Thursday, May 29, 2014

Quote to Consider:

"[My mom] taught me that parenting is a lot like giving a hug:  It's all about love and pressure, and there's no one way to do it."

---"Big Shoes to Fill" (April 2014 Reader's Digest)
by Charles M. Blow, from the New York Times

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Homeschool Pool

As you are all aware by now, we homeschool, and I have some pretty strong opinions about why we do it. 
A while back I read a blog by a dad who was responding to a reader who argued against homeschooling.  I don't know anything about this author, but one analogy of his article stuck with me. 

You say that homeschooled kids aren’t properly socialized.

I give you this: with the exception of about 14 thousand other times, this is the first time I’ve ever heard this argument.

It’s an argument that seems to march on, even after its been disproven, discredited, deconstructed, and decapitated. I just promised to stop tossing around studies, so I won’t link to an article (here) that cites at least two different studies proving your assertion to be a myth.

I’ll only say that you chose a pretty strange analogy to prove your point. You can’t teach a child to swim without bringing him to a pool? I agree. But do you bring a child to the pool, drop him there with a thousand other kids, then come back 6 hours later, and repeat that process every day, five days a week, for the next 12 to 13 years? Or do you bring him to the pool, hang out with him, maybe even get in the water and play some Marco Polo, and then leave with him after a couple of hours?

I can tell you this: if you decide to just abandon your kid at the pool for hours and hours and hours on end, every day, for over a decade, he probably won’t do a lot of swimming. If he doesn’t drown (drowning is a very real possibility, especially if there’s only one lifeguard for every 40 kids), he’ll likely spend more time playing on his iPhone and smoking pot in the bathroom than learning the backstroke.
You say that homeschooled kids aren’t properly socialized.
I give you this: with the exception of about 14 thousand other times, this is the first time I’ve ever heard this argument.
It’s an argument that seems to march on, even after its been disproven, discredited, deconstructed, and decapitated. I just promised to stop tossing around studies, so I won’t link to an article (here) that cites at least two different studies proving your assertion to be a myth.
I’ll only say that you chose a pretty strange analogy to prove your point. You can’t teach a child to swim without bringing him to a pool? I agree. But do you bring a child to the pool, drop him there with a thousand other kids, then come back 6 hours later, and repeat that process every day, five days a week, for the next 12 to 13 years? Or do you bring him to the pool, hang out with him, maybe even get in the water and play some Marco Polo, and then leave with him after a couple of hours?
I can tell you this: if you decide to just abandon your kid at the pool for hours and hours and hours on end, every day, for over a decade, he probably won’t do a lot of swimming. If he doesn’t drown (drowning is a very real possibility, especially if there’s only one lifeguard for every 40 kids), he’ll likely spend more time playing on his iPhone and smoking pot in the bathroom than learning the backstroke.

Read more at http://themattwalshblog.com/2014/04/25/behold-the-two-absolutely-worst-arguments-against-homeschooling/#LMESHKTGof8crw0B.99
You say that homeschooled kids aren’t properly socialized.
I give you this: with the exception of about 14 thousand other times, this is the first time I’ve ever heard this argument.
It’s an argument that seems to march on, even after its been disproven, discredited, deconstructed, and decapitated. I just promised to stop tossing around studies, so I won’t link to an article (here) that cites at least two different studies proving your assertion to be a myth.
I’ll only say that you chose a pretty strange analogy to prove your point. You can’t teach a child to swim without bringing him to a pool? I agree. But do you bring a child to the pool, drop him there with a thousand other kids, then come back 6 hours later, and repeat that process every day, five days a week, for the next 12 to 13 years? Or do you bring him to the pool, hang out with him, maybe even get in the water and play some Marco Polo, and then leave with him after a couple of hours?
I can tell you this: if you decide to just abandon your kid at the pool for hours and hours and hours on end, every day, for over a decade, he probably won’t do a lot of swimming. If he doesn’t drown (drowning is a very real possibility, especially if there’s only one lifeguard for every 40 kids), he’ll likely spend more time playing on his iPhone and smoking pot in the bathroom than learning the backstroke.

