Saturday, January 30, 2010

Slooping Around the Horn

I am not sure whether slooping around the horn is a good thing or a bad thing.  The expression refers to sailing around Cape Horn, one of the most dangerous places in the world to sail.  Cape Horn is to sailors what Mount Everest is to climbers.  In the context in which I heard that expression, I think it meant the woman was losing her mind.  Could be.  Or maybe she felt her mind was in danger of being lost.  Or maybe she was relieved to know that the danger of losing it was past.  Since I seem to always be in one of those three states, that would be a great new name for my blog, don't you think?  If I ever do get a new blog I think I will call it that.  "Slooping Around the Horn".  Yes. That's it.

Now that that's settled, I can go on to say that by God's grace I did successfully sloop around  Cape Hospitality to anywhere from one to sixteen guests every day for the past eight days.    It was the week (plus) of our annual missions conference, with preaching every night.  On about day five or six, feeling mentally exhausted and zombie-like, I was pretty certain I was going to lose it.  I was so far gone that I actually considered letting go and being henceforth labeled "feeble-minded."  If I could claim even temporary insanity I wouldn't be accountable for anything I said or did.  But you know how it is -- if you know enough Bible it wrecks you for that kind of stuff.  A word from God providentially came to mind: For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. My last vestige of sanity clung desperately to this promise in 2 Timothy 1:7.  I repeated it to myself over and over. Little by little the parts of my brain that were ready to be swept overboard were convinced that truly, with God all things, are possible, even this. Even if one is not pre-disposed to a Martha Stewart personality!  Victory! 

You must understand that I love having company, especially when our visitors are godly people who are serving the Lord with their backs turned on the world.  I love for my girls to interact with other children who are being led down the heaven-ward road.  My losing my mind has nothing at all to do with having visitors, but with being unorganized and stressed out and being predisposed to a Martha-of-the-Bible personality.  All along I kept thinking, Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee, knowing that my mind was not stayed on the Lord, but on how much food there would be, and whether or not it what I served would be impressive.  Ah, pride, my enemy. 

Long story short, it all turned out fine except for the five-star scalloped potato recipe that I lifted from  That was horrid. The food was 99.5% good, the preaching was great, the fellowship was dear, the kids were well-behaved, my husband was greatly encouraged, and my mind is intact. 

**satisfied sigh** 

Slooping around the horn.  I can confidently say that in this case the sloop is past the danger of  being lost at sea, is making a complete recovery, and is blessed to be moored in the haven of rest.

photo from sam low

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sight Reading Bears Fruit!

One of Alison's biggest dreams is to play her violin in an orchestra.  So far she has not had that opportunity, but we might be getting closer! 

Oh, how I wish I could play an orchestra instrument.  I felt completely left out last night, as we made music with a new group.  You'll have to excuse me for including myself in the pronoun "we" -- if it wasn't for me, the girls wouldn't have been there, so I get to say "we", don't I?  Our German flutist friend went to a lot of work coordinating schedules, finding suitable music that has suitable parts (Albinoni, Vivaldi, Pergolesi, Mozart and Pleyel), and making copies for everyone.  We had ten musicians of varying skill levels: flutists, violinists, a violist, trombonists and a flugelhornist.  (Is that a word?  Flugelhornist?) The two men who participated were dads of three of the other musicians.  Hey, that gives me an idea... my DH used to play the clarinet... Honey, why don't you take the girls to music on Mondays, and you can play with them, too...?

If you read any music pedagogy blogs (such as here or here), you can't miss their stress on the importance of sight reading. I am certain that sight reading is one of two activities that have really contributed  to my mostly untrained girls' musical skills.  Each week for the past eight months or so, they have been playing unfamiliar music with some older ladies to whom the music has NOT been unfamiliar.  And that is the second contributing activity -- playing with other people.  Both Alison and Amy have made incredible improvement in a very short time.  Without that experience, last night's group would not have been a delight for either of them.

But in Amy's own words, we had SO MUCH FUN!!!  Who knows?  Maybe one of these days we'll have a real family orchestra in town.    (Keep praying, Alie.)

