Sunday, October 31, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Saturday morning joural

Piles of papers and books. Baskets of miscellaneous stuff.

That's what I'm focusing on this Saturday morning.

All this week I've gotten up at 5:45.  Today I slept in:  set the alarm for 6:15.   I love this getting up early.  It had been so hard for me for a couple of reasons.  First, it's just hard to get out of bed.  I wanted to be up early, but I didn't want to make an effort to do it.  It's like my kid wanting to know how to play piano, but not being willing to actually go through the effort of lessons and practice.

But then there's the spousal unit.  He doesn't have to - or want to - get up really early.  I didn't want to set the alarm and wake him up unnecessarily.  Sometimes I would pray that God would wake me up when He wanted me to get up, but that didn't always work.  I'd wake up, maybe, but tell God to go away, that I was just kidding. Not a good way to start the day.

Then I discovered the alarm on my cell phone.  It's quieter than the clock alarm, and easier to deal with when it goes off.  I just pick it up, slip out of bed, and leave the room.  It wakes him up a little, but not enough to be troublesome.  He can go back to sleep.  I can be up!  Reading, writing, sorting papers, walking the dog.

Today the dog was anxious to go out.  It was still completely dark outside when we left for our walk. The darkness of early morning is so different from the darkness of night.  We walked quickly - it's finally cold! - and he romped in the leaves.  We saw two people on our walk:  the newspaper delivery lady, and an ancient-looking man out picking up his paper.  I get the feeling he was waiting for her to show up.  He didn't notice me, and I didn't speak.  It was so beautifully quiet; all I heard was the slight hum of the Turnpike and the rustling of the leaves when the dog jumped in a pile.

Do you look forward to the morning paper?   Or do you skip it and get your news elsewhere?  

Look, here is my first "Mr. Linky" for your blogging pleasure. Tell me what you're doing today.  

Thursday, October 28, 2010

NaNoWriMo: Almost ready?

Only a few days till NaNoWriMo.   Monday morning we start!

Our second wireless keyboard is on its way from West Viriginia.  Now we have one keyboard per person.  The kids are very excited to have their own.  My girlie asked if she could have the original Dana because... she doesn't know why.  Sentimental, I guess.

We've been going through the middle school workbook a little.  But we're also busy with other things so aren't spending a lot of time talking about our stories.

The kids set their word counts and now I need to have them figure out a words-per-day goal.  The boy has a camping trip early in the month that he has to account for.   Of course there will be other days we don't have time to write.  I frequently remind them that other schoolish activities will go on next month too.  I think they're picturing a creative writing extravaganza with breaks for x-box and Dr. Who.

My word goal is 50,000 - set by NaNoWriMo, not by me -  so that's about 1,700 words a day.  Frightening!

I'm feeling like we should have been doing more preparation:  more character development, more plot outlining. We're doing it the way we do most things:  just flying by the seat of our pants.

Where did that expression come from, anyway?

So I'm scared and excited.   And trying to figure out a festive way to kick off the month on Monday.  I hope the 2nd keyboard will be here so we can go to a cafe and write.  The kids are just dying to do that.  Me too!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Meet my new friend Dana

Dana is a wireless keyboard. A laptop word processor, you might say. 

You can type things into her. Grocery lists, the Bible passage you're trying to memorize, a novel. Then you hook her up to the computer and transfer what you've typed into a text file.

She's wonderful.

I first heard about Dana in an indirect way. Barbara Frank introduced me to Neo, Dana's sibling. Or cousin, maybe. I thought that was interesting but not really relevant to me. But then came NaNoWriMo. My kids and I are going to write our own novels next month. Exciting!

But we are three people who share one computer. Please. Tell me how we can each spend an hour-plus each day writing with only one computer, unless one of us (me) does all the writing in the middle of the night.  The boy said he would write his out on paper, but really, how long will that last?   And at some point it has to be typed up anyway. 

Then I remembered Neo, and started looking around. Being broke cheap frugal, I was searching for a  bargain, and found one on Ebay.  I think Dana had belonged to a school and was being replaced.  There were quite a few available. 

Of course now the kids and I are fighting over Dana.  No one wants to use the "big computer."  And there are still three of us sharing two keyboards.  I'm toying with the idea of another Dana, but then the kids will claim both of them and I'll just have the stodgy old desktop.  Who wants to use that?  Sometimes I get the feeling we are the only people left on earth who use a desktop and don't have a laptop for each member of the family.

Maybe I'll just have to buy three. I can picture the three of us looking oh-so-authorly, hanging out and writing together in a coffee shop. Or out at our favorite arboretum.

Who wouldn't find inspiration here?

If the seminarian came along, he could bring his laptop.  See, we do have one.

One of the nice things about Dana is the lack of distraction.  There is no internet, so in the middle of writing, I can't say "oh, I need to look that up."  I can't see that I just got email.  I can't decide to take a break and go check my reader to see if there's a blog post I must read now.  It's just Dana, me, and the written word.

Don't you want a Dana of your own?

I'm linking up to Works for me Wednesday because even though NaNoWriMo hasn't started yet, Dana works for me.

UPDATE: I just found another Dana on Ebay.  So each child will have his and her own to use.  If we do any writing in a cafe or park, I'll just have to use actual paper and pen!  

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ten observations from my morning walk

An impromptu Top Ten Tuesday post, inspired by my early morning walk.

1.  The best time for a morning walk is just before sunrise when it's light enough not to stumble along but not so bright the sun is shining in my eyes.

2.  It's hard to pray while walking an active, curious dog.

3.  I need one of those shrubs that turns bright red in the fall.

4.  High school boys ought to know better than to sit in the middle of the sidewalk, forcing cranky middle-aged ladies to step into the street.

5.  People who don't clean up after their dogs are at best rude, at worst sociopaths.

6. I need to actually plant some mums rather than just keeping them in pots on the porch.

7.  The scent of fallen leaves takes me right back to West Seneca, New York, where I was born and lived for my first 9 years.

8. Why can't we just wait till all the leaves are down and rake then?

9.  I'm sick of seeing skeletons hanging in trees.

10.  I love fall and love my pretty neighborhood.

See more top tens and post your own at Oh Amanda.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Saturday morning joural

It's a girls' day here!

The men are out camping so in a minute my girlie and I are off to pick up a friend for brunch. We had to squeeze this little social event into a few hours this morning so we arranged a brunch date. Pancakes, raspberry syrup, tea.

