Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Look Back at 2008

Seems like just yesterday we were driving home on New Year's Day when Prince Charming received a speeding ticket.

No, I am never going to let him live that down. (Unless I ever happen to get a ticket.)

This year has been short, painful, exciting, and intense. Most experiences of this year I'd rather not ever live through again. But, of course, that isn't really up to me. I can also tell you that this year has seen me wrestling with God in a way that I haven't before. I don't think we're done yet. Stay tuned. I may have to write a book about it. When I finish my other book, naturally.

What will 2009 hold? I don't know. But I hope it doesn't start with a speeding ticket. We don't need another year that flies by so quickly.

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Quick Recap

We've been: Playing games.

Making all kinds of treats.

Opening gifts.

Posing for pictures. (Lots of pictures.)

Opening more gifts.

Setting up and playing with gifts.


More playing.
And more playing.

This is a playhouse the girls wanted very much. As you can see, Pop and Mem came through. There was some doubt as to whether this structure would actually fit in our house. It does. Barely.

Grandad (Pastor Dad) has already noted some Biblical similarities. He says we're all set to celebrate the Feast of Booths (also known as the Feast of Tabernacles) next year.

A word of warning: if you meet Prince Charming don't refer to this toy as a "tent". It is a structure. A non-collapsible, super-fun, bigger than my closet, structure.

Have I mentioned that our home also has a swelling population of Barbies, their cars, their clothes and their friends?

Or that I punched out three paper dolls and their 150 clothes, hats, shoes, etc. for over an hour Thursday morning?

And that we have two beautiful American Girl dolls and some of their vast multitude of accessories?

And much, much more?

Despite all this, while at a Bible story-time yesterday afternoon, Polly (when asked by the teacher) declared her new Bible to be her favorite gift. While I don't exactly believe her, it's a nice thought.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

All the Best...

To you and yours from me and mine.

And yes, I have lots to say about this week. And apparently some apologies to make to family members who feel they have been unfairly represented on this little ol' blog. My most humble apologies to you, whomever you may be. You should know that I love you lots. If I didn't love you, I wouldn't tease you.

But all that has to wait 'til later. Right now there are packages to wrap, stockings to stuff, and a few short hours of sleep to be grabbed.

The Merriest of Merry Christmases to you!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

A Moment of Tranquility

O Simplicitas
by Madeleine L'Engle

An angel came to me
And I was unprepared
To be what God was using.
Mother was I to be.
A moment I despaired,
Thought briefly of refusing.
The angel knew I heard.
According to God's Word
I bowed to this strange choosing.

A palace should have been
The birthplace of a king
(I had no way of knowing).
We went to Bethlehem;
It was so strange a thing.
The wind was cold, and blowing,
My coat was old, and thin.
They turned us from the inn;
The town was overflowing.

God's Word, a child so small,
Who still must learn to speak,
Lay in humiliation.
Joseph stood strong and tall.
The beasts were warm and meek
And moved with hesitation.
The Child born in a stall?
I understood it: all.
Kings came in adoration.

Perhaps it was absurd:
A stable set apart,
The sleepy cattle lowing;
And the incarnate Word
Resting against my heart.
My joy was overflowing.
The shepherds came, adored
The folly of the Lord,
Wiser than all men's knowing.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I'm Not Here

Well, I mean, I'm here. But I'm not there. Of course, it doesn't matter where "here" is, right? As long as there's a computer handy, that is.

Anyhoo, we are on the first leg of our trip around the world Christmas. Just kidding. We are only visiting Prince Charming's folks for approximately 58 hours before heading back to civilization our place. (That was a joke. Promise.)

The reason for such a down to the hour trip is because I must be back home in order to visit with my fabulous sister, who is even now on her way to the place I just left. Oh, and I need to see some other folks too, of course. It just wouldn't be Christmas Eve without cramming our entire extended family into my grandparents' house. Back when I was a girl they lived in a different house and the adults would just throw all the children in the basement. Occasionally an adult would come to the stairs to restore order. Or something like that.

If Uncle J. came: fun bordering on frightening would begin. (Hide and Seek in the dark basement with mean older cousins just itching to scare the daylights out of you.) Beats me why the adults would ever send him down to check on us.

If my dad came to the top of the stairs: no sweat. He's not coming down. He's just doing his job, sounding adult. "Calm down, down there," he might say. Or he might come down and play Atari. (I'm really dating myself now!)

If my aunt came down: Probably ought to calm down a bit. Because After Aunt C. comes...

Papaw: Your party is over. Someone "might get hurt". So stop having fun.

Just kidding, of course. Mostly we had free reign over the basement.

But those days are over. Now Papaw and Mamaw only have a laundry room. And it just isn't the same for the younger crowd. It's hard to get anything going when the grown ups are in the next room.

