Thursday, August 30, 2007

Boys and their dolls

I'm wondering at The Kylie Influence in our home during the day. Kylie is Queen Bee with the four oldest out of the house for school. So here she is, um, playing dolls with her brothers. They each have one of her dolls. (Isn't this great blackmail?)

So, I have them pose for a few shots . . .

Kylie with Purple Baby.

Kade, realizing that I'm going to be putting this on the blog has THROWN his doll out of the picture!

Konner has no such compunctions.

Kade exerts his manliness by showing Dolly that he's no sissy.

But, I'm not worried that my boys are playing with dolls. I listened in on some of their play . . .

Konner has his doll holding a small American flag and as he plants it into the foyer floor says, "I declare this MY land!"

Kade has his doll in a doll carrier. "Mom, look! The baby has a wedgie!"


I had a sinus headache most of the day yesterday. It had gotten so bad that by late morning, I'd pretty much decided to stay home from church that evening. I finally decided to take a nap and rested for about 90 minutes. By the time I woke up, I was feeling quite a bit better. So, I pulled out all the stops to get us all to church.

Now this is quite a feat when we still do not have the van operating. Getting to Wednesday nights have turned into a series of phone calls and queries to arrange for transportation. And yesterday, with only about 45 minutes before departure, I started calling around. YES, I could borrow the neighbor's car (that seats five) and YES, the pastor's wife could take three or four in her car. And just like that, we were all on our way. Whew!

It was nice to get out and see people! With our van down and the kids so busy with school work and me feeling out of sorts all week long, it was a special treat to just be out and about. I even took the borrowed car around the back of Phase 2 of our neighborhood to see if there were any new houses going up. I will SO ENJOY getting my own wheels again . . . some day!

Today, my head is still throbbing. It's not incapacitating, like a migraine, but it sure does slow me down. I'm trying to drink lots of water to moisten all of those lovely passages. My ears are still stuffed up, too, which is what's probably causing the headache.

The big kids and I were talking on the way home last night. It's hard to believe that they're almost done with their fourth week of school! Everyone seems to be getting into the grove, but the grove is hard. So far, though, I'm not sorry to see them in school. Occasionally, I do feel bad for them for things that they now face. Kristofer told me that he has now heard every single bad word known to mankind, and that truly makes me sad. They are each amazed at how far so many kids go to fail in school. (There are so many hurting kids out there.) But we keep the channel of communication wide open when they get home. Everyone gathers around the breakfast table where they throw down stuffed backpacks. Then we just talk. Each has a story to tell every day and I'm so glad to be home to listen. And I'm so proud of each of them, for the effort that they're putting out and for the testimony that they give for Jesus.

Next week, Walking in Joy starts -- that's the women's Bible study. I'm SO EXCITED! There is nothing more refreshing than meeting with other Christian women to study God's Word. I'm still not sure how it's going to work with our schooling schedule or whatever work I end up doing, but I'm going to make it work! And, I'm still not sure how I'm actually going to get there yet! Or if any arrangements have been made for childcare for the three kids. All up in the air! But it will work out.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Light Bulbs

How many in a religious denomination does it take to change a light bulb?

Note: Being Baptist myself, I particularly liked the Baptist one!

Charismatic : Only 1. Hands are already in the air.

Pentecostal : 10. One to change the bulb, and nine to pray against the spirit of darkness.

Presbyterians : None. Lights will go on and off at predestined times.

Roman Catholic : None. Use candles only.

Baptists : At least 15. One to change the light bulb, and three committees to approve the change and decide who brings the potato salad and fried chicken

Episcopalians : 3. One to call the electrician, one to mix the drinks and one to talk about how much better the old one was.

Mormon : 5. One man to change the bulb, and four wives to tell him how to do it.

Unitarians : We choose not to make a statement either in favor of or against the need for a light bulb. However, if in your own journey you have found that light bulbs work for you, you are invited to write a poem or compose a modern dance about your light bulb for the next Sunday service, in which we will explore a number of light bulb traditions, including incandescent, fluorescent, 3-way, long-life and tinted, all of which are equally valid parts to luminescence.

Methodists : Undetermined. Whether your light is bright, dull, or completely out, you are loved. You can be a light bulb, turnip bulb , or tulip bulb. Bring a bulb of your choice to the Sunday lighting service and a covered dish to pass.

Nazarene : 6. One woman to replace the bulb while five men review church lighting policy.

Lutherans : None. Lutherans don't believe in change.

Amish : What's a light bulb?

Georgia Clay Knees

This is the second morning in a row I've woken up with my ears all stopped up. I'm a little sneezy, too, so I'm just kind of waiting for the bomb to drop. A lot of the kids have bits and pieces of colds, too. Cold and flu have always made for great adventures at our house, but now that the big kids are in public school, I'm concerned about them keeping up with their school work.

