Thursday, July 31, 2008

On the road

Today Patrick, Andrew and I made a road trip to Wisconsin. We spent a long seven and a half hours in the car, most of that trying to get through Chicago. (Have I mentioned lately how glad I am not to live in the Chicago 'burbs anymore?) We had a nice afternoon visit and delicious supper with Susan and family.

Tomorrow we'll get to have more fun time with our friends and then Saturday we'll be picking Jonathan up from Lakeland College, where he has spent the week at music camp. Saturday evening we'll arrive back home.

Bethany did more domestic stuff today while I was gone, maybe she'll tell you about it. Or maybe she'll tell you about taking her cat to the vet.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Bread

I have, at various times, attempted to incorporate bread baking into my schedule. For one reason or another it always falls by the wayside. The usual reason is time. I don't know why I'm always short of time, but I am.

I got a book today that I'm really excited about. The title is Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. If it works as promised--and the reviews are good--I should have time to make bread. If I can't squeeze in five minutes a day for bread, I need to make some major changes.

I know this isn't the same as mixing, kneading, etc., and maybe some day I'll have time for that, but for now, this may give us fresh bread.

A tad bit annoying

A tad bit. It's just a little pet peeve. A teeny, tiny one. No one needs to take offense, because as far as I know none of you say this.

It is a tad or a bit. Not both. Both are nouns. Using both is redundant.

How do these things spread and become so ubiquitous? I've heard people use this from time to time and had hoped it was a local tic, but today I heard it on TV.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Weight-loss challenge

You would never guess it from the dinner we had tonight, but I am in competition with my step-sister Brenda, my step-brother's wife Rose, and my nephew Michael to see who can lose the most weight before we head to Florida in December. A pedicure is on the line!

Anyway, I was just feeling amused thinking about how much joy they would get out of what I had for dinner tonight, because I think I gained five pounds.

Dinner!


Bethany and I cooked two new recipes tonight. They turned out very well.

The first was zucchini cakes. Thanks again Pioneer Woman! We have so much zucchini and the zuke cakes followed two loaves of zucchini bread today. Ours were a bit thinner than PW's, but they were yummy! We were thinking of the different ways they could be served. We are planning to try them next baked with marinara and cheese.

The other recipe was four cheese risotto. It wasn't the perfect risotto that I need to complete my list, but it was good. The cheeses in the recipe were gorgonzola, fontina, taleggio, and parmesan. (We used reggiano.) I think next time I'll use smaller amounts of one or two rich cheeses. As I was cooking it I was thinking of all of the wonderful things I could throw in a risotto. My one issue was that it took well over 30 minutes and a lot of extra liquid to get the rice not to be crunchy. Your feedback would be wonderful!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A free weekend

I have a suddenly free weekend in August.

Since free weekends don't come around often, it's somewhat welcome. But it's also a disappointment, because I was supposed to be at my 25 year class reunion that weekend.

It's not even that I was all that excited about the reunion. I've come to feel pretty ambivalent about it, but I spent quite a bit of time working on it over the past year, and when it got to the deadline for reservations I had 13 paid reservations for a graduating class that ended up somewhere just shy of 400.

There are a couple of friends that I was hoping to see, and we may go ahead and meet up for dinner. Or maybe we'll keep the free weekend.

Friday, July 25, 2008

The. Best. Concert. Ever.

Wow. Just wow.

We saw Rush at the Verizon Wireless Center--which we will forever call Deer Creek--last night. It was my fifth Rush concert. The first three were in the '80's; the fourth was last year.

This one was the best. It may have had something to do with the fact that it was the final show in their two year Snakes and Arrows tour. The energy was tremendous, and Geddy Lee's voice was the best I've ever heard it. They hit all of the high points, opening with Limelight and closing with Tom Sawyer, just like last time, but the additions of Red Barchetta, The Trees, and The 2112 Overture and Temples of Syrinx were a huge treat. There was a great balance of the new from Snakes and Arrows and old favorites like the aforementioned, Subdivisions, XYZ, Witch Hunt and more.

