Monday, August 30, 2010

We've got class

Our official school name defines our purpose.

One of our first projects of the day, the weather journal. They write what the weather is for the day (Noah draws a picture), how they feel that day and why, and something they are thankful for.

They all wrote that they were happy because they got to start homeschool today!

It was a great start to one of the most difficult days I've ever had.

Kind of like trying to do a teacher workshop day while corralling students on the first day of a new routine. Or trying to break a trail through 12 feet of snow.

It's one thing to start a homeschooling journey, and another to start it with 3 kids to prepare for and 2 kids running around. It's so great how Isaac and Josiah have mastered the art of climbing up onto full-sized chairs because now they can reach the table and pull everything off.

In the midst of a tantrum on the part of my oldest, he yells out "A deer!!" and then continues to cry while the rest of us run to the window to see a buck not 5 feet away from the window in front of which we were doing our schoolwork. This was seriously a gift from God right then as I was just about to pull out my last hair.

At about 8:21 - we started school at 7:50 - when Caleb asked for the twelfth time, "Why can't we just....", I tried to explain to him that I like it when my patience gets doled out as a light cinnamon/sugar sprinkle upon the applesauce of life. It doesn't help things when he decides to bring in a shovel and heave it out, carelessly tossing it every which way.

Our state of the week is Minnesota. While doing some independent online research about the state capital, the state flag, the state flower, and so on, Sam asks me, "Mom, I just CAN'T find anything about the state seal! Can't I just put down that it lives in the Mississippi River?"

While sharing facts about our animal of the week, Caleb wondered, "Do porcupines EAT?"

"Can they swim?" asked Sam.

Noah worked on patterns today. He needed to figure out a given pattern on a card and then complete the last square with the appropriate answer. "Blue sheep, blue duck, yellow horse, yellow pig, green cow, ________ horse."

"Oh! It's white!"

Back to square one on patterns --- so to speak.

Judy, God bless her, and I seriously mean that, prepared lunch for the boys (she's our host at our current "home"). I was able to pull myself together enough to decide that my schedule needed to be re-worked to give us all some breathing room.

Successes of the day:

  • I gave Caleb a blank map of the USA and he was able to fill in 20 states without any help.
  • Sam completed a writing assignment. It was like pulling teeth, but he did it.
  • Noah remembers most of the letters of the alphabet even though it's been months since we've reviewed.
  • We are all still alive. And prepared for tomorrow.

I will leave you with a summary of the events of the first 12 chapters of Genesis, as dictated by Caleb to me this morning (headings are mine and were the only prompt he got):


First, there was nothing at all. Just darkness. And then God decided to make things. He made trees, plants, and the land. And then he made animals. And then he made a man and a woman named Adam and Eve. And God had given them one rule: Don't eat from the tree in the middle of the garden. `Cause there was fruit on the trees.


And then Satan crept into the garden and made them eat from the tree. And God was very angry, and he made Adam and Eve leave the garden. One day, Eve had 2 sons. Their names were Cain and Abel. And one day, God asked them for offerings. Cain gave God vegetables and Abel gave Him one of His lambs. God was not happy with what Cain had brought and He was happy with what Abel had brought. Cain did not like this, so he decided to kill Abel. He said, "Come to my field and we will talk about stuff." And when they got to the field, they talked. And Cain killed Abel. And God was not happy. Then the flood came.


A little boy named Noah was born. And he got married to a wife named uh....I don't know. God talked to him and said, "Build an ark. I'm sending a flood." And then the flood came.; And it washed over mountains and it killed all the people. Then the water was going down FINALLY! And then the ark landed on a mountain. And when Noah died, they all turned away from God.


Then they built the tower of Babel. They said, "Hey look up here! Look at us! We're greater than God!" And then God destroyed the tower. The people started speaking in different languages.


God spoke to him. He said, "Can you move? To a new land?" He said yes. When he got to the land, he was scared. And then one night God said, "Come out of your tent. Can you count the stars?" Abram said, "I can't, Lord." And then God said, "You will have as many children as the stars."

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sam's Organ Donation

Sam contributed the following to our Saturday morning.

The house we're staying in while we're temporarily displaced has an old fashioned pump organ that Sam enjoys playing.  As you can tell from the video above, he has an amazing ear for creating his own songs.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Somewhere over the rainbow: A tornado story - part 3

What a privilege it is to share His name.  I don't deserve the honor.  Through this incident, I have had numerous opportunities to publicly glorify the name of Jesus.  What an honor He has given me in allowing me to experience His grace in this way.  As we live through the little inconveniences that He has allowed, I not only experience His grace as He works through me, but I also get to experience His grace as He shines through others.  In the amazing blessing of a provided home, in the gift of a delicious meal, complete with brownies, in the relationships I may not have had, each and every gift is an "I love you" twice over - from the ones I can hug to the One who holds me in His hands through every joy and trial.

Blessed be His name.

Whether storms or sunshine, it is all for Him.

