Tuesday, May 15, 2007

New Discoveries

Sometimes I crawl out of this rut I am in and stick my head out and look around a bit. Lately I've made a couple of pretty cool discoveries. They are probably not new to you, but I'm excited!

First of all, during a baseball tournament in St. Louis, I stopped by a mall to cool off and get a drink before the drive home. In the process I discovered a place called Teavana. They have cans stacked all over the place of every tea imaginable, and several I never would have imagined in my wildest dreams! They had the coolest gadget called a Perfect Tea Maker that is the neatest thing since.....radios in cars!

So, as you have figured, I had to take the plunge. I purchased the tea maker and three samples of tea. I've been having tea in the morning, tea at night, iced tea, hot tea, and it has been perfect every time. I liked it so much, I ordered two gift sets online for birthday presents, which were promptly delivered, wrapped and ready. I'm so happy I stumbled upon this place. I still will need to have my green tea with honey, and others here and there, but the novelty and taste will make Teavana a frequent stop.

Yes, discoveries is plural. There is (at least) another discovery to mention. It all started last fall when Ben met this nice girl and, well, he liked her. Quite a bit, in fact. So, here I am, getting headaches trying to figure out a gift for her for an upcoming event....it should be enough, but not too much, and personal, but not overboard.....a bit trickier than I would have thought had I not been the one with the headache. She had mentioned that she wanted a particular purse/tote bag, and Ben had already ordered it. So, I'm thinking to myself, "Think, think, think....how about something that will match? Yes! That's the ticket!" So, I headed to the nearest Vera Bradley retailer. Ben's girlfriend loves purses, especially Vera Bradley purses. Me? I get a solid, neutral purse that will last a long time, and when it breaks I replace it. The same purse goes with me to church, out to dinner, to the ballgame, to work, to shop.....you name it. It never changes. It doesn't matter how dressed up or dressed down I am. It is a very versatile purse. So, these Vera Bradley purses were way off my radar screen.

So, I'm shopping, and shopping.....apparently these purses come in many, many different styles in almost as many colors....and I liked it! I got Ben's girl a gift, then I added another purse as a graduation gift to the mix, then I found a beautiful frame for another gift...then I went back to the purses. When I finally left that joint, I mean, shop, I had this in tow for me:

Isn't it pretty?

Ah, well, I'm expanding my horizons.

Mother's Day Happenings

It was a good Mother's Day. It usually is not a big deal for me, as my mom has been gone for almost 11 years now. I typically spend it watching Ben play baseball and enjoy every moment while David and the other kids take his mom and grandma to lunch.

No baseball game this year, so I joined them at grandma's house for lunch. We got to visit with an old friend and meet his children. I was privileged to care for the babies at church during Sunday School and teach the children for Children's Church. I went to a baccalaureate service...actually the first one I have ever enjoyed! I even received some very nice gifts, including a gift certificate for a pedicure, some wonderful smelling bubble bath and lotion, and Jelly Bellies!

What made it extra special, though, were the kids themselves. Laina and her friend brought me breakfast in the nursery from the youth breakfast. Laina even brought a rose! Andy made me multiple cards and sent oodles of good wishes and hugs my way. Maggie, when asked what animal her mom is like, compared me to a dolphin because I am "fun and nice". (I am??? Please don't spread that around!)

And, to top it off, when I got home in the evening, there was a lovely spring cactus and a letter from Ben. At the risk of embarrassing him (he never reads this, so it's okay.), here it is:

Happy Mother's Day!

Dear Mom,

I love you.
Thanks for being there throughout all the years whenever I spontaneously have decided to commit random acts of stupidity.
I love you.
Thanks for taking me all over the midwest, spending your summertime getting burnt at the ballpark and chasing Andy away from the fence as he.....releases his bodily fluids. **
I love you.
Thanks for motivating me to try in school and other aspects of life.
I love you.
Thanks for telling me how much you love me.
I love you!


**fodder for another blog, another day

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Yes, they said it

Laina: Mom! There is a new Christian radio station and it plays great music! The only bad thing is, it is temporary.

Me: Temporary?

Laina: Yeah, it always says it is new, playing temporary Christian Music.......

(On May 7)
Me: Ben! Do you know what tomorrow is?

Ben: Tomorrow? Is it tax day?

Me: Tax day?

Ben: Yeah, April, um, 15th!

Me: Ben, what month is it?

Ben: April?

Me: No, Ben, it is May.

Ben: Really? May......hey! Tomorrow is Maggie's birthday!!!!!!!

Maggie: Finally!

Recent Happenings

Of course, it is May. Anyone with children knows May is nuts. Every class is testing, doing projects, reports, and essays, to finish up the year. Every organization is having their "end of the year" banquet and awards ceremony. High school spring sports are in full swing, and rec league baseball and softball are kicking off their seasons. Drama and Choir groups are performing. Piano lessons are having recitals. Maggie has a birthday. For that, everything else must stop. Well, at least for awhile.

Maggie is eight. I can hardly believe it. She is growing physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Tonight we took her and friends to pizza and a movie, finishing off the evening with some frozen custard. (YUM!) She got to pick out her own betta fish, which she promptly named "Gloria". Life for Maggie is good. It is too bad that at that age one can't fully appreciate it. Her softball season starts next week. I'm hoping to be pleasantly surprised.

Andy is all kinds of excited about being in real little league. He can pitch, catch, and play the field and it seems to matter more when all the coach does is tell you what to do from the dugout. Having another kid pitch makes all the difference. Andy is on the White Sox this year. Life is good for Andy. He is especially excited about going to camp this summer. Maggie gets to go, too. Wow....

Laina is mowing. Sometimes I come home and she has mowed for 5-7 hours straight. She likes it! I like it, too, but I get weary trying to keep up with 8 acres+. We used to have 40 acres, but it was full of woods, trees, pastures and we didn't mow so much of it. She will probably sleep for a week after her school finishes this year.

Ben is singing in choir, playing baseball (and doing well, I might add), and trying to finish his many reports and projects this week. He is very busy, but he always has time for his new best friend, a girl. Last weekend he dressed up in a tux and took his "friend that is a girl" to the Prom. They made an outstanding couple if I say so myself. Everywhere he goes, you can see little hearts floating out of his head.....ah, young "love".

We are all anxiously awaiting summer's "official" arrival. Swimming, berry pickin', gardening, ball playing....it's shaping up to be a winner!

We're Done!

Yippee, yippee, we have finished school for the year! I'm boxing up the used workbooks, organizing the reference books, and starting to prepare for next year. I'm thrilled! (Picture a jig being performed here) Now, as soon as the older two catch up, we can get on with our summer!

A Friend Loves......

"A friend loves at all times..."
Proverbs 17:17a

You've seen it on plaques, on plates, on coasters, on doors.....a friend loves at all times.

For much of my life, I would look at that verse and shake my head. I didn't get it. I just didn't know many folks like that.

A couple of years ago, I was doing a devotion with my older children about true friends. It was written by Joe White. True friends point you to God, help you make good decisions, encourage you, pray for you and with you. They never, ever, ask you to compromise your values to be their friend.

I really don't know about life in a large city. I grew up in a small town. Please don't misunderstand, I had good friends there. But most high school girls are pretty fickle, and my friends and I were not much different. In a small town, your friends are your schoolmates. To have a true, real friend in such a situation is such a blessing, but many folks don't experience that. It is often not until we reach adulthood that we can really choose who our friends are.

The whole "loves at all times" stumped me because I couldn't imagine having a friend that meant that much to me, or that would feel that way about me.

Now, I do. In fact, I have a few of them. I am thankful to the depths of my soul for such friends. They aren't many. Not the true ones. You know, the ones who are "safe". But they are, in the sense of the Velveteen Rabbit very real.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Name Droppin'

I've never considered myself the kind of person to be a name dropper. You know the type....when they rub shoulders with the rich or famous, they let you know. I recently discovered something, though. The reason I am not a name dropper is because I seldom have names to drop!

As I look back, I can recall being thrilled to tell people about the conversation I had with Andy Benes at my nephew's baseball game. He was a reliever for the Cardinals then, and we talked about that, his faith, and other things. It was cool.

My daughter got to talk to Mike Matheny at a youth baseball tournament, too. She was a huge fan then and still is.

Well, that is about it. Until last month. Last month a buddy of mine from high school had an important birthday. Well, I guess they all are important if you consider the alternative, but I digress. This is the guy I walked with when we were candidates for school Carnival King and Queen in second grade. This is the guy that became a huge part of our youth group. This is the guy for whom I prayed fervently when he had a very horrible, serious accident that would have claimed his life if not for the grace of God. We went on youth trips together. We went to Florida on our senior trip together. We were "buds". After high school, we stayed in pretty close touch until he left to pursue his dreams in Nashville. After that, as is the case with many high school buddies, correspondence was sporadic, at best. But he was working hard to make it in Christian music. He was very musically talented in high school, but his accident, which caused a lot of throat and neck damage, caused him not to be able to speak and breathe well. Over time, God performed unbelievable miracles on him, and, well, he more than "made it". He became a producer/engineer (among other titles) for some great contemporary Christian artists. He writes or co-writes songs I hear on the radio. God is using him in mighty ways.

Last month, four of us travelled to Nashville to surprise this buddy for his birthday. When Mitch walked in, the look on his face was priceless. I saw my face on pictures that were playing on screens around the room and was amazed to be included. As Mitch introduced us to his best friend, Matt from Jars of Clay. We got to meet a few members of that band, Andrew from Caedmon's Call, and many others. See? I am a name dropper. I talked to these guys who have been travelling around the country touring and they were all about their families, their yards, and just as normal as if I had been talking to my own neighbors. Definitely some Good Monsters. It was beyond cool. These are grammy winners. Mitch is a grammy winner. And he is still my bud. But now I can drop his name.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Oswald Chambers on Obedience

"The golden rule to follow to obtain spiritual understanding is not one of intellectual pursuit, but one of obedience. If a person wants scientific knowledge, then intellectual curiosity must be his guide. But if he desires knowledge and insight into the teachings of Jesus Christ, he can only obtain it through obedience. If spiritual things seem dark and hidden to me, then I can be sure that there is a point of disobedience somewhere in my life. Intellectual darkness is the result of ignorance, but spiritual darkness is the result of something that i do not intend to obey."

--July 27, "My Utmost for His Highest", Special Updated Edition, Oswald Chambers

Monday, April 09, 2007

He Took the Test and the Results Are In!

David took the test from the last blog. The results are in, and he is an.......
(drumroll, please)
ESFJ-"Seller". Most sociable of all types. Nurturer of harmony. Outstanding host or hostesses. 12.3% of total population.

Jung Personality Test (similar to Myers-Briggs/MBTI)

It seems rather appropriate, since he has been in sales all his life. Personalitypage.com has a lot of interesting insight into this personality type. We thought it was interesting that I require a lot of time alone, while he hates it. I love bucking the system, and he loves the security it provides. I tend to be a hermit, while he thrives on friends and family. It seems that when I am looking at life and situations with skepticism and distance, he has hearts coming out of his head with love for it all. I have the bare minimum of sentimental feelings, and he loves looking at yearbooks. (Picture eyes rolling here) No wonder I've never been to a class reunion and he, at one time, helped organize one.

I think the personality quiz brought some insight into past behaviors, and his desire to be a people pleaser, and his previous tendency to define the morals based on community and the world around him. I'm thankful that his moral code is now defined solely on Christ and His Word.

And David, the next time you bring up the fact that I share a birthday with Bill Clinton, expect to be reminded that you share his personality type! (ooohh....that would be a low blow....)

Hat tip to Staci for these links!

Personality Quiz?

ISTP - "Engineer". Values freedom of action and following interests and impulses. Independent, concise in speech, master of tools. 5.4% of total population.
Jung Personality Test (similar to Myers-Briggs/MBTI)
For a description of my personality type, you can look here. I'm not sure I agree. I kind of like tattoos. Some of them, anyway. I have actually been in a tattoo place with plans to get one, but ran out of time. I still may get one....an ichthus on my foot.....but, I digress....

My favored careers cover quite a range, from an aerospace engineer to running a bar. I really don't think I would like to run or own a bar. They tend to be sticky, smelly places, especially in the morning...not my thing at all. It also says I shouldn't be a teacher.....uh-oh.

