Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Merry Christmas, y'all!
We're enjoying a visit from my folks right now and I'll be offline for the next week and a half or so.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

You know your parents live in a small town when...
your six-year-old mails a picture to them, misspelling their name, and only putting the town and state - no address or ZIP code - and it gets there anyway.
Thankful Thursday
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. (Psalm 19:1-3)

I thank God for silky long underwear and long flannel nightgowns.

I thank God for the gas stove in the bathroom.

I thank God for the cold weather and for the snow we had yesterday!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

I finally decorated for Advent! I don't know why I never got around to it until just now, when it will only be up for such a short time. :-(

Christmassy stuff

My eldest and I went shopping yesterday, and we noticed that already certain Christmas items are being replace by Valentine's Day items in the stores. Now this makes sense from the marketing standpoint - the sooner you get things out on the shelves the more stuff people will buy. You know how it is. If you buy your Halloween candy right after Labor Day, you're sure to eat it all up long before Halloween and then you have to buy more, so the store ends up selling you twice as much as if they waited until the week of Halloween to set out those giant bins of treats. And so, on the day after Christmas, all the ornaments and decorations will be drastically reduced and within another day or two the aisles will be filled with candy hearts.

What always surprises me, though, is the number of houses that don't have their lights turned on after Christmas Eve, and all the poor discarded Christmas trees on the curb awaiting trash pick up just a day or two later. When I was growing up, practically everybody put up their trees and lights a week or two before Christmas, and took them down after New Year's.

Sunday evening, we decorated our church for Christmas - poinsettas in the sanctuary, luminarias leading up to the front doors, wreaths on the doors, a tree in the parish hall which all the children decorated, and lights in all the shrubbery and trees in the courtyard - and then yesterday, Mike bought our tree, which is sitting in a bucket of water on the carport waiting to be brought in on Friday. Today, the kids started making red and green paper chains and white paper angels to decorate the house with, and tomorrow or the next day, I'll put our evergreen wreath on the front door and hang greenery around the front room, bring out the Nativity scene and all the candles, and Mike will hang the lights on the house.

Our church has two Christmas Eve services, one at 5:30 to which we'll take the kids, and one at 11:00. We're thinking about going to the 11:00 service - just Mike and me. I suppose it will depend on how tired we are, because we will all be going to the Christmas morning service at 10:00. This is really exciting to me. I only remember being in church on Christmas morning one other time in my life - back in 1994 when Christmas happened to fall on Sunday.

Yesterday when Mike went out to buy the tree, Mosey, who stayed home with me, kept running around the house shouting, "We're getting a Christmas tree!" She does this every year. She always sounds like she thinks that since we do not yet have a tree, we will therefore not have one at all.

I asked Elai and Mosey what they thought of the way we celebrated Advent and Christmas last year, and so far this year. "It doesn't feel like Christmas yet." "It feels like we're just waiting for Christmas to come and it'll never get here!" I told them that I think that's how Advent is supposed to feel.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Thankful Thursday
Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul. While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being... The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD. (from Psalm 146)

1. I'm extremely thankful for getting to worship two times at Steve Wilkins' church last Sunday, and for the after-worship supper/hymn sing. In the evening service, Pastor Wilkins preached on the importance of the Church calendar, stressing that how we mark time will shape us - and we will mark the passage of time one way or another. If we don't live by the Church's year, then we'll live by the State's.

2. Last Thursday, I meant to post in this spot that I was thankful for opportunities to grow in patience, opportunities to grow in kindness, and opportunities to grow in gentleness. You see, I was having a difficult time getting all the sewing done, even with all the help from my daughter and our guest. I didn't finish everything for the ball that I had meant to, but in spite of that, everyone had something nice to wear. I did get the ball gown for my eldest finished, though we didn't have time to sew in the twenty-odd hooks and eyes that were supposed to close the thing up, so I just sewed her up in it. It worked fine and we have pictures. Maybe I'll post some later, after the shell-shock wears off. The ball was great fun and I'm thankful for everything surrounding it - the people we met, the excitement of the whole event including all the last-minute sewing, the music... Oh, did I mention that I danced with Steve Wilkins?

3. Tomorrow we have to take Miss Kelly M. back home. No, I'm not thankful for that, but I am thankful for the time she's been able to visit with us, I'm thankful for her friendship and her example of ladylike behavior to my daughters (and to myself - who am I kidding?), and that while we're in Oklahoma, we'll get to attend the graduation of our other "Kelly-friend," Miss Kelly G, who is graduating from Oklahoma University this Saturday.

And a bonus thankful thing - in light of all the recent activity, I'm thankful that we will still have a whole week of Advent left after we get home from Oklahoma, and that we'll have twelve days of Christmas after that!

Monday, December 6, 2004

Fermenting grains
(for food, not drink - we're not that Reformed!)

Alexandra asked about "sponging bread" in the post below. Making a bread sponge before baking is the really old fashioned way to do it. It's the way Ma made bread in the Little House on the Prairie books, and I always just assumed it was something you did if you didn't have any yeast, but it turns out that it actually increases the bread's nutrition. Let me explain. To make a bread sponge, you put flour and milk or buttermilk into a bowl , and let it soak overnight, or at least 12 hours. The next day, you mix into the sponge the rest of the ingredients (yeast, salt, honey, butter, etc.) and begin kneading in the rest of the flour, then let it rise another two hours or so before shaping and baking.

Whole grains have phytic acid in the bran layer, the part that gets stripped off in order to make white flour or white rice, which combines with various minerals and makes them difficult to absorb. They also have enzyme inhibitors which are built-in preservatives, keeping the grain from decomposing as long as it is kept dry. Soaking grains for seven hours or longer in water along with milk, yogurt, or yeast, neutralizes both the phytic acid and the enzyme inhibitors, which means that the good healthy whole grains you eat don't cause you to be deficient in minerals, plus it allows the grain to begin producing beneficial enzymes which "increases the amounts of vitamins in the grain, especially B vitamins (Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon, p. 453)."

I usually have to eat lots of protein for breakfast since carbs tend to make me need a nap, but Kelly has been making porridge for breakfast almost every morning and I'm finding that a bowl of porridge is very filling and I don't have blood sugar trouble with it. Porridge is just oatmeal that's been soaked overnight in warm water plus a little milk or yogurt, then soaked overnight. In the morning, you just add some more water or milk, and cook it for a few minutes. We've been sweetening it with sorghum, which is delicious and much better for you than brown sugar.

Update on the Christmas Ball preparations:
I have officially reached the panic stage.

Thursday, December 2, 2004

Multi-purpose blog post
First of all, thanks for the birthday wishes! I had a wonderful day - it's always my favorite when my birthday falls on Thanksgiving. There were 20 family members at my mom's for lots of yummy food, and we celebrated two birthdays besides mine. On Friday afternoon, my sister took me to her beauty shop for some psycho-therapy - that is, a shampoo, moisturizing treatment for my hair, scalp massage, and a manicure - and that evening we watched the local high school football team win their play-off, which will send them to the state championship game tomorrow night. On our way home on Saturday, we picked up a friend who will be visiting with us for the next three weeks, and that's been a real pleasure. Miss Kelly M. is so cheerful and helpful and she knows tons about good nutrition and has been teaching me some cooking techniques that make food better for you, like sponging bread before baking it and soaking oats overnight before cooking them for breakfast. We are still sewing for the ball and I'm getting pretty close to the panic stage, so if you happen to remember us before the Lord it would not be unappreciated. Special thanks go to Alexandra for her Thanksgiving comments below, which brings me to today.

Thankful Thursday
1. For a safe trip to Arkansas and back
2. For Kelly M. who has been such a pleasure to have around
3. For my 13 year old son who takes the four youngest children outside every morning for fun and excercise

Saturday, November 20, 2004

"I'm trying to write a modern poem," smirks Elai. "One with no rhymes."

"Is it possible?" I laugh. Elai is the Queen of Rhymes.

"I think so," she says.

As soon as she finishes her dessert, she brings her notebook and pen to the table so she can write down whatever lines have popped into her head during the meal. While she's writing, we all play a little rhyming game. One person says a word and then we go around the table saying the first rhyming word that comes to mind.

"Hat." Since it was my idea, I begin the game and pick an easy word so the little ones can play too.

The responses come: fat, cat, sat, mat, that, splat, drat... around and around the table until we run out of -at rhymes.

Then we make it harder. Instead of just a rhyming word, a couplet is required.

The game begins with mouse.

"There once was a mouse
who lived in a house."

The next person has to add to the story, making a couplet using "cat," which was chosen by the last player.

