December 31, 2005

Happy New Year 2006!

Today we took a drive out into the countryside to just spend some time in nature. We like to take leisurely drives and we do it pretty regularly. Both DH and I love to look outside and just watch the cars pass by, look at the houses alongside the road, and stop off for a quick hike or to sit and eat lunch. There is always something interesting to see and getting out in the fresh air is always refreshing.

Our drive today took us up to Barlett Lake (about 45 minutes from home). It was a lovely day, a bit cool and somewhat cloudy. The sun peeked in and out of the clouds and cast shadows on the nearby hillsides. We ate lunch first and then headed out. We hiked by the lake, took a side trip over to Horseshoe lake to watch all the people fish for catfish, and then just settled in at the beach and relaxed.

Our objective today was to spend some time in nature and think about our goals for 2006. It is amazing how quickly this year has zoomed by. It seems like just yesterday we were enjoying summer and then before we knew it, the holidays were upon us. I know that time marches on and that it is constant but it does seem to move faster at certain times of the year.

Well, while DH and DS played by the lake, I sat and took some photos of them. I marvelled at how tall my son is getting. He is nearly as tall as his mother and is growing like a weed. He is handsome (ok, so I am his mom) and is turning into a real 'looker' so says his grandmother. He is a joy to both is dad and me and we love the time we spend together.

Looking at him playing by the lake and throwing rocks into the water (don't all boys do this?), I started thinking about my goals for our school next term and what I would like to see us accomplish. We are on target with our curriculum and will finish most everything by mid-May. I guess one of the things that I really would like to see us do this term is to dive a bit deeper into some of our studies. We read a lot of books and while we do read them slowly and purposefully, we don't always take the time to think about them each week. I also would like for us to study art and music history more closely. Our curriculum, Ambleside Online, provides an artist and composer to study each term. We usually just do a quick study and then move on. I would really like to spend some time studying the particular movements and the artists who developed out of them. But I guess most importantly, I just would like to see my son continue to blossom and bloom, right where he is planted. God has blessed him with natural gifts and homeschooling has been a wonderful process for us both. I want to see him continue to be challenged, continue to grow and develop, and to continue to exercise his brain in ways that are new and exciting to him.

Our drive ended about an hour ago and we all settled back into our routine. I am on my computer, blogging; DH is on his checking mail; and DS is on the work machine, reading his email from cousins.

Happy New Year to you and yours...I wish you all a wonderfully and mightly successful year...doing whatever you do!

December 27, 2005

Oh, How Nice...Or Did You Say Mice?

Mice. Two of them. Blackie and Stripe.

Yes, my DS asked for mice for Christmas. He has wanted a pet of his very own and has asked for cats, kittens, puppies, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, tarantulas, snakes, and just about anything in between. So far we have held out. We have one cat, a very old one, that lives with us. We have one adopted feral cat that lives out doors. Our second adopted kitty, Caesar, passed away from an upper respiatory infection this summer. It is no wonder why DS wants his own pet. I mean, he is 12, and in the past couple of years, has witnessed the passing of all our beloved housemates, save one (Zachary, soon to be 16 years old).

DH and I discussed our options and decided that mice were a good option. Needing to be considerate of the King and keeping his domain in tact, bringing a larger animal into our home just didn't seem right. Mice are small. They are unobtrusive and if we are lucky, will not even be noticed by Z.

We spent several trips to Petco looking at all the mice and rats. I am partial to rats -- not sure why -- but I know they are keenly intelligent and very friendly. I like them, I like that they can be trained. I like that they live 5 years. But a rat needs a large cage and our goal here is to unobtrusive. Mice are better.

DS recieved a cage and supplies for Christmas and the day after, took his Petco card to the store to buy his mice. He chose one black female and one brown/white striped female. We brought them home and set them up in their new home in his bedroom. Well, wouldn't you guess it but Stripe (can you tell which one??) turned out to be quite the little escape artist. She took 3 tries and then was finally able to flatten her little body and push her way through the cage and outside of it.

Mom left DS at home manning the cage and headed back to Petco to purchase a 10-gallon tank. Once home, Stripe and Blackie, were moved into their second home. Much safer for me and much safer for them.

I have to admit...these little gals are really cute. They are very friendly and now let us pick them up (they actually come to our hands on their own). I really like to watch them - they just never stop working, digging, or burrowing. They are very clean and neat and just are so adorable. DS loves them and has gotten used to the wheel squeaking every night. The water bottle clacks - still need to figure out how to keep that from happening. Overall, we are very happy with our newest little pets.

December 22, 2005

G.K. Chesterson...

is on my reading list this month. I have wanted to read something literary and apologetic so I downloaded Chesterson's "Orthodoxy" from the Christian Ethereal Classics Library. I should have downloaded and read "Heretics" first, but didn't read the intro closely enough. Anyway, I have downloaded the first and will read it next (oh well).

Other books on my list include Chesterson's "What's Wrong with the World" as well as one or two of his Father Brown stories. I also hope to get to Lewis' "Mere Christianity" as well as a couple of Spurgeon's sermons.

What's on your reading list?

December 6, 2005

Reading...

I don't know how many times I have been asked this question since we began our homeschooling journey a little over 2 years ago. Maybe a dozen times, maybe more. It seems like it is the type of question that usually follows our brief introduction (aka...that we homeschool and what type of curriculum we use) whenever we meet someone new.

It is hard to explain exactly what we do all day long as our school curriculum really doesn't fit a 'tradition' approach or method. I have written openly many times and shared that we school using "Charlotte Mason's methods." For most people, they usually ask..."Charlotte who?" Some homeschoolers, however, are familiar with her methods and as such will often simply say "Oh!" Our homeschool is an eccletic mix of things, as is our life. Our home is warm and friendly (or so I have been told) and on most days is quite messy (not of my choosing though I will admit that housecleaning is not my area of giftedness.) I try to keep things orderly and neat so to give the 'impression' that our home is neat and tidy and always in order. The truth is that we work at home, school at home, and generally live a messy life...at home. Our office is a large room, converted from a carport into a home-based office for my dh's business. It measures roughly 400 SQ ft and we are truly blessed to have the extra space (we live in a 1000 SQ ft home). We have made the sacrifice and have given up a garage with oodles of storage space for an office. My dh loves it, I love it and our son loves it. It is nice to be able to work at home and walk from the kitchen into the office and begin our day.

Our office/school room/work room is messy to say the least. DH is a paper collector and has magazines and books, all meant to be read shortly, scattered about. It does remind me of an English country home (though not in styling) where there are piles of papers and books and magazines and other things stacked in piles and piles and piles. When we clean the office, we straighten our piles and move them about a bit. They always looks so nice and neat -- until we want to read something and then we start the scattered look all over again.

Our school day begins here in the office, with bookshelves overflowing, filing cabinets covered in magnets and other treasures, with the cd player playing soothing music, and the computers and laser printer softly humming. It is a nice way to start the day and I enjoy it. I like living in my little home, with not so neat kitchen and bathrooms, with all our books and magazines, and our way of doing things.

I know that this blog post was about reading and somehow I got off track and started to write about our homeschool/office...well, I guess that is the cool thing about blogging. You start with one thought and before you know it you are over on another path completely.

My point about reading is simply that we are a family of readers and we like our life a lot. I don't want to make it sound like that is all we do but in reality it is a big part of our day. My dh reads newspapers from around the world, I read articles on the internet for business and pleasure, and ds reads just about anything on the computer (and his school books). We like to read and we read a lot of different types of books, newspapers, articles, magazines, and other interesting things. Reading is the key to learning and I feel sorry for people who cannot read (because they never learned) and for those who choose not to read (because it is boring or not fast enough). Reading is a dying art and I am glad that in our little corner of the world, it is alive and well and that we have made it our daily habit.

November 30, 2005

Thought for the Day

"One of the commonest ailments of the present day is the premature formation of opinion.” --Frank McKinney

November 29, 2005

The Computer Blues...

We have the computer blues here at our home. It is hard to believe it but it is true. We are to the point where a couple of our computers crash daily and just can no longer chug, chug, chug through the daily email and web-surfing grind. It really is an odd thing because we run an Internet-based business and I work from home as a graphic/web designer. So I guess I should explain.

My computer is great. Tip-top shape because it has to be. They bring home the bacon, so to speak, and need to be dedicated to work only. I have a Gateway 500 Series XL with full multi-media support running WX Professional. I have had it over 3 years now and have not had one issue with it. This past summer, we purchased an IMAC G5 so that I would have two systems, one from each platform, to work from. I was really excited to get the G5 but have to say that once I got it home and started working on it, I found out that it is very noisy, often overheats, and generally makes my workload tougher (not lighter). My days are spent on the XP with occassional work on the G5. It works for me and for the most part I feel that I can be pretty efficient having the two machines side by side (well kitty-korner from each other).

