Monthly Archives: October 2012


In blogging years, I sometimes feel like a dinosaur.
I’ll occasionally look back at my archives and realize that when I started blogging, Carter was a baby.
When I moved from my old space to this one, Lydia was a baby.
And I get sucked into reading old post after old post, most of them dreadfully detailed and poorly written.
I’ll read something and it won’t seem like that long ago, but I do the math and realize it was 3 or 4 or even 5 years ago.
I’ve logged a lot of miles on this crazy internet adventure.
Anyway, in one of my recent nostalgia/read-old-posts moments, I stumbled upon this post.  (Go read it. Really.)
Even though I’m pretty embarrassed by that whole post, I want to point out that I told you then he‘d be big.
One listen to his golden voice and I just knew it.
See? My eyes say it all in this picture taken at a party in Chicago back in 2009.

And now? He’s all famous and stuff.
No, really! You may recognize him as one of the Warblers on Glee or, more likely, from The Voice.
He wowed the entire country with a new and different sound, and I am so excited for all of his recent success.

I was thrilled to see Chris face-to-face again this past February at Blissdom in Nashville.
The Voice producers were kind enough to let him slip away long enough to serenade a room full of his biggest fans.

Since finishing The Voice, Chris has been hard at work creating two new albums: “Home for Christmas” and “Roads”.
The new album “Roads” (which debuted yesterday) is a unique, beautiful assortment of songs.

“Roads”, the single, is a gorgeous song with words that will resonate with anyone who has taken the long way to get to where you are today. You can hear it in the background of this video as Chris talks. He is indeed bringing classy back.

When his EP came out several years ago I was sad that “On A Night Like This” wasn’t included, so I was especially glad to see it included on this one! This album really does have a taste of everything: fun songs, sweet melodies, classical refrains, standard classics, and more.

You can find “Roads” on iTunes or Amazon right now, and I promise you it’ll stay in your favorites rotation for a while!

I’d say these nice things even if I weren’t in his first music video(*snort*) and even if I hadn’t been provided a free copy of his album through the One2One Network.


First and Last

I look up and see that she’s sitting with friends, girls a year or two her senior, instead of her brother.
It doesn’t seem to bother him, and I am glad that she’s stepped out on her own.
Her friend says something and she laughs.
Not a big laugh, but the smile-shrug thing she does when she’s almost comfortable with someone.
I am grateful for these girls, the ones who are including her and making her feel a part of something good.
I worry about her.
(I shouldn’t but I do.)
She is so vibrant and vivacious at home.
But it’s hard for her when she steps into the unknown.

As the music begins, she walks up front with the other girls behind her and sits lady-like on the steps.
I’m not surprised that she went, but that she led the way.
And they hear God’s word spoken just for them in their own words and they stand to leave.
All of them.
Even my girl – the one who has always been to skittish to go.

From the choir, I watch her walk out, eyeing the others to make sure she’s doing it right.
And we bring up our songbooks and the music begins to play and I choke back emotions.
Oh, how silly I am, I think.
But really, honestly…I am proud of her.
It seems like such a little thing.
(But it’s not.)

Our song done, we slip out of the loft and into pews.
And I find myself sitting alone for the first time in many, many services.
I am proud of her, happy for her…but I miss her already.
I am overly aware lately of just how much I love them.
And how I miss their little faces and big voices when we are apart, even if for only a short while.

Exactly when, I wonder, did I become such a tearful sap?
Probably when I realized just how fast it all flies by.
You hear it, and you know it…but there is a point when it just settles in and your soul finally understands head and heart.
There is a point when the big things become little and the little things big.
When you realize that this moment
~ this one right here ~
is more monumental in its simplicity than the greatest moments in human history.

