Sunday, June 29, 2008
To steal a line from a disappearing blog, I'm a great cook! Yup, my boys said so. In fact, they have said so repeatedly since coming home from Scout Camp!
Apparently, they weren't so impressed with the cooking there. Or was it the quantity? I know for sure they wolfed down the entire kitchen when they got home!
On another theme, I took an interior design style test and came up with this:
I am Botanical. Interesting. I have nothing wicker or floral. At the moment, I have no walls that are painted so boldly either. Of course, that could be because the previous owner painted over wallpaper to sell the house. After peeling wallpaper (badly) from one very small bathroom, I'm content with the rest of the house as is. Another interesting fact: J-Dawg tested the same. I promise I didn't influence his choices!
To take the test, go here.
My daughter tested as By the Seaside.
My husband's pick was Raffia. I think we're in trouble here!
And S-man's preference is Classic.
Thank you to Happy Hearts At Home for this link!
Saturday, June 28, 2008
That, folks, is the sorry state of my email folder. I'm not talking about the Spam folder (which I don't even glance at anymore with the pornographic first lines that knock them into Spam.)
Here is a snapshot of my Inbox today, first page:
Clothing sales from Chico's, Coldwater Creek, Blair.com
Other "important" sales notices from Quixtar, Shutterfly, Vitacost, The Christian Home, Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com (I actually buy a lot from B&N, but in the store where I can use my educator's discount)
Notices from the library, church calendar and newsletters
Advice from Ken and Daria Dolan
Items related to homeschooling: TJED in the Midwest email loop, a local homeschooling group list, a Missouri LDS homeschool list, a national LDS homeschool support group newsletter,
Book/news sites that I actually use/buy semi-frequently from such as: LDS Living, Deseret Book, the Hopkins family at ldfr.com
Of course, the occasional concerned email from somebody in Europe somewhere who wants to give me a whole lot of money for a little bit of help from me.
Yesterday, I received several emails from my parents and one from my sister along with comments from nice people who actually read and commented on my blog. Woohoo! But seriously, I delete over half my emails without a second glance. Nine tenths of the rest of it I keep out of guilt! I should be reading them. Like the Dolan newsletter. Who couldn't use some extra financial advice at least once in a while? But 2 or 3 times a week? Even once a week is more than my heart desires. As for the homeschool lists? I'm behind.
Because of the extra bulk, I overlook personal emails because of either the sheer quantity of "other" stuff or my avoidance of going there. Some of those decluttering techniques need to be employed, I fear!
Does anyone else have that feeling that they just want to change email accounts?
Friday, June 27, 2008
It struck me that my dog has a total expectation that everyone is his friend. He has no enemies, he has no fear, why shouldn't everyone fall in love with him? I had another dog, Bear, that was exactly the same way. Another huge behemoth. Never mind that I drag him away from the door before I open it and shut him outside where he can't overwhelm guests, never mind that people do indeed shrink away from him at first sight (even dog lovers). He is absolutely, totally convinced they are his friend. Even small children who are terrified of him become fascinated. His life is not complete until he gets a smile and at least a pat.
What a way to be!
Thursday, June 26, 2008
We just finished reading Here Lies the Librarian, by Richard Peck, and she began reading it to herself. I think she will actually finish this one. There are a couple of others in the Five Ancestors series she has read parts of, but I don't think she finished those. Maybe she has. This book is a wonderful book just from the literary end. Peck has outdone himself with his wordsmithing.
But dangle an opportunity to get sparring gear for my kids to progress in taekwondo? I'm kicking around options.
Funny how desires change, isn't it? Maybe that's the test of what "dreams" are vs. fancies.
Now I have a huge dream of getting my kids to enjoy certain subjects---like math and writing. I'm working on it. Speaking of which, I need some input here.
First, I found a description of Kid Talk Conversation Cards for writing ideas. Has anyone used it? What do you think of it? Better yet, have you used something online that you and your kids have particularly liked? Let me clarify: These are conversation or writing starters.
Second, what do you do to help your children enjoy math a little bit? Okay, to eliminate the groans anyway. My opening ambition is not mega-large. Given the resistance my kids have to it, maybe it is.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
I remember my mother had one of these when I was a little girl, and I learned to cook out of it! I even think it was a Better Homes and Gardens one. However, I don't think it required so many convenience foods as this one does. That is the one reason I have not bought a Junior cookbook before now.
Simply put, I don't buy very many convenience foods. I buy staples.
