Monday, November 30, 2009

Advent Traditions

Since the time of Jesse's first Christmas, we've had some kind of advent tradition in our home. We've had store-bought versions of calendars with chocolates and toys and candles to light, but the two that have stuck with us for several years now are homemade.

This wall hanging I made when Laurel was a baby. The verse is from the e.e. cummings poem "Little Tree":
and my little sister and i will take hands
and looking up at our beautiful tree
we'll dance and sing
"Noel Noel"
Those gold dots are bells that I sewed on, and each day in December the kids hang one tiny ornament on a bell. Here's a close-up of the ornaments:

I bought them years ago when those mini-Christmas trees were all the rage, but I imagine some miniature ornaments like these are still available. I hope so; several of ours have disappeared over the years.

The next homemade advent tradition is our stocking/mitten garland. I got these at Walgreens for about a quarter each, but I think it would be even cuter to find mismatched socks and mittens or knit them if you are skilled like that. I was in a hurry that year and was happy to find these.

There are 25 total, and each contains three pieces of candy (one for each kids) and a slip of paper with an Advent scripture printed out. (I printed the whole passage, so we didn't have to look them up each night. Lazy.) You can do a google search for "Advent readings/scripture" and get lots of ideas. I included plenty of short verses for young readers. We do this one at dinner each evening. You can either remove the stocking/mitten as a sort of countdown, or put it back up in an orderly fashion. The problem with removing it is that the garland looks quite bare by the second week! (And a couple of words of advice if you think this is an amazing tradition that you must start: when the stocking or mitten has been emptied, be sure to put the slip of paper back in for next year or you'll have to find new ones! Also, chocolate does not work so well in these, as it tends to melt as the heat rises. Trust me. Go with hard candies.)

And this year we are adding in a Jesse Tree. I've been reading about these for years and, having a Jesse, have been especially inclined to add this to our traditions. I printed out the ornaments and readings here and just made a tree out of construction paper and stapled it to a bulletin board.

I was so proud of myself for getting all these out before December 1st, and then I realized that the Jesse Tree should have started on Saturday, Nov. 28. We had to do three days' worth before Dec. 1…

I did tape the paper print-outs onto cardstock and "laminate" them (in my world, that means I covered them with clear contact paper) so they can be used again in years to come.

What sorts of Advent traditions do you have in your homes? There are loads of fantastic ideas for traditions at Kelly's Korner if you are looking for some new ones, and lots of great ideas over at Amy's Finer Things, too!

Saturday, November 28, 2009


My girl and I have been ushering in the Christmas season with decorations old and new. We're far from being done with the decorating, but we did make a couple of new ones this year.

This one was so fun and easy! I think it took me about an hour to do this afternoon.

Laurel made this ribbon garland almost entirely by herself in just a couple of hours.

Both of these projects come from Edie's 12 Days of Christmas Tutorials at Life in Grace. The Noel hanging is here, and the garland is here. Laurel also made Christmas tags today, and on that post, you can see a list of the other 12 days of tutorials. She has simple and easy gift and decorating ideas, and I need simple and easy!

But all that craftiness wore me out, so it's time for buttery popcorn and Elf. Hope you all are having a fantastic weekend!

What to do with the little ones while you're homeschooling

Yes, it's hard to homeschool with little ones around. Here are a few ideas that have worked for me:

1. Take at least 15 minutes before you start school to play with the little one(s). Starting them off in "first place" gives them a sense of confidence and involvement.

2. Assign an older sibling to play with the younger one(s). For instance, I will do math for 15 minutes with one child while the other plays with the younger one. We will either switch after 15 minutes, or they will play together another 15 minutes (depending on how things are going). We do this throughout the day.

3. Get school age children working independently, and then use this independent work time to spend some one-on-one time with the little one(s). Even a kindergartener can work by herself for 15 minutes. If you foster this at a young age, you will be very happy as your children get older! A great way to develop independent work is by using mystery folders.

