Saturday, February 28, 2009

What we did tonight...

...with a little projector on loan.

It was a wonderful culmination of an awesome 24 hours of family time!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Shaken Up

We have a pretty good talk radio station around these parts. We get our Dave Ramsey fix each evening at that place on the dial. And, the man in the afternoon in Neal Boortz. I just started catching his show occassionally since the Vikings have given up afternoon naps and we're often out and about now that time of day.

Boortz could give Rush Limbaugh a run for his money and make him feel like a softie! LOL Critical. Opinionated. Smart as a whip. Knows his history and his Constitution. Unlike Limbaugh, Boortz leans more towards the libertarian side of the political boat.

He has *really* strong feelings about pretty much anything political but saves some of his strongest rants for his complete disappointment in "government schools". He feels they're a complete waste and are producing sub-standard minds unprepared for any participation in the democratic process.

Boortz often refers to books on education written by John Taylor Gatto. Gatto is another "radical" who is WAY out of the mainstream educational thought. Among a ton of other things, Gatto taught school for 30 years in NYC, winning several awards. But, he walked away disgusted with all that he saw.

You'd have to read his books to get the general gist of his theory. I'm reading my first, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling. And, it is rocking my world. It touches on all the things DaHubby and I are been working on seeing clearly for ourselves the last few years: finances, our society's drive for consumption, education, homeschooling, self-reliance, and parenting.

But, one part of the book hit me to the core...and, unfortunately, I read it right before going to kindergarten roundup last night! LOL

In the chapter entitled "The Seven-Lesson Schoolteacher", he lists the seven things public/government schools REALLY teach...and with a teaching certificate from the State of Michigan and few years of classroom experience under my belt, it's hard to argue against.

"Teaching means different things in different places, but seven lessons are universally taught from Harlem to Hollywood Hills. They constitute a national curriculum you pay for in more ways than you can imagine...believe me when I say I intend no irony in this presentation. These are the thing I teach; these are the things you pay me to teach. Make of them what you will."

And the ten pages refer to the those "lessons" with lengthy and powerful examples:

1. confusion
2. class position
3. indifference
4. emotional dependency
5. intellectual dependency
6. provisional self-esteem
7. that one can't hide

So, when I attended round up last night, well-meaning administrators and teachers are explaining how their classrooms work, what the kids will learn, and the expectations of the parents. And, all I can hear are old rusty metal gears of bureaucracy beginning to moan and squeal as the prepare to pull in Flicka in this educational machinery.

And, it breaks my heart.

And, the school handed out a large packet with several pages of forms needing unheard of amounts of verification, signatures, and authorization. They're asking for a ridiculous amount of information that lets them into the up-to-this-point private matters of our family. And, I feel a sense of suffocation, of opening the door to something that could completely take over. You want to see my mortgage paperwork to prove I live here? I don't think so!

And, I get angry.

So much of this is a gut reaction that I can't rationally explain - and that's frustrating to me. And, I know that the school-of-choice option we're also looking at is still a public school. But, the best way I can explain it is this:

DaHubby and I walked into our current church home without knowing a single soul. We'd met the pastor in passing through my in-laws. There were no children in the congregation yet we had been trying for years to conceive. We knew nothing about the denomination and its history other than knowing it was of the Pentecostal strain. And, 2 weeks after starting there, that pastor - the only person we really knew - accepted a call out of state. BUT! We sensed immediately that this was "home," where we needed to be despite all the outward indications that is wasn't a great fit.

And, that how we've felt about this school-of-choice option.

We walked in and felt like family. Flicka walked in and appeared to feel right at home. The school is small so it's like getting an expensive private school education for free! LOL

But, I still have my momma defenses up. After reading Gatto's book (and I hope to read others), I'm reminded that I don't want "good little sheep." I want kids with strong convictions, strong minds, and exceptional critical thinking.

Despite the outward indications, I think we're making the best choice for Flicka and this family.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thursday Thanks Tank

In no particular order...

Thank You GOD! DaHubby was put back on 40 hours/week! While it may only be for a few weeks, it's better than 24's or 32's!

Thank you God for placing me in a country, a state, and a city that allows me choices for my children's education.

