Friday, October 31, 2008

Corncobs and Little Life Lessons

Since teaching 4 children, starting a business, and trying to keep the house saleable clean does not keep me busy enough, I decided to throw in some more curriculum. Just to shake things up a bit, and just in case the kids aren't learning enough with the adequate teaching materials I already possess. Truth be told, my aforementioned curriculum addiction is the likely culprit. At any rate, we began working through the Prairie Primer this week, and I absolutely love it! I've always been a fan of Laura and her Little House, and this is a wonderful way to pass a beloved series on to another generation. And so far, so good.

Today we made corncob dolls. Even the boys. And, yes, of course their daddy couldn't be prouder. After the dolls were assembled, I informed my little pioneers that for one hour they would only be permitted to play with their doll. Obviously, this was met with a chorus of "why"s. Life's little lessons dictate that we must learn, like Laura, to be satisfied with what he have and to entertain ourselves with what is available to us.

After my edict, I overheard whispered boy plans: "Let's rip the corncob apart!" In order to save my carpet from corncob guts, I gave another lecture about respect and taking care of what we have. Reluctantly, they began to play with and care for their dolls, although the boys continued to be boys. Michael held his over a cold burner on the stove. "Look," he exclaimed, "I'm burning its head. Can I color its head black where it got burned?" Great idea, Michael.

Although the hour was a long one, they busied themselves with the doll. However, I did allow some non-Olden Days items: markers and construction paper with which they made food for their dolls. The fact that they made bear meat, carrots, and an assortment of berries at least assures me that they've been listening to the story.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Blog Tagged

I'll admit. I've never done the Tagging Thing before, but my friend Courtney at Life on Courtney Lane tagged me with 7 Random Things About Me, so I'll humor her and likely bore you with my 7 issues that may someday lead me to a therapist's couch:

First, we must put the rules in play:

1. Link to the person that tagged you and put the rules on your blog

2. Share 7 weird or random facts about yourself...

3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and link to their blog...

4. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving a note on their blog...

OK, so you know I'm a little quirky because...

1. I'm very particular about how my dishwasher is loaded. Sometimes my dear husband loads it, and I always go behind him and reload it. It's not that I'm ungrateful. And I always do my reorganization on the sly so that he doesn't feel unappreciated. It's just that no one else seems to have any inkling about how to correctly load a dishwasher.

2. My favorite childhood character was Winnie-the-Pooh. What child doesn't love loveable ol' Pooh Bear? Other children, however, probably don't get labeled by their dear parents with the unfortunate nickname of "Pooh". I did. And I'd cringe when Mom and Dad would address me as such. My friends would do a double take and, laughing uproariously and mockingly, ask, "Why did your parents just call you poo?"

3. Even though I grew up in the wilds of Africa, I HATE bugs, especially spiders and cockroaches. Spiders make me break out in a sweat. Literally. Once when Mark was out of town, I discovered a big, hairy, tarantula-like one (I'm NOT kidding) in the baby's room. It took my dear husband at least a half hour on speaker phone to convince me to stop panicking long enough to beat the ugly, nasty critter. Thankfully, my eldest boy who is also the man of the house in Mark's absence rescues me from most killer insects now.

4. I've always wanted to try my hand at waitressing, I mean serving or whatever they call it now. If I was a waitress or server or whatever, I would make sure that if my customer asked to hold the tomatoes, the tomatoes would be held. And if my customer requested a beverage sans lemon, the beverage would be served sans lemon. I would make great tips.

5. Chick-fil-A is my favorite restaurant (fast food at least), and our new one just opened today. We took the kids this morning, and they broke in the playground. I love Chick-fil-A because it appears to be the last remaining establishment in America where service is not dead. I have recently begun a campaign in my home to encourage my little people to respond to "Thank you" with "My pleasure" because, well, it is simply my pleasure to hear such pleasant speech.

6. I am addicted to curriculum and all educational materials.

7. I bungee jumped on spring break in Panama City in 19 90 something. Someday I want to sky dive, but I'll probably wait until the kids are self-sufficient.

