Saturday, April 26, 2008

Work Day

Warning: If you have already read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie to your toddler a zillion times, this will seem like a repeat.

All I wanted to do was wash the curtains in my bedroom and bathroom.  Honestly.  I don't know how these little tiny jobs turn into three-hour projects!  I took down the dusty curtains and threw them in the wash, then hung them on the line.  In five minutes they were ready to be hung up again.  But then I thought, I should really wash these windows first.  Before washing windows, though, I needed to move the horizontal blinds, cough, cough, sneeze!  Better clean those, too. Upon further examination, the windowsills needed a good scrubbing. So I did that. But what is the point of washing only the insides of the windows, when the screens and the exterior of the windows contain 20% of the dust in the surrounding desert? Off came the screens, and I began scrubbing. The girls saw what a fun time I was having, and pretty soon I was out of a job,  Tom Sawyer style.

I know you're curious. Why are all the girls matching? They were planning ahead for a game of tag in the dark last night, which they did, with Kristy's kids and their friend, Mackenzie.  No, Alizona and Booklover are not twins. And yes, Emily seems to have a conviction against wearing a pony-tail in her hair.

The crowning moment was when my kids THANKED ME for "letting" them help! (LOL! I love it.)

(Please pardon the veranda floor... we've been meaning to get to that for two years now...)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Carnival of Homeschooling

The 121st Edition of the Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Principled Discovery. Go visit the Homeschool Bag Lady! 

Homeschool bag ladies are

 "not just equipped with the standard fare of mom’s bags such as hand bags, diaper bags, snack bags, library book bags or shopping bags, either. Oh, no-no-no. In addition to these standard fare bags, these moms shlep a multitude of other bags making it undeniably easy to identify her as a Homeschool Bag Lady."

She's got the activity bag, the library bag, the press kit, the shopping bag, the gym bag, and more -- the whole kit and kaboodle.  Check it out. And while you're there, read heartnsoul's entry!

Ocotillo (O KO TEE' YO)

UPDATE:  To my horror, I have found that my research on this plant was quite faulty!!  Here is the content of a comment I received on this entry:
I wanted to write you concerning the article you wrote on the ocotillo.  It is commonly mistaken for a cactus but it is actually a plant.  The leaf on the plant we have grows just above the base of the thorn but the leaf is not a part of the thorn.  There may be a variety that is actually a part of the thorn, not sure, but the one we have the leaf comes out just above the thorn at the base.  Thought you may want to check the info out for yourself because I am not a botanist by any means.  Just wanted to make sure someone who lives far from the desert and had never seen the plant didn't actually mistake it for a cactus.
Thank you, Cherie, for enlightening us!  (I did wonder about those new little leaves growing above the thorns...)

My earlier post on cactus (with a little help from a kind commenter) has inspired me to try making cactus jelly.  We will have to wait until later in the summer to do that, but in the meantime I have suddenly become interested in photographing and learning about the other species we have in our yard. This one is my favorite -- ocotillo.  This pd photo is nicer than the one I took with houses in the background.

Ocotillo are tall and spindly and grow up to about 20 ft. high, depending on the variety.  They bloom from March to June (or later), depending on rainfall.  This one blooms each time it rains (which is not often this time of year!) or whenever it is watered.  I love the flame-like clusters of flowers at the top of each stalk, because they seem to add a touch of gracefulness to the harshness of the environment here. They are beautiful waving in the breeze.

(Above photo by Amy.)

Amy pulled one of the flowers apart and gave us a great view of the stamen, anthers, and pollen.

The bark of this cactus is beautiful.  Young stalks are green and look like several stalks have been glued together.  As the plant matures, the "seams" separate and dry, leaving beautiful variegation.

The strong thorn is actually a part of the leaf stem. When the leaf dries up the thorn is left.

When the leaves have all dried up, only the stalk and thorns are left.  But as soon as it rains, here come little buds, just above the thorns.  I prefer these obvious thorns over the nearly invisible, fine stickers that many other cacti are armed with!

And for those of you who are trivia buffs or mathematicians, I have two more pieces of interesting news. One, Alison discovered the Fibonacci spiral when she looked down the length of a cut piece of ocotillo stalk. Two, if you are ever stranded out in the desert wilderness, and you just happen to have a match, and you also just happen to have a good, dry piece of ocotillo, you can start a good signal fire.  Burning ocotillo sends up a black, greasy smoke. (File that away with my earlier tip on Elmer's glue.)

