Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Unfinished thoughts, partial conclusions, half-ways done ideas!

I've had these thoughts running through my mind these last couple days and I'm trying to figure out how they mesh together, and I probably should wait to Blog about it until I have it figured out, but that'll never happen. You know what my life is like. I can't even go to the bathroom in peace, much less finish a thought. But, I figured I'd share anyways,  because if there's one thing about this Blog that is true.... it runs the gamut - from Greek Yogurt to my thoughts about the Bible. And sometimes one right after another.  Anyhow, in church our pastor has been preaching on the Patriarchs - you know, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Since I'm not in the nursery with the girls anymore, they're now quite used to our nursery staff, and I can be in church during the sermon I've enjoyed hearing what Pastor P has to say. We're on Jacob now, and quite honestly, the man was a mess. And I don't mean that flippantly. He had absolutely no integrity, his sons were quite violent (read Genesis ch. 34), he was blatant in the favoritism he showed among his family members and I just can't quite figure out why on earth God chose him and called him Israel. As I delve into this and really think about this I realize.... the Bible only gives us a snapshot of this man. There's relatively little about who he really was and if you think about it.... what was he like on a daily basis. Really, what kind of person was he? Jacob has always bothered me and as we are studying him, he's bothering me even more.  But, what bothers me about him is the kind of person he is and things he does. It's his character that bothers me. OK, so there's that.

Then there's this. This is from today's lesson in "My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers.
"Paul was not overly interested in his own character. And as long as our eyes are focused on our own personal holiness, we will never even get close to the full reality of redemption. Christian workers fail because they place their desire for their own holiness above their desire to know God. “Don’t ask me to be confronted with the strong reality of redemption on behalf of the filth of human life surrounding me today; what I want is anything God can do for me to make me more desirable in my own eyes.” To talk that way is a sign that the reality of the gospel of God has not begun to touch me. There is no reckless abandon to God in that. God cannot deliver me while my interest is merely in my own character."

And then, today in Bible class we were reading about Abraham and God's covenant with Abraham. And how the Bible said:
Genesis 15:6  And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness. 

And so I'm wondering and thinking and chewing on the idea that the relationship with God is what's important. And that's what the Bible focuses on in the stories of the Patriarchs in Genesis. God's Covenant relationship with these men. I know, on the surface that's like a "duh!", but when you really think about it.... how does that work? How does that flesh out in my life? I'm so concerned with being a good mom, a good wife, a good friend, a good daughter, a good daughter-in-law, a good pet owner and my prayers center around the things that I do rather than my own relationship with God. My own issues of really trusting God. Really trusting God. With those inner soft spots of my life. And it's not that I don't think what we do doesn't matter to God.   I think it does. But, there's also a lot more than that. And that's what I'm trying to figure out.

How do things get out of control so quickly?

A friend of mine from church stopped by this afternoon. She's a wonderful woman and really absolutely and completely non-judgmental. I really love M to death.  She was cleaning out her office and had some scratch paper she asked if we'd like to have and of course I said yes. We are always in need of drawing paper.  But, as I invited her in, I just realized how awful my house looked. It really does look awful. Photos wouldn't do it justice, or I'd post them.  There is just stuff everywhere. I know part of this is due to the fact that we homeschool and while we're home, I cannot be getting things picked up. We're doing school. I think another part of this comes from my Depression Era Sensibilities. "Oh, don't throw away that 2 inch piece of yarn. Here, stick it in this basket with all the other 2 inch pieces of yarn. YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN YOU MIGHT NEED THAT!"  So, M and I were talking about organization, specifically the school room and I was telling her, I know we could do better here, but if we were going to re-do things, it would take some thought and some time to think about it and I just don't have time.  And that is where I despair. I don't even have a minute to think. Things are just piled up here in the house all over the place. I don't know where to put anything because the minute I'm trying to think about where it goes I get interrupted. Someone is fighting, someone needs a diaper change, something is happening and I just can't even get a chance to figure out how to organize anything. So, it just gets piled up everywhere and then when people come over I feel embarrassed because my house looks so awful.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Winter on the Farm

Well, I wish it were the farm. As it is, it's our little urban plot here that we pretend is our farm. Here's our Thompson Grape Vine. Hubby spent a lot of time Saturday pruning it. Now, it's ready to produce.
This one, the Red Flame (my personal favorite) still needs a little work.
Another things that needs to be done is dormant spraying. This keeps the bugs and fungus and all sorts of other junk off the trees.
This is my fruit salad tree. It's perfect for an urban farm. It's plum rootstock, but it produces, through the magic of grafting, not only plums but peaches and nectarines.
You should see it in the spring. The plum branch blooms white, the peach branch blooms light pink and the nectarine branch blooms dark pink.
And then there's work to be done on the roses. Hubby pruned most of them for me, but there were still two left to do, so I got those done. This last one was a mess. It had so much stuff that had to go.
But, we had a big pile of this at the end.
And this is what they look like when they're done!
Of course, my little camera absconder took off with the goods. It's always interesting to see what she likes to take pictures of. Usually it's herself making faces.
And here she is!
In all her glory!
I still have lots of work to be done in the yard, but I still prefer yardwork to housework. When yardwork is done, it's done. I can mop my floor one afternoon and five minutes later it's a mess, but when my roses are pruned, they're done!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Saturday Night Freebie