After we take our friend home we're going in search of some new yarn. I finished a scarf last night and wanted to wrap up in it. It was so cold in the house. So I want to make a shawl.

Yes, I am getting old.

What is happening at your house this morning?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Just one of those little God moments

It's another camping weekend for the Boy Scout.  I love and hate these weekends.  As he gains more responsibility in Scouts, he has more to remember and more stuff to take.  He used to take money for food; now he's the one bringing the food.  This weekend he needed his bike and helmet.  He needs his housekey and some cash, just in case.

So I'm trying to train him to make a list that he can print and use and update as needed. But he won't do that.  He will never do that.  And I should stop worrying that he'll forget something and let him forget it, even if it means all the boys go without breakfast because he doesn't have the eggs.  (He'll never forget the chocolate and cheetos so we're OK there. And there are worse things than chocolate and cheetos for breakfast.)  I don't really do all that much for him.  Sometimes I toss out little reminders.  Sometimes because he's running late I'll pack the cooler, but not usually.  I do worry about those eggs breaking.   Yeah, worrying is what I'm best at.

The other thing I'm trying to get him to understand - unsuccessfully, so far -  is that while there are a lot of tasks that can wait till the last minute, if he leaves too many he will be rushed just when he doesn't want to be.  But he comes by that trait genetically so I don't guess there's much I can do about it. 

Yesterday I asked him to be sure he had all the clothing he needed so we didn't have a laundry emergency.  He assured me he did.  Yet, 30 minutes before he was to leave, I found him rooting through a pile of laundry that hadn't been sorted yet.  What was he looking for?  Socks.  Not the everyday white socks he wears all the time.  The warm hiking socks.  There weren't any there; I hadn't seen any for a while.  We checked the dirty laundry and they weren't there either. He was getting a little frantic; he doesn't like having cold feet.  Then I thought of checking one last place.

Some people will understand the misplaced clothes pile.  I don't think I'm the only one who has one of those. It's just clothing that gets into the wrong room - my room - when laundry is being sorted.  My pile is kind of big.  I was going to get to it tonight, honest!  But I figured the socks must have been there.

But when I got to my room to check the pile, I saw the socks - two pairs! - laying neatly on my bed.  As if they had been placed there on purpose.  But not by me, because I hadn't known they were there.  No one else admitted to putting the socks so nicely in that spot.  They should have been in the pile.  So I handed them to the boy and he went on to pack the next last-minute item.

My life is very easy.   I don't have a lot of problems; I have a house where mostly everything works; I don't stay up nights wondering how we're going to pay the light bill; my family is healthy; we have good friends and a good church.  But sometimes, when something goes wrong, or even when something just seems uncertain, I  wonder what God is doing.  I don't mean things like socks going missing; bigger things than that.  But we know we are to trust that everything will come right in the end, and to hang tight, even though sometimes - even with an easy life - it's a little hard to do that.

And then God sets your missing socks right in front of your eyes.  It's like a little wink or a squeeze of the hand; a little reminder that yes, I'm still here and watching over things, and it will indeed all come right in the end.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

NaNoWriMo: I knew this would happen

We're getting excited about NaNoWriMo here. I was not enthusiastic about writing a novel but now I can't wait.  Actually, I had gotten started.   I had my story figured out and even had some notes down to get going.

Then I changed everything.  That is an old, forgotten habit of mine.  I'm having flashbacks to my last couple years in college, when I'd stay up half the night writing a paper, then trash it, start over, and spend the second half of the night writing the new paper.  So I should have expected it to happen.

And as much as I've said I don't want to write fiction, I'd forgotten that this idea had been kicking around in my head for a few years; I don't know how I forgot it, because once it came to me today, it was so obvious.

I shouldn't post this because... I don't know why I shouldn't.  There are only 5 or 6 of you to read this anyway so it's not as if I'm revealing some big secret to the world. 

To those of you who have been reading here for a while, what books am I always nagging you to read?  Right. Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons and all the books following.  It's all over my sidebar and I post about these books as often as I can. 

Those books end when the main characters are teens/children.   What if the story went on?  What if someone picked up the story after several years, when the Walkers and the Blacketts were grown and married and had their own kids? 

Could that work?

I guess I will find out!

Visiting John Newton

One of our sentimental favorite books is Mr Pipes And The British Hymn Makers by Douglas Bond. It's the story of an English church organist who befriends a couple of American kids temporarily living in his village. They have adventures and learn about hymns and the people who wrote them. It is a sweet, fun book. There are sequels but none was as well-loved as the first.

When we went to England and Scotland in 2005, we took the book along to reread. We wanted some reading that "fit" our surroundings and we thought we needed something to fill time. As it happens, we barely read anything on that trip.

But there was another reason I took the book along. We wanted to surprise the kids at the end of the trip with a visit to Olney, the real village in which the fictional story takes place. We wanted to visit the church and John Newton's grave. Of course "Amazing Grace" and John Newton's story is in the book.

Two days before our flight home, we stopped in a nondescript town near Olney and stayed at a utilitarian businessman's hotel, much different from the inns we'd gotten used to. We told the kids we had one more fun place to go the next day.

I don't remember exactly how or when they learned where we were. Did they see the "Welcome to Olney" sign? Or did we tell them?  I wish I could recall.  But they were very excited when they figured it out!
The town is the stereotypical English village we'd been looking for all month.  We spent some time walking around looking at the landmarks.  William Cowper's house. The site of the pancake race.  There was a Cowper and Newton Museum which we were anxious to visit, but it was closed.  We saw some women inside and lurked at the windows trying to get them to take pity on us and open up, but it didn't happen.

John Newton's church.

So we went to the church.  It's a beautiful place, full of stained glass.   We spent a long time exploring it and the grounds around it.  I think we ran into one person while we were there and he didn't speak to us. No tour guide, or even the pastor of the church greeted us. It was so quiet and lovely.

Cute kids smiling by a grave.  Tacky?

Newton's story in stained glass.

 It was one of the highlights of our trip.  We all enjoyed the day though it didn't make it any easier to drive to the airport to go home.  We haven't read about Mr. Pipes again but it is one of those books we will never give away. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Old photos and kitchen excitement

Tonight I spent some time looking through old photos on a computer I rarely use (the seminarian's laptop). That is always such fun though I really didn't have time for it tonight. I spent most of my time looking at the photos from the trip we took to England and Scotland in September of 2005. Hard to believe that was 5 years ago now! I'm sure I'll be posting a lot of those photos but I got a kick out of this one.

