Cookie Pizza

So, my alarm went off this morning, and I realized I needed to get up and get going on the day, but somehow I feel asleep again before I actually made it out of bed! It was quite a shock when I woke up an hour later and looked at the clock.

We got some school done today and the kids reminded me that today was the regular teen get-together for the homeschool group, so I ended up going to the grocery store to get a few items so that Lucy could make a cookie pizza to take. Only two pieces were eaten (one by Jasper). I think from here on out we will just take packaged cookies from the store. Every time Lucy makes something awesome, no one eats the stuff and then we have too much at home! Back in the day, everyone would have pounced on homemade goodies.

Jasper was a very unhappy boy this evening. He was invited to a sleepover for the second night in a row, and I told him no. He was up late across the street last night, and tonight he was invited to another neighbor’s house for a cookout and backyard campout. I let him go for the cookout and stay until 9:00, but then he had to come home because tomorrow he is going to Walmart with me and then working with his dad. He really needs a good night’s rest–but he sure did not want one!

A Language Barrier and a New Plan

Today was geography day. I was up and working first thing this morning, looking up photos and updating a report that was written several years ago. The plan was for us to talk about Canada, the United States, and Mexico today. We were going to start by taking a field trip to our local Mexican grocery store, where we would buy lunch. Then we would come home and eat our authentic Mexican food while watching a geography video.

Now, I knew that both of my non-related students were vegetarians, and in fact one of them is a vegan, but I was confident that they could at least get rice and beans at the Mexican store. Well, guess what? The rice and beans are not vegetarian friendly. They contained lard.

So, I sent the three girls to the produce section of the store and told them to pick out some veggies to make a stir fry with when we got home. Meanwhile, I attempted to order the food that I wanted. The process is a little cumbersome. You have to go to a cashier and tell her what you want, and then you pay and get the receipt, which you take to the cooks. They serve up your meal and then you bring it home.

I was getting some tacos for someone else and some fajitas for me. So I told the cashier I wanted three tacos and a plate of chicken fajitas. She nodded, but I saw on the screen it said “6 tacos.” I explained to her that I didn’t want six tacos; I wanted only three tacos and some fajitas. She assured me that I would get that very thing, so I paid and took my receipt to the food counter.

I was very concerned that I was not in fact going to get what I wanted, so I explained to the lady at the food counter that I did NOT want six tacos. She was very puzzled since my receipt clearly said “6 tacos.” She sent me to talk to a cashier who was working at the food counter there (the first time I’ve ever seen them use this cash register). I explained the situation to that lady, and she could see that I was having a problem, but neither she nor any of the other ladies I had spoken to could actually speak any English, so they weren’t sure how to resolve my problem.

The second cashier called out to everyone in the area to ask if anyone could speak both Spanish and English, and a young man stepped forward. Fortunately, he was fluent in both languages and he very kindly offered to serve as a translator. I explained my problem to him, and when he explained it to them, I saw the light go on at last. We were far from finished, mind you. A manager had to be called to ring up the order correctly, I had to pay more money, and a lot more translating had to happen, but in the end I got the food I had asked for, with lots of smiles and happiness all round. I thanked my translator profusely for his help.

The girls had picked out some drinks and veggies, and I was delighted to see that they were willing to be adventurous. In addition to bell peppers, they had a hot pepper, some prickly pear cactus, and mangos. They had also each selected some bread and pastries for dessert.

When we got back to the house, the girls took over the kitchen. We had some rice left over from last night that they could heat up, so all they needed to do was cook their veggies. After plenty of chopping and peeling and seasoning and frying, they had an amazing medley to eat with their rice:

9-3-15 stir fry

By then of course, it was much later than it would have been if we had just bought ready-made food and brought it back to eat, but I am pretty good at going with a new plan, so we watched our video while eating our food anyway. The girls loved the food they made and I admit it looked fabulous! They had so much fun doing it too.

Afterwards, we talked a little about geographical features and then I showed them how to make their own maps with tracing paper. Because lunch took so long, we never actually got to talk about the countries of North America, but I’m still calling it a win because we definitely had a cross-cultural experience at the grocery store, the girls had a blast making new food, and they learned how to make maps. And now, I’ve got most of the preparation for next week already done!

