Friday, July 29, 2005

Mourning

Today we are grieving because our friends Ed and Elizabeth have lost their baby. I am just so devastated. When Bob told me last night, my mind refused to believe it. The boys were so sad too. Luke started crying when I told them this morning. I just don't understand God. Why give someone a wonderful surprise and then snatch it back, just as everyone was so excited? It seems so . . . capricious. Cruel. Like a cat toying with a mouse or something. Oswald Chambers says in today's devotional,
"In the Bible clouds are always connected with God. Clouds are
sufferings or providences, within or without our personal lives, which seem to
dispute the rule of God. It is by those very clouds that God is teaching
us to walk by faith. . . . What a revelation
it is to know that sorrow and bereavement and suffering are the clouds that come
along with God. God cannot come near without clouds, He does not come in
clear shining. It is not true to say God wants to teach us something
in our trials: through every cloud He brings, He wants us to unlearn
something. His purpose in the cloud is to simplify our belief until our
relationship to Him is exactly that of a child--God and my own soul, other
people are shadows. . . Unless we can look at
the darkest, blackest fact full in the face without damaging the character,
we do not yet know Him
."
I guess I'm not there yet, because I'm having a very hard time with this. I canceled school today because I just didn't feel like I could do that as I work through this. Thanks for your prayers, both for Elizabeth and Ed, and also for us, as we grieve the loss of a precious baby.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Medieval Feast Preparations

Well, we have set the date for our medieval feast for Aug. 6, and we even finished our invitations. This involved sealing wax from Michaels, as well as a crown stamp from a medieval activity book thing from the L's. It was complicated and took a whole morning, but the seals turned out somewhat recognizable! We delivered them to our neighbors, and they were a big hit. We still have to deliever them to our Bible study families. If everyone comes, we'll have 15 kids (and one baby), and 13 adults and teenagers. Thanks to some help from Aunt Claire , I've settled on a menu as well. It's all finger food, of course--no utensils back then! We're going to have chicken legs, which Bob will grill outside (and I'm going to marinade in Italian dressing for some flavor, although not historical acuracy), a raw veggie platter (with dip, although again not accurate!), big slices of some crusty bread I have yet to find, cheese chunks and crackers, and fruit like grapes and melons. Then for dessert we'll have gingerbread and lemon squares, although not from any accurate old recipes. I looked at some, but they were too weird, and I do want the kids to actually eat!

Yesterday was "cape-making day". We hit the jackpot at WalMart a few days ago when we found this great shiny purple fabric on the sale rack for only $2.00 a yard. This fabric SCREAMED "capes"! In fact, when the guy was cutting off our length of it, he said, "Let me guess--you all must be making capes". The boys were astonished at his perspicacity. So yesterday I cut it all into cape lengths for varied sizes of children, and the boys of course had to wear them all afternoon. That was when I realized the capes weren't going to make it to the party without unraveling if I didn't attempt to do some kind of sewing. Now I haven't used my sewing machine for years. I remembered it having all sorts of problems and something being broken when we were in Ohio, but Bob seemed to think we had fixed it. I went off to the dark recesses of our basement storage room to find it and bring it up to our dining room. We had some troubles getting the bobbin wound,but eventually we would up with enough to start. It worked fine for a little while, but then it got all tangled up inside the bobbin case, which is what I always remembered happening. I was so frustrated, but I decided to just try raising the bobbin thread again, and miraculously it started working agian. I was able to completely hem all 4 of the capes for my boys (yes, this took me several hours!), and now I am actually thinking of just hemming the bottoms of all the other capes. That seems to be where they unravel the fastest, and since I am not what you might call a "good seamstress" (my hems are not, technically, "straight"), I have no desire to sew everyone's all the way. I'm sure any other mom would actually do a much better job, so they can feel free, if they so desire! Plus, I think it would take me the rest of the time to finish it all, and I still have lots of other stuff to do! We also want to finish building our model castle out of boxes, and we need to finish making the little catapults. We're going to use them to shoot dried lima beans over a pretend cardboard castle wall for a game. So things are coming together, and the boys are all really excited about the party. Hopefully it will be a lot of fun for everyone.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Spectacular Service

There was a great devotional from the writings of Elizabeth Elliot that I read today. I just signed up here to get a daily email. I think her words hit right at why I can be so dissastisfied with being a stay-at-home mom, and certainly the last paragraph is my prayer as well.

