Monday, June 29, 2009


I just counted 8 many can this plant sustain?! Seriously, I need to know! It is "Jubilee" variety, which is a big fruit - up to 35 pounds each.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

copycat post

I'm following La Vida Dulce's lead, and composing a random post today.
  • I love how the girls find a toy and just play and play and play with it. Right now it's the cash register. They've been playing store for an hour now. I love how amazingly polite they are to each other while playing this game. "How may I help you today?" "Thank you!" "Have a nice day" over and over again, yet some days, it is all I can do to beg them to be civil to one another.
  • Ingrid and Ilsa finished their first swimming lesson session on Thursday; the session concluded with "safety day" -- how to safely attempt to help a friend in the pool who has gotten themselves in trouble, what to do when you are wearing a life jacket, how to get help quickly. Ingrid was the only "little" girl (under the age about 8) to volunteer to be capsized in a mini boat. She did very well! The pinnacle was the chance to take trips down the big curly-q slide and jump off of the diving board. Both girls went down the slide with gusto, and Ingrid had no fear of the diving board. Ilsa didn't want to do the diving board, but that's okay, she's only 3 1/2 after all. BUT....there were two other little girls in their class who were indecisive about attempting either. I'm not judging that fear whatsoever, BUT both the teacher and their Mom just let them stand there, hem and haw for at least 5 minutes each time. That's a total of 20 minutes that the other kids couldn't use either. The teacher was sooooo encouraging, but at what point should he have stopped and said, "You know Lulabelle (not her name obviously), why don't you try this another day." Ditto to the Mom. I'm a patient woman, but my patience was wearing thin. This was the only place that the girls could do this. They aren't allowed to go "tandem" at the Base pool, nor are they allowed to be caught at the bottom of the Base slide or diving board. What would you have done?
  • Anyone out there read the Circle Trilogy by Ted Dekker (individually known as Black, Red and White)? Weird -- VERY weird. But strangely, I can't put the book down. I'm reading for book club, and I just can't think of anything "meaningful" or "smart-sounding" to say about the book...purely entertainment. I guess that's okay!

Friday, June 26, 2009

the bread baker's apprentice arrived

I have been watching this book on Amazon for about two years now...and finally it went on sale. Even the used ones on never got this low, so I snatched it up. I'm SO excited I'll probably never leave the kitchen.

garden update

The potato and watermelon pool is thriving

The potatoes are blooming, and looking healthy

The peppers are FINALLY starting to set

Our first watermelon set this week.

Monday, June 22, 2009

my little peasant girls

Recently I crocheted these "Grandma Moses" shawls for the girls to use for dress-up play. They like to walk around the house very "woe is me" -- like little peasants. Happily, they are actually dancing joyfully in these pictures.

PS - you're probably wondering, "why in the world would Stephanie have her girls inside on such a beautiful sunny day?" That would be because it is 102 degrees outside right now.

secret keeper girl

I've only just perused this site a bit, but it sure looks helpful for moms of tweens who are battling all kinds of questions about clothing and the constant "why can't I wear that!?" whines...

Also, while you're at it, check out this petition to convince the fashion industry to stop marketing clothing to little girls that is way too grown-up...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

10 things for which i'm thankful

In no particular order...
  1. rare days of 80 degrees, drizzle and overcast in Almost Mexico, AZ
  2. Ilsa got into her specialist yesterday - the same day I called for an appointment; the usual wait is two to three months
  3. those most excellent steaks at Costco...instant Father's Day dinner on the grill
  4. Philosophy's Senorita Margarita 3-in-1 shampoo, shower gel and bubble bath.
  5. getting to swim laps for 20 minutes at the Base pool today. Woo hoo for Mama!
  6. that my bathing suit from last summer still fits so that I could swim laps for 20 minutes at the Base pool today...woo hoo for Mama again!
  7. that Chad wants chocolate chip cookies for his Father's Day dessert
  8. The Well-Trained Mind message boards
  9. Law & Order reruns on a Saturday night
  10. tomorrow is Sunday, and we still are worshiping freely here in the Good Ol' US of opposed to the smackdowns occurring in Iran as this is being typed; and I'm adding an 11th today...
  11. the Cake Wrecks blog at 11:00 pm on a Friday night; it was so funny that my stifled laughing woke Chad up through two closed doors.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

day one miquon orange book

It has been one day, and I already love this math program! Ingrid built this square (plus 2 rods) using the math concepts of halves with the Cuisinaire rods and then filled she in the blanks.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

