Friday, December 21, 2012

FIR wrap up

As usual, there's good news and bad news.

When I started Katrina's Fall Into Reading Challenge, I started with a list of nine books. Well, I got more than nine books read...just not the nine books I started out with. LOL I wrote a review for each as I finished up and they are linked below.

The books I completed from the original list were The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan and The White Queen by Phillipa Gregory. They were the most enjoyable of the gaggle I read this past few months.

In the interest of getting ready for the newest release from Jim Butcher, the 14th book in the Harry Dresden series, which was released on November 27, I re-read the first six in the series: Storm Front, Fool Moon, Grave Peril, Summer Knight, Death Masks, and Blood Rites.

I dug up a nugget buried on my tablet called When the Walls Fell by Monique Martin. It was a sequel to a debut novel by the author that I also found on a Kindle freebie site and would definitively recommend it.

Another Kindle nugget was Graceling by Kristin Cashore. This I would most definitively recommend if you are looking for an older teenager fan of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, or Hunger Games.

I started Lucy and Susan Letcher's travel journal  Barefoot Sisters: Southbound but I didn't not finish it. It was a doorstop that I didn't click with.

Finally, I dug out a book off the bookshelf that I've been meaning to read called Juliet by Ann Fortier. It was a mixed bag but a fun read if you're a Shakespeare geek as well as a lover of quick-paced mysteries.

And, in further defense of my original list, three of the books from that list (Crazy Love, 10 Habits of Happy Mothers, and Furies of Calderon) have all finally come up on my wait list at the library and are the next to be read in my queue!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Corgi addiction

Never had heard of or even seen a Corgi before I met DaHubby. He was the previous owner of two when we met. I had a *meh* reaction to them at first then sticker shock when we contacted a breeder after we married in 2001 to purchase a puppy.

We named him Rolle ("rol-lee") and he absolutely captured my heart. He was my constant companion as I settled into a new area, a new home, and married life. He was my furry comfort through years of infertility and pregnancy losses. He was also my buddy during my worried-filled pregnancy with Flicka.

Sadly, he became very sick in 2005 with a liver problem when I was pregnant with Pojke and we had to put him to sleep. It has been 7 years since then. Much talk has been tossed around about getting another dog but I just couldn't consider it.

First, there were the Vikings. When Rolle passed, Flicka was in diapers and I was pregnant with Pojke. Then, Pojke was nursing...then in diapers as well. Then, I didn't want to have to potty train more than one thing at a time. LOL Then, DaHubby went back to school full time while working full time so I'd be stuck with all the dog care. Then, DaHubby got laid off so we couldn't have afforded it anyway. Then, we had the upcoming move to IL. Then, we couldn't sell the house in MI so we had to rent in IL dogs.

But, I've found that, along the way, my heart's healed enough to try again. And, while the Vikings and DaHubby discuss future boxer, chihuahua, Jack Russel terrier, and lab pro and cons, all I want is another Corgi.

I miss my Rolle-boy and love the personality of the Corgi - the intelligence, the goofiness, their comical looks. So, I'm saying it aloud to the universe...I'm ready.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

FIR: "Southbound" and "Graceling"

It's getting down to the wire here. Katrina's Fall Into Reading challenge will be wrapping up next Friday. So, I wanted to throw out two more reviews...

"Southbound" was a travel journal of two sisters who hike the Appalachian Trail top to bottom over several months. Normally, I am a fan of travelogues especially those geared to more non-commercial locations. But, I've decided I'm just getting too old. LOL So old I couldn't finish the 480+ pages. By halfway through, I was tired and bored with their post-collegiate self doubt, woe-is-me, where do I go from here, who/what do I want to be when I grow up angst.

If I was 20 years younger, I'd probably add to its multiple 5-star reviews on Amazon but not as a 40-some mother of two.

"Graceling" came as a freebie through a Kindle discount site and looked like it would tickle my sci-fi, fantasy fancy. And, oh, did it! Loved Kristin Cashore's characters, plot, conflict, and development of her fantasy world. It felt a lot like Ursula LeGuin "Earthsea"books but with a female land-bound lead instead of Ged/Sparrowhawk.

It hits all the central fantasy themes: characters with unique gifts, political battling, a journey, a crisis of conscience, evil bad guys, you know the drill. What a delight for the main character to be a female and, in a sense, the antithesis of all stereotypical female traits: brutal, focused, independent, physical, non-emotional, killer instinct.

I would highly recommend it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

FIR: "Juliet"

I'm a Shakespeare geek.

I know. Big shocker there, eh?

So, when I found a novel that integrated a modern day mystery AND "Romeo and Juilet," I was all over it! LOL "Juliet" was not on my original FIR list but came as a delivery recently.