Read more at http://themattwalshblog.com/2014/04/25/behold-the-two-absolutely-worst-arguments-against-homeschooling/#LMESHKTGof8crw0B.99
I think he could have been just a bit more respectful in his response, although I understand when defenses go up about something you're passionate about.
Anyhow.  I just thought this analogy perfectly summed up my thoughts on why we are homeschooling, and that maybe you all would enjoy it as well.

(You can find the whole article here:  The Matt Walsh Blog:  "Behold:  the two absolutely worst arguments against homeschooling")

I Used to Judge

I used to judge people when I'd walk up to their house, and their yards were just kind of.... trashy.  I'm not talking like junked-out cars, un-mowed grass, and bags of garbage.  I'm talking about just bits of trash, broken toys, and stuff strewn about and not picked up.
And then I had boys.
I have given up trying to keep the yard and deck picked up.  It's enough just to keep the house picked up.  Those two drag everything out.  Not only is every bike, trike, dump truck, or any other toy with wheels somewhere in our yard or driveway, but so are all of their garden tools, some of mine, boxes, boards, and any bit of trash that "they can use for something" - which is pretty much any bottle, styrofoam cup, or drink carrier that ends up at our house.
I do pretty good at making sure they don't take out dishes, or at least that the dishes come back in when I let them eat outside.  We also have laid down some pretty strict rules about what toys can go outside (which is basically none of them), or else we would have a veritable toy graveyard out there.
So I don't judge anyone any more when I walk up to their house and there's empty bottles or cups, or bare spots in the grass, or gaping holes in a flowerbed.  I just think....
"They must have little boys."

Saturday, May 17, 2014

2014 Home Improvements: The Plan..... And Then the Other Plan.

So I'm finally going to tell you about what I've been hinting at for weeks.
Let me tell you what the original plan was first.
So....
Our front room, where the wood stove is, has linoleum.  Because of the nature of a wood stove spitting sparks every time you open the door, the linoleum has burn marks all over it.  When we got that overly large tax return this year, we decided to use part of it to buy tile for the front room.  (Tile doesn't burn or melt!)
We bought the tile and materials from Menards in March, but decided before we put the work into it, we'd check about getting the house leveled.  There is a serious slope from the north to the south end.  We wanted to get that fixed, but had no idea what it entailed or how much it would cost.  I didn't want to tile the floor, do a bunch of painting, etc, if we would level the house in the next couple years, just to have all our new work crack.
It turns out, the reason the house is not level is because we have two walls in our cellar that have caved in 18 inches.  So the edge of our house isn't even sitting on the foundation.  Paul said he can stand in the basement, reach his hand over the wall to the air outside.  Hmm.... Maybe that's part of our draft problem?
We had three companies come look at it.  (We probably had the same amount tell us they wouldn't even come look at it, because we have a stone foundation.)  They all had basically the same idea for how to fix it, and were around the same price.
Paul just threw out the question to the last guy that came, a local company, "How much would it cost just to rip all this out and pour a new concrete basement?"
It turns out that to repair and brace the walls is 1/2 the cost of a new basement (if we kept it the same size).  But it doesn't gain us anything.  We still have a cellar under our house that we can't use.  But it was either borrow a lot of money to fix something and not gain anything, or borrow a lot of money and double the living space of our house.
Paul and I talked about it, a lot.  And prayed about it, a lot, a lot.  We got opinions from our parents and friends.  And everything pointed at going with putting a new basement under the house.
So how they do that is they will jack the house up, knock down the existing stone walls, then dig down to get an 8-foot basement (the cellar is 6 feet).  Then they will pour new walls and a concrete floor (the existing floor is gravel).  We will put an interior stairway in (which will cut through one closet in our bedroom).  They will also expand the basement to be under the whole house (kitchen and backporch), which will be about 30%  bigger than the current cellar.
At the same time, we are knocking off our crappy back porch and rebuilding it, and including a half bath out there.  We will move all of our utilities to the basement (washer/dryer, hot water heater, freezers, etc).  We will also add plumbing for a full bath in the basement, which we will finish later.
We have to remove both our decks, and will have to rebuild them (using the salvaged lumber), but we will probably change the layout, possibly adding a patio.  We're also moving the eyesore that is the propane tank from it's current spot smack dab in front of the house, to across the driveway.
I am so incredibly excited about the end result of this project.  But so not looking forward to the process - the decisions, the mess, and the discomforts.  But we feel so blessed that God has made it able for us to be able to do this!
So that is the big project - it started off as wanting to paint, and ended up with getting a new basement!  I will keep you posted as things progress.  We start in about a month!

