Wednesday, October 31, 2012

What We are Doing on Halloween

Tonight, we are excited to be taking our kids church.

Instead of celebrating ghosts, goblins and zombies, we are celebrating a living Saviour.  Instead of thinking about witches, which God condemns, we will be worshipping God in song.  Instead of listening to scary stories and watching frightening movies, we will be listening to the words of Jesus found in the Bible.  Instead of trying to look like a super-hero, we are asking the Lord that others would see Christ in us more each day.  Tonight, instead of going up and down the street asking for treats, we are going to church and asking the Lord for a blessing and for His grace to live like Him.  We seek His boldness to go house to house, not asking others to give to us, but to give the good news of His love to our neighbors.  

The scariest thing about tonight, is realizing how much I fall short of God's holiness & righteousness.  The best treat, however, is knowing He loves me as His child any way.  No amount of chocolate could ever be sweeter.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

From This Evening's Reading

It's taking me some time to get through C.S. Lewis's "Mere Christianity" - mainly because I have little time and it takes time to digest all that is being said.  I love how Lewis breaks down basic Christian doctrine and leaves little room for question.  Either you believe it or you don't.

A few quotes from this evening's reading:

"People often ask when the next step in evolution - the step to something beyond man - will happen. But on the Christian view, it has happened already.  In Christ a new kind of man appeared:  and the new kind of life which began in Him is to be put into us."

"Ninety-nine per cent of the things you believe are believed on authority...The ordinary man believes in the Solar System, atoms, evolution, and the circulation of the blood on authority - because the scientists say so.  Every historical statement in the world is believed on authority...None of us could prove them by pure logic as you prove a thing in mathematics.  We believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us about them: in fact, on authority.  A man who jibbed at authority in other things as as some people do in religion would have to be content to know nothing all his life."

On the question, "what about those unknown peoples in the jungles (the "outside") who've never had the opportunity to hear the gospel?" -
"...if you are worried about the people on the outside, the most unreasonable thing you can do is to remain outside yourself.  Christians are Christ's body, the organism through which He works.  Every addition to that body enables Him to do more.  If you want to help those outside you must add your own little cell to the body of Christ who alone can help them."

On Christ's return:
"Christians think He is going to land in force;  we do not know when.  But we can guess why He is delaying.  He wants to give us the chance of joining His side freely...God will invade...When that happens it is the end of the world.  When the author walks on to the stage the play is over.  God is going to invade, all right:  but what is the good of saying you are on His side then...It will be too late then to choose your side...That will not be the time for choosing:  it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realised it before or not.  Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side.  God is holding back to give us that chance. It will not last for ever.  We must take it or leave it."

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Portebello Mushroom Sliders

If you don't care for mushrooms, look the other way.  Otherwise, you just may enjoy having what I had for lunch today.  Quick, easy, and relatively healthy.

Basically, I just heated some olive oil in a skillet, placed in two portebello mushroom sliders and cooked "stem-side" down (I did remove the stem first).  After a couple of minutes, I flipped them over and added a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese to both of the 'shrooms while the other side cooked.  As soon as the cheese was melted (2-3 minutes), I removed them from the pan.  Before eating, I topped both of the sliders with homemade salsa.  Very easy.  Very tasty.

If you try this, let me know what you think!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

From This Evening's Reading

An interesting passage; especially in light of today's "progressive" church and "progressive" politics --

"We all want progress.  But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be.  And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer.  If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road;  and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.  We have all seen this when doing arithmetic.  When I have started a sum the wrong way, the sooner I admit this and go back and start over again, the faster I shall get on.  There is nothing progressive about being pigheaded and refusing to admit a mistake.  And I think if you look at the present state of the world, it is pretty plain that humanity has been making some big mistake.  We are on the wrong road.  And if that is so, we must go back.  Going back is the quickest way on."  
                                           -C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Three Women

I have a dear friend who is fighting cancer, but truly is at peace as she trusts in the Lord.  The peace of God radiates from her and her countenance shines with a grace that can only come from Him.

Another dear lady, who was a huge part of my life years ago, is about ready to leave this world to meet Jesus within the next day or two.  This is a woman whom I cannot think about without hearing her laughter.  I know it's not possible, but if heaven could ever be a happier place, it will be when she enters those gates.

Yet another dear friend of mine, who has had 4 hours of sleep in the last two days, sits at this dying woman's bedside tonight.  She's been with her during the last two years of her battle with cancer.  She intends to be there and hold her hand until it is done.

Tonight, I contemplate the lives of these women - their influence on me, their encouragement to me,  - and I pray for them. I pray for continued peace, strength, and grace. 

I praise God for such lives that have entered mine.  I thank Him for the lessons they have taught me and continue to teach me. 

I pray I can be like they are like Christ.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

As I Read, I Ponder

We've begun our homeschool year - my first year with all seven children in school.  So far, it's proved to be a good year, but we are only 5 days into it!

