Tuesday, November 30, 2010

In Which Prince Charming and Tigger are Sick

Prince Charming, who never gets sick is...wait for it...sick today. Actually, without getting into the gory details, he was sick all night too. A fact my sleep deprived brain failed to register immediately. At some point in the night I managed to ask, "Are you OK?" Only to hear, "No."

Needless to say, I didn't ask for more detail at o'dark-middle-of-the-night-thirty but he regaled me (or not) with the details this morning. Good thing he had nothing planned for today.

Tigger also had a nighttime incident. Which none of us knew about until well into this morning. So, anyone have some great carpet stain removal tips for me? (All together now: Yuck!)

Tigger discovered one fact about homeschooling while sick: Mom will set you up in the living room, make you comfy, and then set up a TV tray and your math paper. Younger sisters can be relied upon to bring sharpened pencils or crayons as necessary.

Yes, I am that mother. She seems quite perked up, although enjoying staying in her cozy flannel pajamas far too much to declare herself all the way better. Anyhow, December is way too busy of a month to lose school days due to a tummy bug.

Unless I get the bug too, of course.

Monday, November 29, 2010

I Find This Excessively Diverting

H/T: Mem (my mother-in-law who does not currently blog. But she will sometime, because that's what we do)

What A Scamp

Sweet Pea moved from Gram's pew to my pew in church last night.
She cuddled up close (that was sweet).
She patted my tummy (that was less so, now that our baby is here).
She whispered to me, "Is there another baby in there?"
"No," I whispered back, removing her hand from my middle.
"It feels like there is," she insisted.

That was not sweet at all. But that's Sweet Pea.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving Blast from the Past

A song from the classic movie Holiday Inn with Bing Crosby:
"I've Got Plenty to Be Thankful For".

Bad grammar aside, it's a great song.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7
May you be abounding with thanksgiving today and all days!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Dear Lili

It's hard to believe, but you are two months old today. You're growing and changing so much. You smile at us and our crazy antics now. You try to talk to us and sometimes it sounds like you're complaining about circumstances - you always get your point across.
You still don't sleep in your bed. But you've found a new favorite place: your car seat. We snuggle you in your "magic" blanket, put you in the seat and you are out. We don't have a picture of you with your favorite blanket yet, but I'm sure we will soon because it's usually wherever you are.

We had pictures made this month. You weren't really into the whole picture taking experience. I guess you didn't understand why we had to dress you up and take you out to get pictures. Not to mention all the bright lights and nice ladies trying to get you to pose. You're really not into posing. But it doesn't matter because you're cute no matter what.
Happy Two Month Birthday, Little One!


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Weekend Reads

Homeschool families get a lot of comments. These could be good, they could be bad. Add in a few more children than the norm (whatever that is) and you're likely to get even more comments. Jamie's post "I don't have to" perfectly describes how I feel about my kids and homeschooling. (This also reminds me of what one of my childhood camp directors used to say, "No, you don't have to.You get to," to some whining camper. I still use this line every year at camp now that I'm a grown up and camp directing along with Prince Charming.)

Pastor Dad works for a local college. He could tell you some stories about the state of higher education in this country. But, just in case you haven't had a chance to talk to Pastor Dad about it, here's a frightening one I read this week. Some of those papers all the underpaid T.A's are grading? Probably not written by the students. And that's only part of the problem.

The holidays are upon us! First we have Thanksgiving, which brings me to an important question: stuffing or dressing? Somehow none of those pictures look like what my in-laws eat for Thanksgiving. We always have Thanksgiving with my in-laws. Whom I love very much, of course. The cornbread dressing they all eat...um, not so much, which is probably enough to confirm the fact that I am not a "real" southerner in everyone's mind, no matter how sweet I make my iced tea.

Then there's Christmas. Yes, denial ends now: it's coming. December 25th. Mark your calendars. And Christmas means fudge. For me, Mamaw's fudge, specifically. Those recipes aren't Mamaw's fudge, but they'll get you started. (Note: thou shalt not use rum in the making of fudge. There are three acceptable types of fudge: chocolate, blond or peanut butter. You could ask Mamaw how to make them. But she won't tell you because all her recipes are closely guarded secrets.)

