Friday, December 31, 2010

Sad Stories

We have been loving our school books this year, but we had two very close together that were quite sad.  But, oh, so worth the read! 

The first was The Big Wave.  This book portrayed such a wise father whose example was inspiring when facing fear, danger, death and life.  I enjoyed this book tremendously as it dealt so tenderly and honestly with grief.

The next book came just three school days after The Big Wave and was called Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes.  This book was about a girl bursting with personality and energy who gets leukemia because of the atomic bombs dropped in Japan.

If the first book was difficult to read through the magnification of tears, this book was nearly impossible to read through my outright sobbing.  My words were unintelligible by the time we got to the epilogue.  It would have been funny, if I hadn’t been so very sad. 

My daughter looked at me and sad, “This is a very sad story.”  I responded, “I know!  Come here and hug me!”


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Special Day

Today is a special day. On this day, December 30, 1995, I met my husband!  Oh, what a year that followed!  I call it my year of grace.  I broke all my personal life rules of wisdom and decorum that year, and the Lord shielded me in my recklessness.

My hero earned his title right from the beginning.  A girlfriend of mine wanted me to meet her boyfriend for scrutiny.  My sister and I had just moved from the Sacramento area to San Francisco with our mom.  Home life was really, really bad at the time, so a day out with friends was a welcome relief for me.  To keep the numbers even, my friend’s beaux brought a friend as well: my future husband.

The day of romping around San Francisco was great fun—lighthearted and silly.  I needed it.  They brought me back to the house and witnessed the turmoil in which I was surviving, my to my chagrin.  I desperately ushered them back to Sacramento—and away from my house—but not before we made plans to get together for New Years Eve.

The next day my sister and I headed to Folsom to hang out with our old friends.  I went to a party at my friend’s house and got to see both high school friends I hadn’t seen in years and my new friend who, I had to admit, was pretty cute.

As I remember those first days and weeks, traveling from Folsom to San Francisco, to my sister’s in French Camp and my dad’s in Sparks, I sit back in awe of my Lord’s provision.  My future husband and I threw caution to the wind, both sporting old and fresh bruises from our respective home lives.  My own friends told my hero to stay clear of me because I was damaged.

But he was my hero.  He made me laugh on my darkest days.  He stood by me when no one else would.  He patiently watched me heal.  I have never been so vulnerable and so safe with another human.  He has never rejected me, even when I have been at my worst.

And it all began on the penultimate day of the year!  It is a very special day.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Day in Review

This was our first year to reserve gift opening for January 6th, Epiphany, the traditional day for many to remember the wise men bringing gifts to the Christ child. We told the kids early on that this was the plan, and they have been on board with the ‘program’ from the beginning. They understand the spiritual, ritual and financial reasons for this trial.

I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me, but with all the talk and preparation, I never thought about equipping the kids for Christmas Day in regard to friends and family. So, when cousins called on speaker phone to exclaim in joy what they got, the kids handled it remarkably well, considering they were taken off-guard. But when they were asked what they had received, my daughter faltered. I sent my son off to chat with my nephew and held my girl while her shoulders shook.

She was ashamed and embarrassed to be bothered. But I am thankful for the opportunity to have the quiet time with her Christmas morning. We prayed, saying happy birthday to Jesus and inviting Him to be the center of this special day. Then we got focused.

First we made a birthday cake. While it was in the oven, my gal and I ran out to feed our friends’ cat. By the time we made it back, the cake was out of the oven so we played a family game. Next we did a ‘spa’ time with masks, mani-pedis and the kids’ first-ever viewing of the movie (the George C Scott version) A Christmas Carol. Even the boys let us slather masks on their game faces while we watched the movie.

It was a blessed time of family togetherness and thoughtful thankfulness to the Lord. We are continuing to wait for gift time, so our little experiment isn’t officially over. But We made it past the hard part and had some digging-deep style conversations about how we live and the choices we make. I think next year we will continue with this very new tradition, but will add the “Santa Game with Stockings.” (I actually ran out today and bought the stockings and stuffers, so even if next December is tight, we won’t need to worry.)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Glad, Sad or Mad?

I wish I were less moved—less ruled—by emotion. I am a wave on the ocean, when I would prefer to be a solid rock—or at least standing on that rock. But I am not. I am emotional. I feel things deeply and can't ignore it.

Compartmentalizing my feelings is another skill I don't have, and I FEEL indignant about the idea of doing it. I mean, if I feel sad or angry or happy, what would justify denying that? Something is either very right or very wrong, so it FEELS wrong to just sweep it under the rug.

Don’t worry, I know I am wrong. I need to be a grown up and keep myself under control. That is certainly what I teach my kids. I don’t want them to be slaves to their circumstances. I want them, and myself, to be able to live with joy, regardless the current goings-on. But what a hypocrite I am!

I praise the Lord once again for matching me to the perfect man for me. My husband cares and is so patient. He is also the most even-tempered person I know. I used to read that as being cold and emotion-less. But I have learned he is just far more mature than I am.

The night before Christmas Eve I was sad. Worse, it translated into crankiness when the dogs wouldn’t stop wrestling and a kid let a just-clean dog into the muddy backyard. I deserved to be left in my room alone. But my darling husband took us all out to eat and for a drive in and out of town looking at Christmas lights, then we watched the Polar Express—his favorite Christmas movie and we hadn’t watched it yet this season.

My sorrow had quickly turned to sulkiness, but with my husband’s gentle sensitivity, I had a wonderful night with the people I love. I truly am blessed beyond the curse (of emotionalism)!

As the day came to a close, I expressed my frustration with myself to my husband, wishing I could not be so controlled by my emotional reaction to my circumstances. He blessed me by saying that he is thankful that I am emotional. He couldn’t exactly express the reason for his thankfulness, but I was relieved to hear that I am not a 100% burden. After all, that would have made me sad!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Brag Time

Have I mentioned before my son is a genius?  He wrote a song this evening.  It wasn’t an assignment—in fact, I haven’t assigned writing to my son in a very long time. 

So here is his first song:


A bird is in the tree...

See how he sings effortlessly!

How I wish I could sing like he

Free in all that can be!

The bird is beautiful

Isn't hard to pull

a song like that from your lungs?

The bird is lovely!

He sits there, singing to me!

The bird sings from his heart

as he goes along with his part.

How I wish I could sing like he!

Then how happy I could be!

Not to be outdone, and inspired by the work he put into it, my daughter wanted to try her hand at this song writing business. 


The wind that blows in my hair

The wind that blows on my face

The wind blows everywhere

No matter where I walk!

You can't see it

But you know that it's there!

Because you can see it whip around the trees

You can see it make some flowers bow

And you know it's there

Because you can feel it!

You can see it

blow around things.

I'd hug it if I could

But even if I could

I would lose my grip

and fall

I see the wind

Blow around those things

And I know it's there!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Must be Nice

I ran to the grocery store today while my men were getting hair cuts.  The goal was to be speedy so they wouldn’t have to wait on me.  So I ran through, gathered the few necessities and hurried to the checkout line.  I found one with only one lady already being served.  Score!  Or so I thought.  I hadn’t realized that the one lady was the manager’s wife.

This woman was never outright rude, but she positively dripped entitlement.  She had special needs for every single item she was buying.  Special sales, last ones, and even returning food!  It was ridiculous, but such a spectacle that I watched spellbound.  She never raised her voice or even sounded irritated, but was so directive you would think that she OWNED all of Safeway.  She even spoke to me as though I were an employee!  She also had the girl check the discount candles and bag them first before her husband came out because he doesn’t ‘understand about candles.’ 

