Monthly Archives: April 2007

Chocolate Floors

I think one of the best things about blogging is reading the search terms people use to find their way here.

My blog gets a lot of hits from people searching for kitchen makeovers. If you are one of those people, you can read about my story here and here.

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Today, though, one searcher particularly tickled me. They searched under “kitchen makeover chocolate floor.” MMmmm, looking for a Hansel and Gretel house? How about a dark chocolate floor? Bittersweet? Or maybe you already have so much chocolate on your floor you need a makeover? I know, I know, it was probably something more mundane like, “I really want a kitchen makeover and I want my floor to be chocolate brown colored.” But it sure made me smile!

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Filed under Homemaking&Cooking, Uncategorized, Words and Writing

Giant T.V. Boxes

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A Good Backyard circa 1960

My husband has recently been hired by a major airline. This means we will eventually move from our beloved little town, far from an interstate, to the inevitable matrix of commercialism, toll roads, and bustle inherently found near major airports. I am trying real hard not to think about this too much, so I am concentrating on getting excited about finding a house and neighborhood that I like. One with charm, neighborly goodwill, and an abundance of green spaces.

This is harder than you think. What I am finding is that most homes these days are designed for a lifestyle that does not fit our family. As I plow through online photos of houses for sale, I am continually floored by both the size and number of t.v.s found in homes these days. Page after page of living rooms with recesses built specifically for oversized t.v.s, replacing the built-in bookcases that used to be preferred. There are t.v.s in kitchens, bathrooms, even garages. Predictably, any home built after 1990 follows a formula based around current values. As I look at the architectural changes and general house-to-yard ratio from the early 30s homes to now, I see proof in how much our values have changed.

Square Feet
As our families have shrunk in both size and co-habiting generations, our houses have grown. Tremendously. 1,200 sq. feet used to be sufficient to raise a family of 6. Now, 3,000 sq. feet is a must. For a family of 4. No matter what this says about our attitude towards children, one thing is clear. We like our stuff. We need bigger houses to hold more stuff. We prefer exercise equipment to a walk outdoors. We need closets the size of bedrooms to hold our clothes, shoes, and purses. Our kitchens must be able to accommodate every gadget Pampered Chef ever made, yet I would bet the average family eats out more often than it cooks! And, of course, we need more space for t.v.s and the couches that must accompany them. Personally, I don’t want that much house to clean! Whew! It tires me out just thinking about it. But, then again, if your kids are glued to the t.v., they don’t make that much of a mess.

Windows
Don’t worry. Windows have not gone away. New homes have windows. I just have noticed that the placement is different. The windows are designed now to catch light. This is not a bad thing. Countless homes I have viewed have these gorgeous windows flanking the fireplaces t.v. alcoves. These windows run clear up to the second story. Stunning. But what is lacking are windows that afford a good view of the backyard and side yards. Bedrooms seem to favor high windows. Picture windows are out. Besides, those pesky windows, if placed low, interfere with the t.v. armoire placement.

Backyards, or lack of them
Why do you need low windows when there is nothing to look out upon? Why a picture window when you are only gazing upon a fence? Or a neighbor’s air conditioning unit? We have sacrificed green spaces and trees and a yard to accommodate all of that living space we seem to need. Never mind if you enjoy breakfast on the patio. Or that the kids have no where to build a fort, play war (hear the collective sucking in of breath), or toss a ball. We need the space to build a game room so the Game Cube playing doesn’t interfere with the big t.v. in the living room.

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A Bad Backyard circa 2000

The Great Room Concept
I’m not talking about a kitchen that is open to a family room. I renovated my 1930s servant’s kitchen to remove a swinging door with the precise purpose of opening up my kitchen. I am talking about these cavernous rooms that have open kitchens, living rooms, dining rooms, and even open balconies to include the second story. I assume this is so everyone can keep an eye or ear on American Idol, even while going about their other activities. This would drive me crazy. In a homeschooling family, quiet, private space is a premium. Besides, who wants to see the dirty dishes stacked in the sink and glasses left out on the counter from all angles of the house? Oh, wait, that’s what fast food is for!

Image over Substance
My last frustration with current values is the lack of quality in construction materials. Something has to give when building such enormous homes, so I suppose real wood takes a back seat to fiberboard. Trimwork has almost disappeared. The front of a home may have brick, but certainly not the sides. And these are homes that are not inexpensive! I guess that as long as the house looks good from the street it doesn’t really matter what the inside looks like. Besides, no one will notice when must-see t.v. is on.

I know that I sound a little bitter, but seeing how our homes have been turned into giant t.v. boxes, I can’t help but worry about our future generations. Will they appreciate nature? Will they know how to have a conversation? What are the effects of surrogate parenting with Nickelodeon? We are already seeing a massive decline in the physical health of our children. Their thumb muscles are well-developed, and a few gifted ones may put that to good use by becoming excellent surgeons, but those will be the exceptions. Who will know the joys of curling up in a quiet corner and reading a book? Who will remember watching the habits of birds through a bird feeder placed outside a low window? All of these things endure, many years after the names of the American Idols have long been forgotten.

I suppose we will be looking in neighborhoods built in the pre-entertainment era. I want a backyard! A big one! I want bookshelves! A window seat! A cozy kitchen! A house big enough to find a good place to read a book, but small enough that we don’t need intercoms to hear each other. Anyone have a house like that they want to sell? Of course you don’t. You’re not budging. Is that why I only see the giant t.v. boxes for sale? *sigh*

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Filed under Babies & Kids, Homeschooling, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Our Favorite Bird Poems

We have followed these wonderful bird poems all year long. How I wished we owned this book! Check it out!

http://www.kellscraft.com/yearwithbirds.html

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Filed under Babies & Kids, Homeschooling

Wanting your Math Reviews

It’s that time of year again…time to assess my homeschooling program and make changes.

