29 April 2010


(This picture has nothing to do with anything in this post. But let's face it. You don't want to read the blog without a few pics thrown in....)

I'm basically writing this to hold myself accountable.

You know, if I put it out there for five or so people to read, maybe I'll be embarrassed if I don't actually get it done.

Things I'd Like to Accomplish Before July 5th:

[July 5th is the new year around here. Why? Well, it boils down to the fact that between April 15th and July 5th, we have Anniversary, Mothers Day (times three...), My Mother In Law's Birthday, My Birthday, End of School, Collins's Birthday, Ada Brooks's Birthday, Father's Day (times three...), My Daddy's Birthday, and Paul's Birthday. Oh, and our country's. But it's on the same day as Paul's, so...

Also, we're taking the month of June, pretty much, off of school, but will resume in July, so it really will be a new beginning.]

Whew - long parenthetical. Back to my list:

1 - Clear out digital pictures

2 - Print and Frame some good ones (which will involve me asking nicely for Paul to hurry up and repair some frames for me...)

3 - Continue work on healthier family meals menu, so we don't all grow up to be hugemongous.

4 - Write Ada Brooks's history curriculum for next year. She'll be studying the years 1850 forward. Which is a lot. I've got to decide which topics we'll cover, how to cover them, etc. Suggestions are welcome.

5 - Teach the kids to ride their bikes without training wheels.

6 - Take children to zoo no fewer than five times.

7 - Take children to hike behind the science museum on pretty days.

8 - Teach Eason to swim.

9 - Plan birthday celebrations for Ada, Collins and Paul. Ada Brooks wants a baking birthday party... and I'm determined that we will celebrate poor, sweet third child Collins.

10 - Learn to exercise regularly....

What am I supposed to be doing before everyone else wakes up? exercising....

What am I doing? yeah....kiss my tail.

The history curriculum writing goal is the most important, I'd say. It's also the most appealing and the scariest.

The classical method of educating says that rather than doing things like "social studies" and "mississippi history" and "geography" and "british history" - we just do history - we just learn it - we learn the Story of the World - basically - (which also happens to be the very clever name of one of the top classical history curricula)

You also, when classically educating, tie in everything to the historical period you are studying. So, you actually study literature from the same period.

And yes, even in first grade. Number one education myth: young children cannot learn 'complicated' things. Most young children won't get it. But they can learn it. And when you introduce it to them early, when you reread Dickens in highschool, they are familiar with it, and are not scared of it. Also, hopefully, they learn to love the stuff early.

So, there are many curricula for this....

But, you start this whole home educating project - for various reasons - and then all of a sudden you actually get to influence what your child learns. You don't just turn them over. Like, since I love nineteenth century short stories (occurrence at owl creek bridge...cannot beat that stuff), and twentieth century novels (great gatsby, anybody?), I can pick those. Since I think Vatican II is important, I'll get to teach my first grader about it.

And yes, this is why homeschooling terrifies some people. We've got all these people out there DECIDING what to teach their children. Well, my friends, how much do you know about your children's teachers? Because I had some great ones. And some awful ones. And some years I learned a ton about great things (thank you, Mrs. King, Mrs. Orr, Mrs. Jenkins and many others), but in some classes, I didn't learn jack. And yes, some of those teachers had agendas. Good and bad agendas.

[Number two education myth of the day: Teachers in schools - public and private - and at home - are just trying to make the most educated people. Nope - some are trying to make a living doing the least amount of work possible, some are trying to instill certain values, some have a particular affinity for some cause, some of those crazy home educators are actually trying to produce anarchists or terrorists or just plain republicans or democrats. Every educator in the world has an agenda - very few of us just want to impart knowledge]

Whose agenda would you like directing the education of your children?

Pros and Cons to everything.

So, some of the curricula are too focused on America - yes, we're important - but so is the rest of the world. We live in a global society blah blah blah....

And some of them I just don't like. I'm picky like that.

So, I'm writing our own... Pray hard for me. I'll do progress updates. You know, so I don't end up just saying to ada brooks "go to the library - read about the last 150 years..."

