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Surprises of All Surprises

May 24, 2010

We are going to help in home-schooling the girls.

Pick yourself up off the floor now.

Yes, seriously.

Here’s how it came to be:

Em didn’t score “at grade level” for both of her tests. What that means is the girls go to public school. Keith sent the girls’ mom an email after we got the test results telling her we enforcing having them placed in school. Then we got serious about talking to each other – and more importantly, God, about it.

We had been talking about how cheesy the “WWJD” bracelets and marketing campaign was but that in all reality, it is a good way to end your life – asking yourself “What would Jesus do in this situation?” Even for a non-Christian who maintains that Jesus was simply a nice guy, they can follow this. Well, I asked Keith to apply the WWJD school of thought to the girls’ education. He warned me if we did that, we might not like the outcome.

Know that we have been pushing to have the girls placed in school for six years now. For six years they have not succeeded in the homeschooling environment with their mother. For six years, we have been kept our of their education. Unfortuantely, for six years, there has been hostility between the girls’ mother and ourselves over education and the girls have picked up on it.

So I asked Keith to think about it: would Jesus put the girls in school?
*They are so far behind, could a teacher who has 25-30 students feasibly catch them up?
*They have been involved in church and a very small homeschool co-op and that’s all for socialization for six years. I love the girls to death, but they are not socially mature. They would get severly made fun of and would not make friends very easily.
*Quite honestly, what good was our education? What have we used of our public school education? Our algebra? What about our essay writing skills?
*Other than learning how to be promiscious, try drinking and drugs, be materialistic, be rude, be disrespectful, be greedy and be shallow what did we learn?

So, we have decided to let them stay in the homeschool environment – with a few changes:

*The girls will be involved in another, academic based co-op. The one they are in now is a socialization co-op. They need one that does learning together.
*The curriculum has to change. The curriculum they have been using is obviously not working. We have to get something new.
* The girls have to be involved in two extra-curriculars at a time. I know that sounds like a lot to some of you, but when you are done with school at 2PM, its not hard to get them to an art lesson or ballet recital. And no, girl scouts at home does not count.
* Oh, the big one? I get to co-teach. I can’t tell you how excited I am. And I know most of you are used to my sarcasm. This isn’t sarcasm. This is legit.

This decision is definitely the right one. I feel complete peace about it.
I cannot wait for the next school year to begin. Or rather, the summer to begin since we will be doing catch-up work over the summer!

If you have any great homeschooling resources, send em my way! And wish us luck, we have a meeting tomorrow to talk to the girls’ mother about everything.

Blog Re-Vamping

May 24, 2010
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My blog doesn’t really speak to who I am anymore.
I have been very careful to edit what I say for fear of … I don’t really know. Not offending anyone but maybe shocking some of you by what’s really going on in my life.

Don’t worry – things are really good.

But I need to be more me.

I haven’t been blogging as much because of that nagging need to be careful and I am going to let go of that restraint.

So back to the blogging world.

Annivalmas. Or Why I Don’t Get Christmas Presents

May 12, 2010

Annivalmas. Such a happy word. Ahhh it just rolls off the tongue. What? Not yours? Why not? You mean you have never heard the word before? Oh yeah, that’s because Keith and I made it up. It’s a holiday. See, a few years ago Keith and I decided that since our ANNIversary (of moving in together – Yes, we lived in sin. No, I don’t recommend it – this was before we were married), VALentine’s Day and ChristMAS all were so close together, we should roll them all together into one holiday. Hence, Annivalmas.

That first year we planned and planned. We schemed and each of us tried to outdo the other with the best gifts and tokens of love. We made plans to spend the whole weekend together – alone – without kids. We packed up our things and headed over to the Hilton for the weekend. Or I guess I should say Keith did. I was at work. He set everything up at the hotel, candles, wine, etc. and made everything as romantic as possible. We had a jacuzzi tub – one of those heart ones I think. We ate dinner in the hotel and then opened the gifts that we had worked so hard to impress each other with: I bought Keith Danzig tickets and made him a three disc compilation CD set of unlikely love songs that I still play to this day featuring songs like The Dead Milkmen’s Punk Rock Girl, Sean Connery crooning In My Life, The Ramones’ I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend, stuff like that. I received some really cool retro pinup girl artwork that is hanging in our bedroom still and a piercing gun – that, you guessed it, gets used to this day (we really did pick out good gifts that year now that I think about it!). After that? I fell asleep. I think we got in the jacuzzi at some point (I have a vague recollection of that) but sleep is what I did all weekend. Keith watched TV. I must have been tired.

