Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What should I say?

Blogging has been on my mind a lot... I visit my page at least once a day, but I can't seem to think of anything interesting to write about. So... I think I'll just write about things as they sort of pop into my head (at least for a few minutes).

I hope Tricky is able to go to sleep without me kneeling at her bedside. I feel bad for telling her I'll be right back when I know I will only return once she's asleep.

I dread meeting with a certain client tomorrow.

I hope Richard gets home from his bar meeting safely. He was elected President tonight!

The kids had their Happy Birthday Jesus party at school today. Anyone who knows me knows I can't stand that sentiment. Along with all the commercialism of the holiday season, making birthday cakes and singing Happy Birthday to Jesus seem to trivialize one of the holiest of holidays by making it seem like any other birthday. I just don't like it.

This year, we're doing our decorating in accordance with the teachings of our Church. We are celebrating Advent this year. We'll put up the tree on Christmas Eve day. It is truly making me feel the importance of the birth of Christ. I'll be in the Christmas spirit on Christmas Eve - for now, I'm in the Advent spirit.

That said, I'm mailing out 60 Christmas cards tomorrow. I hope...

Speaking of things I need to do -
Buy the items I chose to donate to the local battered women's shelter
Clean off my desk
Box up the presents for the relatives we won't see this Christmas and mail them before Saturday
Ask Nonnie what I can bring for Christmas Day dinner
Practice Dona Nobis Pacem with the kids
Print and frame pictures from Tricky's first 2 years
Finish printing calendars (Michele... the printing isn't working like I thought it would... sorry)
Mentally prepare for the office outing on Friday
Help Casey with her piano work
Finish the pile of laundry

I wonder how my father-in-law is doing today. I wonder how my mother-in-law is doing today. I never updated my blog with what has transpired with my husband's father. He has no brain stem injury. He is still on life support. The doctors are trying to figure out what is wrong - what is causing him to have no voluntary muscle control (and no reaction to stimulus). I mean, there is something going on other than the injuries directly sustained by his accident. Please pray for him, and for my mother-in-law, and for my husband and his three brothers.

Okay, I guess that's enough. I'm going to cozy up in bed and watch a movie on Netflix On Demand while awaiting my love's return home. (By the way, we watched Planet B-boy on Netflix last night. For a documentary about an international breakdancing competition, I was pleasantly surprised. I actually expected I'd fall asleep, but I had fun - and Richard had the funniest little boy grin on his face during the entire movie.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tricky's 2nd Birthday

My little Tricky turned 2 yesterday. Unfortunately, we received some very sad news about her grandfather so festivities were absent. I'm hopeful that we may celebrate her passage into little-girlhood within the next couple of days.

Until then... Happy Birthday little one!!!

My absence explained...

Two weeks ago today, my father-in-law("FIL") had one of those freak accidents you hear of from time to time. He was standing on a flat carport, cutting limbs from a tree. A particularly large limb he was cutting must have been under a lot of tension. When he cut that limb, it snapped and hit him in the face. A neighbor who was outside heard the crack and turned to see my FIL holding his hands to his face. Blood was everywhere. Then, probably because he was disoriented, my FIL fell headlong from the carport onto the concrete below. The neighbor, who is an EMT and his wife, a nurse, ran over to help my FIL.

He was taken to a local hospital but quickly transported to a larger, better-equipped facility. He had multiple skull fractures, including his eye sockets; according to a CT scan, he did have some brain damage, although they said it was only to the prefrontal cortex (meaning that he wouldn't lose any motor skills, but may lose the ability to schedule and coordinate things and may not be able to experience joy); and he had broken a few ribs completely through.

We drove the 12+ hours out to Louisiana that Thursday. We were here until the following Tuesday morning. Richard and I (along with his mom, his brothers, and their wives) saw my FIL in ICU at the hospital. At first, he was intubated and unresponsive, but soon he became very responsive (kicking, pulling out the ventilator tube), he also talked to us some, albeit just a couple of words at a time. Once we left on Tuesday, we heard that my FIL was becoming disoriented, not recognizing people, etc.

My family and I went on, as planned, to Florida for Thanksgiving and then returned home on Sunday. On Monday, my FIL had to be reintubated because his oxygen levels had dropped some. On Tuesday night, my MIL called and said that he had a seizure and the doctors believed he may have had a stroke. Then yesterday, Richard called me and told me that the doctors believe my FIL was brain dead.

We drove all night out to Louisiana again where we are now. Last night, the doctors ran a test and found he did have some brain activity, but it's very minimal. He'll never be able to breathe on his own - or function in any sort of way. Knowing what my FIL would have wanted, they will probably let him go within the next couple of days.

It's so surreal. He was fine two weeks ago and now, for all intents and purposes, he's gone.

Please pray for our family...

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Black Friday

It's almost here... the biggest shopping day of the year: BLACK FRIDAY! To me, it's not about Christmas. It's Capitalism, baby!

I started getting the emails in early October. and are the two I subscribe to ( is my favorite). Last week, I printed off the lists from the stores I am most interested in visiting on Friday: Office Depot, KMart, Best Buy, Office Max. Of course, the Wal-Mart Black Friday ad just came out two days ago. [Wal-Mart has a 50" plasma Samsung television for $798! We won't be taking advantage of that deal as we grabbed one last year on a similar deal.]

I don't know if you're aware of this, but many retailers have been advertising PRE-Black Friday sales this year. Bad economy = earlier "Christmas" season (you know, it started before Halloween this year) = more sale shopping days. Of course, if you don't have the money to spend on the great deals, what good are they?

