Wednesday, October 27, 2010


We enjoyed a late fall visit from good friends last week. They came from Indiana to our house - the first time ever.

Nathaniel's friend is an avid fisherman. Nathaniel had won a free dozen bait minnows at a community event this summer, and immediately thought of his friend.

While his friend was here, we picked up the minnows, borrowed fishing poles from the Wauconda Park District, and headed off to the fishing pier.

The weather was beautiful, but the fish weren't biting. Nathaniel, who didn't know how to operate the fishing pole, had some theories as to why. His friend also had some theories. I wonder as to whose were more accurate?

Either way, the biggest attraction for all five boys were those minnows, swimming around in the big orange bucket. The younger three had a hard time keeping their hands out of the bucket, even after repeated admonishments from the older boys that "just putting your hands in the water will kill them! So will touching them!"

I've got to give my girlfriend credit. She helped Nathaniel bait his line, taught him how to use the pole and cast the line. I watched from a safe distance and managed to avoid touching any of the fishing equipment or, more importantly, the minnows.

John Keats

...Swarms of minnows show their little heads,
Staying their waxy bodies 'gainst the streams,
To taste the luxury of sunny beams
Tempered with coolness.
How they ever wrestle
With their own sweet delight, and ever nestle
Their silver bellies on the pebbly sand.
If you but scantily hold out the hand,
That very instant not one will remain;
But turn your eye, and they are there again.
The ripples seem right glad to read those cresses,
And cool themselves among the em'rald tresses;
The while they cool themselves, they freshness give,
And moisture, that the bowery green may live.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

When Mother Reads Aloud

When Mother reads aloud, the past
Seems real as every day;

I hear the tramp of armies vast,

I see the spears and lances cast,

I join the trilling fray;

Brave knights and ladies fair and proud

I meet when Mother reads aloud.

When Mother reads aloud, far lands

Seem very near and true;

I cross the desert's gleaming sands,
Or hunt the jungle's prowling bands,

Or sail the ocean blue.

Far heights, whose peaks the cold mists shroud,
I scale, when Mother read
s aloud.

When I first read this poem, a face popped into my mind. I enjoy reading to my children, and they enjoy it too. But one of my children seems to engage in a way the others do not.

Perhaps it's because he's the youngest, and has been listening to me read for several hours a day since he was one-year-old, when I made him sit on my lap while I read to his older siblings. There was no way I was going to use my precious nap time for school!

Perhaps it's because he has a vivid imagination. Or perhaps because he's, well, himself.

Isaac, my seven-year-old, constantly amazes me with the connections he makes, the vocabulary he uses, and the context he has for life.

What other five-year-old would recruit his friends to play "the North and the South," complete with flags for both sides (fairly accurately drawn too)? What other seven-year-old would say, "That news distresses me!" at the dinner table? What other seven-year-old, when asking for a short bedtime story, pulls out the Usborne Book of World History so I can reread two pages of history to him?

In a world this vast, I'm sure there are others. But let me share with you why I think my little boy is unique.

His older brother and sister are studying world history this year, and one morning, their Usborne Encyclopedia of World History was sitting on the coffee table after school.

Isaac spotted it. "Oh, this is so cool!" he said, and started looking through it. Pretty soon, I hear him yelling, "MOM! Come here! You gotta see this!"

I go into the living room, and he points to the picture at the right.

"Isn't this neat, Mom? I was just looking at this page about the first cities, and they have a pyramid in it! One that reminds me of the ancient Egyptians and the Aztecs! Isn't that neat?"

I stammered something intelligible in reply. "That is neat. Archeologists call it a ziggurat, and that's a picture of Ur, Abraham's home town."

(Just in case you think I'm smart, I had just read those pages to his siblings in school a few moments before.)

One of my friends, after hearing this story, told me, "You have a treasure!" I agree - each of my children is a treasure. And I having a feeling that trying to teach Isaac is going to be like trying to stay ahead of an avalanche.

But I think I'm up for the challenge.

Poetry Wednesday

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

There Isn't Time

It's amazing how many clocks are in our house - all reminding me how quickly time is passing.

Today, I'm trying to ignore the headache I've been nursing for about 36 hours. I told my husband this morning that I think I'm stressed because of everything I have going on this week.

He very nicely said, "Duh."

As we started our fall activities, my very-wise-dear husband pointed out to me I have too much on my plate. Yes. I admit it. I do. But what could I give up?

Not teaching my children at home.
Not leading women's Bible study at church.
Not attending Bible Study Fellowship.
Not singing on Sunday mornings when asked.
Not my Shaklee business.
Not my writing/video business.
Not my chamber involvement.

So. In the future, I have agreed to not say 'yes' to anything without discussing it with him first.

