

Also, if any readers make comments or questions in the comment box, I hope to answer those publicly on my blog in the future. Maybe do a monthly/weekly type "Q & A" post. So, let the comments begin.

No guarantees on the consistency of my upcoming blogging. I seem to have a bad case of writer's block right now. Hopefully I'll find a cure-all that will last for more than a couple weeks and will have a few more blogging moments than I've had in recent weeks.

Now, back to regular posting...

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Life Beyond my Blog

So it's been what, like 6 weeks since I posted last? Yeah, it's been awhile.

If you think my posting habits were the only thing that changed, you're wrong. Everything has changed in my life... even down to the location of my computer.

Unless you don't want to read a list of things that have changed in the past weeks, skip down to the end of this blog where it says, "posted at such and such an hour." That's the part of the show where this post will come to an end.

Those of you that are still reading, here's my bucket list completed...

The kitchen changed. It grew a new pantry and the bliss it brings is almost as unbelievably miraculous as the magic beans in the Jack and the Beanstalk story. (In case you are as uneducated as I was until recently, you can ask my kids that story. They're pretty up on that story since they ask Toby to tell it every night after supper.)

On that same note, my knowledge of Jack and the Beanstalk changed... I now know the story. The rest of the story.

The dining room changed. A doorway was blocked off, boarded up and filled in with a book shelf on both sides and a china cabinet flanking the edges of the old doorway. Yeah, a picture is worth a thousand words so I'll just shut up until I get a picture to post. Another doorway was bored into the wall and for days several hours it rained lathe and plaster dust. You could write your name in the dining room table and come back later and write something else.

A new stair way was etched into the blue print of our house and at last, the "stairway leading no where just for show" (a Fiddler on the Roof moment there, sorry) had a place to end up: the new "stair room" as we seem to call it. It's our old room and is simply an extension of the dining room now but we're still adjusting to the newness of the stairway location. You can still catch Toby (and myself, I'll admit) heading through the kitchen to "go downstairs" since that's where our old steps were. One day Toby did that with an arm load of 12' long pieces of lumber. Talk about going the wrong way on a one way street. (our kitchen is only about 6' wide....)

Our room is changed. Our old room is no longer a bedroom; our new room is no longer what it was before it was our room. I know that sounds confusing but if you think about it, it makes sense. At least to me it does. You see, our new room used to be Janae's room and a play room and a storage room for a bunch of stuff that would fit in the tiny closet and under the low bed. Toys littered everything. Clothes covered the toys littering everything. It was rarely a pleasant site. Now it's practically a honeymoon suite. And the bed is high, which was a big deal to me since I have always always always wanted a high bed.

Our house now has a hallway. A big feat for our tiny abode. And because it now has a hallway, our bedroom and bathroom now present themselves as a master bedroom suite. It's so sweet.

Organization has changed. Basically, organizing is happening around here at last, folks. I have always loved to organize and find just the perfect canisters and boxes and bins and baskets to fit everything just right. Now I have room to actually put all the organizational boxes and bins and baskets and stuff away. I was so excited that I didn't know where to start. So I went to the store one day and while looking at 12" high containers to store dry goods in, I noticed that the container was dishwasher safe: TOP RACK dishwasher safe, that is. And it all made me wonder what kind of scam that was to get you to buy an item with the assurance that you could actually conveniently wash it in a dishwasher. Have you checked your top rack in your dishwasher? There ain't no 12" clearance in mine, I'm afraid. Needless to say, I washed it in the sink... the old fashioned way.

Our marriage changed. We gained an anniversary and have ended up in the "6 year of marriage" bracket. Due to pre-committed to plans, we had to delay the celebration of our anniversary until a later date which we commenced upon at the earliest convenience. We had a lot of fun eating without 3 children spilling their drinks and dropping food and begging for egg nog. (Janae's latest kick.) We talked uninterrupted about the serious things in life like survival in the case of disaster, the importance of water sanitation and what to do in a nuclear attack. We went to Menards. We balanced the Menards trip with a quick stop at TJ Maxx. We like to maintain a sense of balance in our marriage. (that's why he's tall and I'm short(er).)

My brother and brother-in-law left for their last stint of training before heading to Iraq for a year. It's a weird mixture of hope and sadness and admiration that I feel when I think about that. A blend of emotions not often experienced in life. We pray for them daily and trust God to keep them safe. And bring them home!

I became an aunt to a pea sized baby. (compliments of my sister before her husband left for Iraq).

I also became an aunt to bean sized baby. (compliments of my sister-in-law who is a little farther along than my sister.)

And I even became an aunt to a 10-pound-bag-of-potatoes-sized baby. (compliments of another generous sister-in-law.) This baby is close by though and is the snuggliest, sweetest, darlingest little guy you could ever meet. I feel partial to him because he looks a lot like my boys did and in some ways feel like I could legally kidnap him and get away with it since he is very much Nelson.

(All these babies appearing in my life make me feel left out and like I should be joining in the baby boom.)

We have a guest room now. A little bed-and-breakfast-suite-guest room right off our front door. If you should ever need a place to stay while in these parts of the world, we have a bed for you. And a few pillows too. I guess because I have no tiny baby to consume my time with, I can focus on completing projects and organizing and painting and decorating. Something I haven't done for a few years.

Our cat had kittens, raised the kittens and then moved the kittens on. Well, she didn't do all of that by herself of course but you know what I mean. Our cat also was declawed which makes the level of stress in our home go down to about -0 since she can come upstairs without savaging the leather recliner.

What used to be a leaky basement with ugly cement walls now is our family room, a very compatible-to-life laundry room, a semi-organized storage area and a nice clean office space for the husband. Like I said, everything pretty much has changed around here.

Our basement project is complete... at least for the next 5 years.

And finally, even my blog has changed: it has a new post. With all that change going on, it seems that a change in my blog would've just happened -- I mean, if even my tiny kitchen could grow a pantry, surely my blog could just grow a post, right? Well, now it's happened.

Thanks to all who check back often to see if I've updated. I really hope to never leave you hanging for so long. But, in the event I do, here's some of my favorite blogs of the week to visit....

The mom to that 'Pea Sized' baby

An amazing kitchen make-over for $10

Life in a Shoe

Tammy's Recipes (it doesn't just have recipes either.)

A friend of mine who lacks consistency in blogging (but what she does have, old though it may be, is still worth your reading time.)

A friend of mine in the tropics of central America supporting families pursuing homeschooling (lots of fun pictures... except they do eat guinea pigs there.)

For fear I may leave out certain blogs that I don't intend to slight, I'll stop right there with my list of favorite blogs this week. There are a ton more I'd recommend and enjoy but I need to move along and cease from hyperlinking anymore links into this post. Duty calls...