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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Years Eve

It is New Years Eve. I had planned on my boyz coming home to celebrate. We usually get together with another family. They wanted us to come over this year but I have all these pups to care for (did I share about the pups yet? If I didn't, I will). I am not comfortable leaving them for long lengths of time.
We were also invited to our friends annual party. They make egg rolls and hot wings and take the kids out....hmmm, what would you call it? They take the kids out on sleds behind the 4 wheeler and go crazy up and down the road. They go from snow bank to snow bank on either side of the road. Don't worry. They live way up north and you see a car coming 2 miles up the road.
This family has 8 children, chickens, goats, great danes, old english bull dogges, chihuahuas, 100-something acres to play on. It is just a blast to go there in general and they put a lot of effort to make sure their New Years Eve parties are super special. I wanted to go there but I just made a trip up there the 26th to get my dogs and have to make another trip up there on the 8th to get "Z"s dog. I don't want to spend that money on gas. (they live over 3 hours away)
So, I will be staying home alone. Don't feel sorry for me, as you see this is a choice. I also have other friends and family I could hang out with if I wanted. I prefer to stay home. I have plans to paint the trim in the living room, a chore I have been putting off for a long time. Or, I may chose to do nothing instead.
When the boyz go with their father I tend to clean and do nothing. It is wonderful to have a quiet house, to do what I want when I want to do it, to think or craft or read or watch tv. I would not like to make this a lifestyle, but it is a nice break. Sort of like a mini home. LOL

Friday, December 26, 2008

This Christmas I...

Peanut disguised as a girly lion. Haha

Christmas was different, but nice.
The boys were with their father and will stay there until New Years Eve, when they will come home to party with me. :D
It was Gayles first Christmas Eve alone. She needed help doing some last minute wrapping so I stopped in and finished that with her. Then we came back to my house.
After Shayna got out of work she headed over to my house also.
The three of us spent the evening drinking strawberry daiquiris and eating that nacho dip made in the stack cooker and watching movies. Well, we talked and had fun more than watched the tv. Shayna and I decided to exchange gifts that evening instead of waiting for morning, we are night people ya know.
Around midnight Gayle went home (she only had one daiquiri)and Shayna stayed the night. We slept in on Christmas morning.

Sissy and Peanut.

Papa(Dad) and Judy came after 1pm (the previous night I had invited them to come open presents "first thing in the morning, you know, around noon") Dad gave Shayna and I cash. He didn't realize he was out of tens so Shayna got a big wad of ones in her envelope. That was funny. Judy got Shayna and I a neat nail kit. It has a foam block with different textures on different sides. After buffing your nail with all sides it becomes really shiny. It also came with a nail file, lotion and cuticle oil. Shayna and I have super shiny nails now. they look pretty!
Shayna had to go to her dads family before work so she got up and showered and pretty shortly after Dad and Judy left. I was home alone for the rest of the day. I know you are wondering if I set crazy traps for the goofy robbers, well no cuz that was just a movie. Instead i fell asleep on the sofa and slept all day. I didn't realize I was so tired. When I got up later in the day it was dark. I watched tv and ate too much pecan pie (thanks for the pie Judy!)
I really enjoyed my quiet Christmas but missed my boys. They had lots of fun so it was worth it.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Ronald Was In Israel

I just got a letter from Ronald sharing his latest Naval adventures. Of course he cannot share any info regarding his location until they have left for security reasons.

He writes:

We got to visit Israel.

Had the best chicken wings in my life at a little hole in the wall bar…

I went on an all day tour of Jerusalem…

Got to see all the places where Jesus went…

Gethsemane, The path he walked with the cross (Via Delarosa… (I think), The Mount of Olives…

It was pretty awesome…

Went to a place called Massada, And ancient palace/fortress of King Herod that overlooks the Dead Sea…

Went swimming/floating in the Dead Sea…

That was a blast…

You could stand up in the middle of the water and float about chest deep…

Or you could lie on your stomach or back on top of the water…

Like a cork…

There is no animal life whatsoever…

The water is so clear no matter where you were you could see the bottom as if you were inches from it…

That’s another thing…

The bottom of the Dead Sea is a block of salt…

White salt with little black balls of salt periodically…

No sand, No rocks…

Just a rough block of salt.

It was the most awesome tour I’ve ever been on.

As with every where else…

When I get to some good internet places I’ll post some photos.


I still miss him terribly. I suppose a mom always misses her kids.

Make Your Own Silly Putty and Slime

My son uses Silly Putty as a tool to minimize nervous tics. He carries an egg full in his pocket just about everywhere we go. If he is having difficulty sitting still or quiet he will pull it out and play with it. He has even been kind enough to share it with younger children in church who are having difficulty sitting still.

"B" letting it stretch.

Yesterday I was inspired to learn if I could make a Silly Putty substitute at home. I found many recipes and decided to try it. Actually, my older son wanted to do it. Who am I to interfere with initiative? He located all the necessary tools and made it. It was real neat and I have to admit that I had a hard time not getting in on the action of squishing that fantastic gooey stuff.

The recipe we used was:

1/2c water
1/2c Elmers Glue
Mix well.

In a separate container
1c warm water
2tsp. Borax
Mix until dissolved.

Add 1/2c Borax solution to the glue solution and mix, mix, mix. It will immediately begin to change.

Initially we did not know the proportions to use and used equal amounts of each solution. It was much slimier.

My son asked if we could us a gel glue to create a transparent version. I learned that you can use Elmers Gel Glue which has a very light blue tint.

The boys played with it most of the day and were interested in learning how two liquids become a liquid/solid. They stretched it, pounded it, bounced it, spread it, broke it, cut it, rolled, flattened it, molded it, watched it flatten slowly into a shiny pool of gunk and more. It changed shape much faster than Silly Putty which made it more interesting.

The putty became more firm and less jiggly after it sat in a zipper bag over night.

