Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas!

I am writing this post at almost 2 in the morning, after finishing up some baking for tomorrow- well, actually later today. Someday I'll learn to plan in advance. Anyway, wanted to share the following before I head off to bed...

You know you've been watching too much Star Trek when your son, frustrated by the 1.5 hour drive to a friend's house, cries out in desperation, "Two to beam up! Two to beam up!" (Oh, if only it was that easy!)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

I'm back

After a long hiatus, I've decided to resurrect the ol' blog, partly because I didn't feel like writing a Christmas letter, and put my blog address on the card instead. Guess I'd better get to work!

Just wanted to kick things off with a few quotes from Samuel.

You know the cashier is probably not Catholic when she clearly has no idea what your son is talking about as he swings his umbrella at you three times and says, "Look mommy! I'm incensing you!"

And then as we were walking to the car, we walked past a store and activated their automatic door. Samuel cheerfully told the door, "Oh, no thank you!"

sunset at the park

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Poem for Autumn

I recently found out about Daily Lit, a service that will email to you installments of books that are in the public domain. I've already read Pride and Prejudice (What a great book! How did I miss that before?) and we are also getting Poems Every Child Should Know. Here is one of the ones we read today.


"I'll tell you how the leaves came down,"
The great Tree to his children said:
"You're getting sleepy, Yellow and Brown,
Yes, very sleepy, little Red.
It is quite time to go to bed."

"Ah!" begged each silly, pouting leaf,
"Let us a little longer stay;
Dear Father Tree, behold our grief!
'Tis such a very pleasant day,
We do not want to go away."

So, for just one more merry day
To the great Tree the leaflets clung,
Frolicked and danced, and had their way,
Upon the autumn breezes swung,
Whispering all their sports among--

"Perhaps the great Tree will forget,
And let us stay until the spring,
If we all beg, and coax, and fret."
But the great Tree did no such thing;
He smiled to hear their whispering.

"Come, children, all to bed," he cried;
And ere the leaves could urge their prayer,
He shook his head, and far and wide,
Fluttering and rustling everywhere,
Down sped the leaflets through the air.

I saw them; on the ground they lay,
Golden and red, a huddled swarm,
Waiting till one from far away,
White bedclothes heaped upon her arm,
Should come to wrap them safe and warm.

The great bare Tree looked down and smiled.
"Good-night, dear little leaves," he said.
And from below each sleepy child
Replied, "Good-night," and murmured,
"It is so nice to go to bed!"


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Ma'am, do you know how fast you were driving?

It used to be, reading our van's speedometer was a simple two-step process.

First, take the average of the numbers the needle is wavering between. If it's bouncing between 35 and 45, the number is 40. If it's bouncing between 45 and 65, the number is 55.

Second, take the number from Step 1 and apply the following formula:

If the number is between 0 and 30, the number is your speed (or close enough).

If the number is between 35 and 55, subtract 5 to get your approximate speed.

If the number is between 60 and 75, subtract 7 or 8 to get your approximate speed.

If the number is over 75, subtract 10 or more to get your approximate speed.

We developed the formula with a GPS device, and while cumbersome at first, we got used to it. Now, however, we have to adapt to a new system.

If your actual speed is 0-30, the speedometer reads "0".

If your actual speed is 35-55, the speedometer reads "0".

If your actual speed is 60-75, the speedometer reads "0".

I presume that you could drive 93 mph and the speedometer would still read zero, but I haven't tried it. At least, I think I haven't.

I think I liked the old system better.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Samuel pics

Well, I've taken a little vacation from blogging, but will hopefully get back into the swing of things. I don't have a lot of time at the moment, but wanted to post these pictures.

house of cards

Samuel experimenting with architecture.

stretched out sleeper

He was so tired that he slept like this for over an hour before we finally carried him to bed. As I mentioned the last time I posted a weird sleeping Samuel pic, if there was an award for sleeping in odd positions, he'd have it in the bag.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

catching up...

Apologies for the lack of blogging... been a difficult week here.

Do go and check out dh's post in the Catholic Carnival which is up at Deo Omnis Gloria.

And, the Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Principled Discovery.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Carnivals and links

Carnival of Homeschooling is here at Why Homeschool!

Unschooling Voices is here at A Day In Our Lives!

Catholic Carnival is here at Living Catholicism!

You may also want to offer my husband sympathy for his painted-in beer. (And check out our new basement colors while you're at it.)

Finally, check out this website. I don't know why I find this so hilariously funny, but I do. And what is with that guy's mom?

Thursday, August 31, 2006

The FDA: business as usual

HT: The Curt Jester

From an article by Jill Stanek:

So what if minor girls can't buy emergency contraceptives without a prescription?

Their rapists can.

When last week the FDA authorized over-the-counter access of ECs to women 18 and older, it also authorized over-the-counter access to men 18 and older.

Why would men buy ECs?

Ask them in Thailand, where ECs have been marketed for 20 years. In Thailand, ECs are advertised in men's magazines....

Read the whole article here.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I've been tagged!

By A Catholic Mom in Hawaii! Yes, the Homeschooling Meme has finally made its way around to me. Well, since we're unschool-y and I'm, um, lazy, we really haven't invested in too much curriculum. Also because my son is only five. So some of these will be tough to answer. (In fact, as I watched this meme make the rounds, I thought, "Hey, it's good that no one has tagged me because I have no idea what my answers would be..." Got me, Esther!

1) ONE HOMESCHOOLING BOOK YOU HAVE ENJOYED - Okay, this will probably be my most shocking answer of all - I don't think I've ever read a book on homeschooling. Okay, now that you've regained consciousness, put a cool cloth on your forehead and elevated your feet, I will tell you that while homeschooling philosophies interest me, I've mostly gleaned from websites and discussion groups so far. But I would like to read Maria Montessori, Charlotte Mason, John Holt, John Taylor Gatto (oh, I actually did read a couple of chapters of one of his books!), and a few others. I think the most valuable information I've gotten so far has been from good parenting books that taught me about how children develop and learn, and encouraged me to trust my child.

2) ONE RESOURCE YOU COULDN’T BE WITHOUT - Is it cheating to just say books? Lots and lots of books? And a library card? Because if I had to pick ONE thing not to be without, that would be it.

3) ONE RESOURCE YOU WISH YOU HAD NEVER BOUGHT - I've hardly bought anything. So nothing to regret yet.

4) ONE RESOURCE YOU ENJOYED LAST YEAR - Well, this is fairly recent, but Samuel has really gotten a lot out of these fraction circles.

