Saturday, November 19, 2011

The best-laid plans...

We have all heard this saying and I'm sure we have all planned something that hasn't gone the way we wished it would. It seems this is my life theme.

When I was little all I wanted was to be a Mom. I even remember telling my very disappointed parents, "I don't need to go to college, I'm going to be a stay at home Mom and you don't need a degree for that!". I moved out when I was 21 and lived by myself for 10 years. The first 5 years were hard, if it weren't for my sister, brother-in-law and parents I would never have eaten meat. I remember having only $30 to buy my groceries and that had to last me 2 weeks. But I finally got to a place I wanted to be; I had a good job, nice furniture, enough clothes, my own car and all my bills were paid. I didn't accomplish all this by myself, my family helped when I really needed it but by in large I did it alone. I was and am proud of the fact that I was self reliant.

When Matt and I married he knew (and very much supported) not only would we have kids but that I would stay home with them. I assumed it would be hard living with one income but for the first couple of years we did okay. We never had an excessive amount of money be we had enough to pay the bills and go away for a long weekend once a year.

Life has a funny sense of irony. Perhaps when I was so adamant about what I wanted to be when I grew up I should have added the note *a stay at home mom with financial security *. My husband is one of the hardest working people I know, he works 12 hour days most days. Times are hard and a lot Matt's customers are small businesses and small businesses are having to tighten their belts which mean we are having to tighten ours as well. It's been a hard couple of years and sometimes the stress gets to both of us.

 I find myself jealous of friends that work because they are able to do much more than we are able to. I have to remind myself what's important to our family, what my goal is and honestly what my hearts desire has always been to keep that green eyed monster away. I'm not greedy and I'm not unrealistic. I just want to be secure enough that our finances are met, we have enough to take care of our basic needs and have some left over to tackle one of the "old house" jobs we have. That's it; no fireworks, no fanfare, no big expensive trips.

It's hard to keep my eye on the prize but when I think about what I'm gaining by being at home with my kids it makes all the struggle worthwhile and I know I'll be stronger for it in the end. Just like my "meatless" years.

"What doesn't kill us only makes us stronger" - I think I'll make that my new life theme. And when that monster starts rearing his ugly head I just need to look at this picture and remember what's really important.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The end of October already, how did that happen?

I guess you can say I've been busy so I haven't posted lately. I'm still trying to navigate through my days and boy are they flying by! Homeschool in still going great and we are enjoying all the field trips we get to go on.

Enjoying the new fire pit (and smores!)

We took the kids to their first Fair - the reviews were good.

Homeschool sweetie

Trip to Petersburg with our friends

Marty turned double digits (I'm still trying to wrap my brain around that!)

Playing with electricity at the Virginia Air and Space Center

And I even found time to decorate for Halloween.

Hope you are all enjoying this beautiful Fall weather!


Friday, September 9, 2011

Goodbye Summer, Hello Homeschool!

Tuesday we started our new adventure... homeschool. So far it's been great. I was telling my husband last night how well we have been doing and he said "You sound surprised". To tell you the truth, I am! I had a huge melt down last week because I was so stressed out about the idea of my children's education being in my hands (I'm sure it didn't help that I was dealing with hurricane preparations and clean up too). After finishing up our week I can now see the beauty of staying home and teaching your own children.

If our local schools were an option I probably never would have taken on this journey. I know I'm only into this one week but I can't see why anyone would oppose this. Last year I cried for over two weeks when Louisa started Kindergarten. I missed having free time with my kids, we couldn't go to the park or the zoo whenever we wanted to. Someone else picked what was important to teach my kids, not what my children wanted to learn and certainly not what Matt and I wanted them to learn. I've had to fight school administrators every step of the way to keep my son challenged. My kids spent all day in school and then came home and had more work to do. I was watching my kids grow up way too fast.

I know this choice is not for everyone but for us it's a perfect fit.

Now here's where it might sticky... this choice was not made because my husband and I are rich and I can "afford" to stay home. The way I look at it we can't afford for me not to stay home. We are making sacrifices because it's what's best for our children. These are their formative years and they need to have the attention of their parents while they still want it. I know there are a lot of Mothers who choose or have to work and my hat is off to them - I don't know how they do it. But for me, my choice has always been that I would stay home with my kids. It's what my Mother did for us and I think it was one of the most important influences I had in my life. I have said many times; My Mother was always there for us each morning when we left for school and she was there for us when we got home. If this is all I can give my kids then I'm okay with that. Right now, I feel that I am giving them the best gift I can give them - my time.