27 April 2010

gotta watch 'em every second

We are blessed with some sweet friends down the street. Friends who Paul and I both like and who have children that are great buddies of our children.

Now, we've known for a while that Ada Brooks and their little boy have a bit of a crush on each other. We are constantly having to say things like "no closing the bedroom door..." or "no wrestling on the trampoline..." or "get your tongue out of her throat"

Okay, not really on that last one, but you get the picture. We're just aware of this burgeoning romance.

If you think i'm crazy, please see the note that my daughter tried to surreptitiously mail down the street... until I caught her and gave her a lecture on modesty having to do not only with dress but with actions.

How did I catch her? She asked for his address. Not that bright to be sending secret love letters with assistance from your mother.

This was six months ago. Since then, her spelling has improved, and their love has grown.

A couple of weeks ago, we went camping with this darling family.

Yes, I said it and we did it. We took four grown ups, a 5.5 year old, a 4.5 year old, a 3 year old, a 2.5 year old and a ten month old

out into the woods. And spent the night. Granted, there was a separate tent - just for the portocrib -

And there were some tears.

But, overall, we had a grand ol' time.

And yes, as soon as we got there, Ada Brooks and said future lover immediately asked if they could play in a tent. And zip it up.


So, when I was going through the pictures from the weekend, I wasn't surprised to find them pal-ing around the whole time

I wasn't surprised to find her gazing lovingly at him.

I wasn't even surprised to see him trying to sneak in a pop on her behind.

hee hee... Can you see a four year old trying that? how ridiculous.

What was I surprised to see?

This, my friends. This is why you gotta watch 'em every second...

if there has ever been a flirt captured on camera...i believe this is it.

Just look at those hands by her face...

And it got worse. "Oh, Eason, you are just too much"
So, we knew the eldest two were trouble. We knew we'd have to watch them, especially in about 10 years.

This other mother and I - yeah - we were patting ourselves on the back. They think they can write love letters. They think they can play "doctor" on the trampoline. They think we are just dummies.

Yes, we knew that Bee tried to tell him what to do.

But we didn't know that she did that to Eas as well....

Yes, we knew that these two were headed for teenage angst.

But these two... sneaky little things they are.


My daddy was over here recently.

(I was helping him join facebook. another post for another time. or never - too painful)

We were looking through photos to try to find him a profile picture. He made the comment that my kids are fairly photogenic. It's not that they're that cute in real life - i mean, they're cute - most kids are - but it's really just that to make up for me being the least photogenic person ever (or as daddy said, maybe it's just that I'm unattractive... - thanks dad), God made my little people take pictures well.

And this is a problem.


Because my iphoto library is up to 8,379 pictures.

Since Ada Brooks was born.

Well, since my baby shower for her, which was in May before she was born. So even though we are probably a few weeks shy of it, let's just round to 6 years.

So, what is that? just over 2000 days or so?

So, approximately four pictures a day?

No one - not even times three - is that cute.

What am I going to do with four pictures a day? stare at them? wax nostalgic (I already have a problem with that...)

So, my goal for the month of May is to get us down to 4000 pictures. 2 a day is so very much more reasonable, right?

So... The Logical thing for me to do is to go through and delete 'duplicates' - not actual duplicates, but same people, same scene duplicates.


22 April 2010

Four Whole Years

We're goin' to the chapel and were gonna get married!

Or, rather, we already did. Four years ago. Sometimes it seems like yesterday, other times like forty years....

Paul and I had the best wedding - I'm sure all brides think that - but we really just did. Don't ruin it for me.

It was small - tiny even. With a big party a few weeks later.

Wedding in Oxford in hundred and fifty year old church, big party in Jackson in courtyard of Highland Village.

There were crab cakes, cheese grits, sweet potato biscuits, mint fruit salad and petitfours. There was an all lace dress and all white and green flowers.

There were very best friends and family. It was a perfect April morning (and then a perfect may evening for the party, where our dear friends The Pates played great music and we danced and my daddy and I drank tequila...)

Our sweet little girl threw flower petals...and then, like her grandmother had taught her, picked them up so she could use them again.

My bridesmaids and I walked down the aisle to a dear, dear friend playing Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing on the piano - he jazzed it up a bit when it was my turn to walk down.

