May 18, 2009

Elizabeth's sestina

Background: This is the sestina that Elizabeth has been writing for the past week. I will warn you, though, it is morbid. Before you all tell me to take her to psychiatrist, please keep in mind that in the last month, she has experienced the following:
1. She has moved away from all the friends she has ever known.
2. Her great-grandmother, "Granny" Kloos, died recently. She and Jessi came with me when I visited Granny a few days before her death. Granny looked very different from the person she had seen a month earlier. She looked like she was close to death and didn't react much the whole time we were there. Two days before we started the trek to a new home/life, she attended Granny's funeral.
3. Charlotte is a guinea pig who died two years ago. When she died, we buried her in our garden in Grayslake, Illinois. She was very disappointed to know that we would not be bringing Charlotte's remains with us when we moved.
In summary, she has been dealing with a lot of loss and disappointment. She also chose words to use that can not help but create a morbid poem. Rest assured that if she continues talking about death and dying and grief six months from now, I might have her talk to a counselor, okay.

Charlotte’s Death

Our dear Charrlote was a gunea pig,
In our garden is where she lays.
We are very sad of her death.
Her sudden death left us in grief.
When we moved on, our hearts did weep.
Her death left us in sadness.

The rain washes away the sadness.
Her friend Sarah is also a gunea pig.
When we found Charrlote dead in her house, a long time we did weep.
We buried her in a garden near the front door, and that’s where she lays.
We do school to hide our grief,
We think Sarah grieves her death.

When I reach my death,
Our family will be encased in sadness.
They’ll do fun things to hide their grief,
But not like a gunea pig.
Charrlote’s in her grave, that’s where she lays.
When I am dead, my relatives will weep.

So when life is over, everyone will weep.
Death draws us to it, and we are drawn to death.
The dead man lays in his grave, that’s where he lays.
His reletives are clothed in sadness.
We are all like a gunea pig.
Everyone dies with grief.

In grief we die, in grief they die, everyone dies in grief.
In our life time, we will have to weep,
Even the gunea pig.
Everyone, everything, anything is doomed to death.
Everyone, everything is doomed to sadness.
In sadness we lay, in sadness they lay, in sadness everything lays!

Oh, she is dead, and there she lays!
Like all other people, we all die in grief.
And like all other people, we all die in sadness.
We weep when we die, like all other people we weep.
We fall into sadness, and into a trap, and the trap is death.
Pigs fall into the death trap, and so do every gunea pig.

In sadnness we live, in sadness we die, all around us sadness lays.
The gunea pig dies in grief.
In death we weep, and such a sweet sorrow is death.

May 16, 2009

Tom Thumb is not as easy as it looks

This morning, we all piled into the van to climb Pinnacle Peak. Unfortunately, the trail was closed on account of swarms of attacking bees (no, not the killer bees, just really irritated bees). However, the warden was very helpful and told us about another trail nearby that went up to the top of "Tom Thumb", a really cool rock formation. If you have watched Veggie Tales' "The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Movie", the area looks a little like the rock monster island with more sand poured over the rock formations. The boulders are all metamorphic rock (thanks H.A.M.I.C. geology studies!). To get to the start of Tom Thumb trail, you have to go on a dirt road, which reminded me of Kyle's newest song, "Rock and Roll on a Bad Road", beecause that is what we did. I think Eric had fun driving on it, though we had to be careful of washouts and huge dips that still caused us to bottom out a few times. The kids were great. At the beginning of the trail, John told a guy passing us, "I will never get tired." He changed his tune. Trail statistics: It took us 90 minutes to hike 2.6 miles with an elevation gain of 700 feet (thanks to Eric's GPS program on his phone). We saw lizards, a hummingbird (I think), lots of ants and lots of little flies that reminded me of the little flying bugs in "Cars". The flies were annoying, but at least they didn't bite--just tickle. The trail had places with loose gravel that made it tricky to go up and even trickier going down. On the way down, Elizabeth slipped and fell once, Jessi and Kyle each slipped and fell three times and John slipped and fell too many times to count (I think he liked it because Eric was holding his hand and didn't let him get hurt). John also confessed to getting tired at one point. We did not make it to the summit of Tom's Thumb. Our water was half gone, the kids were really tired, and a couple on their way back said that the trail got pretty steep near the end, which made us decide to turn around with Tom Thumb's peak in site.

The views were fabulous, both up close and panoramic. Unfortunately, we did not bring a camera, so we only took a couple of pictures with Eric's camera. All in all, it was a great adventure. Who needs to be in "The Amazing Race" when you can create your own road blocks :-).

May 11, 2009

A Moving Sestina

Background: Elizabeth and I are studying poetry. She has developed some haiku and mastered the limerick. She has memorized "The Rainy Day" by Henry Wadworth Longefellow. Recently, I found out that the Homeschool Legal Defense Association is sponsoring a poetry contest. It has to be a sestina poem based on a quote from Mark Twain. I'm not sure if she will enter the contest, but I thought it would be a good way to introduce another poetry form. If you don't know what a sestina is, go to She has started the first of seven stanzas today writing about her beloved dead guinea pig, Charolotte. When she finishes, I will post it. Because a teacher should lead by example, I have also written a sestina inspired by our move.

