Monday, February 28, 2011

Please Pray

Would you please pray for the Hughes family?

Pam Hughes was a friend of mine - we compared notes on homeschooling through the years. 

She had been quite ill - but was on the road to recovery.

She passed away this morning, and is in the arms of Jesus right now.

Please pray for her husband and five children. They need God's grace more than any of us can imagine.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Overheard in My House, Episode 10

Sigh.  This one hurts.

{Scene cuts to Amy, sitting on the living room floor, looking at my Creative Memories albums}

Amy:  "Mom, why aren't there any pictures of me in these dictionaries?"

Me:  "Um. . . . . . . . . . . . . . "

Yeah.  Fifth child. 

Anybody want to scrapbook for, say, a month without stopping???

Monday, February 21, 2011

Celebrating President's Day at American Village

Do you all know about American Village?  If you don't, you should!

While I admit it's not as high-falutin' as - say - Plymouth Plantation or Colonial Williamsburg, it is really a well done history resource, right in our own backyard.  I especially like the way they emphasize the sacrifices made by the founders of our country - and then turn around and ask the children who are hearing the program to do the same.  Very inspiring.

Today was President's Day, and American Village was celebrating.  We celebrated, too, and I decided to channel my inner "I-used-to-be-a-fun-mom" and pack up the three younger girls for a field trip.

Aren't they cute?  Of course, there was a discount for arriving in costume. . . and I'm only NOW realizing I never got a picture of them standing up, all together.  Sigh.
At any rate, "someone-who-shall-remain-nameless" was feeling a little awkward in said costume, and also a little sad that both the friends we invited couldn't come.  So imagine our surprise when THESE wonderful people came walking through the door of Washington Hall!

Yes, the Pritchetts!!!  They saved the day!!! (Or at least made it a LOT more fun!)

I have also learned that, while I'm channeling my inner "I-used-to-be-a-fun-mom", I am NOT doing so good at channeling my inner "I-used-to-scrapbook-and-take-a-bazillion-pictures" mom.  So with that in mind, here are a few shots from the day. . . wish I had more.

Hannah hoop-rolling on the green

Another Colonial Game - trap ball, I think.  Pretty fun!
 My favorite part today was the Oval Office - yes, they have a replica of THE Oval Office!  It was quite awe-inspiring when I first saw it.  . . . .of course, I don't have a good picture, but this one was pretty cute.

Tired toddler on Daddy's lap.  In the Oval Office, no less!
Hope you all celebrated President's Day in fine fashion - and here are to the remarkable men who have filled that office.  May we never forget to pray for them.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday Sentiments: When the Answer is "Yes"

Many, if not most of you have heard already.

Dearest Kathryn received a Presidential Scholarship to Samford University here in Birmingham.  While it won't cover all of tuition, the award she received, along with her University Fellows scholarship, gives us enough confidence that the Lord is indeed directing her steps there.  (Although she's still in the running for 3 more scholarships - so keep praying!!)

But that's not what this post is about, ultimately.

It's about what happens to a dry, parched, and withered heart when God pours the wellsprings of "Yes" to water the thirsty ground.

Many, if not most, of you also know that our family has been on a 3+ year journey of God deepening our faith through. . . . . . unanswered prayer.  It's not much of a secret that we've been in what Paul Miller* calls 'a desert experience' - a desert where it has appeared there is no way out, we don't know when it will end, and there's no relief in sight.

But while we're in the desert, we've clung tenaciously to the belief that God has not abandoned us - although it has certainly, to our human frailty, appeared that way sometimes.  We're stubbornly believing that God is weaving a story in our lives, one that will ultimately bring Him glory and honor.  In the words of Peter, "Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life."  (John 6:68)

Which doesn't make it easy.  I've written before about my latest temptation - the temptation to give up hope.  Lately, though, God has allowed hope to spring in my heart - a tender, frail seedling of hope - rooted in Who He is, not what He will do for us.

And so.  When this "Yes" came, this much desired, prayed-for, hoped for "Yes". . . . . .