My 3 oldest children have several books to read throughout the year.  It is my aim to read most of these along with them.  As I am reading the first two books, I am finding things to ponder.  This is one of the greatest joys of reading.

The first thought comes from a biography of William Carey - the Father of Modern Missions.  The following exchange occurred between William and the members of his missions society immediately after he surrendered himself to go to India to reach the people for Christ:
         "Yes. Go!  There is a gold mine of souls to be dug for in India," stated one of the members.
           Carey's reply:  "I will go down the mine if you will all hold the ropes for me."

A mine is a scary place to go.  One needs to be strongly supported or he will die.  If one lets go of the ropes, the burden is increased among the others and they may not endure.  If they let go of the ropes, the man will fall and, most likely, die.

Am I holding the ropes for those who've left their loved ones and homes to reach strangers across the world for Christ?  Am I praying?  Am I giving?  Am I telling the neighbors they've left behind about the God we serve?  Am I caring for their parents who are longing to see their children & grand-babies?  Am I encouraging their siblings who miss the one with whom they shared childhood secrets?  Am I, indeed, holding the ropes?

The other book I am reading is C.S. Lewis's Mere Christianity.  Wow.  That's a tough one to wrap your brain around.  I find myself reading several sentences two or three times.  This author has a grasp on the English language that is unmatched...and I am struggling to match it!  However, once I understand what he's saying, his thoughts are profound.  One of my favorites this evening is this:

" is perfectly true that safety and happiness can only come from individuals, classes, and nations being honest and fair and kind to each other.  It is one of the most important truths in the world."

Safety and happiness only comes from honesty, fairness, and kindness.  In a word, unselfishness.  Think about it.  When our children are squabbling and unhappy, it is because they feel lied to, cheated, or someone has just been unkind.  Wives begin to question their safety when their husbands are dishonest and mean.  These principles are manifested in the home as well as in international relations.  I am challenging my children to be honest, fair, and kind on a regular basis.  Why?  Because it's the only way they can be truly happy and feel truly safe.

I love to read.  Sometimes, I love to read just so I don't have to think.  But, often, I love things that make me really meditate.  I'm praying my children are pondering these things, as well, and that good books will help mold their lives for the honor of God. 

So, go hold the ropes for a missionary and be honest, fair, and kind to those around you.  And read a good book.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Eggplant Parmigiana

Don't let the title scare you away!!  I used to think I hated eggplant...and I think I still do.  But, when you hide it in this parmigiana recipe, it is absolutely delicious.  I say "hide" because after frying in oil, adding a ton of sauce and a full 16 oz bag of cheese, it's hard to believe anything healthy is actually in there!

Some of you may not even know what an eggplant looks like.  I'm pretty sure I was married before I knew what it was.  It wasn't until the last week that I knew it came in white.  Color selections!

First, you need to peel 2 or 3 of these - the best way is just cut off the ends and run a knife down the sides.  Cut up into thin slices.

Next, put a tablespoon of oil in a pot & sauté some chopped onion and 2 cloves of garlic.  Add 3 cans of diced tomatoes (or cut up some garden fresh ones, like I did) and add them to the pot along with some sugar, oregano, basil, and salt.  Simmer for half and hour.  Don't worry, you'll be keeping busy during that time.

While the sauce is cooking, you'll be frying...the eggplant.  Beat 2 eggs with 2 Tbsp of water.  On a dinner plate, dump a bunch of breadcrumbs - seasoned or unseasoned, it doesn't matter.

Dip your eggplant slices into the egg & let excess drip off.  Put into breadcrumbs to coat one side, then turn over and coat the other.  While you're doing this, you should be heating some oil in a large skillet.  Add the slices to the hot oil, let sizzle for a minute or two (I always keep it on high to cut down on time), then turn and fry the other side.  I add oil, as needed, to keep things nice and brown.

Place fried slices on bottom of a greased 13x9 pan.  Top with half the sauce, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and mozzarella cheese.  Repeat layers.

I won't lie, the frying process takes some time.  Your sauce will be ready when you need to pour it...don't worry if it hasn't been 30 min., as long as it's hot.

You could use canned spaghetti sauce, but I really don't think it would be near as good.  Plus, aren't chunks of tomato much prettier?  I will admit, because of our large family, I do 3 layers of eggplant and I only make enough sauce for two.  Therefore, I top the final layer with half a jar of sauce.  It really is quite good that way.

Top the whole thing with cheese.  If you haven't added a whole 16 oz bag of it, you haven't put on enough.  Put in the oven at 350-degrees and wait about 25 min.  Just thinking about eating it makes me smile!

Take it out, let it sit for about 5 minutes, then slice into squares.  My family of 9 goes through the whole pan in one sitting, so I'd say it serves about 10-12 people.  Not necessarily pretty, but pretty delicious!