This year, we're not spending much on toys and the like for the children. Not only is the economy affecting my family's wallet, but we've also [finally] come to the realization that our kids don't need every toy out there. Not to mention, lots of toys make cleaning up far more difficult for me - and the less I have to clean up, the better! We will get one big present for the entire family (which - and this message is strictly for my husband - we will NOT open until Christmas morning) and a couple of smaller things for each of the children.

Here's the other rub for my family during the Advent/Christmas season: all three of my children and my husband have birthdays between November 1 and December 31. So many little $$$.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Trying On a New Look

I thought I would change things up a bit on my blog - to help put me in the Christmas spirit, I suppose. Also, I noticed a few blogs with the same background I had and, quite frankly, it was annoying me. Yes - I'm using a free background. Yes - I know that anyone can use that background. I don't want to be like everyone else, but financial constraints have forced me to go with FREE backgrounds.

But, I learned a little more about Adobe Photoshop when I made my header.

See! Something good came of this... I've got a new background AND my Photoshop skills are improving!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

R2-D2 cake I made for Will's 4th birthday party.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Our Week Ending November 13, 2008

After the events of last week, we slowly got back into homeschooling this week. We'll be moving into our Ancient Greece studies within the coming weeks and we're getting warmed up with D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths. I'm so excited about our history studies right now and the kids are really looking forward to learning about mythology.

Casey is moving right along with Language Arts. We're nearing the end of our Seton Spelling book, so I'm looking into where to go for the remainder of her first grade year (any suggestions would be appreciated).

We took a breather on math this week - we reviewed the basic addition and subtraction that Casey has been learning, but beyond that, it just didn't happen. We also didn't look at science much this past week beyond a couple of general ocean stories.

Will learned to recognize "r" this week. He also asked if he can start reading now. I explained that he needs to learn more of his letters (he knows a little over half including vowels), but hopefully by spring, we can start reading. His little face just lit up!

As an aside, I'm coming along. I returned to work this week. My boss gave me a big bear hug and even cried with me for a minute. Thank you for your continued prayers. I truly feel the love.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

What Do You Do... as an Attorney?

Friends, family and others have asked me, "What kind of attorney are you?" Good, I hope. Ha, ha!

I am also a family law attorney. At our law firm - not a big law firm mind you, but we do have 5 attorneys, so that makes us the second largest in our judicial circuit - the senior partner I work for practices solely in the area of Domestic Relations (i.e., family law). We do divorce, custody, alimony, child support, modifications of the same, adoptions, legitimation, termination of parental rights, etc.

I rarely go to court - that's what my boss does. Don't get me wrong, I've loved litigation the few times I've done it - cross-examining witnesses, arguing my case - it's a real rush... especially if you WIN! But, the stress leading up to it just isn't worth it to me. I prefer to present uncontested matters - cases where the parties have either settled or the other side never participated in the law suit.

I love going to mediation. Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution. No court. With mediation, you have a neutral party helping the sides to reach a mutually agreeable solution through negotiation. The opposing parties, and their attorneys if they are represented, are in separate rooms and the mediator goes back and forth between the parties. The mediator's role is to present each side with the offer of the other party. The mediator also points out flaws in your case and can (whether the mediator intends to or not) provide some insight into the other party's case and their litigation strategy. Mediation can take hours. A mediation I attended recently lasted some 8 hours, but we settled the case - well, we settled all but one issue, and that's fine... we'll just present that issue to the court for adjudication.

I also handle a lot of the financial issues in our cases. I prepare financial affidavits, I help determine child support, and I analyze financial records of our clients and the opposing parties. I enjoy number crunching.

One of my favorite roles is adoption attorney. I've handled a few adoption cases and the ones I have had have been very rewarding. I love seeing my clients out and about with children I helped bring to their family.

So, that's what I do - three days a week, 8 hours each day. That said, I'm ALWAYS a mommy - that is my true career goal realized! Being a part-time attorney just helps get the bills paid on time!

Monday, November 10, 2008

So...On a Scale of Pumpkin Muffins to Fettuccine?

This is my entry in the Troublesome Turkeys contest sponsored by Happy to be at Home.

Our first Thanksgiving together, my husband (then, boyfriend) and I were in school in Arkansas. Because we were hours away from our nearest relatives, I wanted to make a nice Thanksgiving meal for the two of us.

Thanksgiving staples in my family always include a turkey, macaroni and cheese, green beans, biscuits, potatoes, and pumpkin pie. This was a meal I lovingly prepared for Richard and myself. Preparing the turkey went well, as did the side dishes. The dessert was a different story.

I'd made dozens of pumpkin pies in my life, but something went horribly wrong with this one. I followed the directions on the can - or at least I thought I did. However, somehow, I wound up with too much pie filling. I poured the filling into the pre-made crust (hey, I wasn't as adventurous with my cooking in those days), but after filling the deep dish shell, I still had half of a bowl of pumpkin filling. So, I decided to make pumpkin muffins! (It seemed like a good idea at the time.)

I added some flour to the pumpkin mixture. That was it... the only ingredient I added to the pumpkin pie filling mixture. (The first mistake.) I put the batter into a muffin pan. Then I put it in the oven at 350 degrees. (The second mistake - I shouldn't have let it get that far.) After about 30 minutes or so of baking, I took the muffins out.

Oh! Allow me to digress for a moment. By this time, we had eaten our Thanksgiving meal, which was fabulous. However, the pumpkin pie didn't turn out well - it didn't cook.