Monday, April 21, 2008

MOMS OF MANY Exercise Challenge Update

Twelve days ago I decided that if I don't start really doing some walking or SOMETHING, in a short time, I won't be able to do ANYTHING.  For the past nine out of twelve mornings I have gone for a one-mile walk first thing.  Three of those days I have had my DH's company, which is a good motivator.  It's a lot more fun walking with him than walking alone, and besides, we go an extra 1/4-1/2 mile farther when he is along.  Okay, one mile is not going to help me lose any weight, and I feel like a total spaz out there trying to walk fast and tripping over my feet at the same time.  But it is already making me feeling a bit more energetic during the rest of the day (like I knew it would -- why didn't I do this a long time ago??). I haven't lost a fraction of an inch or lost any weight, and I don't expect to until long after my cells come to the realization that I am not trying to kill them, but to do something good for them.  They always panic when I start talking about losing weight, and they hold on for dear life.  But after only a week and a half I do feel better, and that is a good benefit.  After I get some coordination back, I will go farther. So now, all of you who encouraged me before I started (and that includes those of you who have been encouraging me for the past twenty years to start walking), you have my permission to say, "I told you so."

Look Ma! No Training Wheels!

It's been a bittersweet day. Our baby has had her training wheels taken off -- a great big event for her and for me. The baby is growing up!  What happens next?? Reading? No, been there, done that. Tying shoes?
Here, she doesn't know Dad isn't holding on.

From that to this in just a few minutes!

Now we are 87% cyclists in this family. One more to go... (that's me, lol.)

Getting Away From God

Have you ever felt lost in your Christian life? You knew who your Father is, but you didn’t seem to have any fellowship with Him, and you couldn’t “see” his working in your life any more?  Has your flesh gotten the upper hand and drawn you away from the Lord?  Have you ever gotten ahead of him and found yourself wandering around with no direction? This can easily happen when we take our eyes off the Lord, even for just a minute!

Recently I lost Emily at Kmart. She doesn’t normally wander away, but when she didn’t see me she thought I had left her. How many times have I told her, “I would NEVER leave you”? But, leaning on her own understanding, Emily went out the door in a hurry!  When I looked up she was GONE. Without a trace! I called her name repeatedly, but she could not hear me!  After tearfully wandering in the parking lot for a bit, Emily actually thought about asking the taxi man to take her home, or maybe she could walk home by herself. But more than she wanted to be home, she really just wanted her mommy! Shortly my daughter was discovered by a K-Mart employee, who took her back inside the store. Emily went along willingly and sorrowfully, knowing she was helpless and in danger of being run over or stolen away, and very sorry for not staying with her mom. We were tearfully but happily reunited a few moments later, and I spent the rest of the afternoon recovering from a near heart attack.

What a picture these circumstances lend us.  If you have wandered from the Lord, there are some things you need to realize.  First of all, God has promised that will never, ever leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5), so stay right in the place where you were last with him. Keep doing what you know he wants you to do for this moment, and the next, and the next, until he makes himself known to you again. When you don’t “see” him, don’t panic. He is still there. Just trust him and wait on him.

Second, as a wandering Christian, you are not “lost”. You are still saved. Unlike me, our heavenly Father is never an irresponsible parent (*blush*). If you are truly saved, he is holding you in both hands, never to let you go. (“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one." John 10:28,29; “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” Psalm 139:10) He knows where you are at every moment, even when you are far away from him! (“Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there." Psalm 139:7,8) He knows that when you are away from him, you are not only helpless, but you are in danger, too. You are in danger of losing your way, as Demas did (2 Timothy 4:10), in danger of wild beasts (“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour,” 1 Peter 5:8), and in danger of living without the blessings of God on your life. Are you aware how precarious your circumstances are?

Next, before you can get help finding the Lord again, you have to be willing to admit that you have left him! That is called confession. Real repentance will make you willing to turn around and go back to him. No one can make you go back to fellowship with Christ if you don’t want to, but aren’t you miserable without him? The Bible says the Lord Jesus calls his sheep by name. Can you hear him calling your name as you wander? He loves you and he left all to win your soul, just as the good shepherd left the ninety and nine to find the one little sheep that had left him. (“How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?” Matthew 18:12.)  You belong to Jesus Christ!

Finally, what a joyous occasion it will be when you and your Saviour find each other again! He is a good God, a wonderful Saviour! The Bible says there is actually joy in heaven when a sinner repents! (“I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth”, Luke 15:7)  The whole population of heaven is excited about your return. There is nothing better than being restored to fellowship with Jesus, except not losing that fellowship in the first place.  I was SO happy to have my dear child back, and Emily has stayed very close to me ever since.  But we both would have been better off not going through that experience! 