"There once was a mouse
who lived in a house.
He hid from the cat
by wearing a hat."

Around the table the silly story grows until it ends with a verse involving a book and a hook.

While we're cleaning up, Elai tells me she has finished her poem.

"Is it depressing and angsty?" I ask. "All proper modern poems are depressing and angsty, you know."

"Hmmm, well, I wasn't feeling angsty when I wrote it..."

So I read it and naturally I think it's good - I'm her mama after all. It is a bit depressing and angsty, I suppose, but I don't think it's particularly modern.

ghost sighs

I used to remember more but now
only precious snatches are left; soft fires, tall trees,
horses’ hooves on gravel, dresses that rustled –
silk dresses that whispered me to sleep

hiding now in the darkness, weeping,
although nobody hears, no rest for me
no rest oh God, I’m so tired
and once
hid my face for a hundred years

covered my ears to escape the sounds
sounds that are alien now or I’m alien
and when I couldn’t bear the silence
and the darkness that deafened and blinded

came out and looked and wept again
for the rustling dresses and horses’ hooves on gravel
for a world of soft fires and tall trees
and blue skies and calm rivers

all gone all destroyed in a world of metal
and plastic and staring houses and grey skies
that didn’t feel my tears like other skies had felt
foul air and foul sounds and foul people

dressed in ugly clothes that pinched and sagged and
no rustles no whispers only fear in their hearts and
anger in their faces rushing on to death in metal boxes
only angry roaring in the air masking the cries for help

a dead world covered with dead people
fighting and dying so more living dead could
fight and die sobs in the air that they wouldn’t hear
cries for a world and a people destroyed

crying for horses’ hooves on gravel no one will ever hear,
soft fires in the hearth no one will ever feel,
tall trees no one will ever see, and silk dresses rustling,
all gone never again no more silk dresses.

Friday, November 19, 2004

This random post is specially dedicated to Janet :-)
We've been hoping to attend the Christmas Ball in Monroe, LA, next month, so the girls and I are making several dresses and innumerable petticoats and pantalets. I bought the fabric and got it all washed two weeks ago and began cutting out, but have not made much progress since then. I'm not quite to the panic stage yet, but I'll be sure and let y'all know when it's time for prayers of desperation. ;-)

Latest pet peeve: seeing those yellow ribbon "support our troops" magnets stuck onto vehicles sideways.

I really need to update my blog template. My blue asters have been dead for three weeks - the orange mums came and went without my being able either to find a usable picture online or talk the resident artist into making one for me. There are several new blogs I want to add to the blogroll, plus several I really ought to remove since I haven't visited them in ages, and a few others that ought to be rearranged to fit my reading habits, which have changed somewhat since I first set up the current blogroll.

Gardening stuff: Our tomatoes were not very good this year. Naturally, they tasted better than grocery store tomatoes, but were smallish and ugly, and nowhere near as abundant as they were last year. On the other hand the bell peppers have been successful - large, beautiful and tasty. The green beans were a total loss, the corn only yielded enough for two meals, the pumpkins were plentiful, but small. (Were they supposed to be this small? I don't rememeber which variety we planted. I really must have a garden journal next time!) I'm taking pumpkin pies to my mom's for Thanksgiving and mean to use our own pumpkins for them. I suppose I should make a test batch to be sure they turn out well. If they don't, I'll use Libby's canned pumpkin, which I've always done with excellent results, though I only use about half the sugar the recipe calls for.

Yummy food I made last night, intending to take it to the home school group's Thanksgiving dinner, which we did not attend after all for a really stupid reason, and NO I don't wanna talk about it. :-p

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Sweet Potato Souffle

3 large sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick butter

1/2 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans

Put 1/2 stick of butter into 8x8 baking dish, or 2 quart casserole, and melt in 350° oven. Mix together the rest of the souffle ingredients, adding melted butter, and beat until fluffy. Pour into baking dish. Meanwhile, melt 1/2 stick of butter in small saucepan on the stove. Remove from heat and add the flour and brown sugar, mixing well. Stir in pecans. Spread evenly over sweet potato mix. Cook, uncovered, in 350° oven for 35 minutes. Makes six side servings.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

This recipe originally called for a lot more sugar than what I use - I think it was a cup of sugar in the sweet potato part and 1/2 cup in the topping part, but then you could hardly taste the sweet potatoes for all the sugar! I've also made this cutting the butter back drastically. You can melt one tablespoon of butter in the baking dish and not worry about mixing any into the sweet potatoes, and you can cut the amount of butter in the topping in half and still have decent results. But I beg you not to use margerine. At Thanksgiving you must use real butter in all of your creations.

Three weeks ago I saw a fully decorated and lit Christmas tree in someone's house. Lots of houses around here already have their trees up and Christmas lights on. I don't get it. I just. Don't. Get it.

Actually, now that I think about it, this being a military town and all, the Air Force deploys a fresh crew of folks right around Thanksgiving, so it could be military families celebrating Christmas early. The year that Mike was in Alaska, he came home for three weeks in November and we celebrated Christmas then, but I didn't put our tree up until the usual time, and I still had regular Christmas-time celebrations, too.

My brain works better late at night. Why is that?

Last night just as I was going to bed, I thought of something really funny to put here, but I'd already shut down down the computer and I resisted the temptation to turn it back on again. Now I can't remember what it was I wanted to tell y'all! Please pretend like I said something very clever and laugh at it, okay? Thanks. Y'all made my day!

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Thankful Thursday
I will extol thee, my God, O king, and will bless thy name for ever and ever... Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing...
(Psalm 145)

1. Handwritten letters from a dear friend.
2. Clear blue skies after a week of dreary wet weather.
3. Older children who manage things so I can rest when I'm not well.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Psalm 98
1 O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.
2 The LORD hath made known his salvation: his righteousness hath he openly shewed in the sight of the heathen.
3 He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
4 Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.
5 Sing unto the LORD with the harp; with the harp, and the voice of a psalm.
6 With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the LORD, the King.
7 Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
8 Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together
9 Before the LORD; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Thankful Thursday
O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.
(Psalm 51:15)

1. Mike was off work today since it was Veteran's Day.
2. Friends who impute charitable motives even when I behave stupidly.
3. The patience God is growing in me by keeping the ISP down all day today.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

More on Advent

Part of what we’re trying to do in raising our children, is to bring them up in an environment that is so suffused with Scripture and the story of our salvation, that our lives are ordered according to God’s Word, not just on the intellectual and spiritual planes, but physically as well. We want the reality of God’s covenant to impress itself on our children through every possible means - through reading and listening to God’s Word of course, but also through the senses of taste and smell and touch, and through the very rhythm of our lives.

In his article on The Seasons of the Church Year, Dr. Dennis Bratcher writes:
We keep track of time and seasons of the year by using calendars that provide us opportunities to observe, commemorate, and celebrate certain events or occasions. The changing seasons of the year also provide us with recurring opportunities to celebrate the Christian Faith in worship. The Christian church, following earlier Jewish tradition, has long used the seasons of the year as an opportunity for festivals and holidays, sacred time set aside to worship God as the Lord of life.

While Jewish celebration revolves around the Exodus from Egypt, the Christian Church year focuses on the life and ministry of Jesus. The sequence of festivals from Advent to Resurrection Sunday becomes an annual spiritual journey for worshippers as they kneel at the manger, listen on a hillside, walk the streets of Jerusalem, hear the roar of the mob, stand beneath the cross, and witness the resurrection! The rest of the church year provides opportunity to reflect on the meaning of the coming of Jesus and his commission to his people to be a light to the world.

He has also written an article on The Season of Advent: Anticipation and Hope, which gives more information on the origins of Advent and suggestions for celebrating it. There are also articles that explain all of the Church seasons more fully than I can, plus he tells why Advent wreaths traditionally have three purple candles and one pink candle.

Allison posted three links in the comments to this post at Richard's blog, the second of which is the same as the one I posted just above. The third link there also has recipes for some yummy-looking treats.

I'm still looking for traditions and recipes associated with the celebrations of Pentecost and Ascension, as I mentioned at Carmon's blog last month Any tips would be greatly appreciated! BBG Valerie is also looking for info on celebrating the Church's holy days.

Just got a notice in my email from Doorposts about a booklet they are offering, Advent and Christmas in Family Worship. This booklet is new to me, but I've used several of their resources and have been very pleased with them.
Tomorrow is Thankful Thursday. What if I run out of things to be thankful for? Am I allowed to recycle thankful things? Or do I have to make my own rule?

