Friday, May 25, 2007


It's the birthday come down day, and tempers are short. I think I've mediated fifteen spats today. Can you say



Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I admit to being a very fearful mother when Atticus was born. I had normal second-time mom anxieties: will I love this baby as much as my first? How will I handle two? Will my children love each other? Will I feel too stretched?

Now, as he stands on the cusp of his seventh birthday, I realize that all those fears were perfectly well founded.

You're picking your jaw up off the floor now, wondering how in the world a mother of three (a mother of three who wants more kids!) can possibly say these things. Very easily, actually.

Do I love Atticus as much as I love Jo? As if you could possibly love two people in the exact same way! One of the biggest fallacies of motherhood is that we love all of our children "the same." How is that possible? There is no way that I can love Atticus with the mother/daughter kinship I feel with Jo, just as there is no way that I will ever swell with love for Jo in the same way that I do when I see Atticus revealing a little bit more of the man he will someday be. The love of a mother is very much like the old standard for institutionalized racism: separate but equal. Atticus taught me that as I watched his personality emerge over the early months and years of his life as my eldest son. You can love two people fiercely ... you just love them where they are.

I was terrified of somehow falling behind in juggling two children. Here's the truth: if you micromanage every detail of every day, yes, you will find that anything more than one child is too much to ask. When you begin to accept that pants can be worn for more than one day and that you are by no means entitled to an eight hour stretch of uninterrupted sleep every night, you begin to see that the problem is you--not the number of children you have. Atticus showed me that.

Another worry was whether or not my children would connect in the way that would keep them close well into adulthood. While I can't say that we've crossed the line that I can point to and say with absolute certainty that they will always be siblings and best friends, I can say that this fear is one that I have found to be a bit within my control. While the Lord clearly made my children with complimentary personalities, He also gave me some great tools for ensuring that they treat each other with love and respect. Atticus' huge, soft heart doesn't hurt, of course. He is willing to suffer just about any indignity at the hands of his beloved big sister: he has been coerced into tea parties and pony games since birth, after all. On the other hand, his sister adores him with an almost epic devotion. Logan would fight to the death for either of them. (On our bad days, I actually fear that someday he will.)

And finally, as I looked at my big belly on May 24, 2000 and wondered about whether or not I would feel overly extended in parenting two children ...

Atticus has taught me that if you do not feel stretched in your parenting, you are probably not committing your whole heart to the process. Motherhood is not a gentle walk in the park; if it was, what would be the point? The entire act would be completely narcissistic. The idea of self-sacrifice is what makes parenthood an admirable calling--to willingly lay down every right, every desire and to pick up the the care and nurture of someone else for the sake of nothing but their eventual well-being. This is something that I never would have learned if it had not been for Atticus. Having just Jo allowed me to still keep an eye to myself. But the gift of Atticus showed me that this needy little man deserved so much more than a momma who worried about whether or not she was going to get to finish that story she was working on.

My oldest son has a heart made of something more pure and yet more vulnerable than most. I can't imagine the plans the Lord has for it; something that innocent and soft in the world is a frightening thing to me. There are days I would actually prefer that his emotions were held firmly in check, that his fears were buried under a bit more bravado. Atticus at his best is a goofy, jumping jack of a boy giggling for all he's worth. Atticus at his most sensitive is a trembling heap of little boy flesh frozen by what he thinks might possibly happen. Atticus is the boy who asks needs to understand the orbit of the earth around the sun to feel secure in the firmness of the earth, the one who must understand the surfactant of human lungs to be sure he is actually breathing. This takes a toll on a mother who is distracted, but on a good day ... the depth of understanding and the genuine awe of creation is almost too much to bear.

So while I look at Atticus turning seven and wonder where his anxious spirit will take us over the next few years, I also remember how deeply rooted my own fears were as I felt the grip of the contractions that would eventually bring him to us. And I can clearly see how easily they were defeated, with just prayer, time and faith. I know that Atticus will learn this same lesson. I am honored to watch him walk that journey.

Happy birthday, Atticus.

Monday, May 21, 2007


Logan turns five tomorrow. This is something to celebrate, because three years ago, I couldn't have told you if either of us would ever make it this far.

