Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Getting Aquainted- Tear Down (Part II)

 So, we gutted the entire first floor and basement. In fact, at one point there was an 18' hole in the house!

Our contractor finished all of the internal house workings (wiring, plumbing, HVAC) as well as the first floor, which included adding 3' to the original footprint to add a 1/2 bath off the kitchen (giving us a bathroom on all 3 main floors). We moved back into our house the August after the house-fire. It was rough. We had record rains and flooding and for the first time evah, there was water in our basement. Water, and our only working shower. All of our beds were in the living room and we had to wade through 4" of freezing cold water to make it to the shower. Depressing? Yes!
1 sump pumps and flood recession later... Dr. Dh and I, the kids and various mission minded people have come and helped us finish the basement and walls, doors and floors and more. Its' been a huge undertaking.

As we've re-built we've dealt with the death of my Dad (just a year after my Sister died), more pneumonia/ bronchitis and antibiotics than I hope we ever see again, other health maladies (stress, anyone?), a contractor who had much different ideas about what "finished", time and a monetary limits meant,  Dr. Dh's day and side jobs and homeschooling.

I won't lie. It's been exhausting; physically, mentally, spiritually. If I thought that God had ever pushed me hard spiritually before, it's been nothing compared to what the past 3 years have been like. It's been a time of testing, pruning, re-evaluating, questioning and working our heiney's off, as well as dealing with hopes and dreams and beliefs about my family of origin that can no longer come true. It's been a season of grieving what is past, mourning losses, appreciating what we've had and moving on. Oy vey. Words are cheap, living them is the difficult thing.

We moved here, believing that God wanted us here- I'm not sure why. I'm not sure I can tell you how we all knew/believed. But we believe that we were called out to this neglected piece of property to do 4 things:
Looking around, we've participated in making that happen.

(where the hole in the floor used to be)
The fall of the fire we had been memorizing a section of Ecclesiastes. And it seemed a particularly apropos description of what God was doing in our lives. Tearing things down- literally and figuratively- our house, our family, our stuff, to build it up and create something new.
... a time to break down and a time to build up. Ecc. 3:3
So, there you have it. We've torn down this old house- on the inside at least. And we've been building it back up. We still have trim on the 2nd floor and basement to do; the doors, the floor in the basement and finishing out the room in the walk up attic. Plus a zillion little things like finishing functional closets, putting up mirrors in bathrooms and doors and light fixtures and other sundry things that are "simple" but take time. It's still gonna be a while till it's done 'cause we're just 2 people- my husband and I- and getting older, and losing our older kids to adult interests and out of state living, and homeschooling, and showing up for the day job.
Are we glad we stayed, instead of moving on?  We've gained skills- as have our kids- and that has been  worth it. We've actively participated in making something beautiful- beauty for ashes, literally- and that has been worth it. That being said, I've had to constantly refer to what I believe- that we are here, in this time and this place, for this season, for a reason. God has a purpose for all of the challenges, pain, hurt, tears, nausea, loss. And it's good. I don't know what it is yet, particularly, beyond the skills and the beautiful house, and maybe that's all it is. But it's good. I'm trusting in that.
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body." 2 Cor 4:7-10

Linking up with:


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Getting Aquainted part III- Tear Down?

So, what's with the Tear Down to Build Up posts? Well, 3 years ago- almost to the day- October 24- we were burned out of our house. We were in it when it started burning and managed to get everyone, the dogs and the Saxon Alg I math book (?!) safely out. The firemen came, along with 11 big heavy trucks that ran over a mouse, a mole (both found dead and flattened) and left deep trenches in our yard. The house was saved, but declared a total loss by the insurance company.(total loss is determined by bids and percentages- in other words, will the amount paid out by the insurance company cover the cost of the re-build within a pre-determined percentage of the value of the house).

