From The Mud Puddle

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Create a Snowflake

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Recently, season two of Meerkat Manor began. The kids and I have been watching tapes of this show that my mother sends home and we are definitely hooked. How a bunch of meerkats and their lives can be so interesting, I'll never know...but they are.

The main family of meerkats that they follow are the Whiskers. Their main arch rivals are the Lazulis. This season, they introduced a new rival gang of meerkats...the commandos. They seem to be even more ruthless than the Whiskers or the Luzulis. The dominate male of the Commandos is Hannible. He only has one eye. He looks mean and bad. Above on the left is a picture of Hannible. I tried to find a better picture of Hannible online, but could not. I took this picture with my digital camera off TV (that is why it isnt that great of quality) The other picture is of our dog, Bayley. Bayley and I were snuggling last night. He really doesn't like the camera. He tolerates it. Sneezing has always been his word for yes and his defense mechanism for things he doesn't like. Last night I guess he didn't like the position he was in, so as Hannah snapped the picture of Bayley, he sneezed. This was the picture that came out. I said "that looks like Hannible of Meerkat Manor". Indeed he does look like he is trying to mimic the evil meerkat. In fact he also was trying to apparently act out a scene from the show as well. You see, as soon as I let him go, he got caught somehow in my jumpsuit or my bedspread and he freaked out. He snapped at me and ended up snaring his teeth on my arm. Blessed, the skin didn't break, but I did end up with a swollen area that bruised temporarily. It is fine and well, after Bayley learned a much needed reminder of submission by being "bit" with my hand on his neck and flipped on his back (as per the Dog Whisperer's examples) he was sorry he over reacted to the loving.

Still and yet, just look at that face! We have marveled over how it really seems he is trying to look like the mean, bad boy of the Commandos in Meerkat Manor.

Eye Glass shopping is one of the hardest things to do (to me). It is hard for me to choose one frame from the hundreds of choices. I always try to choose something stylish, yet timeless given how quickly frame styles come and go through the years. I have had this pair of glasses I wear now for six or seven years. I noticed in my old drivers license that I was wearing a different pair, so I know that I got these sometime after that. They have lasted way longer than they should have.

So today, day two of actually looking and trying on eye glasses, I found myself wishing my mom could be there with me to give me suggestions. She and I do not always see eye to eye (haha) on things, but I respect her opinion on style and what looks good on me. By respect, I may not choose what she suggests, but I do take it into consideration. Other things I take into consideration are cost, comfort and of course my own opinion (and that of my family).

I was trying to look up these two frames I had liked at Lenscrafters and found this . I noticed that they had a virtual try on glasses thing. I got my son, Christopher to take a picture of me that I then uploaded to the site in order to "try on" various frames. This was very cool as I was able to look through many different frames in a short amount of time, many of which I had tried on at the store. I started seeing a pattern of what I did like on me and what I did not. I was unable to get the pair of everyday wear frames from Lenscrafters that I liked to actually load in the virtual try on thingy but was able to find others that I maybe would have overlooked. Two of the frames in the picture I have actually tried on. The other two I have not. I sent the picture to my mom for her opinion. We'll see what happens as I try to find the "perfect frame", at least for my everyday wear. Given insurance restraints, the reading ones will have to wait until January, when the calendar year flips over again. Thankfully that won't be that long.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Jesus took the bread in his hands and gave thanks to God. Then he passed the bread to the people, and he did the same with the fish, until everyone had plenty to eat.
The people ate all they wanted, and Jesus told his disciples to gather up the leftovers, so that nothing would be wasted. The disciples gathered them up and filled twelve large baskets with what was left over from the five barley loaves. John 6:11-13

Jesus took what was before him, the bread and the fish...and giving thanks began to pass it around to the people that had been hearing him teach. While obviously, at first glance, there is not enough food to go around to the 5000 men and the additional women and children that were there that day. Still and yet, Jesus gave thanks to God and passed it around anyway. God made it stretch and last. What seemed severely not enough became enough, more than enough even. In this Jesus gave thanks, even for what didn't seem like enough at first view. God has the ability to provide above and beyond our thoughts and ways. We may or may not know how God is going to provide or going to make what we have be enough, or even more than enough...but we can trust that somehow it is. Perhaps it is just as simple as trusting God with our own loaves and fishes and saying thank you for what we do have, we are blessed beyond enough in other ways as a peace surrounds our hearts and minds and circumstances. What seemed impossible at the time to the disciples quickly became possible in God's hands. What seemed to be not enough, became enough to overflowing.

