Monday Reading, The Squirrel Has Left The Building Edition...


It's been A DAY.

And by that, I mean that I feel as though I have been hit by a Mack truck which then backed up a good ways and hit me again. And again. And again.

Why is it on the nights that I am guaranteed only six hours of sleep at most, that those are the nights when my children MUST have nightmares and/or ten thousand pee breaks... ALL NIGHT LONG??

In case you're wondering, last night was one of those nights.

Then I got to drive through pouring rain the likes of which I've rarely seen (and that's saying something for this Florida girl, because it rains cats and dogs down there ALL THE TIME) to be a half an hour late to my FOUR HOUR LONG DOCTOR'S APPOINTMENT. I love the allergist's office. Yay.

They poked me with red-hot metal pokers for a good long while, roasted me over a spit, pronounced me done, and let me go with a swollen and inflamed arm or two and the happy news that I'm only allergic to pretty much everything in the outside world.

The good news is that I'll get my own custom bubble delivered here pretty soon.

And I'm not allowed to vacuum anymore. I even have a doctor's note that literally says, "Do not vacuum. Have someone else vacuum for you." It's awesome. There's always a silver lining, right?

So after all that fun and excitement I went to grab some food and shove it down like a starving baby chick sucking down regurgitated worms (seriously, I hardly even remember how it tasted)... After which I headed back to my car to discover... A parking ticket! Double yay.

Wait... What??? The last time I parked in that lot (maybe a month ago?) it wasn't a pay-to-park lot. What the heck?!?!?

Then, the icing on the cake.

On the way to pick up the girls (again, in the everlasting RAIN)... The long-awaited day has come. I hit a squirrel.

I've been waiting for it to happen ever since I was in Oregon some time ago and wrote this post.

As soon as I saw him, beady little eyes and fuzzy little tail, I knew it was too late. I think he knew it too. And you know that stomach-jarring lurch that cars make when they hit potholes? Yeah... The back tires did that lurch-y thing. And my stomach with it. Especially my stomach.

And to make matters worse, he was still... *Whisper* Alive. Commence with the squeaking and squealing and crying and all sorts of guilt-ridden whimpering. OH, THE GUILT.

I would've gone all Dr. Kavorkian on him, but I simply couldn't bear the thought of it.

Fortunately for me, my dear friend, the irrepressible mistress of all things Mother Earth (at least mostly), Olivia had this piece of encouraging advice for me: "Oh, don't worry, Kristen, something will come along to eat him soon enough and he'll be put out of his misery."

Um, love you O, but that's not quite as cheering as you might imagine.

When she saw my look, she changed it to, "Oh, don't worry Kristen, you severed his spinal cord and he DIDN'T FEEL A THING."

Um, yeah. Still not all that cheery, but better.

So... Yeah.

It's been A DAY.

Fortunately, it has been saved by a couple of things:

a) I managed to convince the parking ticket manager that after today's experiences I REALLY DON'T NEED A PARKING TICKET AFTER ALL. Maybe he'll take a flattened squirrel as payment? Although I personally think the mental trauma should be enough.

b) Olivia and I had a very entertaining conversation about old people in thongs after the squirrel conversation. It still has me chuckling. Remind me to share the story of my first-ever experience on South Beach sometime.

c) I got to eat a whole meal by myself while reading A BOOK. That's gotta belong in some sort of world record book or something.

d) I managed to get dinner going in the crockpot BEFORE leaving the house at oh-dark-thirty this morning, so there was little to do other than watch the Daddy rock the gravy and make some rice. Score!

Anyway, this post isn't supposed to be a chronicle of my very-nearly-epically-woebegone day. It's SUPPOSED to be about all the reading I want to share. So here you go!


Last week's adventures rather derailed my book reading, to say the least, so I am nearly in the same place that I was Monday prior, however, I will do an update. Also, I think beginning in the next week or two I am going to start reviewing books that I am *not* currently reading, but have read in the past. There have been a lot of awesome (and some not-so-awesome) reads in the last couple of years that are TOTALLY worth sharing. 

I am still working my way through Beatrix Potter: A Life In Nature. Still enjoying it. Still making connections to Charlotte Mason. And still finding it chuckle-worthy often enough to keep me coming back for more. 

Something I haven't mentioned before is that this is, without a doubt, the longest non-fiction book I have attempted to read to date, and I will feel it will be quite the accomplishment when I finish it. I am also considering simply purchasing it rather than hijacking it from the library any longer. I like it enough to feel that it would be a good addition to hour home library. 

I also picked up another young adult fiction book to preview with KayKay in mind, The Scarlet Stockings by Charlotte Kandel. 

The book is about a young orphan girl who is given a mysterious riddle and a pair of magical scarlet stockings. Set around the turn of the Twentieth Century, Daphne's greatest desire is to be a ballet dancer, and through several fortuitous events and a little magic, she is able to become one. However, there are also dark forces at work in the stockings, and Daphne allows herself to make some very unhealthy choices in order to get what she wants. In the process, though, she hurts her adopted family, her closest friends, her fellow dancers, and perhaps worst of all, herself. 

The cons first: The writing is a bit under grade-level for the age range I would recommend this book for; there are a couple of scenes where name-calling is found (understandable, given the circumstances, but rather unnecessary); there are some serious backstabbing/envy/jealousy issues in not only Daphne's life, but particularly in another major character's life; there is the whole "magic" thing - although that aspect is almost a neutral for me; and then there is a scene where Daphne goes behind her adoptive parents' backs to do something that she knows she's not supposed to do... And then manages to get things to work out in her favor after getting caught. Ehhhh, THAT really bothers me, but in the author's defense, she does highlight the fact that Daphne is lying and knows that it's wrong. 

