Well, here it is, the end of winter. I love winter! Cold and snow, hot chocolate, warm soup, down blankets and flannel sheets. As much as I love winter, I dislike summer. Hot, sticky and full of bugs that bite. Blech! And spring makes me nervous with all the violent thunderstorms and tornado watches. This all means that from now until late September, I’m going to be crabby. You’ve been warned.
We took a somewhat impromptu trip to Mount Vernon on Thursday. It was tentatively on the schedule, depending on what the weather did, then off again when the children misbehaved, then back on again when I decided to show them mercy because it was really my bad mood that caused me to cancel the trip. Thursday morning dawned cool and clear, with chance of rain in the afternoon, and good moods and behavior all around, so we hit the road.
Here’s the children waiting with George and Martha. They are in their scout uniforms because I thought scouts are free during the school year. Turns out that it was just in February. They got a lot of attention wearing them.
On our way up to the mansion we met another homeschooling family that also uses Sonlight! Phil was wearing our Sonlight backpack, so the other mom started talking to us. They were visiting from Idaho.
This is the mansion and the bowling green right in front. Ol’ George sure knew how to live! Below is his view of the Potomac from his back porch. Very nice.
Washington added a cupola on the roof. He would open the cupola’s windows in the summer to let the heat out. I can’t imagine living here without air conditioning! On top of the cupola is a weather vane made to look like a dove with a twig in it’s mouth.
To keep all the animals at Mount Vernon from getting too close to the mansion, Washington built a low wall into a hill. It was better than a fence, because you couldn’t see it! If you were playing on the lawn and didn’t know the wall was there, you might fall off of it and everyone would laugh. This may be why these walls were called Ha-Ha walls. Here are Pumpkin Girl and Boo about to fall off a Ha-Ha wall.
We stayed until lunch time and still didn’t get a chance to see everything. We bought annual passes so we can go back as often as we like.
Well, I’m back. All of my blog posts from my original homeschoolblogger site have been moved over to this one. I’ll spare you the technical details, but it took a bit of work to get them here. I’m working on getting the pictures loaded up here on Typepad, instead of being hosted at Photo Bucket, too, but it’s not a high priority. So all of you reading on a feed reader may still see an occasional "update" to an old post come through. Go ahead and skip it, you probably won’t notice anything new. Or read it if you have time. You may find something noteworthy. I’ve had a great time rereading some of those old posts. This one – Random Thoughts for A Friday -had me nearly in tears laughing at my children.
My new blog look is in the works and I have to say I’m very excited. I won’t say anything more so I don’t spoil the surprise, but the suspense is killing me!
Our weekend was a productive one, again. Our Kinkade painting arrived from Disneyland and we hung it up promptly.
Bip likes to climb up on the couch and sing to it, in that sweet, nonsensical baby way. I ask him if he wants to go back to Disneyland and he nods. Love that little guy!
Boo went to shoot arrows with his best friend. His buddy’s family was off for a little archery practice and invited Boo and Phil to go along. Boo could hardly contain himself! I don’t have any pictures to share since I didn’t think to send along the camera, but I’m told it was a lot of fun.
One thing that I like better in our new location is living at the end of a cul-de-sac. And there is only one set of houses here, so there’s never any cars.
Finally, I got a chance to attend Brownie leader training. Yay! Actually, it wasn’t that bad. I went with a friend who will be the co-leader with me and I let her drive. We got there too early and were drafted to put together a color guard and do a flag ceremony. Now, I used to be a Civil Air Patrol Cadet. I was even in the color guard. We had uniforms,flag harnesses, ladder-laced boots with white laces and snappy salutes. Sometimes we even had wooden rifles. You know, to guard the flag. But this time, I felt like a big Dorkus Malorkus carrying in a tiny flag on a stick and holding it while everyone said the Pledge of Allegiance. Fortunately, I was flanked by my peeps who shared with me the dorkiness of this quasi-solemn moment. I hate being "volunteered."
I was further annoyed when I realized that I was getting a headache because I had forgotten to eat lunch! Fortunately, I had packed Luna bars and there was vending machine. All in all, it wasn’t a bad day. Didn’t learn anything too earth shattering, but now I’ve been "read on", as we say in the Army, to Brownies.
Last year I told you about a young lady named Lindsey who was battling cancer. I also shared with you the shawl I made for her. I am sorry to have to say that this morning, she lost her battle and went home to the Lord. Her passing was peaceful and she had been confident that she would be seeing Jesus. Her courage and inner strength was truly an inspiration to those of us "watching" through the Sonlight forums. Please pray for her family as they struggle to figure out how to live without Lindsey.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith
2 Timothy 4:7
Do you know what today is? It’s my blogging anniversary! I’ve been blogging for a whole year now, can you believe it? I guess it’s time that I make the move from my old blog to this one complete. I’ll be working on that for the next couple of days. So there’s not going to be any new posts from me until at least Tuesday. If you’re reading through a feedreader, you may see some of my older posts pop up as new while import them, then add the pictures back in. If you’re visiting my actual blog every day, you won’t notice anything different at all.