Okay, back to the muffins. I placed a muffin on a plate for Richard and got one for myself. Since the pie didn't cook, we would have pumpkin muffins for dessert! Our third mistake was eating that disaster. I can't describe it, other than to say the one bite I took was quickly disposed of in my napkin. Richard couldn't swallow his either. Terrible.

To this day, I have no idea what happened to my pie. I surmise that I added too much evaporated milk, but I'm just not sure. Also, to this day, every time I mention making something other than pumpkin pie with canned pumpkin, my husband visably cringes - especially if I intend to bake pumpkin muffins. Finally, we have a scale of the likability of food I prepare at home. My husband always loved my fettuccine alfredo; and you now know how he felt about my pumpkin muffins. So, upon presentation of a new dish I query, "On a scale of pumpkin muffins to fettuccine, where does this place?"

A VERY GOOD Pumpkin Bread Recipe (No, really! It is good! I promise.) Not sure of the original source of this recipe... I got it from Nonnie, who got it from someone at church, who got it from...

1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

4 eggs, unbeaten

2/3 cup water

1 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 cup canned pumpkin

3 cups sugar

Sift together nutmeg and the next four ingredients. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix eggs, water, oil, sugar, and pumpkin.

Add dry ingredients and beat until all lumps are gone.

Grease 3 medium loaf pans and fill each 1/2 full.

Bake 45 minutes to one hour at 350 degrees.

Yield: 3 loaves

Happy Birthday, Son!

I hope you have a wonderful 4th birthday, my handsome little man! May the coming year be filled with learning new things, exciting adventures, and memories you'll be able to hold onto.

2008 Homeschool Blog Awards

Voting has begun!

Please participate by clicking the Homeschool Blog Awards link located in the right-side column. So many GREAT blogs have been nominated in the various categories.

Also, my blog has been nominated for Best NEW Homeschool Blog! Simply select the dot next to the MommyLawyer link and click the VOTE button. Your vote would be appreciated!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

November 9, 2008

O Merciful Father, whose face the angels of thy little ones do always behold in heaven; Grant us stedfastly to believe that this thy child hath been taken into the safe keeping of thine eternal love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
~Book of Common Prayer, Prayer at Burial of a Child, p. 340

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Good Night by Frances Quarles (excerpt)

Close now thine eyes and rest secure;
Thy soul is safe enough, thy body sure;
He that loves thee, He that keeps
And guards thee, never slumbers, never sleeps.

Sad Sisterhood...

My friend, Michele, left a message for me yesterday that I have joined a "sad sisterhood." Yes.

A few days ago, I posted a prayer request on my blog. I thank all of you who have prayed and, in a sense, I believe those prayers have been answered... though not the way I would have hoped.

I found out yesterday that I miscarried. (I can't even begin to describe how hard that word is to say, write, think...) I would have been 10 weeks today, but the ultrasound taken yesterday showed the baby stopped developing at 6 weeks. The really hard part has yet to come to pass, but it will in the next couple of days.

So, prayers were answered. I found out what was wrong - why things were happening to me that I couldn't explain. Now, I just need to find peace. I'm getting there.

I've had friends tell me they're sorry and they don't know what to say. That's okay - I understand. I honestly don't know what to say either. I want to say I'm sorry, too, but I don't know who I should say it to...

To myself?
To my husband?
To my children?
To the baby?

I know I didn't do anything wrong. I just feel like we're missing out on something. A life that will never be. And that's the part that is just so sad.

I was hesitant to even publish this post. I never mentioned the pregnancy, so why mention this? I mention it because it's helping me; because, in a sense, this blog is an extension of my journal that I don't mind people reading; because one day, I'll read this post with my children and explain that there was another baby... once upon a time.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Prayers, Please...

If you're stopping by and reading my blog today, will you please say a prayer for me? Thank you.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat!!!

Darth Vader, Princess Leia, and Queen Amidala - our Star Wars theme Halloween:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Our Week Ending 10/30

I feel as though this was a much more productive week than previous weeks have been (or felt, at least).

Casey is plowing through addition and has started some subtraction, too. Language arts studies (Explode the Code, First Language Lessons, R&S Phonics, Seton English 1 and Spelling 1) are continuing as scheduled. We're still studying Ancient Greece - this past Sunday, we built a campfire in the backyard and told stories of Odysseus just as they did when the stories were (relatively) new! I think the kids really enjoyed it and I enjoyed it as well, once the fire was lit, that is.

Science was our fun foray this week. Still on our Ocean study, I made a special snack: a jello ocean, complete with Swedish fish, a graham cracker beach with macaroni shells, and a paper boat.

Will is quite excited about the letters he's learning. At home, the letter for the week was t and at preschool, the letter h.

Oh! And, fully feeling my self-worth as a homeschool teacher (remember, last week I was having doubts?), we've almost finished our Elections lapbook!!! One final touch will be to add a top-folding flap with a map of the United States, which I (given that Casey will be in bed when most of the election returns are rolling in) will fill in with red and blue. The pièce de résistance of our little project.

Good week, I think!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Gone again it seems.

Well, it looks like the WTM Forums boards are down again. This episode's cryptic message:

We'll be back. Later.

As with the last time, I need someone to fill me in. Although, I have started visiting (and even posting a couple of times) again. I guess I'm just missing out on all the controversy regarding the social groups. I'm a member of a few - I even started two, but they're pathetically inactive (I'm blaming myself and my recent lack of visiting). I guess I just don't get the appeal of the social groups. I like the general board and the K-6 board the best. That's just me.

Again, let me know what brought it down this time!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Mama Y. and Granny

Someone once told me that as long as you have a grandmother, you have someone praying for you...