I think we're getting used to the new work load. Keri Lynn is definitely getting a handle on her work. Even though she continually complains about how "ridiculous" it is that there is so much homework, she comes home with one A after another. I have to sit on Kristofer some to get him to do his homework, but he does fine as long as he's paying attention. He's gotten the gamut of grades -- As to Fs. I won't know how he'll do this semester until he's had a few more weeks under his belt. Kathleen is bringing home Bs, for the most part, and will probably do even better as her writing improves -- I'm really happy with her progress considering that she's been placed in sixth grade but was doing third grade material last year. Her sole motivation? Lunch detention. She's mortally afraid of it. That's when a kid has to sit through the lunch period with the teacher and doesn't get the normal lunch fare, but instead gets a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, water and fruit. Kathleen told me that a lot of kids have been getting lunch detention, even some of the girls, because they're not doing their homework.

I'm still trying to get paperwork done for the younger kids to begin their school year next week. Good grief, the paper goes on forever. And I'm still without the van, so I have to fax or mail stuff. This is the fourth week now without wheels, and I'm starting to twitch. Need. Car. Now.

I've got a lot of stuff to do this week, but because it's kind of like a last week before the younger kids get serious about school, I don't WANT to do ANYTHING. This is bad. Very bad. I send the kids off to play hoping that a neighbor will feed them lots of snacks and they'll be too stuffed for dinner. I find myself thinking, "Now, Kody, do you REALLY need to go out for a potty break? Can't you wait until we finish watching this movie? Kids, you want meals? What about pizza again tonight! Or popcorn! Better yet, crackers and bananas -- no fuss, no muss. Clean clothes? Highly overrated! Start a new trend, kids -- Georgia clay knees . . . "

Friday, August 24, 2007

Fashion Gurus -- What to wear in Georgia

This morning, an argument ensued:

Kade: I had those camouflage shorts first!

Konner: No, you didn't! I did!

Kade: Uh-hu!

Konner: Nuh-hu!

(Scuffling and more arguments.)

A short time later, Kade comes to me to complain about how Konner has stolen his camouflage shorts. I then lay down my decision, "Kade, you got to wear that shirt yesterday, so now it's Konner's turn to wear what he wants."

Next thing I know, a proud-Mommy moments arrives in all its glory!

Kade: Look, Mom! We found TWO camouflage shorts and TWO orange shirts. We're twins. And when we go outside later, we're going to wear our overalls! When we get too hot, we'll take off our overalls and . . . . LOOK! . . . . We'll have our shorts on again!

Kylie joins in on the fashion action with her own orange/camo look!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Meme time

Jennifer over at McBenning School tagged me for a meme. I can't resist those things. So here it is. (May I also throw in a thanks to Jen for her ever encouraging comments on the blog.) We bloggers LIVE for comments. Hint, hint, hint!

ACCENT - None that I know of, and the no-accent thing makes me stick out like a sore thumb here south of Atlanta with all the "y'all"s and "fixin' to"s and "Yes, Ma'am"s.

I DON"T DRINK - Diet drinks . . . anymore. I used to slug down two or three with breakfast and maybe a couple more later in the day, but finally decided that maybe that wasn't the healthiest thing to do. I don't like coffee. I do love hot tea in the winter and cold tea in the summer -- preferably SWEET tea because I'm working on being a Southern Belle.

CHORE I HATE - Just one? What kind of survey is this, anyway?!? I really dislike anything that I've let go for too long -- dishes, laundry, vaccuuming. I, in fact, get kind of mean and nasty with everyone in the family until the house starts looking like someone cares once more. I finally figured out that I'm just mad at myself and have since tried to not be such a witch when it comes to keeping the house clean. Maintenance, people, maintenance!

PETS - Only one and also our first family pet (if you don't count the dozens of fish we've killed over the years.) Our beloved black lab, Kody. For all of the things he leaves chewed into little bits all over the house, he still manages to keep a special place in this family's heart.

ESSENTIAL ELECTRONICS - Laptop, laptop, and, uh, laptop! And cell phone. What did we ever do without cell phones not such a long time ago?

PERFUME - I like anything with a fresh flower scent -- roses, gardenia, jasmine -- Oh, and I like cucumber and melon together, too. I'm allergic to most other regular perfumes. My throat starts to swell up, I cough, and feel a little naseated.

GOLD or SILVER - I prefer gold, but I like silver, too. I'm gunning for a Mother's Day present someday -- a gold ring with each of the kids' birthstones on them. I've been brainwashing them about this present for some time now. : )

INSOMNIA - Thank God, no. If it takes me 30 minutes to get to sleep, I feel that I've been robbed. Keith isn't so fortunate. And he needs everything absolutely pitch dark. Little computer lights, my nightstand clock, the copier button, the printer button . . . any kind of light whatsoever are absolutely blaring to him. I always tell him, "Sweetie, all you've got to do is CLOSE YOUR EYES and the little lights go away!" He doesn't think that's very funny.

JOB TITLE - Homemaker and homeschool teacher.

MOST ADMIRED TRAIT - People keep telling me how patient I am. HA HA! This is so funny, because I'm really not, especially at that special challenging time of the month. I suppose I'm good at pretending to be patient. But I think what I like most about myself is that I tend to look at things in a glass-half-full sort of way.

KIDS - Seven precious gifts from the Lord, ages 16 to 6.

PHOBIA -Mice and heighths, although I do love a good roller coaster.