The story begins when Julie's aunt dies and old family secrets are revealed. Her and her sister's family connections to Siena, Italy take one, then both, on a ride of discovery. Nothing is as it seems. Century old grudges, alliances, and family lore twist nearly everything in unrecognizable puzzles.

I was completely enthralled with "Juliet" for about 2/3 of the book. The locations, the conflict, the unexpected romance angle, the literary references, the history. But, there were too many threads going so many directions that near the end, it seemed a forced race to tie everything up.

I'd recommend it for a slow, summer read but I was so caught up initially, rushing through to see how it ended that I found the ending disappointing despite the bad guys being caught, family being reconciled, and a couple finding - if that makes any sense at all.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

FIR 2012: The Mark of Athena

At the beginning of October, "The Mark of Athena" was finally released. It is the third of Rick Riordan's "Heroes of Olympus" series which followed the original five-book series featuring Percy Jackson - a Greek demigod whose cut from the same cloth as Harry Potter.

Both find out following a pre-teen birthday that their everyday, troubled lives are actually very special - unbeknownst to them up until that point. Harry is whisked off to Hogwarts while Percy is swept away in Camp Half-Blood.

The "Heroes of Olympus" brings in the competing Roman mythology with the first book's story line where Jason, a Roman demigod, finds himself awakened to realize that Hera has been tinkering with his life - giving him amnesia, taking him from Camp Jupiter (the Roman equivalent of Camp Half-Blood), and depositing him around people he doesn't know at Camp Half-Blood which he didn't realize existed.

In book two, we discover that Percy has experienced the same phenomenon. Amnesia,  unknown people, and at Camp Jupiter.

Finally, in this third book, the two camps attempt to come together (something that's never happened before in the history of the either mythology) and face an impending threat from Gaia who wants ALL demigods and their parents destroyed regardless of their ancient affiliation.

Like the Potteresque equivalent, this eighth book is a door-stop. LOL However, it is an easy read. While not as dark at Potter, there's plenty of danger, death, mayhem, battling, self-examination, and savvy problem solving.

The book opens with the Jason and his new Camp Half-Blood compatriots en route to first Camp Jupiter for the first time in history. They know Percy is there but have no idea what kind of reception they will receive. Things start off well but quickly turn disastrous with the intervention of the gods.

This story line is the primary...but there's several others. Each demigod struggles with personal challenges and doubts. Additionally, one character (Percy's girlfriend Annabeth - a daughter of Athena) has a separate quest that weaves in and out of the primary unifying-against-Gaia theme.

The book ends with a huge, obvious cliff hanger that makes me wonder if Riordan or his publisher said "well, this would be a good place as any to stop. This book is already 500+ pages." So, I will wait another year or so until book four comes out - but wait I will because this is quickly becoming my favorite young adult series, even outshining Harry Potter.

Somehow Riordan writes complicated and in-depth story lines with a simple art that causes the reader to sit for hours to just keep reading and reading to see what happens next. His character pool has reached a size that it's starting to get hard to keep everyone, their parentage, their issues, and their story line separate but hanging on for the ride is WELL worth it.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

FIR 2012: When the Walls Fell

Well, it has been a rough 2 weeks. I finished my last book on the 8th. Four days later, we were at a hospital in Chicago saying our goodbyes to DaHubby's sister who was losing her battle with leukemia, a subsequent stem cell transplant, and its after effects. She died on the 13th and we unexpectedly stayed in Michigan until the 19th. Not a lot of reading going on.

So, over the last four days, I wrapped up something that's been sitting on my Kindle that I've been meaning to read: When the Walls Fell by Monique Martin. It's number two in her time travelling series. I read the first,  Out of Time (which is still free for Kindle at this posting), when I saw it on a Kindle freebie-of-the-day list, read the blurb, thought I'd like it, and downloaded it. It wasn't on my original FIR reading list.

It's light but challenging, quick but complicated, a little adventure and a little romance. Some good brain candy to get back on track with.

Then, I started one of the Barefoot Sisters' literary travelogues last night. Hoping to finish it by Monday.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Sharing a teaching tool...

I've been asked over and over to share this but can't find the original link or I'm trying to embed it from Facebook. This is Flicka's former Daisy troop leader sharing how she taught that troop the Girl Scout law. And, I now use it with Flicka's brownie/junior troop.

Monday, October 8, 2012

FIR 2012: The Dresden Files 1-6

Well, I can blame an old high school friend for recommending Jim Butcher's novels to me a few years ago. Now, I figure there should be a 12-step group for people needing to get a life after reading the Harry Dresden series! LOL

One of my "secret" reading favorites are the fantasy/ sci-fi stuff of my adolescence. "A Wrinkle In Time" was THE book that drew me into the wonderful world of leisure reading around 3rd grade. Since then, I read and re-read L'Engle, LeGuin, Tolkien, Lewis,and McCaffrey over and over. You can now add Butcher to that list.

