About Me

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Like all of you, I'm a number of things to a number of people...Navy wife, homeschooling mama, educated woman and aspiring writer. Read my thoughts on all of it here. Please feel free to leave your thoughts on all of it too!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Thoughtfulness and Thankfulness

I've thought a lot lately about what to blog.  There are a lot of ideas sputtering around in my head, but nothing that seems to be worth expanding on.  Some ideas seem to lead to nothing, no point, no moral of the story, no purpose.  Other's seem to be a little personal for publishing on the World Wide Web.  And some are going to require a bit of energy and actual writing, rather than just typing away!  So, we'll see what comes of all the thoughts floundering in my brain...maybe nothing, maybe something.  Stay tuned to find out! 

In the meantime, here are a few little tid bits for you to consider.  I just finished reading Run For Your Life, by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge.  I've always been a little annoyed when illustrations don't match the words in a book.  This goes way back to childhood.  My mother can attest to many readings of Wacky Wednesday (Dr. Seuss) where we couldn't turn the page until I found every little thing that was out of place on that page.  But, I digress.  The first comment I have regarding the great page turner I just read it the cover makes one think that a woman will, at some point, be running for her life.  I hope I'm not giving too much away in saying that that isn't really the case.  (shrug)  Whatever!  It was still a good book and I'm excited to read the next in the series!

One more thing from the book...there's a poem mentioned that I had never heard of, but googled and read after learning of it.  It's by Anne Bradstreet, and called In Reference to Her ChildrenIt's lovely.  Please enjoy it for a moment today. 

Now, on to thankfulness. 

Mama Loves Papa is a blog my lil' sis sent my way.  She's good like that.  I enjoy the blog greatly.  And I'm excited to be part of something she's got going on throughout November.  So excited, in fact, that I'm getting started a few hours early! 

BWS tips button

Tonight, on the way home from trick or treating I asked everyone to join me in saying what they're thankful for.  Here's our list:

Scott - "I'm thankful that there wasn't a cop there to see me run that light that turned red...definitely Kyrsten green."  (Kyrsten is a friend of ours whose husband, Andy, once told us that yellow lights should be called "Kyrsten green.")

Gracie - "I'm thankful for my Barbie dolls."

Jace - "I'm thankful for the guy who invented Legos."

Tyler- "Llello"
Mama - "Yellow?"
Tyler - "No.  Me play my Lo's."
Mama - "You're thankful for your Lego's too?"
Tyler - "Yup!"

Mama - No one asked me in the van.  I didn't push it.  Instead I thought about all the things I'm thankful for, and there are many.  I decided that for today I'm most thankful for my husband.  Scott is an incredible gift for so many reasons, his ability to let things go and love me despite my flaws are just the tip of the ice berg!  I love him and am thankful he picked me for his wife!

What are you thankful for and thoughtful about today?  Enjoy it all...and share if you'd like. 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday Fill-In #19

1.  What’s the nicest thing a stranger has ever done for you? 

This is a great question.  I've done some thinking and I'm not really certain.  I'm sure there's something, but what comes to mind is when after Tyler was born and I was just plain beat.  Every time I ran to the store with all three kids, half asleep, wanting to get in and out and back home again I felt like I'd lose my mind before accomplishing any of what needed to be done.  I remember a few different instances where a simple kind smile (rather than annoyed look) helped me feel less alone.  And once a woman told me my kids were lovely, when I thought they were being ridiculous, and that I should enjoy the time with them as much as I could because they really do grow quickly.
2.  If you are having a hard time going to sleep, what do you do to help yourself?

I first try to calm myself and relax each part of my, starting with my toes and moving up.  If that doesn't work then I try to organize my thoughts in my head, sending off little prayers in the process usually.  If that doesn't work then I usually get up and write to do lists for the next day.  If all else fails and I'm not getting sleep then I usually play facebook games, read, or do something else that's mindless.

3.  Name something that makes you wish you were a kid again.

seemingly endless energy

4.  What is something you never believed until you experienced it?

Two things come to mind immediately.  Neither is something I really "didn't believe" but rather things that blew my mind anyway, with how true they are. 
1 - Time with your children goes much too quickly.  I remember when I called Grandma Kral to let her know I'd had Jace (our first baby) she said she could still remember when Uncle Jerry (their first) was born...some 50 years earlier!  Jace is seven now and I can still easily remember so much about his infancy, along with many other tidbits of the last few, very quick, years.
2 - Love grows.  When Scott and I got married I was so in love.  He's an incredible catch in so many ways, and I'm thrilled he picked me as his wife.  I had no idea how much stronger that love would become year after year.  With the addition of each child, life's curve balls, and countless little moments...our marriage, and the love that connects us, is bigger, stronger...more.  It's incredible.  And it makes me excited to see where we're at in another ten years!

5.  What can’t you say “no” to?

Lately I've been trying to say "no" less often to the kids.  Somehow I'm hoping that results in more cooperation!  Other than that, it all depends on the day...sometimes my will power is stronger than other times!  I love, love, LOVE Kataluma Chai and give in to that a few times a month.  Ice cream would be another temptress.  And, apparently, the Halloween candy on top of the fridge is too hard to resist!

So, there you have it for this week.  Head over to Wife of a Sailor and read what other milspouses have to say...or add your own answers!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Getting Real and Then Backing Off

I try not to get involved in politics or other hot button issues.  I know what I believe, but I don't enjoy debating it with others.  I don't like to ruffle feathers.  I don't want to be challenged by those who don't agree with me and are mean about it.  For those reasons I usually sit back and post only about fun things and parenting issues.  Not as much pressure in my mind.

Today, though, I read an article a dear friend of mine posted on facebook.  My heart sank at first and I found myself in disbelief.  Then I became rather angry and in wonder as well.  I posted a little something on my facebook page in rebuttal to the article, but also felt like I wanted to address it further.

If you haven't taken that link yet, the article was to draw attention to a school board member in Arkansas who posted very inflammatory comments on his facebook page towards gays.  And that's putting it succinctly and mildly. 

Both on facebook and in real life I know, and am friends with, a variety of people.  I dare say most every corner of life comes close to being represented in my sphere of family and friends.  Democrats, Republicans, Independents, non-voters too.  Christians, Pagans, Jews.  And, yes, straight and gay. 