Thank you God for the privilege of living in a country that (for now) allows me to track down and/or access pretty much any information I'm interested in whether via the internet, library system, etc.

Thank you Lord for those serving in the U.S. military and their families here at home. Help me to not take for granted all they are doing and the sacrifices they all are making for my freedoms.

Thank you Lord for the privilege to search out different viewpoints, to be able to listen to/read them, and to have the chance to make up my mind (with Your guidance).

Thank you for the friends I've had for years as well as the ones I've met the last few years. The former are my roots and the latter often act as my wings.

Thank you for a husband who knows how to work hard and has no trouble doing that so that we will have a better life.

Thank you God for another year - as Flicka's and my birthday are coming up in the next week or so, I've been more and more aware how each day (as is each year) is a gift to be used to serve You.

Thank you God so much for my two little miracles. And, thank you for re-opening my eyes recently to that fact - that they ARE miracles and YOU granted me.

So, what are you thankful for today? Go by Pam's today and see what she's thankful for.

Vikings Do "Dirty Jobs"

And, to think...I AM the one who majored in TV and radio production at Michigan State! LOL Must be in the genes! LOL

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Murphy's Law of Mothering

It never fails...LOL As soon as you complete a task, something happens to make that task obsolete, useless, redundant, or in need of being repeated!

Just today...

Washed bathroom floor - and Pojke just peed all over it.

Scrubbed toilet - and Flicka's having "southern hemisphere" issues and it's filthy again.

Swept floor and spot cleaned/vacuumed area rug in living room - and Flicka opened a dozen Hershey kisses and left a trail of silver foil all over the living room and both couches.

I feel like I should keep a running list! LOL

So, you have any Murphy's Law mothering moments today like the infamous single glass being put in the sink as you finish the dinner dishes? LOL Leave a comment!

WFMW: easy small motor practice

In our homeschool adventures this year, it's been difficult to come up with a separate plan for 3-year-old Pojke. He just wants to do what soon-to-be 5-year-old Flicka is doing! LOL

So, while Flicka is learning upper and lower case letters and working on her writing, Pojke wants to do the same.
So, in the interest of keeping the peace, humoring Pojke, and still having him practice his small motor control, this idea struck me one day.

I wrote in highlighter!
I wrote out his name and the alphabet on a clean sheet of paper and gave Pojke a crayon or marker. Then, he just wrote right over what I had printed. Doesn't sound too complicated but I can tell you that his pride in "doin' my letters" and the seriously focused attention he is exhibiting is worth every second! And, DaHubby came up with the idea to start practicing Flicka's sight words this way, too.

Happy, concentrating, practicing kids?

Works for me
Stop by "We Are THAT Family" which is the new home for WFMW!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Flicka does TobyMac

I think we're in trouble...REAL trouble! *wink*

Monday, February 23, 2009

It means a lot...

...the little things you say.

We had our taxes done last Friday. With all we're juggling and with all the life changes the last few years, we decided to use a friend who's a CPA to do our taxes. He also happens to do the books for DaHubby's employer so he has intimate knowledge of what kind of financial roller coaster we've been dealing with.

Anyway, as the nerd in the family, I was assigned the task of finding and delivering all the appropriate paperwork to said CPA. And, he said two small things that simply lifted all the discouragement and negative feelings I was having last week about our current financial situation.

"I'm just so impressed by you two"

"I don't know how you guys are managing but you're doing great."

Those 2 sentences - probably said with little awareness of their impact - changed my whole perspective.

Last week, in a fit of desperation and find some peace and cooperation from Flicka who was mightily peeved by the constant, ongoing attention to Pojke, I told Flicka something I should have told her years ago.

"Ya know what, baby? You know what you are? You are Momma's miracle. No matter what happens, you are Momma's miracle."

And, ya know what? She's been a dream to be around ever since. What made the difference? Those four little words and having me repeat it to her each day since.

So, today I am more than aware of every word coming out of my mouth.

So, what are you saying to those around you? Is what you're speaking over your kids, your hubby your family, your friends something that is going to bless them?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Reaching One Among MIllions

A career missionary supported by our denomination spoke this morning at church. Her husband was our overseer for a long time for most of eastern Asia.