5) ONE RESOURCE YOU WILL BE USING NEXT YEAR - We got some cuisenaire rods that we haven't really explored yet, but I think they will be a great resource.

6) ONE RESOURCE YOU WOULD LIKE TO BUY - Jennifer just informed me of the existence of the Identiflyer. I WANT ONE!!!

7) ONE RESOURCE YOU WISH EXISTED - I forget which blogger answered this way, but I'm going to steal it, because they read my thoughts exactly: free trips to anywhere! How awesomely educational would it be to go spend a week in Egypt? Or Africa? Or anywhere that has a beach? (Okay, that last one wasn't really for educational purposes so much as because I love the beach and I live in Illinois.)

8) ONE HOMESCHOOLING CATALOGUE YOU ENJOY READING - Well, I've only browsed Catholic Heritage, but I like it quite a bit. I'm all about flexibility.

9) ONE HOMESCHOOLING WEBSITE YOU USE REGULARLY - 4Real Learning Forums - I mostly lurk, but love the info.

10) TAG FIVE OTHER HOMESCHOOLERS - I have completely lost track of who has and has not been tagged. If you haven't done this yet, you're tagged!


The Catholic Carnival is up at A Song Not Scored For Breathing.

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Category Five. (You'll need to scroll to the bottom of the post.)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Theme Shelf: Bugs

Hey, now that my camera's working, I can post a picture of the theme shelf I mentioned here.

From left to right (roughly): Honeybee book, bug-eye looking glass, bug-catching tongs, tessellating beetles, bug net, magnifying glass, and Bugs book. And, hovering in background, bees that once adorned Samuel's beehive cake when we had a bug birthday party.
I can't believe we only have two books on bugs. How on earth is that possible? Anyway, I think the display is pretty cute, and Samuel has been using all of the materials, so I am excited to keep this going. Now I have to pick a theme for next time. Maybe birds, since it is migration season. I don't know if I have too many bird-specific books either, other than my field guide, so I will have to get some things from the library. And, I want at least a couple of non-book items, too, so maybe a pair of binoculars? I'll have to come up with a few things. I REALLY want these and these, thanks to this post, but I'll put them on Samuel's Christmas list and survive without them in the meantime... somehow.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Oh, the horror!

Tragically, Samuel has been eaten by the couch.

the horror!
Seriously, is there some sort of award for photos of your kid sleeping in weird places? I think we'd be quite a contender.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

camera is back in business

Okay, so we bought batteries a while ago, I just kept forgetting to put them in. But that has been remedied, so...

Here is Samuel completely zonked after we had friends over to play today. He was playing outside and I came upstairs for a bit. I heard him come in, and then a while later realized the house was silent. When I came looking for him, there he was passed out on the floor.

Next exhibit: Samuel's new loft bed.

loft Samuel wants to paint his room dark blue to match the darker blue stripe in his rug. When I told him that would be awfully dark, he said, "Yes, I want it to be like a cave." He even wants to paint the ceiling. I am not painting the ceiling dark blue! But I am considering letting him make the final choice of wall color. I am worried though that he will change his mind and want a different color soon - and it will be really hard to repaint a dark blue wall! On the other hand, it is his room... what would you do?

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Oh yeah, this is a homeschooling blog, remember? While overhauling our house, I've cleared a few spaces that seemed just perfect for strewing. I ended up with an empty bookshelf (which is nothing short of a miracle in this house) in the living room, so decided to display some themed materials there. I selected some books on insects, bug catching nets and tongs, a magnifying glass, a dead bee in an observation jar that we've had forever, and some plastic beetles that fit together to make different tessellations. Samuel has already been using pretty much everything on the shelf, except for a book he hasn't read before (he's very resistant to reading something new lately, despite the fact that I can't think of a single book he hasn't liked) so I definitely plan to keep using the shelf this way. I am looking forward to putting out some fall-themed materials. Did I mention that autumn is my favorite season?

Also, inspired by this post at Among Women, I decided to give fridgeschooling a try. I didn't put too much up, since Samuel can't read very much, but I have a letter, some shapes, and a habit (saying please and thank you) and a virtue (patience) to work on. I haven't made a big deal about it, as I want to see if he will take the initiative to explore the new fridge features on his own. So far, he's noticed, but hasn't said much about it, so we will see.

BTW, the overhauling? Well, I already mentioned that I took 4 years' worth of junk out of what is now Samuel's room. (Although we still call it the Sparrow Room. It was originally the "spare room", but Samuel misunderstood and called it the Sparrow Room all the time, and we like that better. Hey, the loft is like his bird's nest!) In addition to that, we are clearing another 4 years' of junk out of the basement, which is finally being fixed up to be a family room. In the past, junk that needed to be moved from the basement went to the Sparrow Room, and junk that needed to be cleared from the Sparrow Room went into the basement. It involved a lot of stair-climbing, but was otherwise a great system. Now all the junk is in the guest room, and while we are not planning on having overnight guests any time soon, it's always good to be prepared, and at the moment I am not sure if there is even still a bed in there under all the junk. So, I have my work cut out for me. Which means I should not be sitting here blogging. Or maybe I should say, which is why I'm sitting here blogging.

Okay, okay, I'm going. Sheesh.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Carnival Time!

I still haven't had time to read all the posts from last week's plethora of carnivals, and the next batch is here already!

First, the Late Summer Field Day is up at By Sun and Candlelight! I am disappointed I didn't get a chance to join this one, as I love this carnival! I will have to catch the Autumn Edition - my favorite season, after all!

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Patricia Ann's Polywog Creek Porch.

And, the Catholic Carnival is up at To Jesus Through Mary.

Finally, while you're surfing, check out this hilarious post at the Dumb Ox Academy.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Why to avoid government schools

I really enjoyed this immensely informative series on this topic over at Why Homeschool. Be sure to read parts 1, 2, and 3.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

more on discipline...

Thanks to all who commented on my parenting post. To respond to some of the points of those who commented, both here and in the original discussion over at Danielle Bean's site...

I am sure that Dr. Ray is a great guy. I did not mean to imply that he is a bad parent or a bad Catholic. From what I know of his beliefs, I think that his understanding of the human person and child development is not entirely in keeping with the Catholic faith. But I know lots of parents who spank and are otherwise not very "AP", and are still good parents and good Catholics. I just think they aren't living the fullness of what Catholic parenting should be. (Not that I don't often fall very, very short.) Dr. Ray sounds a lot like Dr. Dobson - and the Catholic way to parent should be different from the Protestant way, because we have an entirely different view of the human person.