Last weekend our storm door (actually, it's not a storm door, it's just all glass - but you know what I mean, it's not the house door) fell off its hinges, so Monday evening Mike and I went to Lowe's to buy a new one, which made me happy 'cause I've been wanting a real storm door, so I can have fresh air when it's nice out, or just light when it's too hot to have the window open. This one is really nice, and Mike and #1 Son got it almost completely installed this afternoon, all but the handle. You Muffin Mixes out there need to be sure that any potential suitor knows how to fix things. It's so nice having a husband who can do all of that kind of thing himself and teach our sons.

Also last weekend, we spent another evening contra dancing. Everyone has a blast except for the two oldest. They know the steps and are good dancers, but they are evidently too cool to have fun doing anything. I recommend teaching your kids to dance when they are small children so they will grow up enjoying it. Our 5 yod is just perfect - she remembers the steps, she smiles, she moves gracefully. My 4 yos is a very enthusiastic partner but he still cries when he doesn't get to dance with Mama. I'm pretty sure he'll outgrow that part, though.

Sora has a recipe for plum pudding that looks really good - no suet. I think I'll get one started this weekend.

Tuesday, November 9, 2004

Why celebrate Advent?

Kelly M asked a question in the comments to the post below that I thought was worth a whole post for an answer. Miss M asked:
Why do you celebrate Advent? I thought it was a Catholic celebration, but what you've posted doesn't look bad to me, so I'm not sure why the protestant church doesn't celebrate it too. And, what made you and Mr. Cumbee decide to start celebrating it?

The short answer is that while Mike and I both grew up in Christian homes and knew that Christmas was the celebration of the birth of our Savior, the focus of the actual celebration in our homes was the Christmas tree and the coming of Santa and presents. We wanted our celebration of Christmas in our own home to focus on why God sent his son, from his birth to his resurrection, and to downplay the "getting presents" part of it, and Advent seemed the ideal tool for doing that.

to be continued...

Sunday, November 7, 2004

Advent preparations

Reposting from last year - plus adding a few ideas.

Monday, November 24, 2003

Our old advent wreath finally broke down after being used more than half a decade, so I'm making a new one. It's not quite done yet - I ran out of greenery, but it's coming along...

I used a foam wreath form, one garland of greenery (n.b. the $2.99 garland from Hobby Lobby is puny - I'm going to have to buy another one), a bunch of holly, and bunch of ivy. I cut the branches off of the garland, and cut the holly and ivy into managable sizes, then stuck everything into the wreath form. It's pretty easy to get good looking results, and only costs about $20 to make, including the candles.

We have used the devotions from Christ in Christmas: A Family Advent Celebration for 10 or 11 years now. The kids love it so much that earlier this year, when Mosey heard Mike and me talking about making a few changes in our Advent celebration, she nearly broke down crying! They love doing the same things each year.

On the first Sunday of Advent, Saturday night for us, we turn out all the lights and the children try to walk around the living room without bumping into each other or the furniture. Then Mike quotes from Isaiah 9:2 "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light," and strikes the match to light the first candle.

This year we'd like to sing more Advent hymns during the season and save the really bright Christmas hymns for the Twelve Days of Christmas, but I only a few Advent hymns. Any ideas?

In the comments to that post, Kristen listed several of her favorite Advent hymns.

We first celebrated Advent in our second year of marriage when we were always broke, so the first Advent wreath I made was four white votive candles and a white pillar sitting on a round tray. No candle holders, and the tray was a wedding gift - total cost, probably less than $5. I don't think I even added any greenery since we were living in an apartment and besides being reluctant to cut greenery not my own, all we had were crape myrtles, and I doubt I would have used those, traditionalist that I am, but you see, you can put together a reasonable Advent "wreath" for very little money.

Also that year, we had not yet bought the book we are currently using, and I had no idea what were the traditions associated with each candle, so we just made up our own thing. For the first week, we read the creation and fall account with the first promise of the Messiah, but I don't remember what we did after that. If anyone is not able to buy a book of Advent devotions, I'd be happy to list the Scriptures and hymns used in our Advent book.

Two other good resources are the lectionaries used by the Reformed Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church - USA. They both list readings from the Psalms, the Old Testament, Epistles, and Gospels for each day of the year. The REC's lectionary also includes a collect, or prayer, for each week. The daily lectionary of the ECUSA begins on page 27. The ECUSA prayer book has two sets of collects, traditional, and contemporary.

Thursday, November 4, 2004

I'm sorry I've been such a slacker this last week - I just realized nothing has been posted here since last Thursday, but you know, I just couldn't think of anything to blog about. :-p

Thankful Thursday
O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good:
for his mercy endureth for ever.
Psalm 136

1. My step-dad, who had a nasty fall last week, is recovering nicely
2. The weather here has been so cool lately that my 13 year old son has been making a fire for us in the mornings
3. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength. (Isaiah 36:3,4)"

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Thankful Thursday
1. CiCi's Pizza
2. green tea
3. a doctor who listens to me!

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Oh, ah...
Kolbi has a new blog with a clever blogroll - each link has a brief description of the blog. If anyone happens to visit my blog based on Kolbi's description of it ("Such a sweet blog"), and if you happen to read the last post I just made, well, um, I'm not always so cynical. On my blog, anyway. Heh.
This is a "grass roots" movement?
Tonight was our monthly homeschool mom's meeting, and the first thing on the agenda was a talk by a local Republican party worker. It seems that our county is notoriously conservative, but the county just to the north of us is not quite so conservative, and that district is having a fairly tight race between the Republican and Democratic candidates for U.S. House of Representatives, plus the president is not quite comfortably far enough ahead of Mr. Kerry in that county. So this Official Republican Party Man (ORPM) has been authorized to go to all the homeschoolers and Christian schools in our county to ask them to travel up to the neighboring county seat this weekend, and spend three days, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, walking through neighborhoods passing out flyers, and standing around public places waving signs.

The ORPM explained that our neighboring county was somewhat conservative, but the conservative voters always made a better turnout after a lot of "grass roots campaigning." He then spoke a bit on what the weekend would involve, and assured the women present that money would be no object. The party is paying all expenses. Food, hotels, and travel costs (including chartering a bus, or paying for gas for the folks who prefer to take their own vehicle). All expenses paid.

A few of the women seemed interested, but after the OPRM was done, the mom who had introduced him thanked him, and then suggested to the other moms that if enough of them went, they'd be able to get one hotel room for the girls, one room for the boys, and one for the moms, "and we can have a fun mom's fellowship - and it won't cost us anything!" At least two more moms signed up at this point.

Needless to say, I was not one of them.

Monday, October 25, 2004

In my post last Thursday, I referred to my three-and-a-half-year-old son. He just informed me that he's not three and a half, he's four. I do not know where my brain has gone. It's not like this snuck up on me, or anything. I mean, he's been four since July. :-p

Define yourself
Somehow I missed the Triangulate! meme when it made the rounds last year, but Jon Amos revived it on his blog and it's so fun I'm passing it along now. From the game's creator: "[T]he idea of the game is to identify three facets of your personality. You can use 3 movies, 3 musical genres, 3 songs, 3 authors, 3 cars, 3 occupations, etc. to try to shows different sides of who you are. For example, I would say I'm one part banker, one part interior designer, and one part English teacher. Of course, these three things don't entirely define who I am, but they give you some idea of what I think about myself."

For now, I'm defining myself in terms of color. I am
1 part purple
1 part blue
1 part gray

Go ahead, try it. Define yourself.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

How lovely is Thy dwelling place,
O Lord of hosts to me!
The tabernacles of Thy grace
How pleasant, Lord, they be!

My thirsty soul longs ardently,
Yes, faints Thy courts to see;
My very heart and flesh cry out,
O living God, for Thee.

Behold the sparrow findeth out
A house wherein to rest;
The swallow also, for herself,
Provided hath a nest.

Ev’n Thine own altars, where she safe
Her young ones forth may bring,
O Thou, almighty Lord of hosts,
Who art my God and King.

Blest are they in Thy house that dwell,
They ever give Thee praise,
Blest is the man whose strength Thou art,
In whose heart are Thy ways.

Words: Scot­tish Psal­ter, 1650
Music: “McKee,” from an Af­ri­can-Amer­i­can spir­it­u­al, ar­ranged by Har­ry T. Bur­leigh (1866-1949)

My friend Laura (aka "dormitantius"), once quipped, "If a web log is a 'blog' wouldn't a book log be a 'klog'?" That was so clever I figured I'd better get one before everyone has one *wink, wink*, so here it is: http://www.badgermumsklog.blogspot.com/.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

More real bits for Donna and some mothering stuff for Kristen
Yesterday afternoon I dropped my eldest off at the library and took the two younger boys along for the ride. My three-and-a-half-year-old asked questions the whole entire trip which I tried really really hard to answer patiently and thoughtfully.