Sometimes as I compare my checkbook balance to the bills and obligations that I have I am struck by what seems to be an obvious sense of there not being enough to go around as it needs to. Things break, things fall apart, bills come due and people get sick. Even so tonight, thank you God for what I do have. Thank you for providing this daily bread, not only in my tummy but in my heart and soul and mind by your word. I know it is enough, even bounty overflowing. Somehow in your ways and means you provide what I really need...You!

The next step in this process of "becoming 40" was to get my drivers license renewed. I still dont have my new glasses, but I really wanted to just get this chore out of the way.(Even though as soon as I get my new glasses, I'll look different from the picture) It has been eight years since I had to get my license renewed. North Carolina had made some changes in the past ten years and with that, I had an extended time between renewals.

I went into the office. I choose the one that sits beside Lorillard in Greensboro on Market St, because that is my favorite. Maybe I really enjoy that one because it was where I went 24 years ago for my original permit and first drivers license. It might be because my daddy worked at Lorillard for over 30 years before he died and the smell of the tobacco reminds me of what he smelled like coming home. For whatever reason, this is where I choose to go this time.

I really dont like this chore. I dont know why, I have nothing to hide LOL. Maybe it is just because I am afraid they will look at me and say ...naaaahh....not this time...and take my driving privilege away for no reason except I'm ugly LOL :D (Yes I am afraid, and yes that is a joke in my silly paranoia)

I took Hannah with me. She liked going and remembers when I had to go there before. We had to wait in line for my turn. We had to wait about fifteen-twenty minutes in order to be given a ticket that said we were customer 136 and to wait over there ~~~>

So, I sat down and waited for my turn. This part didn't take long. I guess it helps them to keep people from pouring out into the parking lot and organize who exactly is next. When my number was called, I went up to the man's desk. He was very much so he even smiled! He asked the usual I registered to vote, do I want to be an organ donor...etc. He then asked me to take the eye test. I read the first line as he asked me to. I think I did fine. He then told me to identify twelve of the signs. I missed two. I knew what they were for-but just couldn't remember the specifics beyond..."It's a yellow round sign". Yes that sounds dumb, but what is important is that I passed and got my license renewed thankfully.

I'll have to repeat this in five more years, God willing, but for now....this chore attached to being forty is done and I am glad. It was also nice to get wind of what my daddy smelled like way back when. I dont like the smell of cigarette smoke, but this smell-the smell of tobacco there smells just like he did when he'd come home each day-and it is priceless.

One week, two days until...stay tuned..

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I'm sitting here, eyes dilated, waiting on dinner to finish cooking. I went to the eye doctor today. I should say I went to the eye doctor today finally. I've worn glasses since I was 12 years old, so this really isnt a big deal. But given that I turn 40 in two weeks, I guess it was just one more .. reminder that I am slowly getting older. Not only do I need glasses for far vision(as I've had for years), I now need them for reading/computer work too. (I've been having some eye strain between reading for pleasure and computering) He suggested getting two pairs of glasses, rather than bifocals. I dont know how that would go or if I really want two pairs, so will have to ask questions as I go look at frames. I was also hoping that given the case that I did have to have two pairs, I could just get some "ready readers" at the drug store. The person in the optical center said that wouldn't work for my needs. Sighz. So as soon as I can see clearly, I'll go pick some out somewhere. It is funny to me that they assume you'd want to pick out frames at their lens store right after your exam given how fuzzy my vision is right now. There is no way that I could have seriously picked anything out. There was another man in the lens store there that had dilated eyes, like me, that wanted to know the time. He couldn't see the time on his cell phone and asked my daughter to look for him.

Thankfully, my eyes are healthy. I found it extremely cool to see the pictures of my eyes up on the computer screen. It is amazing what they can do to check the health of your eyes now. He said that they will save the images to compare to next year, when he wants me to return again for an exam.

