Shared posts

29 Jan 13:05

What Does THAT Do?!

by Kate DeSantis
My oldest son has been fascinated with how an ultrasound really works.  Each time we come home with a new batch of pictures, he wants to know more about this mysterious machine.  How can it see what we can't?  Does the camera go inside my belly?  Does the baby like getting her picture taken?  We have done our best to answer his questions but thought it might be best to just bring him along for our weekly ultrasound at our OB/GYN's office.

Since the visit is simple (blood pressure, weight, fetal heart monitor then ultrasound), I thought it would be a good one to bring him to.  I wasn't about to take a chance waiting any longer because, well, it's an OB/GYN office and there are some exams he just shouldn't be there for.  But, of course, he found all the stuff we didn't want to talk about.

After he had exhausted a line of questioning about the fetal heart monitor and the graph that was slowly printing out, he started exploring.  He looked under the exam table and found a large light.  "Oooh what's that for!?" he asked.  My husband locked eyes with me and telepathically said, "How in the hell am I supposed to answer that question?!"  He decided to go with a vague response.  "It's a light," he said.  My son was not satisfied.  "Why does the doctor need a light?" my son asked.  "To see things," my husband said lightly.  "What does he need to see?" my tenacious son continued.  "The baby," he answered.  We sat very still and hoped that was the end of it.

The doctor came into the room at that very moment and my son introduced himself then said, "Dr. Garner, what exactly is that light for?"  My doctor took a similar route as my husband.  "So that I can see better," he said.  "Is it so you can see the baby?" my son asked (he apparently did not buy my husband's answer).  "Sometimes.  Would you like to see the baby now?" my doctor asked as he switched on the ultrasound machine.  He is obviously a pro at distracting small children.  "Okay!  Just tell me if you need the light and I'll grab it for you," my son told him.  "Deal," my doctor answered.

This is a child that always gets his questions answered completely.  He sensed our evasiveness immediately and he became a dog with a bone.  While I wanted him to learn about the visit, I'm not sure he's quite ready for the details of a gynocological exam.  I'm just glad he didn't find the stirrups.

How can you turn your everyday experiences into field trips for your smaller children?  Is there anything they have been asking about lately that you can explore?  Anywhere but the OB/GYN should be a good choice.

28 Jan 14:46

YouTube’s your one stop shop for U.S. politics this week

by John G. Doe
It’s a busy week in Washington, but you don’t need to be in the nation’s capital to be a part of it. YouTube will deliver each big moment live.

Tonight at 9 p.m. ET, President Obama’s fifth State of the Union address will stream live on the White House’s YouTube channel, followed by the Republican response by Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers on Speaker Boehner’s channel. Senator Mike Lee will deliver the Tea Party response and Senator Rand Paul will offer remarks as well. Several of our news partners will also share their coverage of the event on YouTube, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The Young Turks, and NowThis News.

This Friday at 2 p.m. ET, President Obama will participate in the first-ever Presidential Hangout Road Trip. He’ll “travel” the country and hop into Google+ Hangouts with people from across the nation to answer their questions and hear their thoughts about the topics he addressed in tonight’s speech.

If you’d like to join the Hangout, record a 60-second video with your name, location, a bit about yourself and the question you’d like to ask the president. Then post it on YouTube with the hashtag #AskObama2014.

Tune in all week and keep up with the latest news by subscribing to

Brandon Feldman, News Content Partnerships, recently watched "Kid President's Letter to a Person on Their First Day Here."
28 Jan 14:42

I'm a Woman with a Husband and Kids and I'm Not Sorry

by Chocolate on my Cranium
"His house was perfect, whether you liked food, or sleep, or work, or story-telling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all. Evil things did not come into that valley.

"I wish I had time to tell you even a few of the tales or one or two of the songs they heard in that house. All of them. . . grew refreshed and strong in a few days there. Their clothes were mended as well as their bruises, their tempers, and their hopes. Their bags filled with provisions light to carry but strong to bring them over the mountain passes. Their plans were improved with the best advice." (J.R.R. Tolkein, The Hobbit, 61)
I've always loved this description of Elrond's house from Tolkein's book, The Hobbit. It conjures up the image of what a home should be - a place to sleep, work, eat, sing, rest, where physical and emotional ailments are mended, where evil does not come.

It also describes perfectly the work a loving wife and mother does in any given day. We clean. We do laundry. We sing songs. We read stories. We cook. We create a space where our families can feel safe.

Unfortunately there are some who don't value the work of a wife and mother, who look down on us for not making ourselves the center of the world, who think because we have a husband and children we are keeping ourselves from being exceptional. Because we gave up being a doctor or lawyer or writer or CEO we are somehow less.
A Mother With Children by Giuseppe Magni

Where would the doctors or children's authors or teachers or construction workers or grocers be if it weren't for the wives and mothers at home - those women who need all those things to make their homes run smoothly and keep their families healthy? C. S. Lewis wisely observed:

“I think I can understand that feeling about a housewife’s work being like that of Sisyphus (who was the stone rolling gentleman). But it is surely in reality the most important work in the world. What do ships, railways, miners, cars, government etc exist for except that people may be fed, warmed, and safe in their own homes? As Dr. Johnson said, “To be happy at home is the end of all human endeavour”. (1st to be happy to prepare for being happy in our own real home hereafter: 2nd in the meantime to be happy in our houses.) We wage war in order to have peace, we work in order to have leisure, we produce food in order to eat it. So your job is the one for which all others exist…” (Letters of C. S. Lewis (1966), 262. emphasis added)
Talk to any wife and mother. If she is honest she will tell you it is hard work. It is real work. It takes sacrifice and a lot of love and sweat and tears to do the same things over and over again each day. But in the sacrificing we become more. We are teaching our children, showing our husbands that they are valued, they are worth it. At the end of a long day at work where do people long to be? Still at work, or stuck in a car in traffic, or sleeping in a hotel? No! The place that beacons them is home. Home, where someone is waiting for them with eagerness. Home, where the mundane brings comfort and reassurance.
Amor Eterno by Simon Silva

At the turn of the century just over 14 years ago essayist Richard Rodriguez wrote about events in history and observed, "America sent its young men to fight in history's battles. They fought bravely and well. And though they came very close to seeing the face of history, many soldiers returned famished, they said -- not for a hero's parade of tape and confetti--but famished for the mundane: a hot dog or the barefoot pleasure of washing the car on Saturday morning."

Famished for the mundane.

Famished for home.

Not long ago Barbara Walters, whose career in broadcast news spans five decades, gave an interview with Piers Morgan. He asked her, "If you could relive one moment in your life, the moment that brought you the greatest satisfaction, thrill, sadness perhaps, the moment?"

Do you know what she answered? Mrs. Walters didn't speak of her career or her successes, including becoming the first female co-anchor of a network news broadcast. No, she talked about being a mother. "Can I tell you what I regret when you're talking that way? I regret not having more children. I would have loved to have had a bigger family. I have one daughter. I don't have brothers and sisters. I had a sister that I loved and she was developmentally challenged, I guess, is how they put it. I wish I had a bigger family."

I applaud Mrs. Walters for being candid and acknowledging that in the end it always has been and always will be about family.
The Happy Family by Ferdinand GeorgWaldmuller

For every thing we pursue in this life there will always be something we will have to give up. The question is what are you willing to sacrifice? I went to college at the age of 15. I could have gone on to do anything. I wanted to change the world by finding cures to the world's diseases  Instead I chose to be a wife. I chose to be a mother. I still choose to be a wife and mother. I recognize that my influence is more powerful here at home raising my babies, working with my husband. I am changing the world one baby at a time.
"In our hands we hold the power to transform the perception of motherhood. We should no longer allow a mother to be defined as 'just a mom.' It is on her back that great nations are built. To play down mothering as small is to crack the very foundation on which greatness stands. The world can only value mothering to the extent that women everywhere stand and declare that it must be so. As we affirm other mothers and as we teach our sons, husbands, and friends to hold them in the highest regard, we honor both the mothers whose shoulders we have stood on and the daughters who will one day, stand tall on ours." (Oprah Winfrey, The Best of Oprah's What I know for Sure, supplement to O, The Oprah Magazine (May 2005) 66)
As each new day dawns and my mothering, homemaking tasks begin I do not feel my efforts are worthless. I am passing on a legacy of motherhood to my seven daughters and three sons. They will go forth into the world knowing they had a mother who valued them. A mother who changed their diapers, fed them, read to them, sang to them, learned with them. And I will be exceptional in their eyes.

I am a woman with a husband and kids and I am not sorry.

Read more of my thoughts on motherhood and homemaking:
The Power of Mothers and Babies
Children Have Value
Why Homemaking?
Motherhood - Service of the Highest Order
Have I Done Any Good?

28 Jan 14:34

Ice cream truck, you’re killing me

by Jennifer Fulwiler

You know how I was going to get all the important things done the other day, but I wrote a post instead? And then I got sick? Well, I finally had a free moment to sit down and tackle some of these pressing items, but an unfortunate event took place, and now I am forced to write instead of working yet again. It’s cool, though. When Joe settles in to watch sports tomorrow night and the house suddenly goes dark because I never did get around to paying the electricity bill, I know that he’ll smile to himself and say, “At least Jen got to blog.”

What follows is an open letter to our local ice cream truck driver, who was the initiator of said unfortunate event. (And yes, ice cream truck rounds in January are yet another thing that comes with living on the same line of latitude as Egypt. Scorpions in beds and year-round ice cream trucks — remember that next time you’re shoveling snow, northern friends.)

Dear Ice Cream Truck Driver:

Hi, my name is Jennifer. We have not had the pleasure of meeting in person, though if I were to shout from a distance “YOU KIDS GET BACK IN HERE AND PUT ON SOME SHOES! AND PANTS!” my voice would probably sound familiar.

Let me begin by saying that while I appreciate your service to our community, your presence in our neighborhood is an increasing source of distress for me, and so I am contacting you today in hopes of finding a mutually beneficial path forward.

Let me begin by describing the events of yesterday afternoon:

At 2:15 PM, my afternoon was off to a lovely start. We had had a long week where one plague after another descended upon this house, which left me working so hard and under such miserable conditions that I began to consider scrubbing vomit out of the carpet to be a relaxing activity. So when a long stretch of health and peace seemed to be finally afoot, I was overjoyed. I got my two youngest children down for naps, and set the four older kids up with quiet educational activities (read: I told them they could watch whatever they want on Netflix as long as they leave me alone). Finally, I could escape for some much-needed time to myself.

I went into my office and began my afternoon prayers. Okay, fine, I was pinning stuff like this on Pinterest. But maybe I would have said prayers at some point. We’ll never know. Because ten seconds later I heard the ominous ding-dong-dinging sound of your truck’s music.

ice cream truck Ice cream truck, youre killing me

Unlike Mommy No-Fun, Yaya is always happy to take the kids to the ice cream truck.

It’s hard to describe the intensity of the reaction that that noise triggers in me. Just as a tornado siren announces impending bad weather, the distant, electronic rendition of The Entertainer is like a Bad Life Siren announcing that my precious quiet time is about to come to a very abrupt end.