The pros: It's well-written for the most part; the story flows; the characters are well-developed for such a small book; when wrong-doing occurs it is emphasized as WRONG; the riddle piece is very nicely woven into the story without it feeling forced, or worse, too difficult to decipher; Daphne's adoptive family show her support, love and caring throughout, even when she disappoints them; Daphne learns her lesson, albeit the hard way. 

The verdict: Again, I like this book. A lot. And again, I don't know that I will have KayKay read it, at least, certainly NOT YET. There is no doubt that it is firmly entrenched in the "YA" category - I originally had the impression it would be for a younger crowd because of the simplicity of the writing, but the themes are far too mature for KayKay to handle at this point. I would recommend this book for ages 12-14, because of the themes, but the writing is suitable for an eight-year-old, certainly. In fact, the writing style might be a turn-off to some older kids (especially if they are advanced readers), but for an older girl who perhaps loves dancing and is at typical reading level or a struggling reader, this may be a good choice.  So if you have a very mature younger child or an older child who would appreciate the subject matter, and don't find any of the above-mentioned cons worrisome, it's a good read. 

That's it for this week's books. Hopefully next week will have a bit more substance (and much less drama!). On to links...


In Search Of: SouleMama. Loving SouleMama's post today. Love the inspiration that comes with all her lovely photos! 

Treating Motherhood As A Job: To Love, Honor, And Vacuum. I don't read Sheila's blog all the time, and I don't always agree with what she writes, but man, in this post, she totally took me down for the count. She's COMPLETELY RIGHT, and as stupid (or simply naive and uncreative) as this may sound, I've never thought of motherhood in *quite* this way before. And yikes, I'm completely convicted about my total goof-off behaviour. 

Thank You, Google, You Rock: Chalk In My Pocket. I discovered this link through The Artful Parent, whose posts I like, but tend to be more geared toward toddlers and babies, and I'm kinda been-there-done-that-have-older-kids... But anyway, this post is truly AWESOME. It's basically an outline of Google's Art Project, which takes viewers into museums around the world and gives them virtual tours. How cool is that?!?!? Think of the art-inspired homeschool possibilities... AHHHHH!!! Creativity overload! 

Attack Of The 50-Foot Woman: Life Just Keeps Getting Weirder. Love this post about Whole Foods. It's hilarious. And a bit snarky. And yeah. Just go read it. 

Four Common Obstacles To Completing Chores: Unclutterer. I can actually sum this up in one word:
P-R-O-C-R-A-S-T-I-N-A-T-I-O-N, but whatever. It's still a good read. 

The Art of Embracing You: Gathering Spriggs. Oh, Heather, I love this post. It spoke to me, particularly after this last week. Beautiful!

Bookshelf: Planted By Streams. I really like the format of this post. Much like mine, except more picture-y. And less link-y (NOT to be confused with the blog-speak term "linky"). Hmmmm. *Note To Self* Perhaps more pictures are more betterer? 

Orthodox Homeschooling Series: Evlogia. See, I knew I liked Katherine! Yet another Charlotte Mason devotee - with six kids to boot - this is a good read! And inspiring for those like me, who are STILL struggling. 

Homeschooling Carnival, The NaNoWriMo Edition: Janice Campbell. I haven't had a chance to look at many of these links, but this looks fantastic. And also, who doesn't love the title of this post, seriously?!?! 

What You Need From Your Local Yard Sales: TeachMama. While a lot of things on this list are geared toward kids younger than mine, this is a great post for ideas! She lists lots of things I wouldn't normally think of purchasing (or looking for, for that matter!) at a yard sale. 

About 1775: Angry Chicken. Oh, I am somewhat-rather-almost-very envious of her mad sewing skills. And how she uses them to tie-in to homeschooling stuff. Utterly inspiring. 

And speaking of inspiring... A post with that selfsame word in the title!

Inspired By The Blossoms: Centsational Girl. If you've never seen this site, it's a mecca for do-it-yourselfers. She does some amazing refinishing work... And has tons of easy tips for projects. So fun! And this post is an easy and fun little project that would be fun to do with or without children involved. 

Resources For Raising A Challenging Child: Living Power. I have TWO amazing, wonderful, challenging children. Sometimes one more than the other. But anyway. I know that there are lots of other mommies out there just like me in this. This list is not extensive, but it does have some fantastic books on it. Enjoy. 

Is God Safe? : Inspired To Action. This post hit me hard, in light of everything that surrounded the Ladybug's surgery last week. I am still challenged by that. This is a good post to do so. 

And last, but definitely NOT least... 

Kids Uncensored: Single Dad Laughing. This post is hysterical. I was giggling the whole time I read it. Please, go here, read it, laugh and be happy. Kids are awesome. Especially when they say unexpected (and often inappropriate or just plain silly) things! 

Right Now

As an update to yesterday's post: 

The Ladybug is doing GREAT. Her surgery was shorter than average (they told me an hour, it was only  forty-five minutes!), her time in recovery was MUCH shorter than it was supposed to be - she was doing so well that they discharged her less than an hour after the procedure, and today she is bouncing around like nothing happened. 

The doctor doesn't even want to do a follow-up visit, and she hasn't complained about her arm hurting even ONCE. 

God showed up. Over and over and over. 

So today, I am going to do something a little different. 


As I mentioned on Monday, I have officially decided that I am going to do my own version of Amanda Soule's posts on SouleMama.