I bawled.  Like a baby.  Thankfully, in private. 

It was as if the waters of grace came spilling down from heaven, nourishing the seedling of hope, and overflowing in my heart.  And I am so thankful for a God who not only cares deeply about me knowing Him, but also for a God who cares about our situation.   A God who doesn't withhold blessings, but can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.

All praise to God, who is writing the story of our lives.  May we watch, wait, and wonder in eager anticipation as He enables us to participate in His glorious kingdom.

*Remember how I told you to go find Paul Miller's A Praying Life?  I wasn't kidding.  Go read it!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Kids Can Learn Chemistry! Teaching Atomic Bonding

One of these days, I'm going to upgrade this blog and get spiffy tabs like the other uber-cool bloggers have.  But that would require time that I don't have, so for now I'm going to just throw everything in all together!

Therefore, I am now presenting. . . . . . . .

Khemistry for Kids 
(That's to annoy my brother, who has a profound hatred for signs with forced alliteration. . . .think 'Kountry Kitchen', and you're in the right ballpark!)

Do you remember your high school Chemistry class?  You know, the one that gave you cold sweats when you had to *gasp* balance equations?

Yeah.  Me too.  Actually, I liked my chemistry class - except for the part when my teacher told me I was "wasting my mind" by going into education (I was headed to college to be a music major).  Which is highly ironic since, the person uttering that statement was, after all, a teacher.  (Are you still out there, Mrs. Lipeles?)  It would be fairly interesting to hear what she would have to say now. . . . 

But I digress.  Anywho.

I am currently "wasting my mind" teaching science to a group of 14 homeschooled kids on Friday mornings.  They're such a fun bunch! Right now, we're working through a series entitled God's Design for Chemistry & Ecology - and we've hit the lesson on ionic and covalent bonding.  The basic lesson presented was good, but I decided to hunt around and see what else I could find.

Wow.  I love the internet.  Who knew there were such good lesson plans there?  The activities I'm about to explain came mainly from this site - but since they were geared for middle schoolers, I just adapted them a bit for my class.

First up - Ionic Bonding.  Here are Mr. Chlorine and Mr. Sodium!  

 It's a little hard to see from the picture, but they're wearing headbands (Ok, I bribed them with candy to wear them) with ping-pong ball "electrons" on them.  Mr. Sodium (Na) has 1 electron (valence electrons, for you science junkies out there) and Mr. Chlorine (Cl) has 7 electrons. 

Prior to this point, we had discussed valence electrons, and the tendency of the atoms to want a complete shell of electrons - in this case, Mr. Cl wants 8, and Mr. Na wants to get rid of his 1 lonely electron.  After this picture was taken, Mr. Na took off his electron and gave it to Mr. Cl.  Lots of hysterical laughter ensued. . . . but they got the point.  Electrons transferred?  Ionic bonding.  Ta-dah!

Next up - well, I knew I had to choose two girls for this one.  You'll see why in a minute.  (And yes, they were also bribed with candy.)

Here we have the incredibly cute Hydrogen sisters.  They started out with one electron each.  Their headbands only have 2 curly pipe cleaners on them so they each want to add an electron.

How do they solve their problem?  They share!  (Insert class, laughing hysterically here)  You can't see it quite so well, but yes, the girls are joined at the headbands with their electrons (each ping pong ball has two holes in it for just this purpose!)

Sharing electrons?  Covalent bonding.  Ta dah!
 See, now, that wasn't so painful, was it?

To further illustrate the concept, we turned to that ever so popular motivator of children.


Here is our friendly sodium atom.  Note the one valence electron - an orange skittle.

Next up, the Chlorine atom.  Note the 7 valence electrons.   Note also that I color coordinated them for the picture.  I'm good like that.
 Ready for some ionic bonding?  Here we go!
 As you can see, sodium has given its electron to chlorine.  Everybody's happy.

