Friday, June 27, 2008
Three things Bean would like to learn about this year:
"Dogs - d-o-g-s" she says
"Caterpillars - c-a-t-e-r-p-e-l-r-s"
"I got one more, right? Dolphins. D-o-l-f-e-n-ss. Put a double "s." Can we put a double "s" because I want to learn about lots of dolphins."
I love it. In that same spirit. I would like some Little Debbiessssss. ;) ;)
Monday, June 23, 2008
Saturday, June 21, 2008
So, as I was saying - my little Bean is a reader!! This is such a big huge stinkin' deal - and not because we've been "working on it." Truth be told, she probably would have been reading months ago if we had been "working on it" but I was just letting her write away, spelling things in that beautiful phonetic childhood way, filling up pages that I LOVE LOVE LOVE - or as she would say "LuV LuV LuV" because, not only is she all about phonetics, but she is also quite fond of the lower case, or baby "u". . . and "e."
ANYWAY - I got her a new table and a set of chairs from Target, because she really had outgrown her other one. By the time I had the table and one chair put together, it was 7 o'clock at night and it was time to get Mighty Mouse and the Sweet Pea ready for bed and Bean is begging to "do homeschool." I apologize a hundred times over and tell her it will have to wait til tomorrow. She begs to please just do a couple of pages in her workbook. (I bought a couple of those Kindy and 1st grade workbooks at Target months and months and months ago just for this type of occasion.)
So she begins her workbook thing as I'm beginning the ready for bed thing - soon she comes running into the room "MAMA!!!! I CAN READ!!!!"
She'd grabbed the first grade workbook and there was a colour by word picture of the Easter Bunny, with eggs all around him. She points to one of the eggs and reads the word inside it, "green." Then then next: "pink." Of course, bedtime routine is put on pause and she read all the rest of the colours to me - all in lower case letters - black, orange, blue, red, yellow, grown, purple.
The kid can read. Just like that.
I said its a big huge deal because it seemed like such an insurmountable task when we first committed to homeschool (before she was even born) and even more daunting as we began "kindergarten" last fall. Yet, voila - here we are. What an accomplishment for us both, to be honest. I'm certain that every homeschooling parent has those doubts that linger in on darker days - are you giving your child everything she needs and deserves in the realm of education. Are you really cut out for this? Are you really able to do it. I think the first step on that journey of "Holy cow - seriously?" that you find yourself standing shakily on, as you begin to homeschool the younger child any way, is the idea of teaching them to read. I mean, let's face it - we can chalk everything else up to homeschooling ideology or curriculum pace but there is nothing enigmatic about reading - either they can or they can't. Period. Even though we were relaxed about it and I was fine if she didn't learn for another 6 months or so, it's still a nice hurdle to have sailed over, feeling the word "flying colours" take to the skies of my heart.
My little Bean is a reader.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Ode to Exit 58
Twenty-three hours into a twelve hour journey.
One sleepless night in a bad hotel.
If you lived here, you'd be home by now.
Yes, let's move to you:
Lovely town of Exit 58.
Yup. I think that says it all.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
It was so strange, how I just cried. I thought about his wife, first. I thought about how much joy he brought to so many people, just by putting up Christmas lights. I thought about him wanting to respond to children's letters to Santa and I just couldn't stop crying. You know, we'll probably move to a different city by the end of summer. We're on our way out of town for almost 2 weeks. Just like chance meeting with Mr Street, if I hadn't been driving through his neighbourhood that afternoon, I would have missed seeing this memorial. It probably won't still be up when we return from Florida. I would have left the area and never known he's passed away. I am so glad I saw this. I hurried home to get my camera and drove back to take this picture. Bean drew a picture of dancing Santa for us to take to the sleigh tomorrow, before we leave town.
Now, I don't want to get all preach-y with you, but it struck me that you never know how the little things you do, like Christmas lights, will affect those around you and, also, you should never miss an opportunity to tell someone how their life has touched yours.
Sunday, May 4, 2008
Not only that - but we had some fun, did some homeschool - left the house TWO DAYS IN A ROW. I know! =) =) Watched some Lost and Grey's Anatomy! (Woo hoo!) Found out one of my closest friends - a truly wonderful woman and mother, who is expecting her 6th child in the fall is having a boy! We all thought girl. Either way, a wonderful blessing.
