Saturday, April 25, 2009


Oswald Chambers says,

There are some people who are totally unemployable in the spiritual realm. They are spiritually feeble and weak, and they refuse to do anything unless they are supernaturally inspired. The proof that our relationship is right with God is that we do our best whether we feel inspired or not.

One of the worst traps a Christian worker can fall into is to become obsessed with his own exceptional moments of inspiration. When the Spirit of God gives you a time of inspiration and insight, you tend to say, "Now that I’ve experienced this moment, I will always be like this for God." No, you will not, and God will make sure of that. Those times are entirely the gift of God. You cannot give them to yourself when you choose. If you say you will only be at your best for God, as during those exceptional times, you actually become an intolerable burden on Him. You will never do anything unless God keeps you consciously aware of His inspiration to you at all times. If you make a god out of your best moments, you will find that God will fade out of your life, never to return until you are obedient in the work He has placed closest to you, and until you have learned not to be obsessed with those exceptional moments He has given you.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It took 10 days...

But I finally scrapbooked again!  Fresh pictures always help!  This was a free night of scrapping too, as the papers were either part of a kit I won over on Scrap it Forward blog or from my mom, and the letters were from the kit and from Lisa.  Now I'm off to read the latest Donna Leon book, I'm almost finished!

Peer Pressure

Been wanting to talk about this for several days and just haven't taken the time.  

When you were a kid, were you susceptible to peer pressure?  Or did you stand up to it, with or without the help of your parents?

Now that Andrew is older, what his friends are doing is more of a topic than it had been in the past.  I also notice that this is true of other parent friends of kids of a certain age.  

Telling Andrew that he can't do something that his peers can do has never been a problem for us.  We've been doing it on a routine basis since he was about 4, and although as he ages he occasionally dislikes our decision, he gets over it rapidly.  His most constant friend right now, Konner, is allowed a handheld video device and takes it everywhere...Andrew can't have one and Konner can't bring his to our house anymore.  Both boys just said, "Okay" and I've never had to repeat the rule.  Some of his homeschool friends can attend every activity available, while we choose one or two a week.  Again, he just sort of shrugs and moves on.  His cousins have video game machines in triplicate at their homes and are allowed to play any game regardless of its rating.  We explained that we feel waiting until he is 16 to have a video game console in the house is a better idea, but if he would like to save up for one before that, we will dictate the games that are allowed (and the rating system in this house is way tougher than in the gaming industry!) and a time limit each day.  

Furthermore, we try to help him not contribute to the peer pressure his friends encounter.  We talk about not bragging about privileges he has that other friends do not, we walk him through scenarios where pushing his rules on another kid could cause them trouble and try to help him see it through their eyes.  

When you choose to run your household, and raise your children, not by society majority rules, but by what you believe is best, you MUST stand up to peer pressure and teach your children to do likewise.  This seems just standard procedure to us by now, but I know some younger parents might be struggling with it.  If you believe what you are doing is the right approach, take that confidence and communicate it to your children.  Setting limits, having rules, denying some types of activities, if you do all of this with calm assurance, you are not only raising your kids your way, you are teaching them to think for themselves and to not give in to peer pressure.  This is a valuable life skill for anyone to have.

So who were you growing up?  Scott had trouble with peer pressure, BIG trouble.  He gave in to it over and over and it is a miracle indeed that he made it out of his late teen years.  I didn't give in to it at all.  I don't really feel like I stood firm, as much as just felt like I wanted to make my own choices and my friend's opinions weren't that important to me.  I didn't like not fitting in, I cried many a night over it, but at the same time, when push came to shove, I just took my own path.  Dressed how I chose, avoided drugs and alcohol, did the activities that interested me.  Obviously Scott has grown out of his peer pressure ways, and sometimes I get pushed around a bit, but for the most part, this homeschooling, homechurching family is finding their own path.

Recently, Andrew was out playing with his friends when some other kids from our building came out to join them.  After a short time Andrew called us on the walkie talkie and wanted to come in.  Turns out the new kids were throwing rocks and sticks at windows and using every foul word they knew (they knew more than I do!)  Andrew decided he didn't want to play with them and thereafter, we set up a code system for the walkie talkie so that he could let me know that those kids were out there again.  I feel like maybe he is starting to take a stand against peer pressure.  Both of us are happy to see this forming in him.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

My Mommy

at the age of 2 or 3

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Paulo Coelho says...

