Sunday, December 23, 2012

Bear Lips

When a dog licks his chops, what part of the body is that?  It's his lips, right?  Today a friend generously gave us some bear chops to try.  A hilarious discussion ensued here about what, exactly, are bear chops.  One child looked suspiciously into the frying pan, thinking, I am sure, that she did not want to eat bear lips. (Personally, I have never seen lips with bones in them, at least not animal lips.) 

I marinated the chops in some balsamic vinaigrette for a couple of hours, then tossed them into the skillet.  (All that smoke is not representational of my cooking, not usually, not unless I am frying something.)  

The comments were such:
"It smells like pork and tastes like beef."
"I LIKE it!"
"Mmm, that's good."
"It doesn't taste like beef."
"Can I have another piece?"

I have eaten goat before, and squid, and crayfish, but bear lips are the most unusual food I have ever eaten.

The pigs that we get our pork chops from must come from a different country.  I have never seen pigs with such big lips as the chops that are in my freezer.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Mr. Pointy Nose Returns

Recently while I was looking for something online, I came across the sequel to the Mr. Pointy Nose story, written by homeschool mom Tammy Drennan.  Now, if you are a homeschooler and you have not read Mr. Pointy Nose, you simply must.  It will encourage you and make you laugh.  I think I posted it once before... oh yes, here it is.  And now here's part two, a bit more serious, but still very entertaining, and educational for us parents, too:

Mr. Pointy Nose Returns

Sister heard the knock on the door first, but Brother beat her to it. It was Mr. Pointy Nose, the truant officer who had visited many months earlier with dire warnings about homeschooling and had left a friend, with a bread recipe.
“It’s the man from the state!” Brother yelled. Mother rushed from the kitchen with Baby on her hip and sighed in relief when she saw their guest. “Please, come in,” she said.
Mr. Pointy Nose took a chair in the living room and Sister went for refreshments.
“What brings you all the way out here again?” Mother asked.
“Well,” said Mr. Pointy Nose, “two things, actually. First, I wanted to let you know that I’ve quit my job and I’m moving to Montana.”
Mother was surprised. Brother was ecstatic. “Oh, wow! Montana! That’s a big state! They have a lot of steer and horses and even buffalo. Can we come visit you?”
Mother signaled Brother to calm down. “What will you do in Montana?” she asked Mr. Pointy Nose.
“I have a brother who owns a ranch out there. I thought I’d try my hand at cattle herding.” He smiled sheepishly, as if he knew how unsuited for such work he seemed. “It’s always good to learn new things,” he added.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” Mother said.
“Can we visit?” Brother asked again, ignoring Mother’s warning glare.
“I’d be happy to have you,” Mr. Pointy Nose said, “but you know it’s hundreds of miles from here.” Brother nodded and ran for an encyclopedia.
“On a more serious note,” Mr. Pointy Nose continued, “A new truant officer has been assigned, and I’m afraid she won’t be so easily won over. She’s on a low-carb diet.”
Mother burst into laughter. Mr. Pointy Nose was starting his new life with a new sense of humor.
“Really,” Mr. Pointy Nose said, “she’s a tough one. Takes her job and herself very seriously. I didn’t want you to be surprised.”
Mother thanked Mr. Pointy Nose for the heads-up and wrapped some homemade strudel for his journey. He left amidst wishes of good luck and even some hugs.
After the children were in bed, Mother and Father talked long into the night. Sister and Brother tip-toed out of their room and sat in the hallway for many moments watching the light under their parents’ door and worrying in whispers about the new truant officer. They weren’t doing anything wrong, of course. As a matter of fact, they were doing many things quite right. But they worried nonetheless.
The family didn’t have to wait long to meet the new truant officer. She showed up at their door two days after Mr. Pointy Nose. “Ms. No-Bread” the children decided to call her in private, even after Mother gave them a disapproving look. “Well,” Sister said, “it’s not mean. She doesn’t like to eat bread, does she?”
Ms. No-Bread was tall and even sterner than Mr. Pointy Nose had let on. After a brief and official introduction, she announced, “Your children belong in school.”
“My children are in school,” Mother said calmly. “We homeschool.”
“We live at school,” Brother added, even as Sister tugged at the back of his shirt. Brother was only seven and still not very good at knowing when he should keep quiet.
Ms. No-Bread’s eyebrows drew together until they touched. “That’s not school and it’s not legal.”
Mother turned and handed Baby to Sister. “I think there must be a misunderstanding,” she said when she turned back to Ms. No-Bread. “Homeschooling is perfectly legal and has been very good for my children.”
Ms. No-Bread harrumphed and stomped back to her car, warning, “We’ll see about that!”
The next day, the family was served with papers to appear in court. That night, Mother and Father stayed up late talking again. Sister and Brother sat in the hall again. Brother fumed, “I should have set a trap for that lady.”
“What would you do with her if you caught her?” Sister asked.
Brother thought this over for a long time. “I would get Daddy to drive her far away and leave her there. In Montana.”
Sister laughed. “That wouldn’t be a very nice thing to do to Mr. Pointy Nose.”
The day of their hearing arrived and the whole family went together. Brother was under orders to be on his best behavior. Father and Mother had decided they would represent themselves and that Mother would speak for the family.
Ms. No-Bread presented her case before the judge, then shocked the family by asking that the children be removed to foster care while the case was under investigation. It was with great effort that Mother gathered her wits to speak.
“Your honor,” she said, when it was her turn. “I’m sure this lady has the best of intentions, and I’m glad she cares so much about children.” Mother held her breath for a second.
“Our family has been homeschooling for nine years,” Mother continued. “I have to be honest and tell you that we would do it with or without the blessing of the state, but it does happen that homeschooling is legal in our state and that we are not in violation of the law.”
The judge leaned forward. Mother hoped she hadn’t shocked him, or offended his sense of authority. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Brother lean forward, too. He and Sister were sitting on the front row, because they had begged to be close to Mother — just in case. Father sat near the back with Baby, because Baby wasn’t always very quiet. Only a handful of others sat scattered about the courtroom — two other homeschool families who had come to support Mother and Father, and some people there for their own hearings.
“You’re telling me,” the judge said, more surprised than angry, “that you would knowingly break the law if it didn’t suit you?”
Mother cleared her throat. “Yes, your honor, I would. You see, a law that forcibly takes children from their parents to be educated by the state is both unconstitutional and unconscionable. For the good of my children and for the sake of liberty, I would be forced to choose what is right over what politicians had concluded should be the fate of my children.”
The judge was rapt now. He gathered his robes and descended from his bench. Ms. No-Bread gasped.
The judge motioned for Mother to sit in a nearby chair and he took one opposite her. “Please, continue,” he said. Ms. No-Bread tried to protest, but the judge motioned her to sit also. “Doesn’t this fascinate you?” he asked her.
Brother could contain himself no longer and ran to his mother and sat on her lap. She wrapped her arms around him and spoke.
“I know that many parents feel intimidated by the state system of education, but they do have the right to choose freedom. It’s wrong for the state to take children by force. It’s wrong for it to force its own curriculum and ideology on children, its own vision of the future, its own agenda for society. It’s the role of citizens to create their own future, based on their own individual visions. That’s how we came to be the United States of America and the freest nation on earth. The people, not the state, created America. Now the government has decided the people can no longer be trusted — not even to raise their own children.”
Ms. No-Bread rose to protest again, but the judge interrupted her. “What do you think of this, ma’am?”
Ms. No-Bread stuttered a few incoherent words and sat down.
“Go on,” the judge said to Mother. “You have my interest.”
“Your honor,” Mother went on, “the state is our servant, not our master. Since when does the servant order the master to turn over his children and threaten to lock him up if he won’t?”
The judge looked thoughtful. “But some parents, all too many, maybe, won’t see to their children’s education as they should. In the long run, that costs the state money — welfare, prisons, tax revenues.”
Mother looked doubtful. “Maybe,” she said. “On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine it getting much worse than it is now — with most children in state schools. Could it be that the state has taken on a job never intended to fall to it and is paying the consequences? The family is not some program instituted by politicians. It’s the natural way of life, a law of nature, so to speak. Laws of nature are usually violated at considerable risk to the offender.”
The judge leaned back in his chair. “Whoa. You’ve given this some thought. Go on.”
“Maybe,” Mother said, “much of the dysfunction we see in society today is because the state has taken over the role of parents. Maybe state schooling is actually a major cause of our problems, for the very reason that it defies the laws of nature.”
“But,” the judge began.
Mother held up her hand. “Please, if you don’t mind, I’d like to make one more point.”
The judge nodded and Ms. No-Bread looked as if she might cry, or maybe explode.
“A few people argue that because some parents will fail to see to their children’s education all children should be forced into state schools. This seems an odd line of reasoning to me. What else do we apply it to? Do we require children to be nourished by the state because some parents will feed them poorly? Poor nutrition costs the state — in healthcare, lost taxes from lost earnings, and welfare. Do we force all adults to exercise daily? Adult lethargy costs the state plenty. Do we monitor the daily activities of all citizens because some will commit crimes? Crime costs the state a tremendous amount of money. Why the preemptive action against potential imperfections in parent-controlled education but nowhere else?”
The judge rubbed his chin. “That’s a good question. Why, indeed?” He turned to Ms. No-Bread. “What do you think?”
“I don’t think,” she snapped. “I just do my job. Smarter people than me came up with this system.”
The judge turned to Mother and raised his eyebrows.
“The history of our system is another story,” she said, “and there’s not time to get into it now. But common sense serves just as well to determine what’s right. We may deem other people’s imperfections worse than our own, but that does not give us the right to take away their children and indoctrinate them according to our own perceived perfection —“
At this, Ms. No-Bread stood and blurted out, “What about people who abuse their children? How will we ever know if they aren’t in school?”
Mother nodded. “Child abuse is a horrible thing, but most abused children already attend state schools where the abuse goes unnoticed or even ignored. Some are even abused in schools without any repercussions. But again, are we prepared to monitor all families because a few do wrong? Is that what you would want if you had children?”
Ms. No-Bread didn’t respond. She sat down and glared out a window.
“People are not perfect,” Mother said. “There is plenty that needs to be done to help parents do their job better. But that is not the role of the state. The perfecting of imperfect human beings by their fellow imperfect human beings should be done by persuasion, not coercion.”
Brother had drifted off to sleep and Mother shifted him on her lap so his head rested more comfortably against her shoulder. A heavy silence hung in the atmosphere, one of thoughtfulness.
“I won’t take much more of your time,” Mother said. “But I would like to emphasize that I did not bring children into the world to fulfill someone else’s vision for the future. As you well know, there are dozens, maybe hundreds, of competing visions within education circles. And, as I’m also sure you know, the winning theories are those of people with the most will and money to influence politicians and others in authority. The law then attempts to take my children by force and make them submit to the winner’s ideology. The only thing that stands between this grasp for my children and their freedom is their father and me. If I won’t protect them, who will? So, yes, even if it meant breaking the law, I would protect my children from becoming pawns in this deadly game of who is most perfect and therefore justified in taking away the children to prepare them for the correct future.”
Brother stirred and looked around. “Are we done yet?” he asked. The judge stood and ruffled Brother’s hair. “Yes, son, we’re done. Go home and learn all you can so you can make as convincing a case for freedom as your mother has done.”
Brother leapt from Mother’s lap, ran over to Ms. No-Bread and threw his arms around her. “You can come visit us sometime,” he said. “We can give you roast beef instead of bread.”
Ms. No-Bread looked bewildered and embarrassed, but also a little less stern. A tear slipped down her cheek and she nodded as Brother ran back to his mother.