If you have never been saved, the Bible says you are in darkness, and you do not know where you are going.  You may think you know where you are, but you do not know the way Home.  If you have been saved and you are away from God, going Home might be the easy way out, but having your fellowship with Christ restored right now would be so much better! Be warned – getting back to him will take longer than it did to get away from him.  But the results will be worth your trouble.

I hope you have never wandered away from your Father.  But if you have, know that he loves you and he is earnestly seeking you. Turn around. Be willing to be led back to him.  Not only will you have your fellowship with him restored, but you will also find safety, security, and JOY in him!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Carnival of Homeschooling

Grab a cup of whatever you like to drink, take off your shoes, and make yourself at home at the Nerd Family's blog for the 120th Carnival of Homeschooling.  Your children are invited to come along and play with the Nerd kids in the playroom. Oh, and bring a friend!

If you would like to submit a post for next week's carnival, go here and get your entry in before Monday night at 6pm (Pacific).

Say Hello :o)

To my children's great astonishment and envy, I have added a low-budget c-box to my sidebar.  It has been suggested that I move it up a bit so that it is more visible, but I have a good reason for leaving it down there where everyone can't see it.  I am telling you right now that it is there, so now you know.   

Monday, April 14, 2008

MOMS Challenge

Just a quick update ~

I am pleased to report that this week I walked a mile first thing in the morning for four days in a row, excluding Sunday!  Yea!!!!!  I have rewarded myself plenty, which really isn't a good idea, since the rewards have the opposite effect of the walking.  But it's a start.  I will continue this until the sun's too hot in the morning, which won't be long.  And then?  I will either do it in the evening or... before the sun comes up. (Oh, right.LOL) This is a very heavy town and it's easy to see why.  Much of the time it's either too hot or too windy  to enjoy being outside.  But we have had a very lovely spring this year.  I should have started sooner! Wish me success!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Cactaceae (It's Latin to Me!)

I was putzing around in the yard the other day and discovered something I had not seen before, cactus seed pods. Excuse me, ovaries. I don't know how I thought cactus multiplied -- I guess I just figured they budded from the ground, sort of like irises do, from tubers or something.  I hollered to Alison the Curious, and we sort of dissected one.  Here is what we found:

This was a great botany mini-lesson for my kids, and for me, too! This variety of beavertail prickly pear cactus does not bear edible fruit.  Its fruit is more like a casing full of seeds, with no pulp. A fruit is a pregnant flower. If the fruit were edible, these seeds would be encased in pulp, similar to an apple or a tomato.   We saw the pollen and the stamen, plus the floral tube of the cactus flower, all of which grow out of the ovary.  We learned how the pollen travels down the floral tube and joins with an ovum (egg cell)in the ovary to make seeds, or cactus babies. This plant may produce a million seeds in its long lifetime, but only one or two of them will live long enough to become a new plant.  Sometimes a cactus stem will break off, and if it lands just right, under the right conditions, it will take root and grow.

The little clusters of spines that you see in the photo to the right, above, are called glochids.  These spines are very fine, very small, and very difficult to remove without knowing a few tricks.  Alison got her hands full of them, but Elmer's glue pulls them out easily if you spread it on and let it dry, then peel off. (File that helpful tip away for your next family vacation to the desert.)

Below you can see a bud, then the flower, and on the right, the dead, dried up blooms sitting atop their ovaries. In a while, these dead blooms will look like the seed pod (no, ovary) in the top photo. These beautiful flowers last just a couple of days, and the whole plant only blossoms for a week or two.  God designed it this way to conserve water lost by evaporation through the soft petals.  (He knows what he is doing. )

We have a long, thick row of these beautiful cacti growing along the west side of our home.  I wish I had a photo for you -- about a week ago they were all in full bloom and oh, so pretty!  (I'll have to check with the resident plant photographer, Booklover/Amy, to see if she has one.)  The blooming desert is a brief but beautiful reminder that there is life this barren wilderness, after all.

I hope you enjoyed our lesson -- we did!


First Fruits

There is something very gratifying about growing your own food, even if it is only one pot of cherry tomatoes.  It's like eating sunshine!   Energy from the sun becomes a tomato.  Only God could do that! Praise the Lord!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Help Wanted

Biochemist needed.  Must also be an expert in chemistry, mathematics, construction, physics, engineering, geology, and especially, Bible.  Must be able to answer the following questions in less than ten minutes, plus other questions as assigned:

What is life?
How do we know something is alive? 
When does it become alive?
When exactly does it die?
How does a cell die? Why?
How long does it take for your blood to get through your body?
Why can you hold your breath for longer than it takes to get all your blood through your body?
What do cells do with oxygen?
How come plants use carbon dioxide in the daytime and oxygen in the nighttime?
What is the difference between a plant and an animal?
Is there such a thing as something that is both a plant and an animal?
How come your blood doesn't get stuck in your feet?
How do they extract DNA?
How do they get it out of the cell?
How do they put new DNA in a cell?
Why isn't your heart in your toes?
What are lung cells made of?
If you have two perfect spheres and you touch them to each other, they are touching at an infinitely small point, right?  But if atoms were square, then they would touch at finite points. Are atoms circles? Spheres?
Is there a mathematical equation that proves it?
If an object is traveling down a road at 5 mph, in order to reverse direction, it will need enough force to go 10 mph, because it has to stop and reverse direction, right?
Plus, for the same problem, is the object actually stopped for one instant?
What keeps electrons spinning around atoms?
How did Einstein figure out that e=mc², and why does it matter that it is?
If lithium is a gas, how do they make batteries out of it?

I'm sure I learned the technical answers to these questions somewhere between tenth grade and my senior year of college.  Someone should have warned me my oldest daughter would be giving me a test twenty-five years later.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Training Daughters, Teaching Wives

Attention moms and daughters!  Jacque Dixon has started a new blogroll, Training Daughters, Teaching Moms.  Its purpose is
"for moms training their children in the Biblical admonishment of training our children in the Word and for women teaching wives in the Titus 2 admonishment for the older to teach the younger." 
If you are interested in being added to the blogroll, contact Jacque.

And while you're at it, check out the new magazine for Christian girls, Growing in Grace Magazine!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Ten Future Missionaries

I always use the word "missionary" with some feeling of reservation, since the word is a catholic term, and not a Bible term.  What we know as a "missionary", someone who goes into all the world to preach the gospel and make disciples of Jesus Christ is, in the Bible, called an evangelist.  And all we Christians are supposed to be evangelizing the lost.  But a man who is called an "evangelist" in our circle is a sort of traveling preacher and in many cases, a Christian entertainer. And that is not a scriptural office.  So, forgive me for splitting hairs.  Here is a cute little poem about future evangelists.

Ten Future Missionaries

Heard Godʼs call divine

One married a worldly girl

And that left only nine


Nine anxious missionaries

They could hardly wait

Mother thought she needed one

And that left only eight


Eight perspective missionaries

To point the souls to heaven

One was busy making money

And that left only seven


Seven devoted missionaries

Their hearts on Jesus fixed

One wanted the American dream

And that left only six


Six sacrificial missionaries

Ready to give their lives

One thought himself unworthy

And that left only five


Five prayerful missionaries

Asking God for more

One decided to stay by the stuff

And that left only four


Four aspiring missionaries

Waiting to cross the sea

One became a farmer

And that left only three


Three choice missionaries

For the great task so few

One thought he was too old

And that left only two


Two steadfast missionaries

Ready the race to run

One thought to wait till his children were grown

And that left only one


One determined missionary

Thank the Lord for him

His goals are set his purpose firm

He didnʼt let the vision dim


Heʼs doing his part and the Lord is well pleased

But what of the nine

Who are living in ease,

Are you one of these?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Carnival of Homeschooling

Jocelyn Dixon, prolific writer and teen extra-ordinaire, is this week's COH host.  Wowee, look at all the links!  Put your running shoes on and head over to A Pondering Heart for her "Working Out" edition

Note: I am finding it ironic that anything concerning blogging can be called a "work-out".  I, for one, know that blogging has been hazardous to my waistline this year! 

Monday, April 7, 2008

Happy Happenings

This morning my two littles woke up best friends.  This doesn't always happen, but when it does, Mama is very happy.   By the time we said good morning to each other, the two of them had already made elaborate plans for their day.  Their bags were packed and ready to go.  Out the door they went, suitcases in tow, to take the train to a far-away city for breakfast in a fine restaurant.

Hours later, they are on the Oregon Trail. All of their belongings are in the (supposedly covered) wagon, including the necessary gallon of water for the long journey.  The easel is a necessity also, in case you want to leave a note, you know. Their bedding is atop their tent, to keep bugs off, of course.  Elisabeth here, is handling the horses. Since they have a shortage of playmates, Elisabeth is playing the part of Pa and Ellen, and Emily is playing Ma and Gracie.  I wonder what they do when Ma and Gracie need to have a conversation?  lol.  Emily must just talk to herself.  That would be nothing new -- who's acting?

Their real Mama has just treated them to chocolate chip pudding cookies (I wish I could remember whose blog I found these on -- are they ever good!), which is just completely out of sync with their game.  No pioneer ever enjoyed chocolate chip cookies on the trail.  The girls decided they could make an exception, of course. ...All we need now are PlainJane's daughters' prairie dresses and a couple of bonnets!

