Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Oh, before I go...
I finally uploaded some pics from the snow we had a couple of weeks ago.
**Note: the Amazing Valerie told me how to shrink these pics to keep from messing up my sidebar. To view the full-size picture, just click it.**

Snowy morning - taken from our back porch.

View from the front porch.

The Amazing Snowman - he was nearly seven feet tall!

Our kitty, Ghost. Of course, when seen against the snow it seems his name should be Dirt, but when he first came to us he would only come at night, and his blonde fur made him look ghosty, hence the name.

Christmas break
It's not like this'll make a big difference since my blogging has been so sparse the last month...

We finally got our shipment of household goods two days before we went out of town for Thanksgiving, so I'm moving into our house again, moving furniture and stuff around. Trying to figure how to fit a family of nine into a house that was not built for such a large family with our always-at-home lifestyle is quite a challenge. In our last house we had one room that doubled as a dining room/library and I was able to put most of our books in that room. I don't have that here so I'm brainstorming for ideas - any help would be greatly appreciated!

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Here's a bit of fun:
How common is your surname in America?
Mine is ranked at 18558, and my maiden name is 2059.
(From the Deputy Head Mistress at The Common Room)

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This week I'm thankful for:
Margaret, who visited me last week
Valerie who visited me this week
and my parents who will be visiting me next week!

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Merry Christmas to all my blog buddies - may the Lord bless you all and your families this joyous season.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Thankful Thursday
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (I Thessalonians 5:18)

I'm thankful for my dear little potty-training two year old even though she stopped up my toilet.
I'm thankful for our furnace even though it broke early this week and the repairman won't be here until some time today.
I'm thankful that our good God commands us to give thanks even when we don't feel like it.

I'm thankful for my fifteen year old son, who's outside in the snow chopping wood for us right now.
I'm thankful for my four little ones who are standing in the window watching their brother and cheering him on.
I'm thankful for my thirteen year old daughter who was up before I was this morning, working on her Latin.

I'm thankful for my hard-working husband who took yesterday off work to fix the furnace and the toilet but was seemingly thwarted at every turn - his provision for us is wonderful even when circumstances make it difficult.
I'm thankful for my loving husband who enjoys surprising us with chocolate treats.
I'm thankful for my God-fearing husband who leads us in prayers, morning and evening, most days of the week.

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Thankful Thursday
I will love thee, O LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. (Psalm 18:1-2)

Remembering the Lord's goodness, and thanking him...
For Psalm 18, which we read in Morning Prayers this morning
For a bright, sunshiny, wintry morning
For a warm, cozy house

Monday, December 5, 2005

This is amazing - I haven't seen snow before Christmas in ages.

I think I'll go make some hot chocolate to celebrate, which I usually do on the first Really Cold day of winter since we don't usually live in a place where we can expect snow every winter.

Do you have a tradition for the first snow?

Friday, December 2, 2005

I was two years and eleven days old when my brother was born. I still remember going to the hospital to bring him and Mommy home – hospitals kept new mothers for a week back then and they didn’t let siblings in for visits, so my first view of my baby brother was from the back seat of our car. My mom was holding him in the front seat and I still remember leaning over to see him and jumping up and down in the seat, singing, “We have a baby! We have a baby!”

I remember “reading” books to him – my favorite was Miss Suzy and we have a picture of us on the couch together, the newborn Johnny propped against me while I read the story to him and showed him all the pictures.

When we were little it seems like we did everything together – our two favorite play-places were Mommy’s linen closet and the woods behind our house. Daddy built a fort for us just within the tree line and we played there or explored the woods, or played in the creek. One whole summer was occupied with panning for gold in that creek, and another with digging out the little puddle under the tiny waterfall to make a swimming hole. It never got more than a foot deep or so, but it was glorious.

We climbed the oak tree in the back yard and named the different branches – one was the living room, another the kitchen, and we each had our own special branch for a bedroom. The ancient mimosa tree in the front yard was especially interesting. Its trunk split in two fairly low to the ground and the upper part of the tree had a definite left side and right side. The left side was mine because it was sturdier and easier to climb. Johnny was fearless so he owned the right side and climbed so high that the limbs swayed up and down with him.

On rainy days we would take all the pillows in the house and make a border around my full-size bed, then bring all of the stuffed animals into the ark with us to ride out the storm. I don't think we ever made it, though. It seems our boat always sank as sitting and waiting for the rain to end did not appeal to the little ball of energy that was my brother - he'd rather play the part of a whirlwind than of Noah.

Every once in a while Daddy would bring home a refrigerator-sized cardboard box for us to play in. I always wanted to play house in it, and Daddy would cut a flap for a door and openings for windows and then I would draw curtains around the windows and Johnny would get all the dolls and stuffed animals to populate the house with. But after a couple of hours of quiet domestic play, my energetic brother would decide that something was going dreadfully wrong and this meant that Superman would come crashing through the wall of my lovely little cottage to rescue some doll or other. Those boxes never lasted more than two days or so.

When we were older we played kick-ball and kill-the-man with the neighborhood boys, who always came to our yard to play. We rode our bikes all over our neighborhood, but the best part was the hill in front of our house. Johnny built a ramp near the base of it and we would fly down that hill and hit the ramp, pretending to be Evel Knievel.

At night, after we went to bed, Mommy would take requests and play the piano for us. I always wanted Chopin's waltzes and my favorite was the one that starts with a long trill. Johnny preferred the Carpenters and this difference grew with us. In our teen years I still preferred classical music and Sandi Patti and Johnny preferred AD/DC.

Of course, we also fought like cats and dogs, especially as we got older. Two and a half months before my 13th birthday and Johnny’s 11th our baby sister was born. We’d always hoped to have more brothers and sisters and when this little one was announced we had many arguments over whether it would be a boy or a girl. Naturally I wanted a girl and Johnny wanted a boy, and when Anne Marie was born I felt like she was especially mine and I didn’t want Johnny to play with her. So we fought over her.

When I was about nineteen or twenty we made up and quit fighting, but I really regret those early adolescent years when it seemed we’d forgotten how much we loved each other. We never had much time together after that. I went off to college when I was twenty and married when I was twenty-two, moving to Biloxi with my Air Force husband the day after our wedding. I only saw Johnny four times after my marriage – in the spring of 1988 when he and Mom and Anne Marie came to Biloxi to visit us for a few days, again on Father’s Day weekend when I drove home to be with Daddy and the family, on Christmas of that year when Mike and I spent several days there, and when our first baby was three months old when he and Mom and sister came for a visit. On my birthday of that year, he called to tell me happy birthday and we talked a bit, and I told him I’d call him on his birthday. We said “I love you,” and hung up. Seven days later, on the second of December, Daddy called to tell me that Johnny had died.

I still miss him terribly. I miss saying, "Remember when we used to...?" All my childhood memories are me-and-Johnny memories. But I rejoice to know that he fought the good fight, and in God’s sovereign timing, he finished the course, having kept the faith. I look forward to the Resurrection with hope.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Thankful Thursday
Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD. (Psalm 150)

I am thankful for my daughter's piano teacher. Mrs. R. is our church's organist and choirmaster and regularly puts on cantatas and huge musical productions. She's gifted musically, and she has such a sweet spirit - she is always cheerful and pleasant to be around and she's such an encourager. My daughter only started taking piano this fall and I'm sure much of the reason she's progressed so quickly is Mrs. R.'s encouragement.

I'm thankful for my own piano teacher, Mrs. McG., who taught me when I was in high school, for many of the reasons listed above - she was an encourager, which is what I needed most then. Though I would never take the trouble of practicing she's the reason I'm able to play hymns for my family to sing along with.