Four days after the fire my 48 year old sister died.
A friend and KB went on a whirlwind shopping spree to get us essentials like undies, p.j.s, pants, shirts and shoes and we went to Ohio for a week to bury my sister. Upon return we lived in a hotel, Dr. Dh had a revolving affair with pneumonia and bronchitis, the kids and I cried and swam in the hotel pool for hours on end, and it was October in the Territories (read, severe weather coming soon to a partially burned house near you!).

The weather created a time crunch. If we were really going to re-build we had to get everything, I mean everything, out of the house. The danger at this point was mold. The 50,000 gallons of water on all of our earthly possessions would mold over the winter and the house would end up condemned. So we and a host of many people spent day after day and a month of week-ends hauling stuff to our very dear friends side-dumper, which then made it's way to the dump. But wait. We had to do a line-item inventory of everything we threw out if we wanted reimbursed by our insurance company. This included item, original cost, depreciation, where purchased, etc. etc. etc. ad nausea; 30 items to a page, 8 sections across.

We spent days in our dark, damp, freezing cold, nauseating house- literally, the smell was sickening, and our task was to sort through water logged, smoke infested things that we had once cared about; books and clothes and photo albums. You know, the stuff from which one creates a life. Those things. We rubber binned things worth saving and dump trucked 85-90% of the rest of the stuff we'd collected over the course of our 24 years of marriage, 5 children and 19 years of homeschooling. The inventory was important for 2 reasons. # 1- to collect content insurance, and #2 to get a tax break for everything that our content insurance did not cover (to the tune of 10's of thousands of dollars). So, as disgusting and heart breaking as it was to do, financially, it was a no-braineAfter lots of deliberation, prayer and getting bids we decided to sell the house as is and find another house. But wait! One more contractor came and gave us a very low bid. If it sounds too good to be true it is, right? But after lots of prayer, days of sleepless nights and more prayer, we decided to re-build.

Stay tuned for Part II..

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The End of Literacy

From "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle"
From "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle"

Friday, October 26, 2012

Toad Hall

Jr. and Sr. High school drawing class. 30 sec to 2 min. quick figure drawing sketch.
drawing from photos that are upside down and drawing their hands without looking. (ala Mona Brooks).
Exercises accompanied by groans and lots and lots of laughs.

Pinned Image
Downton Abby quotes
Finished Season 2 of Downton Abby. I'm in a between-the-wars phase this year with Howatch (The Rich are Different/Sins of the Fathers), Sayers (Lord Peter Wimsey) and now this. Very interesting to me to see the skirts shorten, the attitudes change. Mr. Bates must, of course, get off from the very unjust sentence at the end of the 2nd season. Not that he couldn't have done it, but we like him to much (and Anna more) to see him in prison for life. I say Old Chap, if only Lord Crawley could enlist the service of Lord Wimsey.
damn straight

Started this scarf and ran into a snag. Pulled it out. Re-knit. More snags. Pulled it out. Checked out some YouTubes. Re-knit. Pulled it out. Got some on-line advice from fellow Hivers. Knit. Pulled out. Does anyone see a pattern here? Too bad it's not the one I was trying to knit!
Pinned Image

Just set this up in the shop to put my gardening stuff on...Didn't have to do anything to it! :)
Put this up in garage. This is the pin, not our garage or our pallet, BUT, it does work. Like a charm.

It snowed last night and was cold today. The good news is that the ground is wet after months of dry bones, baby. But still, winter. Bleah.
Our gym is an extension of the local nursing home. Which means it's like 75degrees in there and that you actually might run into an octogenarian on a bike every now and then. I actually thaw out in that room. I foresee spending lots of time there this winter.

School happened along with a Lego League Open House last Saturday and worked a fund raiser with the kids busing tables at a local restaurant on Wednesday evening. Flower had her clay class on Tuesday, Tutoring Center, co-op, Lego League weekly meeting, math, writing, science. All the usual suspects.

Best come-back of the week:
Best come-back of the week!
More laughs here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Clay Class Creation

This is possibly Mz. Z's most enthusiastic student (isn't she a cutie?!).
Creator of one green Frog.
Moniker: Kermit.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

We Share What We've Learned

In the spirit of FLL Core Value #6, "We share what we've learned," our FLL team hosted an open house at the public library!

