Monday, April 30, 2007

The Things All Kids Should Do

Since I mentioned, down below, the things all kids should do, I thought I would post them.  I will admit, I don't know where I got this, or who I stole it from; also, I have taken out the ones I don't want MY kids doing!  Some of these are great.  Where are we going to find fireflies in the desert??  Hmm,  Could we change that to "tarantulas", or maybe "scorpions"?

*Make mud pies.
*Splash in a big rain puddle.
*Play tag in the dark with flashlights.
*Go camping in a tent.
*Make homemade taffy.
*Experiment to churn butter in a mayonnaise container.

*Catch fireflies in a mayonnaise jar.
*Ride in a rowboat.
*Skip rocks on a pond.
*Swing on a tire swing.
*Play in the rain.
*Climb a tree!
*Play in the sprinkler.
*Tend to plants and/or animals.
*Make "tents" with blankets over furniture.
*Tumble and wrestle with Daddy.
*Swim. (Just for fun, not lessons or swim team.)
*Have dessert for dinner!
*Have popcorn for dinner.
*Help dad wash the car.
*Go fishing with daddy.
*Fly a kite.
*"Camp" out in the back yard.
*Catch snowflakes on their tongues, and make snow angels.
*Get DIRTY!!!!
*Make cookies (or bake anything) - letting the kids do the measuring of course.
*Put on a play.
*Put on a puppet show.
*Horse back ride.
*Hay ride (or sleigh ride).
*Lots of crafty stuff.
*Own and take care of a small pet.
*Slide down a steep hill on a cardboard box.
*Eat cotton candy and candied apples.
*Go to the county fair.
*Go fishing using homemade poles.
*Make a visit to the Ice Cream man who drives around your neighborhood.
*Riding bikes through puddles and then washing the bikes.
*Go to the circus.
*Play with a kitten.
*Wade in a creek.
*Make homemade popsicles.
*Go to the zoo.
*Ooh and ahh over fireworks. .
*Catch lightning bugs, crawdads, crickets, tadpoles and other "critters."
*Dance in the rain.
*Blow bubbles.
*Play in the mud.
*Plant flowers and seeds.
*Play with squirt guns and water hoses.
*Sing in the car, making up silly songs.
*Fishing and camping with Daddy and Grandpa.
*Have an imaginary friend.
*Make dandelion wishes.
*Eat flowers (ever taste a tiger lily?).
*Face paint clowns and put on our own circus.
*Go to the fair, eat cotton candy and ride the carousel.
*Watch a sunrise, and a sunset.
*Watch the full moon rise.
*Find cloud "pictures".
*Look at the stars.
*Act goofy and silly whenever possible.
*Laugh A LOT.
*Crack the egg into the batter and stir (even at the risk of dropping your best bowl and breaking it).
*Comb mom's hair (even if they make tangles).
*Make a gingerbread house (even if the gumdrops never make it on the fence).
*Pray for friends in need (even if it sets you back 25 minutes in starting school).
*Help paint anything.
*Go to work with Dad (even if he has the night shift and does not get home until 1:30a.m.)
*Have your attention (even if you have a deadline).
*Run ahead of you on a backyard hike (even if you want to hold their hand for the gazillionth time).
*Draw another picture (even if you want that paper for yourself).
*Have the last cookie (even if it's your special treat).
*Eat butter and jelly on saltine crackers!
*Sit under a tree while you read them a chapter book from cover to cover. 
*Ride a seesaw.
*Roller skate.
*Spend hours in the woods exploring God’s world.
*Dance and just be silly!
*Tumble down a hill
*Drink from a water hose
*Have a weenie roast
*Roast marshmallows

*Make S’mores
*Go on a treasure hunt
*Write messages in secret code
*Build a sand castle
*Have a lemonade stand
*Draw pictures with colored chalk on the driveway
*Collect seashells
*Find a stick and pretend it's a sword or play cops and robbers
*Make a fort under the kitchen/dining table
*Eat cake with your hands
*Chew bubble gum and blow a really big bubble and then peel it off your face
*Jump on your bed
*Squish mashed potatoes out of your mouth (ONCE!)

We have a few to work on, but having a list helps!

Fun at the Lake (No Snakes)

Ready to go in!


Brave Alie


This is one of the 101 Things Every Kid Should Do.


Yes, it's cold! (Yea, too cold for snakes in the water!)


Wild burros wait for us to go home, so they can get a drink.


Happy Family

Lessons Learned

I am sitting here waiting for the kids to get ready to go… it promises to be a very hot day again today (105F?), so we are off to the lake for a dip.  I used to think of “the lake” as a beautiful green spot with a tree-lined shore, and a nice big dock for sunning and diving.  Well, my header photo gives you some idea of our lake – it is HOT HOT HOT.  There is NO SHADE, not anywhere near the water, unless you are a spider.  It is rock and dirt and a few scattered weeds, maybe a snake or two, God forbid.  Did you know that some rattlesnakes swim?  I hope they think the water is too cold today… Later in the summer, the kids won’t want to go swimming when it is this “cold” out.  The evaporative effect of the desert is incredible, and makes you freezing cold when you are wet! I’ll post pics later.


Anyway, while I am waiting, I wanted to tell you what God taught ME in the children’s Sunday School lesson that I gave yesterday.  We were talking about Mary of Bethany, how she poured that precious ointment on the head and feet of her Saviour and filled the room with the wonderful fragrance, then wiped his feet with her hair… It hit me as I was telling the story, that Mary was close enough to Jesus to walk away smelling like him. He told the disciples that she was preparing his body for burial. That fragrance in her hair must have reminded her constantly of his death and resurrection, for this took place in the last days of his life. How often did women wash their hair in those days?  I would never want to wash my hair again, if its fragrance would remind me of my Jesus all the time!  Would a woman be likely to cut her hair if she were in mourning?  I wonder if Mary of Bethany cut her long hair off and kept it somewhere, to save that wonderful fragrance of Jesus…  I think I would have wanted to.