Christmas also involves gift giving. Personalized presents are always a good idea.

Finally, if it seems like things are super busy, super complicated, and increasingly stressful, here's a list of 60 Ways to Make Life Simple Again.

Friday, November 19, 2010

To a Dear Friend

You served Him faithfully. You loved us well.
You've finished your race - and now you're home.

I'll meet you at the table.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Candid Favorites - Thanksgiving Edition 2

More of our favorite reads for November:

1. Over the River and Through the Wood. A Thanksgiving Poem by Lydia Maria Child. Illustrated with woodcuts by Christopher Manson. A beautiful book that's fun to read or sing.

2. Sarah Morton's Day: A Day in the Life of a Pilgrim Girl by Kate Waters. This book uses actor portrayals (through photographs) instead of illustrations. My girls enjoy looking at all the pictures though some of the dialect is a bit difficult for the younger reader (thee, perchance, "of a sudden").

3. The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh. Illustrations by Helen Sewell. A classic! We enjoy reading this over several nights as a family.

4. Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin. Nostalgia alert! Our church library had this when I was a child. I always wanted to share it with our girls but I had forgotten until this year when I happened upon it at our local library. I've never tried the recipe at the back, but if you do be sure to let me know how it is.

What are your Thanksgiving book favorites? Any classics I've forgotten?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Words for Wednesday - On Writers

A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. - Thomas Mann
Yes, it's true. Maybe this next quote can help explain why:
Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life. - Anne Lamott
Someone who wants to write (me) combined with perfectionism (me also): now that's a recipe for fun times.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Little Annoyance

Ever schedule a doctor's appointment for some symptoms that had been driving you crazy for a week, only to have those symptoms disappear the day of the appointment? That happened to me today.

I suppose I'm thankful for this, although it makes me a little crazy: I really wanted to find out what was causing the symptoms and now I'll never know. I hope. Yes, I know I contradict myself. It happens.

Meanwhile, we have plenty to keep us busy today. Life in a homeschooling family with four kids is never dull.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Weekend Reads

In our never ending quest to simplify, it's good to remember that we are Blessed By Clutter. I don't know about you, but this week has been a rough one for me. I believe I even said the words, "I'm not sure how much more of this I can take," to my long suffering husband. "This" being illness, what seems like a perpetually messy house, chronic lack of energy, needy (oh so needy) children, homeschooling, etc. etc. etc.

Yeah, some perspective (like the Blessed by Clutter post) or this post about The Dilemma Every Mother Faces goes a long way to re-setting my attitude. And a good night's sleep helps too.

If I can squeeze in some more sewing someday (it's not on the agenda these days!), these Skirt Shirts look pretty simple. And we've got lots of t-shirts to choose from around here. I suppose I need to learn to sew with elastic thread first.

Before I get to any sewing though, I think I need one of these White Chocolate Mochas. OK, I don't need it, but it sure sounds yummy.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Candid Favorites - Thanksgiving Edition 1

Books we love and read during the month of November:

1. Meet the Pilgrim Fathers by Elizabeth Payne. This one is older (written in 1966) but still available. Accessible for young readers and divided into 19 short chapters.

2.The Pilgrims Knew by Tillie S. Pine & Joseph Levine. Pictures by (the great) Ezra Jack Keats. Another old one (1957) but well worth seeking out. Our copy is an old library copy but Polly thoroughly enjoys this book.

3. Thanksgiving Day by Robert Merrill Bartlett. Illustrations by W.T. Mars. Written in 1965. We just found this one at our library this year. Accessible for the young reader. Not divided in chapters but a bit long to read in one sitting.

4. Stranded at Plimoth Plantation 1626 by Gary Bowen. Written in 1994, the vintage look woodcut illustrations are amazing. Polly found this book to be fascinating when she first read it last year. It's written diary style and mentions many real people and events.

5. Priscilla Alden and the First Thanksgiving by Alice Benjamin Boynton. Pictures by Christa Kieffer. We had to get this one when we found it at our library, since we are descended from Priscilla and John Alden (a fact Polly is quite proud of). The last sentence of this book is: "In fact, some of their descendants are living today," to which Polly and I just gleefully said, "We know!"

