Archive for March, 2008

The “joys” of multi-tasking

This morning, I found myself trying to do too many things at once and doing few of them well.  Sometime when you are bored, try this on for size:

First, write a four-page draft of an important letter for your  ministry board.  While doing that at your desk on the second floor, keep your eight-year-old going on his breakfast clean up (first floor).

Next, while making cornbread for your supper’s Tex-Mex salad, oversee your eight-year old’s piano practice.  Remember to get your husband’s tax returns out to the mailbox before the mail carrier arrives.

Deal with your eight-year-old’s attitude about his gymnastics class and his breakfast clean up.

Once the cornbread is in the oven, go look for the (NEW!) timer that you just set on the kitchen counter two days ago – and labeled “KITCHEN” – to replace the one that used to be there but now is evidently lost.  When you can’t find it, go ask your sixteen-year-old (who is known for being able to find absolutely anything) to help you look for it.

Meanwhile, explain and assign a brief bit of theory work to your budding eight-year-old pianist.

Ask your fourteen-year-old to also help look for the missing timer.  Rejoice greatly when said fourteen-year-old announces that he knows exactly where it is and proceeds to pluck it out of the snack basket on top of the refrigerator.  Mentally and verbally note that this in not an intuitive place to store a kitchen timer.  Place timer on stove.

Return to your desk to try to update your blog.  While at your desk, listen to your eight-year-old holler that he is done with his theory and instruct him to come up and start his math.  Try to return your focus to your blog.  Realize it’s pointless when said eight-year-old hollers from the bottom of the steps that your cornbread burning.  Holler back for him to take it out, race down the stairs, enter kitchen and find eight-year-old staring at a perfect pan of golden brown cornbread.  Remove it from the oven and attempt to kick yourself (no can do; not sufficiently flexible) for merely positioning the re-located timer correctly and not remembering to set it.

Explain grammar lesson to fourteen-year-old and get him started on that.  Listen to eight-tear-old wail that he can’t do his math because fourteen-year-old is sitting in his chair.  Provide pencil for eight-year-old to sharpen while he awaits his chair.  Label family copy of “The Metamorphosis” before reshelving.

Sixteen-year-old announces that she and fourteen-year-old need colored pencils in order to do their science experiment, and do you have any.  Yes, but. . . you’d really rather not have fourteen-year-old grind them to a pulp in the sharpener.  Consider how to explain this to sixteen-year-old.  Eight year-old volunteers his colored pencils (whew!) and goes off to find them.  Wonder whether he really owns any colored pencils or if this is just a ploy to delay the inevitable math.  Suggest to fourteen-year-old (now done with grammar worksheet) that he fold his laundry while he waits for eight-year-old to locate and hand necessary colored pencils over to fourteen-year-old, thus allowing biology experiment to begin.

Wonder if there’s something else essential that you are supposed to be doing but have forgotten.  Wonder if seventeen-year-old is awake or could help with anything that needs to be done.  Wonder if you could figure out anything for her to do if indeed she were awake.

Wonder how on earth those one-room schoolhouse teachers maintained their sanity with 40 kids aged 6 to 18.  Maybe they didn’t.

A better day

Thank you, God, for a good night’s sleep last night.  I am a much happier person when I’ve slept well.  Scott is a happy person no matter how much or how little sleep he gets, but that part of him has not rubbed off on me yet.

Pastor Rick Cochran had a great message on reconciliation this morning.  I think our whole family (that heard it; Andrew was in Kidz church) was impacted by it.

This evening for our family time, we played Swap (a card game) and The Name on the Back game.  This is where each person has a card taped onto his back that has the name of a person – real or fictional, historic or contemporary – and each person has to ask yes or no questions to guess who he is.

Andrew:  Buzz Light Year (from Toy Story) – He needed LOTS of hints to get that one.

Josiah:  Miss Wormwood (from Calvin and Hobbes) – He also needed some help.

Jessica:  Inspector Lestrade (from Sherlock Holmes) – She eventually got it.

Katie:   Robin (Batman’s sidekick) – totally unfair because she’s never even seen that show!

Patty:  Emperor Nero – I got it, but we all realized that real people are a lot easier than fictional ones.

Scott:  The Wicked Witch of the West – I nearly stumped the chump.  He used a LOT of questions and eventually got to Mary Poppins, but it took some hints to get him to The White Witch in the Chronicles of Narnia and then on to that melting woman.


I am tired of difficult nights and challenging days. I am hopeful that tonight and tomorrow will be better. Maybe I can blame it all on hormones or something. My big bummer is that my camera seems to be damaged beyond repair, and that is very disappointing to me. I will plan to buy a new one when I can, but in the meantime, it’s been one heck of a cold, windy, rainy, tough day.

The bright light today was the big kids’ AIM presentation in the saloon at Silver Dollar City. They did a 40-minute show and I thought it was great. They were there as part of Young Christians Weekend at SDC, and despite the nasty weather, there were a LOT of groups of young people out there.