She went on to lecture the checkout girl and bagboy about how ‘scents emote (sic) emotions’ and how memories are tied into scents more than anything else.  And of course they were all on sale.  She went back to the aisle, while we waited, to confirm both the price and that the bag boy would never have been able to find where she’d picked them up.  She was thankful she’d confirmed it because she’d almost ‘overcharged herself’ by 49 cents because she had misremembered the discount price.

Her husband came out and had to do the needed key strokes to confirm the returning of the oranges because she doesn’t like that style, only the Clementine's, but never can remember the preference until after she buys them.  She chattered on as they went through the process of checking, returning, refunding and collecting payments and they needed her to sign.  Finally, I thought all was done, until she turned to look at my own items on the conveyer belt.  She pointed at something and told the general audience to be sure to let her know when that was on sale, because she would never pay for it now, but definitely wanted one.  Nice, huh?

I turned to the lady behind me and mumbled, ‘I thought I’d found the shortest line.’  She replied, ‘never when it is the manager’s wife!’  Well, now I know what she looks like so I can avoid that in the future!  It was quite a show, though.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Luke 2 (New American Standard Bible)

Luke 2
Jesus' Birth in Bethlehem
1Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.

2This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.

3And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.

4Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,

5in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

6While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.

7And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

8In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.

9And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.

10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;

11for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

12"This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

13And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14"Glory to God in the highest,
         And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."

15When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, "Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us."

16So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger.

17When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child.

18And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds.

19But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.

20The shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Where did THAT come from?

I did something really stupid this month with the bills—well, only two of them.  We have two mortgages and I swapped the payments.  I don’t know how or why, because I take such care to be sure that never happens, but it did.  I only found out when I got the bill from the smaller mortgage stating that I owed nothing for next month.

Now what?  I immediately went to pay the January bills, allotting the money I usually put into the smaller mortgage to the larger.  For better or worse, the difference between the two payments is substantial, so redirecting that payment was just a drop in the bucket.  Then I went through the rest of the bills to see where I could start scraping enough to cover the difference.  Thankfully, I have credits with a couple of utilities, so I am only about $400 short right now.

I got a call last night from the mortgage company.  The guy told me I had failed to make my payment.  I said that I hadn’t failed to pay; I just hadn’t paid enough.  He didn’t have my sense of humor.  He asked if I wanted to pay right then over the phone to avoid late charges.  I told him I could not do that.  So he asked why not.  How do you NOT laugh at that question? I managed to not laugh and explained I do not have the money to pay anything right now, but that I have a payment set to go on the first of January. 

So he asked again if I wanted to pay over the phone right now so that I could avoid late charges and being sent to collections.  I reiterated that I could not pay.  He asked if I had a credit card that I could use.  I said no.  He asked if I wanted to be sent to collections.  Again, what a question!  I said if he needed to send me to collections, then that is what he needed to do.  He asked why I didn’t have the money to pay.  Are these interviews scripted??

I explained that my husband got a 15% pay cut and we are doing the best we can.  I reiterated that I will pay the difference and late fees as soon as I can.  He asked again if I wanted to be sent to collections.  Then he asked if I had friends or family from whom we could borrow.  I yelled, “THAT is none of your business and TOTALLY inappropriate!”

I continued with the conversation, answering the same questions, explaining my mistake several times and dealing with the difficulty in understanding his accent.  My husband heard me and came close, ready to take over if things got worse.

But I handled it.  Maybe I should be more supplicating to someone who could send me to collections, but it is what it is.  I know I take the best care of paying bills that I can.  I know that collectors can’t complain about my payments.  I am faithful, and will take from our food bill before we fail to make a payment.  So we shall see how this little adventure plays out.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


The topic of individuality intrigues me.  I had a friend who once said that the goal of life was to erase oneself so thoroughly that we because totally transparent.  The reason was so that when people looked at us, they would see through ourselves straight to Christ.

I liked that visual, but there was always something that didn’t quite sit right with the metaphor for me.  I believe we were, everyone of us, made on purpose with a uniqueness that should be celebrated.  I am not talking about self-glorification or self service or worship.  I am talking about the child-like delight in doing a job well and using our qualities to serve the Lord in distinctive ways.

If we become so transparent that an observer cannot tell one of us from the next, that could frankly be a little creepy.  When Christ described the Church and explained the gifts of the Holy Spirit, I think individualism was clearly an essential part of the makeup.  The body has different parts with different jobs.  The Holy Spirit bestows on this one the gift of teaching, and on this one the gift of hospitality.

It is only in the coming together that we become whole.  I think about those cool effects that happen when cards are put in the seats at a stadium and the fans are to hold them up at a certain time.  As each person does his part, holding up a single card, a huge image is revealed.  So cool!

We are the same way.  As we contribute what we have been given (gifts, experiences, and personality) we create an image of Christ and His Bride that is breathtaking.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


We are currently studying Japan. We just watched a movie on the history of the Japanese, including the Samurai. There was a description of dignity that really struck me as being in such contrast with the values of Christianity.

The movie explained that the Samurai were well educated in academics, well practiced in the arts, and carried themselves with great dignity and honor everywhere all the time. This dignity was manifested by stoic composure and control. Their faces were to never reveal their inner thoughts, they were to move with careful purpose. Feelings and thoughts were to be kept deep inside.

Presenting oneself as acceptable was considered to be of the utmost importance. They were to need nothing, fear nothing, want nothing.

I believe that, as Christians, we are to exercise self control. We ought to be aware of our thoughts and feelings, but they are not to be given authority over our actions. So in that way, the philosophies and life-styles are similar.

However, with God, the source of self-control is not a burden to us. We do not need to hide or mask ourselves to our Father, nor to anyone else. On the contrary, we offer the worst parts of ourselves in humble honesty to Christ. We allow with willful submission the Potter to purify and mold us so that we are not suppressing or hiding our bad selves. Those selves are made new and we have nothing to hide!

How wonderful the freedom in Christ is! I cannot imagine living with the burden of self-control from my own strength. I am blessed to know that I don’t need to work day and night to control some beast inside of me. Instead, I get to be fully me, accepted.

Praise Him!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Living Water

Today we had a great conversation.  We were discussing a particular concept that some people use to eschew the existence or relevancy of God because He is cruel.  The idea is that any God who would demand blood for disobedience/disagreement/sin is evil himself.  That paradox proves that either there is no God, or He is not one worth following.

So we discussed it.

If you stepped out into the snow naked, could you reasonably get mad at the house for making you cold?  What about if you refused water for days and died?  Would it be the water’s fault that you died?  I think not.  The house, by its very nature, offers shelter, and leaving the shelter you expose yourself to the elements.  Water, also by its very nature, gives life.  We learned just last week in science that three days is about as long as anyone can go without water.

The same is true with God.  When we step away from God in disobedience/disagreement/sin, we make that choice to remove ourselves from the source of shelter and life.  How can we be upset with God for our own willfulness?

There is a suggestion from some that they would be better Gods; for themselves certainly, but universally, as well.  “If I were God, I would not make such narrow rules regarding salvation.”  The statement is absurd when you compare it to water: “If I were water, I would not be so wet.”  Or life giving.  It begs the question. If you are not the sole source of all  life, are you even a god?