Team Greeters handed out origami Yoda's, a lollipop an Big Smiles!  

Robotics rock!

Sharing with interested attendees what the game table is about, what the missions are and how the robot runs the missions. We had one mission programmed and an excellent presenter (Way to go, Aidan!) - the kids and parents loved it!

Last years mission table set up. We also let kids who came try their hand at programming a mission!
See the slide on the screen behind the man in the striped shirt? The kids spent the last couple LL meetings working on posters and a power point presentation for the open house. The slide "We have fun!" shows a picture of our group on a field trip, doing research for this year's topic, "Elderly Solutions."

"We love YOU, Random Citizen!"
At the end of the 2 hour open house, everyone was ready to sit down!

During the open house, the library ran a "Creative Creations" Lego Contest, which our team judged, with winners in 3 categories! Best entry of the day, imho, was a gum-ball machine that exchanged a real dime for real gum. Of course, the designer was on a FLL team ; )!
(no pics of the entries- sorry!)

A fun time was had by all!
Way to go "Yoda!"

Friday, October 19, 2012

What We're Watching, Learning, Making, Doing. Et tu?

*What We're Watching*
Footnote Poster
Tried to watch the prez debate on Tuesday but couldn't stream it worth watching. Watched Footnote instead. An interesting family systems movie.  The real worth was the directors interview at the Toronto Film Festival. Fascinating comments on current folklore and traditions in Israel. LOVED the directors story of the inspiration for the film.
Downton Abby Season II is waiting for my at the library. I can scarce belief it 'cause I was #22 on queue 2 weeks ago.

*What We're Learning*
Kids continue to memorize Horatius at the Bridge. Who's he and why do I care? Read this and find out.
Rocking rhyme.

Quiz on Middle East for MP's Geography. Both Flower and Cub came home from TC with 100% on their papers.
Math- Saxon Alg 1/2, MME, Kumon Decimals and Percents, Perplexors.
Latin Copybook- love it.
Famous Men of Greece- just read Odysseus.
Christian Studies IV- 1/3 of the way through Exodus.
WWS- week 29. First paper with footnotes and Reference Page.
Feeche's back in the saddle. Ballroom dancing tonight and a full day tomorrow.
RS German, The Diving Comedy, Poetry Outloud.
 Seems like he's easing back in to Pre-calc and Physics. Imagine that?!

*What We're Making*
Flower is loving (as in it is the absolute highlight of her week loving) her weekly foray in to the world of clay with Miss. Z. Our friend Z is not only a gifted artist with a rocking name (I mean, really, the 2 irl people I've known whose names have started with the letter "Z" have been truly awesome people) but a  lovely person. Flower told me after class that Miss. Z had a "great sense of sarcasm." *snort*. Probably why I love her so much!

The class is at Z's in-home studio which houses a lovely to-die-for kiln (I used to throw pottery years ago and still dig the earthy sights and smells of a pottery studio!), a roller and pots full of incising and cutting tools, a long work table and shelves piled high with works in progress.
Look at those faces- are these happy kids or what?!

And Legos. Feeche came home exhausted from Challenge late on Tuesday evening. He spent the day recuperating from a head cold and lack of sleep by building the day away. You are never too old for Legos. Cub and Flower were only 2 happy to join Big Bro (one of their fav people) by sprawling all over the basement floor with him and building like crazy.

I started a new blog series:
Getting Acquainted Part I- About Me Getting Acquainted Part II- Why Homeschool?
I'll be adding more- loved this idea from Art's Chili Pepper so much I decided to do it too myself!

*What We're Planning*
A Lego League Open House at the library this Saturday. The library said expect 200 people (holy moly!). The team will show a power point they put together, run some of the missions they've programmed, talk about the Core Values of LL and the Yearly Challenge and display exceptional Teamwork.
*What We've Been Doing*
Feeche is back from 2 weeks staff prepping and staffing Challenge.
Courage, Strength, Faith - Winning combo.

