Friday, October 31, 2008

In which fun was had by the kitty kats...

We started out at the cake walk. Here's Peter, hoping against hope for a nice big plate of cupcakes, but alas, it was Anna who won the whopping plate full of cookies, which she claims she will eat all by herself!

Here is Julia with her fellow kitty cat, Torie. These two hooked up with friends, Ruth and Paige, for a very fun evening!

Good Witch Allie, looking lovely in her striped stockings. She's one of my favorite students.

Julia and Ruth on a crazy ride. Those girls wore themselves out, pumping that bar back and forth to make the ride go faster. They were working off all the sugar they ate!

What an awesome foursome! After the festival, they all came over to our house, and the girls went trick-or-treating in our neighborhood to some fun houses. We adults wore our feet out, keeping up with them!

My little kitty cat

We're taking Julia to a local church's fall festival this evening. They serve free hot dog dinners, have great rides and treats for the kids, and generally kick off the fall season in a big way. And maybe I'll remember to take my camera?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Those Girls

Julia is supposed to donate $5 that she has earned, to a fund at school to help raise money for charity. So, she needed a job - something I'd be willing to pay her $5 for! We all know what a tight-wad I I decided I'd like for her to scrub my kitchen floor (ick!), plus the pantry (double ick!), and rinse and dry it too.
And I must say, she did a thorough and lovely job :)

This was from a few nights ago, when we had a fire and Anna drifted into the living room to enjoy it. I'm still trying to keep the heat down, so sometimes the girls hover around the fireplace.

I also went to vote yesterday. And since I am pro-life, of course I voted for McCain and Palin. The line of voters at the board of elections building was wound around in their lobby and went out the door and down the sidewalk. They say turn-out is very heavy. The man at the McCain headquarters told me that at one precinct in Charlotte, on the first day of voting 4 years ago, they had 750 people. On the same day this election, they had 7500 people. Probably not all new voters -- many people are just taking advantage of voting early, which is convenient. Still, I do think this election will draw voters out who might not usually vote.

And although polls have not looked favorable for McCain lately, I still hold out hope that he can win. Perhaps the polls are as inaccurate as the media? Possible.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Running around

Yesterday was one of those running around days, for both of us. Adam was barely home (like, 10 minutes?) until 9:30 PM. I had rehearsal too. All the kids were here, of course, because we couldn't take them anywhere! Too busy.

I've turned on the heat (finally) a little bit these last 2 days, to take a chill off the house in the mornings, but we're trying to conserve.

Monday, October 27, 2008

On this pictureless night

My hubby and I are sitting together on the couch. We are watching the fire die. It has been a fine fire. At one point, it looked distinctly like a fire-subway sandwich, with 2 black logs as the buns, and a nice sheet of fire in the middle. A few licking flames looked like condiments, dribbling out the edges.

We're listening to Christmas music, and don't you dare tell me it's too early. If my husband can tolerate it, so can you. It's Mannheim Steamroller's Christmas CD from years ago.

And we're eating a new invention: Adam's gorp. Mini-marshmallows, peanuts, raisins and milk chocolate chips. I've been experimenting with shoving the various other items into the middle of the marshmallows. This gorp is much less expensive than the one with M&Ms.

I'm sorry for the evening to end. It's been fun sitting on the couch, looking forward to months of lovely fires and quiet evenings. I graded a few poems this evening, but nothing strenuous.

Tomorrow should be colder and windy. I've finally gotten all my winter clothes from the trunk, and I have sweaters stacked on my closet shelf. It's my favorite time of year.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

God knows

I mentioned earlier that our pastor's wife is very ill, and he is very busy attending to her at this time. Adam preached in Rob's place earlier this week, and Adam preached at our church again this morning. The session has agreed to give Rob a temporary leave of absence so that he can devote himself to his family needs right now. They've asked Adam to preach on Sunday mornings, during this time. No one knows how long this will be.