I like that after we do Math and Language Arts we can do a little of this....

I asked them today if they like being home or if they missed going to school. They both said this was where they wanted to be. Who am I to question them?


Monday, August 29, 2011

Still standing strong

According to our local newspaper, our girl (I still want to name her, any suggestion?) has withstood approximately 40 hurricanes in her time. She has weathered them all gracefully. Once again, during Hurricane Irene, she kept her family safe and dry.

There's no place like home...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Military Families

For those of you who have ever lived in or visited Hampton Roads you will know that it's a military town. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard... we have it all. When you've lived here your entire life you become accustom to a group of young soldiers in McDonald's getting lunch or a convoy of tanks and Humvees rolling down the interstate. It's a part of life here. We wake up to the sound of Marines running and singing cadence in unison - there's nothing better than hearing that. Our house regularly gets "buzzed" by helicopters and if you visit Virginia Beach you are sure to see the Jets flying (we LOVE Jet noise!).

I have had more friends than I can count wait for a husband, wife, sister or brother come home from a deployment. I have silently cried while during Show-n-Tell a three year old holds up a picture of his dad in desert camouflage, standing in the sand, holding a sign that says "I love you Ryan". I know children who put their lives on pause while they wait for their parents to return from a too long tour. I know men who have missed the birth of their child; went away with a newborn and came home to a toddler. I have seen families anxiously wait for orders not knowing when or where they will move.

I guess what I'm saying is, I've seen it all. But what I never become used to is the ultimate sacrifice Military Families have to face. Two days after a helicopter crashed and killed 30 American servicemen in Afghanistan, my friend had to say goodbye to her best friend and husband. He is an Army helicopter pilot going back to Afghanistan for the remainder of a 15 month tour. They have two children. How they let go is completely baffling to me; my heart goes out to them and to every family who has to let go, never knowing if they will ever see their loved one again.

The SEALs that were killed in the recent crash lived and worked right here in Hampton Roads. It's hit our part of the world hard, you can read about it here:

"Thank you for your service" is a small thing to say.

****UPDATED Wednesday August 10th****

This article was in the paper this morning, a very sweet tribute to such a tragic event.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Social ignorance

There was an article in this morning’s paper about our local homeschool store. You can read it here:

And while the article was uplifting and informative the comments left me shaking my head. Most of the comments were negative and ignorant and the majority of them pinged on the non-social aspect of homeschooling.

Who socialized Abraham Lincoln? George Washington? Thomas Jefferson? And if you think there are only a handful of famous homeschoolers please check this list:

Think of it this way; before schools were “public” most of the people in the U.S. were homeschooled. Their parents taught them, and as you know the United States was not formed by a bunch of idiots – so someone was doing a good job teaching them. If you lived on a prairie (Laura Ingalls Wilder) who did you socialize with? Now I’m not ready to put on a bonnet, churn my own butter and have 10 kids but I do think you can have your cake and eat it too. I can be a 21st century mom and still homeschool my kids, they will turn out to be well rounded and *gasp* “socialized”!

A couple of years ago I couldn’t figure out what was going on with one of my 3 year old preschoolers. He couldn’t sit still, he kept make “gun” noises and for the life of him he couldn’t keep his hands from moving – constantly. He was very smart but he was always in his own world, anti-social and was a major source of frustration. Finally I talked with his mother and found out the problem. Video Games; lots and lots of violent, not for 3 year old video games. He couldn’t even go to the bathroom at home without a video game! His mother said it kept him and his brother “busy”, which means out of her hair. This child was the very definition of anti-social; he had no desire to play with other kids and if he did find one to play with, he had no idea how to play with them (he liked spinning round and round on the playground all by himself).

We all know kids that spend hours playing video games. They can’t attend a family function without their DS, can’t go out to eat without an iPod or cell phone (god forbid you miss an important text from your BFF). They can’t hold a conversation with their peers much less with an adult.

I think these are “anti-social” kids and most of them attend public school. I know that not all kids are this way and most parents enforce time limits on video games. I’m just trying to make a point; there are exceptions to every rule.