"Mama, how do spiders get in houses?"
"Mama, why are houses old?"
"Mama, what's that place?"
"Mama, what bus is that?"
"What persons go on it?"
"Where do they go?"
"Mama, what's that place?"
"Mama, where are we going?"
"Can I go in, too?"
"Mama, what's that's place?"
"What do persons need banks for?"
"Mama, is that a church?"
"Is that a church, too?"
"Why do they make all the churches here?"
"Mama, what's that place?"
"Why did God make wasps?"
"Do Luke cough?"

Though my voice was never raised, by this time having made my third wrong turn, dissolving into hysterics I told him not to ask me any more questions.

Margaret mentioned in a comment below that she had never heard me raise my voice to my children, and though I fail plenty, this is an area where God has really blessed me, so I want to share a couple of things I've learned along the way.

Before I married, I provided after-school care for K4 through 1st graders at a Christian school. On my first day of work, while sitting outside the classroom waiting for the teacher to introduce me, I resolved never to raise my voice to these children, a resolution which was broken on the playground less than an hour into the job when it was time for the kids to line up and go back inside. After work that day I bought myself a whistle that I trained the kids to respond to - one long blast meant "line up," and two short ones meant "stop!" - someone was either about to get hurt or was behaving badly.

After that first day, I never did raise my voice to those children, and by the end of the school year, after spending 25 hours a week with two dozen four to seven year olds, I concluded that God had uniquely gifted me to be a good mommy to a large family.

Ha! Pride goeth before a fall, and successfully managing several small children in a controlled environment for five hours a day is nothing at all like managing one or two small children in a normal house all day, every day, with no weekends off or vacations, but I did learn one valuable lesson that I've put into practice since that time - if at all possible, use a whistle or bell to call the kids when they are too far away or too spread out to speak to them in a normal tone of voice. Over the years we've used different bells to call the family to a meal or to call them in from play. You just don't want yelling to become a habit, or for your kids to be used to hearing your voice raised. That should be saved for extreme emergencies.

The other thing I've learned by experience is that when I do raise my voice in anger or frustration it's almost always because I neglected a problem when it was small and more easily dealt with and didn't get around to taking care of it until after it had gotten big enough to make me angry. I've also learned to pay attention when I'm just plain irritable because it's so easy to sound angry or peevish or to respond sarcastically without noticing it. There are days when I have to take a deep cleansing breath and pray quickly, Oh God, HELP! almost every time I open my mouth to speak!

And I will gladly confess that the reason I pay so much attention to this area and work so hard on it is because it's such a weakness for me. Oh how my flesh enjoys the sins of the tongue, and oh how thankful I am that God has heard my many many prayers and is conforming me to the image of his son!

Identify your particular weaknesses early on, and begin working on them soon, before your sin has hurt your children. For me, this means not only curbing angry or sarcastic speech but making the effort to smile and to speak with kindness and gentleness even when I don't feel like it.

And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Oh my goodness, I forgot! It's Thursday!
Behold, bless ye the LORD, all ye servants of the LORD, which by night stand in the house of the LORD. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD. The LORD that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion. (Psalm 134)

1. A funny daughter. Just now when I realized that I hadn't posted my "thankful three" yet, I, in a semi-panic, asked my eldest, "What am I thankful for today?" and she replied, "Food, clothing, and shelter," knowing full well that I was asking for something really specific. Well, it made me laugh, anyway.

2. Liturgical worship. Just this week Psalm 134 made a strong impression on me because of our evening prayers. Most nights we use Evening Prayers from Lutheran Worship and the last thing before the benediction, the leader sings, "Let us bless the Lord." The response is, "Thanks be to God." How awesome is that? God is blessed when we thank him for his many blessings on us!

3. Fall leaves. My youngest are out back right now raking up the leaves then playing in them and raking them up again. Fall always reminds me of being a little girl.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

New exercise routine if you're over 40 (and even if you're not). You might want to take it easy at first, then do it faster as you become more proficient. It may be too strenuous for some.

(This routine was sent to me by my dear friend Heidi this morning and I want to offer her my deepest gratitude for showing such loving concern for my general health and well-being. She is a true friend.)

Always consult your doctor before starting any exercise program!



That's enough for the first day. Have some chocolate.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

I to the hills will lift my eyes;
O whence shall come my aid?
My help is from the Lord alone,
Who Heav’n and earth has made.

He will not let thy foot be moved,
Thy Guardian never sleeps;
With watchful and unslumbering care,
His own He safely keeps.

Thy faithful Keeper is the Lord,
Thy Shelter and thy Shade;
’Neath sun or moon, by day or night,
Thou shalt not be afraid.

From evil He will keep thee safe,
For thee He will provide;
Thy going out, thy coming in,
Forever He will guide.

Words: The Psalter, 1912.
Music: “Dundee,” Scottish Psalter, 1615

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Updating sidebar
Several new blogs plus a weather pixie have been added in the last few weeks, and I'm updating my book list. I read several while I was on hiatus this summer but I didn't keep track of them so I'm not sure I have them all listed. It's been very helpful having an easily referenced list as it's encouraged me to read more. My reading of real books droppoed off rather precipitously when I discovered the internet. :-(

The Lord's Service has been on that list all summer long, and yes, I really am still reading it! I haven't progressed very far because I keep re-reading the same sections! What would you do - keep on reading it slowly, not progressing beyond a paragraph or two a week, or just finish the book really fast, knowing that you could always come back to it later for more in-depth reading?
This Thursday's Thankfulest Things are...

1. A periwinkle-flowered* garden

This is the "blueberry hill" we built in the spring of 2003 and planted with eight blueberries, all of which have died. However! the blue asters, blue salvia, pincusion flowers, lavendar, evoluvus, lamb's ears, and sage are all doing nicely, as are the various white and yellow roses, and I am happy.
*For Valerie, who knows how much I love periwinkle

2. A hard-working hubby

We have five rose bushes growing here beside the driveway, and before Monday, they were accompanied by a thin strip of lamb's ears transplanted from the blueberry hill, and completely surrounded (and sometimes engulfed) by grass. Here, Mike is digging up all the grass and making it into a real bed where, later that afternoon, he helped me plant four dozen daffodil bulbs, pink, white, and yellow snapdragons, pink and white petunias, two pineapple sages and two red-flowering sages, and more lamb's ears. Unfortunately, I forgot to take an "after" picture.

3. A very good book
Last week, Carmon had a poll in her sidebar asking which Jane Austen novel is your favorite, and I had to answer "Please don't make me choose!" Peter Leithart's excellent explanations of the major themes of each novel just cemented my prior conviction - my favorite Jane Austen book is whichever one I happen to be reading at the time.

You simply must get this book! And don't forget - "Real Men Read Austen." :-D

Monday, October 11, 2004

Happy tired
Been gardening all day. Took lots of pics. Too tired to poszzzz.....

Saturday, October 9, 2004

Praise God, ye servants of the Lord,
O praise His Name with one accord;
Bless ye the Lord, His Name adore
From this time forth forevermore,
From this time forth forevermore.

From rising unto setting sun
Praised be the Lord, the Mighty One;
He reigns o’er all, supreme in might,
Above the heavens in glory bright,
Above the heavens in glory bright.

On whom but God can we rely,
The Lord our God Who reigns on high,
Who condescends to see and know
The things of heaven and earth below,
The things of heaven and earth below?

He lifts the poor and makes them great,
With joy He fills the desolate;
Praise ye the Lord and bless His Name,
His mercy and His might proclaim,
His mercy and His might proclaim.

Words: The Psalter, 1912
Music: “Andre,” William B. Bradbury

Friday, October 8, 2004

The BadgerMum's simple 3-point plan for getting your house clean and clutter-free:
1. Put the books, good furniture, and items you simply cannot part with on a U-Haul
2. Call the local charity and ask them to pick up everything that's left
3. Move into a new house

There you have it: simple, elegant, stress-free.

Also not very practical if you’re not in the military and don’t move every few years.

Yes, I know it’s dreadful, but I honestly don’t know how to deep-clean a house without moving! The easiest way for me really deal with clutter is to strip a room down to its bare necesseties, and then replace only what must be in that room according to its function.

