Saturday, October 30, 2010

October 2010 in Review and then some

Did you, my half-dozen dear and faithful readers, wonder if I was ever going to do this again?  My kids did.  My camera has been virtually abandoned since about half way through our summer vacation, since Amy has taken over as family historian.  The problem is that I have to rifle though about 10,000 photos in her files to find a few to write a summary of our month here. :)  I am thankful to be able to say that Amy keeps her photos organized by month, so it can't be that hard.  Can it?  In no particular order, here I go.

Since August:

We had two birthdays.  My first baby and my last baby both got older.  Alison is now the age (finally -- we did not go through this when my girls were little) where she wants to wear nail polish, earrings, make-up and high heels. :)  Who can blame her?  These things make a girl feel pretty.  But without quite a bit of discretion, these things can also make a girl looked used up.  Her daddy has asked her to wait til she turns 18, and Alison has sweetly complied. Eighteen is just around the corner anyway! Pureness of heart shows in a girl's countenance and in her attitude; I am so grateful for her desire to please her daddy and the Lord.

Emily turned seven.  She is learning to pull some weight around here, thanks to big sister, who is teaching her how to sort laundry, pick up after herself, and keep her room somewhat presentable.  Below, the watch that "lights up", thanks to Nana and Papa, and another wonderful birthday gift, sitting with Grampy and a book.

The dentist/orthodontist's office has been kept busy with little Diamonds in the office regularly.  I believe this is Elisabeth's mouth. ??  (Amy says, "Mom, you can't tell by looking in her mouth?"  No.)  If this is Elisabeth (must be-- Alie is missing teeth), it is just short of a miracle to see her with the isolite in her mouth, and NOT gagging.  Poor kid.

There is nothing more fun than a day at the park with our friend, Mackenzie. :D That kid has more energy!  Our local park has a nice fountain for cooling off on hot April/May/June/July/August/September days.  The kids are soaking wet, but don't worry. They will be dry in five minutes.

Some of Alison's violin students have a date orchard.  I was the blessed recipient of gallons of delicious dates!  Here we are pitting them.  So far we have enjoyed a batch of oatmeal date cookies and four loaves of date nut bread.  So yummy!  These were the high-protein variety; I am sure they included a few worms.  My neighbor ate a pint of them and never knew it.

It is finally bike-riding season here again, and I love it, because it means my kids play outside more!  Kids need sunshine, you know.  We don't lack sunshine, but for half the year it's too much for us.  Unless we are under water, of course.  When you don't have a horse, you have to settle for a bike:

We resumed school.  We're using a lot of ACE this year, with some other stuff thrown in.  It's going okay, pretty good actually, but it's school, not really learning.  That will be my homeschooling struggle til my kids are all gone.  Nine weeks down this year, twenty-seven to go.  Wait.  This doesn't look like school work to me:

We joined 4-H!  I am feeling a bit squeamish about this.  For one, I am not a global citizen, or not a good one, anyway.  I am not a very good team player, and not competitive.  I am not into making points for our club.  Second, I really don't like feeling an obligation to be as committed to 4-H as I am to our local church.  But we're in it now.  Elisabeth and Emily are loving leathercrafting, and Emily is going to start sewing, as well.  And Amy is going to take up the 4-H digital photography project.

Had to add this one -- a rare photo of Amy!!!  She generously shared her camera(!) with one of the little girls at 4-H, who was just dying to take a picture and then see it on the little camera screen.  That Amy is so good with little kids.  They love her. :D  And she loves them!

Elisabeth is getting quite good with her Sculpey clay.  After several years of begging, Emily got some for her birthday, as well; someone should have told her that you make little things with Sculpey.  Her first project consumed at least a block!  Oh well, says the seven-year-old mind.  We can always get more.  Ha.  Betsy's Tiny-Dream-sized dollhouse people:

The aforementioned Mackenzie indirectly inspired us to have a family soccer game.  We don't play by the rules, and we don't use the right ball or the right goals, and we don't wear the right shoes or clothing, and we play in the wind so one team is at a distinct disadvantage.   But we had a very fun day together!  One of the Diamond family preferred the playground, but what do you expect from a little girl?  Even Mom got in on the fun here.  If I am on the opposite team from my husband, I cheat.  I admit it.  You have to push him around and get him out of the way if you want to make any progress. :)

Amy tried her hand at portrait photography, among many other genres.  Is there such a thing as a photography genre? Isn't it just amazing that a child who can't remember a single fact from her history/science/English curriculum can quote photography tips from photo-bloggers at me all day long? :)  This is why we need to be unschoolers.  I would feel better, at least. :)  Amy has more posted more details of our activities here, here, and here.

