Wednesday, June 27, 2007

She got a blue ribbon!

Ga'Hoole Girl entered the 4H Clothing Revue for the first time this year. She modeled an outfit that she put together for her Consumer Savvy project and won a blue ribbon - her first 4H blue ribbon!! She bought her skirt and blouse from Goodwill here in town (total of $11). She accessorized with jewelry and shoes that she already owned. Then, she added a hat "that has been in the family for several years", which is translated "was Mom's a long time ago and has been in the dress-up box for as long as I can remember"! The only other person in her group was one of her best friends, J. J had purchased a lovely purple dress. Both girls were awarded blue ribbons. We were so excited!

Summer is pretty busy around here. Wild Man is taking swimming lessons every morning. He objected at first, but has gotten a little more motivated now that he has friends who all swim out in the deep water. We go to the pool a couple of times a week, and Wild Man usually finds a couple of guys that he knows from baseball or summer school. Speaking of which, baseball continues to go well for him. He is really improving both his hitting and his fielding. He often plays infield (first or second base or shortstop) which makes him happy.

Ga'Hoole girl finishes summer school this week. She has really enjoyed her three weeks. I was really worried when she came home one day and said that she needed to know exponents for the next day. I was concerned that she isn't far enough along in math (you know, the whole "am I teaching enough?" that homeschooling moms deal with). But, Mr. Math Teacher taught her exponents that night in about 20 minutes. And, a couple of days later, Ga'Hoole Girl came home and said that she was the only one in her class who could really do fractions. So, it appears that she may not have been exposed to everything yet, but she knows what she knows very well.

Ga'Hoole Girl is also taking an art class this summer. It is taught by the husband of one of her previous dance teachers out at their studio (dance upstairs and art downstairs). So far, they have done figure drawing. This week, they will do still life. Next week, they will probably do landscapes. It is really good for her to be working with a real artist. She is signed up for painting and drawing for the Fair in August, so I hope that she either does a project that she can enter in the Fair or learns something new that she can use when she does her project.

We are still doing some school this summer. The deal is that we do "real school" on the weeks that we don't have other things going, like summer school or piano camp or the Fair. Wild Man has been just doing reading and math. Ga'Hoole Girl will be doing grammar and math next week. I think we'll get back to Sonlight in August, although I'll probably not add in all their subjects until after the Fair. Ga'Hoole Girl plans to sew as well as do art for the Fair (and show her cat). I think I have found a grammar book that will work well for her. It is Easy Grammar Plus. Ga'Hoole Girl enjoyed doing Daily Grams, and this is by the same author. I don't have her just doing Daily Grams, though, because there are things that she still hasn't learned. This way, she will get a comprehensive grammar course over the next couple of years.

We have lots of great homeschooling moments around here. Last night, Wild Man and I were cooking spaghetti sauce. I cooked the meat and drained off the liquid, which was water and oil. So, we had a discussion of oil and water and that they don't mix. Ga'Hoole Girl was in the other room and provided some additional info when asked. We colored some water blue and tried to mix oil with it so he could see that they didn't mix and that the oil is less dense than the water. Then, we weighed a cup of water and then a cup of oil. There is not a huge amount of difference in weight, but there is a little bit, so Wild Man could really see that they have different densities. We haven't discussed the difference between weight and mass, but we did discuss density. Tonight, we talked about how meditating on God's Word is like chewing on it. The kids had a lot of fun with that analogy, and I think they got it.

I have also been thinking some about how the hardest things about homeschooling are also the best parts of homeschooling. I am trying to teach Ga'Hoole Girl about persistence right now - sticking with a project until it is done. This, of course, leads to conflict between us. But, working through the conflict is strengthening our relationship. If I just sent her off to school, we would lose that valuable opportunity. Wild Man has some issues with boredom this summer. So, we play a few games together. But, the rest of the time, he and I have to work out how much of his boredom I am going to try to relieve and how much he has to deal with on his own. And, if he gets too bored, I have all kinds of work to be done around the house ;-) When all is said and done, getting through the hard stuff is the best thing for all of us. So, I'm glad that we're sticking with it right now. (This is not to say that school may not be the right option at some point, but right now homeschooling is working for us on many levels.)

"You are not a bad mother; you are a barking lunatic!" Spoken by Hugh Grant in the movie "About a Boy". The movie is OK, but that line still makes me laugh. I stress occasionally about whether or not I'm a good mother, but at least I'm not a complete lunatic. Mr. Math Teacher says, though, that he has to come up with other ways to encourage me; every time he says, "You are not a bad mother", I'm going to think he means, "you are a barking lunatic"!

