Wednesday, December 1, 2010

That Would Be Me

I had a few moments of introspection yesterday.

Who am I really? What word, words, or name describes me best? Where does my identity truly lie?

(In other words, I set up a new email account, and all variations of "Jamie D." were already taken.)

I wanted something easy to remember and easy to spell, something simple that didn't involve my occupation, my kids' names, or any dates.

I finally found one that encompasses everything that I value in my earthly life...because without the first three letters, I wouldn't have Mike or my kids. Without Mike and the kids, I wouldn't be the homemaker that I am. Without the kids, I would not be the homeschooling mom that I am.

Yep, my new email address reflects what I went to school MRS!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Of Chess and the Study of the English Language

There's nothing like a nice game of chess before breakfast...

...if you can talk your big sister into playing with you!

*** *** ***

Jaela and Macey began studying Latin and Greek roots this year, and although Anya won't officially begin the full program until next year, she has been learning along with them. They learn four new roots per week, then do a comprehensive review at the end of the week. During this week's review:

Anya: Hey, Mommy! Curro, cursum is just like corro in Spanish! Run! (Then, a few minutes later...) And Mommy, I haven't been pathos very bonus lately.

Translation for those of you not "up" on your Greek and Latin roots: Pathos means feeling, and bonus is good.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay...aka AAAACCCKKKK!!!!

We were going to move ourselves, so I started packing (slowly) in September.

Then our plans changed, and we decided to have the movers do most of the work and only take some of the stuff ourselves. So I unpacked a few things, rearranged others, and quit packing.

Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay.

As happens more than occasionally in this household, we then changed our minds again and decided to move ourselves. No movers.

Ay, ay, ay, ay, ay.

I have two weeks to pack up the house.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Almost Alexander

Remember Alexander and his terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day?

My Thursday was only slightly better.

Our day started at 5:00 a.m., with excited whispering from four little voices upstairs. Only four more hours until their dentist appointments! I made them go back to bed, but none of us went back to sleep, so an hour later we officially started our day. It was gray, cloudy, and cold.

With beds made, rooms straightened up, and all four kids dressed, we started school. While they were working on their math, I started my coffee and the laundry. In hindsight, my first attempt at pouring a cup of coffee was the first warning that my day was NOT going to go as planned.

It was cold. It was clear. And it most definitely was NOT coffee.

So THEN I poured the pot of water into the coffee maker, and waited a little longer for my first cup of coffee. I should have just gone back to bed.

The girls finished their "at the table" schoolwork before we had breakfast, and after we ate, they finished their chores and got ready to go, finishing schoolwork "on the fly". We were planning to leave the house at 8:30, leaving plenty of time for the 15 minute drive to the dentist's office and our 9:00 appointment. At 8:25, I finished getting dressed and ran upstairs to do my final "leave the house ready to be shown" check.

On my way up the stairs, my skirt fell down.

I made a very quick decision to go with my back-up outfit, and ran back downstairs to change. Of course, I couldn't just throw the first outfit on the floor, because the house had to be left "show ready", so I hung everything back up neatly and scrambled into jeans and a sweater. After a hurried final, final check, we loaded up the van and pulled out of the driveway at 8:40.

Halfway down the street, I asked Jaela if she had locked the front door when I asked her to..."Oh, no, Mom, I forgot!" Growling, I turned around and went back to the house. I ran through the garage and into the house to lock the front door from the inside, only to find that it was already locked. I chose NOT to scream, took a deep breath, and got back in the van.

We pulled out of the driveway at 8:45, and signed into the dentist's office at 8:58. Whew! I hate being late.

An hour and no cavities later, we piled back into the van and headed to Goodwill. I am a big believer in combining errands once we're already out of the house. I should have just gone home.

Two hours and an overflowing shopping cart later, we were all starving. We had one more stop to make, so we went through the drive-thru at Chik-Fil-A to get lunch.

With a horrible grinding, crunching noise, my window refused to roll back up. Not with the automated up and down button. Not with pure willpower. Not even with all the elbow grease my already tired arms could muster.