I'm so thankful for my mom, another gifted church musician. When I was a little girl, my mom would play the piano for us after we went to bed, and her influence is why I love music so much. She has been the organist at her church for the past several years, playing at two services each Sunday. Oh, and when I say "gifted" I'm not just being polite. I mentioned in relation to Mike's retirement ceremony that we were unable to hire the musicians we'd hoped to, so I told Mike, "Don't worry about it, I'll ask my mom to play." Well, silly me, I forgot to ask her. On the day of his retirement, about two hours before we left, I suddenly remembered. "Oh! Mom, we need to play 'Off We Go Into the Wild, Blue Yonder,' and 'The Star Spangled Banner.'" "Sure thing," she replied, or words to that effect, and pulled it off marvelously, without music or practicing or anything.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Books read in 2005
What with Mike's retirement from the Air Force and moving and everything, my reading-for-pleasure was pretty limited this year, and I never kept up with my sidebar. I wish I'd kept a list somewhere, but since I didn't I'll just list all the books I read that I can remember.

*Denotes book read for the first time.

- all the Harry Potter books*
- all of Jane Austen's completed novels (for the dozenth time or something)
- P.G. Wodehouse: Leave it to Psmith, Fish Preferred*, The Cat-Nappers
- C.S. Lewis: Chronicles of Narnia (except for The Last Battle), Out of the Silent Planet and Perelandra, and The Dark Tower and Other Stories
- Neil Postman: Amusing Ourselves to Death*
- Peter Leithart: Miniatures and Morals, Against Christianity*, A House for My Name*
- G.K. Chesterton: Orthodoxy
- Susan Hunt: Your Home: A Place of Grace*
- Shirley Seifert: The Proud Way* (biographical fiction about Mrs. Jefferson Davis - gift from Valerie)
- George MacDonald: The Light Princess and Other Fantasy Stories
- John Buchan: The Thirty-Nine Steps*
- Sally Fallon: Nourishing Traditions*
- John Lee, MD, and Jesse Hanley, MD: What Your Doctor May Not Tell You about Premenopause*

Seems like I read more than that - oh well, maybe they'll come to me later.


Last year I posted some thoughts on Advent (here, here, and here) but since we're still growing in our understanding and practice, I thought it would be worthwhile to add what we've learned since last year (and I cannot believe it's already been a whole year!).

We've celebrated Advent since our oldest was a baby, and really, our Advent season was a fairly bright, Christmassy feeling time - lots of Christmas music playing all the time, tree going up right after Thanksgiving, house being decorated shortly thereafter, and then suddenly, everything came to an end on Christmas day. I'd had the decorations up so long and the once-fresh tree was now dropping needles so profusely, that I usually undecorated the house before New Years Day, though we usually left the house lights on at night until New Years Eve because I didn't like the sudden anti-climax.

Two years ago, we decided to tone down Advent, which we had learned was the more tradition way of keeping it anyway. No Christmas music, no decorations until just a day or two before Christmas, and the tree went up and was decorated on Christmas Eve after the little ones were in bed. Instead of the month-long Christmas ending at Christmas Day, we decided to have twelve days of Christmas, ending with Epiphany. Now this is probably not as lavish a celebration as it might sound like - our kids get lots of books for Christmas from us, and some clothes and a few toys from grandparents, so we spread out the opening of presents over the twelve days, and to make the gifts last the whole time, several days their present is chocolate.

Last year around the middle of Advent I asked our oldest daughter what she thought of the new way we were celebrating and she said that it just didn't feel much like Christmas. I told her that it's not really supposed to feel like Christmas until Christmas actually comes, but I've been thinking about her comment since then, and I've decided that what was lacking was a keen sense of anticipation that borders on, and sometimes crosses over to, excitement. So we're trying to work on that - to add it back in. Although I think Advent should feel different than the rest of the year, and different from Christmas, I really don't want the season leading up to Christmas to be dull and dreary.

One of the things I think I should do is to let the various kids help me with picking out presents for their siblings and wrapping and hiding them. That's going to be a real no-brainer for most of you, I'm sure, but I... I have a confession to make: I hate shopping. Normally I do all of my Christmas shopping online, but I really think I should take the kids out, one or two at a time, and either let them help me pick out presents for one another and for Daddy and grandparents, or just give them each a little money to spend on someone else. Mike already does this a little bit, but obviously his time is far more limited than mine is.

I have another confession to make: I'm not very crafty - shocking, I know, coming from a Pseudo-Prairie Muffin, but it gets worse. I don't like cooking or doing art projects with children.

However, my children love all this and I think I really should just do it with them, and smile and have a good time if nothing else, enjoying their pleasure. I know I can do this because it's what I do whenever I have a social engagement I must attend - smile and pretend I'm enjoying myself - and if I can do it for outsiders, surely I can do it for my kids, right?

Anyway, Valerie taught me and the girls to crochet when she was here this summer, and I've been working on an afghan for Mike's grandmother, which I should have done by the end of this week. I need to figure out some other projects like this that the kids and I can do together. We need to bake cookies and give them away.

Jeepers, this post has turned into some kind of confessional. I did NOT mean for that to happen, but oh well. I think I'll leave it. Y'all pray for me, okay?

And a blessed Advent season to you all, as you seek to glorify God and enjoy him with your families!
Interesting little game
from Gideon Strauss

1. Take a book from your shelves with more than 200 pages.
2. Find some real person's name there.
3. Find out his or her date of birth.
4. Find someone else born on the same day.
5. State a connection between this person and yourself.

The Hidden Treasure of Glaston, by Eleanore M. Jewett. I wanted to do Thomas Becket, but couldn't find his exact birthdate. King Henry II was born on the Fifth of March in the year of our Lord 1133. Born on that date in the year 1853 was author and illustrator Howard Pyle. My maiden name was Pyle.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

“Sleepers, wake!” the watch cry pealeth,
While slumber deep each eyelid sealeth:
Awake, Jerusalem, awake!
Midnight’s solemn hour is tolling,
And seraph-notes are onward rolling;
They call on us our part to take.
Come forth, ye virgins wise:
The Bridegroom comes, arise!
Alleluia! Each lamp be bright with ready light
To grace the marriage feast tonight.

Zion hears the voice that singeth
With sudden joy her glad heart springeth,
At once she wakes, she stands arrayed:
Her Light is come, her Star ascending,
Lo, girt with truth, with mercy blending,
Her Bridegroom there, so long delayed.
All hail! God’s glorious Son,
All hail! our joy and crown,
Alleluia! The joyful call we answer all,
And follow to the bridal hall.

Praise to Him Who goes before us!
Let men and angels join in chorus,
Let harp and cymbal add their sound.
Twelve the gates, a pearl each portal:
We haste to join the choir immortal
Within the Holy City’s bound.
Ear ne’er heard aught like this,
Nor heart conceived such bliss.
Alleluia! We raise the song, we swell the throng,
To praise Thee ages all along.

Words: Phil­ipp Ni­co­lai, 1599; tr. by Fran­ces E. Cox, 1864
Music: “Wach­et Auf,” Phil­ipp Ni­co­lai, 1599; har­mo­ny by Jo­hann S. Bach, 1731

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Yesterday's weather report
The movers brought the rest of our household goods Monday - it took three trips in a 15-foot truck since the semi wouldn't fit in our tree-lined driveway.

Friday, November 11, 2005

"There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are."
W. Somerset Maugham

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Thankful Thursday
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life... (Psalm 23)

Fall leaves
Fall colors
Fall smells

Fall fall fall!

Thursday, November 3, 2005

Thankful Thursday
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

Our house in Texas finally sold, daylight saving time has come to an end, and cool weather has arrived in earnest.

What are y'all thankful for?

Wednesday, November 2, 2005

I'm pretty sure it wasn't done by my 10 year old after all. I just found my two year exiting the laundry room and heard the dryer running and clunking. Now I had put this load in myself and knew it shouldn't be clunking, so I checked it and found a used coffee filter, the contents of the used coffee filter, some macaroni, pebbles, and an empty pineapple can! Thankfully, the clothes were already dry, so they don't have to be rewashed. I took all the stuff out, cleaned out the dryer, then shook out the clothes and put them back in to run on no heat for a little while to be sure all the coffee grounds are removed.
This week we've had an... I hate to call an "infestation" because that sounds like it's really gross, but it's not... an amazing amount of ladybugs hanging about our house. There were probably hundreds all around the porch and some came into the house, too. I don't think I've ever seen anything like it. It had been quite cool for several days and then on Monday it was back in the 60s, so maybe that had something to do with it.

