Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Hey Mama, Where's Baby Jesus?"

Good question.

See, we have this tradition - I hide the Baby Jesus figures out of our nativities.  Then, on Christmas morning, part of our morning "festivities" includes finding the 4 or 5 Baby Jesus figures that I've hidden throughout the house.


I can't find them.

See, last year I put them somewhere really, really safe. 

So safe, I can't find them. 


Anyone up for a game of, "Find the Baby Jesus", about 26 days early?

. . . and Now for Something Completely Different

(Yes, I'm a closet Monty Python fan.  Just to clear that up.  But really, how do you jump from bereavement posts to shameless promotion???)

For years and years, we've done the Christmas Card/Letter tradition.   We love sending out pictures and an update - hopefully our friends love reading it!  But mostly, I love seeing the names of all the folks on our card list: friends from high school and college, colleagues from my first teaching job, relatives far and near.

This year, I've been thinking about using Shutterfly's Christmas cards: for family with a whole bunch of kids, they have over 369 designs that use more than 3 pictures!  I'm thinking this one might work:

 And how convenient -  it even has the right letter in the middle!  I'm hoping I can come up with enough cute pictures of my kids to fill the spaces - and if I know the kids, they'll make me put the dog in one, too.  More fun than sending the cards is receiving them, and each year we plaster our doors with the greetings we get from far and near.  

I know, I know - e-greetings are cheaper.  There's just something special about having a holiday card in your hand, to look at as you pass it taped to your door.  We also like to save all of our cards in a basket - each night at dinner, we pick one card and pray for the family who sent it to us.  (That's a hint:  if you want to be prayed for, send us a card!)

Last year, Kathryn purchased a lot of gifts from Shutterfly - they were so sweet!  She gave Yurii a monthly calendar, and I'm thinking that this stationery would make a cute gift as well. 

So, there you have it.  My shameless plug . . . but really, even though I *am* getting 50 free cards by doing this, I really do  think that Shutterfly has cool stuff.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Random Happenings in Pictures

And now. . . . a picture heavy post to catch you all up on the various happenings from the last week!
(and my apologies - some of the pictures look a little wonky- don't know what's up with that, and I'm too tired to fix it)

Science Class!  
Just because this was a fun picture. . . an experiment on dissolving substances; Hannah and her friend Anna Kate were working together

Farm Day Field Trip at the Bailey's
Amy got tired of walking, so Evan carried her - I was thankful!
Evan was thankful too, once Amy got her hands off his eyes and nose!

The Bailey's Barn

Mike Bailey, friend and farmer extraordinaire
Christmas at the Caroline House
Kathryn and her friends danced for our church's outreach  (she's the 2nd from the right on the bottom row)


 Thanksgiving with the Prewitts
It was wonderful to spend Thanksgiving with my Dad's side of the family - no one was up to any cooking, so a big thanks to my cousin Lisa for the invite!
Mom gets to hold Linley, my cousin Allisha's 3 mo. old cutie pie

Cousin Nathan and his wife, Megan - I told them to pose, but Nathan was more interested in the pie than in his wife!

Amy had fun playing with Ali, my cousin Jessica's daughter.  Girl time!

Hannah took on Logan (Nathan's son) at the pool table - I think she kept him honest!

Believe it or not, this was only PART of the crowd!  I think there were 32 of us there!

Uncle Frank and Dad - posing with Amy's tiara. Classic!

Friday, November 19, 2010


Dorothy Bingham Ward
Jan. 17, 1919 - Nov. 19, 2010

I miss you already, Grandma.

"Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints."
Psalm 116:15

On Waiting

There's a whole lot of "hurry up and wait" going on in my house right now.

{Back story:  my grandmother was given 48 hours to live.  9 days ago.  There is no medical reason she should be with us, but apparently God has decided He'd like us all to know who exactly is in charge.}

Our suitcases are packed.  Each day, we've been wearing our "traveling clothes" in case we have to hop in the car.  My fridge is stuffed with food that no one is allowed to eat, since we might need it for the car trip.  The activities we canceled this week in anticipation of traveling Monday are remaining canceled. . . .which leads to an odd, a very odd calmness.

This morning, as I awoke to yet another morning of not getting "the call" in the middle of the night, I got to thinking.  (Dangerous habit, I know. . . )

I'm waiting and watching for my grandmother to pass away.

But. . . 

Am I waiting and watching for Jesus with the same anticipation, the same readiness?

I think not.  Even though Scripture is replete with admonitions to wait and watch for the return of Christ, I find myself tied too closely to this world.

The hard thing is the balancing act.  As I find myself waiting for "the call" about Grandma, I'm often in a wash of indecision and exhaustion, as if the act of waiting has sapped all of my energy for accomplishing even the most basic of tasks.  (Case in point - I've actually started and stopped this blog post about 3 times.)

