Wednesday, November 30, 2011


God did some great things for me today. I had to run errands at three different places, and I was dreading it because my knee still hurts a lot. At the library, I got the first ten-minute parking space, the one closest to the door. At Dollar Tree, I also got the closest space to the door. Even at Kroger, even though the rest of the lot was pretty full, the space right next to the handicapped parking was available. I know at least one of my readers who will say that's just a coincidence. Maybe one good parking space might be a coincidence, but not three in a row, just when I needed them. It wasn't just the parking spaces either. I felt blessed, loved, and protected the whole time. I got lots of good deals at Kroger, found everything I needed, and thought of things to cook for the rest of the week. After I loaded my groceries into the trunk, a guy showed up right at that moment and offered to take my cart. Believe what you want, but I believe that God cares about me. And you too.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Frightening conversation

Since Sarah is so stubborn and picky and constantly asking me for food, I decided to teach her how to cook one of her favorites completely on her own.  That way, when she doesn't like what I'm cooking, she can whip up some noodles for herself.  We were chatting while waiting for the water to boil.
S: When I grow up, I'm going to have two kids.  No husband.
M: How are you going to have kids if you don't have a husband?
S: I'll adopt them!  Then I won't have to waste all that time pushing them out.
M: Adoption takes longer than pushing, so that really won't save you any time, if that's your goal.
S: Anyway, I'm going to live here with you, so you can cook for me and my kids.
Noah, from the other room, adds: Her kids can have my room, because I'll be a major league baseball player by then.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

40's not so great

I turned 40 about a month ago, and since then, bad things have been happening.  First, I was jumping on the bungee trampoline at the mall, turned blue, almost passed out, felt like I was going to die.  The next afternoon was spent at the emergency room, because I was short of breath, dizzy, still not feeling right after the whole episode.  All the tests came back fine, and I'm still short of breath.

Sunday morning, 8 a.m., the doorbell rang.  That's never a good thing.  I looked out the window to see who was here.  I didn't see the neighbor standing there telling us our cat got run over, but I saw my precious Jason's body in the street.

Today, my dear daughter told me to stop whining about Jason, so I went outside to mourn in peace.  I took pictures of his grave (thank you, Jenjo, for the grave marker you so thoughtfully gave me).
I decided I would go sit by the creek on the drainpipe where Jason and I used to watch fish.  Here it is, so you can picture it:
I was wearing my one-piece fuzzy pajamas, of course, and crocs, which were wet from the dew.  I got out to the edge of the pipe, slipped, crashed my left knee onto the pipe, and splatted into the creek, scraping my hands on the rocks in the process.  My camera and I were completely submerged until I recovered from the shock (the creek water is unbelievably cold at the end of November) and made the freezing sprint to the house.  The camera is now dead, but I'm hoping to revive it by baking it in the oven on low.  I took the card out of the camera, and the pictures on it were safe. I have that, and lots of other things to be thankful for as the holiday approaches.

Monday, November 14, 2011

opening and closing

This morning, I came into the kitchen and whacked my head on an open cabinet door.  I knew who left it open.  The same kid who does it all the time.  So I called the offending child and said, "What do you do if you open something?"  Having heard this thousands of times, she parroted the right response: "Close it."  Then I said, "I have told you this many, many times, and I'm tired of telling you, so from now on, you are going to tell yourself.  Whenever I find something open, I'm going to call you over to close it, and you are going to say ten times, 'When I open it, I will close it.'" 

One minute later, I went in the bathroom and slammed into an open drawer.  Mike's drawer.  Mike certainly wouldn't leave his drawer open, but why would Sarah be opening that?  I called her.  She came.  She looked at the drawer, cleared her throat, and said, "When I open it, I will close it. When I open it, I will close it...." After ten times, I said, "Why did you open it?"  She said, "To get Daddy's brush."  I asked her why she was brushing her hair with Daddy's brush instead of her own.  She said, "Oh, I wasn't brushing MY hair with it.  I was brushing Marty."  *SIGH*

By nine o'clock this morning, she had repeated the opening and closing mantra fifty times!  Better her than me I guess.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The dreaded question

I'm not ashamed of homeschooling, but I don't broadcast it either.  Maybe it's because when most people find out, they put me in a box that I don't fit in, complete with assumptions like:
1. I must be a genius.
2. I must be a saint.
3.  I must be SO patient.
4.  My kids must be geniuses.
5.  I must grow my own wheat.
6.  We must never fight.
7.  I must think I'm better than everybody else.
8.  I must be judging you if your kids are in public school.
9.  I am perfect, and so are my kids.
10.  I must wear denim jumpers and head coverings.
11.  We must be happy all the time.  
12.  My kids are "unsocialized".
None of those things are true in my case.  Another reason I don't much like talking about it is that it could lead to...the dreaded question.  I haven't been asked in awhile, so I was getting relaxed. Then today, out of the blue, a guy asked me, "Why do you homeschool?"