So, to sum up:

I'm not there, I'm here. But I'll be there again soon.

Did I mention that Sweet Pea's clothes are not here? Except for one outfit which inexplicably made it into my suitcase. Sweet Pea doesn't care. She's got her pajamas, which she would happily wear all day anyway. But proprieties must be observed. So someone is going to have to go out and pick up some cute little outfits for Sweet Pea. Oh, the travails of travel.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

This Day Seven Years Ago...

I looked and felt something like this:
Only, you know, not as graceful.

But then (oh, but then):

She came along. It was a long labor. A long hard labor. They call it "labor" for a reason. That's one thing I learned December 20, 2001.


Another thing I learned is that perfection can exist in 7lb. 11 oz. of perfectly formed baby girl.

She was the perfect gift. And we knew it, certainly in our hearts but even in our woefully sleep deprived brains.


One thing I didn't know then: the time goes by far too quickly.


This is my baby now:


She is a talker. ("Does she ever quit talking?" People have asked. Answer: no. She even talks in her sleep.)


She is smart. Too smart for her own good, sometimes.


She is beautiful. No picture taken with a camera does her justice. Her eyes, that's what'll get you. They are impossibly blue and big. And wise. (Some people call that "old soul". Since I don't believe in "old souls", I'm not sure what to call it. But it's there.)


She is helpful, spiritually-minded, gentle, nurturing ("bossy", some say), and good-hearted.


And she is ours.


She changed my life. She still changes my life on a daily basis.


That's my Polly.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The New 'Do


Picture credit: Polly.

Ask and ye shall receive, sort of.

Yes, I know it isn't short short. And this is not the best picture. But it's the best I can do for today.
Posted by Picasa

Oh Happy Day

Blogger, in all its infinite wisdom, has finally - finally! - after several months, seen fit to remove the charges against me.

In other words, Candid Diversions is no longer considered a "spam blog".

Which means auto saving! Scheduled posts! No more Rorschach tests before posting!

Happy Days are here again.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programing.

Shameless Blog Filler

I saw this on my mom's blog and decided, since I am procrastinating have nothing better do, why not play along?

50 random things about you! If you opened this, FILL IT OUT! Learn 50 things about your friends, and let them learn 50 things about you!

1. Do you like cheese? Yep.

2. Have you ever smoked? Not once. I can't even stand the smell. And no, I've never had an alcoholic drink, either.

3. Do you own a gun? I don't. Prince Charming might...

4. Do you like listening to Christmas music? Yes. Non-stop, 24-7 until Christmas is over. Not one of the things Prince Charming loves about me.

5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? Nope. Only before my girls have to get shots or blood work done. And then I make Prince Charming go in with them.

6. What do you think of hot dogs? I'm in favor of them.

7. Favorite Christmas song for all time? There is no way I can possibly answer this question. This Christmas my favorite is anything from the new Sara Groves Album. Next Christmas: who knows?

8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Orange juice.

9. Can you do push ups? Technically: yes. Practically: rarely.

10. Who is your favorite Grey's Anatomy Character? Is that the one with all those promiscuous, whiny, self-absorbed doctors?

11. What are your favorite pieces of jewelry? My engagement ring and my silver hoop earrings. I wear both every day.

12. Favorite hobby? Reading! Writing! Blogging! Words!

13. Do you eat "exotic" foods? Sure, but no more sushi after that food poisoning incident when Prince Charming and I were dating.

14. Do you have A.D.D.? I don't believe in A.D.D.

15. What one trait do you hate about yourself? I don't think I know any of you well enough to share this little tidbit.

16. Middle Name? Lee

17. Name 3 thoughts at this exact moment? "I wonder if Sweet Pea will sleep very long during nap time, I ought to be doing laundry, and what is that stuck in my teeth?"

18. Name 3 things you bought yesterday? Birthday cups, plates, & napkins; stocking stuffers; chocolate.

19. Name 3 drinks you regularly drink? Water, iced tea, juice

20. Current worry right now? How can we possibly get everything done before Sunday night?

21. Current hate? I'm a lover, not a hater.

22. Favorite place to be? At home, curled up on my couch, reading. Preferably with chocolate handy. If I can't be at home my next favorite spots are: the library and Grandma's house.

23. How will you bring in the New Year? At church listening to my husband preach while I wrestle three over-tired girls and attempt to last through the entire service. Then at Grandma's house. Again, wrangling three over-tired girls and, by this point, an over-tired husband.

24. Where would you like to go? Great Britain. And I am going. Next year.

25. Name three people who will complete this? No idea, but I hope Lulu does.

26. Do you own flip flops? Two "good" pairs and one "work" pair. And I only buy them from Old Navy. A girl's gotta have standards.