I read all the Harry Dresden series last year up to the thirteenth and most current, "Ghost Story," released last year. (By the way, number fourteen, "Cold Day," is to be released next month!) In honor of the pending new release, I wanted to re-read the series. I had put a hold on an e-version of the first six books and it happened to come in just at this reading challenge began. So, as I mentioned here, I followed this bibliographical detour from my original list and got reading.

And, I've gotten nothing done for a week!

Now, I won't go through all six plots but there is something to be said to see how Dresden develops over the course of much so that I can't wait to catch up via books seven through 13. For the record, here are the titles include in this first half of a baker's dozen: Storm Front, Fool Moon, Grave Peril, Summer Knight, Death Masks, and Blood Rites.

I love watching Dresden's internal battles with good/evil, his past and history, his greater beliefs in Magic vs western religion, and the new challenges. I love the characters including Lieutenant Karrin Murphy and his often-called-upon fellow battle man, Michael, who happens to be a holy Knight of the Cross...for real. White crusader cape, red cross, wielding a sword containing a nail from the Crucifixion...yea, THAT Crucifixtion. LOL

If you're looking for some sci-fi brain candy to get lost in for a while, please go to your local library STAT and look into the Harry Dresden series.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, October 1, 2012

FIR 2012: The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

Well, one book down...

I've followed the Boleyn books from Philippa Gregory a couple years ago. She has gone on to write over two dozen historically based novels primarily about the British monarchy.

Somewhere along the line, I had added "The White Queen" to my reading wish list at My wish was granted about a week before Katrina's reading challenge started so I started with that one.

I didn't find it as absorbing at "The Other Boleyn Girl" - too dry, too much telling and not enough showing, and (ultimately, through no fault of Gregory) too many characters with the same names and similar titles. A family tree is provided at the beginning of the book illustrating the beginnings of The Cousins' War and the War of the Roses but it ended with the characters at the beginning of the book. It would have been helpful to continue it to include all the marriages and births that followed over the course of the 411 page book.

I was caught up in the beginning, the love story, and their ascension to the English monarchy. But, their stumblings  the politics, and their fall didn't keep me interested. I stopped liking the main character. I didn't care if she succeeded  Didn't care who came out on top of the three-pronged fight between the Lancasters, Yorks, and budding house of Tudor. The "drama" was not enough to keep me interested.

However, the whole "princes in the tower" mystery sparked enough interest in more information that I ordered two books through interlibrary loan to read next: "The War of the Roses" and "The Princes in the Tower" by Alison Weir - a noted and celebrated monarchy historian.

i would recommend this book for a summer read but probably will skip the rest of Gregory's books in this series to tackle Weir's.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fall Into Reading 2012

Well, I'm running a little behind but I wanted to post a list for Katrina's reading challenge at Callapidder Days.

This time around and with the season of life we're in, I'm posting more of a wish list than to-do list.

We started homeschooling 6 weeks ago and are still easing into the lifestyle. I've had a few new interests lately (particularly the British history of the monarchy) plus books I've had in queue for over a year. I'm prioritizing some of the ones I'm most looking forward to. Plus, out here in the middle of nowhere in our new environs makes getting books from our local little library a bit more challenging.

So, I'm starting from this wish list and seeing where it takes me! :) I hope Katrina is OK with that. :)

Top of my list? Rick Riordan's book to be released on October 2nd - "Mark of Athena."

I've recently been introduced to Alison Weir and I'm finding it difficult to pick which of her books with which to start. I'm thinking of tackling "Wars of the Roses" and "Children of Henry VIII."

Another similar novel - "The White Queen" by Philippa Gregory.

And, I've been meaning to also read "Age of Wonder" by Richard Holmes.

Recently, I've been re-reading the Jim Butcher Harry Dresden series. Now that I've read them all, I thought I'd try the first of Butcher's other series, "Furies of Calderon."

One of my brain candy authors that I generally read in the summer but didn't get around to it this year in Diane Mott Davidson. I'm reading through her Goldy books and thought I'd throw in "Tough Cookie" for this challenge.

And, finally, a few more non-fiction...Meg Meeker's "10 Habits of Happy Mothers," Frances Chan's "Crazy Love," and Lucy and Susan Letcher's travel journal "Barefoot Sisters: Southbound."

Call me crazy but I'm pretty sure I won't be able to get all those here to the middle of my cornfield. I'll get what I can and maybe stumble onto something else that strikes my fancy. We shall see! Excited to see how much I get done!

