Category Archives: Mommy Musings…


Things have been slow here at Chansen Academy for the last few months.  It’s been nearly a month since I posted anything on this blog…  🙁  I even have a couple of posts that are nearly done that have just been sitting…  In July and August, between the heat and early pregnancy malaise, my motivation level was pretty low.  So we were reading books, playing outside, and enjoying summer.

I started September with the best of intentions, but as the month progressed, I have been encountering challenges with distraction…  I know I want to homeschool my kids, but I still don’t have a clear vision of what I want that to look like.  How to make our life work financially while we homeschool also seems to be a nagging question.  Over the last few weeks, we have had several visitors, as well as cut-backs at Mic’s job and the possibility of going back to a full-time position for me.  This sort of distraction and uncertainty throws me for a loop and I lose focus and direction…  Fortunately, since the kids are young, this doesn’t negatively impact their education.  However, the time will come that losing focus could be disastrous.  How will I learn to stay on track?  I think for me the key will be visualizing the ‘big picture’ and keeping it in mind, despite the challenges that WILL arise.  There will always be a myriad of things to draw us away from our plans.  Clear, well-defined goals that we really want to achieve will help us stay on track.

So…  now to define those goals…  Mic and I have spent a fair amount of time discussing that lately.  We have decided that we really want to have property where the kids can roam and we can have a huge garden and lots of animals.  That is a huge priority for us.  In my mind’s eye, I can see a puppy, a goat, places to build things, and lots of dirt to dig in.  I need to carry that image in my mind and use it to guide my decisions on a daily basis.

In the past I’ve seen ‘dream’ or ‘future’ boards, where people put up images and other things that remind them of what they want to accomplish.  Posting these boards in a prominent place, where they will be seen often, helps people stay on track.  I need to make one!

Questions about jobs and kids remain and things will always pop up, so there will still be uncertainty and distraction as we move forward.    Knowing that homeschooling and having property are our priorities will help me stay focused on the things that need to be done.  Now to get organized and get busy!

What helps you stay on track and focused despite all the distractions that come your way?

Technology… the Downfall of the Summer Reading Program

We just finished our third year of participating in our local library’s summer reading program.  When I realized Lala could participate three summers ago, I was thrilled.  Totally, ridiculously tickled at being part of the fun.  Almost silly actually…  🙂  Sadly, this year was a total bust for me.  What changed you ask?  Well…  the summer reading program went “online” this year…

The first two years, we were given a sheet with pictures to color to mark off the books we had read.  As they hit various numbers of books read, the kids could come in for little prizes.  If they read the number of books required to complete the program, they were entered in the ‘grand prize’ drawing at the end of the summer.  If they read more, they qualified for more entries.  The kids were absolutely tickled to get a coupon for a free ice cream cone, a pencil, a sticker, a free book…  And I was delighted to tell them over and over that they earned that by reading books.  Last year, at the end of summer ice cream party, Lala won a backpack with paper and art supplies.  She was thrilled.

This year, the program was run online.  I created a “parent” account and then added accounts for the kids.  The system awarded points for each minute of reading, as well as for attending library events.  I had to enter the number of minutes, as well as the title and author of each book, for both kids.  Kids earned “badges” for attending events and hitting various levels of “points.”


To complete the program, the little kids had to accumulate 720 points, or the equivalent of reading 20 minutes a day for 36 days.  The program lasted 57 days.  And you could earn additional points for attending events.  All the events we attended were worth 20 points each.

I sent a message to the library about half-way through the program, because I was confused as to whether the kids still earned the little prizes along the way.  The response indicated they had moved away from the ‘trinket’ type prizes to things they thought would more directly motivate reading: badges, online games, and drawings.  The first 200 people to sign up for the program got a prize, there was a drawing part-way through if you had enough points, a drawing for those who completed the program, and door prizes at the end of summer party.  The prizes they offered were pretty cool.

The program kicks off with a pancake breakfast, which is a lot of fun. Unfortunately, we were out of town and couldn’t go, nor could we be among the first to sign up.  We also didn’t earn enough points before the first drawing to be eligible.  And in the end, I grew so discouraged, that we didn’t complete the program or even go to the end of summer party.  It was scheduled for earlier in the day and indicated food would be available, but wasn’t billed as an ice cream social.