27. What shirt are you wearing? Dark green t-shirt with 3/4 length sleeves.

28. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? Nope. Cotton will be fine.

29. Can you whistle? Enough to impress my kids but that's not saying a whole lot.

30. Favorite color? Red!

31. Would you be a pirate? No way. I don't even like movies about pirates. (And I very much dislike movies with pirates that star Johnny Depp, but I digress.)

32. What songs do you sing in the shower? Anything. I sing in the car too.

33. Favorite girl's name? Other than my three daughters' names (which you know I am not willing to share) I think my favorite is probably Anna. Maybe. Sophia is right up there too. And then there's Julia or Juliet...

34. Favorite boy's name? Well, my obvious favorite is the name we've had picked out for years, just on the off chance that we ever have a son. (Which is looking less and less likely, I must say.) Other than that, my favorites are my dad's and my brother's. (Yes, even more than my husband's. Sorry.)

35. What's in your pocket right now? No pockets.

36. Last thing that made you laugh? Sweet Pea, playing outside, wearing purple sun glasses.

37. Best bed sheets as a child? Garfield twin size sheets. And the Mickey Mouse ones when Lulu would let me have them.

38. Worst injury you've ever had? Stitches, three times. I've been very blessed in the injury department: no broken bones, no hospitalizations (other than giving birth), no serious illness.

39. Do you love where you live? I love the people I live near but I wouldn't say I love this area of the country.

40. How many TVs do you have in your house? One. Used for watching movies. (And Prince Charming watches one show: The Office).

41. Who is your loudest friend? My friends are all soft-spoken, lovely, gracious people and I cannot be expected to answer this. (That or I'm the loudest.)

42. How many dogs do you have? None. I would like to have a dog, if we had a fenced yard, but a long time ago Prince Charming said we could have dog or another child, so we had Tigger.

43. Does someone have a crush on you? What a ridiculous question.

44. Do you get embarrassed easily? Yes.

45. What is your favorite book? I suppose I should say the Bible, and I do love it very much. Other than that, I've gotta go with Pride and Prejudice. Or Persuasion. Or Emma...

46. What is your favorite candy? Reece's. Cups. Pieces. It's all good.

47. Do you know all the words to the Fresh Prince theme song? Sadly, once upon a time, I did. Fortunately I no longer do.

48. What song do you want played at your funeral? Something very cheerful. The Hallelujah Chorus or Wonderful Grace of Jesus come to mind.

49. What were you doing 12 AM last night? Talking to Prince Charming.

50. What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up? "Five more minutes".

Thursday, December 18, 2008

In Which I Share Some News

I have a little hint for those of you thinking of making a change in your appearance:

If you've cut your hair short after having it long for a very long time and your little sister (who is inexplicably all of sudden old enough to be married and having babies) brings ultrasound pictures to church of your new but already completely adorable nephew (Nephew!), no one will notice you.

Not that, you know, that's a bad thing, exactly. You might just want to get your hair chopped off on a day that baby pictures are not forthcoming, is all I'm saying.

In other news:
- Princess is having a boy. I have a nephew! (You might have already caught this news, but I'm excited! And I predicted he was a boy so my record of being right on things continues! And I'm using way too many exclamation points today!)

- Polly's birthday fast approacheth. She turns the big 0-7 on Saturday. Considering she talks /acts like she's going on 25 all the time, this is not such a big leap. But how did my baby get so big?!

- Christmas shopping is done. Except for maybe one more thing for Sweet Pea. And anything for Prince Charming. That's right: I don't have one single gift for the man of the house. I told him I'm not getting him anything but he just laughs.

- We now have a mountain of gifts to be wrapped. Which we can't wrap, because Sweet Pea thinks her mission in life is to unwrap packages. And possibly, to eat the contents, whether the item is considered edible or not. So that's not working for us right now.

- And did I mention I got my hair cut?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Birthdays to be Observed

Have you wished Jane Austen "Happy Birthday" yet?

OK, I do understand that she has been long departed from this earth, but you did realize that it was her birthday, right?

A bit closer to home, today is also my good friend Jodi's day. December 16 must just be a day for brilliant women to be born.

Happy Birthday, Jodi! I am so thankful for your friendship.

(And thank-you, God, for giving us Jane Austen too.)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Now is Not the Time

So much to do, so very much to do...

And our primary computer has decided it (he/she?) cannot handle the pressure.

I know I should be thankful we have a perfectly decent laptop to use. And I am grateful to my brother-in-law for the use of this cute little computer (Hi, Stephen!)...

But I need the real computer.

Seriously. I need it. I'm the assistant treasurer for a highly respected organization who happens to be meeting this Saturday. Guess where all that information is? That's right. On our formerly trusty desktop computer.