Most of us would like to do something special in life, something to distinguish
us. We suppose that we desire it for God's sake, but more likely we are
discontent with ordinary life and crave special privileges. When Israel asked if
they should offer some spectacular sacrifice--thousands of rams, ten thousand
"rivers of oil," a firstborn child--the answer was, "He has showed you, O man,
what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to
love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God" (Mi 6:8 RSV).
There is nothing conspicuous about those requirements. It is not a "special" service for
which one would be likely to be decorated or even particularly remembered. But
it is worth more to God than any sacrifice.
Lord, deliver me from the delusion of imagining that my desire is to serve You, when my real desire is the distinction of serving in some way which others admire.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Family Reunion

So this past Saturday was the reunion for Bob's Dad's family. Frank comes from a Slovak family, and his parents were the ones who came over here, settling in a very small town in PA. Frank had 2 brothers and 3 sisters, just like Bob does, and now he is the only one surviving. We went to the reunion last year too, and a lot of the same people were there then too. I got the impression both years that everyone else socializes during the rest of the year too, whereas our branch of the family only sees the others once a year at this reunion. The reunion was at the house of Mark and Debbie, who live in this small PA town. Mark is the son of Frank's brother John, and he has 3 grown children who all live close and have grandchildren. They live in a house that used to belong to one of Bob's cousins, Peggy, who is actually old enough that he always called her "Aunt Peggy". She is the daughter of Bob's Aunt Mary, who is the only sibling of either of Bob's parents that I ever met. She was able to come to our wedding in Ohio, but she died a few years back. Before that it was somehow in the family too; I got lost on all of that. I need a flow chart or something. Literally everyone in this tiny burrough is related somehow, and the houses must not have changed ever. Peggy's son and daughter-in-law were there too, along with their 2 children. They actually live near us, in Falls Church, VA, and are even looking at buying a bigger house out this way! Peggy has a younger sister named Helen, who must be about 60. Frankly, aging has not been kind to her though, and she looks almost as old as Bob's parents. She is a walking advertisement on the effects of long-term heavy smoking and tanning, and it is not pretty. Everyone else seemed really comfortable around each other, laughing and joking and dancing the polka (no, really). But Bob's Dad doesn't totally fit in, though, and I'm not exactly sure why. Once, he came back to the table and said he missed the kielbasa, and Helen says, "Dumb Slovaks". Now, of course, she is one herself, so she must be joking, right? But he about knocks over his chair to stand up and glare, and people quickly say stuff about how she always was the one to joke around like that, etc. Awkward. You would think Bob's parents would be like the honored elder couple, the last link to the past, but they're not. I think it's because they are just so weirdly prickly about little things, and I'm sure they must have gotten mad at or offended these relatives at some point in their lives too. The wife of Franks' brother George, Aunt Augie (short for Augustina maybe?), is also still living, and she also came last year and this year. She seems to be more included and liked, even though she is not really mobile anymore, and she can't move her neck. People make an effort to go over and talk to her, and she seems like a really nice older lady. I wish I could have met more of Frank's siblings, because it would have been interesting to see how they were. Some of them were weird too--Bob tells a story of how, when he was maybe Caleb's age, he went over to Aunt Aggie's house on Easter, and she said she had hidden a lot of candy for a hunt. He got all excited, and then she told him it was all for her cats. He was really upset, but that's exactly what happened, and he didn't get any candy. That's a bit odd, wouldn't you agree? But Aunt Mary seemed perfectly nice and normal at our wedding.