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day

I'm so thankful for men like my Papaw (paternal grandfather - if you take issue with that grandparent name just understand that the state of Kentucky figures prominently in my ancestry, what else can I say?) who were willing to serve the United States. My grandfather is eighty-one years old now but I have no doubt he'd go again if his country asked him to.

Then there's my brother-in-law. He's active duty Air Force, preparing for another major deployment (his second). We're so proud of him! (And I am in awe of my sister who has adapted quite well to military life and peppers her conversations with far more military acronyms than I could ever hope to memorize)

This little post doesn't even begin to cover Prince Charming's grandpas, or my uncle, or my great-uncles or my friends who have served or are serving.

I don't know about you, but November makes me a little bit introspective and a lot more aware of my blessings than usual. The men and women of our military are definitely some of those blessings.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Words for Wednesday - On Spelling

Spelling is one of the outward and visible marks of a disciplined mind. - James J. Kilpatrick
How flattering. I am - if I do say so myself - a natural speller. My brain thinks in words. I've tried to explain this to Prince Charming more than once. He doesn't get it because, apparently, he thinks in images. I don't get that either, so I guess we're OK.

Seriously though, it surprised me when he informed me that not everyone has a ticker tape rolling in their heads. Fine then. But I do. Though even it fails me sometimes. And then I ask him to confirm my spelling.
Take care that you never spell a word wrong. It produces great praise to a lady to spell well. - Thomas Jefferson (written to his daughter)
Now I have to confess that I do not use a spelling curriculum with my daughters.

Please don't take away my official homeschooler card. (Actually you can't. My papers are in and my dues are paid. So there.) I spend time (much, much time) teaching them phonics. I spend even more time reading aloud to them, making sure there are literally hundreds of books available to them in our home, encouraging them to write their own stories, to read to each other, to tell us about what they're reading.

All that to say, I know there are different schools of thought on spelling as a subject. One, of course, is that children ought to memorize list after endless list of isolated words. ("Write these ten words three times each") and then there is another school of thought that spelling is primarily a visual skill. This asks the child to visualize the word in her mind. And then there's my school of thought: if they need to spell a word, spell the word, since some folks seem to be natural spellers and some don't. By the way, vocabulary is taught in a similar fashion here at Chez Charming: as they come across a word in their reading, not isolated out of all meaning.

I reserve the right to change my mind on this in the future and implement the most intensive spelling curriculum you've ever seen. Until then, we'll muddle along. And you'll be watching this blog for any and all spelling mistakes this self-professed "Natural Speller" might make.

And just for one more view, don't forget what our seventh president thought about the subject:
It is a d**n poor mind that can think of only one way to spell a word. - Andrew Jackson

Monday, November 8, 2010

How Good Could It Be?

At the risk of being a little too transparent, a little too out there, sharing a little too much...

Well, you get the idea. This quick post may just be a little too.

I stood in line at a mega big-box store the other day. It was the quick check out. I only had one item.

The lady looked at my item, looked at me, scanned the item, placed it in a bag. I wished I could sink into the floor. Why, oh why, did this store not have u-scan? I love u-scan. (I dislike it when people who don't know how to u-scan are using u-scan but that's another story.)

"Have a nice day," the cashier said as I walked away with my purchase.

I mean, seriously, how nice could my day be when I'm buying a product with "nit" emblazoned on the box?

Yup. You know what that means. One of the charming girls and yes, only one- thank goodness, had some unwanted visitors this week. It's under control.

But I think I would have preferred sympathetic silence from that cashier instead of a cheerful "have a nice day", you know?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Recommended Reading

Intellectual:  Reflections on Property Rights, as it pertains to parenting: Brandy has some insightful commentary at her blog Afterthoughts. Don't miss the first post she wrote about this subject either.

Spiritual: Kimba's reminder about Grace Unseen was a timely reminder for me this week. This is one of those posts I wish I would have written. (small sigh)

Home Related: Leila's post about Decorating Mistakes Real People Make by Taking Design Ideas Seriously really tickled my funny bone. And it also reassured me that it's OK to be me, our tiny little house to be the house it is, and Candid Diversions to be the blog it is. I love reading Design Blogs (and yes, I just had to capitalize that) but I will never be that person.

