Friday, August 29, 2008

Best Tips for Conquering Clutter

That's the theme over at Heart of the Matter today. I'm something of an organization junkie (not a cleaning person - that's a whole 'nother story!). We, a family of 5, live in a tiny house. Not tiny compared to a mansion - actually tiny. Think less than 1,000 square feet. Think the type of house our great-grandparents probably lived in. (Unless your great-grandparents were super wealthy, in which case: move along.) Here's how we manage:

1. Always keep a bag going for donations. Several organizations (Vietnam Veterans and the Lupus Foundation to name two) will pick up donations. When you come across something in your cabinets or whatever just send it straight to this bag. Don't look at it again. Don't even think about it again.

2. Shelves are our friends. Homeschoolers have BOOKS. Books need shelves, lots of shelves.

3. Plastic notebooks are our friends. Homeschoolers have PAPERS. Papers need notebooks and folders. We have a notebook for each subject. Every worksheet, every project paper gets hole-punched and placed in the correct notebook. At the end of the year I pare down papers and place everything in one large 2" or 3" notebook. This is for our year end assessment, as required by our state law.

4. Kids need to be able to put their own things away. Our girls' drawers are under their bed so they can put away their own laundry. They have baskets for their socks, under-roos, etc. Even the baby (18 months old!) can put away her own laundry with just the tiniest bit of help (pulling out the basket & pushing it back). We have hooks for them to hang up their sweaters, hats, purses, etc.

5. Use your walls. Use them for shelves, bulletin boards, magnet boards, hanging baskets or whatever. Using your walls will help keep you from climbing your walls. Which is a good thing, as Martha would say.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

An Afternoon Recap

I'm giving you advance warning that this post is going to be a mixed bag, attitude wise at least. Our family just spent what felt like the entire day in our mini-van. We traipsed from one side of our locality to the other and, let me just tell you, we don't live in a small town.

First stop: Financial planning place. Dave Ramsey's ELP in this area, for those of you interested. It was a very nice - very nice - office. Right on the door it had stuff about "wealth management", which struck Prince Charming and me as quite funny because we have no wealth to manage. Then we entertained our three girls in the very nice conference room while waiting for Mr. ELP. The two youngest girls were just starting to get "antsy" when he came in. Fortunately for us they pulled it together (thanks in no small part to Polly who tried to keep them both entertained and corralled). So, after money talk and plans for certain changes, we were done. Then we had time to kill before stop #2 so we headed to a place in the neighborhood.

Stop #2: The Big Blue Box store. Polly & Tigger played in the staffed play area while Prince Charming, Sweet Pea and I wandered around purposefully examined the many options. We made it out, one hour later, without buying one single thing. I know. I couldn't believe it either.

Stop #3: Traffic. Traffic. And more traffic. Prince Charming went the way he thought instead of the way I suggested. I'm just sayin'.

Stop #4 (slightly late): Polly's TKD class. She apparently didn't miss much. But we realized, thanks to one of the teachers, that we shouldn't have hurried because she is actually supposed to be in the later class because the fall schedule is different from the summer schedule and really, no, it's fine, don't worry but aim for the second class in the future. Guess we shouldn't have worried about the traffic.

Stop #5: Food. A restaurant chain that we didn't have in our area has opened up not far from the TKD place. So we ate there for the first time tonight. The service was good but my steak was overcooked. I know, cry me a river, the steak wasn't just right. But I really hate overcooked steak. Still, my sweet potato & everything else was great. Just not the steak. Moving on now...

Stop #6: Grocery for bread. Yes, I generally do one grocery trip per week. But somehow we managed to come up short on bread - of all things! - this week. So we stopped because I had a coupon that got that bread for $0.20. Even the bread store doesn't beat that. And I bought 2 boxes of waffles for a treat for the girls (spent about $1.20 per box).

