Friday, September 30, 2011

Keeping in Touch

For some reason, today has been a day of catching up with friends and family.  I have been on video chats and texting chats with multiple people.  Besides feeling in the loop again, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.  It's nice to feel important enough for someone to carve a little part of their day out just to chat with you. 

I'm also looking forward to it continuing into the weekend.  I've already "scheduled" a video chat with my 1 week old nephew.  Pretty sure he's not going to be doing much talking, but that's ok.  I just want to see his precious little face (and those huge feet too)!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Slow and Steady

My son is what I would call a reluctant reader and writer.  I'm not sure if it started because of how much of it his kindergarten teacher had him do or if it's just in his DNA (his Dad was the same way till he was 8 or 9).  Whatever the case, this is one of the primary reasons I have decided to homeschool this year and it is also the reason I have decided to unschool.

My son loves to learn.  He just loves to watch and hear about things rather than read and write about them.  Luckily our new library has all kinds of resources which have made this easier.  Not only do they have LOADS of educational DVD's they also have these small video sets (think portable DVD player but with the information pre-loaded) that he thinks are SO cool.  My son has also participated in the Dog Tales program and wants to do it again (score one for me!).  Unfortunately we are on the wait list for the next session (first on the list, so I'm hopeful).

Before I decided to unschool, I had signed my kids up for 2 classes with a local homeschool group.  I decided not to pull them out of these classes because I figured it would give them an opportunity to interact with other kids, but would also force a little structure into their schooling in the form of homework.  The fact that the class that has the homework was Lego's was a plus because I figured it would give my son some added incentive. 

It has not worked quite as well as I'd hoped, but we are slowly finding our groove.  I've found that I need to stretch it out over a few days and break it up into chunks within the day as well.  For whatever reason, my son really dislikes to write so I am also allowing him to type rather than write.  Oddly enough this has made it much more bearable for him (and in my opinion is much more useful since most people correspond on a computer anyway).

I have had a little more success with the reading however.  Besides enjoying the Dog Tales program, I have also been able to get him to read to me just about every night before bed for the last 2 weeks.  The only reason it hasn't been every night is usually because it's late and I tell him no.  He's not reading a lot, but it is certainly a start.

Each time I run into a problem, I tell myself "Slow and Steady Wins the Race."  He is a VERY smart kid and I know we will get past this phase.  I just can't wait for him to realize it himself.

Monday, September 26, 2011


We've been in our house for 2.5 weeks now and today we changed our 8th dead light bulb.  There also appears to be at least 5 more bulbs that are going to need to be replaced in the very near future.

While changing one of the bulbs, I realized that the blades on the fan in the kitchen hadn't been dusted in probably 5+ years.  I kid you not, there was a solid layer of dust and grim on that fan and it's right over where I stand when I cook.  YUCK!  Now, I'm going to dust the rest of the fans in the house. Being in Florida, there are a lot of them so it's going to be a multi-day task (gotta give my allergies a break as well).

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Day of Relaxation

Today, I decided to live by my rule that Sunday is a day of rest.  No, I did not take a nap (although I thought about it).  Rather, today has been a day spent chilling with my kiddos.  We watched a movie and I got in a little cross stitching.  I think the next thing we'll do is to bake something and after that, read them one of the books we got from the library the other day.  For me that is relaxation.  Especially when you sit down and enjoy the fruits of your labors while reading a good book.

I have a lengthy list of things I want / need to get done soon, but it's going to wait till tomorrow.  Today I'm going to rest and relax. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

I'm an Aunt!

I am proud to announce the birth of my nephew Nolan Lewis Beckmann!

He was born on Sept 23 at 3:51am.
He weighed in at 9 lbs 4 oz and is 23 inches long.

Praising the Lord with them for his safe delivery! 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Controlled Chaos

Today, the kids had their homeschool classes.  This is our first time attending what I would call a "normal" day.  That said, there were a lot of people out sick, so the groups were a bit smaller than normal.  You would think that in light of that, things would run smoothly.  Especially for a program that has been in operation for many years.

