Saturday, March 31, 2012

If you think THAT’S funny…

My daughter walked up to me with a salami slice in front of each eye—after eating a hole out of each middle.  I do believe that the kids do this each and every time that eat salami, so I looked at her and smiled without comment. 

She declared, “If you think THAT”S funny, you should have seen me with a salami nose!”  She turned and ran off to continue making her sandwich.

Did I act like I thought it was funny?  I am pretty sure I didn’t.  Sometimes I think I am just here as a warm body, whose responses are extraneous.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Our morning routine

We have a pretty nice morning routine.  Before I get out of bed I read my Bible and pray.  I get up and get myself ready.  Then I gather laundry and start a load, turn on my computer to play some praise music, gather dishes and wake the kids.  I take the dogs into the front yard, look up at the sky and pray some more.  Finally I settle in front of the sink to tackle dishes while the kids eat.  There isn’t a lot of conversation, but I stop to give hugs or rub a back as I move around the kitchen.  We might talk a little about last night’s dreams or our day’s plans.  When clean dishes are put away and dirty are in the dish washer, I grab my own breakfast and eat while I post on this blog.  The kids finish up their own morning chores before we begin our school day with Bible and prayer.  It is a great way to begin any day for my family.

I hadn’t realized how important some of these elements were to my to getting the day started just right until last Wednesday.  I got up without first reading my Bible.  I went back to bed to read, but just outside my door my whole family was gathered to watch Men In Black II.  That was a little distracting, so I went to my son’s room to read.  But I walked in to see a pile of laundry, including damp towels.  Maybe my daughter’s room would be better.  Nope.  Trash from the rabbit, dirty clothes and clutter on the dresser.  I came back into the family room and announced a 20 minute clean-up.  I went to snuggle back into my own bed to read, now that the movie was paused.  But I never got the day back.  Everything was funky and off the rest of the day.

I don’t want to be that rigid and high maintenance to require a routine to be a normal person.  While I work on that, I praise the Lord once again for this beautiful home.  We began this routine in our old house.  But we didn’t have this great porch for me to pray on in the morning.  I couldn’t wash dishes, listen to softly playing music and be in the company of my kids all at the same time in the old place, either.  I used to do dishes before bed, because the kitchen was just so isolating.  I didn’t like being in there when I was supposed to be with the kids.  Now I go to bed with my husband at night!  Novelty. 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Jesus saves

Jesus save in so many ways and there are many analogies to help us understand that, like the Good Shepherd, the Great Physician and the High Priest.  In Luke 16, we glimpse Him as a Gardener.


And He began telling this parable: "A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. And he said to the vineyard-keeper, 'Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?' And he answered and said to him, 'Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.'" 

Luke 13:6-9


When the ax is ready to remove a fruitless tree, Jesus steps in and says, ‘let me dig around her roots and poor fertilizer around them. If she doesn't bear fruit for another year, then I'll chop it down.’

Jesus strives to give us one last chance, but we may fail to recognize it, since from our point of view, things will be quite uncomfortable. Who wants their roots disturbed? Who wants soil removed to expose the buried parts of oneself? And after that, the final step is to apply fertilizer. We know how good that is for a garden, but would you sign up for having poop applied all around your core? I wouldn't.

But without it, we won't bear fruit. And by 'it,' I mean digging, rousting, removing and exposing. I mean having stinky circumstances that are embarrassing, painful, confusing and life changing. These are the things that wake us up to an eternal perspective and inspire us to work more for the Kingdom than this ashen world.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Picture Portions

On the heels of our discussion on dyslexia the other day—two posts down—we got to talk more broadly about the mistakes we make when we don’t have the full picture.  I had shared with the kids my extreme frustration with Madi when she couldn’t read the word ‘the.’  (Since the telling of that story, I have heard both kids absently imitate a motor with my maniacal ‘the-the-the-the-the-the.’)

When we are dealing with a problem, but don’t have all the information, we can make matters so much worse!  It is important to follow the wisdom of James and be ‘quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.’  It is just no good to jump in before doing all the research or getting all sides of a story.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

500th Post!

This is my 500th blog post to My Adventures At Home!  That is pretty cool!  I was searching for a particular post the other day and realized my titles are pretty unhelpful, which is why I read virtually all of the posts on the blog.  I have to say 2010 was a pretty rockin’ year! 

I thank my sister for insisting that I start blogging.  This process has been a real blessing to me.  Not every post is all that great and I flinch when I read my own spelling and grammatical errors, but the discipline of writing for each day has given me a history worth remembering.  I have used this site to work out my ideas, vent my frustrations and share delight in my family and little life. 

Thanks for joining me on my adventures.

Monday, March 26, 2012


The kids and I talked for hours yesterday morning about all manner of things.  It was a real treat to have that time with them.  At some point I started sharing how difficult it was to teach Madi how to read.  I thought I had taught Max, so I wasn’t anticipating any problems.  I am now convinced that Max taught himself to read.  Even when I began to suspect Madi was dyslexic, I was undaunted.  Max was, too—and so am I!  No problem.  Well, guess what.  Problems!  Everywhere.

I told Madi how ashamed I am now of how frustrated I got with her.  If you look at her old readers, the word ‘the’ is circled in increasingly darkening pencil as you move down any given page.  The girl simply could not read that word.  And it comes up so blessedly often!  It didn’t matter to her, though.  She just couldn’t get that word.  I was beside myself.  I would chant like a helicopter motor, “the, the, the, the, the, the.”  I mean, even if she couldn’t read it, she could memorize it, right?

