Even small children are known by their actions... -- Proverbs 20:11

We just finished up a very fun Halloween evening. Eli put his ninja costume on at around 3 p.m., so it would be a bit of an understatement to say that he was ready to go! Lila's costume took a bit more work, but we got her all pinked up. Kai, the red ninja and Pinkie Pie - They both looked adorable! I can't wait to get the photos uploaded, so I can share them.

I mentioned on Facebook that Eli fell and injured his ankle last night and I was rather worried. Doug and I both breathed a sigh of relief when we heard him thumping down the stairs this morning - both mobile and not crying! Whew! His foot and ankle are all purple and blue, but it's not slowing him down one bit. He was sprinting from house to house tonight!

I was very proud of Lila last night. She and Eli fight a lot, of course, and she can be quite nasty at times. She has got a definite nurturing streak in her, however, and it showed up while Eli was hurting. While he was laid up in our bed and I was giving medicine and applying cold packs, Lila was bringing ice water, favorite stuffed animals, cloths for cleaning the wound, etc. Brushing teeth was mentioned and she appeared with two toothbrushes to choose from!

I've had her minister to me in this way, when I've been sick. It can be the middle of July and the first thing she'll do is bring a blanket to snuggle under. In fact, her GET-WELL TRIFECTA includes fresh cool water, a blanket, and your favorite stuffed animal. I think she's on to something!

I was afraid she'd be a little jealous of all the attention Eli was getting, but she really showed her character. It was sweet. :)



Who set the wild donkey free? -- Job 39:5

I had some fajitas for lunch yesterday. Turns out they were not entirely gluten-free, so I spent the typical 24 hours in bed. I think the most annoying - though minor - reaction I have to eating gluten is that it makes my tongue feel weird. That means that food doesn't taste right, so the comfort foods that I crave when I'm sick don't satisfy. Meh.

I've been missing Charlie a lot more lately. I long for my big, fuzzy buddy. I love our other animals, but I don't think I'll ever have another pet that I'm as close to as I was with Charlie. There were multiple times that he and I would talk to one another and someone would comment, "It's like you're having a conversation!" Well, duh. We were! I miss his big giant head and his impossibly furry belly.

The pumpkin situation in our house is out of control.

At the beginning of the month, I bought 2 medium-sized ones for decoration and later carving. Then Grammie came over and brought 2 small ones, for the kids to paint. Then the kids came home from Grammie's house with 8 more even-smaller ones. Then they got to paint pumpkins at the Sweet Berry Farms field trip - that's 2 more. Then Eli spotted a wheelbarrow full of tiny pumpkins outside school a couple of weeks ago and convinced me to buy 2 of them. That's 16 pumpkins! SIXTEEN!

I had to lay down the law - to myself as much as anyone else - that no more pumpkins would be entering our household this year!

Does anyone else out there watch How I Met Your Mother? This won't mean anything to you if you've never seen the show. I just started watching it from the beginning recently (on Netflix). As we were getting ready to leave the house the other day, I was trying to get Eli to change into his swim suit. Without even thinking, I found myself saying, "Suit up!"

I could go on giving out random bits of information for a very long time, but Doug is waiting patiently for me to finish this update so that we can have a schedule sync. Don't even get me started on how busy we've been this Fall...



A few days ago, I mentioned how frequently I have to tell the kids that I was gonna doesn't exist.

I just found the grown-up version of that maxim...

Willing is not enough; we must do. -- J. Goethe

I use the phrase I was gonna as often as the kids, but I use it differently. I say:

I was gonna call _____ today.
I was gonna vacuum the kitchen floor today.
I was gonna do a load of laundry this afternoon.

That's all pretty easy to say while I'm sitting here on the couch, but it means precisely squat.

The fact is that I did NOT call _____ today; I did NOT vacuum the kitchen floor today; I did NOT do a load of laundry this afternoon.

So why do I say it?

