Wednesday, November 5, 2014

From my journal: 21 Nov 2012

I hear his rhythmic breathing - in, out, in, out - with a very small snore accompanying the rise and the fall of that five year old chest.  I keep thinking of his birth.  Five years ago, I was mothering two:  3 year old Emme and 5 year old Jack.  Most days, however, Jack went by his cowboy name, Black Jack Walker.  'Ole Black Jack was quick on the draw and ever ready to defend a lady.  Evan is in his own  cowboy phase now.  What he lacks in cool cowboy name, he more than makes up for in spunk and pure raw boy-ness.  He is right where big brother was when he was born, and thinking of Jack at the same age, I truly wonder if two brothers were ever born with more different personalities.
My Jack has now traded his cowboy "Black Jack Walker" for his gamer name  "Beowulf".  I am so crazy proud of that boy.  This week is huge for him.  The closest thing I can think to compare it to is a Jewish Bar Mitzvah.  Jack is coming of age, and he is doing it the way West Virginia boys have been coming of age for many many years - in the woods with their fathers.  This is his first big hunting trip.  He is now, more than ever, one of "the guys".
Maybe that is why I am cherishing the little man beside me breathing his sleepy snores.  I've walked this path once before.  I know that mommies pick up cowboy hats and six shooters one day, not knowing that it was the last time they would be reached for.  It's once that phase has ended that you cherish it ever more.  Five years ago, I don't think I understood how quickly Black Jack's can turn into Beowulf's, and newborns can turn into cowboys.  Time, she is always moving.
Hunt well and enjoy your trip, my son.  I know that you will always remember this week for all your days as the first step into manhood -
and so will your  mother.  

Monday, October 27, 2014


Being a homeschool mom,  I get asked a lot of questions pertaining to home education.  Mainly, the questions center around "How?"

"How do you know what to teach?"
"How do you get your kids to sit still long enough to learn?"
"How do you get your housework/cleaning done?"
"How do you fit it all in?"
"How do you stay sane?"

The simple answer to all of these is, I don't.

Because I don't know exactly what to teach, I purchase a curriculum with a teacher's guide which leads me.
Some days we don't sit still to learn.  Currently, we are tagging along on my husband's business trip to Wyoming and exploring the area.  We did bring our books with us too, but we are taking it easy and stretching one week's schedule into two weeks time, and supplementing with hands on experience such as touring the Wyoming Territory Prison, hiking/bouldering through Vedauwoo, and driving through Medicine Bow National Forest and into the Snowy Range of the Rocky Mtns.
We just don't always fit every single thing in.  Priorities are constantly being checked and while our calendar stays fairly full, I do try to keep as much as possible clear for schooling.  I am learning to say no more, and to appreciate that being a homeschool mom is a full time job.
And, sanity?  It's overrated!  :)

Here is what I don't get asked much:  Why?  Why do I homeschool my three children?

My friend, Kristen, asked me to write a blog post about why I started homeschooling, and I did find it interesting that I don't get asked "why" much.  So, for Kristen, and for anyone else interested or curious about home education - here is our story:

I can clearly remember having a baby bump growing so large that my heavy Columbia winter coat was getting quite snug around the front zipper.  Wisconsin is a harsh state to winter through, but that is where the Marine Corps had sent us, and rain or shine, snow or sleet our little doggie still needed walked each night before bed.  As my bundled up husband walked, and I waddled around our apartment complex leash in hand, we spoke about this little guy that we were bringing into this harsh and cold world.  What would his life look like being a child of an active duty Marine?  How often would he have to move?  How many times would he have to change schools?  And so, in time, the talks kept coming back to homeschooling.  We reasoned that if all else changed in his life, his state or even his country, his friends, his church, through deployments - this one thing we could keep stable and unchanging for him, school would be stable.  His teacher would be me.

Of course, once the decision was made, then the doubts began to creep in.  After all, I had some college, but I didn't finish - and that was for nursing, not education!  I felt extremely inadequate and unprepared, and so I found myself doing what I always do when I feel this way - I spent hours researching and reading about schools, education, and particularly home education.  My child wasn't even born yet, but I needed answers.  The more I read, the more I realized that homeschool was more than just school at home.  My son's education would look nothing like my public school education had.  This scared me, but more than that, it got me excited.  I wanted to learn more.  I started to believe I really could do this, and it felt right for us as an active duty military family.