It was 4:30 this afternoon and I was outside pruning my Iceberg roses and making a huge pile of clippings, knowing full well that the green waste container was almost full, but also knowing full well that my engineer husband would probably find a way to make it all fit, which he did. But anyhow, so it was 4:30 this afternoon and I was having this conversation with myself.
 "What are you planning to make for dinner?"
 "I don't know. And I don't want to think about it."
 "Yes, but it's 4:30, you need to make dinner soon."
 "Pizza. We'll order pizza."
 "Uh, huh. You've eaten out how many times this week? And pizza's not exactly low-carb."
 "I don't know, I don't want to think about it."
"Yes, but it's 4:30..."
"La-la-la-la... I can't hear you!"
Well, being the mom and all, I did eventually have to face the reality of dinner and began searching through the freezer in the garage with a baby on my hip hoping to find inspiration. She'd turn upside down when I'd bend over to see what was on the bottom shelf. That didn't stop her, though, from grabbing an Otter Pop and start sucking on the wrapper. So, she found Otter Pops and I wound up with a package of frozen chicken thighs. Three minutes later the thighs are in the microwave and I'm on the Net looking up quick recipes for chicken thighs. Believe it or not, I got a hit. "Easy Garlic Broiled Chicken". It was really good and I'm sharing the recipe with you just in case you are ever staring into your freezer, with or without an Otter Pop grabbing baby, hoping for inspiration. I did tweak it a bit. Here's the tweaked version. 1/2 cup butter (I actually used 1/2 cup plus about 2 tbs.) 3 tbs. minced garlic 3 Tbs. soy sauce 1Tbs. Balsamic vinegar 1/4 tsp. black pepper 1 Tbs. dried parsley 6 boneless chicken thighs Mix everything but the chicken in a bowl and microwave till the butter is melted (about 2 minutes). I sprayed cooking spray in a 9x13 pan, put the chicken in the pan, evenly poured the sauce over it and cooked at 350 degrees for about 45 45 minutes. I also roasted some carrots as I was baking the chicken. It was delicious. The kids loved it. So, there you are. Your Saturday freebie.

Friday, January 27, 2012

This is Soooooo Good!

Have you ever tried Greek Yogurt? You probably have. I am always so behind the times. Always a day late and a dollar short. Anyhow, I never had. Before now. I know it's all the rage, but I've never really been the fashionable type. You know, always behind the fads. And I only do them if I really like them. But, anyhow, when I'd hear of Greek Yogurt I'd always imagine it tasted like feta cheese. Is feta cheese even Greek? Maybe it is. (Or maybe it's Roman or Assyrian) I do like feta cheese. In small doses on my salad. I just couldn't imagine eating feta cheese by the spoonful, so I stayed away from Greek Yogurt. And then I found out that it had twice the protein and half the carbs of regular yogurt, so I decided to try it.

I got this little container from Fresh & Easy (My favorite store. I go there just to browse. They have the best breads. Not a good thing for a person trying to go low carb. So, actually, the store is really working against me.) and decided to try it. I doctored it up a bit.
Oh my word. It is the most wonderful thing. Ambrosia. Pure ambrosia, I'm telling you. It's so rich and creamy. Very un-feta cheese like. It's my new favorite snack!

What am I willing to Suffer?

The whole idea of suffering absolutely terrifies me. I'm sure it terrifies you. Suffering is not a fun thing. It's not a happy thing. And yet.... I've been reading a lot about suffering lately.  Today in Bible we read about St. Perpetua and her slave girl, both Christians who suffered martyrdom because of their faith. It's a beautiful story, but frightening, when you think about it. The two women, along with other Christians were put into the amphitheater with wild animals and then ultimately died by the sword. And get this, Felicitas, who was the slave girl to Perpetua was pregnant when they were imprisoned.  She was concerned that she wouldn't be able to die for her Lord because the law forbade pregnant women from being executed. Fortunately (?) for her, she gave birth two days before the "games" and a Christian family adopted her baby and she was martyred. If it were me, I'd be looking for a way out, and she had it, but didn't take it. She didn't want it.  Then, we've been reading a very wonderful biography of William Bradford. He was one of the Separatists and the second governor of Plymouth Colony. He left his family in England to go to Holland and then on to America, simply for the privilege to worship God the way he believed was Biblical.  He not only suffered the starvation and illness the other Pilgrims suffered, but he lost his precious wife Dorothy shortly upon arrival in America and then he himself got sick and lost all his possessions when the Common House that was also a hospital caught fire.  Eventually he did remarry and had a family and earned much respect as a wise governor.  But, I look at these people and see that their suffering was not arbitrary or by chance. St. Perpetua was a noblewoman, who, had she only recanted her faith, could have lead a life of ease and happiness.  William Bradford was born into a good family and could have gone into the family business, but his family were strong Church of England people. So, Bradford chose his faith over all that and suffered much hardship because of that choice.  Now, I know that Christians are not being put to the sword in our country. And, I also know that I can pretty much decide how and where I want to worship. But, I also know that a lot of times I make decisions not based on conviction of what I believe, but rather on what is most comfortable for me. I don't want to put myself out, or work too hard, or whatever. And those inconveniences don't even come close to suffering.   In my  morning devotions, I've gotten to the part in Matthew 10 where Jesus is warning His disciples of the persecution they will suffer on account of Him. But, this is how Jesus comforts His disciples...
 "Matthew 10:28  And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But even the hairs of your head are all numbered.  Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. " (English Standard Version)
And this is what Matthew Henry, in his wonderful commentary says regarding this..."Note, it is the duty and interest of Christ's disciples, not to fear the greatest of their adversaries. They who truly fear God, need not fear man; ...  Be the times never so difficult, enemies never so outrageous, and events never so threatening, yet need we not fear, yet will we not fear, though the earth be removed, while we have so good a God, so good a cause, and so good a hope through grace.
 A good reason against this fear, taken from the limited power of the enemies; they kill the body, that is the utmost their rage can extend to; ... they are not able to kill the soul, nor to do it any hurt, and the soul is the man. ...  The soul is killed when it is separated from God and his love, which is its life, and is made a vessel of his wrath; now this is out of the reach of their power. Tribulation, distress, and persecution may separate us from all the world, but cannot part between us and God, cannot make us either not to love him, or not to be loved by him, Rom_8:35, Rom_8:37. "

