Monday, October 22, 2007

Taking a Break

I know that posting has been sketchy around here already since before my surgery, sorry!

Things are really busy around here and I'm just plain stressed and tired, so I'm cutting out the unecessary things in life. This is definitely one of them, though lots of fun.

Our family is also discussing a media fast for the month of November, so I guess I will jump on the ball a little early!

Beginning with Reformation Day and going through the celebration of a New Year, the main thing that all of those holidays do for us is give us a time to celebrate God's total faithfulness to us, his people, in the past and the sure promise of His continued faithfulness to us in the future.

God Bless!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

It's been an unusual Tuesday. Pastor Smith is still in town and gave the young people a talk on the Great Commission. It was very good and they all did a wonderful job sitting still and paying attention for the hour and a half talk. There were a few good questions and I think that Pastor Smith was pleased, I know we Moms were.

Tuesday is my paperwork day, but not much of that got done with a trip out in the middle of the day. We did finish school, including the things we skipped yesterday to get ready for company.

To get ready for Sunday: I plan my menu and dessert and check for ingredients. I also make sure that clothes are chosen and get cared for (washed, pressed, buttons sewed on, whatever).

Tonight's dinner is leftover sauerkraut...I'm feeling a little overdone and am glad that we have plenty leftovers in the fridge.

Anothere Encouraging Article

Oct 04, 2007 06:00 ET
The Fraser Institute: Home Schooling Improves Academic Performance and Reduces Impact of Socio-Economic Factors
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 4, 2007) - Home schooling appears to improve the academic performance of children from families with low levels of education, according to a report on home schooling released today by independent research organization The Fraser Institute.

"The evidence is particularly interesting for students who traditionally fall through the cracks in the public system," said Claudia Hepburn, co-author of Home Schooling: From the Extreme to the Mainstream, 2nd edition and Director of Education Policy with The Fraser Institute.

"Poorly educated parents who choose to teach their children at home produce better academic results for their children than public schools do. One study we reviewed found that students taught at home by mothers who never finished high school scored a full 55 percentage points higher than public school students from families with comparable education levels."

The peer-reviewed report, co-written with Patrick Basham and John Merrifield, builds on a 2001 study with new research and data. It examines the educational phenomenon of home schooling in Canada and the United States, its regulation, history, growth, and the characteristics of practitioners, before reviewing the findings on the academic and social effects of home schooling. The full report is available at

Hepburn said evidence clearly demonstrates that home education may help reduce the negative effects of some background factors that many educators believe affects a child's ability to learn, such as low family income, low parental educational attainment, parents not having formal training as teachers, race or ethnicity of the student, gender of the student, not having a computer in the home, and infrequent usage of public libraries.

"The research shows that the level of education of a child's parents, gender of the child, and income of family has less to do with a child's academic achievement than it does in public schools."

The study also reports that students educated at home outperform their peers on most academic tests and are involved in a broad mix of social activities outside the home.

Research shows that almost 25 per cent of home schooled students in the United States perform one or more grades above their age-level peers in public and private schools. Grades 1 to 4 home school students perform one grade level higher than their public- and private-school peers. By Grade 8, the average home schooled student performs four grade levels above the national average.

Hepburn said a growing body of new research also calls into question the belief that home schooled children are not adequately socialized.

"The average Canadian home schooled student is regularly involved in eight social activities outside the home. Canadian home schooled children watch less television than other children, and they show significantly fewer problems than public school children when observed in free play," she said.

The report concludes that home schooling is not only a viable educational choice for parents, but can also be provided at a much lower cost than public schooling. The report notes that in the U.S., home schooling families spend less than $4,000 per year on home schooling while public schooling in the U.S. costs about $9,600 per child.

"Canadian and American policymakers should recognize the ability of parents to meet the educational needs of their children at home, without government involvement," Hepburn said.

"While home schooling may be impractical for many families, it has proven to be a successful and relatively inexpensive educational alternative. It merits the respect of policy makers, the attention of researchers, and the consideration of parents."

The complete report, Home Schooling: From the Extreme to the Mainstream 2nd edition is available in PDF format at

The Fraser Institute is an independent research and educational organization based in Canada. Its mission is to measure, study, and communicate the impact of competitive markets and government intervention on the welfare of individuals. To protect the Institute's independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit

Monday, October 08, 2007

Saturday Dinners

It’s been a wonderful, though busy weekend!
I usually try to get all of my cooking for the weekend done on Saturday, but this week we decided to reinstate the tradition of a Lord’s Day Eve dinner.
This was a tradition that we really enjoyed while the kids were younger, but as we got busier with a church that eats together, well, I just wasn’t organized enough to do it all. Now that my sister and mother are living so close by, we really wanted to have that tradition together with them. There is also a really big benefit for us, besides the family memories and together time. This benefit is the main reason we wanted to try again:

Having a special Lord’s Day eve dinner makes us STOP! It forces me to look forward all week and prepare for the Lord’s Day, rather than doing everything on Saturday. Normally, at least lately, I work, work, work all day Saturday and go to bed exhausted, often waking up on Sunday to a house in which the normal housework has been neglected in order to accomplish all of the big tasks I tackled. By Sunday evening, the house is a huge wreck and not a haven at all!

