Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bossy Chefs

My husband and I are followers by nature, but somehow we're managing to raise two leaders. They both want to be in charge when they play together, and they're constantly jockeying for position.

They've been watching cooking shows with me on Food Network (my favorite channel), and they like playing chef. They'll roll out the play clay and use cookie cutters and all kinds of kitchen tools to create their masterpieces. The problem is, they both want to be the executive chef in charge. I hear lots of arguing about, "I'm the head chef, and we're going to make..." "No, I'M the head chef. You're just the sous chef." "No, I'm not the sous chef. YOU'RE the sous chef!" Finally, Noah said, "Ok, ok, you can be my most important sous chef, and I'll be the head chef."

I don't think they ever actually cooked anything.

More Kid-isms

I love the way kids get words mixed up in funny ways. Noah did it twice recently. He was talking about Star Wars, as usual. He likes to make up little Star Wars quizzes to demonstrate his vast knowledge and my ignorance. He asked me why the clones turned to the dark side to become stormtroopers. Naturally, I had no idea, so he enlightened me. He said, "It's because Darth Sidious brain-wiped them!"

When we were browsing in the cemetery last week, he asked me why some people's tombstones had a blank space where the date of death goes. Apparently I used the term "staking their claim" in my explanation, because a few days later he stuck a fork in an apple and told me, "I'm claiming my stake on this apple."

Monday, August 24, 2009

Granola Bar Math

Kroger had a sale on granola bars, but you had to buy ten boxes to the get the sale price. Since Sarah eats a bar every day, I bought ten boxes. We also got some great math questions out of it, such as:

If there are ten granola bars in each box, and I bought ten boxes, how many granola bars do we have?

If Sarah eats one granola bar a day, how long will they last?

If I paid $1.50 for each box, how much does each granola bar cost?

If I paid $1.50 for each box, and I bought ten boxes, how much did I pay total?

We had a good discussion figuring out the answers.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mortal Thoughts

Today we hiked through some woods and had school in a cemetery. Cemeteries have always been some of my favorite places. Walking among the graves puts everything in perspective and helps us realize what is truly important.

We saw the tombstones of Civil War veterans, babies, young adults, old people, and children. Some made me cry, which isn't hard to do. Some of the stones were so old that we couldn't even read them, and some graves had fresh dirt. Noah caught some crickets on a tombstone to feed his pet frog. I wondered if someday someone will catch crickets on my grave, or if strangers will stop to read my tombstone.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Mysterious Case of the Missing Shoe and a Bonus Oddity

We went to the lake this morning. After all the rain we've had lately, the beach was swampy. We were trying to walk on the beach, but our feet kept sinking in the quicksand. Noah was walking next to me when I heard a big suction sound, and then his feet came up out of the mire with no shoes attached. His shoes had been sucked right off, and the wet sand had immediately closed in on them and buried them. We found one easily enough, but after spending almost a whole hour digging through the muck, we couldn't uncover the other one. We had lots of fun digging channels for the excess water to drain into the lake, but we never did find that other shoe! Noah limped home with his one shoe, but we're planning to go back later with shovels and try again.

In another freak accident today, I was taking a shower when the showerhead suddenly fell out of the wall, for no reason at all. It landed with a big crash at my feet (thankfully not ON my feet), which left water blasting out of the wall right at me while I was fumbling around trying to turn it off!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Truancy Officer

I took the kids to McDonalds for lunch today, which is a rare treat. Noah got a McDonalds coupon from the dentist yesterday (for patiently enduring his xrays), and since this is the first day of school for everyone else, I thought it would be a good day to use it. There was one woman in the playland with her little granddaughter. As soon as we entered, the standard inquisition began.

Granny: "Are these your children?"
Me: "Yes, they are."
Granny: "They're cute."
(I never know what to say to that, so I just said thanks and tried to move on, but the inquisition continued.)
Granny: "How old is that one?" (pointing to Noah)
Me: "Noah, tell her how old you are."
Noah: "Seven."
Granny: "Why isn't he in school?"
Me: "He's always in school. He's homeschooled."
Granny clearly doesn't like that, and she shoots me a look that says, "Well then, why aren't you at home?"
Me: "Sometimes we have school at McDonalds."
Granny looks down her nose at me, and I resist the urge to tell her that today in school we're learning how to handle nosy strangers.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

My Testimony

At the beginning of this year, I started having disabling pain in my right elbow. It was diagnosed as tendonitis from playing the harp too much. I loved playing the harp and would do it for as many hours as I could every day. I had to stop playing (and using my right arm altogether), and I questioned why God would afflict me when I only wanted to serve Him with my music.