Gentle parenting is not permissive parenting. Really, it is not! My child does not run wild. We explain to him why he needs to do certain things instead of just ordering him to do it, and let him make the choice. Just an example, tonight we went out for ice cream. One of Samuel's friends was there and got 2 scoops. Well, of course Samuel wanted 2 scoops. Rather than just telling him no, which would have made him upset, I helped him make the decision for himself. I reminded him that he barely finished his one scoop last time, and asked him if he thought 2 scoops would be a good idea. He thought about it and decided that one scoop was sufficient, and happily ordered his chocolate cone. No tantrum, no argument, just a five-year-old making a good choice. Now, if he had still wanted 2 scoops, I would have let him have it, because if you're going to make it the child's choice, you have to mean it. (In which case, we would have discussed wastefulness when he failed to finish the cone, or he would have experienced some rather unpleasant natural consequences if he managed to cram it all in.) Just to clarify, I do not let Samuel choose every little detail of our lives. Some things he just has to do. But I believe he is much more cooperative at those times because I do let him have as much control over his own life as I can. Because I am willing to work with him, he is more willing to work with me.

A common response to this sort of talk is, "Well, I'm glad that works for your child, but it would never work for my child." If that is your reaction, I would encourage you to give it a shot. Your child may surprise you. Children are so much more capable than we give them credit for. Although I would guess that there might be a brief transition period where your child might run a little wild with their newfound freedom of choice until a new trust is established between you. Kind of like "deschooling" when embarking on an unschooling lifestyle. Someone (I can't remember who! Sorry!) once said that you can't really dabble in unschooling, that it has to be a way of life. I think that the same can be said for the attachment parenting/gentle discipline lifestyle - trying it for a day or a week won't really tell you if it works. You have to really do it for a longer period of time until it is a way of life to really see the difference.

Another common response is simply that we all do what works for us, and as long as it works, it's fine. This kind of relativism is very disturbing to me. I don't think that there are many (if any) actual moral relativists in the world (if you find one, ask them if it's okay if you punch them in the nose), but that's what that type of statement suggests. As Catholics, we do believe in moral absolutes, and morality is all about how we treat people - including children. Who ever came up with this idea that children should be subjected to treatment that no one would inflict upon an adult? The next time you need your child to do something - or stop doing something - think of how you would handle the situation if instead of a child, it was another adult. Of course children are not adults, but many of the same principles apply. If you want your child to grow up to be a healthy adult, start treating him more like one! I don't know any adults who would improve their behavior and be more likely to cooperate after being hit, belittled, or told "because I said so". I know I certainly wouldn't. The Golden Rule applies to parenting, too.

With that, I had better get to bed! I'd love to hear what others have to say on this, as it is one of my favorite topics. (As you can you tell!)

planning ahead

Well, I know where I want to go for our eighth anniversary! Cleveland is looking like a lot of fun, thanks to Rebecca. Since our anniversary is the day before the Feast of the Assumption, this would be perfect! Now I just have to convince dh that we should drive to Cleveland. :)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


So, here's what we did over the weekend, besides NOT buying new batteries for the camera. We went with my parents to the Scott AFB Air Show, featuring the Thunderbirds. It was Samuel's first air show (how he got to the age of five without seeing an air show is beyond me) and he thought the show was great. The only thing he didn't like was the noise. Several times, we were distracted by some of the planes, only to have another one sneak up on us and go screaming over our heads. Samuel does not like that kind of noise unless he is the one making it. (Thankfully he has not yet replicated the sound of a jet engine.)

We actually got to see the show twice - once at the airfield, and once from my parents' front yard. They live so close that we could still see a lot of the show the next day. Ever since then, Samuel has been putting on a lot of air shows with his souvenir planes.

The next day, Shawn was trying to get Samuel to guess what he was thinking of and giving him clues. One of the clues was, "It was too loud." I was trying to encourage Samuel to think of the air show, and asked "What was too loud recently?" He thought for a moment and replied, "Me?"


So many carnivals, so little time...

The Carnival of Homeschooling is up here, at the Common Room.

A series of Loveliness Fairs is starting at Sweetness and Light, with Simple Elegance in the Kitchen.

The Carnival of Yum (I love that name) over at A Garden of Lilies and Roses.

The Catholic Carnival (I just discovered this one) is up over at just another day of Catholic pondering.

The late summer Field Day is coming soon. Get those submissions in! I will have to see if I can come up with something other than my recent close encounter of the icky kind.

This will be one of those stay-up-reading-blogs-until-2:30am-with-a-cup-of-tea-or-two-or-three kind of nights.


Arg, we were gone all weekend, and then celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary yesterday, and I have not had time to blog today, and the result is that I have about 17 blog entries stored up in my head. We'll see how many I get to tonight. Before I dive in, I'll post this article that dh sent me.

"If you want to fail at homeschooling..." by Kimberly Hahn

I really like it, although I don't entirely agree with #12, being an unschooler and all. However, I have been thinking that even we could benefit from a more regular schedule, so we will see if we can accomplish that in the months to come. (Hey, more regular schedule=more regular blogging time for me! Now there's some motivation!)

Monday, August 14, 2006

What I learned today...

It is not a good idea to walk from the house to the car while juggling a 6-pack of beer, car keys, several other items, and a cell phone (in mouth) because you will see something large and insect-like out of the corner of your eye, and, thinking it must be the cicada that was buzzing around the carport earlier, ignore it. However, on looking up you will discover that it is a giant orb spider approximately 1.5" from your face. You will try to scream (without dropping the cell phone) and leap backwards flailing about with your laden arms in an attempt to ascertain whether there are any spiderweb threads on you that might form an assault route for the spider. Beer bottles: intact. Dignity: not so much.

Apparently I'm not the only one being attacked by nature.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Is there a right way to parent?

Danielle Bean had an interesting discussion of discipline styles on her website. One comment in particular caught my eye:

Like Dr. Ray says, "If you can't control them when they are
2, how do you think you will be able to control them when they are 15?"
I will state right up front that I am not a fan of Dr. Ray Guarendi. There seem to be two main parenting philosophies popular in Catholic America at the moment, one led by Dr. Guarendi and the other by Gregory Popcak. I am most decidedly in the Popcak camp, and the quote above perfectly sums up why I feel that way. I do not understand these people who want to break their child's will and completely control them.

At first glance, it sounds very appealing, I'm sure. Lots of little robot-children who follow your every command! Who wouldn't want that? But what happens when Robot-Boy or Robot-Girl grows up, and encounters peer pressure, advertising pressure, bad influences from TV, movies, video games, and music? Their will to resist has been destroyed, and no wonder that the youth of today are in the state they are in.