This was the first concert for Jonathan and Andrew. It will be a tough act to follow. I've been to lots and lots of concerts, but Rush is hard to touch for sheer talent and last night was extraordinary.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

RUSH again

One of the highlights of last summer was a trip to see Rush at the Verizon Wireless Center north of Indianapolis.

If you don't really know me, and didn't follow that link, you are most likely thinking that I'm somehow going to see Mr. Limbaugh. Wrong Rush. Although, I do like that Rush, too.

Colin and I are longtime fans of this Rush:

Last year Bethany and Patrick went with us to the concert. This year Jonathan and Andrew are joining us, too. They all wanted to go badly enough to buy their own tickets. The concert was supposed to have been in June, but the storms out west required a bit of date swapping, so we got an extra month of anticipation.

It is a gorgeous day and the concert is at an outdoor amphitheater. It's my favorite concert venue. I just have to get my house at least a little bit cleaned up before we go, because we'll have company when we get home.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

More berries

We picked more blueberries today. It was a lovely day. We had breezes, temperatures in the 70's, and lots of fat juicy berries. We brought home 14 more pounds of blueberries. The last picking was 13 pounds and we ate them all. Some of this picking needs to make it to the freezer!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Once a homeschooler

Bethany's college classes don't start up again until late August, but she is hard at work. She's teaching herself Latin.

When we first discovered that Latin knowledge was required for the graduate program that she is interested in I was really disappointed. She's starting her senior year. Her schedule is full. She can't take Latin. She'll have to change her plans.

She, however, saw it differently. She asked me to help her find a Latin curriculum. While we waited for it to arrive she found some websites to help her get started. She is making quick progress and I have no doubt that she will have the necessary Latin knowledge for grad school.

I realized yesterday that Bethany, in nine years of unschooling, from fourth grade through high school, learned a very important lesson that I had nearly forgotten: A class is not a necessary ingredient for learning. Neither is a teacher.

Oh, yeah.

Monday, July 21, 2008

God's own child

We just came home from a funeral. The struggle of Vivian's short life and the sadness of seeing that impossibly small casket were real. But, thanks be to God, so was the truth of the Sermon and the joy of the hymn.


God's own child, I gladly say it:
I am baptized into Christ!
He, because I could not pay it,
Gave my full redemption price.
Do I need earth's treasure many?
I have one worth more than any

That brought me salvation free
Lasting to eternity!

Sin, disturb my soul no longer:
I am baptized into Christ!
I have comfort even stronger:
Jesus' cleansing sacrifice.
Should a guilty conscience seize me
Since my Baptism did release me
In a dear forgiving flood,
Sprinkling me with Jesus' blood?

Satan, hear this proclamation:
I am baptized into Christ!
Drop your ugly accusation,
I am not so soon enticed.
Now that to the font I've traveled,
All your might has come unraveled,
And, against your tyranny,
God, my Lord, unites with me!

Death, you cannot end my gladness:
I am baptized into Christ!
When I die, I leave all sadness
To inherit paradise!
Though I lie in dust and ashes
Faith's assurance brightly flashes:
Baptism has the strength divine
To make life immortal mine.

There is nothing worth comparing
To this lifelong comfort sure!
Open-eyed my grave is staring:
Even there I'll sleep secure.
Though my flesh awaits its raising,
Still my soul continues praising:
I am baptized into Christ;
I'm a child of paradise!

LSB 594

Text: Erdmann Neumeister, Trans. Robert Voelker

Tune: Johann Caspar Bachofen





Saturday, July 19, 2008

And this, too....

I have mentioned before how much I love Touchstone magazine. Those of you who know me well know I'm a history buff. And some of you know how I've struggled to find history curriculum that I feel comfortable with.

Touchstone has a piece this month on one very popular history book used by many homeschoolers. It explains quite well the problem with this book and many other history books available from popular homeschool publishers.

Ruminating on homeschooling

When I'm feeling blocked, I go blog surfing. There are certain blogs that always make me think, and a visit to one of them led me on a round of blog reading that leads me to this post.

I visited Dana's blog and she was talking about a post on Dangitbill! about his recent trip to his first homeschool convention and his encounter with the radical side of homeschool culture. Then I popped by Spunky's place to see what her take on it was.