And while we’re on the subject, is there no other noise your truck could make? Must the presence of your vehicle be all downside for me? If you insist on continuing to peddle overpriced unhealthy treats at my front door during naptime — a matter which we will return to in a moment — perhaps we could discuss replacing the current song with secret bird calls recognizable only to parents, or, if it must be music, maybe some Wilco. (Although then you’d have a bunch of hipsters chasing after your truck. Just brainstorming here.)


So there I was, in my formerly silent house, the sound of your impending visit now filling the air. The last time this happened it woke up my napping two-year-old, and I can now admit that at one point when the overtired child was hitting me while refusing to be put down, I had a vivid fantasy about running out of my house with a knife and slashing your tires while screaming, “That’s what you get for coming at naptime!!!!” (Although later I realized that the main upshot of that move would be that your truck would be stuck in front of my house — undoubtedly with the music still blaring — for hours on end.) (My revenge fantasies need some work.)

ice cream truck cabinet Ice cream truck, youre killing me

A+ for leaving mommy alone during quiet time.

But yesterday, while the two-year-old mercifully slept through it, my other children heard the approach of your truck. And, as usual, as soon as their ears detected the first few notes, they morphed from quiet little humans into rabid animals who had heard their species’ mating call, and whose ritual response was to howl “MOMMY-WE-NEEEEEEED-ICE-CREAM!” over and over and over again.

I was faced with the usual decision:

  • A. Refuse to let them get ice cream and watch them sit at the window like Flowers in the Attic children, peering from inside their darkened house at the neighbor kids who frolic in the sun with their treats.
  • B. Let them get ice cream.
  • C. Lock myself in a closet and scream.

Now, at first glance, B might seem to be the obvious choice. Just let them get the ice cream! you say. What’s the big deal?

Alas, this is a huge decision fraught with day-ruining implications:

First of all, I must make the agonizing call as to whether or not there is time enough to catch your truck before it passes by. There was one day when I announced with great fanfare that the kids could have treats, but by the time all seven of us managed to get out the door, you’d disappeared around the corner. I think I could taxidermy the cat and there would be fewer tears of outraged despair than I saw that afternoon.

But even if it’s clear that we have time to catch you, the difficulty has just begun.

Trying to find matching shoes for six young children in under ten seconds is like a challenge from one of those reality shows where they also make people eat roaches. I don’t even attempt it. Also, inexplicably, at least one of my children always has at least one sartorial disaster going on at all times, and there’s no time to untangle the two-year-old from the ream of toilet paper she’s wearing as a scarf if we’re going to catch your truck.

And then they get out the door. Contrary to all the evidence you’ve seen, my kids are generally pretty good about not straying too far away from me. They typically listen when I tell them to slow down or come back. But evidently we are descended from a long line of people who survived by hunting animals that were large, white, square, and made electronic music noises, because as soon as they spot your truck, an ancient, primal force takes over and instills them with superhuman speed and agility. This leaves me watching my barefoot kids sprint down the street at twice their normal pace in various states of undress, my words utterly powerless to bring them back. Then I’m running through the streets as well, occasionally wearing one black high heel and one poofy pink slipper because that’s all I can find, feeling every single pound of the extra baby weight as I lumber after my shoeless, ragtag group of children.

ice cream truck socks Ice cream truck, youre killing me

I can’t deal with shoes for our outings that are PLANNED.

We arrive at your truck where you’ve carefully arranged the choices so that there are the plain vanilla cones that cost $2, known as the “boring and stupid ice cream” by my children, and then, right next to them, there are the ones shaped like a happy frog with candy eyes and sprinkles for hair for $5.50. And I am panting and sweating and all decisioned-out, so we walk away with six ice cream frogs and I just blew my budget for little extras like dinner.

Look, I respect your entrepreneurial zeal. I admire your hustle. I certainly don’t want to stop anyone from making a buck in this economy. But surely we can put our heads together and find a better solution than the current one. How about you start a street-by-street racket where you have us parents pay you off not to come to our part of the neighborhood? The mafia has proven that this can be an effective monetization strategy for your type of business. Similarly, you could let us pay you to park your truck with the music on full blast in front of other people’s homes. I know someone who recently stuck me with quadruple the parent volunteer work I signed up for. I have an address. Send me a bill.

In conclusion, I must ask you to cease and desist your operation in its current form. However, if you would like to transform your vehicle into the Wine Truck that comes around every evening at 5:30, you have my full support.


Jennifer Fulwiler

28 Jan 14:22

The state of our Union

by Billy Coffey

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 3.12.12 PMThe State of the Union speech is tomorrow, at which several thousand media-types and politicians will take their accustomed places and either praise or condemn, and the other 200 million of us will offer a collective, exasperated sigh that things really have gotten this bad.

But I’ll still watch it, just as I’ve watched every State of the Union since I was ten. I’ll take my spot on the sofa and soak in every word and round of applause, every bit of analysis and rebuttal. Watching has become a tradition of mine, though politics has nothing at all to do with it. Martin Leonard Skutnik III does.

Lenny to his friends. If you’re forty and over, chances are pretty good you remember him. His face and story are likely stuck inside a dusty drawer in the back of your mind, one labeled BIG THINGS. Lenny was a big thing. Thirty-two years ago, he was maybe the biggest. And rightly so.

He was on his way to work on January 13, 1982. Just a regular guy trying to weave his regular car through regular traffic to get to his regular job. That changed when the jet fell out of the sky. Air Florida Flight 90 had taken off earlier from Washington National Airport, bound for Tampa. As Lenny neared work, the Boeing 737 struck the 14th Street Bridge and plunged into the Potomac.

Lenny was only one of hundreds of people who watched as emergency personnel worked to save the victims, one of whom was a passenger named Priscilla Tirado. Frightened and cold and exhausted, Priscilla was too weak to grab hold of a line lowered by a rescue helicopter. She flailed and began to fade. Lenny and the great throng of others watched in horror. But as the rest of them looked on helplessly, Lenny Skutnik decided to do something.

He took off his coat and boots and jumped into the icy water, swimming the thirty feet or so to where Priscilla Tirado struggled in nothing but pants and short sleeves. Lenny got her to shore. Saved her life.

Two weeks later, Ronald Reagan delivered his State of the Union. I watched it only because my parents made me. Partway into his speech, Reagan mentioned an ordinary man named Lenny, sitting in the gallery next to the First Lady.

Lenny Skutnik stood. The chamber roared.

Everyone. Citizens and media alike. Democrats and Republicans. Liberals and conservatives. All of them united for one small moment, for one small man.

That’s why I watch the State of the Union each year. Because it kindles the memory of that ordinary man who did an extraordinary thing.

And you know what? I need that reminder. We all do. The dark side of man is on display for us to see at every moment. It stares at us with each news segment from Syria or Iraq. It dares us with every profile of a political prisoner or story of the hungry and cold and oppressed. It’s as close as a click on a link or a turn of the channel. Every day, everywhere, there is proof that we are less than we should be.

It’s easy to see the bad in us, and how we’ve made such a mess of the world. That’s why people like Lenny Skutnik are so important. Not simply because of the great things they do, but because of the great thing they prove: That there is evil in us, but there is goodness in us as well.

Immeasurable, unfathomable glory. Bravery and love and heroism.

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 3.03.05 PM

28 Jan 14:15

Thug Notes

by Happy Elf Mom (Christine)

                                                                                                                                     I love this series.  Language warning, but cute stuff.  :)
27 Jan 13:50

On full quivers

by Heather

If I could change one thing about the way I’m perceived as a mom of many, it wouldn’t be the intrusive, assumptive questions about my family size. It wouldn’t be the curious, wide eyes in the grocery store. It wouldn’t be the people who take time to manually count the number of kids following me through the library.

It would be the retreating, almost apologetic way that other women dismiss their own status as mothers when talking to me.

“I know it’s nothing like what you do. I mean, I only have two …”
“We just have the one …”

Ladies, listen to me carefully: “just” and “only” are not words that were ever meant to be uttered in relation to the number of your children. You are a mother. Period. There is no lesser form of motherhood, no state of “almost” being. If you have a child, you are a mother.

You have earned the title. Don’t let anyone rob you of it.

See, I think I know where this pseudo-shame comes from, and friends, it is not God. It sounds like it’s from God. It’s even purported to be from His own lips. But look closer. Lean in. There is freedom here, not condemnation:

Behold, children are a gift of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed
When they speak with their enemies in the gate.
Psalm 127:3-5

How many of us read that just now and raced only to the headcount? How many of us flitted past “gift of the Lord” and “reward” and only looked for the purported command? You know the verse. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. A full quiver. In other words, a bunch. How blessed is the man with a bunch? Well, clearly, more blessed than the man with a few!

That’s the bill of goods we’ve been sold. Having a large family is more. It’s more blessed, it’s more godly, it’s more of a reward. And you know, for some of us, that’s true. Some of us have been called to live in such a way as to be open, always, to the children God has for us. He has spoken this into our lives and to do otherwise is nothing short of a sin. I can say that, for my own family, this is true. God has made it clear that this is an area He wants us to hand over to Him, to surrender, and to trust.

But what if God hasn’t told you the same thing? What if you’ve prayed, and sought, and asked, and the answer has been totally different? Or what if you’ve begged and beseeched God, and He remains silent? What if you have one child, and feel God’s blessing to be done? What if you have three but long for more, to no avail?

Are you less blessed than me, the woman with the big, white 12-passenger van threatening to overflow?

I am here to say no.

I am here to say that if you are a mother– of one, of five, of two, of any, here on earth or in heaven– you are blessed.

Those of us with larger-than-average families love Psalm 127. We take comfort in the truth that while the world looks upon us with disdain, the Lord does not. We feel wrapped in warmth at the reminder that these children are indeed from Him, and that the sacrifices are worth it. That we’re not freaks. That maybe, just maybe, we’re doing exactly what He made us for.

The problem here, in our rush to justify the calling we have heard so clearly, is the tendency to morph that conviction into a commandment. If it’s what I’ve heard, then surely it’s right for everyone! It says so right there! Children are a blessing! So, more children equals more blessing!

Not that (most of us) would say it out loud. Sure, the fringe has no problems doing it. But your average mom just trying to calculate how many pounds of bananas she needs to buy to get through two days with her eight kids? She most likely isn’t looking around smugly, hoping everyone sees that she has to buy 4 gallons of milk per week in order to keep the hot chocolate flowing at her house.

But the voice of the fringe is louder than the voice of that busy Anymom. Before long, the Big Quiver or Bust movement has co-opted our conviction, leaving those on the outside assuming that every interaction is a potential judgment.

“I only have three kids …”
“We were only able to have one …”
“I’m just raising two …”

Be still, friend.

You are a mother.

You are blessed.

There is no set number of births required for entrance into the club. Heck, you’re a bona fide member no matter whose DNA your children carry.

You’re in. You’re blessed.