In the past, I was the one saying to him, "Please do not say yes to anything without discussing it with me first." I guess the old adage is true: "What goes around, comes around."

The ongoing struggle - managing my time wisely, managing my energy wisely, managing my family, home, church activities wisely.

This week, I give myself an "F." Hopefully, next week will be better.

There Isn't Time
Eleanor Farjeon

There isn't time, there isn't time
To do the things I want to do,
With all the mountain-tops to climb,
And all the woods to wander through,
And all the seas to sail upon,
And everywhere there is to go,
And all the people, every one
Who lives upon the earth, to know.
There's only time, there's only time
To know a few, and do a few,
And then sit down and make a rhyme
About the rest I want to do.

Enjoy more Poetry Wednesday selections here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Red Pyramid

My older children and I have greatly enjoyed Percy Jackson and the Olympians, a series of books about the Greek gods in contemporary world by Rick Riordan. So, when my son came home from a library book club excited about a new series of books “Just like Percy Jackson Mom, but with the Egyptian gods!”, I looked forward to reading the book too.

The Red Pyramid is the first book in The Kane Chronicles, the newest series by Rick Riordan. My son read it first, and loved it. I read it next, and was horrified.

Don’t get me wrong: Riordan is a wonderful writer. He writes The Kane Chronicles from the perspective of Sadie and Carter, two siblings who don’t see much of each other. Carter travels the world with his father, while Sadie lives with her grandparents in London. On their biannual visit to Sadie, Carter and his father take Sadie to a museum. Something strange happens, and Carter’s dad vanishes. Carter and Sadie escape, and end up discovering some pretty strange stuff about their parents - and their heritage as descendants of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs.

Riordan included some great themes about courage, family and loyalty in this book. So what horrifies me? The relationship between Carter, Sadie and the Egyptian gods.

Carter and Sadie discover they have great power because they each have an Egyptian god inside them. They travel great distances in short amounts of time, they converse with these gods in their minds, and learn the gods’ perspective on world history.

Their experiences are too close to reality for my taste. And not enough reality as well. At the end of the book, the children take off their Egyptian amulets, and walk away from the Egyptian gods, for now.

Please understand the perspective from which I am writing. As a Christian, I believe that there is real evil in this world. I believe Satan is real, and that demons are real. And I believe that demons can inhabit people. And from what I’ve read in the Bible, and from what I’ve read about other people’s experiences with demons, it is impossible to just decide to walk away from them when they’ve started to inhabit you.

The experiences Carter and Sadie have in The Red Pyramid are eerily similar to experiences I have read former witch doctors describe in other books. That fact alone is enough for me to caution parents and children greatly against this book and this series.

Does this mean I will forbid my children from reading them? No, but I will require that I read it too and we discuss the book when we’re done. I would rather they know what other people are reading and talking about and what a Biblical perspective of that is, than to completely shelter them from it. And, I will require them to read the books about witch doctors I mentioned earlier, so they can see the similarities themselves.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Shattered Silence

It took a lot of courage for Melissa Moore to write about her childhood and her relationship with her father in Shattered Silence. She is the daughter of the "Happy Face" serial killer, who killed women up and down the West Coast.

My heart ached for Melissa, as she remembered loving - and fearing - her father throughout her childhood. She tells of her parents' divorce, her mother's poverty, living in her grandmother's basement. Her mother's remarriage to an abusive man, and she and her siblings attempts to escape from their home.

That Melissa has endured so much, and is able to write about it without bitterness, is amazing to me. She has narrowly escaped the cycle of abuse, taking control of her own life and coming to grips with the fact she is not responsible for her father's crimes. She also realizes that she's not responsible for her mother's choices, even though they greatly affected her.

Shattered Silence is the story of a girl who had to fight her way through every step of life to find herself and a future not defined by her past.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


I am enjoying a rare moment of quiet in my house. As you can see the three children home are eating lunch, reading books at the same time. And it is lovely.

This morning was a series of door slamming, baby crying (not mine, a friend's), feet running, children crying (mine and my friend's), boom box playing loudly noises.

Every time I get irritated by the noise, I remind myself that soon - sooner than I can imagine - my house will be quiet. Very quiet. My children will be grown, and it will be just my husband and I.

I can hardly imagine it.

In the meantime, I live in a world of extremes.

James Whitcomb Riley

A little boy once played so loud
That the thunder, up in a thundercloud,
Said, "Since I can't be heard, why, then
I'll never, never thunder again!"

And a little girl once kept so still
That she heard a fly on the window sill
Whisper and say to a ladybird, -
"She's the stillest child I ever heard!"

(As an aside, both my boys are loud, but only one of my girls is quiet. However, that doesn't keep me from enjoying this poem!)

Read more poetry here