Monday, March 30, 2009

Simple Woman #12

FOR TODAY March 30, 2009

Outside My Window... darkness, clouds and rain. At least it’s not snowing, (though it tried on Saturday.)

I am thinking... about the stack of bills beside my desk, and wondering if I can keep the checkbook in the black for one more month. Also, that "Simple Woman" really needs a new logo. The Victorian looking one has never really worked for me, and the comment of one reader who looked at it and saw "AMPLE Woman" really clinched it.

I am thankful for... this house – our home. In our first house, and in this one - before the remodel - every time it rained we had a well-founded worry about leaks and water damage. Now I can lay in my bed and enjoy the sound of dripping rain, confident that the water will stay out and (since we’re not doing spring soccer) that I will stay in :0)

From the learning rooms... quietness, for the moment. If they’re not asleep they soon will be. We’re reading about Spain and Portugal and the colonization of the New World. The conquistadors came to find gold and treasure, and to spread Catholicism, and ended the civilizations of the Incas and Aztecs. But it’s hard to feel very sorry about the demise of an empire known for cutting the beating hearts out of its human sacrifices.

From the kitchen... home-made pizza for dinner. Don’t be impressed. Really.

I am wearing... jeans, wool socks, black shirt, fuzzy purple sweater. *sigh* You know, I'm not against make-up and jewelry, but when I get up and get dressed in the morning, and I look at myself in the mirror, I come to the conclusion that I don't think it would help.

I am creating... Still wondering what to do with some rather unique fabric my neighbor gave me. I have someone in mind to use it for, but want to think of something a bit more clever than another quilt of squares! But not too clever for a novice like me.

I am going... to bed. Soon. I have a headache and and a back ache... girl woes, but that’s all I’m saying. (I do have the occasional male reader.)

I am reading... a biography of Martin Luther, with the boys. Getting a jump start on next week, when we’ll cover the Reformation. In one week. Yeah. Wish me luck.

I am hoping... I am praying for more work for Kerry. Soon would be good.

I am hearing... wind and rain. Welcome to the Pacific Northwest.

Around the house... Dust bunnies. Dust elephants. And I’m having company tomorrow night. Well, my mama always told me to light some candles, turn the lights down, and enjoy yourself. Then clean after your company leaves so you can enjoy the clean house. Amen.

One of my favorite things... comics written by little boys who are just beginning to understand humor and develop their own. I’ll have to scan Tate’s interpretation of the “Civil” war. Oh so very proper.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Book club is meeting here tomorrow. (Dust bunnies beware.) Having dinner with friends on Thursday, and Kerry and the boys are going out to a father/son thing on Friday night (hallelujah!) They’re going to hear a man who was a fighter pilot in WWII, and was in POW camps and – I think – Buchenwald. I’d love to meet him too, but I’ll have to suffer through a quiet, peaceful evening at home alone.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

This is the special fabric. I'm assuming my neighbor cut the fabric before she washed it, so you're looking at an almost-eight inch square. The hula girls are about four inches tall, so I don't want to cut the pieces too small. I probably need to use them as big blocks and make some kind of interesting accent blocks to go alongside. Ideas?

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Kids are somewhat literal. Ahem.

We invited some new friends to come over for lunch after church today.
Of course, when someone is coming over the boys have two standard and immediate questions:

Who is coming? and
Do they have kids?
The second question being the more pressing.

I'm trying to teach the boys to be good hosts; to think of activities that might interest our guests, whom I've only observed in church. So I started my Mom-ologue by explaining that the boy and girl are both a bit older than Wyatt (12) and seem very calm and quiet. Possibly even shy. Like, hint hint... they're probably not going to want to have plastic light-saber duels, fir-cone wars, or certain other things my boys find entertaining.

The second the words calm and quiet left my mouth Gunnar piped up, "Oh. So they're not our type, Mom."

Friends, if you ever read this, please know that our kids enjoyed your kids and would like to play with them again (!) and that Gunnar meant only that they are Not Like Us, as opposed to Not Liked BY Us.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Just a day in the life...

I love the flexibility that comes with the combination of homeschooling and Kerry being self-employed. He took the boys out this morning for a nearly private showing of Monsters vs. Aliens (!) and a good time was had by all.

Of course, you realize that for the next month I'll be subjected to a steady diet of, "Oh! Mom! Let me tell you about a funny part!", followed by a pronoun-laden stream of consciousness explanation that makes no sense at all to anyone who wasn't there. "And then this guy threw this thing at this other guy who was an alien and then he said blah-blah-blah and then he said blah-blah-blah and then she climbed over....." Uh huh.

But that's fine. I'm used to it. :0)

The catch was, they got to the mall before the movie started and had some time to wander around. I thank the Lord above that the stores weren't open yet, and I submit to you Exhibit A in "Why Men Should Not Shop Unattended", especially for home decor.

Exhibit B would be the following dialog, as reported by the boys.

Husband: "Hey! Why don't we buy that for Mom for an early Mother's Day present?!"

10 y.o. Son: "You'd really waste all that money just to annoy her?"

Thank you, Tate, oh thank you!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Re-Weirds of Parenting #3

And that's all I have to say about that.

Best Twenty Bucks I Ever Spent

I know, it may not be the best picture, but trust me, this was the best twenty bucks I ever spent.

At a consignment store, one day, I saw a K'nex roller coaster kit, and a huge plastic tub of random K'nex pieces. They must've just been brought in because they weren't priced.

"How much?"

"Twenty bucks."

"For the kit or the tub?"

"Uh... for both."

Yeah. I hit the jackpot.

It's a little rainy here, in the PNW. The boys will spend hours and hours with toys like this, or Legos, or Lincoln Logs.