Please don't hesitate to join us! Stop by Katrina's challenge anytime between now and mid-December to jump on board!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Finding our own ryhthm

The school year started with great plans. I always make plans. Following through? That's an entirely different story!

Knowing that a daily structure is both a curse and blessing on our home life, we started with a set of rules how things would happen and a list of times when they would happen.

But, I remembered something. I wanted the flexibility of homeschooling. I wanted this time together. So, do I seriously have to get up every morning at 5am with DaHubby, have chores rolling by 8am, and school by 9am? What's the darn rush?

Our schedule is still pretty open at this point. Friday school hasn't started. Another support group hasn't either. Other than soccer practices and games on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, our schedule is pretty open.

And, I remember...the schedule is not all-important. It's not the be-all-and-end-all. A big reason for this was the FLEXIBILITY homeschooling provides. Despite late nights.  Despite sick kids. Desite...well, LIFE!

So, should I worry what the neighbors think when we're still in PJ's at 1pm? Or, that we're doing school at 10am (or 12n) instead of 9am? Or that, thanks to homeschooling, we're sitting in our driveway some random day making papier-mache pinatas?

Nope. Not gonna do it.

I answer to God. And, to DaHubby. And, I don't think either of them care.

As long as it's done, it's quality work, it's consistent, and they're showing progress...who cares?

And, as a side note, no longer worrying about our 10:30am breakfasts or 2pm lunches either. So there!

Wow! That felt good! :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What are we REALLY teaching?

Rookie year of homeschooling the Vikings so far has been a growing experience for all of us. The kids are going through a period of "de-schooling" while I realize how little I knew about where they are academically and how much they're capable of.

I was struck this weekend by the fact that we are already "off track" to what I envisioned. I seem to have already forgotten that I wanted lifelong learners, strong readers, deep believers, hearts for service, critical thinkers, good citizens, and lovers of the arts and gotten caught up in following a pre-set lesson plan structure put together by people who don't really know my kids.

I also realized that I'm already tweaking what I thought would be a perfect curriculum for the kids. The Vikings are having fun doing language arts and science, begrudgingly doing math, and have no particular use for this curriculum's social studies.And, there's so many other things that we are interested in and are available locally that following the prescribed curriculum is already becoming difficult.

And, I'm trying to not stress about the fact we're "falling behind" and make things worse. Trying not to panic and wonder about putting the kids back in public school. Trying not to buckle unde the enourmous pressure and responsibility I feel to do this correctly.

Then, I was reminded that it's all good, it's all a journey, and it has only been a few weeks. I wanted the flexibility.  I wanted the decrease in structure. And, I got it to the benefit of my Vikings.

My worries, struggles, and revelations are all perfectly normal. I got my kids back home where they are happier, healthier, and sleeping better.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Goodbye, glasses!

My four-eyes and I have been together since junior high. Like 30 years.

In those 30 years, I've probably been through at least 15 pairs of frames and 2 or 3 things of contacts. Initially, my eyes weren't too bad. But, for my 30th birthday, I got the delighted news that I could no longer pass my drivers license eye exam and I was officially "someone who NEEDED to wear glasses."

Ninety-five percent of the time, this was not a big deal. Summer humidity going into a AC-cooled room; winter dryness into humidified inside air, and occasionally summers were a pain - especially when I was lifeguarding 50+ hrs/week - since my insurance (and my wallet) couldn't cover a second pair of glasses to use as prescription sunglasses. Plus, due to a "cute, button nose," when sweaty I was forever pushing them up and adjusting them...which has become a sort of "nervous tick" that I continued to do even when I'm not wearing them. LOL

In 48 hours, it will no longer be a problem.

Thanks to fantastic new health insurance through DaHubby's work, I will be undergoing LASIK surgery Thursday for nothing out-of-pocket.

Fortunately, I'm in a wonderful grace period as well...I have not yet reached the point where I need bifocals yet. My up-close vision is still 20/20 and apparently this is a huge blessing for someone a few years past 40 such as me. For an unknown amount of future, I will be 20/20 at a distance as well as 20/20 up-close!

And, that's hard to get my head around.

Pojke, who didn't blink twice when DaHubby underwent the same procedure a year ago, is slightly upset by the thought of this surgery for me. "I won't be able to recognize you" and "You won't look like my mom anymore" have made us chuckle and reassure him that I'll still be me.

But, considering how worried he was when I got home yesterday from my pre-op appointment with a dilated-eye-but-I-drove-home-induced headache and nausea, the jury's still out on how he'll react on Thursday when he sees me. LOL

My internal image has been a-girl-with-glasses for nearly 15 years. It should be fun to meet the girl-without-glasses when I shake off the fog of the Valium and a nap on Thursday afternoon!