I have been to a couple of statewide homeschool conventions. I look at the books. I talk to people I run into. But I have been to very few sessions. Many of them, especially the main speakers, come at homeschooling from a religious perspective that is at odds with our theology. Many of them see homeschooling as something that is Christian, must be done by Christians, for proper Christian reasons, and in proper Christian ways. Many of them see homeschooling as something you do to keep your kids out of the evil public schools. And they wouldn't mind keeping the non-Christians out of homeschooling, too.
In like manner, the homeschool movement must decide whether it will work to advance a specifcally Biblical vision, or take a “big tent” approach that is now comfortable and uncontroversial - and lose the covenantal vision.
What they don't seem to realize is that they were never the totality of the homeschool movement and with each year they are a smaller part. I have worked hard for over ten years to help build the big homeschool tent, and in spite of false witness from some in their camp, we are seeing the big tent get more and more full.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Blueberry picking


This morning we went to pick blueberries. I was hoping to get about 20 pounds, but we only came home with 13.5. Oh, there were plenty of berries, but it was hot. Really hot. And humid.

It wasn't bad at first, but as the time passed we all were feeling it. I wasn't wanting to be the first to wimp out. Bethany saved me from having to wimp out by having a medical emergency. Unfortunately, I missed most of it.

After a little over an hour of blueberrying, Bethany said that she was hot and not feeling well. I gave her the keys and told her to go start the car and sit in the air conditioning. A few minutes later, I decided that I was hot and it didn't matter how many blueberries we had; I was ready to go. So I started gathering the boys and we went and paid for our berries. When we got to the car Bethany was reclined in the seat and still not feeling very well. She was pale and flushed and really clammy. She seemed a little disoriented. I was concerned, but she seemed to be cooling off and was improving as we drove away.

Then I found out what I missed. (I'm hoping she'll describe this later in her own inimitable way.) As she began to walk back to the car she lost her vision, had ringing ears, and actually collapsed on the ground along the side of the drive. She could hear people passing by but no one stopped to check on her. After a minute or two--she's not sure how long--she was able to see and made her way to the car and got it started. She then put water on her forehead, the backs of her knees, and under her arms and let the air blow in them. She doesn't remember any conscious thought about this being good action to take. She just did it.

I am really thankful that she is okay. This heat exhaustion came on her very suddenly and sounds like it was perilously close to heat stroke. If I had had any clue that she was that hot I would have gone with her to the car, but as she explained to me, she wasn't feeling that awful until she got part way to the car.

We may go back next week to get a few more berries. Bethany will be taking it easy for a few days.

Wild snappies

My snapdragons are wild. Really wild. I planted one yellow snapdragon about five years ago. From that we have gotten these:


As you can see in the center photo, they are coming up all over, even between the flagstones in the path.

An extra side note: Am I crazy that I can't pull the snappies that are coming up in the path and in the crevice between the patio and the house? Anything else would be treated as a weed, but these are soooo gorgeous!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Pirate Christian Radio, Issues, and podcasts

I am notoriously slow to figure out technical things. I blog on Blogger because it's easy. Istill have problems with the DVD player and DVR. I wanted an iPod for ages, but put off getting one because then I would have to figure out how to download music and load it.

I always listened to previous shows from the Issues, Etc. archive via audio stream from the website. This time, I figured that with all the work that went into getting Issues back on the air, the least I could do was figure out how to listen to it via iTunes or on my iPod.

It took me a few tries. I'm not sure if I could tell anyone how to do it. (In fact, I'm fairly certain I couldn't!) But I did it and it is sooo worth it. My next goal is to figure out the other shows available on PCR and start listening to those, too.

Now that I can have them on my iPod, I may have some more incentive to work out!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Zucchini Cookies

I should have thought of this when I was posting about them!

1 c. butter
2 c. sugar
2 eggs
2 c grated zucchini
4 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
2 t. cinnamon
2 t. cloves
1 t. salt
1 c. nuts (I used pecans, but have also had these with walnuts)
1 c. raisins (you can cook them in a small amount of water to plump them. Grandma did. I don't usually.) We substituted choc chips last time and it was delicious. Or, do 1/2 raisins & 1/2 chips.