Not only were all the pieces and the instructions there, both of the motors (the big orange units) work, zinging the little roller-coaster car in endless loops around the track.

Oh, blessed peace and quiet in the house!

Who says you can't buy happiness?!

Macho Man

Yes. His hair is blue. It was "Crazy Hair Night" at AWANA. And he was due for a hair cut anyway.

As the hair came off his head, and clung to his little chest and back, Kerry and I couldn't help cracking up.

A vision of his future???

I should've named him Esau...

When Gunnar doesn't want to finish his dinner

The Re-Weirds of Parenting #2

For their journal writing today I told the boys to write about where chocolate milk comes from. In case you have trouble reading them, I'll write out the text, unedited. Bear in mind that I usually try to leave the room while they're writing these because I want them to work them out for themselves. I don't correct their "GPS" (grammar, punctuation or spelling) in their journals. These are just to get them loosened up and WRITING.

GUNNAR, who is 7 years old, is the only one who went for realism. I suspect he may have talked Wyatt into helping him with some of the spelling, but I'm actually thrilled to see words he misspelled. I know that sounds weird, but he is very cautious about just launching out and trying to sound things out for himself, so writing "huny" for "honey" is a big success. He put down an appropriate letter for every sound in the word. He even remembered the apostrophe in "it's"! Anyway... We've been reading about the Aztecs this week, so he wrote:

How we get chocolate milk.

We get a been from a tree and we add sweet huny a (and) add yumyyy chocolate and add milk and mix and ta daa it's chocolate milk

Nice :0)

WYATT loves dramatic stories, and came up with this, supporting the idea that you can explain anything using aliens, (thanks to my friend the Babylonian Squirrel for the link), with a multitude of sound effects I won't even try to replicate:

Once upon a time, on a farm, in a field, the cows were grazing peacefully. When suddenly, the aliens were upon them! The UFO chased the cows around the barnyard until it cornered one against a fence... ZZZAP! They took the cow to their planet, and their atmosphere had a wierd affect on the cow; it turned brown. the aliens, who had taken the cow to supply them with fresh white milk, now got chocolate milk. And when they tried to drink it... they coughed, belched, farted, and exploded... eeeeeeeewww. So the aliens quickly took the cow back to earth and put it back in the barnyard, and left. That cow's descendants all made chocolate milk, and thats why we have it, and its also why aliens never come to earth anymore!!!!!

The end

TATE, however, always goes for humor. I have to say how impressed I was that he incorporated "poetry" (to a kid, if it rhymes, it's poetry), music (an imitation of the song from the old "Attack of the Killer Tomatoes"), and - more poetry - a haiku, at the end. And, yes, I know his handwriting isn't great, and his spelling isn't great. Part of that is related to hearing loss and part of it is impatient 10 year old boy who would much rather do hard manual labor that painstakingly write out his thoughts. I'm thrilled with how much he wrote, and all the different elements he included - even checking with me to make sure he was using "intently" correctly. (Deaf/HoH kids commonly struggle with word meaning. Tate is often so close, but not quite right... like offering to give me an "interview", rather than a "review" of a book.)

But I'm rambling. Here is pure 10 year old boy:

Chocolate milk coms from cows of cors, but not just any cows...
45 foot brown cud chuwing, crud pewing, cocolate cows!
They eat chocolate, they dringk cholate. Everything abowt them is chocolaty. They mow dawn any thing in their path like giant 45 foot chocolat lan mowers!
(music notes) Attac of the killer (music notes) chocolat cows they eat and eat? until ther feet turn brown (music notes) ther 45 foot cows (music notes) the size ? of 50 sows (music notes) But... their milk is so chokolaty that they hav to put it thrug a straner befor they can sell it!

40 foot brown cow
chewing its cud intently
lying in the shade

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Small Field

I've been reading Everyday Mommy lately. 

She posted this earlier today. (Well, by the time I post, yesterday.)

What is the unique purpose God has given to you as His special creation? What work has God given you to do in your home, church, community & world?

It got me thinking about how much my life has changed, not so much recently (that's a different story), but over the last many years.

I left her the short version...

In my single years, I was happy. Though I came from a godly, Christian home, with parents who love and respect each other, I did not assume that would be my life (married and raising kids.) I spent several years between university, skiing, hiking and climbing, sailing, various jobs, traveling, and working with an adventure-based youth ministry. It was all good :0)

Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” I loved my life, and would have said that God was indeed giving me the desires of my heart. Those were good years.

As time passed and - I hope - I matured, God was working in me and I saw the deeper meaning of the promise. Not only was He fulfilling the desires of my heart, He was GIVING me the desires of my heart - giving me new desires, and then fulfilling them.

Now I’ve been married almost 15 years, I’ve been home for 13 of those. I never thought I’d be who I am today - and home educating my 12, 10 and 7 year old boys. Truly, new desires that came from Him.

I’ve always thought this quote expresses my heart;

We cultivate a very small field for Christ but we love it, knowing that God does not require great achievements, but a heart that holds back nothing for self.
St. Philippine Duchesne

So there ya go.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Simple Woman #11

FOR TODAY March 23, 2009

Outside My Window... darkness. I forgot to post earlier, not that anyone is keeping score.

I am thinking... about family friends. When I met them, almost 15 years ago, the wife was in the early stages of MS. She walked with a cane, but could still drive a car. We went to a Bible Study together, and she always had insightful things to share.

Of course, her condition got worse as time went by. Her husband has cared for her all these years. She could no longer walk, keep house, cook, feed or bathe herself. Her speech was hard (or impossible) to understand.