And another thing, the disciples were unhappy with Mary for “wasting” all that expensive perfume, which might have been sold, and the money given to the poor.  Did you know that nothing that God's children do for Christ is ever wasted?  I know of a young woman who desired with all her heart to play the piano. She told the Lord that if he would give her opportunity to learn, she would play ONLY God’s music.  The Lord heard her, and he taught her to play beautifully. She played only for him.  When asked to play “Happy Birthday”, she would say, “No, I’m sorry.  I promised the Lord that I would play only His music.” People said, “What a waste!  She is making a foolish sacrifice. She could play for an orchestra or accompany someone famous, and make lots of money with her talent!!”  Maybe she could, but they were wrong.  Like Mary, she committed her most treasured thing to Jesus.  That is no waste. And after what He has done for me, how can anything that I give to him be called a sacrifice??


Well, that’s what I learned.  I don’t know if my little kids learned anything :o)

Friday, April 27, 2007

So Obvious

     We are having a real problem here.  My kids don't want me to blog in the daytime.  My husband misses me at night. I tried at various times to log on today and I was unsuccessful, so I was just feeling like everyone was against me.  I consoled myself with chocolate chips, then perused some of my favorite sites, which have been neglected ever since I started blogging. 

     In our homeschooling we have done a teeny bit of classification for science, mostly the fact that humans are NOT part of the animal kingdom.  We have one thing that separates us from ALL animals, and that is an eternal soul. But today, over at Homeliving Helper, I learned of another thing that sets us apart, and this is so obvious, I should have thought of it long ago:

Quote from a candy blog:

 "Never ask why we cover anything in chocolate ... we cover things in chocolate because that’s what sets us apart from animals."

Who Needs Pricey Toys?


The UGLY Stone!

I read something at another person's blog and I will quote it here:

"This could be tough to do, because my Pastor's wife (and family) is watching !!  I might have to go into hiding after I am done with this. If you have not made the connection yet, it is diamonds I am the ugly stone in her life."

I thought about not saying anything for a few days, so this person would think I agreed with her, ha ha!  But let's get something straight here.  First of all, I am not watching. I have enough trouble keeping up with myself. Furthermore, the person who wrote this is one of those valuable background people who does a lot of things without being asked, takes care of things without being reminded, and who serves without putting herself in the spotlight. So about the ugly stone, I don't think so.  Even when she didn't like me and wanted her previous pastor's wife (and best friend!) back she was still kind and helpful. She never forgets to ask if there is something she can do. She is relatively young in the Lord has has grown by amazing leaps and bounds not only in doctrine, but in personal efforts at having a godly attitude.  I have never heard her gossip about anyone.  She is very closed-mouthed, and I know that if I were going to confide in someone here, it would be her.  So... if she is my ugly stone, what does that make everyone else??  Purple, you'd better take that back. I have thanked God for you in my life many, many times.  I pray I might somehow bless you as you have blessed me.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Seven Things About Me That You Don't Already Know

I never told you, but this blog is a tag-free zone, unless I really like the tag.  Well, Bobbie tagged me, and I know I can't come up with seven things as interesting as she did, but here they are anyway, because I have just been sitting here taking up space on the planet, and I might as well just post something :o):


1. I spent three years of my childhood in France.  I went to French school and translated stuff for my parents.  We traveled all over Europe, and that was the last time I was there! :o(


2. The ocean makes me cry.


3. I never wanted any children. When I changed my mind, I decided I wanted only boys.  God said, “Honey, you are way too selfish to have boys. Boys don’t take as much selflessness as girls do – you can just send them outside for the entire day.  Girls will require you to spend all day with them.  I know what is best for you and what will make you most happy.  You are going to have only girls!”  He was right, of course, on both counts!  (I am just beginning to realize how full of myself I am. And I wouldn't trade my girls for anything.) I just hope He hurries up with my transformation to un-selfishness.


4. I am a pastor’s wife.  I know, I revealed that just recently, but maybe you missed it.  I was keeping it a secret, because, well, people just treat you differently when they know that. I thought I could blog incognito, but as I told my friend, passionforpurple, I never was good at keeping secrets about myself.  I was one of those pregnant women who ran outside and told the whole world when the little pink line showed up on the home pregnancy test! Nevermind waiting til the first three months went by! I was just too happy to keep it a secret!


5. Once I interviewed for a job that required things I had no idea about – writing grants for housing rehab and public facilities for small communities.  The boss asked me, “Can you write grants??”  I told him, “I can do anything.”  I was hired :o)


6. I have been an insulin-dependent diabetic for 27 years, and I am on an insulin pump.


7. I believe the King James Bible is the inspired and preserved Word of God for English-speaking people. (Draw any conclusion that you want to from that statement!)  I know that as well as I know Jesus Christ saved my soul!


     Okay, now I am tagging FIVE people:  Tracy (you have probably already done this, but you are such an interesting person you will not have any trouble coming up with seven more interesting things!), Short, Jimmie, Monkeymom, and ShayC.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Seeing Clearly

(If you go to MBC and are reading this, STOP! It will be in the newsletter :o)

     The alarm clock beeps.  Clumsily I grab at it, taking too long to find the button to turn it off.  My mind is coming out of the dark, but I can’t get my eyes open yet.  In a few minutes I roll out of bed.  I know right where to reach for my old glasses, and I can find my drawer for something to wear. But until I put in my contact lenses, I really can’t see very well. For that reason, putting in my contacts is one of the very first things I do each morning.

