Friday, August 31, 2007

Prison Blues?

I have a secret. Wanna know what it is? My family is not perfect (I will pause while you gasp in sheer disappointment). Although I try and live my life fairly transparently, there are members of my extended family whose skeletons I would much rather stuff into the back of the proverbial closet. And then kick the door closed with a steel toed boot.

One of these family members is a male cousin of mine. We were not close growing up and he is a few years younger than me. The only real contact we have had over the years is when his son was born and I sent him a bunch of clothes and some correspondence and the few letters and pictures he would send to my Grandmother, so I cannot say I know him or his heart well. Now he sends pictures to my sister.

The return address on the envelope is a State Penitentiary.

No sad sob story of wrong imprisonment, he is a thug, he committed a couple crimes and he got busted. So now he is singing the prison blues with his fellow inmates. Shouldn't he be?

Here is where I get annoyed. My sister scanned and forwarded the latest pictures to me and they are simply, "ghetto fabulous". In the first one my cousin is shaved as bald as an Egyptian pharaoh, decked out with sunglasses propped on his forehead, a goatee, wearing a "wife beater", baggy sweatpants and the kicker, white, white tennis shoes. This may seem meaningless, but you simply cannot be ghetto fabulous if your shoes have any marks, dirt, etc. on them. They need to be as bright white as the driven snow.

Did I fail to mention he is in prison? No wait, I did tell you that, you would just never know it by the picture.

On to picture number two. In this he is now shirtless, sporting six pack abs, wearing chinos and black shoes with a military shine. The background is a wall painted with a beach theme. Isn't that sweet? He literally looks like a model for GQ is this picture (save the tattoos). Oh and he has complained that he still has some fat to lose (I assure you he does not).

This is what "gets my goat". Dude is in prison. Why in the world are you allowed to sport a gang banger look while I am footing the bill with my taxes? Worrying about your physique?

I am not ignorant to the prison lifestyle and the things that go on behind bars. My major in college was Criminal Justice with an emphasis on Correctional Sociology. Besides, have you ever watched the National Geographic documentaries on prison life that seem to run endlessly? Anyone would be well informed after seeing those.

My annoyance is that I want all prisons to be fashioned after Maricopa County, Arizona, where prisoners get to wear stripes, live in tent cities (no personal televisions and cable here) and get no coffee, cigarettes and other things they think are their "rights". Did I mention the pink boxers they are issued? Priceless.


Forgive me for my rantings. I do love my cousin. He is a creation of my King just like I am. He needs salvation and prayer and I do pray for him. It's just a little harder to do while you are staring at a picture of a prisoner in perfect thug style.

He dresses better than I do.

____________________________________________________________________

A quick edit: Carolyn left a comment with an excellent point:

"
You can also look at our soldiers over seas. It is not right for a criminal in jail to be living better then our soldiers who are fighting for our freedom, while the criminals are trying to take it away!"

ABSOLUTELY right! ~Angel

Re-Run

I was tagged for a meme, but since I have done this one before and have not too many brain cells left, I will just re-post the previous one...

Nine Weird Things About Me

Or Things About Me That Don't Come Up In Common Conversation


1. I had the honor of meeting Rita Moreno at a National Hispanic Council on Aging dinner in DC while I was in high school.


2. I am related to Scottish missionary Dr. David Livingstone and George Whitefield


3. My great uncle Mac was Ranger Hal.


4. I was a student in one of the first Communications Arts Magnet programs in the country (read: guinea pig).


5. I am allergic to whey, yet am obsessed with pizza!


6. My paternal grandfather traveled from Georgia to New York City to be a laborer on the Empire State Building and then became a DC taxi driver for over 40 years after.


7. I have a tattoo on my ankle that I got when I was 20. I would love another, but Mr. Clean has requested that I resist the urge (while on the outside I am a mild mannered homeschooler, on the inside I am a juke joint singer with B-52's hair!).


8. I love motorcycles. Mr. Clean had one before we became "responsible parents".


9. I would easily become a "raw foodist" and follow Serene Allison around like a groupy, if I could still eat steak!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I'm Going To Bermuda With the King of Siam to Buy a Bengal Tiger that is Being Held Hostage in a Zoo and We Will Fly HIm Back on A Private Jet...