I've never known him to complain or even to seem discouraged - he just carries on. He loves to work with children at church and has a wonderful, natural rapport with them. And he helps with just about everything. When we bought our first house, with apple trees in the back yard, he came over and showed Kerry how to prune them.

A friend called a few days ago to say that the wife is in the hospital. Infection. Heart attack.

Now, I think she must be dying. But that isn't a question one calls and asks. Still, tomorrow I'll call someone. Find out what is happening. They've requested no visitors at the hospital.

We pray for them. The husband, the wife, the (grown) son. For their comfort.

I am thankful for... health, friends, for faith to be sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

From the learning rooms... the boys are asleep. We changed the sheets, (off with the flannels, though the nights are still cold), and cleaned and moved furniture in their bedroom. The school room is tidy also. Lessons are waiting for tomorrow, a day that will be happily disrupted.

From the kitchen... only the hum and gurgle of the dishwasher.

I am wearing... I ought to eliminate this category, because it's so repetitious. Jeans, a t-shirt, a sweater, socks and slippers.

I am creating... planning yet another quilt, but have not begun it yet.

I am going... soon to BED.

I am reading... "Winter Birds", by Jamie Langston Turner. I love her writing. She uses actual chapter titles, and they are clues to the characters and events in the story. This one has double clues. The chapter titles are all quotes from Shakespeare (of whom I am woefully ignorant), and descriptions of birds and their natures. One bird, I've forgotten the name, is known to hide in a thicket and gorge itself on grubs - fat hairy caterpillars. Her husband had a wicked secret.

I am hoping... to get more done tomorrow than will be possible, what with a meeting with Tate's HoH teacher, a piano lesson, and friends visiting from Siberia. The boys are intrigued. I don't think they remember meeting them before, and are even more interested now that I have told them that many of the people where our friends live are descended from actual Mongols, who came up in our history studies earlier this year.

I am hearing... blessed silence. I have a Catholic friend who told me she once went on a weekend retreat at a monastery or convent. And it was silent. Their may have been certain hours when they were allowed to speak, but mostly it was silent. We both had toddlers and preschoolers at the time and I, at least, felt as if my entire life was being narrated. Her retreat sounded absolutely blissful.

Around the house... order, for the moment anyway.

One of my favorite things... boys that can load the dishwasher.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: after tomorrow things look pretty calm. Gunnar goes to AWANA on Wednesday evenings, but other than that the week looks pretty clear.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

This is the eyesore in my backyard a sign of my boys wonderful creativity.
This is another view of the backyard wonderland known as Dino-opolis.

Yes, that's a little fire.
Yes, I was right there watching.
Yes, they put it out.
Though the notion of it spreading, in our damp mossy climate, is a bit laughable.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

If you like old houses...

Just for fun, I thought I'd show you a few photos of our house.

This was taken in 1902, when the house was new. My grandma could name most of the people in the photo, because they were her relatives. The house has been in her family since it was built.

My grandparents moved in after my mom was born, but before her first birthday - 1945 - and lived here until they both died, my grandma, more recently, in 2003.

At that point, we bought the house, and it looked like this. Somehow most of the 'historical' features had been deleted in order to "modernize" over the years. Not much in the way of window trim, the siding was aluminum, and there was a flat roof over the mud-room and part of the kitchen.

If that last bit doesn't horrify you, you've never spent a winter in the Pacific Northwest.

Since then, we've done a bit of remodeling ourselves, increasing our living space, eliminating the flat roof, and (we hope) making the house more attractive by bringing back some of its historical roots.

Well, if you really compare the photos, it's probably more "historical" now than it ever was. Make of that what you will.

What can I say? I married an architect. :0)

Little by little

Well, I figured something out.

I like making quilts for a couple of reasons. I especially like making quilts with my favorite colors... blues, turquoise, yellow, green. (You never would've guessed, right?)

But I even enjoyed making this quilt, which is mainly reproductions of vintage pastels.

Pastel? Not in my normal vocabulary!

But I liked making it, and here's why. I completed it, and I can see it finished, and it stays done. Unlike most of our "mom work", which is incomplete, invisible, or very rapidly undone.

I still have a stack of bills to pay. The floor I mopped this morning already has little brown footprints on it. The clean clothes I folded and put away will soon be dirty. The boys will be hungry. And the 'fruit' from the hours of teaching and training are often hard to see in the midst of daily life.

But my little quilt is done!

It's destined to be a baby gift, and is made with the scraps left over from this quilt. I meant for the fabrics to look very randomly dispersed, but of course I had to tweak "random" a bit, to make it look like I thought random should look. I really like the striped binding. :0)

This is the back. I know... kind of shocking. Actually, the colors are not really so saturated in real life, nor so contrasting. The greens and blues run together with turquoise between, more like a watercolor, and less like an aerial photo of Minnesota.

So, as Gunnar says, "Wa-WAH!"

Friday, March 20, 2009

Six happinesses

I never said my family is normal. And sometimes that's a good thing... The boys and I had a movie night, tonight, and this is what they picked :0)

Based on a book by Alan Burgess, the movie shows the life of Gladys Aylward - a British maid who became a missionary to China in the 1930's. Among other things, she ran an inn for mule trains, became a "foot inspector" (to stop foot-binding), taught reading and writing, worked with lepers, and spoke many dialects of Chinese. She is remembered most for her work with orphans. When Japan invaded China, she led 100 children to safety over rugged mountains.

Yes, I know the movie has many inaccuracies. We read her biography first! Still, it's fairly amazing that Hollywood would even produce a movie that presents a missionary as someone to be admired. And since it was made in 1958 it's squeaky clean. Of course, my boys groaned and covered their eyes during the eight - count 'em, eight! - kisses.

I just have to say how cool I think it is that - given a choice - this is what the boys wanted to watch.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Artsy Fartsy

Taken by Wyatt.

