Saturday, September 17, 2005

Lots and Locks of Love

Monday (Sept. 12, 2005) was a hectic day… a really good day, but a downright busy day! If Woody hadn’t been doing all the driving, it’d have made a good choice for a “taxi mom” post.

The Woodyettes and I had a good school morning (we’re getting our routine down pretty well!) while Woody worked a half day. He came home at lunchtime and changed hats – for the afternoon we needed a personable chauffer!

There wasn’t time for a REAL lunch, so we grabbed a
Lunchable® (We don’t usually have them in the house, but at 10 for $10 last week I caved!) apiece, and headed out the door. Our first stop was my doctor’s office where I had an appointment for a small “procedure.” (Those family members who may be reading need not worry -- nothing life threatening! I just had four un-lovely beauty marks removed from my upper back. I’m a bit tender, but healing nicely.)

Next stop was our local
Fantastic Sam’s. Since early summer, Jelly has been trying to convince herself to get a haircut. Her true motivation is the fact that she is extremely tender-headed. I guess the preface to this needs to be understanding that other than a few inch-or-so trims, (one we counted as her official 1st haircut when she was five) Jelly has not really ever had a haircut. She, like all the babies in our family, was born and stayed basically bald for nearly a year. Once her beautiful blonde hair began to come in, it was destined (that’s definitely another story – one which she and most family members already know) to keep growing, at least until after she was baptized. That happened in June – she was indeed the beautiful blue-eyed, long-wavy-haired blondie, all in white, of my dreams. That special event fulfilled, she has been free all summer to choose a different look. At first she was very sure right away that she wanted the haircut (and the end of agonizing hair-brushing sessions), then when the appointed day came, she decided she’d wait until the end of the week. When the end of the week arrived, she informed me that she would wait until after we got home from our vacation so that she could have long braids when she wanted them. In similar fashion, the rest of the summer has progressed, swimming lessons and all. Then, as I brushed out her hair after last Saturday night’s bath and hairwashing, she informed me that she really did want her hair cut. Enough (pain), apparently, was enough!

Now, since her hair has been growing nonstop without interference, it was quite long. We had heard about a really neat program –
Locks of Love. So, in memory of her cousin, Brianica, this week Jelly had 12 inches of her beautiful blonde locks cut off, and then she donated her ponytails to make a wig for “a little bald girl who’d like not to be.” In this mama’s eyes, because of her beautiful heart, Jelly is more beautiful than ever with her bouncy new do!

Not to be left out, on that same Monday afternoon, Doodle had her first official haircut ever! Because of her gorgeous curls, I’ve never felt a need to do even an even-it-up kind of trim. Doodle had decided that she wanted to keep her LONG curls for a bit longer, so she had a mere two inches trimmed. She can still have french braids whenever the need arises! ;o) Usually it arises whenever the Woodyettes want to play some version of American Girls or Little House on the Prairie.

After all THAT fun, we still weren’t finished. Chauffer Woody next drove us to one of our two local libraries. Even if we weren’t homeschoolers, we would still be avid readers. It's in the gene pool. (Read that to mean that we read more books than our budget allows us to buy!) And on top of that, our homeschooling methods of choice cause us to spend LOTS of time and money (yup, overdue book fines!) at the library. We love living books!

After checking out, oh 30 or so books, (enough for about a week!) we were on our way home to a family night celebration dinner! Steak and caviar? Ah, goodness no!
Pizza and chocolate shakes!! Now that's love! ;o)

Regarding a Prophet Husband

While Woody is outside attempting to locate our yard (I’m pretty sure it’s hiding somewhere in the jungle out there!) and the Woodyettes are taking advantage of a beautiful sunny, cool, almost-autumn day to do some adventuring of their own, I thought I’d make an attempt at organizing my thoughts. I should probably be organizing the stuff in the old office, or doing laundry, or some such domestic chore. Soon.

It has been a week full of firsts. When I was in high school, I was SO faithful about writing in my journal. I am sorry to say that I have NOT been faithful about doing so ever since. I have missed the chance to record my thoughts and feelings about some incredibly important firsts as they happened. BUT, there is still LOTS of life to be experienced, and many firsts yet to come. So onward and upward! (WARNING – This may get a bit long… I’ve got a LOT on my mind!!)

Thoughts about Sunday, Sept. 11, 1st RS lesson taught for the 2005-6 year

I really enjoy teaching Relief Society… well, mostly. As much as I love the teaching part, the fact that the class is made up of ADULT women tends to make my stomach do acrobatics beginning about 12 hours before the class actually starts. I truly do love the lesson preparation, though. It is so good for me to have a specific gospel topic to study and focus on. It may be trite, but true, that the teacher learns so much more than the students do, no matter what the topic.

