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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

One More Day!

One more day of packing...until we leave for........
I can't believe that we are about to leave for a vacation that we will share with my sister, Vicki, and her family. This will be the first time for our two families to go on a summer vacation together. I know that we will have a great time! I can't believe it's almost time to GO!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Stop Motion Videos!!

We learned something new today...how to create stop motion videos! We had so much fun.

Patrick and Carter's Video

Madison's Videos

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Weekend at the Lake

We spent the weekend at the lake for Jeff's mom's annual family reunion. We had a great turnout of nearly 80 people. We played all weekend then ended with a big fish fry on the last night.

I find that as our kids get older that we spend more and more time at the reunions out on the water...in the boat. We went out Saturday morning and stayed until lunch, then went back out in the afternoon. We usually only do the tube, but Jeff bought a knee board to try with the kids. They were all able to do it!!!

Jeff and I even got out there. This is something that we used to do a lot when we were dating and newly married, but we haven't done it in a long time! Plus, I had to drive for Jeff when he went, so that was an experience. I've done it before while he went tubing, but never for any amount of time. It took me a bit to get the hang of it, but I think I did pretty well when I did...well, if you don't count the time I got up to 30 MPH while pulling Jeff on the board :)! He survived!

We still did some tubing, but won't be doing it again on this particular tube after the last time Jeff threw Madison and Carter. I guess they weren't so willing to let go because they ripped the covering. That's okay, we've had a lot of fun times on it, and they can still play on it in the pool!

Now, you would think that the hardest part of the weekend would have been the kids learning to use the knee board or me pulling Jeff, but it wasn't. It seems that the hardest part was Madison learning to take pictures while in a moving boat! She did finally figure it out...she took the ones above of both Jeff and me!

When we weren't out on the water, there were other fun things to do on the camp grounds. My kids did a little fishing, but not as much as they usually do. It's just so hot that it's hard to be outside unless they are getting wet!

As always, it was a fun weekend. It was fun to get away with Jeff and the kids, but mostly it was great to be with extended family again. Being together all in one place reminds me that we are a part of something so much bigger than just our immediate families. Yes, the family that Jeff and I share together is the fruit that we enjoy on a daily basis, but the entire family that we spent the weekend with is a part of what makes up our roots. I'm happy for the time that we had with them and look forward to another great reunion next year. Thank you Mimi for taking care of us and letting us be kids for a weekend!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Change Is Hard

I've known for a long time exactly what color I wanted to paint our kitchen/dining room. At least I thought I did until Jeff brought home all of the samples to choose from....many, many of them! Soon, I couldn't even picture in my mind what I wanted to begin with. It was so frustrating.On top of that, we also decided to buy new wood blinds. Jeff picked them out to match the cabinets, but I was worried about matching them to the window trim. We finally decided on the lighter ones and were pleased with how well it all blended.

I wish we would have been as pleased with the finished results of the new paint job. We narrowed the choice down to two colors...one that I wanted and one that he wanted. I finally gave in and decided to go with his...a little darker and redder than I wanted, but with potential. There are times when I really, really like it and other times when I think, "What have we done?" We aren't sure if we'll stick with it or head to the store for more color samples. "sigh" I don't know which is worse!

Friday, July 18, 2008

That Was Fun!

I did something last week that I don't recall ever having done before. I submitted a piece of my writing for a contest. Since the first time I picked up a notebook as a child and started to write, it has been a very personal outlet for me. I've never weighed my success or failure in my pursuit of it by the standards of others. The joy of it comes through late nights alone in the dark...watching the trapped words in my mind spill out onto the computer screen. They have already brought me complete happiness before anyone else ever sees them...even if no one ever does.
So, why did I enter I'm No Wonder Woman in Scribbit's contest? I did it for this! I didn't win the MP3 player, but was so excited to check my email today and find a few sweet notes congratulating me on winning an Honorable Mention...there were 10 articles out of 54 chosen for this honor. Thank you Damselfly at Growing a Life for taking on the difficult task of judging! It was so much fun reading all of the entries, but I can't imagine having to choose a handful of them out of 54! Here's a list of all the entries as well as the winners! Thanks again Scribbit!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


After starting homeschooling, Jeff and I decided to have our children sit through standardized testing every other year until Madison reaches highschool, when she will have to test every year for Topps. This was their year to test. Some say that I shouldn't dwell too much on the test results because so much, other than just their knowledge of the material, plays into the results. I'm not the type that can easily take that advice. I tried not to put too much emphasis on the testing as far as the kids were concerned. They knew that we were reviewing, to some degree, for it. While I told them that the results were a reflection of what they had learned so far, I also told them that there was no passing or failing it....low scores would only mean that we needed to change our curriculum or approach in that area. So, during the second week in May, my kids rejoined a classroom setting, along with others in our homeschool group, and took the Standford Achievement Test.
I tried to forget about the results, but every trip to the mailbox this summer was a reminder that they would soon be lying in there...waiting for me. One day last week they were there. I fought the urge to rip them open on the way back inside, instead sneaking them out to the pool deck to look at them alone. This was MY report card...proof that I have been teaching my children what they need to learn. No, a standardized test does not tell me any more than I already know, really, but I need to know that they are able to sit for one and do well. After all, they will eventually be required!
I was very pleased with the results...for Madison, Patrick, and Carter! They scored average and above average in everything except for Madison and Carter's Spelling. I have already changed their Spelling curriculum to Abeka for next year, so I'm hoping that will help their scores next time. Carter(3rd grade) scored 5th grade level for Reading and Math. Madison(6th grade) scored an 8th grade level for her English and 7th grade on her Math procedures. Patrick(4th grade) scored 6th grade and higher on every subject! All three of them scored very well on Social Studies and Science, which made me so happy. We spend so much time on Science projects and group time with Social Studies, and it was just very rewarding to see that it paid off.
So, another year of testing is over, and I feel like I have the confirmation I need to move forward. We will change Spelling for Madison and Carter and continue with everything else. That's one of the great things about homeschooling my children..being able to make choices for them based on their individual performances and needs. Sometimes I feel the weight of the responsibility I have in educating my children..making sure they are all getting what they need. That's when I have to remind myself to take it one year at a time...one day at a time....continuing with what works and changing those things that aren't. Just as I expect my children to trust in my leadership and follow me, I pray that I will always look to God and trust Him to lead me in making choices that will benefit them.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Too Hot!