Today wasn’t the first last time nor the last first time she will leave me,
but it is none-the-less a moment that shook my soul and made my eyes a bit leaky.
I think of how last week she looked up and whispered rub my back, not quite a statement or question,
And she nestled in like a kitten and closed her eyes and smiled.
And I can feel my hand on her skin in that little space between the button and the fabric loop in the pink princess dress.
I’d done it a thousand times, and yet something in me said “Memorize this.”
I’m so glad I did.


I let them take the lead on Friday, choosing what we’d do and when.
It was fun to not be in charge for a change.

We had doughnuts for breakfast twice this weekend.
We played on the playground and made crafts and played outside.


We stayed up late twice, one night with a bonfire and the other with a living room campout.
And the moon was gorgeous both nights, and on Friday night we learned about Capella, which looks like one star but is really 4.


My brother cooked dinner, which is always delightful, and we celebrated my dad’s birthday.

We went to the pumpkin patch and the corn maze.

And rode on a hay ride and ate KeBa, the best sandwich I’ve ever eaten.

We worshiped at church and sang songs on the way home, even Marshall.
Some read books. Some napped. Some did both.
A tooth or two was wiggled and I got a new car.
Like a brand new one.
And now there’s no worry about weird car noises and a steering wheel that won’t always turn.

Oh, if I could live this weekend on rewind.
(But I’d need another nap!)

Nothing That Is Something

I want to be your friend, to love and support you…but I’m not sure how.
You want me to ask? Or pretend it’s not here?
I will do either, but I’m here to tell you that saying it out loud feels good.
In a safe place, pour out your words…even if the very words you’re saying come out all wrong
or don’t make sense
or are full of vitriol.
Just get them out.
They won’t all be gone,
but we won’t be gone either.
We understand.
We know how sometimes it all seems like too much and your brain is broken
and that breaks your heart and yet still somehow, it doesn’t even hurt.
Or maybe it hurts so much that you don’t feel a thing.
Either way, you end up apathetic and not quite sure where to go or what to do
and you look for any thing that will fix it and nothing works and it hurts but it doesn’t
and in realizing that it doesn’t hurt but that it should, you just.feel.numb.
And you know that no matter how empty and numb and awkward you feel,
you just have to keep pushing through.
Because that’s what we’re supposed to do;
It’s what we are taught to do, told to do.

/full stop/

But nobody ever told you how to do.
And so you try to fake it ’til you make it and mostly it works
but there are some souls who can hear your hurts, your hidden painless pain.
And they will come to you, and they say “I know this, this nothing that is something”.
And in acknowledging it, the nothing falls away and you have something.
And you work together on conquering the something,
even if the teamwork is nothing but silent prayers.

If you listen, if you really listen, your heart will hear the hearts of those other souls, the ones that know and those whispers…
They will hold you up when you feel like falling.
They will pick you up when you hit the bottom.
And they’ll help brush you off and they’ll hold your heart in theirs.
(If you just trust them.)

Or maybe that’s just me.

10 Things That Make Homeschool Hard

Yesterday I wrote about the things we love about homeschool, but I can assure you that it’s not all sunshine and roses around here. Here are some of the struggles that we’ve met so far:

1. Other people – From the very first moment I publicly admitted that I was thinking of homeschooling, I was met with a barrage of opinions – some positive, some negative and it seemed like the negative ones were/are really negative. There were, honestly, some people who I knew would disagree with our choice, but were still people I genuinely admire and care about and so I sought them out to hear what they had to say. For various reasons, I trusted that what they would say and that they would say it in a fair and kind way. And that’s exactly what happened with those specific people. But there were still a lot of people who offered their unrequested opinion and for the most part,  they were/are very bold in stating their disapproval. I can certainly see why so many homeschooling families are defensive. (And to answer the ever-present question: No, I don’t worry about socialization.)
(I must also say that our extended family has been very, very supportive, which I think is a big part of our success.)

