Thursday, August 31, 2006

Got the girls back

The younger children and I got up this morning at 5:30 and headed to Florida to get Sarah and Joan. While we were gone Jacy went to class and Steve did some work on the house.

On the way back home we stopped at Priester's Pecans. I knew David would love their divinity candy, and I thought Sarah and Joan would enjoy the pecan candy samples. The girls remembered the last time we stopped there - on the way home after Glenn and Amy's wedding back in 1999! The little ones loved Priester's, and it was a nice place to stretch our legs - and buy some delicacies.

We made one more stop to get groceries at the commissary and have David's and Sam's hair cut at the base exchange. I think tomorrow we'll be back to our normal routine.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Knitting in the dark again

I used my nifty needles tonight while we watched a really BAD MST3K movie, The Sinister Urge . Steve was happy to see me using them and said they were great for movies in his office.

I asked him, "So they don't bother you while you're watching the movie?"

"Not at all!" he replied cheerfully.

"And you think they'll work at the theater, then?"

"NO!!! You'll be kicked out!"

"But you said they didn't bother you... ."

"What are you - NUTS?! They don't bother ME! But anyone else will go crazy with those lights moving around!"

"What if we sit on the back row and..."

"Listen, the only way that would work - for you to be ANYWHERE in the theater with those things on - is if you threw a blanket over your hands."

"Steve, if I have a blanket over my hands then there is no need for 'light-up' knitting needles. What's the point?"


I don't think we've achieved what I'd hoped with these needles, but at least my family and I can watch movies together at home in the dark together with my needles doing their little light show in miniature, not because of any great feature of the needles, but because Steve and our children love me. I'll take that.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

At the beach

Yesterday Maria called me shortly before noon and told me that she, Mac, and Jochebed were on I-10 heading towards Ft. Walton Beach where they would be for a few days. She asked if we could come see them while they were there. Steve said he had work to do all week, but he thought the children and I should go for a day and see our friends.

The children agreed that was a good idea, and immediately set to work on finishing Tuesday's assignments, in addition to Monday's. They also decided to bring along work for Wednesday and Thursday to do on the trip to Florida - and Maria called back and asked if Sarah and Joan could stay in Florida with them until Thursday.

Poor Jacy had to stay home because she couldn't miss her pre-calculus class, but we sent her plenty of photos on her phone so it was almost as though she were there!

Maria also had lunch for us - delicious fresh fruit and sandwiches (I tried mortadella for the first time) and guava cakes, which were another first, and very tasty! The children swam in the Gulf, walked on the beach (they loved the fine white sand - Marley said later, "It squeaks when you walk on it!") collected shells and fragments of shells, then went swimming in the hotel pool. We ate our lunch by the pool, then went back to the beach and swam some more. Rough day!

We left at dawn this morning, returned at dusk this evening, and in between had a lovely time with friends.

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Monday, August 28, 2006


Friday was Karin's 19th birthday. Tom flew back to Virginia on Thursday so he could be with Karin on Friday to celebrate her birthday with her. That's good, because once he's really in the Marine Corps they can count on spending lots of birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries apart. I hope they'll savor the days they have together and wisely use their time apart.

I mailed a package to Karin today containing birthday gifts from Jacy and me that Tom forgot to pack when he left. She should get it by Wednesday.

Today is Mother and Daddy's 47th wedding anniversary. Chuck, Kim, Steve, and I want to take them to dinner at a really nice restaurant. We have to work around Chuck and Steve's work schedules and Mom and Dad's social schedule and tonight wouldn't work - Steve's out of town. Last Friday didn't work because Mom and Dad were at Mom's 50th high school reunion. This Friday won't work because they have a pre-wedding tailgate party to attend. Then they go to Callaway Gardens to spend a few days at a friend's chalet. The following Friday high school football starts, and Chuck and Kim will be at games when Kelli cheers. This Saturday Auburn football starts and neither Dad, nor Chuck, nor Steve will miss the games, and most area restaurants will be clobbered with out-of-town fans anyway.

Perhaps we'll celebrate with a dinner in January.

(Steve and I got married on November 2o because it was the off-week for Auburn - their break between the regular season and the Auburn-Alabama game. Football affects lives in Alabama!)

I'm thankful for my parents' example. I'm glad they're still married after 47 years. I pray God will give them many more years of married life together to enjoy.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

Books on books - the bad kind

I've been cleaning up the bookcases for a few weeks now and everything is in pretty good order. Unfortunately, we have found a few books out of place, and when I went to put them in their proper places there was no room, so they ended up on top of other books. It's very messy-looking and not good for finding what we need when we need it.