For the first week of our four-week trip, we had an apartment in London. The kitchen was quite exciting. I loved the electric kettle which had water hot for tea in about 30 seconds. No kidding. It was fab.

But the kids were just fascinated with the toaster. At home we have a toaster oven so this might have been their first experience with a pop-up toaster. They just couldn't stop watching it, waiting for the toast to pop, and there was fresh excitement, every time.

NaNoWriMo: Gearing Up

The kids and I are officially signed up now.  We all came up with user names, read all the FAQs, and browsed around the sites a bit.  They chose the length of their novels (50,000 words is not required for the Young Writers Program), and we all have a general idea of our stories.  I'm sure they'll change a lot over the month.

I have been thinking about the logistics of this project.  How will we fit in writing every single day?  How will the three of us manage with just the one computer?  The boy plans to write by hand - somehow after years of struggling he's found he's pretty quick at it, and it no longer hurts - but at some point it'll have to be typed up. And there will be a lot of spelling to be corrected, but I don't want to think about that right now.

I saw Barbara Frank's post about the Alphasmart Neo portable keyboard and did some exploring online. I have a similar product by the same manufacturer (ordered used on Ebay) coming my way and I can't wait to see it.  That will give us two keyboards, and if it's as super fab as it looks, maybe we'll get another.

Oh, my user name is Mrs. Blackberry, if you are NaNoing and want to get in touch there. Thanks for the messages of support about that.  That name has nothing to do with the well-known mobile device, by the way.  It has to do with the fruit.   And nothing to do with my book, so far at least.  Hmmmm......

Come on, November!  We're ready for you.  I think.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

NaNoWriMo: the beginning

NaNoWriMo begins in 16 days.  My kids still want to do it. They still want me to do it.  I still am not into writing fiction - I never even made up stories for my kids when they were little; I just read to them.  At least, that's how I remember it. They keep telling me I made up stories about a mouse but no one remembers anything about them or even the mouse's name, so I think they created a memory.  Will they be in therapy in years to come because I didn't make up stories for them?

But anyway, I'll go for it.  I tried to take the first step yesterday by signing up on the website.  But my preferred login name was taken!  Who else would be Marbel?  (That's pronounced "marble" by the way, and is an old family nickname.)  So now I'm stumped.  I can't come up with a name. 

And if I can't come up with a user name, how will I write an entire novel?

Saturday, October 16, 2010

On my meme-free week

So last week I didn't participate in any of my usual memes.  Oh, I guess I did one that just fit in with what I was blogging about anyway.  I noticed:

I didn't miss it a whole lot.

I didn't visit as many blogs as I usually do.  Just the ones in my reader, no new ones.  I didn't go to the memes since I didn't post. 

Traffic is way down (not to say it was ever high), but comments are mostly up.

My house is a little cleaner.

My laundry is a little more caught up. 

Memes are fun.  They give something to write about for those of us who like to write but don't always have anything to say. They bring people to the blog, but those people don't always come back.

It's fun to see the sitemeter numbers go up.  Not so fun when they go back down.  I'll admit that. But I like it that people are talking back to me more.   So keep talking! 

Why do you blog? Is it in the hope of becoming well-known, or making money, or promoting a cause, or simply as a venue for writing?  They are all valid reasons.  Tell me about your blogging philosophy.   If you read blogs but don't have one yourself, what stops you from jumping in?

Saturday morning joural

Mornings have been a mess around here.  I've been sleeping too late and feeling rushed every day, even if we didn't have any place to go.  (Though stay-home days are pretty rare right now.)  I'd let the kids sleep until the moment I felt like they should be up and ready to be productive, and expect them to jump when I called them.  It wasn't working,  They wanted a little time in the morning to ease into the day.  Why shouldn't they?  I always do.

So we made a deal:  on "school" days their time is mine at 8 am.  (Yeah, I know, pretty late by some folks' standards.)  If they want free time at the beginning of the day, they need to be up earlier.  They asked me to call them at 7:30.  I did, and it worked.  We actually ended up having a nice breakfast together with a lot of discussion.  It turned out to be a pretty productive day.

That shouldn't have been so hard to figure out!

They asked me to do it again this morning even though it's Saturday and we have no agenda other than chores and watching Shane.  So I have about three minutes to finish this up.

This morning I've been reading about a golfer who was born male, went through the gender-reassignment process, and now is suing to compete as a female.   Wow.

From that I skipped over to an article about the new "Democratic Free School" that is hoping to open in Philadelphia soon.  I was talking about that with a friend over coffee last night (actually I had hot cider with way too much whipped cream); she is a fellow homeschooler and has more positive feelings about the concept than I do.  I feel even less enthusiastic about it after reading this:
Loucas said the Free School would begin its pilot program in January. He said all students enrolled in the program would receive additional schooling each weekday from a separate certified education program. The students will be homeschooled, take online courses, or be enrolled part-time at a public school so they meet their legal requirements.
So, the parents will spend $9 - $10,000 a year but still have to homeschool or otherwise acquire classes for their kids to meet state requirements.  Doesn't sound like this program is going to be very helpful for the typical Philadelphia public school student.  

Oh, my three minutes are up!  What are you reading about and pondering today?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Reading the Bible in a year

In my Bible reading plan, it's July.

I am so conflicted about my Bible reading.  Everywhere I go, people are telling me I must, and my children must, read the Bible all the way through every year.  I am told of the great spiritual benefits of doing this.  I don't disagree with that, exactly.  But when I try to do it, it feels like cramming.  I'm just reading as quickly as I can to check off the day, but not getting anything out of it.

But last December I decided to at least do my reading systematically, if not yearly.  I found a chronological reading plan.  I thought about it and prayed about it and came to the conclusion that I'd read daily, but wouldn't try to finish in the year.  I'd take my time and read deeply, but not quickly.  (I am sure some people can read both deeply and quickly, so if you are a yearly Bible reader don't think I'm telling you you're not doing it right.)  But as we approach the year's end, I am starting to feel the guilt come back. I find myself trying to catch up, even though it's impossible at this point, unless I go away to a hotel for a weekend to read.

And so I think of Janet.  She is a dear woman who gave me a lot of encouragement (and, yes, guilt, though I don't think she meant to) about reading the whole Bible every year.  She was not proud, but she frequently ticked off the years she'd been doing it herself. Last time I talked to her, I think it was 26.  26 times through the Bible in 26 years!  Wow. That's impressive.

