Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Because I love him...

Marriage is about sacrifice, right?

I may not always do a great job of putting my husband's needs above my own, but I proved this week that when it comes to the

really important things in life,

I'll do anything to show my honey how much I love him.

On Sunday, May 23rd, at 6:00 pm CST, I did not watch the final (as in EVER!) episode of this:

I started watching LOST five years ago. We were still living in Chicago at the time. Actually, the kids and I were living in Chicago at the time. Marc had moved back to the Blue House (you'll have to read here for that whole story) in January to start a new job. He commuted back to Chicago every weekend for six months. The kids were young, and I was tired. So tired that every night I would get those kids in bed by 7:00. Not as in "Hey kids, it's seven. Time for bed." No, we finished our last book, said our prayers, sang our last song, and kissed good-night -- all before 7:00! Most nights I'd spend my alone time on the computer or working on my Bible study lesson, but one summer night I turned on the TV and started watching this show about a plane that crashed on an island. I recognized that it was the hit show LOST I had read about in the paper -- they were replaying the first season through the summer months. I was hooked almost immediately. Every week I couldn't wait for a new (repeat) episode. Every night when I talked to Marc on the phone, I'd tell him how much he'd love this show.

"It has just enough of a science fiction twist for you. Polar bears on a tropical island, Honey!"

He was not convinced.

When our family was finally reunited at the Blue House, I bought the DVD set of the first season and I begged him to watch it with me. I couldn't believe how much he did not want to watch it. It's not like his standards for television or movies are that lofty, but he had it in his head he was not going to like it. But he finally caved, and it was just like the old Life cereal commercials.

He likes it! Hey, Mikey! {smug grin}

Since then, we have not missed an episode. It is our show. Last fall, even though we downgraded our cable to the basic, basic, basic package, we added the DVR just so we could record LOST. We'd get all excited for each other when one of us would make a LOST discovery, like the time I was reading one of the Narnia books to Ryne and Grace and discovered how The Others (possibly) got their non-name. You would have thought we discovered gold in our backyard.

So why didn't I watch the big conclusion on Sunday? Why have I been holding my hands over my ears all week, yelling

la, la, la, la, la, la, la...

or holding my hand over the computer screen every time I log on the internet?

Because my darling husband had to leave Sunday afternoon for a business trip to California. He had to be at a meeting Monday morning, making Sunday the only time he could leave. It has been killing me all week, not knowing what happened. You should have seen me watching the clock while it was airing.

tick... tick... tick...

But as much as I wanted to watch it Sunday night, it would not have been the same without my husband by my side. Yes, you may gag now.

Marc should be home in the next hour or so, but it's really too late for us to watch it tonight.

Says he. I'm just fine sacrificing any productivity tomorrow to stay up tonight and watch it.

Instead, tomorrow night will be our last LOST date. Anna is helping me plan a special LOST-themed dinner and she will be babysitting while we get lost in LOST for the last time.

Or maybe not. We both think it would be pretty neat to watch the whole series through again.

WARNING: You will be forever banned from this blog if you give me so much as a tiny hint of anything that happened on the show. : )

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Spring Tree Study

My last post reminded me that I never posted our spring tree study. In the winter we picked a black walnut tree outside our schoolroom window to observe throughout the year.

In mid-April we did an indoor study of our tree since it was raining outside. We had already noticed over the previous weeks that the walnut trees were among the last to bud in our woods. By the time our tree was budding the rest of the woods was looking pretty green.

It was amazing to see how the leaves form. Every spring when the trees bud, we always comment on how the woods gets greener each day, but this was the first time we took the time to look at the process up close.

Those little bundles of leaves will eventually turn into compound leaves with 12-24 leaflets.

We learned that the hanging clumps are called catkins and are the male flower of the tree.

Here is our tree almost a month later.

And since I first starting writing this post last night, we've had heavy rain that washed most of the catkins away.

We are looking forward to monitoring the progress of our black walnut tree through the summer and fall. In recent years it has been taken over by some sort of caterpillar in the late summer, so we'll see what happens this year.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

sweeter than sweet yellow warbler

Our homeschool nature studies have been more informal with all our busy spring activities and travel, but we've still been enjoying all the changes of the season.

This week we were excited to see a group of Yellow Warblers in our woods. They are so cute and fun to watch as they dart all over the place. Sometimes they would perch upside down or they would fly in place like a hummingbird. But they don't stay still for long, so out of 60+ photo attempts, these are the best I could get.

The male's song is rendered as:

sweet sweet sweet

sweeter than sweet.

You certainly are sweet, little bird.

This post is linked to:

Sweet Shot Day

Friday, May 14, 2010

IRL: Amy and Sharon

Before my vacation, I had my first in-real-life meeting with blog friends, and one of them just happens to be from Australia! As in, the other side of the world. As in, how cool is that?!