When we are having our special Saturday dinner, there is a cut off time for me. There is a time that I want to have things looking nice by and dinner on the table by… There is a time that I SIT and ENJOY and REFLECT. Lately the reflecting has been as I hit the bed and it is usually full of regret and self-chastisement. I wake up feeling stressed and then when I’m sitting in the pew I have the same prayer of confession, “forgive me for being so hurried this morning, forgive me for not even thinking of my Lord, but of all of the tasks to be done.”

So here is how my Saturday went:
I already had the dinner I was bringing to church made and in the freezer (well not completely, but I’ll get to that!). We had Sauerkraut for dinner on Friday and I froze a portion for our congregational dinner on Sunday. I made a huge push to be caught up on laundry on Thursday and made sure that everyone knew what they were wearing to church.
On Saturday I arose about 7:00 and went to the commissary (I usually do this) in order to beat the crowds. I was home about 9:00 and we hurried to put the groceries away. We worked hard before lunch to get the house clean because Isaac had soccer practice at 12:30 and Steven was driving him to it.
We had lunch about 11:30 and Shayna and I worked on making our dinner, finishing up a couple of loads of laundry, and making the dining room especially nice while setting a nice table.
Dinner was at about 5:00. (I was ready by about 4:00) We had stuffed shells, salad, homemade applesauce, garlic bread and for dessert, brownies and ice cream.
We all worked on the dishes together and went to bed with just a few rinsed and stacked dishes that didn’t fit in the dishwasher to do in the morning.

If you have read, “Making Sunday Special” by Karen Mains you know that she has a whole Shabbat Erev liturgy. We did use to do something similar, and hope to again, but this past Saturday we kept it simple. The only “ceremonial” thing that we did is that while I lit the candles, Conrad prayed this prayer: “O God, the source of eternal light: Shed forth your unending day upon us who watch for you, that our lips may praise you, our lives may bless you, and our worship on the morrow give you glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Then we all closed our eyes and gave thanks for the meal.

After dinner, we prepared for worship by singing the songs from the bulletin and reading the passages. It was hard to guess what the guest preacher was going to preach on, we couldn’t imagine from the sermon title.

Here’s what I did wrong:
I was supposed to have the shells already made and in the freezer, so instead of my lesson planning, I made dinner.
I hadn’t really thought through what we were brining on Sunday, my main dish was done, but I ended up making my side dish on Sunday morning (leaving the pots and pans in the sink). I also had an extra meal to bring (leftovers from the campout that we froze) and hadn’t thawed them in time.
The other thing that I really hoped to do is have time for my own Bible study and reflection on Saturday afternoon. I had left too much of the meal to prepare right before, so robbed myself of that time.

On top of that, we have special company coming tonight for dinner. I don’t think that I’m able to think ahead to Monday very well, when my head is full of Saturday and Sunday. I think that next time we will wait to have weekday guests on Tuesday or Wednesday.

I’m hoping that our Saturday dinner will also help my sister get organized for the Lord’s Day better, too. I promised her that I would put reminders to do different things on here throughout the week to get ready. Perhaps it will help you too.

Today, for us, Monday, is just a recovery day. We are going to clean up the house from the weekend and plan our week. We usually plan our week on Sunday evening but we had a church officers’ families meeting with our special guest last night. It was great fun, but meant that we were home a whole 1 ½ hours yesterday.
We are going to be visiting a friend in the morning and finishing up our housework and schoolwork in the afternoon.

Dinner is going to be in the croc pot: Beef in Port with Mushrooms. We will make carrots and poppy seed noodles to go with as well as a salad.
Pastor Smith will be arriving about 5:30ish and we hope to eat around 6:00 followed by some family worship and good conversation and beer, I think.

I’m thankful for: Pastor Smith’s teaching on the Trinity and Prayer this past Lord’s Day, and the fellowship with the saints here that we enjoy.
I’m thankful for my home and that we are so rich that we can afford to take the time to enjoy our company and feed him well this evening, think about it!
I’m thankful for my late brother-in-law, my sister remembered him especially yesterday, on their 12th anniversary.

I’m praying: That I get everything done today! Lesson plans are done and I’m off to make a breakfast to bring for our visit with Mel this morning. And I’m trying to pray with the wonderful things in mind we were taught yesterday. That prayer is more of a blessing than we could ever imagine – that it brings us into communion with God.

God bless, y’all!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Our Second Annual Church Campout

We had a wonderful time at the Williamsburg Christian Retreat Center this past weekend. The weather was just beautiful and almost everything went off as planned, except that we had a late start and well...THE ACCIDENT!