While our finances do not currently allow it, I've had a strong heart for missions since I learned about the day-to-day lives of missionaries through three families I know serving overseas - one in Africa, one in Russia, and one in Papua New Guinea. At one time, I began the initial screening process to become a missionary myself but my experiences led me elsewhere.

Her message today focused around this one thought: reaching one among millions. Don't be overwhelmed by "what can I do when so much needs to be done." Do what you can where you are with the people you see everyday. Like the old adage, you don't know how far your ripples of influence will be felt.

She showed a photo collage of their 40 years of service. She was able to show God working in their lives in the early 70's and the people they came in contact with. And, then she showed pictures of those same folks 40 years later - pastors, missionaries, college graduates, and the children and grandchildren of those same people also now working for the Lord. Her hair dresser in Korea. The teller at her bank in Japan. Just one individual she came in contact with during her regular day. I was brought back to church by someone I had known since a child and who was placed across the hall from me in my dorm sophomore year at Michigan State. I was HER one among millions.

The second thing that jumped out at me...God's placed something in her husband's heart six years ago that they are now seeing come to fruition. Six years ago, he felt God whispering something to his heart that has since turned into this.

The last thing she mentioned that grabbed me - Jesus is coming too soon for us to get caught up in denominational differences. There's too much work to be done and we want to be ready! Our denomination has a bit of a history of being a tad exclusionary. LOL So, hearing this from a lifelong member was a bit shocking. However, from what she has seen, heard, and experienced, her conclusion is that there are simply two armies: God's or Satan's. Both are large but God's is divided up by all these walls - some are higher than others but there are walls nonetheless.

This reminds of a Casting Crowns song and a spoken part in the middle of "What This World Needs":

People aren't confused by the gospel,
They're confused by us.
Jesus is the only way to God,
But we are not the only way to Jesus.
This world doesn't need
My tie, my hoodie,
My denomination, or my translation of the Bible,
They just need Jesus.
We can be passionate about what we believe,
But we can't strap ourselves to the gospels.
Because we're slowing it down
Jesus is going to save the world,
But maybe the best thing we can do
Is just get out of the way.

So today has left me with several questions to mull over this week:

How can we as a family better support missions?

Who are those around me that I see everyday - my version of a hairdresser, a bank teller - who need me to be a positive witness to Christ's power?

What is God whispering to my heart today that may take years to come to pass? And, what are the "baby steps" I need to take now?

How do I become part of the "solution" of breaking down denominational walls instead of being part of the problem?

So, I ask you: what are YOU doing for missions, who are those you can witness to daily, what's God's whispering to you, and how can you be part of the solution for God's army? Like the song says, Jesus WILL save the world so what are you gonna do about that?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Any second thoughts?

The start of a conversation this morning at the Viking Hus: "Babe, a complete change of subject...have you ever had second thoughts about what we named the kids?"

Luckily, DaHubby said no. LOL

As I have filled out several sheets of paperwork this week while dealing with doctors and pharmacists, I've been writing out and spelling out Pojke's IRL name A LOT! LOL And, for some reason, his name...the "identity" we've given him...seems more *real* all of a sudden.

I took our baby-naming responsibility very seriously as I would like to think the majority of us do. We considered number of syllables and flow, what would the initials would spell, elementary school teasing potential, along with the myriad of family expectations.

We searched back several generations on DaHubby's family tree for old-fashioned, currently unusual, yet sweet and appropriate names for the Vikings. My family also has a naming tradition - four generations of matching first and middle initials - which meant whatever first name we picked meant choosing a middle name of the same first letter.

We never made our final choice prior to delivery - we took our favorite, agreed-upon options to the hospital. We wanted a good look at each new arrival and pick the one that he or she most "looked" like.

And, we've never had regrets. I think I can speak for the DaHubby when I say - we've been thrilled with our choices. Flicka's and Pojke's IRL names have worked for us and apparently for them up to this point.

However, as his parent, I've been significantly expanding Pojke's official paper trail this week. And, as I look at the sweet, meaningful, and perfect name which we so painstakingly chose for him plastered all over paperwork, prescription bottles, and hospital bracelets this week, I wonder if we made the right choice.