Everything is so fuzzy still.(here three hours later) I was glad that my daughter, Hannah, wanted to come with me. She drove us home most of the way. (meaning I tried it, but gave up about half way home and let her take over) Part of the way home, when I was still driving, it was sort of funny. She said, "Look, there is a cute dog". I said, "Where"? (teasing her..I really could see the dog...however blurry it might have been). She asked, "Really"? I said, "No, I'm just kidding, I see the dog". I did decided though it would be safer and better for all to let her drive. Like I said, I am glad she was there. I would have hated to have to drive all the way home like this. I might would be still sitting in the parking lot waiting for my eyes to recover. They did offer me some of those cool sunglasses, but that only helped the brightness impact.

I dont remember being effected by dilation like this before. Maybe it is just that so much time has past since I went to the eye doctor. (six or seven years) We've never had eye insurance as a married couple, now we do. I've always had to pay for my exams and glasses, which was always a huge outlay of money. It did mean having to switch doctors to go to one "in network". I wasnt crazy about going to someone else as I've seen this same group of eye doctors since I was 12. I did like this Dr though, and felt he took the time to answer all my questions and explain things well.

Still and yet-I sit here approaching my 40th, feeling older by the minute. His comment about my near vision was, "Your near vision will be going downhill for the next several years, it happens to everyone." Was that suppose to be comforting or consolidating? He also told me that my astigmatism is worse than 90% of the general public. This definitely was not a "feel good" visit LOL!

While my inner child is alive and well, it is slowly getting smothered out by by aging body. The fight is fierce. My body says, "you are old", my inner child says "oh yeah"? while sticking out her tongue.

Monday, October 16, 2006

The pictures in the slide show below were taken on Friday night, October 13th, at the Andrew Peterson-Jill Phillips Square Peg Alliance concert that I attended with my two kids.

Get Your Own! View Slideshow

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Hannah's Mumms

These were the mumms my daughter, Hannah, picked out last year for her daddy to plant when he planted my pansies. They were small, weak and at times we were not sure they would ever bloom again.
Pictures taken tonight as we were outside.
Soli Deo Gloria

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

My mother's birthday was last Friday. This was the artwork I did and used for her cards..

Last week I posted about how we came to be a homeschooling family. Steven commented:

"I think home-schooling is a wonderful choice. I am of the opinion that kids need interaction with their peers so that the world does not shock them later, but it sounds like you involve your kids in a variety of activities that allow them to be full members of the community at large."

Rather than totally respond to the issue of socialization in the comment section, I thought I'd address it here. It is an important issue that a parent has to consider prayerfully as they think about homeschooling. Steven's comment reminded me of this topic that is equally important to discuss in relation to homeschooling. I am mainly addressing the socialiation issue of homeschoolers vs public school. I do not know how things work in a private schools as I have not had any experience with that to consider in how it might be similar/different.

It's interesting that when people say that they home school, many ask or comment about socialization. It is interesting because to it's core, when you home school, you cannot help but socialize your kids. They are not socialized in the public norm, but in a way that, in my opinion, is far better than the socialization that happens in a public school setting.

Kids that are in public school are grouped together with other kids of their own age. Peer pressure takes place and kids often are socialized by their peers. This socialization, in my own experience, was not positive. It was a contest of popularity, trying to fit in, being pressured to conform. My best attributes were not understood or highlighted. I was expected to go along with the crowd. It took getting out of that setting to really understand who I was without all the pressure. I am not talking about the issue of healthy competition, but the issue of the negative impact of a group of kids socializing other kids. As we considered the pros and cons of homeschooling, the issue of socialization was addressed. We realized we did not want a group of eight year olds teaching my kids what is right or wrong or how to behave. We also did not want a teacher, possibly holding opposite beliefs from ours, teaching our kids. God gave us the responsibility to raise up our kids. I am accountable to Him with what we do with this time. In that I dont agree that kids need other kids their age around them regularly in order to be socialized properly.

