Friday, June 29, 2007

Grammy & Grampa's House

We are getting ready to spend a week at Grammy & Grampa's house. This is something we do every summer, although this visit will be short because usually we spend at least 2 weeks. But it gets harder as they get older... The great thing is they still WANT to go! Grammy & Grampa's house is pretty fun! They live in a 300 year old farmhouse ( well, parts are that old, but most is remodeled and added on to) in a small N.E. town. The house is full of antiques and interesting nooks and crannies. There is a badminton net permanently set up in the back yard, a rope swing hanging from the big maple tree, and a professional-quality bocce court! (pronounced bah-chee - ask your Italian friends what it is ) The next door neighbors, which are like extended family, have a built in swimming pool that we are invited to enjoy during our visits. Some other things that my family eagerly look forward to are a visit to the local drive-in movie theater, seafood from the take-out restaurant up the street, and a visit to Aunt Chris & Uncle Dave's cafe for pastry and frozen cappucinos! Dad makes a morning run to Dunkin' Donuts each day, and one child usually accompanies him each time.
Grammy & Grampa's house has a special smell - wood and spice and lavender and cut grass. It has a special place in the hearts of my children, and of course, in mine because it is the place I grew up.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Museum of Art

Jason and I went to the NC Museum of Art this afternoon with a few other families from our new Tapestry of Grace Yr.1 Co-op. When we start school in August, we will be studying Ancient Egypt for the first 3 weeks, so the special exhibit, "Temples and Tombs; Treasures of Egyptian Art from the British Musuem" seemed like the perfect thing to lead into that study. I have to say I was disappointed. The exhibit was rather drab and bland, with little to capture the imagination of a group of 6-13 yr olds - a few stone busts, some wall carvings, a sarcophagus lid, a couple of pieces of uninteresting jewelry, two headrests, a few small household items .... I tried to keep Jason and his friends engaged, sending them on a search for scarab beetles and pharaoh's crowns and cartouches. They were bored rather quickly though. The gift shop provided some interesting items, and we bought a make-your-own-papyrus kit, and some stickers and postcards to use to decorate their notebook pages on Egypt. It wouldn't have been so bad except for the rather pricey tickets at $10/adult and $8/student to get into the exhibit area.
My kids really do enjoy art museums though, and we spent a little bit of time wandering through some of the other areas of the museum - which are all free! Jason was fascinated by an upside down portrait of the Mona Lisa created from spools of thread! Another favorite is the hanging airplane made of silk flowers and butterflies ~ many of the butterflies move their wings mechanically, and if you look really closely, you can see that a few of the butterfly wings have human faces on them!


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

End of the Season

Jason's baseball season came to an end tonight, as the 7 & 8 yr.old coach-pitch teams all played their final games. J has had a very strong season at bat, and tonight he hit a triple and a single. The coach treated the whole team to ice cream at Dairy Queen afterwards.
Next year he moves up to machine-pitch, which should should offer a higher level of competition. Even though Jason's skills are better than most of the kids on his team ( result of having 2 big brothers who played years of baseball and have coached him along since he was 2!), he never seemed frustrated, but cheered on his teammates and just enjoyed being out there on the field. There are other town leagues in the area that others prefer because of more "intense competition", but somehow that just doesn't seem necessary at this age!


Monday, June 25, 2007

Another "Quiet" Week

Three kids are at Camp again this week - one as a counselor and two as CITs ( counselors-in-training ). So that leaves the oldest and youngest at home ~ and the oldest spends most of his time at work. I had to get up VERY early this morning to take him to the Y for his 5:30 AM shift, because I needed the car to take Jason to a dentist appointment this morning. No cavities - hooray! Had to stop at camp because Amanda left her contacts at home. Good thing camp is only 15 minutes from home ~ I had to go last night and drop off Eric's sheets/comforter, which he had forgotten to take out of the dryer when he left the house in the afternoon.
Went to WalMart and bought some food ( can't seem to keep that in the house!) Then it was home to work on some school preparations, do some laundry and cleaning...
Made Pasta Fagiole and salad for supper.
Afterwards, Mark, Jason and I went for a 3-mile walk.
Not too exciting - just a quiet day.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Wedding Celebration

