Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Works For Me Wednesday – April 29, 2009


I’m a reader.  Only the worst migraines keep me from my books.  I’m well-known at our library and I always have a stack of books that I’m reading.  So, I was thrilled to get this nifty device from Sonlight this year as a gift for ordering a Core:leather bookmark 

This is a weighted bookmark.  It is leather with weights at the ends.  I use it to hold open a book that I’m reading while I’m doing something else with my hands like petting the (very demanding) cat or eating a snack.  This is truly one of my new favorite items.  If you have a friend or loved one who reads, definitely look into getting them one (or more) of these for the next major holiday.  The only problem I have with mine is that I perpetually lose it and have to go on a search and rescue mission when I want to use it again!

Check out We Are That Family for more great Works For Me Wednesday posts!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Compassion Trip to India

Compassion International currently has a group of bloggers on a trip to India.  Here’s the link to the bloggers page where you can find the link for all the bloggers.  Check them out.  That page also has pictures and videos.  Their stories are just amazing.  Then pray for the bloggers and the families being served by the Compassion center in India.  If you aren’t already sponsoring a child through Compassion or another organization, you should seriously consider it.  This is a great way to share God’s love in a tangible way.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Waiting . . . .

I’m waiting. I’ve been waiting for four days for this particular headache to go away. I’ve been waiting for three years for them to get well enough for me to work. I’ve been waiting for six or more (I’ve quit counting) years for the headaches to go away.

You’d think by now I’d have learned some patience. Sigh. Not really.

“I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord: be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:13-14

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.” Psalm 130:5

“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31

“Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!” Isaiah 30:18

I’m learning to wait. But, not wait as in just sit and be bored kind of waiting. For one thing, that just allows me to focus on my pain which is very unhealthy. No, I’m finally seeing that “waiting” on God is just as much “doing” as the ministry I wish I could do.

Waiting is praying without ceasing – and the more I pray, the more I realize I must pray. I have started to pray for our church, the missionaries we support, the missionaries I read about on the computer, and whatever I can think of.

Waiting is learning about Jesus. I read a lot when I feel bad. I’m learning to read my Bible during that time, even if I’m not “studying”. I always put off Bible reading because I wanted to be able to focus, but I’m seeing that it’s OK to just read and absorb.

Waiting is just being still. It’s hard for me to be still. I went from high school to 12 years of higher education to 10 years of working as a physician. There was rarely a quiet and still moment. There’s still not much quiet with two kids and a husband around and I like to be doing something. But, when I can’t sleep because my head aches too badly and I can’t knit anymore, God is there and wants me to be there with Him.

So, I wait. And He is there. Not according to my expectations, but His. And since he has the perspective of eternity, I have to trust He knows what He is up to.

Menu Plan Monday – April 27, 2009


So, I’ve had this migraine now for more than three days.  I think I might just lose my mind.  One thing, though, that has been really good is that I cooked almost all of last week’s meals on Tuesday so that we have not resorted to frozen pizza, even when my headache was the worst. 

My plan this week is to shop tomorrow (pending some headache improvement, although Mr. Math Tutor might have a few extra minutes to shop for me) and to cook on Wednesday of this week.  Ideally, I’d like to shop on Monday or Tuesday and cook on Wednesday or Thursday.  Doing a week’s worth of cooking on one day isn’t really all that hard, and it’s so nice to have all the food in the fridge and ready to heat up!  And the kitchen stays a lot more clean.  So, here’s the menus:

1. 40 Cloves and a Chicken with French bread – I found a gluten-free French bread mix, but I figure I should make it when we’re having something really yummy to go on top since most reviews I’ve read say that gluten-free bread tends to have little flavor.

2. Chicken gumbo with salad – whole chickens are on sale

3. Beef and broccoli stir-fry – yes, I found some gluten-free soy sauce.

4. Baked chicken thighs with corn and salad.

5. Leftover chicken gumbo

6. Clean out the fridge night.

That should get us through the week.  Check out Menu Plan Monday to see what others are planning for their week!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Book Reviews -

Time for more short book reviews.  These are all unsolicited and most are on books I picked up from the library.  If I give it an A, you should definitely read it.

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan – A novelization about the love affair between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Borthwick Cheney.  Well written and fascinating, but I have a hard time feeling sympathetic about two characters who leave their spouses and children to run off and build a love nest on the prairie.  B

The River: A Journey to the Source of HIV and AIDS by Edward Hooper – Fascinating book in which the author suggests (but does not, by his own admission, prove) that HIV may have been first transmitted to humans during some of the early polio vaccine trials in sub-Saharan Africa.  A tough read because it’s so long and detailed with lots of people mentioned, but it brings up many excellent bioethical issues.  A-

Death in a Prairie House by William Drennan – The actual history behind Loving Frank.  Fascinating history.  I was happy to read more about the life of Wright after Mamah’s death.  B

Shutting Out the Sun by Michael Zielenziger – Many young people in Japan are shutting themselves away from the world and refusing to go to school or work.  The author explores this phenomenon and how it came about.  One of the most interesting things is that those young people who travel abroad and become Christians appear to be immune to it.  B

The Women of Windsor by Catherine Whitney – A history of the current set of British royals, including Princess Diana.  This book falls somewhere between history and tabloid.  Interesting, but not earth-shattering.  B

The Independence of Miss Mary Bennett by Colleen McCullough – Another extension of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, this time focusing on Mary Bennett.  The other sisters, though, play a prominent role.  The story is terribly unbelievable but well-written.  A-

Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants by Lee Goldberg – This book is from a series of books based on the TV series Monk.  If you haven’t seen the TV series, you really need to do so.  It is hysterical.  And the book is just as funny.  I’ve never thought of myself as a real mystery reader, but I got a real kick out of this book.  A-