So, as a summary, there was a lot of drinking and smoking. In fact, Uncle Mark has rigged up this refrigerator in this outside shed connected to a nice covered covered patio area with a beer spigot so he can have cold beer on tap. He just drilled a hole in the side of the frige, and then there are tubes inside to the keg. But people were not rowdy and drunk, so it was a nice time. It just smelled like beer and smoke, whick was hard for a newly pregnant woman! There was lots of food. I brought my spinach strawberry salad, and it was almost completely eaten. I also brought my cookie-dough brownies, which have a layer of cookie dough spread over the brownies, and then a layer of chocolate frosting. They are very good, and they all went too. So at least people think I'm not a bad cook! They also have some different traditions at these things. One is a gift pass event, sort of like a cake walk, except that everyone is sitting in a row, men on one side and women on the other. Then each side gets a present, and they pass it up and down the row until the music (polka of course) stops. Then that person takes of the first layer of wrapping paper. The game continues for about 15 more layers of wrapping paper, and finally someone gets to the box itself and gets to keep the present. There also is an auction where everyone donates some peice of junk they don't need anymore. People bid up these things to raise money for the meat, etc. at the reunions, and you also have to take home the junk you bought. I'd really rather just pay a few more dollars at the get-go! Bob restrained himself and only bought a set of 3 car air fresheners for $1.00. We brought 2 very cheap and ugly little Christmas towels that don't match, and each one got around $3.00. Believe me, they were both not worth half of that together. I also got to talk with several of the women, and they even asked about homeschooling, so we talked some about that. We also told people we were expecting again--always nice to be able to do that in person, and we certainly got better reactions than over the phone with Bob's family! Next year it will be at Aunt Peggy's house. Maybe I'll have some more of these relationships straight by then.

How Hot?

Today we bought soccer stuff for Nathan and Luke. They are going to play Upwards Soccer this year, and it sounds like a great program--non-competitive, teaches the fundamentals, and also has devotionals that the coaches do with the teams along with memory verses. Dick's Sporting Goods has a special deal where you can get socks, shin guards, cleats, and a ball for $39.99, so that's where we went today. Fortunately Dick's still had shoes in their sizes. When we got back, of course Nathan and Luke could hardly wait to put all the stuff on and go play with their new balls outside, and Caleb was right behind them. It's 96 degrees today and SO humid, so I told them to be sure and come in when they got too hot. Caleb said, "It's already too hot, but I'll come in when I'm WAY too hot." Sounds miserable to me!

Sunday, July 24, 2005

A Long Overdue Update

I see that it has been over a week since I've posted, and I apologize! Last week was a busy one for me. We worked on our medieval feast plans as well as normal schoolwork, I had a homeschooling meeting one night, and a moms' night out with our church ladies another night, and I've been falling asleep on the couch every afternoon. That didn't leave much time for blogging! At least the afternoon napping was explained away by the positive pregnancy test I took Friday morning, although it doesn't give much hope for the future 8 months or so of blogging. We're excited! I didn't know if we'd have any more, but I was hoping we would. Sometimes I would just look around the table or whatever and just feel like everyone wasn't there, even if I counted 4 boys. It's hard to explain. We just got back from a weekend with Bob's family. Yesterday was his family reunion (more on that in another post), and then today we went back to Idlewild. Fortunately it was cooler today, and it was cloudy. I don't think I could have stood another day at Idlewild where we roasted. Also, we didn't have to do the pool thing, so that was nice. Jonathan was very tired though, since he didn't have a nap yesterday, so he was pretty grouchy and uncooperative. He had to be taken off 2 of the kiddie rides--a bus called the "Doodlebug", which let me tell you is just as scary as it sounds (it goes slowly in a small circle), and a boat ride that also goes slowly around in a small circle. Embarrassing. After those 2 rides, however, he bucked up and did everything else with the other boys with no problems, even ones that went up in the air. Who knew the Doodlebug would be scarier than an airplane or flying dragon ride?! After we did the kiddie land rides, we met up with Bob's family (Rose and girls, Sherry and Brandon, and his parents), and ate lunch. Then we became very disorganized and kind of wandered around not really pleasing anyone for an hour or 2 more until it was time to go. It is hard to do things with everyone else, we have found. We were able to leave around 4:00, but we didn't get back home until 9:00. We did stop for dinner, but there was tons of traffic on I-70, and there was also night paving on the 2 lane road that comes down into VA. That was a long delay. It will be good to sleep in our beds tonight, although we did have a great room last night. We stayed at the Comfort Inn, and we were able to get a free night with some of the points we saved up by staying in Choice Hotels and being part of their Guest Privileges program. They won't give you just an ordinary room when using your points, though, so we rarely can use them in PA. But we had a great room last night! It was the "Governor's Suite", and it was so big! There was a room with a king-size bed, and then there was a huge other room with a kitchenette, table, pull-out couch, and a single roll-away bed, plus plenty of other floor space. It was nice to have all the room, and it was nice for Caleb to be able to sleep on a bed, instead of his sleeping bag. Also, it had a fridge, which most of the rooms there do not have. Wow! I wonder how much it costs per night normally! I doubt we'll be staying there again! Also, the hotel has gotten a waffle maker since we last were there, which was a big hit for breakfast. Bob actually wrote a letter to their management several years ago suggesting they get one, so we are taking full credit for this new addition! : ) I will write more about the actual reunion tomorrow, that is if I have time and don't fall asleep on the couch in the afternoon!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Concert