We arrived on Friday afternoon to set up our tent. I looove camping because I like to play house. I love setting up my kitchen area, hanging my little laundry line and getting my stove set up. I like sweeping out my tent and making the beds. I like setting up the table and getting coffee right on incase anyone stops by...I love camping!

The first thing on the agenda was a campfire, with devotions, hotdogs and s'mores and ending with hayrides. The campfire didn't get started early enough, and neither did the hotdogs - note to self: when you put the cold hotdogs in the hot water, the water gets cold and has to heat up all over again! So we sang some songs while we waited for the hotdogs.
After hotdogs, we went down to the fire area and had s'mores. The hayrides were scheduled for a set time so they had already begun, so the devotion leader decided to put them off until the next night. Conrad brought glow-bracelets for all of the children which was very smart. We were able to see if any kids wandered off in the dark. We walked back to the campsites about 11:00.

On Saturday we awoke and had breakfast. We planned to share breakfast with the family at the neighboring campsite, so she brought sausage patties and I made begniets - yum!

At 10:00 there were events for the kids, the older ones had signed up to try a zip line in the woods as well as a tree climb...up 80 feet and ring the bell! The kids who were too little for those events had relay races organized by Steven and the wonderful K family. It was great fun watching the little ones and I think it went very well. Lunch was back at each campsite, we had sloppy joes, carrot sticks and chips.

The afternoon was reserved for free time, though there was a big flag football tournament planned. That's when IT happened.

One of the men playing crashed into another player and got a concussion. When he came to, he didn't remember any of us (only his wife and children) or where he was. AND scariest of all to us, he couldn't remember anything we told him. We spent a nerve-wracking several hours hearing him ask, "what happened?" every minute or so. He wasn't exhibiting any other signs, his eyes were doing what they are supposed to and he wasn't experiencing any pain so on the advice on the medical person present we watched and supported his wife. She was amazingly calm, though his teenage daughter was really shaken by listening to her dad ask the same questions over and over. The guys gathered around him a couple of times to lay hands and pray for him and each time he said, "What are they praying for me for?" Finally after a couple of hours he was taken to emergency room where they confirmed what our medical guy said. Nothing more than a concussion, it will mostly all come back to him in 24-48 hours.

Dinner was BBQ catered by Red, Hot & Blue. It was very good, but next time I will not order as much pulled chicken and will order more sausage. Volunteers brought delicious desserts.

After dinner and clean up we had our Psalm sing, and requests as well. For the hymns/psalms we were going to sing on the Lord's Day, we broke up into parts and learned to sing them "excellently".

Then the dance, and though I sat out ( I felt amazingly well all weekend, but I wasn't going to push it), it was so fun to watch. There was the Virginia Reel of course, and several mixer dances that were so much fun to watch. I especially liked the Scottish Polka. The young men practiced asking the young ladies' fathers if they could dance with their daughters, which was fun. We got the call that Mr. S was coming back from the hospital and that he would be fine. It was cool to see our young people gather in a circle and pray with his daughters. We also heard at the same time that Ryan was home with his family, there was much thankful praying going on and some tears I saw (and shed) too!

Sunday dawned early...You know, when I heard the rooster crow early Saturday morning, I thought, "A rooster, how quaint!" On Sunday, when I was awakened two hours earlier than I planned it was more like, "KILL THE CHICKEN!" Breakfast was hashbrowns with onions and peppers fried with sausage and covered with scrambled eggs...kind of a macho omelet. We also made little apple pies in the pie iron, well, because we could.

We walked down to the pavilion for church and it was very nice to have church outside. The breeze was very nice, though the sun shone hot on one side of the pavilion. After worship we had lunch together. Half of the church had made chili, frozen it, and heated it in their crocpots at the campsites, the other half brought bread and dessert. We also had leftovers from the night before and salad. It was neat to see the variety of chilis there, I brought white chili, it was good, I think.

After cleanup we stayed as late as we could and headed home about 4:30.

About Mr. S...boy do we have stories to tell on him! Apparently on the way to the hospital he was very loopy as well as the rest of that first night. Once when he asked for the millionth time what happened his wife said, "You jumped out of an airplane and the chute didn't open." He said, "Really!?" and she said, "No, not really." Of course, a minute later, he said, "What happened?" She had a lot of patience with him, especially when on the way to the hospital he kept repeating, "I don't recognize anything around here, you're lost, pull over so I can drive." She would just say, "You've had a head injury, you don't remember anything, be quiet." And then he would say it all again. Wouldn't that drive you crazy?

We are glad that by Sunday he recognized us and though he didn't remember the actual accident, remembered that he had indeed had one and what had happened. Today his wife reports that he is beginning to remember everything, including what he was told in answer to his many questions. We sure love the S family and are glad for their contribution to the entertainment at the annual campout.

Last year when it was so cold, we were going to name it the Annual Insanity Campout. I think that the name still fits, don't you?

I hope to get some pictures up, perhaps dear Jon K will shoot some our way...I never remember to take pictures. Doh!
*Edit* There are pictures over at my Xanga...I'm too lazy to load them on here, too.