Sunday, February 28, 2010

In Our Home ~ February 28, 2010

1- Because we are without a vehicle due to ours "dying" while we were on vacation, we're continuing to be home-bodies. But we're getting some things done around here that we've put off for awhile.

2- One of those things is sorting books. I've culled about two banana boxes worth of books from our bookshelves. We still have a ton of books, but now the shelves aren't as jam-packed. It looks (and feels) much better.

3- Carl sent out his latest edition of "Carl's Capers." This is his monthly newsletter/magazine that he writes to make money to pay for flight school. It's about six pages long and includes what we've done in the prior month, a recipes, a book review, funny sayings, computer tips, photos, household hints, etc. A year's email subscription is only $12.

4- We finished building the quinzee that's in the backyard. The kids have been having a riot playing in it, but it's a bit warm today. It's going to be sad to watch it melt. :( We had fun building it and playing in it.

5- I've been doing some research on one of our latest projects. More details coming soon!

6- The Olympics have been on television the past two weeks. We've spent a few evenings watching the atheletes compete. That's always fun, although we all agreed that we hate to see someone wipe out who has trained so hard for so long.

7- Yesterday we went to World Visions's travelling exhibit on AIDS. It's called "World Vision Experience: AIDS." I really didn't know what to expect, so I was pleasantly surprised at how well-done and well-organized it was. The exhibit was visited was held at a local church, and it was free to attend. What the experience involves is the stories of four children. After you sign in, you will be given the choice of which child's story you'd like to listen to. (You may go through the exhibit again to hear the other stories.) Two of the stories are a bit more graphic, so we steered away from them since we had our kids with us. We listened to the stories of Emmanuel and Babirye. They gave each of us a set of headphones and a custom-made MP3-type player with the child's story on it. The exhibit is made up of different "rooms" separated by curtains. The MP3 player would tell us part of the story and then direct us to walk through the curtain to the next "room." This made the exhibit rather quiet because everyone was listening to their headsets.

Emmanuel was a little boy whose parents died of AIDS. But he had his big brother to look after him. His big brother was nine. These two boys were completely on their own. Relatives blamed them and would not allow them to stay with them. In fact, one of the aunts even took almost everything the two boys had before she kicked them out of her life. So tragic.

Babirye was a twin girl who had AIDS. She got it from her mother. Her father died of the disease, and her uncle came to get her mother when she got very sick. This left the girls alone. A few months later, their mother came back. She had found medicine to help, and now she helps others who have AIDS.

This was a sobering exhibit, but one I'm glad we took the time to experience.

For more information, check out

8- We're continuing to plug away at our learnin' lessons. This is the time of year when I really get anxious to start completing some of the subjects we're studying this year. I keep having to remind myself to slow down.

9- We said goodbye to a good friend this past week. It appears that a heart attack is the way God choose to bring Bill Winglar home to Himself. Bill was a godly man who will be very missed. He was a fixture in our church. Not only was he still in good physical shape, but mentally, he was still very sharp as well. I will always regret not having him over for dinner to hear his stories of when he was a boy growing up with my Grandpa. Good intentions run amuck. Let it be a reminder to me to not put off until tomorrow what I can do today!

10- Wayne started taking pictures of all the things in our home, for insurance reasons. What a time-consuming, huge task! One I'll be glad to have behind us!

11- That's it for this edition of "In Our Home." May you have a great week.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Poem of Regret: To My Grown-Up Son

I read this poem for the first time a few days ago, and it brought tears to me eyes. What a poem of regret. May I never echo her lament!

To My Grown-Up Son

My hands were busy through the day,
I didn't have much time to play

The little games you asked me to.
I didn't have much time for you.

I'd wash your clothes, I'd sew and cook,
But when you'd bring your picture book

And ask me, please, to share your fun,
I'd say, "A little later, Son."

I'd tuck you in all safe at night,
and hear your prayers, turn out the light,

Then tiptoe softly to the door.
I wish I'd stayed a minute more.

For life is short, and years rush past,
A little boy grows up so fast.

No longer is he at your side.
His precious secrets to confide.

The picture books are put away.
There are no children's games to play,

No good-night kiss, no prayers to hear.
That all belongs to yesteryear.

My hands once busy, now lie still
The days are long and hard to fill.

I wish I might go back and do
The little things you asked me to.

~~Alice E Chase

What is an EFA?

This past Christmas my husband and I had a difficult time coming up with Christmas presents for our three kids. Normally we give each child one nice homemade gift. In the past we've made them quilts, afghans, shelves, pretty pencil holders, etc. But nothing struck us this year.

After thinking about it for quite awhile, we decided that once a week we'd make it a point to do something really fun/interesting as a family. Now, we're not a family that's going in a million directions at once. We do things as a family a lot. Most nights you'll find us all home together, unless we're at church together. But often we'll each be doing our own thing. I'll be writing a letter while Wayne pays the bills. Carl enjoys playing with his flight simulator, and Alicia and Justin manage to keep themselves entertained playing games or whatever.

It's no secret that our kids are getting older, and we didn't want to look back on these precious years with regret. So, we decided that once a week we'd all do something a bit "out-of-the-ordinary" together as a family. And so the EFA was born!

EFA stands for Eefsting Family Adventure. And we've had some adventures already. Sometimes it's hard to know what counts as an EFA and what doesn't, especially when we're on vacation. But some of the things we've done since Christmas include: playing racquetball, attending Handel's Messiah, touring a battleship and a submarine, snowshoeing, attending a conference with Buddy Davis, building a quinzee, watching the Olympics, going on an "owl prowl," and watching a movie (when we were too sick to do anything really fun).

Some weeks we do more than one fun thing. Like this week, for example. We finished building our quinzee, watched the Olympics together, and Wayne is planning on taking the kids to an indoor football game tonight. (He got four tickets from someone at work. I opted to stay home and get some work done.)

And so that's how the EFA got started and what it's all about. And I know we're all enjoying spending time together doing stuff as a family. It was one of the best Christmas presents I think I've ever given or received!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thankful for a Quinzee!

Yes, I'm thankful for a quinzee! You see, as a homeschool mom, I hope that all of our odd projects will turn out to be winners, but honestly, life doesn't quite work like that.

Take our hot dog/sun block experiment for example. It sounded great. Get two hot dogs. Put sunblock on one of them. Put both hot dogs in the sun. See what happens. What happened, you ask? Well, we forgot about them, and the next day our dog ate both of them.

Now, what's a mom supposed to do?

Poison Control Center: Hello. This is the poison control center. What is the nature of your call?

Mom: Please promise me that you won't submit this to Reader's Digest's funny column.

PCC: Oh, I can tell this is going to be good. What happened?

Mom: Well, my dog ingested some sunblock.

PCC: How big is the dog and how much sunblock did he ingest?

Mom: He's about 60 pounds, and he ingested all the sunblock that was on the hot dog.

PCC: Ma'am, how much sunblock do you normally put on your hot dog?

Mom: Oh, a little bit more than ketchup because we rubbed it all in.

PCC (After I explained our little experiment): Well, ma'am. I don't think the sunblock will hurt him as much as eating a hot dog that's been sitting out for over 24 hours.

Ah yes, the failed hot dog experiment...

But the quinzee. Now that is a success! We started it a week ago today. First we made a huge pile of snow. The kids thought I was crazy. (So, what's new?!?) They hated doing all that hard work. When we finished our pile was about 5' high. But before we had a chance to dig it out, the weather warmed up to the mid to upper 30s. So, we put the digging on hold until it got colder. Finally, two days ago the temperature dropped, and we put another layer of snow on it to get it back up to about 6' tall. Again, the kids questioned my sanity ... Until we started digging. And digging. And digging!

The kids spent quite a bit of time playing in it today. They love being out in it. I spent some time in it yesterday with Carl. It's big enough for all three kids to fit in with our dog, Scout. I haven't had all three kids in with me yet, but it's probably big enough for that.

And so, yes, I am thankful for a quinzee. I think it proved to my kids that I'm not totally off my rocker. I know after that bad hot dog experiment, they were definitely beginning to wonder!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

What I'm Reading - Square Foot Gardening

While we were on vacation recently I stopped by the local Dollar General. They often carry inexpensive books, but I rarely, if ever, see anything worth purchasing. However, there was a book that caught my eye this time. I knew the first edition was sitting on my shelf at home, and I also knew I had learned quite a bit from that first edition. But this one didn't appear to be just a remake with the same text and updated color on the same photos. It appeared to have new content. New ideas. Better ideas.

And since it was only $5, I put it in my shopping cart. ~smile~
I'm so glad I did. I have thoroughly been enjoying Mel Bartholomew's "All New Square Foot Gardening." I can't even begin to list the major improvements over his first book, and I enjoyed that one! He has learned a lot since he wrote his first book, and the new one is much more simple. The directions are easy-to-follow. The diagrams make sense. And the concepts seem basic enough. It made me wonder why no one thought of this eons ago.
Mel's gardening method involves making raised beds 4' by 4'. And then, instead of filling these raised beds with regular dirt or topsoil, Mel has a special "mix" that he recommends using. It's composed of compost, vermiculite, and peat moss all mixed together. The advantages of doing it this way are numerous. One of the biggest advantages being that it's the perfect mix, so you won't have to worry about testing the pH. Another huge advantage is that you'll be starting with a weed-free garden. The only weeds you should have will be the ones that blow in.
Of course, the book goes into much more detail than I can here. Mel describes how to do plantings, how to arrange your garden so that it functions better and so that it's more pleasing to the eye. He describes how to keep pests at bay and how to train vegetables and fruits (even watermelon) to grow up on a trellis-type thing.
If you've never gardened before, read this book first. You won't need a tiller or all the big fancy gardening tools. Just a few things you can easily pick up at the dollar store. If you already garden, you will also appreciate Mel Bartholomew's "All New Swaure Foot Gardening." It is likely to seriously change the way you approach gardening!
Here's a link to his book on Amazon. I don't get a kickback for this, but this way you'll know what the book looks like and you'll know what other people are saying about the book:

My Youngest Turns Six!

Ah, today my youngest turns six. Last year when he turned five, he held up his five pudgy fingers and said, "Now I'm a real handful!" This past year has been another year of delight in watching him grow and mature.

In our home we have a few different birthday traditions. The first is the Birthday Queen. She comes in the middle of the night and decorates the bedroom of the birthday child. Banners, balloons, and streamers great the birthday child. And today was no different for Justin. She will come again tonight to reclaim the banners and streamers. The balloons will stay for the kids to play with.

Another tradition is the birthday dinner. At some point throughout the week, I like to make one meal with all their favorite foods. Last night we enjoyed homemade pizza, homemade breadsticks, canned beans (his Grandma's secret recipe!), and canned peaches. For dessert we enjoyed rootbeer floats in good quaffing mugs! But the thing that sets a birthday dinner apart from other dinners is that we use goblets to drink from. This adds a touch that really says, "I'm special!"

Another tradition is the birthday cake. We don't get a store-bought one. (Although one year I was too sick to make one, so we resorted to a store-bought one that year.) I make the kids' cakes myself. It's not a matter of fancy decorating. It's more a matter of shaping. Figuring out how to shape a cake into something each child has enjoyed a lot lately. For example, the year we got a swingset, my daughter's cake was in the shape of a swingset.

The past couple weeks we have been working on a quinzee. We made a huge pile of snow, and we are now in the process of digging it out. (It's sort of like an igloo other than you dig it out rather than pile blocks of snow.) So, Justin's birthday cake will be a quinzee. I'm planning on baking it in my batter bowl. Flipping the cake upside down, and frosting the whole thing white. A chocolate cookie of some sort will be placed on it to resemble the door. Then I'll sprinkle the whole thing with coconut to resemble loose snow. I'm thinking maybe a flag coming out the top would add a bit more color. Usually birthday cakes are a bit more colorful than this, but there's not a lot of color in a white pile of snow!

Well, I'm going to go enjoy my birthday boy and start working on my "indoor quinzee!"