"Answer me, " she said, looking around my apartment.  "Is learning just putting things on a shelf or is it discarding whatever is no longer useful and then continuing on your way feeling lighter?"
On the shelves were all the books I'd invested so much money and time in buying, reading, and annotating.  They were my personality, my education, my true teachers.
"How many books have you got?  Over a thousand, I'd say.  But most of them you'll probably never open again.  You hang on to them because you don't believe."
"I don't believe?"
"No, you don't believe, full stop.  Anyone who believes will go and read up about [insert subject here] but after that it is a question of letting [the Creator] speak through you and making discoveries as [Creator] speaks.  And as you make those discoveries, you'll manage to fill in the blank spaces that all those writers left there on purpose to provoke the reader's imagination.  And when you fill in the spaces, you'll start to believe in your own abilities."
How many people would love to read those books but don't have the money to buy them?  Meanwhile, you sit here surrounded by all this stagnant energy, purely to impress the friends who visit you.  Or is it that you don't feel you've learned anything from them and need to consult them again?"
I thought she was being rather hard on me, and that intrigued me.
"So you don't think I need this library?"
"I think you need to read, but why hang on to all these books?  Would it be asking too much if we were to leave here right now, and before going to the restaurant, distribute most of them to whomever we happened to pass in the street?"
"They wouldn't all fit in my car."
"We could hire a truck."
"But then we wouldn't get to the restaurant in time for supper.  Besides, you came here because you were feeling insecure, not in order to tell me what I should do with my books.  Without them I'd feel naked."
"Ignorant, you mean."
"Uncultivated would be the right word."
"So your culture isn't in your heart, its on your bookshelves."

Paulo, you speak my heart!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Speaking of History in Minneapolis

One of my mom's guesses (she worked in the building where JB Hudson's was located, so I thought she'd have it for sure, but Chris, my friend from Boston's correct answer was even more surprising!) was the Foshay Tower.

Andrew had a tour of the tower and got to go up to the observation deck a few weeks back for a homeschool coop outing.  I did not attend and wish I had, as the building is a fascinating and beautiful one.

The iron work inside of the Foshay Tower is famous, and it was worked at the same company as the gate at JB Hudson.

The Foshay was designed to look like the Washington Monument, and contains four bronze busts of George Washington in its interior.  

Foshay Tower was the lifelong dream and namesake of Wilbur Foshay, an art student turned businessman who bought and sold utilities companies in order to make his fortune. He planned to locate his business and residence on the twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth floors where a three bedroom, three bath suite was built, with a fireplace and library, Italian Siena marble walls and glass-paneled ceilings.

Foshay invited 25,000 guests to the dedication ceremony and provided all-expenses paid trips to many who included cabinet members, senators and congressmen. Half nude dancers entertained. Each guest received a gold pocket watch. The military gave 19-gun salutes. 
John Philip Sousa conducted music, including "Foshay Tower-Washington Memorial March" a march he wrote for the occasion. Foshay presented Sousa with a check for US$20,000.

The march was only played once during Foshay's lifetime. Six weeks after the building's opening, Foshay's corporate empire crumbled as the 
Great Depression began. Ignominiously, Foshay's check to Sousa bounced, and in retaliation, Sousa prohibited the playing of the march so long as Foshay's debt to him remained outstanding. Foshay never lived in his new home which went into receivership. In 1988, a group of Minnesota investors repaid Foshay's debt to Sousa's estate, and the march was permitted to be played again.

For your listening pleasure....

Nowadays it is a tres chic hotel, which I want to mention because some of the photos above are from their site.  For those with some K left during this recession, it would be an awesome place to stay a night, and you'd be right in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, which is a lovely place to visit.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hungry or Milk?

Lisa and I have talked on and off the last few months about teaching Ben some sign language.  Many believe that infants can learn sign language to communicate earlier than they have the necessary development to form verbal language.  We haven't settled on any specific vocabulary yet and I have been exploring options, as has Lisa.

My thought process was to include a list of four or five words that would be the things Benjamin would be most likely to want to communicate to us, his caregivers.  At first I looked up words like milk and banana, diaper and up.  But as I was again thinking about what words would be helpful yesterday, I explored the options for words that describe his state more than a demand for a specific item, such as hungry, thirsty, wet or sad.
In thinking about prayer, I think some of us choose to communicate with words like milk and up, rather than words like hungry and sad.  We come to our Provider with a list, based on our understanding of the solutions to our problems instead of trusting Him to find the best answer.  Instead, I want to come to Him with a confession of my state, be it hungry, or something more pressing, and trust that He will lead me to a solution far better than my limited mind can comprehend.