I've been doing lots of reading lately, but I'll post reviews and comments about them later. I'm working my way through Desiring God by John Piper right now. It is not a really easy book, but I think it will be worth it. One of the interesting things is that Piper is a pretty strong Calvinist. We were in a Reformed Church back when we got married, but have since been in Evangelical churches. I'm still thinking about Calvinism. According to Al Mohler, the Southern Baptist tenets are based on the Westminster Catechism - I didn't know that. I thought that Southern Baptist tended a little more toward the Arminian view of things. More on all this later. I'm enjoying reading Piper's stuff right now.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I'm an aunt - again!

My brother and sister-in-law had their second baby on Saturday - another boy!! We are all excited! Her first birth - 5 years ago - was a very difficult birth. The baby was 10 pounds and she had a really hard time. This time, though, the baby was 7 1/2 pounds and it was a much shorter and more manageable birth. The kids are pretty excited about a new cousin, as well.

I'm not going to write much right now because we are pretty busy, and because our internet connection is freaking out. I hope that this gets posted without too much trouble. The tech decided that it is on the ISPs end of things, so they are coming out on Monday to try to sort out the problem.

In the meantime, Ga'Hoole Girl turned 12 yesterday. Her party is this weekend - she and her friends are going to paint her bedroom. EEK! We also bought some fabric to make a curtain around her bed, so I'll be working on that. She is also signed up for the 4H clothing revue next week. She has cut out her PJs that she's making, but still has to sew them. She also has to purchase an outfit for her Consumer Savvy project. We are off to Goodwill later today for that.

Wild Man has been fussing about reading lessons and the fact that I'm making him do reading and math every day. But, he keeps asking for help in reading the dialogue on his video games, so he has some motivation to keep moving on the reading, at least.

More later. Hopefully, the computer stuff will be resolved very soon.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Recent Events

I'm not blogging anything deep or profound tonight - just an update on what's been going on around here. I've had a migraine all day, so I'm not even sure this will be coherent!

My parents came to visit us about 2 weeks ago and stayed through last Saturday. While they were here, the kids had their dance recital. Ga'Hoole Girl was in five dances for each of three shows: jazz, tap, ballet, 2 daddy-daughter numbers. Wild Man was in only one dance, but still for all three shows. He was in a jazz class this year.

The week before the recital was hectic, as usual, but it was nice that the kids could keep track of their own shoes, dance bags, etc. All I worried about was making sure that they had all the stuff they needed before we left the house. We live about 45 minutes away from the city where they dance, so there would be no coming home for missed items!

Of course, the recital was wonderful. Ga'Hoole Girl outdid herself this year. The jazz class really stretched her, but she was up for it. She has never had jazz before, but she was in the advanced (child) jazz class this year. So, she had a little learning to do. But, since she has been taking ballet for so long, she already new a lot of the moves - she just had to learn how to incorporate them in to jazz. For example, she can do a pique turn and a pirouette from her ballet class. A jazz pirouette is a little different from a ballet pirouette, but the idea is the same. Since she is already comfortable with spotting, etc., a lot of the jazz moves weren't difficult for her. Her tap class danced to music from "Pirates of the Carribbean". They didn't purchase costumes, but made them up themselves. Ga'Hoole Girl wore black pants and a white shirt with a velvet coat dress (Talbot's - got it at Goodwill for $6!) and a belt along with a hat. The tap dance was just amazing - and the kids had such fun with it! Ballet was, of course, just beautiful. They danced to "Christofori's Dream". Her class had 6 girls in it, and they usually danced in pairs, but they used up the entire stage. What a change from 6 years ago when she was in her first recital doing tap and pre-ballet numbers when she was 5!

Wild Man was in one jazz dance this year. It was really fun because he was already good friends with 3 of the other 4 class members. He and his good friend were the two boys. My best friend's daughters were two of the girls. But, they made friends quickly with the third girl. They danced to "Sharp-Dressed Man" by ZZ Top. Talk about fun! The kids had a great time on stage, and they really did well. Their dance was pretty complicated for a beginning jazz class, but they pulled it off. What was really cool was to see how encouraging Wild Man could be to the rest of his class. He helped the lady who sold flowers get her stuff from her van, so she gave him a free flower, which he gave to his grandmother. Then, he kept asking Mr. Math Teacher for money to buy flowers for all his friends - "So and so doesn't have a flower, so can I buy one for him/her?" It's nice to see that he thinks of other people.