My dear dh's computer, on the other hand, has a well-loved and trusted old Apple G3 that is, as we speak, hanging on by a thread. I was donated from my loving brother who had used it for a number of years of his computer-based design business. It was a dead-horse as he called it. Not good for anything and was sitting in his closet. In fact, he said it couldn't even start up. He kindly shipped it to me and I set it up, plugged it in and voila! It worked. It needed some TLC as my brother had removed most of the good stuff (drives etc) to his newer system. Nonetheless, I was grateful and set to work to get it working in the best order possible. I added a new NIC card, a bigger hard drive, a USB card and then began the enormous task of upgrading the operating system. If you are not a Mac person or are a OS X newbie, then this will just not make any sense to you. But for oldie Mac users like myself, upgrading an OS is just not something that can be easily done -- unless you happen to own a computer Software store or are a licensed Apple Technician (even then it is not possible anymore). Apple has made it impossible to upgrade old systems and they force consumers to retire their old machines in favor of the new breed. Well, I was not ready to do that and headed off to EBay to find used copies of OS 9. Thankfully, I found a brand new version of OS X with Classic bundled in to boot. Since that time (almost 3 years ago) dear dh has been sending and receiving email, browsing the internet, and creating his business documents on an old dinosaur of a machine. It hums now, sort of loudly, but not too noisily to really bother anyone. It gets overheated so we need to keep air moving around it. We have talked about getting him a new Dell PC but dh is not ready to trade in and become a "gates convert" yet. We have looked at the new Mac Mini but think that it offers a limited palatte of options. Even though it is very price-friendly, a new Dell will out perform and out last it.

So, that brings us down to my dear son's computer. DS has had the cast-off's of the family and the business since he was 6. I gave him his first computer, a Mac SE (anyone remember those?) with a 10 MB hard drive (yes, that is MB). DS drew on it and wrote stories mostly. He loved it. The next computer was handed down to him after DH upgraded from the IMac Blueberry (which dreadfully overheated and locked up daily) to the G3. DS got the older still, Mac Performa system. Non-internet capable, it was a fun machine to play games on and just do silly things with. As DS got older though he wanted to play more advanced games and that required a bigger, more robust system. At that time, I was working off a HP Win 98 system that had a very nasty habit of not turning on or off. It was a fairly solid computer system, just wouldn't always behave as it should. I have since come to loathe anything made by HP! When I upgraded to my newer Gateway PC (for business), DS got my old HP. Not a bad system for a while but then it began to fade. Memory leaks were the main source of problem and a virus did it in. We do run anti-virus but ds had downloaded a game from a website that had a very malicious bit of code in it and it just destroyed that system completely. About that same time, my MIL decided she needed a faster computer (for her church work) and bought a Gateway system. She donated her HP ME edition to ds. It was clogged with viruses and after several cleanings, reformattings, and then reloading of the software, was in somewhat usable condition. DS has modified it to the best of his ability -- and has slowed it down to a crawl with all his games and other computer software code. He is now asking for a full-fledged multi-media system so that he can run Battlefield 2 on it. I am holding out -- because I pretty think dear DH needs a computer first (did I mention that he has less than a GB of space now -- he is walking on water -- literally!)

So our computer/office/schoolroom looks like this:

One brand new, very noisy IMAC G5 (I love it - but cannot tolerate the noise or the excessive heat it generates!)
One very sturdy and excellent WIN XP system - my beloved Gateway
One very old IMac Blueberry that doesn't do much of anything anymore except get too hot and then lock up
One very old IBook G3 notebook that cannot do much of anything either. We use it when we travel to check email.
One very old Powerbook G3 that was donated to us (another Brother) that as of this writing is still sitting under the cupboard in desparate need of repair
One very weary HP ME edition that works some days and not others. Generally, dysfunctional but still part of the family.
One very hearty but quickly fading G3 -- in need of well-deserved retirement.

As I write this blog post, I laughed because our computers almost take on personification (becoming human). My brand-new IMAC is very high-maintenance (just like someone I know). The sturdy WIN XP is all business and never gives me a moment's trouble. The old systems are seem to reflect different stages of life, mostly aging, some still hanging on, some already passed on. Curious. Just made me think of life and how quickly we go from being brand-new to being close to death. Hmmm...have to think more on that thought.



Down with the Flu

This past week was meant to be enjoyed. Family had travelled from far to celebrate both the Thanksgiving Holiday along with my in-laws birthdays (MIL on 21st and FIL on the 26th). We had big plans...a 75th birthday party for Dad as well as lots of kid-friendly family time (games, movies, swimming, and just hanging out). But instead, some of us came down with a rather nasty bout of viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu). It started with my BIL and nephew who became ill shortly after arriving at my in-laws home. Everyone else seemed to dodge the bullet until yours truly fell under on Saturday.

I have not been this ill in years and do not recall really ever experiencing such a violent upset to my tender and somewhat sensistive digestive system. My dear dh and ds spent most of Saturday, all day Sunday and most of Monday caring for me. I am blessed as they ran to and fro with blankets, pillows, 7-up, and crackers, just to ease my sick tummy.

Today, I feel wonderful. My side still aches and my back hurts when I move just the right way, but the illness has passed (just as I heard it would - 2-3 days and it was gone). It was really awful but I have to say that if anything good can come from getting ill this way, I guess it would be that I got to relax and sleep to my heart's content. I also got to see the great job both hubby and son did around the house. I really appreciate all they did while I was out of commission. They saved me from returning to a sink full of dirty dishes and a house unkempt.

I wish you all well and that you and your family can escape this virus this holiday season. I have read online and heard from friends that it is fast-moving and spreading all over the country. Stock up on 7-up, crackers, chicken soup. Take care.

November 25, 2005

Paradise Valley Gift Wrap Booth

For those of you who live in Phoenix, make sure to bring all your holiday gifts to the Paradise Valley Mall GFWC Gift Wrap Booth (at the Dillards court). My woman's club has manned the GW Booth for over 26 years and all proceeds raised benefit the local community. The booth will be open beginning today (11/26) through December 24!

Thought for the day...

We are what we repeatedly do. ~Aristotle

The Cat's Meow

Well, it is late and the cat is meowing. This is our nightly ritual. He comes and gets me to tell me it is time for bed. He has a rather annoying meow - very loud and sort of a wail. He is diligent and will not stop until I pay him some attention. Usually, he will sit at my feet and just cry.

So, I need to beckon to his queue and head off to bed.

Loving Others

Loving others requires a heart of obedience to God.

Yes, Lord. Help me to love others, especially those around me I meet, or those who can be difficult to love. Teach me to love as you love us. Without limit, without prejudice, without fear, without concern of loving back, without hesitation. Teach me, O, Lord, to love with my whole heart, in obedience to you.

Family Visits



Our Family

My husband's family is in town for the Thanksgiving holiday. His sister and her family have travelled from Liberty, MO to spend the week with us. Dh's father and mother both celebrate birthday's this week and his dad is turning 75 on Saturday. We are having a massive 75th birthday party for him and are expecting 75 in attendance.

Dad singing "Because He Lives"

Ps. DH's father suffered a massive stroke 12 years ago on November 3rd. He was left partially paralyzed, almost blind, and disabled. He was 62 at the time and president of a Christian High School in San Francisco. He has lived with this disability all these years and although he wishes he could see better (some times he can see, othertimes he cannot), his spirit has never diminished. He loves the Lord Jesus and has a special ministry, a gift from the Lord, to share the love of Jesus with all he meets. He is very social and loves to chat with everyone. Not a moment goes by that he doesn't stop and talk with strangers and ask them if they know Jesus. He invites them to church, he prays for them, he loves them just as he can. He is a testimony to the faithfulness of God, the deeply rooted love of our Saviour and that perserverance is not as difficult as we like to make it. He is a blessing to our family and we cherish our days together.

November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving Blessings!

"And it is further recommended, that, together with devout Thanksgiving, may be joined a penitent confession of our sins, and humble supplication for pardon, through the merits of our Savior..."
~United States Government Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1777

Today is Thanksgiving. As we are getting ready to celebrate this most thankful day with our family and I want to take a moment to give thanks to the One who deserves our unending thanks. It is without hesitation that I say that I am thankful to God above for his great care and mercy, his never-ending forgiveness, and his daily participation in my life. I am truly blessed to have family around me who love the Lord and walk in his ways. They are a light to me and help to guide and direct me as I traverse the ways and means of my life. I have good friends, new and old, who share with me their love of God, home and family and offer wise words of support and encouragement, often at the most opportune moments when I need to hear it most. My husband and child are the focus of my life and I give thanks to God every day for this gift. I do not know what kind of life I would have had or where I would be without their constant love and support. I am thankful to our founding families (not just the fathers but the mothers and their children) who came to this great land in search of a dream - a dream born out of their love of God and their desire to live in a way that pleased him. Without their deep sacrifice, we would not be reminded yearly to give Thanks to our Creator.