Time passed, the belly grew even larger, and the time came for my husband to re-enlist after completing eight years in his beloved Corps.  Feeling the pull to raise our child at home among family, and watching some of our family members experience failing health - we made the hardest decision we had faced, and for the first time, we put our child's needs above our own with the decision to not re-enlist.   My career Marine left his Marine Corps that he loved, and the career he excelled at to give his child the chance to grow up among the mountains and the family that he and I had grown up among.

Again, time passed, and that baby grew to a pre-school aged boy with a baby sister, and a momma with baby bump #3 growing.  Talk of education started back up.  This wasn't an idea or a theory any longer, this was the real deal.  We weren't active duty military any longer.  Did this change everything?  We were in rural West Virginia now, and this was not the situation we had planned for.  What now?  With much prayer and many discussions, I would recall all that I had read about homeschool.  I remembered how excited I was to give Jack something different that what we received.  I still wanted to homeschool, and yet I still felt very inadequate.  On top of not knowing what I was doing, I now had more than just Jack to care for.  I was terrified of failing him.

We decided on a "trial" period.  We would buy curriculum and follow it for pre-school.  If I completely bombed, we could send him to kindergarten at age 5.  I had a safety net.  Knowing that, I proceeded into his pre-school education fearlessly.  After all, it was just "trying it".  We had a blast.  We read books on the couch, his sister did art with him with her chubby little fingers, and life was blissfully fabulous.  I loved, absolutely loved, schooling him.

At the end of this year, again, a decision had to be made.  Buy more curriculum or send him to kindergarten?  Adding to my decision was a newborn baby, and a three year old sissy to care for during his first "real" year of school.  This was it, the real deal, I had to send a letter of intent to the Board of Education telling them my son wasn't truant, we were homeschoolers.  Real ones.

The weight of it was so very heavy for me.  I cried as I prepared a letter of intent that first year.  I prayed over and over, "Please don't let me fail at this.  If I screw up every area of my life, please let me get this right for them!"  It became a mantra for days, "please don't let me fail at this, please don't let me fail…"   And, after days of holding that letter of intent, I felt peace and I felt God speak to my soul:

 "I will equip you.  I have called you, and I won't leave you unprepared.  I love your children more than even you do.  I gave you this desire, because this is your ministry.  You are not alone.  As I gave manna to the Israelites, I will give you daily what you need.  Trust me, and obey."

With a deep breath and a prayer, I mailed that first letter of intent.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

What I want his mom to know.

I am trying my hardest to raise my two sons into sweet, thoughtful, polite gentlemen.  I want them to honor their elders and to cherish their women.  
Your son does.

In 19 years of marriage, your son has been a wonderful husband.  He is also one of the best fathers I've been around.  He works so hard, not just at his job, but at his business, and also at home.  He truly takes care of us well.  

I hope that he feels as loved by me as he has always made me feel.  

What I want you to know is that I thank you for that.  Sons don't raise themselves.  Wonderful men don't happen by accident.  You have done well by your children - all of us.

I will never forget that first vacation we took together to the beach.  I got an ear infection, and in typical Drema fashion, you nursed me back to health.  You played with my hair.  You loved on me, and you haven't stopped.  You just have a touch for fixing the broken things in this world.  When most people give up, you breathe life back into things.  I admire that.  

I have learned to make your special green bowl chicken, your hard candy, and hamburger stuff - but I'd still rather sit at your table.  Mine just never quite measures up.  You are an amazing cook.  Thank you for patiently teaching me some of your tricks.  When we cook together, it always makes me feel more like a daughter than a daughter-in-law.  That means a lot.

I love that you had all boys, because now you get excited to talk makeup and jewelry with us girls.  My mom had all girls, so she gets excited to have Mike take out her trash for her.  Thank you for raising a son that is not only good to me and our children, but good to my mommy.

For all the ways you have loved me through the last twenty years, I do sincerely thank you, and I love you.

Friday, May 9, 2014

What I want my mom to know.

I think you're the greatest.  I really do.

You look back on my childhood with regrets and "what if", but I look back with the fondest of memories.  I haven't forgotten the bad times, it's just that the good definitely out way those bad days.

You gave me stability and security, even when there wasn't.

You went to work outside our home, when everything in you wanted to stay home and "mommy" us.  I knew you would have rather been home cooking and cleaning for us, and that it ate at you that you weren't there.  That is why I took up those chores, hoping to help you do what you had to do with a little less guilt.  I took so much pride in having your kitchen clean for you when you came home, just like you would have.  I copied you in so many ways, and I still do.

