The Empty Room

Our home has four bedrooms.  My husband and I share one.  Our oldest has one.  Our youngest has one. They say they want to share a room.  I shared a room for awhile with my sister. I refuse to let them share a room.

We have an empty room.

When we moved into our house it was just the two of us. We had only been married about two years. We had dreams of filling our home with children.  Let’s have four, we said.  Our neighbors would say, “That is a big house for just the two of you.”  We would just nod and smile. Yes it was, but it wouldn’t be for long we had hoped.

We have an empty room.

Things didn’t go as planned. We don’t have four children.  We have two. Well we have three. One lives in heaven. Two live with us. We still have an empty room. Occasionally it is filled with guests when they prefer to not stay in the basement.

We have an empty room.

The room has been used for storage. It has been used as “Santa’s Workshop.”  We attempted to turn it into a craft room.  We tried to turn it into a reading room.  But it never stuck. It was as if it knew it was supposed to be more. It was supposed to be a bedroom.  Yet it stood as a bedroom without a child.

We won’t have an empty room anymore.

Today we will work on filling the empty room with a bed, a dresser and a desk.  The closet will be cleared of the odds and ends that have piled up in there.  The room will be ready for a child.  The room will fulfill its purpose. The room will house an international student who will stay with us for the next six weeks and return again in the fall.

We won’t have an empty room anymore.

Poetry, my son, a cow and the moon

I was supposed to teach my son about poetry.  The lesson plan had the poems to use.  I glanced at them and thought they looked boring. If you are new to my blog, you may have missed an earlier blog post of mine. Basically, I don’t like poetry, much. I’m getting better at that though.

Instead of using the “boring” poems from the lesson, I decided to use my real-life friend, Maria’s poems. She has been writing some great ones this past month. I thought if I used poems by someone my son knows, he (and I) might enjoy the poetry even more.

Instead, my son surprised me. I didn’t teach from the poems in the lessons. I didn’t teach from Maria’s poems; although, we will glance at her poems later today.  My son, instead, taught me about poems.

“Mommy, Can you listen to my story?” he asked me as I was cleaning up the kitchen between lessons.

“Sure. Tell me your story,” I said while I wiped down the counter.

And that is when he went off with a poem. Creating one line at a time.  A cow. A moon. He giggled while sharing his words with me.

“Kory,I really like that, but is it a story or a poem?”

“A poem, mommy.”

Here is Kory’s poem – as he told it to me a second time.  It is a bit different from the first original piece that he shared with me, but it is close to the original.  It’s all Kory.

The cow jumped over the moon (that is the title, mommy)

I saw a cow jump over the moon.

I hope it’s not a hound.

I hope I’m not a clown.

I wonder what I would feel like if I was a cow.

I watched the cow jump over the moon.

I bring out my bucket and I go under the moon.

And I think the cow will squirt milk into this bucket.

But instead he put rocks in my bucket.

I looked at the cow and he said moo.

I wonder how he can jump that high.

I always wonder that whenever daddy throws me in the water.

And I wonder what I would be like if I was a cow.

What would you feel like?

Here is Kory’s drawing to go with his poem. I’ll also be sharing your comments with my son.

I’m posting every Tuesday as part of the weekly Slice of Life over at Two Writing Teachers


I adore magazines, especially free ones.

Right now here is what is in my stack of magazines to read:

Cooking Light is one of the few magazines I actually buy through a subscription. If a recipe’s ingredients list isn’t too long, doesn’t have completely unfamiliar ingredients, and doesn’t call for dry yeast, I might be tempted to try it.

Woman’s Day – I got this subscription free. Thank you Coke Reward Points. Yes, I drink too much Dt. Coke. I hear that from my dentist all the time. 🙂

Working Mother – I subscribe to this one as well. And yes. I know. I don’t completely understand why I buy this. I have a hard time figuring out what kind of mother I am. Some days I’m a homeschooling mama. Some days I’m a stay-at-home one. Other days I’m a work-at-home mom. Most days, I’m just tired, and this magazine helps me feel not so far out of the loop of how different moms make life work.

Glamour – When I subscribe to this one, I mark the two year option. I savor the Glamour magazines. Usually I read them over a weekend while relaxing and curled up on the couch. Right now I have two of them in my magazine pile.