I had a little breather after class ended, and then I took Jasper and his friend Ben to the bee meeting that meets an hour’s drive away from here. The meeting was all about varroa mites and I actually learned a lot. When we got back home, Jasper went across the street to spend the night at Ben’s. Now I need to get back to geography planning. The vegetarian/vegan situation has added several magnitudes of stress for me, but I’m going to treat it like any other culinary challenge. Remember that anything I eat has to also be gluten free and low carb, so it really is a challenge! I don’t know what I’d do without the internet . . .

New Classes

Today was Lucy’s first day at co-op classes for this year. This meant she had to get up earlier than normal and be ready to face the world by 8:15! She is just taking a couple of enrichment courses–art history and auto upkeep. While she was in class, I got Jasper going on Math here at home.

When it was time to pick Lucy up, we stopped at the fabric store so I could use my senior citizen discount to get an even better deal on some sale fabric for making curtains for Jasper’s new room.

Jasper had his first piano lesson of the school year today as well, which made it clear that we are back into the full swing of things!

And I, of course, am trying to cram as much geography preparation as possible into the hours before my class tomorrow.

50–And Counting

This post is an updated version of one that I posted 10 years ago on this day. On this date, September 2, in 1965, I became a Christian at the age of 6.  (Oops–now you all know how old I am!)  That is, I repented of my sin and gave my life to Christ.  That means I have been a follower of Christ for 50 years as of today.

The date of my conversion is easy for me to remember for two reasons.  First, it was just two days before my youngest brother was born, and as my mother and I had our earnest and life-changing conversation, she was extremely pregnant–and ironing!  (My mother irons more than any other human being I know.)  Secondly, when I excitedly told my grandfather (a pastor and evangelist) what I had done, he made a point of telling me to remember the specific date when I gave my life to the Lord.  That way, he said, if anyone ever tried to cast doubt on my salvation, I could confidently give them the exact date when I had made my decision.

I know there are some who question the validity of childhood conversions. I also know firsthand of several childhood “conversions” which were not in fact genuine.  However, mine does not fall into that category.  The Hound of Heaven pursued me for a full year before I put aside my pride and stubbornness and submitted to God.  I was deeply convicted; I knew what I needed to do; yet I refused to do it.  At the age of 5, I became obsessed with the idea that the Lord would return and take my parents away, leaving sinful and unrepentant me behind.  When I woke in the night, I would sneak into the hallway to make sure my parents were still there–talking in the kitchen or living room.

On one occasion my mother went across the street to talk to a neighbor while I was taking my afternoon nap.  I woke up earlier than normal, called for her, and when she did not answer I became convinced that the Rapture had occurred and I was left behind.  My screams of anguish reached my mother’s ears and she came running back across the street, no doubt thinking I had greatly overreacted to waking up in an empty house.  Yet even after that traumatic incident, I did not yield to the Savior for several months.

So there has never been any question in my mind about the validity of my own salvation.  I made a very conscious and deliberate decision 40 years ago and I knew exactly what I was doing–and have never regretted it.  I pray that God grants me many more years in His service!


I’m Back! Didya Miss Me?

Well, my computer is back! Five days felt like a very long time to be away from such estimable readers.

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up. Here are some of the things that have happened since Friday night, when I last updated.

