SAL-VA-TION: by grace

E-LEV-EN: children from 1984 to 2006

HOME-SCHOOL-ING: since 1990

DOWN-SYN-DROME: susie and gabe

GRAND-CHILD-REN: since 2010

FAITH-FUL-NESS: my steadfast rock, my biggest supporter, my leader, my friend, my love, my husband

Friday, February 27, 2009

Gabe Update

Whatever you call him--Gabe, Gabers, Mister, Dude, Punkadunk--if you love him here's your update. I thought of you, Ellen, saying how you missed him and thought you'd like to know what Mr. Almost Three is up to.

He still loves his "apple" videos but gets bored more quickly and wants variety. He loves watching Little Bear and Barney with Lisa.

If he wants something he is finding alternatives to yelling.
Last week he grabbed my leg and pushed me into the kitchen for an "oonk" (drink).
Last night he sat in his chair singing, "Mama, mama, mama," with his hands spread out for 'all done'.

Yesterday he climbed on the table to get a drink from a glass of water sitting there. He doesn't have the tipping technique down yet and poured the water into his face and all down his shirt.

He was momentarily distressed until he figured out another way to get his drink.

When Daddy got home from work yesterday he ran to him with arms open yelling, "Daddy, Daddy, Hi Daddy!"
I put him in his chair this morning and asked, "Do you want to eat?" and he said, "OK".
A few weeks ago at the ice scultures he ran ahead of me but kept stopping every five or ten feet and looking to see if I was coming. He also does that at the library now, too. Yeah!!
He still loves to climb and pushes chairs around to get up to otherwise inaccessible heights.

I told him I wanted to take his picture and he got shy.

I told him I wanted one for Ellen and he cooperated wonderfully!

Blog Update: "Child 4" left a comment saying, "If you had asked him to take a picture for Chet he would have done a trick. Guaranteed."

I tried it. "Gabe, let's take a picture for Chet!"

Just to make sure it wasn't a fluke I told him, "Now, let's take another one for Ellen."

Sorry Chet, I don't know what to tell you!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Gabe and Maurice

Gabe loves Ellen's lovebird, Maurice. Maurice doesn't return the sentiments--perhaps it has something to do with Gabe climbing on the counter and knocking his cage to the ground, I can only imagine how skittish Maurice would be if he'd actually been in the cage.

This is sort of how their relationship goes:

Gabe wonders: How do I get that yellow ball of fascination?

Gabe: Rats, just a tad too high. (Gabe always says 'tad', of course.)

Gabe: Thanks Mama!....wait, owww!
Maurice: OK kid, you want claws? You got claws.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Paula wasn't diagnosed with cancer until it had invaded her pelvis, spine, and rib cage. She was 39. Her four children were 15, 14, 12, and 5. There was no cure, no hope, only a ticking time clock.

We spent a lot of time together during her two year battle--down in Illinois and up in the northwoods. Doctors "gave her" months, she wanted years. She received undesirable treatments and prolonged her crippled state to get as many extra minutes as she could with her children. Her bones crumbled and snapped and she pushed on.

Paula died seven years ago today. She was living five hours away at that time and I couldn't visit her during the final weeks of my pregnancy. I asked her to hold on. She didn't think she could.

She wanted me to have a baby girl so badly. My previous four were all boys and she was sure this one would be a girl. Her last two weeks were spent in a coma, unresponsive. I called her husband the night Lisa was born and he gave her the news. She only lived another 36 hours. One more week and I could have gone. Instead, I went to her funeral.

Paula was one of the best friends I've had. We became friends because of our children, homeschooling, and typical mom reasons. We stayed friends for us. To this day I keep with me reminders from Paula of what friends should be.

Friends know that they should encourage and admonish one another, but they encourage naturally, often, and regularly while they admonish seldom and with great tenderness--face to face, not behind a back.

Friends do not let the opinions, successes, or failures of their children come between them. When it comes to children they are quick to praise accomplishments, shrug at immaturity, listen with understanding to concerns, offer advice in love, and accept advice in the same spirit.

Friends can talk about difficult life or personal issues knowing that they will receive a sympathetic ear. They offer advice from a sincere heart that desires good for their friend.