2. The littles – The little kiddos have a very hard time understanding that the bigs are at home, but not available. I have special toys and books that are only for school time, and that holds their interest sometimes. I occasionally let them watch a special show on TV while I work with the big two. Sometimes I give them snacks to distract them. But trying to let them play together? Bah! Those two are like oil and water! There are many days when I feel like I’m a referee I have discovered, however, that if I let them play together for a short period of time and split them up before the bickering starts, I can keep them content for longer. When I split them up, I let them play independently in their rooms. That took some getting used to, especially for the baby who is convinced that our whole family was created to serve her. 🙂

3. Too much togetherness – My children are al.ways.with me. There is both good and bad here. I love being around to experience so much with them. I love watching them learn. I love that there are spontaneous cuddle sessions. But I also struggle with just wanting a few minutes to myself or not being touched all.the.time. Oh. And it’d be nice to pee alone at least once a day.

4. Balance – I think this must be parenting’s hardest facet. Trying to figure out how much to expect of them and how much to expect of me. Trying to decide at what point you stop school and just play. Trying to pick between things that need to be done and things you want to do. It really is every parent’s problem, I know. But sometimes it seems even bigger when we’re all here all the time. Like laundry and dishes and such. You’d think that with all of us here all day long, we’d eventually get the clothes put away. Not so much. But we’re trying. And it’s better than it used to be.

5. Organization – It takes a fair amount of planning and organization to keep things running smoothly for us. That may not be true for all homeschool families, but I know without a daily agenda, we’d just ramble through the day. I have roller carts for each student and their binders and books and papers are stacked up in the order that they’ll need them. The dry erase board has everyone’s daily To Do list and we check off one thing at a time. But that means that I always have to be one step ahead of them, and given my personality that sometimes means I’m getting tomorrow’s lessons prepped at 2am. I tried doing it as a batch on Sunday night, but taking it day-by-day has worked out so much better for us.

6. Worry – I worry, worry, worry about missing something. What if I don’t teach something critical? What if I teach something incorrectly? What if this whole homeschool thing ends up hurting them academically in the future? What if? What if? What if? Luckily Marshall is the master un-what-if-er, and he usually talks me down off the ledge when I get frustrated and/or weepy. He’s good like that.

7. Screen time – I’ve always been a bit of a stickler for limiting screen time at home. When they are with friends or grandparents or babysitters I don’t worry about it, but at home I like to keep control of the remote, iPods, and iPad. But with so much school work being online and extra games and learning tools online, I’ve really had to loosen up about it. I’ve had to be careful to not go the other way, actually! When they sit down and start playing a game (even an educational one), I tend to lose track of time and it’s bad for everyone. And I begin to justify it as ‘learning’ when really I’m just enjoying the down time. (I’m not saying all screen time is bad, but trying to figure out how much of what is still hard for me.)

8. Struggles – The hardest part to me so far is when they don’t get it, when they don’t understand. When I feel like I’ve explained it every way I know how and we’re still getting no where. It’s hard for me to not get frustrated with myself. It’s hard for me to not get frustrated with them. It’s just no fun. It has honestly only happened a few times, but when I see that blank stare coming back at me, I know we’ve got to back up and re-think it. And whew! That can wear a momma out!

Okay, okay…I’ve been thinking for a long time and I simply cannot come up with two more things. I’m sure there are other things that came up and I forgot about or will come up later, but we are all loving homeschool so much that the negatives don’t even come onto our radar. Sure, there are days that I wonder if I’m doing the right thing. And there are days that I think “Good LORD, what have I done?” And there are days when I just want to slam the book shut and walk away. But you know what? When that happens, we have the flexibility to close the book and go outside and play or change subjects or read or sing or have a dance party or make cookies or whatever we want to do and we do it and things seem a little better. And if we still aren’t at a place where I feel like we can get back to our studies, we just hit pause until the next day.

So homeschool isn’t perfect, but it’s perfect for us. And I’m not sure how long it will last, but I’m sure that the things we’re learning and the memories we’re making will last a lifetime. And that, friends? Is what my heart-gut dreamed of all along.