And, I'm looking forward to my first pair of "fancy" non-prescription sunglasses!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

It really says that?

I've spent some time over the last couple weeks putting together a Child Training Bible for the Viking Hus. I've often been frustrated while talking over behavior misdeeds, either proactively or after-the-fact, and I can't find a corresponding Scripture to cite. This resource could be the answer to that problem.

As I was taking the time for all the highlighting and tabbing of Scriptures, it occurred to me that the folks at CTB were able to come up with 21 childhood "hot topics" and find several Scriptures about each. Anger, complaining, defiance, fear, fighting, impatience, lying, making excuses, not listening, quarreling, selfishness, tattling...and those are just the ones around here the last few weeks! LOL

People often say that the Bible doesn't speak to modern culture anymore but it has been hit home again and again recently how much *specific* Word is given about situations I'm trying to instruct the Vikings about multiple times per day.

And, then it starts to get *really* uncomfortable...when the Scriptures are used for the "big kids" in the house as well.

Impatience: "Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way..."

Unforgiveness: "If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents forgive him."

Making excuses: "Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the hearts."

Discouraged: "...My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness..."

Then I begin to wonder who is gonna learn more from this newly organized little book...the Vikings or ME?

Monday, August 13, 2012


I tend to be a joiner.

Not always in the peer pressure type way but when I get on-board with something, I tend to want to submerse myself in whatever it is. I get an A for enthusiasm but it's not so good since I don't generally "dabble" in things. It's all or nothing.

But, this time (for whatever reason) it seems to be different.

I'm tired of "us versus them."

Bottle feed vs. breast feed. Attachment parenting vs. cry-it-out. Spanking vs. not. Feed-on-demand vs. puttin' a kid on a feeding schedule. Organic vs. not. Vaccinations vs. not or limited. Strict non-junk food vs. a taste of a french fry or ice cream in moderation. TV vs. none. Public vs. private vs. homeschooling.

I'm just over it.

So, when we decided to keep the Vikings home this coming school year, it wasn't a big personal and family declaration of independence or road-to-Damascus moment of revelation.

It's just what works for us for now.

And, can we just homeschool without getting all political and confrontational about it?

I feel strongly about it being the right choice for us for now. And, I've felt strongly about other issues (particularly early childhood intervention and education) and have done extensive training and advocacy for those positions including heading to the state capital to talk to legislators but, excuse me if for just this moment, this rookie year I don't want to join in every group and/or jump on every board with each political, legal, or advocacy group for homeschooling. I just want to focus on us and feel successful and keep our head about the academic waters right now.

It's not just about  it being "better"; it's about this is "better for us."

We aren't judging public school parents. We haven't condemned our local district. Nor public education as a concept. We don't care about our kids "more" or think the rest are neglectful for not making the same choice.

And, it's not really a lifestyle change for us - it's just more fully us to live this way for now.

So, while I appreciate all the chances and opportunities to immerse ourselves in this new educational adventure, I'm resisting. Whether it's age, experience, or no one longer needing  to join a group to feel OK with my choices, we'll pass for now.

Our reasons were clear to us. We feel obedient to follow that. That's all that truly matters to us.

The rest will come in its own timing.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Family that your heart picked

Having grown up as an only child, having siblings is an uncharted mystery I never really understood. While I have half-sisters, I was 20 when they were born and have never lived with them longer than a summer when they were newborns. I love them dearly but I'll never be as tight with them as they are together.

I felt incredibly awkward when we lost DaHubby's brother to cancer in 2005. How could *I* understand what it was like to lose a sibling? And, I still struggle with how the Vikings get along - one minute loving each other and the next screaming at the other.

But, God's sent me other sisters my own age - those with whom I've crossed paths and they have been stitched to my heart.

Lisa's been around since 2nd or 3rd grade. Jodi burst into my life in 7th grade and I've been trailing behind her ever since. Carolyn & I were connected at the hip for more time than not from about 5th grade until we graduated high school.

I made friends that have been with me a while as adults as well (Jill, Shelagh, & Brian) who rode the ups and downs of a developing adulthood.

And, I've learned that family isn't always about blood but about hearts that connect, minds that meld, ears that really hear, and eyes that see the you that you see in the mirror and the you could become.

This was brought home to me in an unexpected way this weekend. I attended a reunion of sorts in my hometown of people I went to camp with as a kid. I attended a sleep-away camp growing up run by my hometown's Recreation Department. I started going when I was 8 or 9, continued until I was 15, and then completed several summers as staff in one capacity or another.