The socialization my kids have received has come from being in groups of kids of various ages. It has come from going on errands with me during the day. It has come from being with their grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles and friends of various ages. It came also when my kids went with their grandmother to her senior meetings to help. They have been around babies as well as the elderly. In times past, they got to know other kids within the homeschool support groups we were a part of. (including one at church for a short time) They do get exposure to kids their age at church in the youth group, but more so they have learned how to relate to people of various ages. They have learned to speak up and to have their own opinions not pressured by what is considered "cool". They have learned to base their thoughts and ideas on God's word. (that in itself is a post)

When kids go out to get a job, in the real world, they will find that they will work with people of various ages and stages. Kids do not go into the real world finding that they work with other adults exactly their age as they might have gone to school with. I never had a job where I just worked with people my exact age. Everyone has always been younger or older than me. (mostly older)

Homeschoolers rarely just sit at home all day and do school. (though admittedly, now that my kids are in High School with their homeschooling, we do spend a lot of time here as they work through their studies because that is our focus of the week...and it leaves little time for other things). Homeschooling affords us opportunities to go out and be in the community at large more often than if they were at public school all day. (as Steven pretty much hit on the head in his comment)

There is a lot on the Internet about this topic. Most studies show homeschoolers to be even better socialized than public school kids. Yeah, I should link a few, but I am feeling sort of lazy, I'll let you google 'em if you're interested LOL.

Anyway, that is our point of view on the topic. It was just part of what we liked about homeschooling as God led us into it. It works for us and our family.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

It is October 5th. I got an email from my mother in law the other day asking me if there was a day during the Thanksgiving weekend that we would be able to come over to celebrate Thanksgiving. It's October 5th .... ?!?

I told my husband that she had emailed us, and why. We discussed it and we have our answer for her, but then I asked...Why is she emailing and asking NOW? LOL He said well you know...

Yes I know, she does tend to want to tie us down to a date rather early. If up to us we'd spend it here at home with just our kids. My family no longer gets together for it. (My mother chooses to spend Thanksgiving with her boyfriend...hmm..or is he just a friend? I never quite got an honest answer there...Maybe companion is a better choice of words) We are pretty open ended a bit more now as Jay gets both that Thursday and Friday off. (for many years he just had Thursday off) We celebrated Thanksgiving with her last year and it went great. In fact it was one of the better celebrations we've ever had over there.

We know part of all of this is that her family had a standing tradition of always gathering at her mom and dad's house for Thanksgiving. We were always invited to go, but at that time, it meant giving up the only day Jay had off for that holiday to drive a good distance and back. We did it some, but then started opting to just set the day aside with the kids, giving Jay a much needed day off. Her father died many years ago, and her mother just died last year about this time. I think she wants to start her own tradition by having her family over every year as her parents did.

I'm not against it, but I really hate falling into traditions like this, so I hesitate. My family had traditions, but when my own father died, those traditions started falling apart. It was sort of awkward and weird. I don't get along with my sister or brother well, so what is lost is probably just a lot of stress anymore. I just hesitate to start new ones at this point. Traditions are meant to be kept, not broken....and it just seems that no one can agree in how to keep them anyway. Maybe I need this though. I'll leave the figuring out thing to God.

So I have to email my mother in law back to tell her that we can come, God willing, baring sickness or death or other emergencies. I hate committing to it right now, because if we have to change plans say in a few weeks, or right before the date for whatever reason...we better have one foot in the grave first LOL!

This is all written with a sense of humor. It just struck me funny that here it is October 5th and she is already asking us about making plans for Thanksgiving. (oh and we only live 45 minutes apart) I don't always agree with my mother in law, but I do love her and know she is doing the best she can with what she has being who she is.

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Every time there is a rash of violence in the schools, I hear the same thing..."I wish I home schooled". (or better yet, "I wish I home schooled like you") These people operate on the assumption that the primary reason I home school is safety. I'd like to share with you-it isn't.

I remember my daughter being five to six weeks old. I was doing errands with my baby girl, my mother and one of her best friends. For whatever reason, I choose this time to tell my mom that I had finally made the decision to be an at home mom and that I would not be returning to work outside the home. God had really kneaded my heart...softening it towards what He wanted for us, for our family. It was crazy. That in itself is another story.

