Thursday, February 28, 2008

Happy Leap Day!

Leap day happens to be my favorite day of the year, well, every fourth year I guess. Wikipedia explains Leap Year like this...

leap year (or intercalary year) is a year containing one or more extra days (or, in case of lunisolar calendars, an extra month) in order to keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical or seasonal year. For example, February would have 29 days in a leap year instead of the usual 28. Seasons and astronomical events do not repeat at an exact number of full days, so a calendar which had the same number of days in each year would over time drift with respect to the event it was supposed to track. By occasionally inserting (or intercalating) an additional day or month into the year, the drift can be corrected. A year which is not a leap year is called a common year.

I explain Leap Year like this...I FINALLY get to have a real birthday!

I often get asked, "When do you celebrate your birthday when there is no February 29?" To me, the answer is easy. "On the 28th and the 1st!" Seriously, why not?

Why do I think it's cool to have a birthday on Leap Year?
*I got my license when I was 4 years old!
*I was able to drink, well legally, when I was 5 1/4!
*Not many people share my birthday. I only knew of one other kid in my high school of 2000 people.

The best reason is...when people tell me to "act my age" I tell them, "I am!". Yes, complete with a sassy attitude!

So, how old am I this year?

Weekly Report

We seem to be on a roll! We had another great week! Only a few bumps with having to deal with bad attitudes (me included), but we were able to turn it around and move ahead.

We are on Chapter 19, The Mycenaeans, in SOTW. One thing, among others, I love about homeschooling is that I am able to fill in the gaps of my public school education and have my own "aha" moments. I had one this week. I didn't realize, or maybe I did but didn't make the connection, that the Mycenaeans are the group of Greeks who attacked Troy? You know. Paris and Helen and the Wooden Horse? Homer? Anyhow, we started reading Black Ships Before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliffe. This is a great book and the boys love it, but I am trying to talk Collin into reading this aloud to the them as I am having a difficult time with the names. He is much better at that stuff than I am.

Nature Study
This has been a bit of a challenge this week due to a cold front that moved through. I know, I know. Those of you who are buried in snow up north are saying, "Cry me a river.". I spent my childhood up north, but have become acclamated to the warmer temperatures of the south, well, except in the summer. Anyhow, we tried to get out earlier in the week, but it didn't work out. We are going to give it another shot. I'll be posting about our adventure soon so check back.

Language Arts-Magnus
Well, my order from Queen Homeschool finally came in. You know, it was worth the wait. I ordered both Language Lessons for the Very Young and Language Lessons for the Elementary Child because I was unsure where Magnus would fit. We started with LL for the Very Young this week. We are loving this program so far. The first lesson was a picture study. The boys ran with it! They both made up an entire story about the picture, complete with who, what, when and why. When we were done, they asked what was on the next page because they wanted to do another one! Instead, I gave them an art book and they did the same thing with pictures from that. He also really enjoyed the Robert Frost poem we read and talked about.

He completed several sheets in his ETC books. He finished letter "b" and is now on "m". We did another magazine art project and he liked that.

I have noticed he writes a few of his numbers backwards sometimes. So, I took the opportunity to work on that with him this week. There is a rhyming poem in the beginning of our Right Start math book that helps kids remember which "side" the number starts on. I had him write the numbers several times through out the week. We continued playing math games too.

Sketch Tuesday
We participated in this fun activity conducted by Barb at Heart of Harmony. You can see our sketched here in case you missed them.


Monday: Homeschool Storytime at the library; swimming with friends; Thane's Swimming Lessons
Tuesday: Attempted our Nature Walk; Magnus' Swimming Lessons
Wednesday: Thane's Swimming Lessons; AWANA was canceled due to snow...there wasn't any snow accumulated!
Thursday: Park with friends (2 hours!); Magnus' Swimming Lessons
Friday: Birthday Date Night for Mom and Dad! :0)

I have decided to change up our daily schedule a bit and have it look more like a CM kind of day. I'm still playing around with it but will post it when I get it finalized. I am also going to work in a "tea time" each day and rotate what we do for that. Maybe read our nature books, poetry, picture study and the like. Fridays are going to be our "Fine Arts" day in addition to the three R's. We are going to blow the dust off Artistic Pursuits Book 1 and get started again.

Thanks for checking in. Be sure to look us up next week. Hopefully my blog will no longer be under construction!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Victory At Last!

