Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mr. Boots has a Birthday!



Mr. Boots is 17! It is hard for a mom to believe that her children are growing up so quickly. I remember the day he was born so clearly. He was born right beside the Christmas tree. That is why we leave our Christmas tree up every year until after his birthday. He is a delightful young man and I am proud to be his Mom.

Michelle made him a chocolate cheesecake for his birthday. It was really yummy! She is doing really well with her baking skills.


What a fine young man!
We LOVE you!
~Mom
(this event occurred while the computer was under the weather and is a bit of a delayed post-)

Update

Spring is not TOO far away. We went to the Home and Garden Show last week. It makes you think of gardening and made me hungry for fresh basil!

Two Updates!

1.) Keep praying for our friend Angie as she goes through her radiation treatments for tongue cancer. On Thursday (1/28/10) she had to go in and have a stomach tube inserted. She has been unable to eat anything for 3 weeks, due to the horrible burns and sores in her mouth from the radiation. She is in excruciating pain and so far they have not found the right combination of pain meds to really help. She is a young mom and her son is only a year and a half. Pray for her husband Jason as well as it is so hard to watch a loved one suffer and not be able to do anything.

2.) Of less significance.... You have only one more day to guess the time on the plant contest. We will cut it off Sunday (1/31/10) at midnight. Then we will send the winner the music CD.
~Mom

Homeschooling- Second Semester

Homeschooling is a constantly evolving process. How we school now is so different from how we started out 15 years ago. It will probably look a lot different again when we finish up in about 12 years. We now divide the school year up into 3 semesters, each 12 weeks long. Then we go from there. I also do a lot of reading out loud to the children, even the high schoolers.

Here is a brief summary about our current studies.
Our memory work has been changed a bit as we are memorizing Psalm 22 which is a longer passage (31 verses) than we usually choose. Because of that we are not memorizing a long poem. We are instead putting more time in review of the ones we have already learned. We have also been a bit slack on our learning of new hymns. We sang Christmas carols in December and reviewed hymns in January. For February we are doing "I know whom I have Believed". We will follow the www.amblesideonline.org hymn schedule for the rest of the year. I like their current selections for this year. The children are working through Exodus for their Bible reading.

We are working on memorizing and reviewing a lot of lists this semester. Some are learning and some are reviewing their states and capitols. The children have been spending 20 minutes a couple times a week playing Seterra. This is available as a free download online (www.bestfreewaredownload.com/freeware/t-free-seterra-freeware-afdmoljj.html . Seterra is a game that teaches geography. They have the cities of every major country, every major geographical landmark, flags, countries and regions. They keep track of an individual times and have a top ten list of names and scores. This is a good motivator for the children to get through their assignments to get to do. Even Elizabeth likes to play it. We are also learning the Kings of Israel and Judah, and reviewing the presidents of the US.

We are reading several books aloud. We don't read every book every day, so there is a pretty long list. We are still working through 'Freckles' by Gene Stratton Porter. We are up to Vol. 8 in the Jungle Doctor Series by Paul White. We are reading a missionary story about Headhunters. We have a devotional book based on Nature, and we are almost always reading a creation book.

We are over half way through the Mystery of History Vol. 1. I have learned a lot going through this. The children have enjoyed it too. We continue to work on our writing skills. Some times more faithfully than others. We always do a logic exercise every day. SHHH don't tell the children, they think we are playing a game. We often will do the cards for 20 Questions, TriBond, or other games like that. We do Lateral thinking Puzzle books, 2 Minute Mysteries and Old Quiz books.

I am hoping we can get the garage cleaned up real soon and a ping pong table installed. I need somewhere for the boys to run off some energy inside when it is too cold and yucky to go out. With five boys and their energy and liveliness I need a place for them to run so the house doesn't get ruined.