Read it again. And this time, hear His voice, not the voice of those who have stolen your rightful joy and delight:

Behold, CHILDREN are a GIFT of the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a REWARD.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the CHILDREN of one’s youth.
How BLESSED is the man whose quiver is full of them;
They will not be ashamed
When they speak with their enemies in the gate.
Psalm 127:3-5

Children are a gift. Your quiver– be it a quiver of one, seven, or twenty– is your gift. It comes from God. How many arrows it holds is between you and Him. Never, never, be ashamed of the blessings He has given you. Because to have any at all, well … that is a miraculous gift indeed.

Shared at:

Womanhood With Purpose



27 Jan 13:44

Beauty Captured -- 177/365

by Cristi
It's hard work to get hair this awesome:

The Pebble Pond

©2009-2014 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced.
27 Jan 13:34


by Heather

These two.

Right now, they are best friends … and perfect enemies.

They play beautifully, pretending to be an owner looking for a lost puppy, or a baker bringing cakes to a favorite customer. When she wakes up, he is the first person she goes looking for (after Daddy, of course). When she is upstairs napping, he asks constantly when she’ll be back down, ready to be Bonnie to his Clyde. It is blissful, and beautiful and sweet and all the things that make Mommas and Daddies all at once proud and in love with parenting.

And then it blows up.


She is bossy and loud and unbending.

He is willful and defiant and unimpressed with her delusions of grandeur.

She shrieks and says he is trying to play the girl role in the game, or take the only pink colored pencil.

He shoves her aside or dangles the toy she wants just inches from her face before yanking it away and shoving it deep into his pocket.


And we sigh.

We sigh because we have been here before, with other children. Siblings who were like magnets: when the right ends aligned, nothing could pull them apart. But when the opposite poles were facing, the forces exerted couldn’t be manipulated to even allow them to touch. We’ve seen this, been here, wrote the book. And those kids turned out fine.


Our older kids are close. They get along. They count one another among their closest friends.

So we’ll soldier on. We’ll wade through the murky waters of “He’s touching me!” and “She said no!” We’ll guide and correct and exhort and soothe. We’ll consult our memory banks for the tips and tricks that make the season as comfortable for all involved, and we’ll find our way out.


And we’ll keep taking notes. Because there’s another little man coming up fast right behind these two, and unless a miracle happens somewhere along the line, he’ll find someone in the family to call his frenemy, too.

24 Jan 17:19

Mean Ol’ Schoolmarm – “In to” or “Into”?

by Heather Sanders

Mean Ol' Schoolmarm - In To or Into?
By Heather Sanders

I am often hesitant to write Mean Ol ‘Schoolmarm posts because I am not a grammarian. That said, writing these posts exercises my love of learning and encourages me to remain teachable (yes, even at my ripe old age); so, here we go.

Because the question of whether to use “into” or “in to” rears its head in my own writing, as well as the fact that the two are NOT interchangeable, I decided to define their proper usage and give a few examples.

“Into” is a preposition.

The word “into” is a preposition (linking word) that conveys movement toward or into (there’s that word again) something else; some kind of action must occur to use “into” in the sentence.

When confused whether to use it or not, just remember that “into” will usually answer the question, where?

Please note: “Where” does not necessarily mean a physical place–it can be metaphysical; for instance, “She went into business.”

She plunged her face into a vat of cherries.

She plunged her face into a vat of cherries.

WHERE did she plunge her face?

She plunged her face INTO a vat of cherries.

Thankfully, the man sneezed into the tissue.

Thankfully, the man sneezed into the tissue.

WHERE did the man sneeze?

He sneezed INTO the tissue.

In other cases, the single word “into” can informally convey a deep interest in something; for instance, “She is really into Grammar.”

“In to” is an adverb followed by a preposition.

When writing “In to” (two words), the “in” can be an adverb, but it can also be a preposition, adjective, or noun. And the word “to” is usually a preposition, but it could also be an adverb or part of an infinitive.


The kicker is that the two words “in” and “to” might not be related to each other at all; in some cases they simply fall next to each other in a sentence.

One old trick is to substitute “in order to” for “in to” and see if the sentence (sometimes loosely) makes sense.

Agatha came in to scream at her brother.

Agatha came in to scream at her brother.

Let’s substitute “in order to” and see if it works.

Agatha came IN ORDER TO scream at her brother.


Let’s try another example.

They tossed the clothes in to dry after washing the load.

They tossed the clothes in to dry after washing the load.

Hmmmm…when we substitute “in order to” it appears to work; albeit VERY loosely.

They tossed the clothes IN ORDER TO dry after washing the load.

By the way, have you heard the old joke about the magician?

The differences between “into” and “in to” may seem subtle, and, unfortunately, there are times the “tricks” won’t work at all. A handle on the intricacies of grammar is the best tool, but even then–it can be difficult; for instance, check out this old grammar joke.

“Have you heard the old joke about the magician who was so talented that he could drive down the street and turn into a gas station?

Obviously, he should have turned in to a gas station.

How did you learn whether to use “in to” or “into”? Any tricks for the rest of us?


Heather Sanders is a leading homeschooling journalist who inspires homeschooling families across the nation. Married to Jeff, Heather lives in the East Texas Piney Woods and homeschools her three children, Emelie, Meredith and Kenny.

24 Jan 17:16

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials- Persevere

by Lisa M. Nehring
So, you have decided to homeschool. You've gotten off the wide and tax subsidized path of government education and have high hopes of providing your kids with academic challenge and excellence, great field trips, travel, intelligent conversation, enough rest, privacy, and maybe, at least, a bit of peace. That's your plan. I love that plan. I think I had that plan once. And then reality hits.

Never Give Up
You get sick, or pregnant, or are sick while pregnant, your kids can't decode a, e, or c and don't want to, the field trips are too expensive or too far away, you are getting constant pressure from nosy neighbors and school teacher relatives to allow your kids the exceptional experiences and opportunities that we all had in school, you realize that you don't know grammar, not much history and want, far more than intelligent conversation, to just be left alone for 5 minutes.

What to do?      
 Be clear on your Purpose, gather Your People, discover your Places, and Develop your Program.

Evaluate regularly and don't get so committed to form that you forget the function of what you are doing- Is homeschooling working and effective? Are there better, more cost effective, efficient, enjoyable ways of doing things?

You will find that homeschooling will take you on paths you didn't even know existed, but you will also find that you are probably far afield from familiar paths and places. You will most likely experience a learning curve, over and over again, as you manage the path, or blaze a trail called, "alternative education." Learning curves often leave you feeling physically and emotionally exhausted and like you know nothing. In those moments, where you feel drained and inadequate, it is easy to want to throw in the towel.

And sometimes, based on your purpose and clear evaluation of the situation, you will want to change directions. There is nothing magical about one method of education over another. All of them demand that you show up, on one level or another, most of them have different goals. Which is why its important to know what yours are.

And once you set them, persevere.

per·se·vere  [pur-suh-veer] /ˌpɜrsəˈvɪər/ Show Spelled

verb (used without object), per·se·vered, per·se·ver·ing. persist in anything undertaken; maintain a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; continue steadfastly.

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!
23 Jan 14:02

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials: My “Essentials”

by Michelle

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials

I started thinking my list of homeschooling essentials during a typical morning in our homeschool.  I wrote down everything I used one homeschooling morning and my list included various things like: books, scissors, a globe, pencils, paper, notebook, masking tape, white board, paintbrush, paint, glue, cotton balls, glitter glue, stickers, card stock, computer, printer, and my iPhone.

While “day to day” items may not be “essential” in the long run, they sure make my day easier!


Considering the practical aspects of homeschooling, some other things I depend on and/or use regularly in my homeschool include:


I need a boxed curriculum that is written and scheduled for me in this season of life.


We love box day!

However, I don’t think any one boxed curriculum will ever meet all our needs, so we add and take away as needed.


We live across the street from the library, but I don’t use it regularly because I buy most of our books. We have a homeschool library that is filled with quality children’s literature and God honoring books.

Plus, it has been beneficial to own our homeschool library:

  • Encouragement: It is encouraging to my children to be able to look back at all the books they have read. I’ll never forget our first year of homeschooling when my oldest sat and admired the row of books that he read. He had never read so many on his own before! Our 2nd year of homeschooling, I borrowed many books from the library and he told me that he missed being able to see that shelf of books.
  • Convenience: I have the books I need when I need them. I’ve often relied on a library book that was available at the beginning of a year, only to find out that it was checked out when I needed it, lost, or even worse, discarded.


Of course, we still use the library on occasion to save money, to offer go-along books, and just for the experience. I also like to use the library to read books to make sure I want them to be a part of our home library. I am relying on a set of autobiographies for Core C this semester because I did not budget for another core this school year and I wasn’t sure if I would like them.

A Tote Bag to carry around those books!

I would really love a 31 Bag, but the tote I have came with our curriculum and it works.  I carry it from room to room and keep everything I need for the week in it.



Paper, pencils, scissors, glue, and craft supplies and all that stuff that having on hand makes homeschooling easier.


Science Kits


I snapped this photo of Dylan last week while dong a science experiment. Having the science kits for the school year means no one can get out of experiments using the “we don’t have everything I need” excuse.  And believe me, they do try!


A place for everything and everything in it’s place? {Always a work in progress around here.}


Our pencil drawer at the beginning of a school year.


Our pencil drawer by the end of the year.

Things get a little hard towards the end of the year, and reorganizing feels wonderful.

Buying shiny new school supplies is one of my favorite things to do at the beginning of a new year! I keep caddies or baskets around the house where we need them.



 I love baskets for all sorts of things.


I also love my Desk Apprentice. (I ordered it online from Staples.) Here is a snapshot of my organizing {in progress} for Bo’s preschool.


And adding a few square book shelves this year (from Home Depot) has really helped me organize books. I don’t know how I managed without them before!  My goal was to simplify and really organize this year so that the house would be easier to clean and they have helped lots.

And be it ever so humble, there’s no place like…




You can read our Home {School} Home to see more of the learning areas in our home.

Not that you can’t homeschool in other places ~ home is wherever you are.  We once packed up and moved into a 23 foot motorhome and lived in less than 200 square feet. I fit all that we needed to homeschool into one cupboard.  Each child had one basket of clothes and only a few toys. But, we had our curriculum, books, paper, pencils, colored pencils, etc. packed in nicely.  I had to be minimalist in my approach for sure, but I was just as happy.

A Clean House

We are more productive when the house is nice and tidy! As I shared yesterday, I can’t do it all, but we do our best. We often do “10-minute tidies” throughout the day and take about an hour a day to cook dinner and clean up the house before my husband comes home from work.  It’s the days that I have had a hard day, am tired and plain worn out, he is working late, and have lost the battle on the house that was clean at 5pm (when he asked it to be clean by) and is now a mess at 8pm, that I most need his understanding.

Dry erase board

My current board is a $20 board from Costco, but for years we had a DIY homemade whiteboard made from Thrifty White Panel Board (found at Home Depot), thanks to my husband’s suggestion.  In our old house it covered a dining room wall, but we cut it down and framed it when we moved into our house now.