Cool, yeah? It's Uncle Dave's lava lamp. And "negativized".


Went to my brother's Housewarming last Saturday. It's a cool place. He has a much more decidedly modern approach to decorating than I do.

Check out this oh-so-cool light in his entryway!

I'm not sure if that inspired Gunnar's "gogglers" (actually, candle holders), or Aunt Tami's Carrie Fisher imitation.

I never said my family was normal.

What a deal

I think I mentioned that we've been pinching our pennies lately. A couple weeks ago I loaded up the boys to take them to my parents' for a PTO day and came home to an empty house. Kerry had left me a note... "Gone skiing!" Before I got my hackles up, I read the rest of the note.

His "cousin-in-law" (his cousin's husband) had called from a local ski area and said, "You've GOTTA GET UP HERE!" and offered to pay for Kerry to ski for the afternoon.

But I'm not bitter ;-)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Season of Mud

It's almost spring, but here in the PNW, it's the season of mud. And my boys love it. They are outside every moment possible.

Dino-opolis' humble beginnings... "The Cone Age"

They have created an alternate universe in the back corner of the back yard (formerly known as "The Black Forest", because it was so dark back there). Now it's "Dino-opolis." Their world is inhabited by numerous plastic dinosaurs. They drive little plastic cars. And they have houses, farms, roads, rivers, and even their own economy. The currency is moss, which we have in abundance. They also favor "jewel pets". I have no idea where this fascination with those squished looking decorative marbles comes from, but they are all over Dino-opolis. The boys have "re-purposed" all kinds of random junk items to adorn their Dino city. Actually, cities. Mayor Jack Dino presides over Dino-opolis, and nearby Delta ("the market city, Mom,") is administered by (see if you get the joke) Mayor "Dino Rosie".

I think this is Mayor Jack Dino.

I'm happy that they love to be outside. I'm happy that they're incredibly creative. I'm happy that our yard is a magnet for neighborhood kids (especially given that we don't have a Wii, a Nintendo, or an X-box, or whatever the next newer thing is...) I'm happy that they will even write stories about Dino-opolis. In fact, they pestered me into letting them start their own blog about Dino-opolis! I could link it, if anyone is interested, but if you're over the age of 12 or 13 and your chromosomes match, you may find it... well... less than scintillating reading :0)

But, what I'm not so happy about (beyond the fact that my back yard looks like pure trailer trash) is the MUD. Boys are mud magnets!

Is it so hard to wipe your feet before you come in the door? I have a boot scraper and two door mats! I'm trying to make this easy! But they will dash into the house and run into the bathroom when they want to wash the mud off their hands! That's what the hose is for! Well, my bathroom sink isn't draining so well, and the mudroom floor is above and beyond living up to its name...

Aarrrgh! It's Mudville here!

So, in other news...

After being healthy all winter (hallelujah!) a few of us have colds. Well, that would especially be me. I'm thankful I DON'T have strep throat (that surgery was worthwhile), but I've been,
"talk-ig lige this and go-ig to bed early, buh-cuz I hab a code."

Of course, Wyatt and Tate BOTH got their head-gear on Monday, and have been trying to adapt to sleeping with it. Which means that for the last two nights I have been awakened - no kidding - every two hours. Yes. Every. Two. Hours.

And if I think of anything else to whine about, you'll be the first to know.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Anything but that

We were dashing out the door to an 8am orthodontist appointment this morning, when Wyatt said, "Wait! Can I bring something to play with?"

Normally I'd encourage this, but I anticipated them working on both of the boys at once, so I answered, "No time. Just get in the van."

Wyatt was completely exasperated.

"But, Mom, I won't... I'll be... I'll just have to THINK."

Oh, the horror of it all.

Simple Woman # 10

I'm still having trouble with blogger making links consistently. I'll come back and fix it, if I can. But in the meantime, the link to "Simple Woman" is:

FOR TODAY March 16, 2009

Outside My Window... windy… very windy.

I am thinking... about Wyatt and Tate’s new head-gear, and getting them used to it. Ugh.

I am thankful for... Did I mention lately that I love our church? And evening church too. It’s more casual. Last night, no pianist – no problem. Everybody sang a capella, and still sounded pretty good :0) But the sweetest part? Pastor Bert had several verses to use in the study, and called for volunteers to read different sections. Gunnar really wanted to read. And Pastor Bert is fine with it. Better than fine with it, encourages that.

From the learning rooms... weather words and weather charts and weather pictures.

From the kitchen... it’s another crockpot day. Chicken and stuffing :0)

I am wearing... jeans, white turtle-neck, dark blue Henley with sparkly buttons.

I am creating... working (very slowly) on another quilt. (Same as last week.)

I am going... to Moms In Touch (prayer group) this afternoon. Love it.

I am reading... starting “Winter Birds”, by Jamie Langston Turner.

I am hoping... the power stays on… it’s so windy.

I am hearing... boys playing with K’Nex. They are building big vehicles and – what else? – crashing them together to see what goes flying off.

Around the house... toy guns, Calvin and Hobbes books, rocks with fossils, and maps of “Dino-opolis” and “Dinoville”.

One of my favorite things... sweet little boys who say, “Pick me! Pick me!” to read aloud at church.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: looking forward to a PTO day, this coming Friday :0)

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

This should've gone with the post below, but I couldn't find it...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

A long day...

I think I've been short on sleep for a few nights, because today just seemed like a loooong day. A good day, but a long day.

My brother had the (extended) family over for an Open House. Very nice. Neat place. I mean, it's nice now, and there's lots of potential. But driving there and back, and a room full of people talking, (and talking, and talking), kind of wears me out.

