Wednesday, February 23, 2011

I know that I have life
only insofar as I have love.
I have no love
except it come from Thee.
Help me, please, to carry
this candle against the wind.
  ~Wendell Berry, Sabbaths, 2005

Help me, please, to carry
this candle against the wind.
What a beautiful image. 
What a painfully beautiful image. 
What an image of grief, of fortitude, of determination, of grit.
What an image of faith. 
Tonight, as I write, I see myself in this image. 
I have been asking God to make the wind go away. 
My prayer has been
Help me, please,
and take away this wind.
I fight the wind so many ways. 
Sometimes, I hunker down behind a rock and try to avoid the wind.  But somehow, the wind always shifts.  It always finds me in my hiding place.
Sometimes, I angrily strike out into the wind, fighting against it, floundering around blindly in its merciless tempest.
Sometimes, I give up and give in to the wind.  I let the gales sweep over me and toss me about, bruising me, slicing me, blinding me.
No matter how hard I try, no matter what I do, the wind is still there. 
And I am so tired.
I'm tired of the hiding, of the anger, of the giving up.
And so tonight I stand here, at this fork in the road, with the wind whipping my spirit and beating mercilessly at my soul.
I have life.
I have love.
I have a candle.
Help me, please, to carry
this candle against the wind.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Kid Scoop--TOS Review

Do you have a kiddo who is not-too-thrilled about "reading time" every day? 
Do you wish you had a little "extra something" to supplement your reading program that just might get your reluctant reader excited about reading?
If so, then Kid Scoop's Reluctant Reader Solution might be just what you need to help your grumpy reader turn into a grinning one. 

Thankfully, I don't have a reluctant reader.  However, I do have a little girl who craves variety, so this program was a fun supplement for us to try.  According to their website, The Kid Scoop Reluctant Reader Solution is a program "designed to expand your child's horizons, jump-start their curiosity about topics they didn't even know they were interested in, and exercise different areas of their brain through age-appropriate puzzles, games, stories, and much more. The Reluctant Reader Solution comes in two parts: one online and the other offline."

The online portion includes games, puzzles, reading material, and links that generate interest in the topics presented, which are often related to the current season and holidays.  Here is an example of Kid Scoop online:

Personally, we were more impressed with the worksheets from Kid Scoop. These worksheets are designed as a fun 5-7 page "newspaper" on topics ranging from fitness to gorillas to budgeting to Louisa May Alcott to Memorial Day to…I think you get the picture. You can either go through the newspapers chronologically or by theme. We have done both. On Monday, for example, we read the “Valentine Fitness” newspaper. Amelie read about how to keep her heart healthy, enjoyed a word search, and we played an activity game that got our healthy hearts pumping.

When you purchase Kid Scoop, you get 365 of these fantastic worksheets. I am especially looking forward to using these newspapers over the summer when we are taking a break from school but still need a fun boost to keep her brain from going stagnant in the heat. :)

At first, I was a little put off by the $97 price tag. But once I dove into this program and realized the wealth of information, games, and projects that were right at my fingertips (i.e., I wouldn’t have to spend hours scouring the internet, as I am apt to do), I realized that $97 is a steal. Plus, you can try this product completely risk-free, as it comes with a 365 unconditional, money-back guarantee. I am pretty sure that they can offer such a guarantee because once you make the purchase, I am almost convinced you will be hooked.

If you would like to see what my other crewmates are saying about this product, you can check out their reviews here.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was provided a free copy of this product for my honest evaluation. I was given no other compensation for this review.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Music in Me

Lately, I have given into music.  Sometimes I have to take a break from music for awhile, because I can get so incredibly sucked into it that I am incapable of functioning beyond listening to the same song or the same group over and over and over. 
And over and over and over. 
And over and over and over. 
This drives Matt crazy sometimes, although he tries to be a good sport about it.
The kids don't seem to mind.
So, lately, I've let music consume me.  It started out with the innocent purchase of Ingrid Michaelson's album Everybody.  I had heard the song "Everybody" on Pandora's folk station, and I liked it.  Then I listened to more of her songs.  And I got hooked.  Like............really hooked.  I spent at least a month absolutely obsessed with this album, and, specifically, the song "The Chain."  I don't know what it is about this song, but I can't stop listening to it.  It's the lyrics. It's the voice.  It's the piano.  It's the harmony.  I'm a girl obsessed. 