RELIGION - Much more than religion, there is my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who saved me from my sins. This relationship is my whole life, my whole reason for being. Without Him, I am nothing.

SIBLINGS - Two brothers, two sisters -- all of whom are in Southern California -- Beth, Dan, Mark and Connie! Hi, you guys! Leave a comment!

TIME I WAKE UP - Ugh, 6:15 now that school has started. I am NOT a morning person.

UNUSUAL TALENT/SKILL - I love to crochet. I get into a project and work at it for hours and hours and then regularly for months, until I'm either done and happy with it or sick of it and never pick it up again. I also like to write, so I'll go on little writing binges and work on the next big BEST SELLER!

VEGETABLE - I really like fried green tomatoes and fried eggplant. So healthy! Brocolli gives me too much gas. Is that TMI?

WORST HABIT - Getting side-tracked on work that I'm supposed to do. I say this way too many times, "Oh, I was working on that . . . I MEANT to get it done."

X-RAYS - For a broker finger, split chin, possible pneumonia and bronchiitis, and of course, the dreaded dental work.

Go ahead and take a turn if you want . . .


Two other ladies and I lead the group of 6th-8th grade girls on Wednesday nights. Here we are on our second meeting. Kathleen is in the group . . .
along with some 12-15 other beautiful young ladies . . .

Keva is part of the group, too! Last night, Keva sat on one side and Kathleen on the other.

Off to the Lake!

Keith took his truck with Kathleen as his navigator, but Papa (driving his little KIA rental car) had FOUR navigators.

Breakfast and the Park

The three homeschooled kids and I took Papa out for a birthday breakfast to help him celebrate the 39th anniversary of his 39th birthday. We went to IHOP.

Then, we took a driving tour of downtown, followed by some time at the park.



Some crazy drivers


Bottle cap collection

Kylie, Kade and Konner think it is the coolest thing to go hunting for bottle caps. With all of the construction going on in Phase 2, there are plenty of bottle caps to be had. Last count: 304.

Keri Lynn's Biology Class -- Week 2

It reads: Keri Lynn Johnson, you have received 102.28% of the available points, and your grade is an A. Currently, you rank #1 in this class of 25.

A surprise package from Aunt Marcia!

All of us Johnson girls got a big surprise in the mail one day! We were so delighted to get a whole bunch of goodies. I got my long-anticipated gorgeous QUILTED table runner made by my aunt who lives in Washington. She has quilted many beautiful things and now I have this lovely piece to put on my table or (as it now resides) on my buffet next to my table. I LOVE it!

Kathleen next to a whole bunch of fun stickers . . .

Our very own copies of the Mark of the Lion trilogy . . . can you tell you pleased Keri Lynn especially is about it?

Both Kylie and Kathleen each got Polly Pocket cases. There were also a bunch of other girl goodies that we divied up amongst our giddy selves including a plush bunny for Keva and a fun movie called Rigoletto that we've watched about 100 times already.

So, thank you, Aunt Marcia for thinking of us. That was so sweet!

Konner gets his Bible!

Each year, at the beginning of the new school year, each first grader is presented with his or her own brand new Bible. This year was Konner's turn! There he is, waiting patiently, donut at hand.

"What is THAT in your hair, Konner? Syrup!"

Keith and I got to pose for a picture with Konner, his Bible and one of his dear Sunday School teachers. We are so thankful for this wonderful church.

Can you figure out who these people are?

A blurry Kylie


. . . and Molly!

Doing their show! Giggles were had by all.

Paperwork Galore

This month, and a good part of last, have been VERY busy. Did I mention that I need a vacation?

We enjoyed our time with Papa. He left yesterday at noon. I have a feeling, though, that he may enjoy the quiet of home after the general chaos of grandchildren!

I've also been kept very busy working on paperwork. If I could, I would avoid paperwork all of my born days, but -- alas -- it is a necessary evil. Especially now.

Paperwork galore:

1) Forms and tests for for Kylie, Kade and Konner to enroll them in Georgia Virtual Academy. All the paperwork that I started early last month for the three that I put in public school, I'm having to do all over again for the little kids, only I'm running out of time to get it all done -- this involves immunization forms, earn/vision/dental certification, written and on-line placement tests, calls to GVA, and just general confusion. We're supposed to start the school year on Sept. 4, and there are forests of trees giving their all so we can get the paperwork done.

2) Then, there's Keri Lynn's paperwork, reports, appointment schedules to make sure everything is still going okay in her little noggin. I've been sorely negligent with this with all of the excitement of the beginning of school and our company. I did finally call the pediatrician this week to let him know that she had had an accident . . . uh . . . a month ago. And I've finally located the paperwork from the hospital so that I can more intelligently make appointments with the neurologist and cardiologist.

3) Then, we're laying out our financial guts to various creditors as we do the money shuffle to finance the repair of our bedraggled van. We finally decided that it was indeed cheaper to fix the transmission than to (sniff, sniff) get a newer car.

4) And did I mention all of the homework I've been involved with? The first kid doesn't straggle home until about 3:45, and then Keva at about 3:50 and then the oldest kids at about 4:30, and each with enough homework to keep them busy for four or five hours a night. I'm sure they'll all be able to get it done faster as they get used to it, but for now, it's not getting done until at least 10:00 PM. Papers, pens, pencils, erasers and 3x5 cards galore!

