Thursday, May 31, 2012

One of those things from when I was a kid....

I don't remember much about my childhood. Most people don't. I mean, I remember snapshots of Christmas at Grandma's house, picking figs in Grandma's backyard, diving for grapes that Grandpa would throw in the pool. Stuff like that.  But there is one thing that I distinctly remember, which is very strange and it has affected my entire life.  And that is the end of my blog post for today. Thank-you for your kind attention.
Just kidding. No, seriously. When I was a kid, my mom always had my hair cut short. I don't know why. Maybe she just didn't want to mess with long hair.  But I still remember once our family was in a restaurant and I was probably 5 and I was wearing a purple turtleneck (it was the 70's my friends, that was high fashion) and the waitress said, "Would you like milk for your boys?" and I can't remember if I said it or just thought it, but I remember thinking, "I am not a boy!" I'm sure I looked like a boy.  But that incident stuck with me my entire life. After I was old enough to have a say in how I wore my hair I never had short hair again.
And I promised myself that my daughters would never have short hair, either. And so every morning at the breakfast table we have this little ritual. I carry my equipment around the table and do hair.
Missie Lou has been in to braids lately. So we do her hair in braids.
Doesn't she look cute? I love her hair like that.
We just do the two pony-tail thing with Cee-cee. She likes having her hair out of her eyes.
Yeah, I know, the part leaves something to be desired, but you try to make a straight part on a wiggly three-year-old who's eating breakfast. So, this is as good as it gets.
And Baby, who has a lot of hair, too, gets her hair done in the morning as well. Sure, it's a lot of work, but it's just one of those things...

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Happy Birthday, Bubba!

We had another birthday yesterday. Remember when I was talking about birthday clusters? Well four out of five of our children have spring birthdays. Now we can rest until October.
Isn't he a good looking kid? He grew up to this....
from this. What a little squirt he was. Look at those chubby cheeks! Just adorable.
I made him a baseball birthday cake. I think it turned out pretty well. It's my best cake yet.  I know he likes soccer better than baseball, but I wasn't quite up to making a soccer ball.  A baseball is easy. White frosting with red stitching.  But, he did get a new soccer ball, a Bible, some legos and a couple of new shirts.  He's growing up. Nine years old. He's playing baseball tonight. He's done so well at pitcher this season. I'm proud of him!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

"Atticus said to Jem one day, 'I'd rather you shoot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you'll go after birds. Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.'
That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it.
'Your father's right,' she said. 'Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don't eat up people's gardens, don't nest in corncribs, they don't do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.'" Page 90
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I've been waking up in the mornings to the song of a mockingbird. I love mockingbirds. They're noisy and raucous, but they have a wonderful song.  We have a mocking bird around here and yesterday morning, because I could sleep in a bit, I just lay there listening to him sing. He doesn't have his own song as far as I know, he imitates the songs of others, but somehow you know its him. You always know it's him!


Friday, May 25, 2012

Teaching Bible!

You know, one of the biggest difficulties I've had in finding curriculum has been in Bible class. You would think that it would be fairly easy, but it's not. Some people might say, why not just read through the Bible. Yeah, I guess I could do that. But.... some things just aren't age appropriate, either from a content standpoint (think Sodom & Gomorrah or Song of Solomon) or it's just not really understandable or relevant for younger children (think Leviticus).  Of course, I could just avoid all that, which I probably would, but... ok, I just like having a curriculum. It's easier. For me.  So, for a couple of years I used this curriculum by Gertrude Hoeksema. It was actually really good from a theological standpoint. It taught more in depth than anything I've seen on the market.  It went pretty much chapter and verse through the Bible and I'm telling you.... I learned a lot myself. I knew that my kids would have an excellent foundation in Scripture by going through this curriculum. But, I ended up giving up on it because it was all oral for the kids and it was a little dry.
So, I continued my search and found this curriculum. I think this one's a keeper. It's called "God's Great Covenant" and it's put out by Classical Academic Press. It goes through the Bible from start to finish, just like the one I used before, but it's not quite as in depth. However, it has a little more to it to keep the kids' interest.
There are things to fill in, this week we're doing Moses and the Ten Plagues and they have this nifty chant you can learn to remember the plagues and what order they come in.  There's memory verses, too.
So, I've been very pleased with this new curriculum. We're all using it and it's a little much for Missie Lou at times, but I think she's getting something out of it.  So, if you're looking for a good Bible curriculum, I'd highly recommend this one!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Strawberry Heaven!