No doubt you’ve seen the news clips about this General or that getting fired over the mess at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Congress is up in arms over the quality of health care for our wounded soldiers. Now they’ve declared that they will be examining military hospitals all over the nation. I wish they would. And when they find out that this free health care is not all it’s cracked up to be, maybe they’ll turn their attention to the US military hospitals overseas. Then they can come talk to me. Or rather, I’ll go talk to them. I’m only 12 minutes away from the US Capitol building. I’ll gladly tell my story.
What I would tell them would cause jaws to drop. I will spare you most of my rant because you really don’t want to get me going. My list of complaints against the military health care system in general, and against the 121st General Hospital in Korea (a US Military hospital) specifically, is long and painful. Misdiagnosis by military doctors is the common theme, followed by a correct diagnosis and cure by civilian doctors. Pitiful tales of an ER that lets patients -we’re talking infants and pregnant women- go home untreated after waiting for hours.
A bureaucracy that let our daughter die, then circled the wagons and threw obstacles in our path when we tried to get answers. A legal system that curtails the rights of American citizens living overseas by limiting the damages they can be awarded. A medical system that leaves the doctors in question with unblemished records.
We sued the US Government on behalf of our entire family over the untimely, negligent death of our daughter Rebecca. They dismissed all the claims except one. I guess we were lucky that our case went forward at all. Most people think you can’t sue the government. You can, but government has to allow it. The fact that ours went forward tells you a lot about the merits of the claim. Our case was settled out of court. You’d think that was good, except that because we were living overseas at the time Rebecca died, our case was never allowed to go to court. Neither a judge nor a jury was ever allowed to hear what happened. Just two government lawyers in our living room one day. The settlement that was offered was pitiful. So what is the life of a child worth to the US Government? Not enough to buy a house.
It wasn’t about the money, of course. It was about getting answers and accountability. I know there will come a day when our surviving children ask about what really happened to Rebecca. And when they learn the truth, the whole truth, they will want to know what we did about it. We can look them in the eye and tell them that we held the government accountable in the only way we could.
Last night, Boo was sad about Becca in a way that he hasn’t been in a long time. He has told me that he doesn’t like to think about her because it makes him sad. I guess he’s been bottling it up and it was time to let it out. So I held him while he cried. And I cried out to the Lord, "Why? Why did you do this to us? Why did you take our beautiful baby from us? Why did you take her and leave us behind? How do we pick up the pieces and carry on, as if every day we didn’t wish this life were over? How do we explain to our children how to trust in You?"
Sometimes I can say the right things. Sometimes I am at peace. Sometimes I am hopeful and courageous and strong. And sometimes I am angry. Angry at what was lost, at how helpless I am, at a system that failed us in every possible way.
When Congress is done cleaning house in the military hospitals around the country, I hope they have some energy left. I have a story I’d like to tell them.
We’ve been studying Ancient History. As we worked our way through Mesopotamia, it just so happened that our pastor was deployed to Iraq, right there back where it all started. We took a look at Then and Now Bible Maps and discovered that good ol’ Father Hamel was over there near Ur and the Garden of Eden. The children were also tickled to hear that their daddy had also rumbled all over the area in his tank back in ’91, during the First Gulf War. They decided to ask Father Hamel upon his return if he had seen the Garden of Eden. (When asked, he laughed and said, no, but he had seen Abraham’s house. Pumpkin Girl’s big eyes grew even bigger.)
So last Saturday when Father began his homily speaking about the archeological dig in the ancient city of Ur, the ziggurat there, and what is believed to be Abraham’s house, I knew that Boo and Pumpkin Girl were paying extra close attention. Father segued nicely into a discussion about the so-called discovery of Jesus’ bones and the documentary that would be aired the next night. As I listened to the homily, I was thinking that Boo would probably be interested in seeing it. He’s always up for a good documentary. I asked him about it after mass.
Me: "So Boo, wasn’t that cool when Father Hamel was talking about the ziggurat?"
Boo: "Oh yeah, I remember those!"
Me: "And he mentioned those two rivers we studied."
Pumpkin Girl: "The Tigris and Euphrates!"
Me: "Yes, that’s right!"
Me: "Do you want to see that movie he was talking about?"
Boo: "The one about the people that think they found Jesus’ bones? Nah, I’m not watching that movie."
Me: "Really? You usually like documentaries."
Boo: "TNah, I don’t want to see it."
Me: "Do you understand why those can’t be Jesus’ bones?’