As you follow the path of this statement, the absurdity grows.   Let’s say twenty-‘leven people become gods because they know they can do it better.  Not one will offer life or shelter that can’t already be attained from anywhere else, because to be exclusive would be cruel, right?   What kind of a god would be optional and unneeded?  The answer is no god at all!

So we return to the original postulation: any God Who would demand blood for evil is evil and so is not worthy of worship.  We have discovered that there is no cruelty in the truth that the wages of sin is death (Proverbs 10:16, Romans 6:23).  It is merely fact that walking away from life leads to death. 

But, let’s take it one step further.  Not only is our God not a cruel God for ‘demanding’ blood to atone for sin, but he is a compassionate and passionate God, loving us to the death of His own Son!  John 3:16 says (recite it aloud with me) “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” 

Knowing that when we sin, we opt out of life, so God chose death for Himself rather than to leave us to perish!  Wow!

Jesus called Himself Living Water.  What a loving God we have!

Monday, December 20, 2010

What Really Matters

My niece’s friend lost her dad in a car accident today.  My reaction came quickly and hit with force.  I grabbed my daughter standing near me after I hung up the phone and held her to cry.  I told her how much I love her and how great she is.  I felt almost panicked to get important stuff told to my kids.

I yell a lot.  I scold, I have high expectations and could use more patience.  My kids are well acquainted with all of my flaws.  I don’t want those flaws to stay with them after I have gone and speak more loudly than my love for them.  After a day of school and games and cleaning and a puppy who seems to’ve regressed to the first days of her life, I gathered my kids to my heart in bed.  Before reading our advent story of Tabitha’s Travels I told them again what had happened to my niece’s friend.

I told them that we have never been promised any number of days together.  While I would love to never have to discipline again, the truth is that I have to live as though we will continue living for decades more.  I have to train them in housekeeping and history and manners.  When they slip, I will remind them, if only for the sake of my own relationship with my future children-in-law!

But none of those things matter at all compared to the big truths.  I want my kids to know those big truths with such assurances that nothing shakes them.  So I went through everything I could think of that I would want them to know if I were to die in my sleep.  I wanted to let them know how much I love them, that they are good looking, beautifully stubborn and that God is right.  I told them that chasing after right was far more important than being right.  I asked them to follow God’s path as closely as possible and to never let doubt separate them.

And finally I told them to stick together no matter what.  “Be ready to drop everything for one another,” is what I said.

I hope I get to stick around to see my kids to adulthood for their sakes.  I don’t want their childhood to be marked by the loss of a parent.  For my sake, I hope to stick around to meet my grandkids.  But if that is not within God’s will, I pray I have done enough to at least point them in the direction they need to go.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


I was at the grocery store checking out when I looked down at a sign that totally brought me up short.  It was the carding sign--you know...if you were born in this year you can buy tobacco or alcohol?

Well, the year in which someone must be born to legally buy tobacco in CA is 1992....the year of my high school graduation.  Woah!  Has it really been 18 years since I graduated??  How on earth did that happen?  And how did it happen that 18 years became so short?  The first 18 didn't feel short at all!  The second 18...well...obviously I hadn't even realized it had passed!

And now, someone 18 years younger than I am is considered, in many ways, my peer!  I can buy a cigarette.  So can my eighteen year old friend.  I can get married and sign other contracts; so can my friend.  My young friend can even go to war to defend my rights!  Better than I can, I am sure!  So is this the beginning?  Young upstarts having to care for me?

And if that wasn't bad enough, wanna know who bagged my groceries?  One of my old Sunday School students.  Oh my goodness!

The obvious cherry on this is that it is December.  This has been going on a whole year and I only just noticed.  Another beginning of another end??


I wanted to include a cartoon about carding miners, but didn’t want to pay the money to post them on the site, so here is a link with several cartoons.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

No more braces!!!

December 2010 ~ 037 Wooo hoo, baby!  He is free!   After more than two years, his braces are finally off!  So exciting. 

Next stage are the retainers.  Until he gets used to them, there is the possibility of him spitting them out during sleep, so the dogs aren’t aloud to be in the room to protect those $400 appliances.  My daughter sleeps in a loft bed, so putting the puppy in there is really setting her loose before she really deserves that trust.  The puppy has also claimed the daddy as the favorite so she likes to sleep with her long hot-dog body pressed against the length of his leg—making for not a good night’s rest for the breadwinner.  What to do?  Sleep dep time.  Hopefully darling son will get used to the retainers quickly so we can resume normalcy and I can get some sleep!

There is something strange in the celebration.  He has retainers on both the top and bottom teeth, and so his speech is impaired.    It brings a strange mix of emotions to hear him struggle with his speech again.  I know it won’t last more than a few days, and there is a perfectly good (and temporary) reason for it.  There is still something bitter sweet in the memories.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Seeing Christ

I have heard it said and have seen it played out and have experienced it myself that we all interpret our surroundings through our own filters.  We come to the table with preconceptions that make up a world view.  This colors everything we encounter.  I know that is how I see Christ in places where non-believers don’t.

I don’t know the intention of the writers and producers of the movie, but I saw a wonderful depiction of salvation.

We went to see Tangled the other day and I was actually moved to tears during what I call ‘the conversion scene.’  I see the salvation story clear as day during the lantern night when the song with the words, ‘I see the Light,’ playing. 

Rapunzel lived a life of fear.  Her ‘mother’ told her that people would want to use her and that the world was full of ruffians.  The leading man lived for greed.  He’d been orphaned and uncared for as a child, and saw wealth and solitude as the ultimate goal.  Both lives were miserable.

The lyrics included phrases like ‘see the light,’ ‘the world is shifted,’ ‘live for love’ and ‘because I met you.’  Of course, this is a children’s fairy tail, so the you to whom they are referring is one another.  It is romantic.  But as I watched, I was covered in goose bumps because for me the you is Lord.  All the phrases in the song had new meaning when praising the Lord.

The metaphor was taken one step further when immediately following this scene was temptation back to their old lives—he to greedy thievery, she to fear and mistrust.  It was beautiful!

Later when I was talking with my kids about the movie, they made a related note.  My son compared the witch in this movie to the guy who held Quasi Moto captive in Notre Dame.  Both self-proclaimed adoptive parents held their respective children hostage by painting the world as a dangerous place, full of evil people who are selfishly ruthless.  My son’s point was the irony that the biggest danger and the most selfish people in the victims’ lives were their own ‘protectors.’  While acknowledging that both characters were knowingly deceptive and employed fear tactics for control, it also led us to another discussion.  People often see people as being most like themselves.  This means that we can find that trusting people are often trust-worthy.  Greedy people feel that everyone is out for a piece of themselves.  So the two antagonists also see evil in others, when their own hearts are so very dark.

I love it when movies cause so much thought and discussion!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Momma Bear

My girl had her final recital of the season.  My hero-husband took the day off to attend.  The recital began at three and we were told to be there at two, so we were.  Actually we got there at about 1:45, because we just like to be ‘good.’ 

I was hoping to run over to the retirement center to watch some friends at their piano recital, so I just dropped off my family and went on my way.  It turns out there is more than one available retirement center in town and I went to the wrong one.  I did finally meet the woman with whom I played phone tag for months when we were trying to volunteer at that particular retirement center.  I didn’t have the guts or time to tell her who I was. 