Praise ye the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary:
praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts:
praise him according to his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet:
praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance:
praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise him upon the loud cymbals:
praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD.
Praise ye the LORD.

Psalm 150

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Terrific Teens

Remember the terrible two's?  We never had them, at least not while my kids were two, but for a whole year I dreaded their coming.  Much to my surprise, when the girls turned two they were just the same as when they were one -- cute and loveable and pretty much compliant. After we went through the terrible three's people started saying things like, "You have two girls?  They sure are cute now, but  you JUST WAIT UNTIL THEY ARE TEENAGERS!"  And then we had four girls, and we heard that kind of stuff even more.  In fact, we still hear it!

Yesterday we celebrate the birthday of my second daughter, Booklover.  (She's the one on the right. lol. The guy was is her date dad.)  Happy birthday (now belated) to my favorite thirteen year old!  With all the joking about having another TEENAGER in the house, you'd think this is something dreadful. 

Let me go on the record and say that I think having two young(er) women in the family is perfectly wonderful. I always knew it would be, because we determined to raise our children in such a way that we would not have typical teenager problems.  With God's help, of course, and by his grace.  Not that we don't have hormones, mind you, and it's not like we get along perfectly all the time. 

The word "teenager" is a recent addition to our English language.  See here for a brief explanation.  I don't have a problem with people age 13-19, just with the connotation of "teenager".  When we play Apples to Apples, my family has to have a discard pile for all the cards with people's names that our kids (and us old fogies) aren't familiar with.  Like Brad Pitt.  Who's Brad Pitt??  Maybe that's one of the reasons I still like my kids? I think that means we aren't bowing to the popular culture mentioned in this Way of Life article.

I now have two between 13 and 19.  It has been such a joy to see them pursue their interests for God's glory, develop the talents he has given them, and grow in character.  Amy washed all the supper dishes last night without being asked (there were a ton of them), and without even sighing within my hearing.  On her birthday! I'd say that's a good start into the teen years.   I'm so blessed to have my terrific teenagers!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Just Wondering

How come
we have to show
a valid birth certificate
to be active in 4-H,
but NOT to be President
of the United States?

Friday, January 1, 2010

December in Review

What shall I do, what shall I do?  Should this be a year in review post, or my usual month in review? The peanut gallery says, "Month."  All right then, month it is.

December is the month in which my husband and my FIL are bearing down on the finish line in their annual bicycling miles competition.  FIL is a road rider, and he doesn't mind racking up the miles on his indoor trainer when their eastern seacoast weather doesn't allow outdoor riding.  His big advantage is the fact that he is retired.  Pete Falcon here, pastor and resident superhero  , doesn't have quite as much time to ride.  He finds road riding to be quite dull, but he loves riding the dirt. However, we live in a wind tunnel, and that really makes riding hard, especially in the dirt. The contest isn't exactly even, and as a result, the rules are quite complicated. I'm not sure I even know them.  I think that in order for my husband to win the 2009 contest, he had to do better than his dad's total outdoor miles minus 100 miles for each year his dad has on him.  Translate: Pete Falcon has a 2300 mile handicap, and FIL's trainer miles don't count.  Simple, you say.  His dad must be near seventy years old!  Yep, he is.  Last year FIL rode 10,500-some miles total, about 6900 of them outdoors. His goal is to ride 100,000 miles (on his bicycle, not motorcycle) by his 80th birthday, in the next ten and a half years!  So Pete Falcon had to ride at least 4600 miles to beat his dad this year.  Or something like that.  (We can be certain that if I have the facts wrong, Bicycle Truth Man will be here with a comment to correct me. ) And that is why, early in December, I dropped him off on a mountain in the middle of nowhere, to do an exploratory ride.  If he got lost he would have to ride more miles, right?   He took a camera along this time, so he could show us girls how "beautiful" it is out there. Ahem.