You find anti-social kids in public school and you can find socialized kids in the homeschooled world. My kids are good kids. I can take them out to eat and don’t have to apologize to the restaurant when we leave for their behavior. They both have iPods but aren’t allowed to take them out of the house. I have been complemented numerous times for their conversation abilities, I expect if an adult speaks to them they respond. I allow my kids to be kids but I also set boundaries, something kids need and sadly these days don’t have.

Do I worry that my kids will not see other kids and learn how to interact with their peers? Absolutely not. It’s going to part of what I need to do as a homeschooling parent. The good news is I can pick and choose who they can (and can’t) socialize with. Marty learned a lot of things this past year in private school that I didn’t approve of and now I don’t have to worry about him being with those same kids next year.

I guess my point to this entire post is; there is a lot of good about homeschooling and there is probably some bad. No one is perfect and no situation is a good fit for everyone. If you want to criticize homeschoolers, fine but make sure you know what you are talking about before you just throw an ignorant comment out there.

On a lighter note, next Saturday we leave for Florida. The kids and I are very excited! Hopefully we will have loads of pictures to show you when we get back.

Have a safe a fabulous 4th of July!!!!

Monday, June 27, 2011

I just don't "bounce" like I used to!

Two Thursdays ago Marty asked "Can we go for a walk?". Simple enough request, right? We set off for the little park that's in front of our neighborhood. The kids love it because it's open and has plenty of space for riding bikes and scooters, I love it because it's contained and I can watch both of them. It was a nice day, not too hot and low humidity (just how I like summer days). We got to the park but had to cross the road that leads into Portsmouth Naval Hospital, it was in the afternoon so there were a lot of people leaving for the day. I made both kids get off their rides to walk them across - safety first! We got across but Marty was having trouble getting his bike over the curb. Now, if you're a Mom you know I wasn't just walking carefree to the park. No, I had the bottle of water (in case they got too hot), my keys, cell phone (for emergencies), Louisa's scooter (because she's still needs help) and Louisa's hand (because she still needs help!). As I was stepping up on the curb I reached down with my left hand (bottle water, keys and cell phone were in this hand) to grab Marty's tire when Louisa's scooter spun around and whacked me in my right shin. This caused me to trip and do the best somersault I have done in my 40s (Louisa later told me "Mom, you did a great flip!").

When you're a kid and you fall the first thing you do is look to see how much blood there is. When you fall as an adult the first thing you do is look to see how many people saw you! Lucky for me it was only a shift change at the hospital, the 4 Marines at the guard shack have seen worse I'm sure!

Not 10 minutes prior to my fall, Marty had taken a tumble on his bike and landed in almost the exact same way. He jumped up, wiped his hands and said "I'm ok!" - not a scratch, bump or bruise - and kept going. I was not so lucky. Marty asked me later "how come parents get hurt so easily when they fall?" My response "I just don't bounce like I used to".

Hopefully I'll be able to stop wearing the wrist brace this week :-)


Monday, June 13, 2011

Why I'm homeschooling

I know I've posted about the disappointment Matt and I have felt in the private school our children have been attending and the fact that our public school is not an option for us. I've met resistance from family, teachers and friends about the decision to homeschool next year (and possible every year) and I too have had my doubts. Why am I homeschooling? Well the current situation might have pushed me in that direction but now that I've done my research and talked to current and former homeschoolers I'm confident in my choice to take this on. I know this for sure, my family is my world and my job as a Mother is to raise my kids to be the best adults they can be. Homeschool is not for everyone and you need to be 100% on board to accomplish this goal.

My two friends (that will be homeschooling with me next year) and I went to The Home Educators Association of Virginia's conference this past Thursday and while I was listening to one of the speakers this thought hit me - If your child is having trouble in school you get them a tutor so they can catch up. Why does the tutor work so well? Because it's one on one teaching/learning and it moves at the child's pace - Homeschooling is like your child having his own personal tutor for 12 years, how can that be a bad thing?

We are excited that we get to handpick all the non-skill subjects. Growing up in Virginia all of my History classes consisted of the American Revolution or the Civil War. I didn't learn any world history until I went to college! Marty asked to learn about Ancient Greece and Rome. For Science class I got him a book about Genes and DNA and a book about inventors, when he saw the books Friday morning he got so excited he started reading them right there on the spot!