I finally did it! Me. I did this! I customized my blog into 3 columns all by myself...well with the help of this fantastic for new bloggers. I have been googling and posting messages on various boards hoping for some tips and help. Some people were able to direct me to some sites, but they were of no help to me because of the original template I was working with. It had specific html codes listed because of the rounded corners and I was having difficulty changing the dimensions because of these. So, as I sat in Panera, banging my head against the table, in shear desperation I thought "why not try googling for specific instructions customized to my template". I did and it worked! The instructions were laid out so well, that even *I* was able to do it myself! Now I am going to be spending the next few days organizing and rearranging things. I am so excited! Be sure to check back soon and see what I come up with next! Maybe some drop down menus!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Not-So-Wordless Wednesday

I know it is suppose to be wordless, but this picture needs a little explanation. This was probably our third visit to the Eiffel Tower within 2 days. I LOVE the Eiffel Tower and never tire of looking at it or taking pictures of it. I think I took somewhere around 100 pictures this last trip. This may have been picture #80 or so, for Collin was irritated with me taking a picture every 10 steps. If you click on it and then use the magnifying glass tool to zoom in you can get a better look at the expression on his face! Priceless!

Rediscovering lost love

Some of my fondest memories from when I was younger had nature as a backdrop: canoeing down the Cedar River with my parents, spending Christmas on the beach in FL in '86, acting as a camp counselor for two summers in MI, and taking camping trips with Collin and our friends during the first part of our relationship in WA. Somewhere along the way I forgot how much I enjoy observing and experiencing nature. In spite of Collin's repeated attempts to get us outside, I have resisted this for years, with a few exceptions.

I am excited because I am now recapturing my enthusiasm for nature. I find myself looking for the next opportunity to get outside to enjoy walks, weather, wildlife-that is, until the 90 degree + temperatures hit. Here are a few of the activities that are helping us enjoy God's creation.

Backpacking trips through Western Europe. This picture was taken in the Swiss Alps.

When the weather is agreeable we have been going on many hikes.

We enjoy being around water skipping rocks, sinking "boats" (logs that we have launched), and listening to the waves lap up against the edge.

Collin taught the boys how to fish in the river near our apartment. They came back empty handed, but their faces were bright with smiles.

I really enjoy observing birds. This is new for me as I have never ever paid attention to birds in the past. I like watching them line up on our fence and wait their turn for a snack at our feeder. I love listening to them call to one another. The colors of their feathers are amazing. I hope to construct a bird habitat complete with nesting boxes, a bird bath, and several different types of feeders soon.

I am also learning to face a huge irrational fear of mine...

If it's been awhile since you have enjoyed your natural surroundings, I would encourage you to take a short walk in your neighborhood, breathe in the fresh air, listen to the birds sing, and kick a rock or two.

Sketch Tuesday

Is it Tuesday already? Barb at the Heart of Harmony asked us to sketch something that represents our state. You can read the full instructions and see everyone's pictures from last week here. The other sketches are fantastic!

Here is what Magnus came up with this week...

I think Thane still has the civil war on his mind
since our nature walk last week...

I know the boys would love to read your comments about their drawings so feel free to leave them one! And check back next Tuesday for their latest sketches!

Monday, February 25, 2008

What's on your desk meme

The Tutor over at Apollos Academy tagged me with this meme she created. I am suppose to share the items on my desk. Well, I don't have a desk. I use Collin's. But here is what it looks like...

The books stacked on the right are all of Collin's books for research. He is in the middle of writing another paper to present at the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, MI this May. This will be his third presentation of original research at a scholarly conference, and his second time presenting there. I am pretty proud of him as this isn't typically something undergraduates accomplish. Also, notice the web page the laptop is open to. Love those Well Trained Mind message boards! I have made several friends who are trying to do what I am trying to do...raise and educate our kids to the best of our ability. It is a great community and I am forever indebted to their wisdom.

This is my bill paying area. I keep stamps, the checkbook, and address labels in the bottom and file the bills and our budget sheet in the wires. Magnus had the great idea of placing a bird in the cage. I want more than anything to have real birds, but this will have to do for now.

And now for the people I am tagging...(be sure to click on the Apollos Academy link above to get the instructions!)

Amy at Allen Academy
Lisa at Koinonia Academy
Zelda at The Aquataine Academy
Dawne at One Room Classical School
Audrey at Opus Dei Academy

Looking forward to seeing what your desks look like! Be sure to leave me a comment so I can check them out!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Weekly Report

We have had a terrific week! We got so much done and my house stayed clean, for the most part!