See this bookcase? It holds most of the biographies we own. See the books stored horizontally on top of the books neatly shelved vertically? This drives me crazy!

(Aside for Jeannine: Gratuitous close-ups of some biography titles below.)

Although I have a couple of small empty bookcases, I have no place to put them. When I went through all the books we use for homeschooling two weeks ago and got rid of seven boxes of books, I'd thought we would have plenty of shelf space for our remaining books. I guess I was wrong. Since we have all our history, biography, geography, and social studies books in the living room, I'd like to keep these "extra" biographies there, too. After reading Donna's homeschooling meme at Quiet Life I realized that we had the same set of books we'd rarely, if ever, used.

See the shelf of blue books?

They are The Annals of America, which I bought about eight years ago or so, and which we have used maybe once. And when I say "used" I mean someone pulled a volume from the shelf, opened it, and briefly read a page or two. And I think I was the someone who did that. None of the children has a clear memory of having even touched one of these books.

So I will get rid of these books, and put all the Childhood of Famous Americans on this shelf and see if that alleviates our space issues. I hate having some biographies away from the other biographies, but at least they will be at a level where Marley, and later Sam, will be able to see them easily. And they'll still be in the living room.


Friday, August 25, 2006

Why I love homeschooling - Reason #2

There are so many neat resources available! A few years ago my friend Lynn designed and wrote a unit study based on the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. I am not a unit study mom - I haven't a creative bone in my body, and I'm way too lazy and disorganized to successfully pull off anything really "fun." But because this came from the pen (computer) of someone I know and love, and whose taste in books I trust, I had to give it a try.

Lynn named her unit study Lion Preparatory Academy and divided it up to cover 35 weeks. We used it from August to December of 2002. David and Marley were much younger and didn't really participate, but Tom, Jacy, Sarah, and Joan enjoyed it and always looked forward to our "Narnia days." We didn't finish the course - only about 12 weeks - and I thought we'd get back to it eventually. In the meantime, I was so enthralled with what I (still) believe to be The Best Unit Study Ever that I showed it to all my homeschooling friends in VA and even loaned it to someone to "keep for a few weeks to look at."

I'll bet you can guess what happened. "A few weeks" turned into a few months, then to a couple of years, and I forgot who had it. When I started packing to move from Virginia to Alabama last December I missed my book. I called Kristi, because she was the most likely to have it. When I'd shown it to her she loved it, and expressed a wish to use it someday. She and I got together with all our children about once a month for lunch, conversation, and play, and I just knew Kristi had borrowed it to use and would be ready to return it. But she didn't have it. So I queried other, less-likely, candidates. No one had my book! Now I was desperate. It was worth every penny Lynn charged, but I'd hoped I wouldn't have to buy a second copy for myself! I told Steve my problem and he advised me to "take a deep breath, suck it up, and call Lynn and order another copy. " So I did, and decided to also order a copy for Kristi as a gift.

This year I decided that the three youngest children were at an age-range that was do-able for me to attempt Lion Prep again, but this time for the entire year. We've marked Friday as our "Narnia day," and we'll spend a year in Narnia!

(You can read more about Lion Prep here .)

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

Knitting in the dark

They arrived today. As soon as the children realized what was in the box, they rushed me into my closet and begged for a demonstration. So I cast on a Mason-Dixon babybib and they took pictures.

It looks like a miniature light saber fight. I don't know how annoying it would be for other patrons in a movie theater. I'm hoping we'll try it out tonight in Steve's office with a DVD we've been wanting to see. I'll sit on the sofa between two children and ask them how much they notice the lights. Steve usually sits in his recliner at a slight angle to the sofa, so he can tell me how it looks from the side. It will be great if he says the light is not noticeable.

Joan took one picture with flash:

The needles are plastic and fairly flexible. They are 14 inches long, so I worry that they'll flail about somewhat as I knit. For the few moments I used them I did find them enjoyable. That teeny little light is extremely bright!


Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Why I love homeschooling - Reason #1

We can be so flexible in our choice of setting for our day of schoolwork. Today is Tom's last day at home so we decided to go to the lake for a few hours. David brought his history and read it for about fifteen minutes, then he went swimming, played, ate lunch, and read history again. Joan brought her algebra and went swimming, then worked her entire lesson and ate lunch.