And, it occurred to me that I've never heard a parent admit (at least in public! LOL) that they may have reservations or might be disappointed by the choice they made in naming that sweet hours-old bundle at the hospital.

Why is this even important? It probably isn't. But, I've spent 40+ years repeating this same line over and over:

"My first name?, just Beth...yes, that's my legal, it's not Elizabeth...not Beth Ann...not Bethany...just Beth."

And, I remember my step-mom saying something about changing the initial spelling of my little sister's name when the first couple of post-natal nurses mispronounced it at the hospital.

Then, I wonder what the Vikings' stories will be. Will Flicka take as much pride in explaining her name and the history of it? Will Pojke appreciate our choice of naming him in honor of two people we lost to Heaven the year before he was born?

I don't know - and that's the thing I dislike about parenting. LOL No immediate feedback. Seriously delayed gratification. We won't truly know for years and years but that's OK. This roller coaster ride we're on now will probably put in all in perspective.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Thursday Thanks Tank - UPDATED

Short and sweet since Pojke is not improving as quickly as I had hoped...
And in no particular order...

...I'm thankful it's "just" strep.
...I'm thankful that the Vikings' cousins - who are both sick with DUAL problems of roto and RSV - are going to be just fine.
...I'm thankful for in-laws, parents, and step-parents repeated offers to help
...I'm thankful that Pojke has been sleeping through the night despite his illness
...I'm thankful Pojke is currrently napping while I type this
...I'm thankful for the Lord meeting me *right there* each time I asked this week
...I'm thankful that DaHubby was able to take Flicka out for ice cream last night to reward her exceptionally sweet big sister assistance the last 4 days.
...I'm thankful I still had diapers in the house to make my (and Pojke's - I hope) life easier this week - enough said.
...I'm thankful for my in-laws who came over yesterday to watch the Vikings for an hour so I could run out for some basic groceries and then came back again today to teach me how to make a DaHubby's-favorite-from-childhood rice dish in the hopes Pojke would eventually eat and get his tummy back on track.
...I'm thankful for the prayers of my church, my family, and my friends - online and IRL.
...I'm thankful that my in-laws further rewarded Flicka as well as gave me a break by taking her home for the afternoon today
...I'm thankful for the amazingly patient and professional RN who answers our ped's practice's on-call nurse phone line. A kinder woman could ne'er be found. Miss Dodi - you're an angel on earth - as are our pediatrician, her nurse, and the staff at the practice who are working 12+ hour days.
...I'm thankful for a hubby that - despite feeling somewhat guilty for needing me to deal with all the drama solo this week - remembered that my favorite ice cream is chocolate almond and brought home a whole half gallon *just for me* last night.
...I'm also thankful for a hubby that doesn't take it personally when I snap at him from being at the end of my momma-rope this week.
...I'm thankful that the vomit and diarrhea smell is quickly leaving our home
...I'm thankful that nothing pressing required me to leave the house since Sunday (other than that grocery thing LOL)
...and I will be SO thankful when I wean the Vikings back OFF THE TELEVISION!! One more Disney, Dora, Diego, or their pals' videos and I'm ready to put the TV out in the driveway!

Updated to add
...thankful for health insurance because the ER trip only cost $50

...thankful for the person who installed mini-TV's in each ER room during a recent remodel!
...thankful that Pojke did NOT need an IV
...thankful for the ER staff who recognized a rash I hadn't seen, deciphered it, and diagnosed an allergy to original antibiotic
...thankful Flicka was a perfect angel when DaHubby took her to a meeting with his large group project team
...thankful that Pojke drank about 6 oz while waiting in ER and is sitting on the couch right now sipping a "chocolate/banana milkshake" Momma just made him

Life is good. God is awesome.

What are YOU thankful for this week? Stop by Pam's place today to see what she's thankful for.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wordless Wednesday (kinda)

Pojke's in the 5th day of feeling icky and 3rd day with a fever which reached a high of nearly 103.