And so, as I think of the decisions I make regarding my faith, I hope I have the courage to step out and act on my convictions regardless of the suffering that may come and cling to the promises of God made to those He loves.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

It's a good thing.....

** to celebrate your birthday all week long. Tonight my parents took us (as in the whole family) out for steaks for my and Hubby's birthday (even though Hubby's birthday was in October, they hadn't taken us out for his birthday yet and that's what our family does, go out to dinner for birthdays)

** to have a good friend who sends you two birthday cards for your birthday.

** to have three kitties who sleep in the garage and are soft and furry and purr, instead of one dog who attacks you every time you go outside.
This is Tabby, our squatter kitty. She just showed up one day and started eating our cats' food. We kept shooing her away until one day we gave up and decided to keep her. She's a very nice kitty.
This is Socks. She's very persnickety.  She was rescued as a kitten from the wood pile in back of the Fastrip in a neighboring town. She's a very nice kitty and can catch a June bug in mid air.
This is Nikki. She's our old grandma kitty. She's rather grouchy, but we love her.

**  to have five wonderful children

**  to have a couple of great books to read!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

This and That....

Today is just one of those scattered days. Nothing much going on. The kids actually got their school work done on time, which was good.
 I've found a series of great books that I've been buying the kids for history. They're biographies and they're awesome. The series I'm reading from now is called the "Colonial Leaders " series. Since we're in the 1600's now, I'm reading the biography of William Bradford. It's really well written and interesting. The boys have been enjoying it.  I got another one, the biography of Jonathan Edwards and am looking at more in this series.  The next set is called "Revolutionary War Leaders" and then there's "Famous Figures of the Civil War Era". It's often hard to find good biographies for young children, but I've definitely hit a gold mine here.
We've got a climber in the family. None of my other kids were climbers but this one here.... she's a climber.

I'm always having to watch out for where she is or where she's going. She's been loving climbing up on chairs lately, but then she gets stuck (like she is in the picture) and yells until someone gets her down. She was yelling as I snapped the picture, but only for a few seconds. We maintain a strict policy of "no children or animals are harmed in the making of this blog!" lol.
I had a good birthday dinner last night. We had Mexican food and the kids were very well behaved. One of the other patrons commented on it. That always makes me feel good. Then we went to Baskin Robbins for dessert. I had Snickers Bar icecream. It was delicious! And now, it's seriously back on my diet. I fell off the wagon at Thanksgiving, it ran over me and hasn't been heard from since. And the way my clothes feel is telling the tale of my misdeeds.  So, it's time to get serious!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy Birthday...

to me!  Yes, it is. Today is my birthday. Ya wanna know how old I am? I'm not telling.  Sometimes, I feel a lot younger than I am, mostly because I have children a lot younger than most people my age do.  Most of my peers have children in junior high, high school or even college. One gal I went to high school with is actually a grandmother. Yikes. I can't imagine that.  But, I did start late getting married and having kids and all. Oh well.  So, what am I doing on my birthday. Oh, the usual. Laundry. Cleaning house. Yelling at my kids to get their school work done. You would think, being my birthday and all, they would be nicer to me. Maybe get their work done without being told 40 million times. But, Duh-duh keeps going around saying things like, "It's your birthday, Mom. You're -- years old today." and he keeps saying it. Over and over again. And I'm like, would you just get your school work done and stop reminding me how old I am!  Oh, but I have had a few calls with birthday wishes from my mom and my mother-in-law. And my dear friend had us all over for lunch. That was very nice. My favorite birthday party I ever had was when I was in Brazil. See, I've had a winter birthday all my life. I hate winter birthdays.  But, in Brazil, being south of the equator and all, January is mid-summer. So, I had a bbq for my birthday. We had these little Brazilian kabobs,that I can't for the life of me remember their names, but they're really good and you eat them with this salsa stuff and this other stuff, I can't really remember what it was. I can see it in my mind.... oh, forget it. But it was really good. You, know, when you get to be my age, and you have five kids, your mind really goes to pot! I can't remember squat anymore. Brazilian food is awesome. Have I mentioned that before? I mean, it really is.  OK. So, that was my favorite birthday. And now, this is just a birthday.  But, I did tell Hubby that I was not cooking dinner on my birthday, so we're all going out to eat to this little Mexican restaurant in town. We always go there with the family because they serve you chips right away and the kids can just sit and eat those. And the service is fairly quick.  Anyhow, so Happy Birthday to me. I'm going to go make myself a cup of coffee.

Monday, January 23, 2012

All Aboard.......