Stop #7: Home, at last! To find several less than charming email in Prince Charming's email in-box. One a nitpick suggestion from his brother. And one from one of our former children's program workers. I say former because she informed Prince Charming that not only will she not be helping this year but it is (her words) "time for some of the younger workers to step up". We can't quite decide who she means. The girl working and going to college all the time after her life fell apart this spring? The woman whose husband has just left her? The couple who have a brand new baby who are already serving in multiple ministries in addition to the Wednesday program? Who exactly is supposed to be "stepping up"? 'Cause I'd really like to know.

Wow, I feel better. Now I think I need to put myself to bed with a good book and for tomorrow? I'm staying home all day. Well, except for a quick trip to the library. But other than that - home, home and more home and I'm avoiding my beloved's email. It isn't good for my blood pressure when I check it.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

She Knows Me Well

A snippet of conversation between Polly and her Southern Grandparents (aka Pop and Mem) as they talked via Skype last night:

Mem: What has your Mommy been doing?

Polly: (short pause) Reading, reading, reading and laundry.

And yes, it is an accurate picture of my life. Even while they were carrying on this conversation I was in the other room with two baskets of laundry waiting to be folded and an almost finished book. Occasionally I throw in a little teaching or cleaning or cooking or bumped-head-kissing or sibling squabble refereeing but otherwise, reading and laundry sum up my days.

So, minus the omnipresent laundry, I'm living the life I always wanted.

The Baby's Here

Oh, sorry, I didn't mean a baby for us. But one of my oldest friends - I mean in friendship duration not actual years, of course - just had her second. Go to Morgan's blog for all the details.

And, as a side note, what is with all these babies not waiting until Mom is snug in a hospital bed / the midwife comes?! This is the second baby in less than a year in my circle of friends that has been in a big hurry. Come to think of it, they're both boys...

I've had some long difficult labors and some long easier labors but I think I'll take long labors over having the baby in the car any day.

Anyway, congratulations to Jodi, Ryan and Breanna!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pink Distractions

I was sitting in church Sunday night. So far, so usual, right? I had just taken my seat as the music service was over and I had been playing the piano. Again, not unusual because I'm the main church pianist. Then my eyes drifted away from the front of the auditorium. Specifically, my gaze was drawn to the white walls of our building.

There, in the midst of all the pristine white walls, a sticker taunted me. It was small, round, and very pink. Now, this type of thing would normally annoy me a bit, what with it not belonging there and everything. But this time it really bothered me. Why?

I recognized that sticker. And it had my oldest daughter's name right smack dab in the middle. Yes, thank you so much, person who gave my daughters stickers with their names on them. Now there will be no doubt who is trying to brighten up our church decor with little splashes of pink.

I'm reasonably sure the oldest is not the culprit in this case. Tigger really likes stickers. Really likes them. And they show up in odd places where stickers ought not to be. She thinks that our "stickers are just for papers" is a creativity crushing rule.

That sticker glared at me all through service. Yes, I did listen to the sermon. But I think I could have listened better if Prince Charming would have just reached his long arms over there during one of the prayers and yanked that thing right off. But, despite my fervored whispering, he would not do it.

As it was, I had to wait until I walked back to the piano for the invitation. Next service I'm taking a good look at the walls before I sit down in my pew.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Frugal Friday - Exchanging Houses

Dollhouses that is. Our girls have two large dollhouses. One is a vintage Fisher Price that Polly got for Christmas four years ago. And here is the picture proof. And yes, I can't believe how much Polly has grown since then. (Small sigh)

The other dollhouse is a vintage Little Tikes that Polly bought with her own money at a yard sale about two years ago. We've had the Little Tikes house out since then and the Fisher Price house stored away but they only had one dollhouse "family". And lately they haven't played dollhouse at all.

The solution? This week we brought up the "old" dollhouse and removed the "new" one to the dungeon basement. The result? Hours of dollhouse play even though the people, furniture, and accessories are the same. The moral? Even plastic people like a change of scenery every once in awhile.