10 Things We Love About Homeschool

1. Daily flexibility – We start when we start and finish when we finish. We often will do morning work, eat lunch and take a big break (and sometimes a nap), and then finish our school day well after traditional school hours. And if we don’t finish everything today, we’ll catch up tomorrow. We’ve actually structured our weeks so that Friday is a catch-all day. Anything that we’re behind on or anything we missed gets done on Friday. If we get all of our work done by Thursday night, Friday is a completely lazy-daisy day! (Those are my favorites!)

2. Overall flexibility – We need a day off? We take a day off.  An opportunity pops up to take a trip or visit someone? We can do it. We have time to do a project with Daddy on the weekend? We can count that towards our learning hours, too! I was able to take special trips with each of the big kids that never would have worked if we’d been in a traditional school setting.

3. Pace – Carter is in 2nd grade. Lydia is in 1st. Both of them are ahead of schedule for at least one subject. Once they finish all their grade-level work, they can go ahead and start on the  next level!

4. Fund Raisers – None! I don’t have to feel guilty about asking people to buy overpriced stuff that none of us really need anyway.

5. School Politics – There are certainly things I care about (see also: Amendment 1) because I believe that public education is very important and the best option for many, many children, and I imagine that we will re-enter the brick-and-mortar public school system at some point, BUT that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the nyey-nyeying and blah-blah-blah that goes on locally. We are zoned for a great school (which we loved) and a nice district, but still…there are always things that make you want to beat your head against the wall.

6. Variety – We aren’t chained to one location. We have been known to pack up all our stuff and do school at the playground or park. We use mundane chores (like grocery shopping or even cleaning the house) as learning opportunities. Twice now we’ve been in the middle of studying something and I realize I’m not explaining it well and we hop in the car and go on a field trip.

7. Family time – When my kids were in a traditional school setting, mornings were horrible. Lots of crying and whining and complaining. Lots and lots. From them and me. Our mornings now aren’t perfect (I’m SO not a morning person), but I can’t remember the last time there was an all-out morning meltdown. (Those were fairly common for my sleep-loving Lydia the past few years.) And then afternoon pick up would often interfere with naps and everyone would be tired and grumpy. When they’d come in, I’d want them to start on homework; they would just want to play. And I’d have an internal debate about giving them a break after a long day at school versus having to do homework later in the evening. And then by the time it was time to make dinner, we were all grouchy and miserable because either I’d pushed them to do homework and they were dragging it out or I’d let them have the break and now struggled to get them started. Blech! Now our afternoons and evenings are a lot smoother and more comfortable. When Marshall gets home, I’m not (as often) frustrated and haggled as I have been known to be. (There are still moments, I assure you! But overall it is much, much better!)

8. Pants optional. (You knew I had to mention that, right? Because it’s totally awesome!)

9. Nap Time (or Quiet Time) – If we need it, we take it. The big kids rarely need to take naps, but I do! 🙂 We most often use that time for reading. Sometimes the little kids and I nap while they read. Sometimes the littles nap while we read together. Sometimes I get things done around the house while they read aloud to me. I’ve discovered that a little downtime in the middle of the day does wonders for what we manage to get accomplished in the afternoon!
Same subject, different thought process: If the littles are sleeping, I don’t have to wake them up to go get in car-rider-pick-up line. That is a HUGE blessing!

10. No homework!

Progress Report

When we started our home(virtual)school journey, I was excited but trepidatious. The ‘what ifs’ shackled me to traditional brick-and-mortar school. I was so worried that I’d miss something important, or completely fail at teaching them – especially math!

What I discovered was that teaching the things that I’m good at is much harder than teaching the subjects that I struggle with. Helping with math, I find myself learning new and better ways to do mental calculations. It sounds silly, but I’ve learned to not use my fingers with basic math facts, something I surely should have learned long ago. But it wasn’t hard to teach because I was only a step or two ahead of them. I learned it and then I taught it. Kinda fun, actually!