We took communion. With Taylor Port. As people at all weddings should.

Our dear priest, counselor and friend, Ollie Rencher,

tied his stole in a knot ('tying the knot'...who knew...) around our hands while we were kneeling before the altar rail. At this point, I cried. And Paul handed me a handkerchief with the letter F embroidered on it. And then everyone else cried.

We, unbeknownst to us at the time, got married on Earth Day. And what's my favorite color?


Our dear friend, Karla Pound, took amazing pictures of both events.

We had catfish at our rehearsal dinner. And Blue Moon beer. And enough toasting to last me a lifetime. Yes, we toasted with beer in styrofoam cups.

Our groomsmen put crickets in our car before we left the church. Paul almost wrecked and killed us - which while tragic, would have been so poetic with me in my wedding dress.

One of my bridesmaids almost wore sunglasses down the aisle, because she was so hungover....and possibly still drunk. I won't mention names, in the interest of protecting the guilty.

That same bridesmaid got sent to the store for birdseed to throw. And came back with cat litter. Funny girl she is.

I'd show pictures, but then everyone would know which one she is...

All in all, I look back on those weeks, and I think I wouldn't change a thing. Not a darn thing. Well, maybe we would have had beer glasses rather than styrofoam cups. And there are a few dear people - who we didn't know or were not very close to at the time - who weren't there for our wedding. And every now and then, I get sad about that. But, perhaps I'll just photoshop them into a few pics and we'll pretend?

You know why it's all really so great?

Because I'm married to the man that God designed for me. He's just beautiful. And a great kisser. And an amazing father. He's way smarter than I am, and he works hard - at school, at work, on our house. He's also funny. Really, really funny.

And you know why else it's so great? Because today is our anniversary and tonight we're going to Walkers. To eat a great meal. Alone. And maybe play footsie if Paul doesn't get too embarrassed. And I'm going to wear my pink pearls that he gave me when we got married.

And then we're coming home to emboss books with his book embosser I gave him.

Not really. We're coming home to make out.

But he might rather emboss books. He does love to do that.

20 April 2010

super cool explora dora

So, this blog is basically my children's baby books. I don't have time or patience for baby books. I know...this makes me a bad mother. Especially a bad southern mother.

But... in my defense:

I think baby books are no fun. I don't care what my footprints looked like, when I lost my first tooth, or what my first grade report card reported. What I love hearing about from my parents are the things we did, the funny things I said, and how many times my little brothers came near death.

Once upon a time my mother had three small ish children. Bigger than mine, but only by a couple of years. She had a big black suburban with maroon cloth interior. We were heading to the beach for a week. Packing for this trip was an endeavor nothing short of packing the titanic.

She had started loading things - including but not limited to - all of our suitcases, her hair dryer, multiple videotapes (for when it rains at the beach), and a giant basket of fresh meridian peaches.

My brothers were driving her insane. So, she strapped them in their carseats, cranked the car, turned on the air, and reconciled with herself about the wasted gas. She and I continued preparing in the house (I was eight or nine ish - very helpful age - perfectly competent and not yet with a surly, teenagerish attitude). My daddy was off doing something - i think, if i remember correctly, boarding the dogs at the vet. Well, Mama and I blissfully went about our business of packing up all cleaning materials, seven extra sheet sets (just in case...of what, i know not), our blender (what if they don't have one and we cannot make margaritas?) and on and on and on. Daddy pulled up in the driveway to discover....

wait for it.....

the boys had gotten unstrapped and were having a peach war in the suburban. Yes, they were in the car, throwing peaches at one another.

Needless to say, we were late to the beach.

Now...isn't that more fun than me telling you their full names (Clifton Collins Eason and Paul Flemming Eason) birthdays (october 8th, middle of the day and march 26th, 3:05 pm, i think) or their birthweights (5lbs 11 ounces and 6lbs 3 ounces respectively) ? Weren't you more entertained by the peach war story? I certainly was.

So, that is my main aim in writing this blog. I've a mind to print it and bind it for the children. You know, in case of cyber terrorism, which I hear is coming, dammit. But for now, the point is, that I can record as we go.

