Tuesday, October 29, 2013

before dawn

Up before the dawn and the house is already mostly empty.

Aaron was out the door by 5 a.m.  He's on his ferry route today.  He'll spend the day hopping from island to island checking on accounts and doing scheduled stops.  I don't envy the hard work but I do envy the ferry rides and the scenery he gets to take in.

Austin was out the door by 5:45 for rifle team practice.  He likes to get there early to help set-up.  He and I are both looking forward to Thursday as I am planning on joining him at practice, as a bystander.  It's awful early, dreadful early that side of the morning but my show of support and interest in his interests trumps the extra sleep.

Last night I took in a wrestling practice.  My Blake gets so intense.  He has a fire inside him just like his dad.  But when the whistle sounds to stop he's out of it that quick.  His practice partner is also his friend and they challenge each other, make each other better.  And my husband as coach, his heart is for those kids.  He gets down on the level of the little 5 year olds and listens to their silly questions about "how far away is Arkansas?" and he doesn't dismiss them, but cares.  That's a good coach.

Do you know the feeling you get when you can feel God working?  The feeling that He has drawn near and is peering into your very heart?  After a time in a spiritual "desert" this is welcome.  But I know that it is not really Him that has drawn near as He never stepped away.  It is I that have turned my face toward His and stepped closer.  A return.  A humbled return.  And I step into His mercy and rejoice in His presence.

My coffee cup is almost empty.  Time for a refill then some schoolwork correcting.  It is my least favorite thing and as a homeschool teacher I get to do it ALL THE TIME.  My students do a lot of work on their own and this is my way to feel the heartbeat, to monitor the strengths or weaknesses, to address any issues.  It is the responsible thing to do when the irresponsible in me wants to bundle up and go for a walk in the early morning chill and watch the leaves fall.

Happy Tuesday!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

beautiful day and balancing and being rounded

Beautiful Saturday.  I woke to sunshine, warm, golden sunshine.  This gave way to overcast and more fog rolling in again.  But it's still beautiful Saturday. 

I spent the morning grocery shopping in my hoodie and comfy shoes.  Early Saturday grocery shopping is full of elderly folks, cute, white-haired couples that have been doing this for decades.  They make me smile.  But they're not always good with a shopping cart.  Me, I maneuver the aisles expertly with a coffee in one hand and list in the other.  The balancing act reminds of when I could, and would frequently, cook a full meal with a baby on my hip.

It's a different kind of balancing act now.  No babies on the hip.  This past week was a balance of workschoolmeetingpracticeerrandschurchlaundrypaybillschimneysweephuntinggrocerystoregas.  Wrestling practices are in full swing.  Blake loves.  Blake is sore.  Austin has four times a week rifle team practice (out the door by 5:50 a.m. on his own!).  We had a meeting last week with the rifle team and were educated a bit more on what this sport is, and got to know the coach better.  Over the next few months we'll be attending some  wrestling tournaments and some rifle matches. 

I do love supporting my boys.  And I do love the rounded education they are receiving.  Maybe it is my experience in homeschooling or maybe it is just my own mindset but I view everything we allow in our boys' lives as education, as one part of the everything we are instilling in them.  Like today, Austin is hunting with Pastor.  This is not an accident, not a time filler.  He is learning; learning to be a man, learning to hunt, learning independence from his parents.  And while Blake is at a friend's for the day today, he is learning friendship, widening his world a little, seeing how things run in another Christian homeschooling family. 

Homeschooling in not about the books we use, or the amount of hours we spend in instruction, or the tests we take.  This is one part of the whole.  When I take the boys grocery shopping and teach them about how to choose produce or how to read labels or how to get the most for their money this is one part of the whole.  When Blake is sweating on the wrestling mat, one part of the whole.  When Austin is sitting in class under the instruction of a respected Navy Chief, one part.  When the boys are working together at yardwork, one part.  And yes, when we are sitting together late in the evening working through Math, this is one part, or two parts because the child is learning dedication and sacrifice along with Math.  It all works together as part of the whole.

Phew.  I didn't mean to get on a spiel.  <<<I had to look that word up.  I initially spelled it "schpeel".


Now that my groceries are mostly put away I'm looking into the second half of Saturday.  Since the rest of the family is gone it is rather quiet.  On my agenda: cooking, baking, yard work, and painting my nails.

Happy Saturday!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

tales from the inside

Have you ever wondered what a waitress eats whilst serving delicious, well presented food to hungry patrons?  This is what I have learned from being on the inside.

Most times the server tries to eat before coming to work because the affront of scents coming from the kitchen are just too much to handle.  Eat at home, eat something that will sustain for the whole shift because for that whole shift you are going to be staring at food.