Remember being a kid and having to "one-up" someone? You know what I mean. Like telling your parents that "Yabba Dabba Do" or something equally as silly meant "Hello, how are you" in Spanish, because your Swedish friend had a Portuguese uncle married to a woman from Peru and she said so, so that trumped anything your parents knew?

No, I never did that, but I do distinctly remember telling my younger cousin once that my step mother was Jewish (my cousin's father is Jewish), even though my stepmother was raised in a Mennonite family. I have no clue why I felt that I needed to compete with the fact that my cousin had a Jewish father, but apparently I did. And lied all at the same time.

Why is it that we feel the need to compete with people all the time? Personally, I have gotten to the point where I know what I know, and am quite comfortable telling you if I have no clue on a subject (since there are many). Maybe I have gotten too old to care about "the game" anymore.

I was with a group of ladies recently where this happened and it amazed me. Is it that their lives don't have enough to fill it that they have to stuff in bravado? It seems so shallow to me. It reminded me of a hilarious sketch I saw one late night on SNL. Probably the only SNL skit that is appropriate to put on this blog. Enjoy, it cracked me up. But then again, isn't it sad? I bet you have run into a "Penelope". I know I have.


WHOO HOO!

I hit a blogging milestone! This blog has gotten over 6,000 hits. Add that to the close to 4,000 I received at my old blog and I have almost, kind of, hit the 10,000 mark (don't steal my thunder, I think the math is right and it counts)!

Grant it, most of the hits were probably from my mother looking for pictures, but I will take it anyway! So if you are reading this and you are not my mother (just kidding Mom), leave a comment and let me know (you too Mom). I would love to know who lurks here and never says hello (Mom...)!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I Loved This Comment

TheTutor has left a new comment on your post "A Challenge":

Yay! Good for you! Keep us posted (and yourself accountable) on your progress.

Love ya!

(We'll be joining you in that challenge, BTW. We've decided that since we are at pretty much the lowest income level we've ever had, we are going to try to pay-off our consumer debt this year. Crazy, huh?)

NOT CRAZY at all Tutor! I have found that in the years we made less we seemed to do a lot better, ironically! That is our goal too, although our consumer debt will take a little longer than a year to pay off, but we are tired of being a slave to debt.

A Challenge

We have been very blessed in a myriad of ways and I am not unaware of this fact (like that double negative I slid in there?). Sometimes however, we seem to take advantage of that fact.

Mr. Clean makes a very nice salary. I say this not to sound bragging nor vain, but to paint a picture of our life. We are by no means rich, but we are not really hurting either. We come in well above the median annual household income according to the US census Bureau, and do not have a ton of debt, yet we never seem to have any money. What a travesty!

Here is the point of this post. Lately I feel as if we have not been very good stewards of our money. The Lord provides and we spend. Not on anything extravagant, but we tend to "nickel and dime" our income away. $20.00 at Subway, $16.00 at the grocery store (after the "big" shop for the week), and $30.00 at Home Depot a couple times a month and you have an issue. Little things tend to add up.

We try to always use cash, but it is very easy to pull out the debit card when the cash runs out of our pockets. There is always more in the bank account right? Sure, if you don't want to retire until 92 and the kids have no plans for college.

I do not want to wait that long for Mr. Clean to retire and I do not want to leave my children high and dry with big college loans if they desire a higher education after high school. So I have thrown down the proverbial gauntlet (at my own feet) and decided that I need a challenge.

I am such a numbers geek and I love finances so I am going to go as miserly as possible until Christmas and see how we do. I will actually see what in is the pantry before deciding that we have to order a pizza or run to the grocery store, even if it means a "soup night". I will plan menus and stick to them, as well as stick to the list (and budget) at the grocery store. Once my allowance runs out for the week, then I simply cannot buy anything else.

Simple and logical principles, I know. Somehow I tend to forget all about them however, so pray for me! And feel free to join me in this challenge, be a miser with me. I would love to hear your thoughts on it!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Reading, 'Riting and Rithmetic?