All to His glory, a lady joined the homeschool group who had two severely dyslexic boys and had a plethora of materials to share with me.  She was an angel to our family, I must say.  In the bags of things she gave me was a book called The Gift of Dyslexia. I am not ashamed to say I read that book with the same excitement that I read the Gospels.  I called up my sisters with these unending ‘ah-ha’ moments.  My poor husband was probably not so pleased that he was less than a phone call away while I was reading that book.

I learned about how the mind of a dyslexic works in that book.  I also learned, to my deep purple shame, that it is exactly words like ‘the’ (which have no corresponding mental image) that stump the dyslexic.  Oh, Earth, just open and swallow me, why don’t you?  Talk about Bad Mom of the Year Award!

We took an entire year off from reading and did all sorts of activities recommended in the book to help Madi train her mental eye and develop helpful mental images for words that do not traditionally come with one.  We played with clay to make letters and practiced ‘parking’ the mind’s eye where she wanted it to be. 

Now I have a girl who is finally a ‘reader’—after a solid six years of striving.  I am proud of my little fighter-girl and it was fun telling her my ‘the-the-the-the-the’ story.  Thank God she doesn’t actually remember it!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Teenagers—Guest Writer

There is someone dear to me who has been going through a heartbreaking trial for the last several months.  While it wasn’t the ending they were seeking, the situation is now resolved and the family has a sense of closure and can move forward.  As they process all that happened, she shared some of her ruminations with me.


We have been talking a lot about rebellious natures in our house lately. I was given a picture of Eve: The very sins she was guilty of and that we have since been born to do, seems to be amplified in teenagedom. As I think over the attitude of teenagers, it seems so preposterous and irrational until I wrote it all down and saw something very familiar.

I will accept/expect the home you give me, the food you prepare for me, the utilities you pay for that keep me comfortable. But I will make my own choices about what I should do. I will determine for myself what I find right and wrong. I will direct my own steps for my own life. You have set rules for my benefit, I will choose when, where, how and if I will obey.

P.S. I will also expect you to bail me out of the trouble I get into.

I will accept the sunshine, the air I breath, the environment that keeps me comfortable, the ability to use my arms and legs, the ability to eat and drink. I will not only accept it I will expect it and resent YOU if I don't have it. I will expect/accept it without feeling any obligation to show gratitude or servitude. You owe it to me. I know you have given me laws to live by to keep me safe, I will chose when, where, how, and if I will follow You. I am under no obligation. I want to be in control over my own destiny, the "master of my own domain" (we even named web pages after our desires)

I think teenagers are Gods way of showing us a mirror.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

God is like a car?

Yesterday we were discussing evangelism, which quickly led to the names and persons of God.  Madi said she sometimes gets confused by all the names of God.  Why do we use so many names for Him?  She listed God, Jesus, Lord, Holy Spirit (in that order), Father, Brother, Son, Friend, Helper, Defender.  So we talked about it.

We discussed what each name meant, like Lord means boss and Father is the caring one who brings you to life.  The Holy Spirit gives gifts and helps grow fruit and an Advocate stands up for us, speaking on our behalf.  God does all of these things.  Some words refer to the personhood of God, while others describe roles or actions of God.

Finally we summed it up by comparing God to a car.   No one says, “Hey, I just bought a seatbelt, some tires, a steering wheel, trunk and engine!”  We just say, “I bought a car.”  We know when someone says that, they now have all those things plus mirrors, brake pedal and seats—at least we hope so!

But when it comes to God, there is no single word that conveys all of His aspects and parts, so we have to list them.  It can get a little confusing, so it helps to remember that they are all parts of one amazing uncontainable whole.

Friday, March 23, 2012

National Goof Off Day

Goof Off EggsYesterday was National Goof Off Day, did you know?  I had a vague idea when I woke up to do something with the kids in honor of the day, but hadn’t given it much thought.  I did mention it to Max as he was making his breakfast, though.  We did morning school stuff, then I went to Bible study.

I was a little later than usual getting home, so I got a text from Max asking where I was, and that Madi was waiting on the porch for me.  I was eager to see what she wanted, but it was still another good 20-25 minutes before we pulled into the drive.  

My friend brought me home and we were laughing as I got out of the car.  I was startled to turn around and see my two kids bouncing with excitement.  My kids have never met me in the driveway before, so even after the shock I was feeling a little perplexed by their presence.  They announced that there was a surprise was waiting for me. 

Madi's orange iceI followed them inside after saying goodbye to my friend, and noticed Madi’s pants ties were trailing after her.  I said, “Oh, no, Madi.  It looks like you’ve grown tails.”  She laughed and said it was National Goof Off Day so her clothes were on backward.  I was just tickled.  She should really be in charge of our special days.  Her eagerness and playfulness is such a blessing to our boring family.Madi's tails

I came in to see one of the dining chairs laden with pillows as a throne for me.  I sat (after greeting the dogs-who-will-not-be-ignored) and she placed before me a plate wrapped in tin foil.  She removed it with a flourish to reveal a most colorful dish of food.  She had made me fried eggs dyed green and blue—with still some white and yellow showing.  It was a sight to behold.  It was even still warm!  I flipped my shirt backwards and inside out, then dug in to a delicious lunch. (Dinner sported pink milk.)

Max told me how he had walked into the school room to look up the lyrics to Fur Elise (his contribution to Goof Off Day), and found the computer on with a favorite game running—and his own stuffed animals playing it.  This was Madi’s ‘trick’ for him.  For Daddy, she made orange ice cubes. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Talking over “The Help”

I watched the movie “The Help” with my daughter the other night.  We’ve seen it before, so we just snuggled in as thought to enjoy old friends.  When the movie ended, Madi said that she really likes the movie, but can’t help crying every time she sees the ending.  I wiped a tear of my own in agreement.

