School, Horses, and a Story - Part 1

I have, sadly, let blogging fall by the wayside (again). I am so busy during the day and I just don't want to make my brain keep working, after the kids are in bed. Meh.

Well, there are things that require more words than a Facebook update can accommodate. I finally built up enough of a backlog of those things to warrant a blog post. Now, Renee is on her way over, for our biweekly Walking Dead viewing.

If she shows up before I'm done, this might turn into a two-parter. But for now...


The first few months of this school year have been the hardest we've experienced. Ever. Granted, this is only our fifth year of formal schooling, but I foolishly thought that we had things pretty well under control.


The amount of defiance, complaining, disrespect, and drama has been out of control. If I were a less stubborn person, I likely would have given up by now. There's a lovely, 5-day-per-week school, right here inside our neighborhood!

But, I am stubborn and I also happen to feel very strongly that Veritas is where God wants our family. Anyone who knows me, or reads my blog, or follows me on Facebook is well acquainted with the various struggles we've had.

That being the case, I'm going to skip to the good part. We're finally turning a corner! And I can say that, even though this afternoon was a total suck-fest. Here's what's working:

A strict schedule.

I'm more of a routine person than a schedule person. As in, give me a to-do list and let me start at the top and work my way down. Don't bother me with times or deadlines. I don't like being told what to do, after all (even when i'm the one doing the telling).

So, I'm pretty well shocked that this is working so well for all of us! I think the most important difference it has made is that it gives us permission to stop an assignment and walk away from it, even if it's not completed.

Once we start something, I want to keep going until it's done. I have a hard time setting things aside to be completed later, even when emotions are running high and no good is coming from the situation. It's part of my charming, obsessive-compulsive personality type.

The firm end times in our schedule mean that we are done, even if the assignment is not complete. (Does that make any sense?) I have a Study Hall scheduled for the end of each day, and we use that time to finish up work from earlier in the day.

It's been incredibly helpful.

Here's our schedule, if you're interested:

8:25 a.m. – Prepared for School

8:30 a.m. – Bible Time (20 mins)

8:50 a.m. – Kinder Bible (20 mins)  **This is different.

9:10 a.m. – History (35 mins)

9:45 a.m. – Music Appreciation (5 mins)
9:50 a.m. – Break Time (15 mins)

10:05 a.m. – Reading (35 mins)

10:40 a.m. – Spelling (40 mins)

11:20 a.m. – Grammar (20 mins)

11:40 a.m. – Lunch (30 mins)
12:10 p.m. – Rest Time (60 mins)

1:10 p.m. – Writer’s Workshop / Writing with Ease (15 mins)

1:25 p.m. – Handwriting (10 mins)

1:35 p.m. – Memory (15 mins)

1:50 p.m. – Latin (10 mins)

2:00 p.m. – Break Time (15 mins)

2:15 p.m. – Math / ELF (60 mins)

3:15 p.m. – Science (30 mins)

3:45 p.m. – Core Knowledge (10 mins)

3:55 p.m. – Study Hall (20 mins)
4:15 p.m. – School Day Ends

Rest time is about to be moved to the end of the day, however. Apparently, taking an hour-long break in the middle of the day has turned into a bad thing for my children. We'll have a fantastic morning and then after rest time, I've got a couple of jerks on my hands!

This evening, Lila even said it herself - after getting to spend all that time in her room, doing whatever she wants, she finds it very hard to switch back into School Mode.

Fair enough. I'll do whatever results in more respect and less drama!

There have been other changes, as well, but they are more subtle and less exciting.

Also, Renee just showed up. So, I guess this is Part 1. More later...



Lila for President!
During our pre-dinner prayer tonight, Lila thanked God for kittens and the President. That prompted me to suggest that we elect a kitten as President. Then she said that she should be made President. I quickly grabbed a piece of paper and began to interview her on policy issues.

If Lila were elected President of the United States:

1. She would move Bailey [her best friend] into the White House.

2. Only kids would be allowed to hold government office.

3. Bailey would also become her Vice President.

4. She would declare cake and ice cream to be acceptable breakfast options.

5. Parents would be required to give their children daily game time on electronic devices.

6. Parents would also be required to give their children smart phones at age 5.

7. Illegal immigrants would be dressed up as little girls.

8. When our Allies ask for help in fighting their wars, we'll tell them to ask someone else. [She also mentioned something about sending them fairy wands...]

9. Her solution to National Defense = Lipstick Tasers

10. Visits to the White House would be a mandatory 3-day stay for friends, one month for family.

11. Her response to unemployment:

     a. Jobless to receive $1 from every person they meet.

     b. Jobless would be required to seek work.

     c. Managers who deny jobs to the unemployed would be sent to jail.