In Summary:
olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, chopped
3 16-oz cans tomatoes
3 tsp. sugar
1 tsp oregano leaves
1 tsp basil leaves
1 tsp salt
1 Cup dried bread crumbs
2 eggs
2 Tbsp water
2 eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch slices
Parmesan cheese
Mozzarella cheese

In skillet or pot, in 2 Tbsp hot oil, cook garlic and onion until tender, then add next 5 inggredients.  Reduce heat & cook for 30 min.  
Place bread crumbs on dish or waxed paper.  In small bowl, beat eggs and water.  Dip eggplant slices in egg, then in breadcrumbs.
Grease 13x9 baking dish.  In large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp (or so) of oil.  Cook a few eggplant slices at a time until golden brown.  Add more oil as needed.
Preheat oven to 350.  Arrange half the eggplant slices in baking dish.  Cover with 1/2 the tomato mixture.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and top with mozzarella.  Repeat layers two more times, only top with half a jar of sauce the final time (if you run out of tomato mixture).  Finish w/ Parm cheese and the rest of the mozzarella.  
Place in oven (uncovered) and bake for 25 minutes.  Let sit for 5 minutes, cut, and enjoy!

You may find a printable version of this recipe here.

Now, go!  Enjoy some eggplant!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Friends, Old and New

This week has been a busy one.  Four of our children have been attending VBS each morning at my brother's church, while I have been preparing for our upcoming 50th anniversary celebration for my in-laws.  We also squeezed in a birthday celebration for sweet Gloria.

Sadly, I just realized I completely erased all the photos from Gloria's 7th birthday.  Truly a sad moment for me, as I have all of my children's birthdays recorded photographically.  *sigh*

On Monday, a dear friend came for dinner.  It has been 8 months since we've seen her and this week, we got to meet her sweet new baby girl.

We were sad that hubby/daddy couldn't come up this time, but we had a wonderful visit with Mommy & baby...who are both beautiful!  It's hard when friends move away, but our visits together become even more treasured.

I was pretty happy with this little dessert I found on Pinterest.  Easiest cheesecake recipe I've ever tried!

Today, we had my in-laws and my husband's nieces over for dinner.  One niece has been here all summer, while the other arrived late last night.  It was so good to meet her.  Both are so sweet and we will be so sad when they leave this coming week.

However, tonight we welcomed another "member" of the family.  Our daughter Cassia has dreamed of having a horse she can ride for a few years.  Our old (and I mean that literally) horse, Joy, is sweet as can be, but REFUSES to be  ridden.

So, while Cassia has had fun grooming her and leading her, it's been her desire to be able to just ride.  So, after a few months of searching, her new friend arrived.

Rosebud (aka Rosie) is a Morgan horse with a blood-line to be envied, apparently.  She's smart as can be and just as gentle.  Joy wasn't sure what to think of her, at first, but we are sure they will be great companions very soon.

Cassia is in love with her new horse and a more truly-grateful child, I do not know.  We don't make a great habit of giving such large gifts, etc., but she has earned Rosebud in so many ways.

 "All horses deserve, at least once in their life, to be loved by a little girl."

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sweet Gloria Rose

Seven years ago today, our sweet Gloria Rose entered into our lives.  She was seven weeks premature and spent the first 12 days in the NICU.

Can I just tell you, that ever since that time, every time I hear expectant mothers wish their baby would come early, I cringe.  People say, "Gloria was 7 weeks early and she's ok."  Oh, if they only knew!  We were blessed to have had some warning of her imminent arrival.  A week and a half before she actually came into this world, I ended up in the hospital with contractions and other complications.  For four days I lay in a hospital bed and was given shots of steroids to make sure our little one could breath if she came ahead of schedule.  When I came home, it was to be nothing but bed-rest...with 5 little ones wondering why I couldn't do things for them or take them upstairs and put them to bed.  But, I thank God for the extra 10 days for Gloria to grow inside of me.  I thank Him for the advances in medicine that allowed us those necessary (and painful!) shots of steroids.

When Gloria was born, she was 4 lbs., 13 oz....not bad for a preemie!  She was crying and pink.  But, because she was 7 weeks early, there was very little fat under her baby skin.  Due to an infection we both had, she was automatically slated to be in the NICU for 10 days until her antibiotic was finished.  While I tried not to set my heart on it, I was crushed when, on that 10th day, she could not go home with me.  Due to the lack of fat, Gloria could not keep her body temperature up and gain weight at the same time.  She could do one or the other.  Therefore, if her weight was up, her temperature was down and vice versa.  Finally, on the 12th day, the doctors decided that since it was August and it was in the mid-80s outside, they could attempt to release her.

I left with strict instructions to keep her warm, check her temperature, check her weight, and not to let her around people for a few months.  MONTHS!  We brought Baby Gloria home.  Her 5 siblings were not able to hold her for 6 weeks.  While the outside temperature read 83, we swaddled her up and turned the heater in the nursery to 80 degrees.  We had to take the job of keeping warm away from her so she could concentrate on gaining weight and fat.  Once she did that (after a week or two), she could then maintain her body temperature.