So... Here goes!

Right now, I am...

Reminiscing ... About my Grandmother's life and who she was before Alzheimer's. My babies when they actually WERE babies.

Feeling ... Contented.  So very thankful. I am blessed.

Reading ... Still working my way through Beatrix Potter: A Life In Nature, The Scarlet Stockings, and loving this post on BeeMusing.

Marveling ... At what perspective a new day can bring!

Finishing ... My coffee...  And the last bits of getting ready for a birthday party today!

Wondering ... Why it's so hard sometimes to appreciate moments until after they're gone.

Dreaming ... Of sunshine and playrooms and gardens and chickens and a homeschool room. Of the day when little girls can run and play outside to their hearts content in OUR OWN outdoor space.

Listening ... To little girl conversation. And Honey I Shrunk The Kids. Which is an interesting combination, to say the least.

Hoping ... Just hoping. Always hoping.

Thinking ... About my lovely breakfast with dearest girlfriends this morning. Feeling loved! Girl time is awesome.

Praying ... Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven...

Desiring ... More joy, more peace, more life!

Learning ... About homeschooling, my girls - the young women they are becoming, the Daddy and who he really is, love, sacrifice, faith... So many, many things.

Breathing ... The softness of little girl hair, my new body spray (YUM, Brown Sugar & Fig... Delightful! Thank you, Miss Gretchen Ann.), the joy of life complete.  

What To Do When The Momma Is Scared: Pray. Cry. Let Go. Laugh.

We've had a week, let me tell you.

Three majorly long doctor's appointments and an unexpected surgery. Ack.

So I guess I should tell the whole story.

About four months ago, the Ladybug got this little bump on her arm that looked like a bug bite. But it didn't go away. We messed with it a little, and realized that no, it wasn't a bug bite, but instead was "some kind of wart." Left it, figuring it would go away.

It didn't.

In fact, it grew.

Put some wart stuff on it... Nothing.

Grew some more.

Finally, when the Daddy declared that it was emerging as a sentient being from her arm a la Total Recall, I decided it was time to take her to the doctor and have them freeze the darn thing off. Yay.

So after spending the day at doctor's offices ALL DAY on Monday, guess what we did on Tuesday? Yep, you guessed it... We went to the pediatric dermatologist to see about the Ladybug's wart.

The nurse came in, looked at it, and said, "Um, I don't think this is a wart. I'm not sure what it is. I'm going to go get the doctor." She wasn't all that worried, though, so I didn't think much of it.

Cue waiting around for A G E S. Like an hour, seriously. I had to go beg some teddy grahams (can you say, NASTY??) and juice off the nurse because we'd managed to miss lunch during that time.

Doctor finally comes in and says, "Nope, it's not a wart. And the good news is, it has be surgically removed." Oh, joy.

It's nothing big, from what I understand, just a benign growth that will keep growing unless it's removed. Looks like this:

Note: This is not my child's arm. It's a google search photo.
No big deal, right? They give her a local, cut it off, and voila! She's fine.

Except that's not what happened. Before I could blink, we'd seen the surgeon, who agreed with the assessment, and had scheduled the surgery for yesterday morning at 8:30... Which also happened to be my birthday. Happy birthday to me. Yay! 

And then they tell me, "Oh, she has to be under general anesthesia. It's routine."

Except that anesthesia is not a happy medium in my world. Don't get me wrong, it's awesome to go to sleep and not feel anything. What's not awesome is having a bad reaction to it when you wake up, or waking up during the middle of the procedure with full feeling. Which has happened to me and several immediate family members. Half the time we're great with anesthesia, the other half... Ugh. 

Add that in to the horrible, awful recurrent nightmares I've had since before the Ladybug was born about something happening to her (or her sister, or both of them), season it with the fact that she has never had more than a cold, then mix it all up with the knowledge that it is infinitely easier to overdose a child on anesthesia than it is an adult, and you have a nervous-to-borderline-hysterical Momma with seriously irrational fears.

Terrified is a good word. I was completely and utterly terror-stricken. 

The rational, logical part of my brain completely understands that this is a very minor procedure. She is exceptionally healthy. There was and is nothing to indicate that it is anything more than a quick, easy, and relatively painless thing. 

And I was fine with it, at first. 

But Wednesday morning came, and BAM! Everything I'd ever feared about my children was staring me right in the face. I had absolutely no control over this situation. I had to place my faith elsewhere, because there was *nothing* I could do. 

There is a part of parenting that lives in fear. Hear me out here - it is not that, as parents, we live our lives controlled by fear for our children (although there are some - dare I say, many - who do live that way), but that as a parent, we are constantly and unrelentingly barraged by ALL THE POSSIBILITIES. Most of which are not happy or fun. Constantly presented by our vividly creative minds with all the fearful, freak-accident fears. It is a daily battle of the mind to CHOOSE to move outside of those fears and in faith, in trust, in some semblance of normalcy, in God... In His infinitely more creative love for our children's health and well-being. 

And most of the time, I do pretty good in this battle. 

But sometimes, especially after a nightmare (the effects of which sometimes linger for weeks), I don't do so well. Guess who had a nightmare two weeks ago? Yep. 

So my brain's all like, WHOA. Rational, logical thought goes right out the window.

I was nearly ready for a drug-induced coma come Wednesday night. 

This was a battle, all right. And not one I thought I was prepared for.  

Then to top it all off, Wednesday night, after a day of hidden tears and fervent prayers and FINALLY starting to feel better... Yeah. Both the Ladybug AND KayKay had nightmares all night. 