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I'm teaching my girls how to walk like a lady. We have a nice long gravel driveway, so we go out there and walk together for a few minutes and then I watch them and offer critique: "Point your toes straight ahead," or "Don't move your rear end so much," or "Keep your shoulders back and relax your arms." We have to work on posture, too. Up until now I've only done this two or three times, just whenever I've noticed a problem, but I think we really need to be doing this every day so it can become habit with them.

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Yesterday I encouraged Elai to join National Novel Writing Month. She has tons of ideas for stories and writes well, but she never finishes anything, so I thought the challenge to complete something would be good for her. I have no doubt she'll succeed. Unfortunately, while I was at it, I also joined up and began writing, and true to form, as soon as I set pen to paper- er rather, fingers to keyboard, the story in the back of my mind evaporated. In the spirit of writing what you know I was intending to write my own Cheaper By the Dozen, only with fictional names so I could add, subtract, rearrange, and otherwise modify things without feeling like I was lying about our family.

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The rest of our household goods haven't been delivered yet, but we should find out this week when it will come. I may have to make a new Advent wreath if it doesn't come soon enough.

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What I'm listening to: my three little ones pretending to be animals
What's cooking: chicken and veggies in the crockpot
What's on the agenda: get to piano lessons on time
What I'm buying: winter clothes for my husband
What I'm wearing: green cotton sweater, denim skirt (no shoes until time to go out!)

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

Today I took a load of laundry out of the dryer. I found an aluminum pie pan, some pebbles, a zip-lock bag, what appears to have been a fig in a previous life, and the lid to a tin can. Oh, and some clothes. Boys clothes, obviously. My ten year old son is learning to do the laundry.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Happy Reformation Day!
Today the kids and I read A Place to Stand: The Word of God in the Life of Martin Luther by Gene Edward Veith, one of the "Leaders in Action" series that I love, during quiet time. There's so much that could be said about Martin Luther, but I really liked a description of him by a man who attended the Leipzig Disputation where Luther debated John Eck for seventeen days.

Martin is of medium height with a gaunt body that has been so exhausted by studies and worries that one can almost count the bones under his skin; yet he is manly and vigorous, with a high, clear voice. He is full of learning and has an excellent knowledge of the Scriptures, so that he can refer to facts as if they were at his fingers' tips. He knows enough Greek and Hebrew to enable him to pass judgments on interpretations. He is also not lacking in subject material and has a large store of words and ideas. In his life and behavior he is very courteous and friendly, and there is nothing of the stern stoic or grumpy fellow about him. He can adjust to all occasions. In a social gathering he is gay, witty, lively, ever full of joy, always has a bright and happy face, no matter how seriously his adversaries threaten him. One can see in him that God's strength is with him in this difficult undertaking. The only fault everyone criticizes in him is that he is somewhat too violent and cutting in his reprimands, in fact more than is proper for one seeking to find new trails in theology, and certainly also for a divine; this is probably a weakness of all those who have gained their learning somewhat late. (Petrus Mosellanus, quoted in Martin Luther: His Road to Reformation, by Martin Brecht)

O God, our refuge and our strength: You raised up your servant Martin Luther to reform and renew your Church in the light of your word. Defend and purify the Church in our own day and grant that, through faith, we may boldly proclaim the riches of your grace which you have made known in Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Friday night fun

Five Songs I'm Currently Loving
Elaienar tagged me and wishes me to list my current favourite songs.

THE RULES: List five songs that you are currently loving. It doesn't matter what genre they are from, whether they have words, or even if they're any good, but they must be songs you're really enjoying right now. Post these instructions, the artists, and the songs on your blog, then tag five other bloggers/friends to see what they're listening to.

Most days I don't listen to much music, because I don't tune out sounds very well. Music never stays in the background, consequently I don't like having it on unless I'm able to sit still and devote myself to it, or if I'm doing something that doesn't require much thought. However, here are the first five songs off the top of my head:

1. We just watched "Fellowship of the Ring" again two weeks ago, and I love the music that plays just as the nine walk into the Great Hall of Dwarrow-Delf (music by Howard Shore)

2. The Gloria in excelsis Deo from Vivaldi's Gloria in D (track 1 here)

3. My six-year-old has a beautiful voice and sometimes sings "Castle on a Cloud" from Les Miserables, by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, Cosette's song

4. O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

5. Um... well, this next one is not one I'm currently loving - more like obssessing over, but I don't remember its name. I think it's a hymn tune and it goes Hm hm hm hm hmmm la da de da daaa... Oh, well, never mind. I'm obssessing over it because it was in a strange dream and I can't get it out of my head. Maybe I should go turn on a really good CD. Bach's Brandenburn concertos usually drive out all negative thoughts.

And now, my victims:

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It 's comforting to say that 'practice makes perfect'....
You are 'Gregg shorthand'. Originally designed to
enable people to write faster, it is also very
useful for writing things which one does not
want other people to read, inasmuch as almost
no one knows shorthand any more.

You know how important it is to do things
efficiently and on time. You also value your
privacy, and (unlike some people) you do not
pretend to be friends with just everyone; that
would be ridiculous. When you do make friends,
you take them seriously, and faithfully keep
what they confide in you to yourself.
Unfortunately, the work which you do (which is
very important, of course) sometimes keeps you
away from social activities, and you are often
lonely. Your problem is that Gregg shorthand
has been obsolete for a long time.

What obsolete skill are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Found at Maisy's blog.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Thankful Thursday
Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.... Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I shew the salvation of God. (from Psalm 50)

I'm thankful that we serve the most merciful and all-powerful God of the universe.

I'm thankful for my dear friend Margaret who always encourages me in my faith. Plus, she's thankful all the time, not just on Thursdays.

I'm thankful for indoor plumbing and heating when it's freezing* outside.

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*Please note that when the BadgerMum says "it's freezing outside" she is not speaking about the temperature at which water freezes, but the temperature at which the BadgerMum feels uncomfortably cold, which is generally below 56°F.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Alfred the Great

"Our supreme and holy Grace, protecting us and ours, deliver us, God, from the savage race of Northmen which lays waste our realms." *

Everything that can be said about King Alfred has already been said, far better than I can say it, but there is one very striking thing I read recently that I really want to point out.

G.K. Chesterton's The Ballad of the White Horse begins with a vision of the Virgin Mary by the young King Alfred, who asks her if he will be victorious in battle. She replies, in part:
"The gates of heaven are lightly locked,
We do not guard our gold,
Men may uproot where worlds begin,
Or read the name of the nameless sin;
But if he fail or if he win
To no good man is told.

"The men of the East may spell the stars,
And times and triumphs mark,
But the men signed of the cross of Christ
Go gaily in the dark.

King Alfred is not told whether he will win any battles at all, but what he learns is of far greager importance. "The message of this poem is that it is up to us to choose the right side, even if there is a risk that it is not the winning side." *

Let us learn from this hero of the Faith, and pray with him:
We pray to you, O Lord, who are the supreme Truth, and all truth is from you. We beseech you, O Lord, who are the highest Wisdom, and all the wise depend on you for their wisdom. You are the supreme Joy, and all who are happy owe it to you. You are the Light of minds, and all receive their understanding from you. We love, we love you above all. We seek you, we follow you, and we are ready to serve you. We desire to dwell under your power for you are the King of all. Amen. *

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Items of interest:

The Lindisfarne Gospels

O God, Our Maker, Throned on High, hymn attributed to King Alfred

Today's lectionary

The History of the Kings of England, by William of Malmsbury

The Heroic Age, a multitude of Anglo-Saxon links

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Historical, literary and musical tidbits
Today is St. Crispin's day, on which the Battle of Agincourt was fought in 1415, the small English army roundly defeating the much larger French one.