We have celebrated six Annivalmases since that first one. Thankfully they have improved in quality since that first one. We have headed to Atlanta, we have stayed in Chattanooga. We have handmade gifts, we have went all out and bought gifts we really couldn’t afford. But the main point of Annivalmas is to show each other as much love as we possibly can in one weekend. And they have all been love-filled – sleep-filled or not.

Since the inception of Annivalmas, we have added a couple of more holidays to the celebration: our birthdays. At first it was Keith’s because his birthday is so close to Christmas. Then it was mine because we began recently celebrating Annivalmas so late in the year and it’s only fair to add mine to the mix too. And Christmas. Now, I know… Christmas was originally on the list! BUT we still got presents at Christmas just not as many. Now its down to three – under $20 and we only do that because of the kids and extended family. I don’t think the kids would understand why Santa ignored us when we, obviously, haven’t been bad.

So, it’s almost Annivalmas time. Next weekend. I just realized that last night. Or was it the night before? Never mind. The point is, I haven’t thought of what to do and we are broke. This is our SIXTH Annivalmas so I have to do something special! I never thought we would make it to our second – never mind our sixth! So for all you creative people out there, what can I cheaply make for Annivalmas that has love written all over it?

I Found Someone That Allowed Me To Freely Admit It…

May 10, 2010

I am a domestic debacle. That’s right. As much as I want to be a really cool, with it housewife, I really stink at it. Have you seen my shower curtain? What about those dishes that keep piling up? I love to cook though. And I love to sew, but I really don’t know how. I can make a skirt – if you give me two hours to make a “Five Minute Skirt”. I can make a quilt – as long as you want a rag quilt (one that intentionally looks shaggy).

But, I happened to stumble upon the Domestic Debacle today and realized that there are women out there who are stay at home moms (Ok, she’s also a part time pre-school teacher) but aren’t amazing housewives. I feel liberated!

Her site is amazing. She seems really cool and I want her to be my new best friend.

Go visit.

Child Solider

March 25, 2010

Please take the time to read. This can be considered graphic by some. I cried the first time I read it. Just a note of warning.

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“Please God, no more killing. Not today. I can’t watch anymore.” That is how the prayer went.

Off in the distance, Allen can hear the screams, the piercing blasts of gunfire, and the panic of sheer terror hits him. He knows all too well the significance of the sounds. How could he ever forget? They were the same sounds the heard right before the soldiers stormed his village and violently abducted his mother and father, brutally beating them to death to intimated and coerce other abductees.

On that horrible day, the rebels did leave Allen behind. But after hiding in the bush for weeks with five other boys, sleeping on the ground with no food or water, the rebels found them. Allen was only ten years old.

From the moment he was abducted, he was beaten two or three times a day and given little food or water. “Get up boy. It’s time to watch your friends die.” the rebel soldier yelled to Allen. He was forced to watch helplessly as the soldiers bludgeoned his friends in the head until they lay motionless in the gruesome pool of their own blood. Under threats of death, the rebels forced him to commit heinous acts of evil as well. He could feel his heart slipping into darkness.

Tonight, when Allen is sent to collect firewood, he plans to run. He will run hard…he’ll run until he collapses if he has to. Freedom is his dream. And maybe if he runs far enough he can live for a day with no killing and perhaps began to heal.

~ The Love Revolution – Joyce Meyer

Statistics say:
The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) abducted over thirty THOUSAND children to serve as soldiers or sex slaves in Uganda. In addition to being beaten, raped, and forced to march until exhausted, abducted children were forced to participate in the killing of other children who attempted to escape.

Child slavery is REAL. Not only are children just like my own being forced into wars, they are being used as sex slaves. EVERY DAY. It could happen to your child. Please take a moment and say a prayer for those in this situation. They desperately need it right now. This is a situation in which we say, What can I do? Its such a huge issue and what can one person do? The first step is to pray.

