Wednesday, August 22, 2007

How low can you go?

It's neither summer nor fall here. The calendar says one thing, the weather another. I don't mind too much; honestly, the rain and clouds suit my mood a whole lot better than sunshine and sweat right now. At any rate, we're in that in between time where getting dressed is like balancing a set of scales: long-sleeved shirt and shorts? Short sleeves and jeans? Socks and sneakers or sandals? Should I bring a sweater? One minute you're hot, the other, cold.

Our church plant is still negotiating for a location. We're on a week-by-week basis at our current adequate-but-not-perfect meeting spot. The lead pastor approached dh (Missions and Outreach Director) this week about why our children are not in the Sunday School programs. Hmmmm... could be that they have had enough changes lately without us placing them in one set-up for a couple of weeks and then expecting them to adapt to another. (There's more to this issue that I don't feel I can share.) I know the pastor means well, but he is clueless in this area, frankly.

We still have not heard anything from our adoption agency. I know that this means that they have not heard anything from the state; welcome to the imperfect world of DSHS. Until a phone call comes in either direction ("Come pick up your daughter!" or "We'll keep looking for you."), my whole family continues to limbo, limbo.

I think I'd like to break that stick over my knee right now, frankly.

I read Psalm 5 the other morning and was caught by this verse:

In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.

That sure sounds nicer than limbo, doesn't it?

Monday, August 20, 2007

All's Fair

The county fair starts this week, and our family is ready.

We generally enjoy the fair--well, the animal and handicraft portions of it. True to our "stuck in the wrong century" mindset, we abstain from the chaos of the midway and its rides and games. Part of our avoidance comes from the sheer fact that there is nothing on earth that can convince me that 30 seconds hurtling over a rickety metal track assembled by folks lucky to make minimum wage is worth $10. The other element that factors in is my own unfortunate first-hand experience with the lack of quality-control present in many traveling carnivals.

Normally, we stake out the Kids Come Free! day and pack a lunch, meeting up with friends or DH on an early-leave day. We cruise through the animal barns, paying special attention to the horses, pigs and sheep. We find seats in the big arena and take in a free log-pulling or harness-racing show. And we ooh and aaah at the quilts, pies and giant sunflowers on display.

We're a pretty simple bunch, can you tell?

Last year, after a memorable tour through the arts and crafts building, DH pointed out that all three of our children are old enough to enter items into the fair. He issued a challenge: Every member of the family should enter something in the 2007 county fair. This lit a fire under all three of them. They spent the next month designing and building elaborate dioramas and log houses, only to cast them aside when the next big idea came. It was a flurry of creativity that chewed through massive amounts of cardboard, pipe cleaners, glue sticks and construction paper. In the end, while neither Jo, Atticus or Logan felt that their dioramas were fair-worthy, they were still interested in creating something, anything for display.

As it turns out, each of them turned to their particular areas of expertise in assembling their final entry. I can't tell you how wonderful it was as a mother to stand by and watch each of them sort through their ideas and gifts looking for
just the right thing. While the S. family may walk away from the fair without a single ribbon to show for it, no one can say that our hearts weren't in it.

This is Atticus' entry--a digital photograph he titled "Water Leaf."

I don't have a picture of Logan's. He choose to build about a dozen international flags out of Legos and mount them to a display board.

Here's Jo's entry--the erstwhile Mini Rex that she shows for 4H. In addition, she entered a poster titled "Rat Poison: Your Rabbit's Worst Enemy." Please don't ask how we know about

And finally, here's DH's entry: a loaf of challah. Yes, he did it all by himself.

By now you're wondering what, exactly, I entered into the fair. The answer is ... nothing. While I kicked around entering a baked item, I never got around to it. Too much time consumed running about for poster board, matte board, looking up rules. Maybe next year.

Fair enough. :-)

Friday, August 10, 2007

So blessed

As I've alluded too, this particular year has been one big, fat financial struggle. It's not been pretty--as a matter of fact, folks who were homeschooling out of less than an utter conviction to do so probably would have packed the kids off to school and gotten a real job to make ends meet.

Because meeting, they're not.

Anyhow, we've managed. God has provided at the perfect time in each circumstance that has arisen. No money for shoes? Friend J. has an extra pair that Logan can borrow. In need of cool air in a heat wave? We've got two awesome fans you can use. Running low on food in the pantry? How about dinner at our house tonight, guys? And on and on.

So I shouldn't have been surprised when God provided yet again, right? But here I am, awed and blessed and just absolutely

We don't have enough money to buy our SL Core this fall. As a matter of fact, the little bit of money that we did have saved up ended up going to Logan's most recent after-hours visit to the Walk-In clinic for a strep test, and the subsequent antibiotic. My cousin, who lives states and states away, had provided me with the email address of a local friend who was looking to sell the Core we need--Core 4. It's last year's version (very recent in terms of used curriculum!), and she has everything I need, save a few consumable items. I had emailed her for a price list, and was astonished to see that she only wanted $200 for the whole thing.