The day after dance recital, Wild Man had his first baseball game. He was wonderful! His team won by a very large margin, in spite of the other team having some real sluggers. Wild Man's team can be pretty inconsistent. They have some kids who are still learning the basic rules and then kids like Wild Man who are ready for more intense stuff like "who covers first base when the first baseman is fielding the ball", stuff like that. During the first game, it was pretty chilly (low 60s). Wild Man had another game this week and it was about 88 degrees out during the game. They won that game as well. More importantly, Wild Man seems to be really developing his skills. It's also really nice to see how much he cheers on teammates that have done a good job instead of being jealous.

My parents stayed here with the kids while Mr. Math Teacher and I went up north to a cabin on a private lake for our 15th wedding anniversary. It surely does not seem like that long! We had 3 1/2 glorious days of reading, talking, listening to audiobooks or music, knitting (for me), carving (for him), and walks by the lake. Unfortunately, we got a flat tire on our way home (about 1/2 mile away from the house!). Mr. Math Teacher was able to get the tire changed and we made it home. That night, we had a little birthday celebration for Ga'Hoole Girl (a little early) and the grandparents took the kids swimming.

This week has been busy but fun. Wild Man took a one week long nature course offered through the public school. When all was said and done, he had made several friends (one of whom he sees at the pool regularly), learned some stuff about nature, and made several crafts. Ga'Hoole Girl is taking some enrichment summer school classes which last for three weeks. she is doing cooking, PE, Math Mania, and board games. She has also really enjoyed it. She still has another two weeks of school left. She is also doing art classes with the dad of the other girl in Wild Man's jazz class - is that totally confusing, or what? In any case, this girl's mom was Ga'Hoole Girl's ballet teacher for the previous two years, and her dad is an artist. He was interested in setting up some art classes, so we go to his studio every Thursday night for four weeks. There are another four girls and the teacher's daughters in the class. They did figure drawing this week and will continue next week. Then, they will go on to still life and landscape, I believe.

The swimming lake (not a pool, it has a gravel bottom, but it is filtered, even if it's not chlorinated) opened this last week. I signed Wild Man up for swimming lessons. He objected, but then went out into the deep water with his friend yesterday with only a swimming noodle to support him. EEK! So, he's a little more motivated to learn to swim because he can't go in the deep water unless he can swim (pool's rules - although they are our rules too). I took them swimming twice this week. There is limited shade around the pool, so it's not real comfortable for me to go with them. And, I find the water still a little chilly for my taste this time of year. In any case, the kids have fun. And, Mr. Math Teacher took Wild Man to the pool to swim with one of his friends from summer school yesterday. They certainly aren't deprived of pool time around here!

I finally finished painting the living room. It is definitely mauve, but it really make the wood frames and baseboards stand out. I'm very pleased with it. My next project is to do the hallway in a sage green. I think I'm going to do all the brushwork, then move the furniture and take down the pictures and roll the rest. I hate dealing with rollers, but it's the only way I'm going to be able to get to the top of the stairwell. In any case, I have lots of time, and don't need to worry about it right now. Mr. Math Teacher's mom is coming in July and going to camp with us. After that, she is taking the kids on a lighthouse tour of Door County. So, I have a lot of books about lighthouses that I want to look at with the kids. We were going to do it yesterday, but Wild Man went swimming. Then, today I had a migraine and slept a lot. Maybe we'll look at some of it tomorrow. Ga'Hoole Girl is signed up to make some PJs and have them ready in a week and a half for the 4H clothing revue. Unfortunately, she is such a perfectionist that she wants to quit whenever it gets hard. So, the pinning of the pattern to the fabric is done. Now, I need to help her get through the cutting. And, it's her project, so I'm not doing it for her, but I may need to hold her hand for the first one!

Mr. Math Teacher had been quite the handyman lately. He has done almost everything on the "ToDo" list. The rest either needs my input or money that we don't have! When he's not working on handyman stuff, he's helping a friend set up his computer and working on his carving. He had a new project - making a chain long enough to go around someone's neck all from one piece of wood. He's having to be very careful, though, that he doesn't damage the wood in the process. I'm pretty impressed!

So, that's life at the moment. I'm hoping to feel well enough tomorrow to straighten up a little bit and to finish some laundry. But, right now I'm exhausted. So, off to bed. Sleep well, everyone!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

More Musings about Faith and Safety

KC's comments are very much appreciated. I agree that Christianity in this culture is being treated appallingly, especially for a country that was founded by Christians. Chuck Colson does a great job of writing about the current political and social situation. I have read some things by David Limbaugh and also been quite impressed. That being said, our level of persecution is very low compared with almost any other country in the world today. Chuck Colson's Breakpoint Commentary from 6/10 ( comments on true martyrs as well as the political correctness in our culture that keeps us from addressing it. The consequences that we face for standing up for our faith are miniscule compared to the rest of the world, though. has listings of people who have been imprisoned for years simply for attending a church service or having a Bible. In our country, we face the loss of position, short jail terms, or loss of job, but nothing like in other countries. Unfortunately, our culture is declining, so there is the potential that we could face further overt persecution in the future.