If you think about the silent but that comes after the first phrase, then I suppose I am trying to deflect responsibility away from myself.

I was gonna call _____ today, but we had so much school work to do.
I was gonna vacuum the kitchen floor today, but that appointment with the doctor took two hours.

So it's Veritas' fault that I didn't call a loved one to catch up? It's the doctor's fault that I didn't vacuum all the dust bunnies off the floor of the room where we prepare food?

I think maybe it's my priorities that are the problem! Either that, or I just need to BE HONEST and say:

I was gonna do a load of laundry this afternoon, but I didn't want to!



Trust in the Lord with all your heart. -- Proverbs 3:5

My heart, along with many others, is breaking this week for a fellow Veritas family. They lost their 7th-grade daughter on Monday in tragic circumstances. It is not my place to give details, but please pray for the Meandro family.



Not that my darling children ever try my patience...
Father, I am weak, but You look into my heart and be my help. -- H. C. Andersen

From the beginning of the day, I could tell that my body was coursing with hormones and that irritation (with everything that breathes) was going to be a problem. I prayed that the Holy Spirit would flood me with patience as I spent the day homeschooling my children.

'Cause seriously, PMS and homeschooling are a dangerous combination. But, my God is faithful and gracious and I felt remarkably calm as we navigated our morning. I have cell phone alarms that go off at 10:30, 1:00, 3:30, and 8:30 to remind me to pray throughout the day.

Unfortunately, what tends to happen is that I hear the alarm go off and think, "Oh, it must be 10:30," (or whatever time) and then I go on with my life. Only occasionally do I remember to stop what I'm doing and take 30 seconds to connect with God.

Today was no different. As the day went on, I ignored my prayer reminders and grew slowly less patient. I never got hostile or irrational -- these things are NOT beyond the realm of possibility on Hormone Days -- but I was definitely agitated by the time we finished our work.

It was only after things were all said and done that I wondered how much better my day might have been if I'd prayed for the Spirit's help continuously. It's not that God was taking his Patience away because I wasn't asking anymore or that He ran out of patience Himself.

God is limitless and forgiving. But the water won't slake your thirst if you don't pick up the glass and drink!



I have had more trouble with myself than with any other man. -- D. L. Moody

When I have my prayer time in the mornings, I nearly always journal about what I said, heard, and/or felt during that time. Then I go back and look at my journal entry from one month prior. This morning I read an entry from September 20th, in which I wrote:

"I feel such freedom this week (as I disengage the chains of my media addiction). Father God, thank You for giving me the energy and motivation to go and watch that documentary (Captivated), for enabling me to look honestly at myself and see what was not glorifying to You (and harmful to me), for giving me the drive to make changes, and for giving me the power to follow through!"

Sidebar: Yes, I do use that many parentheses when writing in my journal. Let's just say that I have a complicated brain.

My first thought, after reading this, was, "Wow! That was only a month ago!" I double-checked and, sure enough, I watched the documentary on September 16th. It seems like so much longer ago! The changes I made felt huge at first, but now they are the new norm. Not always EASY, mind you. But normal. I'd like to think of this as proof that I adapt quickly.

After I finished with my journal, I picked up the Bible and read a passage that included the following verse:

"'However, they will become his servants so that they may recognize the difference between serving Me and serving the kingdoms of other lands." (2 Chronicles 12:8 - God speaking)

I started seeing connections. I thought about the disgust I felt when I realized how much I had given myself as a slave to TV, Facebook, Candy Crush, etc. I thought about the freedom and joy I quickly began to feel once they were gone. I thought of God's words and how He will allow his Children to become servants to other "kings" for a time, so that they may know the difference between serving those false kings and serving the true King.

And I became grateful for my enslavement. Doesn't that sound odd? But it's because of that period of blind devotion to false kings that I feel, by contrast, the wild freedom of serving my true King! I praise God and his INFINITE Wisdom!



