Wednesday, June 1, 2011

We've moved to



The NEW blog is 

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Friday, May 27, 2011

Okay, THIS is really the end.

Just a friendly reminder...

Those of you who have subscribed to "documenting our days" and are STILL GETTING THIS in your RSS feed,  don't forget to change the link to:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The end

This is the last post of

It's been fun to blog here and "document our days" the last 3 1/2 years.  It has whet my appetite for writing, and has made me think about writing more seriously.

So, this is not the end of my blogging may really only be the beginning.

A HUGE thanks goes out to Kevin Dowker for the (I don't even WANT to know how many) hours of work he has put into this project.  It all started with a simple phone call on New Year's Day asking Kevin how to make TABS on my blog.  Six months and a bunch of hard work later, he has transformed it into this...

(drum roll, please....)

May it be...For the Glory of HIS Name (No....not Kevin Dowker's name--the name of Jesus.  My husband says this pronoun is rather ambiguous and I need to clarify).  

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Historic Half-Marathon

I approach road races the same way I do childbirth:  lots of chap-stick, hydration, a good watch, and a motivational playlist on my IPOD.  For the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon, it was no different.

In the spirit of race recaps (this is a link to the last time I ran this race) 
Here is My 2011 RACE REVIEW (Mile Markers are Approximate):

Mile 1:  I start in the way back so that psychologically I feel fast as I pass everyone.

Mile 3:  I feel like I'm in an inverted parade as people on the sidelines cheer, hand out Twizzlers and other goodies, and ring bells.

Mile 4:  A seventy year old man in front of me is running without a shirt.  I watch his love handles bounce up and down for awhile, contemplating entropy and other deep topics.

Mile 5:  People on the sidelines are passing out cups of water with a lime.  I pass by them, change my mind, and GO BACK so that I can get a drink.  I chug... and realize immediately they are passing out VODKA with a sugar-coated rim.

Mile 7:  A man with a long brown pony tail and abnormally large calves is wearing dainty women's sandals.  I take one headphone out of my ear and ask, "How's that working for you?" and hope that I don't sound snotty as I pass him.

Mile 8:  The shirt in front of me says Pain is temporary-Pride is Forever, and I contemplate whether or not that is true (Forever?  Really?),  and whether or not pride (regardless of how long it endures) should be the motivation.

Mile 9:  A man at the top of the biggest hill in the race is holding a sign that says, "Chuck Norris never ran a half-marathon."  I smile, find new inspiration, and tell Chuck Norris jokes to myself the rest of the way up the hill.

Mile 10:  Two-ton-calves-sandal-man is ahead of me now and I mentally take a laso, catch him, and reel him in (It's called mental imagery...WHAT?'ve never tried it?).  Once he's right in front of me,  I pretend like I'm in a wheelchair and he's pulling me (Don't knock it;  it works...kind of).

Mile 12:  I pass my car and wonder what the ramifications would be if I just hopped in and drove away.  I'm mad at myself that I can't sustain an 8 minute mile pace (even in the wheel chair) for the second half of the race.

Mile 13:  I have absolutely no reason to sprint to the finish line.  No one is waiting for me and no one there cares.  I am listening to a song on the IPOD and wondering how it got on my running playlist.

 "Jesus, I am resting, the joy of Who you are..."

It completely does not fit the occasion... but then fits in every way.

*Time:  1:59:20

Monday, May 16, 2011

Can't Not

When Melissa became a vegan, she was quick to say that it was most likely just the "next big thing."  We all laughed at her because 1. we've seen this pattern in her, but 2. we all can relate to this phenomenon that she put a name to.   I, too, have a tendency to get excited about something, spend a bunch of time and energy on it only to get sick of it and move on to the next thing that will bring an adrenaline rush.

In the last 6 months I've been working on a project...and quitting the project....picking it back up....and despising it....going back to it....wishing I had never started it....feeling motivated about it....feeling discouraged about it...loving it...hating it...but all along knowing that I can't NOT do it.