I did just that last week in the school room. It was so messy-looking with three student desks and three sets of track-and-bracket shelves on the walls, a fish tank, a computerless computer desk, and never enough room for all the books and notebooks and other supplies, so we went to the stuff-mart and bought two white five-shelf bookcases and two matching white storage cabinets. These we placed neatly all against one wall, with the bookcases, which are taller, in the middle and one cabinet on each end. The room is just over 12 feet long so they fit with a few inches to spare.

In place of the desks, we moved in the 3’ by 5’ kitchen table, and placed it with one end up against the wall under the window. Mr. Fish is now happily residing in the corner of the room nearest to the dining room/library. The computer desk, now serving as a plant stand, and two of the student desks, sitting back-to-back, fulfill the table's former duties in the kitchen's breakfast nook.

The school room looks so much better now! One solid wall of storage and one large table provide a visual unity that is much more attractive than the cluttery disunity of three separate study areas. The table has room for the three oldest children to study at the same time, and this evening it provided a comfortable place for Elai and me to sit and chat in a relatively private spot.

And having storage behind closed doors is absolutely essential to my sanity, if you know what I mean.

Thursday, October 7, 2004

Thankful Thursday!
1. the peace that passes understanding

2. early morning quietness

3. friends who check in every Thursday to add their own thanksgiving lists; they motivate me to keep on being thankful :-)

4. Valerie is back!

Wednesday, October 6, 2004

There is so much to love about fall
the stultifying heat of summer is over
migrating songbirds have returned to us
the wind is refreshing
pecans are falling and pumpkins ripening
cool evenings and mornings have returned
we sleep with our bedroom windows open
the air smells clean

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Surrogate blogging

Liza Q's family has been studying the middle ages, so for Michaelmas they put on a medievel feast, including a dramatization of the story of St. George and the Dragon. Liza has generously allowed me to share these photos of their day, along with a few notes on how the day went. Thanks, Liza!

Some random thoughts on the day...

We got some ideas about Michaelmas from Catherine Called Birdy and The Royal Diaries:Elizabeth 1.

Our soundtrack (The Chieftains, The Battlefield Band and The Benedictine Monks of Santo Domingo de Silos) was lovely.

Peasants preparing the feast

Our home-made (no sewing, just scrounging around our closets and the dress-up clothes box) peasant costumes came out better than we expected!

Noble guests

Our store-bought costumes were very pretty.

Liza's ideas for the food were very creative:
The duck, which was easier to locate than a goose, was easy to make and tasted better than I remembered. Doing many things the easy way (like buying canned soup and bread from the bakery) made for a very relaxing time. Not authentic, but still lots of fun. Adding almond extract to French Vanilla pudding mix works very well. Marzipan looks better than it tastes. OK, that's just Mom's opinion - some of my children strongly disagree!

Valiant St. George and the beautiful princess Una

Una's costume was bought at a medieval festival sponsored by Medieval Adventures.

St. George triumphs over the dragon!

Friday, October 1, 2004

The thing I greatly feared has come upon me
The cordless phone is lost... and I can't page it because the battery has gone dead!

A funny cloud formation that I saw at Twylah's blog yesterday reminded me of some strange clouds we had this summer. The younger kids came running into the house shouting, "Mama, there are hands in the sky!"

So I went out, looked straight up, and saw this:

The sky was covered with this strange formation, but it only looked hand-like directly overhead. Off at an angle, this was the view:

Have you ever seen anything like that? The clouds were rolling and churning, but they kept that finger-like formation the whole time.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Thankful Thursday
The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage. (Psalm 16:6)

1. First day of school!
2. Sausage and eggs for breakfast
3. An early-rising husband who always gets the coffee started in the morning
Bedtime Stories
Mike and the two oldest boys were still at the fellowship hall cleaning up from Wednesday night dinner and Bible study. The two oldest girls had come home with me to help me get the three little ones to bed, and so far two of them were jammied and had their teeth brushed, but John was missing. Searching for him, I heard a little voice coming from my bedroom saying, "It's time for church." I peeked in and saw John holding the almost-life-sized Raggedy Ann doll my mother gave me long ago. Raggedy Ann had my white Sunday purse over her left arm just the way I wear it, and John was placing my straw hat upon her head. "It's time to go to church!" John repeated cheerfully.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Senescent bloggers
And I don't mean that in the insulting way that the thesaurus uses it, I mean it in the Biblical sense - The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness (Proverbs 16:31), and Thou shalt rise up before the hoary head, and honour the face of the old man, and fear thy God: I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:32)

If you haven't met Sam and Lois yet, you need to get on over there and do so, now. They are a godly couple, probably the oldest bloggers in the world, and you can surely glean some wisdom from them. Besides that, Lois is really funny!

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

For Liza Q
Studium Discere Tutorials offers classes in Latin, Logic, Rhetoric, and World History taught by Peter Roise, a graduate of New Saint Andrews College, who has an extensive knowledge of world history and a knack for teaching his students to see God's providence in history. Last year my oldest began taking his two year World History class (year 1 syllabus here), and is continuing with WH2 this year (syllabus here). Mr. Roise begins the class with Genesis 1:1 and weaves world history in with Scripture, to show students when the events in the Bible occured and how they fit in with what was going elsewhere in the world. In the process some pretty interesting information is brought to light, like the fact that King Ahab was recorded in contemporary documents as a wealthy and powerful king, and was highly respected and considered to be Israel's greatest ruler... by the pagan kings around him. (Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.) The students read a lot of primary source material, outlining each book as they read it, and they turn in two term papers per year. This class has worked out well for us since my daughter needed more challenging material and more structure than I can provide at this time.

Tomorrow is Michaelmas or, more properly, The Feast of Saint Michael and All Angels, and since we always have our feasts on the night before, tonight we'll be having a special thanksgiving meal using many of the ideas that Liza mentioned in a comment this summer.
Facts on Michaelmas from the Internet.

1. Harvest Festival, around the Fall Equinox. Autumn is our favorite season around here so I'm up for adding a holiday.
2. End of blackberry season (this was pretty funny, with Satan falling in the brambles!!) Maybe we'll have some Polaner All-Fruit Blackberry.
3. Goose. Is that like duck? I don't like duck. Can I substitute a roast chicken??
4. Storehouses filled. We could stock up at BJs.
5. St. George is involved somehow. Sounds like a good time to read the Hodges/Hyman book - my little ones have never seen it.
6. Celtic, as far as I can tell. I have a great CD of Scottish Music (The Battlefield Band) that we can listen to.

So, a new holiday, chez Q. We can do a big shopping in the morning, eat PBJ (blackberry, not grape) for lunch, listen to the CD while we are putting away all our shopping stuff, read St. George (and other fairy tales with lovely illustrations), read about Satan's fall (not sure about the brambles, though...) and have a Feast with Mock-Goose, harvesty vegetables (carrots/turnips?), a BIG loaf of bread (another tradition I saw) and some kind of harvesty dessert - Apple Crisp with Ice Cream sounds good.

If we do it, I'll let you know how it goes!

I'm planning on serving spaghetti squash with meat and tomato sauce, sauteed zucchini and yellow squash with onions, homemade bread with blackberry jam, and apple crisp and ice cream for dessert. Tomorrow we'll listen to Celtic music and read St. George and the Dragon. Thanks, Liza, for all the ideas! Before you posted that, I knew nothing at all of the traditions associated with this feast.

When I was growing up we always started school around the 20th of August, but when I started homeschooling my own children the first day of school was the day after Labor Day, which seemed like a nice "traditional" time to start school. (You can see I'm big on tradition!) But then three years ago, when we learned that there was such a thing as a Church calendar and Church year, we began to rethink the way we order our lives - should it be according to the state year or the church year? Well, when you word the question that way, there's only one obvious answer, so we've been gradually reorienting ourselves to the Church year, starting by having more focused family devotions and Scripture readings during Holy Week, then adding the Christmas season (we were already celebrating Advent). So this summer when I was planning out the coming shcool year, I decided to find a Church holy day to mark the beginning of the school year. I admit I was pretty haphazard in the effort. My method was simply to look at the church calendar and pick a convenient day in September, which happens to have two holy days - Holy Cross, on the 14th and Michaelmas, on the 29th. In my brief research, I learned that the colleges in England traditionally began the year at Michaelmas, so from now on the 30th of September will be the official first day of school for us.

Now it's story time with my little ones - we're reading through The Chronicles of Narnia, so I'll sign off with an appropriate Psalm. God's blessings on you all!
Psalm 91
1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
9 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
I really ought to blog something
but I can't think of anything to say!