Different things this week have prompted Madi to express a desperate consternation over why people do mean or bad things.  Watching the movie made her ask again, “Why is Hilly so mean?”  She wants to understand.  I give her all the pat answers—free choice, we are all prideful, people who have been hurt often cause pain, we cannot love out of ourselves.  None of these suffice.  I suggest maybe Hilly’s mom wasn’t loving, like Baby Girl’s.  Madi counters that at least Baby Girl had a loving maid.  Didn’t Hilly at least have a loving maid?  I don’t know!!  I tell her that some people truly don’t grow up with enough love to be able to give it to others. 

Finally I tell her that there is a lot in this world to know, and we just can’t know it all.  Because of that, we have to choose what we will work to understand, and I frankly prefer she focus on the things that are good and lovely and pleasing to God.  While I want her to know that there is evil and people do bad things, I don’t want her to have an intimate understanding of the whys and wherefores.  She isn’t pleased with this.  She still wants to understand.

We continue to discuss and explore, with her leading.  At one point she sighed and said, “Sometimes I just want to skip earth life.  Just die and go to heaven.”  Oh, how I can relate to that particular sentiment!  I think she was surprised by my agreement.  I could almost hear her thinking, ‘then what are we waiting for?!’  I quickly said that God will take us when He wants us.  If we are still living, there is a reason and we must be ready to serve where God wants us and trust that we will enter heaven in His perfect timing and we can’t presume to know better than He does. 

I told her that while we are here, things will be tough sometimes.  I actually started crying and just held this precious princess, aching over the pains she will inevitably experience in this life.  I want to keep her soft and relatively unblemished.  I told her that she will be tempted to get hard, because the hurting is so painful.  It is hard to tell your kid to allow herself to be hurt innumerable times.

As she listened, she said that she saw a picture.  There was this sweet soft bunny, just perfect for cuddling and snuggling.  He was playful, but had no protection against hurt.  He didn’t like being hurt, so he crawled into the shell of a turtle.  Now he was safe, but no longer able to receive tender cuddling and no one wanted to snuggle him.  He was mean and cranky.  She concluded with, “I want to be a rabbit.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


We attended a concert of sorts at our church the other night that featured a visiting speaker and singer.  We enjoyed both his message and the music time.  One thing caught me up short in the moment.  We were singing the song, “I Surrender All.”  I attached a link to a YouTube video at the bottom—holy cow that took me longer than I expected.  There are many versions on YouTube, most much slower than I prefer.  The one I chose is closer to the tempo I like, but it is part of a longer clip and I didn’t watch the whole thing, so… there you go.Surrender

Anyhow, the singer at church was leading us all in this song and at one point asked what was the physical position of surrender.  He suggested that we assume the hands-up pose if we meant the words we were singing.  I understand the importance of conforming our bodies to what our hearts and spirits express, so the request was perfectly ‘kosher’ in my mind. 

The night before we had watched a James Bond movie.  I couldn’t help but picture certain scenes from the show after the song leader made that comment.  Especially in spy movies, we can see that there are times when strategy dictates a temporary surrender until an opportunity for escape presents itself. So, even though Mr. Bond raises his hands and allows for his own capture, you can see the wheels turning behind his eyes as he calculates his escape and plans to leave behind any destruction he can muster.

That got me to wondering…  Do I ever surrender with this double-mindedness to God?  When I conform my body into positions of worship, is my mind busy elsewhere?  I wonder how often I pray for Him to reveal wisdom to me while simultaneously figuring out how I am going to handle the situation my way.  I am going to have to remember the point to raising my hands or kneeling while spending time with our Lord, and pay close attention to be sure I am in unity with my own body.

‘I Surrender’ sung by Mercy Me

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The princess

My daughter is a kick.  I enjoy her company so very much.  She is funny, smart and creative.  She is sweet, shy and sensitive. 

Madi is my struggling learner.  Many kids tend to be strong in either the maths and sciences or in language.  Thanks to severe dyslexia, she has fought to find her spot in academia.  No help is that her brother excels in all areas.  But just recently we found an animated math program that has her not only excited about mastering math, but ambitious!  This is new to us and we are reveling in her perseverance. 

Writing has not come easily to her, either.  Then out of the blue, she declared that she was going to write a musical.  I tend to respond to these sorts of things with reserved encouragement.  I like for the kids to explore and have fun without too much pressure when they endeavor to tackle projects on their own.  Well, what do you know?  That girl finished a 12 page play, complete with music and humor about Romeo and Juliet—with a mouse as narrator!!  I am so stinking proud of her!  That is not all.  She has made the rounds and recruited people to be in the play and has spent the last several days on the scenery and props.  This girl is attacking this project and now Brian and I are going to have to figure out a way to help her pull this off!  Yikes…

Along with her newfound success in the traditional academic world, she continues to flourish in the lesser acclaimed fields.  Why, just the other night she announced a new talent.  Her exact words were these: “Look, Daddy!  I can lick my chest!”  Then she proceeded to do so.  While a little distressing, it is also a remarkably impressive.  You try it.

She also helped clarify a little mix-up we were apparently having with her.  Over dinner last night, she was talking non-stop.  Brian suggested she should probably have spent some time at the park, seeing as how she was so full of energy.  She patiently explained that there were two types of energy.  One was in the body and it makes you bouncy and wild.  The other is only in the mouth and it makes you talk and talk and talk and …..  You get the idea.  Apparently, she was only full of mouth energy last night.