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Shakespeare's Henry V contains this wonderful speech by the king before going into battle.
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a-tiptoe when this day is nam'd.
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall see this day, and live old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors
And say Tomorrow is Saint Crispian.
Then he will strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say These wounds I had on Crispin's day.
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But hell remember, with advantages,
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester
Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother. Be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentleman in England now abed
Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap while any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin day.

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For the Victory at Agincourt

Owre kynge went forth to Normandy,
With grace and myyt of chivalry;
The God for hym wrouyt marvelously,
Wherefore Englonde may calle, and cry
Deo gratias:
Deo gratias Anglia redde pro victoria.

He sette a sege, the sothe for to say,
To Harflue toune with ryal aray;
That toune he wan, and made a fray,
That Fraunce shall rywe tyl domes day.
Deo gratias:
Deo gratias Anglia redde pro victoria.

Then went owre kynge, with alle his oste,
Thorowe Fraunce for all the Frenshe boste;
He spared 'for' drede of leste, ne most,
Tyl he come to Agincourt coste.
Deo gratias:
Deo gratias Anglia redde pro victoria.

Than for sothe that knyyt comely
In Agincourt feld he fauyt manly
Thorow grace of God most myyty
He had bothe the felde, and the victory
Deo gratias:
Deo gratias Anglia redde pro victoria.

Ther dukys, and erlys, lorde and barone,
Were take, and slayne, and that wel sone,
And some were ledde in to Lundone
With joye, and merthe, and grete renone
Deo gratias:
Deo gratias Anglia redde pro victoria.

Noe gratious God he save owre kynge,
His peple, and all his wel wyllynge,
Gef him gode lyfe, and gode endynge,
That we with merth mowe savely syng
Deo gratias:
Deo gratias Anglia redde pro victoria.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Cyber Hymnal has a hymn called O Love, How Deep that is set to a tune called "Deo Gra­ci­as," The Agincourt Song, 1415. I would assume the above song to be the original words to that melody, but if it is the melody has been changed a bit to make it fit the hymn. I'd love to know whether my speculation is true, and be able to listen to the original melody, if it's different than what Cyber Hymnal has.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~


Cindy (Dominion Family) posted a link to Kenneth Branagh's rendition of the St. Crispin's day speech. More info at George Grant's blog.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Thankful Thursday
(I woke up late this morning and forgot it was Thursday - an evil allergy seems to have attacked me during the night, so I'm very foggy-brained today.)

Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. (Psalm 68:19)

As I watch my children grow up, there are so many things to be thankful for. I'm thankful for the developing understanding and sense of humor I see in my almost-fifteen-year-old son and thirteen-year old daughter, who are laughing at all the right parts during the reading of Jane Austen's Northangar Abbey. I'm thankful for the sensitivity I see in my sixteen-year-old daughter who hugs me when I'm getting stressed out, and takes care of countless little tasks when I need a nap. I'm thankful for the affection and camaraderie between the four youngest ones, who do practically everything together.

I'm thankful for my dear husband, who bought me a very nice sewing machine - much nicer than I would have picked out for myself - to replace my defunct older one. Now I can get back to work sewing for the children, and making slipcovers for my living room furniture.

Oh, yes. I'm thankful for Claritin, which usually clears away the allergy-induced brain fog.

What are y'all thankful for?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Ah, country living...
This morning Number One Son found a possum in one of the garbage cans. It wasn't doing much of anything, though - just lying curled up amongst some torn garbage bags, looking placidly at us. I think it was playing possum.
A cheerful man
"That gray, threatening sky had turned black by now. It was a swollen mass of inky clouds, heavy with the thunder, lightening, and rain which so often come in the course of an English summer to remind the island race that they are hardy Nordics and must not be allowed to get thier fibre all sapped up by eternal sunshine like the less favoured dwellers in more southerly climes."
P.G. Wodehouse, Fish Preferred

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Thankful Thursday
Behold, bless ye the LORD, all ye servants of the LORD... (Psalm 134:1)

Today I'm especially thankful for all the rain the Lord has sent us this past week, for my birthday girl, and for my Number One Son who is bugging waiting patiently for me to get off the computer right now so he can do his Latin homework!

What are y'all thanful for?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Odds and ends

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

American civilization has reverted to the hunter-gatherer stage. The other day, Mike told me of a conversation he'd had with a guy up at work who's going to be moving away soon.

"You haven't even been here four months," said Mike.

"It's okay," said the Modern American Nomad. "You go where the food is."

Yeah, we know all about that first-hand. That's why we're here in Virginia instead of Alabama where we wanted to be.

I guess I need some of the same preaching I just gave to my sister. "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28)."   "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content (I Timothy 6:6-8)."

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Today is Columbus Day, my hubby's favorite - probably because it's so unPC. We're doing American history this year for the first time in ages, and as part of our curriculum, we're using Steve Wilkins's tape series, "America: The First 350 Years." In the section on Columbus, Wilkins includes several quotes from books written by Columbus. Here's a gem from the Book of Prophecies:
I am a most unworthy sinner, but I have cried out to the Lord for grace and mercy and they have covered me completely. I have found the sweetest consolation since I made it my whole purpose to enjoy His marvelous presence. No one should fear to undertake any task in the name of our Savior, if it is just and if the intention is purely for His holy service. The working out of all things has been assigned to each person by our Lord, but it all happens according to His sovereign will, even though He gives advice. He lacks nothing that it is in th e power of men to give Him. O what a gracious Lord, who desires that people should perform for Him those things for which He holds Himself responsible! Day and night, moment by moment, everyone should express to Him their most devoted gratitude."

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

We almost had a baby born on Columbus Day. 13 years ago, I went into labor with our third child on a Friday afternoon. The pains only lasted a few hours, but they had started up again on Saturday morning and were proceeding apace - the contractions were only about five minutes apart and felt quite strong, although they were relatively painless, so we went in to the hospital only to be sent home again with a "Well, maybe this weekend, but definitely not today."

By late Sunday afternoon, they started up again and I tried various things to see if it was the real thing or not. I walked - they got stronger. I laid down - they got stronger. Along about 7:30 I was feeling so very comfortable on my waterbed that I thought, I could just have the baby here, and then we could call the hospital and let them send an ambulance to pick us up. I know it's Not The Thing among Prairie Muffins and PM Wannabes, but I really enjoy the hospital stay. I like having the baby all to myself, and I like having meals brought to me regularly without having to tell anyone how to make them.

Well, I mentioned this to Mike and he thought I should go to the hospital, so after getting up again and making sure that walking around wouldn't scare the contractions away again, we tootled along to the base hospital, arriving around 8:30pm. They put me in the observation room and spent about an hour deciding that they really should admit me, then sent me over to the LDR. Around 10pm I began feeling the urge to push. Now this was interesting because the whole time I'd really never been in much pain, unlike the two previous babies. Discomfort, of course, but not really intense pain like before. The nurses told me DO NOT PUSH while they ran out to get the doctor, but I'd learned this the first time around - working really really hard at not-pushing is the worst part of the whole thing, so instead of trying not to push, I just stayed relaxed and let my body push at will.

About this time, my dear, devoted husband said, "Don't you want to wait a couple of hours? Then the baby can be born on Columbus Day."

Sorry honey. Much as I'd like to oblige you, I ain't waitin for nothin!

Our Mosey was born at 10:10 pm on October 11, thirteen years ago, and what a blessing she is.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~
Better late than never?
My sister asked, "What would you tell a 27 yr old that is afraid shes gonna be alone forever but doesnt want to be?"

Weeks late, but here it is. Procrastination does NOT pay off. A month ago, I knew how to answer this, but because I figured it would not be a Nice, Encouraging Post, I delayed, hoping I could think of some other way to say what has to be said, but I fear it cannot be done, and now because I've piddled around so long, it's even harder to find the right words.

Sweetie, there's not much to say that you haven't already heard before. You know that God is sovereign and you know that he loves you and you know that you should trust him to work all things together for your good. I don't have anything new or particularly encouraging to add, so I will pray for you.

