Teaching Writing: Why It Matters

The conductor came walking down the aisle looking rather spiffy in his blue suit, (it had gold trim,) and wanted to see your ticket. You gave it to him, and then he wanted mine. I looked in my pocket, but only came up with a flower.

“I’d love to,” I said in a little remorseful of a manner, “but my ticket has apparently turned into a rose.” — The Ballad of the Beta Fish, by C. M. Schwarzen

The thing that I chafed at the most in elementary school (that I remember) was diagramming sentences. I hated it. For the most part that was because I was terrible at it, and still am terrible at it. I just can’t wrap my mind around drawing lines and picking words apart from their compatriots via slanted lines and dashes and squiggles. It doesn’t make sense. Sentences hang together, but they never hang separately.

Continue reading

Feeding the People: InstantPot Recipes my family loves, pt. 2

Now that you know how I came to have an InstantPot (affiliate link) lurking in my kitchen, and you know some of the starter recipes that began my obsession with electric pressure cooking, I’m going to share some of the recipes that I’ve tinkered with now that I’ve gotten the hang of it. One key to remember: I’m horrible about precision in culinary endeavors. I’m the person for whom the note, “to taste,” was written. My printed recipes are, to paraphrase Captain Barbossa, not rules, but more like… guidelines.

Continue reading

Feeding the People: InstantPot Recipes my family loves, pt. 1

Truth: I am not a kitchen gadget girl.

First of all, I’m far too cheap to actually buy tools for things that I have already figured out a way to do with something else. Case in point: for years and years, I had no rolling pin. I used a drinking glass turned on its side, just like my Mamaw did. Then, my husband bought me a rolling pin. I used it and loved it. It didn’t make the cut to move to Nepal so… I now use a drinking glass again. And I’m fine.

Second, I prefer small kitchen, and small kitchens rarely have the kind of storage space that gadgets demand. Actually, this is one of the things I like about compact cooking spaces: If you don’t use it, you don’t need it isn’t a vague notion. It’s an in-your-face, daily reality that prevents me from acquiring or holding on to extra baggage that will eat up valuable kitchen real estate. If it doesn’t haul its own weight, by golly, it has to go.

Continue reading


I rarely feel the size of our family quite as keenly as I do when sickness is afoot. This past month has given me plenty of opportunity to do the math, and last week, it only got worse. We’re now mid-stream in an admittedly losing battle against influenza that has given me no room to think “we’re not really that big of a family.” Because if nothing else, solving the equation that pits our family’s population against two bathrooms when the flu is mixed in makes me acknowledge that we’re working with some real numbers here.

Continue reading

Early morning math {Mathematical Reasoning Beginning 2}

We received a free product for the purpose of writing this review. Our family only reviews items that we actually find valuable and are able to be 100% honest about regarding our experience. We received no monetary compensation for our opinion. Links contained in this post may direct to affiliate sites.

We are living math people. In the early years, when numeracy and concepts are forming, we choose not to choose from the many wonderful math curricula on the market, instead focusing on a less formal, more experience-based progression of mathematical skills. Mathematical thinking starts far earlier than you might expect; at almost 4, Simon may not know what to do when confronted with the written problem “6 divided by 2,” but you can bet that if I have six grapes and he’s sharing with his little brother, he sure as shooting is going to let me know that they can each have three.

Continue reading

Lessons from a weekend

We’ve had a bug slowly meandering through our family, afflicting members one by one, bringing this one some sniffles and nothing more, leaving that one in bed with a fever for a day and a half. It’s the “no fun” part of the start to cooler weather, but all in all, it’s just a niggling little First World side note. Even Jude, whose version has resisted my elderberry/oil/tea protocol for two weeks now, is nowhere near the line that divides sick from sick. And if he were, well… doctors.  See? First World problems.

Continue reading

Freeze frame

My sons hate posing for photos. They loathe it. It’s been a long time in coming, this distaste, but it’s full blown now, and I can sense it every time I pull out my camera. There’s the slinking away from the scene as I locate my subject, the obvious shrug when called to take part, the defensive goofy face as I focus— a final, last gasp at maintaining some semblance of whatever it is that makes them so despise being part of my happy little snapshots.

Continue reading


The worst part of any move is the finding.

Finding the library.
Finding the grocery store you prefer.
Finding the gas stations.
Finding a new pediatrician.

We’ve been here in East Tennessee since mid-July now, and we’ve done all that. (O.k., the pediatrician part is still up in the air.) What we haven’t found yet is a church home.

Continue reading