Not too many days after that, we took a family trip to Boulder City.  (Amy wrote a nice post on this trip -- see it here.) Pete Falcon had more riding to do, this time approximately 40 miles, and we ladies wanted to visit both the Boulder City Library and the Boulder City Hotel.  Whenever I search for a book in our library system, the book I want is at Boulder City.  They have all the good  old books!  We thought a morning spent at the BC Library would be well worth our time, and it was.  We left with all our cards up to the limit, some 60+ items checked out.  By the way, one of the gems I found there in the biography section is The Cage, by Ruth Minsky Sender, who was a rare young survivor of the Holocaust.  Ever since listening to an audio drama of The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom, my girls have been interested in WWII, so this was a good find.  I found out our local school district not only does NOT teach about the Holocaust, some teachers here are denying that it ever happened!  And furthermore, they are instructing the students to refer to Adolf Hitler as MR. Hitler.  Indeed.  As I told a friend, that's just reason #148396 to homeschool. Or something like that.  I lost count.

This neat quilt hangs in the library foyer.  Wouldn't it be neat to make something like this an eighteen year project, and embroider your child's favorite book titles on it before quilting and binding it?  What a keepsake that would be!

From there we girls went to the little Hoover Dam museum at the Boulder City Hotel.  See Amy's post.  It was very interesting and was good stop before seeing the Hoover Dam, which was also on our list of destinations for the day.  Alison was worried that she would live here most of her life and never get to see it. 

So, we went to pick up Pete Falcon at the trail head.  We waited.  And waited. 

We ate our lunches. And some M&M's. We read our library books.  And finally, Pete Falcon showed up!  He had had a flat lost his way. *Correction. Guess I had flat on the brain.*  We fed him (even saved him a few M&M's) and took off for the Hoover Dam (also called Boulder Dam).

I think the new bridge is just awesome and amazing, and I had more fun looking at that than I did the dam.  But I've seen the dam a few times... Daddy waited for us in the van with his good friend, Shirley Surly (that's the bike), while we girls did some people-watching and listening, took some photos, and scared Mom by leaning over the edge of the dam. What an international crowd was there that day!  There were people  there from all over the world. 


December was an exceedingly crafty month.  Amy is always traveling the www in search of another sewing project. Last month she created more felt folk,

a patchwork pillowcase,

and Molly Monkey.

A while ago I saw a tutorial for these boxy little lined fabric bags, and had to try my hand at them.  I have no idea how to get the size I have in mind -- one of them is perfect for cosmetics, and the other one turned out big enough for a loaf of bread, or maybe three rolls of toilet paper.  Ha ha!  Etsy price, $15-20.

These drawstring jewelry cases make nice gifts.  I had to try one of these, too.  Etsy price, $15.  No, not my store. I was just looking to see what they are worth to someone who doesn't sew.  They are sooo easy to whip together!  Anybody can do it. Even me.

In keeping with the winter tradition, we have kept the oven on a lot lately.  Elisabeth made a deeelishus lemon cake:

And after making aprons and chef's hats for her little sister and herself, Amy baked brownies with Emily.  You never saw a happier six-year-old chef!

We brought in the new year with a late night pizza and some of the best carmel corn ever, an episode of Little House on the Prairie, and a bit of chocolate.  Of course.

Oh, and Pete Falcon won the cycling contest for this year. Barely.   The goal for the 2010 Johnson and Johnson cycling contest is to ride at least one half of FIL's total miles.  Can he do it?  Yes, he could... but I think he has already conceded. 

And that about wraps it up.  I know, our Christmas celebration is conspicuously missing.  That is because our family chose many years ago not to observe Christmas.  We just know too much about its history and tradition, and we can't take part in it with a clean conscience before the Lord.  If you want to know more, you can do the research.  Look it up at any public library, in the Catholic Encyclopedia.  I can hear you now -- "But, but, but Sally!  Don't you believe Luke Chapter 2??!!  I thought you were a CHRISTIAN!"  Yes, we certainly do believe it, and yes, I am a Christian -- the born again, blood-bought, Bible-believing kind.  Every word of God is pure. Proverbs 30:5.  The birth of my Saviour was wonderful and amazing and miraculous!  Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!

Happy New Year to you all!

The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.
Proverbs 10:22

Thou crownest the year with goodness

Psalm 65:11

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