What Jewelry Stores and Alumacraft have in common

JB Hudson's in the Dayton's building in Minneapolis at 8th and Nicollet.  The space is now owned by Macy's which took over Dayton's several years ago, and reacquired this space after JB Hudson relocated to a new location further down Nicollet Mall.  

JB Hudson's was "born" in 1885 when Josiah Hudson moved to Minneapolis from Ohio at the age of 35.  He had been working in jewelry since he was an apprentice as a child during the Civil War, and had worked hard and saved hard, buying out his bosses interest in a jewelry store in Ohio in 1976.  He started in a tiny store near the river on Nicollet and throughout the course of the store's 124 year history, it has continued to "move up" from the riverfront area to its current location near Peavey Plaza.  

The Hudson family sold the company to Dayton's in late 1929, mere days before the stock market crash.  The store survived this and a 1911 fire which took all its inventory.

JB Hudson was repurchased from Dayton's in 1982 and is still held privately until this day.

The wrought iron gates, of which I showed the headpiece, were designed and handmade by Josef Bernasek, a Bohemian craftsman for Flour City Ornamental Iron Company. He also did the iron railing at the Young-Quinlan store, the ironwork in the Foshay Tower lobby and the famous doors of the Tribune Tower in Chicago.   

The Flour City Ornamental Iron Works Company was founded by Eugene Tetzlaff in 1893 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The company was originally a blacksmith shop, but later became a manufacturer of wrought and cast iron. During World War II, Flour City produced aluminum bridge pontoons and aircraft parts. In 1945, Henry J. Neils, first president of the Flour City Ornamental Iron Works Company, began production of aluminum boats. The first aluminum boat produced by Flour City subsidiary, Alumacraft, came off the production line in 1946. Hupp Corporation bought Alumacraft from Flour City in 1960.

I don't know what will become of this beautiful piece of history and that is why I wanted to get some photos.  Hard financial times mean that consumers aren't necessarily looking for a sumptious experience when out shopping and its hard to see the wisdom of reopening the space.  Still, it is a one of a kind location with its ornate plaster ceiling, velvet drapings, hand carved ballasters and travertine marble floors and walls.  I wish now I had gone in when it was still open, instead of just looking through the doors.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hint #2 for The Trivia Game

No, saying its in the Minneapolis area is not good enough.  

Mom, you REALLY should know this...think WAAAAAAAAAAAAAY back....

Here is what adorns the ceiling in front of this lovely grate...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Name that Mythological Creature

Took this cool photo recently and thought it would be great for a trivia game.

Question 1:  What is the creature featured on this bronze grate?

Question 2:  Where is this grate located?

Lisa and Scott and Erin are exempt from this trivia game, (Lisa because she knows too much, Erin because she was there, Scott because we discussed it over dinner recently!)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Gravity and Scrapping

For my very own Easter basket I bought a jump rope, which I've been craving to do lately, and a bike pump.  Don't I sound healthy!  Thing is, 45 year old women who have had 3 near 10 pound babies should NOT jump rope...still I'm stubborn and will make gravity my friend!

Lisa came over this evening and we scrapped.  Felt good to get back on that horse.

I'm going to try storing my layout images somewhere new.  Its a place where I can make them private or not, and more importantly I can sort them into albums.  Another cross reference tool, because when you scrap three to four hundred layouts a year its hard to remember what you've done and what you've just dreamed about doing!  I don't want to get involved with another scrap community, because if I had time for that I'd be back at tallyscrapper, so basically I'll be making them private.

I will post them all here though, for my family and friends viewing.

And here are tonight's efforts.

I already blogged about this little adventure.  Love Scott's style of teaching!

A more recent addition to our homeschool group, this guy is so cool and handy and doesn't seem to mind helping out with the younger kids who all look up to him.

Andrew has been saying murff nearly constantly for the last few days.  Its what a character in the 39 clues book series says (a cat of course!)  So this layout about his funny birthday cake had to record this little verbal idiosyncrasy for sure!

Our neighbors are away at their dad's this weekend, which gave me some time to scrap some of the pictures I've taken of them!  

A fav of mine for the evening.  Just a silly way to record our Easter egg decorating for the year.  This is styled after Leachy, who always makes such bright and happy layouts.