Sharon's blog, Equip Academy, was one of the first blogs I regularly followed, and it was through her that I got to know a couple of other bloggers, Amy and Andrea (and I think it is through Andrea that I've gotten to know a few of you!). Amy and Sharon share the same blog birthday and through blogging have become very good friends. They are both very intelligent, faith-filled women, and I love reading their posts and comments.

I was very excited when Sharon announced that she and her husband were going to be taking a trip to the United States, including a visit to Amy who lives less than four hours away from me. We made plans to meet at the Tall Grass Prairie National Preserve in the Kansas Flint Hills, so I'm going to share some of the highlights of the Blue House Academy/Equip Academy/Veritas at Home field trip.

I have always wanted to explore this area of the world a little better, and it did not disappoint. The hills go on forever, making you feel like small speck on this beautiful planet God has made.

This time of year most of the prairie is just growing back after prescribed burnings. On our drive to the preserve we saw several areas being burned, and you can see in the pictures that some areas had not yet been burned. The Nature Conservancy in Kansas explains why prescribed burnings are necessary:

The prairie needs fire to exist. Along with grazing, fire has always been an essential ecological process for the preservation and sustainability of the prairie ecosystem. Burning removes old growth, controls the establishment and spread of invasive and woody plant species, puts nutrients back into the soil, and promotes the growth and abundance of native prairie grasses and forbs. In turn, wildlife habitat is improved, native prairie plant communities are enhanced, and forage productivity is increased.

The preserve also is the home of a historic home and barn (and several other buildings, including the outhouse that I just know you're glad I included in the pictures!). Down the road (or hiking trail) is a one-room school house that was being used that day by a teacher and students dressed in period clothing.

As lovely as the setting was, the best part of the trip was meeting new friends. We went on a Tuesday, one of Anna's school-at-home days, so she joined us. Anna's main motivation for coming was to hear a real live Australian accent and she had fun impressing her classmates the next day when she told them all about our trip. Ryne and Grace got along very well with Amy's children. In fact, Grace (who still struggles with the concept of time and distance) keeps asking when we can see them again, as if they live down the street. What a fun day! I'm so thankful for getting to meet these lovely ladies in person. In the picture of the three moms (below), Amy is on the left, Sharon in the middle, and yours truly on the right.

Finally, I want to mention what a trooper Amy was on our field trip. She was just days away from her due date and yet she was gracefully hiking through the prairie. I think I was breathing harder than her! But those long days of pregnancy are probably a distant memory now that darling little Lydia Jean has entered the world. Congratulations, Amy!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Vacation

We're still fighting the crud here, but I was able to put together some of my vacation photos. This was my first time to take a cruise, so I was amazed at the size of the ship. I definitely got some exercise just walking around everyday -- maybe even enough to work off all the yummy food I ate! I also learned that the 7th floor deck is the perfect place to read a book.

Our ship made several stops:

1) Cays, a little island owned by the Princess cruise line. It had a beautiful beach, but a storm rolled in while we were there, making our return to the ship on the little tenders kind of scary.

2) St. Maarten, an island that is half Dutch and half French. We decided to pay for a tour of the island and it was terrible. We were stuck in a hot van, the tour driver's microphone didn't work so we couldn't hear a word he said, and he took us to a nude beach. Thankfully, everyone in our van declined to get out of the van when he asked if we wanted to walk around the beach! We did have a few neat moments at St. Maarten and I was able to pick up some nice gifts for the kids.

3) St. Thomas, my favorite part of the whole trip. My sister-in-law, Shari, and I decided to try a tour again (this time we booked through the ship) and it was wonderful. The island is gorgeous! The tour bus dropped us off for a couple of hours at the most spectacular beach I've ever seen. Then we took a tour of some historical sites, and I helped Shari spend her money at the jewelry shops. We were almost late for our ship, but I would have been just fine staying there longer!

4) Grand Turks. Shari, Lauri (my other sister-in-law), and I took a catamaran/snorkeling expedition that was so much fun.

We also had two days at sea, which were also nice because there is more opportunity to relax and take advantage of the ship's amenities (for me, that was mostly finding a comfy spot to read and take a nap!).

All in all, it was a wonderful trip. I enjoyed spending time with the ladies in my husband's family and seeing so many beautiful things.

I should probably explain the pictures below. While on that horrible tour of St. Maarten, we stopped at a beach that was quite beautiful. Since I couldn't hear a thing the tour driver had said, I didn't really know why we stopped at this particular beach, but I was thankful for the opportunity to get out of that awful van. I started taking some pictures of the beach, when I started to hear this roaring sound. Everyone around me started getting excited and pulling their cameras out. Turns out this beach is famous because it's right next to the airport and the planes practically land on top of the sunbathers. You can buy tee shirts or postcards that look like the sign below, but I settled for a picture.