We are on Chapter 18 in SOTW. We learned about Crete and the Minotaur. The boys were really into this topic as they love Myths. We created our own erupting volcano with a bottle, clay, water, vinegar, and baking soda. It was pretty cool. I found the D'Aulaire's Book of Greek Myths on tape from the library and they have been listening to that nonstop. I think Magnus has read that book at least 15 times, cover to cover, since receiving it for Christmas.

Nature Study
Oh man, are we excited about this! This is exactly what our school week needs. I posted about this early in the week and you can read about it here. Unfortunately, I don't know where the pictures went that I uploaded on that post so I created a slideshow here for your viewing pleasure...

Magnus-Language Arts
We finally hit a bump in the road. He was working on alphabetizing in his dictionary workbook and he was having a lot of trouble. School has come really easy for him and this was the first time he was being challenged. After a spurt of "I can't do this", we were able to work through it and he completed the lesson all on his own! It was a big victory for both of us.

We have taken a break from doing a "formal" grammar program until my Language Lessons books come from Queen Homeschool. We ordered them over two weeks ago and the company said they should be here any day. I am anxiously awaiting their arrival. They are going to be a great addition to our new way of doing things.

Spelling is moving along quickly. Magnus has complained about having to use the letter tiles so I am not making him use them, but to write the words out instead. This seems to be a good compromise for the lessons the tiles are not really necessary for.

We have also incorporated copywork again. His handwriting has improved dramatically and he actually likes writing now. It was a good idea to put it up for a time since he was just getting frustrated with it.

We worked in our ETC books again. He enjoys doing them. We worked on the letter "b" this week. He has been pointing out the "b" and "f" sounds to me whenever he hears them. It's getting a little old, but I know it is good practice for him.

This week he learned how to write equations and what parallel lines are. We have been pointing out different lines in the house and when we are out and determining if they are parallel or not. It's a fun game.

Sketch Tuesday
We are participating in Barb's at Heart of Harmony sketch Tuesday. The boys really enjoyed seeing the pictures they drew of their beds on someone else's blog. Today, for Fine Art Friday, they will be drawing something that represents the state we live in. Be sure to check back on Tuesday to see what they came up with.

As I have mentioned before, we are so excited about the direction our school is taking. Charlotte Mason's philosophies make sense. I am still looking more into her idea of lots of short lessons through out the morning. I am not sure if that will work for us. I may try it. I am also going to look more into her ideas of habit and handicrafts.

Thanks for coming along on our journey. Be sure to check back next week!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Green Hour Challenge Week 1

Not sure where my pictures went. They were there yesterday and they were really good. Sorry you won't get to see them.

I have decided to drop all "formal" science programs and concentrate on getting outside and studying nature. I wasn't quite sure how to get started but then Barb at Heart of Harmony asked fellow homeschoolers if having some sort of weekly "green hour" challenge would be helpful. I jumped all over it! The timing couldn't have been more perfect.

So, on Fridays she is posting our weekly challenge to complete the following week. Here is this week's challenge. I am hoping to have our nature studies posted by Thursday. Guess I am ahead of the game this week!

I read the first eight pages of Anna Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study and got so much out of it. Let me share some of the sentences that spoke d
irectly to me...

"The chief charm of nature-study would be taken away if it did not lead us through the border-land of knowledge into the realm of the undiscovered." pg. 4

"In nature-study the work begins with any plant or creature which chanced to interest the pupil." pg.5

"A course in biological science leads to the
comprehension of all kinds of life upon our globe. Nature-study is for the comprehension of the individual life of the bird, insect, or plant that is nearest at hand." pg. 5

"Nature-study is perfectly good science within its limits, but it is not meant to be more profound or comprehensive than the capabilities of the child's mind" pg. 5
I am going to tattoo that to my forehead!

"If nature study is made a drill, its pedagogic value is lost. When it is properly taught, the child is unconscious of mental effort or that he is suffering the act of teaching." pg. 6

"Curiosity may elicit facts, but only real interest may mold these facts into wisdom." pg.6

I planned to take the boys for a walk after their school work was completed. Magnus came up with the idea of visiting the Stones River civil War Battlefield that is nearby. So, that is where we headed. before we piled into the car, the boys stopped outside our door and picked some flowers to la
y on the headstones of the fallen men. Totally Magnus's idea.

