Harvest Festival Day 1

Today was the big day. This morning was all about making one more chocolate hazelnut bread. Jasper did it all by himself and he did a great job! It looked so good when it was done.

This afternoon, at the appointed time, we headed over to the convention center with Jasper’s three entries. I’m sorry, but I totally forgot to get a photo of the nut bread until after I had covered it with wrap:


You can still see that it looks awesome, right?

He reassembled his pumpkin creation and set it up for display too:


He got the idea from a picture he saw of a pumpkin carving another pumpkin.

And finally, we pulled out “Sheila” my foam head and displayed Jasper’s helmet on it.


Sheila has been surprisingly useful over the years, far beyond her original purpose which was to block a hat I had made!

Here is another photo of Jasper’s helmet. He had to cut out countless little pieces of foam, fit them together and glue them, then paint it with three different kinds of paint before attaching the visor. I am so impressed. He had never done anything like this before.


Tomorrow, we find out how he did!


A Looming Deadline

Today was all about preparing for Harvest Festival, once our friends left just before lunch. The first thing was to get Jasper to make the nut bread by himself. I think we finally got the recipe tweaked so it is correct. (In the recipe we found online, the liquid amount called for was way off.) He did a good job and I was proud of him. The finished product looked professional, and according to Walter it tasted better than our first attempt. Tomorrow, he makes it for the actual competition.

Once the nut bread was out of the oven and Jasper had left for Terrific Tuesday, I made a run to Walmart to get the last few supplies for his pumpkin creation. He is only entering three things in this Harvest Festival, but all three things are very ambitious. The only thing I have helped at all with is showing him how to make the nut bread.

I had my writers’ meeting tonight, so while I was away Jasper worked on his pumpkin project. You will see photos tomorrow I hope. He did a great job. He is a creative kid and enjoys working in three dimensions.

Meanwhile, we had only seven people at our writers’ group, but sometimes it is nice to have a smaller group. I had taken a poem to read, but when I saw that our “real” poet was there, I chickened out.

Tomorrow, after Jasper makes another nut bread, we have to haul everything over to the convention center and set it up. I hope nothing breaks!

A Dallas Adventure and an Independence Day

Saturday was a long hard day for me, still struggling as I am with my seemingly interminable sinus infection. At this rate, I will be reeking of garlic for the rest of my life!

I got up on Saturday morning and had to leave the house by 8:30 to get Jasper to his 4-H service project. Then I headed toward Dallas to spend time with my friend Susan. I got to her house right at lunchtime and we went out to a Thai restaurant we’ve been to before. Then we went back to Susan’s house and spent the afternoon visiting while Susan sorted through some of her late mother’s papers.

I thought that at about 6:15 I’d leave to pick Spencer up from the airport, but at 4:30 or so I got a text from him saying that he had missed his flight and would have to wait a couple of hours before finding out if they could fit him in on the last flight from Denver to Dallas. Susan had a bunch of other things she needed to do, and I realized that I would be a distraction if I stayed, so I decided I might as well kill time by getting some fabulous Ethiopian food.

I drove to our favorite Ethiopian restaurant and enjoyed a delicious dinner while waiting to hear from Spencer. Finally I got the good news that he was on the flight he’d hoped to get. I headed to the airport, found a space in the parking garage, and napped in the car for a while. I had no idea when Spencer’s plane was due to land, but I made a wild guess and headed on in to the terminal after an hour or so.

I had less than half an hour to wait until Spencer showed up, but we still had the long drive home ahead of us! Spencer volunteered to drive, and I was happy to let him. We finally walked in the door a little after midnight.

Of course this meant I hadn’t so much as looked at my autoharp all day, so on Sunday morning I had to get up early and pick a couple of hymns and play through them a couple of times before leaving for church.

During the afternoon I had a lot of cooking to do to get ready for our Zambian Independence Day celebration. I made a huge batch of “relish” and some mango/pineapple/guava cobbler. I made mandazi dough and Janet came over to fry them for me, since Mercy had other plans for the whole day.

Our friends Don and Gwen and their son arrived in time for Don to help stir the nshima before supper. Two of Janet’s friends came, and our other “regular” student, who is an MK from West Africa but is quite happy to eat Zambian food. It was a delicious meal and we all ate too much.

Don and Gwen spent the night, and this morning Don and his son were able to go out and get their Texas drivers licenses. Jasper and I went on a quest for the rest of the things he needs for his Harvest Festival projects. We needed hazel nuts, dowel rods, and pumpkins!

Today, by the way, is the real Zambian Independence Day, so happy 52nd birthday, Zambia! And as Don pointed out, it’s also only two months till Christmas Eve!

Don and Gwen will be with us another night before heading back to Dallas tomorrow. The next few days are going to be so busy and I am still really not feeling well, so it’s going to take a lot of determination to make it through.