In the past 17 years Matt and I have had our ups and downs but one thing my husband has always been is my champion. He always respects my decisions and never tells me that I'm wrong. He doesn't always agree with me but he ALWAYS supports me, something I wish I could get from other people. This weekend he told me he knew I would do a good job and could see that I was getting excited about starting and then he told me he was proud of me. I know that crazy man loves me but knowing that he is proud of me and will be there for me makes this entire journey that much sweeter.

Last year after both of my kids were in school full time I wrote this post. I felt this way for a month and then I just got used to them being gone for most of the day. Now I get the best of both worlds. I love my kids and hope that homeschool will not only teach them a great deal but will bring us closer as a family.

p.s. Summer vacation has been going well and we're looking forward to a vacation in Florida in July!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Summer's here!

First order of business? Figure it all out... I'll let you know how it goes!


Monday, May 30, 2011

Black-eyed Peas

Marty is all about trying new things since he discovered butter beans at Easter dinner. Today at the grocery store he asked if he could try black-eyed peas. Now anytime one of my kids voluntarily asks to try a vegetable I'm all over it, so I grabbed a bag of frozen peas and headed home.

While we were eating I was telling the kids that they were one of my favorite foods (I don't ever cook them because up to now I had no one to share them with), while we were talking a memory that I had tucked away came creeping out. My Nannie used to serve her peas with small slivers of red peppers mixed in - you know the kind that will burn your lips off if you're not careful.

I know it may sound insignificant but it's one of those things I had forgotten about Nannie. When she died I swore I would never forget anything about her. During her many visits we shared a room. She snored so loud that it kept me awake most of the night, of course she said I talked to much she couldn't sleep either. My father was convinced one of us was exaggerating! She taught us songs with bad words and had the craziest sayings you have ever heard (S*&t in one hand and wish in the other and see which fills up first). We used to chase her around the backyard holding a frog, her screaming and laughing all the time.

I adored her.

Tonight my son's dinner request brought back a little piece of a wonderful woman who meant the world to me. The gift of a memory is a rare and wonderful thing, thanks Marty.

Monday, May 2, 2011

I'm not sure if I taught them or they taught me.

Last night I realized that I only have a few more days as a preschool teacher. I have been going to the YMCA for 6 years and have been teaching for the last 4. I never set out to work there, I was asked if I would like to take the job. I never even considered getting a part-time job, I was happy being a stay at home mother. When Sue asked me if I would consider the job, I told her as long as my children came first I would love to do it. She said she wouldn't want it any other way, I guess that's why I have so much respect for her - she and I always put our families first. I didn't even ask her how much it paid, I didn't care.

Of all the places I worked and of all the important jobs I did; I've never had one that was more important to me, that I cared about any more or that I enjoyed working at as much as working at the Preschool. It's a special place; the kids make you laugh, you get paid to read stories and make crafts and you can eat Teddy Grahams for a snack and no one looks at you funny.

I've met a group of wonderful women that I now call friends. We don't fight, bicker, back stab or gossip. We care about each others families, make dinners when there are births and deaths, celebrate each other's birthdays and laugh, we laugh a lot!

My kids (my husband likes to point out that I call them "my kids") are beautiful and each one has their own personal place in my heart. There is nothing sweeter than a little child telling you "I love you" for no other reason than they truly do. I love watching them on the first day not knowing how to walk in a line or wait their turn and then by the end of the year they recognize their written name and can tell you letters, numbers and colors they didn't know before. They still have to be reminded to wait their turn but they are 3 and when you're 3 you are still finding out you are not the center of your universe.

My husband and I made the decision that I would home school next year. And being the person that I am I don't think I can keep up with this house, teach my kids and hold down a part time job. After a lot of soul searching I decided I would not return to the YMCA in the fall. I'm not sure if I'm doing the right thing and maybe I can return the year after but for right now I think it's what I have to do in order to stay sane.

I'm not sure if 10 years from now my kids will remember me but I know for a fact that I'll remember them.

Monday, April 25, 2011

I'm still here!

Spring break has come and gone. We had a nice time and even got to do a few fun things while we were off from school.

Marty's class visited Jamestown (the first permanent English colony in America) and learned a lot about how hard life was for those first brave men.