5) Oh, and very interestingly, I've come across, where I'm going to see if they'll accept me as a on-line tutor! If I do get to do this, I can work right here from home on my trusty computer, and pick my own hours and hopefully pump up our general income. This little endeavor, though, involves a ton of on-line "paper"work. However, if it works out, it may very well be worth it. Thank you all for continuing to pray for us regarding a job for me.

Now, I think it's time for a moment of silence for the trees that have given their all for the cause of our household . . . .

. . . . .

. . . . .

. . . . .

Thank you.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Papa comes for a visit

Keith's Dad, Stan, arrived Wednesday night and will be staying with us for a week. We've been so looking forward to his visit, since this will be the first time he's come to see us since our big move to Atlanta more than (can it be?) two years ago.

We also got the pleasure of celebrating, as he puts it, his 39th anniversary of his 39th birthday! So, Stan, happy birthday to you! And many more!

It cracks me up to observe my father-in-law. In him I see Keith in another 34 years. They have so many similar interests and habits. They are both enmeshed in politics and political opinion. They both love all things electronic. They're both very personable and kind. And, most importantly, they both love the Lord. I am forever thankful that the Lord provided both Keith and I with parents who love the Lord. May we continue to pass down this critical heritage to our children.

On Thursday, we sent the public school kids on their way on their buses and I got the homeschooled kids ready for an outing with "Papa". We took him to IHOP for a birthday breakfast. Then, we went for a car tour (using Stan's rental car -- since our van is still down) of downtown Newnan. We passed Keri Lynn and Kristofer's high school on the way to our favorite park. We played there for maybe a half hour before the heat just got to be too much. The heat has been in the triple digits ALL WEEK! We are dying! Thank God for air conditioning!

On Friday, Keith had the day off, so he and his Dad took off in Stan's rental car to Fry's, about 1 1/2 hours north of us while I took The Three to run errands. There were a number of pressing issues that had been building without the use of a car during the day. First was the library books. Since I'm already in trouble with the library for late books, I wasn't thrilled about going back with truly late books. As it turns out, it was only $18 -- not too bad for me! Then, we went to BURGER KING for lunch because the kids decided that would be the best place to have lunch. After I dragged them from the play area, we went off to return some rental DVDs. At our grocery store is one of those machines that spits out newly released DVDs for $1 a day. It's such a good deal IF one remembers to return them the next day by midnight. However, I didn't. Too much going on. I SHOULD just leave the library and the DVD rentals alone while I get my life back together again, but I don't! Anyway, the machine once again did not properly swallow my DVD returns, so I had to get on the line with the rental company, and the nice lady on the line charged me for three days of DVD rentals instead of SEVEN days. Yippee!
So now my slate is clean. No current library or DVD rental fines. Whew!

To celebrate, I got some chips and ice cream to go with our hamburgers I had planned for Friday night, and we went racing home to meet the first of the returning students. Kathleen had already arrived and was peering into the front door side window panels to see where we had all gone. Poor thing. Fortunately, I was home and taking groceries out of the car when Keva got home.

Today, I'm home with Keri Lynn and Keva while the rest have gone off, about an hour and fifteen minutes away, across the border into Alabama, to go to our Sunday School class social -- a picnic at a lake near a friend's lake house. The kids all tumbled into the two cars -- Keith's truck and Stan's rental -- with their water shoes, towels, loads of sunscreen, beach chairs, food and water -- and everyone drove away.

It's so blessedly quiet, I could just sing . . . in my head . . . and dance . . . in my head. Very nice. Keri Lynn is quietly avoiding her homework by playing Roller Coaster Tycoon -- a new addiction -- on the computer. Keva is quietly watching Access Hollywood. Kody is laying around near the back door looking dejected because no one thought to bring HIM to the lake!

I've been fairly busy filling out forms for the younger kids. I've decided to enroll Kylie, Kade and Konner in a brand new program for Georgia. It's the K12 program. In a nutshell, it's public school at home. All curriculum materials will be provided for us, as well as a teacher for each of the kids that we report to. I would not have done this earlier in my homeschool career, but I've come to the realization that I do need more accountability with the kids -- that, and I'm thrilled to get material without having to pay for it. It has been my hue and cry for years, that if I could just get 10% of the money spent on the average public school child to use for school at home, I'd be set. Now, in a way, I have it. It's going to be harder and perhaps I'll regret my decision, or it just might be the best decision for our family, but only time will tell. I'll keep you all updated as we go along.

The rest of the kids going to public school are doing well. They're tired, though. For now, it's a lot more demanding -- especially for Kathleen and Keri Lynn. The days start early and are long. The heat, as I've said, just saps us all -- especially the ones who have to ride the bus. We are all enjoying the weekend immensely. Kathleen told me last Sunday night that she would DEFINITELY do ALL of her weekend homework on Friday night as soon as she got home. But Friday night came and went and she was tripping off to a choir kick-off event instead! So, I'll probably hear all about it on Sunday night again!