For example, the Leaning Tower Pizza recipe calls for refrigerated pizza dough, pizza sauce, and pizza cheese. I have no idea what pizza cheese is so I fall back on cheddar, mozzarella, and colby jack which I try to keep on hand anyway. Refrigerated pizza dough, to my knowledge, has never graced any residence I have ever lived in. And pizza sauce? I have spices and other seasonings as well as tomato sauce.
So why do I like this cookbook? The really cool, bright pictures. I can ask my kids what they want for dinner and they can flip this open, and see something dazzlingly delectable to eat. Then we cook using my recipes.
Of course, there are also recipes like Rock-n-Roll Smoothies that gets them excited about having a smoothie because of the cartoon Elvis on the page. The recipe is even one they can follow step by step.
The Salad Bowl has 3 good options that they will probably be able to make, and so it goes. (One of them saved my bacon when I had to come up with a summer salad for a women's meeting. It got rave reviews!)
I'm looking forward to having my kids make Rodeo Chili, Hula Stir-Fry, and a repeat of Fast Fixin' Fajitas. The fajitas were awesome! We bought steaks and cut them up rather than buying packaged beef stir-fry strips. Oh, yeah, the Ham Cannon Balls (meatballs) were really good too although I skipped the ground cooked ham because we didn't have any. And so it goes.
For someone like my kids and I that are visually oriented, this cookbook is totally awesome!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;6 A time to aget, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;8 A time to love, and a time to ahate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
(Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, KJV)
Who would have thought these verses would be some that would take a lifetime (so far) of pondering? Just like crops and field have their own seasons, so do we. Isn't it wonderful that in today's world, we really can do so many different things? Our grandmothers could only hope that day might someday come although I think our lives our much more complicated now. We have so many more decisions to make and we have so many more options now of how we want to create our lives. Sometimes that feels a little overwhelming to me, and I wish for a simpler day. It truly is a blessing to have the freedom to choose though as many events and people have shown me.
Monday, June 23, 2008
I hope they have a wonderful time and make friends and learn a lot, but I also hope they miss us a little too.
My husband even admitted that while he figured he would miss the boys, he didn't realize how much he would miss them. That's when he said that's why he couldn't go back to Unisys. He missed them jumping up to hug him when he got home.
They are so full of life! We need them.
A second concern is how "accountability" should never be left out of the equation. Like a certain, to be unnamed here, candidate who has announced he is not going to accept federal monies. On the face of it, that's wonderful. Deeper, however, it means that anyone or any organization can donate without fear of disclosure. Even deeper, that means the American public will not know who that person (this particular candidate or any other in the future) is really accountable to. It should be common knowledge that the person/organization who contributes the most is the one the receiver is the most accountable to. Very disconcerting.
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Friday, June 20, 2008
Here are some pictures of the aftermath of this morning's storm in our yard. Smallish puddle under the swing. Yesterday, you couldn't see dirt at all.
Remember, this is just from this morning's storm, not an accumulation! I dumped it out yesterday.
This next one is from yesterday's blowout.
The white bucket wasn't there before the wind began. It is ours; the kids use it all the time but it wasn't right there. The rust-colored one is our burn barrel, and it didn't move. We got off lucky. We just had smallish limbs come down and lots of leaves. Around town, a lot of trees were uprooted.
1. Sunshine. Sun has broken through a rather dark sky. Somehow it seems all that much more brilliant.
2. Children who play. They teach me to enjoy the moment. Dark clouds, thunderstorms, torrential rain and hail result in glorious playtimes in the ditch. Such is life.
3. Other women who keep encouraging me. I think this one is self-explanatory.
4. Shelter from the storms even though one of the roof repairs apparently was not adequate. The others were.
5. A loyal dog.
6. Good neighbors.
7. A supportive husband. Financially, spiritually, and emotionally.
8. A knowledge that God is watching over all and is guiding events. It will all work to our good, and he will see us through the process.
9. Fruit. I went and bought a bunch of watermelon, cantaloupes, peaches, nectarines and plums. So yummy!
10. Bread and the wherewithall to make more.
11. The freedom to educate our children in the way we see fit.
12. Growth. Okay, so I love it and I hate it. Overall, I need it, but that doesn't mean it's easy.
13. My children's goodness and innocence.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
My husband's workplace lost power and saw major hailstones. They were reported at 1 3/4" to 2" across. He was about 1 1/2 miles from the touchdown. They're working on battery power now.
