Thursday, October 27, 2011

An Interesting Turn of Events

As some of you may know, Jimmy and I have been seriously considering homeschool for our youngest daughter, Jo.  She will be entering kindergarten next year, and our community school is not a place where we want to put her, and as we thought and prayed about it more, we felt the pull to keep her home and train her up, if you will.

Our oldest daughter, Elizabeth, is in 8th grade this year, and is slated to go on to high school either in the community school or, if she gets accepted, a really great, challenging school that focuses on math and science.  She has already done the preliminary application for that school, and took a class over the summer to help her prepare for the entrance exam. 

In all honesty, though, we have all accepted the fact that the likelihood of her getting into that school is very slim.  Even though she has great grades and I believe that she will do well on the test, she had not  had a lot of science or math experience outside of school.  She has not gone to science or math camps over the summer nor participated in any extracurricular activities that involve math or science.  This puts her at a disadvantage because a lot of the kids who want in this school have been involved in those things.

But, for the past while, (years?) Elizabeth has often mentioned that she does not feel that she has a good support group in school.  She often feels lonely and misunderstood.  She dresses differently than the other girls in the school (she dresses modestly when most girls don't) and she upholds high moral values that are not valued at all in the public school.

Recently, with the added stress of my mother-in-law being in the hospital, things seemed to get a lot worse.  On one particularly rough night, I mentioned to Elizabeth that homeschool could also be a choice for her.  I mean, I will be home with Jo and the little guys, anyway, and Elizabeth is a mature, self motivated learner, so I thought, why not present the possibility.

Well, much to my surprise, she has actually given it some thought and seems to be leaning toward the homeschooling option.

I never really thought about homeschooling Elizabeth.  She has been in the public school system for her whole educational career, and I thought that she would not want to leave and that since she seemed to be doing well enough, why change things.

But then Jimmy and I got into analyzing things a bit more, and after prayer and study, this is what we have come up with:

1.  There is nothing that the public school can offer that Elizabeth can't get from homeschooling either online or through tutors.  I am sometimes intimidated by Elizabeth's levels in math (she is in 8th grade but taking a 10th grade course) and science, which I love, but I'm not sure I could teach especially without labs but upon research, I have found some wonderful programs that can help with that if I get in over my head.

2.  We are specifically told in the Bible to train our children up in the way of the Lord so that they don't stray from it.  It doesn't say anywhere to pass your kids off for 6-8 hours a day to a teacher to teach them.  I know that this works for some, but it seems that after she is gone from home for so long and then Jimmy and I get home from work, eat, spend some time with all the kids and then put the little ones to bed and Elizabeth does her homework, there doesn't seem to be any time left in the day to study God's Word and to pray together.  Maybe if the kids were closer in age it would be easier to sit with them all and work with them together, but as it is, it just doesn't work out.

3.  Because Elizabeth is 9 years older than Jo, about 12 years older than Gabriel and will be almost 14 years older than the coming baby, if she is away all day at school just to come  home and do her homework, how will she be able to develop a relationship with her siblings?  She has 4 years left at home, if she decides to go straight to college away from home, so that does not leave her much time to bond, and I don't want her to just be the unknown 'big sister'.

4.  We have been told that to keep Elizabeth home for high school is wrong because this is real life and she shouldn't be sheltered from it since she will have to deal with negative influences in the future.  Well, um...sorry, but I don't buy that.  I mean, I know that it is true, that life is hard and you have to be strong, but teens are notorious for making bad decisions, not because they are bad people, but because their judgement is not fully developed.  That's like telling Gabriel that he's going to have to learn to bathe on his own sometime, so just throwing him in the tub full of water to fend for himself. 

5.  Like I mentioned before, after this year, we have 4 years left with Elizabeth before she can go off on her own to college and be out from under our wings.  That means that we have only 4 years left to teach and train her!  Only 4 years left!  I know that she will always be our child and our daughter, but 4 years is going to fly by! 

6.  Lastly, although this list could go on and on, Jimmy and I have realized that Elizabeth's education has so many holes in it!  Her spelling is horrible, she knows nothing of geography, hasn't memorized her times tables, can't read or write cursive (which I know is becoming obsolete, but she still needs to be able to read her grandmother's letters!), can't tell me the parts of speech of various words in a sentence, has read very little 'good' literature...the list could go on and on.  But Elizabeth is an A student!  That means that her spelling passes through, and she has mastered everything that the teachers are teaching her!  That means that she just hasn't been taught stuff...a lot of stuff!