10 things that make me laugh or smile

I've been so serious and seemingly self-righteous lately! (Argh...the heart is wicked - Jeremiah 17:9.) Lists are always my fallback on days when I just can't seem to come up with an idea. So here goes, a new list: ten things which make me laugh or smile:

  1. Pony tails when there isn't really enough hair.
  2. When the girls pull their richly shampoo-bubbled hair into a point, then look in the mirror and laugh that high-pitched giggle that no adult can mimic.
  3. Looking at Katina the Chrysalis in her little jar metamorphosing into a butterfly.
  4. Dinner on the grill.
  5. Eating that grilled dinner at the patio set.
  6. Saturday cinnamon rolls.
  7. Knowing the chores are done and settling down with a book without any guilty conscience.
  8. Seeing the girls walking "briskly" ("no running on the pool deck!") in their bathing suits...for some reason this makes me laugh. Their steps are just so bouncy and they look so tiny as compared to when they are clothed.
  9. Sunday afternoon naps.
  10. Grape Kool-Aid popsicles.

Monday, June 15, 2009

think outside of the box

Today I'm calling our local cable provider to turn off our cable for a month. We know we should just go cold turkey, but hey, it's forty year old habit. I'm sure it will be like walking through molasses to get through the millions of sales pitches and irresistible offers that the C*x Rep will throw at me. Our goal is to be cable-free. I don't believe we will be purchasing a digital antenna, either. Our goal is to utilize streaming Netflix and DVDs. We're not anti-entertainment, just for anti-force-fed media. We already get most of our news from the web anyway, and we stay informed.

For several years now, I've recommended a book by Juliet B. Schor, Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture about the unethical marketing practices corporations are using, aiming as young as infancy. Today, John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute wrote an amazing commentary about this very thing. Please take the time to read it, even if you can't devote the time to the Schor book. Here's a link to the Whitehead commentary, and an excerpt:
Children are in greater physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual danger now than at any other time during the life of this nation--and the threat is coming from a multi-billion dollar industry that is using the latest advances in psychology, anthropology, and neuroscience to transform children into profitable consumers from cradle to grave.

It's no surprise that the pre-teen demographic has become a major draw for marketers and big business. There are presently 52 million kids under the age of 12 in the United States. These kids spend $40 billion of their own money on everything from clothes and music to toys and electronics annually, but more importantly, they influence an additional $700 billion in parental spending.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

puttin' the bike back in bike book bread

Cue the trumpet fanfare: after eight months of bikelessness, Chad's bike is here! Thank-you wonderful bike guys at Fair Wheel Bikes here in Almost Mexico, AZ and Gunnar Bikes in Waterford, Wiscaaahnsin. Next major savings account project is a new iMac for Mama.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

katina the chrysalis ii

Here she is! The little thing on the bottom of the jar is her caterpillar skin. Apparently, she splits her skin while hanging from the twig, and the chrysalis shell is revealed. We must have missed this dramatic moment this morning while at VBS. It would have been neat to watch.

Click this link for info about the black swallowtail life cycle.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

10 things i'm going to do today

UPDATE at 10:38 pm when I should be in bed. I got 1, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 accomplished. No reading or crochet.... Well, I guess I didn't technically complete number 1, because I'm back on the computer again.


Thanks for the idea Kellie @ La Vida Dulce...

