September 29, 2005

Hotel-School Burn-Out

I'm using the hotel's computer to check in and say that I'm certainly ready to be back in Houston at this point! It's been nice, but I miss my computer. I miss my cat, too... but she's not in Houston... she's staying with my mother somewhere in Central Texas. I feel like I'm in little pieces, half of me here, half of me there, and most of me wishing I could be somewhere I'm not!

The kids are experiencing hotel-school burn-out. Amazingly, we've gotten quite a bit done that I had planned. I even got a library card for a local library near me, and checked out a bunch of great books for the kids. They have been reading them in-between assignments.

We're going on a mini vacation this weekend out of State... a business trip of sorts... mixed with some family visits. I am not sure I'll have much time or ability to get online and check in, so you'll have to forgive me for being absent.

Today's Prayer List:

My friend in Missouri who's divorce is final, and who's ex-husband is really taking things hard right now...

My husband's employment options...

My house-less-ness...

Safe travel graces...

My mom... (who has an October birthday coming up)...

All the hurricane victims (especially Rita's forgotten coastal cities that were devistated last week)... and the cows and animals left ownerless.

Etc., Etc., Etc.!

September 28, 2005

Environmental Homeschooling, Gas and God's Feet

Homeschool Tree-Huggers
You have got to read this very cute article by WorldNetDaily reporter Doug Powers. He's got a very compelling argument about why Homeschooling is good for our environment. Never would have thought of this one!

Wireless Woes and Fuel Fears
Sorry about the silence yesterday. The hotel we are staying at in Dallas claims to have wireless access, but I've been unable to detect a network to connect to. Their customer support told me that they have no idea why we can't connect... and neither do we, especially since we can connect at other hot spots with the same wifi card, and we drove around the hotel and even walked into the lobby with our laptop and can't find any wireless connection. So, the kids and I are trying to homeschool and get a few errands run (washing clothes at relative's houses, going to the library, etc.).

I saw a gas station last night selling regular for 2.60$, and I should have filled my pump. On the way to my sister's today, I saw 2.89$ and 2.99$ along side the freeway. I hope I can make it back to the hotel on 1/4 tank and I hope the gas station at 2.60$ is still selling it for the same price! This SUV is bleeding my pocketbook dry!

Divine Pedicure?
We were discussing Moses' request to have God show him His glory last night after reading Exodus 30-34 in our hotel room. Morgan (my six year old - for those of you just tuning in) stared at me in wonder as I told her about how God lifted Moses and put him in the cleft of the rock and covered him with His hand as He allowed all his goodness and glory to pass by. I told them about how God said no one could see His face and live, so He only allowed Moses to see his back. Earlier in the previous chapters it was also stated that God came and spoke with Moses as a man would a friend. My son, (eight year old) Kaden said, "I wish that God would do that still today."

I asked him, "Have you prayed about it? I bet God could still do that today. He could shove you right in that hotel closet and let his glory pass behind you!" He giggled at the thought of being stuffed in a hotel closet by the hand of God.

Morgan piped up, "Yeah, Mama, you could get God to let you take a picture of his feet, and you could put it on your blog."

Now it was my turn to laugh. She figured we could make some money if we were the only people to have a picture of God... of course... his feet - because we wouldn't want to accidentally get a picture of his face and cause ourselves and all of blogdom to expire early!

Kaden said, "YEAH!" as if his sister had come up with the world's most brilliant plan, "And we would be RICH!"

Well, good - maybe we could afford the gasoline for the SUV then!

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September 26, 2005


OK, Cindy! I finally got to your meme. We're doing homeschool in Dallas this week... as good as we can. We'll be home next week after the gas stations are re-stocked!

"Getting to Know Me"

Things I want to do before I die:
1. Take walks with my grandchildren and tell them stories.
2. Get caught up with my scrapbooking (6 years behind and counting).
3. Learn to speak at least four more languages.
4. Find peace in a ministry God calls me to – whatever that may be… Feel like I’ve been useful to Him.
5. Go to India and meet my sponsored child.
6. Be the wind beneath my husband’s wings.
7. Watch my children amaze me with the wonderful god-centered adults they grow up to become.

Things I can do:
1. Enjoy art, create art, and take pictures.
2. Laugh and Love.
3. Pray Continually.
4. Feel Compassion.
5. Pinch my kid’s hineys.
6. Drive all over Texas.
7. Get out of debt.

Things I cannot do:
1. Fit in last year’s jeans without serious pain.
2. Tan.
3. Stay angry with someone I love.
4. Deny my faith in Jesus.
5. Say the pledge of allegiance without the mention of God.
6. Believe that my kids are about to turn 7 and 9.
7. Imagine a marriage in which a man and woman are not best friends.

Things that attract me to my husband:
1. His island blue-green eyes.
2. His laugh, his embrace, and his Greek-god-good-looks.
3. His heart for others, and how he loves his children.
4. His integrity and work ethic.
5. The fearless way he stands by his beliefs – even in the face of ridicule.
6. The fact that he gives himself wholly to something – all or nothing.
7. That he brings me breakfast tacos even if I don’t ask for them when he’s out Saturday morning.

Celebrity crushes I’ve had in the past:
1. Kirk Cameron (when I was 13 or so)
2. Val Kilmer (when I was 15 or so)
3. Patrick Stewart (when I was 18 or so)
4. David Duchovny (when I was in my early 20’s)
5. My famous, gorgeous husband (OK, maybe he’s not famous to you… but he is to me… from when I was 19 years old to “until men are fairy-tales in books written by rabbits”)

People I want to do this next:
1. Shana
2. Jan
3. Rhonda
4. Grizzly
5. Daddypundit

September 24, 2005

Lazy Saturday in Dallas

I'm feeling pretty guilty about Rita's ability to suck the rest of our homeschool week into her wet little whirlwind. Wondering if I should find some time today to cram the entire week's worth of library books into my children's little minds. Maybe we should just discuss the topic and move on. We're supposed to be done with Friction/Resistance and Action/Reaction by yesterday... and we didn't cover very much this week with our exodus out of Houston, packing up to live with relatives, and being completely absorbed by CNN since Thursday night.

Anyway... in the mean time, I've been browsing the very interesting blog links that I've listed for you in my side-bar. Amy of Amy's Humble Musings has a nice little post about trusting God and being true to yourself and what you believe in as you live your life - no matter what other people think of you. This particular post by Amy kind of ties in with my Little Dinosaur post (from earlier this week) in an obscure kind of way. If you scroll down a bit in her recent posts, you'll see a link to Challies... click here if you, too, want to enter the contest (which Amy says is legit).

Off to hug on my children. Have a super rest of the weekend. Thanks for stopping by!

Sept Giveaway

September 23, 2005

Rita Freeway Trauma

First Hand Account of The Hurricane Rita Exodus
Last night, as I lay in the bed, feeling as if a third eye was growing out of my center-forehead (really bad headache)... I kept dozing off to the vision of breaklights and jerking awake to prevent myself from crashing into the traffic in my dreams. I spent almost 13 hours in the SUV yesterday (over half of it without air conditioning) with my two kids. We left Houston on back-streets at around 4:22 AM, and made it only two exits down highway 290 in an hour. I decided that it was crazy to try and drive without food and water (and cash), so I got off the freeway and returned to our inlaw's house for backup supplies. I wasn't about to rely on stopping along the way for fast food with that many people on the road. Gas stations all over Houston were completely dry. If there was gas, it was most likely going to be Super, and most likely going to be overpriced. Some gas stations had a fifteen car wait behind the pump. The day was like one in an action-packed disaster movie... completely Hollywoodesque.