And by nightmares, I'm talking about the kind where you're woken up by blood-curdling screams that don't quiet right away. 

Even if you don't believe spiritual forces, you have to admit that SOMETHING was going on. I don't think they were picking anything up from me, either, because I am able to hide how I feel pretty well. And they had both had a happy Wednesday for all intents and purposes. 

By the time Thursday morning dawned, I was a wreck. I felt like I'd had about five minutes of sleep, although it was closer to three hours. 

But I had come to a firm decision in all the tossing and turning and praying and screaming: this fear did not control me, it was not of God, and I was going to TRUST that He loves my baby more than I do. 

I had to surrender. I HAD to let her go.

So I did. 

It wasn't fun. 

Thursday morning finally dawned after a *most* miserable night, and I bundled my baby up, and we all went to the car, and she and I got dropped at the hospital while the Daddy took KayKay to get some breakfast (no kids allowed in the prep area, so it was just easier that way). 

By the time we got checked in, I was at peace. Not perfectly so, but FAR better than even an hour before. 

And God was faithful. He showed up. 

Instead of one anesthesiologist, the Ladybug had THREE. Two residents AND the chief anesthesiologist was in the room with her. It was like God said, "Hey! You! Weak, fearful woman! I love your little girl WAAAAAAAAAAY more than you even thought you could. See?!?!"

And then, right before the surgery, they gave the Ladybug some anti-anxiety meds so she wouldn't feel anxious when they took her to the back. 

I had no idea that when they said "Anti-anxiety" what they REALLY meant was "Total out-of-your-mind drug trip." 

I've never witnessed anything like it. 

About five minutes into it, she hunched over, and started humming (or groaning, depending on your perspective) to her stuffed hippo.  When I asked her what she was doing, she looked up at me, flopped backward onto her pillow, and started giggling. Totally vacant. The lights were on, but nobody was home. Except a serious case of the giggles. 

She just laid there for at least five minutes doing nothing but giggling. Eyes closed, just laying back, happy as a clam. 

Happier, actually. 

Then she opened her eyes and drunkenly waved her hand in front of her face and said, "Just SNAP! out of it! Just snap out of it!" Over and over. Giggling the whole time. She knew something was going on, but she couldn't stop laughing long enough to try to figure it out. 

And all I could do was watch her and laugh. We spent the last half an hour before she went into surgery laughing and giggling and smiling together. Happy. 

For as long as I live, I'll never forget her half-baked giggling in that hospital room. It was awesome. And one of the funniest things I've ever witnessed. 

God showed up. 

He snapped His fingers, and said, "Just SNAP! out of it!"

And I did. 

Monday Reading, The Oh, Look, It's Monday! Edition

As I posted on Facebook earlier, I COMPLETELY FORGOT that it was Monday today. It's been a bit of a hectic crazy day (and YAY, the rest of the week looks like it's going to follow suit), and it simply didn't occur to me that I had something else to do today until about 4:00 this afternoon.


So this is the "Monday Reading, WHOOPS." version. Which basically means, you get a bunch of info and little of my entertaining dialogue in-between. You're thrilled, aren't you? It's okay, you can admit it. I promise I won't cry or get my feelings hurt... Much.

I do have a quick couple of things to share though, before moving on to the "reading" portion of today's post.

First things first - in big news for us, I took the Ladybug Saturday to get her ears pierced. Five years old was when her sister decided she wanted her ears pierced, so I told the Ladybug that if she wanted to have earrings, that she would have to wait until she was five. And then I put it off for as long as possible. Which wasn't as long as I had wanted. *Sigh*

But while we were in Florida, we went to the Jewelry Exchange (which, as an aside, I must say - if you are ever in South Florida, and you love jewelry, you simply MUST go. It is mind-bogglingly amazing. On one of our more recent trips, I tried on a diamond-encrusted bangle bracelet that listed for a cool one-hundred-and-twenty-five thousand dollars. It was awesome. Totally gaudy and I never would have worn it, but fun to try on for sure! But anyway...) and I specifically took the Ladybug there to pick out her first "real" earrings.

We have friends who have a booth there, and after looking AT LEAST a hundred-and-fifty pairs of earrings, she finally picked a pair of white sapphires in yellow gold that look like diamond flowers. She loves them, however, she was bitterly disappointed that I wouldn't get her the half-carat-each diamond studs in the case, (literally) sobbing that she needed "BIG EAWWINGS." Good taste she has, at least in jewelry (clothes... are another matter entirely).

But so sorry, kiddo. When you can't even pronounce the word earring right, you sure ain't gonna get a pair of huge honkin' diamond studs. And we won't even go into the fact that Mommy doesn't have a pair of those either.

But I digress. So we went and got her real earrings in anticipation of the upcoming piercing. And then I managed to put it off for about a month because... Well, to be perfectly honest, *I* wasn't ready. But we went on Saturday.

I asked her, "Are you SURE?" and always it was a resounding, "YES!!!" So off to Claire's we went. The girls there were very nice, and the Ladybug was perfectly still for the entire process. She picked her "beginner" earrings (she can't wear the special ones from the Jeweler's Exchange until these have been in for several weeks), and did great. I could tell she was very excited.

Since it is very important to me to tell my girls the truth about pain, so I told her explicitly that it would hurt, although not as bad as some other things she's already been through, but I still think she wasn't quite prepared. When the guns went off, her eyes got as big as dinner plates and immediately welled with a thousand tears. But they only lasted for about a minute-and-a-half, because as soon as she saw her newly sparkling earrings in the mirror, she was happy as a clam and ready for Phase II of her earring experience, which was - as titled by Mommy - "Do And Buy Lots of Fun Things For Being Brave". (I have her sister to thank for this because KayKay had the princess ear-piercing experience including a toy, ice cream AND a trip on the Santa train. And has since talked it up EVERY SINGLE TIME ANYONE BRINGS UP THE TOPIC OF EARRINGS. So yeah.)