And, while I bear many typical battle scars and emotional baggage from "regular" life growing up, something about that camp was magical for me.

Camp made me feel brave, funny, and invincible. It made me laugh hysterically and sob uncontrollably when it was over each session. Suddenly, I had no problems making friends or catching on to a new skill whether it was swimming, canoeing, archery, or something crafty. I never remember feeling awkward, embarrassed, or traumatized by some adolescent drama. It was a controlled environment where I somehow felt fearless.

And, I carry so much of it with me to this day...tomboy, nature freak, sailing fan, canoe enthusiast, crafty attempter, honeymooner while camping in Northern Minnesota, Girl Scout leader...I could go on and on.

The people that were fellow campers, my counselors, and my fellow staff hold a special place in my heart. While I may not remember each by first glance, after a quick hug, a reintroduction, a couple funny stories, a few wacky songs, and we are all kids and teenagers again.

I had such an amazing time with a relative few people - WAY more fun than I've had at any high school class reunion. And, they are all like extended family. Like the saying about fudge - they are mostly sweet with a few nuts (*cough* Ray *cough*) LOL

Unfortunately, our camp is no longer standing. It's now been de-forested and flattened into a golf course, for pete's sake! But, there are pictures, stories, and songs that keep it alive. And, that place - even if just for a week or a summer - was one of my most favorite places ever. 

And, those people are like family.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Unexpected blessings

There was a time "when WE were single," as DaHubby and I refer to it, when the division of household chores was different. In the pre-Vikings era, I worked part-time.  We initially agree to a marital division of labor that included DaHubby taking care of the bathroom and doing dishes/filling the dishwasher (my two least favorite chores, neither of which he minded) and I would take care of everything else inside the house.

Times, jobs, priorities, and the size of our family changed over the years but my dislike of cleaning the bathroom and doing dishes remains. Yet, it's fallen to me to do them. As a result, one of the things I miss most from our home in Michigan is the dishwasher. We are renting still here in Illinois and neither of the two places we've stayed had a dishwasher. So, I not only dislike doing dishes but I generally dislike doing them at least twice a day by hand.

Now, I've tried to go the high-minded route...DaHubby installed speakers near the sink so I could listen to music to distract me. I have Bible verses posted so I can focus on God's word instead of the dirty dish water. I've tried to include the Vikings but, at least at this point, it is simply more work to go back and re-rinse the half-cup of dish soap they use. We did some serious downsizing of plates, cups, and cookware to lower the sheer quantity that accumulates but the sink stills seems always full. Nothing has really helped. And, even if we COULD afford a new dishwasher, we just didn't have the room in this rental kitchen for a built-in version and a portable seemed prohibitively expensive.

Until this week.

And, these are the types of things that make me SO glad DaHubby is as handy as he is!

Someone where DaHubby works was upgrading their kitchen and was offering the old, but still very usable,  built-in dishwasher...for FREE!

And, within the next month, using plans similar to these, guess who is gonna be the new owner of a formerly built-in, now converted to a portable, including a brand-new custom Hubby-made cabinet dishwasher?


*big smile*

Thank you, God!! Thank you, Lord, also for a thrifty, astute, and handy hubby! :)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

In the Moment Inspiration

I made the mistake of saving the reading until the end.

Pojke is struggling to make the leap between recognizing sight words and reading them in sentence/story form. His readers are filled with Pat, Nat, rat, cat, mat, hat, etc but it's still like pulling teeth to get him to read one page of material.

Knowing today was language arts day, I was dreading the inevitable battle of getting him to read 2-3 pages of his reader without him (or me) collapsing into a watery, whiny mess.

The first sentence took FOR-EV-VER! And, after having done spelling, copywork, and phonics, Pojke was ready to bolt.

So I let him.

Yes, I let him. In a moment of what could only be called God-given inspiration, I told him for every 3-6 word sentence he finished, he could run as fast as he can from the dining room table to the top of the stairs and back.

And, we finished the other pages in record time.

It was such a hit that Flicka asked me to incorporate it into her remaining math bookwork! LOL

It's amazing what happens when desperation sets in and inspiration strikes!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Two weeks in

As of today, we have unofficially been homeschooling two weeks. It was nothing dramatic. Not a lot of fanfare. Just finally following a conviction we've had for quite some time that public school wasn't going to be a long-term choice for our family.

Last year, the Vikings faced challenges beyond the usual. I won't go into too much detail here. Most people who know us well know how bad it got.

But, the changes are already apparent: better behavior from the Vikings, a calmer household, less anxiety in general, improved sleeping issues. There are still acting-out issues as we deal with their anger and frustration in everyday situations but, overall, we are happy with the last 7 weeks of summer.