This was a busy day! Tonight we all went to a free concert by the National Symphony Orchestra in Rock Creek Park, in the NW part of D.C. Bob and I went last year to celebrate our anniversary, but this year we brought everyone. The paper said it started at 7:00, so we left here around 6:00. Of course, traffic was heavy on the Beltway, and I fretted the whole way there about not leaving in enough time. We got there right before 7:00, and there was still tons of parking. We hurried out, and then we saw a line at the security checkpoint, but no one was moving. We asked around, and it turned out that the gates opened at 7:00, but the concert didn't start until 7:30! So we were quite early and got our pick of seats! This should be our strategy for all future events of this nature! The NSO played a more modern selection of music than I had hoped, but we all really enjoyed it. The theme was "Summer Vacation" so they played light music from for example, Carousel, as well as the theme from Jaws. They played the "Buckaroo Holiday" from Rodeo, which was the one we werer the most familiar with. They palyed a large piece from The Wizard of Oz because they are going to accompany a movie screening of it at Wolf Trap in a few weeks. There were lots of selections I had never heard before, but it was all very good. The poor conductor was sweating away in his suit and tie, while the musicians were fairly cool in short-sleeved shirts. The boys did pretty well up until the very end, where Jonathan and Caleb got pretty antsy. Fortunately it was quite a casual crowd, so it wasn't a problem. As soon as we got back to our car, the skies opened, and we had a tremendous thunderstorm. We were so glad to have made it back before it started pouring! So it was an exciting day, and the boys are exhausted, as are we.

Biking Adventures

We borrowed a kids' bike trailer from the L's, and today we hit the W&OD bike trail not too far from our house. It was a very hot, humid day, so I was not really looking forward to going. That, and it's been . . . many years since I've ridden a bike. I was afraid I wouldn't remember how. I guess it's true though--you never forget how to ride a bike. Anyhow, I told the boys I had never worn a bike helmet because the last time I rode one, hardly anyone wore them! I think Bob and I rode bikes in a park in Fairborn before we moved on base, but I think we were married. So 1993 or 94?

It turned out that I had a good time. Bob and Nathan and Luke went one time before, but it was nice to have us all out there. We stopped after about 2 1/2 miles at this playground that is a little off the trail, and that's where we had our adventure. You have to go across this little narrow bridge to actually get to the playground, and Bob misjudged how widely he needed to turn to clear the trailer. So the trailer hit the wooden side of the bridge and stopped completely, but Bob didn't! He hit the handlebars (but didn't fall off), and the momentum totally made his front tire all crooked. Totally unusable. Fortunately he was riding his old bike that he's had since way before we got married, so without too much angst, he just left it by a trashcan in the park. He moved the trailer to the new bike that I was riding, and I volunteered to walk back. It was a long, hot walk back, but I actually enjoyed the time to myself. You can notice so much more when you're walking! There were a lot of wildflowers beside the trail that I was able to get a closer look at. Also I saw tons of blackberries. The boys would ride ahead, then double back, so they never got too terribly far ahead of me. We were all so hot when we got back to the car, though. A/C sure felt good! Maybe when we get another new bike, we can do this again. (Maybe in Autumn?!)