This week we are off to Florida to surprise my grandmother for Mother's Day - so any family reading this, don't tell Grandmommy we're coming! Shhhhh. I'm so looking forward to it - now, the 12 hour car ride down with the three girls, not so much . . . but that's ok.
This week will be packing, cleaning, and schooling. For now, we're just enjoying our after church afternoon. Hope you are too.Oh - leaving you with a picture of my middle child - my Mighty Mouse in Florida last year.
I love this picture. Not only did I blow it up big, I made it into a canvas. Love it. Anyway - have a wonderful week ahead, and if I don't talk to you before I leave for Florida:
- Have fun
- Stay safe
- Get dirty
- Play in the yard
- Eat chocolate
- Play Scrabble with someone you love
- HUG the babies!!!!
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Thanks to everyone who sent well wishes . Hopefully, I'll be able to blog more regularly. What else am I doing when I'm nursing in the pre-dawn hours, right? Might as well be profound. lol!
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
I took it back. It was hard as a rock inside. Very little padding, especially on the sides and not much in the back around the head either. Also, the logo is stitched right where the baby's head goes and it's itchy. I know I'm totally neurotic, but it works for me. So then it was between the Graco Safeseat and The Chicco Keyfit 30.
Personally, I thought the Graco was slightly more padded than the Baby Trend, but not much - and it totally depended on the fabric you got. The Keyfit felt awesome, so soft and padded, great infant insert - not at all crazy about the colours, but if I was in this parenting thing for looks, I wouldn't be driving a mini van. ;) ;)
So we got the Keyfit - the fire station guys had never seen one before, when I had them install it. Neither had kids, but both loved the thing in an instant. It has a way to adjust the base so the carseat is level - without adding that foam thing they usually have to add. It has its own belts to attach to the seatbelt and a super safe and easy way to tighten it. They called it the Cadillace. LOL! Anyway - for anyone in the market, I thought I'd give you my review.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Starlight, star bright. I wish I may:
1. Stumble across some wonderful, chocolatey snack that makes you super organized, a wonderful cook and love to clean.
2. Sell that awesome recipe to Hershey so I can hire someone to cook, clean and organize my life - because I can't imagine, even if it came in the form of a chocolate delight, I would enjoy cooking, cleaning or organizing. So, I'll sell to Hershey, move somewhere warm, get Bean that dog she wants so badly, have acres of land, covered with huge magnolia trees, crepe myrtles, and a pond ringed with weeping willows. We'll have breakfast on the front porch and watch horses running in the pastures. I'll finally be able to have my sheep and chickens and spend all day playing with and homeschooling the girls. *sigh*
I wish I might:
1. Aspire to that beautiful dream, with or without the bankroll from Hersheys.
2. Remember that dust and laundry are the same every day, but childhood changes on a dime and is gone in a heartbeat.
3. Raise my two - soon to be three - girls to be strong Christians, strong women, strong dreamers and strong spirits.
Amazing women - may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them!
I'm not going to tag anyone, but if you read this blog and want to share this on your own, then I would love to read your thoughts!
Friday, February 8, 2008
The open house was impressive and the Mamas and children were all so very nice and welcoming. They opened with prayer, then the pledge of allegiance to the Bible - which I love! Then they said The Pledge of Allegience to the flag. Then they went to their "classes." We sat in on the six year old class, where Bean would be in the fall. I missed about 30 min total of this because my wonderful husband was on his way home early to get Love Bug and was stuck in traffic. An 18 month old is not a fun addition to a class of six year olds trying to learn, but we managed until he got there.
I did get to see the kids sing their history song. All their "memory work" is set to music, which is neat. The song they were singing that day was to help them remember who led the Allied Forces in WW1. Huh. Of course, I'm thinking, Does my five year old need to know who led the Allied forces during WW1? It was very hard for me to wrap my Waldorf brain around, to be honest. They describe it like a peg board - kids work on the same curriculum from 4 years old to 6th grade, each year digging deeper into it, becoming more familiar with it. So the basic familiarity as in "Churchill - I remember that name from such-n-such a song . . . " lays the foundation for further learning later on. So all these kids did was learn the song - and they loved it. They all begged to sing it again and again. They all had snack together, which was brough by one family - which I think is nice.