I am not unaware or unconcerned about the status of Christianity in our culture. And I agree that Christians must be proactive about positively affecting our culture. Social and political action by Christians should be a normal part of life. That being said, I stand my my conclusion that the American church remains very privileged.

However, I am most concerned about my own propensity for safety and comfort, particularly in light of Jesus' command to daily take up our cross and follow Him (Matthew 16:24). The first century people to which he was originally speaking understood that "taking up one's cross" meant dying. I am concerned about this from a personal point of view - am I willing to follow Jesus even to the point of death? Our cultures values of "personal peace" and "affluence" (per Dr. Schaeffer) are in direct contradiction to the commands of Christ.

So, my conclusion is that this is an area of my life that needs some work. I need to daily strengthen my walk with the Lord so that I am willing and ready to do whatever He calls me to do - from the simple stuff like being more available for my kids to the harder stuff like reaching out to my neighbors to the even harder stuff like giving up my own dreams and plans and comfort to be where God wants me to be.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Faith and Safety

I finished reading How Should We Then Live? by Francis Schaeffer this week. Basically, Shaeffer starts with Ancient Rome and traces the effect of Christianity on philosophy, art, music, and culture until the mid-1970's (when the book was written). The first 10 chapters are historical in nature, and are quite interesting. Starting in Chapter 11, though, Schaeffer starts to critique our own culture; the result is convicting.

In Chapter 11, Schaeffer asserts that "As the more Christian-dominated consensus weakened, the majority of people adopted two impoverished values: personal peace and affluence." The values of personal peace and affluence are everywhere. We don't want to do anything that will "rock the boat", whether or not it is right or Godly. We will do anything to make sure that we are "comfortable". I am afraid that many political decisions these days are made with reference to making us comfortable and happy and have very little to do with Godly values.

Affluence as a value is all around us. It is becoming expected that we will have a large home, new cars, and lots of cool toys. But, God calls us to a deeper life than just having "stuff". Jesus didn't even have a home. As a society, we have developed social structures just so that we can keep up our level of affluence. It is the norm for families to live on two incomes. Kids are sent to school when parents would prefer to homeschool because of the financial implications. [Of course, it is easy for me to talk about this right now since we haven't actually been forced to live on just Mr. Math Teacher's salary yet.] Our family has started down the road of becoming less dependent on our stuff. Our current home has only one bathroom and no dishwasher. We just gave up cable (ouch!). We now have the chance to spend more time on relationships - with family members but also with our neighbors.

The message at church this morning was the beginning of a series called "Architecture of a Movement" in which the pastors will be teaching about the Church - it's beginnings, where it is headed, and where our local church should be headed. One of his main points today was that Christianity is not "safe". In this country, we experience very little persecution for our faith. This is in serious contrast to many other countries. Check out Voice of the Martyrs for some stories of modern day martyrs and people who are currently imprisoned for their faith. If our faith is "safe", then we aren't really living it out. We should be willing to risk our "personal peace" and "affluence" (as Schaeffer puts it) in order to make a difference in our world.

What does this mean for me and my family? It means that we need to get more aggressive about getting our debt paid off and using our money in a Godly way - supporting missionaries and ministries right now. It means taking my kids to the nursing home and/or nutrition center regularly to minister to others in our community. It means a more concerted effort to get to know our neighbors and be a blessing to them - even at the expense of schoolwork or housework. It means daily reassessing our values - how does this action further the kingdom of God? Is this the best thing for me to do today/right now? How can I model love and giving to my kids? How can I be the love of Jesus to my neighbors?

In summary, I highly recommend that you read Schaeffer's book. Chuck Colson has written How Should We Now Live? which is supposed to take up where Schaeffer left off. I'll let you know what I think when I'm done with it. In the meantime, I have found plenty to chew on from Schaeffer's book.

P.S. Check out "Me and Becky" by Chris Rice. It's a musical treatment of leaving our comfortable Christian confines to really impact the world.

Blessed be the name by Tree63

What a wonderful song and video. We sang this song this morning in church. I particularly appreciate the part about choosing to bless the Lord even during our suffering!

Friday, June 08, 2007


I have been reading a wonderful blog called "Making Home" at http:// She has been writing recently about women and friendship - I find her comments insighful and important.