It probably sounds like I was only in the program for the prizes…  And I have to admit they are a fun addition to the activities…  What got me though was the lack of interaction for my kids.  They couldn’t color their sheets and take them in to get a prize.  I had to enter the info.  And the badges were meaningless to them.  Earning points did unlock some online games, but my kids are mostly too young for those kinds of things…  I think it is probably likely that older kids enjoyed it a lot, but for little ones…  it seemed to me like there was little point.

I’m sure the library has a lot of good reasons for making the changes to the program.  And I’m sure it worked well for many others.  Personally, it was disappointing.  I found it too time consuming to do all the “data entry.”  I couldn’t just remember how many books we read at bedtime or even just the titles, but had to corral them up and record the authors as well.  I know…  probably just me being grumpy…  🙂  Anyways…  not sure if we will participate at all next year…  The kids are still always begging me to read books to them, so the experience this summer didn’t really have any effect on that, thankfully!  We did enjoy attending a couple of “story time” events that featured people from our local fire department, sheriff’s office, and National Guard.  I just miss the joy and enthusiasm I felt about it during the previous two summers.  I’m certainly not “anti-technology.”  I’m just not sure it is always an improvement on things…

Did you participate in a summer reading program?  I hope you enjoyed it if you did!  We are certainly still reading!

The First Day of School…

Monday was the first day of school for many of the kids in our neighborhood.  Between the noisy bustle of a neighbor’s landscaper and everyone loading up to take their kids to school, it sounded like a NASCAR race out on the street in front of my house.  There are approximately a dozen kids on our block, attending 5 different schools.

My kids slept through it…  Lala would be heading off to pre-kindergarten this year, if we were planning to send her to public school.  I guess pre-k doesn’t actually start until next week.  I have been thinking about what impact there will be on all of us, if these kids never participate in a ‘first day of school’ experience.  We’ve taken a few cute pictures for their first days of co-op preschool, but co-op is nothing like being dropped off to face a new teacher, new peers, and new challenges.

Two of our neighbors started middle school this year.  I remember starting ‘junior high.’  It was terrible.  We were dumped from the relative peace of elementary school into a world of lockers and rotating schedules of classes, limited time to get between classes, the ‘horrors’ of ‘dressing down’ for P.E… the changes were staggering.  I hated it and within a few weeks refused to go back.  That lead to a lot of changes in school for me, though that is a tale for another day.

Will my kids ‘miss out’ on something by not participating in public school?  I think the answer is yes, they most certainly will.  Some of the things they ‘miss out’ on will be fun, most will not be.  The benefits they will gain will far outweigh the loss.  It’s my job to see to that!

On Love and Loss, Hope and Happiness

One year ago this week, I suffered a miscarriage.  Wait… That doesn’t sound right… I lost a baby… We experienced a pregnancy loss… None of these words seem to fit…  I was 11 weeks along in the pregnancy.  The child would have been born around the first of February of this year.

You can miss someone you never met…

Last fall, I read an article that talked about how common miscarriage is and how by not talking about it women feel alone, guilty, and lacking in support.  I didn’t save the article and can’t recall exactly what it said…  but it stuck in my mind…  In trying to find it, I came across many articles.  I think this may be the one I read back in the fall…  Definitely worth a read…

I also came across several other great articles that are worth looking at…  Here is just a small sample… – “Keep that sonogram picture, the one that proves she had a heartbeat once upon a time, the one that says she lived. You’ll be glad you did.”  I wasn’t given an ultrasound picture, though I had two transvaginal ultrasounds.  Wasn’t even treated kindly by the ultrasound tech. – “Talking about the fear of miscarriage while actually in the first trimester feels a bit taboo, as if we’re tempting fate or claiming the inevitable. If we’re really honest, sharing your pregnancy at all during the first trimester is a bit taboo itself (and it seems as if the number of people who wait to share their pregnancies has grown even in the past 12 years since my first pregnancy). I’m not criticizing anyone’s personal decision to wait—and I think it would be fun to keep it a secret that you share only with your husband, even if there is no way I can personally pull that off for more than 24 hours—but I do disagree with the cultural pressure to wait to announce a pregnancy in case you miscarry.” – “After telling a few friends what had happened, many of them shared that they had also suffered a miscarriage. Some had several, yet no one had ever talked about it. There is a misconception that miscarriages are rare, when the reality is that 1 in 4 pregnancies end in miscarriage.” – “As many as 20 percent of all known pregnancies end in a miscarriage. And yet, many people who haven’t been directly affected by pregnancy loss seem to think the rate is somewhere closer to 5 percent. That’s a staggering difference between public perception and reality. Especially when it’s such a painful reality for so many women and men.” “In generations past, pregnancy alone was something of a taboo topic. It was shocking just for Lucille Ball to appear pregnant on her own television show. Television executives expected audiences to be scandalized by the physical manifestation of her marital sex. If the mere image of a pregnant woman was taboo, imagine how that extends to losing the baby.”