Maybe if I promise it (he/she?) that the girls will never play Care Bear adventure ever again (at least until I need fifteen minutes to myself...)? If I promise to protect it (he/she?) from Prince Charming's tinkering? If I promise never to spend more than twenty minutes laughing at facebook flair ever again?

I didn't think so, either.

Late breaking update: Oh, never mind. She's come out of her swoon and has decided to cooperate once again. Our primary computer is definitely a female type. No surprise there.

Friday, December 12, 2008

On Today's Agenda:

- Baking. Lots of baking.

- Removing non-Christmas items so Christmas items can be out. This is about half completed.

- Christmas card addressing.

- Call to Grandma concerning an upcoming Birthday Girl.

- Protect our newly decorated Christmas tree from the Ornament Marauder. (That would be Sweet Pea.)

- Thursday tasks that didn't get done because we went shopping / Christmas tree buying / Christmas tree decorating / watched a family movie on Thursday.

- Usual Friday tasks. Plus all the baking already mentioned.

- Some Saturday tasks because I think we're squeezing in yet more shopping tomorrow afternoon.

So, with all this to do, why am I sitting here blogging? Catch you later - I've got lots of pictures from yesterday to share.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

An Adventure Downtown

Yesterday our family went Downtown (yes, I prefer the capital letter. After all, it is a Big City) for our Christmas escapades.

Item 1: Children's Theatre play (the British-y spelling is the official name. I'm not just putting on airs here)

Item 2: Large train display (It's free and they give you a cookie. Can't beat that.).

Item 3: Eating at our usual Downtown spot, just across from the theater. (Theatre?)

Item 4: Lose Prince Charming.

Oh, wait, that wasn't on the agenda. But we managed to do it all the same.

After parking our distinguished mini-van in a lot not too very far from the theater theatre play location, Prince Charming got out to pay for the wonderful privilege of parking. Have you parked Downtown recently? I'm amazed they don't ask for your credit score first. But I digress.

As my Beloved paid for the parking (at a machine a few rows away), I got all the jumpy, bouncy, excited, and, I might add, noisy, children out of our vehicle. We began walking toward Prince Charming. Having spotted a bookstore (Promising 5 floors of books! Five!) just across the parking lot, I headed that way with the children in tow. We walked -this is important - right past their daddy. We said - this is also important - we're going this way.

As I reached the sidewalk I noticed that he was not following. So we walked back and called for him. I called. Polly called. Tigger called. Nothing. Not a glimpse of him. (And he's not a short guy.) We decided to follow through with our plan.

We walked our circuitous route to the play location. Polly would not let me go in the bookstore. "Mom, you will never come out of there. We don't have time", I believe were her exact words. I half-carried Sweet Pea and half-dragged Tigger. Fortunately it wasn't raining yet...much. The girls were cheerful thinking about all the fun things we were about to do. However they both lamented their daddy's absence.

"I feel farther away from home without Daddy," Polly confessed.
"Where did Daddy go? How will we find him? He might be lost!" Tigger worried.

"We'll meet up with him at the play," I assured them. "He's probably waiting for us now." This cheered them up. Until we got to the theater and...no Daddy.

"Where did he go?" We all said at this point. We couldn't go in yet because we were early. I didn't want to walk to the train exhibit because Prince Charming hadn't known where it was so surely he wouldn't be there, right? We stood on the corner and waited. The girls fussed. It started to rain harder. I seriously considered walking back to the van and leaving.

Then he showed up, walking from the direction of the train exhibit. "Where have you guys been?" He actually said. Where had we been?

As we untangled what had happened I asked him why he went to the train exhibit when he said he didn't know where it was. "You pointed out what direction it was in," he said, in that reasonable tone of voice that I sometimes dislike very much tolerate poorly.

"So, a quick gesture you remember but an express, 'we're going this way', not so much?" What can I say, I felt a little testy at this point. He couldn't explain how he had missed us WALKING RIGHT BY HIM and ANNOUNCING OUT LOUD WHAT WE WERE DOING.

So we walked in the driving rain to the train exhibit. We rushed through, thanks to Polly's incessant, "I don't want to miss the play!" We sat in our seats waiting for the show for thirty-five minutes, also thanks to Polly's rushing us.

We did not eat Downtown. As soon as we were released from the play we hightailed it back to our van and went to eat somewhere else. Somewhere small, far away from the City. Polly lamented that it wasn't "tradition". But neither is losing a member of our group.

Oh, and he didn't even get the umbrella when he walked back to put the parking slip in the van. He thought I had it. And the stroller. So he was looking for a lady with a baby in a stroller, two little girls and a bright red umbrella. No wonder he couldn't find us. I guarantee he had no idea what we were wearing.