And then I thought about Janet's age. She must have been in her mid-70s when I knew her.  Let's say, 75.  That means she started her reading habit when she was 49, thereabouts.  I am pretty sure her kids were up and out then.  I am pretty sure she was not homeschooling then.  I don't doubt that she was busy, but I think she was out of the thick of childrearing by that time.  (Some of us, at 49 and above, are still in the thick of it.) 

So maybe I'm just rationalizing my own lack, but I am resolving to put this guilt aside once and for all. I'm going to keep following my Bible reading plan, but not worry about the date.  Some days I might read many chapters; some only a portion of one.  I'm reading Isaiah now, and taking it slow.  I have a commentary I'm reading along with it so that slows me down, but adds much to my reading.  I have a commentary on Esther that I'll pull out when that time comes.

My kids will continue their slow pace in their own Bible studies, which, in effect, I'm doing with them, since we discuss everything.  

Do you read the Bible in full every year?   Do you follow a plan, or just read from start to finish?  Or are you a slacker like me who can't seem to manage it?   Tell me about it. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Blog List

I've updated the blog list in my sidebar.  It now reflects what's in my reader. There are a lot, aren't there?  I can't keep up with them all. 

I also took out a few blogs that had gone inactive.  I almost feel like I'm being disloyal but, hey, it's a tough blogging world. 

If you serve in a women's minsitry...

I would love to hear about it.

Somehow I am now on the women's ministry committee at my church.  I didn't exactly sign up for it; but I'm happy to participate.   We are a small church and our congregants are friendly but we don't have a cohesive group of women.  Yet.  We're working on it.

I just finished reading, for the second time, J. Ligon Duncan and Susan Hunt's wonderful book, Women's Ministry in the Local Church.   I received it five or so years ago while at a leadership conference.  This is a practical book with real ideas for starting and maintaining a useful, lively women's ministry.  It is also the place I first encountered the term "complementarianism."   This is the idea that men and women are different, with different gifts, skills, and talents, and thus have different roles in the church and in life.   Here is Ligon Duncan on the concept:
Complementarianism gives the relational framework for men and women to live out their covenantal privileges and responsibilities. The complementarian position acknowledges that God created men and women equal in being but assigned different - but equally valuable - functions in His kingdom and that this gender distinctiveness complements, or harmonizes, to fulfill His purpose.
He contrasts this idea with egalitarianism, which "asserts that there is no legitimate difference of role and function between men and women in the home and church..."   I also  love this:  "[Egalitarianism] wrongly equates any acknowledgment of role distinction with inequality and discrimination." 

This forms the basis of the book:  a church needs a women's ministry because women and men are different, with different needs and different gifts.  The book expands on that ("the apologetic") and then goes on with practical help for leaders, but is also written for the male leadership of the church and explains their role in it as well.

Both Dr. Duncan and Mrs. Hunt are part of the Presbyterian Church in America, which assumes male headship in home and church.  You will not find a female pastor or elder in a PCA church. Nor will you in my denomination, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.  (They are very much alike; we were members of the PCA before we moved and the seminarian could serve in either denomination when he graduates.) People in denominations where women do serve in leadership might not like everything this book says, but it might still be valuable for the information specific to women's ministry. Or who knows?  Maybe it will change your mind about the roles of men and women in the church.  I found it very useful, and plan to pass it on to my sisters as we work together to serve the women in our church.

Tell me about your women's ministry!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Who is doing it?

Who has already done it and has something to say about it?

November is National Novel Writing Month.  My kids want to try it.  They want me to try it. 

How about you?

Potato salad

I was pondering a side dish for tonight's dinner while  I rinsed out an empty mayo jar to put in the recycling. And right there on the label there was a potato salad recipe that sounded perfect so I decided to make it right then and there.  It is called Bobby Flay's Green Onion Potato Salad and here is the recipe for your dining pleasure.

One note:   I am out of red potatoes so used russets; I prefer the more waxy reds for salad but hey, we must persevere through these trials.  It is still fabulous.  I think I ate my serving just sampling.

One more note: I often come across recipes that call for jalapenos, so now I buy a bag at the produce market and freeze them. I just cut them open, take out the stems and seeds, flatten them out, and put them in a ziplock bag. I pull out what I need when I need them.  Very easy and helpful.

Hey! This worked for me so I'm linking to Works for me Wednesday!

Grocery cart voyeur

Sometimes there's nothing to do in the grocery store line but gaze into the cart ahead.  When the line is long, and the magazines dull (or objectionable), it's the only way to pass the time.   So last week I found myself staring into a heavily-laden Walmart cart the other day, marveling at the contents.

The cart was full of boxes.  Nearly overflowing with packaged and  frozen meals, heavily sweetened dry cereal, boxed seasoned rice mixes and other things I can't remember.  The only "real" food I saw was a carton of eggs.  Maybe there was a carton of milk in there.  Or maybe it was nondairy creamer.

Then I saw the stack of coupons.  There must have been 50 of them!  The cashier just scanned and scanned.  The customer started laughing and exclaiming over her savings.    She was really happy and pleased to be saving a lot of money on her purchase.  I started paying attention to her chatter with the cashier because by now I was wondering if this was her normal grocery shopping.  I couldn't believe the lack of ingredients for cooking in that cart and wondered if she was buying for a food bank or something.  But it sounded like it was her stuff.

After she left I couldn't help wondering if her grocery bill wouldn't have been cheaper if she'd skipped the coupons and bought real food instead.  A bag of plain rice and some spices would be cheaper than boxed mixes.  Throw in a bag of noodles and she could skip the Hamburger and Tuna Helpers.  A box of oatmeal or even Cheerios (or the store brand which are almost as good, at least to my family's taste) would be cheaper and a better breakfast than Cap'n Crunch. (Oh, I do miss Cap'n Crunch.  It was my favorite cereal growing up.  Someday I'm going to buy a box to eat like candy.  But not for breakfast.) 

I don't want to sound like I run a pure, processed-food-free kitchen.  I use canned beans more often than dry; commercial chicken broth more often than homemade stock.   I try to make most of our bread and cookies, but not all.  Cheez-its are not health food, but they often find their way into my cart.

What is my point?  I don't know exactly.  I don't have some great insight to end this post, except maybe to say now I see why I don't use coupons much. I don't see the savings if the coupons are all for packaged foods.  Peering into that woman's cart shook me up a little.  It made me want to find more ways to cut processed convenience food out of our lives, for our health and our food budget.