Personal: I love this necklace Angie made. And side note for anyone who might be buying me a gift in the near future (hint, hint): I pretty much need some lowercase metal stamps just like she has. Or Amazon has a set that might work.

Yum: Pumpkin Spice White Hot Chocolate? Yes, please.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Words for Wednesday - Slightly Late Edition

You don't have the power to make people be other than who they are. You can, however, learn to be more than you've been. - Laura Schlessinger
How many of us spend our time trying to "improve" others. (You know the old joke, "I love you, you're perfect, now change.")

Imagine what our lives might look like if we took the effort on ourselves (and as a Christian, I believe the Holy Spirit is essential for this) that we spend on trying to fix others. The only person I can control is me. And I'm pretty bad at it. Guess I ought to work on that first. Unless I graduate to Rachel Lynde status. You remember Rachel Lynde, right? The nosy busy-body helpful matron from Anne of Green Gables:
There are plenty of people in Avonlea and out of it, who can attend closely to their neighbor's business by dint of neglecting their own; but Mrs. Rachel Lynde was one of those capable creatures who can manage their own concerns and those of other folks into the bargain. - L. M. Montgomery
I know Mrs. Rachel Lynde. And you (and I) are no Rachel Lynde.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Books of 2010 - October

October was not a big reading month for me. Here's the list, such as it is:

1. Heading Home with Your Newborn. Non-fiction by Laura A. Jana MD & Jennifer Shu M. A little refresher course for me since I've "headed home" with three previous newborns.

2. The Book of Awesome. Non-fiction by Neil Pasricha. Books based on blogs? Awesome! Or, anyway, it would be if anyone ever offered me a book deal based on my blog. Not gonna happen.

3.Baby 411. Non-fiction by Denise Fields & Ari Brown, MD. Yet another "refresher course" for me. This book is very helpful. For instance, did you know that doctors don't use the term low grade to describe a fever. Either you have a fever or you don't. I suspect that all the grandmas that read this blog (you know who you are) would be appalled by some of the advice in this book. For the rest of you (and I assume that you also know who you are), it's very practical and I recommend it.

4. The Pioneer Lady's Hearty Winter Cookbook. Non-fiction by Jane Watson Hopping. I saw these books recommended over at The Little Nest blog. Part memoir, part cookbook, part recipe fueled trip down memory lane. Charming and the food sounds yummy.

5. The Gathering Storm. Fiction by Bodie & Brock Thoene. This used to be my favorite Christian fiction writing team. I still regularly re-read the Zion Covenant series of books. However, there are several drawbacks to this book. One: Bodie Thoene has become increasingly mystic in her spirituality, giving ancient Jewish fables or traditions equal weight with the Bible. This, for obvious reasons, does not sit well with me. Two, and this one isn't her fault: the cover of this book is atrocious. I don't know who the canoodling couple on the cover are supposed to be but they cannot be characters from the story. Three: it feels like the Thoenes are trying desperately to re-capture the old magic of some of their earlier efforts. And it isn't working. YMMV.

6. How to Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor. Non-fiction by Robert Mendelsohn MD. I get the sense that this was a very controversial book back in its day (1984). However, many of the problems he discusses are no longer problems (including such things as newborns being whisked off to hospital nurseries, bathed in caustic soap and fed formula) and some of his points I just flat out disagree with. I do like how he discouraged running to the doctor every time the child has a fever or sore throat and he actually didn't like the habit of once yearly well child check-ups either (describing them as neither necessary nor desirable).

7. 1939: Countdown to War. Non-fiction by Richard Overy. This little book (only 124 pages) is an adequate introduction to Overy's distinguished work. He is one of my favorite WW2 historians, if not the favorite. If you're at all curious about the Second World War you must read his work. Seriously.

Sigh - only seven books. And way heavy on parenting / medical advice. Enough of that! I hope November is a better and more varied reading month.

Non-fiction: 6
Fiction: 1
Dickens completed: none (another sigh)

I am linking this post to Life as Mom's Booking It!