Next time I'm making them all wear those toddler tethers you see moms using at the mall. Couldn't hurt, right?

And I think I need to go back to that bookstore. Alone.

Monday, December 8, 2008

What's Christmas Without Music?



Christmas isn't Christmas (for me) without listening to these albums:

1. True Value Happy Holidays Volume 17. This is a record. Yes, an actual 33 1/3 record. Which, by the way, yes, I do own my own record player (It's a Crosley. My most favorite-ist thing I've ever bought myself). But this album lives with my parents. It must be listened to at least once each holiday season. Preferably while we decorate the tree.

2. Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters. Bing belongs to Christmas. There are many great albums to choose from but this is one of my favorites.

3. A Perry Como Christmas. It almost doesn't matter which album. I think Como is second only to Crosby in his crooning ability. The songs vary from well known to not so well known. I love 'em all.

4. Amy Grant's A Christmas Album. Much loved for the Tennessee Christmas song, in days of old. We no longer live in that state, so it has a bit less meaning, but still, it's a good c.d. Some of the background music is a little clunky now, causing this to not make Prince Charming's favorite list. Come to think of it, none of the music I've mentioned so far would make his favorite list.

5. Amy Grant's Home for Christmas. Yes, I just mentioned Amy Grant. No, I don't particularly love Amy Grant. This c.d. has some gorgeous songs all the same. Love, love, love, "Breath of Heaven."

6. The Roger Whittaker Christmas Album. This one crosses over into the "guaranteed to drive Prince Charming up the wall" category. I mostly love it because two of the songs are on the aforementioned True Value record.

7. Sarah McLachlan Wintersong. I skip the first song (Happy Xmas - War is Over). If you don't like the original version (John Lennon, in this case) chances are you won't like the knock-off. Some exceptions apply, of course. But this c.d. improves after that. And her First Noel / Mary Mary is a must listen. In The Bleak Midwinter is beautiful and haunting.

8. Empire Brass Joy to the World. Nothing says "Christmas" like a brass ensemble. This particular c.d. has 17 songs. Most are well known carols, a few are a bit more obscure. Prince Charming says that Empire Brass is "almost too perfect". Are you starting to suspect P.C. is a bit of a Grinch? I mean, he isn't, of course, but he sounds like one sometimes.

9. Sara Groves O Holy Night. Okay, confession time, this c.d. just came out this season. But I already know it is destined to be a family all-time favorite. First of all, I love Sara Groves anyway. Second of all, this album is beautiful. Third of all, Prince Charming loves it too, which, as you know, is rare. I have almost nothing bad to say about this c.d., except for the fact I found a typo in the liner notes. ("Their" does not mean "they are". And vice versa. Work with me people!)

10. Michael W. Smith Christmas. This one is old now. I have never been crazy about Smith. I consider his voice juvenile and a bit whiny. I think his songwriting skill is greater than his actual singing ability. But this c.d. is gorgeous. The symphony, the children's choir, the soaring orchestrations...it's all good. Actually, it's all great. This is usually the first thing our family listens to when Prince Charming declares it open season. (That would be the after Thanksgiving trip home.) I find it best to break in the Christmas music with something everyone loves and this c.d. definitely applies.

Coming soon: a post about my favorite Christmas songs.

What music brings Christmas to your home?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Dear Lulu,
I take my pen blog in hand to tell you how much I ardently admire and love you.

You're (one of) the best sisters ever. Like, in the history of the entire world. Seriously.

And you're a pretty awesome aunt, too.

I sent a gift. It will come later. Despite my reputation as the sister who has everything together (HA! Who bought that?) you are the one who gets cards to everyone well before time. I am the one constantly laughing to myself as I read all the cards in Hallmark and then settle for one of the "sorry you have such an idiot for a family member. Happy Belated Birthday" ones.

So, anyhoo, your gift is in the mail. I love you lots and lots. And I give you this:

Just because, you know, everyone can do with a little more Mr. Darcy in their lives.
Love you much!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Because I Like It

Have I mentioned my friend Tarah has a new blog? Lots of great stuff here to look at and inspire some reminiscing. Check it out - lots of great Christmas inspiration right now, just in case you need a push.

Somehow, despite not seeing each other in person for over a decade and not living near each other for sixteen some odd years, we are still interested in a lot of the same things. Maybe that's what "Kindred Spirits" means?



*Of course, we disagree on a lot of stuff too, but no need to get into all of that just now!

Our Homeschool December

Over at Heart of the Matter online folks are talking about the holidays. Here's what goes on 'round these parts.