I developed the best friendship of my life in college with D. She and I lived together for three years in the dorms at LSU. We had a blast! But, we also came to love each other dearly. We have led very different lives, though. She got married right after college and is a stay at home mom to four boys in the suburbs. I am a former physician who is staying at home with my two kids in a very small town. But, I got to go visit D for her fortieth birthday this year. What a special time that was! We got to reminisce, share stories about our kids, and just "hang out". We still just chat when we get a chance.

After college, I had several good friends in medical school, but not close ones like D. I got married after my second year of medical school, and Mr. Math Teacher and I became friends with several couples, but I wasn't particularly close with any other women. The same was true in residency. In large part, I just didn't have time. There are only so many hours in the day, and I was working most of them! The rest of my time was spent with my husband.

In the time since residency, though, I have developed some friendships with other women, and have been much better because of it. Generally, it has been pretty informal. My best friend, S, became my friend because I helped her take care of her kids when she was sick. Since then, our friendship has deepened and we have shared lots of good and bad things together. At one point, I was also leading a small group for women who were hurting. It was a nice, safe place for us to share our struggles and to study what the Bible had to say.

Right now, I have several close friends - and I cherish them all. A few weeks ago, Mr. Math Teacher and I wanted to go to the big city to visit a friend in the hospital. I called S the night before and asked if she could keep our kids for the next day, and she said "yes". I'm sure it was a little inconvenient for her, but she didn't hesitate at all. We have kept various combinations of her kids over here when she would go out of town for a weekend. Another friend asked us to keep her son for the week so she and her husband (one of our pastors) could go to a conference. I can call either of these women (as well as several others) if I need to talk, vent, or need a favor.

Most of these friendships have not developed out of formal events, but just out of living life. I have some friends that I got to know first through church, others through homeschooling, and others through working. My one concern right now is that I don't have any older women friends who can act as a mentor for me. Titus 2:3-5 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. As women, we should have older women who can help us through our struggles while we help the younger women. So, while I'm not out recruiting, I am looking for a woman older than myself to be a different kind of friend - someone to walk with me through this middle age part of life.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Perfect bread! (and some reviews)

I finally made "perfect" whole wheat bread!! It was delicious. The trick, it appears, is to add gluten. Normally, my bread is heavy and rather dry. With the added gluten, the bread rose nicely and is wonderfully soft. My kids usually like bread right out of the oven, but they also like this bread for sandwiches. They previously would only eat the homemade bread as toast, but now they will eat it for everyday things, making it a money-saving venture. Hurray!

My parents are here visiting this week. This weekend is the kids' dance recital. Tonight is one of Ga'Hoole Girl's dress rehearsals. The others are tomorrow before the Saturday night show. She is in her three dances plus the two daddy-daughter dances. Wild Man is in one dance. I am trying to not go too crazy. The good news is that Ga'Hoole Girl is old enough now to manage most of the costume change stuff. She still needs me to help her with her hair, but that is far less stressful than trying to keep up with all the costumes, etc.

It feels very busy because of recital and the extra people in the house, but we are actually doing less than usual. We are done with schoolwork until July (we'll do a couple of weeks in July and a couple of weeks in August). Ga'Hoole Girl and I need to go buy some fabric to get her started on her 4-H projects. I want to get back to painting next week. That's an adventure because I can only paint for an hour or so each day otherwise I get a bad headache. So, it takes about a week to do one room! It will get done eventually, I'm sure.

Movie review: One Night With The King - based on the novel Hadasseh: One Night with the King by Tommy Tenney.
This movie tells the story of Esther from the Bible. It actually starts with King Saul and his disobedience to God by not killing all the Amalekites immediately as directed by God. Samuel, the prophet, confronted Saul about this and killed Agag, the Amalekite king, himself. There is a rabbinical tradition, apparently, that Haman was a descendant of Agag and that explains his hatred of the Jews. Interesting. The acting, costumes, and sets were all just wonderful. The movie took some license with the story itself, but this isn't surprising. One of the things that I found interesting was that the story took place during the time of Xerxes (who is the same as Ahaseurus, apparently). This is cool because we have been studying the Greeks and just watched a History Channel show on the Battle of Thermopylae (which included a lot of background info on the conflict between the Greeks and the Persians). Knowing that the story of Esther occurred during the time of Xerxes really helps to put it into history for me. I highly recommend this movie for adults. Kids over the age of 8 can probably watch it, too.

Book review: Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray
This is a children's book that Ga'Hoole Girl will be reading a little later in her curriculum. It is the story of the son of a minstrel in medieval England who gets lost and spends several months trying to get back to his father and his dog. I most enjoyed the descriptions of life in that day and place. I highly recommend it for older elementary age and up.