Found out late last night at "ped clinic" that it's a bad case of strep throat. Praying I can get some fluids in him (he's had less than 32 oz in last 20 hours) or the pediatrician is suggestion a hospital trip for an IV. *sigh*

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Worth every penny

As anyone who reads here regularly already knows, money's a little tight right now. Lots of beans, rice, potatoes, vegetarian meals, and watering down milk to stretch it. I have been "homemade-ing" and "from scratch-ing" it until my eyes cross. LOL

I was at the craft store the other day with my coupon and teacher discount to pick up a few pieces of scrapbook paper to make the Vikings' valentines and was glancing through the cloth remnants bin. I saw a small piece of "Diego" material for $1.25 and inspiration struck! I dug through all the pieces and pulled out another remnant of red checkerboard for about $1.50.

An hour on the sewing machine and...
New play aprons!

They are SO loving them! And, it was worth the whole $2.75! *wink*

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - water baby

For more WW, go here or here.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Don't know how I missed this...

...because I read Carolyn Hax every day that she appears in our local paper. All I can think of is that this appeared on a day our paper doesn't' publish her. LOL

Carolyn: My best friend has a child. Her: Exhausted, busy, no time for self, no time for me, etc. Me (no kids): Wow. Sorry. What'd you do today? Her: Park, play group...OK. I've done Internet searches; I've talked to parents. I don't get it. What do stay-at-home moms do all day? Please, no lists of library, grocery store, dry cleaners...I do all those things, too, and I don't do them every day. I guess what I'm asking is: What is a typical day, and why don't moms have time for a call or e-mail?

I work and am away from home nine hours a day (plus a few late work events), and I manage to get it all done. I'm feeling like the kid is an excuse to relax and enjoy — not a bad thing at all — but if so, why won't my friend tell me the truth?
Is this a contest ("My life is so much harder than yours")? What's the deal? I've got friends with and without kids, and all us child-free folks get the same story and have the same questions.

— Tacoma, Wash.

Tacoma: Relax and enjoy. You're funny. Or you're lying about having friends with kids. Or you're taking them at their word that they actually have kids, because you haven't personally been in the same room with them. Internet searches?

I keep wavering between giving you a straight answer and giving my forehead some keyboard. To claim you want to understand — while in the same breath implying that the only logical conclusions are that your mom friends are either lying or competing with you — is disingenuous indeed.

So, since it's validation you seem to want, the real answer is what you get. In list form. When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, clean, dressed; to keeping them out of harm's way; to answering their coos, cries and questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from unshelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces the kind of checkout-line screaming that gets the checkout line shaking its head.

It's needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15.

It's constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, constant relegation of your needs to the second tier.

It's constant scrutiny and second-guessing from family members and friends, well-meaning and otherwise. It's resisting the constant temptation to seek short-term relief at everyone's long-term expense.

It's doing all this while concurrently teaching virtually everything — language, manners, safety, resourcefulness, discipline, curiosity, creativity, empathy. Everything.

It's also a choice, yes. And a joy. But if you spent all day, every day, with this brand of joy — and then when you got your first 10 minutes to yourself, you wanted to be alone with your thoughts instead of calling a good friend — a good friend wouldn't judge you, complain about you to mutual friends or marvel at how much more productively she uses her time.

Either make a sincere effort to understand, or keep your snit to yourself.

(Cut and pasted without permission)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

They just wanna help!

I've been struggling again with efficiency vs. teachable moments and mess vs. bonding.

The Vikings regularly want to help prep or cook a meal. They consistently drag two large, tall dining room chairs over to the counter which keeps me from doing anything because then I cannot open the fridge, get to the sink, or open the "gadget" or silverware drawers. And, this isn't even taking into account the hot, electric stovetop and its obvious risks.

But, sometimes I can get only one Viking at a time interested and, for some reason, it's infinitely easier. So, when Pojke started melting down around lunch time yesterday, I snatched him and left Flicka and DaHubby working in the basement office.

Tacos, Spanish rice, and guacamole were on the menu. Hmmm...didn't want Pojke near the knife, the cutting board, the stove, the splattering hamburger. So, he watched while I prepped the ingredients and I put him to work...mashing the guacamole.