We do:

- Celebrate Christmas!
- Make a list of all things we would like to do (ride train at the mall, watch certain movies, bake certain cookies, etc.)
- Read from our extensive Christmas book collection. This year is the first that Polly has really enjoyed reading them by herself. She's read The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey aloud to her younger sisters at least twice already. These are books we only bring out after Thanksgiving and all the girls love looking at them and having them read.
- Take off for about two weeks, roughly around the same time as our local school districts take off.

We don't:

- Emphasize Santa Claus. We have fun reading the stories and poems. We have fun watching movies (Rudolph!). We do not pretend that Santa comes to our house. Our children know he isn't "real". We still manage to have fun. And yes, we do try to prevent our children from spoiling things for other children. So far, so good.
- Emphasize Jesus' birthday. The reason is simple: December 25th is, most likely, not the birth date of our Savior. If God had wanted us to know the exact date, it'd be right there in Scripture. We're still grateful for the opportunity to reflect on Jesus coming to Earth, and the eternal repercussions of His doing so.
- Have special lessons. We continue with our usual studies (Math, History, Science, & Reading. We ease up on Grammar for a bit). We do crafts and activities from the list mentioned above, but these are not from my school planning. They're more spontaneous, if you can consider listing everything first spontaneous.

So far we have not:
- Learned about other December holidays (Hanukkah). We will eventually study Jewish holidays (feasts and fasts). But we haven't yet. I have absolutely no plans at all to study other Winter observances (Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice).

It's a busy month for us. Polly's birthday is right before Christmas and we always have a party. We've managed to make it special for her, I think, because she told me that she loves having her birthday right before Christmas. Now, back to my mile long to do list.

And, it must be said, if there really were a Santa Claus "making a list and checking it twice", Tigger would be on the "naughty" list. It's been that kind of day.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Books of 2008 - November

Good thing: got a lot of reading done in November.
Bad thing: mostly fiction and inconsequential stuff. I'm living in DHL these days. (That's Delusional Happy Land, not to be confused with the delivery service). DHL requires no current events, no news, nothing seriously depressing.

1. Inkspell. Fiction by Cornelia Funke. I thought this was better than the first novel. Bonus: love the quotations at the beginnings of chapters.

2. Home Sweeter Home. Non-fiction by Jann Mitchell. Meh. I've read about ten books like this. They're all the same. So why do I keep reading them?

3. Inkdeath. Fiction by Cornelia Funke. Conclusion to the Inkheart trilogy. Very good, although I think the second book was best. Call it the "Empire Strikes Back" theory. The second part of a trilogy always has the most emotional impact.

4. The Serpent and the Scorpion. Fiction by Clare Langely-Hawthorne. This book is yet another example of the "Karen is fooled by a nice cover" paradigm. Yuck. I didn't like the first book in this series, didn't like the author, didn't care for the "heroine" (and yes, I use the term loosely), but, and here's the danger of a forgettable book, I had forgotten all that. So I read the second book in the series inadvertently (due to the good cover) and all the same opinions apply. Yuck, again.

5. The Sacred Echo. Non-fiction by Margaret Feinberg. Thought-provoking. More questions than answers, unfortunately, so I'm still not sure whether I agree with most of this book or not.

6. Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer. Non-fiction by C.S. Lewis. Gotta love Lewis, even when it causes yet more questions rather than answers. (Noticing a pattern yet?)

7. The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday. Fiction by Alexander McCall Smith. Utterly diverting and charming, despite this author's use of the omniscient narrator. Somehow, what would drive me to distraction with another author is enjoyable with this one.

8. Brisingr. Fiction by Christopher Paolini. I think young Mr. Paolini is finally hitting his stride. He still uses flowery language when simple would do just as well. And it still seems as though he writes with a thesaurus in one hand and Tolkien in the other (plus some Star Wars and King Arthur thrown in for good measure). However, I believe his writing has improved and I'm anxious for the fourth book, which will supposedly conclude the "cycle".

9. The Fighting Lady: The New Yorktown in the Pacific War. Non-fiction by Clark Reynolds. Informative. I borrowed this book from my Grandpa. The Yorktown is the one WW2 carrier I've actually visited and toured. This was read as research for the ever percolating novel, obviously.

10. A Spoonful of Poison. Fiction by M.C. Beaton. Series mystery. I can't explain why, buy these Agatha Raisin mysteries are always a comforting read for me. Must be the "British cozy" factor.

11. Dragon Rider. Fiction by Cornelia Funke. Geared more to the younger set than her Inkheart trilogy. Still enjoyable. Does my book list seem a little dragon heavy these days? Must have dragons on the mind.

12. 44 Scotland Street. Fiction by Alexander McCall-Smith. Deceptively light. Fun to read.