As I've also indicated, Adam would love to find a pastorate. Several times over the years, he's served as a pulpit supply for churches who find themselves without a pastor for an extended period. So he has experience, but no pastorate opened up for him this fall. However, God knew that our church would be needing him, here at home. God knew Bev would be sick, and Rob would need time off, and the church would need Adam. Aren't we glad that God knows these things ahead of time. It is always better to wait on God and his timing.

Adam's sermon this morning was from his heart -- about the purpose of suffering. About how God designs suffering in our lives for a purpose, to fit us for heaven. As Romans 5 says, suffering produces perseverance (living through it, toughing it out), but that's not its goal. The perseverance eventually produces character, often character that cannot be developed in any other way. Adam even admitted (boldly, I think) that he's prayed for some people to experience suffering, in order to improve their character. :0 And this character then produces hope. The hope we have (and it is such a significant chunk of life) is our hope of heaven. It reminds us that this world is only a prelude to a much more important reality. Thus, suffering is not just a chaos, nor a happenstance, nor the machinations of a cruel God. He only gives us the suffering that is necessary for our molding. And the suffering is not the goal; the hope is the goal.

Perhaps one could even say that, if a person is left in a constant state of suffering, without reaching the other stages, something is askew with how he's responding to his suffering. A large, dark world of people out there deal with their sufferings that way. I'm sorry to say that quite a few Christians do also. Scripture says we should not suffer as those without hope.

Okay, so not all of that was his sermon. I added a little bit!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A foretaste of the empty nest

This morning, after making pancakes for 7, (And they were very large pancakes. I have quite a flipping skill.) the teenagers all left. Adam went to the church for a rehearsal, and Julia and I were left alone.

With the truck.

But we toodled around anyway, to Sally's and Fred's. We found suspenders for Philip, which he needs to hold up his tuxedo pants tomorrow when he plays the trumpet.

Julia left after lunch, and Adam and I found ourselves alone. On the way to WalMart, I tried Sonic's Cherry Limeade (I had a free coupon) and it was excellent. It had a slice of lime and a real cherry stem sticking out the side of the plastic lid.

Now Adam is making supper for us: ham/cheese omelets, fried potatoes, and toast. I think we eat more breakfast food than we used to, but it's fresh, it's cheap, and it's yummy.

And tonight I'm aiming for a replay of last evening, complete with fireplace and relaxation.

See ya tomorrow!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Instead of brownies,

I decided upon this: hot chai and windmill cookies

Adam bought me that teapot many years ago in Galena, Illinois. We walked outside my favorite tea shop EVER (it was like walking into an alternate reality), and I mentioned to Philip how pretty that chinz pot was. Adam sneaked back and bought it for me. Isn't he sweet? And the cozy I bought years ago too. I rarely use it.

In case you can't tell, we're really enjoying our evening. Julia liked the tea. I didn't have any cream or half & half, but I had an already-opened can of sweetened condensed milk. I put two dollops in the pot of tea, and boy is it good! I might never go back!

Silent Night

That's what's playing in the living room right now. Adam lit a fire in the fireplace for the first time, this evening. Julia is enjoying it too, and now she has her favorite soft pillow and blankie on the floor. It feels like the season has begun.

It's dark outside now, but only a few minutes ago, Adam and I both noted how unusual the light of dusk looked. It had a rich, golden tone. The fallen leaves and tree trunks glowed.

The boys are out having fun (both of them with groups of girls, strangely enough!). Anna is downstairs with her best friend watching a movie. The logs are crackling and rolling around. Adam is relaxing (finally!), which makes my wifely heart glad. I may go in the kitchen and make some brownies. Maybe.

I forgot to mention,

Back on Tuesday, was it, that Adam was gone basically ALL DAY...he also forgot to put on his shoes that day, and wore his bedroom slippers (they're rather like moccasins) all day long. Poor fella.

But now, ahhhh, cross-country is OVER for the season. Everyone cheer!

Philip is working, and then will go to Scarowinds, a "halloween" version of the nearest theme park.
Anna is at Culinary Club at school with a friend, who will come home with her and spend the night here.
Peter is home but will be leaving soon to go to a movie with friends from school.
Julia is just home. Phew!