Louisa's Kindergarten class had an Easter party at a friends house and I learned a lot of 6 year old knock-knock jokes while driving them to the party.

The Easter Bunny visited.

And we all got new hair cuts!

Best of all I learned I'm ready for summer break. I'm looking forward to homeschooling the kids next year and going at our own pace. I believe as a society we have all gotten so far away from each other that this "old fashioned" idea of school might just help bring us back together. Kids don't know how to function without an electronic game or phone in their hand. Parents run their kids here, there and everywhere but never really spend time with them. How many families still have dinner together every night without the Television on or in the backseat of a car on the way to practice? How many of them take a walk and just talk to their kids? I think it's time we all got back to a more basic way of living; slow down, enjoy each other's company.

I'm not ready to give up my computer or cell phone just yet but I think there's a lot to be said for a simpler way of life.

Hope you all had a wonderful Holiday and got to slow down too!


Monday, March 28, 2011

Working out the details

Yesterday I had to spill the beans about our plans for homeschooling to my son. He's seen me reading how-to books, organizing cabinets with school books and supplies and going to "meetings". He's too smart to let it pass so yesterday he finally asked me why all of this was happening. I told him as little as possible (he has a need to know everything, so it wasn't easy). I want him to know what we are thinking about but I'm still keeping all of the details to myself. I made him a promise that on the last day of school I would give him the full run down, only two more months.

At first he looked at me like I had two heads and then he asked the question I knew would be first "You mean I'm going to have to leave all my friends?". That's not an easy one, how do you tell your child you're taking him away from his security? After I explained the good points to him I could see a little spark in his eye. He had a few minutes to think about it and then he was on board! There are so many advantages to this way of learning and the more I hear the more I can understand why it works.

When I went to school my parents didn't have to think about where I went to school or the quality of that school. There were no SOLs and "No Child Left Behind" wasn't even a thought yet. Don't get me started on those two ideas... My best friend's fathers were a lawyer and a doctor. They could have gone to private school if they wanted to but we had a good school so it wasn't even questioned. The hardest obstacle we have had to overcome with our children is schooling. We knew before we had kids that we would never send them to our neighborhood public school and when we found the private school they attend I had been warned by many to beware. I figured that we could just supplement what they weren't getting at home. What I didn't know is that paying for your child's education doesn't mean you will be heard at the school when there is a problem; and I certainly didn't figure that our concerns would be ignored.

I still have a lot to figure out and some days I panic because I'll be in charge of my child's education but once we hit our stride I think we'll find it suits our family. This might be the answer we have been searching for all along.


Wednesday, March 9, 2011


“Habent sua fata libelli” (books have their fate) ~ Latin Saying
“Houses do too, don't they?” ~ Karin Eckelmeyer

Do you believe in Fate? I do, in fact I think it's one of the basics of existence. I believe we each run in a series of circles (for lack of a better phrase) that keep us coming in contact with the same people over and over again throughout our lifetime and throughout the lifetimes of our ancestors.

How else do I explain that months before I landed my new job, a man walked into the Red Cross with a colleague and spoke to a woman about CPR training. That woman was my Aunt who asked if there were any job openings at their company (she was always looking for me). After I had submitted my resume, interviewed and gotten the job I realized that one of those gentlemen was now my new boyfriend (who would eventually become my husband). None of that would have happened if Matt they hadn’t walked into the Red Cross on that day.

On the first week of my next job, Matt came to take me to lunch. He took one look at my new surroundings and said “I’ve been here before”. He had come to the air cargo terminal to pick up a package and had walked into the wrong office. He had been re-directed by my new co-worker, we are still friends to this day. I also went to High School with this new co-worker’s friend from back home. This wouldn’t be too much of a stretch except for the fact that they are both Icelanders. What are the odds that I would have a foreign exchange student in my Virginia High School that was a friend of someone I met 15 years later?

When Marty was in preschool I met a mother who had been displaced by Hurricane Katrina and was now living in her family home in Portsmouth while the repairs could be made to their New Orleans home. We became fast friends and after a lot of “old house” talk realized that her Bilisoly ancestors had built my house. You could chalk this up to the fact that Portsmouth is a small town and of course we know the same people. But, I would have never met Anne if a Hurricane hadn’t destroyed their city and forced them to move – they were only here full time one year.