  • Mary and her siblings went to a concert at the university on Friday night and had a great time. Mary thought she’d be working the concert, but since they didn’t have a photo pass for her, she got to just enjoy the concert.
  • Also on Friday, Jasper’s new bike arrived. Now that he has a paying job, he was able to save up to buy a bigger, better bike after his old one died.
  • Saturday morning my Walmart excursion was all about getting stuff for the chai party. Jasper woke up with an upset stomach, thanks to Spencer’s generosity with his stomach bug, so Spencer had to help Walter with the yard jobs–during which another mower died. Our mowers lasted 17 years of very hard use, and it’s hard to have to replace two in the same summer.
  • Since I had no computer to work on, I spent part of Saturday re-cutting the edge and re-hemming the cloak I made for the raffle at Realm Makers. Now I need to get it packaged up and sent to the sweet young lady who won it.
  • The chai party was well attended by a bunch of students who weren’t terribly hungry or thirsty. There were lots of people, but we didn’t even go through 12 gallons of chai, and there were lots of brownies and rice krispie treats left over!
  • After visiting with my neighbor Sylvia at the chai party, I came inside to tune my autoharp in preparation for Sunday morning. I hadn’t tuned it in a couple of weeks and it needed tuning very, very badly.
  • The kids all went to Spencer’s church on Sunday morning so they could see him play guitar in the worship band.
  • Walter and I went to our church. I was hoping that Israel, the violinist, would bring his violin because I’ve been playing solo all summer. Imagine my surprise when I went to set up my music stand between services, and a visiting missionary asked if she could join us on her guitar. I’ve never played in a three-piece band before! I was SO GLAD I had tuned my harp, because they both tuned to match me. It was a little stressful, and I think my autoharp was kind of drowned out by the other two instruments, but it was also strangely exhilarating.
  • I made chicken curry for Sunday dinner using my friend Anita’s proprietary curry blend. I’ve been hoarding it stingily for years, but now I don’t have to anymore because Janet brought me a new supply.
  • I made the curry in a new contraption that I hope to tell you all about soon. I’m pretty jazzed about it.
  • The “J” crowd all made it for Sunday dinner–Jonnie, Jonny, and Janet! It was good to have a Sunday evening crowd again. Mary and Mercy were both here too, of course.
  • While everyone was assembling for dinner on Sunday evening, Walter and Jonnie got Jasper’s new bike put together. Jasper was so happy!
  • I read a book on Sunday. With no computer, I resorted to my Kindle and read an entire book. It was like a mini-vacation.
  • Monday morning I had to go back to Walmart to get the actual groceries for the week.
  • Jasper rode his new bike on Monday. And rode and rode and rode it. He is one happy kid.
  • Mary went to Greek class with Mercy on Monday afternoon and made the professor’s day. She was one of his favorite students–and he also officiated at her wedding!
  • We made regular and gluten-free chicken enchiladas for supper on Monday, because we finally had a chance to have Spencer’s family birthday dinner. Kat was able to come too. The enchiladas were divine. Their effect on my blood sugar–not so much.
  • I also made chocolate mocha cake for Spencer. I hear it was good.
  • This morning I got up and made a high-protein breakfast for Mary before she took off for the long drive home to Nashville. It was lovely to have her and sad to see her go.
  • When Mary left, she took with her one of the treasures of our house. She asked for, and received, one of my prized decades-old cast iron skillets. She and Jordan have been using a nonstick skillet since their wedding two years ago, and it has already failed. Cast iron never fails. The fact is, I had two wonderful well-seasoned 12-inch iron skillets, and I have almost never needed them both at once. How could I refuse to let my sweet daughter have one? By the way, if you ever are in the market for a cast iron skillet, my advice would be to save up for a 12-inch skillet. You can always cook a little bit of food in a big skillet, but you can’t cook a lot of food in a little skillet!
  • Today, since I still didn’t have a computer, I had to break down and borrow Walter’s computer in order to prepare for my English class. I hate his computer with a burning and pathological passion, but today I was grateful for it.
  • Spencer came home from lunch today with fabulous news. During orientation, he had to take a battery of verbal/language tests as part of the special program he’s in for students whose SAT scores weren’t quite high enough to get into the university under their normal requirements. When I asked him how the tests went, he said he thought they were very easy and that he had done well. The tests are used to place each student in a vocabulary workbook which they must go through (with supervision) during the semester. Well, today he finally found out how he did on the tests. He got the highest scores of anyone who has ever taken those tests for this program. His scores were so high that he tested right out of all nine workbooks! I admit, I was actually expecting this. In fact I would have been both disappointed and embarrassed if the results had been different, considering how much effort I have put into teaching him language skills and vocabulary! Still, I am very proud of him and happy he doesn’t have to do the workbooks. That will leave him more time for Math.
  • Right before class, I got a phone call from the Geek Squad saying my computer was ready. Good news!
  • Thanks to Walter’s computer and printer, I was able to get through class without running out of stuff to do.
  • I had a 5:30 appointment for picking up my computer and printer. If you ever have any dealings with the Geek Squad here in our town, and they tell you to make an appointment to drop off or pick up your electronics, just laugh hysterically and go when you are able. Making an appointment does nothing You don’t get seen faster. They don’t call your name at the appointed time. You just stand in line like everyone else.
  • You know what messed up my computer? Some anti-virus software. It thought my printer was a virus.
  • After dropping off my computer and printer at the house, I still had to go pick up my prescriptions.
  • Mary made it safely home!
  • This evening, I was so excited to hook up my printer again and to prove that I can once again print wirelessly from my laptop. Nope. After all that money and five days without my computer or printer, nothing happened when I tried to print. And yes, I will be calling the Geek Squad tomorrow!