Unfortunately, that was not the case.  The first class went great!  The second on the other hand just wore. me. out.  From what I gathered, the facilitator was not given her teaching materials till Tuesday night (not her fault), but she didn't even print it and look at it till Wednesday night.  Today is???  Thursday.  So she looked at it the night before the class and based on how organized she was today, she didn't even look over it that well. 

Also, this class was for 4 - 7 year-olds and I get the need to try to change things up frequently to keep them interested, but they actually scheduled too many things.  They went over time by 15 minutes (considering the class is scheduled for 2 hours that's too much) and the class still didn't get everything done.

As a former facilitator, today's experience has made me a little wary of how the rest of the classes are going to go.  I'm hoping it's just because she was not given her materials till the last minute.  All I know is that this level of chaos on a regular basis is going to drive me nuts and maybe even send me to the nut house.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Dodged THAT Bullet - I Think

Today, my son came to me wanting to go into the pool enclosure (Note: Our rule is that an adult MUST be in the pool enclosure with a child).  Apparently, he saw a HUGE lizard hanging onto the screen around the pool.  Upon further investigation, it was actually 2 lizards that were mating.

Being the inquisitive child that he is, he asked me what they were doing.  I then told him, they were making eggs.  After they separated (shortly after we arrived), he asked me where the eggs were.  I told him it takes a while for the girl to make them.  Then he asked me how long it takes for the eggs to hatch.  We then went into the house and looked it up on my computer.  Luckily that changed his focus and he didn't question me further.

That is a conversation I think he is capable of handling, I just want his Daddy to be the one to have it with him.  I'll deal with his sister in a couple years (I'm sure Daddy is OK with that plan).

Monday, September 19, 2011

Here We Go Again!

I have had a hate, hate relationship with health insurance companies for years now.  Around the time my son was born my husband started a business.  At that time, he got a contract that until recently (7 years later) has been covering all our bills.

When I had my son, I was planning on going back to work because we needed my income (and my health insurance).  The income from the contract meant that I didn't need to go back to work though.  Which meant we were on our own when it came to health insurance.

I had a family friend who was a health insurance broker and he was able to help us find the best policy for us.  I am a firm believer that you shouldn't lie.  Ever.  And omission is a lie too (especially on an application).  This is where my hate, hate relationship comes started.  When the underwriting form asked if I'd ever seen a chiropractor, I said yes.  You see, I went to a chiropractor while I was pregnant.  All of you ladies out there who've been pregnant probably understand.  I saw a chiropractor every 2 weeks because I was driving 2 hours each way, 5 days a week.  Do that with 15+ lbs strapped to your stomach in an uncomfortable car and tell me the underwriter wouldn't have done the same thing.  Once I had my son and stopped the commute, I didn't go back.

For the most part, it was a good fit and the pricing was very reasonable (especially after I was able to contest the increased fee after not going to the chiropractor for a year).  After a couple years we decided to switch our plan a bit (but still with the same provider).  That required us to go through underwriting again.  This time I answered yes when it asked if I'd been on a prescription for allergies.  You see, I'd been given a sample that I used for 2 days till I determined that what I thought was allergies was actually a cold.  Well, they increased my insurance premium for that too.

Today, I got a letter in the mail saying that we have been approved for insurance by a company in Florida (our company from VA could not cover us here), but with a stipulation.  My daughter's rate is going to be 150% of the normal amount because she's had multiple UTI's recently (and the increase is permanent).  Well, guess what?  She had them because the doctors at the urgent care clinics (in Florida I might add), were not giving her enough antibiotic to clear the infection so it kept coming back only a few days after being off the RX.

Jon has been doing research and figured that our policy would probably go up 100% or more just because most companies are doing that now.  So, when I called the insurance company to find out what the premium would be (it was not included in the letter, so I was a bit worried), I was prepared for more than double what we were paying in Virginia.