Yesterday late afternoon a friend of mine called and said she'd gotten a bunch of boxes of strawberry "seconds" (over-ripe, under-ripe, misshapen) and would I like a box for cheap. I said, sure! I could always use more strawberry freezer jam. So, she brought this over.This is a flat of strawberries. It's a lot of berries. And it cost only $8. Usually I pay $10 for half a flat. So, it's a good deal.
First I sorted out the good ones and put those in the fridge for eating fresh. I like them sliced with a little sugar (brings out the juice) and milk. Or I mix them with Greek yogurt for breakfast.
The next good ones I stemmed and put on cookie sheets and froze. When they're frozen I put in gallon plastic freezer bags and use for smoothies.
All the ones that were left became freezer jam. Freezer jam is the greatest invention. And it's perfect for strawberries. Cooked strawberries do not taste good, and freezer jam captures that fresh strawberry taste. Of course, berries are the only fruit that taste right as freezer jam. I've tried doing peach freezer jam and it's just not good.
I was lucky to be home alone yesterday evening so I could get all this done. The boys had a game, and we were all supposed to go, but then at 5:30 Bubba called and said they had to postpone the game till 7:00 due to a scheduling mix-up. I told Hubby the little girls really needed to be in bed by 7:30, so he took Missie Lou to the game and I stayed home. I got the kitchen cleaned up, the babies put to bed and then I dealt with those strawberries all evening. It took all evening to do it, too, and I was tired by the end of it, but it sure felt good to have it done!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Learning to Read!

I am a teacher. Yes, I know, I teach my kids at home, but I am also a professional teacher. I taught school for eleven years.  I even have a Masters Degree in Education.  Now, when I was doing my teacher education classes, the big thing in education was Whole Language. That was back in the 1990's and the basic philosophy was that kids learned how to read by memorizing words rather than decoding them phonetically. "Phonics" was a dirty word at my University.  Yeah, I know.  And I "drank the Kool-Aid," too and believed every bit of it. I guess it was fortunate that I never tried to teach a child how to read back then. I went straight to teaching junior high and by then they should know how to read.  Well, between then and now, the pendulum has swung back, I've gotten a bit of experience and with that experience some wisdom and since I'm now teaching my third child how to read, I am seeing that phonics is really the way to teach. Now, granted, some kids do learn to read the "Whole Language" way.  In other words, they just kind of "pick up" reading without too much de-coding. Actually, that was me as a child. I was reading before I hit kindergarten and I don't really know how I learned. I just "knew how to read!"  But, my kids are definitely phonetic readers.
Another thing that was a dirty word at my University was "basal reader". We'd kind of spit out the word when we'd say it. Basal readers were frowned upon because they was part of a "phonics program", which, I was taught, was a form of torture, similar to the rack or water boarding. A "basal reader" is a reader that uses words that are phonetic and easily read. My University encouraged us to use "real books" when we taught children to read. Well, I'm finding the benefits of these "basal readers." They encourage fluency and build confidence because the words are phonetic and the kids can read them easily.  Part of the trick to reading is just to do it a lot.  Missie Lou is becoming a pretty good reader. So, I got some of those "I Can Read" books from the library. They're ok, but a lot of them had words that she had not learned the phonics rules for, or were all those exceptions and so it took us forever to read a page. She got really discouraged.  One thing about the reader she's in now, is that they are words that she can read and she can read them without stopping a lot. She's becoming a more confident reader, she's learning more and more sight words and so she'll be able to tackle those other books a lot sooner than if I had started her on them.  So, it's been interesting, teaching my kids how to read. And I'm learning that those new-fangled ideas aren't always the best. Sometimes, it's better to just stick with the old stuff!