Monday, March 19, 2012

James—the kicker

My morning devotions brought me to James just recently.  I like James.  He seems to be a no-nonsense, rubber-meets-the-road kind of guy.  You best not go to him to do any sort of whining.  He just doesn’t take it.  You’re having a hard time?  Consider it PURE JOY.  Money problems?  BE PROUD.  Don’t know what to do?  ASK GOD—and MEAN IT!  Or you are unstable in ALL you do.  Feeling tempted?  Don’t blame God within earshot of this guy!  He’ll have none of it!

This isn’t wimpy spirituality.  Max’s phrase is, “God never said life was going to be rainbows and lollipops!”  You keep your tongue in check, put to work what you believe and persevere through the inevitable trials.  He offers no excuses.  He says our religion is worthless if we don’t mind our words and care for the widows and orphans AND keep ourselves pure.  It is as though he is telling people that they have learned enough and now it is time to step up.  There is a time for talk and there is a time for action.  And that is all in a short chapter one.

Chapter two tells us to treat everyone with love, without discrimination.  We must live with mercy as a constant companion, because we ourselves are most in need of it—seeing as how breaking one little bit of the law constitutes breaking the whole thing!  Boy, do I need mercy!

James brings us again to action.  If you claim to believe, but nothing in your life testifies to your declaration, your faith is dead.  You gotta put it to work!  Knowing the bridge is there isn’t enough.  You must cross it.  Let’s keep moving!

Chapter three jumps right back to the tongue.  This is a pivotal issue for James.  The importance of what we say cannot be overestimated.  For all our achievements, there is still no human who can tame the tongue.  Read verse six: “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.  It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.’’ Whew!  It doesn’t stop there. Verses 9-12 are here:

9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

James encourages us to be aware that there are two sides and we must choose.  There is earthly wisdom, which is really demonic wisdom.  And there is the wisdom from heaven.  We have to stay humble and loving, seeking peace and His will in all we do. We shouldn’t even declare with any certainty our plans for tomorrow.  Remember none of us knows the number of our days!

Everything is wrapped up in the final chapter with final reminders.  Don’t let money corrupt you, persevere with no grumbling when you suffer, be honest in all your words.  Be there for each other.  That means praying, being accountable, rejoicing, mourning, comforting—LIVING in EVERY aspect of life with your brothers and sisters.  Save each other with Christ’s love.

I like James.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dinner and Games

The other day we had a friend invite us over to cook and play games.  Right on the heals of a big cook and fighting a headache that wouldn’t quit, my first impulse was to say no.  Boy, am I glad that I didn’t follow that impulse!  We made egg rolls and fried rice—yummmmmmm!!  Dessert was something that is probably illegal in several states and totally worth breaking the rules. We played a trivia game with the kids.  The kids played on their own and we ladies got a chance to visit.  It was such a treat!

As I sat on the couch eating cookie dough baked into fudge brownie, I listened to the kids talking to one another.  I wanted the moment to freeze.  They were bantering and laughing.  It was warm inside and raining outside.  The baby was charming the socks off of everyone.  Dogs were sweet and undemanding (she has better dogs than I do).  It was perfect.  A perfect moment and I am so thankful that I was aware enough to still myself and breathe it in.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Deal with it

Last year was a rough one.  I got used to knowing that 2011 was a challenge.  The problem with thinking that way is that it put a lot of pressure on 2012.  And here we are, and I have a bad attitude rooted in my unrealistic expectations.  When I was a kid, we used to get spanked for DRAs.  Yep, a Dirty Rotten Attitude was enough for physical correction in my household.  And I am thankful for it, because our attitudes serve as rudders to our lives and truly deserve that level of attention.

I have sure had a DRA this year, indignant that everything hasn’t righted itself after 2011.  My primary frustration is with our finances.  I thought losing our house and working on debt would free us up.  All was supposed to be well by now.  We worked so hard and lost a lot last year.  Now is when it was supposed to be paying off.  What a DRA!  I need to get over it; I need to just deal with it.

So, no more complaining about money from me.  My expectations are stripped away, my sense of entitlement is banished.  As I consider conversations with friends over the past few months, I am embarrassed and ashamed of all the complaining I have done.  What miserable company I am!  And it isn’t like anyone else is doing any better than we are.  They sure don’t moan about it, though. 

Thanks, friends, who have listened with sympathy.  I don’t need it anymore, though!  I will adopt an attitude of gratitude and deal with where we are with faith that He has always given us more than we have ever needed.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Everything You Do is Right Day

My fun calendar says today bears this title.  Reading the words makes me want to run around hugging every kid I can get my hands on. (It bothers me that I ended that sentence with a preposition, but today everything I do is right, so it is all right.  *big breath*  It is all right…)

It is so easy to fall into a habit of criticism.  I think especially when working with children—as a parent, teacher or even in more rare interactions—the process of correcting behavior can become the dominating element in relating to them.  Even without intending to, we can easily convey a message opposite to the sentiment of this day: everything you do is wrong always.

I think the key is in the previous sentence: intention.  We can’t simply not intend to harm.  We must intend to do good.  All the little corrections can add up to a highly critical spirit that can feel like utter condemnation to those bearing the brunt of the continual correction.  We must be purposeful in expressing praise, gratitude and encouragement.  We need to emphasize growth and improvement, no matter how small.  And above all, it must be sincere.  After hearing fifty good jobs distributed like random hiccups, they become worthy only of dismissal.  Praise and encouragement needs to be specific and genuine for it to have any value.