Tammy Drennan homeschooled her own sons from 1985 to 2003. She has worked as a homeschool leader, tutor, workshop leader and writer since 1986. Visit her blog and her web site.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I married a crazy man.

I love that crazy man!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

He giveth snow like wool; he scattereth the hoarfrost like ashes. Psalm 147:16,17
Ever since we moved from Arizona to Minnesota, my blog has taken a hit.  Everything has changed, and there should be so much to say, but blogging just hasn't been at the top of my list these couple of years.  I think of Shani, who moved from Phoenix to the Chicago area maybe three years ago -- you know what it's like, don't you, Shani?  

It has been a good move for us.  To my kids, Arizona was home. They spent more than half their lives in the desert, in the same house, at the same church, with the same people that we love. I never had that experience growing up. Other than our time in Arizona, the longest I ever lived at one address was four years. You'd think I'd been a military kid or something, but that was not the case.  My kids, though, are in the Lord's Army, and where God tells a preacher dad to go, his family goes with him. One of the girls is sometimes very homesick for our previous church family. For another, it has taken some adjustment to go from having a good friend the same age to having one that is 82 years old.  :)  (I think this is precious!)  And one refuses to speak Minnesotan.  But for the most part, I think we are all reasonably content here, even the man I married, who said, "Good riddance!" when we left this, his home state, years ago. He has changed his mind and decided that he does like Minnesota, after all (all except for the VERY liberal political climate of the Cities). This is where people understand Minnesota-speak and Minnesota-think.  I am not from around here, but after being married to a Minnesotan for almost 25 years, I think I do pretty well translating into real English most of the time.

I write from home this Sunday morning, as we are having a snow day from church. We're expecting upwards of 15" of beautiful, redemption-reminder snow, along with high winds and dangerous wind chills.  None of the other people in our close little group was venturing out this morning anyway, so Pastor did not feel guilty canceling. We had church in our living room, complete with anthems and a good message on walking in the Spirit from Galatians 5. Women are to be silent in the church, and if we have any questions, we are to ask our husbands at home, but as my preacher is also my husband and we ARE at home, the service was interrupted a few times.

Elisabeth became a teenager yesterday. I don't know what all the fuss is about raising teenagers. I have three of the most wonderful young women living in my home, and I trust, another to follow in a few years.  These girls are such a blessing to me. Though it's true you can't tell their voices apart on the phone, each of them is vastly different from her sisters, each one a complement to the others' personalities. At one time Betz was a self-centered, shy little princess who screamed and cried and wrathfully took refuge under chairs when anyone looked at her. If that time of her life is the only time you ever met her, you would not know her now. She has become a joyful, confident, helpful, capable young lady. She has befriended many older people at the nursing home and she looks for ways to bless them. She organized a vocal and instrumental concert to perform with her sisters a couple weeks ago, and agreed for all of them to do a repeat performance for a birthday party for one of the residents. She can present the gospel of Jesus to a friend quite clearly and completely. It has been my joy to watch my Betsy grow, and I don't mean physically. She is becoming a bigger and greater blessing each year. :)

Betsy's hair, with her new FlexiClip and a new style.

Very grown up. :)
It is such a homey and cozy day here with the beautiful snow falling and falling and falling, a family I love, popcorn popping, and hot chocolate warming our hands. All I need now is a nice, soft fleece blanket and a little nap. 