We have used Math-u-see, Saxon, and Singapore Math. We are beginning to sound like “math hoppers” but I don’t think I’ve been crazy about a single program. I like the clear explanations of Saxon, but find it a bit overwhelming for the average math student. Singapore has been ‘nice,’ but that’s about it. Math-u-see was fun for awhile but the manipulatives got ‘old.’ I must admit I prefer programs that tend toward independent learning and have just learned about Developmental Math. The descriptions sound like it is a self-paced, straightforward program that is heavy on deductive reasoning.

Has anyone used Developmental Math? I’d love to know what you think!

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Filed under Homeschooling

Setting Out Bait

Did anyone notice my shameless attempt to attract more readers?  It didn’t work.  I guess no one searches under “Grey Anatomy,” the wildly popular tv show (actually spelled Grey’s Anatomy) that I’ve never even watched!

My husband and I had a good laugh, though.  We could just picture some dude, upon seeing my site, staring and saying (in a confused, dull voice) “This is stupid.”   Hee, hee.

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Filed under Thoughts, Words and Writing

My Grey Anatomy

I haven’t spent all of Holy Week in deep introspection…I noticed last night my FIRST gray hair. For about ten seconds, I had this feeling of “wow, I really am getting old” but it soon morphed into delight that the hair was actually a beautiful silvery white. After having been golden blonde for most of my childhood, I had to accept the unwanted fate of most adult blondes…dull, mousy, if-I-stretch-it-I-can-still-call-it-dirty-blonde hair. I now have hope that my ‘final’ hair color will be the color of sparkling snow, rather than dishwater gray.

It’s really not any news at all to discover an almost 36 year old with her first gray hair. My husband has been slowly acquiring the very handsome salt-n-pepper look since his early twenties. And who knows how many gray hairs I have had that have gone unnoticed in my mix of dark blonde, brown, reddish, and highlighted hairs?

It was confirmed to me that this is not very interesting news by the reaction of my husband (he is, of course, my gray-haired elder by 5 months). He came around the corner, truly half-asleep, to hear me ask excitedly (and very awake-like, which annoys him tremendously at 11:00 p.m.), “Hey, you want to see my first gray hair?” “Hmmm, show me in the morning…(yawn, yawn).

So, lucky you, you get to be the recipient of my exciting news. I promise that I won’t suddenly start wearing lots of purple clothes, comfortable shoes, and saying insensitive-but-forgive-me-I’m-old comments. (Okay, okay, I know I already wear comfortable shoes, but I still promise all the rest.)

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Filed under Thoughts

‘Meat’ for your Good Friday

I hope you read this in it’s entirety. It is a beautiful thing to “taste and see that the Lord is good.”

This comes from St. John Chrysostom’s catechumenate (new believer) instruction. St. John Chrysostom was born in 347 A.D. Thanks to the Rev. David Chalk for editing this quote unto 21st. century readability. I was inspired to repeat it here after hearing it in his Maundy Thursday sermon.

If we wish to understand the power of Christ’s blood, we should go back to the ancient account of what took place in Egypt where Christ’s blood is foreshadowed. “Sacrifice a lamb without blemish,” Moses commanded, “and sprinkle its blood on your doors.”

Moses said, “Sacrifice a lamb without a blemish and smear the doors with its blood.” What does this mean? Can the blood of a sheep without reason save men endowed with reason? Yes, Moses replies, not because it is blood but because it is a sign of the Lord’s blood. So today if the devil sees, not the blood of the sign smeared on the doorposts, but the true blood smeared on the lips of the faithful, which are the doors of the temple of Christ, with all the more reason will he draw back.

If you desire further proof of the power of this blood, remember where it came from, how it ran down from the cross, flowing from the Master’s side. The gospel records that when Christ had died, but was still hanging on the cross, the soldier came and pierced his side with the spear and immediately there poured out water and blood. Now the water was a symbol of baptism and the blood, of the holy Eucharist. When that soldier pierced the Lord’s side, he breached the wall of the sacred temple, and I have found the treasure and made it my own. So also with the lamb: the Jews slaughtered the victim as a sacrifice and I gathered the fruit of that sacrifice—salvation. I have been saved by it.

“There flowed from his side water and blood.” Dearly beloved, do not pass over this mystery without reflection; it has yet another hidden meaning, which I will explain to you. I said that water and blood symbolized baptism and the holy Eucharist. From these two sacraments the Church is born: “by the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit,” i.e., by baptism and by the holy Eucharist. Now the symbols of baptism and the Eucharist flowed from his side, it was from his side that Christ formed the Church, as he had formed Eve from the side of Adam.

Moses gives a hint of this when he tells the story of the first man and makes him exclaim: “Bone from my bones and flesh from my flesh!” As God then took a rib from Adam’s side to fashion a woman, so Christ has given us blood and water from his side to fashion the Church. God took the rib when Adam was in a deep sleep, and in the same way Christ gave us the blood and the water after his own death.

Do you understand, then, how Christ has united his bride to himself? Have you seen with what kind of food he feeds us? By one and the same food we are both brought into being and fed. As a woman forms and feeds her child with her own blood and milk, so too does Christ continuously feed those whom he has begotten with his own blood— so too does Christ continuously feed those to whom he himself has given life.

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Filed under Giving Thanks, His Banner over Me, Thoughts, Uncategorized