I feel a huge responsibility to rely on the spirit both as I prepare and teach these lessons. When I was set apart, the Bishop spoke to us about the fact that there are quite a few sisters who have been choosing not to attend Relief Society. He said that part of the reason I was being called was to help the sisters to want to be there. My teaching style is definitely different than any other of the current RS teachers… so far I’ve taught three lessons and they haven’t “fired” me yet, or even asked me to change my methods, so I guess I’m doing all right. Woody reminded me just yesterday, no matter how old we are, we all appreciate hearing “well done.” It feels even better to hear, “Thank you… that’s just what I needed to hear.” I do love teaching, and being appreciated for doing something I love is nice… and have to say that I am very grateful that our Heavenly Father has been blessing me with talents and opportunities to teach since I was very young.

(One problem with using this blog as a journal is that it is obviously NOT private. The idea is to share my thoughts, but if I come across as egotistical, it’s only because the only thoughts I have the right to share/publish are my own! If I make you crazy, obviously you can point and click and go read something else. ;o)

This calling is also good for me because it is really helping to form and strengthen relationships with the sisters in our ward. The gospel is always the same and always true, but all wards are not created equal. We have a wonderful one, but it took me/us a while to figure that out. More on that later, maybe.

This particular lesson, chapter 15 in the David O. McKay book, was an especially cool one to teach. (If you haven’t read it, you should. You can find it here.)

Yup, I said cool! I’ve always loved Pres. McKay, and now I have even more reasons to do so. He was an incredible husband! Just like my Woody in LOTS of ways! I recognize how blessed I am to have the most important someone in my earthly life share so many awesome qualities with a prophet!! ;o) Woody has a LOT to live up to… because now not only do all the sisters in the ward know how great he is, but his reputation as a fabulous hubby was also made known to the Elders of the ward during their priesthood lesson, by a reluctant Woody himself!

Hopefully none of the OTHER hubbies will find his example too hard to live up to and go postal on us! We could find our jungle outside covered with T.P.!

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Not Back to School

On this, the traditional first day of school for lots of kids and moms in our country, here at Wonderwood Academy we began our fourth week of not-going-to-public-school-again-this 2005-06 year. Let me first say a hearty “We truly DON’T believe homeschooling is right for all families.” And let me assure any and all friends or family who are as excited about their kids’ public-school experiences as we are about ours at home that we still love you forever. ;o)

We choose to homeschool pretty much on a year-round schedule. We LOVE the flexibility that allows us to take breaks when WE need them. It’s mighty nice to be able to take vacations during the peaceful (and yes, usually much less crowded) “OFF” season. And yes, we manage to provide “socialization” opportunities for the Woodyettes even with our crowd-avoiding preferences. We homeschool for lots of reasons, and we made the choice to do so even before Jelly Woodyette was born. I’ll leave that for another blog.

Today, though, was a near-perfect example of WHY homeschooling is right for us. We didn’t go on a spectacular field trip, we didn’t discover that one of the Woodyettes is a child prodigy, but we DID have a marvelous time learning TOGETHER.

I LOVE unit studies!

When we began our homeschool adventure during Jelly’s preschool years, my tendency as a “retired” public school teacher was to do “school at home.” I think most parents would agree that they “homeschool” beginning the day their first child is born, so counting that way, we’ve been homeschooling now for over eight years. The state of California only gives us credit beginning with 1st grade. (A bit ironic with all the hoop-la about Universal Preschool, but that is definitely for another blog!) Anyway, MY accounting says that since Jelly is beginning 3rd grade, and we did both Pre-K 3 and 4 before Kindergarten, we are now beginning our sixth year of “official” homeschooling. All that to say that my thoughts about HOW to do it has changed at LEAST twice a year, and if you do the math (aw, go ahead!) that makes 12 times – an even dozen! I’m sure we’ll continue to make changes as the girls grow and gain more ability to take charge of their learning, but I’m also sure that some form of unit studies will always be part of our adventures.

For social studies this year, we are focusing on the history and geography of our own country. The afternoon train departed for the first official state – Delaware. After a notebooking experience documenting our research of basic facts (location, state capital, state tree, state flower, state bird, state song, state motto, state… well, you get the idea), we took a side trip to practice counting and learning the word for apple in Spanish as we did a dot-to-dot of, naturally, an apple (a product of Delaware) and then another side trip to the Air Mobile Command (in Delaware). The AMC is a really awesome outdoor museum where you can see aircraft of all kinds. We, of course, did our tour virtually. The hands-on part was making, decorating (with a red, white, and blue patriotic theme) and then test-flying a paper airplane! We had the coolest discussion about pilots and what they need to know, what they have to be able to do, and even that they sometimes name their planes after their favorite girl! The test flights were a great success. The girls’ planes weren’t great for distance, but wonderful for acrobatics! As far as I was concerned, that was the end of school for today, but the Woodyettes were not finished. “Mama, be the band! We’re gonna do a parade!” So I oompahed a variation on Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever as they marched, danced, and tumbled around with their airplanes. It didn’t take long for a “float” to be constructed so that the parade would keep the watcher cheering!