After the storm was over, we ventured out and saw the road completely covered by a foot of water about 6 houses away. There is a major storm drainage system right there, and it was overwhelmed! The water took about an hour to go down. I was yelling at the kids to get out of the ditches and stay in the road because I was afraid it would be over their heads. Several of the homes (ours included) had rivers running between them. I kid thee not. A storm chaser vehicle passed while the kids played. Do I need to tell you they had a ball? And I forgot my camera!
I'm on the phone with my hubby, and he says the tornado touchdown looks like straight-line winds ripped straight through it. I hope no one was hurt. Trees are down all over. He's having a hard time coming south to come home. He says road crews are working amazingly quickly clearing roadways. That's good 'cause another storm is coming in. I hope our trees hold. Jim's getting closer to home. Yay!
Monday, June 16, 2008
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Saturday, June 14, 2008
My Father's Hands
By Paul M. Clements
When I was just a toddler, my first thoughts of my father were of how huge his hands were. So big, I could sit in his palm, diaper and all, like a little bird. It was a comfortable seat for me at that age. He was strong, and his hands were huge and meaty. He could hold me at arms length, and I still felt safe and secure. As I grew older and bigger, I noticed that I could no longer fit so securely in his palm. Still, his hands were big and strong. He could lift heavy things with ease. I marveled at his strength. I often looked at those hands in amazement, watching him use them to perform fatherly tasks. He was a great fixer, and could put a bicycle together, unclog a drain, sharpen a kitchen knife for my mother. Those were talented hands. He was especially adept at building cabinets and closets, repairing windows, leveling floors and laying tile. His hands could measure and mark, cut and saw, hammer and screw wood together like an artist painting or a sculptor carving.
As I grew older still, I found that those same hands could be an instrument of punishment. As any boy-child might, I occasionally transgressed. Then those hands of his would be swung like a paddle, usually aimed at my backside. I came to fear them, for they were still huge and strong-appearing to an eight or ten year old boy. Not that I didn't deserve the swats, or that they were inflicted with unusual cruelty. He was an old-fashioned father, who believed in instant correction for wrongdoing. So, in that fashion, I learned moral and ethical lessons from those hands.
When I entered my teen years, I began to notice changes in my own hands. They were becoming larger and bonier, and I often wondered if they would ever become as strong and capable as Dad's. By now, he was entering middle age, and his hands did not seem so huge, but appeared to be getting meatier. Ham-handed, I think they call it. It was as if he had muscles bulging out around the finger and knuckle bones. He certainly had a lot of strength in them, and Mom was always calling on him to open stuck jar lids. Sometimes, though, I began to notice there were tasks he could not perform barehanded. His need to resort to a wrench, or to a vise, or to a hammer, to accomplish some task, caused me to stop thinking of him as a superman. His hands were beginning too demonstrate his mortality, and I was recognizing it for the first time.
When I graduated from Navy recruit training, my fathers' hands changed again. Full of confidence, I returned home on leave feeling like I had at last attained manhood. My father hugged me at first sight, then, embarrassed a bit, he stepped back and extended his hand. We shook, and I realized that, at last, my hands were the same size as his. Not quite as strong yet, but getting real close. In later years, we worked together filing cars, doing yard work, building a house, undertaking renovations. His hands were still strong and capable, but now I saw them as normal man's hands. Large, calloused, strong. He could work outdoors in cold weather, with his hands turning red, and never complain. I learned stoicism from those hands in the cold of New England winters.
When I married, and had a child of my own, the circle of life began to close in on itself. I held my daughter in my own palm one day, and realized that that was my first impression of my father. I wondered if my daughter would remember me by my hands. As I looked at them, I realized how much like my fathers' hands they had become. Same size, same shape, same wrinkling of the skin. As I stroked her hair, I wondered how many times my father had used his hands on me in the same fashion, while I slept, unaware. A grandfather four times over by now, I noticed age creeping into my father's hands. More wrinkles, less muscularity, an occasional brown spot. Sometimes, he had to ask me to open a jar, or pick up a heavy object. His hands were becoming weak and bony. An old man's hands, crossed back and forth with blue veins, standing dearly under the loose skin.