I could pull out all the nasty little things that I hear parents label their kids right over the little ones' heads and give you a more complete picture of who my little Logan was at two, but I won't. I believe very strongly in the power of words. Instead, I will tell you that Logan was a very determined little boy who had to learn to reconcile his wants with the level of obedience and self-denial required to interact with other people.

Logan was a toddler who did all of those uncivilized toddler things that make parents cringe. I was a mother who had absolutely no idea what to do to tame what I saw as a sin nature run completely and totally amok. I can't count the number of times I cried over him, for him or with him. I spent the better part of eighteen months fairly certain that I would fail my son--certain that there was no way that I could help him to be who it was that God had designed him to be. I had visions of him hating me as an adult. Worse, I couldn't shake the fear that his lack of respect for authority would translate into a complete lack of faith.

Midway through Logan's third year, I found that my prayer had shifted. It was no longer about my son; instead, I was now praying that God would change me. "Make me the mother he needs, Lord. Show me how to help him. Let me see what he sees." The shift was pivotal. Just as Logan found his voice and began moving into the larger world of communication, I felt my role in his life finally make sense.

See, Logan is what I now think of as a passionate child. He has emotions that bubble up and overflow, and frankly, the mess splatters far from the pot. But the other side of that heat is a way of seeing the world that goes beyond anything I have ever experienced in my life. The world my Logan lives in is one where love is complete and all-consuming. Where injustice hurts more than physical pain. Where beauty is something that you must stop and breathe in, not merely gaze at. Logan feels joy so total that it must be expressed with movement and song. He feels sadness so deeply that he must withdraw and process. These are the gifts of my Logan.

My role in all of this for the past year and a half has been to act as his human thermometer. I watch Logan carefully--far more carefully than Jo or Atticus--and try to stay attuned to how his passions are running on any given day. Situations that would be speed bumps for my other children during times when they are tired, emotional, not feeling well or crabby are disastrous
for Logan. We turn down play dates when he is likely to find them more taxing than thrilling--something I never felt I had to do with my other kids. Logan is still fine tuning the art of not allowing what is inside of him to froth over onto the people around him. Until he gets that particular discipline down, my job is to give him small boot camp sessions in which to stretch himself in safety. This is a big job; it's been one of the most humbling experiences I've had in parenting thus far.

As Logan leaps ahead into the grade-school years, I see my role shifting again. I know that it's time for him to put all the things that he has learned into practice, bit by bit. Time for the mommy thermometer to stay on the shelf more often, and to allow Logan's own inner regulator to begin to bear the brunt of figuring out what an appropriate reaction is or how to handle a particular setting. It's exciting to watch him ski just along the edge of later childhood. With his many gifts, I know that he is in for some true joys and amazing disappointments as his horizons slowly expand. Thinking of Logan losing his first tooth, reading his first chapter book, becoming a big brother ... my heart beats faster knowing how fully he will appreciate those moments thanks to the fiery passion in his heart.

I am eternally grateful for the gift of being Logan's mother. I look back on the past five years in awe, realizing that I have been to the depths of places I never knew existed. I have looked into my heart and examined my own motives. I have redefined what success is. I have learned volumes from this child--things that I could never have been taught any other way.

Happy Birthday, Logan.


Since dh is actively looking for another job, I've been thinking a lot about our morning routine. This falls into the category of not appreciating what you have until is it (almost) gone, as I've been in the same morning schedule for so long that I rarely stop and think about how wonderful it is.

Morning in our house is family time. You have no idea how fabulous this is when you have young kids. Having a flip-flopped day of daddy-time ensures that dh sees the kids at their best instead of their "it's-all-sliding-downhill-where-is-my-bed?" worst.

We almost always have what would qualify as a large breakfast. There's fresh fruit of some form (strawberries, kiwi, sliced apple, grapes, etc.) every morning as a starter. The three kids and daddy tend to gather around the fruit plate while I'm cooking the main course. Over my shoulder, as I'm flipping pancakes or whipping up omlettes, I get to spy on them. Logan usually suggests a game (he's game crazy): Memory, a puzzle, Chinese Checkers, etc. DH almost always bites, and the set-up ensues. Listening to them giggle and chat in the background as I cook is truly one of the best parts of my day.

We eat at a fairly leisurely pace; dh doesn't have to be out the door most mornings until after 9, so there's no hurry. He almost always sticks around downstairs long enough to help clear up the breakfast dishes and help hand out Chore Paks. And (shhh!) most days I get a shower. Alone.