Can Somebody Shout Amen? by Patsy Sims – A social history of the tent revivals of the American South.  The author does a short bit of history but then visits a number of tent revivals and interviews the preachers.  Quite interesting.  B  (Note:  The book is from the 80s)

Mr. Monk is Miserable by Lee Goldberg – Another Monk mystery and another success.  This one is set in France.  The mystery part was really fun to try to sort out and, of course, the characters are pretty hysterical just being themselves.  A-

Crazy for God by Frank Schaeffer – I was concerned that this was going to be a tell-all type book about the Frances Schaeffer family, but I had read some good reviews and decided to give it a try.  Frank Schaeffer, the son of Frances Schaeffer, is open and honest about his parents and what it was like to grow up as the son of a missionary and Evangelical thinker (and minor celebrity).  It didn’t come across as mean-spirited.  It was, though, sad to see some of what goes on behind the scenes in the Evangelical culture war.  A

Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters by Donald Prothero – A good entry into the anti-creationist literature.  Prothero does a nice job of explaining why and how the fossils strongly support evolutionary theory and how there really aren’t many “gaps” in the fossil record.  Sadly, though, he can’t help taking the occasional potshot at the YEC-types.  He isn’t a professed Christian and doesn’t make an attempt to “fit” Christianity and evolution.  Otherwise, a good book.  B

My Life Without God by William J. Murray – Mr. Murray is the son of Madalyn Murray O’Hare.  He grew up as an atheist and was the plaintiff in the lawsuit that removed prayer from public schools, but has since become a born-again Christian.  Very interesting and disturbing biography.  B

A Cup of Tea by Amy Ephron – At the start of WW1, a young society woman meets a young woman and poverty and does her a good turn.  Unfortunately, this is the start of the ruin of everyone.  A well-written but sad book.  A-

To Hold the Crown by Jean Plaidy – Elizabeth of York married Henry Tudor who became Henry VII and they started the most famous and powerful dynasty in English history.  This historical novel was interesting, but rather stiff without good character development.  C

The Company Car by C.J. Hribal – This is a novel about a family with six kid from Chicago that moves to rural Wisconsin in the 60s (near Appleton).  Dad is a traveling salesman, hence the name.  Good book.  B

The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose – A Brown University student enrolls at Liberty University for a semester.  This is a very insightful outsider’s look at one of Evangelicalism’s big-name universities.  His response is fair and even-handed.  A

The Wettest County in the World by Matt Bondurant – The author has written a fictionalized account of the early life of his grandfather and great-uncles, bootleggers who ran illegal liquor through Virginia in the 1930’s.  Fascinating read.  B

The Help by Kathryn Stockett – I listened to this on audiobook.  Two black maids and a white socialite in 1960s Jackson, Mississippi write a book about the experiences of black maids in the segregated South.  But, there’s so much more than that.  The characters are deep and rich; I could smell the food cooking and feel the heat coming up from the dust in the driveway.  An absolute must read.  The audiobook was excellent with authentic accents all the way around.  A+

Murder by Family by Kent Whitaker – A man, his wife, and two sons come home to find an intruder in their home who shoots all four, killing the wife and younger son.  The man, a devout Christian, determines the night of the shooting that he will forgive the intruder.  But, then, he finds out that his oldest son is the mastermind.  Amazing story of fatherly love.  B+

The Associate by John Grisham – This is a Grisham thriller in which a law student is blackmailed to take a job he doesn’t want to violate moral, ethical, and legal principles.  How can he get out of it?  Excellent legal thriller (without the preachiness of Grisham’s last book).  The ending wasn’t quite as neat and tidy as I would have liked, but then again, neither is life.  A-

Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher – Carrie Fisher’s autobiography, I think, in which she discusses her alcoholism, addictions, bipolar disorder, and ECT treatment.  It was quite informative, but very scattered; I think she wrote it when she was manic – but where was her editor?  She also uses more colorful language that I’m generally comfortable with.  But, otherwise, an interesting read.  B-

Revenge of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz – Another hilarious installment in the Spellman saga.  I won’t even try to summarize the plot.  Suffice it to say that Isabel’s (the main character) PI case is a very minor part of the plot.  In spite of that, there is blackmail, theft, unwanted surveillance, and breaking and entering – most of it perpetrated on or by family members.  I laughed on just about every page.  A+

Tales from the Dad Side by Steve Doocy – Do you ever watch Fox and Friends?  No?  Well, me neither.  Unless I’ve had such bad insomnia that I’ve been up all night.  On those few occasions, I’ve seen Mr. Doocy as the co-host of Fox and Friends.  His book is subtitled, appropriately, Misadventures in Fatherhood.  It’s a cute and often funny collection of his life as a dad to three kids.  And, indeed, he has had some misadventures.  Good read.  B+

There you have it.   Now, get thee to a library.  Oh, first, comment and tell me a good book you’ve read lately.  Now, get thee to a library.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Our Week in Review – April 25, 2009


It was a good week around here.  I felt great until Thursday afternoon when my migraine started – we’re having some serious weather changes.  The kids have done quite well this week.  So, here’s our week:

History/Social Sciences – We watched a movie on the French Revolution and have read more in George Washington’s World.  We just finished reading The Sherwood Ring together as our read-aloud which we all loved.

Science – Rosie Girl wrote a short paper about mountains this week.  Wild Man and I read some about measuring volume and density and then did a worksheet reviewing those concepts.