4. Move your location. When people ask, "Where do you do school?", I have to reply, "Everywhere." Somehow changing locations keeps little ones happier. So, we might start out reading Bible and history in the craft room. Everyone can draw or use playdough while I read. Next, we'll move to the dining room for math. IF my kids can do their math independently, I do number puzzles or games with the preschooler. Often this is the point where we do 15 min. of sibling-play as mentioned above. When my preschooler was smaller, we used the high chair a lot during math time. I'd give him toys to play with or a snack. For reading later, we might move to one child's bedroom or up to the playroom. Often we'll go outside in nice weather and read on a bench. It just helps to break up the location. New sights, new toys, new opportunities.

5. Break your day into small chunks. Rarely do we spend more than 20 minutes on one "subject." Your little ones can be more patient if they know that "when the timer goes off, we will be taking a break." Also, take scheduled breaks throughout the day. We break for snack, outdoor time, lunch, etc.

6. Have a school box for the little one. You'll probably hear this tip a lot, and it really does work. It's great to have a special box of toys or manipulatives that your child can only use during "school" time. Playdough is great, too.

7. Be flexible. Know that sometimes your little one just needs you! You will all be much happier if you just take some time to be with your little one.

8. If all else fails, stick a video in and let them watch TV all day. I'M KIDDING!!!!! That's really a joke! (I'm not saying I never let me kids watch movies, but my preschooler doesn't watch while the other ones are in school. It's just too distracting.)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Christmas Books That Make Me Cry

With today being the biggest Christmas shopping day of the year and the time when putting up decorations becomes acceptable in my humble opinion, I thought I'd set you all thinking about good Christmas reading with this repost from last year. Now is the perfect time to add a few books to your Christmas collection and start reading a few every evening!

The mark of a good Christmas book, for me, is that it makes me cry. We have a good number of children's books for Christmas, and I try to add a new book each year. We have some of the essential ones like How the Grinch Stole Christmas, popular ones like The Polar Express and some silly but sentimental ones like Mercer Mayer's Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad, starring Little Critter. Some of the books we give the obligatory seasonal read and then put back on the rack.

But I have my favorites. These are the books that, without fail, make me cry at some point. My voice catches, a child's head pops up and looks at me and says, "Mama! Are you crying again?" I can't help it.

1. The Tale of the Three Trees (retold by Angela Elwell Hunt): This book ties it all together—Jesus' birth, life, and death—in a simple but eloquent story. I get choked up on almost every page.

2. The Story of Holly and Ivy (by Rumer Godden): This one takes us a couple of reading periods to get through, but it is so well worth it. This is the story of an orphan who wants a grandmother, a doll who wants a home, and a woman who wants a family. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

3. The House Without a Christmas Tree (by Gail Rock): I loved this TV special when I was a kid, but I'm not sure I'd ever read the book until a few years ago when I picked it up at a yard sale. Now my daughter and I read this story annually of a girl who begs her father for a Christmas tree, and I always cry at the end.

4. A Wish for Wings That Work (by Berkeley Breathed): Is it weird to get weepy over a book about a penguin named Opus? I can't help it; there's something about Santa saying, "Ho, ho, ho, go!" to a penguin whose wings don't work that brings tears every time. Also, this was one of the books we bought for our oldest for his first Christmas, so it's extra sentimental.

5. The First Night (by B.G. Hennessy): This short book starts off with one of my favorite Bible verses: "And the World became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14) and proceeds to tell the birth of Christ in simple but poetic text. I especially love the rustic look of the paintings, done on butternut wood and shaped with a jigsaw. It's the simplicity of a birth—of a new life—that gets me every time.

And so those are my Top 5 favorite Christmas books. I have to add another one that takes awhile to read but is so well worth it: The Christmas Doll by Elvira Woodruff. This one isn't for the youngest readers, but 9 and up will love it.