For All the Saints

For All the Saints

William W. How

For all the saints, who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Apostles’ glorious company,
Who bearing forth the Cross o’er land and sea,
Shook all the mighty world, we sing to Thee:
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For the Evangelists, by whose blest word,
Like fourfold streams, the garden of the Lord,
Is fair and fruitful, be Thy Name adored.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

For Martyrs, who with rapture kindled eye,
Saw the bright crown descending from the sky,
And seeing, grasped it, Thee we glorify.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O blest communion, fellowship divine!
We feebly struggle, they in glory shine;
All are one in Thee, for all are Thine.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

O may Thy soldiers, faithful, true and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old,
And win with them the victor’s crown of gold.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

And when the strife is fierce, the warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant triumph song,
And hearts are brave, again, and arms are strong.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon to faithful warriors comes their rest;
Sweet is the calm of paradise the blessed.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

But lo! there breaks a yet more glorious day;
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on His way.
Alleluia, Alleluia!

From earth’s wide bounds, from ocean’s farthest coast,
Through gates of pearl streams in the countless host,
And singing to Father, Son and Holy Ghost:
Alleluia, Alleluia!



Today being Friday, it was my least favorite day of the week. This morning I went to Aldi while Jasper mowed the lawns. Although I am on the mend, I am far from being 100 percent, so I made it through Aldi, loaded the groceries into the car, took the cart back, and was just getting back into the car when I wondered where my quarter was. I didn’t have a pocket, and I didn’t remember putting in my purse. I realized I must have returned the cart and failed to retrieve the quarter. I wasn’t parked that far away, but I had no interest in going back for my quarter! Just then, as I was about to shut my car door, a man walked up and said, “I found something of yours.” He handed me my quarter. I felt like such a doofus.

Because I’ll be gone all day tomorrow, I had to cook a couple of chickens today so the meat will be ready on Sunday. Now I’ll be honest: I have yet to become an Instant Pot fanatic like some of my friends, but it sure is handy for cooking chicken. I cooked the first chicken, then after removing it I cooked the second chicken in the same liquid. Then, after picking all the meat off the bones, I made bone broth in the Instant Pot using the same liquid, augmented with some vegetables and more water. I’m thinking that’s going to be some very good broth.

Jasper worked some more on his helmet but had to stop when he ran out of the glue, so I took him with me on an errand this afternoon. We stopped by our credit union, which was celebrating its 70th anniversary today. Jasper got a free hot dog, free popcorn, and a free pen! I couldn’t have any of the food but I got a pen and a calendar. We have been members of that credit union for 32 years.

Walmart was out of the glue Jasper needed, so we’ll try again tomorrow on our way up to another 4-H activity. Meanwhile, he’s got plenty of work to do cleaning his room.

Sounds like Spencer had a great last day in Colorado and got to go to the top of Pike’s Peak. I’ll be picking him up at the airport tomorrow evening. Mercy left for Dallas this afternoon and won’t be back till late tomorrow, so there are just three of us in the house tonight.


Baby Steps

Today is the first day since I got ill that I have felt that maybe there was a little improvement. I kept up with the garlic and it seemed to me the congestion was a little less severe. I have a busy weekend ahead so I am hoping I will be up for the challenge!

We did get some school done today. In addition to academics,  Jasper is working on his project. He made some good progress today and got the top of the helmet mostly done. I am so proud of him for tackling such a daunting project.

When not working with Jasper, I was mostly napping. I feel that I have to do whatever it takes to get better soon. Mercy also took the day off work to rest and try to recover, since she is supposed to play rugby on Sunday!

Two Victories

I knew today was going to be a challenge before I even got out of bed, because I knew I was going to have to go to the Department of Public Safety, one of my very least favorite places in the world. Jasper was up early so he could get donuts and then be ready to go with me.

Our objective was to get Jasper a state I.D. card. He will be going on his first airplane flight soon, and it is recommended to have picture I.D.  Every time I have had to do this with the other kids, it has been a nightmare. Since we are homeschoolers, we just don’t have the documentation that the people at the DPS will accept.

Based on past experience, I had the county 4-H agent create a document on letterhead verifying that Jasper has lived in this county for the last three years and been a member of 4-H. I also had his birth certificate and social security card.

We were at the DPS just before it opened and were fifth in line. However, once we got in and were given a number, we had to wait a full hour while at least ten people were called ahead of us! Then, as I feared, I found the rules had changed and the 4-H letter was useless. I had to produce two acceptable proofs of residence for myself, and I only had one–the insurance card from the car. I’m not sure why my driver’s license doesn’t count. Also, the lady insulted me under her breath when she saw how slow Jasper was at writing his name (due to his dyslexia). We had no choice but to leave and come home to get the other document we needed.