Click here to watch a great video and quick explanation by Steve Spangler of the science behind polymers and linking molecules to create this awesome substance.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Why I Love Unschooling, Natural Learning or Whatever You Want to Call It

I have a confession. I am a closet unschooler, natural learner, delight led learner or whatever you may choose to call it. I have 100% faith that if I never forced my child to pick up a text book again they would still become productive, intelligent, happy adults. The ONLY reason I continue to "force educate" my children is because my ex-husband demands a quarterly progress report of the work they have accomplished.

Seriously, I believe that if left to learn what they want, when they want my children (and every other child) will learn what they need to know, when they need to know it and become productive citizens. When a child wants to or has a need to read or do math or cook or ...whatever, they will seek out a resource (person, book, movie, internet) and figure out how to do it. They will also learn the material quickly and easily. It is difficult to learn something when you are either mentally or emotionally not ready to learn it. Also, it is difficult to learn under duress. It is absurd to force feed a child, but our country force feeds education. Not everyone learns the same, not everyone needs the same skills or information. The entire education system is absurd.

In my gut I always knew that every human has a natural drive to learn and explore their world and things that interest them. My children learned to walk without me nagging them. They learned to talk without textbook lesson or forced, unwanted homework. Learning a language is an extremely complex process and most children master it before they are three years old. They learned to dress and tie their shoes, cook, do laundry and many other things when they had the need or desire to do them. I did not have to force them to WANT to learn. It came naturally. What makes us think that we can improve on that natural drive to learn and master our environment? In my opinion, this "forced learning" that is required of our children is harmful. It squashes that natural, God given drive.

My youngest son learned complex math completely on his own while studying nature and amazed me to already understand beyond most of what his first grade textbook taught. Also he regularly shared information in our nature studies that he had learned through his time spent observing nature. He often shared much more than our text had in it. (our nature text was "Nature Studies" by Anna Comstock, an amazing resource!)

My oldest struggled with his math text books and was told that he was terribly behind in his math skills but when he was training for his military career was able to confidently grasp the complex mathematical material presented and even tutored several of his classmates and now has a career that uses math on a regular basis.

My other two children have different learning styles and their strengths are more social and artistic. Most people do not consider those skills to be "educational". They have been able to organize a party, have a quality conversation with a child or senior citizen, nurse an ill person back to health and more at a young age. They are also avid learners but prefer to learn in spurts and in social settings rather than through long hours of quiet study and contemplation. My daughter did however attend high school as a senior so she could attend prom and other social events, even though serious study is not her strong point, she graduated with honors after being allowed to learn mostly in freedom her whole life.

OH, by the way, for those of you who feel that home educated children become social misfits, she was readily accepted by the "popular" and "unpopular" kids, she had regular dates, a very busy social calendar and even made the cheer leading squad. My son attended first and second grade only and has always had an easy time making friend with people of all ages, including his own age. My youngest boys also make friends with all ages easily. I have always received (and still do) compliments from adults commenting how impressed they are with my children at how comfortable and respectful they are and that they able and willing to look adults in the eye and carry a meaningful conversation.

I have loved to learn all of my life but hated school. School interfered with my learning. Seriously. I learned very little that has been useful at any point in my life (except to pass a test or class in school). Everything that I have learned I either taught myself or found people, books or other resources to teach me. I read for hours after school. School would make us memorize useless information that had no meaning in my life. (I am not against people having a broad knowledge base but am against the policy of forcing a person to memorize useless information to get money for numbers on a test) School would force us to get involved in a project and just as I was really enjoying it would tell us that we had to stop and move on to the next topic that we MUST learn. It was frustrating.

I loved studying nature. I took nature walks every day and was continually amazed at the changes that took place through all of the seasons. I loved to read, anything and everything. Some of my favorite books were encyclopedias and dictionary's. Amazingly my children love to spend much time lingering over these same books.

Actually, I hated school so much, and was a rebel, that I dropped out. I felt it was a waste of my time. I attempted to return to high school through adult education courses and found those to be an even bigger waste of my time. We had to spend a certain amount of time in the classroom. We turned our assignments in at the beginning of class and sat in a room with no instructor for an hour or so and were not given the next assignment until the end of class. I had babies at home with a crappy babysitter and I was sitting in a class with no teacher twiddling my thumbs! The material, other than civics/citizenship and finances was completely useless unless I intended on pursuing a career in one of those fields of study (such as science).

I do not regret dropping out. I did make better use of my time doing and learning other things. Well, the ONLY reasons I occasionally wish I had continued my schooling is that it brings credibility to a person. Unfortunately it is too easy for a "educated" person to blow me off as "just a mom" because I dropped out of high school and did not get a college degree. I did get my G.E.D. and was told that I could attend university with those high scores. Also, I cannot legally teach in the state of Michigan because I do not have a teacher certificate. I did not know I was a natural teacher when I was younger and would NEVER have chosen a teaching career so a college education would have been wasted and I would have had to go back anyway.

While on the topic of our country's educational system I have another complaint. Where in our society are we forced to spend 8 hours a day with people exactly our own age? It is unnatural. Where in our society are we forced to put up with bullying and teasing and extreme peer pressure to do what others do? Where are we forced to go exactly where we are told when we are told? To eat and go to bathroom only with permission? To move from place to place by the ringing of a bell? School and prison! and the military, but a person is not forced to be in the military.

This topic is bothering me right now because I am in the process of creating an educational resource/service adventure which will assist parents home school who feel they are inadequate teachers, don't have the time because they work or worry that their child will not get a good education outside of the standard American school system but know that system is not what is best for their child.

I hope to create a center that offers curriculum guidance and support, record keeping tools, will assist students and parents develop and attain their personal and educational goals, host and organize discussion groups for the students on topics of their choosing that is covered in the Grade Level Content Expectations developed by the Michigan Department of Education if they feel it is important, show parents that much of what our children do is real life learning and how to record it so it will count toward educational credit in Michigan, support and facilitate group projects and chat rooms, and host various other social and educational projects. I think I will call it REAL LIFE Educational Resource and Natural Learning Center. REAL stands for resources for education and leadership. LIFE stands for learning in freedom everyday.

