Yup, it is official!

My new Throwing Marshmallows blog is officially ready! I am still straightening up a bit, but it is time to get blogging again!

Please come join me!

Posted in Blog Stuff | 1 Comment

The Things You Say As a Mom

Sometimes I am amazed to hear the things that come out of my mouth as a mom. For example:

Jason, please stop eating Kyle’s legos…

What makes it even more wonderful is that this is the second night that I have said this…

In other news, I am still working on getting my old blog posts migrated over to the new Throwing Marshmallows. Hopefully it will be up and running soon! I will be sure to let you know…

Posted in Quotes, Really Stupid Things The Elms Boys Argue About | 2 Comments

Changes are afoot…

I mentioned earlier that I had been good about not starting a new creative endeavor before finishing my photobook. So of course now while I am waiting for the book to be delivered (it has been shipped!) I have had time to start playing around.

So if I am a bit scarce around here for awhile, it is for a good reason. I have decided to make a leap and have registered the ThrowingMarshmallows.com domain. I am currently working at getting the new blog up and running (and getting my old posts moved over).

I will most definitely miss homeschooljournal (you can’t get any better than Andrea and Ron!) but I will still be around, obviously.

As soon as things are more finalized, I will let you know!

Stay tuned…

Posted in Blog Stuff | Comments Off

Diplomacy or Appeasement?

I am not a fan of Chris Matthews by any stretch of the imagination, but even blowhards can get something right sometimes.

Today, he had conservative radio host Kevin James on his show to talk about President Bush’s comment which compared Obama to Nazi appeasers (choosing guests who do nothing but shout is one reason why I usually do not like his show). What followed, I have to admit, was extremely enjoyable.

MATTHEWS: You don’t know what you’re talking about, Kevin. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Tell me what Chamberlain did wrong.

JAMES: Neville Chamberlain was an appeaser, Chris. Neville Chamberlain was an appeaser, all right? […]

MATTHEWS: I’ve been sitting here five minutes asking you to say what the president was referring to in 1938 at Munich.

JAMES: I don’t know.

MATTHEWS: You don’t know, thank you.

But it got even better. Matthews rebuked James (and Bush) for “being blank slates of history”:

You don’t understand there’s a difference between talking to the enemy and appeasing. What Chamberlain did wrong, most people would say, is not talking to Hitler, but giving him half of Czechoslovakia in 1938. That’s what he did wrong. Not talking to somebody. Appeasement is giving things away to the enemy.

You can see a video here.

This type of political rhetoric drives me crazy…when all else fails, compare the opponent to Nazis or Nazi appeasers. And people wonder why we can’t have a real public conversation about real issues.

Not to mention, since when it is a crime to talk about diplomacy? If you are not willing to talk, then how can you expect to ever make progress?

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/mogmcE33KeY" width="425" height="350"/]

Posted in Politics | 5 Comments

Living Forever

OK, so I got a real kick out of this one…

Write a wise saying and your name will live forever.

- Anonymous

Posted in Quotes | 3 Comments

Night Not Fit for Man Nor Beast

The rain started again, mid-afternoon and has been getting steadily stronger. It is so bad that Ellie is refusing to leave the garage. She keeps standing by the door, but when we open it, all she does is run around near the garage door…she won’t set a foot outside. Can’t say I blame her…it is coming down in sheets.

I even carried her out under my umbrella, hoping that once we got out she might be ok. But she immediately high tailed it back inside. Let’s hope that she can last until tomorrow morning. Of course that is assuming that the rain stops by tomorrow morning! Hmmm…just checked the forecast and they are calling for 90% chance of rain tomorrow…so it is not looking good…

I have a feeling that my rain gauge is going to be overflowing tomorrow. Especially since we have not emptied it from two days ago.

Here’s hoping that we do not float away overnight…

Posted in Ellie, Life | 2 Comments

Cross One Thing Off

I finally get to cross one thing off my “big” to-do list (as opposed to my daily ongoing to-do list). I have finally finished my first Blurb photo book!

One of my Christmas presents to our parents was an IOU for a great photo book of the boys. I had planned on doing a fairly easy to pull together book from QOOP but then around Thanksgiving I discovered Blurb and realized that even though it would take more time to pull together, I just had to do it.

What I love about Blurb is the variety of layouts that you can choose for your book. In most of the other photo books that I had looked at, you pretty much just got to choose how many pictures on a page, maybe a few captions and that was it. Blurb’s layouts give you far more flexibility than that (and if you know photoshop, you can even design your own layouts). The layout options make it really stand above the crowd as far as photobooks. It became much more of a creative effort, as opposed to merely a compilation of photos.