I guess my first act of business is to try and figure out what these flowers/weeds are. No matter, they are pretty and now laying as a badge of respect and honor on the tombstones of courageous men. I will admit, it was challenging to get them to focus on the trees, clouds, moss, rocks, and lichen around us when there were cannons and cannonballs present.

We finally made it to a wooded area and found some treasures...

The boys didn't ask me a bunch of questions like, "What's this, Mom?" or "Why is the moss only growing on this side of the tree?" There really wasn't anything they wanted to investigate further. But you know what? This was a huge success! We got outside, even though it was chilly and windy, explored a part of the National Park we hadn't seen, and they paid their respects to the many men who deserved it.

When I asked Thane "how many 'thumbs up' was our outing", he replied "as many to the end of the numbers!" Guess that sums it up!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Sketch Tuesday

In my attempt to becoming more relaxed and of "like mind" with Charlotte Mason, we are going to participate in Barb at Heart of Harmony's Sketch Tuesday. The boys and I will have "Fine Art Fridays" when we will work on our sketching assignment while listening to classical music. I am still thinking about working in a composer study of the person's music we will be listening to, but nothing too in depth.

This week's assignment was to sketch your bed. Here is what the boys came up with...

This is Thane's sketch. That is him jumping on his trampoline.

This one Magnus drew. He sleeps on the top bunk. If you notice, they both drew the punching bag Collin made for them. If you missed that post, you can see it here.

You can check out all of the participant's entries at Heart of Harmony on Tuesdays. Also, if you want to start doing this all you need to do is check out her blog for the week's sketch subject, have a "sketching session" and then email your pictures to Barb at by Monday night.

Be sure to check back next week to see our sketches!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Weekly Report

Not a whole lot to report this week. I have continued researching and making changes to our school days to reflect more of a Charlotte Mason environment. Her gentle approach to learning is a good fit for us. I am excited about having a more relaxed day as far as scheduling goes. I have a strange feeling we will actually be getting more accomplished!

As far as "school" goes, we basically worked on the 3 R's (minus grammar). Oh, and we are starting "Fine Art Friday" now. We are joining others at The Heart Of Harmony for Sketch Tuesday, only we are completing ours on Friday so that we can be sure to have it emailed to her by Monday for the Tuesday post on her site. Be sure to check back on Tuesday to see what the boys drew.

Thane started his Get Ready for the Code phonics workbooks. He is very excited about "doing" school. I also received his Right Start Level A Math book in the mail. He has been begging me to "do" math with him so I think I might start it next week instead of waiting for next year.

Magnus has expressed displeasure with his All About Spelling program. He does not like using the tiles and having to "pull" them down to spell words. I like the program and feel like it is a benefit to him, so I am making changes without it effecting the end result. I have discontinued teaching grammar with FLL. I ordered the Language Lessons books from Queen Homeschooling and am impatiently waiting for their arrival. He has also been doing Memoria Press Copywork and his handwriting is improving.

The boys completed this session of swim lessons. I have seen improvement in both of them as far as being more comfortable in water. Magnus is almost swimming and floats on his back very well. Thane is having a bit more trouble. He is finally able to put his face under water without freaking out, but needs more encouragement to let go of me when we are in the water. We will be participating in the next session and anticipating great things!

I have officially begun my martial arts training. I am learning Jeet Kune Do and Filipino Weapon Art and continuing my kickboxing class. I plan on blogging about this soon so I will not get into it yet. Let me just say that you won't want to mess with me!

I hope you all had a great week and will have an even better weekend!

Oh, and be sure to scroll down to read the wonderful post my husband wrote last night! He is amazing!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

And now for something completely different

Valentine's Day, 2008

My wife is a little out of it after a long day with children. The late dinner we ate just took it right out of her. She's next to me on the couch, dressed to kill, and we're blogging.

I don't know why people say we're not like other families.

She assures me that we're only blogging for now. And that's reassuring for me, because hey, you buy a girl a nice dinner, bring her flowers, put the kids to bed, and then...homeschool blog? I dunno.

We're writing this (well, I am. She's making a valiant effort not to fall asleep on my shoulder) because although bad news travels fast, good news seems to go nowhere. It seems like doom and gloom is everywhere (you've all heard about the poor kids at Northern Illinois by now), but people often seem to keep their good news to themselves.

We're bucking the trend. We've got an announcement to make (hi, mom!) and we won't be silenced. I hope you're ready because here it is:

We've been married nearly ten years
- that's not it, wait for it -
and we're in love.