Don't own two dollhouses? This could work very well if you know another family who would be willing to trade for a little while. No money spent. Hours of play with toys already owned. That's what I call frugal. Be sure to check out Biblical Womanhood for more Frugal Friday ideas!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Six Random Things

Rules:
1) Link to the person who tagged you
2) Post the rules on your blog (copy and paste 1-6).
3) Write 6 random things about yourself (see below).
4) Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them.
5) Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6) Let the tagger (who tagged you) know when your post is up.


I was tagged by Amy over at Buffaloes & Butterfly Wings.

Without further ado, here are my (very) random things:

1. I like to be on time (read: early) to pretty much anything. I hate being late. I very much dislike it when other people are late. If I'm late to something here are a few possible reasons: a) lots of traffic b) one of my kids threw up c) I don't really want to be where I'm supposed to be. So now you know.

2. I never pumped a tank of gas until after I was married. I still dislike having to do it.

3. When and if I partake of a soft drink (Coke, for you southerners) I prefer it from a fountain rather than a bottle or can. And, much as I love good old Coca-Cola, there is nothing yuckier than warm, flat Coke in a can. Yuck!

4. I have notebooks and files full of ideas gleaned from magazines. Occasionally I even use them. Hey, at least I don't keep every magazine I get.

5. I hid money around my room when I was a kid. Varying amounts but I always kept a $10 behind a picture hanging up. Now that I think about it, it doesn't seem like a healthy compulsion.
6. I've never had a broken bone or major surgery or even been hospitalized other than for the births of my children. And I'd like to keep it that way.

There you go. 6 completely absolutely true / boring things about me. Now I tag these 3 people because I can't come up with 6 just now they're my favorites:

Lisa

Jessica

Kelly

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Feeling Green


Have you read the latest issue of Hallmark Magazine? Well, I have. Right now I'm getting a free subscription. I haven't really had many opinions about this publication one way or another. Until now. (You can imagine ominous tones there.)

I've noticed an unfortunate new trend in many of the decorating magazines I receive. (Hey, I'm a magazine junkie, what can I say?) Somehow, between the tempting recipes, intriguing crafts, and inspiring designs (except for those backwards books!) most magazines have now begun preaching to us, the humble readers, about climate change.

Yes, it's not enough that we are trying to raise children, tastefully decorate our homes, feed our families, and enjoy life. Now we must evaluate every single action in terms of, "Am I destroying the planet? What's my carbon footprint?"

This month's issue of the aforementioned mag has an article, "Adventures of An Eco-Mom" by Rebecca Barry. Subtitle: When my husband and I decided to go green, we had to figure out what worked for us - and how to avoid annoying everyone we know.

Let's just say I think she's failed miserably at that second item. I'm annoyed and I doubt I'm alone.

It's not just her snarky opinions about drilling in ANWR. (She contemplates giving a student an "F" on a paper for holding the opinion that we should drill.) It's not just her smug promotion of her "very sleek, very expensive European washer and dryer" and Prius. No, it's the fact that every paragraph, every sentence is full of holier-than-thou greenness.

I was merely annoyed by this until I got to the penultimate subheading: Exposing Your Kids to Nature. This is where Ms. Barry relates her unfortunate exposure to trash in floating in the water while she was vacationing. Now, I wouldn't have given this much thought but she was vacationing in...Spain. Wow, what kind of carbon footprint did that little jaunt leave? She whines later about John Travolta flying around in one of his private jets for fun, thereby undoing "everything I could possibly do for the next 40 years." Um, Ms. Pot meet Mr. Kettle?

I've had it, had it, had it with this "Green Crusade". I love Earth as much as the next gal - hey, I live here! But this is not what I want from the magazines I read. Get back to recipes and crafts and how to rearrange my furniture.