May He become greater and I become less.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Somewhere over the rainbow: A tornado story - Part 2

First we looked at the outside of the house.  The gas line, of course, was ripped out, and there was a big mess out front where they had been digging it up.  The air conditioning unit was ripped out of the ground and lying on its side.  We lost a half-way mature tree in the front, as well as a brand-new apple tree we had planted in May.  There was damage to the siding on 3 sides of the house, and one of our pillars was now lying against the side of the garage, possibly taken out by our neighbor's garage door, which ended up in our yard.  We could see that the glass front door was shattered completely, and the welcome mat was wrapped around the bottom of it.  Many of the front-facing windows on the house were cracked.  The garage door was warped a bit, but as I said, it does still work.

The neighbors were actually warned by the neighbors from behind us that they had lost a bunch of shotgun shells and to be very careful when they mowed!

There was broken glass, broken beer bottles, child's toys, garbage from all the garbage cans that had gotten knocked over (and they were full as Friday is trash day in our neighborhood), patio chairs, tables, even gas cans, which had been lying right by our broken gas line - we found that out after the fact.

So around 8 or so, they finally got the gas shut off, the levels inside were tested, and we ventured inside.  The door leading from the garage to the house wouldn't latch when it was shut.  The entrance into the attic from the garage had the panel snapped in half.  We have numerous cracks in the walls, both in the living room and the garage entry/kitchen area.  As noted before, the living room windows were shattered or cracked, the floor was a mess of glass and leaves and other debris, and my shelf of Thoene novels was knocked to the floor.  All other books and photo albums were fine other than some light residue.  The studio in the front of the house  had water coming down and the ceiling bubbling up, as well as severely cracked windows and water dripping from the cracks down the wall.  The water leaked into the light fixture as well.
Yeah, as I said, we had no idea of the damage at first.  This is Brian's attempt at collecting water from the ceiling drips.  Like trying to put out a fire with a dixie cup.

Upstairs, I was shocked to see that the boys' ceiling had caved in.  Their part of the roof had been peeled back, so the pressure of all that water finally caused the ceiling to collapse.  There was insulation everywhere, but the plastic sheet liner from the insulation had come down and covered the boys' bunkbed, directing the water away.  I don't know what difference it will make though, because the whole carpet is pretty thoroughly soaked.  Books were ruined, stuffed animals soaked.

We're not sure what happened down in the basement, but there had been a bit of standing water on Friday evening, we're thinking most likely the cause of the sump pump not being able to run because of the lack of electricity.  So there is water damage in the basement as well.

All things considered, our house was officially labeled "uninhabitable", which meant that we could go in and grab things that we needed, but it was not advisable to sleep there.  Our neighbors were told the same thing, and were advised to rent a townhome, as it would take at least three months for them to be back in.  I'm really hoping ours moves more quickly than that!

Homeschooling is scheduled to begin August 31, and I'm actually less worried and stressed out about it now than I was before.  Things like this tend to put everything into perspective.  I'm looking forward to being able to hang out with the boys in the home that was so generously provided for us (we're staying in a finished and very comfortable lower level with a full kitchen and 3 bedrooms and LOTS of toys!!  What a blessing!

I know the hard road is still before us with all the logistics of who to hire, what to make them do, negotiations, timetables, new carpet choices (looks like we'll finally be able to get that new upstairs carpet that I've wanted to replace for so long!), windows, roofing, siding, etc. etc. etc.

 See our hibiscus plant in the big pot?  That was moved about 5 feet, but not tipped over!
And there's our missing pillar.  It gouged a hole in the side of our garage.

 The boys room

 Here you can see the neighbor's garage door

 The tree we lost

 My daisy garden.  To your right is where we lost the apple tree.

 The boys had already been asking when the apples were going to come.  It was a honeycrisp.

 Another shot of our hibiscus survivor.

 No more glass door.  Welcome mat wrapped up.

 The neighbors behind us, and the almost-collapsed garage next door.

 Next-door neighbors who won't be back for at least 3 months.  

 I found this hanging on our front door and found it amusing.

 They brought pizzas and water.

 Brian is working on relieving his disaster of hunger while talking on the phone to yet another potential contractor.

 Not impressed with them!!  Mainly because they didn't interview me...

 Across the street, they lost their garage door.

 Our boarded-up window in the living room, and the tarp we tried to use at first.

 You can see the outline of where the glass blew out.

 Wall crack

 Studio window

 More studio window

 Stupid tornado made our paint peel on our front door!  That insurance better buy us a new one!
See the yard plastered all over it?  Evidence of tornado rather than just straight-line winds as they were calling it at first.

 Come on in!  The door's open!

 Watch your head.

 There were actually holes on two sides of this fire pit.

 Another shot of the boys room.

Thank you all for your prayers.  We're just praising the Lord for keeping our family safe!  Truly a miracle.  This will be a time of blessing for us.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Somewhere over the rainbow: A tornado story

It was a dark and stormy night...

But we were all sleeping, so we didn't know that.  Usually I wake up during thunderstorms, but there mustn't have been much loud thunder because I was sleeping soundly.