It's a vulnerable thing:  trying something.  Doing something.  Many days I'd rather not attempt anything at all, and just enjoy the benefits of what others have done. Other days I feel more ambitious and I desire not only to consume culture, but to create it.

I have no idea what will come of my efforts, and (as a friend just told me), I may never know.  Am I creating enough tension yet?  Yes?  No?  Maybe?  Stay tuned for the "UNVEILING".....

Saturday, May 14, 2011


I love to blog.  Ever since Clint Clifton explained this term to me and designed a blog to use during the Iceland Project, I have really enjoyed the new hobby.  I have found blogging to be a great outlet for creativity, a fun way to keep in touch with friends and family around the globe, and (surprisingly) a way to meet new people.

When we were in Iceland, I got a phone call from an American woman who found my blog and just happened to be in the area visiting family.  She came over for lunch, we found out she lives in Northern Virginia, and have kept in touch through facebook ever since.  Last week, she brought us dinner and gifts for the kids after moving houses (again).

Another woman found our blog on a google search while we were in Iceland, was planning on going through Iceland on her way to Europe, and asked if I needed anything.  At the time I was pregnant, and that generous woman stuffed her suitcase full of Kraft Spiral Mac and Cheese, Saltines, and maternity jeans and delivered them right to our door step in Reykjavik.

I could go on about the blog reader who sent us a BEYOND WORDS amazing gift this year or the blog reader who brought me curtains in Iceland (Johanna, did you want those back?), but really what I want to highlight are the blog readers who have given me ENCOURAGEMENT to keep writing.  The last year has not been the easiest, and I know I haven't recorded everything that I've gone through as thoroughly as I set out to do.  Recently, someone "chastised" me for not writing more about my experience with Gracie, and it really made me start to think...

All I'll say for now is that I have been taking VERY SERIOUSLY my New Year's Resolution of writing more and seeing where it leads to the point of paying for childcare every other week (You know that's gotta be serious).   More to be revealed soon...

Monday, May 9, 2011

My Cons of Homeschooling

And now the moment you've all been waiting for....

I've made it sound pretty good, huh?  Field trips, short school days, rich learning experiences for everyone, and math lessons over pancakes in our pajamas.  So, WHY DOESN'T EVERYONE DO THIS?

Well, let me preface this by saying that these may not really be CONs of homeschooling, just CONs of MY first year homeschooling.  Maybe other moms who homeschool do not experience these CONS.  It might just be unique to me because I had a baby at the beginning of the school semester (a baby who had two open heart surgeries, mind you), moved two times, and lived in a town where I hardly knew any other homeschooling moms.


My biggest CON of homeschooling this year was the feeling of isolation.  Have you ever done a really hard work out with a group of people?  Because there is competition, conversation, and a sense of togetherness, the work out is tolerable and at times even enjoyable.  Try doing the same work out alone, and it's just plain harder.  There were some moments this year where I felt the tumbleweeds rolling by...those moments usually came when the only source of competition during math games and spelling bees were stuffed and/or plastic.

If you're an extrovert like me, it's essential to find a homeschooling co-op.  We were on the waiting list for one in our area all year long, but never got in.  This would not have been a con if I had quickly connected to other homeschooling families in the area and had more learning outings with others.


Homeschooling means that you are not only the Language Arts teacher, Math teacher, Science and History teacher, but you're also the cafeteria worker, the janitor, the nurse, the assistant principal, and the recess supervisor.  After trying to, also, give attention to the specials such as art, music, computers, PE, and library, you are the bus driver and the after-school care.

I vacillated between two extremes all year long:
1. trying to give my kids an above-average learning experience in all of the above mentioned categories and wearing myself out....
2. or doing the bare minimum and then feeling guilty that I wasn't doing more.