I miss my grandmothers. My dad's mother, Granny Clara, passed away in January 2001. My mother's mom, Mama Y., has been in a nursing home for the past 4 1/2 years.

Granny was your typical short little Southern grandmother. She often wore smock/apron-like blouses that seemed persistently covered in flour. Granny was tough - red hair and all (she liked it that color). Growing old gracefully wasn't her style - she was a worker. The mother to six children, she was constantly taking care of everyone, or at least trying to. When I spent a week or two each summer in her little trailer in the Georgia mountains, she and her sisters and I would "go to town" once a week to get groceries. (Two of her sisters lived in trailers nearby - one across the street and one down and around a bend in the dirt road.) Granny lived simply, but loved Avon. Granny gave Christmas presents to everyone even when she barely had money to buy things for herself - and when I say everyone, I mean all of the grandchildren, great-grandchildren, spouses, and other relatives. I miss my Granny. I miss walking up to her front porch and having her soft little body enveloping mine. What I would give for a biscuit, a smile and a hug.

And my Mama Y. Where to begin... She never told me, but I honestly believe I was her favorite grandchild. I am the youngest of her three grandchildren and the only child of her only daughter. My Mama and Papa Y. would take me camping with them in the summers. I remember many mornings being awakened by my daddy so that he, Papa Y and I could go fishing. Papa Y. had a stroke when I was 14 or 15 and could no longer work. Mama Y. had never handled the bills, the money, the checkbook. All of a sudden, she had to - and it scared her. Ten years later, another stroke killed my Papa. But Mama Y. still made food for Christmas dinner a month later. She always made red velvet cake for Christmas dinner. She also made me chicken dumplings without the chicken from the time I can remember until the last time she made a big meal for the family. During the summers I would spend with my grandparents, Mama Y. would show me old pictures and tell me who all the people were - but I didn't know and couldn't remember most of them. I would help her in her garden - shucking corn, stringing beans. And I watched her can, freeze, and cook more food than I could consume in a lifetime. I remember the last time I saw my Mama Y. as the Mama Y. I knew as a child... it was a week before she had the stroke which landed her in the nursing home permanently. I gave her a hug and a kiss, loaded myself, my husband, and our then only child into the car and drove away. I did the same thing I'd always done while leaving her house... I turned back to watch her go inside. And that was it... That was the last time I saw her standing, smiling, truly living.

Mama Y. doesn't know who anyone is any longer. I visit occasionally - not nearly as much as I should, I know, but it's so hard. When I go, I never stay more than 5 minutes and I cry for hours afterward. I wish she didn't have to linger, to suffer - but that's God's call, not mine. So much has happened since she went into the nursing home. People she knew and loved have passed away - and some of those deaths would be devastating to her if she knew. There have been divorces. There have been births. In addition to the five she knew of, she has two more great-grandchildren. I hope I always remember that last image I had of her - turning to go into her house as I drove away.

My oldest daughter is named after my grandmothers. We also call her a nickname which combines their names. I wish my children could have known my grandparents. Mama Y would have loved all of them, as would have Granny - even though I know my Granny had an extra-soft spot in her heart for little boys and my little boy would have fit right in.

Our hallway is lined with pictures going back 5 generations on both sides of our family. Sometimes, we stop and stare at the pictures. Sometimes Richard or I will tell the children about a particular person in a picture. I suppose it's the best we can do - share memories if we can't share the person.

So, every night before the children go to bed, we have a litany of people we pray for - the names roll off our tongues like words to a familiar song. Thirty names every night. In our household, it's not only grandmas who pray for someone. I just wish I still had my grandmothers praying for me.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Blog Award!

Guess what! I found out what my message was! It's a Blog Award from Angie at Cuppa Dangie! What an honor - I'm so happy! It really does make it feel like this blogging experience is worth it knowing someone is reading and appreciating. Thank you again, Angie!

Here are the details of the award itself:

“This blog invests and believes, in ‘proximity’ [meaning, that blogging makes us 'close' - being close through proxy] "They are all charming blogs, and the majority of them aim to show the marvels of friendship; there are persons who are not interested when we give them a prize, and then they help to cut these bows; do we want that they are cut, or that they propagate?" Then let’s try to give more attention to them! So with this prize we must deliver it to eight bloggers that in turn must make the same thing and put this text.”

Here are the details of the award Angie bestowed to me personally:

Angela makes me laugh with the pictures of her kids she posts! I like to see what she is up to and think her blog design is beautiful. I'm amazed she can juggle so many hats and even has time to blog!

As part of my award, I must pass the award on to 8 more bloggers... Let's go!

The Striped Rose. I would be remiss if I didn't include my very dear friend's blog. Of course, I get regular updates from Michele either on the phone or in person, but I also find out what's going on by peeking at her blog! Beautiful pictures of her girls, flowers, and cross-stitching abound, intertwined with writings of her beliefs and homeschool journey. She also inspired me to blog and I'm so happy she did!

Living Water Christian Academy
. Rhonda and her family have so many outings - I love to see where they'll wind up next. Pictures of nature walks and visits to the lake - Rhonda always makes me long for the great outdoors!

Litten Lamm Academy. One of my first blogging friends! Monica's site is a wonderful expression of what homeschooling a young child with an even younger one running about can entail. She also injects quite a bit of humorous sarcasm - the very best kind - in her posts (see the post about the shoes and the lack of velcro - that's my life).