Of course, it doesn't help when your day starts at 4:35am with a little boy running into your bedroom with a bloody nose.
And so you get out of bed to help him.
And then your feet get cold.
And he wants to get in your bed and snuggle.
And who can resist 58 pounds of warm, fuzzy headed cuteness in dinosaur jammies?
Even if he wiggles, and giggles in his sleep.
And you don't. (Sleep.)

Friday, March 13, 2009

Boys will be boys...

My mother had a great deal of trouble with me but I think she enjoyed it.

Mark Twain

A homeschool day...

Some days I'm just banging my head against the wall, but other days make up for it.

The kids were antsy to get started this morning. Well, honestly, don't assume that they love their school work that much, but they get the concept that the sooner they begin, the sooner they finish. That's progress, right there.

A friend called last night. A friend with an adorable little almost-one-year-old. Could we watch him for a little while today? You betcha :0) Partly because I remember what it's like to have all-consuming little ones and to need a break, but also because my kids like little kids.

Knowing that he was coming at 12:30, they jumped right into their writing and math assignments. We whizzed through "adding 9" (Gunnar), "multiplying round numbers mentally" (Tate) and "finding the area of circles" (Wyatt). We even wrote a summary of Amerigo Vespucci and Ferdinand Magellan. A very brief summary.

We were just finishing our lunch when Levi arrived. The boys had done a quick 'sweep' of the downstairs. Gee, it's been awhile since I had to think about child-proofing! They also found our box of baby toys and brought those down to the living room, along with the gym mat, ("He really doesn't need that, guys." "But mom, he'll like to look at the bright colors!") and - of course - Tate's big toy army vehicle.

Success :0) Levi is a happy and contented child, and - to my relief - not persistently into things he shouldn't be. Of course, he had 'fresh' toys to play with and three older boys who doted on him.

I love it. They actually like to play with little kids. Well, for awhile anyway. And I loved watching how they "managed" him. I had coached them ahead that it's okay to flat out tell him "No" if need be, but then to quickly distract him with something else. Oh, they were good. If he headed for the stairs, they were ready with a new toy or a funny sound.

I love watching them, like this, and picturing the future...

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Wow. Now I've got something else to look forward to. I'm going to hear...

Mr. Voddie Baucham

at the Christian Heritage Home Educators of Washington Conference!!!

Oh, snap. Blogger is misbehavin' again, and I can't make a link. Well, you can google that, and I'll try to come back and fix it later. But in the mean-time, take a look at this line-up of messages, by Mr. VB:

Home-Based Discipleship vs. Government Education: Homeschooling for the Right Reasons

The Biblical Roles of Husbands & Wives

Parenting: The Blessing Our Children Can Be to Us and We Can Be to Them

The Culture War: Maintaining the Faith in a Faithless World?
What are major cultural trends affecting Christians and how can we respond Biblically?

Biblical Manhood: What He Must Be if He Wants to Marry My Daughter

Christian Education: The Gift Every Christian Parent Owes Their Child

Also appearing, Mike Riddle, of Answers in Genesis, and others.

All that and more, for 70 bucks a couple!!! (And it helps to have a brother, who lives in the area, which should cover the "lodging" portion of this shin-dig.)


Link now working :0)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Testosterzone #9

Tate is obviously bored with his hand-writing practice. (Too bad he needs it so desperately.)

He dutifully copied the letters and words, in his Getty-Dubay Italic book. But when he went to copy the sentences (scintillating little gems, like "Up the hill went Uncle Bill"), he couldn't resist the urge to liven things up a bit, boy fashion.

Instead of "Wendy's wagon is red", I got a wonderfully modified drawing and,

"Wendy's wagon is CODE RED!"

And on the previous page, "Is Vic's vest blue?" was followed by smaller letters, reading,

"No, and it's shot full'a holes", with another pure-Tate piece of art.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What did you say?

Good news today!

Tate's audiogram today shows no change in the last year. A year!

Okay, bad mom; I haven't had his hearing tested since last May. But I can usually tell if there's a change.

He's still functionally deaf in his left ear - but we knew that - while his right ear is 'holding on'. Without the HA he's in the moderate to severe range of loss, but - the big Hallelujah! - with the HA, he's getting really good benefit, and hearing most of the "Speech Banana".

So I am rejoicing today!

Of course, being a 10-year-old boy, I do think there's a bit of selective hearing happening... :0)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Simple Woman #9

FOR TODAY March 9, 2009

Outside My Window... Again with the snow.

I am thinking... about how to rearrange the rest of the day (week?) since it’s almost lunch time and we haven’t begun school yet… thanks to the combination of weather, an 8AM orthodontist appointment and stops at three grocery stores on the way home. That’s just scary – I sound like my grandmother! And that’s not my normal “M.O.” I’d usually rather just shop one place, but as they were all directly on our route home, it made sense.

I am thankful for... my husband, who drove us around this morning.

I admit, I’m a total weenie about driving in the snow. It’s usually wet and slick, where we live, and there are accidents galore. What really cracks me up is the high percentage of people who live here and have this attitude: “Well, yeah, I know how to handle my vehicle in the snow, it’s all the other wackos out there that cause problems.”

Hello, your huge SUV may have four-wheel drive, but that doesn’t mean you have a clue. And your 4WD won’t help you stop.

But I’m ranting… so let me just go on record saying that I know I’m not a good snow driver, and it makes me nervous, and going to town means going down a 300+ foot hill with a pretty steep grade. Go ahead. Laugh. Call me a weenie. Kerry drove us in the 4Runner and we were still sliding around.

From the learning rooms... all the day’s work awaiting us…

From the kitchen... blissfully re-stocked cupboards, which were quite bare yesterday.