So with the window rolled up only a quarter of the way, and sunglasses on to keep stuff out of my eyes, we headed to our last stop. By necessity it turned from a let's-all-go-in kind of errand into mom-will-just-drop-stuff-off-outside kind of errand, and when I was finished unloading the van, I managed to muscle the window up to at least halfway closed, and then we went home.

In the driveway, I managed to push and pull and coax the window up within a few inches of being closed, then took a break to put Isaak down for his nap. While I was inside, I called Mike to confirm which repair shop I should use. He answered his phone (a small miracle, actually get through to my pilot husband on the first try) and confirmed that I should take it in to the repair shop that we've used before. I called the repair shop, hoping for a Friday morning appointment.

Could I bring it in now? Well, my son just went down for a nap... They close at 5, and it's already 2, and it may take a while to get the door panel off, diagnose the problem, and get it repaired, so it's really up to me... A short nap is even worse than no nap, but it looks like it could rain again at any minute...

I got everyone ready to go again, and 10 minutes later, we were on our way to the shop. After sitting in the waiting area for an hour, the news came. It's an easy fix, but they'll have to order the $158 part, and it won't be in until Monday. Which is when we can pay the rest of the $378 total. Great.

They jimmy my window into a mostly closed position, which whistles horribly, and a tiny stream of cold air is directed straight into my eyes. At least it wasn't too dark yet for sunglasses.

Since we were already out, we stopped at Walmart to pick up a few groceries, then headed home for the second time that day. And for the second time that day, I forgot to stop at the gas station.

It could have been worse.

And for the record, I have no plans to move to Australia.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sing A New Song

Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Psalm 96:1

Isaak: (at the top of his lungs, of course)
Ha-yay-yu-yah, Ha-yay-yu-yah!
We all live in a yeyow submarine! starts with Hallelujah, and I'm pretty sure no one has ever sung that particular song does it count as singing a new song to the LORD?

Saturday, November 13, 2010


This morning Isaak played Jenga all by himself. He didn't create the tower and pull a single block out to relocate on the top of the tower as the game is designed. No, he just used the blocks to create ships, cannons, soldiers, prisoners, and battle scenes. He invents a new game every time he plays, and every time it is called Jenga.

This morning, his soldiers were created to look like Ts, each with a horizontal Jenga block balanced on top of a vertical one. He set them up in a perimeter around the top of the coffee table, surrounding a building he'd created from more Jenga blocks, and then came running to tell me all about it.

"Mommy, come look! It's the Battle of New Orleans! And it was 1954! And one of the soldiers is Andrew Jackson! And George Washington was there too! And there was a lot of fighting, and only these two guys lived!"

Anyone up for a nice game of Jenga?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Not An Average Vocabulary

(Important background information: Jaela has been re-reading the Grandma's Attic series, and Anya is reading the 1930s versions of Nancy Drew. There. Now these little stories will make more sense. Read on.)

The other night, the girls wore their new footed jammies to bed. Jaela came to the kitchen just before bedtime to tell me how much she liked them. (It was a long monologue...)
Jaela: (wrapping up the monologue) ...and Mommy, Macey and Anya just look so CUNNING in theirs, don't you think?!?

Today, playing paper dolls in the living room:
Macey: Isaak, PLEASE don't bug me!
Isaak: (indignant) This is not called bugging you.
Macey: But you ARE!
Anya: (in her most gentle tone of voice) Macey, PLEASE don't speak to him so harshly!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I am loving that
what she loved then... what she loves now.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween, Schmalloween

Mommy could care less about Halloween. Daddy thinks it's fun.

Costumes were created out of what we had around the house, and the kids went Trick-or-Treating around the neighborhood with Mike and our neighbor Mark
(who got roped into helping wrangle four excited kids... in the dark).
I stayed home and watched football.

Everyone was happy.
(No, really, they were excited! But as everyone knows, pirates and indian princesses don't smile,
Davy Crockett has to look fierce, and fighter pilots only look really cool if they have their visors down.)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

A These-Kids-Don't-Know-How-Lucky-They-Are Family Day

Last Saturday we went to a Family Day at "Daddy's work".
It was not your average company picnic.