If you choose to homeschool, you need to be both confident in your reasons and prepared for the criticism.  You need to learn how to maneuver through conversations with a lump in your throat while you are being critiqued on an area of your home-schooling you feel insecure about. You need to be able to stomach the comments people will make about how lousy of an education home-schoolers receive,  disregard the soliloquies about socialization, and be confident that you are doing what is best for your child at that particular point in time.


Let me illustrate with a story:

The other day I heard a story of a girl who had a normal public school experience all the way through high school.  There were no issues with this girl until she went away to another state for college.  After being dropped off, there was heightened anxiety, severe home-sickness, multiple trips back home, and an inability to stay focused on her school work.  Finally the parents decided it was best for their daughter to attend a local college where these issues wouldn't come up.

I laughed out loud when I heard this story.  Not because I'm a cold-hearted snake, but because IF THAT GIRL HAD BEEN HOME-SCHOOLED, WE NEVER WOULD HEAR THE END OF IT.  I guess that's just what comes with the territory.  Home-schooling is different, so it's put under the microscope more.


So, there you have it.  Just like everything in life, there are advantages and disadvantages to educating your kids at home.  As far as what we'll do next year, we'll just have to wait and see where we are living and assess it then.  For us, the choice to homeschool is not a final one.  Each year, we have to assess what is best for each of our kids in light of what is going on in our lives.  It's a decision that will be given a lot thought and prayer.  Stay tuned for the rest of the story...

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Pros of Homeschooling: Part 4

I've alluded to this in other posts, but I have found a huge advantage of homeschooling is being able to determine what curriculum* my children spend their day studying and discussing.  During our unit on Egypt, many questions came up about death and the afterlife.  I was thankful that I was able to direct the discussion on these difficult matters, point my kids to the Bible for answers, and freely point out the wrong thinking of our ancestors (Don't be tempted to call me narrow-minded...Do YOU really think our ancestors in Egypt went to eternal joy in the afterlife if--and ONLY IF--their dead heart weighed the same as a feather?!).

During the Advent season, we spent time learning the Christmas story and during Lent, highlighted the significance of the Easter.  I know many Christians who do a good job teaching their kids and instilling in them Christian values even though they are in public school.  That is not the point.  I'm simply observing, after home-schooling for the first time, that it is a big advantage to be in control of your curriculum.

*The curriculum we chose this year:
Sonlight: Language Arts and History
MathUSee:  Math
Random books from Tracee Pelt:  Science and Social Studies

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


In late March, I got pulled over for the first time in my life. I was on my way to a pediatric cardiologist appointment in Charlottesville and had even made a commitment that morning to NOT, under any circumstances, speed. That commitment apparently only lasted 20 minutes because on Route 3 a sheriff flagged me down and gave me a ticket. I felt distraught...ashamed...helpless.

There was only one hope: a court date on May 3rd.

Today I woke up and rushed the three girls out the door to the Spotsylvania General District Court. I was shaky because I didn't know what I should plead nor what to expect, but I tried to sell it to the kids as a fun field trip.

"Will there be a KID'S SECTION at this courtroom?" Haley wondered.

The more she learned about what to expect from our outing, the more unimpressed she became. A room full of people who had done bad things, a judge, and a lot of waiting. Oh, and a long drive to the other county.

"Can you please not call this a field trip?" She asked, rolling her six-year old eyes.

We listened to Part Four of Mere Christianity as we made our way down south of the Rappahannock. After getting lost deep off of exit 126 and having to stop twice to ask for directions, I was getting more and more nervous as the clock edged closer to 9:30. I stepped on the gas and then realized the irony of the situation: speeding so that I could go to court to pay a speeding ticket. Haley was getting carsick on the curvy roads and I was beginning to regret not just paying the fine online. We arrived at the Spotsylvania Courthouse at 9:31 and, after digging through a suitcase in our car to look for a pacifier, had to jog through the unfamiliar campus to find the General District Court. Once inside the right building I was informed that cell phones were not allowed to even ENTER the courtroom. I tried to explain that my cell phone was dead, it's charger far away in Pennsylvania so it wouldn't disrupt in any way, but the sherriff kindly told me to either go back to my car or hide it in the bushes outside.