Look! Like a good homeschool mom, I even got in a nature walk . : )

Evenings were filled with food and fun. The highlight was when my mother-in-law, and two sisters-in-law performed for the karaoke contest. I was just fine with my role as family photographer, thank-you-very-much! They each sang lovely, and I'm so proud of them for having the guts to get up in front of all those people.

The whole trip was the family's birthday present to Shari, who just turned 50, but the last night she decided to treat us to dinner at the ship's fancy Italian restaurant. I've never had so much food in one meal, and it was all super-delicious. We were having trouble deciding what dessert to order, so the waiters brought one of everything and we just passed the dishes around the table! I was told to not feel guilty about it, because it's just get-even-time for all the those lunches and dinners my hubby treats his clients to while the kids and I eat grilled cheese. In that case, I think we're even for a while, Honey!

Shari, I hope you had a wonderful birthday, because I sure did!!! I am so blessed to have wonderful in-laws and an amazing husband and sister who did a great job in holding down the fort while I was away!

Monday, May 10, 2010

All is well

A friend at church, who also happens to read this blog, mentioned that I've been very quiet since sending out my SOS from the Atlanta airport a week ago. Sorry!

I did finally make it home about 10:30 that night, but once I woke up the next morning I had a "to do" list a mile long. I was the coordinator for the homeschool spelling bee again this year, and the bee was last Friday. So I was busy as a bee (bad pun, I know).

It was sad to not have Anna participate in the spelling bee this year, but Ryne and Grace both participated for the first time! I thought it might be a disaster since we hardly studied and spelling is not Ryne's best subject, but they both did well, enjoyed the experience, and are eager to start preparing for next year.

Next came a busy Saturday of taking Anna to swim practice, returning overdue library books, and getting some planting done (the lettuce plants I bought before my trip looked very sad), and then Marc and the kids went on a Cub Scout camp out. The campers returned early Sunday morning, wishing me a happy Mother's Day, and we enjoyed the fellowship lunch provided by the men of the church. But by evening, half our family (including me) felt lousy. Ryne came down with it last, but seems to be hit the hardest, poor guy. He's usually up by 6:00 every morning, but it's after 11:00 right now and he's still asleep. We've been getting sick a lot this year, although thankfully it's never been the really bad flu.

I'm really looking forward to getting back into a normal routine. My trip really gave me a chance to relax and reflect, so I'm ready for a fresh start in some areas, including this blog. Today we're just going to concentrate on getting better, but this whole week will be a little different. It's Anna's last week at away-school for the year, so we're planning on helping out with some activities there later this week. As far as homeschooling goes, we were supposed to be done this week too, but because of several unplanned breaks throughout the year we will continue homeschooling through the summer. A few things are done for the year, so it will at least be a lighter load. And with swim team practices breaking up our schooling day, it will still feel very much like summer.

Hope you are all well; maybe today I can get caught up on reading all my favorite blogs -- I've missed you!

Monday, May 3, 2010

I'm back... (sort of)

Someday I'd like to visit Atlanta without having a travel disaster. It sounds like a wonderful city with lots of neat things to do.

But so far my record is not good in this city. There was the time we were driving to Florida and spent hours stuck in traffic in the Atlanta area, in the middle of the night. Compared to that experience, Chicago traffic was a piece of cake.

And then there is today's experience. I woke up at 4:00 a.m. to make my 6:30 a.m. connecting flight through Atlanta and eventually home. But first the weather wasn't cooperating. The first flight was delayed half an hour.

Once in Atlanta, my next flight was delayed an hour due to the aftereffects of the weather. It looked like just about every flight in the airport was delayed. Then they said our flight was delayed again because there was a problem with the plane's engine. But then it was okay. We boarded the plane and things looked good.

I was absorbed in a book when we were cleared for take-off. The woman next to me was asleep. Faster and faster went the plane and then BAM! Just as we're about to lift off the plane slammed to a stop, along with every passenger's heart! The woman next to me grabbed my arm as she was startled awake. Apparently the engine problems were not fixed.

So they cancelled our flight, leaving us all to go stand-by all day long. I am finally booked on a flight out tonight, but the time keeps getting pushed back. I have taken the airport tram from Terminal T to A to B to A to B and now I'm back at A, I think.

I'm not complaining. I'd much rather arrive home in one piece and kiss the heads of my sleeping kids than find out what would have happened had we actually got in the air with a bad engine.

Oh, dear. My flight has just been delayed another two hours.

To be continued...

P.S. I did have a fabulous trip though and can't wait to share pictures (I haven't even seen them myself yet)!