In the meantime, I had a nasty looking mole on my left arm that I had been meaning to get checked out some year when I met my insurance deductible. I had it for several years and never met my deductible, because I never go to doctors. After seeing a chiropractor for five months for my elbow, the deductible was met, and I decided to get that mole examined. The doctor removed it and tested it, and it turned out to be the most dangerous kind of skin cancer (melanoma). Immediately, my right elbow was completely healed, and I finally understood God’s good purpose. If my elbow pain hadn’t forced me to meet my deductible, my cancer would have gone undetected. God sees the big picture, and just like Romans 8:28 says, He works all things together for our good!

Someone from church read Psalm 91 to me, and she suggested that I write a worship song. I politely agreed, but I was thinking, “I can’t possibly write a worship song. Other people have that gift, but not me. I can barely PLAY music, let alone WRITE an original song.” But when I got home, God led me to my harp and my Bible. I opened the Bible to Psalm 91, and my fingers played a song I’d never heard before while I sang (and I am NOT a singer!!) the words of the Psalm, which fit perfectly. I have no doubt that God wrote the song, because I know I couldn’t do it on my own. Since I don’t know how to write music, I have played that song almost daily so I don’t forget it, and it has brought me much peace and comfort while waiting for test results, etc.

Paul says to give thanks in all things, and I thank God for allowing me to have cancer. I never thought I would say that, but I can see how He has used it in many ways in my own life and others’. Before my diagnosis, I was going through a crisis of faith. I was involved in a discussion with a college professor who had all kinds of intellectual arguments about his lack of belief. I was trying to lead him to faith but instead was swayed by his arguments and seriously doubting my own faith. As I was on the edge of this slippery slope, I had my cancer trial and saw God’s sovereignty again in my life, and my faith was restored. Also during this time, our pastor preached a sermon about how it’s a good thing when God’s hand is on you, but that He will remove His hand of protection from you when you stray too far from Him. I strayed, and God’s mighty hand of protection was lifted from me, and cancer creeped in. I repented and returned to God, and then had another mole removed that the doctor suspected was melanoma. Praise God, it was not!

In addition to the spiritual blessings I received from this ordeal, it also served as a wakeup call to protect myself and my kids from the sun’s damaging rays. I used to be outside all day, every day with my kids. I never sunbathed or used tanning beds, but we were just outdoor people. We would go out early in the morning and eat, read, work, and play outside all day. I never gave a thought to wearing sunscreen, because I thought that was only for pale people, and I never burned. I regret my foolishness, especially knowing that I didn’t protect my children as I should have. Now I use sunscreen every day, and I put it on my kids and even tell complete strangers that they should be using it. I hope that my newfound “ministry” will protect someone else from skin cancer.

So I thank God for all the trials I’ve had this year, because He demonstrated His healing power, strengthened my faith, spared my life (physically and spiritually), gave me a new song and a way to help others. Like the psalmist wrote in Psalm 119:67, I can say, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word.” God is good and faithful all the time!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Tales from the Homeschool

The most important thing I've learned in my seven years of homeschooling is to capitalize on my students' natural interests. This philosophy has taken me way far out of my comfort zone, because it turns out that my children are not miniature versions of me; they have their own unique interests!

Noah's interests (like his personality) run deep and intense. When he gets into something, he dives all the way in, investigates every angle, reads all about it, centers his pretend play around it, talks constantly about it, and even dreams about it. He has a way of sucking everyone around him into it too, like a black hole. After he has completely exhausted every aspect of his area of interest, he's ready to move on to something else.

Sarah's interests are less intense. She's been into princesses and fairy tales, tea parties, and all things pink. I never had any interest in any of those, but I've embraced them for her sake.

