Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wishing Well

I drive Caleb to school for band every day. It's a short, very ordinary drive. 5 turns, 2ish stoplights, usually done in about 7 minutes. It's pretty easy to NOT notice anything about the trip after making it hundreds of times.

This week I happened to notice, behind one of the houses we pass, one of those wishing well lawn decorations. The thing that was noticeable about this wishing well was that it was all covered in plastic securely held by rope or plastic.

On the first day I saw this, I thought about how smart the owners were to protect it from the coming Maine winter.

On the second day I thought about how it was kind of ugly.

On the third day I saw it I thought about how sad it was to have to cover up something the owners were clearly fond of in such an ugly way.

Today, I saw it as a Wishing Well Covered, and began to think philosophically about it.

How often do we do the same thing with our wishes and hopes and dreams? They are our my special hopes and dreams. And I certainly don't want to risk the atmospheric challenges that might come from just  putting them out there, do I? How many ways do I cover them up in a protective stance?

So, now I guess I can plan on viewing this Wishing Well icon on my way to the junior high for the rest of the winter. What will I do with my wishes?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Letter to My Future Self, #1

Dear Emily,

Hopefully you will remember to read this when you are a mother of adult children. There are some things you need to remember when you are, and especially if the kids have kids.

Your job, and your approach to your job as mom (and homeschooler) has been to raise up independent, creative individuals with their own opinions and ideas. Your hope for your kids is that they would see, experience, and impact the world wherever they want to and in what ways they discern are best.

Your kids have watched you pursue what you love and feel passionately about and they have every right to expect that to continue in you even as you grow old.

You have told your kids that you will have your own adventures when they are adults. You have promised to yourself and to Marc and to them that your life will be spent living passionately serving God, not desperately seeking grandchildren. You expect yourself to have relationships that fill you and challenge that have no DNA connection to you.

When you were younger (and impossible wise) you didn't really believe in a retirement age. You don't see an age when you will stop to loiter and rest. Slow down, for sure. Need extra help, probably. But stopping your growing and contribution to those around you are inconceivable to you. As long as you can see, you will be able to read out loud to someone. And if you lose your sight you will make up stories, tell stories from memory. And you will always be able to sing and offer an encouraging smile to someone passing by.

Your job is as a parent to adult children is to cheer for them, pray for them, support them. You will disagree with their choices and approaches sometimes. Honor them enough to put aside your experience and opinions and to learn something from them. Honor them enough to remember the many promises you made when you were younger.

PS. Emily, you should make sure the kids have a link to this and future letters to yourself.

PPS. You need to consider and write about honor and humility, too... these admittedly weren't strong considerations when you wrote this.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

About NaBloPoMo

Sunflower Waking Up -
makes me happy on a fall day
So, I said I would be writing every day this month. And I haven't written since last Thursday. Since we are half-way through the month, I suppose it's a good day to write about what I've learned about writing and myself so far.

When I plan to do something, I do it. I made a commitment to myself to write every day. And until last Thursday I did. Even if it came to the end of the day and I was getting ready for bed, I would write.

I will keep working until the work is done... and the work never ends. So when I turned off the computer last Thursday night, I opted to not turn it on again until Monday morning. I needed a rest from screen.

Screen makes a lot of lines fuzzy. I can go from writing to shopping to snooping (er, I mean social media).  I am highly distractible. Especially when I am tired. From doing all that work that never gets done.

How am I trying to apply what I've learned?

  • Spending the evenings knitting rather than with the laptop.
  • Re-examining the wisdom of writing EVERY day.
  • Scheduling time in the afternoon to write, or pay bills, or shop (so that I have more bills to pay). 
  • Learning the art of using 'drafts' when blogging - so that I can have more than one I'm working on, and am not constantly working on the one that will be published. 
  • Sticking to that time. 

These are just ideas, and I'm honestly not sure how long it will take me to apply, how long I will remember the goal... but it's a good start to some good thinking.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

First Evening of Hope

Just getting in from Amirah's First Evening of Hope. Over 200 people gathered for the dinner as we commit to do our part in helping survivors of human trafficking.