Language Arts – Rosie Girl finished reading The Broken Blade and wrote a character sketch.  Wild Man has been reading the books in a series called The Dragon Slayer’s Academy.  Spelling is still slow with Wild Man.  I’ve decided that we will just review on Mondays.  On the other days, we will do half of a Spelling Power lesson.  He starts Spelling Power Book 3 this next week.

Math – Rosie Girl is still in ALEKS.  Wild Man is doing math with Mr. Math Tutor.  I have been pleased to see him doing some more complex word problems even though the math part is still quite simple for him.

Bible – Wild Man finished Discovery 8 this week in his AWANA book.  He is pretty sure that he’ll finish his book this year!  Rosie Girl has been reading Live Like a Jesus Freak.  As a family, we are reading the Gospel of Matthew (to take a little break from the Pentateuch).

Music – Wild Man has practiced drums faithfully.  Both kids are pretty excited about dance recital at the end of May.  Rosie Girl had her piano contest this afternoon.  She’s reasonably happy with her performance.

Physical Education – Rosie had her first track meet this week!!  She didn’t place in any of her events, but said that she really enjoyed it.

One more week of “school” before we take a vacation week!  We are all looking forward to that.  Check out Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers for more weekly reviews!


Friday, April 24, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday – April 24, 2009


1. I got up at 6:30am today.  That’s so strange for me, but I’m sure it’s because I went to bed at 9:30pm last night because of my cold.

2. Rosie Girl had her first track meet yesterday afternoon!!  She competed in three events and had a great time!

3. Wild Man has gotten so interested in a series of library books that he walked to the library today to get the next books in the series and brought back books for me and Rosie Girl as well.  Talk about motivated!

4. One more school week until we take a week of vacation!  We are going to set up our garden that week.  Speaking of which, I had never heard of Square Foot Gardening until last year, and now it’s everywhere!  Our town is doing a community garden using Square Foot Gardening.  Several of the blogs I read are talking about it, too.  I’m just jumping on the bandwagon, I guess.

5. Last Saturday, Mr. Math Tutor and I went to the Quest Conference at Christ the Rock Church in Menasha.  The theme was “Give Me Your Eyes”.  Two of the featured speakers were Os Guiness and Stuart Briscoe.  I had a migraine for part of the day, but managed to stay for the conference.  The conference helped us again to focus on others and their need for Jesus.

6. I have been on a bloggy prize-winning spree lately!  I won a book, a women’s devotional Bible, and a blog makeover from the UBP (the makeover is coming – I’ll let you know when so if you read in a reader you can make sure to take a look).  I also recently won two DVD sets – one on the American Revolution and one on WWII.  The kids aren’t nearly as excited about those as I am.  I’m on some kind of roll!

7. Tonight all four of have been sitting in the living room together.  I have been reading, Wild Man has been playing Wii then reading, Rosie Girl has been on her laptop, and Mr. Math Tutor has just been resting on the sofa.  I guess having a smaller house really isn’t so bad, after all.

Check out Jennifer’s blog for more 7 Quick Takes Friday entries.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Thankful Thursday – April 23, 2009


First of all, I need to do a little housekeeping.  My daughter who has been known on my blog as Ga’hoole Girl will now be known as Rosie Girl.  Now, on to being thankful!

This week, I am particularly thankful for our school district.  This may seem rather strange since we homeschool, so I need to explain.  Rosie Girl had her first track meet today.  She is able to be on the track team because our school district has been accommodating toward her this year.  Next year, she won’t be able to do any sports because the high school sports are part of WIAA (the Wisconsin high school athletic organization) which states that students must be enrolled full-time to be able to participate in sports.  However, in our district’s middle school, the sports aren’t part of WIAA, so they have let her be on the track team.

We also had a very productive meeting earlier in the year with the principal of the middle school/high school (it’s a small district) about having Wild Man in band and Rosie Girl in a foods class next year.  He was happy to do what he can to facilitate their educational experiences within the school board guidelines.

Rosie Girl is going to be applying for jobs around town in the next couple of weeks and will probably need a work permit.  In researching the work permits, we found that kids can apply for them through the schools.  Mr. Math Tutor called the high school (he knows the guidance counselor since he did some of his educational observations there) and asked if they could do the work permit for Rosie Girl.  They told us the requirements and were happy to do it even though she is homeschooled.

I know that not every homeschooled family has a comfortable relationship with their local school district, but I am so thankful that ours has gone well.  We still don’t feel the need to put our kids in school for their entire educational experience, but we recognize that there are some things that we can’t provide well at home, particularly since we are in a small town.  I thank God often for the people He has put around us to help with our homeschooling effort.  (And, no, not every Thankful Thursday post will be about homeschooling – there is more to my life than this, but Rosie Girl’s track meet today made me think about this!)

Check out Thankful Thursday for more great posts!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wifey Wednesdays – April 14, 2009

Wifey Wednesday

A new meme!!!  An this one is on marriage – one of my favorite subjects!  Of course, it helps that I’m married to the greatest guy in the universe.

So, I asked this greatest guy what I should write about that makes our marriage work.  He said, “You know, ‘that’”.  I reminded him that my brother thought that my Facebook entry about shaving my legs was TMI, so I thought that posting about “that” might be a little much for my poor family.  So, on to a more family-friendly topic.

Actually, today Sheila wants us to discuss complaining.  At her site, she talks about complaining to our husbands and how we can communicate more appropriately with them.  I want to discuss complaining “about” our husbands.

It seems that one of married women’s favorite sports is husband bashing.  We love to get together and talk about how terrible our husbands are – how they can’t clean properly, can’t take care of the kids, can’t do this or that.  Quite frankly, I’ve never really understood this.  I often wanted to ask, “If he’s such a bum, why did you marry him?”   What is even worse about complaining about our husbands when we are with a bunch of girlfriends is complaining about our husbands right in front of them.  And, yes, it does happen.