Family Blessings

My hope and prayer is that today you would receive the Lord's blessing upon your life and that as you share in the bountiful harvest around your table, you would take a moment to reflect and give thanks to the Lord, for he is SO GOOD!

Thanksgiving Eve

Tonight we went to church for our Thanksgiving Eve service. It was a service of thanks and celebration and it was perfect. Our church is small and is an evangelical Covenant church. I was not raised in this denomination but have for many years attended non-demoninational Bible churches. We recently changed churches so we could fellowship in a smaller setting and also attend with my parents.

Anyway, tonight we had several people share testimonies of their thankfulness to God. It was a tearful time as pure hearts shared with humility all the the Lord had done for them this past year. I am so grateful for the honesty in my church. I am thankful that while we may be simple in our approach (not the best music or best ordered service), we are real and filled with loving and living "Christ followers." Not a Sunday passes that I don't learn something new, take home words of wisdom to meditate on, or stand convicted of unconfessed sin in my life.

God in his ultimate wisdom has chosen for us to learn to be humble through his life-breathing Spirit who gives Grace and Mercy to all those who diligently seek after Him.

November 23, 2005

Contacts - Oh drats

I went to the eye doctor today to have a follow up visit. I have been testing out contacts for the past month now and so far haven't been able to find the right kind to work with my nearsightedness. I am wearing trial pairs of soft lenses and while they are comfortable and help with my upclose vision, I just cannot see things at a distance.

I have ordered a pair of gas permeable lenses (hard) to try next. I used to wear this kind years ago and always had issues with protein buildup and eye dryness. I really want these lenses to work out as I am loving the freedom they bring from wearing glasses.

November 22, 2005

King of Kings

O thank the Lord, the Lord of love;
O thank the God all gods above;
O thank the mighty King of kings,
Whose arm hath done such wondrous things.

Refrain

King of kings forever and ever;
Lord of lords, forever and ever,
King of kings forever and ever;
King of kings and Lord of lords!

Give thanks to God, for good is He,
Thanks to the God of gods give ye;
Thanks give the Lord of lords unto,
Who only wonders great can do.

Refrain

Who thought on us amidst our woes,
And rescued us from all our foes;
Who daily feeds each living thing;
O thank the Heav’n’s Almighty King.

Refrain

O praise the Lord, for He is kind,
Give thanks to Him with heart and mind;
His mercy flows an endless stream,
To all eternity the same.

Refrain

November 21, 2005

Mentoring

This post is about my Mother -in-law (or Mother-in-love) as she likes to say it. I don't know about you but I am grateful to have a MIL who is an amazing woman, who loves the Lord, and who cherishes her family. My MIL is a spiritual warrior, a woman who has dedicated her entire life to serving the Lord and serving others. She was raised in a family of spirit-filled believers who gave their Lord everything. Her parents and grandparents were Salvationists (they were Officers in the Salvation Army). She married my FIL who also came from a heritage of Salvationists. My husband grew up a child of missionaries and lived all over the United States and in Puerto Rico.

Daisy Hepburn

I think about her often because she has made a huge impact on my life. It is hard to explain really but I would say that she has lived her life before me as an example of what a spiritually mature, Godly woman, should look like, act like, and live like. She has a powerful presence and always a word of wisdom to share with any one she meets.

When I first met her, I was so intimidated by her presence. After all, she and her husband were serving the Lord and had done so for years. I felt inadequate in my spiritual walk and in my knowledge of the Bible. I felt unsure and unsteady and worried that I would say or do the wrong thing. But in those early years, my IL were supportive and encouraging of my spiritual growth. They wanted to know what I thought, what I learned, and always encouraged me to learn more, delve deeper, get involved, and love the Lord.

We have spent the past 23 years together and it has been a long road and at times a difficult journey. My dh and I have lived near by for most of the time and have spent many, many hours in fellowship and bible study, listening and learning from both my MIL and FIL. It is a blessing to be able to sit and learn from people who have walked the road before you and who can share with you positive and encouraging stories of their faithfulness and that of others they know.

My IL live near us now and we cherish the times we spend together. They are still very active in ministry and as a result we do not see them as often as we would like. They continue to serve the Lord and travel often to preach the Good news to groups around the country. It is exciting to see how the Lord is using them in this time of their life. My MIL has written many books and bible studies and two years ago I had the priveledge of helping her write her most recent book, "We're Having the Time of our Lives." This little book (self-published) tells the story of my IL past 10 years and shares the trials and triumphs of living with a disability (my FIL suffered a masssive stroke that left him disabled, almost blind and partly paralyzed). It is an encouraging story of living life day by day and learning to adapt to a change of plans and a change of focus.

If you would like to read a copy of her story, you can order on from her website DaisyHepburn.com. Her books are still available through Amazon and other used sources - just google on Daisy Hepburn to learn more.

Ps. Today is my MIL's birthday! Happy Birthday, Mom!

November 3, 2005

Curriculum

We are using Ambleside Online for our curriculum and we really do love it. It is an academically challenging and riqorous curriculum and is based on the methodology of Charlotte Mason. This is our second full year of homeschooling and we are using AO again (Year 7) for ds' 7th grade.

One of the great things about AO (http://www.amblesideonline.org) is that it is very flexible and easy to implement. Most of the planning has been done by the Advisory board and yearly schedules have been created so that you can start immediately. You do have to get your books, either from the library, online (e-texts), downloads, or purchase them. But other than that, you can pretty much take the yearly schedule and begin school with one simply MS Word document.

Now, I would be lying if I said that that was all there was to it. I do know some families with older teens who simply print off the yearly 36-week schedule and hand it to their student. The student manages their time and schedules weekly meetings with their parent to go over their work and discuss certain books/topics. For younger students some sort of schedule or system is needed, just to help the student begin to learn how to manage their time.

My goal is to work towards helping my student learn how to manage his time. He struggles with time management so we often have to use the kitchen timer to help him focus and stay on task. I do have a weekly routine set up and we follow it pretty faithfully. Our schedule works well for us and so here it is broken down by the days of the week.

October 28, 2005

Getting Contact Lenses

I am old. My eyesight is poor. I need BIFOCALS! AAGGGGHHHHH!!!!

I told dear dh that I wanted to get contacts. I have worn them before, many years ago, in an effort to curb my Myopia (which was lovingly called 'galloping' myopia). My eyesight is about 750 in each eye - not sure what that means - but I guess I am about 20/2400 or something like that. I cannot see without my glasses and now I am beginning that middle age thing where I cannot read things up close.

So I am going to give contacts a try. I will keep you posted on my success.

October 18, 2005

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my birthday - number 43. I am not shy about announcing it and in fact am pretty happy to be the age I am. I was thinking that very thing the other day. I wouldn't want to start over, be a teen again, nor would I want to go back to my 20's or 30's. I am very happy to be in my 40's and feel like I am finally able to just be 'me.'

Happy birthday to my dad!!

My dad's birthday was yesterday and we always have celebrated our birthday's together. But this year my parents are in Indiana at the funeral of my dear Uncle Bob. Doctor Bob as he is known in Berne, Indiana was a beloved family man, country doctor, pilot, and all around great guy. He loved the Lord Jesus without hesitation and served him all his life. He passed away suddenly on Sunday and my folks have gone back to celebrate his life. He will be missed.

October 9, 2005

Neil Diamond, anyone?

DH took me to see Neil Diamond this week. I never was a huge fan but was looking forward to a night out. We were given the tickets (never turn away free concert tickets) so we went and made it an evening out. The show was great but Neil is losing his voice (mostly the high's and low's). It was still fun to dance and sing along with him and he does put on a great show!

September 21, 2005

Styx - a Birthday surprize

DS has a birthday this month and it always is a difficult thing to figure out what to get him. Being an 'only' he pretty much gets anything he wants (read - not when he wants it). DH decided to surprize him with tickets to see Styx and REO Speedwagon. DH and I are showing our age and we love the music of our teen years and have converted our baby into a 'rock and roller.'

I grew up on the south side of Chicago and got to see Styx when they performed at my high school. That was before "Lady" and "Mr. Roboto" - when they were just starting out. The concert was great though we missed Dennis DeYoung as lead singer. The new "De Young" look-alike does a good job but it is just not the same.

DS loved the concert but found the sound (aka the volume) to be too loud! I think he didn't know what to expect as his last concert was to see Yanni and Mannheim Steamroller (both wonderful shows).

August 19, 2005

Travel Log - Day 9

We spent a full day hiking in Glacier and I have to say that I have never felt so alive. I often suffer from allergies and other ailments (IBS, CFS, Fibro) and was a bit worried that all the walking, hiking and generally just being away from home would end up really taking a toll on my physical well-being. But I found the contrary to be true. I loved the early morning hours, when dh and ds were still asleep in the cabin, and I took to taking a walk through our campground or just sitting in the lawn chair reading my bible and praying. Leaving behind all the stress and strain of life was such a blessing to all of us. DH relaxed, ds journalled and drew, we played family games, roasted marshmellows, and just enjoyed being together.


The landscape of Glacier N.P.



Hidden Lake, Glacier N.P.

Today we hiked from Logan Pass Visitor center to Hidden Lake. Considered to be a moderate hike, I found the altitude to be most troublesome. The air is thin and cold at this elevation and the more we hiked, the harder I puffed (I do have Asthma). It was a long hike but well worth it. The water really was this color blue.

August 18, 2005

Travel Log - Day 8

Okay, I have seen photos of Glacier N.P. but to visit in person and see the real-deal, well, it is just more than words can tell. It is an experience I shall never forget. We are blessed that we will be here for 5 days and can spend our time visiting Kalispell, Whitefish, Big Mountain, and Glacier with leisure.

Our first trip up the Going to the Sun road took place on the afternoon we arrived in Whitefish. We decided to take the drive into the park, even though, we didn't have a full-day to visit. As we entered the park it began to rain and the further we drove up the road (which crosses the Continental Divide), the more our visibility decreased. The fog set in, the rain began and we often could see less than a car length in front of us. We made it to the very top of the road, entered the rest stop to use the bathrooms and was greeted with a biting wind chill of about 20 degrees (down from 60 when we left the KOA). Dressed in a teeshirts and shorts, we were not prepared to do any hiking or even walking. We toured the visitor center and headed back down the mountain, hoping that tomorrow would bring us another day of sunshine.

After a good night in our comfy cabin, we ate a filling breakfast, checked email (hooray), and packed our lunch for the day. It was cold but the forecast said the highs would be 60 or so. Our camping director said that on the mountain even 60 would be warm. He helped us pick some easy to moderate trails and gave us some pointers on hiking in the park.


Did I mention that Glacier is beautiful?

Yes, there are bears here.

We even drove to the backcountry in the hope of seeing some Grizzly bears but to our dismay, there were none. This sign had a note saying that bears were spotted near the trail in the early morning hours and to pay special attention for them. We didn't see them but many of the hikers in front of us and behind us had bells on their shoes, backpacks and sticks. I read in the park newspaper that bells don't work but the visitors to the park like to wear them and so you always hear the faint 'tinkle' of grizzley bells where ever you go in the park.

August 17, 2005

Travel Log - Day 7

We left the Polson KOA and drove north up to Kalispell. Montana is the most beautiful state IMO and every turn and twist of the interstate affords a new breathtaking view of nature. I am in awe today as we drive around the lake. The day is sunny (so far we have had one day of rain - on our first day out) and warm. We have packed our lunch and hope to find a nice pinic spot for us to eat at. Here in Montana, outdoor life is everything so there are many places to pull off the road and just sit a spell. Our destination is only an hour and half away so we have a leisurely drive ahead of us. We will be spending the bulk of our trip at the Whitefish KOA, located about 20 miles from the entrance to Glacier N.P. We chose Whitefish as it offered some great freebies, namely a hot breakfast daily, crazy bikes, petting zoo, game room, pool, spa and computer access.

I guess I should mention that being offline is not only causing both DH and I to have withdrawls but it is also a business issue. I work from home as both website designer and server administrator and so travelling without the computer is a NO GO. Normally, we would choose to stay in hotels/motels that offer high-speed access so that I can continue to provide computer services to my clients. But this year we are camping and with WI-fi being so popular and available it is pretty amazing to think that in all most all our overnight stops and KOA visits, internet access was available.

Bunnies free ranging in Whitefish

The Whitefish KOA has a petting zoo with rabbits, llamas, ponies, goats, ducks, geese, and chickens. The owners let their bunnies roam free and this is one of them. We often had them pop up to our cabin in the early am or pm looking for a snack. They were very snuggly and friendly - ds was enthralled and asked if we could have a bunny when we got home. Bunnies and Arizona are not a good combination - the heat is too much for them and they require such special care. We chose instead to just enjoy them while we were here.

August 16, 2005

Travel Log - Day 6

Today we left Yellowstone and drove on into Montana. We are not supposed to arrive in Whitefish (near Kalispell) until tomorrow but we are ahead of schedule. We decide to stay in Polson, Montana, just south of Kalispell for the night. Polson sits on the Flathead Indian reservation and is at the south end of Flathead lake. This is big-time fishing territory and you can easily see why. Flathead lake is a hidden jewel. As you arrive at the south end of the lake, it appears to be a decent size, but not as large as say Lake Tahoe. It is only after taking a drive around the lake, either to the north or west, that the size of the lake begins to fill your view. This lake is huge and is deep and affords excellent fishing. We didn't bring our fishing rods so for us we are content just to drive around the lake and check in to our KOA campsite early.


Kamping at KOA Polson

Okay, for you camping experts out there, go ahead and laugh at us. Yes, we are Kamping the KOA way. I mentioned earlier that we were newbie campers and so to get us started with the minimum output of expense, we decided to give KOA and their Kamping Kabins a try. Well, it was a great option for us. Each cabin sleeps 4 and comes with portable fan/heater (not needed here but definitely used in West Yellowstone KOA). The Polson KOA is a lovely campground, owned and operated by a family (versus part of the chain) so it is super clean, very well stocked, friendly, and though small, a great place to stay. We spent the afternoon in the pool and spa and took an early dinner in downtown Polson. Tomorrow we will drive around the lake as we head north to Kalispell.

Did I mention that if there was one state I would choose to live in, it would be Montana? Yes, I love the USA and have lived many places in my lifetime but have to say that Montana holds the top spot for me. I LOVED it and the people were so friendly. This is BIG SKY country, very western and rustic. It is a great place to visit or to retire to or just dream about.

Flathead Lake, Montana

August 15, 2005

Travel Log - Day 5

We drove through Yellowstone last evening, not knowing that the trip would take us 90 minutes from the entrance at Grand Teton to the exit in West Yellowstone. It was an eerie experience to drive through such a famous national park at night. We are on the lookout for bears and elk but our drive passes without any incidence. We do smell the familiar sulfur and see puffs of mist rising from the mud pots, geyers, and other volcanic openings scattered throughout the park. Our night will be spent in West Yellowstone in a hotel. Our reservations at the KOA campsite are not good until this evening so we have to find a place to stay that won't break the bank. Our luck - we do find a place - though it costs us a good deal more than we had planned on spending. We are tired and need a good night's rest.

We get up early and our hotel has a continental breakfast with fruit, bagels, waffles, yogurt, donuts, cereal and loads of gourmet coffee (hey, I didn't even ask for the gourmet part but I am very, very thankful this am). We eat a hearty breakfast and pack our lunch to help save on some costs.

Yellowstone in the morning is glorious. It defies words. It is cold, only in the low 40's, but clear skies and bright sunshine promise a good day for hiking and exploring one of our country's finest N.P.'s.


Hot Springs in Yellowstone N.P.

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, we spent the evening driving through Yellowstone and kept a keen eye out for wildlife. Well, we hoped to see bears. Here in Arizona we have lots of Elk, some Moose, and Mule Deer. We also have a growing population of Bald Eagle. We have some black bears too - but they are not very frequently seen in our are of Metro Phoenix. We really wanted to see bears, black bears, brown bears or grizzly bears. Every where we walked, hiked, and drove, we saw signs warning us about the bears. We heard stories of families seeing bears near us, in the camp sites, and on the trails. But to our chagrin, we saw no bears in Yellowstone! Maybe better luck in Glacier.

Travel Log - Day 4

Grand Tetons and Wyoming

Well, after a very long day's drive through some of the most verdant and pine covered/timbered landscape, we cross the border from Utah into Idaho and then on to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I have never seen the west as our pioneer ancestor's did but can imagine what it was like for them when we drive through this part of the country. It is just as wild as the west can be and we take a country road through the backwoods so we can see the horse farms and cattle ranches that dot the horizon. The creeks run through stands of birch and aspen trees as the pine peeks over the top. It is breathtaking beautiful (do you see a thread here - beautiful - I need to think of another word because you will get bored to tears with me saying it was 'beautiful!').


The Chapel of Transfiguration
Grand Teton N.P.

This is my favorite photo from Teton N.P. I took this shot from inside the chapel, looking out the window at Grand Teton (the mountain in the forefront).

We arrive at Grand Teton late in the afternoon and visit the park but decide to drive through it to Yellowstone. We will come back to the Teton's on our return trip so today is really just to browse about, uncover some good hiking trails and picnicking spots to visit on our return leg.

August 14, 2005

Travel Log - Day 3

Today we are driving to Salt Lake City and then on to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. We forgot to add that among our park tours, we will be spending some time at the Grand Teton's in Wyoming. I have never been to this part of Wyoming so I am very excited about seeing them. I have seen beautiful photos of the Teton range and hope to get some good pics of our own.

We plan on driving by the Great Salt Lake and stopping so that ds can stick his feet in the salt sea. Instead, we take 80 West and drive up to Park City and Deer Valley to see where the Olympics were held. It is a warm and sunny day and traffic is light on 80. Park City is an adorable town -- very pricey to live in -- but nonetheless a sophisticated western town. We stop by a cute Victorian home that was offered for sale at $800K -- nothing fancy mind you -- and a home in need of major work. It was small, a two bedroom, wood clad Victorian home. I honestly do not know how people can live here because housing is out of the reach of most families.

Playing with the Camera
Olympic Ski Runs at Park City, Utah

Our next stop is Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Another long day's drive but we are anxious to get to Yellowstone.



August 13, 2005

Travel Log - Day 2

We are up early and ready to head to our first National Park. We hope to spend two days here and tour both Zion National Park and Bryce Canyon. It is a beautiful day today, warm but not too hot (a nice change from hot and humid AZ). I have never been to either park but have seen friends and families photo albums of the beautiful natural rock formations. We have purchased a National Parks Pass - a must for anyone who plans on visiting more than one National Park or who wants to spend several days coming and going through the toll gates. The cost is $50 and is good for the entire year. One visit to a NP costs $20 and is good for a 7-day period. In our case we are planning on visiting five parks and spending several days at both Yellowstone and Glacier. The park pass is a great saver!

Zion National Park
Zion National Park is a wonder! I was so impressed with the beauty but also with the entire logistics of how the park is setup. If you have never visited Zion and plan on doing so someday -- keep in mind that during the summer the park shuttle's visitors in (a great way to see the park). In winter most of the drive is closed. We were able to take the shuttle, which runs every 90 minutes, and get off and on at every camera spot, hiking spot, or just lunching spot in the park. The shuttles are frequent so you can get off and without spending more than 5-10 minutes wait, you can get back on and ride to the next stop. The entire loop takes 90 minutes and if you wanted to, you could just stay on for the ride. The bus drivers offer wonderful tour information and interesting stories about the park. We were blessed and spent most of the day in Zion.


The Great White Throne, Zion N.P. Utah

It is late in the day and we decide to take the trip to Bryce, even though it will take us 2 hours to get there. We see no reason to back track and return to St. George for the night and so we brave the hour and head for Bryce. Bryce was a dissapointment to us. Maybe it was because we had seen our fill of "hoo-doos" on our trip to the Badlands in S.D. a few years back. Bryce is a park full of Hoodoos - or salt deposits that nature has carved into strange and wonderful patterns and sculptures. The entire park consists of a drive in and out, a loop, with many photo spots to take pictures of these unique rock formations.

We drive through Bryce and end up spending the night in Fillmore, Utah. We find a good family restaurant and a clean room to spend the night in. Our hotel has an indoor heated pool and spa - a bonus - so we spend the late evenings soaking our tired muscles and then drifting off to sleep. There is something about spending a day out of doors and hiking and being in the fresh air that just helps one to sleep. We drift off thinking of tomorrows drive - on to Salt Lake City, Park City and hopefully Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

August 12, 2005

Travel Log - Day One

We finally got the car packed and are on the road. It is hot here in Arizona and very humid. We are really looking forward to getting out of the desert summer and into some cool, mountain air. It is raining as we travel through Kingman and on into Nevada. We are all excited, ds the most, and are finding it hard to contain our joy at the thought of actually getting under way.

I should mention that we have debated leaving today. We had hoped to leave last week but a last minute job came up and needed our full attention for the week. We also needed to make arrangements for our cats and our house (thanks to my parents, both are covered) and to pickup our cool rental car (a SUV). We knew we would be camping and our well-used sedan just wouldn't make the 3000 plus mile trip.

So here we are (actually I am writing this after the fact) in our new SUV, eating M&Ms, and singing to our favorite CDS (ds is begging for Styx but that is a last choice - Yanni, Enya, John Tesh along with some good oldies like the Moody Blues, The Doors, Simon and Garfunkel). I should mentioned that we are a car-driving vacation loving family. We like to drive in the car and often take short trips around Arizona on a few minutes notice. We love to look out the window and often make side trips to interesting places we spot along the road. We always try to incorporate anything educational, historical, or most all national or state monuments. DH is a great driver and never seems to get tired. Mom loves to just look out the window and dreams often of what life must be like for the families that live in the homes we pass on small country roads, large interstates, or even mountain trails.

We hope to make it to St. George today. We are driving on a prayer as we have no accomodations set for us this evening. DH and I never make reservations - except for our two camping destinations, Yellowstone and Glacier. We usually just arrive in town and drive around until we find a place to stay. We are not big campers - not that we don't necessarily like camping - but just that we have never really done it. This year though we are planning on camping for two weeks -- a lot for newbie campers like us.


Lake Mead, Nevada

We arrive in Las Vegas and take a slight detour through the strip. It has been 30 years since I was last in Las Vegas and my, oh my, has it changed. In hindsight, I wish we could have by-passed it -- but we wanted to see the famous hotels and casinos -- ds saw more than I was comfortable with as far as the female persuasion was concerned. Thankfully, he was more interested in Treasure Island, the Eiffle Tower, and the cool pyramid hotel, than anything else.


After a very long day's drive, we finally arrive in St. George and find a room for the night. There is considerably road construction in the down-town area but we are grateful for a safe journey, a warm bed, and a good nights sleep.

Vacation Time

Well, I cannot believe it but we are actually going to leave today for our well-deserved vacation. We have been planning our summer vacation for several months but up until the past week, we didn't really know if we would be able to take it. Thankfully, work and finances seemed to flow and we are going on vacation. I know it may seem odd to be exuberant but it has been several years since we were able to take a prolonged vacation and we are both (dh and I) long over due.

We are taking a driving/camping tour of the Mountain West's National Parks. We will be leaving Arizona today and our first stop will be St. George, Utah. We hope to stop and see the Hoover Dam before spending the night in St. George. National Parks include: Zion and Bryce Canyon in Utah, Yellowstone in Wyoming, Glacier in Montana, and the Grand Canyon on our return trip to Arizona.

Stay tuned for more...

July 24, 2005

Monsoon Skies


My son took this picture today. Many of you have never seen a Monsoon sky so I thought I would share it with you. If you live in the Mid-west, this type of cloudy day might signal the approach of a tornado. In our case, it just means that a monsoonal flow is heading our way and that we should prepare to expect heavy rains, winds and possible hail.

July 23, 2005

Viva Las Vegas

My dear dh is heading to Las Vegas today. He and a friend are off to the city of lights to record their Golf radio show at several golf courses in the area. My husband is a radio-guy and has been on the radio many times in his adult life. He hosted a radio and cable TV show when we lived in No. California for a while and now is co-hosting a Golf show with a friend.

I really do not like it when he travels. I guess I have always been one of those people who doesn't like to be alone. I never sleep well when he is not home and although I have family near by, I just do not like the way our routine gets interrupted.

I am really going to miss him.

July 20, 2005

Changing Churches

I don't know if you have every chosen to change churches or not, but for us it is something we have done several times during our 21 years of marriage. Most of the time, the reason was due to moving from one home to another, or to be able to fellowship with friends and family. This year we have chosen to leave our large, non-denominational Bible church for a smaller church that is around the corner from our home. It was a tough decision for us because we loved our church and had been fellowshipping there for 9 years. We had friends from sunday school, Awana, church staff, enrichment groups, and bible study. It was home for us and we loved it.

We were at a cross-roads as ds is in Jr. High now and we need to find a good solid Youth program that offered both fellowship and discipleship opportunities. The youth program at our bible church was active and had over 200 members regularly attending. It had a solid message -- reaching teens for the Gospel of Christ -- especially those that do not attend church or know about Jesus. It was evangelistic. It was pulling in teens from the high schools and Jr. Highs and was serving a segment of the population that desparately needed that message.

The problem for us was the culture and environment that this program supported. It reflected the current scene in most metropolitan secondary schools. Worldly. Sensual. Provocative. Hip. You can imagine it because I am sure you have seen the kids that get on the bus near your home or who hang at the mall. There are language issues, modesty issues, and other tangible issues that can easily confuse tender and sensitive children who have not been exposed to this so-called 'normal' part of being a teenager.

One of the main reasons we chose to homeschool was to remove our son from that particular culture and to teach him solid biblical values so that he could grow strong and be a mature Christian. It is a difficult position and I have good friends who feel as I do as well as just as many who believe that their children need to be light in a very dark world. I understand and accept this position. but for my child, I knew that he would not benefit from being exposed to that culture on a regular basis. We pulled him from public school because of this culture and we believed then as we do now that while it may be the norm in our society, it is not the norm that God desires for his people.

So we made the choice to attend a much smaller church near us. This church is no different from our large bible church except for the size. It has an active youth program and about half the students who attend it are not members of the church. Almost all are public school kids. You might be asking, "well, what's the difference?" The difference is in it's size. It is much easier to work with a smaller group of kids and have a greater impact on them, then to try and reach hundreds with the same message.

Anyway, it was a hard choice to make but we are committed to finding the right group for our son and we feel that this place will work best for us.

July 19, 2005

Mud Volcanoes

My son really loves volcanoes. He has loved them since he was a child and reads any book or watches any informational program he can find on them. We have made several volcanoes as science projects as well.

Created out of mud

But today, ds, decided to create a mud volcano outside. There is not much to do here in the hot summer except swim or stay inside, so I was quite surprised that he chose to spend his afternoon outside in the heat and sun. But he did. We all got to watch him set his creation off !

June 25, 2005

Phantom of the Opera

My mother has surprized my son with tickets to see "Phantom of the Opera" at ASU Gammage Auditorium. My son and I watched the film (recent one) and he was just mesmerized by the music. In fact, after the movie was over, he headed straight to the computer to find sheet music for the musical. He has since learned to play several pieces from the stage production.

I have never seen the musical. My parents went to see it when it first came out and starred Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman. They said it was fantasic! ASU Gammage is a great auditorium and I have seen several productions there (Kenny G. and Les Miserables). It should be a super outing.

Ps. We will be in the bleacher seats -- aka -- the nosebleed section as the tickets for this production are quite pricey. Nonetheless, it should be a wonderful experience for my son to see a live production of a broadway musical.

June 10, 2005

Trip to L.A.

My brother and his family live in So. California. We try and get together with them twice a year, usually in the spring/early summer and then around the holidays. We used to see them more often but as we have gotten older, it just becomes so much harder to make the trip. Their children (4 of them) range in age from 13 to 21. You can imagine the life they have with sports, music/dance/drama, and other church activities.

The weekend will be one of our trips to visit this year. My niece is leaving to go with Teen Missions for 55 days. She will be serving on a missions team in Ethiopia and Uganda. My brother and sister-in-law are nervous to say the least.

My niece is 15 and will be a sophmore in high school. She is a beautiful girl, tall and willowy, with the sweetest spirit. She is very creative, a lovely dancer, and thinks she would like to work in theater or some other area creating costumes. She is a talented seamstress and makes costumes for her dance recitals, school programs, and many, many home made movies (my older nephew is the movie guy).

This weekend we are also going to her high school to see her dance recital. She attends a Technical and Performing Arts school so the program is expected to be really awesome.

May 19, 2005

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Today is my Mom's birthday. I won't mention how old she is because she probably won't want that little tidbit shared with strangers (Mom is not the type to hide her age just wanting to be polite). My mother is my best friend. I love her dearly and she plays a significant role in my life. I have always been close to my mom and really only recall one time when we were at odds with each other. I was 16 and my parents and I had just moved across country from Illinois to California. I was glad to be leaving Illinois - I loved living there - but was at a place where constant peer pressure to do things I just didn't want to do was at an all time high. I was also struggling in school and really needed a change of pace and scene.

I had been praying for some time for God to move us - funny thing for a child to pray about - but we were a family that moved (4 times prior to this) and so it was not unheard of to have my dad tell us that we would be moving. We had lived in So. Suburbs of Chicago for 7 years, the longest we had lived anywhere in my 16 years of life. I was ready for a move and when my dad told the family, I knew it was of the Lord's doing.

Moving during high school can be traumatic. I didn't realize how much I would miss my friends and how out of place I would feel at a large metro high school. My former school had 500 students total and my new school had over 2500. Everything was different from the class schedules, the way kids dressed, the lunch menu. It was a hard adjustment and it took time for me to find my place.

My mother, Bless her, got me involved in a Youth group and just told me that I had to go. I didn't want to go and stomped and acted like a little spoiled child. She prevailed and I went. It changed my life. Not only did I met a group of kids who went to my school but almost over night I was given a circle of friends to hang with, go to the mall with, and see each day before, during and after school. I also took a deeper step of faith in Youth group. I was challenged to commit my life to the Lord and to walk and live daily for Him. I started to attend a school bible study fellowship group, read my Bible, prayer with more earnestness, and begin to trust God to care for my every day needs.

There was a short time between that Mom and I clashed. Mostly it was due to my hormones and my loneliness. Once I called on Jesus and began to trust Him for my happiness (rather than friends, family and things), my whole outlook changed.

Mom and I became friends.

My parents live down the road from us and we see them everyday. My mother calls me many times during the day, pops over to see us, brings us goodies (treats from the store) and generally makes herself a very big part of our life. She is a constant influence in my life and as I age and as she ages, I see my role in her life changing. My parents cannot do the things they once did. They are still very active but they just cannot do everything and go everywhere anymore. It takes more effort, they get tired, they need to rest. It is hard to watch your parent change like this because you want them to always be the way you remember them - usually when you were young. You want them to be vibrant, active, social, and the dominant force in your life. As life ebbs and flows, so do the days they have left. I don't like to think about it but the truth is that my parents have an unknown amount of days left on this earth. Both of them Love the Lord so I have no worries there but I don't want to think about the day when they will no longer be here. I want to cherish the days I have with them and enjoy our time together.

God knew what he was doing when he created Mothers. There is no substitution for a mom and they have the power to impact a child's life in so many ways. I thank my God for my mother and prayer for her daily. She is my best friend and I am so glad she is here to spend her days with me.

April 12, 2005

In Honor of our Veterans...

(This message is generated from DODNews)

WWII Missing in Action Serviceman Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of an Army Air Forces crewman have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with military honors.

Staff Sgt. Robert W. McKee of Garvey, Calif., will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery April 12.

On Dec. 17, 1944, McKee was an aerial gunner on an 11-member crew of a B-24L Liberator that took off from Pantanella, Italy, on a mission to bomb enemy targets near Blechhammer, Germany. The aircraft crashed over Hungary, near the small towns of Böhönye and Felsosegesd, with the loss of two crewmen including McKee. The other nine were able to safely parachute from the aircraft. Following the war, the remains of the other unaccounted-for crewman were found in a cemetery in Felsosegesd.

Following the war, remains from an American aircraft crash near Vienna, Austria, were found buried with McKee's military identification tag. But the remains were identified as those of another flyer. Further analysis revealed that McKee had flown on the same plane and had lost his identification tag, most likely on that aircraft.

In 1992 an undertaker recovered remains believed to be those of an American in the Böhönye, Hungary, cemetery but they could not be associated with a specific incident. DPMO analysts obtained information from a Hungarian researcher which indicated that the remains might be associated with McKee's loss. Aerial gunner's wings were found in the grave, as well as other items worn by U.S. bomber crews in 1944.

Scientists of the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used a number of forensic tools including mitochondrial DNA to confirm McKee's identity, matching his DNA with that of two known maternal relatives.

Of the 88,000 Americans missing from all conflicts, 78,000 are from World War II.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call (703) 699-1169.

(I am a member of an online genealogy project and this news post is automatically sent to one of the e-lists I subscribe to. I posted it to my blog as a reminder of the service to our country by the hundreds of thousands of men and women who have died to preserve my freedom and liberty. I also was amazed at the statistic that of the 88,000 American's listed as missing in action, 78,000 are from WWII. Thank you to those who lost family members and who have current brothers, sisters, moms, dads, and cousins serving in Iraq and Afghantistan currently.)

March 31, 2005

Favorite Blogs

I haven't quite figured out how to link these blogs to mine, so I will just post them here. If you are looking for some great blogs with loads of articles to ponder:

http://heartkeepercommonroom.blogspot.com

http://beehive5.blogspot.com/

Happy reading!

March 30, 2005

Well, it finally happened...

It happened last week. I was chatting with an acquaintance, when it was said. "What was said, you ask?" Well, the "why I could never homeschool our children" speech and "why you are obviously weird, fanatical, and downright snooty because you do." As mentioned on this blog before, this is our first full year of homeschooling. I learned very quickly to never answer the following questions posed by friends, family or interested parties:

1) So WHAT curriculum do you use?
2) So WHAT kind of special training do you have?
3) So WHO monitors your schooling?
4) So WHY did you decide to homeschool?

As new homeschoolers, I will admit that we tend to be a bit zealous about it. I cannot help it, I just love it and wish that I would have done it years ago. I am considerate of others who do not share my exuberance for the subject, of course. I guess, though, that I just don't seem to get the same kind of treatment from those who question the whys and whats and whos behind our decision.

I digress. Back to last week. I was standing there when the first question was posed..."so how old is your son?" This was followed by, "what grade is he in?" Which quickly led to, "and what school does your son attend?" I never quite know how to answer these questions any more. Last year, before HS, I would have replied without thinking but this year it is different. In part, it is because of the mixed reaction I have received whenever I mention that I homeschool my child. I have found that most people are very respectful to me. But occassionally, I get comments from people who are either anti-homeschooling, ignorant of the whole subject, or are just down-right insecure around anyone who chooses to do something against the norm.

After a quick breath, I answered with "um...we homeschool." I could tell that this person fit into that later category of people who were uncomfortable with the subject. There was a bit of fidgeting, some squirming, and then awkward glances left, right, up and down. And without saying another word on my part, there it was. "I could never homeschool my two brats. They would just drive me nuts and I would have to kick them outside just to keep my sanity." I had never received this response before and, honestly, I was speechless (a rare feat for me, one who proudly wears the label "verbose"). I thought to myself, "Is that really how you feel about your children?" "Don't you realize what you are saying?" It was a good thing that her 'brats' were not present at that moment. I mean, let's just consider the damage to their self-esteem.

The conversation quickly turned away as a mutual friend arrived and started conversing with this woman. I never had the opportunity to respond with anything remotely appropos. Not that it would have helped much, but at least I would have felt a bit better. So I walked away and thought about this woman's words. I thought about her children, her life, her choices, and why she views her children with such disdain. In truth, this woman probably didn't even consider her words (isn't that the truth with so many people) and if she could hear them , she would take them back and say that she 'loved' her children very much indeed.

The problem is that 'words do matter.' You cannot take them back and once they are out, they are out. I decided to keep this episode as a reminder to myself to watch my own words and to carefully choose them. I long to be thoughtful, articulate, and slow to speak rather than the oft-opinionated, woman that I am.

Food for thought...and words to keep.

March 26, 2005

Even if you're on the right track...

Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.
- Will Rogers

How appropos? I often find that when I seem most frustrated, it is because I have stopped moving forward and have decided instead to sit down and drop out. It reminds me of when I was in high school and decided that I would go out for the track team. There was a friend in my Earth Science class, her name was Debbie, and she had long blonde hair and a very slim, lithe body. I, on the other hand, had short croppy hair (this was before blow dryers and gel), and was as skinny as a rail. Not to mention that I also wore thick glasses and had metal braces on my teeth. I thought Debbie was the epitome of health and fitness and was just so beautiful. She was a year ahead of me, a sophmore, and was a star runner on our school's track team. She was bright, an A student, a member of the National Honors Society, French aide, and all-around super gal. She was everything I wasn't and back in those days, that meant that I spent most days passing by unnoticed (you could call me a wall-flower). I wanted to be just like her and so with her encouragement, I went out for track.

Well, all my dreams of running track, soaring over the high hurdles, and coming in 1st place to the cheers of my school, never materialized. My short stint on the team included shin splints, tossing my cookies after a particularly long run, being humiliated by the boy's track team and coach, tripping over the hurdles, landing flat on my backside during the long jump, and just generally being miserable and cold (did I mention that we were running in the spring, in Illinois?) On one particularly bad practice, the boys team had taken to heckling the girls team, and in particular, those of us who were not very good at running or jumping. We were running 880s and as I rounded the turn, I pulled a hamstring muscle and ended up down on the track. The boys team howled (this was before PC) and I just sat there are started to cry. Crying is not the best thing to do when you are trying to be a star athlete but between the pain and the frustration, it was all I could do. So I sat there and watched as the other girls and boys just passed me by. The next day, I told my coach that I was quitting track. It would not be the first time that I decided to sit down and drop out.

Several years later, I did the same thing when I decided to forgo attending San Jose State University to study Art and chose instead to attend the local Junior College. My grades were not the best, but they were good enough to get me into the University. The very idea of attending the "U" was more than I could handle. I worried about how I would make it from one side of the campus to the other, how I would handle all the courses and assignments, how I would make friends, and how I would make grades. More importantly, I just knew that my artistic skill could in no way compete with the other artists studying in the program. It didn't matter that I was constantly being told that I was very good and had talent and that I should consider studying in Paris or Chicago or San Fransico. It was too much for me and instead of staying the course, I chose to sit down and drop out.

It wouldn't be until 10 years later that the desire to return to school would resurface and I would finally make the choice to finish my education. A lot had happened to me in the ensuing 10 years : I had gotten married, I worked at a number of high-tech jobs, I took on a lot of responsibility, and I matured and came to see that I did indeed have gifts and talents and that God had a plan and purpose for my life. No, I was not destined to be a track star, and no, I was not destined to be a fine artist.

I read once that motivation comes in all forms and that it doesn't take some lofty goal or vision to motivate us to change. In fact, any thing can be used as a motivator -- even things that we consider to be vengeful or spiteful. For me, while the desire to finish my education was important (it was more important to my parents) it was really the desire to prove to my co-workers (those with degrees) that I had what it would take to be successful. You see, back then (again before PC), it was not uncommon for certain levels of employees to make rude or snide remarks to the support staff (secretaries, receptionists, etc.) It was as if we were not as good as they were because we lacked 'education.' I had had my fill of this type of treatment and even complained to HR. While sympathetic to my plight, HR refused to do anything about it and instead suggested that I take night classes to 'further my education.'

When the opportunity presented itself to return to school, I jumped at it and make the committment to graduate with honors and receive no grade less than an A. Now, I wasn't a solid student in prior college courses. I had the wits to get As, just not the determination to do it. This time, though, I was giving it my all and my motivator was the 'payback' of those men and women who had sneered down at me and at all of those who did the same type of work.

But something wonderful happened to me during my time at the University. I realized that I did have what it takes to be successful. My desire for payback soon faded and was replaced by an internal fire , a deep desire to gain knowledge and understanding. I longed to be 'educated.' I achieved my goal in 1993 and graduated with honors. I made all As except for one B -- which of course I blame on the tiny, beautiful baby that was growing inside me at the time (yes, I was pregnant during my last semester of school).

I found my calling that year, I found my motivator. I found my reason for living, for believing, for growing and changing. Instead of finding joy in my pursuit of knowledge, I found it in the tiny hands and feet of my precious child. I have never lost the desire to learn and I still paint and draw and create (now using the computer rather than paper and pen). But my love is in the time spent with my child and my husband and in living my life in pursuit of God. It is an amazingly wonderful thing when you find your purpose in life and you embrace it.

Yes, I am on the right track and I am moving forward, daily, as I grow and mature and become the woman that God had planned and purposed me to be. Praise God for He is so good!

Grace to Forgive

The Lord has really been convicting me of a bitter root in my spirit. At this time of celebration of our Lord Jesus Christ's resurrection, now more than ever, do I need to release this root and claim the forgiveness that is mine through Christ's redemptive work on the cross.

Grace to Forgive
published in Our Daily Bread


It is difficult to understand how the Lord Jesus could pray for His brutal executioners to be forgiven (Luke 23:34). We often try to excuse our unforgiving hearts by arguing that He was God, whereas we are sinful creatures. But Jesus calls us to follow His divine example.

Putting into practice the Bible's directives isn't easy. For example, it's hard to pray sincerely for God to forgive our enemies and those who humiliate and belittle us. Yet God's Word is crystal-clear: "Pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you" (Matthew 5:44).

As we lift our eyes to the Lord in prayer, we can be Spirit-enabled to put into practice His most difficult directives. Think of someone toward whom you have harbored a bitter spirit. Ransack your memory if necessary. As you consider that your feelings for that person, pray: "Lord, flood my heart with compassion, and purge away my unforgiving spirit. Help me to 'live peaceably with all men'" (Romans 12:18).

If multitudes of Christians did that, what a transforming difference it would make in our marriages, our homes, and our churches. We could have a big influence on our hate-filled world. —Vernon Grounds

When others we will not forgive,
God's blessings are denied;
We must forsake our stubbornness
And banish sinful pride. —Sper

Ground that is filled with roots of bitterness needs to be plowed by the grace of God.

Read:

Romans 12:14-21

Love your enemies, . . . and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. —Matthew 5:44

Spiritual Vision Through Personal Purity

(Reposted from Oswald Chambers wonderful devotional - My Utmost for His Highest)

Spiritual Vision Through Personal Purity

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God —Matthew 5:8

Purity is not innocence—it is much more than that. Purity is the result of continued spiritual harmony with God. We have to grow in purity. Our life with God may be right and our inner purity unblemished, yet occasionally our outer life may become spotted and stained. God intentionally does not protect us from this possibility, because this is the way we recognize the necessity of maintaining our spiritual vision through personal purity. If the outer level of our spiritual life with God is impaired to the slightest degree, we must put everything else aside until we make it right. Remember that spiritual vision depends on our character—it is "the pure in heart" who "see God."