That's right. We're married and have two kids. We live in a little tiny baby pretend apartment with noisy litterbugs for neighbors. My car smells like puke. I made, like, $20,000 last year. Next year probably won't be a lot better.

And we're wildly, passionately in love.

DW (dear wife) just said, "I think you're right!" as I typed this, so that clinches it.

Maybe some time soon we'll go into how this came about, but for now we hope it's enough to know that somewhere out there are two people in love, making it work, fighting like cats and dogs sometimes, but in love.

Ewwww. Our poor kids.

Remember that part in Jerry McGuire when Rene Zellweger's character says "I love him for the man he wants to be, and the man he almost is"? Or something? Well, we've learned to love each other for the man and woman we are today.

So that's it. We now return to our regular programming.

Just thought you should know.


Don't forget to hug and kiss your loved ones!

Happy St. Valentine's Day to you!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Looking Ahead to Next Year

I have been doing some planning for the coming school year (and the remainder of this year). I am trying to think of everything I may possibly need so I can add it to my list for mine and Collin's discussion about the budget. To my benefit, there has been a thread on the WTM boards asking homeschoolers how much they spend a year on schooling. Here is the link... homeschooling budget.

I've also been thinking a lot about the direction I want the boys' education to take and what I want our school days to look like. I was having trouble at first, listing things like: fun, relaxed, challenging, but then it hit me and started to flow. These are a few of the things I want for my boys...(this list is by no means exhausted. It's just a sampling.)
1. To learn how to think & observe critically. To be able to think for themselves and not be "spoon fed" their opinions.
2. To understand history chronologically and how events effect each other.
3. To have an analytical understanding of great literature.
4. To have a clear understanding and grasp of the English language ie., speak correctly, write correctly, write creatively.
5. To be fluent in several languages ie., Latin, Greek, and French.

Keeping those goals in mind, our school days are going to be more relaxed, yet still challenging. I want them to enjoy the process of learning and I of teaching. We are going to cuddle on the couch and read lots of well written books and not "twaddle". We are going to concentrate on getting a strong foundation in Language Arts, the Charlotte Mason way. Latin is going to become a priority as it will aid in and reinforce our Language Arts studies. We will continue to play our math games as that is Magnus's favorite subject. We will get our "seat" work done in the morning to allow time for play, activities, and free time in the afternoons.

With all that being said...

This is what I will be using for both boys:

History...I like using SOTW. I feel it is a gentle approach to introducing history to the boys. The stories are fact filled, yet short. The Activity Guide has fantastic suggestions for extra reading as well as great projects, maps, and coloring pages. I have a feeling we will be spending more time and money on history this year as we will be studying the Middle Ages. Our family is very much interested in Medieval history and talk about it constantly. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Collin is going to school to teach Medieval Literature at a University. Maybe *he* should be teaching the boys! I hope to do several activities as well as lots of read alouds. I am also going to follow Ambleside Online's book list for our reading.

Science...I'm struggling with this. We are not a "scientific" family (well, at least Collin and I) but I see the need for knowing it. Maybe the boys are of the "scientific mind" and I would hate to rob them of finding out. I know they are interested in it. So, I'm trying to figure out a place for it in our house. I have been re-inspired to visit Charlotte Mason's philosophy of education. I think the idea of nature study will foot the bill for me and the boys. We are going to take nature hikes, start a nature journal, and read fantastic "living" stories about nature. Along with that, I hope to do activities like creating a bird sanctuary, planting a garden, and if space allows (we don't know where we will be living), I want to raise chickens (and maybe a sheep or two)!

Magnus will be in 2nd grade. This is what I am planning for him: going to be a high priority. It will aid in spelling and grammar as well as logic. I read Andrew Campbell's book Latin Centered Curriculum and most of it made sense to me. However, I plan on continuing to use a grammar program and to follow the 4 year history cycle laid out in The Well Trained Mind. I have already purchased Minimus and plan to use it. In fact, the boys request to listen to the audio as they read along in the book! I'm just not sure if I am going to start it this year as we study Rome or wait until next year. But then again, I just found out about another program called Song School Latin from Classical Academic Press (the creators of Latin for Children) This would be the first step before doing Latin For Children. I checked out the samples and it looks fantastic. Lots of work with vocabulary and easy grammar. I still don't know which program to do between Lively Latin or Latin for Children after our initial introduction to Latin. They are both incredible programs and it is just a matter of me figuring out what I want our Latin study to look like. I am also hoping to get my hands on the "I am Reading Latin" readers.