13. Life with God. Non-fiction by Richard J. Foster. Not sure exactly how I think about this book, yet, as I am still processing. Much food for thought.

So that makes 8 fiction, 5 non-fiction, which is very fiction heavy for me. My goal is usually to read 2 non-fiction for every 1 fiction, but living in DHL has changed my reading habits.

Monday, December 1, 2008

That's Not Good

Prince Charming and I were co-ordinating our calendars this morning. December, as usual, promises to be a very exciting month. We attempt to keep outside engagements to a minimum, but even so, it's a challenge to figure out what needs to happen when. Which led to this conversation:

Prince Charming: As far as I can see, the only time we have to do Christmas shopping is right now.
Me: Right this minute?
Prince Charming: Yep. Right now. Or maybe a few hours next Thursday. That's it.
Me: We had better get going. Right now.

How does December manage to sneak up like this? There we are, blissfully flying through the other eleven months while December hovers in the background, giggling madly. "They'll never see me coming this time."

And December is always right. Except for that year I gave birth in December. I had all my Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving that year. Maybe I should pretend a baby is on the way every year.

But, if you will excuse me, I have 57 million things to do. Right now.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Confidential...

Happy Birthday, Amy!

I'm so glad we can talk and be friends now that we're all grown up. You have been a great encouragement to me in recent days - and I really appreciate it.

Despite having several readers named "Amy", you may have surmised that this little note is for my cousin. But if your name is Amy and today is your birthday, well, happy birthday to you, too!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tigger-isms on Turkey Day

These are actual Tigger quotes made during the course of the day:

On sports: "I don't like football. It's not my favorite team."

When remembering to cover her mouth when she coughed: "See, Mom? I'm pushing my coughs back in my mouth!"

When realizing that Daddy and Uncle had gone and taken Sweet Pea but no one else: "You mean Daddy left you here? All alone?" (Author's note: I was not alone. Her sister, her Pop & Mem, and Tigger herself were all here with me.)

To a semi-grouchy game playing uncle: "You can just go to bed, if you want. Go on to bed." (Author's note: It was approximately 7:15 CST)

To a sister not playing along properly: "Smile for the camera." - Mom intervenes, tells big sister to play along with Tigger's pretending and play picture taking - "Polly! That's not a good smile."

There were more, but I've lost them, probably due to food induced stupor. I knew I should have blogged about them immediately.

Happy Thanksgiving

I have many things to be thankful for - and you are on the list!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

They're Here...Oh, Wait, That's Us

After an uneventful but seemingly abnormally long trip yesterday (Could've been Prince Charming's dull delightful audio Patrick O'Brien book. Or not. I'm just sayin'.) we arrived at our first stop on the Great Thanksgiving Tour of '08.

A good time was had by all at this stop. Pizza was eaten (lots and lots of pizza). Games were played (both willingly and under duress). Laughter was shared. Dirt was eaten.

Oh, wait, that last thing only Sweet Pea did. While both parents, both older sisters, her uncle, and her Great-Grandmother were all otherwise occupied, Sweet Pea helped herself to the potting soil of one of Grandmother's potted plants. If she had only kept it to herself...but no, she didn't. She spread it around on the carpet.

Grandmother is worried about the Miracle Grow used on the aforesaid plant. So, if Sweet Pea turns out to be abnormally tall when she is grown up, you all will know why.

And that was just the beginning of our escapades (sounds more fun than "trials"). We are now safely ensconced at our third stop of the trip. So far, so good.

In other words, Sweet Pea hasn't sampled the plants here, yet. There's always tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the next...And what about the news that one of Prince Charming's young cousins has the...wait for it...Chicken Pox?!

Stay tuned: Will the girls manage to shake off their persistent colds? Will chicken pox be shared among the family despite vaccinations which supposedly prevent such occurrences? Will turkey or ham be more popular in the two days we manage to stretch out the festivities? And will yours truly finally beat Prince Charming at Agricola? (cue classic sitcom organ music)

Gas prices? $1.59 a gallon. Emergency Starbucks for everyone? $10. Cough syrup, steam treatment, & cough drops? $20. Lots of blog material and stories to tell over and over again? Priceless.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Can't Talk Now...

Preparations for forthcoming trip over the river and through the woods (go ahead and sing the rest) are underway.

As you might imagine, getting this crew out of the house is somewhat akin to Eisenhower's D-Day preparations. Complicated doesn't even begin to cover it. And that's when Blogger doesn't eat my blog posts, which just happened a few minutes ago.

Now I really must go. The girls are already in the van. If we don't get out there soon, Sweet Pea will drive off. Or, at the very least, unpack all the pajamas. Again.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

No Easy Questions


Polly: "Is it true that God has a purpose for everything?"

Me: "Where did you hear that?"