Yet I know a lot of people use coupons and claim to save a lot of money.  Do you?  I'd love to know your philosophy on groceries and coupons.   I'm not being snarky.  Educate me.  Because I don't get it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The messy family reforms: Containers!

I have a container problem.

My space isn't big enough to store all my plastic food containers. The cupboard ends up a jumbled mess of mismatched containers and lids. It's a huge hassle for me. It wastes my time and stresses me out.

So I pulled everything out of the cupboard and put it in this bin. As I use a container and lid, I attach them before putting them away.  It's an inefficient way to store, but it's the only way I can keep them together.

At some point I'll get to the containers with no lids, and lids with no containers, and I will throw them out. I used to keep them in yet another cupboard, awaiting the day the missing part would catch up. But it is futile. As futile as packing a duffle bag of unmatched socks into a moving van in Oregon in the hope that the socks were somehow waiting for me in Pennsylvania, like family members gone on ahead.

If you have a similar problem, check out Simple Organized Living's food storage giveaway. I'll be signing up for this one.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Meme-free week?

Most weeks I participate in several memes.  But I skipped Menu Plan Monday today because, uh, I don't have a menu plan.   No Top Ten Tuesday ideas are rattling around in my brain.  The deadline for the Carnival of Homeschooling (I know, not a meme) just passed and I didn't have anything to say about homeschooling that I haven't already said too many times.  I am not sure I'll get a chance for any photos for Outdoor Wednesday.  Nothing much is working for me again, so that leaves out Works for me Wednesday.   Maybe we'll do something interesting enough for me to participate in the Weekly Wrap-up but if today is any indication, I won't. I had a pretty mundane one last week, and don't want to do two in a row.

But it won't stop me from dropping by those places to find some new recipes, read about homeschooling, and all the rest.  You can too!

My day with the combat robots

If someone had told me 5 years ago that I'd happily spend a Saturday watching robot battles, I'd have laughed and laughed.

It's all because of the kids, of course.  My children have exposed me to so many experiences I'd never have had without them.  The boy's robotics club was entering a robot in the local competition; he wanted us to go.  I went, somewhat reluctantly.  That's such a guy thing; I had better things to do, like watch "Pride and Prejudice" with my girlie.

But we went and boy was it fun.  And what a homeschooler's dream experience.

Combat robots come in many different sizes or weight classes.  There are cute little "ant weight" bots weighing less than a pound, and big ones (like ours) that weigh 30 pounds.  They have hammers, saws, and spikes.  The drivers stand outside a plexiglass box with their remote controls and set their 'bots to the task of destroying the opponent.

It's an electronic demolition derby.

This isn't one of our matches, just one that was short and active.

Parts fly. Sparks fly! Contestants are given instructions on what to do if their robot catches fire.That is not an outlandish concern. 

But here's the best part for the homeschool mom: the learning. They are learning so much! About electronics, of course. And materials: what kind of steel is best for this? Stronger but more brittle? Or a more malleable type so we can bend it a little and it won't shatter when hit?  

They're solving problems on the spot:  In their first match, our robot (a wedge-shape) got its front edge stuck under the bottom of the plexiglass box.  It couldn't move, and so ended their match.  But they had a second chance, so they used their waiting time to bend up the edge of that piece of steel ever so slightly, so it couldn't get stuck again.  They lost that second match anyway, after taking a hit so hard it shook the batteries loose. Another opportunity for improvement.

They are learning to use power tools. How to program. They're working in a team with a common goal. These are all  practical skills that translate into the real world, not just the world of combat robots.  And there's one more thing, related to the S word.

Combat robotics is a male world, to be sure.  Young adult male, mostly, but there were some middle-aged dads working their 'bots, too. No matter the age of the competitors, they compete as equals.  Each team has a table with all their stuff all over it.  It's a mess of screws, metal, batteries, fuses.  They walk around and talk, give advice, loan parts as needed.  It's competition at its friendliest. I suspect that the older gentlemen were particularly pleased to advise our team - the youngest of the bunch.

Also not our robot. We didn't get all those sparks.

We left our boy with his team after the second match, thinking that was the end for them. But they got a third try, which they also lost.  They came in third place... out of three contestants in their class.  But they were happy; they did better than last year - that robot never even moved.

I don't have many photos and I don't have permission to share them.   But imagine my favorite: our team standing with the team that beat them in their last match.  They are holding a mangled piece of metal; the opposing robot had "shredded it off," as my boy said.  Our team signed it and gave it to the victors for a souvenir.  They hope to meet again in the spring.  You can believe our boys will be working hard to improve their robot so they can have a better showing next time.

Would you have counted this as a school day?  I did.

What activities that you're involved in with your kids make you shake your head in disbelief?

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Saturday morning journal: What's Mom up to?

The alarm went off at 5:30 am.  Actually, two alarms went off, so we'd be sure to wake up.

My boy has a robotics competition today at a science museum downtown. His ride came by at 6:30!  They have to be there early to set up. We're going down at a more civilized hour to watch the competition.  They're "battlebots" so I'm picturing a robot demolition derby.  I hope I can get some pictures.

Yesterday while reading the Weekly Wrap-ups I was amazed, as usual, at all the cool stuff homeschooling families are doing.   But I started wondering about the moms.  Are they pouring all their creative energy into their homeschools, or do they have some left over for themselves?   What about moms of schoolkids?

What are the moms doing apart from their kids?

It's that "mother culture" idea again.   I know I was just talking about this the other day but I can't stop thinking about it.  Well, I can, and do, stop thinking about it for large chunks of time.  But I come back to it, often.

So tell me about your Saturday plans and (or?) tell me what you are doing when you are not fulfilling mom duties.  A Mom's weekly wrap-up, you might say.   I know Kerri paints and draws.  Some of you do a lot of reading.  There are great knitters out there, and seamstresses, artists, builders.

Of course if planning cool homeschooling projects is your thing, I'd love to hear about that too.  Leave a comment with a link to your own post, if you like.

Now, while the rest of the family is still asleep, I'm going to read my Bible a bit (I'm in the book of Isaiah) and then some more of Black Lamb and Grey Falcon.  After they are up and I can make some noise, I might work a little on a quilted wall hanging that's been kicking around for about a year.  It's fall fabrics and I'd like to get it done and up before it's time to decorate for Christmas! 

