Wednesday, April 30, 2008

One more wish

For many years, Adam and I had felt that he would make a good elder in a church. We've been members of many Presbyterian churches over the years, but for some reason, the eldership never did happen. Perhaps the moving around didn't help any. And Adam's natural arrogance was sometimes an inhibiting factor, I imagine. Still, I've known many an elder more difficult than he.

And of course, for many years, Adam sought a pastorate. He came close, serving as a youth pastor, and coming within an inch of being ordained. It was something he actively pursued, but which the Lord did not see fit to give him. Maybe sometimes we seek things too hard.

Then we moved here. And in our dear little ARP church, he was finally asked to be an elder. It was unexpected, but really a wonderful thing. And on Sunday, several of the elders approached him and asked if he'd be willing to serve as an associate pastor of our church. It wouldn't be a paying position, of course. But in the summers (when he's not teaching), he would help with visitation, and give our pastor a hand. We have many elderly and lots of visitation to do. And Adam loves that work, always has.

So, a very old wish is finally being satisfied. It feels strange. It wasn't anything he pursued at all. I think it is nicer this way.

A little light trashy reading:

This book looks very interesting. Bauer is a great writer, and a favorite among classical educators like MOI.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Back from NASA

Well, Philip has returned from his 5 days away in Huntsville, AL, at the NASA rocket event. It wasn't a competition, so I can't call it that. 16 teams went there to launch their rockets and see if they were able to meet their team goals.

Philip's team (3 boys and their sponsor, a local science professor) had a fabulous launch - the rocket went straight and really fast, about 2 miles, he said. But something went wrong with the parachute release, and the descent was not so good. The rocket (6 feet tall) went straight into an Alabama corn field. When the boys went to find it, Philip spotted the red fins of the rocket, sticking out of the soil. They dug for over an hour to get the rocket out and salvage what they could. They retrieved the data chip, and will wait to see what it reveals about the rocket's flight.

All in all, it was a great experience for Philip. He got to spend 3 days at the NASA facility, touring the place and learning about the work there. He is interested in it, and maybe -- who knows -- will look into that field, when he is thinking about engineering in college.

We've had a great visit with Gloria. She'll leave to return home tomorrow. Philip hasn't had much time to visit with her though. It's nice to have him home again. Hopefully, I'll be able to post a couple of pictures of the rocket launch, when he gets them to me.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Company from Afar

Adam's mom is here for the weekend to visit. She LOVES yard work (what a blessing :)) She and Peter have been attacking the front edge of our yard.
She came over in her new, cute white truck. Adam enjoyed using the truck today to go get free mulch and compost at the landfill. They only give it out free twice each year. He was thrilled.
He put a lot under these trees.
And then he took a nap in the living room. I think he's worn out, bless him. Note the cooling mechanism.
Julia got creative today, and layers various blossoms for a pretty effect.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

April Bloomers

Our Lady Banks Rose is going crazy - it's massive! Of course, this is the growing habit of this plant, but still, it's a thing to behold!
This is a good-sized azalea, which sits on the boundary between our driveway and our neighbor's yard.
Here is my favorite azalea, a drapey white one in the front yard. It reminds me of something bridal.
Here's a sweet shot of Philip and Anna, before Philip's concert last week. He found the tux for $20 at Goodwill, what a deal! Here he is giving Anna a hug for her birthday, I believe. And speaking of birthdays, tonight Adam and I will go out for supper, to celebrate his day. We didn't have time yesterday.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Gum Specialist

Julia visited the gum specialist yesterday. He will perform the frenectomy today.

Yesterday's consultation: $79
Today's surgery: $508

Cha-ching, as they say :(

Next stop: the dentist, for the withdrawal of 2 teeth.

Update: Frenectomy complete. Phew! She did great, but now it's beginning to hurt, and she's a little tender, bless her heart.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Dental Adventures

If I could access the pictures taken at the orthodontist's office of Julia, I would. But then she might kill me if she found out :) Anyway...