My kids have been spending a lot more time finding things to do inside the house. It makes me happy when this involves something other than TV or the game systems. I'm not one of those parents who forbid them, but don't want my kids to forget how to play and entertain themselves in other ways too!
Unless the kids are swimming, it's gotten too hot for them to play outside for too long at a time.

Unless, of course, being outside involves homemade ice cream with their grandparents!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

So This Is How They Did It!

Suppose there were no frozen food departments in the grocery store to buy your ice cream from. On top of that, there wasn't even a hand crank homemade ice cream maker to give you that cold, refreshing treat you crave on a hot summer day! I'm certain that this was the case for many not so long ago....or was it? Maybe there WAS still a way to have ice cream!
Jeff brought home the ingredients and instructions to make homemade ice cream using Ziploc bags. I love it when he brings home fun ideas from work. The staff used this recipe to help their patients make ice cream for the 4th. I had serious doubts that we could put milk, sugar, peanut butter, and vanilla into a bag and turn it into even the worst excuse for ice cream. I was wrong!

Notice the little windsocks hanging from the table umbrella. Those are the ones we had planned to do on the 4th, but never found the time. We finally made them today.

After we finished the windsocks, the kids went out and collected smooth rocks. We painted and decorated them for "pet rocks". It was so much fun! I was just so glad that I felt better today. I knew that I was getting better when I woke up with a desire to play, which is exactly what we did!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Keep Your Body Straight...I Will Carry You Through!

Does God still speak to us today? My niece, Kinley, would say, "Yes, He does!" If so, is it audible. To Kinley, the voice was as real as the voice of her Mom or Dad talking to her.
May 15 started like any other day for my sister, Vicki, and her family. They woke up, ate breakfast, got dressed, and started the day like every other. The only difference was the scene outside their front door when they got up that morning.

Three of the children went off to school while Vicki began her morning routine with Landon, her five year old son. Within the hour, the school was closed for the day due to the flooding, sending Vicki's kids home excited and ready to play in their new "front yard pond"! As in awe as her children over the scene, Vicki was right there with them, taking pictures and playing.

Who wouldn't have done the same thing? Didn't we all play in a ditch at one time or another growing up? How much more exciting and enticing to have an entire yard to "swim" in?!? For Vicki and her family, this excitement soon turned into terror...for in the blink of an eye...Kinley was missing. One minute she was laughing and exploring...the next minute she could not be found. Panic ensued as everyone froze in place, unsure of where to look and how to find Kinley in the strange water that had become their front yard....everyone, that is, but Vicki. She ran. She ran towards the last place she had seen Kinley. She ran towards something that was unimaginable, yet inevitable. She had her eye on the culvert that was at that very moment, draining her yard to the ditch on the other side of the road...that had, without a doubt, sucked Kinley in. She ran towards it knowing in her heart that Kinley could not possible fit through it. She ran towards it knowing that she would go in to save her baby, even if it meant that she never came out.
God had other plans. Chills cover my body everytime I recall her description of how she fell on the way to that culvert..."It was as if I ran into a wall...as if someone tripped me." As she struggled to get up, she heard God whisper, "No, stay away. I've got her!" As Vicki regained her footing and stood up, she saw Kinley shoot out of the culvert and into the ditch on the other side of the road. Vicki doesn't remember getting from that point to the moment when she touched Kinley...pulled her from the water and stared into her bloodshot eyes and terror stricken face. Her baby girl was alive....God carried her through that tunnel as sure as he had told Kinley that he would.

Today, Kinley doesn't remember very much about her journey through that culvert, but during those first moments after being saved, she was able to recall in chilling details what happened.
Drawn to a spot in the water that looked as if it were a whirlpool, Kinley walked over to explore it. Immediately, it sucked her under. She came up long enough to yell "help me" before being taken under again. She remembered being pulled into the culvert and hanging onto the rim of it, as anyone would have done. Most 9 year olds, I believe, would have struggled at the entrance of that culvert, hanging on for dear life until life slipped from them. This is what Kinley was doing when she heard God speak, "Don't fight it. Just keep your body straight, and you will come out the other side." As she allowed her fingers to slip away, she also let go of all control over her body and her life. Instead of clinging to her life, she cleaved to God and His promise. Halfway through the dark tunnel, she recalled slowing down to a near stop while a bright light flooded the darkness. In her mind, the light was an indication that she was nearing the end of the tunnel. In retrospect, she understands that her face was turned away from the exit and her eyes were closed. She would not have seen a light from the outside world, even if she were in reach of it.
God was in that culvert with Kinley, his presence filling it with light and hope. As Kinley reached the exit, her feet were blocked by debris. As she lifted her feet up, her body shot out of the darkness, reborn into her mother's arms...a mother whom God held back so He could deliver her baby to her.
Kinley is alive and with her family today because God delivered her. It was not merely good fortune or luck that saved her. Does God still speak to us today?
Ask Kinley.