I'm proud that somehow I'm blessed to know all these people.  I'm thrilled that I can learn from, have fun with, and share life with any number of cultures.  And I just don't get why it's so hard for others to even imagine it. 

I don't understand.

There's that age old saying, "Why can't we all just get along?"  And I really want an answer.  What's so hard?  Why can't we get along?  Why can't my Jewish sister-in-law decorate a Christmas tree with both Christian and Jewish symbols?  Why can't my gay friend be the pianist at my Catholic wedding?  Why can't my public school teacher friends be excited for and helpful with my homeschooling journey?  Oh...we can.

We can.

We are.

We do.

And I don't think we're really all that special.  I mean, my sphere of friends is incredible.  But we're just human too.  Why is it that we can live and love and be and thrive...together, and some ignorant guy in Arkansas can't figure out how to bite his tongue.  I'm not even wondering why he feels the way he does or how to change it...just why can't people keep their mouths shut and give a little respect? 

I'm going to do that backing off now.  If you don't know me well and you're reading this it might appear that I'm not incensed, but I am.  In fact, my head is almost steaming because I'm so blown away by this stupidity.  But I don't want to write anything that might alienate.  That's never my intention.  Growth doesn't happen very well if people are pushed away.

So, here's what I was planning on blogging about today...Many years ago I acquired a fun book called 14,000 things to be happy about, by Barbara Ann Kipfer.  I don't remember if I bought it or it was given to me, but every so often I pick it up and read a few things.  It's basically 612 pages of things to be happy about.  Fascinating. 

After I picked it up this morning I thought I'd open it and copy a page for you to all be happy about.  So, here's page 386.

meat platters
Gothic novels
ice-cream store posters
Chantilly whipped cream
drawing hopscotch lines
Cracker Jacks
small tidal pools in which you can sea bright green moss and species of marine life
palm-fringed beach
the snappy bustle of pelicans and donkeys
tearoom lunch
Shaker crafts
silvery milkweed pods opening
toast under the broiler
the whack of a bat against a baseball
alacrity = cheerful willingness, liveliness
plastic ponchos in rainbow colors
clippity-clop, jingle-jingle sounds
shadow boxes in kitchens
pictures leaving stickies on the walls
giant turner/fork/tongs
heading north
the first day of biking
the haven you escape to for hours: sitting curled there, dreaming, reading, building yourself a life, a world
a boy who follows in his mother's footsteps 

Monday, October 25, 2010

"Why Can't You Be More Like Her?"

I'm pretty sure that anyone who is a parent feels inadequate to be one, at least at times.  (If I'm alone in this...don't tell me.  Please!)  For me, my eldest doesn't help my insecurities. 

Sometimes he tries to encourage me and leaves me feeling less than encouraged, but laughing.  The first time I cut his hair at home with the trimmers was a perfect example of this.  I got all done and turned him to face the mirror. 

"How'd I do?" I asked. 
"Don't worry, Mama.  You'll get better," was his answer. 

Other times he doesn't even try to encourage me.  I have no idea why (other than the fact that I really can't park the car well) but he frequently comments on my driving ability.  He once saw a guy back over a curb and remarked, "Wow!  He's even worse than Mama!"  Like that's so unbelievable!  Geesh!

Today, he neither tried to put me down or gave me a left handed compliment.  He simply made an observation.  We were in the van playing cards while Tyler slept in the back seat and Gracie was at her gymnastics lesson.  The van next to us had another homeschooling family in it, friends of ours.  Jace's friend was sitting in the passenger seat of their van working on some worksheets.  His mother sat in the driver's seat doing something of her own, but occasionally helping him out.  At one point, Jace asked, "Why can't you be more like her?"

I asked how he meant and he said that I never help him with his work.  I decided that since neither of us was running into another room away from this conversation I'd let it ride...it was kind of nice to have the freedom to play a few turns before answering him.  When I did I pointed out that I do help him when he needs it, but that Gracie needs a lot more one-on-one attention at her age.  "Yeah, but you never tell me the answers."  Golly...well, that's totally unfair of me!

I assured him that his friend was also NOT being given the answers, but only help.  And we took a few more turns.  "But, you could do more with me.  I don't get to spend much time with you."

Can I tell you how much I just wanted to grab him up in my arms and hold him close forever?  How thankful I was that he just kept playing his cards and didn't see the tears well up in my eyes?  I wouldn't want to embarrass him and ruin the moment. 

I took a deep breath and smiled to myself.  After I played my turn I asked him if he'd like to do more with just me. 

"Uh...yeah."  Read that as, "Duh, Mama."

So, we're going to do more together.  I'm not sure when or how, yet.  But we will.  How can I resist?  And why would I want to?  I can't and I don't.  As much as that little boy drives me nuts...I love him.  I do. 

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Fill-In #18


1.  Are you a night owl or an early bird?

I used to be a night owl, but I then birthed children who like to rise early!  So, now I go to bed by 10 o'clock most nights.

2.  What makes you jealous?

I honestly don't know when the last time I was jealous was.  That makes me happy, though...jealousy isn't the best feeling to have!

3.  Have you started Christmas/holiday shopping yet? When will you finish? (There’s only 63 days left!)

I have started.  I don't know when I'm going to finish up...hopefully in the next 63 days!

4.  What would you have a personal chef make you tonight?

I'd love steak, rare, some fresh veggies and maybe a little brownies sundae with homemade ice cream for dessert.  He or she can leave some champagne on ice and chocolate covered berries in the fridge for later...

5.  Where was your first kiss?

a bathroom in the new addition at school, 7th grade!  I thought this should be edited to add that the new addition was not open yet.  The bathrooms were not yet in use.  And, like my lil sis pointed out, I did kiss someone on the playground in elementary school but I can't remember who...there are a few options!  The tires were a crazy place!  I do, however, remember the first kiss in 7th grade and who it was with...so I'm sticking with that one!   

Head on over and check out other's answers...and leave your own!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Noticing the Differences

In case this is your first visit here to my little blog home...we have three mostly wonderful kids. 

