Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How to Do an Expensive Birthday in this Economy.

Blackeyed Susan will be sixteen in just a few days. We use this occasion to celebrate each of our children's decision to remain pure until marriage.

We make it a Big Deal: we buy a ring as a reminder of their promise to themselves and their future spouse. We take them to dinner for a Really Fabulous Meal at the restaurant of their choice. We use the time to talk about their decision, and our ongoing support as mentors and cheerleaders.

As you may have noticed, however, the economy is Different than the last time we had a sixteen-year-old (that would be, 1999). So, after talking it over with Susan, we are having the dinner at home ("all I want, Mom, is steak and mushrooms. Lots of mushrooms...). So here is how this Momentous Birthday is panning out, fiscally:

Pretty, pretty ring at Kohl's "60% off fine jewelry" sale:

Really good-looking top sirloin steaks at Kroger's for $3.49 a pound: $13.48
Broccoli (frozen, her preference) on sale: 1.oo
Grands biscuits: 1.33
Mushrooms (not on sale--errgghh): 2.79
Baked potatoes (I already have those, no cost): 0.00
Black raspberry/chocolate ice cream: 2.50

Total: $21.10

Compared to the $$$$$$$$$$$ we spent on the first six children....

Oh, well. (I will tell you that we did the Home Fabulous Dinners for our first six for their Prom Dinners--the boys loved us for it!)

When we decided to do this, about three weeks ago, I figured to spend about twice this much. I am thrilled! But most of all, I am thrilled at the fact that my little girl has reached this point in her life. That she has made two Great Decisions: one, to follow the Lord, and two, to keep herself pure for her husband. (If you'd like to read a little bit more about this, go here.)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

I Found My Friend Again.

Let me tell you about my friend Winnie.

Winnie is my sister-in-law, Charming's sister. I have known her, of course, very nearly as long as I have known Charming. Winnie was 13 when I met her. We both had families of little stairsteps, and hers lined up between mine. We raised our children together for a number of years, until I moved a hundred miles away. For fun, we used to get together once a week for dessert and about four games of Scrabble. We were as close as any best-friends could be.

Winnie went through some hard, hard times. Her husband began to show signs of mental illness. Some of her sons got into trouble. Then her husband died, almost five years ago, and her family fell apart. Winnie trying to cope, her children so, so angry. Relationships deteriorated.

Every time I saw Winnie, it seemed she was further and further away. We couldn't seem to talk anymore. We even tried Scrabble, because when you're playing Scrabble, it's easier to be a little more vulnerable. We tried to find our way back, but nothing was working. I'm sure she felt the same about me. We prayed, of course, but at family gatherings we were polite and civil, and that's all we could do. I began to mourn the loss of this wonderful friendship, not seeing how it could ever be repaired. But our Lord is in the business of Redeeming Things.

Winnie's children are much more healthy, emotionally and mentally, and the last year has seen great strides in Getting Their Lives Together. Much of the credit is due to the fact that some of them have rededicated their lives to the Lord. Each report I received was more and more hopeful.

Fast forward to yesterday and today. I spent a good deal of time with Winnie, and we talked. and Talked. and TALKED. And the beautiful thing was, it was the Real Winnie I was talking to, and the Real Barbie she was talking to. God was there, and He was smiling. I have found my Friend again. Thank You, Father.

We were too busy to play Scrabble, though.

(But that's okay: we have two games going on Facebook!)

Friday, March 20, 2009

An Encouraging Word

Oh, my.

If you want an encouraging word regarding your homeschooling today, go see Leila at Like Mother, Like Daughter. She has condensed into two words what is necessary to be successful at this Homeschooling Adventure.

And those two little words have nothing to do with Curriculum. Or How Much Education You Have as the Teacher. Or Learning Styles.

The two little words are Order and Wonder. Now, go read it--I'll wait for you.