BUT, tomorrow:
Phlip, Anna, Peter and Anna's friend will leave at about 8:15 with our church youth group to go hiking in the mountains all day long.
Julia will go with friends to a movie Sat. afternoon, and then will spend the night with them, returning Sunday AM.

I think this is what happens when you actually live in one location long enough for your kids to make friends. We've never actually done that before, very successfully.

All that to say, Adam and I may have some time alone, in the midst of the flurry of departing and arriving children.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Drive-through supper

As you all know, this is a pretty brutal week for Adam. Today, he left straight from school at the bell, with his cross-country team, for their last meet in Winston. He got back from that, with Peter in tow, and was in the house a full 15 minutes before having to leave with Philip to take him to trumpet rehearsal in Hickory.

[For those of you without teenagers, this is life with teenagers. We claimed we would never dash about this way. We succeeded for quite awhile. However, unless you want to lock them in the house, or give them insurance, keys and a vehicle (can you say $$$$?), this is your option.]

So, in his 15 minutes of family time, Adam wolfed down breakfast food. This is as close to drive-through eating as we get. I did, however, get a photo, before I took my second bite of biscuit. Also featuring: fried eggs, grits, bacon and stewed apples:

And he'll get home tonight after I've gone to bed. Sigh.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


insane busyness.
church commitments.
achy backs.
hungry children.
late evenings.

However, I'm glad to report that I presently have (drum roll, please) --


That's awfully nice :)

My camera is gathering dust this week. No time for hunting down pictures, and besides, we're not doing anything worthy of photography anyway. Except perhaps Anna's gleeful dancing around the house this evening. She was rapturously happy for no explainable reason. She's a 16 year old girl. I informed her somberly that it is just hormones. She smiled, and squealed, "I know!!" And danced off.

Peter has finally conquered the box of frosted flakes this evening.

I had to meet with Julia's 2 teachers today. She is living in an imaginary world from the books she dearly loves (reminds me of another 9 year old I knew, about 35 years ago). She's extremely bright but not performing up to potential. She hums and sings in class and distracts other students. She doesn't get her work done and forgets and misplaces things. Dear thing. I suppose she'll grow out of some of this.

Here's a nice poem that my American literature students are memorizing this week. Perhaps it will add to your autumn feeling:


O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf.
One from our trees, one far away,
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes' sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost --
For the grapes' sake against the wall.

-Robert Frost

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

We are exhausted!

Poor Adam. He left the house at 7:00 this morning, and finally came back home just a few minutes ago at 9:05. He's eating a big bowl of cereal, I think his first meal for the day.

Philip's trumpet activities in Hickory do take a lot of our time (especially Adam's). It will be a relief when he goes off to college and all his trumpet activities will be on him :) Not that we won't miss him....

Monday, October 20, 2008

The unexpected pleasures of life

This evening our family went to a worship service at a local Baptist church. We do this with other churches every year -- a 4-day series of revival services, uniting one Baptist, one Methodist, one Presbyterian (that's us), and one AME church. The services are truly uplifting, such a blessing to worship with a broader body of Christ. Tonight was such a night.

Our pastor's wife has been extremely ill for quite a while with cancer. He wasn't able to be at the service tonight, and he was supposed to preach. He'd hoped to come, but she had a difficult day. And our choir was to sing tonight, but our director had to go out of town on business. Our little difficulties are often God's opportunities.

Our choir sang anyway, and it went fine. We did a rousing, jazzy version of "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms." And, about 10 minutes before the service started, Adam found out that he would be preaching. Surprise! Perhaps it's better not to know, so as to avoid the nerves. He makes up for it by having more nerves afterward, I suppose. He preached on Nichodemus, and his 3 appearances in the Gospel of John, and how he changed from being a man in darkness, both physically and spiritually, to demonstrating faith at the most difficult time - carrying Christ's dead body to his tomb and showing publicly his faith in the power of a dead man.