The children have their individual schoolwork as well. We keep busy!
~Mom


Dallas Loves Snow

Dallas the Dog is totally an outside dog. He is NEVER allowed in the house unless we are taking pictures or it is cold and rainy outside and it's dinner time. We let him come in to warm up and grab a bite to eat. He really seems to thrive outside. He is always running around and barking at other animals or climbing to the top of the wood pile and letting us know he is 'King of the World'. He does like the inside and when it is time to send him back outside we frequently see a black streak heading through the house, down the stairs to the basement. There he sprawls down in front of the wood stove and pretends he is invisible. He comes back upstairs most unwillingly. He is very fast!


One of his favorite outdoor toys is this bike tire that is not on a bike. Not sure how it ended up in the yard, but it is there now and Dallas has co-opted it. He runs around the back yard fighting this round black 'snake' or whatever he thinks it is. He pounces on it and wrestles it.

He finally gets it down and pinned to the snow.


It pushes back up when he lets it go.

He gives up and finds his bone and has a snack and a break before he takes on the tire once more.
It is interesting to me that the cold and snow don't seem to phase Dallas in the least. he does have a nice warm doghouse that is stuffed full of hay and blankets. He keeps warm.
~Mom

Friday, January 29, 2010

Wood Working

If you thought this post was going to be about fancy cabinet making or show a beautiful workshop you must be sadly disappointed. This post is about the work involved in keeping a house warm in the winter if you burn with woodstoves. (We have two.)

The wood pile that we worked so hard to split and stack must now be taken to the stove to burn. That is a challenge when the woodstove is in the family room, up over the garage, and you DON'T want to haul wood through the house. It makes too much mess. We have a balcony outside the back of the family room and that is where we stack it in preparation to coming in the house. The project is getting it up there.

One person climbs up the woodpile and hands it up to the person stacking on the balcony. Here JoAn is handing it up to Thomas. You want to have a good supply so that you are not looking for wood at 10 O'Clock at night when you want to get a fire ready to go for the night. (Not that that has ever happened in this house.) You want it as close to the door as possible so you don't have to stand in the snow for too long in your bare feet when you want the wood. (Not that we've ever done that either. :-) ) We would never sacrifice the beauty of our balcony by knocking out some spindles in the railing just to make getting the firewood up easier. That would be tacky and make us look lazy. Plus, it wouldn't be safe for the children in the summer.
-this picture is blurry because the camera was distracted by the falling snow.

Once the wood is hauled up and stacked then the pile is covered by a lovely brown tarp again to keep the snow off it for the next round of restacking and hauling. This is not the children's favorite chore, but we all like to be warm so we do it.

We also hope that whoever stacked the woodpile did a good job and that it is stable as we climb all over it. This job definitely gets harder the further we go into winter and the piles get shorter and further from the house. Then the fun begins as one person tries to toss it to the next one without it dropping to the ground or hitting something and breaking it. Winter is so much fun.
~Mom

Monday, January 25, 2010

Update

Why no new blog posts for awhile? I have a bunch planned and would have been doing some except our computer had a fever. I had to take it to the computer hospital for some work on the motherboard and a new fan was installed. Now it is back and happy - I hope. I can get my things done again. I don't really like to write on the laptop. Plus, if we have only one computer working the competition is pretty fierce to get on to use it.



Some prayer updates ....

Lily: She is able to partially weight bear on her injured leg/ankle. She is having to be convinced that walking on it is a good idea. She finds the wheel chair to be a lot handier. Please pray that the walking will go easier and that she will want to work at it.

Angie: She was forced to stop the chemo because it was making her deaf. The doctor said it really wasn't necessary anyways. The radiation is blistering all the surfaces in her mouth and causing a lot of swelling in her lips. It is very painful and a real challenge to eat. Please pray for her and her family. She has been blessed with help at home.

I will start posting more regularly now that my friendly computer is feeling better. Come back soon!

There are still 6 days to enter our plant contest. The closest guess is within 12 months. You may enter a second guess, based on this refinement.
~Mom

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Contest Prize

Here is another picture of the plant you are supposed to guess the age of (in months) and not the length.
This CD is the prize. It is 24 hymns sung acapella by a group of believers. They sing all four parts. The words of these hymns help me to get my mind off myself and onto the One who gave Himself for me.