Cream together the butter, sugar, & eggs. Mix in the zucchini. Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl and then mix them into the butter mixture gradually. Mix in nuts, raisins or choc. chips.

If you chill the dough the cookies will be a little more "moundy." If not, they will spread a little more. Scoop onto cookie sheet and bake at 375. (Sorry I don't have a time, but they should be slightly browned.)

If you want to frost them--and they are good either way--

2 T. milk
confectioners sugar
3 T. butter, slghtly browned

This and that

I love a good Lutheran wedding. Each wedding I go to leaves me with a favorite moment. My favorite moment during this wedding was during the vows. All of the pastors looked so happy! Two of them were absolutely beaming! Also, I was extremely impressed with the caterer that did the reception. The food was excellent and you could tell he took pride in his work. So if you need a caterer in Fort Wayne, give Splendid Fare a call!

My summer is going too fast. My projects are all partially done. My house is a wreck. And it's coming up on canning time. We're going blueberry picking this week. In addition to making some blueberry jam and freezing LOTS of berries I'm going to make some blueberry syrup. We are getting a bumper crop of zucchini and we are going to have tons of acorn squash, so I probably will be pureeing and freezing some of that. I'm almost glad the tomatoes are running late! I planted some Romas this year for sauce, and another variety that is supposed to be good for juice. Then we have two volunteer cherry tomatoes and three bushes of heirloom slicing tomatoes.

Today I'm making some zucchini cookies to use up a couple of monster zukes that got away from us over the weekend. Last year we added some mini chocolate chips to them. Awesome!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Just some news (and a bit of commentary)

This story shows that the American people are at least paying some attention. I want to know what the nine percent who think Congress is doing a good job are smoking!

Jesse, Jesse, Jesse. Did you really think you could get away with it? Oh wait. You are. Can you imagine what would be happening right now if a Republican had expressed a desire to castrate the presumptive Democrat nominee? (If you haven't actually seen the video, you need to watch it and watch Jackson's gesture.)

Global warming leads to fatness. And skinniness. And Giant Spiders. And shrinking spiders. Road rage. Polite drivers. And, oh yeah...growing glaciers.

What do you think about T. Boone Pickens' plan?

That's about what I can come up with between Vacation Bible School this week and a wedding this weekend.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Ten years ago and more

Rebellious Pastor's Wife Tagged me for this one. Good thing, because I am tired and feeling a bit blocked today.

What was I doing ten years ago?

I was in the process of getting settled in a new area. We had just moved to Columbus, Indiana a couple of months before, so I was finding out about things like homeschool groups, choir for Bethany, soccer teams, etc. Andrew, who was two, spent most of the summer in a figure-eight brace for his broken collarbone. Colin was working Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday morning in Chicagoland and then coming home to Columbus for the rest of the week. Bethany was away at camp in Wisconsin.

What are 5 things on my to-do list for tomorrow?
(tomorrow is very abnormal)

VBS
Have company (my in-laws and Sean & Anne are coming)
Send an overdue birthday card
Give myself a pedicure
Send email to some of my high school classmates about reunion plans

Snacks I enjoy:

Triscuits & cheese, fruit, homemade cookies

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:

Fund college for my kids & nieces & nephews
Buy a condo on the beach in Florida and open it up to our friends and family
Buy a big lake house and open it up to our friends and family
Build a house in the country with a wonderful gourmet kitchen and room for everyone to come over
Rehab houses and sell them with no interest loans
Give lots to charity

Places I have lived:
Indiana: Decatur, Anderson, Bloomington, West Lafayette, Columbus, Fort Wayne
Illinois: Lake in the Hills, Vernon Hills, Island Lake, Spring Grove
Topeka, Kansas
New Berlin, Wisconsin

Jobs I have had:
Wendy's
Dormitory Food Service
Movie theater: Concessions
Usher
Assistant Manager
Bookstore Clerk (Three different times/places)
Banquet Server (Two times/places)
Shoe Department Sales/Assistant Manager
Department Store Receiving
Cocktail Waitress
Bartender
Weight Watchers Leader
Market Research Interviewer
Waitress
Tutor
House cleaner
Real Estate Agent
Independent Sales Rep (Books)
Real Estate Assistant
Mystery Shopper
Self-employed

Six people who I would like to know more about:

I know this has made the rounds pretty well, but here are a few possibilities:
Bethany
Beth
Mel
Julie






Monday, July 07, 2008

Like those twisty light bulbs?