There are more slaves in the world today than during the time of the transatlantic slave trade.

Humans are bought and sold for labor and sex.

There are more slaves in the world today than during the time of the transatlantic slave trade.

Human trafficking is the number two most profitable crime in the world today, second only to drugs.

There are more slaves in the world today than during the time of the transatlantic slave trade.

Boston is on the top 10 list of US ports of human trafficking.

There are more slaves in the world today than during the time of the transatlantic slave trade.

10,000 humans are trafficked through Boston, each year.

There are more slaves in the world today than during the time of the transatlantic slave trade.

Thank God for organizations that are helping with prevention and rescue.

There are more slaves in the world today than during the time of the transatlantic slave trade.

There are only 100 beds in the US for survivors that get out of slavery. 90 of those are for kids.

There are more slaves in the world today than during the time of the transatlantic slave trade.

10 beds, in the US, for survivors of human trafficking.

There are more slaves in the world today than during the time of the transatlantic slave trade.

Amirah will open it's first house in the Boston area in early 2012. There will be a few more beds, and a whole slew of people working with the survivors to heal, to rediscover themselves, to thrive.

To be Free.

**the website is down for google apps maintenance ... please come back and check the link next week...

Wednesday, November 09, 2011


Animal Kingdom 2011
I just began volunteering in Sofia's former kindergarten classroom last week. I loved, loved, loved listening the kids grow as readers last year. So this year, I asked Mrs. L. if I could volunteer again. Sofie goes to music on Wednesday mornings, so during that time, I get to work with Mrs. L.

Today, I listened to 4 or 5 kids read. Then I got to help a few students write their journal entries. Today they were writing about animal mothers and babies.

Can you even dial back to when you were pre-literate? You see these symbols that you are told mean something. There are 26 and you need to learn to write them legibly and know what sound they make. Oh! And remember some of them make more than one sound, and some of them work with other letters and make whole new sounds.

To write a sentence, a child not only needs to master those skills, they need to be able to put together a full sentence in their mind, remember it clearly enough, and then all apply the alphabet skills.

The first little guy that I worked with - chubby with big blue eyes and the sweetest spirit, though he is probably the first to get distracted when something shiny comes by :) He chose to write about kangaroo moms and babies and his sentence was "A kangaroo has a baby joey."

Check out how long kangaroo is! But all the sound (except the 'oo' at the end) are fairly clear if you slow the word way down and listen carefully. So that's what we did. Sound by sound, slowly, carefully, checking his alphabet chart on his desk. But he did it. We got to the end of kangaroo, and I told him 'hey, this oooo sound is tricky, let me tell you about this', and I gave him the 'double o' at the end.

Oh, if I could have captured his face. When he realized that he had spelled 'Kangaroo', he beamed. His eyes said 'oh my goodness, I CAN do this!' Pride was bursting out of all of his little kindergarten self.

Helping kids learn to read and write is like midwife-ing the future.  I am absolutely thrilled that I got to participate in this birth today.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

You are invited...

To my Pity Party.

I've got nothing to write that I would have my kids or grandmothers read. (I've got plenty to write... but those are my general filters when I think about blogging.)

But I committed to blogging daily this month.

Tomorrow will be a new day, with a good nights sleep (if the election results for my town ever get posted), and I have several non-pity party posts in my idea pool.

Monday, November 07, 2011


One of the ways that homeschooling works for us is that we all do our part to keep the house --- livable.

This is a part of what our chore chart looks like. When I looked over this coming year, I realized that I needed some charts to handle all that we were taking on. We have been using this since August, and so far it is serving us pretty well.

Yellow means 'everyone does it', and each of the colors represent the 6, the 9, and the 12 yo. Our chores are on a 3 week rotation, at the kids request, so that someone doesn't ALWAYS have to do the laundry on Monday.

Our three main chores, next to taking care of their own rooms, are the bathroom, the dishwasher, and laundry. And yes, all three of them do all of those things.