4:20 AM - Leaving Houston
I had planned to leave at 3am, but I slept through my alarm on my mobile phone. I had gotten a full tank of gas the night before, but even then, the gas stations were running dry. I figured leaving so early, I would be making great time... but as I hit the freeway at around 4:25 AM, I began to see that making normal drive time was not going to happen. It was "gridlock" - a huge parking lot - all the way down the highway ahead of me... a river of red lights and blinkers. I began to wonder how long a full tank of gas would last me in traffic moving that slow (or not moving at all). I went down a few back roads to make my way to 45 after I heard about the plan to switch southbound traffic to northbound traffic all the way to Buffalo (close to the half-way mark to Dallas). A backwoods restroom stop at a business in The Woodlands (North of Houston) turned out a map for me (from a helpful employee who lived in the area) to avoid some traffic on my way to 45 North. I45 was complete chaos. By now, the sun was shining, and the cool breeze was becoming warm humid yuck.

6:30 AM - Still in Houston
I stopped to top my tank off before I hit the freeway and waited behind two or three other cars. I also stopped in at a gas-less gas station to use their restroom. They were running low on toilet paper, and the lines to use the restroom were pretty lengthy. I decided we would just limit our water and food on the trip to prevent having to make multiple stops. I heard all day on the radio along our way that the gas stations in the areas I was covering were already dry. I left our air conditioner off most of the way as I was afraid to end up like the poor souls on the median - out of luck. Kaden cried in the back seat because his shirt was sticking to his body. He cried because the sun was beating down on him. We saw more and more vehicles going by with their windows covered with towels, blankets and clothes. Dogs panted and drooled in the heat from their cages in the back of pick-up trucks. Drivers frowned in the glaring sun.

Lunch Time - Still Not Half Way
What was normally a 3.5 to 4 hour drive slowly unwound into a miserable, cramped, unbearably hot 14 hours for some. I shuddered to think that I had already spent over eight hours in the car and I was only half way there. I was impressed with the Texas leaders putting together unprecedented methods for evacuation, though. The counter-flow measures they implemented on I45 really did make a difference. The Texas Hurricane Rita evacuation will go down in the local history books because of TXDOT's (Texas Department of Transportation) innovation. I was certainly impressed (and liberated) as I hopped the curb somewhere south of Huntsville. I drove through the median to pop over to the southbound lanes with many other frustrated "traveling buddies". It really helped to get the traffic flow going. I felt like a renegade going 70 miles per hour in the wrong direction. "WRONG WAY!" screamed the warning signs... I could only clap and smile as a lady (obviously from Galveston - her belongings roped to the top of her car) gave me an elated thumbs up after we first made our lane switch. I kept hearing on the radio that there would be relief for those who had run out of gas, and were stuck sweating it out on the side of the freeway. I never saw a tanker at the rest stops, only lots and lots of people... and restrooms that were closed and chained shut. I did see a little kid, stark naked and sweaty, sitting on his training potty which Mom wisely brought along for the long exodus north.

2:00 PM - North of Half-way Mark
A few times, when the traffic was not moving, my son tried to stand up through the sun-roof and take a picture of the freeway for me. He didn't quite have the understanding of what I was trying to capture, though. He took a photo of the top of my SUV, and the green hillside along the freeway, instead of the traffic lanes as far as the eye could see behind us (in both north and southbound lanes). I hoped to have a photo to blog, but the battery ran out in the camera soon after his failed attempt. Another interesting fact, was that over half of the people I saw on the freeway were of Hispanic descent. I had heard that as of recently, the Texas population was over half Hispanic, making Caucasians and African Americans the new minorities, but it was interesting to see that first hand. There were entire families along side the roads, mostly Hispanic, stopping to picnic and rest. The only thing that really bothered me along the trip about the way others were acting was the serious trash problem along side the roadways. I have never seen so much TRASH along the ground on the freeways! In Texas, we take it pretty serious when people litter. "Don't Mess with Texas" is our motto. We take pride in our clean Texas highways and our wildflowers growing along the roads. Seeing everyone's discarded trash really boiled my native Texas blood (which was already simmering in the 95 degree swelter).

3:00 PM - Hitting the Back Roads
I finally gave up on Interstate 45 somewhere just north of Buffalo when the freeway came back together and we merged back onto the northbound lanes. The traffic returned to a slow stop, and I got off on some tiny farm road with the help of my Texas Road Atlas and a few quick prayers. I managed to find a stocked gas station not too far away from the highway in the woods, and filled my tank up - glad that there was no line to use the restroom. A filthy restroom has never been more welcome to me! The kids held their noses. I felt pretty sneaky, and rather proud of myself for making my way through the endless farms and prairies of north central Texas without a car in sight. I was alone on the back-roads for an hour or so, before finding an un-clogged main artery heading back in to the Dallas area.

5:30 PM - Dinner in Dallas
I arrived, tired and battling a headache at around 4:45 PM, just over twelve hours after we had begun our freeway fiasco. We hadn't been able to get a hotel room (not a vacancy in the whole state), so my relatives gladly offered us a bedroom. We unloaded our car and then went back out for dinner since our relatives were not home. I was tired and hungry. The kids were begging for real food - never really full from the snacks we ate in the car all day. We enjoyed a quick drive-through meal from McDonalds. I was not about to cook! Finally, showered, clean, and laying on my sister's couch, I was so glad to be on the other side of my long journey out of Houston. I watched Fox News and saw the evening's aerial shots of the highways. They looked like long orange lava flows from the sky. I still wonder if Rita will actually hit Houston. Right now, she's a category three (down from a five as per yesterday's news reports). I was sorry to hear that the rain was already damaging New Orleans again. Either way, I pray for those in and around Rita's path. My husband has prayed that the storm disapear into a mist out in the waters of the Gulf. I hope that all my fellow travelers who endured this very difficult exodus to safety will have homes to return to. May God bless us, and prevent our gasoline prices from rising again!

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September 21, 2005

Tracking Hurricane Rita

As if we needed any more evacuees around here... now, the city of Galveston is being evacuated upwards into the state as well. I'm in a coastal area, also, so we're packing up and heading North for the rest of our school week and weekend. I certainly won't be using Priceline to book my hotel, though!

Make the most of this homeschool event if you are interested in hurricanes. Here are some websites you and your children will enjoy:

Do Some Hurricane Tracking and Research

Make a Hurricane Lapbook

For more information about lapbooking:

Stay SAFE and Pray for the areas Rita will make landfall!

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September 20, 2005

Little Dinosaur

Here's a face only a mama lizard could love. If he could just live to be 400, he might be big enough to fight back... and eat me. I tend to snag little creeping reptiles the second I lay eyes on them, just for fun. They have the absolute cutest little fingers. My kids call me the "Lizard Mama". Here's my latest scratchy little dragon which I snuck up on in the garden outside. We brought him in for a photo shoot. Poor little guy, he wasn't sure if we were serious when we finally let him go - still in shock.
One of my favorite post cards was by a really talented cartoonist - I forget his name. I think he lived in Hawaii or something. He had the most awesome post card of a lizard, lying in his little matchbox bed, reading a comic book about dinosaurs.... dreaming he was a ferocious beast, chasing mankind. I see the dinosaur inside these little creatures. They are God's small, green, interesting handiwork... to those with eyes to see them for what they really are.
Deep in all of us, there's the image of something we know we could be - if only we had the confidence to trust God and ourselves, and not worry what other people think. God made each of us for a purpose. We may be different shapes, sizes, and colors, but we are all special. I pray that we can all let our little dinosaurs out (not only daydream about it), and not waste the talent and future God has given us. There's no better day to start than today! Carpe Diem.