The Family Handyman issue I picked up for free at the library.  I started reading this one already. My husband was less then thrilled when he came home and I showed him the pages I tore out with wonderful ideas. We could store things over the unused space over doors. What if we added pegboard to our wire shelves like this guy did?

An issue of This Old House from library’s free pile waits to be read.  It tells me how to reinvent rooms with color and how to give your backyard a French cafe feel.  This should be fun to read. And again, Keith will probably dread the torn out pages with painting ideas.

Healthy Cooking from Taste of Home. This one is from the library’s free pile. I will learn 187 ways to live well. I’m sure I’ll be disappointed at not learning anything new.

Us Weekly is again free from the library’s little basket of freebies.  I’ll be able to learn how Kim Kardashian lost 10 pounds in 10 days and how Michelle still honors Heath’s memory.  I know. Not the most advanced reading for me, but some days all I want is mindless reading.

Mother Earth News magazine sits in my van waiting to be read.  I got this one free at the library too. I had to laugh. My mom reads Mother Earth News.  Maybe I’ll pick up some tips on being friendlier to the environment.

So yes. I know my list won’t exactly please many of my book-loving friends. Um. Yeah. You know who you are. 😉 Don’t worry, I’m working on reading a few books too.

It is reading. It is time for me. I can read them in snippets. I can read them in waiting rooms. I can read them at gymnastics. I can read them while traveling. Then I will pass them to a friend, who adores magazines too. Hopefully the stack I pass off will include the Glamour ones shortly. If not, she will soon send me a text. “Where are the Glamour magazines? I need an escape with Glamour,” she will say.

Oh and I will be at the library again on Friday. Maybe they will have some new magazine treasures in the freebie pile.

The places they will go

“Mommy, you go to so many cool places. More than I do.”

“No, Kory, I didn’t travel to most of  those places until I was much older. You have been many more places than I had at your age. You will get there.”

I wonder why he says this to me during our history lesson. Then I realize. While we learn about Vikings and Normandy, I tell him, Kory, I have been to this part of France as I point to the map.

Earlier in the school year, we studied stained glass windows and cathedrals in an arts class.  The lesson featured pictures of the Notre Dame cathedral. I stood under that stain glass window, I told him.  How many other lessons have I added, “and I’ve been here.”

Oh the places I have been. Paris. Northern France. Mexico. 34 states. I am missing the most random  ones. North Dakota. Michigan. I’m begging my husband to cross over an exit into the state next time we travel to Minnesota since I am sure we are looking into Michigan from the interstate. Rhode Island. New Mexico. And my list of where I have traveled is no where near my brother’s exhaustive and very cool list!

Oh, the Places You Will Go. My  favorite Dr. Seuss book – in close tie with Horton, Hears A Who! I think it will become our family gift to those who graduate from high school.

He will get there. He will travel to different states. He will travel to different countries.

Already he has been to 29 states and DC. Much more than I had visited by the age of almost eight.

And this year, I’m going to get him and his brother their very first passports. It is time I renew the one I used to get to Paris. The one with a photograph of a 16-year old me. Keith already has a password from travels to Canada for work a few years ago.

Oh the places we will go.  Oh the places they will go.

Easter – Spring Break Recap Part2

Easter egg hunts and ham. We had the traditional Easter fare in an untraditional way – on the beach and at a resort.

Easter morning started with an egg hunt for the boys in the resort lobby. When we called the front desk the day before, we were told the hunt was at 10 am. When we made it to the lobby a bit before 10, we were told the Easter bunny wasn’t showing up until 10:30, so we wandered outside near the lobby area. Not all families did. Some of them went back to their rooms.

When the hunt started, it was over in a flash. It is amazing how quickly kids can find the “hidden” eggs. As we were admiring the boys’ stash of plastic eggs full of sugary things, in walked a family with two kids. They were only a few minutes late, but that was all it took for the Easter egg hunt – a few moments. I later found out they had arrived at the earlier time to only go back to their room until the hunt started.

The two kids looked devastated. They had missed the hunt. I leaned over to the boys and whispered, “I want each of you to give an egg to those little kids who missed the hunt.”

Kory immediately gave one of his biggest eggs to the little girl around his age. Cade wasn’t as willing to part with an egg, but he eventually gave one to the little boy.

I heard the kids and the father say, thank you. I heard the father say to his kids, see what happens when you don’t get somewhere on time. We were both teaching our kids life lessons. He was teaching them to be responsible with time. I was teaching mine to give out of our excess.