And this is the end of my update, because my girls want to read my post, and I won't let them until I am finished. :)  

Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?
Job 38:22

Friday, November 30, 2012

At the beautiful Munsinger Gardens, St. Cloud, MN, Oct. 2012
God is good.  And he is trustworthy.  So no matter what happens, even if I am afraid of the circumstances, I can rest assured that he has my best interest in mind. And not only mine, but my family's, for we all belong to him.  And for that I am very thankful.  How anyone can live this unstable life without the peace of mind and soul that the Bible gives (when one believes what it says) is beyond me. When I become focused on all that goes on in life and in the world, and I don't stop to think of all that Jesus is to me, I get a little taste of insanity. I am very grateful that the Lord never forgets to think about me.

At Thanksgiving time my list of thankful-for's always begins with the things that make me happy and comfortable. But after mentally listing a few of these items I realize that while the object of my thanks is God, the focus of my thanks is still me!  How egocentric. I am determined to thank God for who he IS, as well as for what he has given me. Speaking of things he has given me, I am SO very grateful and thankful to have found a source of free insulin. The budget was just not going to handle another $200+ a month. Well, maybe the budget would have handled it, but I would not have.  God, knowing me very well, gave me a good tip.

Last week we traveled lickety-split to Kansas, to observe the Lord's Supper with our home church family.  It is such a short visit but that one hour of fellowship with our church is sweet. Our pastor and his wife are so good to us. We love them very much, for they treat us like royalty; they also have a role as godly grandparent figures to our girls. They are our counselors, prayer-partners, and encouragers. God has blessed us greatly, putting us into this church family.

'Tis now the season for my famous Peppermint Cremes, so don't forget to make some. Alison made one batch a very few days ago, and they are GONE.  Didn't even get to share any. That is just so wrong. Peppermint Cremes should be savored and eaten very slowly, and that one soft, rich sandwich cookie should satisfy every craving for a good while. But that is not what happens in my house. I think everyone is afraid they are not going to get their share if they don't eat fast. So in two or three days we are Creme-less, and considering their calorie content, that might be a good thing. But who counts calories at this time of year? Oh, and insulin -- did I say insulin?  When are they going to put Peppermint Cremes on the ADA list of free foods for diabetics?

Betz's birthday is next week, and she has no ideas for a birthday gift. She says she is perfectly content with the stuff she has. Her specially invited birthday dinner guest is not a friend her own age, but a sweet eighty-year-old woman who is a fellow volunteer at the nursing home.  I think that is very cool, don't you? 

This week the whole family made a trip to the tech school for cheapo teeth cleanings and x-rays.  Bad idea.  It's a good idea to have your teeth cleaned, but going to the dentist is a lot like taking your car to the mechanic.  You can be sure they will find a way to get more business out of you.  We need to have a retainer re-bonded, some wisdom teeth removed, some small cavities filled, six crowns, an orthodontic evaluation, and a consultation with an oral surgeon.  **sigh**  Well, God will provide whatever we really need, as well as the wisdom to determine what that is. He is good that way.

Our little church is holding its own, and we are encouraged by our faithful few. I think it is really neat how God prepares us to serve him in ways we could never imagine. My husband loves cycling, and it's a good thing, because it's one of few cost-effective ways to reach people who live way out of town. Google satellite maps help tremendously with this endeavor, as he is able to see ahead of time where the homes are concentrated, and where there is a five-mile-long dead end road with two homes on it. Then he plans accordingly. He has ridden mile after mile of dirt roads, putting our church flyer and a gospel message into people's ad boxes, giving wheel-chasing dogs a run for their money, and talking with the curious who want to know what a guy is doing on a bicycle out there in the middle of nowhere. God has blessed his endurance and his faithfulness and, after living in the desert for some years, his renewed tolerance of cold weather. I am proud and thankful to be married to this man.

I have now written a wandering blog novella and it is time to get supper. Thank you for staying with me this long. :)

Wishing all my friends out there a happy Thanksgiving season!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Shopping Research of the Day

If you buy a 3# chub of 80% lean ground beef on sale for $7.98 ($2.66/lb), and 14 oz of  that is fat/water... calculator noises ... that means 30% of the chub is not meat.  The meat is actually $3.65 per pound.

The 93% lean meat is now on sale for $3.49 a pound in a 3# chub ($10.47). Assuming there is actually 43 oz of meat in the chub, (having subtracted 7% for fat and an extra ounce for water),  that leaner meat is really closer to $3.89 per lb.  But you get more meat in the package... and a lot less residual fat.  ...And less of all the bad stuff that is IN the fat.  (That stuff reeks! Didn't cooked hamburger used to smell good?  What have they done to it??)