Basically I hope to help others legally unschool their children and create an educational and social network of students and parents. My grown children had friends who were somewhere between unschooled and relaxed schooled and they had amazing conversations that really stretched what they knew and who they thought they were and encouraged one another to do things they never thought they would.

I loved observing the kids "jamming" and singing, while stopping to tell an extremely clever joke. Then later one would decide to make cookies (or bread or dinner or some other wonderfully delicious treat) and they would all help make it, and even clean up and somewhere in all this busyness the conversation would turn to some complex conversation about the laws of physics and if a certain law were different how would it affect another law. Maybe they would decide that they wanted to build a water fueled engine, or tweak a computer program or some other crazy idea. They were willing to try to do just about anything they could imagine to do. These kids had no fear of failing in a project. They knew that if whatever they tried didn't turn out the way they hoped they could walk away knowing something new or try again later. (thank GOD they never had any "big" explosions or serious fires LOL) They had no boundaries of where their minds and conversations could go. Anything was a possibility. They were dreamers and dreamed in reality. They were doers too and tried out many of those dreams.

I hope to find others who are willing to have this same confidence (or at least be willing to learn to) in their children and allow them to really LIVE life and LIVE learning. I hope that my younger children will be able to find a similar camaraderie that my older children had. I hope they can find fellow students in this life of natural learning to share in all the amazing adventures, jokes, projects, conversations and anything else their minds and spirits inspire them to explore.

I also hope to eventually be a part of a school modeled after Sudbury Valley School. If I have to I will eventually start one myself. You can learn more about this school model at Be sure to check out the articles in the "about us" and "articles" section.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Sailors Christmas

My oldest son is serving our country in the US Navy. He has been out to sea for many months. He will not be home for Christmas again this year. We will miss him. He sent this poem in an email to me today. It is a bittersweet reminder of how much he loves his job and his country. I am proud to call myself his mom. (I love you Ronnie!)

A Sailor's Christmas

Twas the night before Christmas, the ship was out steaming,
Sailors stood watch while others were dreaming.

They lived in a crowd with racks tight and small,
In a 80-man berthing, cramped one and all.

I had come down the stack with presents to give,
And to see inside just who might perhaps live.

I looked all about, a strange sight did I see,
No tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.

No stockings were hung, shined boots close at hand,
On the bulkhead hung pictures of a far distant land.

They had medals and badges and awards of all kind,
And a sober thought came into my mind.

For this place was different, so dark and so dreary,
I had found the house of a Sailor, once I saw clearly.

A Sailor lay sleeping, silent and alone,
Curled up in a rack and dreaming of home.

The face was so gentle, the room squared away,
This was the United States Sailor today.

This was the hero I saw on TV,
Defending our country so we could be free.

I realized the families that I would visit this night,
Owed their lives to these Sailors lay willing to fight.

Soon round the world, the children would play,
And grownups would celebrate on Christmas Day.

They all enjoyed freedom each day of the year,
Because of the Sailor, like the one lying here.

I couldn't help wonder how many lay alone,
On a cold Christmas Eve on a sea, far from home.

The very thought brought a tear to my eye,
I dropped to my knees and started to cry.

The Sailor awakened and I heard a calm voice,
"Santa, don't cry, this life is my choice."

"Defending the seas all days of the year,
So others may live and be free with no fear."

I thought for a moment, what a difficult road,
To live a life guided by honor and code.

After all it's Christmas Eve and the ship's underway!
But freedom isn't free and it's sailors who pay.

The Sailor say's to our country "be free and sleep tight,
No harm will come, not on my watch and not on this night."

The Sailor rolled over and drifted to sleep,
I couldn't control it, I continued to weep.

I kept watch for hours, so silent, so still,
I watched as the Sailor shivered from the night's cold chill.

I didn't want to leave on that cold dark night,
This guardian of honor so willing to fight.

The Sailor rolled over and with a voice strong and sure,
Commanded, "Carry on Santa, It's Christmas, and All is Secure!"



My Son Has Been Battling Pirates With the US Navy

My oldest children. Aren't they beautiful!

My son sent me an update a while back regarding what he had been up to. For security reasons he is not permitted to share sensitive information (which is pretty much everything when you are on a ship) until they have completed their mission. Please continue to pray for his and his shipmates safety and well being while they selflessly defend and protect the seas, our country and our freedom.
Here is what he wrote:

I sent the boys pretty close to the same message…
Told them I stopped in Spain…
Show them on a map…
Look for the towns, ROTA, and PALMA DE MALLORCA…

This is the pirate story…

We are an independent ship over here...
Which means we get tasked to do odd jobs all over the place...
A few days ago we received a distress call that a cargo ship was being attacked by pirates...
We rushed over to help them of course...
By the time we got there the attack was over the pirates had left...
But we tracked them down...
They were in two little boats...
So we followed them for a little while...
Then we pulled up beside them...
Then 500yds.
Best part was...
I was manning the forward most. 50 cal. Machine gun the whole time.

Talk to you later…

As his mother I sat there and cried for a bit and off and on for the rest of the day. I was a bit happier living in ignorance thinking that since he was a brainiac he would somehow be shielded from battle. I am better now, but do not let myself spend time thinking about it or I would be a mess.

He sent each of the boys great letters.
"B"s letter reads:

What is up buddy?
Happy Halloween!
(I know I’m a little late.)
We are across the Atlantic Ocean.
We stopped in Spain for a few days…
Got to have some fun there…
Didn’t take too many pictures though…

I got to see some real life pirates…
They wear normal clothes…
and use boats like Darren’s…

Not as cool as if they had big boats with sails and eye patches and peg legs…
But it was still pretty exciting…

What’s going on with you?

