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

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Just Life

I took this video (not the greatest quality, it's just my camera) last Sunday evening when we unexpectedly had all of our family here except for Joey, Jamie, and the twins. Chet wanted play a new song he wrote so I filmed it. I love seeing the random activity that is going on all around which is so typical of our home.

People are carrying on a conversation in the background (we all speak and listen in layers!), Keith has younger siblings lounging on top of him while looking through his own baby book as Nicole rocks their infant son nearby, girls are talking at the table (they thought I was going to take a photo and all froze and smiled), Chet forgets the words of his song and just carries on, Bryce is giving back rubs, Shane is on the computer studying for a test, some of the guys are in another room talking, Dana is outside on the phone with David, Gabe is bouncing from one place to another, and I'm just reveling in seeing the mesh of lives scattered throughout the house and hearing the beautiful sounds.

Joey and Jamie--I thought you might enjoy getting in on the confusion.
Light and Mendo--I thought you might enjoy a reminder of the crazy place you called home for a year!
I like the ending, "Our Jesus is Everything".

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Northern Exposure

People think we live in igloos up here above the 45th parallel (if you are a high school graduate and you don't know what the 45th parallel is I have two things to say: 1, you should; and 2, you should question the validity of that diploma--just my opinion).

I was saying...and especially for the benefit of our new pastor and his family who think they're entering the ice age (they got rid of all their sprinklers, not sure if they thought grass didn't grow in the permafrost or thought no one ever removed their long underwear for a run through the sprinkler)...that we do NOT live in igloos.

Gardens are being planted, the daffodils are a memory, trees are leafed out, and the thermometers are stretching to 90 degrees. We headed to the lake for the afternoon yesterday.

I love watching the children go on without me, seeing them care for one another. Gabe is loved.

The older three took off running into the lake right away. That first run is the best part of the swim. They kept running back, lining up, and racing back into the water, reliving the exhilaration of the plunge.

Gabe gave it try, too. And ran right back onto high ground.

It didn't take him long to decide the deep water wasn't for him. He'd go under, struggle back up, tip over, struggle up, and finally be rescued by a brother (no, he was never in danger--I'm an ex-lifeguard and he was fine). In fact, he surprised us all when he came up sputtering, caught his breath, and hollered, "I fine!"

Owen carried him out and tried to get him to "swim" a little with him. Nothing doing!

The older three dug out a "pond" for him which was more mud than water but kept him delighted.

The cloud cover was wonderful, keeping the 90 degree temps feeling like 90 and not 100. It also kept us from getting burned. A "cold front" (more like an "add-a-breeze-dip-in-the-temperature front") brought it down to 80 and the activity moved up to the sand.

We had a delightful, very summer-like day. It was even worth forgetting about a dentist appointment and rushing into the office--late, wrapped in towels, and covered in sand--making all of the neat and tidy professionals feel jealous!

So don't sell your swim towels just yet, Sigafoos family, you may find there'll be a day or two where a lawn chair and a glass of lemonade by the lake will be very welcome!

(Note: You're moving north, they drink lemonade up here, not sweet tea--but we can brew a pot for you if you want)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Do the Math

Before I get to the math part of this post (and math being my favorite subject makes it hard for me to get side-tracked from those wonderful numbers) I have to give credit to my friend Marcia for getting me to even think about this matter.

Marcia is a dear friend who shares my love of home and family and CAMP!, but most importantly and independent of our other interests, a love of Jesus Christ our Savior. Marcia has been sharing her spiritual and physical battle with obesity in her blog Fat Little Secrets. I appreciate Marcia's candidness about her struggles and her willingness to be a help to other women who may also be struggling.

Marcia is using the Weight Watchers program and exercise to manage her diet and get her health under control. She is working, hard! Her program is not a quick-fix-easy-eat-as-you-please routine. I have appreciated her advice on food substitutions and portion control as I navigate my own journey through middle age and a natural change in metabolism.

So, all of these things were sort of floating in the back of my brain recently when I passed a Twinkie display in the grocery store. I saw them, and I wanted one. I REALLY wanted one. And the dumb thing was, and I knew it was dumb, is that I don't even like Twinkies! I just felt like eating something and they looked good and somehow as a kid I guess I thought I liked them, or bought into the advertizing that said I liked them. But I knew I didn't really want to buy a box of them because after one bite I would remember why I didn't like them.