At the first ultrasound, at about 9 weeks, there was a baby and a faint heartbeat, but the measurements were only showing about 6 weeks gestation.  I was basically told ‘I must be confused about the dates.’  We cautiously told a few people about the baby, but I resisted a ‘big’ announcement and making it ‘Facebook official.’  Two weeks later, I started spotting.  Though the spotting stopped shortly after it began, I was offered the opportunity to come in for another scan.  A second ultrasound showed no growth and no heartbeat.  The ultrasound tech said nothing to me and we were unceremoniously dumped back in the waiting room.  My OB was on vacation that week, so I waited to see someone else to get the results.  I had met the other doctor once before in another venue.  She was kind and commented that she was glad I had my 1 and 3 year olds to hug.  She asked if this pregnancy had been planned.  We went home.  I still felt pregnant and didn’t start bleeding for another 24 hours.  It took several days before the pregnancy symptoms ceased.  I was fortunate that I didn’t need any further medical intervention.

We are told not to tell anyone we are pregnant until we are past the ‘safe’ time, whether that be an early ultrasound, the end of the first trimester, or some other event.  I remember my mother not telling anyone she was pregnant with my brother until she was way past 3 months along.  I totally understand the desire to keep the news of a pregnancy to oneself for a while.  Sometimes treasuring your ‘secret’ and enjoying the knowledge of something special without opening it up to others is part of the celebration.  But, not discussing something out of fear or cultural prohibition is disheartening and harmful.

This actually was not my first miscarriage.  My first occurred at 5 weeks, the month before I became pregnant with my son.  So, 4 pregnancies… 2 healthy babies, 2 miscarriages…

I have thought about the conversation around early pregnancy and miscarriage for several months now and am sharing all this in the hopes that my small voice will help nudge that conversation towards one that is more open and supportive.  If you don’t tell anyone about the pregnancy, who do you talk to about its loss…?

On that note, I will cautiously say that I am currently 8 weeks along with another pregnancy. It’s a strange place to be… Excited but cautious… Hopeful but anxious…  So it goes with life.  In the upcoming weeks, there will be blood tests for genetic screenings and ultrasounds to look at heartbeats and other physical indications.  These events will bring us some comfort, but as is always true in pregnancy, we won’t ‘really’ feel better until we hold the baby in our arms.  And even then, we all know that loss is always a possibility.  So, here is to loving and losing… here is to hoping…. for health and happiness…  January and February will bring the birthdays of our daughter and son.  We hope it will also bring the ‘birth-day’ of another child, another much loved and wanted addition to our family.  Here’s to hope!

Beginning the Third Year of Chansen Academy

Two years ago today, we observed ‘opening day’ for Chansen Academy!


Though I am sure some might criticize and others might laugh at my ‘serious’ approach to homeschooling, I am doing what works for me and my family.  I am inspired by the concept of child-led learning and hope to create an environment that will allow my children to explore the things that they are passionate about.  For myself, I need structure or I won’t accomplish anything.  I don’t expect that my kids will attend an Ivy League School, but I do want them to have the skills they need and enough belief in themselves that they can achieve whatever they dream.

When we started on this journey, Mic and I agreed that unless we were going to do a phenomenal job of homeschooling our kids, we should put them in public or private school and spare ourselves the effort of educating them ourselves.  That may sound like a tall order for some, but to strive for excellence is extremely motivating to me.  We all have to do what works for us.  🙂  I am really hoping to be able to get some ‘Chansen Academy’ swag ordered up in the near future.  hehe

I also find comfort in traditions, so I am trying to start some for our family.  Tonight, after Mic gets home, we will be taking a ‘first day of school’ picture and measuring the kids to see how much they have grown in the last 6 months.  Lala has been begging us to measure her for a couple of weeks.  I know she and Tbear have both grown a lot!