     One day as I was doing just that, it dawned on me that my Bible is also a corrective lens, without which I cannot see clearly to get through the day.  Without my Bible first thing, I don’t recognize the stumbling blocks of temptation. I don’t recognize God’s presence in my moments.  My steps are uncertain and fearful, because I have forgotten that light for my path. When I am looking through the lens of the morning news; or the inconvenience of getting breakfast for kids,  when I wanted to do other things; or an aching body, the day’s image is completely distorted. What a pathetic condition, and yet, how simple to correct it!

     It is important to start out each day looking through the right lens.  The more Bible I put in, and the sooner I do it, the more clearly I can see.  I can focus on the details of God’s working in my life and in the lives of others, details that I miss without his Word in my “eyes”. Join me as I purpose (again) in my heart, to daily (and early) use the corrective lenses God gave me for my spiritual sight.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Making Memories



We had a slumber party last night, just mom and the girls. Our kids don’t spend nights at their friends, so this is a big deal here :o) We all camped out on the family room floor (now clean, thank you, Amy!), ate popcorn and dill pickles, said goodnight to Daddy via phone, and stayed up late listening to a dramatized version of the literary classic, A High Wind in Jamaica., plus a few Five-Minute Mysteries from  We have never had television in our home, so these audios can really get the girls’ imaginations going :o)


At about 10:00pm (which is like MIDNIGHT to my younger two – Really Late at Night), Emily asked if we could have oatmeal for breakfast. Now, I know that when Emily asks for oatmeal, she is not talking about the goopy stuff you add ½ C water to and stick in the microwave for 60 seconds. This is Baked Oatmeal, something yummy and filling, which we were introduced to in Canada. So being the wonderful mom that I am (this week), I got off the hard floor, worked my old bones and joints around, and went into the kitchen to whip up some make-ahead breakfast. I had told the girls that I might not make it all night on the floor, but I would try.  I couldn’t do it. Everything ached about three minutes after I lay down. I endured as long as I could, but as soon as I heard four little girls breathing deeply, I tiptoed to my own bed!  My whole body relaxed when I put my head down.  What would I do without a bed?!  I went to sleep thinking about all the people in the world who sleep on the ground or on a straw mat. 


This morning our stomachs growled while we sniffed our breakfast baking. Overnight Baked Oatmeal is really like a big oatmeal cookie in a bowl. I sometimes add chopped apple and/or nuts.  It is wonderful with warm milk or cream poured over it. All we selfish girls were glad Daddy wasn’t home, so we could eat his share! :o)  We ran off to the park before doing anything important, and hey, I forgot to tell you, WE’RE DONE WITH SCHOOL!!!!!!!! YAYYAYYAYYAY! But there are times, you all know, when you can have “school” and your kids don’t even know it.  At the playground I was reading outloud Ruth Beechick's book, You Can Teach Your Child Successfully, and the older girls were mentally multiplying large numbers by 11, as they climbed and slid and ran around.  (Ha ha! They just think school is over!)


P.S. Baked Oatmeal Recipe coming soon at Amy's Recipes.



Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Diamonds Again!

No, not really. I'm not writing about diamonds. But  Bubbebobbie commented on an earlier post, that diamonds are transparent, which is something I didn't address in all my "diamonds" posts. That earlier post was about how some of us don't show the negative stuff about home, life, school, self, whatever, on our blogs, myself being the example. Well, I am just not very good at being transparent, so I guess maybe that is something the Master Craftsman is going to have to cut away at or polish, or whatever.  So in an effort at transparency, I am going to show you the condition of my family room.  Here it is:

That is pretty typical, but it is often much worse. Actually, I think someone must have done some picking up before that photo was taken. At the other end of this room is this mess, and another which is our computer disaster area.

Now, I do have to take full credit for the sewing table mess.  Just in case you are wondering, those two Pizza Hut boxes that are under the mess behind my sewing machine do not contain six-week-old pizza -- they are very handy for storing quilt blocks!  Cleaning up this room was on my list of things to do while DH is out of town, but I am running out of days!  For those of you who can identify with this disaster, I will tell you a sure, but expensive solution.  Get new carpet!  We did a few months ago, and for several weeks we did very well at keeping things in their places.  It was just so nice to have an uncluttered house and a visible floor, that we all made more of an effort to keep it that way.  But you know entropy... our batteries ran down (speaking of which, you must go over and read Alizona's new post on that topic!). It must be time here for new carpet again. Or some initiative...

For Mom

This beautiful painting graces my living room wall and is a treasured possession. My very own professional artist mother painted this watercolor. The subject of the painting is something that Mom has always enjoyed -- from smooth glassy lakes to crashing ocean waves, Mom loves water. The painting is near to my heart, because it reminds me of her continually, not just that she is there, but of who and what she is.


It is my mom’s birthday today.  I sent her a card that said simply, “Because of you, counting my blessings takes a very, very long time.” And it is so true. My mom was one of a shrinking minority of women who stayed home with her children.  When I was a child, I never thought for one moment about what it would be like to come home daily to nobody, and I never thought about how the house got clean, and I never thought about what Mom might have been sacrificing to give us kids a stable and loving upbringing. I was involved in Campfire Girls and swim team and gymnastics and other things just because I had a mom who stayed home. Mom cheered us kids on at soccer and water polo and baseball and music lessons and tall flags team, and she COULD do that, because she didn’t have her life committed to someone or something else.  Many of the other kids performed or raced or played without any family in the audience, and then went home to an empty house. Did they know someone loved them? I knew someone loved me.  Mom was (and is) committed to her family, to ME.