Almighty God, whose Son had nowhere to lay his head:
Grant that Anne Marie may not be lonely in her solitude,
but that, following in his steps, she may find fulfillment
in loving you and her neighbors;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sunday, October 9, 2005

Maybe it'll work this time

I can’t tell you how many posts I’ve started and not finished over the last few weeks.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

This week we’ve made pumpkin butter and ketchup - with canned pumpkin and tomato paste from the grocery store, but I use fresh whey with both of them and let them sit at room temperature for a couple of days before refrigerating so the lacto-bacilli have time to do their stuff.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

We killed several chickens last weekend - it’s the first fresh chicken we’ve had in awhile, but doing several on a hot day is NOT a good idea. Every fly in the county came to the feast.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Speaking of hot weather, today it was 96° in the shade. That’s just too dang hot.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

School is still going fine. One completely new thing we’re doing this year is learning French. I’ve wanted to learn French for years but when I was in high school my daddy wanted me to take Spanish. I don’t regret that since it made Daddy happy, but since this is something I’m good at, something I enjoy doing, and we can finally afford to do it, I talked to Mike about it and he said, “Go for it.”

We’re using The Learnables, and though I can’t vouch for its long-term effectiveness, after almost six weeks using it I can say that I really like it and it seems to be just what I needed. There’s a lot of listening, which I think is crucial for training the ear. I’m almost finished with Level 1 and will start Level 2 as soon as it arrives - hopefully by the end of the week. The children are moving much slower than I am - it will probably take them 30 weeks to finish Level 1 - but they look forward to the lessons and have started using phrases they’re familiar with when it’s appropriate in daily life.

Only the younger four are studying French with me - the older three are learning Japanese, and because they use it so much most of us have picked up on a few simple phrases, like greetings. It’s kind of funny to get up in the morning and hear one person say, “Bonjour,” to which his sibling replies, “Ohayo!”

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

After debating whether to replenish our fox-destroyed laying flock last winter, we finally got tired of not having our own fresh eggs and bought several new layers this summer. We have eight now, which is just barely enough to feed us, but nowhere near enough to have any for sale. Mike has several coworkers who want to buy free range eggs and would buy from us if we had a large enough flock. As soon as we finish the fencing to keep them away from our yard and porch I think we’ll buy several more.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Have I mentioned that we have a pig now? The woman who bought four of our goats a few months ago gave us a pig as partial payment. The whole deal was bartered, with us getting our lawn mower repaired as part of the bargain. It was a nice way to do business.

Oh, the pig’s name. My eldest daughter wanted to name him and I told her she could as long as she kept in mind that we’re going to be eating him. I suggested “Pork Chop” and “Ham Hock” as possibilities, but she decided to go with “Lambchop.” She has a rather unusual sense of humor.

The coolest thing about having a pig is never feeling guilty about cleaning out the fridge and having to throw things out.

“Ha!” I say to myself. “I haven’t wasted these leftovers by letting them get a little too old. I’m just turning them into bacon.”

Now all we need is a dog to eat leftover meat and we’ll have it made.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Well, it’s getting late and I’m ready to go to bed.

Good night all, and please keep praying for rain. We’ve still only had four or five inches since I started tracking it back in April.

Thursday, October 6, 2005

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

O give thanks unto the God of gods:
for his mercy endureth for ever.

O give thanks to the Lord of lords:
for his mercy endureth for ever.
(Psalm 136:1-3)

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
(II Corinthians 5:17,21)

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

What is thy only comfort in life and death?
That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ; who, with his precious blood, has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by his Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto him.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

These are the Gifts of God for the People of God. Take them in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith, with thanksgiving.
(BCP, Invitation to the Holy Eucharist)

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

What are y'all thankful for?
Encourage one another.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Thankful Thursday
Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. (from Psalm 103)

1. Toothpaste and toothbrushes. Really. Don't you just love the way they massage your gums get when brushing your teeth? And then there's that tingly fresh, smoothly clean feeling afterward that just makes me happy.

2. My two-year-old. I just love two years old, it's such a funny, sweet age. My Baby Princess loves to pretend she's a kitty-cat and she pretends to be one so much that sometimes it seems she thinks she really is one! Take last night at supper, for example - we had a barley casserole with sliced water chestnuts in it. One of her water chestnuts fell on the floor, and the princess promptly got out of her chair, got down on all fours, put her face to the floor and licked up the water chestnut. Then she stood up on her tippytoes and deposited it onto her plate, and wandered cheerfully away!

3. "Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again."

Let us bless the Lord.

Friday, September 23, 2005

"[I just read] Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which can only be described as annoyingly witty British humor. Didn't much like it, really."

"Yikes. You are kidding?? I love it."

"Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the turn of phrase and British wit, but often it felt like the plot was merely to set up the next joke."

"What plot?"


Thursday, September 22, 2005

Thankful Thursday
Today, I'm thankful for the Prayer Book, which teaches me how to pray when I'm struggling.

Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we thine unworthy servants
do give thee most humble and hearty thanks
for all thy goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all men.
We bless thee for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for thine inestimable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ,
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we beseech thee,
give us that due sense of all thy mercies,
that our hearts may be unfeignedly thankful;
and that we show forth thy praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to thy service,
and by walking before thee
in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost,
be all honor and glory, world without end. Amen.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Speaking of homeschooling...
...found this quiz over at Maisy's blog.

You are a Tigger Homeschooler. Tiggers jump into
homeschooling with both feet, as a grand
adventure. Everything is about learning, and
their days (and houses) show it.

What kind of Hundred Acre Wood Homeschooler Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla
Thankful Thursday
Let my mouth be filled with thy praise and with thy honour all the day. (Psalm 72:8)

Thank you, Lord, for my sister, whose birthday is today. Watch over Anne Marie, O Lord, as her days increase; bless and guide her wherever she may be. Strengthen her when she stands; comfort her when discouraged or sorrowful; raise her up if she fall; and in her heart may thy peace which passeth understanding abide all the days of her life.

Thank you, Lord, for improving health to be able to do the work you have set before me.

Above all, I give you thanks for the great mercies and promises given to us in Christ Jesus our Lord; To him be praise and glory, with you, O Father, and the
Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Thoughts on homeschooling
in response to Scott Terry’s post here

Our homeschool has gone through lots of changes over the years. Actually I don’t think we’ve ever had two years that looked the same. When we first started out, I only knew what I didn’t want – a traditional classroom textbooky school-at-home. The first book I ever read on homeschooling was one a neighbor lent me when my eldest was four or five years old, Home Grown Kids, by Raymond and Dorothy Moore, who also wrote books with titles like School Can Wait and Better Late Than Early, so you can see which way I’m biased.

Around the second year we were homeschooling, I read Clay and Sally Clarkson’s Educating the WholeHearted Child, and of all the good information in that book, the one thing that really struck me was a little sidebar where the Clarkson’s explained their emphasis on music and literature and de-emphasis on math and science. They said that since God has sovereignly placed each child into a particular family, and each particular family has its own strengths and interests, that should be what helps you decide what to teach your children, and what to place less emphasis on. In their case, being a "words a music family" their children participate in a local Christian drama group that puts on several musicals a year, and they don't do lots of other worthwhile things.

Nowadays, that seems really self-evident to me, but then, it was quite a revelation. It has really helped me figure out what to focus on and what to leave by the wayside, if I think in terms of our family's calling and then how each child, which his individual gifts and needs, fits into that.

Before going on, let me say that we are in essential agreement with R.C. Sproul, Jr's Tuesday night Bible study tape series, When You Rise Up, that our primary goal is to raise our children to be faithful Christians who will pass their faith on to their own children. After that, we aim to teach our sons to be godly men and our daughters to be godly women.