The internet and all its social trappings have made the world a much smaller place and you become “friends” on a much more global level now. By in large I still think our lives touch many and we may never know we have affected them.

Why did I start this post? When Matt first bought this house in 1995 I did a lot of research on its previous owners. The internet was relatively new and there wasn’t as much information as there is today. I had the facts but I wanted details. I knew the names but I wanted family history. In 2008 I was cleaning out a closet under the 3rd floor stairs and found a little name scratched on the inside of the door. I also found a little half wall which had been built to keep things from going all the way to the back under the bottom stairs. I got a flashlight and a mirror and after much squeezing and stretching I pulled out a mailing tube from 1913. It was addressed to Hermann Aspegren who was the father of the little girl who had left her mark upon my house. All of the sudden I had what I was looking for… history. My discovery led me around the world; first the internet directed me to a passenger list of the Aspegren family through Ellis Island; then to a Swedish genealogy site (which was translated by my air cargo friend’s Icelandic father) and finally it landed me in California. I had found my link, Karin Eckelmeyer. Thank goodness they have such a great name, can you imagine me searching for Karen Smith? I’m sure Mrs. Eckelmeyer thought that was a very odd message I left for her that day; “Hello my name is Kathy Eykamp and I think I live in your Mother’s childhood home”. She called me back and I was elated! Finally I had received what I was looking for all along, my family.

Mrs. Eckelmeyer and her brother have been a wealth of family history for me. She sent me pictures of the Aspegren family around the house. I love that I have a picture of her Grandparents and their children on the same porch that we have enjoyed for so many years. I can hear the 5 Aspegren girls playing just as I hear my own children. I can imagine what their lives were like 100 years ago as they forged a new life in America.

I received an email on Monday from Mrs. Eckelmeyer that her Mother, Karin had passed away in June a week after her 100th birthday. You can read her obituary here:

Did fate have a plan for me that day in 2008 when I was cleaning? I would like to think so. I would also like to think that in 1995 when Matt asked me to go look at a house he wanted to buy, fate was lurking in the shadows just waiting for me.

Houses do have their fate and we were lucky enough to be chosen by this one.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Don't blog while mad...

It's probably not the wisest of ideas, in fact I'm sure it's breaking some "Internet" rule (anyone seen The Social Network?). Sometimes when your mad at your spouse they tell you they're sorry and then what? The anger just doesn't go away. So what to do with it? Saying your sorry is a good thing and something I have asked my husband on more than one occasion to do; "Just say you screwed up and you're sorry!". Okay, well he's done that but how do I move onto the next phase? How do you move from a screwed up face and a tight neck to "is dinner ready?". I guess it's like anything... time. Just give it time and it's like it never happened.

One of the biggest things I have had to learn in my marriage is how to properly fight. It's probably something we all need to learn - don't hit below the belt, we want a clean fight. But I probably struggle with it more than some. My parents never fought; never even argued and if there was a disagreement it was done in private after we went to bed. The reason for this is not that my parents were always on the same page but that my parents were born in the 30s. My Mother always agreed with my Father and when she didn't he knew it was important enough to back down and let her have her way. She is a saint. I am NOTHING like her, in fact I'm a lot like my Father. It took me a long time to realize that my way was not the only way. Matt and I grew up in two very different households and we have different life experiences so why would we think alike? We fundamentally share the same beliefs. I let him run the business and he lets me run the kids; but we both have input. I have no point of reference on how to fight "clean" so now what?

Taking 10 minutes to myself to type a small blog post and thinking about what I do next is a good start. I feel better now; no screwed up face, no tight neck.

I'll leave you with this poem, I chose it to be read at our wedding. It was written 125 years ago but still rings true today. I guess some things never change, which is probably what the last line eludes to.

Marriage Advice From 1886", by Jane Wells

"Never go to bed angry.
Let your love be stronger than your hate or anger.
Learn the wisdom of compromise, for it is easier to bend a little than to break.
Believe the best rather than the worst.
People have a way of living up or down to your opinion of them.
Remember that true friendship is the basis for any lasting relationship.
The person you choose to marry is deserving of the courtesies and kindness you bestow on your friends.
Please pass this on to your children and their children's children.
The more things change the more they are the same."