Computer, High Speed Internet, Printer + Laminator

I use my computer to research curriculum, read reviews, purchase curriculum, for enrichment inspiration and ideas, printables, and much more. Sadly, my printer stopped working for me last week and I’m missing it. I use my laminator regularly, but not as much as I used to. I laminate flash cards and things that I am most likely to use again, but I don’t laminate everything like I used to and I use plastic sheet protectors more and more. (I slip papers into the sheet protector and use a wet erase marker (Vis-a-Vis).

iPhone + iTunes + App Store

Having an iPhone has been a blessing. I use it for almost everything.

“You use your phone to do all the things our Moms did with paper and pens, stamps, recipe files, checkbooks, clocks, timers, typewriters, fax machines, calculators, calendars, phones with cords, newspapers, books, thermostats, televisions, radios, and cameras.” ~ Fried Okra in her post “Dear Mom on the iPhone, I Get It.” 

Amazing, isn’t it? I’d add personal consultant and assistant (Siri) to that list.

I use iTunes to import CDs that I use in my homeschool,  like Story of the World and Mystery of History, and even nursery rhymes for preschool. I can take our school anywhere this way. I plug my phone into to my car stereo and we do a lot of car schooling on road trips. Or I simply play my phone in my living room while we dance around the room or snuggle up to listen.


Wee Sing Nursery Rhymes is a part of Bo’s preschool program.

And I use the App Store frequently for personal and educational apps.


Bo using Letter School to learn to make an A.

My personal favorite is the YouVersion Bible app. I use it for Bible readings with the kids and for my personal Bible reading and listening. {It’s free!}

Can I sneak Amazon in right here?! (Aff link) :D I have Amazon Prime and I love and regularly use the free 2 day shipping for my homeschool. I also use regularly use Amazon Instant Video when I need a little downtime. And I am continually impressed by their customer service.

A blog

hehe! My blog is a planner, a way to document our homeschool, and a place to record memories. It is also a motivational and an accountability tool.

Plenty of Sleep, Breaks + A Slow and Steady Pace

These are all necessary to prevent burnout. I am at my best when I go to sleep by 10pm and get up at 6am. I think it is important to get at least 2 hours of sleep before midnight. It’s not fair to my family if I burn the midnight oil night after night and can’t give them {and God!} my best.

Along with a weekly Sabbath rest, I take daily and seasonal rests. I’m considering Sabbath schooling with my little ones, where we school for 6 weeks and take the 7th week off throughout the school year and take an additional several weeks off in the summer and fall.

And a slow and steady pace wins the race, right?


Would you believe that 99% of the support I receive outside our home comes from the blogging community? If you are reading my blog, that’ you!

Money +  Sacrifice

When Luke and I were newly married, we were approached by a local private Christian school wanting us to enroll our boys. When we told them we couldn’t afford the tuition, they suggested we sell our house. Really?  But, a year after we started homeschooling, we were called to do just that. We sold our house and paid off all of our debt and this has enabled us to afford it.  (This was a far cry from what we had planned! I was making $25 an hour out of college and my income was going to pay for money we borrowed for the remodel and new triple car garage.)

I know how hard it is to live on a single family income. With our family size, we have lived at “poverty” level almost our entire homeschooling lives because we chose to homeschool. We make many sacrifices so that we can continue to afford it. Last year, we had to cut grocery expenses to afford our curriculum and each month, for several months, I took several hundred dollars out of our food and household budget to buy curriculum. It’s common around here now when we  have extra expenses to warn everyone that “we’ll be eating beans for a couple weeks.”  Which leads me to my next essential….

Good Food

Good food boosts moral, keeps us energized and healthy, helps us be creative in our learning, and in the case of my little Bo, is helping him overcome childhood apraxia of speech.


Nature’s Fruit Bowl from the Salamander Room.


The Y

The Y is an essential part of our homeschool in many ways. My children participate in sports and chess club, volunteer, coach, ref, and work there. Even Malachi my 8 year old volunteers and coaches Itty Bitty Soccer.

Let’s not forget the intangible things that I think are essential:


Patience, love, desire, conviction, motivation, inspiration, encouragement, structure, rhythm, flexibility, responsibility, compliance with state laws, fortitude, understanding, time, my children’s needs, help, a surrendered life to God, a relationship with Jesus, and lots and lots of prayer!



There’s really so much  more I wanted to say and do with this post, but I had a busy day yesterday and didn’t get a chance to work on it as much as I wanted to. I was up late working on birthday preparations for my daughter’s 7th birthday today, and then my site was down when I came on to finish this post last night. And I don’t have time to work on it anymore. So, I will have to embrace imperfection and publish this baby so I can go frost a giant cupcake!

Thank you for reading along with me this week! I’ll see you tomorrow with an essential that is near and dear to my heart!

We have 89 blogs participating in the blog hop this week!  You can read all of the blogs at the TOS Crew blog. I invite you to visit these lovely ladies this week:

Erica @ Be the One, Ellen @ Grace Tells Another Story, Jenn @ Treasuring Life’s Blessing, Christine @ Our Homeschool Reviews,  Sharon @ Life with the Tribe, Hillary @ Our Homeschool Studio, Melanie @ FinchNWren, Brittney @ Mom’s Heart & Heather @ Principled Academy.

23 Jan 13:56

Sexual abuse of children by persons in trusted positions of authority

by John Holzmann
I heard an NPR report yesterday about the ongoing scandal of Catholic priests' sexual exploitation of children and the Church's stalwart protection of those priests . . . and failure to protect the children.

A devastating story. As the story ended, I thought, "Supposing these power players in the Church actually believe anything they teach about the spiritual realm, how can they imagine this kind of behavior wouldn't wreak spiritual havoc in the lives of these children's--not to mention the children's parents'--eternal souls?"

Strange "coincidence" (???): I also received a gentle question about my modification of a story I reported on a month ago . . . about sexual abuse in public schools.

I had modified a blog post by Matt Walsh with the following annotations:
[T]here was a 2004 study titled Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature, commissioned by the Department of Education. It received no attention from anyone, but the findings were terrifying: nearly 10 percent of all public schooled students had been raped, abused, or sexually harassed by teachers someone at school. Over two percent by teachers. [NOTE: . . . I . . . replaced the link in [Walsh's] article [with a link] to the actual study by Charol Shakeshaft. If you go to the original study, see pp. 16ff (PDF pages 24ff) and pay particular attention to the paragraph that straddles pp. 17 and 18 (25 and 26). There you will read, "This analysis (Shakeshaft, 2003) indicates that 9.6 percent of all students in grades 8 to 11 report contact and/or noncontact educator sexual misconduct that was unwanted." Many reports--like Walsh's--have run with that number alone. They have not gone on to note (what appears three sentences later, in the same paragraph) that "Of students who experienced any kind of sexual misconduct in schools, 21 percent were targets of educators, while the remaining 79 percent were targets of other students" (emphases added; JAH). Multiply 9.6% by 21 percent and you wind up with 2.016%. So--adding in one more caveat made by Shakeshaft (p. 17 (25)), that her "findings can be generalized to all public school students in 8th to 11th grades at a 95 percent confidence level with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points"--we can conclude that approximately 2 percent of all students may, indeed, be sexually abused or harassed by adult educators at school using "civil and criminal definitions of sexual abuse and harassment." --I find that figure more believable. But every bit as much disturbing!--JAH]


That makes the sex scandal in public schools many, many, many times more prevalent than the abuse epidemic in the Catholic Church. . . .

My correspondent, Melinda, wrote,
John, I think you made a mistake. . . . [T]he quote you give says 9.6% report EDUCATOR sexual misconduct. The second quote says that of those who experienced any kind of sexual misconduct, 21% were the targets of educators. I would read those 2 statistics as 9.6% experienced educator misconduct, and far, far more experienced sexual misconduct from other sources. If I'm right, there would be just under 10% who experienced educator sexual misconduct, and that number is only 1/5 of the total number who experienced sexual misconduct. . . . The total number of students in grades 8-11 who experienced some type of sexual misconduct by somebody would be closer to 50%!

Well, I re-looked at the underlying document. I recalled that Melinda's interpretation had been my own at first. But, then, the suggestion that almost 50 percent of all students are sexually abused seemed completely unbelievable. And when you read Shakeshaft's article, she goes to great lengths describing the abuse by all manner of people (and, most especially, students) in the public schools.

On the other hand, Shakeshaft consistently refers to educator abuse. And I would never classify students as educators!

Still, I was uncomfortable. Because when Shakeshaft puts "students" in a list of possible abusers, she never includes "educators" as a separate class of potential abusers; instead, she always refers to "teachers," "school employees," "coaches" and so forth. The word "educators" always comes up separately. Then again, how else might one refer to teachers, coaches, administrators, and so forth in one word? Educator seems appropriate.

I kept digging. Finally, I came across another document that Shakeshaft referenced--a document that she herself wrote.

After reading this second document, I have come to the conclusion that Melinda is correct. I was wrong. Matt Walsh was right. Which--sadly--means Walsh's (and others') comments about the comparison between the Catholic Church's scandal and sexual abuse in the public schools totally appropriate.

In this new document I read, Dr. Shakeshaft writes (see the last page of the linked PDF):
[W]hen alleged abuse is reported [in the public schools], the majority of complaints are ignored or disbelieved. Other students note this lack of response and reason that it is futile to try to stop a teacher from harassing since the school has not done anything about it in the past.

Until recently, teacher unions have been active in keeping fingerprinting legislation or statutes that prohibit educator sexual abuse from being passed. And, as in the case of fingerprinting, current teachers are exempt from the regulations.

Even when students allege abuse and the district responds, few students, families or school districts report this sexual abuse to the police or other law enforcement officials. As a result, most cases are not logged into the criminal justice system. Instead, abusers are dealt with using internal channels. In one of my early studies of 225 cases of educator sexual abuse in New York, none of the abusers were reported to authorities, and only 1 percent lost the license to teach.

In the aforementioned study, all of the accused had admitted to physical sexual abuse of a student, but only 35 percent suffered a negative consequence of these actions: 15 percent were terminated or, if not tenured, were not rehired; and 20 percent received a formal reprimand or suspension. Another 25 percent received no consequence or were spoken with informally. Nearly 39 percent chose to leave the district, most with retirement packages or positive recommendations intact.

Of the 54 percent who were terminated or retired, superintendents reported that 16 percent were teaching in other schools and that they did not know what had happened to the other 84 percent. A recent report on sexual abuse in New York City indicates that 60 percent of employees who were accused of sexual abuse were transferred to desk jobs at offices inside schools, and 40 percent of these teachers were repeat offenders.
The Church (rightly) is being hung out to dry for the offenses of its priests. These preachers of virtue, one would hope, would be virtuous themselves.

But even acknowledging that the public schools long ago disavowed any responsibility to teach morals or ethics, where is the outrage against the schools for their unseemly cover-ups?

