Where Are You Going?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

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That's the first question people ask when you say you're adopting overseas. They expect you to answer China, or somewhere in Central/South America, even the "common" Eastern European countries are nodded at as if they know all about where your child will be from.


But if you say "Kazakhstan" people look at you funny. Very funny. Then they try to pronounce it back to you, which is funny. Very funny. To you.

It's a "-Stan" country, formerly of the USSR, but it's so much more than that. We claim America to be the great melting pot, but Kazakhstan is a beautiful blend of people-groups. It's the one country where we don't know what our future child looks like.

She could have dark black hair, and beautiful Asian features. Kazakhstan shares it's eastern border with China.

Or, she could have blonde hair and deep blue eyes - the descendant of a Polish or Scandinavian intellectual who was sent to Kazakhstan to work in the coal mines by the Communist regime.

Or, she could have reddish-brown hair and brown eyes, and people will never think to ask if she's my biological daughter or not, because she'll look just like me.

The country is a little less than 1/2 Muslim and a little less than 1/2 Russian Orthodox, and it has a hint of Protestantism. Yet, there are no holy wars here. These people are trying to survive and thrive as their country changes repeatedly in their own lifetimes.

Old men can remember before there was a USSR that engulfed them formally in 1936, when they were small boys. Their wives remember before "criminals" were sent there to work. The highly educated that threatened the Communist governments. And the "Virgin Land" program in the 40's and 50's that brought so many Russians that there were soon more non-native inhabitants than native.

Then independence in 1991 left a country of confusion. Many people left - going home to what they still remembered, or what they had heard first-hand stories of from their own parents.

What was left was a country struggling to find it's identity. Struggling to find even it's common language. Forward motion came, as it did for the Clampets, in the form of "black gold". Kazakhstan, the world's 9th largest country, sits on a huge reserve of oil. The first pipeline was completed in 2001, the second had a majority completed in 2006.

It's been a slow and steady climb for this new Republic (the President is elected, but most power is held by the Executive Branch of the government). Their money is increasing in strength (the Tenge), the children are being taught Kaz in school as their primary language, Russian is being regulated to a secondary language. 19% of the population lives below the poverty line, but the literacy rate is over 99%.

These are numbers, statistics that can perhaps help you envision the world that our daughter lives in. And that's important for sharing with our family and friends. But they don't clearly represent the people. It's what I love most about reading other PAP's blogs - seeing their pictures and hearing about the lives they encounter.

It's my primary reason for keeping this blog. I want our child to be able to see the people she came from, and the heritage she has.

And that life transcends data.

~Lone Butterfly )i(

And We're Off!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

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Most PAPs (Potential Adoptive Parents) like to put out a timeline for when they expect everything to happen. I’m feeling like it’s a little to early for that.

Ideally, we would like to travel to Kazakhstan next July, August, or September. But that is so dependent on so many outside factors, like the Government and our homestudy Social Worker, that who knows!

Tuesday we mailed off the application to our chosen Adoption Agency. Even that took a bit longer, because Husband and I really wanted to make sure we had done our research on the Agency for this country (checking references, the Better Business Bureau, independent groups, etc).

We’ve also been reading lots of blogs from families that have recently traveled to Kazakhstan. That has been really helpful, as we’ve seen many different experiences and have been able to extrapolate the commonalities. Husband and I will go back and read some again, after we get our Letter of Invitation and we know what city we’ll be traveling to.

One of the rather unique aspects of Kazakhstan is that we’ll be traveling blind.

That means that we won’t know who our child is before we leave. We will be invited to come to a city and visit their Baby House. At the Baby House we’ll be presented with 1-5 little girls, and we have to choose one. This is the part which scares me the most, but every single person I’ve talked to (or read about) has said it’s not once it happens. The child God chooses for you is plainly obvious.

Traveling blind means, also, that there is a small possibility we won’t have a girl in our age range. We can then either adjust our age range or adopt a boy. Husband and I are comfortable adjusting up to 4 years old, and if God chooses another son for us, that’s okay also. (We have his name picked out, too!)

This isn’t as likely, because the reason most issues crop is that the infants haven’t been in the system long enough (Kazakhstan requires a 6 month time between being entered into the system and being “adoptable”.) Children who are already 2-3 years old tend to have been in the system since they were infants, so the 6 month wait has long since past for these little girls.

So – from here, where do we go?

First – the Agency will contact us.

Second – we’ll begin our homestudy. This is at least 3 visits with the Social Worker. One in her office (both Husband and I), one in our home (includes the Caterpillars), and another in her office (separate interviews for me and Husband).

Third – we’ll begin collecting our Dossier documents and get fingerprinted by the FBI (ooooo – fun!)

Even though we are still at the beginning, it’s nice to be able to DO something. I hear it gets much harder when you’ve done all you can, and you’re waiting on others to move your documents along.

Keep us in your prayers!

~Lone Butterfly )i(

Chanukah

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

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The 8th night of Chanukah will begin at sundown tonight, and it’s the first night this year the boys won’t be home to light the candle. They are spending the night at my sister, Boo’s, house. Her husband, Firefighter, is out fighting fires and won’t be home, so they are going to keep her company.

Last night, right before they went to bed, we sat around the kitchen table eating dessert (CW had baked cookies and B10 had baked an apple crisp – both very yummy) and we talked about Judah Maccabee and his father, Mattathias, and how God provides for us in our time of need.

This is the first year CW can actually understand the true story, not just bits and pieces. Due to the fact that we’ve just moved into our (still not all together finished) house, we weren’t able to have friends over for dinner any night, and the latkes will have to wait for Thursday night, but this was still a very special holiday for us as a family. It was our first Chanukah together as a family.

Last night, amid the giggling and slurping of melting ice cream and the spilled drops of milk, I realized how lucky I was to have children who don’t have to fit in with everyone else. B10 never questioned why we have a menorah in our window, when most of the other people on our street (or our neighborhood, or town) have one. CW doesn’t wonder why the other kids in his class don’t also know the story of how Antiochus IV oppressed the Israelites.

They listen and ask questions, and it excites me to see them slowing growing in faith.

Tomorrow morning, early, I’ll begin putting away the menorah, carefully packing it in it’s box. I’ll place it in the attic, where it will sit until December 21st of next year (it’s a later Chanukah in 2008). But the lessons my sons have learned will stay with them, forever.

Jehovah Jira, My Provider,
His Grace Is Sufficient for Me, for Me, for Me.
Jehovah Jira, My Provider,His Grace Is Sufficient for Me.
My God Shall Supply All My Needs
According to His Riches in Glory.
He Gives His Angels Charge over Me.
Jehovah Jira Cares for Me, for Me, for Me.
Jehovah Jira Cares for Me.
~Lone Butterfly )i(

My Blond One

Friday, December 7, 2007

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My second son was born a blond, it's getting darker - just like his father's did. He'll be dark-haired by the time he's 10 if history holds true.
~
He's almost 6 - his birthday is in February, exactly a week before Valentine's Day. He's still my little one, who rebels against anyone's notions of how he's suppose to act - then blindsides them with his adorablity. We are sure he's running for office, a politician in the making. Even when you're angry, he's making you laugh and think.
~
He would follow his older brother to the ends of the earth, he doesn't even say his name - just "Brother". He wants so badly to be included, and blessedly is most of the time.
~
He loves to give gifts. When he is able to get something out of the treasure box at school, it's almost always a piece of pretty pink plastic jewelry - which he's picked out for me, or his Aunt, or my Mum (his Grandmum). He then presents it to us as if he's spent all day inspecting diamonds to choose just the right one. And we feel as though he has.
~
He can't stand being teased or bullied - and won't allow it to happen to anyone else when he's around. I've seen him stand up to kids twice his size on the playground and tell them to leave a smaller child alone.
~
He listens, and remembers. When we lit the candle for the 3rd night of Chanukkah last night, he began telling how God provides for our needs, just as He did for the Jews. When asked what he was most thankful for in Kindergarten (at his Thanksgiving feast) his response was - "My Savior." Whether he is coloring his menorah coloring sheet, or reading his book on the Nativity, he knows his God.
~
His dream is to grow up and be a research scientist to kill bad germs, or President, or a teacher, or an Astronaut. Who knows where his dreams will take him in the next few years?
~
He can't wait for his baby sister. He goes into her room sometimes and talks about how he will play gently with her, and let her have tea parties with him and Brother when she comes.
~
He's incredible. After having one child, a piece of me wondered how I could love another one as much as I did the first - the CW was born and I realized how easy it was. He is a child of my heart.
~
~Lone Butterfly )i(

Hamburger Soup - Twice as Nice

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It should not be surprising that the only recipe I've ever posted - I'm posting again.

I mean, I could post the Guacamole Recipe to up the number to 2 - but that's actually B10's, not mine. He took the base and ran with it to create a concotion all his own (I hear it's very good - allergies prevent me from trying).

Actually, maybe I WILL post that.

But not now.

Because NOW is:


It's A Soup-Tacular!