For awhile I tried looking for friends like Paula. But I stopped. God didn't give me the examples in Paula so that I would look for those attributes in others. Rather, He gave them so that I would strive to possess those attributes myself.

I think of how this mirrors my attitudes about being like Christ. I often lose the focus of patterning my own life after Christ and start trying to find others that I think look like Christ. It often leaves me critical and judgmental, and even further from my intended goal.

And as I consider the journey it takes to become a good friend or to be like Jesus Christ I see a road stretching out with no end. I don't think there is ever a place on that road where my focus is supposed to shift so that I am "looking for" others with all of the qualities I desire. I trust that God will bring those people into my life just like he gave me Paula, and maybe someday use my life to be an encouragement to some--the way hers was, and is, to me.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Dolly Girl!!

Little Miss Lisa was seven yesterday. Her birthday marks the anniversary of what I always look back on as an amazing string of events, but more on that another day.

Lisa wore a home made crown (by Bryce) all day because she was the princess--actually she said she was the "king", she went right for the top of the command chain. Here she is with Rich and Susie. They were over the the afternoon with their daughter, Tracy. At one point Lisa looked sorrowfully at me and said, "All three of my sisters are gone." (Ellen in Guyana, Dana and Mary away for the weekend.) I told her our friends added two more girls just for her.

Susie brought some flowering tea and made a pot for Lisa. Here was the reaction:


She was much happier with gift opening and dessert. I kissed her for choosing rootbeer floats!

Top of the Hill Dining

Ellen, this is for you. I took Light to the Thai buffet by Bryce and Dad to the Mexican buffet by Consuela this week. I thought you'd enjoy a couple of pictures. They say hello as does Vicki. Mary is at the ACF (?) in Illinois until tomorrow. Lesson learned during exprerimentation--do not use quinoa on your food plate, it looks like burned oatmeal.

The Wood Room Birthday project

I'm sure this will only be of interest to my children and sister, who are probably the only people who've been in our wood room--aka storage room, messy room, utility room, just-stay-outta-there-it's-nasty room.

The reason I was cleaning the pantry--see gross mouse story-- (and root cellar) was to make room for the usable stuff that was being cleaned out of the wood room. It was Project Birthday Surprise for Dad. He was in Dallas for the two days before his birthday.

On day one I cleared out those three rooms, emptying the woodroom into the family room and reorganizing the pantry and root cellar. That evening additional forces joined in. Keith jr. rewired the light socket and hung two shop lights. David and I went through the work benches in the barn, filled a box with scrap metal, filled three trash bags, and brought the rest into the playroom. Nicole kept up with the children so I could keep working. They left and I painted until 12:30.

On day two I skipped spinning and sorted all of the family room mess and put the usable stuff in the newly cleaned rooms and moved the rest up to the playroom. At noon, Shane, Bryce, and Owen carted four big boxes and seven bags into the van for a Goodwill run (which I later ran). They also carried out eight trash bags, a pile of boxes for burning, and a plethera of old paint cans. Then they opened the cans and left them to dry out on the old work benches. I moved all of the tools to the woodroom and finally we swept, vacuumed, and destroyed evidence of our mission.

Dad got home at 10:00 and commented about Dana taking his parking spot in the barn (planned, of course, to keep him from seeing the changes to his work area). While he was at work on Thursday we sorted through boxes of nails, screws, nuts, and bolts and put them in storage compartments. I bought a rolling tool chest and work bench and Owen sorted tape measures hammers, screw drivers, plyers, and wrenches into appropriate drawers. Finally, I tackled the job of installing an outlet--stripping wiring, twisting whites and blacks and grounds, and capping and taping--and tada! it was done.

Here is what Dad saw when he was led downstairs for the surprise.

Happy 45th Keith!

Thursday, February 19, 2009


I was looking for a synonym for "unaffected" for the title of this post. I thought "unmoved" was good, but liked "impervious" the best. One of the entries, however, was "cold fish" and made me wonder if that's really what I am....

Here's my story. Yesterday I was cleaning out and reorganizing the pantry. I was sweeping and leaned over to pick up a larger than dust bunny sized object. It wasn't until I stood up and held my hand in the brighter light that I realized I was holding this:

I thought, "Oh yuck, it's a dead mouse," in the most casual manner and dropped it into the the trash bag. Then I thought again, and this time my thought was, "I'm getting old." There are three very specific reasons that I thought that.