Do you have one that makes you cry? If so, leave a comment and I'll check it out! Here are a few collected from last year's comments:

The Silver Packages by Cynthia Rylant
The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston (I can't wait to check this one out!!)
Jotham's Journey (This one's been on my to-read list for years!)
Bagels from Benny by Aubrey Davis

Thursday, November 26, 2009


For the two who gave me life

For the amazing man who shares this life with me

For my firstborn, who never ceases to amaze me

For this precious treasure, who fills me with inexplicable joy

For this sweet boy, the best Christmas gift ever

For brothers, nieces, nephews, and in-laws of all sorts

For these and many, many, many other friends who have touched my life from Geneva to Milligan College to Ohio to Iowa to Tennessee and through the blogosphere

And for this beautiful place where we live

And that is just the beginning. Truly, my cup overflows. And I am so, so thankful.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Emma in Ginkgo

Our friends and their new baby stopped by on their way from New Orleans to Cincinnati last night. We all fell instantly in love with baby Emma. This beautiful morning we took a walk and enjoyed photographing Emma in the last of the fall leaves. For more "Wordless" Wednesday posts, visit Wordless Wednesday, Momspective, and Five Minutes for Mom.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tackle It Tuesday

So about 2 weeks ago, Dr. H. declared, "This year we are NOT going to let our pumpkins rot on the front porch like we always do!"

He is such an optimist.

Today's tacklings included cleaning the front porch:

Two rotten pumpkins, a hedge trimmer, a bright orange extension cord, a pair of gloves, and two dead mums, all gone by 8:15 a.m.!

I was especially proud of myself since this thing was lurking above my head as I cleaned:

I find slugs particularly repulsive.

Next up, the guest bedroom. Dr. H's best friend from high school and his wife and new baby are arriving shortly. Here's what the bedroom looked like earlier today:

And now:

Phew! I'm glad that's done. Now the house is clean, soup's on the stovetop, and brownies are in the oven.

Let the holidays begin!

See more Tackle It Tuesdays at 5 Minutes for Mom!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Weekly Wrap-Up

I'm not really sure what happened in this past week. I know I helped unload hundreds of boxes of citrus from our American Heritage Girls fall fundraiser. I know I helped load cars with citrus and delivered citrus to our customers. I ate a lot of grapefruit.

But beyond that, the week is pretty much a blur. We started one of my favorite books, Little Britches. In fact, the kids love it so much that we read and read and read for hours this week. Pretty much everything else got shoved to the wayside, although we did a few math lessons, Latin, and handwriting. Who needs anything else when you have a great book to read?

The most exciting event: Randy and Jesse attended Fall Preview Days at Belmont University, where Jesse hope to attend next year. Their experiences at the preview days really solidified in both of their minds that Belmont is a fantastic fit for Jesse. Now we just are awaiting news of admission—and scholarships.

And that's about the extent of my wrap-up. Tomorrow is our last day of fall co-op classes on Mondays, although I still have two weeks left of my high school World Lit/geography class before we break for Christmas. We're looking forward to a relaxing week coming up, filled with good friends, family, and plenty of food.

What are your Thanksgiving plans?

For more wrap-ups visit, Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Quiet Rambling

* This is one of those rare nights that I am terribly reluctant to give up and go to bed. The house is incredibly quiet, and I haven't quite finished unwinding.

* We painted the main entrance doors at our church red tonight. That's not an idiom, like "painting the town red." We are taking steps toward making our church more guest-friendly, and red doors seemed necessary. Probably it wasn't a great idea to paint them at night when we couldn't really see the results on the outside part, but sometimes you just have to strike when the iron's hot. (That is an idiom, and I'm always proud of myself when I get one right. I have a tendency to say things like "Strike while the kettle is black.")

* The dishwasher is leaking. The pipe under the sink is dripping. The bathtub faucet is leaking really fast.

* We need friends with plumbing skills.

* We only have one day left before our co-op breaks until the end of January. I am so happy! I love classes and enjoy seeing everyone, but how I love to burrow in for a couple of months.

* Peppermint Hershey's Kisses are fearfully addictive. Unfortunately, the sharp chunks of mint always cut up my mouth so I have to stop eating them before I really want to. All food should be like that.