If the server has no time or forgets to eat before shift there is always the method of bringing in your own quick eating food.  Yogurt is easy.  Cut up veggies are a good option.  The key is to pick something that will keep you full and satisfied so as not to be distracted by the tantalizing meals you are serving to your guests.

If the server has not eaten at home and has also failed to bring in a safe back-up she (or he) will fall victim to desirous hunger of the eyes and stomach.  In this case she will either a) order a big juicy burger made custom by one of the cooks or b) eat the mistakes of the kitchen (too many fries, messed up salad, etc...).  Either instance is a bad decision.

Sometimes the entire shift will be so busy, so full of serving and running and doing that there is not a moment to even remember food.  In this case the server, worn down from a long hard shift, journeys home, the only place in the world that she can throw off her shoes, swing open the frig to find leftovers, pop said leftovers in the microwave for a bit and enjoy instant home cooking.

This is my story. 

Monday, October 21, 2013


Outside my window...  Today is overcast.  Chilly.  I caved in and turned on our new baseboard heaters for the first time this morning, just to take the chill out of the house.  We've not been able to use our fireplace yet as it's not been cleaned and inspected.  I'm itching for an evening in, spent in front of the fire.
I am thinking...  Honestly, today I'm just tired.  Pooped.  I'm working 5 days a week, schooling my kids, keeping my house running, and using my day off to do chores and yardwork.  I'm thankful for all of it but I'm just really tired.
I am thankful...  For an employer willing to work with me and allow me to drop down to 4 work days a week next month.  I am enjoying my job, even when it's super busy and I spilled soup on my shoe and forgot to bring someone a takeout box.  I can feel myself getting more adept, less overwhelmed.  And looking forward to an extra day at home each week.
In the kitchen...  Aaron's birthday is tomorrow.  He couldn't decide between German Chocolate Cake or Cheesecake so I'm getting clever and making him a German Chocolate Cheesecake!  Birthday dinner will be lasagna.  But all that is tomorrow.  Tonight we're having BBQ baked chicken and potatoes.  And something baked and pumpkin-ish.
I am wearing...  black work pants, black work shirt, purple and grey striped cardigan, ponytail.
I am creating...  garden plans because SPRING will be here before we know it and I'm putting in a vegetable garden this year.  Yee-haw!  
I am looking forward to...  Tonight is first wrestling practice of the season.  Only Blake is wrestling this year as Austin has enough on his plate already.  Blake is excited to get to ride his bike to practice (independence).
I am learning...  I'm always reminding myself to be BOLD.  Because I'm not.  But as I age I find that I acquire boldness, shed some insecurity.  I find myself whispering under my breath "be bold", just those two words that hold a world of meaning.  Bold in word, in action, in choices.  I am not bold because I hold any boldness in and of myself but because I am called to be bold.
Around the house...  We've lived in this house for just under 2 months now and already rearranged furniture.  Still settling in.  But, I just love it here.  I love our home.  We have so many projects we want to do.  But this is ours.  Ours for real.
A little peek into my day...
  • 7:00 out of bed
  • 7:30 complete wrestling registration
  • 8:00 make pumpkin pancakes with Blake
  • 8:45 make jokes with the kids until my abs ache from laughing
  • 9:45 leave for work
  • 2:45 drop off drycleaning
  • 2:50 visit Vision Care for an eyeglasses adjustment
  • 3:00 grocery store for cheesecake ingredients
  • 4:45 baking
  • 5:30 schoolwork corrections
  • 7:00 make dinner
  • 8:15 feed hungry wrestler and his coach
  A favorite quote for today...
The greatest oak
was once a little nut
who held his ground.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

the business of Saturday

What a great, productive Saturday it's been!  Woke up to a foggy, drippy kind of morning.  Aaron was already gone to work.  Eased out of bed and made a coffee.
The boys and I stacked the cord of wood we had delivered today.  It was quick work.  We are so used to hauling, splitting, stacking that to have most of the work already done for us was really nice.  And it's good wood too, dry and ready to burn.
I've been a house cleaning fool today too.  Floors are swept and mopped.  Bathroom is scrubbed.  The dogs even both had their baths and are sparkly and fluffy.
Tomorrow at church we are having a potluck lunch with an "International Cuisine" theme.  I wanted to choose something I'd never done before so I went with the country of Israel.  I've already made what I'll be taking.
  1. Israeli Chicken Sofrito - a main dish with potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, and chicken; cooked in a big enamel pot.
  2. Israeli Salad - chopped salad made of cucumber, tomato, mint, parsley with a lemon/oil dressing
  3. Kadorei Shokolad - truffle-style sweets, coated in: a) cocoa, b) almonds, or c) gold sprinkles
Now that all those things are done I'm going to spend a couple of hours waging the battle of the ivy.  I've mostly healed from the last battle so I figure it's a good time to get back into it.