I am not advocating raising a disobedient brat. What I am advocating is raising a child in such a way that respects the will God gave them and helps them to make right choices. If it is their choice, and not something you force upon them, they will be so much stronger when it's time for them to make the choice without your help.

For the best parenting advice, please check out the following:

Parenting with Grace, by Gregory Popcak

Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline, by Becky Bailey

I prefer Popcak for overall parenting philosophy and especially parenting in accord with the Catholic faith, and Bailey for a discipline how-to. Bailey is not Catholic (as far as I know) but her principles fit right in with the faith.

So, is there a right way to parent? There are lots of right ways, and each should be tailored to your child. However, that doesn't mean that anything goes. I do not think that parents who spank are necessarily bad parents. The Church has not made any declaration on this subject, and pious Catholics are free to disagree. However, that doesn't mean that there is no right and wrong. Just because theology is still developing and we haven't discovered the truth yet doesn't mean the truth isn't there. Either it is okay to spank some children in some circumstances or it is not. The Church hasn't said one way or the other yet, but I think there is sufficient reason to believe that spanking is not in accordance with Catholic belief. See this list from Popcak for more information.

Of course, the issue is much deeper than spanking. One can quite successfully break the will of the child without laying a finger on them. From another parenting site that was recommended in the aforementioned discussion (as part of a so-called "Bill of Rights for Children")

Because it is the most character-building, two-letter word in the English language, children have the right to hear their parents say "No" at least three times a day.

Now, there are plenty of days when I say, "No," at least 3 times. Sometimes it's more like 300. However, I don't do it just for the heck of it. In fact, I am really working on saying it less. Before I say, "No," I try to ask myself, why not? Sometimes there is a very good reason. But often there is no reason other than my own apathy or laziness. Why should that get in the way of my son's activities? Why stifle your child's play just because you can? Which leads to the next quote...

Because it is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, children have the right to hear their parents say "Because I said so" on a regular and frequent basis.

If you don't have a reason, see above. If you do have a reason, why would you not share it with your child? Yes, there are times when you need immediate obedience (child is about to get hurt). However, your child will be more likely to respond in those times if he trusts that you have a good reason for telling him to move. Whenever possible, I give my son the reason for what I ask him to do. Sometimes I ask him to do it first and I will explain later. This is enough for him, he knows the reason is coming. And, when it is truly an emergency, he knows from my voice that it is urgent and he trusts that my reasons are good based on past experience.

There is so much more I could write. This type of gentle discipline really fits in with the parenting style I talked about before. It may be a little more effort initially, but is so much easier and enjoyable in the long term. The only other thing I will say is that we haven't done this from the beginning, and I still slip up. A lot. But when I do things the Popcak/Bailey way, it works, better than anything else we've tried. I think I will go and reread both of those books. I can always use a refresher!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

"Woman priests"

Just about every day for the last several weeks, I have read yet another article about yet another woman who thinks she has been ordained a Roman Catholic priest. I say "thinks she has been" because, of course, there is no more sacramental reality to these "ordinations" than there is when my son plays Mass and pretends to consecrate orange juice and tortilla chips. What on earth makes these women think they can define what a 2,000 year old institution with over a billion members believes? And the press has been pretty consistently reporting it as if these women are legitimate members of the Church who are being legitimately ordained. As if. I'm sorry, but if you don't believe what the Catholic Church teaches, then, um, you're not a practicing Catholic. You don't see meat-eaters walking around calling themselves vegan, do you? (Don't get me started on "Catholics" for Choice...) For the record:

The Church is not refusing to ordain women because She doesn't want to. It's because She can't. The sacrament of Holy Orders simply cannot be conferred on a woman.

The Church is not sexist. The most highly honored person besides the members of the Holy Trinity is Mary.

Jesus didn't choose not to ordain women just because of "the times". Priestesses were common then, and he clearly didn't have any problems hanging out with women, going against custom, or offending people. He chose men because only a man can be in persona christi.

Others have written about this far more elegantly than I, and there are much more deep theological truths to be explored if you really want to understand the issue. I recommend reading this article from Catholic Answers if you want to know more, or use the Catholic Blog Search over there in the sidebar.

Yee haw!

Carnival of Homeschooling Week 32 is up here, at Sprittibee. Just watch out for the music file that she put on there. Better turn down the volume before loading the page if baby is sleeping!


We've been busy lately, so apologies for the absence of blogging. Here's a synopsis of what we've been up to:

- Our bestest friends moved back to the area, so we've been playing at their house.

- We bought Samuel a loft bed, and have been cleaning out all the junk (4 years' worth) that has been accumulating in that room since we moved into this house. (When asked if he intends to sleep in his new bed, Samuel said, "Maybe when I'm older." LOL) I would love to post a picture, but we are out of camera batteries. I have already missed several good photo ops, too! Better send dh a message to pick up some double As, stat!

- Catching up on house cleaning and laundry. And trying to declutter so that both of these tasks are more efficient. Honestly, I have no idea how my house gets so messy. I think part of it is that there are certain things that inevitably get messed up within about a nanosecond of me cleaning/straightening them. Like the couch cushions. Samuel is constantly rearranging, building with, bouncing on, and flinging about the cushions. Which I am fine with, except that with a relatively big couch in a little room, when the cushions are in a disarray, the whole room seems messy. And that there are things like this everywhere, so that the whole house always seems messy, whether it really is (and don't get me wrong, sometimes it really is) or not. Major reorganization needed here...

- Trying not to go insane from the wailing of the pipes. For some inexplicable reason, our pipes (specifically, the cold water pipe to the shower) started making this horrid wailing sound a couple of days ago, and continues to do so on and off. It will do it for HOURS and it sounds like a beluga in labor. (Or so I would imagine, not having been privvy to the birth of any whales.)

- Baking another pie with my sister. We've been in a pie mood lately. Okay, I am always in a pie mood, and I've just dragged her along with me. Although I've discovered that she isn't the best accomplice in pie-making, because her sugar-and-cinnamon application technique to the leftover pie crust scraps is sorely lacking. We'll have to do some practice drills this weekend when we bake our next pie.

So, that's been our busy life, which is always busy, and will continue to be busy, just in new and exciting ways. Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Unschooling Voices

The second Unschooling Voices is here! Head on over to A Day in Our Lives and check it out! I am going to get a cup of tea and enjoy it at a leisurely pace. Blog carnivals always go better with tea, don't you think?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

"Actually, we unschoogle."