Not today! So all of our company has left and life is settling back to normal, right?... Kind of.

The kids just needed a day to regroup and be home and they begged me to let them break out the watercolors so they could create masterpieces. I decided even if the kitchen turned into a mega mess from the paint, they earned it. So today we decided to master "the arts".

C'sa and Xena put on a show and sang (including "the cell phone song", composed by C'sa herself) while K.Z. growled in a perfect impression of a lion. It was all done in full costume of course, since Momma got to have fun with the watercolors as well. It was a day well spent!



Tears on a Tuesday

I found this on Susie's blog and had to post it here.
Thank you, thank you, thank you...



Boy Has It Been a While!

It feel like I have not blogged or read blogs in a while! The past few weeks have been a hotbed of activity for all of the Mr. Clean household.

I snagged this picture from my father in law to share because I just love the look on K.Z.'s face as he is heading down the rapids during a white water rafting trip with my father-in-law and "the cousins" (he is front center in yellow, my FIL is in red next to him). It feels like this has been the pace of our house for the last few weeks. I am very much looking forward to it slowing down "rapidly"...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Doing It Adirondack Style!

I had never seen nor heard of an Adirondack chair until I married my crazy New York State infused hubby and inherited his fabulous family. I got to actually see my first Adirondack chair when I took a tent camping trip with them to upstate New York in the Adirondack Mountains; imagine the sheer coincidence!

So I was delighted to pop over to my in-law's blog this morning and see the picture below. I do believe that must be the biggest Adirondack chair I will ever see! Kind of makes me think of Alice in Wonderland, although my son would quickly dismiss the white rabbit and do his own thing in Wonderland. Probably make a fort of some kind.

K.Z. (left) and "the cousins"

Monday, August 20, 2007

Go Daddy-O!

On the way home from picking up the girls and a great lunch with my mother I tried in vain to find a radio station, as we had previously decided to give up our XM subscription. Had I been in my own momma mobile I would have had a myriad of cds at my disposal, but I was driving my in-laws SUV since our van went on the New York adventure with the boys.

Knowing that I would not find anything appropriate on the FM channels, I decided to at least try and find a classical station on AM that would not scar my daughters for life with the lyrics. It might drive me to the brink of insanity since I am not a huge classical fan, but the girls' ears would be safe.


I found gold, albeit in AM land. I found a 40's station playing Big Band, my favorite style of music. As we happily sang along to Louis Armstrong, The Glenn Miller Orchestra and others I lamented about the world going to "hell in a hand basket" in this day and age and wondered why life now could not be what is was then.


Despite my adoration for air conditioning and i pods, I have always maintained that I was born in the wrong decade. I have always romanticized the early decades of the centuries and wished I could have experienced them. The attributes I love the most are the strong family ties, respect for others and the general sense of the fact that men were men and women were women. You know what I mean.


Before you remind me that there were still bad people, sin and no central air conditioning back in the day, let me assure you that I in no way think that it was a perfect time. Things then just were not as blatant. Society for the most part had a sense of right and wrong and did not air dirty laundry or decide to make music just another outlet for p*rn.
Those people did not exist in polite society, they stayed in the dark underbelly where they belonged.

So how are we contributing? Don't gasp now; I mean, how are we contributing to change what we hate about now and reestablish what we had then? I know small things that we have very large control over.

In our family we have a couple basic definites. K.Z. is never, ever, ever to hit a girl, he is to always hold the door for a lady/girl and he will never wear any hat at my or any other table nor in a church. "Yes ma'am", "no ma'am", "yes sir", "no sir" are a requirement of all our children and they are also to always look you in the eye when you speak to them or they are speaking to you (forgive us if they falter on this one, we are still working on it!). No one gets to eat until prayers have been said and Momma has sat down at the table. If you want the last of something served you best ask everyone else if they want it first. These are just basic common courtesies.


I am still working on others, but I have the power to instill these values in my children and take back a part of societal norm that has been lost. You have this power as well.


I remember my Grandfather standing when a lady would enter a room and still respect my father's chivalrous manner. Does anyone take it seriously when the Pledge of Allegiance is said anymore? Are we teaching our children to stand and salute the flag? Do we do it?