She picked out two headbands, a Hello Kitty whistle, and a stuffed pug. She decided to forgo the ice cream in favor of the stuffed pug dog. Which basically meant that she really, REALLY wanted the pug dog. And that she figured we'd get ice cream again soon (which may or may not happen). Then she promptly named the pug dog Mosey, "Or Moses. I like the name Moses. But she's a girl," and made me put hairbows on her. Well then.

But... *Sob* My baby's not a baby any more. She's officially transitioned, earrings, pull-ups, lisp and all, into little-girl-hood. And my heart breaks.

I miss four-years-old already, and she's only been five a month. Don't get me wrong, I'm loving five. Five was great with KayKay, too. It's such a fun age. It really, truly is. But when KayKay was five, I had a baby, so I had the best of both - little-girl-hood and babyhood. Now... I often feel as though I've already hit the drama of "pre-teen," complete with angst, and there is no more babyhood - or even toddlerhood - to reach back into.

Now, it's just all little girls. I love little girls.

So that's that. Now on to reading.


So, since last weeks post, I've blazed through a couple of kids books. I enjoyed them, however they're not all appropriate for KayKay. So I'll dive right into the how's and why's of all that. 

I finished Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner pretty early in the week last week. Love this book. It just... Flowed. I love the moral of the story - that you can be more than you think you are, if ONLY you try. And that failure is not something to be afraid of (but that one could just be my interpretation). 

There are a few knit-picky little things that I don't care for, but overall, it's a resounding YES. One of the things is that *most* (but not all) of the adults in the book show such little common sense, even when their lives are in danger. The other is that there is no deep - or rather, reasonable - explanation for how the museum came to be. But that's about all I found truly objectionable. There are two scenes of particular violence toward the end of the book, which may not sit well with some parents or readers, but I did not find them to be any more disturbing than a couple of the movies we've watched. The bad guy in the book is REALLY BAD, though - not that he does so many bad things, just the WAY in which he acts. 

But yes, it is great. It is interesting, the characters work well with one another, the main character is creative and thoughtful, and in fact, moves the opposite of young adult books, in that: she, unlike many characters in children's books is taught and learns to slow down and think before acting. I love, love, LOVE that. Rather than jumping into foolhardy behavior and then not having to deal with the consequences of her actions, the opposite is true. In fact, I think I may let KayKay read this one sooner rather than later... But definitely not before she turns nine. I think she will love it.  

I also blazed through Edison's Gold, by Geoff Watson. I liked this book. A lot. But I won't be letting KayKay read it. It read like a movie script in many ways - which I totally don't like - and although it was fast-paced and had a lot of puzzles (which I very much liked), there were way too many pop-culture references for my taste (which will completely date this book in ten or twenty years), and little to the puzzles was left to the reader - it was all set up and sort of waiting for the reader to catch up. I also REALLY didn't like how the kids - often - went behind their parents' backs in order to solve the mystery. So no. It was a fun little read, and maybe when she's fifteen and completely outgrown it will I decide to recommend it, but not right now.

Then I've picked back up where I left off in Beatrix Potter, A Life in Nature. Still thoroughly enjoying it. And loving taking it out with me so that it makes me look smart. Ha! I discovered an interesting parallel in reading it, as well, which has made me appreciate it even more, and not for simply the pleasure of reading it, but for what it can teach.  That parallel is this - although I make no claims to be a student of the Charlotte Mason philosophy for homeschooling, I will say that I am at least somewhat familiar with her methods, one of which is about placing a child in the natural environment... And this book about Beatrix Potter espouses and reaffirms those methods in (to me!) surprising and interesting ways. And has given me ideas about how to go about fostering a love of the outdoors in my own children.

More on that to come... But now, it's off to links, and then off to bed for me!


Playdates, Trampoline: The Well Spring. Oh my goodness, do I love this. So poetic. So beautiful. Such an invitation to be with God

How To Find the Holy Grail of Joy: The Huffington Post. A guest-post by the ever-amazing Ann Voskamp. What a rich, powerful read. Enjoy and be blessed by its truth! 

Rebooting Home(Schooling): Living, Learning and Loving Simply. This is a fantastic post that I found through my friend Sherry about how to move past the doldrums of homeschooling. Definitely a necessary read. 

Why You're Not Married: The Huffington Post. This was very funny, and very insightful, even for me, happily married Mommy. Made me think about some of my (current!!) behaviors that perhaps make the Daddy feel less than loving toward me. Hmmmm. 

Introducing Project Simplify: SimpleMom. Ooooooh, I may have to take the challenge! Can I do it, collect-o-holic that I am???? I'm both terrified and enthusiastic. 

When Good Enough Is Good Enough: Productivity Your Way. Great post for all the perfectionists out there. Like me. 

For Better And For Worse: Half-Pint House. Love this post. Love her perspective. We're living Pink Panther for sure. Or perhaps, we're living Swiss Family Robinson, and I'd more envisioned The Sound of Music. But whatever. You get it, right? 

Okay, that's all for now. I have more, but it's bedtime. G'night, friends! 

Some Days

Some days (like today) I feel like a failure.

Some days, I wonder why I even bother.

This is not an "in general" feeling. In fact, it's pretty specific.