I kinda fall down on the Wonder part. As a person who still embraces her Wonder, as far as learning cool stuff is concerned, I usually want to share all that cool stuff with my kids. When they would probably like to find their own cool stuff to learn. I could do much, much better at stepping back and letting them take the lead.

And I REALLY fall short on the Order scale. Leila says, "Are you peaceful with your own duties?" Wow. She really knows how to phrase a question. As a "messie," (a person who is extremely challenged by the everyday chores others see as "no big deal") the physical part of homekeeping is, by far, my biggest struggle. Always has been. Maybe always will be.

Of COURSE I know that living in chaos is, well, chaotic. And that living in order gives an atmosphere of now-we-have-room-to-do-all-that-cool-stuff. I love Flylady, but don't always "do" Flylady. Still strugglin' there.

I am going to be chewing on this Order and Wonder thing for awhile. 'Course, since my youngest two are 15 and 14, it's none too soon. But, since four of my grandbabies live four blocks away, and the other two are within a five-minute drive, there's loads of Wonder yet ahead.

And loads of Order, too--I'm hopin'!

Monday, March 16, 2009

I'm Out of the Office Today...

You can find me over at Fresh Starts today!

You need to bookmark this site. Every Monday, Jen has a devotional for Moms that will enrich your week. It is always good, good stuff.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Working. Thinking. Waiting. Praying.

Working. and Thinking.

This is my "Cinnamon and Toast" quilt, made of post-Civil War reproduction fabrics. I've been working on this one for two or three years. I hand-stitched the squares, and machine-stitched the rows of squares together. Hand-stitching works well when you are Waiting.
Waiting at the dentist's or at ballet. While fellowshipping before Ladies' Bible Study on Wednesdays. I'm making a hand-stitched quilt as a legacy for each of my daughters and daughters-in-law. This one will be Lily's, but not yet. Alvin Fernald is looking forward to its being a "couch quilt."
I'm more than halfway done with the quilting, trying to do a square or two everyday. But if I don't get to it, it's okay. I've already spent two or three years waiting!
Others of us are waiting, as well. There is talk of getting rid of one of the managers where Charming works. How easy it is to "forget" that the Lord is our provider, *not* the employer. How easy it is to get used to that regular paycheck.
So many in the same boat. Unemployed or underemployed. We live in an area with higher unemployment than other places, due to the fact that factories here supply auto parts to manufacturers. One county in the area has 17% unemployment. Most of the people there work in RV plants.
A little glimpse of how the finished quilt will look:
Thinking. And trusting in the Only One worthy of my trust. And Hoping. Is it okay to hope we don't have to go through unemployment?
Like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof, I want to say to God, "would it spoil some Vast, Eternal Plan," if You don't let this economic situation touch us?
Oh, well. I've lived long enough to know that this wouldn't even be CLOSE to the end of life on this planet. I have nothing to complain about. When we were very young-married, Charming was out of work for six months, but we never went without a meal. We had pb&j for three meals a day for a week (and the last two days, we just had the "j"), but we have Never Been Hungry.
Psalm 37:25 "I have never seen the righteous forsaken, or his seed begging for bread."
I found out yesterday that a homeschooling friend's home burned to the ground. So I'm done complaining. And hopefully, done worrying. God is good. All the time. If I pray "Thy will be done," I have to know that His will is "to conform me to the image of His Son." And whatever that takes is not too high a price.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Do You Really Think It's Fair...

...that Blackeyed Susan's very first layer cake (and a three-layer, at that!) came out wonderfully perfectly? Every layer raised to the same height, and perfectly flat into the bargain:
I wanted to share a photo of Don Quixote's birthday quilt:
Don's favorite color is Black, so the color choice was easy. I had made a black-and-white quilt for a gift last year, and so I added just a very few extra fabrics, and I was "good to go."
The pattern is called Chinese Coins. You may not know that Don Very Nearly Completed a novel during his college years. In this science fiction/political thriller, a Chicago native becomes Premier of China, under the name of Omicron. So I named the quilt Omicron's Coin of the Realm.
Now, for a few details! Don asked for a "little color" in his quilt. I decided to place these few pieces in a Fibonacci sequence, one of our family inside jokes. So, there are colored patches in places 1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21, etc. in the rows of "coins."
I chose a Chinese red for one of the colored fabrics. I also have a fabric with chambered nautiluses (nautili?), one of the places in nature where the Fibonacci sequence occurs. I also used a fabric with multicolored puzzle pieces, the symbol of autism. (You may know that Don has Asperger's Syndrome.)
In just one of the squares, I used this cute "Nerds Rock" fabric. The little boy on the fabric looks remarkably like Don, when he was ten years old:

I found this great "numbers" fabric, which I used in four of the squares. If you have read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe, you will recognize "42" as the answer to "Life, the Universe, and Everything":

I quilted the quilt in black thread (naturally!) with "X's" in the black-and-white areas, and circles in the yellow bars. The Greek letter Omicron is a circle; the circles could represent "coins"; and, they *could* be kisses-and-hugs, with the x's and o's. It's all about the love for my darlin' Don Quixote, who turns 32 on the 26th.
(by the way, I knew that Don liked the color orange, and I considered it for the alternating bars. However, it looked Jack-o-lantern--ish, so I chose yellow. Which ended up looking bumble-bee--ish :) . I didn't know that Don dislikes yellow. He 'llowed as how he'll attempt to live with it! Don has already had offers to take the quilt off his hands by my two Yellow-Lovers, Charming and Alvin Fernald....
My family is just so darn Helpful, aren't they?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Literature Buffet

This has been a pretty strange week, here in our homeschool.

I had planned to begin Shakespeare's Henry V with the children this week. (thank you, Violet, masters-in-English wizard, for suggesting something "a little different!"), but was waiting for the audio version to come in to my local library branch. I had already secured three copies of the book, *and* the BBC dvd for a treat when we finish. But, as of Monday, the cds had not arrived.

I printed off some historical data from wikipedia. So, Monday was spent talking about the Hundred Years' War, and a "snapshot" of the Battle of Agincourt.

Tuesday came. I didn't really have a plan B, so I picked up an old, old book of literature readings and turned at random to a short bio of Tennyson, followed by The Lady of Shallot. Alvin Fernald thought it was funny to hear the entire poem, of which he heard a very short portion in the Anne of Green Gables movie.

I checked my computer Tuesday afternoon, and my stuff was finally in at the library, so I picked it up. Besides the Henry V cds, I had ordered Animal Farm. I realized just last week that, although my first six children and I watched the fall of the Berlin Wall together (didn't you just love Reagan's speech: "Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down This Wall!"), Blackeyed Susan and Alvin weren't even born yet. Besides, I'm thinkin' that Animal Farm would be a good place to start a conversation about the way our own government might be heading....

Wednesday. We had gotten to bed frightfully late Tuesday night, so I found two teens sitting in opposite corners of our sectional couch, under blankets with their eyes closed, as I came in to begin our day. I didn't want to fight them for Shakespeare, so I began to read Animal Farm aloud. I had forgotten how engaging the writing style was. By the end of Chapter 2, I had the kids asking for more...

So we are dining at the Literature Buffet this week. Not my usual way of doing things, but, as Charming tells this Extremely Linear Thinker and In-the-Box girl, "sometimes you need to shake it up a bit."

And Susan and Alvin reminded me of the wrestling game they used to play with their older brother Don Quixote when he came home from college. It was called "Berlin Wall," and would begin with Don on hands and knees shouting, "it's Nineteen Eighty-Nine!" and the little ones would come a'runnin to "knock it down." Sigh. Where did those little 2- and 4-year olds go?

Oh, yes. They're studying Shakespeare and Tennyson and Orwell. It's a beautiful thing.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Pajama-rama Update

I found some more flannel remnants from past Christmas pajama projects. After I cut them up, my new total is:

4998 squares.
I need to quick find another remnant of flannel, enough to make 2 squares!