Talk to you later…

"Z"s letter reads:

What is up Zee Wee!
Happy Halloween!
(I know I’m a little late.)
We are across the Atlantic Ocean.
We stopped in Spain for a few days…
(Have mom show you on a map where that is…)
I took a few pictures…
But not as many as I wanted to…

I got to see some real life pirates…
They wear normal clothes… and use boats like Darren’s…

Not as cool as if they had big boats with sails and eye patches and peg legs…
But it was still pretty exciting…

What’s going on with you?

Talk to you later…

The boys have always had a fascination with pirates so this was quite exciting news for them. Ronald is such a wonderful brother to share that story in a way that is exciting rather than scary.

I am so proud of him. He has grown to be an amazing man.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tics/Tourette's: Things That Have Helped Us

My 10 year old son recently developed serious tics. He has always had tics that were quite mild not noticeable to the average person. These newly developed tics affect his entire body. He also has vocal tics. He finds this quite distressing, embarrassing and exhausting. These tics were so bad that they were interfering with everyday activities including falling asleep and cause muscle fatigue. When his tics are acting up he seems to have a much difficulty with impulse control, has a terrible attitude and exhibits many "ADD" type behaviors.
Our pediatric neurologist suggested eliminating dyes and preservatives from his diet. We saw an immediate reduction in the tics but they came back after a while and were much worse when he was stressed or excited.
We have totally eliminated all artificial colors, flavors and preservatives and greatly reduced, but not eliminated the tics. Chamomile tea often reduces and calms the tics. We have learned that calming and soothing things seem to help.
While experimenting how to reduce the effects of the tics it occurred to me that there may be a homeopathic remedy that will help. We purchased a product for restless leg symptoms because the tics have the urge to move and jerk around. It did not help much.
We also purchased the homeopathic remedy chamomilla in the 6x dosage. This comes in the form of a sugar pill or tablet that you put under the tongue and let it melt until gone. It worked! Within minutes of the first dose his tics were significantly reduced. We continued giving three tablets every 4-6 hours (not while sleeping) for several days and the tics gone! He no longer takes them on a regular basis but asks for them when the tics start acting up, for example he asked for them about half an hour before guests were expected to show up for his brothers birthday party because the excitement got them going.
Maintaining a strict diet of absolutely no artificial colors, flavors and preservatives is essential. Consuming these things cause the tics to come back, although they may not show up until the following day.
Stress also causes the tics to come back, so we maintain regular bed and wake times, we are careful to be very choosy about the social events we attend to prevent this.
My mother used many homeopathic remedies when we were children. The procedure for taking the little tablets is simple. Do not eat or drink 15 minutes before or after taking the remedy. Place the pill(s) under your tongue and hold it there until it is fully dissolved.
I do not know if this will continue to work. I have read that tics come and go so it is difficult to know if a certain treatment works or not. I will follow up on this. This treatment can cause no harm and will only improve our health by avoiding things that are potentially harmful to us anyhow.
I have discovered that artificial colors have a negative effect on me. After eliminating them from our diet I can often taste them (sort of a bitter aftertaste) and find that I have a very difficult time focusing and processing information and feel very out-of-sorts after consuming them.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Shayna's 19th Birthday Party

Shayna wanted to have her birthday dinner and movie before her actual birthday so I was surprised when she called requesting that we have cake and icecream with Papa and Uncle Dave and DeeDee. I called everyone this afternoon and they were all very happy to have an impromptu party at DeeDee's house this evening. Shayna told me previously that she wanted the famous homemade carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, so that was already prepared. We picked up Butterfinger flavored ice cream and vanilla (for Papa) on the way to the party. We had lots of fun and everyone loved the cake. She had plans to have a party at her house with friends when she got home.

The House Will Be Moved Tomorrow!

The house was scheduled to be moved Thursday. It has been moved up to tomorrow. I have not taken everything from the house yet. I thought I was going to have to make many trips with my boys in my car tonight. Instead Dad will meet me there at 8am with Judy and her Durango. I will fill that and we should be done, I hope. We are excited to watch them tear it down and move it.

Email Regarding Care Packages For Ronald

I received an email from my oldest son today. He is in the US Navy and out to sea for 8 months. He is ready to receive care packages. I sent the following email to my friends and family:

Hi everyone!I am sure you remember that Ronald is in the US Navy. He is currently out to sea for 8 months or more. This is his first long tour. The others have been under 3 months.

Today he sent an email confirming that he would welcome a care package from anyone who feels like they would want to send one. He said it may take a couple of months for the package to reach him. (The last package I sent to the FPO address took over a month to get to him...and he was still on land.) He also said that he is not in a safe area and is not able to get to port often to purchase personal items for himself.

Here is his suggested list of items, but do not feel limited to these, just remember not to send anything perishable. He said that if his younger brothers (ages 10 and 12) would like it, then he will most likely like it also.

Instant oatmeal... (fruit and cream, maple brown sugar, apples cinnamon, etc.)Drink packets... (Apple cider, koolaid, ready to drink type...)Fruit snacks... (Gushers, fruit roll up, gummies...)Stuff that lasts like that... cause it may be in a box for a month or two before I get it...

Before he left he also said that during this mission he will eventually need things like plain white undershirts (size medium), plain white boxers (size medium), plain black and plain white athletic socks, razors, toothbrushes, deoderant, shampoo, soap, etc.

He will appreciate encouraging emails and letters too.

You may send packages and letters to:

FPO AE 09578-1292 (all 9 digits!)

Thanks for your support.


Saturday, September 20, 2008

It’s Moving Day!

A lot has happened since my last post. Today the movers are coming to move our stuff into storage. Actually the “movers” are strong men and a friend with trailers. My boys and I have been transporting boxes (via a friend’s larger vehicle – thanks Judy!) and I have realized that my body is just not as hearty as it used to be. I asked my dad to make arrangements so that I did not have to move the furniture too. He was so thankful that I did all the packing that he was happy to arrange that.