This company picnic featured helicopters to explore:

And scramble all over, in, and around:

They ate hot dogs and junk food, played in the giant inflatable obstacle course,
and then went for Humvee rides.

As a group, all the kids did a little PT together, ran uphill and through the obstacle course, then set off in "tactical formation" to accomplish a mission. They got hot, dirty, tired, and didn't want the activities to end.

Most of us are familiar with the saying, "It's not over until the fat lady sings."
Well, for these kids, it's not over until the helicopters leave.
But eventually, leave they did.
So we did too.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Sunday Afternoon Excursion

Yesterday afternoon we took the kids to a local farm. It was 85˚ outside, and extremely dusty.

We are still recovering.

When we arrived, the kids were cool, clean, and happy. After they had:

*petted farm animals, including a few llamas, goats, sheep, and donkeys,
*climbed up, over, and around massive piles of hay,
*swung in hammocks,
*looked at horses,
*made a few new friends,
*played checkers on a gigantic checker board,
*gone down "The Black Hole", a giant underground culvert-style slide,
(over and over and over and over and...)
*climbed over, around, and under old tractor tires,
*wandered through a past-its-prime, dusty cornfield maze,
*gone down "The Black Hole",
(over and over and over and over and...)
*climbed up on and pretended to drive an old tractor,
*waved at the people on the hayride,
*gone down "The Black Hole",
(over and over and over and over and...)
*watched the final "pig races" of the day,
*gone down "The Black Hole",
(over and over and over and over and...)
*petted and fed the bunnies,

they were hot, dirty, and thirsty...but still happy.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Personal History, American History...and a Little Math

Since we moved to the east/south and started visiting historical sites, I have been trying to remember whose North Carolina log cabin home I visited when I was in 8th grade. I remembered that it was a former president's birthplace, and I thought we went there on a field trip, but I couldn't remember any of my classmates being there.

Today the light bulb finally went on, and everything became clear again. It turns out that I don't remember any classmates being there because they weren't. It wasn't a school field trip. When I asked Mom about it, she reminded me that she, Randy, and I went with Ruby Knapp to visit James K. Polk's birthplace in April 1990, and she sent me this picture.

(Randy, Me, and "Aunt" Ruby Knapp)
Thanks for the picture, Mom!

It just so happens that this week in American History, Jaela and Macey are learning about James K. Polk, the eleventh president. Today I opened our Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Presidents of America to the pages about James Polk, and read that:

James Polk was the eleventh president, and his political career began after he moved to Tennessee from North Carolina, where he was born. (That was my "ah ha!" moment.) I pointed out to the girls that:

Me: He was Governor of Tennessee for a while, but he was born in North Carolina. That's whose cabin I visited when I was a kid!
Macey: (completely innocently) Was he still governor when Mommy visited his home?

Ahem. Insert short math lesson here involving dates from the mid-1800's and a certain birthdate circa 1976.

There. Aren't you glad we cleared all that up?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Another Birthday!

Happy 9th Birthday, Jaela and Macey!
(Jaela chose a sewing theme for her cake, and Macey chose art for hers...of course!)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Sign Is In The Yard

...which somehow makes it feel as though it's actually happening!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Any Word Will Do...

In the car this morning on the way to church, Jaela and Macey were examining their dimes they'd set aside for the offering.

Macey: Hey! My dime was made in 1996! Mommy, are old coins valuable?
Me: If they're old enough, they can be.
M: Well, how old is 1996?
Me: That's the year Mommy and Daddy got married.
M: Wow! This dime is really old!
Me: Um. Not really.
Jaela: Hey, Macey, I know! You could save it and give it to Mommy and Daddy for their next university!

University. Anniversary. Any word will do.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Sunset Over Tennessee

...Once we give ourselves up to God, shall we attempt to get hold
of what can never belong to us -- tomorrow? Our lives are His,
our times in His hand, He is Lord over what will happen,
never mind what may happen...