After many years of casual research, we knew the rookie year would bring many challenges despite my teacher training. So, in the interest of creating a as-successful-as-possible first year, we are starting early so we can take our time and we made the decision to invest significant money in a school-in-a-box, everything-included program. We picked the literature-rich program from Sonlight. With their materials, we will be doing grade-level-specific language arts and math while doing Bible, social studies, and science as a team. Every daily lesson is planned out for 36 weeks so all 180 days are laid down ready for us to walk through it.

Come to find out there are few states easier to homeschool than Illinois. At this point in time, there is little to no accountibility to anyone outside the family unit. We are not required to notify anyone, to report to anyone, or to submit any paperwork.

However, this area is starting to gear back up for school which starts in 3 weeks.  So, as a courtesy and to avoid any possible truancy issues with the Vikings' former school, I'm submitting a letter of withdraw this week. And, for some reason, it's causing me some anxiety.

It's the final step. The last straw. The end of their responsibility and the beginning of ours. And, while buying and paying for a 80+lb box of curriculum didn't phase me much, this step does for some reason.

So, I've spent a lot of time praying, comtemplating, thinking, planning, and revising while the changes begin.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

New season

"It's just a season"

"This is a season. This too shall pass."

"Enjoy this season. It goes by too quickly."

I'm not talking about just summer, fall, and winter. Just seasons of life. School. Singlehood. Early marriage. Parenting young children. You know what I mean.

We have been through and are still going through a really rough season. It basically began 4 years ago when DaHubby returned to school to better himself and to better our financial odds in this recently awful economy. We've been through the wringer...full time work while full time schooling; another miscarriage; one Viking starting school, then another; family injuries, illnesses, and challenges; DaHubby being laid off; being on food stamps & welfare with no health insurance, living two states apart for half a year; marital stress; moving across two states, being the new kids/parents in a strange place; new and unexpected work pressures, changes, and disappointments for DaHubby; and the kids struggling academically, socially, and personally with all of this.

We've learned what's really important and how little with which we can get along. We've learned to be creative and frugal without it stealing our joy.  And, we've also learned we have amazing friends, family, and church families who look out for and pray for us regularly.

As we've hit various obstacles, we've continued to circle the proverbial wagons around the four of us tighter and tighter in a circle of protection. Things have gotten through to us but our instincts still are to draw closer together when under attack.

It's not over yet. There are multiple issues at DaHubby's work to be settled. There's a chance of a second move in our future. The school issues with the Vikings' were not resolved in a satisfactory (for us) way.

But, we know this is still just a season. And, we continue to hope for what God's got planned in our future.

As the kids finished their last full day of school yesterday, there came a sweet sense of peace. They're home now. With me. With us. Full time. And, it feels good. We're cleaning the house and clearing the slates for a fresh new start for this new summer season.

But, it's more than that. Change is in the air again. We all can feel it. And, Momma (normally) don't do change well. However, I've learned how far I can truly bend. I've learned to have faith in the blind turns. While I don't live in the present as much as I wished I did, I'm still looking forward toward the goal God's set out in front of us.

And, as a distraction when I get discouraged, I look down and watch my feet. As long as they are still moving forward, we're good.

My kids are being shaped by this, by this life we've tried to create. And, we feel we owe them better than what they've been getting lately.

So, again, this season is a new start. Looking out. Looking up. Keeping our heads up and walking this path.

May God be praised and glorified.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

An inspired moment

As of about two months ago, I stepped in to become Flicka's Brownie leader. The former leader needed to step back so I agreed to finish the year with ten 2nd and 3rd graders.

Tomorrow we leave for a two-night overnight at our nearby Girl Scout camp. Tonight we have our last regular meeting for the year. So, in the interest of finishing one last badge and preparing for our trip, we wanted to make mini-first aid kits.

Initially we thought we'd use the mini M&M containers like I use to keep my earbuds untangles but portable in my purse. But, too small. So, I was struck yet again with some Dollar Tree inspiration during a recent trip.

Using their materials almost exclusively, I give you our mini first aid necklace using a bubbles container, a zip tie, braided gymp, and any materials we could find! :)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Choosing the good things that last

I've dealt with anxiety as long as I can remember. What's gonna happen? What's expected of me? ADD-related foot-in-mouth syndrome. Social awkwardness. How am I gonna screw this up? That sort of thing.

So, for a number of reasons, I've not learned to rest in the wisdom God's giving me or in His guidance. I'm often overwhelmed with my choices and/or find myself frozen with multiple things going on that need my attention. Too many options, too many chances at failure, and only one seemingly "right" answer.  So, I'm basically learning - all over again in my mid-40's - to trust my heart and my gut.