Maybe that's what I'll tell people now, thanks to this fun post over at The Lilting House. Isn't it funny how "look it up" used to refer to a dictionary or encyclopedia, but now refers to the internet? Do people even have encyclopedias anymore? We have looked up what polar bears like to eat, what a liger looks like, and most recently, why moths are attracted to light. Oh, and once I found a suspicious spider in the basement, trapped it in a glass, and carted it up to the computer where Google cheerfully supplied me with a plethora of brown recluse images to compare our little eight-legged friend with. Diagnosis: non-poisonous. I, too, heart Google.

Did you know...

... that 5-year-old faded stretch marks turn bright pink when sunburned? Interesting. (Aren't you glad there was no photo for this post?)

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Another one bites the dust

Hmm, maybe that wasn't the best title, because this "other one" won't be biting much of anything anymore.
This one fell out Saturday at my sister's apartment while I was on the phone with my father-in-law trying to arrange dinner plans for nine people. When Samuel tried to get my attention to tell me, I indicated that he needed to wait until I was off the phone (something we've been working on lately) and he had a catastrophic meltdown. When I got off the phone, I discovered that not only had he lost his second tooth, he had, well, lost it. Hence the meltdown. Thankfully, once he showed me where he had been standing when it fell out, I found it and all is well. And, as a bonus, he now makes a little whistling noise when he talks sometimes, a la Gopher in Winnie the Pooh.

Also, you can see in this picture the slight sunburn on Samuel's cheeks and nose, since we've been spending so much time at the pool the past few days. Hence the lack of blogging. Gotta take advantage of the rest of summer! How on earth did it get to be August already???

Friday, July 28, 2006

" embarassment of riches..."

Kim over at Starry Sky Ranch posted on the now infamous my-kids-are-boring article. Please, go read it here. Beautiful, Kim. Absolutely beautiful.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Boring kids? Or distant parents?

So I just read this post from The Daily Eudemon. Go ahead, go read it. I'll wait.

Okay, so since I, being rather computer challenged, cannot figure out how or even if I can comment on his blog, I'll respond on my own. I wanted to expound on something that Eric Scheske touches on in his last paragraph, that even activities with your child which are initially boring can become enjoyable when you see how they benefit the child.

This is something I've often reflected on, and is a constant struggle to me. I often am in the middle of an activity that is much more appealing than playing dinosaurs or knights or watching Samuel play sticks. (Yes, he says that. "Watch me play sticks, mama!") I even consider laundry and dishes more appealing than these activities. At least then, I feel productive. When Samuel wants me to participate in these activities with him, one of three things happens.

1 - I say "in a minute", "not now", or flat-out "no". This results in him feeling less secure, being more clingy and whiny, and distracting me from my work more, which makes me more irritable and less inclined to play with him, and the downward spiral begins, usually ending in him misbehaving, me yelling, and then realizing that the root of it all is me being inaccessible to him and feeling very guilty.

2 - I say yes, but don't really participate. I am still reading email while he's telling me a story, folding laundry when I'm supposed to be sword-fighting, and washing dishes when I'm supposed to be making wings for his toys out of pipe cleaners. This half-hearted version results in pretty much the same as above - frustration on both sides. I can be quite the multitasker, but in times like these, it just doesn't cut it.

3 - I say yes, and really mean it! While I am often initially reluctant, if I truly give myself over to playing with Samuel and entering his world, I am always so glad I did. And not just because it was a worthy sacrifice for Samuel's benefit, but because I actually have fun! I have found that what I read from various attachment parenting authors during pregnancy is actually true: the more time you spend with your child, the more time you want to spend with your child.

I think of this whenever I hear someone say that they work outside the home or do not homeschool because they "just can't be with their kids all day long". Well, if I didn't attachment parent, I probably couldn't either! But, because I do, it is a joy. I sometimes imagine what it would have been like to be a mainstream parent. Instead of relaxing in a recliner nursing my sweet baby, I would have spent half the day washing, sterilizing, and preparing bottles while my baby cried for me to hold him. Instead of cuddling with my baby through the night and never hearing him cry because I'd nurse him long before he was that aroused, I would have awakened to a baby screaming down the hall, and would have had to stumble out of bed, flounder around the kitchen for a bottle, and then feed the baby before being able to go back to sleep. I think day care would have looked pretty tempting had that been the case. But instead, I could not get enough of my child. And I still can't.

I simply cannot imagine how much harder it must be to parent if you don't attachment parent. I am not surprised that most mainstream families are small - who could do that for more than a few kids? I have heard people joke that they attachment parent because they are lazy. Well, that's not my primary motivation, but it is a huge side benefit! It's just easier to parent this way. And while there are many, many loving mainstream families, I also think it is easier to love your child if you attachment parent.

So, if you find your child boring, the remedy isn't to send them off with the nanny, Helen Kirwan-Taylor. Instead, spend more time with your child. Get to KNOW him. Once you do, you'll find that children are addictive. Get hooked.

Update: You can read the entire original article here. Genevieve Kineke has a great post on this article over at feminine-genius. And, while not directly related to the article, Danielle Bean has a lovely post on being present to our children here.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

New blog in town

Amy has started a new blog dedicated to the works of Charlotte Mason. I don't know a whole lot about the CM approach, but what I do know, I like a lot. I've been wanting to learn more, and now I have a great way to do it! Thanks, Amy!

another milestone

Samuel came to me about 2 weeks ago to tell me his tooth was loose, and I said, "Yeah, I know," thinking he was just noticing that they still had a little wiggle to them after a previous injury. Well, he opened his mouth and flipped his tooth perpendicular to where it should be, and I, being the calm, laid-back mom that I am, screamed. Which made him think something was horribly wrong and burst into tears. I know, way to go. I'll put that on my resume for the mom-of-the-year award. But all is well now, and look at that big boy gap!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

schooling in six lessons

I just read a fabulous article by John Taylor Gatto, unschooling guru. Read it here. This really encapsulates what we are trying to avoid by unschooling. I really need to read more of Gatto's writings. Off to add to my Amazon wishlist!

30th Carnival of Homeschooling up here, at The Lilting House. Way to rock, Lissa! :)

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Oh, look, the laundry is done and the dishes are clean!

And other things you'll never hear me say...