It's a pretty nice way to start the day.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Spelling their way out of a paper bag

Today was the day of the big local Spelling Bee. I admit it: I always enjoyed Spelling Bees as a kid. Why? I was good at it. Good enough to get out of class once or twice at the end of the year and hey, that was good enough for me! Mix Spelling Bees and my cute kids and it sounds like a really grand day in my book.

My children are also natural spellers. I don't take any credit for this whatsoever--there is no special method that I've used in teaching them, no intricate set of instructions or lesson plans to pass on. People often ask me what I use to "teach" spelling, and I will freely admit that I have sufficiently mangled the concept behind "Spelling Power" enough that I can really only say I use it as a glorified word list.

Jo competed for the second year in a row. The field of 15 narrowed quite quickly, and before I knew it, she was one of only three spellers left on the stage. Last year, this was where Jo caught set of the table of medals waiting on the side. I literally saw her counting the number of people on stage, then looking back at the medals with a huge grin. She stood up on her next turn and completely bombed a word that hasn't given her pause since first grade. So much for the competitive spirit!

This year was a different story. Jo hung in there to the very end ... which was, I can tell you, a long time in coming! Jo and a fifth grade boy played spelling ping pong for 45 minutes (that was 76 rounds) before he was finally declared the winner. Whew!

Jo is completely satisfied with second place; last year's third place victory was the impetus for her to set a goal that she would beat that performance. And she did!

Atticus made his very first appearance in a Spelling Bee. Our beloved, sweet little man doesn not look kindly at the spotlight. He tends to be very shy and unassuming, and public performances are verboten in his book. Frankly, I was surprised when he wanted to compete. When he announced that he would be giving it a go, I reminded him of the process and spent the next month preparing him for how to handle the stress. (Stress is a very big factor in Atticus' life.)

I have to tell you, I was very impressed when Atticus took the stage. He squirmed a little, but stood when it was his turn and spelled loud and proud. He made eye contact with me once or twice. He even smiled. I was so proud--especially knowing how heavily his little heart must have been thumping. He went three rounds, and placed fourth ... just outside of the "winner" category.

Obviously, his bravery makes him more than a winner in my book!

We came home and celebrated with a lemonade and brownie tea party in Jo's room. Logan is well enough to participate, so a good time was had by all.

Did I mention that we didn't do any other school today? Oh, yes. I am still using Spelling Bees as an excuse to play hooky!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Is it us?!

Logan is sick.


Throwing-up sick, which is never fun. He doesn't have a huge fever, but he is couch-bound and unable to keep anything down. No interest in listening to stories. No interest in the elaborate tent that his big brother made out of his part of the bunk bed in an attempt to make him smile. No interest even in my pulling the t.v. out of the closet and offering up a screening of "Carmen Sandiego."

This is sick.

I am laughing inside, I have to admit. Golly, no ... not because my baby is sick! I am laughing because lately I have been reading two very contradictory books: "Christian Unschooling," and "Managers of Their Homes." I have been trying to reconcile the two philosophies--and the two inclinations I have in my own heart. I haven't found my way through it quite yet. But clearly, today is a day of Christian Unschooling. Because there will be very little Managing of My Home for the next 24 hours, I dare say.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Submission admission

Truth time: I have not submitted any of my writing in two months.

I would love to blame this on the beautiful weather, but the fact is that it was still raining buckets eight weeks ago. No, this has nothing to do with the amount of time we've been spending outside, or how I've been making a more concerted effort to give each child more one-on-one time. Those would be really nice things to be able to say, but they'd also be lies.

The fact is that I am having a hard time figuring out what to write right now. I think it's simply the limbo-like feeling that hangs over my life right now manifesting itself in my creativity. Try as I might, I can't get my head on straight enough to write anything that makes a whole lot of sense.

Usually these dry spells entice me to drag out the forgotten pieces I've shelved. I rework them, add new perspective, tweak and fine tune. Then I send the final product out and wait for the inevitable rejection letters. By the time they start rolling in (email is so helpful in this regard!) I have moved on to a completely new story and feel much better about my talent on the whole.

This time I don't feel the urge to rework. I don't get excited at the thought of editing. And really, this lack of passion has me puzzled.