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Prayer

I've been going through a book lately that a friend of mine gave me. It's called "Thirty-One Days of Praise: Enjoying God Anew" by Ruth Myers.  It's kind of a devotional, but there's a prayer in it that I've been working on lately. Working on as in, trying to get up the nerve to pray it and really mean it.  I know, that sounds silly. But, I really believe that any prayer should be prayed sincerely, and sometimes we pray prayers because they sound good, but we don't really mean them. We may think we mean them, we may hope we mean them, but when it gets right down to it.... we're afraid to mean them. And that's just hypocrisy.  So, here's the first part of this prayer, and see if you don't agree with me, that it's a tough one.
"Lord, I'm Yours.  Whatever the cost may be, may your will be done in my life.  I realize I'm not here on earth to do my own thing, or to seek my own fulfillment or my own glory.  I'm not here to indulge my desires, to increase my possessions, to impress people, to be popular, to prove I'm somebody important, or to promote myself.  I'm not here even to be relevant or successful by human standards. I'm here to please You!"  
My heart kind of stops beating at that second sentence.  Can I really pray that? "Whatever the cost may be...." I can't pray that sincerely, because sometimes I balk at the cost or pout at the cost or run away from the cost. "Whatever the cost...." is really scary.  But, that's why I've been reading this prayer every day. I want to be able to sincerely say, "Whatever the cost..."  And mean it!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Fire, Fire, Fire!

We had a bit of excitement around here today. Not too much excitement. Not the kind that changes your life or anything.  Just enough to give you something to talk about later.  See, I told you we live by a river. And it's not a really good river. It's brushy and scrubby down there. Lots of dry grass and those awful fox-tails that you have to pick out of your socks after you've been walking down there. Not the kind of place you'd want to go take a picnic and skip rocks or anything.  Plus, it has a ton of cottonwood trees that are all blooming right now, sending tufts of cotton all over the neighborhood.  So, it's early afternoon and the boys are outside playing catch and Bubba comes in and says, "Mom, there's a fire. I saw ashes in the air."  Of course I said, "No, honey. It's from the cottonwoods." "Yeah, but the cottonwood stuff is white, the stuff I saw was black."  Then he went back outside.  A little while later both boys come racing inside, "Mom, Mom, there's a fire. A house is on fire. Mrs. J (our neighbor) called 9-1-1."  Well, by then I felt there was a little more credibility to the story. I went out to the back yard and saw that yes, there was indeed smoke billowing from the river, but it didn't look to me like any house was on fire. I was just about to tell the kids that, when Bubba goes running out the front door screaming at the top of his lungs, "Fire! Fire! Fire!!!!!"  And I'm just standing there thinking, "Oh my word, what is this child thinking?"  So, I bring him back in and give him the old, "Is this helpful?" lecture, with a reminder that in situations like this we are calm.  I went out front to see if I could find Mrs. J and in a few minutes a couple firetrucks come barreling down the street and then Mr. & Mrs. J came back to their house. I guess they'd gone down to the river to see what was going on after calling 9-1-1.  So, yes, indeed, there was a brush fire. It was on its way to raging, but it hadn't gotten there yet.  I let the kids stay at the end of the street to watch what was going on while I went to get the little girls ready for the baseball game.  By the time we left there were 4 trucks and the fire chief at the scene.  But, I knew they'd have it under control.  And on the way to the baseball game Bubba says to me, "Mom, you know how I know there was a fire? I smelled smoke, I saw the ashes and I heard Mrs. J say, 'There's a fire. Call 9-1-1'". I guess it's always good to have confirmation like that. Can't always rely on your senses!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Those Little Extras.....

You know, some days it's a struggle just to get the basics done in school. There are a lot of basics - reading, grammar, spelling, Bible, math, science, history and Latin. We also manage to do geography and health on Fridays as well. But, sometimes I do try to get in those little extra subjects, especially art, which Bubba loves. We've got this curriculum called "Artistic Pursuits". Unfortunately, we haven't done art much this year, so I haven't gone through it too far, but it's a pretty good curriculum.

Today we studied "form".
It was a pretty good lesson and for the "hands-on" portion we made sculptures out of quick-drying clay.The kids seemed to have a good time. Of course, they're used to play-dough. With that you can make something, squish it up and make something else. Well, you can't do too much of that with this stuff. Plus, the idea was to make a sculpture that would be permanent. A work of art.
That's why I made them these handy-dandy little platforms to display their work. I also had them give their art piece a name.
I really would love to give the kids more of these little extras. We've already added keyboarding to our curriculum for summer, but art and music are so important.  So, I'm working on being more consistent on our Fridays in adding in those extras that really make for a good education.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Whirlwind week!