Tom, Jacy, and Sarah got on the Sea-Doo and went for a ride and explored several islands about a mile away from Mom and Dad's house. Marley and Sam went for rides with Tom, then swam, played, and ate lunch. I brought a couple of books to read, a sock to knit, and a unit study guide I'll be using this year with the three younger children. I ended up deciding which activities we'd do in the unit study for the next four weeks, then ate lunch and read Bob Greene's book:

(Don't ask me how it is, because I'm only to page 39. I gave copies to my brother and to my father for Father's Day, and when I saw it at the library last week I decided I wanted to read it too. Actually, I knew I wanted to read it when I gave it to Chuck and Dad, but I didn't want them to think I gave it to them because I wanted to borrow it to read later!)

I enjoyed reading and planning out on the patio while listening to the children play and swim. I love homeschooling!

After about two hours we packed up and drove home (Sarah got in 45 minutes of driving time today - only about 75 more road-hours to go until I'm ready to turn her loose alone behind the wheel!). Now I'll go over Latin with the girls and the rest of the children will complete any work they have to do. We'll help Tom pack, load the van, and enjoy our afternoon and evening together.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Back to academic work

We started our "schoolwork" yesterday. I'd rather start in September after Labor Day, but if we begin earlier I don't feel like we're getting behind if we take off a day here or a week there. Here's the small bookcase that holds the books the children are currently using. The contents change as the year progresses:

Jacy, Sarah, and I share the top shelf. Joan and David have the middle shelf. Marley and Sam's books are on the bottom shelf.

And so that Jeannine won't lie awake tonight trying to figure out the titles on those shelves, here are the close-ups:

Now that we're back to work, I really look forward to the end of the school day and time to tidy up the house so I can enjoy an hour of knitting and an hour of reading. So now I'll go work on Dad's cardigan (which is fitting him! - I measured what I've completed of the back on him and it is the right size) and then read a bit in Middlemarch.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Three things about each of my children

Jeannine tagged me and now I can play.

Name three things about each of your kids:

Glenn (28 yrs)
1. He's a great hunter and keeps his and Amy's freezer filled with game.
2. He's generous with everyone.
3. He's blessed with an excellent wife (Amy) and three lovely daughters.

Aric (27 yrs)
1. He loves chocolate - any kind.
2. He'll read just about any book I recommend.
3. He's kind to his younger siblings (and to his older brother, I hope!)

Tom (19 yrs)
1. He plays guitar well.
2. He loves board games.
3. He's looking forward to being a Marine.

Jacy (17 yrs)
1. She loves to read.
2. She likes to hold the babies at church.
3. She's very dependable.

Sarah (15 yrs)
1. She can't wait to get her driver's license.
2. She likes to spend as much time as possible with friends.
3. She's very good at figuring out any electronic machine.

Joan (14 yrs)
1. She's a good cake maker and decorator.
2. She likes to paint with acrylics.
3. She's looking forward to basketball.

David (11 yrs)
1. He reads a lot.
2. He usually does his work without needing any supervision.
3. He enjoys his friends in Virginia and in Alabama, and faithfully writes letters to those away from him.

Marley (8 yrs)
1. She's a happy person.
2. She loves nature
3. She sings all the time and is in the children's choir at church.

Sam (4 yrs)
1. He loves legos.
2. He can set up the computer and game machine, but can't read.
3. He's ambidextrous.

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Tom is back

Tom is home! He brought a sea bag full of dirty laundry, an MRE, camo face-paint, and assorted bits of trash and shared it with us all. I got the laundry. He took the face-paint and camouflaged the faces of Joan's birthday guests. Junior high girls will allow that sort of thing to be done to them by their friend's college-age brother.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Inadvertant short-row makes hole

Last week when the ladies from church came over to knit I showed them the shawl I was knitting out of Lorna's Laces "Lion & Lamb" yarn. As I spread it out (still on the circular needles) I stopped in horror - there was a hole! I looked closely at the offending gap and realized I must have put the shawl down while working a row, then picked it up again and started working back instead of finishing the row first.

Tammy looked at it and tried to console me by saying, "It's very tiny. No one will ever notice it when you're wearing it - I didn't."

Then Jennifer murmured, "But she'll always know it's there... ."

Jennifer was right. I would always know it was there and it would spoil any enjoyment I might get from wearing it. And if I gave it away - well, I couldn't give it away as a gift knowing that there was a hole in it. A hole I knew about, but didn't fix.