We were jolted awake by tremendous noise and indescribable turbulence on the outside of the house.  Sam later described it as the sound of a bunch of roller coasters.  I'm not sure what my first thought was, it was hard to process what was happening, especially just coming out of a dead sleep.

We ran first to the babies' room.  I guess I wanted to check and make sure everyone was okay primarily, because we didn't grab anyone at that point, but ran down to the older boys' room to check on them.  They were groggy but easy to get going when we said that "you need to go down to the basement right now, and move quickly".  We did have to wake Noah, but they were all able to go by themselves.  Then Brian went back and grabbed the babies and we all headed to the basement, noticing on the way the window in the living room that had blown open (Josiah had unlatched it the day before - maybe he was following the Lord's directions). We didn't notice until a bit later that the other living room window had shattered and glass was all over the living room, as well as plant pieces and roof tiles.  We ran the boys downstairs.  I was shaking and just in awe of what we experienced, exclaiming to them, "Boys, I think we just lived through a tornado.  Jesus just protected us from a tornado!"

After a few minutes, I went up to help Brian - he was trying to tape up a tarp to the broken window in the living room.  It was still raining very hard and we didn't want the carpet to get wrecked (obviously, we had no idea of the extent of the damage at this point).  And the boys were doing fine.  They were sitting on the couch downstairs, quietly entertaining the babies and more in "adventure" mode than "freaking out" mode, so I felt fine leaving them down there.

In the process of helping Brian with the tarp, I also gave my mom a call to let her know what happened, and as I was on the phone, one of our neighbors pounded on the door and told us we needed to get out of the house because our gas line was broken and gas was hissing out like crazy.  Even with 60 MPH winds, the smell was obvious.  We pretty much threw the children in the van, I grabbed my purse, and Praise the Lord, the garage door opened, and we backed out and parked a few houses away to watch and wait.  So there we were, Noah and I in our jammies, Brian, having managed to grab a shirt on his way out, was fully clothed, but Sam and Caleb were in nothing but their underwear.  Sam was a bit horrified at first, but that wore off quickly.

So we sat and waited.  The fire dept. and the police and ambulance arrived and blocked off a couple of blocks because of the gas line leak.  They needed someone from the gas company to come out and turn it off, and after telling us that it would probably take a few hours, we realized we needed to get somewhere else.  It was a bit scary out sitting in our vehicle and not knowing what the weather was going to do next.  The sirens actually went off about 40 minutes after the tornado passed through (no siren at all before).  It was also raining like crazy.  We got 4 inches of rain that night.

We were able to get a hold of some friends from church who live just over the hill from us in the next neighborhood.  They had damage too - their whole front yard of full-grown trees (3 I think) were gone.  Uprooted.  One almost completely blocked the street.  There was debris everywhere in the road.  But then some neighborhoods and blocks were fine that we saw driving over.  Untouched.  Anyway, they allowed us to crash in their basement for a few hours.  Neither Brian or I slept.  Sam and Isaac didn't sleep either.  So after it started to get light, we took them outside to walk around and survey some of the wreckage up close.  Sam did so with a baby blanket wrapped around his waist like a toga.

Around 7:00 or so, Brian and I went back to our house to check things out there and see if they'd shut off the gas yet.  The street in our area was still blocked off, but we were able to drive around the block and get close.  The neighbors around us had what appeared to be far worse damage than us.  Behind us, where "Shooter" the dog lives, the entire roof almost caved in - a good portion of it.  And they lost 2 sides of the garage.  The neighbors on our south side had a near-collapse of their garage - it will have to be torn down and rebuilt.  We had a huge mess of junk blown into our yard from the garages that were exposed.  Individual tools - screws, nails, small screwdrivers (imagine those things flying through the air at 100+ miles per hour).  We could see our patio table out back, it wasn't even knocked over, just in a different spot, but all the tiles on it were gone and many were found around the house broken to bits.  Our patio chairs were warped badly, and one was found wrapped around the neighbor's tree.

The damage to the house was yet to be discovered.

But they finally got the gas shut off and the firemen went in to take a reading inside the house to make sure it would be safe for us to enter and grab some things.

 I grabbed the camera about 10 minutes after the tornado went through.  Glass and leaves on the floor.

 The shattered window in the living room

 You can't see it in this picture, but the window that was "blown" open is cracked as well.

 One of the trees that was uprooted at our friends' house where we were in the early hours.
Notice the split tree behind as well.

 Sam was proud of himself in his little toga.  In our friends yard.

 Trying to capture shots of the damage as we drove back to our house.

 Not much damage here

 Trash bins all over the place.  First daylight glimpse of our house.

 How many wrong things can you spot?

 The neighbors behind us where "Shooter" the dog lives.  Extensive damage.  You can see our neighbor on our south side lost their fence.

 Some people don't know how to take care of their yard.

 Fangorn forest is mourning.

Across the street. 

And so began the second phase of our surreal day.