1) About 2-3 weeks ago there was a very bad smell in the pantry. I kept checking the refrigerator for a forgotten piece of meat and, when I couldn't find anything suspicious, I decided that some critter must have died in the pantry. And I went about my life. If I'd been younger I'd have turned that room upside down looking for the deceased. But, I just didn't have the gumption to assert myself.

2) I couldn't see well enough in the shadows to recognize that the oversized dust bunny was actually a dead mouse! It was a good sized one at that, and my dimming eyesight did not pick it out.

3) I didn't flinch, scream, or even fling the thing. I was..not..bothered that I was holding a dead mouse, in my bare hand! Not bothered a bit. That was strange.

I have reached a new level of mellow that I didn't think was possible to attain.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

UNwilling participants

I heard the typical groans and grumbles from my students as they prepared for yesterday's homeschool World Fair. This morning I checked out yesterday's "to do" list and read,
Number 1: Call the homeschool group coordinator and tell her we're not coming.


Last night we did attend the homeschool World Fair.

Shane shared information about the history, geography, and people of Norway while Bryce and Owen intermittently threw out "Sven and Ole" jokes.

Lisa finished it off singing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" in Norwegian. She picked up the microphone, sang the first line, and her mind went blank. She rolled her eyes, shook her head, and just said, "Sorry Mom".

It made me feel like one of the trolls we've been reading about!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A centimeter every how long?

You know how geologists tell us that stalagmites grow on the floor of caves at a rate of one centimeter every hundred years, or something like that?

We grew this one in our refrigerator in about 18 hours. We must have some kind of magic milk dripping in there.

Valentine Surprise

I thought it was just the two of us, driving to Wausau for dinner and a night away from the family.

I was surprised when we just happened to "bump into" Marty and Kelly at the restaurant. We casually decided to eat dinner together ("change that reservation from 2 to 4 please") and then all went back to our hotel room to relax during the hour wait for a table.

After returning to the restaurant I was surprised to see the reservation list stating "party of 8". Hmm, funny error.

I was surprised when the hostess actually led us to a table for 8.

I turned around and was REALLY surprised to see these four!

If I'd known what was going on Friday night I would have brought my camera and taken pictures at the restaurant and then later at the bowling alley. This picture was taken at church this morning. Friday night will just have to live in my memory!

It turns out the guys were all in on it together, surprising the wives.
Note: If you want to keep a secret from Jamie do not, I repeat do not, send emails on the subject to her and Joey's joint email account. Joey did point out, however, that it would have been pretty tough to drive three hours away "for dinner" all the while trying to pretend that they wouldn't be seeing us.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The teenage brain

My favorite parenting book, Ted Tripp's "Shepherding a Child's Heart", describes teenagers as "half baked". Meaning that they have adult thought processes and can handle reasoning, but that process doesn't always come to completion as an adult's would/should.

I now have two favorite examples of this.

#1--Several years ago while having a conversation about something that had been written by an older pastor concerning modesty and lust my 16 year old son asked,
"What would a 70 year old man know about lust?"

#2--This one was added yesterday. Pulling into a parking spot my 14 year old son looked at the open handicapped spots and asked,
"Do they give everyone a pass for the handicapped parking when they turn 50?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Michigan Tech Winter Carnival

Last Friday a group of us headed up to Michigan Tech for the annual Winter Carnival to view the results of the snow/ice sculpture competition. It was a "balmy" 35 degrees and sunny! The theme was space.

This was one of my favorites. It was hard to be original with a space theme so it was a welcome change to see the barn and silo. The whole scene showed a farm and a crashed spacecraft in the field.

This one was good too--50 years of space history.

I don't know how they make the ice chains--I love those.


The grand prize winner

Light, Owen, Shane, Lisa, Bryce, Gabe, and Chet

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Federally funded crime

I heard a story on the news (not mainstream, of course) that made me wonder what would happen if the facts were skewed and the story reapplied. What would our government do? What would the mainstream media report? What would people think?

Let's say the story was about an investigation done by the Department of Public Instruction. Let's say they teamed up with the FBI to infiltrate the homeschooling community and find out what those people are really about and what their true agenda really is. They say they just want the freedom to choose the best education for their children and that they are law abiding citizens. Is that true?