My dad purchased a wooded piece of land from a friend with the intent of moving out home there. He had the land cleared and a put in a foundation. Our new neighbors tease us because we didn’t put in a basement. We didn’t want one because we don’t need more living space and we don’t keep a lot of things that we don’t use or have space for.

Thursday the house will be moved onto the foundation. After that they will remove the roof and put on another with a steeper pitch to meet the local building codes. Then the well and septic system will be installed and we will be able to move back in.

While all this is happening my dad will be staying with my younger brother and his family. My sons, dogs and I will stay with my older brother and his wife. They are on vacation until the beginning of the month so we will be “home alone” at their place for a week.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Boys Went To the Local Tractor Show

Pa asked “B” if he would like to drive his antique fire truck to the local tractor show and spend the day talking with visitors about the truck and things. Later Darren called to invite “Z” to go hang out at the tractor show with him and possibly visit a carnival/fair in another town.

We went to the farm around noon. The children picked green apples and fed them to the horse Penelope while we waited for Pa to arrive. Darren picked them up instead.

It is interesting to notice how much Penelope has calmed down. She used to be so wild! She would run up to me, or anyone, and come to a screeching halt causing a near collision. She was just playing around but it was quite startling. I used to tease that she was part dog because she would pick up large fallen branches and run around shaking them like a dog does. She also spent a lot of time chasing the sheep and bumping into them. I assume she wanted to play.

Unfortunately the truck needed a part to run properly and he could not get it ready in time so Pa and “B” went to the show anyhow and looked at all the neat things and ate the fun foods. “B” bought a bike, which is too small but will get him by until he can get something else. They could not play in the streets of the neighborhood we are in now so they left their bikes at their father’s home. Now that we are moving they are able to ride again.

Darren took “Z” to the tractor show and the other fair. At the other fair they rode the Hurricane, the Zipper and several other rides. This is the first time “Z” was able to ride the adult carnival rides. He liked the big boat best. They rode it several times. He hated the Zipper. He was too small and was thrown around inside the cage. Darren had to attempt to hold himself and simultaneously hold “Z”. Darren said he was too big for the ride and was not stuffed all the way into the cage when the guy slammed the door shut on his head, poor guys. They reported that everything else was great.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Impromptu Trip to Virginia to See Ronald and Shayna

It was a wild ride!

We took an impromptu trip to Virginia to see my older children, Ron and Shayna. Actually I had been planning on going down there soon. The boys came home after spending a week at their fathers. I looked at the calendar and realized that I would be dog-sitting for my father’s dog the following week until the end of July and my son would be going out to sea in August and would not return until April or May. My dad suggested we jump in the car and go. So we did.

Wait! What?!? Matching swimming trunks? Ohhhh Nooooo!

We packed a swim suit, blanket, pillow, pants, shorts, t-shirt and hoodie. We wore short, s-shirt and flip flops. We also packed Capri Suns, bottles of water, chips, cheese and fruit. Then we filled up the tank and hit the road. My dog stayed behind with my dad.


Ron is so cool.

We took our time getting there; stopping when we wanted for food, potty breaks and sight seeing. The boys went to sleep around 11 and I stopped to sleep at an oasis on the Ohio or Pennsylvania Toll road around 1am.

We woke up around 6am and got back on the road. Later in the evening we saw signs for caverns. As we drove we realized they were only 5 miles off the expressway so we stopped to find out the details. They said it was cold and sandy down there and they suggest pants and a light jacket. They also said it was uneven and sandy and our flip flops may be uncomfortable. Sadly we left because we thought our entertainment would be the beach…not an underground adventure.

As we were heading back to the expressway we discussed the possibility of finding a local store to purchase shoes. We found a Kmart, bought cute and inexpensive canvas tennis shoes and headed back to the caverns. Yayee!!!

It cost around $35 for the three of us to take the tour. We thought it was the neatest thing we had ever seen. The tour lasted over an hour and we went around 250 feet underground. It was amazing! The tour guide was awesome and let us spend as much time looking as we wanted. The children each purchased a rock for under $2 in the gift shop. Then we were back on the road.

One of the rest areas in Virginia had MANY flyers for things to do there. We picked up a lot of them to look through as the kids place. We arrived there around 11pm and visited for an hour or so and went to bed. Z and I slept on either side of a L-shaped sofa and B slept on a futon mattress on the floor.

While we were there we went to Virginia Beach twice. There was a hurricane somewhere that was creating bigger than usual waves so it was quite exciting. On our second trip to the beach the boys got caught up in the rip tide. They were not swept far out to sea but were out over my (and their) head and the tide was pulling them quickly down the beach, parallel to the beach.

I kept my eyes on them the entire time and at first I thought they were goofing around because I kept signaling them to come back up to shore and they just waved at me and kept playing. Actually, I think they were ignoring me at first. But soon I realized they were floating and after a minute that meant they were treading water. I was also having to cut through families playing on the beach to keep up with them on land and soon realized they were caught in the current.

This had happened to me once on a beach in Lake Michigan so I knew they were in a serious situation. It was quite scary because I am not a strong swimmer. I was swept off my feet and into water over my head and could not get back to shore. Thank God that I had heard of this and had been told to swim parallel to the shore. I was not able to swim parallel to the shore but instead focused on staying afloat, which is not an easy task in choppy water, and eventually the current took my back toward shore…much father down than my friends. Anyhow, I began signaling and hollering for them to swim down shore instead of toward the shore. I do not think they understood. They seemed to try to swim toward me.

I was half way between life guards and they were traveling so fast that I did not want to take my eyes off them to backtrack to the lifeguard I had passed before I realized they were in trouble. I headed out into the water to see if maybe they were not over my head, but they were. My youngest said, “help”. The sand was very uneven and had many drop offs and I kept falling in over my head. There was a couple closer to them than me. The boys were getting ready to float by this couple when I asked them if they would grab my children for me. They both swam less than 4 feet out and brought them to where they could touch again.