10 things I'm going to do today before my head hits the pillow
  1. Get off of the computer just as soon as I finish this list
  2. Read a chapter from "The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment"
  3. Read a chapter from "The Appeal" (my current John Grisham)
  4. Read a chapter from " Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad You and Your Kids"
  5. Crochet at least two rows of my summer cardigan
  6. Sit on the couch and rest
  7. Water the veggie garden
  8. Water the neighbor's veggie garden
  9. Figure out a dinner that requires next-to-no-effort
  10. Eat some chocolate

a good pizza crust recipe

Found a pretty good crust recipe at King Arthur Flour - halfway crispy/chewy. Chad still is not convinced that this is the Holy Grail of crusts. He continues his quest (well, cheers me on) for the perfect crust. He really loves the frozen California Pizza Kitchen uber-thin crust style which he claims is chewy, not crispy. I just haven't been able to duplicate this delicate balance: super thin yet chewy, not crispy.

Not to brag, but the fresh basil and Italian parsley were from our garden, as were the chopped tomatoes. No, I did not make the fresh mozzarella (although I have a recipe for it and would love to try it!).

katina the chrysalis

It looks like we will soon have a chrysalis in our jar. Katina has attached herself to the mesquite twig with a few little strands of silk. Stay tuned...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

katina the caterpillar

In Greek, Katina means "pure". Appropriate name for a butterfly, wouldn't you say?
"Jesus answered him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God."
John 3:3
I believe what we have in our little bug jar is a black swallowtail caterpillar, which will emerge (if she lives long enough the way Ilsa loves to shake the jar around -- to Ingrid's chagrine) to be a beautiful black and cobalt blue butterfly.

best of the web = stump the bookseller

Thanks to The Well Trained Mind Hive Mind (the message boards over at The Well Trained Mind), I found fun (possibly time-wasting) website: Loganberry Books (I've added the link to "neato people & stuff"). Do you have a particular book you remember as a child, but you just can't put your finger on the name? You might have sketchy plot details, just a character name perhaps, even the cover of the book is in your memory? For a nominal fee using PayPal, submit the sketchy details and the well-read people over at Loganberry will do their level best to figure it out.

Additionally, you can search through their "solved mysteries" section. I found a book in five minutes that had been bugging me for a while: The White was the story of these kids who were fleeing from these 3-legged tripod robot creatures. Scary stuff for a 4th grader, and I remembered the story quite vividly. I just couldn't remember the title; however, I searched on "tripod" and up it popped.

beliefs, values and behaviors ii - the crystal bowl

This morning Ingrid was merrily doing a puzzle in the living room at the coffee table when I heard "chink". The sound indicated crystal breakage was involved. Grrrrr.... The only crystal on that table is Orrefors: a small candy bowl that we received as a wedding gift and a set of four beautiful votive candle holders.

You see, Ingrid had tried to be creative. She had tried to prop up the picture of the puzzle that she worked on by clipping the picture with a fridge magnet onto the side of the bowl. (To save space, we always put puzzle pieces in a ziplock along with the cut-picture from the box lid. We then store all of our puzzles in baggies in a fabric bin rather than on a shelf...huge space saver.)

The chink sound came from the surprisingly sharp metal part holding the magnet onto the hefty clip. So...I ran in, saw the sizable chip out of the top of the Orrefors bowl on the table. I didn't melt down, but I was visibly disappointed. I didn't want the girls to see me upset about this as we really have tried to drum into them that things are never more important than people. However...I did state a new rule for the girls: for the time being, no more touching "glass" on the dining and living room tables. We had always been pretty liberal about this, as they had always been so careful.

So friends, what is the balance? The gift DID mean something to me. It brought me joy. It was beautiful to look at, and was one of the few pieces of crystal that I truly did cherish. So is cherishing this wrong? I don't want my girls to ever think that THINGS are more important to me than them, but neither do I want them to believe that they cannot respect the things that mean something to their parents. Help me think this through please.... it's not really a discipline issue, but a heart and beliefs issue (see my blog post about beliefs, values and behaviors).