Things that have to be said far too often in our home:

1. There is no such thing as "I was gonna."

As in, I was gonna play with that toy. I was gonna sit there. And so on...

If you aren't holding it, then you aren't playing with it. If your butt isn't in it, then it's not your seat.

(This one really pisses the kids off.)

2. I don't want to hear "Okay!" I want to see your body doing what I asked you to do.

This is usually followed by an exasperated "OKAY!" and no motion.

They really don't get it.

3. Don't worry about your brother. You make sure that you are doing what you're supposed to do.

Did I ask you whether or not your brother is brushing his teeth? No. I told you to brush your teeth.

Come on!

4. Please put clothes on your body.

This one seems pretty obvious to me, but I guess it's not. Especially to a 5-year-old boy.

No joke, he came downstairs a couple of weeks ago in nothing but his button-up white school shirt and a pair of black socks.

5. Please speak to me in English.

I do not speak kitty, cheetah, puppy, panda, or Lilish. If you want me to understand what you are saying, then you have to use English words.

Preferably in polite and complete sentences.


Vacation Photos, Part 2

Astride my steed on the Caro-Seuss-al. I've really got to re-think those sunglasses...

After Doug tried to take his own photo 3 times, I finally took pity
on him. Doug is the designated trip photographer because I tend
to get distracted and/or only take photos of strange things (like stray cats and squirrels).

This was a surprisingly fun ride based on The Cat in the Hat. You
rode a couch through the story and it was cute, spin-y, and blessedly air-conditioned.

Hot, sweaty Peelers. The sun was brutal!

The Hulk roller coaster. It was a good one - lots of screaming!

The Hulk car from The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. Not that
either of us has ever seen this movie, but we knew Eli would dig the car.

Wolverine: Is this your first time here?
Doug: Yes.
Wolverine: Are you enjoying it?
Doug: Yes!
Wolverine: Of course you are! I'm here!

There was nothing in the Jurassic Park section of the park that would
not result in us getting very wet, but we couldn't resist a photo of the
jeep. Oddly, there were several kid-geared rides in that section.

The proud sons of Durmstrang. We were headed back to Hogwarts
for one last look and happened upon this show.

The lovely ladies of Beauxbatons Academy. We got another
photo where it looks as though they are all falling over backward.

Puking Pastilles at Zonko's joke shop. Okay, no more Potter photos - I promise!

Transformers 3D ride was awesome! And I love the giant Optimus Prime on the roof!

This is not a great photo, but it was a great ride. Revenge of the
Mummy was my favorite ride, outside of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

Optimus Prime. These costumes were amazing!

Bumblebee. I kind of wanted to take a photo with these guys, but didn't feel like standing in line.

Megatron. It seemed like they had a different bot out there every time we walked by!

We took a rest break in the middle of the day on Monday. Doug had
a little fun with my new toy and my sleeping self - Crookshanks
fell onto my head about 15 seconds after this shot was taken.

That Pesky Dog with The Terminator. The 3D show was just okay, in my opinion.

The Simpsons Ride - this was another surprisingly good one. We liked it well enough that we rode it twice!

Beetlejuice's Graveyard Revue. It was tolerable.

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem/Gru's House. It was a cute ride/show.

Livin' large at the Hard Rock Hotel. Staying on site was most definitely worthwhile!


Vacation Photos, Part 1

Here's how this vacation breaks down for me:
1. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
2. Everything Else
So that's how I'm going to approach photos. Tonight it will be Potter-y photos and tomorrow night will be everything else.
The entrance to Hogsmeade. Bliss began here.

Peelers posing with the Hogwarts Express. They are working
on an actual train that will run between the two parks!

The whole street was enchanting! I had the biggest grin on my face.

Inside the Three Broomsticks. This is the spot where Professor
Slughorn convenes the Slug Club in the movie.

First good view of Hogwarts Castle. I almost fainted.

Hagrid's Hut. This was along the path to the Flight of the Hippogriff coaster.