The stress of my high school years was the nagging question, “What are you going to do after high school?” or, “Where are you going to college?” I could never really decide, and then feel like I had made the right decision. In all the career guidance classes and seminars I sat through, no one ever suggested that being a wife and mother was even a choice, or else I might have said, “THAT! That’s what I want to be! I want to be what my mom is!” So off I went to college, since that is what everyone, including me, expected me to do, and got a degree in biology, which I don’t use today except that I can identify whether the stuff growing at the base of the toilet is a mold or a fungus. (And here I must say that while, if I had it to do over again, I probably wouldn't go to college, I am very grateful to my parents for sending me.  I got a wonderful husband out of the deal :o)


On a recent visit to my parents’ house, as we were sitting in traffic somewhere, Mom told me she now is wishing she had prepared for a career, and that she had not stayed home. I was surprised, and I think I mumbled something about how grateful I was (and am) that she DID stay home and that she DIDN’T have a career somewhere. I know that for me, independence came soon enough. It would not have been good for me to have been on my own after school.  I am the person I am today because Mom was always there. Mom’s love for Dad and her love for my brothers and me gave my life stability. It was an anchor. Her giving up a career and postponing chasing after other interests is one key reason why I have a good marriage and a happy family. That is a gift that she gave me when I left home. I can’t imagine what my life would be without Mom as I know her.  A working mother would have been a completely different mother.


So, Mom, on your birthday, let me tell you thank you. It has taken me tooooo long to realize what you gave when you stayed home with us kids. Certainly it took being a mom, myself, to see that, but I wish I had been less self-centered and more thoughtful when I was growing up, so that I could have expressed this sooner, like when I was 12 or 16 or 21 or 35. Thank you for all the times you stayed in my room talking, when I should have been asleep.  Thank you for all the times you trusted me, even when I came in at 1:00 a.m.  Thank you for all the times you went out of your way to accommodate my friends.  Thank you for loving me when I was most unloveable! Thank you for encouraging me to write. Thank you for sooooo patiently teaching me to sew. Thank you for all the times you have helped me/us move. Thank you for sticking by me and believing in me, in times when you can’t identify with me or understand my heart. Thank you, most of all, for being home.


If I could truly express what it has meant to me now to have had a mom who was THERE, you would change your mind about that career. You had a career, and you did it well.  It had a much better and longer-lasting impact on the world than anything else you ever wanted to be. I love you so much.  Happy Birthday, and God bless you specially, today and always.



Monday, April 16, 2007

Last Week's Project

Okay, here's a picture of what I was so busy with last week.  It looks like I put the top buttons up too high, and I hope these coats aren't going to choke my friend's twins! (Dolls not included. More on them below.) I love the big buttons for little fingers.  This is a Burda pattern, size 3. I planned ahead for procrastination!  They are made of fleece -- so easy to sew. The pink one is lined with elephants, and the red one with jazzy alligators.

I know someone is going to ask about the dolls, so I am going to tell you before I get a bunch of questions! Many years ago now, I got a book with a title something like "101 Things for Your Preschooler to Do While You Get Something Done". One of the suggestions was to make you child a doll out of newsprint, tracing their body for a pattern, drawing a face on, and then putting crumpled up paper between two layers stapled together.  Newsprint? Staples??  I don't think so.  How long do you think that would last?  The project the mom was trying to get done would have to be finished in about 3 seconds.  So on the spur on the moment, I had Alison lie down, and I traced her. I used an old sheet for fabric, and in no time, she had a new friend, just her size, who could wear her clothes! Alison, who was then about two years old, named her Baby Honey.  In the subsequent years Baby Honey acquired three sisters, Candy, Cookie, and Sugar (from left to right, below), and they are known around here as the "Sweet Sisters". The three of them have been the main characters of some memorable stories. Do you believe in evolution?  If not, you will after you see this photo.  Actually, Cookie is the most evolved of the four. Baby Honey has no hands or feet, button eyes and felt lips. Candy's button eyes make her look like she is on drugs. Cookie has socks and shoes, hands and feet, and embroidered facial features. Sugar does too, but she sort of resembles a corpse with her eyes open, since all I could find for fabric was a pale pink, and not peach. These have been the best-loved dolls in the house.

Try, Try Again

Saturday, April 14, 2007

How Old Am I Really?

Old woman, or young lady? Today I wasted about 20 minutes of on-line time taking the Real Age Test. I found out that I am really 15 years older than I have been alive.  This is bad.  The really bad part about that test is that my husband took it, too, and he is actually 6 years younger than he really is, so that now makes me 21 years older than him. Chronologically he is two weeks older than I am, but the “old man” jokes are over now! So while I am ready to forget the Real Age test and pooh-pooh its relevance, he is never going to let me forget it…. Oh my.  I will have to ask him how he likes being married to an Older Woman. He is gloating still. For those of you who do not know my dear husband, his ego did not need this. Am I depressed? NO. While he is feeling strong, young, and virile, I am confident, mature, wise, and experienced in life. ...I guess it’s not so bad, after all, being older than I really am...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Mystery Man

If you have been following my comments closely you have noticed there is a strange person posting on my blog.  My guess is that this person is not a registered HSB member, since there is never a link.  He has named himself Granola Eater, Monocog Man, Weather Man, Hershey Man, History Accuracy Man, and Remedial Reading Man. He has also left a comment on Alizona’s blog, under the guise of Science Answer Man. He sounds like quite an expert, don’t you think?  Do you think he is dangerous??  We will have to wait and see.  If he also leaves comments under the name Early Riser Man, Financial Planner Man, Best at Everything Man, or Bible Answer Man, I will begin to suspect that it is my husband…

Monday, April 9, 2007

An Ex-Typical Day in My Life (Thank Goodness!)

This is something I wrote on “one of those days”, quite a while back. And I thank God that this day really isn’t very typical anymore!  Grab a cup or two of whatever you drink, because it's loooong.  Like the loooong day that it was!


I wake up.  It is 45 minutes later than I wished to get out of bed the night before, but since I stayed up too late, I didn’t set an alarm.  Groan.  I hear my husband moving around and decide I’d better get up.  I grab some clean underwear and a bathrobe and aim for the bathroom.  He gives me a cheerful, “Good morning,” and I realize I am wearing my perpetual frown, the one that has given me permanent vertical ravines between my eyes.  I mutter something unintelligible.