12. Education would be restructured as follows: Children would be required to attend school for 3 years and to learn as much as they can during that time. They would not be required to find a job until age 10.

So... I guess she's running on a platform of nepotism and shaming?

- - - - -

Also, I accidentally punched my son in the face today.

Doug, Eli, and I were playing Crazy Games on my bed. That is a thing we've been doing since the kids were little bitty things. It's basically a free-for-all wrestling match. It has, naturally, gotten more rough as the kids get older and stronger.

As we were playing tonight, I went to give Eli a light punch in the chest. At the same time, Doug grabbed him from behind and tried to make him face-plant onto the bed. The result was that my fist made contact with his face, just beside his right eye, complete with Smacky Punching Sound.

Um. Oops.

Thankfully, there is just a little red spot there. I was not looking forward to the conversations that would have to take place if he ended up with a black eye.

Sunday School Teacher: "Hi, Eli! Oh! What happened to your eye?"
Eli: "My mom punched me."
Sunday School Teacher: [stink eye]


Photos from Lila's Birthday Party

Better late than never...

That's an awful lot of giggling princesses...

Train Princesses, out for some fresh air in Bertram.

That's some pretty savage gift-opening!

I love that smile!

The girls were playing Princess Memory in the floor and one of the Train
Princesses stopped to hang out. (That's Eli and Miss Kitty Whiskers at the
car window.)

And I believe this would be my daughter denying a high-five to the
Train Princess.

Lila really wanted the girls to bring American Girl dolls. For some bizarre
reason, all the dolls ended up with their hands tied up.

Princesses Emma and Lila

Princesses Lila and Charis

Princesses Bailey and Lila


Creative Writing

Here are two bits of creativity from Lila's Writer's Journal (all mistakes included - 'cause they make it more awesome)!

8 - 28 - 14

Books interes me because some are filled with adventure
and some have misterys. they interest me beacause some
are calm and peaceful and oters are exiting. I love reading
books exiting or calm with mysterys or not it is fun to read!

9 - 4 - 14

my tree house home

Once I had a 5 story apple tree. With it I built a 5 story apple tree
house home. My best frind and I lived in it togeter. We ate apple pie,
apple sause, homemade apple ice cream, and plain apples. One
day I said "I'm tired of apples let's go down to pick grapes, blue
berris, cheriies and razz berris."



Oh. My. Goodness.

The following is an actual email that Doug actually received, from an actual work-related acquaintance in China.

Subject: Linda-A blessing from a Chinese girl-Cheersonic
Dear friend
Live a happy heart is happiness, let others happy, the heart is also happiness,
happy is rich, only you intentions to experience, will feel happy!
Let my blessing like high low wind-bell, give you bring ding ding dany dany happiness!
If you are in a dream also laughed, it must be I bring to you!
If you can, please don't tell my blessing bored,
If possible, please always remind of concern you of me,
If you would like to, please let me share you feiends!
Best Regards



"Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something." -- Man in Black, The Princess Bride

I'm not sure how you'll feel about this evening's post. It might not sit well with you. It's an uncomfortable subject. It is not lightly said, however, and I hope that you'll prayerfully consider my point of view.

Pain is the background of life. It is ever-present and unavoidable. It touches every one of us. Look around and you. Murder. Betrayal. Rejection. Insecurity. Look at yourself. Abuse. Dishonesty. Loneliness. Hopelessness.

"For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now." (Romans 8:22)

Nothing mind-blowing so far, right? Here's where I might step on your toes. . . . It's supposed to hurt. We were never meant to live in a world like this. When we are surrounded by such brokenness, we should feel our hearts break!

God intended that we should live in the kind of world where we look around and see Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Where we look at ourselves and see Goodness. Gentleness. Faithfulness. Self-control. That is what we were created for.

"Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, in this way death spread to all men, because all sinned." (Romans 5:12) 

Sin has messed it all up. It started with one bad choice and snowballed. Sin entered the world and God is allowing Satan to roam free for a time. There will come a day when everyone who will choose life has done so.

When that time comes sin, and it's accompanying pain, will be utterly destroyed. No trace left. But for now... every day, pain trickles (or floods) into our lives like seawater into a leaky boat. A weight of sadness pulls at our soul.

"As He approached and saw the city, He wept over it, saying, “If you knew this day what would bring peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes." (Luke 19:41-42) 

And here's where I might step on your toes again. If you don't allow yourself to feel the pain, you will never be able to fully experience happiness. Even Jesus stopped to consider those He loved and to weep for them.

Some of us are expert at pretending that we don't feel the sadness. Many of us try to hide it because we think it's somehow wrong to admit that we feel sad, especially if we can't say exactly why we feel that way.