The highlight of October was, of course, a visit from the PlainJane family! I can see how people who meet on the Internet end up married to each other. :)  Jane and I met more than three years ago over a comment left at someone else's HSB blog.  I commented back at Jane, we connected our girls, and that was the start of a sweet long-distance friendship.  Our girls have emailed, chatted, and talked on the phone almost every week for the past two years or more.  Even our husbands share avid interests in the weather and cycling.  While I do complain about the desert (because that's what you do when you live in extremes), we did our best to show the Janes how wonderful it is out here in our wilderness, and we  all tried really hard to convince them that they should move here.  :D  While Mr. Jane (lol) seemed to really enjoy the exploration potential of our desert home, I don't think he bought it.  We had a wonderful time, and we miss you, Jane's family!  See her blog and Amy's for the details of their visit.

In un-photographed news, Alison is now busy with eleven violin students; Amy has been keeping my sewing machine running non-stop making towels, quilts, curtains, rugs, and warm clothes for her little sisters' dollhouse people; all the girls have been busy practicing their instruments;  John Garrison, the man of the house, fixed my kitchen disposal;  and I... ?  I'm here.  Thanking God for his goodness in all kinds of situations.  Feeling more contemplative lately, but not coming up with any thoughts of my own to share.  The scripture is good for that, rather. :)

If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand?
But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.
I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.
Psalm 130:3-5

Now look.  Here it is, only the 30th of October.   Done ahead of time!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Did You See It?

A friend brought to our attention the fact that the International Space Station would be visible in its orbit around the earth this week, so after supper tonight we all ran out to watch the sky.  We saw it!  At Heavens Above you can chart the times of visibility for your city or coordinates:

Under "Configuration" find your location by selecting it from the map. Click where you live.  Now scroll down, and below the map enter the name of your town if you like, and correct time zone.  Now click "Submit".

Under "Satellites", click on 10 day prediction for ISS.  The next page is a chart that tells you the dates and times of the space station's visibility from where you are,  its magnitude (the lower the number, the brighter it will appear), the height at which it will first appear in degrees from the horizon, and the compass direction in which you should first look for it. The chart will also tell you how long the ISS will appear in the sky, the angle at which it will reach its maximum altitude, and where it will again fade away into the earth's shadow.

The space station is only visible for a few minutes, so search quickly for it!

Little boys (and big boys, maybe even girls!) will love this tour of the inside of the International Space Station, as well:


(Sorry about the music.)

There it is!!!

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Help MEET For Him

I have never understood women who leave small repairs for their husband to do.  Sometimes a screwdriver can pretty the place up a bit.  Now, I admit there are times when I am very lazy about prettying the place up with or without a screwdriver, but it can be done, and using manly tools is not a big step over the line that divides the HE jobs from the SHE jobs.  I have always loved a hardware store. When I was a kid the local hardware stores had a wooden floor (love that sawdust smell), and all sorts of fascinating gizmos and mysterious stuff.  I could spend all afternoon in that place.  When I was a much younger woman than I am now I did all my own auto maintenance.  Dad showed me how to change the oil, wipe out a wet distributor cap, and change the brake pads.  I didn't do it often, but I liked doing it.  I liked feeling capable.  I like knowing I could.

When I got married I had to make myself capable at other things, like cooking.  I left most of the tool-oriented stuff to the man of the house.  But while the man of this house is really skilled with a Sword, many jobs that require tools just frustrate him.  He has lost his salvation once or twice, banging his knuckles while wrenching on a tough nut.  (Just kidding.  You can't lose your salvation.)  I came to realize that being a helpmeet doesn't just mean cooking and cleaning!  So once I installed a disposal in the kitchen sink.  And once I went around nailing or gluing all the loose pieces of trim.  But really I have not done much in the tool department in years.  Until today, I had forgotten what a great feeling it is to know you can DO IT!