2. Go ahead and eat that piece of food you dropped. My floor is so clean, it's okay.

3. Oh yes, I ordered the grilled reuben.

4. Tell me about that fascinating computer game you're playing.

5. Look, I caught a grasshopper!

6. Ooh, Samuel would love this battery-powered, light-up, talking toy!

7. Boy, I slept in today! I must've stayed in bed until 7!

8. We have too many books.

9. Pie? Oh, no thanks, I really shouldn't.

10. Samuel, I got you a new video to watch. It's about a big purple dinosaur named "Barney".

Do you have a list? Link to it in the comments!

berries everywhere

On Friday morning, we went berry picking at Pontious Farm in White Heath. If you are in the area, you've got to go here! It was so much fun! First we picked 1.5# of raspberries. Well, that's how many we took home, I have a feeling another half pound or so ended up in Samuel's belly. They should really weigh kids when they enter and leave to get a more accurate count. After raspberries, we moved on to blueberries. There was a large variety that was just ripening and was virtually untouched by the Japanese beetles, and we picked over 12# in no time, which will hopefully be enough to supply us through the year when added to what was already in my freezer. It was just such a great day for berry picking. The weather was cool, and Samuel and my berry-picking buddy's son had a blast running through the rows, picking and eating berries, and playing in the sandbox. We definitely plan to go back soon! Hopefully next time Samuel won't get quite so filthy though. The picture below was taken after he fell asleep in the car on the way home and was carried up to bed. This picture really does not do justice to just how dirty his feet and lower legs were. You'll just have to trust me on that one - it was BAD. Don't worry, though, I had to change the sheets anyway - glad I waited!

We're back!

Actually, we've been back for a couple of days now, but they have been busy days (more on that later) so this is the first chance I've had to blog. And as far as catching up on all the blogs I like to read... forget about it. Maybe I'll be able to chip away at that this week. Don't want to miss the goings-on in the homes of all my favorite mommy bloggers!

So, the car ride to Virginia was a breeze. Really! Samuel did SO great, he didn't fuss to get out of the car once! Not that he really enjoyed being in the car, but he knew we just had to get through it. At one gas station when I tried to get him out to stretch, he didn't want to because he just wanted to get back on the road and get there as fast as possible!

Samuel loved the map I made for him so that he could track our progress, but it took him a little while to get the hang of using it and understanding how fast we moved from each point to the next. When we first got it out, at the Illinois/Indiana border, he took the little car magnet and slid it slowly (so he thought) along the highway, taking about 5 seconds to get all the way to Ohio, and then asked, "Am I moving it too slow, mama?" Um, not exactly, dear. We, unfortunately, were not travelling in a craft that can go 108,000 miles per hour. (Yes, I calculated approximately how fast you'd have to go to cross Indiana in 5 seconds. Yes, I am a geek.)

He also spent 5 hours playing with a little starter set of K'Nex I decided to toss in the bag at the last minute. 5 hours. God bless the makers of K'Nex. We also listened to one of the story CDs by Jim Weiss, and Samuel loved it. I am very impressed and we hope to get lots more of these.

So, that was our ride there. Then, while we were actually at my grandparents' house in the mountains of northwest Virginia, we had tons of fun. Our daily routine went something like this: wake up earlier than I want to because Samuel wants to get up and see who else is awake, drink coffee on the back porch while gazing at the lake and chatting with everyone over breakfast, go play tennis - badly - with dh, my sister, and mother, in various combinations, come back to the house for lunch and try not to stand too close to anyone because I am now drenched in sweat, and finally take Samuel in the lake, which he has been begging for since about ten minutes after waking up. He has a life jacket so that he can swim safely, and loves being able to paddle around independently. Long after our sunscreen has worn off, we trudge back up the hill to the house, shower, have dinner, and then play canasta until we're all exhausted.

While there we got to see lots of family. Great-Grandma and Great-Granddaddy, of course, and my parents and sister were there, but also my Uncle Gil, his girlfriend Carol, my cousins Wesley and Daniel, my mom's Aunt Mary and Uncle Tom, and Aunt Mary Ellen and Uncle Bob.

Here is one of the many creatures we spotted on our trip. There were many, many more, but I was a terrible photographer for the whole trip. I only took 2 pictures. Yes, only 2! This moth, and the turtle below. We were just having so much fun I forgot about the camera every time until it was too late. Oh, well. We also saw deer, rabbits, hawks, purple martins, a woodpecker, a blue heron, various other birds, a snapping turtle, frogs, fish (I caught a bass, and Shawn caught a bluegill), and some bats.
One of my favorite wildlife encounters were when we were swimming in the lake and a deer came out of the woods and came to graze under a nearby tree. He didn't seem to notice us, and came very close and stayed there for several minutes. Samuel stayed very quiet and swam pretty close to him and got a good, long look. After the deer finally left, my dad commented that he'd never seen Samuel be quiet for so long. Samuel replied, "Well, I am when I'm sleeping!" My other favorite was when my sister and Samuel and I were out on the golf cart riding through the trails and came upon a rabbit. He was initially afraid of us and seemed undecided whether to freeze or run, but we sat quietly, and he decided we weren't a threat, sat up, and proceded to very thoroughly wash his face!

After a week of fun and visiting, we had to go home. The return trip also went very smoothly. Samuel had a bit more technological assistance this time, since my parents had a DVD player. He watched 2 movies along the way, and thanks to my dad's lead foot, we were home in no time.

Unfortunately, dh had to go to Ohio after only 3 days of Virginia fun, and will be there another 2 weeks to finish one of his on-campus courses for his master's degree from Franciscan University.
I really wish we all could have stayed in Virginia just a little bit longer - the time always flies by. Well, there's always next summer!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Yes, I should be packing, but...

I just heard a radio weatherman describe our current conditions as "tropical". Ha. If this is tropical, where's my umbrella drink? We don't do "tropical" in central Illinois. I guess telling the public that we are having swamp-like conditions doesn't get you the job of Upbeat Meteorologist. Hmm, I'm cynical today, aren't I?

unschooling on wheels

So, I mentioned that we are leaving for Virginia tomorrow. It is a 12-hour drive if you don't stop. We have a 5-year-old boy whom any doctor would be happy to stuff with Ritalin after spending 2 minutes in the same room with him. If you do the math, you will see that we will be lucky to arrive by early next week, and that we will be even luckier to arrive with our sanity. So, say a little prayer for us, and see if you can add to my List Of Distractions-So-That-Samuel-Won't-Notice-That-We-Are-Not-There-Yet-And-He-Is-Hungry-Again-And-His-Legs-Hurt-And-When-He-Tries-To-Sleep-His-Head-Flops-Everywhere-And-Makes-His-Neck-Hurt-And-We-Are-Still-In-The-Car-And-He-Wants-OUT-And-He-Has-To-Go-Potty-And-The-Next-Exit-Is-Not-For-Another-17-Miles-And-OH-NO-Is-The-Traffic-Backed-Up-Again-Why-Does-Every-State-From-Here-To-Virginia-Have-To-Do-Road-Construction-On-Every-Major-Highway-In-July-And-No-We-Are-Still-Not-There-It's-Not-Even-Lunchtime-Yet. Um, henceforth, known simply as The List:

1. A map of our route, with a little magnetic marker so that he can chart our progress and see for himself that WE ARE NOT THERE YET.