So, I just went to the aisle and walked past them to make myself feel better. There, right next to the real deal was the Weight Watchers version, and I thought of Marcia and her substitutions (which sometimes, but certainly not always, include the program's name brand products).

And I wondered what the difference was between the two treats. I picked up the boxes and compared. Regular cake--150 calories, Diet cake--80 calories. Hmmm, almost half the calories, not bad. I put the boxes back and walked on.

I stopped and wondered what the difference was in the "serving size". I turned around. Regular cake--43 grams (this was not included on the label, but 10 cakes were 430 grams and, well, I told you I like math (I did it in my head, too); Diet cake--25 grams. Hmmm, almost half the serving size, too.

Something started to click. I didn't have enough math cells or time to do too much in-the-store figuring so I got out a pen and paper and jotted down the numbers to compare at home.

I headed for the checkout. I stopped and wondered what the price difference was between those cakes (you think I'd have thought of that earlier). I dismissed it and kept going. But it got to me and I turned around. Regular cakes--$0.24 per cake, Diet cake--$0.50 per cake. Hmmm, the diet cake, rather than halving the regular just doubled it.

I went home and did the math. When lining up the two cakes, gram for gram (comparing a whole diet cake with slightly more than half a regular cake) the difference was this--7 calories (2 fat calories), 3.4 mg cholesterol, 50 mg sodium, and .7 g carbohydrates.

An even half of a regular cake was 22.5 grams compared to the diet cake's 25 grams with an overall difference of 5 calories, .75 g cholesterol, 30 mg sodium, and 1.5 g carbohydrates.

It turns out you could buy a box of the regular cakes and cut each one in half and have 20 servings instead of getting a box of diet cakes with 6 servings. The cost for a serving with the half a regular cake is $0.12 versus $0.50 for the diet.

So Marcia, this one's for you. I know that you have achieved an amazing level of discipline as you have so faithfully followed your diet and exercise plan. I don't even know if you LIKE Twinkies, but if you do...there's the math. (Keep up the good work!!)

NOTE: It goes without saying, even though I'm saying it anyway, that if someone would struggle with spreading out those 20 servings of half-cakes over their determined number of days they may be better off to just spend the money and let that psychological factor of "I got to eat the whole thing" work for them. I was just doing the math!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

Kids Crack Me Up

One of my favorite "family bonding exercises" is to have the children go around the room and say something they all like about each other. Thinking critically comes naturally and I like to encourage them to think positively about one another. It's also good for a child who thinks everyone is against them to get some positive feedback.

Some of the observations are pretty humorous. Such as:

"I like him because he's like a clone of myself so I always have someone to play with."

"I don't know why you're having so much trouble thinking of something you like about me, I thought of one right away!" (Umm, finding things you like about yourself wasn't the point of this particular excercise.)

"I like him because if I have something, like candy, that he wants and he takes it and I ask him to give it back he always throws it at me... instead of running away with it."

"I like Gabe because he doesn't know how to swear."

"I like Mom because she cooks our food all the time and never stops."

It's not only a good excercise for the children, it helps me keep my humor cup full.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


Chet unexpectedly stopped by the house this week. Gabe saw him and went running towards him. Chet (always a favorite of Gabe's) called, "Hey Buddy", and held out his arms. Gabe flew right on past him yelling, "Scilla!!"

Gabe ran to the entryway and then looked out the window to see if she was on her way into the house, but finally determined that Priscilla was not here. Only then did he reluctantly return and "settle" for a hug from his brother.

Chet didn't really feel too bad. In fact, if their positions had been switched he knew he would have done exactly the same thing.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mother's Month

I know it's just called Mother's 'Day', but I feel like this whole month is dedicated to the joys of being a mother. Baseball season has begun and while that doesn't seem like a mother-centric activity I find it enjoyable to be "forced" outside, I enjoy watching my boys have fun playing, I enjoy connecting with the other adults on the bench, and I get to do it all because I'm a mother. I know that sports can only take up so much of a life and it shouldn't be our focus and there are more important things to do...but, my kids LOVE to throw balls and hit ball and catch them and watching them and playing with them is part of what I love about being their mother.