For the past year or so I have had to stand over my washing machine to make sure it drains, rinses and spins.  The  whatchamacallit was wearing out.  The wash cycle would finish, but then nothing would happen.  I had to remember go give it a good BANG to get it to drain.  One day I figured out I could fool it by gluing a piece of K'Nex to the peg that starts the motor when you shut the lid.   The inevitable was inevitably going to happen, but we put the repair off.  For one, getting to our washer is a Major Undertaking.  Before you can even get to the washer, the dryer has to be disconnected first, then moved out of our minuscule laundry room.   It would be a Big Headache.  And  the $$ involved in a fix required making do for as long as I could..  The husband knew about it.  I was sort of waiting on HIM to do something about it.  On Saturday, however, the inevitable happened.  The washing machine gave out, full of water and heavy darks, of course.  :D

So.  Striving to be a help meet for him,  I went online and Googled "my washer won't drain or spin".  All the solutions that I could skim in 60 seconds suggested that the pump was out.  The pump was obviously not the trouble, so I made a little trip over to Sears to find out what that worn out little doohickey was called.  The nice salesman told me it's the "switch", and said I would want to call the service man.  I told him, no, I was going to replace it myself.  He gave me that smile, you know, the one that says, "Come on, lady, you can't be serious."  I told him you can learn to do ANYTHING on YouTube.  Just in case, he showed me several really pretty clean, scratch-free, high efficiency washers that I'd rather not put money into, if I can help it.  Even a nice cherry-red one!  I thanked him for the information, and he said he hoped I'd be back.

Next, I went home and looked up the model number of my washer.  Then I Googled the part number.  I found an amazing website right here, where I could not only order the part, but also watch an exciting little video that told me how to replace it! (I love the internet!)  I was so thrilled!  My repair rated two stars out of four, for difficulty.   "I can do that," I thought. I was amazed to see that the washer cabinet comes apart (hey, someone was thinking!), and that I was not going to have to haul the whole thing out and turn it upside down, plus get the basket and the pump out in order to reach the on/off switch.   I eBayed (new verb) the part, found the same one for 2/3 the price that Sears wanted, and placed my order.  That was Saturday.  It arrived TODAY, Monday.  In less than one hour my washer was fixed!  Yay me!

Thank you, thank you!

I must be somewhat humble and admit that I did NOT do it all by myself.  My manly husband found the the ratchet wrench for me, and he unscrewed a tough bolt.  He also pried off some tough wire harnesses, but I was happy to let him feel useful.  I even played the helpless female just a teeny bit.

If I sound pleased with myself it's because I am.  My husband is pleased with me, too! :D  ...Now I should hit him up for the cash I saved him.  Hee hee.

Friday, October 22, 2010

2010 Trip Part 5

I promise you, our vacation was not nearly as long as the time it is taking me to post it!  I am losing interest in this series, but how can I quit?  We have not gotten to PlainJane's house yet, and oh dear, I AM late.  She and her family just left our house!

After leaving my beloved North Dakota (beloved except, as one astute person pointed out, for its homeschooling laws, as we are wonderfully spoiled that way in AZ), we headed for Minnesota's North Shore.  Lake Superior holds many fond memories for both my husband and me.   When we first began to plan this trip, it was going to be a little family trip to Minnesota.  By the time it was done,  it was a BIG family trip!  We were joined at beautiful Lake Superior shore by my in-laws and my husband's brother and sister and their families.  Such fun we had!  Here's a quick recap.

All the cousins on this side were together for the first time in... eight years.  But two were not born yet back then, and one of those is a brand new little niece.  We all got to know each other again!  What a nice bunch of kids.  (Look at all those BOYS!)  My most techie child picked up all sorts of interesting information from her techie cousins, things like "jailbreaking" and cool things you can do with an iPhone.  We played Pit, ate ice cream, grilled steaks, played in the water, slid down a mountain, rubber stamped post cards, talked, laughed, and all that fun stuff you do with family.

Ooops, they aren't all in that photo.  Two girls and some adults missing.

We had two groups of hikers at Gooseberry Falls, the A team and the B team.  The A team was for active teenagers, fit forty-some-year-olds, and some smaller ones with good endurance.  The B team did a short little walk to the falls, collected a few rocks, walked back to the parking lot, and went to buy a pie. That's my kind of hiking.  :D

We all went to see Split Rock Lighthouse.  It has a very interesting history, and of course there are lots of shipwreck stories to be heard at Lake Superior.  It is a most treacherous body of water.  Remember the doomed Edmund Fitzgerald?

As a matter of fact, we visited several lighthouses:

We watched a fancy sailboat leave the harbor. (If I'd have written this two months ago I might remember what it's called.)

AND, for our first time ever, in spite of this being one of many trips to Duluth, we got to see the largest ore boat on Lake Superior come into the harbor.  This made John Garrison's day.


Our girls talked their daddy into taking them to an alpine slide, and we had planned to do that in the Black Hills.  That was before the van broke down and we were forced to reroute our travels.  A quick Google  search assured us it would still be possible -- in Minnesota!  Who knew Minnesota had anything remotely alpine?  If you ever decide to do this, don't think you can just buy the cheap package and be satisfied.  Get the all day ticket.  Of course, the best thing about all these Lake Superior adventures was the fact that all the relatives were with us.  Emily was blessed with several big "brothers" to escort her down the slide.