The following is an excerpt from a blog post I wrote a year or so ago:

On August 2, 2005 I sat in the NICU next to the bassinet of my 2-day old baby girl.  She arrived exactly 7 weeks early.  She was tiny and not quite ready for this world.  She was hooked up to a... monitor for 12 days. It would beep and set off alarms.  I spent many a long day in her little area....holding her, watching her, praying for her.  I'll never forget the first time she really bonded with me.  I had been released from the hospital on August 4.  I had intended to arrive at the hospital the next morning around 6:00, but, as it was the first night of decent sleep in over a week, I slept in a bit.  When I arrived around 8:00 a.m., the nurses had just finished a 2-hour long ordeal of putting an IV into my tiny daughter.  She was screaming as hard as a premie baby could scream.  She was so upset.  Had I come early, there would have been nothing I could have done....but have my heart broken as I'd helplessly stand by waiting for the trauma to end.  Instead, the Lord spared me that and had me walk in just in time for the nurse to hand me my baby.  As soon as Gloria was cradled in my arms, she began to calm down and nestled in for comfort.  She knew I was her mommy - the one who loved her and would comfort her.

Yes, things turned out well...but not without a price.  Expectant moms, the last stage of pregnancy is hard and wearisome.  But, be grateful for it and know that with each day, your unborn baby is becoming stronger in order to face the physical challenges of this world.  Rejoice that you'll be able to take your full-term baby home with you and not leave him/her behind in the care of strangers.  Rejoice that you will not have to look in the faces of other parents who have made the NICU their home for months.  Rejoice that you will not have to see tiny babies left with little or no visits from the ones responsible for bringing them into this world.  Rejoice in every day of your healthy pregnancy.

However, if the Lord chooses to bring your baby early or your baby has health challenges requiring you to walk that road, rejoice in the grace and strength He will give you each day.

With all of that said, I am so very grateful that the tiny baby we brought home has grown into a healthy, happy, sweet ray of sunshine in our family.  Gloria loves to give hugs and love and desires to receive those things.  We give as much of it as we have to our precious gift from God.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Fair

Last night, we took our kids to the County Fair.  Our two oldest girls have enjoyed the Fair for the last 3 years as they've helped with the tent our church has located there.  Last year, I took Katrina for a mommy/daughter evening and we had so much fun that I planned on taking the rest of the crew this year.

Back in the day, I used to be able to ride just about anything.  Roller-coasters, name it, I loved it.  I used to laugh at my mom as she would only be able to ride the Merry-Go-Round.  Today, she's my hero as I can't even stomach that!  In all honesty, I can't even swing on a swing-set for more than a couple of minutes.  Something happens when some of us have kids...maybe it's a natural inclination to protect life.  I don't know.  Whatever it is, it keeps my feet firmly planted on the ground watching my children ride the rides.

Which, brings me to another interesting phenomenon.

Back when I was a kid riding all the rides at the amusement parks, I would feel bad for my mom who would just be sitting on the bench or standing by the gate watching us.  I'd ask her if she was bored and she would say, "Oh no!! I'm having so much fun watching you all!"  I used to think it was one of those "nice lies" moms would say to their kids to prevent guilt.  Similar to the line, "Oh, I don't need anything for Mother's Day.  Having you all is enough.  Just be nice to each other."  Whatever.  However, last year as I was watching Katrina have the time of her life & this year, as I watched the laughing faces of my children as they sped past me, I realized my mother was telling the truth.  I discovered that it is truly MORE fun to watch my children have a blast than it is to actually ride the rides myself!

Interestingly, when my kids and a bunch of their friends went on a ride and their friends all left me holding their bags - THAT was the moment I turned into my mother.  I was now the one laden with bags, cameras, etc.  The pack-mule, if you will.  I had to laugh.

The kids rode rides.  Some became nauseous. Zane won a fish.  I ate fried dough for supper and cotton candy for dessert.  My husband and I sat among our children and watched as fireworks lit up the sky in front of us while carnival lights blazed behind us.  We laughed and cheered together as we watched the greased-pole climbing competition.

 I smiled at my littlest one as he could barely stand on his feet at mid-night while I got him changed into his PJs.  We all fell into bed...with dreams of rides, sugar, and fun.

These are the things childhood is made of.  These are the memories a mother treasures.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thanking God for Family

As this is Thursday, my niece & nephew were here for the day.  This is truly one of the highlights
of our week - especially for the children. They love having time with their cousins.  Today, they read together, played games, baked cupcakes...overall, just had a great time.  My favorite part?  My nephew discovered how much fun Zane is.  He never really realized what a fun kid his cousin can be and it was
sweet to watch the two of them play together.

Family is such treasure.  While I was never close with my cousins while we were growing up, I am so grateful that my children know almost all of theirs.  Though a few of their cousins live hundreds of miles away, they've met most of them and truly can say they love them.