This isn’t true for children only.  It is true for how we treat our spouses, co-workers, extended family, friends and that poor girl who moves so slowly checking your groceries—every time!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

It is done!

Whew!  What a day.  We made tons of meals, had some interesting conversations and enjoyed listening to the kids’ laughter.  I don’t know yet how many meals either family ended up freezing, but we all worked our tails off and had a lot of fun.  My feet are just screaming at me, though.

One point of excitement was that I had a reaction to touching raw Italian sausage.  I broke out in burning rashes all over my body.  I ran to take a Benadryl and returned to work.  Several hours later, with the kitchen clean and empty, I thought I would soothe my body with a relaxing bath.  Now I will always remember to not mix Benadryl with bathing.  I fell asleep and Brian had to wake me up!

Speaking of my poor man, we didn’t clear the kitchen until almost 11, then he got a scare thinking I had died in the tub and then his alarms didn’t wake him up so he was late to work!  Poor guy!  On a totally selfish note, I had been looking forward to sleeping in a touch to let my own body recover.  Not a possibility when someone wakes up with that panic. 

So, pray Brian does well at work and my body restores while resuming regularly scheduled programming.

I may post later about some of the neat conversations we had over the last couple of days.  We covered religion, faith, Christian culture, sex in its varied aspects, life stories, forgiveness, families, apologetics, ecclesiology, education, science, music… I can’t think of what else.  Oh yeah…dogs.  Mine are currently driving me up the wall, so they were discussed at length.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

One down, One to go

Yesterday we drove to Reno and had a wonderful time visiting with one another.  I did a great job on the money, which is such a relief.  Brian watch all four kids and got Madi to dance while we gathered all we need for the big cook.

The drive to Reno was a little scary.  The wind was fierce and the road just wet enough to offer some nice skidding action.  We saw several big semis overcome by the wind, looking like they were taking a little cat nap on the side of the road.  My friend doing the driving had a real workout for her arms keeping the car between the lines.  Praise the Lord, we made it there and back without incident.

Shopping was a pleasure—such a contrast to the first of the month at 5pm on Friday.  I must remember to go to the deep discount stores on the 13th in the middle of the week and in the morning!  The prices are lower and the crowds more manageable, which makes everyone far more pleasant.

Once we got home, we set to work chopping, chopping, chopping.  Veggies and meat are all bagged and labeled so that when we start cooking today, it will be just a ‘dump & go’ job, rather than hunt, wash, chop, clean, combine and fall down exhausted.  We are feeling pretty accomplished and ready for the big push today.  I believe we are going to knock out about 55 meals by tonight!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Big Cook Coming!

It is that time again.  And it has been a while!  We choose about 15 recipes and double them.  We buy the ingredients and cook it all up in a couple of days to freeze.  Then the meals are ready to go for the months to come.  Some people live this way—cooking once a month and dining only on the frozen meals until the next month.  I am not that cool.  I do a big cook when our budget will allow for it and my calendar is open to it. 

The budget thing is kind of a fake-out, though.  It is actually much (much!) cheaper to feed a family this way, but you do need all the money up front.  That requires planning and perfect timing.  I set the money aside for groceries at the beginning of the month, but if I don’t cook right away, someone has to run to the store for this or that, and that, then that….  Then the budget is shot and we eat more randomly (read: foolishly) that month.

Our last big cook was in November, so we are very ready to get some meals set to ready for family and sharing.  Today we shop and prep.  We got girlie-friends spending the night, then we rise tomorrow for cook-cook-cooking.  We like doing big cooks with friends, and this friend is a go-getter.  She shames me because I would quit long before she even begins to fade.  I really benefit from her work-ethic, though I probably curse it when my feet and back are screaming at me.

What’s on the menu?

Monday, March 12, 2012


We had a great gathering of the church last night.  I don’t know if I can express what a blessing these meetings are to me.  As we headed to the church building, my daughter asked if we were going to be late.  We told her we would be just on time.  She answered, “Oh, good!  I love church and I don’t want to be late.”  Isn’t that great? 

Last night we had a variety of ages, all contributing to the meeting.  Questions, Scripture, music, prayer, laughter and wisdom.  I so appreciate hearing a young one say something of Truth, then waiting on an elder to deepen it with his or her experiences and binding it to the Word.  I just sit in awe as I witness the Spirit move in, through and around us as we share and carefully listen to one another. 

Praise Him!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Spring Forward

Is Falling Back really worth the Springing Forward?  I am unconvinced. 

Blessings for Japan

Last year Japan was hit first by a 9.0 earthquake (that number is so high, it doesn’t even seem real), then a tsunami that took nearly 16000 lives, then a nuclear scare when the integrity of some of their plants were compromised.  I remember when the earthquake hit and heard the magnitude.  It astonished me.  Fives and sixes kill people.  They had a NINE!  But because of smart engineering, the country was relatively unscathed.  It was remarkable and admirable and something to be celebrated.

Then the tsunami came.  The tragedy was heartbreaking.  Then fear over nuclear leaks and politics stepped in.  Now, a year later, the country takes the day to remember.  I pray for the Japanese.  I pray for healing, continued ingenuity, comfort and salvation.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Good Morning!