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

beliefs, values and behaviors

A very godly man who had been a missionary for years with the Navigators in Africa spoke to our Sunday School two days ago in relation to training children. He talked about what "worldview" really means, and he gave a great definition: "A set of assumptions held consciously or unconsciously in faith about the nature of the world, and how it works." We can picture ourselves with a set of core "beliefs", from which stem those values, and finally behaviors.

He gave the example of a particular tribe in Africa (I honestly can't remember the name of the tribe - research project?). The women from this tribe were known on the campus where he worked for being obsessed with getting married. The male students were often warned by the other guys which girls were from this particular tribe; if a guy were to ask a gal from this tribe out once, she would press him to marry, and that's all he would hear from them on. (Kind of puts a new spin on getting a degree in MRS, huh?) Well, it turns out that this particular tribe believed that if a woman died unmarried, she would be doomed to wander the earth without any eternal rest. She would even be buried away from the tribal burial site. So of course, this explains her behavior. Her whole being cried out for marriage due to her fear of eternal unrest. (I won't get into the Christian view of that's not the point here...)

Therefore, if we teach our children that they are loved unconditionally by the Creator of the Universe, and they too are loved unconditionally by us as their parents, and they KNOW THIS IN THEIR BEING as a BELIEF, they are ultimately going to develop values based upon this belief, and act in behaviors based upon the belief and subsequent values. I know it's not as easy as just the way I've stated it (that's where training and discipline comes in), but I think it's a pretty great place to start! Jesus spoke of this often: clean the inside and the outside will take care of itself (in relation to hypocrites -- who ACTED great, but whose hearts were filthy and decaying, rotten, dead...) Their behavior was wonderful, but their motivations were wrong, and eventually that would boil over and become apparent in their actions.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
Matthew 23: 25 - 28
Of course, Christ is speaking about his ability to cleanse from the inside -- to cleanse us from our sins and unrighteousness. We sure need it! (Romans 3 -- I am filthy, evil, bloodthirsty, dirty, with words like asps and vipers and all.) This must be my goal as a parent when it comes to discipline and training. To aim for the heart of the matter, not the behavior. It changes everything.

I hope I did him justice -- he did speak for over an hour after all...

The picture of Ingrid above is particularly appropriate -- she caught a caterpillar in our yard a week ago, so we purchased a little bug-observation jar at Target with the hope that we will be able to observe the transformation through chrysalis to butterfly. Aren't we as parents hoping the same for our children? Our heart's desire for Ingrid and Ilsa is that they would recognize their need for salvation, grasp hold with faith and accept Christ's cleansing! Just like "Katina" -- Ingrid's OWN NAME for her little critter -- it is Greek for pure! Amen!

Monday, June 1, 2009

just for fun = how the "up" house could really fly

How Pixar’s Up House Could Really Fly

Posted using ShareThis


I'm a thoroughly seasoned homeschooling mom of oh, one week now, and I'm already showing frustration to my daughter. No, the shine hasn't worn off of the excitement. And of course, this is not an issue of "wanting" or "not wanting" to do it. It is what we have chosen to do for a lot of very good reasons, and I know there will be "dayz like theez..."

I DO KNOW that this is a ME issue not a THEE issue. I need to yield myself to the Holy Spirit and show that fruit that is there...I'm just so fallen!

It started this morning during reading. We're starting to do two-vowel blends. The girls both have their short vowels down pat (I didn't want to move on until that was firm). Ingrid just doesn't pay attention (frustration rises). At first I calmly tell her, "read what is there, don't add any letters." She starts guessing a word even though it is just a letter combo like "s-a" or "s-i". She then adds in a "t" or an "m". Too much information, I know, but I just HAD to get this off of my chest and actually get away before I yelled.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit." Galatians 5:22 - 25

cool double crochet edging technique

This nifty technique eliminates the need for a turning chain at the beginning of a row of double crochet, and makes for a much cleaner edge. Thanks to my virtual friend yarnjeannie, who posted the link to the Youtube tip on her blog.

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