Scrapping

This morning we had French toast for breakfast. Ahh, the life of ease one lives when one has a live-in breakfast cook! : ) Last night I actually scrapbooked for the first time in . . . let's see. . . maybe 8 months? I think the last time I did anything was when we were back home in November and I did some with Amy. That's the problem--I am not motivated to scrapbook without being able to do it with anyone! When we were in Ohio, Amy and I would get together about once a month at her mom's house, since it was in between us AND didn't have any kids or kids' stuff strewn about to distract us! We would get there around 6:00, order pizza, and scrapbook (and visit!) until around 11:00. It was so much fun! So you can see how going down to my basement all by myself just doesn't hold the same attraction. I did some last summer so that I finished up all of our Ohio pictures, but I have never even started on any of our Virginia pictures. Hmmm . . . . what's that saying? Mainly, that I just haven't felt like bothering, nothing too deeply psychological. I also have smaller books for each boy that just have 4 pages for each year. Caleb's is caught-up, but Luke and Nathan have since had birthdays, and I have never even started Jonathan's! That was making me feel so guilty, and that is what finally motivated me to do some scrapping last night. I finished the first page of his book, which is a page dealing with his actual birthday. Next will be a 2-page spread on his family members, then a 2 page spread on his first year, and then 2 pages for when he was 1. Then I'll be caught up on his book! Maybe tonight I'll actually do some more!

Friday, July 15, 2005

Shrieking Girls

Yesterday we got Nathan's Stanford Test scores back, and he did really well, so today we all went out to lunch at Chick-Fil-A to celebrate. Today is "Cow Appreciation Day" there, and anyone who came in wearing a cow costume eats free! We saw no "cows" though. Maybe next year. For our family, that would be quite a deal! : ) Anyhow, after we finished eating, the boys went into the play area. It is pretty effectively sound-proofed, so we really could only hear loud noise whenever the door opened. Bob and I were sitting at a table right by the glass so we could see everyone just fine. There were lots of kids in there, and they were playing some kind of "Monsters" game, which involved kids chasing, jumping out, etc., at other kids (mainly girls), all of whom would shriek at the top of their lungs for several long seconds. Someone jumped at Caleb, and he was a bit scared, and didn't want to play the game, so I went in to see what was going on. Oh. My. Goodness. The decibel level of these shrieks were deafening. I could hardly stand it. Bob and I sat in there a few minutes before Bob said to tell the boys we would only stay 5 more minutes. After about 1 minute, I decided I couldn't stand it any longer, and told the boys we were leaving right now! I really don't like loud noise, and I absolutely abhor shrieky girls. As we were leaving, I told Bob (in a suitably carrying voice) that if this was how girls acted, then I was GLAD I DIDN'T HAVE ANY!!!! Why wouldn't a parent come in and tell their [girl] that it is totally not acceptable to squeal like a stuck pig in a crowded, enclosed space? In the car we talked about how thankful we were that the girls that we know do not act anything like this.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Big Breakfast

Nathan made a great breakfast for us yesterday morning! We went to Sams the day before and bought a big tub of blueberries, which made Nathan want to make blueberry pancakes (just like Grandpa!). He also was thinking about scrambled eggs, so we bought a big pack of eggs too. Yesterday morning Nathan got up, searched my "Beginner's Cookbook" for recipes, and made both scrambled eggs and blueberry pancakes! I woke up to the smell of pancakes cooking. His recipe for scrambled eggs only used maybe 3 eggs, so I had to show him where to find the serving size ("Serves 1"!). We added a whole lot more eggs! The scrambled eggs were very light and fluffy, and I think it was because I read an article on them in the paper not too long ago. Apparently the right technique is to melt your butter and cover the whole bottom of the pan. Then pour in the egg mixture and just let it sit for a while. Then kind of move aside what's already been cooked and let the uncooked stuff fill in. Keep doing that, then break everything up. Who knew there was a "right" way to scramble eggs? Mine are usually pretty flat, but these weren't at all, so I guess it worked. This was a big cooking day for Nathan because he also made banana bread in the afternoon. Woo-hoo! I am working myself out of a job!

Praise the Lord!