This is a much more accurate description of me. I like phrases like "fiercely independent", "loyal", and "uncomplicated". Unfortunately, the bad stuff is a lot like me, too. And, I'm a bit of an odd duck, considering I'm only like a little over five percent of the population....but we all knew that. One thing is for sure, when these places describe ISTP's, they emphasize how important independence is to us. That is a big one. My mom always did say I was an "independent cuss", and she didn't even see the results of this analysis. Some other descriptions I found at discoveryourpersonality.com, typelogic.com, and personalitytype.com.
So, take the test yourself, check out your results at some of these websites, and see if you recognize yourself.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

More Pictures

After reflecting a bit about the small bit of resemblance between Maggie and me, I thought I would do a comparison. Here is Rebecca at age 7:

Here is Maggie at age 7:

Very little resemblance.

Oh, well. I endured her chaotic birth, so I know she is mine.

Also, a side note. If anyone has done worse at taking pictures of the kids numbers 2 on up than my folks, it is David and me. Were it not for wonderful shutterbug friends, we would be at a loss trying to remember what our kids used to look like. When we look at the pictures of them a few years ago, we are always amazed at how cute they used to be. Oh, they still are beautiful, especially to their mom, but as they grow, the cute becomes handsome or pretty. They are definitely that!

The Bunny

Easter is coming. I'm not one to minimize the reason we celebrate Easter. Christ came to atone for our sins. He suffered terribly. He was crucified. He died....for us. Most importantly, He rose again three days later to defeat sin and death forever for us. He was our perfect Passover Lamb. Praise Him!

Now that we have established why we celebrate Easter, and its importance, I'd like to chase a rabbit, so to speak. (Pun intended)

For any real chocolate connoisseur, there is only one bunny. Not the one on Veggie Tales, although I'm sure it is excellent. However, it is not a Dove Bunny.

The bunny, the bunny, oh I love the bunny.....

Don't Panic

Central Division Standings:

Milwaukee 2-0
Pittsburgh 2-0
Cincinnati 1-0
Chicago 0-1
Houston 0-2
St. Louis 0-2

(side note: This is from MLB. If you look at the Cardinals website, you'll see them in 4th place, for obvious reasons)

Don't worry....it is very early.

Old Pictures

Being the youngest of four has its advantages and disadvantages. Of course, there are all the obvious advantages of being the "baby", but one disadvantage is that there aren't very many pictures. The oldest usually has a picture of ....everything...at least until numbers 2 - 4 come.

This week my dad brought what is essentially all my childhood photographs. At least most of them. I have, maybe 10 or 20, and he has added 9 more. It is so fun to look at them, and compare them to our children. Anyone who knows us knows there is no resemblance to me in them (except maybe Maggie....a little), but they get a kick out of seeing mom at their age. So, here it goes. I have no idea how old I am in this, but it was my favorite:

This is my dad's favorite:

And I'll bore you with one more:


Recently overheard in our home......

"Wow, Mom! That fish (for supper) was really good! Was it a rare species?"
-- 9 yr old Andy
Um, no, it was tilapia.

"Dad, I'm sorry I only gave you fifty cents for your birthday, but, you know, I'm saving for a car."
-- 7 yr old Maggie

(On a language assignment, Maggie was supposed to write six things she considers beautiful):
1. Jewelry
2. Rainbow
3. The sky
4. Mommy (awwww....)
5. a good view
6. Hot boys


Friday, February 23, 2007

Homeschool for next year....

As I pondered homeschool needs for next year, I had a pleasant surprise awaiting me. I've done this before. I have "stuff" for the grades we are in. I just need to supplement with consumable items and change up a couple things I like better. Mercy, does it save $$ to be able to reuse. You know what the amazing thing is? I FOUND almost everything I needed. That is a miracle in itself, considering the large amount of unopened boxes that await me in my garage.

So, what's on for next year? Well, this will be a more mixed up year than any I have had. But, I'm really excited about it.

Bible: Drawing from Sonlight's 3/4 year, we will be doing the Indian Prayer Guide, Ricky and his Friends go to Africa (from another source), along with continuing studies of missionaires, Jesus Freaks, and reading through selected books of the Bible.

Math: We are going to try Horizons this year. So far, my favorite is Abeka, but I like the availability of Horizons, and I've liked what I've seen of it so far.

Language: Spelling: Spelling Workout
Phonics: Maggie will finish Explode the Code
Grammar: Winston Grammar, Sonlight
Writing: Maggie will finish Handwriting Without Tears, both will begin Classical Writing (on the recommendation of a great friend)

History: We will finish up Story of the World 2, do Story of the World 3, and start digging into some serious American History from Sonlight Core 3/4.

Latin: Latina Christiana