So I assessed the damage. No way to "repair" the hole. It was clearly the result of a mistaken "short row." And I had knit at least six more inches of shawl length beyond the mistake. And this on a shawl in which the number of stitches increases by 8 every other row. Nothing for it but to rip back to the mistake.

I ripped and wound the yarn using my thumb as a nostepinne (Barbara Gentry of Stony Mountain Fibers showed Penny and me how to do this when we took her class on spinning last November). It was almost an entire skein of yarn unknitted to get back to the mistake, I'm sad to say.

Now I'm back to knitting the shawl when I need a break from Dad's Aran, and I'm almost to where I was before I discovered the mistake. And, yes, it was worth the extra work.


Thursday, August 17, 2006

Happy Birthday, Joan!

Today is Joan's birthday. She opened her gifts from family and from Kim and Josh this morning and we sang to her.

She has a chocolate brownie cheesecake for celebrating today. Her sisters helped her pick it out. We'll have to save a piece for Tom to eat when he gets home tomorrow night.

Tomorrow her girlfriends will come over to spend the night. They'll have a German chocolate cake, and take-out from the local Chinese restaurant. On Saturday we'll take them all to the lake to swim.

When Joan was born, we lived in upstate NY. Our house had no air conditioning, and the summer was very humid. She was our first - and only - summer baby. My friend, Lynn, kept Toma, Jacy and Sarah for us, and Mom drove from Alabama with Glenn and Aric.

Steve and I got to the hospital, and Steve immediately went to the cafeteria to get breakfast and coffee while I sat on the bed reading the paper. My midwife, Regina, came in, examined me and yelled to the nurses at the desk that I was ready. I heard one of them say, "But she's sitting there reading the paper!" They bustled in, kindly took the newspaper from me, and encouraged me to push. Joan was born a few minutes later, with Steve looking on, slurping coffee from his paper cup and telling the midwife and nurse what a great job they were doing.

Afterwards, he went to get the children, and Mom soon arrived with Glenn and Aric. Jacy brought me a fistful of wildflowers she'd picked in Lynn's yard, lovingly arranged in a Mason jar. Lynn sent two ripe peaches and a couple of her homemade blueberry muffins (to this day, those two aromas in conjunction take me back to Joan's birth day) which I devoured later while reading and nursing the baby. I was in the hospital two days, and while I was there a bunch of interlibrary-loan books came in for me at the library. Steve brought them to me to enjoy - they were all on homebirth, and my midwives got a kick out of finding me in bed, 24-hours post partum, planning out the next birth!

All the children held Joan and stroked her little face. They kissed her and cooed to her. She was our "fair-of-face" Monday baby.

Now she's 14 and taller than everyone but Steve, Glenn, Aric, and Tom. We only get to kiss her at bedtime. She's our domestic diva - loves to cook, bake, sew, and knit. And plays basketball.

I'm so thankful for Joan and the part she plays in our family!


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Meme of fives

Marla tagged me and I think these things are fun, so here goes:

Five things in my freezer:
1. Klondike Bars in Whitehouse Cherry flavor.
2. Birthday Cake ice cream.
3. Black Walnut ice cream (I think my dad slipped that in there).
4. Cinnamon rolls.
5. Crumpets.

Five things in my closet:
1. My clothes.
2. Steve's clothes.
3. Luggage.
4. An antique organist's bench.
5. My favorite knitting bag.

Five things in my car:
1. Bottle of water.
2. Church directory.
3. Marley's old Sponge-Bob flip-flops that she was supposed to throw away.
4. Sunscreen.
5. Six boxes of books to donate to the library's book sale.

Five things in my purse:
1. A clean handkerchief.
2. Weight Watcher's calculator.
3. Pink measuring tape I got at Ewe Knit Kits in Virginia Beach.
4. Purple paisley microfiber cleaning cloth for my glasses.
5. TerraTints lip balm in Blaze.

Five people I tag:
1. Carmon
2. Jeannine
3. Jennie
4. Cindy
5. Tammy


Tuesday, August 15, 2006

New knitting needles

Look at what just arrived!

My new Knit Picks interchangeable needles are here! Penny let me play with hers when she visited last week, and based on her glowing endorsement, and being able to actually see and feel them in real life, I ordered a set. I also got two pairs of size 2 circulars for knitting socks, and I'm looking forward to casting on another pair of socks soon so I can try these out.