I am ultimately thankful I went back to the college where the recital was.  I got back within 15 minutes to find my darling husband and son sitting in the hallway with other parents.  Where was my girl?  Inside the gym with the other dancers.  They kicked the parents out!?  I walked up to the door leading to the gym to get my daughter and a lady told me I couldn’t go in.  I asked why and she said it was the decision of the lady who runs the dance studio.  Again, why?  I was given no answer so I said I was going to go get my daughter.  The lady stepped in front of me and told me my daughter was fine because the lady who runs the dance studio was in there with her.  I said that she doesn’t even know her—letting the lady interpret my pronouns however she wanted as I walked through the door.

I was really angry!  I surprised myself, really.  I do all I can to avoid confrontation.  I respect authority.  I do things I do not want to do because it is the most peaceful thing to do.  I often wonder how I would act if I were in a situation that called for me to stand up for my children or my faith.  I wonder if I would choke on my words.

Now this situation was hardly so dramatic.  In fact nothing more really happened.  I went in and sat with my girl.  When her teacher arrived, I let her know that my husband took the day off to be with her and was now sitting in a hallway.  I wanted my family together and she said that it was fine.  No big deal. 

But it was a small test for me to know that I can stand up.  I hope I can do so in the future without getting quite so hot under the collar.  I wasn’t ever rude, I don’t think, other than insisting on being with my daughter.  I smiled and walked and used nice words, but I was indignant, to be sure.

We love our daughter’s dance teacher so much.  We are less enthusiastic about the company for which she works.  It is disorganized and the leader is disconnected from the company in several key ways, but makes all the logistical decisions: like making little girls sit in a huge gym without their parents for 45 minutes for no apparent reason.  I believe she teaches mostly teens and soon-to-be-teens, so the condition of the little girl doesn’t occur to her.  Why we were there an hour early never was made clear, either.  Honestly, we could have shown up at 2:45 and all would have been just fine.

I heard later she didn’t want parents in because they talk and it would have been too noisy.  I don’t know if this was the reason or not, because the leader never actually addressed me or the group as a whole.  But the reason is so insanely ridiculous.  We were in a college gym with speakers (so big that I could have crawled into one) blaring at top volume.  Cheerleaders were practicing or gabbing on the sidelines, other dance groups were doing the same.  The place was a cacophony of sound.  But parents would have been too noisy? 

I felt like momma bear for the first time yesterday.  Usually I let my kids get the short end of the stick.  I don’t know if I looked like a momma bear or just a female dog, but the cool thing about being a momma bear is that you really don’t care!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The perfect dad for us

My daughter performed at the town Christmas Tree Lighting and my husband was unable to attend because of work.  We had a great time and everything worked out—after some tears.

A week later we have the same performance at the college gym and my husband said he was going to do everything he could to make this one.  His original plan was to work two 16 hour shifts to guarantee coming home on time (a teeny bit late for the performance) on this day.  But he didn’t make the first 16 hour day, making it possible that he would get held.

He knew who he would be working with and likes the guy a lot (a KidsROCK dad, in fact).  He didn’t want to avoid work, but he did want to be home for his daughter.  I guess his plan was to appeal to the daddy-hearts if they tried to hold him.  Until…

Apparently on the drive home, Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Cinderella” came on the radio and changed the plan.  He said he just couldn’t risk missing this knowing he’d missed last week and how she cried.  So he called in sick, the only way to be assured that we would make the show as a family and on time.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Core 5

As I have come to relax more, I am discovering that this school year is the best we have had—and we have had fabulous years! In each core of Sonlight that we’ve used, I have felt free to set aside books that did not appeal to us for one reason or another. Others we have not enjoyed, but we pushed through for one reason or another.

I still feel that I have the freedom to opt out of reading a certain book, but have not needed to act on it. The books selected for the Core that explores the Eastern Hemisphere are wonderful. I wish I could come up with just the right superlative to express our delight in them, but I can’t.

One element I most appreciate is the scheduling. We are reading the books intended for student reading out loud, and they are scheduled to begin alternately with the books assigned for reading aloud. So we being one book while in the middle of another. That has worked out so well for us. We have time to fall in love with one when beginning a new one. We read the new one with a strong preference for the ‘old friend.’ By the time the old book is done, we've fallen in love all over again with the new book, which becomes the old as a truly new book is introduced and the cycle begins again.

In the Bible portion of our lessons, we have a book called Remembering God’s Awesome Acts. I enjoy this book so immensely, that I would go so far to say that using this book is worth the price of the Bible program all on its own. It is very broad in its scope, likely a survey course in nature.

One of our recent lessons called for us to map the genealogy from Adam to Abram. It was set on a timeline and included each man’s lifespan. This intrigued me to such a degree, that it became what I shared at our church meeting.

Monday, December 13, 2010


December2010 003December2010 002We got to do a couple of neat demonstrations to help understand more visually what happens in the different stages of digestion.  First we squished bread in a Ziploc full of water to show how the muscular contractions and fluid in the stomach help to break down food.

December2010 004December2010 005Then we showed how once in the duodenum the gall bladder plays an important part in breaking up fats by adding soap to a oil and water mixture.  We tried it once, and it was difficult to see.  So we did it again after coloring the water green.

We are having a wonderful time with all the fun mini books, experiments and demonstrations.  I continue to be surprised when I read the text and stop to explain or expound on a certain point and return to the text to read the same explanation!  

Sunday, December 12, 2010

More puppy than House

I love our new pup. She is adorable! But she is also all puppy. I don’t feel like I can keep up with her energy, and our two year old Beagle certainly can’t! The puppy is always up for a wrestle, and she is such a little sister. She nips at the dog’s ears, barks, runs away and turns to see who is chasing. Often, poor thing, it is no one.

She tears around the place having a ball and is utterly confused when she gets in trouble. Toilet paper is a favorite, but she won’t refuse to play with anything she finds in a trash can. Shoes are good, too. An occasional finger isn’t bad either.

It is so difficult yelling at her because she is ridiculously adorable. I hear myself saying things like, “No, bad dog. Don’t do that! Man! You’re cute!” I figure if I still sound angry, it’s ok, right?
November late 2010 007
Isn’t she sweet? I’m rather fond of the one with whom she is snuggling, as well!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Tree Lighting

November and December 2010 008

I got to take my kids to the Christmas tree lighting this year.  It is the first time we have ever gone, and I am a little ashamed it took so long to do it.  There is a parade, dancing, the tree lighting and fireworks! 

You know what I thought of the whole time?  Groundhog Day—you know, the movie with Andie McDowell and Bill Murray?  They go to Punxsutawney, Pa to film the groundhog coming out to see if there is a shadow.  The place is quintessential small town.  A big deal out of nothing, but everyone having a great time.  That is how it was at the tree lighting.  Everyone was bundled in cheerful winter clothes.  People were smiling, excited, and moving the the music blaring over the loud speaker.  There were prizes for the floats in the parades, businesses giving away free things…

November and December 2010 034November and December 2010 019And then of course, my gal did a tap dance.  She enjoys dancing so much, she wears a grin the whole time.  I am blessed!

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Not only do I have serious daddy issues, but I have a sack of mommy issues, too.  I read somewhere that great bloggers never say mean things about people in their posts, but they are real about struggles.  In this post, I mean no disrespect to anyone, but I am certainly struggling.

Generally I think there is wisdom in the notion that if one puts oneself in another's shoes, one can find deeper understanding. Ironically, I am discovering quite the opposite to be true when I try to relate to or understand my mom.

The problem is silly, and not at all about what it seems on the surface.  I just had a fundraiser for our homeschool group. I asked twice that she buy cookie dough to help us afford the activities planned for winter and spring. I was utterly ignored. I didn't like it, but wasn't too upset or surprised until one evening lying in bed with my own daughter.  This wasn’t about money.