Thank GOD. I knew better than to get out where I could not touch because then all three of us would need to be rescued!

This experience scared my youngest. He does not even want to look at pictures from the entire trip because it reminds him of being caught in the water. He was so tired that he thought he was going to drown in a few minutes. They had been treading water for at least 3 minutes from the time I realized they were in trouble until the time the couple snatched them out of the water. I was, and still am very traumatized also. That experience has given me a fresh appreciation for our mortality…not that I needed it.

While we were there we were able to meet Ronald roommates. They seem to get along well as roommates. I was also able to get to know Shayna’s boyfriend a bit. He seems like a wonderful young man. They seem to really enjoy one another a lot.

The boys and Ronald and I went to Journey to the Center of The Earth in 3D. The digital RealD 3D is awesome! I love it!. I lost a contact and had to wear my glasses to the 3d effect was not as good as it would have been if I had my contacts.

Shayna misses the boys a lot. She was very sad to see us go. She is a mamas girl too so it was hard when we said good bye.

I miss my older children so much. I am very proud of the young people they have become. They are wonderful. It is amazing how great they in spite of all the challenges they have faced in their lives so far. It was wonderful to see them.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Beach Bag And Electronics Bag From His Military Uniform

I am still undecided about how permanently earn money while staying at home full time with my homeschooled children but for now I have an interesting project lined up.

I used patriotic fabric and an old army uniform to create a great beach bag, just in time for the fourth of July. I have been carrying it around on our day trips. It is wonderful and holds everything, and more for a day out and about with two active boys. It is a bit floppier than I wanted but still great. I will make my next bag a bit firmer.

BDU bag.

I got the idea from Wow! What a woman. She makes amazing bags, called Hero Bags and quilts for families whose husbands have been killed or seriously wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan. She does not charge for these beautiful bags. She also sells various styles of bags.

I also created a smaller bag to hold the chargers and accessories to their Nintendo DS games. That was the most brilliant idea I have had in a long time. I do not know why I did not think of it sooner. The “battle of the cords” was always a pain. Now I drop everything in and have no worries. As an added bonus, I no longer have to be careful to keep the toys out of sight. Anyone looking in the car window will not know that the bag contains electronics.

Inside view.

I have a shirt pocket and plain fabric from the –ex’s old army uniform and more patriotic fabric. It is ready to be sewn together for a smaller, everyday bag. I hope to put that together this week.

My son will be sending me his wore out Navy uniform soon. I will create a neat bag (or two) for myself and a few samples for his friend’s girlfriends and mothers as advertisement. Everyone wants to support their soldier/sailor, right?

Also, my girlfriend has commissioned me to make two custom purses for her daughter and a custom scrap booking bag for herself. She picked out the fabrics and the basic design of each bag. I will be working on that this week also.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Summer Fun and Fathers Day

My boys and I have been enjoying this summer weather so much that I am having difficulty sitting down at my desk to write before I am too tired to keep my eyes open. The weather is beautiful. Last week we finished putting in our garden. I got badly sunburned that day, but it was great fun anyhow. We have attended barbeques and bonfires. We have taken road trips and enjoyed lots of ice cream.

Last night we stayed up late snuggling and watching movies. My girlfriend came around 11pm and stayed until 2am. I cut out the fabric for my next bag while we chatted. This morning we struggled to get out of bed to go to breakfast with my dad, but had fun anyhow. After breakfast we all went shopping and found some great, cheap books at the Borders Outlet. Then we dropped my dad back off at home and visited a long lost friend. While my friend and I lounged around chatting, the boys washed our cars and sprayed on another with the hose. On the way home we had ice cream desserts and french fries for dinner.

Tomorrow we will go to church with my father then head to my brothers for Fathers Day lunch with his family. It will be another fun day.

Give your fathers hugs and kisses and tell them that you love and appreciate them. Life is precious, you may not get another day.

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Growth Hormone Treatments are Working!

We went to the pediatric endocrinologist today. He is wonderful! We love him and his staff!!! (Dr. Jabbar and Amanda – we love you!) My twelve year old has “low growth hormones” also known as “idiopathic short stature”. To further complicate the issue he has advanced bone age, which means he has less time to grow than if he had a “less mature” bone age. He had been seeing the pediatric endocrinologists at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor Michigan for several years. They monitored his growth and checked his GH levels regularly for six months then administered a “growth hormone stimulation test”. His growth hormone levels were consistently very low. The stimulation test showed that his body was capable of producing growth hormone in the high range of low levels when stimulated so they recommended continued monitoring of blood and growth. Since his body was capable of producing the hormones (even though it was not doing it on its own) the insurance companies would give a hassle to cover the treatment and we could not afford it (at $30,000 a year minimum), so we waited.

After several years of minimal growth he had another growth hormone stimulation test. This time it showed that his body produced amazingly low amounts of growth hormone when stimulated. This was wonderful news for us. It meant that he was finally able to get the treatment he needed. We were not happy to learn that his body was not functioning properly, but we already knew that. It was also good timing because his self esteem was beginning to be affected. People generally thought he was two to three years younger than he really was. Thank GOD he is home schooled and was able to avoid daily teasing.

He has been receiving daily injections of Genotropin, a growth hormone for over a year. He has grown 4.5 inches in the past twelve months! It is a miracle
The body produces growth hormone while we sleep, so to more closely mimic how our bodies work, we give the hormone right before bed. Actually, my son prefers that I give it to him after he has fallen asleep! Occasionally he will wake up, go to the bathroom and come back a bit groggy but ready for the injection. He says that having it after he has fallen asleep alleviates any pre-injection anxiety.