Polly: "I heard Grandad say it once."

Me: "Well then."

Polly: "But is it true?"

Me: "..."

Why not just stab me in the heart next time, Little One? I am not ready to answer that question.

But she thinks I can answer any question, or, at the very least, Google it. I suspect the illusion of parents who know everything is beginning to crumble. Or it will once she realizes that I'm not actually answering her questions.

And why doesn't she ever hit her daddy with these things? It is ALWAYS me. No one warned me about that facet of motherhood. Despite a dad and a grandad who are preachers, she brings her deep theological thoughts to me.

There was a time when I would have given her a quick, easy answer. For reasons I won't go into, I don't do that any more. So I expect the questions are going to keep coming.

But next time I hope she asks me something easy, like "Where do babies come from?"

Friday, November 21, 2008

What We've Been Learning

Today marks the last day of our first term of school. I don't divide things by quarters or semesters, at least, not yet. We officially started this school year August 18. We've taken four days off since then (one to go to a McCain-Palin rally, one because we didn't have any electricity for three days and therefore took a "wind" day, one for Tigger's birthday, and one for a family reunion). We've also done school work on three Saturdays. Which means only one day really "lost".

It's time for a break! This year we get to spend an entire week with Prince Charming's family (well, they're mine too, now, but you know what I mean, right?). We had planned to take a few items of school work for Monday and Tuesday but the Principal and the Teacher have jointly decided that we'll have an entire week of vacation instead.

I am actually more excited about this than Polly, I think. She won't miss her timed Math sheets, that's for sure, but everything else she really enjoys.

So what have we gotten done in these 14 weeks? A quick summary:
3 New Sections of Scripture memorized (Psalm 1, Matthew 5:3-12, Psalm 113:1-9)
7 Poems memorized ("Let Dogs Delight to Bark and Bite", "Little Things", "Something Told the Wild Geese", "Who Has Seen the Wind?", "The Goops", "'The Little Bird", and "The Year")
59 Math lessons (Saxon 2)
8 Math Assessments
47 Timed Math Fact Sheets
41 Language Lessons
31 McGuffey's Reader Lessons
14 Science topics + supplemental reading (my list is incomplete, much to Polly's annoyance)
14 Chapters of History (The Story of the World 2) complete
14 map pages for History
14+ coloring pages for History (some chapters have more than 1)
20 Supplemental Picture Books for History (6 read by Polly, 4 read by Mom, the rest by both of us taking turns) The last two we read are these:


We highly recommend the first one. Polly read the second one by herself. She came to me a few times for help. ("Mom, is this person really named 'Snorre'?" "Yes, honey. Glad you're not a viking?")

Polly has also started compiling a list of all the books she has read, whether for school or not. She's currently at nineteen. Thirteen of those are within the past two weeks. She's really annoyed that we didn't start this list at the beginning of school. ("I could have had 100 by now!")

We haven't really worked on handwriting like I feel we should but Polly has been writing. We've done copywork several times (not everyday) and dictation in accordance with our language textbook. We also use a lot of narration in Science and History. I do not require Polly to write reports and this will continue probably until she's around ten years old. I also don't test her in any subject other than math. And, even in math, it is simply called an "assessment" and we keep it very low-key.

Polly is really starting to take off with her reading and it is so fun to watch. Now the challenge of monitoring her reading choices (books from the library) has really begun.

And have I mentioned that Tigger is "doing school" these days? She's learned all 26 letters and their primary sounds. She knows two sight words ("the" and "I"). We're taking the whole "sounding out" thing very slowly. It hasn't quite clicked for her. No rush. She's not even a whole "handful" yet.

One of the benefits of being second generation homeschoolers is raiding the stash of the first generation (aka "Mom", aka "Gram"). One of my latest acquisitions there was a book about how to use Cuisenaire Rods. Tigger and I have done 4 lessons out of that book. She loves "doing math". And the best part is Polly wants to do the same thing, which makes Tigger feel like she's really grown-up.

Writing all this down makes me realize just how much we've accomplished in a few short weeks. Okay, they were occasionally really long weeks, but still - we've pulled it off! Fourteen down - twenty-six to go. Well, for this school year. After all, we've only been on this particular homeschool odyssey for two formal years (homeschooling really starts at birth, but that's another post).

So really we have many, many more weeks ahead of us. And I'm looking forward to them all.

On the Other Hand...

Changing just one of my answers got me this result. That makes me a Scrabble-Chess Hybrid. I can live with that.




You Are Chess



You are brilliant and shrewd. You can often predict what people will do in the future.

You thrive in complex situations. You deal with contradictions well.

You can have many streams of though going on at your mind at once. You keep track of things well.

You are very patient. You have lots of endurance, even when your energy dwindles