Why is there so little public knowledge of the dangers in the public schools? (Note the comment by one person on the NPR site: "Public schools have never engaged in widespread abuse of children and subsequent cover-up." --Really?!?
22 Jan 17:57

The Church is Not Dying

by Mark (aka pastor guy)
Please read the whole article... and don't lose hope. (It's written by Ed Stetzer who is not only the head of Lifeway Research but also the pastor of the church we attend.)
As I see it, the numbers of people who those of us in the church would say are actually committed Christians—those who are practicing a vibrant faith—are not dying off. The Church is not dying. It is just being more clearly defined.
The "Nones" category is growing quickly, but the change is coming by way of Cultural and Congregational Christians who no longer feel the societal pressure to be "Christian." They feel comfortable freeing themselves from a label that was not true of them in the first place. Convictional Christians are not leaving the faith; the "squishy middle," as I like to call it, is simply being flattened.
22 Jan 17:53

Why We Can’t Compare Ourselves to Others

by GfG

“Comparison is the death of joy.”  Mark Twain

I would argue that comparison is the one of the biggest killers of a joyful life, of joyful parenting and of joyful homeschooling.

Women and especially mothers are notorious for playing the comparison game.  Homeschooling moms are pros.  And it’s deadly.

Comparing to the family in the next pew or on the cover of the homeschooling magazine.  Comparing to the National Merit Finalist’s family or the ones all in the orchestra.  Even comparing to a good friend who seems to be knocking it out of the park.

The problem with comparing is that it isn’t accurate, but pretends to be.

We really can not know what any family is truly like, except our own.  We can’t know the personalities, the history, the baggage, the dynamics… the unique make up of a family.  Even if we are good friends, spend lots of time together, or have lots of commonalities.   Yet the comparison monster convinces us that we can know.   And we can and should duplicate.

As parents, we must remember that there is no set mold for a family. Or a homeschool.

And that means there is not set plan.  Seriously.

I wonder if that is one of the reasons the Bible contains no specifics details on how to parent.  Yes, God in his loving way, has provided a basic mindset, philosophy, and guide, but He didn’t give a clear cut check list for the mom of a baby, then a toddler, then a preschooler.  For homeschooling a first and third grader, then adding two more, and on.  Nope.

He is the author of the family.  Our family. Your family.

Families, in my opinion, are like fingerprints.  There are no two exactly alike, discernible as specifically unique, even if, at first glance, one can look tremendously like another.  Even if there are basic make ups of a fingerprint.

There aren’t duplicates.

So they shouldn’t try to duplicate.

When we start making decisions about what to do, how to do it, and why to do it based on comparison to another family, we run the risk of either establishing an idol or destroying a gift from the Lord (our family).

We simply can not line up our family next to another- even if the parents are the same age, even if we have the same number of children at the same ages, even if we go to the same church, even if- and get out the measuring stick.

comparison WEB

The combination in our marriage is different.  The life experiences and personalities are incredibly one of a kind.

The combination of personalities of our children is unique.  They are each fearfully and wonderfully made as individuals, not parts of a repeating or duplicating pattern.

So…. when we start comparing the success or failure of our family against another family, we bring death. Either to our own family, or to someone else’s.  The same holds true for a homeschool.

I get sad when I hear a homeschooling mom (I don’t chat much with homeschool dads about this stuff) comparing her family to another.  Oh, they don’t usually come right out and say it, but it’s in the way they talk about how their family is doing and the success of another.  It’s in their tone and it’s on their faces.

There is a simple cure for this joy stealing: stop it.  Just stop it.

Oh, if it were only that simple, right?  Technically it is, but in the heart and mind just don’t work that way.

To stop comparing, we have to be convinced.  

How can we be convinced to kill the joy killing comparison monster?

  • We must believe that our family is a unique combination that shouldn’t mimic another.
  • We must believe that God has a purpose for our specific family.
  • We must believe that the Bible does not give detailed checklists that all families must do, but instead He provides guidelines in grace and truth.
  • We must believe that He has created our family with giftings, leanings, and situations that are gifts, not curses.
  • We must seek His plan for our family, not look to other families for the plan.
  • We must remember that the needs of our family are not static, but change as the family does.

Above all… we must remember that the only God honoring place to compare our family to is Him.  All other places fall short and aren’t ordained by Him.


Do I mean we can’t learn from other families? Of course not.  God honoring families are beautiful testimonies and we can certainly glean advice and wisdom from them. We just can’t put them on a pedestal for copying.  Only Christ belongs on that pedestal.  It is He we want to copy.

He doesn’t kill joy; He brings it.

His yoke is not heavy; It is light.

He doesn’t make patterns in people; He makes unique creations.

Moms, homeschooling or not, walk away from the comparison monster.  Don’t allow him to destroy your joy.

Instead, run to the Savior.  Cast your cares on Him and seek His way.  Allow him to bring you joy.

Be convinced that God created, guides, and desires to be uniquely glorified in your family.

Give yourself grace to parent your family as God leads, not as another mama does it.  Or homeschooler does it.  Walk in His truth with the freedom to be the beautiful unique creation you and your family are.

How do you battle the comparison monster? 

Linking to Teach Me Tuesday!   and Mama Moments Monday

22 Jan 17:40

Adoption Update

by Katie

I know I have not said much about our adoption lately.  And, truthfully, there has not been too much to say for a while.  We have had several delays in our home study.  CPS clearances were "lost" by the state's who received the paperwork, and because of that we were in a holding pattern until they came back.  Thankfully, the last one came back about two weeks ago.  Since then we have filled out and filed our I800A which is basically a form petitioning the US government to allow us to bring an orphan from China, into the US (and assuring them of  our suitability).  We have about 3 months to wait until we will be approved. 

Once the I800A was in, we had about 3 days of "breathing room" before we got an email from our adoption social worker that had all the information necessary for us to start compiling our dossier!  I saw the list and tried not to get stressed on the spot.  Breathe, Katie, breathe.  It is just a bunch of forms, right?  And, after all, the end result will be so worth it!

So, things are moving along.  I still pray we will have a new family member before the end of 2014.  It is all in His hands!
22 Jan 17:34

School is the worst thing in the world

by Jessica


Yesterday was one of those homeschooling days where everyone keeps drifting away from their work. Admittedly, the kids had a pretty cool game going, they were building ships out of interlocking blocks (we call them wooden legos) and then sending them flying down the hall. Whoever’s ship remained mostly intact won that round.

I was working but could hear E. very patiently remind everyone individually to get back on task. “J, come correct these problems.” “N, please come back and finish your penmanship.” “K, you still have a half page of math problems.” At some point he was losing patience, but didn’t lose his cool (like I would have). E. hardly ever gets audibly mad, he just kind of turns red and shakes, but he wasn’t even that mad. He just used K’s full name to remind her once again to finish her math after she’d drifted away yet again.

This was supremely offensive, so she marched down the hall and proceeded to make this sign. (She had to finish her math in her room, and she did so with an award winning level of sulk.

Sign translation: “I hate school. School is the worst thing in the world.”

And in the pull quote (admirable styling, K): “After I finish math I don’t want to do school ever again because I hate school.”

The night before was… epic. Now that my youngest is five, we normally all sleep well and through the whole night. But for some reason every one had problems. The hall bathroom was torn out, so of course two kids sleep-walked and tried to pee in there. The other came into my room four times for various sleep-talky type things. I finally gave up and made him a bed on the floor which he disorientedly tried to somersault onto. Anyway, it was ridiculous, and so I was trying to sleep in a little bit that morning.

The sound of four racing, and consequently crashing, lego block cars woke me a little earlier than I wanted.

So K’s sign made me smile. I wanted to write the following:

“I hate work. Work is the worst thing in the world. After I finish work, I don’t want to work ever again because I hate work.”

Which isn’t true of course, I just wanted to sleep. But writing a sign about hating lego blocks or ship racing seemed excessive. And K doesn’t really hate school. She doesn’t even hate math. But she was mad and felt out of control of her life.

Raising kids is interesting. My parents were (are) pretty awesome, but I remember struggling for autonomy on more than one occasion. My parents never yelled (not hyperbolic, seriously, never, ever), but I’d often end up in very long, very deep discussions about rules and obedience and the consequences of actions when I was trying to negotiate for more freedom.

I feel like we have a ton of freedom in homeschooling. If we’re sick, or if a kid has a birthday, we can take the day off. We can turn a trip to Yellowstone into a school field trip, and go to the museum / library / movies when everyone else is in school. But I’m not a radical homeschooler, and I feel better when we meet goals and finish things. So my kids are expected to complete certain tasks, and reach a certain level of doneness by the end of the school year. Miss K needed to finish her math, but I liked how E. handled it. He let her vent off steam in her room for a while – and honestly, it gave him some drama-free time with the other kids for a bit. Then, he went into her room, sat in the rocking chair, and after a little chat about her emotions, they worked on her math together, in her bedroom.

She was happier after that, though the sign is still on her door.

We’re not always great at these things. Sometimes a kid lashes out, and I lash back, and in this scenario I always lose. Kids do not give you a break when your back is aching and you have HAD it up to HERE. We’re not big yellers either, but it’s funny, our kids will call a frustrated voice yelling. “You yelled at me,” N. will say with big, sad eyes. I didn’t yell. Not by a long shot, but I said something in an aggravated / frustrated / annoyed / worn out tone.

I think the point is that however I said whatever I said made them FEEL yelled at. Miss K’s main complaint was that daddy yelled at her. He didn’t. He used a stern voice and her full name which granted, does signal that we are losing patience, but that’s how he made her feel. Is it rational? No, but often neither are grown ups when we get our feelings hurt.

So I don’t know where I’m going with this. I guess I feel chatty this morning after a week-long absence from this space. I’ve been working a lot, juggling a few side jobs in addition to my regular work, which extends my hours in either direction and leaves little time for much else. We also started busting out the hall bathroom renovations Saturday, which I will bore you with tomorrow. (Spoiler, it didn’t take five years!)


22 Jan 17:14

Things I Cannot Explain...

by Herding Grasshoppers
Wyatt is winding up a semester at school this week.  I can (and regularly do) check his progress online. He knows this.  We talk about how things are going.

So when I saw the D+ I was a little surprised.

He'd written an essay - a comparison paper - based on the two "books" they've read in English class.  And I use the term "books" rather loosely as the first, while it is a chapter book, is labeled 4.0 (which means the text could be read independently by the average student beginning fourth grade), and the second was a comic book (3.3 - third grade, third month).

To be fair, there are some wonderful books written at that level.  C.S. Lewis' Narnia series comes to mind, or the Redwall books.  Writing that draws you in through wonderful story-telling and vivid description.  Themes that encourage you to be better, or that challenge your thinking.  Not so these books.  Blech.  Playground vernacular at best.  And it's not as if the subject matter corresponds to the reading level (violence, profanity, racism, masturbation, alcoholism, etc.) either.  Yikes.

So Wyatt wrote his paper.  I proof-read it and helped him type it up.  I might've given it a C, really, because I thought he missed the larger themes... but I'm an adult, and I can't expect him to see what I see.  Still, the D surprised me, even with the +.

His English teacher has a policy that (if they're meeting deadlines) students can revise their work to get it up to the grade they want, so I "encouraged" Wyatt to have another try at it.  I figured his teacher would've given him some helpful comments, some constructive criticism on his writing.