* My firstborn is going to college in 9 months. How is that possible?

* What will I do when my children are all grown? I vacillate between wanting to teach creative writing somewhere, working at the library, or just staying at home and writing. Perhaps I'll keep my house very clean and shiny. I'll definitely meet friends for coffee and walks.

If you stay home with your kids now, where do you see yourself when that time comes?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Basking

If you're my Facebook friend, you know that I'm often irritated by the dog, and you might even get the impression that I'm really not much of a dog person. But this is pretty darned cute. And how much would we all love to bask in a sunny spot all day? For more "Wordless" Wednesday posts, visit Wordless Wednesday, Momspective, and Five Minutes for Mom.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tackle It Tuesday

I have a lot, a whole lot, of areas that need tackled in my house, especially after a whirlwind week like the last one. Tackle It Tuesday encourages me to start with one small place, so today I chose the first spot that you see when you come in my house.

This is the buffet/cupboard in the dining room, where most people enter (unless you're a stranger and come through the front door) and where all family members drop their stuff. I really do try to keep this cleared off, but it's gotten ridiculous this week. And those flowers in the vase on the wall might look OK in the picture above, but here is what they really look like:

Attractive, I know. So, I got busy this morning and put all that junk away or gave it to the person to whom it belongs so he or she could put it away. Laurel found the fall table runner (I didn't remember that we had one!) and the sweet little picture of Duncan's handprint/turkey in a closet, and I tossed out the dead mums and replaced them with greenery.

Aaah. This is a much more peaceful view from my side of the dining room table.

And then there is the project I didn't get done today:

That's a basket of junk I swept off the counter before a party here 3 weeks ago.

Maybe next week on Tackle It Tuesday at 5 Minutes for Mom.

(P.S. Don't forget to share a soup recipe with me and check out the great ones I have received so far! I'm having one tonight!)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I Need Soup!

Soup season is upon us, and I need soup recipes! I grow weary of wading through recipe sites; I really do. So I want to know: what are your favorite soup recipes? I know you've probably posted a recipe or two before on your own blog or bookmarked a favorite recipe. Or maybe you've been meaning to post a favorite soup recipe on your blog but haven't gotten around to it. Or, like my friend Laurie and I like to say, "If you can't think of anything else to blog about, blog a recipe!"

So I'm asking you all: give me a recipe or two; I know you have them! You can link in Mr. Linky or post a favorite in the comments. Save me from my endless soup surfing! (And to start things off, I linked to my favorite beef stew recipe. But one can only eat so much beef stew...)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Today in the Smokies

How can I possibly express what it means to live within 30 minutes of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park? To head out late on a Saturday afternoon, to leave the busyness of the city for rushing rivers… my heart is happy.

"Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grasses and gentians of glacial meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of nature's darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings, Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but nature's sources never fail.
~John Muir

Weekly Wrap-Up

This was one of those weeks that, when we finally finished the last Thing at 10 p.m. on Friday nights, Dr. H. and I slumped on the couch and said, “We survived!” This weekend stretches out blissfully empty in front of us.

But back to wrapping up the week. Monday we had our regular co-op classes. We discussed Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes in our literature circle. Living so close to Oak Ridge and the home of the Manhattan Project, the kids for the most part were quite familiar with the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There is even a model of Little Boy at the science center in Oak Ridge, and nearly all the kids have been there. This books was an awfully easy reading level for them (grades 5-8), but the subject matter was at their level. (I wish the book had been written at a higher reading level, because the subject of dying from radiation is really too intense for K-2.)

We had a good school morning on Tuesday, getting in lots of good reading of The Wright Brothers and tackling a few lessons in math each. Of course we have our trek to Knoxville for dance and drama on Tuesday afternoons, and Jesse had his biology class at the community college. Tuesday evening we had the Cub Scouts monthly pack meeting. In honor of Veterans Day, Randy had two veterans speak to the boys. One is the dad of one of the Cubs, and he was simply fantastic. What a tremendously gifted speaker! I think the boys and the parents could have listened to him for hours.