As far as academics go, our curriculum is an eclectic kind of Raymond and Dorothy Moore/Charlotte Mason mix, but our view of how children learn and what should be emphasized at different stages is based on the classical model – the Trivium, which is not so much a curriculum as a method. Dorothy Sayers’ excellent speech, The Lost Tools of Learning is a very helpful, though lengthy, treatment of the value of following the classical model. Here is a shorter explanation, written by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn, of Trivium Pursuit, who explain that while the classical model is a very helpful one, the Christian ought not to be training his children in classical humanism, which is not at all the same thing as a Christian classical education.

Another excellent source of information is Cheryl Miller’s Classical Christian Homeschooling website (old site found here).

With my bad health for the past year and our recent move, our own schoolday consists mainly of household chores and talking to each other. The three oldest are taking some online classes from Studium Discere Tutorials, my middle girls are learning to crochet, and the boys are learning more about caring for the property. We hope to get chickens some time in the next month, so that will be another area for all of the kids to work on.

If you're interested in the classical model but are concerned that it's nothing but whitewashed paganism, I'd strongly recommend reading the Bluedorn's article The Things to Do Before Age Ten. Their book, of which this is an excerpt, is the one I wish I'd had from the very beginning.
For Kristen
This post is in response to Kriten's questions in the comments to this post.

Kristen, it really sounds like you're handling both situations well. In the case of unsolicited advice, most of these people mean well, so it's best to smile and thank them as you've been doing. If there's one person who persists, or who comes back to ask if you've acted on her advice yet, you might try saying something like, "My husband and I have decided not to do it that way for now," thanking her for her concern.

I'm afraid this is something you'll just have to get used to since you'll be getting a lot of unasked for advice until you're either older, or have more children, than the would-be advice giver! It's the same way with criticism about your parenting choices. Some people don't handle it well when they see a child being raised very differently from the way they raised their own, and they react verbally without thinking - "Civilized people don't nurse their babies that long!" LOL Others will be honestly concerned about you - that you're draining yourself, or taking away from Lexi by nursing Kate.

Giving a brief, thoughtful, non-defensive answer as you've been doing should work well with people you know, but what's always hard for me to handle is the remarks I get from total strangers. Once when someone asked if we were done having babies yet, I playfully replied, "My goodness, I'm not that old!" which was my way of saying "Mind your own business." Depending on the person, you could say something like, "You know, my husband is a classical scholar and we enjoy exploring ancient customs," with a broad wink.

Ultimately though, you need to be so confident in God's provision for you and your children through your husband that you don't feel judged. They can't judge you anyway since they're not in authority over you, but people will criticize you. By forbearing with them, you have the opportunity to be courteous - not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing, but knowing that you are called to this, to inherit a blessing.

Plus, it'll help you remember not to nag the young mothers when you're the older woman.

Monday, September 12, 2005

A little help, please?
In the comments to this post a reader asks about the My Book House books by Oliver Olive Beaupre Miller. The ones I own are still in storage and I really don't remember much about them beyond the fact that they were recommended to me by one or two friends with excellent taste in children's literature, and that they contain many short stories and extracts from classic children's literature.

I've googled around a bit, but can't find out anything more than that. If any of you happen to know more about the books, please leave a comment. Thanks!
Ask the BadgerMum
When Valerie was visiting me she said, "You've got to talk to M. about her garden - she's having some trouble," and I said, "Oh, no, I really don't know much about gardening - I'm still such a beginner myself." But then, on the following Sunday, we were at M's house for lunch after church, and she mentioned that her squash vines had been growing like crazy but that they hadn't gotten any fruit. So I told her the little bit I know about squash - they have male and female blossoms which only open in the morning and showed her how to tell the difference, and that if there aren't any pollinators buzzing about accomodating the female blossoms the gardener will just have to do the job himself with a Q-tip. I also suggested she be sure the garden has adequate daylight and water, and offered some suggestions for companion plants to attract pollinators. In other words, I know more about gardening than I realize I do. I just need someone to ask for advice.

When I first started this blog, even though I'm not what St. Paul would call an older woman, since my kids are all still at home, I am an older sister. After 17 years of marriage and homemaking, after having seven very different babies (some dreamy, some active, some compliant, some stubborn, one special needs, all very "creative"), and homeschooling for eleven years, I'm farther down the road than lots of moms and I can at least tell you what I've learned so far, or what to read for more information, and some mistakes to avoid. But I don't really feel like I know much, and I'm no good at posting Advice just out of the blue.

[Paranthetical thought: Hey! Does this tie in to Valerie's recent post on spiritual gifts, or what?]

So, anyway... go ahead, ask me questions. How can I help you in your calling as daughter, sister, wife, or mother?

Saturday, September 10, 2005

From depths of woe I raise to Thee
The voice of lamentation;
Lord, turn a gracious ear to me
And hear my supplication;
If Thou iniquities dost mark,
Our secret sins and misdeeds dark,
O who shall stand before Thee?

To wash away the crimson stain,
Grace, grace alone availeth;
Our works, alas! are all in vain;
In much the best life faileth:
No man can glory in Thy sight,
All must alike confess Thy might,
And live alone by mercy.

Therefore my trust is in the Lord,
And not in mine own merit;
On Him my soul shall rest, His Word
Upholds my fainting spirit:
His promised mercy is my fort,
My comfort, and my sweet support;
I wait for it with patience.

What though I wait the livelong night,
And till the dawn appeareth,
My heart still trusteth in His might;
It doubteth not nor feareth:
Do thus, O ye of Israel’s seed,
Ye of the Spirit born indeed;
And wait till God appeareth.

Though great our sins and sore our woes,
His grace much more aboundeth;
His helping love no limit knows,
Our utmost need it soundeth.
Our Shepherd good and true is He,
Who will at last His Israel free.
From all their sin and sorrow.

Words: Mar­tin Lut­her, 1523 (Aus tief­er Noth schrei ich zu dir); composite trans­la­tion.
Music: "Aus Tiefer Not"; mel­o­dy by Martin Luther, 1524, ar­ranged in
Gesangbüchlein, by Jo­hann Wal­ter, 1524

Friday, September 9, 2005

This is beyond cool
LibraryThing, a very simple way to catalog your books online. I've been needing to do this for ages, but being the perfectionist that I am, since I couldn't decide what would be the best way to go about doing, I never even began. The first 200 books are free, after that there's a one-time $10 fee that allows you to list as many as you like.

Found at Emeth's blog.

Update - I don't know if this will work, but here's a link to my library.

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Thankful Thursday
I will take no bullock out of thy house, nor he goats out of thy folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell thee: for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof. Will I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High: And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. (from Psalm 50)

The weather has cooled down so much that we've been able to sleep with our windows open. I'm thankful for the cool weather and that we live in a place where I can safely sleep with the windows open.

This morning, my five year old little man and two year old Mama's helper were awake before me, singing and cracking eggs into a bowl. I'm thankful for children who are healthy, cheerful, and love to work.

As I'm sitting here typing this, my Little Helper has taken my hair down and is brushing it out, a rather painful process for me and one which requires me redo work, but I'm thankful for my little girl who loves to do such girly things as play with Mama's hair.

What are y'all thankful for today?

Wednesday, September 7, 2005

Do other bloggers do this?
I was just looking through my list of saved drafts, and I have twenty-three unfinished posts sitting in there. There are two or three quizzes I took and never posted, probably because I figured the blog needed a post for a change. At least two I never posted because they were snarky, but the rest range from brief notes to paragraphs of unfinished material.

The draft this quiz appears in was dated the 19th of September, 2004.

Earth Mama
You're an earth mother! Your friends sometimes
call you Gaea, because you're the original
earth goddess! You and your kids both have
dirt under your fingernails, and you spend as
much of your time as possible out of doors.
Your kids have an incredible appreciation for

What kind of a freaky mother are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Found at Alexandra's blog

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My eldest is taking an online Rhetoric class from Studium Discere Tutorials and it looks very good. The textbook was written by Peter Roise, the teacher, and each chapter includes three exercises, one on Theory, one on Imitation, and one on Practice. The Theory exercises are reveiw questions of the lesson's material, the Imitation exercises are outside reading of excellently written material, and the Practice exercises are generally writing paragraphs using the principles taught. The first few weeks the students will be reading the Psalms, followed by Pride and Prejudice. You can see the complete reading list here. Throughout the year, the students are supposed to keep a commonplace book, and submit one extract each week in a class contest. The first class was yesterday, and my favorite phrases keep popping into my head - I've offered a couple of them to my daughther, but dang, I wish I were taking this class!