[here comes the second of two paragraphs in a row that start with "So," - not the most disciplined writer]

So, I was thinking about this aim and thinking about whether I was succeeding. I think I am, mostly. But what I realized is that often I write about the fun things. Dyeing easter eggs (or failing to dye them), bluefred, christmas preparations, etc. Those are very much a part of our lives, and like the great peach war of ninety two or three, they are the things we will remember. But, it's not really a fair picture. We aren't crafting, feasting and celebrating all of the time. Most of the time, we are just being us.

I'm just trying to grow these little people into big people who love God, love their neighbors, love books, and, I've said it before, can occasionally beat me in an argument. And more often than not beat their father in one. And often times this is not glamorous.

[wouldn't the word glamor be almost an onomatopoeia if we spelled it like the brits - glamour - doesn't that just sound glamorous? but no...we took all those beautiful silent "u"s out of words. I loathe american english]

Often times, my days are about seeing if I can keep the house from falling down, keep the children from killing each other or an animal, and managing to take a shower. Yes, I'm a firm believer that we must inject glamour [yep, i did it. i'm rebelling] - so we do things like Happy Hour Hikes, afternoon mocktinis, tea time, lots of great, if i say so myself, suppers. We go to the zoo, go camping, go to the science museum, craft our brains out, laugh a lot, and all of this. But some days, when Paul comes home, and he says, "what did y'all do today?", I feel like i've survived if i can say I've taken a shower.

How does one shower with three small children in the house? Well, first of all, this is one reason to be a good disciplinarian. If you end up with three small children and they don't respect authority, you won't be able to shower without hiring a babysitter or waiting for your spouse to be home. Why? Because you'll end up with cheerios all over your house, or worse, peaches.

But, while we've been blessed with generally good kids and wise counsel about how to sanctify the heck out of them, they aren't that trustworthy - or not one of them, anyway. I have this funny, great kid.
Who has a bit of a messy bone in his body.

It's not malicious (making it harder to deal with), but it's messy. So, what do I, home-educator, crafter, cook, and hiker do?

I plop that three year old down in front of an episode of his favorite show - Dora the Explorer. This show lasts 24 minutes. That gives me time to undress, shower, even shave my legs, dry off and get dressed all before the final credits roll.

Ada Brooks sometimes watches with him, sometimes reads a book, and sometimes is at school. Collins is usually taking his morning nap when I'm showering, but sometimes, he sits on the couch next to his brother and watches a Dora as well.

Yep - I confess - use the television as a babysitter. Granted it's for 24 minutes, about three times a week (other showers are whilst eas is at mothers morning out or on weekends when Paul's around to guard the peaches). But, I do it.

And, I'm here to tell you folks, that the television is a damn good babysitter.

Don't believe me?

I highly recommend it - for no more than two to three hours a week - so that you can take a shower, paint your toenails, get ready for church (as some of our great friends do every week) or get supper going.

Like wine and advil, the more often you use it, the less effective it becomes.

But, pick your precious things - showers for me, cooking for some, a moment of quiet sanity for others - and employ a good, clean fun show to keep the walls from closing in. Because, quite honestly, sometimes being a stay at home mom is about that - keeping yourself from running screaming out the door.

15 April 2010

dye! you b*st*rd eggs! dye!

The week before Easter, as we all noted, Ada Brooks took standardized tests at her lovely two-day-a-week school. To reward the children for a job well done, when they got finished on day three, their art teacher (who was also helping to proctor), had them dye easter eggs.

This wouldn't have been so amazing had they used easter egg dye. Or even food coloring. But no, sir ree bob. Not at jackson classical. That would be so un-classical. (just an fyi...they really aren't against easter egg dye or anything - it was just a joke - i wouldn't want people thinking we're insane.)

What did they use?

Onion skins. And rice.

More fun that way. You surround the egg with onion skins (for color) and rice (for texture) and tie it all up in a piece of porous cloth - cheesecloth and/or cut up old pantyhose work great. Then you boil the eggs , whilst wrapped in the food items/ladies underwear.