Halloween 2008

Our first born is definitely our most serious.  He loves learning, reading, watching TV, and being outside.  This summer he and Scott have done a lot of hiking.  Jace has a great sense of humor.  I feel like it's pretty sophisticated, but it might just be that my sense of humor isn't! 

Jace's current interests are karate, inventions, and learning cursive.  We just started cursive writing today, although he's been asking for weeks.  You've never seen a kid more excited!  He practiced the letters of his name, separately and together, for almost half an hour! 

A bundle of unbridled energy!  She just has to jump, skip, laugh loudly, and (whenever possible) have her feet above her head!  She loves gymnastics, fashion, hair, jewelry, and all things girly!  She likes practicing writing and works hard to color in the lines...with every color she can find!

Every chance we get, Gracie likes to go places with me, without her brothers.  It doesn't matter where we go or what we do...she likes our "girl time!"  Gracie is reading more and more and enjoys homeschooling a great deal.  

Our little guy is quite the monkey.  He's missing the tail and not covered in fur, but otherwise...totally monkey!  He likes to climb over anything.  Scott and I think it's more about the most direct route than climbing, but over the couch he goes!  He's mischievous like any little brother should be.  As a mother I probably shouldn't laugh, but it's quite funny when he goes up to Gracie and says, "Ha! Ha!" just to get her going!  

Tyler likes include vehicles.  That's pretty much it!  He likes trains, planes, cars, trucks, 4-wheelers, garbage trucks, firetrucks, police cars, motorcycles, construction vehicles...I'm sure I missed something, there are so many ways to get from here to there.  He also enjoys helping in the kitchen and cuddling with Mama! 

That's it...the kids in a nutshell.  It fascinates me to watch them grow and see where their interests are taking them.  There are certainly some things I don't enjoy...the apparent need to pick at each other, yelling or crying when someone touches someone else's toys, general obnoxiousness!  Mostly, though, they're quite fun. 

Staying home with them, and now teaching them, there are so many subtle things I've noticed about how they're unique.  It's a special gift, I think. 

The observation that prompted this whole post happened during math today.  Last week Jace was doing a review lesson that involved coloring half of an object.  He quickly shaded in half of everything with the side of his pencil.  Gracie's lesson today included the same task.  She got out her box of crayons and picked the colors she wanted for each item.  On the donut she colored the cake, frosting, and sprinkle halves each a different color.  She colored half the watermelon complete with red stripes on green background.  It hit me how different she and Jace are sometimes!  I can't wait to see how Tyler colors his lessons when he's learning fractions in a few years.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Back on The Juice...But Trying to Kick It!

Mt. Dew.  It's not good for you.  I'm pretty sure there's nothing in that bottle that my body likes, aside from the taste.  I really do like the way it tastes!  And lately, I've been using the caffeine boost like I did in my pre-primal days.  When I drink it my stomach churns a little.  After all, my diet is pretty sugar free.  But it keeps my eyes open when they need to be. 


Today I didn't drink any.  I also didn't shower, put on real clothes, or leave the house (except to take some recycling out).  But I didn't drink any Mt. Dew.  I did, however, try some tea.  About an hour after I drank it I fell asleep on the couch watching TV with the kids.  Later I noticed that the tea I drank was caffeine free...that's not helpful! 

Another problem I have with caffeine is that I'm tired so I drink it, then I come down off that high and I'm even more tired.   It's a nasty little cycle. 


So, I'm using my blog as a confessional to get this all off my chest and as a sounding board to work out my feelings about this drug of choice.  In the end, I'll probably still drink it from time to time.  (And maybe one or two of you will let me know that it's OK to be weak sometimes.)  But, I'm trying very hard not to get back on the juice in the same way I used to...many moons ago it ran through my veins. 

So, thanks for hearing me out and letting me publicly work through my vices. 

And now I'm going to bed...night everyone!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Day Book (October 18th)

I found this little exercise to be very relaxing when I did it a week and a half ago.  So, here we go again...


Outside my window...it's chilly but sunny. 

I am thinking...about getting a drink soon.  I'm a little thirsty.

I am thankful for...my supportive, realistic, down-to-earth, tell it like it is husband!

From the learning rooms...not much has been learned lately.  Thankfully, as Jace noted earlier, "Wow!  We can learn anywhere, even in the van."

From the kitchen...leftovers.

I am wearing...black sweatpants, black long sleeved tee, and a purple vest.

I am creating...Halloween costumes for Scott and I.

I am going...to remain calm and consistent with my kids this week.

I am reading...God's Little Devotional Book, Unconditional Parenting (Alfie Kohn), Seekers: The Quest Begins (Erin Hunter).

I am hoping...to get answers to burning questions in the near future.

I am hearing...the kids downstairs playing with play-dough and The Next Iron Chef on the television.

Around the house...things aren't perfectly tidy, but they're good.

One of my favorite things...taking the time to chat with friends or family - on line, on the phone, or in person. 

A few plans for the rest of the week:  Tomorrow we have karate for Jace.  Hopefully on Wednesday we'll get to go to the library.  FRG meeting Thursday night and command Halloween party Friday.  Saturday morning we're caravaning up Mt. St. Helens with a bunch of diesels.  And throughout it all, I need to finish those costumes and the kids have to get some actual schooling done!

Here is a picture for thought I am sharing...

If you're interested in spending a few minutes relaxing with these questions...go ahead!  Start at the simple woman's daybook and you'll find easy enough directions.  Enjoy!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Getting To Know The Neighbors

I don't know if you have ever looked at the top of my blog, just above the (lengthy) title.  Have you?  If you haven't, you should.  There are several places to click.  They're actually on the top of any blog you might frequent that's hosted by blogspot.  I'm not actually sure if "hosted" is the right terminology...I don't know much about computers, the Internet, and blogging...believe it or not!  But if it's something.blogspot.com then you can look up to the top and click on "next blog" and discover a good many blogs from all around the world.  It's very cool.

Here are some I found last night whilst cruising the net:

CDBoyack Tidbits

I Blog About Nothing

Random Samples of Humor

On The Garden Path

And these are just a few...you can practically go on forever!  You might find your blogs in foreign languages or ones you can read but just don't want to.  But if you're looking for something to do on a cool fall afternoon (or anytime, really) click on the next blog and see what pops up!  It's always neat to meet new people, even if they're merely net neighbors!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Funny Things That Were Said Today!