As a parent of an emotional, high-energy, dare-I-say gifted child, I am challenged. Daily, at the very least. Generally hourly.

Today, it has been minute-by-minute. For three hours. That's one-hundred-and-eighty minutes for all you mathy people.

I want to do EXACTLY what she does, and throw myself on the floor sobbing.

And I feel like a failure.

I question: Where did I go wrong? Why am I the only one that is allowed to see this side of her? Why did I bother thinking that I *could* not only parent her, but school her, teach her, as well?

The Daddy has asked why we can never seem to make it outside until late in the day, if at all - and generally I'm too exhausted to explain. Three hours of screaming, kicking, throwing things, tearing things will do that to you.

And it happens at least once a week. Sometimes every day for weeks. Except when the Daddy is home. Of course.

Homeschooling wasn't the beginning, believe me. It has been years of this. Homeschooling has simply brought it into a much sharper focus because now I don't get a break - there is no preschool, kindergarten, anything, to send her off to.

I'm exhausted. I want to run away, give my children to someone else, and say, "HERE, they're yours, because I can't do it anymore and SURELY SOMEONE ELSE can do a better job than I can."

And so I must wrestle. I must fight. This is as much about me as it is her. I can't give in simply because it's easier. God Himself has entrusted me with this child, and I must honor His will, His gift, by giving her the very best of me.

Even when it has been one-hundred-and-eighty minutes. Because when I snap, on minute one-hundred-and-eighty-one - which I have, OH SO MANY TIMES - then I am not honoring any of us, let alone Him, He Who is the Creator of the Universe. And we have to start all over.

Because my rough places are just as rough as hers. Because I have just as much to learn.

So I question: Who am I, that You, oh God, would entrust me with such a job? What do You have for me that only my child, my precious girl, can teach me? What would You desire of me that I should emulate and teach both my girls? About life? About holiness? About YOU?

So I plead: Help me, oh Lord. Teach me, oh Lord. Grant me patience. Let Your love shine through.

And then, just as suddenly as it started, the storm is over.

The sun is still shining outside. It never stopped. I just stopped looking for a little while, because the tears threatened to overwhelm me.

There is peace. I am ready for whatever the next minute holds. And we may make it outside after all.

Monday Reading, The LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE Edition

Good Monday.

And happy Valentine's Day. Whoooooo. Here, let me shove some hearts, confetti, more hearts, lame cardboard valentines with Scooby Doo - or, even better, Disney Princesses - on them, and more hearts at you. Blah, blah, blah. Do you feel all fluttery inside now?

I know, I know, I'm so romantic.

Actually, I am *very* romantic. You should see my house. The Daddy teases me that it looks like a Victoria Magazine threw up all over it... He teases, but he's nearly right. It's very girlie. And romantic.

I'm one of those who grew up daydreaming about castles and princesses and knights and being served breakfast in bed every day and, of course, bouquets of fresh roses adorning every corner. Of moonlit walks on the beach and weekends whisked away to exotically named places. Of candles and champagne EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT.

And then I married the Daddy. Who is also *very* romantic, but tends much more toward the practical and thoughtful than I ever have. He has redefined my idea of romance. Of what love means. Of what it means to celebrate our love. And I love him the more for it.

So I'm rather over Valentine's Day as a holiday. The Daddy and I haven't really celebrated the day, such that it is, in years... But I would say that it is mostly because my birthday is just around the corner, and it's MUCH easier to do something awesome then, a week - or twelve - later, than to overpay for roses, candles, champagne and food because American society dictates, "It must be so and verily on this, the 14th day of February."

This year, my Valentine's Day present was to go to the Antiques & Garden Show. ALONE. Like an adult. One that does adult things. Nary a cartoon character, singing mouse product, or whining child in sight. *Sigh* Having the Daddy watch the girls for a full five hours while I got to roam and linger, and ooh and ahhh to my heart's content was seriously romantic in my book. *Swoon*

And oh, boy, did I EVER have fun.

But that's not what this post is about. And besides, what's the use in me talking about all the fabulous things I saw when I didn't get any good photos of them?

I did, however, bring home an exquisite antique linen-and-lace tablecloth. *Swoon* Love. How romantic. Utterly and COMPLETELY. Photos to follow... Sometime.

So anyway, on to reading. The loooooooooooooove edition.

I finally finished Scarlet, and very much enjoyed it. Of course, it totally leaves you hanging, so I'm off to the library tomorrow to get Tuck. Fortunately, I have appeased the local library powers-that-be, paying my dues (*Sigh* Don't ask.) and thankfully, averting any crises that might require a limb or my firstborn. 

I hope that Tuck ends the trilogy satisfactorily - I have been caught in several trilogies that have been GREAT all the way to the last book, and then, suddenly, the storyline or something just stops working. However, I have great hopes for it, and the second book really puts some different things into perspective and some new characters into play, while continuing to develop the characters from the first book. I also really like the historical background - it is obvious that the subject matter was pretty thoroughly researched, and I always appreciate that.  The author, Stephen R. Lawhead, even includes a Welsh pronunciation guide in the back of the books so that you know that you are pronouncing the names of certain characters and places correctly. In my opinion, VERY nice! 

I am about fifty pages into another book - this one non-fiction - entitled, The New Concise History of the Crusades, by Thomas Madden. The Daddy asked me to pick it up for him last month (there is a long, convoluted reason behind this, but I'll not go into that right now) and thoroughly enjoyed it, so he recommended I read it. I am enjoying it - its insights into the Crusades (a period about which I know very little) and connections to the modern jihadist movement is fascinating - but I am easily distracted, so I find myself putting it down and picking up other things and then coming back to it again. I'll finish it eventually, I'm sure, and I'm equally certain that it is a worthy, well-written read. 