If this has moved you in the slightest, I ask you to visit Move For Uganda and watch the video. I understand that this walk takes place during church but you can do as Keith and I are doing and support someone who is walking and take place in the festivities at Coolidge Park after church. You may also become a fan of theirs on Facebook

For even more survivor testimonies, visit Polaris Project.

For an amazing 3:05 animated video on sex slavery, please visit Stop Child Slavery

And pray. Please pray for these children.

Button Eyes and Cancelled Parties

March 24, 2010

Katie decided on a pool party this year. I think I mentioned that earlier. We found that the Brainerd Rec Center charged a whole lot less than the YMCA. A whole lot less. All was fine and dandy and it was scheduled for April the 3rd.

The girls always choose a theme for their party. This year Katie wants a Coraline party. Coraline. Coraline? Really? Come on. Make it hard on dear ole Stepmom. Last year it was a duck theme. Yellow and ducks. That was pretty simple. (Here is last year’s cupcake creation: ) But Coraline?

So I spent an entire weekend thinking up Coraline thoughts. Here we go: Black and dark purple for the colors. Then I thought, well what am I going to decorate? I mean, its a pool. What do you decorate? No streamers. No balloons. The plates and napkins and cups can be black and purple. The punch will be purple. Check. Then we can play pin the button eye on The Other Mother!!! What a cool game! But wait, the kids are going to be swimming. So no time for games. Uncheck that one.

I made the invitations Saturday:

That’s Coraline’s key for unlocking the door to the other world. We handed out most of the invitations Sunday and Monday.

Then there is the cake. I am making The Other Mother’s Birthday Cake.
I simply cannot wait. You guys know how much I love doing cakes. I was going to make cupcakes and simply put buttons on the top – that was my genius plan at first. But Keith didn’t think that was creative enough.

Abby found this cake:
but there is no way I can do that one.

So I pretty much have it planned out and all should be ok, no?

No.

Monday afternoon I received a call from the Rec Center. At first they told me that they had accidentally booked the party during swim lesson time and it wouldn’t work. I was fine with changing the time. A little miffed that they hadn’t told me that when I booked it, but fine with it. Then they said they made the mistake of booking it over Easter because none of the lifeguards wanted to work Easter weekend anyway so they couldn’t do it Easter weekend.

So I rescheduled for the next weekend Katie would be with us. The 17th. Then Keith told me later the girls have a dress rehearsal for ballet class that day. So I called back and re-rescheduled for the 10th. Come to find out, I have a church outreach that day. I am not rescheduling again.

Why can’t birthday parties be simple?

Next year really won’t be simple. Next year? Sweet Sixteen.

Go Green

March 19, 2010

My senior year of high school, I joined the Environmental Club. Not because I was (or am) a hippie. And not because I really cared about the environment. It was because friends of mine joined so they could all take a field trip to the aquarium. I hadn’t been to the aquarium yet but wasn’t dying to go. But I ended up going anyway. All because of the environmental club.

I don’t remember anything about the Environmental Club other than that one field trip. Hopefully our teacher doesn’t read my blog. See, I don’t even remember who the teacher was or I would have said “Hopefully Mrs. So-and-so doesn’t read my blog.” But no, Environmental club wasn’t that memorable.

All that to say, whoever the teacher was, she (it was a female) would be thrilled to see my garden plans this year. For two years now I have had a little mini garden. Or two little mini gardens. They are on the side of the back porch. Probably eight by four if I had to guess. Not big at all. Just a few plants: tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, lettuce, etc. This year I am planting a Garden. Notice the capital G?

I even created a spreadsheet for my garden. Alas, the spreadsheet was created on a borrowed laptop that has since been lost but I created it nonetheless. And I will recreate it sometime this weekend, hopefully. The spreadsheet listed every plant I am planning to plant, how many plants of each plant I am planting, when I am planting each, what plants go well with other plants, what plants don’t go with other plants and when each plants should be ready for harvesting.

Yesterday, I sat down with my favorite seed catalog. It’s from The Cook’s Garden and they have all kinds of wonderful yumminess waiting on me and my debit card. Now just to convince Keith that I need to hurry up and order. (Honey, if you are reading this, don’t you think it’s time? Pretty please?)