Anyway, we are now considering homschooling Elizabeth, too.  I think that it will be hard to homeschool a high schooler and a kindergartener at the same time, especially since I have not done either before, and I am nervous about it, but it is something that we are praying about and researching.

Do any of you have any thoughts on this? 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Etched in Sand

This past weekend, 30 women from our church went to the beach for a Women's Retreat.  I was one of those 30.

Reach out and touch

Feel the pain,

Feel the joy

Feel the recovery.

The waves crash to the shore as we women stand facing the endless ocean with our troubles in our hands as so many stones.

Toss them away from you to be washed by the cleansing waves, we are told.

And so we stand, prayerfully, to toss the stones

one by one

into the great abyss that is the ocean.

We toss our cares away from ourselves, our puny, weak selves,

into the ever powerful waves of the ocean...

Into the ever powerful arms of God.

Sitting on the shore,

my bare feet feeling the coolness of the fall tide-wet sand,

I reach down with my finger and trace the words that have haunted me

the sins to be confessed and erased

and my fingers flit and glide through the soft substance

until my deepest hidden thoughts come to the surface.

And I see this word here, staring at me so deeply etched.  So raw and plain for all to see.

What do I fear? 

I fear failure

I fear the unknown

I fear the past, the present

and the future.

I fear that it all rests on my shoulders

This great burden of family,

This great blessing of family

This blessing that gives and gives but also

takes and takes

so very much.

Who am I to stand up under this weight alone?

As my head sinks to my knees in quiet supplication

In tearful pleading with the One who can handle it all

I see my fear for what it is

It is not a thing that can be handled or subdued by me

It is a lack that needs to be filled

It is the lack of


My toes clench,  feeling the grainy sand between them.

And my hands touch


the rough edges of my FEAR feeling the grit of it under my fingernails.

And in the touching, in the probing,

the word starts to fade.

As I search my FEAR

And as I begin to accept it for what it is


that must be filled with


in the One who is EVER FAITHFUL

I see this FEAR, this word, this feeling


Raising my eyes to the never ending waves of the ocean

Infinite power,

Set in place by an even more Powerful One

I confess my fear

And allow it to be nothing but what it really is

Nothing more than a word

etched in nothing more than sand.

And in its place

there is


because through confession, my slate is wiped clean


by the One who calms me

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday - Things About Me

So, it's not Tuesday, but I'm writing this anyway.

Here is my list of 10 for the week.  I figure that since I am going to the Women's Retreat this weekend (YAY!) and I will be staying in a hotel room with some ladies that I know but don't know, you know, that I would let them in on a few things about me.  So, here we go!

Ten things you might not know about me:

1.  I don't like to shop.  This is for 2 reasons.  The first reason that I don't like to shop is because I don't have any money, so it's kind of frustrating and pretty boring to look at stuff you can never get.  And the second reason is because...

2.  I don't like crowds.  Really.  I don't.  I don't get afraid in them, or panicky, I just don't like them.  I don't like it when I can't walk straight ahead at the pace that I want to walk, which is usually pretty quickly, and I don't like standing in lines.

3.  I am the only one in my family (brother, sister, mother, father) who is bilingual.

4.  Our family is very small.  My husband only has one sister who has 2 children, who live in El Salvador, and my brother and sister have no children.  My mom is an only child, and my dad only has 2 nephews.

5.   I don't like onions.  In any form.  Which means that I don't think that I have ever bought an onion.  Ever.  In my life.  Of course, that also means that the kids don't eat onions, either.

6.  The ultrasound showed that the baby's a boy!!! That's not really something about me, but still...

7.  I used to want to be a boy.  I mean, this was a true deep desire.  I think that it was because of my brother and the preference that he received (and still does!) in our family in all things.  (But not to worry...I am completely content to be a girl now.)

8.  I'm secretly glad that the new baby is going to be a boy.  I was a little afraid that with Gabriel being the only boy, and with him being just so darn cute, that he would receive preference in the family, too, and leave little Jo out.

9.  I love to drive, just not in traffic.  This comes in handy since I am the only driver in the family.  And actually, I love to drive big vehicles.  We have a small 2 door job for running around town, but my favorite is our big van, loaded with kids or family and gear.

10.  I love to travel.  I love to get out and try new things and see new places.  My next dream destination is France.  Elizabeth is studying French in school and informed me that now that she 'knows' French, she is ready for us to go there.  (and she referenced a certain someone's open invitation...I hope it still stands!)