In the midst of this, we watched Kingdom of Heaven with Liam Neeson, Orlando Bloom and Jeremy Irons, which I had never seen. I can't believe I haven't watched it before now, as I LOVE Liam Neeson AND Jeremy Irons. Both are fantastic actors whom I greatly admire. Orlando Bloom... Meh. 

Anyway, it's a good movie, and fits the theme nicely... It also has encouraged me to finish the book, because I'm fascinated by certain aspects of the storyline and want to see how the movie fits with the actual history. One of my favorite characters was this awesome knight/priest/monk guy who was a Hospitaller (from which our modern term, "Hospital" is derived) - whoever wrote his part did a great job, because he had some really thought-provoking lines about God and life and death and destiny... Written from a Hollywood perspective, of course, but still good, and enough to make one pause and consider what's been said. It's a bit gory and bloody, but fortunately, I can generally tell when things are about to get ugly and hide my face in the Daddy's shoulder. And in comparison to the reality of the Crusades, I'm sure it seems like a walk in the park... 

I'm also two-thirds of the way through Museum of Thieves, by Lian Tanner. I've looked at this book and read reviews of it on Amazon at least a dozen times, but haven't gotten it because I wasn't quite sure if it would be appropriate for KayKay or not. So last library trip, I happened upon it while looking for another book and grabbed it. *I* am really enjoying it. Whether it's appropriate for my eight-year-old, I'm still not quite certain. While what the character does is not necessarily questionable, I don't know if KayKay's maturity level is there yet or not. We shall see. 

However, I am quite pleased with a scene in the middle of the book where one of the characters quite plainly illustrates that while STEALING is not a good thing, but that the snatching of power from the tyrant is quite acceptable (among other things) - and I most completely agree. It is a poignant and profound moment, so much so that I read it aloud to the Daddy the other night, subjecting him to my God-awful, sensory-assaulting reading aloud. Whether the moment made it across the bedsheets to his brain (without it bleeding) has yet to be seen, but it's a good one, I tell you! 

KayKay did just finish up with The Hundred Dresses, by Eleanor Estes. This short, powerful little book is perfect for her age, and teaches a fantastic lesson in kindness to boot. I haven't had much of a chance to discuss it with her yet, but I am excited to hear her thoughts, as it is the type of book that I am CERTAIN she will have thought about. Definitely recommend it, and I will share more once I hear from her. 

Anyway. Moving on to some of the online reading I've been doing... 


Oh, SO VERY MANY links to love today! 

First, for my husband, my love, the Daddy: 

The Love of a Practical Man: Baby Rabies. Oh, she's so right. I laughed when I read this, but more out of recognition than anything else. I love you, sweetie!

And then... Lots more reading. Enjoy!

Little Angels of Today: Oh Charm of Nothingness So Madly Decked! Wow. Just look at the title of this blog, and tell me it doesn't make you melt a little bit? So perfectly poetic, just like the author. I think I've found a little slice of heaven in this post... It certainly seems that she did. 

Paper City: Made By Joel. Love, love, love. I'll be printing these for little hands to play with straightaway. Followed by this. And these. Definitely those. Oh, and let's not forget the whole reason why I went on his site to begin with - THESE - the Indoor Ring Toss. Awesome! Thank you, SimpleMom for sharing!

Red, Green, Or Black?: Lille-Ursus. Totally fun blog, totally FUN post. Check out the SHOES. The *Swoon and awed-whisper* aqua shoes. Oh, do I love them!

Right Now: Soule Mama. I think I shall take a page from the queen of homemaking, Soule Mama Amanda, and do a "right now" post sometime this week. It's too good a post not to. And I completely agree with her assessment of February. 

How to Quit Your Job and Go to Italy: Small Notebook. Ah, Italy. *More swooning* Oh, Rachel, I am so envious! But in a happy-for-you sort of way. One day, it WILL BE ME. In the meantime, I can live vicariously and enjoy the gorgeousness through her photos. 

The Sweetest Hour: Minky (Moo). Oh, goodness. I'd forgotten those moments, those snuggles with tiny toddlers and swelling baby belly. I'm so glad to be reminded. 

Five Reasons Public School Socialization is Undesirable: Opting Out. This is a great read about, well, socialization and public schools. 

Forest for the Trees: Sage Parnassus. What an interesting post about language and it's use, and how a fully-engaged child can make connections. 

What the French Revolution Can Teach Us About Parenting: Laura Grace Weldon. Wow. Just... WOW. This is a truly powerful post. I think I may need to print it out and read it about a dozen or so times. It is so true. 

Kinda Like 1995: Scary Mommy. I discovered this post earlier today, and at first I thought this was a serious post and was pretty horrified that ANY self-respecting mother would find herself in such a situation... And then I realized that it was about her children and I laughed so hard I nearly fell out of my chair. I think it makes it funnier because I actually THOUGHT she was serious at first. None of it is anything I would have done, even in 1995, but it sure was fun to read about! Ha!

Capitalizing on Crunchy: Hormonal Imbalances. I had to click on this link, if for no other reason than the title of the blog. And actually, this post is fantastic. It's so totally true, and a fine line that I have begun to walk myself. Finding the balance between as-healthy-as-possible without living in a bubble. Or spending five thousand dollars a month on food/other green-crunchy things. 