Tonight, I thank God for family and the precious relationship we have with ours.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

What I've Been Up To

Yes, I'm still here.  This summer has alternated between crazy busy and crazy relaxed.  Either I'm too busy to write or there's nothing to write about.  It's feast or famine here on the blog.

So, a quick re-cap of the last few weeks:

1)  Our whole family, along w/ Grandma, Grandpa, & cousin Erin headed up to Niagara Falls on July 3rd and had the time of our lives doing the "tourist-thing"!  The 2 highlights were the Maid of the Mist and the Cave of the Winds.  Had a soaking-great time!

2)  The kids and I have had a good time serving in our church's CHOICE Kids Club a couple of Saturdays this summer.  Three more to go and then we head into our first-ever VBS in August.  It is great to serve our God by loving kids.

3)  Wheat harvest came early and it was a record-breaking year.  With 100-130 bushels to the acre, my husband began to wonder where he was going to put it all.  Now, we pray for rain to save the soybeans and corn.

4)  I've been organizing and it makes me HAPPY!  Shelves that were a wreck are clean, straightened, and organized.  The attic and basement still loom over my head like a bad dream.

5)  Two of our friends have opened their pools to us this summer.  We have been taking advantage of that several days, so far.  Let's just say it's been a few years since my skin has been this dark!

6)  As mentioned earlier, my husband's niece is here for the summer visiting from Texas.  My kids have loved getting to know her and are looking forward to meeting her older sister in a couple of weeks.

7)  I've written all of my "end of year" school reports and am working on the "beginning of year" reports!

8)  I have sent out 121 invitations for my in-laws 50th wedding anniversary party and am now taking phone calls w/ the RSVPs.  Next week, I'll be making several calls to those who haven't RSVPed.  In the meantime, I'm making final plans and will soon be ordering party supplies, etc.

9)  We've celebrated Zane's 5th birthday & Cassia's 13th birthday and are getting ready to celebrate Gloria's 7th birthday.  Busy month!

10)  I have this year's classes for our homeschool co-op planned and am working on the schedule this week.

I'm sure I could add to this list, but that's the Top 10.  It's been a good summer and I look forward to the remaining weeks of fun and accomplishment.

Hope your summer is going well.  What have you been up to?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Welcome to...My Life! Mice, Stitches, & Spark Plugs

The last 24-hours have been filled with adventure and mayhem.  Well, more so than usual.

Let's begin with last night, shall we?  The kids and I were all snuggled in the front room - some of us on the couch & others on chairs scattered around - watching an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show (a classic, to be sure).  Suddenly, I saw something scurrying along the wall to my right.

A mouse.

If you're not sure how I feel about mice, read about the last time a mouse was spotted in our front room.  Yeah, that was about how it went last night.  I was calm, at first.  I remained on the couch keeping my feet elevated to make sure the furry creature wouldn't try to bite my toes.  The mouse had run behind the piano and the kids were trying to trap it.  However, it ran out from behind there and across the room.

"It's under the couch!"

THAT'S when I jumped off the couch and flew out of that room in record-breaking time.  The kids thought that was pretty funny.  I watched from a safe distance as they tore apart the sleeper-sofa looking for a mouse that might be taking a nap.  There was none to be found.  Therefore, when Daddy came home from late-night mowing, he provided a couple of types of traps for the kids to lay out.  This provided them with another opportunity to see mom jump as my 14-year old thought it hysterically funny when he set the traditional "snap-trap" off behind my head.


When the kids went to bed, I headed up earlier than usual.  There was no way I was sharing the same space with some fugitive mouse ready to crawl across my feet or up my back.  No way.

This morning, the good news was that the mouse was dead.  Seeing the remaining blood and fur on the "sticky-trap" where my husband had scraped him off was simultaneously nauseating and comforting.  Life could get back to normal.

For about 15 minutes.

I had asked our 10-year old daughter, Katrina, to take out the garbage.  Sadly, there was a broken glass in the bag and it scraped against her ankle.  Actually, it didn't scrape.  It gouged a hole in her ankle taking out a large piece of flesh which resulted in a continual flow of blood.

Is that graphic enough?

Off to the doctor we went.  I'm not one who runs to the ER for every little thing and I wanted to be sure that stitches were necessary.  Never mind the fact that you could count the three layers of skin just by looking at the wound.  So, after getting the predicted answer from the pediatrician, we headed to the hospital.  We were treated wonderfully and we were out in 2 hours.

By this time, the patient and her sister were pretty hungry.  I swung by McD's to get them a bit of a treat (otherwise known as a very unhealthy lunch) and then to Tim Horton's to get two LARGE coffees - one for me and one for my mother, who was waiting for us at our house.  While pulling up to the drive-through window at McD's, I realized that the lady with whom we checked-in at the hospital earlier that morning never returned my license and my insurance card.  Oh well.  Those could wait until later.  I needed coffee...NOW.