11.  Ok, so I'm going over the 10 limit, but I just have to add this one in.

I do not like camel crickets.  They are gross.  They leave their legs around and they hop really high and if you squish them, they are gross and meaty and pop.  (Ok that's just gross and I'm eating lunch.)

So, there you go.  Not too exciting, I guess, after reading it over, but still just some tidbits about me that maybe you didn't know!

Top Ten {Tuesday}

Monday, October 17, 2011

Five Minute Friday - Catch

Well, so I know it's not Friday, but I really wanted to blog and I have well...about 5 minutes in which to do it, so here I go!

The rules?  Write for 5 minutes without stopping to edit or correct.

The topic?  Catch

Catch.  Catch my breath.  Catch a nap. Catch some time.  Catch a kiss from my man.

What can I catch?  A slippery right from the tub little boy who loves to run naked.

What else can I catch?  Ahhh...But I will tell you something that I can't catch.  The doctors at the hospital where my mother in law is staying again.  Those are the things that I can't catch.  Any of them.  Ever.  I am ever in the dark.  She does not speak English, and they, although they are supposed to, do not take the time to find an interpreter. 

So, that is something that I would like to catch but can't.

But what I love to catch is the sight of the two little ones playing together on the floor.  The way that Jo shows Gabriel how to blow bubbles in the bathtub. 
I love to catch the sight of Gabriel's face when he first sees Elizabeth walk up the drive from the bus stop. 

Pure joy.  Pure delight in his oldest sister coming unsuspecting up the walk and his little self hurling willy nilly into her knees.

Because he knows that she will



And why?  Why does she catch him?  Every time, without fail?  Because she loves him and in her own way waits for him just as much as he waits for her.

So I lean back and catch my breath and catch the peace and calm at the end of the day and I know that tomorrow will be another day to try and catch all the things that I might have missed today,

but for now, I will hold in my heart all that I



Monday, October 10, 2011


The hands reach and grasp and I feel their pull on my heart and on my legs and on my time.  I look down into their faces and see wants and needs and a vast unquenchable thirst for attention and love.

And I feel like I am at the edge of an abyss.

Blackness ready to suck me down.

My belly swells heavily before me, and my heart pounds wearily inside of me as I look around the house at the little and not so little shoes, socks, and sweaters strewn all around.

The promise of coffee in the kitchen is a distant comfort as I see the dishes piled in the sink and the laundry on the line through the window with the whir of another load finishing up in the machine.

I can't do this.  I can't go there to that job and leave this here waiting for me when I get back.  I can't walk through another day like this.  I can't run household and hold my position at the company where I work as well and struggle to get my home business off the ground.

I am weary and weak.

The night before weighed so heavily on me.  Pictures of the baby girls in China in dying rooms kept floating through my mind.

What can I, one person, do for them when I can't even keep myself together?  Can helping one child even make a difference for the thousands of other little girls who are abandoned?

Where is GOD?

I pull my husband to me and cry to him the pain that I see in the pictures and hidden camera videos and I ask what can we do?

He knows my heart, and he wraps his arms around me.

I know your soul is aching, he says.  God hears your cries.  God, too, knows the desires of your heart.

When the time is right, in HIS perfect plan, the answer will come.

Yes, you are right.  When the time is right, all will come together.

Take today, take now and give thanks in who you are and where you are.

So I look with new eyes and I see my oldest bending to pick up the stray socks

And I see the dirty dishes that pile in the sink because we have eaten well

And the linens flapping on the line because we have a place to sleep

And the diapers whirring to an end in the machine because we are blessed with strong healthy children.

And so I look down into the soft brown eyes of the little ones and kiss their upturned faces knowing that while I am gone, they will be well cared for by their grandmother, who loves them as I do.

And I know that this is just for a season and that the line of this day, this week, this month is but one small thread in the tapestry of the plan that God has for my life.

Give thanks in all circumstances for this is God's will for you in Jesus Christ.
  1 Thessalonians 5:18

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pineapple Upsidedown Cake

I just realized that it has been more than a week since I have written on here.  Wow!  Time flies!  It has been pretty crazy around here with trying to keep up with school things for the kids, full time work for Jimmy and me, my mother-in-law in the hospital for 10 days (she's home, now, and resting to regain her strength and fully recover), and trying to get my Pampered Chef business off the well as juggling dentist appointments (Jimmy had another wisdom tooth pulled!) and prenatal visits...