Guess what?  It was $11 per month LESS!  Praise God!  I'm still going to contest their rating of my daughter.  In trying economic times like these, who wouldn't want to try to reduce their rates even more?  God is good!  Let me rephrase.  God. is. great!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


One of the things about being a homeschooler and moving to a new area is the fact that you and your kids don't have the opportunities to make friends in the same way that families with kids in school do.  It's only compounded by the fact that our neighborhood is half empty because it's a snow-bird community and very few of the people who are living here have kids (much less kids as young as mine).

We are members of two homeschooling groups, one of which is relatively local.  The second is based one hour away.  So far, I have made better connections with the people who live farther away.  I'm hoping that PE class with the more local group this week will remedy that.

The other way that I've found to make friends is at church.  Unfortunately, since moving to Florida we have not been to church.  Last week, I was sick and this week the kids both had tummy issues and I wasn't willing to chance it.

We've only been here for 10 days so I'm certainly not going to sweat it at this point.  Just an observation that although I've mentioned homeschooling's advantages, it also has some disadvantages.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Library card = Bliss

Today the kids and I got our library cards.  We just happened to go to the regional library and it was HUGE!  We ended up spending 2 hours there and could have spent more time looking around if we weren't getting hungry and antsy (OK, the kids were antsy). 

Since my youngest is now in kindergarten I let her get a library card as well (she was so excited).  Between the three of us we got 32 books and 6 DVD's.  And because this month is national library card sign-up months, we also got 3 certificates for a free sunset cruise in nearby Charlotte Harbor (I'm thinking Jon might need to get a library card, just so he can get the free certificate too).

As I type, the kids are watching one of the DVD's and I'm about to crack open one of the books I got.  Definitely a good day.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Settling In - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly - Part 3

We have been in Port Charlotte for a week now and guess what?  We are now officially Florida residents!  Today we were able to get our driver's licenses and transfer titles and tags over for the truck and trailers and request our voting registration cards.  We even went to the bank and got a safety deposit box.  The only thing left to do to make me feel more "local" is to get our library cards, which I plan on doing tomorrow.  Yeah!

Being that this will be the last "settling in" post I do, I figured it was time to share some of my thoughts about the house and the area.

I'm loving the inside of the house.  I love the layout, the furniture, and mostly I love that I have a dishwasher and a washer and dryer that I don't have to use quarters to use.  I've also been able to bake using full size pans.  Yippy!  My only complaint about the house is the landscaping.  There is actually too much of it.  The area I was hoping to plant a garden is covered by a trellis with flowering plants on it (and lots of bees), so now I'm wondering if I'm going to be able to have a garden.

Front of the house
Living / dining room

We've been able to use the pool a couple of times already and it's a wonderful thing.  I have always loved to swim so this is a dream come true for me.  It doesn't hurt that it's a great way to have fun with the kids (as well as wear them out). 

And the view from the back of the house is almost as good as you can get (better would be directly over a beach rather than across a canal at the back of other houses).  Here is a picture of a sunset I saw the other night.

We've also done some exploring around the area.  We've found that just about every store and restaurant I could possibly want are within a 10 minute drive.  There are a few exceptions, but I'm pretty sure I will be able to survive.  Now all I need is a babysitter, so we can go out to dinner and a movie (did I mention there is a movie theater in town as well?)

Why exactly did we wait so long to move South?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Settling In - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly - Part 2

Today the kids and I drove to Sarasota to attend a home school group.  It started at 8:30AM and because it was an hour away, it meant we left the house at 7:15.  Unfortunately, I ended up at the wrong church building and of course no one was answering their phones.  After 20 minutes of trying to figure out where we were supposed to be, I gave up and started to back track to our house.

That's when I spotted it!  The church with the name that I had seen in some of the paperwork... and there were LOTS of cars in the parking lot.  After a little searching inside the building, we were able to find their classrooms.  The kids had a great time.  I mean, who wouldn't considering they both started with a class designed around building with Lego's?  After a quick snack / lunch break my son participated in a science lab that was about fossils, while my daughter got to play instruments and just have a good time with some of her new friends.