We went to a birthday party for a four year old friend today.  Eight little girls played musical chairs.  Scott, in a skewed effort to teach Gracie she can't always be a winner, said, "You're the first loser!" when she didn't see an empty chair and was the first one out.


At the same party we were discussing children and their behaviors.  Scott and I were telling what a little brute Tyler can be.  He's been hitting a lot lately, not to mention pushing and occasionally kicking.  Scott said, "He needs to be beaten down* a little so he learns," just as Jace came running in the room and volunteered to take care of it! 

*Disclaimer: Scott would never beat our children. 


In the car on the way home Jace mentioned that he'd like his siblings to be quiet, which, of course, was countered with Gracie singing louder.  Jace yelled, "That's the antonym of what I want!  Gracie, you might as well learn something while you're being loud.  Antonym means opposite!"


We just saw a boy playing God Bless America with his trumpet on TV.  Gracie was impressed and commented, "I don't play any instrument that good except the microphone."


Those are just a few goodies from today...I'm sure there are other forgotten laughs.  My family provides incredible entertainment!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Friday Fill-In #17

If you follow me via Wifey's Friday fun, you might have noticed I was absent last week.  I have no good reason...well, I might, but I don't remember what it might be!  This week I have plenty of good reasons not to be sitting here typing away...I've been way busy and I'm so behind in everything...but I want to write my post!  So I am.  Simple as that!   ;-)

1.What are some things on your bucket list? (from New Girl on Post)

I haven't actually written a list...maybe I'll start that some day.  But two things I know I want to do are:  I want to see several of a grand places the US has to offer (Grand Canyon, Alaska, Route 66) and I want to take some trips with different groupings of people (my sisters, with each of my kids separately, just Scott).

2.How long have you been a MilSpouse and where have you been stationed so far? (from Raising Roscoe)

We just celebrated our 10 year anniversary in June.  He had 3 1/2 years in before we got married, but during that time I was his friend, then his girlfriend (again!), then his fiance.  He just hit 14 years (wow!) this month.

3.What is a list of songs that sums up your life so far? (from Confessions of a Sailor’s Wife)

Daddy Sang Bass (Johnny Cash) reminds me of childhood
Under the Bridge (Red Hot Chili Peppers), for a few reasons this song brings me back to middle school
Amazed (Lonestar) still fits as "our song,"  it was our first dance as husband and wife and he still amazes me on a regular and wonderful basis.
Roll With Me (Montgomery Gentry), this song leaves me feeling calm and relaxed...the way I see our marriage most of the time, and our future together.

4.What is your favorite kind of pizza?

I love Hawaiian pizza but am also a fan of sausage, mushroom, and onion...and either is made better with some blue cheese for dipping!
5.What are three good things in your life right now?
- The time I am able to spend with my kids.
- The support my husband gives me.
- My still growing faith.
So, now you know a little more about me...head on over to Wife of a Sailor and check out what everyone else has to say!  And go ahead and add your own responses to the mix.  Talk about a good time...this is a ton more fun that any housework ever dreamt of being!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

How Do You Do It? (Prayer)

I once asked a friend if he prayed.  His answer, "I don't know."  I laughed.  That probably wasn't the proper response, but I asked how you can not know if you pray or not.  When we talked about it more, I found out he wasn't sure because he doesn't drop to his knees and press his hands together.  So he wasn't sure if his thoughts to God counted as prayer. 

In a group I was part of in the past, many people didn't like to pray out loud.  They didn't think they were good at it.  Part of me understood, but part of me also wondered, "Can you really be bad at prayer?"

And, recently, I've found myself pondering what we pray for.  Should we be praying for our hopes, wants, goals?  When should we pray?  Why?  How?

So, I decided to write about it here. Again, let me say I'm not an expert.  But I believe in the power of focusing energies and thinking positively...in the power of prayer.  And these are my thoughts on prayer...

To begin with, I believe that God is everywhere.  I believe the wind blowing the leaves in front of me is God's little hello to me.  I believe a phone call from a friend or a hug from the kids when I need it is a helping hand.  I believe His energy, His spirit is surrounding me and supporting even when I'm not paying attention.  So, my prayers tend to be less formal and more like on-going chats.

I don't think praying requires a specific format.  It's a conversation between me and God.  It can happen any place, any time.  Sometimes that may mean praying with a bible quote in front of my or with music in the background.  Other times that may mean passing thoughts while I dash here and there, ushering the kids around. 

I do think that there can be lackluster prayers and more passionate, focused prayers...like anything in life.  Sometimes I say "I love you" without thinking about it.  Other times, those three words can pack a punch, having been really formed from strong emotion more than habit.  

I pray for many reasons, too.  Perhaps my most frequent prayers are for the health of those involved whenever I hear sirens.  I like to clarify that "health" may mean something different to God right then, than it traditionally means to me.  I don't pray that part every time...I figure God's heard it enough from me, He knows what I mean!  I also pray for my friends and family, that God's watching over them even if they're not looking for Him.  And I pray for myself. 

Recently I've been focusing on saying prayers for God's will, not mine.  This occurred to me because I found myself in a situation that I wasn't sure what I wanted the outcome to be.  I was praying about that...for some clarity...when I realized it doesn't matter so much what I want to have happen.  It's not in my hands. 

Sometimes I pray using words that others have written.  Devotionals, the Our Father, creeds, are all pre-written tools that can be helpful to use, especially when we're stuck or not feeling "into it" at the time.  Often I pray using my words.  I like to say, "Hi!" to God.  I like to thank him for experiences, reminders, little joys.  Those greetings are how many of my prayers start. 

And that, my friends, are my raw thoughts on prayer.  I'd love to hear how/what/why/when you pray??? 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Squirrels Unit Review

Last week we learned about squirrels.  Honestly, I thought it was going to be one of our more boring studies.  I mean, it's only fun to watch them scurry about for a little while...right?  Thankfully, there's a lot more than that to be done, seen, read, and learned. 