It was a very powerful sermon and God blessed. I'm thankful that God uses Adam in such a way. I'm thankful he decided to go tonight. I'm thankful he decided to stay dressed up in his suitcoat instead of putting on a t-shirt!! And I'm encouraged for us both, once again, to see that God does want still to use him to preach. He does like teaching, and has a heart for middle schoolers, but his heart has always first been given to the church, and he longs to pastor. On nights like tonight, God seems to say to me, "Just wait. I'm still working on that plan."

Please pray for our pastor and his wife, Rob and Bev. They are going through dark valleys.

There will be no photo

of the neat, glass candle holder that Adam mounted on the side of his bread oven. It was broken yesterday by an aberrant soccer kick. Peter's soccer ball is now residing in his mother's closet. When it decides it can behave itself, it may be allowed to come out and play again. Maybe.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

And Candles for Atmosphere

Not a very good photo, but here is an assortment of candles I got at Salvation Army ("Sally's") today. They always have small, metal candle holders, and slightly used/slightly dinged pillar candles. I thought these would look nice on the patio. One of them is actually a hanging candle that Adam has already placed on the oven. I'll have to get a pic of that too.

Meanwhile, at the oven...

Adam worked on his roof again today.

He put flashing all around by the brick, and then the black paper.

Then the roofing shingles. Nothing fancy, but just weatherproof.

All the while, he's keeping his temperature up in the oven - looking' good! We do love fire in the family, don't know why...

Put a table out on the patio today, because Adam is having a bunch of runners from his cross-country team at school over for a run and then pizza. Middle school boys. They will remain outdoors at all times :)

More pyrotechnics

Last weekend I saw our neighbors' in-ground fire pit, and thought, "Boy, I'd sure like to have one of those." An in-ground pit is bigger, deeper, holds bigger wood, and looks safer. So, this morning Peter started digging. We decided to put it in the middle of the patio:

We've been told that Lacey is about in her 70s, in human years, so she's allowed to observe.

The extra dirt went in front of Adam's bread oven, to help level out that area. Philip put some flat stone over there to make it nice (and not so muddy).

Peter did a great job - nice deep hole.

We've had a fire in it all afternoon. Now we have 4 fire-sources in our backyard. Ridiculous. But so nice on a fall day. Adam even cooked a piece of old steak on this fire, to put on some pizza for supper. He felt very rustic.

Better festival pictures:

Here's the cute little old man again. In the background, you can get a much better idea of what the whole festival village looked like. There were trees dotting the broad walk down the center. Actually, the village is shaped like a horseshoe, with this center walk very wide, and little Tudor buildings on either side. There were many food vendors, shops with wares, and individual performers like this man, dotted along the way.

The jousting - kind of speaks for itself. Since this was just a little play-acting, I can't imagine what a REAL jousting tourney would have looked like. I think I would have been terrified.

Friday, October 17, 2008

2 festival pictures

[These photos are SO small. Philip will send them to me again, bigger.]
The jousting was very fun to watch. It was a large, oval jousting ring, with stands on both sides and the royalty seated at one end, in a tiered building. The purple guy won.

This quaint old man - Philip called him the "Spirit of Fall," or the "Thanksgiving Santa."


This is the one and only thing I bought at the Renaissance Festival. When the lady sold it to me, she said, "Welcome to the wild side." Well, a toe ring is about as far into the wild side as I'll ever go!!

I'll admit that I've wanted a toe ring for quite a while. I think it's cute. I wore it all day today at school, and my foot doesn't even hurt :)

I'm going to try to swipe some pictures of the Festival from Philip off of his facebook account, but he didn't take any pictures of the lovely buildings or the royalty. He took pictures of his friends, of course. I'll nab a few for you. Be back...

You'll have to wait a little longer

for my news. Hubby and I are going out to eat tonight. (Now, don't get excited. It'll be pretty cheap. It's the "going" that counts!) I've tidied the kitchen, prepped the kids' supper, and I'm "sitting on the ready," as Adam would say.

After dinner, we'll do our usual grocery shopping (yawn). But we're both VERY glad it's the weekend. It's so nice to get away from work, don't you think?

And, as usual...