It's a perfectly reasonable question, and it's not offensive; the only reason I dread it is because I don't know how to answer it!  I never have. I remember a conversation with my in-laws when our first child was 6 months old.  My father-in-law asked The Question, and I became paralyzed.  I stumbled and stuttered.  I don't remember exactly what I said, but I'm pretty sure it was something like, "Duh, I dunno."  I've regretted it ever since, but I still don't have a good, concise answer to give people.  It's so complicated and yet so simple.

How do I boil it down to something coherent?  I'll list some reasons (I don't think I can even name them all), and maybe you can come up with a succinct reply for me.  These are in no particular order.
1.  I've always believed it's what God wants for my family.
2.  I love my kids and want to spend time with them.  We went through a lot to get them, and we were relatively old when we got them, so I don't want most of their waking hours spent somewhere else.  It's more of a lifestyle choice than an educational choice.
3.  There are germs in schools, and I hate germs.
4.  We have so much flexibility.  The kids can get all the sleep they need.  We can go on vacation in the middle of the school year.  We can go out for lunch on a weekday.  We can go to Community Bible Study together.
5.  I control their nutrition and environment, for the most part.
6.  They can learn about God, Korea, adoption, whatever else I want them to know, or more importantly, what they are in interested in learning.
7.  They learn at their own pace.
8.  We can read great books together.
9.  We don't have the pressure of homework.
10.  We can take advantage of the natural learning opportunities that happen all the time.
11.  Nobody will threaten them with knives or offer them drugs.
12.  I want them to learn to love learning, not just memorize facts.
13. I love learning right along with them!
14.  If we move, we don't have to consider the school district.
15.  I want to train them to have good moral character and healthy habits. That hasn't worked yet, but I'm hopeful.
16.  I want us to be a close-knit family.
That's all I have time for now.  Children are calling...

Star Wars sandwich

Family friends gave Noah an early birthday present.  They're notorious for giving him great books, so he was hoping for that, and they delivered!  We had just finished reading a three-book series that we all enjoyed, and I  hadn't figured out what our next book would be, so it was perfect timing.  We started reading the first one right away, and we were all hooked.  As if that wasn't enough, these friends also gave him some Star Wars stuff, including these cool sandwich cutters that can turn any sandwich into a Millenium Falcon or a TIE fighter!  Thanks, guys!


Sarah decided to write a poem and just rattled it right off, barely even thought about it.  Here it is:

The love of a smile
Will last for awhile.
The love of a smile
Is never vile.
The love of a smile
Is very good.
It will light up the woods.
The love of a smile
is in the meadows.
It’s on the treetops
And in the flower petals.
I dance and smile in the spring;
I love to dance with everything!

Noah just watched her in amazement and said, "How do you DO that, Sarah? I couldn't come up with something like that if I tried all day, and you just blurt it out like Shakespeare!  You know who you are?  You're Sarahspeare!"

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Baked baby tooth

Sarah's two front baby teeth have been loose for months, and the permanent ones are already halfway in behind them.  She looks like a cross between a beaver and a shark.  She refuses to pull them or even wiggle them.  While setting up for a church party, she ran into a dead end in the box maze and knocked out a tooth.  She proudly presented it to me, and I put it in a little tooth holder. 

The next day, I was standing in my kitchen talking to my mom, and I got out Sarah's tooth holder to show her the tooth.  As I popped open the top, the tooth flew out and disappeared.  I heard it clattering around but couldn't find it. I assumed it went into the Bermuda Triangle under the oven.  A few days later, I was pulling dessert out of the oven when I looked down and spotted a foreign object on the inside of the oven door.  It was a hot, well-done baby tooth.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

In honor of Veteran's Day

My children are playing war (not the card game, the one where they run around shooting each other).  I interrupted them for lunch, so our lunchtime conversation went like this:
M: I declare a cease-fire during lunch!
N: Thanks for the MREs, Cook.
S: Where did you get this steak?
M: Leftover from Lone Star before it got bombed.
N: Now they're using that land to make military vehicles.
M: The next time you use your fingers instead of your fork, you'll be dishonorably discharged.
[A few minutes later, I busted him with his fingers in the food again. He looked at me guiltily.]
M: You, sir, are dishonorably discharged.  Leave the mess hall immediately.
N: I reject that.
S: You can't reject the drill sergeant's orders!
N: She's not the drill sergeant.  She's just a cook. [I scowled at him.] Well, I mean that's her super power. She can cook.  Mine is x-ray vision and infrared night vision.
S: Mine is talking on my cell phone.
M (to N): Dishonorably discharged!
N: Ok then.  I'll just go join the enemy forces.
M: They'll discharge you too if you eat like a pig.
N: Then I'll just go work for Caterpillar. 