My girls and I attended the wedding of our pastor's youngest daughter this afternoon. Bride and groom are both in their early twenties, recently out of college. They met in the church nursery, where both had volunteered when extra workers were needed one Sunday morning. Both have a heritage of families who love and serve the Lord; their grandfathers, both retired Baptist ministers, took part in the ceremony. These radiant young people were shining with such love and anticipation, as it should be on one's wedding day. But they also radiated a love for Jesus Christ, evident in the ceremony, in their recorded messages to each other played over the loudspeaker before the start of the ceremony, and in their vows. This wasn't fake or forced or shallow, but deep and abiding. Their first kiss as husband and wife was truly their first kiss, as they had deliberately saved themselves, even during their engagement, for the day when they were wed before God and man. It was both beautiful and encouraging.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Where Do Four Year Olds Belong?

"More 4-year-olds in North Carolina will soon spend an extra year in preschool, in day care or, some fear, sitting in front of the television watching cartoons.
That's because, beginning in 2009, a new state law will require most children to wait until they are 5 before they start kindergarten in public schools. The proposal won final legislative approval Thursday, and Gov. Mike Easley said he will sign the measure into law."

This was the lead into an article in today's Raleigh News & Observer on a new NC law moving the school cut-off age from Oct. 16 to Aug. 31. Now if I was writing this article, I would have started it like this. "More 4-year-olds in North Carolina will soon spend an extra year safely at home with their mother, playing dress up, building blanket forts, learning to do chores, and singing silly songs..."

The article cited education experts who talked of the disadvantage of mixing 4 year olds with 6 year olds in the same kindergarten classroom, saying that the new law should result in higher test scores and lower teacher frustration. Oh my goodness! No mention of the fact that four year olds need moms, not schools! They need time to play and explore, to rest and take a nap, to snuggle in loving arms for a story, to watch birds and bugs and flowers in the yard. But the article went on to quote a parent bemoaning the fact that the new law will burden families with increased child-care costs.

Patrice Thompson thinks the new law is a bad idea. The Raleigh mother, whose 6-year-old daughter finished kindergarten this year, said the earlier birthday cutoff will cause more families such as hers to spend money on an additional year of child care.
"Paying child care is no joke," Thompson said.

I find it sad that schools are viewed as free day care centers; wouldn't it be just so much more convenient if schools would take kids from birth, so parents wouldn't have to make all these other arrangements for their care? How is it that the very notion of parents as caretakers, nurturers, and teachers of our children seems to be lost on our society? Perhaps there should be more workshops and education programs aimed at helping parents understand their God-given role as moms and dads.

The article ended with another disturbing statement:

Bryant said the law would do the most harm to children from low-income families who have not had proper health care or had limited access to books and other educational tools in their early years. Bryant said school systems need to work with these children as soon as possible. Although more affluent parents will be able to work with their children during the extra year, she said, many other students will be out of luck.

Since when is money required to nurture a child? This is just a bunch of baloney! I realize that there are adults out there who , for whatever reason, do not embrace their role as parents and leave their kids to fend for themselves. However, to suggest that "more affluent parents will be able to work with their children", and therefore that less affluent parents will not, is highly insulting! There are plenty of parents living in very humble circumstances who read to their kids, take them to the park, teach them their ABCs, kneel with them to say their prayers, teach them to be polite and kind to others. Being wealthy doesn't equate to being a good parent!

It is time that society started expecting more of parents! Expecting them to take care of their children, to teach their children, to be there for their children. And then respecting them for doing it! We can start by sending the message that home - a good, loving, nurturing home - is the best place for children to be.