Our Place. I stumbled upon Sherri's blog one day and noticed she had pictures from her local zoo. I think I might have frightened her a little when I told her my family and I had been to that zoo many times even though we don't live in that state. I believe we're okay now - and she knows I'm not stalking her! LOL. I enjoy dropping by Sherri's blog to see if I recognize other local attractions she frequents!

Knowledge House Academy. I visit Nikowa's blog often. And I was excited to see a video introduction where she pronounces her name (I was pretty close)! She's the mother of two boys and is very active in their scouting, often posting pictures. (I can't wait until my son can join up!) Thanks, Nikowa, for entertaining me with your blog! By the way, you don't sound any more (or less) southern than I do!

King Alfred Academy. Brittney's blog is so detailed with the things her children are studying - I only hope I can be thorough with my children as our homeschool adventure progresses.

Simple and Sweet. I love, love, love Lindsey's blog. Lindsey is mom to three little girls and a baby boy. Just reading her blog, you can tell she cherishes her children and their education. Lindsey, I'm jealous of the postcard project. I HAVE to do that one - so tell me how!

Our Nest of 3. Dawn always exhibits fantastic school work on her site. Her boys are SO creative - and Dawn is, too. Check out all of her beautiful handmade cards!

Alrighty... go and visit these blogs! And let all of these ladies know what a fabulous job they're doing!

Our Week Ending 10/23

The beginning of our school week, Friday, October 17, started well enough, but the remainder of the weekend was a bit rocky. Casey and Will spent the night with friends on Saturday night. Michele and I had some discussion about sleeping arrangements: Where should Will sleep? She suggested that Will and the Chipmunk bunk together... after all, they're only 3 and 4 (and I thought, wouldn't that make a funny story for them to share one day); while I suggested that Will and Casey could share a bed - they've done it before. Well, Will wound up sleeping on a sofa - if my understanding is correct - because he was keeping the girls awake, so they kicked him out!

Once the kids were home on Sunday afternoon, we continued our studies and played catch up on Monday.

I'm still working on teaching Casey about the elections process. She and her brother had both a secret ballot election (for their favorite type of candy) and an open election (to vote for their favorite kind of animal). I'm hoping we can actually get to the lapbook this weekend.

Of course, we also did math (I'm skipping a couple of lessons in Saxon 1 - she gets 0 and 1 addition), language arts, and science. As for history, I think I could stay on the Ancient Greeks for months on end. I love it!

Will is still learning his letters and is so proud! He's pointing out all of the letters he's learned and I keep reminding him that before too long, he'll start learning to read.

It was a good week, but I feel like we're slipping behind a little. Maybe it's just my own doubts, insecurities, inadequacies. Whatever they are, I just want this guilty feeling to go away! Maybe it will if we get that Elections lapbook finished!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What Has Happened at WTM Forums?!

Okay, I admit that I've been slacking on my WTM Forums posting lately - well, with the exception of posting my Wordless Wednesday for this week. I just went to the site and this strange, cryptic message popped up stating,

"The forums are off for the moment ...because the complaints have reached unmanageable levels. They will be turned back on when the moderators have time to deal with them."

So...all of you who are regular posters there: WHAT'S GOING ON?

I can only imagine that it has something to do with the imminent Presidential election. I know things have gotten pretty heated there in the recent past and threats by the powers that be were rampant that if things don't settle down, the boards would be turned off until after the election. Has that finally come to pass? The threats had some follow through? Let me know!

By the way, I noticed that I have a private unread message there, but I cannot access it. If you left it for me, let me know. Having unread mail drives me crazy!

I love my jobs!

I have to say, "I love my jobs!" Both of them...

I love being a homeschool mommy. I relish the thought of teaching my children something new, as every parent does (or, at least, should). But I feel as though I'm even more blessed because I've taken on the responsibility of their education. Of course, anyone would feel proud when another adult praises their child for reading well or excelling in math. I am even more proud because I know I introduced, developed, and honed those skills that are being praised!

I also love being an attorney - and I don't know many who do, including my husband. I'm very fortunate in my role at my office. I work part-time and I have very little stress at my job; but I'm able to interact with clients and do one of the things I love most: research. I love research - any kind of research. I'm known for popping open a window to Wikipedia if something comes up at the office and someone needs info fast.

Being a lawyer is not something I dreamed of as a child. I actually made the decision after speaking to one of my undergrad professors who pointed out that I could get a Ph.D. in History, but there's no guarantee I would secure a job. So, law school seemed like a better option - and that's what I did.

Being a wife and mother is what I dreamed of while growing up. I knew I wanted to marry a man who would want as many children as I want. I knew I wanted to be a loving, attentive, active mother.

My job at the office, which I am fortunate enough to enjoy, allows me to be the kind of mother I dreamed of being as a child. I'm happy to say: I'm living my dream!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs #10

10 Facts About Me? Oh where to begin...

1. I am an only child. (Maybe that explains my desire to have a house full of children.)
2. I am scared of the dark. I like the dark, but I'm afraid...very afraid.
3. I am obsessed with TP and paper towels being on the hook the right way. The right way is: paper going over the top. That's the way it's meant to be. For you nay-sayers...look at the print!
4. I really despise open-toed shoes. Yes, I have a few pair now, but I still don't like seeing them. Especially in winter!
5. I love to sing!
6. Every afternoon around 3:00, I start blinking funny because my contacts are killing me.
7. Speaking of contacts, without them, I can't see anything clearly beyond 5 inches in front of my nose.
8. When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to be a monkey.
9. I wish I could have a cat - but my husband is EXTREMELY allergic to them.
10. I once rode in a blimp after winning the trip from a radio station.