Homeschool Mom with the Rubber Eyelids

Need Sleep
Now that school has started, it seems that there are more things to get done than there are seconds in the day. I've been up past my bed time tonight trying to grade last week's papers (because I didn't do it this weekend while my husband was in town). My kids are in the king sized bed behind me (my son keeps talking in his sleep). Earlier, Morgan woke up scratching, and I looked at her to discover a rash all over her body. I carried her into the bathroom and covered her in anti-itch cream and gave her some allergy medicine. Hopefully she didn't get into poison ivy this weekend outside. We said a prayer for her to be well in the morning! I should be asleep right now. I shouldn't have drank that second coke today - or eaten the Monster Tacos, jalapeno poppers or curly fries, either!

Busy School Days
I am finding less and less time to blog, although I constantly think of little things throughout the day I would love to stop and write down. They vaporize in a mist of forgotten moments as the day goes whizzing by. I am going to try and get in here each day, but I may skip a day or two between longer, more researched posts... and I just can't guaranty what I can provide on weekends with our lives turned upside down by this move and commuting. Hopefully we can find a home soon and settle down. It would surely make homeschool easier. I know the children enjoy being at Nana and Pawpaw's... but I am sure they would enjoy homeschooling more if it were done less in transit, and more at home.

Completed First Konos Unit of 2005
We finished our Crime and Punishment Unit in the Konos Volume 1 Book. I didn't cover every little idea that I had scribbled in my lesson planner. I did, however, cover the main items, and we managed for the very first time in my Konos history to finish a unit ON TIME. I can just hear the shocked gasps from my Konos friends as they read this post. I have long been the four-times-as-long tag-a-long Konos Mom. So, this year, I'm truly excited that for once, I'm starting off the year on track!

Worksheets and Math
We are finishing up last year's A Beka books (Math) as review. My son, 8, is doing the end of his second grade Math book. My daughter, 6, is doing the end of her first grade Math book. I suspect this will last a few weeks or so, and we are combining a few 4th and 3rd grade worksheets in from workbooks we purchased at a wholesale club. I am considering buying Math-U-See for them as well. I have the entire Miquon Series, also. I might try to utilize that this year, and see how well they take to it. My son has trouble staying focused on the A Beka because of his tendency to get easily distracted. My daughter seems to be doing fine with A Beka, but gets easily frustrated and I really feel like the concepts are not sinking in as well as they could with a more manipulative program such as Miquon or Math-U-See. This will be a nice year to switch and see how they improve. I am ready to let go of the "busy work" and switch gears.

Making it Memorable - Field Trip Fun
We went on the most wonderful field trip to end our Crime and Punishment Unit. We drove to Huntsville, Texas and toured the "Texas Prison Museum". We got to see the "Thunderbolt", or "Old Sparky" as some residents call it... the outlawed electric chair. The museum was full of glass cases with lots of confiscated contraband from inmates. It is amazing how talented and bright these prisoners were. There was a beautiful delicate sculpture of exotic tropical flowers made from toilet paper, a working home-made speaker and food processor, all manner of knives and guns (some just made to scare people into thinking they were real, but actually only carved art-work without function!), beautifully illustrated inmate-made playing cards, strange weapons, and even a tree stump that had dozens of finely detailed carvings of animals that could have been displayed in a fine art museum! We saw pictures of famous inmates, and read information about the prison's life-span through the years. The kids got to enter a mock cell, and watch a video about Texas prisons. After we left the museum, we drove them on a tour around the town (in which there are quite a few sights relating to the prison). They got to see the crumbling stadium where the Prison Rodeo used to be held, and the "Walls" of the Maximum Security Prison and the area where death row inmates are held (driving by from the outside, of course). The prison guards in the watch towers along the way watched us closely as we circled the building and called out to ask us why we were driving by so slow! I explained that we were on the "driving tour", but I can imagine they are leery of any suspect vehicles! The brochure and map gave interesting facts to read as you drove on the tour, and the tour ended in a fitting place... the prison grave-yard. Tears almost came to my eyes as I saw how many people had died there, and how many of the graves have only numbers on the headstones. It opened up a great opportunity to talk with the children about how important it is to stay out of trouble and build your relationships with others, so you won't ever be left behind and unclaimed like those poor souls in Huntsville. May God forgive them and give them rest. It is almost inhuman to see a man's tombstone with only the word "Executed" and a serial number beside it.

New Unit This Week
So, we are starting Friction and Resistance, Action and Reaction this week... and hopefully, I can find all the interesting Science project supplies to make this unit fun. Today we had the nice distraction of family to enjoy, so we haven't gotten to any Konos activities yet this week. First thing on my list for tomorrow is the library.

Good Night and Good Advice
I'm off to dreamland. Have a wonderful Tuesday! Hug and kiss your children - one day, you'll blink, and they'll be all grown up!

September 18, 2005

Hotel Nightmare (Why I Won't Use Priceline Again)

While house hunting a week ago, I made hotel reservations using It wasn't the first time I had used them. They have usually given me decent hotels, with little or no hassle involved. Some of the rates have been so great - cheaper than other online services - that it made not knowing for sure WHICH hotel you'll be stuck with almost worth it. They charge your credit card after you "name your price", pick which rating of hotel you wish to stay at, and tell them what area to choose from. You don't get to see a list or pick the name of the hotel. There's a uncomfortable level of trust expected of you... and in the past, I had not been disappointed. I have used Priceline at least ten times before, but last weekend, it would be a vast understatement to say that I was unpleasantly surprised when I showed up to check in.

First of all, Priceline has three ratings:

3 Star Upscale (not always available depending on town/city) - These are listed as the "most recognized hotels in the industry" - high quality, and well decorated... such as: Hilton, Hyatt, Embassy Suites, Holiday Inn, Marriott or Sheraton

2.5 Star Hotels - They list these as "quality name brand hotels" such as: Amerisuites, Doubletree Club, Residence Inn, or Holiday Inn

2 Star Hotels - Listed as name brand hotels "known for their quality" which are "clean" and "comfortable", such as: Holiday Inn, La Quinta Inn, Ramada Inn, Best Western and Comfort Inn

1 Star Hotels - Listed again, as national name brand "quality" hotels... [hmmm? Sounding a bit redundant?] such as: Sleep Inn, Roadway Inn, Econolodge, Red Roof Inn, or Super 8

From this list, it looks as if you can't really go wrong if you avoid the 1-star rating for the most part (and you do a little research as to what side of town to book in). When I have used Priceline in the past, I have always tried to get as high on the tier of stars as I can without forking out over a certain dollar amount. I actually got a 65$ room for only 30$ once, and I know this to be true, because I had previously called the hotel to book direct, and they gave me that flat rate over the phone the same day I reserved it through Priceline. For the record, I chose a TWO-STAR hotel last weekend. I can't even fathom what their One-Star locations must really be like from the likes of the last place!

Something went very awry the night we checked in to what I now affectionately call the "roach-pit". Either someone at Priceline was paid off to rate this particular "motel" as a 2-star property, or maybe the mob was involved. I'm not quite sure, but it sure cost Priceline a repeat customer, and a lot of negative publicity.

When I checked in, I first noticed the flyers that were made from colored copy paper, stapled and taped and pasted to everything with a flat surface... stating that they were a Red Cross facility for Katrina Victims. I am glad that they were being so kind as to offer their rooms, but it seemed that they were doing it not so much for charity, but for the possibility of cashing in on inflated rates from FEMA refunds. It was like a low-dollar advertising campaign with bright yellow Red Cross signs everywhere. You only need one flyer on the door to let people know you'll help!