The times that we live in are certainly tumultuous at best. They were not much better in the first half of the century either. Wars, poverty, abortion, prejudice, homosexuality and deviant behavior were rampant then as well. But the parents who refused to give in to that type of society were training up their children with proper manners and respect for county and fellow man.


We can do that too. We should be doing it since there are not too many of us left that think it is important. So, make Johnny sit up, look you in the eye and offer to crank up the air conditioning for you. He owes it to you and you owe it to him.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Whirlwind Week

The week has flown by so quickly and I do not have half of what I wanted to get done actually accomplished before the kids come home and my sister in law flies in with my niece. The boys left on Tuesday, I spent the day at my Mom's on Wednesday and then Thursday and Friday I spent a major portion of the day at church helping to set up for a conference so I was not even home (sigh!).

So today I have to really getting motoring and knock out my "to-do list". Pray for me... better yet, pray for Mr. Clean.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

More Precious Than Gold

Since my Grandmother's death in April, my mother has had the job of settling the estate which involves some serious inventory. I have gotten the privilege of getting some things from the estate that have meaning to me. Today however, she handed me an envelope that took the proverbial "cake".

Let me digress for a minute, I promise it will tie in. Lately Mr. Clean and K.Z. have been on full blown Indiana Jones alert as the 4th movie is now under production. So I have have, "Indy" on the brain. My favorite Indiana Jones saga was the Last Crusade.

In it they are on a quest for the holy grail, the cup Christ used at the Last Supper. In the final scene the Nazis (always the "bad guys") follow Indy into the spot where the grail is being protected by a 700 year old knight. The room is full of cups of various shapes, sizes and conditions. The bad guy is, of course, on a selfish quest and wants to drink from the cup to have im
mortality.

The knight tells him when he asks which one it is of the many cups, "you must choose but choose wisely".


The "femme fatale" of the movie, also a Nazi decides to choose and picks a beautiful cup made of gold. The male Nazi mutters before drinking from it, "a cup fit for the King of kings".


Poof! Then he dies. Wrong cup.


Indiana wisely states, "It will be the cup of a carpenter", and chooses the most modest and scuffed cup on display.



Now back to the envelope. Inside contained a ring. Each one of my grandmother's children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchild received (will receive) one. Seventy-six years ago they were made in Africa, hand carved from seed pods with a small knife.

Only the Creator knew that my mother would need 23 rings to provide each of us a small piece of my grandmother's history seventy-six years after they were made. Initially my mom only found 22 rings, which she did not even previously know about. She had no idea what to do since someone would inevitable be left out. Hours later, she found the 23rd ring in an obscure location.


Like the fictional grail in the movie, the ring I received today is plain, crudely made and completely wonderful because of it's historical value, even if the monetary value is nil. Had the envelope contained a shiny gold ring it would not have been as special.


The African who carved this ring three quarters of a century ago had no idea what the Lord would plan for it. I hope it carries a special meaning for my aunts, uncle, son, daughters, sister, niece, nephews, cousins, second cousins and so on.

you can click on the picture to see
the detail of the knife marks

Where Is Your Mission Field?

Last year Mr. Clean and I traveled to the Czech Republic and Poland on a short term missions trip. I have traveled before and even to other countries, but none of those trips struck me like this one.

I am in love with Poland and the Czech Republic and the people within. I can remember the smells, sights, sounds, the way I felt, all of it. I also remember being quite unashamed as a group of us sat in the airport in Frankfurt, Germany with our Bibles out praying. I would go in a heartbeat if Mr. Clean suddenly got a calling to be a full time missionary in Eastern Europe. Well, as long as the dogs could go of course... :-)

I grew up in a family with a strong history of missionaries. David Livingstone and George Whitefield share my family lineage. My grandmother lived in Africa as a little girl with her missionary parents. My great grandfather William Whitefield was a traveling evangelist from Scotland. I always imagined myself sharing God's Word in some remote foreign country. Mission work runs through my bloodstream.