We don't get to all the chores all the time, and that's okay. And that's how I know that This Chart is working for us - because it is guiding us, but not overwhelming and stressing us.

My kids wouldn't believe me, but this isn't just about my load being lighter. This is about helping them to know how to care for themselves and their stuff. And to know that just because 'most of their friends' are told they can't do it, shouldn't do it, won't do it - they CAN do it.

And yes, we may have more broken dishes per capita in our household and more wrinkles per county, but we spend a part of our day caring for the physical needs of our home - and our family.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

He Said, She Said

(Yeah, this was almost 17 years ago. We SO
don't look like this anymore.)
A couple weeks ago, Marc wrote a blog post about being a traveling spouse. It was a good blog post, and we both agreed that I should write my side of the story, too. I have a lot to say about being married to a traveller. But for this post I thought I would take a 'he said, she said' approach.

1. He said - "Take half days when you are home." She says - You need to know your (and your kid's) needs.  It is so much fun and so helpful to have Marc with the flexibility of half-days. It is one of the reasons that we have agreed on his traveling lifestyle - so that when we are together we have the flexibility for different choices. My biggest mistake has been taking those half-days as all out lazy family days. Once in a while that is GREAT and necessary. But done too often, it will create an overwhelming experience when he leaves and we get back to routine. Laundry and dishes and schoolwork don't stop needing to be tended to. So when your spouse says "I'm taking a half-day", you need to carefully calculate how this time can serve the family. Marc isn't asking for us all to take a holiday, he's offering to serve us in fun and work. So this afternoon, on such a half day, I am getting some much needed time to myself and Marc is helping our youngest find all that she needs to be something wonderful for Halloween (not only saving me time from having to do the running around AND doing something I hate doing - coming up with costumes).

2. He said - "Do your own laundry." Remember that everyone works hard when Dad (spouse) is on the road.  I think in many healthy relationships you meet two people that want to serve each other. When Marc gets home we all let out a collective sigh of relief and joy. My inclination is to 'out-serve' him. He's been on the road, in hotels, he deserves to be cared for and pampered, right? Yes. But I do to. And I need to be careful to be served (that's a whole other topic) as well as serving. She says - Yes, do your own laundry.

3. He said 'Wash the dishes when you are home'. She says - Wash the dishes when he isn't home. What I mean is keep caring for yourself and your home while he is gone. Seriously, I have some great justification for leaving dishes, laundry, towels... when he isn't here. I homeschool three kids, and to add 'double parent duty'... you would agree with me, right?  I do it for me. So, even though there are chores and tasks that I would pay serious money to not do, I will continue to do them most of the time, because the feeling of a settled and cared for home settle and make me feel cared for.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Morning Glories

In the past, I've shared pictures of my sunflowers. I did plant sunflowers this year, in a  different place, but this summer the flowers that were most captivating were my morning glories.

You can see that I started out with a very pretty bamboo place for my flowers to climb. We came home after a week away and the plants had literally dragged down the poles and kept the bamboo poles hidden until I cleaned the bed this fall and pulled them out of the woven trap.

The flowers were slow in growing, but when they came they were so abundant.

(I'm still learning iPhoto on my mac, after being a picassa girl for years. Anyone have any favorite easy mac photo software?)

Friday, November 04, 2011

16 years ago....

My friend Renee, who blogs at FIMBY, mentioned recently that she was getting ready to read A Circle of Quiet, by Madeleine L'Engle. L'Engle is probably my very favorite author. I have a very fond feeling toward this book. So I picked up my copy and began reading it again.

The first time I read this book was 16 years ago. I had been married all of two months to someone I had not yet known for a year. This book, actually the whole Crosswicks Journal series, helped me survive a very hard first few years of marriage. That was what I remember about this book.

Today, I read what may have been the Key for my young heart to not running away to Australia 16 years ago; and it is astonishing to me that this passage still gives me the same grace and hope and love for my marriage that it did all those years ago.