Getting Kids To Write - Write Around The Room: TeachMama. Ooooooh, great idea! I'm going to try this with the Ladybug pronto. Should be fun, because she ADORES notebooks and pens so long as I'm not actually trying to dictate anything to her. 

One last post - We Heart Nature: Living and Learning. A post by my friend Sherry, on her lovely homeschooling blog. Love the heart-shaped rocks!

Well, that's all the love for today, folks. Catch you later, my lovies. (Have you had enough LOVE yet?!?! Yes, I know, I'm cheesy. That's why you love me.)

Monday Reading Didn't Happen. Oops.


It's not really an oops. It's actually an "Oh, Dear GOD HELP ME!"

I was SICK, SICK, SICK yesterday. Ugh. Let's just say it was a 24-hour bug, and it wasn't pretty.

So yeah.

Needless to say, Monday Reading didn't happen. I don't know if it will today, either, as things on the homefront have been a bit rocky. *Sigh*

So there may not be a Monday Reading this week at all. Argh! SO FRUSTRATING. Why does it seem like everything has to happen on Mondays lately?!?!?

However, I will share a couple of quick links to appease the crowd. 'Cause three's a crowd, right? Ha!

So, here you go.

How To Love Exercise, Washing Dishes, and Folding Laundry: Inspired to Action. Oh, I love Kat. I may have mentioned this once or twice. She doesn't know it. I'm sort of an internet stalker in that way (KIDDING... Maybe.). But anyway. She pushes me. She truly inspires me. And here, she makes a great point. I haven't moved into the world of audiobooks yet, but I'm getting there... Maybe just one more push and I'll make the jump.

The Unbearable Arrogance of Insurance Companies: Best of the Blogs. If you know me, you know that I have hefty dose of utter and complete LOATHING for most (let's just say ALL) health insurance companies. This author explains a lot of the why's, very aptly, in this well-written and pointed article. In a nutshell: Insurance companies are about profits first, health care second. And for the millions of somebody's out there just like me, we get put on the losing end of that deal every single time. It's a good read. A really good read, actually. Well-worth the time and its length.

The Ruinous Fiscal Impact of Big Banks: The Baseline Scenario. Another long, good read. Typically, I don't read stuff like this, but then, once in a while, I'll get on a kick and get all hyper-educated (for the moment) about politics and high-finance and all that muckety-muck. And then I go back to being me. But yeah. Good read. Sobering, but good.

A Small Gesture... A Big Effect: Treppenwitz. I just discovered this blog, and I love it. What he writes here is so, so true. It is such a blessed thing to notice, and be noticed, even in the small, seemingly insignificant things. Oh, and go read the post about the spider. It's hilarious!

One Way To A More Effective Day: Small Notebook. Ah, Rachel. So real! So true. And in this case, SO ME. I completely identify with everything she wrote in this post. *Sigh* I don't know if that's a good thing because it means I'm normal, or if I need *more* therapy.

Is It A Good Buy, Or Just A Bargain: Small Notebook. And then, she totally rips my chest open and lays ALL MY SECRETS out there in this post. Ack! I am TOTALLY that bargain-hunter. Definitely *not* normal. *Double Sigh* Must. Stop. Shopping. Even at the thrift stores. *Rending clothes* Ugh! Perish the thought! It's so sad. And yet, SO true.

Herbs For Kids. On a completely different note, KayKay has started a science unit on plants, botany, and mainly, herbs. This site has some fantastic links on it to resources for kids to learn more about herbs. We also got her this book for the holidays, which she and I BOTH love. AH-MAZ-ING. I will do a further review of it soon, promise! It's just great!

KnowPlants. This is another database that is chock full of resources for botany, gardening, and you-name-it. While much of it isn't geared toward little ones, I have found that I can point KayKay to certain sections of some of the "older" sites, and then let her loose on other stuff. She hasn't played any of the games yet, but I think we'll be doing that later this week, too. I'll let you know!

Then there's this. Whether you've seen it or not, it's utterly compelling, in my opinion! What a great teaching tool for children. The girls and I haven't explored this fully (we just looked at a couple of the pictures together, but didn't really talk about them), but I plan on turning this into a lesson at some point.

Giant Sidewalk Chalk In Se7en Steps: Se7en. This is an AWESOME project. We're totally going to do this! When it's warmer, that is. The girls will love it. And it'll be a great way for me to let go of some of my OCD tendencies regarding their cleanliness. Therapy, in chalk form. Maybe I won't need to pay for any more after all!

Okay, that's all for now! Hopefully, this makes up for yesterday's nausea and we'll all be right as rain this coming Monday for a real "Reading" post!

I Love My Family (Or, Outtakes From Our Florida Adventure)

My family is crazy. CRAZY with a capital "C". My children included. Crazy wonderful, crazy insane, crazy good, crazy bad, crazy in-all-the-ways-you've-never-even-heard of, they've got it all (But hopefully my children won't inherit ALL that, though. :O). They make ME crazy (more than normal).

But I love them.

I am a product of my family, no doubt about it. They are pretty much wholly responsible for my bizarre and off-beat sense of humor, my incredibly weird habits, and my (relative) lack of inhibition. Among other things.

But I love them.

SO. In honor of my awesome crazy family, I thought I'd share some fun photos from our recent visit. Can you tell my children are total hams?!?!


This one will probably get me in trouble. I love you, Dad! 

If I survive, I'll be posting on Monday. Otherwise, you'll know what happened to me, and you might want to contact the authorities.

So, now I wanna hear all about YOUR crazy families. Because I *know* you've got them!

Au revoir, mes amis! I'm out.