2014 Home Improvements, Part Three: Bedroom Makeover (A Bed in the Closet?)

(Okay, so this is the next post I wrote, but it's not the one I promised.  I will write it as a separate post, and it will be at the top of the page, so it will LOOK like the next post I wrote.....)

This home improvement wasn't really on my radar.  I get frustrated at our lack of bedroom space.  We have 3 closets in our bedroom (there are 4 total in the whole house), plus a window and the door.  So there's really only been one way to lay out our bedroom.  There's room for the bed..... And that's it.
Several years ago, I got some of those wire shelves to organize the big closet.  It helped with the clothes situation, but still.  Boring bedroom.
Yes, this is "clean" for us.  And normally, the bed isn't even this close to being made.




We have one of those wide closets that have  the accordion doors (had, before we moved in - it was covered by a curtain, but I took that down after the millionth time of the rod falling down).  In my frustration I mentioned trying to turn the bed sideways on one wall, to gain a little room.  And then I said, "Unless it would fit into the closet."


We eyeballed it.  Hmm.... That might just work.
But we didn't do anything about it.  A couple weeks later, Paul was gone at Encounter for the weekend.  I was determined he would come home to a clean bedroom, so I sorted and put away the piles (and piles) (and boxes) of clothes, and then with the newly clean bedroom, I started eyeballing the closet again......
And decided, what the heck?  I'd surprise Paul with not only a clean bedroom, but also a re-arranged bedroom!
It fits!  Like a glove, but it's in there!

Our temporary furnishings.  But look at all that floor space!

When Paul got home, I told him my idea.  He must have liked it, because the next day we did measuring, then after sleeping on it (literally) again that night, we went to the lumberyard to get the materials.  It was raining buckets that day, so we had them deliver the following Friday.
I had second thoughts during the week, because I slept so horribly.  It turned out that our bed was sloped two inches from one side to the other, because of the collapsing basement walls (which will be fixed in the big job this summer).  Once Paul put a 2x4 under my side of the bed, I started sleeping like  a baby.
I’d like to say we got it all done in a weekend, but weekend projects just don’t happen when you have a tiny one, and 3 other “helpful” ones.  Basically what happened was Paul worked on it, and I’d step in and help out or offer my opinions (demands) between nursings.  And then I got sick, and didn't want to deal with paint fumes while having a cold.  So it took two weeks to actually finish a weekend project.
We had a few differences in opinions on how I was planning to do it, and how he was planning to do it.  (We didn’t actually discuss those details.  Oops.)  But nothing major, and I think the end result came out FANTASTIC!

I will put a shelf and/or some art above the pillows.

I realize our home will never look like a Better Homes and Gardens article.  I am okay with that.
It still looks awesome! :)



 I love it.  It’s exactly what I wanted, and it doubles the useable space in our bedroom.  Now, instead of having zero free walls, we have 3 free walls.  I will get to have to get a dresser, and I managed to procure one – for free! – that was exactly what I envisioned.  It will need a good scrubbing and a paint job, but I can handle that.  (It may take a month or two.....)
There were some ways that we cut corners on the job.  We only put the beadboard paneling on 3 inside walls, and not the ones adjoining the doorway (that we can only see while laying in bed).
There were other ways that I wanted to cut corners, literally, that Paul did an awesome job cutting the corners on.  Look at that work!  (I was just going to chop it at a 45 angle.)
The wall on the right is the one we didn't panel.  We just painted the particleboard to match.
Paul came up with the idea to angle the support boards, and it looks so much nicer than squared ends would have!