Next, was on to art - where they looked at a few examples of work by the impressionist painter Berthe Morisot, who focused on texture. Then the kids were presented with several different cups of paint, some with glitter inside, some with sand, some with flour and some plain, so they could experience painting with different textures. Then it was back to the classroom to sing their conjugated Latin verb song and skip count - which is where they count by 2's, 3's, 4's etc - these kids were learning up to 8's - but they needed help at that level. They rolled a ball from one kid to the next, taking turns saying the next number in the sequence. Finally, it was back to the gym for a neat science experiment about force (force = mass x acceleration) where they rolled marbles down ramps into styrofoam cups and watched how much farther the cup moved depending on the degree of slant to the ramp.
Bean really liked it. She wanted to go back next week when they would all meet again, and was disappointed when she learned we just visited that one time. I asked her what her favourite part was, thinking of course - it would have to be the painting. She's been in Waldorf surroundings literally all her life. So, it must be the nifty art project. Nope. The skip counting.
It was SO different than any Waldorf thing I had ever done or anything I had planned on doing with her or had ever done with her. However, what we've been doing isn't working. It's not meeting her needs. I actually got into a brief discussion re: Waldorf Education with one of the mothers there, when asked about our homeschooling background. She said it would have been really great for her oldest child, who was very artistic and didn't actually start reading until that year (he was in 3rd grade.) This made me feel so much better - if a child can make it all the way to 3rd grade in that program without reading, then I feel better about it maybe not being so academically aggressive.
Bottom line - I'm simmering. Bean loved it - has asked to go back. The people were so so nice, so were the children. I love the fact that it is a Christian curriculum. I like that it can be as large a part of your homeschool curriculum as you want it to be. So, I'm thinking about it. I'm adding more academics to our schedule slowly, slowly and Bean is loving it. So, I have no set course, but I have a direction and that is enough for now.
Sunday, February 3, 2008
What a great game!!!! I love it I love it I love it. How can anyone NOT like football?? I like so many players on the Giants team but even more than that - I really like Tom Coughlin. He was our old coach at the Jaguars and I liked him then and I am so happy for him and the team tonight.WOO HOO!!!!!!
Then there's this:
The effect this man had on the Giants players is astounding. He rode to the stadium tonight in the team bus. When asked about Lt. Col. Gadson and what he has meant to the team during interviews that aired tonight, every Giants player interviewed stated that he had a monumental effect on the team and if they win, Lt. Col. Gadson would have to get a Superbowl ring of his own. Two players even said that, if he didn't, they were going to give him theirs. What an inspirational story. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE THIS GAME!
Saturday, February 2, 2008
Sonlight - I just wasn't thrilled about this one.
Abeka - Nope. I didn't like the idea of sending Bean's work in for them to grade or the fact that the Bible portion of this curriculum is delivered via dvd by Mrs Bear. Finally, my Grandmother - whose opinion in regards to everything that has to do with children I treat as if Moses brought it down from the mountian - doesn't like it. She is a pioneer in the field of early childhood education. She speaks all over the country. She is simply amazing. I could start a whole blog on this subject alone. She said that it is almost all workbooks and that's not what kids need at all.
I also attended a meeting for a curriculum called Classical Conversations. Classical Education with a Christian focus. I'm going to attend an open house to see this in action. I feel I need to explore every option.
At home this week, I drug out the math workbook. Bean was thrilled. I thoought we could do a page or two. We did six pages and she would have kept going except I suggested we take a break and make brownies. Brownies? Math what? Workbook who? That's my girl!
We "did homeschool" every day this week. We read a Bible lesson out of this amazing book:
Egermeier's Bible Story Book, A Complete Narration from Genesis to Revelation for Young and Old. (My Grandmother's suggestion and, of course, it's awesome.) We have the 1939 printing and it is a treasure. Anyway, we read a story and I have found awesome printables online to go with them. We read the Creation story, she coloured a picture for what God created on each of the 6 days and then one for resting on the 7th day. Gotta love free, online resources! The next day we read the story again and looked at her beautiful colouring pages. Then she made a title page for her series, writing "God Made the World." She was so proud. The last day she drew her own Creation picture. We worked on numbers and she picks things up SO quickly. We read lots of books and played. One morning she asked why there was water on the inside of the windows. (Love Bug has a cold and we use a vaporizer for her at night.) So we discussed the whole water to steam and back to water thing. She wanted to know more. So I did a quick online search and found (again, love those printables!) colouring pages for the water cycle. She was so eager to discuss them and colour them for me. She wrote out another title page "The Water Cycle." It really spoke to her heart.