We were about a half-mile from home.  Katrina was doing well.  The hot coffee was in the cup holders and my mom was waiting at home for a relaxing chat.  I stopped at the new stop sign at the intersection.  No cars.  I took my foot off the brake and pressed the gas.

That's when it started.  The horrible clunking sound in my engine.  One half-mile from our house.  (Praise God I decided to go to the local hospital and not the one we usually go to 20-minutes away!)  I immediately pulled over and called my husband.  Who needs AAA when you've got a husband who gives immediate roadside assistance and will tow and fix the vehicle for free?!

After calling my husband, I called the house to let my mother know we'd be a couple of minutes later as we now had to walk home.  As we began to climb out of the car, I realized something.  Katrina had just gotten stitches in her ankle.  There's no way she should be walking a half-mile down the road.  Fortunately, my mother has a better head on her shoulders than I do and was already on her way to rescue us.  Her little blue car was directly behind my husband's big truck.  My two favorite people who are constantly rescuing me!

Apparently, our van blew a spark-plug.  When I first heard that, I thought, "Good.  Spark-plugs are no big deal."  Wrong.  Replacing a spark-plug is no big deal.  Fishing one that has popped off and flown into the engine and repairing the damage...THAT'S a big deal.

But, my can-do-anything husband has it under control.

I ended up having a relaxing time with my mom.  She later took me back to the hospital to get my license & insurance card.  I had my identification and my life back.

Interestingly, my day just about ended where we began.  Remember those mouse traps in our front room?  Yeah.  My two youngest kids found them.  Oh, not the "snap-traps" - but the "sticky-traps."  Did you know once you touch those, every piece of dust, lint, and fuzz instantly is attracted to your hands and fingers?  It takes a serious amount of scrubbing to get that glue off.  When we did, I told my daughter to get rid of that trap.   She found it.

"Guess what they did," she said.  "They flipped it upside down...on the rug!"

Welcome life!!!

Friday, June 8, 2012

Apostrophes or Apostrophe's?

Apostrophes are among the most misunderstood grammatical markings in the English language, second only to the comma.  While the rules of the comma are somewhat flexible, the rules of the apostrophe are not.  My blood pressure is normally low, but I can literally feel it rising when I see the apostrophe misused.

Maybe I need to relax and let things slide. Then again, maybe people just need to use this mark correctly.

The main rule for apostrophes is not complex.  Here it is:  apostrophes show possession.

That's it.  It's not difficult nor does it require a college degree to understand.  Apostrophes are used to tell us when a thing belongs to something or someone.  They are not used to make a word plural.

Allow me to give you a couple of examples:

1.  The moms met together for lunch.
Here, the word "moms" is plural.  It is used to tell us that there is more than one mom at lunch.  Notice the lack of apostrophe as it is not needed.

2.  I wore my mom's wedding dress on my own wedding day.
Here, the word "mom's" shows possession.  It tells us that the wedding dress of which we are speaking belongs to mom.  It speaks of the singular  mom (only one).  The apostrophe is necessary.

Oh, and I did, indeed, wear my mother's wedding dress the day I got married.  :)

3.  The moms' group raised money for the school.
Here, the word "moms'" also shows possession, but for more than one mom.  Just as the "moms" went to lunch, there's more than one.  In this sentence,  the group belongs to these mothers.  Therefore, an apostrophe is needed.  Because there is already an 's' in the plural form, there is not another 's' added after the apostrophe.  This leads to a quick example of one of the most complex rules regarding the apostrophe...

4.  Jesus's disciples followed Him.
In this case, the name 'Jesus' ends in an 's'.  Because His name is not a plural form, we do add an 's' after the apostrophe.

I truly hope this helps some of you.  I truly hope you begin to use apostrophes correctly from now on.  It will reflect much better on you and it will enable me to have a future that is free of high blood pressure medication.

*In one of the comments in the last post, it is mentioned that blogs are not expected to follow the traditional rules of writing.  While this is true to a small degree, it does not include misspellings and blatantly incorrect punctuation.  Bloggers are given the liberty to ignore paragraph & common sentence structure, to a degree.  For instance, in the above post, my second paragraph is only two sentences long.  This is not the traditional structure, but is acceptable in the blogosphere.  Also, the occasional fragmented sentence is allowed for emphasis, as well.  
Please keep the comments coming.  While I may not respond to each, I do read them, love them, and enjoy the thoughts they provoke.*

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Few Rules Every Writer Must Follow

Is it too much to ask for people to follow basic grammatical rules? I'm not sure if I've ever posted on this subject before, but I have thought about it often. Daily, I see bloggers & business owners butcher the English language by ignoring elementary grammar rules. It never ceases to set my teeth on edge.

