For those of you who are new (or even not so new) to this blog, I suppose the title needs a bit of explanation.  Once upon a time, my husband used to blog, and in those days we had a weekly occasional whenever-we-felt-like-it routine of posting on the same topic on Saturdays.  We called it He Says, She Says Saturdays.  Cute, right?

Anyway, it’s been a while, but we are back today with a very special event indeed.  Our first ever He Says, He Says, He Says, She Says Saturday, introducing two of the Internet’s newest bloggers, Trevor’s (no longer) little brothers Adrian and Nathan.

Such an occasion called for a special topic indeed, so we’ve decided to tackle an old favorite subject of mine and Trevor’s: Myers-Briggs personality types – specifically, our own.

We were first introduced to this brand of self-analysis about five years ago by dear friends who had used it as a tool to strengthen their marriage.  To be honest, it’s real appeal is that it’s just super fun to take a five-minute quiz and then see your exact personality laid out before your very eyes.

If you’ve never tried it, we used this site to get a free and quick read-out last night.  Even if you don’t read another word of this post, I can’t recommend enough that you take the quiz – you’ll thank me, and then you’ll make everyone you know take it, too.

So, after 5 minutes of questions, most of which made me think, ‘well, this is dumb – surely everybody picks this answer’  ( “Really!?” I asked, “Who would say that they only value people for their usefulness and don’t care about their feelings?” to which Trevor and his dad piped up in unison, “I did!”  Just wow.) 41q.com had this to say about me:

Your personality type: “Spontaneous Idealist”

Enthusiastic, idealistic and creative. Able to do almost anything that interests them. Great people skills. Need to live life in accordance with their inner values. Excited by new ideas, but bored with details. Open-minded and flexible, with a broad range of interests and abilities.

If you care to see all the nitty gritty, including a fancy little chart, click here.

So, I am an extroverted (E), intuiting (N), feeling (F), perceiver (P).  What does all that mean?

I know what an extrovert is, and I don’t need convincing that I am one.  My mother and I have  exactly the same personality type except for the E.  This explains why I enjoy nothing more than going to the park and meeting new mommy friends, then filling up my calendar with playdates.  It explains too why she adores a night completely alone with a book and a bubble bath (what fun is that!?).

I gather that my F-ness  probably has a lot to do with my being a girl.  It’s not completely true to say that all men are thinkers and all women are feelers, but it does tend to line up that way more often than not, so I’ve heard.   If you watched my video this week, you’ll know it didn’t take rocket science to figure out that I’m a sappy, blubbery sort of girl.

I haven’t quite nailed down the S versus N situation, so I’ll leave that one to move onto the real shocker of this whole endeavor.

P. Ah, sweet P.  Being a perceiver means that I float through life without a care in the world, making perfectly good decisions on the fly without wasting my life planning everything down to the minutest detail.  Going with the flow, taking what comes, blooming where I’m planted.  It’s a happy place to live life, and one in which my sweet ISTP husband and I blissfully cohabited.

Until last night.

Five years ago, when Trevor and I first took these tests.  Our  P-ness was our only common bond.  The one point of our very disparate personalities at which we were bonded and unified.

According to last night’s test results, Trevor is now a J.  Apparently  my reckless approach to life finally forced him to grab hold of the reins, lest our collective lack of plan lead us down the road of unpaid bills and squandered weekends.  In truth, I’m glad he did.

But the fact remains that my husband and I are now officially complete polar opposites.  And this, to me, is where the great usefulness of these tests comes in.   Knowing that he thinks, feels (if he feels at all!) and just generally operates differently than I do helps me to love him better.   It helps me get why he doesn’t always get me.  And that helps everybody.

I believe that, my J-convert husband notwithstanding,  God has designed each of our personalities with as much care as He took over our faces or fingerprints.  Understanding the uniquely amazing design of those around us (I can’t wait until the girls are old enough for me to analyze this way!) helps us to love people for who they are, to overlook wrongs (perceived and actual) and to realize just how many of our own wrongs they have overlooked.

Now, I’m off to go check out what Trevor, Adrian, and Nathan have to say about all this.  Care to join me?

Also, if you did take the quiz, would you indulge me by telling me what your ‘type’ is in the comments?  I just can’t get enough of this stuff.

He Says, She Says Saturday (Alright, Sunday): Crock-potting

crockpot4qtIt’s been a long time.  Too long.  Life has been busy and ideas have been lacking, but when I suggested this topic to Trevor as we were carrying out our Saturday evening ritual of preparing our Sunday lunch crock-pot, I saw that old HSSSS sparkle in his eye once again.