2. Jim Weiss storytelling CDs. Haven't listened to these yet, but we got King Arthur, Arabian Nights, and Greek Myths.

3. Various other CDs: Shel Silverstein, Sandra Boynton's Philadelphia Chickens, Veggie Tales.

4. Some small toys for the car which will inevitably be dropped between his car seat and the door where I cannot retrieve them until we get through the road construction to that rest stop in 17 miles.

5. Art supplies so we can draw what we see.

I'm tapped. Help me out here and see what you can add to The List. Oh, and I should mention that the return trip will be made without dh, who will be going directly to Steubenville, OH to take a class for his Master's degree, and that we will be riding with my parents and sister instead. Yes, a 12-hour trip with my son and my father, who doesn't stop unless we need to refuel. The car, that is. We eat while we drive, of course. *sob* We will have a DVD player on the way home, but of course I'd rather not use it, being the natural parenting snob that I am. Maybe it doesn't count if I bring something educational, like March of the Penguins. Yeah, I think we'll be empathizing with those penguins right around when we hit Kentucky. If we make it that far.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

28th Carnival of Homeschooling up here, at Why Homeschool. Go check out this fun-filled, summer-themed carnival!

In other news, blogging will be very light for the next couple of weeks because we are heading off to Virginia on Thursday to visit my grandparents, who do not have an internet connection. In fact, I'm not sure if they even have a computer. But that's okay, because they do have a lake, mountains, woods, bunnies, deer, and the occasional bear, among other things, so we will have plenty to keep us busy! Hopefully I'll make it to the library once or twice to keep up with the blogosphere, though. :)

Speaking of libraries, read Karen Edmisten's post on how so many people are missing out on them. So, make sure your kids don't become one of these statistics. Read, read, read to them. And then watch them dress up as Dr. Seuss characters.

Samuel with his "Sam-I-Am hair"

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Christmas in July!

Go to the World eBook Fair now. Really, go now. Because from July 4 until August 4, you can download any of their 330,000 eBooks free. Yes, you read that right. 330,000. Free. Books. They have classics like Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, and Treasure Island, and Dracula. They have classic children's books, scanned in so you get the original illustrations! They have poetry, and physics, and sacred texts, and so much more! I hope you have a lot of space on your hard drive. Mine is about to be filled.

HT: Melissa Wiley

What could be better...

...than being five years old and playing in a cool sprinkler on a hot, hot day?

Beautiful... and icky

My favorite daylilies are blooming. Just wanted to share! At least this is one plant not being devoured by the swarms of Japanese beetles that are now terrorizing my garden. They are so thick here that when you drive down country roads, surrounded by soybean fields, the nasty little creatures ping off the windshield at the rate of about one per second, leaving lovely green streaks of bug goo. Hmm, that was one post that started off all nice and sunny and promptly got unpleasant. Sorry about that.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Dreaming of yarn

The summer issue of Knitty is out! I love, love, love Knitty patterns. Of course, I've never actually gotten around to knitting them - or much of anything for that matter. I am determined to not be one of those people with the gigantic yarn/fabric/pattern/etc. stash. I WILL finish sewing and knitting up my current projects before I embark on anything else. But in the meantime, I will continue to drool over the latest batch of sock patterns, and think about how good that scarf would look with the skirt I plan to sew... someday.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

God bless America

Happy Independence Day! I really enjoyed Scott's post over at Left of the Dial today, and you will too! We are hoping to find some fireworks for Samuel tonight. He got his first dose on Saturday at the Arch in St. Louis. Their fireworks have really gone downhill from what they used to be, but it was the first time Samuel had ever seen them (well, that he wasn't immediately carried away in terror), and he was completely captivated. I only wish I had brought my camera to preserve the smile of wonder on his face when the show began.

This webquiz seems appropriate today: How American are you? I have to say, I have no idea how they score this thing. I think they are defining "American" as being politically conservative. Is that fair? Isn't America the one place where you can believe just about whatever you want and not be any less American? I will admit that I am sometimes thoroughly depressed by the state of our country - does that make me un-American? Or does it mean I love America enough to not want it to continue in a downward spiral? If you take the quiz, ignore the score, but think about what it really means to be an American.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Hooray! ...and, goodnight.

There is another new carnival in the blogosphere! Go check out Unschooling Voices over at A Day in Our Lives. I am really excited to read everyone's posts, and I hope to participate in the future! But first, I need to go to bed since I need to get up in 6 hours. Pics from my weekend coming soon...

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Come have a Field Day!

The first edition of Field Day, a nature study blog carnival, is now up at By Sun and Candlelight. I really love the idea of this carnival, and hope that you will go check it out! You might see an entry by someone familiar... :)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Augustine on my side

Here's an interesting quiz. (H/T: Lapaz Farm Home Learning) Discover which philosopher you agree most strongly with. My top 2 were not a huge surprise. And I admit that while I'd heard of 14 of the 19 philosophers listed, I am not really familiar with the works of more than a few of them. But, at least now if one comes up in conversation, I know if I agree with them. Ockham? Why yes, he does have some interesting ideas, doesn't he? That Thomas Hobbes, though - what on earth was he thinking? Did his mother drop him on his head as a baby? He certainly had a tenuous grasp of reality at best.

Your Results:
1. St. Augustine (100%)
2. Aquinas (88%)

3. Ockham (73%)
4. Kant (67%)
5. Plato (67%)
6. Spinoza (61%)
7. Aristotle (53%)
8. John Stuart Mill (51%)
9. Prescriptivism (46%)
10. Jeremy Bentham (38%)
11. Nel Noddings (38%)
12. David Hume (36%)
13. Ayn Rand (31%)
14. Cynics (25%)
15. Stoics (25%)
16. Jean-Paul Sartre (23%)
17. Nietzsche (18%)
18. Epicureans (12%)
19. Thomas Hobbes (0%)

The results are scored on a curve. The highest score, 100, represents the closest philosophical match to your reponses. This is not to say that you and the philosopher are in total agreement. However this is a philosophy that you may want to study further.

26th Carnival of Homeschooling... here, at the Homeschool Café. Get yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy the good company!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Well, what did you expect?

I took this quiz a long time ago and got the Swiss Family Robinson result. I think I had high ambitions of self-sufficient homesteading at the time. Which I still think would be cool, theoretically, but I'm a bit more realistic now. So, I am now classified as follows:

What Type of Homeschooler Are You?