Okay... I don't know what you can do with that information, but there it is!

Wordless Wednesday & Office Outing

Okay... so my Wordless Wednesday isn't exactly wordless this week. I'm sorry to disappoint you if you were lured here under false pretenses.

Last Thursday, our law office went on an outing. For the three years since working at the law firm, I've heard about all these great trips they used to take - shutting down the office, going on hikes. Back this summer, I'd finally heard enough! So, I took it upon myself to schedule an outing. The date was changed a couple of times, but it wound up sticking at October 16.

We rented a Ford Expedition - because seven of us were going on the trip and we didn't want to caravan. We loaded up at 9:30 - half an hour late - ate a HUGE breakfast at a local (fabulous) restaurant then drove up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. We went on a hike - a bit more strenuous than what the boss man led us to believe it would be - but once we were on top of that mountain looking around, it was worth it!

We then traveled to a little town called Waynesville. We walked around for a while trying to decide where to eat lunch. We wound up at the place I had suggested - a little bakery/sandwich shop (I'm all about bakeries). They stopped serving lunch at 3:00 - it was 3:20. They were so nice, the fed us despite the time. Great sandwiches.... and even better desserts!

Then, we were off to Lake Junaluska. Breathtaking! Roses were in bloom, mixing with the fall colors of the surrounding mountains. (That's where the rose picture was taken.) After walking the trail that goes around the lake, it was time to go home.

It was such a beautiful day for an outing. Finally, after three years of hearing the talk, I finally got to go on one!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Red Lemon by Bob Staake

About 3 years ago, while looking for a few interesting children's books to check out from the local library, I ran across The Red Lemon by Bob Staake. More than anything, the illustrations caught my eye. I checked it out, took it home, read it to the children, and it was an instant hit! Three years later, it's a family favorite.

This morning, I read it again. I've got most of it memorized - from the sing-song rhymes to the beautiful pictures. We even have a special way of reading some of the lines and the children know all of those parts by heart.

After the thousandth or so reading this morning, I decided to do some research: Are there more books by the author? What else has he done? Does he have a website?

Yes! There are more books:

The Donut Chef (written and illustrated; published last month)
Mary Had a Little Lamp (illustrations)
This is NOT a Pumpkin (written and illustrated)
Little Golden Picture Dictionary (illustrated) [We have this one, too!]

And even more!

I also found Bob Staake's website. Available on the site is a link to print a cute cut-out house which is Staake's studio. Here's what the finished product will look like:

I also found Staake's email address and dropped him a quick line to say, "Thanks for writing such a great book." You know what? Within 20 minutes, he wrote back. Neat!

At the end of every year, I buy 10-15 copies of a book to give as presents the following year. I've decided our 2009 gift book will be The Red Lemon!

Edited to add: Richard and I were further exploring The Red Lemon site I linked above. There are games, views of the book, and red lemon recipes at the website. DH made red lemonade:

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Our Week Ending 10/9/2008

Another week down!

Casey has started studying the Oceans section of My World Science. She's excited about it. I'm excited about dissecting a starfish, but that's a few weeks away.

I also decided, given the upcoming Presidential election, it is time to discuss the election process. Casey has been quite interested in the election for the last few months, but I finally got the materials I needed to teach her about the process. One book we're using is Vote! by Eileen Christelow. Cute, cartoony book - perfect for Casey's age - about the election of a town mayor from the viewpoint of two dogs and a little girl. Casey read the typeface print and I read the dialogue between the cartoon characters. As part of our elections lessons, Casey and I (and probably Daddy and Will, too) are going to play The Political Machine 2008. It's a computer game, which makes Daddy happy; and it's about elections, which makes me happy. And I feel another lapbook coming on!

We've finally started our Ancient Greece study. I'm so excited, as is Casey. In addition to the reading in Story of the World I, Casey is reading The Greek Gods and Goddesses of Olympus by Aliki and The Adventures of Odysseus by Hugh Lupton and Daniel Morden. She's already telling her Nonnie all about Odysseus and the creatures and people he encounters. I love it when she finds a passion!

The other subjects are going well, but I think I'm about to throw in the towel on The Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading. Casey is bored with it. I'm bored with it. She already knows how to pronounce most of what the lessons cover (although she may not know "why" she knows), but she isn't going to remember all of the rules anyway. I might check her on some of the various rules from time to time, but now that we've gone through 141 lessons, I think it's time to move on to something else.

And, Casey started gymnastics this week - and LOVES it! So much so that she tried to make a vault in our living room out of a small step stool and the piano bench. I heard a crash and saw her writhing on the floor in pain. After the boo-boos were kissed and cleared of signs of breakage, I explained that we don't have the same kind of equipment at home as they do at the gym. She then proceeded to tell me that "gyn-nastics is so much better than ballet." I guess while the likelihood that she would break a bone attempting a ballet feat at this level is slim, the adventure of flipping and tumbling is far more exciting to her.

Will is almost finished with Get Ready for the Code. His preschool teacher left a note for me today that said Will knew every instance of the letter "F" as they were studying that letter this week. He can write it, identify the sound, identify the letter, and identify the pictures corresponding with the sound. Ahh... I LOVE the Explode the Code books!

Will has also recently discovered his talent for singing - he and I have even started singing a duet from a CD we got from Chic-Fil-A. I hope he keeps his love for music!

On Tricky's development front, she's decided she wants to potty train. This is not something I encourage at this age (I like to wait until around 2 1/2 years of age), but she's willing to do it, so who am I to stop her? I just dread the mess.

I hope everyone had a fabulous week!