This is my standby staple, my favorite for summer, winter, spring, or fall. It's HAMBURGER SOUP. And my caterpillars have been eating it for YEARS! It's very simple to make, it freezes well, and tastes twice as good the next day.

1 small bottle ketchup
1/3 small bottle mustard
1/4 cup Worcestershire Sauce
2 cans no-salt added corn
2 cans no-salt added English peas
1 can black-eyed peas (without any "meat")
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
Sprinklings of Tony's Seasoning
8-10 cups water

Brown the grown beef and add a bit of Tony’s to the beef. Drain well and place back on the stove. Add the ketchup, mustard, and 1 cup of water to dilute. Stir well.

Add the veggies (drained), Worcestershire Sauce, and the rest of the water.

Bring to a boil and adjust to taste. Depending on your personal preference – you might like more ketchup or more mustard. You DO NOT need to add salt, because the ketchup and mustard will add that for you.

When the caterpillars were small they liked it without the "juice" (just the veggies/meat strained in a bowl).Delicious when served with fresh baked bread. (Or whatever is on sale at Kroger, if you’re me.)

Head over to boomama.net for more Soup-Tacular Recipes!

~Lone Butterfly )i(

My Oldest Heart

Thursday, December 6, 2007

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My oldest heart turns 8 this month. Ever since I can remember, this age was the turning point from little kid to big kid. 7 was still young, but 8 - why 8 was getting ready to be a teenager!
~
He's amazing, my son. His heart is kind and gentle. He loves to play war, his male protective instinct manifesting in so many ways. He would never hurt a kitten or lizard or little girl.
~
He loves bugs. Real bugs. He declared when he was 4 that he wanted to be an Entomologist (bug scientist, for the unaware), and hasn't changed his mind since. He even has researched the top two Entomology schools in the nation. (We've made an effort not to sway him between UGA and Florida State - let him choose as he gets older.)
~
He loves music. Husband is giving him basic guitar lessons, and he sings every week in choir. When he's sad, sometimes he'll sit on his bed and sing hymns to himself. Days of Elijah is his favorite song.
~
He is empathetic - if I am sad, he wants to hug me and console me. If his brother gets hurt, he puts his arm around CW's shoulders and tries to make it better. God gave him a sweet, sensitive side that many never get to see.
~
He cooks and does laundry. And still thinks it's fun. Helping around the house by doing "grown-up" tasks. He's a giver, who understands his fortune and wants to help other's misfortune. When he hears of a hurt or poor child, he wants to give of himself to help.
~
He's not always gotten the easiest end of the stick, being my firstborn, and therefore subject to many bumbling choices. But he's always forgiven me, and stepped back up to life. This summer, he took being confined in a wheelchair better than most boys thrice his age would.
~
He's amazing. I couldn't have asked for a better oldest son. I look forward to the day he's also my friend.
~
~Lone Butterfly )i(

Thanksgiving Weekend

Friday, November 23, 2007

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For Thanksgiving this weekend we spent the actual day and Turkey Dinner with Husband's side of the family. Only one of Husband's brothers was able to make it, but B-10 and CW had a blast with the older cousin (the younger was sleeping most of the day, sweet thing).


This was the first holiday that the boys were with Husband's family, and it was so wonderful. They behaved well (as well as little boys can behave) and the family was so welcoming!

Then it was off to Chattanooga - just Husband, the boys, and me. We are spending the weekend on our own little family vacation to our favorite city.

We got in pretty early last night, the swimming pool was still open and the boys got in a good 45 minutes worth before bedtime. This morning, we had breakfast - the back to the pool for another 30 minute swim - before heading out to the Chattanooga Zoo. This was our first time to visit the Zoo, notice the four monkeys in the picture:

Okay - there's only three monkeys! ;) I was very impressed by the care that was obviously being given to the animals here. It's a very small zoo (and I live in a city with a very LARGE zoo), but it was well laid-out and was teaming with zookeepers taking care of the animals. We were able to get very close to the cages. One of the chimps even came all the way up to the glass, right next to me, and attempted to communicate (if anyone knows what a head nod and a kissy face means - ring me up!).

After lunch at Krystal's we drove to the Chickamauga Battlefield. This was exciting for the boys, because not only could they run around and play on cannons/cannonball pyramids/monuments, they were also able to have their National Park Passports stamped.

I know, at this time in their lives, it's still hard to understand exactly what history they are looking at. But my hope is that as they grow older, and we study more indepth during their homeschooling years, they will be able to make those connections to the places they have already been. It's so rewarding to know that the time we spent learning today was family time and school time.

After that drive, the boys were ready for dinner, which I cooked back in the room (I LOVE staying in a suite). Then we went swimming again (for over an hour this time), before coming back for baths and bedtime. They are doing so well together. Currently B-10 and CW are under the covers watching a movie, their stuffed animals stuck between them, watching quietly.

The other special thing about this trip, is that it's the first trip with our new Travel Pet. Jonah, the clownfish, has been with us since our first family trip to Chattanooga in Feb of this year. When Husband and I were on our honeymoon, we added a new pet, christened "Lightening" by B-10.

Here they are posing beside the breakfast centerpiece. Aren't they cute!

It's off to bed for me, hopefully the boys will sleep a while in the morning (neither had a nap today). I can't wait for tomorrow's adventure!

~Lone Butterfly )i(

God's Grace

Saturday, November 17, 2007

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Grace – it’s a word that means so much, in so many different ways. I’ve often heard the quote: “Mercy is not getting what you deserve, Grace is getting what you don’t deserve.”

It’s here that Husband and I begin the process of adding to our family. With two sons, we’ve decided that God has a daughter in store for us. One who is already here, simply without parents and brothers. B-10 and CW have been involved in the discussion, and are beyond excited about having a little sister, one who they can hug and love and adore.

I often am amazed by how God constantly uses our past experiences to prepare us for our future. Because the caterpillars saw me as a surrogate mother for an infertile couple (I carried their genetic child to term and gave birth), it is completely normal to them to understand that sisters don’t have to come from inside Mums. Sometimes sisters come from somewhere else – and they are still OURS.

I know that through that same experience, God prepared my heart to accept another woman’s child as my own. Fully and completely – with no distinction. What a wonderful God we have.

After countless hours of searching, we’ve tentatively settled on the country of Kazakhstan. We intend to adopt a girl between the ages of 2 and 3 years old.

I’ve spent about 8 hours working on what seems like 6 simple pages of paperwork and one government form. Here is where my heart grows heavy. Can we do it? Can we spend the next year preparing and waiting and waiting some more – just to bring our new caterpillar home sometime next fall? Will we grow weary along the way?

Of course we will. Weariness is normal in any situation that requires waiting. Waiting for the paperwork to be filed and approved. Waiting to get FBI clearance. Waiting to hear what the Social Worker has to say about our home. Waiting to be invited by the Kazakhstan government to enter their country. Waiting to be allowed to travel. Waiting for court dates. Then waiting to bring her home.

But through God’s power, we will do it. And our daughter will come home. Someday she will be our Grace. Our beautiful daughter.

But for now, she is God’s Grace. And He will sustain us through the next year, all of us. The four parts of our family that live here, in the Southern US – and the missing piece of us that lives so very far away.

~Lone Butterfly

What You Got?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

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Yeah, Yeah.
~
What you got if you ain't got love?
The kind that you just want to give away.
It's ok to open up.
Go ahead and let the light shine through.
I know it's hard on a rainy day.
You wanna shut the world out and just be left alone.
But don't run out on your faith.
~
Cause sometimes that mountain you've been climbing,
is just a grain of sand.
And what you've been out there searching for forever,
is in your hands.
And when you figure out love is all that matters after all...
It sure makes everything else seem
so small.
~
It's so easy to get lost inside
a problem that seems so big at the time.
It's like a river that's so wide it swallows you whole,
while you're sitting around thinking about what you can't change.
And worrying about all the wrong things,
time's flying by, moving so fast.
You better make it count cause you can't get it back.
~
Sometimes that mountain you've been climbing
is just a grain of sand.
And what you've been out there searching for forever
is in your hands.
Oh, and when you figure out love is all that matters after all,
it sure makes everything else seem
so small.
~
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
~
Sometimes that mountain you've been climbing,
is just a grain of sand.
And what you've out there searching for forever
is in your hands.
And then you figure out love is all that matters after all,
it sure makes everything else,
oh, it sure makes everything else seem
so small.

For mine and Husband's wedding, my sister, Boo, surprised us by playing Carrie Underwood's new single, So Small, for us to dance to. I cannot thank her enough for giving us that moment.

Because if you ain't got love - you have nothing, but if you have love - you have everything.

~Lone Butterfly )i(

And He Walks With Me...

Monday, October 1, 2007

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Which is a huge deal - not Christ walking with me, I mean He's done that for decades.

But B-10 walking.

Finally.

After an MRI last week (which had all sorts of tragically funny things happening), he's been given the go ahead to start walking again. No more wheelchair!

I should have some sort of praise to spout off, something witty and well thought out.

But I've just remembered what it's like to chase two boys around a house, and frankly, I'm a bit preoccupied with play-fighting and bug hunting to think up a paragraph or two.