My kids now have an incentive to get up early in the mornings on the days of their class, and so do I.  In addition to watching my kids interact with others and helping out as needed, I was able to meet some of the other moms.  There were a few that I was really able to connect with.  Makes me wish we didn't live an hour away from them, because I could really see myself getting together with them outside of the class.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Settling In - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly - Part 1

The last few days have been rather hectic in our house.  Not because we have had a lot of places to go, but because we've had a lot of things to do.  Don't get me wrong, we have gone out (storage lot where the camper is parked - twice, restaurant, grocery store, hardware store, and a homeschooling function).

But most of the work that we've been doing has been around the house.  We've been unpacking our stuff, making phone calls (LOTS of them), and sorting through the stuff that was already in the house.

The down side to renting a furnished house is that you find things that you would NEVER in a million years have in your house. For example, who needs 8 hammers?  What about an electric hand mixer that is missing one of it's beaters?  How about paint that no longer matches any of the colors currently in or on the house or is crusty and unusable?  And don't get me started on the child-unfriendly decorations.  I guess we shouldn't be surprised since before us, this house was rented seasonally to snow birds (meaning with no kids).

I haven't really had time to think about homeschooling except to think that I really need to get a library card.  But before I can get a library card, I need a driver's license.  Because I want to get my driver's license and my tags done at the same time, I need to get proof of insurance on our truck.  (Can you begin to see all the phone calls that I've been talking about?)

The most interesting thing about this whole process is that at one point I was thinking we might not be able to get insurance for our truck.  You see, it is one of, if not THE biggest non-commercial truck built and as such is in a category unto itself when it comes to insurance through my company.  The good news is that I have been able to confirm they can insure it (and it's not much more than when we were in VA).  The bad news was that I had to wait for them to mail me the proof of insurance because their system would not let them email it because our truck is too big.  It finally showed up today.  Not that I've gotten the contract to sign (again, they can't email it without the system being overridden because of the truck's size).

I also found out the insurance company that was insuring our camper "is not taking applications for waterside communities."  After numerous calls over multiple days, I think that I have found a company to insure it.

Being that hubby is self-employed we are also responsible for our own health insurance.  Our old policy will not cover us in Florida so I've been working on that too.  I found out today that they have lost 2 weeks time because their system said they needed additional information, but we were never contacted to get the information.  I guess it's a good thing our old insurer will give us 2 months to find a new policy down here.

Oh, and tomorrow the kids and I are driving an hour each way to attend two homeschool co-op classes.  Looks like it's going to be another long and busy day tomorrow.  Looking forward to the weekend (you know when I can't make phone calls because everything is closed).

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pet + Age = Responsibility

When we were in Florida in June, my son caught a green anole lizard.  We had a small cage that I'd gotten for such an occurrence.  We tried to catch crickets and other small insects to feed it but were unsuccesful.  My son wanted to keep it so much that he decided he would pay for crickets from the local pet store.  We agreed that he could keep the lizard as long as he could pay for the crickets, but when it was time for us to head back to Virginia, we would have to let it go.

So, what do you think he did the first day we were in Florida?  He caught another anole (this time a brown one).  He has purchased crickets for it and today he spent $10 of his own money on a larger cage (this lizard is bigger than the last).

The last couple months we have not been using our Accountable Kids program.  Last night he requested that it be reinstated so that he can earn money again.  I think it's safe to say that he's learned the lesson that work = money and money allows you to get things you want.  Score 1 for Mommy!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Glutton For Punishment?

Today, the kids and I drove 30 minutes or so to attend a meeting for a homeschooling group.  It just so happens to be the group that is most local to us, so I'm hopeful that we will find many opportunities to interact with this group.

In fact, I think the meeting showed me a couple women I would like to socialize with just because of their sense of humor as well as their homeschooling experience.  The main speaker said just what I needed to hear.  The focus of her talk was on making sure we spend quality time with our children (all the time and not just while homeschooling).  She also said some things that helped confirm my conviction to unschool my children (even though she is not an unschooler) as well as why I and others have trouble with the concept (and in my case beginning to institute it fully).

The goal with unschooling is to allow your child to help direct their schooling.  They do this by helping determine a subject they would like to learn about and then you just DIG IN.  You go to the library and check out books, you go online and do research, and you try to find interesting, hands-on ways to help solidify any abstract concepts.