The free software was very easy to use (although it is a resource hog). I am currently uploading my completed book and will order 1 sample copy and hopefully if all goes well, will be able to order the ones for our parents really soon. I can’t wait and am a bit nervous. It is one thing to see it on the screen, another thing to see it in print!

I had not planned on it taking quite this long, but between things like Christmas, birthdays, homeschooling, planning two seminars, getting a new laptop and other stuff, life happens I guess. I will say that I was good…I have been wanting to move on to another creative project I have in mind, but I made myself finish this before starting something new.

I will say that I really enjoyed this process…it was hard for me to consider it done…I kept finding more edits and adjustments to make. I am sure that next time I will do some things differently. But it is done and ordered, so now all I can do is wait and see how it turns out!

Posted in Fun Stuff, Photography | 4 Comments

More Rain


Whew. When it rains it pours! We have actually been having quite a nice spring, but today we were completely deluged with over 4 inches. A couple of weekends ago we got 5.5 inches in one day. Our new rain guage is getting quite a workout. I love the design…as the gage fills up, the blue plastic section floats up, so you can tell how much rain has fallen by how much of the blue section is extended. Which actually makes it much easier for me to get a general feel for how much rain we have gotten by looking out the window (of course it is more fun to send the boys outside to read it!)

Of course it could be worse (Fredricksburg is only 1 hour south of us…luckily it appears that most of the homeschoolers I know from the area have come through with minimal damage).


The boys really like rainy days. There is something exceptionally fun about running around outside in the pouring rain.


Or scootering outside in the pouring rain.


Especially when there is a huge puddle at the bottom of the driveway!


It does not get much better than this. And on a school day no less! Ahhhh…the simple joys of homeschooling. Letting your children splash around in the puddles during school hours….

Posted in My Photography, Typical Days, Why I Homeschool | 4 Comments

1.8 Earthquake in Annandale

And we missed it! Seems as if there was a 1.8 level earthquake this afternoon at 1:30 and its epicenter was just down the road from us.

At 1:30 however we were miles away in Fairfax at the NoVaUnschoolers parkday and did not notice anything. A friend of mine who came later said that she had been on the phone and heard a rumbling that she recognized from her years of living in California.

No damage was reported and I am sure that folks in California would laugh at the excitement our little “microearthquake” has caused.

Posted in Life | Comments Off

Speaking of Faith

A friend (thanks Dena!) introduced me to American Public Radio’s Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippett program awhile ago and I have been meaning to mention it here. From their website:

Krista takes a narrative, or first-person, approach to religious and philosophical conversation. She draws out the intersection of theology and human experience, of grand religious ideas and real life.

I have been thoroughly enjoying these programs and have been surprised at the effects some of them have had on me. I think the thing that really appeals to me is that it is about people’s experiences with faith and how faith (or lack thereof) has affected their lives. There is no preaching, no trying to convince, no one religion is better than another. Just good honest discussion about meaningful ideas and what they mean. And their webpage for each program contains an incredible wealth of resources for learning more.

I have learned a lot about different religious traditions that I was unfamiliar with as well as found some programs that spoke directly to my heart and have helped me on my own spiritual path.

There used to be an explanation about why they took the approach they did but I can’t seem to find the link now. But here is what I had copied in a previous email I had written about it:

Hearing people talk from their experience, out of their story, is fundamentally different from hearing their conclusions and doctrines first. With Speaking of Faith, we are introducing a new way of talking about religion, one which will be both informative and illuminating as well as complementary to existing religion news coverage.

Journalistic reporting about religion often asks people to speak for a tradition, or for God. And for understandable reasons it favors guests – including religious leaders – who are willing, even bound, to do so. Therefore many discussions about perspectives that religion/faith/belief
could bring to our civic life begin like this:

“Christians believe…”
“Judaism asserts…”
“Muslims insist…”
“The Bible says…”

The trouble is, these kinds of pronouncements put listeners on the defensive. In fact, they even foster division within traditions.

The first-person approach behind Speaking of Faith sidesteps the predictable minefields and opens the subject wide, making it inviting, both in ambiance and substance. It insists that people speak straight from the experience behind their own personal beliefs. How did they come to hold the truths they hold? How are religious insights given depth and nuance by the complexities of life?

This way of speaking also has the effect of opening the listener’s mind. I can disagree with another person’s opinion; I can’t disagree with his or her experience. Because I know where they are coming from, I am capable of some understanding – even compassion – about why they think that way. Moreover, because I have heard their story I am able to attach a person, a humanity, to their conclusions, and I will never quite be able to dismiss that position or denomination in the abstract in the same way again.