I am wearing... jeans, winter socks, white shirt and blue sweater. (See, I’m “dressed up” because I was out in public!)

I am creating... starting another quilt with scraps from the ‘vintage’ one I made a few weeks ago.

I am going... nowhere else today!

I am reading... Uppity Women of Medieval Times.

I am hoping... the snow either piles up or goes away.

I am hearing... quiet. I think the boys are reading. Maybe.

Around the house... boys reading, or maybe writing. They want to create a blog (!) to chronicle the events of their back-yard civilization, “Dino-opolis.” The dining room is overflowing with all the leaves in the table, a folding table, and chairs gathered from around the house. We had a fun family with five boys over for lunch yesterday. Didn’t know them too well and was pleasantly surprised that they stayed all afternoon and evening. And my boys are already asking when we can get those boys over again. :0)

One of my favorite things... snowy days, candles, and hot chocolate.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: busy day tomorrow – meeting with the itinerant D/HoH (Deaf and Hard of Hearing) teacher who works with Tate and has been out for several weeks on medical leave, then zipping Wyatt to piano practice, and then swapping him for Tate and heading up to the university to get a current audiogram.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

This is an oldie. Probably May or maybe June of 1999. Wyatt was about to turn three, and Tate would’ve been just 6 or 7 months.

Something isn't working right, and I can't make a link. (Usually I make the logo at the top into a link to the "Mother Site".) If you're interested, you can to to

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Kids in church...

Since I've had two people ask, I'll just put the whole text of the "Children in Worship" card I mentioned, here on the blog. I don't know if there are any copyright issues. It was apparently taken from an article published 18 years ago, and noted below.

Worship Is For Children!

Somehow we got the idea that worship is an adult activity that is inappropriate for children. Therefore, we have devised ways to keep children out of worship services, if possible, or at the very least, keep them entertained so that they don't interfere with our worship.

Our Lord disagrees. Jesus found the worship of children to be not only acceptable, but exemplary for us. The unadorned, unpretentious songs and prayer of children are exactly what God wants!

So, it is high time we find ways to include these children whom the Lord finds so delightful. How can we do that?

General Considerations

1. Sit together and worship as a family. A part of parental training includes worship training. No children should be left sitting alone or with other children; all children should be attached to some responsible adult. Keep in mind that we are one large family of believers and can help take responsibility for one another's children.

2. Be willing to allow for a certain amount of noise and distraction when children are present. At the same time, be sensitive to those around you who may not be accustomed to children's ways.

Help Your Child Worship

1. In the Worship Is For Children box you will find paper, pencils, and book-marker slips which you are welcome to use. Pick them up before the service begins.

2. Pick up a separate bulletin for your child. (Of course, this assumes that your church prints a bulletin that lists the order of the service... songs/hymns, readings, offering, etc. A more generic bulleting with a lot of announcements and 'news items' may be more of a distraction to a child.)

3. During the prelude, help your child look at the bulletin and then locate and mark hymns and Scripture readings with the bookmarks. Explain which parts of the service are congregational responses when he or she will participate. (I'm not sure what they mean by 'markers'... little sticky notes? We just follow along with the bulletin.)

4. You may wish to number the events in the Order of Worship, and as the service progresses, ask the child to check them off. This helps children keep track of where we are in the service.

5. Have your child participate with the congregation in standing, praying, reading, singing, and listening.

6. Assist your child in reading or singing by following the words with your finger or bookmark. Even if children are not old enough to read, this engages them and makes them a participant with the congregation.

7. Help your child further contribute by making sure he has his own offering, no matter now small.

8. Encourage your child to participate in prayer by saying "Amen."

9. During a Baptism or Lord's Supper, briefly and quietly explain the different aspects of the sacrament as they take place. View questions as an opportunity for teaching rather than an interruption of your worship.

10. During the sermon:
* Have the child write the sermon text and main points on his note paper.
* Listen for tangible concepts, key words or phrases, and ask your child to draw them. This will help solidify the main thoughts of the sermon.
* Listen for sermon applications appropriate for a child and have him draw himself doing those things.

Help Your Child Prepare For Worship

1. Allow time for the bathroom and a drink between Sunday School and the worship service.

2. Do not rush prior to the worship service. Your children will reflect your relaxed mood.

3. At home make it a project to learn and use things used in worship at church: the Lord's prayer, the Doxology, and the Apostles' Creed.

4. Emphasize the positive, happy things in worship. Encourage good behavior by special attention to your child -- give hugs and have physical contact.

5. After the service, discuss what happened there and listen to your child's comments and questions. Avoid making critical or demeaning comments about the worship service; your child will pick up your critical spirit and become cynical himself.

6. Give priority to worship as a family. It is difficult to convince our children that worship is important if we never read the Bible or pray at home, and the least little problem keeps us away from church!

7. Do not let worship be a Sunday morning experience only. Let your child see you personally spending time in worship; worship regularly as a family; and live in such a way that your worship is not hypocritical.

-- adapted from an article in the Presbyterian Journal, April 29, 1981

I really appreciate the gentleness with which the expectations are stated - in terms of being considerate of others. (General Considerations, #2)

FWIW, our church does have a nursery, for kids up to about age 2. Many parents keep their littlest ones in church up until the sermon, so they get to practice church behavior at a time when their little noises and wiggles are less distracting (during songs, offering, etc.) And we are not a full-on "Family Integrated" church, in that we also have Sunday School. Personally, I think it's the right 'formula' for us; the kids get taught God's Word "at their own level" (while we are in adult Sunday School), and then we are all together for the Worship Service.