What is the problem here?  What if it is all in fun?  Everything we say about our husbands affects them.  When we tell other people how incompetent they are, they feel incompetent.  We may thing it’s just a little joke, but they are likely to feel the seed of reality that is in there.  And it affects us.  When we complain about our hubbies, we are reinforcing our own beliefs about them.  If we say negative things about them, it is because we are thinking negatively about them.

1 Corinthians 13 tells us that love is kind, is not rude, and keeps no record of wrongs.  When we complain, we aren’t being loving.  Ephesians 4:29 says “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Wow.  That’s an indictment of complaining about anyone or anything if I ever heard one.  Finally, James 3 tells us of the importance of taming our tongue because of the damage we can do with it.

Complaining, though, starts in our heart.  If I am going to build up my husband when I talk to other people, it will start by thinking about the good things about him.  I need to constantly be in prayer, thanking God for my husband and asking Him to show me where I am being ungrateful.  When I have problems with my husband (because he’s certainly not perfect, either), those need to be dealt with here at home or with trusted friends, not complained about to everyone else in town.  So, can we all start today to build up our husbands and show them we love them with our words to them and to others?

Check out Sheila’s blog at To Love, Honor, and Vacuum for more great posts.

Blast From The Past – WFMW April 22, 2009

wfmwbannerKRISTEN i-am-blissfully-domestic-apron

Today’s entry for Works For Me Wednesday and I Am Blissfully Domestic is an oldy but goody: Comet Cleanser.  I’m not sure how old you have to be to remember this stuff.  I used it in high school when I cleaned the bathroom.  It’s a bluish-green powder that cleans like there’s no tomorrow.  The only other cleaners that we ever needed were window cleaner for the mirror and some X-14 for the mildew.

Comet Cleanser So, why am I mentioning it now?  Being the sophisticated, 21st century mom that I am, I have been using the spray cleaners that cost an arm and a leg.  I have been trying to faithfully shine my porcelain sink (a la FlyLady), but it just doesn’t get all that shiny.  A couple of weeks ago, I saw the Comet Cleanser for just 75 cents at the local grocery store.  75 CENTS!!!!  Not the four dollars for the fancy spray stuff.  I brought the Comet home and proceeded to use it to clean my sink and the bathroom.  Lo and behold, it worked better than anything I’ve used in the last 20 years (and, no, it didn’t scratch).  It doesn’t have any perfumes, so Mr. Math Tutor didn’t have a problem with the smell.  Then, this week, I found the Comet Cleanser on sale for just 2/$1.00.

I get to save money, relive my childhood, and have a shiny sink, all at once!!!!  Does it get any better than this!

Check out Works for Me Wednesday and Blissfully Domestic for more great ideas!!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Menu Plan Monday – April 20, 2009


It’s going to be a pretty boring week here as far as food goes, I think.  I’m getting over a really long migraine, so it’s kind of hard to come up with meals that are economical, gluten-free, yummy, and liked by the entire family.  I already have a chicken and roast in the fridge ready to be cooked, so that makes planning a little easier.  Here’s the plan:

1. Deconstructed Chicken Divan – I’ll serve the chicken, sauce, broccoli, rice pasta, and regular noodles separately so that everyone can mix and match what they want.

2. Roast with mashed potatoes and green beans

3. Roast with mashed potatoes and salad or green beans

4. Oven fried chicken thighs with roasted potatoes and raw veggies.

5. Frozen pizza for the rest of the family with chicken salad and rice cakes or something equally exciting for me.

6. Leftovers.

Head on over to I’m An Organizing Junkie for more great menu planning ideas!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Our Week In Review – April 18, 2009


One of the really nice things about the kids getting older is that they are able to get a lot of their work done even when I don’t feel well.  I had migraines on Thursday and Friday, so I was so glad that the kids were pretty independent.  Here’s what we did:

History/Social Sciences

We caught up on our Story of the World listening this week.  We just finished the chapter on the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror as well as the chapter on Catherine the Great.

On Wednesday, we went to the Appleton Tea Party, which I thought was a great opportunity for the kids to see our freedom of assembly and freedom of speech in action.

We are still behind in reading George Washington’s World, but I hope to do some reading aloud tomorrow (proved this headache lets up).

Science - Ga’hoole Girl read about meteor craters and is working on a short paper about them.  Wild Man and I didn’t get to science this week (I’m blaming the migraines).

Math – Mr. Math Tutor has taken over the children’s math education!  He is doing a multiplication unit with Wild Man – so far it’s all review, they’re moving very quickly through it.  Ga’hoole Girl is still using ALEKS, but will be doing Algebra with Mr. Math Tutor when she is done with her ALEKS unit.  Mr. Math Tutor is setting up lesson plans for some online classes, so the kids will be his guinea pigs.

Language Arts – I’m still quite pleased with Wild Man’s reading.  Because of my migraine on Thursday, I just had him write sentences with his spelling words from the day before instead of doing a spelling lesson.  He did a great job without complaining!  I’ve also been interspersing more spelling reviews in between spelling lessons with good results.

Music – Ga’hoole Girl’s piano is going quite well.  The Festival is next weekend.  Wild Man still loves his drum lessons.

Physical Education – Ga’hoole Girl’s first track meet is on Tuesday.  She’ll be doing shotput and the 4x100 meter relay.  Wild Man is spending every second he can outside playing basketball or just running around.