Looks like the lean meat is the better deal, all things considered. 
Is that gross, or is that gross?!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Art Day 1

Amy, Betz, Emily, our neighbor girl, Winter, and I had our first of three days of Barry Stebbing's art instruction (How Great Thou Art) this morning. Wow! That guy has every detail figured out. We had a class of about 80, ages 5 and up.  It was amazing. And fast!!!  It was over before we knew it. The pace was so quick that we had no time to compare our own work to others' who were sitting at our table -- I think Mr. Stebbing planned that to help us all keep a good attitude. Comparison is the enemy of contentment, you know, and there's nothing like looking at someone else's talent to make you feel like you have none. We blended colored pencils, mixed paint, drew lines, shaded, played with perspectives and backgrounds, and learned about some of the classics.  All in 2 1/2 hours!

Tonight's homework (yes, homework!) was to draw and color an apple with colored pencil, a penciled self-portrait, an exercise in contrast, and a pen drawing of a scene from the Bible. It's a good thing I had already planned to take these days off school. Here are a couple of our homework assignments, minus Amy's. Amy has been busy editing photos, and she will have homework to do tonight! 

It will be fun to see what great arteests we are after three days!
Charlie Contrast singing in the shower

Betz's apple

Betz's self portrait

Peter and Andrew at work

Mom's apple

Emily's self portrait

Peter finds a coin in a fish's mouth
More artsy posts to come.

Friday, October 5, 2012

My poor, neglected blahg.  (I'd better not ever get a puppy...)

In the recent life of the Diamonds in the Rough family:

Yesterday was Alison's 18th birthday. I am both rejoicing and mourning! But mostly rejoicing. We are blessed beyond blessed to have an adult (eek!) daughter whose heart is attuned to the Lord and who sparkles inside and out. A woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised, Proverbs 31:30. This year Alison has come out of her shell and become much more outgoing, confident, and comfortable with herself. I feel very humble (and relieved and thankful) to see what God can do with a child who has a less-than-perfect mother. And I am very much looking forward to seeing what the Lord has in her future (all except the part about her leaving home someday!) Alie is still playing violin, teaching lessons, cleaning house for a friend, and working at Culvers four days a week. Add to that the music ministry of our little church, and time spent distributing church flyers. That Culvers job has been great experience for her, and we are thankful for this opportunity. She just loves her job and her co-workers and her work environment. Having so many nice people working all in one place has been a blessing to her (and to her parents), but then, it should be no surprise -- this is Minnesota, where everyone is "Minnesota nice".  :)  The one downside of Alison working is that she can't be involved in many of our home and family activities, and we miss her. She misses us, too! That is the perfect lesson for a young woman. If you are going to work outside the home, there are some important things you will not be able to do!

Sara, unedited
Amy spent an afternoon taking photos of her friend for portrait practice. They turned out gorgeous! Of course it helps a lot that her subject loves having her photo taken and has a beautiful, natural smile.  Fortunately they kept this appointment on one of the very last brilliantly colorful -- and warm -- days of fall. Today the wind is howling and all the beautiful reds and oranges are now on the ground rather than in the trees. Someday our resident photographer will have a business. She just needs a bit of business confidence, and a new laptop for editing photos, which she ordered today with her hard-earned babysitting/shopping-assistant/photo-editor money. In case you are wondering when Amy has time to do school, that is a good question.  Lately she has been squeezing a week's worth of math, English, science, vocab, Bible, and social studies into the weekends.

Elisabeth (Betz) started piano lessons about a month ago, as a birthday gift to her Daddy. This is huge! Betz has resisted music lessons her entire childhood, but she has made big strides already, and I am so pleased with her personal victory in this endeavor. Music lessons are very hard on perfectionists, but good for them, I think. There is such a thing as "good enough".  Betz is still volunteering at the nursing home and enjoying the company of the old folks, as well as babysitting regularly and writing when she can find the time. She has grown up so much this year and has become a fun and happy young lady.

Emily will be nine next week. When I started blogging she was three! I am finding it difficult to wrap my head around that fact. She is still a little girl in so many ways, but she is maturing so much! She and Alison have worked out a point system for dessert. They each reward themselves with one point every time they complete a half hour of music practice (and for Emily, each time she washes the dishes). Ten points buys a dessert. It's sooo hard, but Emily has stuck with it. Good for her! (I need to put myself on their plan!)  She has been working on her birthday list for the past 355 days, as well as her birthday menu. :)

Tuesday we had a sizable grass fire right near our house. There was no reason to fear, since God was right there, his wind blowing the fire to the only area where there were NO HOMES... But still, we began packing up a few things that would not be replaceable, just in case the fire should get out of hand and we would be evacuated.  It made me realize just how unprepared I am for such an emergency! I went to bed wondering if the fire had been started by vandals who might come back at night to finish the job... and four of us dreamed of fire that night.  After driving by the burn area and smelling blackened marshmallows, I decided it was not arson, but possibly stupidity...?