Writing, however, GAH! They both have a fine understanding of verbs, nouns, and sentence structure, but putting it all together in one nice package? I found myself getting frustrated with explaining why you write things in a certain order. “They’ve never done this,” I reminded myself every few minutes. So this has been the hardest part so far, this going back to the basics and trying to remember that it’s not something everyone knows. Almost like when someone asks me a question about photography. If you have a camera and you only use it on Auto and then you ask me a question about the other settings, it won’t do me much good to start talking about ISO and f-stops.  You’ll look at me, glassy-eyed, and maybe even nod…but you have no idea what I’m saying. I’m the same way when people talk to me about economics.

I’ve also discovered that the teaching aspect is most certainly not the hardest part. Neither is the organization of it all. Or the scheduling. The hardest part (by far) is keeping the little two entertained while we work. It is hard for them to understand (especially the baby) that while the big kids are at home, they can’t play right now. But they have special school-time toys, which help sometimes. And sometimes they play well together, but not always. There has been more than one occasion where I had to put them each in their own rooms and close the door. Those two are something else, I tell you! Theirs is certainly a love-hate relationship.

But I can say with complete certainty that this has been a good experience for all of us. Our days have more laughter than stress, which I was worried about initially. The curriculum is well-designed and easy-to-use. The teacher support and online learning opportunities are top notch. The school provides lots of chances to meet other home(virtual)school families and socialize with them. I’m getting to be witness to a lot of exciting moments when my kids “get it” and we all cheer and dance. Most importantly, though, is that the kids really, really seem to love it.  They talk and write about it a lot, and it’s not uncommon for them to play homeschool long after our school day is over. I love watching them teach the little kids. They taught Asa some math and then gave him an assessment while I was away last weekend. 🙂

So, yeah, things are going well. Really well. And I think we’ve all found our footing and are enjoying the ride. But I honestly don’t think I could have made this transition as easily as we have without a lot of prayers and love and support. Big thanks to those of you who encouraged us to take this leap, for those of you who have prayed us on, and for those who have held my hand (and my heart) when I was afraid of messing up.

If you’re more interested in our homeschool journey, be sure to check back here on Wednesday and Thursday. Tomorrow I’ll be posting some specifics of the things we love about homeschool, and on Thursday you can read about some of our homeschool struggles (or at least the things that are less-than-awesome).

Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

My dog is old and peeing on the floor all the time and I hate the smell of it and the cleaning it up and the grossness of it, but I hate the idea of what comes next even more.

The other dog runs away any time you let her out and so we keep her closed up in our room. Sometimes she makes a nest on my bed(which is so not okay with me), but most of the time she makes these ridiculous guttural noises that sound like a dying cow.

Also, my 3 year old is in full 3yo mode today and it makes me want to scream. But if I scream I will be doing exactly what he is doing and I’m supposed to be the grown up here. Sometimes being a grown up sucks. Except when I want ice cream at 2am and no one tells me no. Then it’s not so bad. It’s also pretty great when I don’t have to have anyone help me with basic hygiene like brushing my teeth and wiping my own ass.

We wash clothes non-stop and yet can never manage to get all the laundry done at once, which is frustrating to no end. The same is true for clean bathrooms. And dishes. Sometimes I wish I had a magical fairy in my pocket that I could take out and shake a few times and wherever her fairy dust landed, it would be clean. Okay, I wish that all the time.

My car is making a weird noise, even though I just had it serviced. And it’s not the taking it in that bothers me, it’s the fact that they don’t have a rental car large enough for us to use and so we’re stuck in the waiting room, which is also not large enough for us.

Oh, and an ant bit my pinkie toe and it itches like wild.

I feel like Alexander and I’m annoyed that not everyone will get that reference.
It should be required reading.
Even in Austrailia.