I'm going to disclose right now that I use the recycling bin so helpfully provided by my city. I don't allow my children to throw their trash on the ground. We've been known to clean up other people's mess. We plant a (small) garden. We've planted four trees since we bought this house. We do these things because we want to, not because we think that the world will be destroyed if we don't.

And all these magazine articles about "going green" are having the opposite effect on me. They make me feel like indiscriminately tossing all my garbage in our big green trash can or driving around in our non-electric vehicle just for fun. I can't think that that's the reaction these stories are hoping to provoke. I'm feeling green all right, but it's more like being seasick than being "environmentally conscious."

Monday, August 18, 2008

300th Post in Brief

Hi!

Phelps Won.

Back to School.

No time to chat.

Didn't watch Olympics last night.

Poor Nastia was denied uneven gold.

Lots to do, talk to you soon!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

What The Doctor Said (What I Thought)

The Dermatologist - Me

"You will never tan." (Tell me about it. I gave up on that a long time ago!)

"You have a very pretty face." (I like this doctor!)

"You have absolutely beautiful skin. (I really like this doctor!)

"Continue doing what you've been doing and you should be fine. Unless you see something that worries you we only need to see you every couple of years." (Why can't every doctor visit be like this?!)

Sure, there were a few specific things discussed and he answered some of my questions but this is most of our conversation and the part I'll remember for awhile. This is the same dermatologist that treats Sweet Pea's eczema. All I can say is I hope he doesn't retire for a very long time.

Crisis Averted

If this morning you had woken up to news on this blog of my tragically early demise it would be one person's fault. Specifically, it would be his: One-one-hundredth of a second? That's cutting it kind of fine, to say the least.

I must admit that I've been more caught up in this Michael Phelps mania than I thought I would. One more event and then I can rest. Except for, you know, the rest of the Olympics that also interest me.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Not Quite Back to Regular Life Yet

Not much to say this morning, other than: these girls are both amazing.

Go here for Nastia's gold medal winning routines.
I went to bed last night having seen only two of their four rotations. I thought the judging on Nastia's vault was quite fishy and I just couldn't stay up long enough to watch it in real time. So I've spent most of the morning catching up. What a nice surprise to wake up to!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Hitting the books - eventually

All education has its traditions and homeschooling is no different. One of the best, in our house, is the "big book buy". That's in June or July when I start e-baying and used book-storing like mad to provide the spine of our curriculum for the year. That and I just really like shopping on e-bay and bookstores.

In case you've been wondering our homeschool style is what I am going to one day write a book on: Hybrid Homeschooling. (Seriously. I'm going to write a book about it. When I find the time. And when I have a few more years experience to flaunt tell about.) For us, this is mostly a mixture of Classical Method and Charlotte Mason. And, because of this inclination, we follow a book written by Susan Wise Bauer and her mother, Jessie Wise, called: The Well Trained Mind. We minimally follow their suggestions but we also do a fair bit of culling from every other homeschool idea I've ever had, read about, or heard mentioned, and they are legion.

Part of getting ready for a new "formal" school year, after the BBB (big book buy, remember?) is just piling up all the lovely new or new-to-us material. I make plans with these materials but my children are - this is important - not allowed to take these books and look at them. Absolutely no peeking. Maybe it's just my girls but this one simple rule gets them very excited to actually "start school". We've got some goodies lined up this year:

Polly is doing Saxon 2. Basically second grade work. She tore through Saxon 1, rarely hitting a snag. After careful study on my part I see no reason why this year will be different. We don't actually hit a "new" concept until after lesson 50.
This is our history for this year, also Second Grade work. We enjoyed last year, although we rarely any more than coloring or map work from all the suggested activities. This year we have a good plan and intend to really delve into the Middle Ages. We're both excited!
This is for reading aloud. Polly is reading really well now but in addition to other school things she will also read this to me so we can work on technique.
These two books are the spines for our science program. We're really looking forward to this part of school this year. Our science fell off towards the end last year and we don't want that to happen again. Again, I think with careful planning and then willingness to roll with "real life", we'll get a lot done.