Later this month three of the girls and I will be taking Barry Stebbing's How Great Thou Art three-day art class.  I am excited, not only for the art instruction, but also to meet other homeschoolers from the area and to see others whom we have not seen in a while. Just as we seem to get a routine going, we do something like this and destroy the routine, but for us, this is what life is made of!  As for the rest of school, Apologia is the big winner this year, having converted Amy from a science-hater to a science-lover. :)  (Yayayay!) Ed. Correction: Amy does not love science; she only likes Apologia.  We are now doing both Saxon and Teaching Textbooks math, each being a good fit for two different kids. Vocabulary Cartoons is boosting our use of the American language, and ACE mostly fills in the rest. After reading PlainJane's very informative and complete posts on compiling a high school transcript (Part I, Part II) I am thinking I would be wise to attempt to put something together for Alison, just in case.  I'd have been wiser yet to keep track of everything while she was still in school, which I must do now for the other girls.

Church: Our little church plant is not an event, but a process, and that's where we are. In the process. We'd love it if we could start a church with seasoned, mature Christians who know their Bibles and who are committed to a local church, but the scriptural pattern is for churches to be started with NEW Christians who know nothing but Christ crucified and risen again. Yes, a process!  A church plant can't help being missions oriented, because it IS a mission. A dear friend sent me a link to a blog written by a church-planter's wife, and there is a ton there for me to learn.

Misc: I am miles behind in my correspondence. A dear friend was advised by doctors to say goodbye to her teenage son three weeks ago, but still he lives and is growing stronger. Praise God for answered prayer. I met a man last week who says that while he believes he will go to heaven, he can not say why, and that bothers him. He does not understand the new birth, why it must take place at a given time. The Lord gave me a wonderful opportunity to witness to him. We have made some new homeschooling friends, and found some new music for the girls to sing at church. No, we did NOT watch the debate. I think Romney will win, only because we are given no alternative. And that's pathetic. I have been taking notes with my Bible reading lately, having some questions answered and asking others. Also reading a devotional book that has given me some good food for thought.

But as my little devotional book reminded me this week, God knows my future and has the entire thing, completely known to him, in his hands.  He dispenses it to me one moment, one day at a time, and that is all I need to know or handle right now. Nothing that comes to pass in my future will be a surprise to him. For that I am grateful.  God is good and nothing but.

I wish all you friends out there a warm and wonderful autumn.

Til the next time I feel inspired to post ~

Friday, September 28, 2012

I have had to make a few edits to that last post, so I drafted it again.  (It will be back.)  Line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little, and there a little, that's how we learn the Bible.  I'm still learning!

Monday, September 17, 2012

A New Pastime

The awesome dad here took the younger girls fishing this evening. I say awesome, because fishing is just NOT my husband's thing. He likes ACTION, as in mountain biking -- pedaling recklessly down a curvy, rocky, skinny dirt path closely lined with trees. Or boulders or cactus. NOT sitting motionless on a dock, waiting and waiting and waiting for a fish.  But when Emily accidentally caught a fish several weeks ago, he knew that he would have to bite the bullet and take her occasionally.  Friends generously donated fishing gear, and now we are set.  Fishing will be a wonderful father/daughter activity for Dad and Emily -- at least Emily thinks so. 

Husband graciously invited me to come along on this short fishing expedition, so I went along for the ride. We drove about a mile to a small lake south of us, where there is a public dock and maybe a few fish, which we were counting on due to the memory of several ice houses on the lake last winter. I was going to write a nice post, but since Betz beat me to it, I will just tell you that both of the girls caught a small sunny and we all had a fun time.  Go here and read all about it!

Friday, September 14, 2012

School Time

For he hath made him to be sin for us,
who knew no sin; 
that we might be made the righteousness of God
in him.
1 Corinthians 5:21

Do you realize just how complicated that sentence structure is??  I who adamantly (and foolishly) declared that diagramming sentences was for the old days have changed my mind. Actually, diagramming sentences can really help one to understand the old Black Book, the beloved King James Bible. Beloved to whom, you ask?  To me. Because it's the only Bible that sounds like God is speaking, and not a scholar or my next door neighbor or a bum off the street. (They were astonished at his doctrine, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Mt. 7) But that's a topic for another time, and there have been other times already for posts about that.  

As I was saying.  The first comma that appears in the above verse is critical, for it identifies Jesus as the one "who knew no sin". Without that comma Jesus was only made to be sin for those of us who knew no sin, and that just doesn't work, because there's not one soul who knew no sin. That would make salvation available to no one, and that would make absolutely vain Jesus's coming to this cesspool of sin to bring redemption.  Wow, every jot and tittle (and comma) IS important!

So I was going to try to diagram that verse, to show that "who knew no sin" modifies "him", and not "us".  But do you know what happens when you plug that verse into a sentence diagramming software?  "Who knew no sin" gets connected to "us". Ah, don't believe everything you see on your computer monitor.  As best I can tell, the correct diagram would look something like this:

Except that I can't figure out where "in him" goes, because that is referring to Christ ("him"), who was made sin for us....  So if you know any grammar experts, I'd be grateful to have them share their expertise in this instance.  And what do you do with semi-colons? Are the two clauses diagrammed as two separate sentences?  Normally they would be joined with a dotted line, but in this case one of the clauses is dependent.  So I invented that part of the diagram. The rules for sentence structure were made up after the Old Book was written in English.  It is not bound by today's grammatical rules. And as G. V. Carey observed many years ago, punctuation is governed "two-thirds by rule and one-third by personal taste."  