Juggling family life often feels like Sisyphus-like battle. Get up psyched for a new day, new ideas, new desire to stay organized and end each day collapsing on the couch or into bed citing all the reasons the day went wrong, things didn't get done, all I have left to do.
Well, I'm tired of living that way.

So, we've been making little adjustments. The first? To trust my gut...and to not feel bad about it! As a result, we've made some parenting calls lately that go against our previous parenting grain.

Things like...

Having Pojke stay home today when it was his sister that was sick. We were at the ER late with Flicka for some IV hydration following a strep diagnosis. We all slept in. We all could use a day off.

Judiciously using/offering mental health days. My kids have had a pretty rotten year at school. The move from Michigan, the bullying, trouble making friends, etc. So, over the winter, each of the Vikings got to stay home for a day when they were feeling run down but weren't "technically" sick.

One night's fishing instead of homework. Both kids have fallen in love with our new local river, Illinois' Rock River, and have taken an interest in fishing. They need some more time with their daddy so, on Monday, we made the choice to forgo our usual after-school/homework/dinner routine to spend a couple of wonderful hours just sitting...and fishing.

I value their time in school but their time with us as a family will mean more in the long run. It initally goes against my teacher training and parenting grain, my heart and "momma gut" says it's true.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4.8 ESV

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Yes, sir!

We've been working on the Vikings' responses to parental requests lately. After dozens of "why" and "do I have to," Mom and Dad had had enough and started a discussion about obeying...immediately, without 20 questions, and with a cheerful attitude. LOL

My dream is to hear a simple "yes, Mom" or "yes, ma'am" at some point in my life. 

Without attitude or whining.

But, then this hit me between the eyes today...

"The only appropriate answer when we hear God speaking is 'Yes, Lord!'"


How can I insist on the Vikings obeying under those conditions when I can't do it for God, my Heaven Father?

We have been struggling the last few years. On all fronts. Thought we were obeying. But, maybe the continued struggles and strangulation of our finances and lives has to do more with obedience to God's will.

We've been hemming and hawing around for years with something we've been "pretty sure" we're suppose to do but have never gone through with it. We're finally moving forward. The sense of peace around this is overwhelming.

We've been unable to find a church where we all feel at home. Parents happy but no kids' ministry. Momma and kids are happy but not what Dad wanted. Dad thrilled, kids and Mom OK, but too far away with gas at $4+/gallon. This remains unsolved.

We just don't seem to be hearing from God...or not listening well enough.

And, if He did speak, would I obey immediately...with question...and with a cheerful attitude?

Friday, April 13, 2012


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Lake Michigan Dreams

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Rock River Flood Plain

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

31 days later

I like my freebies. A lot.

So, when 2011 was coming to an end, I made sure I kept my eyes out for free calendar offers for 2012. And, because of my tendency to forget what or how many I requested, I ended up with several extra 2012 calendars laying around on my desk.

I had also been reading and re-reading One Thousand Gifts over the 2nd half of 2011 and really wanted to be more aware and more thankful for the little things each day that God provides and blesses with me.

So, one of those new calendars found a home next to my bed. Each night, before I turn off the light, I fill that day's square with 3-5 things that blessed me during that 24 hour period. In the month of January, I ended up listing over 120 things! *big smile*

At that rate, I'll have over 1400 things by the end of 2012! I think Ann Voskamp would be proud! :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Fox Den Vikings

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

One of my saddest days.

I had one of the very best grandmas. Ever.

Granny B. was a classy lady who lived through some pretty difficult stuff. The one that sticks with me most is that she outlived two husbands - one who died suddenly when her kids were still
little and another on Christmas Day many years later when I was in high school.

Despite stories I heard to the contrary, my experience remained that she never, ever was anything but a classy, positive, faith-filled lady.
She grew up a lady from a good family who attended a Catholic college and graduated in 1941. During those college years, she appeared in
modeling jobs in the photos you see here today.

She was her grandbabies' ever-present cheerleader. She was present for a ton of concerts, plays, performances, and church services in which we all appeared. As far as I could tell, there was nothing in the world I could have ever done that would have dim my apparent perfect-ness in her eyes.

When I had only known my future hubby 5 weeks, I asked her how would I know if he really was "the one"? With a twinkle in her eye, she just smiled and said "you'll know." And, she was right.

She got to meet DaHubby and attended our wedding the following year. She got to hold Flicka when she was a few months old and it was captured in a "four generations" picture I treasure.

Seven years ago today, she opened her eyes in Heaven. I miss her so.

Wordless Wednesday: Walking

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Meet the Neighbors

Some of our neighbors...Chuck, Round, Roast, Filet, and Prime! ;)