I couldn't fathom ignoring a request from her when she was grown. I can imagine being strapped for cash--I have a difficult time imagining anything else--but even If I couldn't afford to spare a penny, I would respond to the request.
It is only after imagining myself as a mom of adult children and as a grandma that I was so very hurt and confused by my own mother's inaction. 

In fact, the phrase running through my mind all that evening was, 'who could love her if even her own mother doesn't.'. I didn’t care to get money out of my mom.  I just wanted to know she was there, that she was proud and that she would support me and her grandchildren in any way she could.  I miss the idea of grandparents thinking the world of their grandchildren. 

I am 36 years old and the apathy and disapproval with which my parents have treated me still hurts. I pray my relationship with my kids never causes them such heartache and self doubt.
I feel that is all I can do at this point: look forward.  Try to be better for my kids.  Learn how it feels on this end, so that when I am on the other side I won’t forget that we never stop needing our parents, we never stop being their babies.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I picture a big pool filled with playful swimmers.  Do I wander about, staying alert to those in the pool in case of emergency, watching those out of the pool for opportunities to chat or help?  Maybe I get in the water, but I use the steps, move slowly, so that I can maintain an alert countenance.  I know I want to be responsible.  But I don’t know how.  Where is the best place to be?  It is so hard to know, especially when everyone else seems to be diving in head first.

I look about and realize I am the only person outside the pool.  How did that happen?  I’d assumed there was an understanding between just a few of us that we would abstain from the play so we could be lifeguards, gofers, and ‘accessible.’  But I guess that is what I get for assuming.  Am I wrong?  Should I dive in, too?  Or now MUST I stay out, as the ONLY one left?  I don’t know…But, man, it is cold and lonely up here alone.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

First and the Best

Do I always give Him my best?  That is an easy-answer no.  I want to, but I get lazy and selfish.  I coast.  I give my sacrifices as it is convenient to me, when I see fit.  It’s awful.

I have been taught, and I have done the teaching, that the list of priorities by which we should live is God, Family, Ministry, then all the rest.  That seems simple enough.  I am not sure if this list is even in the right order, but even if it were that simple, it isn’t easy to reflect this order of priority in my time and money. 

And the issue doesn’t stay simple for very long.  How do you categorize certain activities?  Is church a God thing or a Ministry things?  Or, maybe it is a Family thing?  Once you are married, the question of which family is supposed to be the priority can even become a point of contention.  And how do you show God priority?  Is it only about prayer and devotions?  Or does it include service to those in and out of the church?

Then things are further complicated when contemplating how to express priority.  Is it always about time and money?  Let’s face it, when the kids are young, diapers aren’t actually more important than God, but if you clocked my days, my protests wouldn’t have held much water.  So sometimes we fall victim to the urgent.  Things often just need to be handled now, and the true priorities are pushed aside yet again. 

We haven’t even begun to talk about habit or complacency.  I got pretty used to the activities of changing diapers, picking up toys and nursing taking up a hefty portion of the day.  When the tyranny of these demands lessen, I didn’t always notice.  I mindlessly filled the time with further nonsense.

And God gets stuck with the leftovers.  I don’t like leftovers much.  I don’t like getting stuck with the dregs because all the good stuff has been spent on ashes.  I can only imagine how the Lord sees my excuses as I come to him wasted and frantic.  I don’t mean to say that He won’t take us anyway we come to Him.  I can’t think of a better thing to do than to go to the Lord when wasted and frantic.  But do I merely SAY God comes first and then only go to Him after I have finished all the obligations?  Am I Cain? 

I don’t want to be.  I try to order my days and weeks to protect myself against business and commitments that would prevent me from serving Him with my firsts.  I try to not obligate myself to give favor to activities that may be great fun, but necessarily prevent me from being open to the people the Lord may call upon me to serve.  The begins the second-guessing.  Maybe by not being involved in the popular activities, I am missing out on opportunities for ministry?

It is dizzying trying to be good, and I know it shouldn’t be.  It is simple.  Where is my heart?  I have to let God take care of the rest.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Cain and Abel

My kids and I were studying in Genesis when Cain murdered Abel.  The question of why God rejected Cain’s sacrifice always seems to come first when reading these passages.   Just about every explanation that I have heard has to do with the hearts of these brothers.  One was pleasing to the Lord, one not.  The book we are using right now for school focused on Genesis 4:3, which says, ‘In time, Cain brought an offering.’  Depending on the translation, that phrase, ‘in time’ can appear to mean one of a couple of things.

It could mean that once the boys grew up; it shows the significant passage of time that brings the brothers into an age of accountability.  Or, and this is the meaning our study guide suggests, it refers specifically to Cain and in contrast to Abel.  Cain, in time, brought an offering while Abel brought his first and best as an offering.  The implication of this translation choice is that Abel put the Lord first, came to him in a timely manner with the best of the best to offer.  Cain, on the other hand, gave a sacrifice when he got around to it, as it was convenient to himself.  The Lord was not first.  As a result, Abel’s offering was accepted and his brother’s rejected.

God is so good and faithful, we can count on it always coming down to the heart with Him.  Two people can do the same thing, and the Lord sees right through their actions and knows the Truth.  He knows our priorities, our first loves and He knows when we are merely giving lip-service to piety while living for ourselves.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

JJ Heller

Man, I really like this artist.  Her style is breathy and poetic, which isn’t always my style.  But her words so often speak my heart.  The first song of hers I heard was actually in an audition on So You Think You Can Dance.  It was just a snippet, but it captured me and I never forgot it. 

One day during summer I browsed you tube for more of her work.  I found this piece.  It brings to mind the images from Eustace the dragon from CS Lewis’ Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  It is so honest and vulnerable.

The other song that has stuck with me is this.  Being so undeserving of love, and yet needing it so desperately, God knows our sorry state.

There are many more.  If you have time, do some traveling through her music.  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

“That Makes me Feel So Special”

I have been struggling with my self-esteem, for lack of a better term.  I evaluate how important people in my life treat me and relate to me and am left wanting.  As a result, I hear myself wondering what I am worth, considering how unworthy I am to these people.  It is a rough patch and I need to remember that I am quite valuable to the One Who made me and gave His Son for me.  It isn’t always easy for that to be enough—which is shaming to admit.

Anyhow, in an act of rebellion and to recapture myself, I wrote to my sister that I was rejecting some relationships that were playing with my mind.  I said I might put an ad in the paper looking for people who would love my kids and dote on them properly. 

She volunteered for the position. 


When I get my head screwed on right, I know how very blessed I am.  I have two fantastic sisters and a husband who love me just as I am.  They make time for me and care enough to celebrate or lament, as the situation dictates.  I truly am blessed beyond the curse!


I try to keep the darker part of these struggles from my children.  I share the lessons and affirmations, but not so much the discouragement or disillusionment.  So these last few days have been private.

My daughter has been playing with a doll she named after my sister.  My son hadn’t known the name choice was on purpose, so when he heard the doll’s name, he commented that it reminded him of their aunt.  She affirmed that it was on purpose.  Listening to their conversation prompted me to tell them how much she loves them.

I almost slipped the entirety of the conversation, but adjusted it to just say that she loves them very, very much, and wished she lived closer so she could spend more time with them.  I told them that if not for her, I wouldn’t even have a blog.  She set this up for me so that she could keep up on their lives.