Around nine months old he began to fall out of the “average” height range on the growth charts and has been way below ever since. The doctors estimated that he would be lucky to reach 5’3” without treatment. The last time we visited the pediatric endocrinologist he had finally entered the “average” height range for his age. This time he is about in the middle of the average height! It is absolutely amazing to see the spikes on his growth chart after seeing it barely moving for most of his life.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Forget-Me-Nots Are Going To Seed

The Forget-Me-Nots are going through another transformation! I was so surprised to see tall, lavender, powdery stalks waving proudly above the green foliage and little blue flowers below. It looks as if they are going to seed. I wonder if I should have dead-headed the blooms like I do the roses. I look forward to seeing what this amazing plant does next. I wonder if they will explode and reseed the garden to produce an even more extravagant display next year.

That makes me think of the deep, dark-red Sweet Williams at the big house. They were a gift from a very talented gardener friend. I knew they were annuals so I was pleasantly surprised when they came back the following year. I watched them closely and learned that after the flowers faded a seed pod grew and eventually “popped” and flew seeds everywhere. It was amazing! They were my favorite of all my flowers in my garden. Sadly, I was not able to take them with me when I moved and have not been able to find that color again. Maybe someday that velvety variety will cross my path so we can share our summers once again.

The garden in the big house was a wonderful experience. My friends donated many annuals and perennials to my garden the first year. Every year after that my friends and acquaintances exchanged seeds, cuttings, roots and transplants every year. I even had people I didn’t know pull into my driveway and ask for a cutting! It was difficult to leave that garden. Every flower and plant reminded me of a friendship or a get-together. It was like a floral scrapbook! I hope to have the same sort of experience when I finally get settled into my home in the country.

Super Easy Layered Nacho Dip

This has become one of our Sunday afternoon favorites. It is yummy, quick and super-easy. Oh, I would like to add that this recipe is adapted from Tupperware TupperWave Stack cooker recipe. This meal provides dinner for two days for our tiny family of three.

1 lb. ground chuck
I can refried beans
1 jar salsa
4 oz. shredded cheese
Nacho style chips
Sour cream, black olives and other desired toppings

Brown ground chuck and drain.
Spread refried beans in the bottom of a round casserole dish. Heat for two minutes in the microwave.
Put ground chuck evenly on beans.
Pour ½ jar salsa evenly on ground chuck.
Put shredded cheese evenly on salsa.
Heat in microwave 1 minute at a time until the cheese is melted.
Let sit for 5 minutes.
Serve with nacho style chips, sour cream and other yummy toppings.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Easy Baked Ravioli and Toasted Garlic Bread

We had baked ravioli this Sunday afternoon. This is one of my favorites. It tastes like I spent all day in the kitchen but takes less than 5 minutes to prepare. I recomend serving this with a side salad or another steamed vegetable and homemade garlic toast. We ate just the ravioli and were happy. There was only three of us so we have plenty of leftovers for lunch or supper tomorrow.

I purchased everything for the ravioli and garlic toast from Aldis. I prefer to get my vegetables from a roadside stand or Walmart. I will add a breakdown of what this meal cost another day.

Baked Ravioli

32 0z bag cheese stuffed ravioli
26 oz. jarspaghetti sauce
½ jar (12 oz.) warm water
8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375
Dump ravioli in casserole dish.
Pour sauce and water over ravioli.
Arrange ravioli so most are covered with the sauce.
Bake uncovered in oven for 1 hour till hot and bubbly all the way through.
Sprinkle mozzarella cheese on top.
Bake another 10 – 15 minutes till cheese is bubbly and turning brown in spots.
Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.
Serve with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

Toasted Garlic Bread

This is a great way to use up your day old bread.

Preheat oven 450 or broil
Sliced bread
Garlic salt
Garlic preserved in olive oil in the jar, and salt

Thinly spread butter on both sides of bread
sprinkle garlic salt lightly on bread
spread small amount of garlic from jar with spoon and sprinkle with salt
bake at 450 till golden and crispy turning half way through
broil till golden and toasty
if you do not want to turn on your oven you can brown these in a pan just like grilled cheese

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Is Your Family Important? Do You Show It? What Are You Doing About It?

“Who are the most important people in your life?”

“If it’s your family…are you showing it?”

“If not…what are you going to do about it?”

These questions are the essence of a wonderful book called “What Kids Wish Parents Knew About Parenting” by Joe White, recommended by Gary Smalley and Josh McDowell. This is an in-your-face book. It does not tiptoe around. It encourages parents to go straight to our children for an evaluation (included in the book) of our parenting skills and to do something drastic about it. He says “…I urge you to strip away – with dynamite, if necessary - everything in your life that doesn’t look like family gold.”

That comment stuck with me. Everything I begin to do I ask myself "Is this family gold?". Everything I touch or look at in my home I have to wonder if it is family gold. I am determined to get rid of all things that are not.

I read hundreds of parenting books and listened daily to family and parenting advice programs while my 18 and 19 year olds were young. I wanted to be the best parent I could be. My full time job was being a quality mother. Somewhere between dealing with a mentally ill and abusive husband and moving around and my own battle with depression, I forgot how to be a quality mother.

While watching Super Nanny, my boys told me that we should call her. Curiously, I asked why. They said she could help us. They wanted her to help get their father back into our family. I firmly said that was not possible. But, they also wanted me to devote more time to them, to make them feel important to me. Ouch! I decided I need to make some changes in my behavior but I was not sure where to start.

The next week while watching Super Nanny they suggested that we call her again. I asked them to be more specific as to what they hope she would do for us. They said that they want me to spend more time with them, play games and do projects with them and other things which are basically quality time.

I am a full time, homeschooling stay at home mom. My life is supposed to be devoted to my children. I felt that I was giving them enough of me, but their comments tell me that I am very wrong. I thought that much of their troubles were from tragic life circumstances (that is another blog) but I was terribly wrong. I have been too involved in myself and chores that I had forgotten to stop and fully listen and respond as I would any other human being, instead I had been somewhat blowing them off when it was not convenient for me to listen ( such as while I am writing this ).