Now, her behaviour for me during the day. It's been awesome. She is getting over a cold and gets tired and cranky in the afternoons - yet refuses to sleep when I send her to her room to rest - however, out mornings have been wonderful. As soon as I put Love Bug down for a nap, Bean wants to do homeschool. Her manners are so wonderful, she is more patient with her sister. She is a happier kid!
I am still convinced I can marry her need for more academics with my love of Waldorf. I think the "head, heart and hands," philosophy is crucial - now more than ever, so she doesn't get too much into her head. We'll keep water colour painting and beeswax modelling. She loves to fingerknit and draw and explore outside and bake. Carefully, I can see how this will work and be a beautiful thing and will still meet her where she is.
Thanks to everyone who commented. I very much appreciate the support! I'll keep you posted!
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
So, here's the rub: I believe in my heart that Waldorf is a beautiful educational philosophy and lifestyle. I love it. I love the gentle, holistic approach to education, I love the head, heart and hands focus. I love it all, but it's just not working for my child. So the question is - do I stick to my Waldorf principals and make the child meet the curriculum, so to speak, or do I take a step back and reevaluate and meet her where she is - which is one of the reasons I chose homeschooling in the first place.
Obviously, it is time to reevaluate. I pulled out all my homeschooling materials, Waldorf and non-Waldorf last night and put them out on the sofa with every intent to go through them after the girls were in bed. But, I fell asleep with Love Bug at 8pm - and I feel MUCH better this morning. =) =)
So my plan for the next few evenings is to create a hybrid educational path for my little Bean. Something that will hold true to the head, heart and hands approach that I love so much, but also tries to meet the needs of my little Bean who, obviously, I love so much more.
I'll keep you posted.
Monday, January 28, 2008
You Know You're a Floridian If . . .
- You never use an umbrella because you know the rain will be over in five minutes.
- A good parking place has nothing to do with distance from the store, but everything to do with shade. (Amen)
- Your winter coat is made of denim.
- You can tell the difference between fire ant bites and mosquito bites.
- You're younger than thirty but some of your friends are over 65.
- Anything under 70 is chilly. (Yes -- and winter up here s-u-c-k-s)
- You've driven through Yeehaw Junction.
- You could swim before you could read.
- You have to drive north to get to The South.
- You know that no other grocery store can compare to Publix.
- You know that anything under a Category 3 just isn't worth waking up for.
- You dread love bug season.
- You are on a first name basis with the Hurricane list. They aren't Hurricane Charley, Hurricane Frances..but Charley , Frances , Ivan and Jeanne.
- You know what a snowbird is and when they'll leave.
- You think a six-foot alligator is actually pretty average.
- You were twelve before you ever saw snow, or you still haven't. (Real snow - like over an inch? I was 28)
- 'Down South' means Key West.
- You think New York drivers licenses should only be valid in New York.
- Flip-flops are everyday wear, shoes are for business meetings and church . . .but you HAVE worn flip flops to church before. (Just for the record, I have not done this. My Grandmother would skin me alive if I wore flip-flops to church. You see, we're Southern Baptist. If you were from Florida, that would be explanation enough.)
- Sweet tea can be served at any meal.
- You smirk when a game show's 'Grand Prize' is a trip or cruise to Florida.
- You measure distance in minutes. (Ok - all kidding aside. Doesn't everyone do this? Seriously?)
- You have a drawer full of bathing suits, and one sweatshirt.
- You get annoyed at the tourists who feed seagulls.
- A mountain is any hill 100 feet above sea level.
- You know the four seasons really are: hurricane season, love bug season, tourist season and summer.
- Anything under 95 is just warm.
- You've hosted a hurricane party. (FSU. Junior Year)
- You can pronounce Okeechobee, Kissimmee , Ichnatucknee , Withlacoochee and Micanopy.
- You understand why it's better to have a friend with a boat, than have a boat yourself.