Both just stared in awe as I spoke.  Finally my daughter said, “That makes me feel so special!”  Isn’t that great?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Refocused Christmas

We had a great church meeting the other day.  A friend has a truly burdened heart for the poor this season.  The commercialism contrasted by starving children has her disillusioned.  The calls to stock up to protect ourselves from inflation has her thinking of Matthew 6, where Jesus tells us to not worry about what we will wear or eat.  And the passage also has her wondering if the Lord really does provide us with food, if people really are starving.
I am so thankful for these hard questions, this meat to consider at a time when it is especially easy to get caught up in the candy of the month.  Thinking about the things from this evening and taking into account our own financial state has helped us to make a decision regarding how we will observe Advent.
We already have our decorations up.  I found a cool document about Christmas traditions and their origins with activities to supplement the history lessons.  We also have an already set tradition of reading advent books by  Arnold Ytreeide, and we will continue that today.
So the plan is to engage in activities, service, traditions and skip the gifts this year.  My sister has always talked about holding off on the gift giving until January 6, when we celebrate the wise men coming and bringing gifts for Christ, so I feel that this is a long time coming.
It will be different, but I pray it will light fires in us to seek His face more.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Please?? I will take the best care of it!

00262963What does she want?  A kitten?  Yet another puppy?  Maybe something more manageable like a hamster or parakeet?  Nope.  She wants a seal.  She says that they will sleep together in the same bed together and that she would love her and take care of her so very well that I wouldn’t have to worry about a thing.

My more practically minded son has a better grasp on size, food and poop, which I appreciate.  He even reminds her that they eat penguins—a collective favorite animal in my home.   But she will not be dissuaded.  As a last plea, she offers to make it an outside pet.

What do you think?  Should I get a seal?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I don’t want to know

Have you ever wanted to un-learn something?  To unring the proverbial bell?  To turn off the lights and blot all the images from your memory?  That impossibility can be heartbreaking, a heavy burden.
I always thought knowledge was a good thing.  Growth, maturity, enlightenment are all things after which we are taught to strive—for which we even ought to sacrifice!  We pay to go to University and to seminars because it is worth the money, right?
But what do I do when I feel that my knowledge stops me from living in a carefree manner?  Or it puts such a desperate longing in me that I struggle with discontent?  That little tidbit of information would be worth knowing, because I sure don’t know the answer.
This is a silly comparison, but I think about the movie Men in Black, and how Will Smith’s character had to see the world a whole new way when he learned that aliens not only exits, but multitudes of them live among us.  Conversely, at the end of the movie, in order for Tommy Lee Jones’ character to live ‘happily ever after,’ he must be plunged back into ignorance.  Is it really bliss?  Can we only exist blithely with out eyes closed?
The very idea is offensive to me.  The Truth will set us free.  Unrest’s root is found in twisted thinking, i.e. lies.  Right?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Am I totally out of the loop?

Is that good or bad? We, as Christians, are supposed to be holy, sojourners, set apart. But if we are so different that we can’t relate, what good are we doing to the world?
This YouTube video of the top 20 Christmas songs blew me away. I’d heard of most of them, I guess I am happy to say, and even like most of them. But I was really surprised that the songs listed below were not on the list at all. I realize that non-Christians get into Christmas, but I hadn’t realized that the Christian Christmas songs were wholly irrelevant to them.

O Holy Night
Silent Night
Joy to the World
The First Noel
We Three Kings

UPDATE: Joy!! I found this!!
Apparently it was requested that the author of the first video to make a 'religious' list. He says that this was tough, because he had to leave off some classics. But I can't help but point out that the secular list is a top twenty list, and this is only top ten. Can't he have made a top twenty and included what he considered classics??
I’m sad to see that the songs are held as separate, though...Is one group not on par with the other to mingle them?? OH, I really enjoyed both these videos, but I am feeling a little feisty--or fussy--about them, too! I like that some of the songs I originally listed were on this one.

What Child is This
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Away in a Manger
O Come all ye Faithful
It came upon the midnight clear
Hark the Angels
O Holy Night
Joy to the World
Silent Night
Pretty pictures in this one, too.

Monday, November 29, 2010

I am SET!

There had been all this chatter on my homeschool group about the possibility of grocery costs shooting up soon, so I went ahead and did some stocking up.  Since we moved here 11 years ago, I have habitually worked on our ‘pantry’ of supplies.  We lose power often. We regularly are unable to get to the store because of a single car and overtime.  Then the pay cuts and threats of minimum wage serve as pretty good motivation to have some backup.

But sometimes those very reasons stand in the way of keeping the pantry stocked.  So, we were dwindling, and there isn’t a lot of money right now.  But I went ahead and got a stash of food.  Now I feel ready for a party!!  Well, it wouldn’t be a super cool party.  We would serve orange juice, oatmeal and spaghetti, but I do have some delicious cocoa and cappuccino! 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

This emotional life

The other night my daughter was begging for some Mommy and Me time. I am ashamed that I often put off these times of quiet togetherness because of random busy-ness. Thankfully, we did get that time together.

While laying in bed, we began to wrestle. I hurt her and she began crying—man! There are few things that make me feel smaller than making a little kid cry!! I held her and said that I was sorry. She responded that she knew and didn’t know why she was crying, and had tried to hold it back. Ah!

I told her to go ahead and cry, and I understood the need to just cry. She said that she used to be tough, and never needed to cry. She’s right. Even as a baby and toddler she only cried when angry. If I disciplined her, she was indignant rather than remorseful. I used to worry about her, frankly.

But she explained that now she felt everything so much more than before—anger, jealousy, sadness and happiness. And on top of that, she was dealing with the wonder of all these feelings as though they themselves were new. She said that she even gets shyer now, and embarrassed when her daddy dances with her in front of people. I had to laugh.

We are embarking on an emotional journey for the next few years. I am thankful that I have a relationship with my girl that we can actually talk it out. I am thankful that embarrassment doesn’t translate into disrespect, jealousy gives way to understanding and compassion, and rage dissolves into repentant tears.

I know how my husband and I act and react to her in the coming years will play such a big part in how she sees herself, how she regains control over emotionalism and the degree to which she will trust and depend on us. I pray I am responsive enough to make time for Mommy and Me, intuitive enough to recognize the root of problems, and patient enough to bear whatever she throws our way.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I support you! While I undermine your efforts…

For Thanksgiving, we were having some dear friends come over. My husband very much wanted to be here, so he decided that he would go in to work at 3:00 am. That would get him off work at 11:am and ineligible for being held to work another overtime shift.

In anticipation of the early morning, he went to bed early. I played with the kids a while, then sent them to bed. I stayed up longer to work on Christmas cards—December has a way of flying by before I get to the cards, so I am getting them out before the month even begins! I got lost in what I was doing for a while and suddenly the noise of the kids registered with me—as did the noise of the master bathroom. Shoot! Both the kids and my husband were still awake! I wonder if one had something to do with the other.

I went back to tell kids lights out, and stayed out my own bedroom, hoping the quiet would induce sleep for my husband, for whom the number of hours available for sleeping was dwindling. By then it was almost 11 pm. He had to get up at 2 to be to work at 3. I decided I would just stay out in the living room until 2 so that his sleep would be undisturbed.

But then 2pm came and went. I listened for the shower or any other clue that he was getting ready. The clock ticked as I reasoned that perhaps we was forgoing breakfast for sleep. More time passed and I thought the shower must be less important than a few more winks. Finally it was almost 2:30; he has a solid twenty minute commute, plus the time to walk to his post, relieve his watch and sign in. I thought maybe he slept through the alarm and I went to the room. I woke him up and asked if he was going in at three this morning.