We are a very traditional family regrading gender-roles in most areas.  Trevor fixes things, takes out the trash, mows the lawn.  I do most of the kid-related stuff, the cleaning and the overwhelming majority of the food preparation (he’s even a little lost if I don’t pour his bowl of cereal in the morning, bless him.)

But the crock-pot?  The crock-pot is firmly in Trevor’s jurisdiction.   Maybe he sees it as a tool or a gadget, more akin to a cordless drill than a frying pan.  But for whatever reason, each week he meticulously plans his menu for Sunday lunch, and I often don’t even know what it will be until we are preparing the ingredients together on Friday night.

It is primarily for this reason that I say: I *love* my crock-pot.  By Sunday lunchtime I have forgotten the hour-plus that it took us to prepare the meal and the ridiculous number of dishes dirtied in the process.  I only know that I arrive home from church with hungry children, and the crock-pot fairy has already made our meal.

It is a marvelous change from days of old when I would frantically open every cabinet as well as the freezer several times in search of something that could be made in less than thirty seconds, only to once again serve my family macaroni and cheese with ground beef thrown in.  (Trevor has actually lamented recently that I never make this “dish” anymore.  Funny how familiarity can trump all semblance of culinary discernment.)

Just to give a sampling of Chez Trevor’s menu offerings, today we had an *amazing* chicken and broccoli pasta bake.  He also does a great tomale pie, a yummy pizza crock-pot and, my favorite, birthday beans.  Sometimes, just to shake things up, he’ll do a roast chicken and vegetables.  Yum.  O.  Rama.  It’s the only way he ever gets such standard fare, since I don’t know how to cook much that can’t be done on my stovetop.

Our crock-pot was a house-warming gift from my best friend Mary, and I must confess it collected a good bit of dust before Trevor finally discovered its potential.  I have still hardly used it myself, though I did once totally astound Trevor by making hot dog chowder one day this summer when it was too hot in our house to cook any other way, and we were in grave danger of having cereal for dinner.  Someday, when I have the presence of mind to be thinking about dinner by lunchtime again, I may repeat the experiment.  For now, I will leave it in his capable hands and enjoy his provision or Sunday lunch and Monday (leftover) dinner.  And it’s always better the second time around.

Don’t forget to check out what Trevor says on the subject.  I was thinking that this  might be the first time ever that he would have more to say on a topic than I do, but as he’s watching me type this, he assures me that’s not the case.

He Says, She Says Saturday: Frugality

diet-cokeI know.  Two weeks in a row after months of HSSSS drought.  Don’t expect us to keep it up; I’m pretty sure it’s just a fluke.

Very early on in our marriage, it became clear that Trevor and I had been raised very differently regarding the spending and saving of money.  It wasn’t that we came from very different socioeconomic backgrounds: very similar, actually.  Our parents just have very different philosophies, which is funny, because I’m sure none of our parents think of themselves as having any particular philosophy on money at all.  Nevertheless, the difference was there, and strong.  While Trevor had been raised to save as much as possible and spend only when and as much as necessary, I had been raised to enjoy life and spend fairly freely, within reason.  Let me illustrate how this played out early in our marriage with an example.

A conversation, while walking home from somewhere, maybe a half hour’s walk tops, circa Summer 2000, a couple months married:

Me: I’m thirsty.  I’m going to run into this store and grab a soda.  Do you want anything?

Him: No, don’t.  We’ll be home in like ten minutes.  Why would you buy a drink now?

Me.  Because I’m thirsty now.  Plus we don’t even have soda at home.

Him:  But there’s plenty of water.  Come on, you can make it.

For the sake of sensitive readers, and friends and family who are under the illusion that I have always been the perfectly submissive wife I am now (*cough* *choke*), I’ll leave it at that.  The drama that then ensued was one one of my very first, badly-failed lessons at the Trevor Young School of Frugality, but I have to say (and I think he’d agree) my grades have been steadily improving ever since.  I don’t actually remember whether I got the soda or not, in the end (do you, Sweetie?)

Despite Trevor’s solid foundations as a careful penny-saver (his years under the employ of McDonald’s while in high school and college funded his 7 trans-Atlantic flights during our courtship), we were still pretty free with our money before we had kids, at least compared to now.  We didn’t really eat out often, but we didn’t think much of getting fish and chips on a Friday night or stopping for fast food after church on a Sunday either.  We got a great deal on our flat, but a not-so-great deal on our car, so we were pretty hit or miss with our financial wisdom.