Next, I noticed how run down the place seemed to be. People were hanging out on the steps out front smoking cigars. There was a broken down vehicle in the parking lot out back that looked like it had been there for years... oil leaking out in a black lake from under it's prehistoric 1970's frame.... tilted to one corner in a tire-less bow. The lady at the cashier's office gave me a key to a room. I quickly discovered after the trip upstairs to see it, that it had only ONE bed [for our four person family]. The elevator buttons had to be pushed a number of times to actually light up. The halls smelled of at least fifteen different international food types being cooked at the same time [or maybe rotten leftovers from fifteen different restaurants awaiting the end of the week for maid-pick-up]. This was one of those stay-by-the-week kitchenette places... and my stomach was assaulted by my nose as I exited the second floor. I was getting the strange feeling that this place was a big mistake. A really big, really bad mistake that Priceline was about to make. So, to spare them the humiliation, I decided to step outside and return to my car to make a quick phone-call and sort the matter out. I flipped open my cell phone to call Priceline (the only phone number listed happened to be a long distance number [another hidden charge]).

I was expecting a nice, helpful person on the other end of the phone. I got someone who spoke broken English. She tried to help, I guess, if you could understand her. I eventually was transferred to another lady, who had an accent, but was much more fluent. I tried to explain to her that I believed that they had categorized our hotel wrong. I explained that it seemed run down, that we were only given one bed [not the standard two double beds at the least that we were used to getting] and that it quite literally stunk. I asked her to move us to another hotel, or refund us so that we could go buy our own hotel room with the three days worth of charges they had already taken from our Visa. She went in circles around me a few times with legal mumbo-jumbo... and since I didn't have my internet connection at my finger tips, so that I could quickly read her the 2-Star qualifications she most certainly had forgotten about... I lost the battle. She said she would get back on the line with me after speaking with a manager and sorting this out.

How did she sort it out? She called the hotel clerk that had just given me the key to my stinky, run-down, one-bed "suite", and told her that I thought her hotel stunk, and I needed two beds. So, now, not only was I NOT going to get my money back, and not only could I NOT change hotels, but I had just vicariously and completely snubbed my nose at the hotel's staff ["Thanks Priceline!"]. I was shaking, I was so mad when I found out they were not going to refund me. I told them quite plainly that they had lost a customer - FOR GOOD. She had the gall to ask me before I hung up if she could do anything else to help me. "You haven't helped me." I replied.

I walked back in to the hotel, and after being quizzed by the clerk about my statement regarding the smells in the hallway, she agreed to give me a room on a different floor with two beds [as long as I paid 20$ more]. My husband was beside himself. He asked me if I would just let him take us to another hotel and loose the money on this one. I was determined that Priceline was NOT going to keep my money and make me pay full price at another hotel because of their refusal to refund me. We were in this for the long haul - the whole weekend - even if they spit on our pillows while we were out the next day. We unloaded the car, and I got out my pen and paper to make a list of the awful conditions of the room, lest I forget the torture they put me through.

The carpet had seen better days (and was well acquainted with many non-recognizable substances that could qualify under the "goo" heading). The white linoleum was stained and peeling up at the edges near the corners and at the tub. The caulk was missing on the floor near the bathtub [wonder if it rained in the downstairs bedroom when my kids took a shower?]. There was a sliver of counter space that went around the sink and the back of the toilet, and had the lid to the toilet not been shut, my bathroom duffel bag would have ended up inside it. The door trim was banged and scuffed. There were pubic hairs on the floor. There was a huge funnel-shaped spider web on the lower portion of the window looking out. I had to search the room to find a trash can [hidden in a "kitchen" cabinet], so the first night, the trash went in the sink.

The toilet had to be flushed twice. The walls had cracks. The hinges were rusted. The card keys gave us trouble on the first day, and on the second day [thanks to our blabbing friends at Priceline], they didn't work at all. I suspected revenge was the motive when we got locked out and had to go get new keys at the front desk. On the second night, not only did our keys get turned off mysteriously, but our air-conditioner stopped working. It sounded like clanging metal and tapping spoons on kitchen pots all night. I finally figured out that if you turned it on "Medium", it actually got a little colder. I wondered if the clerk had specially picked this room for us after Priceline told them "we hated them". In the morning, the carpet around the A/C was completely soaked with cold water. The TV remote stopped working as well. For that many things to go wrong in one hotel room seemed almost comical... at least it does today - but not really when you are experiencing it.

Half way through the second night, as I lost precious sleep, I reminded myself to write all of this down so that Priceline would PAY. Yeah, maybe I lost my money, and they wouldn't refund me... but they were certainly going to PAY, and dearly. The last straw for me was the morning we checked out. Before we left for breakfast, we got our things together (tip-toeing on the edges of the blankets to find our shoes so our feet wouldn't have to touch the nasty floor). A roach crawled out from under a cabinet and across my foot as it made it's way towards the bed my children had slept on. I screamed and jumped as my husband looked down and stepped on it. "I knew it!" I screeched, "I knew they had roaches! This is the grossest hotel I have ever stayed at!"

"Nope, honey." My husband said, laughing, "Remember that nasty place in Dallas - the Scottish Roach Motel?"

"Oh, yeah, I said. OK, this is the second grossest place I've ever stayed at." I said in agreement.

When I returned my keys, the clerk didn't ask me if we had enjoyed our stay. I think she knew better. So, while I'm certainly glad the place we stayed at is offering free room and board to people who aren't able to afford much right now... I am sorry that they are reduced to such levels of nastiness as to have to stay at places such as that! I am sure of one thing... I won't trust Priceline to reserve a room for me again. I'll be using a service that allows me to pick my own room! You can chalk this post up to FAIR WARNING!

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September 16, 2005

Coming Dawn

I spent the night the other night at my friend Ammie's while I was away checking mail and changing my address in my old town. She happened to be cooking her famous Beef Stroganoff, so I was persuaded into staying for dinner (and then Italian Coffee)... making it too late for my return drive. It is nice when you find homeschool friends who feel more like family. I have a few of those, scattered in and around Texas (and one family in Missouri). Friends are God's richest blessing.

I have heard it said that:

"Joys shared are double joys. Sorrows shared are half sorrows."
- Swedish Proverb

This is so true. It is hard leaving friends behind, but the great thing is, they will always be there when you go back.

Ammie lives in the country, surrounded by rolling hills, creeks, and beautiful mowed lawns covered with old oaks and two "ornamental" white ponies that roam freely. At night, while I was there, I woke up in the middle of the night, surrounded by windows and couldn't go back to sleep. I could see the trees swaying in the moonlight in the skylight. Blame it on the two cups of Italian Coffee. I wrote this poem before I went back to sleep...

Coming Dawn

Yesterday melts into history
Following the score of a cricket orchestra
Night lifts her shadow and nods in a bow
A curtain opens on the morning star
Darkness makes it's way through three shades of blue

An angel's chorus rising
Audience unaware, sleeping below, humanity sighs
The hands of the Creator cradle eternity
Heaven's silver dusting a brand new sky
Sunrise masterpiece and swirling colors

Stardust and Son
Priceless gift of another day
Precious time - mystery of forgiveness
Hidden in His palm
One more chance to find Him in the Light

Breath of yesterday finally exhaled, forgotten
Glowing blue marble of Earth, turning towards destiny
Judgement's shore awaits
A spot on the horizon of tomorrows
On the edge of God's sea of love

September 15, 2005

America Held Hostage by Liberal Judges with Nothing Better to Do

Got this in email today:

Federal Court in California Rules Pledge of Allegiance Unconstitutional

A federal district court in San Francisco has ruled that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Lawrence Karlton (eeeevil! - emphasis mine) ruled that the pledge's reference to one nation "under God" violates school children's right to be "free from a coercive requirement to affirm God." Karlton said he was bound by 2002 precedent of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Your Senators could have stopped this nonsense last year but they failed to act. In 2004, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would have prohibited liberal judges from ruling on issues involving the pledge, but failed because the bill died in U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

S. 1046 – The Pledge Protection Act of 2005 has been introduced in the U.S. Senate. Let's not let this happen again!

S.1046 - The Pledge Protection Act of 2005 - reads as follows: 'No court created by Act of Congress shall have any jurisdiction, and the Supreme Court shall have no appellate jurisdiction, to hear or decide any question pertaining to the interpretation of, or the validity under the Constitution of, the Pledge of Allegiance, as defined in section 4 of title 4, or its recitation.'