Speaking of Faith, however, doesn’t stop at the story. The first-person approach, after all, could be just another dead end if it didn’t move beyond personal confessional. That is where my role as a theologically-trained journalist is critical. I engage people at that personal level, but I also invite them to articulate the important ideas and the deep, relevant perspectives that faith can add to our private and public lives.

I highly recommend checking it out. Some of my favorite programs have been:

And I have not even made my way through half the programs. These programs are very thought-provoking and most importantly to me, very respectful of everyone’s journey. Well worth checking out.

You can listen directly from the website or you can subscribe to their podcast.

I hope that you enjoy them as much as I have!

Posted in My Observations | 3 Comments

Happy Dance Time!


What you are looking at is a picture of my car in our garage. Yes, you heard me right. At long last, my car can actually reside inside the garage. I had to include a photo because without photographic evidence, I am sure that friends and family who have actually seen the state of our garage would never believe me.

Now there is actually still a lot left to sort through and get rid of organize and I did not take a picture of our front porch (which is holding all the stuff I plan to freecycle). I am also not under any delusions that it will stay this way forever (as proven by the fact that I have written on this subject before). But I can enjoy it while it lasts.

And here is a wider look:


(yes, I finally got my signature back!)

Posted in Life | 1 Comment

Really Stupid Things The Elms Boys Argue About #3

Hmmm…it has been a year since I have had anything to post in this category. This does not mean that the boys have not argued in that long of a time. Just that they had not argued over anything so utterly ridiculous that I felt a need to post about it.

The qualifying argument occurred this afternoon while we were driving home from Jason’s pottery class. As is typical for spring in Northern Virginia, our weather has been bouncing up and down…wet and rainy and cool, 50s and 60s one day to hot and muggy 80s the next. Today was an 80s day and the car had been sitting for awhile, so we had turned on the air conditioning (have I mentioned that my boys are heat wimps?)

This was fine, until about halfway home (which, by the way takes all of 10 minutes), Jason decided to turn off the air conditioning in the back because he could not hear the audio book we were listening to (Sir Thursday, book 4 in the Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix – highly, highly recommended!) This was not acceptable to Kyle who was hot (yes, whiney, cranky hot). Thus ensued the battle for the control over the air conditioner dial.

I was successful at holding the battle at bay for the remainder of the 5 minutes it took for us to get home by telling them that there was less than 5 minutes until we got home and to cool it. We got home, I got out and went inside. When I came back outside a few minutes later to let Ellie out, I realized that they were still in the car…arguing over whether the air conditioner of the car which was parked in our driveway, with the engine off, going absolutely nowhere should be left in the on or off position.

Realizing that the argument was getting physical with each boy pushing the other in an attempt to turn the dial to the desired position, I went in to negotiate, only to find that each kid was completely vested in their desired outcome (complete with justifications explanations why it was completely sane and reasonable for them to be fighting over this).

I threw up my hands in complete exasperation and said that this argument definitely qualified to be blogged about as a Really Stupid Thing The Elms Boys Argue About, which, believe it or not, broke the stalemate (well, that and my grand pronouncement that the dial would be placed in the half-on/half-off position, yes, please call me Solomon).

Ya gotta love ‘em…or at least that is what I have been told…

- Stephanie

Posted in Life, Really Stupid Things The Elms Boys Argue About | 5 Comments

Wordless Wednesday (a day late as usual)


- Stephanie

Posted in Wordless Wednesdays | 3 Comments


I came across this quote in my morning reading and wanted to capture it here:

Meditation is a process of lightening up, of trusting the basic goodness of what we have and who we are, and of realizing that any wisdom that exists, exists in what we have already. Our wisdom is all mixed up with what we call our neurosis. Our brilliance, our juiciness, our spiciness, is all mixed up with our craziness and our confusion, therefore it doesn’t do any good to try to get rid of our so-called negative aspects, because in that process we also get rid of our basic wonderfulness. We can lead our life so as to become more awake to who we are and what we’re doing rather than trying to improve or change or get rid of who we are or what we’re doing.

- Pema Chodron in The Wisdom of No Escape

I have spent much of my life not being satisfied…not being happy with who I am. Wanting to “fix” myself. Because if I fixed myself, that would fix everything around me and everyone (including me) would be happy.

I have been doing a lot of personal work over the past year and one of the biggest changes that I am seeing is that I am becoming more comfortable with who I am, warts and all. Honestly ok with it, not just ok because I am “supposed” to be ok. Which I guess is a good thing seeing as I am turning 40 in June!

