Friday, November 28, 2008


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


Considering I loathe (despise, hate, etc. I could go on) actually playing this game.

You Are Scrabble

You are incredibly clever and witty. You can talk your way out of (and into) situations easily.

You are an excellent decision maker. You are good at weighing the options in front of you.

You're the type of person who can make something out of nothing. You are very resourceful.

You know a lot of things. Most importantly, you know when people are wrong - even when they won't admit it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Just Say "Cheesy"

Yes, we torture our children by taking their pictures.
O.K, it was pretty cold out there.
But is that any reason why they can't open their eyes at the same time?

I was starting to think we should have paid the big bucks for some falsely cheerful photographer to provoke plasticine smiles from my two oldest and to confine my youngest to one spot (the real challenge). We did get a few pictures better than these. (How could they not be?) Many of you will receive those in the mail in the coming weeks.

I think these are more fun.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Turned My Back for Five Seconds

Subtitle: Those warnings? They're there for a reason.

You know those warnings on toothpaste tubes about not eating it? They aren't kidding. Ask me how I know.

Now might be a good time to tell you that those of you who are faint of heart (men), might want to go read another blog now. I figure you moms can take it.

So last night, in the midst of all the jammies being put on, stories being read, drinks of water being given, toys being put other words, the 57,268 things that must be done before this house is quiet the children are asleep, someone wasn't where she was supposed to be. Worse, everyone thought someone else was watching her. And someone, not to name names (OK, it was Tigger), left the kid toothpaste on the bathroom counter with the lid off.

Someone took full advantage of this perfect opportunity (distracted parents, dark bathroom, closed door) to squeeze out as much of that toothpaste as she wanted. Except we didn't realize that is what she did. (I'll take my bad parent of the year award now.)

Again, they are not kidding when they tell you not to eat this stuff. So last night, while Prince Charming and I are watching a movie, the youngest member of our household begins crying. Since I am snuggled under my favorite blanket with a mug of hot cocoa, He answers the cry. He covers her back up, but otherwise does nothing, sees nothing amiss, doesn't call me.

Big mistake.

This morning the older girls began yelling about sticky blue stuff all over Sweet Pea, her pillow, her blankets, and her pajamas. That would be sticky blue toothpaste vomit. (I warned you this was not for the faint of heart.)

Prince Charming, being the hero (albeit often oblivious) that he is, swept the babe into the tub, stripped her bed, and generally handled most of it. All I'm left with is the massive amount of laundry and a toddler who wants to snuggle constantly. And, let me just say, despite the bath, she does not smell entirely pleasant. I predict another bath in her very near future.

And much more direct adult supervision during the bedtime routine, for the foreseeable future. Like, until she's eighteen.

Monday, November 17, 2008

In Which I Should Be Doing Something Else

There's lots to do today: library, grocery store, school work, laundry. Yes, I could go on.

But it's cold and windy and my nose is drip, drip, dripping so much that all I want to do is curl up on the couch under my favorite blanket and take a nap.

Oh, wait, I already did that. Remember that old adage, "Sleep when the baby sleeps?" It isn't just for mothers of newborns.

So I am now awake, with children that need mothered, and my nose is still dripping and my head hurts and I feel a bit more rested but still very cold, and...all those things at the top of the page still need to be done.

Well, except the library one. It may help you understand our family's priorities if you realize that we may be eating eggs for supper tonight and goodness knows what for breakfast and lunch tomorrow, but we are well stocked with books.

Maybe we'll all curl up under blankets and read. Except for Sweet Pea, of course. She'll be busy dismantling the entire house. Oh, wait again, that has already happened today. In cirumstances like these, one does well to emulate Scarlett O'Hara. Tomorrow really is another day. Therefore today can be spent reading and drinking cocoa, if we can just find a way to contain that 18 month old bundle of perpetual motion we call our youngest daughter.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Girl Fun

Last week we had several, "Unseasonably warm days for November," to quote Miss Polly directly. Yes, Polly believes that the more syllables, the better the word. From whence came that idea? I'm sure I don't know.