And you know what it was?  He needed a better topic sentence for one of his paragraphs, and all the rest was formatting.  Indent here, not there.  Too many spaces here, too few there.  Etc.

And that raised his grade to an A.


I'm not arguing with the value of following instructions.  If the teacher wants your paper formatted a certain way, you do it.  No question.  Get with the program.

But what value does his writing have?

The teacher left NO comments on the content of his paper, or the thought he put into it, to praise or to point out problems.  No challenge to think more deeply.  No encouragement to articulate his thoughts better.  Nothing.

21 Jan 13:14


by Michelle

This morning, I came downstairs to find this in my kitchen.

Zucchini bread dough was well on its way! But that wasn’t the special part.

Special… was seeing Cowgirl (12) working with Strawberry (8) to make the bread.

Special… was the prettiness of sweet daughters in girly aprons.

Special… was seeing the bonds of friendship that the two share.

Seeing love and relationships develop between our children is one of the most precious aspects of motherhood. That makes a mama’s heart sing. That… is special.

21 Jan 13:02

Not college material?

by Dad

Day 882 of 1000

I am a big fan of Matt Walsh and an even bigger fan of the idea that not everyone should go to college.  That being said, this blog post that explains why Matt did not go to college seems very wrong-headed in one of its premises.  It is an excellent post worthy of a read.  I am in complete agreement with him on his decision not to go to college.  I have described my belief that many very capable people would be much better served by apprenticeships, community college training, working in an industry to learn the business, then starting their own, etc., etc.  Matt has made quite a cogent case for those who are gifted writers to write rather than matricule.  I agree with all that.  The part with which I do not agree is this:

I think it was ninth grade, or maybe tenth, and I was sitting in afterschool detention. I’d been sentenced to hard time for being late to class, even though I had a valid excuse. See, I was only late because I hated school with a burning passion. I dreaded every class, every assignment, every test, every worksheet, every mound of busywork, every shallow and forced interaction with peers I couldn’t relate to or connect with or understand; every moment, every second, every part, every inch of every aspect of my public educational experience. I hated it. I hated all of it. I was suffocating.

It had been ten years of public school up to that point and it wasn’t getting better. It never would, and I knew it. I was able to hang on for a long time, managing adequate grades, even an ‘A’ here and there. I was “passing,” at the very least. But in high school that changed. I started failing and failing miserably. We’d take tests, I’d try my hardest, but often I’d still get zero answers correct. ZERO. Fifty questions — all wrong. It was humiliating. Eventually I earned a reputation. I was the kid who “didn’t care” and “didn’t assert himself.” I decided to go with that image — false though it was – because I’d rather be seen as the smart slacker than exposed as the moron who actually tried and still failed.

Wow. To my way of thinking, based on Matt’s very articulate blog, this is more an indictment of the government school education system than of any lack of ability on Matt’s part. We ran into any number of situatons during our homeschool years where we were frustrated our kids were not learning.  The kids were frustrated, too.  Sometimes we found a way to work around it and sometimes we fought through it just to get to a minimum level of competence that was “good enough.”  It seems to me that our society needs to educate our children to a certain level of competence whether they plan to be a PhD rocket surgeon, a millworker, a beautician, or a lawyer before they start into career training.  Probably it should only take until about eighth grade, but the government steals an extra four years of our kids lives and still cannot get the material into their heads.

So, I think the answer to students like Matt might be to try a different approach.  That is one of the things for which homeschool is better suited than any other learning environment about which I am aware.  There are probably others, but I think we are hammering a lot of round kids into square holes these days.  I am glad we got our kids out of the system sufficiently early that they did not have to suffer like Matt.

Betty Blonde #48 – 09/22/2008
Betty Blonde #48
Click here or on the image to see full size strip.

20 Jan 13:08

Please Stop Talking

by Kate DeSantis
Being heard is important to all of us but it seems particularly meaningful to my two year old.  He has a brother who has quite a lot to say and he is often interrupted mid-sentence.  He doesn't get angry.  It's worse.  He just hangs his little head in defeat.  I find myself saying to my oldest, "Hold that thought!" or "Just a minute, Drew was talking!" at least twenty times a day.  Saying it gets old but when I see my toddler's face light up, I don't mind a bit.  We've got this figured out.  But I simply did not expect him to use my same words when faced with an interruption at co-op.

He's in the nursery at co-op and many of the kids aren't talking yet.  They range from four months to two years and most are either being snuggled or wandering around finding fun things to play with.  The mothers, however, are a different story.  Many are relieved to have a moment when older children are not clammering for their attention.  Many are grateful to have some time to talk to other moms that are in the trenches, too.  Most of the time, I get it.  But sometimes I worry that the kids are getting the short end of the stick.  I engage in conversation occassionaly when I volunteer in that room but I try to spend most of my time on the floor with the kids.  Apparently my toddler has noticed.

He and I were playing catch when one of the moms asked me when the baby is due.  I held the ball and answered her.  She tried to ask me another question when my little boy's voice cut in.  "Scuse me!  Please stop talking, guys.  Trying to play with Mama," he said.  The other women and I exchanged tiny smiles and I said, "Excuse me but I should get back to this game of catch."  

He wasn't rude but he was assertive.  He was clear about what he wanted and he let me know that he needed to be a priority at that moment.  Will this always be okay?  Certainly not.  There will be times when I am engrossed in a conversation with a crying friend and he will have to learn to be patient for his turn.  But when his turn is interrupted, I feel that he has every right to remind me to keep my focus. In fact, I will encourage it.

How do your children let you know that they need your focused attention?  How can you build in ten to fifteen minutes a day to just hang out with them without any distractions?

16 Jan 13:49

The Mother I Meant to Be

by Staci Eastin
Holding Hands With a Newborn Baby

I’ve had two goals over the last decade or so: lose weight and be a better mother. And every morning in the mirror I see that the weight is still there and I’m still not the mother I meant to become.

My oldest is 17, and I’m running out of time. For him, the mother I was during his growing up years—the one who yelled too much and couldn’t stay on top of the laundry—is pretty much in the books. He’s gathering the trappings of an adult life: job, car, bank account, and W-2s. His days are filled with tasks accomplished without my help or input, things he would have needed me for just a couple of years ago. How did this happen? When did he become capable of this?

I’m proud of the man he’s becoming. And I know I’ll still be needed—I certainly still value my parents’ advice—but I won’t be directing the show. I have a few more notes to sing, but soon my spotlight will fade and I will exit stage left. I’ll still be in his life, but it will only be in cameo roles.

As a young mom, I despised being told to treasure the time when they were small. I didn’t want to hear that it gets harder later. Treasure this time? Right now? I was so exhausted that buttoning a shirt was a challenge, how could it possibly get any harder?

This advice typically came from a middle-aged woman who spent her evenings sipping herbal tea while her older children performed amazing feats like feeding and bathing themselves. Who was she to say that mothering gets more difficult? Surely she’s forgotten. Perhaps senility had set in, and she was remembering a time that never existed.

I can’t speak for all mothers, but what I think we’re trying to say—what I’m trying to say, anyway—is to treasure this season when time is still your friend rather than your enemy. I want to go back to when my list of regrets wasn’t quite so long and I didn’t have a ready answer for the things I wish I’d done differently.

The young years were hard. But there were Band-Aids for the skinned knees, dishtowels for the spilt milk, and fresh pages for the ruined crayon drawings. But now the stakes are higher. There are no Band-Aids for these grown-up hurts, and the failures have bigger consequences than a bare space on the refrigerator door.

His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22–23). I know this. The grace that was there when they were 6, 4, and 6 months is still here when they’re 17, 15, and 11. But now I’ve got new things to learn, and the dance steps required to shuffle offstage feel awkward and tricky. I’d rather repeat the songs I already know.

Be the best mother you can, but sanctification—for you and them—comes slowly. You will not be enough, and the good in your children will sometimes be in spite of you rather than because of you. That may sound depressing now, but it will be a relief later.

I still hope young mothers treasure the time. I hope their list of regrets is shorter than mine. And I hope I do a better job treasuring the season I’m in now, because I realize now I didn’t treasure it enough when they were small.

Photo credit: storyvillegirl / / CC BY-SA

The post The Mother I Meant to Be appeared first on Writing and Living.

16 Jan 13:40

Huge Proof I Have Crazy Love For My Children

by GfG

Moms are known for doing crazy things for their children.  All kinds of silliness and seriously sweet things to show love.  This past week, I joined the ranks of crazy.  A mom doing something crazy to show love to her children.  To two daughters, specifically.


I still can’t believe I did it and neither can Paul, who feels the same way I do about the items that have entered our home.


rat face WEB

On purpose.  Yes, seriously.  Two rats are in our house because I brought them here.


rat 1 WEB

You heard me, right right?

Here’s how the crazy went down:

We promised Chloe a cat for Christmas.  We have been a pet free home since August of 2008, when we had to leave The Ranch.  The kids have lobbied for a dog and cats since that time, to no avail.  We were renting or in a place we knew was not permanent and I didn’t want to get pets with a chance of having to give them away again.  So… we waited.

Waited for God to lead us to our Plan B which was/is actually his continuation of Plan A.

He led us to Albuquerque, New Mexico, but we were still renting.  Until a month ago.

Every house we looked at was evaluated by the children for pet abilities.  This one is perfect.

Hence the promise to Chloe for a kitty and to all the children for a dog.

As we moved and unpacked, we decided to wait until we pass the major snow months before getting a dog since it will be a mostly outside dog.  That being settled, Chloe turned her puppy dog (or kitty cat, as the case may be) eyes on me.  I convinced her to wait for her cat until after Dadaw’s visit since he is allergic.

Yet… as my excited mounted for getting a cat (I really love cats), reality did too.  I’m allergic and Phoebe is allergic.  We lived with three cats for many years, so it is doable.  It probably isn’t wise.

Sadly, that didn’t deter me.  Crazy, right?

What did slow me down… to a halt… was the number of people who said they wouldn’t be able to come visit us if we had a cat in the house.

That’s what did it for me: we shouldn’t let Chloe have an indoor cat.  How to tell her?  ”Oh, LORD, please give me the right words and soften her heart,” was my prayer.  Seriously.

He gave me the right words… and two rats.  I will never be convinced God doesn’t have a sense of humor.

Just when I was near tears in having to bring a daughter to tears of disappointment, I took her aside with a smile.

“I have an offer for you, Chloe.  Babe, I know I promised you a kitty.  I’m so sorry, but I’ve been thinking and thinking about it and I think it’s not a good idea.  Many people {I named them} wouldn’t be able to ever come to our house, plus Phoebe and I’s allergies could go badly.  So… what if we made a trade?

What if I traded you a pet kitty of your own for a family outdoor cat AND two rats?”

To say she was ecstatic would be an understatement.  Seriously.

The fact that Phoebe has asked for a pet rat for years sure helped. (I’m pretty sure “No stinkin’ way. Ever.” was my answer to Phoebe.)

The next day, I went to get the little “things” from a sweet camp counselor who needed to find new homes for her pets.  I arrived home  to this sign.  And girls giddy for rats.