Salvador Dali Melting clocks are not a problem in your reality. You are an unschooler. You will tolerate a textbook, but only as a last resort. Mud is your friend. You prefer hands-on everything. If your school had an anthem, it would be Dont Worry, Be Happy. Visit my blog:
Take this

No big surprise there. Dh is "Abraham Lincoln", also no big surprise. I think we'll be able to work out a compromise. :) I like Melissa Wiley's description that what they do is Charlotte Mason, and how they do it is unschooling.

Hey y'all!

Your Linguistic Profile:
70% General American English
15% Dixie
5% Upper Midwestern
5% Yankee
0% Midwestern

Monday, June 26, 2006

wiki wiki wiki

That's a fun word! What, you didn't know it's a word? Me neither, until I read it on Melissa Wiley's blog. (Is she the expert of what's happening on the internet or what?) Anyway, a wiki is a website that anyone can edit. You know, like wikipedia. Well, there is a new wiki in town, one devoted to homeschooling. It's called Know Homeschooling. And, you can add your homeschool blog to their directory. And, you can win $500 for contributing! So get on over there!

A different path

Today we went to Turkey Run State Park in Indiana. This is one of our favorite places to go, as it provides a nice contrast to the usual scenery of very flat cornfields. Turkey Run is a fascinating little chunk of Indiana that was carved out by receding glaciers during the last ice age. The climate there is normally only found much farther north. So, there are beautiful hemlock trees, and ferns, and all sorts of interesting things growing all over the sandstone canyons that you don't normally see in this part of the world.

I had several ideas for educational activities we could do along the way, and planned to bring a sketchbook, camera, etc. I ended up forgetting all of that and was a little disappointed that I missed an opportunity to make something more of our trip.

We sometimes hike for hours, but decided to take it easy today and just meandered up one of our favorite trails. Samuel made the first exciting find of the day, a lizard warming himself (herself?) in a little patch of sunlight filtering down through the trees. We then headed up Trail #3, into Bear Canyon and up the 3 ladders where we stopped to admire a little waterfall. A little farther and then- was that thunder? Yes, then came another distant rumble. We were now out of the canyon and in the woods where there was no shelter, so we picked up the pace! I carried Samuel piggyback part of the way because there were many steps and he had trouble keeping up. Finally, we made it down into another canyon where there were abundant overhanging areas should it start to pour. We managed to get down past the most slippery parts before the rain hit, and then we climbed up a hill and found a nice cozy ledge sheltered by a wide overhanging rim of sandstone. We were very thankful that we sought refuge when we did, because right after that, the lightning got a lot closer - once striking a tree across the canyon from us - and the rain became torrential. We were safe and dry however, and got to enjoy the show. Samuel was a little frightened the few times that the lighting struck very near us, but overall we were just in awe of nature. We had such a beautiful view from our perch, looking out across the canyon, watching the stream that flows through it swell, and listening to the symphony of rain splashing and spattering, wind rustling the trees, and crashing thunder. To pass the time, we prayed and talked and played. But mostly we watched and listened. And I realized that God had other plans for us today than taking pictures and drawing in notebooks. We didn't get photos for my blog or drawings for Grandma. Instead, we got an experience.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

I am from

I discovered through Melissa at The Lilting House that Loni at Joy in the Morning proposed this writing contest based on the poem "Where I'm From" by George Ella Lyons. I am too late to enter, but wanted to try it anyway. If you decide to give it a shot by using this template, please leave a link to your poem in the comments section, as I would love to read it! Here's what I came up with:

Where I'm From

I am from ribbon barrettes, from Reeboks and roller skates.

I am from the little ranch house,
in Alabama, New Mexico, Texas, Mississippi, Illinois
From grapevines and yucca plants, lizards and squirrels, and always flowers.

I am from the cactus,
the piercing needles when I fall off my bike.

I am from driving aimlessly looking at lights on Christmas Eve
and political indignation,
from Mom, Dad, and Tara
and Grandmas and Granddaddies.

I am from the biting sarcasm
and well-hidden emotions.
From "Because I said so"
and "Do your best".

I am from lukewarm Catholicism, agnosticism, and finally orthodoxy.
From hot, itchy Sunday dresses, almost fainting during an endless rosary on a hot Biloxi afternoon,
From turning my back,
From kneeling at the feet of Mary.

I'm from Virginia, barbecue and cherry pie.
From the dirt in the dugout while Dad played softball, the splinters from the fiberglass bleachers, and the first steps of my little sister next to the chocolate brown ottoman.

I am from big leather albums in green and red,
Mom with a pregnant belly and Dad in a flight suit,
Tara in big shoes and a washcloth on her head,
Air shows and balloon festivals,
Disneyland and Sea World,
A long-haired white dog, caked in mud,
Chronicling a family that stuck together when there was nothing else to stick to.

Sail away, sail away, sail away

Touch Tank
Originally uploaded by
We went to Shedd Aquarium in Chicago on Thursday. Shawn and I had both been as children, and wanted Samuel to experience it. It was amazing. Unfortunately, it was hard to get good pictures as flash photography is not allowed in the majority of the exhibits. But, we got this great one of Samuel making friends with a starfish in the touch tank. It was SO soft. I guess I expected it to feel similar to the dried ones you can buy - silly, huh? How different to feel a soft, fuzzy, living sea star.

There were many, many things I wish I could show you pictures of. First on the list would be the look on Samuel's face when he saw a dolphin do the first trick of the show. It reared up out of the water and "walked" backwards on its tail, and Samuel was a combination of amazement and bliss.

Other memorable sights: dolphins swimming up to the glass in the underwater viewing area to look at us, the graceful dance of the beluga whales, the undulating red jellyfish, the beautiful alien sea dragons, the gliding stingrays, the rainbows of fish, the incredible energy and speed of Rockhopper penguins, the curious shape of the Shovel-Nosed Guitarfish (really!), and the sharks. Oh, the sharks! We could have watched them circle for hours, especially the sawfish.

If you are in the area, do not miss Shedd.

After our feet had had enough meandering through the oceans of the world (though the rest of us was only getting warmed up), we headed over to our dear friends' house in Elk Grove, where we dined on the Best. Pizza. Ever. Really. We have been craving it ever since, and are sincerely glad that we do not live in Elk Grove, because as much as we love Steve, Sheila, David, and Joshua, we would gain about 300 pounds from eating that pizza 7 days a week.

Needless to say, we'll have to visit Chicagoland more often, to see friends, visit the sights, and, well, eat pizza. Hey Steve and Sheila, doing anything tomorrow?