I hope you have a blessed weekend!  Saturdays are our Wednesday—smack in the middle of the week.  But this is a special Wednesday/Saturday.  We are finishing our third quarter of our school year!  That means tomorrow begins our very last quarter!  We just had a good two and a half weeks wiped off our calendar because of illness, so a milestone is exactly what we need to keep us moving forward.  Today we end week 27!  And tomorrow we are on the home stretch.

I have this ginormous binder with our entire school year in it.  It is impressive to look at, but wholly impractical to use in the day-to-day workings of school.  I take out a quarter at a time—which is perfect, because the tabs are designed in four rows.  So, weeks 1-9 come out as one row of tabs, 10-18 do the same, as do weeks 19-27 and now we are on weeks 28-36.  Perfect!  That means I have our very last day already in my little work-a-day binder.  Pretty exciting stuff—and time to start looking at next year’s curriculum. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Writing Class

I am really excited about a new project.  I am going to teach a writing class using a blog for writers as inspiration.  I have 12 people signed up for the class in a variety of ages and I am looking forward to what is to come.  My hopes are high, though my specific plan remain loose.  I like to see how the dynamics of individual members shape the coming weeks.

This should be fun!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Happy Anniversary!

Fifteen years ago today, I walked, with an incurable smile, down the aisle to my beloved groom, who has grown only more lovable, more admirable, more handsome and more wonderful since then.  That day wasn’t exactly full of magic.  I didn’t really get the wedding of my dreams and the reception was closer to my idea of a nightmare.  But my family and friends were there and there were some elements that still make me feel warm inside.

I always tell my kids the wedding is just a day; the marriage is a lifetime.  The lifetime together is what deserves the attention, investment and celebration.  I believe that with all my heart and I am blessed all the way over my head that my husband feels the same way.

Nevertheless, it is difficult to not think about the wedding day on an anniversary.  The sweet moments are where I like to linger.  My dad walked me down the aisle.  I got to wear these cutie white lace Mr. Rogers’ sneakers instead of traditional heels.  Katie, my underage sister, signed our marriage contract, which leads us to still joke that I am only a common law wife. Brian’s little cousin and my niece were the darling flower girls.  My uncle and cousins played piano and strings during our ceremony.   In fact, our friends and family supplied so much to make the day special—hair and nails for me, DJing the reception, taking pictures, music, flowers and honeymoon.  If the church building had been a boat, we would have capsized as my side sat, knelt and stood in good Episcopal order while Brian’s side sat stalwartly against any sign that they might be participating in worship. (Man, from that sight alone, I wouldn’t be surprised if people made bets against our lasting more than a year!) 

The reception went on way too long and it was a relief to finally be on the road to our Napa honeymoon.  There were black swans at the hotel.  And they made fresh blueberry pancakes—the hotel kitchen staff, not the black swans.  We got to go to a wine tasting event and lunched on a train that toured some beautiful vineyards.  We also broke the car key in the door and my sister had to drive all the way out to bring us our spare. 

As these images and clips play through my mind, more pictures come before my eyes from the years that followed that single day.  Our first apartment and the standing Friday night games with friends. Max’s scary birth.  The first months of Max’s life. Our second haven apartment we had for three short months.  Moving here and Brian starting at the prison.  Brian and I getting to know one another all over again after the academy and parenthood—and without the distractions of friends, family, school and work.  That long lonely stretch while we adjusted to this new life.  The birth of our little girl, and how the experience drew us closer together. The years we measure by the kids’ ages…  And there were rough times when I didn’t know if we were going to make it—and worse, didn’t know if I cared.  Praise the Lord that Brian’s stubbornness is at least equal to his love for me.  When one ran out, there was plenty of the other.  

Fifteen years isn’t that long by a lot of standards.  But I feel like it is a pretty big deal for a guy who never thought he would marry and his girl who never thought she’d stay married.  I pray that as more years pass, we come to know one another in new ways, encourage one another to follow where God leads and be the other’s number one fan.

I love you, Old Man.  May we have many more.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sunday, Sunday!

Sundays are my new favorite day!  Our church meetings are a source of strengthening to all the members of my family.  My kids are falling back into the habit of arriving prepared, prayed up and ready to share/minister.  This is a good thing, a priceless thing to me.

After the church meeting, we have a standing date with a friend for dinner, games and The Amazing Race—one of my favorite TV shows that we don’t get to watch anymore without satellite.

My kids have grown so comfortable around our friend that they get a little too used to speaking before thinking.  As we left last Sunday, I was actually saying, “Stop talking and get into the car!”  My son couldn’t seem to stop the flow and hasn’t yet understood that talking about not talking is not the same as not talking.

Sundays are so great that even my rowdy, coughy kids can’t ruin it!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Guest Writer

Please welcome my son, Max. 

The golden rule given to us by God is “Treat Others the way You Want to be Treated.” That means if you want to be treated some way, treat others in the same way. There is nothing guaranteeing that others will eventually treat you that way, too. It’s just the Golden Rule. Capital G, capital R.

However, people of this world, being selfish and vengeful, have said that the Golden Rule is “Treat others the way you’re treated.” A lie, of course, but hidden in such an awful way. This perverted version of the Golden rule has words so similar to the real Golden Rule that you could say a dyslexic started the whole thing.

The real Golden Rule, as I’ve said in the first paragraph, means if you have an opinion on how you should be treated, treat others in that same way. The perverted Golden Rule, despite being so similarly worded, means something else entirely. It means if you have been treated someway, that is the same way you should treat others. Gandhi would have been very different if that’s the rule he lived by.

However, God is so cool! You probably hear more flowery words like “amazing” and “wonderful.” But God is also just plain cool! He created this world, and the science and logic that went into it. And defying God also means defying his work… Ergo, the world. It’s a little more complicated than that, but I won’t go into depth on that. My point is, this perverted golden rule goes against God’s law and work.