Our church provides 5x7 cards and pencils, and the pastor encourages the kids to take notes. He helps by clearly noting his points during the sermon. The kids stick the notes to the refrigerator in the church kitchen. The following Sunday he acknowledges the kids by name, from the pulpit. That's very encouraging! The littlest kids leave him pictures, and when the college kids are home on breaks, they often leave him their notes too.

IMO, kids miss out on much more than they gain when they are sent off to Children's Church. At an age when they should be developing an appetite for spiritual meat they are fed a steady diet - not even of spiritual milk - but all too often twinkies and soda-pop. And they miss out on things like baptisms, dedications, missionary visits, Lord's Supper, etc. But mostly, they are not (being) part of the Church Family. Church shouldn't be all about their peers. And - honestly - I know going to church isn't always "fun" for kids. I have something more important, more profound, in mind than "fun".

Something I've also found helpful, as a mom, is adopting a little bit of a Jewish mentality. To a Jew, the sabbath began the evening before. I try to prepare my house (get cleaning done), lay out clothes for my boys, and sometimes prep my meal (at least have it planned) by Saturday afternoon. I wouldn't be legalistic about any of that, but when I pull it off it frees me up to be more relaxed and enjoy Sunday without feeling rushed or harried.

One thing I've been meaning to ask our Pastor to consider doing is to post online the sermon text and maybe the hymns/choruses by late in the week. That way we could read through the verses and possibly the hymns on Saturday evening, after dinner, and let them start working into our hearts before we arrive Sunday morning. There's an old book by Karen Mains called "Making Sunday Special" that has a lot of helpful ideas. She takes the Jewish thing a lot further, with having a special Shabbat meal on Saturday night, for instance.

And - to those of you who don't know me in real life - if we can do this, you can do this. My oldest son (12yo) could be the poster child for ADHD. Sometimes I let him draw to keep his hands occupied and he actually listens better. My middle son (10yo) is profoundly deaf in one ear and has a moderate-to-severe hearing loss in his "good" ear, so he isn't catching everything that is said from the pulpit. And, honestly, my youngest (7yo) sometimes falls asleep on one of our shoulders and - not that I encourage sleeping through the service(!) - how sweet is that, to fall asleep in God's house, with God's people, hearing God's Word? At any rate, two of my three would be considered "special needs" kids, and they all manage this just fine.

(Oh good grief, now that I've said that we'll probably have some behavioral blow-out tomorrow, just to keep me humble!)

Hope that helps :0)

UPDATE, Sunday morning, 11:30: God is gracious. The boys all behaved :0)

Dead Deer... Walking

From Montana... taken by a camera with a motion sensor...

Friday, March 6, 2009

You had me at "hello"

A little over a year ago we were "church shopping".

Oh, how I hate that phrase... it suggests that we flit from church to church, as if they were nothing more than shops in a mega-mall and we were trying them on, like outfits, to see which we liked best. (Or which made us look best? Even worse.)

I could use religious language and say we were "seeking a church home." And we were.

Sometimes you have to leave a church. Or, rather, you have to acknowledge that the church has left you. In an unintended ironic twist, our former church once had a message with the theme 'The Church has left the Building." Sadly, it seemed all too true. So we searched.

Having belonged to only two churches for most of my 40+ years, visiting new churches was a bit of an adventure, a chance to sample from the smorgasbord of Christianity. So many to choose from. Different sizes, different styles, different beliefs...

It was also exhausting.

Years ago I helped deliver a sailboat from Portland to Honolulu. During the night, especially, we depended on the radar to warn us of any other boats we might encounter. (Though that may seem unlikely, in the middle of the Pacific, it happened at least twice. And when you are in a 42' sailboat, under sail, and a huge container ship is bearing down on you in the dark, it's fairly alarming significant.) But sometimes the radar showed "ghosts". (Not that kind of ghosts, but things that weren't there.) With the rocking of the boat, it was probably reflecting off waves that were larger than the others. False alarm.

As we visited unfamiliar churches, I had a similar experience. My radar was working like crazy, analyzing everything I saw and heard - what was said, what was meant, who was saying it. The Bible praises the Bereans (Acts 17:11), but I began to wonder if my "radar" was pinging on things that weren't there. I was always evaluating what we experienced - "Is this right? Is this wrong? Is this just different than what I'm used to? Does this really matter?" It's hard work. It's tiring to be that vigilant all the time. I wanted to find a church where I could rest.

And, thankfully, there were churches we visited that didn't ping our radar. I know that no church is perfect, but there were churches that were oases in a dry land.

So, why did we choose the one we did? Honestly, I knew the first day we visited. They had me at hello.

Oh, I loved the aesthetic beauty of being in an architecturally traditional chapel with snowy fir trees in view out the window. But that's no reason to choose a church. I loved the enthusiastic hymn-singing by everyone in the chapel, led by (*gasp!*) just the pastor, the pianist, and - for a couple of choruses - two guys with a guitar and a bass.

Even more, I love that the Pastor opens God's Word and preaches it. Every. Single. Sunday.

And then there was the card in the pew rack. (Yes, the chapel has pews.)

They welcomed my children. The chapel is full of families, with children. Right there in the worship service. Not off being entertained by some high octane willow-creek-wannabe children's program.

Oh, there is Sunday School, where the kids are in age-groups, and taught the Bible at their level of understanding. And I love that. But they are welcomed into church. They are a part of (not apart from) the church family.

The card in the pew rack was adapted from an 28 year old article in the Presbyterian Journal. (Our Pastor is PCA, the church was originally a reformed church plant, but it is non-denominational.) It starts out like this:

Worship Is For Children!

Somehow we got the idea that worship is an adult activity that is inappropriate for children. Therefore, we have devised ways to keep children out of worship services, if possible, or at the very least, keep them entertained so that they don't interfere with our worship.