By exercising the authority of Congress to regulate the jurisdiction of federal courts, the Pledge Protection Act will do more than express an affirmation by Congress that the Pledge is constitutional. It will rein in a renegade judiciary that has confused the freedom for religion with freedom from religion.

If your Senator is already a co-sponsor, be sure to thank him or her for supporting this vital legislation. If not, urge your Senator to sign on as a sponsor S.1046 - The Pledge Protection Act of 2005.

Email Your Senators Now!

And please, please forward this very important email to your family and friends now!



Donald E. Wildmon, Founder and Chairman
American Family Association

My comments:

I wrote my senators (and of course, I tried to use a little more tact than I did in this blog post). If you don't know who yours are, you can click here and find out. It takes three seconds to send a nice little email about how you don't think the state of California is a constitutionally viable part of the United States, therefore anything coming down it's judicial pipe should be disregarded (no offense to nice conservative people in CA - ya'll can mosey on over to Texas, there's plenty of room for good folk in the Lone Star State)... and while we're at it... why not just sell California back to Mexico (with Judge Lawrence Karlton in it)? That might fix their housing market, too!

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September 14, 2005

Pathetic Blog Topic: My Favorite Shirt

I'm on my way out the door today... we're car-schooling again. I have to drive 3-400 more miles (adding to the almost 1,000 miles I put on the SUV last weekend) to go pick up our mail and change our address, have lunch with good friends, feed some cats, and then return to Nana and Pawpaw's house. I just wanted to share my favorite shirt with you... in case you had been sitting there wondering about it.... (Ha!) It's from Old Navy (and is actually a really LARGE kid's shirt). I saw a little 2 year old wearing one and HAD to have one. Bzzzzz - that's me! Queen Sprittibee!

See you tomorrow - I promise to try and come up with something a little more interesting to blog about!


September 13, 2005

Thumbs Up for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine!

Reviewed by Sprittibee

My family has homeschooled for only three short years, and have recently just begun our fourth. We are also a family who has a very slim homeschool budget, so we are always on the lookout for 'freebies' and good deals. I use a curriculum that, while initially is pricey, it lasts for many, many years... making it one of the most affordable curriculum I have found. During the four years surrounding our homeschool quest, I have read quite a few small, thin publications written for the homeschooling society. They have been interesting and informative, and even helpful (especially to a then newcomer to the world of home education), but they never inspired me to pull out my checkbook and subscribe (unless it meant getting in to a homeschool convention for free). This is why I have never sought out The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, even though I had heard that it was a first rate publication. I thought it would be like all the other homeschooling magazines... mostly advertisements (of the same companies who's fliers fill my convention bags each summer), and a few articles that, while helpful, are not something I would want to keep and re-read again.

I have to admit, once I found out that a few of my friends who were blogging had been offered a copy of the magazine for free if they would only read it and review it online... I jumped on the band wagon. I was also excited to find that they were offering free gifts and discounts on products that I already was using. I had no idea what to expect before the magazine arrived in my PO Box. I was impressed by the weight, thickness, and glossy cover (complete with a very professional photograph of an old, abandoned schoolhouse). It looked fancy enough to sit on the shelves at Barnes and Noble. I was pleased with myself for offering to review it. It no longer seemed like a chore, but rather, an intriguing way to spend my free time.

Life happened between the first few days of receiving my magazine and when I finally opened it up. Selling a home, packing, and moving... and starting school in the middle of it all, kept me from having any time to myself. So, I tucked The Old Schoolhouse Summer 2005 edition in my travel bag and planned to read it the next time I was stuck in the car or at a hotel (where I seem to find most of my "mommy time"). Once I was able to read it, I was so impressed by how professional, engaging and informative the articles were, I was glued to the pages for hours past my bed-time.

It seems that TOS is a relatively interactive magazine, that is truly plugged in to the needs and interests of today's homeschooling families. They print articles from homeschooling moms and dads who blog, from their readers, and from veteran homeschoolers who have lived the life and have so much to share. They are a quarterly publication, so they are able to save up submissions and publish a polished product that is worth the subscription price. This is also a benefit for me, because I hardly have time to read for pleasure with lesson plans and life keeping my focus until I hit the pillow each night. If I got one of these each month, they would surely stack up in a corner or on a shelf somewhere (collecting dust) like my National Geographic magazines that some well-meaning relative subscribed to in our name. While it is full of glossy advertisements like most other homeschool publications, it also has a wonderful selection of articles on very important topics. Some of the topics they chose for the summer 2005 issue are:

  • Blogging (some were written by bloggers)
  • Christian conduct and how we come across to others
  • International homeschooling (a "look at what's going on" with homeschooling around the world)
  • Thoughts from readers (in the "Teacher's Lounge" section - including great ideas, questions, opinions and input from the editors)
  • Homeschooling special-needs children (specifically Down's Syndrome and Autism)
  • Comparing curriculum (namely Sonlight and Covenant Home in this issue)
  • Glimpses into someone else's homeschool (always refreshing!)
  • Marriage building
  • Using life's distractions as teachable moments
  • Akiane the homeschooled art prodigy
  • The "Pleasures of Preschoolers"
  • Homeschooling active kids
  • Young patriots
  • Homeschooling entrepreneurs
  • Inspiring homeschool valedictorians
  • Reading success
  • Sign language
  • Gifted children and how to spot them in your family
  • Encouragement for those who have lost infants and children
  • Encouragement for single homeschool families
  • Communication skills
  • Being a storyteller
  • Interviews with long-time homeschoolers
  • A nice little Sheep/Wool article (for you fellow Konos users out there!)
  • Foreign field trips (I wish!)
  • Natural foods and supplements to help in behavior and learning
  • Natural medicines
  • Contest winners and prizes (lovely artwork by the readers' children)
  • Product reviews
  • New contests!
  • Cute Christian comic strips

The list speaks for itself, and you will not be disappointed in the content.

In a few short words, I would sum up TOS as a fabulous resource for homeschoolers.

I plan to fork over the money for a subscription when mine runs out. It will be money well spent! Hopefully one day, my kids can have their artwork in the pages. They've been begging me to send photos of their Lego creations and drawings to every kid magazine I can think of. I think our first submission will be to TOS!

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September 12, 2005

Understanding Your South Louisiana "House-Guests"

A friend of mine sent me a wonderful link she ran across on site she posts at. I really enjoyed the little essay written by "Rooman" on this site entitled: "Dear America, We're South Louisiana".

Here are a few quotes:

You probably already know that we talk funny and listen to strange music and eat things you'd probably hire and exterminator to get rid out of your yard.

Often we don't make sense. You may wonder why, for instance - if er could only carry one small bag of belongings with us on our journey to your state - why in God's name did we bring a pair of shrimp boots?

We can't explain that. It is what it is.

You're probably heard that many of us stayed behind. As bad as it is, may cannot fathom a life outside of our border, out in that place called Elsewhere.

The only way you could understand that is if you have been there, and so many of you have. So you realize that when you strip away all the craziness and bars and parades and music and architecture and all that hooey,really, the best thing about where we come from is us.

We are what made this place a national treasure. We're good people. And don't be afraid to ask us how to pronounce our names. It happens all the time.

When you meet us now and you look into our eyes, you will see the saddest story ever told. Our hearts are broken into a thousand pieces.