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My son... the scientist

I try not to brag about my kids too much but anyone who know us knows that my 9 year old, Marty, is well let's just say "special".

When Marty was little he could memorize entire books, he started reading in preschool and when we had him tested in Kindergarten he was reading at a 6th grade level. For as long as I can remember when you asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up he would tell you "A Scientist". No cowboy or football player from my boy, nope he wants to be a scientist.

Saturday he decided he wanted to make a solar powered charger for his iPod. Okay. He told us we could get one at Radio Shack (yep, he had already checked it out for us... he's not only informative; he's considerate!). So $15 later, a few failed mis-steps and VoilĂ ! We have a "green" charger. I'm not sure how many sunny days it will take to repay my $15 but hey, it's not about that now is it?

He was so proud of that thing, unfortunately when he finished it was dark so we had to have 3 huge flashlights to test it (kinda defeats the purpose) but it worked. Monday came and it was cloudy so again he couldn't properly test it but today the sun shone bright and my little boy was ecstatic to find out that yes it will charge his iPod.

Sometimes it's hard for us to remember he's only a little boy. He doesn't talk like it; doesn't think like it. So when he acts like it, it's a little bit of a surprise. Tonight after my kids went to bed I came downstairs to find this... today's big experiment.

Super bouncy shoes.

I guess he is 9 after all...

Have a great week!


Friday, January 28, 2011

School Daze

I was originally going to write this post on Monday and it was going to be about how the previous owners of my house had stripped everything good out of it (except for a few doorknobs and window lifts). My original light fixtures have been replaced and the 1960s chandelier has even been stripped of it's crystal prisms, the old light switches are gone, the claw foot bathtub is no more. And although I'm sure the owners thought they were "updating" this house what they did was strip it of it's history. It makes me sad to think of all the treasures this old house is missing.

Anyway, like I said that was supposed to be the original post. For most of the week, however, my mind has been consumed by thoughts of what to do about school next year from my two kids. The public school system in our city is at best passable and at worst dangerous. They have been attending a private school but it also falls short. Although it has great teachers this year there are a few that are long overdue to retire and the governing body is blinded by their own small mindedness.

Along with two of my friends the idea of homeschooling came up. This is something I swore I would never do, I think kids need to be in school for the social aspect if for nothing else. But when you feel that your kids are being shortchanged in the learning department and you have no other option... well, what exactly do you do? My children are the most important people in my life (my husband gladly comes 2nd!) and our philosophy has always been that we do what is best for them.

In the next few weeks I'm going to have to do a lot of soul searching and investigating to make sure this is, in fact, the correct choice for me and my children. I would love to hear from other homeschooling parents, I need all the help I can get right now.

Have a great weekend - I'm going to a Garage Sale Gala tomorrow night so hopefully Monday I'll have some new treasures to blog about!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Taking my own advice...

Yesterday Marty was working on his "paper bag book report". You are supposed to put things into the bag that represent the book you read and then explain why you chose those specific items and how they relate to the story - I assume it's a version of an oral book report. I walked into the kitchen and saw him taping a piece of paper onto the bag with a picture he had scribbled in about a minute. I asked him if he was finished and he said "Yea, I did it really fast because I didn't want to miss Mythbusters". So I asked him "Did you do it to pass or did you do it to the best of your ability"? He stopped and looked at me with a blank stare (he really loves Mythbusters) and he said "I just wanted to finish". Needless to say, we started over again and he missed his favorite program.

This morning I was thinking about our conversation and I asked myself "Are you living your life to just pass or are you doing it to the best of your ability"? I think some days I'm just trying to pass but others I throw my entire self into life - I don't think I've accomplished the "best of my ability" thing yet.

Even though I'm exhausted every night I think there is a lot more I could be doing. More for my fellow man, for the environment, for my children's future. I watched a movie that a good blogger friend of mine recommended, Tapped (Thanks Victoria!!) and decided I would stop buying plastic containers whenever I could - not an easy task if you really think about how much plastic there is. We don't recycle (gasp!) because I never thought we had that much recycling and there is no pickup where we live. There is, however, a collection bin right next to the preschool where I work - I guess I'll be visiting that more often.

I don't need to leave a big mark on the world, I'm not that ambitious. I only hope that on my last day when Marty asks me, I can say "Yes, I did it to the best of my ability".
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