As I told my mom, her best friend said, "well, you should think about homeschooling her". Her grandchildren were being home schooled at that time. I really don't know how much she really knew about homeschooling. I honestly dismissed her comment. I really had never considered educating my kids any differently than I had been educated. I mean, no one that I knew growing up home schooled or was home schooled. If anything, some kids whose parents traveled a lot might do corresponding school, which sounded elusive and mysterious at that time...but home school?

So a year and a half of blissful motherhood goes by and I find myself at my mommy meeting. This was a fun group of ladies. We would gather and speakers would be brought in talking about topics that concerned moms of preschoolers. (this was before I started going to MOPS). Anyway...The speaker on this one particular day was actually a panel of homeschooling parents. They handed out flyer's...of FAQ and various other things that might help get folks that were interested in investigating homeschooling help in getting started.

The discussion was lively and interesting. My thoughts ran back to my mother's friend and her comment. I still really was not entertaining it seriously as an option yet. God was just beginning to work. I learned a lot of basic information that day. I was a sponge.

I came home, still thinking about it all. I remember bringing out the papers and showing them to Jay, my husband. He read through them. He loved the idea. I was so surprised when he said "we should think about it". Somehow God was getting to me through my husband's enthusiasm. This was very unusual as most of the time things were the other way around. This definitely caught my attention.

My thoughts were like this...If my husband is all for it no questions asked...what is God trying to say here. I liked that it as well as my staying at home (both God things I know, especially in retrospect) were both initiated by God through my husband. He didn't pressure-he left it up to me to sort out with God...but indeed, God had caught my eye.

We started praying about it..not really knowing what to pray. We started looking into it all. We started talking to people and looking around and listening. We went to the homeschooling state conference when my daughter was three and a half. We learned a lot. My husband was all into it. I still had some doubts. I remember pouring my heart out to God...telling God that I would home school if it was His will. God, I remember, put it before me saying..basically , "Let's do one year at a time". That didn't seem so bad. I turned it all over to God. I acknowledged God was the head of our home, and would likewise be head of this school...and that this school was God's.

We went another year before formally beginning to home school. I remember telling my mom we were doing this. I also remember her trying to talk me out of it. That sort of hurt a bit, but I think she was just worried that I couldn't do this. Fact is, I couldn't, but with God's strength I can do anything.

I started gathering more information and materials. I had a friend that was a public school teacher that was teaching Kindergarten. She gave me a lot of advice at home she went about teaching her kids in her class. I practically applied them to the homeschooling situation as I made plans.

I could go on...but for now this is enough history. I did not start to home school because I was scared of violence in the schools or because of a dislike of the school system. I admit there are some good fringe benefits, but they are not the reasons. The reason clearly was God planning the path for our children's education. The reason clearly was our following God. We had no idea what would happen or how long we'd home school. I have not totally been without concern about if I could do this or not...but any concern I have had has been met with God reminding me that he loves my kids more than I do and would not have led us in this direction without a plan to finish what He started. (as well as His reminding us that this wasn't our school but His LOL)

Back several years ago, my husband and I led a local homeschooling support group. This group consisted of families such as to support one another as well as any new comers that might be starting to home school. We were not the pioneers into homeschooling, but we were on the cutting edge of the beginning of the bigger movement you see happening now. I remember having long talks on the phone (as the state support group gave new homeschooling families in our district our number) from mothers that were so distraught about their child's school situation. They were considering homeschooling, or had already pulled their kids out of school and were asking "now what"? I remember telling them how God brought us into this, not because we are so good and followed-but because led us to do it. It wasnt a reaction against, but just some simple sheep following their shephard. I always prayed that it would help parents to slow down and really think about what they were doing and why.
I share all this because it is part of our story here. It is part of where we are. My daughter is now doing 11th grade here at home, and my son 9th. I pray anyone that considers homeschooling because they think their child will be safer consider that there are no guarantees. My children could be shot at or attacked just walking the dog. They could go to the store and be shot or stabbed. We live in a broken world, full of sin ..dirty. Jesus is the only answer. While I am glad God led us in this direction, and there have been more "moments" with my kids than I ever dreamed possible...I also know it isnt a safety net.
This was on my mind yesterday and today...thanks for reading.

Monday, October 02, 2006

This is what happens when birds or squirrels attack your sunflowers that are overdue to be removed...Some critter is going to bed full and happy tonight!