Julia has 2 mouth issues: a very heavy frenum, and a crossbite. The frenum is the strip of tissue that connects the lip to the gum between the front teeth. Her upper frenum is thick like a rubber band, goes between the teeth and wraps around behind them. I've known it would be an issue since she was a baby; there's no way her front teeth could ever come together with that thing in the middle. Dentists have always told us to wait until her adult teeth come in. An oral surgeon recently told me in a reprimanding tone that he would not advise cutting into "healthy tissue," and charged me $89 for that 3 minutes of his time. In his hurry, he also failed to notice the child has a crossbite. That means that one of her front teeth falls in front of her bottom teeth, and one falls behind. All that to say, she has a pretty scary front part of her mouth, and she doesn't like to smile at people.

So we decided to see an orthodontist. Bear in mind, we have no dental insurance, much less orthodontic insurance. But the first consultation was free, so we went. And bless his heart, he looked at that frenum and said, "Well, that must come out first." It is too large for him to do, so he is sending us to a gum specialist. After that, we need to get 2 of her adult teeth to descend (the ones next to her front teeth). They can't do that until the 2 baby teeth occupying those spots are removed, so we'll take a visit to her dentist to remove those teeth. Then we will return to the ortho.

Thankfully, she won't need braces! My purse just breathed a sigh of relief. Once the other issues are resolved, he can correct the crossbite with just retainers. It's also because the REST of her bite is actually very good. He'll put 2 retainers in her mouth, with spacers on top of her teeth to prevent her from biting down all the way, thus allowing her top tooth to 'clear' her bottom teeth. And on the top retainer, behind that tricky tooth, he'll put a little spring that will apply constant pressure to the tooth, and make it move forward. Once it clears the bottom teeth, he'll take the spacers out, and her natural bit will prevent it from going back behind. Ingenious!

And my daughter will smile for her pictures again :)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Anna had some fun:

Anna, as I said before, went out on a Daddy/Daughter date to Olive Garden. This is the only picture she took, of her chicken parmesan. Still, she had a wonderful time.
This was her elegant table, set tonight for her 'at home' sweet sixteen dinner, with 2 friends. We set many candles, my wedding china and crystal, and a few wedding gifts I hadn't pulled out in YEARS!
Anna with one of her good friends, Brooke. Her other friend Posey arrived a little later.
Here is the dinner: Clementine chicken (with the most luscious gravy that ever dribbled from a lip), rice, green beans with orange. They began with a cheese plate, homemade baguettes, honey butter, and salad.
And here is Adam's dessert - a flourless chocolate cake -- only chocolate, butter & eggs. Topped with whipped cream and fresh strawberries, it is the perfect end to a delicious meal. And hot tea. The girls are now downstairs watching a chic flic.


Here is our bower - Adam calls it a grotto! I suppose I should be sitting there in a long, lacy dress, painting or writing! The Lady Banks Rose is cascading so gracefully now; it's pleasant to sit there.
Adam worked more on his arches. After this, he completed his third arch. And then, overnight, disaster struck - he had a "cathedral catastrophe!" The 3 arches were too heavy for the side walls of his oven, and one of them collapsed :( Of course, the arches fell as well. Now, he will rebuild the entire oven box. He will do a sturdier job this time, and build the side walls up with concrete outside of them, as he goes up. Still, it was a big disappointment - 2 weeks of work lost.

From this to that:

These sheep belong to my brother and sister-in-law, who own a beautiful farm, also known as "about the prettiest place on earth." Nice sheep. Max shears them each year and they send the wool off to Prince Edward Island, to have it turned into blankets.
And now I finally have two! I've wanted one of their blankets for years. They are great blankets: beautiful, warm, and still light-weight. Perfect.
Unfortunately, changes in regulations about shipping between the US and Canada have made it too difficult to have the blankets made anymore. How sad! It's no longer cost-effective. I'm so glad I got these before there were no more left!
And speaking of international shipping, here's a bizarre but all-too-common tale: we bought some boxed fish (whiting) at the store last week. The packaging said this: "caught live in Canada, processed in China." And then sold in North Carolina. I couldn't help but wonder if they also sell this fish in Boston? Buffalo? Maine? Seattle? How ridiculous is it that it's somehow fiscally wise to catch the fish in Canada, ship it all the way to China so that someone can wrap it up and put it in a box, and then sell in it a city a few hours south of Canada? If that's truly cost-efficient, then there's something very messed up about our international trade!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Blogging trouble

Blogger has been having some trouble, and I couldn't upload photos. Oh well. Adam now has 3 arches built on his dome. I have another bed of ferns transplanted. We're off school today (yippee!), so that makes 3 days in a row for me - how wonderful :) I am relaxing!! Hopefully now I will be able to make it through til summer. We get out on May 30, I believe - a half day on a Friday. That's WAY ahead of the public schools, thankfully!

Gorgeous weather this week. Tonight Philip has a band concert with the group he's playing with now - it's a college concert band. He's not practicing quite as much as he used to, but that's because he's got some friends now that he hangs out with, and I'm thankful. We've moved around so much, it's been hard for our kids to make good friends. He is at one boy's house today, working on a cool project for physics class. Next week he'll go with 2 other boys to Huntsville, AL, with their sponsor, to NASA's rocket team competition. That's been a exciting extra-curricular for him, but a lot of work.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Treat

Isn't that fun? I put blue food coloring into the treat mixture and mixed it around. I've done a red heart-shaped one before, for Adam on Valentine's. Anna really liked this one.

The After Picture

Here's the flower bed, from about the same angle as before. I hope you can tell a difference! I wanted to leave SOME of the vinca, so you'll see it along the back (where nothing else will grow) and a big clump on the right, and some still in front of the large rose bush.
Here's another view. I now have 4 roses, with a bushy little astilbe in the middle of them. In the front are the 4 hostas. I found one of them, hiding, this morning in the midst of the weeds, and moved him up front. He's so little you probably can't see him.
This is the wheelbarrow of stuff I took out of the bed. Oh, plus one iron pole. And I moved some monkey grass.
And here are the bulbs I dug out of the bed. I placed my size 9 shoe next to them so you could see they are BIG bulbs. I have another pile like this one, elsewhere in the yard.

Happy Birthday, Anna!

She's Sixteen! Isn't she beautiful?
For her birthday present from us, she asked that her daddy take her out on a fancy Daddy/Daughter date. They're going to Olive Garden, her choice. Isn't that sweet? Instead of a cake today, she wants rice krispie treats. Then on Saturday evening, she'll have some friends over, and Adam will make them a fancy dinner (again!). She's asked for Clementine Chicken, rice, and I don't know what else. Must pull out the good china. Happy Birthday, sweet daughter!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Hubby's day off

Today, Adam had a day off work. He was a happy guy! He determined to go to our church and help another man clean up a couple of trees that were cut down. Then Adam hauled home a load of cherry and maple for our fireplace next winter!
Then he worked on the dome of his oven. It's looking nice. It may look much as it did before, but at that time the bricks were only set in place; now they are cemented in with fire clay.
He will be putting 2 more rows of brick in front of that one, as he moves up to the front, and the door.
He also bought some fine-looking tomato plants today. He will put them in their beds tomorrow, since we are having a freeze warning tonight. Tad late for a freeze, in my opinion.
And tomorrow, I have a day off! One of my projects is to weed this bed and get it looking nice. Yikes! It's in a horrible state. This will serve as the "before" picture. Wish me luck!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

I'm back

The ladies' retreat over Friday/Saturday went well; we had a great time. Now I'm catching up on all the stuff I missed: groceries, laundry, vacuuming. And a little grading. I'll post more later - this coming week I only work 2 days - yay for personal days!!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Yes, yes,

I'm still here. Just busy. And no, I haven't finished preparing that lesson for the ladies' retreat this Friday. But I'm thinking about it. If I do all the preliminary thinking, then it should take me no time at all to write it down. Hm.

Monday, April 7, 2008

As if 3 blog posts weren't enough,

Adam has placed the fire bricks for the oven dome. He still needs to concrete them in. The fire bricks in this oven part will not be visible when the project is finished.
Here are the first pickings from our lettuce bed. Adam is just "thinning" them, but we'll use these thinnings on our hamburgers tonight :)
The casserole is made by a company called Cordon Bleu. I'm so hungry! Doesn't it look yummers?

When God hits you with a friendly sledgehammer...

Nod in agreement and tell Him that one hit is adequate. For several months, our ladies' Sunday school class has been studying "Your Scars Are Beautiful to God" by Sharon Jaynes. It's about coping with one's emotional scars, recognizing that God gave them to you for a reason, and finally being willing to share your hurts, for the building up of others. I grumbled internally at the idea of everyone's airing her dirty laundry, but had to agree that she seemed to have a point.