Then after Pippa was born and I stopped working, money started to feel a little tighter. Some months we would eek by, others we would have to dip into our savings a little, but our lifestyle as we knew it definitely wasn’t sustainable.

We muddled by until six months after Romilly was born when we moved to America.  A nice little windfall from the sale of our flat helped us make a downpayment on our house here as well as buy our van and most of our furniture.  In hindsight, we should have been a lot more protective of our buffer of savings.  By the time Beatrix was born in July 2007, it became apparent that the streets of America were indeed *not* paved with gold.  We were still going to have to figure out how to adjust our lifestyle if I was going to be able to stay home with our children, which was pretty much a non-negotiable.

The newly-frugal-minded Trevor that emerged during this time in our lives made the Trevor of our newlywed days seem positively extravagant.  We hadn’t bought soda on any kind of regular basis ever, so I had long since learned I could live without that.  But now he was asking questions like, “What could you do to earn some income from home?”,  “Do we really need these phones?”,  “This cable?”,  “This particular part of our auto insurance coverage?”, “Couldn’t we make our own diaper wipes?”, “Isn’t there somewhere we could be getting our groceries for less?” and “Do we really need two cars?”

Gradually, I opened my eyes to where our money was going.  I found that there were actually a lot of things I could part with very happily if it meant that I could stay home with my girls and watch them grow without fear of an unexpected expense cropping up and yanking the rug out from under us.  I discovered that the answers to the above questions were: “Sell on eBay (a gift from God that came at just the right time)”, “Nope”, “Nope”, Nope again”, “Yup (but they really don’t work as well on the really gross-o diapers, it must be said)”, “ALDI!”  and “Ask us in six months or so and we’ll let you know.”   I found that the more of these probing questions Trevor asked and found answers to, the more I began to enjoy getting control of our money and to embrace the challenge of helping him cut back our spending even further.

What I once may have mistaken for stinginess or lack of compassion in my husband, I now realize has always been motivated by a desire to be able to provide for me, and later for our children.  It has always come out of love, and now it is one of the things I love most about him.   Speaking of him, go read  what he thinks about it.

1 Timothy 6:7-10
For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

He Says, She Says Satur… (Ahem) Sunday: Facebook

logo_facebook After a much too long hiatus from HSSSS, we are back in business with what seems to me to be a very timely topic.  Facebook.  I’m on it; he’s not and doesn’t want to be.  Could be interesting.  At first I thought it might break down as a simple pro/con approach, with my post being the pros, and his being the cons, but I’m not sure it’s that simple.  Instead, I find myself a bit remiss to sing the praises of anything that could become yet another temptation to waste time when we almost certainly all have better things to be doing.

So, I’ll begin by chronicling my descent into Facebook, and perhaps I’ll come to some useful conclusions about it along the way.

A little over two years ago, while we were in Scotland visiting Trevor’s family, I received two e-mails in the same week from different friends inviting me to join Facebook.  I’m not sure I had ever heard of it before.  I ignored those invitations and got on with my life.  A few months and a few more invitations later, just after Beatrix was born, my  sister finally helped me set up my account.  I had a profile picture and some “friends”.  Kind of fun.  I went to my page only when my e-mail told me to do so, and life went on as usual.

Then something happened.  When we were ready to announce our pregnancy with Juniper, I thought I’d give this “status update” thing a try.  After all, there’s always a little bit of awkwardness about announcing a pregnancy, and this seemed an easy way to get the word out without having to actually tell anyone.  I wrote, “Jodi is pregnant, and wonders if anybody actually reads these things.”  Within minutes, literally dozens of people had come out of the woodwork to congratulate me.  I guess I had my answer.

After my little experiment, my use of Facebook gradually started to pick up some steam.  I found a few friends I’d been out of touch with for a while.  Fun.  I got to see pictures of friends’ kids whom we haven’t seen since leaving Scotland.  Fun!  I’ve even posted a few pictures of my own family and got floods of  oohs and ahs.  Fun, fun!  I still wouldn’t call myself a full blown addict (yet), but I’ll admit I have a tab open for it pretty much any time I’m on the computer.

In my defense (hmm… is acknowledging the need for a defense an admission of guilt in itself?  Pretty much, I think.), I will say that in some ways, Facebook is a great timesaving device and a convenient way to get in touch with friends.  Many a playdate has been organized through Facebook, since it’s rare that I can be guaranteed a few quiet moments to make a phone call.  Facebook “chatting” is our main way of keeping in touch with at least one of our missionary friends,  and the status updates keep us in touch with many more dear friends than we would otherwise be able to keep tabs on.