God answers prayers. Four months of confinement has shaped B-10 in ways even I don't fully understand, but I'm thankful for every minute of it.

And I'm glad it's over.

Now - on to our next adventure!

~Lone Butterfly )i(

Our Homeschool Field Trip - Water Conservation

Monday, September 10, 2007

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Today Boo and Nephew came with the boys and I to a new “museum” in our county. I found it while investigating Cub Scout things (ah, the joys of being a Wolf Den Leader!) – and convinced Boo to drive out with me to the semi-faraway city which hosted the county-government sponsored facility, Gwinnett Environmental & Heritage Center.

To tell the truth, I wasn’t expecting much.

I was pleasantly surprised.

The boys all had a blast. B-10 and CW were able to do a set of worksheets and earn a badge (GREAT for homeschooling parents). We watched a cool video called Blue Planet, which involved water and lights and smoke.



There was an awesome water room, called H2O, where the boys pretended to be water going through a waste treatment plant and experimented with water as a solid, gas, and liquid.



They even have a couple of touch pools with Horseshoe Crabs and Green Mussels! Not to mention we met Bubba the Red-Ear Slider. We missed meeting GwinAnt – the mascot.



We ended up becoming members. I took their party brochure, and am seriously considering having both the boys Birthday Parties there.

We didn’t do the trails, mostly because I wasn’t going to push a wheelchair in 85 degree heat around the woods. Hopefully we will be able to go back a few times the next year, and earn even more badges!



~Lone Butterfly )i(

My New Suit...

Saturday, September 8, 2007

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Fiancé and I need to go this weekend and purchase his tuxedo for the wedding and for our black-tie event that will be on October 6th. The whole "new suit" business reminded me of a story I had heard about 3 years ago. After searching for the story, I reread it and decided to share it here. I hope you are as blessed as I was.

Billy Graham is now 86 years old with Parkinson's disease.

In January 2000, leaders in Charlotte, North Carolina, invited their favorite son, Billy Graham, to a luncheon in his honor. Billy initially hesitated to accept the invitation because he struggles with Parkinson's disease. But the Charlotte leaders said, "We don't expect a major address. Just come and let us honor you." And so he agreed.

After wonderful things were said about him, Dr. Graham stepped to the rostrum, looked at the crowd, and said, "I'm reminded today of Albert Einstein, the great physicist who this month has been honored by Time magazine as the Man of the Century. Einstein was once traveling from Princeton on a train when the conductor came down the aisle, punching the tickets of every passenger.

When he came to Einstein, Einstein reached in his vest pocket. He couldn't find his ticket, so he reached in his trouser pockets. It wasn't there, so he looked in his briefcase but couldn't find it. Then he looked in the seat beside him. He still couldn't find it. The conductor said, "Dr. Einstein, I know who you are. We all know who you are. I'm sure you bought a ticket. Don't worry about it."

Einstein nodded appreciatively. The conductor continued down the aisle punching tickets. As he was ready to move to the next car, he turned around and saw the great physicist down on his hands and knees looking under his seat for his ticket.

The conductor rushed back and said, "Dr. Einstein, Dr. Einstein, don't worry, I know who you are. No problem. You don't need a ticket. I'm sure you bought one."

Einstein looked at him and said, "Young man, I too, know who I am. What I don't know is where I'm going."

Having said that Billy Graham continued, "See the suit I'm wearing? It's a brand new suit. My wife, my children, and my grandchildren are telling me I've gotten a little slovenly in my old age. I used to be a bit more fastidious. So I went out and bought a new suit for this luncheon and one more occasion. You know what that occasion is? This is the suit in which I'll be buried. But when you hear I'm dead, I don't want you to immediately remember the suit I'm wearing. I want you to remember this: I not only know who I am .. I also know where I'm going."

How secure I am to know where I am going, even if I haven't the clothes to get there yet!

~Lone Butterfly )i(

A Rose By Any Other Name...

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

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What is a name? Who decides what your real name is?

My parents gave me a name. I’m not overly fond of it, but I wonder sometimes if it is because I am not confident in who I am. I shortened it into a more ambiguous title, and felt a bit better, most of the people in my life refer to me by that name.

It would be generous to say that perhaps 3,000 people know me by my name, it’s a unique name, and I’ve lived many places. I’m the girl in high school everyone remembers, because of my name.

But it would be stingy to claim that less than 50,000 people know me by the name I gave myself in my other writings. The Internet is a beautiful creation, allowing the common man to express himself in multitude of ways.

What began on a lark, a nomenclature created from the combination of one of my tattoos and the story of my soul, exploded into a place where people gathered. Praise and critiques thrown out equally, words of acclamation and loathing from a crowd assembling to read what I wrote.

Only two of them know my name, the name my mother and father bestowed upon me at my birth.

If the name I gave myself carries more weight, if it identifies me to a world that waits in wonder to read my writing, or at times waits with a cruel sense of purpose to rip my writing to shreds.

Does it then become my name?

What about my children? Is my real name simply ‘Mommy’ or the more oft used ‘M-O-M’, hollered from the backyard and usually followed by “can you bring me a popsicle?

I like to think my real name, my true name, is the one that will be used throughout eternity. I’m simply convinced that we will have some unique designation upon reaching heaven. The sheer number of Adam Smiths coming through the Pearly Gates alone requires a method of distinguishing between each man and woman.

If heaven’s listening – if possible, may I keep my Internet name? I’ve found, kind sirs, that I’m rather fond of it.

~Lone Butterfly )i(

Remembering the Past

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

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Baby Butterfly - Age 2

I was sorting through old digital pictures and found a few videos of when the boys were teeny-tiny. This is B-10 when he was a little over 2 years old, and living in Germany. He loved bugs even as a toddler. He ran around for DAYS with these wings on his back. He would put them on as soon as he woke up and not take them off until it was time to take a bath at night.

It's amazing to see how much he has grown. I can hardly believe the little "grown-up" that sits next to me on the sofa, reading his Magic Treehouse Book aloud, use to be the tiny caterpillar playing butterfly in my living room.

I have nothing pithy or brilliant to say. I can only pray each day that he will continue to grow into the kind of man that God plans for him to be.

Oh, the plans He has in store for you, my oldest heart.

~Lone Butterfly )i(

And Who Are You?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

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Not many people understand me, because I’m not easy to understand. People are suppose to fit into the world’s little cookie cutter shapes, and if you don’t there’s very little understanding.

But it’s more than cookie cutters, it’s like Legos©, the ones I buy for my boys in the kits. They come with detailed instructions, and where all the pieces go is clearly marked in the book with pictures.

So you take the instruction manual and the blocks and build a perfect castle, or fire station, or forest hideout, or a three-dimensional model of a pirate ship complete with chests of booty and planks to walk.

Except, sometimes, at the end of the day I’m to tired to fight with the boys over putting things away properly, and instruction manuals get lost, and the kits get broken up. Inevitably there is a plastic box stuffed with random plastic pieces. B-10 and Carter Word love that box; it’s full of pirates and astronauts and the occasional princess and dragon.

They empty it out on the floor and without looking at a slicked-up instruction sheet, build a world. A world where the Princess meets the Astronaut, and together they tame the Dragon, who just happens to be a Pirate, himself. Then the rowdy band of mischief-makers head to the nearest mountain range and battle the monster, at least until my mum or I comes in and tells them to leave the cat alone and get off the sofa.

People want to see your box. They want to look at the color photos and know what you are suppose to look like and they want the instruction sheet to know how to deal with you. They want to know what set you belong with; are you a “Future City” kit or a “Sherwood Forest” kit? No one likes to see the pile of bricks, not yet put together, and Heaven forbid one of your blocks got sucked up in the vacuum!

I don’t have a box. I’ve got a Knight, a glow-in-the-dark Ghost, a SCUBA diver, and one of those Astronauts. And seven or eight blocks that I haven’t found a place for yet.

You know what? I feel sorry for those people who have such a tight grip on their instruction sheet they can’t move past being “Grown-Up”, a “Better-Than-You Christian”, or a “perfect mother”.

Life is so much more fun in the big box of extra pieces.

~Lone Butterfly )i(

Kindergarten

Sunday, August 19, 2007

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CW's new Kindergarten teacher visited our home today to meet CW and the rest of the family (including the kitties). He was able to see pictures of the other kids in his class (6 boys and 8 girls) and show Mrs. B how he could read his favorite book and his Cars lunchbox.

He was very sweet and brought out his stuffed puppy to introduce her to Mrs. B. He also did cartwheels for her in the living room. Mrs. B stayed for about 30 minutes and answered all of our questions. CW asked her if she "randomly" assigned seats and we all giggled when she had to explain that she did seat assignments strategically.
He has 9 days to go before Kindergarten starts - and he CAN'T WAIT! I can't believe he's already this old!
~Lone Butterfly )i(

Fried Dill Pickles

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

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For tonight's Family Time we made Fried Dill Pickles for dessert.