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Thankful Thursday!
1. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3-12)

2. rain and cool weather

3. R.C. jr

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

My, my. The things one learns while living a semi-agrarian lifestyle!
Every end-of-summer pecan trees do this thing called "sapping." That is, they rain down icky sticky sap all over the place. Of course the important thing is to remember this in the spring when you're telling your husband where you want him to put the new clothes line he's making you.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Ah! This is why I'm a mommy.
Just now my four year old son brought me a little plate with a buttered biscuit on it, and said, "Here you go, Mama."

"Thanks, Sweetie," I said.

"You're welcome, Darlin," came the reply.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Urgent prayer request
Carmon's little son fell this afternoon and suffered a pretty serious head injury. Please pray for him.

Update: Baby William has a concussion, but is otherwise uninjured and is expected to come home today. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

This day at Thy creating Word
First o’er the earth the light was poured:
O Lord, this day upon us shine
And fill our souls with light divine.

This day the Lord for sinners slain
In might victorious rose again:
O Jesus, may we raisèd be
From death of sin to life in Thee!

This day the Holy Spirit came
With fiery tongues of cloven flame:
O Spirit, fill our hearts this day
With grace to hear and grace to pray.

O day of light and life and grace,
From earthly toil sweet resting place,
Thy hallowed hours, blest gift of love,
Give we again to God above.

All praise to God the Father be,
All praise, eternal Son, to Thee,
Whom, with the Spirit, we adore
Forever and forevermore.

Words: William W. How, 1871
Music: “Winchester New,”
Mu­sik­al­isch­es Hand­buch (Ham­burg, Ger­ma­ny: 1690); har­mon­ized by William H. Monk, 1847, alt.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

I can't stand it anymore! I must blog!
... so I'm back, even though we're still two weeks away from Michaelmas. I'm just not accomplishing some of the big stuff I'd hoped to get done - like the big organizing jobs and the deep cleaning - the heat just drags me down so much.

But! I have accomplished some reorganization in my weekly schedule. Nathan's speech and occupational therapy are being moved from Tuesday and Thursday mornings to after lunch, plus Katherine's World History 2 class is from 2:30 - 4:30 Tuesday afternoon where her WH1 class was 10:00 - 12:00 Tuesday morning last year. Both of these changes have made the afternoons seem more productive around here. I tend to get most of our schoolwork done in the mornings, and I don't usually have much energy for anything in the afternoons, so this has been a good change. I'm looking for "low energy" work I can do in the afternoons, and one of the things I've been doing is folding laundry while listening to taped history lectures with Stephen.

To celebrate my return I've worked up my own "50 Things I Love" list. I had trouble stopping at fifty, so for this list, I left out the two things I love the most - my God and my family - and I only listed chocolate once. ;-)

~Alfred the Great
~Angels in the Architecture
~anyone lived in a pretty how town
~baby kisses
~Beyond Stateliest Marble
~black olives
~blue salvia growing beside yellow roses
~the Buffalo River
~Craftsman-style architecture
~dark wood furniture
~driving fast
~Ephesians 4
~fettuccine Alfredo
~fresh pineapple
~hardwood floors
~homemade chocolate chip cookies eaten while hot from the oven and with a tall glass of milk
~Lord Peter Wimsey
~Martha Washington
~Mike's grandmother's hands
~Mr. Knightley
~old-fashioned orange daylilies
~the pearl earrings Mike gave me for Christmas
~the platform of the Constitution Party
~pretty hats, long swishy skirts, and high heels
~Psalm 24
~Robert E. Lee
~Samuel Adams
~singing the Doxology before supper
~Sir Percy Blakeney
~the soundrack to Les Miserables, especially Jean Valjean's prayer for Marius, "Bring Him Home"
~St. George and the Dragon
~Steve Wilkins' The Lord's Supper and our Children series
~Stonewall Jackson
~So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God created he him;
male and female created he them.

~taking a hot shower after gardening
~the Virginia Reel
~Vivaldi's Gloria
~Walt Disney's "Sleeping Beauty"
~when the pastor holds up the bread and wine and says, "These are the gifts of God for the people of God"
~white lace curtains and bed linens

Sunday, August 1, 2004

Out of town guests, housecleaning, travelling, school planning... Y'all have a great end-of-summer, and I'll be back before Michaelmas!

Thursday, July 29, 2004

The Gnu complimented something I wrote.
Thankful Thursday

Today I'm thankful for:
1.  the break from the heat we had this week - we've had cooler weather and lots of rain, which is unusual for this time of year, and in fact, it was so cool on Monday that I didn't have to run the air conditioner all day!
2.  our Wednesday night Bible study - we have a small group that meets at the base chapel to study R.C. Sproul's Dust to Glory series, and yesterday we were unable to get the key to the fellowship hall, so we called around and asked everyone to come to our house for the Bible study, and they did, and it was a lot of fun
3.  my 13 year old son who is diligently studying his math right now because he wants to be an engineer when he grows up and design and fly airplanes

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Recent Reading
The Dove in the Eagle's Nest, by Charlotte Yonge
A gentle woman changes a family's destiny by being faithful to God. This was an exciting story, but as with all the Victorian authors, before you actually get to the story, so have to wade through several pages of descriptions of the world and they that dwell therein.

The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Baroness Orczy
Chivalry... Romance... Intrigue... Danger... What a sweet story! Everybody should read this book, espcially if you're married - it'll make you a better wife (or husband, as the case may be).

Monday, July 26, 2004

Homeschool stuff
Last school year Elai took the first year of a two-year world history class taught by Peter Roise, a graduate of New St. Andrews College. The online tutorial covered a lot of material as you can see by this syllabus, and the second year will be just as rigorous. I always tried to work it out so that the little kids were playing somewhere quietly so I could fold laundry and listen in on the classes because they were so interesting.

Mr. Roise will also be speaking at the Heritage Homeschool Conference in Weatherford, TX, August the 20th and 21st, which we are planning to attend. This conference is free, and children are invited to attend. Hey Samantha! It'd be great if you went to the conference - I'd love to meet you!

Thursday, July 22, 2004

Isn't that cute? I found it at Selah's blog.

Today I'm most especially thankful for:

1. Ben and Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk ice cream

2. The wonderfully wise and godly men God has given to the Church over the generations - "We have this treasure in earthen vessels..." - I'm thinking particularly of the men who've been my pastors, John Wright, L.A. Joiner, Lee Barnes, Gary Sanders, and Pete Hurst.

3. Valerie, Alexandra, Byron, Carmon, Dawn, Janet, Julie, Kaffeine, Kelly M., Kore, Kristen, Kurt, Leslie, Liza Q, Phillip, Samantha, Sing Hey!, Summer, and Swirly Girly who've all been so sweet to tell me what they're thankful for.

Tag! You're it!

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

I think I've just been insulted
Just now I was singing "Abide with Me" to Lilian for her lullaby and she did something she's never done before - put her finger to her lips and said, "Shh."

Monday, July 19, 2004

Shoes and ships and sealing wax and cabbages and kings...
First of all, blogger has changed again, but this seems to be a reasonable change - it sort of looks like typing in Word, and you can change fonts and colors and stuff, but I don't feel like experimenting right now.  It also has a spell checker, and I really think they need to consider whether the dictonary they're using is quite up to date, or if maybe they should add some special blogger language to it, like, for instance, the word "blogger." :-p
Next, a bit about church this morning 
Part of the Epistle reading was Colossians 1:21-23, "You who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him-- provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel."  One wonders what the anti-Federal Vision people make of that.    
About halfway through the service, Lilian got fussy, so I took her out to the van to give her a little private practice in Sitting Patiently on Mama's Lap When Required.  Some advances were made, but I think it would be wise to practice at 10 o'clock every morning this week so she'll be in the habit by next Sunday. 
Random thoughts about what I've been reading and listening to lately 
Busman's Honeymoon was really good but it was only incidentally a murder mystery.  It was really about marriage, and in reading it I find that I really don't understand Lord Peter and Harriet a bit.  Why are they so concerned about maintaining independence and a kind of aloofness?  They seem almost afraid of their love for one another.  
Since I've just finished the end of the story of Lord Peter and Harriet, I decided to go back and reread Strong Poison, the book where they first met.  I think I remember who actually killed the guy that Harriet was accused of killing and how he did it, but it's still fun reading it to see if I can pick up on the clues, and hopefully to gain some insight into Lord Peter's and Harriet's way of interacting with each other in Busman's Honeymoon.  
Friday I listened to Peter Leithart's lecture from the 2001 CWSC entitled "The Why and How of Reading," in which he said that when rereading a book, it is good to remember the end of the story because you may pick up on things that you missed the first time through.  His lectures on Jane Austen are excellent ("Repeat after me: Real Men Read Austen."), and right now I'm in the middle of listening to John Hodges' lectures on Beauty.
I'm also reading Jeff Meyers' The Lord's Service which has been a wonderful experience.  I may blog more about it later if I can ever find words to express what I'm learning from the book.
At the conference, Mike bought Abraham Kuyper's Lectures on Calvin for me and I read the introduction and the first part of the first chapter this afternoon.  The biographical info in the introduction focused almost exclusively on Dr. Kuyper's academic and political credentials and mentioned nothing at all about his family.  When I read a man's biography, what I really want to know is who were his wife and children, and what are his grandchildren and great-grandchildren doing today?  That, I think, is the real measure of the man, moreso than his published works.  But of course, it's possible he never married.  I wonder if Google will tell me anything?
And finally, What We Did This Evening
There were two or three dances at the Christian Worldview Student Conference, and Mike finally had the pleasure of dancing the Virginia Reel.  He had a good time dancing with Elai, and noticed the ridiculous number of young men standing around not dancing, and that far too many of the couples were girls dancing with girls for want of male partners, so he was inspired not only to try to encourage the young men to oblige the ladies and to set the standard himself, but also to teach us the Virginia Reel, and is considering dance lessons for all of us so that our own young men will be better equipped when they are old enough to attend the conference.  So we took the leaves out of the big table and shoved it into the school room so we'd have space to dance, and spent two hours this evening dancing!  Our family is fortunate enough to have four couples, and it was great fun, though by seven o'clock we were all hot and sweaty, so we sent the kids out to play in the sprinkler.  A frabjous day! Calooh! Callay!