Here are a few of what I see as the “dangers” of Facebook.  I’m *not* worried about stalkers or people pretending to be someone they’re not or anything like that.  Maybe I should be, but we’ve been using the internet to show off the kids to faraway friends and family for as long as we’ve had kids, so I guess I just have a comfort level with that. The dangers for me are much more real and present: 1.  That I would fall into the trap of neglecting my duties to my family in favor of spending time on the computer, and 2. That my motives for posting photos or updates would be somehow rooted in pride, and in a desire to “show off” what God has blessed me with as though I were responsible for any of it myself.  I’m sure there are others, but those are the two that I feel I have to wrestle with most strongly.  Maybe there are even others I ought to be wrestling with but haven’t realized yet.  And almost certainly these Facebook pitfalls apply as well to my time spent on this very blog!

Bearing that in mind, I don’t feel that Facebook is all bad.  As with so many other tools of this world that can be used by the enemy to keep people away from God, God in His sovereignty can still use them for His glory.  I love having so many friends at my fingertips to encourage and be encouraged by, and I love seeing what He’s done in the lives of people I had once lost touch with.

Oh, but the quizzes?  Well, I learned my lesson about those when I took one entitled “How many children should you have?” and was told that my personality is most suited to having an only child to dote on.  I guess I have three little girls going spare if anyone wants them.  (Kidding, kidding!  We’re totally keeping them!)

Now go see what my nay-saying husband has to say about it.  “Nay,” I imagine.

He Says, She Says Saturday: Baby Name Manifesto

I have been anticipating writing this post for weeks (ever since writing this one).  I have been making mental lists of all the facets of our baby name style and system.  I have been soul-searching on the topic of “what really matters” in a baby name.  I have been *so* excited to read what Trevor’s going to write today (I got to see his notes last weekend: I hope he shares all – you’ll be in for a real treat.)  And yet, as I sit here, I have no idea what to write.  Trying to contain in a single blog post all the hopes and dreams that are tied up in choosing a baby name for me… well, it’s a little like asking a theologian to write a 300-word essay on God.  I shall do my very best to be succinct, but I’m not making any promises.

I think what I love most about names is their inherent accessibility.  Any person can choose any name.  There are no price tags to consider, no fat content or carb grams to worry about, and (as long as you’re blessed as we are to have family members who more or less keep their opinions to themselves) it is a decision for just two people to make with very little red-tape.  I just love to imagine that the very best name for each of our children is out there, ours for the choosing, and we have only to find it and fall in love with it.

But with each new baby we name, there seem to be more strings attached, for better or for worse.  Could we name a daughter Ann after naming her sisters Philippa, Romilly and Beatrix? We could, but mightn’t she feel her name is just a little bit plain?  Or mightn’t they wish for the simplicity and ease of her name?  It wouldn’t be perfect, in any case.  Likewise, we could name her Katerina, but it would be obvious to us (although possibly not to everyone else; I realize no one thinks about this quite as deeply as I do) that while her sisters have British-flavored names, hers is a bit more exotic and European.  Not perfect.

Boys’ names pose a different challenge to us, mainly because we’ve never had to use one.  We’ve never really had to pin down exactly what our boy name style is, and I think  it could be quite different from our girl name style without seeming too out of step.  We could stick with longer, more unusual British names, sure.  We could also just as easily go with sturdier, more classic names for boys, and they’d still fit in just fine.  I think we could even go with underused Bible names for boys without anyone thinking, “Wow, didn’t see that one coming!”  (Incidentally, we have had a different boy name chosen for each of the girls, and our current frontrunner is different again.  Aren’t we fickle?)

So while the baby name world is still our oyster, the definition of perfect has become decidedly narrower with each baby we have named.  Our task now is to decide which rules or patterns are worth following, and which ones are better bent (or thrown out entirely) to accommodate a name that we both truly love in spite of its imperfections.

I am guessing Trevor’s list of rules will be rather longer than mine.  He tries to sneak new ones in all the time when he thinks I’m not paying attention.  The most recent is that “if a name has a nickname it should be the default full name for that nickname”, thus he will not consider Ted as a possible nickname for Edmund because “Ted is short for Theodore.”  He has titles for all of these rules and tosses them around as though they should carry sufficient weight to end the discussion of a given name on the spot.  I draw your attention to this fact because I think some of our friends and family may be under the impression that I am the driving force behind the insanity of our name deliberations.  Not so.  My husband (who, admittedly, was largely trained in nameology by me)  is by far the more neurotic one when it comes to sticking to the rules.  At least when it suits him.