We found my keys this morning! They were in the glovebox of Bob's car(?)!! I'm not sure how they got there, but I believe God is able to put them there, no matter where they originally were! What a relief. And I am happy to report that after typing my post last night I was able to settle down and have a good night's sleep. When things are bothering me, I tend to sleep very lightly and fitfully, with vividly weird dreams always focusing on what I'm bothered about, but that didn't happen. It's a fuuny thing, but now I feel . . . relaxed, I guess . . . like things are right in my world again, since I am not currently missing anything. Maybe someday I'll be less obsessive--maybe when Luke takes over as the "Finder of the House"!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Losing Things

Today was a good day. A friend from Ohio who now lives in Maryland came to visit with her 3 children for the day, and we had a wonderful time together. We got our air conditioner recharged, so it will be comfortable upstairs to sleep tonight, a big change from the last few days, where it's been in the mid-80s. My parents accepted an offer and signed a contract to sell their house for their asking price. But then tonight after dinner I realized that my keys are missing. Technically I realized I was using Bob's keys yesterday, but I just assumed mine were hanging up in his place or something. I looked all over, and they are not somewhere obvious. In fact, I think they must have been lost at Idlewild, even though I can't imagine how that could have happened. I am so sick about it, and it's all I can think about. I "keep track of things". That's just what I do, the way I am wired. When things are missing, it just consumes me, and I can't let go. one reason I'm having such a hard time with this it that I just can't figure out what happened or how they even could have gotten lost. But I believe that I put my set of keys into the backpack we took there (which stayed the entire time in the stroller, which was always with us), and I haven't seen them since. Frustrating. I'm hoping that just putting all this down will help me not think about it so much so that I can actually get some sleep! Of course, they could just be somewhere odd, and that is what I am praying. I know God knows where they are, and I pray He will show me.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

An Idle Day of Sun . . . I mean Fun

Yesterday was an exhausting day. We left here around 9:00 and drove to Idlewild , an amusement park not far from Bob's family in PA. It took us 4 hours to get there because we didn't choose the fastest route. Lots of construction! We learned frm our mistakes, though, and went home a different way, so it only took a little over 3 hours. Anyhow, we arrived at Idlewild around 1:00, and our first bed omen was the line of cars waiting to get through the front gates where you pay! We finally got through (after having been asked if we were part of the "school picnic", another bad sign), and I was alarmed to see that all the near parking lots were full. In fact, even the far parking lots were full! We drove around for awhile but finally found a parking place that ended up being good because it was near a little pedestrian bridge, so we could just walk right into the park. We ate our picnic lunch at a little pavilion near the car, then went off in search of Bob's family. It was such a hot, humid day, and they (and everyone else) were at the pool part of the park. When we walked into Soak Zone, my first thought was of basically wall-to-wall people, like the Iwo Jima Memorial for the Fourth of July fireworks. We found his parents, sister-in-law Sherry, and her 2 kids Brandon and Sara thanks to the modern miracle of cell phones. We managed to get everyone changed, a feat in and of itself, since we had to wait in long lines for dressing rooms (well, actually that was probably just on the ladies' side--i'm thinking the guys don't "do" dressing rooms, esp. if there's a long line!). Then Bob took the older boys to the big pool and water slides, and I took the little boys to the baby area. As it turned out, the Mount Pleasant School District was having their end-of-the-year school picnic, and there was also a big daycare party that day, so that helped explain why the park was so crowded. There is a baby pool and also an area with spigots, a fountain, etc. for little kids to play in. The whole area was jammed with kids and parents. I had to play all sorts of mental games to block from my mind the fact that I was standing shoulder-to-shoulder with complete strangers clad only in my swim suit. I was a little afraid of the actual baby pool itself because there were so many people there that it really didn't seem safe to have the boys there where I could easily lose sight of them or they could get knocked over. So we spent a greater majority of the time by the spigots where I (and everyone else) didn't even have the water to somewhat be immersed in. There was a lot of gaping, bunching, riding up, not to mention just general flabbiness, surrounding me, and I was really ready to be done and have my personal space back! After the pool, the older boys rode the roller coaster twice, we all rode the Merry-Go-Round, we ate a quick dinner, and the boys played in an area called "Jumpin' Jungle", which has a ball pit and some climbing ropes and stuff. Then it was after 7:00, and it was time to leave. We slowly made our way back to our car, after prolonged goodbyes, and we left around 7:45. The drive back was quicker, so we made it home at 11:00, with the boys fast asleep. It's hard to say if the whole day was "worth it". If it was just up to me, we wouldn't do this sort of thing, since it's not fun for me at all, and I don't even love amusement parks without the kids, especially on hot days. But we want to build more relationships with Bob's family, and maybe this will help, that is if they don't think we are insane for driving 7 hours to play for 6 hours. Now today we must pay the terrible price of keeping the boys up late, and Jonathan is indeed a fragile crab. Good thing I decided not to do any school today! We're building a castle from cardboard instead. We've been planning on doing this since we got the issue of "Family Fun" magazine that had the plans. Hopefully Jonathan can just make it until after lunch!