I enjoy the flowers that start opening up in May. I just love the apple blossoms, the hyacinths, daffodils, and tulips, and the proliferation of white flowers covering the forest floor all around us--the trilium that my children call "mothers day flowers".

I love getting out on Sunday afternoons and finding trails to hike. We've been doing this since before we were married and have listened to a myriad of whines and complaints about the walks and hikes over the years. When Dana was little (I admit it, she was very little) we went on a long hike (again I admit it, it was VERY long) and she was tired and fussy. Keith and I were toting Troy and Shane and didn't want to add a five-year-old to our packs so she had to walk. I tried to bribe her saying she'd get a treat when we reached the van if she didn't fuss. After about 2 minutes she whimpered, "Mama, a fuss just wants to come out." It melted Keith's heart and he hiked the final leg with one child on his back and another on his shoulders. Now, Dana loves to hike and the years of her complaining are a distant memory. Other children are riding and older ones are learning to help, wait for, and care for the little ones.

May is when I get to attend the annual WPA homeschool convention. Twenty years ago I was soaking up every word and piece of advice to help me with my attempts to teach my children. Now it's my turn to motivate and teach. Because I'm a mother I get to use my experience to help others along and I love feeling useful. I get to push myself and do what I tell my children to do--don't worry about being up in front of a crowd, no one really cares if you mess up as long as you're not consumed with yourself and worried about it.

May is when we head up to Camp Nicolet to rake and clean and work in exchange for our use of it for our summer family camp. Being a mother is what gives me the family and brings me to this camp that has opened the door to so many good friendships and special relationships over the past 17 years.

And this May I have been with or will be with all of my children and grandchildren and I am reminded of how wonderful it is to see our family grow and to see our children grow up and start families of their own.

I think one of the hardest things that new moms find about being a new mom is having to take the back seat. It seems that moms are always caring for someone else and meeting needs besides their own and it can seem like a thankless job. And most of the time it is. But, it's an amazingly rewarding job. I couldn't help but notice how few faces I got in my hiking pictures. I realized it was because I was usually behind everyone, which is where moms tend to be, backing them up, picking up after them, keeping a watch over them. It's a very good place to be.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Senior Texting

In many techno areas of my life I would be lost without my teenagers. I'm frequently heard saying, "Boys! Can someone show me how to do this?"

My dad, however, is on his own.
My dad is 74.
My dad just got texting on his cell phone (which he wouldn't even have if my loving sister, Kari, didn't get for him because she worries about him in his aging years).

The other night I texted Dad about a genealogy item we'd discussed, just to test out his texting to see if it would be a feasible way to keep in touch--send pictures, give baseball game updates of the kids, etc.

To my rather informative text, Dad replied, "Hi"

My teenagers chuckled. I thought nothing more about it...

Until, my phone started blipping at about 6 am the next morning. After 4 or 5 blips and dreaming that Keith was texting for work I realized it was my own phone. I will let the following text log between me and my dad speak for itself: (all texts are incoming unless otherwise noted)

6:10 Upspps
6:12 Ups
6:15 Hi
6:16 Hi
6:17 Hi
6:17 Hi
6:18 .
6:18 Hi
6:20 Act
6:21 Dad
6:22 (I replied) Good morning Dad
6:23 Hi
6:28 Hello
6:30 (I replied) I think you have the greeting part down
6:36 Ups
6:46 Gee

A few minutes later the phone rang. It was Dad. "I can't figure this thing out." Hmm, I was rather under that impression already, but thanks for confirming my suspicions.

But, Dad, why the "ups" and "act" and "gee"? Because, he said, he thought it was kinda cool that he put in something that was 'real' and figured he may as well send it.

When I was little Dad would wake me up by tiptoeing into my room, getting right up to my ear, and whispering "peeka peeka peeka". It was kind of funny but a rather annoying way to wake up. I think it beat getting "ups" texts.

Kari, next time you see Dad--texting lessons!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Handmade especially for Mom

Lisa did a craft project at the homeschool group recently.
She made this for me.
She used green and yellow because they're Packer colors.
She knows that if my kids aren't on the team, I don't care about it.
No matter.
She knew yellow was my favorite color.
It was supposed to be a flower.

But, she decided it didn't really look much like a flower, not much at all.
She fixed that.

It is now a whisk stirring green beans.