It's been a crazy busy week around here.  Sunday we had a wonderful Mother's Day at my aunt's house and the Monday we jumped right into school again. We have three more weeks (after this one) and then it's summer vacation. We only take 6 weeks off for summer. Gives us more flexibility during the school year if we need/want to take some time off. Monday afternoon I had to take Missie Lou for a follow-up appointment at the audiologist. Well, it was interesting. Her hearing is normal, but her eardrums are all messed up.  So, I'm not sure what's the cause of that, but hopefully her ENT will figure that one out. We got home from that appointment mid-afternoon and there was a message on the machine that the boys had a make-up baseball game and could they be at the park at 4:30. OK, fine. We can do that.  Had a good time at the game. The daughter of a girlfriend was on the opposing team so we sat and chatted for most of the game.  The boys' team was actually behind the whole game. At one point they were down 7 points. In Little League, it's kind of hard to come back from that. Well, actually, whatever level you're playing that's a pretty big deficit.  So, we resigned ourselves to a loss. Then, it was the bottom of the last inning. We were, of course, losing. It was 2 outs. You know, that's when you start gathering up your stuff and think of some consoling words for your kid. And then, they put in a new pitcher. He was a little guy. And he started walking batters. And we started catching up. I felt bad for this kid. At this age, those kids are so inconsistent with their athletic skills. The ace pitcher today could walk everyone tomorrow. Although I'm not sure this was their ace pitcher, anyhow.  And then, Joseph came up to bat. The bases were loaded. We were 2 points behind. There were 2 strikes and 2 outs.  And he got a hit.  And drove in the necessary 3 runs and that was the game, my friends. The crowd went wild. I couldn't believe it.  It was pretty exciting.  So, that was Monday night!  Tuesday afternoon Missie Lou had a dentist appointment and then yesterday afternoon Bubba had his physical with our new doctor.  We finally were able to find a new doctor and I am thrilled. She's got her own little practice. My other doctor was part of a big, medical conglomerate and every time I went I felt like a cog. Just a cog in a big wheel.  Didn't like that. I also didn't trust my doctor. But now, we are all going to this new doctor and I think it's going to be a good thing.  Which brings us to today.  It's been a pretty quiet day. Baby's on hour 3 of her nap. Poor thing. She hasn't had a decent nap in over a week.  Of course, we have two baseball games tonight - Missie Lou has mini-ball and the boys have a game, and Hubby has a meeting at church, but I've got it organized. No problem!  As I said, it's been a whirlwind week!

Monday, May 14, 2012

And now for a lesson in Marine Biology....

You know, someone once said to me.... "Kristen, you don't go on vacation. You go on field trips." And I guess that's true. I've never been one to just lounge around on the beach the whole time. Of course a few hours is fine, but I like to be on the go. I like to see and learn things. One of the things we love doing when we go on our beach vacation is going to the aquarium in Santa Cruz. No, it's not the big one in Monterey that everyone goes to. That one is gorgeous. I love it. And it would cost us an arm and a leg to take our family there. No, this one is in Santa Cruz and it's a research facility affiliated with UC Santa Cruz. That's the University with the banana slug as its mascot. Anyhow, we love this little aquarium.
There are lots of local fish, and a petting station where you can pick up a sea star or a crab. We met the sweetest docent. Her name was Diana. You can see her in this picture. Doesn't she have a fabulous smile. She was so enthusiastic and cheerful. We just fell in love with her.
I asked her if she was a student at the university and she said she wasn't. She was an economist. Seriously. I'm thinking, "An economist? Really?" There were so many questions I wanted to ask her along those lines like.... why on earth didn't you become a marine biologist? Do you have a real job? (it was a Thursday morning that we were there and she was a volunteer) What does an economist do? But, I didn't ask any of those questions. They were really none of my business. Anyhow, she took us on our little tour. We saw the dolphins and learned all about the blue whale. You can see the skeleton behind Bubba. It's an honest to goodness blue whale skeleton. Washed up on the shore one day. They had to bury it to clean it. Took seven years. Then they undug it, put it together and there you are. Bubba's one of the helpers. He's holding a bottle of krill. Believe it or not, the blue whale, which is the largest creature on earth eats krill, which are teeny tiny little shrimps.