Then, a little over a week ago, I got the new album by The Civil Wars in the mail.  I had a feeling I would again fall in love.  And again, I was right.  How could I not?
These two like Faulkner.
They read O'Connor. 
She plays the piano. 
He plays the guitar.
Their harmony does something inside of me that I just can't explain.  My favorites on this album change by the day, but I have fallen especially hard for the song "Poison and Wine."  Again, it's the lyrics.  It's the voices.  It's the piano and guitar.  It's the harmony. 

Then there was that phase of listening to every recorded version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah." 

A few months ago I discovered the group Gungor.  During that phase, I listened to "Beautiful Things" over and over and over again.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, a good friend posted Gungor singing "The Earth Is Yours"  in the forest.  I like it when people play and sing in the forest, especially when they are incredible musicians.  

And, although I've already posted this video, February isn't February without me literally drowning in Dar Williams.

I've had lots of Dar Williams obsessive moments.  I've been obsessed with "If I Wrote You," "The One Who Knows," "Iowa," "When I Was a Boy," "After All," and "Empire."  I'm sure there are more.  

So do you get obsessed with music?  Whom do you love?  Whom can you just not stop listening to?  What is it about music that fills us with longing and love and ache and joy? 
I don't understand it, but if you drive by my house and hear me harmonizing or see me dancing in my living room, you'll know that yet again I have given into the...whatever it is...about music that nourishes some intense craving in my soul.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Curiosity Files: Zombie Fire Ants--TOS Review

We are in a bit of a homeschool transition in our house, which you know if you have been following my blog.  :)  Part of my frustration with our curriculum, which I still do love, is that there is little wiggle room for jumping off the schedule for a bit and exploring something new and different.  I don't know about you--but at this time of year, as we are buried under snow, bundled up in layers, and begging Spring to add a little green to the bleak landscape--I NEED to mix things up a bit. 

This was such a fun unit study!  Our Zombie Fire Ants study is part of a larger group of unit studies  for children ages 8-13 called The Curiosity Files, which are explorations with Professor Ana Lyze (ha ha. so clever.).  There are nine different study options in this group.  In addition to learning about zombie fire ants, students can also learn about blue diamonds, dung beetles, MRSA, puffer fish, red tide, the blue-footed booby, the cicada killing wasp, and quicksand

We chose the to review the Zombie Fire Ant unit because Amélie's nana grew up in Georgia, and we have heard her stories of being bitten by fire ants.  We thought we could learn maybe learn some things about fire ants that might teach nana a thing or two, and we were right.  :)  Amélie had a lot of fun calling her and telling about these amazing, yet disturbing, creatures. 

As the website indicates, this Zombie Fire Ant study included the following components:
•Bible study, discussion ideas, and memory verses
•Math, history, and geography investigations
•Literature and suggested book list
•Writing, spelling, and vocabulary activities
•Beautiful copywork pages (manuscript and cursive)
•Science observations, projects, and experiments
•Discussion questions
•Art, crafts, and drawing and coloring pages
•Lapbook/notebook pages and helpful lapbooking links
•Special needs, hands-on discoveries
•Internet resource and video links
•Complete answer key

We especially enjoyed learning about the zombie fire ants from the introductory "Everything You Never Wanted to Know about Zombie Fire Ants" section, and then, using the links provided, we learned about even MORE zombie creatures, which was just ...incredible (and incredibly disgusting!!!).  We had fun with art projects, tasty treats (especially a very "hands-on" snack called Ants in the Sand!), math problems, and music.  We truly loved this unit study, and I think we might just have to sample more of Professor Ana Lyze and her Curiosity Files. 

There are several purchasing options for you if you are interested in trying out these unit studies.  If you are interested in all of explorations with Professor Ana Lyze, you can buy a 9-Pack CD-Rom bundle for $49.00 or the 9-pack of e-books for $46.00.  You can also purchase each unit study individually.  If you would like to take a sneak peek before you buy, you can check out this link for a free sample of each unit!