- Bumper stickers on the pickup in front of you include: various fish, NRA, NASCAR, Go Gators, and a confederate flag. (Go Noles!)
- You were 5 before you realized they made houses without pools.
- You were 25 when you first met someone who couldn't swim.
- You've worn shorts and used the A/C on Christmas. (Yes. There is a photo of my family, on my wall - everyone in shorts and tank tops and the writing on the back says "Dec 1984." )
- You recognize Miami-Dade as ' Northern Cuba '.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
We have had a day - one of those days where I have threatened my hard-headed Bean child with State School more than once. Have I told you I am raising a litigator? I am raising a litigator.
I found this blog tonight -a link from another blog that was a link from another blog . . . you know how it is. Anyway, this blog has me laughing out loud! It was SO FUNNY, I had to share:
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
There are some seriously wonderful bloggers in Rebecca's Waldorf Near Circle group. Addictively wonderful. I must confess that I love blogs, but I am so picky. Here are some FABULOUS blogs that are not in our near circle group, but are truly great reads:
Confessions of a Pioneer Woman: http://thepioneerwoman.com/
- Do not read this blog while drinking any liquid or you will spit it all over your monitor in laughter.
Angry Chicken: http://www.angrychicken.typepad.com/
- This is one of those crafty blogs that both inspire you - and makes you want to find someone you could just pay to make all these neat things for you.
- A calming and serene Earth Mama blog.
A Number of Things: http://www.alicecantrell.com/blog/
- Written by a fabulous artist who lives on a farm. Need I say more?
By Sun and Candle Light: http://dawnathome.typepad.com/by_sun_and_candlelight/
- An absolute treasure trove of resources and ideas. Always an inspiring read.
OOPS! Forgot one!
Soule Mama: http://www.soulemama.typepad.com/
- Another blog from a deeply creative person. Truly amazing stuff here!
Sunday, January 20, 2008
Do you have any watermelon in your refrigerator? No - I wish, that means it would be summer!
What would you change about your living room? I would move it to Charleston, SC. We've been in this area for 8 years and in this house for 7 - the longest I have ever lived in one house. I am ready to move!
Are the dishes in your dishwasher clean or dirty? Washing as we speak - as I type.
What is in your fridge? Tons of milk, chocolate chip cookie dough . . . other stuff, but that's all that really matters.
White or wheat bread?Wheat
What is on top of your refrigerator? Nothing
What color or design is on your shower curtain? We don't have shower curtains in the master bath - we have glass doors. The girls' bath has a sage green one.
How many plants are in your home? one - a beautiful peace plant that I have had since 2000.
Is your bed made right now? Seriously? . . . Seriously?
Comet or Soft Scrub? Neither - I forgot what that stuff is called - the lavender smelling non-toxic stuff in the purple canister. Can I just say that this fact illustrates how cleaning is so my life. Yeah.
Is your closet organized? For the most part.
Can you describe your flashlight? Yes, it's heavy and black.
Do you drink out of glass or plastic most of the time at home? Glass only - no plastic. The girls use aluminum sigg bottles or clean canteens. Bean uses these beautiful enamel cups from Nova Natural with the matching dishes and bowls. I digress.
Do you have iced tea made in a pitcher right now? Of course!
If you have a garage, is it cluttered? Not really. We can fit both cars in there.
Curtains or blinds? Both
How many pillows do you sleep with? Three.
Do you sleep with any lights on at night? Yes, two nightlights so I can see little love bug in her baby bed beside our bed.
How often do you vacuum? Only when necessary.
Standard toothbrush or electric? Standard
What color is your toothbrush? Green
Do you have a welcome mat on your front porch? Yes.
What is in your oven right now? Nothing. Hmmm - I should break out that chocolate chip cookie dough in the fridge. It's already past 9am (not that that hasn't stopped me before.)
Is there anything under your bed? yeah, I think so.
Chore you hate doing the most? Cleaning out the fridge and cleaning bath tubs.
What retro items are in your home? Lots - lots of furniture that belonged to my great grandmother - some of her beautiful hats from the 40's and 50's, my girls have clothes I wore in the 70's. Retro is our friend.
Do you have a separate room that you use as an office? My husband does - it's the most useless room in the house.