~JoAn

Illustrations from around the Kitchen Sink and a Contest

Update: The closest guess will win. We would really like you guys to guess. The contest will be open until someone guesses correctly or until the end of January.






Plants have a difficult life around our kitchen sink as seen in the photos below.


We have mixed views about the place and purpose of house plants.









How many months do you think we have had this plant (picture below)? We were given it after a gathering we attended. If you can guess what the gathering was about we'll be impressed.























We have enjoyed these flowers though they are on their way out. We have had them for several weeks. They do well in a cooler climate. How much? $1.



God has given us a large variety of beautiful flowers and plants. He uses this part of creation to make a point about the importance of His Word.














"The grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever." Isaiah 40:8


Let us use the time He has given us to know Him through His precious Word. We were encouraged to do this multiple times in various ways at the Rise Up conference.



It is hard work, but there is blessing in it.


"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workmen that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth."
2 Timothy 2:15

~JoAn

P.S. Leave your guess as a comment. The first one who correctly answers will be the winner. A picture of the prize will be forthcoming.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Jordyn pt.2

For those who told me how much they enjoyed Jordyn, I have one more short video of her playing a duet with her sister Debbie. Debbie is getting her master's in violin performance at a university in SC. They are both great gals.

Did I mention that Jordyn was homeschooled?

video

I really appreciate these gals.

~Mom

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Tribute to a Humble Young Woman

1 Corinthians 4:7 For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?

Many people are gifted in amazing ways. Almost as many know how great they are , and want you to know it too. Today, I would like to honor a young woman who is an amazing musician and a godly young woman. The thing I appreciate most about her is her humility.

Her name is Jordyn W and she is fifteen. She is a violist and has played viola since she was just a little girl of three or four. Her parents are very consistent and helped her to practice everyday. She has the gift inside her and with excellent instruction and lots of practice she has become a fantastic musician.

She is the principal violist of one of the best youth orchestras in the US. She also has started taking voice lessons in the last year and has a voice that is so rich, mature and pleasant to listen to that you just don't want her to stop singing.
Listen to her perform at her family's recital last Sunday....

video

video

This young woman is confident and friendly, but if you met her and chatted with her, you would never know she had these abilities. She is compassionate and fun and not stuck on herself. She has grace and humility. She cares about others and doesn't ever make a big deal about herself and her accomplishments. This is rare in my experience. She loves the Lord and thanks Him for her abilities. How refreshing! I look forward to seeing what God does with her life.

~Mom

Ishmael Visits

While we were at the Rise Up conference in MI, we met a fellow from Nairobi, Kenya. This was his second trip to the US, but his first in the winter time. He helped us to see winter with new eyes. His first question as we left the hotel was, "Why are all the trees dried up?" He wanted to know if the cold killed them. He had never seen autumn and winter or deciduous trees. He was fascinated by the falling snow, but he did NOT like the cold. He slept every night in a sleeping bag in front of the big wood stove in the basement. I am not sure he ever felt warm the whole time he was at our house.

Ishmael is a fascinating man. He runs an orphan ministry in the slums of Nairobi. They no longer desire to build orphanages to house the children in as so many of the children raised in orphanages end up with psychological problems. They have many orphans in Africa due to the AIDS epidemic. What Ishmael and his co-workers have done is build a compound in the center of the slums. They have Christian widows set up households and take in 5 children. The Center provides the children and the widows with food, clothing, school fees, and medical care. The 'families' come several times during the week to spend time together, play, and be taught. They are starting their own school for the children. This year they had a kindergarten and they plan on adding first grade next. They take care of the children's bodies, souls and minds. It is a well thought out work and God seems to be blessing it. If you want to see more about what he is doing, visit the website http://www.shelterofhopekenya.com/ . We know some people who have gone over and visited the center and found it to be a very worthwhile ministry.


We had some interesting political conversations as well. Obama's grandparents are from his tribe. It was interesting to hear an African's perspective on our country.