But, don't pity us. We're gunna make it. We're resilient. After all, we're been rooting for the Saints for 35 years. That's got to count for something.

Read the whole article at the link above. You'll be glad you did. May God Bless our Louisiana brothers and sisters.

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Homeschooling Today in America (2005)

Linda at Christian Home School Teachers' Lounge has tagged me to do a post on homeschooling in America today. The questions of this meme came from a Chinese journalist who is interested in statistics in the United States regarding homeschooling. This is not surprising since I know of someone on one of my homeschool email lists who has already received an offer to go live and work in Korea teaching the people there how to speak English, and how to better educate their kids (including teaching them how to homeschool). Many countries around the globe are looking to the swelling numbers of homeschooling families in America and hoping that we can guide them in their own venture to educate their children at home. What an honor that we have this privilege, and that we can help to show others that homeschooling is a wonderful alternative for those seeking one!

I admit that some of these questions are very factual/statistical type questions in which answers may not vary greatly from blog to blog. I think Linda did well to find the governmental estimates on the numbers of homeschoolers and I agree with all of her responses. She had some wonderful links, as well. I apologize for repeating her in some of my answers.

Here are the questions that were asked by our friends overseas:

1. How many Homeschoolers are there according to the government?

2. How many by your estimate?

3. Why do you see the growth?

4. Is there any age group trend?

5. What is the biggest challenge from a “homeschool expert” perspective?

6. What is the biggest challenge from a parent perspective?

7. Have these perspectives changed over the last three years?

8. Is there any income correlation to the changes?

Here are my answers (please be sure to check Linda’s site for her answers, and also check the next three people I tag for theirs). We’ll see how many interesting answers we get for these important questions.

1. How many Homeschoolers are there according to the government?

According to the National Home Education Research Institute

“There were an estimated 1,700,000 to 2,100,000 children (grades K-12) home educated during 2002-2003 in the United States. Homeschooling appears to still be the fastest-growing form of education.” (this from the fact sheet they link on their website).

2. How many by your estimate?

I would estimate that the number is higher than 2 million. Just in the past two years, three other families in my own family circle (6 children total) have begun to homeschool, or are planning to start soon. That presents a jump from 2 to 8 children in just two years. I suspect that the averages are similar in the state, and even in the country. Many families are not required to register with their state, making tracking very difficult for researchers. In Texas (where we are from), you are NEVER required to register your child with the public education system or government. This means that there is absolutely no way the government can count how many children are homeschooled aside from another Census that specifically asks the question (and not everyone participates in census questionnaires).

I would say probably closer to 2.5 to 3 million in America is where we register on the homeschooling meter (and growing at an amazing rate)! Homeschool laws are different in every American state, so you would have a much better estimate from states where you are required to register than you would in states such as Texas, Alaska, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Idaho, Michigan, Connecticut and New Jersey (also the territories of Guam and Puerto Rico).

3. Why do you see the growth?

The reason for the growth is personal to each individual homeschool family in America. Some are seeking a better education (academics) from schools that are in less affluent areas where they feel their children are not getting enough one-on-one attention. Some families are wary of the social skills they learn in the public arena (drugs, sex, rock-n-roll), and are afraid that their children are not safe at schools where the teacher ratio is so high and teachers are unable to monitor everything that goes on in the halls and before and after school. Some families are seeing that homeschool has worked so well for so many others that it is tempting them away from the ‘norm’. As the first wave of Homeschool Graduates are showing the world that Homeschoolers are really smart and well-adjusted (and colleges are beginning to recruit homeschoolers by the droves), society at large is waking up to see that this 'movement' really has some wonderful benefits. I can’t tell you how many times in my own personal experience that my children have drawn the praise of people in public. Some seem surprised when I tell them that they are homeschooled (those are the ones who probably misunderstood homeschooling and assumed that homeschool children are somehow “missing out”), and more often now, they say things like: “Oh! That’s why your kids have such a great vocabulary!”

Homeschooling is beginning to have a much better reputation in America. This is great, but also causes concern when the government schools are seeing us as a rival. Over the past few years (in larger Texas cities), there have been many schools that have shut down. Children were transferred to other nearby schools. Some of the reasons for this have to do with lack of funding, but then again, you are forced to wonder why they had a lack of funding? In a poor funded school, you would most likely have a higher desire to choose alternative education for your children! I looked at a number of ISD websites in Texas and found closed schools. This was nearly un-heard of when I was growing up as a public school child a few decades ago.

I wrote about the reasons why I chose to homeschool in a previous post linked here.

4. Is there any age group trend?

I really can’t do a better job of answering this question than Linda herself did in her original post. Here’s what she said:

“4. I don’t have official figures on this. I don’t really think there is an age group trend. Some parents do send their child to school when they reach high school age because they feel they can’t teach more advanced subjects adequately. Others, however, begin homeschooling in high school because of the many negative elements they see in the public school which are often more prevalent for this age group (i.e. drugs, gangs, etc.) As homeschooling increases in popularity, there are more and more options available to help parents teach at home. This may facilitate an increasing trend for homeschooling older (high school) students.”

5. What is the biggest challenge from a “homeschool expert” perspective?

Linda wrote about what the biggest challenge to the homeschooling movement is on her post. Here, I am answering this question in a different way. My statement below covers the biggest challenge homeschooling poses for me as the stay-at-home teacher:

I think the biggest challenge in homeschooling is managing to get all the book-work/sit-down work done while life tends to interrupt. I have been selling a home, keeping it clean for realtor interruptions, dealing with massive paperwork, packing and moving… all while trying to plan for the school year and get started by this past week. It has been a monumental challenge to me. I try and remember that even the children in public school have challenges like these. The lady who bought our home was transferring from out of state, and her daughter was transferring high-schools and was not in school for a week or more during their move. Her younger children had not even begun school (middle and elementary). So, I don’t feel so bad that we had a mediocre week compared to last year when we were not as bogged down with life’s distractions. What is amazing to me is that somehow in your busy lives, even when you skip entire days of school because of pressing duties, the children are reading and learning anyway!

Also a challenge, for a lot of folks, is finances. One of the reasons we have had to move around as much as we have, is because my husband is our primary income source. When he is faced with a possible lay-off or loss of income, we must be willing to move wherever he can find a job. This puts stress on our family, but we would rather “follow his paycheck” to wherever that may lead, than quit homeschooling to join the ranks of two-income families. Giving up our second income was a huge sacrifice. As of yet, I have not found anything profitable that I can do in my spare time to bring in extra money. [Too bad I can’t get paid to blog!]

I think most moms would shy away from calling themselves “homeschool experts”. We as moms are learning as much as our children are. Homeschooling, like parenting, is touch and go. Each day is a new experience. I gather up my wisdom one mistake at a time. I try and learn from other moms as well. One of the best ways to increase your skills in homeschooling is to join co-ops, e-mail groups, and church groups that are supportive and have veteran moms there to help and answer questions. There are city-wide, county-wide, and state-wide email lists that you can join. Some are categorized by titles such as “unschoolers”, “classical homeschoolers”, “Christian homeschoolers”, etc. There are many, many different sects within homeschooling. With a little online research, you can find a perfect group for your own needs. Many homeschool curriculums offer their own ‘e-loop’ (email mailing list) as well. Keeping in contact with other moms is a big boost in your confidence and moral.

6. What is the biggest challenge from a parent perspective?

I think my biggest challenge from a parental perspective is just burn-out. Moms/Dads who are home all day (24-7) with their children (even those who are involved in many extra curricular activities outside the home and with their churches/communities) are likely to need time to re-charge. With a limited income, it’s hard to plan get-aways (especially when your spouse can’t take off work, and you are living far from family who could baby-sit). I like to plan weekends for my husband and I to get away so that we can both re-charge without the children a few times each year. We also enjoy taking months off from schooling, either at Christmas time, or in the summer, to let the children have free time without “Teacher” led activities. Even kids need to re-charge their batteries.