Life Lessons – We got Ga’hoole Girl some good shoes for running and her knees aren’t bothering her anymore.  The good news is that the shoes that worked best for her were last year’s style so they were $25 cheaper than the newer ones would have been!  Mr. Math Tutor took Wild Man on Tuesday and got him some cleats for baseball.  The kids have both been affected by my gluten-free diet.  Anything that is for the whole family has to be gluten-free, so they are learning how to avoid gluten.  Of course, they can still have “normal” food even if they can’t cook it for me!

I wouldn’t trade this lifestyle right now for anything.  The kids manage to get on my nerves when I have a migraine (of course, anything bothers me when I have a migraine!), but they are really good kids who actually like each other and are learning.  Wild Man has been having some attitude issues about chores and schoolwork the last couple of weeks, but we’ve evaluated the situation and are pretty sure the problem isn’t the actual work, but being a 10 year old boy who’d rather play outside than do what needs to be done (go figure).  So, we’re praying lots and working through it.

How was your week?!  Check out Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers to see how others fared!

Friday, April 17, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday – April 17, 2009


1. In spelling, I asked Wild Man to spell the word “yawn”.  He got it right, so I asked how he knew that it had an “aw” in the middle instead of an “au”.  He said, “Because there’s a Pokemon attack called Yawn.”  Well, there’s no rule about which one to use in this word and he just had to use the one that he recognized as correct, so I guess that Pokemon is as good a mnemonic as any!  (He also remembers how to spell “hawk” from the Paper Mario video game.)

2. Ga’hoole Girl has been going to the middle school track practice faithfully for two and a half weeks now.  The team’s first meet is next Tuesday and Ga’hoole Girl will be competing in shotput and the 400 meter relay.  The coaches will decide if she’s also going to do the 200 meter relay, but she doesn’t really think so since her 200 meter times aren’t real great.  So far, shotput has been her thing, though.

3. Ga’hoole Girl has also been faithfully practicing her wicked hard piano pieces.  Today, she actually got through them without mistakes!!  The festival is next weekend!

4. We got Wild Man signed up for summer baseball.  He’s doing the night-time city league which is a game once a week and a practice once a week.  He is also signed up for a daytime traveling team which will play other teams in the area.  That team plays twice a week and practices three times a week.  He’s going to be a busy boy!

5. I’ve got another migraine today and was feeling really bummed that it’s so nice outside when I feel so rotten.  Then, I decided that it’s actually nice that the weather is good today because we can open up all the windows even if I don’t feel like going out for a long walk or anything like that.  Attitude is everything!

6. I made roast beef, rice, and gravy last night for dinner.  The cool thing is that I made the gravy with rice flour so it was gluten-free.  The texture was a little different (but not bad) than regular wheat flour gravy, but the taste was just as good!

7. I’m listening to the book The Help on audiobook.  I’m really loving it so far.

Check out Jennifer’s blog for more great 7 Quick Takes Friday posts.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What’s in Your Book Basket? – April 16, 2009

Yes, I seem to have gone meme-crazy!!  But, I couldn’t help it – a meme about what books our family is reading right now.  It’s just too perfect!!


Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand– Can you believe I’ve never read this?  So, I got it from the library and I’m working on it.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett (audiobook) – So far, I love it.  Set in 1962 Jackson, Mississippi, 2 black maids and 1 Junior League socialite take on the racial boundaries of the time.

Murder by Family by Kent Whitaker – I just started this.  The true story of a son’s treachery and a father’s forgiveness.

The Power of Less by Leo Babauta

Everyday Cheapskate’s Greatest Hints by Mary Hunt

Ga’hoole Girl

InkDeath by Cornelia Funke

Physik by Angie Sage (and the rest of the Septimus Heap books)

The Broken Blade by William Durbin

Wild Man

Chosen by Ted Dekker

Pendragon: The Merchant of Death by D.J. MacHale

We don’t have a book basket around here.  The kids’ books usually end up all over the house – in their bedrooms at bedtime, back downstairs in the morning, etc.  My books generally live beside my rocking chair or the sofa.  I also keep a stack under the window in the office since I’ve run out of bookshelf space!!  Before I go to the library, I check the library website to see which books are close to being overdue then I have the family find the books and put them in my bag for the library run.

Check out The Happy Housewife for more Book Basket posts.

Gettin’ Political

SANY1480_edited I’m not generally a political creature.  I’m a lifelong conservative (we’ll ignore a few months in college, OK?).  I vote.  I occasionally email my representatives (and get back nice little form letters).  I put signs in my yard.  But, that’s about it.  So yesterday’s attendance at the TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party in Appleton was a bit of a departure for me.

SANY1486 Why go?  Well, as the name of the rally suggests, I believe we are taxed enough.  Of course, unlike the original Boston Tea Party, this time around we have elected representative.  But, they don’t seem to be paying much attention to what we are telling them to do.  This rally was a reminder.  As the speakers at the rally reiterated, our officials are elected by the people of this country, so we need to vote, get our friends and neighbors to vote conservative, and get more conservative candidates to run for office.

SANY1488 Another reason to go was to exercise our freedoms of association and speech as enumeration in the Bill of Rights.  I also wanted my kids to see these freedoms in action.  It was great to be among several hundred (if not a thousand) people who wanted to make their opinions known to the government.  We listened to several speeches, all of which exhorted us to take legal and peaceful action.  It was a good experience all the way around.

Thankful Thursday – April 16, 2009


Today, I am most thankful for . . . Homeschooling!!

Some kids do really well in school – I was one.  Some families aren’t able to homeschool and others simply are called by God to be ministers in the school systems.  I am happy, though, that God has called us to homeschool.