A Moving Sestina

My husband’s lost job forced us to move
Into a new state, a new climate, a new adventure.
But moving means friendships are broken
Our way of life must form a new pattern
Our way of thinking renewed.
A total re-boot

My atitude also needs a re-boot.
As God is prodding me to move.
So that I can be renewed,
Serving and worshipping in a new pattern.
As I allow my heart to be broken,
I feel adrift on the edge of adventure.

Flung into the abyss of adventure,
Ties of comfort have been broken.
New instructions to come after the re-boot.
God is on the move,
Weaving new people into my life’s pattern.
Uncharted relationships are being renewed.

My faith is being renewed
On God’s great plan of adventure.
To experience it, I must move.
Old cookies smashed in the re-boot.
Glorious light shines throughout the pattern
As stumbling blocks are being broken.

When comfort zones are broken,
Joi de vive can be renewed,
New growth results in a re-boot,
Hearts beat strong and fast during the adventure,
Beauty is found in a new pattern,
Peace and contentment are found in the move.

Good things come from a move.
We get to review our life in the re-boot.
Old friendships need not be broken
And in heaven, all friendships will be renewed
Wisdom and knowledge are expanded by adventure.
Flexibility comes with a new pattern.

I now relish my re-boot which brings with it adventure,
Experiencing God’s shuttle move into me a new pattern
Because some threads are broken, my tapestry of life is renewed.

May 8, 2009

Overtoom talent "show"

This blog is dedicated to my talented kids. Elizabeth managed to make "guitars" out of K'nex, complete with guitar straps and K'nex picks. This has encouraged "Song Night at the Overtoom Apartment." Elizabeth, Kyle and John make up their own lyrics while Jessi sings great old hymns. I have been able to capture E's and K's lyrics, but not John's.

Kyle has a pretty simple song. He chooses a sentence and sings it repeatedly but in a way that is fun and not too monotonous: "Rock and roll on the very bad road." He sings this with a fake British accent.

Elizabeth came up with a more extensive song she calls "Together"
Let's work together to get the job done
Let's play together everyone!
Fly like bird
but please don't get absurd.

When you see some one that's hurt,
help him; Say "Hey are you hurt?
Oh no! You broke your leg!
Let's get you to the hospital.
Let's work together.

If you want to help someone,
Say, "Hey, here's $5 for a gift.
"Hey, thank you!
Hey, I'll go to the zoo!
I have enough clothing,
I have enough food.
So, I'll go to the Zoo!


Together! Together!
We worked together!
If we work together,
we'll get the job done extra fast
and relax.
Teamwork is great!
We worked together.


I hope you enjoy reading them as much as Eric and I have enjoyed listening to them.

May 5, 2009

Random thoughts on the first week

The first week can be summed up as follows: when we weren't throwing up, we were doing school, checking out playgrounds and swimming in the swimming pool at our apartment. So far, the stomach flu has claimed John, Eric, and Elizabeth as it's victims. Kyle threw up on Saturday evening, but that might have been sympathy puking (or is it synchronized puking?) with Eric as he never had a fever and never had a repeat. As my SIL, KT says in her blog (, great times, great times. I have been working hard to keep the germs at bay by cleaning sheets from beds after the victims have recovered, cleaning bathrooms after episodes, and sleeping on the sofa while Eric was feverish. Here are some other random thoughts as we have been discovering our new home:

* Ninety degrees feels better in Arizona than it does in Chicago. It may have been the fact that we were in the pool, or that we are getting really nice breezes. It may also have something to do with the heat index of Chicago, in which makes 90 degrees feel hotter. Of course, as one woman at a park commented, "This isn't really hot, honey."

* The three bedroom apartment is pretty nice unless you have a sick child which requires the other children to stay in the apartment all day while the sick child sleeps because there is no play area other than the pool. The cooking equipment stinks and I am missing a bunch of spices that I usually use. I didn't pack them because the van couldn't "take na more, captain!"

* Gymnastics places here don't have open gym times due to liability issues. This was one of the activities I was hoping to do as a way of checking out gym facilities.

* It is really nice to be able to make a local call without having to dial the area code (only those of you who live or have lived in the Chicago area will appreciate this.)

* I love mountains. Even small, cute ones like those we have surrounding the Phoenix area.

* I really hate the sound of retching. Dry heave retching is the worst! The only thing worse than the sound of retching is cleaning up the after effects.

* I am looking forward to camping in the Payson area. It is absolutely beautiful. And ten to twenty degrees cooler than Phoenix.

* I am missing the ability to use a library to check out books. We won't have that ability until we move into our new house and can prove residency. :-(.

* Between the stomach flu and random spills, the carpeting has been "anointed" many times. great times, great times.

* I cannot call any old friends or my family after dinner anymore without the threat of disturbing their sleep :-(.

* I have been able to get together with family from whom I have been long separated since I always lived in the Midwest and they always lived in Arizona. :-). This will be the first time the girl cousins on my mom's side will be in the same area ever!

I do have to keep reminding myself through all of this that God IS blessing us and we WILL make new friends (but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold) and we WILL find a church that feels like home again. And the greatest blessing is that Eric has a job that he enjoys. Thank you, God!