Today is mine. Tomorrow is none of my business.

-- Elisabeth Elliot, Keep A Quiet Heart

The Hermitage

On Sunday afternoon, The Hermitage, Home of Andrew Jackson, was invaded by the D. family. Set on over 1100 acres just north of Nashville, The Hermitage includes Andrew and Rachel Jackson's mansion and garden, their original log cabin, a museum, and numerous outbuildings and slave cabins.

After a short introductory movie about Andrew Jackson's life, we walked through the museum, then headed over to the mansion. Guides dressed in period costumes took us through the main house, pointing out the early 1800's wallpaper that Rachel had imported from France (with a theme of Homer's Odyssey), the 174 year-old walnut banister, and of particular interest to my girls...a combination writing and sewing table that belonged to their daughter-in-law, complete with lace she had tatted.

Outside, as Jaela, Macey, and Isaak danced through the garden chasing the million or so butterflies, we dragged Anya with us on our way to visit Andrew's and Rachel's tomb (the pillars of which are visible behind Anya).

They had a horse-drawn wagon tour of some of the outbuildings, fields, and Andrew and Rachel's original log home.

Yeah, we didn't take it.

Instead, we explored the creek behind the springhouse, followed a path through the woods to the site of the former slave quarters, stopped for a photo op, and dodged horse apples along the wagon path.

We stopped to listen to a costumed historian talk about Andrew Jackson's part in the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812, and he demonstrated the loading and firing of a musket. When the rain that had been threatening all day finally came, we all huddled under a tree (next to a couple from Eugene, OR!), and kept on listening.

That wrapped up our visit, and after a brief stop at the gift shop, we loaded up and headed home. In Andrew's day, it was a four hour carriage ride from The Hermitage to Nashville. The drive back to Clarksville didn't take nearly that long. Even so, some of us might have fallen asleep on the drive home, but I'm not naming any names.

Jaela, Macey, and Anya are holding on to their brochure/maps as souvenirs, and when I walked into the kitchen at 6:30 this morning:

Mike: Ask Isaak what he learned this morning.
Me: Isaak, what did you learn this morning?
Anya: I'll tell Mom! I taught him that Andrew Jackson was the first president to have a nickname!
Mike: Isaak, what was Andrew Jackson's nickname?
Isaak: (with a grin) Old Hickory!

Monday, August 23, 2010


...only when I began to get hooked on the Hardys, I don't think I was as young as she is...

Friday, August 20, 2010


I have been AWOL, I know. Wanna hear all of my excuses? Nah. That would take too long. Let's just say things have been crazy around here. (So, what else is new, right?)

Mike's current schedule is somewhat unpredictable, which really messes with my own schedule! He's working nights, coming home usually sometime between 2 and 6 (yes, those are both a.m.) and going back to work around 11 (also a.m.). The kids are really good about staying quiet while he sleeps, but there have been some interesting adjustments to our daily schedule, to say the least!

We are moving right along with school, in spite of all the "extra" stuff I've been working on around the house. Unfortunately, we didn't quite finish painting the entire house before Mike started his crazy/busy schedule, so guess who is getting to finish the job! I am itching to get to the sorting/packing up part of getting ready to put the house on the market and move, so to keep myself honest, I had to promise Mike that I would finish the painting before I started packing. Because just promising myself wouldn't work.

I really like sorting and packing.

Painting...not so much.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Macey came running down the stairs.

M: Mommy! Can I change my shirt? It's got some of Jaela's blood on it!
J: How did it get Jaela's blood on it?
M: Jaela has a bloody nose!
J: Why?
M: (matter-of-factly...) Because we were fighting and I punched her in the nose.

Oh. Of course. I guess that would do it!

I think maybe my little ladies have been reading too many adventure/detective stories...

Thursday, June 24, 2010


After choosing a pull-up to wear grocery shopping, Isaak decided to let me in on his thought processes.

I: I chose this pull-up because it has a robot on it, and I'm going to be a robot when I grow up, after I'm a Navy Seal. Do you know why?
Me: Why?
I: Because I'm a boy.
I: But pretty soon I won't be a boy any more because I'm growing up to be a man.