The more prudent John Garrison entertained himself with his new niece, Elly.


Isn't he goofy? :D  Emily did talk her Daddy into one ride, at the very end.  The nice people at the ticket booth let him take his little girl at no charge.  Later, while rubbing his aching back, he said he was glad he did not pay for that kind of treatment.  I think alpine slides are for people with younger bodies.

We had lots of fun times.  The best of it all was just being with people we love. ♥

Next stop, PlainJane's!

Thursday, October 21, 2010


(I wish I were that thin!)

After a particularly difficult morning Emily asked me, "Mommy, is it hard being a mommy?"  (Maybe the tear in my eye was a clue?)  I said, "Yes, sometimes it is hard.  But there's nothing else I'd rather be," and I looked her in the eye and smiled.  After a moment she said, "I'm glad to know that."  She got out of her chair to give me a hug.

I'm glad God is a man.  Male.  Whatever.  I can run to him for help and comfort.  He is strong.  He is bigger than the problem that is bullying me.  He doesn't let me ruin myself.  He doesn't validate my gripes, but shows me what's true and good.   I can get up and walk away knowing that he understands.  He hears me and helps me.

If God were female, praying would more likely be a girls' mutual gripe session, don't you think?  Talking to "her" wouldn't help me at all.  I would probably get off my knees feeling justified in my gripes, victimized, and righteously indignant.   ??   Just an idea.

Yep, I'm glad God is male.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


Where was I?  Oh yes, it was Alison's birthday the last time I posted, which was more than two weeks ago.  Life is just getting in the way of blogging, and that's okay, because it's in the right order.  :D  We said goodbye to my parents Wednesday morning after a quick and wonderful visit, and I had just enough time to change the sheets before the PlainJanes arrive!  We are waiting for them as we speak.  I already warned Jane that I do not "do" dusting.  Not regularly.  The dust lives here.  It is part of the furniture.  I hope the PlainJane girls are not expecting perfectly clean accommodations!  We live here, after all, and there are people coming and going all the time, now that this address has turned into a music studio.  Can I blame it on the music studio?  I didn't have anyone else to blame it on before this.

I missed posting a Happy Birthday to Emily last  Sunday.  She turned seven, and she got everything that was on her birthday wish list, except for an mp3 player and a digital camera.  She was very pleased to get canned peaches, dried mangoes and apricots, and yes, brussel sprouts, along with some Hot Wheels, Sculpey clay, and a "watch that lights up".  This is her reaction to unwrapping a nice book of teddy bear paper dolls that I found at the Salvation Army for 25¢, complete and unused.

Perhaps the best gift of all was when her grandparents accepted Emily's invitation to come for her birthday.  I told Emily that her grandparents were not going to come this year because such and such and blah blah blah, but she persisted.  Fine.  Invite them, I said.  So she emailed the grands, and to my amazement, they made a liar out of me!  I was very happy to have them!

Alison has picked up five more violin students.  Who needs high school anyway?  She now has a cottage industry.  There is so much to learn when you provide a service.  One of them is how to deal gracefully with a chronically late student, when that student is the last one of the day.  Another one is when parents drop their kids off and then forget about them.

We have three girls in 4-H this year, something that is new to us.  With all the forms and books and projects it is very confusing, but we'll get it.  Emily is the easy one, being in CloverKids.  I don't have any books to fill out for her.  She is doing sewing and leathercraft.  Elisabeth is doing leathercraft also, as well as  "auditing"  digital photography.  And Amy is doing photography, as you well know.  She was unofficially voted club historian and agreed to split the job with a younger girl who was very disappointed not to be an officer last year.  :)  Our schedule has just picked up, as well as our gas bill.  We will have a lot of running back and forth.  But it's a good bunch of kids, and this will be a good creative outlet for our girls.  The academics might have to take a back seat.

Goals for the rest of the day: Make a delivery, stop at the store, figure out what's for supper, finish up my Sunday School lesson, bake cookies, and oh!  Yes!   FINISH THE CHURCH LADIES' NEWSLETTER!!!!  That should have been first on the list.  What have I been doing???  After all that, we'll greet the PlainJanes!! :D  Must go.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sweet 16 Alison

Today is the 16th birthday of my oldest baby.  I can't believe it was SIXTEEN years ago that she entered our lives!   Alison, you are a joy to my heart and a blessing to your family. Thank you for your helpfulness and your sweet spirit!

May God bless you with peace in your heart, joy in your soul, and the rewards of a life lived for Jesus Christ.
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