A Douglas Squirrel in our backyard
As many of our studies go, we did some reading.  From the library we got the following:
Rabbits, Squirrels and Chipmunks, Mel Boring
Miss Suzy, Miriam Young
The Very Best Bed, Rebekah Raye
Delicious!, Helen Cooper
Squirrels, Peter Murray
Nuts to You!, Lois Ehlert
Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach, Melanie Watt
The Squirrel, James V. Bradley

We also utilized our Wildlife Explorer books. 

Jace's plate of squirrel foods
We learned all about how squirrels live.  Did you know that squirrels are often referred to as herbivores even though many of them eat insects.  Some even eat small birds or mice!  If I ever write my own book on squirrels I'm classifying them as omnivores.

Gracie's version of squirrel foods
One of the books we read (Squirrels) pointed out that humans don't often think about how helpful tails are, but squirrels use theirs for all sorts of things. 

Tail Uses: warmth, balance, shade, umbrella
We also talked about the scientific classification of squirrels.  Jace definitely didn't want to write that out again!   But, we did discover that they're rodents, as are porcupines.  Who knew? 

Squirrels are known for their large front teeth, which grow around six inches every year.  They have to gnaw them down daily to keep them from getting too big for their mouths.  They're made specially, though, so they stay sharp and allow them to continue gnawing through nuts and tree bark. 

Jace gnawing on a nut
We made a little treat for our backyard friends too.  Basically you make a big ball of peanuts in their shells and peanut butter.  Then you can string it from a tree and see what happens.  I didn't get a picture during the making process...I was literally up to my elbows in peanut butter! Sorry.

Gracie breaking the peanut shells
Here's a picture of a squirrel thinking about how to get at that ball, though!

Peanut ball feast!
So, overall, it was another good week!  Our 11th week of school...and things are good.  We have had our moments, though.  But we're all learning and I still feel honored and overjoyed that I get to be right there with them as they discover new things.  I'm one proud mama...teacher...whatever!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Day Book (October 7th)

Outside my window...The wind is picking up after a beautiful fall morning in the 60's.  The clouds are coming in and we'll likely get some rain in a while. 

I am thinking...about homeschooling, marriage, parenting...the things that are on my mind every day.

I am thankful for...the quiet reassurance of my faith, good friends, and kids playing nicely together right now.

From the learning rooms...we're about to do some math and then make a messy squirrel feast to hang outside later.

From the kitchen...the dishes await.

I am wearing...a teal turtle neck and jeans.  My feet are bare and my hair is braided.  And I actually have jewelry on today, a necklace Gracie made me and simple pearl studs.

I am creating...a warm and calm place for my family and friends, and ample opportunities to listen to every one's stories.

I am going...slowly today.

I am reading...God's Little Devotional Book, Paganism: An Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions, and any number of blogs on homeschooling.

I am hoping...to continue the day in the same vein it's been in, quiet instruction by me...children ready to listen, no arguing and plenty of fun.

I am hearing...my wooden wind chimes outside, Jace and Gracie playing in the bedroom, traffic on the highway.

Around the house...there are many little things to be done. 

One of my favorite things...is being connected.

A few plans for the rest of the week:  Tomorrow we're headed to the library and to do a little shopping to finish a package for Uncle Nick (my brother-in-law).  Then we have friends coming tomorrow night and Saturday my cousin and his wife will be visiting for lunch. 

Here is picture for thought I am sharing...

Living a simple life is something that could be incredibly enriching.  I enjoyed this exercise.  If you'd like to, you can take part in it as well:   Check out the simple woman's daybook and see what other women have to say this fall. 

How Do You Do It? (Marriage: Time to Talk)

Communication.  I've heard it's the key to a good marriage.  I don't disagree, but I don't think it's that simple, either. 

There are a lot of things I could write about in regards to the talks that could and maybe should go on between spouses.  I'm going to focus on three things, though. 
  • little things.
  • dreaming together.
  • when not to talk
While I ramble about these three point, I may gloss over some things that others find very important.  It's not that I don't, but just chose to shine the light on something else this time around.  If you'd like me to go on about anything further, just leave me a comment of send me an email.  Here goes...

little things
Yes, it's important to talk about where you want to live, whether or not to have kids and how many.  It's a good idea to talk about how you'll handle the merging of family traditions (and this could take years to figure out) and financial realities and goals.  But, for many of us, talking about these things don't necessarily come naturally and can sometimes bring out intense emotional reactions by both partners.  How can these conversations be a little easier?  With practice.

Start by talking about everything and anything.  Bodily functions, the trip to the dentist, grocery shopping, and interpersonal relations at the office.  Learning to talk to each other over the seemingly smaller things can give you clues to how to interact with each other over the bigger topics.  In my opinion, once your spouse has to plunge the toilet for you, there should be nothing that can't be put out there to debate!  So, don't dismiss awkward tidbits with a nervous giggle.  Think about them as practical research about how your spouse might react when you bring up spending the holidays at home instead of with his family.  Right?

dreaming together
I think it's a good idea to talk about your future together.  Note that I said future not futures.  Talk about your collective futures and if you want early retirement and the beach and he wants a second job plowing snow after retirement...there's no time like now to begin working that out!  By doing so you're sharing pieces of your inner self and setting goals to work toward.  I think dreams can be realistic or completely playful, but either way they're important to have and share with your spouse.

You may have heard that it's never to early to talk about retirement, and it's true.  So, talk about it.  Where would you like to retire?  What would you like to do?  When would you like to stop working and how?  You can also fantasize about career goals, hobbies you'd like to enjoy, vacations you'd like to take.  Think about the things you can learn about your spouse this way...and what fun it is to imagine "what if?" 

Dreaming isn't just for the long term either.  If he'd like a new big screen television, I'd consider that a dream!  But not one that's out of reach it you look at it together and work toward it.  It may mean date night is in front of the small screened TV you currently have with dinner you prepared together in the kitchen instead of a night on the town, but there's nothing wrong with that.  In fact, there's sometimes a lot right about it. 

when not to talk
Are there really times not to talk?  Yes there are.  Some say you should never go to bed angry, but I think it's OK to do now and then.  Not everything can be resolved in a short, sweet shouting match followed by make up sex.  Sometimes you and your spouse may reach a point where you're talking in circles and not making any headway.  Or you might realize that resolving this issue is going to take a lot more thinking and talking and, practically, nobody gets the day off tomorrow so you'd better get to sleep.  Or maybe you just don't know what else to say and you're feeling hurt.