Ahhh, it's finally quiet. There was some crying. You know, you can tell the cry of a tired child. It just has this distinctive sound. There were a lot of tired children here tonight, because we just got home about half an hour ago after a very long day.  It was a very good day. But a very long day. Our homeschool group took our annual field trip up to our state capitol via Amtrak.  We didn't leave too awfully early this morning, and had a great ride up there. They give us our own train car, so the kids can basically run amok without disturbing the real passengers. I had a great time on the way up, too, because I got to talk with my homeschool mom friends. We have wonderful people in our homeschool group and it's always a treat to be able to sit and have a lengthy visit with these women. Hubby came too. Actually, there were a lot of dads there, so he got to talk to some dads as well!  We got up to Sacramento around noonish and went to the train museum.
The train museum is a really great place. It's huge and has real train cars. We saw the inside of an old Pullman sleeper car and a fancy schmancy dining car. They used to use real china and serve gourmet food. Now they use plastic and serve hamburgers. There was a whole section on model trains, too and we saw on that was so tiny that the whole train set could fit in a brief case. Now that's small. It's a Z scale. I think the thing said it was 1:220. After that we walked around old town a little. The boys played around on some of the train cars parked there and we walked up the riverwalk along the mighty Sacramento River.
Then we had a late lunch/early supper at my favorite Old Town restaurant, Fat City. Actually, it's the only restaurant I know. Back in the day, when I was teaching, we used to go to teacher conventions in Sacramento and we'd always eat at Fat City for dinner. And, I'm the type of person that I don't just go try new restaurants unless they come highly recommended. I know, I know, I'm probably missing out on a lot, but I hate eating bad food. So, we stick with what we know. But, I ordered a burger and Hubby ordered a salad and we shared. The kids all got kids meals and they were happy with that. Then we went to the candy store and the kids spent all their money on candy (Missie Lou got this big ol' spiral lollie-pop thing and the boys got a huge tape of gum!) and when they got back on the train they were all sugar-sick. We pulled into home around 9:00pm and threw everyone in bed. After they brushed, of course.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Yessiree! That's my Hubby!

OK, Hubby would never tell anyone this because he's a very modest type of guy, but I just felt the need to brag him up a bit!  See that machine there on the cover of that magazine.  He designed that machine. It's his baby right there.  They debuted it at the trade show in Phoenix last fall. No, that's not the trade show that I went to.  The one I went to was in Las Vegas.  Yeah,  that was the one where I sat and ate icecream all day while Rocco the cabana boy massaged my feet. Well, maybe not that last part.  But anyhow. The trade show in Phoenix was the one where Hubby went and I stayed home and took care of all five children.  Anyhow, it's an awesome lift and "Lift and Access Magazine" (the trade magazine for his industry) really gave it good reviews.  So, we're really proud of him over here.  He actually took two machines to that show and they both got good reviews. Hubby is pretty smart and he's a really good engineer.  So, I just had to share that. Because he probably never would!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Thought for Today!

  But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.   For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
2Corinthians 12:9-10

An Interesting Conversation and Thoughts that Followed

"Preach the Gospel at all times. And when necessary, use words." 
St. Francis of Assisi
Yesterday Bubba comes in and asks, "Mom, is J going to hell?" (J is a neighbor girl, who does not share our faith). Ok, why couldn't he come up with some easy question? Like, where do babies come from? I'd rather have answered that one any day of the week. I forgot what I said, exactly. Because.... what do you say to a question like that? You just kind of mumble and hope it makes sense. I didn't answer the question directly, but I did admonish him to be kind in how we speak to our friends and that if we truly want to share the Gospel with them, we didn't start things out like, "You're going to hell!"  Now, I know that that kind of talk is "typical", I guess, of children. The Bible does say that foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. I remember some kid saying that to me when I was a child. Children fling insults at each other, using them as weapons against each other.  And "you're going to hell" is a big weapon. However, this morning, as I thought about it, I knew I couldn't let it slide. So, I talked to the kids about it in Bible class. I asked them what the best method of sharing our faith was.  They came up with "praying, reading the Bible, etc." They had no clue as to what I was talking about.  So, we talked about how if you say you love Jesus, but you act unkindly, are they really going to believe that you love Jesus?  And then I brought up the incident with J.  And basically I told them that they were forbidden to talk to their friends about God unless they were genuinely interested and cared that their friend knew Jesus.  Because it occurred to me that what they were doing yesterday, using God as a weapon to hurt their friends was actually in violation of the third commandment. (Deuteronomy 5:11  "'You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.) And I told them that. I'm not sure if what I said sunk in at all. I hope it did. But, whether it did or not, they have been told. And I will continue to pray about it. I am not very good about sharing my faith, I'll admit. I'm not one to sit on an airplane with someone and share the Gospel.  But, I've had some (just a few at soccer practice) conversations with J's mother (just normal, mom-to-mom conversations) and would like to build a relationship with her and hopefully.... hopefully be able to share my faith.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How is Your Day?

I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned this before, but Kevin Henkes is one of my favorite children's authors. He's the creator of Lilly. Anyhow, he also writes books for much younger children and his style (both writing and illustrating) is so different than his Lilly books, but equally as delightful. Anyhow, this afternoon I read his book "A Good Day" to Cee-cee as I was putting her down for a nap and it occurred to me that bad days can turn into good ones so quickly, and sometimes things that make a day bad initially, can be what makes the day good.  He starts out like this.... 
"Little yellow bird lost his favorite tail feather.  Little white dog got her leash all tangled up in the fence. Little orange fox couldn't find his mother. And little brown squirrel dropped her nut. BUT THEN....
Little brown squirrel found the biggest nut ever. Little orange fox turned around, and there was his mother. Little white dog worked herself free and ran in circles through the dandelions. And little yellow bird forgot about his feather and flew higher than he ever had before.  And there's more... A little girl spotted a perfect yellow feather, picked it up, tucked it behind her ear, and ran to her mother, shouting, 

Dumb Writer's Block!