Later I might mess around with the Facebook page a little.  Oh, and that book review I mentioned the other day? Well, turns out the book and I were mismatched.  It was sort of a review/promotion idea and I found I couldn't promote the book.  So my career as a book reviewer is over, at least for now.  It was fun while it lasted!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Weekly Wrap-up: The as-normal-as-it-gets edition

This was a pretty normal week.  Maybe a little boring.  We focused on our basics work (math, English, history, science, Latin, PE, music), had art and writing classes, and did some good reading.  I don't have any cool photos of fun experiments or fabulous projects my kids are working on.  We didn't have any field trips this week, either!  (I'm hoping to get in something good next week.) 

I wasn't going to post a wrap-up today because of our rather mundane week.  Photographs of Life of Fred math papers, writing class assignments, and programs for battle robots would be pretty dull, wouldn't they?  But I changed my mind because sometimes the week isn't full of fun and exciting stuff.  Sometimes we just have to stay home, sit down, and get some work done.  It can be hard sometimes to convince my kids that that's true; sometimes I have a hard time convincing myself!    But it's not always fun and photogenic.

My kids aren't big on projects anymore.  We read, write, and talk.  We talk a lot.  Some of our best homeschooling moments occur at the dinner table.   Our days of making a model of the Nile delta in a lasagne pan and a pyramid out of sugar cubes are over.  I am not sure I miss them!  They were fun days, but I like what's going on now too.

I've been talking and thinking about relevance a lot lately. My kids are at the age when the things they are learning have to be relevant to their lives.  They are asking "why" a lot more now.  Not "why is the sky blue" but "why is this important for me to know?"   But that really is a topic for another time.

Enjoy more Weekly Wrap-ups at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.   And post your own!  You don't need an exciting week and lots of photos.  I just noticed that Kris (our hostess) had a quiet week too.  We all love reading about the things other homeschoolers are doing.

Your tax dollars, not working for you

From the AP, via The Corner:

72,000 Stimulus payments went to dead people

Lots of money wasted sending $250 checks to dead people.  That's only $18,000,000.   A drop in the bucket, right? 

But think of the cost of processing each check, and then processing the returned mail.  That's a lot of money.

Of course it keeps people employed.  There is that.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Booking Through Thursday: Travel

It's been a while since I've done Booking Through Thursday but this topic is dear to my heart:

When you travel, how many books do you bring with you?  Has this changed since the arrival of ebooks?

I can dispense with the ebook question right away:  we are still a paper and ink family.  I don't know that it will always be that way.  An ebook reader would make travel easier...

Because we always pack too many books.  "We" because the seminarian is the same way. That's one of the ways we knew we were made for each other:  when we are preparing for a trip, packing the right books (in the right numbers) is more important (and more difficult) than packing the right clothing.    

But I've said all this before.  I wrote this in 2005 as we were preparing to take a month-long trip to England and Scotland:

The clothing is all piled on the floor, ready to go in the suitcases... most of the housecleaning is done... laundry is under control...

Now, what should I take to read?

I think it's down to: Sense and Sensibility (Austen), Johnson and Boswell's Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland and Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides With Samuel Johnson, The Heart of Homeschooling (Klicka; a freebie from joining HSLDA) and of course my Bible and new study book Becoming a Woman of Prayer. Oh, a Tabletalk magazine, too. We've been getting it for a while, though I never read it. Now's the time. Maybe.

For the readalouds with the kids: Mr. Pipes and the British Hymn Makers (Bond; a re-read but we may get to visit the real city in which the fictional story takes place), Black Beauty (Sewell), and The Enchanted Castle (Nesbit). Wanted to take Duncan's War (Bond, story of Scottish Covenanters) but there don't appear to be any girls in it, so Eleanor would object.

Of course I suppose it's possible we might find a book or two to buy while we are there.  

Our kids were 6 and 8 then, so they weren't taking their own books. The 8-year-old wasn't really a reader yet. The 6-year-old taught herself to read on that trip, after discovering that if she could read for herself, she wouldn't have to rely on me to find the castle gift shops.

Visit Booking Through Thursday for more thoughts on books and travel.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Fun stuff going on.

Tonight I set up a Facebook page for Two Kid Schoolhouse.  There's nothing there yet, and I am not sure what I'm doing, but hey, you could come check it out.

My next project is to get that big "F" Facebook button for the sidebar.  But I have a few other things to do tonight that might be more important, like taking care of my family and reading a book I've been asked to review.  (More on that later, but, wow, I was asked to review a book!)

This is all part of my effort to keep learning and not be a clueless middle-aged internet dinosaur.  (Back in my day, we just had newsgroups!  And we were happy to have them!).  Yeah, I know - too late.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Butterfly memories

I was looking through some old photos and found a treasure.

Butterfly release day!

How many of you homeschool moms recognize the butterfly house?

We bought it, a bunch of caterpillars, and some sort of food from a website. Or maybe a local store. This happened six years ago!

We watched the entire processes, then took the butterflies to a park to set them free.  We decided the park had more nice flowers for them than our backyard.  Or maybe we were worried the kids would see a dead butterfly and cry over their pet.

It was such fun.  They still talk about it and we still have the house.  Maybe we should get some more caterpillars and do it again!

Bonus froggie for your viewing pleasure.

This post is linked to Outdoor Wednesday at A Southern Daydreamer.

Chocolate Chips in the Utensil Drawer

If I ever write the story of my distraction-filled, disorganized life, I think that should be the title.  Because that's what I found this morning while looking for... something.

Or maybe I should write a book of homemaking advice.  My first question could be "Is it safe to defrost a beef roast on the computer desk overnight?"

I didn't actually leave the roast overnight.  I took it out of the freezer and stopped by the computer to shut it down for the night.  About an hour later, as I was falling asleep, I sat up, secure in the knowledge that I had pulled the roast out of the freezer but unable to remember putting it in the refrigerator.  I checked around, and there it was, sitting on the computer desk.  It did pass the rest of the night safely defrosting in the fridge.

Or maybe I should do some research on the tupperware problem.  Why do I have so many containers, and so many lids, but so few that actually go together?

I have a lot of work ahead.

Top Ten Tuesday: mothers and their intellectual lives

I know I'm not the only stay-at-home mother who feels like my brain is turning to mush sometimes. Even though I am learning alongside my kids in the process of homeschooling them, I don't pay much attention to my own intellectual life.  I don't read as much as I'd like to; I don't learn new skills very often.  So in an attempt to buck myself up, here's a top ten list of reasons mothers should keep themselves sharp.

1.  "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." - Matthew 22:37   The more we know, the more we can glorify God.

