Saturday, February 28, 2009

Month in Review, Attempt #2 -- February

The month of February started off with a bang for our family.  We made a short road trip to central Arizona, which is, IMHO, the most beautiful part of Arizona, unless you prefer rocks and desolation.  We got some  good preaching and some good fellowship, and brought home the stomach flu and some bad colds.  But it was worth it.   I had to laugh when I saw the sign announcing the Cococino National Forest.  It's not what most people think of when they see the word "forest"!  But I do love the saguaros.

Elisabeth played some beautiful music on her neglected violin, which was a thrill to my soul.  Go Elisabeth!  Keep it up!

My very culinarily challenged child found a way to cut a banana into her corn flakes. There's more than one way to slice a banana!

Our Virginia grandparents drove all the way to rainy Arizona to see us, and we had such a nice time.  When the sky cleared up, all of the kids and grandparents, plus half of the parents, hiked up to a mine shaft.  Since our van only seats seven, one of us had to stay behind.  I'd have enjoyed the walk, but I was stuck all alone in a quiet, empty house.  Poor me.    These beams and boards are here to prevent clumsy miners and curious children from falling into this deep, deep hole in the ground.  It does not , however, prevent worried grandparents from having heart attacks when the curious grandchildren get too close to the edge. I suspect at one time there might also have been a winch attached, to pull up buckets of GOLD.  These things are scattered all over the desert, and to me they seem like the perfect place to toss broken TV's, used car oil, garbage, evidence, or dead bodies.  Who knows WHAT'S in there? I don't want to find out.

Nana and Papa brought stepping stone kits for each of the kids to make.  Amy had the great idea that all of the grandkids should make one for Nana's garden. Good idea, Amy.  We'll do that.... someday.

We always enjoy time at the park. Sometimes we concentrate on the playground equipment, sometimes on the swings, and sometimes on the things growing in and around the park.

Amy crafted her head off.

Everyone but poor ol' me, all alone in the house for a second time in a week went for a water-hunting hike in Grapevine Canyon.  Once upon a time, five years ago, there was actually running water here, I suppose from an underground spring.  The hunters didn't find running water, only standing water.  The boulders make this a favorite hiking and climbing place.  I have posted photos previously of the  petroglyphs ("Indian graffiti") on the rocks here.

Alison took on the February Madness challenge and is, at this moment, whacking away at her last 500 words out of 30,000 words for the month!  Whoohoo!  She is going to make it!!  Good job, Alie!! She has been stuck in this position for much of the month of February:

In other news, the nice camera that Amy got for her birthday last month conked out, so I called Canon to see what we could do about it.  Mind you, this is a used camera, mfg in 2004, and we didn't buy it.  Canon has great customer service!  They are going to repair it free or replace it, and pay the shipping both ways.  I like that kind of deal! Amy is very excited to get her camera back, and so am I, so that next month we will have more photos to choose from for the March Month in Review!

And, speaking of great deals, we girls all went to Target after Valentine's Day and made a big investment in female necessities, you know, Snickers, Dove, Hershey Kisses.  That stuff. Everything was 75% off, which meant it was like, 79¢ a bag for the good stuff!  I was so excited.  And then, and this was the most exciting thing that has happened to me in a long time, I got ten bags of Ghirardelli chocolate chips for only 69¢ a bag, because they were stocked on the clearance shelf by accident! (I should have grabbed everything they had!)  We should be good for at least two weeks now...

We had a great blessing this month.  In spite of things being tighter around here, my husband increased our missions giving, and the Lord has really been paying us back.  You can't out-give God, and he keeps proving that to us, though we know it already.  Our two older girls need braces, and our orthodontist is going to do both mouths for only the cost of the lab work.  This is a tremendous discount!!!  God is so good to us.  He also blessed us with a free plumbing job this month and some nice cash anniversary gifts.  The Bible calls giving to the Lord beyond the tithe an "experiment", and it keeps turning out better for us than we could hope.  I wonder if this kind of experiment lends itself to the scientific method??

Monocogman and I had a nice anniversary dinner out last night, and a hot date to Wal*Mart for buttons and a few groceries.  Did you see the sweet anniversary post he wrote on his blog yesterday?  It made me cry.  Yeah, I'm a diamond in the rough, all right. Sometimes I not even that good.  At least a lump of coal is good for something -- you can burn it.  (Am I the only one who feels that way?  Probably not. Probably most of the female population feels that way at times. ) But Monocogman says my worth to him is far above rubies.  That's another reason I love him -- he's crazy.