One of the ways I've decided to do this is by volunteering to be the Scholastic Book Club coordinator for the group I was meeting with today.  I've loved reading as far back as I can remember.  In fact I still stay up till all hours of the night (ok, morning) reading "just a little more."  I want my kids to have that same love.  Unfortunately, one of mine is very reluctant and the other still needs to learn all her letters and their sounds.  So how do I reconcile that with my desire to unschool?

My kids have participated in Scholastic in the past and they LOVED it.  I figured that if it meant that I could allow my kids to be able to order books of their choosing (hoping they will be more likely to read them) while doing so at a discount, a couple hours a month of my time is well worth it.

Besides, this will force me and other Moms to interact.  Maybe I'll make a new friend because of it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


It's hard to believe that the September 11th terrorist attacks happened 10 years ago.  I can still remember my day like it was yesterday.  I remember where I was when I heard about it.  I remember vividly what I did that day.  I even remember what I was wearing that day. 

Before you read on, let me warn you:  I am about to do something I don't normally do.  I am going to talk politics and religion.  Why?  Because I have heard something that has riled me so much I MUST say something.

I am a firm believer that the definition of "separation of church and state" has been taken too far.  The way things are handled now are not how the founders of our country intended for things to be.   What is happening now, is the refusal by many politicians to publicly acknowledge the Christian religion.  They are bending over backwards to not offend Muslims and Atheists, but they are doing it at the exclusion of the Christian faith.

Recently, I heard that New York City Mayor Bloomberg has decided that there will be no clergy participation at the 9/11 memorial service.  That means there will be no clergy speaking or even praying at the service. 

I don't know about you, but I think it's safe to say there were a lot of people praying on Sept 11, 2001, and I think that they would completely understand there being a short prayer at the 10 year memorial.  I certainly would like to see it.

All rants aside, today is a day to remember those whose lives were lost.  Those who were in the airplanes, in the buildings, and the first responders.  I weep at the needless loss of life because a fanatical religious group has decided we must be wiped out.  I am thankful for those first responders who showed what true Christian love is (being willing to lay down their life for another - John 15:13). 

I've also heard from a friend that "Due to "lack of room", NYC Police Officers, Port Authority Police Officers and FDNY Firefighters are not "invited" to the 10th anniversary of 9/11 at Ground Zero. Funny - they weren't invited on that day in 2001, either - they just "showed up" and became our heroes."

So what am I going to do today to remember Sept 11, 2001?  I am going to pray...  pray for the families of those lost, thank God for the first responders and that my family was unharmed, and pray for our country to return to her roots. 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Random Thoughts

I'm going to steal an idea from a friend of mine who also blogs.  I've been rather busy lately (traveling across the country and all), so I haven't been able to come up with a blog topic.  So here are a few random thoughts that have come to me lately.

  • I can't stand it when my glasses fog up when I open the dishwasher or oven.  It's even more annoying when it happens and I'm wearing contacts.
  • A 98% fat free hot dog = a not dog.  It doesn't taste anything like a hot dog, so do us all a favor and just call it something else all together.
  • The "Giant Superman" in Metorpolis, IL isn't that giant.  We couldn't see it from the highway and we didn't know if we could get the camper to where it was located (we would not have been able to), so we looked it up online.  It was barely larger than 1 story.  We also determined that there is a Lois Lane (a street) in Metropolis, IL.
  • While in Texas, hubby was working with a few people who were from Canada.  One of them had him Google "View of Mt Rushmore from Canada."  Kinda funny.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Right Place At the Right Time

Saturday, Opa had final sermon and Sunday school preparations to do and hubby was getting back from his business trip.  He's had some long, busy days, so I knew Jon would want a nap when he got back.  Being that both of those goals are more easily accomplished with no kids running around the house, the kids and I went to "The Living History Farm" in Des Moines with Oma.

At one point early in our drive there, we encountered so much rain that we considered turning around and trying again on Sunday afternoon.  I'd looked at radar images before we left, so I was pretty confident that we may encounter some rain but that it wouldn't be nearly as bad as what we were driving through.  Luckily I was right.  The fact that I had brought rain jackets and umbrellas made the decision a little easier as well.