If it were entirely up to me, these would be my priorities:

  1. We have to love it.  Plain and simple.  It’s sometimes hard to keep this a top priority, but it really does trump everything else.
  2. A name must have a solid history of use and be spelled correctly.
  3. A name should have a British vibe and/or a history of use in the UK.
  4. It should be at least fairly uncommon, although not necessarily as uncommon as the names we have chosen so far.
  5. It has to have accessible nicknames (the more options the merrier) that are not too much of a stretch from the full name.  (I’ve heard of a Pippa whose full name was Epiphany… that doesn’t so much work for me).
  6. At least one name (first or middle) should be connected to a family member or have other special meaning.
  7. It must be free from issues either with initials spelling unsavory words or with bad flow with our last name (names ending in -ia, like Amelia, tend to be a little problematic, for example).
  8. It would be really nice (although, I’m beginning to acknowldge, not completely necessary) if it started with a different letter than any of our other kids’ names and maybe even than our names.  I know.  It’s ridiculous.  But we’re both scientific types, and, mathematically speaking, if the names are to form a perfect set, they must be either all the same or all different.  One of those ships has  already sailed (thankfully… can you imagine if we had Pippa, Primrose and Patience?!?), so… well, I’m just saying it would be nice if it worked out that way.

If I sit here long enough, I will keep adding to this list, and that really wouldn’t be helpful at this point, so I’ll stop there.

So, if you feel like a challenge (and I hope you do!):  Now that you have read our criteria, what names for each gender seem absolutely perfect for our family?

(Have you read his yet?  Go read, but don’t forget to come back and leave me a comment!)

He Says, She Says Saturday: Homeschooling

(aka HSSSS:HS)

c. December 20, 2007

Pippa's first rendition of her own name. c. December 20, 2007

Well, you’ve waited a long time for an installment of your favorite husband and wife bloggy duo doing what they do best, so this week, we aren’t going to disappoint.  We are tackling possibly our biggest (and certainly most potentially controversial) topic yet.  Oh, yeah, and it’s timely, too!

We have just this very week begun the process of sticking a little toe in the pool of homeschooling, and we have no idea whether we’ll be spending the next who-knows-how-many years in the pool or just doing a quick lap, finding the water a little too chilly, and hopping right back out.  (Uh, sorry… metaphor taken way, way too far.)  Last night we ordered this pre-K curriculum for me to start with Pippa this school year.  At this point, we are planning to start her in public school for kindergarten next year, but we are open to being totally swept off our feet by our “experiment year” and deciding to stick with homeschooling for as long as we feel it is the best thing for her and for our family.

Homeschooling is something Trevor and I have thought about and talked about for longer than we’ve had children, but as the time to make a definite decision grew nearer and nearer, we have found ourselves with more questions than answers.  I thought that the more I looked into homeschooling, the more certain I would feel that it was a perfect fit for us.  It certainly does look good, and I see so many good reasons to do it, but I still see a few pretty good reasons not to do it, and that’s where I am right now.

The Pros:

  • I am a trained, certified teacher.  If I am going to be at home with children, why wouldn’t I be their teacher?  Why would I send my children off for someone else to teach, so that I could go and teach someone else’s children, all the while wishing I could be with my own instead?  I love the thought of being the one to witness those great Ah-ha! moments: learning to read, learning to add and subtract, learning how a transistor works in an LDR circuit (okay, so part of me is still thinking long term maybe).  Is that a selfish reason to homeschool?  Maybe.  Let’s move on.
  • For pre-school, it’s cheaper, even the way that we’re choosing to do it, which is at the more expensive end of the homeschool price range.  Unless this year is a total disaster, we are planning on using the same material to teach Romilly and Beatrix before they start school, too.  And the new one, come to think of it.  That’s less than $100 per kid.  Bargain.
  • Homeschooling would keep the girls primarily in an environment in which I control their influences.  I can see and deal with heart issues as they arise without having to wonder if new behaviors (or turns of phrase) have been picked up somewhere else or just from their own sinful little hearts (or learned from mine for that matter!)
  • Homeschooling , at its best, gives kids a foundation of loving to learn and sets them up to be lifelong self-teachers.  I really do believe this.  As much as I loved my public school experience (I truly did, and more on that will follow in the Cons list), I can look at who I am and know that I have been trained to be deadline driven and very motivated by the praise of others (read: grades).  Now that no one is requiring me to keep to a certain schedule or marking my performance, well… let’s just say I would not be a straight-A student anymore with my current syllabus of cooking, cleaning, and planning fun and enriching activities for my children.   Low B’s if I’m lucky, except for the cleaning – you already know about that.  A lot of that is probably my personality, and just plain human weakness, but I can’t help but think that that the qualities that I’ve seen in homeschooled adult friends (namely self-motivation and stick-to-itiveness) serve them very well in whatever they pursue in life.
  • No having to unteach and reteach the subjects that are being taught from an unbiblical point of view in schools.  I was amazed when I was a science teacher at just how pervasive the evolution mentality is.  The foundations are laid early, and in more topics than you could ever imagine evolutionistic ideas being relevant to.  But even the evolution can of worms is secondary to the implicit, relativistic no-one-is-right-no-one-is-wrong morality that colors how almost every subject is taught.  Schools make a great effort *not* to teach morals, but nature abhors a vaccuum, and in this age of political correctness, I absolutely believe children are getting the message loud and clear that “whatever I think is okay, is okay for me.”  And that’s *not* okay for me.