This is way cute in person, the photos and paper got muddy in this evening light.  Just a simple little layout about Ben's ongoing development.

Again, colors way off in the photo.  I love this photo of A and K walking and talking together at the park.  I hope their friendship stands the test of time, because it seems like a very postive one.

Gregor Fever

Andrew and I stumbled across a book series when preparing for our kids book club a few weeks ago, and Gregor fever has taken over our house since!  It all started with Gregor the Overlander.  I got it out of the library and Scott read it aloud to Andrew.  Yes, even though Andrew is a fabulous reader Scott has still maintained the bonding experience of reading to Andrew aloud.  

Gregor, a 11-12 year old boy and his little 2-3 year old sister fall into a grate in the laundry room of their New York City tenement building and that is when the adventure begins.  On the surface Gregor is a little boy in a family under fire, but in the Underland he is fulfilling prophecies and preventing wars between the bats, rats, cockroaches, scorpions, snakes, lizards, spiders and ants and the people who live there.  All the animals are WAY bigger than upside, and the bats are friends of the people.  The underlying message is that even if you feel lost in your world, you have strengths aplenty, you just need to "quest" for them.

They both enjoyed the book, which is quite a complement, and soon I was bringing home book three (by mistake)  No problems, Andrew had it done in just a week.  Then Scott started reading the second book to Andrew, and after two nights Andrew couldn't keep the slower pace and he went on to finish the book himself after three days.  Thursday night I ran to the library just before it closed at night and grabbed the fourth book.  Andrew read it all before he went to sleep last night, mixed in with a bike ride, homeschooling, a movie, dinner from Jason's pizza store, and helping with Benjamin.  

We are so proud of our little reader!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Online Learning Links

A LONG time ago a friend asked me for a list of websites related to learning that we allow Andrew to play on.

I woke up at 4:30am feeling fully rested, so I squeezed that in during class planning for today.

Thought there might be someone else out there in the world that I know that might appreciate these, so I'm adding them here.

Scott and I believe that the internet and computers are an important tool for the future and we happily include alot of internet time in our daily lessons.
I mainly use this on Fridays, which I try to make a little more fun and free, and he likes the online setting over paper drills.

Another site where the math games come in handy.
we use this one for printing and practicing multiplication and division drills right now as we are finishing up with these two.

The jeapordy games on this site are probably Andrew's favorite game online.  Especially because I play carelessly and he therefore often beats me!

Okay, enough about Math!

We used this one this week for our art class...he played it twice on his own time since then.  We also cut out and colored our own color wheel as an activity for art class last week.

This is a fun one for mixing words and art!  I have him type in our vocabulary list for the week, or a story he wrote, and then we let it make it into a colorful piece of art

Another beautiful one for a calming art class, I let him explore around with his mouse for awhile, then ask him questions like, which is your favorite image, write down four animals you saw when exploring, where do you think these pictures were taken...stuff like that

We've used some of the astronomy and geography quizzes on here

Another free quia game that works on irregular verbs, he LOVES this!

We've only done a couple of these, but we will be adding them all in over the summer as we work exclusively on improving his handwriting and spelling.

Okay, this is the mother lode!  Andrew absolutely loves this game and shows it to all his friends when they come over.  I bet I've assigned it once for homeschool and he's played 20 times!  Its WAY above his level in terms of some of the questions, but he learns as he goes and loves the stretch of it.  What really draws him in are the graphics I think.  (I love playing it with him too, so lovely!)  They have other games, but he hasn't really been drawn in by them as much.

keyboard and drum related online fun

here are some others that I approve of for his free time, but we don't use them in school:

Andrew has outgrown this one, but he LOVED it when he was 5:

And of course  I like this because some of the games are skills based, and I like seeing the choices he makes about spending his money, taking care of his pets and such.  He also does some chatting on here, which I watch carefully, but it gets him typing!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

More Chompers...Less Camera!

Two Uppers, on their way!