Then I went to visit my mother. And a friend asked me a favor. "Will you please be our speaker at our ladies' luncheon in May? Oh, and while you're up there, could you sing?" I gulped, regretted my words before I said them, and agreed.

The VERY NEXT DAY, back home, a nice lady from my church called me on the phone. "Our ladies' retreat is coming up soon, you know, and I haven't been able to find a speaker. Would you be willing to give you testimony? Oh, and while you're at it, could you sing?" I raised my eyebrow at the phone, and agreed.

To top it off, the next Sunday morning, our pastor (whose wife is in the SS class) decided to preach on the subject of being willing to share the troubles in your life, that God has given you - those scars are there for a reason!

Yes, God. I heard you. Those of you who know me well, also know that the prospect of sharing my testimony is fraught with dangers. I have assiduously avoided it. But the time has come to at least approach the job, and find out what I should say, and perhaps what I should not. Should be interesting. I'm avoiding the preparation for it, almost as well as I avoided the task itself for so long!

Product Post #4: a beautiful casserole

Alright, so I don't know if you'd really call this a product post, but I sure have enjoyed this casserole. It was a wedding gift almost 19 years ago. Many thanks to Mrs. Kathy West! I love it because it is both useful and beautiful. It's an attractive shape, and the little flowers all around are charming. I'd tell you what company made it, but it's presently in the oven, very hot, with baked beans, a few slices of onion, and a slab of bacon bubbling away on top. Hungry?

If you don't love hostas, don't look.

Here's my first hosta to arise from its sleep this spring. There should be 5 in this bed. I became concerned when it was the only one for a couple of weeks.
Then, finally, a second set of spears peeked out. Can you see them? This one is my favorite, a deep green color.
Now here was a serendipitous clump of unexpected hostas we found just today! They were hiding last spring in the undergrowth. I'm so excited to have a well-established plant! I may divide it later this year.
Can you find the two hostas in this pic? The distant one is hiding among the rocks, for protection from my children's feet. Do you see the wasteland that my hostas are required to grow in? I want a broad band of them around this tree trunk.
Adam is working on the form, to make his fire-brick arch that will be the dome of his oven. I'm about to go out and take a picture of the first band of bricks, set in place. I'll post it later!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

And the cousins descend upon us!

Yes, our dear cousins from West Virginia (well, some of them) are here for the weekend. The kids have had fun. Here they are playing a new card game, "El Presidente." It was evidently taught them by their father. Thanks, Max :) There's a president, and vice president. And for some reason, a "trash" and a "vice-trash." Don't ask me; I don't know how to play!
Here they are, just before church. They have been a little pack for 24 hours. Much messy playing in the creek. Except Anna and Hannah - they are indoor girls who prefer movies.
They all went to the park yesterday, and took Lacey. She has yet to recover from all that playing, cold weather, mud, and the resulting bath. The dog can barely move!

Saturday, April 5, 2008


for my mom: Adam finally was able to fix your old toaster! Can you believe it? It's taken him a while to sit down with it and all his electrical tools and figure out what was wrong. He gave it a test run, and it produced a perfect piece of cinnamon toast.

everyone else: we're anticipating the arrival of Anne and 4 children this afternoon. It's been rainy and is muddy outside, but I'm sure we'll have fun anyway.

Friday, April 4, 2008

In support of my no icky shoes in the house policy

Here is my ingenious rack for icky, outdoor shoes! It used to be on the back of a door, but I only used the top half of the rack, and I duct-taped it to our back porch rail. Works great!
Here is a wonderful bush that our neighbor has, but it's right on our driveway. It's so cheerful, with its bright yellow blooms. Does anyone know what it is?
Here's a close-up. Our neighbor has said we may dig up the volunteers that have sprouted around the base. It's a fast-grower.
Finally, my bleeding-heart plant has begun to show its face, slowly. I've placed sticks around it (gently) to discourage our dog from lying on top of it, in its present baby-state.

I survived:

a full week of school, after spring break. 'Nuff said.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


My photos are still really messed up when I upload them. (Right now, I'm seeing garbled text, instead of pictures.) So -- I can't remember what order I uploaded the pics in! Perhaps the geyser picture is first. It was the nicest one, and I couldn't access it last week. The other pics are just various lovely bloomers in our yard - enjoy!