Parting Shot:

9-1-15 Jasper with new bike

Jasper and his new prized possession

A Squad of Geeks and a Winner

Today was kind of a waiting for Mary day. It was also my first experience with the Geek Squad. I went online and made an appointment to take my laptop in for some tuning up. Despite having an appointment, I still had to wait a long time before I could talk to a Geek. When I told him that one of the main issues was not being able to use my printer, he said I had to bring in the printer too.
So after lunch I had to drive up there again with our very bulky printer, and wait in line for half an hour just so I could say, “Here’s my printer.” It might be FOUR DAYS before I get my computer and printer back, which will make it pretty hard to prepare for class. I am typing this on the kids’ virus-riddled desktop.
Mary arrived right at 4:00 and we scurried to make pizza so she and the others could eat before going to a concert on campus. I tried making a gluten-free pizza with a cauliflower crust. It tasted better than most GF pizza crust, but the big thing was that it didn’t spike my blood sugar! I might actually be willing to make that stuff a couple of times a year!
I actually was going to skip posting tonight, until I remembered about the drawing for my book. There were a total of six comments, counting Google+ and Facebook. I wrote the names on little pieces of paper, then put them in a bowl and shuffled them around with my eyes closed for quite a while before picking one. And the winner is . . . Anna! Which means I don’t have to mail it because she lives in my neighborhood!

Giving Them the World

That’s what I want for my geography students. I spent all morning preparing for our first geography class and still didn’t get as much done as I hoped for. I was slowed down somewhat by my finger. Periodically, my middle finger (can be either hand) is swollen and painful when I wake up. It can’t be moved at all because the pain is too excruciating. My top two ways to treat this problem are to run hot water on the hand for several minutes, and to put pain relieving ointment on them at night and sleep with socks on my hands.

So, yesterday I woke up with excruciating pain in my left middle finger. The hot water did not help much. I was in a great deal of pain all day. I put ointment and socks on my hand before going to bed last night, and this morning when I woke up my hand felt pretty good. Until, that is, I actually tried to do anything. Then the pain came back with a vengeance.

I’m just telling you to explain why it was hard to get ready for class, because typing was involved. It’s a very small class–just three girls for sure, and a fourth one who was trying it out today to see if she wants to do it. We talked about directions and meridians and parallels and then they all got to use a compass to follow directions to a neighbor’s house.

I have no idea what they thought of it. I love geography so much but it’s really hard for me to tell if any of it is rubbing off on my students.

I had a bit of a breather after class ended, and then Jasper and I went to the local beekeepers meeting. We’ve been pretty sad about our bees. They’re gone. The hive was overrun by small hive beetles, and slimed. Tomorrow Jasper and his friend Sam are going to clean out the hive so it will be ready for new bees next spring. Why does beekeeping have to be so complicated? You would think that insects would be a lot easier to deal with than, say, a dog. But no. You have to absorb a HUGE amount of information and remember it all if you want to have any hope of succeeding with bees.

Tomorrow, Mary’s coming!

Quote of the Day:

Jasper: “Both of my big toes are injured. (pause) At least I had fun doing it.”

My Blogiversary & A Giveaway

Can you guess what I did 10 years ago today? I wrote my very first blog entry on my old Xanga blog. Ten years of blogging almost every single day! What were my first blogs like? Well, obviously I had no idea what I was doing. At the time I was in charge of the mentoring program for our homeschool group, which is why I called myself Mama Mentor. I had this idea that all the moms being mentored could go to my blog for encouragement, tips, and recipes.

It never happened. Blogging was still too new for a lot of moms in those days. Most of my early readers were college students who were friends of my kids. I made a circle of cyber-friends, all of whom eventually abandoned the blogosphere. I started my Sunday hymn tradition very early and have kept it up. Several people have told me they look forward to the hymns.

I threatened to quit on several occasions and came very close to doing it. The almost complete lack of feedback was and is very discouraging, but I’ve now accepted that I write this blog primarily for myself. I love having a detailed record of the last ten years. The blog is our ultimate authority when disputes arise as to when something happened. If it was memorable at all, I probably blogged about it!