DaHubby and I agree that this is one of our new favorite photos:

Thursday, February 5, 2009


*sniff, sniff* I think this is the best lookin' chicken I've crock-potted yet:

If DaHubby doesn't get home soon, I may start without him! LOL

Monday, February 2, 2009

Growing Up – part two

“I can’t believe we’re here already,” I sniffed.

“Please don’t cry,” DaHubby responded.

And, Flicka kept playing and playing.

And, kindergarten is still 7 months away.

Kindergarten round-up season is upon us. Initially, we had every intention of homeschooling. It answered to our beliefs, our concerns, and our need for some “portability” for when DaHubby finishes school and we need to move to his first job in the nuclear field.

Now, it has become apparent that with our recent financial challenges that I may need to go back to work. Thus, it makes making some decisions about a possible kindergarten situation more of a front-burner priority. And, obviously, private school is out of the question due to cost.

We live about 3 blocks from our local elementary. And, we are blessed that our district is one of the top 50 in Michigan. And yet we’re looking at a school that’s about 15-20 minutes away. The longer I’m a parent the better I understand the idea of finding a good fit for each family and each child.

If we could find an elementary school with a family feel, wouldn’t that be perfect?

If we could find a kindergarten with a really good teacher/student ratio, wouldn’t that be awesome?

If we could find a public school district that allowed ALL voices to be heard – including those who believe in Christ, would that be a dream?

If we could find a staff that tries to assess the best way each student learns so all can excel, wouldn’t that be fantastic?

Our neighborhood elementary would probably fall short in at least three of those categories. However, we are trying to keep in mind that it’s still about a good fit.

And, I think we found it.

One of my high school and college buddies has children that are now nearing middle school aged. I remember the amount of work and worry she put into her kids’ educational decisions when they were just starting out like mine are now. She lives in an area like my current one – not a big city but not exactly the middle of nowhere, a definite rural feel with a few urban “creature comforts” within a half hour drive.

I remember her talking about the discovery of a former one-room schoolhouse turned early elementary program in her area. It sounded like heaven! Her kids were in small classes, lots of extra attention, fewer distractions, and fewer examples of negative socialization. Her descriptions at the time reminded me a lot about the reading I was doing in “teacher school” about single-sex classrooms – especially all-girl classes – where the classes were small, distractions were few, and the kids found their voices and excelled.

Well, I think we’ve found our local equivalent.

A former one-room schoolhouse about 20 minutes away bucked the trend when this area’s one-room schoolhouses were being consolidated into school districts a couple decades ago. This now-expanded building stands alone as its own district and houses a K-8 program whose state scores are nearly all A’s. Currently, there are 8 kids in the kindergarten and only 70-some in the whole building. The kindergarten teacher has a parent parapro which reduces that classroom's student-to-adult ratio down to 4-to-1.

The current kindergarteners welcomed Flicka with open arms, quietly stopping what they were doing to come over and introduce themselves. A few then showed her around the classroom explaining what everything was. Flicka was at ease so quickly that she allowed DaHubby and me to walk away with the principal for a tour of the facilities while she sat down with the kids for reading time. After a 20 minute tour, we came back and you couldn’t tell her little blond head from the rest of them as the students packed up for the end of their half-day. The teacher escorted the eight to the front door where they are walked to their parents’ waiting vehicles leaving DaHubby, Flicka, and me in the classroom.

Flicka walked over to the brand new Apple computers the students had just showed her and continued a game they had been playing. With her headphones on, she couldn’t hear us. I looked around and caught DaHubby’s eye.

“Well, what do you think?” I asked him.

“I love it.”

“I can’t believe we’re here already,” I sniffed.

“Please don’t cry,” DaHubby responded.

We asked a few additional questions of the teacher when she returned but I was struggling between the critical teacher part of me and the weepy parent. We stopped to chat with the principal one more time on the way out as he was supervising the lunch room for the older kids. While we discussed the paperwork DaHubby and I would be filling out, two kids from the first/second grade table approached Flicka. One asked me if Flicka could have half his sandwich. The other offered Flicka half her cookie.

As we walked out to the van, we asked Flicka what she thought.

“Can I come back tomorrow?”

You bet, baby. I wouldn’t have it any other way.