In other news, a friend who knows we like longer skirts sent me a tip yesterday -- Coldwater Creek has some boot-length denim skirts on sale.  None in my size, of course, but my older girls are now big enough to fit ladies' petites.  So today, ONE DAY TOO LATE to get an additional 40% off (I hate when that happens), I ordered them each a couple, one denim and one khaki.  With the choices we have in this vacationer's land (and the fact that I am just not a shopper), it's a blessing to find out about these things.  If the skirts are too big, well, we will just keep them and grow into them.  If I could just find a company that would pay the return postage on mail order items that don't fit...

Saturday was our church picnic, great fun.  I didn't take even one photo, figuring they would look just like the photos from our last picnic.  Same place, same weather, mostly the same dear people.  But if you want to see pics you can go to Kristy's blog and look.  Just don't look at the photos of me.

As we speak, Alison and Amy are entertaining me with violin and flute duets.  I am already dreading the day when Alison moves out.  What will I do without my beautiful live music ensembles?  By that time maybe Elisabeth will have become a piano banger, and Emily will be bowing away on her violin.  I hope so.  But the years are going way too fast.  If you know of anyone who is keeping a musical instrument hidden away in an attic or garage somewhere, and they would like to donate it to a worthy cause (well, we think we are a worthy cause!), please tell them about us!  We'd pay the shipping, and maybe a bit extra! 

Tonight's supper is chicken taco salad, with a loaf of fresh bread, hopefully. 
A little while ago I heard the dough lumping around in the bread machine, and when I took a look, ha ha!  I'll just say I had to add a bit more milk.  I have a feeling what I am baking is going to turn out to be a door-stopper.  Oh well.  We'll have fresh strawberries for dessert, and no one will remember the dead bread.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Computer Science Pure and Simple

I have listed Computer Science Pure and Simple on eBay.  For interested parties, the item number is 200213662315. Copy and paste this number into the eBay search engine, and my listing will come right up.  To learn more about this course, see MotherBoard Books.

UPDATE:  WHOOHOO!  This item is SOLD!


Sorry, the embarrassing content of this post has been removed at the request of my editor.   (He doesn't relate to girl-talk, lol!)  By the way, I am feeling much better now.  I am a colorful scribble!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Carnival of Homeschooling

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is hosted by the Cate family at Why Homeschool?  In addition to the usual interesting array of links submitted by fellow homeschoolers, you will find some information about the history of April Fool's Day as well as some pranks that fooled thousands of people.  So send the children outside for PE or biology, grab a cuppa, and go spend some time at the Carnival!

Area Homeschoolers' Fine Arts Recital

Last night was the big event, our local homeschoolers' fine arts recital!  We only had eleven participants, but that was more than we had last year, and this time, in order to include children who are not learning musical instruments, we solicited recitations of poetry and scripture. Pianists, flautists, trombonists, violinists, and singers contributed the beautiful music.  We had a nice variety!  The purpose of having a recital was not only to give the children an opportunity to play for the enjoyment of others, but also to glorify God, the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave them these talents for his own pleasure. 

Kristy's little boy, Brandon (in the blue shirt), sang a solo and did he ever do a good job!! After he was finished, he told his mom, "I'm glad that's over!" and, "I'm never doing that again!" LOL! See the video here. (Sorry about the jiggling camera -- that was my skillful filming job, lol.)  We also heard from two young men who memorized 2 Chronicles 32 in less than five days (!), and another young man who quoted a Bible verse. Emily recited the poem I posted a while back, about how good God is.

We ended the evening by presenting each child with a ribbon for excellence, sharing some refreshments, and visiting with our guests.  Many thanks to the parents of the children who participated, to our hosting church for the facilities, and to all of our audience!

Emily announces her piano piece,
 O Worship the King
Amy plays Blessed Be the Name
Isaac quotes Romans 3:23
Jeanette's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring

Pastor and Caleb on the 'bones Brandon sings Are You Washed In the Blood?

Mackenzie gives us a sonatina.

Beautiful face
Alison's violin sings Gavotte, by JS Bach.
Deep and Wide, by Jeanette and Esther

Micah quotes 2 Chronicles 32,
about Hezekiah and Senacherib.
Caleb cues Micah on 2 Chronicles,
after quoting his own part.
O Come Little Children, by Elisabeth and Alison

More beautiful faces

The Grand Finale,
I Want That Mountain!
Sweet voices --
Elisabeth, Emily, Esther, and Mackenzie

Rewards for all participants!

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