If you do any type of writing - whether it be for a business, a blog, or just a friendly letter - please realize that your writing is a reflection of you. People will perceive you as either smart or poorly educated based on your word usage. As I am a home-educator, it really infuriates me when I see homeschool graduates (who are supposed to be among the best educated) consistently produce sub-quality writing.

I fear many think that writing skills are not important, especially in this day of spell-check, etc. However, spell-check does not determine what form a word ought to take in your sentence. When apostrophes are misplaced or the wrong form of "to" is used, a piece of writing suddenly insults the reader in assuming he/she won't know the difference. Many readers do, indeed, comprehend grammar rules. These readers, myself included, will steer clear of an author, blog, & business when they continually prove themselves careless in the use of our English language.

Maybe some writers truly are not aware of the perpetual errors they are making. Below are listed common mistakes along with their corrections:
1. There, their, they're -
a. There - location (over there)
b. Their - belonging to 2 or more people (this is their house)
c. They're - a contraction meaning 'they are' (they're going away)

2. Two, to, too
a. Two - the number
b. To - an infinitive; a preposition; used to link words & phrases together (I am going to the store)
c. Too - meaning 'also' or 'as well' (I went to church, too)

3. Its, it's
a. Its - belonging to it (the dog hid its bone)
b. It's - a contraction meaning 'it is'
When unsure which of these two you need to use, ask yourself if the phrase 'it is' works in your context. If not, leave out the apostrophe.

Apostrophes need an entire post for themselves. Look for that in the next day or two. In the meantime, begin implementing the aforementioned rules immediately. Your readers will be grateful.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Are we to thank veterans on Memorial Day?

Every Memorial Day it's the same.  I hear many people encouraging others to thank a veteran on this national day of remembrance.  While I love our veterans, this is NOT the purpose of this day.  I tend to get a bit annoyed by the seeming ignorance of other citizens in this matter;  however, I am beginning to realize the place of thanking a living veteran on Memorial Day.  I think, as Americans, we are so grateful for the price many have paid for our freedom that we want to thank someone...though, in all honesty, we cannot thank those who paid the ultimate price.

If you thank a veteran today, remember you ONLY do so because you cannot thank those for whom Memorial Day is intended - those who never made it home from battle.  Veterans' Day is set aside for those who fought, came home, and continue to live their lives.  Memorial Day is for those who have etched themselves in our memories by giving their last breath for our freedom.  If you thank a veteran today, thank him in the memory of the fallen soldier.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Father Abraham Had Many Sons...

...and I'm glad I only have three!

Let me explain.  Lately, my 4 oldest children and I have been taking turns telling the younger children the Bible stories.  It's been a great experience thus far and it gives the older kids some practice teaching the Bible.


Today, I finished telling the story about Sodom & Gomorrah (with help from most of the kids who acted it out).  Because we've been talking about Abraham this week, Cassia suggested we sing "Father Abraham."  You know, "right arm, left arm, right leg, left leg...."  That one.  Always a bit dangerous with 7 kids, but always a fun song.

Today, I could barely sing or move my appendages for laughing so hard.  My two oldest sons, while doing "right arm, left arm" were moving their arms in a way so that they could flex & admire their biceps.

Seriously...only boys.

I don't have as many sons as Father Abraham.  It's a good thing.  I'd probably laugh myself silly.


Oh my!  I haven't been here in about a month and it appears the whole world has changed.  Well, the Blogger world.  I'm looking at my screen and it's completely different.  Very appropriate.

Why appropriate?

Well, because things around this blog are going to change.  At least, for now.  I will come and go as I please.  I will not be held to any self-inflicted schedule or assignments.  Lack of commitment?  Maybe.  Depends on your perspective.  My commitment is to my family.  I also have other commitments that I must adhere to.  This blog is on the bottom of the priority/commitment list.  I contemplated eliminating it altogether.  But, I love to write too much.  I can't do that.  But, I won't be here as often.  Well, as often as I was before I "left" for a month.

Photos will still be here.  Stories of my family will still be here.  Some heart-felt thoughts may still show up.

I will try not to waste your time or mine.  Lately, I've stayed away from a lot of blogs because, quite frankly, they often make my stomach turn.  "Look what an awesome wife & mom I am!"  "My life really isn't perfect...REALLY!  It just appears that way most of the time."  "Aren't my kids the cutest?  They even have matching & perfectly clean outfits.  Every. Single. Day."  "I love being a mom & homeschooling.  I NEVER have a day that I regret it.  I adore my kids and think they are precious EVERY minute."

I am totally afraid of sounding the same way here.  Not that I want to be a complaint-filled blog, either.  Because I only want to edify in a realistic way (quite a difficult task at times), I would rather be silent for long stretches than inadvertently discourage other moms.

Does any of that make sense?

How self-important am I?  Does any one REALLY care about what I think about certain aspects of life?  I'm not asking that to receive encouragement or pity or anything else like that.  It's more of a "life-is-too-short-to-think-that-others-really-need-to-know-all-I'm-thinking" kind of statement.