Growing Pains

I’ve been struggling lately with just where exactly I fit.
It’s not quite an existential crisis, but maybe a mini one.
I do this periodically, like a snake shedding its skin.
Not that I’m a snake, or all that snakes symbolize in life and literature…
But in that my skin gets too tight and uncomfortable and I must wiggle free.
And what do I leave behind?
Ideas, emotions, beliefs even.

When I look at the compartments of my life I’m very happy in most of them.
I am soverymuch in love with homeschool.
So much so that I get weepy when I think of all the opportunities it has brought to our life, our days.
Marshall and I are at a place that’s a bit beyond comfortable and yet not mundane.
I’m working on crafts for Christmas and that satisfies a host of creative desires.
My real, true friendships – though fewer than I ever thought I’d have – are strong and meaningful.

But my house feels too big and my car feels too cumbersome.
I might not like my clothes, but my closet is bursting with color (and black).
(There is always lots of black).
I have dishes I never use and lamps I never turn on.
Two of them don’t even have lightbulbs.
And I wonder, if I will hold back a simple lamp from fulfilling its purpose, who else am I holding back?
They sit there, not even having the basics of what they need, something I could provide with a few dollars and yet.I.dont.
Maybe I’m over-thinking things.

But still I can’t quite seem to balance needs and wants, something I thought I’d have figured out by now.
And I sit here in clean clothes drinking filtered water and eating organic carrots.
And I just feel like my skin doesn’t fit, that something something just isn’t right,
though I can’t tell you exactly what that something is.
I do know that right now, in this moment, world seems so big and the hurt so palpable.
And I feel so small and helpless.

Tooth Fairy Troubles

**I know I promised Carter that I would let him read my blog, but I’ve done everything I can to make sure he doesn’t see this page.  I almost didn’t share this at all because I was afraid he’d see it, but it’s something I want to remember and I think you’ll enjoy. So shhhh….don’t tell him you saw this, okay?**

I was away this weekend and I knew that Carter had a pretty loose tooth, so when Marshall sent me a text to let me know he’d lost one I thought I knew which one it was.  But…I was wrong. The tooth that came out wasn’t the one that was loose.  The tooth that came out was the one that my brother helped knock loose with a frisbee. Oops! It didn’t fall out right away, but it bled a bit and then didn’t seem to bother him any more. The next morning he was talking to my mom and whoops, out it came.

As he got ready for bed he told me that he wanted to leave a note with a question for the Tooth Fairy.
I didn’t think a thing about it until I went in his room later that night.
Here’s his note:

A quick Google search found some interesting (um…odd)(and somewhat amusing) ideas such as
“She grinds them up and mixes it with glitter to make fairy dust.”
But that seemed a little too much and so I turned to Facebook and Instagram for help, and you guys are smart.
Several people suggested that she builds something with them(her castle, streets in her town, etc.).
Some people said she saves them for babies.
Monica informed me that whaddayaknow…the Tooth Fairy has a website to answer all kinds of Tooth Fairy questions
Nancy cracked me up when she said that she will “make miniature pianos for the Keebler elves.”  Hahaha!
Sarah said that she puts them in spray paint cans and that’s what you hear when you shake the cans.
At one point, I thought I’d found a winning idea from @OnMyPlate:
“Throw them into the sky to become bright stars. That’s why you should always brush and floss so your teeth sparkle.”
But Marshall and I talked about it and decided that Mr. How the Universe Works would see through that.
Marshall suggested to just say she uses them for research, but that seemed so boooring.
Finally Marshall went to bed with a sigh, wondering why I was fretting over this so.

Here’s what I finally went with:

My thought was that Mr. Analytical would find any loophole I left in the answer.
But my other thought was this: if I’m always providing answers for him, he won’t search for answers on his own.
If I always tell him things, I steal his joy of discovering things.
If I always give him every detail, there won’t be room for him to dream, to imagine.
Maybe I’m over thinking this.    Or maybe I’m not.
I just know that with an imagination like his, I want to do my best to leave it unbridled for as long as I can.