The Cons:

  • Clearly, I am not the most organized girl in the world.  I believe I can rise to the challenge of staying on top of things and keeping the necessary records, but it will be a challenge.  To that end, I will not, as I once thought I might, be doing Pippa’s pre-K year from scratch.  Yes, it might be cheaper and even more effective to write all my own lessons and get all or most of our books from the library.  Maybe I will get there someday if we stick with this, but in order to give this a fair shot at working, this year we are using a very structured pre-packaged curriculum that I have heard good things about from several people.
  • I am *not* going to list “lack of socialization” among my cons (I mention it here only because it seems to be everyone’s number one point against homeschooling), except to tell you why I don’t buy it.  Homeschooled kids are, in my experience, at ease with people of all ages because they have been living life with their families rather than being cooped up in the company of only children born the same year as them.  In the grand scheme of life, spending forty hours a week or so with people exactly your age and who have spent their lives (for the most part) living within a few miles of where you’ve spent yours is not a realistic scenario.  I’m not saying it’s damaging or that it’s a good reason *not* to send a child to public school, just that I don’t see socialization with peers to be the be-all-end-all that it’s made out to be.  What a wealth of wisdom and life experience there is to be gained from accompanying a parent on daily interactions with others: errands, church activities, visiting neighbors or elderly friends (hmm… maybe I should have listed this as a Pro…).  Not to mention that there are *ample* opportunities to get homeschooled kids together with other kids.  It just isn’t an issue.
  • But here is the one Con that continues to niggle at me and make me question the whole thing.  As Christians we are called to be salt and light to the world.  We are to be in the world but not of the world.  Our lives are mission fields.  At what age in the life of the young believer does all this come into effect?  I can safely say for my girls “not yet”, since I don’t believe any of them has truly understood the gospel yet, though we pray each day that they will.  But suppose, by God’s grace, Pippa at age nine is a growing, thriving young believer with a true sense of God’s purpose for her life?  At that point, I think I would want her to be in her mission field.  I would not want to deprive her of the faith strengthening (though trying) experience of seeing how the world lives and what makes us different as God’s children.  Nor would I want to deprive public schools of the (hopefully positive) influence of Christian children.  Junior high and high school were incredible times of growth in my own life.  In part because of the wonderful youth group God placed me in at the time, but also, I believe because it was a time of becoming aware of what others believed, and claiming my faith as my own.  I can remember discovering in middle school that a long time friend, raised Jewish, was now calling herself an atheist.  It shocked me to my core to see how the world had already pulled her away from what she had been raised to believe, and I wanted desperately to talk her out of it, to defend God’s glory somehow.   I tasted my first tastes of mocking and labelling, and I learned to cherish and cling to my faith.  More importantly, I know that even at such a young age, God is able to use a believer in the life of another, and I want that for my kids.  It’s hypothetical and probably a few years off, but therein lies my one glaring objection to homeschooling.  And I think it’s kind of a biggie.

I would absolutely love to hear anyone’s thoughts or experiences on the subject.  What decision did you or will you make for your own children and why?  What other arguments (for or against) have I overlooked?

Most of all, I’m looking forward to finding out what he says about it, and I’m sure you are, too!  Don’t let me keep you.