So this is what I'm wondering.  If I'm to wait for Jesus' return - and indeed, the possibility of my own death before He comes - then how do I do that, and do that well?  How do I love my husband and my children, and yet keep God's kingdom first?  How do I enjoy the blessings of the day, and yet long for the greater blessings of heaven?

It's an interesting tightrope, this walk of waiting.  I'm not doing so well with this immediate waiting.  Hopefully the Lord will use this as training in my life, to help me learn to wait and watch for Him more fully.

Until next time. . . .  

Monday, November 15, 2010

On Asking, "Why?"

The past week, I've been living with my cell phone permanently attached to my body.

You see, 400 miles away, my grandmother, my precious, 91-year old grandmother, is dying a slow, long, drawn-out, painful death.

And those around her ask, "Why?"

This weekend, a family was driving home from a talent audition.  A teenager ran a stop sign and plowed into their van, killing the mom and her two sons.  The teenager had minor injuries.

And those around them ask, "Why?"

There are atrocities unspeakable in every corner of the world. . . . wars and unrest and famine and abuse and slavery. . . . .

And the world asks, "Why?"

Our friends had a beautiful, healthy baby boy last week.
A missionary we know was healed from her severe neck pain after prayer.
Our family has been provided for - miraculously - over and over again.
I woke up this morning, opened my eyes, and found my heart beating and my lungs inhaling and my brain functioning.

I have yet to hear a "Why?"

Only a "Thank You!". . . and sadly, sometimes not even that.

Now it's my turn to ask, "Why?"

Why do I question the bad, and not the good?
What makes me think I deserve only the good portion, never the bad?

In the words of Job,
 Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?
He is the Creator, I am the creation.  I cannot - I dare not - understand His thoughts and His purposes.

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! (Romans 11:33)
May I receive from His hand blessing and trial, and give Him praise and honor all my days.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Argument Builder - A Review

If I were playing the word association game at a party, and someone said, “build”, I would not immediately reply with “argument”.  To my non-trained mind, an argument is something that just happens spontaneously, and usually when my emotions are running high.

Enter The Argument Builder: Constructing an Argument Piece by Piece by Shelly Johnson, published by Classical Academic Press (CAP).  I’ve used their Latin materials for a few years now, so when I had the chance to review a copy of Argument Builder, I was intrigued.  Even more so when I read this passage from the first chapter:
Right now, you might feel a little uncomfortable with the word argument because it seems that it always involves fighting, tension, hostility, and hurt feelings.  Although this unpleasantness can be present when people argue, it doesn’t have to be.  The Latin word argumentum means ‘evidence’ or ‘proof’.  Therefore, when you have an ‘argument,’ it means that you supply the evidence or proof for what you believe.
From the forward, the purpose of The Argument Builder is “to train you in the art of building a strong argument”.   Using the Common Topics method, developed by Aristotle, the text takes you through all five of these common topics (Definitions, Testimony, Comparison, Relationship, Circumstance) while developing a hypothetical argument about curfew. 

The text is comprised of 25 chapters, with an appendix on debate techniques.  Each of the first 22 chapters includes a exercises not only in defining terms and answering basic questions about the topics introduced, but also in analyzing and identifying arguments from a wide variety of authors, scholars, and statesmen.  The final 3 chapters of the book cover a cumulative review, a brief introduction to logical fallacies, and instructions on how to hold a debate.  The Teacher’s Edition - a necessary component - includes not only the answers to the text exercises, but suggestions and recommendations for extending the material.  For further support, CAP also offers an online class taught by the author.

I am particularly thrilled to find this text - we’ll be adding it in for our high school students, as a component of their logic/philosophy studies.  Especially attractive to me is the author’s inclusion of primary source documents  from history as a source of analytical exercises. The Argument Builder is easy to understand, clearly laid out and provides great training in analyzing and building arguments.    As a high school course, this could be done in one semester by an ambitious student, but might be best spread out over the course of a year, especially if you intend to include the debate component. 

Paired with Discovery of Deduction, another CAP title, the Art of Argument makes the study of logic understandable and accessible to high school students, homeschooled or otherwise. 

Now for the nitty gritty:  I was provided a free review copy of this text in exchange for this review.  I would have panned it if I didn’t like it - I’m honest like that - but really, it’s a great text.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Motivation, Anyone?

The past three days, I've been watching episodes of "Hoarders", via the magic of Netflix.

The past three days, I've also deep cleaned two bathrooms, purged my wardrobe, filed a huge box of papers, and cleaned off the permanent clutter piles in our main living areas.


I think not.