My friend Cheryl has a great video clip on her blog of Representative Ted Poe of Texas talking on the floor of the house about what's wrong with the Clean Energy Act of 2007.

That reading challenge

I've had to do some more tweaking of my reading challenge lists. I got rid of the "Old Friends" category and added current fiction, which is almost finished. I have a huge long list of new books that I want to read, almost none of which are on my lists, but I am determined to read some of the books that I started out with.

I need to get busy on reading my classics. I'm going to be done with my non-fiction list plus a couple of extras soon. Since I read five or six books at one I tend to finish several in a couple of days.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

You can tell those homeschoolers...

My three boys waiting for the food before the symphony:


I'm especially loving seeing Andrew, my youngest, reading like this. He hasn't been quite as interested as his siblings in reading for pleasure. In this picture he was reading Cheaper by the Dozen, and I was delighted to have him ask for the sequel the next day.

For the Curious: Patrick was reading an Anne Perry William Monk mystery and Jonathan was reading Pride and Prejudice. Their grandfather thought they should have been girl-watching. I prefer this pastime.

What a weekend!



The time around July fourth is always a big deal for our family. We have attended the Indianapolis Symphony concert at Conner Prairie Farm every year except one for 22 years. My mom always brings her excellent fried chicken and we have a variety of other goodies like cheese, red peppers, bing cherries....This year was a bit different than usual, because my brother and the girls weren't with us. We hope they won't make that mistake again!

The fireworks were incredible and so was the chicken!

On Saturday we drove about 60 miles west to Colin's parents' house. His brother Sean is here visiting from Australia with his wife Anne. We had a nice day with them and with Colin's sister and her adorable children, including my newest nephew, Caleb. It is always such a treat to see Sean and Anne, and we never get enough time.



Today after church Patrick and I ran back over there to pick up Bethany, who stayed last night to get in some extra visiting. We had a lovely drive back through the country, smelling clover and spying calves, sunflowers, sheep, and horses.

Tomorrow VBS starts.






UPDATE: Do to the threat in my comments I have replaced the chicken-eating picture of the laundry elf with one of his little brother.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Some good reading

If you are in the mood for some good Lutheran reading, you should go check out the blogs at The Brothers of St. John the Steadfast.

Just what I needed...more must-read blogs.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Projects

Bethany is helping me with a couple of projects. This is one of the chairs from the dining room set my grandparents bought in the early 1950's. The fabric is very worn and the wood in the seats is cracking. So Colin cut new seats for me and Bethany and I are covering them.

In the garage: chair sans seat.
The supplies and the first almost-finished seat:
(Colin wasn't crazy about the fact that the new fabric doesn't match the dining room, meaning that the dining room needs to be painted.)


The other project is larger and will likely stretch into August. Our kitchen cupboards were okay until they started to peel. Yep, peel. They are kind of a strange veneer and wood combination. (And I've hated the black handles since we bought the house!)


But I am too frugal to just trash perfectly good thirteen-year-old cabinets, so I am painting them.Right now I have two doors off and am priming them. The painting is the next step, but since the days are all tied up through the weekend, I probably won't get back to them until Monday, after VBS.

This is the door primed. I think that I already like it better! The paint is a rich creamy white. I can't wait to see what it looks like!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Homeschool tax credit

I was going to post about S.3076, the recently introduced bill that would provide a federal tax credit to homeschoolers, but Dana at Principled Discovery has done such a good job of saying most of what I think that you can just read what she wrote.

In short, I'm against it, and not because I like paying taxes.

Update: My friend Susan had a link to a very clear explanation of why this particular homeschooler opposes the proposed tax credit. (I love it when other people write about these things and I don't have to!)

Issues again

Can I just say how wonderful it is to have Issues again? I almost got my office cleaned while I listened!

Homeschool Carnival

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at About Homeschool. I actually remembered to submit a post this time.