A Heart for Orphans

My favorite book when I was young ( okay, one of my favorites - I was a big reader ) was The Family Nobody Wanted by Helen Doss, the autobiographical story of a young couple who adopted 12 children, most considered "unadoptable" because they were of mixed-race. As a young teen, I must have read this little dog-eared paperback dozens of times, and I still have it. I always thought I would someday adopt children, just like the Dosses.
Well, I got married fresh out of college, and having babies wasn't a problem for us. We struggled a bit ( mostly he ) with how big our family should be, but ended up with 5 precious children, spread over 13 years. They are a joy and a pleasure and a gift - and costly and frustrating and time consuming. But I can't think of a better way to spend my life than in pouring myself into raising and teaching and loving these unique gifts from God. I hadn't given adoption much thought until this past year, when I started to spend a lot of time with friends who have felt God's call to enlarge their family through adoption. Suddenly it seems that God is doing some serious shaking up of the Christian community in regards to the plight of orphans. Family Life and Focus on the Family have recently joined together with Shaohannah's Hope ( started by Christian recording star Steven Curtis Chapman ) to form Voice of the Orphan, to raise awareness of the orphan crisis worldwide and to spur Christians to action. Family Life also has their own Hope for the Orphans, to provide information and assistance for individuals and churches interested in adoption and adoption ministry. Oprah Winfrey has featured orphans and adoption stories on her TV show. Of course, celebrities Madonna and Angelina Jolie have also gotten lots of media attention for their international adoptions.
Most amazing to me is the subtle work going on the hearts of everyday people like you and me ~ people with busy families and full lives, who are feeling their hearts being pulled toward the orphan. Several people in my own circle of friends have been surprised to learn that each was feeling similar stirrings in their hearts. The need is huge, gigantic, overwhelming. But one family can totally transform the life of one child ~ giving them hope and a future that they otherwise would not have. Many families can rescue many children. Hundreds of families, hundreds of kids....
God doesn't ask us to save the world. But he might be calling us to stretch out of our comfort zone and share our abundance with one desperately needy child, and give them a FAMILY. Or to come alongside and help others in that task.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Favorite Christian Family Resources

Family Life and Focus on the Family are two organizations that have provided much information, wisdom, and encouragement to me as a Christian woman, wife, and mother over the years. I used to listen to their radio broadcasts almost daily when my kids were little, but just don't have that time in the afternoon anymore. However, the ability to listen to broadcasts online still allows me to tune in occasionally. Mostly, I now benefit from articles and email newsletters. One that I receive now is called "Moments Together for Couples". It is short but pertinent, challenging me to work on my marriage and bless my husband and walk my talk!


Monday, June 18, 2007

Ten Things I'm Thankful For Today

I'm going to take a page here from another blog I read, Our Quiverfull, . Kate and Jeff Estes, homeschool parents of 7 from Greenwood, SC and owners of a homeschool business called Hands and Hearts,, are going through some severe trials right now, including a seriously ill baby, but they still faithfully and regularly list things they are thankful for on their blog.
Do read their blog and then add them to your prayer list.

Ten Things I Am Thankful for Today

1. My Dad - since today is Fathers Day ( well, officially yesterday since it is now past midnight ); I am thankful for a Dad who loves his family and placed a high priority on family time, gave me a secure and happy childhood, and has encouraged and supported me on into adulthood

2. My husband - an awesome Daddy to our 5 children; he has a job which requires long hours and occasional travel, but still manages to place a high priority on family time, and the people he works with know it; he also loves me and lets me know it! There's a saying : "The most important thing a man can do for his children is to love their mother". Well, I'm sure there's no doubt in our kids' minds that Daddy loves Mama!

3. Air conditioning - it was in the mid-90's today, and I don't do well in the heat and humidity

4. Young Adult Sons - sometimes the cause of gray hair, but yesterday I was proud of my 2 boys who came to the rescue of Sarah's friend, Bekah, whose car was sitting in our driveway with a dead battery

5. Flowers - I'm not a great gardener, but I planted some colorful impatience, verbena, and petunias by my front door this week, and they look so pretty ~ I like to just walk out the door and look at them; they make me smile...