In addition to these specific books we have lots of supplementals planned. And we're looking forward to Fine Art Fridays again. Polly's been asking when we can read another Shakespeare story. I'm not sure I was even aware that William Shakespeare existed when I was 6 1/2.

As a final note, and woeful instance of my own insanity, I will explain why we didn't start this week. I had tentatively planned to start last Monday. Then the opportunity for the two oldest girls to spend the night with one set of my grandparents came up. And - this is the beauty of homeschooling - Prince Charming and I were in complete agreement that they should go. Spending the night with great-grandparents is much more worthwhile than a few lessons.

All well and good but why not start school the next day? I can't. It has to be a Monday. It just has to. I know it's a sickness but I just can't understand starting on some random day of the week. Nope, Monday it is. Schedules will be altered, adapted and destroyed all year long. This one has to happen this way.

(Walter Cronkite voice) And that's the way it is. (end terrible Cronkite impression.)

Edited to add: forgot to mention that we are on year 2 of First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind. We're supplementing by adding more poems to be memorized and it's a bit too much writing for Polly (we skip some writing) but other than that we really like it.

Carry on.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Quick thoughts, obvious truth

Our Olympic lag continues around here. I know I should go to bed but...I just don't do it. I stay up to cheer on Michael Phelps. I keep Prince Charming updated as he works in the other room about the other competitions. (He doesn't watch some of them because those lovely athletes are showing more than a bit too much skin. But he enjoys my commentary. At least, I think he does.)

Last night was the ladies' artistic gymnastics finals. I watched, when I could stand it, through my fingers. I don't think I'm cut out to be a sports fan.

In case you haven't heard (where have you been?), there is some controversy about the gymnastics finals. Here's my opinion: our girls didn't deserve gold. They deserved silver, which they won.

But as to the controversy? Let's just say that this lovely girl:

would be right at home at our Junior Camp. (Ages 8-11) For that matter, most of the team would be.

You may be shocked to hear this ("Shocked, shocked to find out gambling is going on in here...")* but China is a TOTALITARIAN state. They don't follow the same rules as the rest of us. They are the successors to the USSR in more ways than one. I remember watching the East Germans and Soviets rack up the medals when I was a kid. (Okay, I'm dating myself here!) Turns out, who'd a thunk it, they were...wait for it...cheating.

You don't say.

Even if Chinese officials are telling the truth about their athletes ages (which, to my eyes, they are not) they still run a gymnastics program very different from ours. They take children, babies really, away from their families at the age of three to begin training to be world class gymnasts. These children see their parents maybe once a year. And this is not the only sport that things like this happen.

I don't know about you but I'm proud that our athletes are out there excelling and setting records without such draconian efforts. It says something good about us.

And really, the Chinese girls (I just can't bring myself to call them "women") were the best out there. They've been cheated too, in the long run. Before the rule about being 16 for the Olympics, they could have won accolades for being so young and poised. Now it will cloud them and be brought up when anyone talks about the '08 games along with the "new" scoring methods and the supposedly "cheat free" judging. (Don't even get me started.)

* Name that movie - it's one of my favorites of all time...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I'm Typing as Fast As I Can

So, I had several ideas for the blog this week. But I barely have time to read blogs, much less post on my own.

- The Olympics!
- Back to school plans!
- Doctor's appointments!
- Everything else that falls under the heading: Real Life!

I think my left pinkie got stuck on the exclamation point there for a second...

Prince Charming, creator of the soon to be published board game Revolution, is right in the thick of developing another game. And I just started working on my novel again, after a hiatus for camp that extended just a bit longer than I intended.

Needless to say, we are arm wrestling for the computer these days, despite also having the use of a lovely little laptop (courtesy of Prince Charming's brother). We both want our computer. No, we don't actually arm wrestle. We just stand at the other person's shoulder and look as pitiful as we can.