Later that day, sitting with Mr. Mark and Ms. Mary outside on their patio, Isaak wondered why Emmie (the beagle) had to go inside.

Mary: Because she's too hot. (it was 92˚ and 65% humidity)
I: Why is she too hot?
Mary: Because she is wearing a fur coat. If you were wearing your warm coat outside right now, wouldn't you be too hot?
I: Yes...but why did you put a coat on her?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I have finally gotten through to Isaak that "Because" is not a reason. Our conversations used to go something like this:

I: Mommy, do you know why I took my shirt off?
Me: No, why did you take your shirt off?
I: Because.

I'm not sure that our conversations have improved much, though. Now they tend to go something like this:

I: Mommy, do you know why I am wearing no shirt?
Me: No, why aren't you wearing a shirt?
I: Because I can get lots and lots of exercise running around like THIS!

And he runs off to demonstrate that THIS means running in gigantic circles, while I sit and wonder how that necessitates being shirtless. On the other hand, if Mr. Mark asks him if he likes lemonade:

I: Yes!
Mark: Why?
I: Because it's YUMMY!

Maybe I just ask the wrong questions!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Backseat Conversations

In the van, Jaela and Macey sit in the very back seats. Anya and Isaak sit in the middle row. As we were driving to the grocery store the other day, Jaela and Macey were talking to each other, and Anya tried to join in the conversation.

Jaela, with a very condescending tone: Anya, WE are having a BACKseat condersation, NOT a MIDDLE seat condersation. Please don't interrupt.

Anya heaved a very deliberate, exasperated sigh. (I imagined eye-rolling and head-shaking to go with it...)

Anya: It's conVERsation, Jaela, with a v, not a d.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Anya, Lately

Anya turned 6 in March!
She has developed her own unique sense of style,
learned to ride her bike,
and lost her first tooth!
(And did it with style...on a picnic in Kentucky!)

Excuses, excuses

I haven't posted anything on this blog lately.

This is mostly why:

But we're at least 3/4 of the way done. We think.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Hike Along the Little River

On our last day in Gatlinburg, after the morning clouds had lifted, Mike, Pat and I took the kids on what was supposed to be a short 1.2 mile hike to a waterfall.

When we got to the trailhead, it turned out that it was a much longer hike than we'd thought, and as we were discussing the issue... started to hail.

We ran back to the van, piled in, and headed back down the road toward the cabin.

It stopped hailing.

An extra long hike was still out of the question, but we had promised the kids an adventure, so we pulled over by the side of the road to let them have a closer look at the river rushing over the rocks.

They thought that was pretty neat.

It was so beautiful that we decided to go farther upstream.

We found a horse trail to follow, and Isaak found an accommodating Grandpa.

We stopped for a group picture...

...and it started to hail. Again.

And it hailed harder than it had the first time.

So once again, we ran back to the van. The kids happily exchanged their wet shirts for dry ones, and we headed back down the road again toward the cabin and the nice warm fire.

We had promised the kids an adventure; they got one they'll never forget!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Galivanting With Grandparents

While Grandpa Pat and Grandma Suzie were here visiting last week, we took a trip to the Smoky Mountains. We stayed in a cabin in the Gatlinburg area, and spent our days exploring, hiking, playing games, and learning (of course!).

(This is NOT the cabin we stayed in.)

* * *

We enjoyed the wide open spaces and the mountains,

explored little pieces of history (like old churches and graveyards),

got caught in a hail storm while we were following a trail,

and enjoyed sitting in front of a real wood fire.

The best part, though, was doing it all with Grandpa and Grandma!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Go Big Orange!

(That's a Ms. Mary-ism, for those of you who don't have the privilege of knowing her.)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Riddle Me This

A few evenings ago, Mike and the girls were all taking turns making up riddles. They were mostly things like "What lives in the water and looks like a fish, but isn't a fish?" (Answer: a dolphin) Nice and simple. Everyday examples of 6 and 8 and 33 year old humor. Until...