I dry off and throw on my robe, then sneak through the house to find a clean skirt in the laundry room.  I step on the creaky floor board, but no one cries out, “Mommy!”  Good.  I manage to dress and even dry my hair before the daily onslaught of responsibility.  Dare I attempt my devotion time?  I dare.  Closing my eyes to pray, I feel drowsiness coming on again.  I’ll pray later.  I reach for my Bible. David is sending men to Nabal for food and supplies, and Nabal sends them back with nothing.  That Nabal.  He sounds like my children.  MY bread!  MY water!  MY flesh!  No, Nabal sounds like me. MY time.  MY sleep.  My SELF!  Dear Lord Jesus, forgive me for being a Nabal.  Everything I have I received from you.


One of the “cares of this world” on my bedroom floor, an unpacked suitcase, lures me away from my devotions.  I take an armload to the little girls’ room, smile at sleepy Elisabeth,6, and tip-toe to the dresser.  Emily, 2, bursts out of sleep and yells, ‘Hi Mommy!”  The morning quiet is over!  “Off!” she yells.  “Off jammies!” One leg is sticking through the zipper of her sleepers.  I help her out of them.  “I DO IT! I DO IT!” she insists.  Okay, you do it.  I slip a t-shirt and a jumper over her head and let her do the rest.  The Man of the House says goodbye and heads for work.  I start a load of wash, and I am impressed with myself for remembering to take some chicken out of the freezer for supper.  I hunt down an “everything” bagel and pop both halves into the toaster. Then I take a look at the nutrition label.  Three hundred twenty calories!  And I am going to smother it with "lite" (ha) cream cheese.  Oh well, I will start my diet when this package is gone.  I start the computer and hear a row beginning in the little girls’ room.  Amy, 9, stumbles into the light and leans against me for a morning hug.  I give her a squeeze and move her aside, heading for the little girls’ room again. 


Emily sits on the toilet for 5 seconds, and then she is off and running. I suspect she has already wet her diaper, so, okay.  We are going to try training pants today.  I remember to set the timer for 10 minutes so we can try again. My bagel is now cold, definitely not worth four hundred calories. Elisabeth has “nothing to wear” except for four skirts that she has left in a heap at the foot of her bed, and a drawer full of t-shirts.  Emily wants cereal for breakfast, but I know she won’t eat it.  I hand her half of a blueberry bagel.  Each of the big girls has her nose in a book, and is barely eating her breakfast.  I prod them.  I am surprised to see Elisabeth eating Rice Krispies and bananas, with MILK!  Emily wants a snack.  I tell her, no, eat your bagel.  The timer goes off, and we run to the bathroom to try.  Nothing.  I set the timer again.


Having escaped to the world of fiction, Alison, 11, and Amy have forgotten their normal morning routines.  I find them sitting at their school desks, still reading about something imaginary, with a lively trumpet CD for background music.  Elisabeth pours the surprise milk down the drain. The phone rings, and it is my husband.  He speaks two sentences and Amy screams, “Emily has a mess in her panties!”  “Emergency,” I tell the Man, and hang up.  The timer goes off.  We clean up the mess.  Correction, I clean up the mess with four people watching.  I put a diaper on Emily.  Toilet training can wait (again). Alison calls Dad to let him know we are okay. Back in the dining room, I want to know who left a bowl on the table, empty of cereal, but one quarter full of milk.  Amy gets up to take care of her dish.  I needn’t have asked who.


Elisabeth’s animal drawing needs a bit of white-out, RIGHT NOW.  I must remember to call the music teacher about Alie’s violin lesson.  I hope I will remember later, but not too much later.  I make an attempt at cleaning the kitchen. Elisabeth has a melt-down.  I have forgotten the white-out.  Nevermind, she doesn’t want white-out on her drawing now; it takes TOO LONG to put it on there, and her picture is ruined, anyway.  I hug her to me and worry that she is too thin.  Should we see a doctor?  I sneak a chocolate chip cookie, and then check the email. Twenty or thirty minutes later I am still at the computer, wrapped up in someone's blogpost on Thanksgiving.  Time disappears like a chocolate chip cookie.  It’s there and then it’s gone, and it’s never enough.


“Okay,” I announce to everyone and no one, “ Today we are going to have a normal day where we do school and clean the house up.  Everyone have teeth brushed and hair combed?” No. (I still have not brushed my own teeth, but I am the mother.)  Alison gets up to take care of her bathroom stuff, and I start another load of wash. I have heard enough of “Bugler’s Holiday”.  We turn off the music, and I am ready to start school, sort of.  Chores aren’t done yet, and I’m certain the children have not thought of them.  “Can we have devotions first?” asks Amy.  Um, okay.  Anything to delay school starting, but it’s right to do devotions first.   I read aloud to three of the girls about a particularly flat South American frog that keeps on cheerfully doing the job God gave it to do, even though it appears as if it has been sat on.  I think, How appropriate.  The entire time I am reading, Emily carries on a loud one-sided conversation, something like, “Can I have a sucker? Can I have a sucker?  Sucker, please. Mom, sucker!  Mommy. Mom. MOM!”  Okay, we need to pray.  “Dear Lord, our day is not happening decently and in order, the way you want it.  Please help me to lead these little girls into an ordered day and an ordered life.  We need your help and grace today.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.” Elisabeth is sobbing.  She is not ready for school, has not brushed her teeth or hair yet.  I tell her again to go and take care of it. 