"When we were married we made promises, and we took them seriously. No relationship between two people which is worth anything is static. If a man and wife tell me they've never had a quarrel, I suspect that something is festering under the skin. There've been number of time in my marriage when - if I hadn't made promises - I'd have quit. I'm sure this is equally true of Hugh; I'm not an easy person to live with. 
I'm quite sure that Hugh and I would never have reached the relationship we have today if we hadn't made promises. Perhaps we made them youthfully, and blindly, no knowing all that was implied; but the very promises have been saving grace." 
M. L'Engle, A Circle of Quiet (p107 in my book)

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Well, Why Not....

As I've been getting the kids going on their NaNoWriMo, it is very weird to to not have a writing project myself. But it really would be impossible for me to participate in NaNoWriMo while helping the kids with their own writing. (Not to mention our current life schedule.)

Last night I was visiting @lannalee 's blog ( - I met her and @rurugby at the #smbme birthday party last month - and saw that she is participating in NaBloPoMo.

As I was blogging about the kids writing, I had thought, maybe I should just commit to blogging each day  - or nearly. So stumbling - it felt stumbling- across Lanna Lee's "in solidarity with her NaNoWriMo friends" line cemented it for me.

Then, I wondered if I should join the NaBloPoMo or just blog. Because, you know. I can't just do something without over thinking it.

And I remembered that last November was a big writing month for me, too. Anna and Marc were in NZ for most of the month and my part of their journey was to blog each day. So maybe November is a good writing month for me.

So, why not.

NaBloPoMo 2011

(Thanks, LannaLee!)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

So much just happened....

I was writing a blog post, chatting on FB with a friend who has been on my mind for over a week - and Caleb came running out of his room.

"Guys! Come here! Quick!"

He ran to our patio door, opened it, and in came the cat who has been missing since Saturday afternoon.

I had just written to my friend on chat "I'm not sure at what point I tell Anna to change her prayers from 'bring Cleo home' to 'God please comfort me.'" Seriously. I'm sure FB must keep track of these things, if you want to check.

Seriously, I hadn't hit the period to that sentence when Caleb came out of his room.

As if that all isn't crazy enough, the phone rang and it was Marc - who we haven't talked to since Sunday night (something about his being in Mexico).

All of this happened at the same time.

And I am so overwhelmed by God's goodness and caring especially to my kids. Kids worried about the cat. Kids missing their Dad. Me worried about the cat and missing my husband.

And All at Once His love broke into my very cozy living room and gave me More than I could have hoped for, More even than I thought I needed.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, EPH3:20. 

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


This month is NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. I think I would have been almost entirely unaware of it if a friend hadn't forwarded me a link to The Young Writers Program linked with NaNoWriMo. Almost as soon as I hit the home page, I was hooked. And the more I looked around, the more excited I got. There are some AMAZING writing resources.

So, this month Pitman Academy is participating in NaNoWriMo. My two challenges are the age spread of my students (1st, 4th, 7th) AND we didn't do any pre work last month.

On the website there are lesson plans, ideally presented in October, for every level. There is a treasure trove of resources! I printed out free lesson plans and free worksheets. There is an interactive online classroom - which we may or may not take advantage of.

For Pitman Academy participants, the first week of November is going to be spent doing a NaNoWriMo bootcamp - doing that work that would have ideally been done in October. We are going to get through as many of the lesson plans and worksheets as we can. I will be happy if the kids start writing next week. And even though the spirit of NaNoWriMo is to get it done in November, I can already see that I'm not going to cut off the kids' muses just because the calendar page changes.

I have been astonished by how hard the kids are willing to work on this. Not only do we sit together while I teach for about 40 minutes (NOT how we do homeschool, so this is a learning curve in and of itself), but will gladly do their 'homework' until bedtime. Even when I tell them they've put enough time in, they keep going.

Yesterday, we covered the basics about what is a novel and what is NaNoWriMo. Today, we talked about what makes us love or hate a book AND began developing Main Characters, Supporting Characters, and Villains.

I love that each night at supper the kids have asked each other about their NaNoWriMo work.

I am so excited and overwhelmed by this adventure.

Tomorrow, we work on plot.