PS.  I have one more thing to add to that list:  #23. He prays. On any given morning I can find him on his knees, in the dark, praying for me and a plethora of other people and things.  That one thing, more than all the other things he does for us, means the most to me!

O taste and see that the LORD is good:
blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

 Psalm 34:8

Month in Review

We regret to inform you that the entire Month in Review post for February was lost in cyberspace.... please tune in again when the administrator stops crying and finds time to do it all over again, probably sometime in March, but maybe later today.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Happy Anniversary to Us

Twenty-one years ago today, on a lovely, sunny February day in western Wisconsin, my dear husband and I were married, to have and to hold from that day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from that day forward until death do us part.  We've had and held each other, we've been richer and poorer, we've been mostly healthy but nursed each other through a few bouts of sickness, and we've loved and cherished each other through the years.  

The years to come have promise of more bad times and more sickness -- that's just the way life is -- and, the way things are going in the good ol' U. S. of A., substantially more poverty.  That doesn't worry me.  The Lord has always been good to us.  He has held us together through more than a dozen moves. He sustained us through six miscarriages.  We have been down to $7 to our name without going hungry. We survived two years of life on the road with three small children.  The Lord Jesus comforted us when we were cut off by people we loved.  He has sustained us all the way.

If my man will continue to stick with me through my dismally poor and thus, exceedingly frustrating memory, through my raging hormones and my dull mind, we'll finish well!  He's a good man. 

In spite of the fact that I am experiencing an estrogen attack (or is it progesterone? or is it a LACK of estrogen/progesterone??), I was able to come up with twenty-one reasons why I love my husband.  I'm sure I will find more reasons to love him each additional year until one or both of us go to heaven!

In no particular order:
1. He is not perfect.  Yes, this is a good reason to love a man.  If he were perfect, we would be terribly mis-matched!
2. He is handsome and has a great smile.
3. He says, "Thank you."
4. He takes his responsibilities seriously, as a husband, a father, and a pastor.
5. He's a good provider -- not only of money, but of love and time.
6. He fills the gas tank. (It's been so long since I've filled the gas tank, I don't remember how anymore!)
7. He doesn't give up. He is determined to keep going when things are discouraging.  This one thing makes him manly in my sight. He's a mountain-climber!
8. He has a long fuse and a short recovery time.
9. He loves the TRUTH and the Word of God.
10. He makes efforts to better himself.
11. He treats me with respect and kindness.
12. He sets a good example for me to follow his faith in God.
13. He takes care of his body and keeps in shape.
14. He is good to our girls and makes time for them on purpose.
15. He puts the seat down.
16. He has a great sense of humor.  (I don't get it, but it makes him laugh a lot, lol!)
17. He is wise with money.
18. He still thinks I'm hot, after 20+ years and 20+ pounds.
19. He has a strong sense of right and wrong.
20. He makes me feel needed.
21. He is faithful to me, body, heart, and soul.

and one more ~
22. He loves me all the time.

Happy Anniversary, Monocogman!  I love you!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Myth of the Learning Gap

Are any of you checking in with the Carnival of Homeschooling? (See left sidebar for the gizmo  gadget widget, that's it.)  This week I latched onto a really great entry, this one by Heather at Mother By Nature.  This was just what I needed to read today.  Most days I don't care about the "learning gaps".  I am pretty confident my girls can learn anything they put their minds to.  (Getting them to put their minds to learning is something else entirely....)  But some days I feel like such a homeschooling failure.  I fret about history, English, science, you name it.  Anything but math.  In math all four of the girls are way ahead, and that is because we don't waste time with the first fourth or third of the new book, reviewing what we just finished doing. We just do the quizzes until something new comes along.  Heather reminded me that it's okay   to be kind of un-school-y, having some child-interest-led learning plus a few curriculum-based subjects for things like math, to make sure my kids get the stuff that their parents don't want them to skip.

You must take a jog to Heather's post and read her list of things she remembers from elementary school in Canada.  I laughed.  Those are some of the same kinds of things I remember.  I'm sure my kids wonder why I don't know the stuff they are supposed to be learning in their schoolwork, but I know why.  It didn't leave an impression on me like Ms. Varleta's one perfectly natural, pure white strand of hair in a full head of otherwise jet black hairs did.  There's stuff you remember and there's stuff you don't.  The stuff I don't remember, which I am interested in being reminded of, is only a Google away.  Who stops learning?  We all have education gaps. 