Now combed and brushed, Elisabeth asks if she can just do one column of math today and call it done.  Sure, whatever.  Alison is laboring over the details of the Minor Prophets.  Which Old Testament book has to do with skepticism?  And which writer was a southerner in the northern kingdom?  I don’t know. I still need to make that phone call. Emily has succeeded now in littering the hallway and the entire dining room. Elisabeth despairs over her memory verse.  We learn it together, after a very brief altercation involving the “happy stick”.  I ask for the Lord’s help to be a good mom today. Hopefully it’s not too late.  Amy and her fractions are not mortal enemies today; I thank the Lord.  She just needs a bit of help.  Alison interrupts with a question.  Elisabeth interrupts the interruption.  Emily follows suit. I think about all the things that are going on in this moment, and the fact that I never get one thing done all the way all at once. I turn to the computer and begin an effort at creative writing, expecting never to finish. I write two sentences about this day in my life before I get up to find a tissue for Em’s nose, and another clandestine cookie for me.


I start another load of wash. Okay, now for that phone call...  Our teacher will be coming in two hours. I announce Alison’s music lesson time.  She has just finished with her Bible lesson and flies into her room to practice.  Emily still wants a snack.  I hand her half of her rejected breakfast bagel.  She drops it on the kitchen floor and stands on it.  I toss the bagel pieces into the trash.  No snack. I tell her to pick up the pieces of her floor puzzle.  Elisabeth and Amy have taken a self-awarded break and are running through the house, strategically leaping over toys.  Amy stops to bang a few lines on the piano after each lap. The phone rings.  It’s our violin teacher saying she’s going to be late. I complete a paragraph and a half of my writing project, and again I think of the afore-mentioned suitcase in the bedroom.  I still need to brush my teeth… and get the girls back to their schoolwork.  The floor puzzle is still scattered all over the floor.  Emily and I pick it up together.  She dumps it out again and begins connecting pieces. 


Music teacher comes fifteen minutes early.  Emily is exploring the pantry.  I finish taking clothes out of the dryer, which I started to do earlier, and I start another load.  Em finds a pack of ramen noodles. I set her soup in front of her and start over again in the kitchen for two more servings.  Alison will have to eat later. I look over at Emily.  She is going a great job with her spoon, shoveling proficiently.  Less than five minutes later I find she has resorted to eating soup with her fingers. Her front is covered with ramen, and she is eating out of the palm of her hand. She wiggles out of her seat, peppering the floor with food bits.  Noodles and bagel bits top the carpet under Emily’s chair like crushed crackers on a casserole. She sweetly asks again for a sucker.  Okay, I relent.  It disappears in two minutes. Now a cookie.  One, I tell her. 


Alison’s lesson sounds like it is going well.  Amy snaps a digital picture of her sister playing, and interrupts to show her the image.  Emily climbs the piano bench and lends an unharmonious accompaniment to the violin lesson.  I retreat to the computer to check the email yet again, and send a note to my mother. Amy empties the dishwasher.  Violin lesson is over.  We agree that Alison could get the bathroom cleaned while I make her a grilled cheese sandwich. Amy conducts art class with Elisabeth at the kitchen table. ...Emily is too quiet.  I find her making chaos of a big sister’s school desk.  We get out some magnetic shapes, which she happily distributes around the house.  I change her diaper and put her down for her nap, then pick up the big puzzle pieces again.


Tuning out life, I escape to the computer and add a bit to my writing.  The clothes in the dryer are done and getting wrinkled.  That partially unpacked suitcase is still there.  The laundry is all washed, but not folded. The house is a disaster.  I am three days behind on my Bible reading, and a lifetime behind in my prayer life.  I am about twenty years overdue for some regular exercise.  My teeth are still fuzzy.  And guess what – the puzzle pieces have been dumped on the floor again. I wonder if I will ever be able to do a task from start to finish without being interrupted.  The audio drama, “Pilgrim’s Progress”, fills house a bit too loudly for my comfort, but the girls are quietly doing math and calligraphy as they listen.  Alison comes and wraps her arms around me and tells me she loves me, and begins to read over my shoulder.  Soon she is beside herself with giggles.  I realize she is viewing this record of our morning from a different perspective than I have seen it.  I have been focused on the tired side, the hopeless, dreary side.  She sees a funny toddler, a crazy “schedule”, a fun day, sisters who are great playmates, and a mom who does it all because of love!  In spite of myself, I begin to giggle, too, and pretty soon we are laughing together. 


…It is now late in the evening.  It is quiet and even my dear husband has gone to bed.  There is still clean laundry piled on the couch, and the floor of the entire house is littered with reminders of sweet Emily’s presence.  But the chores got done, the dining room carpet bears no evidence of Emily’s breakfast or lunch, and that suitcase is now empty. For those of you who are wondering, yes, I did finally brush my teeth.  As I crawl into bed tonight, I will thank the Lord for the activity of this day, and for the four precious girls who make my life full, even for the clutter and the clamor they create in a normal day.  Most of all I will thank God for a daughter whose giggles adjusted my focus and caused me to see how blessed my life really is.  This has been, after all, a wonderfully typical day! The end.



Now. Wasn’t that simply exhausting?? (Makes that comic down below that much more appropriate! LOL!)  I know some of my friends here can relate to my “day”. Thank the Lord they aren’t all like that! 




Saturday, April 7, 2007

My Lovely Girls

Today I am posting photos of my kids.  Everywhere we go, someone always comments on how beautiful my girls are, and I felt I should show you so that they get credit for their incredible good looks. (They got 50% from me, you know.)


This is Alison, below. She is 12, plays the piano and violin beautifully, and loves to explore with the computer and software.  She is the technical assistant in this house, and a good domestic assistant also. Please email her if you hear of any sort of voice auditions for audio.  Her greatest wish is a part on Jonathan Park (see my links)!


This one is Amy, 10, below. Amy would give up her rights to an education in a second, if given the opportunity to trade for full rights to the kitchen and all related equipment and ingredients.  She plays piano by ear. A couple of years ago she would insist she needed the hymnbook to play, and then she would play the song with full left hand accompaniment, in a completely different key than was written.  She still does this, but no longer needs the book. I don’t get how she does that.