School is in full swing here.  The first day was not very smooth -- that seems to be a tradition here -- but since day two we have done swimmingly.  I am so pleased with my students who have worked ahead tackling decimal place values or algebra (again), memorizing however temporarily the Egyptian dynasties (to what purpose, we shall see), and reading chapters ahead in the text. I am particularly tickled at the change in the two students who were recently saved, who have suddenly gained more interest in the wisdom of the Bible. It certainly does help to know the Author personally.

One of the delights (and sometimes frustrations) of homeschooling is that we can take a little break any time we need one.  This week we have beloved company, and who can think about school work?  Yesterday we traveled to Duluth with our pastor and his wife.  It was an absolutely beautiful day on Lake Superior.  Today, garage sale-ing, a bit of fishing, and maybe a free hot-dog at Customer Appreciation Day downtown.  Let's see, that would be coursework in making change/detecting a good purchase (both good life skills), and later, some socialization.  Next week, we'll be hitting the books again.  Oh, and Alison is going to take her driver's permit test.  :)  Happy day!

Doesn't Emily look like she has grown up a bit?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Curriculum For Sale

 I should have done this two or three weeks ago... why did I wait til the first day of school to organize the school cupboard? 

If you are interested in acquiring the following, leave me a comment or email me:  g johnsons castle @ gmail . com  (remove the spaces):

ACE English Keys 1013-1024 (grade 2, complete) $9 ppd

ACE Animal Science Keys for PACES 1013-1024 (grade 2, complete), $7 ppd

ACE Animal Science PACES 1022-1024 (spiders, snakes, toads and frogs, grade 2, complete) $7 ppd

ACE Social Studies Keys 1025-1036 (grade 3, complete) $8 ppd

ACE Word Building Keys 1037-1048 (grade 4, complete) $8 ppd

Christian Light Teacher's Guidebook for Social Studies Grade 2, $7 ppd.

Everything is in good to excellent condition, from our smoke-free, pet-free home.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Something Great and Mighty

The conversation went something like this:

Me:  Lord, we have some big expenses coming up.  Could you please give us a lump sum to take care of some of this stuff, and take some pressure off my dear husband?  You know what we need.

Jesus:  Of course I do know.  Don't you fret.  I'll take care of it.

Me:  Thank you.  I'll just leave this with you now.

Jesus:  Good idea.  Didn't I tell you to cast every care upon me?  I care for you!


Jesus:  Okay, here you go.  I talked to someone about paying your curriculum expenses this year.  It's all covered.

Me:  Praise the Lord!  Oh, thank you.  Lord, you are so good.  Why do we ever worry about these things?  And Lord, please bless that person for doing your bidding! I must go and tell someone about this right now ~   

Blessed be the LORD, because he hath heard the voice of my supplications. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.
Psalm 28:6,7

Jesus:  Anything else I can do for you?

Monday, August 20, 2012

School Time Again

We are experiencing the yearly struggle over curriculum choices again.  I do have most of it ordered, but I am not really happy with my choice.  (The curriculum sort of reminds me of this cartoon.)  All that remains to be ordered is science, and I think that will be Apologia this year, but I am having difficulty placing my two middle kids. I'd love it if Apologia offered a junior-high level anatomy and phys. But they don't; the choices are elementary level or advanced high school level.  Does anyone know if the elementary level anatomy and phys could be used successfully by an 8th grader? An older child? Is it too easy for that age? Because we're not going the college-prep route, Apologia's high school level biology is more than we're interested in. That would definitely involve clinical manipulation of the system: memorizing the trade language to get a passing grade.

Well, school will begin whenever we have time for it. :)  In the meantime, Alison and Amy are at camp, getting a much better and more critical education than the academics. We're praying they will be challenged and encouraged this week to calibrate their life's compass with the Bible compass, both with Jesus Christ at true north.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.
For the LORD giveth wisdom:
out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding.
Proverbs 9:10 and 2:6

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Busy Busy

We've had company for the past few days, very FUN company. Friends from Kansas who threatened to come and see us for the past eight years finally came through!  This house was absolutely a busy place.  Our three older girls had a full-time supervisory job, and they were fantastic!  One of my girls, who has always wanted to have twelve children, may have changed her mind about that number after spending every waking moment with twin six-year-olds.  :)   
Quote:  "I am a trouble-maker, and I make BIG MESSES, but I won't do that here, because I love you guys!"
(Thank God for love!)
I realize the background of this photo appears to be some sort of prison cell.  That is not the case, though there were a few times...  just kidding.