One little-known factoid: Katie acted on stage! Yes, that would be the same Katie who adamantly refuses to be on stage for any reason. The very one. She was a “plant,” and she pulled off her part quite well.

All in all, it was a fun and motivating program to watch. I’m really proud of all three of them.

It’s been a rugged day, but it will eventually come to an end, right?

It’s been Andrew and me ALL DAY, and he has been horrid until about thirty minutes ago (4:15 PM).  In addition, I have been terribly unfocused today and I have gotten nothing done.  I hate days like this.

I need to go rotate the sheets and towels laundry and put my bed back together.  And hang some bedding out and bring other bedding in.  And finish washing the dishes.  And record homeschool hours.  And check Andrew’s math.  And so on.

But at midnight, this day will end!

Transition accomplished, I think

When the YMCA canceled yet another gymnastics class last week without telling me, I got fed up.  I called all over and tried to find another gym for Andrew, only to learn that our options were:  the YMCA in Hollister, Springfield Gymnastics (on the north side of Springfield), or a place called Monarch Gymnastics off Rinehart Road (a mere seven-and-a-half miles from home).

Since I knew the Y wasn’t having classes last Thursday – both the Monday and Thursday classes had been canceled due to Branson schools’ spring break – I took Andrew to Monarch on Thursday.  I did that even though the Y called to say that there would be class on Thursday.  We just skipped it.

Andrew was NOT impressed with Monarch, but I was.  I liked the friendlier atmosphere.  I liked that the owner remembered our names.  I liked that the kids working out were, for the most part, smiling and seemed to be having a good time.  I liked that the guy who worked with Andrew’s class (which, by the way was MUCH too remedial for Andrew) took time to work with Andrew personally on his trampoline back handspring, and I liked the fact that Andrew made more progress on his technique in those focused fifteen minutes than he’d made in two months at the Y.

Andrew didn’t like Andrew (his teacher), missed his “friends” at the Y, didn’t like the lighting at Monarch, and in fact “hated Monarch.”  Lovely.

We called Noelle (owner of Monarch) and explained our situation.  She said that Andrew (the teacher) and Mark (the boys’ team coach) had been watching our Andrew during his class and they both agreed that he had competitive team potential.  Mark wanted him to come Monday during the team’s three-hour practice, so he could work with him.

Scott broke that news to Andrew this morning, and let’s just say that it wasn’t a pretty picture and two rounds of green chair hugs were required.  Before breakfast.

So this afternoon at 4:30, we returned to Monarch.  It was a long and exhausting three hours for Andrew.  There are about four other boys on the team, but only the top two of them work out on Mondays.  Chantry (11) and Buster (12) both medaled in the junior olympics for the state of Missouri last month.  They would out Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays.  I think the other two guys only do Tuesdays and Fridays.

Andrew was not nearly up to these guys’ levels, but he held his own through the practice.  Mark worked with him on a number of things and later told me he was impressed with how focused Andrew was, how well he listened and followed instructions, and how strong and controlled he was.  (Insert proud mom smiley here along with a note that we’d like to see some of those things at home, too.)

Afterwards, Andrew told his sisters all about it, adding that he “loves Monarch.”  Whew!  I think we may be over this transitional hump.  Monarch has not charged us for the five hours he’s been there so far, but I think I can now pay the fees for the first four weeks and we can plan on his being there on Mondays from 4:30 to 7:30.

I find this interesting

Our children are involved in a discipleship/mime ministry (AIM).  The boys on the team range in age from 11 to 17.  Here are their names:

John, Jarek, Josiah, Joshua, Jonathan, and Jacob.

There are also two adult male leaders:

Jory and Jorge.

Isn’t it odd that all eight of their names (and they come from a total of seven different families) start with J?!?!

God willin’ and the creek don’t rise

Oh three one eight oh eight. A day that will live in infamy in Walnut Shade. It’s the day the water came higher than it’s ever been in the eleven-and-a-half years we’re lived here.

We thought it was high in ’04, when we stood on the new bridge and realized that it might come high enough to have flooded the old one. There have been some other heavy rains since then, but nothing like Tuesday.

It had rained heavily most of the night before, and when I got up, the creek (Bear) behind the neighbor’s barn was really whipping along with whitecaps. I didn’t think too much of that, but by noon, we could see the intersection of the two creeks (Bear and Bull) behind the horse pasture. That intersection is probably a half mile away and down behind trees. We can’t ever see it from the house.

Rained continued throughout the day, and when the water in Bull Creek was high enough at the bridge that we could see if from the house, the boys went down to check things out. The creek was a raging torrent, fully up over Blansit Road, and higher against the bridge piers than we had ever seen it. They chased an armadillo and got too close to the water for my peace of mind.

Late in the afternoon, the creek intersection began moving toward us across the horse pasture. Their land is actually fenced off into three different pastures, and the far one was totally submerged. Farthest from us, that family has a VERY nice mansion of a house, built right along the creek. Next is a small log house beside with a deck on the back that’s over the creek. Closest to us is the old barn.