The Big Read

I borrowed this from Michele's blog...

The Big Read

  • The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed.

    The Rules:

    1) Look at the list and put one * by those you have read.
    2) Put a % by those you intend to read.
    3) Put two ** by the books you LOVE.
    4) Put # by the books you HATE.
    5) Post.

    **1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
    **2 The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien
    *3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë
    *4 Harry Potter series - J.K. Rowling
    **5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
    **6 The Bible
    *7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë
    *8 1984 - George Orwell
    9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
    %10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
    *11 Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
    *12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
    13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
    %14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (I've read some, but not all.)
    **15 Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier
    **16 The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
    17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
    *18 Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
    19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
    20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
    **21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
    **2 The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
    23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
    %24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
    25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
    %26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
    %27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
    *28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
    *29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
    %30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
    %31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
    %32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
    33 Chronicles of Narnia- C.S. Lewis (I've read the first 3)
    **34 Emma - Jane Austen
    *35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
    **36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis -
    *37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
    38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis de Bernières
    *39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
    **40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
    %41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
    #42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
    43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
    45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins -
    %46 Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery
    47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
    **48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
    *49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
    50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
    **51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
    *52 Dune - Frank Herbert
    53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
    **54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
    55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
    56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
    57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
    %58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
    59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
    60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    **61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
    62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
    63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
    64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
    %65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas (Richard says Dumas is GREAT)
    66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
    67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
    **68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
    69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
    *70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
    71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
    ***********72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
    **73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
    74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
    76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
    77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
    78 Germinal - Émile Zola
    79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
    %80 Possession - A.S. Byatt
    **81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
    82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
    **83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
    *84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
    85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
    86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
    **87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
    88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
    %89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
    91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
    *92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery - in French
    93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
    **94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
    *******95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole (currently reading for the second time)
    96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
    97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
    **98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
    %99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl (my 5 year old is reading it)
    *100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Awards? For simply doing this?

Okay, so I'm relatively new to the blogging world... I just found out there are awards for blogging. Who knew?

The Homeschool Post, as of October 13, 2008, will begin accepting nominations for the best blogs out there - at least those relating to homeschooling. There are 24 categories, which can be found listed here. I've also got a link on my sidebar to the Homeschool Blog Awards.

So... shameless plug for Category #23, Best NEW Homeschool Blog. I think I can do that!

Happy nominating!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Little Flowers Meeting 10/4/2008

We had a GREAT Little Flowers meeting - despite the fact I forgot to look up the meaning of the word virtue.

We discussed the virtue of faith and reviewed what we had learned last time about St. Catherine of Sienna. The flower associated with faith is the sunflower - because the sunflower's face faithfully follows the path of the sun.

As one of our projects to earn a badge, we were to plant sunflower seeds. Well, it's not the season, so instead we made faux sunflower arrangements. Given that I came up with the idea as I was whizzing through Wal-Mart on Friday, I think they turned out lovely.

We set our schedule through the end of the year. We'll be discussing St. Monica, St. Agnes, Hope, and Love of God. We'll also have a sashing ceremony, a Christmas Party, and lots of fun!!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Our Week Ending 10/2/2008

We had a fun-filled, busy week!

On Saturday, we went to JapanFest. So. Much. Fun. After spending the better part of two weeks studying Japan, and armed with her lap book, Casey was well-equipped for the festival celebrating Japanese culture. We saw Sumo wrestling, ceremonial archery, a tea ceremony, and a very entertaining Japanese band called Sinatra. We also made kites, bought Japanese snacks (candy, crackers), and saw some gorgeous flower arrangements. In exchange for some of the squares she had earned, Casey got a kokeshi doll (actually, the one she got isn't made of wood). I did learn one very important thing while there: I am not a fan of Japanese cuisine.

We also covered the basics: Saxon Math (for both Casey and Will), Language Arts (spelling, Ordinary Parent's Guide..., First Language Lessons, English for Young Catholics - all for Casey), continuing to read The Odyssey to the kids, religion, and Get Ready for the Code (for Will).

Sadly, Casey was sick this morning, but fortunately, Daddy was able to stay home with her. (I had to go to a temporary custody hearing - that turned out quite well for my client!) She bounced right back around mid-morning - you know how kids are!

Also, did you know homeschoolers can sign up for Pizza Hut's Book It program? We got our materials this week. Casey has to read a book of my choice within a month and she gets a free personal pan pizza. If you're interested, you can sign up here! This month, Casey is reading Stuart Little - tonight, while going to bed she asked me if she'll get her pizza if she reads the whole book tomorrow! BTW, I'm also reading it - it's fun bonding time while we each read our own copies of Stuart Little, bundled up on the sofa together and little brother and sister are napping.

All in all, a productive week, but now I'm ready to get back to our normal routine - and get back into history!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Homeschool Memoirs: #7 Snack Foods

This week's theme is Snack Foods:

For the kidlets:
  • applesauce cups
  • yogurt
  • bananas, tangerines, grapes, apples
  • pretzels
  • popcorn
  • graham crackers
  • dry cereal
  • string cheese
  • raisins
  • Fig Newmans (yummy)
  • and, yes, cookies and brownies (hey, I'm not perfect)
For me:
  • many of the same things as the kidlets
  • cookies - Kashi is a recent favorite, but my very favorite is a nice, warm homemade double chocolate chip cookie. I love, love, love cookies.
  • Starbucks or other similarly sweet, creamy coffee concoction. Yes, I count it as a snack since I have them so rarely.
By the way, I'm not a huge fan of microwave popcorn. I actually get out a big pot, some butter, and the kernels - and occasionally, some sort of special seasoning - and I pop it on the stove top. Instead of dumping a lot of salt on the finished product, I put a little bit of salt and add some freshly cracked pepper. A GREAT addition to our Friday Family Movie Nights.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Monday, September 29, 2008

Gas Crisis

Is "crisis" the right word?