2.  We are our children's role models.  If we aren't reading anything more than magazines, why should our kids?  If we don't bother to learn new skills...

3. We might be a role model for our husbands, too.  My father wasn't a reader, and while I won't say that grieved my mother, it did bother her a little.  He could say he was too busy working for his family, but, that's never true. Everyone has some time in their day, even just a little.  I know he did.

4.Or, maybe we could be better, more interesting companions to our husbands.  If your husband is interested in politics and likes to talk about it, but you can't because you don't know and don't care... 

5. How about: just for the joy of it?   Acquiring a new skill, reading a satisfying novel, or learning something we didn't know before can just give us pleasure. 

6. How old will you be when your kids are up and out?  I'll be pretty old, but maybe not too old to go back to school or back to work.  Many women are empty-nesters by their early 40s.  What then? 

7. Do you ever feel like all you can talk about is your kids?   And maybe the dog?   Isn't there something else you'd rather talk about sometimes?

8.  Staying sharp can help you avoid dementia

9.  Are you a grandmother?  OK, I'm stretching now because this is the pretty much the same as #2, but... grandkids need role models too.

10. Learning refreshes the mind.   (Yes, this is a lot like #5. Top Tens can be hard.)  We can go away from our duties for a little while and come back refreshed.  Don't you feel better if you have a break from homeschooling and homemaking, even for just a little while?  This is the concept of "Mother Culture," the idea that mother needs to learn and refresh herself alongside her children. Some people think of bubble bath and manicures.  That's fine, but wouldn't expanding your mind be more satisfying?

But before you click out to read about Mother Culture, tell me:  how are you taking care of your mind as you raise your children (and homeschool, if you do)?  If you are finished with that part of your life, what did you do?  What would you do differently?

Monday, October 04, 2010

Menu Plan Monday: October 4

Last week I totally messed up my menu plan.  How?  By just typing it up and posting it and not writing it on my paper-and-pencil menu plan.  It was as if I hadn't planned at all.  See all those blank spaces?

The lunch column is blank too.  I'll mention that later. 

Planning is useless if the plan isn't available or doesn't work.  It doesn't occur to me to look on the blog for my meal plan.  It's supposed to be on the refrigerator, attached with the Challenge Butter magnet.

Today I did it right.  Here's my version of right:

I clear up the kitchen table and create some space for myself. I gather my supplies:  sharpened pencils, a few cookbooks and my recipe notebooks, my grocery list, and my meal planning sheet.  It's just a document I created in about 12 seconds.  There are beautiful printables to be found but this works well for me.  I guess it's possible I'd do a nicer job with a pretty colored planning sheet, but I doubt it and I'd also feel guilty about the unnecessary expense of color printing.  

Then I sit there and muse on what we'd like to eat, what's going on this week that might affect dinner, and what we have in the freezer, fridge, and pantry.  I ask my family what they are in the mood for.  Meatloaf?  NO!  Fried rice with tofu?  One yes, one "please can't we have meat?   I need meat!"    Then I write it all up.  I erase a lot.

I decided that on my next printing I'm going to change that useless lunch column to a place for notes, like "soccer practice 6 - 7 pm" and "defrost meat for tomorrow."  I am never going to plan out lunches unless we are having company.  My kids are working on a "lunch list" of foods they  like.  So far I think it has mac and cheese and pizza on it.  Helpful!

So here is next week's plan:

Here is it in a more useful form, with a lot of links to recipes this week.  Because I actually took time to plan it out, I am using recipes! 

Monday:  Cilantro chicken, rice, sauteed red bell peppers.  This is a truly wonderful recipe from The Splendid Table.  You should sign up for their email newsletter, Weeknight Kitchen.  I love getting recipes in my mailbox, don't you?

Tuesday:  Beef stew.  Everyone is excited about that because it means the weather is cool.    I think I will try this recipe from Williams-Sonoma.

Wednesday:  Randy's Sunday Night Fried Rice, with tofu.  Ooops, I have to go back to my menu plan sheet and add "cook rice for tomorrow" in Tuesday's notes column. 

Thursday:  Cochinita Pibil, a gorgeous pork recipe from Simply Recipes, which is another site you should be reading.

Friday: Curried Ground Turkey with potatoes, also from Simply Recipes.   This is the only way I can use ground turkey with my family.  It is so unbelievably good.

Saturday: Chicken with green olives, a recipe from Pioneer Woman.  I keep seeing references to this recipe on other menu plans and thought I'd better check it out.  Wow.  It sounds really good.  I'd move it up to Monday but I have a huge bunch of cilantro I need to use or lose.  

Saturday: Beef barley soup.   Not much else to say about that.

What are you eating this week?

Linked to Menu Plan Monday at I'm an Organizing Junkie. If you can't figure out dinner after checking out this site, you aren't trying very hard.

Homeschool Showcase

Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers hosts the Homeschool Showcase.  The showcase is a place to:

spotlight all the encouraging, inspiring and just plain fun ways that homeschooling families live and learn together
I have been checking it out for a while but couldn't come up with a post to submit until this week.  Hm, what does that say about my homeschool?

Check it out; there are lots of great posts to read.  Maybe you will be inspired and encouraged too. Plan ahead to contribute to the next showcase; submissions end on Sunday, October 17.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Homeschooling the frequently-sick child

"Homeschooling the chronically-ill child" flows better as a title.  But chronic illness implies a diagnosis, and a name for the disease.  I don't have either, and I don't want to think of my child as chronically ill.  But...

My family is recognizing an anniversary this month.  It was in October of 2009 that we took our boy to the doctor to check out an upset stomach that wouldn't go away.  Not just an "I don't feel so great" upset stomach, but nausea so severe he sometimes felt unable to do anything for days at a time.  Sickness so bad he skipped fun activities, including two highly-anticipated and desired Scout campouts.  That's pretty sick.

In November he was diagnosed with a sinus infection and allergies; those were assumed to be the cause of the nausea.  After many rounds of antibiotics  and other medicines (and no relief), he had sinus surgery in April.  It wasn't till June that he seemed finally to be getting a little better. August brought him long stretches of feeling great. We thought it was over!  Then, a few weeks ago, that bad feeling started again. 

Many children have serious chronic illnesses; more serious than my child's.  As far as anyone can tell, he hasn't any life-threatening condition.  He's just sick a lot, and we can't figure out why. But we have to live with it, and adjust to it, while we try to determine what's going on.