I look back and laugh at some of our memories.  I'll never forget the first time we had to figure out the riding lawnmower on our own.  Two clueless gals, trying to cut grass.  You didn't weigh enough to keep the mower on, so I had to ride behind you.  We talked a lot while the two of us circled the yard.  Our hearts got closer and closer every week we circled together in the sunshine smelling freshly cut grass, feeling quite proud of ourselves for figuring it all out.  Sure, we ran into the fence once, and we never did quite get that weed eater going - but, we did what needed doing.  You and I.

Randi was too little to help a whole lot, and she just seemed so fragile.  You and I became partner mothers for her, for better or for worse.  And, we had both of those, the better and the worse - The Three Musketeers.   It was us three against the world!

But, it wasn't.  We had so many others supporting us, even when it felt like a lonely time.  I remember Grandma showing up with bags of goodies.  I remember Uncle Jasper coming for a late night emergency call.  Three hysterical females screeching and pointing at an upside down bucket covering a mousetrap containing a mouse, and loosing our minds every time that bucket scooted a bit.  We laughed and laughed.  How do people survive without family?

I guess that what I want you to know is that you did well.  It was the best of times and the worst of times all at once, and I remember the better days more.  You did that for us.  You made it ok.

What I have learned about motherhood, is that no one expects perfection from a mother but herself.  If you love your people, they cut you a lot of slack.  Just love your people well.

Was my childhood perfect?  Nope.
Were you a perfect mother?  Nope.
But, you were perfect for us, because you have always loved us well.

Oh, have you loved us well.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

March 1

March already?  Time, she is moving faster and faster these days.
I can remember Mom and Grandma saying that, and now I hear my own voice, ever so gradually, becoming more and more "them".

My habits, my demeanor, my thoughts - all echo touches of my mother and her mother.  One day, I suspect, my Emily shall hear more and more of me.
Curious really, that when you reach the age of being "your own woman" and "finding yourself", that what I am really finding is them.

As I prepare meals, I can see my mother in her kitchen preparing that same meal.  I can look down to my hands working at the cutting board, and more each day, they are becoming her hands.  
As I give newborn advice to my sister, it's my Grandma's words that pour out.  Her old-fashion ways that have circled time and become modern again, reminding us there is nothing new under the sun.  

I suppose that is family legacy.  The older they get, and the more of themselves they see slipping away, it is for me and my generation to pick up the pieces.

All that running away, all that "forging my own path", and when I look into my older eyes, I see theirs.  I see home.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Franklin Covey Boston Compact Size

A few people have asked about my planner, how I use it, what I have in it.  I thought a video would be the easiest way to answer your questions.  
I hope this is helpful to someone.  

Yes, I am fully aware that I am an organizational nerd.  I'm ok with it.
Yes, I know I have a very thick hillbilly accent.  Also ok with that.  :)

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Twice Baked Sw. Potato

This is my favorite way to have a sweet potato.  They are so yummy, and also pretty easy to make.  Make them, you'll be happy you did.  Just don't think about how many calories are in each one.  It has to be at least 1,000!  :)  Don't make them often, and you'll be fine.  Moderation.  Everything in moderation.  
(That's my 2014 word:  Moderation.  I'm not very good at it yet, but  I'm learning.)

twice baked sw potato
1.  Wash your sweet potato skin well.  Rub with oil (I like Olive Oil.) Wrap in aluminum foil.  Place directly onto oven rack, and bake @350 until fork goes in easily.  (about an hr)

2.  Cut a cross shape onto the top of your potato, push the ends of your potato towards the center to open it up.  Scrape out sweet potato inside into a bowl.  Take care not to tear up your skins.  If you leave a little potato in the skin this is better than tearing your skin to pieces.

3.  Mash the sweet potato in the bowl with a little milk and butter.  Season with Pumpkin Pie Spice and Brown Sugar - (and I like to add just a tiny bit of black pepper).  Mix and mash this well.  Spoon this filling back into your skin(s).
4.  Top with a drizzle of Maple Syrup (just a drizzle, don't loose your mind and go crazy with it.)  and Mini Marshmallows.  Sprinkle with Cinnamon.  Place under broiler just long enough to melt marshmallow and brown a bit.

5.  That's it!  Now you get to eat the best sweet potato ever.  

We had these for dinner last night.  So yummy!  If you try them, please let me know how they turned out.

I'm going to leave you with a view from my window this morning.  

Downy Woodpecker

I've had feeders out for a few days now, and the kids and I have really enjoyed birdwatching/ squirrel watching.  It's a very enjoyable hobby.  I've been trying to identify the birds that visit, but I'm not the best at identification yet.  Bear with me, and feel free to correct me, if I give them the wrong name.
Black Capped Chickadee

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