He said, ‘No, I decided to wait until 4:00.’ Oh!! I felt like a heel! All my planning to leave him alone to get as much sleep as possible were undone with me waking him less than an hour before his alarm. Geez!

Friday, November 26, 2010

That was a fan-freakin-tastic Thanksgiving

I had such a great day! We hosted, but didn’t make the turkey, and that may be one key to a brilliant holiday. We got the place presentable, made mashed potatoes, yams, pea salad, rolls and drinks. Our friends made the turkey, dressing, green bean casserole, pies, relish tray and drinks… Hmmm… I think they may’ve made more than that—gravy, for sure.

Oh, well…maybe the key is to make your friends do all the work! Try that. Maybe you will have the awesome Thanksgiving that I did! Don’t worry, I will feel guilty about writing that tomorrow. For now, I am full, tired, and wonderfully happy.

We played a couple of games, they give love to our kids and pups, we had conversations that range from eternal to ridiculously frivolous with seamless transitions.

God bless!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

May the Lord bless you and keep you.  May the Lord shine His face upon you and give you peace forever!  Amen

This is one of my most favorite blessings.  If flows from me so fluidly and automatically.  It is simple and beautiful and I pray it for my family, friends and readers.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I haven’t blown anything up for a while!

When I heard these words come out of my mouth, even I knew it was a pretty lame defense against my older sister’s accusation that electronic appliances and I don’t get along.

My microwave was needing a clean, so I popped in some water with soap.  After a minute or two, the stuff on the walls was still to hard.  So, I set it for longer and turned my back on it to empty the dishwasher.  I got distracted and forgot about the water.  The next thing I know, there was this boom and water was everywhere!  I stood frozen in shock for a moment, staring at the wide open microwave door.  Next the filter at the bottom clattered onto the stove.

Holy cow!  I ushered my curious son out into the snow, and tried to assess the situation.  I slowly and carefully began mopping up water and called my sister to see if she knew whether my microwave was still safe to use. 

I’d forgotten that my dad was visiting her.  He is getting older, so really the only thing I got from him was repeated warnings about the ‘radiation shield’ that would be under the microwave and looks like metal mesh falling off.  Honestly, I was a little disappointed.

So, I do have a history with kitchen appliances that is a little sketchy.  But my sister got online and I am apparently not the only one whose blown open the microwave with super heated water.  I have learned to include a wooden spoon when heating any liquid!

Everyday is an adventure!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Kids’ Thankful List

The boy:

I am thankful for my sister and how we get to play together.

The girl:

I am thankful for Ava, and that Bailey and Ava have so much fun together.

The boy:

I am thankful that Daddy doesn’t have to work overtime too often.

The girl:

I am thankful for our toys. We may not have very much, but I am still thankful for them. (the stenographer is trying to not choke as she types here)

The boy:

I’m thankful for our family and the time that we get to spend together during lunch time and school.

The girl:

I’m thankful for a nice home.

The boy:

I’m thankful for all the things that we have like my Legos and the snow gear that we have so that we can play outside in the snow.

The girl:

For my amazing scrapbooking stuff.

The boy:

That Madi does get to do all her creative girl stuff.

The girl:

Well, I’m happy that I have three dances a week and also that we have such a happy and peaceful family and life.

The boy:

Have I said dogs yet? Ok, Dogs.

Monday, November 22, 2010

That’s what I’m talking about!

Heehee!  The snow is here!  We went out for a snowball fight, snow angle making and we tried a snowman, but the snow wasn’t quite right for that.  Both puppies were out with us, dodging poorly aimed snowballs and dipping their noses in the white stuff.

Then we came in for oatmeal and hot cocoa.  Ain’t life grand?

November late 2010 018

Puppies and kids resting and cuddling with warm blankets and hot chocolate in snowmen mugs (for the two legged kids) before another foray outside.

snuggle puppies 002 Sweet!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Snow, snow, snow, snow!

The first snow of the season is here!!!  I just can’t NOT sing the fun song from White Christmas that begins with the title of this post.  Such a great movie with terrific songs!

I truly do love the snow.  I feel guilty about loving it because so many ladies up here suffer from near-depression symptoms because of it.  It seems worse than insensitive to revel in the wonder of the season when I know others are gritting their teeth for a long couple of months. 

But then, I survive wretched summer after summer.   And it is good to celebrate the beauty we see.  So, I will just revel here—privately, as the case may be.

Snow is magical to me.  I love how bright the night is because of all the reflected light.  I get caught up in the falling flakes when I stand and look straight up.  It is like being in a star-storm, with shooting stars all around.  The softness with which snow falls is so very peaceful to me, too.  White stuff can cover the land, and not make a sound.  It makes the dusty tired brown landscape instantly clean and pure.  Snow can simultaneously be vast in its scope—smoothing the land all the way to the mountains--while insulating and making cozy my small world.

I really delight in snow!  But we can keep the depths of my joy secret for only here, ok?

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Another first!

For the first time ever we left our kids home alone.  I am not sure what the law says about this, but I used to watch my baby sister when I was in first and second grade.  Not ideal, but I figure six and fourth graders can probably stay home a couple of hours with relative safety.  I mean, their public school counterparts are likely coming home from school to empty houses, right?

Anyhow, we thought our kids would do pretty well, so my husband and I went on a much, much, much needed date.  They did very well.  They called several times, which I appreciated as evidence that they would ask for help if a problem arose.  They got along and didn’t destroy anything, so I think we have success and a viable option for the occasional day-date when we need one.

I must confess that during the writing of this post, I had to go finish a puppy-poo clean-up that happened while we were out.  I hadn’t realized that the fact that it is I who usually cleans would prevent my kids from knowing what it mean to clean up puppy-poo.  They thought that you spray it, cover it with a towel and walk away.  Then I guess the carpet would magically de-poo itself.  Yeah, well, that would certainly be nice!

Maybe my kids would think I am pretty neat if they knew just what I do!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Check out what my sis has done

I am so proud of what my little sister can do!  She just popped out a bunch of designs for our homeschool group.  We have a store where you can purchase her works of art!

bagRun over to our store to see our new products and designs!! There are more designs in the works, too, so check back often. Remember that if you see a product you like or a design you like, we can put those together for you! Just email with the design and product description of your choice, and we will notify you when that item is ready for purchase.  onsie

When you shop at our store, we get a percentage of the profits. When you shop at our store through iGive, we get even more, at no cost to you!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

It’s Official!

We have a new family member!   Ava Marie is our new little Beagle puppy.  Some friends were unable to keep their sweet dog because of allergies and coyotes, so we have had her for a week to see if she would fit into our family.  She is cuddly as all get out, and is wearing out our two year old Beagle with all the play. 
In fact, I think they wore each other out the first day!!  The second or third day that we had Ava, both dogs were so sluggish I because worried that they’d made each other sick!  they are bouncing back, gaining stamina and becoming good friends.early November 2010 006 early November 2010 010

Group training!
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Sweetie girls
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How can such a little thing  take up so many couch cushions??
Mid-November 2010 003 Two doggies, wiped out from play

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Happy First

Mid-November 2010 005Reading hasn’t come easily to my little girl.  We have struggled with dyslexia, lack of interest and, most recently, headaches and fuzzy words.  We got her into the optometrist and discovered she needs reading glasses.  (I am trying and failing to suspect we could have picked some up at the drug store rather than pay the $100 the doctor charged.)Mid-November 2010 004

Anyhow, we picked up the glasses yesterday and she was just beside herself with excitement, showing anyone and everyone.  When we got home, she was quick to grab a book with small print to test out the new specs.  So far so good! 