Finally, his body began to malfunction. Several times he had to be hospitalized, and it was painful to me to see his hands pierced by needles and swathed in tape and gauze. Lifting a glass to his lips, his hands would shake, as if with the exertion. He lacked the old confidence in their power and utility, and moved objects carefully, lest they be spilled. Sometimes they did. At the very end, in a hospital emergency ward, he seemed to have difficulty just lifting those hands to wave "hi". Thin and bony, they remained motionless most of the time. Early one morning, I was summoned to the hospital to say my final farewell. As I took his lifeless hands in mine, and felt the warmth fading away, I realized how important those hands had been in my own life. The comfort, the safety, the help, the lessons they had offered. With a final comparison, I saw how much of him I had inherited. When last I saw those hands, folded together across his chest, clutching his prayer beads, I couldn't resist laying my own on top of them, mentally saying, "Thanks, Dad, for lending me a helping hand while I was growing up."
—Paul M. Clements can be reached by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Working In Town ~ Chapter 5
Week two will be featuring buttons. Laura, who disliked sewing once held a job making button holes to earn money to send her sister Mary to a college for the blind. You can link up and share your button collections, button identification and care, as well as button stories. Did you have a favorite dress with special buttons? Did you play in your grandmothers button box? Tell us about your button tales! Click here for information and to link at the host site, Quill Cottage.
"Button, button, who has the button" is a favorite game in my family. Growing up, we would often play this game after Monday night's Family Home Evening. One person hides a button between his/her hands and then goes around to each member of the family in order, sliding their hand between the other's hands while repeating "Button, button, who has the button," and slyly dropping the button in one of the outstretched hands. The trick is for someone to guess who is holding the button after completion of the line. That person becomes "it" or the first to get refreshments if it was time to end. My children enjoy it as much or more than my sister and I did as children!
Going through my mother's button box was a trip through memory lane because she always had cute buttons from clothing we had outgrown. She would take the buttons off before discarding the item. However, she also had a number of buttons from a grab bag she bought once, thinking they might be useful.
I have a collection of buttons that are exactly the same except for differing sizes and colors that I bought for my children to play sorting games with when they were small.
One of my favorite stories about buttons actually takes place in the book Caddie Woodlawn where her cousin comes to visit. This country is quite citified and Caddie longs to take her down a peg or two. One day, when she is wearing a dress with an unheard of number of buttons (I don't remember how many) and bragging about them, they take her out to feed the sheep. The sheep crowd up to her and eat all her buttons. I still love that story and remorse Caddie feels. Is there a child alive who doesn't feel this way at some time in their life?
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
One of my favorite quotes in the book comes toward the end when he interviews a prominent Islamic imam. This interview happens the day after he met with an inflammatory, extremist imam so he was somewhat concerned about his safety. This last Islamic interview was with Sheikh Abu Sneina. At the end, Feiler realized that the sheikh had suggested a way for all 3 groups to live together peaceably and asked him to speak about Abraham. The sheikh said, "'Abraham was a man of faith. He worshiped God, and was thankful for God. He invented monotheism. He had high values. If all people---not just Muslims, Christians, Jews---follow the correct path of Abraham, I'm sure life would be better. But we are not doing that. The situation we are facing is that people are living their daily lives far away from the truly faithful, and from Abraham. If we look beyond the details, which we may disagree about, and follow the principles of Abraham---truth, morality, and coexistence---then most of our problems will disappear.'"
I think this was one of the important notes to remember from this book. If we truly remembered the principles Abraham lived and taught as detailed in our scriptures (whether the Bible or Koran), and lived by them faithfully, our lives and world would be ever so much better! As we have progressed through this election year in particular and other years in general, I have often yearned for a world where we truly acted in love toward our fellow man. How much better off we all would be!
My rating: A thought-provoking read.
Monday, June 9, 2008
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Sunday, June 8, 2008
I found a blog that linked to this test.
I thought this description of my score was interesting:
As usual, I didn't care for the forced questions and even less for the final graph of rating the importance of issues. I have a terrible time understanding exactly what is implied by one-word questions. Remember, I argued for an entire quarter for an essay exam in one class!
You desire substantially less government control of economic activity and somewhat less government control over personal activity than is presently the case in the U.S.
Before anyone decides that we didn't have good family relationships, let me explain that we came from a highly verbal family. In other words, we talked! I know that I didn't see any benefit in complaining about the school situation because I didn't think there was any alternative.
As an adult, I realized that just about every teenager goes through garbage at some point at school. That was such an empowering moment for me to realize I wasn't the only one!
I thought it was interesting that my sister felt that we should have told Mother because she would have pulled us out and homeschooled us. I don't think so because I know (from conversations with her) that she had never heard of such a thing and would have tried to help in other ways. At that time, I was afraid my mother might go talk to the principal and/or teachers, and that could have backfired severely.