I hate it when I don't have anything to say. It's just been one of those days. Haven't even had time to think. Thankfully, today isn't nearly as bad as yesterday. Actually, today hasn't been bad at all. It's just been a day. Started out with a little Oswald Chambers. He really makes me think. "To serve God is the deliberate love-gift of a nature that has heard the call of God."  Hmm. Now, that's something to chew on!

I've been a bit cold all day. I don't know what that's all about.  It's sunny out. It's been sunny out for about 2 months now. We really need the rain. Everything is so dry. My allergies are killing me. I've got vertigo again. I had to get up in the middle of the night to get Baby a drink of water because she was coughing and hacking (because of her allergies - she's only 15 months old and the dr. already has her on Claritin - there is only one person in our family who is not on regular allergy medicine) and I about took a header into the wall because I was so dizzy. I'm going to try some meclizine, as was recommended by the doctor. Hopefully it'll rain this weekend and clear the air.

 We got through school without too much mishap.  We had the most interesting story in history today. It was about Queen Nzinga from Angola. She lived in West Africa in the late 1500's and her life was pretty much dedicated to fighting the Portuguese as they kept up the slave trade and tried to take over her land.  I'd never heard of her, but she was a pretty interesting woman. We've started talking about the slave trade in history now and the thing I really like about world history, and this curriculum, is that it covers slavery as the global problem that it was, rather than just focusing on American slavery, which so much history curriculum does. So, that's been good.

And so, that's what the day's been like. Some of the kids are watching tv right now. This is the time of day they do it. Bubba didn't get his work done on time, so he only gets 1/2 hr. of tv today. Baby's eating chicken nuggets for lunch. Cee-cee's eating yogurt for snack and I'm having a cup of coffee laced with that Toroni's Sugar-Free Vanilla Syrup. When I really want to make it good I put both the Vanilla and Chocolate syrups in. Yumm!

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Bad Day!

Today was a bad day. I know you have them, too. I'm not complaining. I'm just sayin'. And this morning, during my devotions, I was just telling God that I really had no idea how to do this job that He gave me, raisin' these young'uns and that I really really, just really needed some help. And then.... let's see. What happened today.
1.  Two little boys refused to do their school work. They were defiant and disrespectful all morning. I was really at a loss as to what to do with them because they literally laughed at any consequences I threw at them. Yes, they did. Finally, I sent Bubba to his room with his school work and told him he couldn't come out until he was done. He came out at 3:00pm.
2. Cee-cee had a number two accident in her underwear. I had to throw out her underwear. She thought it was pretty funny. I didn't.
3.  The little compartment on my dishwasher where you put the rinse aid was completely full of disgusting red moldy gunk. It was very gross. I did get it cleaned out.
4.  Baby was fussy all day long.
5.  A full bottle of olive oil came tumbling out of my pantry and shattered on my kitchen floor.
6.  I was trying to shake a little pepper on some carrots to roast for supper. And the little cap on the pepper can opened and half the pepper came out on my carrots. I had to rinse them and start again.
7.  I can't stay on my diet to save my life. I kept eating cookies all day.

So, after supper I hid out in my bedroom with my iPad, but the three girls found me. They hid with me. That's ok. They entertained themselves without anyone getting hurt or making a huge mess.  Everyone's in bed now. And quiet. Now, I have to finish doing the dishes. Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Church Potluck. The Menu: Chinese Chicken Salad and a Roast

I love my church. I might have mentioned that before. Our church has gone through a lot in the past several years.  Things that would have crushed and destroyed other churches.  But God has plans for our church because we were not destroyed. We held on tight to each other and made it through.  Another thing I love about our church is that it has a lot of older people.  They just love our family and I think it's really neat that I can be good friends with women 10 or 20 years older than me. One thing that our church does well is have potlucks and today was one of them.  Of course, I'd forgotten about it until late last night, but fortunately, I had a Costco Chinese Chicken Salad in the freezer. You know, the kind where you just add lettuce and mix!  (We were supposed to bring a main dish, and technically I brought a salad, but we eat it like a main dish, and I never put my name on the bottom of the bowl so no one knows who brought it. Besides, what are they going to do? Kick me out of church because I brought a salad to the potluck and not a main dish?) Those things have saved my life more than once. Like the last time we had a potluck and I didn't realize it until that Sunday morning. I always make sure I have a Costco Chinese Chicken Salad in the freezer. Just in case!  So, anyhow today's potluck was in honor of the retirement of our church treasurer.  He's a wonderful guy with a dead-pan sense of humor. You ought to hear his Bob Newhart impressions. Priceless.  So, we're all eating lunch in the social hall and we actually have someone else at our table besides just our family. If you have a large-ish family with small children you tend to take up most of the table and everyone somehow "misses" those couple of chairs left, so you are never able to eat with anyone else at church potlucks. But today.... today was different. Today Miss T sat at our table. She's a missionary, which would account for her bravery and adventurous spirit.  We had a wonderful conversation with her. Thank-you Miss T for sitting with us!  After we had all stuffed ourselves silly with ribs and chicken and salads and casseroles (yummy casseroles, not the kind with sliced up hotdogs and macaroni they used to bring when I was a kid) and dinner rolls, they had a roast for Mr. C, our former treasurer (Who had contributed his fair share to roasts of previous members. Our church does enjoy a good roast). It was hilarious and, of course, done in good taste.  Most of it I spent in the back of the social hall with Baby who was starting to come unglued due to lack of sleep, but that's ok. I got most of it. After that it was cake and coffee and time to go home. It was a good potluck. Did I happen to mention that I love my church?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Winter Gardening

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace.