Including my students.  When I explained to them that this subject was difficult, and if they told their mothers about it, their mothers would say it was too hard to learn, I was met with disbelief. 

One of my more observant students quipped:  "That's because they didn't have Skittles when they were in high school!" 

Take that, Mrs. Lipeles.  Wasting my mind, indeed. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

No Pictures, Just Love

Can I just say. . . . . .

My husband grilled me tuna steaks for dinner tonight.

As a surprise.

AND he washed the fancy dishes we ate on.

I *heart* him.

That is all.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Storm Warning, Southern Style

This one's for my northern friends - and my son.

Pretty classic reaction.

Of course, this from your friendly blogger who rescheduled her piano lessons due to the "threat" of snow.   Not actual snow on the ground, or anything.

OK, there was this mountain.  And I had to drive over it to get to my piano students.  And it - well - it could have been slippery.  In theory.

Yeah.  That's my story, and I'm stickin' with it.


It's going to be 60 degrees tomorrow.  Much better.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Overheard in My House, Episode 9

This morning, we got a rare Alabama snowfall.  After the kids came inside from sledding this morning, Nathaniel came out with his Bible:

Nat:  "Mom, listen to this!  Proverbs 31:21 says "she is not afraid of snow for her household. . . "

Me:  "Yeah. .  . . . . "

Nat:  "Well, that means that I need to find a wife who's not afraid of snow.  Where'm I going to find one of those down HERE?"


Monday, February 7, 2011

Book Review: The Beginning Reader's Bible

This is a hard review to write. 

Mainly, because I had to pry this Bible out of Amy's hands!

With five kids, we've seen a lot - and I mean a LOT - of children's bibles come and go in our house.   They've been read and re-read, handed down, taped together, and toted to and from church for years.  Yurii will even freely admit that his first overview of the Old Testament came from reading Kathryn's Children's Bible to her every night!

So when I had a chance to review The Beginning Reader's Bible (distributed by Thomas Nelson), I jumped.  Amy didn't really have her very own Bible, and this was a great opportunity.

First, the nitty-gritty.  This is an oversized volume, with a nice binding and stitching that appears sturdy enough for little hands.  The pages are full-sized illustrations, with selected Scripture texts inserted to tell the story.  All scripture is taken from the International Children's Bible.  As such, it's not the full Bible, but rather a collection of stories - the title there is a little misleading.  Also slightly misleading is the name "Beginning Reader's Bible" - with words like "language", "everyone", and "Babylonia", it's hardly for true beginning readers. 

More nitty-gritty.  At the end of each Bible story are sections entitled "Remember God's Word", "Do God's Word", and "Pray God's Word", designed for application in young lives.  The very end of the Bible has a list of familiar passages (such as the Ten Commandments and the 23rd Psalm), books of the Bible, a Scripture reading plan, and a Scripture memory plan.

Now, some impressions. Let's start with the six-year old.

I'll have to say that Amy LOVES this Bible.  She's a fairly good reader, so she can read almost all of it herself.  She loves the feel of the book, loves the vivid illustrations, and loves the ribbon bookmark that is attached!   When it first arrived, she pored over it, reading the stories and telling me all about them.  One favorite:  the Tower of Babel - at the end, it has a chart that shows how to say "God Loves You" in about 8 different languages.

My impressions.

As I said before, it's not really a Bible.  It's a nice-quality Bible storybook.  I really wish the folks at Thomas Nelson had called it the "Read-to-Me Bible Storybook"; it's a pet peeve of mine, that kids think the Bible is a collection of stories.  But enough about that.

The stories chosen are a nice sample - I wish the New Testament had a little more meat in it, but they do include 2 stories from Acts (the coming of the Holy Spirit and Paul's conversion) and the description of heaven from Revelation.  The supplements at the end are helpful - most children's Bibles don't list the 12 tribes of Israel, for example.  The illustrations are very nice, but not stunning.  The illustrations really are the main show, here- the text is only a small part of the page.