At our door

Last night we found out that the lovely next door neighbor boy that we have so been enjoying these last few weeks has been diagnosed with ADHD and will begin medication today.  Of course we are not criticizing the mom's choice...we realize the utter luxury of our opinion, in that we have formed a lifestyle, at great cost, which affords us the right to handle our boy in a different manner.  The child looked worried, but said in the end it will just be like taking his allergy medicine, right?  Every encounter with this approach renews my efforts to continue to find ways to help Andrew learn to focus naturally.  Because you see Andrew exhibits a far higher concentration of ADHD behaviors than this fact both Scott and I were SHOCKED to hear that he had received such a diagnosis.  Last night I had two nightmares about lost boys...the first about this child, where I was rushing, as one always does in nightmares, to try to save him from some great harm.  Andrew came into my room in the middle of that nightmare and slept with me for an hour because he too was having bad dreams.  Then, later just before dawn I dreamed Andrew was locked inside a school and they would not give him back.  They tricked me into leaving, then wouldn't answer the intercom when I tried to get back in to him.  Rough night...

Friday, April 3, 2009

Our New Kids

We certainly still are head over heels in love with our three existing children and our surrogate baby Ben, but we have taken on a couple more halflings in the last few weeks.  Right next door to us, Lisa and her kids moved in last September, and of course thanks to the evil winter, we really didn't see them much.  Then a few weeks ago the kids met up outdoors and we've totally adopted them ever since.

Kgirl and Kboy, are the kinda kids you DREAM of having as next door neighbors.  They are funny and polite and responsible and they both LOVE Andrew and hanging out with us.  We play games, make cookies, go for walks and fight over the computers.  They help with the dishes and cleaning Andrew's room.  Their dad lives a few miles away, so when its his weekend we miss them like crazy.

We've noticed an improvement in Andrew's attitude toward school, and we just goll darn enjoy them.

Today we took a little after school walk at Centennial Lakes and tried out the new extended parkway.  FUN!

God's Way vs Our Way

Sometimes when we are teaching Andrew something new in math, he tries to wrestle the control of the conversation away, and in an annoyed tone, tells us he already knows how to do the problem.  Sometimes he is able to stumble through, but usually its a long painful process.  Other times, of course he has no clue and so he sits in stony silence, an impasse reached, as he refuses to be taught and yet cannot solve his own problem.

Yesterday, Lisa and I were talking about her cousin.  She has a rare form of leukemia and will be receiving treatment gratis at the Mayo Clinic because they want to study this cancer.  The doctors chose her course of action, which requires her to spend 10 months in hospital, receiving a very intense cocktail of chemotherapy.  Her chances are slim, but they believe without this treatment they are nonexistent.  Most of us know about chemo and radiation.  They are our main defense against cancer at this time, and are poisonous.  The chemicals of the chemo are killers and we direct them toward the cancer, asking them to kill the out of control cancer cells to free the body from their tyranny.  With radiation, we use a carefully controlled high level of killer particles to more precisely target the spot where the cancer cells have been spotted.  Often, there are harsh side effects to these treatments.  Sometimes these treatments do eliminate the cancer.

This is not an entry on being teachable or whether or not cancer should be treated.  Those are just allegories to demonstrate God's way versus our way in all areas of our life.  

So often we think we know what we need.  Sometimes we correctly identify the problem, the thing that must be uprooted from our lives so that we can live fully, but then we take off toward dangerous and incomplete solutions.  Sometimes we know there is something we need to be taught, but we stubbornly refuse to listen, and instead remain stuck in a place of discomfort and incompletion.  Our true Teacher and Physician "shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory" (Philippians 4:19)

I Corinthians 3:18-20 Let no one deceive himself.  If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.  For it is written, "He catches the wise in their own craftiness" and again, "The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile."

I want to continue to seek God's solution to my problems.  I want to learn what He has for me to learn, the easy way, by listening to Him.  I want to seek His healing in my life, a healing that only gives new life and doesn't harm the good in me.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

When Men Lead the Homeschool

Two days ago I came home from work to see a ducking stool, miniature sized of course, with a victim waiting for sentencing.  I was informed by the nine year old student that the Puritans generally issued this punishment to "scolds", women who spoke in shrewish tones to their husbands.

I was a little concerned, but was assured History was COMING ALIVE through the pages of our chosen text.

Today I came home to this:

Seems witchcraft was on the menu today.

Anyone else noticing a trend toward punishment of women?  Should I be afraid to sleep with my door unlocked tonight? 

In Christ Alone

Every morning on the way to work I usually get blessed with a song that sings right to where I'm at that day.  This is an old favorite that I was reminded of this morning.  Lyrics below and then two songs on my player with the same title, I really like them both!

"In Christ Alone"
Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2001 Kingsway Thankyou Music

In Christ alone my hope is found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll stand.


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