Tonight, we're having make-your-own tacos. A family favorite. I figure everyone will be starved from the day's activities, especially Kade. Before then, I'm hoping to do a little more laundry and maybe give Keva a bath.

Tomorrow, I'm going in early to church to attend a Sunday School teacher's meeting. I decided that I've been resting on my laurels at church long enough. It's time to get going again. So I'm teaching in Acteens on Wednesday nights and in 2nd grade Sunday School. I'm hoping the Sunday School job is going to turn into a real teaching job and not as much of the administrative stuff. In Acteens, one of my friends called me and asked if I could help do the teaching and she would do the administrative part. I said, "SURE!" Just don't put me in charge of an attendance form, a phone list, mailers, crafts, or anything like that. Just let me teach a Bible story! That is my true love!

While the school year gets underway, I'd like all of you who are prayer warriors to pray for our family as we continue to look for a job for me that fits with our family's schedule. In truth, I've done very little about looking for something, but we need the extra income more and more each month. I know that there's an answer to our financial pressures because God is always faithful to our needs. Some possibilities have come to mind even recently that I would like to follow through on, but we've had so much going on with company and Keri Lynn's health and school and car. . . Whew! I'll be glad for a semi-settled routine again!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Two Birthday Letters for the Price of One

Dear Keith and Kylie,

Both father and daughter share the same birthday for a special reason.

Ten years ago, when I was pregnant with baby #5, pregnancy was progressing very nicely. I hardly felt sick at all. In fact, Keith and I were thrilled and expectant for this new life. We had a boy's and girl's name picked out. So, when I started bleeding at 11 weeks, we came to the sudden realization that life is not always what we expect. And it certainly isn't always what we want. In fact, we were devastated.

My heart of hearts cried out to the Lord, "Why, O, WHY? Why did we lose this child? We've been faithful to You! We've TRUSTED You! Why did you rip this baby away from us?"

And as the pain ebbed, God's peace filled us. Slowly, we once again realized that all is in God's hands. If we trust Him for life's most wonderful blessings -- a loving spouse, beautiful children, a home, work, food -- then we also have to trust Him for life's curses. There is nothing that comes to us that does not first go through His hand. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Once again, some six months later, I was pregnant again. Despite the hard lessons learned, we were much less confident. In fact, we had just found out with the miscarriage before that I had an antibody in my blood that had the potential of harming a fetus. Once I hit six months, I would have to undergo a series of amniocentesis to check on the baby's development. If for any reason the doctors found water on the baby's brain or spinal cord, they would need to go in and do a inter-uterine blood transfusion -- blood into the umbilical cord to counteract the damage done by the antibody. The baby was susceptible to spina bifida, brain damage and even death.

It was a scary time for us. Keith and I prayed and followed doctor's orders to the "T". Every few weeks, I'd go in and get a big long needle stuck into my belly. For at least 24 hours, I was not allowed to lift anything or be too active, which of course was such a laugh with four other children at home, seven and under! Yet, each week that passed was one week closer to the due date.

Finally, as we rounded the 37th week, the doctor said to go ahead and schedule induction. The baby's lungs were developed and, in his opinion, the sooner the baby was out, the sooner she would be out of danger from the antibody. As it so happens, the next week was Keith's birthday. Wouldn't it be wonderful to have a baby on Daddy's birthday!

Induction was not a thrilling prospect, but since I had discovered the joys of an EPIDURAL with Kathleen's birth, labor in general was not the scary thing it had once been. So, off to the hospital I went. Labor went like clockwork, and since the baby was born a few weeks early, she was a tiny little thing, weighing in at 5 1/2 pounds. So tiny was the baby, that she practically fell out. It was the only time in all of my deliveries that I had to pant to keep from pushing so that the doctor could arrive in time to the delivery room! It is some doing to STOP delivery.

Out you popped, Kylie Louise. We were so very happy to see you! The doctors decided what we knew right off -- you were absolutely fine! And what a blessing you've been ever since! How thankful we are for you. How much you fill our hearts.

And let's not forget whose birthday you stole along with his heart.

Daddy says that he doesn't have a birthday anymore. But here's the funny thing about parents and their children. He doesn't care. He'd much rather see YOU have a wonderful birthday. It makes him happy to see you happy, Kylie. In fact, even though all of the kids go out with Daddy on their birthdays, I think you have the most special time.

May God continue to grow you strong for Him. May His light shine through you in all that you do. May you never forget the miracle that you are to your Mom and Dad.

And to Keith, who never gets a birthday anymore, I am so glad that you were born 44 years ago, so that you could head up this household to honor God. Let us strive harder to do His will.

Wife and Mommy

Monday, August 13, 2007

School Daze

It was with some fear and trepidation that I saw the big kids off to school this morning. Last week, being the first week, was chock full of new experiences -- learning how to open up a locker, figuring out when a bathroom break was allowed, discovering the sequence of classroom locations, etc. Some days, they came home happy and some days there were tears.

So, when they all came dribbling in, the tension of my heart slowly eased.

Stories abounded.

First came Kathleen.

Me: "So, how did it go today."

Kathleen: "Okay." And proceeds to give Kody oodles of love and attention. I can tell her energy level is up and positive, and I'm encouraged.