Welcome Home Rats WEB

Ugh.  You know that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark and the famous line, “Snakes!  It had to be snakes?!”  That’s how I feel about rats, tarantulas, and scorpions.


But I love my girls.  Mucho.  Crazy love them.

And I love guests to be comfortable in our home, as much as possible.

So… rats it is.

girls with rats each WEB

Don’t try to convince me they are cute.  Not.Gonna.Happen.

And Paul has warned the girls that the rats will be shot if they leave their assigned area and persons.  He’s serious.

Still…. the rats are happy and my girls are happy.  And we are cat dander free.

I guess that isn’t so crazy.

What crazy thing have you done for your children?

16 Jan 13:32

Difficult losses

by Billy Coffey
image courtesy of

image courtesy of

We Coffeys are a competitive bunch. Life most character traits, that particular one has both its plusses and minuses. But by and large, our competitiveness has served us well. We are not content to be merely good at something. We have to be the best. And of course, in order to be the best, you first have to beat the best.

Which I suppose is why my son kept challenging me to games of Connect Four. You know the game, right? Big yellow rectangle on a pair of blue plastic stilts. One person has black checkers, the other red, and the winner is the first to get four of his or her colors in a row. It was under the tree at Christmas. Mostly because I played it all the time when I was a kid.

My son took to the game just as I did in my once-upon-a-time. We played a game under the tree on Christmas night, then again the night after, and then every night since. Until tonight, anyway. But I’ll get to that.

The thing about playing games with your kids is that you wonder when and if you should let them win. I’ve let my kids beat me at wrestling and boxing and Scrabble and chess. Not often, mind you, but often enough. It’s important they learn graciousness. Both when they win and when they lose. But I never let my son beat me at Connect Four. Some things needs to be a challenge. And to be honest, I like my kids to think I’m a genius at something for now. I know it won’t always be like that.

So we played. He tried, I toyed. He lost, I won.

Until last night.

My son beat me. Snuck in a backdoor diagonal of four red checkers. I never saw it. And what’s worse—what’s maybe worst of all—is that by that point I really was trying to beat him. He had homework to do, and so did I. I’d used my last move to set up my third black piece in a row, hidden from his sight on the opposite side of the board. It was a brilliant move. His was more so.

He dropped in his fourth checker and bulged his eyes.

I bulged mine.

“I win!” he shouted. Then he jumped up and crawled around to my side of the board just to make sure. “I win!”

There had to be some mistake. He’d miscounted. There were three checkers, not four. Or four, but not in a row. Something. Anything.

But. No.

“You win,” I whispered.

He danced. He screamed. He told his mother and sister. He even took a picture of it.

I was happy for him. And not. Like I said, I’m competitive. I don’t like to lose, especially when I’m trying to win and ESPECIALLY when I’m trying to impress my son with my staggering strategic intellect. That’s bad, I guess. But honest. At least I was a gracious loser. I allowed him his celebration. All three hours of it.

He was still awake when I went to bed, though barely. The excitement had worn off by then, leaving behind a sheen of quiet reflection on his face. I tucked his blankets and kissed him on the forehead, then headed for the hallway.

“Dad?” he asked.

“Yeah, bud?”

“I’m sorry I beat you.”

I smiled and told him not to be, that he’d won fair and square and should be proud because I was proud. The next morning, he said he hadn’t slept well. Neither did I.

I waited tonight for him to suggest another game. He didn’t. The box still sits untouched in the basket behind the recliner. I supposed it will be untouched for a while.

I suppose every child must inevitably arrive at that moment when he realizes his father is not the perfect man he’s always believed. That he in fact makes mistakes and misses things. That he loses. That he is a fallible, fallen person. It is a difficult moment, but a necessary one.

Both for the parent and the child.

15 Jan 13:59

Raising Kids with a Global Perspective Part 3 {In Which We See What The Children Think}

by Mary Hannah

 Previous entries in this series begin here

Having a global perspective has impacted my life in countless ways. Hi, I’m Mary Hannah. I’m 16 years old, a junior in high school and ever since I was little, I’ve been taught to have a very wide worldview. I can remember many days of homeschooling where my mom taught us about Africa and about the civil unrest within many of its parts and why this was (and sadly still is) the case. I remember one day when we got to mummify a “dead pharaoh,” all the while reading about Egypt’s rich history and one of its still greatest resources, the Nile. I can remember my favorite Sonlight Core — the one on world cultures — and exalting the day that we finally moved from studying Australia to India (one of my favorite countries).

It was my favorite part of the school day. And it’s only now as I’m older that I realize what a blessing my parents have given me. In this blog post, I’ll be covering some of the benefits a global perspective has gifted me with, but in truth, I’ll only be scratching the tip of a VERY big iceberg. The benefits are endless. Here are a few:

1) Cultural Sensitivity. Learning about different countries and ethnic groups means you’ll never find me staring at a lady in a sari at the grocery store or sweating through an uncomfortable conversation with someone  because they’re Russian. I may not understand them all the time, but I DO know that varying skin color and languages don’t make a person. I’m also very well aware, due to my parents’ efforts, that some things are acceptable in some cultures and not in others (An example: In Nepal it’s not really appropriate to wear shorts, no matter the weather), a fact that can be quite helpful in many situations.

2) I know where everything is. My mom’s already told you about our beloved world map. At this time, it is rather worn, torn and poked full of holes, but it was to this map that my mom always directed me if I didn’t know where a country was. The result? Geographically speaking, I can pretty much tell you where a country is located without looking it up. Helpful? VERY. Now, the side effect of this is an image of the world permanently burned into my retina but…

3) I realize how blessed I am. Shortly after I turned ten, my dad took me on a three day mission trip to Mexico. We went with a group called Amor and our goal was to build a house for a family currently living in the city of Tijuana’s dump. The trip was eye-opening. I saw firsthand people who didn’t have homes, who lived in cardboard boxes and ate whatever they were able to scrounge from among the garbage or could earn in petty jobs. Two years later, I went to Nepal for the first time with the same result, only way worse. This time, not only did I see the hungry, homeless and lame, but I also saw the spiritually destitute. I saw people who were worshipping idols of animals and six-armed goddesses, cowering before their porcelain images as they burned fragrant incense and chanted prayers for forgiveness and healing. These were those who had no hope, no Jesus Christ to fill their lives with joy. They didn’t have the assurance that God loved them and would take care of them, nor did they have the freedom of forgiveness of their sins. Instead, they had to make due with what they knew, which was praying to false gods, giving them frequent offerings to appease them, and living in the fear that if they angered one of them or one of their priests, they could die. Long story short (too late) the global perspective my parents have given me has shown me how blessed I am. Not just in material ways, but in spiritual ways as well. I have a roof over my head,  a family who loves me and ultimately, a Savior who died for me, shedding HIS blood that I could be free. Which leads me to my next point:

4) I see the need for missions. The mission field is real. My parents have never hid that from me, instead guiding me to a greater understanding of its diversity. In fact, one of the key purposes of parenting (in my completely untried eyes) is to teach your children that it exists, so that they can grow up to be faithful disciples of Jesus. We were all given a job by Christ before he ascended to Heaven, in the Great Commission(Matt. 28:19-20). It is our duty to follow through. And although my family feels a joint call to serve in Nepal, I too feel a personal call to go out into the world of the unreached and do my part to further God’s kingdom. Being taught about different people groups, countries, etc. has shown me that the U.S. is not the only place I should be going. There are 7 billion people in the world and nearly 40% of those people live in China and India alone. And how can they know of whom they have not heard? (Romans 10:14-15) No, Jesus clearly expects us to go into all the world, not just where we reside currently.

5) It has helped me decide on my career. Let me take you back four years. I was twelve at the time and during lunch, our conversation had turned towards a recent study on the best and worst maternity hospitals in the globe (here you see an example of a wonderful beginning to a global perspectives conversation. Following questions can definitely revolve around why certain hospitals are so good or bad. Is the location the key? Resources?) To we older children’s surprise, Nepal was locked in as a pretty bad country to have a baby. Questions flew thick and fast and I was horrified to learn that Nepal didn’t just have bad hospitals, they had bad medical practices all around. In Nepal, 80% of the population is Hindu, which means that they view the birthing processes as potentially unclean. Unclean means that it is scorned and no one will help the mother for fear of  becoming unclean themselves. So they kick her out to the barn with all the dirty, unwashed animals and the filthy manure to have her baby. And  believe me, this is no Nativity story. Maternal and infant death from infection is, not surprisingly, really high and death from many other causes is too. Without someone there with even a basic knowledge of birth and its various twist and turns, anything can kill the mother or baby, from shoulder dystocia to placental abruption, from preeclampsia to fetal distress. The truth of this struck me, and after a time of prayer and consulting with my mom and dad, I knew that God wanted me to become a midwife. And you know the crazy thing? The crazy thing is, I said yes. With all the time my parents have spent, pouring into me, teaching me to have a global perspective, it was easy to submit to God on the matter, knowing that I had a really good handle on what I was getting myself into. All the years of learning about world cultures has prepared me to be sensitive and loving to all kinds and ethnicities of people, with no holds barred.

Currently, I am training to be a doula through DONA International, then moving on to direct-entry midwifery. My goal is to serve in the rural villages of Nepal where there is no doctor and the Hindu presence is very strong. I’m praying over many options to make this a reality, including amassing a team of medical professionals from all different fields, to create a clinic on wheels.

So, there you have it: the take on a purposeful global perspective from someone on the receiving end. This post has been way longer than I had at first anticipated, and I apologize if it’s been a chore to wade through. But a global perspective has made me who I am, both spiritually and mentally; it’s deeply rooted in my identity. Anyone who knows me will tell you that when I’m passionate, I’m passionate. Thank you for listening. Hopefully this series has helped spread a little light on an important aspect of training your children and you’ve come away with at least something you’ve learned. Blessings!

15 Jan 13:50

I should just have t-shirts made....

by Blessing Counter
I had the pleasure of sitting next to a complete stranger at swim practice tonight. We exchanged pleasantries for a bit. Nothing too deep or life changing. But as is inevitable in my conversations, I mentioned my children.  As I did, I just offhandedly said that my Benjamin is in a wheelchair. We were talking about pools. And backyards. And stuff. But this is so what defines my story that it sneaks into my conversations.

Oh shoot. It doesn't sneak into conversations, I wave it around like a flag:

Attention, attention, I know you see me here with an able-bodied cute little redheaded eight-year-old, but in the interest of full disclosure, you must know that I have three other beautiful amazing kids and two of them have special needs. But did I mention they are all amazing. Did you need to see pictures? 

And then sheepishly I wait. I wait for the conversation to get uncomfortable. For the how-to-gracefully-exit dance to begin. And you can admonish me for not being more trusting, but I'll win this battle, because I have experienced it one too many times. No, not always. But enough. Enough that I know it is what fuels my need for full disclosure. Let's just get these cards on the table before I waste any more time in the conversation. Because if you can not see the value in my children (all four!), or if we make you uncomfortable to be around, then let's not even pretend.