Anyhow, thanks to these lovely days, Prince Charming took it upon himself to take some pictures of the girls playing outside. And, because he is their father and not their mother, he didn't brush their hair, or wash their faces, or anything else, really. We should be thankful they all had clothes on, I suppose.

Note their leaf pile:
They raked that together themselves. Then Polly informed me that I owed her $10 for all that work. Suffice it to say: no deal.

Polly, no doubt contemplating how to be paid for raking a girl size pile of leaves. Too bad her parents are so cheap frugal. This girl has an idea a minute. And she talks faster than she can think, sometimes. She is, quite simply, brilliant. We only hope we can keep up.

Tigger, with peanut butter from lunch still on her nose. No, she is not always this serene. She's nicknamed "Tigger" for a reason, you know. For instance, she came in one evening (socks and shoes on) and announced that her feet were really dirty and needed washed. I didn't understand how that could be true since her feet had been covered all day (ah, the naivete of parenthood). She removed her shoes and socks to produce the dirtiest feet I have ever seen on a four year old. She had taken off her shoes and socks, filled the socks with dirt, and then, put them back on.

Also, it has to be said, Prince Charming and I call this child "Gollum" sometimes. (Not to her face, naturally.) She can be sweet but not two seconds later screaming this blood curdling scream of defiance that chills you in every parenting bone in your body. We're hoping it's a phase. (That last desperate illusion of parenting. "It's just a phase.")

My little Sweet Pea. She may get a new blog name soon. Something along the lines of "Buster" or "Little Miss Into Everything". She's 18 months going on 5 years old. She rules the roost, or tries to. She knows just enough signs and words to get her point across. How she feels about cameras: indifferent. How she feels about dirt: wonderful stuff! Tastes great! Feels great on your feet! And please, do try the leaves as well.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Then Again, Maybe Not

Well, my blogging fast turned out to be shorter than I intended. First, after the first few days, I just couldn't avoid turning on the computer. I know: excuses, excuses. But I had to check my email because of certain outside obligations. And I can't check my email without popping over to my blog. Right? Sure.

Second, my husband has convinced me that I am not being a hypocrite by blogging again. My fear of this possible hypocrisy comes for several reasons including the fact I don't think I can be completely open using this medium any more. After all, people I actually know (some of whom I actually like, ahem) read this little blog. The real me is angry and annoyed and conflicted right now. And that doesn't make for good blog reading. Which led to this conversation between my beloved and myself:

Me: I just don't think I can be candid any more.
Him: So?
Me: SO?! It's in the title of my blog. Candid Diversions. I promise to be candid, right there in my blog header.
Him: So? The only one setting such a high standard for yourself is you. No one else cares.

This is one reason (among 67,598,231, rough estimate) why I love this boy man. Thanks to him I have come to the conclusion that the title word "Candid" does not mean "Transparent". You may have already understood that little fact. Just because you meet the blog me does not mean you have met the real me. And, even if you know me in real life (side note: I find such a distinction increasingly meaningless) you still don't know the real me. But you might could bribe Prince Charming into sharing a few glimpses. No one knows me like he does. And yet he seems quite happy. Puzzler, that.

Yes, I will be blogging. And yes, despite not reading any news blogs, news sites, commentary, or the like for over a week and in the foreseeable future, I'll probably have a few negative things to say about this country we live in. Here's one for free: We, as a misguided self-absorbed people, have wholeheartedly embraced Socialism. Signed, sealed, and soon to be delivered. Just write "Ichabod" on all official documents now and be done with it. (1 Samuel 4:21-22, just in case you missed that Sunday School lesson).

Sorry, got a bit distracted there. Maybe I'd better stick to cute pictures of my girls for the next few posts. Fortunately, we have those in abundance.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

That's All She Wrote

I have overestimated my abilities in a lot of areas. Therefore, blogging is going on the d.l. for awhile.