So, Ada Brooks brings home this beautiful egg. Not bright or anything, but a really cool antiquey orange color - with a really complicated texture (magical rice).

So... Ada and I have this delightful thought: Let's dye all our easter eggs using foodstuffs! Brilliant we are! It will be such fun - not boring old drop the tablet in the vinegar dyeing - but new and interesting!

So, we did our internet research and made an extensive list of items we had already and a few we needed to buy.

(foreshadowing: don't believe everything you read on the google)

(yes, old people - or the more obstinate middle aged - are saying 'the google' much like 'the kroger' or 'the walmark')

And we spent an entire morning preparing for the egg dyeing marathon.

It was as labor intensive as preparing for a real marathon.

hee hee.

It involved the peeling of multiple citrus fruits, onions and carrots.
Our final ingredient list was as follows:

Tea, Rice, Canned blueberries, rasberries, spinach leaves, peeled onions (purple and yellow), carrots (demolished with a vegetable peeler), orange, lemon and lime peels, grape juice, cranberrypomegranate juice, vinegar, yellow tulips, cumin, cayenne pepper, paprika, and crushed red pepper flakes.

And Eggs. Thirty six eggs.

(I considered listing these ingredients vertically. It would have been much more dramatic. But scrolling through it would have been annoying. So I'm just trusting that you will know how dramatic it is....)

Here is a picture of the glorious beginnings. Ada clearly was aware at how important this moment was, as she got the 'other camera' to snap a few of her own.

Behind the grape juice, you can barely see the cut up hose, cut up cheesecloth, and rubberbands.

And we spent the next two hours meticulously assembling the egg dyeing pouches. Eason got a bit distracted after about two, Paul chose to do about three, and Ada Brooks and I trucked along, at approximately fifteen a piece.

Then, we grouped the eggs by color and put them in four different GIANT pots on my stove. Yes, i just used italics and caps in one sentence. And i meant it, dammit.

It wasn't an unhappy work, but it was a work. In fact, it is clear from these pictures that it was in fact a very happy work.

But, still, about five hours all in all - of intense, purposed work.

And do you know what it got us? Have you figured it out yet?
It got us a few really cool burnt orange antiquey textured eggs (the ones we did with onion skins) and about thirty-two (32)

[learned that notation when i was pretending to be a lawyer for a couple of years - it comes from a time when court documents were handwritten and for clarity's sake, they wrote the number out in letters and in numerals.... or at least that's what i was told. I'm doing it here for emphasis though]

grayish, pale greenish, whiteish hard boiled eggs. There were some that we couldn't even tell we had dyed, and others that had gone from a beautiful God-made porcelain color to what would be a suitable house for the ugliest duckling.

It was actually a good theological lesson on easter weekend. We can work our way into a frenzy, and without the resurrection, we're s.o.l.

[Have i said before that I spent twenty years.... yes twenty... thinking that S.O.L. means Sorry Out of Luck? Yes, i didn't know what it traditionally means until I was two weeks from giving birth to my first child - and a favorite old friend and I were bopping along the road to see john prine in concert in vicksburg - and I said someone was SOL - and he said that wasn't very nice for an almost mother to say and i said, "well, what's wrong with it?" So, i've continued saying it. And I'm sure the mothers of my children's friends appreciate me teaching them that phrase. But, to be honest, I never think the ugly version of it - i always think sorry out of luck - which is of course what my daddy taught me it meant when i was little...]

Anyway, I looked at those ugly easter eggs, and I thought of Isaiah 64:6 - our works of righteousness are like filthy rags - or filthy eggs, rather. And then I thought of the new testament response to that verse - I mean the whole new testament is a response to that verse - but the one I always think of as the response - Titus 3:5 - Its not by works of righteousness, but according to his mercy, He saves us.

No - not everything is a theological lesson at our house, but might as well take advantage when we can.

I don't even have pictures of the finished project. I couldn't even photograph them.

It was a good thing that I live with a bunch of good natured people. Damn internet research. never again.

Or probably a few more times. This probably won't be the last disastrous crafty moment we have. Oh well, we'll laugh all the way down the lane. Next time, though, someone else is cleaning all four pots and over 20 ingredients.