Our Lord disagrees. Jesus found the worship of children to be not only acceptable, but exemplary for us. The unadorned, unpretentious songs and prayer of children are exactly what God wants!

So, it is high time we find ways to include these children whom the Lord finds so delightful. How can we do that?

General Considerations

1. Sit together and worship as a family. A part of parental training includes worship training. No children should be left sitting alone or with other children; all children should be attached to some responsible adult. Keep in mind that we are one large family of believers and can help take responsibility for one another's children.

2. Be willing to allow for a certain amount of noise and distraction when children are present. At the same time, be sensitive to those around you who may not be accustomed to children's ways.

That was followed by 17 suggestions (not rules) of ways to help your child prepare for and participate in the worship service.

And it's working. I see families together in church. I hear children's voices singing along with the adults. All the kids are encouraged to take notes, and leave them stuck to the fridge in the kitchen, for the pastor - who acknowledges them by name from the pulpit the following Sunday. Little whispers ask questions when they don't understand. And - yes - sometimes moms or dads have to excuse themselves with noisy or wiggly little people. (1 Corinthians 14:40)

And this church is a family. Salt and light in a dark world. Quite a contrast to churches following the "sinner-sensitive" model. Churches that remind me of George Orwell, with their so-called "Pro Kids" orientation.

So there, that's my soap-box. I don't climb up there very often :0) We stayed for a lot of reasons, but they had me with hello.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

No, really, I'm listening...

I just love those deep, heart-to-heart conversations married couples have. You know, like the other night...

Kerry and I had gone to bed. The wind whistled around the house, and as I snuggled down into the cozy flannel sheets Kerry asked me how was the baby shower, I had just attended. I gave a (brief! honestly!) rundown of who came and the 'agenda', and the two babies.

(Mumbly, snorty noises...) "Mmmph, um... were they all left-handed?"

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Babur's Gardens

We're studying India this week. The boys were intrigued by Babur's garden ("The Garden of Scattered Flowers"), and so I sent them outside to make their own.



and Tate's - which started on a plate, and then was transplanted outside.

I think Tate's has the most detail, with a mound of moss, fir-needle grass, a 'tree', a sun-shade with a patio and bench, and - my favorite - running water. :0)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Get your sunglasses...

Last night I went to a baby shower for TWO "chapel babies", born fairly close together. I love the size of the chapel. I think every woman was invited, and most of them came. We've been attending there nearly a year now, and most of the faces are familiar. I can even connect who goes with whom, by family/marriage, but I'm still putting names to lots of the faces.

Just picture the two moms, in matching arm chairs, with pink balloons and a pile of pink "booty" at one end of the room, and blue balloons and a bunch of boy-stuff at the other end. :0) I'd already given a quilt to the mom of the girl, so just wanted to give her a little something to open, and was able to finish a quilt for the mom of the boy just in time.

What with all the dark gray days we've had, it was fun to work with some really bright fabrics. And even more fun to be able to use more of the unusual pieces my neighbor gave me. It's a bright one...

Ignore the date on the photo. Techno-boob, that I am, I had no idea that was on, nor how to turn it off.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Simple Woman #8

FOR TODAY March 2, 2009

Outside My Window... Thick, dark gray clouds, tree branches tossing in the wind, whitecaps on the lake… and the possibility of the power going out. We live near a lake, surrounded by hills. No matter what direction the wind is blowing on a larger scale, storms seem to swirl around (in this valley) so that the wind blows right up the lake at our house. And isn’t it typical for March to be windy?!

I am thinking... as usual, making mental lists of everything I want to get done today.

I am thankful for...
all the cleaning we got done over the weekend. The laundry is caught up, the bathrooms are presentable, the school room is inviting, and my blue kitchen floor shines... briefly. AND a former client of Kerry's gave us ABSOLUTELY FREE a TRAMPOLINE! The boys are excited about their "tram-POP-o-line" (family joke), but we can't put it up until we finish the back fence. So I'm also thankful for motivation applied to a job I want done :0)

From the learning rooms... Ahhh, the start of a new week. :0) I was up late last night and have not gotten everything ready, like I usually do, but we’ll be starting a unit on Weather (appropriate for March, when there’s such variety), and touching briefly on Indian history (the nation of India, not the Indians of North America) and spending more time on Explorers, which I think will really interest the boys.

From the kitchen... I hear the boys emptying the dishwasher and putting the clean dishes away. Food? Nothing yet, but I’ll be making lavender cookies for the shower tonight.

I am wearing... * ugh! * Gray sweats, blue shirt, big warm purple sweater, and thick fuzzy socks that (oh no!) have a hole in one heel. But I’ll be changing before I leave the house.

I am creating... a quick baby quilt for the shower tonight – which is why I was up so late. TWO moms from church had babies. I’ve gotten to know one of the moms from bookclub, and had already brought her a gift. The other mom I recognize, but am embarrassed to admit that I didn’t even know she was pregnant. (That’s not an insult to her, just that I don’t remember seeing her lately!)

I am going... home all day :0) and the shower this evening.

I am reading... a biography of Queen Isabella of Spain (as in “Ferdinand and Isabella”, who are known for their involvement with Christopher Columbus and the Inquisition).

I am hoping... the power stays on (!) and to prioritize my time well today – lots to do.

I am hearing... hungry boys downstairs, waiting for breakfast… or not waiting.

Around the house... lots of pictures of my favorite people :0)

One of my favorite things... finishing projects!!!

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: organizing our lessons/plans for our Weather unit, digging into the explorers, lots of reading, and maybe starting another project (since my sewing stuff is all out already…)
Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Until I get a picture of the quilt, enjoy: