Category Archives: TV

Housework! Summer soup! Beef jerky! Computer viruses!

  • Fourteen upper cabinets.  Twelve lowers.  Fifteen drawers.  All cleaned, inside and out, sorted and re-organized.  Plus, as they don’t go all the way to the kitchen ceiling, the tops are cleaned off, as well as all the decorative items that reside up there.  ~sigh~  That is a sigh of exhaustion.  And relief.  In our nearly six years of living here, I have never done all of the kitchen cabinets in one fell swoop.  It had been nagging at the back of my brain daily, each time I took something out of a cabinet and saw an accumulation of crumbs, dust, and/or greasy grime.  Note:  Gel Gloss looks fabulous for about ten minutes, but then that gleaming shine washes off super-easily with soap and water!  Not great for quartz countertops in a kitchen that gets regular abuse use.  Bummer.  Anyone have a favorite stone countertop product they love??
  • Have you ever tried my Thai Chicken Noodle Soup?  I just updated the recipe.  I can’t believe it’s been almost four years since I originally posted the recipe.   The soup —  more of a meal-in-a-bowl than an actual soup — is a staple in our home, even in summer.  Lots of fresh veggies, tasty and fun.  Mmmm…
  • I turned seven pounds of London Broil into beef jerky the other day.  Smoky-garlic and soy-garlic.  It’s in preparation for our vacation.  Jerky comes in handy for snacks and meals-while-driving, as well as made into various recipes (which I learned from this fabulous cookbook for hikers/campers — it’s a shame it’s out of print!  One review says “Invaluable!  Wore out library copy — had to buy my own.”  That is exactly what I did!!)…  Anyway.  What wasn’t fit for jerky got put into a pot of what was supposed to be red chile stew.  Which it was, sort of.  But, I got enticed by a Really Big package of dried chile de arbol at the grocery store last week, and thought, “Oooh, those are the chiles in Cholula [my fave hot sauce],” and I bought it, really knowing nothing about them.  Well, it turns out they are REALLY HOT.  I removed the stems, seeds, and… pith (or whatever it’s called), and my hands burned for hours, even though I think I only used five chiles.  Also, the broth was SO HOT that I had to scoop out all the beef chunks and — sadly — drain the broth, which seemed like such a waste, but I knew if I kept it as it was, it would be inedible for my kids.  I added water to cover the remaining beef (to which some crushed chile still clung), added a chopped onion, sea salt, and about eight cloves of chopped garlic.  After it had simmered for nearly three hours, I thickened the cooked-down broth with some corn starch, and served it with some Spanish rice (which I had made earlier in the week) and some refried beans (from Trader Joe’s — my favorite).  It was good.  Still, lesson learned:  very judicious use of chile de arbol in the future.
  • My computer contracted a nasty virus, somehow, a few weeks ago.  It died.  Actually, it would power up, but Windows wouldn’t start.  The virus was called Windows Repair Module, which — obviously — was a fake.  How insidious.  I kept getting warnings from Windows, and it turns out that each time I clicked the “OK” button, I was unknowingly activating the .exe file associated with various aspects of the virus.  A friend of my husband’s took my hard drive home with him and worked on it every night for four nights.  He was able to pull most of my documents and pictures (THANK GOD!  I cried when I thought they were unretrievable), and save them to an external hard drive.  Then, he reformatted my hard drive.  Now, I just have to load a bunch of software that got wiped out… but that’s OK.  I then thanked my oldest son, Ethan, who will be 14 later this week.  Why?  Because “…with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  Ethan worked a hot and hard day at the home of a friend, laying tile and cleaning…  and with that measure of service and giving, it was returned to us, in the form of a repaired computer.
  • If you’re still reading… today is my birthday.  I am 38.  🙂  The only thing I really love about growing older is the history, the perspective that it brings to my life.  I freak out less, because I can say, “Look.  We had that really rough patch five years ago, and God brought us through.”  When I was younger, everything was new and untested, and every challenge threatened to topple me.  Now, I’ve had years of tasting God’s goodness, and seeing His faithfulness first-hand.  To me, that’s a really, really valuable birthday present.

Ten things I have enjoyed in the last few days

In no particular order:

  1. Fiala’s second birthday.  Precious girl.  We have no pictures because my camera is totally broken now, and the grandparents forgot theirs.  We had a simple cookout party with family at the park on Saturday.  Between Friday (her actual birthday), and Saturday, she received a grand total of three presents, each simple and inexpensive… but her face is such a delight when she receives a present.  I think she really understands the heart of gift-giving, and she feels so special and thankful, no matter what the gift is, which makes it all the more delightful to give something to her.
  2. Receiving new earrings in the mail.  Ordered from Mom Potter’s Etsy shop.  🙂
  3. The new Sherlock on PBS Masterpiece.  It was so wonderful!  I really enjoyed Benedict Cumberbatch (what a name!) on 2008’s The Last Enemy, aired on Masterpiece Contemporary last year, and he was even better as a 21st century Sherlock.  My husband wasn’t so convinced he’d like it — he’s a big fan of Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock portrayal.  But, about ten minutes into it, he said, “OK.  I’m hooked!”  Not giving too much away, but if you know the story of Sherlock Holmes, the one problem I had with the storyline/script is that it HIGHLY inferred that one character was so-and-so, but it turned out not to be the case, but another slightly lesser-known character.  I felt a tad manipulated, and I hate that in movies/TV shows.  Still.  It was really good.
  4. The cooler weather in Phoenix. Mornings in the 60s.  Days in the 80s or occasionally a bit lower.  ~sigh~  I’ve been waiting for this!!
  5. Getting a couple of bird mysteries solved, via a birding listserv I just joined.  Yes, that is a Eurasian Collared-Dove I saw;  as an introduced species, they are heading westward.  And, yes, Anna’s Hummingbirds can hybridize with Costa’s.
  6. Worship on Sunday.  It was so rich, both musically, and with the presence of God.  I couldn’t even sing, half the time.  Good thing I wasn’t on stage!  😉
  7. The author of the book I ghost-wrote signed her contract. This was after long weeks of (slow) negotiations.  She got some things altered for her benefit.  Good for her!!  Expected publication date is August 1, 2011.
  8. Our “new” entertainment center.  Our TV barely fits, but it does fit!  My hubby and oldest son spent a good portion of Saturday setting it up.  🙂
  9. The Jars of Clay Greatest Hits CD.  I have a couple of their CDs.  I’ve been a somewhat-fan over the years.  And, this CD is two years old, so I’m behind… (as always, with music)  But, what a great CD this is!!  I spied it at the library, and I’ve been greatly enjoying it.  All my kids like it, too.  I’ve been belting out the songs at the top of my lungs as we’ve traveled to and fro these last couple of weeks, as I’m familiar with all but three tracks on the CD.  It’s eminently singable.  I’m not normally a huge fan of retrospective type albums, but for someone like me, who enjoys Jars of Clay, but who does not own the whole collection of their discs, it’s perfect.
  10. My oldest son, Ethan.  He’s not a “thing”, but I have been so enjoying his growing-up.  He is 13.  In June, he stepped up to the youth group at our church, instead of the kids’ church…  He was unsure about the transition, but he’s really enjoying it now, and I think it has lent to his already-thoughtful nature, learning things and considering subjects that need some deeper maturity.  He’s a boy of few words, so it’s difficult to get a long conversation from him.  But, in our exchanges, I have been delighted in the evidence of his careful thought and kind consideration of those with whom (or of whom) he speaks.  He’s not perfect, of course, and there are a few things about him that make me wanna pull out my hair.  But — similar to my husband, of whom I have the same confidence — Ethan is faithful to work on the areas of his life’s garden which need weeding.  If you point out an error, he genuinely takes steps to improve, even if initially, he’s not all that receptive.  He’s a son to make a mother proud, and I love him so.

Genies, rugs, wishes, and work

I just shampooed a $1,000+ area rug in my driveway*.  It’s wool and silk.  I hope I didn’t ruin it!!  But, it was really only valuable to me if it was CLEAN.  Thus, one pass with (homemade!**) detergent, plus FOUR rinses.  The water was still black in the water-collection tank, and the rug could probably benefit from another four or five rinses, but my arm is about to fall off, and the fingers on my right hand are trembling from endlessly squeezing that dumb trigger to release the water.

For years, I had admired the rug in the lobby of  the office of my husband, Martin.  It’s the sort with deep, thick pile, and I could imagine sinking my toes into it.  Lovely, intricate design, too, though it appears that the exact model has been discontinued by the manufacturer (similar one at right).  But, my tastes almost always exceed my budget, so I’d simply gaze at it with a sigh and a dream…

Then, the company decided to redecorate its lobby, and offered all the items for silent auction to its employees.  Martin got the rug for $30.  Thirty bucks.

However, the thing was pretty dirty;  I doubt it had ever been cleaned.

As I was shampooing the rug, in the driveway, in 115°F weather, I got to thinking about how the rug sort of ties into some thoughts I was having about Yogi Bear.

My children were watching Yogi on Boomerang this morning, and a particular episode aired where Yogi and BooBoo found a genie’s lamp.  It got me to thinking that the whole idea that one could find an object that would grant all one’s wishes probably originated in the same quarter of the brain from which sprung the idea for lotteries.  In other words, the bit of one’s mind where you find yourself dreaming that someone would just drop several million dollars into your lap, thereby solving all your woes.  In other other words, the concept of something for nothing.

What a fallacy.

While spending some time studying simple machines with my older boys in science*** this year, it was impressed upon me, yet again, that you just can’t get something for nothing.  Sure, a block-and-tackle pulley system is going to make it loads (no pun intended!) easier, in a sense, to raise a heavy object a high distance.  But, the trade-off for the ease of function is that one has to pull and pull and pull and pull.  Yes, you obtain a mechanical advantage with the pulley, but you spend more time and pull more rope over a longer distance to obtain it.

Same with walking vs. running.  Did you know that you burn the same amount of calories walking a mile as you do running?  Running is faster (and harder on your knees).  So, you gain time — and perhaps also gain knee surgery — but you expend the same amount of energy.

My thought train, as I was endlessly shampooing the above rug, led me to think about being a stay-at-home mom.  Since we (essentially) live on one income, there are a great many things that I need to do with my own power, since we don’t have the money to hire it out, or buy it ready-made.  To wit,

  • the only time we ate out on our recent 11-day vacation was when someone saw us in church, admired our family, and slipped my husband a $50-spot with the instructions to take all of us out for lunch.  Otherwise, I made everything myself in the kitchen of wherever we were staying (or at home, in advance).
  • We love hand-me-downs and Freecycle.  I probably purchase new 10% of my children’s clothing, tops.
  • Since we started having children, lo these 13 years ago, we have never paid for someone else to do our yardwork.
  • I’ve never hired a maid or a cook, though I’d like to!
  • I spend extra time both in preparation, and while shopping, often driving to four or more grocery stores in one trip, so I can use coupons and store sales to the best advantage of my family’s food budget.

Really, the above list could go on pretty much endlessly.

The point is, I “pay” for being at home.  We have to economize.  Often, my “exercise” comes in the form of some difficult manual labor!  And, I can’t purchase $1,000+ area rugs!

But… I can purchase a formerly pricey rug, now used and dirty, and then spend a couple of hours in hard work cleaning it up.

Do you know what I mean?

It can be looked at from the other perspective, too:  If I worked outside of the home, I would likely have money to drop a couple hundred bucks each season at Old Navy, and my kids would be stylish and cute at all times.  I would be able to purchase $5 loaves of pre-made gluten-free bread.  Someone would come in and clean my house from top to bottom each week!  And so on…  But, at what price?

I know this sort of veers into another topic, but whilst purchasing groceries the other night, the cashier, the manager (it was at night;  he was helping to bag), and myself got into a conversation about mothers being happy that their kids are going back to school.  Truly, it was all I could do to hold back the tears.  I certainly have my challenges in parenting, and things often don’t go as smoothly as I’d prefer, and, golly, I’d like a few hours to just kick my feet up and read a novel, but I like my kids enough to want them to be home with me!!!!  Oddly, many mothers in America see their children as an interruption to their real life.  ~Ahem!!~  YOUR CHILDREN ARE YOUR REAL LIFE!!!!  I don’t want to pay the price of having someone else**** raise my own children just so I can have “me” time and have a house that perpetually stays clean because no one actually lives in it.

There’s no “something for nothing.”  Sure, you can have extra money, but it comes at a price!  Sure, you can have hours of “me” time, but that comes at a price, too!

Everyone pays a price;  it just depends on what your priorities are, how and where that price — time, energy, money, whatever — gets paid.

I will remember that, next time I look wistfully at commercials for “all inclusive” resorts or maid services, and the next time I see a cute outfit in a magazine that I could never buy…  🙂


* The actual price tag on it says $898, probably purchased a decade ago.  But when I was looking up the same carpets by the same manufacturer, the same model and size — even discontinued clearance ones — are today selling for $1,100 or more.

** I have re-worked my homemade laundry detergent recipe, and should be posting it, soon.

*** “Simple machines” would actually fall under physics, but it was in their science textbook;  thus, we studied it.

**** “someone else” meaning, the school system.

Haircut, a missed opportunity, vegan bread, Percy Jackson, and other stuff of VAST importance ;)

  • I got a haircut, the first one in nearly a year and a half, since BEFORE Fiala was born.  I like it, mostly.  Its about at my collarbone now, which is about a foot shorter than it was, but I wish it was a bit shorter.  I also rather wanted bangs, but the guy who does my hair (the last heterosexual male hairstylist in Scottsdale, almost certainly, and the only person who has cut my hair in my 15 years of marriage) said that it would make me look too “soccer-mommish” and that every 30-something mom has chin-length hair with bangs, so he wouldn’t do chin-length-with-bangs on me.  He says that now, my hair is “sophisticated” but it’s not quite the funky kind of style I was looking for.  I gave him too much artistic license.  I knew my hubby would like the cut, though, and he does.
  • Pantene detangling spray is WELL worth the 80¢ above the price of Suave kids detangling spray.  Take it from my 3yo daughter.  I mean, take her word on it.  Don’t take the spray!  (I think it must have been on sale… it was $2.59 at Target, but online, it’s selling for $4-5 or so.)
  • My Dad is coming to stay with us for a week.  He arrives on Wednesday.  It’s a mostly-business trip, so we won’t see him during the day.
  • Kicking myself for a missed opportunity:  I saw a former good-acquaintance/almost-friend who works part-time at Costco, and we chatted a bit.  I asked her what was going on, and she said, “Well, I’m just trying to figure my life out.”  Golly, what an open door!  Did I ask her about her relationship with Jesus??  No.  Did I invite her back to church??  No.  Did I even really express interest in who she is and how she’s doing??  I hope so, but I thought of 13 billion other/better/different things I could have said or asked, after I left the store.  Bummer.
  • I like Chopped.  I also really like America’s Best Dance Crew, but I don’t often get to watch it, because my hubby is extremely careful to not watch anything with scantily-clad women on it, and some of the outfits are pretty spare, to be certain.  It’s also on at 11 p.m. here, so I should be in bed, instead of watching TV.
  • We’re doing “Spring Break” this week.  I’d rather do EASTER break, but I didn’t want to wait another 2-3 weeks until we had a break;  I need one.  Plus, my boys always appreciate when their breaks are concurrent with the neighborhood kids’.  Today, I spent cleaning and working on the book I’m ghost-writing.  It was a really good day, actually.
  • I am working on a bread that is gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, corn-free, plus-other-random-stuff-that-Fiala-is-allergic-to-free.  I based it off of a recipe I found, but my results, so far, are not nearly as attractive as hers.  Still, I have been highly encouraged at the taste and texture of the bread I’ve produced;  it’s actually good.  Now, I just need to get the exact right amount of moisture, so that it will poof up like real bread, and not be flat across the top, a là banana bread.  I’ve baked seven loaves so far, experimenting with varying ingredients and pan sizes… I’m close!  I’ll post a recipe, once I get it perfected.
  • On Friday, on the way home from the library, I was talking with my 12yo son who was sitting up front with me in the truck.  “That’s the problem with new libraries, I guess:  They’re mostly stocked with new books, and most of the newer literature for kids and teens…”  I paused, looking for an adequate-but-kind word.  “Are junk,” he helpfully filled in for me.  Yes, junk.  That’s the bane of the popularity of Harry Potter:  LITERALLY 80% of what is on the library shelves right now are books and series that are Harry-Potter-wannabes, all full of evil and sorcery and disaffected kids looking for POWER in all the wrong places.  😦
  • Sort of along those lines, I took Ethan to see Percy Jackson and the Olympians last night.  We both THOROUGHLY enjoyed ourselves.  There were several suggestive parts — looks and turns of phrase — that I would have rather my almost-13yo son not see, but other than that, it was so good.  Knowledge of Greek mythology:  very helpful.  “Who’s the guy who ferries souls across Styx?” I asked.  “Charon,” he immediately answered.  On our drive to the movie, I told him how I would SO much rather him see a movie based on Greek mythology — which is obviously not Christian — than to have him immerse himself in the quasi-spiritual, morally relativistic, yin-and-yang, subversive, “let’s all be friends with our enemies” crap of Avatar, which was his first choice.

Happy endings (or not)

I like it when books and movies aren’t necessarily tied up neatly with a satin bow at the end;  I like when there are a few question marks unanswered, and the finish leaves you with a little room for wonder and conjecture.  In other words, me ‘n’ chick flicks do not get along.  However, I don’t like tragedies, either, where everything is unrelentingly bleak, everybody dies, relationships are broken and left unmended.

Earlier this year, Martin and I watched, in three weekly installments, Tess of the D’Urbervilles on PBS’ Mastperpiece Theater.  (Note — spoilers, sort of, ahead.)  I started out thinking that it was Dickensian, with everyone’s lot in life apparently sad and destined for disaster, but with hope, redemption, justice, and a rich uncle glimmering around the corner.  I kept waiting for it… waiting for it…  Nope.  No one was redeemed.  The inheritance never showed up.  The plights of all were destined for disaster.  I recall watching it, wholly unacquainted with the story and realizing only at about 90% of the way through it, that there was no way that the story was going to be pulled out of the hole that Thomas Hardy had dug.  Martin and I both felt totally slimed at the serial’s end, and we turned to each other and said in unison, “Well that sucks,” as the credits rolled.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter to me what kind of social commentary Hardy was attempting, or even accomplishing.  I felt as manipulated by his pessimistic literary devices as I do when watching an unrelentingly, unrealistically sappy and happy chick flick.

After being totally delighted by all of Jane Austen’s works last year, I decided to work my way through the Brontë sisters’ books.  It’s been much more hit-or-miss.  Villette — unsatisfying and a tad creepy (but, hey, there’s a free e-book download, here!).  Jane Eyre — beautiful and satisfying, perfect in many ways, though the plethora of fortunate, plot-advancing coincidences maddened me.

Now, I’m reading Wuthering Heights.  I’m about 40% of the way through it, and it’s starting to smack of Tess.

At the wonderful book club I’m a part of (wonderful because of the ladies involved — enough alike to thoroughly enjoy each other’s company, yet dissimilar enough to have rousing discussion, unique perspectives, and disagreement), we discussed Jane Eyre last Saturday, and my friend Erin was “outed” by our friend Allison as someone who reads the end of the book first.  I was shocked.  😀  Though I understand her reasoning — she would rather enjoy a more leisurely and thorough reading of the book, than fly through it just to see how the story is resolved — I don’t think I have ever, ever done that.  Seems book-sacreligious or something.

Oddly enough, though, Emily Brontë included a family tree (of the characters) at the beginning of the Wuthering Heights, revealing many of the shockers on the outset.  But… I am, again, wholly unacquainted with the story itself, and I have found myself referring continually to that family tree, thinking, “He marries her???  How does that come to be???  She dies when???  Tragic.  Oh, look, her death coincides with the birthdate of her daughter.  She dies in birth.  Oh…”

So, in a way, it’s like reading the last few chapters.  At least, that’s what I’m telling myself, trying to convince myself it wouldn’t be so bad to read the last few pages of the book, because I don’t want to invest myself in it and have the story turn out to be a tragedy.  And,  Emily Brontë already told us a good 90% of the story, there on the first page!

However, if you’ve read it, don’t tell me the outcome.

I probably won’t skip ahead.  I’m going to be really upset, though, if it’s all pessimistic at the end.

Jack’s Big Music Show is the new-old Austin City Limits

Recently, we — thanks to my 2yo Audrey’s insatiable appetite for Noggin — started watching Jack’s Big Music Show.  (See the page on Wikipedia, too!  It’s great for episode info.)  I’ve decided that Jack’s Big Music Show is very much like a preschool version of the  “old format” Austin City Limits, when ACL … limited itself to American roots music:  roots rock, folk, blues, old-style country, and various high-quality music that was impossible to stuff into a genre.  But, now that ACL changed its standards and is populated by the likes of Coldplay and Jamie Cullum (who are fine musicians;  I just don’t think they belong on a show that was created to celebrate American roots music), those roots muscians, apparently, have to find an outlet on shows like Jack’s Big Music Show

In one episode, Jack was “playing” electric guitar, and I thought, “That sounds like Buddy Guy!”  (I’m not an expert on blues, but I have always loved the tone of Guy’s guitar.  And, Buddy used to be a regular on ACL.)  And, sure enough, in walks Guy with his polka-dot Strat.

On yesterday’s episode, which was surely a rerun, there was some absolutely fantastic music.  I wasn’t familiar with either of the musicians, but now…  I’ve been combing the internet — YouTube, especially — for both Andrew Bird and Nuttin’ But Stringz.  I absolutely loved both spots on Noggin…  Those men belong on Austin City Limits, but until then, Noggin and YouTube will suffice.  😀

(Apparently, Nuttin’ But Stringz was on America’s Got Talent, but I don’t watch shows with incorrect grammar.  Just kidding.  I have seen, I think, half an episode of America’s Got Talent, but David Hasselhoff drives me nuts, and not in a good way.)

*Please* view these, especially the Nuttin’ But Stringz clip.  It’ll blow you away.  Well, it’ll blow you away if you like the same kind of music I do, and/or if violin-based hip hop sounds intriguing to you.

Nuttin’ But Stringz does Thunder on Jack’s Big Music Show:

Andrew Bird as “Dr. Strings”:

(Of note, Andrew Bird did, apparently, perform at the 2007 Austin City Limits Music Festival live, but to my knowledge, has never been on a episode of the TV show.)

Astronaut babies!

When I was pregnant with our first girl, Audrey, the three boys began to watch TV a little differently.  Commercials for products aimed at girls which they had for years routinely mocked began to elicit such remarks as, “We better not make fun of it.  Our sister might like that…” said with a curious mixture of awe, disgust, and wonder.

What we didn’t count on were the super-excited reactions to commercials like this:

(Click for an .mpg — hat tip to this guy, who worked on the animation, for the still graphic.)

ASTRONAUT BABIES!!!”  Audrey squeals at ear-splitting decibels, running up the to the T.V., getting as close as possible.  She loves all the Astronaut Baby commercials, watching them in tickled fascination.  Clearly, she’d like one for a pet.  Or, just to hug one.  “Awww…. astronaut babies…  so cute!!”

Upon searching the Cox Communications website, I find that their official name is “Digis,” not Astronaut Babies.  But, Audrey’s pet name is quite fitting, dontcha think?

Small (but important!) things

  • My friend Lisa has a blog!!!  How could I not know this???  Please go visit.  I’m sitting with coffee cup in hand, reading the last five months of posts.
  • Precious, beautiful sweetie with round cheeks

    Precious, beautiful sweetie with round cheeks

    My baby slept through the night last night!!!!!  Woo hoo!!  From 10:00 until 6:45.  Actually, I had a feeling that once her boogy nose cleared up and she could suck her binky without me assaulting her with saline drops and the bulb syringe, she’d sleep more soundly.  Sure enough…

  • Speaking of Fiala, as of Tuesday, she was 13 lbs 13 oz, at 11 weeks.  That puts her in the 97th percentile.  I know those percentiles aren’t the Gospel, but lemme tell ya, after my last two children have had serious digestive problems which, among other things, keeps them very small, to have a chubby baby in the 97th percentile makes me very happy.
  • FANTASTIC story on the front page of the Arizona Republic this morning about Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner and his faith in God.  Plus, it’s written by Paola Boivin, who has been writing on sports for the Republic for… five or seven years.  She’s fabulous.  Here’s an excerpt:  “During a visit to The Oprah Winfrey Show, Warner “basically had three sentences to say, so, in the middle one, I made sure I mentioned my faith, because how could they cut it out?” he said. “I went to watch the show on replay . . . and they cut it out!””  (That also says lots about Goddess/Queen of the World and “Spirituality” Oprah…)
  • YOU MUST READ THIS BOOK.  As a homeschooling family in our seventh year, we have hundreds of books.  We have read hundreds more, from our countless trips to the library.  There have been only a handful that have been 10-star books that absolutely take my breath away.  This is one.  Rachel Field’s Calico Bush.  It has everything:  page-turning adventure, history, rejection, redemption, tenderness, relationship, God, glorious nature, hardship, reward, surprises… all unfolding in the most beautiful poetic prose.  And, I absolutely adore when a book wraps up the loose ends only 90% or so.  I mean, enough of the blanks filled in so that you’re not totally left hanging, but with enough unanswered that it leaves room for wonder, conjecture, imagination, conversation, and a wish for just a wee bit more.
  • We have had our ’94 Suburban since 1999.  We own it outright, and it has served our growing family faithfully lo these many years.  After my hub’s commuter car died last year, instead of replacing it, he got a “new” vehicle for me, a 1999 Ford Expedition (with the 3rd seat, of course!), and started commuting in our 14 mpg Suburban.  The reason for this is that, since we own it outright, it was still cheaper to drive than a new vehicle for which we’d need to make payments.  But, the decrepit Suburban, which has OVER 200,000 miles on it, is surely and not-so-slowly dying, and we are loathe to sink more money into it.  So, we’ve been researching other vehicles.  Ones that get reasonable gas mileage, are in good repair, hold seven people, is a vehicle we can take camping/down a dirt road  (and hopefully have 4WD/AWD) and cost less than $10,000 are hard to find.
    2003 Volvo XC90

    2003 Volvo XC90

    We are leaning toward a Volvo XC90, probably a 2003 or ’04.  We have a friend who had an ’04 and he said it regularly got 24 mpg, even though that’s not what it’s officially rated.  We’ve found one that meets our requirements (and several additional ones around $12K), and now we just need to find the money.  Seriously, we have no idea where the $$ will come from.  But, I’m praying.  I’ve been praying for months, actually, for God to meet our transportation needs.  I don’t know, of course, if we will actually get the car we want, but I am absolutely certain that God is faithful to take care of us, and that we are not going to be stranded with no vehicle.  🙂

Grant’s Big Day as a TV Baseball Commentator

This is actually a temporary post, because I’m going to wait until I can link to his article in the AZ Republic (which won’t be out until Wednesday).  I also wish I could watch his broadcast first, but we won’t get the DVD until Thursday or Friday.

But, for now, suffice it to say that the day exceeded everyone’s expectations;  it was absolutely fabulous.

More to come!

Live in AZ? Love baseball? Homeschooled?

My 8yo son, Grant, is finishing copying an essay, one which he wrote with surprising clarity, and with motivation and haste.  His reason for writing?  To win a slot as a KidKaster, where he would get to go on T.V. for a half-inning and do play-by-play at an Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game.

Grant is quite a ham, and speaks very well, plus loves baseball;  I think he’d be a natural for this.

So, I turned the required essay (max. 100 words) into an English assignment.

My 10yo, Ethan, is an even bigger baseball fan, but has no desire to go on T.V., so he declined.

The contest awards one winner per month, for the next six months.  The rules (of which there are an unfortunately great many, written in lawerese) are a little unclear, but it appears that each submission must contain a new essay, if your child enters more than once.  Additionally, they are essentially running it as six separate contests, and there are specific dates within one must submit the entry form and essay for each award date.

So.  There are a fair number of hoops to jump through, but if Grant wins, it will be worth it.

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