Well, you just have to go over and read it.  It's a good one.  Thanks, Heather.  I needed that today.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Homeschool Freebies

First things first: Go over to PlainJane's and wish her a very happy birthday today! 

Second,  look at the great resources Jim Erskine is giving away this week at Homeschool Freebie of the Day (below).  Click on the link to join his email list for a free daily homeschooling resource.

Monday, Feb 16th:
Great President's Day Resource Links! (links)

Want to make the most of President's Day? Check out these
Lesson Plans, virtual tours, poetry & the actual papers
of presidents Washington & Lincoln!

Tuesday, Feb 17th: 
A Chinese Wonder Book (PDF ebook)

This fascinating collection of Chinese stories and legends,
edited by Maggie Hogan of Bright Ideas Press, is a great
literature-based introduction to the rich history and
culture of China. Includes a read-aloud guide.

Wednesday, Feb 18th:
"Harriet Tubman & the Railway to Freedom" (MP3 audio)

A classic old time radio dramatization of the story of
Harriet Tubman and the activities of
the "underground railroad" during slave years.

Thursday, Feb 19th:
Blessed Is The Man: High School Unit Study Sampler (PDF ebook)

"Blessed is the Man" is a wonderful High School Unit Study
geared to Christian young men, and based on Psalm 1.
Today's resource is this extensive 74 page preview
of the complete four year curriculum - normally $10 on the
publisher's website - but yours to download today!
If you have growing boys in your household, DON'T MISS THIS!

Friday, Feb 20th:
Creatively Simple: How to Make Butter in the Blender (PDF ebook)

Learning to make butter is something everyone should do at least once.
This simple ebook by Penny Raine can teach you how, using items you
probably already have in your kitchen. Detailed instructions and lots of

And then, after you do that, pour yourself a cup of hot cocoa and grab a couple of chocolate chippers.  It's a chilly one today.  Brrr.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Foiling the Ads

Many years ago before we were married, my dear husband and I agreed we would not have television in our home.  That was a good decision.  We don't miss it.  Our minds aren't filled with images we can't get rid of, music that we can't stop humming, and the desire for things we just gotta have because we saw them advertised by someone really cool.  In addition, we don't have time for television, but if we had one, we would make time for it.  You know what I mean.  Kind of like blogging.  Ahem. 

We were blissfully unaware of Hollywood for several years.  One day we were introduced to email.  My mom and dad felt we NEEDED to have a computer, because that way we could write each other every day, and it would be just like talking to each other!  And besides, we were getting to be behind the times. We insisted we did not want internet for the same reason we did not want television. Our life was peaceful, and we liked it that way. And besides, the internet had too much trash, trash that was multiplying in exponential proportions.  Being an all-or-nothing kind of person, I would prefer to have no internet than try to filter the content.  But we reluctantly gave in, and when Dad upgraded his computer, they drove all the way to Alberta and brought us the old one.

Forward many years and many computers later.  The kids use the computer every day. I use it every day.  We all do.  It consumes hours of our time!  And, while I don't hold to a double standard about what is viewable for kids and what is viewable for adults (it's all sin, right?  why is it okay to watch it if we're grown-ups?), I  get  really irritated when "inappropriate" ads show up on pages my kids are looking at.  That stuff was one of the reasons we banned the television!

So what am I getting at?  Are we giving up the computer?  Well, no... not yet.  We have several good excuses why we still NEEEED it.  In the meantime, though, we have found a solution.  This won't be news to some of you who are way more techie than we are, but Alison discovered an ad-blocker for Firefox, which happens to be our browser of choice.  It is awesome.  It works.  It's FREE.  I love it.  No more belly fat ads in my face.  No more b**bs in my husband's face.  No more couples making out in front of my children.  Ahhh.

I have said all this to promote Alison's latest blog entry on how to install the Firefox ad blocker.  If you follow her instructions, you can do it without any techie expertise of your own.

I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.
Psalm 101:3

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Tuesday All Day

This morning I woke up with a loudly growling stomach, the first time since last Thursday.  I think that means the flu is finally gone. Whoohoo!  Those four pounds I lost didn't go far -- three of them have come home and the fourth one is probably not far behind. 