"And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption." (Ephesians 4:30)

The idea that life with God means you no longer feel pain is a LIE. God himself grieves for his hurting children. If we are to reflect the heart of God, then shouldn't we grieve as well? However, God would never ask us to grieve without also offering us comfort.

I spent most of my life either wallowing hopelessly in pain, allowing it to consume me, or trying outrun and hide from it. It's only in the past few years that I've learned something infinitely valuable. I have to let myself feel sad. And that's okay.

"And I don't look at you when the light is shining
And I don't feel warm until the water's lapping
Against my feet, around my knees, around my waist"
-- Throw Me, by Chasing Furies

Think of the leaky boat. If you ignore it, or put a pretty pillow over the leak, you'll be okay for a time. But eventually, the water will be around your ankles. Then your knees. Then the whole boat is going down. Avoidance does not work.

If you acknowledge the leak, if you confront it and bail out the water, it could save your life. It's not a perfect analogy, but you get the idea. In our lives, the leak cannot be repaired. Only God can do that, and He decides when.

"God is always late, and always on time." -- Brad Thomas

But if we sit with God and face the pain, He will comfort us. He will bail the water out of our boats and enable us to sail another day. And with the pressure of that sadness lightened, we can more fully experience the peace and joy which God also so abundantly offers.

I'll stop talking now and ask, what do you think?

- - - - -

My first version of this post ended rather abruptly, didn't it?

That would be because my husband came up behind me and started playing with my hair. For anyone who doesn't know, touching my hair turns my brain off.

I haven't gotten much feedback on my thoughts (i really would love to hear from people), but what I have received makes me think I'd better clarify something.

I experience joy every day. And I experience happiness nearly every day. The pain that I allow myself to feel is in no way prohibitive of experiencing joy. Rather, joy comes more easily because God has lifted some of the weight from my soul.

That was part of my original intent behind sharing these thoughts and I apologize if I didn't make myself clear. :)



Alas, the end of school means less time to play with doodles.
For a week now, life in our family has been a tornado. I don't believe that the transition from summer to fall (such as it is) has ever felt this violent before! I think that we so successfully kept ourselves diverted this summer, we never had a chance to look forward to the start of school.

Both kids finished up their swimming lessons last Monday. They have each been in lessons since they were babies, but it's interesting to see how different they are. Lila can swim well and she knows it. Eli has a good base of swimming skills, but lacks confidence in the water.

At any rate, they've both decided to move on to different interests for the fall. Lila started horseback riding lessons on Thursday. She has been so looking forward to it! I will not lie; I am downright jealous that she gets to ride every week, and I don't.

Eli will begin gymnastics classes on September 5th. I hope that goes well. He has taken gymnastics lessons in the past and he refused to participate, half the time. He has assured me that will not happen again. I have assured him that we will not continue to pay for classes, if it does.

Somehow, in the midst of all our activities, I managed to get the kids ready to go back to school. I acquired all the necessary books, uniform pieces, school supplies, and lunch goodies. We even squeezed in a haircut (so Eli didn't have to go to school with hair he'd recently cut himself).

The first classroom day was Wednesday. There was much excitement, all around, and I got a couple of good photos. They are still on the camera, however, so you'll have to wait to see them. I celebrated my first day of "freedom" by being alternately slothful and productive.

The first homeschool day was Thursday. Unfortunately, I was the only genuinely excited to participant in that activity. The kids started their day off with grumbling and defiance. It was discouraging to have my enthusiasm greeted by such resistance.

Thursday, as mentioned in my prior update, was also Lila's 9th birthday. She experienced a fairly spread-out celebration this year. Birthday dinner on Tuesday, birthday breakfast on Thursday, a grandparent birthday visit on Saturday, and her birthday train ride on Sunday.

Friday, as also mentioned in my prior update, we went to Schlitterbahn. I actually started my day by praying that God would enable me to enjoy myself, even though it was not something I wanted to do. Despite my ardent desire not to go, I had as much fun as the rest of the family. Thank you, God!

Saturday was probably the slowest day we've had for some time. There was still some errand-running in the afternoon, however. By the time we all got back home, I had not the least desire to cook dinner. We declared it Family Movie Night and ate various frozen foods of dubious nutritional value.

I will post pictures from Lila's birthday train ride, the Princess Flyer, at a later date. Those, too, are still on the camera. The short version is that we had a lot of fun, even if our train car did become unbearably hot near the end of the ride.

And that brings us all the way up to today, which was as busy as all the rest. I got a sunburn on my back at Schlitterbahn, which is starting to fade. Today, I got a sunburn on my shoulders during recess duty at school. It's been years since I got a real sunburn and now I've had two within a week!

Speaking of which, I forgot how badly sunburns ITCH when they are healing! Gah!