Math...we will continue working through Right Start but do level C next year. This seems to be a good fit for him. It is teacher intensive but I really don't mind. Especially since he is learning to master the concepts. I am thinking about adding Singapore Challenging Word Problems.

Grammar...this had me scratching my head. I don't want to continue with FLL. It's not working for Magnus. He gets the concepts easily, but the presentation is rather dull. After reading Charlotte Mason's take on Language Arts and talking to Collin, we are switching to the Language Lessons series by Sandi Queen. It Incorporates a lot of picture study (with beautiful artwork), narrations, dictation, and grammar. Magnus is a very creative boy who has a good grasp on words and does not like to be "spoon fed". I think the gentler approach will allow him to take ownership of his learning.

Spelling...we will definitely continue with All About Spelling. We may be starting level 2 in a few months so we'll have to do level 3 next year. It is moving a little slow for Magnus, but I am sure he is learning the concepts well.

Thane will be in Kindergarten. This is what I am planning for him:

Math...he has been watching big brother work the abacus and has been playing games with us, it only seems natural to begin his formal math program with Right Start level A. In fact, I just bought it on the WTM for sale board and am eagerly anticipating it's arrival. I have a feeling Thane is going to work through this fast. Luckily I already have level B waiting in the shadows.

Phonics...not sure what to do here. I really don't think OPGTR is going to do it for him. He needs something more than a "repeat after me" type program. He is a visual/kinesthetic learner. I love the looks of Sing, Spell, Write & Read but it is pricey. Maybe, just maybe, I can talk dh into this! If not, I'm not sure what I will do. I am also going to look at Veritas Press Phonics Museum. I had considered this when Magnus was in kindergarten, but decided against it because of cost. I will definitely look for it used. I love the way it incorporates artwork and activities into the learning. I might also look into Phonics Pathways. It has more of the visual aspect I am looking for, but not a lot of hands-on stuff. I would supplement with Explode the Code books and Happy Phonics.

Along with this curriculum I am hoping to get a hold of some audio...King Arthur and His Knights, Wulf the Saxon, The Dragon & the Raven, Winning His Spurs, and In Freedom's Cause. Magnus and Thane both love listening to stories on cd, which is good for me since I don't like reading aloud.

That pretty much covers it. None of this is set in stone as I know I will probably change my mind some more as far as curriculum goes. On thing that I know for sure is the direction I want our learning to go in and that is a relief.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Carpe Diem

January 25, 2008

I walked out my front door today and saw a body bag.

We live in a complex of one-story apartment buildings and our front door is separated from the building across by a 20 foot sidewalk. I could have taken 10 steps and touched the gurney the bag was on. It looked like a long, white garment bag made of some sort of thin plastic, with a zipper running down the full length of it. I instinctively knew it was a body bag by the contours of the shape inside. I recognized Wayne, who use to live there, holding a woman I assumed to be his girlfriend, trying to keep warm in the freezing temperatures. I invited them inside for hot chocolate and a warm place to wait. Wayne had recently moved out leaving David, a 57 year old veteran and diabetic, living in the apartment alone. As he sipped his hot chocolate, he told me he had come by to check on David and found him dead. The paramedics believed he had died three days earlier of a diabetic seizure.

After Wayne left, I continued to think about this man who had been dead for three days before anyone had known. I often saw him in passing but rarely spoke to him beyond a simple "hello". As time went on, I couldn't shake the feeling in some sense that I had failed as a neighbor. I wondered, not if I could have saved him, but if he would have been found sooner, had I been paying attention.

January 29, 2008

I answered a knock at my door to find a strange man standing there. It was David's 35 year old son. He told me his dad had just bought some home supplies and offered me the unopened items. He had come down from MI, where David's family, including his 81 year old mother, still lived. He had spoken with his father only by phone for the past 17 years. He had never met his daughter-in-law or three grand children.

As he talked, I was struck by this broken relationship that now had no chance to be mended. No reconciliation, only regret was possible.

Death was already on my mind as I had read earlier in the week, along with everyone else, about the death of Heath Ledger. That same day, Collin had learned the his grandmother had fallen ill and was expected to pass at anytime. A few days later, my dear friend learned her mother-in-law was told by doctors she only had a month to live.

All these events have driven home to me the importance of relationships: my relationship with my husband, with my family, with my friends, and even with my next door neighbor. I'm still not sure how I should respond, or even if a response is necessary. The only thing I do know for sure is to love the people around you and not to risk regret.

By: Collin and Brittney