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Thursday's Thankful Three
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

1. I'm so thankful that after traveling half way across the continent and back, Mike and Elaienar and NaeNae got home safely today about an hour ago.
2. They brought me books!
3. Mike takes me out every Thursday night for coffee and dessert.
As always, I very much enjoy reading what y'all are thankful for!

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Remember the thing I blogged about the last two Tuesdays?
Well, last night it didn't happen again! Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name!

What did happen last night was that my sister came, bringing with her Dibbuns Numbers Two and Three, who've been at my mom's for longer than I can remember, at least three weeks! On Thursday, Husband and Dibbuns Numbers One and Four will be home and we'll finally be all together again after being scattered across the face of the earth for nearly a month.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Me and my faulty memory
I was at Ladies Against Feminism last week and took a circuitous route through their links eventually winding up at this page, which seems vaguely familiar. Did one of you ladies blog about these books recently? If not, have any of you read any of them and would you recommend them?
I love Dorothy Sayers!
Whatever fantastic pictures she had from time to time conjured up of married life with Peter, none of them had ever included attendance at village concerts. But of course they would go. She understood now why it was that with all his masking attitudes, all his cosmopolitan self-adaptations, all his odd spiritual reticences and escapes, he yet carrried about with him that permanent atmosphere of security. He belonged to an ordered society, and this was it. More than any of the friends in her own world, he spoke the familiar language of her childhood. In London, anybody, at any moment, might do or become anything. But in a village - no matter what village - they were all immutably themsleves; parson, organist, sweep, duke's son and doctor's daughter, moving like chessmen upon their alloted squares. She was curiously excited. She thought, "I have married England." Her fingers tightened on his arm.
~from Busman's Honeymoon

Thursday, July 8, 2004

If I were poetic I'd write an ode to the quiet joy of standing in my kitchen listening to the percolator and talking with Lilian as she eats her lunch, and looking out the window to see the napkins and t-shirts and baby dresses dancing on the clothesline.
Thursday's Thankful Three
1. Internet friends who pray for me when I need it
2. Mrs. Brown, the widow from church who stayed with my babies for more than four hours on Tuesday so I could rest, and spent the whole time reading to them
3. Feather pillows, a comfy bed, sweet dreams, and a good night's sleep - I dreamt that Doug Wilson blogged, but that, evidently, is too much to hope for!

Now it's your turn - what are y'all thankful for?

Tuesday, July 6, 2004

Well that was a little bit annoying!
Y'all remember what I blogged last Tuesday? Well, it happened again last night, in just the same way, except of course I hadn't had the doctor appointment in the afternoon, and my neighbor across the street took me to the hospital while his wife watched my babies.

I'm going to see my regular doctor about this and get allergy-tested later this week. And tomorrow my mommy is coming back to take care of me. :-) I spoke too soon. My mom can't come after all, but I do have two ladies from church who are looking in on me, and the neighbors across the street and next door. :-)

Monday, July 5, 2004

Did something today I've never done before - picked corn! I got two dozen ears out of the garden, and opened up two of them. They're plump and juicy and beautiful. Unfortunately, my gardening books only tell me how to grow stuff. They don't tell me what to do with it when it's done, so now what? Am I supposed to shuck it all now, or what?

Also, I saw something very strange inside of what's supposed to be an ear of corn, also unfortunately I couldn't tell if it was a disease or a colony of bugs or a monster from outer space. =8^0

Sunday, July 4, 2004

Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Collect for the day from the Episcopal Lectionary

Yesterday, when I was trying to find a hymn for today based upon today's Psalm, the 66th, part of which is quoted below my blog title, I found this one which I'd never seen before:
And truly it is a most glorious thing
Thus to hear men pray and God’s praises sing,
O how great comfort is it now to see—
The churches to enjoy full liberty.
And to have the Gospel preachèd here with power,
And such wolves repelled as all would else devour.

But God will still for His people provide
Such as be able them to help and guide,
If they cleave to Him and do not forsake—
His laws and truth and their own ways do take.
If thou hast viewed the camp of Israel,
How God in the wilderness with them did dwell.

His great and marvelous works they here saw,
And He them taught in His most holy law,
A small emblem hereof thou mayest see,
How God hath dealt with them in some degree,
For much of Himself they now there have seen,
And marvelous to them His works have been.

Words: William Bradford, 1623
Music: “Song 24 (Gibbons),” Orlando Gibbons, 1623

It is the only hymn written by William Bradford, and I thought it particularly fitting for this weekend on which we celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Clothed With Christ in Worship
This is so good I'm quoting the whole thing. It is far too easy to become complacent about our sin and need for a Saviour, isn't it?
Never forget that God sees the heart. He knows every thought, every intention, every motive, every excuse, every rationalization, and every motion in your mind.

This is the God you gather before in worship. Nothing is obscure to Him simply because you are surrounded by others. Nothing is hidden from Him simply because others are older, or younger. Nothing can be pushed off on others.

You appear before the Lord naked, and this is why you must take care to clothe yourselves with Christ. Every other attempt at clothing yourself is futile, and insulting to Him who made the wedding garment, and graciously offered it for you to wear.

Look down at your covenantal hands. You hold a priceless robe given to you, without price, without cost to you. That robe was purchased by the blood of the Son of God, that robe is the Son of God Himself.

You have come to worship His Father, the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ, and He has offered you this priestly garment. You had better put it on.

Thursday, July 1, 2004

Thursday's Thankful Thoughts
I thought it would be fun and constructive to post three things every Thursday for which I'm thankful, as part of my learning to thank God for everything. I picked Thursday for several reasons: the alliteration is fun, I was born on a Thursday, Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday... Well, you might as well know that I was born on Thanksgiving - does God have a sense of humor, or what?

So, this week's list (and please note, I didn't make any effort to come up with "spiritual" things here):
1) My dear husband gets up early every single day and goes to work without complaining, even though his workplace is a real drag (Okay, this one's a gimme - every wife is told to be thankful for this, but really, I think Mike is great for sticking with the military for 21 years. I'd've been courtmartialed a long time ago. And besides, it's the first thing I thought of).
2) There's a mourning dove singing outside the window right now.
3) We have air conditioning, and Mike lets me run it as much I want, even though he's not nearly as hot-natured as I am.

I'd love to read what y'all are thankful for today.


Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Well, that was a little bit scary!
Last night, for the first time since I was two years old and ate a whole bottle of St. Joseph Baby Aspirin (I loved that orange flavor!), and had to get my stomach pumped (and yes, I do still remember that - how could I forget?), I went... (no, wait - there's the time when I was five and I was climbing onto the TV to reach something, and yes, my mom had told me not to do that, but I wasn't content to wait for her help, and the TV fell on my foot and broke all the bones) to the emergency room for my own malady and not someone else's.