I guess I'll just wait and see what comes of it. Maybe there's a great story bubbling under the surface here. Or maybe it's my time in the desert. Who knows?

Monday, May 14, 2007


The Lord can never leave well enough alone, can He? No. He's never content to let me sit in my comfort zone and coast along, oblivious to the landmines all around me. He always wants me to grow. To change. To lean on Him more and more.

Right now He is leading me through a place where I am redefining pretty much everything. My family is poised to add a new member or two--and a new culture, too. We are helping to plant a new church, which means leaving the body that nurtured us so much in our walk. We are casting around for job opportunities to dh, which could very well mean an entire lifestyle overhaul. Sounds like enough growth to me!

But the Lord says it's not. He has been tugging me toward a deeper redefining of my role for a while now. I know what it is that He's asking for, but basically ... it scares me to bits.

I'm expanding on the ministry He has already given me and am going to gather like-minded folks around me to get a homeschool support group and co-op off the ground in our area. It's very needed. While the number of homeschoolers in our town continues to grow, there are no resources within our borders to serve or encourage them; the closest groups operate the next town over, and none are true "support groups" or "co-ops," since they are connected to private schools or public schools in some way.

This is an area of extreme vulnerability for me. I am not an exceedingly well organized person. I am not especially good at igniting passion in others. And I certainly am the least among these when it comes to knowing how to make something like this go. But I still feel the call. So I'm climbing out of the boat.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


I am a homeschooling mom.

A soccer mom (times two).

An AWANA mom (times three).

And now a 4H mom.

This one has been a new hat to don this year. Jo has taken on the raising of a show rabbit, and she's done really well.
Really well. (Yes, she's one of those girls I envied so much in school--she's good at just about everything.) Today, in her third show, she dropped slightly in her achievements: she placed Reserve Champion Fit & Show instead of Champion. Second, in non-4H speak. But she still got another gorgeous rosette to add to her impressive wall of honors. I tell you, we will need more wall space soon!

I was a proud 4H momma ... especially when I saw what happened when Jo was awarded second. The winner was a spunky blond, probably about 11 years old. This girl has placed second to Jo twice before, and each time she has shown the same grace that I so admire in people who have strived ... and come just shy of their goal. I knew when she came in this morning that she felt like she had nothing to lost; you could see how hard she had prepared in the twinkle in her eye. There were so many 4Hers in their class today that they split them into two groups--the "always a bridesmaid" girl in the first, and Jo in the second. Each of them earned a coveted "Call Back"--the chance to compete again at the Champions Table. The competition was
fierce, I tell you. When the ribbons were finally handed out to the three girls at the table, one got a blue for placing. Jo was handed the Reserve. And finally ... the other girl was given the huge Champion rosette. The girl blushed ... and then Jo threw her arms around her in the most sincere hug I have ever seen.

I wish I'd had a camera. It was the most beautiful expression of who my daughter is on the inside that I have ever seen.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Confessions of a student named Mom

I've been working on something called "awareness" and "sensitivity" for the past two years now. The truth is, I happen to be a person who is fairly immune to most slights--real or perceived. I can take quite a good bit of constructive criticism with no ill effects. I can even sit by and listen to mean-spirited attack and generally not be any worse for the wear. We won't go into how I got this way. Suffice it to say, it's a character trait that comes in really, really handy when you're submitting your personal, written work for review.

It's not such a charming attribute when it comes to inter-personal relationships. The upshot is that as one who can take the heat, so to speak, I can also dish that self-same heat. I can be absolutely brutally honest with people and really (honestly!) not pick up on how I have just walked all over their feelings. I can state my opinion and expect people to take it or leave it without feeling judged, just as I would. And I can chime in with my two cents worth at very bad times. Sound like someone you want to befriend? Probably not.

The Lord has been working with me on this. How? He put into my life not one, but two, people who are at the exact opposite ends of the awareness and sensitivity spectrum from me. The first is my cousin, who has known me since ... well, birth. Before birth actually, because she's older. ;-) Anyhow, she will freely admit that she has a tender heart. The benefit to that is that she is among the most empathetic and gentle people I know. The other is my good friend J., whose voice I have never heard go much above "library" setting. She is so thoughtful of others that she will avoid even the merest hint of possibly trading on their feelings. Both of these women are very dear to me. I share my deepest soul with them. I love them.