A few things I would enter into a commonplace book, if I kept one:

"[T]he lady was of apparantly a British innkeeper of that orthodox school who regard guests as a nuisance."
C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet
Thanks to Valerie for reminding me of this one!

"For the great Gaels of Ireland
"Are the men that God made mad,
"For all their wars are merry,
"And all their songs are sad."
G.K. Chesterton, "The Ballad of the White Horse"
Miss Kelly M. introduced me to this one.

" 'Thank God!' said Wimsey. 'Where there is a church there is civilisation.' "
Dorothy L. Sayers, The Nine Tailors

"Complaint is the flag of ingratitude - and it waves above the center of unbelieving hearts."
Douglas Jones, Angels in the Architecture

"With this Ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow."
1662 Prayer Book

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It's starting to feel like fall here now. The highs are still in the upper 80s and into the 90s, but the nights get down into the lower 60s and the humidity has dropped significantly. I love fall - it's my favorite time of the year... until spring comes, that is, and then spring is my favorite.

We're planning for next year's garden and this one looks to be our first Real Garden. Up until now we've not had the room to freeze much, and I've never canned and don't have supplies, but here we've discovered something wonderful. Under the garage is a root celler! We'll spend the winter figuring out how much we should plant in order to keep our family in root crops for a year. We're planning on potatoes, turnips, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, and parsnips. We're also planning on growing dried beans for the first time, since I recently learned from a commenter at Scott Terry's blog how easy it is to preserve beans.

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Mike's searching eBay for an old-fashioned reel mower that the younger boys can use to help manage the lawn here. And of course, there's always the added advantage of being able to run the machine on bread and butter instead of gasoline.

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Next Wednesday, September the 14th, is Holy Cross day. Does anyone know the history of this holiday? Specifically, why do we commemorate the Cross in the middle of September?

Saturday, September 3, 2005

Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.

Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.

Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.

Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.

Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.

Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.

Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good.

Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.

Let thy mercies come also unto me, O LORD, even thy salvation, according to thy word.

So shall I have wherewith to answer him that reproacheth me: for I trust in thy word.

And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments.

So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever.

And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.

I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed.

And I will delight myself in thy commandments, which I have loved.

My hands also will I lift up unto thy commandments, which I have loved; and I will meditate in thy statutes.
(Psalm 119: 33-48)

Thursday, September 1, 2005

You mean they know what they’re eating?
A recent issue of a trendy organic living magazine had an article extolling the virtues of various women farmers, including a woman who runs a shellfish farm she inherited from her grandparents. The article notes that “[b]ecause shellfish naturally purify and filter water, they are a good example of farmed seafood that’s truly beneficial to the environment.”
I think I’ve just figured out how to make money out of my used Brita filters.
Thankful Thursday
So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations. (Psalm 79:13)

1. I am thankful for my dear husband (aka The Computer God) who has been able to recover data from my poor dead computer.

2. I am thankful that friends in Mississippi were safe from the storm.

3. I am thankful for Psalm 78.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Housekeeping epiphanies
In Sandra Felton's book, The Messies Manual, she says that one type of Messie is the Old-Fashioned Messie, who insists, for example, that floors must be cleaned on hands and knees with a scrub brush. Not that she ever gets around to actually cleaning her floors, it being such a difficult and time-consuming thing, but if she ever does clean it, by golly it'll be done right. Now I wouldn't call myself an Old-Fashioned Messy, but when I got married my idea of Cleaning the Bathroom was that you should remove every item from the bathroom and then start cleaning at the stop and work your way down to the floor, ending by cleaning all the items you'd removed earlier - soap dish, knick knacks - and putting them back in their proper places. Needless to say, this was such a daunting task that I only got around to it once a month or so, or more often if we were having company. Then, one day, after we'd been married a year and a half or two, Mike said to me, "You know, if you take a piece of a baby wipe, you can wipe off that part of the toilet behind the seat and it makes the whole bathroom look cleaner."

What? Wouldn't that be cheating? Trying to make the bathroom look cleaner without actually cleaning the whole thing?

I went along with it, including in my daily wipedown the toilet's seat, rim, and base, as well as the floor around the base, but I still felt badly that I wasn't doing it The Right Way, until I read a housecleaning newsletter that suggested something very similar to this. The idea was that, once you get your whole bathroom clean, you can use a spray-on-wipe-off cleaner on the sink and toilet every day to keep them clean, which only takes a few minutes each day, and then your monthly deep cleaning job won't be awful. Nowadays I use disposable sanitary bathroom cleaning wipes, and the kids generally take turns helping me look after the bathrooms. Even though this felt like a lowering of standards, my bathrooms are consistently cleaner than they were before.

The other day I had another one of these epiphanies. Baby Princess had spilt an abandoned cup of (very sugary) tea on the counter, and as it ran down her stool and onto the floor, the first thing I thought was, "Great. Now I have to sweep the whole floor, find the mop bucket, and mop the whole floor," which of course, is the right way to clean a kitchen floor. But then I remembered I'd just bought one of those quick mops with disposable cleaning wipes. Man, that made the job so much easier.

I'm learning to like these shortcuts that actually make the house cleaner.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

This is why I'm not a photoblogger
Three and a half days of food, fun, and fellowship, and here are all the pictures I took.

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Friday afternoon: Princess Grace preparing for her crochet lesson with Miss Valerie.

Since I took a pic of the princesses, the little boys wanted their pictures taken, too.

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Saturday afternoon: Elai receiving calligraphy lessons from Miss Valerie. All the other kids are present since everyone wanted to be where Miss Valerie was - except for Number One Son, who was outside with Daddy doing Manly Things.

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(I would say somthing sentimental and witty here, except that I'm too badgerly to be sentimental, and too sleep-deprived to be witty.)

Sunday, August 28, 2005

We are rednecks
Now you might think that we became rednecks during our four year sojurn on the backside of the desert in West Texas, but no... In San Angelo, we had Starbucks, and many of you will remember that Mike used to take me out for a frappucino on occasion. We have moved back to civilization - we now live within an hour of both the nation's capitol and the capitol of Virginia - so what do we do on date night now? Drive to town so we can shop at Wal-Mart, then stop by the Sheetz gas station to get a cup of coffee. Now we are rednecks.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Thankful Thursday
1. Valerie's coming here today!

2. Valerie's coming here today!

3. Valerie's coming here today!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Look what I found while I was uploading pictures of the house from my camera.

Mike took it when he was in Annapolis a couple of months ago for a job interview.

(Y'all do know who that is, don't you?)

Friday, August 19, 2005

More pix

This one is of the back porch and garage. The plants in the foreground are "Autum Joy" sedum, red-orange daylilies, and a red hibiscus. That bed also contains several peonies, which I'm quite excited about since I've never had one of these beauties before. The large trees there are walnuts, and the smallish one at the back corner of the garage is a redbud.

Eleanor, this one is especially for you. Behind Princess Grace is the old smokehouse which the last owner was using for a potting shed. Isn't it cute? It still smells nice and smoky inside.

And this is the view from the window over my kitchen sink, looking south. Of course, the handsome gentleman you see is not usually standing there while I'm washing dishes, but I think he improves the view. :-D

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Thankful Thursday
First, I'm very thankful to Kristen who faithfully hosted Thankful Thursdays for several months, which was probably a lot longer than she bargained for.

Second, even though I sort of miss Texas' awe-inspiring thunderstorms, there's a lot to be said for Virginia's gentle rains. It has rained twice in the last two weeks and both times it's been a nice, sedate rain that allowed the children to splash in its puddles.

Third, I'm very thankful for the safe journey the Lord granted us.