Next week the older girls go to camp and my parents arrive for a week-long stay with us at a cabin somewhere north of here.  After that, more beloved company.  I do have most of our school curriculum ordered for the coming year, but the questions is, when will we do it?  Life is just so full and good.  :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Community Garden

Our lovely town has a model community garden. I know that in some other places a community garden was a nice idea in theory, but it didn't work in reality. I believe what makes ours different is that this is a community of volunteers. As a matter of fact, if all the volunteers moved away, I think the place would collapse. Some of the produce is grown for the senior center, but many of the plots are rented for personal profit. Some very able gardeners organize this local amenity each year, assigning plots, purchasing communal necessities such as hoes, rakes, and hose and nozzle, tilling the soil, managing the generous collection of compost, and mowing between the plots.

No chemicals are allowed -- we rely on Cayenne pepper to keep the bunnies away.  Tall fencing does a good job of keeping the deer out. There are several perennial plots for raspberries, rhubarb, garlic, and other non-annual produce. Gardeners share their tips and woes. The variety of plantings is amazing and fun!  

This is the first year our family has been able to grow a garden, and other than the weeding it has been a blast!  Elisabeth is in her element, enjoying the living things. Amy has plenty of photography subjects. Dad is perfectly at home in the dirt and weeds, and he enjoys the manly outlet. Alison, well, Alison doesn't like the garden as much as the rest of us do, but she does enjoy the fruit of it. Emily is the first to search for hidden cukes and zukes. As for me, I love the many fragrances of the garden, the potpourri of living colors, and the wonderful freshness of homegrown food. Besides that, growing a garden is a great thing for a family to do together.  Many hands make light work!

This garden has been a blessing.  I am grateful to the people who work hard to keep it going!

Not ours.  Next year I'd like some of these cheerful sunflowers!

Our first tomato!

I'm thankful to have free water and a hose to get it to our plot.  In previous years there was a "water buffalo", a big water tank, from which gardeners filled watering cans and carried their water.  Somehow this photo makes me think of Mr. MacGregor's garden. :)

Nifty idea -- screwing some pvc pipe into the wall makes nice hoe holders.

This froggy is our personal garden mascot. (Thanks, Christi!) 
I'd love it if he would serenade us with beautiful tunes from Peace and Comfort.  :)

  The eyes of all wait upon thee;
and thou givest them their meat in due season.
Thou openest thine hand,
and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.
Psalm 145:15, 16

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Amy's Cool Project

Always the artsy-crafty one in this family, Amy jumped with both feet into this fun and inexpensive photography project.  It looks finished, however the print peeled right off the backing a few hours after it was glued on.  We're in the process of rethinking this and coming up with an alternative fix.

But. Here's how you do it up to this point:

Take a nice b&w photo.  Save it on a flash drive and run down to your local Office Max.  Ask for a 3' x 4' engineer's print of your photo -- has to be black and white -- you can't get engineer's prints in color.  In less than five minutes you will see the big printer cranking out this awesome, huge photo.

Next, run across the highway to Wal*Mart for a little bottle of black craft paint and a can of Elmer's spray adhesive.

Stop next door at Home Depot and get a 4' x 8' piece of foam insulation.  Carefully wrangle it into (or onto) your vehicle, or do like we did -- ask an associate to cut it approximately in half for you so it will fit in your car.

When you get home, cut the foam the right size to back your print. An electric knife works nicely.

Paint the edges of the foam with black craft paint.

Take it all outside and spray the foam and the back of the print with the fixative, and let it dry for about a minute.  (We didn't do both sides, and we didn't let it dry long enough.)

With a helper, carefully line up one edge of the print with the edge of the insulation foam, and lay it down slowly, using a rolling pin to smooth out any air bubbles.

Make a hanger on the back side with wire and duct tape (who's going to see it??).   

Approximate cost:
print:     $8
insulation:      $10 (big enough for more than one project!)
paint:      $2
adhesive:      $4

Total, less than $24 for this big and wonderful faux-canvas for your living room wall.  You would pay big time to have a professional do it, but look how easy this is! 

(When we figure out how to get the print to stick, we'll let you know...)   :)


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Late Musings

I fear the true subject of my latest post was overshadowed by my writing about my losses.  Sorry I rambled.  Did you see the rest?  Amy and Betz were saved!!!  That was the real subject.  Sometimes I write with the assumption that y'all know what is going on in my little brain.  After I left that post up for nearly a week I got to thinking that maybe I sounded like a Calvinist, with that bit about not wanting any children who would grow up and die and go to hell.  It's not that I thought God was choosing where they would go.
Certainly God knows the end from the beginning.  Because he is in eternity, he can see the whole parade from beginning to end, while we can only see from our spot on the parade route each event as it goes by us.  But I don't believe God predestines souls to be saved or lost.  That is just not in keeping with God's "personality", as it were.  Besides, there are just too many Bible verses that tell us that Jesus' death was for ALL of humanity.  If every single soul would repent of sin and believe on Christ, there would be room in heaven for zillions.  It's too bad that most people reject the God of the Bible.  I didn't want my children to be, according to God's foreknowledge, among those who do.  

I think I wrote a post on predestination once...  oh yes.  I did.  Right here.  I'm still reading the same Bible, and it hasn't changed.  :)

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