You know where this is going, right?

Yes, I stomp on them all the time. Unintentionally, mind you. But stomp I do. And until fairly recently, I have been clueless. The conversation would just suddenly shift, or the visit was over and there I was, not even aware that they were bruised by my ungainly advice and statements. Of course, they very rarely ever brought up the slights because ... well, they are too sensitive to point out that they were hurt. Who knows how many of these little hurts piled up over the years, unacknowledged? I really couldn't tell you.

I have been picking up on them much more recently. While I have yet to learn to control my tongue, at least I am seeing the way my words have affected other people when they fly from my mouth. And while I'll never be one of those people who has nothing to say but sugar and spice (I just don't believe God made me that way) at the very least, I can be someone who says she's sorry.

This week I've had the chance to apologize twice, once to each of my sisters-of-the-heart. When I realized how callously I had bandied my own opinions about, I felt horribly. How could I have missed their reactions in the past? The lack of eye contact? The long pause? The rush to fill in the conversation with something, anything else? How self-centered I have been for the past, oh ... 32 years?

Humble pie never tastes good. But at least I smelled it baking this time.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


A couple of years ago my mother-in-law reacted to the fact that her offspring--who were preoccupied with the raising of their own families--didn't return to the nest often enough by putting into place a fairly convoluted set of parameters. Just like Homeland Security has found it advantageous to give us a color-based warning system, my mother-in-law instituted a four-tier set of guidelines to keep in mind when planning time with her and her husband.

FAMILY TIME--This is stopping by to say hello, randomly offering to pick up Chinese and eat it at their house, or deciding to take in a movie together. Since we lived 6 hours away at the time, we were not required to have FAMILY TIME.

SPECIAL TIME--One-on-one afternoons out (planned in advance), celebrating events like graduations or the birth of a child and coming in when out-of-town relatives visited all counted toward SPECIAL TIME. We were expected to participate in SPECIAL TIME on a monthly basis.

HOLIDAY TIME--Just as it sounds, HOLIDAY TIME is the spending of official celebratory days together. The list of holidays was decided on by my mil and included Memorial Day, Labor Day and even Valentine's Day. We were expected to take part in these days, but, alas, disappointment was often doled out.

SACRED TIME--The end-all-be-all, the highest tier and show of love, was the SACRED TIME. At this level of interaction, you are showing pure out and out devotion to the family. You are barbecuing in the yard for lunch and sticking around to clean up the dishes and then doing it all over again for dinner. You are not letting anything take you eyes of the intense, bonding time you experience with your family. Above all, you will not share this time with anyone outside of the family. You will want to set aside entire weekends for this, because ... well .. it's SACRED TIME.

At the time--with a baby on my hip, one in the womb and a preschooler scribbling on the table--I was more than flustered when the on-high resolution came down. "You will drive 6 hours one way at least twice a month to show that you are a part of this family!" flabbergasted me. My family is a lot of things (close-knit occasionally being one of them) but demanding, they are not. No one had ever in my life laid down the law on how and when and where and why I would participate in the act of being a good family member. Especially not with an actual hourly list of expectations attached.

We moved cross-country shortly after that, so in reality, the new rules of the game barely affected me. I know that the general set-up is still in play, though, because my mil will ocasionally slip and let us know that B. and G. came over for SACRED TIME, or point out that we are seriously delinquint in HOLIDAY TIME.

I can't say that I understand setting up an entire system outlining how to spend family time. But I can say now that I understand the motivation. While my own little nestlings are barely sprouting feathers, I am all too aware that soon enough, they will be flying solo. Taking longer and longer flights into the unknown. Making nests of their own. And yes, failing to return to the place where I nurtured them and loved them so freely and so well.

Yesterday, my friend J. and I were talking about how our boys, in particular, will grow. They will change physically and grow stubbly facial hair and tower over us. They will get sweaty and dirty and strong and tall. They will no doubt plant kisses on the tops of our heads and pretend to pick us up from time to time, just for laughs. Just writing this makes my heart want to burst ... because, of course, there is always the shadow of a chance that they won't.

My little birds could fly just as far and as wide as anyone else's. Or perhaps they will find roosts close enough by, but be busy with work and family and friends so much so that there is very little time for me in their "we."