The neat thing happened this morning, when I came into the living room to see my girl reading a book!  THAT has never happened before!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

“Old Mom” ??

Each day we begin by praying. We pray for whomever may be on our hearts, but we also use a list of friends and family so that we pray for them regularly. Today we were praying for my mom and her family. It was nice because today is her late mom’s birthday and her brother’s birthday was a few days ago. I began by telling the kids it is my grandma’s birthday and I told them a little more about her. I said I wanted to thank God for her. Then I looked to the list and saw for whom we’d be praying and let the kids know how cool the timing was.

Because of my parents’ divorce and subsequent remarriages, my kids have three sets of grands. In order to clarify, my daughter said, ‘so we are praying for your old mom, right?’ What? I tried not to laugh as I asked questions to figure out her thinking. Finally I asked, “So, if Daddy leaves me and marries someone new, you would call me Old Mom??” We never talk about divorce, and I would not normally suggest such a possibility so blithely, but I felt the need to make this more concrete for her. Her answer? Yes. Yes!?

No! I will always be just Mom. My mom is my mom. Booger.

Monday, November 15, 2010


I am not intentionally doing sequential posts on sweets, but sometimes these things happen!  Blessedly!

A while ago on Facebook my sister shared a link to Korean recipes.  One was for hoddeok.  It is basically a pan-fried whole doughnut with a brown sugar and cinnamon filling that melts during the frying into a syrup.  Hooked yet?  It was very easy to prepare.  It just took a little planning, since you need to have the dough rise for about 1.5 hours.

Even though my darling husband loves so much of Korean food, he can’t seem to forgive the Kim Chee and Kojujang, so he is often wary of any new recipe.  I made these and gave first to the kids and then asked if he would like to try one.  He gamely agreed—but gamely, like he was doing me a favor.  Thankfully the hoddeok passed muster, so its name was shouted to the rafters for about an hour.  That is high praise—literally! 

Hoddeok is a hit!

Sunday, November 14, 2010


early November 2010 012We have been making great meals together for a while now.  The kids have been choosing them and then following the recipes on their own.  Yesterday was our final Australia day, and instead of lunch we made a traditional Australian dessert called Lamingtons.  It is a spongy cake dipped in chocolate frosting and rolled in coconut.  Since no one in this house does coconut, we skipped it and didn’t miss it!early November 2010 011

My son made the cake while I made lunch (rice, peas and pot stickers, baby!).  We cut the cooked cake into 16 or so squares and let it cool while we played Scotland Yard—a fun board game where five of London’s finest chase a suspect Mr. X through the city.  After it cooled, my daughter made the frosting and coated the cakes.

We let them set—isn’t that the hardest part?  Then we dove in!  No complaints here!  

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Don’t mind the mess?

Schooling has become something really positive this year.  It took longer than I wanted to find our groove, but I do believe we have found one!  We are playing board games over lunch, making the most of the Adventures assigned by the Eastern Hemisphere Explorer, loving the stories and making our meals together.  I am even relaxing—a little—about the mess that springs up as a result of all the ‘fun’ we have.

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See the insanity??  Laundry, blankets to fight the morning chill, K’nex, counting bears, more math manipulatives, buckets…  It is crazy.  But the atmosphere in our home is joyful, productive and cooperative.  That is worth having to choose your steps carefully, right?  That, and that the kids have become expert cleaners and can clear the living room in ten minutes.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran’s Day

Happy Veteran’s Day!  KidsROCK is in the parade this year, so please come out to give a wave and catch some candy.

May the Lord bless and keep all those who sacrifice themselves to preserve the freedom to choose how we will live—freedom to praise the Lord, freedom to homeschool, freedom to speak our thoughts and freedom to forgive!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Oh, I don’t know what I dislike more than asking others for things, especially money.  When I used to sell Pampered Chef, I lost so much money because I gave gifts, discounts and whatever else I could to my customers.  Even our garage sales had me giving more and charging less!  When I go out to eat, I give large tips to even the worst examples of service.  I pray that they will feel loved and blessed and will be nicer to their future customers—that may be me!  I am fortunate to live in a society with set prices for food and clothes or I would break my family bending over backwards overpaying for everything.

It isn’t because I have the money to burn.  I don’t.  At all.  I just feel this compulsion to give. I’m totally sick!

The compulsion to give doesn’t exactly mesh very well with the need to ask.  In fact, it puts me into some serious Psych 101 cognitive dissonance.  I get the shakes, man! 

Because of my nature, all of our homeschool group’s fundraisers have been designed to save me from having to ask for money.  Did I mention I am a little sick?  Well, I also happen to be the reluctant treasurer for this poor group.  Now we have had to restructure our finances in order to reflect the true costs of running a homeschool support and enrichment group.  Charges for members are going up significantly, and we wanted to offer a means by which they can continue participating in all the activities they choose without breaking their personal budgets.

Whew, I took a long time to get here, didn’t I?  We are now running a traditional fundraiser—collecting money and orders for cookie dough.  I am pleased with the program that we found.  Customers are actually buying an eCoupon card—like a gift card—that they redeem online or over the phone for cookie dough to be delivered directly to their homes.  This expands our customer base beyond traditional geographical bounds.  And the eCoupon does double duty by working as a discount card to several major stores!

So, if you are so inclined, I would be blessed beyond measure if you would head over to our website to order some cookie dough.  We have a PayPal option, or you can mail your check before November 30.  The fundraiser ends December 2.  All the information is there, including the six yummy-sounding flavors.  You can type in my name, Kalbach, or you can leave the field blank or type in KidsROCK and the money will go to either of those accounts.

Thanks!  I am going to go take some deep breaths.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Game Time

00300569 I love to play games.  Board games, party games, computer games, murder party games, card games…I love at least a few from every style of game play out there.  There was a long stretch of time when we had a monthly game night with friends in the guise of a Pampered Chef Party.  I had a yahoogroups for people who were interested, and I would shoot out an email to let them know the date, theme and sales of the next party.  I would toss the catalogs on a side table, cover the kitchen table in delicious food, kick the kids to my backyard—which had lawn at the time—and the grown-ups would play another round or two of the game du jour.  Awesome!  And we had a crowd, too; seven to 10 families showed up every month with the no show crying on the yahoogroup emails about having to miss.

games Then it stopped.  I started playing with new friends from my homeschooling circle.  It was nice for a while, but began petering out.  Not everyone likes to play games, or only likes a certain type of game.  Kids got bigger and needed more supervision--which I know is true from experience, but the fact still blows my mind.  I mean, why can 15 to 20 kids under the age of seven all play happily and get along, but even fewer of kids between the ages of six and twelve have so many problems?  I don’t get it.  Anyhow, games aren’t as fun when you have to continually be ready to put out the latest fire.


Aging kids does offer another solution, though.  At least on a small scale, I have discovered that I enjoy playing with mine!  They are getting old enough to play by the rules, be capable of winning by those rules, but not mind losing and be able to keep up the general pace.  So cool!  I made my own playmates!!!  Ok, well, God played His part, too, I suppose.  But the point is that I may have some lifelong friends who’ll play with me!