Tomorrow will be spent at church.  All of us together as a family with our church family.  Next week we dive back into it.  Wrestling starts up for Blake and my husband, head coach.  We will also celebrate Aaron's birthday on Tuesday (he's 36).  Rifle team members and their parents have a meeting one evening.  And we work.  And we chug along through school.  And this is how we do it.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


I am blistered, scratched, and bruised.  The ivy is not going down without a fight.   But fight, I will.  And more than that, I will prevail.

Our backyard came overgrown with ivy.  The back fence not even visible.  The four trees that grow back there are being suffocated by it.  We knew it would be a battle that would take time.  Ivy is tough.

But what I didn't know is that it would be so fun to cut down.  And I'm not even being sarcastic!  With each vine cut the tree trunks are freed, the fence is revealed.  It is all very rewarding.

Here is the corner of the yard that has not been touched.  There is a fence in there, and two trees.

Here is the middle of the back fence.  I was having so much fun making progress that I probably would have worked till dark but my husband called me off of it.  But you can see the trunk of a tree that had once been camouflaged by ivy.  You can also see the neighbor's house.  They have a little white dog that was highly unnerved by all the racket that was going on at the fence. 

And here is the corner that I have mostly completed.  There are still vines on the ground that will need to be cut and the fence is going to need to be fixed but the amount of difference is remarkable.  I love the reward of physical labor.

Before and after: 
I also came upon the labor of some bird.  A well constructed nest was nestled in the large vines up next to a tree.  They had used some trash and sticks and glued it all together with mud.  I had to remove the nest to be able to fully remove the ivy but I'm pretty sure it is not inhabited at this time.  With how thick the ivy is I'm positive it will not be the only nest I find.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

current events and homeschool

Base board heaters are so much easier to pick out than curtains.  They are all white.  They are all 240 volts.  The only choice you have is 8 foot, 6 foot, or 4 foot.  Lucky for us we needed an 8 foot and a 6 foot.  Lucky us.

The dogs came away from their vet appointments with flying colors.  Silas' only issues are senior related.  I'm going to start him on a joint supplement to ease his aches.  Charlie's only issue is being too darn cute.  Ok, I made that part up.  He got his ears cleaned.  While the vet stuck a giant Q-tip in his ear he wrinkled up his face in such a contortion as I'd never seen.  He looked like a wrinkly old man holding his breath.  Each pup got a rabies shot and a pretty gold tag.  From there I went to City Hall and got each dog licensed.  Now everybody is legal.

I may have forgot to mention that our Austin made it onto the Rifle (Marksmanship) Team!!!!  Silly me, how could I neglect such a thing?  His coach has nicknamed him "Ranger" which he thinks is pretty cool.  He's one of the best shots on the team, second among Freshman to a GIRL.  ; )  Now if we can just get him as excited about his schoolwork as he is about shooting we'll be doing good.

This week I am supplementing his work with some penmanship practice.  Somewhere between the years he learned penmanship and now his handwriting skill has fallen off a cliff.  As his teacher I cannot place into society a product that has such poor handwriting.  So, supplements; some worksheets to regain the skills he learned eons ago.  I told him that when the handwriting in his schoolwork shows great improvement he can discontinue the supplemental worksheets, whether that be two days or two months is up to him.

Maybe I've mentioned it here before or maybe I just whisper it under my breath but homeschooling is one of the hardest things I've ever done.  It takes serious WORK.  It takes DEDICATION.  It takes SACRIFICE.  But, it is also one of the most rewarding things I've ever done.  Not that I am in this alone.  My husband has really taken on this yoke too and it lifted such a burden off of me that I really feel that we can continue on.  Each day is different.  Tomorrow I may be ready to throw in the towel again or it may pass by so smoothly that I want to do it all again the next day.  Just when I think we've got it all figured out life changes, or someone reaches a new level, or an emotional/spiritual hurdle.  It happens.  It's life.  And we labor on together. 

Someday I could probably write a book.  I feel so strongly about homeschooling, about educating minds, about learning in general.  It's all there in my heart but on those difficult days when my eldest son turns in schoolwork that is illegible or the youngest son forgets the skill we spent hours on just last week, it's then that I feel that I'm in over my head.  Shouldn't I just trust this stuff to the professionals?  Good days show me the fruits of the efforts though.  I see the product of the hours, the tears, the prayers, the pleas

One day this homeschooling journey will be over and into the world will venture a man that was molded in part around the dining room table, struggling through math with his under qualified mom late into the evening hours.  I'll probably miss all those hours of correcting, all those hours of one on one trying to figure out if a prepositional phrase is modifying an adjective or an adverb, trying to drill the importance of doing your best, looking ahead and realizing that we're getting into square roots and trigonometry next week (where do I opt out of this one?).