Someday, I could be the lonely momma who feels at her wits' end. The mother who, perhaps late at night--perhaps in tears at a birthday that everyone forgot or a special day that passed by with no phone calls--scrawls out guidelines for how my children are to show me their love. I could feel forgotten. Abandoned. Unloved.

These are the things I think about as Mother's Day approaches. I'm not assuming that they will happen, mind you. I'm praying really hard that they don't, taking all the steps to ensure that we are as connected a family as you can find anywhere. But I am haunted by the fact that my mother-in-law didn't suspect, in all her years of mothering, that she would some day be writing down lists of how to spend time with her, either. She went about the day-to-day of her working mom life, assuming, all along, that in the end, as her grandchildren came into the world, there would be time enough to stop and finally enjoy the fruit. There would be long days of reveling in the good things that motherhood brings.

But none of us can be sure that that will ever come. We plant the seeds. We water. We tend, we support, we prune. But we can not make the garden that is our family flower. It's not in our hands at all.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

The cast of characters

If you're a reader who has followed me over from my HSB page, then skip right over this post. If not, well then ... introductions are in order. Below you'll find a quick snapshot of my family. And, don't worry. All names have been changed to protect the less-than-innocent!

First of all, there's me. I'm encroaching on my mid-thirties, live in the green and drizzly Pacific Northwest, am losing my Southern accent at an alarming rate and spend my free time reading, writing (both fiction and nonfiction), knitting, cross stitching and taking really long, really hot baths. As a matter of fact, the latter hobby has become so much a part of who I am that anyone who knows me very well makes it a point not to call me between the hours of 8 and 9 p.m. because chances are good that I am enjoying my nightly hydrotherapy.

My dh is firmly in the mid-thirties, something he is a little shocked at, I think. He is a massive football fan. No, not the kind of football with the oblong-shaped ball and the men patting one another's rears. The other football--we Yanks call it "soccer." My husband is a journalist who is actively involved in our homeschool and who manages not only a full-time job but two kids' soccer teams and a recreational team of his own. In addition, he is the (unpaid) Outreach Pastor is the church we are helping to plant.

To rid myself of the pesky labels that go along with blogs, I have given each of my children code names. It's just too much stress on my brain to remember things like "dd9" and "9g." Plus, it's really impersonal and well, I hate that. So, allow me to introduce the stars of the show:

Jo is our 9 year-old daughter. I picked this particular moniker because my little girl has a fascination with "Little Women." She is definitely a "Jo"; she is spunky, she is frightfully intelligent and she strains under the burden of becoming, someday, a lady. Jo is one of those kids who needs very little direction in schooling beyond a rich environment. Left to her own devices, she has learned an encyclopedia's worth of information about anything that catches her fancy. She is currently focusing those passions on raising and showing her 4H project rabbit and writing family newspapers.

Our oldest son reminds me of the character of Atticus Finch in "To Kill a Mockingbird," so I call him Atticus. At just-shy of 7 years old, he is an intense little man with a strong, innate sense of justice and an inner drive to do the right thing. Atticus, too, is a strongly self-directed learner, though his interests are mostly in scientific fields. He loves astronomy and ornithology, especially. His biggest challenge is remaining an individual amidst the two very strong personalities that sandwich him in the birth order; Atticus is amazingly smart and sensitive, but lets his sister and brother have the spotlight most of the time.

If you know anything about Wolverine in the X-Men comics, then the next name will make total sense to you. I call my youngest son Logan. Logan's dominating characteristics are his fierce individualism, his passionate, artistic nature and his almost inhuman pain tolerance. At almost-5 years old, Logan doesn't care too awful much for book learnin'-- though he reads and does difficult mental calculations with ease. Logan is far happier with a paint brush in his hands, or chunks of cut wood that he can assemble into a complex fort structure.

In addition to the three children we have already been blessed with, we are currently awaiting placement in the foster/adoption process. As soon as we know who we'll be adding to the family, I'm sure I'll start picking their personalities apart so that I can give them code names, too. It's a tradition, you know. :-)

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

I didn't *want* to move my blog, but ...

I haven't been able to successfully sign in to my homeschoolblogger account for a couple of weeks and am finally at my wits end. It makes me sad--I really loved being there. Ah, well. This is the official new home of Books and Bairns. Enjoy!