If we were participating in the school system, Lala would start ‘pre-kindergarten’ this fall.  My goal for the next 6 months is to make sure she has learned and grown enough to meet our state’s ‘kindergarten readiness’ requirements.  I have looked through them briefly and believe that we are already nearly there.  Our focus is going to be on the alphabet.

I have so many things I want to do with the kids…  🙂  Here is an overview of my plans for the next 6 months.  (The links below are Amazon affiliate links.  If you use them to make any purchases, we will receive a small commission.  For more information, please see our Legal Stuff page.  Links will open in new tabs.)

I know this probably seems like a lot…  I am curious to see how far we get with all of it…  Part of the reason I started the Academy so ‘early’ was to give myself time to read and learn and get into a groove before it mattered very much to the kids.   They are happy as long as we are doing fun projects.  🙂  I’m sure some of these things will fall by the wayside and others will be added.  That’s part of the fun of homeschooling!

I will be adding some separate posts about many of these topics.  I am especially excited about the Family History Project!  I hope you will continue on this journey with us!  I am sure we will all learn and grow as we go.  🙂

To My Husband On Father’s Day

Today we celebrate your sixth Father’s Day since we found out we were going to have our first baby.  You are an amazing father!  Since our first child was born, you have proudly taken on diaper duty whenever you are around.  That in and of itself makes you unique!

You cheerfully head off to work every morning, often leaving me sleeping from the exhaustion of chasing our energetic children all day and dealing with them at night, whether you got enough sleep or not.  Although I know you hate to be away, you persevere through the challenges and heartache.  Our kids eagerly wait for you to come home, ready to tell you about their day and ask you to repair anything that is broken because Daddy can fix anything.  😉  They could hardly wait to give you the cards they made you for Father’s Day!

You have never missed a pregnancy or well-baby appointment.  You tell me I am doing a great job, even when the house is a mess and  the kids are still in their pajamas when you come home.  You comfort me when I cry and laugh with me when we celebrate.  You treasure our daughter, encouraging her to help you with home repairs and dance.  You are the model she will measure those she might choose to spend her life with against.  I fervently hope she finds someone who treats her as well as you treat me.  You adore our son, happily joining him in playing with balls, trucks, and babies.  You are confident this will help him grow to be an amazing man, and perhaps dad, just like you.

We have had so many amazing adventures together, both before the kids and since they were born.  I am looking forward to many more with you!  I know we will encounter challenges and experience  wonder, together.  🙂

I am blessed with a home full of creatures to love and who love me, toys to step on, rolling objects to trip over, messes to clean up, laundry to wash, diapers to change, and more joy than I could have ever imagined possible,  I’m so glad I chose you to share my life and children.  They are amazing people, thanks in large part to the wonderful example you set for them in caring for both them and me. Hugs to the supervisor of bath time and kisses to the steward of the jammies!

Happy Father’s Day my love!

Fun and Flowers at Lala’s First Ballet Recital!

It’s been nearly two weeks since Lala’s first ballet recital…  I meant to post about it right away, but never got to it in the hubbub of the last couple of weeks. 🙁  First of all, let me say… she did wonderfully!  Waited patiently back stage and then went and performed with her class.  Way to go!  I think it was an experience for all of us…

The challenge began with a request for make-up and curled hair…  Two things I rarely, if ever, even do for myself. I didn’t even own any make-up.  (You can check out the post about my ‘angst’ here.  🙂 )  A dear friend read my post and made a couple of great suggestions.  She pointed out that this was an opportunity to learn about ‘standing out from the crowd’ and a chance for Lala to decide what she would like to do.  I was so hung up on the ‘make-up’ that my thoughts hadn’t gelled, so this advice was perfect.  Thank you!  I sat down with Lala and asked her how she wanted to look. She wanted make-up…

After giving it some thought, I decided the Dollar Tree store might solve my problem…  Lala and I ventured over and picked out the necessary supplies… Eye shadow, blush, mascara, lip gloss, and curlers.

We also found some cool nail polish and picked out one to go with her recital costume and a couple more for fun later. 😉

We did a trial run with the make-up the day before the big event…  And put her hair in curlers before bed…

And painted her fingernails… She sat patiently through the whole thing.