You can catch me via email, if you wish, but no promises. I'm seriously considering giving up all computer related activities until I get some stuff figured out. Maybe I'll re-enter the 21st century after some time away, maybe not. Either way, as Marilla would say, "The sun will go on rising and setting."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Doing My Part

Yes, I voted. No, I don't really want to talk about it.

I'm doing a media fast (of sorts) today. Not visiting political websites, blogs, news sites, etc. Not turning on the television (nothing new about that, we never watch).

I'm becoming increasingly fatalist about this whole thing. Which isn't good. Hence the semi-avoidance of all news good or bad.

Catch you on the flip side. Unless I'm bedridden with grief.

Just kidding. I hope.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Tossed Salads and Orange Soups

Well, despite its beautiful color: the pumpkin soup was only a mixed success. Mixed in that two of us thought it was all right (Tigger, me), one of us loved it (Sweet Pea), and two didn't like it (Prince Charming, Polly). I must say that of the two that didn't like it, only one wept, wailed and gnashed her teeth, almost losing out on some pretty fun activities. Quite a scene here at the Charming Household, from someone who is usually not a scene maker.

But I did get to use my beautiful cookie cutter:

To make these adorable dough leaves (this is about 1/3 of how many I made):

We did all enjoy the salad and leaf cut-outs. And the table was nicely decorated. But I seriously doubt we'll be having pumpkin soup again any time soon. Or, you know, ever.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Books of 2008 - October

1. Poetry as Spiritual Practice. Non-fiction by Robert McDowell. Poetry is becoming more important to me as I grow older. This book had a lot of writing prompts, none of which I used. It was written from a perspective very different from my own (the author is practicing Buddhist) but several ideas from this book resonated with me.

2. The Importance of Being Married. Fiction by Gemma Townley. Brit-Chic-Lit (my favorite). Frothy, fun, and less exasperating than many such heroines (Bridget Jones, Becky Bloomwood...)

3. Les Miserables. Fiction by Victor Hugo. This took me about a month, on and off, to read. Did I mention it was unabridged? Well worth the time. Many of Hugo's diversions from the plot were extremely interesting (the section on Waterloo) but some were not (the section on Argot). Jean Valjean, Cosetee, Marius, everyone really - they all became real to me. So much better than the Liam Niesen movie (which is my only previous encounter with this story).

4. Kick the Clutter. Non-fiction by Ellen Phillips. I like a good organizing book to keep me on my toes. This is huge but not the best I've ever read. Some good ideas. More a book to flip through than to read.

5. Juicy Pens Thirsty Paper. By SARK (Susan Kennedy). Beautiful, inspiring, quirky, funny, crazy, & thought provoking. Recommended for anyone who wants to be more creative or is stuck with "writers block."

6. Books: A Memoir. Non-fiction by Larry McMurtry. I may have mentioned before that I love books about books and reading about reading. This book is less about reading books and more about Mr. McMurtry's life selling books, collecting books, & the book selling business. Fascinating stuff. As much as I love books, I had not truly realized there is a whole world built around them like this.

7. Decades of Beauty. Non-fiction by Kate Mulvey & Melissa Richards. A British fashion book covering the 1890's -1990's. Gorgeous pictures. Read as research and also because it's an interesting topic.

8. Inkheart. Fiction by Cornelia Funke. German fantasy about reading and the worlds created by books. A little slow, maybe, but worth it overall. I'm reading the second book now, have the third book waiting on my end table, and am somewhat interested in the new movie.

9. The Only 127 Things You Need. Non-fiction by Donna Wilkinson. Here's a hint: you don't need this book.

10. Mood Tides. Non-fiction by Ronald Horton. My dad lent me this book. Highly recommended. This is basically a collection of essays on living like Christ while dealing with all human emotions and feelings. Very thoughtful. Easy to read, but there are deep things to contemplate. Just this sentence, "The Master knew not only the stars by name", gave me lots to think about. God knows my name. He really knows me. And He chose me! Reading something like that will put a lot of things in perspective, if you really think about it.