Me: "Did you turn in your essay?"

Kathleen: "Yep. I read it in front of the class."

Me: (Incredulous) "You did?!"

Kathleen: "Yep. Mr. Wilson asked for volunteers and no one wanted to go up, so I raised my hand."

Me: (WAY incredulous) "No way! You volunteered to go up FIRST?"

Kathleen: (nonchalant) "Yep. It was no big deal. I actually wanted to get it over with. And Mom, some people got in BIG trouble for not finishing their essays. BIG trouble. Some of them didn't have five sentences in their paragraphs. Some didn't even finish their maps." (Clearly, she's aghast at said students' irresponsibility.)

Me: (Still stuck on the fact that she volunteered FIRST to go up and read her essay) "I would have NEVER volunteered to read my essay first. NEVER! You are so brave. I'm so proud of you!"

Kathleen: (shrugs)

Me: (Ever the competitive parent) "So how did the other kids do on their essays?"

Kathleen: (conspiratorially) "Some of the essays were kind of boring. They needed a little more zing."

That's Kathleen for you. Ever the drama queen.

As Kathleen finished telling me about her day, Keri Lynn and Kristofer came in carrying their load of books. Keri Lynn was equally amazed at Kathleen's essay heroism, and I could tell Kathleen was enjoying the telling of it to her big sister. Kristofer was off playing as soon as he could unload his backpack, having completed all of his homework on the bus.

So Keri Lynn launched into her own story. It seems her history teacher (the one who wants to teach culture over politics) has been carefully going over all of the main religions. Christianity is tucked in minimally under the general heading of Catholicism. Anyway, the teacher talked some about Jesus and mentioned that he'd been killed by the spear while hanging on the cross.
Keri Lynn respectfully held up her hand, "Uh, actually, Jesus had already died when the spear was put through his body."

The teacher disbelieved her, but Keri Lynn was certain that she was right. So today, she brought a piece of paper to him with the Biblical reference of Jesus' death before he was speared. May that teacher feel how "He was pierced for our transgressions . . . and by His wounds we are healed!" Lord, bless Keri Lynn's missionary heart as she studies under this teacher.

Keri Lynn then showed me some papers she got back from her biology class, the toughest class she has -- although Algebra 2 is pretty crazy, too. Anyway, with some disgust, she showed me her grades: Article Report 20/20, Quiz 44/52, Test 92/100 with 6 bonus points to make it a 98.

I said, "Wow, that's great! You're doing really well! I bet you're relieved to see that you may survive this class after all!"

She was still looking disgusted, "I didn't think I did that well, Mom."

"Sure you did! Keep up the good work!"

And off she went to go work on her homework, but I think she was feeling a little more lighthearted that she had last week, a little closer to feeling that she could make it.

As I cooked dinner, the two girls were hanging out at the kitchen and we told stories.

Kathleen told me about how one of her teachers, as she sat at her desk, kept having to answer the same question by various students. So Kathleen said to her, "You know, my mom has seven of us kids. When we ask her questions, she tells just one of us, and whoever has the information passes it on to everyone else."

The teacher replied that she ought to do the same thing! I got the biggest kick out of that! I'm glad she wasn't offended by an upstart sixth grader!

And because this post isn't nearly long enough, I'm going to type up Ginny's yummy enchilada recipe that she made for us on her last visit and that I successfully duplicated tonight for dinner. I sit here typing well past my bedtime hoping that I didn't eat too much of the enchiladas!

Enchilada Casserole

Prepare enchilada mix: Brown about a pound of ground beef and onions (if you like onions) in a big skillet. I like to add seasoning salt to the beef (and to everything else, as well), then drain fat. Add the following: Big can of spaghetti sauce, small can of mild enchilada sauce, 1-2 cups of cheese, smallish size tub of sour cream. Allow to simmer for a few minutes.

Prepare in largish baking dish: Put in about 1/3 of the enchilada mix from skillet, top with torn up layer of either corn or flour tortillas (I did half of each because some of the family likes corn and some likes flour), then layer with another 1/3 of enchilada mix and top this mid layer with slices of black olives (YUM!), then layer once more with tortilla strips.* Top last layer of tortilla strips with remaining enchilada mix. Cover and bake for about 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees.

* Note: You could opt to roll the enchilada mix into the more traditional enchilada rolls. Then, top with the remaining mixture. I like to keep things as simple as I can, so I just tear the strips. Either way, it ends up tasting the same!

Two Carts

This week's grocery store story:

I took my first grocery cart, filled to the brim, over to the wide-aisled line in hopes of finding a semi-capable grocery clerk to tend it for me, while I went to go fill up my second cart. I found a young man, who I'm pretty sure was still in high school, who was willing to keep on eye on my first cart.

I came back with the second cart full, as usual, and a big grin on my face, "I'm back."

"Yeah, we were all wondering who's line you'd get into. I figured it would be mine," he said with some chagrin.

And me, without Keri Lynn to help ease his pain.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Call and He will answer

I know posts from me have been a bit sporadic to say the least, but this has been a crazy time. This week, four kids went to public school, three of them for the first time. The three have never been in a classroom setting EVER. The closest they've come is their DVD classmates from A Beka.