Boo: (repeating what he heard Father Hamel say in the homily)"Yes, because Jesus isn’t buried here."
Me: "Well, he was buried after he died. But what else happened?"
Boo:"He rose again and…he ascended into heaven!!!"
Me: "Right, he ascended into heaven and he took his body with him."
Boo: "Yeah, so that can’t be his bones. They’re just trying to suck me in."
Well said, Boo. Sorry James Cameron, we had better things to do last Sunday than get sucked in by your claims.
Michelle, at Rosetta Stone (who, incidentally, linked to me today, too), recommended that in order to get past my writer’s block, I could post a daily picture that sums up my day. I love that idea! But since my dear husband has been hogging the computer all weekend, diligently making sure Boo’s Cub Scout den is all squared away, I’ll have to give you my whole weekend all at once. We were highly productive and crossed many things off our list.
Brought a toy bin shelf downstairs for Bip’s toys. I’ll make him new picture labels for the bins that need them. He’s so happy to be able to see his toys and have easy access to them. Makes it easier for us all to help him clean up, too.
Got enough moving boxes out of the playroom to finally set up the train table. Boo and Pumpkin Girl even set up a train set on the floor for Bip. Phil and the children salvaged this train table one day on the way home from Sunday school. The owners had not been able to sell it at their garage sale and had stuck it out on the curb for trash pickup. We have not been able to fit it into the house until now.
Got started making a rosary for Boo’s First Communion. Don’t tell him, it’s a surprise.
Bought Pumpkin Girl an Easter dress.
Bought a child-size guitar for Boo, who is finally ready to take lessons, instead of strumming away like a crazy man.
Bought storage containers for some of the children’s toys. (Don’t everyone get all green-eyed over my lovely linoleum floor!)
Finally, after over a year and a half, repaired this really cool Buzz Lightyear clock that we bought in Korea. Pumpkin Girl dropped it the day after we bought it and one of the stars broke off. We had less than a week left in Korea and could not get a replacement. The stars tip back and forth like a pendulum and without both of them, it wouldn’t work properly.
Entered all the Wolf Cubs’ acheivements into a spread sheet.
And lastly, my parents were able to buy and ship us this Thomas Kinkade painting from Disneyland. We almost bought it while we were there in November, and pretty much as soon as we got home regretted not buying it.
It’s laundry day in the Little Army House and I am still at a loss for interesting things to blog about. I suppose I could wax poetic about my laundry system, but then again, maybe not. I do have a few questions that were posed to me, either in comments or in emails. I think I’ll answer one of those today and spare you once again from my laundry. Next week: Lorri Makes a Grocery List.
My lone comment to my Babies! post was from my maternal Grandmother, or as we call her, Grandma Honey. She asks, "Where is Pumpkin?"
Pumpkin is our beloved family doll. As my mother is fond of saying, "She’s almost as old as Lorri!" My mother says this about just about everything. In this case, it’s true. Pumpkin first belonged to my aunt Mary. The story goes that when I was born, my then-5-year-old aunt got Pumpkin. Pumpkin can only be described as lovable. She’s about the size of a 6 month old baby and has been known to dress in the outgrown clothes of the family’s most recent baby. Let me state for the record that Pumpkin never belonged to me. At no time did I ever inflict damage to Pumpkin.
I clearly remember Pumpkin and all her clothes living in a little red suitcase. I assume she resided there for a number of years after Aunt Mary outgrew her, until my cousins – grandchildren 2 and 3, arrived. Pumpkin then lived with them until coming into the possession of my family.
When my oldest was a toddler, he had a love of all babies. I thought he might like a baby of us own, so I asked about Pumpkin and she was tracked down, a little worse for the wear. We let her come to live with us anyway and Boo was delighted to have his very own baby. Pumpkin’s neck no longer held enough stuffing to hold up her head and someone (please note, it wasn’t me!) had chewed on her fingers. I was also not the one who tried to pierce her ears. Turns out, Pumpkin is a Madame Alexander doll and I researched the Madame Alexander doll hospital in New York City, hoping to send her off for some cosmetic surgery. My timing being impecable, I was all ready to send her off in October of 2001, only to find that the doll hospital was closed until the next year. A result of September 11? I may never know. But we were finally able to send her off the next Spring.
Pumpkin returned with a newly plump body, a new crying mechanism (I never knew she cried when you tilted her!) and brand new hands.
Since then, Pumpkin has traveled the world with us and now lives happily with Pumpkin Girl (our oldest daughter) and her collection of well loved baby dolls.
Above: Pumpkin, Sunshine, Amy, Honey, Snowflake (on Honey’s lap), Star, Pumpkin Girl,Kitty (on PG’s lap). Doesn’t she come up with great names for her dolls?
I’ve got two more pictures of Pumpkin that I’m trying to track down. Watch this space, I’ll have them here later today.