I decided that I need a refresher in quality parenting. Thank GOD for Super Nanny. Thank GOD for my children’s ability to tell it to me like it is. Thank GOD for putting this book in my hands at the perfect time. I picked it up the other day at a book sale for a quarter and thought I may read it someday. Well, someday is now.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Indiana Jones at the Drive-In Theater

My boys had their first drive-in experience this weekend. We were contemplating what we should do this Memorial Day weekend. We all wanted to see the new Indiana Jones movie. I was deciding which theater to go to and suddenly it occurred to me that we should go to the drive-in!

First, we went to Italia Gardens for pasta and yummy bread. While there we thought it would be neat if their friends came too. I called my girlfriend and her husband was home so they packed their lawn chairs, snacks and blankets in their truck and met us there.

It got pretty chilly. I was silly and didn’t even think about dressing warm for the evening weather, but it worked out fine. The children all crawled in the truck to stay warm while the adults snuggled in blankets outdoors and chatted while watching the movie. We had fun.

I bet you are wondering what we thought of the Indiana Jones movie? We loved it. It was exactly what we expected. It had all the silly adventure that the other movies had plus a sweet sappy ending. I especially love that they always make it out of dangerous situations by the “hair of their teeth”. It is completely unrealistic but totally entertaining.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Survived Ugly Trials? Don't Hide From Them

Today I was thinking about the Forget-Me-Nots that I wrote about the other day. I wish I had taken a picture of that dead-looking mess so you could see the amazing transformation that happened overnight.

It is so amazing how GOD can take something that looks like a dried up, dead mess and just as you’re thinking that you had better tear it before the neighbors notice how unkempt your garden is, HE suddenly turns it into amazingly beautiful flowers and foliage.

I hope I can remember the transformation of those flowers when I am tempted to be too hard and critical of myself and children…or anyone.

GOD has HIS own perfect timing. We cannot know what he has planned for our lives; we must grow at the pace he sets before us.

What we think is a big mess is most often the natural progression of HIS perfect plan for growth and healing in our lives.

These thoughts remind me of this video I discovered a few weeks ago by Seventh Day Slumber.

If you don’t know who these guys are you should check them out. They are real people living real lives and trying to make a difference in our world.

Here is a video of Joseph’s Finally Awake Story.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Park Closed For Season: Our First 2008 Roadtrip to the Beach

Last month Debbie and I took a drive to Caseville to spend the day lounging on the beach. I know what you’re thinking...going to the beach in Michigan in April?!? Well, you know we are just crazy that way. Plus, it was such a beautiful day and the boyz were with their father so I was a bit bored. Of course the beach does not open till Memorial Day, but that did not deter us. When we arrived we parked in a parking lot of a business in the neighborhood and walked to the beach. We rolled up our pants and spent the first half of the day going from sand bar to sand bar. Yes, the water was COLD on our feet but we only had to take a few steps before we reached the next sand bar, and the sun warmed the sand and our feet nicely.

When we got hungry we drove to the little gas station and bought sodas and cheese popcorn. The Crispy Cream donuts were tempting, but at 99 cents each and my pants still being a bit tight from my winter weight, I “just said no”. We considered going to Port Austin to take a walk on the pier, but decided against it since the fun stores are closed until the season opens and gas prices are so high now.

We goofed around for a bit before we decided to go back to the beach for the sunset. This time we wore our hoodies. It gets quite chilly on the water when the sun goes down. The beach and campground was closed so we could not park in the parking lot. We parked in the little area in front of the metal gate designed to keep people like us out till the season begins. I am pretty sure we are not supposed to park there, but the police just pretended they didn’t see us. There was another family parked there but they were leaving just as we arrived, except one young man. This beach has a campground with mobile homes and permanently parked travel trailers. There are also sites to bring your tent or travel trailer. This young man walked to his motor home and went inside. Obviously we are not the only rule breakers in that town. We watched the sun set until we could not stand the cold anymore. Debbie says that once she gets chilled to her bones it takes forever to get warm again.

On our way home we stopped at McDonalds and posed for some glamour-shots with the infamous Ronald McDonald. We could not get his autograph or anything because he is molded plastic. I will post photos of this when I finally break down and purchase a cord that connects my phone to my computer. Darn Verizon doesn’t use standard ports so I have to order it or go to the Verizon store, which I have been too lazy to do.

We arrived at Debbie’s around midnight. I gathered my things and headed home. Hanging out on the beach is one of my favorite pastimes. I look forward to more beach days this summer. I have a dream of spending an entire, carefree summer in my travel trailer (which I don’t have yet, it’s part of the dream) with my boys, parked on a beautiful beach.

…maybe someday…

Walt Disney said,

“All your dreams can come true if you have the courage to pursue them.”

I believe this to be true. My biggest dreams have been to be a wife, mother and teacher. I was a wife for 15 years. (I hope to be a wife again someday). I have always been a stay at home mom and have homeschooled two of them into adulthood, the other two are still at home. So, I will continue to dream.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

the forget-me-nots are blooming!

the forget-me-nots are in bloom....
like crazy!
there are flowers all over the plant.
it's beautiful.
i opened my curtains and happened to get a glimps of tiny blue flowers.
at first i thought the boyz must have left something in the garden, but then i thought...
why would they take fake flowers outside?
why would they be playing with fake flowers at all?
so i leaned over to take another look and ..
i was so excited that i hollared to the boys that the flowers were in bloom...
and of course we had to let papa know right away. LOL
Z excitedly told me that they popped out yesterday and that the day before there was nothing there but that dead straw looking stuff...
thank GOD we didn't tear it out.

forget-me-nots are the Alzheimer's flower.
my mom died of Alzheimer's disease several years ago.
my dad planted them as a memorial to her.

...and, yes, i know that i did not use many capital letters in this post...
im just a gramatical rebel that way :P