We akwardly reversed ourselves back out the door and I attempted to hide my phone in the mulch pit so no criminals could find it. Back through security check-in and, this time, I passed. As I opened the double doors to go in the court room I noticed multiple signs saying the same thing: No shorts allowed.

I stared at the sign. I stared down at my shorts. Was this whole hour-long trip in vain? Would the judge refuse to speak to me since my calves were exposed? I tried to imagine how long it would take me to safety pin the car mats together to make a skirt and then remembered: I had suitcases still in the car from our Pennsylvania trip. I told the kids to hold on to either side of the stroller and we ran to the parking lot where I threw on jeans and hoped the construction workers weren't looking.

Through security check-in for the third time, and this time they wished me luck and waved to the baby who had now become comfortable enough to coo at them. We took our seats by the aisle and had just gotten settled with our Highlights magazines when Gracie's pacificer did a projectile launch down the aisle and she let out a jubilant "WAwaWAwaWAWAWAWA!"

A sheriff came over and asked us to wait in the hallway until our case was called. At this point I was ready to go to the public library down the street and pay the fine on a computer. We waited in the hallway on the floor until we were called to the front. The judge was trying to hide his smile as Gracie was gnawing on her toes and asked me for my statement. I sighed. What could I say? I told him that I was guilty and that I had come simply to ask for mercy. The kids, dressed in their Easter dresses, blinked at him with their baby blues. He sighed, looked through my flawless record, gave me $50 off the ticket and sent me on my way.

I think I spent almost that much to GET to the courthouse, but nonetheless...a rich learning experience indeed. Over brunch I got to teach my girls about the dangers of speeding and this evening in our prayers we thanked Jesus for being our advocate before the Great Judge and for giving mercy even when we are found guilty.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Learning to Chew

My best friend from Wisconsin recently became a Christian.  What I love most about talking with Melissa Kane Snider is that she is not versed in Christian lingo nor learned in evangelical expressions.  Conversing with her and her experience of following Jesus is fresh and life-giving.

Recently Melissa asked me if I had read any C.S. Lewis.

"Yes,"  I answered proudly.  "Colby is reading the Chronicles of Narnia to the kids every night before bed."

I could almost hear her rolling her eyes over the phone.

"No..not his children's fiction.  Have you read any of his adult level books?"

I went on the explain that I found his style too heavy and his points too thick to chew.  I simply did not have time in my life to take a fine tooth comb to my theology and splice hairs with Lewis.

She sounded disappointed.  "Everyone always says that.  Why do so many Christians think that?"

After hanging up the phone I began to consider my lazy habits as a Christian.  Maybe instead of complaining about the thickness of the meat, I needed to work at strengthening my jaw.  Thinking about the deeper things of God to the end that I could articulate them better to others.  Enough Christian Living easy reading.   The time had come to delve into the Christian classics.

Now, don't applaud me yet.  I've only been listening to his most famous work, Mere Christianity, in the car while i go places, but it's a start.  I'm not sure if it's easier or harder to do it that way.  I feel like I have to listen to his paragraphs two or three times before I feel ready to move on to the next section.  Sometimes I'll pause it to just reflect or pray that the truths will sink deep into my bones.  It's truly an amazing work.

As I've been listening, I am both inspired and defeated as a writer.  Inspired because I know that I, too, want to spend my life writing about my journey with God and defeated because I could never in my wildest dreams be as articulate as he.  But I digress from the point entirely (Hey!  That sounded EXACTLY like something He would say!).

Today I'm blogging about this book because...when I find something good, I want EVERYONE I know and love to also experience it.  If you're a Christian, this book will deepen you in places you didn't even know needed strengthening.  And, if you're not a Christian, you really should be.  I'll let C.S. Lewis tell you all the reasons why.  You can order it HERE.