We were both pretty grumpy! I had my breakfast and rounded up multiple documents that were on the list and then we headed back. The same lady was waiting for us and called us right up. This time she was all smiles and helpfulness. She had figured out the Jasper was dyslexic and was very patient with him. She was very happy to accept my voter’s registration card as proof of residence, and we were finally in business!

We returned home in triumph, with the temporary I.D. in our possession. Of course by then it was almost lunchtime, but at least we were victorious!

After lunch I needed a serious lie-down to recover as I am still very under the weather with my sinus infection. Once I staggered out of my room, it was time for home ec class with Jasper. The 4-H Harvest Festival is next week, which means that once again he will be entering a food item as well as a couple of craft items. We had picked a recipe for him to make, and today was our first trial run. I helped him quite a bit today, but the next two times he will have to do it by himself. It turned out really well though:


Mercy has already tested it and said it was delicious!

Then, since I wasn’t up to it, Mercy took Jasper to Walmart to buy supplies for another of his Harvest Festival projects. I am a little nervous about this one. When he said he wanted to do it, I had no idea what would be involved. Materials have already cost over $50 (which he paid for himself).  He wants to build a replica helmet out of foam. It involves cutting a LOT of intricate pieces out of foam and then gluing and heating and molding and painting them. I am not sure he understands what a massive job it is, but he’s on his own because I have never done anything like what he’s attempting. Should be interesting! He got the first few pieces cut out tonight with his brand new Exacto knife set.


Yesterday, as part of a project Jasper is doing, he needed me to measure his height. I have suspected for some time that he has overtaken me, and I was correct. He is now 5’10¾”. I am right at 5’10”. This means I now have only one kid who is shorter than me–Mercy, who is an inch shorter. Jasper is a very late bloomer, so I expect that he will end up being considerably taller than he is now, especially if his big brothers are anything to go by.

Today was another day in which I was very sick and ingested massive amounts of garlic, while Jasper seemed to be doing somewhat better. We did get some school done.

Also, Mercy cut Jasper’s hair. A lot.

Phase Two

Over the weekend, we moved to Phase Two of this particular battle with illness. Phase Two involves two inevitable events. First, the remaining healthy members of the family get sick–in this case, Jasper and Mercy. Secondly, my severe respiratory infection morphs into a severe sinus infection—every single time. I knew it was coming and I knew I couldn’t stop it. By yesterday evening, my doom was upon me.

So, with Jasper sick and me even sicker, today was a sick day. I don’t believe I am contagious, since the “cold” part is over, so I went ahead and medicated myself to the point where I could teach my class today.

And yes, I have tried all the things. Zinc, vitamin C, honey and cinnamon, and garlic. Lots and lots of garlic. I had garlic with breakfast, garlic with lunch, and garlic with supper. No vampire would even dream of messing with me.

I hope you weren’t expecting me to report that despite my illness, I got a ton of stuff done today. I had to go out and buy medicine. After I recovered from that, I wound some yarn. Yay me.

Loved With Everlasting Love . . .

We sang this hymn in church this morning. This is a hymn that brings back a very specific memory for me. When I was in high school, I heard a lady give her testimony. I don’t remember her name or much at all about her, except that she had lived a very depraved life before giving her life to God. As she described her decision to turn her back on her old life and walk forward with God, she quoted the second verse of this hymn, telling us that for her, it was literally true. She said that from the moment of her decision, colors appeared more vivid and vibrant, and sounds more beautiful than they had before. It was as if she experienced a whole new world. I’ve never forgotten that.

I Am His, and He Is Mine

George W. Robinson

Loved with everlasting love, led by grace that love to know;
Gracious Spirit from above, Thou hast taught me it is so!
O this full and perfect peace! O this transport all divine!
In a love which cannot cease, I am His, and He is mine.
In a love which cannot cease, I am His, and He is mine.

Heav’n above is softer blue, Earth around is sweeter green!
Something lives in every hue Christless eyes have never seen;
Birds with gladder songs o’erflow, flowers with deeper beauties shine,
Since I know, as now I know, I am His, and He is mine.
Since I know, as now I know, I am His, and He is mine.

Things that once were wild alarms cannot now disturb my rest;
Closed in everlasting arms, pillowed on the loving breast.
O to lie forever here, doubt and care and self resign,
While He whispers in my ear, I am His, and He is mine.
While He whispers in my ear, I am His, and He is mine.

His forever, only His; Who the Lord and me shall part?
Ah, with what a rest of bliss Christ can fill the loving heart!
Heav’n and earth may fade and flee, firstborn light in gloom decline;
But while God and I shall be, I am His, and He is mine.
But while God and I shall be, I am His, and He is mine.