Wednesday was Veterans Day, and we were so happy to see the sun after torrential rains on Tuesday because we had a parade to march in. Four out of our five area American Heritage Girls troops shared a float in the Knoxville Veterans Day Parade. (Click on the collage for a better view!)

Thursday morning we managed to squeeze in some book learning before flute lessons and AHG/Cub Scouts. We finished The Wright Brothers, which was wonderful and which also means that we get to start one of my favorite read-alouds—Little Britches—next week. Our American Heritage Girls meeting was packed with various activities: the oldest girls learned how to handle knives and axes for their Outdoor Skills badge; the Explorers made lap blankets for a local homeless ministry and made their AHG t-shirts; the youngest girls finished up their Outdoor Skills badge; and the whole troop contributed items to pack about eight boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

I forgot to mention one major part of this whole week: Jesse was writing and revising essays for college applications. I am pretty sure he must have had about five drafts of each essay before he ironed out all the kinks and produced what I think are a collection of pretty darned good essays. Applications for early admission are due by Dec. 1 but his goal was to have them in the mail by this week. Phew! A big, big, big accomplishment in our homeschooling journey!!

So, Friday. I had hardly seen my sweet parents all week, so the kids and I decided that playing cards and having a geography quiz with Oma and Opa was much more important than reducing fractions. We spent a couple of hours just relaxing and enjoying the beautiful morning and the joy of grandparents. That afternoon I gave Part 2 of an exam in my World Lit/Geography class, and then we had a bit of a party, which is always important after finishing up a unit! The rest of the class was so much fun. I split the class into two teams and had a geography bowl, drilling them with all sorts of questions. They were hilarious as they became more and more competitive—in a very friendly kind of way. It was just one of those great classes.

Friday night brought our first Boy Scouts Court of Honor in a long time. Jesse and his friend Everett were the night's emcees—something they needed to do for their Communications badge—and Randy did a fantastic presentation on their adventure to Philmont Scout Ranch last summer. A few months ago we had a split in our Boy Scout troop when the Scoutmaster behaved badly and needed to leave. It was so evident last night what a good thing the split was; there was no underlying tension and lots of laughter. It has been so wonderful to see Jesse take a renewed interest in Scouting under our new Scoutmaster.

This was the last crazy weekend for a long, long time. Activities are beginning to wind down as the holidays approach. Our co-op classes are nearly over until mid-January. I am looking forward to some good family time—and tackling my filthy house.

How was your week? Wrap it up at the Weekly Wrap-Up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Friday, November 13, 2009

If You Came To My House Today…

If you came to my house today, you'd probably wonder where you could sit down. You'd probably look around and say, "Holy COW! What a slob!"

It's the end of a very, very busy week. Cleaning has not been a part of this week's agenda. The kitchen counters are fairly clean but only because I had to go through piles of paper to get to find the stapler. Those piles of papers were mostly my son's many drafts of his college application essays. Many, many drafts.

The dishes are mostly done, but only because I had to do them to get to the crockpot at the bottom of the sink. I needed the crockpot for tonight's supper.

There is an ironing board in my dining room. I've never had an ironing board in the dining room before, but the living room was so crowded with laundry baskets that I couldn't put the ironing board in its customary spot. I had to iron my son's green Boy Scout pants and iron on the Life Scout patch that he earned about a year ago. I'm a little behind on that.

The living room, as I said, is crowded with three full laundry baskets. At least I can say that the baskets contain folded laundry, thanks to my husband.

The hallway has a huge pile of laundry and a laundry basket filled with stuff I scraped off the counter 2 weeks ago before our big soup party. I really should go through that and find all the bills that are no doubt due by now.

The bedrooms, well, let's not talk about bedrooms. My daughter's is clean because she enjoys keeping her room clean. Our bed is made because my husband makes it every morning. Yep. That's all I can really say about bedrooms.

I forgot to mention dead flowers in all the vases. Books and papers piling up on surfaces. The hedge-trimmer, gloves, and pruners I left out on the front porch last weekend. The dying 'mums all around the outside doors.