It is very easy for us to think that we have control over more than we really do and that is the trap that I found myself in. I somehow thought that I had the power to fix everything and everyone and if things were not working out it was because I was not good enough or had not tried hard enough. Living my life this way finally caught up with me…I was (am!) exhausted from trying to control everything and everyone.

I have been slowly working on letting go. I still have a long way to go. But I am encouraged that the more I let go, the easier things become. This does not mean that life has gotten easier. To be honest, life has stayed just the way that it always has been…challenging, frustrating, difficult, yet also exciting and, yes, even enjoyable.

What has changed is me. It seems counterintuitive in a way…the more that I let go and stop trying so hard, the easier things become. But I am seeing that this is true.

I am most definitely not perfect in this area. But I am finding that the less I look to fix things in my life, the more likely a solution will appear. So I am working on sitting with things that are bothering me rather than trying to change them. Being with them. Recognizing that these problems do indeed exist and that is ok. Trusting that things will work out when they are meant to and that I will be ok. And amazingly they do and I am.

It will be interesting to see what the next year brings…

- Stephanie

Posted in Life, Quotes | 3 Comments

In Case You Were Wondering…

where I have been…I have been helping plan this:

VaHomeschoolers Homeschool Enrichment Seminar

Science Museum of Virginia
2500 West Broad Street
Richmond, Virginia


April 26, 2008

There is still time to register online so if you are in the area, be sure to stop by. Walk-ins will be accepted as well.

There is something for everyone for both new and experienced homeschoolers. Speakers will be myself, Celeste Land (VaHomeschoolers Government Affairs Chair), Parrish Mort (VaHomeschoolers Pres) and Jeanne Faulconer (VaHomeschoolers Newsletter editor). I can tell you that my fellow speakers are wonderfully inspirational and definitely worth coming out for.

If you do come out, be sure to grab me during a break and introduce yourself! Most of the fun of these seminars is getting to meet folks in real life. Not to mention the fun we have being surrounded by people who “get” what we are doing and why.

Hope to see you there!

Stephanie (who is still working on getting all her files (including my signature file) moved over to my new laptop and probably won’t have time until after the seminar!)


Posted in Homeschooling in Va | 1 Comment

Hokie Spirit Defines Virginia Tech a Year Later


A Day of Rememberance

I think that the message sent out by the Va Tech Alumni Association says it well so I will just post their message here:

Hokie Spirit defines Virginia Tech a year later…

Last April, the world’s attention focused on a campus community ripped to its very core with the grief and pain of a tragedy unparalleled in the history of American higher education. And what they observed was more powerful than they ever expected… they saw a campus filled with energetic students and talented faculty that displayed grace, poise and fortitude beyond all imagination — a community fueled by something we know as Hokie spirit. That spirit reaches deep and spreads beyond the campus throughout our 200,000 alumni, and indeed across the entire globe.

Yes, Hokie spirit emerged from tragedy and impressed a world that was brought closer by the media to witness the strength and resilience of the entire Hokie Nation. On this anniversary our attention turns respectfully to the families who lost their loved ones last April 16th and to the students injured that day who are successfully putting their lives back together. It is a day of remembrance. The victims will be honored at a ceremony that will take place Wednesday on the Drillfield at 10:30 A.M. EDT. It will be televised by various media and streamed through the university’s website www.vt.edu. President Steger and Virginia’s Governor Kaine will make remarks. Other participatory events are being held throughout the day, and a candlelight vigil at dusk will signal the end of the day’s observances.

The university is grateful for the expressions of support that have flowed from loyal alumni and friends around the world since last April. These expressions have come in the form of almost every artifact imaginable. To date, 87,000 different items (some displayed in our Alumni Center Museum on April 16th only). In excess of $9.5 million in memorial gifts. Special appearances by the Dave Matthews Band and the NY Yankees. Plus thousands upon thousands of well-wishing letters, e-mails and phone calls. And perhaps the most recent signal of prevailing Hokie spirit is the acceptance rate by students who have been offered admission to the university this coming fall – already hundreds ahead of last fall, which was itself a record-breaking year.

We see such optimism and spirit in the faces of our students, often represented by the countless hours they have poured into VT-ENGAGE service activities. Similarly, our alumni are honoring the university’s year of renewal with a range of service activities, including participation in our “VirginiaTechforlife” blood drives staged by alumni chapters.

At the dedication of our permanent April 16th Memorial last August, SGA President Adeel Khan summed it up exceptionally well…

Take time to remember the legacies, remember the dreams and remember the talent that our community has lost. I hope you are inspired to work harder to honor the 32. Share you talents with the world for the 32. Achieve your dreams for the 32. Be more compassionate, friendly and thoughtful for the 32. Be better, for the 32.