Kristofer told me that he used to pause the DVD lesson and make faces at his DVD classmates, just because he was bored. It was really hard for him to sit still for that long and do his work. I've been most worried about how he would do in school because of that. As it so happens, he's the one that is loving it. He comes home full of stories about his teachers, the bus driver, the other kids. So far, his experience has been very positive. He especially enjoys his Spanish class, of all things, and practices diligently every night.

Keri Lynn and Kathleen, on the other hand, have come home in turn in tears because 1) Keri Lynn gets frustrated with herself and the difficulty of the material and 2) Kathleen gets discouraged about "not getting it." She says she lacks confidence. Both girls want to shine, and they're feeling like they're not even getting a spark going.

But I tell them, "Don't fret. You've only had four days of school. You still have 176 more to go!"
At which they roll their eyes at me, "Mom, that really doesn't help!"

Meanwhile, I have the three youngest here alone at home for NINE hours. NINE hours. I only need maybe two of those hours for school work. With this extra time, I've been able to spend inordinately wasteful time at the computer, I've started walking again, I'm nearly caught up with the laundry and dishes, and the house is in relative order!

I go on my walk at 8:00 AM and the kids come with me on their bikes. The earlier I start, the better right now, because it is blazing hot. It's supposed to go to 104 degrees today, possibly breaking temperature records. I worry about the kids coming home on the bus, but their ride home is much shorter than it is going and none of them complain about the heat. I think they're just happy to get home and relax a little.

However, when 4:00 comes around, then my game gets stepped up into high gear. First Kathleen comes home on her bus followed shortly by Keva. Thus ensues a flurry of paperwork to look through and sign, Keva's teacher's daily report, and Kathleen's fledgling start of her real homework. Last night, she had to write a five paragraph rough draft about her home town. Nothing like starting off easy, right?

At about 4:30, Kristofer comes bounding in, followed a few minutes later by a slower, much more heavily laden Keri Lynn. She has two history classes this semester with books the size of those giant library dictionaries. Good grief! She's feeling overwhelmed right now by the workload, but I've assured her that she'll get her rhythm going and do just fine. She's just got to figure out what each of her teachers are looking for in their testing. I've been able to help her in Algebra 2, but already it's starting to get beyond me. She explained the process of a particular problem that she was working on, and my eyes started to glaze over. Then, I was finally able to help her figure out the sign for absolutes, and then we laughed together about how now we had a concrete example that there are such things as absolutes that she could show her world history teacher! Which leads me to wonder why a world history teacher is so fired up about teaching kids that life has no absolutes. Wouldn't that be filed under philosophy? Just wondering.

Probably the one thing that surprises me most so far about public school is how tight their schedules are. They don't even have time to go to the bathroom most days. Keri Lynn told me how she was sitting in her first block class yesterday morning surprised at how fast she'd gotten there. Kristofer's classes are all in one building, but Keri Lynn only has about seven minutes to get from one building to the next for her classes. Kathleen's not sure she even wants to brave the cafeteria line because it's like a huge assembly line. She'd rather bring her lunch and have a little more time to eat.

As soon as kids start getting home, then my mind focuses on getting them all to bed! They are all pretty tired, but they still have to get some homework done. So, we're slowly tweaking our schedule to make it all work. I've started having some of them get showers before dinner, so that that is out of the way. I've had to send Kathleen to nap before attempting any homework, so she can look at the work without breaking into tears. I want everyone in bed by 8:00, or at the very latest 9:00, but it hasn't worked that neatly yet. I myself have wanted to be in bed by 10:00, but it's usually nearer midnight!

When we all homeschooled, I'd read the Bible to the kids in our group session time, then move on to other subjects. Now, since evening is the only time when we're all together anymore, I've moved Bible reading to bedtime. It has been a sweet time for us. We're reading in Hosea right now. (I have to edit that book quite a bit, though!). But the message of Hosea is so important to us today. God judges Israel for her sin. He releases harsh judgment on them to force them to call on Him.

I came across this verse that gave me pause for thought, "In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me." Hosea 5:15

I reminded the kids, and even more, myself, that we need to call on Him when we are in trouble. When there isn't enough time to get to a class. When homework is to hard. When a teacher is an extremist evolutionist. When there wasn't enough time to get a decent amount of sleep. When the van's transmission has failed. When bills aren't getting paid. When (fill in the blank).

We forget to call on the One who can truly help us. Don't forget to call on Him first when things start to slide downhill. When we call on Him, He answers us.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Happy Anniversary, Sweetie Pie!

I wrote this before the tumult that was the end of our summer vacation began! Better late than never, I always say . . .

I was 19, he was 21. We officially met at a Risk game. He says that I came into the room, took my place and said to the rest of the players, "I'm taking the pink armies and I'm beating you all," and he was smitten.

I don't quite remember it that way, but I do remember an enjoyable night playing Risk. I noticed that tall young man and saw that he was personable, a good sport, and that he was taking a look at me, too.

When my friend who'd picked me up from school and driven me to the game said he had a meeting to get to early the next morning, the tall young man offered to take me back to Biola. So we set off in his little Toyota Corolla. We talked and talked all the way.