But it's all okay. Some weeks are like that, and the important thing, my husband is actually yelling this moment: "we survived this week!"

Tomorrow I'll begin the process of putting it all back together again. Until then, I'm really, really glad that no one really came to my house today…

What would we see at your house today? La Vida Dulce wants to know!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: Veterans Day

On the weekend before Veterans Day, our American Heritage Girls troops place rose petals on the graves at our local Veterans Cemetery after the Boy Scouts have placed flags at each site. It's a lovely tradition, one that connects the girls to the world in a way that parades and speeches cannot. For more "Wordless" Wednesday posts, visit Wordless Wednesday, Momspective, and Five Minutes for Mom.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


No, this post is not a discussion of immersion vs. sprinkling, so sorry if you came here looking for answers on that topic. Sometimes words just pop in my head, and this week I feel utterly immersed in activities. I don't nearly have the drowning feeling, but I feel like my head is barely above water. (I guess the "immersed" analogy just fell apart…)

Nonetheless, I shouldn't be sitting here blogging. I should be doing dishes or putting away laundry or sending out an email about our AHG meeting this week or creating a test for Friday's World Lit class or doing sit-ups or baking cookies or, at the very least, taking a shower to get ready for our day. But sometimes, you just have to blog it out.

This is one of those weeks in which everything and more hits. This week, I am praying for a sunny day for the Veterans Day parade in which our area American Heritage Girls troops are marching tomorrow. For Jesse to get his college application essays DONE and in the mail. For the ability to send out all the right emails with all the right information as we have our last "working" AHG meeting on Thursday until January. (Our December meeting is a Christmas tea.) That I can figure out exactly what it is I'm doing in class on Friday—that I can capture all the ideas running in circles in my head and nail down a solid plan. For Jesse to get those essays done (did I say that already?) and plan the Boy Scouts' Court of Honor which he has to emcee on Friday evening.

And then, of course, I need to teach my sweet children. That is what I am looking forward to most today: heading over to our cozy apartment, wrapping up in fleece blankets next to the fireplace (OK, it's gas, but still...), and reading to my little ones (who aren't really very little).

But what is really, really nice? This is the last officially crazy week of the year. When I come to Saturday morning—just four days away—I can get out my sewing machine and start all kinds of fun projects. And finish one sweet baby's quilt.

What's happening in your world this week?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Weekly Wrap-Up

How I loved this calm, relatively activity-free week!

* Monday we had our regular day at our co-op. We finished discussing Snow Treasure in Literature Circle, added supporting sentences to body paragraphs in Basic Essay Writing, and worked more on rebuttals in Introduction to Debate. Monday evening we had our first official meeting for our chapter of Eta Sigma Alpha, the National Homeschool Honor Society. Yes, it's true: the National Honor Society doesn't accept homeschoolers, so some folks started an honor society for homeschoolers many years ago. Apparently the NHS doesn't think homeschoolers can prove equal academic standing, which is of course ridiculous. Hello, ACT and/or SAT scores? Whatever. Our support group began sponsoring a local chapter several months ago, and we only just managed to find a time to meet and discuss future plans. The first project our kids are going to undertake is to hold a practice session for ACT test-taking. While the kids administer the practice tests, some of us parents are going to hold an information college-prep session for parents.

* Tuesday-Friday: we are in the middle of a fabulous book about The Wright Brothers. This is one of those books that the kids beg me to keep reading. We've also been reading Samantha's World: Growing Up in America's New Century, which is really excellent. While I've been reading, Laurel has been designing clothes with her fashion design kit, and Duncan has been plugging away at Legos. Of course we did all our regular work as well: spelling, math, handwriting, grammar, etc. and the kids did whatever homework they had from co-op classes. We somehow didn't do either art or creative writing this week; that happens sometimes when a book is so good that we can't stop reading!