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Homeschool Convention

Yesterday I spent the day at the NoVa home Education Convention, which was held pretty close to us, at the Dulles Expo Center. I had a really great day. It was nowhere near as big as HEAV, but I think that was good or I would have been very overwhelmed! I went to several workshops. I was able to hear Jessie Wise (who co-wrote "The Well-Trained Mind" with her daughter, Susan) speak two times, once about doing WTM with grades K-4, and again on grades 5-8. I also went to a workshop given by a very dynamic woman who works at the NASA Educators Resource Center at NASA Langley. They have TONS of free materials for educators, and since I'm going to be teaching during our co-op's space unit next year, I have already sent away asking for some of their materials. I bought several books at the used curriculum sale, and I also bought several new things from exhibitors, including some games. I bought 2 math games, and one that should help us learn more bird identification, something we are very weak in but also very interested! I ended up ordering Bob Jones math for Nathan next year, their 4th grade book. I don't think it will be too terribly challenging, but it is quite colorful, and I think he will enjoy doing it. Also, in listening to Jessie Wise, I became even more inspired to help Nathan this next year especially with his spelling and writing. We are really going to focus on those areas. He's doing just fine with math, so he'll just kind of be able to coast there this year and feel confident while we work on his weak areas.

I saw lots of homeschooling friends from here at the convention and even met some people from the Well Trained Mind Message Boards! I've never met anyone from there in real life before, so that was neat. Elizabeth and I were able to go out to lunch too. She and Ed just announced on Friday that they are expecting again, so we had lots to talk about! We were all pretty excited to hear their news, but it seems like the person who is most excited is their youngest, Amanda. She hopes it is a baby sister, since she's been praying for one for a long time! Elizabeth is due Feb. 10, and we all know what a great month February is. Luke and I are hoping to have a February birthday buddy!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

A Small Miracle

My Aunt Claire posted a story about my uncle miraculously finding the diamond from her wedding ring in her blog yesterday. That story reminded me of a miraculous ring story of my very own! In April 2000, we were stationed in Colorado, and we rented a cabin for the weekend near Fairplay with our friends the L's and the B's (yes, the same couples we went camping with just a few weeks ago!). It was a pretty nice cabin, big enough to hold all of us, but it did have some odd quirks (one being bedbugs, but we didn't find that out until later!). The kitchen was kind of in the middle of the house, with a breakfast bar between it and the family room. Right by the bar on the floor on the family room side was a big grate for the furnace air intake. It just went straight down a big shaft, right there by the counter! I was standing by it, taking off my rings to go into the hot tub (why, I have no idea). I have my engagement diamond and wedding ring, and then I also have a small anniversary band that I wear on the other hand that Bob got me when I was working in a lab and needed something flat to wear under my gloves. Well, the anniversary ring slipped, fell on the grate and as I reached down to get it, fell down the shaft. Ack! I panicked, got all shaky, etc. We took off the grate and looked down. We could see the ring! At the bottom of the shaft, there was a seam dividing the bottom of the shaft from the duct actually going into the furnace. There in the seam, balancing on its side, was my ring! Well, it was great to see it, but I could not figure out any way to actually get it. But fortunately there were 3 well-qualified Air Force officers there, ready to come up with a ring rescue scenario! They rooted through the house, and Bob found a fishing tackle box. He put a hook on a line, lowered the hook down the shaft, and then proceeded to snag the ring on his first try!! This makes it sound really easy, but it was truly a miracle, I think. Bob is not by any means a practiced fisherman, and if he had hit the ring at all and knocked it out of the groove, it would have either rolled down into the furnace or just been laid flat so there would have been no way to get it. I know the Lord was guiding his hook! I was so shaky afterwards. It was really amazing, and I'm still so thankful that God chose to answer my desparate prayers for help!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Happy Fourth of July!