The boys had a great day today, finishing all their schoolwork before lunchtime and then they played with their goo (see yesterday's post for instructions). So we decided to do something special and the boys learned all about dredging and hot oil and dry/wet/dry stations.
B-10 was the first dry station, then CW did the wet/second dry station - before I did the hot oil with Fiancé's help.
This is the delish finished product!


It was an easy and fun family activity - not to mention that pickles make a great dessert!

(I am not including pictures of the kitchen floor - otherwise you might be discouraged from ever attempting this in your own abode.) ;)

~Lone Butterfly )i(

Pictures

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

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So, because I'm feeling oh-so-crafty and motivated, I managed on Monday to not only get to the store and find matching picture outfits for the boys, but ALSO make it all the way to Stone Mountain Park to take the pictures AND upload said pictures AND order said pictures.


Whew, I'm feeling done with the motivation thing for a while.

The hardest part was moving around with B-10 on crutches. We decided not to take his wheelchair, simply because we were going down into the Nature Trails to take pictures, but the crutches weren't easy either. He was a trooper though!


Overall, I was thrilled with the pictures. The boys did great. I love looking at pictures - especially these. It was amazing to see how old they looked. Especially CW. They are my angels.


~Lone Butterfly )i(

Goo, Goo, Glorious Goo!

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B-10 and CW finished all their schoolwork early today, so we did a family science experiment tonight and made Goo!

B-10 decided to go with green goo, while CW went with blue. The adults got the leftovers from each bowl - which was plenty! It's easy to make, a blast to play with, and easy to clean up after you're done with the experiment.

Let it be known that goo makes excellent passing gas noises. ;)


The coolest thing about goo is that when you are moving it slowly, it acts like dough - very squishy and holds together. But if you move it quickly it acts kind of like bread, and breaks with jagged lines. We observed what happens when you leave goo alone in a big pile (it slowly spreads out) and when we pushed down on it (it gets a dull finish and takes our handprint, before spreading out and becoming shiny with no handprint).

I purchased three small Ziploc containers to hold our goo and keep it fresh. A wonderful Science moment all around!

Goo Recipe:

1 Cup All-Purpose White Glue

1 Cup Water (divided by 3/4 Cup and 1/4 Cup)

Food Coloring

1 Tablespoon Borax

Blend glue and 3/4 cup water in a large bowl. Stir until very smooth. Add food coloring until desired color. Set this bowl aside.

Blend 1/4 cup water with borax in a small bowl. Stir until dissolved. (This works best if you use very hot water.)

Add contents of small bowl to large bowl; stirl until goo begins to form. Then remove goo from bowl. There will be liquid remaining in the bottom of the bowl. (You can add more borax/water mixture to this liquid and make even more goo!)

Notes: Use METAL spoons to stir! Store in airtight containers. Do not let children ingest borax!

Have Fun Gooing!

~Lone Butterfly )i(

Today is the Day -

Friday, July 20, 2007

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You either KNOW or you DON'T -

Either you've taken off work tomorrow and cleared your schedule, because you KNOW you'll be sleeping - after having stayed up all night reading.

Or you're a confused reader who has no clue what on earth could be possessing me.

To quote a friend:

"You're a fan like you know the names of Harry's best friends? Or you're a fan like you know what A.P.W.B.D. stands for?"

I, my darlings, know what A.P.W.B.D. stands for. AND consider that to be an easy trivia question. ;)

I am hitting not one - but TWO - parties this evening. (I like to think of myself as an equal opprotunity book shopper - giving equal time to both Borders and Barnes and Nobles and their parties.)

I shall post pictures tomorrow, when I awaken, which will be late, because I'm staying up ALL NIGHT LONG until I'm finished reading Book 7.

I would say I will be thinking of you - but that would be a lie.

I'm off to spend time with my love - Severus and his pals.

~Lone Butterfly )i(

I'm the Luckiest Woman in the World!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

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If you live your life in prayer and seeking God's will - you will truly find happiness.

I gave my pain to the Lord and asked Him to be my strength, I prayed constantly for His will to be done, and my family and friends surrounded me in prayer for the same.

It was only after truly being able to let go and realize that even if I was going to be alone forever - that God would shelter me and comfort me - that I was able to receive the glorious gift of a man who wants to rebuild our relationship based on trust and communication.

Instead of canceling our premarital appointment for Monday - I had called our counselor and asked if he would meet with me alone, and help me work through the incident. Monday morning I received a phone call - ex-Fiance wanted to talk. Ex-Fiance ended up calling the counselor himself and making a 2 hour appointment (rather than our normal 1 hour) and drove 20 miles to come out and talk with me and the counselor.

It was amazing. It was as if fog had been lifted from our relationship and we were able to clearly see where both of us had erred in the past. He was an amazing man, claiming responsibity for his actions and truly stepping up to the commitment.

We won't be getting married in August, but the wedding will happen someday. Right now we are back to focusing on how we talk to one another and being able to express our feelings. It is a long and very slow process, but my heart will heal because I have given it to God.

We are not called to trust our fellow man, but Christ in His faithfulness. And that is where I am, daily trusting Fiance in the little things, but trusting Christ in all. What an amazing journey we will have together with Christ as the center of our lives and relationship.

~Lone Butterfly )i(

"Jesus is the rock between you and the hard place."

He Sends His Words

Sunday, July 8, 2007

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Tonight, I ran media for the Sunday Night service. It's (to repeat a tired phrase) pretty lonely up in the booth, with everyone down below. But then the music started. I cannot take any credit for the words below, they belong to another.

But I felt as if God was speaking to me directly.

How deep the Father's love for us, how vast beyond all measure.
That He would give His only Son to make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss; the Father turns His face away.
As wounds which mar the Chosen One, bring many sons to glory.
~
Behold the Man upon a cross, my sin upon His shoulders.
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there, until it was accomplished.
His dying breath has brought me life; I know that it is finished.
~
I will not boast in anything; no gifts, no power, no wisdom.
But I will boast in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer.
But this I know with all my heart, His wounds have paid my ransom.
~
But this I know with all my heart - His wounds have paid my ransom.

I am a precious and beloved child of the Creator of the Universe. He loves me.

Me.

~Lone Butterfly )i(

Really? Can a Girl Catch a Break?

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Let’s have a quick quiz here, peeps.

In the last two weeks I have:
a) had my 7 year old son B-10 confined to a wheelchair because of Perthes.
b) had my car implode and require almost $2000 in repairs.
c) had the man I intended to marry – tell me he wasn’t going to.
d) had the Minister at my church who I look up to the most tender his resignation.
e) all of the above.

If you answered “e” – you win.

Ah, the black humor that surfaces as my coping mechanism. It’s all I can do to hold on. The sense of loss is still so fresh and painful.

I would ask what else could happen, but I have a doctor’s appointment in a week, and I’ve been having enough problems that I’m not sure I want to know “what else”.

I have a daily quiet time, sitting with my Scripture or with my old hymnal singing.

I feel on some level as if I’m having a “Daily Quiet Day”. My heart is in constant prayer, trying to connect with Him and begin to understand His purpose.

Perhaps I should slow down, and just know He’s holding me. I’m going to be okay. I’m going to be more than okay – I will thrive in the life God will give me. The life He is giving me.

It’s so hard to let go and live. The hurt and pain still thrums through me.

I feel lonely. That’s the hardest part. I’m hurting and I can’t go to the person I thought was my best friend. I’m alone.

I trust God.

I do.

Even when it’s hard.

Because if I was only able to do it when it was easy, is it really trust?

May your day be full of beauty and life.

~Lone Butterfly )i(

Saturday, July 7, 2007

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This has been 48 hours of hell, easy.

I'm not even sure if I'm over the shock yet.

Thursday evening, on the way to pick out the tuxedos for the wedding, Fiance dumps me.

I would like to phrase it differently, but this was not a mutual understanding, this was someone who I love and trust basically ripping my heart out.

In two hours I went from planning a wedding (the invitations arrived Thursday in the mail) to handing him my engagement ring (so he could return it and keep the cash).

Now what? I'm still in shock, I think. The loss hasn't totally hit me. There are five beautiful little girls that I love and can never speak to again, not to mention my sister-in-laws to be who are incredible women that I was looking forward to being with.

And then the fact that I have two little caterpillars that can't wait to move into their new house; with their new dog, their new bedroom, and their new stepdad - what do I say to them? How do I tell them that seven weeks before the wedding he's backed out - because their mum wasn't enough?

Logically, people keep saying that it's better it happened now, rather than later. And I understand that, but it doesn't make the hurt go away. My feelings don't change overnight. I'm angry at him, but I love him with all my heart, and that will take time to go away.

Some people hurt you with slashing wounds; leaving gaping, bleeding slices in your heart. You clean them out, thoroughly, even if it hurts. You stitch it up nice and pretty, and let it mend. Put a bandage on it, maybe a little antibacterial cream – anything to help make it better.

Other people strike you hard - a solid hit - with a blunt object. Your heart bruises, but there’s nothing visible to the naked eye. You’ve got a black and green heart, instead of a healthy red one.