"You don't have a boyfriend?" he asked.

"Um, no. I've never had a boyfriend."

"How can that be?"

This, of course, pleased me inordinately. He asked me for my phone number and then, when he dropped me off at my dorm, opened the door for me, and I was smitten.

Then, upon waiting an appropriate amount of time, he called two days later and asked me on a date. A real date! A little while later I received my first kiss. Those dates continued for another two-and-a-half years. And finally, with graduation six months away, on my 22nd birthday, he asked me to be his wife.

He put my engagement ring in an ice cube and the waiter brought my water with the ice cube in it and pointed down, "Look, that ice cube is floating to the bottom."

This tall man, the love of my life, was so nervous that I would swallow the ice cube or wouldn't notice what was there, but I did notice. I saw the tell-tale sign of a gold band. I'd clued into the many hints along the way that evening. I knew what it was!

We sat at our table at the restaurant, happy idiots, watching the ice cube melt away from the ring. Then, he went to his knees and asked me to marry him.

I said, "YES!" and because I really didn't want that moment to end, added, "Now, ask me again."

And he did and I said "yes!" again, and we laughed and cried. He was so relieved and could finally eat the food I'd ordered. This worked out just fine, because I was too excited to eat.

We got married on a beautiful July morning at 11:00. It was a simple wedding. He wanted lots of flowers. I wanted the wedding colors to be peach and gray and I wanted him to wear a black tux with tails. He held my trembling hands steadily in his own while we said our vows.

When the wedding and reception wrapped up, we decided it had been the most wonderful wedding ever! We went off in his brand new Toyota truck, with trailing cans and whipped cream on the windows. However, we couldn't go off to the airport for our honeymoon yet! We had to go buy some hiking boots for our honeymoon! Wearing our get-away clothes, we marched into REI to find hiking boots. What a strange sight we must have been.

After that, we were hungry! So we went to Sizzler where four of our wedding guests, including my maid of honor, happened to be eating lunch, so we joined them and basked in the fellowship before heading off to the airport.

We flew using his work passes -- the first time I could fly free as the wife of an air line employee. Back then, one could fly standby and be pretty much assured a seat every time, and often get first class to boot. This time was no exception. We flew in style and even received a Newlyweds' complimentary bottle of champagne. With rings shining and glasses fizzing, we toasted our new life together.

Now, 19 years later, our rings aren't quite so shiny. In fact, his ring is practically molded to his skin (he's never taken it off), and mine is worn at the bottom from many dishes. We've gained a few (clearing of throat, here) pounds. He needs bifocals and I need glasses to read fine print. We look at seven children -- how did they get here, anyway? And we marvel . . .

Where did the time go? We can't possibly be married nearly two decades? OLD PEOPLE are married that long, not us! Yet the calendar does not lie. As gray hair gains speed on the dark hair and bones creak and eyes squint, we marvel at the blessing of marriage.

Thank you, Keith, for 19 years of being my dearest friend and love.

With all my love,

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

To the Capitol!

We parked in the coolest parking lot right above the freeway! I think this was the kids' favorite part of the whole outing. They stood looking down at the cars zooming by underneath.

Here we are in the state senate room. The lady in front was our very capable tour guide.

Here she is again explaining some of the significance of various paintings.

Denise and me. (My purse is jam packed with brochures for future field trips.)

The kids at a historic cannon.

I was intrigued by this statue in front of the capitol building.

At the base of the statue were these words:
War Governor of Georgia
Patriot, Statesman, Christian
Born April 15, 1821 Died November 30, 1894
Governor of Georgia four terms 1857-1865
Chief Justice Supreme Court of Georgia 1868-1870
United States Senator from Georgia 1880-1891
Founder of Charles McDonald Brown
Scholarship Fund
University of Georgia
Wife of Joseph Emerson Brown
Born July 13, 1826 Died Decemeber 26, 1896
Devoted Wife, Loving Mother, Loyal Patriot
A Christian Obedient to God

Here are the little kids after a educational tour of the capitol -- digging for rolly pollies.

It was a hot day -- about 96 degrees -- and humid. Denise treated us to Dairy Queen. It was just what the doctor ordered!

The line-up, again by age: Konner, Victoria, Kade, Kylie, Joshua, Kathleen, Kathleen H., Keva, Bethany, Kristofer and Keri Lynn.

Kylie and Victoria get ready for bed. It's another early day tomorrow for all of us!

First Day of School

I love this picture of Kathleen. She was so excited about the first day that she hardly slept. She was sure I must have waken her up only minutes before she fell asleep.

Keva sat herself down for some breakfast, but she eats breakfast at school. Her bus comes a few minutes after the other kids' bus.

Keri Lynn gets ready for her big day.

Kristofer decided to go a little early to the bus stop just in case he missed the bus.

There he is all by himself! (I took this picture from our bathroom window -- the only view out to the side of our house where the driveway is.) By the time the bus comes there are about 10-12 kids waiting at that stop. The bus then goes to the elementary school. The elementary school students get off to go their school, the high school kids get off to go to a bus that will take them to the high school, and the middle school students stay on and go on to their school.