The next morning the curlers came out and a fancy dress went on…

Since we had a 30 minute drive to the recital venue, we waited on the make-up and costume until we arrived.  I think the final product was tolerable for a first effort from this amateur ‘dance mom.’  😉

After we got her all ‘done up,’ we ventured back stage to add her feathery hair piece.  She was lined up with her class to wait for her number, while I went out to join Mic and Tbear.  The mom who I had told at Lala’s class that I didn’t even own make-up happened to be standing there.  She made eye contact and said, ‘You did a good job, mom.’  🙂  I really appreciated the support!

Tbear did not find much of interest in sitting to watch the dancing…  Poor daddy!

I snuck out to take a peek at Lala back stage…  I couldn’t help myself.  I stayed where she couldn’t see me…  She was calmly waiting. Then it was her turn to dance…  The front row was open, so I slipped down to record her performance. She did awesome!

I went back stage to ‘collect’ her when she was done. She was supposed to go back on stage for the finale. I wanted her to see part of the show, so we went and sat in the theater for a bit. She didn’t really want to go back on stage, but I cajoled her into going.  And it was over…!  Whew!

Mic had gone to the store before the kids woke up and got a huge bouquet of flowers for her. She was tickled pink!  We nearly lost Tbear in the crowd, but Mic grabbed him.  They were both so excited they wouldn’t hardly even stand still for a picture!

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Lala told us she had fun. I think the giant bouquet made the experience even better. 🙂 I’m not sure what the future will hold with dance for us, but I’m glad Lala was able to enjoy a fun dance experience.  Another awesome living and learning experience for all of us!

Where Did the First Half of June Go?

Wow!  Today is the 15th of June!  I haven’t posted a blog update in two weeks!  It’s amazing how time flies…  Mic took a few days off for our anniversary, we started a house project, Lala had her ballet recital, then we headed out of town, tagging along with Mic for a work conference…  Whew!  I sat down to write several times, but kept getting interrupted or distracted…  I have missed posting!  Mic headed back to his office today and it’s time to get back in the groove!

I am planning to spend the remainder of the month wrapping up a few things, organizing the house a bit, and getting ready to start some new things in July.  Though I plan to homeschool year round, I have decided to ‘finish our year’ in June and start a ‘new year’ in July – whatever that means…  hehe…  It makes no difference to the kids, but I need some sort of routine/schedule/plan for my own sanity.  I have discovered that I don’t get anything done if I don’t have a plan laid out for myself…  as shown by two weeks without a blog post!

I’m excited for the ‘new year’ and will be looking to add a few things to our activities.  Stay tuned for more about violin, Minecraft, French, family history project, and…  who knows!  Yay!  So many fun things on the horizon!  I hope you will join us on this continuing learning journey!


Preparing for ‘Mommy’s First Ballet Recital’

Today I watched Lala’s final rehearsal for her first ballet recital. She’s only been taking classes since February, so her skills aren’t earth shattering, but it’s still very cute to watch her dance.  We received a sheet with all the details for the performance this Saturday. I followed up with the teacher after class for a ‘mini-tutorial’ on how this will go, since I have never gone to a dance recital, whether as a child, parent, or spectator…

Lala is excited. She has a new leotard and tutu. When we were talking about the recital earlier and I asked her about performing on stage, she said ‘Yes, like I did at the other place,’ recalling her first public performance a few weeks ago. I think she is going to do great. Me, on the other hand…  😉

Growing up I didn’t participate in many ‘typical’ extracurricular activities.  I played piano in a couple of recitals, but that was about it. We skipped the performance for the kids’ Parent and Tot gymnastics class last year. It was going to cost close to $100 for them to participate…

I am uncertain about this recital, but have laid out the cash for the recital fee and the appropriate outfit. I am struggling a little though…  $60 for a 4-year old to flit around on a stage for a few minutes seems a little off to me. But, maybe it’s just me…