We had a picnic. It was a beautiful day and it's a nice area around the aquarium. It's on the cliffs, overlooking the ocean. Just perfect.

It's Crazy Around Here!

Well, I'd like to say that life's a little calmer today and I can sit and write a leisurely post about our vacation. But, that is not to be. We jumped back into school head on today.  Our schedule (since we are homeschoolers we can make our own schedule)  is basically nine weeks on and one week off throughout the school year.  We take six weeks off during the summer and start back up again at the beginning of August.  So, last week was our scheduled week off and we took our vacation during it. It's nice to be able to vacation during the off-season. No one was at the beach at all.  Anyhow, so we jumped right back into school, studied the "Reign of Terror" in history. Boy, that Robespierre was rather scary.  Discussed the whole, "anarchy, mob-rule" type of thing. I know the kids don't really get it, but I figure, the more they're exposed to these concepts the better. They'll get it sooner or later.  Anyhow, so we got school done and then ran four of the kids to my Mom's house and took Missie Lou to the audiologist for a follow-up appointment. She had ear tubes put in last May because of fluid build-up and the guy wanted to see her again for a follow-up after the tubes. Well, her hearing has improved, but her ear-drums.... they're a mess. Don't know why. So, it's back to the ENT.  Then, I get home, listen to my messages and the boys have a make-up baseball game tonight at 5:30. Well, I guess that blows my menu for dinner. Hmm, what's plan B? I have no idea. But, I have a ton of laundry that does need some attention and we need to leave in an hour, so I guess I won't be posting about our vacation. Maybe tomorrow.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day. All you moms out there. And all you ladies out there who are not moms in the strictest sense of the word, Happy Mother's Day to you, too. Because I'm sure, that even though you never gave birth to a child (Truth be told, I have never given birth to a child. And another truth be told, that's perfectly all right with me. I know that for some women it is a really important experience and I think that's great, but I personally have never felt cheated because I never gave birth.) you have "mothered" children, been a nurturer either in a Sunday School class, or to a neighbor kid, or a niece or nephew.  So, I am wishing all women Happy Mother's Day! I had a great Mother's Day. I got a card and gourmet coffee from Hubby, $0.37 from Bubba (although he realized he didn't have money for church, so he took back a dime), and a sweet hand-written note from Duh-duh. We went to church.  Hubby and I are leading this Sunday School class about parenting. I'm sure I've mentioned it before. It's awesome. And it's more than just about parenting. It's really spoken to me personally about things I need to take care of in my own life.  So, that was good. And I was also honored as Mother of the Year in our church. That was really neat. I got a round of applause and this beautiful bouquet.
After church we went to my aunt's house and had a wonderful luncheon with my aunts and uncles and my dad and my mom.  This is my mom!  Isn't she beautiful?  She's a wonderful mom!  She made the girls the most adorable matching dresses that I had them wear today. I'd show them to you, except that I still can't post pictures of the little girls. Sorry! I took the most adorable picture of them, too. I promise I'll show you the picture as soon as I can.  Anyhow, I do have a marvelous mother.  She's a good woman, honest and kind. She works hard and loves the Lord and is an amazing cook.  She loves her grandchildren like crazy, too!
So, it was a good day. A wonderful Mother's Day. It's nice to have a day set aside to make moms feel special, but I love being a mom. I'd do it even without the holiday!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

We're Back!


I know, I know, I haven't been around lately and I didn't say where I was going. Well, there's a reason for that. In case you didn't know, it's very dangerous to announce on the Internet that you're going to be gone for a few days because there are people lurking behind websites and crouching under message boards just waiting to figure out where you live In Real Life and come rob you when you're not home.   So, if you announce before hand that you'll be leaving, you might as well just leave the front door wide open and a plate full of cookies for the robbers as well.  So, that's why we snuck off without telling anyone.  Well, we are back now, so if there are any would-be robbers out there, it's too late. We're back!