He Says, She Says Saturday: Top 5 Websites

I’m always a little hesitant to speak too highly of my favorite internet addictions, because they are just that, and I never want to be responsible for sucking someone else into the timewasting world of online fascinations.  With that in mind, at least a  couple of these will be of beneficial quality rather than just entertainment.  Not to mention, if you read my blog, then it’s a fair bet you already have a pretty rich internet life anyway.

1. iVillage.  I stumbled onto iVillage through a baby name messageboard there when I was expecting Romilly, and discovered a whole world of new moms and moms-to-be there.  What an incredible source of encouragement, advice, and increasingly friendship the women I have ‘met’ on these ‘boards’ have been to me since then.

2. Girl talk.  I have referred you to this blog about biblical womanhood several times before, but I really can’t say enough about it.  Carolyn Mahaney, wife of pastor CJ Mahaney, writes this blog  with her three grown daughters, Nicole Whitacre, Kristin Chesemore and Janelle Bradshaw.  Their combined wisdom is a constant source of encouragement and conviction to me.   God bless you, ladies!

3. The Baby Name Wizard.  Anyone who knows me (and probably a few people who don’t) knows that I have had a lifelong love of baby names.  Having my own babies to name has only intensified this love. When it comes to names, the Baby Name Wizard, Laura Wattenberg, wrote the book.  I was given my first copy of her book when I was pregnant with Romilly, but passed that one on to a friend in Scotland (who named her first daughter Lois and is now, I’m certain, coming up with an equally distinctive and surprising choice for her second child).  I think the copy I have now is my dear friend Megan’s, on loan from when we were deliberating over Bea’s name.  (I will get my own copy again, Meg, but the new edition is coming out soon, so maybe we should both just wait for that!)

But, oh yes, the website.  The website is not (much to my pleasant surprise) a rehashing of the book in a slightly different format.  It offers a fascinating blog (with such discussions that follow in the comments that it really ought to have a messageboard to go with it!) as well as the NameVoyager, a tool for tracing the popularity of a name or group of names through history.  And though it is not hosted on her website, it is worth mentioning Laura Wattenberg’s other internet project Nymbler.  This allows you to put in some favorite names or names of your own children, then it offers other names you may like based on your taste.  It is spookily accurate and fun for the whole family whether there is a real baby to name or not (trust me on that!)

4. IMDb.  How did we ever live without the Internet Movie Database? Life must have been so full of the frustration of watching a TV show, recognizing one of the actors playing a small one-time role, and never ever figuring out what other show or movie he was from.  I can’t imagine.  We have even missed having a laptop computer because it means we now have to pause what we’re watching (or wait until a commercial break) to find out who someone is.  But what it is even better for than finding out what an actor has previously been in, is when one of us (let’s just say me) immediately thinks we know who an actor is and can have the satisfaction of proving it.  Like the time I immediately recognized Ellen Greene, who played the mousy almost-elderly mother of serial killer Sylar in the show Heroes and who appeared in about two scenes total, as the blond bombshell Audrey (I) from 1986 movie musical Little Shop of Horrors, which I had seen only once about 20 years ago.  It was a fine moment, and we’ve had many like it thanks to IMDb.

5. FlyLady.  I can’t say I agree with everything on this website, but nothing else has ever motivated me to change my messy, disorderly ways like FlyLady has.  She offers a babystep appoach to taking contral of your home and ultimately many other aspects of your life as well.  Each day I get way too many several e-mails reminding me to change over my dishwasher first thing in the morning, to swish and swipe my bathroom, to set a timer and declutter a room for just 15 minutes a day, and to shine my kitchen sink before bed.  And it really does work.  If I do it.  If, if, if.

So there you have them, in no particular order, and they might even be different tomorrow if you asked me again.  Check out what his Top 5 are, too.  Some of them might surprise you!

Thanks to Megan for suggesting this topic idea for us (and for your copy of Wizard.  I will give it back, I promise.)

He Says, She Says Saturday: My First Job

First of all, apologies for the shockingly long time it’s been since our last HSSSS. I think we’re both wishing there was a non-weekend day that started with “S’, because blogging on a Saturday is not always the most convenient.

This week, we’re taking a little stroll down memory lane to our first taste of proper paid employment. I’m not sure what he’s typing about over there, but I’m going to skip the babysitting jobs and cut right to the waitressing gig I had the summer that I was sixteen.

“Waitressing” sounds like a very glamorous job compared to what I actually did. This was no five-star restaurant I worked at, but a retirement village dining hall. There were no tips. The folks there liked it to feel like a five-star restaurant, so we had to wear black dresses and white aprons and be on our best behavior at all times. This was no small feat considering the average age and high turnover of the wait-staff: by the end of my three or four months there I was one of the most experienced servers on staff!