I love winter gardening. "What?" say you! "What's there to do in the garden in the winter. Everything is dead." Well, yes, to one's eye it is dead. But in my mind and in my soul, it's just waiting. And to me there's just something satisfying in taking this....
and turning it into this.... My irises are ready. They're cleaned up and ready to bloom. Here's my hydrangea bush. The leaves are frozen and spent. But look at it now. It's ready. Can't you see it's waiting?It's hard to see (well, you can't see, really, but I saw them when I had my nose in the dirt, practically) but there are little shoots of hostas just resting and waiting, too. In the summer, the hydrangea will be blooming, the hostas will be huge (if I can keep them from being eaten by the snails) and the edge of the fern garden will be a riot of red, pink and orange impatiens. But now is a time to rest. And to prepare. And to wait!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Were we really that lame? (and that poor of spellers?)

I've been looking through my high school yearbooks. If you want a good laugh, go look through yours. I went to a small private high school, so everyone in my class knew eachother. Oh mercy. Too well, almost. I went to the back pages and looked through the autographs and about bust a gut. Here are some of the best ones (I've copied them verbatim, spelling, grammar, the works.):

Kris - its been pretty fun this year in English too bad we dont have a better teacher. Thanks for helping me out of some cituations. Take it easy and have a good sommer. Love, M
(Actually, M, I don't think it was the teacher. You might have learned how to spell and punctuate better if you would have listened in class. )

To my good friend Chris, its been fun getting to know you better this year and I hope I get to see you this summer stay cool. Love Always SC
(SC, if I were really your good friend, you'd know that my name starts with a K)

Kris- Yep, it's me and I appeciate you being my friend & talking to me. Next year will be mighty don't you think since we is being Juniors and all. I wish you the best of everything and you just have a great time, till the end of time, o.k. Well we'll be seeing you next year. Love, DU
(I think we did have a mighty time when "we is being Juniors and all")

Kris - Hope you have a great summer. About your becoming a plastic surgeon I was just kidding, you'll be great! (I hope) JA
(I wanted to be a plastic surgeon?)

Kris - M and us have to go to V again. But this time I'll take dad's truck & not mom's wussy car! I hope we always stay friends! Love ya, B
(Boy, I remember that time. Oh boy, do I remember that. I also remember B having a lead foot!)

And so it goes. I found out that everyone who signed my yearbook thought I was a "cool girl" and a "good friend" and were "glad they got to know me better this year" or they "wish they could have gotten to know me better this year!" But, that's high school! It was fun! Or as we used to say, "It's been real and it's been fun, but it hasn't been real fun!" (Although I did enjoy my high school years pretty much!)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Good Book: The Railway Children

We are reading a really good book right now and I just had to share. It's called "The Railway Children" and it was written by E. (which stands for Edith) Nesbit. (By the way, this book is in no way related to "The Boxcar Children" by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Not even close. )This book was first published in 1906, so it's an oldy, but it's just one of those books that is such a delight to read. Here's the excerpt from the back cover:
Roberta, Peter and Phyllis don't realize how happy their life in London is until their beloved Father goes away unexpectedly. They move to a simple country cottage with Mother, and befriend the local railway porter, who goes by the name of Perks. But even though they have many exciting adventures, the mystery remains: where is Father, and will he ever return?

The story is simple, but beautifully written. Ms. Nesbit uses such rich language and her characters are so real (although they are a little "goody-two-shoes" at times) that the story just draws you in. It's one of those books that after I read a 20 page chapter, Bubba still rolls around on the floor begging me to "read another chapter..... please.....". It's one of those books that you can tell is quality literature. It makes you think. It makes you want to sit up a little straighter when you read it.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sometimes it just works out!

Have you ever been in the middle of making something for dinner and you realized you were missing a key ingredient so you substituted something else, but it didn't turn out so good? Well, that didn't happen to me last night. Last night pork sandwiches were on the menu. I had roasted a pork loin on Saturday night with Pappy's seasoning and it turned out very yummy. But, there were left overs. Now, I'm afraid I have to say that I am just not a fan of leftovers, no matter how good the original meal turned out. I have no idea why I'm like this. I just am. Everyone has their things. I also have a problem with feet. I can't stand going bare-footed. Even to bed. I wear socks to bed. In the dead of summer. So, anyhow, I have a few idiosyncrasies. But I digress. So, here I am with leftover pork roast in the fridge and I promised myself a couple months ago that I was going to make a concerted effort to deal constructively with leftovers and not shove them to the back of the fridge and conveniently forget about them for a couple of weeks and then take them out when they're moldy and say, "Oh, rats. Look at that. It's got mold all over it. Can't eat that now!" (this is how I am!) So, I thought, hmmm, I have some homemade bread in the freezer (got that from a sister-in-law at Christmas). I think I'll toast that, then slice the pork, put it on top of the bread, slather gravy over the whole thing and it'll be great. Sounds good, huh? I even made some oven fries to go with it. So, I take the bread out, thaw it and as I'm cutting it I notice, it's cinnamon bread. Cinnamon bread. There's nothing wrong with cinnamon bread.... especially if you're going to toast it for breakfast and eat it with peanut butter. But I just wasn't so sure about cinnamon bread as the foundation for pork sandwiches. But, I had no other bread. So, I just decided to go for it. But I needed to disguise it a little. So, I sliced it, brushed olive oil on it, put salt and pepper and garlic powder on it and then toasted it in the broiler. Then, I put the pork on it and the gravy. And you know what? 4 out of 6 family members thought it was great. It really was. Sure, you could still taste the cinnamon, but I thought it complemented the pork nicely. So, there you go. Sometimes your substitutions end up working out!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Now when I have children....

"Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children;
now I have six children and no theories."
John Wilmot, earl of Rochester

I have to admit that before my own home was over run by rugrats, I had a lot of opinions about "other people's children." I remember when my boys were young and before we even got Missie Lou, going over to a friend's house who had more children than I did and thinking, "Good grief, she's got scribble all over the walls. Can't she just keep those pens out of reach of the younger ones? I know I sure would. " And that was one of many judgmental and completely naive thoughts I had while visiting the homes of friends who had more and older children than I did. Because.... honestly how hard can it be to keep inappropriate writing materials out of the hands of young children? Just have your older children put them away. Hah! Chomp. Chomp. Chomp. Do you hear the sound of me eating my humble pie? Because this morning I saw this.... and this..... as a result of this.....in the hands of this.... little sweet thing! And she is a little sweet thing.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

"Breakin' Up is Hard to Do!"

"Don't take your love away from me!
Don't you leave my heart in misery!
If you go, then I'll be blue!
'Cause breakin' up is hard to do!
Come-a, come-a down dooby do down, down,
Come-a, come-a down dooby do down, down!"
(I love the 'come-a, come-as')
(Lyrics by Neil Sedaka, in case you were interested)

You know, there sometimes comes a point in a relationship, where you just have to sit down and ask yourself, "Is this really working? Are we able to give each other what we need? Is it really worth the sleepless nights, the chewed up sprinklers and the trampled on garden?" And you really need to be honest with yourself and if changes need to be made, then changes need to be made. Last summer a little doggie found us (http://www.kristen-thehappygardener.blogspot.com/2011/07/just-passin-through-maam.html). She needed a home and she was pretty cute and nice, so we decided to let her stay. She was a sweet little doggie and we loved her, but she was also a very high maintenance little doggie. The vet said she had some terrier in her and she just had a lot of energy and needed a lot of attention. She barks a lot at night and chews everything and digs in my garden and jumps on you every time you go outside. I know, I know, you say, "She just has bad manners. You need to work with her." And you know, you're right. We probably could have saved the relationship if we would have spent more time with her. But... it just didn't happen. Another thing that she did was bite people. She was a very protective little doggie and she hated strangers. The act that sealed her fate happened the week before Christmas when Missie Lou had a little friend over and Sparky bit her. Drew blood. Not a lot. But she did. Yes, I know. If we would have taken the time to introduce Sparky to E that might not have happened, but.... there's just a lot of "should've, could've, would'ves" in this situation and it all boils down to.... we are not dog people. We don't love dogs enough to be able to put the time in that they need. We love the idea of a dog. We love dogs in movies and in pictures, in television and in books. But not in real life. We are cat people. We have three kitties who do just fine on food and water, sleeping on their cushions in the garage and enjoying a little attention now and then. Yes, I know that cats aren't nearly as affectionate and cooperative as dogs. I couldn't even get a decent picture of Nikki. She just does what she wants. But, it's a relationship that works. And that's what ya gotta go with! And so, Sparky is going to live with my brother and his family. They live in the mountains. They have another dog so Sparky will have a friend. And the thing is... they love dogs. They love animals, period. I think Sparky will be happy there. Although we'll be kind of sad without her.

Friday, January 6, 2012

I Am Superb!

I really am. What? You don't believe me? Look at what the paper says. It says, "If you get down to one marble, you are superb!"
In a previous post I might have mentioned that I (well, technically, Hubby and I, but why get hung up on technicalities?) got this game for Christmas called Peg Solitaire (although ours uses marbles) and it's addictive, I'm telling you. It really is. Hubby even went so far as to say, "Honey, I think you have a problem!" The object is to clear the board of marbles by using one marble to jump over the adjacent marble. The one that got jumped is removed. As you play, the game board looks like this....and then this....and finally this.... or this...or this!
As you can see, you can easily get to a point where there's no more moves left to make. And then you start again. One night, I sat in front of the tv watched one of my favorite shows and played Peg Solitaire the whole time. I think that was one of the times that Hubby observed I may have a problem. I wonder if there are Peg Solitaire Support Groups! Anyhow, I am proud to announce that last night, I went from being merely fair, often good, occasionally excellent to being "Superb". Unfortunately, I do not photographic proof. Although in this day and age, a picture doesn't always tell the truth. So, you'll just have to take my word for it, which is a good word, I assure you. Even though I do have a problem. With Peg Solitaire.

Women I Admire, part 3: Miss Hunnicutt

As I've mentioned before, we read a lot of children's literature around here, so many of the women I admire come from those kind of books. One of my favorite books is called, "Miss Hunnicutt's Hat" by Jeff Brumbeau. It's really a delightful book and has a most unusual storyline which shows the development of Miss Hunnicutt from "timid and quiet...." who "usually didn't like to make a fuss and always did what everyone wanted her to do..." to someone quite different at the end.
Here's an excerpt that tells a little about Miss Hunnicutt and what caused her transformation...
"But today, the day the Queen was to pass by, she decided to put her foot down. Well, hopefully. Miss Hunnicutt was going to do her shopping and wear her new hat from Paris, even if it was a little different..... It looked quite like the hats the other ladies of the town wore. It had blue felt and green and yellow ribbons, and great big feathers all about. What was different was that this hat had chicken feathers. And the feathers were still stuck to the chicken who was happily clucking away on Miss Hunnicutt's head."
Now, throughout the book Miss Hunnicutt meets with much opposition to her choice in millinery, and each time she holds her head up a little higher and is a little bolder in her assertion that, "I have the right to wear what I like! And I won't wear a flounder and I won't wear an orangutan! But I will wear a chicken and I will wear it on my head!" By the end of the book, Miss Hunnicutt is no longer timid and quiet, but through her calm and rational assertiveness, has won the respect of her community and even the Queen herself.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I'm Learning to Listen!