I’ll start simple. Say everyone treated others the way that they were treated… That sounds like it would lead to a messed up world, but if you look at it in depth you can see that everybody would just stand there blinking. If everyone is acting chiefly on something that has been done to them… That’s OUTPUT without INPUT. Something has to go in and make a reaction for something to go out.

Let me clarify. I once was playing a game where I was able to program people in the world to do what I wanted. I once wanted to create a Lewis and Clark expedition. So I placed Lewis and I placed Clark. Then I told Clark to follow Lewis and Lewis to follow Clark. I ran the game and they both just stood there. Each was acting on the other’s actions. But they won’t act unless the other one does. This results in a circle that turns them into big fat zeros. They wouldn’t have made it to Oregon at that pace, I can tell you that.

The perverted Golden Rule is similar to the Lewis and Clark incident. If everyone acted the same way others did… Who’s going to act in the first place? Who’s going to treat someone some way for them to treat others?

If everybody treated others the way they were treated, that would mean someone would walk up to someone else and say:

“Hey, how are you gonna treat me?”

“I don’t know, I haven’t been treated any way.”

“Really? Have you met anyone lately?”

“Yes, but they weren’t treated in any way either.”

“Then that means you don’t have any way to treat me?”

“No. So I guess that means we can just go our separate ways now.”


Of course, not all conversations will be this humorous, but someone must act of his own accord to give something to others.

However, the real Golden Rule, “Treat others the way you want to be treated,” means that everybody can bring their own opinion to the world. You want to be treated in some certain way, right? It’s almost impossible to walk up to something without some kind of opinion or expectation as to what or how it is. That means that everyone has some way that they want to be treated. And then they treat others that way, meaning that there is a lot of interaction.

God works on so many levels with everything. It is even possible to write an essay on the shortest verse in the Bible (Two words: Jesus Cried) and all the meanings it has(Guys can cry; it’s not sinful to feel pain; even Jesus, God who can see all of time and all the secrets of the universe can still cry…). Another way God works on many levels is when he says, “Ask and you shall receive” or “I am always with you” or “I will fill your needs.” He is with one at all times.  For example, He saved me from being hit by a fire ball from the barbecue, and from drowning in the 8 foot section of the pool. But he truly is always with me, and when my food is running low in one of my games, which isn’t important in any way except relaxation, he drops a chicken at my front door. Heh heh.


The Golden Rule also can be viewed on many different levels.  The Golden Rule is logical.  Because of people’s opinion, they have a way to treat people, which is well.   Another thing is the original point of the Golden Rule is saying that since we all want to be treated well, we will be selfless and treat others well.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Bad mom

My kids have been sick.  It first hit my son.  He suffered mostly from fever, sore throat, cough and lethargy; ok, a little vomiting.  No big deal.  He is a great sick person.  He refuses meds and chooses to sleep;  he sleeps all day and all night.  This is especially cool since he routinely runs on six hours of sleep or less.  So tending to him consists of keeping fluids in him and an occasional temp check.   And he gets well in less than 24 hours most of the time.  Easy.

Then comes the girl.  Oh my gosh.  This is a totally different story.  She regularly needs about 10 hours of sleep to be fully human.  But when she is sick, she gets insomnia.  This allows her to give a running commentary on her every ache and pain for a good 20 hours a day.  Almost always any illness she has eventually settles into her lungs and she gets bronchitis.  I forget this little pattern until I am making the doctor appointment.  I can’t actually remember when my son last went to the doctor.  We might be looking at four or five years now.  Six? Madi goes two or three times a year, and always for that darn cough.

I am writing this on Thursday morning.  (Since this isn’t posting for a few days, hopefully all this will be only a memory by the time you are reading it! *sigh*  What a beautiful thought!)  The last night of full sleep I got was Saturday night.  Max was sick then, but didn’t require any extra care.  Sunday night IT BEGAN.  You have to read that with an ominously deep voice.  IT BEGAN.

Since then, I have been no more than ten feet from her, listening, listening, listening….  (except when I go out to shovel the drive way.  We have our first mighty snow storm going.  We could be sledding!)  Her cough is truly horrible.  It wracks her body and leaves her breathless.  Her throat hurts, her head hurts, her stomach muscles hurt from the constant coughing, her nose is stuffy and I am sure her pinky toe hurts, too.  I feel badly for her.  Who likes being sick?  But, come on!!  I am beginning to feel a little impatient at this point.  Yesterday I gave her a long ol’ speech—hey, it’s what I do—along the lines of starving children in Africa.  I told her how powerful our minds are and that we CAN make ourselves sick by concentrating on every little discomfort.  She needed to change her thoughts!

This morning I got her out of bed, bathed her in my luxury tub with gentle hands and sweet smelling soaps.  I massaged her clean self with lotion, clipped her nails and re-braided her hair.  I hoped that feeling pampered, clean and pretty would turn her to healing, along with the new meds we have from the please-bless-him-doctor.   I want to be a good mom, but I am feeling the rope unravel to very frayed edges.  Be healed, already!

Sunday, March 4, 2012


The other day we were all snuggling in bed, trying to warm up.  I was teasing my girl, begging her to please warm up my ice-block feet.  In half-feigned, half-genuine agony, she wailed and tried to shove me away and she moved her toasty warm feet from my reach.  As she began to lose the battle, she desperately threw her brother under the bus.  “Go cuddle Max!  He has kayak socks!!”