My oompah gave out long before they did!

If I’d been thinking, I’d have gotten out a CD of marches and the parade would probably still be passing me by! ;o)

Back to the Future

As holiday weekends go, ours was pretty nice. :o) We usually try very hard NOT to plan anything that might take us away from home on Labor Day. This year especially, we wanted to stay here and work on the “home-reorganizing project” that Woody has mentioned in several of his posts. As with many good things, as you probably already know, it is taking TIME to come to pass! Way more time than I hoped, but it is SO worth it! With each bit of progress, we get closer to the vision I have for our home. Now that we’ve lived in it for most of four years, I think we’ve finally figured out how to make the best use of the space we have. (Or don’t have, but I prefer to look at the bright side of this one!) I cannot say honestly, yet, that any ONE room is finished, but there are several that are getting close!

Also this weekend, we were able to attend church as a family for the first time in several weeks. Sitting there in our usual row, I could literally feel the strength of the spirit as it filled my cup and overflowed. The topics of the week were not unexpected - the Newport Beach Temple and accompanying celebrations and dedications; the devastation, needs, and opportunities for service arising from that life-changing hurricane in the South; and the comings and goings of college students and missionaries – and encasing it all was an out-pouring of love for and gratitude toward our Savior that was almost palpable. If the meeting had gone on any longer (we went over by at least 20 minutes) I would probably have found myself making the long trek up to the stand. My knees are still not happy about those three hours of church, but the rest of me is truly joyful!

Except for thinking about the fact that my mama was at USC’s Norris Cancer Center beginning another round in her chemo, Labor Day itself was also a joy. One of Woody’s sisters and her new roommate braved the holiday traffic to come and spend the day hanging out with us. We didn’t go anywhere, we didn’t rent a bounce house or any movies, we didn’t even barbecue! And we had a really nice day! I should explain that although she is new as a roommate, Karen was new only to the Woodyettes (and only because they were too little to remember her from the all-too-few times they have seen her before). She’s been a special friend since Woody and I were in high school, and shares our love of the gospel, appreciation for a good laugh, and our passion for good music. Well, after just one day of stories, games, and just plain silliness, she’s now a special friend of the Woodyettes, too. Since they’ve loved their aunty from day one, seems she and her roomie are welcome to hang out here anytime they want to brave the traffic!

So, back to the future…

… because this whole weekend has given me cause to reflect on the fact that though the past is indeed past, the good parts are not now and need never be gone if we hold them in our hearts and use them to build upon.

And what about the not-so-good parts, you ask?

I’d say that is for another blog, but why would I want to do that?! ;o)

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Happy New Year!

The same mystique that causes people to make new plans and set new goals/resolutions on the first of January always hits me again in late July and early August as I begin to plan for the coming school year. We are off and running now, with two whole official weeks of this school year already over! It's been going very well and we've all been enjoying ourselves immensely. I didn't think I had any special need for a first-of-the-year-get-it-in-gear motivational experience of any kind. Wow was I wrong!

Sunday was the dedication of the Newport Beach California Temple. We’ve known since early summer that Woody was going to have the opportunity to sing with one of the dedication choirs. Late in July we found out that I was to be blessed with the chance to be in attendance at the temple during the same session, to share that experience with him. The anticipation would have been killer if we hadn’t been so busy this summer!!

It turned out to be an even more incredible day than I ever imagined. We were not even in the same room, and I only saw President Hinckley’s hand as he walked by the door of the room I was in and waved at us, then on the big screen, and then from a distance as he departed the site surrounded by amazing security. HOWEVER, the spirit that I felt that day was something I truly will not ever forget. I’m renewed, re-energized, and readier-than-ever for the coming year.

Does it matter that my arthritis doesn’t give me many breaks or that our new schoolroom wasn’t ready for the first day of school or that the air conditioner went out and the bill used up our cash reserve when both cars still need servicing or that the craziness of the summer has left the yard in a state resembling the Amazon or even that ant season probably won’t be over for another month? (Well…)

Nope. What matters is that I have a fantastic family and that we are doing what we need to be doing to get where we want to go and to be what we know we should be. One small step at a time, maybe, and most assuredly, there are things we can improve on, but we’re moving along the right road in the right direction and we’re doing it together.

So let’s celebrate!

Happy New Year!