Saturday, December 19, 2009

Head Games On and Off the Track

Running is such a mind game. The first mile last night was fun and not bad. (Music does a lot, I've decided!) The second mile yesterday was hard for me, tortuous. My thoughts of "Oh, just stop at the next lap" warred with my determination to keep going. I'm pretty sure my plodding, mournful jogging didn't win any athletic-looking awards then, but I finished it!

What about you? Where do head games get worked into your life? I've been learning about the concept of living by the Spirit's power lately in Bible study. It seems that my initial decision to try to to choose the Spirit's response to a situation instead of my own is the first mind game. That's so hard often. I'm still pondering that though. Thoughts?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Snow Dustings, Queen Nefertiti, and Sushi

A light dusting of snow swirls in each gust of wind outside. The heater has just clicked on inside and I smell warm metal. The house is quiet: my family is either napping or off at Operation Christmas Child or on a playdate. Sweeping the last crumbs off my lips, my chocolate chip cookie just disappeared way too quickly!

It's been a busy few weeks. My parents' house was burglarized and we have been working to find them new renters. In between phone calls to the police and cleaning my parents' home, my normal life clambers on. Homeschooling fragments of Ancient Egyptian Queen Nefertiti and hieroglyphics merge with osmosis experiments of raw eggs in vinegar and corn syrup. Ninth grade algebra mixes with fifth grade grammar and science to make a fun combination. I love homeschooling!

Daniel is awake now. His tiny seventeen month old frame nestles into mine as he munches a chocolate chip cookie too at the desk with me. Feeling more awake each bite, his conversation grows and he starts to smile and exclaim, "da dee, chooo, eh ha! BOOM!! TOOOH" and more unrecognizable, very serious chattering.

Here are some photos of what we've been enjoying eating lately:

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Retreat in a Rust-Colored Woods

Last week, we spent the weekend at a beautiful wooded camp for a youth retreat that we ran. The weather was amazing-- 50s or 60 degrees warm, blue skies, rust and amber colored leaves-- so special for November 6th-8th weather. The 45 teens and leaders connected in games indoor and out, worshiped together using drums and guitars, and enjoyed several sessions by a local Christian college professor turned pastor. It was neat to see God at work in us and our teens, and fun to connect all weekend long with our youth group.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Coyotes, Cougars, and Pumpkin Families

Last Wednesday, we finished up school and set out on a nature hike. Our anticipated yearly tradition is to scour the woods for the most colorful and striking fall leaves. My kids and I sauntered down to "our woods" and "our river," keeping a watchful eye out for the best leaves. At the river as the kids were playing, I got into a short conversation with a passing elderly couple about wild animals they had seen. They mentioned coyotes, foxes, and cougars spotted in the south of the cities. They even talked of two confirmed timberwolf sightings! The couple moved on, and I turned to relay this information to my kids. Already knowing about some black bear activity in the area the last few years, this newest information was exciting jet slightly scary!

Last night, our family enjoyed some take out Chinese food for a treat, and spent time carving out pumpkins. Each person got to focus on their own pumpkin face. Baby Daniel even got to have a pint-size pimpkin for him-- but his big brother helped make his face.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Camping, Farmer's Market, Fall

Yesterday around 4, I drove out of town for my annual girls camping trip. Every autumn for the last thirteen years or so, two close friends of mine from college days and I usually meet for a tenting overnight. This year only two of us could go. We set up our tent, hiked along a fall-foliaged river, and proudly built our own roaring fire. Food cooked over a campfire is delicious! This year, we cooked chicken, fresh green peppers from my neighbor, and purple onions wrapped in tinfoil over hot red embers. Drizzled in Italian dressing and fragrantly-crushed dry herbes de provence, it was moist and savory. It was dark by the time we grabbed our plates and settled onto the wooden picnic table to watch the fire. Marshmallows and chocolate smores were my next indulgence.

The next morning, we folded up the tent and drove to our traditional coffeeshop in town. Regulars hailed each other by name and swapped crossword puzzle clues over round tables. We bought our brew and headed out back to the flowery garden. I grinned at a small wooden sign next to the cash register that read, "Unaccompanied children will be served espresso and sent home with a new puppy."

Later on the way home, I stopped by my favorite small town farmer's market. Eight or nine stalls huddle together in a semi-circle. Balsawood honey was being sold by an older man and his wife next to a poster of various honey types and colors from around the nation, with a sign that said "Free honey recipes with purchase." A backed up pick up truck full of sweet corn was next with a simple scrawled handwritten note about freezing your fresh corn. Apparently water, salt and a bit of sugar are all that is needed.

"It's 50 cents for that basket of cherry tomatoes?" I ashed a cheerful young woman. "Yep, and if you say please I'll throw in the other basket as well!" she sang out. "Really?" I ran to get my money from the van. Walking down the circle, I saw green cardboard boxes of dusty crimson beets, taut red tomatoes, and dewey bunches of basil. I asked for advice about native prairie grasses, sampled a new variety of apple, and smiled to myself at the simple joy of being outside and seeing so many fresh vegetables and flowers.

One flower stall drew me back a few times, because of the beauty of her arrangements. "Feel free to say no," I said, after buying some flower bulbs from her, "but can I just take a picture of your site? It's so lovely." She agreed. Here it is. I walked away after some suggestions on how to winter my new bearded iris flower bulbs, hopped into my green van and drove home, biting into juicy cherry tomatoes.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Name of the Game

It was the first day of a new Writing class and the dozen or so students in the class were nervous, and getting their 3-ring binders ready for the mountain of paper that they had heard the teacher was soon to give out.

"I'm Christian," the dark haired, dark eye-browed young male said to John. John, for whom his faith is really deep and just a natural part of life, answered, "Me too," and he went on sorting his divider with barely a glance up.

After a short silent pause, the dark haired teen said, "No, I mean my name is Christian!"

"Oh," John smiled. "My name's John." The two boys talked some more, and then the class started.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

"Don't Step on the Planets When You Come Home, Hun"

Hi, we have had some great weeks of homeschooling! This week, the kids and I (8th grade and 5th grade) did some fun astronomy projects.

First, we got to represent the planets in size relative to each other. If my calculations were right, here is how the planets would look: If the sun was a minivan, then Mercury would be a raisin size. Then Venus and Earth are blueberries. Mars is the size of a Reeses Pieces candy. Jupiter is the largest-- a basketball. Saturn trails a close second as a large outdoor ball. Uranus and Neptune are both nectarines, and Pluto --although now a dwarf planet like Ceres and that other one-- finished last in our models as a tiny peppercorn.

Baby Daniel plays alongside us, or cries to be held and included at times. He is standing, crawling, and starting to walk along furniture.

Next up? Project #2 from last week. If we were to walk out the planets in steps, relative to their distance from each other.... where would they fall in my neighborhood and on my street? How many "steps" away from each other do you think they are?! :) Answers next post....

How are you? How is school, work, family, ministry, life going for you?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Fun of Puzzling Out the Map of Africa

(older puzzle pics)

We successfully finished the whole puzzle of Africa! It is so fun for us to work on learning all the countries of Africa. Today we tested ourselves on at least south and central Africa, seeing how many of them we could write in on a blank map by memory. John and Morgan did great! I had fun too.

Now we just finished making flash cards for all of Africa and the countries's maps. Fun.