7. Have these perspectives changed over the last three years?

I covered the answers to this in Question #3 above.

8. Is there any income correlation to the changes?

“8. Most Homeschoolers come from two parent families where one parent can afford to stay at home and teach the children. While this isn’t always the case, it probably is the norm.”
I agree completely with Linda, in what she says (quoted above), and feel that my family is one on the lower end of the norm for family incomes related to homeschoolers. Many families that I know of are barely able to squeak by financially each month (living paycheck-to-paycheck), and are still making the choice to sacrifice their second income for the educational, physical and spiritual growth of their children. I think that if worse came to worse, and I was forced to go back to work full time to help make ends meet, I would take an evening job, and continue to homeschool my children in the mornings and early afternoons. I also know of many single parent families in which the mothers have continued to homeschool, even after they have divorced.

I am going to Tag Sheri at Shades of Pink, Rich at Isn't it Rich, and Christina at Routon Family Homeschool... check their sites soon for another set of answers!

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September 09, 2005

A Favorite Poem and a Weekend Vacation

I am headed out today to go look at houses and spend the weekend in a hotel with my husband and kiddos. I wanted to check in before we left. I doubt I'll have internet access while I'm away. I don't use a lap-top (really don't like them, for that matter), so I am completely computer-free when I travel. My husband carries a lap-top, but I hate the keyboard, so I rarely use it for any length of time at hotels. I use an ergonomic keyboard... and type pretty fast, so the lap-top just seems to slow me down. I guess if I were to carry a normal keyboard with me to places, I could manage to use a lap-top someday.

I apologize for not getting around to posting the 1st-2nd Grade Homeschool Year stuff... and for not doing the review of The Old Schoolhouse yet. I am going to work on that next week! Be sure to stop in Sunday night to see if I'm back yet! I wanted to leave you with one of my favorite poems. I am sure you homeschooling mothers have already seen it. You can find it on cards at the car wash, on the internet, and in Chicken Soup for the Soul. This one has meant a lot to me through the years I have been a mother. I discovered it when my son was a tiny baby - almost nine years ago.

If I Had My Child to Raise Over Again

If I had my child to raise all over again,
I'd finger-paint more, and point the fingers less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.

I would care to know less and know to care more.
I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.
I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.

I'd do more hugging and less tugging.
I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I would be firm less often, and affirm much more.
I'd teach less about the love of power,
And more about the power of love.

By Diane Loomans

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Planned Parenthood Continues to Exploit Katrina Victims

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 7, 2005

New Orleans, LA ( -- Pro-life advocates say Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion business, continues to exploit victims of Hurricane Katrina. The organization previously said it would provide morning after pills to victims, instead of food or shelter, and is now raising money off of the hurricane for its local abortion centers. On its national web site, Planned Parenthood solicits funds for Hurricane Katrina support efforts. In fine print, the abortion advocacy group explains that all of the money raised will be used to support its local abortion businesses.

My friend Kelly sent me this over email. Highlight emphasis in the article mine. Entire article here.

This is just another example of how Planned Parenthood truly USES people's misfortune to make a profit. They don't care about anything but money.

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September 08, 2005

Great Homeschool Article at TOS

I forwarded this article to my homeschooling friends, and I have gotten quite a few "THANK YOU" notes, saying that it was JUST what they needed to hear at the start of a new school year. To read the article, click the title of this post!


Starving and Forgotten - Rural Mississippi

Where are the spotlights and reporters? Certainly not aiding the rural communities in Mississippi who have been devistated by Katrina. It is a good thing the internet and email are around to tell their story... or they might not have anyone to champion their cause. If you have not donated to help the people of Mississippi, please consider doing so.

Read more about their urgent needs as they wait without food and water behind blocked roads for aid: "Who Will Aid Rural Parts of the State" by Hattiesburg American

And this: "Forgotten People in Miss. Grow Desperate" by the Washington Post

Donate Now: Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Efforts (Read their Front Page. They have already sent trucks to Mississippi)

September 07, 2005

Happy Homeless Car-Schoolers (that's us!)

My keychain is quite a bit lighter tonight. It was hard driving out of town for the last time and allowing the Lord to turn the page on this chapter in our lives. Kevin and I met (both coming from different parts of the state) together at the closing table to sign away our dream home, and we dropped a change of address form off on the way out of town. Parting is sweet sadness, but I am reminding myself constantly of the sweet part: the fact that our home sold the same month the payments would have more than doubled, and the fact that God prevented us from certain bankruptcy. For what is is worth, I'll miss it more than any home we've ever had (including the church home we were a part of) ... and now, it's time to dry the tears and roll our sleeves up for the house search and move ahead.

First Day Frenzy
During this whirlwind of emotion and even while traveling back and forth between cities, we have managed to start school. I was hoping the children would know that it is foremost on my mind, even though I have been very preoccupied lately, as you can imagine. I planned our week out and we have accomplished a lot considering the fact that I've been from one city to another and back in less than 24 hours! Yesterday, our first day of school for 2005-2006, I took them to a "Back To School Breakfast" at IHOP. We ate our French toast and discussed our Konos Unit Theme - "OBEDIENCE". Then, we drove to the local public library in grandma and grandpa's town, and applied for a card. They generously accepted, and helped me check out my mountain of books on "Crime and Punishment". The librarian smirked when I asked if there was a limit to how many books I could check out. Thankfully, there isn't! The kids did their journals while we sat in line at the Car Wash, watching the cars parade before us covered in suds. They wrote about their first day of school. Morgan must have gotten stuck on the conversation we had about punishment, because she wrote:

"When you disobey, do you get a spanking? If you don't watch out, you might get another one! That's what we are learning about."
Does Car-Schooling Count?
In our shiny clean vehicle, we returned home with our books, and discovered via email that the closing company wanted me to arrive in only a few hours and turn the keys over to our house. I was really glad I had packed the overnight bag (just in case). We quickly loaded up and left town in a puff of exhaust, arriving just in time to sign papers. On the long drive, both of the kids finished most of their Math and Language worksheets. We picked up our cat and smuggled her into the hotel my mother got us for the night, also. The buyer was pretty urgent about getting everything done since her daughter started high school yesterday in her new town. So, the Title company requested that my husband drive in to sign papers (even if it meant he took a day off from work). He drove in at around 1:30 AM! We finally went to sleep at 2:30 AM after watching the History Channel's Roman Emperor documentary. Fascinating stuff. The kids were out by midnight, I'm sure (fell asleep watching the History Channel)... and probably have no idea that Daddy gave them those late good-night kisses.

Finding Time for Field Trips
This morning, we managed to squeeze a field trip in while Kev was signing the closing papers. We visited a police department, a 911 operator station, the city jail, and got to learn about the equipment the sergeant was carrying. Like I said, we've gotten a lot of school done, considering! We'll have to finish the books they were reading to me on the way home tonight. Kaden really got a kick out of the "Encyclopedia Brown's Book of Wacky Crimes" by Donald J. Sobol, which he was reading out loud. I think we'll probably start Huckleberry Finn after we get our Bible and Science Reader done tonight. We also have a few Konos activities (mainly discussion/Bible stuff) to do before we call it a night. Boy, I am TIRED, so hopefully that won't take long.

Glad to be Homeless
So, here I sit, back at the in-laws after a few hours on the road. Amazingly, I am thankful that we are homeless for a while. It sure is an answer to prayers we've said for the last eight months. I'm also thankful for my great kids who adapt to life's ups and downs like champions. I'm thankful that my husband is such a great guy, too... and I'm thankful God didn't ever give up on me. No matter what your situation is like, I hope you can find a reason to be thankful for it as well.