Elisabeth, 7, below, often has her nose in a book, as you can see.  Funny, because she hated learning how to read. We got through the first few lessons of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, and then she wanted books. No more of that baby stuff!  She loves history and Legos, and she is the quiet one of the family.  Usually.  She is teaching herself how to play the piano.


And here’s Emily, below.  Em is three and sings all the time.  She has all the tunes in Beethoven’s Wig (see my links) memorized, and is often heard humming something classical.  She started learning to read six months ago.  Today she asked me why “Sally” has to have two L’s in it. I explained it to her, but I don’t think she got it.


Aren’t they beautiful?

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Digital Blogtography


This post is for those of you who, like me, tend to compare yourself with others, and get to feeling glum about yourself or your homeschool.  I see a trend in the blog world that is much akin to digital photography and airbrushing.  Shall we call it “digital blogtography”? You’ve seen the Dove Campaign For Real Beauty video, haven’t you?  A woman walks into a set and sits down. She is not unattractive.  She does look rather plain, but if she had combed out her hair and put a nice natural smile on her face, she would have been transformed. For the next several minutes, the video shows in fast motion her skin tone evened out, make-up applied, eyebrows drawn on, eyes and lips painted, and hair styled. A fan blows her hair to give her that model look. She now looks beautiful, but artificial.  Next comes the real magic.  Digital technicians use computer software to lengthen her neck a bit, raise the centers of her eyebrows, widen her eyes, lengthen her nose, raise her cheekbones, fill in her lips, highlight her hair, and augment the various colors of her face.  The new image is then plastered to a billboard.  The final image looks nothing like the woman whose face it is. The video illustrates the evolution of what we perceive as beauty, but the end is fictional.  Oh, sure, there is a real woman, but the woman on the billboard does not exist. The point of the video is to show women that that by which we measure outward beauty is a false standard. Real beauty comes from within us. We compare ourselves to an impossible goal!


As I have clicked from blog to blog, visiting various friends and random posts, I can’t help feeling that what I see is similar to this video.  I see an end product that is fictional.  Oh, I am not accusing anyone of anything false – I myself am guilty of it.  On my blog, I only want to share with you the positive things about my family, my spiritual life, and our homeschooling experience. Yesterday I posted about my wonderful husband, the finisher. I didn’t tell you about any of his faults, or the things about him that absolutely frustrate me.  I have never mentioned the fact that the top of my fridge hasn’t been wiped off for a year. I don’t want anyone to know how I really reacted when one of my kids disobeyed me, or when the toilet overflowed, or when the neighbor’s loud music drove me to distraction. (I am making all these things up, of course, lol!)  I don’t post those things! So then, what you see on my blog is a distortion of what my life and my home are really like.  Have you ever found yourself feeling like you don’t measure up somehow, when you read my blog? Maybe not, but if you do, you are comparing yourself to a false standard.


The temptation is strong for me to envy your orderly schedule or the fact that your family gets to travel all over, or that your house is clean and beautifully decorated, or that you have it all together spiritually. But a particular verse often comes to my mind when, like Dinah of the Bible, I am out seeing the “daughters of the land” from my computer.  It is 2 Corinthians 10:12, For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.I don’t want to be fretful about all the things I see in you, that I have not been endowed with or worked for, such as diligence, industry, consistency, etc.  I want to be wise and compare myself not to others, but to Jesus Christ.  God is equipping me with what I need to teach my children and to be a good mom to them. I must to be grateful to him for the place where I am, and to be content with the circumstances in which I am teaching my kids.  And so must you.


Here is the point. The next time the blog you are visiting makes you wish you were more like the image you see, remember --  It’s not real.  Oh, sure. There is a family there, and they love one another, and they homeschool. But the image you see is distorted. You don't see the whole picture. The real beauty of homeschooling life is right where you are.

Chocolate Radar

My daughter Booklover has been able to smell chocolate since the day she was born. Seriously, “chocolate” was one of her first words. It should have been her middle name. I can almost NEVER sneak into my stash of chocolate chips without her hearing either the squeaky cupboard door (which must have a squeak that is distinguishable from all my other squeaky cupboard doors), or the crinkle of the chocolate chip bag.  She knows the difference between the sound of potato chip bag crinkles, nut bag crinkles, and chocolate chip bag crinkles. She can smell chocolate on my breath from ten feet away.  This would all be okay if she didn’t subtly demand that I SHARE! So then I grudgingly give her a few, maybe a dozen. (She says the most I have ever shared with her at one time is eighteen.)  But I have three other girls who like chocolate, too.  Now then, since we live in a communist house, and everyone in the house has to have the same amount, all the kids have to have some.  Isn’t there a rule somewhere, that girls don’t need to have chocolate until they reach puberty, and that moms are not obligated to share their chocolate until that time??  After all, they will be dependent on it for the rest of their lives...

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

A Finisher!

As we speak, my dear husband is engaged in what he calls the Union Pass Tri-State Century.  This is a 100-mile bike ride touching Arizona, Nevada, and California, with 6100 feet of elevation climb.  In a few hours he will arrive home dog tired, starving, and down about 5 pounds, so I have a roast in the crock-pot and supper plans for mashed potatoes, veggies, melon, and a loaf of fresh bread right from the machine. Some cookies or cake would be in order, too, don’t you think?  Anyway, does this kind of a ride sound fun to you?  It doesn’t to me! It sounds grueling. Exhausting.  Strenuous enough to make to make me vomit several times en route.  I just shake my head when he undertakes these “fun” rides! 


But you know what?  This part of his personality is one of the things I love about my man.  My husband is a member of the Caleb Club of Joshua 14:12.  That is reserved for men who are willing to fight and gruel and sweat and persevere and conquer the mountains in their lives. I am married to a man who faithfully got up for work at 2:30 a.m. and waited for the bus in dark, wet, windy and FREEZING sub-zero temps, to meet the needs of his family. (See why we like Arizona now?) When God called him to go to Canada, he obeyed the Lord and we went, without waiting to see how God was going to provide for us.  When he was out of a regular job, he tagged barrettes at Target for minimum wage. He has taken tickets at event parking and worked security. (Borrrring!)  He was willing to do whatever was necessary for us to survive, and to keep his wife home with his children.  He fought without complaining, and he achieved his goal.