So now comes the tagging part. And I know this will be painful for some of you; don't feel obligated! At least check out some of my friends' blogs, though:

Mama Knucker Hatch at Our Golden Apples

TeacherMommy at Diapers and Dragons

Mare at Mare's Musings

Mitzi at The Road Less Traveled

My wonderful sister-in-law at Phoenicie Konnection

Nikowa at Knowledge House Academy

and...although I think she's already done this: Crossview at Crossview Academy

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I've never posted about her. Realistically, I've begun many posts about her but just never quite got them finished or published. In fact, this very post has taken days to get down. It's been hard to find the words. And, although the moments of our family life I record here are precious to me, sometimes the details have seemed so insignificant when compared to what Jennie has endured the last couple of years. Two and a half years ago, Jennie and her husband John received the crushing news that would change their lives: stage four cancer. And for two and half years, John has steadfastly stood by her side as she fought with courage, strength, and an unwavering faith which seemed to grow with each passing day.

In the early morning hours of October 19, Jennie finished her earthly battle and went on to begin her new and everlasting life with her Lord. I find such joy in picturing her in her perfect, cancer-free body running and dancing. In fact, just this morning I said to my husband, "I wonder what Jennie's been doing in Heaven over the last week." She is, I'm sure, discovering the indescribable peace, joy, and love that only comes from our Father; she is being blessed as she blessed us here.

Jennie was beautiful inside and out. While I won't dwell on her outer beauty (you can see that for yourself in the pictures), I do remember being in a doctor's office with her and hearing the nurse practitioner tell her she looked great--too good to be so sick. Jennie was a woman characterized by grace, loyalty, and integrity. She was known for her honesty and candor. She didn't waste her words frivolously and always meant what she said. She had a wonderful sense of humor and a contagious laugh. She was known to become so overcome with laughter she would laugh until tears streamed down her face. And you couldn't do anything but laugh with her. (If such a thing can be captured on film, see my slide show from last Thanksgiving in my post called "Top Ten..." )

Jennie was full of life and fun, and I have wonderful memories of her. There was the midnight ER visit in New York City, the phosphorescent bay in Puerto Rico, and many family gatherings where we two sisters-in-law stuck together and shared many laughs. I loved Jennie, and she made a huge impact on me and on so many others. In fact, she and John both touched our lives in a way that sparked a huge and continuing period of spiritual growth for Mark and me. And they touched lives everywhere they went...on the phone, through visitors, in hospitals. One of Jennie's doctors told me just the other day how impressed he was with Jennie, her faith, her sense of humor, and her positive outlook on life. Jennie's positive attitude impacted many; often she comforted the very people who came to comfort her.

She was a bright spot in our lives, and I consider it an honor to have called her my sister. Jennie, I love you and will miss you!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

First Crush

She'd disown me if she knew I was putting this in writing. But it is a chapter in our lives, and, although the secondary character will likely change, one day this chapter will be a book all on its own, so it simply must be recorded.

My daughter has her first crush. The boys were teasing her with a sign that said, "Alex loves ___________". I told them to stop. Then I started in with a little teasing of my own until she actually admitted it to me. Then I stopped because you just don't tease a girl about it if it's really true. Plus, I am a little bit of an expert on schoolgirl crushes. Thankfully, she's waited until the ripe old age of 8. I had my first crush around 6 years of age.

So we had a special moment. I disclosed the name a couple of the many names of my first crushes, and we giggled a little about that. Then I said, "You know, I really like [his] parents. Maybe I should invite the family over for dinner some time."

"No! You don't have to do that!" she said emphatically.

Good. She passed the test. This means she's still just at the "take a quick peek at him during Sunday School" stage...the stage where I want her to stay for a really, really, really, really, really, really long time.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


It's no secret that sometimes I can be a little bit of a control-freak teacher slash mama. But I'm the first to admit that I need to relax a bit. Today I took a step toward that reform, and the results were amazing. Typically when we have a homeschool field trip, the kids are handed a clipboard of activities they must complete during said field trip. So they enter the aquarium, the zoo, the whatever with a sparkle in their eyes but with a hint of a sag in their shoulders...probably the weight of the clipboard. Today for our trip to the botanical gardens, I set no agenda. I had no "Identify this..." sheets or crossword puzzles printed out. I didn't have 4 clipboards neatly sitting out on the counter for the kids to grab on the way out. We would just go and experience. Then the amazing stuff started happening. Jacob came up with the idea of taking the clipboards along, and the other kids agreed that would be an awesome idea. Who knew?

We got to Athens and enjoyed a little time at Grandma and Grandpa's prior to our field trip, and there we received a little lesson in horticulture. The kids helped Grandma harvest some tomatoes and peppers, and Grandma gave me several plant clippings to bring home and kill with my black thumb.