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

morning musings

It's been a gorgeous sunrise this morning.  From the first red in the eastern sky to the bright sun streaming through the windows, a gift.

I'm usually up early to get schoolwork corrections done and make sure eldest son gets out the door to his early morning activities.  Every day but one he's been up on time without any help from me.  There was the one morning he had forgotten to set his alarm and had just enough time to get dressed and brush teeth before zooming out the door.

Today we should find out if he made the Rifle Team.  There are only 8 spots available and there were a lot of kids that tried out.  He's overheard the Rifle coach and his Chief saying good things about him.  I take that as a positive sign.  Every morning he is first to class and greets the Chief who knows him now by name.  He takes all the chairs down from desks before the other kids get there.  My boy...I am proud.

Don't think that I am playing favorites between my children.  My youngest son is also uber amazing and wonderful.  Let me brag.  His schoolwork is most always neat, tidy, done well.  His room is spotless.  He daily vacuums without being asked.  His heart is soft and kind.  He still likes to sit close to me and will sometimes hold my hand.  With Austin becoming so independent I am cherishing this season with Blake, knowing full well that it will change in time.

We've really been nose to the grindstone lately.  Not too much extra time for "fun".  Between work schedules, schoolwork,  and responsibilities; it's been a treat to watch a movie as a family at night (last night was "After Earth").  Last weekend the boys and I did get some shopping in.  The way they are growing it's been sooooo hard to keep them clothed!  Value Village works wonders.  And, if you donate a bag of clothes they, in turn, give you a 20% off coupon that you can use that same day!

Opening day of hunting season is this weekend.  Guess where my guys will all be?  Totin' guns in the woods look for some meat!  And if it's sunny I may be out doing some yardwork with my pups.  Speaking of my pups...they have to get rabies shots this week.  Poor guys.  Living in city limits means we have to comply with city laws.  Boo.

Living in city limits also means we can vote for City Council members of which one of our friends is running for re-election.  I'll be securing my voter registration tomorrow and count it an honor to cast my vote for this good man.

Anyways, that is all the updating I've got for today.  Take care!

Monday, October 7, 2013

curtains ((shudder))

I despise curtain shopping.  I loathe curtains in their pretty packages and various lengths, fabrics, and styles

This story begins with the purchase of our home.  The living room and dining room sported vertical blinds, broken, with slats missing.  There is no style in plain white vertical blinds.  They are sterile and bland. 

So I set out to browsing curtains and was quickly overwhelmed.  The living room curtain needed to accent the red furniture.  The dining room curtain needed to match the living room.  The kitchen curtain needed to accent but not match the dining room which must match the living room. 

I'm not stuffy, I'm not picky, I'm not uppity so why are these curtains giving me such a hang up?!

Shopped online.  Shopped various department stores.  Shopped the giant chains.  Most every time I was met with a panic attack.

And my disdain for frilly frivolities (such as curtains) mounted.

Finally, I settled on some curtains.  They were eerily similar to the ones we had in our last house.  They came in sets of two.  I bought two sets to cover the front window and back window in one fell swoop.  And set on my way home glad the ordeal was finally over.

The ordeal was not over.

Turns out, the curtains were rather sheer where they actually covered the window.  Those two panels per package were the narrowest pieces of fabric disguised as curtains I'd seen.  And they were not attractive.   

I'm simple, really.  And I know there are women in other parts of the world that are thankful to put an old sheet up over a hole in the wall, if they are lucky enough to have a wall in the first place.

Believe me I was trying to convince my husband that we could just settle for some old sheets. 

He didn't agree.  Maybe he doesn't think about the women in those other areas of the world that are really just thankful to have that single wall with a hole in it.

So, he did what any level headed husband of a somewhat flitty wife would do and he TOOK me curtain shopping.  It could have been the muscle relaxers I had taken or it could have been his calm demeanor but meandering that curtain aisle almost felt like a breathe of fresh air.

My eyes landed on "the curtains" within moments.  And it was all so easy.

I even picked out the corresponding kitchen curtains at the same time.

The ordeal may not be quite over.  As I work my way through the bathroom and the bedrooms, ridding our home of ugly metal venetian blinds, curtains will need to be purchased.

It's a good thing my husband is longsuffering where I am concerned.  God must have given him an extra scoop of "patience with your wife".

P.S. I do not advocate the use/abuse of prescription drugs.  It is not something that should be taken lightly and just accepted.  The muscle relaxers I take are an all natural Valerian based substance, no chemicals, no addictions.  I use them to ease the muscles in my back.  And to help calm my nerves while curtain shopping.