Monday, August 14, 2006

Steve likes the Knit Lite!

I just told Steve about the light-up knitting needles and he said, "Do you mean that if you had those we could watch movies in the dark?" When I answered in the affirmative, he said, "Order some!"

So I guess I can give my own review in a week or ten days.


Hey! David thinks they're "So cool!"

I think light-up knitting needles are a great idea, and I really want to try these. I always knit when I watch a movie at home, and usually take a small project - like a sock - with me when I go to the theater to watch a movie. I feel bad (somewhat) about knitting while watching a DVD with the family, because they like to have all the lights out, but because I like to knit they sacrifice their comfort so that I can enjoy knitting while the movie's on. I don't feel bad about knitting at the movies, because the previews are a total waste of time unless I can be knitting, and I get a bit fidgetty during the show unless I can knit when it's light enough.

Earlier this summer the family went to the theater to see "Pirates of the Caribbean, Part 2" and although I brought a sock along to knit, I ended up leaving it in the van. I spent the next loooooong 2 or 3 hours (it felt like a lifetime) muttering, "I should have brought my knitting." The children who had the misfortune to sit on either side of me were at first sympathetic, then exasperated, and finally took to hissing back, "You'll be fine, Mom! Stop obsessing with the knitting!" I was so bored, but I'd feared that the movie scenes would be too dark to illuminate the theater enough for me to see my sock, should I need to. Nothing's worse than believing that I might have dropped a stitch, or scooped up two stitches instead of one, and not having enough light to see the stitches. So I left the knitting in the van. (Hmmm, I hadn't really given it a lot of thought, but perhaps that is the reason my family hasn't asked me to go to any other movies with them this summer... It's okay, because I'd really rather be knitting in the comfort of our home!)

The only problem I can think of with these light-up needles is that they might not come in circulars. I guess I could knit a scarf or washcloth or baby bib with them, and as long as I didn't knit anything with a complicated pattern, it might work. I'd love to have someone else try them first and tell me if they're worth the expense - and give them a test run at the theater so I'd know if they annoyed other patrons.

I wonder if Meg would give them a try... ?


Friday, August 11, 2006

Eleven books for $1.25

Jacy, Kim and I went to the other library in the county today and found the book sale room in the basement. I knew I had no business even looking, but sneaked a peek anyway. Here's what I found:
Cache Lake Country - John J. Rowlands
Excelsior! - Paul Hyde Bonner
China Court - Rumer Godden
Lady of Quality - Georgette Heyer
Gentian Hill -Elizabeth Goudge
The Golden Journey - Agnes Sligh Turnbull
A Year in Provence - Peter Mayle
A World Lit Only by Fire - William Manchester
New Guide to the Prado Gallery
Woman's Home Companion Household Book - Henry Humphrey, editor
Seasoned Timber - Dorothy Canfield

The Rowlands book was published in 1947 and looks like a book that Tom and David will enjoy. From the introduction:

"One September dawn, working his canoe up 'a chain of lakes and streams,' he paddled into the middle of an unknown lake and stopped to rest 'like a fellow will when he sees new water for the first time.' But this was old water too, for as he sat there motionless in his canoe, Rowlands felt it all come back to him: 'as the sun cleared the hills and turned the black water into shining gold, I remembered. This was the lake of my boyhood dreams!'...
"To have found the place you always wanted to be: That is the secret of this book. Rowlands tells us how he happened to get to Cache Lake, but he wisely never tells us how he happened to leave... ."

Dorothy Canfield also wrote Understood Betsy, which I've read, but I didn't know about any other books by her, so today's find was a nice surprise.

The "Household Book" looks like an early prototype for Cheryl Mendelson's book .

I got the Prado Gallery book because I want to cut out a print and frame it (oh! the horror of desecrating a book!).

A decade ago I read the Manchester book, and although it's nowhere nearly as good as his biography of Churchill, I figured it was at least worth a re-read, especially at that price!

Steve will enjoy the Mayle book. I got him A Good Year by Peter Mayle a few months ago. and he liked it and wanted more fiction involving wine (any suggestions?).

My girls like fiction by Agnes Sligh Turnbull, and Sarah and Joan have already claimed the Turnbull novel. We also like Elizabeth Goudge's books, and were happy to add her book to the collection. Same goes for Heyer's and Godden's books. I may end up pitching the book by Bonner. After reading the dust jacket, it doesn't sound too palatable.