Doesn't it look real?!? So amazingly well done!

The entrance to Dumbledore's office. I so wanted to duck
under the rail and take a photo inside the wings!

Geeking out in the Owl Post office. Grin, still firmly in place.

The Monster Book of Monsters. It moved and snarled!

Beautiful! The fake snow was the perfect touch.

This was the funny and friendly guy who worked at the entrance
to the Three Broomsticks (which you can see behind us).

Honeydukes. I just realized that I forgot to buy a Chocolate Frog! DOH!

Zonko's joke shop. They even sold Extendable Ears!

Sign for Hogsmeade Station. This was really full of lockers where
you stored loose items while on the Dragon Challenge - a great roller coaster!

Another view of the Hogwarts Express. Looks like it needs a good washing to make it gleam!

Butterbeer cart. The butterbeer and pumpkin juice were both good, but very sweet!

I told Doug that we should move to Orlando so that I could work
somewhere in Hogsmeade. In reality, I want to live there.

The alley behind Dervish & Banges. Just thought it was lovely. :)



Boys and girls must not be rude in play. -- McGuffey Primer

In the car this evening, on the way home from dinner, I started asking Lila random math addition facts. Eli surprised me by spouting a few of his own. Then it got kind of random.

Me: What does Lila plus Eli equal?
Lila: An argument!

There was some discussion of putting Lila + Eli = Argument on a shirt, but I suggested that we should change the equation instead. For example, Lila + Eli = Team. One of the kids changed the subject.

Oh well.



Let us never forget that what we are is more important than what we do. -- Hudson Taylor

Thank goodness, Doug is home! Sometime yesterday afternoon, I ran into a big patch of I Don't Wanna. I didn't even want to bathe when I woke up this morning. (I'm suffering from the knowledge that I'll be on vacation in two days and I want it to start now.) It was only through prayer and obedience that I took care of my responsibilities today and we actually did get most of our school work done. We might have finished entirely, except for a bit of a battle with Lila over handwriting.

I have complete confidence that by the time Eli is in first grade, he will have better handwriting than everyone else in the house. I have terrible handwriting, though it can be mostly legible if I print slowly. Doug has even worse handwriting. My poor daughter is fighting a hard battle against a genetic predisposition toward bad handwriting (if such a thing exists). Unfortunately, for both of us, I suspect that this will be a long-term struggle.

Eli, on the other hand, has great fine motor skills. He's been better than Lila at coloring neatly for at least a year (since he was 4 and she was 7). I would never point that out, but Lila noticed and mentioned it herself. Now he's learning to write and that's looking pretty good too. If good handwriting comes easily to him, I'm pretty sure that Lila is going to be pissed. Being a big sister, she's always on the look-out for things that are "not fair!"



The Un-Cleaners
You may delay, but time will not. -- Poor Richard's Almanack

It seems as though I can never keep all aspects of my life in good working order at the same time. Just when I get a good thing going in one area of my life, I realize that I've let another one fall by the wayside. This time, I've gotten ever so much better at keeping my calendar updated and preparing for homeschool ahead of time, but my house is in shambles! With the disappearance of Summer Free Time, I've lost control of the house cleaning.

As I sit here and type this, I am looking at a living room cluttered with toys, papers, remote controls, pillows, and shoes. And that's just the clutter! I'm afraid to look too closely at the things that need real cleaning. My stove top is starting to look like the diorama of some alien planet! Yesterday, I managed to find five minutes to tidy up the guest room and that felt like a major achievement. I just don't understand how Born Organized people do it!

The one positive thing I can say is this: After a nearly 11-year battle, I have finally defeated the Laundry Monster! I have mastered the One Load Per Day rule and it works! Sometimes I even have to hunt down enough dirty laundry to make a load. I never thought I'd be able to say that.