When you have to drive 20 miles away from home to find the nearest station with gasoline? When you find that station, but you're only allowed to pump $20 worth? When you wait in a line of cars for 25 minutes so you can pump that $20 of gas? When the vast majority of gas stations have plastic bags over their pumps or zeros on their price signs? When it isn't expected to get any better for another THREE WEEKS?!

I'd call that a crisis.

Lines at the pumps.

No gas here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fall is in the Air

With the windows open and the crickets calling outside, I'm relieved to find that, at long last, Fall is here. Of course, knowing the weather around here, there may be a few more days where the temp will spike to 80 degrees, but the Summer of '08 is a thing of the past. Ah, the signs of Fall:

School began over six weeks ago - that's usually part of the phase-in for Fall.

Then the overnight lows began to drop - but the daytime temps were still pretty high.

The networks began their Fall programming - not that I have TV, but I still live on the planet, so I'm aware of the television shift.

I can start opening my windows during the day and turn off the a/c - a special blessing this year given the ever-increasing energy prices.

Last weekend I started shifting the summer clothes out and purchasing and bringing the fall/winter clothes in.

Soon, I'll start making cider, apple spice cakes, pumpkin pies, and setting out the fall decorations. The leaves will turn brown, we'll wear sweaters during the day... then, before we know it, this wonderful season will have passed and we'll be in the Christmas/Winter season.

But I'll enjoy this while I can - bundling up under the covers, with the window open and cozying with my family, sipping on hot tea.

Our Week Ending 9/25/08

We spent much of our homeschooling week discussing, reading, and learning about Japan. We're gearing up for JapanFest this weekend.

We read a simplified version of Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, which forced me to explain (in first grade terms) the atomic bomb and what war is. Although, Casey and I have discussed war before, in the context of her three uncles proudly serving our country in Iraq (all 3 were there at the same time for a brief period). This time was a bit different though because the title character dies in the book. But, to make it not seem so sad, we went to YouTube and watched some video of children singing at the Sadako memorial (which is beautiful, by the way).

We also read several other books about Japan - books about the culture, clothing, government, food, etc.; and also listened to some traditional and popular music from Japan.

And the crowning achievement of our week: the Lap Book...

In bottom left-hand corner is Casey's name in Japanese. I found the translation here. From a similar translation website, I found the characters to print Japan - A Lap Book. Casey supplied the rest of the artwork on the cover. She found pictures she liked in Japan ABCs by Sarah Heiman.

Many of these templates came from these sources:

My Japanese Counting Book
The Japan Book in the center is from Enchanted Learning.

Map of Japan
Alphabet - the characters at this site are in the Alphabet flap
Japan Shutterfold Map
And many other generic country templates can be found at

The back cover is from Enchanted Learning.

We had so much fun this week studying Japan!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: 9/24/08

More pictures from our camping trip this past weekend. See this post for more on our getaway.

Notice the sign to the left (the No Horseback Riding sign) and the sign to the right (Horse Trough Falls) ... then ponder the irony.

Some of the many, many, many mushrooms we saw.

The kids

From our hiking detour

Tricky swinging from a bar in the glorified portapotty.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


Congratulations to J, M, J, and H on the birth of the newest addition to the family!

Match-O-Matic (from ABC)

Fun little quiz from to determine which of the Presidential candidates best matches with your political views. (Be sure to read the little commentaries along the way - CUTE!)

Leave a comment with your matches!

Our Camping Trip

Friday afternoon, we loaded up the car with 1 cooler, 2 tents, 3 kids, warm clothes, and smiles on our faces as we headed out to go camping.

Once we got there (2 hours after we left home - although the place we went camping was only 40 minutes away - errands, you know), we unpacked the car and set up the tents - the little tent for the kids goes inside of the huge tent.

We headed out for a brief hike, then came back to our site to build the fire, roast some hot dogs, and make s'mores.

BTW, the area where we camped was located relatively close to the restroom (using that term loosely as it had no running water, but instead uses a lever system to run the blue scented "stuff" to wash the toilet bowl). It was also beside a stream which was a very pleasant sound.

While making the s'mores, Casey insisted that we tell "spooky stories and play spooky games." We told the stories - still not quite sure what she meant by "spooky games."

The kids turned in around 9:00 and Richard and I read ourselves to sleep around 11:00. Some time later, Tricky started screaming - as she usually does - so I put her in bed with us and grabbed the down blanket she had been wrapped in. I slept quite well once Tricky was with us. *NOTE TO SELF: A down blanket over two thermal blankets make for VERY toasty sleeping.*

Yesterday morning, after breakfast, we headed out for a longer hike - much longer than we had anticipated. We found an unmarked trail and decided to follow it. [When I say "unmarked," I mean it had no trail blazes - however, it was a very well-traveled path.] We walked up, up, up - over (or under) fallen trees, dodging poison ivy, looking at all of the various mushrooms along the way.

We eventually reached a waterfall - not the waterfall we had seen before, the waterfall the camping area was named for - this was a neat little waterfall set back from the unmarked trail. We spent quite some time there, went a little further on the trail, then decided to head back.

We packed up our things and headed out. It was so much fun! I only wish that we could have had company for our camping adventure.