But tonight: tonight, when I mentioned Benjamin and Mason, the air did shift just a bit. And swim mom's facial expression changed ever so slightly. And then this amazing thing happened: she leaned closer and shared that her son, the one swimming, also had a special needs diagnosis. And just like that the conversation went from pleasantries and pools to something more, something deeper.

And she shared a struggle she is having and I shared how we worked through a similar trial. And before I knew what I was doing, I was all out trying to encourage this mom's heart. And another mom pulled up her chair and we had a girlfriend session right there in the middle of the waiting swim parents section to beat the band.

And as I combed Little Red's hair after her shower, I felt a little like the Grinch whose heart grew three sizes that day....

Young me had very few walls. I trusted everybody. I liked everybody. Young me would have walked up into that group of waiting parents and made eye-contact with as many women as I could possibly get to look my way. I would have started conversations and given hugs and sprinkled pixie-dust. Ok...not the pixie dust part, but I think you get my very PollyAnna-ish young personae.

But life can be hard. And life can cause walls to go up. Walls to protect ourselves from pain. Walls to protect our loved ones from hurt.

And this year, some walls have gone up just because I was too exhausted by life to prevent it. And some went up because I was so mad at the world that Benjamin needed three surgeries in one calendar year that I pulled out my own bricks and mortar and put them up with full intent. And my spirit that longs to encourage others has felt flat, beaten down and worn out.

My Mama taught me how to crochet while she visited us for Christmas. I am quite addicted if the three yarn purchases in two days is any indication. And so tonight, I have this visual of having mis-crocheted a row. I just didn't like the way it looked. And so gently I tugged on the yarn and simply unraveled the whole row in seconds. Like it never existed.

Oh, how I wish walls could be torn down so easily.

Tonight was a glimpse. Tonight was a reminder that it is time to crawl out from under all of these walls. To blast out of heaps of stones piled high around me -- most of which are covered in self-pity and dare I say it, complete selfishness. Tonight was a glimpse that I am still here. I am still me -- albeit with a little less Pollyanna and Pixie-dust. A new year is upon us and I am just so glad.

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."  Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

"It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down." Hebrews 11:30 (NLT)

13 Jan 13:42

Homeschooling high school

by Heather

The truth is, we never intended to homeschool our kids long-term. Homeschooling was, for us, a reactive decision, not a proactive one, and it was made totally on the fly when Mary Hannah approached what was to be her kindergarten year. We happened to live in a really cruddy school district. We happened to be completely unable to afford private or parochial school. And we happened to be moving just weeks into the school year.

So, homeschooling it was.

We’d already sampled a bit of the homeschooling lifestyle. Since the day we’d brought our first child home, we’d been the sort of parents who explained everything (probably a little too much) and who shared our somewhat obsessive love of books and learning with our children. Mary Hannah had actually been in preschool for a couple of years when we realized how utterly silly it was to pay someone else to glue dry macaroni noodles onto cutout construction paper Ms with our offspring– especially seeing as how we had the whole “socialization thing” pretty much in hand with a near-constant play date thanks to some really amazing friends. So Mary Hannah came home and got the glue sticks all to herself, and even more time to socialize. She thought that was a pretty awesome deal all in all.

We went into homeschooling that first year with something of a “taste and see” approach. Christopher, who comes from a family line rich with professional educators, was pretty sure that while a year or two wouldn’t exactly hurt our kids, it wasn’t a long-term plan. There were, in those days, relatively few examples of graduated homeschoolers to point to in measuring the academic success of the whole venture. And, lest we forget, my husband was not Christian. So his motivation in pursuing home education was strictly secular, and decidedly in the direction of “I want her to get into the best college possible and make a decent living, and I want her schooling to ensure that.”

My heart was in a somewhat different place. Although I had become a mother with only the faintest idea of what I wanted the vocation to look like in my life, I had fully embraced my role, and, in fact, been empowered by it. I had realized that I was far more capable than I had ever imagined when it came to knowing and loving my children– that my instincts were to be trusted, that I was not just important, but vital to these small people. I had taught them to walk, to hold a fork, to sing “Twinkle, Twinkle,” and to share their toys. Most importantly, I had grasped that God was at the center of all of this daily magic and mystery, and that it was my job to pass on this truth.

With that as our starting point, we officially began in August of 2002. It was an auspicious beginning, complete with sharpened pencils and science worksheets. I remember, on that first day, finishing up in under two hours and thinking, “Huh. That wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought.”

Of course, there have been hard days along the way. There have been days when I have sent my husband text messages threatening to enroll children in the nearest public school. There have been days when I have felt my patience slipping and literally gotten up from the table and walked away mid-lesson. There have been days when I have wondered if I got it all wrong– if homeschooling is not only a bad idea, but quite possibly the worst idea I have ever had.

And yet, we have persevered. We have continued on for these past eleven years because it became glaringly obvious even early on that, for our family, homeschooling is the right choice. Despite the occasional bump, the inevitable hiccup, homeschooling has continued to bear fruit in our lives–and by “our lives” I mean mine and my husband’s. And our children’s too, of course.

Part of that fruit is evident in our oldest two homeschoolers, Mary Hannah (16) and Mathaus (13). Years ago, when we first began, I would have loved to have had the opportunity to sit down with some real, live, homeschooled teens and their parents to get an idea of what their lives were like. Did they hate being homeschooled? Did they feel they missed out? What did they study? How did they handle things like tests? What about college? Did they have any friends?

As it turns out, the answers look far different than I imagined they would back then. And they’re different for each of my children– which makes sense, considering that they’re such different people. And therein lies the beauty. Homeschooling has allowed us the unparalleled opportunity to customize an education to fit each of them, to focus on their strengths, hone their interests, and push the boundaries of the subjects they are less inclined to love.

Mary Hannah is a junior this year. She’s spent the last year wading through college-level biology and physiology in pursuit of her goal of becoming a direct-entry midwife. Her first step (which she was able to research and plot out on her own) was to become a DONA-certified doula. While she’s still finishing up some of the traditional high school courses (such as her nemesis, Algebra), the main focus of her studies has been on human anatomy, epidemiology, and human growth and development. It’s a trajectory that a traditional high school never would have afforded her the luxury of following. Poring over World Health Organization growth charts for breast-fed infants doesn’t really fit into the block schedules on most campuses, oddly enough. The sources for these studies has been varied, and has given us a new appreciation for the wealth of resources at the homeschooler’s disposal. Mary Hannah has sat in a classroom shoulder-to-shoulder with twenty-somethings on the campus of Bastyr University. She has accessed online courses. She has read volume upon volume of case studies and instructional texts. She has interviewed women, attended a birth, and researched specific conditions of her own volition. In educationese, Mary Hannah has engaged in a multi-faceted, sustained, time-on-task identification and exploration of a potential career path. And she’s loving it.


Far from being a one-trick pony, Mary Hannah has also spent a large chunk of her year studying French. Christopher taught her for several years, right up until he exhausted his knowledge bank. Seeing as how he had three years of high school French and two years in college, it was a fairly decent repository en francais. (Which may mean nothing, seeing as how I took German and have no idea what I just said.) This year, we looked into CurrClick Live‘s online, interactive language offerings and have been absolutely delighted with Mr. G’s French classes. Mary Hannah will be starting French 6 next month, and continues to bombard me daily with all kinds of dialogue that sounds lovely but means less than nothing to me. Mr. G gave her an A last semester, so I can only assume that she’s doing right by the French speakers of the world.

Another area of interest for our high school junior is music. Mary Hannah plays guitar (quite well, as it turns out) and invests a reasonable bit of time into music theory, composing, and practice. A CurrClick class on theory and Jean Welles‘ dvd instruction have been great at keeping her moving forward. Art has been another big area of growth for her this year. This has been a self-guided study, with no formal parameters, but lots of experimentation and discovery. In other words– the very best kind of art class. And, oh yeah– she sells designs, sews, and sells handmade items to benefit our nonprofit. I think we call that  ”home ec.,” and “entrepreneurial education.”

Mathaus isn’t technically a high schooler (he’d be in 8th grade in a public school), but he might as well be. The base of his studies this year are being formed by Sonlight’sCore 200, a course written for approximately the 10th grade. In addition, he’s learning HTML programming, digging into his love of film, working on Algebra, and tackling a genre study-based literature course that I wrote to drag him, kicking and screaming, away from SciFi twaddle books. He’s also interested in music, and took the CurrClick Music Theory class with his sister. And he’s taking Biology. And he spends probably two hours a day– like his older sister– working on original fiction. And he built our new dining room table with his dad. Doesn’t sound much like my last year of middle school.


All of this to say that yes, homeschooling high school is possible. It’s somehow even more rewarding, even more fun than teaching little ones to read. It wasn’t our plan in the beginning, but oh, I am so glad we stayed the course.

And the answers to those questions? The ones about missing out, about regret, about friends? Well, Mary Hannah and Mathaus have agreed to address those concerns in an upcoming blog post. You’ll just have to wait until they have time in their delight-directed schedules to sit down at a keyboard and share their thoughts.


13 Jan 13:29

Real Men

by Contentment Acres
 photo realmen_zpsb1fb5dab.jpg
Real men take an interest in what interests their little girls.
That's how daddies keep their girls' hearts.
13 Jan 13:21

Leaving the Ministry

by Contentment Acres
Jason Savage has some wisdom to share from his experience and echoes our own hearts on the matter.

"The funny thing about the title of this post is, I’m not leaving the “ministry” at all. In fact, I believe I’m preparing to move into some of my most effective service in the kingdom of God. I know many paid leaders in churches would be liberated by not being paid by the church. The problem is they haven’t been trained to do anything else. So out of fear, they stay. I wish more would actually leave the “Ministry”."
13 Jan 13:13

You Are Loved, Even If…

by Lynnae McCoy

This post may contain affiliate links to help support this site. Read my full disclosure.

Yesterday evening, The Loft, our church’s ministry to teenage girls, met. I always love Loft nights, because it’s a chance to show the love of Christ to teen girls in our community. Our leader, Treva, never lets a Loft night go by without telling the girls they are loved by their Creator. It’s something they need to hear. It’s something we all need to hear.

How many times have you looked in the mirror and called yourself awkward? Not good enough? Worthless? Fat? Ugly?

I know I’ve used all of those words on myself. They’re harsh. If I ever heard someone calling my daughter any of those words, I’d be sure to put that person in her place, and I’d do it quickly.

Yet, as women, we feel perfectly justified in speaking those words about ourselves.

Don’t. Just don’t.

You Are Loved

In the eyes of your Creator, you are loved. Even if:

You feel awkward.

You don’t feel like you measure up.

You don’t feel as if you have anything to add to the world.

Your body type doesn’t conform to the world’s definition of beauty.

You are loved, even if

You. Are. Loved.

You are precious in the eyes of Jesus. You are a masterpiece. Redeemed. Forgiven. A daughter of the King. A new creation. Worth dying for.

You are known by your God. And you are loved by your King. Rest in that today.

This post is shared at Titus 2sday and Coffee for Your Heart.

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