6. Telephones - I live 700 miles away from my parents, but can pick up the phone and talk to them just about any time I want; pretty neat

7. My Washer & Dryer - as I sit and fold yet another load of clean laundry, I'm thankful for the convenience of an electric washer and dryer; my mother remembers Wash Day and the old wringer washer when she was young

8. Summer Vacation - I just love having my college age kids home for the summer, and the break in our busy schedule that summer brings

9. Fat Free Fudgsicles - I'm trying to lose weight, and chocolate is one of my weaknesses; fudgsicles satisfy that craving and the fat free ones are only 70 calories or 1 Point on Weight Watchers

10. Sunday naps - it was a busy week, and the whole family zonked out for a while this afternoon; I don't feel guilty about a nap on Sunday afternoon like I do on other days

Have a blessed week.


Friday, June 15, 2007

Runner's Camp

This week, my 8 y-o attended Runners Camp every morning from 8:30 -12:00 at the local middle school. This is a track and field camp for kids ages 6-12, put on every summer by North Wake Church as an outreach ministry. The kids were divided in groups by age and gender, and got to try the different field events, such as high jump, long jump, javelin, shot put, and discus, as well as running events such as the 100 m, 100 m hurdles, 200 m, 400 m, 800 m, and 1600 m. In addition to the track and field part of camp, there was a daily Bible lesson and also games and songs.
J wasn't sure he would like Runners Camp; he thought running was boring unless there was a ball involved. But after the first day he said that it was a lot more fun than he expected, and by tonight he was telling me how much he loved it and hated that the week was over! The week culminated with a Track Meet, which started at 4:00 this afternoon and didn't end until after 10:00 tonight. J did very well, placing either 2nd or 3rd in almost every event he entered.
He should sleep well tonight!


Thursday, June 14, 2007

Best Dad in the World

I happen to have the best dad in the world. Now I'm sure you all had really nice dads. But mine is the best, well, because he's my Dad! Daddy was a high school physical education teacher and football coach. He loved his school and his students, but his family was his number one priority. Daddy was stern and tough at times, but we always knew he loved us and wanted only the best for his family. My dad is the most loyal man I know. He is a man of integrity and compassion, loved by everyone who knows him. After retiring from teaching, he still remained very involved in the athletic program at his high school, and they even named the high school football field after him for his dedication. He served the community through leadership in the local Lions Club. He is a part-time bakery chef at Victoria Station Cafe ( owned by my sister and brother-in-law). And he is an awesome Grampa!

I want to honor my Dad this Fathers Day, and tell you all how thankful I am to God for the wonderful man he gave me for a Daddy. He has taught me many things, but especially the importance of family.


The Joy of Serving

My 13-y-o daughter has been baking up a storm this week. She made a quadruple batch of Yogurt Chocolate Chip Cookies on Monday, Chocolate Chip Banana Bread yesterday, and Whoopie Pies yesterday. All these goodies ( except for a couple that were set aside to appease her brothers ) have gone to Camp to treat the counselors and staff this week. She enjoys the reaction she gets when she arrives at Camp with her foil-wrapped packages! Hope no one there is trying to lose weight this summer.


Summer Means New Life Camp

For the last nine years, summer has meant New Life Camp for my children. Nestled in a wooded corner next to a water treatment plant and across from a medical center in N. Raleigh, NLC is a seemingly innocuous Christian camp which has been operating for over 50 years. It is a small camp, with rustic cabins that have patches in the screens and holes in the floor boards and generations of campers' names scrawled in ink over every square inch of wall space. Metal bunks with thin, sagging mattresses line the walls, and a large electric ceiling fan stirs the sultry Carolina summer air. Yet these are 5-star accomodations in the eyes of the hundreds of children and young adults who flock here each summer. A concrete basketball court , a gazebo, and a picnic shelter providing shade to several ping pong and carpetball tables grace the center of the camp. A small swimming pond of muddy water features a zip line, diving platform, and water slide which provide hours of fun for the boys and girls who enjoy them during their separate swim times each day. Hungry campers fill up on stacks of pancakes, plates of sausage gravy and biscuits, T macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, pizza, and spaghetti in the newly air-conditioned dining hall ~ gourmet dining at its finest! When hunger and thirst strike mid-morning or afternoon, the Snack Shack is ready to provide popcorn, candy, snowcones, ice cream bars, and soda. Up on the hill, across the "athletic field", is the gym, built several years ago to provide indoor recreation space for the growing camp programs. Ultimate elimination dodge ball and the climbing wall, not to mention the BIG GAME held during Teen Week are found in the gym. Cabin devotions are led each morning by the staff of devoted young men and women who spend their summers earning little but living for the Lord as camp counselors. Bible classes, Missionary Moments, Skit Night, and Evening Campfire reinforce the message of hope and the challenge to live a life that makes a difference. A new group of campers arrives every Sunday afternoon, and soon learns "the ways of NLC" via the Rules Video. Cabins are meticulously cleaned each morning by their occupants as they compete with one another for the distinction of earning "Honor Cabin" for the week. Games, challenges, prayers, competition, kindness, skills, homesickness, encouragement, drama, worship, sweat, refreshment, testimony ~ all part of the NLC experience.
Some campers come back as teens to serve as CITS, some can't stay away even as they head into adulthood and join the summer staff as counselors. NLC seems to get into your blood.
The camp may seem old and run down at first glance, with little to offer in the way of amenities... but the fierce devotion of NLCampers tells something of the heart of the people who minister there. To many people, young and old, no place on earth is as beautiful as New Life Camp.

Friday, June 8, 2007


I just joined a new yahoo group! ( I know, I really don't have time for that, but ... too late! ) It is called Schedulizerssupport, and is for those of us who are always searching for the perfect schedule, the best chore chart, an improved system.... we make lists, we create charts and forms, we make wonderful plans - but we have a terrible time sticking to them! Someone announced its creation on the Tapestry of Grace Loose Threads loop, and I immediately recognized myself and joined. In the first 24 hours, the group had over 100 people sign up! I never knew so many people had the same tendency as me! There is some comfort in that I suppose.
Check it out at We'll be working on accountability and actually implementing some of our great ideas!!!


Ice Skating

Today was a HOT and HUMID day here in North Carolina, so we went ice skating! It's a great place to stay cool when the mercury hits the roof! Jason had 2 friends stay over last night, and Amanda had one friend spend the night, so I took the 5 of them to the rink right after lunch. They all had a great time!
I considered joining them on the ice, but talked myself out of it and ended up visiting with friends out in the snack bar area instead. All good. :-)


Thursday, June 7, 2007

Quotes to Ponder

"I suppose it is because nearly all chldren go to school nowadays and have things arranged for them that they seem so forlornly unable to produce their own ideas."
~ Agatha Christie

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright told how a lecture he received at the age of nine helped set his philosophy of life: an uncle, a stolid, no-nonsense type, had taken him for a long walk across a snow-covered field. at the far side, his uncle told him to look back at their two sets of tracks. "See, my boy," he said, "how your foot prints go aimlessly back and forth from those trees, to the cattle, back to the fence, and then over there where you were throwing sticks? But notice how MY path come straight across, directly to my goal. You should never forget this lesson!"
"And I never did," Wright said, grinning. "I determined right then not to miss most things in life, as my uncle did."