When the Lord moved us from Maryland to Pennsylvania almost 4 years ago, I did not want to come. I had no desire to move to Pennsylvania. After all, why leave the life I loved and knew well? Mr. Clean felt a strong calling to take the job he was offered here and move his family. I told him from the start I would follow him to the moon, so I guess that meant PA as well.

I met my neighbors who were very nice and soon found a church and family of believers to envelop myself in. At least I found a lot of people just like us to fellowship with if I had to uproot and live in a new place, right? Where was the mission spirit? Don't unbelievers need the gospel in Pennsylvania too? It actually took almost four years for that epiphany to occur in my brain.

I am here! I may not be in Scotland or the Czech Republic or Sierra Leone but I am here. Because this is the exact spot the Lord planned for me to be in at this precise moment in time. I may never live up to the great Whitefield legacy, but my legacy is bound to be different, aye?

The majority of you reading this are in North America. Have you seen what a large area of the earth North America covers? There are people right in our communities that need missionaries. Should we import them from other countries or fill that void ourselves? The Indian Nation that begat my father is in my own country. My in-laws have gone on missions trips to the reservation; I have never set foot on it with the intention of sharing the gospel (just to visit) and they are my own people and many of them are lost.

I am in no way whatsoever saying that we should not send missionaries to the far corners of the earth. We absolutely should and are mandated biblically to do so. I would jump at the chance myself if the Lord deemed it so. I am just reminding you that although we have not been sent out to the far corners, we have a job right here to do.

My mission field begins the minute I leave my bedroom. I have three little ones to serve in His name. Where is your mission field?

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Perils of Parenting

Something happened today that made me sigh and hate the fact that I am the one "in charge" some days. K.Z. left for his New York adventure so it was just the girls and I today until they head to my Mom's tomorrow for their own adventure.

So off we went into the wild blue yonder doing things that girls like to do... buying and returning. The day was going fabulously and since I had been dragging the girls with me for one errand or another all morning and they were being wonderful, I wanted to treat them. Off to Chick-Fil-A we went. Things were going just swimmingly until I found a table in the very crowded restaurant. I instructed the girls to sit at the table while I went to get the food. They plopped right into the chairs at the table made for four and then the whining began.

Xena wanted to sit next to me. She was currently sitting across from me. Since I knew that suggesting to C'sa that perhaps she switch seats with her sister would cause double whining, I happily explained to Xena that she was right across from me and that was a great spot. We could chat easily and still be next to one another. She was not buying it and immediately began to protest. So I decided to up the ante. I told her that she was to sit there and if she did not change her attitude we could just as easily leave and have lunch at home. Guess what we ended up doing? It did not involve me getting a beloved chicken sandwich.

I was disappointed that we had to leave since Miss Xena did not decide to change the scowl on her face, but that was not the part that made me sigh. I came to two struggles within. The first was that C'sa had been wonderful and compliant and still got punished in a sense. She pointed this out to me as we were leaving and both girls were in a state of shock and panic. C'sa started to cry and said, "But I had a good attitude!"

She was right. Her attitude was wonderful and yet she still got the short end of the stick thanks to her sister.

My second struggle is the fact that I was not taken seriously at first blush. Does my track record not prove that when I say something, I am completely serious? More than likely, it does not. Xena figured she could sulk all she wanted and would still get a kid's meal at Chick-Fil-A and that probably has happened before. Mr. Clean and I talk about first time compliance, but how often do I make them "tow the line". If today was any indication, Mommy is the one who needs the work.

I am still craving that chicken sandwich.

Farewell My Boy

K.Z. started his last summer adventure today. Last night my two nephews flew in from the west coast to join K.Z. and my in-laws for a boys only week (well, Nanny is allowed to go too since she lives there and is a good cook!) in the Adirondacks, filled with tons of adventure. So while I am sad to see him go, I am excited that he has this opportunity with his cousins that he only sees every few years. Bon Voyage gentlemen (and Nanny)...


Nanny, "the cousins", K.Z. and Pop

Friday, August 10, 2007

Would You Know?

One of my favorite songs of all time is, "His Eye Is on the Sparrow", written in 1905 by Civilla D. Martin and composer Charles Gabriel. It was sung at my wedding and makes me cry every time I sing it, hear it or think about it's meaning.