* Jesse has been working hard at getting his essays done for college applications. The goal is to finish everything this week to submit early next week, although the deadline for early decision is Dec. 1 for the colleges to which he's applying. We're trying to discourage that procrastinator's gene.

* We finished reading and discussing Things Fall Apart in World Lit/Geography today. While most of the students liked the book more as they went along, it was far from a favorite. Jesse really liked it, and a couple others did as well. I still think it was an excellent choice, and I hope it will be memorable for them.

* Tomorrow we'll be going to the veterans' cemetery in the morning to decorate the graves with flower petals, and tomorrow night is our annual American Heritage Girls/Cub Scouts hayride and campfire!

Coming up next week: a crazy, packed week with co-op, pack meeting, Veterans' Day parade, AHG and Cub Scouts, and World Lit/geography class. Thank goodness for a few calm weeks like this past one every now and then!

To wrap up your week, visit Weekly Wrap-Up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. You might be surprised at all you've done!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tuesday Miscellany

* October is fundraising month around here, and we are soooo glad that it's over! I really don't have a lot to do besides help Laurel sell. We have a fantastic fundraising coordinator for our American Heritage Girls troop. She does all the planning, collecting, and distributing of our annual citrus sale. But Randy, as Cubmaster of Duncan's troop, isn't so blessed. No one has stepped up to coordinate the annual popcorn sales for the past few years, so he does it all: planning, communicating, collecting, encouraging, and adding up all the money and the leftover popcorn. It's a really, really big job. But now it's done for the most part, and tonight we are reveling in a fundraising-free home.

* Our dog got into the Halloween candy. We now have 7 distinct stains on the living room carpet where she had diarrhea. Big stains. And she smells gross. Anyone have a great idea for getting poop stains out of carpet?

* Every Tuesday evening my parents come over for supper. It is impossible to express how much I cherish this tradition. Tonight after supper we played a game of Mahjong, which we are all struggling to learn, and than a game of our favorite card game. (It's called 500, in case you are wondering. You've probably never played.) But best of all, my father told stories after we played. The word "stories" doesn't seem quite right; really, my father tells memories. He is a master storyteller, with a gentle cadence and a penchant for poetry. Tonight he told about a certain "refugee" family from the "Missouri boot-heel" who moved to his small southern Illinois town and worked on his family's apple orchards. The story progressed through years and years, winding through college and the war and back to southern Illinois. I love stories like that. We also visited Omaha Beach, where my father's battalion landed just two months after D-Day. I am so blessed to have this man as my father. It's not just that he is the perfect Dad and a hero and a historian and a brilliant scientist, but he has a poet's heart.

* I love this week. I have virtually no extra activities.

* Which makes me wonder, yet again: why do we do so many things?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Three Beautiful Things: Clean, Food, Husband

1. My house is so clean. We had a really big annual party here this weekend, and I did major cleaning. Loved the party, love the clean house that remains. For a little while, anyway.

2. I went grocery shopping today and got food for the whole week. I have been so bad lately about doing a bit of shopping every couple of days and then running out of food. This week, the fridge is full and the menu is complete. I even found candy corn on clearance.

3. My husband is seriously the best dad ever. He drove our son all the way to Asheville, North Carolina (having to take a detour that doubled his time because of a rock slide) this evening so that Jesse could go see the amazing Leonard Cohen in concert. The concert was mostly a gift from my brother and Jesse pitched in the rest of the outrageously expensive ticket. While Randy would have loved to have heard Leonard Cohen, there was no way he could justify spending that money. For awhile he found a cafe to hang out in, but now that it's closed, he's sitting outside the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium reading a book while Jesse soaks in amazing music. Seriously, who does that? Our kids are so blessed.

Me, too.

What beautiful things have been happening in your world lately?

October Reading

It is truly impossible for me to go to sleep at night without reading. I had a fantastic reading month in October. Are you looking for a few good books? Check out my reading blog, SmallWorld Reads, to see the books I read and reviewed in October. While you're there, check out the links to other reviews on my sidebar and my favorite books of last year.

What are you reading now, and what's on your reading list?