*What We're Reading*
Not much. I hit my head- HARD  last Saturday and am finally thinking straight again. Oy vey.
Feeches reading more Redwall to the kiddos; the never ending saga.
 God bless Brian Jaques and his loquacious little hide.
*What We are Gateful For*
Feeche's safe travels, fun trip, great stories.
KB's fun and not over yet vacation in Kentucky and Ohio.  She'll be flying the friendly skies on Saturday.
The walk and retaining wall are DONE (loving it!) and some doors are UP on the 2nd floor!
I have hope of closets and trim! And since our latest purchase was a table saw, it could happen s.o.o.n.
Booyah, baby!

And while the wind was wicked enough to blow out a back window in our van (Yes, you read that right- NOAA described the wind that night as "slightly breezy- um, right), the tramp remained secure thanks to bulldog chaining it to the old metal clothesline.
So, bloggy buddies. What's up with you this week?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Getting Aquantined Part II - Why Homeschool

We've homescooled for awhile now (22 years this year) and it has defined a large part of our family life. Why homeschool? I always knew that if I ever had kids I would seek out an alternative to public education for them. I moved every 2 years as a child and being shy (which I was, no lie), this was painfully difficult. I was always the new kid, always the outsider and I missed vast amounts of information. Plus, school just wasn't that interesting. Maybe it seemed that way because I spent so much time wondering what we were talking about (did I mention I missed out on a lot by moving?) I compensated by doing things I thought were interesting. I read. A lot. In high school I sang in choirs, played in bands, threw pottery, studied photography, played tennis, swam on teams, held jobs, and read thousands of words and hundreds of books. And worked. I learned a lot, but not necessarily in the traditional expected ways.

We started homeschooling in southern California when our oldest was 5. We didn't have to register our kids untill they were 7 and we knew that by the time our oldest would be 7 we would have finished the part of grad school that required CA residency and moved somewhere else. Which is exactly what happened. The CA schools that we visited had issues. I won't bore you with the details but they covered the gamut from academic to social. We figured we could handle phonics instruction. Which we did (thanks Samuel Blumenfeld- LOVE AlphaPhoncis!).
From there we spent a year in Ohio, knowing that the military would move us again in a year. Which they did. We believed that homeschooling for the interim year would provide more consistancy than enrolling and de-enrolling once we moved. We spent the year hanging out with friends from college, family and taking care of our very sick newborn. Dr. Dh's internship cooked his grits time and energy wise so we didn't see him as much as we would have liked but we had a lot of fun going on field trips, reading books and being close to the people we loved.

After that we landed in NM. Home of abysmal test scores and the drug corridor of the west. By the time we'd left Ohio I joked that we were in a rut, which is why we continued to homeschool. Sadly, folks failed to laugh at my droll and dry wit, so I quit joking about it. The fact of the matter is that homeschooling had become a life-style for us. My husband and I are committed to education and sharing our faith with our kids and believed that a private educational model, specifically tutoring , delivered by invested, caring adults was the way to go. Homeschooling was the way that we could do this affordably.

It hasn't been all joyful educational pursuit. We've birthed strong-willed kids, changed locations and social support a couple of times and had our share of challenges. Yet we continue to homeschool. Why? For us, it boils down to a couple of simple things.

A. Education. Our kids are getting a solid education. Is it perfect? No. Are there gaps? Yes. Is that normal. I think so. Do we continue to hone and improve what we do? Yes.
B. Faith. Our kids are committed to their faith and have years to refine, define and own it before the world and peers, and a whole host of other voices come along to batter and beat it into something almost Christan. Our kids leave our home with a solid understanding of the history of the church, the importance and personhood of Jesus and a glimpse at how imperfect people attempt to live a live of vibrant faith. Is it perfect? No. Do we fail? Yes. Is that normal. I know so.
C. Family. It's a busy world. We've had hours to spend together, playing, reading, learning, building, re-modeling, cooking, gardening, arguing and laughing together. The good side of that is that everybody really knows each other. The downside of this is that everybody really knows each other. Is it perfect? No. Do we get on each others nerves. You betcha'.