And now, my turn is over. The pointed and heavy sighs coming from just few feet away tell me so.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Worth Losing...

sleep that is. I didn't get to bed very early last night. And I can tell you why in four words:

Michael Phelps. Jason Lezak.

Seriously, did you see that race last night? I was jumping off of the couch, despite my usual Sunday fatigue. I both love and dread the Olympics every two years (Winter & Summer). I choke up when they play our national anthem. Which, I am proud to say, they do a lot. I close my eyes and can hardly bear to watch when our athletes don't achieve the results they had hoped for. I start commentating over sports I've rarely even seen before. (Yes, it is a bad habit - thinking I know everything. But the real commentators aren't much better.)

But I don't think I've been as excited as I was during that race last night for a long time. That's USA sports like they're meant to be.

Oh, and as a side note, NBC could you please, for my sake, FIX THE SOUND. Y'all are driving me batty. Thankyouverymuch.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Do Stuff You Hate

Because, in the words of Calvin and Hobbes (and Calvin's dad): "Being miserable builds character."

Today I worked outside in our jungle yard. When I could take no more of that I left Prince Charming hacking at weeds taller than our oldest child and came inside. Certain legitimate plants my have paid a high price for his weed destroying antics. But don't criticize the one who does the work, right? So (after getting dirty, itchy, and tired myself) I left him outside in his endeavors.

And then I ironed. Clothes. For an hour.

So, I can safely say that today I did two of my least favorite chores. My character is growing already. For those of you who might be tempted to comment that I'm already quite a character I say nothing. But you can imagine me sticking out my tongue at you.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

On Reading Habits

Amy, asked in a comment for this post, whether I ever quit reading something that isn't good. The short answer is: sometimes. You can stop reading this post now, if that's all you wanted to know.

Occasionally a book is just so boring or so poorly written that I cannot slog through it. I have no problem dropping a book that just doesn't "grab" me. There are too many books to read (including favorites to re-read!) and too little time for me to dedicate myself to something that isn't worth it.

However, (you knew that was coming, didn't you?) I rarely end up not finishing a book. There are several reasons for this:

1. I read so quickly that by the time I think about quitting I'm halfway through the book and I decide I might as well finish.

2. Sometimes things are so bad I enjoy regaling Prince Charming with excerpts. There's nothing like a terribly convoluted mixed metaphor or pretentious turn of phrase for laughs.

3. I rarely choose to read something that doesn't interest me at all. I'm interested by a wide spectrum of things and I choose books that reflect those interests. Sometimes I choose a book based on the cover. (Woe is me for that habit!) Sometimes I choose a book based on the author. (This is generally better than going by the cover. Until I realize that this author has only one trick up her sleeve and I've seen it five times already.) Sometimes I choose a book for no apparent reason at all, but these often turn out to be pleasant surprises. To sum up: I'm the woman in the library reading a chapter or two before taking the book home. (You can ask me to move. I tend to sit right in the stacks.)

4. I am (despite appearances to the contrary) an optimist when it comes to books. I want them to be good. I hope the writer can improve himself/herself by the end. I want to know what this deranged person that considered themselves a writer author thought up for their grand finale.

There you have it. A long-winded answer to a short question. And just wait 'til you see my novel.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Girls at Camp

Tigger is ready to swim. And she gets to ride in Aunt Princess's fancy new Scion. Hooray! If she could just get her mother to put the camera away... Polly is ready to swim too. And she has to walk with all the other campers. Down a long path. That sometimes has snakes on it. If she could just get her mother to put the camera away...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I'm Sure He Was Listening

While this incredible artist teacher drew pictures on the fly like these for class at Junior Camp:
(This is a fiery serpent. Get it?)
This incredible young man was:
But I'm sure he was listening, anyway. After all, he wasn't a camper. And counselor assistants need their beauty sleep. Right?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Books of 2008 - July

With two camps this month and a lot of other things going on it amazes me that I got any reading done at all. But I did manage and here's the list:

1. Life Class. Fiction by Pat Barker. WW1 story. Barker has a way with words but she gets caught up in pretentiousness. This story has several s** scenes that are unnecessarily graphic. This book disappointed me in several ways but I found the story hanging around in my brain for a few days after I had read it.