Our unwritten rule is that no one sleeps on the couch.  No matter what we go to bed in the same bed, but we may still be angry, hurt, unsure.  I usually try to still reach out a toe to touch his leg.  And I leave the topic unresolved.  I usually try to say a prayer for direction and wisdom in how to proceed and I usually remind myself why I married this man and why he chose me.  Sometimes when we wake up I'm still angry, and that's OK. 

Thus far we've resolved everything we've fought over...in time, with a clear mind. 

So, I know I said I was only going to comment on these three point, but I think there are two other things I'd like to say.  First, I say all of this with my first "How Do You Do It? (Marriage)" post in mind.  The gist of that was that it takes two people who want to be married to create a healthy and happy relationship with one another.  And a big part of that, I think, is wanting the best for the other.  If tense conversations are had with this at the core, some of the drama is extracted right from the get go.  If you know if your heart and head that he would never intentionally say anything to cut you to the core, then you have the ability to hear what he's saying is for the betterment of your relationship, at least as he sees it.  I haven't had to do it in a long time, but when Scott and I were first married I honestly used to say, "I know you didn't mean that like I heard it.  Can you try to say it a different way, please?"  This helped. 

Second, know yourself as best you can.  If you can identify when you're feeling more needy, unusually irritated, tired, stressed by other parts of your life you're a step ahead.  Knowing these things can help you honestly assess your reaction to comments your spouse makes. 

Bottom line...give them the benefit of the doubt.  He loves you.  She loves you.  Talking together can be a great way to express and grow that love.

OK...I promise this is the last thing.  Really.  I swear to you that Scott and I are not fighting.  I just had a horrible time sleeping last night...a lot on my mind I guess.  So, after an hour of trying not to wake him up, I came out and finished this post, made a few to do lists, played some online games and watched TV.  Eventually I made my way to a devotional book I'd been considering trying to find again.  I found it and opened it.  This is what I read:

A marriage may be made in heaven, but the maintenance must be done on earth. 
Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.  Ephesians 5:33
Marriages are meant to be complementary - two pulling together as one, not in competition, but in mutual association. (from God's Little Devotional Book, published by Honor Books, Inc.)
I think I read it to share with you.  What do you think?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Pigs and Monkeys

This is a post about my kids.  I call them monkeys.  I don't think that affectionate term is all that uncommon to use for kids.  After all, they climb, screech, hang on us...all the things we think are funny and cute about monkeys.  Unfortunately they're not always the things we love about our kids.  (shrug)

I don't think we started using "monkeys" until after Tyler was born, and in all honesty, it fits him best.  They all like to climb and screech and hang on me, but Tyler is a monkey.  All he's missing is the tail. 

Anyway, my monkeys...I could probably write for days and days about them.  Sometimes they say or do such silly things or frustrating things or odd things.  They're the best (and sometimes worst) entertainment out there! 

Yesterday I was talking to my sister, Mary, and said something I thought was pretty clever.  I was sharing something about Jace.  I don't even remember what now, but I said, "When he's not frustrating me to the point of tears, he makes me smile."  That about sums up our current relationship.  He's the oldest, at seven years old, and not only smart but a smart ass too, if you'll excuse my language.  But we're working through it...one day at a time, and sometimes one tense moment at a time. 

I'm sure I was telling Mary about whatever happened yesterday morning.  I can't remember what it was, but I recall that I was VERY frustrated with Jace and had yelled at him for something.  Minutes later he came up to tell me something he was really excited about it.  I remember wondering how he could move on so quickly.  He'd been crying five minutes earlier.  I'd been on the verge of tears myself and now I wanted to grit my teeth and tell him to go away and leave me alone.  But he just wanted to share something with me.  I want to learn how to flip that switch and be excited with and for him once the tense moments have passed.  I'm working on it.  Yesterday I did well.  I hugged him and listened to his joy and let him skip away on his own accord.  I was still irritated, but I was still able to separate the two situations.  Not bad...but I'll keep on it.

Today we had a really rough morning, but the afternoon went swimmingly, so maybe I'm figuring it out...I just wish we could skip the rough spots.

Hmmm...anyway...the other monkeys are in the news today too.  Gracie is still loving gymnastics.  (By the way, Jace starts karate tomorrow and couldn't be more excited about it!)  She's doing pretty well too.  And she's taken to dressing like a pop star at home, dark shades and all, and entertaining us.  She's been spelling words with her eyes closed too.  I guess that's to prove she knows how they're spelled.  It's pretty funny, though. 

And, Tyler...he's a gem.  He's giggly and wiggly and picks on Jace and Gracie like any little brother should.  Scott and I can't get over how many times one of them comes to us crying because, "Tyler hit/threw something at/was mean to me!"  He's apparently a little tyrant, when he's not being cute.  And tonight we found a new talent of his...tossing pigs. 

Have you ever played Pass The Pigs?  It's a great little game with two little pigs figures that you toss up and get points for how they land.  We played today.  Jace and Gracie worked on their math and we all had fun tossing pigs around.  And Tyler won.  He got 87 points.  Jace and I ended with zero and Gracie was in second place, with 25 point.  So, watch out for our littlest monkey...he's quite the pig tosser!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

How Do You Do It? (Marriage: It Takes Two)

At the heart of any marriage are two people.  (I'm speaking for traditional marriage between two people, of course.  I don't know much about polygamous unions.)  Two people who, ideally, want to be married to each other.  During my schooling to become a marriage and family therapist, which I have not become, I learned that often people don't seek therapy together.  Frequently it's the wife who comes in looking for ways to improve her marriage.  As a young therapist I didn't think it would be proper to call up a husband and shake him over the phone, "What are you thinking?  Your wife is here, wanting to imrove your marriage, trying to save your marriage.  Where are you?  It takes two!!!"  Maybe if I were practicing now I would yell that from the hill tops...because it's the truth. 

Marriage takes two. 