Now, I knew that this was an incredible deal. But I also knew that the chances of me getting $200 together at once were slim to none. So I replied, saying that I was very interested in buying the Core, but letting her know that I would only be able to make payments, not send one big check. I expected her to say that she had other offers, honestly, and move on.

She didn't.

Instead, this wonderful Christian woman told me that she would send the books ("so you have them when you're ready for school to start") and that
I could pay her as I could.

Can you believe that?

I still can't get over the heart of this woman--and her generous response to my admission of being waaay short on cash--and the goodness of God to provide for His people. We serve an awesome God.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

On math

Math and I do not, generally get along. Sure, we begrudging siddle up to one another on necessary occasions, but by and far, we avoid one another like the plague. The truth is, Math does not like me because I manhandle its delicate logarithms. Likewise, I do not like Math because it forces me to think in meaningless, cold symbols.

I do my best to keep my children from catching the mathphobia bug. I have taught my children math through various hands-on and practical methods that don't intimidate me. We keep running totals of items in the cart at the store. We work sodoku puzzles. We cook. We estimate and measure. We play card games, like War and Pyramid Solitaire. We play board games.

When I feel like I absolutely must have some type of workbook to prove that I am a good teacher, I turn to math curricula. This past year found me reattempting Math-U-See after two years of Horizons.

Atticus has taken to these methods swimmingly. Logan has also showed no signs of anything other than pure joy at the sight of a a counting tray full of beans and index cards. Jo, however, has struggled. While she has been accessed as being "gifted" in several areas, math is not one of them. I have watched her grasp after numbers for the past four years and have wondered, all the while, if what was true for me as a child was not also true for her: perhaps she just doesn't get numbers.

The odd thing that I have been pondering is that somewhere around college--while I would never say that I am very accomplished in any sort of computation--the lightbulb most certainly went on. So, what changed? Maybe, I have been thinking, maybe I was just finally ready to learn. I did a little research, and found this article by the Bluedorns very encouraging. The theory is that many children are simply not developed enough to quickly master math skills until they are somewhere between 10 and 15 years old.

If this is true, then all my years of coaxing Jo into borrowing and multiplying and calculating area has been an utter waste of time. If this is true, then some day in the not-so-distant future--with continued exposure, of course--Jo should see the stories in those evil little number sentences. While she may never be a physicist, she should, at least, do basic computing fairly well.

Unless it's all rubbish, of course. Could be that I am simply bad at math, and my daughter is simply bad at math and my sons are simply the recipients of their father's good math gene. I really don't know. The bad thing is that I won't really know ... until it's too late.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

These are days

I've been going through ten years worth of photos for the past few days.
Ten years. Yeah, it's just as long a time as it sounds.

The reason for the navel-gazing is Jo's impending tenth birthday celebration. Dear friend J. and her intrepid husband have graciously been piecing together a visual montage of my little girl's life for me, complete with the songs that remind me most of the roughly 3,600 days we've been blessed with thus far. I'm combing our hard drive, selecting the best of the past five year's worth of digital images. The first five years of Jo's life are, unfortunately, preserved only in memory and a mish-mosh of fuzzy, posed and often ill-lit photographs. I'm selectively scanning these, trying my best to glean enough photos to represent ages birth through five.

My favorites images are the ones that catch my beautiful daughter in the midst of her happy little life. Jo sucking her toes. Jo caught wearing her ruby slippers, her rain hat and a purple leotard. Jo kissing baby Logan. Jo grinning like a monkey in her car seat. Jo bursting from behind the door of a plastic playhouse.

Simple moments. Things that flashed before my eyes and were gone. Oh, I hope I appreciate it all. I think I do. But then I look back on these images and wonder ... have I really been wide awake the whole time? The blur of daily activity sometimes lulls us into drifting through our children's lives--and our own. Projects like this force me to examine where we've been and ponder where we're going, and somehow make me more attune to each moment that I have with my children. After all, this is it. Just like shooting photos with actual film (a novelty to my children): you either got it, or you didn't. No popping up conveniently on a viewfinder.

These are the days
These are days you’ll remember
Never before and never since, I promise
Will the whole world be warm as this
And as you feel it,
You’ll know it’s true
That you are blessed and lucky
It’s true that you
Are touched by something
That will grow and bloom in you

These are days that you’ll remember
When May is rushing over you
With desire to be part of the miracles
You see in every hour
You’ll know it’s true
That you are blessed and lucky
It’s true that you are touched
By something that will grow and bloom in you

These are days

These are the days you might fill
With laughter until you break
These days you might feel
A shaft of light
Make its way across your face
And when you do
Then you’ll know how it was meant to be
See the signs and know their meaning
It's true
Then you’ll know how it was meant to be
Hear the signs and know they’re speaking
To you, to you

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Just A Little Quiet

Thanks to all who sent emails fearing that I had slipped off into oblivion after my last post. Did I really sounds so desperate? I guess I did. Goes to show what a life without margin will bring you.

I'm happy to inform you all that I have declared the next week a time of nothing. I am rather looking forward to it, and hope that Jo, Atticus and Logan will, too.