The game came to a standstill as we all stared at her in bewilderment.  She saw our consternation and pointed at Max’s feet by way of explanation.  We continued to look nonplussed so she repeated, ‘kayak socks.’  The light bulb went on for our sweet boy and he burst into laughter.  “You mean yak socks!”

And everybody says, “Oooohhhh!!”

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Snow Escapade!

Before I share about our backyard wonderland, I want to say happy birthday to my cherished big sis!  You can watch our little thermometer on the side of the blog as we save the money to visit her. 

snow, 2012 017We have gotten so very little snow this winter.  While I miss the beautiful white scenes and the snow shoveling, I also grow concerned about the type of summer we will have.  A few years ago it seemed all California was on fire, and I think we may repeat that this year because of how little moisture we’ve received.  So, join me in prayer about that, k?

When it does snow, we soak it up with even more appreciation than normal.  Monday we finally got some and even with the kids under the weather we couldn’t stay inside!  We started out cuddling in bed by a window, but the flakes were so giant, we just had to run out to play for a bit. 

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snow, 2012 013snow, 2012 012







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snow, 2012 015snow, 2012 024The kids (and dogs) and I had fun catching flakes on our tongues.  Can you see Ava’s tongue?  She totally caught one!




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Friday, March 2, 2012


Please check out the links on the left sidebar.  There are sites that are genuinely worth your time.  The first is for my friends who are waiting to adopt a child.  Please share that site with your family and friends.  You can visit their website to get to know two wonderful people.

The next is a link you can use to keep updated on my older sister’s progress as she lives with brain cancer.  You must have a log-in account, but it doesn’t take more than five minutes to begin one.  With your account, you can visit my sister’s site (Diane Porter) and sign up to receive email and text alerts to stay current with her latest updates.  You can also create pages for others you know going through a medical trial.

The third link is for VOICE Today, which is an organization dedicated to stopping child sexual abuse through education, prevention and healing programs.   This is a nonprofit organization that offers a tax deduction on contributions.  They host free training programs to anyone who is interested in a variety of specialties within this field, including being safe on the internet, talking with children about sexual abuse and healing for those who have been victimized.

Another “Link I Like” is for MOMS, a non-profit organization that serves in Sierra Leone to accommodate healthier births and increase the survival rates of babies.  They train local women to become midwives and equip them to train even more local women in the same service.  While our economy is hurting individual families, it really hurts organizations such as these that depend on donations from people who care.  Please share this link with others and consider ways that you can help families in West Africa, whose poverty is beyond most American’s personal experience.  While $20 may not mean much to us, it goes much further there!

The Home School Foundation is another worthy cause that strives to serve families in need.  The Home School Foundation serves homeschooling families who have suffered loss by giving school supplies, home repair, money and more.  It is a newer organization that is working to place Ambassadors across the nation who make connections at the local level to identify families in need and to raise money for them.

The rest of the links are on the more frivolous side.  The Homeschool fun store is a link that will take you to an online store that has neat designs for homeschooling families.  There are clothing, beverage containers, buttons and other items that make special gifts.  My little sister created the cute sayings and images and I hope to grow the sales at the store so that she might have a little bonus income.  Find Your Spot is a dreamy place to visit when you are curious about the top locations you could move to make a new life.  Keep them secret so that when you go into the Witness Protection Program, no one will know where to look while you are living in your personal paradise!  Finally is KidsROCK Academy’s site.  This is a homeschool support and enrichment group that is currently less active than in years past.  But if you are a homeschooler looking for ideas, it is a good place to go.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Grammar Nazi

You know what?  Sometimes grammar Nazis are underappreciated.  People enjoy knocking the geeks and nerds out there.  We are called pompous showoffs because we have a vocabulary that goes beyond an eighth grade level.  We are called…well… Nazis.  Yep, people who enjoy words and delight in their proper and nuanced usages are equated with racist, fascist, mass murderers.  To be good sports, we laugh about it.  No big deal.  ~~~In all seriousness, I truly am fine with it.  Until…

I keep an account at to earn extra money doing child care, pet care and other odd jobs.  I was reading the profile of a fellow child care worker.  Holy cow.  Verb tense discrepancies, mixing commas with semi-colons and incomplete sentences were everywhere.  I know that makes me critical and ugly; she is just a sweet little old small town woman.  So I just pass over the errors.   Until.

I recognize—and personally experience—the apprehension that comes with putting oneself ‘out there’ for public scrutiny.  Nerves can make us say, do and write things we wouldn’t normally.  I surely want to be treated with grace over my own multiple typos and spelling errors.  I strive to offer the same to others.  UNTIL!!!!

I see that this woman works for the county office of education!  As she detailed the work she does with children at school, I just couldn't believe it!  I'm a big ol' snob and grammar Nazi. I accept that. But THIS is who is teaching our children!  You think it is someone educated and certified by the state, but if that chick is sick, this other lady comes on in!  She can’t even properly describe the way in which she gives academic instruction and correction.  I realize there may be instances in which one may not be able to accurately describe a particular activity.  But grading papers and reading with children are not instances that apply.

OK.  My rant is over.  I really don’t mind being labeled a geek.  I laugh right out loud at the jokes and pictures that mock the nit pickers, knowing I am one of them.  I am also aware that I make many errors in all my writing attempts, so I can add hypocrite to my identity.  I just couldn’t believe that this woman didn’t ask anyone to edit this for her.  We all make mistakes, but when you stand up to represent any area of academia, it seems like a good idea to get the basic grammar down, right?