Now, as a Navy wife I know that there aren't always two people available.  I also know that the military doesn't hold the deed to the world of being a single spouse.  Yes, there are a huge number of people serving in the Armed Forces who have one or even two members of their marriage deployed, on patrol, away at school...gone in some way for weeks, months, or longer at a time.  Yes, there are verying levels of contact during these times of physical distance from one another.  Some have computer contact, some phone, some letters, some nothing.  This is all true. 

There are many other vocations with similar stories, though.  Truckers are often gone for days or weeks at a time.  Salespeople may work extended hours and may have to travel further from home for training or sales opportunities.  Consultants often travel for their jobs, along with actors, sports players and others.  I'm sure you can think of people you know that have to be away from home, apart from their spouse, here and there.  Even those who work "9-5" jobs often end up working longer hours and missing dinner, at the very least.

So, now that we've established that there are all sorts of valid reasons why spouses may be separated, lets get back to how they can still have great marriages, despite being apart.  After all, it takes how many?  That's right.  Two.  Glad you're paying attention.

What do these two people have to do in order to create a healthy and happy marriage?  Well, they have to want it and work for it.  Some wedding days are grand ceremonies with hundreds of friends and family members.  Some are quick and intimate affairs.  No matter how a marriage begins, it doesn't build itself from there.  And the first step in any project, be it a term paper or a marriage, takes place in our heads.  Inside, we have to think about how we're going to act, what we're going to say, what we want for ourselves and our spouses.  All these goals start within us...and it's helpful, for a cohesive marriage, if husband and wife share these visions with each other.   After all, we can't have a marriage on our own.  (You thought I was going to say, "It takes two," didn't you?)

What are some things we should want internally and with our spouse? 
  • the best for the other
  • happiness for our spouse
  • a sparkle in their eye
  • joy in their smile
There are lot of other things you could add to the list, but you may already see a trend...marriage is not about me or even we.  If you're looking out for your spouse, and assuming they're looking out for you, you've got a great start! 

Now, if your spouse is around this is more straight forward...do things for them.  Mow the lawn when he works late.  Take the kids to the playground so she gets an hour to read in quiet.  Help with the dishes.  Get him a drink when you get your own refill.  Ask questions and listen for answers.  Little things can go a long way to show you're caring for your spouse.  Caring is good.

If you're spouse is away, and even if they're not, there's another key to wanting the best for the other...taking care of you. 

Do you feel like I'm talking in circles?  Maybe a little, but here's the deal...If you put yourself first selfishly then you're selfish.  If you take care of yourself, while keeping in mind that a better you makes a better wife, well, then it's not selfish.  Make sense?  And you can't just say it.  "I'm not being selfish...he'll get his own food if I'm not home.  I need to get my nails done because it's good for me."  That's not gonna cut it.  That's like a kid grumbling, "Sorry," to his sister after hitting her because Mom said.  If you don't mean it...it doesn't count.  So, think about it, pray about it, meditate about it, most importantly...talk to your spouse about it.  And take care of yourself, which, in turn, takes care of your spouse.  Nifty, huh?

To recap:
Marriage takes two.
Two people who want to be married.
Two people who want joy and happiness for the other.
Two people willing to take care of themselves in order to take the best care of the other.

And that's just the beginning...but it's a really good beginning! 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

How Long is Really Long?

Several months ago I read a comment on facebook where a friend of a friend mentioned that she'd been married "a long, LONG time."  I was curious how long she'd been married, so I asked.  Six years.  That's all.  In my mind that didn't seem like a long, LONG time. 

Scott came home from work a week or so ago and told me how someone asked how long we'd been married.  He told them we'd just celebrated our tenth anniversary.  Their comment?  "Wow.  Good for you guys.  Isn't that a long time for submariners*?"  Really?

I've heard the same thing all of you have, about 50% of marriages ending in divorce.  And I know people who have gotten divorced.  But is marriage really in such trouble that single digit anniversaries should enjoy extra emphasis on their length?  Is being in the military such a strain that a decade deserves a 'wow'?  Maybe.

Don't get me wrong.  I do think being married for six or ten years deserves a little pat on the back and some celebration.  I think every anniversary is special and wonderful.  I love marriage and being married.  On the other hand, though, why can't we celebrate it without making it seem like we've done something noteworthy by staying married.  It's not like we held really still while getting a shot.  We're talking about marriage! 

It should probably also be noted that I have some pretty incredible examples of marriage to look to.

For starters, there are our parents.  My Mom and Dad celebrated their 40th anniversary in April.

Mom and Dad Foote (my parents)
 In December Scott's Mom and Stepdad will have been married for 31 years.
Mom and Dad Nourse (Scott's parents)

And just days ago, we wished Mom and Dad Gebel a happy 30th anniversary.
Mom and Dad Gebel (Scott's parents)
Now, none of their marriages have been "perfect," whatever that means.  But, they've all withstood the test of time.  Obviously there was one marriage that didn't.  Scott's Mom and Dad divorced after a few years, but both have succeeded in their second marriages...beating the statistical odds. 

And our grandparents have really set the bar high.  Grandma and Grandpa Fladie will celebrate 51 years just after ringing in the new year. 

Grandma and Grandpa Fladie (Scott's grandparents-Stepmom's side)
My Dad's parents around 46 years when my grandmother passed away.  This picture is from their 40th anniversary party! 
Grandma and Grandpa Foote (my grandparents-Dad's side)
Grandma and Grandpa Gebel were married for more than 40 years when Grandpa passed. 
Grandma and Grandpa Gebel (Scott's grandparents-Dad's side)
Grandpa Goff passed away somewhere near 50 years of marriage to Grandma Goff.
Grandma and Grandpa Goff (Scott's grandparent's-Mom's side)
And my Mom's parents were married for 65 years when Grandma Kral passed away.
Grandma and Grandpa Kral (my grandparents-mom's side)
Without knowing any of these people, you know that they fought sometimes and other times were completely in sync with each other.  Each of these seven marriages, along with many others I know, are examples of long marriages, marriages that really deserve a wow!

Now, at our wedding we did that little thing where all the married couples danced and the couple who was married the longest was left last on the dance floor and asked to give advice to the newlyweds.  Grandma and Grandpa Kral were the ones who supplied us with some great advice, "Keep on kissing and you'll be married for hundreds of years, like us."