Ironically, my mother basically did homeschool us. The only subjects neither my sister nor I did well in were the ones Mother felt inadequate to help us with. Namely, science and math. The only time I brought home less than adequate grades was my last quarter in Maryland. Since my parents had already left and I flew to meet them in Denver, I intercepted the report card and destroyed it. That was the quarter a dear "friend" decided to spread miserable lies about me that I was sure everyone believed. I learned later that those who knew me understood those rumors were untrue, and nobody else cared.
Even though I didn't know of a solution and thought it pointless to tell my parents about what was going on, I did have a solid knowledge of who I was. I knew I was loved by my parents, and I knew I was a daughter of God. That knowledge strengthened me and created a reservoir that I drew on many times in my life. That is what our sons and daughters must know if they are to stay spiritually strong and morally clean. If my husband and I can only teach that to my children, we and they will be successful in this life.
Saturday, June 7, 2008
All in all, they enjoyed the video production.
So when we had the chance to go to A Midsummer's Night's Dream, produced by the Skinny Improv, I snatched at it. Hubby thought I was nuts to take the kids with us, but I insisted.
There was a "stream" near the stage that is a popular place for kids to play in the water so we had them bring their swimsuits. J-Dawg felt too old to play in the water, I think, so he sat by us and watched the people (and the kids playing in the water.) S-man and dd had no such inhibitions and had a ball splashing and "swimming".
They did take time out to enjoy the pre-show antics of some of the fairies though:
Amazingly, all 3 children took the opportunity to sit down to watch the show once it began. Even more amazingly, they went up to the front of the lawn where they could see and hear it better. They enjoyed it and were a little distressed when it seemed to end and very relieved to realize that was only the intermission.
For some reason, this picture isn't resolving very well. Click here to see the original.
On our way home, the boys started talking about Julius Caesar and comparing this one to that. Dd chimed in as well. Hubby raised his eyebrows at me, and I filled him in on their prior exposure to Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. At that he quoted his favorite part: "Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears I've come to bury Caesar, not to praise him." S-man called out, "That was Mark Antony!"
It's nice to see evidence that some of what they learn sticks!
Friday, June 6, 2008
This book resource list comes from the curriculum A Noble Birthright: Defenders of the Title of Liberty noted on the sidebar with a link. As you can see, the list may not be exhaustive but it is extensive! The books marked with a dot are those most recommended; the others are supplemental. I have noted the ones I own.
I began linking them to Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and other book sellers, but I got tired of searching for them. Some of these will be tricky to find!!! I'm hoping I can find many of them at our library---I recognize quite a few titles---if only they are from this library and not Kentucky's! There are some others that we have that are not on the resource list that we will likely use as well or in place of some I cannot find.
At the top of the sidebar, I have begun making a list of texts we will definitely be using this year. It is not complete since I tend to add/subtract texts throughout the year, but it represents the core curriculum. (A Noble Birthright covers history, geography, language arts, social studies, grammar, art, music, math, science, food, literature, dance and drama.)
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
"On Sundays Mary and Laura must not run or shout or be noisy in their play. Mary could not sew on her nine-patch quilt, and Laura could not knit on the tiny mittens she was making for Baby Carrie. They might look quietly at their paper dolls, but they must not make anything new for them. They were not allowed to sew on doll clothes, even with pins."
While I have never done a 9-patch quilt, I have begun a shoo-fly (and variations) quilt. We also own quilts my grandmother and Jim's grandmother made.
Here is my grandmother's quilt. As I understand it, she pieced this quilt and asked her sister-in-law Gertrude to quilt it. My grandmother's vision was very poor as she had cataracts. She was blind for the first 3 years of my father's life. When her vision finally returned, she had to wear "Coke-bottle" glasses just to see a very blurry image.
There is a story I was told about how my Grandma Ashcroft's home was always spotless. She was so concerned that she would be heavily criticized if her home was not clean that she would literally go over every inch of her living room with her hands to make sure nothing was out of place and that it was dust free. Back in those days, quilts were made out of leftover fabric from other sewing so there would have been a story behind every fabric. Unfortunately, I do not know the stories, but the care and love is obvious.
My husband's grandmother made the next quilt for him when he was married. I think it went everywhere with him! I need to repair some places where the stitching is torn, but even those are indicative of the comfort it brought him in hard times.
Do you or someone in your family quilt? Do you have a special quilt story? Then share it by linking up here. Perhaps your quilt is not hand made but special to you none the less, then share it too.
Monday, June 2, 2008
What pure and simple joy in a simple thing: spraying water. (That's my daughter while at the zoo.)
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