Most of the residents were truly lovely. They’d flirt with us and be all sweet, maybe in an effort to score some extras besides what was on their little check-the-boxes menu (they knew we had buttermilk in that kitchen, even if it didn’t say so on the menu, and boy, did they love them some buttermilk!)

But occasionally, just occasionally, you’d get a cranky one. There were a few of the old ladies that no one ever wanted to find seated in their section (never the men: they were all sweetie pies. I wonder why…) I remember once on a particularly busy and fraught dinner shift I had a corner table of eight or nine. I made the fatal error of reaching across one lady’s plate to clear away her bread plate. Quick as a hawk swooping down on its prey, this woman had her fork poised to stab me in the hand, and said, “Don’t you reach across my plate!” I had no idea a woman that age could move so fast (or that I could, for that matter!)

Apart from gaining some insight into the later years of life, and purposing to someday become one of the lovely, joyful old ladies and not one of the cranky ones, I also picked up the following job skills (just in case anyone reading this wants to hire me):

  • Balancing a tray on my shoulder with one hand. Never did learn to lift it right up over my head to fit through a tight spot though. A few of the girls could do that.
  • Making cocktail sauce. (Trade secret: it’s just ketchup and horseradish. Who knew?)
  • Folding cloth napkins into clever shapes. Hmmm… not sure I still remember how to do this, actually, but I’m sure it’s like riding a bike.
  • Discerning which dinner rolls and muffins were untouched after the tables were cleared, so that we could snag a bite or two before tossing everything in the trash in the dish room. Yes, I really did. I was young and stupid, and everyone was doing it. The shift was 3:30 – 7 PM, so by the end of that, after looking at all that food, it’s a wonder we weren’t taking it right off the tables as we cleared them.

Come to think of it, it was not at all a bad training ground for the job I do now. Dealing with mostly sweet, occasionally cranky customers. Check. Improvising meals when correct ingredients are scarce. Check. Performing amusing tricks with dinner napkins. Check. Stealing uneaten food from the plates of others. Check, check, check!

Now go check out what his first job was. I think I know…

He Says, She Says, Saturday: The Perfect Holiday

Growing up, I really only knew two types of holiday (let’s say vacation from now on, for the sake of the American-speaking vast majority of my readership): shore vacations with my mom, which consisted of days at the beach and evenings at the arcade, and Pocono vacations with my dad, which consisted of days swimming in the pond in my aunt’s backyard and evenings looking at tractors.  The first time I ever did any real sight-seeing was in my senior year of high school when I got to go to Paris with the marching band (piccolo, in case you were wondering.)  I guess those three more or less represent the three main genres of vacation, and to be perfectly honest, I have no favorite among the three.  I love them all.

On any type of vacation, be it lounging in the sun, roughing it in the mountains, or getting to know a foreign land, these are my priorities:

  • Being with people I enjoy.  Nowadays, Trevor fits the bill very nicely, but I remember one of my favorite things about Pocono trips being game time with Aunt Janie after dinner.  She taught me to play Spit, and we used to laugh so hard my stomach would ache.
  • Not having (as much) responsibility.  This has been a tricky one lately, since we usually opt for self-catering places where we still have to pack lunches and cook dinner at least some nights, and anywhere that the girls come with me diapers and discipline follow along.  But having Trevor home from work is always a blessing, and being somewhere where the girls are entertained and we get a chance to chat is a huge bonus.
  • Not having too many things on the agenda.  I like a leisurely pace when I’m on vacation.  Trevor, not so much.  See next point.
  • Having some things on the agenda.  I’m not a planner, and if it were up to me, I’m pretty sure I would squander my whole vacation sleeping in and enjoying our accommodation and not actually seeing or doing anything. This is one of the areas in which Trevor really makes up for my weakness (and maybe, a little bit, I keep him from trying to make us visit seven or eight different tourist attractions in the same day – it’s in his blood, he can’t help it.)

I’ll leave you with some photos of what was easily my favorite vacation ever: our trip to Kyle of Lochalsh in the Highlands of Scotland, overlooking the Isle of Skye.  I was 20 weeks pregnant with Pippa at the time, and it was there, in front of the fire in our little cottage, that Trevor first felt her kick.  What a precious, precious time.

Thanks to Lindsay for this topic suggestion, and don’t forget to click on over to read what he says about it.