As we headed to the botanical gardens, I anticipated little enthusiasm. After all, this is a garden, not a science museum or the space center or Epcot; it's just a pathway surrounded by plants. But I under estimated my children. They skipped through the garden with interest and excitement, stopping every few minutes to sketch a leaf or a flower.

As we sauntered along the garden path of bright, cheery blooms and blossoms, it dawned on me that my children are also blooming. Thankfully, a love of learning is being cultivated. I'm so happy to see it because I've had a few anxious moments here and there through the last few years of homeschooling, worrying that a couple of my students (ahem) would never make the choice for learning (at least willingly). Of course, there will be more of those moments in the future, but it's a relief to see some growth!

I tried to explain to the children the significance of the Cacao Tree to me...having grown up in Cote d'Ivoire, I often saw the Cacao Tree in the landscape. Naturally, the kids really didn't care about those details. Alex did inform me, however, that this tree would require Midge Flies for pollination. I do not know anything about Midge Flies, but I learned a couple of years ago never to argue animal or science trivia with my daughter; I never win.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Sleepless in Atlanta

Although I'm very used to being a Married Single Mom, I always miss my husband when he's traveling. This past week he wasn't far--just downtown--but he may as well have been a few states away since he was actually staying downtown. So when he called me yesterday afternoon to see if I wanted to come down for the night, I at first jumped at the chance. But then I remembered: Oh yeah, I have 4 kids. I was a little hesitant to go becuase there was no suite this time, just a little room. Plus, I wanted to watch the debate. The kids, however, were chomping at the bit to go. I expressed my concern about them actually getting any sleep since we'd have the news going until 11:00.

"Oh, but Mom, we LOVE to fall asleep with the TV on!"

Now, who's going to fall for THAT? Well, yours truly did because 2 hours later we were on our way downtown. We had a lovely evening--dinner at a Japanese steakhouse, which coincides well with the fact that we will be studying Japan next week. Then we tried to settle them down for bed. Of course, it didn't help that their beds were right in front of a picture window on the 42nd floor. "This is a great place to play I Spy!" one of them said. And falling asleep with the TV on? Right. Didn't happen. Three of the four did finally get to sleep, and the last one gave in once the TV was turned off. Didn't last for long, however. One or the other was up at some point during the night.

A sleepless night but a fun outing. I'm sure we'll trade sleep for a change of pace the next time the opportunity arises.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

WebkinzElection Primaries

You may have already received an email from me, but if not...will you kindly help us out in our Webkinz mock elections (or at least let your children help us out)? We're only in the primary stage right now, so we will need your help later on as well to elect a president. For now, please help us weed out the lesser nominees! Below you will find a bit of information on each nominee. Hopefully, this will help you make your decision. Naturally, if you are a girl, you should select one of the nominees with the Girlz Party; and if you are a boy, please select a nominee who is with the Boyz Party (not sayin' which one is the donkey and which is the elephant--they're my children; I could never put the donkey on one of them!). Please leave your votes in the Comments or email them to me at

Voting ends on Monday, October 6!

Girlz Party Nominees

Eunice - A unicorn whose favorite food is a lollipop, Eunice is ready to lead as President! A former Vice President of the Girls' Club, Eunice led with honesty and integrity. When not working hard, Eunice may be found playing on the playground with her alley cat friend Tina.

Goldie - A fan-tail goldfish, it's no surprise Goldie loves swimming. What may be a little known fact, however, is that her favorite food is chocolate cake. Goldie's past experience as the head of the Girls' Club highlights her abilities as a leader. "I've always wanted to be the president!" exclaims Goldie enthusiastically. Goldie also enjoys carrying other peoples' groceries. Her associate, a Magical Retriever, concurs that Goldie's energy and leadership qualities make her an excellent candidate.

Boyz Party Nominees
Snappy - Near a lake in the summer? Snappy loves to swim in it! Near a lake in the winter? Snappy likes nothing better than to slide on his back on the ice. Always generous, Snappy gives food or water from inside his shell to hungry or thirsty people. Snappy loves to cook and eat, and his personal favorite is a pie shaped like a turtle shell!
Spooky - Running on the slogan WaHaHaHa, Spooky is a bat who loves to travel, loves pretzels, and loves to tell jokes. In addition, he enjoys trick or treating and is the head of the Trick or Treating Club. This year on Halloween, he says, "I'm going to be a bat...'cause I am one!" Interestingly, he has always wanted a gumball machine--perhaps to hold the gumballs he will get on Halloween night.