But the best part. Later that day we ran into the family again. You should have seen the little girl look at Kory. I know that look. I have given that look as a little girl admiring boys on vacation. Oh the silly memories that flashed before my eyes when I saw her eyes. And no, I’m not going to share them here. 😉

She said hi to him. She told her mom, that is the boy who game me the egg. Kory bashfully said hi back. Oh, he had become some little girl’s vacation memory, which clearly embarassed him when I said something to him about it later.

The rest of our Easter was full of beach time where we saw a church having a water baptism. It included a full ham meal courtesy of take out from Bob Evans – along with a great aluminum container we used the rest of the week when we grilled. The day also included an outdoor Easter egg hunt my parents had for the boys.

It was an untraditional Easter at the beach – the perfect way to celebrate the day!

Dog Poop and Salt & Pepper Shakers – Spring Break Recap – Part 1

We had our spring break this past week!  Our destination was Ormond Beach, Florida near Daytona Beach.  We were so looking forward to a break from our reality! What made it even better was knowing we would meet my parents in Florida as they would be joining us for our vacation!

Our vacation didn’t quite start the way we expected it to when we started our drive.

It started with traffic. Now we love to travel and have a great system in place to travel. Our boys are pros!

This time, however, the expected 15 hour drive became even longer when we met a big traffic construction project along I-95. Yikes!  We sat in traffic at 11 pm at night while three lanes of traffic merged to one. Then to have that one lane go back to three to immediately merge back into one.  We were tired. We were just wanting to get to our hotel.  Keith even called the transportation offices of that state to complain – while we were sitting in traffic. How nice they were to call him back later this week to follow up with his complaint. 🙂  Who plans these road construction projects anyway?  Have they ever driven on the roads they are detouring, blocking and merging together?

Anyway, we finally made it to our hotel for the night.  Keith checked in, and we moved our sleeping boys into their beds.  By 1 am, we were settled and getting ready for bed. That’s when we saw it. We closed our bedroom door in the suite. And there it was quietly behind the bedroom door that had been open.

A pile of dog poop!  Yes. Dog poop! And we don’t even have a dog!  Ick. Ish. Ick.  How I wish I would have taken a picture of this gross pile from someone’s pet.  Yes. It was a pet friendly hotel. And obviously, the friendly part did not include making sure the dog poop behind the door was cleaned up.  We were too tired to complain that night. Too tired to have housekeeping clean it up right then. Too tired to move to another room.

Instead we waited until the morning. Complained. Received a small discount. Ate our measly breakfast. Checked out. And then I did what any “normal” person using social media would do. I tweeted about it and made sure to include the user name of the hotel chain. 🙂 Promptly customer service tweeted a request for details with the promise of a formal complaint. Got to love twitter.

We continued on our way along 95, and I saw trees, and trees, and trees. But that I’m saving for another post.  Instead, just know that we finally made our resort destination. And instead of being greeted by dog poop, we found these adorable little salt and pepper shakers in our kitchenette.  They were so cute that I had to take a picture.

Our traveling that started with traffic and dog poop ended with these adorable reminders of the comfort and luxury we would have for the rest of our week.

And check out this beautiful view from our balcony.  Worth the traffic and dog poop!

Spring break

Today my slice is short and simple.

We are on spring break this week, and we are spending time together as a family. Less interruptions. Less facebook and twitter. Less scheduled activities. No formal school work, just learning through life this week. A week of fun and family.

And I will fill you in on it next week because this week, my family is waiting for me to finish this so we can have fun together.

Yeah! I made it through a month of posting through the March Slice of Life Challenge.  I’m now planning on posting every Tuesday as part of the weekly Slice of Life over at Two Writing Teachers.

She had to go for the ketchup

She had to go after the ketchup, didn’t she.

I’ve joined a bunch of ladies from our church in reading the book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. The whole premise of the book is that as there is less of me and my stuff, there is more room for God and simplicity and generosity.

I have to admit. When I heard the first chapter was about restricting ourselves to seven foods for a month, I cringed. Keith and I have really purged our diet over the past few months simply because we wanted to eat healthier and cut out excess.

Restricting us to seven foods for a month, when we have already restricted our diets, just didn’t seem to have a place. Instead as I started the book, I asked God to make it clear to me how I could apply this book and its principles to my life.