After we got home from the library, Jacy and Kim left for Monroeville, where they'll stay the night with Kim's friend, Callie. I asked Kim if she'd ever read To Kill a Mockingbird and when she said that she had not, I told her she had to read it before she left Alabama. She's such a good girl that she found our copy and immediately started reading it!

Sarah and Joan went to Montgomery with our church's youth group to play "broom ball." They'll spend the night with friends tonight and I'll go get them and bring them home tomorrow. David and Josh are enjoying their "late night" and Sam and Marley are about to go to bed. It's been a full day!

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Boring recital of activities with update of Aran, too

Busy, busy day today. This morning Jacy, David and I drove to Atlanta to pick up Kim and Josh at the airport. They're going to spend a week with us.

We came home, changed vehicles, then Joan, Marley, David, Josh and I drove to Montgomery to get groceries from the commissary. I wanted as many children as I could get to go with me, because I only go there once every two or three months, and I knew I'd need three grocery carts and people to push them.

The children unloaded the van and finished getting supper ready (Sarah put a beef roast in the big slow-cooker at noon, and Joan quickly sliced up potatoes to oven-roast with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder on them, and both girls washed and cut up broccoli to steam). We had supper on the table within 15 minutes of walking in the door.

Then we put away all the groceries and I checked messages and returned phone calls. Now we're tidying up the downstairs (I have no idea what upstairs looks like) so it's ready for company tomorrow. Several ladies from church (and their children) are coming over in the morning to knit, and I'd like to have everything ready tonight so I can sleep in until 8:00 a.m.

And in a minute, I'm going to sit down and knit on the Aran which is coming along very well, then read some in Middlemarch.

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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

My life meme

Tammy tagged me with this meme - Thanks, Tammy!

Childhood ambition - to be done with school, get married, have children.
Fondest memory - the birth days of each of my children.
Soundtrack - (I hope this means one I like and listen to fairly frequently, and NOT what do I consider the soundtrack of my life!) "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"
Retreat - my parents' home at the lake.
Wildest dream - to have 14 children.
Proudest moment - graduating Tom after 13 years of homeschooling him.
Biggest challenge - doing what I should be doing instead of only knitting and reading.
Alarm clock - 7:30 a.m.
Perfect day - Sunday.
First job - babysitting my little baby cousin, Elizabeth.
Indulgence - Thai or Vietnamese food.
Last purchase - yarn for a shrug to knit for Sarah.
Favorite movie - Flywheel.
Inspiration - the Bible.
Biggest regret - I'm a fairly cautious person, so I have to say my biggest regret is speaking when I shouldn't, or saying things carelessly.
Rather be - I like being wherever I am.
Looking forward to - the Famous October 2006 Roadtrip with Penny and Meg!
Irrational fear - because I am a fairly cautious person, it's hard for me to imagine an irrational fear... here's one: meeting an alligator in the lake... But then again, that's possible and rational.
Three people I'd invite to dinner - That's hard, because we like to have people over for dinner. I'll narrow it to three *groups* : any relative, any of our various church families, and any neighbor.


10 more days for Tom

Karin took this picture sometime around July 30, when Tom had almost 24 hours of liberty and was allowed to leave the base. He saw Karin and her family and went to church. Karin says he's lost 15 lbs.

Now he has only ten more days until graduation. Thank you, everyone, for praying for him and asking how he's doing. He's doing fine. He's learned a lot, and is more disciplined and mature, according to Steve, who saw him this past weekend. There's still a lot Tom will have to learn and experience over the next three years, but he's one step closer to being a Marine!

Steve will fly up to Virginia for Tom's graduation, then Tom will fly home for a few days to spend here with us before heading back to Virginia for his sophomore year of school.

We can hardly wait to have him home!


Monday, August 07, 2006

VBS updated

Our church held Vacation Bible School during the last week of July. Either VBS has changed a lot since I was a child, or our church came up with a fantastic way of doing it.

I attended VBS back in the '60's. For the seven summers that I attended VBS, the schedule was the same. We went to VBS every weekday morning for two weeks. Each day's session lasted 4 hours. We were served a snack which didn't vary: Kool-aid in plastic Tupperware-like cups and cheap creme sandwich cookies in which one side of the cookie was chocolate-flavored and the other side was vanilla-flavored. Mothers, grandmothers, maiden aunts, and teen-aged girls volunteered to teach, do crafts, and play outdoor games with us.