The greatest recording would most definitely have to go to Mahalia Jackson, but today I ran across a version that stunned me. A group called "Big Mama" (named so as they are considered "fat" in Korean culture... phhh!) singing it so amazingly that I listened to it over and over. The thing that got me was the fact that this is a Korean singing group and they are singing it in English. It is obvious to me that more than likely they do not speak English well if at all, but I have not dug any deeper than my initial impression so I could be wrong. It starts a little "iffy", but keep listening. When I stopped watching and just started listening, I forgot that they were Korean. Does it really even matter anyway? They were singing about the same King Mahalia sung about, or anyone else singing this song.

Sometimes it can be hard to think about believers in other countries, but they are out there in droves and God loves them just as much as He loves us. I am a proud American, but not too proud to remember that The Church is global and my King comes far before my country. Enjoy this and pray for the brothers and sisters in countries not so free to worship.


Thursday, August 9, 2007

Why Not Be You?

Recently one of my favorite bloggers, who we will call "Mrs. Z" for the sake of this posting, had gotten some flack in a comment to her about "posting her emotions when they were not at their best" (I am paraphrasing big time). Right now her life is taking a great direction since she and her hubby have really submitted control of their lives to the Lord and well, every road, even and especially the God directed ones, can get bumpy. And when roads gets bumpy, we silly mortals can get grouchy. Sometimes you just need to talk it out and vent.

This is what Mrs. Z did via her blog. She was having a bumpy week and blogged about it factually. She was not inappropriate nor mean, just letting some of the bumps go, "blog style". Then she got sandblasted for not being very "Christ like" and airing her issues in a very public forum. This got me thinking. As believers, shouldn't we be transparent? Even when our lives are not all hearts and candy?

I was not born in a "Leave It To Beaver" bubble. I was born a sinner, acted like a sinner and had to come to a saving relationship with Christ Jesus. Before this happened, I did things, said things and thought things that were not edifying in any way shape or form (still do sometimes). And I will gladly discuss any of it if the timing and audience is appropriate because I am forgiven of it all. I want to live a transparent life.

Now I will keep certain things private for safety reasons and I will respect other peoples' privacy on this forum (and you'll never see my Mastercard number on my blog), but why not any other topic? As long as I am not causing a brother or sister to sin with what I post and it is not inappropriate, what is the big "brouhaha"?

I know that at anytime, anyone can stumble upon this blog. And that all 7 of those people :-) will be able to delve into my personality, thoughts, ideals and beliefs. If I am one of those bloggers that only posts when the sun is shining, the birds are singing and the bees are merrily buzzing along am I being authentic? There are bloggers that like to post when life is good and that is alright by me, I enjoy reading them, but I gain so much more out of reading blogs that show people at their core. Not stripped raw, but real. Good, bad and ugly.

So Mrs. Z, blog away sister, even on the bumpy days. I promise to do the same.

Wolves in Sheep's Clothing

I am fairly certain it is safe to assume that you do not have inappropriate magazines lying around your house (those in the line of "Play__", fill in your gender of choice). Or at least I hope not. But do you and not even realize it?

As a kid I would once and a while grab my Dad's "Field and Stream" or "Outdoor Life" magazine if I was bored. I cannot say I have ever noticed my brothers read a "Good Housekeeping" laying around the house, but you never know.

I read this article about "Redbook" today and was blown away (note: the article is on a Christian website and well written, but is about very mature material) . I am not naive and I know that grocery store magazines offer advice on how to decorate a "sexy" bedroom or spice up your romantic life with a candlelit dinner. I also don't bother nor have time to read those style magazines. You just might be surprised what they contain and if you have them laying around the house you just never know who might pick them up.

Because I am naturally curious, I went to Redbook's website to poke around, after all, it is just Redbook. What I found was basically p*rn for women. Terminology and all. These were not even subtle little teasers with innuendos. It was uncensored and completely sponsored by Redbook. I would not even recommend you read it yourself because it was that shocking.