How many mirrors are in your home? 11 - one in each of the 4 bathrooms, one in each of the 5 bedrooms, one in the playroom and a small one in the foyer.
What color are your walls? Neutrals, mostly - browns, sagey- greens, then the girls have purple and pink respectively. Oh - and the playroom is a soft yellow.
What does your home smell like right now? Wish it smelled like cookies baking in my oven.
Favorite candle scent? yuk. I can't stand scented stuff. I only burn beeswax candles and I do that rarely.
What kind of pickles (if any) are in your refrigerator right now? Claussen - the cold crunchy ones. YUM!!
What color is your favorite Bible? Red. It came from the bookstore of the church my great grandfather pastored for decades, beginning (I think) in the 40's. I could add that to the retro list.
Ever been on your roof? Nope. I've seen it from the street, though. ;P
Do you own a stereo? No, actually. We can play music cd's on the dvd player.
How many TVs do you have? Two. One in the living room and one in my husband's gym.
How many house phones?3 - one upstairs, one on the main floor and one in the finished basement.
Do you have a housekeeper? No
What style do you decorate in? I like mission style - arts and crafts movement. Simple, uncluttered, natural woods and lots of bookcases filled with books.
Do you like solid colors or prints in furniture? Solids
Is there a smoke detector in your home? Yes. Several.
In case of fire, what are the items in your house which you’d grab if you only could make one quick trip? The children and my two external hard drives - they hold every picture of the girls I've ever taken.
Saturday, January 19, 2008
The child asked God, "They tell me you are sending me to earth tomorrow. But how am I going to live there being so small and helpless?"
"Your angel will be waiting for you and will take care of you."
The child further said, "Here in heaven I don't have to do anything but sing and smile to be happy.
God said, "Your angel will sing for you and will also smile for you. You will feel your angel's love and be very happy."
Again the child asked, "And how am I going to be able to understand when people talk to me if I don't know the language?"
God said, "Your angel will tell you the most beautiful and sweet words you will ever hear. And with much patience and care, your angel will teach you how to speak."
"And what am I going to do when I want to talk to you?"
God said, "Your angel will place your hands together and will teach you how to pray."
"Who will protect me?" asked the child.
God said, "Your angel will defend you even if it means risking her life."
"But I will always be sad because I will not see you anymore."
God said, Your angel will always talk to you about me and will teach you the way to come back to me."
At that moment there was much peace in heaven, and voices from Earth could be heard. The child hurriedly asked, "God, if I am to leave now, please tell me my angel's name."
God said, "You will simply call her.....Mama."
~ author unknown
Seems all we do these days is huddle around the house and go to my doctor's appointments. I'm already 33 weeks along and I feel like I've reached this nesting phase - much to my husband's disappointment, that does not mean that I want to clean and organize everything. It means I want to gather my children all around me and not leave the house. I can feel the change in the wind already and March - and this new little person - will be here before we know it. I'm just trying to enjoy every minute of being a mother of two, and that seems to mean I post on here less.
So, that's where I've been. Wishing you all a beautiful week and weekend ahead.
Wednesday, January 2, 2008
1. Continue with German
2. Meet with our Waldorf homeschooling co-op twice a month for activities like baking, dyeing wool, gardening etc.
3. Bean's Irish dance instructor believes she will be ready to compete by late Spring. I'm leaving this up to the Bean.
4. Bean is really into creating: with art supplies, blocks, pipe cleaners, clay. . . I want to make sure she always has lots of time for these things.
5. We are actually meeting with a new homeschooling group next week, specifically for kindergartners. It sounds really promising - not academically aggressive at all. They focus on music, gardening, arts, drama etc.
6. Bean is also become very good at writing. She writes notes and letters all the time. We need to work on is getting her to leave proper spacing between her words. They tend to crowd each other. =) =) It's something I would like to address, but not necessarily "work on" because she's only five. I don't want her natural love of letters and learning at be squelched by having to focus on anything other than writing and ideas and her imagination. I feel she's just too young. Learning and writing and "school" is such fun for her. She gets so excited and I'm not willing to alter that. =) =)
Not once have I regretted our decision to homeschool. With every passing day it becomes clear tome what a perfect arrangement this is for our family and what a blessing it is that we are able to do this!
I wish you all a wonderfully joyful 2008!!!