Sure, they like me. But this guy is their favorite!
No man is poor who has a godly mother. -- Abraham Lincoln

Doug's away at an audio conference (which I believe to be an excuse for audio geeks to get together to drink beer and have jam sessions) and things are going swimmingly. I never worry as much when his travels are within driving distance and only for a few days. It's when he gets on an airplane that I get twitchy. The longer he has to be on the airplane, the more twitchy I get. And the longer he's gone, the more starved for grown-up conversation I get!

But this trip is nearby and only takes him away for three nights, of which this is the second. Yesterday was easy because the kids were at school for most of the day. Today, being a homeschool day, presented a much bigger challenge, so I started off my morning by praying that God would give me a double-dose of patience, since I'd be filling the role of two parents. Lila, Eli, and I were together from waking to bedtime - so many opportunities for conflict!

Thankfully, it was a great day. I was uncommonly flexible. (i tend to get very protective of our schedule and routine on homeschool days.) We were able to get all of our school work done in plenty of time for chores and playtime and a surprise dinner out to Kerbey Lane. The only time I got grouchy was right around bath time. Not much of a surprise. That is my least favorite part of the day because I'm always tired by that point and I don't like getting my hands wet.

(I know. I have issues. This is not news to me.)

Now, if I can just manage to get both kids ready and off to school ON TIME tomorrow morning, then I think it will be smooth sailing until Doug gets home on Thursday!



I just hope they don't do this to their classroom teachers!
School at home is good. -- New England Primer

I am thankful, every day, that we are able to send our kids to Veritas Academy! Seriously. It is a wonderful school and I feel so blessed by them! I was originally planning to exclusively homeschool my kids. It's something I've always wanted to do because I love learning and teaching. I did lots of research and did a little at-home preschool for Lila and a few of her friends.

When I finally decided it was time to pick a Kindergarten curriculum, I freaked out! There are approximately 735 different Kindergarten curricula to choose from. Not to mention all the different pieces you can pick up from here and there, and all the ways that you can homeschool for free. Then there's the matter of what needs to be taught in Kinder and what doesn't, which everyone has a different opinion on. I was on the verge of a total brain meltdown!

Then I saw Veritas mentioned in an email on a homeschooling Yahoo group I was part of. I was intrigued enough to take a closer look. Lo and behold! The school was five minutes from my house, and provided a Classical Christian education in a University Model format. There are entire books written on what each element of that description means, but here's a brief description. What I will tell you is that it was exactly what I was looking for (without even knowing it)!

The kids get to experience a classroom environment on Monday and Wednesday and I get to homeschool them on Tuesday and Thursday. Friday is a Flex Day, which has grand aspirations, but really turns out to be the day that we catch up, run errands, and have doctor's appointments. The curricula are chosen for me and the homework laid out by the classroom teachers. My job is the FUN part - teaching the material! It is the best of both worlds!

What might be the very best part of all, for me, is how very supportive the staff and faculty are. They do everything they can to communicate frequently and clearly. They are happy to answer questions and sit down to discuss concerns. They provide training in how to teach the curricula as well as opportunities to learn how to be a better parent and person. I don't know what the kids would say is the best part of Veritas for them, but I do know that they both love it!

One of my Top 10 Veritas moments: Lila was being a butt one morning (last school year) and took so long to get ready that Doug had to leave for work without taking her to school. That meant that I had to take her to school. Not her favorite choice. She decided that she was not going to put her shoes on and she was not going to school. I calmly explained that going to school was her responsibility and I would be taking here there - shoes or no shoes.

I loaded her up into the car and delivered her to the office. They called the Head of the Grammar School down and I privately explained the situation to her. She said, "Okay, no problem." Then she spoke privately with Lila. I left, knowing she was in good hands. I later found out that Lila was told basically the same thing I had told her - that being in the classroom was her responsibility and that's where she needed to be.

She went through most of the morning with no shoes on, contentedly put them on when the teacher finally asked her to, and all was well. The whole situation could NOT have been handled more gracefully or lovingly and it never happened again.