Wild Man is finally reading “real” books (he has dyslexia and is almost 11 years old).  Mr. Math Tutor and I were talking this morning about how it is entirely possible that Wild Man might never have learned to read well if he was in school.  He is smart enough that he might have gotten by well enough to not have been “labeled” and gotten the help he needed.  He would have been at severe risk of getting frustrated and being diagnosed as being "lazy”.

It hasn’t been an easy three years, but Wild Man is now reading everything he can get his hands on.  He has read four books in less than two weeks.  He wanted to read Around the World in Eighty Days yesterday, but decided to go with something easier after he read the first paragraph!  (But, he tried!)  I got him some books from the Young Adult section of the library this afternoon and he’s already well into one of them.  I truly have been thanking God hourly for the last week for the gift of being able to teach this boy at home.

Ga’hoole Girl doesn’t have learning challenges like her brother, but she definitely prefers learning at home.  She and her piano teacher chose some wickedly hard pieces for recital and festival this year.  Since she’s at home and gets to make her own schedule (within reason!), she has been practicing for well over an hour a day for the last couple of weeks.

I could go on and on with the reasons that home education works for us, but I’ll just leave it at this: God has given our family a real gift by allowing us to live in a country and state where we can homeschool with minimal difficulty and giving us the resources to pull it off.

What are you thankful for?  Check out Thankful Thursday to see what others are saying.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Works for Me Wednesday – Sauce Cups


Back in the Fall, I was making knitted and felted Mancala games as Christmas gifts for family members.  When I got the cups for the games made, I realized that I didn’t have anything to help me mold the cups into the right size and shape.  One day in Sam’s Club, I came across a package of 12 of these little sauce cups. 

They were the perfect size for shaping the Mancala cups – and there were just the right number.  The really cool thing is how useful they have become since then.  Here are several of their uses.Sauce cup

Measuring dry ingredients for baking – one of my kids’ favorite uses for the cups!

Holding salad dressing for dipping veggies, especially since we don’t all like the same salad dressing and my kids like to double-dip.

Works great for putting all my medications and supplements in before I take them with breakfast.

One-half a cup is about two Tbsp of chocolate chips which is about 100 Calories.

I think this was some of the best $5.00 I have spent in a long time!!  Check out Works for Me Wednesday for more great ideas!!


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Why Gluten-Free?

I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m doing a two month trial of a gluten-free diet for my headaches.  A couple of people have asked why I am trying this, so I decided to post about it.

Several months ago, I saw some articles about celiac disease and migraines.  Celiac disease, also known as gluten enteropathy, is an autoimmune disease in which the body reacts to gluten by creating antibodies to part of the lining of the small intestine.  The symptoms are usually gastrointestinal in nature with diarrhea, bloating, and malabsorption.  Recent research, though, has shown that people with migraines are more likely to have celiac disease, and that their migraines are likely to respond to a gluten-free diet.

My doctor and I agreed to do the blood test for celiac disease which came up negative.  (I wasn’t too surprised since I don’t have any other symptoms of celiac disease, but it was certainly worth the test.)  She and I decided, though, to pursue a two month gluten-free diet trial.  There is some evidence that some people have gluten sensitivity even with negative blood tests (i.e. the blood tests are not quite sensitive enough to pick up low antibody levels or there is another mechanism at work).  So, until June 1, I am completely gluten-free.

Earlier this year, I went back on Topamax for migraines because the headaches had gotten so bad again that I was really functioning quite poorly.  I have tried to avoid pursuing every new headache treatment that I hear about because it is so disappointing when yet another treatment fails.  In December, I tried oxygen therapy without success.

One of the things I have had to really work through with the chronic pain has been my feelings of guilt about being in pain.  It truly doesn’t make much sense.  After all, I never thought to blame my patients about their pain.  But, as someone who wants to always be in control, I feel like something of a failure when something happens that I can’t control, like chronic headaches and migraines.

One of the risks of trying another diet treatment is that failure of the treatment (which is statistically likely, although I’m praying not) makes it easy for me to go back to feeling guilty about pain.  “See, I can’t even get my life under control enough to not have pain.  If I could just do everything right, I’m sure I’d feel well again.”  This is, of course, crazy.  But, we all have our issues and this is mine.  Frankly, my control issues served me well working as a physician.  After all, don’t you want your doctor to have all the balls in the air?  But, the need for extreme control and perfectionism doesn’t work well in real life.

I’m OK with doing this new diet trial, though, because I’m starting (finally!) to get the hang of the fact that I’m really not in control of everything.  I’ve worked through all the headache stuff and I’m convinced that my headaches are not my fault.  God is in control of my life, not me.  I am getting used to being content in that.  If the gluten-free diet works, great!  I’d love to have fewer (or NO!) headaches.  If it doesn’t work, God is still God, He still loves me, He still has a great plan for me, and He still is worthy to be loved and served, and I can still tell everyone with complete confidence that He is absolutely my reason for living.


Gluten-Free Breakfast

Blissfully Domestic 1 TMTT

Since I’m on this two month gluten-free diet trial for my headaches, I’ve had to learn some new ways of eating.  I thought today that I’d share my most common breakfast food in the last few weeks.  It’s quick, easy, and has lots of variations (and, of course, is gluten-free).

Easy Gluten-Free Breakfast

Instant grits – I used to eat these growing up with just some butter and salt.  They’re pretty yummy, but don’t really stick with you through the morning since they’re just carbs.

Grits made with broth – For some more interesting flavor, I make the instant grits with canned chicken or beef broth instead of water along with a little butter.  Again, they taste good, but don’t make a complete meal.