Yes, I know it is, technically, July 5th, but we had a busy weekend! The amazing thing is that we did 2 things which were very crowd-intensive, and I enjoyed myself both times! Bob's sister Ann and her husband Wally decided not to come up until Sunday after church, so we had more time to get ready, which was nice. Right as church was ending, another sister, Rose, called to say she would also like to come for a night. We had invited her before, but she didn't have her girls this weekend and didn't want to be around other kids because she was afraid she would be too sad. But she was with some friends up in Hagerstown, which isn't too far, so she thought she'd come by, and we were all so glad she did. Everyone got here around 3:00, and we went to Great Falls Park. It was packed with people! The falls are very nice though, and we walked to 3 overlooks to see them. It was so hot and humid--we all thought we were going to melt. The boys enjoyed climbing on all the rocks. It seemed like a nice park, but I don't think we'll make a habit of going Fourth of July weekend! We'll have to go back a less-crowded time and hike around. It's a really pretty area. I think it's pretty touristy, though, so maybe it's always packed. I laughed at some of the completely inappropriate footwear women were wearing to scramble around on these rocks to get to the first set of overlooks--little strappy sandals with spiky heels, etc. Yeah, not your real outdoorsy types!

We came back home, and Bob grilled steaks and hot dogs. Then all the adults stayed up late talking--my favorite part of having company! Rose left early the next morning but the rest of us slept in a little later. i put sop on the stove, then we went swimming for a little while. The day was overcast, so the water was appreciably cooler than it has been, so we didn't stay too terribly long. We came home, ate lunch, then the boys took naps while we got ready to go in to D.C. for the national fireworks. We went with (who else?!) our friends the L's, who had been last year. Let me tell you, this is NOT something we would ever have attempted on our own! We left a little after 5:00 to drive to Rosslyn, near the Iwo Jima Memorial. We wandered through the streets, trying to find parking. Thankfully Ed used to work down there, so he knew places to try. We saw a continual stream of people walking past us, which made me worry that we would have to park about 10 miles away and still have no place to sit! But my worrying was for naught, and we found great parking fairly close in the Hyatt underground parking garage. We trundled all our assorted picnicking supplies over to in front of the Netherlands Carillion, where there is a great view of all the Washington and Lincoln Memorials, as well as the Capitol. We found room for our blankets and had a nice picnic, trying to stay relatively cool. There was a "misting room" set up, which was a tent-like thing that sprayed you with a fine mist--sort of like being a vegetable in your grocery produce section. Very refreshing. After the sun set around 7:40, it got a lot more comfortable, although still plenty humid! Some of us went to look at the Arlington Cemetary, which is right next to where we were, and also to the Iwo Jima Memorial. I stayed behind and read a book, so the evening was very nice and relaxing for me! The firworks started at about 9:20 and lasted 25 minutes or so. They must have been so huge because they looked big to us and we were on the other side of the river! A very impressive display indeed, with lots of different types that we had never seen before. I guess D.C. gets all the new firework technology first! I was glad we were so far away though. It was not too loud where we were, but I know the little boys would have been scared by the noise if we would have been right under the fireworks by the Capitol. Afterwards, we and several thousand of our fellow Washington D.C.ers made our way back through Rosslyn, completely jamming the streets. When we left the parking garage, we found out the parking was free! Wow, our opinion of Hyatt just jumped a whole bunch! Bob did some creative driving manuevers to get us back onto the freeway, and we were home by 11:00. That was late, but the boys did fine, and it really was a lot of fun. Ed brought the kids these "glow sticks"--you bend them and then they glow different colors. You can connect them to make bracelets, necklaces, crowns, etc. They boys had a lot of fun playing with those, and then they wore them when it was all done so we could see them in the crowd. It was a great idea, and it kept them occupied quite well! Today will probably be a day of early naps and early bed though. We have had some crabbiness this morning, which is to be expected! Ann and Wally left this morning, so now we can really settle back in and get back into our normal routine. We did some math review this morning, and we'll keep on reviewing this week, then get back into school next week.