You can’t make bruises better, you have to ride them out. Leave them alone to heal.
And when people come along after all it takes is the lightest tap to send waves of pain through me.

They don’t know they are doing anything wrong. To a healthy heart a light tap, or even a solid whack, would only leave a bit of a niggling sense of pain.

Certainly not the waves of nausea that flood through me when my heart gets a rough thump. So I force myself to laugh.

As if humor can prevent me from vomiting on their pretty little shoes.

CW the Younger

Monday, June 18, 2007

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In March, oh so long ago, I took B-10 Gatlinburg all by himself, as a Mummy/B-10 Homeschool trip. Well, this weekend was CW's turn to go on vacation alone - for three days to Huntsville, Alabama.



Late Saturday evening we left home, I had hoped to get on the road early, since it's a four hour drive, but alas that was not to be. We drove for almost two hours before stopping for dinner (yes, it was a very late dinner, and I wasn't going to stop at all, just drive through, but CW wanted Cracker Barrel and we just happened to find one).



Here is Jonah (the family travel pet) and CW enjoying Cracker Barrel


The drive was long, I only got lost three times, and someone needs to build a road straight from Atlanta to Huntsville.


We finally check in the hotel, to find out that it is under construction - oh, we HAVE a room, just on a floor with LOTS of construction workers and construction noise. And the pool is coming apart. (Literally, the floor of the pool is coming apart, but they let us play in it if we are careful).


This is noted by the fact that CW has already enjoyed the pool three times in two days.

Day One was spent at church (the oldest church in Alabama in the Southern Baptist Convention - with a freaky iron rocket-ship steeple). Breakfast at McDonald's. Lunch at Joe Davis Stadium where the Huntsville Stars AA Baseball team plays (we saw three innings from the VERY FRONT ROW)! Then, because it's so darn hot we went to the mall.



We shopped at the Disney Store and found a few cute items to bring home for B-10 and Cousin Irene. I also found an adorable dress from a place I'd never seen called B Moss Clothing.



In the mall was also one of those bouncy, flippy, things (I'm being very technical!) and CW wanted to spend part of his money there (he had $30 in spending money for the trip).



We ended up coming back to the hotel and swimming again. Also, we played an N64 game on the TV (Paper Mario) which cost $6.97 per hour, but was well worth it! Dinner was room service, because we were tired, and the bed was comfy!


Monday was all laid out. I did my research ahead of time and we went (after breakfast at the hotel) to the US Space and Rocket Center. It was nice to see, CW enjoyed what he could of it - but the place was overrun with the Space Camp kids. Now, don't get me wrong, I am SURE that the bread-and-butter of the place is these kids, but REALLY. At one point a 9 or 10 year old boy shoved CW down to get inside a simulator first. Half the simulators were roped off for the Space Camp kids, and then they brought them into the IMAX and most of the counselors left the kids alone. It was not fun (but we got great souvenirs.)


I promised CW we would go to a children's history museum afterwards, which would be more fun for him. Yeah - it would have been fun if it were OPEN! I was so fed up (because I had already put $10 in the parking meter to get us 3 hours of parking time) that I took the advertisement saying they were open on Monday to the Huntsville Visitors Center.


They couldn't do much for me, but they did give me two 20% off coupons to the Huntsville Botanical Gardens.


This is BY FAR the absouletly best attraction in Huntsville. Kids and parents alike will LOVE this place. Make sure to let your kids wear sandals and shirts you don't mind them getting wet. The Kid's Garden was beautiful, and the Butterfly Garden was exquisite.



This is CW in the 1/2 Acre Wood, being rained on by the giant watering can. :)

The only bad part was losing Jonah. Luckily, we left out name and phone number and recieved a call this evening saying Jonah had been found! :D

We came back to the hotel to play a bit more Paper Mario and swim until dinner time (room service again). We'll be leaving early tomorrow to head home, because B-10 will be having surgery this week (which is a post for later...).

CW's favorite color is red AND blue, and he loves salad. His favorite animal is a cow. (Which he says when he moos...). His favorite vehicle is plane (and rocket) which he got to see today on the big screen (we saw the IMAX "Magic of Flight").

He's my favorite CW. Ever.

~Lone Butterfly )i(

This Morning I Cried...

Sunday, June 10, 2007

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We bow down,
we lay our crowns
at the feet of Jesus.
~
The goodness of
His mercy and love,
at the feet of Jesus.
~
And we cry holy, holy, holy.
And we cry holy, holy, holy.
And we cry holy, holy, holy
Is the Lamb.
~
~
This morning the entire family gathered at my sister (Boo's) church for her baby's dedication. They had all the babies up on stage and gave them their tiny bibles (which Nephew promptly shoved in his mouth), they gave a prayer then sent the children back to the nursery.
~
Boo and Fireman (her husband) slid back into the seats next to Fiance and I right before this song began. This is one of my favorite songs, but this morning I was touched unlike I have been in weeks.
~
I serve on the Media Team at my church, which involves me spending every Wednesday night working on slides and every Sunday morning running the slides for the songs, sermon, and annoucements. And while I have had a few Sundays off (due to a horrid meltdown of the church air conditioning system), this was the first Sunday I had off and was in a church. I had forgotten how joyful it is to worship.
~
I love serving, and have no desire to leave the Media Team, but it is so hard to never have the chance to SING the songs, because I'm so worried about making sure the words are up there for the 900 people or so that are singing during our church services.
~
I'm sure Boo couldn't understand why I was crying, or that the tears on my face were from joy, and a heart that was truly - at that moment - fully prepared to worship.
~
How lucky are we, to be able to lay our crowns down, at the merciful feet of Jesus? How beloved am I, to be the daughter of a King? How often does my heart sing to Him? How incredible that the Holy Lamb died for me?
~
May you be blessed on this Day of Rest.
~Lone Butterfly )i(

The Lake House

Monday, June 4, 2007

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For Memorial Day Weekend we celebrated with Fiance's family. The two of us drove down with B-10 and CW to hang out with all the cousins (5 girls - and another on the way!), two aunts, two uncles, and even more extended family. There were 22 people there at one point.



The boys and I camped out on the front lawn in our beautiful Coleman Tent. It's large enough for both boys to sleep on their cots and for Fiance and I to sleep in sleeping bags, me between the boys and him in front of the zippered door (to prevent midnight escapes).






I was hesitant, but really enjoyed myself. The boys had a blast, just as I expected. One Sunday morning, before we drove down, Fiance had taken us all to Target to purchase them their own water shoes and life jackets - which they didn't take off unless they were sleeping! Tuesday evening we had to drag them inside to put on clothes to wear home. :)


My favorite part of the entire weekend was one of our trips out on the boat (we took seven). Fiance and his youngest brother got into the raft behind the boat, while the three oldest children (B-10, CW, and their oldest girl cousin: Princess Flower), curled up on the seats. Fiance's stepfather and I stood and talked while he drove them around. The kids ended up falling asleep and napping for almost an hour, while Stepfather drove the boat through the lake and up the Chattahoochee River.


On the way back we woke the kids and I took a turn with each of them. As I was holding on to the raft, speeding behind the boat at somewhere between 2500 and 3000 RPM, I closed my eyes and let the water softly spray my face. It was so easy to relax and let him drive, knowing that I had no control over where the boat went or how fast.


How is it that I can so easily trust another human being, but struggle with doing the same with God? Stepfather could have easily had an accident, throwing me and whichever child I had in the raft into the air and painfully hitting the water. Yet I could lay my head back and hold on tightly to the handles and not even worry.


God is so much more trustworthy! He guides my life - if I could simply remember to hold on and relax I could enjoy so much more of what He has planned for me. Instead I spend my time yelling out instructions and trying to direct the raft myself. Inevitable I tip over, and try to blame God, when in fact - I was the one not doing what I was suppose to do.



My prayer today is that I can allow God to be in control, and give Him the trust that He deserves, while doing what I need to do in obedience to Him!

~Lone Butterfly )i(

Hamburger Soup - a Family Staple

Monday, May 14, 2007

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So many people have been posting about cooking and feeding kids and easy meals. This is my standby staple, my favorite for summer, winter, spring, or fall. It's HAMBURGER SOUP.

And my caterpillars have been eating it for YEARS! It's very simple to make, it freezes well, and tastes twice as good the next day.

1 small bottle ketchup
1/3 small bottle mustard
1/4 cup Worcheschershire Sauce
2 cans corn
2 cans english peas
1 can black-eyed peas
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (browned)
Sprinklings of Tony's Seasoning
8-10 cups water

Bring to a boil and adjust to taste. When the caterpillars were small they liked it without the "juice" (just the veggies/meat strained in a bowl). You DO NOT need to add salt, because the ketchup and mustard will add that for you.

Delicious when served with fresh baked bread.

~Lone Butterfly

Cleaning the Desk and my Head...

Saturday, May 12, 2007

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I have been cleaning out my desk and my work area, because FINALLY my office has been scheduled for a furniture upgrade.