I was 10 the last year I went to VBS. My cousins came to stay with us for the 2 weeks of VBS, and my cousin Alex and I were in the same class at church. Up until that year I had loved VBS. The lessons and activities were fun. Seeing children in our rural community who *only* came to church for VBS and re-establishing friendships with them was great. The ladies and girls who taught us were kind and patient and made me hope I would be like them when I grew up.

My theory is that the VBS principal ran out of volunteers that year and had to ask for more workers. Alex and I had Mrs. S for our teacher. Although she was sweet and bright to the other adults there, she was a different person in her class with the children. Her attitude, her tones, her words made it very clear to us all that she did not want to be there and she resented the time spent with us. After a few days she was quite unpleasant, and Alex and I decided we weren't going to spend the rest of VBS being miserable under the rule of Mrs. S. We approached my mother and appealed to her to allow us to "drop out" of VBS. We explained why we were so unhappy, and promised to be good and sit in the house while everyone was playing and having fun at VBS if she'd just not make us go back to Mrs. S's class.

Mom didn't think dropping out was a good idea, and I shudder now to think of the position we put her in: How to explain lovingly and diplomatically that she was taking two of Mrs. S's VBS children and having them sit at home during VBS? (Because Dad was the pastor we lived next-door to the church, so Mom could pop in and check on us or we could run get her if we needed to - that was our childish way of thinking.) Mom's solution was to ask Mrs. M if Alex and I could come into her class. Mrs. M taught the class of children slightly younger than us, and I think Mom asked if we could be "junior helpers" for her. Mrs. S was fine with us leaving her class and Mrs. M was fine with us joining hers. The very next day God was back in His heaven and all was right with our world, to paraphrase Robert Browning. Mrs. M was cheerful, even joyful!, and made us useful, but loved us, too. She loved the Lord with everything she said and did and we loved being in her class.

Since growing up and having children I've never been in a church that has VBS. I did know that most churches now have VBS (if they have it at all) in the evening for 3 to 5 evenings for about 2 or 3 hours each evening. I know from reading blogs and some lists that VBS is very unpopular with lots of mothers. And I know from *my* experience that when unhappy moms are "helping" in VBS, they are like poison to their classes.

Our church announced VBS back in June and my children asked if we could go to it. I hesitantly said that we probably would. We did go - every night from Monday through Friday, from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. We all agreed it was great! David, Sam and Marley enjoyed their classes. Jacy, Sarah, and Joan enjoyed helping in classes, in the kitchen, and best of all, in the nurseries. Steve and I enjoyed every minute of each evening and came home feeling like we'd been to "Vacation Bible Spa." No, we didn't have massages and pedicures. We had fellowship with everyone in the body AND wonderful teaching from various pastors in other churches in Alabama AND coffee and dessert every night!

Here's what the VBS schedule looked like:
5:30 - 6:00 p.m. .... Supper
6:10 - 6:30 p.m. ....Opening (prayer, singing, Scripture, and a skit)
6:30 p.m. .... Children to classes
6:30 - 7:00 p.m. .... Adults (and anyone over 12 who wished to participate) have coffee and dessert.
7:00 - 7:45 p.m. ....Teaching for adults
7:45 p.m. .... Children return to their families
7:45 - 8:00 p.m. .... Closing

I think most everyone in our church was there - from the bitty babies to Miss Jane and Miss Ruth, darling widows in their eighties who participate in everything. I managed to meet some people during dessert time that I hadn't gotten to know yet, and we tried to sit with different groups at supper each night, too. It was so nice to have families with children, couples without children, college students, and widows and widowers all enjoying VBS together - and a brand-new experience for me.

It was a refreshing week for everyone in our family and we look forward to it again next summer.


Sunday, August 06, 2006

Back to our usual schedule

The past two weeks have been productive and fun.

I finished the lesson plans for the upcoming year for all six children at home. Jacy is enrolled in two extra classes outside of our home school: biology and pre-calculus. Joan is enrolled in basketball. We had a great week at Vacation Bible School.

Tom called us last weekend and Karin sent us pictures of him. Steve and David went to Virginia this week, saw lots of friends there, and took Tom and Karin to dinner Saturday evening. Penny came Thursday and stayed until this afternoon.

It's been a wonderful time!

Here's a picture of Penny and me at the lake on Saturday - Penny's knitting a baby blanket and I'm knitting a pair of socks. It was *hot* and we did get into the water with the children later!

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