Anya: What has seven heads, ten horns, and seven crowns?

Mike and I stared at each other incredulously as Jaela and Macey shouted the answer in unison...

Jaela and Macey: The Satan dragon in the Bible!

Ahem. Yeah. Anyone up for a nice friendly game of Bible Trivia against my girls?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Little History Buff

At Goodwill last week, as I was sorting through the bookshelves, Isaak sat contentedly in the cart, surrounded by a growing pile of books. He picked them up and leafed through them, one by one.

I: What's dis one about, Mom?
Me: It's a book for Mommy and Daddy about Wilbur and Orville Wright, the men who invented the first airplane.
I: Oh. (pause) Is Amela Ehhaht in it?

Yeah. He knows about Amelia Earhart. And he's still only two.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Giant and David

Tonight at bedtime, Isaak was telling me all about the giant:

Isaak: ...and he had a shield, and a sword, and a hat, and a...what was dat ting called again?

Me: You mean his spear?

Isaak: Yeah, and den he put a rock in it...

Me: No, David had the sling and put a rock in it.

Isaak: Yeah, and den he killed the diant!

Me: Who was on David's side?

Isaak: (horrified) David's DOGGIE died?!?

Me: No! WHO was on David's side? Why could he kill the giant?

Isaak: Oh! God was on David's side. I tought you said David's DOGGIE died!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Short Answer

I have been asked by quite a few people lately why I haven't blogged in a while. Therefore, I am going to assume that ALL of you would like to know the answer!

Normal life has been no busier than usual. I am averaging two loads of laundry per day (plus some extra spring cleaning loads), and two loads of dishes per day. The house still doesn't clean itself, and the bathrooms have needed extra attention lately. (Isaak is out of diapers!) The grocery stores refuse to come to me, and these growing kids still insist on eating regularly. Our school workload has increased because we've had some catching up to do, and we've added in weekly art study and some extra reading (at their request!).

But that's just my normal life.

Some of you may have heard that we have another move looming large in our future, and that is one of the biggest things that has contributed to fewer blog posts. (I have another blog post brewing in my head about another contributing factor, but you'll have to be patient on that one!)

Even though the move is not for many months (if at all, this being the Army!), it has consumed my time. I spend almost every spare minute of quiet that I can find planning for 3-year-old preschool, 2nd grade, and 3rd grade - lesson plans, schedule, booklists - with the intent of starting our next school year on the Monday after this school year ends. That way, when the move actually does appear on our calendar, I won't have to try to juggle school as well as packing, moving, and unpacking. We'll be able to take some time off without falling behind.

We're also starting to prepare the house to put on the market. For now, that means I pack up books and anything else that can be easily stored so we don't have to try to paint around it all. Once we've got a room or two cleared of extra stuff, I get to start painting. Thrillsville.

On top of all that, the neighborhood garage sale I've been planning to participate in has been scheduled. Oh, no, not for sometime sensible and convenient, like May or June, but for April! So, I have about 4 weeks in which to finish sorting through the house, move stuff to the garage, and price everything. In my spare time.

In spite of all that, I really do plan to post more frequently...soon! Don't give up on me! :)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Family Pictures

My Side:

Jaela, Mike, Joan, Bill, Anya, Randy, Macey
Jamie, Selissa

His Side:
Josh, Mike
Macey, Isaak, Suzie, Jaela, Pat, Anya

Isaak, Jamie, Jaela, Heather, Anya, Josh
Mike, Macey, Ty
Hayden, Corbin

"Let Me 'Splain..."

"No, there is too much. Let me sum up."

(Sorry, that quote from The Princess Bride just "fit so nice, he said I could keep it." Acckk! Why is that movie so doggone quotable?!? Again, sorry!)

Anyway, to "sum up" our lives since my last post:

Christmas came and went. It was fun. And then we recycled the tree.

January came and went too. It was kind of a crazy month and included a trip to Oregon and a rare six inches of snow in Tennessee. I plan to post some pictures from both of those events soon.

So far, February hasn't been too bad. I'll try to do better about keeping you posted. :)