In 2008, we remember the 32; we are thankful for the survivors; and we are proud we share together that incredible Hokie spirit.

Tom Tillar
Vice President for Alumni Relations

There is more information at the Va Tech Remembrance website.

We are the Hokies. We are Virginia Tech.

Posted in Va Tech | 1 Comment

$5/month For My Peace of Mind

Back in November I found out about an online backup service called Mozy. For $5 a month, you get unlimited online backup. The software is easy to use. The intitial backup did take an extremely long time to run (I left it running overnight and even then it took a few days if I remember correctly) but since then the backups have been fairly quick and I have been able to run them in the background.

I realized that with all my photos, I really needed something that was idiot proof (i.e. automatic). I had been doing manual backups to an external hard drive when I remembered (maybe once a month?) I realized that this was extremely risky (and time consuming to do) so the idea that Mozy would take care of all that for me was appealing.

Over the past month or two, my computer has been acting really sluggish. I kept getting disk full errors and it did not matter how much clean-up or compression I did, I could not consistently get enough free disk space. This is not surprising, as my photos take up a lot of room and I have been playing around with Photoshop Elements editing features more lately. This means that I eat through a lot of hard drive storage. I was outgrowing my computer.

To get more room, I moved 4 years of photos (1998-2002) off my hard drive and onto my external hard drive. This worried me, because they would no longer be included in my Mozy backup. But I figured that I did not do much with that drive, so they would be ok. However, I was soon getting Disk Full errors again.

Yup. Time for a new computer, and with my 40th birthday coming up in June, an early birthday present seemed a perfect way to rationalize it. But what kind should I get? I have always been a PC person. No particular reason, probably because that is what I used mostly at work and what I was comfortable using. But back in February (in time for his birthday), Jeff, the ultimate PC and Microsoft guy, came home with a Mac. Seeing as how most of what I do is photography related, I decided to make the switch.

So two days ago, Jeff brought home my very own MacBook. I have been having fun playing around with it, figuring out how to transfer licenses, getting everything set up, moving files. And then disaster struck.

I was using my external hard drive to copy files between my computers and I unplugged it instead of “ejecting” it (this seems to be a mac thing). When I connected it again, it had an error saying that it was not readable! I tried rebooting, connecting it to other machines, to no avail. I have no idea what happened. But it seems to be dead.

Now this would not have been too big of a deal except for the fact that I had not copied over those 4 years of photos yet! Those photos for which I did not have another copy! Jeff said that he would take the drive into the office and see if he could salvage them, but I had no idea if that would work.

But then I remembered Mozy. I was not sure how long they kept copies once files were deleted from your computer, but I figured it was worth checking. And lo and behold, all the photos where there! It was easy peasy to restore them to my PC where they are now sitting while we try to figure out how we are going to transfer the rest of the files. Whew!

Needless to say, I strongly recommend Mozy, especially if you have irreplaceable files like photos. Don’t wait until something crashes.

And now I need to get back to setting up my Mac. It is taking a bit of getting used to…some things are definitely different but so far I like it. And can I say how awesome it is to have a HUGE hard drive again?

Stephanie (who has not copied over her signature file to the new Mac yet!)

Posted in Life, Photography | 5 Comments

The Things You Hear as a Mom

When asked why he was sitting on the floor whining, Kyle responded:

It is only because Jason dropped the dog on me…

(and yes, he was talking about Ellie…)

Posted in Quotes, Really Stupid Things The Elms Boys Argue About | 1 Comment

The Great Sunflower Project

A friend just forwarded information about The Great Sunflower Project which looks like a lot of fun.

By watching and recording the bees at sunflowers in your garden, you can help us understand the challenges that bees are facing.

  • It takes less than 30 minutes.
  • It’s easy.
  • Free Sunflower seeds for planting.
  • No knowledge of bees required!

Enter your bee counts online or send us your paper form.

There is also lots of great information on bees and why they are collecting this data.

I had actually been thinking that I want to do a better job at growing things this summer…although I am going to start small. I think that we will do the sunflowers and try maybe some lettuce in pots on the deck down at the beach. I love the idea of having an actual garden, but never seem to get around to actually pulling it off. So I will be more realistic this year and maybe have some success!

Posted in Fun Stuff, Science | 4 Comments

Lessons Learned

Note to Self: Buy jumper cables.

2nd Note to Self: It is perfectly ok to listen to your iPod for an hour through your car radio while the boys are in gymnastics. It is not a good idea to turn on the seat warmer without turning on the car, however.

Posted in Life | 3 Comments