And it hit me on page 22. “And tonight my kids here with me in the land of plenty threw away a pound of food because they didn’t have ketchup.”

She had to go for the ketchup, Ugh! I use ketchup on eggs. I use ketchup on hamburgers, hot dogs, ham, sometimes chicken, steak. If ketchup can be added, i will try it. I even remember my cousin eating Cheetos dipped in ketchup. Simply I like ketchup.

Before we had kids, Keith and I would have “discussions” about ketchup and our future kids. He reminded me he didn’t want them to use ketchup. I nicely reminded him that I would be the one staying home with the kids. Yes, we have “discussions” about the most trivial things.

I’ve won the ketchup battle for the most part. The boys use ketchup on eggs, hamburgers, and hot dogs. I don’t let them use it on chicken or steak, and I have cut back on using it on those two items too. They also use ketchup on their “green french fries”, I mean green beans. As they dip their green french fries and laugh, I stand in the kitchen and ask, “Do you need more ketchup?”

So for the next month, we will be ketchup-free. There will be no green french fries. No ketchup on eggs.

After reading the chapter, I also looked at my son’s uneatten bread crusts differently. He is like me in that neither one of us like to eat the crust of bread. Instead, we eat what we want and throw out the crust. Sandwiches. Toast and peanut butter. Doesn’t matter what is on the bread, the crust doesn’t get eatten. I will tell you, my aversion to bread crusts probably goes back to my silly great-uncle who would repeatedly joke with us that eating bread crust would put hair on your chest.

My son, however, has no excuse. He has seen me eat like this. He has seen me throw out extras. He has seen me enable him to do as I do. I no longer have an excuse.

God, speak to me in these ketchup-free days as we eat the crust on our bread!

A few other things in the chapter hit me too. I am hoping to blog more about those in upcoming posts.

My Inbox

I can always tell how busy I am based on my email inbox.  Over Christmas break, I had my inbox down to 30 emails. Yippee I thought.  Now, let’s not forget that this doesn’t include my folders I have set up. Just my inbox. If you look at the folder for my sister’s emails, I have 734 unread messages from her.  But wait, I read most of her emails on my phone and respond that way.

As I started my day, I opened my email. And how many messages – both read and unread – do I have in my inbox alone?  Want to take a guess?


Yes, 646!

How does one get 646 emails in an inbox  – with folders not included in the count?

The daily weather email. The daily devotional email.  The monthly update on local property tax issues – I keep meaning to send her an email to remove me from the list.  The local bowling alley updates with new leagues forming.  The daily woot email.  The hulu update.  The Smithsonian store update – how did I get on that mailing list again?  There is the swimoutlet update with what is on sale. The triathlon race updates.  The freelance writing site updates. Oh the list goes on of email updates I thought were important. Now they just clutter up my inbox with barely a second glance.

Clearly, I need to set aside time to go through my email, delete and unsubscribe.

Because 638 – I deleted a few this morning – is clearly too many emails sitting in my inbox!

The Waiting Room

Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time in waiting rooms as my son has his ongoing vision therapy sessions.  I’ve always liked to people watch, but somehow this hour of sitting causes me to watch even more.  Today this is what I saw while I waited and watched news coverage on the sole television in the room.

The lady who fell asleep in the chair with all the noise.  How does she do that?  I would be afraid I would drool, talk in my sleep, or kick my leg. She reminds me of the man who slept in a chair  last week in this waiting room. How do they do it?

The mother and her two daughters.  The mom yells for the one daughter to shut up. The other daughter yells at her to turn off her iPod.  The older daughter and the mom seem to have more of a connection than the other daughter.  I wonder what their life is like at home. She barely makes eye contact with the assistant when her name is called and she mutters a hello.

The lady who was called Mrs. so-and-so.  She answers slowly and stands up.  The assistant asks, “Did I pronounce that correctly?”  “Yes,” she slowly answers.  “But it is Miss not Mrs,” she continues.   I wonder does she cringe when that happens. I thought I heard her sigh or maybe that was me sighing for her.  Does she get that alot?  Was she ever close to being a Mrs? Does she want to be a Mrs.?  Has she ever been in love?

Simply people in the waiting room. Yet they are so much more than that.

Yeah! I made it through a month of posting through the March Slice of Life Challenge.  I’m now planning on posting every Tuesday as part of the weekly Slice of Life over at Two Writing Teachers.