This blog is also where I post opinion and nostalgic essays, because sometimes I just can’t keep my thoughts in my own brain.

Wanna know what my very first post said? Here goes:

Well, this is pretty scary. A middle-aged mother of seven following her children into cyberspace and starting a blog. However, this blog is not for the purpose of displaying my private life to all and sundry.

HaHaHaHaHa! I started displaying my private life to all and sundry pretty early in the game!

Today, in addition to our regular school, we listened to the first hour of As You Like It, the Shakespeare play my English class is reading right now. I made a point of getting the audio version that has David Tennant playing Benedick, Scottish accent and all. Very enjoyable.

This evening, my handy and heroic husband moved the massive oak card catalog from the boys’ room into Jasper’s new room.  (The card catalog has been repurposed for Lego.)With Mercy moved out, the three remaining kids each have their own room. For Jasper, it’s come full circle. When we first moved into this house almost fourteen years ago, he was an eight-month old baby. We put him in the bedroom next to ours so I would hear him if he fussed at night. We also had a sleeper sofa in there so we could use it as a guest room too.

At that time, all four girls shared the upstairs bedroom. When Lina started college, she was having to do her homework sitting at her computer in the dark bedroom while her sisters tried to sleep. That was clearly not going to work long-term, so we moved Jasper into the boys’ room and Lina became the first college student to have the front bedroom. When she left for Zambia, Flynn moved in. When Flynn moved into his own apartment, Mary got that room. When Mary left for Colorado after graduating from college, it became Mercy’s. Now it’s Jasper’s room once again!

Since Walter built a desk in that room for Lina, Jasper now has a nice desk to work at, and in fact he has done his math quite willingly this week! The next step is to move Spencer’s desk from the schoolroom (where he has never used it) and into his bedroom, now that there is space for it there. We also have a neighbor who wants Jasper’s old desk, which means the schoolroom is going to be less cluttered now. I’m all for that.

Finally, in honor of my 10-year blog anniversary, I am giving away a signed copy of my memoir, This Rich & Wondrous Earth to someone who comments on this post. If you are the only one to comment, you will get it. If, perchance, there are multiple comments, I will choose one at random (eg. draw lots) and that person will get the book. The “drawing,” if there is one, will take place Friday night.





Off to a Good Start

Someone on Facebook just reminded me it’s four months until Christmas. Yikes! Hobby Lobby has been full of Christmas stuff since June! I am so not ready for that.

As it was, I was hard pressed to be ready for my first English class today. I feel like I’ve been going full steam ahead all summer, but I still struggled to finish preparing for class. I haven’t finished planning all the details of the rest of the semester, but I have a pretty good framework in place.

Now I’ve got one day to do the same for Geography! (Don’t worry; I’ve taught it three times before and just have to decide how I want to schedule things this time.)

This semester I’ve got four English students, none of whom are my offspring. One of them has never taken one of my classes before. I hope she doesn’t feel overwhelmed!

After class ended, I had fifteen minutes to bolt down some supper before heading off to my critique group. These ladies are wonderful and are helping me so much to improve my writing. I am so grateful for them.

Critique group is followed by our monthly writers meeting. Today we heard a variety of works in progress–two very different novels, some poems, and even a play. I am always so amazed by human creativity and by the different ideas people come up with.

Tomorrow, I switch gears from writing/literature to this incredible planet we call home. It might be a dangerous thing that I now have a valid passport again . . .

P.S. Jasper voluntarily did four lessons of math today. Here’s hoping he keeps it up!


A New Beginning

Today was a big day for Spencer: his first day as a full-time college student. He did manage to get up on time and make it to his first class! I had a ton of class prep to do, but I was tickled to get a text from Lina saying that her debit card arrived! I made sure to get it activated right away.

Later in the day she texted me again to say she had run into problems with the card. This happens every. Single. Time. Every time she travels! So I had to call and talk to the credit union, and they had to research the problem, and I think they finally figured it out.

Jasper got his math done and we discussed how his new bedroom is going to be arranged after Mercy moves the rest of her stuff out.

I got a phone call that resulted in another English student being signed up for tomorrow’s class, and a message that resulted in a new Geography student as well. Yay! I am looking forward to both classes. I just wish I had a couple more weeks to take a deep breath and gather strength for the months ahead . . . .

Oh, and guess what? This is my 800th post on this blog! And I’ve got another milestone coming up in a couple of days.