"Parents give up their rights when they drop the children off at public school."
~ Melinda Harmon, Federal Judge, 1996

"Education is not the filling of a bucket, it is the lighting of a fire."
~ William Butler Yeats

"It is nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom; without this it goes to wreak and ruin. It is a very grace mistake to think that the enjoyment of seeing and searching can be promoted by means of coercion and a sense of duty."
~ Albert Einstein

"I have never let schooling interfere with my education."
~ Mark Twain

"The truth is that schools don't really teach anything except how to obey orders."
~ John Taylor Gatto, NY City and State Teacher of the Year

"What is most important and valuable about the home as a base for children's growth into the world is not that is a better school than the schools, but that it isn't a school at all."
~ John Holt

"We're not trying to do "School at Home". We're trying to do homeschool. These are two entirely different propositions. We're not trying to replicate the time, style, or content of the classroom. Rather we're trying to cultivate a lifestyle of learning in which learning takes place from morning until bedtime 7 days a week. The "formal" portion of each teaching day is just the tip of the iceburg."
~ Steve and Jane Lambert, authors of Five in a Row


Panel of Homeschool Grads

Last night we had a panel of homeschool graduates speak at our monthly homeschool support group meeting. All were homeschooled at least since 7th grade, several since birth! Alex has finished his 4th year at NC State, has one more semester to go, and is in Army ROTC so he'll be commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant upon graduation. Richie attended Liberty Univ. for 1 1/2 year, and now is a professional firefighter. Jonathan just completed his first year at the United States Military Academy at West Point. Elizabeth graduated from Southeastern College at Wake Forest with an Associates Degree last December. Katie got her Associates Degree at Vance-Granville Community College and then transferred to Meredith College. Michelle took time off after graduation, then went to school, became an RN and is now married and homeschooling her 3 boys! Although they were a bit hesitant at first, they all did a great job of answering questions and sharing their experiences. The themes that emerged most strongly were that independent study skills learned as a homeschooler were of great advantage, they appreciate the close family relationships that resulted from being homeschooled, and they were glad for the strong foundation in Biblical worldview that they received from discussions with their parents on most any topic. Some of the other highlights of the discussion were:
  • half were very organized and managed their time very well; the other half was more laid back and procrastinated until the last minute- but still got work in on time - seems to be a personality thing!
  • non-homeschooled friends were sometimes surprised to learn they had been homeschooled, because they were so "normal"
  • when asked if there was anything they would change about their high school years at home, one said she would study more things that really interested her, another said that he would have pushed and taken calculus in high school ( because he was in engineering ), another said he wouldn't give his mother such a hard time about homeschooling!
  • none had a hard time transitioning from homeschool to college - although they have met homeschoolers who have struggled; being active in things outside the home and taking classes at community college or in groups helped

At the end of the meeting, one mom asked the panel if they would homeschool their own children. Except for the one who is married with children, the other young singles all shrugged and said, "maybe, it depends, I don't know". I had to smile - parenthood probably seems pretty far off for them at this point in their lives. And it is amazing how your perspective on things changes when you have children! I'd like to see them all in 10 years, and ask that question again.


Sunday, June 3, 2007

Homeschool Graduation

Yesterday was our homeschool group's graduation ceremony. We have a semi-traditional graduation ceremony, with the seniors in black caps and gowns, entering the auditorium to the strains of "Pomp & Circumstance", played by the homeschool band. The ceremony begins with a prayer and then the presentation of the colors and the National Anthem. The guest speaker this year was Dr. Pete Schemm, Dean of the College at Southeastern College at Wake Forest. He is also a homeschool dad with eight kids. He spoke on living a life of integrity. The best part of the ceremony is the presentation of the diplomas, when the parents get to take 3 minutes to brag, pray, challenge, reminisce, or congratulate their son or daughter, who in turn honors his or her mother with a rose. This is such a touching and heartfelt time, and sets a homeschool graduation apart from its institutional counterpart. Next comes the PowerPoint Slide show of 6-8 pictures of each graduate, from babyhood to the present, set to contemporary Christian music selected by the seniors. Finally, the graduating class stands in front of the room filled with family and friends and turns their tassles. This is kind of like the moment when the groom gets to kiss the bride at the end of the wedding ceremony! The newly graduated students exit as the band plays, and form a receiving line in the lobby. Everyone gathers for cake and punch in the fellowship hall, and then heads home for a family celebration or dinner or open house, as volunteers from the support group handle clean up at the church.