He is the same way with truth.  He has fought and strived and contended for truth whether it was popular or not.  Once, after many hours spent with just his Bible and the Lord, he stood at the pulpit and confessed that he had been wrong on a particular doctrinal issue, and that he had also taught it wrong.  Another time he was “fired” from a ministry for standing for a moral issue, and was left 2000 miles from home, high and dry with a family of five, and no financial support.  But humiliation didn’t keep him from continuing in God’s work.  Still he fights against the current. 


Although it is sometimes difficult for me, I am proud to be married to a man like that.  He stands his ground.  He won’t be moved.  There is coming a day in America when men like him won’t have the freedom to preach truth publicly.  I am thankful to have a husband who, by God’s grace, will not compromise on conviction. By God’s grace, he will go to his grave like Caleb did, still fighting the enemies of the Lord, and still contending for his mountain!  I am so very thankful to know that when things get hard, my man will keep going, and he will finish.


Yes, my husband will be exhausted when he gets home from his ride, but he will have finished!We girls will greet him in a few hours with, “Well done, Daddy!” When he finishes his life’s race, it will be the Lord Jesus greeting him.  He will say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant!”  I thank the Lord for giving me a man who will never make me ashamed of loving him. My husband is a finisher. He's a winner!


Tuesday, April 3, 2007

No More Terrible Tuesdays

Early in my Christian life I was learning about my calling from the Lord to be my husband’s helpmeet.  I was happy enough to quit my job and to give my home and family my full attention, but at the time I was pregnant and emotional, and well, just sort of pathetic with self-pity. On this particular day I was feeling helplessly overwhelmed and needy.  I can’t imagine why – I had only one child, and the entire day to do what I wanted to do.  But anyway, that morning I had been thinking on the fact that I was to be the Big Gem’s helper.  That ugly character, Resentment, and his friend, Despair, filled my heart as I sat down to memorize my Bible verse for the day. “...An help meet for him...” I thought, and then I wailed, “But God, where’s MY helpmeet?!?  I NEED HELP TOO!” Tearfully I took up my stack of verse cards and turned to my verse for the day.  Can you guess what it was?


Hebrews 13:5,6  Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.


“Oh,” I said meekly. I laughed then, as I realized that, there was Jesus, right there, helping me at that very second, exhorting me to be content, reassuring me that HE is my helper!  My husband has me for a helper, but I have GOD! Wow!!  God's timing is perfect.  So many times my verse for the day filled an immediate need in my heart!


So today, when the morning started out to be another Terrible Tuesday, I cried out to the Lord my Helper, and he immediately gave me a bit of sense that I should have gotten on my own wayyy back when we first started homeschooling. (This is a no-brainer.) I have been really frustrated trying to get everyone going and finally into their schoolwork in the morning, and that has been due mostly to the distraction of Legos, books, and the computer. Well, the girls and I established a new practice this morning.  New Rule: No Reading (Except Bible) or Playing or Computer Until After School and Chores Are Completely Done for the Day. (That computer part is for me.) Are you all laughing at me and thinking, This woman needs help! ?? Yeah, well I knew that.  School went so much better this morning – thanks to my Helper :o)

Monday, April 2, 2007

Finally Diamonds

I don’t know whether or not this is true (even if it isn’t true, it makes for a great spiritual application), but I have heard that diamonds are really very plentiful, and that they are, in fact, almost of no value.  However, since the diamond cartels control not only the pricing of diamonds, but also their availability, most people consider diamonds to be very precious. Some people (not me!) would pay many thousands of dollars for just one.  Isn’t it the same way with souls?  They are very plentiful. Common. We humans tend to put one another on a pedestal, and we esteem our humanity to be really something. Yet God knows that in our lost state, our value is nothing.  In spite of that fact, because we are of great worth to him, he gave the thing most precious to him, the sinless blood of his only Son, to purchase you and me from the kingdom of darkness. God knows that the soul of a lost man has great potential in his own kingdom. To him, that soul (my soul!) was worth all the suffering of Jesus Christ, and worth every drop of blood that ran from his wounded body. What price, redemption!

For several posts (here, here, here, and here)I have dwelt on gems and the factors that determine their value. The final consideration is skill of the craftsman who cuts and polishes the stone.  He must decide what shape will best show off the stone’s beauty, and he must cut it with precision.  His cuts are placed where they will best reveal the glory of the stone, which in turn reveals the glory of the craftsman. He then shapes the stone on an abrasive wheel. Afterwards he buffs it to a high polish.  Then he places the stone in the setting that pleases him most. Our master craftsman is God himself!  Psalm 139, “I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works, and that my soul knoweth right well.  My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.”  Just like a diamond!  The Master Craftsman found this rough sinner and began to make me into a jewel for his own crown.  Only he found me worth cutting and polishing; only he knows how much I could stand. He is not finished in a day.  It is a long process.  He has a final shape in mind, and all the while he has the most wonderful setting in mind for this gem -- the one that will best show off not only his skill, but his glorious reflection! Wow, can I possibly remember that each circumstance in my life is exactly where he wants me?!

 The transformation from carbon to diamond, from ugly and black inside to beautiful, brilliant, and valuable, is possible for every soul who will be “found” by Jesus Christ. When you are tired of walking in darkness, lost in sin, he will take you just as you are. But he will not let you stay that way.  His desire is to make you come forth as gold. Trust him first with your soul, and after that, yield yourself to him in each detail of your life. Like me, you are a diamond in the rough. God’s desire to make us precious in his own sight!

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