What are y'all thankful for?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Finally, some pictures.
We haven't yet found the uploading cable thingie, but Mike showed me how I can stick my camera's card into a slot in the printer and upload them from there. It's exceedingly slow, but hey, it works. :-)

This picture was taken from about 60' up the driveway from the street, facing almost due east.

Now we're about half-way up the driveway to the front of the house. That's a real antique streetlight there, from 1890 they said, but I never got a chance to ask the previous owners to tell me its story. The dormer you see there is the attic where the boys sleep. Mwa ha ha ha haaaa!

For this next picture, I was standing about half-way between the Jenyoowine Antique 1890 Streetlight and the Biggest Boxwood in the World looking north. That's a weeping cherry there near the bench and to the left of it you can just make out an iron arch that marks the entrance to the Secret Garden.

Well, this took a lot longer than I figured on, so that's all for tonight.

Monday, August 15, 2005

This isn't actually indicative of my personality. It just means that Emma is the most recent Austen book I've read, and my favorite is always whichever one I'm reading at the time, or have just completed.

The Emma type: Friendly and outgoing, these are the
social butterflies of the Austenites. They are
forgiving of human nature, and believe that
anyone can change. "Pictures of perfection
make them sick and wicked"; they enjoy
watching the process of growth and maturation.
May be too fanciful and intelligent for their
own good.

Jane Austen novel quiz
brought to you by Quizilla

Found at Carmon's blog.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

So we have this crabapple tree and it's absolutely loaded with fruit. I'd really hate to let it all go to waste, but I have no idea how to make crabapple pickles. As a matter of fact, I've never pickled or canned anything. Any favorite recipes out there? Is there anything else to do with crabapples besides pickling them? Now that I think about it, I don't remember ever having a crabapple before!

Thursday, August 4, 2005

We're moved in and we're finally back online. Valerie was right about moving day - it didn't rain, but it was over 100 degrees that week!

Monday, June 6, 2005

We've found a good home for Mr. Fishy but we can't quite decide what to do with Kitty. He's a sweet cat and much loved by our dibbuns, but he's an outside cat and he seems to belong more to this yard and neighborhood than he does to us. I'm concerned that if we take him with us, he'll run away.

Does anyone have any advice?

Saturday, June 4, 2005

The hardest part of getting the house ready to move is using up the last of the food. I always seem to end up with things that I can't quite make a meal out of without having to buy something else...

In seventeen years as a military wife, I've moved ten times, and most of the times have been in the rain. Four years ago when we found out we were coming to the desert, my first thought was, "Oh good! Surely it won't rain while we're moving!" Well, it rained when we moved into the rent house. It rained when we moved into this house. And it's been raining off and on for the past week. They're not predicting rain for next week when the movers are scheduled to be here, but we'll see...

Needing some inspiration and structure in educating my younger ones, I'm thinking of using Ambleside Online next year. I think I first found this link at Cindy/Dominion family's blog.

Three of my younger children are at my mom's in Arkansas having fun. Two nights ago, Mom and Pa took them to the rodeo, arriving around 7 p.m. The boys seemed to really enjoy it, but around 9, Princess Grace laid down on the bleachers and announced, "I have had just about as much of this as I can stand!"

Our big table is lonely with a third of the family missing from it. We've taken out the two leaves and closed it up, so the six of us can sit close together.

Today we discovered in our town a little grocery store that sells locally grown organic produce, honey, and eggs. Ain't that just the way it always is? I'm not a good networker in real life. Just a couple of weeks ago, my husband came home from work and said one of his coworkers had told him that her next-door neighbor is part of a food co-op that buys real milk. Turns out the woman is a member of our homeschool group, and just happens to be the mom I talked to the most while our kids were in ballet lessons. Now why didn't I find this out two years ago? I should send my husband to the homeschool mom's meetings and ballet lessons. He'd've found that out right away. He's the kind of person who comes home from running errands and tells me about all the people he met and their life stories. Some people are just gifted that way, I guess. My mom is like that, too, but somehow I didn't get it.

Earlier this week, Rick Saenz posted on Looking forward to the unexpected. It was a needed reminder to be thankful for everything the Lord brings our way, even when it wasn't what we had planned. Sort of an expansion on Valerie's EGEATP.

Good night, and God bless y'all!

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Rejoice! the year upon its way
Has brought again that blessèd day,
When on the chosen of the Lord
The Holy Spirit was outpoured.

On each the fire, descending, stood
In quivering tongues’ similitude—
Tongues, that their words might ready prove,
And fire, to make them flame with love.

To all in every tongue they spoke;
Amazement in the crowd awoke,
Who mocked, as overcome with wine,
Those who were filled with power divine.

These things were done in type that day,
When Eastertide had passed away,
The number told which once set free
The captive at the jubilee.

And now, O holy God, this day
Regard us as we humbly pray,
And send us, from Thy heavenly seat,
The blessings of the Paraclete.

To God the Father, God, the Son,
And God the Spirit, praise be done;
May Christ the Lord upon us pour
The Spirit’s gift forevermore.

Words: At­trib­ut­ed to Hilary of Poitiers, 4th Century.
Music: “Aeterna Christi Munera.”

Thursday, May 5, 2005

Happy Ascension Day!

The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.

The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.

Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.

The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.

The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.

He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries.

He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head.
(Psalm 110)

Monday, April 25, 2005

C.S. Lewis and community
Somewhere in one of C.S. Lewis's books, he said that Christians ought to attend the nearest church of the appropriate denomination. Well, since our goal is to live on the family's land Alabama, the closest church of the appropriate denomination is Christ Church Presbyterian, which meets just outside of Birmingham. Now, two and a half hours is a bit too far to drive, plus it's not exactly conducive to parish life, so Mike's looking for a job in the Birmingham area. I hope I'm not boring y'all with the Chronicles of the Cumbees (or maybe a better title would be "As the CumbeeClan Turns"), but for now, the two year plan is to rent, get out of debt, start saving up so we can pay cash when we build a house.

Anyone interested in working on a CREC plant in a couple of years in rural Alabama, come on down! In the mean time, here's an excellent sermon by Steve Wilkins Schlissel - Succoth: Covenant Community in Your Face.

Saturday, April 9, 2005

To everything there is a season...

After nearly 22 years in the Air Force, Mike is retiring, we're selling the house and moving, hopefully to Alabama, to his father's land, to build a house and farm the land which has lain fallow for almost a century and a half. This is what we've wanted to do for ages, and it's getting exciting now that we seem to be getting so close to finally doing what we've dreamed about for so long.

So here we are, entering middle age, and starting all over in life, building a work from the ground up that, Lord willing, will last for many generations to come.

Pray for us, if you think about us. It is exciting, but it's also a bit scary!

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Psalm 94

1 O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself.

2 Lift up thyself, thou judge of the earth: render a reward to the proud.

3 LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph?

4 How long shall they utter and speak hard things? and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves?

5 They break in pieces thy people, O LORD, and afflict thine heritage.

6 They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless.

7 Yet they say, The LORD shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it.

8 Understand, ye brutish among the people: and ye fools, when will ye be wise?

9 He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see?

10 He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct? he that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know?

11 The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.

12 Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O LORD, and teachest him out of thy law;

13 That thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged for the wicked.

14 For the LORD will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance.

15 But judgment shall return unto righteousness: and all the upright in heart shall follow it.

16 Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?

17 Unless the LORD had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence.

18 When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O LORD, held me up.

19 In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.

20 Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law?

21 They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent blood.

22 But the LORD is my defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge.

23 And he shall bring upon them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness; yea, the LORD our God shall cut them off.

~*~ ~*~ ~*~

Monday, February 28, 2005

Spring break
It didn't rain today for the first time since last Monday, the air felt gentle, the hyacinths and tulips are almost up, and Mike is taking leave for most of the rest of the week so we can get some major work done on this house. We'll most likely be putting it on the market by the end of spring and there's so much to do between now and then. I wonder if Valerie will accept the Thankful Thursday baton until I come back?