While I cooked supper, the water got closer and closer to the barn. It was only a few feet away. From our vantage point, the big house seemed to be threatened as well. Scott and the boys went over to see if they needed any help to move things, etc. It turns out that the big house is actually built up some and still had about a five foot drop to the raging muddy creek, but the water was only about three feet below the deck of the cabin (and hence the floor of the cabin). I’d guess there’s usually a 10 foot drop there.

Even though the rain continued into the evening, all was well. By yesterday morning, the creek was back down in its banks, although still VERY high and fast. Off an on all day people stopped at the restaurant and even on the bridge to take pictures. We are all thankful that no one was hurt and no property damaged, but to tell the truth, it was exciting to watch that water rise.

Clean sweep

Katie competed in the southwest Missouri regional contest of History Day this past Saturday. This is the fourth year that she entered a paper in the “senior papers” category.

Each year, the students with the top three papers in the region are invited to attend SW MO History Day. Those three students are also invited to enter their papers in the statewide History Day contest. I think there are nine regions in Missouri, and the top six papers in the state are invited to Columbia to compete. Of those, #1 goes on to Nationals and #2 is an alternate.

In the past three years, Katie’s paper has been #1 in the SW MO region, and she has scored #6, #4, and #3 in the state. On Saturday, Katie’s paper on Prudence Crandall received 1st place in the region, and she will submit it to State. We hope she will do very well at State, but regardless of what happens there, she has made a clean sweep of SW MO four years in a row!

There are probably some students who are VERY glad that Katie is graduating this year. . . = )

Sure signs of spring

First, the tulip and daffodils push up through the flower bed and yard, respectively. (almost three weeks ago)

Second, we experience The Invasion of the Ladybugs.  They show up on the kitchen ceiling, then on and around the kitchen windowsill, and finally in the boys’ bathroom.  I actually like ladybugs, so having a dozen or so visit me each spring is not bothersome.  (over two weeks ago)

Second, the spring peepers start peeping loudly at dusk. (last Wednesday)

Third, the forsythia next to the smokehouse pushes out its first yellow bud. (It wasn’t there last night, but it’s blooming – all alone – this morning.)

Fourth, the daffodils on the east side of the sidewalk actually bloom.   We don’t know why the west side daffodils a mere four feet away always bloom later or not at all.  (Today!)

So spring is on the way, even though, once again, we didn’t have much in the way of winter. Soon we’ll have balmy breezes, the cliff swallows will begin nesting under the bridge, and before we know it, the Bradford Pear will be in full bloom.

I love spring! It’s also my favorite time for nature photography, but it will require careful planning for me to slice out the time to do that. Between AIM (big three), gymnastics (Andrew), piano lessons (Jessica, Andrew, and I), Boy Scouts (Josiah), basketball (Scott), ministry board meeting (Scott and I), Jessica’s babysitting, Katie’s never-ending award ceremonies, and camera (Josiah and I) and nursery (Jessica) volunteering at church, there’s only one day left this month with a blank calendar box.

Pop! Goes the ankle

Jessica and Josiah were at an AIM service project in Rockaway Beach.  They were raking a lady’s yard.  Jessica ran across the driveway to another part of the yard and landed sideways on her right ankle.  She said it made a loud pop or crack and the pain was excruciating.

Katie had taken the Toyota to Springfield that morning for her regional History Day competition.  I had driven up in the Honda to be with her for the awards ceremony that afternoon.

Jessica had driven the van to Rockaway Beach – sort of.  She was supposed to pick up three other AIM siblings on her way, but when she got to their house, she remembered that she couldn’t legally drive more than one non family member under the age of nineteen until she’s had her license for six months – and she’s only had it for four.  Ugh.

So the mom, Teresa, took them all down to Rockaway in our van and took the van back to her house, planning to return to pick them all up a few hours later.

All that meant that when Scott got the call that Jessica had injured her ankle, he was at home with no vehicle.  Teresa had to use our van to come get him and Andrew, Scott dropped her back at home and then went to get Jessica.  He took her to urgent care, they did three X-rays, deemed it not broken, prescribed ten days of an anti-inflammatory, twice daily hot/cold water soaks for forty minutes, a few exercises, and said she could walk on it as soon as she could.

Jessica is getting around pretty well.  She can put some weight on it, but only if she holds the ankle very stiff.  She’s keeping in wrapped in an ace bandage, and we set up buckets in the living room so she can soak in relative comfort.

She hobbled into church on Scott’s arm today, and tonight AIM is doing a presentation at a homeless shelter in Springfield.  She cannot present, so Tess (leader) will don makeup and do her parts.  However, she went – wouldn’t have missed it – and will do some videotaping and other support stuff.

I am VERY thankful the ankle is not broken and also that Jessica has stayed in such good spirits through it all.

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