I'm happy when people stop by and read.  I'm happy when I can encourage someone.  I'm happy when I can make people laugh or smile.  Sometimes, it's important to me when people shed tears over something I've it's important to grieve once in a while.  But, I'm not sure that I can do these things every day or every week.

So, stop by every so often to see if there is something here to encourage you.  If there's nothing new, I'm keeping busy raising my kids among other things.

Your word of encouragement for today - no job is inferior if it's being done to the glory of God.  If you do it for Him, He will one day say, "Well done." That's what it's all about.

Monday, April 2, 2012

My Week in Pictures - March 25-March 31

Well, as proven by the following photos, our week was uneventful.  We spent it coughing and trying to get better by the weekend.  We were somewhat successful.  But, it was a week of "normal" living....just the way it needs to be from time to time!


Sunday 3/25 -  I was in bed until 9:30 a.m., back in bed at 12:20 until 8:00 pm & still sick when I got up. Hence, no photo.

 Monday 3/26 - Anna is an avid reader and, therefore, loves her Kindle. (iPhone photo)

 Tuesday 3/27 - re-learning how to hold her violin.  Who knew short necks could cause such problems? (iPhone photo)

Wednesday 3/28 - busy day running here & there.  No photo.  Did celebrate the fact that a dear friend was offered a great job after years of unemployment!

 Thursday 3/29 - Enjoyed an evening playing games with the younger kids while the older ones worked on their newspaper. (iPhone photo)

 Friday 3/30 - Celebrated my dear mom's birthday with her favorite cake! (iPhone photo)

Saturday 3/31 - Almost a year to the day after a close friend of mine had an aneurysm that nearly took her life, we celebrated her upcoming marriage at her bridal shower Saturday afternoon.

Birthdays, new jobs, time with family, bridal showers, the gift of life - maybe even the "ordinary" weeks aren't so ordinary after all.  God is good!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Happy Birthday, Katrina!

On March 22, 2002, at 12:45 a.m. - forty-five minutes after arriving at the hospital - I gave birth to an 8 lb. 3 oz. baby girl.  Her delivery was the most different of any of our children.  It was the fastest, the most painful, and the most surprising.  It was the only time we didn't find out ahead of time what we were having.  Our baby was also born still in the bag of waters.  We named our baby Katrina Grace.  She has been full of surprises and different from her brothers and sisters ever since her arrival.  While her different nature has been a challenge at times, I am growing to appreciate those differences.  

Katrina is very much like her daddy in many respects.  She loves to work with her hands.  She likes people, but she doesn't NEED them.  She hates to be the center of attention; even when we sing "Happy Birthday" to her, she looks like she'd rather crawl under the table until it's over!  She is quiet and listens much of the time.  Katrina does not express happiness and surprise like most people.  You can give her the gift she's been dreaming of for years and, while most 10 year old girls would jump up and down and hug and kiss the giver, Katrina will just give a small smile and say, "Thank you," just like her dad.  We joke and say, "She's jumping up and down on the inside." Katrina also has her daddy's beautiful blue eyes.

Katrina is also very much her "own" person.  She works on her own schedule.  She has a quirky sense of humor.  She loves animals, but not in the typical little girl-way - she enjoys them a bit more maturely.   She isn't the type that wants a lot of hugs and physical attention, but enjoys it once in a while.  She enjoys reading her Bible, but her walk with the Lord will probably always be a private affair.

This past week, on Katrina's 10th birthday, the weather was near 80-degrees.  Perfect for going to a playground - a rarity for a March birthday!  We picked up a friend, packed a lunch, and headed off to the park where the kids had hours of fun playing hide & seek, queens, guards, & pirates, and just running all over the place.  

It was voted the Best Playground Ever by the kids!

 "Shhh....I'm hiding."

 Um, ouch.

 A happy birthday girl

After running around and getting really warm at the playground, we headed to the lake.  The LAKE in MARCH!

 One of their favorite friends with whom my girls love sharing their birthdays.

 Discovering various rocks & creatures along the lake.

 Huck Finn pushing off his raft. 

 Wouldn't it be nice if we all could be this photogenic?


 The beach... full...

...of interesting...


After the lake, we took our friend home and headed back to our house.  Katrina went with her daddy to pick up some Chinese food on which we gorged ourselves!  We then watched her open her presents.

Beautiful dress from Grandma.

Brothers just aren't into pretty dresses.

Easy to please, as always, all she wanted was a journal.  She had much to write for her birthday entry!

The delicious chocolate-truffle cake Grandma makes.

A precious photo to be treasured.

Happy Birthday, Katrina!

Thank You, dear Lord, for this sweet, bright-eyed girl who is teaching me to appreciate the differences in people.  Thank you for her desire to give to others and lead her younger siblings.  She is a precious addition to our family and I am honored You chose me to be her mother.  Bless her in her 10th year & I hope & pray she will strive to please You more with each passing day.