I also did a very, very fast job on the painting (remember the whole baby thing?), so if you look close at the shelves or paneling, you can see through in places.  But again, it’s our bedroom, and the only ones who will see my shoddy work are Paul and I when laying in bed.  And we have better things to do in bed than inspect our handiwork. 
(I’m talking about sleeping.  Geez!)
So the bedroom isn’t totally done, but I am totally thrilled with the new layout!  I still need to paint the walls, but that will wait til after the big job is done, because there’s a very good chance all our walls will crack.  I’ll also get a new bedspread and curtains.  I can’t wait!  

Thursday, May 15, 2014

2014 Home Improvements, Part Two: New Bathroom Sink



We have a huge bathroom, but it's not really functional.  I think it measures 8x12, with 9-foot ceilings.  But no closets, no shelves.
But we've made it work.
One thing I particularly haven't liked, ever since we moved in, is the sink.  The faucet top was missing the cap that covered the screw, making that little area a well for dirt, gunk, and general nastiness.  I don't have a close-up "before" of the faucet, and only because Paul reminded me to take them as he was starting, so I just quickly snapped a few and got out of his way.



Yeah, it was gross.  Pretty sure I hadn't really moved everything and cleaned it in a month.  It's pretty ghetto.  There's been a mystery crack in the basin since we moved in. (How does that happen?)  The drain broke about a year ago, and we've lost all sorts of objects down that thing.  Some retrieved, some lost forever.  (FYI, a magnet on a string will recover bobby pins and hair clips.)
All it's missing is some cigarette burns to make it completely ghetto.

So I saw this faucet in the Menards ad around Christmastime.  It's a Pfister Ideal.  (And it's a chunk cheaper now than it was when we bought it.)  It was lust at first sight.  I don't know what the boys do when they're brushing their teeth, but when I go in after they're in bed, the sink is usually completely blue from one side of the basin to the other.  I knew I had to have this faucet with the pull-out sprayer.  So with that overly large tax return, we went to Menards and got a new countertop and faucet for the bathroom, along with some other stuff.  (More projects to come!  And I promise..... next post will be about the big one!)

So we bought the faucet the beginning of March, but then decided to check on doing some other repairs before we dumped a lot of time into plumbing and painting in the bathroom.  So the stuff has been in our shop.... waiting....  Until Tuesday.
Over the weekend the old faucet started leaking.  Not just a slow drip, either.  Paul was working nights (of course), so after the weekend, he checked.  There were no shut-off valves under the sink (of course), so we had to shut off the whole house.  Paul's theory is that no plumbing job can be done with just one trip to town.  So we made our first trip Tuesday morning, and went and got the shut offs (he was skeptical they would even work).  Supposedly we had everything else......


Who wouldn't love a man who can do this???

Well, he got the shut offs put in underneath, then removed the old counter top.  He dropped the drain in, then attached the faucet, and.... voila!

One hour, one trip to town - it has to be a record! 

Now my toiletries trays actually match the faucet.
And the drain matches, too!  It's a "click shut" style, and was included in the box with the faucet..



Have I mentioned how excited I am about the pull-out sprayer?  I threatened the boys with something near death if I catch them spraying each other or the floor, anywhere other than the sink basin.  But I haven't seen a smear of toothpaste anywhere since Tuesday, and Jacob asked me this morning if he could clean the bathroom for me.
Hey, whatever it takes, huh??
The problem is, the new sink and faucet make the rest of the bathroom look even worse.  I immediately cleaned the toilet and got on my hands and knees and scrubbed the filth on the floor around it (GAG).  I got rid of the huge pile of laundry today.  Now I need to scrub the rest of the floor (probably won't happen) and take a case of Magic Erasers to the shower situation (also probably won't happen).  And then we have to paint, but that will be after we finish "the big one."
Stay tuned...... :)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

I think I might die.

Someone needs to give my kids the memo:  When they're up all night, they're required to sleep in - at LEAST til 9.
Gideon woke up every half hour til 2:30.  Zadie woke up at 2 and wouldn't go back to sleep, so was in our bed 2-4:30.
Meanwhile, I had a splitting headache all night, a back and neck ache, and am coughing up a lung.
Then Gideon wakes up at 6:30, and Zadie at 7:30.
I think I might die.
But at least they woke up happy!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Quotes to Consider:

Truth sounds like hate, to those that hate the truth.
-Phil Robertson