I knew the costume info we received a few weeks ago included the instructions that hair is to be curled…  I rarely curl my hair, do not own curlers, and don’t know that Lala’s fine, straight hair will even hold a curl. (Mine won’t… though I do recall a few interesting perm experiences when I was younger…)  I asked a couple of the other moms what that meant before class today.  They indicated the girls’ hair should be left down, curled, and pinned back on one side, prepared for a headpiece.  When I expressed my concerns that this wouldn’t work, they recommended a curling iron or ‘pink curlers.’  My grandmother had some of those.  I have a vague recollection that my mom did too.  I wonder if she still does…  I really doubt it.  She doesn’t live close enough for me to get them from her for this though, even if there were still some around her house.  For some reason, I am really surprised people still use them!  A quick Amazon search reveals there are many options available…  uh-oh…  😉

Today, the info also included instructions that all dancers should wear make-up. I own a couple of lipsticks…  that’s it…  My mom has rarely worn make-up and I was never taught about it, so I have probably worn make-up twice in my life (thank you wanna-be teen make-overs).  For my wedding, I wore only lipstick and nail polish…  I have absolutely no clue about make-up…  I chuckled about this with another of the waiting moms and she explained that the lights wash out the girls’ faces, told me what she uses for her daughter (Thank you so much for the tips!  Like I said, I’m clueless…), and advised ‘Time to go shopping.’  I’m certainly not upset about any of this and understand the reasons for it all. I’m just not sure that buying make-up for this event makes sense to me. I think I am just in a different place…

I am delighted that we have been able to provide ballet classes for Lala and tickled she is having fun.  Her teacher is wonderful and provides a great ‘princess’ experience every week.  Watching her dance brings tears to my eyes.  I sit in the crowded little waiting room with the other parents (yes, mostly moms…  but there are some dads!), and watch my daughter as best I can.  I feel joyful.  And I wonder…  Why do we sit here, craning our necks to see through the narrow doorway?  Paying for our kids to get some exercise, but sitting motionless…  (Though when I bring Tbear along I often spend the time trying to keep him off the ‘dance floor’…)  We have an obesity problem in this country…  why don’t parents and kids participate together?  Wouldn’t that be cool?  I try to make small talk with the other moms.  Some are friendly, but many seem a little stand-offish…  I kind of feel like I did in junior high when I wasn’t one of the ‘cool kids.’  It’s strange to me that watching dance class brings back that feeling.  Do other people think these things?

I am also a little confused by the costs for the end of year performance.  We have to buy special outfits for the class.  And then buy other outfits that will only be worn once for the recital.  It’s the ‘worn once’ part that gets me.  It’s bad enough with a wedding dress, but for a recital…  I understand it, but I don’t….   I guess it is just another of the many conundrums of adulthood.  I think it’s obvious that I am out of my element.  I am looking forward to the recital on Saturday.  We’ll have to figure out how to smuggle a little bouquet of flowers to the venue for our little dancer.  Now I’m off to buy some make-up…  and maybe some curlers…  🙂

The Adventures of The Ninja and the Jungle Gym

As a toddler streaks across the room in hot pursuit of a fancy electronic device that has been inadvertently left unsupervised on the corner of the sofa, a ninja swoops out of the darkness and snatches the device from the hands of certain demise…er…  stickiness…  Mom for the win!

As a preschooler begs to show her friends the amazing gymnastics skills she has perfected, a jungle gym appears with outstretched arms to provide support for monkey flips and leaps from great heights…  Dad for the save!

Parents are not given enough credit for their amazing skills.  We may look like we are boring, slow, and exhausted, but we are capable of amazing feats…  We can hear the sound of a child noiselessly wrapping a cat in a blanket and locking it in the dog crate…  with the dog…  We feel prickles up our necks when a child in the other room begins to contemplate scaling the entertainment center to interact directly with the television… We wake instantly from a dead sleep when a small child moans in their sleep…

Did we receive special training to hone these instincts?  No!  All our training has been on the job… the most intense on-the-job training possible…  We have learned to take the heat and emerge from the fire stronger…  Sometimes we stumble…  Sometimes exhaustion overwhelms us…  But we continue to do our best and fight through the battles…  We will survive…  We will thrive!  And so will our mini-ninjas and jungle gym climbers.

One day when our children don their own ninja garb or stand like a jungle gym to propel their own small child to the sky, they will realize they learned from the masters.

From Mic and I to all the amazing moms and dads out there…  Embrace your inner ninja…  Stand as tall and strong as the jungle gym…  Never doubt the amazing skills you bring to this task, challenge, and adventure of raising children…. You rock!