...I forgot my camera yesterday, at the Renaissance Festival. That's when it's handy to have a 17 yo son along who is an avid photographer! Hopefully I'll nab a few pics from him, although, since he IS a 17 yo, they definitely won't be the same ones I would have taken!

It was really great. It was also rather hot, for a mid-October day. But this is a facility that remains there year-round and is used by this festival group for 7 weekends each fall. So, the Tudor buildings are lovely, and there are trees that shade the area, and a neat jousting arena.

I'll have to post more later, because I need to get to work this morning. I am looking forward to next year already!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

This week...

...has not been a good one. Teaching this week has been a grueling experience. It's the last week of the grading period, and my students just don't handle it well when things are required of them like research papers and major tests. On time, like with a due date, you know? I'm wondering how some of these kids will do in college.

So, tomorrow I'm going to the local Renaissance Festival. Apparently this is a big, fun deal. They have camels and elephants you can ride. And glass-blowing. And wenches is authentic dress. And jousting - I want to see that. I'm doing this field trip for our 27 seniors, who can't remember the last time somebody took them on a field trip. They are SO excited.

If I remember to take the camera, you may see a few pictures.


Is the bane of my existence, as a teacher. Everytime it happens with a student, I want to quit my job. Why does this area have to be such a red-hot button of grumpiness and anger for parents and kids?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Can you say, "Fried"?

Adam decided to find a recipe for hush puppies. He looked in his favorite general cookbook, "Joy of Cooking." He found one, but decided it was missing what we call the "secret ingredient": sugar. A little touch of sugar, and VOILA! they were the BEST hush puppies I've ever eaten. Hmmm. The pic just doesn't do them justice.

A little fried shrimp thrown in on the side...

Heart-attack city, but boy, was it good :)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fall Wreath

Here's my ever-useful wreath. It is made of pine cones, and I can add or remove "extras" depending on the season. I got all these little leaves, etc., at WalMart.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The pizza he made, the fun we had

Although I didn't see it myself, I was told that the flames were shooting up a foot above the top of the chimney - one hot fire!

Girls dislike having their lovely faces seen.

Boys care not at all! That's Peter's friend, Robert.

Need I say more?

They had fun together. We haven't eaten on the patio in quite awhile, waiting for the cool weather.

That hard-workin' man!

Today, Adam wanted to get the roof on his oven. Here he is drilling holes into the masonry, for his boards.

These boards go on next, and once he got these pieces cut and attached, that's as far as he got today. You can also see one of the rafters underneath, that he built.

His mobile workshop :)

I know this looks like he crashed afterward! Actually he took this nap at lunch. After his roofing, he immediately made us all pizza, of course.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Here are the 3 that I found helpful:

"20 Ways to Alienate Parents"
"Balancing Work and Home" (If I could figure this one out, I could probably work an extra 5 or 10 years. This is my biggest challenge. Evidently I'm not alone, because the room was PACKED with women who wanted help in this area.)
"Writing across the Curriculum"

The 3 required philosophy sessions were pretty much a rehashing of the typical philosophy/worldview stuff I've already heard and thought about.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Visiting the Twilight Zone

That's how it felt. I have an unusually good sense of direction, and can generally find my way anywhere with a decent map, or directions. Not this morning. Adam and I spent a solid hour, lost in Greensboro, driving over various stretches of interstate over and over again. It would help if people gave us accurate directions, and if the highway department wouldn't change the exit numbers. We did eventually arrive. Mildly frustrated.

The hotel where the HUGE ACSI convention was held has a lovely inside. Educational vendors everywhere. I got 2 free shoulder bags, several pieces of chocolate, some books for $1 each, and I got to talk to an old friend who was there to represent Covenant College - fun! The seminars were fine too. Well, mine were. Adam was mildly irritated by two of his. But that's what happens when people with education degrees try to talk about things which aren't their specialty.

Very tall hotel. Slightly dizzy photographer.

3000 educators attended this thing. We are required to go for our school's accreditation. Still, I enjoyed it very much and am grateful to be able to attend.