It certainly makes me reconsider my reading options at the doctor's office! Guard your eyes, ears and hearts!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

The Unspoken Homeschool Sin

I adore my children. I believe they were tailored and created to be my children (not simply because I gave birth to them, but because the Creator saw fit for them to be raised in this family). That being stated, I also know that because they are my children, I feel more stress and pressure to make sure they are raised properly than, say, the kids down the street. I certainly care about the kids down the street (remember Leviticus 19:18? I struggle, but I try...), but my real investment is not in those kids, but my own.

So I chose to homeschool like millions of other families. I know in the core of my being that this is the path that the Lord has set for me and that my little guys will benefit greatly from it. However...

When I started this journey I had a ton of confidence. I loved my curriculum, I had every box checked, I knew for certain that my children would at the very least pilot a space shuttle thanks to their homeschool experience and extremely dedicated mother. Then reality hit (I believe it was day 2 of Kindergarten with my oldest?); these were not little robots I was programming with my curriculum and manuals, they were individual creatures and this was not going to be as cut and dry as I had thought.

Case in point. Today we had a great lunch and since they all ate so well I allowed them to have a frozen fudge bar for dessert. K.Z., my 7 year old son ate his efficiently and quickly, leaving no trace of evidence behind. C'sa, the 3 year old ate hers with the typical telltale signs of fudge around her mouth, but perfectly clean hands. Xena the 5 year old however, had melted fudge bar on her mouth, hands, forearms and shoulder. Three kids, the same dessert and three different results. Just like life.

Here is where I believe a lot of homeschoolers fall into a dangerous practice. I am the queen of this behavior. We see other homeschoolers' schedules, curriculum choices and extra curricular activities and we strive to be just like them in our experiences. We want to keep up with the "Einsteins" and measure ourselves against them in lieu of measuring ourselves against holy scripture. We begin to question the routes we have taken, whether or not their curriculum is better, if they have learned how to read by a certain age, etc. Isn't this idolatry?

There may be no idol carved from wood on the mantle we are bowing down to nor calf of gold, but we are allowing Satan to fill our minds with doubts and fears about our abilities and paths. We strive to be like them instead of turning out hearts and minds toward the Kingdom.

I am in no way saying that getting advice or checking out a friend's curriculum is a bad thing. I would have been lost had it not been for my long time friend The Tutor when I started my journey. I cherished her advice and listened to her opinion and in the end wound up using a lot of what she preferred. Without her, Ruth Beechick and a lot of books I would have never known where to start.

I also have had the opportunity to let another dear friend with two young kindergarteners look through the many math curriculums I had chosen and changed in the last three years. Getting opinions and advice is not what I am talking about. Proverbs 19:20 says, "Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise."

Right after that Proverbs goes on to say, "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails."

This is what we need to listen to. The Lord's plan for our children's lives. We certainly are not privy to every detail, but He has given us instinct and the ability to seek out His will. For three years now I have poured over others' posted school schedules and manners of teaching and have filled my head with more and more clutter. When do I start Latin? Do they really need Greek? German? Spanish? Should I use phonics or DISTAR? A Beka or WTM? When do I start cursive? Charlotte Mason? Traditional? Trivium? Boxed curriculum or pieced together? Homeschool Co-op? How many hours should my school day last? The list goes on and on.

We do this because we want the very best for our children. But on whom are we relying? Friends with experience or the One who knitted our children together in the womb and knew them by name before the world was even created? It's time to stop idolizing the Einsteins and start getting to know the children that we have been blessed with and them educating them accordingly.

Monday, August 6, 2007

The Blog World

I just read this article by Abraham Piper (John Piper's son), ironically, thanks to another blogger's recommendation. I love to blog, read blogs and have sometimes spent hours catching up on my "favorites". I also try and make sure that the blog authors I read the most are ones that have something good to say or are people whose hearts I have had the privilege of getting to know in person.

I must say however, after reading this article, I have had to rethink some of my blog selections. I have also deleted some from my favorites list. Maybe this article will make you ponder this as well. That is as long as you do not delete mine! ;-)

Friday, August 3, 2007

I Knew Her When...

I have always wanted to be a writer. As a kid I would make up stories and write them in notebooks all the time. Lately, my writing has slowed quite a bit, but I still love it. So I generally tend to gravitate to people who also have a love of the pen.