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September 05, 2005

29 School Year Resolutions

I've been tagged by Keer...

Ten Questions to Ask at the Start of a New (SCHOOL) Year

I agreed that I'd answer 29... Since I'm staying 29 forever (those of you who are paying attention know that I'm over 30).

1. What's one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?

Be consistent with my prayer journal and Bible reading

2. What's the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?


3. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?

Move back in with my husband permanently (those of you paying attention know that my husband has been commuting for eight months between cities)

4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?

I need help with discipline in general - every type... physical, spiritual, and academic. I think sticking to my guns on question #1 would be the best way to get help in this area.

5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?

The Internet, hands down. I'm going to be moving, unboxing, teaching my two kids, and trying to acclimate to a new city in a short while... so obviously, the Internet will not be as big of a draw.

6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?

I'm in the market for a new church once we move. I want to be more involved wherever we may end up. This past year has been a year of soaking up, and not giving much out... and I want to change that next year.

7. What's the most important way you will, by God's grace, try to make this year different from last year?

Plan ahead.

I've already gotten off to a great start, thanks to God... I planned my general schedule out for the whole school year, and am working on the detailed schedule for the first three months right now.

I am going to pray God gives me the strength to stick to my schedules and accomplish my goals.

9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?

Make sure to have a set prayer time with the children for school to pray for everyone on our prayer list, to set aside time each day to pray alone, and to be a part of a prayer group at church with other women. I already improved over last year because of the prayer journal I added last year. It has been great to look back over the pages and see how God has answered the prayers.

10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in ten years? In eternity?

Teach my children the Bible and to Pray.

11. What's the most important decision you need to make this year?

We need to pick a new church home to serve in.

12. What area of your life most needs simplifying, and what's one way you could simplify in that area?

Record keeping, paper filing, storing the children's school-work.

I am going back to a paper system this year (I used the computer mostly for records, report cards, and grading last year). I tend to do better on paper. I am also going to do a weekly purge on their school work - and make a portfolio that is hole punched by subject so they can HELP with the filing!

13. What's the most important need you feel burdened to meet this year?

I want to read the Bible all the way through again (I have a different version this year - the NKJ), I want to get moved into a new house and unpack (and give things away that we don't need), and I want to get involved in a new church family. I also feel that my children really need to be in more extra curricular activities, so we plan to get involved in groups that meet their scholastic, physical, and social needs where we move. And we are working towards getting completely out of debt.

14. What habit would you most like to establish this year?

A better school routine, eating at home all week instead of eating out, and getting more involved in our church (all while limiting my time on the internet!).

15. Who do you most want to encourage this year?

My husband, My children, My mom, My dad

16. What is your most important financial goal this year, and what is the most important step you can take toward achieving it?

Eliminating debt at all cost. Getting a savings account going.

17. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your work life this year?

Implement my plans for the school year and finish all the units we planned to finish with a BANG (instead of letting them fizzle out).

18. What's one new way you could be a blessing to your pastor (or to another who ministers to you) this year?

Pray for him. Be a friend to his wife.

19. What's one thing you could do this year to enrich the spiritual legacy you will leave to your children and grandchildren?

Include Bible study in our school units, do Bible memory, and serve in my church as a good example for my children.

20. What book, in addition to the Bible, do you most want to read this year?

There are too many to pick from. I have a wish list, but it is spread out in my email box in different emails I have saved. Here is a short list of a few of the top books on my wish list:

  • Anything by the Vision Forum
  • How to Homeschool, by Gayle Graham
  • Homeschooling with a Meek & Quiet Spirit by Teri Maxwell
  • Yada Yada Prayer Group by Neta Jackson
  • And the Shofar Blew by Francine Rivers
  • Suncatchers by Jamie Langston Turner
  • The Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall
  • Original Intent by David Barton
  • Created to be His Helpmeet by Debi Pearl
  • Hank the Cowdog Book on Tape Series for the Kids
  • Discover Your Children's Gifts: A Parent's Handbook to Recognize and Develop Your Children's God-given Gifts by Don and Katie Fortune
  • Beautiful Girlhood Collection
  • Daughters of Destiny by Noelle Goforth
  • The Basket of Flowers (A Tale of Devotion) by Christoph Von Schmid
  • Home-Making by J.R. Miller
  • The Sinking of the Titanic and Great Sea Disasters (Training sons to put "Women and Children First") by Marshall Logan
  • G. A. Henty Historical Adventures Series
  • Jesus Freaks - DC Talk
  • The Devil Speaks Latin (not sure of the author, and I can't seem to find it right now since our move)
  • Mere Christianity - C.S. Lewis
  • The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman
  • The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman
  • Sex and the Supremacy of Christ by John Piper and Justin Taylor
I keep an ongoing list (and a bunch on my bookshelves at home that were packed away until we find a house!) ... plus all of the books we have for each of our school units this year. We tend to check out on average of 20-40 books every two weeks at the library, and we read a thick classic or chapter book for each unit (every 2-4 weeks).

21. What one thing do you most regret about last year, and what will you do about it this year?

Not getting enough of our Konos Volume 1 accomplished, letting Units die a slow whimpering death (rather than doing wrap-ups, parties and field trips to engrain them in memory forever), having to move away from our church, friends and house.

This year, I am planning more (and better), and I am praying God helps me to implement my plans and accomplish them... we are also planning to incorporate more wrap-ups, field trips and parties this year in our schooling... and we are hoping to make new friends, find a new home church family, and make the most of living in a new city this year.

22. What single blessing from God do you want to seek most earnestly this year?

I want God to help me to be more disciplined, focused, simplified, calm, and efficient (and less easily distracted).

23. In what area of your life do you most need growth, and what will you do about it this year?

Prayer, Bible study, Serving at church, Making new friends, and Accomplishing our school-year's goals

24. What's the most important trip you want to take this year?

I would like to save up and actually take a family vacation this year... and possibly a romantic weekend getaway with just my husband. And if we decide it isn't wise to spend the money on trips, I just want to make the most of our move to a new city and get acclimated.

25. What skill do you most want to learn or improve this year?

Implementing Plans (without distraction) - Accomplishing all we set out to get done,...

oh... and Meal Planning consistently!

26. To what need or ministry will you try to give an unprecedented amount this year?

The Victims of Katrina (in addition to our regular ministries we support: Our Church, ICC, EEM, Christian Aid, ACLJ, AFA, Compassion International, Angel Tree, and Feed the Children)

27. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your commute this year?

Get dressed to my shoes (as Fly Lady says)... and have my hair and face done so I'm not taken by surprise when someone rings the door-bell, and I'm ready to walk out the door if we decide to go somewhere. I am also planning to get up reeeeally early and take my husband to work (who has to be there by 6:30am). This is going to be a rough year!

28. What one biblical doctrine do you most want to understand better this year, and what will you do about it?

I kind of think of the entire gospel message (and the entire Bible, really) as a single doctrine. This question is kind of strange. I think the doctrine (ie: teaching) that I could probably improve the most in my life is OBEDIENCE (without delay, without attitude, without doubt, and without complaint). I already understand that it is necessary, and why.

29. If those who know you best gave you one piece of advice, what would they say? Would they be right? What will you do about it?

I asked my husband, and this is what he said (after a few minutes of deep thought), "Eliminate distractions". He's certainly right.

I need to focus first on my family, spend more time with the kids just playing, get school completed and keep on track with our schedule, and spend less time chasing rabbit trails and on the computer (blogging/email, whatever). Great advice.

TAG! You're IT!:
Spunky, Amy, and Gooblink.

(Copyright © 2003 Donald S. Whitney)


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