Let's say the investigation goes on for several months and then, in light of the vast amount of evidence, they go public to expose what's really going on. Let's say they learned that, after questioning over 300 parents--casually over a cup of tea or in the library or at a play group or after a Sunday School class (because that's where those homeschoolers would be most comfortable and at ease talking to "their own kind") it was discovered that over 75% confess that they were not holding to the standards laid out by their state in the matter of education. They were not putting in the required hours, they were not covering any core subjects, and they were not concerned about preparing their kids for the future. They admit that, if tested, their kids would fall dismally below even the most base standards of academic acceptance levels.

Let's say they even coach their kids on how to avoid truant officers and how to make excuses for why they are at the mall or the skateboard park on a school day.

Let's say that some of these parents even keep their kids home to tend to the preschoolers as full time babysitters.

What would happen? What kind of investigation would go on?

Let's even say that the homeschoolers were all receiving educational vouchers in accordance with the public school per student costs (which would be anywhere from $3000 to $15000 per student depending on how you do the math). Now what would happen?

Even if the kids were happy with the situation. Even if they wanted to be home caring for their siblings or hanging out at the mall. Even if it was their choice. What would happen?

I'm pretty sure I know what would happen. At the very least homeschooling as we know it would end. And there would certainly be an immediate end to the outpouring of any government funds that were associated with it, not to mention lawsuits, arrests, and criminal investigations. Parental rights would be terminated. Right?

The fact is, in the real world this scenario hasn't happened, and there are no public dollars going out to fund the education of homeschooled children. (Investigations by the WI DPI have actually shown accelaration and high accountability in the education of homeschoolers, no story here.)

Nonetheless, this is based on a real story. The story is not about education and freedom of choice but it is about Planned Parenthood's so-called "freedom of choice".

A group called Life Dynamics really did run a private investigation on Planned Parenthood. Young women posing as 13 year olds called over 800 Planned Parenthood facilities to say that they were pregnant by a 22 year old boyfriend and wanted help.

What should have happened? The basis for the right answer:
In all 50 states, sexual activity with underage children is illegal. Also, every state mandates that if a healthcare worker has reason to suspect that an underage girl is being sexually abused, they are required by law to report that information to a designated law enforcement or child protective services agency. That agency is then responsible to investigate the possibility that the child may be the victim of sexual abuse or statutory rape.

What actually happened? In over 90% of the calls the "healthcare workers" at Planned Parenthood
made a conscious decision to conceal the sexual exploitation of children and protect the men who commit these crimes.

What is being done? Nothing. Who is being charged? No one. What investigations are taking place? None. How many of our tax dollars are pouring into this scam? Upwards of $1.5 Billion per year.

Don't know what to do? Neither do I. But I posted the story. I'm giving you the link. Read the story. If you have email you can pass it on. It's If you have more experience and have better ideas leave a comment and I'll post it.

If it means more to you to be able to actually see what's going on, watch this:

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My new favorite day

Growing up I loved Friday, when my children were all under six it was Monday, and more recently it's been Sunday. But a new day is edging into the favorite spot. Why?

My husband gave me the most awesome gift of a three hour vacation one day a week for TWELVE weeks. He hired a child care professional (my beloved daughter-in-law Nicole) to come every Thursday from 11 to 2 to care for the home and its occupants. Meanwhile, I am free to do what...ever...I...want! Tomorrow marks my fifth vacation day and I'm SO EXCITED already.

Thursday--I love you!

Thank you Coley and Keith!

Monday, February 2, 2009

It's HOW you say it

The boys have been spending a lot of their free time skating and playing hockey. Mendo joined them one night last week and after returning (from only his second time on the ice) I asked him how it went. He said he was surprised at how little he fell but conceded that he still had trouble with stopping. However, he told me that this method worked well for him:
"I went as fast as I could to the wall and then I would stop for sure."
I guess that would do the trick.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Which is it?

It's been almost a year and I'm still spinning three days a week. I've pretty much got the routine down and can do a good imitation of an "old pro" if Iwant to. There's just one thing I haven't got figured out.

When effervescent Sue yells out, "Keep your core tight!" followed by "Relax your upper body!", what is she saying?