Grits and eggs – When I was a kid, my mom would make grits and scrambled eggs then mix them together before serving.  I like to make a packet of instant grits (usually with broth – I’ve become spoiled) then mix in one scrambled egg.  They’re tasty and add some protein to get your morning going.

Cheesy grits – My mom puts cheddar cheese in grits, but I’ve never been a big fan of that.  Instead, I make my grits with chicken broth and grate in some fresh parmesan and then put it back in the microwave for about 30 more seconds.

Cheesy/Veggie grits – For this variation, I add leftover broccoli (although I’m sure you can use any other veggie you can find) to cheesy grits or grits and eggs.

Everything in the fridge grits – I make the grits with broth, then add cut up meat (it’s ham this week), cheese (again, I prefer Parmesan) and whatever veggie is leftover.  You can get really creative with this.  Anything goes as long as it doesn’t have gluten!

Additional Note:  I like to make my grits in the microwave, and usually cook them a little longer than the package says.  When I use broth, I’m often using leftover broth from the fridge, so I have to cook the grits even longer.  I add the cheese/eggs/meat/whatever after the grits are cooked, and then warm again for thirty seconds or so in the microwave.

Enjoy your breakfast!  For other great ideas, check out Tempt My Tummy Tuesday and I Am Blissfully Domestic.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Book Review:Christianity in Crisis

Chistianity in Crisis image

Christianity In Crisis: 21st Century by Hank Hanegraaff is a well-timed expose of the Prosperity “gospel” (AKA Word of Faith) and it’s leaders.  In these early years of the 21st century, a number of prosperity preachers have developed an increasing sphere of influence.  They tell people, in person and on television, that Christians should not be poor, that perfect health is our birthright, and that God is bound by the laws of the universe to give us whatever we ask.  How does this fit in with traditional Christianity?  How should we respond to this kind of preaching?

My response has generally been to just turn to the channel and not worry about it.  After all, if someone else wants to give their money to a TV preacher, so be it.  But, these “prosperity preachers” are gaining a widening audience, including some of my friends and neighbors.  How should I respond to them?  Is the prosperity message truly dangerous or just a ploy for money?

That’s where Christianity In Crisis comes in.  I don’t have to watch hours of TBN or read volumes by these Word of Faith (or prosperity) preachers now to know what they preach and believe.  (Actually, I tried to read Your Best Life Now by Joel Osteen, but couldn’t finish it.  After about the second chapter of reading that my headaches would get better if I could just get my act together, I decided that I’d be much better off not finishing it!!)  Hank Hanegraaff has done extensive research into the writing and work of the prosperity leaders.  His book goes through the theology of these practitioners, including their view of God, atonement, faith, wealth, and suffering.  He concludes with getting back to the basics of true Christian doctrine.

I found this book quite helpful.  I knew that the prosperity preachers were not quite on the right wavelength, but I didn’t realize quite how heretical many of them have become.  Frighteningly, most of these teachers deny the basic teachings of orthodox Christianity.  More frighteningly, many Christians don’t know enough to recognize the fraud!!!  Hanegraaff spends the last part of the book emphasizing the truths of historical Christianity to help readers see the falsity of the prosperity movement.

My only real argument in this book is that Hanegraff claims that we must refute evolution to show evidence for God.  He obviously does not believe that God used evolution as a mechanism for Creation, but it is distressing that he does not accept that God could have chosen this method of Creation.  However, this is about 1% of the entire book, so it is a minor criticism.

I very strongly recommend this book.  I found it very helpful to clarify my thinking on the subject.  When my friends bring up the subject of the prosperity “gospel”, I can discuss it gently but with some knowledge of my position.  If I need to, I can also do further research on this topic.  The Church needs to get back to historical, orthodox Christianity.  Christianity In Crisis: 21st Century is a step in the right direction.

This book can be purchased at Amazon, CBD, or Thomas Nelson.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Traditions – HOTM Meme


I really love Easter, but it doesn’t have as much deep tradition associated with it as Christmas.  Frankly, this is OK with me.  I think it allows more time for reflection without the craziness that so often characterizes Christmas.

I remember very clearly one Easter when I was young (maybe 7 or 8) when my mom and I both had Strep Throat and had to stay home from church.  We were completely miserable.

Growing up, we always had new clothes for Easter Sunday morning and got Easter baskets on Easter morning.  Often, the Easter bunny would hide candy eggs around our house that we would go around and find before church.  We often participated in Easter egg hunts at church or other community events during the week before Easter.

As an adult, I’m less concerned about new clothes for Easter, especially nowadays with our current financial situation.  In addition, I have a terrible time knowing what kind of clothes to wear for Easter here in the Great White North.  Tomorrow will be pleasant with temperatures in the 50s, but we have had everything from snow to very warm Easters in the years we’ve lived here.

My parents have been in close contact with the Easter bunny and make sure that my children (and my husband and I) get chocolate bunnies from Hoffman’s Chocolates every year.  The last few years, it’s been easier for the Easter bunny to bring our baskets on the day before Easter because Mr. Math Tutor is usually at all of the Easter services on Sunday.

Growing up, we always had a big lunch on Easter Sunday, often with company.  We haven’t done a big company lunch here in a few years because of my headaches.  Last year, Ga’hoole Girl and I cooked a leg of lamb with garlic – delicious!  This year, we’ve decided on simplicity.  We’re making bacon, scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, and fruit for Easter lunch.  It’s easy to make, everyone loves it, and it doesn’t take much preparation.

The best thing, though, about Easter is what it means.  As much as I love the chocolate bunnies, I love even more that this is the time of year that we celebrate even more than usual the resurrection of our Savior that means that we can have abundant life here on Earth and eternal life in Heaven with God.  Totally amazing!!