Overall, it's a nice Bible storybook.  It would be a great gift for a child who enjoys Bible stories, but not for a young reader who's ready for a Bible text to follow along with during family worship or church service.

So while I'll let Amy continue to enjoy her new storybook, I'm back in the search for a Bible with full text, sturdy enough to withstand her 6 year-old exuberance, preferably in the ESV translation.

Any  ideas?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson publishers as part of their Blogger Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Anyone Want an Update?

First, I can't thank all my friends enough for their prayers.  Really.

What we prayed for was that Kathryn would represent herself well, and not leave with any regrets.  That she would do her best, and we could leave the results up to God.

Your prayers were answered. 

When I asked Kathryn what she learned over the weekend, she replied, "I learned that I love doing interviews!"  How crazy is that?!

So, some quick highlights:

First, on the University Fellows program. Yurii & I met with the professor who is in charge of the business portion of the program.  She not only remembered Kathryn, but stated she was very impressed by her application and asked that we make a point to bring her to meet her on Saturday evening.

Second, on the Scholarship portion.  Suffice it to say that when Kat answered "James Madison" to the "Which leader do you admire, and what lessons have you learned from his/her life?" question, and when the interviewer is a pharmacy professor who happens to be a history buff?  Score.

Third, on Samford in general.  We came away favorably impressed.  Kathryn admitted she really, really would like to go there.


We realize that the Lord may have other plans for her life.  And we're trusting that should He NOT provide the needed funds to attend Samford. . . . . . .

That means that for Kathryn and our family, attending there would be a "stone" in her life, not the bread that we all desire for her.

So there you have it!  Stay tuned - we'll know more information by the 20th, I think.

Overheard in My House, Episode 8

Sitting at the school table, Amy comes out with this gem:

"Mom, I want to have a dazzling intellect."


Like one of our friends says, she should have her own YouTube Channel.

Friday, February 4, 2011

On Trust, Hope, and Praying for Your Heart's Desire

Here we go!

Later this morning, our dear, wonderful, cherished eldest daughter will be interviewing at her top choice college, competing for a spot in the University Fellows program and for the Presidential Scholarship.  As in, full tuition.

It's been a long week for the mother, here.

I've been so torn - knowing this is where her heart's desire is, praying the Lord would allow favor.  And yet, as I've been praying for her, my faith has been bumping head-long into the smashed and shattered dreams of the past five years, all the time we have prayed and hoped and pleaded with the Lord regarding my husband's job situation, to be told "No" or "Wait" again and again and again.

Sometimes it makes praying tough.

Sometimes it makes trusting tough.

And yet. . . . . .
 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!"  (Matthew 7:8-11)
 How often do my own kids ask for something they want with all their heart at the moment, and I know that in the long run it will be bad for them?  Or that they don't see the full picture, as to why I can't say "yes" at that time?  And that in saying yes to their desire, I would in effect be giving them the proverbial stone instead of the bread?

Do I not trust the God of all the Universe to do what is right?  Do I not know of the love, the lavish, profound love, that God the Father has for me? 

And more than that - do I not know how He loves my daughter so much more than I ever could?  He knows what she needs in all aspects of her life.  He can see her path and her future, and will work all things so that her life will be more and more conformed to the image of Christ.

And so.

I hope, and trust, and pray, and ask God fervently that she may do well this weekend.  Represent herself, her family, and her Savior with all that she is.  I pray that she may find favor with the interviewers, and that it would bring glory to God to provide her with the scholarships necessary to attend this university.

And yet, I rest.  Rest in the knowledge that God's ways are not our ways, and that His thoughts are much higher that our thoughts.  That He may direct our paths in very, very different ways that we would ourselves have chosen.

So join me, won't you?  Join me in praying - not for our situation alone (although I sure would appreciate it!) - but pray with abandon to a Father who loves you and wants to hear from you.  A Father who can be trusted to work all things for His glory. 

He can be trusted with your heart's desire.

**Can I recommend The Praying Life by Paul Miller?  It has really energized and changed the way I view prayer.**