2. Thrilled to Death. Non-fiction by Dr. Archibald Hart. Loaned to me by my dad, who is quite the reader in his own right. I remember thinking that this book raised some good points but also that it had some quite unnecessary psycho-babble-mumbo-jumbo. Unfortunately so much has happened since I read it, I can't be more specific.

3.The Memories We Keep. Fiction by Walter Zacharius. Awful, just gut wrenchingly, mind-bendingly awful. Considering the author is a well known publisher this book ought to have been better. His heroine is bizarre and unrealistic. The situations she finds herself in are incongruous. The dialogue is MST3K bad. Avoid at all costs.

4. Mr. Knightley's Diary. Fiction by Amanda Grange. Much more enjoyable than Captain Wentworth's Diary. Several amusing parts and just as many parts that make you say "Aww" in your heart. Kinda like a Labrador puppy or something. Ms. Grange seems to stick to the script more for this book than for the Persuasion companion. And that means that I didn't have to read it thinking, "Mr. Knightly would never act that way."

5. Daddy's Gone to War. Non-fiction by William M. Tuttle, Jr. Read as research. Very in-depth book that gets a little too preoccupied with the obsessions of categorizing generations. Liberal politics are unnecessarily evident in many chapters.

6. A Woman After God's Own Heart. Non-fiction by Elizabeth George. Challenging, useful, and encouraging. I highly recommend this book to any Christian woman.

7. How Not to Write a Novel. Non-fiction by Howard Mittelmark & Sandra Newman. Amusing, tongue-in-cheek advice for writers. I read this aloud to Prince Charming while driving to drop off our daughters with their Southern set of grandparents. We both enjoyed it. (Warning: some bad language. And no, I didn't read those parts aloud!)

8. Overpaid, Oversexed, and Over Here. Non-fiction by Juliet Gardiner. Read as research. Very helpful book about American G.I's in Great Britain during WW2.

9. Art, Kids, & Christian Education. Non-fiction by Ardys Sabin. Quick read, mostly to get some ideas for our art program this homeschool year.

10. Plot & Structure. Non-fiction by James Scott Bell. Another helpful writing book. Not quite as good as his previous book in this series (Revision & Self-Editing). Still, lots of pointers and things to keep in mind. Recommended for wannabe writers like myself.

11. Greatest Secrets of the Coupon Mom. Non-fiction by Stephanie Nelson. Meh. I'm not sure I'd call these "secrets". And there were several numerical typos that aggravated me.

12. A counseling book, the title of which I will not name because it is on a very personal subject and I don't want anyone asking me who I know with this problem.

13. Austerity Britain 1945-1951. Non-fiction by David Kynaston. Read as research but also just from simple curiosity. Bogs down a bit in the middle but overall is a thorough read if you are interested in this time period. The author's political inclinations are evident but not too over powering.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Upon Reflection over Junior Camp

Note to self: Invent anti-whine spray. It would be an instant must have product. I envision this as similar to bug spray. One squirt and the little squirt before you would instantly begin speaking in rational, sweet tones and cheerfully obey.

Further note to self: You are not a 7, 9, or even 12 year old kid. You can play dodge ball and shark tag all you want. You will pay for it. You might even die. OK, you won't die but you will be mentally kicking yourself for days. Measure the cost.

Yet further note to self: staying up 'til 2:00 am talking with Kelly on the last night is a fulfilling, worthwhile, fun activity. But you will have to sleep 17 hours in a row the next day to make up for it.

Final note to self: despite these downsides camp is the best way to bond to the children of your church and enables you to minister to their hearts and not just their actions. You'll go again next year. And you will love (almost) every minute.