Check our Heart of the Matter Online to see what others are saying about their Easter Traditions.

Our Week In Review – April 11, 2009


Well, I’ve ordered next year’s curriculum and I’m cleaning out the schoolroom to make room for it.  Our homeschool group has it’s annual used book and curriculum sale in May, so that’s my opportunity to get rid of stuff I know I won’t use again.  The cool thing this year is that I can get rid of all the early readers since Wild Man is reading “real” books now!

Ga’hoole Girl is making progress on her research paper.  She’s got her cards color coded and is diligently weeding through her sources for information.  Her writing this week was really pretty good and had no grammar or spelling problems. 

We haven’t gotten any Sonlight work done this week.  I’ve decided that I am going to do Sonlight with Wild Man whenever we get a chance and that Ga’hoole Girl can do the reading on her own.  I’m finding that we are having trouble getting it done because I can’t get the kids and me all in the same place at the same time to read together.

I wrote down the words that Wild Man had trouble reading yesterday – theory, natural, vibration, suspension, anchor, mechanical, frequency, resonance, and device.  He’s definitely past the elementary reading level now.  We are doing to be doing more frequent spelling reviews because I find that he forgets letter combinations if he doesn’t see them in a week or so.  Mr. Math Tutor has discovered that Wild Man doesn’t understand fractions as well as we thought he did, and part of it is because he doesn’t know his multiplication tables cold, so he keeps using his table which really slows him down.  So, Mr. Math Tutor is teaching him multiplication tables using some resources that he wants to use with clients – kind of like having an in-home guinea pig.

Today was busy because our church did the Easter Egg-Venture today at the Rec Center.  Mr. Math Tutor was there all morning helping set up and is just now coming home at 2pm after helping tear down.  Wild Man was there for the Egg-Venture because he was part of the WAM (Worship and Motion) Team – a group of kids that danced while some teens and young adults sang.  I had a migraine today, but managed to get it under control enough to get me and Ga’hoole Girl to the Rec Center to watch Wild Man and see how much fun all the rest of the families were having!!  (I’ll post pictures when I get a chance!)

So, how was your week?  Hope you have a wonderful Easter celebration as we remember the resurrection of the Savior!!  Check out Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers to see how others fared this week!


Friday, April 10, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday


Jennifer isn’t doing 7 Quick Takes Friday today, but I decided to do my list anyway.

1. There is one little kink in the gluten-free thing – Communion.  I didn’t think about it today, so I got to the front of the line at church and saw a big ole loaf of unleavened wheat bread!  I took a tiny little crumb.  So, I need to plan for this next time and take a rice cracker.

2. Our town is doing a community garden using the Square Foot Gardening that we’re going to use here at home, so I’m going to their first construction meeting tomorrow to get some info and pointers tomorrow morning (I hope). 

3. I ordered curriculum this week!!  Now I just need to get the schoolroom cleared out enough to put all the new stuff away.

4. We got the stuff for Ga’hoole Girl’s biology dissection for next year.  I’m all excited.  She’s rather grossed out.

5. The “boys” are at the Rec Center getting ready for tomorrow’s Egg-Stravaganza.  It’s going to be a blast for all involved!!  Don’t worry – I’ll post pictures of Wild Man dancing on stage tomorrow.

6. It’s finally been warm enough to open the windows this week!  And no snow in the forecast.  Dare I say it??  Spring might actually have sprung?

7. I decided to go really cheap this week on kitchen and bath cleaners and bought good, old-fashioned Comet Cleanser.  My kitchen sink hasn’t been this clean in ages!  I can’t wait to clean the bathroom!  (Did I actually type that last sentence?  EEK!)

So, what do you have to share?  Leave some comment love!!

And We Have A Winner!!!

Donna is the winner of Clutter-Free Christianity!!!  Congratulations, Donna!  I’ll send you an email shortly so we can figure out how to get you your copy of the book.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Kids and Laundry – Works for Me Wednesday – April 8, 2009


First things first – go to this post to read the review of Clutter-Free Christianity.  Leave a comment and you will automatically be entered in the drawing for a free book to be held on Thursday, April 9.  So, go check it out!!

I’m not a big fan of doing laundry.  Actually, no one in this family is.  But, no one (except, maybe, Wild Man) likes to wear dirty clothes, either.  So, we’ve had to figure out how to get the laundry done.

When I was working, Mr. Math Tutor did the laundry.  The kids helped by throwing their dirty clothes over the balcony into the hallway and then taking them into the laundry room.  When we moved into this house and I became the stay-at-home parent, I just figured that the kids would help more with laundry since I need more help nowadays.  I’ve finally gotten a system that works reasonably well.

We have a three-bag laundry hamper in the hallway outside the bathroom – one for each kid and one for parents and whites combined.  I take care of washing my and Mr. Math Tutor’s clothes for the most part.  If I’m not up to it, I’ll ask Mr. Math Tutor to wash a load for me, which he does quite cheerfully.  I also wash the white clothes.  Generally, I also fold them and then each person puts their own white clothes away.  Occasionally, I have kids fold white clothes while they watch TV or listen to me read.  They really don’t like it, but they do it anyway.

Here’s the part that has made my life easier.  The kids wash their own clothes.  When we started, they each had a day to do their laundry, but life kept getting in the way.  Now, I just tell them to do laundry when the hamper is getting full.  What’s cool is that Ga’hoole Girl doesn’t even wait anymore for me to remind her.  She takes care of doing her laundry completely on her own.  They still sometimes need to be reminded to hang and fold clothes, but they do much better than I did when I was their age.  And, it works for me.

Check out what others have to say at Works for Me Wednesday!!