My entire department is crammed inside three tiny rooms - and we sit at intern desks, while other departments have an entire office per person (or at the least a large three and a half walled cubicle). This is a VERY exciting time for me.

As I was cleaning/sorting/throwing away, I was struck by the clutter that I had gathered in the last two and a bit years and also what was truly important to me.

In my tiny space I have three pictures of B-10 and CW. One picture of my beloved demon cat, one pair of butterfly wings, six "Bad Cat Calendar" pages, eight jewel butterfly magnets, one hanging sloth (who holds my earbuds), a set of lamb ears (for the months of April and May), and a magnet that has one of my favorite literary quotes on it. It's one of those quotes I read over and over when I remind myself that I'm never going to be like everyone else, and that's okay!


"There is no use trying," said Alice; "one can't believe impossible things."
"I dare say you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."
~Lewis Carol (Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass)

Another of my favorite quotes:


“It is not the critic who counts. It’s not the man who points out where the grown man stumbles, or how the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who actually is in the arena, who strives violently, who errs and comes up short again and again, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who if he wins knows the triumph of high achievement; but who if he fails, fails while daring greatly, so his place will never be with those cold and timid souls who know
neither victory or defeat.”
~Teddy Roosevelt
~
I am not to be judged by those who refuse to take my path - Christ did not call me to sit out this life. He called me to live fully, to embrace the pain and the joy of the world. I will not cringe in the corner, afraid of maybes and possiblities - instead I will stand and risk all, for I am promised a prize greater than anything this world can give me.
~
I am at a crossroads, in turmoil as my wishes, desires, and responsibilities tumble together like clothes in a dryer. I pray that God is clear on where He wants me to be, so that I never look back and regret my choices. For He will equip me to my calling. None of us are sent alone.


~Lone Butterfly

Let's just cut to the chase...

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

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I could tell you lots of reasons why "Shooter" is an incredible movie, but in an effort to actually do real work today - I'll try to narrow it down to the Top Ten Things I Love.

1) Mark Wahlberg is hot - don't even try to deny it - you KNOW you loved Marky-Mark.

2) Kate Mara has good hair. I want her hair. I am coveting the hair. She's also the reason I am moving "We Are Marshalls" to the top of my Netflix list.

3) The script is awesome. The screenplay is based on the book Point of Impact by Stephen Hunter, who I will be researching further. I could seriously love this author. Great movies like this have to come from great books.

4) Three words: "Old Shooting Expert". When you take my advice and see the film, you'll know exactly who I am talking about (assuming you can keep from falling onto the floor, because you are laughing so hard).

5) Kentucky girls who do not sit around and wait to be saved. (Plus, they have good hair).

6) I saw it twice - the last movie I saw more than once involved a school called Hogwarts and a boy named Harry. I don't pay good money to see a movie more than once in the movie theatres.

7) Go to the official website and click on the Gallery page. (Everyone in this movie is fantastic.)

8) Imagine Mark Wahlberg (henceforth known as Bob Lee Swagger) - with him walking slowly - and things exploding in the background. THINGS EXPLODE, PEOPLE! THINGS EXPLODE! Not only do THINGS explode - but this is a SNIPER MOVIE... PEOPLE EXPLODE! (Oh my sweet dear baby Caterpillars, I do so love me some exploding people.)

9) This bears repeating - things blow UP! People get SHOT! This man is a highly trained SNIPER! I love military movies. I love movies with guns. I love movies with a plot. I love patrotic movies. This has all four!

10) Refer back to Reason Number One. Enough said.

~Lone Butterfly (who is currently watching the trailers on the website.)

Two Different Adjectives

Thursday, March 29, 2007

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I can’t decide if today was a success or a frustration.

Our honeymoon is booked (YAH!) for four days and four nights in Asheville, North Carolina (home of the Biltmore Estate). We have decided to stay at a quaint little B&B close enough to downtown to be able to walk – and they offer WIFI and Starbucks Coffee.

Really, if God created a B&B just for me – this would be it. ;)

Fiancé even made sure to arrange dinner reservations for our wedding night and tickets to see the Biltmore, (he is incredible)! We are now discussing what other night we want dinner reservations for (there is a nice Italian restaurant I would like to try) and if we want to go horseback riding and to the spa. (Um, yes and yes?)

I also went to the Bridal Shop to buy my dress.

First – my shop was gone. Literally. Empty storefront. I had to call to figure out where they were located. After driving there, I found that the adults apparently had left the store to be run by the gaggle of high school girls that were currently “in charge”. I use that term very loosely.

Secondly – it took them 15 minutes to find my client card. Then another 10 to find my dress. After deciding that yes they COULD order my dress, the little girl proceeds to take my measurements. And she tells me I’m a size 6.

Now, dear readers, I am a skinny woman. I accept and embrace this fact. I’m built like a rail – flatter than a two by four. I am quite proud to be a size 0 in regular clothes. I eat food regularly and refuse to apologize for excellent genes. (If it makes you feel any better, I’m blinder than a bat.)

In short – I am not a size 6. Even in the crazy world of wedding dress sizes – I’m not a 6. Nor am I going to PAY for a size 6 dress and then PAY to have it altered. So, I ask politely to see the head seamstress.

The cute little girl tells me that she can read the chart and I’m a size 6.

I ask bluntly to see the head seamstress.

The cute little girl tells me I might gain weight before my wedding – since it’s such a stressful time and all, so I should go ahead and order the size 6.

I demand that she go get the head seamstress, because I have given birth three times – and these hips are the size they are going to be for the wedding.

She complies and I have a sweet little Mexican woman, who is the head seamstress of the store, explain to me in broken English that I need the smallest size dress they have (size 4) and even that will have to be taken in.

Even with no dress sale experience whatsoever – I could have told you that.

Thirdly, they also managed to lose all the bridesmaid dress numbers, so I had to search through rack after rack of stuff, before the cute little salesgirl remembered that they had a catalog I could look at.

Fourthly – and this is the best part – the cute little salesgirl? She told me very sweetly how sorry she was that I was having to buy my wedding dress alone. All by myself.

Seriously?

If I was not so in love with my dress (and the bridesmaid dresses) I would have walked out right then.

The honeymoon is planned – the dress is bought – but I was hurt today, by the casual remarks of some child who is still trying to graduate from High School. I spent much time in prayer on the way home, trying to calm down before encountering B10 and CW.

Maybe tomorrow I can look back on today as a success.

~Lone Butterfly

Eragon and Eldest

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

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So, part of me feels like if I'm going to make an effort to read books this year, then I should be writing some sort of book report afterwards. Like back in school where you would answer questions (or perhaps I should find my extra shoeboxes and make a diorama).

The two books I just finished reading are Eragon and Eldest, the first two books in the Inheritance Trilogy by Christopher Paolini. The story of the author is almost as fascinating as the books. He was a homeschooled kid who graduated from High School at 15 and began writing. He's currently only 23 years old, and finishing up the final book in the trilogy. (We also share the same birthday - WOOHOO for November babies!)

I enjoyed Eragon and Eldest because they embraced the fantasy world I enjoy, especially dragons. I found it interesting on another level, because you can almost see the religious issues that Christopher is dealing with in real life shown in the religious issues that Eragon (and the dwarves and the elves) deal with.

On a scale of one to ten, I give these two books an eight - and I would feel comfortable reading them aloud to B10. It has no "bad" language, very little "sex" (it's mostly immature feelings of love and how they are communicated between the characters), but does involve much death. This doesn't bother me, as the death and bloodshed are not graphic, and the characters deal with it (usually painfully). It's not glossed over. I can appreciate the author asking the reader to deal with the emotional turmoil along with Eragon and his cousin. Overall a great read.

Links to the official websites of the books: Eragon and Eldest

A Recap!

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Like many trips, time seems to disappear once you return to the “Real World”. B10 and I got home Monday afternoon (the 19th) and in a crazy fit of organization managed to unpack all our bags and begin laundry within the first hour (ug – I’m disgustingly Type-A).

We did stop and pan for rocks at Gold City, which was one of B10’s favorite parts of the whole trip. I loved, though, how he would ask me: “Mum, what’s YOUR favorite part of the whole trip? Mine is getting to be with you.”

Did I mention it breaks my heart to leave him at home and go to work?

CW has also announced (repeatedly) that he is quitting Pre-K to be homeschooled. (Great, I have a drop-out already.) We’ve explained that Brother (B10) went to Pre-K (with the same teachers, even) AND Public Kindergarten before being homeschooled, but CW does not seem to understand why we would force him to do the same. I’m not sure how we are going to handle Kindergarten next year. In a perfect world he would be assigned to the same Kindergarten Teacher B10 had and it would be a phenomenal year. Realistically, CW may only spend the first half of the year in Kindergarten and start 1st Grade on January 1st (which is about when B10 would begin 3rd Grade).

I judge their progress grade-wise by their writing ability, their reading ability, and where they are in Math (the only subject I use an outside curriculum for). B10 is pretty much on “year-round school”, so it’s not that he’s moving so much faster, it’s more he’s not getting as much vacation. (Of course, he sees it as getting to only be in school half a day!)