Noah's major interests have included construction, firefighting, and NASCAR, none of which aroused my passion. I forced myself to learn about backhoes and hook-and- ladder trucks, and I knew the names of all the major NASCAR drivers, as well as their car numbers and sponsors. It wasn't exactly my thing, but at least it was all real, so I could work up a little interest in it. Unlike his latest obsession....

Star Wars. UGH! How could any child of mine become obsessed with such a thing? It started innocently enough, when he sent in for a free Lego magazine. I thought it would give him some new design ideas, but when the first magazine arrived, it was full of Lego Star Wars comics. He had lots of questions, of course, and I tried to brush them off with a flippant, "Oh, that's just weird stuff. Nothing you need to know." But he wanted to learn all about it, so I deferred his questions to his much more knowledgeable father.

His interest has grown to the point of obsession, and I can no longer ignore or resist it, so I'm embracing it and trying to find something worthwhile in it. I checked out library books on Star Wars and listened as he read them to me, so I could learn what droids and siths are. We borrowed the DVD of episode 1 from the library, and Mike and I watched it. Well, Mike watched it. I really tried, but I just couldn't stand it for more than 20 minutes.

I'm still searching for ways to reach Noah through Star Wars, teaching him about space, good and evil, playing memory games with the names of all the freaks and aliens, working on his table manners (telling him, "A Jedi always eats neatly" works better than nagging him about using his fork). I know that someday this phase will go the way of all the others, so I have to utilize it while he's into it.

Meanwhile, my darling daughter told me she wanted to learn about spiders. She knows I dislike them but has no idea of the extent of my irrational fear. I have a hard time even saying the "S" word. I think she wanted to learn about them BECAUSE she knows I don't like them, so I called her bluff and read her a very thorough (and graphically illustrated) book about spiders. She didn't know that I wasn't looking at the pictures, and I don't think she detected it when my voice quivered (only one time). I was nauseated through the whole ordeal, but I kept my outer demeanor calm and matter-of-fact. Afterwards, she drew me a picture of a tarantula. Egads!

The other big thing she learned in school today was proper handwashing technique. You might think that a five-year-old would be capable of washing her hands without instruction. I made that same mistaken assumption myself! But after struggling with her obvious lack of mastery in this area, despite repeated nagging from both parents, I decided that a step-by-step demonstration was required. Hence this morning's course: Handwashing 101. She seems to have grasped the concept, so hopefully I won't see her in the remedial course tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Nobody got enough sleep last night, so we have all been annoying each other today. Sarah has been particularly unreasonable. Here's how Noah handled her when she wouldn't stop repeating him:
N: Luke Skywalker is awesome!
S: Luke Skywalker is awesome!
N: Did you know the Siths have red lightsabers?
S: Did you know the Siths have red lifesavers? (That's how she says lightsabers)
N: Why are you saying everything I'm saying?
S: Why are you saying everything I'm saying?
N: Stop it. That's annoying.
S: Stop it. That's annoying.
N: I'm a silly little girl.
[Though I was annoyed by their annoying behavior, I couldn't help being impressed by his cleverness. But Sarah outfoxed the fox himself with her reply...]
S: Yes, you are!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Another dirty little homeschooling secret....

Sometimes I use the back of cereal boxes for curriculum.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

God's Underwear

The kids were grumbling about having to fold laundry, so I was teaching them Colossians 3:23, which says, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” I wasn’t sure anyone was paying attention, but the grumbling stopped. A few minutes later, Sarah held up a pair of underwear like an offering, and she said, “Here’s your underwear, Lord!”

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sarah can read!

I could tell that Sarah was ready to start reading books, so this morning, I determined that I was going to teach her to read. I got out the easiest beginner book, put it in front of her, and said, "As soon as I get the dishwasher started, I'm going to teach you to read." She looked at the book while I loaded the dishwasher and prayed for patience (teaching kids to read is frustrating for me...a dirty little homeschooling secret).

I sat down by her and opened the book. I took a breath and was about to begin the "lesson", when Sarah read the entire book to me with no trouble at all! Turns out she's the one who taught ME a lesson: kids are learning all the time, not just when they're being formally taught. I know this, but it continues to amaze me just how much they pick up all by themselves!