We did send him off with some winter clothes to use while he is here. He learned to appreciate wool socks and warm gloves. He is excited to go back and tell his family what winter is like.
~Mom

Rise Up and Choose

Our family was blessed to be able to get away to Dearborn, MI for a Bible Conference between Dec. 28-31. It was a wonderful time of good teaching and Christian Fellowship. A foretaste of heaven. It was at the Hyatt Hotel.

DH was fascinated by the architecture. It is a 16 story building. The boys, I am afraid, went exploring far and wide. They checked out every floor including the maintenance department on the 15Th floor. We put a stop to that as the elevators were in constant demand to take people up and down and there weren't enough elevators for a conference where everyone needed to be someplace at the same time. I took the elevator up, but I frequently walked down the stairs. We were on the seventh floor.
The glass elevators were pretty cool. It made locating family a little easier. "Oh there they go up to the rooms".

This chandelier fascinated my hubby. It was made of Fiber optic glass and must have hung down at least 9 stories. He took all the hotel pictures.

This is just another of his pictures taken in the main lobby area from an upper floor. I think it is a neat shot.

There was a book room at the conference and we spent a lot of time and money hanging out in there. We were so pleased to see our good friends Fred and Ruth S. Fred married us 21 + years ago. They are from the Milwaukee area.

The food at the conference was very good. They had a really nice dinner on Thursday night. We sat together as a family (something we weren't always able to do because of the seating arrangements) for JoAn's 19Th birthday.

It was a nice day for JoAn, but a little quiet. We are so blessed to have her in our family. She is a godly example to all the other children as well as to her parents. She is a very special young woman.

After one of the meetings we had a little gathering of the EBC alumni and took a picture. EBC is the Bible School where my hubby and I met.
The conference was about Choosing to live a life pleasing to God. The first speaker talked about how God chose us. Then we were encouraged to return to the 'old paths'. Those paths are reading the Word, praying and learning Bible Doctrine. It was really stressed how important it is to read and study the scriptures daily. The final session was about all the different things the Bible instructs us to choose. We have the entire conference on an MP3. If you are interested in listening to some or all of it let us know and we will get you a copy.
~Mom

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Christmas Day

Christmas morning arrives and the day begins. It starts with all the preparations for Brunch.


The tables must be set.

Last minute vacuuming finished.

The kitchen swept and the food that we made the day before heated up.

The guests arrive and everyone finds a seat.
We have a family tradition that includes breakfast stockings. It started when we were young. Dad always liked a big breakfast on Christmas morning and we children were not allowed to open the gifts until after breakfast. I am afraid we didn't always wait very patiently. Mom started the tradition of breakfast stockings to keep the children content and Dad happy. The stockings used to contain juice cans, granola bars and other breakfast treats, and maybe one or two small things to open. Now they contain candy or gum, maybe an ornament, and a few small things to open. However it has gone back to not being allowed to open them until after breakfast. I think that Mom has wondered why she ever started this. What was easy for four, is a lot more challenging for twenty-five. Be careful what you do on the holidays, it may be so popular that it will become a tradition and you will have to do it for the next 40 years!

We set up both tables in the dining room for breakfast.


Kissing Cousins!
After breakfast the children play while the adults straighten up and get ready to open gifts.



My sister Miriam and her husband Todd made a BIG announcement. No they are not expecting. They are anticipating moving to the Philippines for two years for Todd to teach at a mission school. That will entail some big changes in their life and leave a big hole in ours.


Reagan loved playing mommy to her doll.

Elizabeth enjoyed her baby and wearing that new apron.

Grandpa found a good book and spent the day reading.

My brother and his family graciously spent the first part of their day with us. It was good to see them.


Mr. Boots REALLY enjoys having a lot of food around these days. It doesn't seem to last long when he starts eating.

Thomas loved his newest Bionicle that he got from his cousin.

In the evening we got the games out. Everyone sat around and played Catch Phrase. It was nice having a game that a big group could play. T-Bob and Katrina were pretty passionate about playing. How could we NOT figure out what they were trying to get us to say?!!!
The print on the wheel does seem to be pretty small for some people to read. Sometimes the glasses got passed along with the wheel.
It was a wonderful day!
~Mom