It happened like this: Yesterday afternoon I went to the ENT for a check up, and while there, he used a local anesthetic in my nose so he could do something rather indelicate that I'd prefer not to discuss in this venue. That was about 4 pm. Later that evening, I took another dose of my antibiotic, plus a shot of the steroid spray the doctor had given me, and went to be early, about 8 pm, because I wasn't feeling well, but I couldn't sleep so I got back up around 10.

My ears and my throat were feeling so itchy. As the evening progressed, the itchiness did, too, until about 11 I couldn't stop coughing, and my whole neck and upper chest felt itchy too, so took a very large dose of liquid Benedryl, and told Mike I felt like it might be an allergic reaction to something. At that point, my throat closed up and I couldn't talk anymore!

I could still breathe okay, or we'd have gone straight to the emergency room.

If we still lived in the good old days, when all military bases had a fully-functioning hospital on base, we'd have gone straight to the emergency room.

But these are not the good old days, these are the New and Improved Days, where you can't go to a civilian emergency room without authorization from the military health care HMO (Did I ever mention that HMOs are the invention of the devil? Well, they are!), so Mike began the process of getting permission to take me.

First he called the HMO emergency number and waited and waited while it rang, then waited and waited on hold, and finally got a real live human being to talk to, and explained the situation. Then he hung up and waited while the HMO person called a doctor and explained it all to him to so he could call us back and tell us to do what we already knew we needed to do. After several minutes the doctor called, and Mike explained the whole sitation to him, in great detail, and the doctor said the Magic Words: "Take her to the emergency room."

So after half an hour of jumping through New and Improved Hoops (I'm sure that this is why that word, "Nih!" is so scary!), we set off for the emergency room of the hospital on the other side of town. Not the one closer to us where I had my surgery, oh no, that hospital, for some reason (New and Improved, I'm sure) is not on the emergency room list.

By the time we got there, the Benedryl had taken effect and the symptoms had quit progressing, but I was getting so sleepy that I couldn't do the emergency room paperwork you have to do before the nurse will take a look at you. So Mike did all the paperwork, and then the nurse talked to me, and I whispered hoarsely to the nurse, and then they put me in a room where I took a nap while I waited for the doctor to come.

Skipping over several dull details, the doctor gave me some steroid tablets to reduce the swelling in my throat, and told me not to take any more medicine until I had told the ENT what had happened.

Mike called the ENT's office for me this morning and talked to the nurse (the doc is in surgery all day on Tuesday), and she said I should quit taking the antibiotic.

So, I don't really know what happened. Was it a reaction to something I'd taken? Or to some combination of the things I was taking? Or something completely unrelated? I suppose I'll need to talk to the doctor again tomorrow when he's in his office. In the meantime, I'm going back to bed.

This recovery is taking a lot longer than I'd expected. I'm not used to being sick.

Monday, June 28, 2004

The nose knows
In my high school anatomy and physiology class, the teacher told us that the sense of smell was so important to taste that if a person were blindfolded and held his nose, he wouldn't be able to taste the difference between a raw potato, an onion, and an apple. She never demonstrated this for us, so I remained skeptical - it just seems like you'd be able to feel the starchiness of the potato and the crumbly apple texture and the way onions come apart in layers, doesn't it?

Well, I'm not volunteering for the experiment, but let me tell you, without a sense of smell most food is just texture and temperature. During my stay in the recovery room, the nurse (did I ever mention that recovery room nurses are the sweetest people on earth? - well they are!) brought me a cup of chicken noodle soup.

It tasted like warm water with slimy chunks in it.

After one bite of the chunks, I decided I'd just drink the warm water part and leave the chunky part in the cup.

When I got home that afternoon, I had a cup of coffee. Now I'm sure you have seen the diagram of the different taste bud areas on the human tongue: sweet here, sour here, salt here, and bitter here. I could never remember where each region was, but that cup of coffee taught me forever exactly where the bitter region is - it's on the back of the tongue, the whole back of the tongue from one edge to the other. It's a really large area!

On the morning after my surgery, my mom brought me breakfast in bed - scrambled eggs, sausages and toast. Mmm, yummy! I made it all into a sandwich, looking forward to eating one of my favorite things for breakfast, and took the first bite, and discovered for the first time that if you can't smell, toast is merely dry, scrambled eggs are damp and bland, and sausage is salty.

I only managed two or three bites before I set it aside.

When my mom came back to get the plate, she said , "Aren't you hungry?"

"I just don't have any appetite," I said.

"Well, that's good," said my mom, a reply which made me realize afresh that my dear mother, bless her heart, is one of those mysterious individuals who inexplicably values the measurement of one's waist more than the enjoyment of one's food. She must not be a Hobbit.

Then, on Saturday night I was making gravy for supper and I realized I had no idea whether it was any good. I hardly ever use recipes when I cook; I just taste the food and if it's not right I add this or that until it is right. And tonight I made bubble and squeak, one of our favorites, but I could only tolerate a few bites of it. I have, however, permanently learned that the salt taste buds are along the edges of the tongue, near the front.

Mexican food is still pretty tasty, even if the main flavor is "hot." Also Starbuck's Frapuccinos are very tasty, since they are a perfect blend of bitter and sweet with plenty of ice chips and whipped cream to make a nice sensation on the tongue.

The doctor said that I could expect to have my sense of smell back within six weeks of the surgery. While I'm waiting, I'm learning to praise God for the amazingly complicated way he made such a simple pleasure as taste.

And praying I don't gain too much weight from all the frapuccinos! ;-)
Since Blogger has comments now, and I sometimes comment at young peoples' blogs, and Blogger always uses my "posted by..." name, meaning, unlike Sensus Plenior or Haloscan, I can't change my "posted by" name to Mrs. Cumbee when it's more appropriate than Kelly, I want to permanantly change it, which I used to know how to do, but since Blogger has changed the way it works *ahem* I can't figure out how to do it!

**Never mind! I think I figured it out!

Photo update

I never found my uploading-pictures-from-my-camera cable, so yesterday Mike bought a card reader thingie (it was on sale, plus there's a rebate, so it was practically free!), and so I'm finally able to post some pics that someone has been bugging me about for two months now!

This is the blueberry garden we're creating in the front yard.

The original idea was to create a privacy screen - the double windows on the left of the house belong to my bedroom, and I wanted to be able to look out of my windows and see something besides the neighbor's house across the street, so last spring we bought a truckload of dirt, added lots of compost and peat moss to it, and planted about a dozen blueberries. When we first built the hill, we used el cheapo paving bricks from the home improvement store as a retaining wall, which was not at all how I wanted it to look. Then about three months ago, Mike asked a friend of ours with a farm outside of town, if they had any rock they'd like to get rid of, and our farmer friend gladly told us to take as much rock as we wanted. This picture was taken a couple of months ago at the start of the "replacing the brick" project. We're eventually going to take down that white fence and build a low rock wall in its place. 

As you can see, the blueberry hill is slightly overgrown with grass - keeping it cut back is a constant chore, but I want the grass to stay there until I figure out what to use for a groundcover. In the foreground you can see the peach tree, which is producing all of seven peaches in its first year in our garden, surrounded by what's left of the daffodils and muscari. I'm sorry I didn't take a picture when the bulbs were blooming - it was so pretty! That little twig you can barely see to the left of the peach tree is the only blueberry we planted last year that survived, and this year is gave us a couple dozen very plump and sweetly tart berries. We planted two more blueberries in the late winter this year, so our "blueberry garden" has all of three scrawny blueberry bushes on it. To the right is the plum tree we planted this spring that is now heavily laden with fruit.

A view of our beautiful pecan tree. That's my dear hubby standing by his mini-van getting ready to go back to work after his lunch break.

View from the house side of the garden of #2 Daughter sitting beside the white climbing rose, which, according to Sora, is in the "creep" year. Those lambs ears in front of her were just three tiny little plants last spring - I think they are the most successful things I've planted so far!

Daughters #2 and #3 posing by the peach tree.

Remember the trellis we built out of leftovers so we could screen this ugly compost area? This pic was taken in late April when the gourds first sprouted...

...this picture was taken this afternoon. Much prettier, isn't it?

Trying to get seven kids to pose for a photo is not the easiest thing in the world. This was about two Sundays ago, and as you can see, Baby Princess was a little bit hot and cranky, so we never got a good shot. #1 Daughter is wearing the skirt she made for Easter; #2 Daughter made her own jumper; I made the gingham jumper and white petticoat #3 Daughter is wearing (and the matching petticoat on #2D, which you can't really see), and the gingham dress on Baby Princess. The boys are wearing coordinating shirts from the local stuff mart. Sorry guys! Maybe next year I'll get around to making Easter clothes for you, too!