I would highly recommend this product for a fun and educational unit study. I promise your kids won't get "antsy" while they are learning. :)

If you would like to see what my other crewmates are saying about this product, you can check out their reviews here.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was provided a free copy of this product for my honest evaluation. I was given no other compensation for this review.

Thursday, February 10, 2011


"And February was so long that it lasted into March
And found us walking a path alone together.
You stopped and pointed, and you said, 'That's a crocus.'
And I said, 'What's a crocus?'
And you said, 'It's a flower.'
I tried to remember, but I said, 'What's a flower?'
You said, 'I still love you.'"
        ~Dar Williams

Monday, February 7, 2011

just random

I have felt like I can't write another blog post until I respond to everyone's comments on my last post, which were kind and lovely and ever-so-helpful.  I never responded to everyone, of course, so then I never wrote a blog post. 
I'm going to get to that..........soon.
So, if you commented on my blog or my desperate facebook status message, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  You saved my sanity and propelled me on a path that is going to work for us, I think.
Insert HUGE sigh of relief here:

So what's new? 
I think of things to blog about all of the time, but now that I sit here, at 10:03 p.m., tired and absolutely brain-dead, I have nothing to say.  So...I'll ramble.

Tonight as we were getting the kids ready for bed Jack asked me, "Mama, are your eyes tired?" 
Is that kid really 3 1/2?  I think he is a bit of an old soul.
...and also a lovable but absolutely maddening 3-year-old who tries 
and then some...

Today while the dogs were outside Leia ran under Molly.
While she was pooping.
And it was kinda runny, if you must know.
And it was all over Leia.
And it was naptime for Jack.
But I had to give Leia a bath. 
I was not happy.  Oh, I was NOT HAPPY. 
But Leia got clean.
And then I tried to get Jack to settle down for 50 minutes.
And then I walked downstairs thinking he was settled and asleep.
And 1 minute later he was up.
Yet again, I was not happy.

Late this afternoon we had a playdate, though, which was nice.  Last week we met some new neighbors.  I wish they had a daughter Amélie's age, but they do have a son close to Jack's age and a younger daughter.  As we were talking, she asked me if I had a job.  I told her I was a birth doula.  Her eyes grew wide.  She looked, as Amélie keeps telling me, "astonished."  She told me she was looking for a doula!  How cool is that?  So today they came over and we talked about kids and backyard chickens and Star Wars and church and birth.  It was lovely!  She is definitely the type of neighbor I could call some morning if I were out of coffee, and I could show up at her house in my robe and tousled hair, and she would hand me some coffee and not think less of me for noting my smudged mascara and knowing that I hadn't washed my face the night before.  It is good, ever so good, to have people like this in one's life, especially as neighbors. 

This morning I had an appointment with Dr. Jill, my acupuncturist.  After our session was over and I was pulling on my socks and stuffing my feet into my boots, she asked me if I had a lot on my mind.  Well, yes, actually I did.
But how did she know that?
I really don't know.  She kind of explained it to me, but I think I was so stunned that I didn't follow what she said very well. 
Somehow, though, she knew I had a lot on my mind, because she somehow knew she needed to stick three needles in my head rather than the usual one. 
How does she do that?
It's magic. 

Amélie and I went to a slumber party on Friday night!  I can't remember the last time I went to a slumber party.  Amélie's friend was having her 8th birthday party, and I just happen to adore Lindsey, the mama of that 8-year-old, and so I was invited to spend the night, too.  It was so wonderful!  When I spend time with Lindsey, my soul breathes a sigh of relief.  I am thankful for her.  She, too, is the type of friend who would not judge me for not washing my face at night and for not being prepared and running out of coffee, but she, alas, lives too far South these days.  Sadness.  Such sadness.  I am happy for them and their lovely home but selfishly sad for me. 

On Saturday night we went to a ROLLER DERBY!  It was so incredibly fun!  I had no idea how fun a roller derby could be!  It's this whole other culture, and people get so into it, but I can see why.  We had fun!  (OK, we sort of had fun.  Jack was a bit of a mess.  Per usual.)

Have I rambled enough?
I'm tired.  I have tired eyes, remember?  My little boy says so.
Good night.