For those of you not familiar with The Living History Farm, it is a hands-on experience that takes you through Iowa farming from 1700 through the early 1900's.  They have "actors" who tell you about how life would have been during that time.  We talked to pioneers from the 1850's who were eating lunch prepared over a wood fire using food grown on the farm from their time period (let me just say it smelled so good I wanted to join them).  We saw how they made brooms and RX pills in a "town" set in 1865.  We spent about 3 - 4 hours at the farm learning all kinds of new and interesting things.

About the time I was expecting Jon to be getting to his parents house, I got a call from him.  Unfortunately, he was experiencing car troubles.  You see, our truck was too big to fit in the parking lot at the airport so he had taken his parent's car.  After calling his dad, it was determined that he would just drop it off at the dealership so they could work on it next week (apparently this problem had happened before and it is still under warranty).

Of course I felt kind of bad that this happened to him, but I was glad his mom and I didn't have that car for our trip because then we could have been stranded with the kids somewhere.  Then I got to thinking some more.  He had been able to limp the car for a while, but made the decision not to drive any further once he got to Des Moines.  What's more, he was only 2 blocks from The Living History Farm and 1 mile from the dealership when all this happened.  If we had turned around and decided to come back another day, he would have been stuck there waiting for someone for much longer than he did (he had to wait for us to finish part of the tour).  Talk about being in the right place at the right time. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Calm Before the Storm

I've been feeling kind of bad the last few days because my in-laws have been doing all kinds of different things with my kids while I've just been sitting around.  My in-laws haven't said anything, so I don't think it's something they mind.  It did get me thinking about why I've just been sitting back doing nothing.  Then it hit me.

We are only a few days away from leaving Iowa for Florida.  The kids love spending time with their grandparents without me.  In fact, yesterday I was recently asked by my daughter to stay in the car while they fed some ducks. 

I also have one other reason.  Once we get to Florida, it's pretty much all going to be on me again;  I won't have a babysitter and I won't have school to send them to.  Not only will I be the primary care provider and teacher for both of my kids, I will also be setting up a "new" house.

So, yes, I'm taking advantage of the situation a bit.  But can you blame me?

Friday, September 2, 2011


A while ago, the kids and I went to a water park with Jon's mom.  I remember a boy coming in alone just after us.  I though it was a bit odd since he was about the same size as my 7.5 YO son.  Turns out, he saw my son and figured they would get along just great so he found us inside the park and asked to play together.  They were the same size so they were the same age right?

WRONG!  Turns out this boy will be turning 11 in just a couple weeks.  I know my son is tall for his age, but is he really THAT big?!?!  Once the boy found out my son's age, he didn't go off and find someone else closer to his age to play with either. 

After watching them interact I could tell there were certainly some age-specific developmental differences, but you know what, they played together for 2 hours and they had a great time.  The other boy, was able to get my son to come out of his shell a bit too.  He even convinced my son to do a rather large and fast water slide.  They were riding in a tube, but the current at the bottom was pretty swift so I was happy and impressed to see him willing to do it (over. and over. and over. and over again). 

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Something Good Amongst the Bad

Many of my friends and family have been affected by the earthquakes and hurricane that hit the East coast last week.   Jon's grandparents live about 50 miles from the earthquake's epicenter.  So do my parents (in a different direction).

Hurricane Irene also caused a large tree in the backyard of Jon's grandparents to fall down near their house.  This particular tree was so large that after it fell you could stand in the front yard and see the trunk on one side of the house and the top of the tree on the other.  It landed on one of their cars and just missed the house.  They are still without power like many on the East coast.  The flooding in New
England is just amazing to me.

Then of course there is the economy.  The housing market has still not recovered.  Unemployment is still rather high.  Food and gas prices are on the rise.

But yesterday, a friend of mine won a very long-fought battle.  She won full custody of her 5 year old daughter.  It's nice to know that good things are still happening even though the news is only talking about the bad stuff that's happened lately.