Overall, in retrospect, this was a great trip. B10 learned a lot – and ENJOYED it! Isn’t that what homeschooling is about? Letting kids LOVE what they are learning?

And off I go to plan our next outing (Chattanooga, TN from April 19th to April 21st).

On the Fourth Day - I made a Discovery...

Monday, March 19, 2007

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Well, we ended up not going to bed until 11 pm last night – and I got the giggles with B10, who kept cracking knock-knock jokes even after the lights were out. We didn’t read any of our book, but did watch the first Harry Potter together while we ate popcorn – which was a bonding experience in itself.

This morning worked out okay, I had brought along powdered doughnuts, but B10 asked for a bagel and apple juice before early church. We made it to church 5 minutes early for the 8:30 am service, however the Pastor and rest of the congregation didn’t mosey in until 8:45 am. B10 managed to remain quiet for most of the service and I didn’t subject him to the local Sunday School. I guess I had expected a much more visitor friendly atmosphere, since it was a church that claimed to be “a host to the nations” and was located on Parkway.

We walked over to River Road to Christus Gardens, taking a tour with a church group from West Tennessee. It was a very moving experience, I especially loved watching B10’s face as he saw each diorama light up and as he heard the voices speak the Word of God. I mean, it was still a “cheesy – 1960’s attraction”, but it spoke to the heart of the Gospel message.

B10 wanted tacos for lunch, so we stopped at “No Way, Jose” – which included a 10 minute argument over why I was pronouncing the word “Jose” wrong, before my beloved son finally accepted that it’s pronounced differently in Spanish.

After lunch B10 did one math worksheet and we headed out to Cades Cove in the Great Smokey Mountains. It’s a 20 mile drive out there, through the National Forest, which has a speed limit of 35 mph, so it wasn’t a quick drive. We passed the time by singing songs, I love teaching him new ones and I REALLY love hearing him sing. He’s definitely a musical kid, as is CW.



Cades Cove was awesome, I hope we can come back when it’s warmer so we can spend more time driving through and do some of the hikes. I thought it was cool to see the three small churches on the driving loop and B10 was able to see a small group of deer. He ended up taking almost 75 pictures on the trip.

We drove back to the hotel and B10 finished his math book (YAY!). He’s ready to take his big Book Unit Test when we get home on Monday (or with my Mum on Wednesday). I called and talked to Fiancé on the phone for a few minutes, before we headed out to do our last little bit of shopping (to be detailed in another blog entry), eat dinner at Wendy’s, and go Miniature golfing once more to finish out our stay in Gatlinburg.

B10 came back to play with his toys a bit more in the room while we watched Dirty Jobs. He’s all excited about being able to take a shower (for as long as he wants) and has done a great job of picking up his stuff and helping me pack it up.

I was going to load the car tonight, but I think as long as I have everything together, I will just do it tomorrow morning. There’s no rush! I plan on sleeping until we are ready to wake up, then eating breakfast and checking out. The drive back should be pretty straightforward. I know we may stop a few times in the Great Smokies again, especially if it’s warm so B10 can wade in the stream a bit more. I also may stop at one of the Gem Mining places so B10 can pan for “gold”.

I miss CW and Fiancé – and as glad as I am to have spent this time with B10 – I can’t wait to be a true homeschooling family, where I’m not having to work every day and both the boys are at home with me.

This has been an awesome five days. I’ve learned so much about B10, like the fact that his favorite color has changed. He said it use to be green, but he’s leaning towards blue now. I learned that he’s got a wicked sense of humor and that he listens to everything on the radio. (Which means I have to explain a lot more than I use too!) He’s like a sponge, absorbing everything both good and bad. He’s very sensitive, to me and to strangers. His love language is touch, he’s always wanting to snuggle and hug – and when I take the time to be with him, I can see an almost immediate improvement in his happiness level, because I’m right there to wrap my arms around him.

He’s growing up, becoming so trustworthy and he’s just an AMAZING kid. I tell him all the time that he’s my favorite B10 in the whole world – and he really, truly is!

~Lone Butterfly

And on the Third Day...

Saturday, March 17, 2007

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Last night we didn’t go to bed until after 11 pm, again. B10 listened as I read almost 30 pages of Bridge to Terabithia and I introduced him to the Game Show Network (ah, the old game shows are just one of my major weaknesses…).

We managed to be up this morning by 8:15 am, but I did let B10 stay in bed while I went and got his breakfast (bagels and apple juice) and we watched a fishing show as we ate. B10 is intrigued by the idea of catch and release fishing. I don’t fish (I’m allergic to all seafood) and he thinks this would be a perfect compromise. (I don’t have the heart to tell him that the idea of bait and fiddling with a fish’s mouth doesn’t seem appealing to me at all!)

Our first stop was the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum, one of my favorite repeat attractions. The Gatlinburg Museum was actually destroyed in a fire in 1992, and completely rebuilt and reopened in 1995. B10 was enthralled by the oddities, but the funniest part was the live sparrow that had somehow gotten into the Museum and was fluttering about. It almost gave me a heart attack when I came around the corner to a small room and it swooped down on B10 and I! B10 loved the optical illusions, he’s always a fan of those no matter where he finds them

Our next attraction was the Ripley’s 4-D Moving Theatre. I have to confess I had a smile on my face the whole time and couldn’t stop giggling at how fun the ride was. The only bad part? We were the first guests there that morning and they only played ONE song as we waited – so B10 and I heard “Miss Independent” by Kelly Clarkston seven times in a row. The nice part of the ride was that there were actually TWO movies, and we got to ride both (each is approximately 10-15 minutes long). B10 was laughing right along with me.

We left the theatre and strolled down Parkway to World of Illusions. B10 had found a brochure and asked if we could go, to the point of repeating that request every time we walked by. It wasn’t the best exhibit, I think it could use a lot of improvement – because it was small and not kept up well. But I did like the educational content that showed magicians and illusions throughout history and all over the world. The best part was the boxes on walls that explained how many common illusions are preformed by street magicians.



Lunch was Breakfast at the Pancake Pantry – a Gatlinburg staple. B10 had an M&M Pancake with bacon and I had a plate of Georgia Peach Crepes and a cup of coffee. Poor B10 had asked for a glass of Chocolate Milk, which the waitress forgot, and I didn’t realize he thought that the small pitcher of peanut butter syrup was his Chocolate Milk! The child had tipped it back into his mouth and was sputtering up a storm! Our waitress rushed his Milk to him, but by that time he had already downed most of his glass of water.

After lunch we returned to the hotel so B10 could take a math test. While he worked on that, I took a short rest and uploaded our pictures from the day so far. As soon as he finished, we put on our shoes and headed to the Trolley Station. The fare for the Red Trolley is 50 cents and we simply rode all the entire route without getting off. We got to see the backside of Gatlinburg, the snow on the top of the mountains, and see lots of puppy dogs wandering around.


After the Trolley returned to our hotel, B10 took a rest and worked on the rest of his math book while we ate dinner. He finished quickly and we walked to a local course to play Mini-Golf. It was B10’s first time ever, and he did such a good job learning how to hold the golf club and swing it. Luckily there wasn’t anyone playing behind us, so he was able to keep swinging – even though there was a five stroke limit on each hole.

We wandered back and he took a shower while I called Fiancé. We talked for a while (I miss him SO much!) and then I took a bath while B10 watched Mythbusters on The Discovery Channel. When I got out of the tub, B10 had spread out his new Sea Animals in a mini-zoo, and I was able to tour his exhibits as he told me about each animal (my favorite is the angler fish).

B10 is now snacking on Pringles, as we watch Card Sharks on GSN. (I really do want my cable company back home to have GSN!) We’ll read some more Bridge to Terabithia tonight, but we have to get to bed early so we can get up and go to church by 8:30 am.

Our only snag today came when B10 and I got into a battle of wills. We both had to take some time to pray – and I had to ask forgiveness from B10 for my attitude. It’s always hard for me as a parent to admit that I was wrong is saying or doing something, but I can’t expect B10 or CW to admit wrongdoing if I’m not modeling it for them.

I’m so glad I’ve had this time with B10, just he and I! This is the time to lay the foundation for communication when he's a teenager.

~Lone Butterfly

Day Two Dawns...

Friday, March 16, 2007

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B10 awoke early, which surprised me since we didn’t end up going to bed until after 11 pm. We stayed up late playing WAR with his new deck of cards and watching Man vs. Wild on The Discovery Channel.

He let me sleep until 8 am, if you call not turning Animal Planet up TOO loudly letting someone sleep. Breakfast was already being served by the time we got dressed and made our way to the dining room. B10 could barely eat, his excitement was boiling over. Then – horrible mother that I am – I made him come back to the room and watch more Animal Planet while I called my Mum to ask about CW.

FINALLY (as B10 said) we were on our way to Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. I bought a combo pass, which gave us a ticket to the Aquarium, and also tickets to the Ripley’s 4-D Theatre and the Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum. It saved money, and we can use the tickets up to a year from now (though, we’ll be walking down there tomorrow, when it’s not raining).