Which, by the way, I wanted to let all of you know!!!!

Jimmy and I went in for a sonogram, and even though I didn't really want to know, I had promised Jimmy and Elizabeth that this time we would find out the sex of the baby and it's going to be another...

(drum roll, please!)


Gabriel will now have a brother to bang around with, and Jo will now be outnumbered when Elizabeth is away at school!  Poor Jo!  She's getting tougher, though, and Gabriel just absolutely adores her, so I'm sure it will all work out.

Anyway, my life is kind of resembling the title of this post:

A pineapple upsidedown cake!  Everything baking up the way that it should be, but just feeling all mixed together and crazily upside down!

What made me think of that was yesterday when Peter came over and I threw him into the kitchen to bake a cake.

Yesterday was my Pampered Chef Open House, and everyone who came had so much fun cooking in the kitchen and they all wanted to try out all the new tools and toys, that we didn't get through all the recipes that I had planned.  Actually, I had quite a few recipes, and I let the ladies pick the ones that they wanted to make and so we made strawberry smoothies in the Manual Food Processor, and pizzas on the Stoneware (which a lot of is 20% off this month!) and potato chips using the Simple Slicer, to name a few, but we didn't get to the Pineapple Upside-down cake, which is what Jimmy was hoping for.  Since he was away all day helping a friend of ours move, I decided that I would make it for him anyway, but after being on my feet all day, then getting dinner together, I didn't really have the energy.

Elizabeth wasn't game for it, either, since she had been up since early in the morning babysitting 3 little boys and then home to help me, so when Peter arrived on our doorstep, he was enlisted to bake the cake.

He actually did quite well.  I was very impressed seeing as his only previous experience in the kitchen was to put little pizzas in the oven. 

He approached it much like a science experiment, which he is very good at doing, and which, in fact, is what cooking really is.

First he gathered all the ingredients with Gabriel and Jo's help:
 although most of what they gathered wasn't needed and ended up on the floor...
 at least the little tubs of spices didn't open!

This is what Peter gathered:

1/2 c butter
1 c brown sugar
1 can pineapple slices, undrained
5 maraschino cherries, drained and halved
1 package of yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 c vegetable oil

Then the oven got turned on to 350 degrees and the butter was melted in an oven proof 12 skillet
When that was melted, he stirred in the brown sugar until it was well blended.

After that, the pineapple was drained, and the juice set aside and the pineapple was arranged over the brown sugar mixture in the skillet, and the cherries were set in the center of each pineapple slice.  Ok, not each one because Jo came in and ate half of the cherries, so then there weren't enough to go around!
When that was done, and Jo was stopped from taking a cherry out of her mouth to replace in one of the pineapple slices, enough water was added to the pineapple juice to measure 1/3 c liquid and mixed with the cake mix, the eggs and the oil.  This was all whisked until it was smooth.

Next is always the question of where to put the whisk while you dump the cake mixture into the pan, but Jo and Gabriel took care of that problem.

When the cake mixture was dumped over the pineapples in the pan,
then whole thing was put into the oven for 35-40 minutes
(Yes, that is mud on his pants.  He was being chased around the yard and apparently tackled by Jo and Gabriel and ended up in the mud.)

until a wooden pick inserted into the center came out clean.

After that, it came out of the oven
 and left to sit for 5 minutes.  Doesn't it look beautiful!

Finally, it was time to turn it out onto its plate.  I said these specific words to Peter...

"Peter, it's going to still be really hot.  Use the hot mits.  Don't touch the pan or you will burn yourself.  Peter, it's hot."

He looked right at me, so I KNOW he heard, and he even said, 'ok' and looked at the pan and I said again, it's hot...

and can you guess what Peter did?

Yes, he did.  Grabbed the pan with his bare (bear!) hands. 

And I KNOW that he had heard me because he didn't say anything about that it burned him other than to let it go and grab the mits.  It wasn't until later that he showed me his hands, which were burned all the way across. 


The cake finally got turned out onto its plate

 (notice the hot mits?)
and it was beautiful! 

This is what was left after about 2 minutes:
And by the end of the evening, the plate was clean, washed and put away.

Great job, Peter!  It was delicious!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

See You at the Pole

I wanted to let you all know how it went last Wednesday at See You at the Pole. 

In case you don't know, this is a world wide event where students all over meet around the flagpole at their school before school starts to pray for the school, the leaders in their school and in their country and basically to pray for whatever they want to pray about.