I am running late, as usual, and using the blog as an effective avoidance technique.  School is awaiting me... for devotions this morning we will watch one of SM Davis's DVD's, "The Influence of Older Children on Younger Ones". 

Normally we read a chapter of the Bible together, and a read-aloud or two. Currently we are working on The Wheel on the School and are enjoying it very much, but we lost interest in Landmark's Traders and Trappers.  I read a good review of some kids' books by Gloria Whelan.  Has anyone read her St. Petersburg books?

We have a beautiful clear sky today, the result of glorious rain in the desert.  And SNOW, lots of snow in the local mountains again!!  It's very pretty from far away.   But these desert dwellers don't know how to manuever in snow, and the snowbirds don't know how to manuever on snowy mountains.  The pass was closed yesterday after a plethora of accidents. 

LATER:  We did not watch more than five minutes' worth of "The Influence of Older Children on Younger Ones", due to a multitude of interruptions that made good attention impossible: nose blowing, dishwasher noise, conversation, microwave noise, spoons clanging mugs as they stirred hot cocoa, and finally, several "BE QUIET!"s.  We decided to go back to the old standard and try again another day.  Too funny and too sad:  The point at which we made that decision came immediately after the point where Dr. Davis says older siblings must take care not to use harsh, critical language with their younger siblings.  Since we have three older sisters in this house, AND because I, myself, was and still am a guilty big sister, I made sure to reiterate that point before we continued.

So Deuteronomy 17 it was for today.  My DH used to preach from this chapter a lot, back when we were on the road representing a KJB scripture-printing ministry.  Did you know that when the children of Israel chose a king, that king was supposed to make a copy of the scriptures for himself by hand, read them every day, and follow them?  What a different country we would have today if our presidents had followed this practice.  Our citizens, too, for that matter!

Well, it's now after lunch time, and we have only accomplished math today.  Why is it that when you really need to have a good, solid school day, it seems everything in the world is bound to foil your plans??  lol. Oh well.  At least I know that when my kids graduate they will be able to read and make change.  Maybe they can get jobs at McDonalds or WalMart. LOL. No, they're smarter than that, and wiser, too.  Thank the Lord.  (I refuse to worry about it.)

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Hymn from the Heart -- Our Great Saviour

What else could I possibly want or need in a God, but this:

Jesus! what a Friend for sinners!
Jesus! Lover of my soul;
Friends may fail me, foes assail me,
He, my Savior, makes me whole.

Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

Jesus! what a Strength in weakness!
Let me hide myself in Him.
Tempted, tried, and sometimes failing,
He, my Strength, my victory wins.


Jesus! what a Help in sorrow!
While the billows over me roll,
Even when my heart is breaking,
He, my Comfort, helps my soul.


Jesus! what a Guide and Keeper!
While the tempest still is high,
Storms about me, night overtakes me,
He, my Pilot, hears my cry.


Jesus! I do now receive Him,
More than all in Him I find.
He hath granted me forgiveness,
I am His, and He is mine.

Hallelujah! what a Savior!
Hallelujah! what a Friend!
Saving, helping, keeping, loving,
He is with me to the end.

(A)nd thou shalt know no god but me:
  for there is no saviour beside me.

 Hosea 13:4

Friday, February 6, 2009

I'm Back, but Horizontally

After a three-day trip to central Arizona, at least three late nights, three full days of preaching, eating, and fun stuff, three hundred miles of car travel each way, too much junk food in the car, eating out, and exposure to the FLU, you know where I have been the past couple of days.  Recuperating.  I'm still recuperating.  There are two good things about the flu.  One is that I very RARELY get it.  The other is that it is a fast weight-loss plan.  I am down four pounds and still have no appetite, and I am hoping that I can keep it off.  I'm going back to food very slowly. 

Lynn Marie, I don't know what I did with your email address.  The dish towel instructions are here (click.). They are very easy to make. Sorry, I am not having a drawing for them (maybe someday I'll do that) -- I gave them to the ladies who hosted us on our trip. 

Everyone else, sorry, but I am way behind in the blog world, still (seems to be a perpetual problem with me).  I admit it, I am the worst at leaving comments right now.  That doesn't mean I don't love you.  Be patient with me!

Okay, I am going to lie down again...
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