The Aquarium was as phenomenal as I remember. It’s small, but extremely well-maintained, and packed to the gills with educational tools. It’s so much more than the tanks with animals inside. There are two huge touch pools (Horseshoe Crabs and Stingrays) and they do diving shows throughout the day. Not only that, but in their Discovery Area they have all sorts of hands on activities to play with that are top-notch. Plus, B10 and I were able to attend a free class about Crazy Critters (taught by a trained educational instructor in true “Ripley’s Believe It or Not” style).

They also have brought in an exhibit about Mars for 2007. Entitled: Mars: The Search for Life! it helps the visitor “follow the water” and discover how NASA is searching for life on Mars, because of the massive amount of water frozen just below the surface. There were miniature versions of the Spirit and the Opportunity (the Mars Rovers) that B10 was able to control, an actual meteorite to touch, videos about the rock from Mars found in the Artic and how Martians are portrayed in Science Fiction, and a place where you could discover your age and weight if you lived on Mars.

We ate lunch there, and it was typically expensive, but atypically delicious. I’ve never put much hope in Museum or Aquarium (or Zoo) restaurants, because lets face it – they aren’t there to bring you culinary delights. This meal was surprisingly good, B10 had an 8 inch pepperoni pizza and it was a brand name frozen pizza. I had fries that were cooked perfectly and well seasoned. We both got bottled waters (he didn’t need any caffeine today), which meant I spent about $14 for lunch. Not bad for two people, in my opinion.

This was the gift shop where my checking account became depleted, but I knew that going in to this school field trip. B10 wanted a baby stuffed stingray and while I knew CW would also want a stuffed toy – he’s more of the baby white seal kind of kid. I ended up buying four books (three on Mars/Space and one on the Ocean) and a new Food Chain game to play. After that B10 said he was ready to go back to the hotel and work on his Math homework. (He’s doing two pages today.)

We took a rest in the hotel room, before spending the evening taking a stroll through Gatlinburg. We found a little Methodist Church that we will go to on Sunday morning and B10 got to see Taffy being made (another of my favorite memories). I picked up Quizzno’s for dinner for him (he loves the toasted subs) and we headed back to the room to spend some time on the computer and reading his new books.

Tonight’s plan is to watch Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel and play our new game “CHOMP!” that we got at the Aquarium.

I miss my youngest Caterpillar and my Fiancé, and I can’t wait until we can take family trips that include the whole family…

God bless Homeschooling!

Addendum to Day One…

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When we were at the Great Smokies Visitor’s Center my cell phone wouldn’t work and I had lost my sister on the drive in. B10 starts jumping up and down and pointing and saying “LOOK! IT’LL GET SIGNAL! CALL BACK!”

You know the world is changing when you realize your seven year old just got excited at seeing a Payphone, because he’s never seen on before...

Our Trip Begins...

Thursday, March 15, 2007

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The plan was to get up early Thursday morning and leave before rush hour traffic (which is always a good plan when you live in a city ranked in the top 3 worst rush hours in the entire US). Unfortunately, CW woke up around 2am and insinuated himself into my bed. At 6am I was still dead tired, and the last thing I wanted to do was get on the road tired.

B10 ended up waking up around 7:10 and was distraught that he could “see the blue coming in the sky” and we had not yet left the house. He was dressed by 7:15 and “helping” me put my pillow and blanket in the car (Fiancé had loaded the car for me Wednesday night). In departing, I gave CW his special bag of goodies (B10’s was sitting on his seat in the car) and we were on the road by 7:40 am.

It’s about a four-hour drive from Atlanta to Gatlinburg, TN. I had decided as soon as I picked the trip, though, that the goal was to spend time with B10, even if that meant taking my time and being more laid back. (This is a huge deal for me, as I am a self-acknowledged Type-A Control freak with OCD tendencies.) After much prayer, I realized that if I had our hotel room reserved in Gatlinburg, I didn’t need to stress about getting there.

Off we went and I enjoyed the first hour of simply having a conversation with B10 with no interruptions. We stopped at 8:30 to pick up breakfast at a gas station and check our directions, which were correct. (And no judging my mothering skills about breakfast – he got Fruit Loops and Chocolate Milk, not a candy bar and soda!)

Then we continued on to the town of Tallulah Falls, where Tallulah Gorge is. We stopped at the Tallulah Gorge Overlook, where B10 was given some advice by a fellow traveler on picture taking skills (today’s lesson – determining the subject of your photo and focusing on your subject). I was able to take a picture of B10 next to the same point where I have pictures from when I was a kid with my Daddy AND we have pictures of my Daddy as a kid with my Granddaddy. For me, this was the coolest part of the whole day, seeing B10 experience a moment from my own childhood.

We drove into Tallulah Falls to the Jane Hurt Yarn Interpretive Center and hiked one-half of the North Rim Trail, which is labeled as Easy/Moderate. B10 really wanted to walk over the Suspension Bridge, and I was in agreement – not even hesitating when I saw the following sign:




Note to fellow travelers: When encountering a sign such as the one above, do not under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES fail to read the sign carefully. If you do read the sign carefully, try and remember that the nice Park Rangers wouldn’t put up a sign if it wasn’t a valid sign.

I am in relatively good shape, but I was bone-dead after walking down those steps and back up again. B10 had thought ahead enough to ask me to bring a bottled water, and I’ve never been happier to have carried a load on my back than I was today.

Back at the Interpretive Center, we did a self-guided tour which explained how the Hydropower Plant worked. It was pretty cool, we learned about how they regulate how much water is released into the Gorge – on certain weekends they increase it for “Better Viewing of Waterfalls” and twice a year they increase it almost four times the normal amount for phenomenal kayaking rapids. B10’s word of the day was “hydro” and we talked about “hydropower” and “hydroelectricity”. The Tallulah Falls Hydropower Plant can produce enough electricity to power much of the Southeastern area.

I’m not ashamed to admit that we visited the gift shop, and I left with an adorable stuffed beaver.


From there it was a short drive across the State Line to North Carolina, where we stopped at the Visitor’s Center and were told of the small town of Dillsboro. Dillsboro, NC not ONLY has a Chocolate Factory but ALSO boasts the Dillsboro Smokehouse – which was rated 3rd in the entire U.S. by the National Geographic Traveler 2006 Edition (“10 Best of Everything” Category). It was delish – some of the best Barbeque I have ever tasted, even B10 cleaned his plate. The Chocolate Factory was quaint: I found Harry Potter goodies for my Person back at work (She’s my version of Sandra Oh), B10 got a bag of Gummi critters (various and assorted animals), but my biggest find was sugar-free Gummi Bears for CW.

CW had a Dentist come into his Pre-K classroom and scared the living sugar out of those children. He had my Mum print SIGNS out and post them around the house reminding him to brush his teeth. (And my Mum, being a wonderful grandmother, did as she was bidden.)

By this point, it’s 2:15 pm, B10 and I have been on the road for almost 7 hours, and having a wonderful time. B10 decided to use the time in the car to work on his photography. My favorite is the “Husky on a Gorilla’s Head” still life.


I mean, you can’t buy this kind of Modernistic Work in a store.

Our next stop was Cherokee, NC, which is an actual reservation. There was a group of dancers out in front of one of the stores performing, and B10 had his face painted. The Indian (yes, it’s okay to call them that, it’s what they call themselves) said the design was a “Tee-Pee” design. The stores mainly sell goods that are handcrafted by the Cherokee population, so it was pretty educational just walking around. B10 ended up with a spear (which we got in a matching color for CW) and I purchased a leather holder for my ponytail. They also sold very nice patches, we got two (a Great Smokey Mountains patch and a Cherokee Indian Reservation patch).

Finally, at 3:30 pm, we crossed into the Great Smokey Mountains National Park, beginning with the obligatory stop at the Visitor’s Center (that in itself may have been B10’s new “word of the day!”). Our drive through the mountains was beautiful. At one point I stopped and let B10 take off his shoes and go wading in the cool water. He loved it! I enjoyed the drive and being able to stop every few miles. I love that area of the country, with the mountains and the sheer drops and the rock outcrops that jut out next to the road.

We arrived at our hotel at 4:45 pm, check in was a breeze – the only downside to the whole day was the fact that Gatlinburg is repaving their roads and the roads are only two lanes going through town. The people at the hotel were friendly and wonderful, they helped us figure out what we would have for dinner.

Our educational moments spread into dinner – as B10 experienced for the first time ever The Hard Rock Café (yes, he got a shirt). At the end of the meal, after we had gone over our experiences from the day, I asked him what his favorite moment had been.

His answer: The really cool guy with the Mohawk and skirt (kilt) that sat us at The Hard Rock. And he DID get his picture with the very obliging host.

My friends, this is why I love homeschooling.

Back at the hotel room (by 6:30 pm) B10 finished three pages of math homework and is now watching Animal Planet, before he takes a shower and we both head to bed.

With maybe a chapter out of Bridge to Terabitha before we go to sleep.

Tomorrow’s plan: the Aquarium of the Smokies!