This morning was a difficult morning. Missie Lou was frustrated with school as was Duh-duh. I was frustrated with them as well, and ended up sending Missie Lou to her room. But then, as the emotion wore off a little, I started to wonder if there was more to Missie Lou's little tirade than just rebellion or disobedience or just "I don't want to do school!" So, I went in and talked to her. She was pouting and I sat on her bed and patted the place beside me and said, "Sit by me!" It took her a while, but I didn't ask her again. I just waited and eventually, she came, though with her back toward me and arms crossed. I asked her if there was anything on her mind. Yeah, she's only five years old, but I'm discovering that this little girl is rather complex and things tend to bother her. I'm learning that I need to probe and listen to my children's hearts, not just to what their actions seem to be telling me. Once again, it took her a while, but she eventually told me that the neighbor girls had told her that I loved the babies more than I loved her. Now, this had come up before, some time ago, and I'm not sure if the girls were continuing to say this, or if Missie Lou was still hanging on to it from way back then. It doesn't matter really, since she's still dealing with it. So, I began telling her all about the day we met her, there in the hospital. She had that head full of dark hair and dark eyes and we just fell in love with her. She was our gift from God. And we chose the prettiest name we knew to give her. She listened and asked questions. Soon, she was in my lap with her head on my chest and her arms around me. It made me angry to think that my daughter was believing the lies of the neighbors instead of believing in our love for her, but I just had to think myself of how often I believed the lies of the Enemy, doubting God's love for me. I'm not sure how many more times I'm going to have to reassure her of our love for her, but I'll do it as often as I have to.

Isaiah 43:4-5 "Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you... Fear not, for I am with you;"

Women I Admire, part 2: Abigail (from Scripture)

Another woman I greatly admire is real enough, but she lived a couple thousand years ago. Her name was Abigail, wife of Nabal and her story can be found in the book of I Samuel, chapter 25 from the Bible. She was married to a man of great wealth (though extremely poor character) named Nabal (who's name means 'worthless fellow'). Anyhow, the story happens before David became king and he was on the lam. He and his army approached Nabal and asked for succor, but Nabal refused and instead insulted him. Understandably, David was furious and was ready to kill him. Scripture describes Abigail as beautiful and discerning and when her servants told her what had happened and also that David and his men had been nothing but kind and helpful to them, she acted quickly and bravely. She assembled quite a large donation and herself went to meet David. She humbly took the blame (instead of blaming her husband, whose fault it really was) and asked for forgiveness and spoke words of wisdom to David that it would probably not be a good idea to kill Nabal out of revenge. David recognized her courage and her wisdom and relented, accepted the gift, and, after Nabal soon thereafter dropped dead (literally), married Abigail.
I think this woman is so extraordinary. The Bible describes her as both beautiful and wise, but I also see her as quick thinking, extremely bold, and calm in the face of great crisis. A lot of people might criticize her for taking the blame for what her husband did, but I think what she did was the right thing to do and God took care of her husband for her. God seems to do that a lot.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

This was in the teacher's notes in our Bible Curriculum this morning. I've been pondering it today. Perhaps it will speak to you as well.
"God always hears our prayers, but God does not always give us exactly what we want. Just like Eve, sometimes we want something that God has forbidden or that for some reason He does not think is best for us. We believe we must have this in order to be happy. Sometimes we want this more than we want to please God. When this happens our desire has become an idol. If God always gave us everything we wanted just because we asked for it, then God would be encouraging us to be selfish. He would no longer be God, but simply a vehicle through which we get our desires met. Sometimes God does not give us what we want because He wants us to trust and obey Him even when we don't get what we want. However, we can be certain of this: God only does good to us. If God does not give us what we want, we can be sure that we do not need it to be content because God gives us what we need in every situation."
From "God's Great Covenant: A Bible Course for Children". Published by Classical Academic Press.

Women I Admire, part 1: Lilly

Everyone has someone, or multiple someones they admire. Most of the time we admire people because they have some quality or qualities that we are lacking. Since I read a lot of children's books, a lot of the (fictional) people I admire are characters in children's books, but just because they're in children's literature, doesn't mean they are less admirable. One fictional character I have admired for a long time is Lilly. She's one of the characters in Kevin Henkes books. (I know, I've posted about her before, but I really really like her) And she is something. Listen to a description of her from the book "Chester's Way" by Kevin Henkes. "Lilly had her own way of doing things... She wore band-aids all over her arms and legs, to look brave. She talked backwards to herself sometimes, so no one would know what she was saying. And she never left the house without one of her nifty disguises. Lilly waved at all the cars that passed by, even if she didn't know who was in them. And she always carried a loaded squirt gun in her back pocket. Just in case."
Don't you just love her? She had her own way of doing things. She had her own style.I admire that in people. She wasn't afraid to let who she was shine through, and didn't define herself by the expectations of others. Lilly is definitely someone I admire.