Scott and I
So, in the grand scheme of hundreds of years, how long is long?  And how does one have a marriage that lasts for a long, LONG time?

These are great questions...and I'm no expert (after all ten years is barely a drop in the bucket when there are hundreds of years to go) but in the next few weeks I'm going to look at a few key things I think make marriages good, healthy, happy, and long lasting.  Hopefully you'll tune back in to see if you agree. 

Until then...just keep kissing...

*After considering this comment for a while, it occurs to me that the guy who said it may not have been commenting on marriage as much as originally thought.  On a submarine there are around 160 guys.  Probably a third of them are single and many of the married ones are pretty young, meaning that they haven't likely been married all that long.  I would estimate that only 15 or 20 guys on any one sub even have the potential of being married for double digits.  In that light, perhaps we have been married a long time in the world of submariners.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Unit (as in all the units) Review #1

I've gotten in the habit of reviewing each of our homeschool units on here but it occurred to me that I hadn't considered reviewing them with the kids.  Scott asked a while ago if the kids were retaining anything they were learning.  That got me thinking...so this week we conducted our first review week.  It seemed like a good time; after all, it's our tenth week of school!  I can't believe we've already completed ten weeks.  Wow.

Anyway, if you haven't read about what we've been up to, here's a rundown:
Monuments and Symbols
Healthy Living: Food, Fitness, and Fun!
Sea Monkeys

And, now, on to the review of our review!  We continued with our regular math lessons for most of the week.  They're going pretty well.  I think the biggest problem is currently Tyler.  He's become much more active in his play and keeps gaining the attention of his brother and sister.  After all, they'd much rather be playing Legos with him than adding and telling time.  Who wouldn't?

We read some books I had checked out still about space and lots of other books too!  Boy, do the kids love listening to me read! 

Jace borrowed a movie from a friend and we watched that on Tuesday...How to Train Your Dragon.  Even though it's not at all related to what we've been studying I figured it would be great to watch since Jace just read the book.  Gracie only lasted through part of it, but Jace and I enjoyed it a great deal.  Good movie, "even though it's fiction," according to Jace.

The bulk of our actual review was done using our growing dictionary and making a scrapbook.  The scrapbook can be not only a fun memento, but serves as a record of sorts if anyone ever wants to know what we've been studying...and my blogs aren't enough for them.  The growing dictionary is a 3x5 card file box where we add words as we come upon them.  Ideally we'd be adding our vocab words each week, but I kind of forgot about it until Gracie asked about it a couple weeks ago.  Good thing someone's on top of things!

Thursday, we had a rare beautiful fall day...almost 80 out!  So after math, we packed lunches and snacks and went on an urban hike.  There's a great trail that runs through Silverdale.  We walked part of it, talked about salmon spawning and the importance of wetlands, and also walked through some of town.  And, to Tyler's great excitement, we stopped twice to play with trains at Toys R Us and Barnes and Noble.  It was a great day. 

And today...today we played Monopoly off and on all day.  The kids have wanted to play it so I figured we'd give it a shot.  Jace won, by a lot!  But they both agree they don't really want to play again anytime soon.  Too bad, I think we made some strides with addition.  Jace still counts on his fingers to add but he improved throughout the day.  I guess we're going to have to find some other games that involve quick math in order to move.

And, that's that, folks.  We had a good, relaxing, and wonderful week.  I found out that the kids did actually learn during the first nine weeks of homeschool.  They didn't remember everything, but usually if one of them couldn't answer my question, the other one could.  We've got some lovers of learning on our hands.  I'm so thrilled I get to share in that love and learn right along side them.

Friday Fill-In #15

It's time!  Time for military spouses around the world to answer some questions from Wifey.  Are you joining us this week? 

Here are my thoughts...

1.What is the silliest get-up you have ever worn outside of a Halloween party? (from To The Nth)
I've been known to wear a lot of rather strange get-ups...just ask anyone who knew me in college!  Probably my top two are a scarf that I used to wear as a shirt under jackets or sweaters and the one time I wore a fake velvet nightie to a formal event I went to last minute...it shed the whole time!  There may certainly be other concoctions I'm blocking!  lol

2.What is something that you gave up in order to live the military lifestyle? (from Pennies from Heaven)
I'd like to preface this answer with this: Every decision we make sacrifices something.  The military life awards some things that other decisions I could have made wouldn't have given me.  So, although I've "given up" something, I've gained too...hopefully all of you recognize that in your lives as well.

Now, for my answer...
I've given up living near family (for now).  There are many times when I hear a friend say that Grandma watched the kids for the weekend and I'm jealous of that closeness.  But, I think I'm pretty close to our families in the ways that count.  We talk often, write emails, send cards and pictures.  All my parents read my blog to keep up with the kids.  So, we don't live near them, but we do try to remain close to them.  And someday we might live closer again...time will tell!

3.If money wasn’t a factor and you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? And why? (from Life and Times of a Displaced Jersey Girl)
I've always wanted to go to Australia.  I'd also love to go visit Mary in Germany, but don't know that that'll happen unless they stay there for a while...a long while!  I'm also totally psyched to go back to Disney World sometime in the future! 

4.If you were going to join the military, what branch would you join? Or which MOS/rating would you choose? (from And You Never Did Think)
I think I'd probably join the Air Force.  I don't know much about it, but my husband is a submariner and I don't know too many rates for women in the Navy.  And I know I don't want to be front lines...so Air Force it is, I guess!  You'd think my answer would be more educated, wouldn't you?

5.What is your favorite thing to make for dinner? (from Armendinger Party of 4)
Nothing.  I currently enjoy making nothing for dinner.  In fact, I'm pretty sure the kids and I will be eating healthy but simple when Scott leaves.  I made meatballs last night...balls of meat...and not a single child ate them.  And I see no reason in trying so hard when they're currently surviving on fruits, select veggies, and eggs.  Why should I go out of my way to try to be creative to get them more real meats and side dishes?  Maybe when I read others answers I'll find some inspiration, because I really do like to cook and bake...I'm just feeling discouraged by my monkeys. 

OK, on that note...let's go read what everyone else has to say...