Monday, November 7, 2011


I had a parental breakthrough this morning which resolved an ongoing issue with one of my kids. It felt like a big weight was lifted off of me. I must have been getting too cocky about that, because something else reared its ugly head in that same child. This is the child who USED to be our easy one. So far today, I've had breakthrough followed by breakdown. I babysat for twenty years before I had children. I was sure it wasn't going to be that hard. I knew what I was doing. I even had to take parenting classes before the state would give me children. I was an expert! On the very first day I had my own child, I realized I didn't know what I was doing, that babysitting someone else's kids doesn't prepare you for your own, that I'm not an expert, and that parenting is really, really hard. I still like doing it though.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Hulk Center

An acquaintance of mine arranged a field trip to the Hult Center and invited me to bring my kids. I had no idea what it was all about, but I always jump at the chance to go on a field trip. Noah needs lots of preparation for things, likes to know what to expect, and have all his questions answered before we go anywhere. So he was not pleased with this conversation last night:

Me: Hey, good news! We're going on a field trip tomorrow!
N: Where?
Me: It's this place called the Hult Center, I think. Hult Educational Center maybe. Hult Education Center?...
N: Where is it?
Me: It's in Peoria.
N: Where in Peoria?
Me: By Proctor Hospital.
N: What's it all about?
Me: No idea.
N: Why are we going?
Me: Because Levi & Jacob's mom invited us.
N: Who else is going?
Me: No idea. Let's just go and be adventurous and enjoy whatever happens!
N (rolling his eyes): Mooommmmmm!

So we went, and he had a good time, but on the way home he said, "Why is it called the Hulk Center if they don't even talk about the Hulk? I thought we were going to learn about turning green, but all they talked about was safety and nutrition and being courteous and stuff. "

There's Noah doing his presentation on peanut butter.

Tween music

Our almost-ten-year old is changing. One of the obvious manifestations of his growing up is the music he's listening to now. Just a few months ago, he was perfectly content to listen to WCIC on the radio during the day and a horrible CD of me singing lullabies at night. Now he's into hard rock, which I can't stand. His favorite band is called Skillet, and he listens to it all the time and goes around yelling the songs in an angry voice. I ignored it and hoped it would pass. It didn't. So now I'm looking up the lyrics and trying to warm up to the music, with the goal of understanding it and maybe even embracing it eventually, since that's what the kid is into.

I have about two or three memories of my tween years, and one of them involves riding in the car with my dad, listening to the radio. He and my mom always listened to WSWT, and I did too, until I became a tween and switched over to KZ-93. So my dad let me choose the station, and Corey Hart's "Sunglasses at Night" was playing. My dad was listening, trying to understand and embrace. He asked me, "Why is he wearing his sunglasses at night?" and I appreciated him for trying. If we want to understand the younger generation, a good place to start is by figuring out their music.

One from the old days

Something in my blog reminded my blogger buddy of a similar story, and she posted it on hers.  Then as I was reading her blog (which I love), I was reminded of an old story I haven't told you, so here it is.

Back when I was single and living alone, I stopped at a shoe store after work one night.  I was still wearing my dress clothes (yes, I used to dress up back when I was a young professional). I hadn't been in the store more than a minute before someone approached me and asked me where the men's dress shoes were.

In the next aisle, a lady handed me a shoe and asked me if she could get that in a size seven. Just because I was wearing a dress, people assumed I worked there, even though I was browsing the shelves and trying on shoes just like any other customer.

Suddenly it occurred to me that I could have some fun with this situation.  I went to a different section, approached a lost-looking woman, and asked, "Can I help you find anything?"  She said, "Yes, I'm looking for a pair of blue flats. What aisle would they be in?" I said, "I have no idea. I don't work here!"  I laughed all the way home whenever I thought about it. I hope she thought it was funny too, but I doubt it.  

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

1 Samuel 9

This is one of my favorite chapters, because it shows God accomplishing His purposes behind the scenes of our everyday circumstances.  Kish was probably upset that his donkeys wandered away, and he had no idea when he sent his son out to find them that he would end up being crowned Israel's first king because of it.  God can fit our minor annoyances and major tragedies into His master plan.  We can trust Him!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Waste of time

I spent a good 30 minutes making this delicious big salad for lunch.  It had all the fixings, even a hard-boiled egg. I even put it in a pretty glass bowl.  I don't really remember how it happened, but the kids tell me I was singing and dancing.  Anyway, this is what happened:
Usually when things like this happen, my first thought is a curse, and sometimes it finds its way right out my mouth.  I'm hoping to get to the point someday where my first thought is something like, "I sure am thankful to have such a nice kitchen and food to eat.  I'm happy to clean this up."  I'm not there yet.  But actually my first thought today when my bowl leapt to its death was, "This would be a good time for Jesus to come back."  That's progress...better than cursing.  I put off cleaning it up for awhile, to give Jesus a chance, but I guess it wasn't the right time.   It took almost an hour to clean up all those little shards of glass.