We went to the ocean for a few days. And I don't have a lot of time to talk about it right now because my bedroom is full of bags to be unpacked and laundry to do and I have a flat of strawberries that won't fit in my fridge, so I have to do something about that, but I do want to say, it is so good to be back and I'll share about our adventures at a later date. Hopefully tomorrow.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Look at a Life....

We went to a memorial service yesterday afternoon.  It was really good.  Kind of sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it?  Because a memorial service happens when someone dies.  But this was an amazing service. For an amazing man. I didn't know him that well. He was an active member in the church Hubby grew up in and Hubby was close to him. I think Hubby's talked about R more than anyone he knew growing up.  R was relatively young when he died. He was 62 years old. Cancer.  He was just a regular guy. Automobile mechanic. Motor-head. One person mentioned he was always wearing t-shirt advertising the latest car show he'd been to. He had 17 carburetors on a shelf in his garage. When his son was giving the eulogy, he asked for a show of hands of everyone who either had his dad work on their car, or had a car question answered by his dad. I'd say about 90% of the congregation raised their hands. He had a wife of 42 years.  Had two grown sons who were married with families of their own.  The basic facts of his life don't really speak to anything extraordinary. He was a regular guy.  But, let me tell you what his life really said.  The church was packed to the gills. It wasn't a super-small church, either. Standing room only.  The service lasted an hour and a half, and still all wasn't said about the impact this man had in the lives around him.  This was a man who loved life and lived life.  He loved people. He'd work on cars in his garage in the evenings. They said he always had the door open and people were always stopping by.  It was said time and time again throughout the service that R had the ability to make everyone feel they were his best friend. What a gift.  He was one of the sponsors of the college group at church when Hubby was that age. They had a ski boat, and it seemed that everyone in the church who went through that college group was taught by R how to water ski.  Hubby said he'd be on the phone for an hour with R, just talking about cars and God and  just....stuff. R always had time to talk. It was clear that he was a mentor to so many young people.  When we left the service several hours later I just kept thinking about all that was said and just about the life of this man.  No mention was made of fame or fortune or fancy vacations. It was clear that he had lived his life according to this Scripture:
Mathew 6:19-21  "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. "
And at the end of his life, when all accounts were called in, it was clear that he knew what mattered in this life and what would count for something in the next.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Spring Blizzard!

Actually, it's not a blizzard. It looks like a blizzard.  But, it's not.  The cottonwoods are blooming.  We live by a river. It's not a beautiful, picturesque river. It's just wet. With some scroungy brush edging it. Foxes and coyotes and raccoons and skunks and owls live there. And cottonwoods grow there. To be honest, I wouldn't know a cottonwood tree if it fell over and conked me on the head.  I have no idea what they look like. But at this time every year they bloom.  And the air is filled (and I mean filled) with cotton tufts floating around.  They twirl around in the breeze and collect along the bottoms of fences and porches. It's really neat. It really does look like a snow storm. Except that the sky is blue, the sun is out and the flowers are blooming. The cottonwoods are blooming!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mini-Ball!

Missie Lou is playing Mini-Ball this spring. "What is Mini-Ball?" you ask. Well, it's the very first foray a child has into the action packed world of youth baseball. It's for 5 & 6 year-olds and any resemblance it has to actual baseball is purely incidental. Well, ok, it is played on a diamond. The children do have mitts. And they do hit the ball with a bat.  But, there the similarities end. They put the whole team out on the field.  And it's hilarious to watch when the ball comes at them. Those kids, they dogpile and fight for the ball. And then the winner comes up with it and parades proudly in the infield, while the coach and all the parents are all yelling, "Throw it to first" or "throw it home!" and the kids just stands there grinning. Until he actually hears what is being yelled, and then he gets this serious look on his face and he throws it for all he's worth.... somewhere.  Sometimes he aims, sometimes he just throws. Nobody ever catches a ball. Except by accident. Tonight, the kid who was at the pitcher's position (they don't actually pitch) stuck his hand in the air at a fly ball, and I'll be darned if that ball didn't just drop in his glove. He had the presence of mind to close on it and he was as amazed as everyone else was when he saw he'd caught that ball. And the crowd went wild.  Another thing about Mini-ball is.... the entire team bats. Each inning. And they bat off a "t". It works pretty well. Generally, every kid hits the ball. Sometimes they hit the "t" and not the ball, but then they get another chance. They don't count outs. Yes, if a kid gets out, then he's out, but they don't switch sides until every kid has batted.  And they don't count runs.  So, nobody wins and nobody loses.  And after the game the kids run through the tunnel made by the arms of the parents and get their Gatorade and crackers and go home. And that's Mini-ball.