Two of my dear friends have been shopping articles lately and I am pleased to say that I found out today one of them has had an article picked up. When she is famous, ask me for all of her dirty little secrets, LOL! Just kidding, she is a wonderful woman. Here is the article...

Is Your Son Tough Enough?
Faith and Fitness Magazine

Fun for Friday

I hated Science class as a child (I was an English & History geek), but I love it as a homeschool mom. Check out this cool experiment...


Thursday, August 2, 2007

DOH!

I heard some things today that made me just cringe. The kids have been enjoying a summer library program and I have been enjoying an opportunity to sit and yak to some friends or in today's case, read a book. Sitting near me was a group of parents casually sitting and chatting.

The theme of this year's reading program is "investigation" so the kids do some spy/archaeological/police type fun activities depending on the week. This week was crime investigation, CSI style, which of course got people chatting about the television show. To which one mother replied, "it's kind of embarrassing, but I let my 7-year old watch CSI".

Kind of embarrassing? Kind of child abuse you mean? I have a 7-year old and excuse me if I sound harsh, but there is no way I would let him sit with me and watch any of the three CSI shows. They are simply inappropriate for a 7-year old.

Where did decent, well meaning parents, which I believe these parents are, get the idea that just because it is popular, it is alright? It got worse. A dad in the group was talking about the fact that one day his daughter (also very young) came up from the computer room in the basement and told him about a great site she had found (all by herself, shouldn't we be so very proud). You could "dress up" celebrities in different fashions, specifically mentioned were Lindsey Lohan and Johnny Depp (stellar examples for a child), and then print them out in the fashions you choose. How about an actual doll? Maybe I am a little old fashioned.

Why are we letting our little kids grow up so fast?

One Man's Trash...

Have I ever mentioned that I am a Freecycle junkie? Despite getting half a gazillion e-mails in my in-box daily (I go back and forth between subscribing and unsubscribing), I have gotten great things. This is how it works...

You find stuff in your house that you no longer want or need and offer it to someone else who might want or need it for no cost, right in your area. I have gotten rid of a lot of stuff this way. However, because people have also done this I have gained a lot of stuff this way. I have gotten a bunk bed, bags of clothing, a battery powered ride-on type of car for the girls, a bike, various books, a plant for the garden, kitchen items, a twin mattress and boxspring, two twin beds, 6 boxes of unopened name brand cereal, other grocery items and the list goes on.

The biggest problem with Freecycle is that it seems like for every one item I offer up, I wind up finding two items I really want. Did I ever mention that Mr. Clean hates that I am a Freecycle junkie?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Lunch Sums It Up

One of my favorite blog titles of all time is "Diary of a Crunchy Granola Pop tart Mom". Her description of herself is great and describes me up quite nicely as well. Today, it hit me that my lunch menu sums me up precisely.

First you should know that I try to feed my family well. I have always been the one who would feed my kids millet for breakfast before cold cereal, "back when mothering was new". Well, now that I am a more experienced mother, Lucky Charms just has a way of somehow jumping off the grocery shelf and into my cart. It must be the leprechaun, because I certainly would never buy it on purpose and well, I usually shop alone so I cannot blame it on the kids.

Another weakness of mine is good ol' mac-n-cheese, in the blue box. For under 60 cents I can quickly make my kids some lunch without the hassle of figuring out who gets stuck with the heel of the bread (which personally I love, but it seems there is never enough bread for Momma to actually get a sandwich, let alone the heel). So that is exactly what we had the other day for lunch. Except...

Feeling a twinge of guilt about giving my children yet another pre-packaged, cannot-be-good-for-you-in-any-way-shape-or-form meal, I decided to add veggie sausage (you know the kind that tree huggers, who won't eat anything with a face, eat) which I really like. It actually turned out really good and I felt a little better about the meal. So that's when I decided that this particular meal defines who I am to a tee.

I am a crunchy kind of mom at heart who would gladly hug a tree if the urge hit me, unless there was a creepy bug on said tree, then I would grab my chainsaw, cut it down in an attempt to kill said creepy bug and then go have mac-n-cheese for lunch. Only from the blue box please.