I wonder what it would be like if he went to school. Would we force him to go when he felt terrible?  Would he miss enough days that the school would give him a private tutor?  He'd have to make up missed work, and he might get held back at the end of the year.  I suspect that's what would have happened last school year, since he was sick so much.

But we don't have to do that.

We can work when he is well, and take things easy when he is not.  We can focus on reading and talking when he isn't up to anything else.  We do a lot of talking; talking is a great way to learn.  We can do things that engage him to the point he can forget being sick for a while.  We can work together on a math lesson so I can be sure he understands the concepts, even if he doesn't do all the problems. We can watch a science documentary, talk about it, and do some research. 

And even if he is too sick to "do school" we encourage him to attend other activities he enjoys.  That seems backward, doesn't it?  I should say, "if you can't do school, you can't do the fun things," right?   But even kids have responsibilities beyond math homework and history tests. He is a patrol leader in Boy Scouts; he has to be at the meetings.  When his robotics club is getting ready for a competition, he has to show up to get the work done. So he might miss his writing class (he can make up the work later) and feel too sick to do much other work, but he'll "push through the sickness" to fulfill these obligations.  Yes, they are fun, and it's easier to push through when something is fun.  But they are also important. 

It's not the way I'd like to run my homeschool.  But it's the way I have right now.  When I want to feel sorry for myself and my kid, I think of families with devastating illnesses who are carrying on the best they can.  We may have a kid who is sick a lot, but we are so blessed in so many ways.  One of those is our ability  to homeschool in a way that works for us during this time of sickness.

How do you handle frequent sickness - chronic or otherwise - in your homeschool?

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Saturday morning journal: Fall is finally in the air!

I am so happy:  I had to put on a sweatshirt to stay warm on this morning's dog walk.  Oh yeah.

No relaxing this Saturday for me.  In 15 minutes I'm off to fulfill my soccer mom volunteer duty at the snack bar. I expect my day will be pretty similar to last year's.  It's only 2 hours, and I'll get the see the end of my girlie's game.  I will also be my own first customer, as I have not even made coffee yet. 

I did take time to dip my toes into Inspired to Action's Maximize Your Mornings Challenge.  All I have done so far is use the prayer calendar to focus my prayers for my children.  I hope to get into it more before the month is over!  Check it out.

Then it's off to a local community festival where I will help in my church's booth. We just hope to talk to people about the gospel.  I am a little nervous as I've never done this sort of thing before.  But my job is mainly to hand out flyers and talk to people, so it shouldn't be too hard.  For as long as I can remember people - including strangers - have felt the urge to spill their guts to me. So I expect to be busy.

I hope to have some time to do a little yard work late this afternoon, in the cool, cool, fall weather!

What are you doing today?  Leave a comment; including a link to your own post about your Saturday.  

And I'm off!  Have a wonderful Saturday.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Boy books: Christian historical fiction

Sometimes the best thing we can say about a Christian novel is that it's "safe."  We can hand it off to our kids without worrying that there will be inappropriate content.  But we want more than that.  We want well-written books!  Douglas Bond writes the kind of books we want. He is a prolific writer, but these related series are particular favorites of my boy. These are roughly for the 9-12 age group, though he will be 13 when reads the last of the second series.

The Crown and Covenant series is set in Scotland and follows a family of covenanters as they fight for religious freedom.   Click the picture for more information about the book.

I read the first book aloud.  I thought he'd immediately start to read the next book, but he didn't.  I wondered if he didn't like it.  Then one day he picked up the first one, reread it, and quickly devoured the rest. 

We tried to get my daughter interested but there weren't enough girls with major roles to interest her. 

I have to admit I do like being able to hand a book over and not worry that my child will encounter something I'd rather he didn't.  It is hard to find books like that as kids get older.

The Faith and Freedom trilogy follows the same family, now in pre-Revolution America as well as Scotland.

He read these very quickly.  He always has loved a good story!


He liked this series slightly better than the first one, but could not tell me why.  It doesn't really matter!

This is the third book in the trilogy; we don't have it yet but will get it for him soon. 

Have you found good historical fiction (Christian or not) for your pre-teen or teen boys?  I'd love to hear about it.   What adult books have you found to be appropriate for your young men?

Linked to Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon.

Weekly Wrap-up: Distraction edition

This was the week of distractions:  An orthodontist appointment.  A sick child.  A car needing service.  A women's ministry meeting at church.  Documents and letters to be written and emailed or faxed. 

How am I supposed to fit in the homeschooling?

Some weeks don't seem as productive as others.  I don't like being pulled away from my kids during the day. I want to be available to them, to help them in their independent work when they need it, and to read science and history and literature to them. In my darkest moments, I know that if they were in school they'd have the full attention of their teachers at every moment; they'd never have to wait for  help with a difficult math problem or do something on their own because their teacher was too busy. 

Oh, it might not work out that way, you say?

The highlight of the week was a viewing of the IMAX movie Hubble.  We hadn't set out to see an IMAX movie this week, but we had to go to the Franklin Institute, a science museum down in Philly, to pick up a membership we'd gotten via a great internet promotion.  We went right after the orthodontist visit in which I learned that my girl needs braces now, and headgear soon.  We needed something fun after that.

The move was fabulous but the conversation afterward was even better.  All throughout the movie I was thinking about the incredible universe God created.  The images I saw and the information I learned just made it more obvious that there is a Creator.  Afterward, I was so happy to hear my kids relating the same thoughts, unsolicited by me. We spent a lot of time talking about space, God, and creation. We mused on the idea that the universe just came about randomly and wondered how anyone can believe that, given what we see every day.  (Your mileage may vary on that, and we won't hate you if that's the case.  We won't understand you, though.)   The talk went on and on.

When we got home I was able to put my hands on this book on our shelves, now apparently out of print:

This book is by the same authors:

The Hubble also has a mention in the Usborne Internet-Linked Science Encyclopedia (Usborne Internet-Linked Discovery Program) which leads to Hubblesite and more information.

So was it a productive week after all?  My children moved forward in their skills; maybe not as much as I'd have liked.  They also moved forward in their knowledge and understanding of the world, our place in it, and God's role in it.  Not so bad for a week with a distracted mom and a sick kid, eh?

See more weekly wrap-ups at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.   

Another sign that everyone is losing their minds

From CNN:

Spanish fathers entitled to breastfeeding leave

It's unfair, don't you know, to let the mothers have time off during the workday to nurse the babies and not let the fathers have it too.