That's not to say that we'll always homeschool. Honestly, if I had a classical UMS around, my kids would be enrolled so fast their heads would spin. But that's not now, where we live. So, we continue to homeschool. We continue to believe that it's the best choice for our kids and our family for now. And it continues to address some core values of ours in ways that nothing else does.

How 'bout you? How do you school?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Before and After Doors and Hinges

Just another never ending project -the 2nd floor doors. We kept the originals, but sanded, stained and polyurethaned them. The hings and screws were brass plated but didn't stand up to tough scrubbing, like the knobs and plates did 'cuase they my friend are the real brass McCoy (see here).

Enter spray paint, baby.
Sticking everything upright in styrofoam was my brilliant idea. Clever, eh?
Dark metallic brown.

We did 2-tone on the doors. A light color on the main area of the door and the dark espresso stain on the detailed trim. The reason for this is that we did not want to spend the rest of our lives sanding detailed trim work. Picky, I know, but we still have the stairs to do. We have burned out 4 sanders already. Including a belt sander. The hardware guy at Sears was duly impressed.

Still a few touch-up spots to do.

And here is the overall effect. The kick boards and wood trim are next.
We bought a table saw last week-end so it's really going to happen...
Get more inspiration at:

http://kammyskorner.blogspot.com/"> src="http://i1046.photobucket.com/albums/b463/heatherbrandt/KammyKornerbutton.jpg" border="0" alt="Photobucket" />

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Who's Horatius and Why Do I Care?

image from Roman History

If you haven't heard of Horatius at the Bridge yet, you are missing out. He was an ancient world hero who defied death and unbelievable odds.

Cub and Flower are memorizing the 70 stanza poem this year for fun. Not really. I mean, they are memorizing it. But I'm not sure they own the fun part yet. I am exercising my rights as PaxRoMomma and making them do it whether they want to or not. Latin Highlands School introduces Horatius to their 5th graders and those who memorize the entire poem are awarded the prestigious "Churchill Award." (cause Churchill did it too. I figured if it's good enough for the British Bulldog, it's good enough for us). In other words, it's all for their own good.

The Lays of Ancient Rome are five ballads written by the Englishman, Thomas Babington Macaulay, and published in 1842. Horatius is the most famous of the ballads and consists of 70 stanzas.

Which leads us to "who cares." Seriously. Why have the kids memorize ancient history, an event that is hardly remembered and full of difficult vocab and places long forgotten. Here's why.

A. It teaches them history.
B. It teaches them vocabulary.
C. It teaches them geography.
D. It teaches them pronunciation of difficult words.
E. It teaches them presentation skills (such as slowing down, over pronunciation, over learning, etc).
F. It teaches them rhyme and meter.
G. It teaches them about the hero's of the past who exhibited character qualities such as courage, bravery and valor.
H. It teaches them that politics, events and decisions made last long past the people who made them.
I. It teaches them to stretch their brain, demand more of themselves than they think possible.
J. It teaches them the joy of ownership (cause once they've memorized something nobody can take that away).
K. It teaches them perseverance. Because believe me, they want to give up on this daunting task about every.single.week.
L. It teaches them to continue to exercise their mental muscles. They done lots of poetry memorization in the past. They watch Feeche and friends perform an entire Shakespeare play once each summer (average length -2 hours). M. They want to make me happy.
N. They want to earn the toy they've been promised once they complete the poem.
See how nice I am? I've committed to getting them the toy of their choice (within a specific amount) if they do in fact complete it. And I'll be vlogging it as well (now that is motivation for my little Hams!).

Horatius? We'd heard of him before, 'casue we're passionate about history too. This year, we're getting to know him on a whole new level!