Elizabeth wanted to participate in this, but she was also nervous about 'sticking her neck out' and telling other kids about it.

Her excuse was that other than the 2 other girls that we take to church with us who attend her school, there is no one else in her school that is a like-minded Christian who is willing to stand up in front of the school and by doing so proclaim their faith.

In our church, we as a whole congregation are doing a study about how God is big enough.  To this end, the church has made rubber bracelets with the words 'God is Big Enough' on them so that we can wear and share them to help spread the word and the idea that God is indeed big enough for anything that we can possibly come across. 

I know that it is legal to hold a prayer meeting at the school, as in the kids can't get arrested for doing it, but to be safe, Elizabeth asked the principal of her school if she was allowed to gather at the pole and pray on Wednesday morning. 

The principal responded that she would have to check.  It too her until Monday evening to find out whether the kids could gather or not, and her response was that yes, they could gather, but they couldn't make posters or fliers about it because that does not fit the school's image.  (Of course, they can make fliers about dance competitions and drama shows and such, just not this.) 

So, Elizabeth had one day to spread the word by mouth.

Her friends Annie and Renee, who go to church with us, also spread the word.  Elizabeth was nervous on Tuesday morning about talking to her friends.  She said that they wouldn't come and they wouldn't care.  W talked about how that was not her choice.   She needed to only spread the word, and let God take care of the rest because as we have studied, He is big enough and much bigger than her or the distances that she can personally reach.

So, she went and spread the word.

Wednesday morning I agreed to drive Elizabeth and Renee to school to be sure that they would get there in time, and 5 minutes before we had to leave, it started pouring rain.  I mean POURING!  It was coming down in sheets!  We got soaked just looking out the window! 

But we headed off anyway, and by the time we got to the school, it had pretty much let up. 

The girls got out of the car and we all went to the pole and waited for the buses to unload.  One girl came by to see what we were doing, and when the girls told her, she stayed for a while, but then wandered off.

Then the buses unloaded and 2 more girls joined us.

Because Elizabeth had never done this before, we had printed out a prayer to read so that no one would be shy and so that there would not be just awkward silence.  So, Elizabeth passed out the prayer that she had gotten from the church and then modified to fit the situation, and the girls read the prayer.  Then a youth pastor from another church that had been going around to the various schools prayed over the girls and the gave them donuts. 

I bet if more kids knew that there would be donuts, more would have showed up!

Then, Elizabeth passed out one of the God is Big Enough bands to each of the girls.

I was so proud of them all! 

(I was a little bit afraid to take pictures at the school with all the kids there and parents and buses unloading.  I don't know what the rules are about 'unauthorized' pictures of kids at public schools.)

All of the girls knew each other except for one who knew some but not all.  In total, there was only 5 girls who stayed through the whole thing, but it's a start!

I just had to hug them all!  They were so sweet standing there communing in prayer and asking their Lord to bless them and their school. 

So, it may not have turned out very big, but at least these girls got together and made other people ask questions like 'what are you doing out here in the wet???'

And Elizabeth now knows one more girl who is like-minded.

So...the next thing that is happening is that Elizabeth has to do community service hours for an assignment for school. 

Of course, with Jimmy and me being the mean and cruel parents that we are, Elizabeth is not allowed to do what all the other kids do - library duty, help a teacher, pick up trash around the school, help in the nursery at church - oh, no.  We want her to dig a bit deeper and find out how to find people who need help.

So she asked advice from some great friends, and went a the missionary fair that was at our church picnic. 

Since she is a minor, her choices are somewhat limited, but she found a place where they ask for kids to make Christmas, birthday and housewarming cards for lonely people and people in shelters. 

So, we are collecting ribbon and stickers and whatnot so that we can have a card making party.  Elizabeth now has one new friend to invite!  (The one she didn't really know who came to the flag pole)  Who knows if this new girl will be able to come or not, but I am so happy that Elizabeth is having a chance to make her circle of believing friends just a little bit bigger. 

At Elizabeth's age where things can be so difficult, the more support she has the better.

And, I also firmly believe that it Elizabeth's age, where things can be so difficult, it is very important for the kids to work with other people who are younger or who will look up to them and who they can teach...who they know will be disappointed if they 'mess up'.

So our guest list for our card making party is slowly and thoughtfully being made, (there are only but so many kids who can fit in this house...especially now that the kids are bigger...they just take up more room!)

I'll keep you posted!