Another Gardening Post!

Well, this is another one of those gardening posts. It's that time of year. Spring. My garden is just thriving. Seeds are sprouting. Things are growing. I just love it! Look at my tomatoes. Don't look at the weeds. They're coming up, too. But my plants are doing just beautifully!

Here are my cucumbers. Once again, don't look at the weeds. But the plants are doing great. They're about ready to embark upon their journey up the trellis. I love trellis gardening. Did I tell you we planted some canteloupe seed on our trellis?
This poor little guy is summer squash. That's been discovered by the snails. You can even see his little friend that was eaten off completely. It's there right by the black irrigation tubing. Poor thing.  Did I mention I really  hate snails?  They are the bane of my existence.
Here are my climbing roses.  They are going berserk on the arbor Hubby built several years ago.
See that big plant (relatively speaking) growing there? It is a pumpkin plant.  We planted so many pumpkins last year and got a grand harvest of one pumpkin.  I even pollinated the flowers with a paint brush. And we got nothin'! Well, almost nothin'.  But, my mom gave me this pumpkin plant. She went to some shin-dig at a local nursery and they were giving away seedlings for giant pumpkins. So, she got one for me. And we are going to try it again. Eighth time's a charm, right?
Anyhow, I'm not sure if you can see the brown color of this dirt. Yes, I know, all dirt is brown, but this is a darker brown. It's so different that Hubby kept thinking that the soil was just damp and wasn't watering it. But, but we discovered that it wasn't wet at all. It was dark brown because it was the dirt that was under the compost bin that we moved.  This small plot of land is the most fertile in our whole farm because for the last several years all the compost juice has been seeping into it.  So, I guess it's a good place to grow our pumpkin.  Hubby also planted some watermelon seeds there, and I think the ones below are canteloupe seedlings.  So, we should have a mess of viney things growing here this summer. Hopefully we'll get some fruit.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Keep Your Chin Up, Soldier!

We're doing a video series in Sunday School called "Spiritual Parenting" by Michelle Anthony. It's a fantastic series and I would recommend it to anyone.  She's got a book by the same name, if you don't want to do the DVDs.  She mentioned in this Sunday's lesson that the Christian life is just a big battle, really. And we as Christians are either "coming out of battle, preparing for battle, or going in to battle."  I can understand this. I feel like this every day. It's a battle against my own sin nature, but also helping and training my children in battling theirs.  And it's tough.  And sometimes it's scary because sometimes you get a glimpse of what you're really battling against and you wonder if you're really up to the fight.  But, over the last couple of days I've gotten a lot of encouragement from God's Word. It's kind of strange, funny, wonderful how God directs our attention to places in His Word at just the right time. I've been studying Matthew chapter 14 for the past couple of weeks and now I'm at the part where Jesus had just sent the multitudes away after miraculously feeding them, then He sent His disciples away in a ship and He Himself went away to a lonely place to pray. The disciples encountered a storm and were quite fearful.  Then, finally, Jesus appeared to them, walking on the water and they thought He was a ghost.  He identified Himself and told them to not be afraid and then Peter, impetuous Peter, jumped out of the boat and started walking to Christ. He was fine until he took his eyes of Jesus and started looking at his situation and then he started to sink.  Jesus reached out His hand, saved Peter and they got back into the boat.  Matthew Henry, in his commentary, speaks of this...." Peter, when he saw the wind boisterous, should have remembered what he had seen when the winds and the sea obeyed Christ; but therefore we fear continually every day, because we forget the Lord our Maker."  And then, if that wasn't enough, my mind went to Hebrews chapter 12, verses 1-2  "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God."  (English Standard Version) What a reminder God has given me that in the midst of this storm, this battle that is raging I need to keep my eyes on Jesus.  When I take my eyes off Him, I'll sink.  But I can fight this battle and make my way through this storm if my focus is where it should be.