God makes us pure by an act of His sovereign grace, but we still have something that we must carefully watch. It is through our bodily life coming in contact with other people and other points of view that we tend to become tarnished. Not only must our "inner sanctuary" be kept right with God, but also the "outer courts" must be brought into perfect harmony with the purity God gives us through His grace. Our spiritual vision and understanding is immediately blurred when our "outer court" is stained. If we want to maintain personal intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ, it will mean refusing to do or even think certain things. And some things that are acceptable for others will become unacceptable for us.

A practical help in keeping your personal purity unblemished in your relations with other people is to begin to see them as God does. Say to yourself, "That man or that woman is perfect in Christ Jesus! That friend or that relative is perfect in Christ Jesus!"

March 25, 2005

Psalm 63

1 O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth
for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no
water is;

2 To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the
sanctuary.

3 Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall
praise thee.

4 Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in
thy name.

5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my
mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:

6 When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the
night watches.

7 Because thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of thy
wings will I rejoice.

8 My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me.

9 But those that seek my soul, to destroy it, shall go into the
lower parts of the earth.

10 They shall fall by the sword: they shall be a portion for foxes.

11 But the king shall rejoice in God; every one that sweareth by him
shall glory: but the mouth of them that speak lies shall be stopped.

March 23, 2005

On the Book Shelf...

Did I mention that I am reading as part of the ESO Reading for Life program? No, well skip down a few entries to the article on ESO (just make sure to come back here when you are done, ok?)

Here's a brief review of some of the books I have finished:

How to Read A Book by Mortimer Adler

This book is a required read for my ds who will be entering Year 7 in September. In fact, he will be reading this scholarly book for several years so I thought I had better do some pre-reading to check it out. It is a GREAT book! If you have never thought about the process of reading and would like to get more out of your reading, then visit your local library and check this book out.

Adler details the four levels of reading: Elementary (basically learning to read; k-6th grade), Instructional (Jr. and Sr. High reading), Analytical (this is where you actually start to read deeper and begin studying), and Synoptical (literary criticism - drawing from more than one source and then comparing and contrasting differing author's viewpoints). In this book, he gives you the study tools needed to move from an elementary reader (many adults are elementary readers) to an analytical reader (college level reading). I would rate this book as an imperative study for any Jr. High-High School student who plans on attending college.

The Well-Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer

Ms. Bauer is the author of the very popular "The Well-Trained Mind," a resource how-to book on classical education. TWTM takes you explains the trivium and illiustrates a well-planned course of study for children K-12. The Well-Educated Mind is written for parents or any adult who would have liked to have been schooled 'classically.' In this book, Ms. Bauer outlines a reading program to help even the newest readers tackle the cannon of classical literature.

I checked this book out of the library because I was interested in seeing her reading list. Reading lists are the 'big' thing these days and seeing what other people, people in the know, think are worthy reads, well, is just interesting. Anyway, I found this book to be very dull, dry and boring (much like the TWTM). Again, Ms. Bauer has written an how-to guide and as such it is rich in detail and would make a good reference volume to keep on one's shelf.

It's A KEEPER

A friend shared this with me...it is DEFINITELY A KEEPER!

http://wandascountryhome.com/mywindow/index.html

March 22, 2005

Fleas and other vermin

Well, I believe I have fleas. I cannot think of anything worse than having fleas and can only surmise that our recent addition (aka Caesar) has unleashed this vermin upon us. I shall chastise him tomorrow but for now I think I will retire to the boudoir and verify the cause of all this itching...

Good night and farewell.

ESO What?

To further my goal of self-education, I have decided to become an honorary sorority sister in the ESO - Epsilon Sigma Omicron Society. Epsilon Sigma Omicron is an Honorary Sorority reading program, a part of the General Federation of Women's Clubs Education Department.

Mrs. Quincey A Meyers of Perrysville, Indiana founded ESO in 1928 with the assistance of the Indiana University. ESO became a part of the General Federation of Women's Clubs in 1950 and the California Federation of Womnen's Clubs received its ESO Charter in 1954.

The purpose is ESO is:
  • To encourage a woman's pursuit of higher education
  • To improve current and develop new study skills
  • To stimulate systematic home reading and study with minimum supervision
  • To encourage the establishment of home libraries and greater use ofpublic libraries
  • To encourage the formation of reading/study/discussion groups
The Sorority motto, "Enlighten Thy Own Pathway" is translated from the Greek "Epilame Ten Saudow Hodon."

The levels of acheivement in ESO are:

Pledge; Member; Century (some chapters add other levels)

To pledge, I will be required to read 16 books and prepare a short summary on each. To become a member I must read 48 books and to achieve a century rank, read 100.

While I will be pledging membership within my own woman's club, I am planning on starting an ESO Yahoo Group that would be open to anyone interested in becoming and ESO Reading for Life Member.

Stay tuned for more details...

What are you reading...

I have decided to pursue self-education as a means to an end. What end, you ask? Well, the end of the book, I guess. Charlotte Mason, a 19th Century British philosopher and educator coined the phrase "education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life" and believed that the process of learning never stops. She encouraged self-education for women at a time when women possessed very little rights and few were educated at all. She started one of the first teaching colleges for women (in England) and her teaching methods have gained tremendous popularity among Christian Homeschoolers (of whom, I am one) in the last two decades.

Miss Mason was an highly educated woman, well-read, and able to speak with authority on par with the notables of her time (Dickens, Darwin, etc.) There is a wonderful article that addresses the value of mothers pursuing self-education. I am posting it here as it is well-worth reading:

Mrs. Alfred Booth offers the following commentary on the subject of "The Influence and Teaching of the Educated Mother," in a paper given at the Bristol Conference of Women Workers, 1893/4:

What, then, is education? Who is the educated mother? What ought her teaching and influence to be?

What is education? We are apt to think we know very well what education is, and when asked this question give an answer which we hope will satisfy ourselves and others. When, however, we begin to think seriously on the subject we are surprised to find how dim and hazy our opinions are, and we cannot be satisfied until we try to classify them and arrive at some definite conclusions. Speaking of education therefore in reference to women as mothers, I should venture to say its first and prime object ought to be to make women think, and that all education which does not tend to make thinking easy and natural fails of its object and is not education.
The original meaning of the word educate is to draw forth; education should therefore aim at drawing forth all the different powers of human beings. True education should train the intellect, establish principles, and regulate the heart. In answering the question, what is education? --especially in reference to girls --I would strike this threefold cord, believing that if the intellect is trained to habits of thought by the development of its faculties, the conscience to the perception of the reasonableness of principles founded on intelligible moral laws, and the heart to a wise regulation of its spontaneous action, we may hope for results which will be most likely to prepare women for the particular duties and responsibilities which motherhood brings.

She continues with...

Who, then, is the educated mother? The educated mother is pre-eminently a woman who thinks, and the results of her regulated thought will be seen in the daily administration of her home.

The educated mother must, however, be much more than a nursery machine and a technical instructress. Realising that the children of to-day will rapidly develop into individuals keen to learn and be taught, she will always be alive to the necessity of cultivating her own mind, and the work of self-education and improvement will go on for her while life lasts. It is absolutely necessary a mother should know how to care for the small bodies, but it is equally important she should understand and satisfy the unfolding intellects of her children. It is a painful spectacle, that of a mother who has allowed her children to outstrip her as thinking beings, and can no longer keep pace with them in their pursuits and interests.

The educated mother knows this, and will keep well in touch with all the interests of life. Religion, politics, social and philanthropic problems are all of absorbing interest to her, and she recognises she can keep her children's confidence, some of whom probably are cleverer then herself, only by habits of thoughtful interest in all which concerns humanity. Beyond this the educated mother will seek to prepare her sons and daughters for that trying period in their lives when, emerging from childhood, they stand on the threshold of woman and manhood, oppressed often by new, bewildering thoughts, and open to guidance in a peculiarly sensitive and receptive manner. For this critical period the mother has already prepared herself by her knowledge of laws human and divine, and she earnestly endeavours to be herself the guide of her developing children.

and concludes with the following remarks:

In conclusion, the influence and teaching of the educated mother is all for righteousness; and the formation in her children of character, based on self-control and self-sacrifice, the daily object of her life.

The Influence and Teaching of the Educated Mother By Mrs. Alfred Booth [Paper read at Bristol Conference of Women Workers. Reprinted by kind permission of Bristol Ladies' Association for the Care of Girls.] 1893/4 Parents Review Volume 4 pgs 081-090

It is this mother's desire to continue to educate herself through a classical study program. With the invention of the Internet, the canon of Western thought is now readily available and easily accessible. There is therefore no reason for this or any mother to not be able to continue to enrich and enlarge her education for any reason: whether cost, inconvenience, or lack of compansionship.

To help me accomplish this goal, I have formed a reading/discussion group on Yahoo. It is called the Arete Classical Study program and is open to anyone who desires to self-educate through a systematic reading of the great books of western civilization.

http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~cheps/arete/index.html