The beds are made, the washer is going, we are dressed (yeah it’s early afternoon, we should be huh?) and the kids are busy with their schooling. So far it is a typical Monday morning/early afternoon for us. My husband leaves to go to work at 11:30, so our days do not have to start quite as early as most. This is nice in that it seems I have raised two night owls in my children to match their parents. Here the last few weeks, not only does our day start with schooling in PJ's first and a late breakfast, but also tuning into the africam waterhole. This morning it was amazing. Right before we logged off the site, a lion was spotted at the Pete's pond site. I switched over quickly and got to see her. She was beautiful. God sure made all the animals unique and amazing each in their own way.

When I started staying at home with my kids, over 16 years ago now, I quit my job as a purchasing clerk at a cabinet making company near here. It was a great job-but God had a job for me that would be even more wonderful than that one…MOTHERHOOD! I have absolutely loved being a mom. It’s not that one cannot be both a mother and have a job outside of the home. God’s plan for me was to stay at home with our kids, and furthermore, home school them. I love being an at home mom. I have loved watching my kids grow first hand, rolling on the floor with them, playing with them and teaching them. Our days sometimes have been full and busy, while other times quiet. God has blessed us with the time, and furthermore, the ability to appreciate what was before us in this time with our kids.

About 7 years ago, the kids and I started delivering phone books. My son was 7 at that time, and my daughter was 9. It was fun!! We’ve had good years with it, and bad years. God has used it to draw us closer as a family and to learn to really work together for a common goal. God has also used the money to provide for us in various ways.

Also, For the past few years, I have off and on done temp jobs. My husband and I had discussed it three years ago right before he was laid off. After he became laid off, it became a bit more necessary for me to try to go ahead and do some temp things. After he found another job, I just kept on as we had discussed in the first place. I don’t work often, maybe once a month or so…sometimes more, sometimes less. I enjoy it as it gives me a chance to get out there and do something a bit different. It also gives me a heightened appreciation of the time I do have with my kids. (not to mention the money of course is nice) I am happy as a stay at home mom for now, but I also know that my kids are getting older. There is coming a time soon where they no longer will be schooling and will be off to discover life for themselves separate from me and my husband. It will be a bittersweet time I am sure.

So with that, thoughts sometimes lately do float to what God may be guiding me towards in the future. Do I want to go and finish my degree? Do I want to just go directly into the workforce? Do I want to just work part time at that time? What exactly does God want me to do ?

A few weeks ago, I got a call from the temp agency asking me if I would consider two jobs they knew I qualified for that would be temp to hire type things. One was a full time PBX switchboard operator at a local university. It was full time, so I was not really interested in that one at this time. The other was for a part time purchasing clerk working for another company near where my husband worked. The hours would have been perfect. The kids could do the busy aspect of their schooling while I was gone….and we could still maintain things the way they are. It sounded very interesting. I was not looking for this-it just came. I tried to just be open to God and handed it to him. The lady at the agency asked me to send her an updated resume. I did.

About thirty minutes later, I get this call from the lady at the agency. She said that she got my resume, but had a question. She asked, “what have you been doing for the last 16 years exactly”. She saw my resume ended with the job I had before my daughter was born. I laughed. It was funny to actually hear someone ask me this question like this. What exactly HAVE I been doing the past 16 years? How much time have you got? LOL I told her how I got the last job that I had as a temp to hire thing from them at one time and that after I was hired, I became pregnant. I decided to give up my job in order to stay at home with my baby. She said …”ohhhh”. It all made sense now. I really don’t know if she read the summary of my resume at the end before asking this-but still…funny …

As God so had it, I did not get the job. I had turned the situation totally over to Him, knowing He always has my best interests in mind (and the best interests of my family). He sees what I cannot see there. If He said no, then there is something better for me here still at home, or He has something else planned. I was a happy stay at home mom before…and found myself grateful for His watching over me and my family. Perhaps it was to just continue to give me an appreciation of these final years, perhaps it was to keep me from something that is at that particular job He didn’t want me to be in. Perhaps it was as simple as a Father’s no to me, His child. Whatever the reason, I am Thankful.

I just got a call for a temp job tomorrow. God’s provision for our family…always